My Take on the Movie “Noah” (Without Revealing too Much)

The mister and I went and saw the movie “Noah” this weekend – and to be honest with you, I was kind of nervous.

Image
Picture from imdb.com.

Just like anyone else who has ever anxiously awaited the release of a movie about a historical figure they have researched and studied (ex: “Ray,” “Walk the Line,” or “The Aviator”), I was interested to see how the movie “Noah” portrayed the actual story and person in the Bible. Was it going to completely destroy the message of the story, or was it going to portray what the true story does – hard-to-swallow justice, grace, and hope?

I was pleasantly surprised.

Just to be clear from the get-go (and state the obvious), the movie “Noah” and its biblical story do not match exactly. In areas where the biblical account is both loose and firm, Darren Aronofsky (the director) took quite a bit of creative liberty. Although, I personally found some of these things hard to watch (because they were in complete opposition to the actual story), my encouragement to everyone is the same: Read the actual account (link to actual account) and then see the movie, but remember…it’s just a movie. I am fairly certain the director is not a historian and was not set on portraying the story as it actually happened in the first place. (Exhale…it’s going to be okay.)

At the same time, I wouldn’t use the movie to formulate a comprehensive opinion about God – you should probably check out the biblical account first. (And explore the other biblical texts surrounding it.)

Alright…now to my point:

Although there has been much controversy surrounding the film, I think there are several truths that exist within it. And because I know you’re dying to know my opinion (just kidding), I’ll share them with you:

“Noah” is faithful in reminding me that we were all created.

Throughout the movie, a constant theme is creation. The creation story is told and retold several times, and special effects are even used to show how creation may have happened. God is referred to as “the Creator” and it is clear that all He created was created for a purpose. It’s a compelling truth.

None of us were an accident. Out of nothing, God created something. He created the animals, the trees, and you and me. How it happened is secondary (for I think it could have happened in a variety of ways), but it’s obvious that it happened. Out of nothing, came something, so where did things come from? (Even with the Big Bang Theory, the matter had to exist beforehand. Even if we evolved, we had to evolve from something.)

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” – Genesis 1:1-2

“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him.” – Colossians 1:16

“Noah” displays the fact that we are all broken.

The “men” in “Noah” are scary people. They are a society of people bent on pleasing themselves, even if it hurts others. Because of this and a few other elements, the movie is quite dark.

Sometimes the world we live in is, too.

Murder, injustice and manipulation surround us. Just watch the news or read the paper, and you’ll see it clearly. We are prone to want what we want for our own benefit. Perfection within the human race does not exist, for even in the midst of our good deeds, we can hold selfish motives. Noah wasn’t perfect. I’m not perfect. And neither are you.

“For all have sinned (a archery term meaning we’ve “missed the mark”) and fall short of the glory of God.” – Romans 6:23

We need to be saved from our mess.

“Noah” illustrates the hard-to-face fact that the wages of sin is truly death.

This is a common theme throughout the movie (obviously).

God created us. He didn’t have to, but he did. And just like a painter, he didn’t create us without a purpose. He created us to be something beautiful – a race full of love, joy and peace. He created us to enjoy him and his creation forever.

He told Adam and Eve to continue the human race – to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). At the same time, however, he gave them a choice. They could choose to live the way God intended them to live (in peace, love and harmony) or they could go their own way (a way that made them feel powerful and in control).

He gave them a tree and told them not to eat off of it…but they did.

They chose to cut their own path, make their own rules, and pursue a life of “happiness” apart from God – and we still seek to do this today. We put all of our hope in things that don’t last forever (our bodies, our wardrobe, our friends, our jobs, etc.) and we use these things to feel better about ourselves. We think these things, over a relationship with God, will satisfy.

We get so distracted by making ourselves god that we ignore the fact that a real God truly exists.

God is clear on what we earn for doing this.

“For the wages of sin is death…” – Romans 6:23

There’s hope, though.

At the same time, “Noah” presents the truth that God is a God of grace, redemption, and second chances.

Although the wages of sin is death (just like the wages of mowing somebody’s lawn might be $75), there is hope.

“But the gift of God is eternal life in Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 6:23

 

“If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” – Romans 10:9

 

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” – Ephesians 2:8&9

When no one else could save us, God sent Jesus to die for our sins. All of our sins were cast on him and he paid the ransom for our lives. He calls us to seek him, to know him, and to follow him.

He’s a God of second chances. If you see the movie or read the book, you’ll hear this anthem ring.

“Noah” reminds us of the power of trusting in God.

In the movie, Noah was continually in danger. This is something the biblical account doesn’t tell us, but I’m guessing it’s true. (Think about it…if a flood comes and only one person has a boat, what’s going to happen?) Noah continually risked his own life to stand up for himself, his family, and the calling of God. He trusted that God would accomplish his purposes if only he was obedient. No risk, no danger, no outcome was too great. He trusted God and kept walking.

When I reflect on my own life, I have to wonder if I’m doing the same thing. Am I standing up for what I believe in and trusting that God will accomplish his purposes in my life, or am I fearful of the ways in which others will perceive me? Am I distracted by fear, or am I joyfully walking through this life knowing that even in death, I will have life?

“Where O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” – 1 Corinthians 15:55

Trusting in God comes with assurance in this life and the next. I can rest confidently in Him.

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

 

“I’m convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nether the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:38 & 39

May we not miss out on the opportunity that comes our way.

Retracing Jelly Beans

Life is full of jelly beans.

I know this sounds funny, but if you’ve ever heard any childhood story about a character tracking their path through a forest by dropping the chewy treat behind them as they go, you know what I’m talking about. We didn’t get where we are by accident…little events throughout life led us here.

I call these things jelly beans.

Some of these jelly beans can be painful and they have to be retraced, picked up, examined, and thrown away in order to get back on the right track, but others lead us to the right place – the place we need to be.

This is how trust has played out in my life.

Right now, the mister and I are in a season of planning. We are examining what we want to do after business school, where we want to be, and what we want things to look like in 2.5 years. The problem is I hate planning. I enjoy plotting out my day and looking forward to the week ahead, but I despise planning out the long-term. (This is probably due to the fact that things always change and plans typically evolve into new plans, but regardless of how I feel about it, sometimes, you just have to do it.) For some reason, it tends to bring out the worst in me. I am always fearful of making the wrong decision and therefore try to not make one at all.

