What Happens When the Church Aligns With Evil

I watched the election coverage all evening. I kept up to the moment on my phone and television. Not because I was afraid of the news they heralded. But instead, because I find it all fascinating. I have always enjoyed watching election coverage. Seeing where and how people choose to vote. I actually joked with my husband that this is my World Series. But I digress.

Friends, today my heart is saddened. There are astounding and ever growing differences among people. People are split by race, religion, education, employment. And whether Trump or Clinton won, this division would be hard to move past.

However, today we know who will be president. Trump was elected. Though I refuse to live fearful of what this will bring, I do live saddened. Heartbroken for this nation, this country. For this people.


But here’s where I have the most trouble. The ‘church’ won. 

That sounds odd, so please, let me explain. The Christian/Catholic bodies encouraged their people to vote for Trump, for a variety of reasons. These are, by and large, the single issue voters: the anti-abortion votes, the Supreme Court votes, the lesser of two evil votes, the “freedom of religion” votes…and I could go on.

Yes, these are indeed valid ideals, valid opinions to hold to. Yes, these are the makings of voting for or against someone. 

But here’s the thing, the church was given two commands. 

And He said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.’ – Matthew 22:37-38

This means to completely, to wholly love God. It looks like worship. It looks like gratitude. It looks like time in His Word and in prayer. 

And: 

And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ – Matthew 22:39

This means that we love others. We love people even if they are different from us. Even if they hold to different ideals than us. It means we love people even if it brings certain death to us. Because we are called to love. Period.

The Bible is filled with examples, with calls and encouragement to love greatly. To love selflessly. Giving up everything, even unto our very life. But for this, I must share the reminder of 1 John 4:18:

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.

Because love, love for God + love for others, has nothing to do with fear. And so when we respond out of fear, it has no part in love. 

So dear church, my heart is broken. Somewhere along the way we, including our church leaders, have lost sight of what love means. We have lost sight of the two commandments we were given. Because dear one, if your reason for doing something isn’t: to love God or to love others, you might not need to do it.  
Before we move on, we need to rest in one final reminder. One final definition of what love is.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. – 1 Corinthians 13:7

All things. Even hardships. Even hate. Even loss of freedom. Love bears everything.  

So what does this mean for how we voted? 

Pro-life: Christians rallied against Clinton because of her pro-choice stance. What does it mean to stand for life? Voting for Trump heralded the lives of the unborn. But in exchange, we handed over the lives of minorities. The voiceless. The marginalized. We exchanged one life for another. 

And for what? For safety? For religious freedom? This is not sacrificial love. This is love that keeps us safe first. This is a love that sees us v. them. This is a love that believes in comfort and safety. 

But that isn’t what we are called to. No, instead, we are called to a love that gives everything. Even our very lives. I believe this is a reminder the American church needs today.

Because friends, we were never promised safety, freedom of religion (or any kind), or ease. Instead we were promised difficulty. We were promised pain that would flood our lives. Suffering that would reshape us. Promising to make us more like Christ.

Instead, we are promised that God’s glory would shine forth.
Abundantly. Radiantly. Through every circumstance. 

Supreme Court: Christians voted for Trump to protect the Supreme Court. I understand this heart. I do. But church, we are forgetting who God is. 

We are championing God as sovereign and all powerful. But we forget this truth when we say we voted to save the Court. We are forgetting that God is able to use anyone. We are forgetting the OT leaders, that were used, even when it did not seem like it. (A truth I am clinging to today.) Even when they seemed too evil to be used by God. 

And so, I ask you, the church – can we please stop fighting for God. Can we remember that He goes before us. That He is the One fighting. He has been in all of this since the Old Testament. God has used evil for His glory time and again. He never requested, never needed His people to allow it. 

As we move forward, not just today, not just for the next four years, but for always I implore you. Remember our two commandments: To love God and to love others. I love the verse that follows these commands:

On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. – Matthew 22:40

That’s how important they are. On these commandments rest everything

And so friends, because we are the church. Because we are the bride of Christ. Because that means something – I am standing, proclaiming love. 

