Friday Links

  Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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Hello friends! I am currently hiding away in my pajamas and mourning the end of the best television show EVER. (How amazing was that Parenthood finale?!) It’s going to be rough day, y’all. But it is Friday AND Superbowl weekend, which means there are all kinds of fun things in store. I’m not a huge fan of professional football, but I am a huge fan of friends and snacks, so it all balances out in the end (some of my favorite football recipes are here, here & here). Do you have any fun Superbowl plans? Anyone want to get together for a good cry, a dance party, and an in-depth discussion on all six seasons of Parenthood? I’m available.

Happy football watching, friends! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This post on “scruffy hospitality” and creating space for friendship.  Friendship doesn’t demand perfection (thank goodness).  It doesn’t demand a perfect house or a gourmet meal, but it does demand time and energy and effort. Great reminder.
  • This great piece from Rachel Held Evans on the true meaning of modesty.
  • This majorly exciting news from Disney. Emma Watson is my hero (in so many ways), and this just makes me super giddy.
  • This super sweet post from Sarah Bessey on what love looks like. Go ahead and read through the entire “What Love Looks Like” series (link at the bottom of the post) and have yourself a good cry. I know I did.

Feed My Sheep

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I just got back to the office after spending the afternoon doing the very best part of my job—newborn visits. I have to go to the hospital pretty often for work, and it’s rarely for a happy occasion. But newborn visits are different. They’re all celebration and smiles and lots and lots of baby snuggles. I love getting to hold those precious babies just hours after they’re born. I love their sweet new baby smell and their impossibly tiny noses. I love getting to pray with their parents—thanking God for this incredible gift of life and praying that these children will come to know and love him as they grow.

One of the greatest gifts of ministry is getting to be present with people during the big moments of their lives.   Often these are happy moments—births, baptisms, parties, and weddings. Other times the big moments are the hard moments—the moments of loss, fear, sadness, and pain. Tomorrow I’ll go back to the hospital, but it won’t be to visit a new baby.  Instead I’ll go spend time with another one of my kids, a sweet little girl who was recently diagnosed with neuroblastoma. Another a big moment. Very different, but just as sacred.

When Jesus was talking to his disciple, John, he told him over and over again, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” It sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it? You say you love me. It’s time to prove it. Love the people I love. Love my children. Feed my sheep.

So much of my job doesn’t feel like feeding sheep. The logistics, the emails, the planning, the day-to-day drudgery of it doesn’t feel like feeding sheep. Herding cattle, maybe. But not feeding sheep.

But then I remind myself that if anyone understood the day-to-day work of ministry, it was Jesus. Jesus was there for the big moments, but he was there for the small moments, too. He knew that life-changing ministry happened just as often in the small, solitary moments that no one else noticed. Jesus was overworked and underappreciated. He showed us over and over again that there is more than one way to feed sheep.

I’m sitting back in my office now (still on a baby high), and I’m noticing that there are sheep to be fed here, too. In the emails to be read and forms to be filled out and planning to complete, there are opportunities to feed his sheep—to love him. Jesus said, “If you love me, feed my sheep.” Today I’m thankful for the task.

*Photo Source

Friday Links

   Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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This week got away from me a little bit (hence the complete lack of posts), so I’m looking forward to catching up on life this weekend. I hope your weekends are filled with rest, renewal, and lots and lots of Netflix. Happy Friday! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This post from SheLoves Magazine on gathering. This is the power of gathering; it inspires us, delightfully, to be more hopeful, more joyful, more thoughtful: in a word, more alive. 
  • This reading list from Leigh Kramer. There are some really great books on this list, as well as some I’ve been meaning to read myself. The stack of waiting-to-be-read books by my bed is already pretty high, but I am always looking for new books to add to it!
  • This post from Modern Mrs. Darcy about cancer and not being consumed by the fire. I know too many people that are fighting this terrible disease. Really powerful words here.

On Love and Change

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Today, instead of a post, I am sharing part of a speech written by Dr. Martin Luther King on Jesus’ command to love our enemies. Our world is broken and torn—much more accustomed to hate than to love. My prayer today is a prayer for peace and a prayer for change. It is a prayer for justice to reign and for persecution to be no more. It is a prayer for redemption and for love—love that extends past race and nationality and political party and religious denomination. Today I am praying for love and for change. And I’m thankful for these words…

Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. That’s why Jesus says, “Love your enemies.” Because if you hate your enemies, you have no way to redeem and to transform your enemies. But if you love your enemies, you will discover that at the very root of love is the power of redemption. You just keep loving people and keep loving them, even though they’re mistreating you. Here’s the person who is a neighbor, and this person is doing something wrong to you and all of that. Just keep being friendly to that person. Keep loving them. Don’t do anything to embarrass them. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with bitterness because they’re mad because you love them like that. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies….This morning, as I look into your eyes, and into the eyes of all of my brothers in Alabama and all over America and over the world, I say to you, “I love you. I would rather die than hate you.” 

