In a world full of protests…

This week was full of unexpected things. Things were rough personally, the goals I’ve been pursuing were greeted by road blocks, and there were protests taking place on one of our work properties.

We live in a very polarized world. It’s almost like the Red Sea has parted (again). But, instead of walking through dry land, there are one set of people in one side of the waves; and, the opposing side in the other wave. The line is drawn and no one is meeting in the middle.

I once heard a very wise man say, “You don’t win anything by stating what you’re against. You win by stating and exemplifying what you are for.”

I thought about that for a while. I had to let it sink into my brain. What does that mean?

I think I understood it a bit more in light of this week. Before I get there, let me explain what I do for a living. I am the Executive Assistant| Grant Writer for a non-profit pregnancy center. This week, we had protestors in front our one of our clinics saying that we were a “fake clinic” and that we “coerce and shame women” into having their babies and a slew of other things. The thing is, they don’t know us.

First of all, the women come to us come at their own will. We do not drag women under false pretenses to come to our clinic.

Second, we have filed all the necessary documents needed to operate a state qualified medical clinic as a legal non profit organization.

Third, we simply give the women the medical information about either birth or abortion. We also tell the women we do not refer for abortions. If someone were to call as ask, we would tell them we don’t. We offer early pregnancy verification which every woman will need regardless of her choice.

The thing that makes me sad is that we have become a culture that just screams at each other. We don’t take the time to get to know how the other-side thinks and acts.

This week, in the midst of the chaos and confusion and accusations, a beautiful thing happened. I have a really good friend, who if you looked at us, you’d probably think, “how are they friends?” We don’t always see eye to eye on everything but she has been such a good friend to me. For example, she drove over to my house to help alleviate a task I needed to do when I was scampering to get to my Dad after the accident. She sent cards, brought me gifts and just listened to me when I felt like I was going to lose my mind.

When it comes to certain topics, we have different viewpoints, but this week, we said and talked about our differences on a certain topic. She shared her viewpoint and I shared mine. We weren’t trying to jam information down each other’s throat, we just talked and we listened to each other. This… This… is what I wish the rest of our country could do.

I realized the statement that the wise man said pertains to this… My friend and I may disagree on more than we may agree on but what we agree on allows us to discuss what we disagree on because we are for each other. She has my back and I have hers.

I know that if I opened my own non-profit that she didn’t agree with, she wouldn’t come protest in front of it… Because she knows me and if she opened a business that I may not agree with, I wouldn’t protest her because we know each other. We can talk to each other about our differences.

My Dad used to say, “Build a friendship strong enough to handle to truth.”

I think if we saw the story of the person holding the protest sign, we’d understand their need to be heard. People go through situations that often shape their viewpoint. I hope I learn to look beyond the sign and listen beyond the yelling to hear what that person’s story is. Everyone has a story and instead of protesting or getting angry at one another, I hope I find the opportunity to hear their story.

This is how Jesus treated people. When everyone saw a prostitute, he saw a woman with pain. When everyone saw lepers, Jesus saw men who were desperate for healing. When everyone saw Matthew, the tax collector, Jesus saw someone who could be a writer, disciple, teacher.

So, in a world full of protests, I pray we have ears to hear and eyes to see that those people are each uniquely made. They have a story and they’re longing to be heard.

Strive be the ears so that one day, someone will trust you enough to ask you for your voice.

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A Wedding to Remember

We scurried down the stairwell and waited for the guys to walk past. I saw the last pair of shoes walk forward. The hallway door opened, “Okay, you’re up!” I carefully made my way to the other set of sanctuary doors. The doors in front of me opened as the music changed. I walked one foot in front of the other as the eyes of the wedding guests looked intently, anticipating the bride who would soon follow. I took my place on stage and waited as one by one each bridesmaid made her way.

It was a beautiful service. The pastor did an amazing job honoring my former roommate and dear friend as well as her now husband. When I first found out about their engagement, I couldn’t have been more excited. I was so happy I felt like I was the one getting engaged!

The day wore on and there were pictures, the announcing of the bridal party, the first dance and the cutting of the cake. I’ve attended a lot of weddings but this one struck me differently.

