The great unknown where feet may fail…

EJPhotographyOceans

 

I heard this song (Oceans by Hillsong United) for the first time at church on Sunday and it’s stuck with me. I love the words so much. I just wanted to share it here. I think everyone can relate to that feeling of looking out onto a rough part of life when the waves are rough and threatening.

“Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me / You’ve never failed and you won’t start now”

 

Oceans by Hillsong United

http://grooveshark.com/s/Oceans+Where+Feet+May+Fail/54c6H7?src=5

Hope

HopeCoupleJonesfree printable

 

This has been a sad week. So many horrific things happening in our country, a little girl gone missing, the evilness of the acts of Kermit Gosnell and the media’s decision to look the other way, the tragedy in Boston.  It is hard to know how to function with the darkness that is surrounding us right now. Hard to know how to not just sit with my arms tightly around our kids in our home, never letting go.

It was hard for me to leave the house yesterday with my kids. I didn’t want to move. I felt hopeless. So I did the only thing I knew, spent the morning searching through and reading every instance of the word “HOPE” in the Bible. There are a lot. Hope is an important word to the Lord, important enough to repeat in many ways, in many instances…I think so that we know that in all things, even in the darkest moments, if our hope is in Him we will be held, will not be forgotten.

“but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”Isaiah 40:30-31
I’ve been hearing about how even immediately after the bombs in Boston, people were there helping. Courageous people helping others when the danger was still very real. Even in the darkest, most scary moments, they were bright spots of hope.
I’m not smart when it comes to Biblical reasoning or remembering verses or maybe even understanding things the way they are supposed to be understood. But I can fight with everything I’ve got to be a bright spot in a dark place. I will fight and pray to “hold unswervingly to the HOPE” I know and profess because “HE who promised it to me is FAITHFUL” beyond anything we know and understand here. UNFAILINGLY faithful.

Real Beauty

I remember one night back when I was a Junior or Senior in High School.  My girl friends had all gone to a dance at school and came back to my house afterwards to spend the night (I wasn’t into the dances in high school, because I was too cool…or something. Ha.) We were all sitting around watching movies. They were all dolled up in their fancy dresses and pretty hair and make up. And as we were talking, one of the girls said something really hurtful about my friend’s appearance. Her features were different from the mean girl’s features and this was the subject of the ridicule.

I remember sitting there silently…shocked at what had been said, angry, but also too afraid and young to know what to say…to know that I should have stood up and shown the mean girl the door. My dear friend was such a nice girl, she just shrugged off the other girl’s comment and pretended like it didn’t hurt…but I could tell it did. I wished in that moment that my friend knew how beautiful she was and how the differences in her features made her unique, unusual and gorgeous. No, she didn’t look like everyone else…none of us does. It’s the differences in our appearances and our personalities that make life beautiful and interesting.

Now that I have daughters of my own, this is something that I will never stop telling them. I want them to know that they are beautiful exactly as the Lord created them. I want them to know that every personality quirk and every freckle and all of their passions make them unique in this world. That uniqueness shows, so clearly, the hand of their Creator. He took time to carefully craft each part of who they are…making them lovely in every way.

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Sometimes I need a reminder of that for myself too. It can be hard with every pressure to fit the mold of what the world sees as “beauty”. How I look and who I am tells a story of how the Lord has shaped my life and the road that He has taken me down. I wouldn’t change anything about that journey that I love so much so why do I so easily fall into wishing away the physical representation of it?

I hope if you’re reading that you know how special you are just as you are right now, today. The things about you that make you different are what make you unique and interesting and perfect. Em

CoupleJones Beautiful

“Without Love, it means nothing…”

Martin_Luther_King,_Jr.“And so I say to you today, my friends, that you may be able to speak with the tongues of men and angels; you may have the eloquence of articulate speech; but if you have not love, it means nothing. Yes, you may have the gift of prophecy; you may have the gift of scientific prediction and understand the behavior of molecules; you may break into the storehouse of nature and bring forth many new insights; yes, you may ascend to the heights of academic achievement so that you have all knowledge; and you may boast of your great institutions of learning and the boundless extent of your degrees; but if you have not love, all of these mean absolutely nothing. You may even give your goods to feed the poor; you may bestow great gifts to charity; and you may tower high in philanthropy; but if you have not love, your charity means nothing. You may even give your body to be burned and die the death of a martyr, and your spilt blood may be a symbol of honor for generations yet unborn, and thousands may praise you as one of history’s greatest heroes; but if you have not love, your blood was spilt in vain.”

“When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows. Let us realize the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.”
Address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (16 August 1967)

“Tell them not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize, that isn’t important. Tell them not to mention that I have three or four hundred other awards, that’s not important. Tell him not to mention where I went to school.
I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King, Jr., tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right on the war question. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day that I did try in my life to clothe those who were naked. I want you to say, on that day, that I did try, in my life, to visit those who were in prison. I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity.
Yes, if you want to say that I was a drum major, say that I was a drum major for justice; say that I was a drum major for peace; I was a drum major for righteousness. And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. I won’t have the fine and luxurious things of life to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that’s all I want to say.
We all have the drum major instinct. We all want to be important, to surpass others, to achieve distinction, to lead the parade. … And the great issue of life is to harness the drum major instinct. It is a good instinct if you don’t distort it and pervert it. Don’t give it up. Keep feeling the need for being important. Keep feeling the need for being first. But I want you to be the first in love. I want you to be the first in moral excellence. I want you to be the first in generosity.”
Sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta (1968-02-04)

We have been listening to and reading some of Martin Luther King Jr’s speeches over the last day or so – trying to remind ourselves of what we learned in school about this great figure in our nation’s history. There is a common theme in most of his sermons and that is that without love, anything we strive to do is meaningless. That is a powerful thought.