This state has led me to examine my jelly beans…

Jelly bean one: Giving In

I’ll go into this story more in future posts, I’m sure, but this jelly bean was dropped the summer before my senior year of high school.

I was drunk at party and was sitting on a balcony overlooking the crowd below me. I examined my life and longed for something more. I knew various bible stories, was baptized at a young age, and even had the desire to follow God, but other things had always seemed more appealing (my social status, my ambitions, my own comfort, etc.). After years of refusing to listen to the Lord, I finally gave in.

I decided to trust Him with my life, and things, though still hard at times, have never been the same since. 

Jelly bean two: The Break-up

This jelly bean was awful.

My sophomore year of college my boyfriend and I broke up. (Something I thought would never happen.) I remember walking down the hallway of my college dorm wondering if I would ever get over it. I was too sad to eat, too confused to think straight, and was utterly disappointed in how the cards had fallen in my life. I remember looking at the doors of all of the other rooms wondering if the people inside were happy. Were they satisfied with life? Or were they, like me, heartbroken? Was I alone?

The Lord led me to two verses that guided me during this time:

“The mind of the sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace.” – Romans 8:6

AND

“Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.” – Philippians 4:8

 I rehearsed these verses every day for almost a year. As I walked around campus, drove to events, or ate in the dining hall, I repeated them in my mind.   

I had a choice. I could focus my thoughts on things I didn’t know or I could focus on the things I did. I didn’t know all of the answers behind my situation. I didn’t know what the Lord was going to do in the future or what He was in the process of doing in the present. All I knew was the truth – He was good, and He never acted without purpose. 

Each and every day for a year-and-a-half consisted of burdensome pain, and, at times, doubt. “Did I make the right decision? Am I doing the right thing? If I am, why is it so hard?”

In the end, it all boiled down to trust.

 No part of it was easy, but with the help of my sister (who I called at least 3 times a day), the patience of good friends (who allowed me to cry at inappropriate times and talk the issue into the ground), and God’s grace, I healed. The Lord taught me to trust Him – and He walked me through it tear by tear until I showed up on the other side.

That was seven years ago.

There have been other jelly beans along the way, and they have all communicated the same thing: God is aware of what’s happening, He is good, He is able to provide, and I, therefore, should trust him. Through the death of a close family friend, to the hurt of feeling judged because of my past, He has proved faithful and has reassured me that He’s working in the midst of hard or unfortunate circumstances. Wherever He leads me is the best place to be.

So what do these jelly beans have to do with my current situation?

Today, as I type, I’m confused. I don’t know what I want to do, I feel frustrated, and I am tired after a long few days of school. (In fact, this past month has just worn me out.) I don’t want to plan. I don’t want to move to move again. (From Midland to Boston and then from Boston to…) What’s going to happen to my friendships here in Midland? What’s going to happen to my friendships in Boston and Dallas? Am I ever going to have deep community again?

This morning, I opened up the Word and read in Psalm 139 (where I typically go when I’m fed up with myself):

“O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways” (vs.1-3).

Even when I’m confused about who I am, how I feel, or how I fit into some picture, God knows. He knows me. He is aware of my ways – my habits, my thoughts, my hurts, and my activities. I’m never as lost as I think I am.

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (vs. 7-10).

Even if I feel alone, I’m not. I never am. He is always with me and his Spirit will guide me – if only I listen.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb…All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (vs. 13&16).

God created me (and you). He formed my body. Piece by piece he put together my personality, the bed of my emotions, and my natural abilities. He knows where I am going and how He is going to use me there. He sees the big picture – even when I can’t see anything.

I’m not sure how my current situation is going to play out, but I know the jelly beans in my past remind me to trust Him.

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” – Psalm 139:23&24

I don’t know where you are or what’s going on in your life, but I know you have a trail of jelly beans behind you. Where have they led you? What have they shaped you to believe?

If you’re struggling, keep fighting. God is worth trusting. He promises to give you life, even though it may not always be easy. Rely on Him. Look to Him. Pray…

“Lord, see where I am and help me! Examine the parts of me I cannot see and lead me to repentance. Help me walk with you. Renew my heart so that I’m not focused on the negative in my life but on your grace which is the greatest gift of all. Change me. Make me more like you. Lead me to a place of trust – for I know you are faithful.”

Five Lessons I Learned from One Year of Marriage (That I Should have Learned a LONG Time Ago)

One month ago today, the mister and I celebrated our one-year anniversary.

Image
December 29th, 2012 (Geoff Duncan Photography)

As one can expect, living with someone of the opposite sex for the first time can be quite an experience, and as I’ve been doing some reflecting, I’ve been amazed at all of the things I have learned. To be honest, picking what to write about is quite hard, for I feel as though there are many options.

For example, I could tell you about how the things you simply don’t care about (the ‘fluffiness’ of your pancakes) might really matter to someone else (like, your spouse), how the movies you think are absolutely amazing (“March of the Penguins”) may not be of any interest to other people (like…your spouse), or how coming up with other ways to describe household items (like a duvet cover or a Crock-Pot liner) may be needed to help someone else (yep…your spouse) know what you’re talking about.

The list could go on and on.

However, if I had to narrow everything down, I would say there are five main lessons I’ve learned in my first year of marriage. The funny thing is, I think these lessons apply to life outside of marriage, too. In fact, I wish I had put them into practice more as a single person.

If you don’t mind, I’d like to share them with you.

Here are the 5 biggest things I have learned in one year of marriage that I should have learned (or practiced more) while I was single:

1. You can only be responsible for you.

Now before you start thinking that I’ve gone off on some “Mrs. Independent-only-think-about-yourself train,” let me reassure you that I haven’t. What I’m talking about here is the concept that in conflict, and in life, we can’t control or change anyone except for our self.  Or, in other words, only God can change hearts, and we’re missing the point if we’re focused on what He needs to do in another person’s heart and not on what He needs to do in our own.

