Thursday, January 26, 2017

#WhyIMarch

Tomorrow will be a first for me. 
I'll be attending the March for Life in Washington, DC. 

In my entire life, I have never attended any political rally, speech, march, demonstration, protest, sit-in, sing-in or love-in. Maybe I'd have gone if it were an 'eat chocolate, drink coffee and talk about it-in', but I'm not sure that's a thing. 

In any event, I've always been the armchair commentator. 
You know, the one to talks back to the tv news or scrunches up their face at the newspaper article? Yeah, that's been me - knowing what I think and believe, but never daring to step out and speak up or be seen, with the exception of what I write and share on social media. 
It's really easy to hide behind a computer screen - we see a lot of that every day, don't we? 
Some may say that because I write about my pro-life views, because I post, tweet and share my support for all life from conception to grave that I'm not hiding. 
But in my heart, I know it's exactly what I've been doing. 

And it stops tomorrow. 

Truthfully, I suppose that when tomorrow is done, I still won't have attended a political function. 
To me, the March For Life represents at it's core, a HEART issue, not a political one. 
It's a march for the hearts of our nation. 

The March For Life is necessary because collectively and individually, our hearts have turned to stone. 
We have become consumed by our selfishness and pride as we say "ME first!" "MY choice!" "MY life!"
We refuse to recognize that the LIFE we are foolishly idolizing is a gift to us. 
We are not guaranteed our next breath, yet we demand to inhale and exhale by standards we've chosen. 
We forget that our lives have a purpose and meaning beyond our own selfish desires. 
And in doing so, we ignore the truth that our calling is to love.
To Love God and love people.
And because we ignore our calling, the only life we value is our own.

In our society, many would consider my views to be radical. 
And I will agree in part because of this fact: 
18 years ago, my heart was radically changed by Jesus Christ. 
Jesus, the life-giver, turned my heart of stone into a heart of flesh and gave me back my life from the pit I had drug it into. 
A life that I now willingly choose to live for him. 

Doesn't it strike you as odd that living life as a Christ-follower is considered RADICAL? 
Having a belief that all LIFE is sacred is RADICAL?
I confess, I can't fully comprehend that thinking. 
Not anymore anyway. 

Many of you have read my story, you know about the abortion choices I made a lifetime ago, and I pray every day that you now see Christ in me instead of the broken and lost soul I was before. 
I'm here to tell you that if Jesus chose to love ME, chose to die for ME, chose to rescue ME - with my past and my foolish, selfish choices and my shame, then he surely wants to do the same for you. 
To change your heart and allow it to beat again. 

In October of 2016, I was given the privilege of sharing my story with my church family. 
I've attached the recording for you here:

http://impactchurchnova.com/?sermons=threads-the-gospel-and-abortion

Listen to it and see the reality of how God can work miracles in even the hardest and most broken hearts. 
Share it with someone who may need to hear it. I have no secrets anymore - there is great freedom in that. We all know someone who needs to be free today. Let what God did in my life speak truth into theirs - and yours. 

Abortion is wrong. It is a great evil lie that we as a society have chosen to believe is a right. 
It's the defining tragedy of our time. 
But the greatest tragedy of all are the hearts who choose to refuse the truth of the God who created them. Who refuse to embrace the love and forgiveness he so freely offers. Who choose their heart of stone instead of the heart that beats full from the life-giver, Jesus.

This is #WhyIMarch tomorrow - praying that you will exchange your hearts of stone for ones that beat for LIFE. 


If you are in the Washington, DC area tomorrow and would like to join the March For Life, here is a link to their website for all the official information. 

It was just announced this morning that our new Vice-President, Mike Pence, will be addressing the marchers - the first time ever for our nation. 
Come out and join me, join us. If you cannot, then pray. Pray that God will heal our hearts and that he will heal our land. 




Monday, January 23, 2017

Be Right, or Be Kind?


“Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” - Ephesians 4:29

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” - Ephesians 4:32-33

These verses from the Bible are challenging me lately. 
And whether you are a Christ-follower or not, I need you to understand why. 

I’ve sat back over these past months, weeks and days and read the online postings of friends tearing down friends. Pointed quotes and snarky memes, directed at friends, designed to wound, posted in the name of ‘being heard’.
Blocking, unfriending, banning. Friends.

