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Bible, Family, Legacy, Only One Life, Uncategorized

The story of your life is changing the world…

July 27, 2018
This article was originally posted on Ann Voskamp’s blog.

Are you a woman of legacy?

The idea of leaving a legacy may sound intimidating. But legacy is not meant only for the elite few who have great power or influence.

It’s certainly a grand word, and a daunting word at that.

So let’s start by what we don’t mean. Legacy is not the idea of leaving financial wealth to someone. It’s not reserved only for people whose names will be in history books, on monuments, or in record books.

Legacy is far more.

It is the story of your life that lives on after you leave this earth. You write this story every day through the values you embrace and live out.

Your legacy can be positive or destructive, but the outcome is always up to you.

When viewed from this lens of small daily actions and how they add up, creating a legacy is the most important job we can undertake.

Creating a legacy is the most important job we can undertake. -@laurenamcafee @jackiedgreen #onlyonelifebook Click To Tweet

Legacy is crafted by our faithful everyday choices. Anyone can truly leave a lasting legacy—even you.

The hope for a legacy is: to outlive our lives by the impact we leave behind.

Now, whenever the subject of legacy arises among Christians, it is usually a reference to the legacy of men. It’s pretty safe to say that there are more men mentioned in the Bible, recognized throughout history, and likely to be recognized in leadership roles even today, not just in our country but around the globe.

Does this mean that women don’t matter as much? Of course not! We simply are more likely to be valued for roles that don’t get a plaque or an award.

This sentiment was reiterated by Bishop Ndimbe of Kenya when he said, “Train a man, you train an individual; train a woman, you build a nation.”

Not always, but most often, it is the women who have a directional and influential role in the way a society goes, because they are the ones most often taking care of that society’s most valuable asset: the next generation.

In a similar way, there are certain cultural and societal impacts that we women are uniquely gifted by God to make.

In every place on earth and in every time in history, right down to ours, women have been the keepers of the flame of family unity and the binders of the cords of connectedness. We are seemingly handcrafted by God Himself to be the conversation starters, the communication hubs, and the culture keepers.

Typically, women serve as the family scribes and historians. With our scrapbooks, newsletters, cards, and social media posts, we celebrate the milestones, keep in touch with friends and family members, share the news of both victories and challenges, and chronicle every aspect of family history.

We also tend to function as the cultivators of connection and relationship. Who takes the time to care for the office staff and maintain culture? Who plans the office Christmas celebrations and birthday parties? In most cases, it is we women.

We are usually the ones reading the stories or saying the bedtime prayers, snuggling in rocking chairs, whispering words of comfort, affirmation, and biblical truth into impressionable little ears.

It is in our nature to pour ourselves into the ones we love, and that is a beautiful part of legacy. 

Legacy is so much more than your family history or the possessions you pass on to the next generation. As Dr. James Dobson once said at a conference, “Heritage is what you give to someone. Legacy is what you do in someone.”

All of this and more endows the Christian woman with an amazing power, not to mention an immense responsibility. Our unique roles and gifts provide us with the opportunity to be influencers

Your unique roles and gifts provide you with the opportunity to be influencers. -@laurenamcafee @jackiedgreen… Click To Tweet

How we use that power is up to us. We can wield it in positive, negative, or neutral ways.

As a woman, whether or not you happen to be a mother, you have an irreplaceable role in our society.

God created women with unique gifts and traits, and we all have an important role in passing on our legacy of faith.

Our hurting world needs godly women leaders now more than ever.

We can lead. We must lead.

Future generations will bless us if we press through our obstacles, fears, and insecurities to meet the sobering challenges our families and communities now face, and invest in others.

Doing so will create a positive ripple affect for generations to come.

What will your legacy be?

 

-LM and Jackie Green

 

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Bible, Church, Culture, Family, Legacy, Life, Only One Life

The Beauty of a Life Surrendered

March 27, 2018

Editors note: This article was originally published at foreverymom.com

Billy Graham’s funeral earlier this month marks the celebration of a man whose impact is incalculable. This was a man who spoke to 215 million people, wrote dozens of books, founded the influential Lausanne Movement, counseled thirteen United States Presidents, and led the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in his lifetime. He no doubt should be recognized for the great man that he was. But as we reflect on his life, we would be remiss if we didn’t take the time to recognize his partner in all of his accomplishments: his loving wife of over 60 years, Ruth Bell Graham.