In conflict, this plays out when you die to yourself, own your own faults, ask for forgiveness, and do your best to reconcile things, even if the other person is unapologetic or uninterested in the examination of their own behavior. It’s looking inside of yourself and praying for clarity on the places in your heart that are in desperate need of God’s touch – and admitting them. (See Matthew 7:3.)

In action, it’s not doing what you feel like you can do because the other person did something that you feel justifies your response. It’s choosing to not seek revenge or have a hard heart. It’s choosing to use gentle words to explain your case, even if the other person is not. It’s responding rightly, even when it’s hard. (And for me, it’s always hard.)

It’s saying, “Neither one of us did things perfect here, but I’m going to focus on what I did incorrectly, how I caused pain, and ask God to work in me.”

It’s choosing to not waste time pointing fingers at someone else when an opportunity for self-reflection, humility and growth is staring you right in the face.

2. Your hope, identity and satisfaction can only be found in one place.

This one is really difficult for me.

After two big moves (one to Boston and one to Midland) I’ve had to rely on my husband socially more than I ever thought I would have to. In Dallas, where my life was pretty well settled, I had a community of friends, a church I was active in, and a schedule that was full of events. Moving to Boston changed everything, and I looked to my husband to fill in the gaps.  Even the ones he was never meant to fill.

The Lord, through it all, has sweetly reminded me that only He truly satisfies – and his satisfaction is deeply fulfilling.

My husband cannot fill me up. No matter how awesome he is (and he is AWESOME), he will crush my expectations and leave me disappointed – and I will do the same to him. Life isn’t easy and marriage is hard. I cannot put the burden of my satisfaction on his shoulders. He was not created to carry such a heavy load. And no one else is either.

Your job, your family, your boyfriend, your friends, your diet…none of them can truly bring lasting satisfaction. Temporary pleasure? Sure, but it won’t last.

In John 4, we find a story about a woman.

Not only is the woman a Samaritan, which means she’s a social outcast, but she’s also quite promiscuous. Her need for affection or security has drawn her into the arms of five men, none of which are her husband. One day she goes to a well to draw water and she meets Jesus. They talk.

As the woman reaches down to fill her bucket with water, Jesus says to her:

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4:13 & 14

The satisfaction and fullness that is found in Jesus is beyond comparison. He brings eternal peace and joy. He’s the solution. When all else fails – and when everything is going well – he can be trusted. He quenches our deepest thirsts so that we don’t have to run to temporary things to feel complete. He satisfies.

3. Words are powerful.

Unfortunately, I’ve learned this one the hard way.

Ephesians 4:29 reads like this:  “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

When emotions are roaring and when conflict hits the fan, these are hard words to live by. Sometimes, instead of speaking the truth with gentleness and in love, I choose to say whatever I think of in whatever manner feels best – and sometimes it hurts others.

Proverbs 17:27&28 reads, “The one who has knowledge uses words with restraint, and whoever has understanding is even-tempered. Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues.”

Words are powerful. Calm down, take a breath, and use caution.

4. There is danger in comparison, so watch what you feed yourself.

In every woman’s bible study, this truth is touched on; however, I’ve come to realize that I need to be reminded of it often.

We are officially living in a technology driven world. All around us are status updates, Instagram pictures, and Tweets about how great someone else’s life is. If we’re not careful, we can lose sight of the things the Lord has blessed us with.

I remember the year I graduated from college…

I was on Facebook one night looking at all of my friends who were traveling the world sharing the Gospel with the lost or helping orphans in some foreign country. I remember thinking I was a pathetic individual wasting time in corporate America when there was a life that really meant something out there waiting for me. Instead of thanking the Lord for the place He had me and surrendering to Him to lead me wherever He would choose, I became discontent. I wanted to be anywhere besides where I was.

If I’m not careful, the same thing can happen today.

I see a friend who goes on a romantic date and I start wondering why my husband and I never go on cool dates. I see new moms with their precious new babies and wish I had one. I see pictures of fancy vacations and immediately start wishing I was on a beach somewhere…

I think we’ve all been there.

Lately, I’ve been challenged by this verse found in Philippians 4:8:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent and praiseworthy – think about such things.”

Although I have a wonderful husband, a roof over my head, and a God who loves me, it’s easy for me to get distracted. When I start comparing my life to the lives of those around me, negativity slowly creeps in. Instead of trusting the Lord with my circumstances and walking with Him through them, I start wishing he had me somewhere else.

Don’t get me wrong; social media can be used for great things. At the same time, however, it can be a rather dangerous thing. Comparison is a thief. Choose gratitude.

5. Understanding is the goal.

The Mister and I are very different. He likes numbers, while I like words. He likes thoughts, while I like feelings. He likes to fly, but I like road trips. He wears shoes outside…and sometimes I don’t.

We are VERY different.

Over the past year, I have come to appreciate our differences, for in them is our biggest strength as a couple. They make us a good team. It seems as though his passions and strengths balance out my disdains and weaknesses – and vice versa. Through our differences, we are able to stay balanced and well rounded. At the same time, however, I’ve learned that our differences push us toward conflict and, if not monitored, our conflict can turn into a war.

In pre-marital counseling, we learned that the goal in conflict is not to win but to gain understanding. I think this truth, though hard, is worth remembering.

Most of the time the issue worth talking about isn’t the issue that’s being talked about. For example, it’s not the fact that you HATE talking about finances, it’s the fact that he probably feels disrespected when you won’t. Sometimes it’s not the issues on the surface that are the issues but something a little deeper.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peach of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body, you were called to peace. And be thankful” (Colossians 3:12-15).

I am no expert in this marriage thing (obviously), but I am grateful for the Word of God and the fact that it is reliable. I’m thankful for the paths He takes us down and the things He shows us along the way. He truly is a guide to the lost and a breath of fresh air to the lifeless.

Image
December 29th, 2013 (Photo creds to Doug Klembara)

The road goes on forever, and the party never ends! (Line taken from Robert Earl Keen although, in this context, it probably doesn’t mean what he intended it to mean originally…) Cheers!

A Few Thoughts on 2013 and the Year Ahead

It’s hard to believe that it is officially 2014. Few things fly as quickly as time.

This past year was quite a whirlwind for me.

