Sunday, January 18, 2015

Love through Injustice

An injustice is a quality or an event relating to unfairness or underserved outcomes. How do we measure injustice? Is it merely the person cutting us off on the highway or in a line? Is it being physically injured, affected, or disabled? Is it that bad thing that happened to us that one time that we never talk about to anyone? Is it your spouse leaving you after years, kids, and memories? Is it people treating others differently because of the color of their skin, the way they identify, or who they love?

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6)

Evil is all around us. It is exhibited in people or their actions daily. We must not delight in that evil, but we must know that the truth will prevail. We must love. Kill them with kindness - isn't that what you are supposed to do to your enemies; to those who harm you?!

But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also (Matthew 5:39)

Can you do that? Can you keep going back after a friend has stabbed you in the back? Forgive them and love them through it? Can you not sue someone who has taken something from you or wronged you? Can you really forgive the person who did that awful thing to you that one day that you never talk about? Can you be the one who visits the man in jail that killed someone you loved? Are we not meant to forgive and love? Can we really turn our cheeks and love through the injustices we face?

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11)

I have loved this verse my entire life. This has truly been a sounding board for me in good and baad times. God's intentions are not to harm us. He doesn't want us to be sad or lonely. These are outcomes of the injustices of man. We were given free will and that allows people to harm us even when it is not what God wants.

Hope and a Future! There is more to this life than the injustices we face. We can come out of the other side, we can fight for what is right, we can have hope and a future that is bigger and brighter than what we are facing right now.

Some days I wish I had all the answers. Some days I wish I knew what the future held for me. Then there are the days that I am grateful that I do not know. Knowing what is right and good for me is great, but we don't always make the right decisions or do what is best for us or those around us. We have struggles, life happens and we are tested. If we knew what the future had in store for us, we would likely run the opposite way just as Jonah did, out of fear.

I do not want to fear the unknown or the known. I do not want my past to take over my present or future. I do not want the injustice in my life, in this world to take over our hearts and leave us angry, bitter, and in darkness.

So... what does this mean?

It means we have to love.... love the ones who hurt us, the ones who mistreat us, the ones who do not understand us. We have to go beyond killing them with kindness... we have to love. How radical of an idea is it to love the one who did all those horrible things to you?! I'm not saying put yourself in a situation of harm, to enter into a negative place that you will be in danger... I am saying that sometimes even from afar, in our minds or hearts, we have to love them.

Love is a tricky thing. Some people get it and others just don't. Dying on a cross so that you may live... that is true love. Not a tingly feeling you get when you are near someone... that is infatuation. Lets be clear when we talk about love... true, sacrificial love.

I will never come into contact with the man who caused injustice in my life when I was a teen, but I still have come to a place in my life that has allowed me to forgive him. To understand and know that loving the person does not mean loving the actions. Forgiving and loving allows my heart to be open and free to move on and forward. If I held onto that injustice, that hatred, hurt and betrayal - I would not be able to love anyone.

The injustice of my physical body hurting or not functioning the same way as others - I am working on this one still... Honestly, it is very difficult at times to be okay with the idea that my body and bones are not the same as everyone else my age - that someday I will face serious problems because my auto immune disease will take over. It also kills me on the inside that my body doesn't work the same as every other woman, but though it is unfair, it is.

Today I heard a man say that there is a reason for everything we face, and though we may never see it, know it, or understand it, God is turning the injustice into an opportunity for his will and his good. So, that is what I choose to focus on. He has a plan for me - that is not going to always align with my hopes and dreams, but what I have to remember is that His hopes and dreams are bigger and better than my own. But, that starts with loving through the injustice.

I know this is difficult and I do not write this because it is something I have mastered in the least, I write because it is something that I am challenged by. Something that I know others are challenged by as well. We all face injustices through our life and we know what it means to be anger, bitter, upset, and want to lash out and give them back what they deserve.... But we can't. We are called to forgive. We are called to love. We are called to turn the other cheek. See God in the good and bad. Know that he has a plan for you and that he will see that through no matter what hurdles are placed in our way!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Is the Church missing it?

