Rational people don’t love.

Rational people don’t love, and they don’t own pets either. Rational people don’t own pets because pets are a complete waste of money. They don’t pay rent even though they live in your house. They don’t clean up even though they create the mess. There’s no logical reason to own a pet, it’s not an equation that pays out. So why do over 50% of households own a pet? Because the deepest desire of our heart is to love and be loved.

Rational people don’t love because it too, is an equation that runs the risk of not paying out. Loving someone or something puts you at risk for rejection, guarantees you’ll face loss, and it can even buckle your knees in utter pain. Rational people don’t love because they’d rather never experience love in order to avoid the hurt and grief that comes with it. Choosing to love is a vulnerable choice to make…but it’s what we were designed for and who we were designed after. If God is love and we are designed in his image, then we are love as well. Love is written into our bones.

There is a woman in my community who recently gave birth to a child with little to no brain activity. The child lived for 64 days and for every single one of those days the woman poured out love for her child. You all are reading this like “yeah of course, that’s what mothers do.” But from a rational standpoint it doesn’t make sense. The child could not return any love back to her mother, or even signal that she felt the love her mother was giving her. Yet the mother loved her anyways. Every day I watched her love grow for the baby all the while knowing the pain of loss was growing along with it. It was the most courageous and selfless choice I’ve ever seen someone make – to love someone who cannot love in return.

I cannot imagine the pain the mother felt when her child passed away but I know someone who can – God. I cannot imagine what it feels like to love someone who cannot love in return but I know someone who can – God. This woman loves the way that God loves. Recklessly. With no expectation of a return on her investment and with no agenda. Does pain come with love? Sure. But so does purpose and meaning and a joy that runs deeper than pain could ever go. The choice to love is the choice to live the life you were created for.

So here’s to all the irrational pet owners and the people who choose to love in spite of the consequences – here’s to the reckless ones.

Forgiveness as a Future

In the days after Martin Luther King Day, I’ve been reflecting on the progress we’ve made as a society in race reconciliation but also the heartbreaking gaps that still exist today. Last week I finished a young adult book called “The Hate You Give” which was written to help teens and young adults build empathy toward each other in understanding the emotions that back the racial divide. It was eye-opening for me, something I hope will contribute to a more compassionate society, but it also saddens me that we have reached this point.

In going through my journal today I was reminded of a TED Talk I watched a few years ago and it talks about the importance of forgiveness in the wake of tragedy and hurt.

If you don’t get a chance to watch the full video, I’ll give you the quick highlights. The son of one of the men you see in the picture above was killed by the other man’s grandson. There are no words to explain the loss of a child but in meditating on his own loss, Azim realized that he wasn’t the only one who lost a child. Ples lost his grandson to the prison system and gang culture prior to that. Through meditation and prayer the two were able to forgive one another. Can you even imagine? Azim went on to meet the boy who murdered his son and he says “I looked into his eyes and I looked for a murderer and I didn’t see one.” Can you even imagine being able to forgive that big? The pair have since created a foundation that teaches school students how to handle their emotions – anger, violence, anxiety in a peaceful way. Why? Because they don’t want to live in a world where kids continue to kill kids.

Here’s the thing – we are hurt by what’s happened, we are angry, we feel misunderstood, we feel defensive. But in the wake of all this pain, ask yourself – where would we be as a country if we could forgive like that? Right now we fear each other, we don’t trust one another, we don’t understand one another. But what good is that doing us?

I believe the greatest need of the human race is forgiveness. For someone to look at you in your worst and say “I love you anyway.” How powerful and deeply meaningful is a love like that? Forgiveness through love – that’s the model for how we make progress. It’s the same model that God uses. He looks at us in our worst and says “I love you anyway. I love you so much I sent my son to pay for your mistakes so that you are forgiven and you can be reconnected with me.” When we decide we can’t forgive one another we’re saying that our justice is greater than God’s justice. That even if God can forgive them, they’re still not trustworthy or forgiven by us? No, not quite – that attitude just breeds division.

Forgiveness brings connection. Forgiveness brings reconciliation. Forgiveness comes from love. Big forgiveness requires big faith.

Pray Promises

If you could’ve listened to my prayers recently you might have confused them with a list of complaints. I’m in a season where I don’t know what direction to go, I’ve said ‘no’ to things I’m not sure I should have and feel like I’m making decisions by the seat of my pants. I’m a bit lost and that’s what I’ve been complaining about to God. God is cool with that though, I mean there’s a whole book of the Bible called Lamentations and that’s exactly what it is – people lamenting about their lives to God.

