January 27, 2013

I still like desert stories.


I study God's word through an international organization called  Bible Study Fellowship, of which there are a few groups here in Atlanta. We're working through Genesis this year, hence the Abraham/Sarah post earlier.

The Bible scene is set: the important-name characters are doin' their thing, walking through their faith, and God nudges me to look over at the side story.


Maybe it's because my heart recently found out about and now bleeds over the 27 million human beings trapped in slavery today. 200,000 in my so-called civil and just country. Many woman. Many trafficked for their bodies.

Used for sex.

So here we are in BSF, my faith being rocked with the whole Abraham storyline when I re-meet Hagar.

Can't you just see her? Dark eyes, dark skin. This Egyptian slave, probably part of the wealth Pharaoh granted Abraham to get the heck out of Egypt in Genesis 12:16. A pagan slave. From a very advanced, sophisticated country. Probably treated well, but at the end of the day, Hagar was about a month's journey of 250 miles from home. This elderly couple was not her family. They worshiped a God that her nation didn't include in their line up of nine gods. Hagar's very name means "stranger."

In his understandable desperation to have the child God promised him, Abraham pulls the ole I'll-solve-it-myself trick. And I'm a big fan of being REAL when we talk about scripture: Sarah pulls in the slave girl. Hagar sits on Sarah's lap while Abraham impregnates her. Because that's how the law said to solve the problem of no-heir. Hagar never had a voice. And as we need to be very, very cautious when reading the Bible not to make guesses, know I'm careful not to add to scripture in the words below. Some scholars think a slave woman would jump at the opportunity to socially climb. Maybe she did. We do not know.

But I'm a woman. And I know how God put it in our hearts to have a family. And my soul can't rest thinking that this is what she had planned when she was a little girl growing up in Egypt.

Can you imagine what she felt like. I mean, can you imagine ...

Obviously, things go south. Hagar flees to the desert. Super welcoming spot when you're lonely and pregnant, I bet. Morning sickness was probably only matched with the dizzying nausea that comes from feeling totally used. She's tired. She's alone. Can we see a bit of ourselves in her, sister?

But then something unparalleled in scripture happens.

The Lord meets her. Looks in her bloodshot (just surmising) dark eyes and asks "where have you come from, and where are you going?" He continues, "I will give you more children than you can count. You will give birth to a son and name him Ishmael." (Ishmael means 'God hears.') And this broken, exhausted, alien woman looks at Him and gives the Lord a name: "You are the God who sees me ... 'I have now seen 'the One Who Sees Me.'"

El Roi. 
The One Who Sees Me.

It's unparalleled: no other Sunday School felt board character in the Old Testament looks at God and gives him a name. But do you know who does? The peculiar, broken Egyptian maidservant runaway.

Because that's how He works. We learn lessons in the desert (Hosea 2:14). He takes dirty hands and cleans them. "He turns lullabies into anthems." He sees us where we are. Meets us there.

I just really like that story.

January 10, 2013

You finish what you begin.

But Abram said, "O Soverign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inerit my estate is Eliezer of Damascas?" And Abram said, "You have given me no children, so a servant in my household will be my heir."

There's a nuance there. Don't miss it: Abram references local custom, local law of the land. He sighs, breathes deep, and shuffles the Rubix cube of prophecies one more time, trying to make all the white dots stay on one side. As he prays in Genesis 15, he vocalizes thoughts to the Lord. "God, was I half crazy when I heard you promise me a child through whom your promises would come? No. I know I wasn't ... So Eliezar, right? That's what you meant. Right? My servant guy? That works with the local custom. So he must be the heir you mentioned, right?"

Nuzi tablets carefully chisled with Akkadian script spell it out: barren couples could adopt a servant as their own son, and after they died the estate was rightfully his. Potentially a lucky guy, that Eliezar kid.

It only made sense.
The law of the land. 
The local custom.
It was a perfect fit for childless Abram and Sarai.
Naturally, Abram's brain went there.

But the story goes on, Abram leans into God's promise as God says "NO, my child. HE will come from YOUR body. In fact, he's the beginning of a multitude of children." God so loves Abram that he seals the deal with a covenant. In time, Sarai brings her precious firstborn into the word. Years pass. More years pass. Jesus Christ is born of the same line, and he gives life to multitudes. And God is good on his word.

"God never adjusts His commands to fit the customs of nations, no matter how deeply ingrained they are."
- Beth Moore

And my God, how this is our own story: A word, a command, a vision from the Lord and I'm off. At about step three down the path, insert speed bump as Person A doesn't respond like I hoped to the request the Lord said for me to take to Person A's feet. "Ah. Jesus. You are so crazy. I totally see what you did there. Don't you worry! They probably thought I said something weird. Man, are you lucky I'm such a good fixer." And we put that word, that command from the Lord within confines. Politcally correct confines of how you're supposed to behave as educated adult, or supposed to make money, or whatever. Sometimes it's like I'm afraid to be peculiar and more times I'm afraid he won't be faithful. And I'm writing this tiny-ly because I am so sad I ever think that.

