Category Archives: THINGS I BELIEVE

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

 

THE CHRISTMAS PATH

In this world, there is a lot of uncertainty. We go through life not always having the answers, and sometimes it’s frustrating to be blinded by the unknown. So, we do the best we can. We cling to ideas and beliefs that best suit our needs. By creating our own truths and rules, we can justify our actions.

So how do you find the correct path? How do you know which one is right…

Many people ask, why Jesus? Why is He the way? What makes Christianity so different from every other religion or idea?

It’s quite a complex question to ask. Some people like to think of it this way: God is sitting atop a mountain and on all sides of the mountain are different paths. You may take a different path to get to the top, but we all end up in the same place as long as you believe in God or a higher power of some sort. So if everyone makes it up there somehow, why Christianity over something else? Why Jesus? Why the cross?

Take a journey with me to the top of this mountain. You’ve got your hiking boots on, backpack filled with food and water, equipment to get you through the rough patches, and you know which direction you’re headed. In the first thirty minutes it’s smooth sailing until you come across some poison ivy. You hop over to another path only to find it’s snake infested. Backtrack to the previous route, and you’re good to go. Well just kidding, you’ve come up on a drop off too high and your equipment just won’t cut it. Now you transition to another route. This pathway is gorgeous. The scenery is breathtaking! After an hour or so of trees and flowers and a view to die for, you get wrapped up and eat some berries that were not meant for your stomach. You take a break to feel better and choose a fourth path. This path leads you to the top but when you get there – nothing. You’re standing up there completely alone and confused. You can’t figure out why all your hard work was wasted. There’s no one there but you.

Why?

One word:

CHRISTMAS

In every other religion, we have to work to get to God. But instead of waiting for us to come to Him, He sent His Son to earth to save us. He humbly left His throne in heaven to become flesh and take on the sins of the world. Jesus doesn’t force us to take that journey. He’s not sitting in heaven with His nose held high, judging the world and reminding us of all our shortcomings. He came down. Why? Because He loves us.

What other god did that? None other than Jesus Christ.

And that’s what Christmas is all about. It is about our Lord leaving heaven to save us from an impossible journey that would only lead to defeat because of sin. No amount of effort on our part can get us to heaven. What happened on the cross does. We aren’t worthy of eternal life with God, so

He gave us a Way up by sending His Son down.

I don’t know all the answers. I won’t until I’m resurrected with the rest of our brothers and sisters. But one thing I do know is this: even if I wasn’t sure about religion, even if I had more questions than answers, even if the grass seemed greener on the other side, I would rather follow a God that sacrificed for me than a god who didn’t.

You can climb all day long. Climb as high as you want. But just know that you don’t have to because two thousand years ago, a Savior was born in a manger. While other religions are busy trying to reach unrealistic expectations, our Father is kneeling down to meet us where we are. That’s what’s different about Jesus. His love and forgiveness.

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

Merry Christmas

#thingsadored

How many Kings stepped down from their thrones?

How many Lords have abandoned their homes?

How many Greats have become the least for me?

And how many gods have poured out their hearts

To romance a world that is torn all apart?

How many Fathers gave up their Sons for me?

Only One did that for me.

Find the song here.

EXPLORE MORE

Welcome to Owings Mills, MD, the last place on earth you’d expect to wind up in a scene like this one. And believe me when I say that my mouth hit the floor when I stumbled upon this little corner of the earth. It’s incredible. I’ve visited this trail a few times lately, and I find myself thinking about it all the time.

It’s pet friendly, too!

As I get older, I find myself wanting more of this – more adventure, beauty, solitude, peacefulness, and reminders of God’s love. It’s places like these that cause me to think of how big the world is and how small I am. But it also shows us how much we’re loved.

“But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or speak to the earth, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea inform you. Which of all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this?” Job 12:7-9

God is the only one responsible or capable of such beauty. It’s a beauty we should constantly seek and never stop giving thanks for.

So grab a friend and go exploring! You never know what you may find out there.

