A Fairytale in the Flesh

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It has been a lifelong theme, for me.

A yearning for “good ol’ days”. An attraction to happy endings. A steady heartbeat of longing for things that cannot be found where we are, no matter where we go.

This world is a hauntingly beautiful song that is being played on a slightly off-tune instrument. One side of it is so lovely that it brings me to my knees in praise and amazement and the other side splits my eardrums in two, tempting me to claw at the dirt in a desperation for escape.

Relics from Eden abound. In love stories. In the laughter of children. In nature. In acts of kindness and self-sacrifice.

But the strains of discord ever threaten, and ruinous vines entangle what should have been perfect. Divorce and adultery shatter families. Children become victims. God’s handiwork is decimated and cluttered by our filth.

And isn’t this why we love good books, inspiring movies, and fairytales? Any story, really, that will carry us away from the reality we try so desperately to ignore?

Craving wells up and reverberates through shed tears as we survey all the tales that should have been fact, tales of redemption, of true love, of peace, of hope. In those pages and on those screens, our broken and searching hearts whisper that “yes! This is what life is supposed to be like! Shouldn’t love last forever? Shouldn’t men should choose to do good, even when it is hard? Cannot even the vilest offender be redeemed and spend his life in beauty??”

And, fueled by the ache within, we labor our lives away, attempting to craft fairytales with our own hands and by our own means.

We pursue love, dreaming with stars in our eyes of how that man or woman will fulfill us and make life the song that we’ve been trying to write since we could pick up a pen.

We pursue a life of comfort, with a couple of healthy kids and a cozy house with all the trimmings.

We pursue fame, attempting to fill up the burning of our hearts with more recognition, more ‘likes’, more followers.

The options for soul satiation are so shiny when they are still on the shelf.

And so we choose an available portion with glittering eyes, greedy with hope that this will be the solution that will finally tame our hunger.

We pick up a spoon, we dig in and we feast with passion…

but as we chew on life, the realization soon settles that every single dish we have chosen to fill up our soul was nothing more than a heap of dry ashes masquerading as fulfillment.

We begin to choke on them.

We can’t swallow.

We drown in a rush of bitterness and disappointment that life, once more, has let us miserably down.

Try as we might, there is just no dodging the truth that every single fairytale this world has to offer is a phony, an illusion that, once tasted, loses its luster and dissolves into dust.

Except, that is, for one.

A mother and father traveled far from their home, and in a borrowed stable, a baby boy was born. They bundled Him up like parents do, but contained in the flesh of His humanity beat the very heart of God.

He lived a perfect life, fully God, but in a body that was fully man. He loved. He had friends. He lost friends. He witnessed death, seeing and feeling the sting that haunts the human race. The wretched sting that haunts us today. And, like us, He wept, tasting the salt of human tears that sprang forth from a heart that felt real human pain.

He was Emmanuel, God in the flesh, and everything He touched was made beautiful. Lame were healed, blind were given sight, sinners were redeemed, and His perfect words of truth and wisdom sliced through the veil that had shrouded centuries.

Bur three years into His public ministry, the time arrived for Him to fulfill what He had come to earth to do. The fall of man needed to be paid for, and He, in the greatest act of love the world has ever known, was going to provide the sacrifice.

His body groaned the night before His crucifixion, and His spirit was violently tested as He submitted to the will of the Father. But still He marched, resolutely, surrendering himself to his enemies and to the cross of a criminal. He was nailed up and tortured, and in unspeakable pain and suffering, He willingly took every last trace of mankind’s punishment as His own…

even as mankind spat upon the gift.

And all those things that plague us? The tragedies, the disappointments, the addictions and the brokenness that leave us raw with pain and longing?

He defeated them on our behalf, annihilating each and every one with a passion that made the earth quake in reverence.

And then He was no more. The debt had been paid in full, His spirit was given up, and His dead, limp body was carried away as His mother and His friends mourned in despair that the Light of the World had been snuffed out.

They buried Him in a borrowed tomb and the next three days were filled with unimaginable darkness. Darkness of soul. Darkness of grief. Darkness of doubt. Yet another fairytale had been dangled before human eyes, only to end in utter disappointment and loss.

But just this one time…

a happy ending was coming…

and it was going to change the world.

Their world.

Our world.

The fairytale came true.

In the exact miracle that He and the prophets of old foretold, three days later, Jesus Christ rose from the dead.

Hundreds of witnesses saw Him, talked with Him, touched Him, and a hunkered down and mournful Church rose up, bold and fearless, in belief. They had seen this man die, and now, He was in front of them, the wounds in His hands and side to prove it.

He remained among them for forty days, teaching and ministering, before ascending into heaven where He is preparing a place for all those who believe on His name, even those of us who have yet to see Him with our own eyes.

And in a day that is coming soon, oh glorious day…

He will return to this fallen and disappointing world and He will make all things new for those who put their trust in Him.

Love will become true and eternal, children will be safe, creation will shine in all of its intended glory, and all of those stories that we wish could be REAL, those glimpses of Eden that are so beautiful that they bring us pain…

They will be an every-day, every minute reality, as natural to us as our fears are today. The craving will be satiated. The ache will disappear. The emptiness will be filled up and forgotten.

And all the wrongs will be made right.

Our souls will finally rest.

My heart is irresistibly compelled to believe and to proclaim it, that Jesus Christ is the fairytale we’ve been hunting, the love that will remain, the comfort that is forever, the hope for today, tomorrow and eternity…

but He is no fairytale.

He is real.

I believe.

Do you?

~

All comments are welcome and read, but are only made public by my discretion. To hear more from Mrs. Gore, find me on Facebook or Instagram! Thank you for reading!

The Most Important Article You’ll Ever Read on Child Safety

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Sorry about that title.

This article probably won’t help you much when it comes to child safety.

Because, frankly, for the past seven years, I have learned one important lesson from the internet and the news: children die out there.

There are the obvious fears that we face as parents: cancer, drowning, strangulation, suffocation, choking, car accidents, being ran over, accidental shootings, targeted shootings…

but in case we weren’t scared enough already, there’s also all of the obscure stuff out there that makes the rounds on Facebook and 24-hour news channels like wildfire: secondary drowning, sandhole collapsesbrain-eating amoebas in pond water, etc., etc., etc.

