Friday Finds: August 18, 2017

I’m just going to start by saying there’s nothing fun about this Friday Finds post.  I am just wrecked over the ridiculousness that is happening in our country right now (and has been happening for way too long).  I’m sick over it.

Therefore, this post is going to be a list of thought-provoking articles and podcasts I’ve found lately.  I tried to add some of the more nuanced discussions, however, there is absolutely no nuance in the issues we are facing.  There is no gray area when it comes to white supremacy.  This is just wrong. wrong. wrong.  It’s disgraceful.

Some Articles:

Let’s begin by defining some terms: What Christians Should Know About the Alt-Right

A Few Thoughts from Timothy Keller

For Our White Friends Desiring to be Allies

How Black Lives Matter Changed My Theology

The Monuments Must Go – an open letter from the descendants of Stonewall Jackson.  Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee’s descendants have made similar remarks.  In fact, both of those men worked diligently for reunification in the later years of their lives and wanted all symbols of the Confederacy to be disposed of permanently.

White Debt – and yes, we are talking about reparations.

Let’s Talk about Whiteness

And while we are talking about speaking up for the oppressed, have you heard what is happening in Iceland?  This is a tragedy, and we’d be naive to think it isn’t also happening in America.

Some Podcasts:

“White Supremacy is Spiritual Bondage” – a great message from The Gospel Coalition’s podcast.

Truth’s Table Podcast – I just started listening to this a couple weeks ago.  Here’s the description from their website: “We are Black Christian women who love truth and seek it out wherever it leads us. We have unique perspectives on race, politics, gender, current events, and pop culture that are filtered through our Christian faith. So pull up a chair and have a seat at the table with us.”  The episode entitled “Respectability Politics Reimagined” is brilliant.

Pass the Mic – Pass The Mic is the premier podcast of the Reformed African American Network. Tune in every week for engaging discussions and high profile interviews addressing the core concerns of African Americans biblically. Notable episodes: “A Biblical Theology of Race” and “Current Events: Charlottesville”.

 

Friday Finds: August 4, 2017

I’m back!!! Amy, this is for you.

I had such good intentions about actually posting this summer, but clearly failed.  I spend so much time sitting at my computer at work that I prefer to never open my laptop at home unless I need to pay bills.  That being said, every month one of my goals is to blog more and I really do want to accomplish that at some point.

Here are some “finds” I’ve enjoyed this summer.

  • Knitting – I’m not actually very good at it, probably because I only end up doing it once every few years when I make a baby blanket.  This summer gave me the opportunity to do it again (thanks, pregnant friends) and I remembered how much I love “creating” something with my hands. I’m currently working on an afghan for myself. It’s the first thing I will have made and kept!
  • The GIPHY feature on my iPhone – I’m having a blast sending GIF only texts with my sisters.
  • More podcasts – I’ve found several new good ones this summer and now I have too many in my queue.  I either need to unsubscribe from some or be at peace with not listening to every episode of every show. Some of my new favorites include The Gospel Coalition’s Word of the Week and Real Crime Profile.  I also recently started listening to Ben and Ashley’s Almost Famous Podcast (they interview other Bachelor/Bachelorette contestants and talk about the show).  Another fun one if you are nostalgic for the TV Show “Reading Rainbow” is “LeVar Burton Reads” – each episode he reads a short story.  It’s fantastic.
  • This sweet story about a couple growing their family – you have to read the last sentence – it’s hysterical!
  • This News story out of Ocean City, MD.  This is my nightmare.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Check back next week!

Friday Finds 5/5/17

This Friday Finds post is brought to you by my “Flood Day.”  That’s right.  School was cancelled today due to the creeks rising over the bridges.

I was already at work at 6:45 and so I’ve been trying to redo my entire testing schedule…that’s been fun.

Today’s find is a little bit different: I’ve got a fun story for.  Last night at small group, a couple people shared that they are daily reminded of God’s love for them in small ways.  For example, one woman said she always prays for a good parking spot and she always gets one.  Just something God does for her.

I’ve got to admit that it kind of made me mad.  I didn’t say anything, but I was frustrated…and spent a lot of time last night thinking about why it mad me so mad.  I guess the root of it is that I don’t feel like that’s the way God deals with me.  I don’t get those “and then I won the lottery” or “and they lived happily ever after” stories.  My friend needed a new car….then passed out at the doctor’s office, broke her nose, and got a settlement that paid for the new car.  I’m not jealous, exactly.  It’s just that I’ve begun to understand that the easy way isn’t going to be His path for me, and that’s ok.  His love for me is revealed in other ways…like the way He strips away my pride and forces circumstances that require I give up trying to do things on my own and trust Him.  And that means hard things.

