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A Few Thoughts About Waves

A Few Thoughts About Waves

I love the beach. I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I cannot resist a good trip to the ocean.

In May, a week after my college graduation, I found myself knee deep in the Alabama gulf coast. The wind was strong, and the waves were fierce but so much fun. I waded out into the water with a bright orange float wrapped around my waist, laughing as the salt water splashed my face.

It was fun fighting the waves, jumping the frothy water and picking the perfect one to ride in to the shore. It was fun, but it was exhausting. I could hear my muscles screaming, “No, no! Not any further! We’re not as young as we used to be!” Whiny things.

I was out with a friend of mine, and though my goal was to pick the biggest wave to hop aboard, her goal was simple. Get deeper. Get behind the waves.

Now, I’m not one who has ever been terrified of the ocean, but I do have my limits. I prefer for my feet to touch. My five-foot-ten frame can go further than some, but when my toes swipe and miss when searching for the sand, my caution flag goes up. I can swim, but so can a lot of other unseen creatures beneath me.

Yet, I am always bolder when I am not alone. So, as Amber swam further out, I followed right behind her.

Suddenly, we made it. I could feel my body relax against the float as the waves turned from fierce foes to gentle rockers. I put my chin on my arms and gave in to the waves as they swayed me back and forth.

We stayed out there for a while, talking and floating and watching the waves. It occurred to me that the waves had grown calmer the further out I swam, and from way out here, the waves didn’t seem as big as when they were crashing down around me.

In those moments of silent floating, I had plenty to think about. To wonder about. To worry about, mostly. I was a recent college graduate, unemployed, and unsure of where I was going next. As anxiety threatened to take over the quiet moment, I heard a still voice inside my heart speak to me.

“There is peace in the deep.”

 

Traditionally, the shallow end is the safe place, and the deep end is the one to be feared. But sometimes, it can be harder to stand where our feet can touch. Wave after wave of uncertainty hits. And just when we’ve recovered from one blow, we are hit with another. Each one looks so much taller from our vantage point of looking up. Every inch of the body struggles to stand against the aggressive water pressure. And with each passing wave, we grow more exhausted.

But why do we insist of planting in the shallow end when God has called us to the deep?

We fight for our spots in the edge of the water, digging our toes in deep in the sand for one simple reason: control. Our minds lie and tell us we have it. Our society says we need it. Our fear says we won’t survive without it.

But let me tell you what’s behind the waves. Buoyancy.

Behind the waves, the water does the work. Moving to the deep end requires a new level of surrender. Here’s where the problem comes in: surrender and control cannot coexist in the will of God. He hasn’t asked for you to give Him some of your fears. He wants them all. He wants to hold every expectation, every nightmare, every hope and every dream. He wants your heart, the whole thing.

He’s waiting patiently for you to surrender your spot in the sand, move to where your feet can’t touch, and trust Him to hold you above the waves.

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For the Love of the Game

For the Love of the Game

For the past fifteen years, I have spent a huge portion of my time perched on the bleachers of a baseball diamond. My younger brother, now eighteen years old, is the main reason I know almost every rule of the game.

He is the only reason I learned to love the game at all.

I have watched inning after inning in the blazing Alabama heat. I have watched games in dusty snowfalls. I have stood in mud puddles behind chain-link fences, with summer rain pelting the tops of my feet as I watched my brother round first for the umpteenth time.

And I have loved every moment.

I have loved the quiet stillness during the singing of the national anthem. I have loved the hearty cry of fans the second it ends. The crack of a bat meeting the red-laced ball has become my favorite song. My heart is stronger after skipping so many beats during a long throw from the plate to second. Somewhere along the way, the dust that stirred at home plate crossed the chain-link fence and seeped into my skin.

I don’t know when I began loving the game. It certainly wasn’t in the hot summer of my seventh year. Johnathan was three and preferred pulling grass from the earth to chasing a silly white ball. And I preferred reading to watching him stand in the outfield with his glove on his head.

But sometime between then and now, I fell in love with baseball.

Even more, I fell in love with the family that sat beside me in the bleachers. We share no DNA but are bound together as if by blood. Our ties that bind are living and breathing, standing with gloves on their hands and brave hearts beating inside their chests.