*Photo Credit

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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It’s Friday! We had a super fun week, including making it to the State/UNC game on Wednesday. We were on different sides of this one (and I won, of course), but we just had a great time together cheering on our alma maters and enjoying a night out. This weekend I’m looking forward to time with friends and starting The Good Wife…exciting stuff, I know.

Have a great weekend, friends! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

  • This challenging post from Leigh Kramer on singles in the church. A person should know unequivocally they belong in their church. Regardless of who they are, where they’ve been, and what they bring to the table, they should know they are loved and accepted. The Church misses the mark when members are not valued and cared for as they are. I LOVE this.
  • This advice from Shauna Niequist on writing and starting by paying attention to the details.
  • This moving video of a crowd at a unity rally in Paris singing John Lennon’s “Imagine” following a recent terrorist attack. There is so much hate in our world, and these moments of peace, beauty, and unity are worth celebrating.
  • This list from the N.Y. Times of places to visit in 2015. I absolutely love to travel. We can’t afford very much of it at this stage in our lives, but I still love dreaming about it. We do have some fun adventures planned for 2015, though—and I can’t wait!

Rush v. Rest

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Rush versus rest. It’s a battle, always. The pressure to hurry, hurry, hurry and the innate longing to just be. I’ve been thinking about it a lot lately and attempting to work on the balance of things. Because I do think there can be a balance. There’s a way to give priority to the things that matter the most, while also cultivating space for genuine and necessary rest.

We live in a culture that elevates the rush above the rest, that values busyness and achievement and cheers harder for the people with a little too much of their plates. I certainly don’t think there is anything wrong with achievement, and I’m not sure that there is necessarily anything wrong with being busy.  The problem comes when we allow it to become all rush—when we buy into the lie that the keys to love and happiness are more time, more energy, more responsibility, and more plans.

Lately I’ve felt myself falling deeper and deeper into the trap of doing too much and moving too fast. It has become my default mode, a way of living that I embrace without hesitation. I’ve exchanged rest for multi-tasking and planning and crossing things off my to-do list. And it has thrown me off balance in a big way.

Here’s the thing: I need to let the rest win a little more often. Not just the rest that looks like going to bed earlier or lounging on the couch watching Netflix (although that is good, too). I’m talking about the kind of rest that looks like putting down my phone and eating dinner with my husband, at the table with a bottle of wine instead of on the couch while we ignore each other to answer emails and work on our computers. The kind of rest that comes from coffee dates and meaningful conversations, dance parties in the living room, and long, quiet walks. The kind of rest that comes from living with a spirit of love and attentiveness. The kind of rest that is good for both your body and your soul.

The rush is good sometimes, I think. I believe in hard work and doing your best. I also believe that most of the things that keep me busy have merit and add something of value to my life. But I also know that rest is good and that the rush will cease to be good if I don’t let the rest have some space, too. There’s a balance to be had, and I’m more than certain that it’s worth it.

*Photo Credit

Committed

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“The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice. Equally disquieting are the times when we do make a choice, only to later feel as though we have murdered some aspect of our being by settling on one single concrete decision. By choosing door number three, we fear that we have killed off a different—but equally critical—piece of our soul that could only have been made manifest by walking through door number one or door number two.

 In a world of such abundant possibility, many of us simply go limp from indecision. or we derail our life’s journey again and again, backing up to try the doors we neglected on the first round, desperate to get it right this time. Or we become compulsive comparers–always measuring our lives against some other person’s life, secretly wondering if we should have taken her path instead.

 All these choices and all this longing can create a weird kind of haunting in our lives—as though the ghosts of all our other, unchosen, possibilities linger forever in a shadow world around us, continuously asking, are you certain that this is what you really wanted?

 – Liz Gilbert, Committed

*Photo Credit

January Reading List

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1. Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard. Here I go with another food book. Lunch in Paris is a memoir about settling into life in Paris with her French husband and discovering a deep love for French cuisine.  I really enjoyed this book. I loved reading about the culture and being an American in Paris. And I really loved reading about the food—navigating outdoor markets, butchers, fishmongers, recipes, and learning to cook in a new place.  Perfect for the foodie in your life!

2. Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.  Eleanor and Park is a young adult novel (but don’t let that throw you!) about being young and unsure and in love. This is a great book. It is fun and clever, and although I found the ending to be a little unsatisfying, I think Rowell really nails it when it comes to portraying what it feels like to be sixteen and falling in love. She captures the feeling of simultaneous ecstasy and horror when you touch someone’s hand for the first time. She gets how awkward everything is, but also how exciting and new and wonderful. Super good.

3. Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand. I picked up this book because I love Elin Hilderbrand’s novels—her older stuff in fun, engaging, and emotional.  She develops interesting characters and sets her stoires in beautiful places that she somehow makes you fall in love with over the course of her novels.  It is chick lit at its finest. That being said, I didn’t love this book. I don’t think any of the characters were fully developed and the ending was just kind of blah. I just never got that into the story, and then it just ended. The story is set on an inn in Nantucket at Christmas, so it was kind of fun to read over the holidays. Over than that, I was pretty disappointed by this book.

