Love songs, Dave Barnes, and Christianity

okay, I’ll just go ahead and admit it – I’m a hopeless romantic. so there’s your disclaimer for this post – it’s gonna be a little sappy.

The problem with being both a Christian and a hopeless romantic is that so many love songs (and love stories, for that matter) mischaracterize the role of love, romance, and relationships/marriage in our lives… they focus on sensuality or place far too much value on the feelings that accompany relationships instead of what commitment really means. Maybe I’m thinking about this because I’ve got six or seven wedding invitations sitting on my desk. Or maybe I’m thinking about it because one of the invites is to my little sister’s wedding.

Regardless, I have discovered an artist whose songs I like A LOT. I recently went to a Dave Barnes concert and loved the lyrics in his songs… they seem to convey love and adoration without giving the focus of his affection a position that doesn’t belong to her.  His songs keep playing on repeat in my head (thanks to Karen) and I think they’re beautiful. The third one below, I Have and Always Will, is the perfect wedding song and it’s definitely my favorite. I’ll have to play it for Courtney once I get to Texas!

God Gave Me You – Dave Barnes
I’ve been a walking heartache
I’ve made a mess of me
The person that I’ve been lately
Ain’t who I wanna be

But you stay here right beside me
Watch as the storm goes through
And I need you

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you

There’s more here than what were seeing
A divine conspiracy
That you, an angel lovely
Could somehow fall for me
You’ll always be love’s great martyr
Ill be the flattered fool
and I need you

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you

On my own I’m only
Half of what I could be
I can’t do without you
We are stitched together
And what love has tethered
I pray we never undo

God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
God gave me you for the ups and downs
God gave me you for the days of doubt
For when I think I’ve lost my way
There are no words here left to say, it’s true
God gave me you, gave me you.
Gave me you.

Crazyboutya – Dave Barnes

You don’t have to tell me, girl, I know it
And hallelujah is coming out my mouth
Cause you’re my girl and girl I don’t deserve you
But deserving love is not what you’re about
Im gonna tell the whole wide world about you
Tell them what you mean to me
Ooh, Im crazy bout ya, baby, and I just can’t help it
Some might call it selfish
I need you by my side
I’m crazy bout ya baby
And there’s no denying
No use even trying
I need you by my side
All the girls in the papers and the movies
And the covers of the dirty magazines
They got nothing on your beauty, pretty baby
Cause you’re everything that they wish they could be
Im gonna tell the whole wide world about you
And tell them what you mean to me
Ooh, Im crazy bout ya, baby, and I just can’t help it
Some might call it selfish
But I need you to myself
Ooh, I’m crazy bout ya baby
And there’s no denying
No use even trying
I need you by my side

I Have and Always Will – Dave Barnes

Darling, we’re both scared
But where love is, fear won’t tread
All of these friends here agree
We’re right where we should be
Underneath all your white
My Lady, My Love, My Bride
In your darkest hours
Will I love you still
I have and I always will
I guess it’s because I just do
Following heaven’s clues
This is a big mystery
How I found, you found me
Underneath all your white
My Lady, My Love, My Bride
In your darkest hours
Will I love you still
I have and I always will
And you are changing now
Your part of me somehow
And I will never be alone
In your darkest hours
Well I love you still
I have and I always will
I have and I always will

But seriously. Read the lyrics. And also, always remember this:

“Most foundationally, marriage is the doing of God. And ultimately, marriage is the display of God. It displays the covenant-keeping love between Christ and his people to the world in a way that no other event or institution does. Marriage, therefore, is not mainly about being in love. It’s mainly about telling the truth with our lives. And staying married is not about staying in love. It is about keeping covenant and putting the glory of Christ’s covenant-keeping love on display. If you are married, this is why. If you hope to be, this should be your dream.” (John Piper, This Momentary Marriage)

And…… done! Normal posts shall resume shortly.

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Faithful in little, faithful in much

In the last month God has made it increasingly clear to me that much is accomplished in the drudgery of the day-to-day. Even the most mundane of tasks is worthwhile, all because our lives and our actions matter. Every word, every action, even every thought matters. Everything we do is eternal.

I love the Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-29 (here are verses 14-23, but it’s all really good):

“For it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”  

One of the neatest experiences is to realize that consistenly being faithful in little has a dramatic impact on your friends, family, and coworkers. The truth is that so often we become influencers and transform environments without even realizing that we’ve done so. When you’re faithful with little when it’s hard and when you don’t understand, and when you think no one sees, you yourself are transformed, sanctified, and made more like Christ. And that doesn’t go unnoticed.

I think sometimes we feel like we’re out in the desert.We feel without hope of achieving our dreams and sometimes we even begin to feel forgotten. We wonder why God’s put our dreams on hold. But let me say this – if I’ve learned nothing else in the last several years, I have learned that faithfulness in the desert leads to an incredible reward. God never, ever puts our dreams on hold, even when we’re asked to wait.

I love this verse and I’ve held on to it since the fall:

“But these things I plan won’t happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.” Habakkuk 2:3

So, my encouragement to you today – if you feel stuck in the wrong job or the wrong state, or even if you don’t know where God is calling you or what His plans for you are – be faithful right now. Be faithful where you are. Look for opportunities to love and influence the people you see daily. The rewards you will reap as you eventually move from one season to another will be tremendous.

The challenge for me as I transition is to continue pushing through, working hard, and remaining faithful as I see the end approaching rapidly.

Headbands and little girls

Last Saturday Josh took me out for a day of shopping and to dinner. I’m a quality time girl and so it was definitely one of the best date days we’ve had in awhile. Who can beat something like 13 hours of quality time and all in one day?