The year started while we were on our honeymoon in Puerto Rico, and it has taken us from a tiny brownstone in Boston to a garage apartment, of sorts, in Midland, TX. I got a new job, quit the new job, and started school, while my husband left the company he was working for to help his father run the family business. We’ve made 3 visits to the ER, almost died kayaking at night through a tree-covered canal (or, at least I thought we were going to die), and have experienced a bombing, a blizzard, and a region-wide, government-ordered lockdown.

Image
The mister and me outside after the blizzard in Boston
fenway2
First Red Sox game after the Boston Marathon Bombing (and the game where I lost my phone)

It’s been one heck of a year.

I lost my cell phone 3 times (once on the T, once at Fenway, and once at the pool). I learned how to assemble furniture, take the public transportation system in Boston, and how to hook up cable TV and Internet. I learned what a “Zip Car” is and that I should eat before getting into a taxi so that I don’t get sick. Together, the mister and I bought a car and gave away a couch. We went to Jamaica and Mexico, and celebrated a wedding in New York City. My Dallas roommate got engaged, and one of my best friends of over 20 years got married. We watched over 28 episodes of both “How I Met Your Mother” and “Nashville,” and we learned how to make a quiche. We laughed really hard, and I cried a few times. (I tend to express emotion a little more than my husband.)

car
The mister and me in front of the first car we purchased together
IMG_0828
The mister and me in Central Park

Again, it’s been one heck of a year – and it’s been a humbling one for me. I think humility comes with growth, most of the time.

Yesterday morning, as I reflected on 2013, I came across a verse that encouraged me deeply.

“So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” – Ephesians 5:15-21

This verse seems to sum up the struggles I’ve had over this past year. At the same time, it gives me guidance on how to live my life to the fullest in the year to come.

1. “So be careful how you live…Make the most of every opportunity…Don’t act thoughtlessly…”

Over the past year, there have been many times when I’ve only thought about myself, and my own needs, instead of the needs of others.  At moments, I became so narrowly focused that I forgot how to love others well. This verse reminds me of a greater way of living. I’m capable of throwing my life away by living it for myself. I must remember to think. I’ve been given a purpose – and I’m praying I live by it.

2. “Don’t be drunk with wine…Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit.”

This verse isn’t saying that alcohol is wrong, but it is saying that abusing the things the Lord has given us is. For me, this verse not only serves as a warning against a life of drunkenness, but also a warning against living a life that continually chooses the ways of this world over the ways of the Lord. In other words, continually choosing destructive paths over the way of life. Over this past year, I have made a few of those choices. I have chosen to give way to my anger instead of expressing myself in truth and love. I have lusted after things I want and have chosen pleasure over lasting peace. I’m reminded that life isn’t found in fleeting things. “There is [truly] a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 16:25). The Lord created me, and He knows the path that leads to life. I am reminded to stop choosing things he wouldn’t want for me to choose and instead, trust Him with my life and all of the decisions it contains.

3. “Singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God…”

All of the changes experienced over this past year have left me feeling discouraged, at times. Leaving old friends, making new ones, and then leaving them has taken its toll, and I’ve struggled with loneliness and isolation.  This verse reminds me that instead of walking around with my head hung down, I ought to worship God and thank him for the wonderful things (both material and not) in my life. My heart should be focused on worship – not on myself. If my head is hung low, I cannot see all that God is doing around me. I’m encouraged to live a life of worship and to be thankful.

4. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Obviously, this one plays out the most in my marriage. (See note on what submission is, and what it isn’t, below.) This verse reminds me that instead of insisting on my own way of doing things (which I’m guilty of), I ought to allow my husband to lead out in our marriage. I ought to listen to him and respect him, instead of only hearing what I want to hear. Allowing my husband to lead us through this life is a way of honoring and worshiping God. What a sweet reminder!

While I spent a lot of last year wishing I were in Dallas, hoping that we could find a church like Watermark (the church I attended in Dallas), or wishing my Dallas friends lived in Midland or Boston, I failed to remember that life is short.

Psalm 90:12 reads, “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

None of us know how long we will walk this earth. We don’t know when our time will be up. The truth is, it could be tomorrow – or even today. My prayer for 2014 is that the Lord teaches me to number my days, and that I remember the truths I was reminded of in Ephesians 5:15-21.

He has given me a purpose. He knows the way to life. Worship. Be thankful. Remember that life is short. Love well and live free.

“Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all of our days.” – Psalm 90:14

Happy New Year! May you live life well in 2014.

IMG_0735
Midland, TX sunset

*** I know the word “submission” has a really bad reputation, so I want to reassure you that it is not some weird, twisted, or dehumanizing thing. Submission is not a silent obedience to whatever your husband wants you to do. In the Bible, the husband is given the task of loving his wife like Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25), which means that a husband is to love his wife by caring for her needs, walking in humility, encouraging her, and laying down his own life to the point of death. (Christ loved us so much that he died a gruesome and horrible death on the cross.) This makes submission not a thing of suppression or abuse but a thing of safety and trust. The goal is that the husband loves the wife so well that she is able to trust him and his leadership of the family…more on this in another post soon.)

The Hope for Our Chaos

The countdown is almost over. Christmas is almost here.

I love this time of year; the Christmas lights, the trees, the music, the cold (or somewhat cold) weather, and the spirit that fills people. It’s truly magical.

Whether or not you believe in the person and work of Jesus, Christmas is a celebration of Him. He was the baby who was born in a cave (or a manger), the one the wise men came to see, and the one who died on a cross 33 years or so later. Whether or not you believe in Jesus, and whether or not you believe that what He claimed/s is true, it’s obvious that He caused a stir in this world – and that things, since Him, have never been the same.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus.

You see, sometimes I hear the story of Jesus’ birth and forget the magnitude of what that birth meant for me. I read the Christmas story and I sing the carols, but I fail to reflect on the fact that Jesus was a real person who came to this earth to die on a cross. I forget to remember that because of his birth, I have hope in the midst of chaos and a salvation that can never be taken away from me.

If I’m being honest with you, this year has had its rough patches. The changes associated with marriage (new locations, new churches, the changing of communities, etc.), the loss of loved ones, and the various battles with deep-seeded idols have left me feeling low at times. In areas where I used to feel strong, I have felt weak, and in areas where I once felt peace, I’ve felt unsettlement. There hasn’t been an area of my life that hasn’t been jostled by the Holy Spirit, it seems.

