Thursday, August 19, 2010


I like birds.  Well, I don’t actually like them; I like to watch them…from a safe distance of course.  My wonderful husband just built me an amazing patio covering, so it makes sitting outside in the Texas heat during the mornings a little more bearable.

I love to sit outside in the morning, drink a jumbo – sized cup of coffee, read the Bible, and listen to the sounds of the birds chirping and the water trickling in our fountain.  The songs of the different birds intrigue me.  Label me a nerd if you like, but one morning I was so intrigued that I looked up the songs of all kinds of species of birds so that I would be able to identify them in my backyard.  I try to get bird food that will attract my favorite birds (which of course are Blue Jays and Cardinals).  I also get special feeders; I want them to have an easy time eating in my backyard so that they will keep coming back.

I say I love birds, but you have to remember; I only love them from a distance.  If at any moment a bird got a crazy feather and decided to swoop in and perch on my foot as I’m reclining, reading my Bible and sipping my coffee; I would be totally freaked out.
Something would have to change!  Either I’m moving, or the bird is going to die – I don’t want to be that close.  It’s gross really.  Birds carry diseases.  They’re dirty.  They look disgusting up close.  I don’t want to be close to a bird.

When birds are far away, I can marvel at their beauty.  I can listen to their songs and pretend I know what they’re singing about; all the while enjoying my “safe” distance while I “safely” pursue God.  Then, this morning, I got this crazy idea.  What if the way I love birds is the way the church loves unchurched people.  I think it is sometimes.

We say we love them, but do we really?  Maybe we study their language and culture.  Maybe we find out what their interested in and where they hang out.  Maybe we even read lots of books about them…oooooh.  Maybe we try to create an environment that will attract them, make them comfortable even…but what happens when they show up?  Do we welcome them to sit down with us, do we invite them into the “safety” of our lives; or do we become afraid?  Do we become so afraid of the grossness of their sin that we feel the urge to just get away?  Or do we look into the heart of the person and see the beautiful masterpiece that God created.

God loves birds; it’s in the Bible, He cares for them.  He loves people more.  He loves people more.  He loves people.  He loves.

That’s not a typo.  I want to remember that love.  And, I want to live that love.  And, I want that love to overflow in everything I do.

Lord, don’t let me barricade myself up only in the practice of reading Your Word.  Help me live it, please.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Jesus is a...Republican?

Christians can't be democrats....whaaat? Tell me, you've heard it before. I have. Actually, I probably believed that when I was younger (hey, kids are moldable!) My sister always tells a story of how I balled my eyes out when Bill Clinton won the Presidency over George H.W. Bush in 1992...I was only 7 and I was sure the world was going to end.

I want to tell you, this blog is not meant to push the agenda of any political party and it is not meant to encourage being apolitical; I believe that the right to vote is an amazing honor and the duty of every American. And, if anyone loves politics, it's me. I watch FOXNews so much that it makes my husband sick (and it probably makes some of my anti-FOX buddies sick too, but what can I say? I love Megyn Kelly!) I used to be totally obsessed with politics (I mean come on, I balled my eyes out at 7 because Bush lost); I wanted to be a Senator so bad, but thankfully my life has taken me on a different path. I'm stressed out enough as it is; I can't imagine how uptight I would be living my life in the political realm! However, over the past couple of years I've been on this journey; trying to decide whether I hold my beliefs because they really are what I believe, or because they are what I've always been told to believe. And, more importantly, do my beliefs echo God's heart or my own selfish agenda and insecurities?

Today, I read something really interesting in a great book called, "unChristian." The writer said, "It is a huge mistake to become married to an ideology, because the greatest enemy of the gospel is ideology. Ideology is a man-made format of how the world ought to work, and Christians instead believe in the revealed truth of Scripture." That is a pretty powerful statement, and I had to chew on it for a while before it really started to sink in for me.

But here's the deal, Christians and the Republican party often go hand in hand. I'll admit, I often vote Republican but it's not because I'm a values voter, it's because I enjoy small government and freedom. Whether I vote Republican or Democrat is not the point of this blog though. What a waste of time that would be! The point is that, so often I have experienced people that vote all Republican just because they believe that is the party that Jesus affiliates Himself with. "Republicans are pro-life, anti-gay marriage, and strong on homeland security. That's what Jesus stood for and I do too!" That seems to be the mentality of a lot of people, and hopefully I won't burst any bubbles here...but Jesus was not a Republican!

The New Testament speaks of religious leaders of Jesus' day trying to corner Him into a trap, forcing Him to take a political stance (Matthew 22:15 - 22). They asked Him, "is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" Jesus saw through their hypocrisy, avoided the trap, and told them "Give to Caesar what is his, and give to God what is His." Jesus was making the point that we have dual citizenship; as Christians, we are citizens of the Kingdom of God, but we are also citizens of the Kingdom of the World. Trying to combine these two kingdoms has always been a struggle, and I believe, too often Christianity has fallen into the trap of trying to use politics to enforce it's agenda. You see, I think it's impossible to use politics to promote God's agenda fully, because I think that by doing so, we try to squish God into a political party that suits our tastes. Doesn't that limit Him?

