Thursday, December 13, 2012

our boys.

One of the many unexpected blessings that moving to Virginia and Harris
returning to school has brought into our life is
the friendships we have made in his classmates... namely, "our boys", Jeff, Justin, and Ethan.
 
Harris has been getting to know these three (among many other wonderful guys) during his
full-time Aviation Maintenance classes. They are together all day every day.
I had heard stories of these boys before I ever met them.
 
Late on Halloween night, well past the last child's doorbell ring, well past the last bit of our candy supply, we receive another ring at the door...
 
"Harris, you go get it, I don't want to tell the kids we don't have anymore candy."
 
Harris answers the door only to find these guys standing there with big grins ready for
a visit with the Yorks. I had such a great time talking and getting to know them!
Ethan, the very passion-filled, outgoing one of the crew,
decides that they're coming back sometime soon for dinner.
 
We couldn't be happier to have them.
 
We have since enjoyed many wonderful (often entertaining) visits with these guys
and the other guys in the program - what a great group for Harris to be alongside in this season!
 
We received the best Christmas gift the other day:
The boys came by the house with a card addressed, to "Mom and Dad", and a picture frame...
 
 

 
...of our boys with Santa.
 
We're very proud.
 
 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

my silly mental scoreboard.

Sometimes I catch myself keeping a mental tally of the chores, errands, or kind things I've done around the house or for Harris on any given day. It's not like I keep a mental record for weeks on end, I just find myself watching how many chores I do or how many sweet gestures I do for him that day.

So I'm not THAT bad, right?  (sarcasm)

When I'm extra holy, I don't really expect him to do anything in return. When I'm extra selfish (or maybe extra human), I instantly notice that he is not as eager to jump up and serve me in return or help me exactly how I hope that he would in that moment. Gross. What is that attitude?!

Shamefully, I allow this unspoken balance to creep into my feelings and mood. I become quiet and somewhat disappointed that he does not have the same level of energy, drive to clean, or peppy, encouraging attitude as I do that day. I'm just being honest. As much as I wish I weren't that way, I am, and I'm working on it.

Some days Harris has more energy and finds different ways to help me out around the house or with errands. Some days I have that 'cleaning drive' that just inspires me to get things organized and squeaky clean around the house. Some days Harris has a full tank and encourages me in many many ways. Some days I have more of a spiritual drive and can help us focus our attention on the Lord.

I have to remind myself, mentally at this point (and hopefully it will happen instinctively in the future), that we aren't going to serve each other exactly at the same rate or in the same ways each day. It's sad that I would even think it should or would happen that way to begin with!
I think it comes down to my genuine belief that Harris loves me with his whole heart and that he has the best intentions to serve me and care for me. My human nature that is ugly, self-serving, and determined to have it my way, often gets in the way. I'm just in the process of training it to not keep those mental checklists, to serve wholeheartedly, and also to believe the very best in the best man I know.

All of you older and wiser married men and women probably have this figured out and are laughing at my youthful, newly-married ways, but this is where I am a year in. I know the Lord has a long road of lessons to teach me through marriage and I am so excited and grateful to be sitting at His feet learning.

Forgive me, Lord (and Harris) when I fail.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

advent.

This year, I'm really excited about "prepping" for Christmas - let's be honest, I'm always excited - there's just a heightened pep in my step this year.

I have given extra attention to decorating our home.
I have planned different fun holiday activities/dates/outings for each day of December for Harris and myself to enjoy together.
I have planned yummy recipes to make throughout the month.
I have also prepared different scripture plans to help us focus our attention on Jesus.

There is an intangible thickness of joy in the air around Christmas. I can feel it. I really don't know how to describe it, but it is a mixture of anticipation, excitement, peace, and general warmth. All aspects of Christmas make my eyes glow and my heart happy. While there is a major "holiday bustle", I sense that ultimately people slow down (after all of their hectic shopping to-do lists are complete) enough to notice others around them and to extend loving kindness, even if it is just "because of the season". I sense a connectedness that this season of love and sharing brings to everyone. I love it!

With all of the attention and care I have put into this season and all of the effort I have put in to getting excited about scripture and focusing on the Lord, I cannot help but think about my attitude the rest of the year. Am I always this excited to sit around the table and go over scripture and focus on Jesus? No. Am I always preparing interesting devotionals for my family that we can study and bring Glory to the Lord year-round? No. I know that schedules and seasons bring with them the ebbs and flows of life, but I want one thing to remain, and that is my love and excitement for building relationship with my Savior.

Advent is a time of joyful, expectant anticipation. I want to live my life towards others in love and with that same general sense of joyful, expectant anticipation:

Anticipating the best in others.
Anticipating grace when I fail.
Anticipating that the Lord will provide what I need for the day.
Anticipating the next kind thing I can do for others.


"If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, 
that where I am, there you may be also."
John 14:3

This verse gives me have so much hope and anticipation. I hope that I can maintain these same feelings throughout the year as I focus on who the Lord is and all that he has promised.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

hot yoga.

I got the unique opportunity to participate in a new type of Yoga yesterday evening: Hot Yoga.

I was invited my one of my new friends, Olivia, to attend a yoga class where a series of 26 poses are performed in a relatively small room that is heated to 104 degrees with 40% humidity.
I figured that this would be just like the other relaxing Yoga classes I've taken, just with a warmer room and I would sweat a bit more.. sounded like a neat concept, "I'm in!"

Let. Me. Tell. You... 

I think that might have been one of the best workouts I have ever done. It was also probably one of the hardest. I was dripping sweat after only about 5 minutes (of a 90 minute class). I thought I had plenty of water that day. (two 24oz water bottles is pretty good, right?) No. I had to sit down for probably 1/3 of the class because of how intense the workout was combined with the heat.



For some background, I am an extremely determined "workout student". The reason I enjoy taking classes so much is because I hate to disappoint or fall behind, so I'm extremely motivated to give the class everything I have and do exactly as the instructor says. It usually ends up giving me the best workout results. This time, I had to know when to stop pushing myself.

While I was lying in my child's pose (looks exactly like it sounds, fetal position on the floor just doesn't sound as cool), everybody else continued on in the standing cardio poses and I had a few minutes to think through my present situation. It was so hard for me to accept this 'defeat' and to submit to my body's cry for a break, I really wanted to keep going. Initially I felt weak for stopping but honestly, had I not taken that break, I would've been passed out on the floor which would have definitely been more embarassing!


