Summer clothes are so easy. Even something as simple as a black tank and jean shorts looks fabulous.
It’s that time of year. I’m switching out everything.
First stop, my closet. I’ve packed up my boots and thick sweaters and swapped their spots on my shelves with shorts, sandals and swimsuits. It’s amazing how much less crowded my closet appears—how much lighter and less burdensome my summer clothes look all laid out and feel when they’re on my body. There’s an effortlessness of tossing on a cotton sundress and flip-flops and being ready for the day. There’s a comfort that army shorts and a black tank always look and feel great. If it were warmer in Ohio, I’d dress like this all the time.
Iced coffee with mocha and a little milk is my morning milkshake.
I’ve also given up my morning cup of steaming coffee. Don’t’ worry, it’s not what you think. But in the summer I drink iced coffee with mocha, a little milk, and preferably a green straw. Straws are fun, like a giant sippy cup. And my morning caffeine fix tastes almost like a milkshake for me to savor each morning.
I’ve also traded eating in the kitchen to dining al fresco. Even what I eat transitions in the summer from soups and pastas to salads and grilled shrimp. I am more relaxed on my screened in porch. Woodpeckers lightly tap our trees, searching for their dinner. The warmth of summer seeps into my skin. Last night we got a typical summer evening thunderstorm. The cadence of raindrops on the porch roof lulled my soul. And with a table laden with tomatoes and corn on the cob, alongside wedges of watermelon all from the farmer’s market down the road, my taste buds wake up from their winter slumber.
Fresh watermelon from the farmer's market wakes up my taste buds in the summer.
As I look around my house, my life, and make modifications for summer, I wonder what else I need to trade out. What’s weighing me down? What’s slowing me, crowding me, stifling me? What do I need to say “no” to or get going on? Is there anything I need to change, maybe just for a season? Do I need to wake up earlier or sleep in more often? Is there something in my work out routine that could use a boost – a new playlist? A different trail to run? How about in my family life? Is there someone I need to spend more time with? More quality time?
And in my faith walk? Where does God want me to go this summer? How does He want me to allocate my time, set my priorities? What does He want me to learn? I’ll need to spend some time chatting with Him about that, and then I’ll get back to you.
In the meantime, what changes do you make when the temperatures rise?
Tingling all over with the announcement of the second book in my Status Updates series, It's Over, releasing April 19!
Book cover for the sequel to It's Complicated, It's Over. Photograph by Kelci Alane Photography. Cover Design by Angela Llammas.
HOW CAN YOU MOVE ON WHEN IT'S OVER?
When four college roommates lose pieces of their lives, the pain isolates and the tension rises. Emotions are hard to hide and even harder to tackle. How can the girls move forward, when there is so much pain in letting go? Together, Claire, Kat, Palmer and Hannah learn to lean on God and each other, and through it all they learn loss is a part of life."In It's Over, Laura L. Smith confirms the truth we've been told that we are never alone in the midst of heartache and struggle. In fact, she takes us to a place where we not only get to see, but feel deeply the truth of the fact that every single one of us has a story. Every single one of has experienced pain. But more importantly, that every single one of us has great hope. Laura L. Smith's writing strikes a deep chord in my heart. It makes sense. It's real--and in my opinion, that transparency makes all the difference." ~Holly Starr, Christian recording artist
"Laura Smith speaks for the broken. With a voice that’s warm and true, Laura gives words to those rendered speechless by issues that high school and college girls should never have to deal with—but so many of them do. In writing that’s raw, relevant, and real, Smith goes where few authors dare to go: straight into the heart of today’s young woman." ~Amy Parker, bestselling author of Courageous Teens
"YA author, Laura L. Smith crafts another story that will appeal to all girls, because no one is untouched by heartache in all its forms. The grace Smith extends the four girls in It's Over will touch readers in deep ways, as they follow these characters through some of the worst parts of life. Best of all, they'll cheer when the girls lean on one another and find ways to be thankful in everything. This is a fantastic read, one that will resonate with teens, college girls and their mothers." ~Laura Kurk, author of Glass Girl
Melissa is the main character from my novel addressing eating disorders, Skinny. Click here to order.
