28 December 2009

also...

because georgia loves to sleep in warmth, she is currently sleeping in the sunlight streaming through the window, in front of a space heater. she could die of a heat stroke any minute now... and i wouldn't know it because she sleeps like the dead. she sure is cute, though! later.

my loves sleeping


up close and personal: what they do best ;)

quickie

quick update:

christmas with my fam here in atl was AWESOME.

christmas with grant's fam in aug was GREAT.

i got to see HANNAH on her BIRTHDAY!! it was AMAZING to see her and aswan!

grant is fishing with zach in habersham today. he has the whole week off, so we're headed to the huntsville area for the rest of the week--yay!--we hope to see ashley and mason sometime in the next few days (...new years???)

our friends just got a CUTE great dane puppy--so cute! we're going to love it to pieces. and grant got me "weeds" for christmas--seasons 1-3... so i'm watching that in bed right now... i'll write more later. we'll be back sunday.

13 December 2009

married life live

we went to married life live tonight, which was AWESOME!, with some of our small group and it got me thinking...

picture your spouse--your beloved.
picture exactly in specific detail what s/he deserves, wants, desires, needs----how s/he should be treated, be served, be spoken to, be helped, be forgiven, be loved.
picture what you would do to someone who wronged him/her. imagine what you'd do and to what lengths you would go to defend your love and be sure that his/her wants, desires, and needs were met.
picture what that incredible person you've married deserves each and every day.
...
are you that person they deserve most?
not "are you the spouse you can be?" because that allows you to limit yourself to your own hang-ups, your own baggage, your own expectations, your own definition of "can" and "cannot;" it also allows it to be all to easy to justify your short comings and failures in loving and serving your beloved.

are you the person your spouse deserves most?
and if not, why on earth not? what changes should be made that you can learn to become that person? I say "learn" because it often requires a conscious decision made repetitively until it becomes a discipline that then becomes a habit that then becomes a lifestyle.

correcting the incorrigible
There's a half-way decent book and an even less decent movie from the '60s called "Love Story." The tag line for the movie is: "Love means never having to say you're sorry." Not only is it cheesy, but it's just plain wrong. Love means having to say you're sorry every single day--multiple times, usually--and forgiving quickly and sincerely, as well. Anything less is a manipulation of reality.

Just thinking about life and love and marriage and family--my favorite things--and how it should be vs. what the world tells us it might be or is; choosing biblical definitions over pop-culture; and fighting for the switch in my own life from thought to action, from ideology to reality, from words to lifestyle. xoxo

10 December 2009

heartbeat

this is my hearbeat:
this is my prayer:

YOUR TIME
YOUR WILL
YOUR WAY

O God!

Psalm 38:9: "You know what I long for, Lord; you hear my every sigh"

Psalm 27:14: Yet I will "wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."

08 December 2009

NY NY

Should've posted all this weeks ago... but here it is:
[pics to follow]
We went to the City Nov 13-17th and it was incredible--our first time going together. Very sweet for many reasons.

First things first: Shows:
We saw the Rockettes in the Radio City Music Hall's Christmas Spectacular on opening day and it was FANtastic (thanks, Gma for the tickets!)! We were happily surprised by the quality and caliber of the show. Wow. Also, they had a full Nativity with camels, sheep, donkeys, and other animals! They read from the Bible about the birth of Christ--wow--and portrayed it in such a moving way. I had no idea that a show that receives so much coverage and visibility would even discuss the True Meaning of Christmas. Grant and I just kinda sat there afterwards thanking God that His message will be spread, even when we don't anticipate how or when or through what means. Praise God. We also saw Wicked! Which is always a favorite! Grant had never seen it and it was great to experience it anew with him. We both laughed and [I] sang along. It was a great shared memory. What a story of love, friendship, ambition, salvation, redemption, and escape. Loved it.

Everything Else ;)
There is skating at Bryant Park and at the Rockefeller Center (I was too tired to partake, but it was beautiful to watch). I ate lunch with Sara Dotts Barley (a friend from high school, now a newly wed on the upper east side) at Republic @ Union Sq West. The Barnes and Noble on the Square is amazing and their headquarters is just around the corner--very cool if you're into books and happy places to read... which I am ;) I also got to meet up with Lindsey Beth Medlen--another friend from high school who is currently starring in the Off-Broadway hit "High School Musical" as Sharpay! We ate in Midtown @ Brooklyn Bagels (the majority of which are NOT in Brooklyn). Great to catch up, as usual. The Village is always fun and young with great quick bites to eat an they've just finished up some work on Washington Sq Park--which is where I spent an afternoon, hanging out, reading, and sitting in the sun soaking up NY like a local. Central Park is magical, as always (post-Giuliani). We walked across the bridge (and thought of Brandon proposing to Kathleen), heard a saxophone player, and saw a woman doing yoga in the middle of a wayward path. We also went over to the West Entrance and crossed the street into the American Museum of Natural History (amnh.org). We were amazed at the sea life, Africa and Asian wild life and, of course, the dinosaurs. Plus, the ticket price is "suggested" so we went for a dollar each! Amazing 4 floors of unparalleled excellence (I'm a museum geek, what can I say?).

This trip was different for me b/c I took on nyc like a new yorker more than a tourist to see what life would really be like. We were trying to decipher whether or not law school would take us to the Big Apple. So we spent time eating at local digs, spending time in several parks, walking the brooklyn bridge (gorgeous), visiting the birthplace of TRoosevelt, the NYPublicLib, and exploring the Flatiron district. In fact, I fell in love with Gramercy Park and that whole area. Wow. Perhaps some day... It was great! I certainly had a blast, despite mono, though. That was a major plus.

We're not sure where law school will take us--or even, if we'll both go--but we're prayerfully considering all our options, which, praise God, we have many of despite the recession. It was a wonderful trip with memories made together and I got some time to myself while Grant was working Monday and Tuesday to explore the city, mill around, do and see what I wanted to and spend time however I saw fit. Wouldn't trade it for the world.

Ps. I have married the best man in the world. Thank God for Grant. He was a real trooper for traveling with me and mono. Marrying him is the highlight of my life. Thanks for making this trip great, babe. Love you.

21 November 2009

New Moon

Wow. I know the critics are ripping it to undead shreds, but it was AWESOME. By far better than the first and perhaps my favorite of all four in the long run--we'll see. This book translated much better into film.

Better than the book [can I say that as a respectable English Major and still walk among my own kind?] the love triangle is MUCH more convincing than the book ever could've been.

As I read the book, I was frustrated by even the possibility that Bella could ever replace or try to fake her love for Edward with any one else. He was too much the perfect hero and she was sulky and selfish and undesirable as a character and Jacob left much to be desired. How could a young, pubescent werewolf possibly offer anything that could compare to Edward's undying love? Oh yeah: a ridiculous warm blooded body transmitting sexual tension and radiating adoration and protection. That's how. It's so much more believable in the movie than in the book.

Because so much of the book is in the characters' heads, as the reader you're never given the chance to believe that it could work for Jacob and Bella, that he could offer her life where she doesn't have to damn her soul or change who she is. He offers her, perhaps, a better deal than Edward: don't change for me, let me protect you and keep you warm always, I'm your dad's favorite and I will never leave you. How she flip-flops so easily back into indifferent and impulsive Edward's cold arms is a mystery to me now.

He broke your heart. He left you in the middle of a big black hole of depression and desperation. You attempted to hurt yourself to be nearer to him. And he comes back and poof, this is the better more "healthy" relationship that you choose OVER Jacob's body? Really, Bella? I know. You and Edward have such a history and he's always saving you and all, but you and Jacob have developed a more grounded realistic existence together. He's saved your life multiple times, too, you know. And he's not asking anything of you. Being with him is not dangerous. Your physical body nor immortal soul is at stake. You choose Edward? It makes more since in the book, though I'm at a loss currently at remembering how or why. The movie makes Bella look stupid and impetuous, Edward look weak, and Jacob look like the hero next door and forever faithful love interest who would never hurt Bella the way Edward did.

I am, at this moment, rereading the book (which I never really liked before, skipping quickly to the end before even reading through the middle the first few times) to try to remember why I was so Team Edward up until the movie last night. For some reason all I can remember is Jacob's warm-blooded man body and Edward's laughable slow-mo clip. I'm hoping to take more away from the book on this read and be a little more balanced in my assessment of the whole Team Edward Team Jacob thing.

Right now I'm 100% Team Jacob. He stole the show. The entire movie was his. And he did not disappoint. Go Team!

10 November 2009

mono

i officially have mono. they pricked my finger and everything (the jerks) and it came back positive for mononucleosis (yuck).

the good news is: no physical or mental exertion for the next few days/ week. bed rest + disney movies = ok with me!

the bad news is: we're leaving for 4 fabulous days in new york friday!! i'm totally going. even if they have to lift me out of the cab and onto a curb in times square, i will go people watch. there will be some things we probably can't do, which sucks, like bike central park or do several walking campus tours of a few law schools. but i'll fake out mono and will win. i'll just pretend i don't have it and laugh at the symptoms. that'll show it. actually, that will probably only hurt me, but still--a girl's gotta try. this is new york we're talking about :)

what's interesting is that i've been doing some in depth research and study on two specific things: blood and rest.

God put two and two together and made that a reality: through a blood test i will be forced to rest. which, actually, i'm ok with.

in leviticus 17:11 it talks about blood--what it is and its significance to us in life: "For the life or essence of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life."

blood is a very important element to God and to the rules of nature; it has physical and spiritual implications.

in hebrews 3 and 4 it talks about rest--what it means to God and what it represents for us, specifically in Hebrews 4:10-11: "for anyone who enters God's rest also rests from his own work, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will fall by following their [OT Jews] example of disobedience."

rest is very important to God and to the rules of health; it has physical and spiritual implications.

so here i am "making every effort to enter that rest." amen.

