A Gorgeous Take On What May Seem Ugly

A while back, Jen and I went on a little run. We dropped the kids off at the in-laws’ and spent a couple hours trekking through a local greenway. We got to experience the sunrise and a couple breathtaking views (we also ran some trails along the water). It was gorgeous!

In one part of the greenway, we ran through a brief stretch of marshland. It was a little swampy, wet, and not the most attractive site. So as we were running past mile 2 or 3, Jen turns to me and says, “This is gorgeous.”

Wow.

Immediately it hit me. Here I was thinking, “People probably run through this stretch every day thinking it’s unattractive, dirty, and an unpleasant view. And my wife said the exact opposite.

Isn’t that a fair picture of how God views us versus what the world may say? The world may label us, “You are ugly. You are broken. You are messed up.” But then God enters the picture and interjects, “No, you are gorgeous. You are healed. You are redeemed!”

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 (NIV)

I know I need to be reminded sometimes that God looks at my heart. There may be times that I feel messed up, hopeless, and broken. And in other’s eyes, they may see me as that – just a messed up guy. Thankfully, that is not the end. Christ has already entered the picture and claimed me as His son. He already said that I am made whole and full of hope!

Do you run? When was a time when you saw something “ugly” but it was, in fact, “beautiful”?

Broken Is Beautiful

In the past, if you were to ask me about my “wounds” I probably would have downplayed the request and sidetracked the conversation so that I wouldn’t get too deep about whatever it was. Truth be told, I was ashamed and saw those areas in my life as shortcomings and deficiencies. Needless to say, many days my default response was, “I’m fine.”

Yesterday, my pastor said something during his message that struck me:

“Wounds are not symbols of slavery, but evidence of our freedom.”

I want to believe that sentence to be true for my life. I want other people to look into my life and say that very thing–that their husband/father/friend was far from perfect, but he held onto Truth. He was broken, but he was free.

Growing up I put myself in a box. There was times when I felt that my risk-averse nature hindered me from experiencing new and fresh things. In many ways, I felt trapped… almost as if there was a path set out before me, and there was complete certainty that I would follow it. I couldn’t blaze my own trail or pioneer my own frontiers.

Whether or not this can be considered a wound, I don’t know. But I do know that I don’t want those past feelings to dictate what the future holds. I want to embrace the broken periods of my life and view them as beautiful marks of freedom.

As an added bonus: check out this POTSC video called “Broken is Beautiful”. It’s pretty moving.

What did you think of the video? What do you need to view as “beautiful” in your life?

Dragging My Feet

Our master bedroom needed a little overhaul for quite some time. Truthfully, it wasn’t very high on my priority list. I didn’t want to go through the massive box of papers in the corner. I certainly didn’t want to sort through old clothes in the closet. Needless to say, I was okay with leaving things as they were.

<enter wife>

Jen has this uncanny knack for visioning out a room. Not going to lie — she has this crazy feng shui inclination for design thing going on inside of her (minus the actual feng shui). And, a month or so that vision was cast. She got the new night stand. We bought the new IKEA dresser (which took me 4 hours to put together… an entirely different blog post in and of itself) and all the miscellaneous room add-ons to make it just perfect.

But there was still one thing.

I needed to go through that stinkin’ box of papers and I needed to sort through those old clothes.

I’m sure my wife would agree that I whined and moaned a few times, but in the end, it got done. The room looks great. Really great, in fact.

How many times do we stall and drag our feet with something… not realizing that doing that very thing will lead to beneficial results?

I’m guilty: making the call to connect with a friend, encouraging my wife in areas that interest her, waking up 15 minutes earlier to read the Bible…

A couple years ago, a good friend of mine gave me some wise advice. When I asked him what I should do to help me in this area, he responded with two simple words…

Just act.

What area are you dragging your feet in right now? What do you need to do to “just act”?

My Wife Wrote My Blog Post

Not going to lie… it happens from time to time.

She’ll formulate key sentences and even edit out the paragraphs to make the idea stream flow much smoother. In fact, a couple times she has even come up with the topic and more than half of the post content.

She is an educator by trade, and a journaling maverick by night. She loves to read and scrapbook the lives of our children. She’s an idea-formulating queen. I may generate an idea and type out some notes for a post, but then ask her for supplemental thoughts and some pointers. Next… she’ll do her brilliant copy editing work.

Why is that a beautiful thing?

She is my behind-the-scenes partner who is okay with minimal internet acknowledgements. In the end, she doesn’t want recognition from other people. But… that is not the end. It shouldn’t end there.

She needs appreciation from me.

Not just in a silly blog post.
Not just in a casual e-mail.
Not just in a text.

In any everyday-I appreciate what you do-kind of way.

So, this post if a confession of sorts. While I have the best of intentions at times to publish quality content at least three times a week, sometimes it takes my seriously-better-half to push me to achieve that goal. Even though she wouldn’t seek it out herself, I want to give her the recognition she deserves!

Even more than this blog, however, she encourages me to pursue my dreams, live authentically, and model a faith that it loud and contagious. I love her for that!

Do you bounce ideas of other people? Who inspires you?

Why Surviving May Not Be Enough

“If I can just make it to the end of the day…”

“Things will be better tomorrow…”

From time to time those “survival thoughts” float to the surface of my mind. I often measure success by just surviving another day. Routinely, messages like the following get tossed around in my head…

  • If I can just coast through the conversation without having to deal with conflict, we will get along.
  • If my kids just take a good nap today, we’ll have a peaceful evening tonight.
  • If I can just read the Bible every day this week, I’ll start to develop this spiritual discipline.

This way of living can get tiring… real fast.

On Sunday, my pastor said something during his message that stuck with me all day: “We weren’t meant to just survive.”

