Tag Archives: God

joy.

The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. – John 10:10

“As soon as we pay off our student loans, then we can really enjoy life.”

“As soon as my son passes the ‘terrible twos’ and stops throwing tantrums over dinner, we’ll be in good shape.”

“As soon as I learn how to master every chore in the most efficient way possible, then I can really relax on weekends.”

These are just a handful of “if, then” statements I’ve muttered to myself over the past few years. There are plenty more, but they are all essentially the same in that they don’t allow me to experience joy until certain stars align. I get myself so focused on the THEN, that I feel like I can’t possibly enjoy the NOW.

I was thinking about that this week as I was preparing the discussion for our monthly small group and the above scripture jumped out at me. It is Jesus speaking and, in most teachings, the “thief” he refers to Satan. And certainly I think this still applies. But there are plenty of other thieves that Satan employs in our lives that come to kill and destroy the abundant life that God has promised:

  • work stress
  • financial woes
  • health issues
  • comparison
  • mean people
  • and many more.

The thing about that scripture is that there isn’t a waiting period. It’s not like, “As soon as Lindsay gets back from vacation, then the thief will steal her joy with a pile of demanding emails.” Or, “As soon as Lindsay’s paid off all her student loans, then the thief will attack her with a four-digit hospital bill.” The thief doesn’t play that game.

But thankfully, neither does the Savior. He doesn’t say in that verse, “As soon as Lindsay goes on vacation, then I will give her an abundant life.” Or “As soon as Lindsay can figure out how to tithe on the regular, then I will rain money on her head.”

It is automatic. Abundant life is automatic.

Joy is automatic.

We just have to quit waiting for it to show up.

Sure I haven’t paid off all my student loans yet; but I can afford my rent and I can buy groceries at Publix.

And sure my kid is in his terrible twos; but being his mama, I’m also his absolute #1 favorite person in the whole entire world.

And the scoreboard of my life is currently LAUNDRY-49, LINDSAY-0, but I have clothes on my back to keep me warm (regardless of their state of cleanliness and/or wrinkledness).

Joy abounds RIGHT NOW. Be glad in it.

4 Comments

Filed under faith, God, personal

community.

“We’ve always done it that way” has never been an effective argument for me. Ever since I can remember, I have questioned the status quo (and have usually been overly dramatic about it — *flashback to me making a scene about the interpretation of my semi-progressive bible illustrations in 3rd grade by climbing a kumquat tree and refusing to come down*).

I truly believe that we humans were created by and in the image of a communal God, one whose strongest desire is to connect to each and every one of us and then watch us foster relationships among each other that emulate that kind of connection.

I’ve found as I’ve gotten older that it is both harder and easier to make those kinds of relationships work. It is more difficult because we are an overcommitted group of beings, we humans, having jobs and hobbies and obligations and whatnot, that suck up the majority of the 24 hours we are allotted each day. However, it is easier because, thanks to smartphones and tablets and computers and other gadgetry, we are always connected to everyone.

Like, almost literally everyone.

So why not capitalize on that connection we have? Why not embrace it? Why not try and use something modern to build relationships we’ve always been created to engage in?

Yesterday I wrote about how doing life on the internet can be a bad thing. Today, I’m going to do the opposite.

Because we ARE so overcommitted with everything, building relationships tends to be something that people just don’t have the time for. This goes for both friendships and romantic relationships and I’m here to say that, hey, don’t knock it till you try it. I mean, seriously. I’ve heard people dog on online dating, but several of my close friends have pretty great marriages thanks only to the internet.

(Okay, guys, I know that SOME people are creepers on the internet, but to push back on that, I’ve gone on enough dates with creepers who asked me out IN PERSON, soooo maybe the internet isn’t the cause of the creeps?)

Over the past year and a half I’ve been working at my church as the online campus coordinator, which basically means I’ve been tasked with creating a church community that isn’t confined to the four walls of a traditional brick-and-mortar church, but can be experienced on the WWW.

