Thursday, August 31, 2017
Friends, it is with great joy that I share this book with you today. I had the privilege of meeting Ruth Chou Simons at the Influence Conference a couple years ago, and then she so sweetly agreed to be a part of my Sisters of Influence series. She is the real deal, y'all. She is kind and genuine and loves her family. Not only is she a wonderful wife and mama (to six boys!), she is a follower of Christ who expresses her love for Him through beautiful paintings and the most lovely of words.
If you follow Ruth on Instagram, you will get a glimpse into her daily life as she shares about what it's like to honor and glorify God in the midst of everyday mundane tasks. She helps shed a light on the importance of preaching truth to our own hearts every. single. day.
Gracelaced: Discovering Timeless Truths Through Seasons of the Heart is an incredible journey through each season of our soul. The seasons we experience each year- winter, spring, summer, and fall- all have a purpose. We know that, but we all still have our favorite seasons and the ones we'd care to never experience again. And our souls are just the same. Sometimes we are in a winter season where things are bleak. Other times we find ourselves in summer where everything is bright and new. Whatever season we find ourselves in, we can know this- God is good. While the seasons change, He never does. His word promises that He is faithful and true.
With beautiful paintings and practical questions that get right to the point, Ruth takes the reader on a journey through the soul to empower us to not only remember His truths, but apply them to our daily lives so that they mean something.
Ruth writes, "I have a theory that the most joyful people in the world fight to rejoice...Rejoicing is to the fighter as seedlings to an ashen mountainside. It's a choice to thrive. And, I'm learning, it's also a purposeful prerequisite...Rejoicing is the seed-release party we offer back to the Lord as a faith-filled response to our sufferings."
I mean. That'll preach. I'm oh so grateful for Ruth's words and for the timeliness of this gorgeous book. It's not just a devotional, it's a beautiful piece of art that I will treasure! I highly recommend you add it to your library, friends. And when you do, tell me so we can talk about what season of the heart we find ourselves in at the moment. No matter where you're at, let's rejoice in the One through whom all blessings flow.
*I received an advanced copy of this book in exchange for my honest review, but then I bought several copies for my friends. :)
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor;
he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all who mourn;
to grant to those who mourn in Zion—
to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit;
that they may be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
They shall build up the ancient ruins;
they shall raise up the former devastations;
they shall repair the ruined cities,
the devastations of many generations.
This is what courage looks like. To shine the light in the darkness. To speak kind words and listen when you want to prove your point. To see the health of the relationship as more important than being right. To walk justly and love mercy. We are called to love one another.
Sadly the events in Charlottesville did not surprise me. They did not shock me. They didn't tear me up and mess with me like others have. Because sadly, this type of violence and outrage has come to be expected in our broken and fallen world.
The literal only hope in this world is Jesus. Plain and simple. I'm clinging to Him and asking how He can make me an agent of change right where I am, because that's all I know to do.
I posted the above on Instagram and Facebook yesterday because I didn't really want to write this blog post. I'm tired of writing blog posts like this. I am very tempted to throw around blame and shame and point fingers, and I don't want to pretend like the world we are living in is anything but crazy, either. There are countries heralding the termination of Down Syndrome, a foster care crisis in our state, and the Syrian refugee crisis is unprecedented and heartbreaking.
So when I heard about the events in Charlottesville, I was surprised for a hot second, but then reminded of the world we are living in. It is one of fear. Of very clearly drawn lines. Lines of intolerance. Lines of hatred. It is sadly a world of violence. And when I remembered those things, the events of this past weekend did not surprise me, but rather incited a deep sadness, which in turn incited anger.
Throughout the weekend and into Monday, I attempted to avoid the news. I didn't want to be depressed or afraid. But then I remembered that I have a responsibility as a citizen of heaven to know what's going on in my world so that I know what to say when I'm praying to the Most High God. And while I have greatly limited my exposure to news in the past few days to protect my fragile heart, what's amazing about all of these events is that God is never shocked by them, because He is omnipotent. He knew the way things would change in our country and how the climate would shift and escalate to these unthinkable heights. He knew that we would turn on each other in the midst of placing feelings and the desire to be right above relationship and genuinely loving others. He knew that we would be deceived by slick political agendas that don't seem "that bad" and that we would fall prey to thinking that we were victims of someone else's plans. He knew.
And while I know that He is not surprised, I know that this behavior- this senseless pride, fear-mongering, hatred, cowardice, and injustice both saddens and enrages Him. And it is the same for me, too. My heart aches knowing that it's only going to get worse. My heart aches knowing that our future children will be brought into this world. My heart is enraged with the senseless pride of those who refuse to call sin what it is and rationalize the violent behavior of others. My heart is heavy knowing that this will not end this side of heaven. My heart is maddened by the silence of many of my Christian brothers and sisters with a voice who could shine a light in the darkness.
But what's really scary? What really makes me want to curl into the fetal position and live in a compound with my best friends and never venture into the public space? The darkness in my own heart. I found that as I read the news yesterday- even thought it was for a brief moment- hate was in my heart. Misdirected, misguided, wrongly placed hate. Hate for another person. Hate for someone that is created in the image of God, even though they may not know it or act like it. And that scared me, friends. It scared me a lot.