Jacket | Francesca’s

Sweater | H&M

Pants | Garage

Boots | Target

Hat | Under Armor

#thingsadored

CRAZY JOY

Oh Christmas time! The most wonderful time of the year. It really is, isn’t it? No other holiday can compare when it comes to the food, music, decorations, and traditions. And what sweeter praise than that of our Savior entering the world. It melts the heart and warms the soul.

My favorite thing to do is cuddle up in front of a warm fire with a cup of hot chocolate while my favorite Christmas songs play on the record player next to the glowing tree. Nothing fills your home with peace like songs of worship and a manger scene on your mantle. Sadly, this season is gradually overbooking itself and stealing away those comfy couch nights. Between parties, jobs, charity events, and family gatherings, there’s hardly any time to stay in and rest. I can already feel the stress of the mess called my social calendar taking over. And it’s quite overwhelming.

But that’s how the holidays go, right? Each year, we say we’re going to take it easy this time. We’re going to get ahead of the gift-wrapping and the cooking and “actually enjoy this Christmas”. Then, we’re surprised that it’s the same chaotic thing as last year. We finish the Thanksgiving leftovers, blink, and it’s Dec. 26th.

So how do we slow down without slowing down? How do we breath while we’re suffocated by tinsel and bows?

Be intentional.

You’re already ahead of the game because you know what’s coming. You know who to buy gifts for, you have access to a calendar, and you have Christ to lean on.  Don’t let your To-Do list intimidate you; don’t be afraid to say ‘no thank you’ if it’s getting to be too much; and most importantly, set aside some time to spend with God. Read your Bible this holiday season, and pray for peace when you feel it leaving you.

The LORD gives strength to His people; the LORD blesses His people with peace. PSALM 29:11

The biggest mistake we can make is thinking we can get through the holidays without His help. Christmas isn’t about the hustle-and-bustle. It’s about HIM! It’s about love, generosity, and Jesus Christ coming into the world to selflessly show us the Way. You can’t keep the crazy from coming, but you can be intentional about it.

Instead of looking at your gift list and letting it freak you out, bring a friend to help and make it fun! Stop to talk over coffee or take a Christmas lights viewing detour. Then, when it’s time to wrap all those gifts, make hot chocolate and put on some Christmas music or a Hallmark channel movie in the background. And on those days full of family and food, don’t stress over what you’re bringing – let Pinterest do that for you! Smile that you can serve your loved ones, and look forward to sitting with them around a fire. Ask them questions about how they’re doing and what’s been going on.

The Grinch put it best:

He hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming! It came!

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

We can’t stop the crazy. So embrace it. Have fun. Give thanks. And don’t let the true meaning of Christmas get away from you in the process. This season is about a Savior leaving His heavenly home to come to earth for a short time. And in that short time, He saved us. But it all started with a baby in a manger, three wise men bringing gifts from afar, and Mary trusting the LORD with everything she had.

Jesus came to serve and to do it joyfully. Be glad that you have people in your life you can celebrate with. Instead of letting the enemy steal your joy this season, pray for peace from the Prince of Peace Himself. Do everything with a purpose: To Love.

He puzzled and puzzed til his puzzler was sore.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.

Maybe Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store.

Maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more!

#thingsadored

Originally posted on The Simply Beloved

SECURITY IN A CHANGING WORLD

As I sit on my back porch, coffee in hand, I watch as the leaves slowly fall from the trees. Just a week ago, green still filled the branches as touches of orange, red, and yellow found their new home. It’s breathtaking. There’s nowhere else I would rather be than quietly sitting in the sun while watching the wind blow the colorful branches back and forth. Back and forth. But as I watch one leaf fall, two leaves fall, then three, four, and five, I realize that winter will soon take it’s proper place and remove every last leaf from its home.

It saddens me to think that such beauty can be removed, replaced, and eventually replenished once more after another long year in waiting. A lot can happen in a year. We experience birth and death. We go through job changes and moves. We’re given good news and bad. Our lives, this world, is a never-ending shift.

And change can be hard.

