No Room For Grey

This weekend thousands will flock to the box office to watch a new movie based on a book.  A book that glorifies sex outside of marriage.  A book that glorifies the sexual exploitation of women.  A book that, because it’s marketed to women, has escaped the label of porn.  (Seriously folks, if this were written directed at the male audience, it would be sold at the store with XXX outside.)

So, if you’re all about Christian Grey and all that he has to offer, I’m certain you’ve figured out that we’re polar opposites on this one.  So before someone feels the need to defend  the book readers & movie goers, understand that this isn’t my attempt to shame or judge or guilt anyone into seeing it my way.  It’s just my belief…my heart really…on the matter.

Here’s the thing.  Maybe I’m wrong about the porn thing.  Maybe I’m wrong that it’s sexual exploitation because, according to what I’ve seen online, it’s a consensual thing.  But honestly, deep down, I think it’s a spiritual issue.

The Bible tells us that following Christ is black or white, hot or cold, light or darkness.  There’s no lukewarm.  God prefers the unapologetic sinner over the lukewarm, riding the fence Christian.  God prefers someone who totally lives in the darkness to someone who says they love Christ but loves hanging out in the grey areas.

And that’s just it.  Our society has bent the moral compass so much that this is now an area that some Christians see as a grey area.  50 years ago…even 10 years ago, this whole 50 Shades thing would have been clearly taboo.  But media, movies, books, TV push the envelope a little further and a little further until what was once uncomfortable in our spirit is now not even noticed.  Socially acceptable has dulled our spiritual senses and caused many a Christ follower to drift from that narrow road.

And that’s just it.  It’s a narrow road.  It’s a road that hasn’t widened as society’s moral compass has bent.  It’s a road that hasn’t widened as society has told us what once was unacceptable is now acceptable.  It hasn’t widened since God inspired the words that are written the Bible.  The shoulders of the road are clearly defined.  You’re either on the road or off of it.

Someone once told me that if you have to ask if it’s ok, it’s probably not.  If you have something (I call it a check in my spirit) that causes you to question if you should read that book, if you should see that movie, if you should watch that show, if you should go to that place, if you should hang out with that person (the list is endless really) then the answer is probably no.

Here’s the thing about the narrow road.  It’s clearly marked.  Very clearly marked.  It’s marked by the Light.  Do we all wander off of it? Of course we do.  We’re human…and following directions generally isn’t our strong suit from day 1.  But the more we strive to stay on that road, the more clearly the signs of the narrow road appear to us.  And the more we clearly see life’s choices through the eyes of Christ.  It’s a narrow road that’s black and white.

And on that road, there’s no room for Grey.

Coffee Talk – How Can It Be?

Mugs Of Coffee On A Table Close Up

This song.  Just…this song.  There are moments when I become keenly aware of how my flesh fails me.  Daily.  There are moments that I fully grasp how completely undeserving I am of the grace that has been lavished upon me.  There are moments when I wonder how in the world He hasn’t washed His hands of me yet.

Then there’s this song that puts all of that into words.  There’s so much about how God works that my tiny mind is incapable of grasping.

He loves me.  He stands in the gap for me.  He rights my wrongs.  How Can it Be?

One Word 2015

This is my fourth New Year of no resolutions, but with One Word that I work to live out in my year.  This year feels a little different though.  For the first three years of doing this, as I prayed and felt God lead me to “my word”, I embraced it with excitement.  Yes, those words stretched me, made me live intentionally to accomplish them and challenged me.  But they also excited me and never gave me pause.  This year’s does because I like a plan.  I like the known.  I like routine.

But God began speaking this word to my spirit through the last couple of weeks of the year and has continually confirmed it.  Finally through Scripture:

“I am about to do something NEW.  It is beginning to happen even now.  Don’t you see it coming? I am going to make a way for you to go through the desert. I will make streams of water in the dry and empty land.” Isaiah 43:19

NEW.  That’s the word of 2015.  I don’t know what that means right now.  But in my spirit, I’m ready for NEW.  There are some obvious things that go with NEW.  It’s a new year with new possibilities and new chances and a new start.  It’s a new day…every day…to live out Jesus in my life, with my family and with my friends.  But there’s a feeling in my spirit that we have new seasons upon us.  The planning-likes-to-know-details part of me struggles with embracing that.  My mind struggles with it.  My spirit is at peace.

My spirit is at peace.

