Tag Archives: think about this!

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 that God wants me to see

remember how we were talking about the way we start thinking about something, and suddenly that thing is EVERYWHERE?

well, it’s still happening.

God, in His unfathomable goodness (and impeccable sense of humor), keeps bringing little things before me … whether it’s a blog post, a magazine article, a text from a friend, a remark in passing, a weird dream … anything, really.  today its been text messages and this article from sara hagerty:

It would have been easier to shut myself off to these mothers or to shut myself off to hope. Either option would provide a reprieve (because how else do you grapple with unmet, God-given desire and a room where you’re kept waiting?).

Everything in me wanted to shove down hope.

……..

Hope cracks us open to that unseen—to the place where God dwells.

Hope—when it’s foolish and unlikely and you have more than a dozen physical reasons not to hope—is the entry point into a life of keeping your eyes locked on an unseen God while living in the everyday reality that doesn’t yet match that for which you’re praying.

To hope that He can do the impossible while also recognizing that He may sovereignly choose not to leaves us in the unique position of reaching for the emotions residing in His heart. Hope opens up new, broken-yet-faithful ways to approach the almighty God.

Hope moves us from intellectually relating to Him as a transactional God, to sitting on His lap and calling Him Daddy. This perspective shift, birthed from holding on to tenuous hope, may be the very reason He keeps us in that waiting room.

then there was also thisfrom sarah bessey (the sara(h)s apparently write allthegoodstuff): 

Barbara Kingsolver wrote in her book, Animal Dreams, “The very least you can do in your life is figure out what you hope for. And the most you can do is live inside that hope. Not admire it from a distance but live right in it, under its roof.”

These days, that sounds a lot like Hebrews 11 to me. So right now I think faith is figuring out what I hope for – redemption, wholeness, shalom, justice, love, life, one small baby to live and not die, all of it – and then fearlessly living under that roof.

 

hopeful. fearless. words i don’t usually use to describe myself. but oh, how i want them to be true.

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the one where you meet penny.

guys, its fall. officially. i even wore boots today.

we’re down to three weeks between me and the bestdayoftheyearotherthanchristmas (aka my birthday).

my sister and i are now the proud co-parents to #pennythewarriorprincess- she came home with us from the wake county animal shelter three weeks ago, and its safe to say she has us wrapped around her sweet, spotted paws. she’s kinda the cutest dog EVER.

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these are happy things! another thing that makes my heart happy is when i get to think all the thinks- so here’s some thinks i’ve been thinking.

this post from hannah anderson: college girls: education, imago dei, and the gospel

Her entire experience of Christianity was based in her relationship to a husband or father and NOT in relationship to Christ.

This is not simply an area of misunderstanding. This is a line of thinking that represents a much deeper, much more insidious problem. One that boarders on heresy because it distorts, and at times rejects, a key doctrine of the gospel: The doctrine of imago Dei.

The doctrine of imago Dei teaches that every human being, every man and woman, every boy and, yes, every girl is made in God’s image, destined to reflect His character and to represent Him on this earth. Our core identity comes from God’s identity. Pay attention: imago Dei is not simply a starting point for other doctrines, nor is it simply a means of ascribing equal worth to men and women (although it does). No, imago Dei is the most basic paradigm for how we understand our existence.

It is a truth that runs through the warp and weave of the entire Scripture. It informs everything about the gospel—what we were created to be, what sin is, how redemption happens, and what we will one day become. It is also the basis on which Jesus Christ, the God-Man, can redeem us. Simply put, the truth of imago Dei IS creation, justification, sanctification, and glorification all in one package.

And if you mess with it, you mess with the gospel.

another incredibly helpful piece from THE brad hambrick: differentiating mourning from wallowing in depression-anxiety

There are many things that unhealthy wallowing and healthy mourning have in common. It can be easier to confuse one from the other than many people think. The person who thinks he is “working through” his pain may be wallowing in self-pity. Those who try to rouse their friend out of self-pity may be rushing them through legitimate mourning.

this post from wendy alsup made me stand up and holler: the third way on gender

But what if all the verses on women actually work together in conjunction? And what if they work in conjunction with everything else in Scripture as well? There is a third way on gender, and I’d argue it’s actually the Biblical way – the way that keeps all the verses, reading them all in light of the redemption story. It starts with creation, men and women as image bearers of God. It understands the fall and the impact of sin on both genders. And it capitalizes on redemption, Jesus’ atonement for our sin that equips us to once again be image bearers of God. I envision a third way that centers around redemptive image bearing.

