One Year Down

I’ve officially been at my job an entire year.

This is a blessing. Work is a blessing. And yet, it is truly not without difficulty. This has been an incredibly difficult and trying year. I’ve prayed more and cried more than I have at any other time in my life. There have been many days when I didn’t know if I could keep going or if I should.

And yet, in spite of the brokenness of sinful people working in offices marred by sin, God has been so near. He has brought people around me to encourage me and pray for me and love me on even the worst of days. He has encouraged me to work in honorable ways and love even the hardest to love. I don’t pretend like I’ve done this perfectly or even very well this year, but by God’s grace I’ve tried.

Many days, I’ve thought about the verses of this song

Oh God, you never leave my side – Your love will stand firm for all my life.

Thankful for this truth. Thankful for this year. Thankful that my God has not left my side and will not leave me in the year to come.

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My Hope

What is my hope in? Where does my joy come from?

I know the Sunday School answer is Jesus, but I want that to me so much more than a Sunday School answer. I want it to be true. Completely true.

I want my hope to be in Jesus above all else. Not in my job or the ability to budget my money well. Not in my marriage or the happiness I feel in it. These things were meant to point me toward Christ not to become their own God.

I’m fighting this in my life and I pray you are too. I don’t know what you think of when you think of what gives you the most joy in life, but I pray that it’s knowing Christ more intimately apart from all other things. I want nothing else to matter to me. By God’s grace, this can be made completely true.

“I repent of living like I deserve anything”

Every single day I hear the same words from the same person at work.

Deserve. Owed. Entitled. 

The list goes on, but you get the idea.

So much of American culture is wrapped into the idea that we are owed the things we want. The American dream is what we were promised and we should get every bit of it. When we see injustice we want it corrected instantly.

Some of this is of great good. It creates people passionate about the rights of others. People fighting for the end of abuse, slavery, poverty. We see that others basic need are not meant and we want that injustice to end.

Some of this is of no good. These ideas can also lead to thinking we’re owed every pleasure. We’re owed more vacation time,  more money,  more freedom. You get the idea.

As an American I live one of the most privileged lives and yet I can be tempted to think I deserve more. I deserve better. How false. How easy these lies are to believe. I work hard to reject this notion both in my thought and my actions.

I know I am owed very little. Yet, I have been blessed with riches beyond compare. Yes, the work is hard and the days are long, but great mercy has been bestowed to me.

Cultural Defeatism

I recently had a conversation about American culture with an acquaintance. It was an interesting  to listen to this person, with a different perspective that I, lament about the problems they see in American today.

As I listened, I couldn’t help but hear the overwhelming defeatist attitude. “That’s just the way our culture is going,” I heard over and over again. “Nothing we can do to change it.”

I refuse to have this mindset. I refuse to sit back and let the culture I love and the country I (mostly) love decay away. Now, I’m far from idealistic. (Some might even say I’m too pessimistic)  I think America can change. I I don’t think these changes will come overnight. I don’t think these changes will be easy. (Is any change easy)  If I’m honest, I might not even live to see these changes happen. The American culture may very well continue to decay on its path with no end in sight.

But, what I am optimistic about is that all things are being redeemed and will be redeemed in time. I might not see it now, but I can see glimpses of this truth everywhere and I have faith to know this is true.

I know I am not doing my part. I am not bold enough when I need to be. I can no longer sit idly by. I need to be effecting our culture in all of the ways I live my life. I need to think about what this looks like in my life and I need to pursue it voraciously.

I will not be defeated because Christ will not be defeated.

Templeness

I recently re-listened to this plenary speaker from The Gospel Coalition’s 2012 Women’s Conference. When I heard it at the conference in 2012, my mind was blown and every time I listen to it again I feel the same way. It’s just full of good truth my heart needs to be reminded about. (Listen to it now!)

I need to be reminded that I am a temple of the one true God. The Spirit of God isn’t always the first topic I think about. I’ve never been a part of a particularly charismatic Christianity and thus maybe miss out a little bit in talking about the Holy Spirit. Whenever I hear teaching about this truth/ read about it, I am flabbergasted. The God of all creation – not only became human for my sake to die a death that I deserved to die, but came even further in to dwell with me in my body. Do you find that in amazing?

I am provoked by these thought to think about so many of my thoughts, feelings and actions that do not reflect the templeness of my body. I am full of the Spirit. It is not I that live, but Christ in me. But, I am weak and my actions don’t always reflect this knowledge. But, I am once more convicted to live a life that flows from this knowledge of my templeness: in actions, words and deeds. In all things, Christ is to be gloried.

Side note: If you live near enough to get to Orlando this summer for the 2014 Women’s Conference, do it! It will likely change your life. I wish I was going with all my favorite Four Oaks women. 

Parking Nightmare, USA

Los Angeles is not my favorite place. Don’t get me wrong – it’s got lots of fun things and I’m sure to those that live there it’s great. It is simply not for me. It stresses me out in unimaginable ways. I actually start thinking about my deep need for anti-anxiety meds about 20 miles from the city.

Recently, on a trip to Los Angeles I was struck by the city’s anger. The anger of Los Angeles can be seen nearly everywhere, but is especially apparent on the faces of the people, on the freeways and on every street where parking is clearly an issue.

The situation of Los Angeles, namely too many people and too many cars, has created a deep sense of entitlement. Even though the lovely people of Los Angeles don’t say it, their irrational actions state the obvious: they deserve what they want. To get where they want. To treat people how they want and to act how they want. They are the most important person in the world. (Haven’t we all lived like this?)

It is cliché to say that chivalry is dead, but it is true. Chivalry is the least of the concerns in Los Angeles where gentleman don’t exist but are replaced with cursing, toddler acting adults. Surely your parents didn’t teach you to be so vile, to be unable to communicate or to act rationally? Maybe they did and that’s an even bigger problem.

Now, this is not to say this is the only city with terrible, angry people. Aren’t we all terrible, angry people? I know I am the worst of these. Los Angeles is a city like any other, a city full of sinners. Full of people in need of grace. A city in need of a Savior.

Now, I’m not saying that grace will take away your frustration in Parking Nightmare, USA but hopefully it will shape how you treat other people. That’s how I hope to live in the face of frustration where I live. I hope and pray that lives will be shaped by the gospel where I live and I hope the same for the angry, crazy drivers of Los Angeles.

Dear Readers

I’ve been meaning to write to you for sometime, but every time I try to write I have nothing to say. I’ve been trying to figure this out because it’s not as if life isn’t happening and I don’t have anything to say. Then it hit me: busyness. I have nothing to say because I don’t have time/ haven’t correctly prioritized time to think. I am busy and tired and pulled in a million directions (sounds familiar to your heart too, right?).

I need to prioritize thinking and actively work out my life in words and songs and prayers. It is what helps me grow and learn and feel alive.

In this new year, I want my life to be full of deep thoughts. rich conversation and above all joy. Joy that stems from Christ, from relationships and from worshipping the creator in all things.

I hope you keep reading as I keep thinking and processing my life.

If I have anything else to say at all right now it is this: that joy is what I’m seeking this year. Cynicism is so easy to fall prey to (especially for me) and this world is so full of things that are so easy to be cynical about. I want to be full of joy. Some days that just feels so fake to me because I let the world lie to me. No more of this. “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11)