Today’s post, “Our Advocate” is on OurCityOnAHill. Please click on the picture or link below!
What does it mean to be pro-life?
I believe LIFE comes from God and is so amazing, so vast and such a miracle that it could never be squeezed down or boxed into a political party. Life is made in the image of God and that includes the unborn, and also those who have been born; each man and woman, black, white, rich, poor, marginalized, elite, foreign, oppressed, strong, disabled, young and old. Each is hand-stitched together in love to reflect the glory of our Creator. He loves us so much that He knows the hairs on our heads, Republican and Democrat alike, and He sent His son to die for each one of us. We are all worthy of dignity, extravagant love, and amazing grace, despite how we’ve all fallen short.
Webster defines life as “the period of time when a person is alive.” But the word Jesus uses in John 10:10 when he says he has come to give life is the Greek word Zoe which means, “every living soul” and “of the absolute fullness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, a life active and vigorous, and to last forever.”
This is the kind of life I want to be for. It’s the kind of life I’ve received by the grace and love of Jesus Christ, despite how short I’ve fallen of His glory and how much I’ve broken the law. The amazing love that has been shown to me by Him and by graceful people who follow Him is what has transformed my life. It is only by His grace that I can say I am pro-life.
I don’t personally believe the front lines of life and death are at the polls where the laws will be changed. I believe the law is important, but agree with Jesus that it is powerless to transform. “For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending His own son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering.” Romans 8:3.
When it comes to the unborn, I believe the battle of life and death lies in the hearts of pregnant women who are alone and afraid, and who probably feel judged. I believe being pro life means sitting face to face with her and telling her that her life matters, that she is made in the image of God and that He promises her a hope and a future. It’s telling her she is forgiven for her sins and worthy of extravagant love, that she is a daughter, that she belongs, that God will never leave her or forsake her or her child, and that she does not have to be ashamed or afraid. It is being for her as well as her child. It is holding her hand and sharing a love that is stronger than any law and has the power to transform, redeem and save.
I believe being pro-life includes the life of the woman who has had an abortion. One out of three women have walked this unthinkable road and are silently suffering in shame through the election dialogue. If you are pro life, you are for her, a sinner in desperate need of Truth and grace. Jesus has come for her too, to cleanse her from all unrighteousness and set her free from the shackles of shame.
Being pro-life is so much more than being anti-abortion. It is seeing life as a gift from God and seeing all people of all races, ethnicities, religions, sinful backgrounds and social classes as being made in His image and worthy of being treated with dignity. It’s giving a voice to the voiceless, the vulnerable and the marginalized, both born and unborn. I have been sad to see how human life has been debated in this election in a divisive, hurtful and confusing way. Life refers to all life, comes from God alone and cannot be contained by a political party or candidate. The zoe life Jesus offers is way too big for that!
Each American on both sides is a gift from God, worthy of dignity and grace. We all desperately desire to be understood, heard, valued and loved now more than ever. It’s time to move on with life.
My family has loved the Olympics this summer, and we have been so inspired to see the athletes walk out their amazing God-given talent with courage. Dreams become reality in these gold medal moments, but we know it is the countless, private, unseen hours of training that have brought these athletes to this place of victory.
This week I felt like I was watching the Olympics when I saw Beth Moore speak in Nashville. After all these years, that woman is more on fire with the Holy Spirit than I have ever seen. She is living out her calling with courage and walking in victory and freedom. She is completely alive and surrendered to God’s purpose for her. What would it be like if we were all surrendered to God’s anointing, power and purpose in our lives? We wouldn’t look like Beth Moore, but in our own unique ways, our lives would look like victory and our gifts would be shining for His glory.
