Sunday Thoughts… on a Monday

Couldn’t quite get my act together last night so here are my Sunday thoughts, a day late!

1. Thanks for your comments and messages in response to my last post about not knowing where I’m headed with my career. Not surprisingly, a lot of you aren’t sure either. I’m glad we could all take a little sigh of relief that we aren’t the only ones walking around without a master plan. Phew! Also, there’s always this:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I’m holding onto that while life continues to unfold. I hope you will, too.

2. It was my birthday on Saturday and our original plans for the day had to change because Tyler had a last-minute work emergency. I decided to curl up with my coffee, the Jesus Culture Pandora station and my Bible to spend some time in the Word. Sometimes I like to flip randomly to a page in the Bible and see where it takes me. I ended up in the book of Romans and after a few verses, came to this, which I immediately scribbled down into my journal:

Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory. Romans 5:2

Birthdays are a time of celebration and getting lots of attention, gifts, and treats. You could even say birthdays are about undeserved privilege because really, my birth was something orchestrated by God and delivered by my sweet Mom (yes Dad you did have something to do with it but let’s not go there haha).

I had nothing to do with my birth yet I get the benefits of being celebrated every year. A pretty good deal if you ask me.

And if you think about it, on a much bigger scale, this is what salvation is like.

Then, as stated in Romans, we are to share this glory with others. Not reluctantly share it but joyfully share it.

Tyler and I had already decided not to make a big deal out of our birthdays this year and thought it might be nice to spend the weekend doing some random acts of kindness. This reminder from Romans felt like a little encouragement from God. So we spent the weekend focusing on others and being a little extra generous. And then we got to celebrate a precious dinner together because some special people were extra generous to us.

It was a very happy birthday indeed.

3. My friend Laura, sister of my heart, shared this quote in her latest blog post, What’s Upset When You’re Upset:

“No matter the jarring, a jar of fresh water can’t spill filthy water. When you’re upset, you upset what’s really in you.”

I love that I read this on Laura’s blog because she continues to address the presence of sin with a courage and conviction that really pushes me to examine my own heart. She writes, “I can be friendly and delightful to people who do not annoy me, or make me feel unloved, or undervalue me.  But anyone can be friendly and delightful in good circumstances.  The Bible is clear about that, it is no great accomplishment to love those who love you.

Amen! And leading back to #2, we aren’t even deserving of the grace we get, so why do we require others to earn ours? Thanks for those thoughts, sweet Laura!!

Hope you all have a wonderful week :)

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Sunday Thoughts

1. Spoiler Alert: Do you watch Parenthood? It is one of the few shows Tyler and I make sure to record every week. This past week, one of the characters found out she had breast cancer. It was a very dramatic scene at the end of the episode with no dialogue, just music; the character is alone with the doctor finding out her diagnosis and then in the next scene, telling her husband. The shock, the fear… it was all too familiar, I knew exactly what those characters would have felt if they were in real life.

I was so overcome with emotion, I almost couldn’t breathe.  I am wondering if we have not fully dealt with what we went through this past spring/early summer. Tyler said to me that it all feels like a bad dream. We have marched on to the next chapter in our life with no fear or timidity. But sometimes, a news headline, an anecdote or a scene in a TV show reminds us of the nightmare we walked through.

There’s no question God carried us through with a supernatural grace. Now we have to figure out what it means to continue walking in faith and not in denial.

2. Risk has come up several times during Threshold. Specifically, the best stories involve risk. Tyler and I are both fairly risk-averse. We love to plan, we are OCD about our budget and we are generally just rule-following kind of people. What about you? What might be holding you back from telling a really good story with your life? Finances, fear of failure, lack of confidence, fear of the unknown… there are lots of different ways we might be “getting in our own way.” I’m pretty sure Threshold will be leading us to take some risks in the next few months. Eek!!

3. The sermon this morning touched a little on what I blogged about last week though not in regards to the election, more just general response to government/secular culture by Christians. I want to share the following verse from the book of Romans as a reminder of what’s important as things start to heat up in the coming weeks:

Owe nothing to anyone–except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:8

Isn’t that kind of a relief? With all the issues, candidates, and controversy, the only thing we really need to make sure we do is love our neighbor.

Why do we make that so difficult?

4. And on that note… this song. (“By Our Love”, Christy Nockels)

“The time is now
Come Church arise…
Love with His hands
See with His eyes…
Bind it around you,
Let it never leave you,
And they will know us by our love…”

The time is now. Praying you all receive that love from someone this week <3

Sunday Thoughts

It’s hard to believe summer is over and another academic year has begun. What a whirlwind the last two weeks have been. This time last year we were one week away from becoming husband and wife and now we are getting ready to celebrate our one year anniversary. Praise God for another year!

1. You know those few moments in your life where it feels like a scene in a movie? I had one of those this weekend. It was our first session of Threshold, a small group program about discovering God’s calling for your life. As each person went around the room and introduced themselves, I just had this sense that we were about to embark on a big adventure. I’ve never been in a class where I’ve had to share my hopes, frustrations and vulnerabilities within 10 minutes of meeting my classmates.

Yet there we were, eight strangers looking ahead to the year with one common question:  What part are we going to play in the greater story of life?

2. I feel like there have been so many barriers and obstacles in my race training and had even started to wonder if I’d be able to finish the race at all. With the pressure of fundraising and making such a public declaration of intent, I have been feeling really discouraged. How can I get through 13.1 miles if 3 feels like an eternity?!

I was having the exact thought about running and perseverance when I opened this post by a sweet blogger who happens to be the younger sister of one of my dearest friends. In the post, Elise makes a comparison between the difficulties of training and the struggles we encounter in other areas of our lives. She highlights Hebrews 12:1:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

What a great statement! Just throw off the things that hinder us and fix our eyes on Jesus. It makes me feel like I can breathe in deeply and power ahead, no longer held back by injury, doubt, or fatigue.

