Pillars of Salt

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“Ughhhhhhhhh.  Really?”

I was just brushing my teeth minding my own business when I heard the way-too-intense-for-this-early-in-the-morning-groan from Sweet Hubs.  It wasn’t the usual I-wish-my-kid-could-get-his-own-breakfast grumble, it was more of an exasperation mixed with a bit of mild sadness.

Curious as to the culprit of this I poked my head out of the bathroom and saw what he was watching.  The Today Show was doing a story on the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition‘s newest cover model.

You know, the one they had to use a photoshopped ribbon to cover her exposed, ahem, dainties, because it was “too hot for morning tv.”

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This is for You

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Real Talk:

I’ve never really been a fan of “women’s ministry” — mostly because my few experiences with it at my churches growing up left me feeling like I would never belong to the elite club of ladies who read their Bibles on the daily, prayed fervently and without ceasing, knew all the Christianese, and were frankly quite perfect.

Then I realized that, bless their hearts, that maybe they didn’t have it all together but instead they put their best foot forward because that’s just what we’re supposed to do.  Broken and loveless marriages, addictions, gossipping, feelings of inadequacy, wayward children, infertility, depression..those things didn’t have a place around the women’s ministry tables where I sat.  No, those were the things we “prayed” (read: gossipped) about for others but would never to admit to each other that it was happening to us, too.

I could never reconcile the differences between what my interactions with women’s ministry expected me to be and who I actually was.  So, like any good southern girl does, I bottled it up, put on a smile, and stayed as far away from deep meaningful relationships with women as much as I could through the whole of my 20s.  It was just easier that way.  I was safe from the judgement, safe from the bless your hearts, and safe from becoming just like them when I was old enough to sit around their tables for real.

Frankly, it’s all BS.  And it’s time to change this perception.

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Not Our Home

ruin-457475_640As I was sitting on the floor of the hospital I was acutely aware of the cold hard floor against the back of my legs.  While I watched nurses running in between rooms and I realized that life and death are such close friends in this place.  The sadness of the room I was avoiding was punctuated every so often with laughter of the other rooms.  A bed wheeled down the hallway and picked up the girl in the room across from me, she was having a minor surgery and it was no big deal.

But for those of us who were waiting outside of 425, it was a big deal.

It’s a big deal because we were watching my best friend’s grandmother as her life was slipping away.  Actually, we were waiting for it.  Ironically enough, we were praying for it.

As I was sitting there, I flashed back to 6 years ago as I stood in the ICU with my brand-new husband of 12 hours while we watched life slip away from his childhood best friend.  The beeping of the monitors that were breathing and beating for him, the hushed voices, the tear-stained faces of the friends and family he was leaving in that hospital room was almost too much for any of us to handle.  I will never forget sitting in that waiting room later that day and watching the nurse bring out a plastic bag of the clothes and shoes he was wearing before he found himself in a coma in the bed down the hall.  The finality of it punctuated by the ordinariness of clothes in a bag.  His shoes, scuffed and stained, his clothes cut down the middle when the paramedics came and tried to resuscitate, the gold cross necklace he wore tangled up and visible from the outside of the bag.

The difference between these two stories is that one was surrounded by those who believed in a life after death and the other was surrounded by a mixture of those who did and didn’t believe in that.

For this world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.  Hebrews 13:14 (NLT)

While I watched my best friend’s professional work as a doctor and her personal life of losing her grandmother collide, I was reminded of this verse.  As she said all the things that you say to your grandma when you realize she’s dying, I couldn’t help but think of how incredibly painful it must be for those who believe that the end of life is the end of it all.  For my friend’s grandmother, when her eyes opened again she would see Jesus and the place that He has prepared for her.  It’s seems odd to rejoice in the fact that she’s gone but for those of us who know Christ, it makes sense.  There’s peace in knowing that we will see her again soon when we take our place that has been prepared for us in heaven, too.

I need for my son to know that this world is not our home.  That we were not meant to chase success by the world’s standards at the sake of our own souls and relationship with Jesus.  I want for him to grow up knowing that we never really say goodbye to those in whom Jesus dwells.  For as sad as it is to watch someone as life slips away, we have to remember that as final breaths are taken on this earth, first breaths are taken in heaven.  It doesn’t make it hurt less when it happens but at least there’s hope to cling to until the pain dulls and the heaviness of heart lightens.

My heart hurts for my friend but my soul rejoices for her grandmother who is finally home.

 

 

It’s Time.

atlanta-70847_1280Y’all.

I am just tired.

Like, not in the “go-get-more-sleep-and-you’ll-feel-better” way but in the “I-just-need-a-minute-to-breathe” kind of way.