And how that happens is something Beth not only talked about, but walked out. This woman has been speaking to people for decades. After all these years, she’s probably used to it, right? She could probably see a crowd of 10,000 women and say, “I got this.” But as the worship music stopped and the lights went out, Beth, who I (being a bit star struck) was watching from my second row seat, went onto the stage and privately kneeled. While the introduction movie played on the screen in the dark room, she stayed on her knees. This was not meant for anyone to see, but it spoke louder to me than any word she said. When the lights came on, she was up and full of holy fire. She began by saying she was completely inadequate, and that she was completely dependent on God to show up. I believed her and believed He would.
Just like the Olympians, it’s those private hours of training that pave the path to victory. For believers, it’s those private moments in prayer and Scripture that equip us. Beth encouraged us never to give that up or depend on other people to do the praying or the digging into God’s word for us. When we blaze the path, the territory is ours.
I went on this trip to Nashville with four amazing women. They have been following Jesus for many years and each have that special sparkle about them.
When my alarm went off at 5:45a for a 6:45 departure, I was shocked to see one friend showered and headed to the lobby with her Bible and notebook. Another was already dressed, sitting down to journal, read and pray. Here we were about to hear from one of the most gifted teachers of our day, but these ladies knew nothing could replace hearing directly from the Source. No extra hour of sleep was going to change that. These small deposits of time, one day at a time, have a powerful cumulative effect.
And when pressure comes, tragedy strikes, lies attack, a decision needs to be made or life hands us a microphone, what’s inside of us comes out. And what’s inside of us is grown in those private moments with God. Every single day.
What came out of two friends on the trip was the desire to serve. They graciously volunteered to sit in the overflow room at the conference even though they blessed us with the tickets. They had already seen Beth live and wanted to give the rest of us the good seats. We were elated to be so close to the stage, and even more elated to hear that they unexpectedly got to meet Beth in the overflow room. Not only that, but she prayed over one of them! Isn’t it amazing how God blesses us when we bless others? “The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” (Matthew 23:11-12) As Beth said, “there is no limit to what God will do with someone who has the humility to handle it.”
She encouraged us that as believers in Jesus we are anointed with the Holy Spirit of the Living God. We have not just received “an anointing” but the real, live anointing of Jesus Christ. And the Holy Spirit gives us power to live out our calling. As believers, we are all called. She encouraged us that our calling is between us and God, and no one else. No one else can put it on us or work it out in us. And when we are true to work out our unique calling with God through the power of the Holy Spirit, we will never have to be jealous of anyone else. Isn’t that awesome!? We will never have to look to someone and want what they have if we are if we are surrendered to God’s unique plan in our life.
Beth said in this day of tweeting, she is still committed to deep teaching, and was faithful to deliver that. But there were three great one-liners I have to share:
“Jesus is the best thing that has ever made me crazy!”
“When our passion exceeds our fear, we can do anything in Jesus’ name.”
“If you don’t believe in a God of wonders, WHAT BIBLE ARE YOU READING?!”
Can I get an “Amen”?!
My takeaway from Nashville was more than the teaching. It was the living proof of what I saw behind the scenes. I heard many words from the stage and from my companions, but it was the private prayers I glimpsed that I heard the loudest. What leads to victory is not striving, but surrender. That gold is ours to receive, and it’s found in that time on our knees, in that time in the Word expectant to find treasure, in that time of quiet when we can hear that call, and in those moments of trust when we follow that voice. For anyone who walks in victory, it’s in those private moments of training when the gold is won. Those private moments of prayer and Scripture are what bring to life the champion…that Champion who lives in us.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV)
“But you have an anointing from the Holy One…” (1John 2:20 NIV).
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. (1 Cor 9:24-26 NLT)
“For You meet him with the blessings of good things; You set a crown of fine gold on his head.” (Psalm 21:3 ESV)
There is something special about small towns; something wholesome about them that makes me nostalgic. Our family spent the 4th of July in White Pine, Tennessee, the small town where Will’s mom grew up just west of the Smoky Mountains. Her dad was the town doctor who delivered hundreds of babies. If people couldn’t pay him with money, they paid him in chickens. Everybody knew him. He recently passed away, but we got to ride in his old, red truck in the town parade. We threw candy to the onlookers as we made our way up Main Street behind fire trucks and horses. It seemed like the whole town came out no matter what their age. There was nowhere else anyone wanted to be.
