So you can come along

A girl with stories

Helmet Child June 4, 2017

Filed under: Discipleship,Nerdy Thoughts — Amanda Lynn @ 7:31 pm
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Would you consider yourself a protective person? Pretty chill until someone messes with one of your people and then you’re up in arms? About wanting to keep someone from any perceived threat?

Protecting others can be tricky.

I want to tell you a story about a kid who wore a helmet when her parents discovered she was a bit too clumsy, accident, prone curious for the average toddler.

What if they hadn’t put the helmet on her? And instead they had put her in fences of a play pin with only a 4×4 space to explore? Or what if they used a “child safety tether” (read: leash) instead?

There she was, the kid with a helmet whose dad pulled her back from walking in distractedly in front of a few buses. The same kid sneaky watched an episode of E.R. behind the parents (who were totally obsessed) circa 1996. In that episode, they highlighted the genocide in Rwanda and she decided then and there, tears and all, that she was going to have to go to Africa. That same kid’s parents stood at security and hugged her off to India, then to her long-awaited Africa, then to her graduate school where they couldn’t put a helmet on her to keep her from bearing the burdens of others. That same kid was drawn to jobs like emergency rooms, safe houses for abuse victims, crisis hotlines and talk-you-off-the-ledge type jobs.

What if her parents took their job as protector to mean they needed to fence her in, not let her get in over her head, not let her try something she might fail at? How much sheltering is helpful and what role does trust play in all of it?

The bounds of protection in spiritual terms maybe look something like this. Do my spiritual leaders make sure I have a helmet on and then let me free or do they build 4×4 fences and say these are the boundaries in which God is known and experienced.

Is the helmet of salvation enough? What’s the Body’s role in protecting each other? What about under-shepherds?

From the experiences I’ve had and the lives of mentors I bear witness to, I see that sometimes protecting brothers or sisters in Christ means knowing the Lord is just as present in our questions as He is in our answers. The urge to protect another spiritually should always be checked by the Spirit of God and aligned with scripture.

If we aren’t careful, we see members of the Body being crippled and stunted in the name of spiritual protection. The goal cannot be to keep others from any and all suffering. Prayers for safety are much more prolific than are prayers for growth and the glory of God is what I’m sayin’.

The word “suffer” is from the Latin and literally translates ‘to bear under’. Suffering is something that we are promised in scripture if we are His.

 

In this world you will have trouble,

but take heart!

I have overcome the world.

::  John 16:33 ::

 

I don’t know about you, but I have never hand-picked my own genre of suffering. It is out of our control and that alone causes us to suffer for lack of trust. This means we are bearing under that which is out of our control. In this, it’s more than the fact that we can’t take the actual trouble; we can’t seem to handle not having total control of it and/or be self-sufficient. This is the very thing Christ came to redeem. Suffering urges our hearts to surrender so that we can more intimately identify with our Lord gaining wisdom and giving God the glory!

But what if we think protecting other believers means keeping them from all suffering? Too often, we (I) want to rescue others from God-ordained suffering too soon. OR step in an attempt to protect another believer and so direct them away from the opportunity to be stretched in their faith.

Praise God that those who have protected me have not stolen me away from the joy of my suffering and the growing of my faith for fear that I may be hurt in the process. I pray my brothers and sisters in Christ have the same story to tell when it comes to our friendship.

It’s taking part in trusting others to come into my suffering that invites strength in the body. This strength is not like the world’s as it doesn’t toughen up, rather it leaves room for more vulnerability. This is the type of suffering in community that helps me in the fight to keep a soft heart!

 

My clumsiness adventurous spirit hasn’t changed much since I was learning to walk (i.e. I half fell/half walked out of a restaurant earlier this week), but I’m so thankful for physical and spiritual protectors who trust the Spirit’s work in my life. Whose ultimate goal was to see me grow and not to see me safe. I’ll keep that spiritual helmet on and am thankful beyond words for it. Let’s be careful to examine our spiritually protective instincts and remember we have a Father who is sovereign in the details.

 

The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
    in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
    or let your holy one see corruption.

 You make known to me the path of life;
    in your presence there is fullness of joy;
    at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

:: Psalm 16:5-11::

 

Let Me Tell You ‘Bout My Best Friend June 27, 2016

Filed under: Discipleship,His truth,Marriage — Amanda Lynn @ 9:10 pm

Once upon a time, in the year 2004, two girls jumped in a church van and headed toward Miami on an old school Southern Baptist youth mission trip. These girls, 15 and 16 respectively, knew each others’ first names and that was the extent of it.

