The Justice Side

I spent the summer working at a day camp for elementary aged children. People who know I work with preschoolers assume this must have been easy for me. It wasn’t. There’s a big difference between a four-year-old and a nine-year-old, and while the former can solve just about any conflict with a hug, the latter can hold a petty grudge for a week. Or a month. Or a summer.

Sometimes that building felt like a war zone, grenades of hateful words being thrown back and forth. Girl to boy, boy to girl. Then the division would start in their own camps. Sometimes the ultimate bomb went off and left just about everyone in tears. And this whole time I was trying to keep the peace, often working to interfere before any major catastrophes could happen. It was exhausting.

One day I was standing on the sidelines of a kickball game, offering my services as referee. As I declared one of the boys “safe,” his competition turned on me and spewed, “It’s no fair. You’re on the boys side!”

My co-worker (who, by the way, was on the boy’s side) rushed to my defense with the dramatic exclamation, “She’s on the side of justice!”

I laughed at his antics then, but six months later, that’s a phrase that sticks with me.

“She’s on the side of justice.”

I don’t know about you, but the word “justice” often turns my mind to things like sex-trafficking and child slavery and all number of other atrocities taking place in the world. People who are “on the side of justice” are people who fight for the end of these horrors. But while I certainly don’t agree with any of those things, I don’t take an active role in vanquishing them either. So am I really on the side of justice?

Yes, I am. Because justice is so much more than abolishing slavery and taking a wrecking ball to the red light districts of the world.

Justice is, quite simply, the quality of being just, impartial, or fair.

Justice is admitting that the little guy did make it to first base when an entire team of girls is saying he’s out.

Justice is saying you can’t lock a kid out of the girl’s room for the sole crime of being younger than you.

Justice is evenly distributing the beanbags when the older girls want to sit on a mountain of them.

Justice is the little things.

And justice is hard.

Because it’s so much easier not to argue. It’s so much easier to let the masses rule and to find a new niche for the child who is bullied. But it’s not right. It’s not just.

So I hope it can always be said of me that I’m on the side of justice. I hope I’ll always be the one raising my voice and righting the wrongs.

Because the world needs a few more people on the Justice Side. And we’ve got to burst into it Red-Rover style. We’ve got to hold firm and catch people in the net of it until they get all wrapped up in Justice’s arms.

Won’t you come over? Won’t you come over and join the Side of Justice today?

Fall for Him ~ A Book Review

Up until about a month ago, I had never been asked to write a book review. But when I got an email from Brenda Rogers asking if I would look over her e-book, I couldn’t refuse. Especially when I hopped over to check out her book website and found the words, “You do not have to recover from singleness. There is a better way.”

Yep. Hooked.

So I told Brenda to send me the book. After all, it’s only natural for an author to be curious about someone who wrote about the same subject from a completely different angle. …And that’s where the whole review thing got hard. Not because I didn’t agree with what she was saying, but because I couldn’t relate with what she was saying.

The subtitle should have given it away. Fall for Him: 25 Challenges from a Recovering Single. I am not—and have never been—a recovering single. There are girls who say, “Woe is me. I’ll never find Mr. Right. Just call me an old maid.” And then there are girls who are all like, “Whoo! I’m single! Footloose and fancy-free, that’s me.” *happy dance*

Now, those are two extremes, but on a scale of Sobbing to Celebrating, I’m doing a moonwalk on the C. I’m happy with my life as it is. I’m truly content to be single until God brings the right man into my life. And if that’s where you are, then this book isn’t for you.

But… what I saw in this book is a lot of what I was seeing when I decided to write Beyond Waiting. Because there are girls who struggle with their singleness. There are women who are struggling to find contentment regardless of their relationship status. And Brenda does a better job connecting with them than I ever could, because Brenda lived there. Brenda knows what it is to long for marriage more than she longs for her Savior.

And while Fall for Him was written for a woman much different than me, I was still able to pull out a few very profound truths.

fall for himLike, Brenda rocks that verse about God giving you the desires of your heart.

She reminds us that, marriage and talents aside, our only true calling is to bring glory to God…

And that community is essential to any human being…

That “shame is not present in holiness”…

And (preach it, sister) there is more to being equally yoked than just being saved.

So if singleness is a struggle for you, I’d encourage you to check out Brenda’s book. It may just change your outlook on life as you know it.

 

Word of the Year

If I’ve established anything in my two years of blogging, I hope it’s that I don’t exactly go about things the typical way. I’m the girl who trashed my list of what I want in a future husband. I’m the girl who doesn’t believe in five-year plans. And when it comes to New Years resolutions, I laugh in the face of 2013. Because there is only one thing I know about this coming year: It won’t be anything like I would expect it to be.

