Community

Last year, my husband and five month old baby packed up the car and headed south on a new adventure. Not only did we leave behind many things, we left behind many people. When you live in a place your whole life, your roots are both deep and wide. On August 5, I said goodbye to a lifetime of people: friends from high school, college, and places from childhood. I said goodbye to people we met in the churches we’ve attended, small groups we’ve joined, and groups we’ve served alongside. I said goodbye to a group of women who were as close to sisters as I had ever known. And it was hard.

After many weeks of goodbyes, we left for South Carolina and pulled into a new city where there was a distinct void. I had prepared myself for packing and unpacking, for the challenge of finding a new house, for the adjustment of now working from home. But I hadn’t prepared for the need in my heart for a new group of “like family” people, for community.

Our first few months in South Carolina, we were surrounded by sweet families and couples who welcomed us. They made us feel like we were wanted here and served us in so many ways. They brought us meals. They showered us with household goods. They watched our little girl so we could have time alone. But soon, I longed for the familiarity of a community of friends.

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Ten months ago, my husband and I moved into our third home and were welcomed by two sweet neighbors with breakfast and introductions. Welcome to the south! Over the next few weeks, those neighbors continued to invite us into their lives. They welcomed us into their homes, they fed us meals, they got to know us. And over the course of this year, those two families turned into seven families — they turned into my community.

What these sweet friends have taught me is how much I have longed for this, for a group of people who do life with me daily. Friends who shoulder the responsibilities of marriage and parenting and life together. Friends who give you a cup of sugar and an egg when you’re coming up short. Friends who keep your baby at a moment’s notice and love them like their own. Friends who make time for you in their every day lives, who remember to text, remember to ask, remember to congratulate.

Saying goodbye to a lifetime of friends in Pennsylvania was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It was heart wrenching and so, so sad, and I am positive those people will be a part of my life forever. But I am so thankful for the sweet community that God has brought alongside Jeremy and me here in South Carolina. I pray that you are able to find the same.

 

 

 

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I Quit

About two weeks ago, I quit Facebook. There wasn’t a big to-do or grand announcement. I just logged in and deactivated – it was that simple. For months, maybe more, I’ve been trying to convince myself of all the reasons I really need Facebook. It’s great for getting in touch, I thought, or finding long-lost friends and keeping up with family.

But there are also a bunch of reasons why I don’t need Facebook:

  • I don’t need access to everyone I’ve ever met. Real friends have my info and know how to find me.
  • I don’t need to convince the world my life is decent. Humble bragging is still bragging, and it’s lame.
  • I don’t need to be entertained 24/7. It’s okay to bored. It’s okay to let the mind wander.
  • I don’t need everyone to know what I’m doing all the time. I’m just not that important.
  • I don’t need to use likes and comments as a gauge of self-worth.

Facebook can be really awesome, and if it isn’t distracting or unhealthy for you, post-on my friend! But for now, I need to quit Facebooking and focus more on the people and memory-making in my real life. I challenge you to do the same.

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Letter to the Editor

Today, I submitted this Letter to the Editor:

Over a month ago, billboards appeared around Lancaster County for radio station 92.7 WKZF. On these billboards, a sexy woman leans against a wall and dares you to not just look, but listen. Or essentially: “Now that this body has your attention, check out our station too.”

Clearly 92.7 WKZF is capitalizing on our sex-saturated culture, but I’m not sure how any human being can look at these ads without feeling completely exploited. Their marketing department should be ashamed. As someone who works in the field, it is infuriating to see an organization intentionally furthering an unhealthy and degrading view of women.

Speaking of, the woman on this advertisement wasn’t even given the decency of a face! I can’t think of a more obvious way to objectify a woman than diminishing her value to only her sex appeal.  It is appalling to me that something so demeaning is being broadcast all over our county.

This isn’t just about a racy ad campaign, as described by station manager Billy Baldwin*, but a mindset that promotes unhealthy and damaging views of sex that increase cases of prostitution, rape, pornography, and sexual assault.

Let’s work together to promote a world where women are empowered and dignified instead of objectified.

*In reference to the article published by Lancaster New Era/Intelligencer Journal on October 3.

The Choice is Mine

For the past year, I have felt held back from having the relationship with Christ that I know he wants to have with me. I have felt on the cusp of something more, but haven’t been able to reach it.

About two months ago, I came to a crossroads and realized that something needed to change. I wanted so much more for my life, something deeper. At that time, I felt I needed to commit to reading Psalm 63. I can’t even remember now how I stumbled upon that passage, but the way that David writes about longing for God in the desert truly inspired me. I wanted God the way that David did. So I chose to read Psalm 63 every day until I believed it to be true for me.

