Be at peace with one another

 “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Romans 12:18

To start off I would like to state that to truly appreciate this verse and the truth it proclaims one needs to look at the context surrounding it, which talks about loving one another and abhorring evil. Therefore, I highly recommend that you spend some time in Romans 12:9-21- it’s an incredibly encouraging passage.

However, this verse in particular is one that has been on my heart and mind the past few days. I have noticed people in various parts of my life that are at odds with someone; it is quite saddening to see people harbor bitterness and resentment towards another person. I’m sure I do not have to tell you dear friend that to harbor bitterness and resentment affects the person who is holding on to it the most. This bitterness colors how we view others, affects our ability to serve our fellow Christians, and brings difficulty to our being able share the gospel with those who desperately need to hear it. This passage calls us to be at peace with one another as much as depends upon us, because it is a key element of the Christian life. However, this element involves honesty and grace. Being honest about your issues with someone in a way that is full of grace is vulnerable, frightening, humbling, and frankly hard.

However, we are still called to be at peace with one another. I think it is easy for us to stay divided from people in our lives, because we begin to view them as an enemy of sorts. This is a lie; your enemy is not your neighbor. Scripture speaks to this truth in Ephesians 6:12 which states “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” Spiritual warfare is real, and we are fighting against the sin that is in our lives and the lives of others. We are not fighting each other, so I plead with you to humbly be at peace with one another through the strength and grace that can only come from the Holy Spirit.

If someone popped into your mind as you were reading this, I encourage you to seek how you can find reconciliation with that person through prayer, scripture, and the wisdom of people who will give you gospel-centered advice. I would like to pray for you if you are seeking reconciliation with your neighbor, so please feel free to private message me.

Twenty-Three and a Half Years

There is no place to begin with something like this; my dad is gone, and far sooner than I expected. The last month has been something of a blur. He had been noticeably sick since early winter, and as the months progressed so did the cancer. Throughout this past semester, I would come over a few times a week to print something off for school or just say “hi”. I’m so thankful that I did that; doing that gave me more moments with my dad. Then the last month happened and it felt like home was becoming a hospital room rather than my parents’ house or my apartment. Family and friends stepped in to take care of us when it was clear that we were facing something truly horrendous.

The sorrow I have felt in these past few months truly is potentially soul-crushing, but the love and support I have felt has kept me afloat and reminded me of the importance of the body of Christ. I have felt the Holy Spirit sustaining me through scripture and the children of God. This week the passage in Philippians that says “the peace which passes all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” has new meaning to me. I have a peace that I don’t understand, and it is quite clearly guarding my heart and mind. This peace, love, and support can only be the result of a beautiful and glorious Heavenly Father.

Now my earthly father has gone to be with my Heavenly Father, but my Heavenly Father is still with me and my earthly father lives on in the traits that he gave my sister and I. Be sad for me if you must, but know that above all else I am thankful for the moments I was given with my dad. Some don’t get their dad as long as I had mine or they don’t get to have years and memories that sweet.

This next part is something I wrote for my dad and read to him about a week and a half ago when he was still in the ICU.

To the man who raised me. To the man who played board games with me during the summer. To the man who calmed me when I was in the midst of anxiety attacks at 2 AM. To the man who pulled a thorn out of my foot one Father’s day when I was a teen. To the man who is my biggest cheerleader when it comes to me wanting to do ministry. I love you. I am thankful for our moments. Thank you for giving me your twisted sense of humor and love for deep conversations. You’re a beautiful person.

If your parent is still alive treasure them. You don’t know when you’re going to have to look at the person you once viewed as one of the strongest people in the world in a casket. If you’re traveling and a couple of hours away from someone you care about; try your best to take the few out of the way hours to spend time with someone you care about and rarely get to see. Embrace your loved ones with the fullest joy you possibly can, and thank God for all the beautiful moments you are given with people who are dear to you.

 

 

 

I Love Tea

How did I become someone who is quite frankly a bit obsessed with tea? It’s not something that I grew up with, so there’s no childhood nostalgia attached. I don’t study the different types so that I might brew them in the most delicious way, so I clearly have no intent to be a connoisseur. I just love tea. I love the comfort that comes with sipping on a warm cup of liquid in the morning whether that morning is lazy or busy. It can be as bland or sweet and lavish as I want it to be. I love that there is variety, but also stability in this one type of product.

Perhaps I love it because of the journey I went on to get to the point of loving it. Before I drank tea I had lattes almost every day this was not good for my health or waistline, so I turned to learning how to drink tea straight. I figured if I learned to drink it straight it would be a healthier option. A few months later as I moved into a dorm suite full of tea lovers I had several opportunities to discover the loveliness that can be found in a cup of tea.

Drinking tea makes me think of sitting in the sun while listening to music, and it makes me think of tea parties on the floor with laughs and thought provoking conversation. It makes me think of the person who gave me the tea or what I was doing when I bought it. I love tea because it is both delicious and has a myriad of fond memories that I have the pleasure of remembering when I drink it or brew it. What is even more beautiful is the memories are constantly being added to. Maybe it isn’t tea, but find the thing that does this for you. Find the thing that you can enjoy both because it is something you can share with people dear to you and because you simply love the product.

Finally, treasure it. Perhaps this is cheesy, but treasure the moments you get to spend reveling in the things that innocently bring you joy. Revel in this joy whether it comes from a cup of tea or something equally as geeky. Life is stressful and chaotic, so stop and enjoy your tea.

