4 Biblical Truths on Friendship

Friendship

Friendship is one of the gifts I hold dearest to my heart. I love that God designed us for community and leads us by example in how to love each other. There are things other people do for me that touch my heart in ways I can’t imagine living without, you know?

Because I love people and am so thankful for the gift of friendship, I think it should be held to a high standard. Friends aren’t to be taken advantage of, forgotten about or left out hanging out to dry. We are called to love our neighbors as ourselves, our friends included.

As I’ve been thinking about friendship this month, here are 4 Biblical truths that shed great light onto how we should live life with our friends.

1. Live with a spirit of steadfast love and faithfulness. (Proverbs 3:3)

Love your friends with a steadfast love after God’s own love for us, and a spirit of faithfulness. Being faithful to a friend in steadfast love means loving them even when they’re in a sour mood, it means celebrating with them over life’s joys and it means crying with them when they’re in the pits of despair. It means sticking together through life, no matter what comes at you.

2. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

Relationships are hard – feelings get hurt, bitterness threatens to simmer in the pits of our hearts and we don’t like being wrong. But forgiveness is a powerful thing, and we have a great example of the power of forgiveness in our God. He washed away our sins, the sins that he knows we will continue struggling with, the sins we have yet to even commit! Despite that knowledge, he sent his Son to pay the price for us to be in a relationship with him. That’s quite the example of forgiveness. Fight for your friends the way God fights for us.

3. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. (James 5:16)

Have you ever shared a deep hurt with a friend who then asked to pray over you? Prayer brings healing, and it brings you closer together. I not only want to be quick to comfort my friends, but I want to be quick to pray with them.

The other key part of this truth is that in friendship, we should feel free to confess our sins to one another. The benefit of accountability only extends as far as we can be truthful. I don’t want surfacey friendships, where we can only discuss the easy and light parts of life. I want friends who will get into the battle with me – who will patiently listen to my confessions, but who will call me out of my sin and remind me of the truth of the gospel. I want to be that friend for my friends.

4. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:24-25)

Like I wrote in the letter to myself last week, life is short. And it’s not all about us – it’s all about Him. Let’s not let this life waste away with our worlds revolving around ourselves. Let’s get together with friends, let’s laugh, let’s study the Word, let’s stir each other up to love and good works! Let’s stir each other up so that, above all else, we strive to be faithful to the One who made us and gave us all we have.

Do you have friends like this? If so, tell them, “Thanks!” today! They are diamonds in the rough. Are you this friend to your friends? How can you grow to be more like this kind of friend?

A letter to my every-day self

Every Day Self Letter

Dear every-day Lauren,

You’re trying really hard, I see that. I see it in how you spend your free time, how you pack your days with people and how tired you feel each night. I see you running in a million directions, full speed always, and unable to follow through often.

I see you striving for good things… serving, honoring your husband, fulfilling friends’ needs, exercise,  well-rounded reading, stretching yourself to do hard things, etc. But to what end?

Do you want a cute blog? A nice wardrobe? A better body? People’s approval? Attention? Do you want to be known for things? Do you want to be praised?

These are hard questions. And they absolutely stink to own up to, but answer them honestly. Because what’s the point of living if it’s all about you?

I hope your life will be all about Him. I hope, more than anything else, you see that there is nothing greater than your Creator. I hope you will hold onto him with all you have and see the truth, that those worldly crowns will fade away like the frail flowers they are.

I hope His love will propel you to love others wildly. I hope you will filter your thoughts, your actions, your energy spent through that funnel of his love. I hope you can see the difference between what’s from him and what’s from the world around you. I hope you’ll choose to be His rather than to be Your Own. You’re already loved, you’re already noticed, you’re already considered worthy to be pursued.

In Him, you already have all the things you’re chasing from the world around you. Love him. Be His. Share Him with others. Live this life well, it’s short.

Love,
the yesterday you.

On ministry, having kids & the gift of free time

I can’t lie, I went to bed Saturday night dreading my alarm clock in the morning.

I had a day packed full of great things, but also seemingly endless responsibilities – up at 6:30am to get to church by 7:30 for set up/band practice. Leave band practice early by 8:50am to pick up two students for service, sing for two services, tear down and leave at 12:30pm to take students home. Then, thankfully, I got to grab a quick nap to get up again by 2:30pm to grab lunch for Jacob and head back to church by 3:30pm for youth group band practice/set up, then work middle school and high school events until 8pm. Finally, tear down until finished and drop off a few students on my way home. That weight only feels heavy knowing I have to return to my actual job on Monday morning.

But as I sat listening to Jacob give his message to the middle school students, I thought, there’s no place I’d rather be this afternoon. Sometimes the thought of upcoming responsibilities weighs me down, but when I think about it… how else would I want to spend my Sundays? Lying around watching TV all day? Not really.