As I’ve been thinking through all of this stuff, I have thought about Jesus.

On a cold night over 2,000 years ago, God sent his only Son into a world torn by violence, madness, and prejudice to redeem it. He knew his son was going to die on the cross and he knew the world would reject him, but He sent him anyways.

You see, Jesus’ birth is not some distant event; it is something very relevant to us today. It is not some general idea; it is something extremely intimate. On that night, Jesus not only stepped into the confusion and chaos of the world at large, but He also stepped into the chaos and confusion of our hearts – and in that, we can find hope.

Our insecurity, our pride, our lack of forgiveness, our self-concern, our materialism, our bitterness, our unhealthy way of coping with life, our addiction, our worry, our doubt, our temporary fix, our overindulgence, our self-worship, our inability to serve others, our broken heart, our loss, our co-dependency, our need to control everything, and all of our other issues – Jesus stepped into. And I believe He longs to put it all in its proper place.

Isaiah 7:14 reads as follows:

“The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”

Immanuel means, “God with us.” (See Matthew 1:23.) This is a big deal.

God didn’t see our chaos and run. He saw our chaos and stayed in it. He didn’t flee – and, perhaps, because of this, we can know that our “junk” isn’t too much for Him.

God is with us.

When I feel confused, lonely, worn out, and unsure of what to do, I must remember this. I must remember that there’s nothing too big for Him. He saw the chaos, and He came. He sees the chaos, and He’s still here. I can trust Him.

I don’t know what you’re going through. You may be having the year of your life, or you may be down in the trenches of a battle, but one thing is certain:

God is with us. He is not dead – He hasn’t vanished.

He is the maker of the stars and the healer of our hearts. There is hope.

Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing this Christmas, may the joy and hope of Christ fill your heart and mind.

“We do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us and eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” – 2 Corinthians 4:16-17

Merry Christmas!

Something We Can All Be Thankful For

Each November, I watch friends and family complete the “’I’m thankful for _______’ Thanksgiving Challenge” on Facebook. Although I think the idea is genius, and truly believe that gratitude can change even the grimmest pessimist’s heart, this year, I’ve struggled with it.

You see, this year has been hard for a lot of people.

Just in my immediate circle, I’ve had one friend lose a 10 year+ battle with cancer, leaving behind a husband and her kids, while another friend got diagnosed with the disease. I’ve had friends find out they can’t have kids, while one of my other friends lost the baby she was carrying at full-term. Family members have passed, neighbors have lost jobs, and natural disasters have ripped the possessions away from entire communities.

It’s been a rough one – and writing about the “good” things in my life has felt insensitive at times.

Obviously, I know that we should never shy away from being thankful for the things we have, but making a public declaration of them while so many people are suffering…

I think you get my point.

The other day, however, I came across something we can all be thankful for – regardless of economic position, health, size of family, or location – and I want to share it with you.

In case you don’t know, the worship of God used to operate on a code of sacrifices. Now, for the sake of being less wordy than I could be, let me just explain it like this:

God is perfect. He created man and woman in a perfect place and asked them to follow Him, but they chose to sin. (In other words, they chose something they knew would lead them away from God.) Therefore, all of their children were born sinful, and their children after them. Sin (the inability to be perfect) was bred into the family tree of humanity – and no one was/is free of it. Now, fast-forward through multiple Patriarchs (founding fathers of sorts) and you land on the Israelites, a nation of people God set aside to represent him on earth. The Israelites, who were just led out of slavery in Egypt by God’s power through Moses, are wandering in the desert when God gives commands to Moses. The commands lined out the path to a full life and the way to have a relationship with God.

Now, because perfection cannot dwell with imperfection, God (perfection) created a way for man (imperfection) to have a relationship with him. He created the sacrificial system. Sacrifices were listed. Goats, sheep, and other animals were to be killed in order to atone for the sin of the people. Only blood would work – and only the blood of a perfect animal.

Ok…this brings me back to my point.

I was reading the other day, when I came across this verse, and it made me thankful:

“The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who were ceremonially unclean (too dirty to come before the Lord) sanctif[ied] them so that they [were] outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!” – Hebrews 9:13&14

If you’re like me, you’ve felt the weightiness of sin.

You’ve said something you shouldn’t have said, done something you shouldn’t have done, and gone somewhere you didn’t need to be. You’ve hurt people, lied to people, and have pushed others aside. You’ve discounted life to follow your own desires and have felt the emptiness that follows.

Sin stinks – and it’s not a friend to any of us.

There was a time in my life when I tried to fix my issues with sin. I tried to force my sin into a box so that it didn’t affect anyone and didn’t cause harm like it had in the past. However, the stuffing didn’t work.

Hearts can never be changed by external things.

You see, the verse above mentions that the Old Testament rituals that the Israelites performed didn’t save them. The rituals didn’t cleanse their insides because, as the text says, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls to take away sins” (10:4). By faith that God was who he said he was, the Israelites performed sacrifices, but it didn’t do the trick.

Externally, through the sacrifices, the Israelites were made clean, but only through faith in God (which eventually led to Christ’s sacrifice on the cross) were they made, internally clean.

Through Christ’s perfect sacrifice (he was without sin), I am made clean. His death covered all of my imperfections making me internally clean before God. Even though I still sin, it doesn’t have to define me because when God sees me, he sees the blood of his Son – the only truly perfect sacrifice.

I can have fellowship with God because His blood covers me. A blood sacrifice has always been his standard.

“By one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” – Hebrews 10:14

Christ died for me – and he died for you, too. Christ’s death on the cross was enough…forever. No matter how many good things you do, without Christ, you are only cleaning up the outside.

I don’t know where you are or what you believe, but there is a God, He’s faithful, He loves you, and He wants you to know Him. I know Him – and because of that I’m forgiven and bound for Heaven.

In Him, there’s hope that never fades. It isn’t dependent upon anything this world has to offer. Rich, poor, with, or without, it’s available.

I’m thankful for the grace of God and his work on the cross. I’m thankful that he didn’t leave me to die in my sin, but by his compassion and grace (unmerited favor), He saved me.