Tonight I saw some fruits of this past year’s labor when three people (who had never MET each other) and myself willingly got onto a Google Hangout while also simultaneously watching a church service online and, despite being nowhere near each other geographically and not ever being acquainted in person, we engaged in fun dialogue (both via webcam and chat), sang some songs, ate some snacks, and went to church.

Together.

Because internet.

Like, how cool is that?

Was it different from going to church in a building? Of course. Was that kind of the point? A little bit, yeah. Does that make it any less of a community than an in-person one?

I’d argue no.

So what if we’ve always done church one way? Can it not be done another way? Can it not be done in a way that transcends societal norms and also honors tradition?

Uh, yeah! And it’s awesome!

Feel free to comment below if you’re interested in this kind of gig. Because guess what — this is the internet. And, just like at church, everyone’s invited.

1 Comment

Filed under faith, God

the ministry of authenticity.

I love Sundays. I work at the church in the morning and then take my sleepy, almost two-year-old son (who already thinks he’s two, thankyouverymuch) home for his nap. He still takes teenager-long naps, usually four hours, which gives me time to either keep working or tidy the house (ha) or enjoy a little quiet “me” time. And although our cool but perpetually gooey white tiled floor is begging for a sweep and a mop (after, of course, all the toys and clothes are removed) I am here, painfully aware of the time that has passed since I last blogged, feeling guilty and ashamed.

What better place to be raw and exposed than in front of my blog/the entire Internet?

Being authentic has been a sacred echo in my life lately. Because I work at a church, most of my interactions and friends have been born out of that building, and many of my friends in the church have explained to me that they struggle with being their full selves all the time. They have separated their personalities into little compartments — the “church” self against the “social” self, the “intellectual” self, the “vocational” self, etc. People feel like they can’t be the same person they are around their pastor that they are around their friends and I don’t like that.

I remember when I first moved here, I told someone what my favorite movie was, and they were shocked that I had the courage to admit that fact about myself in public because it’s “so inappropriate”. (It’s Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, by the way.)

A few weeks after that interaction, a dear friend of mine was upset at church. When I asked her what was wrong, she choked back her tears and said, “It doesn’t matter. I’m just going to hold it all in and pretend I’m okay like we’re supposed to do.” I basically blew up at her.

“NO!” I shouted. “You can’t do that! You have to be okay being upset right now, because when the time comes that I need to be upset, I need to know that this is a place where it is okay for me to be upset!” (For the record, we miscarried a month later and I let the whole world have it.)

It was in that moment that my eyes opened up to this idea of dividing ourselves into different people and the danger it poses to us as Christians because, by falsifying our testimonies we dilute our ministry. 

I’m not entirely sure why but I’ve never been able to be more than one person. I literally can NOT be someone I’m not, despite the pressures put on me by other Christians. Like it or not, I’m all me all the time. I’m a Christian who also has the mouth of a sailor. I’m a Christian who gets angry and frustrated. I’m a Christian who (thankfully!) has friends who aren’t Christians. I’m a Christian who, by the grace of God alone battled (and overcame!) an eating disorder. I’m a Christian who likes admittedly bad Jim Carrey movies. I’m a Christian and there are dark parts of me that are dirty and messy and need to be washed clean every freaking day. And I’m sure I’m not alone, but so many people are afraid to admit it.

Why does this happen? Why do we Christians (or people in general, honestly) feel so much pressure to be perfect all the time? Why does the world end if we are seen with a beer, or seen walking out of a counselor’s office, or seen angry at the world for a minute because — gasp! — life sucks sometimes?

In Matthew 11:28-29 Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.”

Maybe I’m reading the wrong translation, but that doesn’t look like Jesus said, “You know what? Make sure you’re burden-free before you come to me. Make sure you’re smiling 24/7. Only come to me when you are in the best mood ever with no desperation or fault. Check your baggage at the door before you come chill with me.” So where do we get this crap from?

How can we fully expect to lead other people to Christ when we put on this unrelatable show of perfection? How can we expect anyone to buy into our faith when they can’t even buy into our own bullshit?