wrap your head around this: 

this whole album from phillip phillips: 

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the one with lots of links

two days after my last post, robin williams took his life.  i was sitting on the loveseat at a friend’s house- a bunch of girls from my small group were just sitting around, talking and sharing interweb things we had come across lately when someone saw the news on twitter and told us.

it came out that he had been dealing with depression for quite some time.  people were asking ‘how could someone who brought that much joy to people and made people laugh so hard be depressed?”.  i didn’t need to ask that question, because i knew.

the blogosphere lit up like a christmas tree with everyone’s two cents about depression and suicide and medication and allthethings.  there were some awful things written, some of them by well-meaning, professing christians (let’s give them the benefit of the doubt).  but they were still awful.  there were also some great things written, and those are the ones i want to focus on. regardless of personal opinion about robin williams, hopefully his death has caused us to rethink how we look at people and the assumptions we make about the state of their hearts.  hopefully this has made us reexamine what we think about depression and seriously reframe that conversation.

i guarantee that you know someone who is depressed.  (if you’re reading this, you know me … so that’s at least one.)  hopefully the links below will give you a little insight and help you think about and converse with us in ways that don’t make us want to crawl back under our rocks and die.  so here jus go:

Depression: the Dark Night of Body and Soul (from halee gray scott)

“Depression is telling you something that is wrong,” my doctor said. “And when it goes untreated, it’s almost impossible to cure apart from community support and medication because it creates changes in our brain and body.” 

This Demon Only Comes Out By Prayer and Prozac

” … it is clear that we must jettison any simplistic understanding of the complex interaction between brain and body as a matter of individuals choosing to either sinfully wallow in mental illness or righteously embrace freedom in Christ. Similarly, we must also not succumb to a materialistic view that defines people stuck in mental illness solely as victims of circumstance.”

depression and common grace (from jared wilson, a pastor and author in vermont) [GO READ ALL HIS STUFF. LIKE RIGHT NOW. FOR REAL FOR REAL.]

The first thing we may say about the bigness of Jesus is that he is big enough to help us in many ordinary means. Many Christians have adopted the unfortunate posture of Job’s friends, adding more discouragement to those discouraged in depression by urging them not to seek help except via spiritual disciplines like prayer and Bible study. These are certainly the most important prescriptions for any of us!

The fuller truth, however, is that while Jesus is enough, his enough-ness may be manifested in our getting help from material means. These too are gifts from God, provided through the common graces of scientific research, academic study, pastoral giftedness, analytic method, and modern medicine.

What I mean is this: talk to a trained counselor and take the meds if they are needed. When it comes to medication, at the very least, don’t not take it out of fear of distrust of Jesus. Antidepressants may or may not help you, but discuss the options with your doctor, preferably after conferring with a clinical psychologist who is also a Christian, and if you decide they are not for you, don’t decide so because you think to take them is to deny Jesus’s ability to heal.

What the Church & Christians Need to Know About Suicide & Mental Health (from ann voskamp)

… your mind can feel like it’s burning up at all the edges and there’s never going to be any way to stop the flame. Don’t bother telling us not to jump unless you’ve felt the heat, unless you bear the scars of the singe.

Don’t only turn up the praise songs but turn to Lamentations and Job and be a place of lament and tenderly unveil the God who does just that — who wears the scars of the singe.

Christians Can’t Ignore the Uncomfortable Reality of Mental Illness (from amy simpson, via christianity today)

When we respond in these ways, we make ourselves irrelevant to people who need our help. We send the message that our faith has no answer or explanation for this kind of suffering. We suggest there is an easy answer to their suffering, yet it remains elusive to them for some reason, probably because they don’t deserve it and we do. We imply that God himself is ready to walk away from people in pain. All this from people who mean well but just don’t know what to do.

when depression comes back (from addie zierman)

In the sterile, fluorescence of the exam room, I cried while the doctor asked me questions.

“Am I going to have to be on these damn pills for the rest of my life?” I asked.

“Maybe,” she said. “Maybe not. It’s different for everyone, but it’s okay if you do.”

deal gently with bruised reeds (from derek rishmawy) [another GOREADALLHISSTUFF.]

As Christians we are to deal gently with the broken and mournful. It is in this way we follow the Christ we have in the gospel. We follow a Messiah who was a man of sorrows, well acquainted with the painful way of the world we live in. Indeed, it’s precisely to bring comfort and relief to those who mourn that he took up his own cross; he came that he might end their suffering in his own.

the depressed christian (from megan tietz)

… the gift I will take forward from my struggles with depression is knowing on a heart-level what it is to feel that the God you love has abandoned you to the dark, I know what it is to feel staggering guilt that the family you love isn’t enough to pull you back from the dark, and I know what it is to both loathe the working of your brain and feel powerless to fix it.

