friday

Friday Five

1. 10 Lessons I’ve Learned in 10 Years of Blogging. I appreciate how practical this advice is for anyone thinking about or trying out blogging. 

2. Feliz Navidad – cinco people, uno guitar style. 

3. Confessions of a First-Time Sketchnoter. I am always so jealous of people who can sketchnote well. This blogger gives some tips and links to several other helpful articles on learning how to sketchnote (I just learned from this article that it’s like a whole thing. I didn’t realize!). 

4. Speed Dating in the 19th Century. This is such a great idea and my friends and I may be reviving this practice on New Year’s Day this year. 

5. Hope Is Alive. Love this Christmas song by Ellie Holcomb. “He is right here among us. Our God is with us tonight. Into our aching, into our breaking, into our longing to be made whole, Your arms are reaching, your love is holding us close. Into our suffering, into our weeping, into this need we have to be known, Your arms are reaching, your love is holding us close.” That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. 

 

advent love

Advent | Love

My church is doing Advent differently this year than we have in the past and my pastor asked me to write something each week as we read Scripture together. Since I love Advent and enjoy writing about it, I said yes. Feel free to join us each week as we read about Christ, as we reflect on waiting for our Savior, and as we learn to be like Him in our world today.

 

Sometimes I think hope is what Christmas is all about. I get caught up in imagining what hope Jesus was to the people of Israel and what hope He still is for everyone today. In a large part, I guess Advent is about hope. It is about having faith in God’s promises we cannot see. It is about waiting. But I think Christmas is about love. 

After all the years of waiting, of hoping, of having faith, after all the years of his people crying, “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” God decided it was time. He sent His Son, very God Himself, into this world. God, for the first time since the Garden of Eden, walked among His people. God was with them. God is with us. 

Jesus came to earth as a human being—one of us—to fill the chasm standing between sinful humans and the holy God. He is fully God, but He made Himself fully human for us. That is love. There are countless stories of Jesus on earth. We’ll read of some of them this week. He taught, He spoke, He walked, He healed, He touched, tasted, and saw. One of my favorite stories in the Bible is John 11. I could write a book on every small aspect I love about this story, but I’ll stick to what we’re talking about here. 

Jesus had friends on earth and one of them, Lazarus, got sick. L’s sisters sent word to Jesus asking Him to come and heal their brother. They believed that He was fully God and able to heal their brother from whatever it was that he had. Jesus, upon receiving this message, decided to wait a bit longer before going to them. Makes sense, right? No. My favorite moment #1 is when it says in verses 5-6, Jesus loved them so He decided to wait around a few more days before heading their way. But, because He is fully God, He has a plan. He always has. 

Lazarus dies. And they had already buried him and were holding shivah before Jesus made it to their house. The sisters each have a moment with Jesus. Martha tells the God of the universe that if He had just been a little bit earlier, her brother wouldn’t have died. Can’t you just imagine Jesus having to hide a smile, knowing what was about to happen? He tells Martha her brother will rise again and she assumes He means in Heaven. He tells her He is the resurrection and the life and asks if she believes. She affirms that she believes He is the Son of God. 

Then, Jesus talks to Mary. She repeats what Martha said, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She was still weeping and—favorite moment #2—Jesus is moved by her grief and weeps with her. Because He understands. He is God and He knows the end of the story. But He is also human and so He knows human grief. He weeps with Mary. 

Jesus asks that the tomb to be opened. People protest, because it’s been four days of smelly, sweaty earth time and the body has probably begun to smell. Jesus essentially says, “Trust me.” They open the tomb and Jesus prays to His Father, thanking Him for always listening. Then He simply says, “Lazarus, come out.” The God who spoke life into existence in the beginning once again speaks life into Lazarus and he walks out of the tomb. 

Because of this miracle, many Jews believed in Him. Favorite moment #3. 

We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. – Hebrews 4:15-16

I love this story because it so clearly displays who Jesus is. He is God of the universe, and He is human. He understands us because He walked among us. We have a God who is with us. That is amazing. I just want to type it twenty times, because it is unbelievable. His plan—our hope, what we have faith in—was to be with us. From the Garden into eternity. Because He loves us. That is what Christmas is. 

Our reading plan for this week, if you’d like to read along. 

advent love reading

friday

Friday Five

1. 100 Years of Beauty in One Minute. 

2. When Singleness Feels Like a Mess

3. I’m pretty sure someone tweeted this video, but I can’t remember who. Anyway, so good.

4. Spotify’s Year in Music. This is fascinating. You can also see your own year in music. Apparently I like a lot of “acoustic pop” and “shimmer pop.” 

5. Speaking of years in music, here’s a fun video of the hit songs of 2014, all smashed together (I believe the kids call it a mashup [I also call it a mashup. I'm not sure why I called it smashed together earlier or why I feel the need to explain all of this or why I'm still typing.])