Every possible way in which a child was harmed or has died is cataloged and published and shared and you’re sitting there zoned out in front of your computer reading about it like a slumped-over toad (because isn’t that what we all look like while we’re on the computer?), but on the inside this scream of hysteria is building in your throatal regions because your greatest fear – losing this little piece of you that you love so fiercely – is being described in another harrowing tale, and even worse, in a new horrible way that you never even dreamed of!!!

Seriously?

A sandhole collapse on the beach?

The water and the sharks weren’t scary enough?

Or the pedophiles?

Now we’re dealing with sand, too?!

Please, please, PLEASE don’t get me wrong: I love the idea of being prepared, and I am so grateful to the brave mothers who shared their stories to inform us of potential dangers that might threaten our children.

But you know what I don’t love?

Adding fear to my fear.

Adding worry to my worry.

Adding terrifying tableaux to my suitcase of worst-case scenarios.

I had so many of those already.

And now, I’m not only a wreck as I watch my kids swim, paranoid that I won’t see the nearly undetectable signs of drowning

now I’m watching them for hours afterward to make sure they are not secondarily drowning… 

and my mama-sized panic is compounding and I’m thinking crazy little somethings like this...

You know, Rebekah got some water in her nose and choked for a while. I read that the symptoms of secondary drowning are lethargy and sluggishness. But…my kids just swam for seven hours and now they’re all sacked out like corpses in the living room…what if she is drowning right now??? Should I wake her up? I know I’m being crazy. But…what if I’m wrong and its too late?!..

Sometimes, when I’m not panicking in the midst of all these potential dangers, toils and snares, I can’t help but reminisce about my carefree childhood in Oklahoma where my best friend and I could go meandering down our remote gravel road, sticking our feet in the creek, playing alone in the barn, going swimming in the pond…

you know what?

My kids don’t know that life.

Because, six years ago, two girls were shot and killed while meandering down an Oklahoma country road very similar to the one that I used to frequent.

Gravel roads haven’t looked safe since.

And there are snakes in the creek.

And there could be deadly amoebas in the pond.

And there could be sex offenders near the barn.

And that’s just the beginning.

They can’t drink out of the waterhose. That’s toxic.

If the baby falls asleep in his carseat, we should wake him up after we bring him inside because nine babies died from sleeping in carseats this year (by the way, why is this article all over Facebook right now when it was written in 2006?!).

Oh! And speaking of Baby Shepherd, OH MY GOSH, there is a balloon next to him and it must be popped and discarded of because if a baby even touches a balloon, they could inhale it and choke to death!!!

And sorry, this is off the subject a bit, but did you know that having a child blow out the candles on a birthday cake is a great carrier for germs?

(not to mention their hair could catch on fire).

God?

I’m freaking out here.

Again, I sincerely don’t want to be misunderstood: my point is not that it is bad to be informed.

Information is good.

Warnings are great.

Education is a gift.

And you’d better believe that if something tragic happened to my child that I could help others to avoid, I would do everything I could to get the word out.

My point has nothing to do with the information, really…

and everything to do with what we DO with the information.

How do we respond when we read these warnings?

Do they make us paranoid?

Do they chew up our bellies with fear?

Do they cause us to imagine the worst?

Do they make us feel helpless?

These kinds of responses are red flags, and they are scarier than pond water, because they belie a problem that is deeply rooted within us, a problem that is as old as time and feels impossible to shake…

We don’t trust God.

We want to BE God.

And, deep down, we hope that if we do this and avoid that and plan for this that nothing bad will happen to our children, ever.

All of which point to a most unbiblical conclusion…

we think that the only hope for our children is us.

And that is how the simple act of reading internet articles can be a diving board that catapults us into very dangerous waters; cataloging every possible death trap and fearing every single worst-case scenario, we subconsciously trample upon every word the Bible says about God’s sovereignty, about His goodness, about His will, and about His calling.

Through our fear and helplessness, we discard the scriptures that we so vocally uphold, saying aloud “Yes, Lord! You are so good and ‘I surrender all’ and ‘have thine own way’ and all those Christiany things I’m supposed to say” while our hearts are kind of screaming “YOU AREN’T BIG ENOUGH, GOD, AND YOU DON’T CARE ENOUGH”.

If you think that sounds like an exaggeration, consider how the article about secondary drowning receives our rapt attention while God-breathed texts like Romans 8 gather dust on our bedside table…

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 

For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ 

No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Did you hear that?

This is just one tiny excerpt from a book that is TEEMING with hope.

Hope for me.

Hope for my kids.

And while those ancient words may not contain step-by-step instructions for keeping my kids alive, they provide so much more, a bountiful feast of peace and truth for my fearful soul…

a wellspring of beautiful principles that my starving and terrified heart devours.

God is in control.

God is good.

God does everything for my good.

God created my kids.

God loves my kids more than I do.

God has a plan for me that will bring Him glory.

Nothing can separate me from the love of God.

I am in Christ, and my children can be trusted to Him.

There are greater things to fear than death.

Granted, the Bible makes no promise that all of my safety- and wellness-centered prayers for my children will be answered; in fact, most passages of comfort in the Word were written to a people who were enduring suffering like many of us have never seen.

It is inevitable: every person dies and no one is exempt from pain and sadness.

But when I read the Word, it helps me to breathe.

It realigns my heart with a truth that I cannot inwardly deny.

It stamps a purpose and a hope upon even my worst-case scenarios.

And it reminds me that this life isn’t even the one I’m supposed to be living for, anyway, and that, if God would be so gracious, I have eternity to spend with each of my most-beloved children.

Eternity!

So yes, let’s read and share all the articles and take the precautions as we slather on the suncreen and zip up the sleepsacks and fasten the safety helmets and cut up the grapes and mince the hot dogs and AVOID ALL WATER, PERIOD…

but let’s also stop living as if there is no God.

After all, there is really nothing more toxic, hazardous, poisonous or dangerous than that.

 ~

Want to keep up with Mrs. Gore’s Diary? Find us on facebook! I promise not to share scary articles there. :)

Mrs. Gore’s Tips for Not Making Your Pastor Wish He Was Anything But a Pastor

One aspect of my life that I don’t talk about very often is the fact that I am married to a pastor.

My shepherd at church is also my shepherd at home.

Not to be confused with my infant baby, Shepherd. You can tell him apart from my husband/pastor shepherd because he wears onesies and his name has a capital “s”.

Anyhow, this not only makes me the heralded “pastor’s wife”, it makes me an expert in all things pastorly.