As weird as this may seem, I learned more than one lesson yesterday:

1. The Lord sometimes walks us through difficult situations.
He calls us in certain seasons to push ourselves, work hard, test our limits, stretch emotionally and spiritually, but on the other side of it all, we walk away new. God brings us through the refining process to teach us, to rid us of personality/character impurities, and bring us to a place of enjoying life to the full - but the refining process can be very difficult!

2. We have to know when to sit out.
The pace and pressures of this culture often tap into our feelings for the need to constantly and consistently achieve, move, develop, grow, or obtain. Without knowing it, we can easily fall into the cycle and find ourselves lost in the commotion - despite our best intentions. Sometimes we have to know when we've reached our limit and we need to be okay with taking a break. We say "yes" to many good things, we get involved, we push and rush, and sometimes we just have to know when OUR limit has been reached - and be okay with it.

Comparison is the theif of joy..
live at your own pace,
live where the Lord has called you,
and live to know your Maker.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

praying for Obama.


My husband came home from work last night and we sat down together to enjoy our (often repeated) spaghetti dinner. We held hands to pray, but this time, his prayer was different. He prayed for Obama.

Harris and I had not had time to talk about the outcome of the election at all yesterday morning because he had to leave extra early. Honestly, when he came in from work yesterday evening we did not mention a word about the election. The first mention of the results between us was done when we talked to the Lord.

It was a genuine prayer. It was as though he was praying for a friend or someone he cares for. I looked up after "Amen", and he began to explain how he is choosing to live 'post-election'. He then stated that as a family, his goal is that we would pray for Obama. We will pray for wisdom for him. We will not pray with a condescending tone, but with a genuine concern for the weight of his responsibility. We have heard so many believers saying that they would pray for Obama, but it has been with the undertone of hatred, defeat, and sarcasm. So our goal as a family, small as we may be, is that we will lift Obama and his family up to the Lord.

Lord, 
We want to remember firstly that you are Lord and King over this world. We also want to remember that you have the ultimate victory in this whole story. 
You are God of the past, present, and future. You knew this would be the outcome of the election, and we know You are good. Please guide Barack in his responsibility of leading our country. 
Please give him wisdom to handle all situations that come his way. 
May we have the love, patience, kindness, and faithfulness to spread Your light to others. Let it start here at home. 
May the Obama family be lifted up to You. We ask that you guide them, speak to them, touch each of their lives personally as you have ours.
We love you Lord. Guide us as we seek to show You to others through our actions, words, and thoughts through this, and any other time in our lives. 
Thank you that we live in a country that allows us freedom here on Earth. More importantly, thank you for sacrificing Your Son so that we may have ultimate freedom. Amen.
 



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

long distance.

Moving away from home is often times difficult because you do not get the opportunity to do with old friends what I love best: sit with each other, spend quality time with each other, and speak to each other face-to-face about life and love. Technology, however, has made this transition in some sense even better! Not only do I get to make a home here in Virginia with my wonderful husband, but I also have had the unique opportunity to connect even deeper with a "new" best friend who actually remains in Rome.


My friend and I did not get much time to sit with each other before the move, but since the move have had countless conversations over email about life, laughter, transition, hardship, and any number of other topics. She has been my counselor, my confidant, my friend, and my mentor. Her words come alive through the screen and her compassionate "listening ear" (reading eye?), has been a gift that came in an completely unexpected time and way. She and I are kindred spirits and the time we have to read each other's thoughts has been a wonderful way of connecting. Our relationship, much thanks to technology and the Lord's perfect timing, has developed into a genuine long-distance blessing in my life.

The Lord will surprise you in the ways that he so delicately tailors His gifts. In order to take notice of anything delicate, intimate, and superbly romantic, we must be highly in-tune with an expectant attitude and know our Father's ways. I only say that because I have missed many a gift/blessing in my own life only to have a dear friend point it out to me.
How is the Lord showering you with love today? It may be a specific type of weather you love, a smile from someone unexpected, extra grace in a moment you know you messed up, or a great hair day.. today I am thankful for the incredible friendship that the Lord has allowed to grow and develop over email. He cares so much!



Monday, November 5, 2012

our first year.





This day last year, I married the best man I know. This past year has been the best of my life. I am so grateful that the Lord brought us together! Harris leads me to the Cross on a daily basis, and I am so blessed with an amazing husband.
I made a video compilation of our first year of marriage: most of this is inside jokes, experiences, and fun times we have shared together in this first year.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

promises.


THIS was what I saw out of my office window this morning at work. I couldn't capture it fully on my phone's camera, but from the window you could see the entire arch of the rainbow. It was beautifully stretched across the sky with the brightest colors at each end.

What a beautiful reminder of God's promises.. Genesis 9:8-16:

Then God spoke to Noah and his sons: “I’m setting up my covenant with you including your children who will come after you, along with everything alive around you—birds, farm animals, wild animals—that came out of the ship with you. I’m setting up my covenant with you that never again will everything living be destroyed by floodwaters; no, never again will a flood destroy the Earth.” God continued, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living around you and everyone living after you. I’m putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living, that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. When the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll see it and remember the eternal covenant between God and everything living, every last living creature on Earth.”
This beautiful rainbow showed up in the perfect time with Hurricane Sandy just finishing up here in the Northeast. We get so scared about these natural disasters, as is understandable. We worry about our families, our homes, and our safety. God promised many years ago that never again will floodwaters destroy all life. The rain may pour, the waters may rise, but they will never destroy all of the earth, and THAT is a promise.

In our lives, the rains may pour, the waters may rise, but God has conquered the world. He has defeated death. He has made us promises that we know are true and will stand the test of time. We can trust in Him and know that our trials will never destroy us. We have victory in Christ already and we can know that promise and remember that it is forever.

The rainbow is a gift to us as a reminder of that promise and all the others He has made.

Monday, October 29, 2012

already all i need.

In the quiet, in the stillness
I know that You are God
In the secret of Your presence
I know there I am restored

When You call I won’t refuse
Each new day again I’ll choose

There is no one else for me
None but Jesus
Crucified to set me free
Now I live to bring Him praise

In the chaos, in confusion
I know You’re Sovereign still
In the moment of my weakness
You give me grace to do Your will

When You call I won’t delay
This my song through all my days

All my delight is in You Lord
All of my hope, all of my strength
All my delight is in You Lord Forevermore 

-Christy Nockels

Thursday, October 25, 2012

pushing you to Glory.

