the one where summer disappeared.

can someone please explain to me how it is august already?

just yesterday, it was march, and i was in tampa visiting some dear friends.

just yesterday, it was april, and i was celebrating 19 years as a christ-follower and 3 years as a covenant member of the summit and planning our Spring Banquet.

just yesterday, it was may, and i was preparing for my summer interns to arrive and celebrating my dad’s birthday/

just yesterday, it was june, and i was re-learning how to manage people (i haven’t been a boss in several years) and making katie watch pitch perfect for the first time in her life before she left for romania.

just yesterday, it was july … and i was saying goodbye to my granny. she woke up in heaven on july 25, and i’m pretty sure jesus’ first words to her (after ‘welcome home, child. well done!’) were ‘finally! ruby irene, i’ve been waiting for you to come home cause i sure love your collards!’ my granny was a sassy woman who loved jesus and her grands with all her might (which was considerable for such a small person!, constantly had her hands in the earth, and made the best durn spoon bread you ever put in your mouth. i miss her.

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but today, it is august. we bought an antenna (hello and thank you, amazon prime now) so that we could watch the olympics, and can i just say that the ladies of team usa are making me so proud to be an american! and michael phelps just won his 21st olympic medal … what a time to be alive. i’ve cheered on #teamusa, gotten hopping mad about the insane amounts of sexism in the olympics (no, katie ladecky does not swim like a man- she swims like katie freaking ladecky), and googled ways to hide all election ads from the rest of my whole life. oh, and i’ve lived in north carolina for 5 whole years now!

do you ever wake up and look at the calendar in disbelief? i’m tired of doing that, so i’m trying to learn some new rhythms. so i made some life-schedule changes- i don’t write much, but i’m almost finished with book #30 so far this year. i took the summer off from leading my small group, but have been able to do more one on one discipleship. i took a break from serving at my church, but sleep more and find myself so eager to attend services on the weekends that i can hardly stand it. i took a break from twitter, and it was the worst thing i ever did. i’m back now, twitter!

fewer people, deeper relationships. less driving, more reading. less bustle, more pup-snuggles. less waving, more hugging. less stress, more fro-yo. less me, more spirit. and always more coffee.

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the one with the long game (or, a case for timehop).

i have a love-hate relationship with my timehop app.

i hate being reminded of how bad i was at social media. like painfully terrible. i’ve been on twitter since december of 2008 … that’s a lot of years of me thinking i was cool. and facebook? there were some disturbing photos … i went through some dark years with my hair stylist.

i love being reminded of funny conversations i had with people on this day three years ago, and seeing those moments i captured in a fresh light … sometimes i don’t remember the significance the moment held back then, but the reminders are a good push to reconnect with friends (and give me hope that my bad hair days are behind me). there have also been a number of instances where timehop reminded me of God’s goodness and faithfulness toward me or a friend- and i really love being reminded about that!

every july 30, i’m reminded that my dad’s life was spared when he had a horrific motorcycle accident. the following days remind me to be thankful that he had a great surgeon, incredible care, and a faithful church family. five and a half years later, those evidences of God at work are a comfort- something tangible to hold on to when other areas of my life are floundering. every april 10, i see images and posts from my trip to haiti. for the last couple of years, january 16 has reminded me that i lost a brother from that trip, and i grieve him every year.

but yesterday i came across a string of tweets from 6 years ago- 2010, back when i was a seminarian whose idea of a good time was to go to church planting conferences with her guy friends (wait … that’s still my idea of a good time). apparently early in the morning of february 4, 2010, i crammed into the car with 4 friends and we road-tripped down to raleigh for a regional advance the church event that was held at this place called the summit church. i remember hearing jd greear and david platt for the first time ever that day, and that bliss was too much of a wuss to tell matt boswell that he liked his boots and i had to take that one for the team. i remember the guy at chipotle winking at me and giving me a free refill of that heavenly guacamole.

