A Good Word { Friend Friday Guest Post }

I love hearing stories. 
What people are learning. 
What God is up to. 
How someone's story impacts another life. 
How people want to change and grow and be better versions of themselves. 

I'm inspired by listening to the heart of another person. 
Stories inspire me. 
I'm challenged.
They give me a fresh perspective on issues. On life. On God. 

I want to live a better story.  
{Shout out to Denise for sharing that line via Donald Miller.} 
I really, really do. 

So that's why I decided to take normal Fridays over here on the blog and make them Friend Fridays. I know so many incredible people that have stories to tell and I want to be a conduit for those stories to spread.

To challenge you and I alike. 
To show us what God is up to in someone else's story. 

I could think of no better person to start my Friend Friday guest post tradition than my dear college-friend Alice. I hope she writes often because not only do I love her, I absolutely love her writing. She moves me. She knows me. She inspires me. She's a true-blue-friend. 

So without further adieu, meet Alice. 

And in case you're wondering what Alice and I looked like in 1995, here we are, in all our glory. {Because we know that every good blog post must include a photo. Right? Right O.}

Alice writes:

I think it actually was Alysa + KLove that got me into choosing a word for the year. I usually start tossing around ideas of a word that I want to have for the year, then God gives me a completely different word and blows my mind with how He uses it in my life throughout the next 365 days. In 2011, my word was “NEW.” In 2012, my word was “ENDURANCE.” 

Endurance” was a phenomenal one, but I will tell you that by the end of 2012, mine had become gritting-my-teeth-hanging-on endurance. I was tired. I was discouraged. For me it feels like our society has become this simmering pot of anger, just waiting to erupt at any moment. Turning on my computer in the morning becomes an exercise in despair. It seems like the whole world is going mad.
Then December 14 happened. Sandy Hook, Newtown, Connecticut. What happened that day affected me more strongly than any other day in history that I’ve lived through. Worse than September 11. I understand war. I don’t understand gunning down a room of first graders, of Cub Scouts and Daisies, of chubby cheeks and gap-toothed smiles. The only way I can make any sense of it is that if Jesus loves the little children, then Satan hates them and he has been a murderer from the beginning. But that doesn’t help me sleep any better at night. 

What made it all worse for me, and I am keeping it real here, was Christians. By the end of 2012, I’d begun to feel disconnected from Christians. Why are they so angry? Why do I know more about what they’re against than what they’re for? Why do Christians seem so concerned about their rights than about their mission? Why are they arguing all the time? Why are they so loud and mean and mad (and stupid)? Why am I so mad at them? 

And so it came time for my word for 2013. Do you know what I wanted? VICTORY. (Probably because I wanted this year to be about winning.) But instead I heard God’s still small voice. I heard His voice in Psalm 27:13 “I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.” I heard His voice in Romans 12:21 “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” 

I heard His voice say, “The word of the year for you, Alice, is ‘GOOD.’ ’Victory’ was going to be all about you. ‘GOOD’ is going to be all about me.” 

I decided for 2013 I will look each day for God’s goodness, here in the land of the living. Also, instead of being overcome by evil, I will do everything I can to overcome it with good (or die trying). 

Let me tell you about some instances of God’s goodness I’ve found in the first month of 2013. 

It kicked off right on January 1. Every year in Atlanta, thousands of college kids come to the Dome there for Passion: a 4-day conference with worship and preaching and mobilizing efforts against human trafficking. I got to watch the livestream of the conference and 60,000 young people singing Matt Redman’s “10,000 Reasons,” dancing to “God’s Great Dance Floor,” counting all the ways with Beth Moore not just how God is good to us but how we’re GLAD about it, and weeping as Francis Chan spoke of God’s faithfulness to us, even when we’re faithless. Not to mention these kids raised over 3 million dollars to help those enslaved around the world today. Watching this new generation embrace God and His goodness filled my heart to overflowing. 

I saw God’s goodness at church as I observed a mom, sitting with her severely autistic teen son and you could just SEE the love between them. I thought about how good God is to have put those two together. 

I saw God’s goodness at home in an impromptu conversation with my husband about three godly men in his life with whom he’s become close. I said, “You know what I all of sudden notice? Each of those guys is like a different facet of your personality. Isn’t God good to have matched you up like that?” 

I saw God’s goodness in my car when, all of a sudden, every morning at 7:45 on KLove they share an encouraging story in order to, as they say, “Brag on God and how good He is.” 

I saw God’s goodness at work when I got assigned to put on our whole department’s big spring career event for students. Now I have no idea how to put on our whole department’s big spring career event for students. So I got down on my face, literally, and told God, “I don’t know how to do this. Please help me. Please let this event have ‘Sponsored by Jesus’ all over it.” All of a sudden, I got a 208-page curriculum exactly designed for the event and our target students just *randomly* in my inbox. All of my colleagues have been more than willing to help. I found a guy from a university in Canada whose entire job it is to do career events for students. He talked to me for an hour and sent me all his materials. 

I also saw God’s goodness at work when I called a student to let her know she’d been accepted into one of our programs. I had given her a test a few weeks before because they have to be at a 9th-grade reading level in order to qualify. She had been worried about that, but when I called her, I said, “Girl, you blew the top off that test! Your reading is great!” She told me, “You know how I practice reading? I’ve been reading the Bible every day.” 

And these have been just a few instances I’ve observed of how God is good. 




There is the second part to this word concept for 2013, and that is where I need to overcome evil with good. Finding God’s goodness in this broken world has been easy so far. Doing my part is harder. Russell Moore has this great thought: “God will allow you to be tested. He’ll refine you, bring you to the fullness of maturity in Christ. He probably won’t do it by your fighting lions before the emperor or standing with a John 3:16 sign before a tank in the streets of Beijing. More likely, it will be through those seemingly little places of temptation—like whether you’ll love the belching brother-in-law at the other end of the table who wants to talk about how the Cubans killed JFK and how to make $100,000 a year selling herbal laxatives on the Internet.” Or whether you’ll love your Christian brother or sister who keeps posting inflammatory, ridonkulous things on facebook. (I’ve found my best option is to just.step.away.from.the.computer.) 

The beautiful thing about looking for and finding God’s goodness everywhere is that then those ridonkulous things start bothering you less. You’re focusing elsewhere, and you can start to feel compassion for people around you who are so angry and afraid. You find yourself praying for people instead of arguing with them. And you’re so busy dancing on God’s great dance floor yourself that you don’t have time to get mad! 

So, that’s my word for 2013. It’s not the one I would have picked for myself, but, as usual, God knows what I need far more than I do. And if the rest of the year is anything close to what January has been, it’s gonna be GOOD.


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