It has been quite a while since my last post..so long in fact that letters z-v quit working on my keyboard in protest. Lots of new things happening,though life seems the same in most regards. Still in Richmond, though I am now in the part of town called Union Hill (a sub-section of Church Hill for all you RVA’rs). It is a bit more hood (as in gangsta), but I like it. It is also more hood as in more of a neighborhood..more families and long-time residents than my old place near VCU, which was more of a mecca for college students. I enjoy seeing the same people day in and day out (shout out to Blaze), and though there are many people out during the day, it seems pretty peaceful at night with the exception of the nightly Pitbull Chorus across the street. I have two roommates,and with the minor exceptions, we get along
without killing each other fairly well and even have fun together. It is great to live with women who love God because that means we are pretty much on the same page with what is acceptable in our home. God definitely set up the housing situation for us and put us in each others lives for a reason (sanctification, anyone? =) ).
While it may seem like a scary location to some for three young single women to live, because God was so evidently present in the process (one roommate called me out of thin air asking if I needed someone to live with. I had never heard of her and I wasn’t looking for a third roommate, but she turned out to be a believer looking at a three bedroom house..and..it worked out.) Driving down my new street to sign the lease the same week, I felt an overwhelming sense of rightness and peace. While we don’t always know why God takes us in certain directions, we always know the reason will be for His glory and our good. So to know God is leading, means it’s best that we follow. That’s a part of faith. So here we are. It may not be the safest neighborhood, but there are neat things about the area that I really love, like Captain Buzzy’s ( a cool local coffee shop), great parks with amazing views, and lots of charming houses (some next to abandoned shacks, granted) and tons of cute kids. Plus there are a good amount of friends close by. I am glad to be here.
Something else new: my church, Aletheia, which I love dearly, is going through a big transition. We have been partnering with another local church here in downtown Richmond for a few years now, with our pastors and elders training, praying, and dialoguing together about how to best reach our city with the good news of the Gospel. My pastor then had a crazy idea: Aletheia had all these great things about it, but there were areas where we struggled or needed improvement. Remnant was strong where we were weak and vice versa. So Pastor Josh proposed a marriage of sorts..letting our powers combine (Captain Planet, he’s our hero!) and being more effective and more equipped to disciple and care for our people, and to reach others for Christ, both locally and internationally. Two churches with the same heart becoming one church. It’s almost unheard of.
It is going to mean a lot of change (for me personally, it means stepping down as a leader of an all women Community Group because all groups will be co-ed). Our collective name won’t be Aletheia anymore. That’s hard. I have so many beautiful and sentimental memories attached to this particular group of people. All the praying, growing, hiking, teasing, laughter, tears, births, marriages (before the births), fights, reconciliations, successes, failures, missions, movies, rapping, learning, eating, Maymont, friendships, crushes, all of it. What a beautiful chapter of life this has been. It will be hard not to be Aletheia anymore. But.. as wonderful as this community has been, and as much as He has used it for His glory and has blessed us immeasurably through it, we are always called to follow God in what He is doing.: to hold the things we love with open hands because God is the one who gave it in the first place. And..we get to do it together.
We have been so very blessed with pastors who are eager to follow the Lord in obedience, regardless of personal preference, prestige, or comfort. I fully trust that they are leading us to this merger so that God will be glorified and people will grow up into mature followers of Christ and make new disciples. We are called to build God’s kingdom, not our own. Yes, there will be scary new people. Yes, the sanctuary is modern and different from what we are used to. But these new people are brothers and sisters who have been redeemed by the same Jesus who has changed OUR lives. I think it’s going to be amazing to get to know them and see how God has made them new; their desires, struggles, joys, transformations, mission: how awesome to see the miracle of a redeemed life and to get to hear all these new stories; to labor side by side. The amazing thing about God is that He provides for those who are obedient to Him. If he tells you to go, He will go before you and prepare the way. So we don’t have to be afraid of change, because God is constant and His character is consistent. God never promised we would find a comfortable niche and stay there. This life is short, and it can be unpredictable. That’s why our hope and joy can’t be situational or circumstantial. It is all about Him, and us loving Him and loving others and pointing them to the only One who can satisfy them. That’s it. If this is His way, then the smart thing to do is get on board and serve where He leads us to.