but those aren’t the things that i spent yesterday pondering. i spent yesterday grateful that God is in it for the long haul- that his work in us is done in perfect time, that he doesn’t waste anything, and that his designs for my life cannot be thwarted. i had no inkling that a year later i would be on a church plant launch team headed back to raleigh. i had no idea that said church would be one of the mechanisms of my undoing, that i would descend into the darkest months i’ve ever known, and that i would end up worshipping as a covenant member at the same church that hosted that event in 2010. and you know what? i ended up going to summit after leaving the other church because it was the only other one in raleigh i could think of, where i knew i’d be safe. if you think that is a coincidence, think again. i don’t need timehop to remind me that this time three years ago, i had resigned my leadership position in that church plant, and ended up at summit as a refugee. but in april of this year, i’ll celebrate three years of belonging at summit- three years of covenant community and working to bring the kingdom of God to earth with the people i call my church family. three years of walking through life’s peaks and valleys with my small group.

i have no clue if i’ll be in this place for the rest of my life. i’d like to be … it took years, but i have fallen in love with raleigh, and i’ve put down roots in the city of oaks and in the summit church. and while i do ask God for that- the staying and continuing to graft in here- i am confident that the work he has begun in me will be completed. sanctification is never a straight line, and my squiggly line might lead somewhere else, but the faith to walk the turns that may come has been and will continue to be forged in the memories of God’s past faithfulness. so i’ll keep opening timehop every morning, and keep adding bricks to the road he’s setting out before me … let’s see where it goes.

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the one where i’m getting old.

2016 is the year that i’ll turn 34. i think this is the point where i have to say i’m in my ‘mid-thirties’ instead of my ‘early thirties’ … yikes.

turning 33 in 2015 wasn’t so bad- several of my close girlfriends also turned 33 last year, so we christened it ‘the year of our Lord’ (since the popular opinion is that Jesus was 33 when he died) and call it #YOOL because we’re hilarious like that.

yesterday morning, i had a hair appointment … and it left me feeling like i should be 65 instead of 33. here’s how it went down:

first things first. my usual salon is this amazing place downtown- the Junction. (seriously, go see Megan Perry and tell her i sent you!) but i’ve been growing my hair out to perm it again (old woman thing #1), and no one at the junction does perms. apparently their usual clientele doesn’t request them … but one of the other stylists stepped in to save the day! she recommended and gave me info for a stylist at another salon who did great perms. well, the salon was jcpenney. nothing wrong with that- i used to get my hair done there when i taught preschool, but that was about 12 years ago. and i’m pretty sure it’s a popular salon with my granny’s friends. well, ok … i called and made the appointment.

i show up yesterday, and am the only person under 45 in the whole place. there were three stylists and three clients (and the other two clients had each brought a friend … possibly their mothers?), so there were 8 of us … me and a group of old ladies. all three of us clients were getting perms, so we all got high together- just me and my old lady pals. i was also informed that none of these stylists had ever given someone under the age of 50 a perm before. alrighty then.

sitting at home last night (alone, cuddled up with the dog because that’s what single people do), i got sucked into a vortex of cuteness and followed 13 different dog accounts on instagram.

at least i’m not at risk of becoming a cat lady?

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the one where i’m thinking about discipleship

i’ll just warn you … it’s monday, and my pastor preached a good one yesterday. which got me thinking some thinks (which we all know is dangerous and leads to another rambling blog post). between getting my non-so-inner nerd fired up in the sermon, a really great time of catching up and planning with my co-small group leader, and a thought provoking work meeting last night, my brain is about to spill over.

first, that catching up/planning: C and i work hard to meet up every week (or as often as possible if weekly doesn’t work out)- to catch up, reconnect, talk about how her relationship with her boyfriend is going, drink coffee, dream dreams for the ladies in our small group, and plan group for the next couple of weeks. we try to make sure that one of us is aware of what’s happening on the church calendar, in the lives of our ladies, etc. this weekend, our conversation centered on kicking off the new year. we’re switching the day the group meets, nailing down the things we know about that will disrupt our regular group meetings, working on the calendar, and planning for the study we’re doing as a group (spoiler alert: we’re doing the sermon based curriculum because thewholebibleinayear). we also talked about a problem we’ve been experiencing (and that we hear from many other small group leaders)- people who just won’t commit … or say they do, but rarely show up and rarely communicate. let me go ahead and say that we have a fantastic small group! but like any other group of single, young professionals, life has a way of getting really full, really fast. i realized that we talk about commitment to group, encourage communication, etc, but something is still apparently missing. we all love each other, yes; but we are not all constructing our lives around our community. yes, i know that the idea i just said sounds super cultish and controlling; no, i didn’t say it wrong. hear me out:

