Category Archives: Church

Enough

I think the new thing to do, at least in blogger circles, is to choose a word for the year, and give the upcoming year a theme.

Personally, I like the idea. I like knowing what my priority for the day is because it is essential when you’re trying to figure out who and what to say “yes” to, and (probably more importantly) what to say “no” to. Coming up with a word for the entire year seemed like a good way to keep the ship (my life) on track.

But I also think the word of the year thing is kind of annoying. It feels like an extension of the trend to literally label all of the things in your house.

Labeled Kitchen Mixing Bowl Set
Seriously, America?

Unfortunately, no words were really calling out to me so I decided to just skip the resolution/word of the year game and focus on simply, ya know, living.

Yesterday I asked Mark what he thought about the idea that God wanted us to try Him. He had made promises to His people and He was more than willing to live up to His end of the deal. We just had to try Him.

It made me think about promises God makes. What does He, for lack of a better word, owe me?

The “right” answer is nothing. I owe Him. Done.

But I think God does want us to have faith in Him and in His ways.

This feels like I’m talking about finances, and in some ways I am, but it’s so much more.

He wants us to try Him when it comes to His promise about forgiveness. We want to hold grudges and punish people. He wants us to try His way, and turn the other cheek.

He wants us to try Him when it comes to pride. We want to make sure everyone recognizes how amazing we are. He wants us to be humble and serve.

He wants us to try Him when it comes to peace. We search everywhere for something to take away the worries and the fear. We drink ourselves to death, become workaholics, save every penny we earn. He wants us to cast our troubles on Him and He’ll give us His peace.

He wants me to try Him when it comes to daily bread. I want to have a fully funded 401k and a year of expenses in the bank before I step out. He wants me to remember that He takes care of me much like a He takes care of a bird. They don’t have retirement accounts.

I think my word for this year is Enough.

God is enough.

My husband and baby are enough to constitute a family. Quit worrying about #2.

The house that has kept us delightfully warm on 5 degree mornings is enough. Quit wanting a bigger one.

The clients that want you to step into their lives and help them see their marriage in a new way are enough. Quit looking for the next one.

The family and friends that fill my life (and heart) up are enough. Quit trying to convince everyone to love you.

I’m handing over the fish and loaves to the One that is Enough because I want to try Him and His ways.

I only run when something is chasing me

There’s a funny e-card that I see on Facebook a lot. It’s the one that says something like, “If I’m running it’s because something is chasing me”. That is me. I don’t run.

(Ha, I found it!)

But I’m thinking that I might run this one time. And not because it will help me get away from something scary. No, it’s because I want to help other women and their children get away from something scary… their abusive homes.

My friend and fellow blogger Sarah works for the YWCA and they have a program called Re-New. Re-New makes old things new again (like Pinterest!) and furnishes transitional housing for women who are deciding to get out of  abusive homes. The idea is to put women in safe and clean homes filled with toiletries, food in the pantry, and decor that takes it from feeling like just a place to sleep to a place where a family can heal.

These families need to know that there is a community behind them that cares. If you live in Middle Tennessee then we are their community. If you are like me and have the blessing of going to a home that is safe and peaceful, I think it would be beautiful for us to give from our bounty to those that are in need of that peace right now.

Families are running for Re-New on October 6th. Let’s join them.

And if you have any kind of network online (a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a blog) a wonderful way for you to help these families, the YWCA, and Re-New is to spread the word about the Run. Tell all of your friends. It matters.

Need help sharing the news? Just copy and paste this as your status (you’re welcome :p):

I believe in fresh starts and stroller runs. Run for Re-New http://www.runforrenew.com/

run for renew

The Gift of Prophecy

Me: Self-fulfilling prophecy. Good thing or bad thing?
Mark: What are you talking about?
Me: You know what a self-fulfilling prophecy is?
Mark: Yes.
Me: Is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Mark: A bad thing?

And that, my friends, is what pillow talk sounds like in our house.

But seriously. If you’ve ever talked about a self-fulfilling prophecy was it about a good thing or a bad thing?

I think we’ve made it a bad thing when really it’s just a neutral thing.

Because when our friend who hasn’t had a job in a year goes on an interview and says “I don’t think I’ll get it” and then she doesn’t we are likely to think “self-fulfilling prophecy”. She probably thought she wouldn’t get the job before she even got up that morning so she didn’t smile as bright or talk herself up enough and who wants to hire someone with a dull smile and no confidence, right? Self-fulfilling prophecy.

Or the friend who thinks his girlfriend is about to break up with him and he sits and frets about it and then a year later he finds out she’s been falling in love with her best friend’s brother and AHA! He was right. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

Most of us would agree that a girl that looks in the mirror every morning and repeats “I’m ugly” will feel ugly and then act ugly and then people will treat her like she’s ugly which will affirm that she is, in fact, ugly. Even if she looks like Angelina Jolie. Or Jennifer Aniston. Self-fulfilling prophecy.