All that to say, last night I was feeling sad and definitely asked God, “Why can’t You just love me that way instead?”

This morning while getting ready for my nonexistent workday, I discovered the cream for my coffee wasn’t smelling right and didn’t think it would be wise to risk it.  I’m not a fan of black coffee so I headed to Sheetz on the way in.  I got my coffee and when I pulled out money to pay, the cashier asked, “Would you like your coffee to be free this morning?”

“Ummm, yes. I most certainly would,” I stammered back.  (Turns out they changed their rewards structure and I hadn’t realized….)

It’s not an earth shattering miracle to have a free coffee that typically costs $1.50 but I don’t want to ignore that it was a gift.  God sent His love in a clear way…the easy way…and I am thankful I didn’t miss it.

*****************

And another little find for you, courtesy of my sister, Amy.  Some friends of hers are the models in this adorable “This is Us” Themed Photo Shoot.  So fun!

Happy Weekend!

Friday Finds: 4/21/17

Happy Friday, y’all!

I don’t have any typical finds for you this week.  April finally had her baby and it was amazing to watch! From hooves and a nose out to a baby giraffe on the ground in 12 minutes.  It was awesome!

What I want to share today is a quote from one of the books I’m reading right now, Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul, by Hannah Anderson.  The chapter I read this morning was so convicting and encouraging.  Here is an excerpt:

“Because our emotions are powerful, it’s tempting to simply shut them down or deny them like the ancient Stoics would. We know the danger that comes when we are led by them, how easily we lash out in anger or manipulate others. But simply controlling our emotions doesn’t make us humble, or healthy, people. Instead, humility calls us to something better. Humility calls us to feel deeply precisely because we know that ‘God is greater than our hearts.’

“Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ you can trust Him to care for you when your heart breaks through disappointment or suffering. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ you can trust Him to rejoice with you in times of joy and success. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ you can trust Him to correct and lead you through doubt and fear. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ He can handle the depth of your emotions. He is not afraid of them, and as you bring them back to Him,  you shouldn’t be afraid of them either. In this sense, humility does not shut down your inner life; humility redeems it.

“So that, with the psalmist, we can finally and confidently proclaim, ‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.'”

Humble Roots, p.114

He said, “Good morning”

Matthew 28:1-9 — Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came up and took hold of his feet and worshiped him.

This morning, I read this familiar passage in a new translation (Holman CSB if you’re wondering). Instead of “Greetings!” (ESV and NIV), in the CSB Jesus approached the women and said, “Good morning!”

The cheerfulness and familiarity of the term struck me in a way “greetings” never did.  The contrast between this entrance and that of the angel makes it all the more notable. The angel appears in all the glory and power of heaven – everyone trembled at the sight.  Then, Jesus quietly meets the women on the road and without a trace of fanfare says, “Good morning!”

The Greek word used here is chairo and it has multiple meanings. It was used to say “Rejoice!” or “Hail!” or even “Peace to you.”  But it was also a familiar — common — greeting in the day.  They used it to say hello and goodbye, like “Be well” or “Ciao”.  It’s a word you would use when you were reuniting with old friends.

He says to the women, “Good morning!”

The greatest understatement of all time.

I think He was saying, “Good morning” in every sense of the word.  “Rejoice! – your sorrow has turned into joy!”  “The peace that transcends all peace is yours today.”  “All is well and all will be well.”  And finally, “Hey, how’ve you been?”

He says hello like nothing had happened, but really everything, had changed. The fate of humanity, the trajectory of the universe, forever altered.

Matthew Henry writes, “The salutation speaks the good-will of Christ to man.”  When Jesus said those words He spoke reconciliation.  I am alive and your sins are now atoned for.  And now He is not ashamed to call us brothers.  He walks up and simply says, “Good morning.”  We have peace with God and fellowship with Jesus Christ.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross…” (Ephesians 2:13-17)

He Speaks in the Night

I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think You’re like

But I’ve heard the tender whispers of love in the dead of night

And You tell me that You’re pleased and that I’m never alone…

I don’t normally wake up in the middle of the night.  While it may take me a while to fall asleep, I usually have no problem staying asleep once it happens.  So I was surprised a couple weeks ago when I awoke around 2am and found myself wide awake.

Realizing I wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon, I sat up and reached for my book. In that brief moment, I found myself overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness. It came like a mighty wave and I felt like it would drown me.

I looked out the window and uttered a single word, “Why?”  Why did I feel this way?  I haven’t felt this alone in a long time – this year is one of the first where I feel like I truly belong in this town, in my church… Yes, I long for a family, but I am surrounded by a family of faith and children who run to greet me when I get to church or worship practice or small group.  It has been a gift.