It’s also found in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7

13 If I speak in the languages of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”

Most people have heard MLK Jr’s “I Have a Dream” speech and it is beautiful, but we have really enjoyed looking at more of his lesser known sermons and quotes so that we have a fuller vision of who this man was and what he stood for.  Zac and I have been talking about these statements and how they can be applied to our faith and our every day life. It’s also so interesting that Martin Luther King Jr expressed such humility even as he became such a powerful and outstanding leader. It’s a great day to have these quotes running through our heads and to be thinking about what this man did for our country.

One of my favorite songs right now expresses the same thoughts as Martin Luther King Jr did when he quoted 1 Corinthians 13-17 in his Address to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1967 – The Proof of Your Love by King and Country .

I have been thinking about these verses for a while and made this print for our home to remind me of them. If you would like a visual reminder for your home, you can download it for free at CoupleJones.com. Happy Martin Luther King Jr Day.

LetMyLove

Romans 12 challenge

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Happy Sunday! I thought I’d check in with those of you who are participating in reading Romans 12 every day this month. I’m doing pretty good…I’ll confess I’ve forgotten a few days here and there. Oops! The above passage is one that’s really been sticking with me. EarIier this week, I shared with some friends on Instagram how verses 4-6 have been rolling around in my head. We are not all the same in our ability to minister…we all have different strengths and weaknesses so no one way of ministering is BEST or more CORRECT. Different parts of our physical body accomplish vastly different purposes for our survival and each purpose is extremely important. Even the smallest functioning part would be missed if it is taken away. I need to remember this when I start comparing myself to others. I shouldn’t feel “less than” because my personality and experiences are directed by the Lord so that I will be able to connect with others in a way unique to who I am in Him. So I need to knock it off with all the doubting I do and be confident in how the Lord has made me and in what I can possibly bring to others.

When I’ve talked to some of the others who are reading with us this month, it’s fun to see that they are thinking about the chapter from an entirely different angle. Feel like sharing? Have you been pondering over anything this month? We’d love to hear!

Also, we have been listening to a broadcast online at Truth For Life by Alistair Begg. It’s a four part look at Romans 12 and it’s really good!

http://www.truthforlife.org/broadcasts/2012/01/26/essential-christianity-part-one-a-/

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Nerdy self portraits make all posts awesome, right? Geeking out about this Pyrex beauty I found yesterday : )

She can laugh at the days to come. Proverbs 31:25

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We like to go for drives. Probably because it’s the only time when our three kids are strapped into one place and we can have a conversation. Might not work for all families, I think it depends on the kids – for now, our kids are pretty good in the car. And if they’re too crabby, sometimes we turn up the music, turn up the heater and they get so cozy they can’t help but fall asleep. When we drive, we explore. Go down roads we’ve never been down, back roads, country roads. There is a lot to see in our neck of the woods. We are also HGTV nerds so we love to look at houses and neighborhoods…I don’t know why…we watch a lot of House Hunters. (Have you ever watched? It’s awesome…especially the International version…searching for villas in Tuscany? Ha!)

On this day, we talked about seasons as we drove. How there are some seasons, both in nature and in our lives, that aren’t awesome…they can be cold and bleak. But, in their own way, they can also be beautiful. It’s not an original thought. As we drove in the snow covered country, though, we saw the beauty all around us during a season in our city when a lot of us are not always completely stoked about the weather :) I realized that if I’m always surrounded by my own attitude of complaining about how cold it is, it will be harder for me to see how beautiful this season is and appreciate it for what it is before it’s gone. I think there are a lot of times in life like that too.

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Right now, our house is a little crazy. My days are crazy. There are toys everywhere, more poo to clean up then I care to on a daily basis, hours of uninterrupted sleep are a thing of the past, but this season is beautiful.
If I let myself get bogged down with an attitude of complaint and dwell on the things that make my days hectic or less than glamorous…I miss the beauty of a baby’s belly laugh at my freak out that I have poo on my hands again. And yes, I had poo on my hands but oh how I love that laugh. And it’s worth it. Or when I’ve been up for the 3rd time in the middle of the night with one or more of my kids but the baby just can’t seem to sleep that night without her arms around my neck. I am beyond exhausted, but how long will I get to feel those little arms around my neck and her warm breath in my face? And see her dopey, sleepy smile when she looks up after smacking me in the face in her sleep. There is exhaustion, there is pain even, but there is so much beauty too.

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Our kids are growing faster and faster and faster. I can’t get a handle on it. Every day they are bigger; every day they are more independent. One day soon they won’t want snuggles from me as much. I’ll be forcing them to give me hugs and the opportunity to snuggle with them during naps and bedtimes will be passed. So I’m working hard to see these hectic moments for the beauty that they contain.

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I happened across Proverbs 31:25 the other night when I was going over Proverbs 31 again, I haven’t really noticed it before. It’s been in my head since.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity; She can laugh at the days to come”

This is what I’m thinking: IF I live in every day as much as I can, enjoying the beauty that is there to savor…then the future won’t be as scary because I can know that I did my best to enjoy every phase for what it brought to my life. I WILL mess up and get frustrated. I WILL apologize to my kids for yelling and/or being impatient again. I will need multiple attitude adjustments a day and it will take STRENGTH at times. But I can also try to grow during the more difficult seasons into the person that the Lord is guiding me to be with the situations around me. I can use those experiences to round out who I am and be more prepared for the future ahead of me. I can purposefully look for joy and laughter in all situations. Hopefully, we will forge a family that will grow together through rough times and laugh when possible because we actively look for the joy and beauty where we are at, even when they are not the easiest things to find. So I think I will be praying for this as we continue on our adventure.

CoupleJones.com 11x14 digital print

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11×14 digital print

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