I did not grow up in a small town, but there is something about them that feels like home. My mom grew up in Lumberton, North Carolina and her dad had a farm. When I was a little girl, he would bring me baby chicks to play with. Holidays visiting our relatives in Eastern, NC included lots of simple fun, delicious food and big hugs from people who had all the time in the world to hear how we were doing.
Interestingly, my mom and Will’s mom were born eight days apart the same year and both grew up on Walnut Street. Neither of them still live in their small towns, but they have both passed their roots down to us in values and invaluable childhood memories.
And now, when we pass through small towns in rural Alabama on the way down to the gulf coast, we are refreshed to see old homes with flags hanging proudly from big porches, neighbors talking together outside, country churches with humble exteriors, locally owned restaurants that close on Sundays, and the feeling that people really know and depend on each other. If these people were to get into trouble, somebody is gonna know and somebody is gonna care. The world’s trendsetters will pass right by these little towns, but they don’t seem to mind. The things that time changes don’t change here.
Time slows down and you can breathe in the deep smells of summer grass and home cooking. There’s not much fancy, but nobody seems to miss it. The crazy of the fast-paced world hasn’t gotten here yet. People matter. God matters. Sitting face-to-face and talking to each other matters. And, I am reminded as I pass through small towns, that I matter too. And away from the hustle and bustle, there is a desire in me to play outside, eat home-cooked soul food, have people know my name, enjoy long conversations in person and feel the bigness of God under a starlit sky away from city lights.
We spent the afternoon of the 4th at the family farm house. The kids looked at horses, caught butterflies in plastic cups, ran through wide open grassy space with no fear of nearby cars, and never thought for a minute about watching tv. They marveled at tractors and four wheelers and entertained the adults on the wrap-around porch.
As I reflected on my appreciation for small towns, wondering what it is about them that is sad to leave at the end of the day, my mind went to Jesus. Jesus, the King of all Kings, the One who will be the center of the new city in all its splendor, the One who made the entire universe…was born in a small town. He wasn’t born in the center of commerce or where the royalty carried on, or a place that was noteworthy on the map at the time, but in the small town of Bethlehem. As a young boy, he lived in Nazareth, a place so insignificant that it made people question his claim as the Messiah. It was a small town…and knowing that makes me wonder if his childhood memories were like the ones my kids made this week. He may have felt the same nostalgic feeling traveling through small towns once he was older. Maybe they reminded him of home and his family.
There is just something about small towns, something special that happens in these places off the beaten trail, something I deeply appreciate that maybe…isn’t so small.
This is a piece I wrote a couple of years ago. I have never put it on my blog, mainly because I didn’t want to offend anyone who has chosen a different path. I am a strong believer that women should encourage one another as much as we possibly can and not judge each other. I also believe everyone has good, thoughtful reasons for the path they choose and that God moves people in different ways. Whatever your lane, go Momma! But, in light of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share this to honor my own Mom. It’s called “Just Like Her.”
When I grow up I want to be…just like him. My dad was my hero. The teacher asked in 6th grade what we wanted to be and I wrote, “a banker.” He wore a suit, he worked in a very tall building, he did important things with important people and he carried a very cool briefcase.
Mom was the wind beneath my wings. She cheered me on and shared my dreams. She was so smart, but all she offered seemed to stay within the four walls of our home. Things were different for me. I could be anything, and I wanted to be…just like him.
And so I was. Not at a bank, but in another business. She cheered me on with pride. She was my biggest fan. My dreams were coming true. I was important with an important salary.
Then, one day I saw my child’s face looking up at me. One who said, “Help me, Momma.” How could such a tiny baby need so much? Oh sweet child, you will fit into my life just fine. And others can help while Mama does the things Mama needs to do. And even though she couldn’t talk, her eyes screamed, “I want YOU, Mama. You are the most important…to me.”