But the truth is there is still a piece that feels alone. Unseen. Unknown. It’s a far deeper longing that the ache I feel for a husband and children of my own.  It’s hard to put into words.  And on this night, my heart was overwhelmed within me.

The why was quickly followed by for how long, O Lord?

Almost immediately, my soul heard His answer.  It wasn’t an audible voice, but the words that filled my mind were ones that were both tender and full of authority.

Let me first tell you what He didn’t say.  He did not give me an expiration date on this feeling. He did not give me the name of my husband or even promise that there is one out there.

He said this: You will never feel this way in heaven.

Feelings of peace washed over me.  I am already fully known, seen, understood. I belong.  I am seated with Christ in the heavenly places.  All of these things are already true.

But for now we see in part.  I have days when I feel like I belong and I am a key part of this fellowship.  There are other days when I think I could disappear and no one would notice.  While I am fully known already, I can only see imperfect glimpses of that reality from time to time.  One day I shall see fully and be able to understand that I am fully known.  There will never be a single moment in eternity when I feel like I don’t fit. That feeling — that fear — will disappear.  It will just be a memory, like suffering, sickness, and death.

I will never feel this way in heaven.

This means for me, this life is as bad as it gets. These feelings have an end date and they will be gone for good.  I rejoice in that hope!

And what a wondrous thing / I can stand to sing / ‘Cause when I fall to my knees You’re the One who pulls me up again / And what a mystery that You notice me / And in a crowd of ten thousand You don’t miss a thing / I am seen and I am known by the King of kings and Lord of lords

 

Songs quoted:
“Good Good Father” (Chris Tomlin)
“You Don’t Miss a Thing” (Bethel Music)

 

When You Realize Your Heart’s Been Changed

Growing up I had this friend who was in every class with me from kindergarten through high school graduation.  Really, I had a frenemy in every class with me – it’s just that the word hadn’t been invented yet.  I didn’t have a difficult childhood but there were times she tried to make it one.  If she was bored or had no “better” people to hang out with, she was kind to me, but the second anyone cooler than me (and I wasn’t anywhere near the top of her list in that department, by the way) cared to show her attention, she kick me to the curb in a hot minute.

I tried, oh I tried, so hard to get her to like me.  Nothing I ever did was good enough, and, for some reason, I still gave her opportunity after opportunity to hurt me.  My high school journals are full of this swinging pendulum.

July 29, 2002: “God, I am having so much trouble loving _______ again. Maybe she is insecure about her volleyball ability but every time I make the slightest mistake she treats me as if I’ve committed an atrocious crime and she can’t trust me anymore!”

Somehow in the midst of it all, I wrote out another prayer, “God, I can’t wait for you to change her heart anymore.  It hurts too much and I can’t bear it. So change mine instead so this doesn’t destroy me.”

I remember so many nights just sobbing in my room over the injustice of it all.  My poor mother – I’m sure many of those times I was overreacting, but she said with me and spoke Truth to me nonetheless.  I distinctly remember her encouraging to walk with grace and dignity, confident that the Lord would deal with her in His time.  She assured me this would happen, whether I witnessed it or not.

Those words, lots of prayer, and the kindness of God got me through the rest of high school  My frenemy didn’t change, but we graduated and went our separate ways and her opinions no longer mattered and she no longer had opportunities to reject and belittle me.

….and now God is dealing with her….

And there is no part of me that takes delight in this fact.

I drove home Friday afternoon for a funeral. My frenemy was there, her face showing the result of sin, brokenness, and devastation.  She has endured more pain in the last 10 years that probably anyone in my graduating class, and was delivered another blow this week.  The circumstances of her life are such that she can’t cleverly hide her past choices and consequences.  She wears her brokenness for all to see.  She’s been humbled.

And there was no part of my heart that felt God had finally given me justice.  I didn’t look at her and think, “Finally – she got what she deserved.” Instead, the only prayer that left my lips was, “No more, Lord.  The one you love is sick. Come heal. Come redeem.  No more.”

In that moment I realized God had indeed answered my prayer.  Granted, I am now about 15 years removed from the worst of the incident, but many of us are able to hold grudges longer than that.  Instead, I realize He has changed my heart.  We’re still in the midst of whatever he’s doing in hers, and I am going to pray every day that the resolution is one of abundant life.

But the miracle I want you to hear today is the work He’s done in me.  In the last fifteen years, He’s taught me the depths of my own sin. He’s humbled me, softened me, and given me a deeper measure of empathy and compassion.  He’s changed my heart and without realizing it, I’ve come to love my enemy.  I only want good for someone who once seemed to enjoy inflicting me with pain, and I appeal to Him to have mercy and redeem.  Because I know if He can change a heart as cold and embittered as mine, there’s nothing he can’t restore.