i read several articles on discipleship that have been simmering in the back of my mind for a couple of months now. some were written as part of a series, the others happened to be along a similar vein … but like i said, i’ve been ruminating. there are two main ideas here: imitation (not just being a copycat- think paul’s numerous exhortations to ‘imitate me as i imitate christ), and doctrine. imitation is a concept that i think goes against the grain for many of us – we are indoctrinated with ‘you do you’ and radical individualism, not to mention the idea that our version of morality is the one that counts, and that we should follow our hearts. we are willing to accept the theory that following christ is counter-cultural – and even to act on it, to a degree- but we balk at the idea of taking it as far as patterning every aspect of our lives around looking like jesus. one article talked about it this way:

3 Strands of Disciple-Making

1. Informing – What We Believe

Part of disciple-making is helping people understand what they believe. It includes the inculcation of information, the teaching of biblical facts and Christian doctrines.

2. Instructing – What We Do

Another part of disciple-making is helping people adopt the practices that make up the Christian life. We walk alongside others, modeling for them what it looks like to live the way of Christ.

3. Imitating – How We Reason

But there’s a third part of disciple-making that is necessary, something a full-orbed vision of “imitation” gives us. This strand refers to helping people reason like Christians who have been formed by “what we believe” and “what we do.” The imitation of reasoning is especially needed on issues where clear instructions are not present in Scripture.

If you only focus on the first two elements (informing and instructing), then you wind up with people who are not fully equipped to respond to the conundrums they encounter in life.

What does your disciple do when he or she confronts an issue that isn’t resolved by the checklist of doctrines to believe, or the common practices of the Christian life?

another article (same author) uses ‘apprenticeship’ language:

Teaching and the Modeling of the Christian Life

The biblical vision of teaching, particularly with its emphasis on apprenticeship, opens up new windows as to how “teaching” needs to include both the delivery of Christian truth and the modeling of a Christian lifestyle. Belief and action go together. Schaeffer again: “It seems to me that the real question is what we really believe. It seems to me that we do tend to have two creeds—the one which we believe in our intellectual assent, and then the one which we believe to the extent of acting upon it in faith. More and more it seems to me that the true level of our orthodoxy is measured by this latter standard rather than the former. And more and more it seems to me that there is no such thing as an abstract Christian dogma—that each Christian dogma can be experienced on some level.” So dogma and experience go together. How does that shape our vision of “teaching”? In particular, what does “teaching them” in the Great Commission refer to? Sermons? Bible studies? Lectures? Maybe. But there’s a clue there in the text itself. Teaching them to obey all that Christ has commandedThis necessarily involves both modeling and verbal teaching.

one of the other articles rolling around in my head is one i’ve already posted about a couple of times- this author uses ‘improvisation’ & ‘development’ language: Why Theology Matters

Developing doctrine in the church is one more in a series of improvisations: the disciples’ story is an improvisation on the history of Israel. Jesus Christ is himself an improvisation on a covenant theme: God’s steadfast love and righteousness. In each case, there is both creativity (newness) and fidelity to what preceded (sameness). Improvisation accents the importance of both speaking and acting out faith’s understanding. The development of doctrine belongs not to speculative but to pastoral theology. In each case, doctrine helps the church to know what to say, think, and do in the face of new challenges. // The development of doctrine is a matter of thinking biblically in new situations.Scripture shapes our vision of the whole, instills mental habits, forms the desire of our hearts, and trains us in the way of discipleship. Doctrine is essential for training in discipleship, and that includes missiological improvisation—knowing how to go on in the same gospel way in different situations. // Doctrinal development is ultimately a matter of the church’s faith improvisation in accordance with the Scriptures and with earlier faithful improvisations (e.g., creedal formulations). The development of doctrine is part and parcel of the mission of the church. Doctrine helps disciples individually and corporately to make right decisions about what to say and do in order to participate rightly in and continue the same drama of redemption in which Israel, Jesus Christ, and the apostles played leading parts. The purpose of theology is to make disciples, players in God’s drama of redemption who are able to play their parts with faithful and creative understanding.