 

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Their very first picture together, prepared to board the aforementioned church van. Embrace the awkward. She’s on the far left. The other is short & rocking a youth choir t-shirt…”2 Testify”. Bless.

 

On that trip, there were many hours in the van and they forged a friendship based on similarities. What made the friendship work for 12 years and counting are their differences. They stayed friends through high school and even as one headed off to college. E is the girl in the picture below. She was dealing with things lots of teenagers have to face which happen to be far past their maturity level. In the midst of all that, she retained a contagious sense of humor and a joy.

 

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The two girls ended up at the same Southern Baptist university hating when people assumed they had picked the school based on one another. Because, ain’t nobody got the money for that kind of loosey-goosey decision-making. Anyway, it was there that their friendship was stretched and strengthened.

It was also there that E went on one of the school’s mission trips. GO Turkey 2009 was the start of something beautiful. She told her best friend (*spoiler alert* that’s me!) she was paired with this quiet guy who was “so weird” and “would be really awkward to work with.” Turns out, she fell in love with that guy and he was pretty crazy about her from the start. They married in Tennessee during the summer of 2010 when it was approximately the-surface-of-the-sun degrees outside, but they were so superbly happy they didn’t give two figs about the heat. (True story, a mosquito had landed on their officiate’s Bible so he smacked that sucker closed right in the middle of their ceremony…because West Nile.)

 

 

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SO happy!

It was a privilege to stand up in their wedding and witness their lives coming together. There is no way any of us would have been able to predict all the laughter, heartache and victories the Lord would work in and through them in the six years between that day and now. What I can say for certain is the Lord has taught me so much through watching these two lives.

They’ve shown me what it looks like to have long stretches of waiting for answers, for results and to have your faith tested by this daily grind of trusting again and again.

As a single, I get to witness a husband loving his wife straight into the heart of Jesus, pointing her toward grace and repentance because he loves Jesus even more than he loves her. He lays himself down for her in big and small ways. And not to be outdone by a boy, I also get to see a wife loving her husband just a bit less than her love for Christ as she trusts what he says about the Spirit’s leading even when the Spirit leads them into scary, dependent places.

I see a couple who have had opportunity to lose heart in the hard times, who are honest when it sometimes feels unfair. They’ve taught me that asking questions about the timing of children is a tender and sacred place which should be tread lightly upon and respected. They show me the highest calling for a man is not to be husband or father, but to be a disciple who makes disciples and that the highest calling for a woman isn’t to be a wife or mom, but to be a disciple who makes disciples. She will tell you that her husband makes her a better disciple and loves her despite and right through seasons of joy and pain. He’d say he’s no stranger to tough times and can face them with more courage by leaning on her strength.

 

When she could have had a high-paying job in any arena she chose (this girl is uber smart) she chose to serve and not be served. She teaches children in a non-traditional school, some refugees and recently adopted, because she is passionate about righting injustice and seeing marginalized people dignified. He has been working very hard to earn a degree in counseling at a prestigious seminary as he is incredibly invested in the souls of people who are hurting and needing a safe place to be heard and to hear truth.

 

When the Lord called them to live out their hearts for urban ministry, they bought the most amazing old house in a zip code suburbanites find cringe-worthy. They love the children and families of that zip code well. They get to have impromptu Jesus conversations with neighbor kids which start with the kids asking what their tattoos say because…street cred, they have it in spades 😉  #straightouttamemphis

 

If you ask me, I’m happy to tell you, these two have been and will be one of my favorite living gospel stories. They are some of my every day heroes and I couldn’t be more proud to be one of their people.

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So when in St. Louis, head a bit north and find a couple with an adorable puppy who will feed you homemade Thai food while they talk with you about the rich history of St. Louis neighborhoods, community development and ask about what you think about the refugee crisis. I can also promise you that you will leave with a laughing cramp in your side and a sense of genuine encouragement.

 

These folks are the best kind of friends.

Good friends will tell you what they know about God. Best friends will let you in on the questions they’re asking Him. Being present to those unanswered questions is an unparalleled gift as their sister in Christ.

 

messers

 

Resolute: On Being a Yes (Wo)Man November 11, 2015

Filed under: Discipleship,His truth,Uncategorized — Amanda Lynn @ 11:36 pm

Pinky promises are a big deal. Just ask any kid under the age of 13.

