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Eavesdropping at Chick-Fil-A

The other day, I took the babies to Chick-Fil-A, because I didn’t have enough time to go home between appointments, but couldn’t handle another minute of sitting in the car with whining children. Chick-Fil-A’s play area door is super hard to open for people younger than 6, so I could sit in a booth and read Facebook in relative peace, while they got their energy out.

Maybe it’s because we have so many seminaries and churches in Louisville, but there’s almost always Christians meeting up at our Chick-Fil-A. This time was no exception. In the booth next to mine, a couple of young guys were discussing ministry and theology.

I was a bit intrigued. (Like when you’re in a foreign country and see other Americans. You don’t necessarily introduce yourself, but you listen in to what they’re saying, just because the conversation is in English and they’re kind of your people.)

So one of the guys was sharing how his mom had asked him, “Do you know anything about Charismatic theology?” He went on, “And I told her, ‘It’s not good! His friend listening to the story reiterated, “Yeah, not good.

The thing is, my church upbringing was Charismatic. So my eavesdropping brain was thinking, “Wait? What is ‘Charismatic theology’?” Last I checked, we come in a lot of different flavors, with a plethora of theological perspectives. But apparently these guys could write every one of us off with one broad brush stroke.

It kind of made me sad, there in Chick-Fil-A. Because the other bits and pieces of their conversation sounded like stuff I would agree with, from their theology to their politics.

Really, we had more in common than we had separating us.

But I think we all do this way too often. Most of us have a group of other Christians we dislike. There is some segment of brothers and sisters that we write off, because we dislike their views.

We roll our eyes. We say, “Can you believe they think ____________ ?”

Now, I’m not saying we can’t discuss non-biblical theology. It is important to bring correction to errors within the Church. I even recognize that we might disagree so strongly, that having a friendship with those on the other side of the discussion would be a strain.

But maybe we should still give each other some grace. We could try to celebrate the places where we do agree and still hear where they’re coming from when agreement isn’t possible. We should let love cover the weaknesses we perceive and choose to learn from their strengths. Really, we must speak about our differences from a place of love, since that was Jesus’ prayer for us (John 13:35).

Because probably, we have more in common than we have separating us.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via Visual Hunt / CC BY-NC
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One night, not long ago, during family devotions, the book we were going through asked the question, “Do you think of Jesus as a friend?”

father and son matching outfit formal semi formal from flickrIsaiah answered, “I think of him more as a father. But like a father that’s our friend. Like how Daddy is our father and our friend.”

Our father and our friend. Let that sink in for a moment. This is who God is.

Sometimes I think we paint God as a father who is angry and just wants us to pull it together. Or we go the other way and think of him as our buddy to kick back with. No responsibilities, just junk food and video games.

But he is neither a dictator nor is he our bro.

He cares that skittles are our favorite and that the guy at work really hurt our feelings. But he also believes we can be so much more than we’re shooting for, so he’s always stretching us and encouraging us to be who we’re supposed to be.

He is a father and a friend.

Conversations with my kids make it clear why Jesus told us we needed to have the heart of a child to come into the Kingdom.

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New Year’s Resolutions

I don’t generally make New Year’s resolutions, because self-discipline isn’t my strong point. So why set myself up for failure, you know?

Really, I don’t remember resolving to do ANYTHING in 2014.

But still…

  • We completely changed our diet to a mix of Paleo/primal/low carb. Which means we cut out most grains and processed sugars, and as much processed food as possible (except last month, because CHRISTMAS FOOD). We’ve never felt better, so it’s worth it!
  • I dyed my hair for the first time. Not voluntarily. The grays forced me. It basically looks exactly the same, but requires more maintenance now. Yay.
  • I started putting cream in my coffee. And then someone told me to use heavy whipping cream. Guys. I have no words.
  • We got another baby. Read the whirlwind story here.
  • I started talking about racism, for better or for worse. But the small measure of talking I’ve done is far outweighed by the amount of learning I’ve undergone and continue to press into. It’s a fascinating, sorrowful issue that has gripped my very core.

newbaby2And not one of those things is going away. We will continue to eat paleo/primal. I have to keep dying my hair, because the gray is only going to grow stronger. Cream is my favorite ever. Babies are for life. And racism is still alive and well.