And since I am both a full-time layperson/congregant and married to a full-time person of the cloth, I thought I would merge my two worlds today and give some pointers on how people like us (the congregation) can be a help and not a hindrance to people like us (the minister and his wife and family).

As usual, I can only talk about things like this because our church is the totes awesomest. I give you my word, there is no hidden agenda or lurking jabs in the words that I shall henceforth be sharing.

Or in the words that I heretofore shared.

Let us begin.

1. Obviously, don’t be a poo-poo head.

I’m glad we had this talk.

2. Guard your little words.

As your God-appointed leaders, your pastor spends his week praying and, if you’re lucky, maybe even fasting, with you in mind, expecting the Lord to do something great in your life; thus, imagine how it must deflate him when he sees you at church and says “Good morning! How are you?” and your response is “It’s cold in here” or “Your microphone is too loud.” Um, ouch. Try instead to tell him what you appreciate about him or how the Lord used the sermon to impact you. He truly wants to hear about it. Then you can tell him you’re cold. In a nice way, of course (see point #1).

3. Likewise, guard your big words.

Speaking of “um, ouch”, I’ve taken note over my lifetime in church of how folks tend to speak more bluntly to pastors than they do others. As a full-time SAHM/homeschooler, I can’t imagine what it would feel like if someone walked into my home and started picking apart my realm, not only finding fault with the things that make up my entire life, but sharing my faults openly with others, all before giving me pointers on how to do my job better. It would be heartbreaking. Guard your tongues, ye brutal and loose-tongued opiners, and, not to be redundant, but…see point #1.

4. Give your pastor plenty of family time.

Our church is the BEST at this. We are five years into our ministry here, and never once have I felt that I am competing with the church for my husband’s attention. Granted, he has set firm guidelines in this area, but our church has also done its part, giving him freedom to come home when he chooses, to keep flexible office hours, and to arrive and depart from church with his family rather than in separate vehicles (meaning, no late-night meetings, etc.).

A church that competes with, rather than nurtures, their pastor’s life at home fatally damages his potential for fulfilling his biblical call. Tsk, tsk, tsk. That’s worse than being a you-know-what  (see point #1).

5. Incline your ear and follow your leader.

My husband pour hours into preparing his sermons, every week. On top of that, he writes a daily Bible reading guide so we might better ingest the exposited text. He asks us to pray for specific things. He encourages us in specific areas. He gives us tasks that are unique to our situation…

that’s his job.

Now it is the job of the congregation, myself included, to follow. The most encouraging church members are the ones who really listen and do the things their pastor asks them to do (obviously, this includes neither sinning nor drinking any kind of poisoned fruit punch).

6. Think about your particular gifts and use them to minister to your minister.

It has been a joy for me to watch our congregation encourage our family, in all kinds of different ways. Their gifts literally keep us going. Whether it is the deacon who makes hospital visits to give our pastors plenty of study time, or the older women who tidy up my husband’s office, or the young mom who brings us food, or the widow who frequently sends us encouragement, or the couple who constantly prays for us, or the man who mows our yard, the love and generosity of our church family makes the way so much easier for us.

Do the same for your pastor, and I’m pretty sure you’ll get an in-ground swimming pool in heaven.

7. Work hard to keep your pastor safe.

You can do this in so many ways. Pray for him. Give him plenty of rest. Pray for him. Protect him from she-devils with wicked intentions. Pray for him. Be his visitation buddy. In other words, be his watchdog and his mother hen. Taking care of your pastor helps ensure he will be equipped to take care of you.

Oh and don’t forget to pray for him.

8. Give him time and room to grow.

Although it is imperative that he meets the requirements that scripture lays out for his eldership, your pastor is being sanctified just like you are. Remember, pastors are people, too. And people are poo-poo heads sinners.

9. Give him time and room to preach.

It has become a token joke in today’s church culture to make references to the length of the pastor’s sermon, and although this is usually in good fun, I can imagine that it could easily turn harmful.

Imagine, for a minute, the pressure of knowing that the God of the universe was watching to make sure you said everything you were supposed to say. And then imagine looking out across of sea (or a small pond) of people who were tapping their feet and checking their wristwatches, expecting you to accomplish that daunting task in twenty to thirty minutes per week.

Cherish the pastor who is more afraid of God than he is of you, and give him the freedom to do his job and do it thoroughly and “with joy” (see Hebrews 13 below).

10. View your pastor and his family as a team.

This advice is more practical than it is biblical, but I appreciate it so much that, when our church members pray aloud for my husband, they pray for me and our children, too. I also personally love it when women include me in messages they send to my husband or seek us both out for advice; it is in no way necessary (because I read all his messages anyway), but it is a very cool thing to do, and it strengthens our family unit, which, again, is only for the good of the church.

11. Pay him well.

Many dole out big bucks for their doctors, dentists, accountants and personal trainers without question, but then expect their pastor and his family to live like paupers.

You pastor has been assigned by God to watch over your soul and train you in righteousness, the single most important aspect of your life…

you can help by making sure he doesn’t have to worry during the week about how he is going to afford some cornbread to go with his beans.

(Kudos to our church family for our generous salary and for a yearly cost-of-living increase!).

12. Include him in your decision-making.

I’m guessing at the math here, but 9 times out of 10, congregants approach their pastor for advice on big decisions…

after their decision is made.

Contemplating a huge change? Tempted to join another church? Feeling like getting a divorce? Make haste to the preacher-man, seek his biblical advice and counseling, and, if he isn’t leading you in something that is unbiblical, do what he says to do. Which leads us to our next point…

13. Make the way easy for him by submitting and not grumbling.

This one is straight from the Bible. Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to them; for they are keeping watch over your souls, as men who will have to give account. Let them do this joyfully, and not sadly, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Your pastor will answer to God for how he led you. You will answer (also to God) for how you followed.

‘Tis a very freeing and simple arrangement, is it not? I wish I had realized that sooner.

14. Keep poo-poo heads accountable.

Lastly (but almost certainly not leastly), if you hear someone speaking ill of your shepherd, either gently rebuke them or change the route of the conversation. Their words will not only harm your pastor, they could harm your own ears, planting seeds of discord in your heart that could lead to a root of bitterness. Which could turn you into a…well, see point #1.

