Adoption, Bible, Family, Life, Theology, Uncategorized

Sorrowful But Always Rejoicing

December 11, 2017

The past few months have been some of the darkest I’ve experienced in years.  l had expected the fall of 2017 to be full of joy and celebration as Museum of the Bible opened, a project I’ve been invested in for nearly 8 years. But along with the great joy from this season, it’s been full of pain. And it’s hit on many levels.

The past two months have brought personal medical issues (infertility), a family member’s death, broken trust in close relationships, personal attacks, and many close friends experiencing their own tragedies, all the while as l am trying to keep up with my full time job, a PhD work load on nights and weekends, and co-writing my first book with my mother. It’s a season that’s brought back panic attacks, heartache, doubt, and insecurity. It’s also a season l feel God’s presence more than l have in a long time. It’s driven me to His Word, and to prayer.

In the midst of this season, one night l was supposed to go to an award ceremony in the evening to receive an award along with dozens of other recipients. l actually hadn’t told anyone about the award except my mom and husband. The day of the award ceremony turned out to be one of the more difficult days because of events that transpired. Those difficult events caused me to feel unable to get to a place where l could get out and go to this award banquet.

My husband Michael was out of town, but a few friends knew what was going on. As I got home from work, my sister (in-law) and a close friend from my community group showed up at my door with listening ears, my favorite snacks, flowers and a candle. (My sisters live on opposite coasts, and had told these friends what my favorite things were.) They spent hours with me, just listening to me and loving on me.

That same week, l was in church during the worship time when my best friend came over to just wrap her arms around me tight and l just began to cry. No words were necessary. She knew she couldn’t make it better, but she could be present.

So, you get the idea: it has been a season with varying levels of suffering. I’ve been broken, and it’s been difficult.

This is not a post for sympathy, or a “poor me” attitude. No, this is a “me too” because l know I’m not the only one who has felt weary.

Through it all, l rest in the words “it is well.”

In the midst of the storm, l am acutely aware of where my hope lies. Can you believe that our hope is not in our circumstances or even in this life? What a gift. Our hope lies beyond the grave, and in Christ. The author of Hebrews says that it was “for the JOY that was set before him (Christ) endured the cross.” (Hebrews 12:2, italics mine)

Our hope lies beyond the grave, and in Christ. Click To Tweet

How could Christ have possibly had any measure of joy before him in enduring the horrible death on the cross? It’s because His hope was in what was beyond the cross. And for those of us in Him, our hope is the same. Someday every tear will be gone and every broken thing redeemed for those of us that know God through His Son. That is my hope.

Yes, l am human, and l will grieve, cry, vent and take time to heal. But the hope from Christ makes the season sweet. l love the way it’s brought me closer to Him. l love that it’s been a process of stripping away the things l places my identity in so that all l have left is Christ. l love that it’s made me grateful for the many small joys l see every day. And l love that its allowed me (okay, forced me) to experienced grace from my husband, sisters, closest friends and my church community group.

l love that this suffering created a process of stripping away the things l places my identity in… Click To Tweet

A season like this gives me greater appreciation for the words of Horatio Spafford who wrote these lyrics after losing his four daughters in a shipwreck:

 

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,

When sorrows like sea billows roll

Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say

It is well, it is well, with my soul”

 

Indeed, because of the cross, it is well with my soul. 

 

-LM

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Adoption, Bible, Family, Life, Theology, Uncategorized

Hope in the Midst of Infertility

November 21, 2017

Remember when you dreamed of what your life might be like at a certain age? Then once you reach that age, you are surprised by how different things turned out? I’m sure anyone over the age of five has experienced this on some level. I know I certainly had different expectations on where I might today–just months away from turning 30.

This month marks two years of my husband’s and my journey with infertility. It also marks five years of unsuccessfully pursuing adoption. This may not be where I expected to be, but maybe I should have.

At least one in six couples will experience some form of infertility. (1) Of those cases, one third of infertility will be attributed to the female, one third will be attributed to the male, and one third will be attributed to both or will be unexplained. Regardless of who or what the cause of infertility is attributed to, it invariably impacts both.

