With election season well upon us, it seems like the right time to talk politics. Specifically, how has the Evangelical church used its platform as a means to change the political landscape and at what cost?
Having grown up in the ’70s and ’80s, we’ve seen the church raise its banner high in an effort to bring salvation to our nation. Now, in the 20-teens we are watching our nation divide over the political and evangelical agendas of so many.
So what does Jesus say? How should we view our politics in light of our faith? Should the two intermix and if so, to what extent?
Join Matt and Brandy as they talk about what they experienced growing up in the era of the political church and how that’s impacted them and those around them.
Jerry McGuire; 1996; Starring Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger; Written and directed by Cameron Crowe; Rated R;
Hi Fidelity; 2000; Starring John Cusack, Jack Black and Iben Hjejle; Story by Nick Hornby; Screenplay by John Cusack, Steve Pink, D.V. DeVincentis and Scott Rosenberg; Directed by Stephen Frears; Rated R
Say Anything; 1989; Starring John Cusack, Ione Skye, John Mahoney; Written and Directed by Cameron Crowe; Rated PG-13
Ecclesiastes 4:12 (NIV) “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend theselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Forbes – Top 10 Traits Women Want in A Husband (May 2010)
Written by Jenna Goudreau, Forbes Staff
10. Good financial prospect
9. Good health
8. Ambition and Industriousness
7. Pleasing disposition
5. Education and Intelligence
4. Desire for home and children
3. Emotional stability and Maturity
2. Dependable character
1. Mutual attraction and Love
“The highest-rate characteristic women seek from men is mutual attraction and love. They no longer look for a man who will provide for them; they want to be in love.”
Important Traits (as we see it): 1. Mutual respect
* Informs how you argue or disagree with your spouse and seeing your spouse as a whole person 2. Being equally yoked
* 2 Corinthians 6:14 (NIV) “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
* Also, informs how you approach dating
* Forms a solid foundation for a relationship that will last 3. Internal qualities/ character
* Forming a solid friendship
* Physical attraction grows as the relationship grows 4. Sharing common interests (Mostly, this is a good place or way to find someone you might be compatible with. It isn’t necessary, but very helpful!) 5. Integrity
*Are you the same when we’re alone as when we’re in a crowd? Can your word be trusted?
A TV Show that you really ought to stream: (in Brandy’s opinion)
21 Jump Street; 1987-1991; Starring Johnny Depp, Peter DeLuise, Holly Robinson, Steve Williams; Created by Patrick Hasburgh and Stephen J. Cannell; 20th Century Fox Television
Scriptures: The story of David and Michal:(We have a few corrections here.)
1 Samuel 18:17-30. The passage actually says that Michal loved David, though there is no indication that he returns the love. Saul, however was using this proposed marriage as a means to destroy David.
1 Samuel 19:11-17. Here, Michal actually saves David from her father’s hand by helping him to escape and go into hiding.
2 Samuel 6. David bringing the Ark of the Covenant into Jerusalem and Michal’s response, specifically verses 14-23.
“…it’s not gonna be easy. It’s gonna be really hard. We’re gonna have to work at this every day, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever. You and me, every day.” – The Notebook
Alright, be honest. How many of you had a list, like I did, when you were in your early teen years highlighting some of the qualities that you were looking for in the “perfect” person? Come on…I said be honest. No shame, here.
Some of the qualities that I looked for: Cute (of course), funny, smart, athletic build, liked theater, liked to read, tall but not too tall (I’m only 5′ 0″ if I round up), likes my family, drives a cool car, Christian. Cute, smart and funny were definitely the most important to me. Mind you, this is not always the type of boy I dated. There were a couple that made rocks seem pretty smart, but they were really cute, so….
Needless to say, this approach to finding Mr. Right didn’t really work too well. And yet, I somehow managed to land him. (I chalk that up to God looking out for me.) But here we are, Mr. Right and Me, approaching our 23rd year of marriage and as we reflect on what makes a relationship that can go the distance, we thought we’d share those insights with you, our friends.