There is a huge difference in attending a wedding and being in the bridal party. When you’re attending you come and go and you don’t have any real obligations. But when you’re in the bridal party, you are on the inside track. It’s your job and privilege to serve the bride the best you can. It’s your job to help make it easier on her as well as support her by standing on stage. It’s a representation that you will stand alongside the couple through their thick and thin, through their sickness and health, until death do them part. You have a part to play when you’re the wedding party. Another thing is people recognize you. There is an authority that comes with it. If I were to walk up to someone and say the bride needs this, or can we have some of this or that to someone who is there to help, it gets done.

This struck me because I thought, isn’t this what we are supposed to be doing in the family of God? We have the privilege to stand beside her in the good and bad, through the thick and thin. The church is called the bride of Christ, so although we are a part of the same body, we are also to be standing with the church and serving her. And we have been given authority to do so.

On the day of my dear friend’s wedding, she was serving too. She was fixing her Dad’s suit, pinning a corsage on her mom and even putting flowers in her bridesmaid’s hair. She is so full of grace. She is so kind and always caring about others.

It was a beautiful challenge as well as encouragement to see how well things flow when we serve one another. When we put our priorities aside and help the person next to us, this honors one another as well as Jesus, our Bridegroom.

One reason I was so ecstatic to be there was that is what my friend did for me. I felt like in a small way, I was able to give back a little. She has been a constant support for me. I even had to bail on our living arrangements and she said, “It’s okay, you just take care of yourself” that meant she’d have to find someone to fill my spot or pay extra out of pocket, but she never complained or got upset at me. She was also the only person I was able to talk on the phone with when my Dad passed away. She inspires me to love, give and serve others as Christ has done for us.

“…just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:28

Today my challenge is to give, to serve and to love deeply. Look for someone who is growing weary, or pray for someone that you thought of, give a kind word or write a card. Life is short and it is only truly lived out as we give!

Song of the week (This song my family used to sing in our devotion time): Make Me A Servant

Fighting Fear!

Fear: A distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc., whether the threat is real or imagined; the feeling or condition of being afraid.

Fear can drive us to do all kinds of things: spend money we don’t have, isolate ourselves, and even stop living a full life. But, what if we chose to live fearless? How much greater would the impact be? What would our lives look like?

This month I decided to ask some of my dearest friends and family to write a blog on the topic of fear, and how they’ve overcome it. Fear comes in many different sizes, situations, and circumstances.

In a day with suicide bombing, “random acts of violence”, shootings, nuclear threats, terrorism on the rise, and diseases with “unknown” causes and “unknown” treatments, it is natural to be fearful. As believers, we are not GIVEN the Spirit of fear. Fear causes us to retreat, hide out, and stay quiet. Again, we are human. But through Christ, and Christ alone, we can press past our fear. We can overcome.

“They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.” Revelation 12:11

Incredible power and strength come when we share our story. Because of Christ, we can brag in our weakness, shortcomings, humanity because it is Christ in us, the HOPE of glory! He is our only hope. It’s about His strength in our weakness that allows us to be overcomers and fight past our fears.

“The wicked flee though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1

This is NOT about pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps and being fearless in our own strength! We don’t have it in us, we are fragile, timid and quite incapable.

In the Bible, God refers to us as sheep more than 200 times. Why?  We are fearful, stubborn beings that need A LOT of help. Psalm 23:2 says, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters” I once heard someone say, it was quiet waters because the noise of a stony brook would have scared the sheep!

Fear is something we are born with; but, it is not from God. It is a part of this sin-cursed world we live in. But, we can overcome dear friends!

Sometimes, sharing our story is a very real fear that we have to overcome. But, when we share our stories we experience a strength we may never have known was there.  I like to think of a soldier on the front lines. When he shares his story, I picture him reaching down and linking arms with another soldier. We are a stronger force against the enemy when we link up. We need each other in this fight. We are not made to do this alone, we cannot do this alone without paying a higher price than we can afford. When you get knocked down, you need someone to pick you up. When I get knocked down, I need someone to pick me up. Maybe through some of these stories, you will be lifted back up. That is my prayer at least.

I hope these testimonies will bring courage to your hearts and minds! GREATER is He who is in us than he who is in the world. God is for us. He is with us. He is our strength. He is our fearless commander and we can trust Him to lead us in this battle called life.

“It’s not our story of struggle, but His story of rescue” – Rebekah Lyons

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Song for the week: Walking like Giants, by Stars Go Dim
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