How a pearl and perfume have challenged me

Since 2014 started, I’ve been reading through a new One Year Bible. Every day, it goes chronologically through a passage from the Old Testament, a passage from the New Testament, a passage from Psalms, and one from Proverbs. It has been rocking my world. Seeing the whole narrative of the Bible woven together throughout different books and passages that usually aren’t read in sequence like that has been opening my eyes to the most beautiful, powerful truths of Scripture.

pearl and perfume

So– A pearl. Perfume. Beautiful things, and things I never thought would challenge me in my life today.

In Matthew 13, Jesus tells a few parables about the worth of heaven and the kingdom of God. Here’s a few verses to give you context.

“The Kingdom of Heaven is like a treasure that a man discovered hidden in a field. In his excitement, he hid it again and sold everything he owned to get enough money to buy the field. Again, the Kingdom of Heaven is like a merchant on the lookout for choice pearls. When he discovered a pearl of great value, he sold everything he owned and bought it!”

In Matthew 25, another story is told.

While he (Jesus) was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head. The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. “It could have been sold for a high price and the money could have been given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me?”

So it’s been a few months now since graduation, and let me just let you know, I haven’t accumulated any great amount of wealth in that time. I’m really making not a lot of money at all. But my life has become so deeply rich, because I’m spending my days living out my passions and my calling. After graduating and entering the real world, so much of life becomes about who you are and what you have to offer the world and what you’re going to do about it.

In both of these passages, the man and the woman found and had something of incredible worth. In these stories, they gave up everything they had and owned for the sake of the Kingdom and the Lord. The man sold everything he owned to have that pearl of great value. The woman poured out this incredible jar of expensive perfume onto the head of Jesus just to show her adoration and her worship of him as he was preparing to die and be buried.

As a post-grad twentysomething, the only real thing of worth I possessed was my talents and abilities. And after reading these two stories, I’m reminded and challenged to be more like those two people. I want to be ready and willing to sacrifice everything I own and everything I have and everything I am to gain the Kingdom of Heaven like the man did for the pearl of great value and worth.

I want to pour out everything beautiful that I have just to show my love for my Savior. 

That woman knew that the Lord was about to do an incredible thing, and she beautifully and wholly and even literally poured out all she had just to give him her very best. What an act of love and worship and selflessness. She could have sold that perfume for great riches like the disciples said. The man searching in that field had possessions and things that belonged to him that I’m sure he liked having, but he sold them all just to get that pearl.

For both of them, there was something worth giving everything up for. There was the Kingdom of Heaven. There was Jesus.

I want to be more like them. I want to pour out my talents, my passions, my possessions, my time, my energy, my love, all that I have and am for the glory of the Lord and the Kingdom here on earth and in heaven. I want to give everything up for Him in response to how He gave all He was for me first.

Buy Art and Rewrite a Story

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You, yes you, can help save an orphan’s life. And, to make it even cooler (as if there could even be anything cooler than rewriting the story of an orphan), you can get awesome art as well.

How? Here’s how.

We over at Rethink are proud to announce a new initiative called Art For Orphans, which we officially launched TODAY!

We are selling digital and physical art from artists all over the country (who graciously donated their work) with 1 goal in mind—rewrite an orphan’s story. All proceeds (yes, literally all of them) will be going to aid orphans in Zambia through our friend Katy and her organization, Family Legacy.

Our hope is to raise more than $10,000 over the next few months to help orphans a world away. You can help us get there. You can find out more about Family Legacy by watching this video.

I encourage you to consider buying art from our site afo.rethinkcreative.org. One, because it’s awesome artwork, and two, because these orphans are beautiful and incredible, and you can rewrite their story to be one full of hope and life and love, and that’s priceless.

If you don’t want to buy art (that’s okay, not everyone is an art-obsessed person like me), or maybe you do, and you want to do even more than that, here is what we would love.

Help us spread the word.

We are tweeting out all this week about Art For Orphans using #afo.

Join the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest—anywhere you connect with others help us get the word out!