I often tease my parents about Johnathan being the golden child, the favorite in our family. Though I joke and know truly they don’t have a favorite among us, in my heart, I know I do. He is the golden child to me, my favorite baseball player to ever take the field. I stand close and hope some of his bravery and courage will drift from his heart into my own. My greatest pride is in telling others that I am his big sister.

He is the golden child to me.

In a few hours, he’ll stand behind the plate for the last time in his high school career. And I’ll be in the stands, covered in sunscreen and cheering my very loudest. Like always. I’ll be there, heart and soul. For the love of the game, for the love of Flame baseball, and mostly, for the love of number twenty-two.

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Lean the Other Way

Lean the Other Way

The final semester of college is just as difficult as I imagined it would be. The full schedule and list of deadlines have made it difficult for me to find my way back to the blog. As a small re-entry back into the blogosphere, I wrote this small piece on perspective. It’s my buzzword right now, because my perspective can be a little cloudy at times. I look out the window of graduation and see nothing. If you asked me where I will be in six months, all I could do is shrug my shoulders in uncertainty–another reoccurring word in my life these days. But the Lord is always faithful, and I am learning about the beauty of not knowing. I am learning that trust in a God who is certain is the silver lining to the dark cloud of uncertainty.

I found myself on a sidewalk a few weeks ago; the pavement was brown and made of a mixture of shattered pieces of rock and glass. I don’t know why I was looking down, but something caught my eye as I was staring at my shoes—a sparkling object in the middle of the mud-brown concrete. Lost in my own thought, I shifted my weight to my left foot, leaning forward slightly. The shining object disappeared. Rocking back on my right leg, it reappeared. I swayed back and forth for a minute or two, watching as the shine on the pavement came and went with every movement. At one angle, the sun splashed off the fleck of glass, making it look like a trapped diamond stuck beneath the surface. At the other angle, the fragment of concrete was impossible to pick out.

It occurred to me that all the variables in this scenario remained the same, save one. The concrete never moved. The sun never stopped shining. The only thing that changed was me. My perspective moved from one side to the other, revealing two different views of the same reality.

When we’re staring at difficult circumstances of our lives, it’s often hard to see the beauty in them. We’ve shifted our view too far one way or the other, and all we see is the muddiness of our current situation. But just because we can’t see the sun, doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just because we don’t understand the purpose of the time we’re in, doesn’t mean it there isn’t one.

Maybe all we need is a little perspective. Maybe, all we need is to lean the other way.

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Just a Dog

Just a Dog

It never made sense to me why people would mourn their pets like humans. I never understood how the loss of an animal could rock a person so deeply. I mean, they’re just dogs, right?

I never understood until today.

My very sweet friend, Sunny Magnolia Brock, lived for the last time today. After being hit by a car this morning, she went to sleep on a veterinarian’s table.

And I didn’t know it would be this hard. I didn’t know it would hurt this much.

She was the faithful face waiting for me to come home late and the constant presence who sent me off to early morning shifts. She was my not-so-surefooted friend who slid across the hardwood floor at the prospect of a hotdog. She was my napping partner, my pizza crust sharer, and my ever-present pal.

Now there’s a worn out spot in my dad’s chair and a half-empty bag of marshmallows waiting to be handed out to the good girl coming through the back door. And when I leave the house tomorrow morning, before the sun awakes, there will be no golden face to watch me slip through the door.

She was not just a dog. She was my dog. And now I understand.

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Repetition

Repetition

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!

As a writer, the best way for me to communicate is through the written word. Several years ago, I discovered that this was also true for my prayer life. I realized that I am most focused when I have a pen in my hand. The summer before my freshman year of high school, I began keeping a prayer journal. Over the past seven years, I have filled page after page with conversations I’ve had with my Savior. Sometimes, during my quiet moments with the Lord, I like to flip back through old journals to see what I was praying a year or two ago and be reminded of His faithfulness. After I started my prayer last Friday, I stopped to turn the pages of an old journal back in time to two years prior. On August 22, 2012, I asked the Lord to show me ways I could serve Him during the next months at school. I asked Him to give me opportunities to serve others throughout the day. At the end of the entry, a lump caught in my throat. My 19-year-old hand scrawled in black the same petition my 21-year-old hand had just penned in pink. “Fill me up to overflowing, today, Father, so that I may spill over onto those around me.”

Why does this matter? Why would I care so deeply about a recycled sentence? Why is this significant?