I’m thankful – and that’s for sure.

“Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” – Hebrews 3:15

Kacey Musgraves, Magazine Covers, and the Deception of Happiness

Image

Anyone who knows me could tell you I am a genuine Country Music junkie.

Unfortunately, possibly because of my natural bent, I am attracted to the more rebellious songs within the genre. (For example: Johnny Paycheck’s “Take this Job and Shove It,” Tim McGraw’s “Indian Outlaw,” Garth Brooks’ unedited version of “The Thunder Rolls,” and Miranda Lambert’s “Heart Like Mine.”)

Recently, however, a song has emerged from a very talented – and pretty hip – young artist named Kacey Musgraves that has caused my head to spin.

The name of the song is “Follow Your Arrow,” and although it’s a catchy tune, the lyrics are quite controversial. Here’s a snapshot of the chorus:

“When the straight and narrow
Gets a little too straight
Roll up a joint, or don’t
Just follow your arrow
Wherever it points, yeah
Follow your arrow
Wherever it points.”

The song plays off of all of the hypocrisies we experience in life (which is pretty brilliant), but the application of the song is…um…well…I’ll get to that in a bit.

A couple of weeks ago, the Mister and I were in line at Wal-Mart, and, in efforts to waste time, I started checking out the front pages of the magazines stuffed in the display rack.

“Us Weekly” highlighted a Kardashian divorce and another Kardashian’s engagement. “People” advertised its interview with a musician about her recent separation, and the magazine next to it displayed Barbara Streisand and her, speculated, future ex-husband.

My heart broke – and I immediately started thinking about my own life.

You see, I haven’t always had a relationship with the Lord. There was a time when I did everything and anything that I wanted to (or tried to), and it left me with a since of emptiness deep down inside. It was dark, lonely, and depressing. Sure! I had friends – and I enjoyed some of the things I dabbled in, but my heart felt sick.

All I wanted was to be happy, but nothing seemed to satisfy.

When I TRULY trusted in the Lord (who He was, what He did, and what that meant for me) toward the end of high school, my life slowly started to change, and, by God’s grace, I began to find my definition in Him and how He created me to live. Today, I’m really different than I once was.

In this process, I found that happiness existed, and it was wonderful when it did, but because of its fleeting nature, it was not worth worshiping. Even in the midst of difficult circumstances, the Lord promised peace and assurance that He knew what was going on and that He would provide for all of my needs. I didn’t have to strive to obtain all that I “wanted” in this life because in Christ I found a hope that went beyond circumstances.

I never had this kind of comfort before I got to really know God.

So, what’s my point?

As I stared at the people on the front of those magazines, I realized that I’m not much different than them. Even though I know the Lord, it’s easy for me to give into what this culture feeds me.

You see, we are told to seek what we want, and do what we want, as long as it makes us happy. Happiness is the goal – and anything you give up in pursuit of it is well worth it. Unfortunately, when I look at my own life, actions and thoughts, I see traces of where I’ve already sold myself out to the lie:

 “I know I really shouldn’t say this, but I’m going to because it’s going to make me feel better.” OR “If only I could land that job, then I would happy.”

Happiness seems like a cool concept. We seek it out in almost everything we do. We think if we do what we want, when we want to do it, life will be just the way we want it to be.

However, there are two flaws in this theory:

First, can we all get what we want when we want different things? (Meaning, we can’t all be happy at the same time.)

Often times, our belief in “happiness” takes away from the “happiness” of others. We hold the flag, yelling “HAPPINESS FOR ALL,” but it’s simply impossible.

People show off their middle finger to people in traffic because it makes them feel better about their current situation, even though it makes the recipient of the finger unhappy. Neighbors keep their yelping dogs outside because they want to be able to do what they want with the animals they bought, adopted, or brought in, but it causes others to lose sleep and, therefore, be unhappy.

I want to listen to my music louder than the person next to me at every red light – but it makes the person next to me mad.

Secondly, happiness isn’t permanent.

My cute clothes, which currently make me happy, are, more than likely, not going to fit in a few years. That race you’re training for, more than likely, won’t be a possibility when you’re 90. The car you drive, the house you’re building, the kids you live for, and the new diet you’re totally “crushing” are all awesome – they just won’t bring you happiness forever. They will all, at some point, disappoint you.

“As a thief is disgraced when he is caught, so the house of Israel (a group of people who were set apart to worship the Lord) is disgraced – they, their kings and their officials, their priests and their prophets. They say to wood, ‘You are my father,’ and to stone, ‘You gave me birth.’ They have turned their backs to me and not their face; yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come save us!’ Where are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble!” – Jeremiah 2:26-28

You see, happiness can’t save us.

In fact, happiness flies out the window whenever the thing we want to be saved from happens. With the smallest bump in the road, it’s gone. Happiness is a roller coaster – some days it’s there and other days it’s not. Although we want to be happy all of the time, we simply cannot be.

We want happiness to be our emotional state all of the time. We want happiness to be our security – the thing we run to in efforts to find life. We want it to last forever.

We want to be what it was never intended to be – we want it to be God.

What does all of this mean? If happiness can’t be had by everyone at the same time, then what? If happiness isn’t constant and can easily crash to the ground, then what’s the point?

Perhaps, we weren’t made for happiness. Maybe, what we were created for is MUCH bigger.

Only God is certain. He created life, so we can trust Him when we need to know how to live it. Yes! He allows us to enjoy life, and experience feelings of happiness, but He also lets us know that there will be hard times:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die, time to plant and a time to uproot…a time to mourn and a time to dance.” – Ecclesiastes 3:1,2 &4

He also says that He provides peace and joy – both of which can exist, even when life gets rough.

“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:4-7“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” – James 1:2 and 3

Sure. I can try to buy what I want to buy so that I feel happy. I can try to climb the corporate ladder to prove myself to others – and feel happy about it. The truth is, however, these things won’t last forever.

The promise that in Christ, I’m enough, and by his blood I’m saved is the truth. It’s worth banking on because it will never fail me.

There will be one day when He will wipe away every tear from our eyes – but that day doesn’t happen until heaven. And in heaven, the word “happiness” won’t even come close to describing what we will feel. It will be “happiness” off of the charts.

