Confession time. I think that I over-zealously set my sights on writing two posts per week, and hopefully there will come a time where that is more reasonable. However, I've noticed that it's a bit impractical for me in this season of life, so I have decided to alternate weeks. Every other Friday I will post an actual "article" of sorts, and in the alternate weeks I will post a "Friday thanks" post. Does that sound good?
So without further or do, here is my "Friday thanks" post, which... okay, is really more like "Saturday thanks." (As my friend Rachel H. would say, "Wamp wamp.") But I do have a ton of things on my "thanks" list.
1.) Unexpected gifts. Our church small group leaders, PK and Christine just had a new baby girl last week. SO SWEET! So our small-group framily (friend-family) got together and a bunch of us signed up to bring meals over on various nights over the next couple of weeks to help them out so Christine doesn't have to worry as much about feeding her new family of four. Well, last Friday was my night to bring food over, so Christian and I went to go see them and bring them their dinner. While we were there, I saw this scarf on their table. I commented on how cute it was, and Christine told me she got it at a street market in Brooklyn. That's basically all that was said about it. When Sunday came, Christine returned our dutch oven. When we got home, we opened the lid, and what was inside? The scarf and the kindest little note from Christine! I'm like, "Staaaahhhhhp," it was so kind! It was such a great way to start a week, guys. Christine K, you are a thoughtful sweetheart.
2.) Roommates. Since September, Christian and I have had two girls living with us. Both of them just graduated from Moody last May, and both of them are missionary kids. Marcia (pictured above) grew up in Brazil, and Kayla grew up in Greece (although Kayla is only here a few days/month since she travels so much to film events.)
Our evenings at home usually looks something like this. Usually doing something creative whether it's music, painting, drawing, writing, photo-editing, reading, (or in Christian's case, homework).... And guys, I cannot express how thankful I am that Christian and I get to share our home with these two. I hear so many people share awful roommate stories, and I am so thankful that God has given us two, Jesus-loving creatives to have in our home for a few months. Marcia will be heading back to Brazil just after Christmas, and Kayla will be off to a new place (likely South Africa) to continue her film projects. This is a great season.
3+4.) Lauryn and cupcakes. There are so many things in this photo that I'm thankful for. Number one is obviously Lauryn. This one turned 23 this week, so we met up for lunch yesterday at a place that combines Korean and Mexican style foods called "Del Seoul". I know. Cute. Sounds weird though, right? But guys, ohhhhhhh man. The tacos. Just... the tacos. Anyway, post-lunch we walked about 4 doors down to Molly's Cupcakes. This is where we discovered the second thing I am thankful for in this photo: cupcakes. Lauryn got a s'mores cupcake, and I got the cake batter one. Ya'll, they fill the cupcakes with the most amazing goo! I have no clue what it is, but they put something incredible in the middle. Lookout, Sprinkles. You've got competition! But really, I noticed the other day that when I meet up with friends, like 60% of the time we go get cupcakes. I don't know why... I think I initially started asking friends out for cupcakes because it's a little unconventional, and I like unconventional. Is it kind of my "thing" now?
The third thing in this photo that just made our Friday even more spectacular was that their bar stools are SWINGS!!! Whaaaaaaat!? So we got to enjoy our messy cupcakes while sitting on swings! If you ever are interested in revisiting your childhood, this place is where you must go. Hands down. It will tickle you.
Anyway, Lauryn is one of those people who never fails to laugh heartily, make people feel how valuable they are, and listen with a loving ear. I love this girl, and I'm so glad they Lord has stolen her heart. Cheers to you, Lauryn!
5.) Books. Okay, this one might be totally obvious given my job, but really, books are unreal. I love them. I love reading the thoughts of people that have bothered to write them down. Christian always says that the graveyard is the richest place on earth. It's full of people who had great thoughts and ideas that were never shared. And really, I should make sure to point out that the books you see in this photo are particular. These six books are ones that I read or have been reading recently on my own time. And you know how sometimes you read something and it moves you? Not like you learn something cool from it, but that it actually moves you? These six books have moved me. Particularly The Valley of Vision, a book of Puritan prayers. If you are looking for new things to read, please do yourself a favor and read The Road Trip That Changed the World by Mark Sayers. It's one of the best books I've read to date.
That pretty much concludes my "Friday" post! Hope you all have a lovely weekend!
I have been privileged to stand among hundreds of saints from all over this world and worship.
There is something about watching image bearers from hostile nations with arms lifted to their limits, worshiping. There is something about participating in heart-gripping glory with people who have been redeemed in all races, languages, contexts and troubles that humbles me to my core.
There is nothing more beautiful. And by "nothing,' I don't mean it in the way some say "love" or "awesome," hollowly and with flippancy. I actually mean that on this side of eternity, I have never seen anything more beautiful.
I look around the room. I see faces in every shade and color. Flags representing nations. The light from the stage glows. And I think about how some of those faces will have their lives unjustly taken from them for the very reason they are in this room with me. Because they love Jesus.
It's struck me a handful of times over the years that moments like these in life are sacred. Moments that are meant to strike your core, make you swell with joy, while at the same time your eyes swell with sorrow-filled tears. Joy because this is the closest thing to eternity that I will experience this side of heaven. Sorrow because it reminds me how the earth groans to be reborn, justified, rescued.
We read of the terrors occurring. We watch our God-fearing siblings as they inhale one last time.
While these things happen, I cannot help but to think of my life. My comfortable, non-threatened, white, superfluously filled life. It amazes me that I can post a photo of my feet on Instagram the same day that twelve of my brothers and sisters are crucified on the other side of the world.
How do I reconcile this?
In talking with an acquaintance over these things at a coffee shop, this person reminded me of a great truth. He told me that while it's important and right to ache for the broken ones, humanity's injustice and those who are losing their bodily lives, it's important also to remember that regardless of our physical circumstances, our focus must be not how we might die for Christ, but rather how we might live.
In my own meditation on this I have realized that the enemy in both affliction and comfort is the same, although in one case he appears behind the merciless eyes of man, and in the other as a sweet talking serpent.
It's too easy to try to put myself in the shoes of the martyrs. It's too easy to focus on my fleshly fear of persecution. But the fact remains that our God is one of intention, not accident. And while I find myself in this life circumstance that I have been intentionally given, how then am I living? If that is my lot for this time in life, it must be my focus. And with that I must trust that if my lot changes to follow suit to my brothers and sisters on the other side of the world, that the Lord will give to me according to my need to face it.
So when I reflect on being in a room filled with worldwide saints, I can rejoice and rejoice fully. Because while we are aching for our world, we are also living in pursuit of holy glory, whatever our lot.
This is how I reconcile.