It isn’t really. It’s not anything profound or wise or new. It’s a prayer that I know millions have prayed repetitively throughout their lives. And the truth is if you were to flip back through my prayer journals, you would read that line over and over again throughout their pages. It is a daily prayer. But in that moment, I was reminded that, out of all the prayers and supplications I have uttered and written over the course of my life, this is the one that is the most important. My very life depends on the fulfillment of this request. My heart was stirred when I remembered that the Lord does not give me grace in bulk and ask that I budget it until He gives me another installment. His mercies are new every day. He gives me fresh manna for every morning. I never have to survive on stale leftovers of grace. He is faithful to provide for His children on a day-to-day, moment-by-moment basis.  And even on the days when I don’t take the time to ask for His fresh supply of mercy, He gives it to me anyway. What I needed two years ago is exactly the thing I need today. Two years from now, I will be praying for the same thing; I will never stop needing a fresh flow of His love. Because here’s the truth: my love will never be sufficient. It will never last long enough or reach deep enough. It will always come up short. If I am going to love the world like I have been called to do, it has to be His love. It has to be Him.

Streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.

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Hobby Lobby Response

Hobby Lobby Response

I hate confrontation.  I really do.  You could not have paid me enough money to join the mix of demonstrators on the steps of the Supreme Court building this morning.  However, as much as I would like to run from any type of confrontation, it is inevitable.  When Truth meets Lie, sparks are bound to ignite.  The two cannot coexist.

Today is a great day for Hobby Lobby and for religious liberty.  This victory is extra sweet when we remember all the other times we’ve lost.  However, there is also a bitterness that comes to the back of my throat when I swallow this SCOTUS decision.  It is the sour reminder of the men and women who are trapped inside the lies of this world.  The ones who are ready to fight back against this decision.  The ones who truly believe this to be a fight against women.  Because that is untrue.  It is not a war against women.  Let’s look at the facts.  There are 20 different kinds of contraceptives.  Hobby Lobby takes issue with only four of those.  That means there are still 16 types of contraceptives that the corporation will cover in its insurance plan.

The mantra of the liberal feminists on Twitter is #NotMyBossBusiness.  They are right; it isn’t. It is not a corporation’s business to interfere with whether or not an employee chooses to conceive a child.  However, the four contraceptives they refuse to cover are abortive meaning that the medication will terminate an already active pregnancy.  If a female employee went to her employer and asked for him to fund a gun purchase so that she could kill her neighbor, would the liberals be so surprised if he told her no?  The Green family believes that supplying the four abortive contraceptives is equivalent to paying for an abortion i.e. paying for murder of an unborn human life.

Like I said, it is not a war against women though many seem to be stamping their feet and crossing their arms in pitiful protest for their “rights.”  It is not a set back for women.  It actually has nothing to do with feminism.  It has everything to do with the right of an evangelical business owner to live out his/her faith not just within the confines of the church but in the workplace.  It is an issue of religious liberty—a basic and fundamental right ensured to us as American citizens by the First Amendment.

With all that said, there will still be those who believe the wrong side.  I was talking to my mother this morning about the decision and about my frustration with those who were confusing lies with truth.  In her wisdom, she said, “The god of this age has blinded them to the truth.  The [SCOTUS] decision will create opportunities to speak the truth.  They will hear it.”

They will hear it.  The question is, will they hear it from us.  Scripture says that the rocks will cry out if we don’t.

As I said before, there is always confrontation when the Truth comes face-to-face with Falsity.  It cannot be avoided.  However, we do have a choice in how we respond.  Confrontation is not synonymous with hostility.  We are called to respond but in a gracious and loving manner as Christ responded to us.

It is a day that should be celebrated.  We should rejoice in the victory for religious liberty.  However, let us not forget that our celebration should be quickly followed by our knees pressing to the floor in prayer and intercession for those who are still blinded to the Truth.

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A Story of Less and More

A Story of Less and More

My brain feels fuzzy and my fingers seem reluctant to type anything.  This is just as hard as I imagined it would be.  The past week has been a blur.  A painful blur that seemed to ball up and lodge itself in my throat.

On Monday afternoon, my phone lit up with a text message.  It was a message from a friend of mine telling me that our beloved professor and friend, Dr. Nelson, was running out of hours.  I put it from my mind as I walked into class.  I felt that it would be inappropriate to weep through a lecture on literature.  However, I was lucky my teacher let us out early because I probably couldn’t have lasted much longer.  On Tuesday night, my phone lit up with a message from the same friend and before I opened it I knew that he was gone.