In no particular order:
Here’s a good way to assess if the person you’re dating is going to be a jerk or not: Go to a restaurant and order something complicated. When it comes to the table let your date know that it isn’t how you ordered it. Don’t make a big deal out of it…just wait and see how they respond. If their response is, “Oh, no. Should we send it back?” and then they follow your desire, congratulations! You’ve found a nice person. If, however, they make a big deal about it, ranting about lousy service or belittling the wait staff, puffing their chest out or making bold declarations about customer service, excuse yourself to the restroom and “peace out.” Call a friend or an Uber and treat yourself to a pint of Ben and Jerry’s – you just survived a monster.
Seriously, respect is kind of a big deal. If you have a partner who calls you names or makes threats of separation or self-harm every time there is conflict, you’re in for a lifetime of pain and suffering. I’m not being dramatic. Your needs and desires, your values and feelings are important and deserve to be respected. It is possible to disagree with someone and still show respect.
2. Be Equally Yoked
Yup…I said it. I hated this concept when I was a dating person. I thought it was dumb. I just wanted to have fun. Guess what? If you’re trying to live a Christian life and your partner isn’t, it isn’t very fun at all. It’s really pretty hard.
You see, the way you see God informs everything you do. If your world-view doesn’t include God as a major player, your approach to sexual temptation, finances, even having children may be very different. It’s not always something that you see in those early dating days, but when those conflicts arise (as they are prone to do in a marriage), the differences you have in your approach to the world will become apparent and could potentially put a serious wedge between you and your spouse.
Nip it in the bud from the start – marry someone who’s faith you share.
3. Be friends
Life is hard, right? I think we can all agree on that. And isn’t it also true that when you’re going through a bad time in life, it’s just easier when you have a friend by your side? The world just seems a little bit safer when you have a friend to share it with.
Now, I know it’s easy to assume that if you marry someone you must be friends with them. That’s not necessarily true. Haven’t we all seen that couple at the restaurant that doesn’t even look at each other over the course of a full meal, much less talk?
Admittedly, it’s possible they are in the midst of a crisis which may well inhibit a jovial conversation, but I think more often than not, it’s just a couple that lost touch with each other along the way.
Stay connected. Engage in dialogue. Share your hopes and fears, your regrets and victories. Celebrate the little milestones. Pray for and with each other.
Your friendship may well be the one thing that keeps you married when everything else comes crashing down. It was for us, anyway.
4. Share Common Interests
This relates to being friends. Go do fun things together. Hike, watch movies, go to the museum, race cars, play in a band. Whatever floats your boat…. The point is, sharing common interests keeps us engaged with each other.
That being said, I think it’s equally important to have things that you can do apart from each other. Your partner or spouse can’t be expected to fill your every need for companionship, but having a few things that you enjoy together can keep your relationship grounded when it feels like the world is trying to tear you apart.
This is also a great way to meet your future Mr. or Mrs. if you’re currently dating. I found my true love doing high school theater. You never know where they may be, but if you meet while doing something you both enjoy, it’s a really great start to building a beautiful friendship.
5. Have Integrity
Here’s a chance to do some honest self-reflection: Are you the same at church as you are at work? Does your behavior and words in the ‘real world’ match what people see any given Sunday? Is your word reliable? Can you be trusted to do what you say will?
Let me put this out there – this is a hard one for me. As a kid I learned early on how to adapt to any environment in order to fit in. This worked great for me socially, but it wrecked me personally because I lost my internal compass that kept me pointed toward the God I loved. I’ve had to learn the hard way what integrity does and does not look like.
Here’s the thing, if you can be trusted to be the same person in a crowd of thousands as you are for an audience of one, that’s integrity. It builds trust. It inspires honesty. It grows love.
Those are the five qualities that every strong, go-the-distance marriage I personally know has. There might be others. There are certainly other characteristics that will be beneficial, but as Matt and I talked about in this episode, these are really the main ones. It’s no guarantee that it will all be smooth sailing, but I honestly believe that if you start with this foundation, the life you build will indeed stand the test of time.
P.S. The photo is of my great grandmother and great grandfather, Mabel and George Morris. They were married in 1924 and remained so until 1957 when George died. They had three children, Norma Jean, Lila Lee (my grandmother), and Bill. They loved going dancing, baseball and spending time with family.
Here we are, gang! Episode 1 is published and available for your ear-holes. I’m still working out all the details…you know, like where it’s available and all that good stuff, but hang with me. Any minute now this is going to be super professional! In the meantime, you get lil’ ol’ messy us…full of flaws, but oh, so much charm.