I decided to start this blog as a way for me to work out some of the things going on in my head. Like my eating disorder. Somehow it seems less harmful if I say “eating disorder” like my doctor does, instead of ANOREXIA or BULIMIA which sound so vulgar and catastrophic. But the words “eating disorder” also make what’s going on with me sound so sterile and almost insignificant. Which it’s not! Because even though I’m “on the path of recovery”, I’m guessing I’ll never be normal about food again. I can’t look at a cheeseburger or a Cadbury egg without calculating fat grams and calories. I’m not allowed to diet, because it could spin into something ugly. So, even though I look normal, or at least normalish, I’m still eating, but trying to make that not be way too much food or way not enough food. It’s complicated!
Food, dance team, homework, and did I mention my boyfriend? These are some of the things I struggle with.
Then there’s my boyfriend, Beau, who’s not actually my boyfriend because even though he says he likes me and I’m nutso over him, his parents say we can’t date. Well, we couldn’t date during basketball season. You guessed it, he’s a basketball player. As of last weekend, the season is officially over. So, we’re allowed to date again, only we’ve been on this break the last few months, so we don’t know what to do, how to do this dating thing. Sometimes I don’t know how to act around him – like how much of myself to reveal or how cool to try and act. But I’m completely mesmerized by him, and well, it’s a mess.
Melissa holding her Bible for encouragement.
I also need to talk about God, because even though I know He’s always been there for me, I was ignoring Him, and that turned out to be a major mistake. I almost lost my friends, my slot on dance team (which is where I truly feel alive), Beau, everything, because I thought I could do it all by myself. I figured out the hard way, the ultra hard way that I can’t do everything by myself. I’m not even supposed to. God wants me to depend on Him. And, as long as I do my part, which means trying my hardest to be the best Melissa Rollins I can be, and talk to Him about it, He’ll take care of the rest. It sounds easy, and I’m really trying, but some days are harder than others.
So, I have to trust. Trust that I’ll figure out all this stuff about food and boys and God and somehow maintain good grades and keep my dance coach happy. Like I said before, it’s impossible to do it alone. But, I do believe, with God all things are possible.
Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!
A rainbow streaking through the Smoky Mountains helps me slow down and be thankful.
There’s a scene in the movie, The Dead Poet’s Society, where the English teacher at an all boys’ high school asks his students to stand on top of their desks. Some boys pounce toR the flat surface, eager to do something quasi against the rules. Others hesitate. Why? Because they aren’t used to standing on their desks.
Have you ever stood on the top of your desk?
The purpose of the exercise is to get his students to look at things in a new way, to gain a different perspective.
This week of Thanksgiving, I’m doing just that, gaining a different perspective.
I’m on top of Rumbling Bald Mountain in North Carolina. My Internet service is spotty, there isn’t a Starbucks within an hours drive and I have a cold. Nothing serious, but the kind where it feels like my head is stuffed with cotton balls. Everything sounds muffled, tastes a bit bland, smells slightly metallic and my energy is low. But, I’m thankful, well except for the Starbucks part.
I’m out of my routine – off track – on top of my desk.
So, I’m sitting more. Gazing at the sky, listening to the laugher of my family and drinking home brewed coffee.
Since I’ve been on my trip I’ve stared at a rainbow, bright and daring, as if God grabbed a handful of Crayola markers and sliced right through the sky with a burst of color. I’ve gazed at zillions of stars, dazzling bright and white through the vast blackness of night. I’ve watched the sunset, which is more like a swirl of colorful clouds dancing around the mountain peeks. As I write this as 2:33 in the afternoon, I see the moon peeking out early. I’m up so high; I feel like if I stretched just a little further, I could grab it.
“If we want to stay on the road to faith, we have to hit the brakes, pull over to a rest area and stop.” Michael Yaconelli
In my typical day, my busy schedule I am productive and healthy and happy, but if I do the same thing everyday, all the time, I miss out on some of God’s beauty, His gifts. And in the midst of missing His creation, I also miss the chance to say, ‘thanks’.