~

As with any list of advice or etiquette, I am sure these pointers are far from comprehensive, but I hope they provide some helpful insight. How I could have used this list when I was younger! If I could go back and be a better sheep for my former pastors, I most certainly would. Consider this my public apology, for when I typed these words and revisited old memories, I felt sheepish, indeed. Baaa.

I also deeply apologize for how many times I said or referenced “poo-poo” in this blog post. 

~

Mrs. Gore’s comment policy: all comments are read and appreciated, but only those that are edifying and do not lead to lengthy internet discussion are approved.

And, finally, because I love ya, a pin for your bookmarking and sharing convenience…

pastor tips

Dear Beautiful

Dear Beautiful, a letter to my daughters about being pretty

To my beloved daughters, aged 4 and 2,

I remember when I was quite young and my Mama would tell me what made a girl pretty…

her smile. She said a happy smile was the prettiest thing in the world.

And she always told me that it was what was on the inside that counted.

“Inner beauty”.

I listened.

I tried to take it in.

But I didn’t really believe her.

Because I had seen what beautiful was…

She-Ra. She had long, blonde, flowing hair and a white mini dress. (and a unicorn with rainbow wings).

Miss America. The ballgowns, the swimsuits, the sparkly crowns, the perfect smiles.

Barbie. Big boobies. Big, big boobies.

Paula Abdul. I don’t know. I just loved her. Did you know she used to be a Laker Girl? I did, because I read her biography. In the 3rd grade.

As a little girl, I looked, wide-eyed, upon the outward features that made something beautiful to me – a certain type of hair, a beguiling turn of the eye, a fancy schmancy body – and I dreamed of attaining that level of pretty.

And the more I admired what was beautiful to me, the more my mom’s definition of “pretty” seem kind of hokey and like something people said to make sure that every girl at least felt pretty, whether she was or not; inner beauty was a good thing, and I wanted it, but it seemed to have little bearing on whether I was perceived as a beautiful person or not. And I wanted to be jaw-droppingly beautiful.

I spent years, even my outwardly-prettiest years, shrugging off her compliments. “You’re my Mom,” I would say, “of course you think my hair looks good like this.”

“You’re my Mom,” I’d laugh, “only you would think this dress looked nice on me.”

“You’re my Mom. You have to say that.”

But, little girl, then I had you.

They placed you on my chest, squalling and crying and covered in birthing stuff, and everything she ever taught me about beauty made perfect sense.

You were alive and breathing and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.

And every morning when you walk down the stairs and I see that you are still alive and still breathing…beautiful.

I finally get it now: the prettiest thing about a girl, any girl, is that she is fearfully and wonderfully made by God. She is alive. She is a person. She has a soul.

Do you understand how fantastic that is? God made you! I know He did, because you weren’t there, and then you were there.

I didn’t make you (minus that one night with your Papa, wink wink, nudge nudge).

Fate didn’t.

A coincidental twist in an evolutionary cycle didn’t.

God did.

I like to think about Him crafting you, weaving all of your different features together into a unique and breath-taking work of art.

Your hair? It’s so amazing. It was made by God.

For you, Rebekah, He chose golden hair, with a natural side part that suits your face just right. It is straight and silky, with a slight bend at the end; sunlight runs to dance among your strands, crowning you like a glowing halo. God gave you a gift when He crafted your locks.

And Betsie Fair, yours is light brown and wild, a perfect match to your carefree and joyful childhood. When you wake up in the morning, your mane is as big as your eyes, ready to take on the world, ready to catch syrup and dirt, ready to make a most fitting frame to your precious, ornery little face.

Your hair is beautiful.

Your bodies? They were made by God, so different, but equally lovely.

Rebekah, my love, your body is like your spirit: strong, sturdy, and precious to behold. When I hold you in my arms, my heart is full and soothed.

And Betsie, your slinky, skinny body is so fun to watch. You run and hop and leap and dance uninhibited, and I marvel at the way you move, like an instrument that proclaims with every step that God is singing over us.

Your bodies are beautiful.

Your eyes? God made them, giving me windows into your sweet, sweet souls.

Your cornflower blue eyes burn holes into my heart, Rebekah Sunday…

and Betsie, your naïve glances cause me to melt.

Your eyes are beautiful.

Your hands? God made them. They’re beautiful.

Your feet? Your toes?

Made by God.

Beautiful.

Your nose? Your mouth? Your lips? Your teeth?

God, God, God, God.

So beautiful.

And oh, those smiles.

Your Grandmother was right. When you smile and your eyes perk up with twinkles of happiness, you are the essence of beauty. And when you throw back your head and laugh, the trees tip their hats and the mountains bow in reverence to this pinnacle of God’s creation.

Yes. Your smiles are beautiful.

So, please, my darling daughters…

Don’t spend a day feeling miserable and fat.

Don’t look with covetous eyes at the hair that was given to another girl.

Don’t wish for blue eyes when yours are green.

This world is not your mirror, a reflection of what you are lacking or what you should look like.

It is your playground.

Live here, freely, happily, and unhindered by the chains and lies of a worldview that says some people have beauty and some don’t, that some have perfect bodies and some don’t, that some are made for magazines and the big-screen and some are not…

because that’s about the stupidest and most shallow thing a girl can believe.

You were created for richer feasts.

When you gaze at your reflection, do your Mama a favor and admire the handiwork of God. And then…

walk away.

Run and play.

Sing.

Laugh.

Dance.

Love.

Tell your friends how beautiful they are.

And, through the grace of the God who made you, work every day to purify your soul and mortify your sin, leaving a beauty inside of you that will dazzle this sad and captive world with the light of Jesus Christ.

They will never know what hit them.

Mrs. Gore’s Potluck Etiquette

It has been awhile since I shared any ridiculous etiquette advice with you, and, as church potlucks are a common occasion for many of us, I thought today would be a good time to give a little guidance for navigating the potentially complicated waters of the casserole scene. Especially when the casseroles are watery…

~

1. The numero-uno cardinal potluck rule: Never, ever, comment on the food you just tasted unless to say it is delicious. Simple as that. Break this rule and you will live to regret it.

2. Likewise, never, ever scrunch up your nose after tasting someone’s…interesting…casserole dish. Puh-puh-puh-poker face, baby.

3. Take extra precaution in the handling and cooking of your food for a potluck. I don’t know about you, but the thought of giving salmonella to my entire church body in one fell swoop is the stuff of this Baptist woman’s nightmares.