So instead of rejoicing, join me in mourning. Join me in asking forgiveness from the world. Because this is not okay. 

As the beloved of God, we are to be His hands and feet. Never reacting out of fear for our future. Never reacting from anything other than love for God and love for others. Period. 

Praying today for grace and forgiveness for us all. Praying that the world sees a posture of sorrow from us. As we mourn for the lesser. The unheard. The unseen. As they attempt to reconcile the nation, the people they love.



PS. Yes, it feels like this is coming too late. Like we’ve already chosen where we stand. Like my voice doesn’t matter. But it does. No matter how you voted, our posture today and in the future matters. A lot. So please engage. Love others well. Love those that feel hurt and scared. Serve them. 

(And though I feel it is of no consequence who or how I voted, I have been asked. Because this election more than any other seemed to be an either or situation. But I disagree. More than anything, I am accountable to Go. And so with much prayer and consideration, I chose not to cast a vote for president. No this was not me choosing to sit idly by. Instead it as me actively choosing to not stand with: a man who hates, a woman who stands with partial birth abortions, nor a man whose foreign policy I cannot biblically stand with – because love. Obviously, this is a short hand explanation of where I stand and would be happy to dialogue more. Just ask. Nicely, please.)

Thoughts for Today: Freedom in the Word

It’s been months since I’ve last been here. A lot has happened. A lot has changed. 

But I’m not going into that right now. There will come a time to talk about all the changes of these last few months, really of the last 10 months. But I’m still sorting those out. I’m still processing them, what they mean for me. What they mean to me. 

So for today, I’m going to share where I’m at. Right now. Today. 

———-

I find it interesting how quickly feelings change. How fast they ebb and flow. How they evolve into something new, something different. Leaving the old behind. 

…And it all transpires in a moment. 

It cannot help but remind me just how fallible this body is. How weak and frail the flesh truly is. 


It reminds me how easily the enemy can use this frailty to crush us.

The ways he can so quickly, so reliably, make us stand still. Leaving us stagnant. Too wrapped up, too stuck, dwelling on ourselves – to remember our freedom.

The freedom that was costly. 

The freedom that comes from Him. From His death and resurrection. 

Freedom that defeats the flesh. 

Freedom that defeats my sin.

Freedom filled with truth and grace. Filled to overflowing with love. 

And when I remember that freedom, I have the power to move forward. 

To move to His Word. The very Word that spoke nothing into something. 

The Word that is speaking to me, today. Right where I’m at.

The Word that envelopes and nurtures me.

The Word that refines me. The Word that gives me strength. 

The very Word growing me, creating me today. 

The Word that gives me the freedom to write here. The Word that gives me the strength and ability to raise up my littles – to guide and nurture them. The Word that gives me hope and a future. 

And friends, that very Word is for you too. They’re there to envelope you in grace and courage. To bring you peace and life. And if you need help finding where to start, I’ve got your back. 

Made for More: Living in Community

I’ve been thinking about spiritual disciplines lately. Wondering at how we were created to live. Spiritual disciplines are difficult. They don’t seem to come naturally. But I have found that the very best things tend to be uncomfortable. That the biggest avenues of growth are most often, the most difficult ones. 

And so I find myself led to a new series of blog posts. I can’t promise their frequency. However, many have already been written in my heart and on my mind. And I am looking forward to getting the words down.


You know I love community. I love the bond that develops between neighbors. The way parents unite for their children, as they create community within the PTO and at youth events. I love the community found within the church. Each of us are a part of so many different communities.

But one of my my favorite communities is that of a small group. It’s even better when you are part of a group with some of your very best friends.

Greg and I lead a small group every other week. Our group is a comfortable one. It’s one that’s made for everyone, we don’t have an ideal demographic. Though currently made up of families, we believe that there is so much grace when people in different stages of life come together. Because the people that sharpen us, that encourage us, that move us towards more are the very ones that seem completely different from us. They are the people whose giftings are different; the people who are in a different stage of life; the people that see the world, that see people differently.