When we realized that having kids wasn’t going to come easy for us, we wanted to be open with others about our experience. I find great comfort knowing that people are praying with us and support us in our journey. As I’ve shared about our experience, I am incredibly humbled when others are willing to trust us with their own stories. That is what motivates me to share with you. Some of the most powerful words I’ve found are “Me, too.”

No two people will wrestle through infertility in the same way. Though everyone’s experience is different, there are some things that I’ve found in common with my experience and infertility, and that of others I’ve talked to. Here are the two common threads I’ve seen.

1. Shame
Historically, shame has been associated with guilt, and while it often can include guilt, the shame I’m speaking of is not so much the feeling/knowledge we experience when we have done something wrong and our conscience is confirming that, but more that sense of shame that comes from feelings of inadequacy and embarrassment.
Shame, in that sense, can cause a person to feel that you are somehow wrong or defective, even in instances when a person hasn’t done anything to necessitate that feeling.
This kind of shame is a lie that can keep us from being vulnerable. Yet vulnerability opens the door for healing.
To move beyond shame, I have to believe something truer. The thing is, the Bible teaches me that my value is not in my ability to have children. My value is unchanging, regardless of my earthly accomplishments or lack thereof. God loves me completely and unconditionally. Believing that truth helps me to move past feelings of shame and into vulnerable transparency that invites my community to walk alongside me and strengthen me in the difficult days.

Vulnerability opens the door for healing. Click To Tweet

2. Grief.
The pain of childlessness is a peculiar pain, described by one couple as “the grief which has no focus for its tears and no object for its love.” (Dickson 1997)
In dealing with infertility, grieving must take place. Grieving the loss of expectations. The loss of a perceived ideal timeline. The loss of a “normal” pregnancy experience. Grieving the loss of . . . fill in the blank. It is a gradual loss of what might have been. A hope deferred that makes the heart sick. (Proverbs 13:12)
Grieving the loss of expectation is normal and healthy. It has been important for me to recognize what my expectations are, and to find comfort knowing that it is okay to be sad about that loss of what could have been. It is also a comfort to know that in the midst of grief, God is with us as our comforter: “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18, ESV).
God invites us to come to him with our hurts. Michael and I don’t have to fake happiness out of fear of seeming “unspiritual” for not trusting God enough. Scripture tells us there are seasons–times for weeping and for mourning (Ecclesiastes 3:4). We don’t have to be afraid to go to God with our tears, anger, and grief. He offers arms wide open with comfort and healing.

One of the hardest moments of our journey thus far was when the doctor told us what our chances are for getting pregnant. I wanted the numbers to be different. I wished it wasn’t true. I wanted to wake up from my dream. But it wasn’t a dream. This was our reality.

Shortly after we received this difficult news, I had a friend tell me that when she is troubled, she lives out the situation to the worst-case scenario in her mind. Once she got to that worst case, she realized that even in that place, she would be okay because of her relationship with Jesus. That was powerful and freeing for me.

I’ve played forward in my mind the possible scenario: What if we never have children? Even so: I have Jesus. I don’t need Jesus+children in order to find joy. With Jesus, no matter what, my life is full. I don’t need Jesus+children in order to find joy. With Jesus, no matter what, my life is full. Click To Tweet

-LM

 “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” James 1:2-3

  1. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/infertility/symptoms-causes/syc-20354317
Culture, Life, Millennials, Theology, Uncategorized

Why I Appreciate Wonder Woman’s “Weaknesses”

July 31, 2017

For the first time, I watched a live-action superhero movie, and the main character was a woman.

Wonder Woman, which was released June 2, has seen major box office success. The film has surpassed Deadpool in its earnings, making it the second highest grossing comic book superhero movie ever without Batman, Iron Man or Spider Man. Wonder Woman has also become the highest grossing film to be directed by a woman, surpassing Mama Mia. And last week it surpassed the final Harry Potter installment to become Warner Bro.’s third biggest release of all time. Impressive.

This film comes at a time in our culture when we were ready for it. The voices of feminism have been adding to the cacophony of talking points and noise for decades. Having made even more “progress” in more modern times, I am surprised it took this long to see a great film with a female superhero.