I ran six miles this morning and it felt incredible. I wasn’t gasping for air or doubled over with cramps. Tyler even told me to slow down at one point. At the end, I actually could have kept going. I NEVER feel like that after a run. Thanks for the encouragement, Elise!

Oh and Tyler ran NINE miles. My husband is a rockstar.

3. On another running note… thanks to an awesome outpouring of generosity, we have reached our fundraising goal! Thank you, thank you to our incredible donors. We are so excited to run our race knowing the Cancer Community Center of Maine has a little more support behind it.

Back to regular posts later this week. Thanks for reading!

Cheers to a blessed week!

Sunday Thoughts

I kind of like this idea of posting some Sunday thoughts to start the week and cap off the weekend. Thanks for reading along.

1. Our small group attended an event together on how important our health is to our faith. The event featured a local physician who incorporates Christian spirituality into his medical practice. While he did discuss faith healing, he also shared several studies and research trends supporting both the power of prayer and the critical changes we need to make to our food system and mental health.

Did you know that engaging in prayer actually creates change in your brain?!

I’m really excited to further explore this area. I’ve asked one of the doctors in the small group to help me track down the research so I can read it for myself and share it with you all on the blog. Stay tuned!

2. I recently discovered Rachel Held Evans and had to share this post: How to Follow Jesus… Without Being Shane Claiborne. Confession: I haven’t read anything by Shane Claiborne. But I definitely relate to the challenge of how to follow Jesus without feeling like you need to throw all responsibility and caution to the wind. Rachel shares five mantras that remind her how she personally plans to follow Jesus, including “Love the person in front of me” and “Care for my community.”  Have you read anything by Claiborne? What might your mantras be?

3. This post made me laugh out loud: God Wants to Give you Disney World but All You Want is the Bounce House – I just discovered this blogger/coach/pastor/father and love his fresh and honest voice. This is a sweet account of how God’s dreams for us are so much better than what we aspire toward. And it reminds me of this hysterical youtube video.

4. “Do everything without complaining and arguing, so that no one can criticize you. Live clean, innocent lives as children of God, shining like bright lights in a world full of crooked and perverse people.” Philippians 2:14-15

This verse spoke right into my soul last night. Sometimes the news (and occasionally interactions and observations in my daily life) overwhelms me with the negativity, evil, selfishness, greed, lust and envy that seem to saturate our culture today. This verse reminded me that a. it has always been this way, crooked and perverse people are not new and b. there is a better way! I know I have a lot of work to do to shine like a bright light and I’ll be praying over this verse in the week to come. I’d love to hear how you overcome the desire to argue and complain. It’s not easy!

5. I’m still loving this song. For anyone who has ever asked the question, “I wonder if I’ll ever find my way, I wonder if my life could really change at all?”, you have to listen to this.

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Cheers to a blessed week!

Sunday Thoughts

Just a few thoughts and an anecdote from this weekend…

1. “I believe there is a writer outside ourselves, plotting a better story for us, interacting with us, even, and whispering a better story into our consciousness” – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Donald Miller

I’m reading this book as a “pre-class” assignment for a 9-month program I’m starting in September called Threshold. The program is about discovering God’s calling for your life and a portion of it focuses on the story we tell with our lives. I can’t wait to start exploring the story God wants to write with my life.

What story are you telling?

2. Once a month we deliver food to Iraqi refugees on the North Shore of Boston. It started as a one-time interfaith project between our church and the Islamic Society of Boston but we’ve stuck around to continue our route. We’ve gotten to know some of the families over the months and learned that many of the parents held high-ranking positions in Iraq as doctors, lawyers, professors, etc. They assisted the US during the Iraq war and because of their assistance have had to flee Iraq. These hardworking families are struggling to make ends meet in rundown communities with few resources and connections.

Yesterday marked the end of Ramadan with the celebration of Eid al Fitr. We were fortunate to sample some traditional cookies baked by one of the families. One of the delivery days, we ended up driving the two older children from the mosque back home. They were helping to put the food boxes together and it wasn’t until we arrived at their home that we realized their family is one of the recipient families. These two teens study hard, volunteer at every opportunity and help out at home. Last month they were in New Orleans rebuilding a home with Habitat for Humanity. They greet us warmly each month, often asking us to sit and visit with them and now sharing in their celebration with us.

And as it is usually true with service, we feel like we are the ones who received something at the end of our route.

3. “So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world?” Galatians 4:9  

The sermon in church this morning talked about the religious rules that we cling to when what God really wants for us to have is “risky faith”, as Pastor Dave calls it. In Galatians, Paul is speaking to a group of people who have received the Gospel but are insisting on going back to their “religious ways” as a means to determine their rightness with God.

Do you feel like this is still true today? Sometimes it feels like the Christian culture begs us to engage in a certain set of behaviors and opinions that will prove that we are godly. But we are not godly. We sin and fail and the only way to be right with God is to cling tightly to HIM. When we start taking pride in our behaviors and habits, we give the enemy the perfect opportunity to steal our confidence in God. We begin trusting in our actions and not having courage to believe that God will come through in the things that really matter.

4. We sang this song today and my heart just felt like bursting.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul. 

The story of the songwriter is so inspiring. I pray that we would all experience complete peace in the face of hardship and tragedy.

5. Thank you to our generous donors! The Cancer Community Center sent me an email saying they were grateful for the fundraising efforts so far. If you’d like to contribute, feel free to check out our fundraising page: http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=207888

Cheers to a blessed week!