Monday, December 23, 2013

Asking Questions

"There are years that ask questions, and years that answer." -Zora Neale Hurston

BOOM. That's it. If ever there was a quote that speaks to my soul as 2013 quickly comes to a close, this is it. My heart finds a few seconds of rest amongst the busy season in being understood like this.

Have you ever had a year or maybe even a season, no matter how long, that just kept picking at you? Everything that can go wrong does (plus more) and now you're all out of ideas for how to rebuild from ground zero? You're feeling so George Bailey that if one more thing goes wrong you're ready to leave Bedford Falls altogether?


What about those moments lived in the visibly miraculous? You know the kind. The breakthrough you needed so desperately happened, you finally got some good news from the doctor, and God must be on your team today because Chick-fil-a was giving out free breakfast?


The important thing to remember here is that life is lived in the questions and answered in the split-seconds. Let's face it. Questions take a long time to ask, but they grow you. Answers are really great to hear, but how great are they if you haven't even fought the battle?

Let me put it this way. The incarnation of Christ (that is, God coming in the form of man) was and still is everything to the Christian testimony. As people celebrate this Christmas season, we are reminded of Jesus' birth, which is miraculous to say the least. In the same note, Easter calls begs us to remember His death on a cross and subsequent resurrection three days later. But what about the time in between? The love, revelation, persecution, sickness, heartache, and temptation. Don't you think life was asking Jesus some pretty serious questions when he was sweating blood in the Garden of Gethsemane, about to be arrested and killed for His obedience. His victorious life lived in the questions is what makes Him relevant 2,000 years later. God could have saved us with a quick virgin birth, infant death, and resurrection that took away ninety-nine percent of the suffering Jesus endured throughout His life, but He didn't. He chose to send His only son to live a full thirty-three painful, love-filled, miraculous years because He was reaching out to us. The God of the universe touches us in the questions His Son endured; through Jesus.

What I mean to say is, life is hard and Jesus lived it. This year, God allowed things to happen in my own life to ask me questions about who He is and who I thought I was. As awful as it felt to walk through a season like that, I can now see the good in my suffering for Christ's sake in the lives that He touches through my testimony.

The Big Idea: Who will your questions reach out to in 2014?

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Friday, December 13, 2013


Where is yours?

You know what I mean. You step in the door and immediately take off your shoes, put your hair in a ponytail and go straight for the fridge. Its that place where you aren't obligated to perform for anyone and the peanut butter cookies don't count because Christina and Owen Hunt just broke up for the millionth time and Bailey is just too dark and twisty to handle right now. Home is where real life stops and you begin.

Do you have that place? Because lately I haven't been so sure.

Don't get me wrong.

As I type this I sit across the room from my roommate and best friend that is playing The Sims on Playstation 2 five days before her college graduation and I love it. This is all I need right now in this stage of my life. But what I am actually referencing is this place in my heart that longs for something deeper; that place I can be my truest self. As I continue along this road towards healing from some incredibly deep wounds, I can't help but think I've misplaced my home. What do you think?

My old youth pastor and now senior pastor of The Church of Eleven22, Joby Martin, once said that "direction, not intention, determines destination." So I ask you this tonight: Are you headed home? Honestly. Are you headed in the direction of your truest self, the biggest dreams your heart longs for (and was created for) when no one else is around? In other words:

Are you headed towards Jesus? Because He's headed towards you.

As crazy and "When a Stranger Calls" as that sounds, its true. He is an almost debonaire God that's deepest desire is to romance us to capture our full heart and attention so that we can get there. He's got eyes for us in that perfect, hold a stereo above your head outside my window, open the car door, tell me I'm Yours kind of way. The things you love most in this life that aren't full of sin are full of Him and His attempts at drawing you to Himself. So my next question is: Where do you see Him? 

If you ask me, I see Him in the everyday that only He and I seem to notice.

I see Him in the leaves that change in the Fall.

I see Him in the faces of my high school girls.

I see Him in the movie nights with my best friends.

I see Him in my brother becoming His man.

I see Him in the perfect timings, the "that was close"s, and "I'm glad I didn't"s.

I see Him everywhere and He wants that for you too. Reach out and touch Him today in the mundane and I promise your life won't be the same.

Like what you're reading? Follow me on Twitter @smashley355

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Restoration Software

Desolation. Revelation. Restoration.

It happens.

I've often heard that you are either in a storm, coming out of one, or heading straight in to one. I believe it. Sometimes life hands you a solid slice of Clubber Lang from Rocky III and the best anyone can tell you is "Life's tough. Get a helmet."

You know what? That sucks. 

I don't think it should end there. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, offering us a hope and a future.  Have you ever really felt that before? I mean really in such a way that gives you peace even though life just doesn't seem to be on your team? This world is heavily void of the encouragement and love that Christ calls us to in 1 Thessalonians 5:

"Gently encourage the stragglers, and reach out for the exhausted, pulling them to their feet."

This blog is meant to be a place of rest. When you're exhausted and feel like you've been completely kicked to the curb, the answer isn't to pretend that feeling isn't there. Similarly, when you drop something, your first instinct isn't to pretend like it isn't there anymore (unless it's finals week because that trance that happens once every semester is inexplicable). Your first reaction should be to acknowledge what happened (I dropped my glass), determine a solution (I will sweep up the pieces), and move forward. If not, you just end up confused and more hurt because you're stepping on broken glass you "forgot" was there. You want to know how to completely lose yourself? Keep dropping and ignoring the pieces until you've got nothing left but broken glass to give.

That's what I did. But not anymore. Restoration Software is my journey to and through healing.

This is me reaching out to you in love and in truth. I don't know if anyone will really ever read it or take what I have to say to heart, but what I do know is that there is nothing more freeing than understanding who you are, right now.

So, before you leave, I'd like to remind you of a few truths about you:

- You have been created by a Creator that wants to be with you every second of every day.
He loves you.

- Life is tough, but so are you through Christ Jesus (and only Him; don't get crazy) who strengthens you (Phil. 4:13).

- You were meant to feel things like exhaustion, anger, and hurt so that you could feel rested, joyful, and restored. God created you that way.

And just so you know a little more about who you're reading, here are a few truths about myself:

- I'm about Jesus and loving people and second chances.

- I'm about family.

- I'm about Boy Meets World. "They want you to take the rolls!"

- I'm about random roommates becoming best friends.

- I'm not about alliteration.

- I'm about Nashville and the South and sweet tea.

- I'm about the Florida Gators.

- I'm not about people that interrupt in that "Help yourself to the middle of my sentence" kind of way.

- I'm about sweaters in December and shorts in July.

And I'm about reaching people that need Jesus because you are too created, too remarkable, and too legit to quit.

Like what you're reading? Follow me on Twitter @smashley355