There is a wealth of Dr. Nelson testimonials circulating the Internet right now.  Hundreds of people telling stories and sharing moments they spent with the man who was larger than life.  So, because of this, I thought I’d share mine.

It was the summer before my junior year in high school when I first heard about him.  My mother came home from a teaching conference at our school singing the praises of a professor called Dr. Nelson.  “Oh Elizabeth, he is the most wonderful teacher.  He makes every story come alive.  You have to get him for your UNA history class this year!”  Unfortunately, that was not the case.

On and off through high school and my dealings with the Early Scholars program, I heard whispers and rumors of this great Dr. Nelson.  My freshman year at the university was no different.

During the course of my freshman year, I became friends with Chelsea Keenum and Grace Oaks.  While at their apartment one night, they began scanning through old pictures showing me this and showing me that.  “Oh Grace, this was when___” or “Oh Chelsea, don’t you remember this?”  I listened and laughed and reminisced on memories that were not mine.  But one in particular made me pause.  It was this famous Dr. Nelson again.  They knew him.  But they did not call him professor— they called him friend.  A picture was shown to me of the two girls and their roommate standing in a neighborhood street, each next to a bicycle.  “Oh this was when we went to Dr. Nelson’s house and rode bikes after dinner with him and Miss Verlie.”

Wait.  Did I hear them correctly?  They went to dinner at a professor’s house? AND they rode bikes?  I was so confused.

Who was this man?  I had no idea, but I knew that I already liked him and I wanted to know him.

However, the summer after my freshman year, Dr. Nelson was still just a myth.  A ghost that everyone had seen but me.

If you’ve read my blog before, you know that during the summer before my sophomore year of college I lived for a month in the country of Botswana.  The Sunday before we left, our team had gathered in the front of the sanctuary to be commissioned for the trip by our church family.  My team members and our families stood around chatting as the sanctuary began to empty.  “Dr. Nelson! Miss Verlie!”  Chelsea had spotted the couple walking down from the balcony.  They had come to see her off.  I stood there dumbfounded and absolutely tongue-tied.  The famous couple was most certainly not a myth anymore and I was beside myself with excitement.

Thus began my friendship with Dr. Larry Nelson.

On our trip Chelsea talked a lot about him and Miss Verlie.  She told me that they had already planned to have dinner upon her return to the States and she asked if I would like to join them.  UM, YES.  Dreams really do come true, people.

A few months after the first “edifying gathering” that happened around the Nelson dining table, I was again invited for Miss Chelsea’s Birthday Celebration.  Dr. Nelson opened the door for us and greeted each one with a hug and a greeting.  When he got to me he exclaimed, “Oh Miss Elizabeth!  I did not know that we would have the honor of your presence this evening.”

“Oh…um, I’m sorry…I thought Chelsea told you…I’m sorry, I would’ve asked…I guess I should have told you…I’m really sorry.” (I have an extraordinarily advanced case of The Excessive Apologetics, you see.)

But amidst my stuttering, Dr. Nelson bellowed, “No, no, no! Miss Elizabeth, we are honored you’re here.  I’m so glad you could join us!  Miss Verlie, look who’s here!  It’s our friend, Miss Elizabeth!  She’s here to help us celebrate Miss Chelsea’s birthday!”  As we walked into the kitchen, I noticed the table looked especially celebratory, with candles and a sign that Dr. Nelson had printed.  It had a picture of “Miss Chelsea” in the center with the guests’ names on the sides.  My name was not on the list as I had been a surprise addition.  As we chatted with Miss Verlie, he paced across the kitchen floor a few times, mumbling to himself about how he wished he had known I was coming.  Chelsea insisted she had told him, but still, he looked very uncomfortable.  He asked Miss Verlie how long he had until supper was ready.  Before she had time to finish the phrase, “only a few minutes,” he had disappeared around the corner and up the stairs.

Five minutes later, he burst back into the room, looking much more jovial and satisfied with himself.  “Look, Miss Elizabeth! I added your name to Miss Chelsea’s birthday sign!” Proudly he showed me the fresh new paper, and there was my name, included with all the others.

“Dr. Nelson, you didn’t have to worry about that! It wasn’t a big—”

“Oh yes it was! Yes it was! You are our very special guest and this is a very special evening celebrating Miss Chelsea!  I want her to remember everyone who was here tonight!”