It’s day 50. 

The past 50 days I have learned that coming to a crossroads isn’t something that happens just once. For me, I’m at a crossroads every single day. Each day I have the decision to be the kind of person God has called me to be or not. I’m almost 26, and there is no one forcing those decisions for me; it simply has to be what I desire.

I’m finally starting to accept that faith in Jesus Christ is not easy. It’s not. There are days where I don’t get it; I simply don’t understand both the wrath of Old Testament God and the grace of New Testament Jesus. There are days when I don’t understand why God allows disease, poverty, or corruption. I don’t know why he doesn’t just put a stop to it all.

But what I do know is that God has called me to a certain kind of life, a life of action. He has called me to step out in faith, trusting in him, and believe that my choices make a difference. Every day, when I find myself at the crossroads, my decisions matter. I can either choose to have the kind of real, deep faith that I believe will wreck my world, or I can sit back and wonder why it isn’t happening. The choice is mine.

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Submission can be easy

I was doing some research for this post and saw an article titled, “Provocative Bible Verses: Wives Submit to Your Husbands.” It made me laugh. In an age where women are fighting to be seen as equals, the word submit has turned us off. I’ll be the first to admit that the passage in Ephesians calling wives to submit to their husbands has rubbed me the wrong way for a long time.

Until now. This weekend, I attended a marriage conference along with 1,000 other engaged and married couples. During their session for women, they explained what it means for wives to submit to their husbands, and it completely changed my heart.

Before, I viewed submission as an act of weakness, like a dog following its master. But when God directs women to submit to their husbands, it is not an issue of power and equality, but of the roles for which he created us. In Christ, we are all created equally in his image. So how can submission mean men ruling over women? The answer is it doesn’t.

For women, submission to your husband means encouraging him to grow in his relationship with Christ, being open to his leadership, and trusting his knowledge. I wouldn’t follow a God that I didn’t trust wanted what’s best for me. In the same way, I wouldn’t have married my husband if I didn’t trust his ability to guide me. If you have an issue with submitting to your husband, maybe you need to examine the amount of trust you share.

For men, leading your wives means loving them the way Christ modeled his love for the church. In the same way we’re expected to submit to your guidance, you’re expected to demonstrate love the way God does for the church: unconditional, sacrificial, and selfless (1 Corinthians 13:4-7). That’s a big deal.

So what does this mean? As women, we have been called into Godly submission of our husbands who have been called to love us the way Jesus modeled it. I believe that our problem with submissions does not lie in the fear of breeding inequality in our marriages, but in our inability to trust our spouse. Although my husband takes seriously his call to leadership in our relationship, he does not use it as a way to control or rule over me. He doesn’t expect me to blindly follow him into sin or stumble along while he makes wreckless choices. Rather, Jeremy strives first to submit to Christ and then to lead me. As a result, I am able to trust that Jeremy’s pursuit of Godliness in his own life will produce Godly leadership in our marriage. That makes submission easy.

 

Longing for Heaven

Shortly after college, I read a book where the author described how he “longed for heaven.” At that time, it had never occurred to me to be excited about heaven. It never occurred to me that eternity was going to be better than life right now. Things were good.

But in the last month, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic twice for work. I spent my days meeting with men and women who were living in the kind of poverty where electricity was a luxury enjoyed only a few hours a week, holes riddled tin rooftops, and children played on dirt floors.

However, the more time I spent walking through these communities, the more I was overwhelmed with one recurring thought:

This is not how it’s supposed to be. 

This is not how God intended it, for his sons and daughters to be barely surviving. And in that moment, I couldn’t help but long for heaven. Standing on dirt roads, surrounded by the sights and smells of extreme poverty, I couldn’t help but long for the day when these beautiful men, women, and children would no longer experience such brokenness.

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What About Porn?

Last week, as the Chick-fil-A debacle unfolded, I read a blog by Pastor Perry Noble where he said:

…for too long the church has seemed to be obsessed with the sins that we do not struggle with; after all, if I am pointing out the sins of others I don’t have to deal with my own.

The rest of the week, I couldn’t stop thinking about why Christians are so hung up on homosexuality. Why are we so focused on controlling the rights of these individuals? Why this sin?

So, I brought it up to a friend, and he argued that Christians should be fighting for what is Biblical, not necessarily what is politically correct.  As a believer, I agree with that.

But here is my problem: What about porn? Where are all of the Christians fighting to stop the pornography industry? Where are all of the Christians who want to see laws in place that don’t allow sexually explicit material on the internet, where it is so easily accessible to anyone?  Where are the Christians arguing that the government put regulations on what types of sexual content is shown in advertisements, films, and on public television?

