Life: Backwards and Forwards.

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How ever true and deep does that quote feel in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and the Sandy Hook tragedy and the Aurora Colorado shooting and… and… and…

It feels like I’m living on edge lately. Knowing the next tragedy is right around the corner. Feeling like it’s personal tragedy that’s coming. Wondering Worrying about the future. Knowing our country can’t handle the state it’s in for too much longer.

We’re too broken, too crushed, too divided, too sad.
We’ve raised a generation of people unable to deal with the world around them. Individuals that resort to violence because they see no other way of getting their demons out.
And this is absolutely no excuse for the horrible tragedies that were caused by people and have rocked our country again and again. Absolutely not a suggestion that the pain that has been caused by these people is not real and alive and burning like a bonfire on a cold night.

But it makes you wonder, you know, when three national tragedies have occurred since last July when I sat in the breakfast room of a Georgia hotel at the end of a long week of praising Jesus with High Schoolers and heard on the news the sheer terror in a movie theater thousands of miles away. It makes you wonder where we’ve gone wrong. Makes you wonder where we’re headed.

And I refuse to be an apologist, with words that stick like a bandaid when your wound is full of gangrene and what you really need is an amputation.
What you really need is to be cared for. To be loved.
And all the words in the world and the conspiracy theories and “positive thoughts” don’t mean much to the mom who lost her son just minutes after he hugged his father on his best-day-gone-so-very-wrong.
And it doesn’t matter so much who did it if we can’t stop it from happening again.
Because the pain will keep on coming if we’ve lost the strength to defeat evil.

And a day, for sure, is coming that Jesus will destroy the evil in the world, once and for all.
A day is coming where loneliness and hatred and fear and just straight Satan will no longer cause the devastation that flashes across Twitter and burns straight into our hearts.
A day is coming where we will no longer be afraid.
Where the only thing to fear will be not knowing Jesus.
And I assure you that will be something to fear.

But what about today?
The day after. The day before.
When America is again in shock, wondering how this could happen in the home of the Brave.
Wondering what it will take to get back to normal.
What it will take to feel secure again.
Because the list of places we can feel safe is getting smaller and smaller.
And kids sit with anxiety in classrooms where their attention is less on the subject and more on the possibilities.
And I don’t go to the movies as much anymore because I know I’ll continuously glance at the door below that glowing Exit sign, trying to convince myself that I’m in Clinton, Mississippi and things like that just don’t happen here.
But noone ever thinks it’ll happen to them.
Rare is the day that any regular person wakes up and thinks, “Today, I will make national headlines,” or “Today is the one that will change my history.”

“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”

And today that means I’m praying for those affected by the Boston Marathon bombing.
Today, it means I’m hugging my dad a little tighter and planning more time at home.
Today, it means I’m soaking up memories with my best friends who will soon be dispersed across the south.
Today, it means I’m reflecting and loving and understanding.
I’m praising Jesus for the now because I can’t control my tomorrow.
It means I’ll be scared but not defeated.
Anxious but overcoming.
Holding onto the one who holds it all.

–Hallie

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Remembering Christmas.

Written at Christmas and stuck in my drafts, I found this today.
It’s funny how I have to learn the same lessons again and again.
I guess this is kind of an explanation of sorts of this post.
Here you go. 

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I have a conversation with a good friend, and he asks what I fear most.
My honest answer is “disappointing God”, but it goes out of my mouth peppered
with a remark about how my theology is somehow screwed up.
Laced with an apology of sorts because I know that’s not how I’m supposed to feel.
But I say it from the heart because I find myself where my relationship with God always seems to suffer:
in the busyness.

The past few weeks have been hectic to say the very least.

Exams were followed by a few days home, full of unpacking and packing.
Then Baton Rouge for Hannah’s graduation and home again
only to leave for a whirlwind trip of gift giving and party throwing in Belize.
We touched down at Gulfport “International”  just in time for church services and running into old friends and Christmas eve with family.