01 November 2009

small group

grant and i somehow survived the stomach flu ;)

we're doing great and are really looking forward to tonight's small group. for several reasons. we love our group and definitely look forward to it each week, but tonight is special.

tonight one of us will be reconciled.

tonight we welcome two new people--an awesome newly wed couple new to atlanta.

tonight we will take communion together for the first time as a group.

tonight we will break bread and fellowship like first century christians.

tonight will be different and i can't freakin wait.

God continues to reveal His unfailing love, mercy and forgiveness... and it is amazing to be a part of.

"This is the Lord's doing and it is wonderful to see" --Mark 12:11

28 October 2009

flu.

i think we've got this nasty stomach flu 24-hour-bug thing. Ash: remember freshman year...? this is it again. awful.

we'll be ok by tmrw (i hope). until then, in between undesirable episodes, we get to watch movies together in our sick bed. life's a give and take--the good with the bad--so we face it in bed ;)

12 October 2009

david

a few thoughts on king david :)

Don’t take my word for it, track David’s Story: 1 Samuel 16—1 Kings 2; 1 Chronicles 10-29

Who is he?
Favored and Anointed one…? [1 Samuel 16:1]
“Young ruddy shepherd boy”…? [1 Samuel 16:12; 17:14, 42]
Brave Warrior…? [1 Samuel 16-18; 19:8]
Love of the People…? [1 Samuel 13:14; 18:16]
Elusive Outlaw…? [1 Samuel 19:11-23:14]
Humble with Integrity…? [1 Samuel 20:17, 41; 24:8]
Powerful…? [1 Samuel 16:13]
Giant-Killer…? [1 Samuel 17:25-54]
Poet, Harpist…? [Psalms; Amos 6:5]
Celebrity…? [1 Samuel 18:30b]
Crazy Madman…? [1 Samuel 21:13-15]
Liar…? Adulterer…? Murderer…? [2 Samuel 11-13]
Righteous…? [1Samuel 24:17]
“A man after God’s own heart” [1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22]
—All of the Above—

Also Known As:
Greatest King of Israel, father of Solomon (the wisest man ever), Hall of Faith [Hebrews 11], Ark of the Covenant Protector, Predecessor of Jesus Christ—direct lineage and mile-marker between Father Abraham, Babylonian Captivity, and Jesus’ Birth [2 Samuel 7:12-16; Matthew 1: 1-17; Luke 1:32; Romans 1:3].

• Willing to be honest—even in confessing sins
• Ready to learn and change our thinking/ actions for the better, wiser, godly path
• Forgiveness does not negate the Consequences
• In Regards to God: Trust and Worship Him
• Deal Decisively with your Family First, then Conquer the World

Thank goodness! this gives me hope--

HOPE: We can know that God looks at the HEART not our track record [1 Samuel 16:7; 1 Kings 8:39; 1 Chronicles 28:9].

HOPE: We can know that God anointed a young, ruddy, shepherd to be the Great King of Israel—despite David’s betrayal of Israel, lies, murder, adultery, and disobedience to God.

HOPE: There is hope for us with all our flaws and failures. God will redeem each one, just like He redeemed David’s adulterous relationship with Bathsheba in Solomon.

HOPE: If we come to the Father with a sincere HEART He will know it and honor it, no matter how badly we’ve made the situation by our own free will (though we’ll have to face the consequences).

06 October 2009

welcome to the hotel duggar

this week we here at chez duggar are a bustling hotel for hotties ;)

a friend from Alaska, Ally, is here sunday-wednesday

stahler is here from wednesday-friday

saturday we're having lunch in athens (!) with grant's parents

sunday we're hiking through a piece of either n. georgia or nc (we haven't decided yet)

monday-tues/ wed Ally comes back for one final splash and grant is out of town for work

so by mid next week we might be back to normal... but i hope not ;)

28 September 2009

healing

ok. so here's the reader's digest version of God healing my back:

basically, about three or four weeks ago in conversation with a beloved mentor about prayer, i admitted (out loud for the first time) that it was really difficult for me to pray for healing. She wondered why--I mean, it's biblical and scripturally sound, and i believed in other types of miracles... what is the deal? As we discussed it further, what seemed to surface was fear and distrust: fear of failure that my prayers weren't heard or weren't good enough if God didn't heal; fear of disappointment in the unhealed person after their hopes were lifted then nothing tangible resulted; distrust that God could or would hear my cry; distrust that God could or would act on our behalf--fear that He didn't care at all or that He was somehow unable to act or move or heal. Because I didn't like thinking about such things, though I had felt this way for sometime, I pushed it from my mind and simply didn't pray for healing. Crazy, I know, and wrong, for sure.

So less than two weeks after this exchange: I hurt my back. I have a pre-existing condition called spondylolisthesis which is a big word for back trouble that can only get worse without intense and invasive surgery and tons of pre- and post-op therapy. The methods that got me better after the initial onset in high school was extensive physical therapy, shock treatment therapy, rehabing my back for years, and core work forever. On Grant's healthcare--while it is great and we're SO GLAD to have it--none of this would be covered, which makes this all suddenly very expensive.

The symptoms were clear: chronic back pain, sore back if seated/ lying in any given position for any length of time, stiffness, decreased range of motion... the list goes on. But the pain was the worst. I would wake up in the middle of the night with pain. I could only sleep for a few hours at a time. I was never relieved of the pain--forever constant no matter the position or time of day. I was, to put it lightly, miserable.

As I contemplated my options, I realized that God was being very funny and ironic: here, not two weeks after admitting that a piece of my heart did not trust and obey Jesus, I was in need of a miracle. I need healing by prayer--and I had to believe it. Head knowledge is one thing, but heart knowledge and experience--where the rubber meets the road--is completely different [thank God!]. Here's what happened after about a week of endless pain and sleep deprivation.

Wednesday: asked for prayer [but did not admit that I had trouble believing in it]
Thursday: asked for prayer from another group [but did not admit that I had troubled believing in it]
Friday: went to bible study, where we studied Luke 5. Jesus' question: "Why do you question me in your heart" absolutely jumped off the page and convicted me. Had he ever given me reason to doubt? Had he ever not shown up for me when I needed him most? And what about this doubt and fear and distrust? Was it so valuable and important to me that I would cling to it, despite my pain, against a possible healing? Was it most important to me than Jesus?

My heart broke.

That night I told everything to Grant--much of which he knew in bits and pieces--admitting again my disbelief. We prayed for healing and I repented of my distrust and choosing fear over obeying the Lord. We didn't really know what to do or what to say or what to think, but our prayers were heartfelt cries.

I woke up on Saturday morning--having slept the whole night for the first time in weeks--healed. I looked over and told Grant, "I think God healed my back," tentatively. I treated it gingerly throughout the day, afraid to be wrong... but I wasn't. God healed my back. I have had none of the symptoms since! Praise the Lord!

I am not some charismatic christian on pain killers. this is real. i'd never even been near a healing before, but now i believe! it would've been ok if God didn't heal my back, because in pointing out some blackness in my heart, and repenting against it, I was forever changed. The miracle happened in my soul; the healing of my physical back was just a bonus.

Thank God that He is willing and faithful and loving and able.

Anyone have any healing stories? This is the first experience in mine and Grant's faith journey.

20 September 2009

God shows up in the most ironic/ perfect times

yesterday:
-i woke up late
-i solved two work chaos problems before coffee ;)
-it made us late for marta, which made us late for class
-i was referred to as the "white devil" by a homeless man
-i won the Guinness World Record for longest migraine
-i almost threw up twice from the pain associated with said migraine
-i sat through 7.5 hours of lecture with said migraine
-i forgot my purse
-i forgot my phone
-i almost lost perspective and got mad about all that stuff and about walking in the pelting rain

but none of that matters because:
God healed my back.
Done.
Finito.
HEALED.

I have more to say about all this later, but just to say God is funny and ironic and he loves us so. and it's amazing. HE's amazing. And He is WILLING to get down in the depths of our pain and crap and even disbelief and heal us anyway--not because of us or in spite of us, but because He is Who He says HE IS.

Luke 5:12-13
12 While Jesus was in one of the towns, a man came along who was covered with leprosy. When he saw Jesus, he fell with his face to the ground and begged him, "Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean."
13Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. "I am willing," he said. "Be clean!" And immediately the leprosy left him.

18 September 2009

i just answered my last question

non-christian bands speak the words of my heart all the freakin time.
1-i LOVE september! and all things Autumn
2-i LOVE james taylor christian, non-christian, or otherwise--the man's a genius (and kinda cute ;)

if solomon had song of songs/ song of solomon; (whitman and) i have songs of myself. here's one:

September Grass--James Taylor

Well, the suns not so hot in the sky today
And you know I can see summertime slipping on away
A few more geese are gone, a few more leaves turning red
But the grass is as soft as a feather in a featherbed
So Ill be king and youll be queen
Our kingdoms gonna be this little patch of green

Wont you lie down here right now
In this september grass

Oh the memory is like the sweetest pain
Yeah, I kissed the girl at a football game
I can still smell the sweat and the grass stains
We walked home together. I was never the same.
But that was a long time ago
And where is she now? I dont know

Oh, september grass is the sweetest kind
It goes down easy like apple wine
Hope you dont mind if I pour you some
Made that much sweeter by the winter to come

Do you see those ants dancing on a blade of grass?
Do you know what I know? thats you and me, baby
Were so small and the worlds so vast
We found each other down in the grass

Wont you lie down with me right here
September grass
Wont you lie down with me now
In this september grass

John 4:24

as i'm contemplating worshipping in spirit and in truth, i can't help but hear the lyrics of a completely non-christian band flow through my mind:

"sing with your head up
with your eyes closed
not because you love the song
because you love to sing
because you love to sing"

without realizing it, i think the band has hit on how we need to worship the Lord:
sing with our heads up [above the thoughts and emotions and hurt and disappointment and distractions of this world]
with our eyes closed [fully focused without letting the outside get in or steal away our quiet time]
not because you love the song [not because the specific, temporary situation is great; the temporary may suck, but that's not the point, and that's not why you worship the Lord]
because you love to sing [because you love to love the Lord your God and because He alone is worthy of praise and worship]
because you love to sing [and you love it, the whole thing--the good, the bad, the ugly, the holy--you love life because yours belongs to Jesus]

i'm trying to remember this in worshipping the One True God.
other thoughts on finding non-christian inspiration that points directly to the divine?