Let me be real. In about two weeks, we’ll celebrate our one-year anniversary of leaving the brown baby hills and crunchy sorta-dead grass of Tallahassee to live/do ministry/perpetually sweat in the ever-paradisical Naples. Moving here completely wrecked me. Much like ripping the bandage off of an infected wound, the pain was big and fierce. I feel like if I had felt comfortable enough to be authentic about my pain, I might have healed more quickly. But that took a long while.

But the good news is that healing has definitely happened. Scars remain, but the blood flow has ceased as I’ve done my best to bring people into my realm of authenticity. And I am grateful for the little changes I’m seeing: the tears shed on my own shoulder, the angry text messages, and the willingness to accept grace and love amidst it all. And just like that, both feet are inside the door. I am here, planted, ready to continue this life in this place with these people. My shoes no longer straddle the metaphorical threshold, the outside foot ready to bolt and drag the rest of me with it at the first chance. We are here. We are living. We are doing authentic life together and each day it becomes more beautiful.

That’s what Jesus came for, guys. In Luke 5:31-32 he says, “Healthy people don’t need a doctor—sick people do. I have come to call not those who think they are righteous, but those who know they are sinners and need to repent.”

Amen.

2 Comments

Filed under God, life, personal, transformation

a christian’s open apology to gay people.

Dear gay people,

Yesterday World Vision, a Christian organization that sponsors needy and hungry children all around the world, announced that they were lifting a ban they’d previously had in place on hiring people who were married to/in love with someone of the same sex. And I, a Christian, was elated.

“Oh, this is going to be huge!” I told my youth pastor husband when I got home from work. “Finally, we’re turning a corner!”

When I went to bed last night, I thanked God for this public proclamation and I also thanked him for making you, each and every one of you, just the way you are. And I thanked him because in that moment, I felt like you might actually know that you are really loved by Jesus. Because you are

This morning my son woke me up at 5:30 (he’d had a bad dream, I think) and after I snuggled him back to sleep I found myself having a hard time drifting back myself. So I mindlessly checked my Twitter feed, hoping the methodical scrolling through tweets would make my eyes heavy enough.

What a huge mistake.

I tumbled down a black hole of tweets from fundamentalist Christians and Christian organizations who were withdrawing their support from World Vision. Unfortunately, it seems that these people/organizations hold doctrine over love and serving the poor. And I got angry. And very awake.

I tossed and turned in my bed, fighting the anger, and then thought there was only one way to go about this. So I got out of bed and opened my laptop just to say one thing:

Gay people, on behalf of all Christians everywhere (including the ones who treat you this way) I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you’re consistently battling against a group of people whose entire platform is love. I’m sorry that you are made to feel like you’re broken by a group of people who are called to lay their own brokenness at the foot of the cross. I’m sorry that you’re made to feel like the “least of these” by a group of people who are called to serve and love the least of these and who also somehow ignore that call when it refers to you. I’m sorry that you’ve been told that your marriage is any less God-honoring than a heterosexual one, even if that heterosexual marriage ends in divorce.

Please know that you’re not alone, gay people. While I’m not gay and have never had to endure the pain you have endured from Christians, I’ve been hurt by them, too. And I grew up in the church!

When I was nine years old (a baby!) I was brought into a meeting with the children’s director and the lead pastor of the church I was attending. They sobbed as they told me that I was too outspoken and too loud and that, “God didn’t like that.” Being an opinionated kid without a shy bone in my body, I furrowed my brow.

“But didn’t he make me this way? And doesn’t he love me? Why would he make me be a certain way if he didn’t like it?”

They didn’t have an answer for me.

This was the first of many encounters like this; I’ve always had Christians wag their fingers at me for the way I talk, behave, or think. And as a Christian, sure, I believe that God does call me to be one of his priests. I do believe that he calls me to a higher standard of living. But he also calls me to be an ambassador for Christ, the one who dined with sinners and threw parties with tax collectors. And above all else, he calls me to love him and love his people. (Mark 12:30-31)

People have told me that I have a low view of scripture because of my love and affection for gay people. Maybe I do. But if loving others regardless of their sexual identity (and, you know, also occasionally sporting a polyester cotton blend) means I have a low view of scripture, then fine. I’ll concede that argument.