This year I am thankful for a cold, and a view not from the top of the desk, but from the top of a mountain. Because I have no emails or tweets or Facebook to distract me, because my cold forces me to take things slowly, because I’m up where things look different, I’m gaining a different, deeper perspective. And I am thankful.
How about you? What are you thankful for this year?
Glasses on an eye exam chart, showing in and out of focus letters of the alphabet.
75% of the United States wears either contacts or glasses, including me.
Most of us struggle to see the world we live in more clearly, sharper, brighter.
I had an eye check up last week, you know the kind where they dilate your pupils with drops and everything is blurry for hours and hours afterwards? It was that kind.
Due to the dilation drops, I spent the rest of the day wishing I could see more clearly. I wished my computer screen wasn’t so bright, so I could write the chapter I’d been plotting for my new manuscript. I wished the words in the book I’m reading weren’t so blurry. I wished I could respond to an email, flip through my latest copy of In Style or even get some early Christmas shopping done online. But nothing smaller than a chocolate chip cookie would come into focus.
How often do I wish I could see God’s plan for me, His vision of me, the way He sees the world -- better, sharper, brighter, more in focus? But sometimes His ways are too bright for me to stare into. Sometimes His plans for me are too far away for me to see clearly. Sometimes, I let the lens of the world distort and twist God’s vision, His plans. So, I beg for clarity like the blind men outside of Jericho:
“Master, we want our eyes opened. We want to see!” Deeply moved, Jesus touched their eyes. They had their sight back that very instant, and joined the procession. Matthew 20: 33-34
When I pray, when I actually lean on Him to see how things truly are, I get my sight back. Not always the way I want things to look, like no writing after my eye doctor appointment, even though that’s what I’d planned. But always something amazing, like the wonderful phone call I had with my mom instead.
Lord, I really need to stop right now
Stop now and focus on you
Even with the chaos all around
Stop now and focus on you.
“Focus” by Holly Starr
When friends, magazines, TV shows, work, and other worldly voices try to fill our eyes with drops of advice and expectations and pressures to dilute His view of us, all we have to do is call out, “I want to see!” and everything comes back into focus.
How has God helped you see something more clearly this week?
Everything, Mary De Muth's latest book on faith, releases this week.
Thump. Bump. Thump.
The familiar sound of Howard, my daughter’s pet tortoise, trying to escape his terrarium interrupted my writing. Deciding we both needed a breath of fresh air, I gathered him from his glass home and took him out into the yard. Howard marched over to the mulch to explore. As he rested under my rose bush, my phone rang. “Hi Mom,” I answered.
Mom chatted. I answered, then I scanned for Howard. Where was he? “Me too.” I responded, but my eyes were glued to the ground. Howard is various shades of brown with a tinge of green, perfect camouflage to keep him safe from predators and apparently to keep him hidden from me.
“Sorry, Mom, I have Howard outside and I can’t find him,” I confessed, since I wasn’t engaged in our conversation. We exchanged goodbyes, as I robotically lowered my phone. I really didn’t see him. I’ve lost sight of Howard before, but only for a few seconds, then his bumpy shell always comes back into view. But this time I didn’t see him -- anywhere.
I dropped to my knees and crawled around the flowerbed. “Howard” I called, knowing he couldn’t answer. Why couldn’t he be like a dog or cat who could make a sound, or who might even come to me when I call? Howard could be right next to me and I might not know, or he could be traversing into the woods. I searched the stem of every plant, rummaged through piles of leaves and ran my fingers along the base of the house. Nothing.
What if the whole time I’d been searching the landscaping, Howard was lumbering across the white gravel driveway into the woods? How would I ever find an eight-inch tortoise in the woods? How far could he have gone? That was the question. At full speed, Howard could cover quite a distance, and it had been half an hour. In the woods he could be anywhere. Or what if he’d curled up in his shell to take a snooze? How would I find him if he lay perfectly still?