Iron sharpens iron,
and one man sharpens another.  (Proverbs 27:17)

Our small group enjoys time together. We spend time living life and discussing our lives together. Honestly, it grew naturally as we studied the Bible together. We have decided to read a chapter of the Bible before each gathering. When we meet, we discuss the chapter together. We have decided to forgo a book study of the Bible, because we know the power of the Word. Book studies and devotionals are beautiful and certainly, a means for growth. But we know that learning how to study the Bible is vitally important. We see our small group as a tool to grow another spiritual discipline: studying the Bible. One of my very favorite parts of our small group is the way we have all grown in seeing the Bible as more approachable.

As a small group host/leader that has a houseful of children, we have built a small group that welcomes children. We have a time of devotion with our children, on the same reading we will be covering. And because children see what we are doing: meeting as Biblical community; we invite them to come join our gathering, as they choose. They usually spend their time playing together, building their own communities. But the littlest ones sit at our feet, toddling back and forth between adults.
A beautiful reminder of what community is: a joint venture of different people. Choosing to live life together. Choosing to walk with our families, raising our littles, encouraging us to more. Together.

We came up with this adaptation to our small group meetings because of our own children. Man Child would ask if that particular day was a small group day. He would ask if our friends and our sitter were coming. And it struck us, that we were doing this wrong. Our children knew what we were doing, they saw our meeting, they heard our discussions. And then were asked to step out of that space. We intentionally excluded our children from a beautiful lesson. A lesson about friendship, about growth. About community.

And so, for this last season of small groups, we’ve altered our perspective. We’ve remembered that this group isn’t all about the adults. It isn’t only about learning to read our Bible well. It isn’t only about encouraging our friends. But it’s about raising another generation to see what biblical community is. To understand the benefits of deep, intentional community.

Biblical community isn’t only about the raising up of ourselves or our friends. But it is about the raising up of our families. To know God better. To live the way He created us to live. And to do it all more fully. 

I would love to hear about your community! What makes it great? What are your favorite tips or tricks to making community work?

love to you

The Fullness of Generosity {#WholeMama}

We just finished the madness of dinner. I don’t know if dinnertime looks quite as disheveled at your house as it does at mine – but oh my. Over here, it’s basically a mad dash to fill each person’s needs as quickly as possible before tears and shouts erupt. It is honestly exhausting. But somehow, once dinner is finished, everyone suddenly and magically changes their mood. Their needs have been met. And now they can suddenly see the other people that had been sitting at the table with them all along. They can play kindly together. They can speak encouraging words to one another. They help each other and offer compliments.

It’s incredible the changes in our attitude, our demeanor, once our need has been met. 

 

O T H E R S   >   O U R S E L V E S

It seems opposite the world culture – this idea of serving others before ourselves, but it is possible. Important, even. 

This constant putting others interests and needs before our own is most certainly difficult. It is an endeavor that runs against our very flesh. Our body shouts for more. Even beyond our bodily needs, we are naturally selfish. We search for praise, recognition, and love. All aimed at filling our own desires, forgetting and even minimizing the needs of those around us.

Ironically, as we fight to fill ourselves, we hurt those in our very communities. The people we care most about. No matter who you are: your age, your gender, your job; no matter the relationships you are in – you can be generous. So often we equate generosity with something big, something using all of our resources, something only those with extra can possibly do.

G E N E R O S I T Y   I N   O U R   R E L A T I O N S H I P S

In motherhood, I have noticed that there are so many small areas that I can be generous. I can pause and give extra cuddles to my daughter. I can sit and read one more book before bedtime (or anytime really). I can whisper words of encouragement as Boy Child treads off to make new friends.I can give Man Child a bonus day to play video games. I can pause my house cleaning to play with Baby Boy.

I can be generous with my time when I wash the last dishes in the sink (knowing how much my husband loves a clean sink). I can give my time freely to a friend in need of community. I can lend a hand when a mom needs help with school pick ups. Even a simple cup of coffee is a generous way to show someone they are loved.