The world said one thing, my heart said another. So many options made things confusing. And even Mom, my great source of wisdom, couldn’t empathize. The wind beneath my wings never knew what it felt like to fly over her babies looking up from a distance.
And during this time, I met Him. I began to understand His grace and who He says I am in Christ. He says “if any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault and it will be given to you.” (James 1:5) Every woman has her own story, calling and wisdom. I am simply sharing mine. And wisdom came to me in the Gospel of Mark. Jesus says, “the son of man did not come to be served but to serve.” (Mark 10:45) I thought of Jesus, the servant King. I thought of how he bent low to be lifted high. How he washed feet. How he said the last would be first. How the world didn’t understand him. How he stopped in his tracks for children and said “let them come to me and do not hinder them.” (Mark 10:14) And then, I thought about her.
I thought about the long waits in the doctor’s offices, the lunch box notes, the face in the carpool line that brought me comfort even when I was too old to admit it. If something was wrong, she knew…because she was always there. I thought of the endless laundry, the talks and giggles in the kitchen, the messes, the times in the yard picking flowers. She taught me how to pump my legs on the swings, how to count, how to read…she made the mundane fun too, and deep down we found comfort knowing there was nowhere else she’d rather be.
I thought of all the homework, the rides in the van, the questions she answered. She was the referee, the encourager, the cook, the nurse, the photographer, the counselor, the teacher. She was so smart; she taught me everything. It’s no wonder Dad made it look so fun. He had her, the one tirelessly working behind the scenes. She was the invisible glue who held our family together.
My dad has so honorably worked hard to provide for us and accomplished much. I am so proud of him and the way he has led our family. But the bank building, like my office, will go on just fine when he leaves. And she has poured her life into me, life that will go forward to generations that will long outlive her. Her invisible job has produced fruit that will last well beyond her time. The world may overlook her, but she is most important…to me. Dad was my hero but God has opened my eyes that there were two heroes in my home.
In trying to fly, I found a higher calling. I can be anything, and I want to be…just like her.
See the Oak Tree inside the Acorn
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
A friend sent me a devotion about raising boys and one of the points was to “see the oak tree inside the acorn.” As the mother of this little boy who is two-years old, I deeply cherish those words.
John is such a little acorn! A small, silly, precious child full of potential and wonder. But God sees him as an oak tree. God doesn’t live in time and sees John as an eternal being, made in His image. Inside this little child is a strong man, a protector, a provider, a warrior, a pillar of righteousness. Inside this little child is a potential father and generations of others to come.
Ever since I read that devotion, I have done my best to call forth the oak tree inside my little acorn. When he fights invisible sea monsters with his swords, I tell him he is strong and courageous, and that he will be a warrior one day. When he pushes curious onlookers away from his baby sister, even when they are twice his size, I tell him he is brave and that God has made him a protector. When he plays his Elmo guitar and spins and dances, I tell him he has a natural heart for worship and I can see him leading it one day. When he hits his older sister and doesn’t share, I tell him that’s not who he is in Christ. When I pray for John, I pray for him as a husband and a father…I try to speak to the oak tree inside my little acorn.
Has anyone ever seen potential or spoken life into you? Words can be very powerful. I’ll never forget the first time someone asked me to lead a Bible study. I remember it so well. She called on the phone and I know exactly the road I was driving on in my car. She told me she thought I was a light and a leader. Who me? I can’t lead people in a Bible study! Do you know what kind of mistakes I’ve made in my life? I am absolutely unworthy!
But she saw something else. She saw who God saw. She reminded me that I am a new creation, much like the acorn that is no longer an acorn when it becomes a tree. She spoke HIS words of life into me and reminded me of who I am in Christ; righteous, forgiven and new…a display of His splendor. He used her to paint a picture of who He saw and then she asked if I would step out in agreement.