16 September 2009

married love

while there are many things to be said about dating love and engagement love, but marriage love is different. i've found married love is like an ocean:

you can never see the edges of it,
there are no boundaries,
and it can get infinitely
wider, and
bigger, and
deeper without your knowing it.
the horizon somehow expands.

and it's wonderful.
and it only gets better.
how is this possible?
only through the Lord.

02 September 2009

food for thought

1. i LOVE september. it is my favorite month and b/c of it I want to name a daughter "Autumn". it's 68 degrees outside and rainy :) and with the windows and doors open sitting here in a sweat shirt and jeans I could not be happier!

2. i think about and pray about more love. more love in this city. in the church. in families. in marriages. in this nation.
"Greater things have yet to come. Greater things are still to be done In this city."

3. jesus ties forgiveness to love: "therefore i tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven--for she has loved much. But he who has forgiven little loves little." luke 7:47
--God, let us not divorce love and forgiveness.

4. when i think about how frustrating people can be sometimes or how quickly i am to assume the worst in people, i am stilled by this question: would Jesus look me in the face and say "were you justified?" or would He take my hand and ask, "did you love much?"
--forgiveness is more about me/you than it is about the other person anyway. if we haven't figured that out yet, we should give it a try. it is incredibly freeing and that's what God desires most for us: freedom.

5. think about dancing with your favorite dance partner. how easy it is. how you both know your favorite moves, and how your bodies move together. while recently at a wedding i stopped immediately when hit by the question in my spirit: "if you were dancing with Jesus, would you let Him lead?" would i? do i?

6. recently during a prayer meeting with a favorite mentor, she compared praying to talking things out as newlyweds. just as the Bible describes the relationship of us, the church, the Bride of Christ to Jesus, the Bridegroom, the Head of the Family. It made so much sense that, just as newlyweds throw new ideas at each other and discuss things back and forth, pleading openly without shame or regret but mere love, we throw our hopes and dreams and requests up to God. Just as newlyweds don't know how the debate will end up--who's reasoning will find favor over the other's--nor do we know until time reveals how God responded to our prayers. And finally, as matters of the family are decided once and for all by the husband, the Head of the household, so matters are sorted out and covered by God's sovereignty--He has the last word and we respect it because He is for us and not against us, with plans for our future and peace.

::For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord. Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Then you will call upon Me and come to Me and pray to Me and I will listen to you:: jeremiah 29:11-12

God is so freaking good. and i want MORE LOVE, more POWER, more of YOU in my LIFE.

31 August 2009

PCB: SB2009!

3 of the 5 small group couples went to Panama City Beach (yayah!) for a little get away this past week: Tues-Sun. It was AWESOME!!! everything we expected and more from PCB. wish we had the airbrush tee to prove it ;) or perhaps a tatoo :0

we had it all: a nice place, the Calypso (this is not our condo, but you get the idea and the pics are pretty ;), a cabana with seats to layout on, drinks, card games, and cable! we loved it.

the minute we set barefoot feet on the sand we relaxed. immediately. we had theme nights: dinner equipped with appetizers, more and more food, games, and costumes (yay!). we stayed up late and slept in as long as we wanted. it was a fun time of bonding and fellowship, togetherness and vacation.

couldn't have asked for more... except if the rest of our group could have been there ;) we missed you!

ROADTRIP!!

so coco and i headed out 8/3/09.

we wanted to conquer 6 states in 2 days. with no sure destination set for our first and only night away, we started out on the open road and this is where we went and what happened (Christi has posted pics on facebook).

I-75 (400 miles total!)
GA/ TN state line
Chattanooga
Knoxville
-UT, Mayberry Sheriff's car parked on the town square, Woodruff Building Downtown Grille for lunch (freakin awesome!), Mast General Store (amazing): juicer, muscadine wines, jams, jellies, sorghum molasses, camelbaks, carharts, free stickers.
I-40
Thrift Church Store (cute!)
I-275
stop @ Williamsburg--cutest stop ever! loved the gas station
rock walls on either side of interstate
Jellico, TN (really? that's the name of your town??)
TN/ KY state line
Hazard, KY
Lexington
-silos, Smokey Mountains, cows bathing, "Man O War" Blvd, UK: Arboretum (we took a nice long walk through this beautiful garden of flowers and trees and saw a rabbit on the path!... incredible, and yes, people were taking engagement pics just like on North Campus @ UGA), Bluegrass everything, "Turkey Foot Lane," "Plunkett St," "Nutter Field House," ice machine in UK statdium parking lot... wth?, Lucille's Lounge (yayah), Lucia's, and "a la Lucie's" (are you getting the feeling I'm getting???), "Transylvania University" for vamps like Edward Cullen... <333
I-64 (Purple Heart Trail)
ridiculous city names in KY: Salt Lick, Sharkey, Farmers, Wurtland, Greenup
Morehead University
2 Nuclear Plant-looking things... ???? question mark!
KY/ WV state line
state motto: "West Virginia: Wild and Wonderful" (love it)
Huntington
Beckley, WV
-Gino's (the awesome pizza place we ate dinner in the Tri State Area: KY, WV, OH)
I-77
Econolodge (where we stayed: pet friendly with a little pup @ front desk "Bailey")
-our friends from NC gospel got ripped off by lying old lady ;)

8/4/09
Crossing the Appalachian Trail (i heart the AT)
WV/ VA state line
Jackson River (we crossed over it 3x on the same road... whattheheck)
I-81
-stopped @ scenic view @ mile marker 100: beau-ti-ful
Monticello (aka: "Tommy J's House")
Thomas Jefferson loves Lucy the Librarian: "I cannot live without books" -1815
UVA
Roanoke, VA (a fave!)
-German Convention Center (awesome and huge), great downtown, St. Andrews Church (pics of this gothic style beauty), Greene Memorial UMC (took pictures in front of the big red doors and loved it)
Salem
-Farmer's Market, Henry's Memphis BBQ (where we had dinner. yum!), Calvary Hills everywhere
Blue Ridge Mountains
VA/ NC state line
Hickory, NC (chic fil a late night! a milkshake and an ice dream. thank you! "MP")
Christmas songs
I-40
Charlotte (beautiful with night lights! wish we could've stopped in but it was late, Hannah!!!)
I-85 (300 miles total!)
NC/ SC state line
Abbott Farms
-peaches, pumpkin patches, corn maizes... we'll be back for more!
Greenville (drove through the downtown--so similar to Athens--with Mast General's, Trio, the park, shoppes, Cold Stone, and bars. very very impressive. a fave on the RT)
SC/ GA

We got home a little after 2am. back to Atlanta. back to reality. we should've called this RT the "College Tour" b/c we saw so many campuses. had an unforgettably great time--one of the best--and def made some funny memories, heard a few awesome pod casts, played fun music (and sang along loudly ;), and had some wonderful convos. love you coco!!

omg. i'm back

sorry i haven't blogged much. bit of a crazy month. let me catch you up quickly....

1. i love the bible gateway quote of the day: “Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care.”

2. we had 4 weddings in 3 weeks and i was in 2 of them--both incredible and beautiful and different. both ladies very very special to me. it was an honor to stand beside both while they took eternal vows. un-freakin-believable. loved it. love you. muah.

3. we have not and will not spend one weekend in six in our little apt in atlanta... it will be nice even after a roadtrip, a vaca @ the beach, and a long weekend @ the lake (more to come on each later) to have a little down time here. ahhhhh.

4. i have missed kelly fitz all summer while she was in Nicaragua. i'm so glad she's back and now we get to play for the next 6 weeks 'till she leaves AGAIN... crazy jesus-lovin kelly.

5. i recently had dinner with a few lady friends from my former job @ maggiano's. it was SO NICE to chat and catch up. we are hopefully planning another get together @ the swan coach house (ooo la la!). totally looking forward to that!

6. stahler has officially started at The University. he's pledging, which is hilarious and makes for great stories, and school is tough, which is also good for the lil bro. this means mama and daddy are officially empty nesters, which is both really hard and really good for them ;) they are at a wonderful place in their lives and marriage. it's kinda fun to double date as newly-something couples (newly wed, newly-just-the-two-of-us-again). freakin awesome.

7. things @ work are going GREAT!!!

8. i'm so excited for fall and football season! GO DAWGS!

9. more to come...!!!!

11 August 2009

billy graham

This is a prayer that Billy Graham recently prayer for our country... I'm still processing how I feel about it, but wanted to publish it here to hear your thoughts, as well. There is obvious merit in the meat of it, I'm just trying to figure out if this prayer fully represents my heart's cry for the nation. What do you think???

"Heavenly Father,
We come before you today to ask for forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values. We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery. We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare. We have killed our unborn and called it choice. We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable. We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem. We have abused power and called it ambition. We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression. We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment. Search us, O God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen."

thoughts?? comment.

21 July 2009

love love love

A funny thing recently has happened: a revelation on Love that has changed my perspective on things.

