Category Archives: THINGS I BELIEVE

PHILIPPIANS 4:13

On Saul’s quest to murder anyone who spoke in favor of Christ, he happened upon Christ himself (the resurrected Christ that is). Saul then wandered blindly–literally–to Damascus where he regained his sight and became Paul, one of the greatest defenders of the gospel ever known.

For years, Paul traveled preaching the Truth. During that time, he was sought out by multiple friends (yes, friends) to be killed; he was stoned (to death) but revived; he was arrested, tortured, and thrown into jail; he was mocked by incredibly large crowds while preaching (yet here we are getting our feelings hurt when someone ‘unfollows’ us); he had groups of people following him from city to city attempting to annihilate him (people were actually vowing not to eat until he was dead); plus more…

“Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea.” 2 Cor. 11:24-25

“But whatever anyone else dares to boast of–I am speaking as a fool–I also dare to boast of that. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they offspring of Abraham? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one–I am talking like a madman–with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death.” 2 Cor. 11:21-23

Countless… He doesn’t even know how many times he was physically beaten in the name of Jesus. He actually lost count.

I feel like that’s something I would remember. Someone kicked me in the stomach in preschool, and I still remember her name. Someone told me in fifth grade that she didn’t want to sit by me at lunch anymore, and I still remember the feelings that were hurt. Someone in college made fun of me for continuing to do theater, and I still think of him every time I book a job. Yet here is Paul, often near death (vs 23) and actually fighting FOR something, but he’s lost count of how many times he was persecuted.

I’ve never heard of a Christian man stronger than Paul. It’s because of him that we have most of the New Testament. His firsthand accounts with Christ have been written down and passed on to us. However, there are many Bible verses that we tend to misuse–no, abuse.

“I press on towards the goal to win the prize…” Phil. 3:14

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord…” Jer. 29:11

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened for you…” Luke 11:9

But perhaps the worst of all, the most dangerous verse to misinterpret, is this:

“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength…” Phil. 4:13

We walk around with our printed coffee mugs and our wooden placards on the walls and our sports teams’ T-shirts, and we think we can bend the meanings of these verses to fit our needs.

We’ve missed it entirely.

“Hold in your mind his [Paul] being scourged, having the flesh torn from his back. Hold in your mind his struggling to keep his head above water as the ship he’s on sinks violently into the watery abyss. Hold in your mind his relentless sleep at night while thugs scour the streets to find him and kill him. Hold in your mind the vision of his body crumpled on the ground, his face in the bloody dirt, covering his head and body in a desperate bid not to die from the seemingly unending onslaught of stones.” -Matt Chandler

Do you see now how we’ve done Paul’s precious words an injustice?  It’s not about scoring a goal or following your dreams or accomplishing whatever it is you selfishly want with God’s help.

Paul figured it out. He’s the one with the right perspective. “For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:10)

There is something profoundly beautiful about Paul’s life. He was fine with living because that meant he could continue his mission. He was fine with dying because that meant he got to be with Jesus. His life was filled with Christ. His suffering was all for Christ. His torture and imprisonment was in the name of Christ.

Philippians 4:13 is so much more. It’s telling us whether we’re in the big leagues or striking out every swing, praise His name. Whether we’re CEO of the company or scrubbing the office toilets after hours, praise His name. Healthy or sick, rich or poor, big or small–praise His name.

Paul detached himself from the material so he could focus on the eternal. Can we really do everything? The answer is no. Can we do everything for Christ, win or lose? Absolutely.

#thingsadored

YOUR ROLE

This Christmas season is my first being a mom, and it’s really got me thinking about what Mary must have gone through. She was scorned for becoming pregnant before marriage, her birth experience was full of discomfort and inconvenience, and she raised this perfect baby boy to later watch him die right before her eyes on the cross. I’d like to think that knowing he was the Son of God gave her a bit more peace and understanding, but he was still her child.

Mary was the only person to watch Jesus come into this world and leave this world. She held him as a fresh warm newborn and also as a cold lifeless man. We can imagine that even if she’d known all this suffering would take place, she still would have said yes to being Jesus’ mother.

Would you have said yes? Would you have endured all the pain that was required of Mary? And if so, why weren’t you the one God deemed fit to fill this role?

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose. -Romans 8:28

The thing is, we all have a part to play. Maybe we weren’t Jesus’ mother or father. Maybe we aren’t called to leave our homes and go overseas. Maybe all we’re meant to do is get up and go to our 9-5s and live life with the people in our office. But whatever it is, it’s been assigned to you specifically by God. The same God that chose Mary has chosen you. You have a special role to play in fulfilling God’s will, and it is just as important to accept your task as it was for Mary to accept hers.

