Sunday, July 15, 2012

Some bad news but then some good news

I am no longer going to be writing this blog.  Why?  It's kind of a long story.

I didn't go into my Gospels class that morning thinking my life was going to change.  But here I sit four years later, realizing how it has.

On this particular day, our assignment was to get into groups and to read Mark's 10th chapter, in which an authoritative, wealthy young man approaches Jesus and asks Him how to receive eternal life.

After performing His classic riddling routine, Jesus finally tells the guy, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me."

Now in the past, when I have read this story, there have been countless explanations of exactly what was going on here and exactly what Jesus might have meant.  "Well, He didn't actually mean for the ruler to sell all of his possessions - just the expensive and excessive things."  Or "Yes, Jesus said that and He meant it, but this was one of those times when Jesus was speaking specifically to this man, and He didn't mean for it to be a universal truth for all rich people."

In the past, I have always accepted these explanations, and I have made up my own explanations.  I have read Mark 10 and gone on unchanged.

But on this specific day, in my little class at Greenville College, the Lord gave me fresh eyes with which to read.  I finished the last sentence, and asked myself, "Wait.  What if Jesus really meant that?"

What if He wasn't speaking in hyperbole?  What if He was sharing a universal truth?  What if there is something inherent in wealth that acts as a block to experiencing the kingdom of heaven and the eternal life that is offered there?

{Let me pause my story for a moment to tell you that I am not talking about salvation here.  Jesus took care of that on the cross and there is no amount of pruning and do-good-ing and learning and adjusting to His ways that I can do that will earn me more than He earned in His death.  I am talking about experiencing the abundant life that He has for me now that I am His - the power to heal, the unending joy, the all-surpassing peace.  His very kingdom on earth.}

I began exploring this idea more and more, discovering how wealthy I truly am, and facing the fact that I am very much like the rich young man who encountered Jesus.  My wealth has for so long been staring me in the face as I go through the banquet table of my mind, dismissing unwanted guests like fear, anxiety, and jealousy; honoring others like joy and servanthood.  My wealth has been asking for a seat, and I have tried to fit her somewhere.  But every time I find her a seat, I look into the eyes of the Head of my table.  I see the oppressed widows and the lost children and the sex slaves gathered around Him, and I cannot allow my wealth to stay.

The weeks and years between that particular class session and today are filled with more epiphanies and discoveries and stories about me facing my wealth than you would ever care to read here.  So I will not tell you about my trip to a real, live leper colony in the Dominican.  I will not tell you how I came home to my government subsidized "poor people" housing and marveled at the way my walls and ceilings are actually adjoined, which is more than most Dominicans I encountered can say.  I will not share with you how I feel about the fact that just because I have money in the bank, in my purse, and also in a spare change dish, I am more wealthy than 92% of the world.  I will not tell you how the movie Taken was the first I had ever heard about sex trafficking and how I couldn't sleep for days afterward and that the way things came together allowed me to work hand-in-hand for over a year with an organization that has rescued and rehabilitated more sex slaves than I have ever heard of.  I will not tell you how I found a list of goods imported to America and how now, most days, I just can't bring myself to buy something that I know was made in a country that uses child labor or slave labor, no matter how much I want it.

Instead, I will tell you this.  I am rich.  Financially, intellectually, spiritually.  I have power and authority to change a lot of things.  And the Lord has been asking me to change this.  Truth be told, as wealthy as I am, there are not very many of my possessions that I could sell with the intent to raise money for the poor that you would want to buy.  But I am good with my hands, and I am creative and artistic.  So I have been purging my closets, setting aside some possessions that I know I could actually sell for money, and scouring the Internet for ways to upcycle everything else.  I now know how to make beautiful Christmas decorations from old CDs.  I know how to make about a dozen different kinds of scarfs out of old t-shirts.  I can string pop-can tabs together into a bracelet that you would want to wear.  I have made paintings and book sculptures and Bible verse art and coffee filter flowers, and I can bend wire into words that look simply beautiful hanging on the wall.  I have ways to sell my possessions and to give to the poor, and the Lord is asking me to do that.

Here's where you come in.  This blog is closing, but is launching.  Today.  Not only does it look completely different than this blog, but the contents have changed.  I still have my writings, but now I also have my music, my art, and (most importantly) a store where you can buy new things that I make out of old things.  Each purchase you make will be used to help the poor.

