Thursday, July 9, 2015
Two years ago I decided to give into my curiosity of the new, hot show "Orange Is the New Black" ( You can check out Wikipedia.com or IMDB for a complete and detailed description of the show). The basic premise of the Netflix phenomenon is the story of a middle class woman in her late 20's who is sentenced to prison after being involved in a drug scandal ten years earlier. The acting is fantastic, and the story line of each of the female in-mates draws in pretty much any female who is interested in interpersonal relationships, prison life and humor.
I watched the first season and got hooked. Although there was language and lesbian scenes that made me uncomfortable, I felt that there was something I needed to learn in this show.
I am a strong and devoted woman of God, but I will tell you that my media choices are not always conservative, due to the fact that I believe that God intends to teach us through things that are dark. It is scary for me to think about the amount of Christians who do not have any friends that are not Christian, and who spend the entirety of their lives watching the 700 Club, reading and watching entertainment and media that they feel Jesus would approve of.
While there may be some that are shocked by this statement, I would hope that those people would hear me out. It is through the darkness of this world that we are to be the Light. How can we be a light if we don't know what we are up against...or for that matter, what those who do not have a relationship with Christ are up against? I strongly believe that the Holy Spirit will lead us through those dark places, and there are times where they should not be avoided.
Okay, now I'm getting to the point. :)
Back in the day when I was a teenager, I had this weird fascination with prison shows. I remember an ex -boyfriend being disgusted with this fact, and can clearly remember the disapproving look on his face when I shared my little secret with him. "why?!" he asked.
I really didn't have much of an answer. The only thing that I could put my finger on was that it was a life that I couldn't comprehend; a world that I didn't understand. I was curious, and I just left it at that.
I binged watched "Orange Is The New Black" seasons 1 and 2 ( I believe that you can find my reflections during this time written on this post: http://thoughtswithroomforcream.blogspot.com/2013/09/salt-light-prison.html) and last month when season 3 came out, I was ready to see what would happen next.
I made it through a few episodes, and my husband watched one or two with me as well. At one point, Jeremy made a comment to the effect that the show was pushing the "nature vs. nurture" debate; the belief that those who are in prison are there by no fault of their own. It was how they were raised, the people who hurt them, the lies they believed. It raised the question of "do people really have a choice when this is all they've ever known?"
Without Christ, the answer is a resounding "YES!"
Jeremy also commented on the fact that the show portrayed the inmates as victims, not women who committed crimes, hurting people and themselves. Which led me to this thought.....
We are victims without Christ.
Without the astounding and unimaginable sacrifice of Jesus Christ for the sins of His children, we would all be victims, but it is because of this sacrifice that we are able to help those who see themselves as victims.
Now let me be clear, you can be a Christian and see yourself as a victim; It is because of our sin and human nature that Christ made the sacrifice in the first place, but it is because of our freedom in Christ that we do not have to live our lives as victims! However, without Christ, this is a truth that is not so easily grasped.
I did not make it through all of season 3. There was a scene with the character "Boo" that traumatized me big time; I definitely felt the nudge of the Holy Spirit telling me "Okay, I've taught you everything you need to know from this experience." Truth be told, it took me a whole week to get that scene out of my head. I guess you could say that it haunted me.
But what still haunts me is the blatant fact that there are so many female prisoners that don't know Christ....that don't know my Jesus....the one who loves them no matter what. The Jesus who is extending His hand for a life that is not about their guilt, their pain, their suffering, but a life that is about what Jesus has done for them.
Truth? You don't have to be behind actual bars due to a crime that you have committed against the laws of our country. You can be a pastor's wife, a nurse, a stay at home mom, a rape victim, an alcoholic, a drug addict or a woman who is entertaining an affair.
Prison comes in many forms. Right now my ardent prayer is that you will understand and experience the freedom that comes from Christ; the truth that He can and will set you free!
So my fellow inmates of life, may you have the courage to release your victimization to the one who died for your freedom....the One who loves you more than you can even fathom.....a truth that will always trump the "nature vs. nurture" theory.
Tuesday, June 30, 2015
One short year ago I was walking down the aisle in an old country church, dressed in white and full of gratitude for the answered prayer that God gave me in the form of my husband Jeremy. Everything went exactly as it was supposed to, though not necessarily as planned!
Throughout the marriage preparations, I taught myself to resort to the fact that "I've never done this before...we've never done this before." and by "this" I meant preparing for a marriage, dealing with the emotions that come from family members, balancing every day life and finances with preparing for one weekend out of our whole lives.