The cliché goes “behind every great man is a great woman.” In Billy Graham’s case, this is certainly true.

As the world knew Billy Graham for his packed crusades and gospel preaching, fewer knew of Ruth Bell Graham’s equally important role in crafting the Graham family legacy.

Ruth Bell Graham: A Legacy of Loyalty

Ruth was born in China to missionary parents Dr. Nelson and Virginia Bell. Growing up with missionary parents, Ruth developed her own love for foreign missionary work and felt a deep sense of calling to move to the largely unreached nation of Tibet.

Before pursuing her calling as a missionary, Ruth attended Wheaton College in Illinois. While there, her life and calling would forever be changed after meeting a young man with a passion for preaching. That man was her future husband, Billy Graham. When Ruth and Billy fell in love, Ruth had to decide what to do with her conflicting desires. She wanted to marry Billy, but he had no plans to become a foreign missionary.

Ruth ultimately set aside her fears and confusion, married Billy, and trusted God to work out their mutual calling. Neither of them had any idea that her heart for the world and his heart for preaching would end up serving them well in their future ministry together. Ruth chose to be loyal to her soul mate, and she worked alongside him in ministry for 43 years.

In those 43 years, Ruth may not have been the one on stage, on air, or on television – but her ministry and legacy is equally as important. Former president of Wheaton College Dr. Duane Litfin once remarked, “Strong, steady, and dauntless, Ruth Bell Graham was the glue that held the many of the parts of their lives together.” 

Because of her faithfulness to God, Ruth not only had a part in making Billy’s ministry possible, she was a spiritual encourager to her husband. Rev. Graham explained, “I have been asked the question, ‘Who do you go to for counsel, for spiritual guidance?’ My answer: my wife, Ruth. She is a great student of the Bible.” God used Ruth to minister to America’s minister.

She also greatly invested in their children as she stayed home during much of Billy’s travels. Investing in her children would prove to make an impact that still lives on today as many of them have ended up working at the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, starting their own ministries, speaking, writing, and serving the Lord in various ways. Her impact lives on in her children and grandchildren. What a legacy!

A different interpretation

While reflecting on this incredible woman and the faith legacy that she has left behind, I couldn’t help but wonder how our culture might view this fiercely loyal woman. I fear those who hold up the banner of “feminism” would be forced to deny any claim that Ruth Graham’s life is an example for other women.

Ruth, after all, largely set aside her dream of being a missionary in Tibet in order to get married and support her husband’s calling. She also stayed home and raised their many children while her husband’s career in ministry skyrocketed. These life choices are likely to be criticized by those who speak on behalf of women in the feminist movement.

A simple Google search of the word “feminism” shows the dictionary definition as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” This sounds like something nearly everyone should agree upon, right? Yet, when we see feminism played out in American culture, it often translates into a very narrowly defined set of life choices. In order to be “pro-woman”, the loudest culture voices would say a person must be pro-choice, pro-career outside of the home, and downplay the value of having and raising children. 

With that understanding of what it means to be feminist, those who claim it’s view would have to look at Ruth Graham’s life as a failure.

Eternal Perspective

Thankfully, we can recognize Ruth’s life for what it was: A life that created a lasting legacy; a life that truly outlived itself.

As people of faith, our perspective should be shaped by what the Bible teaches, not what our culture claims. And while we must give complete ownership to God for the success of Billy and Ruth Graham’s influence, we can recognize that He chose to work through Ruth and her partnership with Billy to accomplish great Kingdom impact.   

As we rightly reflect on Billy Graham’s incredible impact in our world, I am deeply grateful for the faithful witness of Ruth Bell Graham who loyally served alongside Billy to accomplish God’s calling for their family. She may not be recognized by feminists today, but in God’s kingdom – she was a faithful servant. 

In my forthcoming book Only One Life, I’ve written about Ruth Bell Graham and many other women like her who choose to daily surrender their lives to God. Through seemingly small offerings of faithfulness, God has used women to bring about great change in the world. 

How will you shape your choices today to shape an eternal legacy?

 

-LM

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
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
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:

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Theatre with digital mapping:

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Theatre in concert mode:

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Theatre in Bible reading mode:

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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

Bible, Culture, Millennials, Theology, Uncategorized

Theology Matters: Doctrine and Theology

October 7, 2016

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“Studying theology is just too hard. I’m not a scholar so it’s not for me.”

