Category Archives: Something True

Faith

A Word With You :: Ordinary

I was reminded a few times this past week to stop and notice the simple. I read this post and realized that it had been far too long since I had paused to be purposefully thankful. (Unfortunately) It’s not uncommon for entire weeks to go by without me actively practicing gratefulness. And I’ve found that when I let gratitude escape – an anxious, ‘gimme-more’ spirit quickly steals its way in.

In past moments of envy & over-dramatic woe about what we have or what we have not – I have often found it helpful to force Sean to march around the house with me while I name things that I am grateful for. It sounds completely ridiculous and totally unnecessary – and yet, there are some moments (moments I am in no way proud of) when I look around our corner of the world and fail to see it for the extraordinary blessing that it is.

In our corner of the world, I am warm, and safe, and well-fed. Our home holds an abundance of tangibles, intangibles – countless ordinary, everyday moments that only we share, and lot and lots of love. Today, I am choosing to be grateful.

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When Influence is a Paradox

I left the Influence Conference last weekend tired, full of ideas and with a page-long to-do list. But I think my biggest take-away from the weekend is a paradox – A heart adjustment that left me feeling full instead of overwhelmed.

It takes strength to extend influence – a strength that I don’t have on my own.

Emily told me I could call myself an artist.

Amanda and Darcy called me a writer.

My husband reminded me that he loved my blog no matter what before I left for the weekend.

And also…

Casey talked about reaching my limits.

Jami challenged me to share out of my mess.

And Emily said, “Art is for you. Right now. Small and broken.”

All weekend, I was encouraged and confronted. I have something to give. But I also have a lot of junk.

Session after session, I was reminded of grace.

Despite my failings and insecurities, even in the midst of them – God is working to redeem. Always.

I can rest in who I am and the amount I have to give. But even more, I can rest in grace and the amount, quite simply, He already gave.

It takes strength to extend influence – a strength that I don’t have on my own.

{Originally posted on pure&simple}

90210 and Jesus

I watch 90210. And I love it.

And just so we’re clear, I’m talking about the show from the 90s – bad hair, clothes, makeup, acting…Oh, wait, the new one is like that too? Well, I mean the one from the 90s.

Now that that’s out in the open…I’ve decided to break from reading the New Testament letters and spend some time reading the Gospels. Paul tends to be the safest, friendliest option, and by most counts, Paul speaks the truth in clear, understandable ways. Jesus, however, tends to say things that make me squirm, He never seems to be doing the things that I would expect him to, and sometimes He sounds mean. So, recently, I opted to read John – in an effort to see my God with new eyes. Instead of breezing through the passages I’ve heard a hundred times, I’ve decided to stop every once in a while and pray, “What the heck was that for?”

. . .

I needed to pray when I read John 4, when a royal official comes and asks Jesus to heal his sick son. The Jesus in my head says, “Yes, of course I’ll heal him!” Jesus actually says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” And sure, I’m oversimplifying things, but that sounds mean. So I prayed my new prayer, “What the heck was that for?” and read it again.

To summarize the passage, a royal official comes to Jesus and asks him to come to his house and heal his son. Jesus says, “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe.” The man asks again. Jesus tells him to go home and that his son is healed. The man believes Him and goes home. When he gets home, his son is healed, and the man’s faith deepens. And then, the man’s entire household believes in Jesus.

Upon re-reading, instead of a mean Jesus, I found a Jesus that knows infinitely more than we do (or than that official did). I found a Jesus that is compassionate enough to care about the condition of our faith, and by His power – increases it. I found a Jesus who knows that the Father’s glory is most important, and that despite our need for signs and answered prayers, the Lord is doing MORE than we may ask of Him.

. . .

I needed to pray when I read John 9, when the disciples and Jesus run into a man who has been blind since birth. The disciples attribute the man’s suffering to a sinful life – either led by him or his parents. When they ask Jesus about it he says, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.” I read that, and I prayed, “What the heck is this about?” and I read it again.