I’ve seen strangers lashing out at other strangers. Over a perceived belief or a poorly worded phrase. Because the screen affords anonymity. Sometimes. But sometimes it goes viral - spreading harsh vitriol that uplifts no one.

I’ve seen media outlets of all descriptions and all sides fostering distrust and suspicion regarding anyone who doesn't agree with their viewpoint. 
I’ve read words shared in anger, hurt, pride, defense, outrage, fear, gloating, pain, self-righteousness and condescension….

And before you say - “Well, it’s a social media problem. You should avoid social media if you don’t want to be affected by it.” 
Just stop. Slam the brakes on that thought. 
It’s not a social media problem. 

It’s a heart problem. 
Our hearts are the source of the conflict. 
Social media, heck - any media - is simply a Roman coliseum experience on steroids where the war is played out for everyone to see. 
Because everyone loves a trainwreck, right? Even as we claim to be shocked by it, we all love to witness the horrific spectacle, moving in for the kill, the fight to the death…..of what? 
Kindness? Civility? Empathy? 
Friendship?
Love?

At what expense?
And for what purpose? 
So we can be right?

Being right will be a cold comfort on the day you realize you are standing completely alone on the mountain you built of your pride and arrogance.

What I have to say here is for everyone - Christian, non-Christian, everyone. 
Christians haven’t cornered the market on kindness, grace and love - these are principles that all of humankind need to live by. 
But because I am a Christ-follower, a Christian, I write, think and feel from that perspective. I use scripture as my guide and I depend on prayer to God to focus and ground me. I daresay if I were Atheist, you would expect that I’d write, think and feel from that perspective, would you not? 
Of course you would. 
And just as many of you would find points of disagreement with the Christian me as you would an Atheist me. 
And there would likely be many points of agreement as well. 
Our problem lies in choosing to focus on the conflicts - because we have the ability to do so. 
But does that make it the right thing to do? 

Sure, we have the ability to be hateful with our words and actions, the ability to slander and bully and berate those who disagree with us. 
But does that make us better people?
It may make us feel better in the moment, but what about when that victory you feel dissipates? When the triumphant brow-beating you delivered fades away? 
Isn’t that a hollow victory when the greater purpose served was in tearing down a friend? In putting a stranger in their place? In teaching them a ‘lesson’?
And what is that lesson exactly? 
How to hate? How to divide? How to destroy?
We humans don’t need that lesson taught to us - sadly, it’s innate.

Kindness, grace and humility are the hard lessons to learn. 
Because they require putting the interests of others before our own. Putting the feelings of others before our own. They require caring about the collateral effect of our words on others.
Kindness, grace and humility do not require that I agree with all the beliefs and life choices of others - agreement shouldn’t be a relationship definer. But when you can enjoy community and relationships defined by an unselfish attitude you can exist in peace even when your beliefs are as wide as the Grand Canyon.

“Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” - Philippians 2:3-4

Yes, that’s from the Bible too, as I said earlier, scripture directs me. But for those of you who may not read or believe the Bible - how can you say that it’s bad advice? 
Choosing to live your life as described here doesn’t make you a Christ-follower, but it sure can go a long way towards making you a better person. 

If each of us going forward makes the choice to think before we speak; to stop before we hit ‘send’; to think about how we would want to be spoken to and treated, we can help reverse the hateful path we’ve started down. 

Remember I said at the beginning of this post that the verses from Ephesians were challenging me lately? 
That’s because everything I’ve talked about here has been a struggle for me too. I’m not pointing any fingers without including myself in the mix. 
Just because I follow Christ and try earnestly to live a life that imitates him, doesn’t mean I don’t wrestle with the desire to ‘be heard’. To bite back when I feel attacked. To write snarky, pointed and yes, mean comments and posts. 
And I thank God that most of the time he prevents me from causing pain to others by acting on what I want and feel. 

If you aren’t a Christ-follower, I cannot and should not hold you to a Christ-like standard, and I won’t. But I do hold you to a standard of common decency and respect for your fellow man. I believe it’s what you would expect to receive for yourself and you would not be wrong.

Christian friends, hear me on this - Jesus clearly tells us that we are to Love God and love people. 
In that order. 
If you claim to love God yet you are being unloving or unkind or ungraceful or proud or arrogant or boastful or rude - you are not living out your calling. 
Period. 
So stop it. 
Remember who you are and WHOSE you are. 