It is a gift because never again will I suggest to someone that the solution is so easy. It is a gift because I can now speak to other Christians about the struggle, offering to them dignity instead of shame. It is a gift because when I read of suicide or other depression-driven acts, my first response is to sob rather than preach. And it is a gift because I can say with certainty that the LORD is close to the brokenhearted even if He feels far, far away.

when existence becomes seemingly impossible (from alan noble at christ & pop culture)

What I want to say is that life is harder than most of us will let on, and probably the deepest struggles we’ll face will be silent and petty — things like choosing to get out of bed and get dressed. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof, but so too is Christ’s Grace. So, get up, when you can, and carry on. Rest your burdens on He who loves you, and turn to the pilgrims alongside you. Some days, rising out of bed is a great act of worship.

resources on depression (from fabs harford) the cartoons on this one are amazing. click through to the links she provides for more of them … i laughed pretty hard at this (after i picked up my jaw off the floor at how accurate this depiction is).

tangled up in blue: depression and the christian life (from sammy rhodes, another GOREADALLTHETHINGS)

The image of a bruise is the perfect image for depression. Because sometimes you know how a bruise got there, and sometimes you genuinely don’t. Sometimes it’s pretty clear why you are depressed, and other times depression shows up out of the blue (pun intended) and next thing you know, to quote Bob Dylan, you’re tangled up in blue to the point where it’s hard to breathe. 

 

i’ve also been listening to this song on repeat lately- audrey assad’s voice is hauntingly beautiful and these lyrics are the cry of my heart. 

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the one where i tell you why. (or tattoos, and how getting inked saved my identity)

several times a week, without fail, i get asked about my tattoos.

sometimes it is a seminarian wanting to translate the hebrew on my left wrist.  sometimes it is an artist wanting to inspect the freestyled filigree on my right hand.  sometimes it is just someone admiring the art.  but more often than not, it is just someone who doesn’t know that they need to be reminded of who they are.

i’ve written before about my tattoos and why i have them.  but the words i chose to have permanently emblazoned on my skin, and the stories behind those words, bear repeating as often as necessary (even if i am only talking to myself).

i have three tattoos- ‘beloved’ on my left wrist; ‘beautiful’ on my right forearm; and ‘blessed’ on my left foot.  the two arm tattoos were birthday gifts to myself, and the one on my foot i got with my sister, who i consider one of my best blessings.  i chose the words ‘beloved’ and ‘beautiful’ because i needed to be reminded that i AM those things.  parts of my story are shaped by the fact that i listened to voices that told me i was anything but beloved or beautiful for a long time.  those words inked into my skin are both an act of rebellion against those who would have me believe a lie, and a bold agreement with the voice of the only One who has the authority to name me.  and He proclaims that i am His- and thus dearly loved, so much so that my name is graven on His hands and that He died to make a way for me to be clean before Him.  He proclaims that because He made me, and because He loves me, and because He made me clean, that i am beautiful- because He makes no mistakes, and because He calls out “it is good!” over His handiwork.

my tattoos are for me- daily, sometimes hourly, reminders of who i am.  but i chose to get them in locations on my body where others would see them so that they would see, and also know, and maybe be reminded who they are.

you are beautiful, and you are beloved.

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the one where i rip off quotes.

brokenness and healing are cyclical. one always leads to the other. both lead towards a life of redemption. (andy cherry)

i am the Lord your God,who brought you up out of the land of egypt. open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. (psalm 81:10)

“child, i am telling you your story, not hers. i tell no one any story but his own.” (aslan)

God, the one and only— i’ll wait as long as he says. everything i need comes from him, so why not? he’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul … (psalm 62:1-2)

wrestling with God is its own form of closeness. it takes hanging on to really wrestle. and it’s hard to do without being face to face. (beth moore)

remember this, if any other position would be better for you, than the one in which you are, divine love would have put you there.  (c.h. spurgeon)

when you redeem the hard events of your past by asking how they’ve benefited you, you take away their sting. (donald miller)