I just heard from the Lord and it was such a sweet, humbling, and moving moment that I had to get up from my desk, walk gracefully to the restroom, and then ungracefully sob for a moment.

"He is pushing you to Glory, Taylor."

I was reflecting on this journey that Harris and I are on that is ambiguous at best. There is some general goal of 'mission field' in the future, however, the steps it takes to get there, the timeframe it all happens in, and (especially) the details of the endeavor are all but clear. I tend to have a bratty, entitled, and resistant attitude in the whole process of becoming a missionary - attitudes I'm not proud of but cannot seem to surrender.

Harris graciously walks beside me, sweetly encourages me, and patiently listens to me as I process this journey we're on. I'll admit, there are times that I think, "This is his dream and something that I am deeply afraid of. This adventure scares me. I am not made for this." [Let me disclose the fact that we're not even doing anything yet, so that's just my overactive fears and apprehensions kicking in.] I do know, however, that there is much more to the story...

I have always prayed that the Lord would use me. I want my life to be completely used and I want to contibute to His mission in any way He sees fit. In my own mind, being a missionary was never an option for fulfilling that prayer due to fear and apprehension of my own abilities. The Lord knew that fear all too well and knew that it would criple me from truly living out what I had prayed so long and hard for - so He introduced me to Harris. Harris, if you know him, has few (if any) fears. He lives with abandon in full trust of his Savior. It is beautiful and inspiring, and one of the many reasons I adore him.

God knew that Harris has great passion and little fear. God knew that Harris would push me (I say that very cautiously because I by no means feel pushed, it is simply a beautiful dance of husband and wife seeking after our Lord together and wife allowing husband to be the lead - Harris leads me by challenging me to enjoy "life to the full" that Jesus offers us). I never and will never do it perfectly. Gosh, I look at the daily conversations we have and I'm nowhere close. I do, however, believe in the power that Christ has in me to guide me and teach me to follow Harris. I can willingly and, more importantly, joyfully, follow my husband because I know he intercedes on my behalf and has my best interest in his mind and in his prayers.

I do not know why the Lord chose this moment to speak to me (especially because it was in the middle of a work day), but that was what I heard, "He is pushing you to Glory, Taylor." When I stop to think about the fact that my God-fearing husband is encouraging me towards one of my biggest prayers and nudging me closer to the cross, I cannot help but sit back in complete awe of how the Lord works in and through Harris's willing heart. I cannot help but be grateful that where I fall short, the one whom my soul loves excels and carries me alongside.


Monday, October 15, 2012

comfort.

I have had a rough day. I promise there are many wonderful ones, but the rough ones usually teach me lessons, so that's when I share most of the time. I can't pin point one particular 'thing' that has made me down today, but there are multiple little things that add together to create what I'm feeling. It's a general feeling of hopelessness, but nowhere close to hopelessness - ha, now I sound crazy. If you understand what I mean, please continue to read. If not, stop now.

I decided that since it's a pretty day outside, the weather is wonderful, and I am in need of some endorphins, I would go on a post-work walk around my neighborhood. Well (as if it were some tragedy), I get dressed, grab my ipod and house key, and step out the door only to find that my ipod is dead. No battery. Boo! All I wanted to do was go on a walk, clear my head, and get the blood flowing to the happy side of my brain. I reluctantly resort to option B: grabbed the iphone and turned on Pandora.

I set out on my walk and instantly, the wind blew strong, the warm sun kissed my face, and the music on my Pandora station perfectly serenaded the dancing leaves I saw on my walk on this beautiful Fall afternoon. Peace. If that type of thing does not speak to your heart, then this whole post may not make sense. I was energized, completely at peace, and smiling in restful joy.

I walk in my door, sit down to untie my shoes, look up, and there's the poster we have up in our kitchen of Psalm 23:
"The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever." - Psalm 23:1-6
Let me now stop the story to say... the Lord is so good!  Who can comfort you better than the one who made you? That's where I'm going with this.. God is in the details. I may be wrong or crazy, but I know that the Lord was in the details of my ipod not working (thus directing me towards Pandora which had the perfect music) and in the details of me sitting down to untie my shoes in the exact spot to lead me to the poster (that has been up there since we moved but I never read). I shed tears of gratitude.

I don't know if the Lord has romanced you in that personal (so personal it seems weird and possibly like you're reading too much into it) way, but He totally can and does. We just have to be tuned in, listening and watching. Those moments are treasures to me and bring me closer to the heart of my Maker. So, at the risk of sounding weird, I wanted to share just one intimate moment to encourage you to tune in to find moments when He romances you.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

don't get comfortable.

One thing that has become very clear to me lately is that I have an extremely limited view of and poor definition of love.

There is an unspoken, 'average' level of love and acceptance that I think is somewhat the standard in our culture. We are expected to generally believe the best in others and treat each other with respect and care. As soon as someone (be it a friend, family member, coworker, or whomever) does something to hurt you or truly disappoint you, nobody blames you if you distance yourself. Heck, we might even encourage you to do so because it will likely make your life easier not to deal with someone like that.

The Lord has placed many wonderful examples in my life for me to observe. I believe He intentionally placed many examples of 'above-and-beyond lovers' for the reason that love is the concept I struggle with the most.

I had the thought yesterday, "What if I did the unexpected thing and loved someone even more despite the fact that they have hurt me or disappointed me?" Well, of course I should! It is the most simple yet complex theme throughout the Bible, in my opinion. There are SO many examples of love, especially of love shown in times when it would not be the easy choice of action. 

God has called us over and over in the Bible to go above and beyond the standard in loving others:
We are not only not to murder, but we are also not to be angry with one another.
We are not only not to hit back, but we are also to turn the other cheek to the one who strikes us.
We are not only not to steal, but we are also not to envy what others have.
It's just a higher standard.

We will, of course, never be able to live up to that standard perfectly. I constantly have to remind myself, however, that I don't need to settle in a comfortable love for others. It is comfortable to distance myself when I have been hurt, to suspend a friendship when the other person continues to live in lies and inauthenticity, and to scuff off at a frustrating and strained relationship. It might be comfortable, but it is not the full life I've been offered through Christ.

His rules, as radical as they may seem in the moment, were designed for me to have life to the full. I'm only settling when I choose to love half-heartedly. I hope that I remember that in the moments when it gets hard.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

not made for here.

I got a hard phone call yesterday morning. My dad called to tell me that my grandmother had passed away.