We are maligned and mistrusted because we don’t live consistently with what we say is the
truth of who Jesus is. 
And we are called to speak that truth in love
To tell others about the truth of Christ’s birth, life, death, burial and resurrection and that he did it for ALL of us. Everyone.
Just because people don’t agree with or understand our convictions doesn't mean that our calling is any less - the very people who hate us are the ones who need the love of Christ so desperately. 
Our timidity has made us vulnerable and weak - if the world around us is unafraid to be bold about what they believe, why are we afraid to be bold about the love of Christ? 

Kindness, grace, humility. 
Living by those attributes will allow you the space to be bold because it will provide a foundation of trust. The world esteems those who stand firmly within their convictions - even if they don’t share them. 
The loudest and harshest voices in the room hold the attention for a while, but its the soft, beckoning voice of grace that draws the hurting and wounded heart. The hearts that only Jesus can heal. 

“Above all, you must live as citizens of heaven, conducting yourselves in a manner worthy of the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come and see you again or only hear about you, I will know that you are standing together with one spirit and one purpose, fighting together for the faith, which is the Good News. Don’t be intimidated in any way…..” 
- Philippians 1:27-28a



Friday, July 8, 2016

Hate Never Heals


This is a scene that was repeated in neighborhoods all across America this morning. 

A Husband or Wife, Dad or Mom, Son, Daughter, Brother, Sister, Partner, Friend - standing by their mobile office, preparing for another workday in a world where they are both loved and reviled simply because of the shirt on their backs.

Our neighborhood may be similar to yours - quiet tree-lined streets where children ride their bikes and neighbors wave as they pass each other walking the dog or taking their morning run. 
Or it could be very different - urban, rural, condos, farmhouses - it really doesn’t matter, every neighborhood across America is full of people that my husband and people like him have sworn to protect with their lives.

At our July 4th block party, our neighbors told us they would miss seeing the police car in front of our house at the end of the month. 
It won’t be there anymore because after 27 years in that uniform, driving that car, my husband is retiring. 
I only have to witness this necessary ritual 20 more days. 
Today, it seems like an eternity away.

Our neighbors told me that they’ll miss my husband’s police car parked there because it made them feel safe. 
Protected. 
Sheltered from the random and mostly petty crimes that occur in every neighborhood. 

And while that may be true - it certainly slows people down - I won’t miss it at all. 
Because when he turns that car in and takes off his uniform and vest for the last time, the targets they create will be gone. 
And I will be able to breathe freely once more.

In all honesty, it’s only been the past few years that I’ve felt a heightened sense of concern for my husband and his peers. 
You see, they are/were my peers too. 
Having done the job myself, walked in those boots, dealing with the sometimes unspeakable events in our society, I was comfortable in the knowledge that it was simply his job. Because it had been mine. 
No different than the doctor, lawyer, cook or bricklayer.

A chosen profession like any other. 
But one in which it’s professionals are well-educated, well-trained, well-armed against 99.9% of the circumstances and threats they are faced with every day. 
I can remember telling my Mother - who worried and prayed for me every day - that I was in no more danger than anyone else simply walking out their front door. And I was more highly trained. 
Only part of that statement is true today as the tone and tenor in our nation has changed dramatically.

My years in patrol had me working through a huge sea-change in policing in our country. I watched the LA riots with the rest of my peers and was on duty the night the Rodney King verdict was announced. 
There was a palpable shift in the atmosphere that night and in the days following - shattered trust on both sides of the badge. 
The same type of shattered trust that happens every time we allow others to drive a narrative when they don’t have or even care to know all the facts. 

Human nature dictates that we selfishly cling to our own version of truth. 
But a personal truth without facts always leads to disaster. 

Many years have passed since I hung up my badge and gun belt, and in those years, the era of personal truth has largely replaced the era of personal responsibility. 
The everyday demons we face in our nation today have been born of the idea that one truth, one set of ideals, one set of ‘rights’ is greater than another. 
We regularly assert our rights and cry foul and lob insults and spew hatred largely protected by the anonymity of a computer screen. 
In most cases, a device that protects the sender from the physical reality of the chaos their words create. 
Because words always spur action. Somewhere in someone.

“…the tongue is a small thing that makes grand speeches.
But a tiny spark can set a great forest on fire. And among all the parts of the body, the tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself.” - James 3:5b-6

And when the words are hate-filled, fact-empty vitriol against what many don’t choose to even try to understand, it creates hate-filled sometimes violent action against those like my husband who have sworn to serve and protect us. 