I think Jannah Scott says it best, "We are quick to teach about judgment, self-righteousness, and our perception of holiness, but we often leave out the kingdom principles of love, compassion, justice, and the sovereignty of Christ in shaping our political affairs." So, by teaching our own political traditions, instead of the true way of Jesus, we become the "enforcer, judge, and jury" toward the "sinful" lives of others and it becomes all too easy for us to forget that everyone is rescued by grace. Jannah Scott also said that there is a God, "a loving, compassionate, merciful Grace who did not try to legislate the hell out of us nor give us what we deserved, but who gave us his Son as a substitute," to rescue us from our sins!

So I guess the point of all of this babbling is that I have come to the conclusion that it is a disservice when the Christian community tries to force political methods and mindsets on issues. I really believe that we become like the Pharisees (the very people that rejected Jesus!) when we put too much focus on issues and in the process, forget about people. So as for me, I will remember that I am committed to a Holy God, that is set apart and above everything else and because of that, my commitment to Him will sometimes require me to take controversial stands that could be unpopular with the majority of America. But I will also be confident in the fact that the Holy God that I am fully committed to, is also an unbelievably loving God of mercy and grace. He loves everyone equally, regardless of their race, gender, sexual orientation, or political affiliation! I don't want to be a person that preaches about God's judgment but overlooks His grace. I don't want to be known by what I am against rather than what I am for. And when I vote, I want to vote for the person that best represents the views of Jesus, not just the person that is affiliated with the "Christian party."

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Valentine to My High School Girlfriends

Life is fast. It happens constantly and moments are easy to forget. There is so much that I want to remember but I am finding that as time passes, the memories fade. I never want to forget the impact my friends from high school made on my life.

Sometimes I desperately miss their closeness. God completely blessed me with amazingly, wonderful people to grow up with. We were so close; they knew me better than anyone (and still do today in some cases). We had so much fun and experienced so much together. It’s been more than five years since I graduated high school. Where has the time gone? I know I’m not old yet, but sometimes I feel like I am. It’s getting harder for me to remember the times we shared together and distance is growing between us.

I’m still close with my high school friends, but I do miss them. I don’t want to forget the slumber parties, the sports games and trips, vacations, birthdays, secrets, moments with God. I don’t want to forget about the “Best Friends Forever Club” (of which I QUIT!), Mere Images (we could have been the next Spice Girls, it’s really unfortunate it didn’t work out!), singing Michael Jackson songs in the drainage tunnel behind my house, or playing football on the playground in elementary. I don’t want to forget about all those Weird Al Yankovich wannabe songs that I used to write with Lacy, or the wrestling matches we used to put on during gym (ya know the ones where the real fight actually broke out between Nicole and Holly!?) I don’t want to forget about that football season that I suffered through being the school mascot or that awful Spanish video that we made and the fun we had making it. I don’t want to forget all the team meals during softball playoff season or crying in the outfield with you our senior year because we knew we were about to lose to stinkin’ Weimar again! I don’t want to forget or lose the comforting feeling of an ear to listen and a shoulder to cry on…no matter how cliché that may sound!

Together we experienced life and death, triumph and tragedy. We witnessed the power of Jesus and prayer together…though sadly some of us have forgotten. We made mistakes, we lived, and we’re learning. We were friends when we lost our virginity and we confided in each other. When our parents divorced we relied on the stability of our friendship. We cried over lost friends that death took too quickly from us, but the air that we had in our lungs made us appreciate life so much more. We said, “I love you.” We fought over petty issues and always realized that our love for each and sisterly bond was stronger than our disagreements. We set records in softball and quit track together when we felt cheated! We tried to love and find value in everyone but we didn’t do enough because sadly there were some who still had no sense of purpose or worth.

I regret being the biggest hypocrite of all; I didn’t even realize what I was doing. I’m sorry.

My friends loved me so much but sometimes I made them feel like they weren’t important to me because unfortunately I prioritized other people over them. Sometimes I look back and regret the time I missed with you and I wish I could get it back!

You were with me through all of my “loves” and you watched me (and heard all about it!) when I met the amazing man God had created for me, my soul mate and one true love forever, Jared. You gave me advice on how to keep him. You helped me look a little less like a complete idiot around him (even though the odds were against me and there was only so much you could do!) You rejoiced with me when my love asked me to be his bride. You were mad that anyone could possibly think I didn’t deserve him. You were supposed to be my strength at the wedding but when I looked to you I only saw you crying, which of course didn’t help me stay strong at all and is perhaps the only way you have ever remotely failed me…though you made me feel so loved in your doing so.

You have always been “there” for me. When my world seemed to be falling apart, often you were my sanity. We don’t always agree. We aren’t exactly alike. We don’t see each other near as much as I would like. I’m gone too much. We live too far apart. We’re busy. We’re not in the safety of our hometown and each other’s reach anymore. We’ve grown. We’ve learned…a little. Our lives go on. But no matter how far apart we may be, no matter how much time passes, regardless of what life may bring. It doesn’t matter to me if you make a million mistakes. I will always remember the ties of sisterhood that weave us together and with a grateful heart and tears in my eyes I will eternally thank my God for creating you and blessing me with your true friendship. What we have is unique…it’s very rare. And if I haven’t told you, and I know I could never say it enough…thank you so much for your true friendship and love. I treasure you and nothing will ever change that!