There have been several relationships and friendships that have been really hurtful, thorns-in-my-side in response to which I have repeatedly asked God, "Why are you doing this? Why have you forced me into relationship with a person so callous? Why, for this season, have you put me with someone who can be so mean, so selfish? What's the point?" In fact, a few have even begged the question, "Why are they in my life only to hurt me? I'm angry that You would put them in such proximity to me and the ones I love... What the heck are you doing?"

Had God made a mistake? Did He not know the pain and problems these people were causing? Or worse--Did He simply not care?

No. Though it has been years in the asking, the answer I've found is: No.

For years--probably since I was a girl of 13 and the idea of marriage first punctured my world--I have been praying specifically to be a student of Love. I have wanted to learn about Love, experience Love, rely on Love, change the world through Love, spread Love, give Love, receive Love. I have wanted Love in all possible forms, that my understanding of Love would be a 10 dimensional one, not a limited 2-D surface or flat Love--I wanted my Love to be round, new, breathing, growing, real.

My recent epiphany is simply this: God revealed to me that these people and their ties to me in whatever form or fashion have not been a mistake or happenstance--causing pain and havoc in my life--but strategically placed to teach me about Love. He has given me the best examples of learning how to Love like He does. To feel hurt and love anyway. To feel rejected and love anyway. To know that their words cut and actions bite, but choose to love anyway, because my understanding of Love is bigger than their words and actions.

It has changed everything.

What I once viewed as forms of hatefulness in my life I now see as opportunities to learn about Love--the stuff of substance not fairytales. So the challenges they put before me, the ways they seek out to hurt me, the things they say aimed at the heart strike true and create in me a deeper appreciation for God and a fuller understanding of Love.

[I've only just realized this, so needless to say it's still a struggle between choosing to be wounded or choosing to turn with love, but I finally get it... That's something. And I'm trying... That's something, too.]

What are you learning about?

12 July 2009

Christmas in July

So... I find it odd that lately I've been experiencing nostalgia over Christmas in the middle of July... I've been delighted to re-discover James Taylor's "Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas" on my iPod, I've recently watched "The Holiday" and "Elf", and while meandering through HobbyLobby the other day, the thought of "all Christmas items on sale" gave me butterflies in my tummy.

I want fall to hurry up with cute sweaters, boots, jeans, and wraps, so that Christmas can get here sooner this year ;) I'm ready for yule tide carols, ugly sweaters, Christmas cheer, togetherness, family memories, new traditions, the warmth of a heavy blanket, the smell of apple cider, a reason for hot cocoa, and the overall feeling of Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men that hovers around December.

Is this odd? or is this perhaps a longing--like my "desperately wanting" God-shaped hole--for what He wants (no matter the season)? peace. love. fellowship. counting blessing not costs. finding the good even in hardship.

I want Christmas in July. I want heaven on earth. Your kingdom come. Your will be done. We need it. Now. xoxo

10 July 2009

Desperately Wanting

I feel alive. I have a deeply rooted desire—need—to be outside, to hear the night noises of crickets and bullfrogs, to smell wet earth and farmland and dirt, to see the starts. It is an intense yearning in my bones and I cannot deny it. When it beckons, I go—wherever the road may take me. I must experience more of this incredible place God our Father created for us to live, to explore, to seek adventure. I miss this: the ability to pick up and take off on a whim with no explanations, worries, thoughts of money or budgeting, totally spontaneity—oh, to take a real random roadtrip again. I miss it—the freedom.

Travel helps. Going places, experiencing new pieces of the globe, partaking of new cultures, meeting new people—that is all part of filling up this specific hole in my heart.

Music helps. I know a large chunk of my heart lies with James Taylor in “September Grass,” "Desperately Wanting," and with “Blackbird singing in the dead of night,” John Lennon and Paul McCartney; my heart sways with “Something in the way she moves” and “Country Road;” and I know that “The long and winding road” and “Long ago and far away” will fill my heart up—with either love and tears (the good kind; the cleansing, releasing, appreciative tears.)

Quiet time helps. Spending time with the Lord, silence and waiting with Him, the quiet, delving into His word, remembering His promises—that fills up the God-shaped hole and pours over into the other hole, too.

Grant helps. Spending quality time with him, experiencing more of our life together, working through hopes and dreams, fears, and possibilities—that fills up the Grant-shaped hole and runs over as well.

But the hole remains; and when it longs for more, I must respond… and when I do, God is it good. It’s like all the good things in my life are magnified and the few negative factors disappear—as if looking intently at the stars answers, or better, quiets my questions and just lets me stand in awe—thankful for God’s goodness, faithfulness, and grace; grateful for the love Grant has for me; intrigued all the more for encounter more spaces of earth—like a drug that leaves me wanting more. It’s such a pure and untainted addiction.

I will continue to go. I will continue to reclaim my freedom. I will continue to follow where the road takes me. I will continue to answer the call and leave satisfied yet burning for more. I will continue to thank God and I will continue to love Grant—including him in as many pieces of my life and holes in my heart as possible.

01 July 2009

Encounter America

Finally! I can talk about what I've been working on for so long! This is the website for the emerging company: Encounter America. Please check it out, click around, and tell me what you're thinking! [more to come on this later!!!]

26 June 2009

MJ

RIP michael jackson. we had some good times... you know, on the dace floor. you will be truly missed, as made obvious by 200 of my closest homeless friends in 5 points atlanta today. a dj rolled into 5 points, stopped traffic and started a Michael Jackson Appreciation Day dance party.

awesome.

it ended with a billy jean dance off. i jumped in for a few faves--thriller, rock with you, the way you make me feel. what a fun impromtu afternoon. i heart the A.

mj: you are missed and i hope we set up a national holiday in your honor ;)

*ash, i know you're with me on this one

18 June 2009

one year in the direction of eternity

Having been married for a year (and some change), I decided to write a little bit about a few things I've learned. I hope to learn more and more forever--I want to be a student of my love ;)

trust his wisdom--he's probably right, and even if he's not, he knows that you trust him anyway

let him lead--when you don't, you're stealing a chance for him to develop into more of who is is, who he's meant to be

indulge his dreams--you have to believe in him... even if it seems silly to you, if it's important to him, it's important

listen--always better to listen and hold your tongue

catch him doing good--look for ways to compliment and encourage him when reveals the goodness in his heart

seek out experience to share--things that you both love and can enjoy together

make dates--you only have so many weekends per year and so many sunsets, sunrises, roadtrips, and dinners to share in a lifetime

romance, romance, romance--i just found this quote " you are the only legitimate source of romance in your spouse's life"

have make-out parties--when was the last time you and your hubby just made-out for 30 minutes like you did in college? very fun.

be creative--dream together, plan together, share hopes and dreams for the future you share

leave notes for him to find--in his briefcase, in his lunch, on his desk, under his pillow, surprise him

believe in him--even if it doesn't make sense, even if he may not succeed, it's important to believe in who he is over what he does or wants

support him in all ways in all times--don't undermine him, especially in front of his friends; things can be talked about candidly in private, but not in front of the guys

endure the ebbs and flows--the ups and downs will come, but you have to know that what you have together is more important

make time--quality time. just because you live together doesn't mean quantity replaces quality--you need both

leave and cleave--pick him first, before family and before friends and make that clear to them and especially to him

treat him like a best friend--he is your bff

work together, play together--split up the chores and play list equally, then keep up your side of the bargain, without mentioning if/ when he doesn't

put him first--humility/ submission is all about putting his deal above your deal--whatever it is, it's more important b/c he's more important to you than you are (self-less rather than selfish)


Any other thoughts, advice, knowledge... you know what to do::: post! xoxo

15 June 2009

thank God

someone is saying it please WATCH

22 May 2009

thank you, former job

i am currently cashing my last paycheck to spend on a trip to NEW YORK!! i will be there tuesday-friday and will see 5 SHOWS in four days. boom.

thanks, former job, for forcing me to quit when i did... thank the Lord... now you can pay for my trip to nyc.

i have much to blog about, but since i've been at the lake for about 10 days and will leave for new york the minute i get back, it'll have to wait until after our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY!!!

[seriously... timing is everything.... hehehehehehe]

ttyl

13 May 2009

I finally quit

I resigned yesterday after being berated for three-hole-punches being out of line in a binder I put together on Friday. The partner proceeded to explain what a waste of time I was and how quickly he could find a high school graduate who could do better and that this was "intolerable." He said that he and the partners would make a decision about the repercussions of my actions later... wait? over a three-hole-punch issue with a binder? Yes.

Ok. That was it for me. Many of you know how I feel I've been treated at this job and my overall feelings about working there... There was no point in staying on longer.

The Final Conversation: I told him that I would like to talk to him and he basically said that if I didn't have a message for him, it was unimportant and would have to wait, as he pushed past me and out of his office into the hallway. I had wanted to wait to say things in private, but he was rude, so what did it matter? I simply said, "I'll make the decision easy for you: I'm resigning." He turned, continued walking, and said over his sholder, "That does make it easy." I gathered my things and left. What can I say: he was true to character. No handshake. No eye contact. No well-wishes. I'm not worth any of that in his eyes--never was.

As I walked out the doors of the building, I really felt like I was just shaking the dust from my sandals and leaving a black-hearted place that does not have ears to hear or eyes to see.

I'm glad to be gone. However, I will miss the others--the other support staff and associates. I wish them all the best. I also hope that the partner's change or are soon found out for who and what they truly are.

On a happier note: I think I've found something else--much bigger and better. Nothing's set in stone yet, so I can't say much, except that my work environment will be the complete opposite and I will actually enjoy going to work.

