Happy Earth Day!

Theme song for this post: Mother Nature’s Son by the Beatles. 

Growing up in the Natural State (AR) has taught me a lot of things. For example, tea must always be cold and sweet; hogs are better than longhorns; say “please,” and “thank you;” and, most importantly, nature is powerful and beautiful. Because Arkansas is in the “Tornado Alley” region of the United States, tornadoes are as frequent as people wearing camouflage in public. The particular city that I am from in Arkansas is on a very large river that is very prone to flooding in the springtime, which means that those people that live in floodplains almost always have to renovate their basement.

The best part about living in Arkansas, though, is the beauty of it all. The southern plains are miles of farmland with cotton and rice blowing in the wind. The northwest, though, is consumed by the rolling hills of the Ozark Mountains, creating some of the most beautiful scenery this side of the Mississippi River. Naturally, native Arkansawyers are often found outside, either hiking or hunting, canoeing or climbing.

Being surrounded by all of this natural beauty makes it hard for me to understand how people don’t believe in a Creator. I don’t get how people think that all of this:

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…. just created itself.  (This picture was taken of the Norfolk River near Norfolk, AR).

I can’t help but recall the words of Psalm 104:

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Lord my God, you are very great;
    you are clothed with splendor and majesty. (vs 1)

How many are your works, Lord!
    In wisdom you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
There is the sea, vast and spacious,
    teeming with creatures beyond number—
    living things both large and small. (vs 24-25)

May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works—
he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains, and they smoke. (vs 31-32)

As a follower of Christ, I am reminded of the beauty of God’s creation everyday. Consequently, everyday is Earth Day for me! I revere in God’s awesome creation and I try with all my being to take care of it.

I challenge you, then, if you are also a Christ-follower, to treat the Earth with the respect it deserves. Adam Hamilton says it this way in his book Creed: What Christians Believe and Why:

“Belief in God also has huge implications for our care of creation. If God created all things, and the earth belongs to God, then we are stewards of it. Many think of Christian discipleship and spirituality as reading the Bible and praying, and these are important; but if this earth really belongs to God, then caring for it – tending God’s garden – is an act of discipleship and a responsibility of every human being. When you leave a room, turning off the lights is an act of faithfulness and Christian discipleship. So, too, is turning up the thermostat, recycling, and thinking about fuel economy when you buy your next car. Conversely, damaging the earth or wasting its resources is an affront to the Creator. Belief in God should lead us to caring for God’s creation.”

So celebrate Earth Day a little everyday. Start recycling. Walk those few blocks instead of driving. Plant a couple trees. Change to energy efficient light bulbs.

But most importantly, thank God for his beautiful creation everyday.

Later, Earth-lovers.

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Anxiety & Fear: God’s Eye View

Theme song for this blog post: This Beautiful Life by Colony House 

I’m graduating from college in two weeks.

This both terrifies and excites me… but mostly just terrifies me. I don’t feel as if I am qualified to be a “grown up” yet (whatever that means). I don’t have any job prospects. I’m getting married this summer, but no one is supportive of this decision (except my husband-to-be, obviously). I’m broke, and have accumulated a significant debt from my bachelors degrees. Overall, I just feel this sense of overwhelming doom hanging over me, like as soon as I walk across that stage and get that sheet of paper that I have spent four long years laboring for, that will be it. BOOMGame over. Roll credits.

I have found myself running to the Word more often during my anxiety attacks or crying fits this last month, but as soon as I close that well-worn leather cover, I forget every promise I just read. I spiral back down the proverbial rabbit hole of fear and anxiety. This mindset has done absolutely nothing but make me into a stress monster. Even worse, it has done nothing to serve God.

One of my favorite humans on this planet once told me that “stress is the enemy to the Christian.” I am beginning to understand what he meant.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Genesis (there is truly nothing like going back to the beginning, am I right?) One of the main themes of Genesis – or should I say the most important detail – is the Divine storyline. Each of the main characters does something sinful in the eyes of God, and yet God never breaks his promises to them. God promised to multiply Abraham’s decedents (Gen. 22:17). God promised to make a great nation out of Issac’s descendants (Gen. 26:24). God promised that the earth would be blessed through Jacob’s decedents (Gen. 28:14). God uses the sins of each of these men to God’s own advantage, for God makes everything beautiful in his time (Ecc 3:11).

Viewing God’s plan through a birds eye is encouraging, for we see that every detail is planned. And yet, we almost refuse to this in our own lives. We refuse to acknowledge that the victories we won were won by God; not from our own hard work. We refuse to believe that the losses are eventually for our good; rather, a punishment for our sins. Isn’t this hypocritical and borderline sinful? How can we read the Bible and praise and exalt God for his plan – through thick and thin, better or worse – and not apply that same trust to our own lives?
One of my favorite Bible sources puts it this way:
We are always en route, never really arriving until Glory. We journey, holding on to hope, as we see God’s faithfulness behind us and cling to His promises before us. May we lean into Israel’s story, remembering that He is trustworthy, and learning to pray as Moses did:
“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”Psalm 90:12
What can we take from this?
To put it simply, count your blessings and remember where they come from. 
I keep prayer journals, and as I flip through the pages of the last few years, I have found that the things that I asked for then (friends, a degree, the man I’m supposed to be with, ministry opportunities), are the very things I am citing as the source of my anxiety attacks recently. This realization has caused me deep disappointment with myself, for how can I sing my praises to God while between the pages of his book, and then not acknowledge the places where God deserves praise in my life? God has kept every promise God ever made to me.
So here’s my public proclamation & promise:
 I will no longer ignore God’s hand in my life.
I can’t achieve anything without God.
He deserves all the glory for my wonderful, terrible, beautiful life. 
Later, y’all.