i think my church does a great job with the doctrine end of the equation … and i’d like to think i do the same in regards to my small group. but maybe i’m not as strong on the imitation end as i’d like to be. some of that could come from a distinct lack of available female mentors- there are terribly few women who are both worth imitating and available enough relationaly to imitate. there is indeed a need for titus 2 relationship (older women teaching younger women), and i’ll confess to having a hard time finding that in my life. but even that doesn’t give me a pass- i have the scriptures at my disposal and the holy spirit indwelling me.

i also think my church has a good sense of ‘community’ (which can be kind of ambiguously defined sometimes), but i think there is a distinction to be made between community and the kind of discipleship that includes imitation/apprenticeship/development. too often we equate those things with mere proximity, and leave out the intensity of relationship that brings about change. the way i hear community defined most often is ‘doing life together’ … i don’t disagree with that definition- i have a community (friends, small group ladies, family) that i ‘do life with’. we eat meals together, some of us ever grocery shop together!, we spend hours talking about nothing at all and everything at the same time, we worship together, we confess sin to one another, we learn about the word together … but those are not the kind of relationships i’m talking about here. i am a big fan of this kind of relational discipleship, but i can’t help but feel there is something lacking.

am i the only one who thinks this? i know this has gotten convoluted and is now allthethoughts. hopefully, it’s no secret that i love theology and discipleship. it is a credit to those who discipled me first (shout out to my peeps at word of life!) that i don’t consciously separate what i know from how i (try to) live. the more i disciple others, the more i am realizing that this isn’t normal … and that it is a major difficulty in most discipleship relationships. i also didn’t realize until now that i didn’t have a way to articulate this (since i was taught not to separate the two). i’m finding it troubling and helpful all at the same time.

this has gotten lengthy, so i’ll get to the sermon thoughts and work stuff another time … be warned😉

a couple of other posts that influenced this one: is it arrogant to tell other christians to imitate your example? and recovering the role of imitation in discipleship today.

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the one where 2015 is over

2015, you were a pretty good year.

my roommates and i started hosting monthly dinners in our home in march- having friends and food around our table on a regular basis has been one of the best things we’ve ever done.

having these friends around my table last night made me the happiest girl. cooking is my love language.

A photo posted by sjlinton (@sjlinton) on

i learned to play settlers of catan. (not sure whether this should go under good things that happened, or things that will eventually ruin my life …)

my internship at summit allowed me to attend the gospel coalition conference in orlando in april. my inner nerd was so happy!!!! (i was also the only woman there who dared to wear shorts one day)

i started a new job at the end of april. this job isn’t something i ever thought i’d do … it is very challenging, but i love it! those years of waiting for God to move have borne fruit.

my friend martha moved to raleigh in may! she and i have been friends since fall of ’07- so thankful to have her close by again!

our family went to the beach again in june- i came back with a slight tan and having read 9 books in 7 days. we ate ice cream every day and i found a good coffee shop on the island. #priorities

sarah and i celebrated a year with our sweet pup! penny is now 3 years old, and such a spoiled rotten girl. we’re besotted.

i had purple hair for a month! then i had blue hair for a month! (true confession … i LOVED it.)

i turned 33. (maybe the hair was my mid-life crisis?)

