Tuesday, January 31, 2012

my name is hope


Pure. Simple. Joy.

And peace.

These are the things that are so often (too often) overlooked because let's face it, negativity is a lot easier. 

But not today. Today has been... My God. Exactly what I've been praying for.

Wait! Pause! Let's take it back a bit...

So the other day when I saw that thing about worry I sent Jared a text because we had just been talking about that struggle. I told him that I finally realized just how dedicated God is to getting my attention and that basically He's trying to tell me something: my number is up

I no longer have the luxury of messing around with this life anymore. I need to stop taking advantage of God's patience with me and appreciate that He has been chasing me all these years, just waiting for me to turn around!

He gave me everything I ever wanted and then took it away, because He wanted to give me everything I need. And there, at my wit's end and when I felt like all of the inner resources I usually relied on were tapped out, there at the bottom of my own emotional hell - that's where He found me.

And now it's time for me to pick up my life, get over myself and work toward proving to Christ that I was worth dying for. 

(read: it's time for me to stop being such a spaz)


John Mark's book came out yesterday and I started reading it immediately. Why had I never realized that even the most faithful disciples, prophets, hell even Christ Himself felt worry and anxiety? Within the first few pages I could already tell this was yet another turning point in my life. 

So yesterday I made new resolves. New promises. To myself and to others.

And true to form, when I awoke this morning I felt that usual fear and worry try to creep in the very second my quiet, trusting subconscious wore off.

But I was prepared! I had John Mark's words in my heart:

1) Take every thought captive
2) Control your thoughts, or your thoughts will control you
3) Replace those negative thoughts with what you know is true

Want to know what I know is true?

The impossible has already happened.

The promise has already been fulfilled.

Christ came back from the dead and made good on everything He said He would.

And when I can remember that, it becomes easier to believe that whatever is hindering happiness in my own life is only me, and my own thoughts, dragging me down into an endless canyon of "what if?". 

Which, if you'll pardon me, is pure crap on my part.

This morning on my drive to work I decided to be happy (which I am most of the time - sickeningly joyful - optimistic too, so you better watch yourself if you're not into that kind of thing). I could feel the power of doubt trying to edge its way back in but I decided to ask God for a sign. 

I got two. 

I was still skeptical for some reason though. I still needed to test Him, or something ridiculous like that (oh yeah Lauren, test God, see how that works out for you...) but I held off as much as possible.

But as I walked up to Dean & Robin's to meet up for dinner, God put someone very dear to me in my heart and told me to just drop a quick line to say "hi".

I did. 

And the conversation that transpired over the next hour (yes, via text, because we're all tech savvy and such) proved to be that last bit of peace I was trying so hard not to ask for (but that He evidently knew I needed). 

The rest of the night has seen me with an elated heart. Between all of the things I've mentioned (as well as emails from blog friends that made me squeal with glee) I am going to bed smiling (though that may also have something to do with the fact that I'v got 30 Rock on here in the background and Liz Lemon is sining about cheese).

I know I will continue to trip and worry and doubt, but for right now?

Right now I've got peace

Saturday, January 28, 2012

And then He got my attention...

I am a worrier.

I worry like there's no tomorrow.

In fact, I have such incredible worrying abilities that I get myself worked up to the point that it consumes me entirely and I end up falling apart.

Because that's healthy, right?


A friend posted this image this morning and I'm pretty sure it's God reaching down and smacking me upside the head, trying so hard to get my attention. And I needed it because I woke up this morning with a head full of doubt and it's making for a rough day. 

Seriously, why can't I get over myself? By worrying so much I'm basically telling God that I don't trust Him with my life - the exact opposite of what I'm trying so desperately to do! I want so badly to take my life and put it entirely in His hands but my worry is holding me back. 

My friend Jared and I were talking last night about the things we struggle with the most. For me, it's this. For him, it's anxiety. He pointed out that those two things probably aren't so different from one another and I have to agree - both are just another way to not trust our God (even when He has given us every reason in the world to do so!)

So what's our deal?

Not just Jared and me, but everyone who struggles with this kind of thing. Why are we so damn hesitant to trust? I mean my God (literally), even when things in my life have gone all pear-shaped, He has never failed me. He has given, He has taken away and when I do get over myself and leave it in His hands, there He is! Waiting for me to accept the grace He has given me.

