It’s a labor to…

It’s a labor to love the unlovable,
it’s a labor to forgive the unforgivable,
it’s a labor to be patient in an extremely impatient world,
it’s a labor to be kind to mean people,
it’s a labor to be gentle in an extremely harsh world,
it’s a labor to give in a world that’s all about taking,
it’s a labor to wait instead of trying to run ahead of God,
it’s a labor to be joyful when there’s a whole lot of suffering going on around you,
it’s a labor to remain pure in an extremely impure world,
it’s a labor to stay married in our culture,
it’s a labor to raise Godly children in our culture,
it’s a labor to stay loyal in a world where self-interests prevail,
it’s a labor to be humble in a culture that celebrates pride,
it’s a labor to be selfless in an extremely selfish world,
it’s a labor to be peaceful in the midst of a world full of turmoil,
it’s a labor to trust when all you’ve known is betrayal,
it’s a labor to be self-controlled in a self-indulged world,
it’s a labor to be hidden in obscurity and anonymity when everything in our world screams fame, and accolades and being out there, and being on social media,
it’s a labor to not lie, to not cheat, to not steal, to not gossip, to not slander.
It’s not easy; it’s a labor of love.
It’s a labor to maintain our spiritual disciplines in a world that says “just do whatever you want to do,”
it’s a labor to serve others and not be served,
it’s a labor to not get sucked into the lie of acquiring, accumulating and amassing,
it’s a labor to put people before things,
it’s a labor to put people before technology,
it’s a labor to put people before yourselves,
but God says,
“I invite you into the greatest work, the very work for which you were created. You are my workmanship, recreated in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared before you ever got here. It is a privilege and an honor to be a co-laborer with Christ Jesus, himself.”

An extremely inspiring quote from Christine Caine’s message “No One Ever Drowned In Sweat” at Celebration Church of Jacksonville. What an incredible blessing to be a co-laborer with God!

Life Update

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. -Psalm 37:23 NKJV

Good morning friends,

I hope that you are well! I’ve been somewhat of a slacker when it come to blogging lately, and I wanted to give you all an update on how life has been in the past month or so. I’m not generally one to share what’s going on in the midst off it, but I feel that my story may give someone a little hope or encouragement to continue to trust God.

I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree on May 11th. Image God helped me to finish a degree that I spent 5 years working towards. There were trials, bumps in the road and really rough days, but He saw me through it and I’m so thankful for Him. My family and friends celebrated, I received gifts and lots of congratulations! It was wonderful. Graduation day and was by far one of the best days of my life. Through choosing to finish my degree after having to take a short absence from school, God taught me discipline, persistence, perseverance and what it means to finish what you start. I’m blessed to have experienced that chapter of life.

ImageAfter graduation, I moved back home with my mom and sis. What an awesome summer I had! I was able to witness my good friends Mike & Charmaine get married, see my big sis Makeda get married, apply for jobs, go to in-home Bible studies, meet some friends in person for the first time, spend time with my church family, read tons of books, pray for others, serve & think really hard about what God has made me good at. 

After some months of searching and interviewing for jobs that didn’t work out, I began to wonder about where I was supposed to be. During the spring, I asked God to give me a change of scenery. Atlanta was great for school, but I felt that I had already learned the lessons I was supposed to learn there. And moving back to my hometown was not what I thought would be best for me. I had been praying for months that God would order my steps and I knew that He was going to make it clear for me, but I also knew that I would have to make an important decision about what I would do. Near the middle of July, I was given the opportunity to apply for a job at a company located in Pennsylvania. Both sides of my family are from PA, so it was a really great opportunity to be close to my family again. However, I went to school to teach middle school, so I was slightly conflicted about what to do. Stay in Georgia and apply for more jobs, or move to Pennsylvania and interview for the awesome job in front of me? After much prayer and contemplation, God showed me why I should go and how I could impact things if I moved. After that, I packed my bags and moved 4 days later.

