#Sunday Message: Even If

8 12 2019

So I heard this song a while ago, and this song just was something that I just brushed off, as another song on the radio. My friend Lisa, when her step mother was going through a serious illness, she connected with this song. She shared it with me, with tears running down her face, and said to me “Mary, that’s what it’s all about.” Lisa’s stepmother would eventually die, and each afternoon, she’d play this song, and the tears would run down her face, but she was determined, to stop asking for what she wanted, and just trusting that God is God of all and through it all. For Lisa, God was God, and she wasn’t, and she wasn’t about to ask God for something that wasn’t in God’s purpose.

A few months later, Lisa would be diagnosed with cancer, and that cancer would ultimately take her life. When she shared with me her diagnosis, and the plan of action, she was met with questions…..questions about why she had cancer, why God had allowed her to have this disease….and I didn’t know what to say, because in those times, the stuff you say can do more harm than good. So I just listened. I sat there and listened to her pour out her hurt, and her tears in the sanctuary of her classroom, I listened to her plead for healing afternoon after afternoon. I’d be lying if I said that her faith didn’t waver. I’d be lying if I said that she didn’t want to give up. I’d be lying if I said she was this brave warrior, marching into battle with the confidence that God provides. Instead, it was more like a limp, one that questioned, and the one that worried.

And then, this song became my song, when she lost her battle. In my attempts to grieve and to heal, I started looking for all the songs that she shared with me. And I landed on this one. With my broken heart, and tears running down my face, I would limp through this song, sometimes defeated, sometimes unsure of the words I was singing. Sometimes, I would mean them, and sometimes, I would throw them out into the Lord harshly, in anger.



I don’t want to spend much time dissecting and interpreting what the song means, because I sometimes wonder if that comes across as if people think the listeners are idiots. Instead, I just want to talk about the chorus and the statement of faith that chorus means, because that’s the challenging and lovely part of this whole thing for me.

I know you’re able
And I know you can
Save through the fire
Or with your mighty hand
But even if you don’t
My Hope is you alone
I know the sorrow
and I know the hurt
would all go away
if you just said the word
but even if you don’t
My hope is you alone.

This is such a powerful testimony of faith for me. It’s such a challenging testimony of faith for me. This song makes me re-examine all that I pray for in moments of struggle, and in moments of grief. I’m not in the space where I can say that these words are true for me yet, especially when things aren’t going the way I would want them to, but I hope to one day be selfless and be able to sing this song as truth.

God is able to do whatever God wants to do.
That’s the first thing that I learned from this song. I think that before I started critically thinking about the meaning of this song, I think I didn’t really truly believe that God was powerful enough to do what God can do. Like I know that I sing that God is awesome and stuff like that, but did I really KNOW it? I don’t think so. I suppose maybe it was something that I may have forgotten. But to be able to admit that I know that God is able to save through the fire or with God’s mighty hand….that requires faith. It requires a different kind of faith. Rather than faith in the fact that God created the whole of creation, I guess I had to learn that God could do anything God wanted. I guess I had to believe it. If God wanted to take Lisa’s sickness from her, God could have.

But you see, that’s also infuriating! If God wanted to take Lisa’s sickness from her, why didn’t he? The fact that God didn’t, makes me madder than dirt. It upsets me and I start to blame God, I start to scold God for taking her life. I stomp around like a toddler who’s pacifier was taken away from them, and who’s daddy said no to the candy you want, so I proceed to flail myself on the floor and kick and scream and cry. Ok, so maybe I’m not THAT dramatic, but maybe it’s more of a metaphorical temper tantrum. I’m not about to embarrass myself. So, back to the question: If God could take Lisa’s sickness from her, why didn’t he? Honestly? I don’t know. I think that the answer lies somewhere in between the testimonies of people like me who are left behind, and God’s will.

God could have taken Lisa’s sickness. But God didn’t. I don’t know why. But my faith is not in the fact that he did or didn’t take the sickness, it has to be in the knowledge that he could take the sickness. That God is able to take sickness and give healing, to give restoration. The weakness of God is not found when God doesn’t heal, the power is in that God can.


