Because He Rose

We woke with Him.

We had the most tired eyes and minds.

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We mustered the energy to grab warm socks and a hot cup of Bell Blend and sat out on our balcony together.

We stared at the sky that is barely visible behind the roof of an overgrown house in our back yard. 

Cody read with his deep, southern, and tired voice “He is not here, He is risen.”

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I felt the lump in my throat and the hot tears welling up as we sat with Jesus and spoke with Him about what we felt and thanked Him for what we had.

I began to tell Him the outpour of my heart

“Because You rose from the dead… fill in the blank.”  The list was long, but I know it wasn’t long enough.

There were so many thoughts, so many moments and blessings that have come to my life, all because He rose. 

All. Day. Long.

The church was bursting at it seams. There wasn’t enough room to seat all that came in Sunday morning. Because He rose. 

We had family lunch, and my nephew was there, healthy and happy, not a soul could tell that he was  in the NICU a mere three months ago all Because He rose. 

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My niece was sassy, hunting eggs, giggling and completely set free from neutropenia all Because He rose. 

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Our family lunch was fun, full of joy and laughter, even though two of our sweetest ones have gone to be with Jesus, Because He rose.

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We have carried on traditions within our family for this specific day, because He rose. 

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(these little beauties are wearing dresses that their great-grandmother hand made for all of us as little girls.  Although taking a pic was a bit of a struggle, the sentiment was present.)

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My husband journeyed almost a full year of marriage with me, full of painfully hard moments and the most enormous joys.  He chose to walk all of them with me, because He rose. 

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*I love our weirdness.*:)

The list could go on for days.

Sunday was a day that struck me on a different level. He rose from the dead and I am set free, but because He rose from the dead, that power lives inside of me!

I’m undone by the grace. I’m navigated by the Spirit.  I’m healed from the inside out and continue to be pursued when my weakness comes against me.

All. Because. He. Rose. From. The. Dead. 

Why Faking It Doesn’t Make It

I am not an interior decorator.

It really is a fact.

I salute all who are, man, what a gift and EXTREME sense of patience.

I feel so overwhelmed by the process of putting things up on my walls, positioning furniture, picking colors. AH! All of it gets to my head.  I second guess every choice that I make until I just simply quit making choices.

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Does it look cute? Do they notice the tacky wall paper that I didn’t have a choice about when agreeing to live in my apt? Does it smell nice? Are people comfortable here?

The list of questions I battle in my mind about my home are endless. I become so obsessed with trying to accommodate what I think others expect my home to look like, instead of making it according to my taste.  In fact, I think my taste buds change for every person that comes over.

But yesterday, help came to the rescue in the form of my sweet, precious, barely five foot tall aunts. These two know me.  If they walked into a room and had to decorate it “La” style (nobody in my family actually calls me Laura Jean), they would knock it out of the park.

They walked into my apartment with a bag full of fun things and sat me down at my kitchen table.  My Aunt, Kathy, started to give me a little pep talk, well at least I viewed it as that. She talked right through my heart without even knowing it.  She said, “When it’s all said and done, fill your home with things you love, things that have meaning to you.”

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We got to work.

I mean, they were at my apartment for hours.  Not a dime spent, just simple rearrangement, hanging items in different places, finding things that hold a deeper purpose and exposing them within my home.

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 Those two women are like mama’s to me. What I love about them is what they see in me that I can’t see within myself. I type these words with misty eyes because of the gratitude I feel for them; they know me. They held me as an infant, probably on their hips when I was a toddler screaming because someone told me “No” (Y’all that was a real season in my life, God bless my parents). They cooked me meals, carted me and my 7 cousins all over town, I know they have prayed for my heart and my future, they support my goals and my dreams, and I love that I get a hug every Sunday morning after church service, the list goes on and on.  I have done life with these two ladies.  We may look like night and day next to each other, but there’s no denying they’re family, and no doubt that they see my gifts better than I can.

We filled my walls and my bookshelves with items that have meaning, a real story behind it. I am pretty sure a story was told for every nail hammered.

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In the whole process I started to feel this notion of how my home can be such a representation of my heart.

How many decisions do I NOT  make because of my fears of not measuring up, my fears of others not liking what I have, or simply my fear of finding out what I am not. If I simply don’t make a decision I never have to find out if I am really not good at something.  So, I stop. I quit.  I don’t pursue.  I let others who know they are good at something pursue their wildest dreams and I stay content being their cheerleader, and not really having a “thing”.

It’s easier right? Never exposing your deepest dreams or gifts, that way nobody will find out who you really are, nobody can shame what you really love, you stay protected, you stay safe.