I know. 
Sometimes those who wear the badge dishonor the badge. 
And it’s shameful and tragic.
Anyone who wears the badge in honor and pride wants nothing more than to see justice done and the dishonorable punished. 

And I know. 
There are groups of people in our nation who even today in many places are treated as less than; unworthy. 
And it’s shameful and tragic. 
Anyone who truly loves their neighbor should want nothing more than to see the injustice of it end. 

And because it’s easy - and comfortable - we lay blame at the feet of anyone who represents our version of the ‘enemy’. 
One group feels no protection from the police car parked on the quiet tree-lined street. 
One group feels no understanding from the people who are seeking justice at any cost. 

But the answer we seek is largely rejected by all because it requires a heart change. 
Because we are all a hopelessly selfish and entitled people. 

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?
But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives…” - Jeremiah 17:9-10a

The divide that’s happened in our country can’t be legislated away, because no law can rule the human heart. 
The hate that is pervasive in the air is born of both the worst type of selfishness and the deepest kind of self-loathing. 

We would rather point the finger and place the blame anywhere but at ourselves. 

We rail at our leaders and blame inanimate objects when the real enemy is within. 
As a nation we collectively need to take responsibility for our individual thoughts and actions. But when we truly look inside ourselves, we don’t always like what we see. 
It’s just easier not to acknowledge it. 
And ignoring it will never heal us, not individually, not as a nation.

Change will come when we set aside our pride and our demands and our ‘rights’ and begin to really see others as they are - uniquely created by God in his image. 

We all are. 

You may not share my Christian beliefs, and that’s your choice, but I can’t see how anyone who truly wants to witness a different sea-change in our nation today would refuse to step away from their prideful circle long enough to esteem others as they deserve, and listen
And love them in their humanity even if you don’t agree with them. 

We can rage against the divide, the anger, the hate that pervades our world with intense energy, but if we are choosing not to show love and respect and kindness to others, then we are choosing to remain in that pit and we are the problem.

For me personally, 20 days stands between me and an exhale. Our active law enforcement days will be behind us, individually and as a family. 
While my heart will always bleed blue for my brothers and sisters still in the work, deeper still runs a hope for healing and for a new beginning in our nation. 

Hate will never heal, but Love surely can.


Tuesday, June 28, 2016

She Gets It




It was one of those phone calls that every Jesus-loving Mama wants to get from their child - a happy and rambling to almost babbling tumble of words because she’s so excited to tell you what just happened. 

“Mom! 
We got to meet a bunch of people from different Student Organizations tonight and I talked to 4 churches!”
(That’s great honey...…wait, what?)

“I was trying to get information from them so I just asked the people at each booth what the Gospel meant to them. I mean, I know what it means to me and I wanted to see if their answers were Biblical before I even bothered to ask anything else.”

Sweet Lord…she really has been paying attention all these years. 

I have to come clean - I almost dropped the phone. 
Oh my word, it shouldn’t have taken me by surprise at ALL, but it SO did. 
Because even after all the years spent in our home church and all the time discipling her and taking her along on the journey to help plant a church, I never quite knew that she really ‘got it’
Because it’s impossible to truly know the heart of another - even your own child.


Please tell me I’m not alone in this, my Mama friends. 
I know you’ve felt it too; wondered too - if the day in, day out ebb and flow of everyday faith, everyday trust and a common hope punctuated by every possible church service because it’s just. what. you. DO. really has any lasting effect on these little 'curious georges' we’ve been trusted to raise.

And I KNOW you wonder - because I have done - what do they understand about this faith of ours. 
What do they see? Really see?

They witness all the meals cooked and delivered; 
hospital rooms visited; 
prayers prayed in desperation for others and tears shed on bended knee with clasped hands; Bible pages folded, quoted and highlighted and marked; 
people gathered around the kitchen table time after time, piled up together on floor cushions and deck chairs and indian style as stories and laughter and weeping and loss and grief and joy upon joy upon joy are shared and moments are treasured among kindred hearts - all are experienced by those questioning eyes and seeking minds. 

Always watching us. 