I know. I know. It’s a tortoise I’m talking about here. But it’s not just a tortoise. Howard is my daughter’s pet, her first true love. She holds him and pets him and feeds him and nurtures him like a mama cares for a baby. My heart raced. Blood pumped to my brain, pulsing, drumming. My adrenaline surged with anxiety. If anything happened to Howard it would crush my daughter. Think of someone you love and the one thing most important to him or her. What if you lost it? That’s how I felt. I didn’t want to be the cause of her pain.
For an hour and a half I did my Katniss Everdeen impersonation. I scanned the driveway for contrast of brown against white. I scoured the yard for bumps or movement. I strained my eyes for signs of Howard. And then I dashed into the woods. Down on all fours I crawled and dug and brushed away tree branches. I’m sure I looked crazy in my running clothes scaling rocky hills and digging through dirt and deteriorating leaves, but I didn’t care. I needed to find Howard for my daughter, for her heart. I pulled out clumps of weeds, hiked down to the creek and back. I strained my ears for the slightest rustle of a leaf, the smallest crunch of a twig and I prayed.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. Matthew 5:4
I begged God to help me find Howard, knowing God knew precisely the spot where Howard was. “Please show me, God!” I pleaded out loud. And as I heard my words, I knew there was more to them than the missing reptile.
“Please show me God!” I implored again. “Please show me what you need me to do. Please show me what I can give up for you.”
And as I begged God to help, He answered, “I don’t’ want you to give up something, one thing. I want you to give me EVERYTHING.”
I’ve been reading Mary De Muth’s new book, Everything, which focuses on dedicating 100% of ourselves to Jesus, but I’ve been in a place for quite a while where I’ve given Him about 80%. I love Jesus. I worship Him. I pray to Him. I trust Him. I read His word, and then I try to take control of things myself.
In the dirt, desperate to find a Russian tortoise, God reminded me, what He really wanted from me, was for me to give it all to Him. Not some, but all.
I crouched, strained, crawled like a cat. I swished another clump of leaves with my fingers. And then I saw it – two brownish, blackish, greenish bumps poked out from a pile of leaves.
“I found him!” I cried, easing Howard out of the earthen hole he’d dug for himself. Covered in dirt Howard was safe. He stretched out his neck and nodded, as if to say, “hello.” I held him up to the heavens, shouting, “Thank you God.”
“Thank you God!” I announced again breaking into sobs. I thanked God for His grace to help me find two brownish bumps in the woods, but even more so, for helping me find myself wrapped in Him and Him living in me 100%, for reminding me that He is my everything.
“God’s heart for us is that we would need Him; we’d lay our heads on His chest like a child needing a daddy after skinning a knee. We cannot experience this kind of relationship with Him if we are proud. We cannot grow to be more like Jesus without brokenness. Ironic, isn’t it? To grow, we give up. We rest. We give God control.” Mary DeMuth Everything
Is Jesus your EVERYTHING? Are you ready for Him to be?
The iPhoto screen on my Mac gave me more insight on God and His plans then on mastering my computer.
“Hello, I’m Paul. Fancy we get out of this rubble and find someplace quieter?” I was greeted at the Apple store by the usual friendly smile in a royal blue t-shirt, this time with a British accent.
“Sounds great,” I nodded, eager to escape the din of crazed shoppers clamoring for iPhone 5s.
Paul led me out of the store, down the escalators and to a small café table on the fringe of the food court. “We seem to get a decent signal here.” He pulled out a chair. “What did you have in mind to work on today?”
“PowerPoint.” I opened my Mac with a soft thud. “ I mean, I know how to use PowerPoint, but I want to learn the cool stuff; the animations, inserting my music into just the right places, you know, to make my presentations more impactful.”
Paul slid his Buddy Holly glasses up his nose and frowned. “Don’t do PowerPoint. That’s a Microsoft product.” He lowered his voice to a whisper, “Even if I knew how I wouldn’t be allowed to train you on it. Apple has a similar product you could purchase, but to be honest, if you’re already utilizing PowerPoint I’d stick with that.”