Our lives are busy, as I’m sure yours are, too. But I’m thankful for what makes me “busy” – great conversations (hard ones!) with students, getting to know the nitty-gritty of their lives, and helping them chase their dreams and overcome things like stage fright and searching for love in shallow places. I’m thankful for early morning breakfasts with great friends, long runs that show me I really can do just about anything I put my mind to and coming home after a crazy day yesterday to a, “Thanks so much for all you do” from my husband.

I’m also thankful for the stage of life we are in right now – young and married without kids. There’s no way I could be so involved in youth and worship ministry if we had little ones running around. While the time for that will come one day, I’m so truthfully content where we are now. To be honest, I feel like we have 80 kids – all the ones we see Sunday and throughout the week at small group and during one-on-one hang outs. My heart literally breaks for these students and aches to do anything for them. So right now, I’m content with our 80 non-biological children, and all the time I have to invest in them. Man, God is so good, and I’m abundantly grateful for these sweet moments to remember that truth so clearly.

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the story behind our cross-country move.

So I’ve realized lately that many of you have no idea why we moved or the story behind it – and it’s so important to me that I document this somewhere. I’ve been trying to write this post for three weeks now, but I just haven’t reached the point where I feel like I’ve fully portrayed the emotions and excitement behind it all. For my sanity, though, I’m giving it my best shot. It’s quite the novel, but it’s ours and I love it.

About once a week, I remember how crazy it is that we actually live in New Hampshire. Before Jacob started the interview process for this new job back in the fall, I can pretty confidently say New Hampshire only crossed my mind when I got the hankering to sing the state song I learned in fifth grade. When he first mentioned he got a call from a pastor up here, I laughed. I didn’t give it much consideration, partly because it seemed crazy, but mostly just because I didn’t want to give the opportunity too much weight yet. It was too early and it wasn’t just a simple move down the street, you know?

The job process slowly moved along, with phone interviews here and there and eventually a very long questionnaire about our lives and several of Jacob’s theological stances. Very few people knew about the opportunity, still, because we thought it was too early and too crazy to tell people just yet. We were almost constantly thinking about it, though. And praying. So much prayer.

It was at this point I started feeling a little sad because I thought I’d have to quit my new job I’d only had for three or four months so far. I loved what I did and what the company stands for – it was a great job to get right out of college and I had already grown to love my coworkers dearly! I shared my life with those people, so you can imagine how difficult it was to keep my over-sharing mouth shut.

At this point, though, my parents didn’t even know about the opportunity! We weren’t sure it was serious enough to tell them and, well, New Hampshire felt a lot farther away from Ohio than Tennessee did… and we weren’t ready to give them that shock quite yet. Looking back, I wish we had clued them in a little sooner, but we held back because we didn’t want to put them through those emotions if we didn’t end up moving.

But then the pastor called and said they’d like to fly us up to visit. And that’s when we realized things were serious and we wished we had already told my parents. But the moment we did tell them was so, so sweet. We Facetimed them together and shared the story and our excitement. They couldn’t have been more supportive. They prayed with us for our visit and the decisions to be made – both for us and the church – and told us how proud they are of us! Needless to say, I cried and felt a surge of excitement as our trip couldn’t come quicker.

We visited at the beginning of December and were absolutely blown away by the Church. The people were incredible – so down to earth and welcoming… and devoted lovers of Christ. It was a packed weekend full of events and dinners and great conversations with many (soon-to-be) new friends and coworkers. After every single meeting or event, we left with the calm confirmation that this would be our new home. We were pumped up about how much God is moving here and using this church to love this city!! We were so exhausted, though, that we hardly talked in our alone time the first two nights! Any chance we had to sleep, we slept.

But the night before we were scheduled to fly home, we both confidently said we would be crazy to say no. We prayed again and went to bed with giddy, excited spirits. The next morning we met with the lead and executive pastors to “debrief” from the weekend and they offered Jacob the job. Although we knew we wanted to make this church and city our new home, we thought about it, prayed about it, and sought counsel from our parents for a few days.

Later that week, Jacob officially accepted the position as Student Pastor and we started the process of figuring out how to move across the country. We planned to move at the end of January, so we needed to quickly give our time at our current jobs. Both of us gave our time much earlier than two weeks, because we were in situations where that was most appropriate. Chickfila was so sad to see Jacob go – it was really fun to see how appreciated and loved he was there.

And although I was extremely excited for this new adventure, I was very sad to say goodbye to my new job and dreading the process of interviewing for new jobs. The day came when I had to tell my boss we were moving, though. I asked him to talk, shut his office door, and told him we were moving. I’m so emotional, I attempted to keep it together and not cry, but I’m sure he could tell I was on the verge. He was so supportive and told me how they would be sad to see me go, but he knew I’d move on to bigger and better things eventually.