If you are looking for something to say, here are a few ideas:

  • Tweet this or post it to your Facebook or text it to everyone you know: Check out a new initiative from @Rethinkcreate to save orphans by selling art afo.rethinkcreative.org #afo
  • Or maybe you would rather say this: Hey friends! @Rethinkcreate is inviting everyone to make their lives more beautiful AND save orphans. afo.rethinkcreative.org #afo
  • Or even this! Want to change the world today? @Rethinkcreate is giving you the opportunity afo.rethinkcreative.org #afo 
  • One more! Buy art and rewrite an orphans story @Rethinkcreate afo.rethinkcreative.org #afo

I (and all of us at Rethink) are so deeply thankful for your support, and are so excited about this opportunity we have to change the world, one orphan’s story at a time. Please be praying for this initiative and the lives we can reach and for the Kingdom to come in a mighty, beautiful way through this.

There’s good…but then there’s GREAT.

sunsets

#nofilter (but really)

I’m pretty convinced that sunsets are how God tells me he loves me. Every time I see that big ball of light start to sink out of sight and the colors start to splash across the sky, I’m reminded of how my God is a glorious Creator who wants to romance me with what He can do.

I was driving to the mall after work the other night, and I just had a feeling it was going to be one of those evenings where the sky was going to look fantastic. I was honestly getting frustrated that the way I was driving didn’t let me look at the setting sun, but thankfully I arrived and was able to park before it really started to set. Of course, I got out of my car, whipped out my phone, and started taking pictures of the fiery sky. Natural response, right? I mean, it was beautiful, how could I not!

Most of the sky was a rich, inky blue that was beautiful on its own, but then the clouds around the sun lit up with shocking shades of pink and purple, with streaks of yellow and orange weaving around the cottony clouds. I snapped several pictures, but had to run my errands, so I tore myself away and went inside.

I wasn’t really embarrassed at all that people in the parking lot had seen me standing there taking pictures of the sky above the outline of the mall. That sky was gorgeous, and I wanted to soak it all in. The words “the Lord saw what He had made, and it was good” kept echoing in my head. Yeah, Abba, that was good, I thought as I waited in line at the customer service desk.

But then, just a few short minutes later, I came back outside. And that fiery, gorgeous sunset was even better.

All the colors had intensified, the boldness of them all more vivid and shocking then even just a few hundred seconds prior. I know it sounds weird, but I just stood there and laughed. I didn’t even try to take another picture of it. I knew my phone couldn’t capture all that my eyes were taking in. Not even an Instagram filter could make that sky look as remarkable as it did in that moment.

As I drove home after the colors had all faded and the sky turned dark, I kept thinking that we so often settle for good. We have things that are pretty, that make us happy, that are worth capturing and remembering, and we think that’s the end. We snap the pictures and settle and continue onward, not even knowing that right around the corner is something that is more incredible than we realized was possible.

I really thought that sunset was unbelievable. I thought it was incredible. I thought it was good. But I didn’t know that right around the corner in just a few short minutes, it would become immeasurably more beautiful. It would become GREAT.

I settled. I snapped a picture because I thought it was done. How often do I do that in my life? Not literally take pictures because I think things are good (even though I do that too), but how often do I just accept what’s in front of me instead of praying and believing there will be more?

I’ve heard people say before that good is the enemy of great. To an extent, I would agree.

When we settle for less than all that our lives or our circumstances or our relationships could be, we are cheating ourselves out of the fullness and richness of what God intends for us.

My challenge to you (and myself) is this: Believe that there is greatness ahead. Believe that there is more than just good. Hold on, be patient, wait. Pray boldly and pray big, believing that God can do more than just good. Because He can, and He will. He will do immeasurably more. And it’s going to be great.

How have you seen God do great things in your life when you could have settled for just good? How has God wowed you with more than you could have dreamed of? Leave a comment and share your stories!

#TheBachelorWedding and Jesus on TV

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Okay, yes, I’m a little bit obsessed with The Bachelor. Call it a guilty pleasure or whatever, it’s just a good old train wreck of drama and romance that I love to watch.

