From Grave to Groove

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The other night our youth minister shared a message in which he talked about the power of love. He referenced the U2 song Window in the Skies which talks about the beauty and wonder of what love can do in the world. I was struck by this particular line:

The grave is now a groove. 

For Christians, we’re familiar with the notion of love overcoming the grave. But something about hearing those particular words in this particular season is still resonating with me days later.

The Psalmist wrote, “You have turned my mourning to dancing” (Psalm 30:11).  In other words, God can turn our sadness into joy, our despair into hope, our grave into a groove.

Our world feels dark these days, and mourning seems to be the general state of things. There is a heaviness that is hard to shake. I’m thinking about Texas. I’m thinking about Charlottesville. I’m thinking about the refugee crisis. I’m thinking about all those who feel rejected, discriminated against, and marginalized. And it feels like too much.

Maybe you’ve felt it, too. Maybe you feel it on a more personal level. Maybe it’s an illness or the loss of a loved one that’s weighing on your heart. Maybe it’s a relationship that’s slowly breaking you. Maybe it’s the pressure to always do more, be more. Maybe you just feel tired.

It’s easy, these days, to feel like all there is and all there will be is mourning. But the story of God reminds us to look and remember what love can do. Love can change hearts, mend relationships, heal pain. Love is a force bigger than hate, and love doesn’t run out. Because of love the grave doesn’t get to have the last word.

From grave to groove. Look what love can do, indeed. Look what God can do.

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Friday Links

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

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Hey friends! It’s Friday, and I have a full weekend of work ahead of me. But we’ve also got some fun things planned, like a very special first birthday party for our sweet girl. There were a lot of important things on the internet this week, so I’m sharing some of the posts that have been particularly meaningful to me. Let’s love loud this weekend! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

Romania, Part 2

On Monday, I wrote about a mission trip I went on recently with my church. I shared some about the work we did, but I also have to share some photos from our sightseeing adventures. Romania is a really beautiful country—at times I felt like I was wondering the streets of Paris and at other times I felt like an extra in The Sound of Music. Enjoy!

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Romania, Part 1

During July, I had the privilege of going on a mission trip with my church to Romania.  While we were there, we worked with an organization called Project Ruth, which ministers primarily to the Roma people, or gypsies.  Project Ruth encompasses a wide range of projects and ministries, but on this particular trip we worked with their school.  Our team, along with a few other missionaries and translators, took a group of children from the school to a weeklong sleep away camp.  Throughout the week we led Bible Study, crafts, recreation, electives, and other fun activities like a talent show, campfire, and even a dance party. For the majority of the kids on the trip, that week was a once in a lifetime experience, and they had a BLAST! (So did we, of course.) And we fell in love with the kids. I mean, just look at these sweet faces…

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Every time I have the opportunity to travel, I’m reminded of two truths: the world is so much bigger than my view of the world, and God is so much bigger than my view of God. If we’re not careful, we can forget that. We start to imagine that the world is really just the way see it, the way we experience it. And we can turn God into our own small version of who we think he is, who we think he loves, and what we think he can do. But I watched these kids, whose world is so very different from my own, worship God with gladness and gratitude. I watched them embrace us and love us with abandon, even though we didn’t know one another or speak the same language. I watched as God worked in our hearts and theirs, changing us along the way.

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As I’ve read the stories and seen the images coming out of Charlottesville over the past few days, I’ve been thinking about Romania and these kids and love. Nelson Mandela said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the to the human heart than its opposite.”

In Romania, I was reminded of the truth of those words—that love indeed does come naturally. We didn’t speak the same language. We couldn’t share stories or jokes or even prayers. But we loved. And they taught me something about God’s love, too.

More than anything, I want to be a teacher of love today. I want to speak the truth boldly and denounce hatred clearly and loudly. I want to be an instrument of peace in the world. That’s my prayer for today.

Friday Links

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

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Happy Friday! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful week. We are officially in August, and I’m in fall mode preparing to kick off all the programs and ministries starting back up at church. This weekend I’m planning to hang out with Finley and get some things done around the house. Have a great weekend, friends! XO

For your weekend reading pleasure…

On Taking Up Space

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Well friends, it’s been a while. All of the sudden I looked up and it was August, and this little corner of the internet had been abandoned for months. I would like to say that I don’t know how that happened. Except that I do.

The past few months have been packed to the brim with camps and planning and supply runs and crafting and phone calls and to-do lists, and all the other things that define the life of a children’s minister during the summer. I’ve been traveling almost nonstop for work and just got back a few days ago from a mission trip on the other side of the globe. Things have been a little busy around here, to say the least.

Several weeks ago my travels took me to Atlanta for a conference. Any time I gather with this particular group of colleagues we end our time together with what we call the “talking chair.” We each take a turn sitting in a chair at the front of our room and sharing with one another what we plan to work on, either professionally or personally, until we meet again.  I thought about what I wanted and needed from the next few months, and when it was my turn to speak I simply said, “I will write.”

I’ve said before that writing is therapeutic for my soul.  It’s the way I connect with God and myself best, the way I give myself freedom and space to be the most honest version of myself. And so I’m vowing to make more time for that—both here and elsewhere. I’m vowing to write even when I don’t want to and feel like I have nothing to say. I’m vowing just to write and let the rest fall into place.

A few days ago I was reading an essay in which the author talked about the importance of taking up space in your own life. She was referring to our tendency to put everything else first—work obligations, family responsibilities, chores, etc. It’s not that those things aren’t important (they are), but if we’re not careful we can slip too far into the background of our lives. We can go  entire days and weeks and years without doing the very thing that bring us joy and give life, the very thing we were created to do.

For me, that’s what writing is—it’s taking up space in my own life. It’s making time for something that nourishes my soul and speaking the truth I have to speak. Thanks for reading along while I do it!