For our first project, we will raise $600 to pay for vocational training for one year for one girl that has been rescued from sex trafficking.  After that, we will choose a different goal.  It may be providing a clean water well to a village.  Or it might have something to do with the lepers I met.  Or maybe feeding hungry babies.

Either way, I will be getting rid of junk, you will be getting pretty things for your home, and we will both be joining together to bring light into the dark places on earth.

I have been writing at Consider Grace for quite some time, and I am thrilled to finally have a mission and a purpose in my writing.  To continue to "pause for a moment and consider Grace" and in that considering, to see Him in greater light.  To pursue His kingdom with all of me, and to encourage you to do the same.  I have full confidence that in doing so, this new website will be filled with more and more stories of Jesus' eternal life crashing into mine, but I cannot do it alone.

I invite you to join me in this endeavor.  To help me sell my possessions and give to the poor.  Please visit  Please tell your friends about my site.  Please consider giving to this cause.  I'll see you soon.

Monday, July 2, 2012

New Things

In case anyone has noticed my lack of posting, it's because I'm working on a whole new thing.  Announcement to come later this month.

You're gonna love this.

Please stay tuned!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Treasure Hunting

I did something a little nuts tonight.  I went out with the girl I mentor, her best friend, and a friend of mine (the same friend who finds angel feathers in her kitchen) and we "treasure hunted."  Except the clues were from the Lord and the treasures were people.


Me too.

There is a prayer team at our church that does stuff like this frequently, so this time, thanks to the girl I mentor, I went along.  A bunch of us met together, prayed for the Lord to show us "clues", and then just spent about 10 minutes writing down every thing that came into our mind.

Here's my list (in the order it came to me):
Red Bricks
Planet Fitness
Curtain Rod
Esophagus Problems
Ocean Wave
Purple Leopard Print
Stone-washed Jeans
White Tennis Shoes
Mary Beth
Knee Pain
Ham Sandwich
Birth Control

Crazy, huh?  So then we broke off into groups of four, shared our lists with each other to see if anything matched, and then picked a place to go.  Someone in my group had Cumin, Sugar & Spice, which kind of matched my Peppermint.  Someone had Tie-Back, which matched my Curtain Rod.  Someone had Knee Pain, which matched my Knee Pain.  And almost all of us had something about a Purple piece of clothing.  One girl had Wal-mart and 9th street, so that's where we went.

I've never been so nervous walking into Wal-mart.  I sweated through the armpits of my t-shirt AND my sweater.

We started with the spice section.  Nothing.  Then we moved to the pickle aisle (someone had Olives on her list).  Down at the end of that aisle, there was a man with a little boy (Child was on the same list as Olives).  We hesitated and half-followed him all the way to the check-out line before finally getting up the nerve to approach him.  The name Carl was on the same list as Olives and Child, so the holder of that list said, "Is your name Carl, by any chance?"

"Uh, no."

"Okay, sorry.  Bye!"

And that was that.  Not a hugely spiritual encounter, you might think, but hey.  It was a baby step in the right direction.

We then made our way toward the curtains and candles, since those things were on three of our lists.  A woman was turning into the candle aisle who walked with a very serious limp - like the lower half of her legs were turned the wrong way or something.  We tried matching her to a name, with the same approach as we had with Carl.

"Excuse me, but is your name Tonya?"

"No, it's Deanne."

(Watch our boldness here.)

"Oh, well, this might sound weird, but we are on a treasure hunt.  We asked the Lord to give us clues and we thought He might be pointing us to you, so could you look at our list and see if anything sticks out to you?"

She looked at it and said, "Yeah 'Chair'.  I wish I could sit in one!  I've been shopping all night."  We then asked if we could say a quick prayer to bless her, she said sure, and we did.  Then, since she didn't bring up her legs or knees, we did what those friends of that paralyzed man in Scripture did - we took her to Jesus on our own, and we prayed for God to heal her after she left us.

Voila.  Treasure found.  Candles.  Knee/Leg Pain.  Chair.