And even though God did not grant me a full theology of suffering, I was reminded of an episode of 90210. There is a character on the show named Valerie. Valerie is always up to no good, and in one episode, she is dating two guys at the same time. One of the men is really rich (I can’t remember his name, because I am watching a soap opera, and I can’t possibly be expected to remember names when I’m this zoned out). Valerie is only dating him because he has money and he buys her expensive things and takes her out to dinner on airplanes. Valerie’s other boyfriend is Noah (he’s more important, so I know his name), and the soap opera writers have created that whole romantic tension thing, so you are sucked into them being in love for real. The only problem is that Noah doesn’t have money (or so she thinks…), so she dates both of them, conflict ensues, she goes into a coma. Ok, there’s no coma. But the thing is that her relationship with that other guy is totally disgusting. You hate it because she is dating him for what he can give her, not because she loves him.

And so, in the passage about the suffering of a blind man, instead of a mean Jesus (who didn’t give me a job as soon as I asked for it), I found a Jesus who shapes all circumstances for our good and for His glory. I found a Jesus who doesn’t want to be followed because he continually supplies our comfort and contentment on command, and a Jesus who deserves our love despite our circumstances. I found a God who protects us from making an idol out of our own gratification and desires us to love Him because He first loved us.

. . .

Not all of my prayers have been answered, and Jesus still sounds mean sometimes, but I’m glad that I am choosing to invest in my relationship with Him a bit more. I’m glad that I am looking at the old stories a little closer. And I’m glad that I haven’t been afraid to ask questions and pray for clarity.

And I’m also glad that God can use horrible TV like 90210 to teach me something. In fact, I am going to be really ‘spiritual’ and go watch an episode right now…

Unemployed…and thankful

Ten and a half months ago, I started looking for a new job.

I have been working for our church for the past two years. When I took the job, there were a few burning questions in my head – common for a first job, probably common for any new job. Chief among them was the schedule. Working for a church, I would be assuming lots of weekend and holiday responsibility. With Sean’s regular hours teaching high school English, our schedules would not be very complementary. Two years into the job, I still had the same unresolved question. Even though my ability to balance work and home improved considerably – I never had peace about my schedule. And so, with the blessing of my husband and my boss, I started looking for a new job.

A month or so into my search (and a handful of cover letters later), I was offered a series of interviews for a position that I considered ideal. This beginning part of my search had been full of questions, prayers for direction, and thoughtful analysis of the direction I wanted to go. This job felt like an answer.

At the time, I found myself praying, “Lord teach me to be strong in Your grace.”

I wrote down the following promises:

I am not confident in myself alone.

I am confident that God has a plan.

I am confident that He is good.

I am confident that He guides me.

I am confident that He can use me.

There was lots of waiting. Lots of self-doubt. And then I didn’t get the job.

For the next couple of months, it was hard to be hopeful. Things seemed like they were happening to me, at random. I was working really hard to build a network, I had sent out countless resumes, I was doing everything I could. And I wasn’t getting any further in my search. My confidence was shaken.

And all of a sudden, I started getting hit with some broken parts of my life – broken parts of my mind, really. Lies that I had been bearing the weight of for quite a while.

I have to do this myself.

I have to be good enough.

There isn’t a plan.

Almost unknowingly, I was repeating these things to myself, and I was living as if they were true. In fact, it was kind of hard to tell they were lies anymore. And so, after being prompted by a friend to do so, somewhere on our trip to Alaska, I started praying that I would see the lies for what they were, and hear the truth instead.

A week after we got back, I was driving in my car playing back my negative internal soundtrack, when I heard the truth break in. I had lots of thoughts, lots of bad things to say about myself, and all of a sudden I heard, “Megan, you aren’t the only one with thoughts about you.”

I realize that isn’t a profound spiritual truth. It’s probably not even a very well structured sentence. But it was instantly healing.

I realized that I hadn’t really been listening to the truth, in fact I had kind of closed off from it in favor of repeating the same false things over and over to myself. With those words, I suddenly had hope that there was a larger purpose for my current situation. And I know that it was His work in my life – because I had been trying to attain this peace through sheer willpower for months.