And seeing us at our worst sometimes - anything but grace-filled or mercy-giving - but forgiven just the same. 
Thank you God for that mountainous miracle over and over again

They see the times we are barely holding on to our own faith by a thread - angry and weeping and broken and confused because WE don’t understand - how could they possibly?
They feel the shockwave of us losing our sanity over the endless legos and polly pockets and cd’s and hair clips and ice skates and video games left in the middle of the floor once again and just as quick as they take their next breath, they feel us wrap our arms around them with love and I’m sorrys and sweet kisses on their hair.

And they decide that their Mama is crazy, but Jesus loves her anyway and if He does then they should too - and again, Thank you God for the miracle of that love

And sometimes, we get to see them decide that this Jesus who loves their crazy Mama must love them too - so VERY much - and they choose to love him back and try to follow him with the special faith and beautiful trust that comes from knowing He is the essence of love. 
And we think they ‘get it’.
For a while. 

We are forced to watch them stumble and fall and pick themselves back up again and trip and stumble and fall again in a gut-wrenching cycle of stretching the rope, being jerked back and stretching it out again. 
We watch them doubt and question and struggle and fear and lose their ever lovin’ minds and thumb their nose at the truth they know…. 
and we pray - 

Oh, how we pray…..

We trust. We hope. We pray some more.


And then, in what seems like a blink of an eye, we’re driving them to college orientation and sitting in our hotel room and get the phone call that reminds us that Jesus has had them all along. 

“Mom, one of them is a church plant, like us! And they believe like we do. They’re sharing Jesus, and I could serve there - isn't that awesome?” 

It sure is baby girl. 

It sure is. 


(Photo Credit - Bethanne Runyan Photography)

Friday, June 17, 2016

A Time to Listen

(This is a repost of an essay I posted on my Facebook Page.)


On my heart tonight - 
We as a nation have been dealing with a lot of bad news lately. In just the past week, our country has had a front row seat to some awful tragedies.
The murder of a young, popular singer outside her concert venue. The evil terror attack on an LGBT nightclub that left 49 innocent people dead and many more wounded. Then the unfathomable death of a toddler at ‘the happiest place on earth’. 
Like most of you, I suspect, I watched the images and stories on our tv and read about them online and the words “Not again…” crossed my mind over and over again. Once more I felt the all too familiar grief grip my heart as our human community experienced the sadness of senseless loss of life.
Everyone’s hearts are broken in some way by tragedy.
And for a time, it binds us together.
Until we begin to ‘share’ our views. 
I watch the television news each day - primarily for the weather - but at times to get a glimpse of what others are seeing and hearing. For a while now, I’ve chosen to get my national and local news online, from a variety of sources because I want to always attempt to understand differing viewpoints. I’ve always believed that the first steps to understanding the heart and mind of another is to consider their words and actions in context of their culture.
Where they come from.
Their community, their people.
Their family.
Their beliefs, values and traditions.
The events that have shaped them.
And you have to WANT to understand them.
It’s impossible to know these things about others when you only talk at someone, not with them.
When you base your opinion of others on a what you think you know without truly understanding their heart, without caring about their cultural viewpoint, you allow misunderstanding, miscommunication and distrust to fester and grow.
I don’t always agree with these different viewpoints - truth be told, it’s not often I’m swayed from what I believe to be true.
But I’d be the worst kind of fool to not listen and try to understand. 
If you pay attention to ANY media source, there is no way you can avoid the typical armchair analysis of your social media ‘friends’ and the expert pontificating of the paid tv ‘pundits’. Everyone has an opinion and they’re not shy about sharing it. And we, probably most of us, often read or hear some things you agree with, some that you don’t. Some ideas reverberate within you and some bounce off your own teflon opinions. 
This happens every time we as a nation or a community experience tragedy.
And as much as I hate when we collectively experience tragic events, it has in the past, provided us as Americans - as humans - an opportunity for discourse.
Much needed discourse if we are to continue to understand the heart motivations of our friends and neighbors.
Unfortunately, it’s not always civil discourse and it’s here I stop in my tracks to ask where it’s all leading. 
Because lately, it feels so different. All semblance of civility has seemingly disappeared.
Words are being slung around like arrows simply to wound in the name of speaking a perceived ‘truth’.
Deliberate words.
Desperate words.
Cynical words.
Disillusioned words.
Personal words.
We’ve become so accustomed to arguing our point, angry that we’re not being ‘heard’ that we’ve stepped away from the shouting match into an all out street fight.
Pushing, shoving, spitting, pinching, biting, kicking, punching….
It’s an escalation scale I don’t even want to consider that’s now looming on our collective horizon. 
And to what end?
At what point do we stop throwing stones at each other?
When do we stop shouting at each other long enough to recognize that our chosen opponents are our friends, our neighbors, our family? We’ve become a people so obsessed with getting our own way that we have lost all sense of the humanity of others.
And in doing so we are losing ours. 
Those who know me - even peripherally - know that I’m a Christ-follower. Which, among other things, means I am called to LOVE others. It’s impossible to love others if we aren’t willing to set aside our pride and opinions and bullying tactics long enough to understand them.
To show love and kindness.
And don’t you want the same in return?
You don’t have to be a Christ-follower to show love to others or even to appreciate these words:
“Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable,
and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up,
never loses faith,
is always hopeful,
and endures through every circumstance.”
Yes, that’s from the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 to be exact.
But even if you don’t believe the Bible, how can you argue with living a life that exudes these qualities? Because the further down the degradation scale we fall, the further we get from basic human decency, respect and kindness that we all deserve. 
Hear my heart on this - we are choosing to live this way - and we can just as easily choose to not.
You don’t have to respond to anger and bitterness and insults and accusations with more of the same.
You can choose to respond out of a heart that wants to see a change, to make a difference for good.
But here’s the thing - you have to make that choice and follow through.
Saying the words, resolving to be different, determining to make a change is meaningless until you put that resolve into action.
Love in action.
Kindness in action.
Jesus gave us two commandments - superseding all others.
He said we are to Love God with all our hearts.
And He said we are to Love others in the same way we love ourselves. 
We begin to love others when we drop our fists and stones and arrows and words in order to listen.
It really is that simple.
With a Courageous Heart,
Robin

