Following Him…

Last week when I was coming home from work, I was thinking about a friend of mine and I decided to pull into downtown Nashville and pick up a “happy” for her at the LifeWay store on Broadway. My husband was having a bible study with our neighbor and this way I wouldn’t be busting up in the middle of their study and distracting them. While I was in LifeWay, this feeling came over me… one that I’ve had before in similar situations. I found myself wanting to do nothing but stay in that store and read all day long. There were so many books that I wanted to sit and read, so many authors that I love, so many journals that I wanted to fill with my thoughts, so many encouraging cards that I wanted to write and send to people.

I’m a leader at work, I majored in organizational leadership in college, I’ve lead worship for children and college students, I’ve lead bible studies, I’ve lead mission trips and in every single organization that I have ever been a part of, I’ve been in some sort of leadership role. And I love it. I love shaping and developing those that I’m privileged to work beside into being their best and how that will impact our company. I love leading others in worship and being completely humbled by God’s message beckoning the hearts of his people through song. I love studying the bible with women and learning more of how God’s speaking to my heart from how God’s moving in theirs. I love seeing that spark in a college students face while they are serving God in missions when they grasp that this is exactly what He was talking about in the Great Commission.

But today, I am not a leader. Today, on my day off, I get to be a follower. I get to sit on my couch (still in my jammies!), read through Angie Smith’s book, listen to my IF:Gathering Wednesday Worship Playlist on Spotify and write from my heart. I don’t have to be a leader today, I can simply be a follower of Jesus here in the quiet with nothing else taking precedence. I can simply be a follower to my husband as he leads my family and serve him by preparing our home for his return from work today. And as much as I love that God has equipped me since the beginning with this ability to lead, all I really want to do is follow, day in and day out.

All I have been able to think about since last week is how I want to do nothing else but write books that make women feel the exact same way. I want to write books that make women feel empowered and encouraged in their walk with the Lord. I want to write books that make women examine the redemptive power they’ve experienced in their life and the impact that’s made on their own faith journey. And that’s all I want to do. And I feel that is the best way that I can use the gifts and abilities that God has given me; to follow Him, to write what He’s teaching me in hopes of leading others closer to Him.

Would you pray for me in that? Would you pray that M and I would be faithful as we seek Him, as we follow Him and as we wait patiently for His timing?


Racism is Reality…

That’s right. You read the title of my blog correctly. Racism is a reality in today’s society. No, we don’t have segregated schools and pools and restrooms but there is real race-based hatred that still stirs our streets today. We can watch movies like The Help, The Butler and Selma and think about how far we’ve come but if we’re blind to how far we still have to go, we’re not gaining any ground. 

When I was a little girl, I competed in rodeos every weekend. Many of you are likely shocked by this as you’ve only known me through college, church or Corporate America. About the same time I was doing the rodeo thing with my family, our local high school placed a ban on Confederate Flags on school grounds. A group of high school guys were offended by this new ban and decided to fly huge Confederate Flags in the back of their trucks, park in an abandoned parking lot off school property and walked to school. They would also drive through the school parking lot during school events to make their point. This all happened while I was around 5th grade or so when I began to go through a weird phase myself. As a part of this Southern Pride Rodeo culture where everyone listens to their country music on truck tail gates drinking beer, flying the Confederate flag was just part of that culture. I can remember having to have every single “Dixie Outfitter” t-shirt possible and being so excited when my dad got me a Confederate flag saddle blanket. I had absolutely no regard to how the flag made others feel and I felt it was part of my heritage. And it was/is. Was I racist? No. Was I ignorant to the ramifications that my freedom of speech as a young girl would have on my African American friends? Absolutely.

 As we all know, 9 church members of Mother Emmanuel AME in Charleston, South Carolina were gunned down during a prayer meeting last month. This act of terrorism was rooted in White Supremacy and Racism. Since then, there are many politicians and journalists capitalizing on the situation as they strike up gun control conversations but an additional conversation has been started through this tragedy as well. A Confederate flag has flown over many Government buildings, including the Capital Building in South Carolina and was removed this week; which has stirred quite the controversy for those identifying with Southern Heritage and are fighting to keep the flag flying. 

In regard to those that are so opposed to the Confederate flag being removed, my question is this: What part of this flag’s history is so noble that we should disregard the hurt it brings to others? Our heritage lies in those who are likely the same ones that scoffed at black people who were sitting a little too close to them on the bus. Our heritage lies in those who are likely the same ones who dressed in white sheets, flew that flag and set a bus of freedom riders on fire in Birmingham, AL on May 14, 1961. Our heritage lies in those who were likely the same ones who felt the need to own and brutally treat African American slaves. And to make sure we get our history straight, our ancestors were likely the ones to drive out Native Americans during the trail of tears, cast out immigrants coming through Ellis Island and a mile long list of other atrocities committed by white folk. We can honor our heritage and honor those who fought and died for the “freedom of the South” without publicly waiving symbolic flags that stir up more hate and hurt in our society. 

Maybe I’m alone in this but I’m not afraid to say that when I take a deep dive into my heritage and the history of my own race, I’m terribly embarrassed. I’m terribly embarrassed to have been so excited to have such a flag stamped on my saddle blanket as a young girl that would cause pain to others. I’m terribly embarrassed that my skin tone makes me privileged. And I’m terribly embarrassed that so many White Americans representing the church are fighting the removal of the Confederate flag. 

Just like any other sin, racism is a heart condition. Same as jealousy or greed or pride. And if you are as hurt by the shooting in Charleston as you posted on Facebook weeks ago, then it’s time that we, as the church, truly start searching our hearts and casting out all judgement and prejudice. Over the last few weeks, I have seen multiple posts essentially mocking those who are offended by the Confederate flag. You can’t ask for prayers for the families of those 9 people killed last week and then mock others who are offended by the Confederate flag the next. 

There’s a disconnect and it’s a big one and it’s keeping people from seeing the true redemptive story of Jesus Christ.  It’s promoting an inconsistent message. We can’t be a people who promote a God of love while also defending a flag that can symbolize hate. We don’t have to erase the history of our country. Actually we shouldn’t forget! We should study it and learn from it so that we can assure ourselves not to repeat it. The sins of our people are not to be forgotten just as we shouldn’t forget our own sins but reflect and learn. 

The flag may be a symbol of your heritage but it’s also a symbol of the heritage of others as well… a very painful one and we shouldn’t be so persistent to display ours to stir up hurt in the hearts of others. “Heritage, not hate” may be stamped on your Facebook and Instagram as your stance on this issue but until we open our eyes to see that it’s actually a Heritage of Hate, we’ve gained absolutely zero ground in this fight for racial reconciliation in this country and in our churches.