Life in Christ brings freedom. I believe that. He also said that its important to remember that freedom involves not just avoiding the bad, but rather running toward the good. Now that is what I want to take hold of.

Jesus… brings abundant life (John 10:10), drives out fear (1 John 4:18), and welcomes all my concerns (Psalm 55:22).

Those are truths that I want to embrace every single day. The abundant life He promises allows me to thrive. The lack of fear in Him translates to more complete confidence. The fact that I don’t need to worry gives me freedom and peace.

Today, I will be running toward the good. I’ll be taking captive God’s truth and seizing the life that Christ promises.

How can you push surviving aside and embrace freedom today?

Kingdom Speak

There are certain people who always seem to speak with candor and verity–no pretense whatsoever. They have an eternal perspective, and their focus is constantly framed in truth.

My buddy Donald is one of those people.

He commented on a post the other day, and said something that really resonated with me the last couple days: he referenced “Kingdom-talk, son-speak”. While I can’t take full-credit for the blog post (my wife influenced pretty much all of it), that comment of Donald’s, in and of itself, was something that got me thinking…

That “Kingdom speak” he was talking about… I want that.

I want my words to be edifying and encouraging. I want to speak truth and grace. I want to communicate love, compassion, and a wholehearted commitment to the Creator.

…whether it’s in the home, at work, or in a blog post.

…not just in my words, thoughts, and actions.

I want my life to radiate this so called “kingdom speak”. Right now.

How has an e-buddy encouraged you? Go encourage someone today!

Living With Intentionality

My wife and I have been talking about a common theme lately: intentionality.

I believe that when we take a look at the life of Jesus, He lived with purpose and intentionality. His purpose was to glorify the Father. Jesus modeled for us a way to live out that purpose in every facet of life.

Some may argue that His life was characterized by sporadic acts of service, random miraculous signs, nomadic travels, and a lot of happenstance. When we dig deeper into the scriptures, we find that quite the opposite is true!

There was a method in which Jesus relayed His messages (ex. His use of parables). He was specific in the choosing of His disciples (ex. investing in the few). Jesus took every moment captive: from when He chose to meet with His father in prayer, to where He chose to break bread and with whom, etc. He lived life with a purpose, and He was intentional in pursuing that purpose.

As children made in the image of God, we exist to bring glory to our heavenly Father. In light of this, how do we fuse that God-given purpose with Christ’s intentionality in areas like relationships, finances, and work? What does it practically look like to glorify God in our relationships (marriage, children, extended family)? Finances? Work?

For me, one example with regards to our finances is embracing the “Give-Save-Live” way of managing our money (give first, then save for the future, then live). Our church communicated this idea a few years back and it resonated quickly and deeply with both my wife and I. Realizing what we have is not really ours to begin with, I want to cultivate a spirit of generosity with what we do have. Through that mindset, aside from tithing, we chose to partner with Compassion, outside missions organizations, and campus ministries–all specific areas that have impacted us at one point in our lives. Although a work-in-progress at times, this is one area that we (as a family) have committed to be intentional in.

In what areas of your life can you live with more intentionality?

A Little About You, A Little About Me

Abraham Chronicles is a little over 6 weeks old (wow!), and I’m loving the small community that is beginning to build around this site. To keep things light today, I wanted to pose ten questions get to know you a little bit more! Feel free to answer any/all of them. I’ll comment first to get things started!

1. What is your name and where are you from?
2. If you could have one song on repeat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
3. Describe your perfect day.
4. What do you value most in other people?
5. What is your favorite TV show of all time? Who is your favorite character?
6. If you could vacation anywhere in the world, where would you go and who would you go with?
7.  What was your favorite toy as a child…. and now?
8. If you could give the world once piece of advice, what would it be?
9. If you could trade places with a Hollywood actor for a year, who would it be?
10. Describe yourself in three words.

Answer away! Looking forward to “getting to know you better”.

 

The Core Message of Music

I am participating in a bloggy-go-round of sorts with Keri at Pop Parables and Donald at Project Mathetes on the topic of Christian and Secular music. Below are some of my thoughts…

Music is a wonderful thing. In fact, God can speak magnificently through the melodic whispers of a singer’s voice, the quiet strum of a guitar, and the rolling beat of a djembe drum. Music soothes and comforts; it speaks and inspires. There is something quite special when you experience God’s quiet whisper through song.

On the flip side, it is also safe to say that not all music glorifies God. Lyrics can also spew hatred and lies. Emotions can be evoked that are contrary to the truth laid out in God’s word. When the layers are peeled back in any song, however, something greater is exposed: a story of redemption or one of destruction.

I believe music, at it’s root, points to a need for God.

I think as Christians we try to compartmentalize things so much that we become judgmental towards the other side of the coin. I was that way growing up: the driving thought behind my snobbery was, “Why listen to secular music when there is always a Christian alternative?”

While that was where I was at in high school, I failed to see that, regardless of the type, music expresses the condition of the heart. No matter the artist, lyric, or beat there is a person on the other side pointing toward a need–a need to experience something greater.

In the end, that is how I want my children to understand music. As a parent, I’m in a place of authority right now to filter what my toddlers listen to (no matter how hard they beg, they are not listening to Young Jeezy). It won’t, however, always be like that. Ultimately, I want to teach them the value of words and ideas, and give them the freedom to discover the joys of both the Christian and Secular genres.

Disclaimer: at the moment my girls’ favorite song is “You Belong To Me” by none other than Taylor Swift. I know what you thinking, “You have two girls and a wife. I could have guessed that in less than two seconds.” True. They also like Chris Tomlin and Phil Wickham. Oh yeah, and J-Biebs. Lord, help me with that one!

What are your favorite bands? In what ways does music inspire you?

Photo credit: Inderjit Singh