Unlikely Circumstances

I had been praying for a mentor of sorts to come across my path. I had been discipled and mentored a few times before, and I was hoping this was a season of life in which I would have another relationship like that. I prayed to find this person for weeks, maybe even months. The answer to that prayer came in the most unlikely of ways.

I met my dear friend Esther during a Zumba class that she led for a semester. She was joyful, full of life, and coordinated. Trying to do those dance steps in front of this insanely talented Hispanic lady were the first of many times in which I would be vulnerable with her. We became friends on facebook and I noticed that she went to seminary. I thought it would be interesting to talk to her about her experience there, so I messaged her and asked if she wanted to get together. We met up and immediately started sharing our life stories, insecurities, and how God was working in our lives. She asked if I wanted to meet regularly and with little hesitation I agreed.

That was around a year and a half ago. I didn’t know when I was making a fool of myself in Zumba and meeting this almost stranger for coffee that I was in the presence of a person that would become one of my dearest friends. We could have so easily missed each other. She’s from Honduras; I’m from Indiana. She went to seminary; I go to a secular university twenty minutes away. If I had not moved home when I did… If she had not decided to take on that extra commitment and teach that Zumba class… If I had not asked her to coffee… If she had not asked to meet regularly when we did meet for coffee… If all of those things and much more had not happened we would have missed each other and the beautiful friendship we have formed.

Sometimes when I think of the uncertainties that I find myself worrying about, I think back to this answer to prayer. I remember how God perfectly orchestrated our lives to intersect at the perfect time and in the perfect way, so that we could share our struggles with each other. God intersected our lives and now we have a lifelong friend that we can cry with, laugh with, dance with, and call out in a loving way when the other is being ridiculous. God, the one who orchestrates every detail of my life, orchestrated that. How can I not trust this God? He listens to prayer. He is creative. He cares for His children. One of the ways He reminded me of these characteristics of Himself was by connecting me with Esther.

This God—his way is perfect;
    the word of the Lord proves true;
    he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

Psalm 18:30

Soap on the Sponge

Fall semester of my sophomore year of college I lived with three ladies who taught me an abundance of what it looks like to serve one another in love. The most memorable example of this happened within the first couple of weeks living with these ladies. My roommate Charissa was washing the dishes in the sink and one of them was mine. I of course thanked her for taking care of the dish and she smiled at me and said “Well, there’s already soap on the sponge.” This spoke volumes to me. Oftentimes we think of serving others as some grand gesture, but many times it is a small gesture that takes less than a minute. Matthew 6:2-4 talks about being low key when we’re giving to the needy.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

Next time there’s soap on the sponge or whatever your equivalent is, take the extra minute to serve those around you in a low key way that doesn’t draw attention to yourself. “But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret.” If we are drawing attention to when we are serving others we’re serving to be noticed not to glorify God, so be low key when you’re serving others.

We Are Not Called to Convenience

There’s  a passage in Ann Voskamp’s book be the gift that says “you can be glued to a screen or glued to your schedule or glued to your stuff- and maybe that’s just a bit of lost living. You can be a slave to getting ahead, a slave to the clock, a slave to convenience, a slave to some ill-advised American dream- and maybe that’s a lot of lost living.”

It’s easy to become absorbed in our own life and our own mess. It’s easy to have your world revolve around convenience, screens, and success. Not only is it easy for these things to happen, but it’s expected of us. Take facebook for example: we spend hours scrolling through our newsfeed reading complaints about the latest political issue and one upping people from high school that we barely care about. Why? Because it’s convenient. You could call that friend you miss or you could like their post announcing that they’re having a baby. Liking the post is quicker and more convenient, so oftentimes that is done rather than actually showing another person that you care about them.

Being engrossed in our screens, schedules, and success is ingrained in us to the extent that sometimes we think about reaching out to someone to show that we care about them, but then we don’t, because we’re afraid of it not being received well. How shameful it is that we don’t show others that we care about them, because it’s inconvenient. How shameful it is that we oftentimes are so absorbed in what is going on with ourselves that we don’t stop to listen to another soul that is in desperate despair. Instead we ignore them or let them gloss over their pain. The book of James tells us that faith without works is dead. That’s not to say that works are our source of salvation, rather if we have the Holy Spirit in us we will be prompted to act and show other people that we care about them.

Is it wrong to have a phone or a schedule or success? No, but realize that if you live your life trying to have some arbitrary picture perfect life, you’ll always be one step behind and wanting something else. Yes, there is quite a bit of value in taking care of yourself so that you can serve others well. However, the main focus of our lives should be loving God and loving others and that just does not line up with today’s American dream. We are not called to convenience; we are called to love one another. When you are prompted to show someone that you care about them, actually do it.

30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31

A Prayer for a Friend

Let the morning bring them word of Your unfailing love, may they put their trust in You. Show them the way they should go; may they entrust their life to you.

Give them wisdom about their future and trust in Your plan.

Give them a spirit that hungers and thirst for Your presence and righteousness.

Give them humility to ask for help where they need it.

Give them Godly counsel in the form of friends, family, and strangers who love You.

Give them the wisdom to keep their priorities in an order that is most pleasing to you Lord.

Thank you for their kind spirit.

Thank you for how You have worked and are working in their life.

You are wonderful Lord. I love You.

Thank you.

In Your holy name, amen.

Bible verses referenced in this prayer were Matthew 5:6 and Psalm 143:8