Saturday, January 30, 2010

Winter Wonderland!

At first, I titled this post "Snow Day," but somehow that title only seems appropriate for a day when school is canceled.  (I'm holding out hope that such will be the case on Monday, but it's still too early to tell.)  Anyway, here's a glimpse of what Bobby and I woke up to this morning.  (Bobby, the photographer, says please ignore the trash compactor in the foreground.)

 Unfortunately, we don't have any scenic pictures of Bobby and me frolicking in the snow because both of us would much rather stay inside where its warm.  Beach people to the core, one snow every decade is plenty for us!  Here are a few examples of what I mean:
  • You know you're from the beach when you refer to snow by year (as in the Snow of '89).  
  • You know you're from the beach when you have to go sledding on the hill of a highway overpass because there's no other hill to be found.  (Actually, we didn't have sleds at all - we used our hydroslides!)
  • You know you're from the beach when you don't own a snow shovel and you have to use a dustpan as an ice scraper. 
  • You know you're from the beach when the closest thing you have to snow boots are Sperry's and Rainbows.  
  • You know you're from the beach when school is canceled if they play "Let it Snow" on the radio within earshot of the superintendent. 
  • You know you're from the beach when you start telling people you've moved to the North, and you mean North Carolina.  (Ok, I know that doesn't exactly have to do with snow, but I couldn't resist.  I'm still mourning the loss of my SC license plate.  Seriously, NC needs to step it up a notch in that department.  I'm pretty sure the NC license plate hasn't changed since they invented the automobile!) 
Just look at all the beautiful SC plates we've had in my lifetime alone...


(All License Plate Images from

Happy snow day!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Still standing!

Song of the Week: "Shadow Feet" by Brooke Fraser

Portrait of a woman with her arms spread out

It was only a matter of time before I mentioned it. The pink elephant in the room of my existence . . .

Law school.

Did I mention I'm a 3L? The past two and a half years of law school have been a lot of things--exciting, challenging, tiring, and interesting--to name a few. I have made some of my most dear friends in law school, and I have enjoyed (for the second time) the rigorous atmosphere of Work, I mean, Wake Forest.

If you've ever thought about going to law school or known someone that has, you've probably heard the old saying that corresponds to the 3 years of law school: "First year, they scare you to death. Second year, they work you to death. And, third year they bore you to death." The mere fact that there are people still alive to tell the tale means they don't do anything unto death, but you get the picture. For the most part, though, the old adage has some truth to it.

As I mentioned last week, there's a soundtrack for every season of my life. The song of the week this week was not just on the soundtrack from my 2L year. I would go so far as to say that it was the anthem of my 2L year. Despite the fact that I have mercifully progressed into the boredom of 3L year, I could not miss the opportunity to share the song that got me through most of the days last year.

So, without further adieu, the song of the week is: "Shadow Feet" by Brooke Fraser. (Click here to read the lyrics, and here to watch a really awesome music video of the song.)

If I had to pick an adjective to describe my 2L year, it would be overwhelming. (I might add that two other "ing" words, namely planning + wedding, contributed to my stress level last year.) But, the majority of my stress came from school. Never had I felt more like I was constantly treading water only to sink lower and lower beneath the surface.

The words of Brooke's song gave me the strength I needed to keep treading. I claimed the words of her song nearly every day. Here's how the chorus goes:

"When the world has fallen out from under me,
I'll be found in you, still standing.
When the sky rolls up and mountains fall on their knees,
When time and space are through,
I'll be found in you!

Though I'd love to sit down and unpack all of the eschatalogical implications of this chorus, it was the daily promise of the song that meant the most to me last year. Brooke's song taught me this lesson: Just because the world around us is crumbling (or so we think) and just because all of the balls we've been juggling come crashing down around us does NOT mean that we have to fall too.

"I'll be found in you, STILL STANDING!"