Lend me your thoughts and wisdom, I love you so much--what do you think? The only part I'm having trouble with is the fact that I did not wake up yesterday and plan on making this financial decision. Pray for rest and peace in knowing that God will provide and we made the right decision. Thanks

Lucy

ps. AS I WAS WALKING OUT OF THE BUILDING I SAW SANDRA BULLOCK FILMING HER NEW MOVIE... I COULD'VE REACHED OUT AND TOUCHED HER, EXCEPT FOR HER BODY GUARD! SHE IS BEAUTIFUL AND IT WAS AMAZING!!!

11 May 2009

Recent Praise!

Papa's well!

Let me explain: We went to Huntsville for the weekend to celebrate Mother's Day with my fam--which was awesome. Mama: we love you very much. But Sunday afternoon we got a call that Grant's grandfather was rushed to the hospital having blacked out on the way to church (he usually doesn't go to church; in fact, if he'd have stayed at home like he typically does he would've surely died). An ambulance carried him to St. Joseph's were tests were run and it was determined that a blood clot had formed and was pressing on his brain. He was quickly transferred to University Hospital, were he underwent brain surgery this morning at 7:00am. We drove straight through from Huntsville to Augusta (a solid 6.5 hours) to see him and pray for him before his surgery.

Two things worthy of God's praise:
1. An 83 year old man successfully pulled through a 2.5 hour brain surgery without any difficulties or problems coming out of anesthesia. (when does that happen? Glory be to the Father!).

2. Papa has had some difficulty over the years with his faith, and resisting church, we all kind of wondered where he stood with the Lord. Before his surgery after we prayed for him, he said, "If I don't make it through this, I know the KING is coming for me" and a man I have never seen shed a tear wept silently. It was a beautiful thing. I'm so glad we were there, and as Lynn said, "We were right where we needed to be."

The up-hill battle now is recovery. Please keep him and Grant's family in your prayers. It has been crazy--this being the third major surgery in 6 years after open-heart surgery and the removal of a tumor on his esophagus. In the words of the surgeon, "You're a lucky cat with 9 lives to have lived through all of this!"

We are thankful for the successful surgery and for his profession of faith!! Praise the Father! Papa is well--in more ways than one.

ps. grant and i are a little exhausted to say the least--having had about 4 hours of sleep in the past 40. keep us in mind too, as we seek peace and rest. thanks!

29 April 2009

be of one mind, united in thought and purpose

quick update: remember this post? i'm not the only one experiencing and marveling at the inseparable connection between God's overwhelming love and grace, our call to be a light in the darkness, and the need of salvation from opression for the poor. God has such a heart for them, tapping into His love for them is like opening a waterfall from a mere faucette.

Here's an excerpt from what Beth Moore's daughter recently wrote about the subject on the LPM blog:
"Can I just tell you that the more I fall in love with the people in Calcutta the more grateful I am that we serve a God who cares deeply about the poor? I could list verse after verse as far back as Genesis all the way through Revelation that reflect God’s concern for the poor and oppressed... but right now I am far too consumed with Isaiah 58, especially the first eleven verses.

I am especially stricken by Isaiah’s definition of true religion. I hope you'll take some time to study this passage on your own but in brief, the people of Israel cry out with frustration because they do not feel that God is responding to their pious fasting. The text goes on to convey that, in fact, God really isn’t all that impressed by their outlandish religious demonstrations like bowing their heads in “humility” or laying in sackcloth and ashes.


No.

His definition of fasting is cast in remarkably different terms. If the people of God want to fast in such a way that they just might get God’s attention then they need to start being agents of justice in a broken world. They need to stop believing that humility before God and apathy toward their fellow human beings, especially the poor and oppressed, could ever co-exist. They need to loosen the chains of injustice. Set the oppressed free. Share food with the hungry. Clothe the naked. The incredible part about this passage is the promise that if the covenant people of God would really truly fast in such a mind-boggling and earth-shaking way, then light will break forth like the dawn. The Lord will turn his ear toward them and His very glory will be their protection. I take so much heart in the fact that our God is a God who loves the people in Calcutta who are bound by the tight grip of poverty. That He thinks that caring for them is essential, that it is at the very core of our personal and corporate spirituality. What a vivid picture of the bountiful and impartial love of God."


then a quote from Richard Bauckham:
“Poverty, in a sense, exposes the truth of the human situation in its need of God. It dispels the illusion of being self-sufficient and secure, with no need of God. The poor are those whose material condition enables them to see more clearly than most the human need to be wholly reliant on God. It is in this sense that the biblical poor are understood as paradigmatic in their faith.” (Richard Bauckham, Wisdom of James, disciple of Jesus the Sage, 190).

and finally says:
"Perhaps Jesus speaks of the poor as the paradigmatic people of God because the poor, kind of like the chronically ill, are most likely to recognize their utter need for God’s saving power. Perhaps the Lord commands the rich (which in context of our global economy is you and me, even the poorest among us) to empathize and identify with the plight of the poor and care for the needy so that they too can glean this truth. Humankind in its totality is completely dependent on God’s power and provision. There are no exceptions. All material wealth is fleeting and fading quickly."


i love it. and i love learning more about experiencing and understanding and taking-in this kind of love, this level of devotion, this extremity of adoration.

13 April 2009

friends

here are some of mine and grant's really good friends. please pray for them as they raise support and figure out life in ministry with a heart that is kid-centered, a ministry that is grounded in Atlanta, and with hearts that yearn for global impact. they are amazing. and we are lucky just to know them ;)

oh, and please check out their awesome pics. wow.

10 April 2009

good friday

couldn't have said it better myself

good friday
xoxo

08 April 2009

revelation on giving

i have recently had a revelation on giving. i think a combination of truly seeing people experiencing the toughness and roughness of the downturn in the economy paired with where i work and the reality of poverty, sub-standard living, and homelessness in downtown atlanta along with a recent sermon has resulted in the following change in my lifestyle:

i will give to the fullest extent of my ability to anyone who asks.

seriously. pondering hannah's happiness fast, i decided on a generosity fast--giving to anyone who asked me and actually a few who didn't, but were in obvious and dire need. a few days after starting this, i heard a sermon by andy stanley on giving with a different expectation for a different person with a different heart/mind-set.

my reasons:
1. i have been blessed with much, and to whom much has been given, much is expected (luke 12:48)
2. i have only been given what time/money i have by God for God--for the Kingdom; furthermore, i know that i am only a steward of what God has given me, and that everything He gives us (good or bad) He wants us to give back to Him
3. i can't justify not giving when Grant and i have been so stable, so sure, so steady in a time of national crisis
4. with a different expectation and a different heart/mind-set i love giving and i only want to have more to give more--it has become a lifestyle and a joy.

it is an amazing thing and, like most joys in the Lord, is overwhelming and difficult to explain to others.

the verse from the sermon that confirmed with God's word what was already written on my heart:

Love for Enemies
27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. 30 Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. 31 Do to others as you would like them to do to you.
32 “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! 33 And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! 34 And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return.

35 “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. 36 You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate.

Do Not Judge Others
37 “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full—pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”
Luke 6:27-38

as andy explains in his message, giving for all kinds of reasons is good--giving at all, is a good and right thing--but when Jesus opens with, "but you who are willing: listen," He is inviting us into a different kind of giving. giving paired with loving compassion minus the typical expectations we have in giving--waiting for repayment, acknowledgement, credit, honor, change, a "fixed" person or situation, or even a "thank you."

God does not give with expectations.

Jesus died for us when we were yet sinners--wicked and ungrateful, undeserving and unchanged. (romans 5:8)

andy goes on to say that the focus cannot be on the people and circumstances here on earth--they may never change, but we should still give lavishly (because our Father gave so adoringly to us). the focus must be on God, on being like God, on representing God as a light unto the darkness--for even sinners give to those who love them and to those who deserve it, but who gives to the undeserving if i don't? who is left to love and accept and support and take in and cherish and meet the needs of the homeless, the loveless, the widows, the orphans, the foreigners, the minorities, if not you and me?

Jesus died, not for our salvation--which is an incredible benefit that brings me to my knees--but to please the Father; to bring glory and recognition to the Father (john 12:27-28). His focus was on heaven, on the Almighty God (john 5:19).

the focus must be on the Father and bringing Him glory.

and finally, we must change our hearts, our mindset. we live in a wealthy nation where--unlike many others--our government has a system (albeit flawed and abused) for taking care of and somewhat providing for people "in need." somehow this had ingrained in me the assumption-turned-accepted-as-fact that it's not our responsibility to provide care, money, food, shelter, clothes for the poor--especially the "wicked" the "ungrateful" the "unworking poor" the ones "who will never change"--because it's the government's responsibility. not only is this misguided, but it is simply unbiblical (james 1:27). Jesus dines with, loves on, speaks to, cares for, demonstrates love and miracles for these very people--and aside from that, He continually loves and provides for you and me everyday, and i am certainly undeserving of His constant grace, constant mercy, constant sustenance, constant compassion, and constant forgiveness.

when i experience the joy of giving freely without expectation, the desire somehow grows. i can't explain it, i can only attest to it and simply say that this is a life-changing experience, a life-long habit, a renewed spirit of thinking, and a revelation on giving for me.

Jesus has invited us into a new kind of giving, where--giving without expectation, focused on the Kingdom not this earthy world, and bringing the Father, and not ourselves, glory--we have the privilege of walking around as his arms, heart, head, eyes, ears, mouth, feet and hands, if we but have ears to listen and the obedience of love.

any takers? ;)

02 April 2009

where am i



As I step off the train and onto the platform, I am surrounded by people. I meld into the flood of faces and feet as the wave of motion picks up. I hear several students speaking French and I note three veiled women conversing in a beautiful tongue, as colorful in sound as the garbs of their saris. As I mind a dirty sleeping man, I reach for a few dollars to give. Above the stench of urine and rain I can smell a small bakery opening its windows and doors. I search the fresh market and find two green apples for a mere handful of change--it's the mart owner's son's birthday and I see a sign with a card autographed by the local regulars and smile. I thank him.



