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From the Outside Looking In

I gazed at my computer as misconstrued thoughts and sentences clouded my mind. On May 27th, I was halfway done with my monthly blog post when sentences began to spiral down a vortex. I was oblivious to the news that day, and social media was on lock down until I finished writing. I couldn’t quite pinpoint the purpose for my mute thoughts, but after writing one of the most gut-wrenching blog posts in April, I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit has a way of blocking an intersection to lead in the right direction.

From the outside looking in, I just want to offer a grain of hope that doesn’t need a social media movement attached to it.

My East Texas accent originated in the small town of Marshall, Texas. Home of the Marshall Mavericks! Residents direct outsiders with a clear idea of its location as a town between other more well-known cities. During the Christmas season, my hometown has a unique way of blossoming. Located in downtown, their Hallmark movie feel event, Wonderland of Lights, draws a crowd from near and afar. Outsiders often judge the plethora of fast food chicken joints and a donut shop on every corner. But friends, the Bible Belt has your back. The south is far too familiar with a pantyhose crisis combined with Sunday school breakfast sign up. Trust me, you can light up any room carrying in those boxes with sugarcoated goodness inside. No one asks questions, and you instantly become everyone’s best friend.

Marshall was a town I loved, but wanted to leave. I bet you’ve never seen someone turn a cart around quicker than me when I run into an old flame in the produce aisle. It’s a hidden sport among most women. However, I keep making the 40-minute commute because of the heart of its history within me. My upbringing flourished in a well diverse town, and I can’t help but rave about the place where my foundation was paved to love all of God’s people.

Growing up, I was an innocent bystander to the hours my mom spent running into people she knew EVERYWHERE. She always took time to converse in different wavelengths of conversation, even in the pantyhose aisle. I can’t tell you how many times we would walk in Wal-Mart and, within 5 minutes, someone would yell out, “JODY!!” Throughout her life, the hilarious stories of the hidden guardian angel’s hard work to keep her alive on this Earth are a comedy hit I like to title, “Living Life with Jody.” She can redesign a room in less than 24 hours, and her faith in Christ matches her grace for others. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to realize that the love she poured from an empty cup fostered my mind to emulate the same characteristics as an adult.

My Dad spent every Saturday morning repainting the mascot at Maverick Stadium. As a young girl, I remember weekends spent with him while sitting sideline to his purpose behind a talent. Even to this day, he spends football season offering up his new hobby, photography, highlighting each player’s every move. His hard work is displayed proudly in the field house, and he leads well with the legacy of doing something good while expecting nothing in return.

From the outside looking in as a child, my parents’ labor to put the focus solely on serving others was effortless.

I don’t think it was by coincidence that I landed myself in the book of Job a month prior to publishing this blog post. If you aren’t familiar with his story, Job was chosen by God to endure numerous years of loss and sorrow. We proclaim his story loud in our megaphone of praise when we seek hope in the midst of wilderness waiting. However, my heart is often pierced with confusion as verses disarray my thoughts that God would actually offer up Job’s well being into the hands of Satan.

“Satan answered the Lord, “Haven’t you placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. But stretch out your hand and curse everything he owns, and he will surly curse you to your face.”

“Very well,” the Lord told Satan. “Everything he owns is in your power.”

Job 1: 9-11

Satan got to call the shots, but only God would be the one to give the OK signal. The years of agony cursed upon him were like a maze with no end in sight. Take it from someone who has endured trauma; it’s extremely difficult to remain in Christ without searching for answers. After several days of loss, Job’s friends showed up to comfort and sit beside him for seven days. While their intentions were definitely good, they begin to chime in with symbolist accusations that he must realign his life in order for God to free him from the curse placed upon him.

From the outside looking in, it all looked so pretty on paper, yet their accusations were quickly lost in the rubble of judgment and shame that Job couldn’t escape.

God has had enough and sweeps in as a whirlwind, scattered out the debris of false words spoken against His will. Job humbly falls to his knees crying out, “Therefore, I reject my words and am sorry for them; I am dust and ashes.” Job 42:6

Repentance is the key to restorationalways. Job was blessed tenfold.

My parents’ love for well diverse living wasn’t written in any hall of fame book, but will continue to go down in history. Their ways of scouting out the broken and taking time to listen is a power trait I am so blessed to inherit. As social media continuously pivots with opinions, the little hearts in our homes need to see it play out in real life. With all that has transpired in 2020, I stand firm that I won’t compromise to opinions, but look first to the One who is the Author of it all.

I don’t know how to pick up the pieces of what’s been broken for so long here. One thing I am certain of is that God hasn’t left His post here in America. These unknown days could be the answer for more of us make our hearts His home.

To dust and ashes, we will return. “For God so loved the World…that He gave His only son…” To die for you…yes you, and return to Him when His glory on Earth is made new. From the outside looking in, He stands at the door knocking waiting with open arms.

“For God so loved the world,

that He gave His only Son.

That whosoever believes in Him,

should not perish,

but have everlasting life.”

John 3:16

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