I couldn’t have seen any of this coming (except the hair dye) when 2014 started. I couldn’t have resolved any of this (except to maybe eat healthier). The truly important parts of my year, the parts that change me the most, were completely out of my control.

So for 2015, there are no resolutions. But there is more faith.

Because 2014 grew my confidence:

In a God who knows I’m made of dust.

In a Savior who has experienced what it’s like to be human.

In a Jesus who guides, even when I can’t see what He’s up to.

My own self-discipline will only take me so far (not very). But trusting Jesus seems to lead my feet to places beyond my own simple expectations. If I try to guess, I’ll probably get it wrong. So I’m just going to rest in faith that He has a path already mapped out.

2015 should be interesting, guys. Just like always.

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I was Mad at God

When our first adoption match failed, I was mad. Really, really mad at God.

It’s not that I think I’m some entitled person who should never have any hardship. But God had specifically spoken to both Chris and I that we were to pursue that match. Even when our very wise Adoption Consultant cautioned us against it, we didn’t feel released to back out.

So I was angry. Because God made me walk down a path that He knew would end in pain. I didn’t have a road-map for that kind of God. It’s not a side of Him that is usually talked about on Sunday mornings. He’s scary.

In 2 Samuel 6:1-9, David was bringing the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem. He was doing it to honor the Lord. As they were traveling and worshiping, the Ark almost tipped, so one guy put his hand up to steady it. And God killed him. For doing what seemed like the right thing.

It says David was angry with the Lord. And it says David feared the Lord. I think he was angry and afraid because he didn’t have parameters for that kind of God.

Because God is beyond us.

He does things in a way we never would. His methods of being good are different than our ideas of goodness. But He IS good.

At the end, that was the only place I could land. God’s goodness was different than mine, but I had to trust that He is good. Reading the Psalms that David wrote, I think that’s where he always landed too.

A month and a half after the first mom decided to parent her baby, we found out about another situation. A situation where all the pieces fell into perfect order.

We were matched with an expectant mom who was due in only a few weeks. We loved her from the moment we talked with her on the phone. She was steadfast and committed to her adoption plan. We all became like family.

When the baby was born, she included us in every step of the process. We were amazed at how beautiful the experience was and were so honored to share it with her.

After 5 days, papers were signed and Enoch Irvin Warrior Davis was our son.

None of that beautiful story would have been ours if the first match had happened according to the plan.

I can’t necessarily say it all makes sense, even now. But I am convinced that God’s goodness led us to where we are today. The path was twisted, hard and confusing, but I can rest that He led us.

And that’s all I really need to know.

Our little warrior:

enoch1   enoch2  enoch3   enoch4

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I Get Political

Last night, I checked in with Facebook to see where the election was at. Because, really, who bothers with CNN anymore?

And from all the Facebook cheering and sobbing, I gathered that it was Obama FTW.

And I think I felt mildly non-excited. Because something new is always exciting. But something familiar is just same ol’ same ol’. I mean, you either feel relieved or disappointed, but it lacks the adventure of the unknown.

So now that I’ve unburdened my deep and passionate political feelings to you, the rest of this post is specifically for my Christian friends.

Especially those who feel like their world just collapsed, and we have left our nation’s Christian foundation behind, and we just re-elected a Muslim extremist or maybe the Antichrist, and hopefully the Rapture just comes and saves us all (because if Mitt’s not going to save us, I guess our only hope is Jesus).

I have a secret for you.

Mitt Romney is a Mormon.

He’s not a Christian.