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

True Rest - Learning the Lesson

“Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”” - Matthew 11:28-30 


Like just about everyone else I know, my family and I are struggling with some pretty heavy stuff these days; some life altering decisions. 
And that’s no exaggeration. 
To say that we are all a little on edge, burdened down and anxious is kind of an understatement. 

So, when my friend Shannon posted her monthly Scripture Writing Plan for May (click HERE to download it) the fact that she was feeling impressed to focus on verses that deal with anxiety and fear was a light bulb moment for me. 
Really, it shouldn’t have been, isn’t the answer always found in the directions? The instruction manual? My light bulb should be a big flashing neon sign pointing straight to my Bible…. 
Anyway, bottom line is that it’s time for me to get my act together and really lean in to scripture once again. It's hard to hear from God if I’m not reading his word. Or talking to him. And you can't either.

The verses I shared at the beginning of this post are ones I’ve read more times than I can count over the years I’ve been walking with Jesus. So much so, that in my first reading today, I was like, “Ok, yeah, know that, get that, you take my burdens, you give me rest, blah, blah, blah.” 
Sigh. Nothing new to see here….or was there? 

When I began to actually write the verses on the page of my journal (it’s a scripture WRITING plan for a reason), I changed the phrasing, and copied them down like this: 

Then Jesus said, 
“Come to me, 
      all of you who are weary 
      and carry heavy burdens, 
      and I will give you rest. 
Take my yoke upon you. 
      Let me teach you, 
      because I am humble 
      and gentle at heart, 
      and you will find rest 
      for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy to bear, 
      and the burden I give you 
      is light.” 

I love that the physical act of writing out scripture causes you to SLOW DOWN and really SEE it, to soak it in. Because honestly, if I hadn’t, I would have missed the most important words in these verses. 

“Let me teach you…” 


Jesus knows all about a crazy, stress-filled life. He knows about life altering decisions and he knows about our trust issues. 
Boy, does he ever know about our trust issues….. 

He knows because he’s walked this earth, he lived life among us and even though it was a long time ago, do you really think the people of his day were any less stressed and complicated than we are? 
I think no……they may not have had smart phones and Facebook, but they had their own problems that make me thankful for running water and the miracle of a flushing toilet….just sayin’. 

Anyway, point is, he gets it. Gets US. 
And what he knows about us is that we don’t often have a teachable attitude, a heart that wants to learn and live what really matters in this life. What it’s truly all about. 

What we are is prideful. And stubborn. And unteachable at times because of it. 
Because well, we are. Admit it.
We run and run and run and go and go and go and push and push and push and work and work and work and we. get. weary. 
And we carry. heavy. burdens. 
We worship the busy and idolize the work and look for satisfaction in the accomplishments. 
And because it’s not Jesus we are worshipping, it makes us tired to the bone. 