Today though, happiness is only temporary…and not universal.

The people on the front of the magazines at Wal-Mart got married because they wanted to be “happy,” but then they filed for divorce. Why? Because they wanted to be “happy” – even if the other person in the party is left in despair. (Please see the note at the bottom of this post.*)

Happiness is not permanent – so why do we worship it?

We have a purpose in this life, and it’s much bigger than what the world tells us.

Kacey, you say that my happiness, regardless of what it causes others, is what matters most, but I’m not buying it. Feel free to “follow your arrow wherever it points,” but I’m going a different direction.

“The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.”  – 1 John 2:17

(P.S. This post is IN NO WAY meant to bring down Kacey Musgraves. In fact, I think she is one of the most talented writers out there right now. I’m simply noting that we seem to have different approaches in the way we think through life.)

* Obviously, I don’t know why everyone gets divorced. At the same time, I know that I am fully capable of making decisions that would lead me down the same path. I also know that some people get divorced because their own life is in danger due to abuse. If you are being abused, please seek help. (http://www.thehotline.org/)

Photo taken from huffingtonpost.com

What I learned from “Ella Enchanted”

We ellaenchanted1315_l (2)all have our vices – our pits, sticky spots, or hang-ups. You know, those places that you keep falling into even though you try as hard as you can to get out of them?

For some, it’s addiction to alcohol or even exercise. For others it’s perfectionism. It can even be a variety of things mixed together.

Personally, I have many.

Several months ago, my husband and I hit a patch of conflict over how we were going to handle holidays once we moved back to Texas. With each statement shared and each opinion aired, I could feel my internal temperature rising. Seven minutes into the discussion, I felt defeated and unheard. I picked up a shirt, threw it across the room, slammed the door, and said a few things I shouldn’t have.

My anger had gotten the best of me.

I wish I could say that this was the only time I have ever thrown a tantrum in our relationship, but I’d be lying.

Here’s another story.

I have a friend who knows a friend in Boston, and I went to dinner with that friend. Now, “that friend” is super cute. She has a petite frame, a beautiful smile, and can easily pull off any pair of skinny jeans she tries on. As dinner progressed, I noticed that my mind kept shifting off of the conversation and into a mode of comparison. Thoughts like, “I wish I had hair like her,” or “How does she stay so fit?” began to take over.

We wrapped up dinner, and I felt annoyed by the fact that our time had been robbed by my dumb thoughts.

Again, I wish I could say that this was the first – and the last – time I have ever lost time to the negativity of comparison, but…I’d be lying.

My hang-ups are annoying, and if you’re being honest, I think you would say yours are, too!

Last week, I was watching “Ella Enchanted” with my sister-in-law (my husband’s little sister), and I was struck by a deep truth within it.

Ella, played by Anne Hathaway, is a cute little teenager/young adult living in a mystical land called Frell.  At birth, Ella is given the gift of obedience by a fairy and has to follow the commands, both good and bad, that anyone gives her for the rest of her life.

One day, Ella, falls in love with a prince named Char.

Now, Char’s uncle is the king of the land – and he is anything but nice. Driven by greed, Edgar tries to trap Ella into killing Char, the heir to the throne, so that he can be king forever.

On the night of Char’s coronation ball, King Edgar commands Ella to drive a dagger through Char’s heart as Char is proposing to her at midnight. Ella, trapped by the spell, is in a dilemma. Ella knows, at midnight, the spell with kick in, her body will take over, and she will be forced to obey, but in obeying she will kill the love of her life, and the rightful heir to the throne.

THEN something amazing happens…(watch the clip:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l24yOwR9saU)

Ella hears her late mother’s words and remembers that “what’s inside of her is stronger than any spell.”

She throws down the dagger, and rejoices in her freedom.

We are the same way, aren’t’ we?

We live our lives wrestling with things we hate.

I hate the fact that I don’t handle my anger correctly sometimes, and I hate the fact that I am quick to compare myself to others instead of thinking positively.

Sometimes, our bad habits become who we are – or so they say.

Ella figured out a truth that is worth repeating: What’s inside of us is stronger than any spell.

 “For we know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin – because anyone who has died has been freed from sin” (Romans 6:6&7).

In other words, we are free from the spell of sin. Christ’s death and resurrection has rendered sin as powerless in the life of the believer.

If you believe in Christ – his death on the cross and his resurrection from the dead – you no longer have to be a slave to sin. You no longer have to do the things that you hate doing. You no longer have to play with your sticky spots or hang-ups.

Ella figured it out – and in the midst of her discovery, she fell to the ground and proclaimed a wonderful reality…

“I’m free. I can’t believe it! I’m free!”

Friends, we are free! May we never forget it.

I go out Walking

This past Saturday, I took a walk.  

Now, when I say “walk,” I don’t mean just a breeze around the block. No – this walk was much more than that.  

All throughout my young adult life, walks have played a part in my spiritual growth. A few years ago, I had a hard conversation with a friend at Starbucks. I left feeling sad and confused about what the Lord was doing in my life. I drove to the nature preserve down the road and went walking. When my job after college wasn’t all that I thought it was going to be, I walked. As I struggled with singleness, I did the same. For an hour or more, I would walk. I would sing. I would pray. I would listen.

Life over the past few months has been interesting.

In the middle of August, my husband and I picked up our Bostonian life and moved to Midland, Texas. I started school, my husband went to work for the family business, and life officially changed. Although many things about the change were wonderful, I had a hard time (and still can have a hard time) adjusting to everything.

You see, I have a problem.

I want to control my life. I want my marriage to look a certain way, and if it doesn’t, I get upset. I want my day-to-day circumstances to operate in a particular fashion, and if they don’t, I try to change them. I see the sin in my life, and despise it. What do I do? You got it! I try to fix it.

Now, before I get too far, I must state the following:

I think seeing negative things in your life and seeking to improve them is a good thing. The harm rests in how you do it. For me, the process consists of self-dependence. I analyze what conversations I need to have, what I need to do, and how I am going to do it. I white-knuckle it. If the issue is anger, I try to stop snapping and instead try to pray through conflict. If it’s discontentment, I strive to be more thankful.