My parents raised me to keep my word and to trust other peoples’ word on things. Maybe a little too much. My friends will tell you that I’ll believe anything. (You say gullible, I say trusting.) 🙂  Being a counselor, I sometimes have to call peoples’ bluff, but I hate to do it.

 

The word has somethings to say about how we do or don’t keep our word.

James says to “Let your yes be yes and your no be no.” That way your language won’t be used against you as it could if you made big promises.

Eugene Peterson puts Jesus’ words on this topic in Matthew 5 this way… “Don’t say anything you don’t mean. You only make things worse when you lay down a smoke screen of pious talk, saying, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ and never doing it, or saying, ‘God be with you,’ and not meaning it. You don’t make your words true by embellishing them with religious lace. In making your speech sound more religious, it becomes less true. Just say ‘yes’ and ‘no.’ When you manipulate words to get your own way, you go wrong.”

 

See, our nature of “bearing false witness” shows itself when we feel like we have to add so much emphasis and promise to our words. “All in” and “For sure!” don’t always mean someone is so sure that they’re all invested.

This also shows up when we suspect falsehood in others. Just as making big promises brings the suspicion that we don’t mean to follow through, so we suspect in others.

We’d so hope that the love of the truth in the hearts of those who follow Jesus would show plainly that their simple “yes” and “no” are enough. Our word should be sufficient. Too often, straight answers are hard to come by. Couching something in “christianese” doesn’t make it any easier to swallow. It just makes it more insulting than an honest “yes” or “no”.

 

Resolute: res·o·lute  ˈrezəˌlo͞ot/
adjective: purposeful, determined, and unwavering.
synonyms: tenacious, unshakable, steadfast

 

I resolve not to be a “yes woman”. I resolve to be careful with my promises and to try not to manipulate with my words. I resolve to honor people with what I agree to and to offer the truth even when the answer is “no”. I resolve to love with my words and to keep believing the words of others. I resolve to keep promises and to not make the ones I cannot. I resolve to offer grace and forgiveness when promises fall through.  I resolve because He is my resolve this year and always. And He is faithful!

 

 Know that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps His promises and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations.

:: Deuteronomy 7:9 ::

 

I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse!

The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True…

:: Revelation 19:11 ::

 

 

Modest is Hottest? July 3, 2015

Filed under: Discipleship — Amanda Lynn @ 10:01 pm
Tags: ,

It’s summer time! That means fireworks, weddings galore, camps, baseball and vacations are in full swing.

If you’re a church girl, I don’t have to tell you that one of the buzzwords surrounding warm weather is “modesty”.

We’ve got all sorts of people, especially our most hormonal friends (read teenagers) spending lots of time together over summer. There might even be a pool or a beach involved. This probably conjures up a list of dos and don’ts or the mental image of “I love Jesus” t-shirts over swim suites.

There are countless articles, books and conversations surrounding the issue of modesty and I know my voice could easily get lost in the sea of opinions which range all over the spectrum on a scale of birthday suit to burka.

Sometimes, we follow a set of rules and encourage others to follow such rules that are cultural for the sake of not wanting to rock the boat. Other times, we’re filled with angst and rock that boat in the name of “self-expression” and “freedom”.

Let’s look at what makes modest the hottest after all.

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Clothing shapes our identity. It’s one of the first things we use to help identify people. That’s why jobs issue people uniforms and church groups give out identical t-shirts.We group people by clothing as well. Clothing can communicate your ethnic identity, your gender, your socioeconomic status, religious affiliation or a in-group belonging of any kind. That’s why every 12-year-old HAS to have that one pair of shoes. Our clothing can create divisions too. Just ask the 12-year-old who didn’t get the right shoes or the girls who only visited church once because her hem line got more attention than her face.

Our clothes communicate things to others. If you go to an interview, you wear something that makes you look responsible, professional and hireable. Clothing speaks and it can say all kinds of things like;

  • – I just came from a work out so I obviously am a breakfast-eating, responsible person
  • -I only listen to bands you’ve never heard of
  • -I am a professional
  • -I dressed myself for preschool today, thank you very much!
  • -Ironically, I spend a lot of money so I can look like I don’t care at all
  • -I belong to this Greek organization
  • -Hey!!!! Look at me! Look at me! Looooook!!!
  • -I play volleyball for the lady panthers
  • -I really, super love me some Christian t-shirts!