Sometimes I just want to stop the clock, go back to the happy, youthful days when there wasn’t a care in the world and evil still seemed so far removed from our daily lives. But this world doesn’t stop for anyone. As much as we long for those perfect playground days to go on forever, we eventually grow old and experience life in an entirely new light. People change. Places change. Rules change. But one thing stays the same.

“They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will role them up like a robe; like a garment they will be changed. But you remain the same, and your years will never end.” Hebrews 1:11-12

Our Father in Heaven remains. When your friends betray you and move on, Christ stays. When you lose loved ones, Christ stays. When your drug and alcohol addiction pushes everyone away, Christ stays. When your parents decide there are other priorities in their lives, Christ stays. When sickness creeps in and your health disappears, Christ stays. When the leadership of your country strays from the path it once was on, Christ stays.

In a changing world, Christ is our only security.

Feel like the ground beneath you is crumbling, and all you want to do is remain in that one place? Me too. But we can’t depend on anything around us to stay fastened. As tempting as it is to grasp on tightly to earthly securities, the only stronghold we have is Him. Christ is changeless. He is always fair, just, and merciful to us who are so undeserving. Nothing we do can change Him or His love for us. Whatever may happen in this world, He Is. Nothing else can or will stand firm.

On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.

#thingsadored

Originally posted by The Simply Beloved

HOMELESS

Home (n.): the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household.

The place where one lives permanently… I don’t have that. Now, before this comes off as ungrateful, let me begin by saying I am very blessed. God has poured an abundance of grace and love into my life. He has taken us all over the country, connected me with so many people, and introduced an entirely new world I never knew before. Yet, I’ve still been struggling lately.

My husband and I live a pretty nomadic life. His career in the NFL has us living in both Baltimore, MD and Memphis, TN; and my career as an actor has us located in Los Angeles, CA for a few months as well. So, in a twelve month time frame, we move at least five times between those three cities.

Now my problem isn’t with the shuffling from here to there, deciding between whether to fly or drive, or constantly wondering if my favorite sweater was left on the east coast or the west. Lately, I’ve been struggling with the urge to settle down into one place – one city – one home with all our belongings where we can spend each week with everyone else that gets to live in one house all year long. Now that I think of it, I haven’t lived in one town for twelve consistent months since 2006. I feel unplugged, out of place, fleeting, as though I don’t belong anywhere.

Living in LA for a few months a year is incredible. The weather is beautiful, there’s so much to do, and I’m surrounded by people striving for the same thing I am. The entire city is full of actors, writers, musicians, directors. Everywhere you go, you’re inspired. The thing about LA is it’s super fast paced – there’s a never-ending shift and everyone is going going going. So when someone like me comes in for a few months at a time, I leave and it’s like I was never there. You build relationships, you do your best to keep in touch, but it’s never a permanent, comfortable feeling.

In Baltimore, I have the support of the girls on the team. We’re all going through the ups and downs of the NFL together. They are my family. The women here are the ones I spend holidays with because there’s a chance you could be watching Morgan on TV while you eat your Thanksgiving dinner. They take me to lunch on my birthday, call me over to hang out when the guys are away, and they’ll probably be the ones to come over when my screaming newborn won’t settle down while I’m home alone. However, we won’t be in Baltimore once he’s done with the Ravens, so even though we have an amazing life here, it’s still an awkward temporary mindset.

Now Memphis will always be a ‘home’ for us. It’s where we were both raised, and all of our family is there. I get more homesick for Memphis than I do with either of the other two cities. Even so, I go back and still feel left behind. The people and places are the same, but life has moved on despite my absence. I’m missing so many things that happen while I’m away that I feel like an intruder. Yet, so many things change for me while I’m gone that I feel like a fish out of water, too.

I’m caught between three different worlds. When I’m in one place, I try to talk about my life in the other cities, but no one can identify. Each time I move, I readjust to the people and the lifestyle. There’s an internal battle to merge the three together, but it’s a battle I’m fighting alone because no one else can relate. My friends in Baltimore don’t know my family in Memphis, and our teammates on the Ravens have no idea how to respond when I talk about an audition I’ve just had in LA. Home is all three places and none of the three at the same time. I belong, but I don’t. I’m constantly surrounded, yet completely alone. Home is everywhere, yet nowhere.