4. There are unspoken rules that must be obeyed when it comes to the recipes of your church family. Here they are:

  • The first lady to make a delicious recipe, even if it actually belongs to Paula Deen or the Pioneer Woman, forever has dibs on that recipe. In fact, from now on, it should be dubbed “So-and-so’s dish”…as in, “Megan’s lasagna”, “Amy’s chocolate chip cookies”, “Chrissy’s peanut butter brownies”, “Kodi’s peach crisp”, “Charlotte’s Pinterest-worthy Peeps cake”…
  • In fact, this is true not only at potlucks, but at any church gathering or if anyone in the congregation is sick or just had a baby. Never make another lady’s prize recipe unless you are making it for your own family. And again, when you do make it for your family, make sure they know, this is Megan’s Lasagna.
  • I personally have dibs on my potato soup recipe, snickerdoodles, granola, mini cheesecakes, lemon blossoms, sugar cookies and gooey butter cake. Feel free to make them at home, but if you bring these to a potluck or to a sick person in our church, you are dead to me.

5. This is just my own personal opinion, but…why’d you have to go and put cottage cheese in that perfectly delicious looking jello salad? Your salad is now dead to me.

6. In all seriousness, scan the room before you sit down with your typical buddies and see if you can’t find a table with someone you don’t know very well. These potlucky situations are great opporunities for developing unity and fellowship in the church. You can even bond over a game of “what’s-in-this-mystery-salad?”

7. At our church, we always let the elderly line up first, and encourage the children to go last. A perfect teaching opportunity, don’t you think?

8. We used to have a Pee-Wee Herman video that included a short movie in it about a boy named “Mr. Bungle” who always heaped lots of food on his plate at school and chose the largest piece of chocolate cake in the line-up. In other words, show some restraint, Miss Piggy. This is a potluck, for crying out loud, not an all-you-can-eat buffet.

9. Unless otherwise engaged in important or fruitful conversation, don’t be a lazy-britches and sit around smacking your fingers while the kitchen ladies are cleaning up after a large meal. Look to the ant, thou potluck sluggard! (I’m pretty sure that’s in Proverbs somewhere).

10. But then also be sensitive to the old truth of “too many cooks in the kitchen.” If you find yourself with nothing to do and are causing a major traffic jam in the kitchen while you stand there and gab, move on, sister!

11. And finally, in a modern church age where potlucks are slowly being replaced by trendy coffee-bars and fancy cook-outs, remember…you’ve got to fight. For your right. To potluck.

(…Did I just reference the Beastie Boys in a potluck article? Excuse me for a moment while I try to process this surprising turn of events…).

Okay, I’m back. And what I mean is…don’t really fight. But don’t let my favorite meal die. Potlucks are nostalgic. They’re fun. And they’re tasty, too!

Except for when they’re not.

But we’re not saying anything about that, are we?

~

Want to remember this extremely important article? Pin it!

potluck etiquette

A Non-defensive Defense of Halloween

I understand it would be folly to answer every disagreement that finds you on the internet…

In such a public – yet somewhat anonymous – forum, it is so easy to start lengthy, and sometimes passionately spirited, discussions that would probably never see the light of day in our real, face-to-face lives. Once we dip our toe into the realm of internet discourse, we then can feel the need to try to counter every argument and answer every question and defend every stance, an occupation that could keep us busy from sun-up to sun-down…and what do we really gain from such banter? Perhaps our vehement responses and well-stated arguments might shape and mold the opinion of another reader, but more likely than not, those who agree with us will say “yeah! what she said!!” and those who disagree will skim right past our argument so they can post their own.

That is why I choose to keep private any comments on my blog that might lead to controversy, or long, drawn-out discussions that really wouldn’t benefit many, and would most likely draw me away from the real people in my life as I sit at my computer desk to wait for responses to come in so that I might counter-respond. The very thought of such a life gives me the shivers; I’m here to celebrate life, not engage in word-fights with people I can’t see. And besides…word fights would totally clash with my soft, floral background.

That said, I received a simple comment to my last Halloween post, and I wanted to respond to it. If you go looking for it, you’ll not find it, for I never approved it and made it public; it was not mean-spirited at all, but I knew the minute I read it that it would have led to a long and unnecessary discussion. However, it did trigger a memory for me of a blog post I once considered writing and had kind of forgotten about, and hopefully, the post that ensues might answer some questions some of you might have had about me…and better yet, it might encourage some of you who feel conflicted about the holiday I speak so often and so fondly of: today, dear friends, I’d like to share with you why Mrs. Gore, the wife of a Southern Baptist preacher, so joyfully celebrates Halloween.

So the comment I received yesterday was nothing more than a gentle suggestion that I should look up Halloween and what it truly means – but it was rather loaded, for I knew exactly what the commenter was saying (without really saying so)…that Halloween is a dark holiday with evil origins and that Christians should not celebrate such a holiday. I am quite positive that the commenter meant no ill will in this recommendation, and only means to help me, and I appreciate that very much. However, this is a subject that I’ve given much consideration to over the years, and I’ve got to tell you, in all humility, I feel great freedom in our personal decision to partake in the innocent fun that is Halloween.

And here’s why. Regardless of the origins of Halloween (and those origins are foggy, indeed), there is simply nothing pagan about what our family does on this Fall holiday. We dress up in fun costumes and we have an absolute blast. We thank the Lord for our chili and caramel apples and fun-size candy bars, just as we thank Him for every meal we partake of. We strive to glorify Him as we traipse through the streets of our town, knocking on the doors of our church members, many of whom are also dressed up in fun costumes, just as we strive to glorify Him on every other day of the year. In other words, we might be enjoying Halloween, but we are still, by the grace of God, living a gospel-centered life. Halloween neither detracts nor adds to that, unless you consider how fully this day draws us together as a family. In that light…Halloween actually adds to our gospel-centered life, silly as that may sound, and is one of the highlight days of our year, every year.

But I know this has been a very tricky subject for Christians over the years. Many of us don’t really know what to do with Halloween.

Should we do away with it altogether?

Should we celebrate, but keep that information on the down-low lest an another church member find out about it?

Or my personal favorite, how about we celebrate Halloween, but call it a “Fall Festival”…then we can have a party at the church, and we can still dress up, we can even throw evangelism into the mix, and…everyone is happy and no one feels guilty or condemned.

The opinions are obviously varied, even among the most devout and theological.