As I make my way across the street I appreciate the architectural diversity of old vs. new in the heavy marble buildings contrasted with the glassy sky scrapers. Taking a crunch out of one apple, I quickly cross diagonally to the park and observe the community: old, young, loud music, mid- and quarter-life crises, backpacks, suits, hobo packs, a side walk preacher, bikes, an empty police station, mopeheads, a saxophone playing jazz, fast cars, and a "keep of the grass" sign.




What place is this? Am I stepping off the subway in New York? the tube in London? the Metro in Paris?

No. I'm in my favorite little non-european European town: 5 points Atlanta.

I take Marta to work some days. I absolutely adore the eclectic mix of people and restaraunts in this area. So much is happening. I wonder--how did I not uncover this gem before?--as I pass a man preaching to a crowd about a march on Washington, a mother consoling her child, a life-size chess match, two men waiting side by side who would never stand beside each other again.

This is Atlanta--with all its guts and all its glory.

And 5 points at the heart of downtown is my favorite place to be.

30 March 2009

i am nothing

this weekend i was reminded by God that i am nothing.

we were all together at the lake--three other couples who had never been. i had promised a great weekend with beautiful weather, boat rides, jet ski, kayaks, a canoe, a hot tub, and lots of games.

we get there late friday night, walk down to the dock, and georgia decides to jump in and drown herself. luckily grant and chris snatched her out of her impending death--which began the weekend with a bang.

the next day we go to the marina to inqure about the boat, only for it to not start--later identifying a problem in the engine somewhere... ok. so then we go back to the house to discover that no one ate the breakfast casserole that i made--they were waiting on us to get back, so we all ate it cold (quite a disappointment). grant and i went down to the dock to see about the jet ski--it wouldn't start. we called the marina about de-winterizing the other boat only to discover that, once hooked up and dropped into the water, the battery was dead. [are you getting a sense of the frustration/ failure i was feeling at this point?] we decide to forget all the fancy gadgets, and to just jump in the water, but want to check on the hot tub first, so that as we're shivering our way back to the house, we'd have steaming hot jets waiting on us... you guessed it: hot tub wasn't working.

i was very mad and frustrated that nothing was going right, or at least the way i'd planned, but i thought, at least the sun is out; i'll put on my bathing suit and go down to the dock to relax and read. the sun was out (about 72 degrees of warm goodness) but the winds were almost tornadic and laying out and/or reading was completely impossible.

this is when the breakdown/ break through happened: God was telling me that i am nothing. that i can do nothing apart from Him and furthermore, just because i had certain plans and expectations for the weekend did not mean that without them we would not have fun--God would show up on his own, and that was enough. He was forcing. me. to. let. go. and. i. hated. it.

learning/ relearning lessons like this sucks. seriously. even when you realize what you're supposed to realize--the boat, the jet ski, the hot tub, the battery--they still don't work. it's not like you have an epiphany and then boom, everything's perfect. everything's still hard, you just know that the God of the universe is speaking directly to you in the midst of it.

i'm not gonna lie: it took a few hours to get over my disappointment in things and renew my excitement for the rest of the weekend, but i did. and guess what: the weekend was perfect. it was awesome and amazing and we all got so much closer. we learned hilarious fun facts about each other, grew in our friendships, learned more about each others friends, families, hopes, dreams, fears, struggles, and played so many games that it all makes me laugh, even now, just thinking about it.

God was in our time together. He had the whole weekend in His hands all along. even without the boat. even without the jet ski. even without the hot tub. even without my expectations. and i'm so so thankful that He did, because looking back, my plan would've been ok, but not great, not a growing experience, not allowing as many sit-down-and-get-below-the-surface conversations, not playing as many games, and probably not sharing as many stories or laughs.

it's much easier to say this now, than at about 3:30pm on Saturday, but: thank you, LORD, for being in control, for being bigger than me, and for reminding me that, without leaving room for you to intercede, to be involved, to change my plans, i am nothing ;)

16 March 2009

my stupid mouth

so... today i woke up and something was off... i couldn't quite put my finger on it:
maybe i was tired from an awesome weekend
maybe i was hating my body for cramping (pms)
maybe it was my head that was throbbing

but it was none of these things (and all of them, at the same time):

it was a TOOTH ACHE!

the pain has now migrated throughout my body and continues to flow in waves from my molar outward and down... awesome.

i have an immediate/ emergency dentist appointment tomorrow am... yuck.

maybe it won't be infected...?

hope not. i'll keep you posted ;)

12 March 2009

just for today

today i feel sad for no reason at all, so just for today, i will remember mother theresa's prayer:

may today there be peace within. may you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. may you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. may you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. may you be content knowing you are a child of God. let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise, and love. it is there for each and every one of us.

amen.

06 March 2009

georgia

As most of you know, we have a great dane named Georgia. She's hilarious: 100 lbs of puppy, chill and hyper in equal measures, crazy, sweet, funny, mouthy, and tons of personality--she's our very own comedian, ridiculous in every way.

Georgia lives by one theory: When in doubt, lick it.

Keeping this in mind, I came home the other day and opened the door to the laundry room--her room--to find her leaning over a space heater, her face inches away from the plastic grill covering the "safety first" heater. We have the heat turned down while we're gone, but leave the heater in her room set at a certain temperature; when the temp dips below 70 it blows warm air, and when it's 70+ the heater turns off.

My theory is: Georgia liked the warm air, wanted it to turn back on when the temp automatically turned itself off, and decided--according her life motto--to lick it... This is when I caught her sheepishly hovering over said heater, tongue inches from the plastic... yeah...

welcome to my world... and to the psyche of a remarkably funny great dane.

what's your life motto??

i think mine might be "when in doubt, love" who knows.

28 February 2009

baby i'm amazed

Not only do I LOVE that Paul McCartney song, but I am truly amazed for two reasons this week.

1. Ravi Zacharias, an internationally renowned apologetics speaker, was remarkable thursday night as he spoke to a packed out house at the atlanta civic center. i mean it. He's currently speaking with John Lennox on the question "is faith delusional?" Both are two of the most intelligent men on the face of the planet right now and debate the foremost thinkers and philosophers about religion and the legitimacy of Christ. While incorporating years of studies, books, debates, theories, models, and intellectual rhetoric into their talks, they somehow simultaneously maintain an incredible humility, groundedness, and universal connection with the simple ideas of faith and the simple/ complex listeners in the audience. People are absolutely captivated as they discuss and explain why it is quite delusional in this world to conform your mind to secular atheism, and combine faith and reason in such a seamless manner that you can't help but believe in the resurrection. Their two talks--so intensely and articulately conveyed--were so effective you could hear a pin drop as people listened, mused, took notes, and stared in awe. At the end, there was a Q&A session, where people (mainly non-believers) would get up and seek out answers to their many questions. There were a few quotes I took note of that blew me away:

"The New Atheists undermine their own arguments ironically with their stance on Reason: they claim that we developed from evolution, relying on instincts and survival, and somehow reason came from this need to survive rather than from any outside source of truth. How can a reason that came, not from Truth, but from human experience be trusted? and if so, how is that universal or logical?" Furthermore, "How can blind selection produce any oral conviction at all? How can basic survival result in the creation of a moral code by which one can reason?"

Both having multiple PhD's in the Sciences, they find that the question of Science or God to be ridiculous. They say, Science is a mechanism and God is an agent. Trying to explain the world in terms or either Science or God is like trying to explain the motor engine of a car in terms of either combustion or Henry Ford--the explanation requires both, and one is a mechanism of how the process works and the other is an agent, creating the motor and the process. Science and God, mechanism and agent, are on such different levels, different calibers, trying to compare them on equal footing is laughable, they say.

Furthermore, they explained that Scientists do have faith--they believe in Laws and they believe that there is a formulaic design or order to the world that can be explained and contained in scientific research--and that they, on some level, must believe in a Law Giver or Intelligent Designer... or else their research is no more significant than random actions without design.

Reductionism is a popular theory among Scientists right now that states that all complex things can be broken down into simple terms/ formulas and that those simple things can explain the larger complex things. John Lennox gave the example of language: words written on a page: r-o-a-s-t. Breaking that word down into it's elemental level--paper and ink--reveals nothing of the meaning of the complex version: roast. The meaning of the letters placed together cannot be deduced from the study of paper and ink. One Reductionist recently dumb-founded by this example surprised John with his answer: "it so obviously cannot explain the meaning of the complex; it requires an Author."

Another Reductionist example: you cannot take anything physical and section it, cut it up, dissect it to a point to determine or find the reason for its existence within itself. To discover the meaning behind anything, you cannot find it by studying the object itself, but it always points to Something Else for meaning/ explanation.

As one former Communist stated after the fall of the Berlin Wall: "We thought that you could, but you cannot get rid of God and keep the value of Man"--meaning without God, without purpose, without a Creator for all of creation, the value placed on creation, on human life, on human ability/ responsibility here on earth is non-existent.

Ravi even explained that most spiritual concepts are evident here on earth, for us to be able to better understanding. God the Father is apparent sometimes in the relationship between parent and child. Jesus the Bridegroom is evident in the way a man loves a woman. The Holy Spirit is in the gut feelings and instinct-like reactions we have within the relationships we have--like a maternal instinct or a 6th sense. And the Trinity is evident in the moment a woman conceives a child: she is 3 and yet she is 1; she contains three scientifically distinct DNAs--hers, her husband's, and the newly created baby--and yet she is still simply a woman--one physical organism as visible from the outside. She is both. It is incredible how the spiritual world is mirrored in this world, in nature, in all that surrounds us.