"I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Here's the thing: there is darkness in all of us. There is big bad scary hate deep down in us whether we acknowledge it or not. There is bias and there are micro-agressions and there are perceptions and there are past experiences. But there is also grace and mercy and love and peace and kindness and forgiveness- all at the foot of the cross. We find His tender lovingkindness there, because His Son bore our sin and shame and said it is finished. All of that hate and fear? Conquered. That prejudice and bias and pride? Overtaken by the blood of the Lamb.
So where do I go from here? I remember that God is good at being God. I encourage my soul and ask myself how I love the mess out of the people in front of me-even those who think differently. Especially those who think differently than me. Why love those who are different than me? Because I'm getting reallllllly tired of being around people just like me. Like really tired. I need a shake-up. The Christian bubble is starting to feel claustrophobic and suffocating. I love my Christian friends. But I come alive when I can be with others who are different than me, because they challenge me to stand for what I believe in and put some action behind it. They challenge me to have an answer for what I believe in and to not just speak in Christianese and hope that they catch on. They challenge me to love no matter what.
Anyone else tired of the fake crap, or is it just me? There's a broken world out there, and every single one of us has the power to do something about it. The question is whether you'll be content to sit where you're at and just pray about it or if you'll do something. Wake up, people. We only get one shot at this thing; this isn't the dress rehearsal. Let's go love like there's no tomorrow, because there very well may not be one.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
Eek! It is August! The past couple mornings have had a definite "chill" in the air and have been much cooler, which makes me all the more excited for fall and the cooler weather to come that will stay. :) It is hard to believe that summer break is already gone, but I was working this summer, so it feels a little different than summers past. Rory and I had a few little things we wanted to do, see, and explore around Athens while the college students were gone, but time got away from us! We didn't spend as much time downtown as we said we would, but that's ok. Downtown Athens will always be there! And maybe, just maybe, this fall we will take advantage of some of the breaks that the students have and enjoy some time in our beloved Classic City. Here's what's going on these days:
snacking (on): Popcorn. Always popcorn. I bought Rory a Whirly Pop for Christmas, and we use it at least three times a week. We finally ordered some popcorn in bulk from Amazon, because it is always a very sad day when we run out at our house!
anticipating: The cooler weather! I was staring longly at my sweaters and jackets in my closet the other day, haha.
borrowing: Well, with all of this home reno stuff we have done through the summer, we were borrowing a sander and ladder from our friends, but we've since returned it.
admiring: I have been admiring some the grace with which so many of my faraway mentors carry themselves. It has been a privilege to be on the launch team for Ruth Chou Simons' new book, Gracelaced, and the more I get to "know" her, the more I respect her. She's the real deal, folks. Be sure to check out all the wonderful pre-order goodies and order it before it comes out on September 1!
purchasing: A couple weeks ago, a local consignment store got a big Lularoe haul. I'd been avoiding all the Lularoe parties online but was interested in purchasing some, and I got three pairs of their amazingly wonderfully comfy leggings for TEN BUCKS EACH. Talk about a steal. Thank you Jesus for consignment stores.
What are you up to these days?
Linking up with Anne and Shea today!
Tuesday, August 1, 2017
Wow. It's the first day of August. I am tempted to be sad because summer has flown by so quickly, but I am honestly really excited about the fall and the new beginnings of this upcoming season. Last month I literally didn't touch my Powersheets. I just couldn't really think about all that I wanted to do and honestly wanted a little bit of a break from productivity to just be. I still got things done, but I just didn't check things off. This month, I'm starting fresh, and I'm excited about the goals the Lord has laid on my heart.
Here's what I was working on in June (and consequently, July)
continue expanding and revising Already Chosen
read three books
-The Turquoise Table
paint/project day at the house!
work out 3x a week
call a friend
write someone a note
work on my book manuscript
pray through my prayer cards
read the word
encourage someone else
preach to my own heart
The Nitty Gritty
July was a fun month. I took a step back from my book manuscript and honestly just continued to pray that the Lord would give me the words and vision for the book. It was good for my soul, and I'm ready now with fresh perspective and new insights. I was able to finish reading two out of the three books, which was good. We also were able to get our projects done at the house, and I am so very pleased with how it all turned out! It feels like a new house, and it is feeling more and more like ours each day.
What I Was Grateful for in July
July 11 was our second wedding anniversary, which was oh so fun. The week prior, we got to spend time at the beach with Rory's college friends and their wives and kids. It was fun to be with friends not only because it was the beach, but also because we were eager to get away! Getting away with them is always something that we look forward to. In July, I also hosted two in-person oils events, and both were so fun! I really enjoy getting to share my love of oils and holistic care with others, and I count it a privilege to help others on their wellness journeys. Since we are in the spirit of home improvement, I also decluttered a bunch through our home. We've (and really just me, haha) still got lots of things to sort through, but I'm taking baby steps to tidiness! This summer I have also been a part of a new Bible study group, and I am extremely grateful to have a community of women around me who love Jesus and love the Word.
four online classes
two in-person oils events or one-on-ones
finish part three of my book
have our new neighbors over for dinner
work out 5x a week
complete Bible study homework
write someone a note
read the Word
encourage someone else
What are you working on right now, friends?