BONUS: 

Because this is where you come for all your Lennon and Maisy news and they have a cute Christmas video out:

 

 

 

IMG_8260 (1)

Advent | Hope

My church is doing Advent differently this year than we have in the past and my pastor asked me to write something each week as we read Scripture together. Since I love Advent and enjoy writing about it, I said yes. Feel free to join us each week as we read about Christ, as we reflect on waiting for our Savior, and as we learn to be like Him in our world today. 

This week, we’re going to talk about hope. Hope is one of my favorite things to talk and write about. Couple it with Advent? Whew, I love it. Hope is the perfect follow-up to faith, because they go hand-in-hand. Because we have faith, we can have hope. Hope is a kind of waiting faith. 

Last week’s readings left off at Joseph’s declaration that God was not surprised by anything. He was working everything for our good and His glory. This week, we begin our readings many years after Joseph’s death. The Israelites (descendants of Jacob, aka Israel) have multiplied and are being used as slaves in Egypt because the Egyptians forgot that one time that God used Joseph to save everyone during the famine. I won’t lie: things looked pretty hopeless for God’s people. And then:

During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescure from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

Exodus 2:23-25

This does not mean God had forgotten His promise. The way the Bible uses this term is more like, “God decided now was the time.” God decided that now was the time to rescue His people from slavery. So He did. We’ll read a bit about it this week. 

God rescues them and then He sets up some ground rules. The purpose of these rules is to make it evident that they are His beloved. They are the people of promise. He loves them and He wants the world to know it. This love means God wants what is best for His people. He gives them commandments to keep. If they keep these commandments, they will be counted as righteous. Sounds easy enough, right? It isn’t. For centuries, the Israelites will groan under another kind of slavery—slavery to sin. 

Another thing God established for the Israelites during this time is His presence. God dwelt in the Ark of the Covenant in the tabernacle and then the temple. There were all kinds of rules about this, too, because a most holy God cannot abide next to disobedient, sinful people. They needed a mediator, a priest, to go between them. And even those mediators weren’t perfect. 

Eventually, after wandering in the desert and fighting a bunch of battles and seeing God provide for them over and over and over, the Israelites were in trouble. They were captured and sent into exile, away from their homes, away from their people, and away from the temple (where God dwelt). They once again needed rescue. It was during this time that God spoke through prophets, telling of a Rescuer that would come to His people. 

The exile ended and God’s people were able to go home and rebuild the temple that had been destroyed. But the struggle was not over. There was still sin, still injustice, still idolatry, still death. 

Then God was silent for 400 years. 

This year, perhaps moreso than some others, it is easy to put ourselves in the shoes of the Israelites. It is easy to understand hoplessness. It is easy to wonder where God is in all of the chaos, pain, and anger around us. We know what it is like to hear God’s silence and to ask Him to remember. 

But there is this: Even in the silence and the heartbreak, God’s people remembered His faithfulness. Jeremiah cries out, “Great is Your faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:23). The Psalms recount the times God had been faithful even when the His people were not (Psalm 106). Balaam asks if God has ever made empty promises (Numbers 23:19) and the understood answer is no. 

Hope is remembering God fulfills His promises. During Advent, we remember He fulfilled His greatest promise through Jesus. We remember the anticipation of His first coming and we look with hope to His second. And we sing, 

Long lay the world in sin and error pining, 

‘Til He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, 

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.

 

 

friday

Friday Five

1. This is interesting: The Universal Typeface

2. Here are 10 British Christmas Traditions that may be worth incorporating into your own celebrations.

3. Two articles about Advent (y’all know how much I love Advent, right?) I read this week: 1) Advent Antidote by Micah Fries. “We need to sit at the feet of Jesus every day, drinking in the reminders of his coming.” 2) Arrival by Jessie Buttram. “Jesus, God’s Word, became human, yes, but sometimes I forget how He grew into a man. Years and years removed from the comfort and authority of Heaven so He could walk and laugh and grieve and tire among us, His beloveds, His creation.”

4. A mash-up of The Greatest Christmas Films of All Time

5. Finally, I would be remiss to not talk about what’s happening in America in reaction to Mike Brown and Eric Garner. I don’t have words for this situation, so I’m just going to link to those who do. The common thread is Romans 12:15b, “Weep with those who weep.” Here are some powerful thoughts, words, and music from Trip Lee, Trevin Wax, Dr. Moore, Propaganda (Part 2). 

Advent Faith

Advent | Faith

My church is doing Advent differently this year than we have in the past and my pastor asked me to write something each week as we read Scripture together. Since I love Advent and enjoy writing about it, I said yes. Feel free to join us each week as we read about Christ, as we reflect on waiting for our Savior, and as we learn to be like Him in our world today. 

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:27

After Jesus rose from the dead, He demonstrated to His disciples how all of Scripture pointed to Him. He walked them through hundreds of years of God’s promises, showing how God was faithful to fulfill every promise—through Jesus Himself. 

We begin this Advent season at the beginning. God created the heavens and the earth and formed us in His image. Then we decided it wasn’t enough to be made in God’s image; we wanted to be gods (we still do). So, we disobeyed our Creator. 