Speechless, I looked at my computer screen for answers. It felt like an apple had dropped into the pit of my stomach. The smells of French fry grease and teriyaki chicken wafted my way. I drove an hour to get to the Apple store. I’m sitting here, just sitting here now. It will take me another hour to get home. I forfeited my time intentionally to learn a specific skill. Three hours of my time.
I looked up to Paul, pleading, as if my needs could overrule store policy, “When I made the appointment on line, I wrote in the notes section I wanted to train on PowerPoint, that’s why I came.”
Paul launched into a crisp explanation of regulations and compatibility and offered to help me with something else. But I didn’t want help with something else. Maybe because I so desperately wanted my excursion to have some value, or maybe because Paul was from Liverpool, and I have always and always will love the Beatles, or maybe it was a dare, but I challenged, “Okay, Paul. Since I’m here. Show me something spectacular I can do with my Mac.”
“Do you have pictures?” He asked in his brisk accent. “Because I’m a photographer, and you can do some truly brilliant things. Let’s take a look.” Paul clicked on my iPhoto pulling up shots of scenery I’m using as the setting for my new book. As he propelled into a tutorial on adjusting saturation and shadows, goose bumps climbed up my arms. Now, I knew why I was here, why God brought me to this place.
“You’re a photographer?” I sat up in my hard metal chair. “Do you ever shoot in film? Or only digital? Because, I’m an author.” I confessed, something I rarely share with strangers. “And the character in the book I’m writing is a photographer. Do you mind if I ask you some questions?”
And just like that my failed appointment turned into a golden opportunity. Paul and I spent our hour not on PowerPoint, but chatting about filters and tripods and dark rooms. It was the perfect interview I could have never planned. I went to the mall searching for help with my computer skills. Instead, God gave me phrases, and terms and tidbits that only a true photographer would know, adding authenticity and depth to my newest novel.
You can be sure that God will take care of everything you need Philippians 4:19 MSG
And I could tell, oddly, it made Paul’s day too. He glowed as he discussed his passion for photography with me.
God always knows exactly what I need. He always provides, even when I get frustrated and bothered and annoyed, and can’t see what He’s up to. I left the mall warm, content and excited with the sensation of absorbing the sun’s rays on the beach. I was bursting with gratitude and awe for the plans God has for me, and how He brings them to fruition.
What hiccup did you run into today? How do you think God will use it as part of His amazing plan?
Focus - Holly Starr's newest CD releases Tuesday, October 2. Click on the picture to order.
I don't know everything
and I don't have all the answers.
But God knows just what I need,
and He keeps on showing me.
“Don’t Have Love” by Holly Starr
Holly Starr is an up and coming star in the Christian music industry with a God-given voice, soulful songs and a passion for music and Christ that are contagious. To hear her sing is a chance to focus on the Lord’s love. To watch her perform is an opportunity to escape the busyness of daily life and take time to focus on Christ. While on her current tour, I had the blessing to meet and interview Holly.
Laura: You write most of your own songs, what inspires you?
Holly: God is always the reason I write and the purpose I do what I’m doing. But my focus changes all the time. My first CD was based on my relationships. My second CD was more about my relationship with God. My new CD, Focus, has been about my desire to focus on Christ in the midst of every day life. How do I balance family, friendship, ministry, studying and praying and still find focus in Christ?
Laura: So have you found a way to find focus?
Holly: Life on the road is crazy. But, I need to trust God and beat down negative thoughts with the truth, remembering God created me. And since He created me, He knows everything about me. Focusing on that allows me to rest, knowing He’s in control.
Laura: What part of the process is your favorite; the writing, rehearsing, recording, performing?
Holly: As far as the music goes, my favorite part is when the initial idea for a song comes. That moment of, “Oh my gosh I think I’ve found something! I can’t wait to see what it turns into!” But even more than music, I love telling people about Jesus. I’m fulfilled because my concerts are my vehicle to direct people towards God. I love the fact that I get to write these songs, so when I’m on stage, I worship Him to show others how awesome He is.
Laura: Thanks for the tour of your RV. Describe life on the tour bus?