When you're in "the real world" (I was at work), and you receive news of the death of a loved one, you really just expect or maybe hope that everything and everyone else around you will somewhat just "fit" the mood that you're suddenly in. I took a moment to go to my car and cry and talk to Harris. When I came back, all I wanted was for everyone to speak calmly and to not be peppy or even cordial: "Good morning, how are you?" "Good, how are you?" "Good!" Nope. Not today. I don't want to answer that overused, yet doesn't really mean more than, "I'm acknowledging you respectfully"question today. I simply want to be left alone and to finish out my day.

It's hard when you're faced with loss. There are so many factors that play into the loss of a loved one. Nobody ever knows what to say to you. Nobody can relate to you because every relationship is different, so the loss of someone is extremely personal, just as personal as the relationship was. Nobody can ever know exactly what you lost. They get that it's "hard", but that's about it.

So I don't blame anyone for going about their day like any other routine day. Again, that's just one of the dynamics that nobody can understand. The world would be a sad place if everyone was sad when you are sad, if everyone went through life tiptoeing around the person who is suffering. Maybe that's a gift we've been given, that others distract us by going on with their mundane activities and being in a good mood.

I remembered the quote from a book I read, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis:
"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world."
One of my (and I know many other people's) greatest desires would be that nobody that I love would suffer or ever have to be separated from one another forever. That is clearly what C.S. Lewis was writing about. I was made for Heaven. I was made for a place where I can never be separated from the souls of those I love or ever experience sadness or weeping. I don't even know the right words to comfort myself, let alone anyone else going through loss, but I do know that the peace that comes from knowing my final destination that includes my Savior and the others I love, is more than good enough for now.

When the Lord asks me to come home, I'll see you there, Grandma.

Friday, September 28, 2012

patience is a...

Welcome to Lynchburg: people drive the speed limit.


One thing that I constantly "struggle with" is having patience (I put that in quotes because more often than not, I simply live in my impatience rather than struggle to do something about it). Typical scenario: driving home in traffic. I leave at the same time everybody else does. I hate waiting. I hate sitting there while people (who obviously don't have the same urgencies I do..) delay at green lights, are too cautious to merge, drive 10 under because that's just the culture of driving up here, and commit other such annoying postponements.

Sometimes I feel justified because I am mostly impatient with things that take up my time for relationship. I usually get impatient with people or things that take me away from MY people or things. I feel like my impatience is warranted because I am "only trying to get back home to my husband" or "only trying to get my errands out of the way to be able to chat with my girlfriend"! Well, as it of course turns out, there's something somewhere in the Bible that talks about love being patient.

Not only is there something somewhere out there that states that love is patient.. but that's the FIRST word that is used to describe love in that particular definition! You've heard it before: 1 Corinthians 13:4
 "Love is patient and kind; it does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant..."
Well, I have felt bad lately about how impatient I have been, mostly because my impatience has caused me to look like a mean girl. That's what impatience is... meanness. I deceive myself by saying that I'm not mean, I just have really important things to get to and don't have time to waste! I think that John Piper says it better than I do (HAH.. of course he does):

Impatience is a fruit of selfishness. And selfish is simply an ugly, accurate description of my fallen, depraved nature, which wants all of creation to serve me. Love is patient because patience is a dying to selfishness. It is the belief that in this dying we will find greater joy in the joy of the ones we are seeking to love: God and neighbors. 
Yikes. I should work on that. I can "talk away" my sins justifying them all day long, but the reality is that I'm being selfish and not loving others like Christ called me to do. I'll never be able to do that perfectly, but the Bible leads me in the right direction by listing the first step: be patient.


[and no, I searched, but there is no clause that says, "be patient except for when people are slow drivers.. then cut them off" - sorry]

Monday, September 24, 2012

mondays.

We all know what the stereotypical 'monday' entails.. if you don't I'll give you a picture of the one I experienced this morning and see if it rings a bell:

Wake up late.
Feel like a complete slug.
Moving slowly.
Can't find anything to wear.
Iron the thing you find to wear.
Put it on and spill liquid make up on it.
[Now really can't find anything to wear.]
Stepping over the mess you've created.
Bad hair day.
Eyes are puffy.
Knock over entire jewelry holder while trying to pick out jewelry.
Running late and realize that means no parking spot for you.

It goes on but you get the picture.. happy Monday.

Well, it was the definition of a stereotypical "Monday" for me this morning. One thing that was very different was my sweet husband (an amazing gift of grace in my life) who grabbed me in the midst of my huffing through the morning, gave me a long hug (that most definitely delayed the process of me getting ready) but who then began to pray over me. What a reminder of where my mind/priorities should be!
"Lord, thank you for another day and help us to get through it remembering the gift that it is!"

The circumstances of my morning did not change, but my attitude did. There's nothing more humbling than to have, in the midst of your whining and complaining about your morning, someone who comes alongside you to pray a prayer of thankfulness for what you have.. the day.

It'd be so great if I could tell you that I stopped myself and prayed that my attitude would change, but there was no such obedience on my part. Thankful for a prayerful and encouraging husband. We can all be that to someone who is going through something stressful, difficult, or frustrating. Stop with them in the midst of it all and pray. I promise you it's hard to keep on complaining and whining when you've been walked straight to the throne. 

 Happy Monday!

Friday, September 21, 2012

one day.

This video needs no explanation. If you have a spare 10 minutes to sit and 'be still', please watch and enjoy. Merrill's love for Christ and for his recently-passed wife are absolutely inspiring:

Sunday, September 16, 2012

baby steps.


I don’t know why but, for whatever reason, spiders and critters have become somewhat of a “vehicle” for the lessons that the Lord has been teaching me lately. Our back porch is small but it is a great place to sit together and enjoy a cup of coffee and the beautiful transitional weather we have been having. Lately, however, this transitional weather has apparently summoned all different kinds of nasty spiders: long legs, short legs, green, black, fuzzy, small, HUGE .. the list goes on. I am terrified of spiders.

[Side Note and MAJOR Props for Tay: I killed one the other day. I think I had “had it” at that point of the evening..big girl!]

Anyways, this recent development has unfortunately given me slightly more of a reason to enjoy time indoors instead of on my porch, or at least be MUCH more cautious when I go to sit on one of our porch chairs. I check, double check, and then re-check once I have been sitting for a few minutes. All of that said, now you get a glimpse of my fear.