Just because God doesn’t do what we want, doesn’t mean we need to lose our faith in God.
You know, we boast and sing about how God’s love never fails. We sing about how great is his faithfulness. We shout that God never leaves us. We say that he is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. We say she is a mother who doesn’t leave our side. All of these things we proclaim about how God is faithful to us….but we rarely return the favor. You know, when things get rough, when things get tough, it’s like the faith we have, just goes out, like the baby and the bathwater. I’ll be honest, when things are bad, I’ll do what humans do, and question God, I’ll question God’s power, and if he really loves me, if she really cares for me. I’ll question why any of this happened in the first place. I can’t hope to benefit from and sing about God’s faithfulness to me, if I don’t at least attempt to remain steadfast in God!

Just because something bad happens, that doesn’t mean that my hope in God needs to just disappear and walk away. If it does, then that means my love and faith is conditional, dependent upon what God does, and that’s not something true at all. Now, I know that it’s very difficult to never lose your hope and your faith, and I’ll be honest, I’ve had my doubts too, but ya know, we can’t let that inability keep us from trying to be faithful and trying to do our best to keep our hope in God steady.

That’s where faith comes in. Sometimes it’s blind. Well, heck, for me a lot of times it’s blind faith, in that I don’t know what’s coming. I don’t know what the purpose is….but faith requires a commitment. A commitment that whatever happens, my faith and hope is in God, and not in whatever is going on.


If God could heal Lisa, then God can also heal grieving hearts.
You know, I believe that God did heal Lisa. I believe that God healed her, but healing didn’t look like I wanted it to be. Now, I can imagine her sitting there, rocking all the babies in heaven. I imagine her with her mama whom she so dearly missed. I imagine her singing praises to her King. I imagine her knowing the reason behind her suffering.

And that’s good and all, but where does that leave me? If God could heal Lisa, then God can also heal my heart. You know, if I remain in God’s love, God can heal me too. And that’s a faith that I need. In the middle of the temper tantrum, I’ve missed the point. I’ve missed the point that this was God’s plan all along. And maybe I’ve missed the mark of faith, in that I’m behaving this way because somewhere deep inside, I worry God won’t fix me and won’t heal me. Maybe in all my anger and blame, I’m really hiding the fact that I’m worried that God isn’t able to fix my heart.

But if I believe that God could have taken Lisa’s pain….then I have to believe that God could heal my heart. And you know what? It’s true. God has healed me, slowly but surely. God has healed different parts of me, along the way. I’m not completely healed yet, but maybe one day, God will give me the strength to be able to say “it is well with my soul.”






Just a Short Note

4 12 2019

Above all, God is good. If you need to know anything at all about me, you need to know that God is good. In all the chaos of life, in all the heartaches, in all of the tough stuff, God is good. God is good simply for the reason that God is in all the chaos, heartbreak and tough stuff. God is good, not because I’m put together again, but because God meets me in my brokenness and reminds me that I am not alone. God is faithful. God is with me. And for that, I say that God is good.





30, a Look Back

2 12 2019

I’m 31 years of age today. Getting older and my birthday doesn’t feel like much of a special occasion when your birthday is on a Monday, but it is still that time Of the year.