I see the small ways my children live out generosity. They share their bike with a neighbor. They include other children in their makeshift game at the park. They freely, and generously, open their hearts to those around them. 

#WholeMama

T H E   F U L L N E S S   O F   G E N E R O S I T Y 

Generosity is more about our hearts than about our actions. True generosity gives of ourselves freely. It does not measure the time or resources lost. It doesn’t keep track of the things that could have been done, had this person not been in need. It simply gives.

 

With each and every word I write, I find myself coming back to the One. One person, who lived generosity to the fullest.

He healed many.
“Moved with pity, He stretched out His hand and touched Him and said to him, ‘I will; be clean.” (Mark 1:41)

He met people where they were.
“When the crowds learned it, they followed Him, and He welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.” (Luke 9:11)

He taught with authority. He preached the Word. He preached His very self.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

He forgave sins:
“And when Jesus saw their faith, He said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.’…But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins'” (Mark 2:5 + 10)

He fed people abundantly:
“And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.” 
(Matthew 14:20-21)

He raised people from the dead:
“And He said, ‘Young man, I say to you, arise.’ And the dead man sat up and began to speak, and Jesus gave him to his mother.” (Luke 7:14-15)

He gave Himself freely. Even unto death.
“Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this He breathed His last.'” (Luke 23:46)

“‘For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.'” (John 3:16-17)

And this is the generosity to which we are called. To love others as we love ourselves. To place others as more important than our very selves. To run contrary to what the world and our very flesh screams. To show a love so big, so vast, so full of mercy that others no longer see us but only see Him shining forth.

How are you generous? We love donating to organizations, friends in need, and ministries. But we believe it is important to be generous in our actions, of ourselves as well. So we live in community, we serve friends and neighbors, we volunteer with organizations. And we love. 

love to you

 

Want to read more about #WholeMama? You should join us over at #WholeMama!

Here are my other #WholeMama posts:
On Settling
Celebrating Motherhood
Power to Flourish
Intentional Quiet
Embracing the Mess of Me
Musings From the Sky: Thoughts on Prayer
Finding the Balance: Space & Community
Seeing Small: Embracing the Ordinary Moments
Laughter, Mom, & Poop

 

The Start of Something New: Lent

I’m going to be honest. I have hardly ever participated in lent. And by participated, I mean fasted from something for lent. I didn’t grow up in a church where it was a requirement, and so, lent frequently passed me by.

However, yesterday, Ash Wednesday, I sat with my Bible open in front of me. But I wasn’t reading it. I had my phone in hand, and was instead, scrolling through Facebook.

I realized what was slowly becoming of my quiet time. I had begun to compromise. Quiet time was slowly becoming time to complete trivial tasks. And the once joyful sacrifice of my quiet time, was becoming something I did with an insincere heart.

Fasting

{I’m going to pause here. This is not to sound like I am disparaging myself. I do still spend time sincerely in the Word. But I have seen ways that I allow things to steal the focus away. And maybe you find yourself in the same circumstances. You desire to do something and you have been steadfast. But as time continues on, little things, reminders grab your attention. And you take but a minute to complete the task, but your heart. Oh your heart has moved along. You continue on in the Bible, but there is something different. And that difference, friend, is compromise. Compromise has entered your heart and it has altered your sacrifice.}

At that moment I knew what I needed to do. I needed a change. And this season of lent would be the perfect place for my heart to start. 

Bible Journal and coffee

This lent, I am beginning a fast from social media. In all honesty, I hope it is something that takes root, deep in my being.

The difficulty is that I spend some time here – with all of you. And I love it. So I will be around to share my posts and to reply to you all. But I won’t be there, in the background, searching and scrolling. I won’t be there commenting on pictures or posts. I won’t be there, in the recesses of my time and space, spending endless amounts of time.