There's so much more that they said that touched my life and opened my eyes to rationality of our faith, though it is founded and grounded on the miraculous (I hope I have conveyed their ideas with a fraction of the clarity they did; if not, forgive me, they were incredibly clear in their explanations). And looking at the present state of affairs--in America, the economy, celebrity crap, AIDS, globally--why would you embrace the ways and thoughts of this world and expect any reasonable fulfillment? The only hope comes from Christ alone and in knowing that death is not the end but the beginning.

2. the second thing that amazed me was how many people in my office are Christians. We had a group go from EAL--the firm I work for. Out of 13 coworkers, 5 bought tickets and brought their spouses, and 8 are open with their faith. The other 5 are more veiled about everything personal, so it's hard to gauge their response to religion, but still. In the corporate world of downtown Atlanta, it is such an encouragement to work in this office with so many believers. I love it!!

God is good and He is faithful and in response, I am left in awe, grateful and satisfied.

17 February 2009

new job

ok. I STARTED MY NEW JOB TODAY AND I FREAKIN LOVE IT!!!

wait, but seriously. i love my job. it fits me so very well. it not only speaks to my master's degree in about all that i do, but it is so perfectly matched with my bizarre need to draw order out of the chaos i'm quite ecstatic over the whole thing, really.

i don't feel entry-level or bottom rung at all--tho i assure you, by all accounts ("salary" and job description) i am ;). i love the people i work for/ with. the three partners only come in a few days a week [sweet]. and while i was worried it would be stressful--implementing systems of organization into a jungle of case files--the systems are already in place, and the other secretaries need no convincing on my part about the need for change/ knowledge management. it's awesome. i went in expecting to have to fight an uphill battle and here i am: coasting down a wonderfully underwhelming hill. let's hope it stays that way.

plus the whole office has that "it's-a-marathon-not-a-sprint-mentality" so no one works too hard/ too crazy/ too long. and when they get sick of one task, they put it aside and work on something else for a while. the time flew by and i was surrounded by different things to do all day long--never a dull [read: bored] moment. i love it.

we'll see if this enthusiasm lasts, but i'm thinking i've somehow cheated the system and have it made... that is, of course, until i think about how much--how little i make ;)

in all seriousness: i love my job and life couldn't be sweeter.

techno meltdown

i should not have "promised" to post pictures of sweet Ndi, hannah, aswan, and our trip to charlotte b/c [gasp!] my mac claims that it has no space for pictures/ music!

that's total crap b/c i really don't have much of either... but i'm taking it to the doctor [apple at lenox] soon so it should quit pouting and load photos soon enough until then...

11 February 2009

Ndi

Grant had to come to charlotte for business [or "biddness" as Aswan would say ;) ] and I decided to tag along and meet a certain little man. I say little man because he is no baby, he's awesome and huge and happy and beautiful--he's a little man. Anyway, the four of us (plus Ndi) ate sushi Monday night at the coolest place in the sweetest building--the pink building. we had some great convo and some even better sushi and edamame! and hung out till almost midnight!

Tuesday, the boys had to work, so Hannah, Ndi, and I headed uptown to check out the sights and walk around. We got coffee and tea, before stopping in two museums FOR FREE!! check them out here and here. can you believe it??? That was awesome. We also stopped into this precious little chapel for some quite time (and for Hannah to feed little Nile), before heading back to their place--which, btw, is ballin. seriously. awesome house.

Today, I'm having lunch with a lady I met this past weekend on retreat--awesome! And then grant and I are headed back to the city. Our little visit, vaca, (and work, for grant) has been so nice, I just had to write about it.

There will be pictures coming soon, I promise ;)

04 February 2009

big news

So. Drum roll, please.......

I GOT A JOB IN A LAW FIRM DOWNTOWN!!!

I interviewed for the job a few days ago and they offered it to me today! I'm really excited! The office is in the Hurt Building, one of the oldest (and antique chic) in Atlanta. It's gorgeous. I get free parking and a lot of other great stuff, but it's a bitter sweet ending to my time at Bulloch Hall. They've been like family to me--to us--here. They've shown so much love, have mama'd me when I've been sick, have bought extra desert for me to take home for grant, basically been the arms and legs, hearts and hands of family for us here in this new place. It's sad to have to say goodbye--or at least, see you sooner or later--to them. To Bulloch. To my first real job. To the job that spoiled me rotten. To Pam, Gwen, and Janice.

Deadlines

Bittersweet or not, I now have deadlines to meet before my start date: Feb 17th.

I need to buy work clothes (they wear suits all the time... omg ;) we're semi looking for a house to rent (so Ga can have a yard) etc, but here's my schedule between now and then:

1. I'm doing some work and house cleaning and washing clothes and packing tmrw (thurs) and friday am
2. Friday at 2:00pm I'm leaving on a women's retreat with my new bible study; get back at 6 in time for couples bible study at our apt at 6:30 sunday night
3. Wash and repack because Monday we leave for Charlotte! grant has work and i want to see hannah, aswan, and little man Nile; we'll be there monday night through wednesday.
4. Thursday is my last hurrah at Bulloch Hall and lunch with my three wise ladies (they're like family) soooooo sad to be leaving bulloch, but like sands through the hour glass, so are the days of our lives ;)
5. Friday I wash again (are you seeing a pattern) and hopefully buy some work clothes... we'll see
6. We'll leave friday after work for the lake (grant has that monday off for presidents day, so it's a three-day weekend for us! yay!)
7. We get back Monday at a somewhat decent hour because I start my job on Tuesday!!
8. Tuesday morning I get up and head downtown for my new job starting at 9:00 am.

not sure how i'm going to get everything done, but am so so thankful i have a job. the Lord provides. and I love it.

03 February 2009

chaos as usual

So, last weekend was crazy.

Grant planned a guys night for Saturday:concert tickets to see Pat Green at Wild Bill's for ten bucks! (and that included a new cd). awesome.

So I get this call at about 8:00: "Hey, the guys are being lame and inviting girls... so ... do you wanna come?" After being sick last week with what felt like the plague, I wasn't sure, but after quick deliberation I decided to go.

One girl brought another who brought two more and suddenly the 8 guys going to the concert with ten tickets turned into 14 people going... with ten tickets. No one wanted to drive (grant and I were the only ones sober) so what did they decided to do? RENT A STRETCH HUMMER LIMO... who does that??? So, of course we went along! It was fabulous! Several guys pitched in and paid for the whole thing... our friends are ballers. what can we say?

We pull up to the door with lines of people going out and around the building... ridiculous. We almost decided to leave when we heard that it may take another hour in line before getting inside to the show. But then, someone says they know a guy, and we all get out, cut the lines, walk right up to the front and straight in (I think someone slipped the door man some serious cash... anyway). The concert was awesome and the night was random. Pat Green's new cd rocks. Check it out.

Oh, and ps. One of the guys in this crazy group was Colter Bean. You might know him from the Big Leagues (literally): he was a pitcher for the Yankees. How did he end up in our mix? Who knows? He knows a guy...

We returned home hours later in the limo, still not believing the ridiculousness of the night. I just had to show and tell.

PS: grant and I are going to Charlotte next week and we get to see Hannah!! yay!! Can't wait

26 January 2009

new season

I feel like the past few months have been awesome. I have asked for and received wisdom, and it has been a milestone in my faith journey. Things have changed in my heart, mind, and life--somethings that only God and I will ever fully know. Incredible.

But I feel like the next season of life will be one of obedience. I have learned over the past few months that we spell "love" t-i-m-e and God spells "love" o-b-e-d-i-e-n-c-e, so I am moving into a new season. This will be a season of discipline and structure: in work, in play, in mind, in body, and in soul.

In work: I hope to have structure when I have a job. If God wills something else, I feel quite certain that my time will still involve much structure and self-discipline.

In play: I will make more intentional time to hangout and play with friends.

In body: I am working hard to lose a few pounds and continue an overall healthy lifestyle in working out and choosing wisely what I put into this temple of mine--I only have one ;) . I want to honor God in my choices.

In soul: I have joined a new women's bible study on Friday mornings and am loving it. Furthermore, I'm joining Beth Moore on her blog (with 3500 other women) in committing to memorizing 2 scriptures per month--24 total in 2009. I can't wait. I haven't been this intentional in my disciple time in a while; the time that I've had has been awesome, but different each day, lacking basic structure but abounding in creativity and wisdom. This will be a new time of structured quiet time and quiet self-discipline. I'm incredibly hopeful and excited about this next season of life and obedience to God--exploring what that means and how to live it out.

What new seasons are you all encountering?

21 January 2009

blawg

Facebook group turned book venture and blawg ranked nationally. This girl has got it going on.

Check this out:

Law Student’s New Book Showcases the Lighter Side of Bad Grammar
Sharon Eliza Nichols, a second-year law student at Alabama, recently parlayed her Facebook group titled, “I judge you when you use poor grammar," into a book deal with St. Martin’s Press. Her book, I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar: A Collection of Egregious Errors, Inadvertent Bloopers, and Other Linguistic Slip-Ups, is set for release later this year.

For those of us interested in blogs outside our typical web surfing, there are blawgs--law blogs--that comment on some pertinent--and some entertaining--issues that our country faces in the midst of economic and political turmoil, how they will effect daily lives and the law. One such blawg is above the law, and another, thank you ma'am

Nichols guest blogs at AboveTheLaw.com and maintains her own blog, “Thank You Ma'am,” which was voted recently as the top law student blog in the “2008 ABA Journal Blawg 100.”