Biblically based Christianity holds that Jesus is fully divine, the Son of God and the only way to receive salvation. Any belief system that does not embrace all of these standards can be considered at worst the work of the devil and at best a concoction out of someone’s mind.

Mitt Romney has every right in America to be a Mormon, just like you do to be a Christian. And he might even think very similar to you about a lot of things. But he is still a part of an organization with beliefs that are very contrary to Scripture. So looking to him to save us all is really, really silly.

Yes, we should vote according to the values of the Bible (and I hope you did), but at the end of the day:

Our home is heaven. Our citizenship is ultimately in the Kingdom of God. Our only savior is Jesus.

Everything else is just details.

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On Lent and Liturgy

A friend suggested I blog about Lent. And you know, I’ve never been asked to blog about something specific before. It’s a challenge: like Truth or Dare, except I’m going to tell the truth AND take the dare.

I grew up in a very non-liturgical church culture. It was like we were so anti-tradition, that if we did something two years in a row, we got a little freaked out. Because if it wasn’t spontaneous, it wasn’t spiritual, you know?

But if that were true, we’d only read the Bible through once and then be done. So obviously, a good thing can be done more than once and still be good.

So, Lent. (If you’re all, “What is this Lent of which you speak, go read Wikipedia. They know everything.)

I think Lent could be awesome. Or it could be a waste of time. Based on your heart.

Participating in a spiritual ritual to earn God’s favor, lose some weight, fit in to the community or please your mom has about the same value as a New Years Resolution.

On the other hand, engaging in an activity that has a rich spiritual heritage and is founded in the truth of the Word can be life giving, if your heart is focused on Jesus.

What concerns me about Lent (or a 21 day fast or whatever tradition), is when we do it because we think the act itself somehow fixes us. Like it will keep us on God’s good side or whatever. That’s wrong and messed up.

It would be like if my husband and I celebrated Valentines Day to stay married. Imagine if we said, “Yeah, things have been rough lately. We haven’t actually talked in weeks and we’d rather watch TV than kiss. But when Valentines roles around, that will patch everything up.” Anyone would tell us that was crazy and we needed help.

For a marriage, Valentines can be a great reminder of our love. The holiday can give us an extra excuse to stop and enjoy each other. It can even help our hearts re-focus on our relationship. But it can’t create something that’s not there.

In the same way, liturgy can re-center our hearts on Jesus and remind us of His goodness. When it’s a tradition that comes around at the same time each year, we can look forward to a time set aside for the Lord. It’s even beneficial to engage in a spiritual discipline with other believers and grow our sense of community with the family of faith.

But if your heart isn’t focused on Jesus? Eh. You might as well just go eat that chocolate.

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Leah Hearts Terry Virgo

Leah was cleaning off the coffee table for me and discovered a copy of Terry Virgo’s No Well-Worn Paths, with his picture on the cover.

She exclaimed, “Ah! I love this guy! Is he real?”

“Yes, that’s Terry Virgo,” I explained.

“I knew it! That’s why I love him,” she replied with great satisfaction.

(I’m pretty sure that, besides hearing Chris and I mention the name, she has no idea who Terry Virgo even is.)

There was a long pause. Then Leah blurted out, “Did he die?”

I assured her that he was alive and well.

She breathed a sigh of relief, “Good! I hope he never dies. If he dies, I’ll cry. For real.”

I guess Terry Virgo has a REALLY likable face.

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Jesus, and What He Apparently Thinks About Social Media

Last Sunday, Chris preached at a friend’s church about the God Who Came Near.

I feel like He came near to me today. In the line at the post office, while I was reading Twitter.

I mean, it wasn’t an earth-shattering moment. I didn’t fall on the floor, speaking in tongues. (Thank goodness. That would have been awkward.) It wasn’t even a specific tweet that caught my eye.

But somehow, as I read my twitter stream, I felt the Lord come near and grow my heart for Him. He stretched my understanding of His nature. By His grace, He allowed me to gain a deeper wonder for aspects of His character that my humanity isn’t inclined to “like.”

