Sunday, August 26, 2012

missing pieces.

You are my best friend as well as my lover, and I do not know which side of you I enjoy the most. I treasure each side, just as I have treasured our life together.
— Nicholas Sparks

I think it is really easy to like somebody.

I even think it is easy to love somebody. 

Falling in love is a little bit harder, but still very doable. 

However, becoming best friends with somebody you have fallen in love with is a whole different ball game. 

But I have a feeling that it is worth every piece of dirt and tears and the sweat that go into it because once you are best friends...

that's when the bond becomes rooted in something more than emotions. 

It becomes something that makes sense because you can no longer imagine doing life without them. 

The fit the puzzle of your life. 

They are a missing piece that you didn't know was missing but makes it all complete. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"To-Do's" Make God External

I realized something this past week while I was running:

by creating "to do" lists as a means of being a better follower of Christ, I externalize God from life.

Let me explain. 

Back in the Old Testament, God was external. Jesus Christ had not yet come to this Earth, therefore followers of God pre-Jesus time had to do externals acts of service in order to have a relationship with God. These included such things as sacrifice, literal acts of worship (raising hands, setting aside certain times to talk to God), prayers, etc...

However, then, a little something called Christmas came along and Jesus Christ came to this earth. Now, get this: the moment Jesus Christ physically left this earth, He sent His Holy Spirit to be with us-and not just with us, but in us. IN us. 

This glorious act eliminated the necessity of all 'to-do's. 

So please...Tell me why we foolishly make 'to-do' lists in order to be "good christians". My assumption is the typical list usually includes: do my devotional (morning times is best), go to church, sing worships songs, do good, be kind, give money to the homeless, give an offering, and so on. But whatever may be on your list, I have thought of at least three reasons why we consistently create them and try our hardest to live by them regardless the fact we know we will consistently fail at them. 

1. They are easier to comprehend because of the way we were raised. Most of us are trained in the mindset that when we do good, we get good. Whether from our parents, our teachers, the law, doctors, or dentists, when we do something right, we get their approval.  Nobody can deny the power of being felt proud of and of winning the approval of others. So we help with the dishes, we brush our teeth morning and night (the really good kids floss, too), we eat healthier, we come to complete stops at four-ways, we do whatever it takes to win the approval of our elders and people around us. 

2. When we actually complete them, we feel like we have accomplished something, i.e. did "good". Some people love the thrill of putting a little check mark next to an item on a list of "to-dos". To visually see you have done something you set your mind to can be extremely fulfilling for some folks. 

3. There is some value to lists because no matter the method, reason, or motive, spending time with God even via a "to-do" list does make us feel better about life and "closer" to God in general. That just comes with the God-package. He can and will infiltrate our soul no matter the circumstance.

But if you are a Christian (having accepted Christ into your heart as Savior of your life), you have made the act of internalizing God into your very being. He has made your heart His home.  The thing with "to-do" lists is that when we do these acts, we do so as if by doing them, we are bring God closer to our hearts. We are involving Him in more of our daily activities and our lives.

In other words, we are giving God a "way" and a reason to love us more, to approve of us, to be proud of us.

Now tell me, when have you ever needed directions to your own home? Does God need to be given a way by us daily in order to be in our lives? Do you think God needs to hear us pray and see us doing a devotional and see us going to church in order to be involved in your everyday life? Does He need a reason from us to love us more and protect us and approve of us more because we are spending time with Him?

No. He doesn't.

But by mentally creating to-do lists, we forget that. We externalize Christ believing that in order for Him to be in our hearts, we have to do the rights things.

Bottom line: Christ is in our hearts at all time, no matter what. Our heart is His home and nothing can change that. Don't let your human tendency of creating a to-do list push God away from you. Don't externalize Him.  Rest in the fact that He is in you forever. Make your heart a comfortable home for Him by letting Him be at home.  You have never felt more at home at a stranger's house until they let you go get a drink by yourself, open the fridge, and get good out of pantry without having to ask. So let God live in you all the time, every minute of every day. Not just during your morning devotional, not just at church, not just when you worship.

When we do this, our response to His permanent presence will dramatically change our relationship with Him and will draw us closer to Him than we have ever felt before.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Taking Advice from Tumblr.

For some reason today, I feel a deep sense of gratitude for my closest friends and as I saw this picture on a Tumblr site...

I felt even more compelled to write about it. To tell them.

These are my three best friends in/from Little Rock:

Kathrine Anne
How We Met: 7th-grade Winter Dance at Joe T. Robinson
Molly Susan
How We Met: Mrs. Shearer's Kindergarden Class
Lillianne Ruth
How We Met: 7th Grade- FSM church trip: aka Beach Blast

The other day, I was talking with some friends of the family who new Kathrine and I back in the 7th grade, moved away and just recently moved back to Little Rock. As I was talking to her, she asked about Kathrine and noted how cool and rare it was to have a friendship that has lasted this long and remains so strong. I get this a lot about my friendships and this is something I have never taken for granted with any of my best friends but especially with these three. 

We all know that loving people is not easy. When you look at friendships that have broken up or dissolved over time, you see similar stories/reason of time, distance, betrayals, differences, change, misunderstandings, selfishness & pride, hurt and pain, distrust, jealously, stupidity, bitterness, and many others. At some point, people let whatever the reason is keep them from loving the person. 