I know people—several people—who assign words to their years. One year they will focus on joy and the next, courage. It’s a great idea in theory, and it seems to be working out for them. As for me… Like I said, I’m not typical.

I took a look through the journals that document this year of my life and was surprised by what I found. Because I had expectations for 2012, and I didn’t find them in the pages of this year. In the midst of  unrealized dreams being realized and falling in love with a new job and discovering Hannah Brencher *squeal*, I also found that birthing dreams is hard and messy and not at all like I once imagined it would be.

“Every day is different,” I find in January. “As fickle as the emotions of the four-year-olds I work with. One moment they’re spitting at you; the next moment they’ve wrapped their arms around your hips and nuzzled their face into your side.”

There was a dream coming into being, but there was also opposition and confusion and heartache and goodbyes.

“God, it wasn’t supposed to be like this,” February claims. “I don’t know how it was supposed to be, but certainly not like this.”

Because if I could have chosen a word for this year, it would have been something about stepping out. Something about dreams coming true and hopes being realized. It would have been the year my purpose unfolded and my ministry skyrocketed. And it did. In so many ways, all of those things were true. But God was doing something deeper beneath the surface. Something I didn’t realize I needed until it threaded its way through the pages of my story and, eventually, onto the face of the internet.

Vulnerability.
Approachability.
Trust.

Those were the words God would give me this year. Words I didn’t even realize were missing from my vocabulary until He whispered them into my heart. Those words lingered beneath the surface of my reality, begging to be fully realized.

I had finally allowed entrance to those two crazy guys who only ever wanted to befriend me, but it took a little longer for me to understand that there was more to letting them in than finally agreeing to go to their stupid Christmas party two years ago. That’s where it all began—the vulnerability, the learning to be approachable, the willingness to open myself up and trust that they’re not going to hurt me.

“Here’s to becoming approachable,” I wrote in June.

“Here’s to being vulnerable,” followed in September.

And November hit me with the weight of it all: “I’m going to put myself back in the arena. Open myself to more wounds, more scars. And more grace.”Here's to becoming approachable.

It’s not what I would have thought—what I would have chosen—for this year, but it is what I needed. And I have no idea what my story will be in 2013. I have no words to define this year I’ve yet to know. But I’m certain that it’s going to be something far beyond what I would ever dream for myself. Because God… He’s awesome like that.

Here’s to another year of walking hand in hand with the God who knows me better than I know myself.

Something About Dating…

So, I wrote my third guest post for Devotional Diva. One thing I really love about guest posting for Renee is that it is always challenging. I’ve had to step outside the box and/or delve into some issues that I don’t spend much time talking about. First she had me write about becoming approachable… which I’m not—I’m totally not. Then she had me addressing some issues with my skinny little body… which I tend not to talk about because most people don’t understand that “skinny” isn’t a good thing. Today, I’m talking about dating… which is laughable.

But, you see, someone asked me how I felt about not being allowed to date until I was sixteen and, for the first time in my life, I actually thought about it. And the answer I came up with was really quite beautiful. It made me want to hug my dad (and I probably would have if he weren’t 450 miles away).

So here’s my thoughts about dads being involved in their daughter’s dating life: Get all up in the middle of it, please. Even if she tells you she doesn’t want you there. Because she’s lying. And here’s why I believe that.

The Five Year Plan

A friend and I were recently talking about the problem with the question, “What’s your five year plan?”

See, it sounds like a decent question to ask someone in an interview, but here’s where the question falls short:

What was your plan five years ago?

If you tell me that you’re actually living it, I’ll be surprised and more than a little impressed. Because I, too, thought I had a grasp on what I’d be doing with my life today. But if you had told me five years ago that I would have stopped working at Advancing Native Missions for any reason other than marriage, I would have laughed in your face.

Five year plans aren’t bad in and of themselves. It’s good to have goals. It’s good to have an idea of where you’re going in life.

But when you’re so caught up in those plans you made five years ago that you can’t see how God is reshaping your dream, your plan becomes a problem. Your goal becomes your god.

And that’s where I was a little over a year ago—living the only dream I had ever dreamed. It was all I ever wanted from the time I was eight years old and read a story about Amy Carmichael and her beautiful brown eyes that saved the lives of countless children. I know, I was a rather ambitious eight year old. But those ambitions remained for the next ten years until I could finally touch them. I was there. Doing everything I ever dreamed I would be doing.