“Why do I need to know doctrine? I know God loves me and that’s good enough!”

“Theology is boring; I would rather read something more interesting.”

“Doctrine causes division.”

 

Have you ever had these thoughts? I know I have.

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My current reading has lead me to realize the importance of understanding doctrine and studying theology. I’ve been reading some books that emphasize this point: Women of the Word by Jen Wilkin and Worship Matters by Bob Kauflin.

Doctrine and theology are words that some in my generation (millennials) may find divisive, yet on the flip side, we see a resurgence in the desire for greater depth in faith from millennials. (Recent study that shows youth and young adults value substance over style.)

Theology is “the study of God.” Our theology is shaped by how we view God from what we’ve studied (or from our lack of study).

Doctrine, which originates from the Latin word for “teach” (docere), means “what is taught.” Doctrine also can be about what is taught on a specific topic—such as the doctrine of salvation, gifts, worship, etc.

Theology matters.

Theology matters because it is the study of God, and there is nothing more worthy of our thoughts than God.

There is nothing more worthy of our thoughts than God. Click To Tweet

But theology also matters because it shapes how we live. Whether it’s how we vote, if we get married, how we handle our finances, how we view our work—our understanding of who God is shapes every area, whether we realize it or not. The more accurately we know God through his Word, the more effectively we can live out lives of genuine worship of Him.

 

Applying our minds to study theology and doctrine is worth it.

I used to think that if studying the Bible felt forced, then I should stop and come back later when my heart was in it. I thought it seemed fake, like going through the motions or checking off a box by studying, when I didn’t “feel” like it. I’ve changed my mind.

Mark 12:30 speaks of loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Yet in our world where feelings often rule our hearts, it is easy to make excuses for applying our minds to thoughtful study. Instead, we want to sit through a worship service that makes us “feel” connected to God or listen a sermon that makes us “feel” good. While these are good things, we also must have the balance of knowing God with our minds. Emotions ebb and flow, and in the moments or seasons when I don’t “feel” God near me, my world can be stabilized by the truths of what I know of God’s character—regardless of how I feel.

 

Transformation moves from the mind to the heart.

As Jen Wilkin helpfully says, “The heart cannot love what the mind does not know.”

In her book Women of the Word, Wilkin writes of the scientific community’s study of the mind-before-heart connection. When asked how to get more pleasure out of life, Dr. Paul Bloom of Yale University answered, “Study.”
A practical example of his point came from my love of coffee. I don’t enjoy coffee more by gulping down gallons and gallons of it. The enjoyment of coffee can be greater felt when I learn about coffee—how to appreciate it, recognize its distinct flavors, the different roasts, etc. Jen Wilkin puts it this way in her book:

Bloom has found that pleasure results from gaining knowledge about the object of our pleasure, not, as we might assume, from merely experiencing it over and over. Specifically, our pleasure increases in something when we learn its history, origin, and deeper nature . . . Finding greater pleasure in God will not result from pursuing more experiences of him, but from knowing him better. (p. 31)

 

Growing in theological and doctrinal understanding is a lifelong process. Take it in steps that are do-able for you. The best way to grow in these areas is to get into the Bible. Beyond reading the Bible, I find it helpful to read others’ writings about their study of the Bible or various areas of doctrine.

 

I’ve written a number of posts about how I engage in the Bible, and there are a lot of great resources that I link to in these previous posts. Maybe you’ll find something there to help you get started.

-LM

Here are the results of my twitter poll on Theology and Doctrine:

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Bible, Culture, Family, Millennials, Theology

Millennials and Marriage

August 31, 2016

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My little sister, Danielle, just got married. I have four younger sisters, and she is the first to join me in the married club. Danielle is one of my best friends, and I absolutely love walking with her through the different seasons of life. Now that will include walking with her in this new, exciting chapter in her life! She is 23, and she and Caleb have a cute little place to call their own. Yet the latest research shows that they are not the norm.