Holly: Smelly at times (laughing). Although challenging, living on the bus with the rest of the band is the best part of my life right now. It’s very small and simple. You can’t take a lot with you. There isn’t room for it. You can’t buy a lot. It makes us live on just enough all the time. The small space is hard sometimes, but it helps the band communicate and work through issues – it’s hard and rewarding. Everything comes from His hand.
Laura: What keeps you energized and sane on the road?
Holly: I need to recognize that I need down time, alone time, and that’s okay. I need personal space to regroup and stay in The Word – to focus. That keeps me sane.
Laura: Your new CD releases October 2. Explain how it came about.
Holly: As soon as Tapestry released in October 2010, I started writing for this new CD. My heart is to write whatever’s going on in my life, then look over the songs and find a theme. All of the forty or so songs I wrote in this time period were about me needing to stop and Focus, the theme rises out of the songs. We picked the ten that worked best together to record.
Laura: What’s your favorite song you’ve ever recorded?
Holly: There are two. Psalm 23 – Obviously I didn’t have anything to do with the lyrics, but my senior year of high school, God was showing me how real the book of God is - that He is literally in those words, that reading the Bible is spending time with The Creator of the Universe. So I knew I wanted to write a song to just scripture, and I opened the Bible to Psalm 23. I started recording different melodies on the computer. Days later, the Hallelujah chorus just popped in my head. God just gave me this song.
You can download Holly's song, “Psalm 23” FREE here: https://www.facebook.com/hollystarrmusiconline/app_190322544333196
I Love You Anyway is the third song I ever wrote. It’s not correctly written according to song writing guidelines. I was just a fourteen year-old farmer’s daughter when I wrote it, but that song has had more ministry than any song I’ve ever written.
Laura: What’s on your iPod?
Holly: I love Shawn McDonald. He’s super real. I love it when people are transparent. I also love Bethany Dillon, Matt Hammitt (lead singer of Sanctus Real), One Republic, Brooke Fraser (part of Hillsong), Jon Foreman (lead singer of Switchfoot), and Chris Tomlin inspires me.
Laura: Do you have any advice for a young musician?
Holly: Serve the best you can and invest yourself where you are. Take the opportunities you have, don’t wish for more. God will open the doors to what He wants you to do. You don’t have to worry about it. He’ll open them. Stay focused on Him.
Book cover of Courageous Teens by Michael Catt and Amy Parker
“We were made to be courageous,” The Casting Crowns belt out in their song. But what does it mean - to be courageous?
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines courage as mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty
My lovely friend, Amy Parker, co-authored the new book, Courageous Teens (
click on the picture to order)
with Michael Catt. In the book they delve into not only what it means to be courageous, but also how to attain that courage. I had the pleasure of interviewing them about the challenge to be courageous.
Laura: Courageous Teens focuses on people in the Bible who displayed great courage when it would have been easier to play it safe. Which one of these characters do you most identify with or are most inspired by? Why?
Michael: I think Daniel, especially when thinking of teenagers and the next generation. They are the future of the church, our future leaders, pastors, and missionaries. We need a generation of Daniels if we are going to take back the culture.
Amy: Esther is such a powerful, inspiring role model for women. Here is an orphaned girl who is able to influence an entire kingdom, to save her people, simply because she was brave enough to stand in courage. When I’m faced with a difficult situation, I can hear Mordecai telling Esther, “Maybe you were chosen for such a time as this.
Laura: In what areas of life do you think teens need to be courageous?
Michael: There is little difference between teens and their parents—it’s the “fear of man” which is “a snare.” Peer pressure, what others think, is it cool, are all subtle forces that cause us to cave in.
Wow. In every area! We don’t realize it when we’re young, but so many decisions made in our teen years shape the rest of our lives. That’s why it is vital to train and educate teens and young adults to make courageous decisions now. From this point forward, they must learn it’s okay—encouraged, actually!—to make choices that dare to go against the grain of popular society.
Laura: But that can be so difficult. How do you advise teens to stay strong and be brave when it seems like everything is against them?