these are just a handful of examples of the things stirring in me lately.  i am a collector of quotes, and more often than not, anything profound that comes out of my mouth was birthed in someone else’s words.  (hey, at least i admit it!)  i think i have my voice back, and i’m learning to use my words again- but there are still times when someone else says it better than i could.  i’m learning to be thankful for the wrestling season that has been going on for the last two years, and is still going on; and i’m learning that wrestling is not weakness! like beth moore said in her quote above, wrestling takes holding on.  “i will not let you go until you bless me!” i’ve come back to that story of jacob wrestling with the angel so many times in the last few months. that encounter left jacob with a limp for the rest of his life. it changed his name and his whole trajectory.  (here is a great blog about it, and here is the passage from genesis 32:22-31)

so basically, God’s good.  He’s writing (and has already written) my story, and is telling it to me, little by little.  He is solid rock under me, big enough for my questions and doubts.  He does everything with purpose, and doesn’t waste a thing.  He knows where i am, because he put me here.  He is good IN and BECAUSE OF pain, not in spite of it.  He is the source of joy, and is even now poised to pour it out on me- if i would open my mouth to receive it.

if you see me walking around with my mouth hanging open, now you know why.

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the one that’s not quite so heavy. (link love)

lest we all panic and think that sam is falling apart (i promise, i’m not! i have just been thinking ALOT and feeling even more. that combination results in copious amounts of word vomit … and since i process by writing, and you clicked the link … here we are.), here are a few things i’ve been enjoying lately:

A Broken Hallelujah (jen hatmaker)

In Which We Leave a Little Room (sarah bessey)

This is the Part Where We Lose the Keys (emily joy allison)

the pioneer woman’s cauliflower soup– i’ve made this every week since lent started. never was a huge fan of cauliflower til now … and now i can’t stop.

justin timberlake’s 20/20 experience album.  (megg, you were so right.)

matt redman’s song Jesus, Only Jesus from the new passion album.

zechariah 9, specifically vs. 9-17 as we begin Holy Week.

attending services at The Summit Church and falling in love with the church all over again.

Pitch Perfect. just watch it … you can thank me later.

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by definition.

samantha ….

  • daughter
  • sister
  • friend
  • student
  • ex-girlfriend
  • former employee
  • leader
  • servant
  • follower
  • writer
  • reader
  • mentor
  • teacher
  • imperfect
  • impatient
  • unfocused
  • lacking
  • tired
  • unlovable
  • too much
  • not enough
  • complicated
  • beautiful
  • blessed
  • loved
  • funny
  • sarcastic
  • critical
  • short
  • ………..

the list continues.  some of these are ‘hats’ that i wear; some are attributes; some are words i would use to describe myself- others are words other people would use to describe me.  while some are true and others are not, those words don’t define me.  this is something i’ve been thinking about alot lately, especially in light of recent events in my life.  (for more on that, see previous posts :)) but awhile back, jon acuff (author of the ‘stuff christians like’ blog) wrote about this topic- so timely and just what i needed to be reminded of.  i won’t elaborate other than to tell you to read the post here.

i wrote several months ago about the fact that my tattoos help me remember who i am- they are all words that describe my position or identity in christ.  but he is the only one who is qualified to answer the question i’ve been asking myself- the question we all ask ourselves- “who am i?” the one who created us is the one who gets to answer that- no one else.

i know this. i mean, i KNOW this. but sometimes i still forget, or i let that knowledge get a little fuzzy. what i’m learning now is that while i know who gets to define me, and even some of the words he uses- that definition is never complete (at least not this side of heaven). as long as christ keeps conforming me to his character, and as long as i keep walking this crazy journey known as life, i am ever changing. ever growing. ever learning. ever deepening. ever becoming.

this means that i might not ever know myself fully. while i’m not a huge fan of this idea, the flip side is that there is still the power to change, improve, and surprise.  those are good things. because its disheartening to be 28 years old, have two master’s degrees, and still not know what i’m doing with my life. i know i’m working out of a funk, so all of this is coming out of a place i shouldn’t be in anyways. but my state of mind (and heart) right now does serve to make me glad that the rest of my story is yet to be revealed. who i am, by definition of sanctification, isn’t nailed down yet. there is hope for me, and for all of us.

oh christ, be the center of our lives

be the place we fix our eyes

be the center.