In my reflections about this movie, I incorporated some of what I’ve been reading lately from Evangelical Feminism by Wayne Grudem. There is a lot of debate around the topic of women and feminism in our culture, but there is still a lot of room for Christian women to speak into the topic, providing a positive perspective on the value of women through the lens of what scripture teaches.

The Bible teaches that men and women are created equal and yet different. Through these differences, men and women compliment each other and lead through these differences. Yet in those differences I’ve often felt that culture pins stereotype qualities on women, and those qualities are seen as weaknesses.

Male superhero characters like Superman are depicted as strong and willing to make the difficult sacrifice. They are calculated, not allowing emotion to get in the way, like we see from Tony Stark. Batman is focused on the journey ahead and willing to charge through a brick wall alone to make changes to Gotham.

Diana is different. First, despite the name of the movie being “Wonder Woman” she is not called that once in the film. She is Diana.

As a super hero, she brought with her some of the characteristics that are typically unique to women, but in a positive light. She was nurturing, and yet she was incredibly strong. She was not afraid to realize her emotions – feeling the pain and anguish of the ravages of war. And she was not afraid to bring others along with her in her journey, valuing the relationships.

“We’ll do this together!” -Diana

These characteristics, which can sometimes be viewed as “weaknesses” by our culture, were used in a way that brought great strength to Diana. These characteristics were a part of what motivated her toward making a difference. Diana was willing to be a team player, giving recognition to the others that were in the battle with her, because she was not concerned about her own recognition but was confident in her convictions.


“I am willing to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves. Who will, if I don’t?” –Diana

Diana recognized with ability comes responsibility. This is a valuable lesson that we can all use. Even if we aren’t a “super hero”, we have all been given different roles, opportunities, and responsibilities. The way we function in those roles will affect the lives of others. How are we going to steward our opportunities to lead? We each have the opportunity to impact eternity when we keep our focus on things that last: people’s souls and God’s Word.

Women have a unique ability to make an impact that will last for generations. I am talking about leaving a legacy with our families, friends, and the relationships we build. Women are often relational, ready to step in and connect – ready to care. This allows great power to connect on a heart level, and live out the gospel in word and deed.  Whether in motherhood, the boardroom, or any other role, shape the legacy that you want to leave behind.

Wonder Woman’s character realized her power, and used it for good. Let’s do the same with our abilities today – even the ones that might be seen as “weaknesses” by our culture.

Wonder Woman’s character realized her power, and used it for good. Let’s do the same. -@laurenamcafee… Click To Tweet
Hobby Lobby, Life, Teaching, Uncategorized

Making a Difference in Women’s Lives

March 8, 2017
In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share this article that was posted on the Hobby Lobby Newsroom! I love that Freedom Yarn is loving and serving women so well.
This article was originally posted on newsroom.hobbylobby.com

Hope, love, and dignity. These are a few of the values that Hobby Lobby customers support when they purchase Freedom Yarn. The eight unique Freedom Yarn colors found in stores are beautiful products with a life-changing purpose. The packaging label explains their mission: “Bring freedom, hope and sustainable income to the marginalized, including those rescued from or at great risk of human trafficking.”

John and Brenda Flower became aware of the desperate needs of local villages through their visits to India. Because of the caste system, women are forced into trafficking with no way to escape.

With their business backgrounds, John and Brenda looked for a way to serve these local communities. The idea for Freedom Yarn came when they realized they could recycle fabric and teach the women to make yarn from the material.

Freedom Yarn is unique, made from strips of fabric instead of a more traditional wool, cotton or acrylic fiber. Manufacturing Freedom Yarn provides a long-term solution for women who are coming out of trafficking and enslavement. This new means of income means younger women can avoid being trafficked.

Mariya Doss is the buyer that orders Freedom Yarn for Hobby Lobby. “We are grateful we can offer this unique product to our customers,” said Mariya. “This handmade product used by knitters and crafters is making a lasting difference in the lives of vulnerable women and girls.”

“Seeing the women’s hope and joy makes all the hard work totally worth it,” said Brenda Flower. “Purchasing Freedom Yarn helps ensure these women’s freedom is not short lived but will be sustained for years to come!”