And so, in my truly humble opinion, what Halloween and all the trimmings comes down to is just another of those instances of Christian conviction. There are matters of Biblical truth that we must be unwavering on, no matter what our culture says, or even our own deceptive hearts. But then there are other (secondary) matters that we must pray over and examine, honestly seeking the direction and peace of God and the wisdom and authority of our local pastor and congregation. The conclusions we are led to in these secondary matters become convictions that are very personal and are often unique to our different situations and settings, and sometimes even change as we grow in our faith. And I think a lot of subjects fit in this second category – Halloween, Santa Claus, certain TV shows and movies, clothing, music, dancing, card-playing, pool halls, Harry Potter, Disney…just to name a few.

And, sadly, a lot of times, we mistake these convictions as universal truths, and pretty soon, we’ve taken something personal and perhaps Spirit-led and created an extra-Biblical standard that all Christians must live under or meet our unsolicited disapproval. And, what scares me the most about this is, if we’re not careful, our good intentions can tear up the Kingdom and the unity of the church as we become warriors for our pet causes, trampling over the unifying blood of Christ in our haste to have the entire Church – and the world, even – share our opinion.

So…is this blog post a defense for Halloween? Not really. I’m not that in love with Halloween, that I would defend it to my grave, and am even open to the thought that God might change my convictions about it someday (but please no, God!).

But I try to be pretty serious about the verse that states the following: The world will know we are disciples of Jesus if we have love for one another (John 13:35).

Therefore, I think the most important thing we can do on Halloween – and every day of the year – is strive for unity and grace and love, to the point that we go out of our way to submit to our God-ordained authority (remember, your pastor has been commanded to watch over your soul and you have been commanded to make this easy for him) as well as our brothers and sisters in the faith, and show, by our actions and our attitudes, that we esteem each other even more than we do our own lives. I don’t know what that will make October 31st look like for you, but I definitely thing it is worth mulling over.

And if you are like our family…you might get to the end of all that examination and decide, quite happily and confidently, that Halloween is alright by you, at least for now, and that, at the end of your holiday, love and peace and unity reigns. Because, after all, isn’t that what Halloween is all about?…

Wait…that’s Christmas.

So…what I guess I’m trying to say is, let’s live every day – including Halloween – like its Christmas.

Merry Christmas, dear readers! And Happy Halloween/Plain-old-October-31st/Fall Festival/Reformation Day…

~

As mentioned above, I will see and welcome all comments, but reserve the right to only publish those that are edifying and that will not lead to further debate, therefore causing my readers distress or the temptation to watch drama unfold on the internet. Thanks for understanding!

Selah Springs: The Friendship

I’ll never forget just how much I needed to meet her…

No matter how I tried, I was a fish out of water at the University of Oklahoma. Turns out my niche was at home with Mama and Daddy, and my home church was always heavy on my heart, making it extremely difficult to forge deep relationships, even at the Baptist Student Union…a place that should have been my stomping ground. The ministry there was amazing, bringing up a thriving and passionate group of young believers who loved the Lord and lived on mission. During school breaks, many of them were traveling overseas to spread the gospel, and everything they did was very intentional and very inspiring.

In contrast, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

Rather than finding a new church home in Norman, I made the 2-hour drive home every weekend to drink in the home air and attend church where my heart was. The thought of an overseas mission trip made my knees wobble. And while I was in awe of the staff leaders and absolutely thrived under their large-group teaching, I was pretty sure from our attempts at one-on-one time that we were on totally different pages. Maybe in different books. Perhaps written in different languages.

Looking back, I can clearly see now that God had definite and unique plans for my life that involved those tight bonds to the homefront staying securely in place, but at the time, I was extremely conflicted, trying to do what I thought I was supposed to be doing, but feeling very alone and like a total oddball, even as I admired and became friends with many wonderful students in my small group. In fact, my brothers and I even referred to me as “the black sheep of the BSU”. This was no one’s fault: I was a people-pleaser who simply did not know where to fit in…and they did not know quite what to do with me! (And I can’t blame them…what are you supposed to do with a girl who is “there” but SO not there?!).

But then I met Andrea.

She was visiting our BSU small group one night, considering the possibility of making a permanent move to Norman to join the staff as a sorority ministry leader. We hit it off immediately, and I was drawn to her like a crayon to Baby Betsie’s mouth. We had many shared interests, mostly involving shopping and music and popular entertainment, but it turns out, God had deeper plans for us, that would eventually involve discipleship and accountability, and several years of sweet fellowship as Andrea allowed me to help her with her ministry to sorority girls. Our favorite times together happened over steaming cups of hazelnut at Panera Bread, or at my parent’s house on weekends as we melted under the ministrations of my Mom’s hospitality, and laughed at Andrea’s city girl ways. But here was a woman who loved me as I was, seeing the beauty of my life at home in the country, appreciating it, and even finding ways to employ it – I’ll never forget the week she was brave enough to bring a small group of sorority girls to Mama and Daddy’s house for a retreat, titled “Pampered on the Prairie”. I don’t remember all of the details, but I do remember lots of laughter and joy and feeling…vital. Useful. Normal. My life was once more in one piece and my heart was no longer torn between where I needed to be and where I wanted to be; the BSU and the homestead had finally found a way to share custody, and as a result, I was at rest.

Life went by quickly as it always does, and graduation soon came. I happily returned to my home, this time with a shiny engagement ring on my finger, and two years later, I was married, living in Kentucky, and great with child…

But if what happened to me during my years after leaving OU was a whirlwind, Andrea’s was an F4 tornado: my blond-haired city friend fell quickly and deeply in love with a Texan who had made a short pit-stop in Norman, and was whisked away to his game ranch in the Hill Country, complete with rattlesnakes and scorpions and…the nearest Target? Who knows where.

But regardless of walking into a completely different lifestyle, Andrea is still refreshingly the same. The proud mother of 2 beautiful girls, she is our own version of the Pioneer Woman, and helps her husband, Phil, manage Selah Springs like a true pro, even cooking for the large groups who rent out the Main Lodge. If you had told me 8 years ago where she would be today, I would never have believed you, but no one is surprised by her ability to adapt to a completely new environment; we knew it the first time we were around her…there is nothing Andrea cannot do.