Last night, past Bachelor Sean and his fiancée Catherine got married with an elaborate and televised wedding ceremony, and yep, I loved it. Not the extravagance of the flowers or her gown or Chris Harrison’s classic host commentary…I loved that they talked about Jesus.

They are celebrities with an insane amount of public attention and scrutiny, and everything they say or do (and even things they never said or did) are broadcast to the entire world. And they talked about Jesus. Boldly. Unashamedly.

Sean and Catherine waited until marriage to have sex and become one, and they talked about it a lot. Boldly. Unashamedly. They didn’t skirt around it or try to hide it or make excuses for it. They made it known that it was part of their faith, that they were excited for their wedding night (as they should be!), and that they had been waiting to live together and truly be together until they were married. Mad props to them.

In the light of all the drama with other celebrities getting into trouble with the law and causing scandals and rebelling in all sorts of ways, it was so refreshing to see two people use their fame to make the name of God known.

Sean’s father officiated their wedding, and it was all about their faith and their love. The name of Jesus was proclaimed, it wasn’t hidden, and it was beautiful. Bold. Unashamed.

ABC didn’t hide their conversations about how they waited to have sex, they didn’t avoid broadcasting the name of Jesus, and they didn’t show any of it negatively. Mad props to them, too. So often, Christianity is shown negatively on television, and last night had none of that. Every Christian girl I know was swooning and probably crying and mostly just loving everything about their wedding. It was just so good, people. Yeah, it was a TV wedding, yes it was the couple from that dramatic reality show, but it was the real deal.

It was a sweet, romantic, beautiful wedding. It was everything a wedding should be about: the couple’s love, the Father’s love, and unity both together and in Him as the new Mr. and Mrs. begin their new life together as a married couple seeking to bring glory to His name. It was just so good.

Sean and Catherine, thank you. For being bold, for being solid, for being real, and for being a light for Christ in the world through your fame. I give you props. You’re using the fame God has given you to glorify Him and be real about it. And that rocks. ps…you’re really cute together and I can’t wait for you to have adorable little babies someday.

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Devote: January’s reflections on my #oneword365

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There are times where words come easily. They flow from my hand to my pen to my paper fluidly and without ceasing. They are beautiful and meaningful. When I read them back to myself, I am often surprised at how they sound and what they say, having been so engrossed in just getting them on paper that I didn’t even fully know what was being written.

There are other times where bits of words swirl around in my head, and nothing coherent comes from them. I start writing, and stop just as quickly. The thoughts don’t make sense, the flow isn’t there, the unity and purpose is murky and messy and meaningless.

There are times when I start to write, and realize all that I’m saying is an echo of someone else’s words. My sentences are new, my ideas aren’t unique, and I’m just spitting out things I’ve consumed from other places.

Lately, my head has been a jumbled up mess. It hasn’t been pretty; it hasn’t been fun. I’ve felt lost in my own thoughts, racing through tangled webs and mazes of too many concepts and not enough cohesion and clarity. My life is busy, yes, and the tasks on my to-do list seem endless, but isn’t that true of us all, all the time? That can’t be an excuse.

I’m someone who writes constantly, a pen always in my hand, a Moleskine always an arm’s length away, ready to be filled with any rambling thought or flowery doodle. And yet lately, I’ve pushed them away. The date of my last journal entry is days and days past, nothing new filling those grid paper pages I usually love to cover with ink.

How do I get out of that maze of messy thoughts and madness? How do I compartmentalize the many roles I play, so I can be fully present for each? How do I truly devote to each task before me, each relationship, each job, each passion? How do I devote my time to where the Spirit is leading me and not neglect duties and responsibilities and rest and my sanity?

Devote. A word I chose to focus on this year because I knew it would be hard. A word I know requires attention and dedication and intentionality. A word I’m struggling with. January isn’t over yet. The month isn’t lost. I want to be better at devotion, I want this year to start strong to set the tone for the months ahead. Devote. Oh, I want to do this better.

Lord, show me what devotion looks like. Open my eyes and my heart and my life to ways to devote all that I am and have to the things you’ve set before me. I want my life to be characterized by wholehearted devotion in 2014. Show me how.