But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. -Exodus 9:16

We’re all in this for the same reason. Our decision making should begin and end with God. Ask Him what your job is, and work fervently towards it. There will be ups and downs, but you were created with that purpose in mind. This is your part. And He’s trusting you with it because He knows you are exactly who He needs.

He has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. -2 Timothy 1:9

#thingsadored

FOR NOW

This year hasn’t been a big journaling year for me. Part of that was my busy schedule, and some of it was me hiding from what I had to say. There’s been a lot of shifting and moving and readjusting that I’m still wrapping my mind around. And as we all know, it can be a lot easier to mask our feelings than it is to let the monster out.

My experience in LA this year was incredible. I was taking on bigger projects, moving forward with my writing, growing stronger in my relationships with friends, and most importantly, I finally had Morgan there with me for part of it. Los Angeles went from being a temporary address to a home. So, when it came time to say goodbye in June, I was devastated – not because I had to leave, but because I didn’t know when I’d be coming back.

Despite all the excitement and this newfound sense of familiarity I so longed to discover, I was battling something the entire duration of my stay. I felt like I was being called in a different direction, so I fought. I fought really hard.

And it made me miserable.

I realize now that I was miserable because I cannot control, nor can I foresee, the future. In my mind, this career path was a straight and narrow one: you focus on your job, train like crazy, keep convincing the casting directors that you’re only 22, and soon you’ll get your big break. Anything and EVERYTHING else gets eliminated. But here’s the problem… I was eliminating God, I was eliminating my husband’s needs, and I was pretending like that was ok.

A while back when I heard that the Rams were relocating to LA, I thought, Lord, here’s our chance to both get what we want. We can work in the same city, not have to spend months at a time apart, and everyone wins. I just need You to make it happen. It was a no-brainer. But it was also a no.

So I became mad again, and I stayed mad until we found out we were expecting a baby. It was the first time all year I took someone besides myself into serious consideration. We went home to tell our family + friends and made the announcement around 12 weeks. And for those first two to three months, I joined in on everyone else’s celebration for this precious baby until one day I found myself crying alone at home because I wasn’t in control anymore. The plans I had fought so hard to make for myself no longer looked the same, and I was scared.

God, how am I supposed to pull off both? There’s no way to give parenting and a career my full attention? Why did You bring me out here for the past three years if You knew all along I was going to have to take a step back? You know that’s not how this industry works. This isn’t a good stopping point for me. They’re all going to forget me…

And that’s when I felt Him laugh.

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” 2 Peter 3:8

I wanted perfect timing, and I thought I knew what that was. Turns out, I was wrong. There is no time limit for God, and there is nothing He can’t make happen later on down the road. In my mind, the time for my career was now because that’s what society wants us to believe. The world teaches us, especially women, that giving up something we care about to start a family is weak. Well, it took a bit of time to figure this out, but it actually makes you strong. Submitting to God’s timing was difficult. Raising this child is going to be extremely difficult. And if in a few years God calls me back to LA, relocating a family is going to be ridiculously difficult. But perhaps He has allowed me these opportunities for something coming later. And I’m ok with the wait. Because right now, I have another job to do…

Right now there are tiny little arms and legs moving inside of me, reminding me that life is about to get really fun. God has graciously blessed us with a son that I get to love with all my heart for the rest of my life. I’m the one that gets to hold him in the middle of the night when he’s scared. I get to bandage him up when he plays too rough outside. When he wants to go watch his dad play football, I’ll be the one sitting next to him in the stands. And when he grows up and experiences hard times of his own, I’m the one that gets to tell him how much Jesus loves him and has amazing things planned for his life, too.

“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:15-16

I’m ashamed of the times that I let the fear of the unknown steal my joy. I shouldn’t have been scared. I should have trusted Him more. Our Father in Heaven has known this little boy for as long as He’s known me, it’s just that I came first. Now it’s his turn to enter the world, and I’m counting down the days until he’s finally here.

Only God knows what my future holds, and one day He’ll show me that all these experiences I’ve had weren’t for nothing. They were for something. But they’re not for right now. Now, it is time to be a mom. And I’ve never felt more blessed.

Lauren

#thingsadored

Photography by Sarah Culver

NOT ALONE

 

Ever feel like you’ve ended up somewhere you weren’t supposed to be? Or maybe it was somewhere you really wanted to go, but once you got there you felt like you had made a huge mistake. Everything is flipped upside down, and nothing seems to add up anymore. You’re sitting inside a weird room in a foreign town wondering-

What have I done?