It is an honor for Hobby Lobby to partner with Freedom Yarn in making a lasting difference in the lives of women.

Read more about Freedom Yarn at www.ThatTheyRemainFree.com

Hobby Lobby, Theology, Uncategorized, Work

Three Reasons to Live Generously

February 13, 2017

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Generosity toward others is one of the best gifts we can give ourselves. You may have heard that it is more blessed to give than to receive and wondered if that is really true. Most of us enjoy being on the receiving end of someone’s generosity, but could it actually be better to be on the giving end?
Generosity is defined as showing a readiness to give more of something than is necessary or expected (such as money, time or an action). Recent studies show that living generously can positively affect us in many ways. Here are three reasons why it is a good idea to make generosity a habit:

1. Generosity makes us healthier, happier and less stressed
Let’s be honest–who isn’t looking to be healthier, happier and less stressed? Research shows that making a habit of living generously can reduce blood pressure, lower the risk of dementia, reduce anxiety and depression, improve chronic pain, lower stress and more. With schedules that are more fast pace than ever, this simple practice can bring great benefits. (Read more at Michael Hyatt’s blog)

2. Generosity is contagious
The winter season often carries with it the flu and cold season. In fact, I am getting over a cold right now. So, naturally this time of year we want to run from anything considered “contagious.” But what if instead of the stomach bug, we saw an outbreak of generous acts? Our workplaces, families, and communities could be transformed.
One act of generosity can go a long way. Generosity often sparks other actions of generosity and can lead to a chain reaction of impact far beyond the initiator. Even when we don’t get to see the chain reaction, each act of generosity still comes back as a blessing for the giver.

3. The greatest model of generosity encouraged us to do the same
It was Jesus himself who told us that, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). But beyond this direct encouragement, Jesus was also the ultimate example of generosity.
Jesus Christ spent his life serving others, and in the end was the ultimate example of generosity when he gave everything– even His life–for us as he went to the cross so that we might have a relationship with God (John 3:16). Jesus modeled generosity so we too could live generously toward others.

As my grandpa, David Green says: “We are put on this earth to give, to devote ourselves to a radical brand of generosity that changes lives and leaves a legacy. Generosity begins with an attitude that extends into every aspect of life, not just money.”

Generosity begins with an attitude that extends into every aspect of life, not just money. -@DavidGreenHL Click To Tweet

Consider today how you can show generosity. The benefits might surprise you.

-LM

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Hobby Lobby, Uncategorized

Book Review: Giving It All Away

January 25, 2017

Giving It All Away…and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living GenerouslyGiving It All Away…and Getting It All Back Again: The Way of Living Generously by David Green
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love this book. And not only because my grandfather, David Green, is the author. This book has years worth of wisdom on important topics such as family, work, and long-term vision.
The book begins by challenging the reader to live life intentionally: thinking long term. It encouraging the idea of leaving a legacy long after we are gone. Through the pages, the author walks through stories that shaped his life, such as the struggles of the Supreme Court battle for Hobby Lobby, an experience in the 1980s that almost brought the company to bankruptcy, and the path that lead the family to sign away the rights to the company. Even though I have lived the stories in this book, I still gained much wisdom through its pages! I highly recommend it!

View all my reviews

A legacy of true value is a legacy made of more than money. -@DavidGreenHL #GivingItAllAway Click To Tweet
Bible, Church, Life

Interview with Marked Podcast

January 16, 2017

I joined Mary Margaret on her podcast Marked! We talk about the Bible, community, and mentorship. You can check it out here:

MARKED Lauren Green McAfee

We have an opportunity in trials to show who Christ is in our lives. @marymargaretc #MarkedPodcast Click To Tweet My weakness is actually going to show Christ’s strength all the more. @LaurenAMcAfee #MarkedPodcast Click To Tweet We can trust that God will use whatever we have to offer in the way that He intends for it. @LaurenAMcAfee… Click To Tweet My foundation had to be firmly planted in Scripture. @LaurenAMcAfee #MarkedPodcast Click To Tweet We can constantly learn more from God’s Word. @LaurenAMcAfee #MarkedPodcast Click To Tweet
Hobby Lobby, Life, Uncategorized, Work

New city, new job…

December 13, 2016

BYP-56.jpg

I am so excited to announce that I am beginning a new job as Corporate Ambassador for Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. I am passionate about this company, its values, and its purpose. What an honor to serve the company where my working days first began.