Things I Learned This Year

  1. God is faithful, always.
  2. If I could just figure out how to love people, I’d be better off.
  3. The definition of love is active, so sometimes the actions change.
  4. Be careful with whom you share your secrets. Your Judas might be the person next to you.
  5. When you find your people, hang on to them.
  6. Don’t let the things that don’t matter hinder your relationship with others.
  7. Not every battle is your battle to fight.
  8. Pay attention when you’re going down steps, you might just miss it.
  9. Take time to yourself sometimes.
  10. Let it go sometimes, like Elsa.
  11. Try something new, you never know who you might meet!
  12. I need creative outlets.
  13. Don’t let the end of your life be the beginning of your trust.
  14. A shower does wonders for you when you’re depressed.
  15. Wear good shoes at Disney World. Try to take it all in.
  16. It’s all about balance.
  17. Grief never goes away.
  18. There are things worth crying about, let yourself make the tears.
  19. The absence of contact does not mean the relationship is suffering.
  20. Not every follower of Jesus follows Jesus. Sometimes they make Jesus in their own image.
  21. DO NOT DRIVE IN 5 OCLOCK DC TRAFFIC.
  22. I am a little to insecure of myself.
  23. Keep trying new recipes.
  24. Live out your faith, if necessary, read the Bible to find out what you should do.
  25. Sometimes older adults are more immature than you’d think they would be.
  26. Apologies can go a long way.
  27. Try not to assume, before assuming, ask.
  28. Use deodorant on your feet. The world will thank you.
  29. There’s nothing more valuable than some good rest.
  30. Life is too short to go around with holey underwear or socks.

Thank you for being a part of this journey of mine!

T





Give me faith

8 09 2019

If I am honest, I feel really unqualified to post today. I feel like I’ll disappoint you with what I’m gonna say, but I’m committed to speaking what I know is truth, especially my truth. So I guess here it is.

Many weeks, I post about how good God is, and how God has a plan, or whatever I am feeling regarding the Lord. And yes, all of these things are true. Well, in some facet of the universe, it is true that God is good, and God has a plan. I may not be able to say this with 100% certainty right just this moment, but I’ll let you believe that for me.

If I’m honest, I’m actually quite hurt. I’m hurting right now. It’s so hard for me to admit that. We wanna look or seem like we are this spiritual superhero, but the reality is, anyone who paints themself to have it all together, they’re actually lying to you in some way or another.

I know the world does not revolve around me. I know that God doesn’t do things to revolve around me and my desires. I know that. And yet, I feel like I’m this little kid, sitting on the floor in my footie pajamas, throwing a little fit of my own. While I know that rationally, the world does not revolve around me and my hurts, sometimes I wish I did. Coming up on a year ago, a very dear friend, mother figure, if you will-died. She faced a long battle with cancer, and she passed away, before she saw healing on this side. It seems as if that moment was the one in which the world got a little darker, the future looked a little bleaker, and my heart had been hurting since then. I think what I miss the most is the way that she loved on me and what she thought about me, because with that death, so did the relationship die.

I don’t want to wax poetic and paint this picture of a saint of a person, so I won’t do that, I will just say, quite simply, I miss her. There are so many tears I’ve cried, and there are many more, I’m sure.


So now, I find myself in the same situation. Someone has the same cancer that she had. Their cancer journey has been very different, but difficult nonetheless.

I went to go visit home, and ate lunch with my dad, just to tell me that he gets all kinds of tore up when he is around it. Me too, dad. Me too.

I’ve been struggling so much with this, and there have been multiple times where tears have flooded, whether physical or emotional tears. I have many questions. Some blame god. Some blame circumstances. Some accuse God. I mean, God did say that we were taken care of, right? So where’s God now?! I don’t know.

It’s funny, right?

When things are going well, we know where God is. But when things suck the most? I don’t know about you, but I am keenly aware of Gods absence in moments like these.


So what’s the point? What’s the point of trying to do good and be good, if God is just gonna disappear when it gets tough?

I don’t know.

Maybe, just maybe, God is doing something in me, to help me understand God more. Maybe there is some great plan that I don’t know the particulars for. Maybe this is a chance to grow. Maybe this is preparation for what I’ll face next.

I’m calmer now. I don’t have the answers, but I’m not gonna fake it. I’m not gonna play pretend with you, because that’s not true.

Maybe there’s no teaching or word from God this week, just a snapshot of the struggle I’m facing in progress. And maybe tears in worship are still acceptable too. I don’t know.

But thanks for being with me through the journey.

Give me faith

To trust what you say

That you are good

And your love is great

I’m broken inside

I give you my life





#Sundaymessage: I have Decided to Follow Jesus–and Will Change! Pt 2 (Delayed)

20 08 2019

A few weeks ago, I posted this post, which was part 1 of this series. I have delayed posting this, simply because I needed some time meditating on this next segment.