How did I get myself here? Why do I feel so alone? How can I turn back time and undo the decision I’ve made? This can’t be right.

But, maybe it is right. Maybe you are supposed to be there, you just can’t escape the fear of the unknown. Maybe, just maybe, you’re not alone after all.

“So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac. And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, ‘Jacob! Jacob!’ ‘Here I am,’ he replied. ‘I am God, the God of your father,’ he said. ‘Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.’” GENESIS 46:1-4

I will go down to Egypt with you…

God told Jacob — first through his sons, then with His own mouth — to leave his home and travel to a new place. At his age, this must have been difficult to do. However, God promised to be with him. He reassured Jacob that he would not be making the journey alone and that he would be taken care of.

When new, frightening situations come up, we can rest knowing that God is taking us there and seeing it through. There are times we’re pulled from a path we expected to be on for a while and put on another path that seems eerily uncertain. The road is long and so dark that you can’t see where you’re going. So, naturally, you fight it and do everything you can to keep things the same. Stay away, change! You’re not wanted here! Because duhh.. It’s hard to leave the comfort of a place we’re used to and the people that know us best.

I’m feeling that way again myself. This is the third year in a row I’ve returned to LA with no concrete plans other than, “Welp, I guess we’ll see what happens this time!” The only thing set in stone is where I’m living –and even that has the ability to change on me. (But like, please don’t.) There are so many days I sit and wonder if I’m doing the right thing. Are my intentions pure? Am I hearing You correctly? Is this desire place on my heart by You or by me?

But these are the challenges we are forewarned about. There are countless stories in the Bible of people’s lives being ripped from the ground and rearranged so drastically that they are no longer recognizable. It happens with jobs, relationships, moves, losses, disasters, you name it!

And that’s exactly what happened to Jacob. He discovered his son was not dead but ruling in Egypt and requesting that his entire family move to be with him. So in his old age, he packed up everything and traveled on a whim to be with Joseph. He was scared. He was unsure. But he knew that the Lord had called him to that new place and was traveling with him the entire way.

Our God is faithful. He doesn’t pluck us from safety and send us into danger. You may feel lost and afraid. But remember: you are never alone.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ISAIAH 41:10

#thingsadored

NO FEAR IN LOVE

Lately, I’ve been making it a point not to buy things unless I’m absolutely in love with them. Over the years, my closet has expanded, my shoes have piled up, and my anxiety from the clutter has skyrocketed. But as I was scrolling through Instagram the other day (not an uncommon thing), I noticed a necklace that caught my attention.

@lovishly | No Fear In Love

No fear in love… It struck me. No fear in love? But isn’t love always scary and unpredictable and hurtful? We’re constantly disappointed by those we love. It never fails. Love kinda sucks.

But if I’m being completely honest, I’m always hurting people that love me too. I’m not exempt from that blame. We can all be selfish. It’s in our DNA. So what the HECK kind of love doesn’t include fear?

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear…” 1 John 4:18

Perfect Love.

What is perfect love? Better yet, who is perfect love? It’s not me. And it’s not you. It’s not any of us.

“God is love.” 1 John 4:16

[ No fear in Love + God is Love = No fear in God ]

I used to think God was kind of cruel. He sometimes allows bad things to happen and sets boundaries for us that we don’t understand. But I’ve come to realize that I don’t understand because I’m not supposed to yet. He doesn’t give us all the answers in this life, but He does tell us this: He loved us first (1 John 4:19); He loved us so much that gave his only Son so that we could have eternal life with him (John 3:16); nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:37-39); we are made in His image (Genesis 1:26-27); He is in our midst (Zephaniah 3:17); He cares for us and wants us to lean on Him (1 Peter 5:6-7); He is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love (Psalm 86:15); and love comes from Him (1 John 4:7).

God isn’t going to hurt us like we hurt each other, and He doesn’t keep things from us to be hateful. Everything He does serves a purpose, and that purpose is for our own good. We may be scared to love each other from time to time, but He’s constantly reminding us that we shouldn’t be scared to love Him.

We may not have all the answers we’d like to. And I think maybe we don’t know everything because all we need to know is that He loves us. He longs for a relationship with us. He cares for us. He is without fault, without blame, without flaw. And loving Him isn’t scary at all. It’s the most peaceful, consistent, fulfilling thing we could ever do. God is Love. And in His love, there is no fear.

Long story short, I bought the necklace.

#thingsadored

Happy Valentine’s Day