Why are millennials (18-34 year olds) more likely to be living with their parents than living with a spouse? A 2014 Pew Research report noted that for the first time in American history since 1880, young adults are more likely to be living with parents than living with a spouse or cohabitating with a partner. The Pew report points to a few reasons why this might be so:

  1. The postponement of marriage until later in their twenties (or total retreat from marriage).
  2. Lower employment rates among young people, and increasingly lower wages (after inflation) for young men when compared to 1970.
  3. Higher college enrollment since the Great Recession (late 2000s to early 2010s) led to more young adults living at home.

Although all of these reasons are suggested as causes for this phenomenon, the report emphasizes the delay of marriage as the leading cause, over and above the lower employment rates and higher college attendance factors.

Having lived in two U.S. cities that vary culturally – Oklahoma City and New York City – I have seen both ends of the spectrum when it comes to marriage age. New York is one of the oldest-marrying states, with the average marriage age being 28.8 for women and 30.3 for men. The only location with an older-marrying age is Washington, DC. In contrast, Oklahoma is one of the youngest-marrying states, with the average marriage age being 24.8 for women and 26.3 for men. Only Utah, Idaho, and Wyoming have a younger-marrying age.

I’ve heard a lot of people, too, that support the idea of marrying at an older age. Their logic is understandable: enjoy singleness, be independent and free while you can, “find yourself” before you settle down, focus on your career first, etc. But what about doing these things alongside a spouse? It may take longer, because there inevitably needs to be time factored into your schedule to work on the marriage – but I also think there is great power in partnering.

Our culture sees individual autonomy as the highest good. Yet while this does keep some people from having a positive view of marriage as the gift that it is, I want to acknowledge that there are also those who are led to remain single or desire to be married but haven’t found the right person yet. To those that are single, your singleness does not mean that you are “incomplete,” or waiting for “real adulthood” to begin. Singleness should be valued. God uses single people to teach others valuable lessons as well. But I want to challenge those of us in the millennial generation that may delay marriage because of the cultural notion that individual autonomy should be valued over collaboration.

I recently read an article where Jeannie Gaffigan, wife of comedian Jim Gaffigan, was being interviewed. She points out that culture subliminally tells us that we have to be 100% on our own – independent and autonomous. But independence can be overrated. It is not weak to be joined up with someone – whether a spouse or even a team. We can accomplish more in a team than we can on our own. The same goes for marriage. When you are teamed up with someone, it may take a little longer to get where you want to be, but in the end you can go farther.

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I was younger than the average Oklahoman when I got married at 21 in 2009, and I wouldn’t change it for anything. Marriage has taught me a lot over the years. It has shown me more of my selfishness than anything else in my life thus far, and I value those lessons. (I hear this happens all over again when you have kids– but I’m not there yet!) It has also taught me how to work with someone who has opposite strengths, and this has allowed me to grow in areas where I am weak. I also have built-in accountability, which grows my character. All of these things have been beneficial for me in other areas of life and in my work.

Mostly what I am grateful for is the way that I’ve learned more about the gospel through marriage. Marriage is not for my happiness, but for my holiness. My husband has seen my worst moments, and I have seen his. No one can cause more pain than those closest to you, and in the times where I have wronged Michael, he has showed me grace and forgiveness. And likewise, as he has wronged me, I have had the chance to practice forgiveness for him. I can have the strength to forgive because I know that I have been forgiven exponentially more through Jesus Christ’s (Colossians 2:12-13; 3:12-17; 1 John 4:7-12, 19-21).

Marriage was created by God and is for our good. Let’s not allow culture to fool us into de-valuing this gift.

 

-LM

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Colossians 3:12-14

More pics from the magical night can be found on my instagram @laurenamcafee!

Bible, Life, Museum of the Bible, Travel, Uncategorized, Work

“Busy” is not synonymous with “Successful” – Managing life well

June 24, 2016

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Have you noticed that when people are asked “How are you?” their response, more and more, is “Busy!”? I’ll admit, this is often my go-to response. It is the natural reply that rolls off of my tongue during friendly small-talk conversation. When I began to realize that this had become my typical reply, and dug a little deeper to try to understand why, I discovered that one of the reasons I want to say “Busy!” is because I want to make it sound like I am doing a lot of important things. It is an easy way of giving a #humblebrag. So I’ve decided that I want something better to say.