But when it is all said and done, God’s Temple on the mountain, firmly fixed, will dominate all mountains, towering above surrounding hills. People will stream to it and many nations set out for it. Saying, “Come, let’s climb God’s mountain. Let’s go to the Temple of Jacob’s God. He will teach us how to live. We’ll know how to live God’s way.” True teaching will issue from Zion, God’s revelation from Jerusalem. He’ll establish justice in the rabble of nations and settle disputes in faraway places. They’ll trade their swords for shovels, their spears for rakes and hoes. Nations will quit fighting each other, quit learning how to kill one another. Each man will sit under his own shade tree, each woman in safety will tend her own garden. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so, and he means what he says.

Meanwhile, all the other people live however they wish, picking and choosing their gods. But we live honoring God, and we’re loyal to our God forever and ever.

Micah 4:1-5, Eugene Peterson’s The Message

I am one of those few rare breeds of people that tend to pull out the instructions and read them before I attempt to put things together. I’ve spent many a afternoon, evening, looking over instructions and trying to make sense of them, surrounded by spare parts. After many hours of sitting in the floor in my living room, hopefully, I’ve been able to assemble something that is useful and important. Now, there are some people who don’t do it differently. My hat is off to those people, because I do believe that my anxiety will get the best of me. I mean, what if the big brother hidden in my TV is watching me do it wrong? What will happen? Will I die? Is there a secret hidden camera that is there to double check and see if I followed the directions? Those anxious thoughts always get the best of me.


In the last post, I neglected to finish teaching the whole part of it. I wanted to mainly focus on the characteristics of false teachers, and warn you, my readers of some characteristics of those kinds of people. Now, I want to finish it up. In the last little section, the word of God calls for their impending destruction (Micah 3: 11& 12). The reason that I separated those verses and have included them in this discussion is because I think those verses are a transitory group of verses that lead us into the opening of Micah chapter 4. Check out the video below for some more context.

So from this video, I learned that this juxtaposition of the evil wicked things that were being done by those false teachers, and the outlook of positivity that pour from the end of the chapter is simply a promise of hope. Which, if I’m honest, I need a little hope here, because in our day and age, it seems like all I see are people who are directly going against the words of Jesus to show hatred and to spew awful judgments upon other people. It’s a message of hope, a hope that tells us that we are going to be changed from what we are, to a blessing.

Hope does not come without a cost. There is a cost to this hope. See, before, they were following these false teachers, who were telling them all these things that tickle their ears. They were substituting the things that other “religious leaders” were telling them for finding out for themselves. They were placing trust in another source instead of God. See, to be able to use someone else’s experience of God as a substitute for your own, this means that you’re not actually going to be changed. You’re not actually going to grow. If you’re not willing to do the work of drawing closer to God, then your faith will not be real. So what’s the cost? The cost is, you have to move from a shallow faith based on someone else’s experience of God, to your own. This means, you might have to sacrifice something in favor of time with God. It might be sleep, it might be time away from your TV, it might be a change of where you go, who you frequent your time with. It may be a change of lifestyle. It’s a hard cost. It truly is. It would be far easier for me to just check-in at my church, allow the teachings of my pastor to be truth, and never critically examine or find out for myself. Growth does not come without a cost.

It takes time for God to prevail, so be patient. Just as discipleship or spiritual growth takes time, so does it also take time for God’s way to prevail. Please don’t lose hope! I know currently, it looks pretty bleak. We have a cheeto for a president, we have measures that are trying to seriously take away some important freedoms. We have people worshiping the idea of owning guns over saving lives. We have people saying it’s okay to separate families because they’re of color. We have companies that are more interested in saving money rather than offering health care. The list goes on and on. If I allowed myself, these current times would get me pretty hopeless. If I watched the news, I would see nothing but bad news over and over again. And honestly, it is depressing. But I am told that if I do my best to remain faithful, then I will eventually see God do a great movement. So please, be patient. Just because it takes time, does not mean it won’t be great. Cheesecake takes hours to bake, and it comes out great!