Are you ever like that?

But He is so sweetly lately saying, "Oh my daughter. Believe. Just believe me at my WORD for I am good on that word. When, in the history of TIME have I in majesty and justice and peace and love shown myself as faithless? When? Point to a time if so. Even when you are faithless, I'm faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). I promise. Fall into my commands for I will do great things through my children."

God delights in impossibilities. 

He will do immeasurably more.

He will do immeasurably more for His glory through us if we believe.

"But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has?* But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently."

- Romans 8:25
* That's a dang good question, Paul.

photo credit: 1
blog post title: "Lord Our God" by Krisitan Stanfill

January 7, 2013

Esther 4:14

"Wake up, child,
It's your time to shine.
You were born for such a time as this.

I am royalty,
I have destiny,
I have been set FREE."

- Jesus Culture, "The Anthem"

photo credits: 1

August 13, 2012

Hail the blue and white.

We run a little stint over on Back Down South aptly titled 7 in 7.

From white-after-Easter to boots, the series features a bit of little-known info on a Southernism accompanied with some pretty inspiring photography shot by the lovely Caroline.

Seersucker season is 'bout to close up shop, so follow along this week for a final toast.

What are you going to miss when we pack it all up Labor Day weekend?

photo credits: 1 // 2
blog post title: Yes, a relic of sorority life. I know way too many azure blue/white themed songs.

August 12, 2012

Giveaway: Shyanne Boots

There comes a time in every Alabama-transplant-midtown-Atlanta-tower-working-yuppie girl's life when she realizes that Lucchese boots don't particularly gel with a closet of J. Crew pencil skirts.

Thus another reason for Fridays. And Saturdays and Sundays.

I threw open the box lid, inhaled that comforting new-leather smell, and popped on this pair of Shyannes for a evening jaunt across the state line to Auburnville in support of a music-makin' friend. I must declare, they scuttle quite well across the Sky Bar dance floor.

For someone that holds the same standard for eligible bachelors (dance floor preparedness), the shoes, at least, are working for me.

This Friday, one lucky reader is granted her wish from Boot Barn's Shyanne collection.

One entry each for:
  • leaving a comment (include your email address)
  • tweeting about the giveaway and link back to this post (tag @EAStallings and/or @BootBarn)
You may enter as many times as you please, ma'am.

End date: Friday, Aug. 17th at midnight.

Enjoy, lovelies!

February 14, 2012

Hotter than a pepper sprout.

Letter from Johnny Cash to his wife June:

"Hey June, 
That’s really nice June. You’ve got a way with words and a way with me as well.
The fire and excitement may be gone now that we don’t go out there and sing them anymore, but the ring of fire still burns around you and I, keeping our love hotter than a pepper sprout.
Love John"
They're so my favorite. Check out Letters of Note to read a whole list of hand-written love letters penned by the rich and famous. Naturally, I'm headed to Eddie's Attic tonight to watch Drew and Ellie Holcomb take to the stage... Eeee!
Happy Valentine's Day!
Photo credit: 1

February 1, 2012

Level the mountains.

I will go before you
and level the mountains.
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.

I will give you hidden treasures,
riches stored in secret places,
so that you may know I am LORD.
the God of Israel that summons you by name.
- Isaiah 45.2-3

How's that for "My daughter, you do not need to fight. I'm gonna do it. That's what I'm here for. I am the King and have beautiful secrets and mysteries and desires of your heart to revel for you, in MY time, if you'd only sit back and wait. For I. Love. You. I love you, my child."


Photo credit: 1 

January 31, 2012

Well, she was an American girl.

It never fails: I can attempt the head-to-toe Madewell-look and drool over that Atlantic-Pacific blog all winter. But as soon as spring fever washes over me? Man-oh-man and glory be: I crumble.

I like Lilly stuff.
A lot.
Always have.
Put this girl in a print.

So OBVIOUSLY, LP's new State of Mind print makes my little heart race. I'm happy as a hummingbird to be tucked back in the Deep South, but I sho' did love racing around this country last year from Seattle to New York, Austin to Detroit and everywhere in between.

I mean, the print's just a different take on Atlantic-Pacific, right? Right. 

Nice work, LP.

Photo credits: 1 / 2
Blog post title: "American Girl" by Tom Petty, again. I know. I named a post after that song once. But when it's your favorite song, you're allowed.

January 23, 2012

Yup in my white tee.