Since our clothes speak, we need to ask, are they telling the truth?

For those who hear the modesty talk the loudest and the most often….girls…What do your clothes say that you value more, attention or respect? These are important questions to ask ourselves when we get dressed in the morning.

Unfortunately, of all the numbers in the Bible, there isn’t one for the appropriate length of an inseam in girl’s shorts. The Word does give us an awful lot about clothing ourselves and what to put on. Let’s focus on what is clearly stated and let that be our guide.

Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves,

all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

 :: 1 Peter 5:5

Let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.

:: Romans: 13:12-14

 

Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

:: Colossians 3:12

Above all, clotheyourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

:: Colossians 3:14

You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within,

the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God.

:: 1 Peter 3:4

 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

:: Galatians 3:27

Be dressed for service and keep your lamps burning,

:: Luke 12:35

I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness.

I am like a bridegroom dressed for his wedding or a bride with her jewels.

:: Isaiah 61:10

And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.

:: Revelation 21:2

There it is. These are our guide for presenting ourselves, for finding our identity and our way of communicating ourselves to others. We first put on Christ and He clothes us in His salvation and righteousness as His Bride. Then, since He gave us His armor of light to put on, we are ready to dress for service, having the beauty of Christ that is a gentle and meek spirit. We put on His humility and clothe ourselves in His kindness, love, patience and tenderhearted mercy.


What we choose to put on has great power, not only over us, but over what we communicate to others. God extends to us the greatest exchange of all time. Because Christ put on flesh to be God with us, we can put on Christ! We put Him on and he is our modesty. Modesty, then, is so much more than what we lack in clothing. It is a sin of the sin-sick heart that puts self before God. In the Greek, it is kósmos. This word translates as “being in right order” and as “treating the face as a whole”. We can reason that the opposite of modesty, immodesty, is being out-of-order and is not treating the whole. Because an immodest heart puts self before God and results in being treated as parts rather than the beautiful whole of your person, your whole face.

And you know what our Modesty says about seeing your whole face? He says,

My dove is hiding behind the rocks, behind an outcrop on the cliff. Let me see your face;

let me hear your voice. For your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.

:: Song of Songs 2:14

Put Him first, get things in right order and let Him see your whole face.

Since we are clothed in Christ, we have the opportunity to share Him with others. His robe of righteousness is big enough for everyone to get covered (Isaiah 6:1) In Matthew 25, Christ tells his followers to clothe others and in so doing, we clothe Christ himself. In this instruction, we are to extend dignity and compassion to others just as Christ has done for us! In meekness and loving-kindness, we dress for service and offer the greatest thing we can to others, we offer them our Modesty.

Souls, put on your glorious dress,

Waking into righteousness;

Clothed with Christ aspire to shine,

Radiance he of light divine.

:: Charles Wesley ::

 

Influencers 101 May 13, 2013

Filed under: Discipleship,Gender — Amanda Lynn @ 12:09 am

On this Mother’s Day, it only seems appropriate to acknowledge those women who’ve influenced my life and shown me life.

Of the many weddings I’ve had the privilege to stand up in, some have honored their “spiritual mothers”; those women who have made a way to the Throne ahead of them. The Bride made sure her friends, family and guests knew she was grateful for those women who spurred her on toward love and good works.

So, in this space, on this day…I acknowledge one of those women in my life.

It didn’t start with me though.

She knew my mom long before she knew me. Mom, who found herself a “surprise mom” to, not one but two little girls in two years…She and this amazing lady, nearly two decades her senior, worked nursery together as Mom did all she could to soak up the wisdom sitting next to her in the other rocking chair. 

 

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Twenty plus years later, here we are.

This woman is a constant in my life and has been as far back as I can remember.

She knew me as a blonde 5-year-old girl…all 2 feet of me.

She’s been there with patience and care as she teaches through words and actions what it means to love Jesus.

And it never fails that I’ll be greeted with a hug and a “How ya doin’ girly?”

 

 

She’s real. Authentic….

Some of us are suffocating, thirsty for want of the cold water of real community. We’re trying really hard – after all, we keep showing up to ladies’ events, but we leave feeling just a bit empty. Yes, there is a time for cupcake decorating and how-to’s on inexpensive decorating tips, but if all we wanted was a place to learn domesticated prowess and to commiserate on relationship troubles we could find that in “worldy” groups. What we really want sometimes is something of substance, something challenging.