Today I picked an old book up off the shelf and started reading it - Crazy Love by Francis Chan. Initially there was something in the preface that struck me, when Chan said ... "'How many of you have read the New Testament and wondered if we in the church are missing it?' When almost every hand went up, I felt comforted. At least I'm not crazy." And then there was a bigger statement that was made near the end of the preface when speaking of the common phrase "I believe in God, just not organized religion." - Chan replied "I don't think people would say that if the church truly lived like we are called to live. The expression would change to 'I can't deny what the church does, but I don't believe in their God.'"

Now... sit and think on both of those statements... 

First of all... they are in the preface - two outstanding, mind-blowing, shake you up statements that most people don't even read because they skip right over the forward and preface to chapter one of a book. As a literary major, I have grown to love and appreciate the forward and preface - it's there for a reason and I want to know why - So I have grown to not skip over it as most people do. This has led me to these two golden nuggets. 

"How many of you have read the New Testament and wondered if we in the church are missing it?"

I would beg of you the same question... I know that I have been struggling with this myself my entire life. Being the daughter of a pastor and having the privilege of experiencing many different churches, settings, belief systems, and the reality of it all - I can say that I am puzzled as well. I have been a part of churches who had full disclosure (nothing to hide) and I have been a part of churches who had minimal disclosure or no disclosure (something to hide). I have been a part of churches who did not want change and wanted to keep their pews and hymnals. I have also been a part of a place that is okay with gymnasiums and electric guitars. I think there are a lot of different versions of churches out there, but the problem is that there should not be. 

A church with a little "c" is the single location where services are held - a congregation of people - or a building used for worship. The Church with a big "C" is the group of little “c” churches that make up the body of Christ. We generally refer to that as the family of Christ, the body of Christ, the Christians around the world. The Church includes everyone that believes in Jesus no matter where they are, where they meet, how they meet, or what they call themselves.

Ultimately we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves and love God with our whole heart (Matthew 22:37-39). We are called to pick up our crosses and follow Him (Matthew 16:24). We are called to love and do as He does.

Simple? Sure. Except it’s not so simple when the Church is so jumbled because it can’t keep track of what all the churches are doing, how they are behaving, and how they should be.

There are churches who are more concerned about hiding their financial interests, pocketing the tithes that should be going to greater things, and making good impressions. This is not about the surface – God has never been about the surface!!!

God has always been about what is in our hearts and how we are showing that to others. Have you ever loved someone so radically that they had to take a step back and really ask you why you were doing that? Have you ever loved someone so radically that they did not understand and think it was outside the norm? Isn’t this the kind of love we are called to have for everyone, no matter what?! What happened? When did we become a people that were complacent and accepting of being subpar to what God is calling us to do and be?

"I believe in God, just not organized religion."

I have said this – Can you believe that?! There were times in my own life that I was discouraged by the Church and I did not want to associate with it. I believe in God with all my heart, I always have, but that does not mean that I agree with the way things are being handled by others. But, a church is made up of people and you and I are both one of those people. We are one of many, but we still have a say. Churches do not get to change the rules, they do not get to play it safe, and they certainly do not get to tell you anything but the truth that is in the Bible. One of those truths is that God labeled the first and second greatest commandments around love! Can it be that Jesus was saying there is nothing more important than loving God and loving others?! I think so!

So, stop trying to show face to everyone else out there when we all know that our hearts are not the same as what we try to make everyone else think they are. We are murky, dirty, tainted human beings and we are just called to love each other. There is sin in this world and that will not change, but that does not give us excuse to not strive to be better! When was the last time you chose love over hate? Love over bitterness? Love over despair? When was the last time you chose love over jealousy, judgment, or scorn?

"I can't deny what the church does, but I don't believe in their God."

What would the world really look like if we were the people God called us to be? What would it look like if we were half the people God called us to be? Honestly, I don’t think we are even there yet; myself included. What if the people of today could actually give us the name “Christian” as the people in ancient times actually did. Did you know that? Christians did not name themselves; they were named. They acted on this commandment of God and were Christ-like in nature. The people were so radically different that they were singled out, labeled, called upon by others for being “Christian” and everyone knew what that meant.

Today, we would likely have to tell people that we were Christians. What we believed and why, but we would be really hard pressed to prove to them that we believed this because our actions do not show it!