One last thing, gay people: if it makes you feel any better, my marriage isn’t any more biblical than yours. Sure, I may be a woman who is married to a man, but last I checked, my husband isn’t splitting his time between four other wives and 700 concubines. So fret not. You and your “unbiblical marriage” are in good company.

I love you. Each and every one of you. And Jesus does, too.

And once more, I’m so very sorry. Please forgive us/them. We know not what we do. (Someone said that once.)

Love,

Lindsay

10 Comments

Filed under God, personal, rants, the media

introducing nineveh.

At the moment, it’s 4:02PM on a Tuesday afternoon. I’m sitting on my couch — not inside a cubicle — while my baby peacefully naps in his crib and one of my cats does so behind my head.

Friday was my last day at my job and Sunday was our last day at our church. Many tears have already been shed and more are coming, no doubt, as the final pages of this chapter of our lives turn.

I suppose that, at this point in time, it’s safe to go ahead and blog publicly about what’s next for our family and to give Nineveh a proper introduction. And so — here goes.

We are moving to Naples! (Florida, not Italy — though the culture is so different down there it’s almost as if we are moving to a different country.)

544742_10102966117528543_833679630_n

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Lindsay, you must have failed Geography because Naples is not central Florida and that’s where you originally said you were headed.

First of all, that’s mean. I never failed Geography. I managed to slightly pass it thankyouverymuch. Second of all, yes, we realize that Naples is not central Florida. So here’s the Reader’s Digest (does anyone still get Reader’s Digest?) version of why we’re headed to So Fla:

Once Dan and I came to the realization that we had to move in order to build a better family life — ideally including me being the primary caregiver for Dax as opposed to him being in full time childcare — we chose central Florida because that’s where my family is. Dan and I were pretty pessimistic about finding a situation in which I would be able to stay at home with Dax, but we wanted to give it a shot. If we didn’t find anything, we knew we could at least count on someone in my family to care for Dax during the day. So Dan blanketed the central Florida area with his resume and we waited.

We had a few churches contact us for interviews and we even visited some. All of the churches we looked into were great, but none of them offered a situation in which our family dynamic would change to be more what we envisioned. I was getting pretty discouraged by this until Dan got an email from a man named Don using a nondescript email address.

In the email, Don said he saw Dan’s resume online and asked if he’d be interested in an opening for a youth pastor. Dan said yes, and the two continued to discuss the position. After a few emails, Dan finally asked Don where he was from. When he said that he was the Director of Ministry at a church in Naples, both of our hearts sank.

Don requested a lunch meeting with us and we agreed to go even though we both thought there was no way we’d end up taking a job in south Florida. It’s good practice, we thought.

But then, the lunch meeting went really well. Which led to a Skype interview with a handful of staff members that also went really well. Which led to an onsite visit and interview that went extremely well…

What came out of all of this is nothing short of amazing, providential, and praiseworthy. Not only was Dan offered the position, but I was also offered a job coordinating the church’s online campus — simulcasts, social media, and BLOGGING!!!! — that is set to launch this summer.

The best part of all of this? The, like, super-duper God part?

Apart from staff meetings on Tuesdays and church on Sundays, I get to do this job completely from home. And, those times I have to be onsite, Dax gets to come with me and hang out in a fully staffed nursery at the church so I can still be near him.

As you can see, there is no way we could have been any more blessed. God has provided for us in a way I (maybe we) never thought possible. And we are stoked.

We have applied to live in a condo down there; once that’s approved, we’ll move in and then start working!

This does not make the pain of us leaving Tallahassee and the community we have here any less real, but it does give us peace about the God we serve and the callings He has for our family.

So. Now I need your help.

What the heck do we do in Naples? Besides go to the beach, I mean?

Ready, GO!