Also, it’s entirely possible that I get the name of our podcast wrong for the first several episodes! Remember that charm I was talking about?
As an introduction to the podcast, Matt and Brandy share a little bit of their backgrounds beginning with what led each of them to the Lord. From there they share a bit about their dating and early adult years.
They also share some of the subjects they hope to cover in upcoming episodes including marriage, parenting, codependency, recovery, current events and letters from listeners. Finally, they share how they came up with the name of the podcast (which has gone through several iterations (which is why I maybe say it wrong for a few episodes).
I see Your face in every sunrise
the colors of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
– Phil Wickham
Yesterday at church, a friend approached me and asked how my week had been. She and I have both been on the road to recovery in our hearts, minds and souls and we’ve got an agreement to always be real with each other. Apparently my pause was a beat too long because she looked me in the eye and said, “Honesty.”
To which, I paused longer and finally said, “I don’t think I remember.”
Sunday morning and I couldn’t even remember how the previous few days had gone. I’ve been busy and productive but not frantic. It was a week like most others, full of driving my daughter to her dance lessons, writing and recording and making music with my friends. Laundry and dishes were done, the pets were cared for and played with. It was not exceptional in any regard.
And in retrospect, that kind of makes me sad.
I know that not every day, or even every week can have a mountaintop experience. There are going to be those average days, where everything maintains the status quo and I suppose that’s alright, but…
Here’s what I wrestle with: as a follower of Christ, shouldn’t every day have a depth or a richness to it that maybe other people just don’t quite get to experience? If we have a relationship with the Creator of All, the King of Kings, the Savior of the world, shouldn’t life be a bit more…profound?
Consider this: every day the sun rises and the sun sets. Birds wake to sing their songs. The ocean waves roar and pound, shifting the earth below. Babies take their first breaths while others take their last. Every day the sound of laughter escapes and is carried off on the winds. There is a world out there that is constantly changing and we are a part of it.
Today, we woke up. You and me. We’ve been given another chance to share our hearts, our lives, our joys, our sorrows with others. God said to us, “You’ve got today, kid. Go make the most of it.” and I think, in that exhortation, there is also the invitation to see His wonder. We’ve got a front-row seat to not only see and experience God’s goodness, but to recognize it as such.
But do we? If I’m honest, the answer – more often than not – is, no. I tend to go through my days in an almost numb state. It’s the same routine. It’s the same household chores. It’s the same old news. Every. Single. Day.
And I tend to get sucked in to thinking very little about the magnificent, miraculous world that God has created and allows me to live in. What an incredible honor we have been given.
So here’s my bit of advice – to all of us:
Take note. Eyes up. Look for God. He’s everywhere. In the face of the old man standing on the street corner with a battered cardboard sign. In the grip of a newborn babe’s tiny hand as she clings to your pinky. In the clouds as they dance across the skies. And in the sound of the voice saying “I love you.”
Do you all remember the song, “Looking for Love (In All the Wrong Places)” by Johnny Lee? Probably not, if you’re younger than 40, but it’s likely that you’ve heard the phrase, none-the-less. I remember crooning that song in my childhood, not understanding any of the lyrics until I was a little older.
That being said, here I am, in my mid-40’s now and that phrase is running through my mind, but not for reasons you might expect. You see, a weird thing happened this week.
Let me back up…
So…I’m a Christian. I think that’s pretty well established. But here’s something you probably didn’t know about me – I dig true crime. Now, before you gasp, let me assure you – I do not endorse or support crime of any kind. But, man…give me a good, old fashioned, real-life ‘who-dun-it’ and I’m hooked. I like to consider the psychology of a killer. What makes them tick? Is it nature or nurture? (The answer, by the way – Both.) I like to think about how I would respond if I were ever in a life or death situation because I think it’s important to be prepared and aware that bad things happen to good people.
Likewise, I recognize that we are all just one choice away from becoming the very thing we hate or fear. There, but the grace of God, go I.
So, now that you know that part of me dear reader, it may not come as a surprise that I also listen to true crime podcasts. True crime, it turns out, is kind of a hot topic right now. I’m not entirely sure why it’s become the thing that everyone wants to listen to, but there you have it. Needless to say, there are at least a billion podcasts on the subject right now.
