This past weekend we celebrated Mother's Day. I'm thankful for my mother and the relationship that we have. But, I know for many, it can be a tough day. I have many friends who are mothers and have invited me into their families. They have each shown me something different in what motherhood is and what it means to love. As Annie F. Downs and Psalm 68:6 reminds us, “God sets the lonely in families.” My friends have exhibited that immensely by letting me be a part of their families. And it’s something I hold dear and hope to never take for granted.
And I have many other friends who hope to one day be mothers, whether single and longing or married and longing. With them, I pray the peace and hope of our Savior fills the space that feels empty. The journey is long, a marathon they say. And they say it takes a village to raise kids, I say it also takes a village to just live life. I hope we are all surrounded by friends and families who pull us in close.
And what is one thing that draws us all closer together? Food! It makes us gather around a table, breaks down barriers, is different in every culture, and we all need it! So, this weekend, we celebrated Mother's Day by going on a food tour in downtown Mobile. This tour was so much fun and has something for everyone! There were families, young couples, old couples, and even kids on our tour. My mom loved the food aspect and getting to visit the restaurants. My dad loved the history side, getting to know more about Mobile. I loved it all, let's be real. We visited many restaurants that I hadn't been to yet, I got to spend the afternoon in my city that I love (with my parents - double win), and I got to taste amazing food along the way. A definite win and a great experience. We visited seven spots in the downtown area, each with a different menu and style, on our three hour tour. About 15 to 20 minutes were spent at each location and we were definitely full as it came to an end. Good thing we were walking in between! Chris, our tour guide, also told us that we ate three of the "100 dishes to eat in Alabama before you die"! So while I would love to cross the other 97 off, I'm excited to go back and visit these spots again. Keep reading to see where we went and what we had!
We are several days into May, but it's never too late for a currently post, right? Here's what's been up lately and then a few favorites I'm loving right now.
I’m an emotional person. It’s not hard for me to write that (except for my fingers fumbling over my phone, at my work desk, where I’m writing this). I can easily wear my heart on my sleeve, but of all the emotions, anger is usually the first one people see. All the others I keep bottled up inside. Which makes me feel heavy and constantly searching for a breath.
I always set out with the intention to do a detailed blog post of places I go and things that I do. Yet, that clearly doesn't always happen. After all, I spent nine months in California and I'm pretty sure I haven't shared half of the things or places I saw when out there. It's never too late...right? I saw Anne do a recent photo share from her phone and Kiki often shares her month in photos, so I thought I would take a cue from both of them. Here's a photo dump of some things I've been doing since the beginning on the year.
Lately, it seems that I've only been clicking the button "new post" on this site once every month. It's not that the words aren't there, it's mainly that there are too many. I don't know where to start, or if I do, whether it will ever stop. Literal word vomit.
I saw a post the other day that an author writes all of his books by hand. In a notebook. With a pen. On pages. Full novels. That is so fascinating to me. Someone who enjoys writing and enjoys journals, yet I've never finished a journal. Except for sermon notes, I've never filled an entire notebook with just my words.
I remember when I was younger and we would go on trips, I would have a notebook even then. I wrote a lot of poems then. Some rhymed, some didn't. I don't even remember what they were about, but I remember showing them to mom sitting in the front seat and she would critique them or help me find a word that rhymed. I'd write over and over, flipping page after page.
It's not writer's block that hinders me from writing. I think I'm just afraid of what may come out once the writing begins. Why are we afraid of things that are good for us? Maybe you don't feel that, but some days, most days, I do.
And the only thing that comes from that is joy hindered.
Maybe I need to get back to the pages. Actual, paper pages. I need to grab my favorite pen and just let the words spill out. I don't need to write a novel, I just need to write.
Morning and night. After my prayers and praises, paper and pen.
Three words are always on my mind as I walk through Holy Week.
Palm Sunday, the day we celebrate and remember when Jesus the King had His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, is a moment of celebration, filled with shouting and praise. I think a lot about the people who were there to greet Him as He came into town. I try to put myself there among them, excited for the arrival of the one true King. I think I would push and fight my way through the crowd for a good spot along the road. Clinging tight to my palm branch, as I anxiously await the first views of the young donkey that carries Jesus.