A woman spends most of her life waiting for the moment where she becomes the bride, but is quickly told by some older and wiser woman that it is what happens after the wedding that counts; that's what we need to prepare for.
The truth is, there is no way of really being able to know what an experience will be until you find yourself in the thick of it. You can read as many resources as you'd like, listen to podcasts, speak to older wives who have more experience in marriage than you do...and while though you are likely to gain wisdom and insight, it is nothing in comparison to that moment when you look at that first year of marriage and process how you experienced it.
To quote one of my favorite Disney Pixar movies " Adventure is out there!", but now that the dress is put away and one year of marriage is in the books, what does that mean for me?
What does that mean for you?
I used to think that adventure and "feeling alive" meant constantly moving and looking for change. But the truth is, the true adventure for all of us in every season of our lives is to trust God without abandon.
No matter where you are in life, God is calling you to trust....a verb that is just as powerful as it is a noun. To trust that even though we aren't sure what is going on, why we are here, why we are doing what we are doing and wondering "does this really make a difference?", He asks us to revisit the truth that...
My adventurous life isn't about me.
May God give you the grace and the ability to seek adventure by means of trusting His will and His way for your life. May you find your sufficiency in this kind of road trip, never forgetting to admire the scenery along the way.
Sunday, May 24, 2015
In the quietness of this morning, I found myself pouring over a short book by R.C. Sproul called "Does Prayer Change Things?" (which is an excellent read by the way, I highly recommend it!) Through much of the book Sproul took apart the well known prayer acronym "A.C.T.S": Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving and Supplication; all elements that God instructs us to include in our prayers to Him. While illustration after wise illustration was being made, this one really hit me hard.
"If God never grants us another glimpse of His glory in this life, if He never grants us another request, if He never gives us another gift from the abundance of His grace, we still would be obligated to spend the rest of our lives thanking Him for what He has already done. We have already been blessed enough to be moved daily to thanksgiving. Nevertheless, God continues to bless us."- R.C Sproul.
I have always, always been a striver by nature. For as long as I can remember, I have found it difficult to rest in the here and now. As my best friend recently stated to me "Sarah, right now is the greenest grass." In my flesh I will never be able to accept that statement, but by the power of the Holy Spirit I will be able to lay down my picnic blanket and dine on truth of Gods plan for my life.
After years of striving for some thing, I have now found myself striving more for the One, the Thing.
Sufficiency in Christ.
Finding my full satisfaction, joy and identity in Jesus Christ is what I've been striving for all along. I didn't realize it before now because I was too busy looking for something, waiting for something, changing something.
God forbid that I would journey through life looking for something to fill the hole, especially something that had "God" stamped on the front. God forbid that I would find myself in a place of familiarity with God that trumps His mystery and holiness.
Are you broken like I am? Are you striving like I have been? Take heart in knowing that you are not alone; that the Prince of Peace sees and knows the pain that you are feeling. He longs for you to find sufficiency in HIM.
Not a husband, not children, not a home, a career or enough material possessions that make you feel somewhat "secure" in a world that capitalizes on your insecurities.
May you find His all sufficient love to be all that you need; now and for always.
Sunday, May 17, 2015
Darkness. The very word puts so many visuals into my head, most of which are not cheery ones. It tends to be difficult to see things in the dark. Stumbling over objects that will likely cause a person to trip and fall, trying to pull themselves up so that they can make their way to a source of light.
Evil is known to be dark, though Scripture specifically states that satan "masquerades as light" ( 2nd Corinthians 11:4). Evil things often happen in the shadows; selling of souls, human trafficking, pornography viewed by a loving husband after His wife goes to bed at night. Some people spend the entirety of their lives in sheer blackness, not knowing an alternative.
The same darkness that can cover evil is the same darkness that brings us closer to Christ. It was also the darkness that provided protection in the underground railroad for slaves making their way to freedom, and clearly the most beautiful of all Gods creation is knit together in the darkness of a mothers womb.
Recently, I have been in the dark. A combination of some changes I made in my personal health regimen and situational life circumstances hurled me into an all familiar pit of anxiety and depression. I felt like I was in a paranoid tunnel, unable to see beyond my current state of mind. I lost my desire to write and do anything that improved something. With my weaknesses staring me in the face every hour of the day, I felt just that; weak.