As I ponder the words of this song, I cannot help but think about Luke's account of the death of Stephen in Acts 7. Stephen was one of the first seven deacons chosen by Jesus' disciples to minister to the widows and the sick. The Bible says that he was "a man full of God's grace and power." (Acts 6:8, NIV) Stephen is also known as the first martyr for the Christian faith.

What's most amazing to me about Stephen's death is what he said right before he was stoned to death by the angry mob. "Look, I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." (Acts 7:55-56, NIV) The cool part is this -- normally, Jesus is pictured seated at the right hand of God. (e.g. Ps. 110:1; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3), but Scripture tells us that Jesus STOOD while Stephen suffered death on account of his faith.

I don't mean to compare my law school frustrations to Stephen's martyrdom (or the serious tribulations that a lot of people around me are facing right now.) Nevertheless, when I reflect on Luke's account of Stephen's death, I cannot help but cherish the image of Christ Jesus standing while his follower suffered intense tribulation for the sake of His Name! Whether Jesus stands when we face less trivial tribulation or whether he remains seated is really unimportant. No matter what the tribulation, "it is God who enables us . . . to stand firm for Christ." (2 Cor. 1:21, NLT)

Even though it's not my song of the week this week, I cannot resist closing with the words of the song "The Stand" by Hillsong United.

You stood before creation
Eternity within Your hand
You spoke the earth into motion
My soul now to stand

You stood before my failure
Carried the Cross for my shame
My sin weighed upon Your shoulders
My soul now to stand

So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to you

So I'll walk upon salvation
Your Spirit alive in me
This life to declare Your promise
My soul now to stand

So what can I say
What can I do
But offer this heart O God
Completely to you

So I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned
In awe of the One who gave it all

So I'll stand
My soul Lord to You surrendered
All I am is Yours.

Here's the video for "Shadowfeet":

No copyright infringement intended.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Blessed is She

Anyone who has known me for more than 5 minutes has probably heard me quote Beth Moore. When asked one time in an ice breaker, "If you could be twins with anyone, who would it be?" I quickly responded, "Beth Moore!" And, not just because of her good hair!

Though I have never met her face to face, Beth has been my "resident" bible teacher for the last decade, just as she has been for thousands of women across America. I cannot begin to express how my faith has grown through her bible studies. To be clear, (and I'm sure Beth would say the same), Beth's wisdom and insight into the Scriptures has been entrusted to her by God and God alone--not by her own intellect, though she has plenty of that, too. Neverthless, I am so thankful that Beth heeded the Lord's call on her life. Most of all, I am thankful that Beth has dispensed with appearances in order to be transparent about her own struggles and the victory that she has found in Christ Jesus! Lord knows, I am better off because of her testimony!

This week, I have been listening to a recording of a message Beth gave to a group of women at the Living Proof Live event in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The message is entitled, "The Perfect Storm," based on Acts 27. You can purchase it here. In the message, Beth talks about the impact that storms can have on our lives. The message is chock full of Scriptural truths that are worth reflecting upon, but in the interest of time (homework's waiting), I will get down to the main point.

Toward the end of her message, Beth said something that stopped me in my tracks. She said,

"Some of us have gotten a clear word from God that we have given up on."

Then she asks, "What did God tell you? ... Do you still believe Him for that word, or have you given up on it?" She goes on to say, "There is something on the other side of this storm that you must endure to be able to receive what God has for you."

Finally, Beth quotes a verse of Scripture that blew me away. Luke 1:45 (NIV):

"Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!" (Luke 1:45, NIV)

Though I had read that verse before, I had never noticed the feminine pronoun. The verse actually uses the pronoun she! To be perfectly honest, I usually couldn't care less whether an author uses a masculine or feminine pronoun. (In fact, in my undergraduate days of writing papers for my English major, I was annoyed when my professors required us to use gender-neutral pronouns. To me, it's jarring to the reader to use the combined form of "he/she.")