Unbelievable! I'm such an idiot to be second guessing things so much. 

And so with all this in mind I will continue working on becoming the woman I want to be - the woman He wants me to be.

I'll also keep in mind what John Mark (the lead pastor at my church) said:

"Anxiety is temporary atheism."


Wednesday, January 25, 2012


My pastor (and Twitter, apparently) have a way of getting at me right when I need it most. 


Psalm 32
Joy of Being Forgiven
 1 How happy he is whose wrong-doing is forgiven, and whose sin is covered! 
2 How happy is the man whose sin the Lord does not hold against him, and in whose spirit there is nothing false.
 3 When I kept quiet about my sin, my bones wasted away from crying all day long. 
4 For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me. My strength was dried up as in the hot summer. 
5 I told my sin to You. I did not hide my wrong-doing. I said, “I will tell my sins to the Lord.” And You forgave the guilt of my sin. 
6 So let all who are God-like pray to You while You may be found, because in the floods of much water, they will not touch him.
7 You are my hiding place. You keep me safe from trouble. All around me are your songs of being made free.
 8 I will show you and teach you in the way you should go. I will tell you what to do with My eye upon you. 
9 Do not be like the horse or the donkey which have no understanding. They must be made to work by using bits and leather ropes or they will not come to you. 
10 Many are the sorrows of the sinful. But loving-kindness will be all around the man who trusts in the Lord. 
11 Be glad in the Lord and be full of joy, you who are right with God! Sing for joy all you who are pure in heart!

turn around


I stumbled yesterday.

And God got my attention in a big way.

If you've ever been over to my everyday blog Happenstance & Wanderlust, you might have seen this post about some of life's nastier emotions stirring up in my life - jealousy in particular.

I've never been a jealous person. Actually, I've never really been one for anything too negative, really. Sure, I've got a temper (that only three people on the planet have received the full brunt of - guess I'm doing okay if only three people have ever made me mad enough to unleash it) and I've had some awfully vindictive thoughts traipse about my soul from time to time. But honestly, for the most part, I am a happy, trusting, loving person.

And in light of that, I know that I have lived an incredibly blessed 25 years.

But almost 10 months ago some major shifts occurred in my life and promptly threw everything I held so dear into a blender with some jagged rocks, burning tears and the bitterness that accompanies pure, honest confusion about what the hell just happened to my life.

(I'm not at all overly dramatic - but that's how it felt)

What happened? Well, I admit, it's nothing that millions of people haven't gone through before but it was a first for me - my nearly three year relationship ended and it felt like I had died inside (wait, what was I saying about not being overly dramatic?). 

Now just to put it out there, it wasn't some big, awful, malicious breakup. He and I are still friends and still love each other dearly. Of course there's a longer story there, but wait, where was I? Have I lost you yet?

Anyway, my point is that with everything that went down I decided to make the best of things. I decided that rather than focusing on what I had lost, I should focus on what I still had and what I had to gain from this situation. 

Not easy. 

But without doubt, the most amazing thing that happened for me was my love and desire to be closer to God was lit on fire! As it happened, my friend Jared (yes, the "ex", but really just one of my best friends) asked me if I'd like to go to church with him one night. He'd just started going to Solid Rock and knew that I'd dig it.

And I did. In a BIG way. It'd been a long time since I'd been to a church where I felt so... Connected. More on that in a future post though...

In growing with God, I've been holding myself much more accountable for my actions and emotions. I read a quote by Maya Angelou that said,

"A woman's heart should be so lost in God that a man needs to seek him in order to find her."

And I decided that was it. That's what I wanted and that's what I needed.

Jared and I needed to break up in order for me to realize that. And to realize that I really needed to realign some priorities and put my God first, not my relationship. And that once I learned how to do that, maybe my relationship would change for the better.

So what made me stumble then? I let my jealousy get the better of me and I forgot to be like Christ. Things transpired in the months following our breakup and I got hurt a little more and a wall started to build up. I stopped trusting as much as let that loss of trust turn to suspicion and sadness. 

And bitterness crept in. And in that bitterness (which has stayed with me and, regrettably, continued to grow) I spoke about someone with anger and jealousy... And got caught. And then I felt like an ass. I was so ashamed and so overcome with guilt that I wanted to throw up, really. 

Much as I know my friends are trying to help when they say, "It's okay, you can't help how you feel!" I don't want to succumb to that. It's a cop out. It's too easy. 

