Love and Faith

What If?

I’ve learned that when God wants to teach me something (and usually a repeat lesson, I can be stubborn on occasion), He is the most Creative out there. He doesn’t stop at Scripture or prayer (although I’m a fan of both). He brings in all the things – even a country song.

Have you heard the song “What If” by Kane Brown? It hit the radio a few months ago. It’s super catchy and cute and I became an instant fan. Here’s some of the lyrics:

You say what if I hurt you, what if I leave you
What if I find somebody else and I don’t need you
What if this goes south, what if I mess you up
You say what if I break your heart in two then what…

What if I was made for you and you were made for me
What if this is it, what if it’s meant to be
What if I ain’t one of them fools just playin’ some game
What if I just pulled you close, what if I leaned in
And the stars line up and it’s our last first kiss
What if one of these days baby I’d go and change your name
What if I loved all these what ifs away

When it came on the radio several weeks back, I thought to myself how the “What If” idea isn’t only for romance. It’s for all aspects of life. It’s easy to become cynical in the world we’re living, but I never want to.

Recently, the Life Group I host and co-lead picked a study by Mark Batterson and you know what it’s called? What If. No lie. The whole bible study is based around Romans 8:31:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

In one of the recent video studies, Batterson talked about Ephesians 3:20. It’s been a life verse for several years now. Years back, when I was in Austin, my church did a whole series on it. Through this new study, God has been reminding me what He taught me back in Austin. No joke, a couple of days after that study, my morning scripture reading was Ephesians 3. I legit laughed out loud as soon as I opened up my bible. To top it off, I started decorating for Christmas (Judge away internet. Judge away. ;)) and an ornament I didn’t even know I had, had Ephesians 3:20 written on it.

I’ve kept this for years and is a reminder I see every morning

There’s been conversations with friends, with coworkers and even other books I’ve read….all things that God has brought into my path, reminding me Who He is, what He is able to do and what He wants to do. So why would I ever stop asking What If?

What if…
…I could get that job?
…that dream was worth going after?
…I became the parent I believe I could be?
…that relationship were possible?
…We pursued adoption?
…I could make that move?
…I put myself out there to make friends?
…I took that chance?

These are several “what ifs” I’ve heard people in my life ask and prayer through. I’ve been inspired by these people. In the past, I’ve sometimes done the, “well if I don’t ask for it, I won’t be disappointed when God says no.” It’s easier that way isn’t it? But what a depressing and fearful way to live. We were made for so much more.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I’ll share one more quote from the video study that has stuck with me since: “God has blessings for you in categories that you don’t even know exist.”

May we always live life that way. Expectant and willing.

What I love about this truth is, it’s for everyone. Whether you’re “what if” makes you famous or whether it gives you the courage to be the parent you want to be (or both!), God’s truth remains the same and that “what if” will change the world.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

What’s the “What If” in your life?

And in case you want to hear the country song – here y’all go!

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Women of the Bible

Anna of the New Testament | Women of the Bible

A few months ago, I read an article that featured some women of the Bible, lesser known women and what their stories mean for us today. I loved it. Not only because there were quite a few I didn’t remember (or know #honesty), but I was encouraged by the fact that God doesn’t waste space in the Bible. They were very short features, but none the less, it got me on this kick to study lesser known women in Scripture.

Enter in a new “series.” Y’all know me and my “series.” Sometimes they are on point and consistent, sometimes I forget I started them and sometimes I have nothing more to say on the topic – ha! But anyway, I think this will be good for me….the whole studying scripture thing is always good for my soul. 🙂 (If interested in more Women of the Bible posts, check them out here!)

I have never understood how people who have read the New Testament miss the way Jesus interacted with women. Even stories of women from the Old Testament are inspiring. What I see is women leading, serving, being loved deeply by Jesus.

Some the biggest inspirations over my life and faith come from the bible. Of course there are the big names, like Esther, Ruth and Mary, but I love how God also weaved in so many other stories of women. Lesser known women who may have one or two sentences in scripture, but still have an incredible story to tell.