And why do none of these places feel like home?

Because none of them truly are.

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on this earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have an opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16

No matter how hard I try, I will never be completely comfortable. Whether we are living in one place or ten, we will always feel a bit unsettled because this is not our true home. We don’t belong here. This life was only meant to be for a short time, and I’m at peace with that. One day we will no longer feel uneasy, unsure, overlooked, or forgotten. We will be settled in our forever home with our heavenly Father. Don’t be discouraged when you feel like a stranger on this earth. This life is temporary, and when God’s timing is right, those of us who trust in the Lord will be reunited in our eternal home. To stay.

#thingsadored

Originally posted on The Simply Beloved

THE PAIN OF CHANGE

I started writing in March of 2014, and since then I’ve been so blessed with the invitation into the lives of others. It’s felt amazing to have people from my past have reach out to me and encourage me or ask questions or thank me for sharing something they resonated with. Some are happy to watch me grow, some come to me for help with their Walk, and some want to walk along side me. But then, some don’t. Many people have left me because of this change. A lot of my old friends have judged me and walked away from our friendship. And I’d be lying if I said it didn’t hurt. But I can’t blame them.

I used to cringe at some things Christians did. I thought it was weird to see people praying over each other in public. It made me uncomfortable to talk about God outside of church or Bible study. I hated it when people were open to strangers about their faith. And I couldn’t stand it when someone I knew became reborn and went from blasting pop and drinking to listening to praise & worship music and wanting to ‘get coffee’. To be quite honest, I thought it was stupid and fake. It all made me feel so awkward and out of place. Yet, I claimed to be one of them at the same time.

Then one day I realized that they weren’t the issue. The issue was me. I either needed to walk away from Christ or change the way I viewed the Christian lifestyle. Thankfully, God was the one that had a hold on me, not the other way around, so I started trying to see things in a new light. It took months of prayer and pleading for God to give me a deeper desire for His Truth. It required reading my Bible every day, praying when it felt uncomfortable, and volunteering my time to serve others (when secretly I didn’t want to do any of it). But that’s the way it works. Obedience plays a huge role in the Christian life; it’s not some walk in the park. People think you just wake up one day, say a cute little prayer, and bada-boom, you’re going to Heaven! Everything’s fine, my life is perfect, and now I’m better than you! But no – that’s not at all how it works.

When God calls you, everything is flipped upside down. There’s a struggle unlike any other. At first I tried to fit Him into the life I was living at the time, but then I realized that’s not going to happen because the life I was living was a life without Him. So I began changing. Nothing made sense, nothing felt normal – I was playing this internal tug-of-war where the old me battles the new me and it’s like I can’t win either way. Sounds fun, right? But the funny thing is, through it all, there’s peace. Through it all, there’s indescribable joy.

In 2 Corinthians 6, Paul talks about his hardships:

“We put no stumbling block in anyone’s path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships, and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarding impostors; known, yet regarded unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.”

It isn’t easy, this changed life – not for me, not for those around me. The old Lauren is gone, and boy does the new Lauren wish people could understand it was a change for the better. Sometimes it does hurt. My flesh doesn’t want to be left out, and at times the label of “the Bible study girl” leaves me feeling diminished. But I know that it shouldn’t. I realize that these sufferings can be endured joyfully because it is for the Kingdom. I realize that this new life isn’t going to be comfortable or easy. But praise God it’s a life worth fighting for.

Becoming a Christian didn’t all of a sudden make me perfect. It made me aware — aware that I’m changed, I’m free, I’m forgiven, I’m loved, and my source of joy doesn’t come from any of the filth this world has to offer me. Because of Jesus I can now talk about Christ with complete strangers. I don’t mind praying out loud in front of people. I’m not afraid to hold the hand of a dirty homeless person or ask the hard questions my friends may not want to answer. And when I feel deserted by those around me, I fall into the arms of Christ because I know He’ll never leave me. The chains of Christ are freedom. And I never knew how badly I needed that freedom until I found it.

#thingsadored

Originally posted on The Simply Beloved