And actually, I'm glad that I got caught in my mini-rant. It holds me accountable. And it made me realize that I'm not making myself feel any better by venting - I'm just risking hurting someone I care about more than myself by harboring such resentment and anger toward a friend of theirs. 


If I'm going to be the woman I want so badly to be, I'm going to have to continue holding myself accountable. Holding myself to a higher standard (i.e. His standard... Seems like a no-brainer, right?). 

I desperately want to conquer these ugly emotions and I know that continuing to trust God is my best step toward that. I can pray that He will give me the strength to forgive and love, and pray that He will take from me the things that impede that; take those things that I might hurt someone else with. 


Sometimes I wish that I could just ignore it all. Go ahead and be spiteful and vindictive (because let's be honest, those revenge fantasies are definitely fun sometimes). But honestly, it makes me so much happier to know that I have a loving God at my back to help me get closer to that person He wants me to be. He promised me that it would be hard, that I would be up against a lot, that I would be challenged but that no matter what, I could turn to Him when a burden gets too heavy. 

Help me be better. Help me be more like You. 

And please, when I stumble, remind me that you're right there to help me get back up again.

Friday, January 13, 2012

the whole sweep

click here to go to video


This is mesmerizing. 

I love the way he likens reading through the Bible to hearing a piece of music. 

It seems to me that N. T. Wright knows a little bit about what's up.

This man has more conservative views on some things than I do, but still... I will pay attention to the things I can learn from him. 

As with the beauty of many people I have come to admire, I find that I do not need to agree with everything someone says, but I can often wholeheartedly respect their point of view (so long as they show me the same courtesy). 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

why i love jesus - but love/hate religion

This guy says it pretty well.  

Don't confuse Jesus with "religion".

There is a huge difference. Most people don't take time to realize that. 

And that's what scares me.

Because misunderstanding is the root of most hatred. 

Be known by what you are for. Not what you are against. 


That being said, let me just say that based on the way I initially heard this, I tend to feel he is using the word "religion" in the sense that the word is too often linked with only the politics of a religion, rather than the faith.

I do not believe he is saying he hates religion per se, but rather the misconstrued political faction of those who claim religion as their weapon of choice.

For me, religion is the faith, not the politics. But the word has become dangerously bastardized. And Christianity is not the only religion in the line of fire here. Look at how too many people view Islam or Judaism - completely wrong!

The popular view of religion is a group of radicals trying to use it as a sort of political movement rather than a belief system.

(I could easily point some fingers here to certain groups making headlines in the last few years, but there again is a problem of saying "I'm right, you're wrong" so I'll abstain)

But seriously... Am I the only one who thinks this is completely bonkers?

I do think this guy takes a little too much poetic license with some of the text he quotes (albeit with good intentions, I do believe that). Actually, in some ways it's a wonderful illustration of why there is so much dissension among Christians because, just like any things else in this big world, we all come at things with our own point of view, our own biases,  and our own interpretations.

A good friend of mine actually posted this great article which seems to tidy up the point in question here. Honestly, I like both of the points of view represented here. And I appreciate both very much. I will not say one is right, the other wrong. I will simply say that both sides make some sense to me.

I always think about a phrase I've heard many times over the years:

Hate the sin. Love the sinner.

Because let's face it folks - we're all a little screwed up and none of us are perfect.

Such is the beauty of the human condition.

And I don't think we need religion to tell us that. I also don't think we need religion to fix that, either.

For me though, I will say this: religion does help me fix the things in my life I want to change. It also helps me maintain the things I don't want to change. I happen to call The Great Whoever up there God. It's what works for me.

Will this work for everyone?


Should it work for everyone?

Hell no.

Find what works for you! I can only beseech you here to do everything you do in LOVE.

Because that there is something that all religions have in common.

Politics on the other hand... Not so much.


So like I said, please do not confuse Jesus with "religion" (by that I mean to say the popular politics too many associate with that word). I follow a Man whose message was LOVE and PEACE.

And I like that.

Unfortunately, I don't always like everyone who claims to do the same.

Which makes me think of another quote:

Dear God, please save me from your "followers".

Of course, I should probably work on that if what I feel called to do in this world in Love.

I guess that's my own hypocrisy. But you know what? I want to change that.

I'm going to change that.

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