I WENT TO INDIA! for 16 days! i ate food that i can’t pronounce, used a squatty potty on a moving train, taught a discipleship class to a group of church planters, and left part of my heart in an orphanage in hyderabad.

i read lots of great stuff this year. here’s some posts i enjoyed, and a link to the list of books i will admit to reading.

this barn-burner from scott sauls: the best and worst ways to take a moral stand

Taking up a cross…the radical, self-giving love kind that Jesus spoke about…was a deadly endeavor in the Roman Empire. Eleven of Jesus’ twelve disciples died as martyrs because they took up a cross, having assumed on themselves all of the costs, risks, and inconveniences of love.

The early church also understood that love did not guarantee their safety. To the contrary, sometimes love threatened their safety.

books i read in 2015: http://amzn.com/w/2RO11PH4EDAL6
bye felicia.

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the one where he won’t give up.

today has been one of those days where i’m not just reminded that God is at work in & around me- that work is literally all i can see today.

from a couple of encounters with people this weekend to the series we’re in as a church, i keep coming back to this: God created us for communion with him, and for good works. the beautiful and mysterious part of this is that it is God himself who made a way for us to be in communion with him (coming to earth as Jesus, living perfectly, and dying in our place to atone for our sins), and it is God who does good works through us (the ministry of the Holy Spirit). anything good, any growth, comes from God.

there are moments, like right now, where i say AND believe that God is powerful enough to save and change even the worst of us. i know that the cross proves his love, and the resurrection proves his power- if God can raise Jesus from the dead, he can (and wants to) save anyone. he can (and wants to) walk with us as he removes what is dead and decaying in us- hate, fear, despair. he wants us to live in real color, and for his power and goodness to be displayed in us. there is no good in this life apart from him, and he does have good in store for us!

we know this, at least in theory. but i know we can all think of someone that we don’t think it applies to. someone that maybe we are or used to be friends with who has really screwed up their lives (and maybe the lives of others, too). we may have tried to walk with them, we may have tried to help them, we may have gotten burned … and in our hurt or anger, written them off. and i think there does come a point in some relationships where we have to say ‘i believe that God wants to heal you, but it’s possible that i might not be part of that healing’ and some healthy distance might need to happen; but more often than not, we simply write that person off. we say with our lives that we don’t believe that God is powerful enough (or that he doesn’t love that person enough) to heal that person.

for every story we have about how we’ve seen the power of the gospel transform someone’s life, there is a story of someone we don’t believe the gospel is powerful enough to touch.

today has revolved around conversations of how i’ve seen God prove me wrong when i believed he wasn’t powerful enough to transform someone. i actually think he takes pleasure in proving me wrong! i think he loves to remind me that he is good, that he is powerful, and that he is in the business of making dry bones dance, and making dead things come alive.

being told that i was wrong isn’t usually on my list of favorite things, but i’m loving it today.

higher than the mountains that i face

stronger than the power of the grave

constant in the trial and the change

this one thing remains

you love never fails

never gives up

never runs out on me

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the one where i might be an escape artist.

i like to consider myself a reader.

up until last year, i probably read about 100 books a year, easily. but somewhere in there, there was a shift. i think part of it was just that i wanted to be busy, so i spent more time in coffee shops with people. i started watching more TV. my sister moved in. we got a dog. my job got more demanding and my schedule wasn’t as free.

[side note: there is a boy standing outside the coffee shop i’m sitting in and i swear i have never seen pants that tight on a guy. like, YIKES tight. i can’t un-see that. send help and $1200!]

i went to the beach with my family over the summer, which was a week of absolute bliss. (except for the awful piece of fabric they tried to call a mattress. my back has never been the same.) we laid out in the sun, mostly stayed out of the water (hello, 8+ shark attacks in NC this year), talked life and deep mysteries with my sister, argued about politics with my dad, walked the beach with my mom, and READ NINE books. that is more than one per day that we were gone! all fiction. most that i would entertain the notion of reading again. all new authors- i had not read their works before. i’ve added 7 more books to the tally since then, and i’m sure there were a few earlier in the year- i lose track of the ones i read in the kindle app on my phone- but the total is somewhere around 30 … and i know i’m bad at math, but i’m certain that 30 is quite a bit less than 100.
i read a book earlier this week. i started a new book today. granted, the one i started today is for book club, but at least it keeps me reading! it actually makes me sad when i look at this … partially because i’m slightly ashamed that i’ve only read 30 books this year, but also because i actually enjoy reading, and i haven’t been making it a priority.

