Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Being Confident In This

Intrigue, exhilaration, disappointment, triumph.

These words describe the emotional roller coaster I rode the other night watching the Olympics.

I was intrigued by the beauty and precision of these amazing athlete's bodies. I was exhilarated by their displays of strength and talent. I was disappointed by the elimination of Jordyn Wieber from the all-around gymnastics competition. And I felt triumph whenever our country seized another medal.

But the moment that brought the most radiant smile to my face was during gymnast Gabby Douglas' interview after qualifying for the all-around competition. Nicknamed the "Flying Squirrel" for her aerial performance on the uneven bars, this 4'11", 90-pound powerhouse has completely stolen my heart, with her infectious smile and sweet spirit.

When asked how she kept her nerves at bay at the Olympics, Gabby replied, "I meditate on scriptures like, 'Be confident in this.'" She went on to say that the bible gives her comfort.

I'm loving this little 16-year-old's reliance on the Lord and His Word. And I'm totally inspired by her willingness to share her faith so openly on worldwide television.

Specifically, Gabby has inspired me in the following ways:

To sacrifice personal comfort in order to achieve a goal

In order to train at the level of skill and intensity that Gabby needed to soar to the Olympics, she and her mother made drastic changes in her life. When Gabby turned a mere 14-years-old, she moved from Virginia Beach, Virginia to West Des Moines, Iowa to train with Liang Chow, who had coached Olympic champ Shawn Johnson for the 2008 Olympics. Gabby has sacrificed a normal teenage life to live with a host family, all for the goal of advancing her gymnastics career.

I can't imagine allowing any of my four babies to live so far away to pursue a sports career, but I am loving the dedication and sacrifice that Gabby and her mother have modeled. It has caused me to take personal inventory of my life as I wonder if I need to be more sacrificial in order to achieve my life dreams and goals.

To remain confident when I'm in the minority

I have seldom seen Gabby without a radiant smile on her face, a smile that glows from the inside out. I observe this beautiful brown girl and it inspires me to keep my head up in all circumstances. Unlike the first half of my life, the last half has thrown me into many, many environments where I find myself in a drastic racial minority. I have attended multiple bible studies, board meetings, ministry meetings and writers' groups where I am absolutely the only non-white person.

This scenario has characterized a good portion of my life in this season, and young women like Gabby encourage me to stay the course, be confident and continue to shine.

To always be ready for opportunities to share my faith with others

The most important inspiration I've received from Gabby and so many other young Christians like her, is to openly share my faith in Jesus Christ whenever He affords me the opportunity. My heart is to never, ever force my faith or ideals on anyone else, yet, I know that I still have to tell my story. And my story begins, continues and ends with the Lord.

And as long as the Lord gives me breath, I hope to share that whenever and wherever I can. 


So how about you? Has Gabby or any other Olympic contenders inspired you? Feel free to share here.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

He Keeps Flipping the Script

My life has been full of surprises. I'll share a few of them:
  • I said I'd never marry a preacher. Well, I didn't marry a preacher, I married a corporate guy who, seven years later, became a preacher.
  •  When my husband Anthony and I decided to adopt a newborn baby girl from the United States, the Lord chose a 2-year-old toddler boy from Russia for our family instead.
  • After relocating cross-country from Tennessee to Northern Virginia in hopes of planting a new church there, after only one year, the Lord clearly directed us to Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas. (Note: In case you haven't noticed, Arkansas borders Tennessee. Surely moving costs would have been a lot cheaper if we would have moved right to Arkansas from Tennessee.)
As I share this list, I must admit, I wouldn't change not one of them. My life has been enriched by the surprises, the unexpected circumstances, and even the challenges of God flipping the script that I had joyfully written for myself.
And lo and behold, He's done it once again.

After following my dreams of becoming a full-time writer for several years now, God has taken my heart and mind through a paradigm shift. A paradigm shift that I'd love to share with you.