Coincidence, you think?  There was also Kathy, who wore a Purple Sweater, a Leopard Print jacket, was near the Curtain aisle, played the Piano, and attended the same church as one of the girls in my group.  And there was Darielle who had Coffee & Cream in her cart, had Dark Hair, was wearing a Jacket, Purple Shirt, and the very same Tennis Shoes I had seen in my mind, and her sister was pregnant and having lots of Knee Pain.

My favorite, though, was the most random of all.  Someone had Tickle-Me-Elmo on the list.  In the Elmo aisle, we struck up a conversation with a woman about her grandkids, for whom she was shopping.  We told her about the treasure hunt thing and showed her our list.  She was extremely skeptical.  Like.  Giving us slanty-eyed, weird looks.  She read the list for a few seconds and then said, "What am I supposed to do?"

"Just see if anything on the list sticks out to you."

"Oh......yeah, Pain.  I have arthritis, and I'm in pain all over my body.  Also, Octopus."  We asked her why.  She laughed and said, "I can't tell're church people!"  We laughed too.  Then we were gathering to pray for her arthritis, and we asked her name.


"My name's Angie, too!" said our Angie.

That really sent Tickle-Me-Elmo's Angie on some kind of trip.  She literally bolted to the other end of the aisle and said, "This is too weird.  Y'all are freaking me out.  Is your name really, you're Christian, birth certificate name?  You're going to make me cry!  This has been a really weird, holy week.  You can pray for me from over there, but you are freaking me out."  Our Angie just said, "Well, I bless you with healing from the top of your head to the tips of your toes."  And Elmo's Angie said, "The same to a good way!"  And we left, musing about how Tickle-Me-Elmo and Octopus were two of the strangest clues and how cool it was that they went together.

So that was it.  There lots of things on our lists that didn't get mentioned, but it was such a fun experience.  And once we got past the initial awkwardness of conjuring up a conversation out of thin air, it wasn't bad at all.

And I'm going to do it again on Saturday.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

What is it about facebook statuses?

Confession: I just spent the last 15 minutes looking for a good, sad, and juicy song lyric to post on my facebook wall.  Something intriguing and provocative.  Something to perfectly match my mood.

Then I stopped and asked myself, "Why?"

What is it about stringing a dozen words together and putting it up there for all of my "friends" to see?  What is the purpose of that?

Don't get me wrong.  I appreciate and even "like" interesting, funny, or thoughtful posts that other people put up.  But there is definitely something satisfying and almost relieving in writing a good status update.  There is something about it that enhances your feelings of goodness and suppresses your feelings of badness.

But what is it?

I may have an answer.

It's the same answer that a classmate gave in my Writing Fiction and Poetry class nearly 5 years ago when the professor asked, "Why do we write?"  His answer came after a few others.  "To inform people."  "To invoke emotion."  "To change ideas."

He said, "To make sure we're not alone."

We write to make sure we're not alone.  To see if anyone else out there feels the same way we do.  And I would venture to say that, whether you are talking about a newspaper article, a science paper, a blog, or a facebook post...most of them are written to make sure we're not alone.

There is a thrill with getting "like"d.  And even more-so with getting comments.  The thrill says, "Yes!  Someone gets me.  Someone has felt this way too."

Monday, April 16, 2012


Two nights ago, we were having dinner with some new friends.  After dinner, their just-turned-one-year-old baby boy kept reaching out toward the center of the dining room table, like he wanted something.  There was a bottle there, so I handed it to him.  No interest, but he kept reaching.  I started handing him other things, but he just kept reaching.

I asked his mom, "What is he reaching for?"  And I was surprised at her answer.  And at the nonchalance of it.

"Oh, I think there's an angel in our kitchen.  He reaches out like that a lot, and sometimes I see feathers falling while I'm doing dishes."

She went on to tell us how feathers can often be a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.  How when she first heard about this phenomenon, she asked the Lord about it, and He reminded her of Psalm 91:4.

"He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge."

She said that, for her, the small feathers are a reminder that God is seeing her, and that He is present.
I don't know if it's my childhood, my church background, my education, my chemical makeup, or just my personality.  But when I hear things like this, my initial reactions are ones of skepticism.  My tendency is to rationalize.  To reason.  To come up with a good, logical explanation.

But in the past month or so, that has begun to change.  Our boss (who is our pastor) has been pushing us (the church staff) to stretch our faith a bit more, to look into things that are unfamiliar for us, and to ask the Lord if He wants to teach us anything new.

