Archive | June, 2016

What I’m Reading: Summer Edition

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I have a thing for old-fashioned books – you know, the ones with pages that actually turn. I love the feeling I get when I open to the very first page, and I love savoring the last words of a story that has transported me to a different place and time.

I scribble thoughts in the margin that I don’t ever want to forget, and I dog-ear important pages I want to come back and read again. But, my absolute favorite part of reading is passing books I love on to someone else. Today I’m sharing four books, three of which were passed on to me by people I love and respect.

Rising Strong by Brené Brown 

I was amazed at how much Brené Brown’s message resonated with me. Her relatable style is engaging, and though her findings are strictly research based, many of them are actually biblical. Rising Strong is all about having the courage to get back up after a fall.

Our brains are wired for story, so when we have gaps in our understanding, our brains fill in those gaps with a story, whether the information is true or not. Brené talks about confronting these stories we’ve made up in our heads.

Satan lies in such subtle ways, and sometimes it’s hard to recognize that we’ve believed a lie until the story has gotten away from us. Rising Strong is about taking responsibility for our stories. This book taught me the importance of paying attention to what I’m thinking, feeling, and believing especially when all I want to do is dismiss, deny, or hide.

You can listen to Brené Brown share more about Rising Strong in this interview.

TLS #124: How to Compassionately Set Boundaries in Relationships with Brené Brown

Me Before You by Jojo Moyes 

Me Before You is about life and love and the hope it requires to move past shattered dreams. It’s about losing control and deciding what defines us. It’s about asking ourselves whether it’s possible to protect our own hearts from breaking. It’s about coming to terms with the vows we make and the lies we believe.

I couldn’t read a page of this book without thinking about a dear friend who suffered a similar spinal cord injury from a car accident at the age of 15. Throughout Me Before You, I was enraged and also heartbroken, but I found it to be a very thought-provoking read. I love stories that make me reflect on what I believe and why I believe it.

My belief in Jesus has changed every other belief I hold.

Our decisions in life are wrapped up in what we live for. The pursuit of contentment is the heartbeat that pulses throughout this entire book. Me Before You was a good reminder to continuing sharing with the world how true contentment can only be found in a relationship with Jesus.

This book gave me a renewed passion not to use my opinions to try and change people’s minds, but to use my life to point to Jesus, the only One able to change people’s hearts.

 

Women of the Word: How to Study the Bible with Both Our Hearts and Our Minds by Jen Wilkin 

I read this book a while ago, but a conversation with my daughter led me to read it again. When I was not satisfied with my best response to her question about a well known bible story, I realized that it was a passage of scripture I needed to relearn. As I began to search for clarity for my daughter’s sake, I found myself reaching for Women of the Word.

Jen Wilkin has helped me understand how the Bible is, first and foremost, a book about God, not a book about me. Women of the Word will change the way you view the Bible, challenge you in gracious ways, and give you courage to seek God with all of your heart and mind and soul.

If you are interested in reading along with me and live in the West Houston area, I will be leading a book discussion this month at my church. Email or message me for more details. I’d love to connect with you in person!

 

The White Umbrella: Walking with Survivors of Sex Trafficking by Mary Frances Bowley 

Mary Frances Bowley, the founder and president of Wellspring Living, has carefully and beautifully strung together delicate stories from women who have been victims of sex trafficking. Each story will unravel you in a heart-breaking, but necessary, way.

The color white represents purity, and the umbrella represents protection against the storm. The White Umbrella provides a profound picture of our willingness to stand shoulder to shoulder with survivors of sex trafficking. We all have a place in this fight. If you don’t know where you fit in, reading this book is a perfect place to start.

I love this quote: “You see, it isn’t about what you do or all the excitement of joining a compelling cause. It really is about you and God. He is the ultimate Restorer, and His work never fades… Walking with survivors of sexual abuse and trafficking is a messy and complicated opportunity. But how beautiful is it that God has given us His white umbrella of love so that we can spread it over someone in the storm. When we do that, they too can experience the love, protection, and care that Christ longs to give us all.”

I am not the same after reading this book. My eyes have been opened, and God is answering my “what now?” prayer.

carriedbylove.com/summer-reading

What are you reading this summer? Leave a comment… I’d love to hear from you!

Kelly

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Revolutionary Love

I’m driving home from the preschool, and there is a van in front of me with a logo on its side panel and back windows. The brightly colored arrows – a green one pointing up and a red one pointing down – catch my attention as I switch lanes. It’s a logo for an elevator company. Two seconds later, I hear the radio DJ talking about a new elevator invention in Germany. I chalk it up to coincidence, but for some reason, I find myself googling it when I get home.

My nagging curiosity leads me to something profound.

It turns out that the way we think about elevators is about to change. Cables are being replaced by a new technology that involves magnets. Big deal, right? Well, actually it is.

By the end of 2016, elevators will no longer be limited to going up and down. They will be able to travel any which way, apparently. This technology will revolutionize transportation, as well as our cityscapes. These elevators will open up a whole new dimension for building design.

Here is a snippet of the article: “A new technology has the potential to break elevators free from their vertical prisons, allowing them to move side to side, at an angle, even go outside into a city. German company Thyssenkrupp has developed a new kind of elevator that uses magnetic levitation, or maglev, technology to propel elevator cabins. Called Multi, these elevators do away with the traditional suspension systems that haul a cabin up and down a single shaft. Without cables, an elevator is no longer confined to a single vertical path.” (You can read the full article from CNN Money here.)