Michael: Read the Word, get their examples from people that God marked out as Courageous.
In Courageous Teens
, we help readers start small, to make one courageous decision today. While Michael and I hope the content will help teens think more courageously in general, we also put that courage to work. After every chapter, we give readers a prompt that helps them decide one thing they can do to apply that chapter’s principle to their lives. Right then and there. By the end of the book, they will have done at least ten courageous actions. Actions become habits. Habits form behavior. Before you know it, you’ve got a whole society of courageous teens, standing strong together, making a better world for us all. “Courage is contagious.”
Laura: The book is divided into four sections; Courageous Faith, Courageous Leadership, Courageous Priorities and Courageous Influence. Which one do you think is most important?
Michael: I don’t know if one is more important than the other. I rather think it’s about the flow. You have to have faith if you are going to be a leader. Leaders set priorities, and those who have faith, lead. Leaders set priorities and are influencers.
I think they all work hand-in-hand, but you’ve got to start with courageous faith. It has to start within you. From there, you’ll build your priorities and lead and influence others. Each part strengthens the other.
Laura: Where do you find courage?
Michael: From The Word of God, from the indwelling Holy Spirit and from reading the biographies of great men.
This book was just as much a reminder for me as it is for anyone who reads it. It’s a daily quest. I know that “perfect love drives out fear
” (1 John 4:18 HCSB). And I know where to find that perfect love. But I have to seek it. Every day. Every day I’m faced with something new, something that scares me, and I have to look perfect love in the face before I have the courage to stand up and step over my fears. I remind myself who and what I’m fighting for. I’m not doing this for me. And I’m not doing this alone.
Joshua 1:9 This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
What one thing can you do today to be Courageous?
Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker Lego figures battling with light sabers.
Is there anyone in your life who makes you angry? You don’t want them to. You wish they wouldn’t. But either because of something they’ve done to you or someone you care about, they make you cringe or cry or both.
The answer for me is yes. There is someone in my life who loved me and betrayed me. Someone who cared for me and emotionally battered me. There is someone who has scarred one of the people I love most in this world, and in turn hurt me. I struggle with this. I pray about this, but I continue to tussle with this relationship. Jesus teaches us to love one another. So I try to continue to love despite the hurt and the fear of being hurt again. Jesus says to forgive someone seven times seventy times. So I try to forgive, but the memories still haunt me and the scars still ache.
While reading Everything by Mary De Muth I came across a passage that challenged me. It made me stop reading and get up and doodle around on Facebook. Not because her words made me think of a friend I needed to touch base with, but because I wasn’t ready to face what these words meant to me.
“In that painful space, we have a choice: punish those who hurt us through control, or lay our hurt at the feet of the One who understands. Our task shouldn’t be punishing the villains in our lives, but enlarging the God who heals us from all wounds.” Mary De Muth
Most of us are familiar with the Star Wars story. In the final episode Luke Skywalker faces his father, Darth Vader. Darth used to be a powerful Jedi fighting for good in the galaxy. Greed for power turned him into an evil leader using “the force” for wickedness. Luke has reason to be angry. Vader’s boss, Emperor Palpatine, urges Luke while watching this confrontation in Return of the Jedi, “Give in to your anger. With each passing moment you make yourself more my servant.”
Sounds like someone else I know. Someone nagging in my head, urging me to cave to anger to make bad choices, hoping I’ll turn away from Christ, the force, which brings me life and love. I find solace and strength in Luke Skywalker’s response.
“Never. I'll never turn to the Dark Side. You've failed, your highness. I am a Jedi.” Luke lowers his blade and chooses love.
Do I have the strength to say it?
“Never. I’ll never turn to the dark side. Satan – you’ve failed. I am a Christian.”
Wow. That feels good. Just typing it here with you today. If you’re feeling gutsy say it out loud.
In Holly Starr’s song, I Love You Anyway, she sings, “There will be times I remember the things that you’ve done to me. But I will choose love and forgive you for everything.”
Words to live by. Choose love.
May God’s force be with you.