Lately I have been reading the blog of a missionary pilot’s wife, Joy. It has been so encouraging to me in this journey of thinking through what that life might look like. Her words are very humble and very real and very funny. You can check it out at: gracefullmama.com.
Today when I was exploring her page, I came across this picture…


HAH! I know you know what went through my mind.. “no, no, no, no, no…” Quite frankly, that is possibly my worst of all worst nightmares right there. I emailed Harris instantly and told him that we had better have at least 2-3 brave children before we go on the mission field. Boys or girls (maybe the girls won’t inherit their mama’s fear!) who are not afraid to kill spiders and bugs so that they can kill them while he’s away working. [Among other noble reasons to have children, of course!]

This afternoon I sat outside on the porch and did my usual check for spiders as I thought about the blog I read today. The fears came back, “Oh Lord, how in the world, if I’m so fearful of these pitiful-in-comparison spiders, am I ever going to live in another country where the spiders are as big as my FACE!?” I looked around and hanging from the back of my chair was the world’s smallest, almost invisible, baby spider. The Lord spoke truth in that moment, “Baby steps, Taylor. I will prepare you one step at a time: for the big spiders as well as for the mission field. You won’t have more than you can handle.” This instantly calmed me. It reminded me of the verse in Corinthians:

“No test of temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.” – 1 Corinthians 10:13 (The Message)

Why the Lord uses spiders to teach me lessons, I don’t know, but I’m so thankful he speaks into my fears. He has the courage I need, I just have to come to Him for it every [baby] step of the way. 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

busy world.



Each week at Liberty, students and staff are required to attend Convocation to hear from different speakers from campus or from anywhere in the world. This week I listened to a sermon by someone who works in the same office as I do, but whose message really lit a fire under me! I wanted to share:

To watch him speak (definitely worth your time), just click the link below and click on the sermon titled:


The basic message of the sermon is just what the title says, remaining spiritually strong amidst the craziness that we ALL have in our lives. I have included my notes on the sermon below in case you don't have time to watch the whole thing (which is ironic, because that's the whole point of his message, ha!) Enjoy!!

Scripture: Mark 9
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 14-16When they came back down the mountain to the other disciples, they saw a huge crowd around them, and the religion scholars cross-examining them. As soon as the people in the crowd saw Jesus, admiring excitement stirred them. They ran and greeted him. He asked, "What's going on? What's all the commotion?"
 17-18A man out of the crowd answered, "Teacher, I brought my mute son, made speechless by a demon, to you. Whenever it seizes him, it throws him to the ground. He foams at the mouth, grinds his teeth, and goes stiff as a board. I told your disciples, hoping they could deliver him, but they couldn't."  19-20Jesus said, "What a generation! No sense of God! How many times do I have to go over these things? How much longer do I have to put up with this? Bring the boy here." They brought him. When the demon saw Jesus, it threw the boy into a seizure, causing him to writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth.  21-22He asked the boy's father, "How long has this been going on?"    "Ever since he was a little boy. Many times it pitches him into fire or the river to do away with him. If you can do anything, do it. Have a heart and help us!"  23Jesus said, "If? There are no 'ifs' among believers. Anything can happen."  24No sooner were the words out of his mouth than the father cried, "Then I believe. Help me with my doubts!"  25-27Seeing that the crowd was forming fast, Jesus gave the vile spirit its marching orders: "Dumb and deaf spirit, I command you—Out of him, and stay out!" Screaming, and with much thrashing about, it left. The boy was pale as a corpse, so people started saying, "He's dead." But Jesus, taking his hand, raised him. The boy stood up.  28After arriving back home, his disciples cornered Jesus and asked, "Why couldn't we throw the demon out?"  29He answered, "There is no way to get rid of this kind of demon except by prayer."
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Basically, Jesus gives the disciples, if you look back to Matthew 10:1, the power to cast out demons if they were continually in prayer and used that prayer to do so. Unforuntately, the disciples had gotten busy doing really wonderful ministry, but they were not praying and engaging with God. They lost the fundamental power they had because they were too busy. [Something we can all relate to].

REALITIES:
1- Power comes only to those who intentionally engage God.
        
2- Past victories do not guarantee spiritual power today.
        - just because you've had a connection with the Lord before, does not guarantee it today
        - it is a choice of your heart to continue to connect TODAY
Everyday we should think, "Where was my spiritual victory today?"

3- Spiritual power is most evidenced when you make your own choice to stand.
        - there is ALWAYS somebody watching you, they just won't tell you they're watching (maybe they will after the fact.. maybe)

4- If you are weak, people will think your God is weak.
        - What happened to the man between when he was CONFIDENT about bringing his son to see Jesus to be healed and when he actually spoke to Jesus??.. He saw weak Christians.

PRACTICAL ADVICE:
1- Use studies, church services, small groups, etc. that you are already involved in to be your personal devotions.
        - we don't need to add yet ANOTHER small group, devotion time, etc. and fill up our schedule; use what you are already involved in and meditate on it and discuss it.

2- Have at least one intentional spiritual discussion every day.

3- Never pray the same way twice. Be authentic.

4- Engage God as you go through your day. At every pause you find yourself idle.
       
5- Do whatever it takes to protect your time with God. Run away from distractions.
        - when you wake up, if the computer/emails are a distraction, do not turn them on until you've spent time with the Lord

6- Do not rely solely on Christian leaders to help you. They can provide encouragement, but just being present and listening to sermons will not suffice for YOUR own personal relationship with the Lord.

7- Celebrate every spiritual victory! (Even, and especially, the little ones)
        - God never "dogged" you for baby steps!

8- Take it one day at a time.. refresh and repent!

9- Find someone who will keep you accountable.

10- Remember: God always loves you, even when you fail.

** You can't become so busy that you just "let it slip" - it's too important.**

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

praying in pain.

My small group this past year read through an incredible book, A Praying Life, by Paul Miller. It is an AMAZING book that will really feel more like a conversation than a book; Paul's honesty and genuine transparency will endear you to him instantly and will help you respond to his plea for trying out constant prayer in your life.

My family (minus my brother and sister-in-law who live on the other side of the country now) came to Lynchburg to visit us this past weekend. It was SUCH sweet time together, not because of anything spectacular we did, just because of the company. We explored, laughed, shared, played, and relaxed in each others' presence. Well, as you might have guessed, they had to leave at some point. I mentioned in a previous post how well I've been doing with the move; not so many cry-fests and heart/homesick moments that I imagined I would have before we left. Well, for whatever reason, I found myself really struggling with this transition when my family was preparing last night to depart early this morning. Tears would not stop - and I fell asleep that way.

