Be Known

This weekend we had a birthday celebration for one of ours.

My brother-in-law, Todd, turned 28 on the 28th. So fun, right? We made all of his favorite meals from growing up and listened to rock and roll.  Dad even did a little air guitar and reminisced on his glory days of a garage band he had in the early 70s.

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Although he carries a different last name, he is one of our own.

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We ate dinner, told stories, and belly laughed the whole time. We made birthday brownies and Todd blew out the candles.  Let’s be real here, even if you’re turning 90, every one needs candles to blow out on their birthday.

My husband got a gift for Todd, and to be completely honest, it was one that I was a little embarrassed to give.  It was an X-men arch-angel figurine… like seriously?  Cody, my husband, assured me that it was something that could be cool for Todd to get and be able to share with our newest nephew one day.

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So I agreed and was a perfect wife in letting my husband purchase this gift. 🙂

The candles were blown out and present time was pursuing us.  So, Cody got up from the table and hands Todd his birthday gift in a crumpled up bag he found under the bed in my parents guest room… to say we were unprepared is an understatement.

Cody’s letter, written on an index card, said “I hope your 28th year gives you everything you ever wanted. Happy Birthday! Love, Cody and Laura.”

I felt my heart race, a little nervous at the reaction to such a silly gift. I mean what 28 year old wants an X-men figurine?

Todd opened the present and completely stopped. He wouldn’t look up, he wouldn’t speak, he just stared at his figurine in complete silence. The room was so silent that all I could hear was my heart beat, and every second of silence my heart raced louder and louder.

“I mean, it’s okay if you don’t like it man” Cody said nervously.

“Yeah, Todd, it really is okay, Cody just thought it would be cool.” I said as I felt my heart beat in my throat.

Todd finally looked up and Cody and said “How did you remember?”

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You see, months ago, Todd jokingly told Cody a story of Christmas when he was a boy.  He recalled being a spoiled child growing up.  He said there was never a Christmas where he did not get what he asked for.  One particular Christmas, I believe when he was 6-years-old, Todd wanted the X-men arch-angel figurine.  He says “Don’t get me wrong, I loved every single present I ever got, but I really wanted that arch-angel.”  Todd seemed to recall that he never forgot that Christmas.

But Cody never forgot that conversation.

The initial idea of the gift was so silly, but what made that gift special was the moment that Todd opened it and realized that he was known.  Todd, in those long moments of silence, recognized that this new family he married really did know him, they listened to him, they want only the best for him.

Isn’t it amazing? The way we feel when we realize that someone remembered something important to us?  What seemed stupid to everyone else, means the world to you?

When you have that moment, the moment where someone remembers, don’t forget to pass it on.

That God of ours. The one that created us, He knows us best. Better than any other creature on earth. Be known by Him, and learn to know others too.

Keep Adventuring

Do you ever miss the adventurous ways of childhood?

When the tiny box of raisins was the best snack, getting to drink a can of coke was the greatest treat and imagination ruled everyday life?

And let’s be honest here… Bangs, hairbows, and hand-painted Christmas sweatshirts for a FREE Christmas photo shoot at the volunteer fire station in your community was COMPLETELY acceptable.

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I have become so nostalgic towards the ways of my childhood and the protection I experienced within it.

I grew up living around my cousins, with a big pasture, a fantastic pond, hay bales, and grandparents a mile down the road.  We had a donkey named Moe and my sisters, cousins, and I would feed him carrots with Italian salad dressing… I mean carrots aren’t good without it.  We would pretend we were at war and run through the fields.  Some days we were soldiers, other days we were pioneers, most days American girl dolls.  Whatever we ventured, the excitement was real.

Life was simple and life was easy.

Now, I am fresh out of college and it seems as if the pending question for all like me is

“So, what do you want to do with your life?”

Is it appropriate to respond “I HAVE NO EARTHLY IDEA”??

You know that scene of The Notebook? Where Allie is trying to decide between Noah and that other guy? Noah keeps yelling “What do you want?!”  and Allie bawling and screaming “I don’t know!”.

Allie’s response is the way my tummy reacts when people ask that question. Instant panic tummy… insert fake smile and answers.

When asked that question, I come up with all the answers I feel like the world expects of me.  I tell people what my major was and that I have considered a masters program.  I tell people that I am enjoying my current job and am interested to see where it will take me.

You know what I am really doing? Telling people what I think they want to hear and hiding my insecurity with REALLY bogus answers. 

I attend a bible study that is happening in my community. A friend, the sweetest Rachel I know, spoke up about feeling insecure and inadequate. She told the group that she had been praying and asking the Lord what He thought of those words.