Then we read these verses and think 
“Ok, Jesus, I get it. Take this burden from me, give me rest, trade my yoke for yours (whatever a yoke is), give me the light one. So I can recover and do it all over again.” 
Yeah. We do. 
Because we forget once again that it’s not all about us. 
It’s about him. 
We as Christ-followers are supposed to be learning to be more like Christ, to reflect his character instead of our own. 
And he is “humble and gentle at heart”. 
In him we “will find rest for *our souls”. 

Jesus loves us SO MUCH! 
And he wants to teach us to breathe - to walk in humility; to reflect a gentle spirit, a kind heart; to receive true rest for our self-complicated lives. 
But we have to LET HIM. 
The true rest for our souls that he promises is found when we lay aside our pride and willfulness and the idol of our busy life and let him be our God again. 
Because if anything or anyone other than Jesus is sitting on the throne of your life, you will never find rest. 
Or peace. 
Or light. 

And don't be confused - He doesn’t want us to stop using our gifts and talents. 
He doesn’t want us to stop doing work we love or caring for people we love or even doing the work of living. 
But he does call us to put HIM first. 
To let him teach us that when we do - everything else will fall into it’s proper place. 

And our burdens won’t be burdens at all - they will be joy. 
And our souls won’t be weary - they will be at rest.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

A Place to Belong


I visited the Farmer's Market in Old Town this morning. 
My senses breathed in the fresh colors of Spring,  and I couldn't help but feel the newness around me, an awakening, a promise in the air. 


My hometown was coming to life and the sound of it filled my ears with a tune born of sameness and comfort. 



Home. 
Ever the same, ever changing. 
Seasons and Years come and they go...and as much as this place I love is as familiar as the well-worn Nikes on my feet, it's also growing and blooming and reinventing itself. 
Always full of things to discover. 
Even if its as simple as finding the beauty in the purple redbud tree against the red of a vintage train caboose. 


Spring, as always, never fails to delight my eyes.

I made my few purchases of baby leaf lettuce, some wildflower honey and a loaf of fresh cheddar bread and found my way over to the gazebo to sit and finish my coffee and enjoy the sights and sounds of a new day. 


The tidal wave of nostalgia washed over me unexpectedly, forcefully, and I didn't quite know what to do with it. 
Silly me, I should have seen it coming. My heart was already full to bursting this morning. 
God knows that these past weeks have been full of head-on collision, knock me off my feet moments. Every time I turn around there's another 'last' to contend with, another reminder that this 18 year chapter in our family book is about to close.

We've come to another pivot point in our lives. 
One that reorders the days and hours of our routine (such as it is...). 
One that provides fresh challenge and purpose for my husband.

One that will carry our girl 11 hours away. 


Away to a new state, a new city, a new place to call home for the next 4 years... 
And sitting there with my thoughts and my warm cup of comfort, I couldn't help but wonder if it will give her the same sense of place, of belonging, of home that she's known her whole life thus far. 


I can't relate to a change like that. 
In a world where people change places all the time, I've never lived further than 15 miles from this place I was born and raised. The concept is foreign to me, the idea of leaving a place that's as much a part of me as the breath in my lungs. 
And truthfully, I pray that I never have to learn it. 

In talking with my sweet girl, who admittedly is sometimes unrecognizable in her overnight maturity, I know that she feels it. Feels the strain of her roots pulling on her heart as she knows she has to leave this place to pursue her passion, her dream. 



She said to me "Mom, if I could take everything about where I'm going and move it all here, I'd have everything I want. But I can't do that and I know I have to go."
I blinked and she grew up. Just like that. 
No way I was that mature at 18. 

But she is a different girl and she knows who she is and what she wants and accepts what she has to do to attain it. With a grace and a resignation that's far beyond my understanding. 


And the difference between us at 18, is that she has placed her trust and hope and future into the hands that made her. 
I could regret that I didn't do the same at her age, but I'll choose to be grateful instead. 
Grateful to our God, who in his abundant grace, taught me what I needed to learn in order to guide her. To direct her towards Him.

Our world will shift and change all the time. 
Sometimes it keeps you in a 15 mile radius. 
Sometimes it sends you 623 miles away. 

But when God is our life, He is our home.
Our place to belong.

"Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving." - Colossians 2:6-7