Instead, I will be sitting at my kitchen counter, spending time with the Word. I will be reading and studying the Bible. I will be spending more time in prayer and journaling. And I will be spending more time with Him.

greece

The time once used for idleness, distraction, idolatry, and comparison is removed. And is being replaced with the One who is so much greater. 

Because that is what lent and fasting are really all about. They aren’t actions to be done, schedules to keep, rituals to practice.

No. Fasting and lent are about the position of our hearts. They are about our faith.

So often in the Bible, God chastises His people for their lack of faith. They practiced all the rituals. They brought sacrifices. They diligently checked each requirement off their list. Yet their hearts were missing. They didn’t practice His law, His covenant with a heart focused solely on Him. They practiced to be blessed. They practiced because it was what you did. It had become empty and meaningless.

And when aspects of God’s beautiful covenants have lost their meaning, when they are done with compromise and without a sincere heart – we are lost. We have become no different than the Old Testament Israelite’s…that were condemned.

greece travels
So this Lenten season, if you are fasting from something – ponder the posture of your heart.

Are you leveraging the removed items to draw you nearer to God? Are you giving up things that give you more time to spend with Him? Are you giving up resources that will cause you to trust more in Him? 

Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it:
Being pointed back towards Jesus.
Remembering Who He is.
Remembering what He has done.
Remembering His faithfulness.
Remembering His love.
Learning more about Him. About what He says. About what He wants for us. And from us. 

And leaning more on Him through it all. 

I would love to hear from you. Are you giving something up this Lent? Why or why not? If you are, how is it increasing your faith? I think we can learn so much from each other as we build each other up. (As always, and especially with discussions that may have some disagreement, remember, He is known by our love.) 

love to you

Praying for the Spring Rains

Hi, friends. I am so sorry I have been absent from here for the last few weeks. I am searching for a schedule that will include more time for this writing, but thus far, it has eluded me. One day. And until then, I will continue to jot notes to my future self on my phone. Hopefully future me knows what all my ramblings mean.

yellowstone trip

LIFE LATELY

I’m going to be honest. I have been a little much lately. A little too emotional. A little to extreme. A little too feeling. And I’m not pregnant – so ack! Seriously though, I feel like I have been searching for a way to flourish this season. And instead, I keep coming up with ways to merely survive.

It has, however, led me to prayer and reading the Bible. A lot. Which is why I’m not writing here as often as I would like. The time allotted for me, is time I am spending solely in the Word. Because I need it. It is my root, my foundation. And without it, I would be lost and alone. Scared and weak.

And while I may still be struggling, I am able to stand firm that it is all for Him. It is producing something in me, that though hard and difficult, is good. And for His glory. And so I continue to press on. To press into Him and His grace.

THE SPRING RAINS

Earlier this month, I finished the Old Testament. A passage in Zechariah has become my constant prayer.

Ask rain from the Lord
in the season of the spring rain,
from the Lord who makes the storm clouds,
and He will give them showers of rain… (Zechariah 10:1)

I pray, I shout out, to my Lord. The Creator. I call to Him for rest. I call to Him for life. I call to Him for joy. I long to be filled. Filled to the point of overflowing, dripping down over me. Covering me. Like the spring rain, soaking and filling and nourishing all. Bringing life and new growth with it.

Yet, the more I think of rain, the more I remember that rain brings more than life. The rains, especially those spring rains, bring with them destruction. They can cause flooding, damage, and even death.

PRAYING FOR RAIN

As I pray for rain, I remember that I am not only praying for life and joy, but I am also praying for suffering. I am praying for the blooming that the spring rains bring. While at the same time I pray for the flood waters to reshape me. I am praying that my Creator, the One who knows me so personally and intimately continues His refinement of me.

And I am encouraged by Paul’s writings.

…we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,
and endurance produces character, and character produces hope… 
(Romans 5:3-4)

I am reminded that the floods are producing something more. The suffering is making me steadfast and teaching me patience. It is producing a strong character in me, one that looks more like my Messiah. And in that refinement, I find my way back to hope. And in that I will ever rejoice!

yellowstone

HIS PROMISE

A few verses down in Zechariah, I find this promise. And this is where I rest. I encamp myself here, ever waiting for the rains. No matter what comes with them: suffering or blessing. Or both.