When God prevails, lives will be changed! Whoo! When we look at the text, it describes all of these ways that the nation of Israel will be changed. It says their actions will change from one of war, to one of peace. It says their hearts will receive true teachings. But see, that has been happening along the way….because the lives changed are the fruits of staying faithful until God does prevail. Living a different way of life does not come about overnight, and neither does God’s victory. It comes slowly, and creeps in until you don’t notice it. Little by little, hearts are changed and rearranged, their actions go back to a Holy people. Their interactions go back to being holy interactions. Their love and support of each other, becomes like a family built in love. Families reunited. Guns needed no longer. Government not needed. Money not used. Freedom. Love. Hope. This sounds like a utopia doesn’t it? Man, that’s what heaven’s all about. That’s our eternity! The idea of this thrills me. I don’t know much about heaven, but I cannot wait for God to show up and show out. When God does, it’s amazing! I’ve experienced little tastes of what that looks like. But I’m excited for the full portion.

Evil will continue. The problem we have is not a heart problem. It’s not due to the mental illnesses we have. It’s not due to the lack of empathy. It is the presence of evil. Evil distorts our reality. We were never supposed or intended to live in the presence of evil. God did not design us to have a world where we were surrounded by evil. This evil is a symptom of the disobedience of Adam. And we can’t blame it on him, because we have committed evils ourselves. Whether indirectly or directly, we’ve been privy to evil ourselves. When we experience that day of restoration, and we experience that day of hope, evil will continue to rage and carry on. I don’t know if evil will be destroyed, but I do have this notion that we’ll be experiencing eternity and heaven before it is.


So, you may be asking yourself, what the hell does the introduction to this thing have to do with the stuff I just read?

Good question: Here’s the answer.

In order for this utopia, or heaven to appear to us, and be a reality for us, we have to follow the instructions set out for us in our word. We have to be obedient and faithful, even in the face of false teachers, so that we get to be a part of this utopia. We have to find our way to demonstrate our faithfulness, and we have to find our way to sanctification. Because, after all, that is the will of God for us, that we be sanctified. That is all about becoming more holy. You can’t just float aimlessly about your life, hoping to grasp a nugget of what a teacher has said. You have to actually do the work yourself. You have to read the instructions. You have to think about what you’re doing, and then you have to actually do it. If you don’t, you’ll end up with a mismatched chair that doesn’t function as a kitchen table. It’s hard work, but the work of following Jesus was never promised to be easy. It was never promised to make your life peaceful and la-de-dah. But it’s worth it.





Action Steps: Completed Update

6 08 2019

So I’ve finally completed all of the action steps! See each step below and a short explanation of what happened!