Where are the Christians fighting to make premarital sex illegal?  What about affairs and sexual impurity? God speaks clearly on these sexual issues, but I don’t see very many Christians working hard to control these sins that have destroyed countless marriages, relationships, families, and friendships.

As Christians, let’s not be so focused on the sins we don’t struggle with, that we fail to see and correct the sin in our own lives.

10 Signs You Need to Break-up

Many ladies I know get sucked into crappy relationships because they don’t notice the huge, often-obvious-to-everyone-else, red flags. It happened to me multiple times. So here are some signs that you need to break-up with your boyfriend. Like, yesterday.

**This advice is based solely on my own experiences. Hopefully I can spare you from wasting another minute in a relationship that’s sucking the life out of you. 

10 Signs You Need to Break-Up

1. If he is telling you that he loves/likes you but acts like he doesn’t.
Guys are smarter than we think. They know what to say to get what they want. So if a guy is telling you all the right things, but acting like a jerk, he’s just using you. Really. A man who is serious about loving you is serious about showing you.

2. If he doesn’t respect you, your friends, or your family.
Any guy worth five minutes of your time better respect you and everyone who matters to you: friends, parents, siblings, coach, mentor, etc.

3. If his actions, words or lack of actions and words causes you to cry on a regular basis.
Some guys act like jerks and it causes us to cry. Sometimes what they don’t do causes us to cry. If your man is causing you to cry on a regular basis because you are angry, hurt, upset, frustrated, etc., it’s time to drop him.

4. If your best friends and family all think your guy is lame.
Your family and friends all care about you and probably know you better than anyone else. So if they see some red flags, be willing to hear them out; 98% of the time, they just want you to be happy. There’s probably a reason why they’re concerned.

5. If he lies to you about anything. Ever.
Lying is stupid and cowardly. The only reason why any guy would ever lie to you is because he’s too scared to tell you the truth. Don’t ever believe the “I lied because I didn’t want to hurt you” nonsense. A real man tells the truth even if it’s hard.

6. If he doesn’t respond to your messages.
Your boyfriend should want to talk to you. He should want to respond to your calls and texts. He should want to share things about his life with you. If he’s ignoring you, he’s lame.

7. If he says, “I don’t want to be official right now.”
If your guy likes/loves you like he claims, he will not want people to think you are single. You should never be acting like you are dating but saying “we’re not official right now.” That is crazy.

8. If you are constantly confused about your relationship and what’s going on.
Mature relationships require mature people. That means you tell each other what’s going on even if you risk a potentially awkward situation.

9. If he is always jealous. Or controlling. 
Jealously is not attractive. Any guy who tries to control your time or energy or friendships by pulling the jealousy guilt trip is not  mature enough to be dating you.

10. If there is any possibility that someone else could make you happier.
If you’re dating and you find yourself regularly wondering if that other guy you know would make you happier, it’s time to call it quits. A healthy relationship doesn’t require a back-up guy.

Good guys do exist. Don’t waste any more time missing out.

Not just a bracelet

WWJD? 

No really, what would he do? It’s not just a bracelet, even though it might have started that way. It’s a way of doing life.

Some dude just pulled out in front of you. What would Jesus do? Grace.

Your boss just called you out in front of your team. What would Jesus do? Mercy.

A lady from church just spread a rumor about you. What would Jesus do? Forgive.

What would Jesus do? Probably 100% the opposite of our natural, human reaction. This month I’m being reminded that when something doesn’t go my way, my immediate reaction is not to act like Jesus.

So maybe I need to stop having knee-jerk reactions and start thinking about Jesus and how he did life.

An Open Door

Over the last two months, I’ve been asking God to show me clearly how to move forward with a pending decision. I repeatedly asked him for an open door; I wanted a clear yes or no.

I wanted God to tell me what to do

What I really wanted was for God to give me a sign, a way for me to know that I was making the right choice. Then it dawned on me: God doesn’t always give us a yes or no. Period.

He doesn’t always give us a clear path or open door. Instead, he has equipped us with brains and the ability to problem solve. I’ve been learning that sometimes, instead of clearing that path for us, he puts information in it and let’s us figure it out.  And he doesn’t always give us all the information, or the best information, or the clearest information. But he wants me to use my hand-crafted-by-the-creator-brain to make the best decision with the information I have available.

Sometimes that means taking a risk. Sometimes that means making a mistake. Sometimes that requires venturing into the unknown.

So really, it’s not about making the right decision, and it surely isn’t about waiting around until the right door opens.

What it’s really about, is taking the next step and pursuing him in the process.