I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph.
I will bring them back because I have compassion on them,
and they shall be as though I had not rejected them,
for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them. (Zechariah 10:6)

Because He is my strength. He is my salvation. He has compassion on me. He will rescue me. He hears me and answers me. He will not reject me.

Though I may not be here as regularly as I would like, this is where you can find me. Standing in His grace, praying for the spring rains.

Please know, this prayer is not one of blessing or prosperity. I believe prayer is an aligning of my heart to His. It is not to ask for my own will, my own gain. Prayer, talking with our Heavenly Father, should mirror the ways Jesus prayed. Acknowledging Him, confessing, giving thanks, and asking for help. God is not a genie in the sky, waiting to give us all the good things our eyes have seen. He promises good for us, but we must ever remember that our humanness limits how we understand good. God sees our good, not just here but our eternal good. And there are times when that refinement, for our eternal good is painful. But God is still good. 

love to you

The Purposeful Fall: A Look Back

I sit here tonight, thinking on the fall. The weather has finally hit “winter” temperatures and as winter steadily approaches, it has left me looking back at this past season. It has left me remembering. I remember the family moments, the growth. I remember the hard days. The difficult conversations. And I remember my word for fall: purposeful

 I always feel like the seasons are long. Specifically, fall seems to span so much. So many changes in weather, days, activities. It is my favorite time of the year: beautiful weather, my favorite moments, and lots of birthdays. This year, I craved a purposeful fall. A fall filled with intentionality. Intentional conversations. Intentional interactions. Intentional invitations. And there were moments. But for the most part, I’m honestly not sure.

I haven’t shared this here, on my blog, but this fall my church home announced a change. A transition. And if you’re at all like me, unforeseen change rocks you. A lot. I am thankful for God’s grace in it and through it all. Because it caused me to pause. To take a step back. To evaluate. To re-evaluate. 

And that’s a good thing. It creates intention. So while I sit and reflect on this fall, I initially remember my failures: I did not intentionally meet new families. I did not purposefully jump into deeper community with new friends. Instead, I paused. I had to wait for God. I had to listen. I had to be still. 

Being still is hard. Really hard. So this fall was hard. Really hard. 

Yet today, as I sit and remember. As I sit still, quiet, and small. I see intentionality. It doesn’t look quite as I anticipated. Quite as I had planned. But it is there, in the waiting. I was intentional with the questions I asked. I was intentional with spiritual disciplines. I was purposeful every morning as I sat coffee, Bible, and journal in hand. I was intentional with my deep relationships.

It may not have been easy. Honestly, it wasn’t very pretty either. But it was purposeful. It was a time filled with difficult intentionality. Some parts were beautiful, while others were hard and ugly. There were difficult conversations. And new friendships. Strong friendships.

As I sit here in the quiet of a house of children at bedtime, I can rest knowing that God is faithful. He guided me, taught me what intentionality looks like. What living purpose-filled looks like. And that sometimes it looks completely unlike anything I could have imagined.

And even when it’s hard and uncomfortable, it creates beauty. Because it creates a deeper reliance on Him. 

As winter, and the seemingly unending holiday season, approaches I will be signing off, until the new year. I am excited for all 2016 will bring. I am excited for new blog posts. For the ideas flowing in my head and on paper. I am excited for all I am learning as I daily read the Bible. I am excited for new relationships. For new spaces and places to grow.

With that, I will leave you with my word for this winter: Anticipation. As you can see, I look forward to this new season. It leaves me wondering, hoping for more. For beauty. For truth. For grace. And I know God is always faithful. And so this winter, this new season, leaves me full of anticipation.

What word will you choose for this new season? Do you feel hopeful anticipation, purposeful, or maybe grace-filled? I would love to hear in the comments below. Or, as always, fill out the connect form if you would like to talk more!

love to you