You see, for years now, if you would have asked me to define my career (outside of being a wife and mom, of course) I would have confidently stated: "I am a writer that advocates for social justice, primarily in the area of adoption and foster care."

Today, my script reads more like this: "I am a social justice advocate, primarily in the area of foster care and adoption that also writes."

It may sound like a simple change in samantics, but for me, this changes everything.

For instance, when I considered myself a writer first, I was consumed with the next writing gig, getting my byline out there and building my "platform." (By the way, platform means building an audience of readers and establishing myself as an expert in my craft and my personal interests.) And while there's nothing at all wrong with any of these endeavors, for me, they are no longer my primary focus.

Now my focus is on opportunities to share God's vision and hope for orphans around the world and around the corner. I still write, blog, post to Facebook and tweet, but I am no longer consumed with my blog stats (how many people read my blog) or how much activity I see on my personal Facebook page or how many people follow me on Twitter.

What ignites me now? Encouraging others to consider adopting or fostering a child. Pouring my time and energy into The CALL, whose mission is "to educate, equip and encourage the Christian community to provide a future and a hope for the children in foster care." Trusting God to bring opportunities for me to write for His glory and His alone.

And I'm absolutely resolved to continue to encourage, uplift and sometimes challenge others here at Deep Waters to love God and love our neighbors.

Even when their skin color is different from ours. Even when they belong to a different social class. Especially if they're poor or homeless or fatherless.


If they belong to the other political party.

But I won't go there again. :)



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Republicans vs. Democrats: Who Gets It Right?

I don't know about you, but I'm a little weary of all the bipartisan talk these days. Television campaign ads, candidate signs and Facebook posts of people blasting or singing the praises of politicians are wearing me out.

Honestly, I'm looking forward to November 7 -- the day after election day.

I recently read an article in Relevant Magazine entitled "Broken Politics", which took a hard, but fair, look at Republicans and Democrats. Authors D.C. Innes and Lisa Sharon Harper examined how both parties get it right and how both parties get it wrong.

Their conclusion:
"Christians must all recognize their ultimate hope should be in Christ, not in any earthly institution or human theory. Neither one's country nor one's party is the Kingdom of God."
I must agree.

Over the years I've heard many Christians proudly tout the Republican party as the Christian party. As if Jesus Christ Himself would be a Republican if He were walking the face of the earth today.

I've also heard many criticize the Republican party for being elitist and self-centered - the party of the rich and comfortable.

I disagree with both of these assertions.

Both parties represent a facet of the heart of God.

The Republican party tends towards the statutes that Christians have upheld for many years, one being the sanctity of life. The fact that life begins at conception. That every life has meaning and purpose. That every life should be protected, even in the very first hour of life being knitted in his or her mother's womb.

The Republicans get that right.

The Democratic party tends towards the statutes that Christians should be upholding, like caring for the poor, the widow, the alien (or "undocumented individual," as we say today). The fact that every life has meaning and purpose. That every person - old or young, rich or poor, homeowner or homeless person - should have an opportunity to survive and thrive in the world. That everyone should have a full belly and a place to lay his or her head at night. That everyone should have access to adequate health care.

The Democrats get that right.

But each party gets it wrong too. And I won't belabor that point, because quite frankly, I'm tired of all the political bashing.

Instead, I'd like to leave you, my Brother, my Sister, with a few words from the Lord on the matter.
"Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save." Psalm 146:3
"My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that your faith might not rest on men's wisdom, but on God's power." 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 (The Apostle Paul speaking)
My conclusion? Pray and ask God for His path for you in this next election. Open your heart and ears to those who have different political beliefs. Don't condemn another for belonging to the opposite party.   By all means, vote on November 6. And pray daily for the guy that gets elected - whether you voted for him or not.

And most of all - trust in God, not in man.

Trust in God, not in the Republican party.

Trust in God, not in the Democratic party.

After all, He really does have the whole world in His hands.


So what say you? Leave a comment and share your thoughts.