i think somewhere along the line, i needed to put down all the christian living/leadership/smart books i was reading because they weren’t edifying- they were either making me angry, or they were puffing me up. so i did, but then went too far with fiction and began to use it as an escape. if i was engrossed in the life and times of some fictional character, my hurts and fears weren’t so prominent.

we got a roku for christmas (which is the cheaper alternative to apple tv, and it works with ‘dumb’ tv’s, so WIN/WIN), which was the best adult gift i’ve ever given myself. but with it came netflix and amazon prime and BLACKLIST. man, i love that show. i started watching season 1 with a friend and got hooked. then i made sarah watch it and we FLEW through seasons 1&2. i think we’re making ourselves wait for all of season 3 and not watching it online … i could be wrong. we’ll see how strong my self control is. but now i probably watch 7-9 hours of tv a week instead of reading or being with other humans. the time relaxing with sarah is great, and i have a very hard time turning down snuggle time with my dog (exhibit a in why i’ll be single forever). i realize that the hours i spend watching tv are below average for my age bracket, but that is more than hours in a week than ever in my adult life.

is that bad? i don’t know, really. answering that would require asking myself alot more questions … like what am i watching/reading? why am i watching/reading? am i neglecting people by watching/readin? is my home in need of the attention i am giving to tv or a book? is my brain turning to mush? should i be spending the $9 on netflix every month? does watching tv actually help me relax or rest? am i filling my mind and imagination with material that makes me smarter? does the book i’m reading make me engage with the world, or hide from it? does this make me smarter, or actively make me more stupid and vapid?

am i just thinking too much? (short answer: yes. and no.) but as any time-management guru/article will tell you, there are so many hours in the day, and hours you use in one place are robbed from another. so we must prioritize! (ok, so i could have made this up, but i am pretty sure i read it somewhere.) where is the line between self-care and escapism? does this hour spent watching tv or reading relax or inform me so that i can do something else better? or does it remove me from reality and steal my brain power from things that are really important?

i get stuck in the tension between rest and work so often. i love my job … but it is intense. i use so much of my mental and emotional energy for work that i often come home spent, and don’t want to do anything else. you know what else i love? my small group. you know, those ladies that i’ve committed to discipling and walking through life with? and you know what else i love? my house. my sister. my dog. sleep.

i am so much law, and so little grace. law is safer, because it is measureable. it comes with black and white boundaries- work now, rest then. grace is beautiful, but in a terrifying sense- i do not know how to receive grace, and rest, and it is finished. law makes me feel useful, gives me value because i do something that adds to the world. law is productive. and i love little more than being productive. but productive can be sinful. productive applauds what i do and how fast i do it, and looks out of the corner of its eye at grace, just walking with the steadiness that knows its value doesn’t come from its productivity … because grace is done. grace has nothing left to prove.

law tells me that there is no room for me to read for pleasure; that watching criminal minds with my sister is time i could be spending cleaning my house or preparing materials for my upcoming trip to india. but grace says otherwise. grace says that sitting on the couch acknowledges that i’m human, and weary, and in need of rest. grace hands me the novel and helps me unclench my shoulder muscles and relax my mind so that i can find pleasure in the created thing that was a good gift from the creator.

law can take a hike.

bye, i’m gonna go read a book.

 

 

 

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the one where I wrote for SEBTS.

Can I tell you guys a secret? This life looks nothing like I planned when I was in seminary. I never wanted to move to North Carolina. I was not interested in church planting. I certainly never planned on combining those two things! I definitely did not see that church plant implosion coming, and I never could have predicted that I’d spend over a year in counseling, be diagnosed with clinical depression, and actually say these words out loud to God: ‘I don’t believe that you love me. I don’t believe you’re good.’

…. I’m writing over at SEBTS Women’s Life today about my job, how I ended up there, and what that means for seminary students. Keep reading over at SEBTS Women’s Life blog!