Well.  If you've ever asked the Lord to teach you something new, you know the answer.  It's always yes.

So on my way home from this friend's house, I prayed.

"Lord, I want to have strong faith, and I want to walk in spiritual ways.  I don't want to test You, but I also don't want to just believe everything I hear.  If I have faith in something, I want it to be from You.  If making feathers appear is really something You do, will You do it for me?"

And here's what happened.

Yesterday afternoon, I was in my kitchen talking to a friend who is in the midst of a big, messy relational situation.  She is battling hopelessness, faithlessness, bitterness, and so many other things, and we were discussing it all.  And while we were talking, guess what just appeared in mid-air. 

{Insert Dora the Explorer awkward pause while we all wait for the kids to shout out the obvious answer here.}

You guessed it!  It was a tiny feather, and it just sort of floated out between us.  I caught a hold of it and it was small and brown and about the size of a fingernail clipping.

Now.  Here's what I could do.  I could fall on my face trembling and weeping before the Lord, thanking Him for His goodness and faithfulness and presence.  I could carry the feather around with me forever.  I could end up praying to the feather and I could trap it in a tiny glass case and charge my neighbors $5 to catch a glimpse of the relic.  You see where I'm going with this.

Or I could explain it away.  "Well, she probably sleeps on a feather pillow, so this feather was trapped in her shirt and when she gestured just now, the wind picked it up and shot it out toward me.  What a funny coincidence."

Or I could do this.  I could silently thank the Lord for reminding me that He is watching my friend.  That He continues to hold onto hope.  That He is working things out and keeping us safe under His wings in the meantime.  Then I could let the feather go.

Because, do you know what?  It doesn't matter to me whether the feather appeared out of thin air from an invisible wing in my kitchen or from a feather pillow.  The point is that I asked God for a feather and He gave it to me.  He knew it would remind me of Him.  That it would strengthen my faith.  That it would get my attention.  And after all that's really what our days are about anyway, aren't they?  Remembering God and pointing our attention to Him.

And do you know what else?  I've seen two more feathers today.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Something Very Personal

I am not pregnant.  However, a lot of my friends are pregnant and having babies, so lately, I have been thinking about it a lot....a LOT.

As of late, I have spent at least a little time every day imagining what it will be like when I am pregnant.  Will I be sick?  (This is almost always my first wondering.)  Will I look cute?  (This is almost always my second wondering.)  Will I glow?  (My goodness, how self-consumed can I be?)  Will I have an easy pregnancy?  How weird will it be to feel a person inside me?  Where will I be living?  How will I make all of those decisions?  (Names, home birth or hospital birth, which car seat is safest, what color high-chair to get, and so on.)

But my favorite thing to imagine and to think about is that for 40 weeks, I will have a tiny person inside of me and for those 40 weeks, I will literally never be by myself.  Every morning when I come out to sit on the couch, someone will be with me.  Every time Rod and I go on a date, there will actually be three of us.  I imagine that I will almost constantly be aware of the fact that I am pregnant.  (You moms can speak into this it true?)  And, I hope, because I am continually aware of it, I will continually be praying for that little tiny one.

Right now, Rod and I enjoy praying for our future kids.  We pray that they will grow up to know the Lord.  We pray for the people who are going to be their mentors, their best friends, their spouses.  We pray that my body will produce healthy children.  We pray for the Lord's blessing and favor over their lives.  We pray that we will have world-changing kids.

But over the last month or more, Jesus has really been bringing something to light for me.

It started in December, when a friend told me about a mother of three that she had met.  This mother was abusive to her three sons and she knew it, so this mother asked my friend to help her find a family to adopt her kids.  She said it had to happen soon or else she would bring her three boys to DCFS and give them up.

My friend asked if we would pray about adopting one or two or all of them.

It only lasted about a week before the mom changed her mind and the whole thing sort of flew out the window.  But in that short period of time, my instincts must have kicked in, because I saw a picture of those boys and I really, truly began thinking of them as my own.  I prayed for their protection and for their healing.  I prayed for this woman to stop hurting them.  I prayed Jesus would bring them to us safely if they were meant to be ours.

