On Labels

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We spent the past weekend on our church’s family retreat.  The retreat is primarily for families with young children, and it’s a time for them to disconnect from their busy lives and reconnect with God and one another. It’s a crazy, fun, exhausting weekend. We sang hymns, played games, went on scavenger hunts, ate excessive amounts of sugar, watched the Cubs advance to the World Series, and stayed up late catching up on life.  And we talked about identity.

Our speaker for the weekend began by bringing up some of the labels we wear—either because we’ve given them to ourselves or because someone else has put them on us.  Things like parents, wife, husband, daughter, son, friend, colleague.  Things like christian, republican, democrat, feminist, liberal, conservative.  Things like busy, aggressive, competitive, tired, young, old, capable, accomplished, strong.

We wear these labels—sometimes proudly and sometimes with shame.  Sometimes we put these labels on ourselves because we think that’s who the world wants us and needs us to be. Sometimes it’s just who we feel we need to be in order to get approval from everyone else.

But the truth is that none of these labels tell the whole story.  They don’t reveal what makes us special, what makes us beloved. They don’t offer any real insight into who we are at our very core—the people we were created to be.

We talked about the fact that there are only two people who have the right the label something—the creator and the purchaser.  The only one who has the right to label us is the One who made us.  The One who created us from dust, who knit us together in the womb calls us beloved.  He calls us important, unique, and strong. He calls us child of God.

Some days it’s hard to say which is more difficult—to see ourselves that way or to see others that way. I get to sit in the promise and the truth that I am a beloved child of God, but I also have to acknowledge that every other person I meet is a child of God, too. The person whose political views I disagree with and the person who posts hateful comments on Facebook.

Today I am thankful that God is so much bigger than my limited view of the world and who I am. And I’m especially thankful that God sees what I sometimes miss from where I am.

 

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Offering

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A few weeks ago I travelled to Atlanta for CBF Fellows orientation.  CBF Fellows is a program that invites young ministers to learn together, build community, and support one another. Our meetings were held at FBC Decatur, and the room we were in had a Bible verse written on the wall. Day after day, I sat in sessions forming new relationships and learning about leadership and family systems and healthy ministry practices. And I looked at these words:

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering.” Romans 12:1 (The Message)

Weeks later these words are still on my heart. I can’t stop thinking about this idea of offering.  It often feels like I have nothing of value to offer God.  But the truth is that I do have something to give to God—we all do. The real question is not whether or not we have something to offer to God, but what we choose to give to God.

When I think about my daily life, here are some words that come to mind: tired, frantic, stressed, busy. But what would look like to live my life as an intentional offering and response of thanksgiving to the God who loves me and created this ordinary day? Joy, gratitude, grace, peace?

One thing I’m certain of is that I want to lay the very best of what I have to give as the feet of God as my life’s offering.

Now I understand that life is life, and there will be days and weeks and seasons that drag and weigh us down no matter what.  But this idea of our daily lives as an offering to God is an invitation to a different way of living, a more intentional way.  It invites us to approach each  day to day with more reverence, more hope, and a profound expectation that we will encounter something holy.

Yes, it’s easy to get caught up in the day to day. But that’s okay—there’s something sacred there, too. What can you offer to God today?

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New York, New York

Bryan and I went on a mission trip a couple weeks ago with our church’s youth group to New York City.  Trying to survive in the middle of Manhattan with teenagers was equal parts hilarious and terrifying.  They spent a good chunk of their time dabbing and playing Pokemon Go, but they also worked incredibly hard to serve people in Jesus’ name during our time there.

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We also made time to have some fun while we were there. We explored Central Park, ate delicious food in Chinatown, and saw the 9/11 memorial.

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Other highlights included a Yankees game, keeping 19 teenagers alive and out of trouble in Times Square, and worshipping at Hillsong NYC. It was a wonderful trip!

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3 Days in Atlanta

Happy Wednesday! Bryan and I spent a few days in Atlanta last week, and we had SUCH a great time. I was there for the Orange Conference, which is a conference for children and youth ministers. The conference was fantastic—I got some great resources and left feeling inspired and supported in the work I do each week. We also had some time to take in a Braves game (Andy Samberg was there!) and do some exploring. Such a fun week!

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