I will thank the Lord with all my heart as I meet with his godly people. How amazing are the deeds of the Lord! All who delight in him should ponder them. Psalm 111:1-2 NLT

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

It's Not The End

It looked like another one of those underdog, feel-good sports movie. But hey, it had a woman hero this time, along with Morgan Freeman. Who doesn't like Morgan Freeman? That’s all I really saw before I checked out Million Dollar Baby from the library. I missed any hype there might have been when it was first released. I was just ready for a movie night, and it looked interesting. 

Instead, it was infuriating. So infuriating that, though it’s been years since I saw it, I’m still ready and more than willing to climb high on a soap box about it. (If you don’t know the story, you can find a summary here.)

Hilary Swank’s character was a fighter. They built that up throughout the movie. She worked hard. She overcame hurdles. She fought her way to what she wanted to accomplish…until an unexpected blow turned her life upside down, paralyzing her.

Unimaginable. Heartbreaking. Life-altering. I get that. I truly do.

But what happened to the fight in her? Wasn’t that part of her more than just physical? Wasn’t it something deep down inside the character they’d worked so hard to develop? And what happened to the coach who pushed her to be the best she could be? Giving up was not the brave thing to do. It wasn’t. 

Her story didn't have to end there.   

I have a paralyzed friend, a quadriplegic who has been through so very much. But through it all, she’s been such an amazing influence on so many people. Her life isn’t easy, but she fought hard for it. A car accident changed the course of her life, but it didn’t make her worthless. Far from it. Instead, it put her in a position to reach people she normally might not have had much time for.

She is loved. She is adored. She is special.

Her life is worth living.

I know of a family who lost a son, Aaron, in Afghanistan. It devastated them. Even now, over four years later, the fact that he’s gone breaks their hearts as well as all those of everyone who hears their story. A horrible blow, one they’ll never totally recover from. But they’re fighting, and they’re making a huge difference. For example, in an effort to reach kids like Aaron's, his sister founded an organization called Operation 300, which puts on adventure camps for kids whose fathers have been killed in the line of duty. It’s an amazing program, putting strong Christian men in these kids’ lives as mentors and teaching them about the heart of a warrior. It's making a difference in the lives of other families like Aaron's, bringing hope and healing. 

And then there were the Twelve, or eleven really. Three years they dedicated to Him—left their families and homes, their lives to become disciples, to be mentored by this new teacher. Only to see Him die—tortured and murdered before their eyes. Everything they believed in, the core of who they’d become—it was all gone. Talk about a horrific blow.

But their story was not over. 

Sunday was a’comin’. The stone was rolled away. The tomb stood empty. And their lives got harder. Oh yes. Much harder. But they fought the good fight. They did the work God had for them. And they ended up making an impact on the world around them and countless generations to come.

You’ve probably been dealt some blows of your own. They may have left you reeling, hurt, damaged, unsure of the future. But your story isn’t over. Not by a long shot. Don’t give up. Keep fighting. Look up. Have faith. There is a plan for your life--a plan for good. Don't give up too soon

You're worth fighting for, worth dying for. There is HOPE! 

His name is Jesus.

*I drafted this blog post last week, and ironically enough, author Katie Ganshert just blogged about something similar with a slightly different perspective. You can check it out here, but keep your eyes sharp for the spoiler alert.

What did you think about the movie, if you saw it? What kind of stories get you up on your soapbox?

~ Jenness Walker

Monday, March 21, 2016

Are We Snobs...or Unique?

Just give me mine black.

Oh no, I want mine with a touch of honey.

Yuck! No sweet things, but give me a bit of cream.

Well, not just any cream, I’ll take mine with hazelnut. No, no, no. Vanilla cream.

Seriously folks. Doctor it up any way you wish, but make sure it’s Gevalia.

Gevalia? No, thanks, I drink Keurig with a different flavor every morning, depending on my mood.

Oh, just let me grab a Starbucks on my way.

 Nope, no way. If you want coffee, invest in a Williams-Sonoma machine. (And yes, between the Smith family members, we have all of these.)

So what’s the deal with Americans and their coffee? Are we just a bunch of spoiled folks who have to have it our way?

Or could it be that God Himself made us with different tastes, and personal experiences that influenced us?

After all we don’t have the same preferences in clothes. Some like flamboyant styles, some more sedate.

And books, yes, let’s go there.  Sweet romances only? No, a romantic suspense, please. Don’t think so. Let’s go thriller!

 Are you kidding me? None of that fiction stuff, I want only non-fiction. Oh, are we going there? Well, then give me science books. Nope, at least give me a story of history if it has to be non-fiction. Come on. Serious times mean serious reading: we need to delve into books about the Bible.

Wait. Hold on. Time out.

Is it possible that God intended all of the above? If every snowflake viewed under the microscope is different, then maybe the Lord meant each of us to be different too. We’re not carbon copies. Even our very DNA is individual. Special. Distinct.

And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. So grab your very own variety of coffee and pick up that book no one else in your family cares to read.  Have at it. God planned it this way.

So what's your preference in coffee? How about books? Let's discuss!