But what about being a positive self-fulfilling prophet?

If you can flood your brain with negative thoughts and have negative outcomes, couldn’t you just as easily flood your brain with positive thoughts and create a positive reality? That doesn’t sit so easily with us, does it? We can accept that we create negative, but can we accept that we are also just as empowered to create positive? Self-fulfilling prophecy.

I realize that there are tons of Christians that I know and love that will accuse me of being New Agey and whatnot. That’s fine, but if you’re taking your Bible seriously you can’t ignore this:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Philippians 4:8

Motivational Monday – Moses & Lupe Fiasco

Question #1
Am I the only one who thinks of Moses when The Show Goes on by Lupe Fiasco comes on 107.5 The River?

Question #2
Am I the only one who still listens to the radio? Specifically 107.5 The River?

Question #3
Does anybody have as much fun as me with Google’s Picnik?

In case your church forgot to tell you…

I don’t know if you are familiar with Manny Pacquiao. He’s a Filipino boxer and he’s pretty good. He’s won the championship title in 4 different weight classes. He’s busting up guys much bigger than him.

I thought of Pacquiao today during church when my pastor reminded us that Christ is victorious. In everything.


Christ is victorious over your depression. Over your loneliness. Over your womb. Over your health. Over your job. Over your insecurity. Over your finances. Over your failing marriage. Over your rebellious children. Over every single fear.


Remember, in the same way that Manny Pacquiao stands over his opponents in a knockout is the exact same way Christ stands over any situation you are struggling against.

So in case your church forgot to tell you… Christ already has the victory.

Lean on Me

It was hot, we were hungry and Mark and I were quickly losing any loving feelings. It was a Grumpy Sunday and a perfect recipe for the following conversation…

Me: I’m tired of waiting on God.

Mark: What do you mean?

Me: I don’t really know. I just feel like I’ve been praying and asking and looking for Him for so long. And nothing is different. Nothing has changed. And I’m getting tired. I want to… I want to quit.

The conversation ended without any answers or resolution because we were home and about to be less hot and more fed so life was bearable again.

The rest of the day consisted of naps and ice cream and trying to get Otis to roll over. Grumpy Sunday was slowly turning into lazy Sunday.

Around 9pm Mark started playing his piano and I was on the floor trying to negotiate a roll out of little man. Usually, when Mark plays or practices he does so with earbuds so that we can’t hear him. That night he played so we could hear.

Me: That’s really pretty.

Mark: If you come over here I’ll sing it to you.

Me: C’mon, Otis. Let’s go listen to Daddy.

I picked Otis up and Mark started singing…

 What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

I was swaying back and forth with Otis in my arms and God opened my eyes to how much He has blessed me. Is blessing me.

I was holding my sweet baby and listening to my husband sing a beautiful song to our Lord. My car doesn’t have air conditioning, I don’t really know where we’ll live next year and we seem at a loss for how Mark can provide for our family through music… and at the same time? We are blessed. Right now. Today.

Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Leaning on the everlasting arms. I looked down at Otis who had his head on my chest, quietly listening to his dad. He wasn’t anxious or freaking out. He was safe and he knew it.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

I realized I wasn’t waiting on God. God was waiting on me. Waiting for me to lean on Him. Waiting for me to recognize that He is who He says He is.

And that’s the story of how Sunday went from grumpy to grateful.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
   and lean not on your own understanding; 
 in all your ways submit to him, 
   and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6

How to behave in church

Dear Otis,

You’ve been out of the womb for two months, Old Man. We hope it’s been as enjoyable for you as it’s been for us.

This Sunday was your very first outside-of-the-womb church visit, and I have to say it went very well.

Well, kind of…

If there is one thing you’ll learn about your mommy it’s that she prefers to be quiet. Especially in church. Only one person gets to speak. And that person is the pastor. So zip it, ok?

Except sometimes it’s really good to be really loud in church. Because church isn’t just about quietly learning how certain words translate into Greek and Hebrew. No, church is also about celebrating who God is and how He’s working every single day.

I know that this Sunday I stuffed pacifiers and bottles into your mouth every time you made a peep. Even the joyful peeps. And I’m sorry for that. Because I want you to know that there are times that knowing and experiencing the love of Christ will make you want to shout or jump or dance around. I want to encourage you, from day one, to shout or jump or dance when you celebrate. Please don’t hide or be ashamed of the joy He puts in your life.

Just to be real, until you can tell me your shouts are for the Lord, I’m going to keep stuffing you with pacifiers and bottles because odds are you’re hungry. But I’m looking forward to the day when you have your own reasons to celebrate our Lord.

Love you so very much,
The Quiet Lady with the Pacifiers and Bottles

I love my mom


The day she dropped me off for kindergarten was terrifying. I didn’t want her to leave. I hated being left. I remember smelling my clothes throughout the day because the faint smell she left behind made feel just a little bit safer.