She knows this well. She knows how I love to wrestle with the questions that don’t have a one-paragraph answer blank in a “women’s” study guide. And she’s able to provide those kind of questions on the fly.

She knows I can sometimes  often disagree with the surfacey stuff and like to disturb the peace of my fellow first-worlders on behalf of justice, truth, beauty and love…and she agrees!

She knows I love to hear the prophetic voice of women in our church…So she speaks.

 

 
For years now, I’ve been able to see that women can offer strategic leadership, influence, wisdom and yes, even teaching.  She makes me want to give and serve and make a difference. She makes me want to read books and talk theology and current events and to wrestle with status quo.

 

 

She prays…Oh does she pray!

It is by prayer that we couple the powers of heaven to our helplessness … and make the impossible possible.

:: O. Hallesby ::

This lady as a prayer room her husband built that faces the sunrise…”because he wants me to see the new mercies that come with the mornings”.

 

 

And in all of this, she listens, she worships and she intercedes for all her little sisters. She weeps with those who weep and rejoices over truth and justice. 

She is brave in vulnerability. She says, That’s part of this relationship, missy. I may say things you don’t like, you might say things I don’t like, but that’s what makes it real.”

She knows that to lead women to be honest and transparent she must be the first to live out that truth without falsehood or carefully crafted illusions.

She follows the Pastor’s direction. She stands warmly in his corner, whomever he may be, supporting him in prayer and in the prudence of her words. This is also true in the way that our time is not intended to be something separate from his leadership as to lend toward the isolated “island” of “women’s ministry”, but it is to augment his teaching, to test it all and hold fast to the good.

 

 

 

She is bold in her conviction that there is no time for fear in this life. It is a thief and a liar and she will point that out sooner than I can make excuses for it.

She has singularity in her focus. The pull in every direction is one thing that women, especially church women, can identify with. It’s a “fixer” thing. So many things demand attention until nothing really gets the focus it deserves. My mentor shows me that Jesus is the focus. He gives clarity and prioritizes for us.

She calls a spade a spade. Sin is not something she minces her words about. Being Christ-like and gracious does not mean that sin is ignored. On the contrary, sin is called out and spoken about in the loving truth of the Gospel. The “pet sins’ that women “struggle” with (or allow to control their hearts and lives) like manipulation, anxiety, worry, gossip and bitterness. In this, she models the bold trust of repentance.

And sometimes, she asks me things like, If you were who you are slowly becoming, a woman who is fully secure in your identity in Christ and finding approval in Him alone…Let’s imagine that’s who you are. How would she respond in this situation?”

Yep. I get gems like that all the time.

Blessed.

 

 

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So then, with her example and the example set forth by so many other matriarchs of the faith, let’s be a community of women, gathered together to live more whole-hearted, to sharpen, challenge, love and inspire one another and then we’ll send each other back out into our worlds bearing the mandate given to our girl Eve…to be fruitful, to bring life into the dark places; speak life in the hard places.

Let’s rise to the questions of our time. 

Let’s speak to the injustices in our world.

Let’s move the mountains of fear and intimidation.

Let’s take down the walls that separate and divide.

Let us be women who know Love and act in Love.

Let’s stop waiting for permission and get on with the work that God has called us to.

No waiting for permission to be brave, or to live boldly full of Love and gentleness or to step out into the broad, open places {He brought me out into a broad place, He rescued me, because He delighted in me. :: Ps18:19}

With that, here are…

my amatuer thoughts on mentoring
1. Don’t be so picky. No lady is perfect. If they have lived longer – they have things to add to your life.

2. It’s alright to gain different things from different people. Let’s keep several relationships which invest in our lives in different ways- no one mentor will be the end all to all needs and subjects.

3. Respect their time. We don’t meet every week- we meet every time we can- usually spontaneously…and over coffee.

4. Don’t be proud. We need the generation above us even if we may have different values. Instead of looking down on that, let it intrigue us to uncover the source of unshared values.

5. Take initiative. I’m not sure one woman has ever asked to mentor me.

And I realize we’re all so super busy, but this is a priority. I need people who have perspective that is bigger than mine. I need people who inspire and believe in me, but not so much so that they won’t beat me up when I get arrogant or out of line.

Now pick up the phone and call the first woman who comes to mind. We can bridge the generational gap… let’s start with coffee.