16 January 2009

old and new

2008

the most fun times you can remember: umm... getting married!! then of course the honeymoon!

your greatest flashes of creativity: scrap-booking, blogging... well kinda ;), and reading the twilight series--picturing the passion, love, and devotion, and creating a world where vampires and werewolves exist. it makes me want to write.

memorable things you heard people say: "God is sovereign to judge, the Holy Spirit convicts, and I am called to love"; "i do"

people you came to appreciate in a new way: Janice--i've decided to love her without expectation or want of anything in return. it's incredibly freeing. if i approach her with nothing but love and place no expectation on her head to perform, it makes for an amazingly giving and compassionate relationship.

times that music touched you deeply: when visiting ashley in fla, we heard a praise choir sing. my favorite verse was from a song that emphasizes how much we all need each other. "i pray for you, you pray for me, i love you, i need you to survive, stand with me, agree with me, i need you to survive, it is His will that every need be supplied, you are important to me, i need you to survive." amazing moment--ash, nida, you know what i'm talking about. oh, and this is really stupid, but taylor swift's love story. grant text me a really sweet section of it and every time i hear it i think of him--lame, i know, but it gets me every time.

in what ways did you change? i learned a lot. a lot about me. a lot about grant. a lot about being married. and a whole lot about God.

things that books taught you: i've read more this year than ever before, but a few stand out: for women only, God wants to save christians, the twilight series, a voice in the wind, along with re-reading a few faves. each one has taught me more about myself and who i want to become. and ever single one has had something to say about love, being more conscious about loving grant the way HE needs to be loved. representing and describing bonds that last a life time and then some.

terms you would use to describe yourself in 2008: happy. content. satisfied. joyful.

your most significant accomplishments: graduating from graduate school with a 4.0! woohoo! glad to be done with that!

people who came through for you: God. grant. family. georgia (she loves me and she's soft ;) and my besties

ways you messed up: i wish i'd given Janice a better chance sooner. but it's all in God's time and purpose.

times that God took you by surprise: wedding day bliss and every day since. finding this incredible apartment that we've made into a home. mending my heart when i didn't know i needed it.

if you were to give a title to 2008: "love and change"

2009

what apprehensions do you have about the coming year? getting a j.o.b.--yeah... hope that works out...!

what journeys would you like to take? visit greece, scotland, ireland, back to new zealand for grant's sake (it's his fave), a mission trip abroad with grant, i also want to do a beth moore video study series, which should be quite a journey i'm looking forward to.

what daring and potentially thrilling things would you like to do? skydive. that's gotta happen this year. and the whole mission trip to ... hopefully africa... should be an adventure in so many ways

what would you like to change about yourself? i want to be more involved in this shelter we've discovered; the mission and outreach is intoxicating. they go out weekly. and i want to serve more. i want us to serve more.

who do you want to get to know better this year? God. grant. zach and steph. Nile. our small group. my future boss....

if 2009 is to have a title, what do you want it to be? "go. do. seek adventure"

what major things do you want to accomplish this coming year? better discipline in my quiet time, more love, more compassion.

02 January 2009

learning lately

Here's what I've been learning lately. It's a culmination of things--verses, conversations, sermons, thoughts--that have recently come together in a dream I had a few weeks ago. I rarely have dreams--well, actually I dream every night, but rarely dreams with significance or meaning. What's interesting is that I've had only three and each one involved Hannah and Aswan.

The first was prophetic about Aswan and his music, getting the deals necessary to spread the Word; the dream was as if I were watching it happen at a packed concert.

The second was the first night Hannah knew she was pregnant but hadn't told anyone; it was a convo between me and Go about how everyone had a time that they needed to be born, regardless of the "readiness" of the parents and how each person's birth effected eternity in a ripple effect. That was cool.

Then this one was about a lot of things but involved Aswan speaking truth into a community of believers--a truth that is rarely/ never addressed in church. I learned a lot. And it was good.

Here's my dream (kinda long, sorry, but for God's glory, I promise):

Last night I had a dream. Joseph Antonio [I have no idea the significance with Joseph, whom I have not seen in years] and I were on our way to a conference to hear someone great speak. We had heard much about him, but on the way in the car, I could not remember his name. There were two scheduled speakers, but we ended up hearing three sermons, basically about: worth, the ego-centric verses other-centric church, and compassion. These three topics were directly related to and tied in with scripture to love.

We arrived and the first speaker began to talk—almost like an opener for the second—to a crowd of about 200. He spoke about worth: that if we saw ourselves and each other as God sees us—worth everything—we would not submit ourselves to Sin and would forgive and love others more freely. If we viewed ourselves as worthy of God’s love and grace, as He does—not in a self-righteous or ungrateful way, but in a humble, loving, thankful, accepting way—we would not whore ourselves out to the Sin of the world or settle for so much less in relationships, in family, in respect (or lack thereof), in the church. We would not give our bodies to prostitution. We would not allow others to be sold as sex slaves. We would not allow pornography and drug use to be the largest industries in the world. We would not abort babies from the very womb in which God knit them together. We would not beat our wives or children. We would not kill each other out of hate or violence. Furthermore, the speaker went on, if we viewed our neighbors—every other human we came in contact with the same way, of the same worth and value as God’s creation—we would forgive and love more freely. We would give them the things that the Lord has given them and us so generously. We would clothe the homeless, feed the poor, visit the prisons, take in the orphans and widows, love the loveless, support the forsaken—FREELY—if we really thought they were worth it as God does. We would respond out of love and kindness not anger and bitterness. And as a result of the whole church living with purpose, knowing individual worth and the value of others as God sees His crown of creation, we would experience a freedom within ourselves as well; even though the most evident change would be outward, he argued, the biggest change would happen in the depths of our souls as we lived with different intentions and saw the world through news eyes and a renewed perspective. Seeing people and ourselves as God sees us can only result in gracious, lavish love, the kind of love that can change a family, a church, a city, a country, a world. He closed us in prayer, cited scripture throughout that I cannot now recall, and introduced the next speaker: Aswan.

The moment Aswan got to the stage, I realized that I had known all along who he was and the crowd thickened to over 1,000 packed in to hear him speak. Aswan spoke about an ego-centric church—a group of believes who come together, worship corporately, but view themselves self-righteous and as different from the others of the body in a separate and even elitist way. These people love and accept people as best they can, but they still have certain individuals, families, groups of people, that they cannot or will not resolve conflict with. All of this stems from the belief—so subtle they are unaware that Satan has embedded it so deeply in their understanding, which makes it an pandemic of the heart throughout the church and exponentially dangerous: the God that loves and accepts me, created me and died or my sins, that’s My God, not Your God; the God that created you, with all your junk, and baggage, and depression, and self-loathing, and anger, and ignorance, and regret, and un-forgiveness, and jealously, everything that makes you different from me, He is not my God. The argument follows that if my God calls me to love those that bear his image, and you certainly do not bear his image—and worship a different God (either outwardly or inwardly)—I will not love you but will instead choose to hate you, or separate you out from our group, our family, our church. I will ostracize you and refuse conflict resolution and forgiveness because you are different and my God is my God, not your God. He created me and values me, not you. Aswan went on to explain that thought potent, this thinking when laid out and expressed out loud, of course, is absurd; that is why Satan buries it so deeply in our hearts that we cannot unearth it ourselves without the accountability of others to help us deal with ourselves and others once it has been exposed to the light. This thinking—ego-centric church rather than others-centered church—is the reason that many who say they love Jesus can also choose to hate their brother. They are morally good and yet there’s something within them that expresses a great distaste and dissatisfaction with those who are different or have “otherness” qualities about them. This is also why the homeless are struggling, the orphans are starving, the widows are abandoned, the families and homes and churches are broken. Aswan pleaded with the crowd and expressed a dire need to preach and teach more about this topic in churches, to unearth the crud buried deep in our hearts, repent, forgive, resolve differences, and to love. He, too, cited many verses that I cannot at this time recall, but he gave a powerful message and the meeting was over. Many left, many ate, but someone (a prophet, I think) said, “There is still someone here who needs to speak God’s word. He has put it on your heart, and now needs you to speak it.”

I was that person. Me. Lucy.

It shocked me as much as anyone else as I prayed, got up on stage, and spoke to a group of about 20. It was good. I spoke about compassion. I said, tying in so pertinently with the first two speakers, that I believed God wanted us to seriously in a very real and practical daily way clothe ourselves with compassion—not anger, not stress, not the ways of the world, not the mindset of capitalism, but with compassion. I explained that God was teaching me a lot about that right now, that He had taken me through six months of a marriage with a mother-in-law that was very difficult to love. I had prayed for wisdom, and what God spoke into my heart was compassion. Compassion to replace the bitterness and hate, compassion to remove the resistance and stubbornness, compassion to ease the process of love and acceptance. Compassion is important to the Lord because it leads to good things: forgiveness, acceptance, love. Similar to the previous two messages, there exists an outward benefit to embracing compassion as a worldview and lifestyle and an inward benefit. The outward is that we are humble and joyous in the Lord in all things, and approach other people with godly qualities rather than the ones would otherwise come to them with. We would forgive freely, love generously, support one another, bare each other’s burdens, serve others more often and in more creative ways, pooling our resources for others rather than hording it away for ourselves. Inward benefits would include a freedom of the heart, liberation of the soul, a light and peaceful outlook to replace the darker one that had clouded our vision before. My sermon was much shorter than the other two, and I read scripture that, at this point, I cannot remember.

At the end, we closed in prayer and went out into the world, a new creation in Christ, with a new outlook, a new perspective, a better heart readjusted to kingdom needs rather than our own, and in reflect about what to do next. It was awesome and invigorating.

I woke up with a smile on my face.


-------------------------------------
you may not believe in dreamers. it's ok. i didn't either until God spoke to me through dreams. i'm not trying to convince any one of the authenticity of my dream, just trying to spread the Word that i've most recently received from the Father. i think it speaks differently to everyone, so interpretation on my part is moot. xoxoxo

what do y'all think?