There is one in particular that has been around for a while that I really enjoy. Mind you, the subject matter isn’t especially light and fluffy and, to be sure, the women who host it aren’t exactly reverential. Sometimes their fans get a little…over exuberant, in my opinion, but it’s in this ‘fandom’ that the weird thing happened. And it makes me so happy.
A woman in the fandom decided to create a Facebook group that is for both fans of the podcast and also Christian. Within the first day over 500 people had joined this subgroup. Immediately, people began sharing who they are. We introduced ourselves, like we were members of a 12-step program. “Hi, I’m Brandy. I’m a Christian and I like true crime.” “Hi, Brandy!” It was weird – truly.
But also super cool because just as quickly, people began sharing their prayer needs or praising God for amazing things He’d recently done in their lives. A university student asked if anyone had any good suggestions for Bible study materials for the student on the go. People were praying for each other. Literally. Friendships were formed.
It’s become my favorite thing on Facebook right now, especially in light of all the political turmoil that’s consumed us the past year and a half. Here, on this platform that is so full of either vitriol or shallow memes, there has grown this little group of like-minded people from all over the world that can just as easily talk about the latest tragedy that’s struck their hometown (and ask for prayers over it) as they will praise God because He proved faithful again.
It’s an unlikely place to find a safe corner, is it not, in the middle of a bunch of people who like true crime?
I don’t know where your circumstance find you, friend. Maybe you’re in a job that is dragging you down, surrounded by people who seemingly only care about the bottom line and not a lick about your soul. Maybe you’re a student in an environment that is hostile and runs rampant with the minimization of sin. Or maybe you’re like me, a stay at home mom who’s social life is lived mostly online because that’s just the season of life you’re in right now. But let this encourage you – wherever you are, whatever you do and with whomever is beside you, you have the ability to be a bright light.
Go ahead, reach out to our cubicle mate and share a bit of yourself with them. I bet they feel a little lost in the shuffle, too. Start a conversation with that girl in your Science Lab who always wears the best nerd shirts. Chances are she’s got a great sense of humor. When your “friend” on social media posts something about needing prayer, take the time to actually write your prayer out right then. Trust me, even if they don’t believe in the power of prayer, if they’re asking you to do it and then you do…they will thank you.
Or hey…find a group of people who like something you like and find out how many of them also love Jesus. You may just be surprised. Friends can be found in the unlikeliest of place, it seems.
Here it is, the greatest commandment all summed up: Love God. Love people.
Well, that seems pretty simple. It almost seems passive, really. Like, you just have to have good feelings towards God and people, right?
Well, that’s how I’ve been approaching it more or less and today as I was doing the dishes, griping in my mind about how I seem to be the only one in our home that ever does anything to support the everyday running of our home, including all the times this past week that I’ve cleaned up after the newest member of our household, a very cute and sweet puppy named Milo, suddenly and without warning, God did what He seems to do expertly with me. He sucker-punched me. In the head.
It went like this:
Me: (scrubbing aggressively on a poor, unassuming plate that had done nothing wrong, and in fact, had done it’s job and done it well by holding the food I’d made for last night’s dinner…) Ugh! I just…. I mean…. Why do I have to always…? Ya know, God, it’s just not right! (Continues to scrub overly hard on successive dishes while slamming them into the dishwasher, meanwhile huffing and puffing about how messy our home is, how no one else seems to even see the mess, much less clean it, and about how completely unfair my overwhelmed life is).
God: (Calm, cool and collected in his best James Earl Jones impression) In all that you do, do it unto the Lord. That’s me.
Me: (Stops cold.) Yes, but the dishes, God?
God: Imagine that I’m coming over for a visit. Oh, look. I’m already here.
Like I said, sucker-punched. By God.
So what in the world does this have to do with loving God and loving people? Well, my friends, everything.
We love God as we obey. We love Him as we hear and respond to His voice (even if it’s in the form of a weird James Earl Jones type thing). We love Him by serving…people.
We love people by giving our time and energies to meet their needs. We love them by listening when they need to bend our ear even though we’ve got places to go, people to see and laundry to fold. We love them by being present. We love them best when we sacrifice our own agenda to meet them where they are, the very same way Jesus did as He carried that cross and felt the separation from His Father so that we could know His presence.