It feels like just yesterday I was starting my first job at Hobby Lobby. It was unpaid, but as an eleven-year-old, I didn’t mind. I began the day after Christmas, and I was awake before sunrise. The Hobby Lobby stores were going to open in a few hours, and I had a job to do: assist the Hobby Lobby gift bag buyer in counting the Christmas gift bags that were left after the holiday.

My dad was the gift bag buyer, and because he needed to visit a few stores to get counts on the bags that were left after Christmas, it became a tradition that my siblings and I would join him to help his work go faster.

I remember getting to the stores before they were opened, and seeing the manager welcome us all in from the cold – my dad, and his four little assistants bouncing behind him, eager to be a part of his work. It felt so special- helping my dad, and working alongside family members while being a part of something bigger than us. That’s when my love for working at Hobby Lobby began.

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Throwback to when I was five years old – a few years before I started working with dad. 😉

So, after about a year living in New York City, I said goodbye to the Big Apple and moved back to Oklahoma City where the Hobby Lobby Corporate office is located. Michael and I loved our time living in Manhattan. I am convinced that the hardest time to move out of NYC is right around the holidays when the city comes to life with all of its magical decorations. What made this transition easier was knowing that it was God leading this change.

As I step into this new role, I can’t help but look back and remember those early days working with my dad in the stores. I never could have dreamed that so many years later, I would have the opportunity to serve as Corporate Ambassador, sharing with others the purpose and values of the company that I hold so dear.

New York, you will be missed. But here’s to another exciting adventure.

byp-118

-LM

P.S. Check out Michael’s latest blog post on the top 4 things he learned while living in NYC.

 

Family, Hobby Lobby, Life, Museum of the Bible, Uncategorized, Work

Latest interviews

October 29, 2016

Hey! If you would like to see my latest interviews, you can find them here!

IF:GATHERING

I sat down with Jamie Ivey while at If Gathering, and we discussed Museum of the Bible. The interview can be found here:

ifgathering

“Our hope and our mission for the museum is that we will invite ALL people to engage with the Bible.” @LaurenAMcAfee… Click To Tweet

 

SONDER PODCAST

I had a chance to discuss Hobby Lobby and religious liberty with my good friend Kirsten Haglund on her podcast Sonder. Our discussion is in Episode 4, found here:

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CALLED2BUSINESS 

When I spoke in Greenville, NC for a Called2Business luncheon, we filmed a quick segment on faith in business, and leaving a legacy. You can watch the short interview here:

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Our family has tried to be intentional about the values we hold as a business, and a family. -@laurenamcafee… Click To Tweet

-LM

Bible, Museum of the Bible, Uncategorized, Work

Museum Highlight: Performing Arts Theatre

October 17, 2016

What is one of the most interesting aspects of the museum?

This is an impossible question for me to answer. I’ve been asked about my favorite aspect or what is most interesting, and I never know what one thing to pick! In traveling around the country and sharing the vision of Museum of the Bible, I do get one common reaction from audiences. When I present the visuals of what the museum will look like, the one area that always receives an audible response from the crowd is the renderings of the performing arts theatre!

We are using a digital mapping technique to transform the theatre and its white walls into a enveloping experience that brings the audience into the production unfolding around them. Using seventeen high output projectors and angle-compensating software, digital images are seamlessly woven together over varied surfaces to create a coherent environment—scene, landscape, or background—for the visitor. Here are a few renderings of this immersive space:

Standard Theatre view:

theater_final_001

Theatre with digital mapping:

finaltheatre

theater_final_002

Theatre in concert mode:

theater_final_005

Theatre in Bible reading mode:

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theater_final_012

Amazing!

We love incorporating the latest in technology in the museum, and this is just one example. So whether it is a daily Bible reading happening in the theatre or a Broadway show making its way to our stage, you will absolutely want to experience the performing arts theater once we open in the fall of 2017.

-LM