I decided a long time ago that if God was going to prompt me to minister to the hearts of people through writing, that that meant that I must be willing to be vulnerable. It is through our vulnerability that God orchestrates the matters of the heart. If we allow plastic to represent our relationship with Christ, we forget that we are fragile pottery that has the chance to be broken. I also hope that my vulnerability will inspire others, and some small change could be made somewhere. Maybe.
It is through our brokenness that God does His best work. It is through our weakness that we become strong.
I asked my best friend the other day if God wants us to be happy. "Of course!" was her cheerful answer. After thought, conversation and prayer, I came to the conclusion that our happiness is to be fully and completely that of Christ. If we profess to be submitted to Christ, that means that we trust Him to order our steps. We trust Him with our coming and goings; our doings, every aspect of our lives. That is where we are to find our happiness, not in the manner of how God chooses to bring about His plan.
The classic Spiritual "This Little Light of Mine" would not have it's power without the bush ("hide it under a bushel, no!") human breath or satan...all things which threaten to remove light.Without darkness there is no purpose for light. If light is all we had, there would be no appreciation for its radiance.
Maybe....just maybe.....God has allowed darkness to show us how much we need His light. In a world that seems to become darker with every day, we are called to be that flicker that everyone thought was gone. On those days where the light within us is seemingly snuffed out, it is the darkness of our soul and sin that compel us to reach for the Light.
May you find the courage to strike a match when you feel like you have struck out. May our Heavenly Father ignite you with hope that will light the hearts of those you come in contact with.
"When Jesus spoke again to the people, He said "I am the light of the world, whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life." " -John 8:12
Sunday, March 15, 2015
Spring. Spring appears to be poking it's nose out of the winter ground, gracing us with temperatures in the high 60's, tiny little birds building nests for their tiny young, new babies being born (dressed in pink and blue onesies) and the later setting sun. All beautiful signatures of one of my favorite seasons of life.
If you have followed me on my blogging journey throughout the years, you will know that I often refer to the different stages of life as "seasons". To say the word "stage" in reference to something as vibrant and priceless as life is not only boring, but rather insulting! Seasons more accurately describe the visual of what we all go through. We all experience spring, summer, fall and winters, and what can make things difficult is that we don't always experience these seasons at the same time as the loved ones in our lives do. Pain can be the result of seeing a dear friend in her "spring" of life: marriage, a new home, babies- while you are in a cold, depressing winter of endless doctor appointments with no seemingly good news, a divorce or just lost hope in something you believed in. Winter wants to be happy for spring, and is happy for spring, but the truth of the matter is that Spring's happiness causes Winter pain, and Spring feels guilty, but then feels hurt that something so beautiful as being Spring can't be enjoyed by Winter. Thus, they part ways.
I've seen this so many times; I've experienced this so many times. Snow and petals just can't exist together. There may be many complicated reasons as to why this happens, but lately God has been impressing upon my heart the seriousness of putting down the seasonal telescope.
When a person looks through a telescope, all they can see is what is directly in front of them. It is black and narrow on either side, allowing you to focus in one an item that may be near or far away, but the focus is so strong that nothing else around you can be seen. Nothing else really matters in that moment.
As a newly married woman, I have become so convicted of the importance of stepping out of my season of life and into the ones of those I love.
God's loyalty and faithfulness isn't seasonal, so why should ours be?
Just because their aren't little Bolden's destroying a house yet doesn't mean that I can't offer to babysit for a couple who need a night out to reconnect or insist that she leave her children with a babysitter if she is wants to spend time with me, but just because you are a stay at home mom of toddlers and I work full time and come home to fur babies doesn't mean that I should not be invested in as a sister in Christ and friend.
Those of us who are young should not just invest in the young, but invest in the old. Those of us who are old should invest in the young.
I guarantee you that you have friends in your life who are going through a true winter season; depression threatening to take over their belief in God and His goodness.
Bring them Spring.
Spring, Winter needs Spring for hope, just as Spring needs Winter for staying humble and grounded.
Now, I know what you are thinking: what about Summer and Fall? It is forecasted to learn about them in future posts.
My prayer is that God will open your eyes and heart to all the seasons around you, no matter what season you may currently be in. It is when we develop a heart of service and seek to bring Christ to others that we begin to truly live. Every season has a purpose; what is yours?
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
It's been over three years since my life changed for good and for the better. It's been about five years since I told God "Yeah, there is no plan. Your plan is my plan, let thy will be done."