5 Comments

Filed under faith, God, gushes, life, motherhood

things (people) i love thursday! (april 25, 2013)

This week is our last week at our church so I’ve done a lot of crying. I don’t really have any other words to say about this week (it really has kind of sucked) so this TILT will be kind of short. But also kind of personal.

embaptism_1

PEOPLE WHO HAVE MADE ME SMILE AT SOME POINT BUT WILL LIKELY ALSO MAKE ME CRY THIS WEEK:

  • Dan.
  • Dax.
  • Eric.
  • Emily.
  • Shana.
  • Levi.
  • Lori.
  • Savannah.
  • Beka.
  • Ashley.
  • Evan.
  • Suzanne.
  • Libby.
  • Rori.
  • Sydney.
  • Sarah(s).
  • Zack(s).
  • Sammie.
  • Kelby.
  • Kyle.
  • Liz.
  • Hannah.
  • Karen.
  • Mary.
  • Lindsey.
  • Hookers.
  • Caleb.
  • Nora.
  • All the students/leaders in E3SM.
  • All the kids in E3Kids.
  • Everyone else at E3.

And I have to stop because I’m crying in my cubicle. See you all Sunday. One last time.

2 Comments

Filed under faith, God, gushes, life, things i love thursday

exile, nineveh, and the promised land.

Dan and I both have been offered jobs somewhere. And we have accepted them. In a couple weeks, we are leaving Tallahassee. I’m sorry for the vagueness but my compulsion to blog is way too strong to ignore, despite still being in that weird limbo state of Am I allowed to say anything? Do all the right people know yet? Is it okay for me to put this on the Internet without offending someone or, worse, getting someone fired? 

Since I don’t know the answers to all of those questions yet, I’ll be brief about the details for now. But what I will say is this:

  • Where we are going is somewhere neither of us ever dreamed we’d go. It’s also not central Florida like we’d originally planned.
  • The jobs we have taken are not jobs we could have secured ourselves. They are jobs that, without getting too spiritual on you, were definitely divinely gifted to us.
  • The place we’re going starts with the same letter as Nineveh which makes me LOL because I’m still 100% Jonah. (Side note: this place, however, is NOTHING LIKE NINEVEH. I REPEAT. NOTHING. At least, not as far as I could tell when we visited. There may be big fish, though, within an uncomfortable proximity.)

Yesterday at church — a community in which I’ve served, grown, and transformed over the past nine years — I sat, surrounded by a handful of my friends, and listened as my pastor (and dear, dear friend) gave a simultaneously hope-filled and despairing message on what it means to be in exile. That is, what it means to have everything you know about life completely change in an instant. 

In just a couple weeks, that’s us. Everything we know about life is going to change in an instant. (Or, rather, in one long day of driving and unpacking.)

As Eric spoke, the walls started closing in on me. My chest tightened with unrelenting grief and, before he even hit his first point, the tears were flowing. I couldn’t help it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a mom now so I’m biologically wired to uncontrollably sob at anything, or if it’s because the reality that we are moving away was just too heavy, or if it was because hearing Eric’s voice in that building reminded me that soon I won’t be able to hear his voice in that building, or if it was because I’m Jonah, or if it was a combination of it all. But once the first tear fell, I couldn’t stop the rest of them from following. I just sat in that chair and cried for the better (worse?) part of an hour, mourning the loss of everything I know and trembling at the impending gain of exile.

But this “exile” isn’t bad. Dan and I wouldn’t have accepted these jobs if it were. It’s a HUGE blessing. I’ve no doubt that the manna will spring up in abundance while we are in this “wilderness”. But it is wilderness none the less. It is an unfamiliar place, devoid of the support network I’ve built up over the past decade.

And I am in mourning. Bad. 

The thing about exile, though, is that (again — sorry about the spiritual stuff) when you read the bible, both the Israelites and Jesus experienced exile before blessings. The first thing Jesus did after getting baptized was peace out for 40 days and listen to Satan say terrible things to him. And don’t get me started on the row the Israelites have hoed. Oy. I feel like the biggest toolbox for even trying to draw a connection to what they’ve been through.

All that to say, I bet if you could Google Maps it, or ask Siri how to get there, you’d find that you’ve got to go through the wilderness to get to the promised land.

So, bring it on, exile. And Nineveh. We’ve got work to do. (Also, bring it on Kleenex. You’ve got your work cut out for you.)

8 Comments

Filed under faith, God, life