As if it were ever possible to forget an encounter with Dr. Nelson.

It was the simplest of acts but it spoke volumes about who he was.  He was a man with an eye for the details.  He never overlooked anyone.  And he always called you friend.

Many Wednesday nights during that semester, I sat in the overcrowded Phi Mu common room, my face flushed in the dead of winter from the excessive body heat that filled every corner of the room.  Sometimes I would get so hot my eyes would start to water.  I squirmed in my folding chair and tried simultaneously to stretch out my legs and not kick anyone in the back.  And sitting there, shoulder to shoulder with kids I had never seen before, I would listen with rapt attention to Dr. Nelson share the good news of the Gospel.

After one particular Bible study, my friend Betsi and I stayed until all the others had left.  We wanted to talk to Dr. Nelson and Miss Verlie.  “Dr. Nelson, this is such a wonderful thing you are doing!  I think there were more people here this week than last week.”  I actually knew it for a fact judging by how hot and red my face had become.

“Oh, well, Miss Elizabeth we are blessed.  Miss Verlie and I feel so blessed that you all would spend your Wednesday nights here with us.  You know, every Wednesday I never know if anyone is going to show up, and then every week I am blown away.”

“Of course they’ll show up, Dr. Nelson!  People love you!”

I was incredulous to know that he could think otherwise.

“Well, thank you…but less Larry, more Jesus, Miss Elizabeth.  Less Larry, more Jesus.”

This was the Nelson-ism that was carved onto my heart from the very first time I heard him say it: “Less Larry, more Jesus.”  In four simple words, Dr. Nelson shared his testimony.  As I grew to know him better, I learned that it was more than just an “ism.”  It was the beat of his heart.  It was embedded into the strands of his DNA.  It was his life’s purpose.  Less Larry, more Jesus.

That’s all he wanted in life.  He wanted those who saw him to see Jesus.  He wanted those he loved to experience the Creator of love.  He wanted, more than anything, to look like Jesus to those around him.  Less Larry, more Jesus.

This profound statement seeped a little deeper into my skin every time he said it.  And he said it often.

When I found out that Dr. Nelson’s time here was almost through, I immediately thought of this phrase.  I got the most powerful picture in my head of Dr. Nelson being ushered into the throne room of Heaven.  Kneeling before the Lord of Heaven and he hears, “Well done, Larry Nelson, my good and faithful servant.”  He is handed a crown of the most royal and exquisite beauty, but he doesn’t even see it.  With arms outstretched, he lays his crown at the feet of Jesus and says, “Less Larry, more Jesus.”

Those four words embody so perfectly the life we have been called to live as believers.  Less of us, more of Jesus.

I would be remiss (and absolutely chastised if he knew I’d done it) if I spent all this time telling you about the things I loved most about Dr. Nelson without sharing the One whom he loved the most:  Jesus.  There is no sweeter name.

As Dr. Nelson said, we all come with our empty beggar’s cup outstretched, our knees to the hard ground, looking for something.  Looking for something to fill our cup.  More time.  More money.  Validation.  Security.  Relationships.  We cram all of these and more into our tiny beggar’s cup, yet there is always room enough for a rattle.  It is never quite full.  Nothing ever satisfies.

Until we meet Jesus.  He is the only one who satisfies.  Who leaves no space for wanting more.  His grace is enough.  It is sufficient for all your weaknesses.  It fills in all the cracks.  He makes all things new.  All things.  Even that thing that you see in your life as irreparably damaged.  There is nothing he can’t heal or redeem.  Isaiah 59:1 says, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear.”   There is no pit too deep.  There is no sin too great.  There is no valley too steep that He cannot reach you.  He is able.

There is no greater decision you can make than surrendering your life to the One who made it.

This is my prayer:  that there may be less of me seen by the world around me and more of Jesus seen through my life.

“Less Larry, more Jesus, Miss Elizabeth.  Less Larry, more Jesus.”

Yes sir, Dr. Nelson.

Less Elizabeth, more Jesus.

 

If you’re interested in reading more about Dr. Nelson, here are a few links to other blogs:

What Dr. Nelson Would Want Me to Tell You by Chelsea Keenum

A Forever Person by Kaitlin Chappell

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Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

It was a terrible decision from the get-go.  I should never have left the house.  I should have done this weeks ago.  But I didn’t and now I had to face the consequences.  I had to go.

