Wednesday, December 19, 2012

labor of love


Mary has been on my mind so much lately.

Last year, I wrote a post about her on Christmas Eve. I still can't imagine what was going through her heart and mind, but one thing is so evident: she trusted the Lord. 

And Mary said to the angel, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?" And the angel answered her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy -- the Son of God..."  
"For nothing will be impossible with God." And Mary said, "Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word." (Luke 1:34-35, 37-38) 

As a teenager, she trusted the Lord with everything. What a huge feeling - to know that she was going to basically be wrapped up in the Trinity - that the Holy Spirit, the Most High (God), and the Son of God were all somewhat in her midst. It must have felt overwhelming, but I wonder if she felt peaceful in the midst of it all? I'm guessing there were moments when she panicked, but she was obedient. I hope that whenever the Lord asks something of me that my response is always obedience and willingness, even if it doesn't make sense.

Just after this in Luke 1:45, Elizabeth says to Mary,
"And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord."
Mary believed and trusted, even when it didn't make sense. There was nothing to compare it to and no one who had been in her shoes, but she still trusted. She was a major part of something that literally changed the world. Jesus forever altered the course of human events when He came, lived a perfect life, died on the cross, and was raised from the dead after three days. He was and is the Savior, redeemer, perfecter, healer, and so many more things...

I went to Andrew Peterson's "Behold the Lamb of God" concert Sunday night at the Ryman and was blown away. He's such a wonderful songwriter/storyteller and his Christmas album tells the story of Jesus so clearly. The song that really got me was "Labor of Love." It's about Mary, and I just couldn't help but cry as I heard her story so beautifully put to words.

It was not a silent night
There was blood on the ground
You could hear a woman cry
In the alleyways that night
On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean
And the cobblestones were cold
And little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph at her side
Callused hands and weary eyes
There were no midwives to be found
In the streets of David's town
In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed
Shafts of moonlight on his face
But the baby in her womb
He was the maker of the moon
He was the Author of the faith
That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain
It was a cold sky above
But for the girl on the ground in the dark
With every beat of her beautiful heart
It was a labor of love
For little Mary full of grace
With the tears upon her face
It was a labor of love

I've walked with my friends and family through great joy and great anguish this year. We have hope because Jesus came that night. No matter what you've faced or will face, there's always hope in Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Jesus is so much better

I really struggle with fear.

At their core, fear and being afraid are two different things - I'm not afraid of being by myself, of bugs or snakes, but I do struggle with fear.

Fear of the unknown.
Fear of failure.
Fear of people knowing what my insecurities are.

You get the point.

I think I do a good job at hiding my fears... they're usually covered up with great conversation or laughter to distract me from the fact that I feel at such a loss. I don't want to be the girl who looks like she has it all together, because I know that I don't. Today at lunch, I was talking with a new friend about how easily Satan loves to allow us to be taken captive in our thought life, especially when it comes to fear. It's easy to dwell on those things and allow them to distract you from what God has called you to do. Those fears come in many different forms.

Fear of acceptance.
Fear of messing up.
Fear of being inadequate.

I think the last one is where I'm currently struggling the most. I just feel inadequate most days to walk confidently in the calling that the Lord has placed on my life. I know that I'm right where I'm supposed to be (which is another story for another post), but I often feel inadequate. I so often think to myself, "Who, me?" and "Are you sure you picked the right girl for this?" but God is so faithful. He continually shows himself to be more than enough. Last weekend, Beth Moore said something I've heard her say before, and it really stuck with me...

Jesus is so much better than He has to be. You really can trust Him.

This is the absolute truth. It's found all throughout Scripture, and it's there for us to claim. In those moments when I feel fear creeping in, I am trying to remind myself that I can trust in Jesus. He has the power to overcome all of my fears, and He has led me to the place where I am. I'm trusting Him with all of my fears, inadequacies, struggles, and joys.

I'm not inadequate, but I can't do it without Him.
It's not about me, so it doesn't matter whether or not I'm accepted, as long as I'm walking in obedience.
I'm going to mess up, but He's going to be right there to pick me up when I fall.

All of this is so much easier said than done, but I know that it's truth I can claim and walk in, and so can you.

I waited patiently for the LORD;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
He drew me up from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the LORD.
Blessed is the man who makes
the LORD his trust,
who does not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after a lie!
(Psalm 40:1-4)

Thursday, August 09, 2012

the shepherd

I've struggled with what to write next... how to put my thoughts into words, and how to let my writing point to the One who gave me the words in the first place.

Right now, I'm in a place of rest. I graduated from seminary in May with a Masters degree, but now I'm waiting. Waiting on the Lord to open the right door. I heard a pastor preach through Psalm 23 one Sunday this summer, and I keep reflecting back on that passage. It's so familiar, but it's easy to disregard it on the good days. The Psalmist wrote, "He makes me lie down in green pastures..." and I honestly never thought about its meaning until this summer. Shepherds know their sheep. They know when they need water, when they need rest, and they know when one has wandered away. The pastor shared that sometimes a shepherd will strain the tendon of a sheep's leg so that the sheep has to lie down and rest.

This is exactly where I find myself. The Lord has given me a season of rest and lie down in green pastures, and it's hard. I'm a "doer." I love to be busy, I work well in high-stress situations, and I have a complete fear of missing out (also affectionately known as FOMO). I've found myself at home with my parents over the last couple of weeks, just waiting. Waiting on the phone to ring, waiting on a job, waiting on the Lord. The Shepherd has strained my tendon and has caused me to lie down and rest.