We woke up, began getting ready for the day, and we said our goodbyes to the fam. I continued to cry. I found myself embarassed by how much my heart was hurting. It seemed somewhat silly that a grown (or grown-ish) woman could not quit the tears when her mommy, daddy, and sissy left. Then, as I was getting ready for work, I read this verse that I have on my dresser,
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled." -John 14:27 

The book by Paul Miller has so many 'quotable' quotes and reminders for life, but one that really applies to my morning is, “Don’t be embarrassed by how needy your heart is and how much it needs to cry out for grace. Just start praying.”

I'm so glad I had the verse written there because it caused me to stop immediately, (amidst my struggle to press on through the morning, my favorite time of the day, NOT) pray that the Lord would bring me the peace he promised, and also to say a 'side prayer' to make my incessant tears stop. The tears did stop and I made it to work sans red-eyes or puffy-face. God delivered a peace that surpasses understanding. It surpasses understanding because in all reality, I would not have peace about not seeing my family, friends, or community in Rome that I love so much. It surpasses understanding because it came so quickly. It surpasses understanding because it is a deep-rooted peace that I know in my heart but cannot really explain.

Prayer does change things.. even if those things aren't circumstances. Don't be embarassed by a need to pray. Don't be ashamed that you need Christ to help you through transition. He loves when we come to him with sniffles just as much as he loves it when we come to him with smiles. I'd encourage you to read the book by Paul Miller as well as to simply run to Jesus whenever you're feeling whatever you're feeling.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

upward not inward.

One obvious thing that goes hand-in-hand with moving to a new town is meeting a whole bunch of new people. If you've ever done that, you know that some of the typical questions you get off-hand are, "What brings you to _______?" and "Where are you from?" and "What do you guys do?"
In our case, because Harris is back in school, one of the common questions is, "What are you wanting to do with the aviation maintenance degree?".. so begins my story..

Being the people-pleasing, image-conscious, over-analytical person that I tend to be, when we reply that we are hoping to one day be on the mission field, I'm sure you can imagine what fears of mine pop up. [If not, good, because that means you're not as psycho-analytic as I am!]
I start to think, "Do they hear that and think that I would even make an okay missionary? Do they look at my life and wonder how in the heck 'THAT GIRL' is going to live among unsaved people and be able to share the Gospel with them? What qualities does she have? Why her? I think she even just had a bad attitude with her husband about 2 minutes ago.. SHE is going to be a missionary??"

I find myself checking my words, actions, and image (daggum image) and making sure that I "act like a missionary" so that people will believe it and will be for our story. What?! Come ON, Tay, seriously?

Then I took a moment to check myself - something I have to do very often:
When did I start to focus so inwardly? Why do I always make things about me? If I were to truly think more about who Harris and I were hoping to one day serve and love, then it really wouldn't matter what anybody else thinks about my part in it. If my sole purpose in going at all is to share Christ's love with people who have no access to the news at all, then my self-obsessed issues can move completely out of the way and the Holy Spirit will have room to move!

I know this to be true, that when I focus on who has me rather than what He has for me or how I measure up to what plans He has for me, then I'm much better off. I stop ruminating over thoughts of myself and start living joyfully spreading the fullness of life that Christ came to die for.
It's going to take a conscious effort, but my goal is to keep my eyes turned upward and focus on the gift I've been given and sharing that with others. Truth is, I'm not the perfect candidate for anything like this, but Christ is sufficient for my iniquities and if we're called, I'll go.

Friday, August 24, 2012

funny freak-outs.

So I'm most definitely a priss when it comes to scary noises, bugs, and other "yucky" things. Now, to give myself some credit, I also occasionally have moments of strength, courage, and all-around gusto when it comes to dealing with those things, but typically I have a mini freak-out. This week I think I've filled my quota:

1. BIG surprise in the kitchen

My new friend and I walk in the house after our typical evening walk through the neighborhood and come into the kitchen. The lights were off and the door was open because Harris had let our little kitty in for an evening snack. I walk around the kitchen table, flip on the light, and there, a good ways into the middle of our kitchen floor, was a huge, I mean HUGE, hairy, ugly, aggressive spider. [don't judge my description, he was really aggressive as he proceeded to 'chase' us around the table when the lights came on] I refuse to kill this kind of spider. Refuse. If I'm going to FEEL him die under my foot, then I cannot do it. As you've probably guessed by now, that's not because I feel bad for his loss of life...

Harris, being the life-long explorer/researcher/learner that he is, proceeds to get close enough to take a cell phone picture of this thing in order to research what kind of spider it is. Meanwhile, Taylor is FLIPPING out. Worried that mr. spider would find his way to a hiding spot where we would not be able to find him, I'm adding to the chaos by screaming, "KILL IT, KILL IT, NOW!" .. Probably the only reason this event 'sticks out' in my mind is because my friend was over and it highlighted the fact that my reaction was likely over-the-top. Oh well.. spiders are scary.

2. Noises downstairs

Harris and I had JUST rested our heads on the pillow when I heard a 'rustling' downstairs. "Did you hear that??" He had not heard a thing, but I was sure I did. So I listen even more intently. We then both heard the noise downstairs and I had my 'freak out'.. "Ahh! There it is again! Go see what it is! What is it? [how would he know?] Did you hear that? Hurry! What do we do?" Well, the level of my freak out was enough to make Harris overestimate what he heard and by the time I had rolled out of bed and turned around, he had a gun and was walking towards the door. "AHH! What are you doing?! Why do you have a gun?!" [thus, another freak out]

I then proceed to inform him that I'm pretty sure that it's just a bird or a bat rustling around downstairs and that a gun was unnecessary. [Harris is really fulfilling the protector-role.. I love it] Turns out, it was our little kitty friend catching and killing a bug against the back porch door.


Welcome to the life.. sometimes I freak out.
It is comforting to know that Harris will put up with and endure my 'moments'.. even when they are unnecessary and over the top. This is just one small (and funny) way of many ways that Harris shows me Christ's love. It is so nice knowing that someone loves you even if you're ridiculous.

Friday, August 17, 2012

the ugly.

Have you ever caught a glimpse of the untapped potential of your sin? Have you ever seen something, heard something, or been around something that awakens the ugly inside of you?..