I pulled out of my safe little driveway and left my safe little neighborhood to enter the great and dangerous throng of Christmas shoppers, who also should have done their gift purchasing when the masses were at a normal level.  Because let me tell you, the masses were too much Saturday night.  Too much.  In fact, I came dangerously close to having a full-blown panic attack right there in the Target parking lot.  Car horns were sounding, children were screaming, people were everywhere and I just could not handle it all.

I was reminded of a Christmas two years ago when I decided to go Christmas shopping with my parents.  I had just finished my first semester of college and knew of no better way to spend my new freedom from academia than trotting behind Big John and Charm through every department store in Florence.  Still don’t, truthfully.  We laughed and chatted and had a right splendid time.  Everything was sparkly and covered in evergreens.  Beautiful.

But I’ll never forget the conversation I overheard as we entered one of the stores.  A man and a woman were leaving, passing us with scowls on their faces.  She was muttering something about what they had left to buy and where they should go next.  He trailed a step behind her, rolling his eyes.

“I just really wish Christmas was over already.”

If you had been there with me and listened really carefully, you would’ve heard a small crack split the walls of my heart.  It hurt to hear this man wish away the greatest time of year.  And it hurt more to realize why he wanted it in the past.

But truthfully, I understand.  I get it.  Christmas is hard.  It can be painful in more ways than one.

Money’s tight.

Gifts are a nightmare.

The crowds are infuriating.

Family is stressful.

Or sometimes, family is missing from the table.

As much as I wish it would, life doesn’t stop at Christmas.  It doesn’t pause or give you a chance to catch your breath.  Suffering doesn’t take a holiday.  Life is still hard and ugly even when the outside is covered in lights.

I get that.

But the thing is, we aren’t celebrating the lights because they will go out.  We aren’t celebrating the gifts because they cannot last forever, no matter what the warranty says.  We don’t celebrate the songs or the traditions because soon, they will be over.

Here’s what we celebrate.

We celebrate the fact that 2,000 years ago, God stepped into the world as a precious, little baby.  We celebrate Jesus coming to where we were—lost, sinful, dead—and giving the world life.  We celebrate the glorious truth that God is not dead, nor does He sleep.  He is alive.  And He came to save us.

We celebrate that humanity’s redemption story started in a manger.  And we celebrate that it didn’t stop there.  We celebrate Jesus.

This is the cause for rejoicing.  This is the cause for all of it.  The lights, the songs, the gifts, the family.  All of it.

Because here’s the thing.  When Christmas ends, the lights will come down from the trees.  The radio stations will put away their Christmas mixes.  The gifts will get stuffed into closets, forgotten, or returned.  The stuff will all go away.  And we’re still left with the life we had before.  Some hands will still be full to the brim with problems.  Some hearts still overflowing with heartache and sorrow.  The things that were vaguely hidden by the tinsel and holiday punch resurface with a vengeance, brazen and completely exposed.  No more holiday cheer to mask them.

Yet Jesus is still there.  He is still the reason we sing.  We celebrate His life on December 25th just as celebrate it on January 25th.  He doesn’t change.  His gift of salvation doesn’t go away.  He will still be the same Savior.  The same Prince of Peace.  The same Emmanuel; God with us.  He will still be the God who came for us.  Who required nothing from us.  The God who took on flesh and came to give us life.

Don’t miss this.  Don’t be consumed by consumerism.  Remember the reason we celebrate.  And if you have never had Jesus be the center of your celebration, change that this year.  He came for you.  He came to save you.

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In Everything Give Thanks

In Everything Give Thanks

I’ve been thinking a lot about Thanksgiving.  And I’ve been thinking about all the things I’m thankful for.  But, do you know something?  As I was thinking about all the blessings for which I’m grateful, I also remembered that there are some things that I’m not that excited about.  There are some things in my life that I probably wouldn’t count as blessings.

Our culture tells us to sift through the circumstances in our lives, pick out the good ones, the pleasant ones, the easy ones, and give thanks for them.  What do we do with everything else though? What do we do with the things that aren’t good or pleasant or easy?

Well, we give thanks for those, too.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

–Thessalonians 5:16-18

Give thanks for it all.

Give thanks for the turkey made by your Mama.

And give thanks for the burnt cookies made by your sweetest niece.

Give thanks for the leaf in the table that makes it wider for all the extra smiles.