I have spent a lot of time reflecting on the last few years... on friendships, ministry, choices, family, relationships, and my personal walk with the Lord. I've spent the past few years going fast all the time. I've moved 5 times in 5 years, worked crazy hours, written countless papers, and traveled the world. I've been exhausted, but haven't had a second to stop and rest. I guess I'm making up for lost time now :)

I know that the Lord has purpose in this season. I believe it's a season of preparation for whatever is next, and I'm trusting him with each day that goes by. Don't think that I'm superhuman and don't have bad days... I threw myself a pretty good pity party earlier this week, but it came and went. When I pause to reflect, I can't help but think of the goodness and faithfulness of God, even in this season of uncertainty. He has and always will be faithful. I am thankful that I am not walking through this alone... He is with me, and I'll go wherever he leads.

Psalm 23

The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.

Monday, February 20, 2012

my heart hurts

today, several of my friends are getting on a plane headed for Nairobi, Kenya, and I wish I was going with them. last year, I had the opportunity to travel to Kenya with Student Life and Compassion and see firsthand what Compassion does to release children from poverty in Jesus' name. the work that they are doing there (and all over the world) is phenomenal.

I would love to go back, even if I had to cover a whole house in cow dung...

what you can't see are the tears streaming down my face from the smell...

repairing the manata with cow dung
...and would love to spend the day with these women in the Massai land.
learning beadwork from the Massai women

I had the opportunity to meet Vicky, the sweet girl that I sponsor through Compassion. I blogged about it here last year. after talking to her and hearing her story, I know I'll never be the same.

spending time with Vicky

the last two summers, I've been able to spend time with Kenyan college students who are graduates of the Compassion program. their friendship, encouragement, stories and love have deeply impacted my life. these friends are dear to my heart.

batting cages with Seleina, Stella and Nelly


at one of the Compassion offices with Seleina and Stella

one of my dear friends, Maureen, is also serving in her home country as the Executive Director of the Mercy House, which is a maternity home for women. they have rescued mothers out of the slums and poverty to take care of them during and after their pregnancy. I have skyped with Maureen several times and had the opportunity to see some of the girls and their babies. precious.

with Maureen
both of these ministries are well worth your time and involvement. I pray that the Lord would give me opportunity to go back to Kenya, but in the meantime, I want to be a voice for those who are there. if you're interested in information about either ministry, please let me know. I would love to get you connected with the right people.

for just $38 a month, YOU can make a difference in the life of a child.

consider sponsoring a child through Compassion today.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

best friends

today, I feel like a grown-up. sometimes, I just feel like I'm still a kid, but not today... my best friend of 21 years had her first baby today, and I couldn't be more thrilled for her and her husband!

Jennifer and I met in first grade at Conway Elementary. let's just say that it was an unlikely friendship that has stood the test of time. we laughed a couple of weeks ago talking about how much has changed since then...

as kids we played barbies, make believe, and house, went to GA camp, carpooled, crossed a major road with our cabbage patch dolls, read baby-sitters club books, swam, got mad at each other on the way to school and made up on the way home, dressed up, dreamed big dreams, and so much more.

as middle schoolers, we, well... didn't really talk. we ended up in the guidance counselor's office in 6th grade, and you'll just have to ask me for the details on that one... it's a great story. ha!

as high schoolers, we became the best of friends again, had sleepovers, talked about boys, went through awkward phases, Jenn and Ryan started dating in 10th grade (and the rest is history), we went on trips together, spent days at the beach, got our first cars, had our hearts broken, went to camp together, had front-seat parties, talked about the Lord, made plans, cried, laughed, went to homecomings and proms together with our dates, and talked about how someday we would get married, be in each other's weddings, and be someday be moms.

in college, we were in different states, but our friendship continued... we made road trips between Texas and Mississippi, talked on the phone, texted, and one day I got a call from Ryan, asking me to come to a surprise party the night of their engagement. the next year we graduated college and a week later, I stood beside her as the maid of honor in her wedding.

may 2006 
as adults, we both ended up in Dallas after college and loved being able to get together all the time! we have continued to laugh and cry together, make plans, dream big, and talk about the future. she has stood by me through the most challenging times in my life, and knows me better than anyone. even though we don't talk every day, and don't get to see each other as much as we would like, she's still my best friend. I know that some day, she'll stand by me as my matron of honor when I get married. I wouldn't have it any other way. I hope that 50 years from now, we'll be sitting together, still laughing and telling stories.

Jenn called me on my birthday last year, and said "well, I've got a surprise for you, but it won't arrive until January..." after a few seconds of confusion, I screamed and we celebrated together! best birthday call ever.

last night, I was almost asleep when I got the text that they were headed to the hospital. I had such a hard time sleeping because I was just so excited! when she updated me this morning, all of these memories came flooding through my mind, and I sat and prayed for my best friend, and wept tears of joy over this life-changing day. this little girl has been prayed over for so long!

I can't wait to go to Dallas soon and meet their sweet baby girl, Katelyn Elise. I can't wait to see her story unfold, and I'm so thankful to be a part of her life.

I hope that she is lucky enough to find a best friend like I have found in her mom.