Any time there is “new” there is change.  And change is something that challenges me.  But “new” is Jesus at work and beyond all else, I want Jesus at work.  The desert? It doesn’t sound fun. But He promises me a way through.  He promises me a stream of water.  That means that no matter what the “new” is, God has gone before me.  He is at work.  His peace is greater than any desert place.  And his streams of water satisfy more than any efforts to secure plans on my own.

So this year, I’ll embrace NEW.  And when NEW means change, I’ll trust the heart of my Father that what He’s doing is greater than anything I could do on my own.  NEW.  All things NEW.

Tree Skirt Provision

It was our first Christmas married.  Our first house was small and didn’t have much room for a Christmas tree, but I found one that would fit in our living room without taking up too much space.  It was small, so it didn’t cost much.  We got it home, put it in water (it was the first and only live tree of our marriage!) and started decorating.

We strung lights, hung ornaments and re-lived memories of Christmases past.  Lots of ornaments had stories.  Lots of ornaments had sentiment.  It was the perfect first Christmas tree for us…almost.

We finished decorating and I stepped back to take it all in.  But something was missing.  It didn’t take long for me to tell Chad that we had to get a tree skirt.  In all of the decorations that we brought together in our marriage, neither of us had a tree skirt.  And I NEEDED a tree skirt.  I still don’t know why that was so important to me.

But all of the expenses that come with a new marriage plus the expenses that come with Christmas made that tree skirt fall low on the priority list.  I wasn’t pouty about it AT ALL {insert sarcastic tone here}.

I knew exactly what I wanted.  I knew every detail of what my tree skirt would look like.  And the more I searched the more that tree skirt seemed out of reach.  Apparently my perfect tree skirt was going to be pricey.  And pricey wasn’t in our budget.

Christmas day grew closer and so did my wanting for a tree skirt.  It wasn’t a need that was going to make a difference in our Christmas at all.  There was still family.  There were still wrapped presents.  The sweetness of a newborn who would change the world was no less significant because I didn’t have a tree skirt.  But in my heart I so wanted one.  The perfect one.

Just a few days before Christmas, I wandered into a local store to pick up some last-minute something.  As I looked for the shortest line to check out, I found it to be in the Christmas section.  So I headed to that register to check out.  As I walked that way, I thought I may as well look at what tree skirts they had left since everything was pretty well picked over.  I decided before I even hit the aisle that if I could just find a tree skirt that wasn’t ugly and that was cheap, I’d buy it.  Just to get me through this one Christmas.  I let go of having my perfect tree skirt for that year.  There’s always the next Christmas, right?

I turned down the aisle with tree skirts and saw it.  The perfect tree skirt.  The one that was in my head and that my budget could in no way afford.  And it took every ounce of everything in me not to cry.  WHY would God let me wander to that aisle only to find my perfect, completely-out-of-my-budget tree skirt? WHY, of all the stores I could have gone to, did it have to be that one? WHY did the shortest line have to be in the Christmas section?

I was sad, but I had to get an up close look at this tree skirt.  I had to touch it.  As I picked it up, I noticed the price of the tree skirt.  It was by no means the “cheap” skirt I was looking for, but it wasn’t nearly the price I had found online.  My thought was to come back after Christmas when Christmas stuff goes on clearance.  Surely it would still be there.

As I started to put the tree skirt back on the shelf, a store employee asked if I needed help finding something.  I laughingly responded that I was making my post-Christmas clearance shopping list. And then it happened.  She turned and pointed at a partially covered sign that said all Christmas decor was 50% off.  50% OFF!

I worked my hardest to keep my composure as picked my perfect tree skirt back up and all but happy-danced to the register.  I completed my purchase and got out to the car and could not even contain my excitement.  I got my perfect tree skirt!

IMG_4617As I got home and told Chad my tree skirt story (after securing that baby around my tree!), God spoke into my spirit.  He reminded me that once again He is good and gracious and generous.  He reminded me that not only will he meet my needs, he will grant the desires of my heart.

This is our 8th Christmas with my perfect tree skirt around our tree.  And every year I remember how God met me where I was, lead me to my perfect tree skirt, and made the provision for me to buy it.  Every year it reminds me that there’s no need he won’t meet and He’ll even go above and beyond the needs to meet those heart’s desires.  In every situation and circumstance He will be faithful to provide provision.  Even tree skirt provision.


