Death All Around Us

leaf-fall-down

The season’s colors are at their peak right now. Looking outside, I see hues of brown, yellow, red, and green. The trees are laced with beauty, their branches offset by a cloudless, blue sky. It just cannot get any prettier. And lucky us, we have a view of Paris Mt right out our front windows.

But to put a dark spin on things, the Fall season is basically death all around us. Ok…ok. Maybe that mental image is taking it a little far, but my point is still valid. During Fall, everything is dying. The foliage is losing its luscious green color because it cannot survive the changing weather.

When I think about this aspect, it changes the way I view the season. Instead of just focusing on the colors and beauty, I am forced to consider the reality that all things die (poor little leaf-ys). Everything on this earth (including the world itself) will pass away.

We are fearful of death. For many, just the word “death” is uncomfortable. It’s a topic some folks won’t even let their brains dwell on. This is natural, because originally death wasn’t a part of God’s design. We weren’t created to die. We were created to live in perfect fellowship with our Heavenly Father forever. But alas, sin entered the world and wrecked that perfection (thankfully though, the Lord already had a plan to redeem us back and allow us to escape eternal death).

My opinion is that we don’t think about death enough. Here are four reasons we should allow ourselves to dwell on our personal end:

  1. Death is inevitable. You can’t get out of it.
  2. Death is sobering. Walk through a graveyard sometime. It will sober you. We can get big-headed about ourselves and our plans. We think we have “our whole lives ahead of us” like we are the ones who get to make that decision. But life is fleeting. It can be taken away from us in an instance. It is good to keep that in mind. That should help shape the way we deal with people, our sin, and the Lord. Eternity can come in a moment and we need to be ready for it. If you do not have a personal relationship with Jesus, then death is something you REALLY need to think about. Psalm 146:3-4 says, “Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.”
  3. Death is encouraging. If you take even two minutes to ponder the things happening in our world right now, the weight is almost unbearable. Life is incredibly painful, but we can rejoice in our future hope! “This, too, shall pass.” One day, we will be able to leave our troubles behind us and rise to glory with our heavenly Father who dispels all fear, sorrow, and pain (if we believe in Jesus Christ as the Son of God and sacrifice for our sins).
  4. Death is not final. We are promised a resurrection. The saved and unsaved will rise again. God’s children will rise to eternal life in heaven with Christ, but those who have rejected Him will rise to second death of eternal separation from Him. “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53).

So, when you look at the dying leaves, allow yourself to recognize death. Humble yourself in its reality.

Writing Is a Lot Like Working Out

Writing is a lot like working out. The less you do it, the harder it is. The longer your muscles go without exercise, the more challenging it is to drag yourself into a gym, or the great outdoors…or out of bed. Once you’re in the habit though? It feels great! You even want to exercise because without it you feel like a real-life version of Jabba the Hut.

Writing is exactly like that. The longer I go without tapping into the writing section of my cranium (whichever part that is?), the harder! It’s like my brain cells are slowly dying off up there.

I maintained a blog when I was in high school. Sometimes I posted 5 times a week. It was so fun and pushed me to think critically and communicate clearly. When I was writing that often, the words just poured out of me. I didn’t even have to think about them. I sat down and already knew exactly what I wanted to say. And the topics! I never ran out of ideas. They sprang into my mind at the most random times: washing the dishes, taking a shower, driving…etc.

But that’s because I wrote all the time. On a blog. In a journal. Noveling. Nanowrimo-ing.

Then I went to Bible School. The only things I had time to write there were passage commentaries, book summaries (so. many. summaries.), and counseling scenarios.

Here I am, post graduation (post marriage, post kid), and this is my, let’s see, 4th attempt to restart a blog? That number sounds about right. The problem is always material. I could not find enough material, so I deleted them.

The other problem (and perhaps the bigger one) is confidence. In a web overflowing with amazing bloggers, I think, “What do I have that’s new? Why would anyone listen to me?” Intimidated by the unknown, I deleted them.

It is ridiculously frustrating to fail so many times. But alas, here I am yet again. Amid this cycle of creating and deleting, the Lord has pressed the burden to write even deeper in my heart. All this time I’ve known, well, that I’m supposed to be writing.

This time I have a whole page full of topics. Thank you, Lord, for that. I discovered long ago I couldn’t come up with topics on my own.

If you are reading this, thank you. Know that you are fueling my passion and supporting me as I finally say, “Yes, Lord.”

Identity Semi-Crisis

This memory has never left me.

My mom and dad dropped a piece of news on me; they were considering moving. Of course to a kid who is totally involved in her school, friends, and church, that news was a total buzz-kill. More than a buzz-kill. In fact, I remember sobbing at even the thought. Granted they were thinking about it. But no, just the thought was awful enough for me. What about my friends? Surely, the world would stop turning if I moved away from them.

My dad said something that irked me and that was, perhaps, a bit insensitive. “Honey, the truth is, the moment you graduate, you won’t talk to many of those people ever again.”

WHAAAAA?

I vehemently protested such a grotesque understatement of my deep, binding friendships. How dare he minimize such prized relationships?

But I gotta hand it to dad, he was right on this one. I’ve walked through the last….oh, lets see, 4 and 1/2 years with only a very few old high school buddies. I was the first in my graduating class to move to a different state (TN – SC) and despite my good intentions and even desires, I’m not in ongoing contact with any of them.

My point? Life happens and people change. Boy, do they! Looking back on the past few years of my life, it is evident that I have changed (On that note, we can all join in a resounding amen).

You want to hear what has happened since I graduated high school in 2012? I moved away from home to work at summer camp, went straight to Bible School, spent two years studying God’s Word (incredible, by the way), endured endless family drama and changes, met my guy, left my church to work with youth at another church, got engaged, got married, and had a baby.

It has been a busy 4 years.

Maybe that doesn’t sound like a lot to you. But, in my opinion, these are a lot of life milestones all lumped into a few years. It has forced me to change and adapt very quickly. So quickly that I have spent the last 24 hours contemplating, “who am I really?” I’m not the girl from United Christian Academy in 2012. No sign of her (thank God). I’m not the student from the E.I. School of Biblical Training. I’m not the camp counselor bouncing around with kids every summer.

I’m a wife. I’m a mom. A daughter, sister, homemaker, cook, Plexus ambassador, confident phone-call-maker, avid meal planner, capsule wardrobe freak, weird-idea-haver, never-finish-a-book reader…

But even those things… one day I’m going to grow out of them, too.

I had a conversation with my husband the other day. I was feeling discouraged because of this very topic. He lovingly encouraged me to do activities I like to do and to pursue the things that fuel my personality. More importantly though, he pointed me to Christ.

He said, “I see what your saying, but I also believe some of your thinking is wrong…”

Geez, I hate being wrong.

“You have Christ in you, Ash.”

I’m such a dummy. Of course.

Christ is in me. Praise God! If I choose to identify myself based on who I am and what I do, I will always be confused. Heck, if I did that, I basically amount to a paci go-getter!

Christ defines me. And herein this truth lies freedom.

Yes, times are weird right now and I feel like I’m going through an adult awkward stage. But the truth that will ground me is this: 1 John 3:1 “See what great love the Father has lavished on us that we should be children of God. And that is what we are!”

On that note, this is my first blog post in an eternity. Care to join me on this awkward journey? I’d love the readership and encouragement.