I praise God for leaders who are willing to bow their wills to God so that He is glorified though they may not be. That’s leading by example. This is going to be uncomfortable,but that’s okay. Jesus wasn’t very comfortable when He was on the cross but He was obedient to the point of death because He trusted God so much and knew that God’s plan would end well, because God is faithful. That’s the attitude I’m praying to have. I and some of the other girls have gone to one of the Remnant community groups and the people are awesome ( and they have good food. Holla!). We have more in common than we have in differences, because the Gospel breaks down all divisions and barriers. It’s so beautiful that God can take people who wouldn’t normally be friends and give them such great love and devotion to one another. That’s what God’s family looks like.
In other news, I have been watching documentaries like Food, Inc. and Forks over Knives, and reading books on the subject of eating more a plant-based,whole foods diet. Everyone has an opinion, and there are so many websites promoting different ways of eating. My personal conclusion is that we were originally designed to eat plants, nuts, seeds…things that grow and do not have a face or a mother. God made us food, and it is awesome! HOWEVER, later in the Bible, God allows the people to go ahead and eat meat. So, although I feel that we were designed to optimally perform on plant-based diets, it is ok to be a carnivore. HOWEVER, I don’t think manmade pesticides or the way we feed and treat our meat sources is ok. At all. It’s horrifying and gross. So, when I do eat meat or dairy, I want to know that the animals were treated humanely and fed what is natural to their diet. In anything I eat I would prefer that chemicals aren’t in the ingredient list. I want to eat food as close to the way God created it as possible. I am not going to be rude at other people’s houses. I have eaten the standard American diet most of my life and I survived. Now that I have knowledge, though, I will make the best decisions I can on my own time. I will not be obsessed, but I do care, about both the animals and about what I put in my body. I have also started working out again consistently and am surprisingly starting to
really enjoy not hate running.
Sadly, my beloved Grandfather passed away this past Saturday at the age of 92. He was a wonderful grandfather and I have many fond memories I will always cherish of him. I, by God’s grace, got to see him and spend time with him the day he died. He seemed to have had a stroke but was able to say a few things in the hours I was there; first off: “Who the hell are you?” to some of his family, and he was able to call my Uncle John by name, which was a gift. I have had a burden on my heart to share the gospel with my Grandpa the past few years, but have always chickened out. It’s harder with family. You don’t want them to think you are judging them, and you love and value their feelings and their thoughts of you. My grandparents are Catholic, and while I don’t think that some Catholic practices are Biblical, I know that my Grandma loves Jesus. She talks about God all the time, and she prays faithfully. With my grandfather it was different. He was great, and I loved him dearly , but if I am honest, I can’t say he loved Jesus. Religion is so tricky in that it can take obligation, ritual, and attendance and pass them as good enough. God wants all of us, every minute. A person who is truly born again will be a new creation, and spending time with God and a living for Him, not yourself, will not be out of duty but with thanksgiving and joy. Talking with Grandma on Saturday, she admitted that she always hoped he would get it, but he never did. When I was with him on Saturday, I put the message of the gospel, God’s sacrifice on behalf of sinners as the only way to eternal life, in a prayer. I prayed the Gospel out loud over my grandfather and asked Jesus to stand in place of him, to forgive Him and welcome him home. As I prayed,my grandfather clearly said “Jesus!” and “Please forgive me”. Friends, I don’t pretend to know if this means anything. Only God knows. But it was grace to know that something got through, grace that God allowed him to speak clearly to let me know my words weren’t falling on incoherence. My grandfather could only mutter incomprehensible things other than a very few times. I am sorry I waited until he was on his deathbed, but I would have been inconsolable had God not allowed me grace, once again, to FINALLY be obedient and speak truth into the life of this man who was so precious to me. This is a hard week, but God is faithful. In all things. Thanks for reading, especially if you made it this far. =)