Last night, like the rest of the nation, we watched as a decision was handed down in Ferguson, MO.  Today, as the dust settles, I still go back to where I ended last night: My heart hurts for the Brown family.  My heart hurts for Ferguson.

I’ve wrestled with writing today.  Not because I didn’t know what to say, but because words can be so damaging if not spoken well.  Words can be so empty if nothing changes.

As the verdict came down last night, my kids sat with us and listened.  Addi was more interested in getting back to Dancing with the Stars (she’s 6, what can I say).  Payne just listened.  He didn’t really say much.  But he will have questions.  He always does.  He’s a processor.  He hears things and mulls them over for hours or days before he talks or asks questions.  Part is because he takes everything to heart.  If he sees hurt in others, he feels it himself.

We took in the verdict and did all we knew to do.  We prayed.  We prayed for the Brown family.  We prayed for Officer Wilson.  We prayed for those members of the Grand Jury.  We prayed for Ferguson.  But my heart still hurt.

So what I’ve wanted so badly to work out in my mind and my heart today is what to say to my kids about Ferguson and what that means for us.

  1. Above all else, LOVE.  Love others.  ALL others.  Every single person on this planet is made in the image of a God who cherishes them.  If God sees a person worthy of love and grace and mercy, then so should we.  And God sees EVERY person worthy.  To not love everyone is to not fully love God. Period.
  2. The unrest in Ferguson didn’t happen overnight.  That kind of emotion never does.  It comes from years of conflicts, big & small, that erupt when something so tragic happens.  This community desperately needs healing.  And healing only happens when brave people are willing to set differences aside and listen to each other.  Always be willing to be a brave person and listen.  You won’t always agree and that’s ok.  But listen.  And love.  And never judge.  It’s not your job.
  3. Violence is never the answer.  Never.  No one will ever hear your voice or even want to hear it if you respond to things with violence or destruction.  You will see injustice in your life.  More than I’d like you to, kids.  But you have incredible role models throughout history that teach you how stand against injustice.  Start with Jesus.  That’s where all who have become pillars in civil rights started.
  4. Every life lost is tragic.  Every single one.  Every single life lost leaves behind family and friends who grieve.  Trying to lessen the value of a life based on any surrounding circumstances is wrong.  A family is grieving the loss of a son.  Their grief is compounded by the circumstances.  To see their grief as less than any other’s is wrong.  There is a God in heaven who sees their grief and is grieved with them.  The things that grieve the Father should grieve us because we are His children.
  5. Change starts with me, with us.  So we don’t tell the jokes with racial undertones, but not laughing is not enough.  Change begins by me taking responsibility for me.  It’s not enough for me to not participate in the behavior that causes racial divides.  I have to speak up when I hear it and see it first hand.  Will I change it all by myself? No.  But If I do it and you do it….if our family of 4 does it…maybe others will, too.  And together, with individual efforts, we can make a difference in our world.
  6. We are the church.  It’s not a building.  It’s us.  The local church of Ferguson, MO has a tremendous opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a hurt, broken and grieving community.  But you know what? We have an opportunity to be the hands and feet of Jesus right here, right now, too.  Because in this little Hill Country town people are hurting.  Make no mistake, if Jesus was walking on earth today, he’d be in the middle of Ferguson right now.  That’s what Jesus did.  He went into the places where the hurting were, he didn’t wait for them to come to Him.  He would be loving these people, ALL of them, with a big, grace-filled love and with the heart of a peace-maker.  Jesus would grieve and cry with the Brown family.  And he would sit with Officer Wilson and grieve and cry in a different way.  Because no one won in this. No one.

Friends, I will say this.  My heart hurts for this broken world.  My heart is grieved for the Brown family and the loss of their son.  I have children.  To think of one of them being taken from me is more than my heart can bear.  I was raised in a police officer’s home.  I’ve seen first hand the good & the bad in law enforcement.  There are more good than bad.  My heart hurts for a man who will live the rest of his life with the burden of taking another man’s life.  He will never be the same after this.

My heart hurts for Ferguson.  My heart has hope in knowing that Jesus came to this hurting and broken world to offer us a way to peace.  My soul has a new resolve to make a difference where I am.  To be the hands a feet of Jesus to the hurting in my part of this world.

Jesus, help me to look like you in how I love, in how I talk, in how I live.  Help me to be a peace-maker in hard places.  Help me to be one of the brave to stand against injustice and in doing that, give those who are hurting and wronged a glimpse of you.