Friday Links

Friday Links are a round-up of my favorite posts/videos/projects/photos from around the web.

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This was my first week back at work after some much needed time off. It was so, so nice to disconnect for a few days, and it was super hard to get back into a groove this week. This weekend we have no plans (yay!), so I’m looking forward to rest, Netflix, and putting this week behind me. And watching the Golden Globes, of course. I love award shows! I’ll be live tweeting the red carpet, too (@sarahgmears). Hope you all have a nice and relaxing weekend!

Happy 2015, friends! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure:

  • This list of the best blog posts/videos/interviews of 2014 from Rachel Held Evans. There are some fantastic pieces on this list—my favorites include “Open Letter to the Child I Hit at the Park” and “The Promise of Shared Brokenness.”
  • This post from Sarah Bessey inspired me to choose my own word for 2015. I love what she’s getting at here—finding God in the daily and the ordinary and the in-between, which is also sacred and beautiful and holy. God meets us where we are, and we can hold fast to that truth and that promise.
  • This touching article about Stuart Scott, a true inspiration and an incredible Tar Heel, who died this past Sunday.
  • This hilarious Bachelor preview from Grantland—some of these women are absolutely nuts (which of course makes for some excellent television!).
  • This lovely and inspirational post from Shauna Niequist about not saving the good stuff for a special occasion and really enjoying the gifts others have given to us. I LOVED this post and needed to hear it. Open the jam, the journal, the wine. Slather that fancy lotion all over your feet. Put on those fancy earrings even if you’re just going to the grocery store. Because someone gave them to you out of love. Accept that love. Burn the candles. 

*Photo Credit

On Women and Calling

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I didn’t grow up believing that God viewed women and men differently.  They had different characteristics, certainly. But to God they were equally loved, equally important, equally useful in the church and in the world. I grew up in churches where women were leaders.  I learned about God from female ministers. I heard women preach and teach and share their stories. I assumed that if I wanted to be a pastor, I could do it. No one every told me otherwise, and for that I am very grateful.

When I started seminary, I encountered several women whose stories were very different from my own. I had classmates and friends who were abused and dismissed by their churches, and even their families, for voicing and attempting to live out their callings.  The messages they received from the church were hurtful and intended to bring about shame: You’re wrong. You need to do your job, fulfill your role, embrace your femininity. Submit. Repent. It wasn’t God you heard calling you to ministry. You must be mistaken. God would never call you. 

I read an article the other day in which the author lamented the wave of “Christian feminism” in the church—women (and men) committed to the idea and the belief that men and women are equal in God’s eyes and deserve equal treatment and opportunities. These people are speaking up for justice. They’re asking that the church pay a little closer attention to how Jesus treated people and try to do the same. One woman commented on the article, describing her personal draw to the feminist movement and her own call to ministry. She was berated. Abused. Attacked. The same language that I heard from so many women before was used to discredit her call and her identity.  It was heartbreaking.

I experienced my call to ministry during college. I had never heard God’s voice so clearly in my life, and for the first time I felt an overwhelming sense of peace about where I was going and what I was supposed to be doing next. I believe that God called me to ministry, and I’m thankful to be part of a community that celebrates that call instead of dismissing it.

If we believe that God can part the Red Sea and heal the blind and speak the world into being, then we must believe that God can do anything. If we believe that God can use women like Esther and Deborah and Rahab and Lydia as ministers and heroines in the faith narrative, then surely we believe that God can call women to be ministers today.

I believe that God can (and does) call women to ministry because I believe that God can do anything. I believe that God has demonstrated again and again that he can and will use the marginalized and the unexpected to do his work. God has been using ordinary people—men, women, and children—throughout all of history to do extraordinary things. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen God use women to preach and share his story and lead others to Christ. I’ve seen God use women to ignite change and make a difference in the world. One of the greatest testimonies we have to the value of women in God’s kingdom is women who are bravely answering the call and stepping up to do God’s work in this badly broken world.

God’s desire is not for women to be silenced or belittled or shamed. God desire is for everyone—the broken and the lost, the misfits and the outcasts, the radicals and the rebel-rousers, men and women, young and old—to come to the table. Let’s start celebrating what God can do instead of limiting it. I love this prayer and commission for women from Sarah Bessey:

Rest in your God-breathed worth. Stop holding your breath, hiding your gifts, ducking your head, dulling your roar, distracting your soul, stilling your hands, quieting your voice, dulling your mind, satiating your hunger with the lesser things of this world.

Stand up, shake the dust from your feet if you need to, and look outside, it’s beautiful, isn’t it? There are a lot of us here, waiting for you, in the open air. We’ve been here all along, don’t you know? We’ve been ministering, preaching, praying, teaching, loving, mothering, caring, singing, walking each other home. It’s glorious and messy, far away from the rules and the limitations, the barriers and restrictive religion. But look, here, we, the people of God, we are here with you, we are a family, we’re your family, we’ve been waiting for you. We have a big, gorgeous tent and every one is welcome.

Amen.