This is not to say that “busy” isn’t a truthful response, but I don’t want it to be my standard. Honestly, I don’t always even feel busy. I do have a full schedule, but it mostly involves things that I am passionate about and that fuel and energize me. Besides investing in my marriage, relationships, and spiritual journey, I get to work full time for Museum of the Bible, wear my “Hobby Lobby/Green family member” hat at times, live on the road 60% of the time, and try to keep up with my inbox, blog, and social media activities. And for some crazy reason, I just enrolled in two graduate level seminary courses!

Maybe my go-to response will be #blessed or “better than I deserve!”—but those seem trite and too #Christiancheesy. While I continue figure out what to say when asked “How are you?”, here are a few ways that I keep my schedule under control to avoid mental and spiritual burnout.

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1. Knowing myself and my limits.

A few weeks ago, I forgot this one. I had some work events that were higher stress than normal, and I didn’t give myself room to decompress afterward. I went from hosting a three-day retreat for women that are speakers and leaders, right into a three-week travel schedule to seven different cities/events, and ending back in OKC just in time for a full weekend of college graduation festivities for my brother-in-law. When I landed in OKC to change clothes and go right into graduation party mode, I was not in a good place—and Michael and I were having conflict. It wasn’t pretty. And it affected half of the celebration weekend. (Sorry to those of you that were around me!)

I needed to let myself have time to recover and rest. I need to make sure I have space in my schedule to allow for recovery when I see that things might be hectic for an extended time. We were not created to work for rest, but to work from rest. And if there are seasons when it isn’t possible to create that space due to situations that don’t allow a Sabbath kind of rest, I need to be sure I lean on God to give me the strength to make it through that time with grace. This leads to my second point.

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2. Not sacrificing my time with God.

I need to keep my spiritual walk a priority. When the schedule begins to fill up, and knocks other things off my schedule, I have to fight to keep this a priority. I need time with my Bible and time in prayer. It should be unthinkable that I can’t find time in my schedule for the Creator of all things.

God sustains me during the busy seasons better than any other gimmick or tip I could write about. I experience a significant difference when I am spending quality time with God than when I am setting aside that relationship as a lesser priority. God, and the truths from the Bible, is my greatest strength and sustainer. Yet for some reason, I still allow myself to forget and sacrifice that time for lesser things.

To this point, the friends of Martin Luther said he spent three hours in prayer every day. I don’t know what Luther’s schedule was like, but I have to assume it was pretty busy, with the-whole-starting-of-the-Protestant-Reformation-thing he did. He made time to pray, and it served him well.

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3. Creating a system that works for managing everything.

Whether its starting the day with reviewing my to-do list, or spending the first 15 minute at the office to say hello to co-workers, has led me to figure out my routines and processes and to use them. Since people have different personality types and temperaments, creating a system for managing things will be different for each person. This is something I learned when I got married, but saw even more clearly as I started working alongside my hubby. I saw that what worked for me as a system of keeping up with friends, work, spiritual life, etc. did not work for Michael. We have very different personality types and skill sets, so our life management strategies differ.

Here is one small practical example: Michael is an external processor, and he also tends to process his thoughts quickly. So for emails, he reads a complex email and can respond fairly quickly with a thoughtful reply. For me, I am an internal processor, and I need time to gather my thoughts. So I have a system that works for me where I read an email, and if I need to process it, I mark it a certain way and come back to it a little later to reply.

Another example is how we prioritize our Bible reading. I’ve found that the best way to keep consistent in reading my Bible is to do it at night. This has become a part of my routine, and I read my Bible and journal my prayers at night before I go to bed. This is not a system that works for Michael, and it won’t be the system that works for a lot of people as I discovered in an informal Twitter poll I took last week. I asked, “When do you read your Bible?” Out of 270 respondents, the results showed that 54% said “Random times,” 28% said “Morning,” 15% said “Night,” and 3% said “Weekends.”

We are all different, and it’s a wonderful thing. Find what works for you, and put your process to work.

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4. Lastly, I give myself grace!

I won’t always balance the schedule and life perfectly, and in those times I am thankful for a God full of grace.

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For a helpful book that provides perspective on how to manage the culture of busyness with a biblical worldview, I recommend Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung.

›LM

Bible, Church, Family, Theology, Uncategorized

Six Ways I Engage with the Bible: Part 3, Additional Reading

May 23, 2016

When I was a freshman in high school, I vividly remember reading my first book on spiritual growth. I had grown up in the church, and been exposed to Bible teachings and Bible study for as long as I can remember. I was periodically reading the Bible on my own, trying to understand how it could help my high school struggles. But when I discovered books that could help my spiritual growth by expanding on spiritual disciplines and theology, I was hooked.

