Love Wins.

First off, I feel like you guys should know that at this point I have been awake for well over twenty four hours now. The last time I recall being awake for that long is my last drunken night in college (not my proudest moment). No, I didn’t par-tay last night, my body just decided to be a jerk and flipped me a giant middle finger by keeping me awake all. night. long. My point in telling you this is so that if I begin to babble incoherently, you’ll know why. So be merciful, my loves.

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Can you believe that two weeks from Tuesday will mark six months since we moved to Bend? SIX MONTHS. That’s half a year for crying out loud. I have been away from my only ever home, my dearest friends and comfort spaces for half a year already. At first glance it doesn’t seem as though a lot has changed since Shawn and I blazed the Oregon trail. Outside of friends we made through Shawn’s work when we moved, our immediate circle hasn’t much expanded. Our family hasn’t expanded. We have our cat and our house and our car. From the outside looking in, it seems as though these last six months have been a slow and steady march. But on the inside? Oh my heavenlies, it looks like war zone.

The sheer volume of changes that God has done in mine and Shawn’s hearts since we moved is awe-inspiring, let alone the density of each individual change and how they so effortlessly connect and flow together. If you’d told me a year ago that I would be the person I am today, I’d argue the crap out of it. I’m stunned. I’m humbled. I’m grateful.

You all know that rawnesty is one of my favorite things in this whole wide world, so in the spirit of my beloved rawnesty, I am going to turn my heart inside out and play full on show and tell with the contents.

If I had to put on a label on my current life season, it would undoubtedly be a learning season. And I am loving every single second of it.

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 presetA few months ago, I clearly heard the Holy Spirit call me to Holy Yoga. It was actually a thrilling and very exciting moment, despite that description that just fell flat. (No sleep, y’all, remember? Bear with.) My heart pretty much exploded. I have fallen so in love, not only with the physical practice of yoga, but with the intention and honor that Holy Yoga brings to that practice. In just a few short months of this Jesus centered practice, I have grown tremendously in my physical abilities as well embarked upon what feels like this adventure of enlightenment. I am being stretched and strengthened throughout my body and soul. I’m learning to really listen to my body, as the temple that it is. I know that probably sounds super granola and hocus pocus-y, especially to my midwestern peoples, but it’s not anything weird or dark or unsafe. I meet Jesus at my mat every single time I practice. I honor and worship God through my practice. It’s really been amazing. In fact, I have developed such a passion for Holy Yoga that I have given myself a five year goal to become Holy Yoga certified. I so cherish my practice and I love so much sharing it with others. My own yoga studio someday, perhaps?

I’m not a huge reader. I love stories and I appreciate books very much, but I’ve just never been a huge reader. My mom, sister, and best friend back home however, could finish an entire library within a year’s time. Respect. When I do look for a book I want to peruse, I usually gravitate towards non fiction. I especially love books that will help give me deeper glances into the heart of Jesus. In the last six months I have read four, count ’em, FOUR new books and am halfway through another one already. I can’t help but smile at how discovering these books lines up so perfectly with my learning season. These books…you guys, these books. 7 by Jen Hatmaker, The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer, Restless by Jennie Allen and the star on top of my tree; Carry On, Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton. These incredible books written by these amazing people, each one came to my hands and my heart at the right moment in my season. Each one revealed to me another piece of the puzzle…of my purpose here. From learning to prioritize, re-evaluate and steward from 7, engaging face to face with my sweet Saviour in The Pursuit of God, discovering the value of relationships and dreams in Restless, to having my heart ripped open, broken down and put back together in a way that grants me a greater capacity for loving others and my God (not to mention SO MUCH LAUGHING) in Carry On.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetMy greatest desire and deepest prayer is to truly know the heart of God. I want to know Him so closely and so intimately that my own heart simply has no other choice but to overwhelm this world and these precious people with His love. Every single day, that is what I strive for. I want to release as much goodness and love into this world as I possibly can while I’m still here. Carry On, Warrior has become my favorite book for many reasons. Glennon is such a gifted writer. She is HYSTERICAL. She is brutally honest about herself; her past, her mistakes, her hurts, her joys. In this book, G mentions three mantras that her family lives by.

We can do hard things. We belong to each other. Love wins.

I’ve already informed Shawn that we will be shamelessly stealing these mantras for our own family. I read those three simple statements over and over and over again. I love them SO MUCH. They drip with the gospel. SO MUCH JESUS.We can do ALL (hard) THINGS through Christ (Phil. 4:13). We are sweet, precious gifts to each other. We are all we have while we’re on this earth. We must learn to treasure each individual for the precious snowflake, as my Jen Hatmaker says, that they are. LOVE WINS. (Luke 10:27) Love is the bottom line. Love is what drove Jesus to sacrifice himself for a selfish person like me. Love is what rescues us and heals us. Love wins.

I mentioned earlier that if you’d given me a glimpse a year ago of who I’d be today, I wouldn’t believe you. I grew up in a home centered around Jesus and I am eternally grateful for that. I was also taught growing up that issues (sin) were black and white. Unfortunately I CLUNG to that mindset for too many years, far more than I’m proud of. It’s only in the last few years, essentially in these last six months that I feel like I finally understand grace and mercy for what they are at their core. Jesus doesn’t look at me and see my great, glaring sin (or what some may label as sin). No, Jesus looks at me and sees nothing but His child whom He adores. He sees every single one of us this way. Jesus doesn’t mark us by our weight, our temperament, our attitude, or our sexual preference.