He lets me drag him into all the stores and usually doesn’t let me buy very much so it’s a win/win! On Saturday I introduced him to Claire’s and tried on a bunch of headbands and he introduced me to the iPad.

Anyway, on to the point of this story (and the point of the story is not what I did, but how God can use us to love people):

At Claire’s I bought two super cute headbands, one with a large white flower and one with a white bow. They’re definitely my favorite accessory this summer, by far. I really felt like i should buy two, and not just because they were “buy one, get one half off.” We left the mall after spending more time in the Apple store than anywhere else and headed to the Olive Garden for dinner (yum!).

The place was packed but as I walked in and stood in line to give the hostess my name, two little girls caught my eye. They were both staring at me and smiling and one grabbed her mom’s hand and I saw her mouth “Mommy, look at her flower!” I was wearing a hot pink flower headband and I loved that she liked it too (compliments, even from children, make anyone feel good). After I put my name in for a table, I saw the little girls walking over to me, hand in hand. The youngest, wearing a pale yellow gingham dress, looked up at me and said, “I want you to know that I really like your flower!”

They were absolutely adorable and I was so impressed that they were brave enough to approach a complete stranger. I glanced at their parents and smiled, bent down and thanked the girls, shook their hands and introduced myself, and then told them I liked their dresses. Wynn and Maddie were their names, and they were precious. We exchanged other compliments – I liked their names and they thought mine was pretty too. I smiled at their mom again, told the girls that they had made my day, and then walked back over to Josh and told him I’d like to adopt kids someday (these girls were obviously adopted), and then our name was called and it was time to head to our table.

I waved goodbye to Maddie and Wynn, but before I had even gotten to our table I knew exactly why I had bought two headbands at the mall. I sat down, told Josh I needed to go back to the girls, grabbed my Claire’s bag, and headed back to the front of the restaurant. The whole family was surprised to see me again and I got to experience, yet again, the truth of Acts 20:35: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

I pulled the headbands out of the bag and said, “Girls, I just went shopping and bought these, and I really feel like you’re supposed to have them.” Simultaneously their eyes lit up and their mom’s eyes filled with tears. Their smiles were HUGE!

I support a Compassion Child, but all too often I think I count that as my “giving” and continue on in my more than comfortable lifestyle. Those headbands were easily replaceable but Maddie and Wynn were all I could think about all night. The joy of giving them that gift was exponentially larger than merely the purchase of something I had wanted and it prompted a lot of questions in my heart.

How often do we miss an opportunity to give? How often do I retain what I could so easily give to someone else? And why do I not give more often? It’s one of the best ways to live as Christ and it so easily reminds us that all we have is not our own. And I leave you with these same questions – how long has it been since you gave something to someone you didn’t know or performed a random act of kindness? Have you ever mowed your neighbor’s lawn or bought your best friend’s dinner?

Character Transformation

You know how in every good book there’s a scene that sets the course for the rest of the story and the character is strengthened? It’s a climax in the story. It’s the moment we remember forever and the instant we associate with certain characters or specific seasons or journeys. Something is won or lost and sometimes a battle still rages, but the growth, maturity, and transformation gained make every moment of the journey worthwhile.

I was sitting in rush hour traffic on May 14th, and it occurred to me that that another one of those moments, a scene in my own life that I’d been anxiously awaiting for so long, was happening. Right then. I was headed in to the Capitol, but on my way in to work that morning I had a phone call to make. A phone call that would change almost everything about my life as I’ve known it for the last three years. A phone call to accept a job in full-time ministry.

I was deluged by a thousand memories and at least a thousand prayers requesting this very position. Every single thing I stood to lose fought for consideration as well. I remembered every prayer and every tear and every promise I’ve made to God for the last three years as I’ve asked Him to open the door for me to go into ministry. The choice was so obvious that there wasn’t even a choice to make at all. It was everything I’d hoped for, everything I’d dreamed of, and everything I’d asked God for. I made the call and as I did, I remembered this quote from Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years:

If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story, the protagonist is transformed. He’s a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn’t change, the story hasn’t happened yet. And if story is derived from real life, if story is just condensed version of life then life itself may be designed to change us so that we evolve from one kind of person to another. “

I hung up the phone and with tears streaming down my cheeks I realized that I’d gotten even more than I’d asked for. I got the dream job, but even more importantly than that… I changed along the way. The journey was just as important as the destination. The dream didn’t change even though I waited for years for God’s promise to take place. Instead, He changed me. He used those hopes and dreams to transform my character, illuminate my weaknesses and unbelief, and shape me to the point that He could use me in the way He felt was best.

The two quotes below are also by Donald Miller and are from his book Through Painted Deserts.

It is always the simple things that change our lives. And these things never happen when you are looking for them to happen. Life will reveal answers at the pace life wishes to do so. You feel like running, but life is on a stroll. This is how God does things.”

“No, life cannot be understood flat on a page. It has to be lived; a person has to get out of his head, has to fall in love, has to memorize poems, has to jump off bridges into rivers, has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath… We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?”

I’ve learned that Miller is right. There’s no way to wrap my mind around God’s timing. Life is about learning to trust God, after all. And in this season, instead of learning to be patient in waiting, I’m going to learn to jump off of bridges, learn to venture out, learn to be daring and brave. I can already tell that He’s going to teach me to adapt rapidly instead of wait with hope. It’s going to be fast-paced, insane, and everything I’ve dreamed of. But I can guarantee that the transformation will never stop. And I hope there will be so many moments of transformation that I can recount to you along the way.