OR better yet, you never expose yourself to yourself. 

“Better to be a fake somebody than a real nobody.”- Matt Damon

But I wonder, how many things in this world HAVEN’T happened for that exact reason?

That’s a chilling thought. 

I had a professor in college who gave me 57 on a 15 page research paper.  The only notes or corrections made on the paper was this “You could stand to use better vocabulary”, and a 57 in bright red, circled.

So, I doubt.

I doubt my abilities.  I doubt if I really am good at the things that I actually love or if they are just little things I will never be a master of.

But here is what decorating my apartment brought me:

I love writing

I love reading

I love talking (seriously it’s the best)

I love people

I love running

I love coffee

So this morning, the decision to stop obsessing over what others believe I should be and the start to being who I know I was created to be has begun. I have my list of what I love, and I am done being afraid of myself.

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 *for real, my coffee addiction is real, that’s why my husband and I make our own. Buy some Bell Blend today :)*

Sisters, Sweaters, and Selma to Montgomery

They marched.

People of every color, shape, size, background, even from other states, they marched.

I missed it.  I was actually completely unaware that there was going to be another march.

I spent my Wednesday afternoon at lunch with a friend just a few blocks away from where it all happened.  My friend even joined the marchers for a few blocks before meeting me, and seemed to marvel at the intensity and enormity of it all.

I got curious while we ate and felt like I should attempt to see at least a small portion of what everyone was raving about.

We said our goodbyes and I strapped my camera around my neck and started walking… I never realized how insanely long Dexter Avenue was… 

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I heard cheering and clapping, I heard “In the NAME of JE-SUS!” , emphasis on the “SUS” yelled out over the speakers, there were people EVERYWHERE, and my heart melted at all the different colors of their skin.

I made my way towards the capitol building.  There were t-shirt booths, posters, pins, hats, flags… you name it, Dexter Avenue was hoppin.

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I met so many sweet souls as I journeyed the endless street.  Everyone was smiling, some were crying joyful tears.  I met strangers who had traveled from all over the U.S. just to be a part of this grand day.

There were news reporters everywhere, the letters V-O-T-E were across the steps of the capitol building and decorated with the most artistic taste.

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BUT…

The two sitting on the bench, well those two were worth the walk.

Jerome and Lashonna.  Best friends, warriors, brother and sister, and 64&65 years old.

I passed them on my way back to my car. Lashonna smiled and stared at me so long that I felt I should start a conversation.  She was decked out in her Alabama State gear, sitting on a bench, with her feet propped on her water cooler.

“Hi, how’re y’all?” I said bashfully.

“Well hey Suga, did you like the march today?” She asked me with the biggest grin full of the whitest teeth I have ever looked at.

I was immediately drawn to her.

“Oh no ma’am, I didn’t march, just observing the after-math, what about y’all?” I replied.

“Oh honey! We marched together 50 years ago, and we marched together again today! That is Jerome, my little brother, and I am Lashonna.”

I was immediately sucked in and there was no way I was getting out, I wanted to hear every inch of their story. I was glued to every word they spoke.

I asked them what the first march was like, I even asked if she remembered what she wore that day.

Jerome piped in with laughter in his words saying, “Oh! I remember what I wore. I wore my favorite sweater.  It was light blue with gold elbow pads.  But my big sister was just SO cold, so I let her borrow my sweater, and YOU KNOW WHAT SHE DID! SHE LOST MY SWEATER!”

LaShonna was laughing hysterically at this point and said “First thing he asked me this morning was if I brought him his sweater, that he’s been cold for 50 years.”

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We sat together for nearly an hour as I asked question after question, hungry for their memory.

You know what my favorite thing about them was? There was no bitterness.  There was no anger.  There was no shame. We saw each other as equals and loved each other’s hearts for belonging to the same Jesus.

They kept praising God for all that He had done.  They talked about how kind He was for making that day happen then and now. I felt myself get emotional at how peaceful they were about the history they endured and the kindness they poured out over each other and strangers.

I asked them “What was different today than 50 years ago?”

LaShonna looked at me and said “There was nothing to be afraid of. 50 years ago there was a lot to be scared of, no matter the color of your skin.  If you marched, there was a fear in all of us.  What if we get arrested? What if they hurt us? If you didn’t march, you were probably hiding in your house praying that peace would prevail.  But today, when we rounded that corner and I saw the capitol building this morning, I felt hot tears roll down my face and realized what God had done in 50 years and how much more He is ready to do.”

Wow! What a testimony.

Today, I was a part of history. With a sister, the story of a sweater, and the march from Selma to Montgomery. 

Did I mention I love my city? 🙂