Archive - January 2016

An American Woman
Happy New Year from Rocky Top

An American Woman

This week I welcome, Christi Avant Watson to sit with us on the back porch on Rocky Top.  It may be cold outside but this blog will warm and challenge your heart!    Christi is my oldest daughter.  She has performed on stage as an actress/singer to audiences of thousands but recently she experienced something that brought her more joy than the applause of an audience.  My momma’s heart is full knowing she is learning to live on a daily basis to an audience of ONE!

Today my American passport feels heavier, and it’s not because I have an extra stamp.

Last week I sat in a foreign coffee shop getting to know a new friend. Lovely hazel eyes locked on mine from the shadow of a veil covering her hair and forehead. Her eyes were consumed with a hunger to vicariously experience my life. Why? I am an American woman.

“Is United States like the movies?” she asked in broken English.

“In what way?” I responded.

“Can you go where you want? Can you do what you want?”

Linguistically, I understood, but I also understood like a woman in the dark understands a flashlight, and suddenly the passport I kept hidden snug around my waist felt like lead. Even though my new friend is well educated and in her late twenties, she must have a male relative escort her home after dark, not because the streets aren’t safe but because otherwise she is suspected of “impurity.” Without her family’s permission, my new friend cannot travel, because as a woman, she is considered incapable of such an independent pursuit. Even if her family approved travel plans, my friend is limited on where she can go without being raped or killed. For my new friend, selecting her own husband is a daydream.

On my friend’s passport, her religion is stamped in permanent ink. A mark on her heart that differed from the one on her passport could be paid for with her blood. Within the confines of her religion, God is inaccessible to my new friend when she is menstruating, after she sleeps with her husband, and for at least six weeks after she gives birth. The very things that were created unique to women make her dirty before her god.

Her questions led to some of my own. Why am I dished out such freedom while she heads out the door, in a headpiece chosen for her, to a world that expects nothing from her? I don’t know. I do know that this busted-up, unjust world looks an awful lot like the only one that makes sense when the daughters of Eve chose what we did not have over the Giver of life, and the sons of Adam stood by and let it happen. I do know that anything good found in the rubble of the Fall, like the freedom I have because of my American passport, is a gift to be invested and not wasted.

Because I am a woman in America, I am free on this Earth. Because I am a citizen of Heaven, I am free in Christ.  Neither set of liberties make sense and neither set of liberties came cheap.

Before I walked a mile in my new friend’s homeland, I never realized the weight of responsibility I carry as a daughter of the King with an American passport.

Yes, sweet new friend, I can do what I want, so I won’t waste hours of my truly FREE time comparing or complaining on social media. I will use my unique gifts to invest my time in people, places, and experiences that are eternal. I will use my freedom of speech to bring life to my home and my workplace. I will use my freedom of religion to practice the “religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27) so that one day my sweet new friend may be truly free.

American women, we are guaranteed freedom on Earth because of the blood of those who have gone before us and because of the blood of God’s Son, but we are NOT guaranteed how much time we have. For all our American freedoms, I see fear keeping us in bondage while the clock is ticking on God’s patience. When we stay behind our computer screens rather than getting involved, we might as well pick up a scarf and hide our face. “Jesus said to his disciples, ‘if anyone would come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?’” (Matthew 16: 24-26).

A cross in your heart and an American passport in your hands is a call to die to apathy and rise in action. Our American freedoms are a blessing from God, but the very best of God’s blessings become curses when we hoard them, and this explains the joy I felt worshipping with believers who have NO American freedoms, and the lack of joy I so often feel in American churches. Our God is THE gift giver. We are created in HIS image. When he gives us a gift, it is always meant to be given away. Rather than being defined by the gift-Giver and His sacrificial mission, we allow our gifts to define who we are until we don’t know who we are. When I began surrendering the gifts that defined my identity, at first, it felt like death, but as I waited for the emptiness to come, I found a life wealthier than I ever could have imagined coming at me like a tsunami. Do you want to experience a flood of joy? Don’t wait another minute. Take your American privileges and the unique gifts that you’ve been given, and die to yourself. Go broke spending them all on someone else in the name of Jesus. Then, open up your hands and get ready to experience a freedom no passport can grant you, and no oppressor can strip away.

Happy New Year from Rocky Top

It is quiet this first morning of 2016 up here on Rocky Top! The fireworks were launched without incident, the crab bites made and eaten, sparkling grape juice toasted with, loud conversations of politics, Alabama vs. Clemson, the bar and boards to be passed, and listening to Carrie Underwood sing while awaiting the clock to tick into 2016.

2015 left loudly and 2016 has begun with silence. So I listen closely for His voice.

“There remains very much land to be possessed.” Joshua 13:1 is what the Lord said to me on the last day of 2015 and this morning He said, “But one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13-14

There is land to be possessed…….chains to be broken; dark places that need to be shattered with light, and the unloved to be loved.

In order to possess the land, I must walk forward and forget what is behind me……..the poor choices, the hurts, the sin. I can’t change the past. I must look to the future and press toward “the goal”.

Every New Year is famous for goals…….losing that weight, being in God’s word, getting out of debt, spending more time with family, keeping the house cleaner, controlling that temper, …….and the list could go on and on. These kinds of goals are not bad or wrong. However, they typically are just about trying harder and doing better. These goals will fail every time if they are not done with the ultimate goal being pursued………..the “goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

This goal is about HIM succeeding.  Remember according to preacher the definition of success is “making Him famous “. The prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” is Christ being known in us and through us. It is Jesus Christ being elevated and exalted in every area of my life.

So as I sit in the quiet newness of 2016, the Lord whispers to my heart………Donna, exalt Me, pursue Me in every area of your life. Allow Me to break those chains, shine the light in the dark, love the unloved through you. It is not about trying harder and checking off each goal that you accomplish this year.

If you will set ME before you, above all; if you will hit your knees every morning and look toward me and allow me to fill you with my Holy Spirit then I will be famous and you will succeed in 2016.

The family awakens now…….stomachs to fill; a New Year’s feast to be made.

Happy New Year from Rocky Top and may HE be famous in your life and the life of your family in 2016!

Copyright © 2015. Website design by Girl on the Roof.