I said yes. I have been blessed to lead several Bible studies since then. My branches have reached higher and my roots have grown deeper than I could have ever imagined…and I am still growing! But without her words, I may have never experienced the fullness of life He put inside me.
Once someone sees the oak tree in you and shows you what it looks like, God opens your eyes to see it in others. A few months ago, I was in a similar conversation. Only this time, I was on the other end. It makes me smile from ear to ear to see a friend leading her first Bible study this fall. She is not unworthy, and God is using her to speak life into others each week. When we speak potential into others, it has life that goes forward beyond what we can see. Inside each acorn is an oak tree, and inside each oak tree is an entire forest.
Each time we speak, we can either advance the kingdom of life or the kingdom of death. God spoke the entire universe into existence with His words. Eve was led to eat the apple by words from the enemy. Condemning words have the power to destroy us while life-giving words have the power to revive us. They free us to become who we really are to our Maker.
The enemy works hard to snuff out potential, but the Body of Christ illuminates it. Jesus sees and calls forth the saint in the sinner, the righteous in the wicked, the Paul in the Saul, the lovely in the unlovely, the life in the death, the perfect in the imperfect, the spotless bride in the unfaithful, the royal in the common, the eternal in the now.
It is a miracle who we become in Christ. As Sally Lloyd-Jones writes, “a whole forest is inside a single acorn. And the Bible says because of Jesus, all the riches of God – all of heaven’s vast resources, all the power in the universe – have come to live inside you.”
We can’t fathom what a tiny acorn is capable of becoming until we see the oak tree. And we can’t fathom who we are capable of becoming until we look at Jesus…and believe His words.
Father, thank you for transforming us into new creations with your grace. Open our eyes to see the oak tree of righteousness in all of your children. Lead us to use our words to speak abundant life and call forth your Kingdom.
He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3 NIV)
I spend my days with my three children who are all under five. While I teach them about life, it is amazing and humbling how much they actually teach me. The world says they are growing up to become like my husband and me, but Jesus says that we need to change and become like them. So, what does that look like?
One of the definitions of change is to “turn back again.” Here are a few of my favorite observations of my kids, and each is an area I could use some change in. I thought I’d share in hopes that we can all “turn back again” and become more like them.
Live only in the present.
Understand heaven and cheer when people go.
Rush to help people in need.
Ask God for big things.
Sing and dance freely.
Engage everyone in their path.
Receive gifts with joy, no matter what they can offer in return.
Play. A lot.
Are unashamedly needy.
Have tender hearts.
Are quick to cry.
Are taken with the wonder of creation.
Are always learning.
Build relationships in person.
Don’t hide their feelings.
Never sugar coat the truth, but always tell it sweetly.
Don’t mind getting dirty.
Create and build things with their own hands.
Are quick to say I’m sorry.
Are quick to forgive. And forget.
Use their imaginations.
Dream really big.
Say those dreams out loud.
Need to be held.
Know they are royalty.
Fight bad guys with swords.
Speak up when things aren’t right.
Want to change the world.
Hate being in the dark alone.
Love to talk about their boo boos and scars.
Have a better day when they obey.
Can be in real danger when they don’t.
Are captivated by Bible stories.
Believe in miracles.
See their Daddy as their main source of protection.
Miss their Daddy if they don’t see him for a day.
Believe everything their Daddy says.
Will tell you what makes them special.
Laugh. Even when it’s inappropriate.
See each day as a great adventure.
Are blind to status.
See through to the heart.
Talk about their fears.
Try new things.
Don’t take themselves too seriously.
Are entertained on a dime.
Find their identity in their family
Love till it hurts.
Know Jesus as their friend.
The world often overlooks them, but they are the ones Jesus stopped for. If he came to this town, he would seek them out. If he came to my home, he would let them crawl on his lap. They are his special friends. They recognize him and are not afraid to drop everything and run to him exactly as they are!