However today I was reading Psalms and came across Psalm 102 which is literally a “prayer of the afflicted” or a prayer of people in troubled times. This Psalm started out very similar to my prayers recently – a list of complaints about life along with anger at God for not being openly visible in the midst of all the troubles. But then the Psalmist takes a turn and begins to mention attributes of God’s character. He/she is telling God who He is by saying “You, O Lord, are enthroned forever. You laid the foundation of the earth and the heavens are the work of your hands. You are the same forever, your years have no end.” Then he goes on to pray about the promises that God has made to his people. He promised to rescue the Israelites from exile, to give them a New Jerusalem so that everyone will see His glory.

As I was reading this, it wasn’t the prayer itself that stuck out to me but rather the structure of the prayer. It’s fine to just pray lamentations to God but there’s healing and hope in following those complaints with God’s promises. Promises like the ones below:

“The Lord will fight on your behalf, you need only to be still.” Exodus 14:14

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint.” Isaiah 40:29

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Isaiah 43:2

“Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it and it will be yours.” Matthew 11:24

May my prayers be full of God’s promises, reminders of God’s faithfulness in my life and the truth about who I am to Him.

Help Wanted

Lately I’ve been forced into a position where I need to ask for help – like basic human needs help – like I need a roof over my head help. The story behind that we will save for a different day but regardless, that’s the season I’m in.

So I’m reading in Numbers this morning and I come across this verse:

And when you go to war in your land against the adversary who oppresses you, then you shall sound an alarm with trumpets, so that you may be remembered before the Lord your God, and you shall be saved from your enemies.”

Numbers 10:9

What I learned about God from this verse is that even though he sees my every need, he still wants me sound the alarms and ask for help. Even though he has designed me to be resourceful and fend for myself, he still wants me to save me from my own battles. It sounds kind of egotistical on his part but really he wants us to trust him so much so that we will let him provide for our every need.

And then my quiet time was over and I thought that was it for the day…

Until I opened up my computer this afternoon at a coffeeshop and almost immediately a young gentleman named Caleb asked me for help formatting his resume. Little did he know, I love editing, especially resumes. Once I fixed his margins and changed the font size, we started talking about what kind of jobs he was applying for and where he saw his life going. We talked about our faith and the role that God has played in our lives to this point.

Caleb walked away and I opened my journal to write Caleb’s name down to pray for him. This happened to be on the exact same page where I was journaling about the lesson on asking for help from Numbers 10:9 this morning. The funny thing is – even though I was able to help Caleb with his resume, he showed me his courage in asking for my help. Not only was I not burdened by his request, but I was honored to help him.

Just as I was eager and honored to help Caleb, God is eager and honored to help in our time of need. And while sometimes asking God for help is easier than asking a real person, even my friends are eager and honored to help in my time of need.

Caleb – Thanks for your courage, I hope you get everything you want in life – including one day owning the Denver Broncos.

Even still, I get fed

I had this moment last week with God where I knew I needed to talk to Him but for whatever reason I wouldn’t. Instead I sang worship songs and instead I listened to podcasts about God. After 5 hours of worship songs and podcasts I felt like God was like “Stop filling your ears with what other people say about me and just talk to me.”

Kind of fearful, kind of obedient – I turned off the podcast and just started talking to God out loud in my car. I was telling him how I feel, what I’m worried about, all the thoughts that were going through my head, and I asked him to give me discernment and clarity on what he wanted for me throughout all the change that is happening around me.

And just like God does, he spoke to me. He gave me all the signals of his presence that I normally get – like tears in my eyes, tingling in my heart, and words in my mind that don’t feel like my own.

I sat with what God told me for a few minutes and then I just started smiling! I started smiling because God spoke to me! You see, after reflecting for a few minutes, I realized the reason I wasn’t willing to talk to God in the first place was because I felt there was something standing in between us. I hadn’t spent a great deal of time with him, hadn’t lived my most holy weekend – but he STILL wanted to talk to me! Even though I felt like I was unworthy!

It’s like this – God is my parent and even though he knows I’m a selfish kid, he also knows that I’ll grow out of it and he still wants to talk to me, he still wants to spend time with me, he still wants to feed me! Can you imagine if your parents withheld literal meals because you were selfish, or you had a problem with cussing, or you drank too much? No! Instead they say, let me feed you first, and then let’s talk about those things – but let’s get it straight, there is always food for you becuase I love you.

That’s what God did for me in the car that day. Even though it had been a long time since we truly spoke to each other (vs. me just listening to sermon after sermon) he still wanted to feed me with the food that only he can give, the truths that give us hope and discerment and clarity.