But, something about the use of the pronoun "she" in that verse is so touching to me! Why? Perhaps, it's because I am still desperately clinging to a word I received from God a few years ago that has not come to fruition yet. (I'm talking about white-knuckled, nails-dug-in kind of clinging.) Perhaps, it's because there are days when I just want to give up on the belief that what He has promised will come true. But, you know, the amazing thing about waiting on the Lord is that just when I think I have lost all hope, God speaks to me through his Word to remind me that He is a God who fulfills his promises - even to the "shes" of this world!

"I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:13-14 (NIV).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Don't Be Afraid to Stand Out!

Studio Shot of a Joyful Man Standing in a Crowd of People With Their Backs Turned, Punching the Air and Cheering

Since I'm new at the blog thing, I have been looking around at various blogs to see what works the best! In addition to more varied posts, a lot of bloggers do a routine, weekly post centering on a certain theme. For example, BigMama, one of my favorite bloggers, does Fashion Fridays - giving her readers ideas for internet deals on fashionable items. (Don't worry, Bobby and Dad, I'm not going to start giving fashion tips. You can keep reading...)

Last night, while I was in the shower, (that's where I do my best creative thinking for some odd reason), I was brainstorming ideas for a routine post that I could do. Besides brainstorming, another one of my favorite shower pasttimes (probably to the dismay of all my former roommates) is to blare music & sing at the top of my lungs! (Did I mention that I'm borderline tone-deaf w/ a raspy voice to boot?) Anyway, the combination of these two activities spawned an idea for a routine post fitting to me. I will pick a song of the week that inspires me. Or, at least, I'll give it a shot this week. If it doesn't work, I can always scrap the idea later.

For someone who cannot sing whatsoever, I have a remarkable love for music! Perhaps, my affinity stems from the fact that songs are really poetry put to music. Like many, I tend to process life through the music I'm listening to (and the books I'm reading) at any given moment. There's a soundtrack to accompany every season of my life!

Before entering the current season of waiting that I mentioned in my last post, I had just come out of a crisis of faith regarding my calling. For about two years, I struggled with extreme unrest and doubt about God's purpose for my life. I was paralyzed by the fear that I would miss my destiny. To be perfectly honest, I am still not over this struggle. I still have moments of panic. I still wonder on a regular basis if I will ever amount to anything of value for God's kingdom. (I realize this is a very egocentric fear...I'm just being real.) Thankfully, however, through God's grace, the promises of His Word, and the encouragement of family and friends who believe in me more than I believe in myself, I have come to some semblance of victory over this stronghold.

In the midst of this struggle, I heard a song on the radio that encapsulated all of the hopes and fears that I had been feeling for so long. It's called "The Lost Get Found" by Britt Nicole. Britt is a contemporary-Christian artist about my age from North Carolina. Her song inspires listeners of all ages to rise up and do something for the glory of God. The chorus goes like this:

"Don't let your lights go down.
Don't let your fire burn out.
Somewhere, somebody needs a reason to believe.
Why don't you rise up now?
Don't be afraid to stand out,
That's how the lost get found."

At the end of the song, Britt asks a question that continued to reverberate in my mind after I heard it the first time.

"So when you get the chance, are you gonna take it?
There's a really big world at your fingertips,
And you know you have the chance to change it."

For months, I had been so paralyzed by fear over my calling that I stood motionless while people around me needed to hear about the hope of Christ Jesus. When I heard the question in Britt's song, it was almost as if God himself was asking me. Like He was saying, "Missy, you leave the specifics of your calling up to me. I just want to know one thing - when I give you the chance, are you going to take it?" You see, God's purpose for his people is twofold. First, God has an ultimate purpose for our lives. But, the awesome thing about God is that he also gives us a purpose for each day. Until that point, I had been insisting that God reveal to me the ultimate purpose for my life before I moved a muscle. As a result, I had missed out on so many daily chances to fulfill my calling. Fortunately, our God is a God of second chances. So, I challenge you through the words Britt's song. "When you get the chance, are you gonna take it?" "Don't be afraid to stand out, that's how the lost get found!"