That prayer has led me across the United States into territory quite unknown. It started with a tiny house inhabited by an equally tiny, old southern lady in the mountains of Tennessee. I took care of her 247, and she fought dementia and made biscuits and fried chicken.
There has been so much that has happened since then. Things have happened to me and been experienced in the blink of an eye. I am now understanding on a personal level what it means that "the older you become, the more time flies." Sometimes I feel like the current events have not caught up with my soul, but here I am, a Minnesota woman who may never become "country" but lives in the south.
I have experienced culture shock before, have you? That out of body feeling where your senses are screaming "this isn't home!". I experienced it when I flew to Cambodia with a performing arts ministry after my High School graduation. I remember the thick, hot humidity, the sick, intense smell of incense and the fact that I was an outsider with my group coming into unknown territory. There was no good chocolate or coffee, and you had to squat for every single indoor and outdoor toilet. But it was beautiful in its own way, and after three weeks as we boarded the plane back to the US, I was hopeful for the day when I could visit again.
Living in the south has been a different kind of culture shock that tends to comes in waves. Sometimes I go to a Target or a grocery store and see and hear all kinds of people, making me feel less far away from what was. Other times I will go to places like my new job, which is a small yet busy family owned pharmacy where all my coworkers have been born and raised here, they talk like each other and know each other. The same goes for the guests that come through the doors. At a pharmacy, most everyone is a "regular", especially if you are over 65. The pharmacists have known these people for over 20 years; it's like a big family, and yet I feel adopted.
I answer the phone with my Midwestern voice, only to barely understand the thick, country accent on the other end. I continue to smile and try to hear all of the correct vowels in their names, but seem to fail nearly every time. And yet I know that God has called me here and will use me according to His will. I may not sound like them, but I love them, and I'm hopeful that they will learn to love me too, with all of my Midwestern "ism's".
I love the south, I truly do. I love country people, that's a fact. But to go from a land of "Minnesota Nice" to "Southern Hospitality" has been a bigger transition than what I every imagined. God used a little old southern woman to get me here, and a handsome, God-fearing mountain man to keep me here.
When we say "Lord, do with me as you will", He will do just that. I guarantee that you won't know what it looks like in that moment, but that moment will arrive faster than what you realize. As the scenery of my life continues to change, so do I. Isn't that what life really is? A massive set of changes that have taken place, will take or is taking place? Life is wild, but we serve a wild God who is truly out for an adventure, ready to see Himself glorified through our willingness.
Are you willing? Do you find yourself in the midst of "how did this happen?" or "how do I get out of this?". God is asking you to trust Him and hold on. He has asking you to surrender the reigns of your life and let Him lead. It may be into a territory where you feel so small, but remember He is SO big!
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
I'm not a big "Christmas" kind of girl, but one of my favorite Christmas themed traditions/movies is "The Muppets Christmas Carol". I have watched it nearly every year since I was a child, with this year being no exception. One of the things that I love about movies and literature that are beloved all through your life, is that you discover and learn different things as you become older. This year I heard the narrator of the Christmas Carol say something that lands in that exact category.
"Scrooge loved the darkness, because darkness was cheap."
This phrase has been rolling around in my brain all day, trying to put meaning to these words. I have never thought of darkness as being cheap, but in fact it actually is. I think about how my grandma would harp on me for keeping the lights on when they were not in use, because of how expensive the electric bill would be. I also think about how things that are of dark nature in this world are typically done in the actual darkness, and yet have an expensive price at the end.
I also have been thinking about what we are willing to give up to not have light. That the light that we shine as Christians can appear to have an expense to those who are living in darkness; it's something that they want, but darkness is so much cheaper. Now let me make this more personal. Let us think about the light that we are willing to forfeit in order to live in the comfort of our own darkness.
Our sins, bad habits, fears and anxieties.
Tomorrow night my husband and I are going to go to a traditional Christmas Eve candle light service. Now granted, there are many beautiful things to be experienced in this world, but on the top of my personal list would be the candle light service at Christmas Eve. What better way to celebrate the birth of the light of the world, than with candles that light up a dark room? What better way to remember the birthday of our Savior than with old hymns that warm the hearts with truth such as "Prince of Peace" and "the darkness had felt it's worth"?
We no longer have to live in darkness my friends! Take this truth to heart this Christmas in the midst of all of the unwrapping of gifts, annoying relatives, long car rides and hours of Christmas movies.
Jesus is the light of the world. His death came at such an expensive price for a person with such cheap worth as myself. The Light gives us our worth.