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the one with the links: september edition

september has been good to me. read this stuff and it can be good to you too:

this doozy of a post from hannah anderson: leveling the playing field

If we don’t invest our resources in equipping women, our hearts won’t be invested either. For a local congregation, this may mean budgeting to bring in a female speaker, hiring more women on staff, or helping women afford theological education. When resources are on the line, we’re more likely to care about the final outcome. In other words, when we place a bet, we’ll watch the game.

this album:

this barn-burner from scott sauls: the best and worst ways to take a moral stand

Taking up a cross…the radical, self-giving love kind that Jesus spoke about…was a deadly endeavor in the Roman Empire. Eleven of Jesus’ twelve disciples died as martyrs because they took up a cross, having assumed on themselves all of the costs, risks, and inconveniences of love.

The early church also understood that love did not guarantee their safety. To the contrary, sometimes love threatened their safety.

this lip-sync battle:

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the one with the highlight reel: september edition

have we figured out yet that i’m not terribly consistent at blogging? it sure isn’t because i don’t have any thinks to share! i have a lot of thinks, i just don’t have a lot of time to write the thinks. so basically, my head could explode at any moment from all the thinks i’ve been thinking. (i’m tired just looking at that sentence.) but today is the last day of september, and it has been a pretty good month. so many reasons to smile and thank jesus for!

smallgroupgenerations copyfirst, (and this is technically from august 29, but it is my blog, so i do what i want) this. you guys, this photo represents God’s faithfulness to me on so many levels. when i started my undergrad degree at age 21, i asked God to bring me younger students to disciple. he has never stopped answering that prayer. when i moved to north carolina 4 years ago, i was single and childless (oh, yeah … i still am) and thinking often and deeply about the idea of progeny and legacy. a friend spoke wisely into my anxiety: “those we disciple are our spiritual progeny. our legacy isn’t necessarily the children we birth- discipleship makes us spiritual midwives in that we get to be part of new birth. discipleship makes us mothers as we shepherd other women deeper into the faith.” i’ve led small groups before, both adult and student groups, and been blessed to disciple a number of women in one-to-one relationships- but recent events have reminded me of my wise friend’s words. i attended my church’s small group leader conference with my apprentice leader (far left), and we sat with my apprentices from last year (2nd and 3rd from left) and a woman from their group who is starting a new small group (far right). this new leader looked across the table at me and told me “you’re my grandma!”. i won’t lie, it took me a hot minute to understand what she was saying … and in less than a hot second, i was ugly-crying (all the emotions). i am a mess. yes, i love leading … sometimes i’m even good at it. but i’m a mess. and these women have been under my leadership during some of the messiest and darkest seasons of my life- seasons that i didn’t think would bear any fruit. and yet … i’m a grandma. God’s good that way.

famapplepicking copywe went to visit the fam earlier this month and got to do one of my favorite things: APPLE PICKING! i love fall … my birthday, cooler weather, everything apple and all the pumpkin! our chinese sister had never been to an apple orchard before, so it was really special to be there for her introduction to fall in virginia. the girls all wore flannel, and we just loved being together. arent’t my parents the cutest?!

beth copywhile i was home, i got to celebrate my beautiful friend beth’s wedding. i’ve been friends with her for over 7 years, and i absolutely love the woman that she has become. beautiful inside and out! we have walked together through dark seasons, broken relationships, and distance, and i’m thankful to have been there to cry and rejoice as she pledged to follow Christ alongside a good man. plus, it was a good excuse to wear a pink dress and gaze open-mouthed at the show the blue ridge mountains were putting on that day🙂

the j.lo and i celebrated a year of #pennythewarriorprincess being a linton! love that pup.

we also switched bedrooms- i don’t think we’ll be making ‘the great migration’ an annual thing, but it was good to look at our home through new eyes.

last friday was monthly ‘nest family dinner. we made homemade pizza, and laughed til we nearly peed ourselves.

i celebrated 5 months of working at my new job! it stretches me, terrifies me, and delights me all at once.

so long, september. you’ve been kind.

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