I think of myself – every day I am home, at work, at school, in the car, doing whatever it is that I’m doing. When do I choose love? When is my love so radical that attention is drawn to it? When has there ever been a point in my life that someone has questioned me because I was too loving? Okay, there may have been once or twice… but we are talking in my 28 years of life. Shouldn’t this be happening daily? Shouldn’t that number at least look like 10,000 times? Even then, I feel like I am selling myself short. I have lived more than 10,000 days and yet I could count the number of people who have questioned my love on one hand.

When will we be a people that shows crazy, radical, unexpected love?! Not just to our significant other, our kids, our coworkers, but also to strangers, enemies and God!

Life is a whirlwind and you can get caught up in it. When was the last time you were intentional about loving God? When was the last time you were intentional about loving someone hard? I know there are things coming to mind, but God knows our thoughts before we even think them, our actions long before we act on them. He knows where we are and how we are really feeling. We cannot hide even in the darkness from him. So, why are you so afraid to admit it – when he already knows?!

You haven’t failed until you have given up and stop trying! I am completely challenged to love radically today – and every day. But, I challenge you the same. Get rid of the negativity, the distractions, and the temptations. Charge forward on your journey through love!

Love yourself as God loves you, love others as God has called us to, and let others love you as you deserve to be loved. This can and will change things. What’s holding you back?

Monday, January 12, 2015


Forgiveness is love on steroids... Loving so much that you would forgive seventy seven times.

Do you ever question someone's actions? What they are doing could be right or wrong. But, can forgiveness ever be wrong? Can loving too much ever be wrong?

If not, then why are we so shocked at the generous, gracious, merciful actions of unrelenting forgivers? Why do we hate the lovers instead of loving the haters?

I can speak for myself and many others when I say that there are many people in this world who owe me. There are many times that I have been affected directly or indirectly in a negative manner. Many times in my life there have been moments where I even question myself and my own ability to forgive.

Years lost, moments stolen, innocence taken and yet here I am healing and forgiving. Forgiveness is not a single action - it is a repeat action that happens day after day for the rest of your life. Every time a thought, emotion, memory comes storming back. Every time conversations happen that relate to a harmful past incident. Every time you think about what you are owed because of all that you missed out on.

Love and forgiveness have to be at the forefront of your mind daily. We are called to love one another as Christ loved us. He loved us so much that he forgave us eternally and died so that we could live. Now, we are called to love the same way, forgive the same way, live the same way.

So, why is it so shocking when we forgive the predators, the killers, the abusers? When we show a minuscule amount of grace and mercy - the world is shocked?! They question who we are, where we are from, where we have come from, and what is wrong with the forgiving people...

Why is it wrong to forgive? Should we hold onto the anger, sadness, bitterness, hatred? Who is that hurting? Only you!

The other people have moved on - they don't think twice about the harm they have caused you while you are wasting your life away dwelling on it. You are dying on the inside as they are thriving - Now, they have not only stolen something from your past, but you are allowing them to steal your present and your future.

Moving on and moving forward is difficult because it means forgiving and really facing the issues at hand, but it is so much easier and lighter a decision than spending your life wasting away in the darkness.

Isn't this what we all need to do? Can you imagine not having bitterness, anger, resentment, sadness, hurt, hatred in your heart to carry around? What if you really were free of all of this?

You must forgive in order to be forgiven and we have to be a people that forgive.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Hub Pages Blogging

So I have decided that I am not only going to maintain my personal blog, but I am also going to be a member of the HubPages community. I do not know what my posts will develop into, but I know they will be less personal and more informational. So, here are a couple examples of what I have written thus far...

I figured, what better to start off by than something that is near and dear to me - something that is current, recent, and fresh in my mind. So, I started with DIY weddings...

I did a lot of DIY when it came to my wedding and saved us a ton of money, but also allowed us to create our own style - which was later referred to as "soft-punk" by friends... Guessing because it was somewhat traditional, but also somewhat different with the converse shoes, relaxed atmosphere, and tutu dresses.

The other post I put up was on marriage - foundations of marriage.

This blog discusses what helps build a strong foundation, what can tear it down, and how to maintain a healthy strong foundations from the beginning. I know I have not been married long, but have been married twice and that gives me more knowledge than some who have been married a little longer than me, but only once.

I'm a firm believer that divorce teaches you something that you cannot learn another way. I would never wish divorce on anyone, but it has really schooled me on what is important and what I really want in life, marriage, relationships, family, etc.