My palm branch, when waved, declares Jesus as King. A symbol of hope, but also a symbol of what I lay down before my King and a symbol of praise. Excited to see Him, I wave it shouting, "Hosanna!" But before He reaches my spot along the road, I lay it down. Along with it, I lay down my sin, my sorrow, my shame, my worry, my doubts. I lay it all down. He will lay down His life. My palm branch now on the ground, with the King only steps away. He rides by, my palm branch crushed by the hooves of the donkey. Just as my sin would be crushed a few days later.
Jesus the King came to restore. He saw a tree with no fruit and a temple of prayer turned into a den of robbers. Worship and prayer and righteousness were replaced with business transactions and money exchanges and no faith at all. A tree with no fruit then cursed and withered. Yet, a hint of faith still to be found there, to trust that God will remove whatever hinders us from coming to Him. Christ the Son found Himself soon going to a tree. Where the work of dying on the cross would fill the chasm that separated. And the veil that once hung to separate, would be torn.
Jesus urged the disciples to stay awake. And that plea to stay awake echoes to us still today. To focus on the reason of His coming. To take part in the proclamation of the gospel. We remember a woman's sacrifice of love, as she anointed Jesus for His impending burial. An action of love, not a waste, but a beautiful thing.
Then, an upper room prepared with a feast. A meal partaken and a covenant established. Followed by a prayer cried out for a cup to be removed, as reality is accepted by Jesus the King.
Darkness grew as light continued to slip away.
Jesus the King was led to Pilate. Silently He stood in front of crowds, as they yelled for Him to be crucified. Delivered to the people, He was beaten, mocked, and placed on a cross. Hanging on a tree with people yelling for Him to save Himself and to come down. But Jesus, the beautiful King, He stayed there. As the sin of the world fell upon Him and as darkness covered the land. His final cry came. And with His death, the veil was torn. The earth shook. Rocks split. Finished. Tetelestai.
Christ a propitiation for our sanctification.
He was put in a tomb where He wouldn't stay. He couldn't be held there. Three days He would rise. Resurrected and fully alive. Death absolutely defeated. And what I would have laid down before Jesus the King when He came into the city on a donkey, is replaced with new life. Joy. Courage. Freedom. Peace. Comfort. Assurance.
Hallelujah to Jesus the King who has come and is coming again!
Photo by Tim Ard
Dear First Responder,
A couple days ago, your world was turned upside down and stopped for a moment. On what was a beautiful day, the night was just the opposite. You lost a fellow officer. A friend. And while I didn't know him personally, or the bond you held with him, I know there is pain. A pain of something unimaginable and yet now, so real.
There is one thing I do know: he was brave.
And so are you. For every day that you wake up, put on your uniform, and head out the door, you also carry courage. Strength in the face of pain or grief. That is you, every single time. And especially today.
Words do not always express what we want to in these moments and a "thank you" seems so small, needless. But I also don't think it is said enough. And now more than ever, in silence that can seem deafening, I want you to hear it. Thank you.
Thank you for your service to our communities, but thank you, especially for your bravery. I don't think you can have one without the other. Thank you for fighting to keep us safe, for protecting, for always being ready, come what may. Thank you for being dedicated. Thank you for putting others first.
Thank you, brave one.
Continue to find and carry courage each day,
A proud citizen
Tuesday night, the Mobile Police Department lost one of it's officers. Officer Justin Billa was killed in the line of duty, while working an investigation. He leaves behind a wife and one year old son. Click here if you would like to donate to The Officer Justin Billa Memorial Fund.
Each year, I set a goal of what books I want to read. And usually, I make it nowhere close to that goal. I say this same thing each year as well: this year will be different. So, whether that happens or not, we will see. Regardless, this year I wanted to read more of the books that are on my shelf. Because, friends, I buy so many books. Yet, I don't make the time to read them. Which is so sad to me, because I love to get lost in a really good book. With the exception of a couple of books I had pre-oredered, most books for my list this year are already on my shelf or Kindle. If not, I'm making a trip to the library! I also wanted to fully take part in the reading challenge by Modern Mrs. Darcy. Each year she hosts a reading challenge with great categories. Lastly, I wanted to challenge myself to read one classic a month. There are still a couple of spots to fill, but here are the books I want to read in 2018.
Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge
What is on your reading list this year?
Affiliate links are present on this post. Meaning if you purchase, I also get a little something.