You see, I am not especially happy to be in our kitchen. I’ve never been a big cook and honestly, the more you cook the more dishes you have to wash. It seems like a lose/lose proposition to me. It turns out, though, my kids kind of like to eat. And they prefer when they don’t have to fend for themselves, settling on Top Ramen…again.
So I did it. I finished washing the dishes I had left. I washed the countertops and the kitchen didn’t look half-bad. Less than an hour later, though, it was time to create the dinner mess. And I did that, too. It wasn’t fancy…unless you call adding mashed bananas and yummy flavors to pancake mix fancy (in which case, I may be the greatest chef ever). We sat at the table, ate our syrup-drenched discs of goodness and chatted. I don’t think any of us even remember the conversation and that’s okay. The fact is, we had it.
God showed up when and where I needed to hear him – in the middle of my messy kitchen. And, at least this time, I responded to His voice out of obedient love which enabled me to turn around and love the people I am with. Because, let’s face it, sometimes the hardest people to love are the ones you share a roof with. But here’s some good news: if you can love them, you can love other people, too.
And that’s all we’re called to do, friends: Love God. Love People. So, go forth and love.
*Authors Note: The above account is entirely true, except the whole part about nobody else ever doing anything to help. The author would like to state that her frustrated state of mind likely led her to voice thoughts that were not entirely true. Though, Milo the puppy does not seem to be at all interested in making the housework any easier.
“I will meditate on Your precepts and regard Your ways.
I shall delight in Your statutes;
I shall not forget Your word.”
– Psalm 119:15-16
It’s safe to say we live in difficult times. No matter what side of the political fence you land on, no matter your socio-economic background, race, religion, gender or favorite ice cream flavor, it is clear that we are a nation in upheaval.
Because of all the turmoil that not only surrounds us but punches us in the face on a fairly consistent basis (anybody else suffering from a mild case of Facebook PTSD?), it’s the perfect time for us, as Christ followers, to keep a few things in perspective.
I admit that I’ve definitely voiced my own opinions on social media. Opinions that sometimes counter people I love deeply and admire greatly. I’ve felt my heart harden a little and heard a voice of judgement and condemnation, if not actually being spoken, certainly in my head. When I step back for a moment and take the time to self reflect, it’s pretty plain to see that I could easily become a part of the problem, and maybe already have.
So how do we counter this? How do we keep overwhelm and anxiety from taking over our minds, preventing us from being effective and joy-filled disciples of God?
I think the answer is pretty simple. Meditate on God’s word. Always.
Hey, I said the answer was simple. I didn’t say it was easy.
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, and maybe even if you haven’t, what’s the first Bible verse or passage that comes to mind when you think of someone dying? I’d wager it’s Psalm 23, yeah? ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…. Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me.’
Why is that the scripture we all think of? Because it’s the one we’ve heard time and again in that set of circumstances. Whether you’re standing bedside, keeping vigil over a loved one as they breathe their last breath or you’re standing graveside saying your final goodbye to their earthly presence, these are often the verses that are recited. They resonate with us. They remind us that our days are held in the hands of God.
Similarly, how quickly can most of us recite John 3:16? ‘For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son. That whosever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.’
Again, it’s written on our hearts because we’ve heard it so many times.
As we read and re-read scripture, as we hear it taught and as we apply it to our own lives, it grows in depth. It begins to penetrate in places that are secret, so that when our hearts begin to tremble because we hear of wars and rumors of wars we are reminded to ‘Be strong and courageous’ because the Lord will not forsake us (Deut. 31:6) and that ‘The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent’ (Ex. 14:14). Or, as we find ourselves struggling with the things of this world that strive to collapse us, we are reminded of Paul’s exhortation to the church in Galatia, “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary” (Gal. 6:9).
It’s important – vital – that God’s word be so etched into our hearts that if owning a copy of scripture should ever become a crime, we will not be shaken because His teaching is inextricably woven into the very core of who we are. Even if that possibility never comes to pass on American soil, and I pray it won’t, how much better off are we when we can call upon the word of God at a moments notice without having to flip to the concordance or hope the Wi-Fi connection is strong enough to access an app?
I want to know what God has to say. I want to know His heart. I want to be so in tune with His word that I always have a scripture at the tip of my lips.