All that to say, the greatest thrill of my vacation last week had to be seeing my dear friend once more, now in her new element, thriving, joyful, and most excitedly, continuing to grow in the fear and knowledge of God. ‘Tis a wondrous thing to have friends who share not only your memories, but your blood – for in the Savior you find your greatest bond as you hide together behind His great grace and sacrifice. Because of Him, we speak the same language, and therefore, picking up where we left off is as effortless and God-ordained as the day our friendship was forged.

It was a soul-stirring week as I contemplated once more God’s gracious provision for me in bringing Andrea into my life at just the right time…and nearly a decade later, He did it all over again, this time at Selah Springs Ranch.

~

 Me and Andrea at my parent’s house in 2004…

On my wedding day in 2005…

And now, our daughters played together on the banks of the San Saba River in 2012…

God is very, very good.

~

Coming up tomorrow…Selah Springs: The River

A Baby’s Worst Nightmare

I dreamed my life went backwards…

My children, playing in the front yard, their laughter filling the air and warming my heart.

A quiet hospital room, holding my baby boy for the first time.

My wedding day, the world as close to heaven as it had ever been.

My last college final, 4 years of hard work and study completed.

That night in my parents living room, hearing him say “I love you” for the first time.

Our first date, hands clammy, voice shaking, future so unclear but full of hope.

The first time I laid eyes on him, heart shifting in his direction.

My adolescent mistakes, and learning the hard way that I didn’t have the world figured out.

High school, a blur of excitement and fun, the world opening up before me.

Middle school, finding my voice and developing my talents.

Elementary school, waking up to the great, big world around me and loving every minute.

Playing in the creek with my brothers, deliciously cold water running gently over my bare feet.

My Granny and Papa’s house, the smell of sweet honeysuckle drifting by on the wind.

My first kitten, soft and tiny and all mine.

My childhood, one simple day after another, surrounded by family and familiarity and love.

My wonder, picking wildflowers in the pasture, captured by the beauty of creation.

My infantile love for Mama and Daddy, my entire world wrapped up in their faces.

Safe, in her womb.

But then my dream turned into a nightmare, and my world was turned upside down…

Mama was different.

She was scared.

She was selfish.

She was a victim.

She was deceived by her culture.

She was duped by the experts.

She did not want me.

They killed me and sucked me out of her body and threw me in a trash can.

My life – with all of its potential beauty – was over before it had even begun.

~

Abortion is a nightmare that millions of children every year never get to wake up from. Wake up, America. Choose life.

(source)

Cakewalks and Cupcakes.

I was just sitting down this evening to bare my soul.

“‘Bout what?” you ask?…

‘Bout this.

I worry often that by displaying the best parts of our days and the best photographs in our albums and the grandest parties of our year that I, unwittingly, make my life seem like a cakewalk.

Which in and of itself wouldn’t be a huge deal.

Lots of people seemingly have cakewalks for lives, don’t they?..

And so I guess what I really worry about is that, in assuming my life is a cakewalk, you might then go on to calculate that my faith is in direct correlation to all the blessing I so ardently display on my blog. “Of course she loves God!” you might think. “She has parties every other day and her marriage is a dream and her kids are so perfectly well-behaved.” It makes me look like the “type” of person who goes to church because, again…why wouldn’t I? I have a white picket fence. My husband is better than Magic Mike. Life is perfect. 

And so I’ve been looking for the opportunity to speak to you, my dear friends, when life isn’t all hearts and flowers. When there isn’t an “aha” moment at the end of my day, a tidy little lesson to brighten up the drudgery. When I feel like a failure and a loser and a poor excuse for not only a wife, a mother, a friend and a housekeeper, but a Christian. These days happen more often than they do not, but who thinks to sit down and blog in such misery?

Well…this girl right here.

The circumstances were perfect for a parade of transparency and normality…

I haven’t showered today. I walked away like sad Charlie Brown when my baby girl screamed at me when I put her in bed. I burst into tears at the sight of my filthy laundry room that leads to my filthy kitchen that leads to all the other filthy parts of my house. I haven’t shown my husband the love and respect he deserves. I have been self-absorbed. My heart was so captured by the sermon on Sunday and I haven’t done one thing about it. Our dining chairs are so old they squeak every time we even think of picking up our forks. I have a huge blemish on my chin. I need to trim my…ahem…”facial hair”. I have old, deep heart issues of unforgiveness and bitterness that continue to flare up. Our white picket fence looks neglected and awful, and both gates have fallen off of their hinges. I have been a failure at Christian fellowship and discipleship. Our minivan smells like ketchup and dirty diapers. I have yelled at my kids a couple of times this week. I’m out of coffee. I am already absolutely overwhelmed by my duties as a stay-at-home mom, and have my first year of homeschool on the horizon. I spend way too much time on the internet. I keep forgetting to live for the world to come instead of the one I’m in right now…

And that’s just off the top of my head.

So here I was, in the zone of transparency, depressed, discouraged, gritty (and yes, maybe a little stinky) and had literally just sat down at the computer to type it all out and show you who the REAL Mrs. Gore is…

when our doorbell rang.

You won’t believe what was on the other side…

Cupcakes.

My beloved little friend, Leslie, had sent a tray of red velvet cupcakes up the hill with her husband, complete with a little hand-stamped note of encouragement.

My grittiness, depression and discouragement evaporated at the sight of them, and although none of the things I shared with you above have changed very much…

my perspective has.

My life may not be a cakewalk…

but tonight, it is most definitely a cupcake.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a date with that guy up there.

~

In the mood to find out more about the real Mrs. Gore? Read one of my old favorites from the archives: Swinging Low.

Operation: Pilgrimage

I love it when all of my recent convictions and revelations find articles and Facebook statuses and, yes, Pinterest pins that spur me on…

For instance, I saw this precious statement on Pinterest last week:

“This.” I thought. “This is it. We are, by the grace of God, waking up to this very idea…”

And then I read this little article from Desiring God ministries, that added a Biblical foundation to that thought up there, and spurred me on in what I have been learning this past year.

Which goes a little somethin’ like this…

Great and secret joy is found when the unseen worldview that has clouded your vision and deceived your heart is obliterated by the work of the Spirit and the truth of the Bible, leaving freedom and confidence in its wake. 

Let me explain.

I had no idea until recent years that, for the better part of my life, I was living, moving and breathing under a worldview that was much more American than it was Christian.

Let me explain.

Rat race. Social ladder. Financial security. College. Retirement. Success. Accolades. Comfort. Vacations. Fashion. Make more, spend more, consume more. Bachelors degree before marriage. Travel before kids.