One such woman? Anna of the New Testament. This was what we know of Anna from scripture from Luke 2:36-38:

There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

She gets two verses in the entire Bible. Just two. At first glance that may not seem like much and that there might not be much to learn from Anna. Yet.

Isn’t that just like Jesus? What we might see as insignificant is far more than we can imagine. Plus, if you’re mentioned in the Bible that’s legit. Unless, it’s for shady reasons (where to even start with this list?), then totally not legit.

So Anna. She got married as many young women back then did. Only seven years later, her husband died. That in itself is terrible, but in a culture where women depended on men in many ways, I can only imagine the extra grief that was set before Anna.

Yet.

She chose joy and serving the Lord. For 84 years! Fasting, worshipping, praying. Just think about that. I mean, real talk for a quick minute, I sometimes fall asleep after 3 minutes of prayer. But Anna was committed and because of this, Anna is the New Testament’s only named female prophetess. #Status

I would say Anna was content with her life. She had dedicated her life in service to the Lord and never gave up on that mission. I really believe she could have gone on to glory and that would have been more than enough for Anna. But the Lord wasn’t finished with her. Because then, Baby Jesus was born (Can I get a Hallelujah and Amen?).

What she thought was another day of praying, fasting and worshipping at the Temple, was much more. Instead, Anna was gifted with perfect timing of seeing Jesus and witnessing Simeon bless baby Jesus.

What an incredible gift! What was Anna’s response? Telling any and all about Jesus and the redemption of Jerusalem.

So yeah, I would say there’s a few things to learn from Anna and her two verses.

Life doesn’t always turn out how we expect
But we can cling to the hope that God still reigns, He has a plan and His timing is perfect.

When we trust Him, He blesses us more than we can imagine
And in ways we couldn’t dare to imagine. But do not dare not to dare friends.

When we draw close to the Lord, He draws near to us
Lord, may I never lose sight of this!

I hope you were encouraged by Anna’s story as I was! Have you read much about Anna before? In what ways has life turned out a bit different than expected?

Author Interviews

4 Questions With New York Times Bestseller Tosca Lee

She’s an incredible and engaging storyteller who brings to life whatever subject she chooses to write on. Poignant, fascinating, impactful and engaging are a few more words to describe the work Lee creates. And she’s a New York Times bestseller, so guess what? It isn’t me just being nice ;)! So excited to have her on the blog today!

Tosca Lee is a New York Times best-selling novelist whose works include the critically acclaimed Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and The Books of Mortals series (Forbidden, Mortal, Sovereign) with best-selling author Ted Dekker. Iscariot, Tosca’s highly-anticipated novel about the infamous betrayer of Christ was recently released. She is best known for her exploration of maligned characters, lyrical prose and meticulous research. Tosca received her B.A. in English and International Relations from Smith College and has also studied at Oxford University. A former first runner-up to Mrs. United States and lifelong world adventure-traveler, Tosca makes her home in the Midwest.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
That I’d be doing what I love (writing stories) for a living and have the words “New York Times Bestseller” in front of my name. How crazy is that??

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
You know, I would have finished my last semester of college. I graduated a semester early just because I could, and because I somehow thought that was better, but it’s such a special time in life with friends that you never get back–if I could do it all over, I’d enjoy those few extra months before venturing into the real world. 🙂

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
This may sound cheesy, but they’re all happy in some way. I love going to eat brunch with my friends. Or going to ballet (after being quite serious about becoming a ballerina as a teen, I now do it just for fun and the spiritual practice of returning to the barre). Making dinner, or meeting my readers out on the road–that is a real highlight. But I choose to be happy every moment that I think of it!

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
That we all get to make choices, but we don’t need to take them so seriously. There are a few really important ones–about faith, about our life partners–that are big ones. But in general we need to lighten up. Choose to be happy. Don’t be a victim. Do what you love. Make no excuses. Love extravagantly and without condition. Be love to all you meet.

Thanks so much Tosca for joining the blog today! You can connect with Tosca through Facebook, Twitter and her website!