I’m not there yet. But I’m closer today than I was a year ago. Walking with God is a journey of a thousand little steps. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. There is sweet reward in deepening this relationship with the One who made me and knows me best. In the words of David, the man after God’s own heart, let us “taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed [are we] who take refuge in Him!” (Ps. 34:8).
My life is littered with journals. Seriously…it’s kind of ridiculous.
A Love is Born
It started when I was about 10 and was given, as so many young girls are, my first diary. It was hard bound and featured Hello Kitty on the cover, in the classic red and white motif. I loved Hello Kitty, so I loved this diary. I wrote down everything: who I loved, who I hated, what horrible things my parents were making me do (the dishes…I mean, really!), the teachers I believed were secretly witches and those I adored. My diary held all my secrets, fears and hopes.
As well as the journals and diaries I’ve kept over the years I am also lucky enough to be the caregiver of the journals of both my grandmother and great-grandmother, both of whom were prolific writers and lovers of words.
But what is it that compels us to capture our lives in this way? What prompts us to put pen to paper and write down our hopes and dreams, fears, failures and deepest longings of the heart? We inscribe these knowing that one day they may well be reviewed by the very people we have written about. So why do we do it? And why should we?
A History Captured
Personally, I find it fascinating to read historical diaries. Looking at what the pioneer women wrote as they crossed the plains, as they buried their loved ones alongside the trail, as their cattle was stolen and their prized possessions were discarded to save weight as they climbed mountains and crossed rivers gives us a glimpse into the hardships they endured. My own great, great grandmother crossed the plains in 1851 as a young girl and wrote about one particular time that was especially harrowing, where-in a young man in their wagon train ‘jokingly’ sold one of the girls to an Indian chief they had crossed paths with. Needless to say, this joke ended horribly, with men on both sides dying and the pioneers having to abandon half of their possessions because they’d lost so much cattle in the showdown. She goes into great detail and as I read her account of it all, I am transported to that time and place and can almost taste the dust in my own mouth and feel the fear they experienced as arrows began to fly, guns were drawn and wagons were set on fire.
This account would be lost in our family history had Kate decided it wasn’t worth writing down for posterity sake. Fortunately for us, she took the time to write about this and other events, giving us a connection to her experience as a young woman over 150 years ago.
A Spiritual Legacy
Likewise, if we look to scripture we see something of a diary there too, when we read the Gospels or Paul’s letters to the many churches throughout the east. Consider what we would be missing had his disciples not written accounts of the events preceding Jesus’ arrest. We wouldn’t know of the emotional anguish that he suffered as he cried out for God, pleading for another way for man to be brought to salvation, a way that didn’t involve his torture and death and separation from his Father. We wouldn’t know of Jesus’ proclamation to Peter that he would deny Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. We wouldn’t see the look of pain on Jesus’ face as that third denial was made and Peter cried out, “Man, I do not know what you are talking about! (Luke 22:60)”
We each have a different journey. The twelve disciples who were with Jesus day in and day out for three years all had a slightly different perspective of the events they were a part of. They each had a different relationship with Jesus because they each came to him with different experiences and desires and fears.
So we, too come to Christ. Each of us are different. We’ve got different upbringings and life experiences that shape how we perceive the world and our place in it. As we take note of the ways and times that God has met us individually in our needs, whether they be physical, emotional or spiritual, we begin to see how uniquely God approaches us. We realize that we are not cookies cut from the same form by a cookie-cutter God, but that we are uniquely and wonderfully made, being molded by God’s very hand.
Writing down our journey allows those who will come behind us to see the transformative power of God. Listen, nine years ago, my life was mess. It looked nothing like it looks now. The one thing that changed is my willingness to submit to God. Be sure, I am still a mess, but that mess looks a lot different than it used to. It’s a benefit to me to be able to look back at where I was, to remember what my pit of destruction looked like, and how God lifted me from that pit and set my feet on solid ground. It’s a lot like the memorials that the Israelites would erect whenever God did some thing that they wanted to be reminded of. Journals are a marker of sorts; this is where you were and this is where you are.
We can see God’s faithfulness in our lives only as we look back. We see the countless times he has proven himself trustworthy and compassionate. Without writing these markers down, we have a tendency to forget just what he’s brought us through.