I’ll be honest. The motivation for reading that first book was out of a desire to impress an older guy at my school who had recommended it. Despite the selfish motivation, it had an impact on me. The book was Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire by Jim Cymbala. Cymbala is a pastor in Brooklyn, NY, and I actually got to enjoy lunch with his daughter Susan just last month! Meeting her and touring the Brooklyn Tabernacle (which the book is about) brought me back to those high school days when my passion for reading was set on fire.

When I read Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, I was stepping out of my small context in Oklahoma City, and I was brought into the stories of how people’s lives were changed through the prayers of people in the church of Brooklyn, NY. I read stories of people with deep faith, despite difficult circumstances. It inspired me to want to strengthen my faith as well.

As I began reading Christian books, I loved them so much that I actually haven’t read anything but non-fiction since I graduated high school! It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I read an article by Dr. Russell Moore encouraging the reading of some fiction, and also my husband buying me the Harry Potter books for my birthday that brought me to read my first fiction book in ten years. I must say, I am loving the Harry Potter books—I have been such a fan of the movies, I figured I may as well give the books a try. Plus, I just went to “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter”™ in California, so the timing was perfect.

Getting back to the point though . . . . In reading various books, I have found that authors who have studied the Bible can provide me with deeper insight of my favorite book. Through good books, I benefit from others’ study of theology and the Bible. It also allows me to see how they understand and apply it in their thinking and lives. Hearing this additional perspective provides more opportunity to relate to the text of scripture.

Through the years, I have read a number of books by a variety of authors. Some have been good, and others were . . . well, let’s just say I wish I could get the time back that I spent on them. The experiences with those books can be helpful, too, though. As I read, I want to consider all of the author’s claims, and compare to what I know of the Bible to ensure that I am not absorbing bad theology. If I am unsure about something I’ve read, I usually discuss it with someone who I know can help me think through it. For me, I usually work through these questions with my husband and get his feedback. I am grateful to have a husband who is theologically trained and knowledgeable about the Bible. Discussing my questions with him is helpful, and I enjoy learning from my husband’s feedback.

Let me share with you my five favorite books for spiritual growth:

  1. Trusting God: Even When Life Hurts by Jerry Bridges

This is one of my all-time favorites. Jerry Bridges takes a look at the sovereignty of God, and his faithfulness, even when life seems unjust. I read this book during a difficult time in my family, and it was an incredibly helpful reminder that despite the broken promises or broken trust that I have experienced with people, I can trust God because he is perfect in keeping his promises.

  1. Humility by C.J. Mahaney

I love this book because I constantly need to push back against my pull toward pride. I was reading an article the other day that put it like this: “When you stand in the water at the beach you feel the persistent pull of the current. Regardless of how long you stand in that water the current will, with varying intensity, pull you. To deny or minimize it will result in potential bodily harm. Such is the case with pride” (Erik Raymond). Thus, I love this book Humility, and it helps me keep my pride in check.

  1. Knowing God by J.I. Packer

I read this book recently and found it a bit more practical than some of the others. Packer shares deep theological knowledge, but also conveys the realities of trying to live out the Christian faith in the day-to-day world. Knowing God is a classic. It was voted in Christianity Today as one of the top fifty books that have shaped evangelical Christians.

  1. Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die by John Piper

In this book, Piper looks at fifty reasons found in the New Testament for why Jesus came to die. This is a look at the meaning behind the cross of Christ. It was a humbling book, as well as a reminder of many truths that often get overlooked. Each chapter is one page, so it is easy to read a chapter a day or use as a devotional.

  1. Radical by David Platt

This book helped shape and challenge me when it comes to my struggle with materialism. Radical is more than a book on materialism, though. The book is about following Christ, no matter what. There is a lot of discussion about material things that sidetrack us from being “all in” for God, but the book as a whole points to the life transformation that happens in every area of life because of the gospel.

These are just some of my favorites from what I have read, but there are so many more that I am sure I haven’t gotten to yet! For a few more suggestions, check out my friend Matt Brown’s list for what he thinks are the 5 best books on spiritual growth.

Do you have any recommendations? I would love to hear what your favorite spiritual growth books have been!

-LM