I found myself so, deeply saddened by the events that transpired around World Vision this week. For anyone who doesn’t know, World Vision, a Christian organization that strives to make positive change in the lives of oppressed and poverty stricken children, announced earlier this week that they had decided to expand their hiring policies to include gay Christians (which by the way, can I just say that I fully believe that you can be gay and still love and follow Jesus with your whole heart). I was beyond thrilled when I heard this news. What an amazing display of love and warmth, I thought, to a people group who so often feel attacked and hated by Christians. Two days after the decision was announced, another headline broke, reporting that World Vision had changed their minds due to the evangelical outcry. My stomach dropped. I was so devastated, so frustrated for so many reasons. Imagine how people who felt they might finally be accepted and loved must have felt when those warm, open arms turned into stone cold rejection. I do feel for World Vision, and as saddened as I am by this final decision, I don’t fully blame them. The evangelical outcry wasn’t simply cyber bullying–it was resulting in sponsorships for those children being eviscerated. Can you imagine having to bear that weight? Having to make that call? I fully believe WV made that call for the greater good. But it sickens me that so many were willing to let something like that get in the way of rescuing and healing those oppressed and poverty stricken. Guys, aren’t we forgetting something?

LOVE WINS.

houseThis brings me to next and (basically) last highlight of this season. Several weeks ago, Shawn and I were on one of our evening walks and I said to him “Even if we had billions, I’d only want to live in a house just big enough for our family, with just enough money to make sure our needs were met, and then freaking give all the rest of it away to help save the world.”  My sweet husband, after fully nodding in agreement, looked at me, smiled, and said “You know just a few months ago we were singing a completely different tune.”

It’s so true. Ever since before we were even married, Shawn and I shared our hopes of achieving the American Dream, that bastard. We wanted a big house filled with lovely things and a garage or two littered with cars and motorcycles and toys. We wanted lavish vacations and expensive clothes. We just did.

But in my exploration of the heart of God, I couldn’t help but notice that the American Dream (that bastard) wasn’t so much on His priority list. You know what was? Poverty and injustice. I believe the heart of God has countless facets to it, and I relish searching them for the entirety of my existence, but one of those facets is brokenness. His sweet children all over the world are bleeding and broken and starving and dying. I HAVE TO DO EVERYTHING THAT I CAN TO CHANGE THAT.

I am beyond words grateful to have a husband who shares this passion with me. We want to change the world and we want our children to change the world. Our hearts are busted and bleeding and because of that the Lord had provided us with opportunities and avenues to get involved with some wonderful organizations who are totally living love out there in that dying world.cw

If you follow either my husband or myself on Facebook AT ALL, then you’ve heard at some point about our birthday campaign with charity:water. We are also super honored and humbled to be founding members of Pipeline, a brand new, freaking incredible project that charity:water just launched. We’ve also recently become a Freedom Partner with International Justice Mission which is an outstanding organization that not only rescues the abused, but works to prevent violence, slave trade and sex trafficking from happening in the first place. We really can change this world you guys. All we have to do is DO. Do whatever we can, whenever we can, however we can. Love wins.

photo (7)It’s not an easy road, trying to make a difference, trying to do what’s right. Shawn always says when there’s advancement, there’s backlash. He’s right. The enemy lives to destroy. He wants our resolve weakened. He wants our love turned to hate. Or worse, apathy. You guys know I have issues with my dad. He’s not a bad man, he’s just hurting and insecure, and poor decisions have come from those things. We’ve all been there. Recently, I received a rather harsh text message from my dad. I’ll spare you the details, but one thing he did say to me was that I have a poisonous spirit that he cannot allow to influence his minor children (that would be my youngest brother and sister). Now, my dad and I have both said things to each other over the years that did more harm than good. I’ve learned to ignore most of his remarks. But that stung a little. A poisonous spirit? I’m a poisonous influence on my brother and sister? (that’s hard for a big sister) All I want my life to be is Jesus. All I want is for love to win. All I want is to do good. Being called poisonous isn’t what you want to hear.

So this morning, after being up literally ALL NIGHT LONG, I made a Starbuck’s run for myself and the hubs before he had to go off to work. As I paid for my order, I asked the barista if I could pay for the guy behind me. Because I could. Her eyes lit up, she said “Absolutely! His name is Mike. He’s a regular. This will make his day.” I heard another order come through the speaker from the car behind Mike. “Can I pay for them too?”, I asked. Because I could. Her eyes lit up again. “Oh my gosh, of course. You guys! She’s paying for the people behind Mike too!”, she announced to her fellow co workers. One of them popped his head out the window and said “Bless your soul.”

I  broke. Tears for days. I sobbed the whole way home. Jesus sat in the passenger’s seat of my car this morning. He said to me “You’re doing right. You’re doing good.”

Love effing wins.

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2 thoughts on “Love Wins.

  1. bgbenefield says:

    I just got to the bottom of this post and freaked out a little because I thought I couldn’t leave a comment (I obviously found it at the top).
    There is so much I love about this…that we didn’t know each other but were going through the same “I just moved to Bend and ouch I’m growing and learning and its hard and wonderful”. That you have a heart for global justice and local love. GAH, I’M SO HAPPY WE’RE FRIENDS.

    And that love does effing win.

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