I have seen it and yes, experienced this to a degree but not matter what, these three girls have never stopped loving me and I hurt for people who do not have friends like them. I strongly believe that real friends are important to God and are one of the best ways a person can experience His love for us. 

Some of you may not know this, but I am not an easy person to love.  I can be mean, judgmental, selfish, annoying, complicated, and just plain stupid and Lord knows I have been all of this towards these three and yet, not matter what- our friendships never stagger.  Get to know my best friends: 

Kathrine. Well- she is my sister. It is funny because a lot of people have always looked at me as the "leader" either because I was just more dominant, I "sang" in church (like that is really that significant), or whatever the reason may be...BUT the thing is- they couldn't be more wrong. As our friendship has grown throughout the years, there is no doubt that I have become more dependent on this girl than she ever has been on me. She is so incredibly strong and independent. She is the most selfless and loving person I have ever been around and her ability to bring joy and laughter to the people she is around is absolutely astounding. She is the friend that knows me to my very core being. She says my thoughts before I can even say them and she knows every memory before I can recall it. With all the boys in my life, she has been there through every single one, falling both in and out of "love" with them at my side.  When I get mad, she gets mad. When I am happy, she is happy. When I am being stupid, she is stupid with me.  When I need to leave her by herself so I can go fix things with a boy (for my inability to leave things unresolved), she never holds it against me. When I distant myself from her because I am frustrated, she doesn't distant herself from me. She knows my every fault and my every sin and still loves me. She holds on to our friendship and keeps us above water because I am important to her and she is important to me. What an amazing picture of Christ's love for us. She is, without a doubt, my Shawn Hunter.

Molly- my most loyal and oldest friend. She is so loyal to the point where she can talk as much crap about me to Kathrine (only to Kat) as she wants when she gets mad at me and I don't even care because there is absolutely nothing that could be done to demolish this friendship. She means too much to me. She can misunderstand me and I can misunderstand her but no matter what, at the end of the day our friendship will stand. She looks to me for advice and she values my opinion. She reminds me to have fun and she reminds me to stay true to who I am.  When it comes to relationships, she makes sure that I am being treated like I should be. That I am being treated fair and that I am taken care of. She understands me and when she doesn't, she seeks until she does. When I need to have fun, she's the first to say "Lets skooooo." When I need to rest, she says "I'll get the wine, you get the movie." When I get into trouble, she gets into trouble with me. She, too, is so selfless and always puts my needs and wants above her own. She hates drama as much as I do and she loves hanging out with guys as much as I do. She brings the southern gentleness to my personality (with a lot of effort) and I bring the northern strength to hers.  She balances me out. She brings me down to earth when I am trying to fly high but then brings my into the sky when I feeling smashed to the ground. She is the Louise to my Thelma.

And Lilli-  Lilli is my kindred spirit.  She is my rock.  She knows my heart down to it's very depth. She reminds me that there is a point to this life and there is a purpose and the one purpose is to live life being in love with Jesus. The deepest worries, concerns, questions, and struggles I have with life, Lilli is always always there to listen and help me figure it out. She lets me talk and she gives me answers. Her friendship feeds my soul.  Whenever anything is wrong, I go to Lilli for advice because no matter what, she will never judge me.  She may not agree with me or the things I do, but she LOVES me regardless. She can be away for a year but our souls never lose touch. Our friendship never demolishes.    And not only that- but the girl makes me laugh. She brings so much joy to my life. We can laugh and laugh about the stupidest things and we have no shame in that. She lets me be nerdy and weird and corky in a way that with anyone else, I would feel dumb.  She has loved me unconditionally. In fact, I think she is the only person in this world that I have never gotten mad at.  She has never hurt me.  But I know that even if she did, it would be out of love and NEVER intentional.  That is not Lilli. She is so beautiful and has the most beautiful soul.  Her words and life inspire me and she challenges me to be better, to live better, and most importantly, to love better. She wants what is best for me and has never had a selfish grain in her body when it comes to our friendship.  Lilli Walker is truly one of the most amazing women on this earth and I have no doubt that God will do amazing things through her. Lilli is my Samwise Gamgee but also my Dori. :)

So- for those of you have continued to read- Just know that if you know or have had the privilege of having one of these three people in your lives, you are so incredibly blessed. I am so thankful for who they are and how they have influenced my life. I am who I am because of them.

There is something incredibly powerful about friendships like these.  They are such a gift and blessing from God and I am so incredibly thankful.  Especially when weeks are hard- like this one- having them there to catch me and talk to me and listen to me is incredible.

If you have friends like this, tell them how much they mean to you. FIGHT for those friendships. Don't give up so easily. Make them a priority and keep them alive. Cherish them and cultivate them.  There is no gift more valuable in this life. I promise.

If you don't, work on it. Pray for them. Search for them. You NEED them.  (Just don't go trying to steal mine. Unlike my awesome friends, I am pretty selfish when it comes to sharing them).

And if you had one of these friendships and lost it, think about what happened. Is there elements of that friendship that should be worthy of withstanding the fight or the fall out?  Are you missing a part of who you are because you let selfishness and anger get in the way? Are you too hurt? Decide to try and resolve it if it is worth it. But if it's not and the wounds have gone way to deep- learn to let it go and forgive them.  They probably never went into the friendship wanting it to end the way it did.  This doesn't mean you have to forget it but you can forgive. You can learn from it. and move on. And go be a friend you want to have.

Friends. I am so grateful today for them.  Who are you grateful for?

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