Friday, June 19, 2015

What a Privilege

Sometimes, wow...I seriously love my life.

Y'all. This week has been hard. From start to finish (and it's not even over yet!) It's been hard physically, hard emotionally, hard spiritually, hard from a parenting perspective...

But in the midst of my exhaustion and moments of fear and doubt, God whispers to me that He's got this.  Why do I fight that so much? Why do I doubt?

I went to bed about 2 hours ago - and have already been woken twice by little people in utero and out (ha) My mind was working overtime and I picked up my phone to see messages that had poured in after our Nourish Friday night dinners ended.

By the way, for all of you who attend or host a dinner, this is probably my favorite part of the weekend so keep reaching out to us.

I read messages, I scrolled through pictures and I just burst into tears.

My heart is so full.

I am so thankful.

Women of Nourish, I haven't even met most of you! But my gosh...You. Are. Inspiring.

Thank you for being brave and for showing up. Thank you to those of you who open your homes and welcome in strangers. Thank you to those of you who leave your house or work on a Friday or Saturday night and step into the new and the unknown.

Thank you fighting back against the stereotype that all women are mean girls. Thank you for taking a risk.

6 or 7 years ago, working with a large group of women like this would've been the last thing on my mind. If you'd told me about Nourish then, I'd have laughed in your face.

This passion we have, for seeing each of you connect and be part of something...I just never would have seen it coming.

Shaunna and I - we don't know what we're doing here. We just felt God had put this passion in our hearts so we jumped. We are figuring this out month by month, day by day. If you knew how much we talked about you, prayed for you, thought about you - well you'd probably think we were crazy stalkers. But really, we LOVE each of you.

It isn't easy keeping tabs on a group of women that spans across the city, that isn't focused on any particular group or church or religion or age, etc. It makes my head hurt sometimes, worrying that we've dropped the ball on something or missed someone or something or hurt someone's feelings accidentally. Have we been too churchy or not churchy enough? I can't tell you how many times I've woken in a panic in the middle of the night sure that we'd forgotten to respond to an email or put someone in a group.

But as each month passes, one thing I know for sure - God is placing each of you in your group for a reason. He is orchestrating your lives, your friendships...He is weaving together a beautiful and rich story of love and acceptance and Shaunna and I get to see it happen. What a privilege.

I. Love. You.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Love is a Verb

Boy social media has been fun this week, hasn't it? (sarcasm)

I can hardly scroll through my feed without being told how to feel, think or act about Caitlyn Jenner, especially because I call myself a follower of Christ.

And since my opinions and thoughts on the whole thing aren't generally aligned with what seems to be popular thought, I don't even want to go there - this isn't a debate about what she should and shouldn't do with her life and what God says or doesn't say about it in the bible.

But rather this is a plea to my friends to stop using social media as a way to be lazy Christians.

It's fine to have opinions, we all do. Our thoughts, experiences, feelings and emotions shape who we are and how we feel about things. I personally don't care what you think or don't think about this whole thing.

But what saddens me is the blatant disgust, attempts at shaming and name calling I have seen from so many people. Shouting bible verses behind the relative anonymity of a computer screen is not really what I believe God had in mind when he commanded us to love others. Assigning greater weight to certain sins over others is not our job.

Last night, I responded to a comment thread about this whole thing, and about the concept that those of us who aren't in an uproar about someone else's life must surely be confusing love with acceptance - that we can love without agreeing with someone's actions. That whole love the sinner, hate the sin thing.

And while I suppose there is truth to that line of thought, to ME, it seems that so many people think love means shouting your opinions on Facebook while sitting on your couch in your pjs watching Netflix. Because as long as we are talking about what God thinks, we're getting the job done right?

Sure I'm not a theologian or a gospel scholar but see, I'm pretty convinced that isn't love at all.

A few years ago, a pastor friend of mine (Holla Jared Kirk!) gave a sermon about love - I don't remember much of it (sorry, Jared...mommy brain and all...) but I DO remember him saying that love is a verb. I've heard this several times since then, so I know you've probably heard it too - but it always sticks with me.

Love isn't just words. It's actions.

Saying you love someone isn't enough. As humans, we respond not just to words but to touch, to kindness, to actions. We observe everything around us and we internalize it and it shapes who we are.

It has become far too easy for us to say passively that we are praying for someone. To talk about our faith on social media or in blogs and think that's enough. To shout about what we are against instead of what we are for. To point fingers and act like someone else sins more than we do.

But the truth is, Christ died for my wretchedness as much as anyone else's. And I don't know about you, but if you really stop and think about that - that'll kick you in the gut. He died for MY sins. For MY wickedness. When you get right down to it, we are all the same in that way.

No, you don't have to agree with someone's actions to love them. But I do have to wonder - isn't it critical to get in the mess with someone you claim to love? Get down in there, sit there with them, try to understand what's happening and what they are struggling with. Listen to their heart, their feelings, their emotions. Learn who they ARE.

In my personal life, I can attest that over the past couple of years I have harbored a LOT of anger towards someone I'm supposed to love. And some of that anger was justified, some of it came from a place of hurt because I had been deeply hurt.

But if I'm being honest, a lot of it came from a place of fear and of misunderstanding.  And yes, my fear and misunderstanding was normal and justified. Most everything I feared would happen DID in fact happen. I felt angry, disgusted, and furious because I didn't want to truly understand what was happening with the other person.  Some of it - a lot of it even - was justifiable.

But if you want to live out the gospel, you have to stop thinking about your own fears and embrace the unknown. To open your mind and listen to what God tells you.

And yeah, sometimes it sucks. Because when you get right down to it - we are all failing. And to admit that God sacrificed His Son for you as much as He did someone else will shine a light on your own brokenness faster than you can blink. But that's what is beautiful about the gospel. Our failures, our sins, our mistakes don't define us.

Hey friends, let's not just preach love. Let's actually give it. The gospel is so much more beautifully lived out through actions and not just words. We have an incredible message of radical love and grace. And if we are commanded to love others, that means we have to try to live life with them and not against them.

(Also y'all - Snopes is a fantastic website to verify what you're posting as truth...just sayin)