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obligatory new year’s post … and 2010 in review.

oh 2010 … you were a good year.

i finished a master’s degree, went to new york city for spring break, served at the orange and catalyst conferences, did relief work in haiti with a team from my church, moved twice, went on my first vacation as an adult (where i had my first trader joe’s experience!), joined an amazing community group, learned to make quiche, hung out with a bunch of awesome college students every week, attempted to make homemade yeast rolls, drank ALOT of coffee, watched the least amount of TV in a year than any other year in my life, watched God work in our family through dad’s accident and praised him for such an amazing display of thankfulness, had my car broken into and my ipod stolen, made quick trips to nashville and charlotte (where i had my first ikea experience!), attended my 10 year high school reunion, turned 28 … and alot more.

but while it was a great year, i didn’t accomplish all that i wanted to. i don’t make new year’s resolutions, but i do take advantage of the opportunity for a fresh start.  and of all of the things i wanted to start fresh last year … let’s just say most of them were a bust and leave it at that.  i can honestly say that i made some great strides forward last year- i can’t write any of that off as a loss; but i know that i also took some giant handsprings backward.  which leaves me feeling like any growth i experienced last year is negated.  i know that i’m not a disappointment to God; i know his work in me has not been without effect- but i get so discouraged when i look at where i am today compared to where i was a year ago and the distance is so small. i wanted 2010 to be a year of growth by leaps and bounds! and i feel like it was growth by baby steps and sideways bunny hops.  i am distinctly lacking in understanding of the necessity of living in the tension between dependence and maturity.  none of the growth that i want to see in my life can be accomplished on my own- my willpower is not strong enough to say no to ice cream, much less spend the time i’d like to in the Word.  i MUST have the grace and power of the holy spirit at work in me if any real change is to be made.  and i cannot manufacture that!! its a tough pill for ‘little miss independence’ to swallow.

but it is a pill that i must swallow if i ever want to leave the spot i’m standing in.  so while i am about to hit the job search pretty hard, i am carving out a few days this week (and next week, if necessary!) to evaluate, assess, and pray that the lord will show me the areas we need to work at this year. i know some things that i’d like to work on, but i’m not my own so i figure if this is going to be a good year i should concentrate on following him and let him decide what to do.

a friend tweeted this quote today by the estimable c.s.lewis- it fits the way i feel right now, and sums up the trepidation with which i enter 2011: “We’re not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be.”

but jesus offers me this: “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (matthew 11:28-30) unforced rhythms of grace. whoa nellie. THAT is what i want to walk in this year, and every year following. how’s that for a new start?

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catch me if you can

so …. i was cleaning up my hard drive and found this draft …. from january.  january.  as in …. almost 5 months ago.  i really suck at this whole ‘keeping up with writing’ thing.  but i thought i would share it anyways …. so without further ado: thoughts from january.

‘To be caught in secret sin is a horrible thing. Only one thing worse- not to be caught.’

a friend of mine put this up as his status on facebook this morning …. normally i wouldn’t admit that one of the first things i do in the morning to check my media stuff, but i’ll let the cat out of the bag so that you’re aware of my mental state when i read this.  i’d been awake for maybe 8 minutes? and this hit me right upside the face.  sin is a topic i don’t discuss on a terribly regular basis- its uncomfortable, there are always exceptions to rules, i am too proud …. the list goes on and on.  but surprisingly enough, i had been talking about sin (and almost this topic in particular) the other day- so when i saw this quote, it totally rocked me.

the ‘godly’ side of me hates getting away with the sins in my life that no one knows about.  there is a visceral loathing that happens- self loathing, of course, after all i am the one who cannot seem to stop sinning; but i also find myself loathing those who are my closest friends who know that i have mired myself in a sea of sin and are too aloof or afraid to call me out.  there is a despair that comes with this- each day that goes by that i cling to my sin, the seemingly higher and thicker the wall between me and the lord gets.  the longer and more difficult the road home.  there comes a point in that despair that we begin to want to be caught.  while i’m often too stubborn to turn around and take that first step, i want to be exposed so that the step is taken for me and there is nowhere else for me to go except back to Him.  don’t misunderstand me- getting caught sucks ….. like really really sucks.  but there a freedom that comes with nakedness.  everyone knows your junk now- there is no more hiding, and there is no more darkness to cover me, only light.

to top it off, my roommate tweeted this at some point during the day:

‘people who are willing to help you hide are also the same people who aid in your demise. to hide is to isolate one’s self. What do you hide?’

i’ll hopefully be visiting this topic again soon and in more detail.  i know its not a popular one, but it needs to be addressed.  we as a body of Christ have fully grasped the fact that we need to gain a better understanding of the love of God, and his grace; but we have done this at the expense of gaining a fuller understanding of his justice and hatred for sin.  if we understood how much God hated sin, we would appreciate his love and grace more deeply; and be much more prone to die to ourselves.  if the shame that comes with getting caught is what it takes to make us understand this, then i pray we are all caught red –handed in whatever it is that has so craftily ensnared us.

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