I arrived in Philadelphia on Friday, I interviewed on Wednesday morning and I was told that I had the job on Wednesday evening. It was awesome getting that phone call! I was beyond excited and I know that it was all God because my interview process was intense. Since moving here 3 weeks ago, I have seen God do great things. He’s also shown me again and again why I am here at this time. I have been able to connect with and serve my family, learn a lot about myself, make some major decisions & begin preparing my life for the next phase. I started my job this past Monday and I’m enjoying the company, my co-workers and my work. I’m also very excited about the emphasis on integrity at my company. Also, I found a church yesterday that I connected with completely. I am overjoyed! The past 3 weeks have been some of the best weeks I’ve had in years.

So, I’ve been away but it’s because I’ve been consumed with reading Bible stories to my nieces, throwing the football with my nephew, swimming days, family picnics, night time devotion, cooking, learning about my job, finding a church and all the other awesome things people do when they move closer to family. Overall, I’ve been blown away by God’s faithfulness, His love and His timing! None of this could have happened without Him. I love Him! ^_^

ImageAfter going through some really rough time in the past year and having to persevere, I’m blessed to see that God is doing great things for me in this season. I’m grateful. I’m hopeful. I’m excited. I’m blessed. Please keep me in your prayers!

Thanks for reading,

Brittany

You’re off to Great Places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way! – Dr. Seuss

His Passion and Purity part 2

For this post, Brittany and I have decided to split chapters 2-5. She’s taking 2 and 3 and I have 4-5.

MY Affections

In Chapter 4, Elisabeth Elliot really starts to dig in. Like I said in the initial post, Elisabeth has a way of speaking to matters of the heart effectively and aligning scripture properly. The title of this chapter is “Unruly Affections” and I think a quote that encapsulates this chapter most appropriately is: “As I grew into womanhood and began to learn what was in my heart I saw very clearly that, of all difficult things to rule, none were more so than my will and affections. They were unruly in the extreme….”

I think her admission is not only brave, but profound. Humans are naturally prideful people. None of us are born with a taste for humble pie. We are taught that the things we desire and want in life are good and shouldn’t be scrutinized or judged. Elliot’s admission shows that there is something awry in her desires. I agree. I can honestly admit that my desires and dreams are more rampant that ever. Things I want to do, people to meet, goals, love, blah blah blah. It can feel absolutely consuming at times. Buddhists believe that ALL desire is bad, and one must divorce oneself from Desire completely to have peace and achieve Nirvana (“a state beyond sorrows; a state of freedom from cyclic existence”) I can see how that could appealing, but ultimately it feels too easy. I’m sure it is monstrously difficult to live an ascetic lifestyle at first, but humans are very adaptable beings. The whole thing feels cowardly. “Feeling weighed down by desire? Throw it all away and be a sage!” God has made all things good, but sin taints and ruins. God is calling us to pull these unruly affections in rein, not simply because it’s responsible, but because it brings Him glory as well. It will not be easy:

Bringing anything at all into order – a messy room, a wild horse, a recalcitrant child, involves some expenditure. Time and energy at least are required.

One thing that love does it toil for the object of its devotion. How can we say we love God and not toil to bring these things into submission?

His Control

One of the chief aims of this book is showing readers how to submit their love lives to Christ. God is always in the business of redemption: people, cultures, errethang. It’s always cool to pronounce belief in God, but action follows right belief. In the book Blue Like Jazz (an absolute must read by the way) Donald Miller says “but the trouble with deep belief is that it costs something.” People think it might be absurd to think that the God of Eternity and Infinity is concerned about something as trivial as our love lives. Elisabeth remarked much later in the book “Was He interested in the plight of two college kids?” I know so. God made us all with intrinsic value and worth, and any good father is concerned about the affairs of his children, for nothing is trivial. God desires intimacy with us. God not only wants us, He also wants our desires. Since he loves us, and since love isn’t soft and passive, he wants the absolute best for us and purifies us. His love toils. The book mentions how God sifts the hearts of men. My partner Brittany mentions that this is significant. She gives a baking example to explain.

Well, I think it was significant because of the way sifting works with flour. It separates the fine and course particles. When God sifts our hearts, He’s able to see what’s really there. He sifts hearts to see the real intentions and attitudes it holds and to see where He is in it.

He sifted Abraham’s heart through Issac. Jesus sifted the heart of the young ruler through his possessions. The thing(s) we hold most dear can often became the thing through which God sifts our deceptive hearts; for “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” Our abstinence doesn’t make us pure, our unyielding devotion to God does.