Be Free Fridays (Meg)

“Come to me, all who are weary, and I will give you rest.”
– Jesus (Matthew 11:28)
Doesn’t rest sound like just about the most wonderful thing you can imagine sometimes? How often do we walk around flashing our “busy badge” and yet on the inside we are crying out for rest? For breathing in and out. For calmness and gentleness and all good things. A day by the water. A view from the mountains.
Oh, how I long to rest! Physically and spiritually! Don’t you?
A natural “performer” {in the “getting an A on my assignment” kind of way, not quite the “take the spotlight and come alive on stage” kind of way}, I often find it hard to rest spiritually. I often disregard the free gift God’s given me – the way He has called me His child in spite of myself – and I tell Him I want to show him I can do it. He should be proud of me, after all. Look what I’ve accomplished.
But this is not what it means to rest in grace! This is not the abundant life Jesus talks about! This is certainly not the freedom He has given me. My cycle of life goes more like: Work, work, work. Try to please God. Get tired. Work again. That sounds less like rest and more like bondage, doesn’t it?
The truth is, I cannot separate rest from freedom.
I find myself working “for” Him without resting in Him. I find myself going back to the yokes of my former slavery, the bonds of performance and longing for approval that so gripped my heart and kept me from knowing abundance and LIFE, all the while ignoring my identity in Him.
I am so in need of experiencing what it means to rest in grace, to be free to abide in God rather than in the things I’m trying to show off for Him. I’m in desperate need of reminders and this rhythm of rest.
So on Fridays, every once and a while, let’s take time to process through this freedom. Let’s process through this rest that is so preciously and purposefully ours in the gospel. Let’s set aside time to intentionally be free to rest in grace. Let’s start our weekends off well.
In essence, let’s ask: Am I awake enough to hear from Him right now, to be sensitive to the Spirit, to recognize the truth and reality of my humanity and God’s grace? And am I so abiding in Him that I may be free to live out what he has given me today, this week, this year in a regular rhythm of work and rest, seeking and surrender?
Lean in with me. Ask Jesus to grant you that rest, to help you understand that grace and freedom. Maybe your story looks totally different than mine. But the truth is, His grace and freedom and rest covers us all. His love has set us free.
Today, I pray that you may rest in Him. I pray that you may evaluate exactly where He is leading you to wake up and to surrender. What does it look like to be free in whatever and wherever he has placed you?
Because of His great love for you, I pray you would experience true freedom from “work” that bonds you – performance, the drive for acceptance, whatever – those things that keep you from God. This Friday, I pray you would be free. Free to love. Free to follow. Free to rest.
Good reads and listens for your weekend:
  * Psalm62 {a favorite psalm I’ve clung to in times of dire unrest}
  * “FindRest” by Annie Lawrence
  * “Nothing Holding me Back” by Bryan & Katie Torwalt
  * “Revive Me” by Christy Nockels
  * “Present over Perfect” by Shauna Niequist

::a summer, a friend, & a giveaway!:: (Brooke)

Today’s post is kinda sappy. friend sappy.  

And today you get to tag a friend for a chance to win 2 prints:
one for you and one for her!

But first, let me share a friendship story with you:

I met my best friend 10 summers ago on a summer project with Cru in Ocean City, NJ. On the first day of the project I knew no one. The project director said, “For the first week two girls will need to share a king bed, who is willing?” Without much thought I raised my hand and at the same time she raised her hand. And from the first night of sharing a bed we haven’t stopped laughing and praying for one another through all life’s joys and sorrows. BTW: she claims I put a pillow between us to keep it s e p e r a t e d for that week. I don’t remember such things. 

But what I do remember from that summer is how much I laughed-like-deep, slightly always crying laughing. How from the first day of project she called me “joey” never Brooke unless she was getting stern– now the joey has evolved to “josie”. I don’t get it either. but I like it. I remember how on our free day each week we would drive to the next town for Target & Starbucks(pictured left) listening to Jars of Clay, windows down. I remember how on our one a week “date night with Jesus” we would always have a picnic on her bedroom floor before going separate ways for our extended time with the Lord.  I remember how early she woke up to go be with Jesus(& I think to go get coffee) and how that encouraged and challenged me.  I remember how we both had to be a part of a mandatory softball game and how we both were nervous wrecks and whiffed at every at bat.  I remember walking to Wawa daily so we could get fruit cups and soda.  I remember how we would harass the mailman every day when he would come to the project house, “BILL, ANYTHING FOR US!?!”.

There’s nothing like a summer with a new, dear friend.
There’s nothing like a lifetime with that same friend.  

I am so thankful to God for friends. They point us to Christ and remind us that everything is going to be okay.  They help us to dream and sit with us when we mourn. They remind us of the Hope and Future that is indeed ahead. 
“Because there really is nothing like good friends, like the sound of their laughter and the tones of their voices and the things they teach us in the quietest, smallest moments.”  -from Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist


To celebrate the friends in our lives my Bestie has donated two prints from her cute, cute shop! The print is 8×10(inspired by a Hillsong United song) and will look fantastic in your dorm room or around your house.  To enter to win: tag one friend on facebook or twitter or instagram with this post—AND comment below with your name and email address & the name of the friend you tagged. You have til Saturday(3/22) evening at 5pm to enter. We will announce the winner later that evening!
*You don’t need to be a Tidewater Cru student to enter*   

A friend loves at all times.  Proverbs 17:17

Where is God when I am suffering? (Steph)

People often ask how God can be loving when there is so much pain in the world. From breakups and betrayal to pain and death, suffering is always a part of life. How do we reconcile this with a God who loves us and promises to care for us? Although God does not take away all of our pain and problems, I know one thing – we can be sure of His presence.

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31:6 

Did you catch that great news? “He will never leave you nor forsake you.” 

Never: at no time in the past or future; on no occasion; not ever.

A simple word but in this context – so powerful!

I saw God’s presence in the midst of extreme pain when I lost my first child to a miscarriage. It has been 9 months and 6 days since I found out my baby’s heart had stopped beating. It still brings tears to my eyes to remember the loss. In a matter of moments my world was flipped upside down as I realized I would never get to hold her, hear her voice, or see her run to me and hug me. I had no say in the matter and I knew God could have done something about this but chose not to. I had to trust that His plans were somehow good (Jer. 29:11).

The weeks and months following were full of grief. Where was my loving God in the midst of pain and heartache? 

God was there when He allowed Zach’s work schedule to work out so that I was not alone when I heard the news. God was there that night when my best friend brought me flowers and a giant chocolate bar. God was there as I received more cards, texts, e-mails, and gifts from family and friends than I had at any other time in my life.  God was there as other women shared their stories of miscarriage with me. God was there when my former roommate bought me redbox movie codes so I could take a break from crying and have some laughter in my life. God was there when He lead me to a book (at just the right time) that reminded me I would see my child in heaven someday. God was holding me on Dec. 26 (my original due date) as I woke up and cried. Again and again He poured out His love through the people He had placed in my life.

I can’t count the number of people who prayed for us. Zach and I were surrounded by encouragement and support and I knew it was from God. The God who promises to never leave us. The God who knows what it is like to lose a child. The God who gave His son for me so that I could have the hope of eternity. The God who walked the earth as Jesus and knows what it is to suffer loss. Thanks to the truth of the Gospel I will see my baby in heaven someday. I don’t know why we had to experience such loss but I know it drew us closer to Jesus, the ultimate Comforter. 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Cor. 1:3-5

Whatever you are suffering through right now, know that God will never leave you and His plans for you are good. Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, financial situation, the unknown future, or a broken relationship, allow Him to be your comfort today and always. You are loved.