And give thanks for the card table you sit at with all the sticky-fingered gems of the family.

Give thanks for the laughs you share around the table.

And give thanks for the tears that come when you see the empty seat that ought to be filled.

Give thanks for the gathering of family.

And give thanks for jobs that might be hindering the reunions.

Give thanks for the friends.

And give thanks for the enemies.

Give thanks for the money in the bank.

And give thanks for the bills you have to pay.

Give thanks for the spring in your step.

And give thanks for the ache in your knees.

Give thanks for the promotion at work.

And give thanks for the prognosis at the doctor’s office.

Give thanks for good.

And give thanks for the bad.

Give thanks in the light.

And give thanks in the dark.

Scripture doesn’t give a filter through which we can sift our circumstances and sort them into piles of good and bad.  “Give thanks in ALL circumstances.”

Why?

Because the Lord is worthy of all the praise and all the thanks in every situation.  He does not sway with our circumstances.  And that, my friend, is enough to cause thanksgiving.

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County Road 8

County Road 8

I was going to write something deep and theological for this post.  I was going to wow you with all my learning and stuff.

But I can’t, y’all.  I just can’t.

I am currently working off of 2½ hours of sleep.  Why, you ask? Because of The Super Big and Important Project that was DUE TODAY.

I woke up this morning at 6:35, and it took me all of five minutes for me to realize that I had somewhere to be at 7.

The somewhere was prayer meeting.  I forgot about prayer meeting.  Go ahead; throw your stones.

I was absolutely frantic.  I had no time for makeup.  No time to make my top knot look more like messy chic and less like a mushroom cloud explosion of hair.  Seriously, it’s a miracle that I made it out of the house with pants on.

So because of this, my mental capacity has been teetering precariously on the verge of total expiration due to The Super Big Important Project and I probably should avoid any and all things that require a deep thought process.

(It’s actually probably a bad idea for me to be participating in any sort of communication until I’ve had a nap.  But hey, who needs reason right?)

So instead of deep and theological, I give you, ladies and gentlemen, the shallow and meaningless account of

Eight Marvelous Things I Saw on My Journey To and From County Road Eight

Some of you know that I work for a local State Farm agent taking pictures for insurance claims.  For those of you who didn’t know…now your life is complete.  While out taking pictures yesterday, I saw some things that just tickled me to absolute pieces.

  1. A Hearse: The first house I stopped at was a sweet little one level building, tucked in behind a few pine trees.  When I got out of the car, I saw the front end of a vehicle sticking out from behind the other end of the house.  I walked to the back of house to get a better picture when I stopped short.  That was not a car.  It was a hearse.  I. WAS. DONE.  I had visions of being the new screaming protagonist in the next Stephen King novel.  NO THANKS.
  2. Miss Patti’s Day Care Center: In case you didn’t already know, Florence is really Stars Hollow.
  3. The Dog From Because of Winn Dixie: There she was, just trotting down the road.  I was star struck.  It’s not everyday I come across a celebrity of that stature.  But let me tell you, I have some shocking news.  She’s still in the grocery store biz but has actually changed her stage name to Piggly Wiggly.
  4. A Chicken Who Had Run Away From Home:  That’s right.  Just a lone chicken, strutting his stuff, exploring the great, wide-open spaces.  Why? Because this is America, where chickens are free to roam.
  5. The Fattest Basset Hound I’ve Ever Seen: Strolling prestigiously down his driveway, he might as well have been wearing a top hat and an eyeglass.  I presumed he was just going to get his mail.  Because I promise y’all, HE OWNED THAT HOUSE.
  6. Iron City International Airport: I’m just going to give you a visual on this one and let it be.

photo

7. The Chicken Community That Was Missing a Sister: Fifty chickens in their little upside down, blue barrel houses, all looking around confused. Only the second time I passed this scene did I noticed the leashed, crazed-looking mountain dog, pacing back and forth amongst all those clucking, emotional females.  Bless him.

And finally, my absolute favorite find from the whole day…

8. Hillbilly Dave’s Backwoods Recording Studio: My new single, “County Road 8,” will be landing soon.  Be looking out, yo.

Okay, now I’m out of fun things to ramble about and the Dr. Quinn episode I was simultaneously watching has ended so, I think I’m done.  Excuse me while I go sleep off my anxiety about Sully’s latest injury and try to subconsciously process all the drama happening “out west.”

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