Let me take that a step further, to the realm of motherhood…

Lavish birthday parties. Tricked-out scrapbooks. Matching Christmas clothes. A spotless house, Country Living style. High homeschool expectations (of wanting my kids to be a certain level of smart, in other words, smarter than everyone else’s kids).

And then into “church life”…

Majorly decorated VBS displays. Thousands of dollars on church camp. Wedding showers, personal showers, baby showers. GA’s, RA’s, Awanas, Bible Drill, Sunday School, Children’s Church, Discipleship classes, programs, programs, programs.

Please don’t get me wrong.

Most of these things, in and of themselves, are not wrong – there is nothing wrong with enjoying fashionable clothes (just ask my closet), there is nothing wrong with pouring your heart into decorating your Vacation Bible School room, there is nothing wrong with creating beautiful scrapbooks for each of your children, and there is certainly nothing wrong with hosting a lovely shower for your engaged or pregnant friend – obviously, many of these things are actually quite praiseworthy.

But when the line is crossed in these areas, and the master becomes slave and the inanimate becomes master, then, Houston, we most certainly have a major problemo.

One day, as I was completely stressed out and flustered over getting the house clean for a birthday party I was hosting, it hit me with startling clarity that almost 100% of the deadlines I run up against are almost 100% unnecessary and 100% created by me. I had this tendency to allow what was supposed to be an expression of love turn into a stressful duty that was ruling me, stealing my joy, and turning my children’s mother into a distant and harried psychopath. “I know its your birthday, sweetie, but go upstairs and get out of my hair before I go ballistic!”

My wordly worldview had deceived me into thinking I HAD “to have”, “to do”, and “to be” a number of things that were either extra- or unBiblical, and that I had to have, do, and be them NOW! In five minutes!!

But, by the grace of God, the reality has been creeping into my soul that hardly any of the things I was getting all flustered about were really essential to fulfilling my life’s purpose…

On the contrary, they were causing me to waste my life and to wish away beautiful moments and days on stress and self-absorption, sacrificing endless opportunities for worship and joy for the sake of nonsensical filler and busywork.

And, as my Biblical worldview continues to be formed, I see that all of those things that I had (at times) made myself a slave to are being replaced by ONE thing:

Pilgrimage.

The life-changing realization that life is a journey from point A to point B, from birth to death, with one goal, one purpose, as stated in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

What freedom is found in this singular purpose!

In other words, “so, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

This beautiful truth takes my focus off of events and worldly goals, and places it instead on my attitude and my heart as I experience those events and work to achieve those goals. It reminds me that, whatever I choose to do today, my purpose is to do it in a way that brings glory and honor to God, in a way that displays Christian fruit, and in a way that brings peace rather than strife.

It gives me the freedom to say “no” to nonessentials, even if it goes against the way things have been done for years and years and years, and the confidence to opt out of what society says my family and my children need to be happy, whole and socialized.

It teaches me that, no matter what my culture says, I can be madly in love with my husband until the day I die, that I can welcome sticky fingerprints on my windows, that I can be poor and ridiculously happy, that I can host events without being uptight, and that worship of God is the most simple and beautiful (and, best of all, FREE!) pleasure that life has to offer.

It proclaims to me that I don’t have to live my life like the world has told me to.

And my life, when lived this way, looks a little something like this (yours might look totally different)

Impromptu dance parties after supper, shredded cheese and ground beef still littering the floor as we stomp through the house with our instruments.

Lunchtime picnics on the landing of the staircase.

Leisurely soaking in my slipper bathtub while my kids bang on the piano in my room (and the Baby throws Cheerios on the floor from her playpen).

Going to bed with my husband every night when there are a million things that could be done to the house or to the blog.

Postponing team sports for now, but always playing soccer or baseball in the front yard when our son asks.

Sweeping with a smile instead of a furrowed brow.

Watching my son take up the offering with a pirate eyepatch on and not freaking out or worrying what “people will think”.

Eating pancakes for lunch because I was grouchy and needed to apologize to my kids and start the day over again, breakfast and all.

Being prepared in my heart to greet class after class of music students at Vacation Bible School with honest gladness and sit in a circle and talk to them about Jesus, not a decoration in sight (until Wednesday with the help of great friends).

Supper: a giant watermelon on the porch with a fork for everyone. Dessert: popsicles.

Making hot dogs for a group of rowdy church kids every Wednesday night and not caring if they tell me “thank you”.

Training myself to listen to sermons with my kids beside me at Sunday worship, crayons all over the floor and on the pew.

Driving an old (free) golden minivan with gratitude and without wishing for a new car.

Buying one awesome dress per season rather than five.

Desiring one thing for my children’s future: godliness.

Shouting praise to God on the front porch as long-awaited rain falls on our town, and laughing as my children follow my lead and learn how to pray. For reals.

Learning to give my possessions away to someone who will find more joy in the object than I will. This is much more fun than I thought it would be.

Dying to myself. Dying to myself. Dying to myself. And watching with wonder as those around me learn to do the same thing.

These are, of course, on those glorious days when I remember my purpose and live “in the moment”. I long to have more and more of these days as I continue to grow in the faith.

So yes, I still get to host birthday parties. But if I am hosting birthday parties in a way that fails to display the patience and kindness of Jesus to my family, I’ve grievously missed the point.

I can still deck my room out for VBS if I want to. But if I am cross in the process, and get stressed as time runs out, I might as well have left that room empty.

I still HAVE to do the dishes. But I can perform even this seemingly tedious duty in a way that glorifies God. This might mean stopping midway to read a book to my child who is in serious need of some attention. It might mean doing dishes as a family so we can spend more time together, even if the floor gets wet in the process. It might mean doing dishes with a happy heart, while my kids make racket and messes all over the house. Or doing dishes while I mull over Sunday’s sermon. Or doing dishes during nap time so my kids can wake up to a clean house and a ready-to-play Mama. Or putting my feet up while my husband graciously does the dishes for me. Or giving away the dishes to someone who needs them. Or buying new dishes because we want to and have been good stewards of our money. Or, on rare occasions, not doing dishes at all.

But regardless of how things play out, days just take on a different hue once you realize you don’t have to live like they told you to live.

Freedom (in Jesus Christ) is sweet, is it not?

May we never waste a moment by returning to our chains.

~

So tell me…how are you going to spend this blessed day of pilgrimage?