I'll be the first to tell you that the Lord has done some great works in me and has molded and shaped me a great deal over the past number of years in my young life. I will also be the first to tell you (mostly because I don't know who else would talk to you about this, haha) that the Lord is not even CLOSE to being done with me. All of that being said, there are certain 'things', be it situations, conversations, etc., that I avoid because I know that they are likely to bring out the ugly that is hiding in my heart. I know that those things can be keys to unlocking old, ugly sin in my life and I don't even want to give them even a chance to be put into my hands.

You see, here's the analogy I think of. Sin is like a scary animal locked in a cage. When I don't have access to the key, it is much easier for me to keep sin locked away. When I'm holding the key, the temptation to let that sin out is so much stronger. It is knocking at the door, begging to be set free, and when I don't even hold the key, I can just look at it and say, "sorry, no can do.. I don't even have a key!" When I do hold the key (get around the things that I know cause me to sin), it's a little harder to resist keeping the harsh judgements, ugly remarks or thoughts locked in the cage.
[I'll admit.. third grade analogies help me in life and the situations I'm in.]


Anyways, as you can tell, I found a situation the other day that just popped up out of nowhere and caused the scary animal in my heart to come out. I'm working (and always will be) on turning straight to Jesus in those moments and asking Him to put the scary animal back in the cage for me when I don't have the strength. 

We cannot always avoid those situations. I don't think God designed it so that we'd be forever protected from things that tempt us to be ugly. I think that He wants us to learn how to follow closely with Him when they do come. Praise the Lord that we can ask Him to help us have eyes to see those situations coming so that we can prep our hearts for the battle ahead of time.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

decisions.

As a couple, when faced with a big "life" decision, Harris and I have to remind ourselves to think like a family...

We recently came to an opportunity of sorts wherein either way we decided to go, we would be following (more than likely) the Lord's will for us. One way provides more financial security and involves patience, the other provides accomplishment and involves trust. Both are solid options. When my husband sought wise counsel, there was an exact 50/50 divide between the opinions of those he spoke with. Both options hold positive and negative factors and are just about equally matched. This made for a difficult decision.

I learn more and more everyday about my role as a wife; a lesson I believe the Lord knows will be life-long. In this case, I did a lot of waiting and praying. I assisted Harris in gathering information about the potential options. I prayed alongside him for the Lord to give him peace about the right choice. I knew, however, that the decision was ultimately Harris' as the leader of our relationship and I knew it would be tough. When we got together at the end of the day, I listened (difficult as it sometimes is to just sit and listen). I could tell that he had been wrestling with the decision. Once I heard him out, I told him the decision I felt a peace about, and we both agreed on what was right for us.

Sometimes I feel as though  I need to have the mindset of Harris and I as a family. When people make decisions, they weigh the options for their family, and that is exactly what we had to do. In my (crazy) mind, I feel like when I identify us as family, we have more weight than if I were to identify us as "Harris and I". Yeah, I don't know why, but that's how I think. We are not a big "family" like you'd think of the term, but we are one and we have to make decision that work for us.

I've come to the realization that whatever mindset you have to have (mine being thinking of us as a family) in order to do what is best for you and yours, is good! Protect what you have, make wise choices for that, and support each other through it. I'm proud of the leader Harris is, and I'm honored to be able to support him as well as to be a part of our little family.

"Blessed is the man
    who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
    nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and on his law he meditates day and night.
 He is like a tree
    planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
    and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers."
                                           - Psalm 1:1-6
 

Friday, August 10, 2012

tonight.

What's your favorite word? Mine is TONIGHT.

No other word has such expectation, excitement, and/or energy wrapped up in it (in my opinion). I don't know why, but a long time ago I decided that this is my favorite word.

"Tomorrow" can hold a long to-do list, a difficult conversation, an early morning, or a number of other undesirable things.. not to be negative. It just seems a relatively long way away from the present moment, even if it's not. For whatever reason, I get excited when I think about "tonight". I'm a night-person, for one. I get an extra burst of energy/creativity/excitement and I love the night hours. I love the way night feels. Tonight is just close enough to get reasonably excited, yet not far enough that you cannot build up expectation, make plans, or prepare for whatever is coming. I'm weird; I just LOVE that word.

We have some sweet friends from Rome visiting us this weekend, and I'm not even really sure what we have planned for TONIGHT, but I cannot wait to get there and make some fun memories with our buddies!!





Thursday, August 9, 2012

grace a lot. expect a lot.

In the short time I've worked in my new place, I have learned one very valuable and life-impacting lesson: we can love others by expecting a lot and giving grace a lot. My boss exemplifies this Jesus-like quality SO well.
Everyone I see come through his office, which is PLENTY of people let me tell you, (thus, praise the Lord, Taylor has a job) leaves impacted. No, the issues are not always life-altering issues. They are mostly little snags in the plans that people make for their lives with regards to school or career. My boss is a problem-solver of sorts; with that authority many people would abuse it and stand high on the platform with chin and nose in the air. Let me take a minute and share with you the humility with which my boss holds his position.

I've noticed a pattern where people walk in the office stressed, frazzled, and hurried. They have an issue that needs immediate attention from someone who can do something about it. They walk out peaceful, smiling, and with a lighter demeanor in general. What happened in there? Did he give them what they wanted? Did he help them figure out their life? Did he offer the best advice? Probably a little bit of all of that happened..

My boss is one who believes the best in everyone who walks in the door. He looks at everyone with value, despite their "status" or what they can do for him. He listens. When they leave, he has done two things:

1. Given a lot of grace.

When someone has done something that causes them to have to even come in the office, it sometimes means that they have missed the mark in some way or another. To have to speak to a "head honcho" about your mistakes or shortcomings is never fun. When that head guy is full of grace and understanding.. it creates an entirely different experience. It's like they have been given a second chance or a do-over.

2. Expected a lot.

He also listens to that person's story and listens to who they are and what their goals are. He makes sure that they know that he expects great things from them.. even the people everybody else has given up on. He looks them in the eyes and says, "well, you'll do better and then we won't have to worry about this." I can tell you now, the person rises up. When you expect great things, you typically get great things out of a person.

"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me."  - 1 Corinthians 15:10
A commentary in my Bible (because I wouldn't have been smart enough to really know this otherwise) said that Paul wrote (in this verse) of working harder than the other apostles but it was not arrogant boasting because he knew that his power came from God and that it really didn't matter who worked hardest.

