A Stone of Hope

Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

“And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

“With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

“And when this happens, and when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

    Free at last! Free at last!

                Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”

~Excerpts from the “I Have a Dream” speech delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr. on August 28, 1963 at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C.~

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simplicity

Simplicity is one of those topics that has always intrigued and captivated me. With every year that passes, my desire to understand it and pursue it only grows. And simultaneously, it somehow becomes the “answer” to so many things. So, when I read an excerpt from Richard Foster’s book Freedom of Simplicity, I finally started to understand why I find so much rest and comfort and beauty in simplicity: “It is a natural and necessary outflow of the Good News of the Gospel having taken root in our lives.”

Oh……
Okay.

Well, now I understand why simplicity has utterly captivated me.
Because the Gospel captivates me.
Because Christ captivates me.

In a lot of things, I am completely my mother’s daughter. But in this area especially–and moreso in recent years–I feel like we are very much on the same page. (Sidenote: Mom, I don’t know if I’ve ever explicitly communicated this to you so, if you’re reading this, please continue! More importantly, thank you for living a life that has instilled this value in me.) I contribute some of my fascination with simplicity to the fact that I grew up as a military kid and, as such, we were always downsizing so that when it came time for us to move again it wouldn’t be an entirely chaotic fiasco. And I’m so grateful that I grew up with this mentality of habitually weeding through my belongings–in fact, I still do this! Lately, my husband and I have been consciously sorting through everything we own and making frequent Goodwill trips and, truth be told, there are few things as cathartic as hauling boxes of STUFF out of your living space!!

Even though I didn’t make specific resolutions this year, I would say that in the back of my mind, moving towards a more simplistic lifestyle every day is definitely a focus of mine. And not just in the parts of my life that are tangible and full of physical clutter, but in the tangled mess of thoughts drifting around my heart and mind. I’m seeking Christ and finding Him in all the simple moments.

“Simple Life” by Tyrone Wells
Everybody wants to tell me

where I should be going
everybody wants to point the way

all these different voices
calling out my name
feels like more than I can take
when all I want to do, is

Do justly
Love mercy
Walk humbly
Live a simple life

Looking out an open window
Anything is possible
Lift my face up to the sun
Even if I lose my way
I won’t be far from grace
I will find my way back home
I will remember to

When it’s complicated
We just need to simplify
Need to simplify 

Current Favorites

Current Book:  And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Current TV Show: The Bletchley Circle, 30 Days, Bones, Marvel SHIELD

Current Music: Gregory Porter, Taylor Swift, Pentatonix, Birdy, Ed Sheeran

Current Hair: A few inches past my shoulder, some layering, no bangs.

Current Occupation: Lead Patient Advocate with Cardon Outreach

Current Food: Roasted broccoli, tacos, sushi

Current Craving: Cheese. I desperately miss dairy.

Current Recipes: Anything that can be made in a slow-cooker.

Current Drink: I had my first gin & tonic on New Year’s Eve and…I think I’m in love.

Current Outfit: Fleece-lined leggings or my ridiculously comfortable yoga pants, paired with drapey long shirts/tunics, scarves, and boots. I’m all about “comfy-chic.”

Current Color: Teal. And dark purple, as always.

Current Natural: I recently transitioned to washing my hair every other day and (although it was gross at first) it feels incredible! I also made my own deodorant today and am anxious to see how it feels/works.

Current Wishlist: The iPhone 6 and turquoise Fiestaware.

Current Obsession: WWII era shows (think Bomb Girls, Call the Midwife, The Bletchley Circle), Christian yoga, de-cluttering, and discovering good reads in the Kindle store’s free category.

Current Excitement: The new year! I just love the feeling of new beginnings and pushing that figurative “reset” button and setting goals.

Current Distractions: Netflix. Social Media. The usual culprits…

Current Needs: Jesus. Always more Jesus.

Current Triumphs: Beginning to figure out a budget and financial responsibility with my husband. Also, learning new yoga positions!!

Current Blessings: Because of the nature of my job, I find myself constantly trying to be conscious of the huge blessings in my life that I often take for granted: a beautiful, supportive family; an affordable and warm place to live; health insurance; mine and Shawn’s jobs; our church family; and so much more…

Current Lesson: Marriage. It is always always teaching me something, whether it’s about myself, my husband, or something entirely random.

Sunshine & Smiles

Portland has had a really amazing weather shift this month. And I’m reminded that I am really really really grateful for sunshine. And there are so many reasons I love it. It gives me freckles and crazy tan lines on my feet. It energizes me. It fills me with motivation. It makes cool breezes and lush trees that much sweeter. It warms me not just physically but also emotionally. And because I am one of those people that connects with God in a deeper way when I am in and aware of nature and all its beauty… sunshine makes me feel like God is smiling. And smiles brighten anyone’s day, right?

Sometimes I feel like if people just smiled more, the world would be one step closer to being more peaceful, more kind, more loving. Seriously–a smile can go a long way! Today in church, I smiled at a precious little toddler I watch in nursery every couple months, and the result was priceless. She wiggled her way out of her mom’s arms, walked out of her pew, into the aisle, and right into my pew where she then stood with arms outstretched and a serious little face, as if to say “Well, what are you waiting for? It’s time for snuggles!” I picked her right up and she laid her head on my shoulder, wrapped her arm around my neck, and just nuzzled in. Completely content, we stayed like this for a few minutes, until it was time for her to go down to nursery. And to think, if I hadn’t smiled and waved, that sweet moment might have never happened.

Don’t forget to enjoy the little moments. Like sunshine and smiles.

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Fresh start!

One year from now, I want to look back to this day and think, “I am a different person now.”  I’ve never been one for huge & radical new year’s resolutions, but there are so many things that have been cumulating in my mind over the past year and I figure now is as good a time as any to finally put pen to paper (so to speak).

In the last few months specifically, I really feel like my perspective has shifted and I have this newfound desire to look at life in a holistic way rather than dissecting it into parts that cease to relate to each other. So, naturally, my thoughts surrounding new year’s resolutions were pretty in line with that perspective.

Sure, some  pretty stereotypical resolutions went through my mind as I was thinking through things…

I want to lose 20 pounds.
I want to keep a regular gym routine.
I want to eat a well-balanced, cleaner diet.
I want to read all the unread books on my over-stuffed bookshelf.
I want to de-clutter our closets.
I want to establish daily time-with-Jesus moments.

But I think if I had to condense all the thoughts swimming around in my head into one coherent & concise statement it would be: I want to be more disciplined and less fearful so that I can truly trust my Savior and be fully alive.

This guy Irenaeus said it well, “The glory of God is man fully alive.”

So here’s to a year that is bound to be difficult and stretching and emotional, but hopefully beautiful and memorable and freeing as well.

Did you make a new year’s resolution? If so, what is it?