All wonderful, but I’m left on Christmas Eve while the family goes to the 5 o’clock service.
Left at home because my brain has shut down and sleep is the best form of worship I am able to offer. Somehow just as acceptable as lifting my hands high and bowing my head low in reverence of that baby boy, born in a manger 2,000 years ago.

Through sleep, I’m revitalized and enjoy an evening of celebration with family
and end the night at that white clapboard church on Ocean Avenue.
The one I love so much.
The service is different from any Christmas Eve service that I’ve ever attended before.
The room less than half full, no choir except the voices that stand to sing in the pews and
the angel echoes that seem to fill the high ceilings of that beautiful church.

As much as I love the packed house that has come with all the Christmas Eves of my past,
I have a feeling that it’s not a coincidence that I missed that service earlier.
Not just a happenstance that it’s just me and my mom,
along with just fifty other people, now here in the late and emptied church.
Because it’s always in the quiet that God reminds me of His love.
It’s in the stillness that I’ve been needing so desperately that He holds me close.

Because the past few weeks have been exciting and fun and exhilarating.
But some dreams have slipped away, and fears work so desperately to take their place in my mind.
Fears that whatever I do won’t be enough. And that I’ll never be so-and-so.
And that I won’t amount to much at all.
That God won’t come through because He seems ever-so-silent in an ever-so-scary world.
It’s in the busy that I’ve sacrificed my time with God
and then once again been reminded how desperately my need is for Him.

So I tell my friend that I’m fearful of disappointing God,
but as I think more, I realize that my fear is unfounded because
what I’m really afraid of is God disappointing me,
and that’s only possible if I seek the wrong things. If I seek the wrong gods.
Because my God is one who is incapable of disappointing.
One who gives good gifts to the ones that serve Him.
One that forgives and supplies and loves.

Oh, how He loves.

My God is the one who came to earth through a virgin and died on a cross.
The one who endured the unthinkable so he could forgive the unthinkable.
I can’t think of a better Christmas than one spent in thanksgiving of the life He lived
so that we would never die.

–Hallie

Thanks. Again.

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In one of those yuck moods that warrants a thankfulness post. See this if you don’t know what I mean.

I’m thankful for this blog.
I’m thankful that I’ve written in such a public forum and for the impact it’s had in my life and others’ lives over the past two years.
I’m thankful for Africa and how God got me there.
I’m thankful I have a record of some of the highlights of my trip.
I’m thankful for coming home. And the rough transition it was.
I’m thankful that I couldn’t immediately mesh into old ways, and I’m somehow thankful for the struggle I felt in 2012.
I’m thankful that God pushed me, seemingly against my will and sensibilities, into a psychology major.
I’m thankful that I somehow better understand people and each of our intricacies and similarities now.
I’m thankful that He never gave up on me.

Thankful that so many people have never given up on me.
Thankful to have the most incredible support system.
For parents who encourage the impossible and love the unforgivable.
For two churches who have changed my life.
Thankful for one that I ran as fast as I could from, the same one God has pursued me through over and over again.
Thankful for one that I ran quickly to, the one that I’ve pursued and quit time and time again.
Thankful for a new opportunity to learn and grow and pursue Him next year.

I’m thankful for friendships.
With people like a guy friend who teared up (in the most manly way) because our friendship has meant something good in his life.
And girl friends with bright futures, ones that have held me in hard times, sisters (metaphorically and literally) that have my heart pulled across state lines and sometimes time zones.
I’m thankful for new relationships and breakups. Because they both teach us something crazy about ourselves. Thankful for reconciliation and friendships. Thankful that it all really does work out in the end.
Thankful for awkward silences and silly faces. For being the big sister that I’ve always wanted to be and that hopefully she needs.
Thankful for my family of constant cheerleaders. The ones that think I’m fantastic even when my life feels like it’s falling apart. Thankful for the ones that will love me no matter what. Even more thankful because I know now not everyone has that in their lives.

I’m thankful.

Thankful for you. For whoever you’ve been. For whoever you’ll one day be.