We watched every beauty pageant that came on tv. Specifically Miss Universe. She’d quiz me on what country I’d compete as, USA or the Philippines, and then have me stand on the coffee table and wave like I’d just won. I pouted to show my disgust, but on the inside I gushed at the attention.

She would make innocent comments about my clothes, appearance, or friends and I would give her the silent treatment for a week. And note in my diary how unfair life was for making me live with such a horrible person. I was 13. And an idiot.

She left me worried voicemails when I would drive an hour and a half back to school and forget to call her to say I’d made it safely to my dorm room. “Marie, call me. I’m worried. You could have been kidnapped and I won’t know because YOU WON’T CALL ME. I love you. You better not be kidnapped”. I would like to formally and publicly apologize for my irresponsible stupidity. I would also like to formally and publicly warn Otis that he better not pull that same crap with me.

Practically every week she shares a story about how she saw God work in a simple, but powerful, way. Then she asks where I am seeing Him work. This is great when I’m following and paying attention to Him, and not so great when I’m struggling to remember the last time I saw my Bible. No matter where I was in my Christian walk she’d remind me that I am a daughter of the King.

This year I’m celebrating the mom I was blessed with and praying that I am able to love Otis even half as well as she loves her kids.

Thank you, Mom. You done good, and I love you.

Can you feel The Burn? And I might be talking about hell…

I don’t have many deep thoughts. I know that surprises you, given the philosophical nature of this blog, but seriously, I’m not the one you go to when you’ve got deep theological questions burning a hole in your head.  Now if you want the ‘entrée’ of all the combo meals at McDonald’s? I’m totally your girl.

This weekend, however, I got to swimming in the deep end of the pool and have these two questions:

1) In the first chapter of Exodus the Pharaoh orders the midwives to kill the Hebrew boys, but the midwives fear God and won’t do it. When Pharaoh asks why they (in my understanding) lie and say that the Hebrew women are too good at giving birth and they don’t get there in time. And God is good to the midwives. Is this not lying? And why is God cool with it? Please feel free to comment if you have some insight into this.

2) My wardrobe consists of only blue jeans right now. Sometimes I feel bad about this because I wear blue jeans all the time to church now. You could tell me the Pope was going to be there on Sunday and I still probably wouldn’t dress up. Unless the Pope wanted to buy me a pair of dressy maternity pants, of course. Then I’d think about it.

Regardless, dressing up for church has been explained to me as being important because it brings honor to God and is presenting your best to our Lord. Got it. But here in the Bible belt you are supposed to go to church on Sunday and Wednesday night. And on Wednesday night it’s typically the exact same format as Sunday morning worship (3 songs and a sermon), but it’s like Casual Friday at work and you could go there in your workout clothes, if you felt so inclined, and no one would bat a lash. And I guess what I’m wondering is, why don’t you have to dress up for Wednesday night church? Should God just be happy you showed up for an extra hour and not expect your best outfit? I’m really just curious.

Anyways.

I share my two “deep thoughts” for the year with my husband on the way to church yesterday…

Me:  Why can’t I go to church in my workout clothes on Sunday? Like, if I was going to The YMCA after Wednesday service I could go in my workout clothes, but if I wanted to workout after Sunday’s service I’d have to bring clothes to change? What is up with that?

Mark: Hmm… you’ve hit on something really interesting…

Let me pause and explain something real quick. My husband is deep thoughts incarnate. He likes to think of the philosophical, theological, and intellectual aspect of everything. Everything. This is awesome in my world because I get to talk about whether farts in the shower truly are stinkier than dry air farts and don’t lose any IQ points because I’m married to that guy over there reading Kierkegaard.

So when he said that I had hit on “something really interesting” I thought I really had said something interesting.

Like, theologically interesting.

Like, “Paul makes the same PROFOUND point in Romans” interesting.

So then I went fishing…

Me:  Really? Interesting, you say. What’s interesting about what I said? (begins arranging my theological peacock feathers)

Mark:   Well, you know how at the gym they have those Cardio Theaters where you can get on treadmills and watch movies at the same time? Why not do the same thing, but with sermons? I bet lots of people would love to get their spiritual exercise at the same time as their physical exercise. It’s a neat idea for a church…

The only profundity that my deep thinker husband could find in me was a Jesus Gym?

Womp, womp, indeed.

Sermons that heal and birth control is easier than labor #reverb10

I told you I was getting tired. Blogging every single day will wear a lady out…

Healing.
What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?
(Author: Leonie Allan)

We had CHURCH yesterday and yesterday’s sermon healed me. All I could think was someone has turned the Jesus faucet on because truth was pouring out. The healing was still a drip-by-drip one and the worship service yesterday was just God’s way of going through this past year and underlining and highlighting and putting exclamation points all over the things He’s been telling me for the past 6 months.

And what is being healed? The narcissism that is eating up my heart. I’m sure more on that will come in a later blog post.

Beyond Avoidance
What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)
(Author: Jake Nickell)

Easy. Refill my birth control prescription.