It feels like my schedule has been on hyperdrive for the last year or so and every time there’s a promise of a slowing down, something inevitably sucks me back into the vortex of the never-ending blackhole of an incredibly full calendar.

Last week was an example of that.  I had a ticket to a conference in Atlanta that was going to take me out of the normal bustle of life for two whole days and I was thrilled.  Until I realized that last week was pretty much the worst time ever to go do anything other than dive into the current projects at work and at home.  But I really felt like I couldn’t bypass this opportunity so I meticulously scheduled our little family to make sure that someone would remember to drop off and pick up our son from preschool and that my boys would have something to eat while I was gone.   On paper, that schedule and plan looked really, really good.

Until my husband’s work schedule blew up, our sitter had a conflict, the house was a wreck, and Mount Socksmore erupted.

Figures.

It all worked out in the end and so off I went with two friends to Atlanta for the IF:Gathering Lab.

While there, Jesus had a “Come to Jesus Me” Meeting with me.  As I listened to each of the Lab leaders share their hearts for women, for leaders, and for Christ I noticed something:

They were all battling it, too.

Fear, Unrelastic Expectations, Restlessness, Pressure, Busyness, Comparison, Envy, Inadequacy.

There’s no algorithim in the world that will answer these questions and quiet these voices.  And I think it’s going to take more than us just looking at each other with our “Bless Your Heart” face and saying some Christianese quote that we pinned on our “Inspiration” Boards on Pinterest.  It’s going to take a boldness that can only be found when we focus completely, intently, and passionately on the One who breathed our life and passions into us.

We have to stop playing Church and go be the Church.  That’s going to mean different things for each one of us, it’s going to mean reigniting a passion or saying ‘yes’ to something scary or something that looks impossible.  It means getting uncomfortable and sharing a table and a conversation with someone who doesn’t see the world the way you see it.  It means you have to live your faith out while you talk it about it, too.

It’s the nitty-gritty, messy stuff of loving the women around you well.  It means loving her well even when she doesn’t live up the expectations that you have for her and it means picking her up when she falls flat on her face.  It means teaching our daughters to default to grace instead of judgement.  It means spending time in prayer to fix yourself instead of using that time to fix everyone else.

We are half of the Church, loves.  Let’s be the half that changes the way the world sees our Jesus.

There’s a group of us who are feeling a little restless and finding a boldness that we never knew we had for the women around us so we’re walking in obedience (check us out here).  We hope you’ll join us in February for IF:Gathering — a two day livestream conference event for the women in our community (those who love Jesus and those who just haven’t really met Him yet).  You can register and save your seat here for $1 (or more, it’s up to you.  All proceeds from tickets will go to support the national IF:Gathering ministry).  This is not just for our SMC women, it’s for anyone you know who desires to live out her calling for the glory of the King.  It’s beautiful.  Don’t miss it!

Connected.

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I have always been wildly fascinated by the idea that we are all connected.  Regardless of who or how or why, nobody walks this earth alone.  Somewhere, someone is connected to them.

In some ways, I think this idea weighed in on my decision to pursue vocational ministry–to belong to an idea that I’m a part of a larger, unique, and beautiful story.  A story of redemption, a story of triumph, a story of victory over all the ugly the world can throw at us.

A couple of nights ago, women I knew and women I’ve never met gathered together all over the world to pray.  For a brief moment in history, hundreds of thousands of women in towns big and little, affluent and impoverished gathered together to pray–for our people, our nation, and our world.

We were all connected.  We were a part of it all.

Women in Germany met us on “American time” and prayed for us while we prayed for them.  A group of women in an undisclosed part of Southeast Asia huddled together and prayed that their people would know their God.  I dreamed about it last night.  In it, I was looking at the whole world and seeing little lights flickering on every continent and hearing all these voices rising up in different languages.  I didn’t understand the words, but somehow they all fit together in perfect rhythm.  Oh, loves, how I wish you could have heard it!

In our little town, in a shelter at a baseball field we lit some candles and prayed.  We prayed for the women who are fleeing persecution and for the ones who are living in our town that are too weary and too downtrodden to even lift their eyes to the One who created them.  We prayed for empty bellies to be filled, for protection for our sisters near and those who are far away, we prayed for a mighty swell of bravery to sweep over our county like a great wind, the kind of wind that takes your breath away but gives you energy all at the same time.  We prayed for truth to be revealed and for lives to be changed.

We broke bread.  We confessed.  We told stories.

Then, as all the cars were driving away, we looked at each other and said, “that was perfect.”

And it was, sisters, it really was.