I can look back on this season of my life as a time of healing…And a time of pruning…A time that the Lord used to break into some of the broken parts of me and shine His truth and light…A time He used to take control of some of my habits and attitudes that were dead, that I might bear fruit…And a time used to make me stronger in His grace.

Having long ago taken on my sin, he is continually in the process of taking my heart and making all things new. Through this season, I have felt set free from guilt for things I have been carting around for years – the amazing truth is that God isn’t only concerned about ‘fixing’ this hard phase of my life and giving me a job – He’s concerned with redeeming every part of my life! In light of this, I can certainly look back and say, I am truly thankful that I didn’t get a job 8 months ago. I am deeply, deeply thankful.

If you are unemployed or just plain feeling stuck in the season of life that you are in – take heart! I don’t know why these things happen to us. But I do know now, more than ever, that the Lord is good. I know that He is concerned with the whole of us – not just our circumstances. And I know that He wants us to embrace Truth that we might be full of peace and joy – not from ourselves, but by His strength.

“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit…Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me.” – John 15:2, 4

“Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God” – 2 Corinthians 3:5

“The Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” – 2 Corinthians 3:17

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency, at all times, in all things, you may be fully equipped for every good work.” – 2 Corinthians 9:8

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

“For indeed, He was crucified because of weakness, yet He lives because of the power of God.” – 2 Corinthians 13:4

“Forever, O Lord, you Word is settled in heaven. Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations.” – Psalm 119:89-90

“If your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.” – Psalm 119:92

Evening for India

A couple of summers ago, I lived in India for a summer with 3 friends. That’s a story for another time (well a lot of stories for another time), but…

This past weekend, the organization that we worked for in India, the India Gospel League, had a Gala. Their North American headquarters is in my hometown, so we headed to Ohio for the festivities. The evening promised some Indian food, reuniting with a friend or two from India, and an opportunity to wear our saris. They had me at the outfit.

Three of the girls + my mom planned to dress authentically Indian. My mom borrowed a formal punjabi, while the rest of us spent an hour helping each other into our saris. Mallory and I had purchased them while we were in India – so it was fun to be able to wear them again! Mine, of course, proved to be the most high-maintenance – requiring us to re-wrap it at least four times. We found a couple of helpful YouTube videos including this one and this one (of course Martha is a sari expert). Indian clothes are so beautiful and I honestly wish that I could wear a punjabi every day – they are so comfortable!

I mentioned to the girls that it kind of felt like we were going to a high school prom, because it was almost more exciting to get dressed up and take pictures then it was to go to the actual event.

Mallory and I had a lot of fun reminiscing about the first time we learned to wear our saris when we were in India. The daughter of the family we were staying with taught us each individually how to wrap the yards of fabric. Then, when we had finally figured it out, she untucked our carefully folded cloth with one sweeping gesture and told us we had to do it ourselves. It was a lesson in tough love. And a lesson that took a good two hours.

We ended up gathering enough spouses/significant others to host our own table, so we had a fun time during dinner sharing memories from our trip. Some of the memories were probably a bit shocking for those who hadn’t experienced them first-hand – definitely of the “funny-only-if-you-were-there/horrifying-if-you-weren’t” variety.

One of our favorite parts of the night was getting to visit with the head of the organization. Rev. Samuel Stephens was in town for the event, and it was exciting for our group to catch up with him and to hear about how his family and friends were doing in India. During dinner, Samuel spoke about the following problem:

India has a population of 1.3 billion people.
Nearly half are children under the age of 14.
That’s 600 million children, nearly twice the population of the US.

600 million children! With huge percentages of this number being children who are malnourished, without basic education, forced into child labor, victims of sex trafficking…

…and are without the name of Christ.

Each year, IGL works to reach over 10,000 kids with the Gospel through their Children’s Gospel Clubs.

I was filled with so much hope and so much conviction as I listened to Samuel speak. More than anything, I need to be committed to prayer for the children of India…For the work and will of God in that nation…For the strength of the Spirit in the lives of believers there and in the message that they preach.

It was a great night – it was such a blessing to visit with friends and family  and to reflect on what God is doing in India.

Visit the India Gospel League website.