Our rebellion and disobedience brought death into the perfect world. This did not catch God by surprise. He had always had a plan (Rev. 13:8). At that point in history, mankind began waiting for Advent. 

This week, we read of the faithful (and the not-always-so faithful). We read of Abraham who believed (Gen. 15:6). We read of the promise God made to His people over and over, that He will bless them and multiply them. We read of those who wrestled with God and those who obeyed without question. We read of faith. 

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. 

Hebrews 11:1-3

Abraham believed without seeing God. He obeyed when God said to move. He trusted when God said He would give him children, in spite of Abraham’s age. Abraham did as God asked when God told him to be circumcised as a sign of God’s promise to him. That took faith, y’all. When God gave Abraham and his wife, Sarah, a son, God asked Abraham to kill him—the one they’d waited on for years. The one who was a sign of God’s faithfulness. Their only child. And Abraham willingly went. As you see in what we read this week, God stopped him from killing Isaac, but Abraham was ready to do it. Why? Because he had faith. He knew his God had a plan and he trusted God’s plan over his own understanding. 

We see this thread of faith and promise hold through Isaac and Jacob. Jacob becomes Israel and has Joseph. Joseph demonstrates faith in a different way. Whereas Abraham was told to go and do and here-is-a-sign a lot, Joseph mostly just waits. He hears from God through dreams and believes that his dreams are promises that will be fulfilled. He is a hard worker—he excels where he is placed. But he was also sold into slavery as a young man and then he spent years in prison. He waited. A lot. God had a plan and he trusted it. He had faith in what he could not see.

There are times in our lives when God may ask us to do something crazy or painful. There are times when He asks us to get uncomfortable. There are times when everything seems to go wrong. There are times when we don’t hear anything and simply must wait. 

Our God, He’s got a plan. He is sovereign, He is good, and He loves us. Even in the crazy, in the pain, in the uncomfortable, when everything seems to go wrong, and in the waiting. He has this thing figured out. Nothing surprises Him and nothing gets past Him. We can trust that. We can have faith in that which is not seen—His promises and His character. 

If you’d like to read along with us, the reading schedule for this week is below. 

Advent Reading Week 1

tweets of the month

Tweets of the Month Club: November

I was thinking that I should probably have some sort of introduction to these things. But I don’t. So, here are my favorite the best tweets from my feed this month. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And the first ever Instagram in the Tweets of the Month Club because I saw it tweeted first and it is pretty much the best thing this month.

friday

Friday Five

1. Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a map detailing what each state is thankful for. It’s fascinating to me that so many people are thankful for YouTube. 

2. “I’m going on a cardboard diet.”

3. If Mindy Quotes from The Mindy Project Were Motivational Posters. Keep these coming, Buzzfeed.

4. This probably took forever to accomplish. 

5. It is officially Christmas season. If you’re local, check out these 100+ places to buy local! I’m also a fan of Batch Nashville, which has a new shop open in the Farmer’s Market.  

 

friday

Friday Five

1. Smile, You’re Speaking Emoji: The Rapid Evolution of a Wordless Tongue. Listen, this is a very long article. That’s why I’m putting it first. I recommend you read for a while, take a break and watch/read the next thing on this list, then go back. As many times as you need. Because, it’s an intriguing article. It covers everything from why we like talking in pictures, to why the poop smiles, to what the shrimp can mean (apparently someone has written an entire essay on the shrimp emoji), to why millennials embrace emojis and what that means about us. And if you see me soon, I will probably be bringing all of this up because it is fascinating.

2. Ready for your first break?  

3. How to Make Your Last Name Plural. PLEASE READ THIS. It is so important that I do not get any Christmas cards from the Smith’s or the Jones’.

4. I know it’s not time for Christmas music (please ignore that tree in the corner). But is this technically Christmas music? It just talks about being cold outside and it IS cold outside right now. This version is adorable and not at all creepy-OMG-did-he-just-roofie-her-drink questionable which I appreciate. 

5. Finally, Christian Girl Instagram. 

 

friday

Friday Five

OK, here we go.
1. Let’s talk about Serial. Here are some theories. And then here is a post that reflects what I’ve been thinking about when I hear people say, “I bet the twist at the end is…” It’s real life.

2. What Should I Do When Prayer Makes My Anxiety Worse?  This article is great for those dealing with anxiety and those who know people dealing with anxiety.

3. This is precious. 

Also? I love that kids are still watching that movie. My sister and I loved it growing up.

4. When Healthy Eating Calls for Treatment. I have erased about 10 sentences regarding how fascinating I find this from various angles. But I’ll just leave it at that—fascinating. Let me know if you’d like to discuss further. I have some thoughts, obviously. 

5. Do you need a Thanksgiving playlist? Of course you do. #NoChristmasMusicYet

BONUS 1:

Phone Tips

 

BONUS 2:

Erin and MeLissa went on tour and all they brought us was this video.