I am a writer and I need to get my name out there. If I cannot make a career of it, then I need to just start doing it as much as possible so that I don't have to focus on loving my 9-5 as much. Oh wait, I don't have a 9-5 (that's wishful thinking)... lol.

Side note: Job search is going well. A few serious prospects in process - we will see where they go!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A woman of sorrowful spirit

When I was in high school I grew to love Bethany Dillon - a female Christian musician. She wrote one song The Kingdom which really struck me. The lyrics always struck me because they were so raw and relatable. A young girl searching, questioning, challenging the way things are and the way life is...

"Why are some women barren
While the wicked's house is full"

These lines always struck me the most. I am reminded of Hannah and her story - a powerful story of hope and faith. Hannah was a woman of sorrowful spirit. She was lost and distressed over being barren. She was unable to have children, but her husbands other wife had already given him many children. It was a difficult situation because all she wanted was a child and she could not have one, while the other wife had many and continually treated Hannah poorly and rubbed it in her face.

Often, I struggle with the idea of women who have children and do not want them... when there are so many women out there who want children and are unable to have them... how is this right/fair/just? Obviously it is not, but there is wickedness in this world and bad things happen to good people...

Hannah was faithful and prayed to God. She did not speak the prayer out loud as was customary in that day, she breathed a wish in her soul and sent it up unspoken to God.

Her Prayer:

Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
If you'll take a good, hard look at my pain,
If you'll quit neglecting me and go into action for me
By giving me a son,
I'll give him completely, unreservedly to you.
I'll set him apart for a life of holy discipline.

What a prayer!!

Not only did Hannah have enough faith to pray a prayer and believe it would be granted/answered, but also she was so faithful that she committed to giving her child back to God when she was blessed with one.

Not only was she blessed with one, but God blessed her with many.

Was it her prayer?
Was it her faith?
Was it her hope?

A woman of sorrowful sprit became a woman of joyful spirit. She was the one that sang praises to God. How do we become more like Hannah?

When I was younger my father would always tell me:

Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of your soul.... Proverbs 4:23

I am convinced that Hannah guarded her heart. She guarded it in prayer and reverence to God. She committed her being to the Church.

Now, we know that God doesn't always answer prayer. Sometimes he says yes, sometimes no, sometimes maybe.... sometimes we do not feel an answer at all. When we feel the answer is no... do we keep praying and asking for a yes??? How does this work? Where does faith, hope and prayer turn from Hannah's example into being blind and helpless... is there such a thing?

So often people struggle with the idea of praying to a being that is unseen... but then I cannot help but think of Hebrews and knowing that faith is being confident in what we hope for and assured of what we do not see.

Then I am reminded of... the other wife that treated Hannah so poorly, the husband that thought he could be enough, the other children that went unloved by their mother, and Eli who thought Hannah was out of her mind when she was praying to God...

There will always be other people out there who are trying to rain on your parade. They will try to dissuade you and try to push you down. There are people who feel better about themselves when they feel less of others. This world is a tarnished world and it is a struggle to be a part of at times, but I cannot help to just resonate on Hannah's hope and her faith.

The sorrow would not subside
As she poured her heart out again
Tipping over and spilling the
same sad song from her lips

What could be the answer
The waiting was killing her
Could it be the same no
she had received many times before

Many thought she crazy
other pitted her dearly
but there was one who was
listening more than the others

He was the answer she was waiting for
One day he came
Her sorrow turned to joy
and she kept her prayed promise

Was it her faith
Was it her hope
Was it her God
that she prayed to daily

Science is a tricky thing
it will tell you one thing
but then another will happen
what do we depend on?

Her sorrow was subsided
When her prayers were answered
Lips fill with joy and praise
singing for all to hear

Not just one but many
Truly blessed she was
Her heart was full
as was her home

I have been challenged to have Hannah's faith and hope... So I am challenging you to do the same. What is it in your life that you want so dearly that you would bargain, pled, and beg for? So much so that you would promise to sacrifice or give it back to God if you got it? A job/career, acceptance, weight loss, money/security in finances, or something else? Can I guarantee that God will answer your prayer or even mine the same as he answered Hannah's? No. But, what I can do is say that whatever happens it is a part of his plan....