If you’re intrigued, watch this quick video to see more:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KUa8M0H9J5o

A statement from the video about change resonates with me. There hasn’t been any relatively new change in this area of technology in over one hundred sixty years. That’s a really long time.

I wonder if this is how people felt about Jesus.

Four hundred years had gone by without any spoken word from God. Centuries had skirted by without any hint of change. Malachi recorded the very last words to God’s people before everything went silent.

“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” Malachi 4:5-6

Then, after four centuries, Matthew 1:1 opens with the genealogy of Jesus. Between these two bookends- the last verse of the Old Testament and the first verse of the New Testament- God was silent, but He was still working. It shouldn’t surprise us that the vehicle He chose for the unfolding of His redemptive plan was family.

www.carriedbylove.com/revolutionary-love

As I read about this new elevator invention and watch new possibilities come into view, I write these words in my journal and underline them three times: A revolution is required. A revolution is required for change to occur, and Jesus was certainly revolutionary.  He didn’t revolutionize how we build our cities; He revolutionized something much more personal.

Jesus revolutionized relationship.

God wants our hearts more than anything, because He wants to revive us. His love alone is big enough and strong enough to revolutionize our marred concept of relationship. Jesus invites us to let Him change the way we live and the way we love.

Think about your most difficult relationship. Maybe you long for change. Maybe you teeter between losing hope and working harder.  Jesus came to restore our broken relationship with the Father and mend every last one of our relationships here on earth.

No relationship is outside God’s redemptive grasp.

Jesus came to propose radical love, extravagant forgiveness, and abundant grace. The love of Jesus has revolutionized this entire world. He initiated a new way to approach God and a new way to live in relationship with others.

The elevator invention is thrilling, because it revolutionizes how we build. But nothing compares to Jesus’ invitation to a relationship that can revolutionize how we live and love. May His revolution of love continue through each of us.

Jesus loves you,

Kelly

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The Space Between Beginning and Completion

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

All good things must begin. Even so, beginnings are hard. The gap between beginning and completion can be daunting. Today doesn’t feel much like the beginning, but I guess in some ways it still is.

In the very beginning, God whispered two words to me. Just two. It’s taken my heart a long while to absorb them. As I held my week old baby girl, the words paper butterfly meant absolutely nothing to me. Not yet anyway. My heart stirred with just as much excitement as wonder, and I tucked those two words away and waited for God to explain Himself.

A few months later, I stood spellbound in the middle of the Cockrell Butterfly Center. I witnessed something sacred as I stood on the other side of thick, clear glass. Vulnerable butterflies fought their way out of dead, crusty casings which had kept them hidden. The struggle seemed familiar somehow.

Wings marked the transformation. Wet and flimsy, they were not at all what I was expecting. I assumed that once the butterflies emerged, they’d be strong enough to fly. I wasn’t expecting frailty or weakness; I was rooting for immediate transformation. After all, The Hungry Caterpillar makes it all look so simple and carefree.  Transformation is a process, a changing of character or nature.

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Transformation is always miraculous, yet never immediate.

The glass window was a mirror that day. God peeled back the veil and invited me to see how His love not only saved me, but is changing me. He demonstrated His love through Jesus, who struggled on my behalf and made it possible for me to escape death. He broke out of the tomb so I could break free from sin’s grip.

Without Jesus, I would still be dead; I would still be in hiding. Jesus gave His life so that I could spend the rest of mine being transformed by His perfect love. I realized that day at the museum a vast expanse of God’s love was left undiscovered in my own heart.

When we made our way in to the butterfly habitat, I was mesmerized by millions of beautiful creatures taking flight. No two seemed alike. Each had its very own flight pattern. It was peaceful and overwhelming all at once.

Only one snatched my breath away. While others flapped and flitted, this butterfly glided effortlessly. Others flashed striking colors, but this one had translucent black and white wings that allowed the sunlight to pour through. I was drawn to the way something greater seemed to carry it along. With outstretched wings, this butterfly rode the wind. No effort, no rush, no trying to be something other than ordinary.

The image of the black and white butterfly lingered long after we loaded the kids back up and drove home. I eventually learned its name. It was no surprise that the creature that mimics paper floating through the air is called a rice paper butterfly or paper kite. God began a conversation that day that led me to this simple discovery: We were made to soar, not strive.

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God never begins something He won’t finish.

This really isn’t even the beginning.  God has always known me, and He’s always known you. The space between beginning and completion can be a struggle. It can be messy, and it can be hard, but Jesus entered that space and dealt with the part we never could.

This in-between space is about discovering the One who thought of you in the very, very beginning. It’s about laying down everything you carry so that love—Love who sacrificed everything—can carry you, in His arms, back to the Father.

Philippians 1:6 says this: He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.  

This good work is the good news, and it existed before time began. It wasn’t just a solution to the world’s sin problem. The good news of Jesus Christ is an ever present expression of the Father’s heart toward you and me.

Jesus carried your burden to the cross; He carried all the shame and all the guilt; He felt the full weight of being separated from God. His last words were, “It is finished.”

Jesus longs to speak these words of completion over our striving, over our trying to be a little bit better than yesterday, over our working our way back to God. He is the only Way back, and He is the only Way out. He is the only Way to new life.

God is telling His story through our simple and fragile lives. Because this story is good and because this story is true, God can be trusted to carry us all the way through completion. I invite you on a journey you won’t ever outgrow. Let’s discover Him together. Let’s rest in the beauty of this truth . . .

We were made to be carried by love.

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