If you want to hear the song & see the profound music video that goes with it, I encourage you to watch it here. (If you just want to read the lyrics, click here.)

Sunday, January 17, 2010

While We're Waiting

In my short tenure on this earth, I have found that the Christian life, like time itself, is marked by seasons. Solomon affirms this truth in the book of Ecclesiastes: "For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven." (Ecc. 3: 1, NLT) During the past several months, Bobby and I have found ourselves in a season of waiting. While we have experienced countless emotions since we tied the knot in May (mostly the sweet contentment of marital bliss), we, nevertheless, have spent most of our time in "the waiting room." Waiting on a job...waiting on God...

Long before the wedding, Bobby began looking for full-time employment in North Carolina so that he could join me as I finish my last year of law school. Despite Bobby's tireless efforts to network and submit applications, still no full-time employment opportunities have come to fruition. So, we keep on waiting.

For several months, I wrestled with God, asking him, "Why?" I thought it must be me. I thought maybe if I prayed harder, God would provide Bobby with a job. I thought maybe if I tried harder to please God--did my quiet time more, resisted my flesh more--maybe God would come through for us. But, finally, I realized that I was projecting man's logic onto God. A currency-based relationship with God. "I'll do x for you, God, if you do y for me." "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours." Praise God, that is not how He operates! Our God is a God of abundant mercy and grace!

As my perspective changed and I became more at peace in this season of waiting (to be sure, I still have my days), I prayed that God would help us discern what he desires to teach us through this season. Because God desires our sanctification and his Holy Spirit always works in us to that end, we can be sure that any season in our lives is purposed by God to teach us and refine us. Whether we receive his teaching, however, is up to us! Bobby and I still can't see God's end goal in this time of waiting. Even so, we can already see some of the good that has come out of this season. Without further adieu, here are some of the lessons that Bobby and I have learned while we're waiting! (Some are less serious than others. Special thanks to Bobby for helping me compile the list.)
  1. God's sense of timing is different than our sense of timing! 2 Peter 3:8-9a says, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise..."
  2. The customary American business practice of sending invoices when a payment is due does not apply to COBRA insurance. Pay your bill on time, regardless of whether you receive an invoice, or they WILL cancel your converage. We learned this the hard way!
  3. God's ways are higher than our ways! (Isaiah 55:8-9) No matter how hard we try, or how badly we want something to happen, if it's not in God's plan, it will not come to pass. Yet, "...God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Rom. 8:28, NLT)
And, last but not least, number 4: God always provides ENOUGH for us! A few days ago, the passage of the day in my new devotional was Exodus 16. What a providential reminder of God's presence amidst our season of waiting! Exodus 16 recounts the first time God provided manna to the Israelites. Like Bobby and me, the Israelites were in a season of waiting. Delivered out of Egypt by God, the Israelites were waiting for God to lead them into the promised land. And, they had become weary of the wait! Like we often do, they began complaining to God. Yet, in his great mercy (despite their ungratefulness), God rained down manna and quail to sustain them in the desert. The manna fulfilled three purposes: 1) It provided the Israelites with physical sustenance (i.e. food!) in the desert; 2) it served as a sign of God's faithfulness to them during the wait; and, 3) it forced them to depend on God to meet their needs. (Ex. 16:6-8)

But, here's what stood out to me as I reread Exodus 16 - the manna God provided was always enough. No matter how much manna each person gathered, they all had exactly what they needed! (Ex. 16:18, The Message) During our own season of waiting, God has been just as faithful to us as he was to the Israelites! God has never failed to provide enough for us! If there ever comes a day when Bobby and I are more financially solvent than today, my prayer is that we will continue to depend on God with the same desperation we have known in this season.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Go Deacs!

UPDATE: Deacs win in overtime! 85-83. What a fun game!

Bobby and I are excited to watch our Demon Deacons take on the Maryland Terrapins tonight at LJVM! Looking forward to a good game! Go Deacs!