Father, thank you for the gift of children. Open our eyes to see the ones around us like You do and love them well. Help us learn from them and become more like them. Thank you for adopting us as Your children through the perfect sacrifice of Jesus, who laid down his life for us. Thank You that no matter how old we are, we will always be children to You, and You will always be our Perfect Daddy. Thanks for making us new every morning. Give us child-like faith to receive the Kingdom of heaven today.
Will and I have been married for ten years this week!
Here is a picture of us leaving our wedding on June 25th, 2005. We were 24 years old and just out of college. We thought we were so grown up, but I look back at this picture and see two happy kids with a lot to learn about life, God and each other.
That car was driving us into a future that held great plans…down a road we had mapped out to include living in Charlotte, North Carolina, having definitely no more than two children and spending our 10 year anniversary in Italy. It was a nice and tidy plan.
I smile because we spent our ten year anniversary in a town I’d never even seen on a map as a bride, but is now home: Huntsville, Alabama. Italy is a far away thought as we spend this month welcoming our third precious child into the world!
Welcome Anna Scarborough Taylor!
The plan hasn’t exactly worked out how we expected. Over the past ten years, I think of the many ways God has changed our hearts and our plans. And it’s the unexpected turns that I treasure the most. Something has become of those two people who said “I do”. And it adds up to much more than the sum of the pictures on the highlight reel. The beautiful stuff has happened behind the camera as well…on the inside of both of us through the moments we’d never put on the highlight reel. When asked if I would take Will to be my lawful wedded husband ten years ago, I said, “I will”. But that has included many more “I wills” that have not been as expected:
- I will hear the overwhelming words from my husband, “I need you to leave everything you know and love behind and move with me.” This would come when the economy collapsed and he had an opportunity for a new career hundreds of miles away from everything familiar. I will leave it all holding onto only two things: him and the hope of an unknown future.
- I will learn that the world doesn’t revolve around my happiness and goals. I will learn to sacrifice for another person, and it will be hard. It will also be worth it.
- I will fall on my knees and cry out to God, “I need you. I can’t do this my way any more.” I will see Him answer me. I will become a new creation, alongside my husband.
- I will say the words I never expected to say, “I need you. I can’t do this without you.” They would come to Will as he arrived home to a tired and bleary-eyed wife fighting back tears and holding out a colicky baby as a two year old stormed the house. I will come to the end of myself and my own sufficiency and learn how to depend on others.
- I will see someone else sacrifice their happiness for me. It will be hard to ask for help and hard to accept it, but it will be worth it. God reminds each of us, we are worthy of great sacrifice.
- I will find the courage and humility to say the words “ I am sorry. Will you please forgive me?”
- I will be given the strength to say the equally challenging response, “Yes I forgive you.” Letting go will be worth it.
- I will receive the love of Christ, which is nothing I can earn or lose. This love will enable me to receive myself. Not the person I may want to be, but the unique person God has made me to be. And with His help, I will also receive my husband. Not as the person I may want him to be or the male version of me, but the amazing person God made him to be. I will receive my children. Not as people who are to make me proud or be just like Will and me, but as gifts from the Lord.
- I will work on my marriage. We will keep dating. We will invest our savings in taking trips with just the two of us. We will invest in marriage counseling, not just to fix problems, but to keep the communication lines open and healthy. We will take the time to pray together, take the time to listen and take the time to know what’s on each other’s hearts.
Here’s a picture of us on our 10-year anniversary last night. I am so thankful for the man by my side!
So much has changed since 2005, but we have stuck together through it all, molding and growing into a unified team. On our date last night, the hostess asked us what the secret to ten years was and Will quickly and confidently replied, “Jesus”.
We don’t know where we’re headed, but we’ve learned we are not in control. We will keep learning every day to trust the One who is. He loves us in a way that changes everything, and through this love, He shows us how to love each other. He doesn’t always deliver what we expect in life but one thing is for sure; He offers more than we could ask or imagine.