Becoming One

Screen Shot 2018-08-28 at 8.00.23 AM

In Ephesians 5 Paul makes the analogy between a marriage between a husband and wife should resemble the bond that Christ has with the church – that we are members of his body. He goes on to say “Because of this reason, a man will leave his mother and father and be united with his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” I spoke about this verse when I officiated my sister’s wedding this summer and I talked about the idea of becoming one and that it’s a process that occurs througout your marriage. I said this a few months ago but it wasn’t until last week that I gained a new understanding of what becoming one actually means in real life.

About a month ago Chris accepted a job in New York as a Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at Hobart & William Smith Colleges. Since then I’ve been trying to make arrangements at my job to be able to join him in New York and work remotely. Last Tuesday I got some bad news at work that made it seem nearly impossible for me to work remotely and move to New York. Of course I called Chris crying and explained the situattion and we both left the call frustrated and upset and back to the drawing boards.

A few hours later that day Chris called me and said “Babe! You won’t believe this! When we got off the phone earlier I felt super frustrated and helpless, like I’m the one who put us in this position and now there’s nothing I can do to help. But then I went to coach the field hockey team and in the middle of coaching them I got this overwhelming feeling of peace. Like not what I normally feel when I’m coaching it was different, it was better. And then that feeling of peace turned into a giddy excitement! Like I’m literally in tears right now smiling because I know we’re going to be okay!”

He then went on to send me a picture of his smiling face and tear-filled eyes and what he didn’t realize was that his picture serves as the first piece of evidence that we are becoming one in God’s eyes. God gave me the peace and encouragement that I needed and He gave it to me through Chris. Because if we are becoming one then God can do that – he can work through either of us for both of us. How do I know that God was talking to me? The tears. When I feel the Holy Spirit, when I know God is near and speaking to me I always begin to cry. Ask anyone who’s gone to church with me or sang worship with me – it never fails.

From 560 miles away, through my rock of a fiance, God used the very same signal to tell me and to tell us the He is with us. He is good, He always has been and He is going to use this situation to make everything good.

Clothes…who knew?

I’m going to be honest – I wasn’t sure what I was going to write when I opened up my computer besides that I haven’t written in awhile and I wanted to meet with God by doing so. I pulled up my notebook and looked at my recent notes. The last three thigns I wrote down were all verses that had to do with clothes but no connection between the stories of the verses or when and why I wrote them down. After thinking for just a few seconds about what I would write in regards to these verses, God immediately reminded me of my journey with clothes.

In February of this year, my church did a journey to understand the things we’re obsessed with that stand in the way of what God wants us to be obsessed with. Through that journey, I uncovered that comparison stands the way of understanding what God wants for me. I constantly compare myself based on body shape, hair, skin, prettiness, you name it. One of the ways that I fueled my comparison (without even realizing it) was through buying clothes.

I knew I was never going to have the best clothes but I always wanted more of them. I wanted new clothes for every event, new dresses for every wedding, clothes my friends would want to borrow. I wanted to be able to compare myself to everyone else to make sure I was okay – not on the top, but also not on the bottom. When I realized this fact, I decided I wasn’t going to buy clothes for a year. (sheesh, J – pick something easier next time) But I really wanted to cut off that source of fuel for comparison.

Since then, I’ve questioned that decision. Partly because I want new clothes for the summer but also because I’ve been wondering what God is saying to me through that decision. Until today. (funny how when we sit down and open ourselves up to Him that he shows up too)

So there’s all these verses that have to do with clothing. Let me list some of them out for you.

“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, that they will be mighty trees of righteousness so that the Lord will be glorified.” – Isaiah 61:3

“Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when evil comes you will be able to resist and remain standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armour of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helment and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” – Ephesians 6:13

To Lazarus, Jesus’s friend who’s been dead in his tomb for four days, Jesus says “Lazarus, get up. Take off the clothes of the grave and be free.” – John 11:43

Over and over again God is reminding me that he has a purpose for clothing. When I get dressed in the morning, it’s not for comparison. I get dressed with armour to protect myself in spiritual battles. I get dressed with garments of praise that cast out heaviness. I get dressed in shoes so that I can walk out my life standing in peace. And just as easily as I put these clothes on, I can take off the clothes that bind me and I can be set free from the grave.

So I’ll continue on my journey to not buy clothes for a year and get rid of comparison – but now I know what I’m replacing comparison with – praise, truth, armour, peace, and salvation, and freedom. God says ‘you give me that one thing and look what I’ll give you in return’.