Cleveland St. vs. Wake Forest

Monday, January 11, 2010

A New Path for 2010

Salut! and welcome to my new blog Things Hoped For . I have been wanting to start a blog for sometime now. My husband, after hearing me ponder the idea, dream about the idea, and do just about everything with the idea, except actually start a blog, gave me the most wonderful surprise for Christmas. He arranged to have Kelly from FabulousK Creative design the header/background, etc. for my new blog. His gift was exactly the impetus I needed to put the pen to the page (metaphorically speaking) and start writing. So, thanks Bobby! Hopefully, the blog will get a much needed makeover from Kelly soon, but I couldn't wait any longer to get started!

During our drive back to Winston-Salem, after spending a delightful Christmas in South Carolina with our family, Bobby and I listened to a sermon by one of our favorite pastors, Andy Stanley. As his name suggests, Andy Stanley is Charles Stanley's son and the pastor of NorthPoint Community Church in Atlanta. (I have my dad to thank for getting me hooked on Andy's sermons--he's listened to nearly all of them!) God has gifted Andy with the ability to deliver His Word in a profound, yet simple way that forces you to put aside all of the preconceived notions you might have about a given Scripture. And, he's hilarious to boot! If we ever move to Atlanta, I would love to be able to attend NPCC or Buckhead Church, but until then, I'll settle for the podcast.

Anyway, the message that Bobby and I were listening to that Sunday afternoon was from Andy's series entitled "Destinations." (You can find it in the NorthPoint podcast on iTunes.) In the first message in the series, Andy introduces us to what he calls "The Principle of the Path," based in part on Proverbs 7. The principle of the path is this: "Direction, not intention, determines our destination."

As Andy suggests, this principle at first seems intuitive, obvious even. But, when we transpose this principle from the world of geography to the world of everyday life, the implications are staggering. To further borrow from Andy's analogy, most of us realize that if we drive up I-95 north, we will not end up in Florida - no matter how badly we want to go to Florida, or even how desperately we intend to go to Florida. And, yet, somehow, when it comes to the paths we take in life, there's a disconnect. In everyday life, we stubbornly maintain that the desire to end up a certain place is enough to get us there. The truth is, only the paths we choose determine our ultimate destination!

At the end of his message, Andy gives a list of very common ways that the disconnect is manifested in our lives. I was so convicted by the simple truth of Andy's message that I began to reflect upon the ways "the disconnect" was manifested in my life in 2009. I'll share just a few:
  • "I want to know God more than I want anything else in the world, so I'll watch TV more and read the Bible less."
  • "I want to experience the Sabbath rest of God and the peace that passes all understanding, so I'll work harder, do more, strive more, and maybe one day I'll find it."
  • "I need to get in better shape and maintain a more balanced diet, so I'll just eat one more donut and drink one more coke."
Those are only a few examples of the disconnect in my life--there are many more! After recognizing the disconnects in my life, I began to long for a new path for 2010. I realized that, in order to chart a new path, I must choose a new direction. Similarly, to set my direction, I must first determine my destination. As I contemplated this, I was reminded of the verse in Hebrews, where Paul exhorts believers:

"Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us
fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross." Hebrews 12:1b-2 (NIV)

Not only does this verse reveal the destination I was searching for (Jesus!), it also demonstrates our Savior's perfect implementation of "The Principle of the Path." And, what a marvelous picture it is!! Scripture tells us that as the time of his crucifixion drew near, Jesus set his face like flint toward Jerusalem. (Isaiah 50:7, Luke 9:51) Jesus never veered from the path. There were no disconnects in his thinking. With singular focus, Jesus walked the path that led toward our salvation. A path that required him to suffer the most brutal death on a cross. All for the joy set before him. What joy, you might ask? "The joy of bringing salvation to the ones he loves."* What better reason to run on the path that leads us into the arms of such a Savior?

I invite you to embark with me on a new path in 2010. As we begin, we can take comfort in this word from Psalms 32:8: "The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." (NLT).

*(Morris, The Expositor's Bible Commentary)