And for some reason, in the last maybe 3 weeks, those feelings have come up again.  Not for those boys specifically, but I wake up in the morning thinking, "My baby might be out there with someone else."  "My baby might be born today."  Or, "My baby might be three years old today."  And I pray even more for that baby's blessing, health, and most of all protection.

In all of these thoughts and these prayers, I am reminded again of how little control I have.  How the fact that I can go to the doctor and take pre-natal vitamins and read about all of the best exercises to do and the best foods to eat while pregnanct really is just an illusion of control.  That ultimately, I have to live with open hands and trust the Lord to carry out His perfect will.

Maybe His will is for us to only have children come through my body.  But more and more, I don't believe that's true.  More and more, I believe some (or all) of our babies are out "there" somewhere.  It makes me sick to think that someone else could be abusing my child right now, but that just drives me ever and ever closer to the Lord, because if that is the case, my only choice is to trust in His promises and believe that He will work all things out for good. 

The truth is, we are never in control.  We can do our best to make good decisions and to educate ourselves.  But HE is the one Who is holding it all.  That is a very scary thing to think about - having to trust Someone else to take care of things for you.  But when you look around at the pain and the evil that you are capable of (I can be so mean to my husband.  I can be so selfish when I want something.) doesn't it make you glad that you don't have the final say?  That there is Someone bigger and wiser and more loving than you Who is taking care of things and making beauty out of your ashes?

We serve such a good God.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Album of the Month - January, "Shorter Days"

I have a few Resolutions this year...

Number One. Fast from pop.  (Especially hard when you're at the movie theater and you're eating handfuls of salty's just not the same with water.)

Number Two. Memorize two Scripture passages each month.  For this, I am joining together with a dozen lovely women from my church, and I am learning a lot.

Number Three (and the one I am sharing with you now).  Create an Album of the Month.  I first heard about this idea from my friend, Emily.  So I adapted it and made it my own.

Remember getting/making mix tapes for road trips or for special events or for friends' birthdays?  This is like that.

This year, as a way to broaden my musical horizons, I am spending time each month discovering new music, and I am putting the best of what I find on the Album of the Month and then I will be sharing it here with you.  I find myself stuck in the same music for years at a time, only adopting new music when someone tells me to check it out.  So the whole point of this is to give me a tangible, measurable goal to work toward, which will force me to be proactive. 

It really is quite a narcissistic project, because the only requirement for a song to make it onto the album is that I like it.  I can bet that the vast majority of the songs will be low-key, acoustic, folksy stuff, but you never know when I will whip out a surprise (particularly if Justin Bieber releases any new stuff this year...I've admittedly got a little fever). 

My goal is for 80-90% of the album to be music that I have newly discovered (because there are just so many great songs that I already know, and I will want to share those too), and my other goal is to at least have one of my own originals on there each month, too.  The recordings won't be great, but again, it will force me each month to make an effort to write (or record, if it's already written) at least one song that I'm proud of.

For the sake of accountability and feedback, I have several friends who are helping me in this by being my "audience".  They are people who have agreed to give my album a listen each month, let me know what they think of it, and suggest new music to me as they come across it.

I would like the same from you.  If you ever hear of music you think I would like (based on the songs I list each month), please feel free to share it with me!  This project has been fun so far, and I'm looking forward to the new discoveries I will make.  Hope you like it too!  (And as soon as I figure out how to use Spotify, I will create a playlist on there, which should make this album much easier to share.)

January - "Shorter Days"
1. "1957" by Milo Greene
2. "When the City Comes" by Chuck E. Costa
3. "All My Days" by Alexi Murdoch
4. "In the Garden (Live)" by Susan Tedeschi
5. "Grand Central Station" by Mary Chapin Carpenter
6. "So Within" by Seryn
7. "Mario Kart Love Song" by Sam Hart"
8. "Ready to Leave" by Anna Joy
9. "Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop" by Landon Pigg
10. "Making Pies" by Patty Grifin
11. "Ever Could" by William Fitzsimmons
12. "Much Farther to Go" by Rosie Thomas
13. "Songbird" by Jillian Edwards
14. "Hazy" by Rosi Golan (featuring William Fitzsimmons)
15. "Hawthorne" by Mat Kearney
16. "On My Knees" by Seryn
17. "We Will Follow" by Jars of Clay (featuring Gungor)