But then he asked if I’d be willing to work remotely for a little while, to help with the transition while they looked to fill my position. I didn’t tell him at the time, but I was kind of secretly hoping for that possibility. I was filled with excitement and gratitude that I wouldn’t have to search for a new home and a new job all at once. I could see my stress levels deflating immediately.

All throughout this process, God opened door after door, leading us to New Hampshire. Even though moving across the country is a scary thing, I wasn’t scared. He provided us with two jobs. We knew he was providing an amazing church family to welcome us in and love us. He provided a temporary housing situation for us while we looked for a new apartment. And the place we have now is so perfect for us – we needed to wait to find it.

Now we are 3 months in to living in New Hampshire – and we are still loving it. My “temporary” remote job has even morphed into a “keep as long as I want” temporary remote job. God has provided for us abundantly in every department and I seriously sometimes just can’t even believe it. He is so good, friends. Even the times when I was unsure and doubted that where we were in that moment was right, he provided a way. He filled in the gaps. He connected the dots.

I’m so excited for what is to come. We are finally settling into a routine and feeling like this city really is our home. I’m ready to embrace it, roll up my sleeves and get to work.

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. – 1 Corinthians 3:6-7


This verse has been running through my mind often lately. I’m asking God to use our time here – to use us to plant seeds and water seeds, but even more I’m asking him to make things grow.

Thanks for hanging with me all the way through this story. I wish I could have articulated the moments of joy and trust a little more eloquently, but sometimes I can’t translate those feelings into the right words. He is so good, my friends. Thanks for your support and encouragement through the beginning of this journey we’re on!

why youth ministry is hilarious

This past weekend I went to Camp ACC with the youth group at our church. It’s a beautiful place with next to zero cell phone reception, so it was a nice weekend unplugged. To be honest, this retreat absolutely exceeded my expectations. I met a lot of new high schoolers (new to me, not necessarily new to church) and spent time with the girls who I had already known through small group time. I got to know the other youth sponsors better and I left just so thankful for the place God has put us for the time being. This season of my life is filled with the realization that God truly knows what’s best for me and that my heart is deceitful above all things. Phew.

Anyway, back to this weekend, fall retreat was filled with hilarious games, warm clothes, hot chocolate, laughter, and good conversations. Speaking of conversations, I have heard some of the most ridiculous phrases come out of these kids’ mouths.

For example:
“I just have this brain problem where I see food and I eat it…”
“If the Bible grew hands and feet and hangmakered you, what would you do?”
“If you don’t have a tumblr, I won’t explain this to you.”
And my all time favorite phrase, “Raunch mania,” which is used in reference to inappropriate behavior.

A few of the students all geared up for The Hunt.

All weekend long, and even in the weeks leading up to fall retreat, The Hunt was all that the students talked about. It’s tradition that on Saturday night, the students hide all over the campgrounds (read: in the woods) and the sponsors “hunt” to find them. They get 30 minutes to hide and we had 45 minutes to hunt.

Let me tell you, these guys are serious about the hunt. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that much cameo in one room at one time. And when I say that they hide in the woods, I mean they hide in the woods. Kids were deep in the woods–not just on the outskirts, or even necessarily right off the beaten path! I hunted with another sponsor and we were climbing over fallen trees, pushing our way through branches and brush and praying we didn’t find any spiders in our hair later.

This weekend reminded me of the all the fun things we did in youth group and at Young Life when I was in high school. I’m thankful for the ways God lead me to him through the friend I grew up with in school, as well as the adults and older teenagers who invested in all of us. Those friends (my own age and older) are the very tools he used to draw me in to him and teach me the joy, freedom, and hope that come with accepting the Gospel. I’m praying that God uses me as a tool in the lives of the ladies around me, both young and old, to do the very same thing.


It’s okay if we all look different.

This is from my dear friend Jackie‘s wedding, photo by the lovely Meaghan Roland.

I was talking with a friend over dinner the other day about personalities and the way we go about doing things. It wasn’t really the point of our conversation, but something about it struck me a few hours later.

It’s okay that you might go about doing something differently than the person next to you. It’s okay if you want to pursue a guy instead of waiting on him to pursue you. It’s okay if you have a system for cleaning your house. It’s okay if you struggle with being far from your family. It’s okay if you like to wear brown plaid and navy polka dots. And, you know, it’s okay if you don’t. 😉

It’s easy to get bogged down by other people’s expectations of you, or even by what our culture says you should do. And most of the time, that is just plain silly.

You are your own person. God made you uniquely after his own image with your own bents and quirks. He gave you a personality with hopes, desires, and the ability to make strides toward reaching your own goals… don’t make yourself smaller to conform to those around you. Embrace who God has made you and go confidently. Go confidently in obedience to Him, however that may look.

It’s okay if we all look different. In fact, I think it’s best.