Now, this might be a stretch, but when someone offers you grace and a "fresh" start, you're going to work hard to please them and to show them that you meant what you said when you said, "I'm sorry", or "I'll do better", or "I didn't mean to do that". I know there are differences, but I believe that my boss is showing the character and heart of Jesus when he is firm in his expectations yet full of life-giving grace in difficult situations. Believing the best in people and then offering those two gifts could just be yet ANOTHER way we could love people the way Christ loves us. I sure am learning a lot.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

only the best.

As I was finishing dinner for myself and Harris last night, I began to set the table. I have these adorable blue patterned napkins (one of our many awesome wedding presents) that I am running low on. I went to grab them and had the thought, "maybe I should save these last few for when we have guests". Then I quickly thought to myself that sometimes Harris should be treated like a special guest!

We all know that special guests should be welcomed in our home, given the best, treated with hospitality, and loved-on in special "I care about you" ways. Sometimes, when I get into the routine of mundane life, I default to treating dinner (or whatever the regular activity is) like nothing special. Forget candles, special napkins, or the sauce boat thingy for Monday night dinner.. "it's JUST us.."

Now, don't hear me wrong, Harris and I certainly have our paper plate, grab it with your hands on-the-go kind of dinners when things are busy. Certainly if it was always special, it wouldn't be special. I just forget sometimes to make a regular, Monday night dinner somewhat distinct with the little touches I'd usually reserve for guests. Our families deserve our best too, even for "no good reason". Using the pretty napkins for a regular ol' dinner might be one way we can serve our families with a little "you're special to me" message.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

the a-word.

Well, I started my brand new job this week and I just finished my first week. How is it? Great! The people I work with are great, the environment I work in is great, and I'm .. Well.. I'm not so great yet. This is a totally new department for me and a completely new area of work. Needless to say, the learning curve for my new job is bigger than any other I have had in my employment past. On the one hand, this is awesome! I'm in a new and challenging position that will push me to work hard and achieve more and I am grateful! On the other hand, I have definitely struggled with the "a-word" this week. The "a-word" is adequacy.

I like to feel needed. I like to feel like I'm making a difference. I like to be someone who rises up to challenges and even excels at anything thrown at her. I'd venture to say we all do.

In my new job I'm just a baby. Day 5 and I'm not indispensable, go figure. Something inside me is programmed to work hard until I am! Well, while I was telling a friend of mine how useless I felt while I'm in the learning/training stages of my job, she stopped me wisely and said, "you might not be capable of doing the job.."

What!!? How dare she interrupt my whine-fest and tell me I'm right! I am a hard worker and I can do this, I am not incapable or inadequate!
She then said, "but seriously, you are capable, but even if you aren't, God is! He gave you this job."

It is true. Even if I have a lot to learn, I know that the one who provided the job in the first place is the one who will equip me to do it well, even if that seems like a long road ahead from now. Our Pastor Bill told Harris once, "God doesn't call the equipped, He equips the ones He calls."

I'm thankful that I know God will give me the tools to do my job well. He has me here for a reason and I will continue to work hard knowing I am adequate and called. Thank you, Lord!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

for the enemy.

I've been reading Romans lately and have been enjoying learning and relearning about Christ's sacrifice and love. Paul's letter has been teaching me new things about who Christ is and who I am.
Some of the verses I read this morning, Romans 5:6-8, describe Christ's love as follows:
"You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
I thought about one time when I experienced a minor minor example of what it might feel like to love someone so much that when they're still hurting you, breaking your heart, taking from you, bashing you, or taking advantage of you, you still feel that all-encompassing love for them and would do anything for them.

(this is somewhat of a long story, but I promise it's worth it)

I used to work at a group home. It is a home for children who are in the custody of the state either temporarily or permanently because of a lack of guardian; that could be because of abuse, neglect, death, or any number of other unfortunate circumstances. I spent the majority of my day with the girls. My job was to plan and implement events and activities for the kids, but mostly I felt like a mama. I spent time talking, guiding, directing, and just spending time with the girls that I had grown to love.

I had an interaction with one particularly difficult girl in the home who was decidedly rebellious and edgy: two things that are the complete opposite of my personality if you know me. I avoid confrontation, she looks for it. I like to please people, she likes to stir the pot. I dress preppy and modest, she goes for the shock-factor. You get the picture. For whatever reason, I felt inclined towards her because I could see heart in this girl. When everyone else (staff and girls included) saw her as a nuisance, I saw her as someone to be pursued. Don't ask me why. It was NOT the easiest or most natural reaction when I met her. I know it was because the Lord wanted to teach me a lesson about His love, for which I am so grateful for.

Long story short, I had one particularly rough day. Essentially my girl was in deep trouble at the home. I went to bat for her and got her some privileges that she should not have had based on her behavior. It was because I believed in her and loved her. She was required to do ONE thing in order for me to allow her these privileges, and I was in charge of making sure she did so. I'm guessing you know what happens next: she did not follow that ONE rule. (surprise!)
I had to do my job and follow through with consequences. She got mad and said and did things that only your worst enemy would say or do. It brought me to tears right there in front of her and I did something that I'd promised myself I'd never do: I yelled at her. (This goes back to the fact that I knew her story and knew that yelling was not the answer when she was in trouble.) But this was different. I was not yelling because I wanted to punish her. I was yelling because, well, for one thing she would not have heard me otherwise. I yelled because I could not contain my heart. I yelled, "Stop doing this, the reason I want you to follow the rules is because I love you!"

She stopped yelling. She stopped cussing. She stopped her tantrum. I saw the one thing that I'm pretty sure nobody else at the home had seen in her, tears. She became completely quiet. She stopped breaking the rule. She wiped her eyes. And that was the end. That was all I needed.

I went home that day in tears myself. I was SO tired, frustrated, and worn down by this ONE child, yet I was not crying for any of those reasons. I was crying because of the overflow of love I had in my heart for this girl. That day (and many others) she was my worst enemy, but I sacrificed so much simply because I love her. She may never know fully how I felt about her. I may never see her or hear from her again. But that day I felt a glimmer, certainly not even so much as a hint, of what Christ feels for His children.
When we were still hurting Him, sinning, He died for us.

My story was impacting in my life and taught me a great lesson about forgiveness and love. I attached this video to bring another larger perspective from a group of people who I feel really get this concept. This example completely trumps mine on the scale of hurt and suffering, so I thought I'd pass it along as well to provide an example of people who are really living out what they believe and learning about Christ's love.