There are so many paradoxes in that experience. I wasn’t doing anything “Christian-y.” I was using social media, which isn’t considered spiritual. I was mailing a Christmas package, which could be viewed as commercialism. And Jesus met me.

And that’s so spiritual. Because Jesus wants to encounter our hearts in the mundane. He isn’t afraid of social media or the commercialization of Christmas. He’s so much bigger than that.

I kind of feel like we shouldn’t fight and kick and rail against “non-spiritual” aspects of life. Rather, embrace them as opportunities to meet with Jesus. You never know where He might show up. Maybe at the post office.

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The Great Balloon Caper

We like to go to community festivals as a family. The “we” being Chris and I and the “like” being that it seems like a good idea until we get there.

Most of the neighborhood festivals in our area consist of booths of pottery, art and handmade jewelry. And festival food. So our kids pretty much spend the whole time whining about being bored and wanting ice cream. Their process of sanctification is slow.

Disregarding all of our previous neighborhood event experience, we ventured out to the Belknap Fall Festival last Saturday. The crowds were moderate. It was sunny, with a nice breeze. Everything was perfect.

And the kids were doing OK too. They got to sit in the middle of a blocked-off street and draw with chalk. One booth had an assortment of instruments to try out. And a realtor company was handing out balloons.

I don’t know what it is about balloons, but my kids go crazy over them. If they happen to see a couple of kids with balloons, they are suddenly on mission to a get a balloon for themselves. From that point, all they can say is:

“Where did they get a balloon? I want a balloon. Can we have a balloon? Where are the balloons?”

…While Chris and I intone, “I don’t know. We’ll see. I don’t know. We’ll see.”

So they got their balloons. But just as we were about to head to the car, Leah’s balloon decided it had enough of earth-dwelling and headed off for outer space.

Leah had seen other kids’ balloons flying in the clouds and had cheerfully proclaimed, “That balloon is going up to God!” But when it was HER balloon, there wasn’t anything cheerful about it.

We tried to console her as we walked. But the whole, “There will be other balloons,” line wasn’t cutting it.

We had gone about half a block when Chris reached into a little tree and pulled out a balloon, identical to the one Leah had just lost. Like Abraham’s ram in the thicket.

It was so perfect, that even the older couple walking behind us, observing the whole fiasco, exclaimed about how “lucky” it was.

But it wasn’t lucky. Jesus cares about a little girl named Leah. And in His all-knowingness, He made sure a balloon was waiting for her. Just so He could show her He loved her.

Kind of makes you wonder what He’d like to do for you today. Just to show you He loves you.

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How to Be a Church Planter’s Wife

I’m the wife of a church planter. And I feel like I should talk about that a lot more than I do. Because, you know, it’s kind of unique. Like a niche, or something.

But I don’t really have anything profound to say. No great words of admonition to other church planter’s wives. No deep emotional outflow from the process of starting a new church. It’s just our life. It’s normal.

I mean, the past year and a half of this process have been crazy. There are stories, for sure. Amazing times and hard times. And the faithfulness of the Lord threaded through it all. But that would be true, no matter what we were doing in life.

Sometimes, I think we can make too much of the seasons in our lives and the roles we are currently playing. We get all melodramatic about the “challenges” and whatnot. When really, it all comes down to serving Jesus in what He’s called us to do.

I love my husband and I raise my kids. I spend time with ladies in our church and our city. I participate in Bible studies. I interact graciously with people in the community. I pray for my husband, my friends and my city. I do admin stuff for the church. I open up my home once a week for church gatherings. That’s the kind of the stuff I’m called to do right now.

Some of it will change soon, because we’re about to launch a new venue for Destiny Church. But most of what I’m doing would remain the same, even if we weren’t in ministry at all. Just because I’m a Christian.

So what is it like being a church planter’s wife? It’s like being any follower of Christ. I take the opportunities I’m given and use them to advance the Kingdom of God. Just like you do.

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