Additionally, in the same way I treasure looking back over the written accounts of my ancestors in order to gain perspective on the lives they lived and the legacy they left behind, I hope that my children’s offspring will be able to look at my journals and see a life that was transformed by a loving and gracious God who knows me intimately and personally. I want them to see that while I struggled regularly with sin and worry, ultimately I have lived a life at the feet of Jesus.
Who Tells Your Story?
We each have a story that is uniquely our own. When we’re gone, that story will shared with those we leave behind. If we take the time now to journal, to write about the thoughts that consume us, the faith that frees us and the God we love, we leave behind a marker for the next generations to see and be reminded of our faithful God. It’s up to each of us to erect that memorial and we do it one word at a time.
I’ve been thinking a lot about intentionality lately.
There are so many areas of my life that end up getting the ‘left-overs’ of my time, thoughts and action. I think some of that has to be with being a stay at home parent. It’s easy to get sucked into reactionary living – preparing meals when kids are hungry, driving everyone to their classes and activities, comforting a broken heart and helping to navigate a child through the difficult teen years. Not to mention breaking up fights, disciplining sass and saying ‘No’ to a toddler more times in a day than even seems possible.
I also tend to be highly gifted at the art of procrastination. I am currently writing this in the library with my daughter across the table working on her school. This is the first day we decided coming to the library might be a good place to do our work, as we’re both prone to distraction. I’ve been ‘meaning’ to write for days, yet there is always something that demands my time and attention. Sometimes that thing is Netflix, but that’s another topic for another day.
Needless to say, unless I am FOCUSED, DISCIPLINED and INTENTIONAL even basic things like laundry and dishes end up getting piled high before I think to do them. It needs to hit a critical ‘we-have-no-clean-underwear-or-spoons’ level before something will get done.
Now, I’m sure there are a bunch of pyschological things going on inside my brain that keep me stuck in this cylce of procrastination – anxiety, depression, fear of failure, fear of success, laziness, overly ambititous to the point of ineffectiveness – I’m sure it’s in there somewhere. What I KNOW though, is that I’m not alone. I have heard the word ‘intentional’ tossed around for the past several years. Clearly there are other people wrestling with how best to use their time to make the most of the life they’ve been given.
Recently I’ve begun the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. I exercise daily, eat more whole foods and am drinking water…at least I’m trying to, but let’s be honest, the siren song of coffee is real and I am captivated by it. I’ve also started writing out a routine for household chores. One would think that 20+ years of marriage would mean I’d have that figured out by now, but it seems that every new season of life uproots whatever system I’ve incorporated and now I find myself back at square one.
But the intentionality that I most want to pursue, that of a deeper relationship with God, seems to somehow elude me.
What does it mean to be intentionally relational with God? Is it daily Bible reading and prayer? Is it journaling? Is it volunteering my time at a shelter or in the church nursery? Is it weekly Bible studies or fellowship groups?
I think it’s all of those things and more. Honestly, if I evaluate my life, I’m doing most of those things on a fairly regular basis. I’m plugged in at church, both in serving and with small groups. I read the word and pray daily (honestly, the reading isn’t quite that consistent, but close). I have friends that call my bluff and don’t let me get away with things. And yet…
I still feel like something’s missing.
Listen, this is a journey, I know. That’s the nature of relationships – they are ever-changing and growing. I just don’t want to get stagnant or complacent in my pursuit of God. I want to know Him more. I want to hear His voice more clearly and see the works of His hands more evidently in and through me. I want to be ever-awed by His amazing grace, weak at the knees when I think how far He’s brought me and how far we still have to go. I want more.
Maybe that’s the first step of being intentional. Just the simple desire for more – more order in your life, more energy for your body, more depth in a relationship.
I’m going to spend some time over the next several months exploring this idea. I really don’t have any answers or insight right now, just a desire to invite you on the journey with me. What do you do as an intentional pursuit of God? What areas do you think you need to grow in (reading, prayer, fellowship, giving, etc)?
As for me, I am wanting to incorporate other spiritual disciplines into my life, beyond reading the Bible through and praying. I want to have a solitude retreat, to fast, to memorize scripture and hide it in my heart. I want to use my artistic bent to journal my walk with God.
I’ll definately come back to this topic again and give y’all an update. In the meantime, drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts. I’m open to suggestions if you have any spritiual disciplines you practice that have been beneficial to you. Also, why not lift each other up in prayer?
After all, we’re all on this road home together. -Brandy