And then one day I realized I wasn’t dreaming anymore. Maybe in my heart of hearts I still wanted to be an Amy Carmichael, but somewhere along the line, my idea of ministry had changed.

When you dream one dream for twelve years, it can be absolutely terrifying to let it go.

I wrestled for months with the knowing in my heart. The knowing that it was time to let go and move on. But I was afraid. I was ever so afraid of dreaming a new dream. I was absolutely terrified of giving up the familiar.

This was uncharted territory I was exploring. This was never in the plan. Well, it was in The Plan, just not my plan.

And in the past year I’ve learned that it’s okay to throw my plans out the window. It’s okay to admit that I may have been wrong about the timing. And that maybe my dream wasn’t supposed to last five years after all.

Because I’m not the girl I was five years ago. Nor am I the girl I once imagined I would be.

But I’m finally coming to terms with that. I’m finally deciding that maybe this is where I was meant to be all along. And maybe life has grander adventures in store than the ones I conjured up with my limited imagination.

Today if you ask me my five year plan, I’ll tell you to ask The Man Upstairs. Because I’m done making plans for Him to interrupt. I think maybe it’s best if I just let Him lead me step by step.

the worth and weight of you

Define “Beauty”

Human beings have a really bad habit of comparing ourselves to others. We also have a horrible habit of declaring some people more beautiful than others. As if we have a right to declare one of God’s masterpieces more perfect than the next. And maybe it has everything to do with the fact that I have an extremely vulnerable post going up on the Devotional Diva website tomorrow, but I want to take a moment and talk about beauty.

If you’re like most women, you probably don’t believe that you’re beautiful. You don’t believe you’re valuable. And I’m willing to bet that you have features you hate.

Because someone once told you what beautiful was, and you never quite fit the mold.

Two months ago, I stumbled across a post on Good Women Project that recommended I write my body a love letter. It was more of an apology. For all the years I took it for granted. For all the times I convinced myself not to care about my appearance. For all the years I resented my body because I knew what the genetics said I could have been. But after twenty-one years, I finally penned the words:

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Because we all have our idea of what beautiful is, and you were never mine.”

And I told myself I’m beautiful. I praised the features I love rather than critiqued the ones I hate. It was a healing experience. A powerful experience. An experience I would recommend  to every woman on the planet.

Write your body a love letter. Because you’re beautiful like that.

Because for years and years, you’ve fed yourself lies for breakfast, lunch, and dinner; and you deserve a little truth in your diet.

You deserve the kind of truth that Hannah Brencher weaves into her blog post about bullying our bodies.
You deserve the kind of love letter that compares you to a breathtaking sunset.
You deserve to know that God made you beautiful.
And you deserve to hear it from yourself.

So write your body a love letter. Be honest. Be kind. And be sure to tell yourself you’re beautiful.

Because you are.

#10 – Wear it on Your Heart

You’ve written my name on the palm of Your hand, but until You revealed it to me, I had no idea it so closely resembled a nail-shaped scar.

I have a slight obsession with names. Seriously. While I love the names Silas and Gideon, I refuse to use both of them because the first means “forest dweller” and the second, “tree cutter.” That’s just asking for World War III to break out in your home.

Names are important. Your name is what defines you. That’s why I’m glad my mom was kind enough to name me “devoted and cherished.” And maybe that’s also why I was so touched when I read this article about Indian girls changing their names.

Here are a group of young women who have known from birth that they were “unwanted.” But on this one glorious day, they decided to make that change. They decided to transform the way they saw themselves and force others to see them in this new light. I wish I could have been there to watch these 285 girls receive the certificates that would restore them with a sense of worth. I wish I could have been there to see their smiles, to cry their happy tears.

But here I am, half a world away, talking to you. And I’m sure you have labels – names – that define you. And I’m sure there are words bouncing around in your mind. Words like: worthless, stupid, failure, unlovable… and God only knows what else. But you know what? You don’t have to go by those names anymore. You don’t have to see yourself as alone and unwanted. You don’t have to believe that your life has no value.

You are:

a child of God. (John 1:12)

chosen by God. (Ephesians 1:4)

valuable. (Matthew 10:31)

beautiful. (Psalm 45:11)

delivered. (Psalm 34:4)

endlessly loved. (Isaiah 54:10)

God knows your name, and He loved it enough to inscribe it on the palm of His hand. (Isaiah 49:16) He wears your name like a tattoo. I’m not really into tattoos, but I love the thought that I’m a permanent part of the Almighty God.

When the world screams that you’re unloved, unwanted, and undesired, God throws a renaming party and totally redefines you. Wear your new name on your heart as God wears it on His hand, and know that you are so much more than the words that define you.