There is a quote, that I can't for the life of me remember right now. Something about holiness and something about hard places. But those two words have been repeating themselves over and over in my head this past week. Since the start of the year, I've been wanting to find my one word for the year. A word that could encapsulate the year and help me keep my focus throughout the year. I went over word after word, never feeling like it was quite the one.
About a week ago, I finished reading a book that is coming out in March, "Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot" by Mo Isom. I was on Mo's launch team for her first book, and while this one is quite different in content, I felt like I needed to apply to be on her team again. So, I did. And when I learned I was on the team, I thought to myself, "Now you actually have to read this book." I wasn't sure what to expect in between it's pages, but I was intrigued.
If anything, I thought it would be a great resource for later, when or if, I got married. But now, after finishing, my kindle version is highlighted up and down of truth that speaks so much new life into my singleness. That is one thing that I wasn't expecting. But it was something that I've been unknowingly praying for. Another prayer that I had forgotten I was praying. When all the chapters were read, a renewed singleness is what I found.
Honestly, I've been over it. Completely over being single and all that it offers...and doesn't offer. I've struggled through my singleness more times than surrendering it to God. But why? Why would I constantly want to tie myself to bitterness, anger, loneliness, and jealousy? Those things only inflict more of themselves. They lead me nowhere towards light and only deeper into darkness.
The crawl towards light seems to be a never-ending, all out fight most days. There is lots of kicking and screaming, much like a child. And while a lot of that has been directed to God in my anger, I also throw a lot back to myself. Because when you're the only one in the room, it's easy to make yourself the target. And words thrown at myself are easier to fix than holes in the wall. Or so I tell myself.
Words are powerful. They speak life and death. No matter if you are speaking them to others or yourself. And before reading Mo's book, one that I didn't know how much I would relate to or needed, I wasn't expecting to read words that gave me a new hope in my singleness. But that is what came.
And while I highlighted up and down, there are some thoughts that I wrote down from Mo that I have been clinging to in the week since I finished her book. Each day, I pray through one of them. Expectant that God will answer. That my daily surrender of my singleness will pull me closer to light than the darkness. That each day, my focus would not be my singleness, but of what God has for me that day. That each day would drive me closer and closer to His holiness. I've prayed that God would use every second of this time and for Him to encounter me. To equip me with strength. To teach me daily how to walk. And for His love to compel me.
I've realized over my prayer journey, that oftentimes I pray for the wrong things. Always masking my true agenda in words that seem right. Never quite praying in God's will or for the things He would have for me. But, the past week I have watched as He has answered my prayers, in ways that may seem small, but speak in such loud volumes, that I cannot ignore it. When I prayed for Him to encounter me, He met me in a quiet, morning moment of bright stars shining down into my backyard. When I prayed to be equipped with strength, He met me at a hard day at work. He is daily teaching me how to walk, how to give Him moments that matter. And when I asked for His love to compel me? He brought a college friend to my mind as I sat in church this morning and then again as I sat on my bed weeping, as that same friend posted that she had lost her earthly father.
I almost wanted to take back my morning prayer today. As sitting on my unmade bed crying wasn't what I expected when I asked for His love to compel me. But His love compelled me to call out to Him on my friend's behalf. To offer words, then tears when the words wouldn't come. Sometimes, my tears are the only offering I have to give to God.
And while I can't remember whatever that quote is, I'm learning that holiness is found in the hard places. That there in those moments, where the stars shine bright and where I'm left crying on my bed, in those hard moments, He is revealing Himself to me, showing Himself holy. When the prayer has left my lips, I then anticipate His answer. I wait with great expectation.
That word for the year? Expectant.
Expectant of what His answers will be. Expectant of what He will show me. Expectant of what hard times will inevitably come, but expectant that His holiness is always to be found if I ask Him to show it to me.
This year, Lord, with my heart renewed, I wait, expectant of all that You will do.
More Things From Mo
Click here to pre-order Mo Isom's new book, "Sex, Jesus, and the Conversations the Church Forgot", available March 6th!
Click here to order Mo's first book, "Wreck My Life."
Follow Mo on Social Media (for words of wisdom and lots of laughter): @MoIsom
Click here to check out her website.
Affiliate links are present on this post. Meaning if you purchase, I also get a little something.
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