This is one of those moments when the best way I know to translate enthusiasm from moi to you is to type things like: an;dslnfa;sidnf;aisdnf;asdnf;akdn;awoier and !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!. If we were texting, I'd probs be using a lot of Emojiis. Gosh, I am so mature...

If you've followed me a while, you know I appreciate a good run. I'm not exactly good and usually rely on my inhaler and prayer to continue to supply me with oxygen and the breath of life, but I think running is so fun. 

Or should I say I've only thought it was so fun.

Gasp! Of COURSE I want to run 3.1 miles around my pretty city of Atlanta and have colored paint thrown at me! At 9 a.m.! Of course! Brilliant. Now you just tell me that doesn't sound like a blast and a half. THIS IS GONNA RULE. Sistafrands from my small group and I created a team, so after March 31, we shall have thrilling photos like these guys:


Check and see if there's one around you: My fave cities Seattle, Austin, Vegas, and Pheonix are some of the locations on the tour de color list.

Now then. To a) cross my fingers that dry paint doesn't increase asthma symptoms, and b) progress to the point that I can actually survive this looming Nashville half... Advice? This will be my first!

Photo credits: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4
Blog post title: "In My White Tee" by Dem Franchize Boys.

January 17, 2012

A letter from Becca.

I think our very first picture was snapped on Bridge Pointe Drive. She was in a crisp, mama-sewn pilgrim outfit and I had war paint and a king-sized, fringed pillowcase died brown and my head through a big hole in the top. We were both barefoot in the yard and geared up for Thanksgiving Party day for the Trinity Presbyterian first grade.

Since then? Shoot. We've lost count of memories. And photos.

The following post is form one of my best friends of 17 years, Becca. She's one of my wisest sisters and she carries me. Obviously I was stoked when she approached me with this. Take it away, Bex:

Hi ladies,

I am a dear friend of Miss Magnolia here. A few weeks ago I approached her about writing a guest post about some things that were happening in my life. She was so gracious to allow me the opportunity to speak to y’all, and I pray that what I have to say strikes a cord in someone’s heart.

See, here’s the deal: I got dumped. 
There, I said it. 
Cold, hard, and fast. 
It hurt, it is still hurting almost a month later.

You’re probably thinking, “Oh great, another break-up blog post about how Jesus, wine, and the right amount of Kelly Clarkson can get you through." But that’s not what I have to say. I wish I was just giving out an easy cure to heartbreak, but darlin', there’s no such thing. This isn’t the first time, and it may not be the last.

So let’s get down to it.

I’ve been dumped. I hang up the phone with my best friend, put my head on the steering wheel, and cry. Cry doesn’t do it justice--I sob, really. The big heavy tears that seem to come, not from your tear ducts but from way down in your gut. And they burn the whole way up to the top. So I cry for a while, and I say a few choice words because I believe in my soul that sometimes that is the only thing that makes you feel better. And then I pick up my lead-heavy body and drag it to my bed where I pull out my journal. I open it up to the newest page, dot it with a few tear drops, and this is the first thing that comes out of my heart and on to the page:

"Why am I always ALMOST good enough?"

You see, like I’ve said, I’ve heard it before: a few versions of “I should love you for reasons A, B, and C, BUT….” I’m sure the boy thinks he is reassuring. But he always leaves me thinking, “If you SHOULD, then why don’t you?!” And it hurts. You feel like you almost made it, you almost had what they needed...

So I’m sitting on my bed reading, and re-reading, and processing that statement, yelling at the Lord in my head, beating myself up, and hurting. When all of a sudden in the quiet ache of my heart I hear this:

“Sweet child, I know.”

And I think, "No, You don’t. You can’t. I asked You, I prayed that You would not let me hear this again, that You would save me from this heartbreak. You can’t know how much it hurts to be almost good enough."

Again, “Sweet Child, I know”.

So I stop and listen. And in case I wasn’t already face-down enough, I get this sucker-punch to the heart:

“The reason I know is because you say that to Me every day.”

Me? I do that? 

“Yes, you do that. To Me.”

We do that. To the Creator of the Universe. We tell him every day, "You are almost good enough to have my whole heart. You are almost good enough to capture my full obedience. I SHOULD love you because of A, B, and C, BUT..."

BUT the world is so enticing. 
But surely you can’t be asking me to give up THAT.
But I don’t want to move there.
Work there.
Break up with him.
Forgive her.
Have that conversation.
Etc., etc., forever.

So darlin', The Lord of the Heavens knows about heartbreak.
Because we’re the ones breaking His heart.

Be thankful that His grace covers us, that in His mercy he loves us still. That no matter how much His heart is broken by our waywardness, He still chooses to love us extravagantly...

“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. 
Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, 
so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:15-16

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