The problem is it doesn’t work.

It’s exhausting, and it’s why I went on a walk.

In Deuteronomy 11, Moses is giving the Israelites instructions for living.

“Observe, therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land that the Lord swore to your forefathers to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey…The land you are crossing over the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven…[The Lord] will send rain on your land in season, both autumn and spring rains, so that you may gather in your grain, new wine and oil. [The Lord] will provide grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied” (verses 8, 9, 11, 14, and 15).

 

The Lord, through Moses, told the Israelites how to live. He promised them that if they lived in accordance to his laws, He would take care of them. They only needed to depend on Him to do it. If they were to fight, He would tell them when and where to go, and would eventually deliver their enemies into their hands. If they needed food, He would supply it. They needed only to trust and obey Him. He would take care of the rest.  

As I walked, I reflected on this.

There are things in my life (and things in my heart) that I want to change. There are things that I know are damaging to myself, as well as others, that I wish would just disappear. Even though, at times, I feel like it’s impossible, I know that the Lord is the solution.

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin” (Romans 6:6).

 

Sin has been rendered powerless in my life because of Christ’s death on the cross. I don’t have to mastered by sin.  

I also know that God provides (as seen in Deuteronomy).  

I don’t believe the Lord promises me nice possessions or circumstances that don’t cause pain, but I do believe He is the supplier of joy and peace (Romans 15:13), and He is the giver of life (John 14:6).

Just like He encouraged the Israelites to trust Him and rely on Him for provision, He asks the same of us. Obedience leads to joy and peace, and if we are in need, He is there.

As I walked, I prayed that I would depend on Him and not on myself. I prayed that He would humble me so that, in life and conflict, I didn’t always have to be the winner. I prayed that He would allow me to trust Him with the circumstances in life and train me to respond rightly to them. I praised Him for His goodness, and I rested in His peace.

What’s going to happen during my lifetime is still a mystery, but I do know that, in the end, life will be full. Heaven is going to be amazing, and it’s promised to those who believe. However, as I walk on this earth, I have to remember that I’m not God. I can’t control everything, and even when things I don’t like are happening, I have to let go.

The Lord is the only one with the power to change hearts and the ability to completely control situations. I’m praying that I trust Him.

I don’t know what’s going on in your life, but I do know that He knows where you are, and He listens to your cries. Go on a walk. Let Him know what’s going on. He’s faithful.  

The Real Truth in our Move to Texas

The mister and I on our flight to Dallas, Texas.

Yesterday, the mister and I left Boston.

The whole process of finding movers, packing everything up, and turning in the keys to our little apartment was quite the roller coaster ride for me. It’s difficult saying goodbye to a place you’ve learned to enjoy and a group of people you’d rather not live without. It was especially hard leaving the place I first lived in with the mister.

Six Thirty-Seven Tremont Street was a true gem.

Within its tiny walls, the mister and I grew. We learned what it was like to sleep in the same bed comfortably. (I got several mid-night elbows to the face until we figured out how to navigate our sleeping positions.) We learned how to argue like a married couple, and how to work through conflict in an encouraging way (we are still not perfect, here). In our apartment, we asked each other questions and tried to figure out how to spend our time in a way that’s fruitful, enjoyable, and life-giving. We watched some awesome movies, and a couple of not-so-great TV shows. (ABC’s “Nashville” does not fall into this category.) It was because of our apartment, and our apartment only, that we met Fadi, the owner of the pizza shop next door. Fadi is super cool – and he became our friend instantly.

Although, our little apartment in the big city was not built for tall people (I frequently hit the chandeliers while stretching, folding blankets, or just moving around in weird ways), it felt like home. It was awesome, and I hoped to be there for a little while longer. I cried when we left.

Yesterday, as I was reading on the flight to Dallas, I came across this verse, and it encouraged me.

“Rise up, Balak, and listen! Hear me, son of Zippor. God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind. Has he ever spoken and failed to act? Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” (Numbers 23:18-19)

It’s an odd one, I know, but it holds a lot of truth.

You see, God never changes. In a world that is constantly reconsidering its position, God is certain. He is faithful, even when we don’t believe. There is nothing that can alter who he is. He is just, He is love, and He is full of grace. He is slow to anger, and quick to offer us mercy.

He is constant and unwavering. We, on the other hand, are not.

I never thought I would ever live in Boston. In fact, I wanted to settle in Dallas with my family, my church, and my friends. I never thought I would uproot my life, quit my job, sell my car, change my last name, and live in a city that requires public transportation. I, also, never thought I would learn to love it and then, in a matter of a month, have to leave it.

You see, the mister and I were supposed to stay in Boston for three years. That was the plan – and, I would say, we both thought it was certain.

Isn’t that how life goes?

We all make plans. We all set out to ‘conquer the world’ in our unique way. Some of us plan on going to school so that we can add value to the lives of others. Some plan on finding that special someone and settling down. Others of us plan on getting pregnant and starting a family.

The truth is, however, that it may or may not work out.

We end up in a tough situation and can’t go to school. We think we are going to marry a certain person, and then we don’t. We keep trying to have kids, but, for some reason, we can’t.

Things change. Our plans don’t succeed.

Psalm 25:3 reads, “No one whose hope is [in the Lord] will ever be put to shame.”

The world can change, and we can change with it. We can plan to go one way, but then end up going in the opposite direction. Nothing is certain outside of the character and being of God. We can invest all of our time and money into the stock market, and, as we all know, it can crash. We can try our hardest to be the most well-liked person on the face of the planet, but we may commit some party foul and fail at it.

Nothing in this world is sure except for the Lord. He is worthy of our trust and our hope. He is worthy of holding all of the eggs we would naturally place in some other basket. He doesn’t fail. He doesn’t change.

Where are you placing your hope? What happens when your plans fail you? Think about it.

Even though moving back to Texas was a change that the mister and I chose, it’s still a testament to the fact that we don’t know what life holds for us.

On Monday, the mister and I will head to Midland, Texas where he will work and I will begin my studies. The plan is to stay there until the Fall of 2014, and then head back to Boston for 2 years for grad school.

That’s the plan, but I’ll keep you posted.