His response… 

“When you live in Him, you live IN-security. When you live in Him, you live IN-adequacy.”

We are secure.  We are adequate. We are enough.

Last night, the question was asked and before I could think of the perfect response, I immediately responded how I felt… “I have no idea.” I said what I loved and I spoke the honest truth, and it felt AWESOME.

You know what was even more peaceful about confessing my unknown? The grace that was given as a response. My heart felt a weight lift off my chest.

In Him… I live IN-Security. 

Pride aside, insecurity aside, embarrassment aside, inadequacy aside… I have no idea what I want to do with my life. It scares me. It terrifies me.  Somedays, it paralyzes me.

But God does. God sees. God hears. God adventures with us in the unknown.

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My friend Kayla invited me to adventure with her Saturday.  It was a sporadic trip and full of fun.  We hiked up a big hill and ate granola bars, attempting to tap into our earthy side.

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We spent the morning in spontaneity and recognized the adventure that God really has for us.  We discovered it in the playful nature that was pulled out of us in the discovery of a playground and the determination to make it to the top of a stupid steep hill.

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We discovered joy in taking the risk of turning left instead of right and pursuing a path into the unknown.

Even if we aren’t on a spontaneous hiking day, we are exploring in life.

And when you adventure, you never know what can happen next.  That’s the beauty of not knowing what you are going to do for the rest of your life, it makes life one big, fat, terrifyingly, awesome adventure.

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Keep adventuring. 

Cotton

There’s just something about a cotton field.

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I can’t explain what they do to me when I pass them driving down I-65 or when I visit my grandmother and see cotton fields for miles.  I even lived a whole summer in Lubbock, Texas, where trees don’t exist and neither does elevation of any sort, but the cotton, oh my, the cotton fields are endless.  It can make my whole heart and breath stop, just for a moment.  It’s as if it is trying to tell me something about life.

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still sing the cotton jingle, it really is the fabric of our lives. 

A few months back, my husband and I found a cotton field that was in a little town outside of Montgomery.  I loved it so much I made him pull over so I could just stand in it.

My man is always up for my craziness. 

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The cotton was blooming at this point and my heart leapt.  It was so perfect, it was so ivory, it was breathtaking. 

My great-grandfather was a cotton farmer and an everything else farmer. He was a cotton farmer when cotton was King and he knew how to work the land. One Thanksgiving, he told his sons to harvest their cotton.  He was fearful of snow falling and killing the cotton crop.  All of his sons listened and harvested, except for one.

The next day, snow fell on their farm, killing the one crop that had not been harvested.  That plot of land where the untouched cotton was killed, was the same piece of land where the cotton gin resided.  The cotton was ready for harvest, neglected, and in an instant lost, all in the shadow of the gin. 

This cotton field though, the one I made my husband stop for, the one that stole my heart, well it sits next to an old abandoned church building.

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It got me thinking…

How many times are we stopping for the person thats life is blooming all sorts of ivory, but driving right passed the one’s that are picked over? All the ones that have been too tainted by the world?

Today, I went back to that cotton field, the one I stopped for when it was blooming.  The cotton was picked over, everything was brown and dead, and all you could see were little speckles of white scattered throughout the field.  My friend Nichole joined.  It was freezing, but we fought for exploration and adventure.  We ran through the field, we picked up old, leftover pieces of cotton, and at some points we simply stood there in complete awe of the work that had to have been done to that land; all that harvesting, all that labor.

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We walked around that church building and discovered floating pieces of cotton that had been pushed by the wind into little crevices of the church.

My Dad once asked our church family, “How many people will we lose in the shadow of the church?”

How many people have we missed? How many people were ready for a harvest in their life and we neglected them? All in the shadow of the Church.

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We see all the pain that this world offers.  We even try to fight what we see as sin. The news is slamming Christians.  They are bashing Christianity because the only venturing they see us doing is telling someone they are wrong in hopes that they will join us in a slam parade against others too.

Just like my Great-Grandfather was hurt to see all that cotton killed in the shadow of the gin, we Christians should be grieved at a world of people not receiving love in the shadow of the Church.  

There should be no leftovers, Jesus stopped for the one.

He stopped for the sick, the poor, the prostitutes…

Not because they were blooming, but because they had worth.  He turned from the tainted and saw the ivory within them.

Let’s start stopping for cotton fields, picking up the pieces, and rejoicing when that ivory bloom begins to blossom.

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Soon, I hope to share what God has in store for the Bell Family.  A big plan He has placed before us, full of adventure in loving His people.  Stay tuned and be sure to buy some Bell Blend 🙂