  • Think of something that relaxes you, and go ahead and stock up or arrange for this relaxation evening. Make a list of everything you need to relax, and then go get it.
    Completed: 7/2
    So I went to the wonderful world of Wals, aka Walmart to get this. I had run out of bubble bath and some bath salts. So I went and got these. A few weeks later, I made myself a bath, complete with the salts and bubble bath. The water was warm and it was very nice for me to be able to just relax and take care of myself.
  • Instead of buying your favorite coffee or meal during a week, donate the money to a worthy cause. Completed 7/28
    No need to share this.
  • Think of a person that you care about deeply, but perhaps haven’t shown how you care for them. Do a little research to find some small items that they would like. Put them all in a basket or something and give it to them. Completed 7/28
    Gave flowers, which I consider a completely ridiculous gift, to my girlfriend. She was moved.
  • Go to the movies or get something from Redbox. Turn off your phone, and just sit down and watch the movie. Don’t forget the snacks.
    Completed: 7/5
    Went to see Toy Story 4. Had some popcorn and a drink. Went with some friends, it was very nice. I am Trash!
  • Go get a box of blank cards from the dollar store. Write two thank you cards to people who are in your life. Be specific about what you’re thanking them for. Completed: 7/15
  • As you go past a person who is homeless, stop at the closest fast food place and pick them up a meal and take it to them, or ask them to join you for lunch. Attempted 7/23
    As I drove by someone who had one of those cardboard signs, I decided to stop and get them some food from the resturaunt I was visiting. I came out, and as I stopped at the stop light, rolled my window down, the person I offered it to, cussed me out and refused to take the food. Instead, they demanded money from me. When I handed them the food again, they took and threw it down on the ground and walked away from me.
  • Surprise your significant other one day by doing something that they really appreciate. If you do not have a significant other, do it for your best friend! Completed: 7/2
  • Take one of your blank cards. Is there someone that you need to forgive? Write them a little note, giving them forgiveness. You don’t have to send it, but I do want you to seal it. Allow yourself to let go. Completed: 7/21
    This one was really hard. God really pushed me with this one, but I was able to be obedient. I reached out to this person, and they had no clue what I was talking about. Oh well.
  • One day, go somewhere where you feel immersed in nature. I want you to sit there for 20 minutes, just observing nature. Don’t talk, try not to think, but just be a part of the world around you. Completed: 7/26
    Went on a hike.
  • Make a playlist of songs that are your favorite. In the days to come, when you’ve had a bad day, you will have that playlist to help you. For now, dance it out, free yourself. Have fun!
    Completed: 7/5
    I made a playlist of some PRIDE-friendly songs on Spotify.
  • Go find that book that you’ve had on your list to read for forever. Go ahead and buy it if you don’t already own it. Read it. Completed: 7/13-ish
    Still reading it.
  • Go to Your favorite clothing store. Browse and shop around until you see something that you want. Buy it. Now, wear it out to a restaurant one day when you’re eating alone. Completed: 8/1
    Didn’t I feel spiffy while I ate and read my book???!!!!
  • After dinner, go to the park and walk around some. As you walk, think about all the things you’re thankful for. After your walk, write them down. Completed: 7/25
    I didn’t go after dinner. I went after breakfast and walked down main street, Mount Airy.
  • You know how sometimes you get a thought of somebody running through your head? When they do, send them a card or a text, give them a call. Let them know that you’re thinking of them.
    Completed:7/3 
    Had dinner with a friend that I had been thinking about for awhile. It was a very nice dinner.
  • You know that junk drawer you got at home? Spend some time cleaning it up. Throw away those old ketchup packets, you haven’t used them. Completed: 7/21
    Cleaned out one of my desk drawers. How the heck did it get so cluttered????
  • Go to a new place–some place you’ve never been. Could be a restaurant, a bar, a church. Whatever it is, just go there and experience it. Completed: 7/27
    Went to Painting with a Twist for the first time and I created a painting. It was a lot of fun!




#sundaymessage: Take a Moment

4 08 2019

Go on. Take a moment.

Just breathe. In and out.

Yes, center yourself.

In and out.

I know, the dishes are dirty, tomorrow is Monday, and this week is just gonna be one of those weeks….I know.

Just sit, be here, in this moment.

We are just breathing. In and out. Out and in.

Just sit a moment. Empty your mind, as much as you can. No, don’t get irritated with yourself because you can’t stop thinking about that. Give yourself grace, there’s enough of it to go around.

Breathe. Just enjoy this moment. How nice it feels to sit, and just sit. There is nothing else you need to do right now but sit and think on one fact: God loves you as you are, and not what you think you ought to be.

Did you hear that?

God loves you as you are, and not what you think you ought to be.

God loves you in this exact moment simply because you were made from holy stuff, and you don’t have to do a darned thing but just be in that thought.

I could spend my whole life unpacking that one statement and still not be done.

Just breathe in. And out.

Release yourself of your oughts–things that you think you should be doing, or the things you feel are expected of you. Release that. Don’t do them unless that is the movement God has put in you.

God has no expectations on you, in this moment, other than for you to breathe. In and out, out and in.

God loves you as you are, and not what you think you ought to be.

Because all of the oughts are just busywork if they don’t point you into this moment where you sit, just loving on the fact that you’re loved. And if you’re not careful, you’ll busy yourself so much, you won’t have time to take a moment.

So

Breathe.

Just take a moment.