Pierce the darkness with light.


For a moment, or rather just a few moments, the world seemed to care about the moon and story it had to tell. In case you weren’t aware, this past Sunday was the super moon lunar eclipse. It was nicknamed “blood moon” as well, as it was allegedly a prophecy for the end times (I don’t buy that part of the story). Whether you’re a sciency sort of person, a religious person awaiting the coming of Christ in the appearance of the blood moon, or someone who just wanted to see what the fuss was about, a lot of the world, waited and watched the lunar eclipse. Here are a few of my pictures from the night…I missed a few phases of the eclipse, I missed most of the red reflections of light (hence the nickname of “blood moon”). Clouds were in the way. We’ve had rain off and on and I just didn’t think I would get to see any of the eclipse. Actually, I was disappointed because I love astronomy- constellations and the incredible depth of mystery around it all. Staring into the night sky is easily among my favorite things to do pretty much ever. After checking outside to see the moon, I decided to grab my camera, you know, just in case.


The clouds blocked a lot of the moon. Even when I checked on the phases of it, often it was hindered by clouds and was pretty much a moon like any other night. Or at least, it wasn’t anything worth fussing about.


But I continued to watch it sporadically and see if anything changed.

Still….so many clouds. I tried to capture the ending of the eclipse as best as I could. Between the clouds and my amateur photographer skills (Nikon baby!), it wasn’t the best shot. It was still so incredible to experience. I mean think about it, the world almost collectively watched the moon and regardless of location, the moon was present. It doesn’t mean that clouds, storms, buildings, or something else hindered its presence. The visibility was just blocked.  Not only were so many people watching the moon, people were going at it on social media posting pictures. If I may be honest for a minute- like I haven’t already been honest- I get so sick of poor quality pictures. I know I am not professional photographer, but I know enough technique and have enough skill to spot good pictures or, in many cases of social media, bad or outright terrible ones. But nothing bothers me more than people posting either their own or someone else’s poorly or obviously photoshopped picture and claiming it to be either a masterpiece or declaration of truth. Its a fraud. I am all for using editing software and even photoshop, but please, for all that is good and beautiful, stop with the terrible photoshops being passed as fact. I saw people posting pictures of a bright red moon sitting on the horizon of the Mount of Olives essentially peering over the Wailing Wall of Jerusalem. Not only was the moon placement incorrect, the size and color were both terribly wrong, and quite obvious. But then there were other, less obvious, frauds that had so many people believing its validity. And though many were deceived by these frauds, we still will declare to the world, that we don’t like fake…

After my attempt of catching the eclipse mostly failed, I went inside my townhouse to read and watch some Netflix. I like evenings because I like the quiet and reflective nature of them. So after some binge watching, junk food, and Facebook, I unplugged a bit. At this point it was about 2 in the morning. Silence. Part of why I love the silence of the night is because I like to go outside on a porch, balcony, in a backyard, or wherever I am, and pray, reflect, then listen for what God has to say. When I stepped outside, I was taken aback for a moment. I thought there were new street lights or something because it was so unusually bright. I quickly realized something: I got to see the finale of something incredibly beautiful while the world slept (or in reality the Western Hemisphere). The moon was brighter than I had ever seen. It was big and bold and perfect. The clouds were gone. The sky was clear. And it was lovely.

I stood at the backside of my apartment building and fence just smiling in awe of such beauty. The darkness was gone. The night lit up like it was the day. And then something came to my mind, I believe, a whisper from God.

Pierce the darkness with light.


Our world is filled with so much filth. Distraction. Hate. Evil. So much darkness engulfs this world. Just like the earlier part of my evening and watching of the eclipse. The clouds got in the way of the beauty and perfection. You see, when we allow for things to pollute us and fill us with filth, we aren’t in the light. We all have sin, innate darkness, within us. It is the very reason why our world is full of evil. Its why there is brokenness and pain. But with Jesus, light has come. I know this may make me sound like a crazy person, but that’s honestly fine by me. Jesus died to bring life. He died to redeem. He died and rose again for each of us.  As Christians, Jesus needs to be the most important thing in our lives. He must be the light within us, but it must also break forth from us. What good is it if the light in us remains hidden from the rest of the world stuck in darkness? What good is it if we have been forgiven much and redeemed, yet aren’t telling others about it? Remember when I was talking about the bad photoshops? Yeah…nobody likes a fake, and if you’re a fake Christian- a hypocrite- people will eventually catch on.  Some might buy it, but eventually frauds are uncovered and exposed. If Jesus is the light of the world, if he is “the way the truth and the life”, why are we not excited to live that out and let the world catch at least a glimpse of that light? What good is grace and mercy in our lives when we aren’t living differently or offering it others? If we, Christians…if we, the Church, stepped up and lived as we say we believe, and let Jesus not only change us, but light up the world around us, this world would and could look very very differently. Pierce the darkness around you with the light of Jesus Christ.



You may not know this about me, but I like to remember dates and important events. Historically speaking. Whether it was a good day (or event) or something horrifyingly painful, I feel like I need to remember it. If there is anything that frustrates me most, apathy and lack of compassion would be on the top of that list.

Now I am not one who normally cries in movies- romance or anything. But I do cry in movies that are based on real events- movies of honor, heroism, pain, suffering, and tragedy. I cry because I see the brokenness of this world, past or present. I love war movies. Among my favorites are Saving Private Ryan, Band of Brothers, and We Were Soldiers. I love other historical movies like UnbrokenThe Impossible, and Hotel Rwanda. The reason I like movies like this and why I need to watch them over and again, is because it reminds me of something that happened and the pain (or joy) someone experienced. I am not someone who simply likes to post on social media about an event. It isn’t wrong to post something to commemorate something terrible or celebrate something good. But I like to remember so I do not forget.

When September 11th comes every year (which is today as I write), I relive the horrors of that day. I watch the news from our country that dark day. I read or watch survivors’ stories. I remember my own story from that day- the sadness and fear I felt. I remember the suffering that friends of mine went through. Every year on its anniversary, I watch the movie World Trade Center, about the survival of two Port Authority cops (starring Nicolas Cage). I’ve seen United 93 and other movies about the events as well.

I do the same thing with other movies that pair with important dates. When December 7th happens, the anniversary of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, I watch the movie Pearl Harbor. December 26th is a date a lot of people may not remember the same as I do, but I watch The Impossible, as it shares the miracle and story of a family that somehow was able to survive the tsunami in 2005, the tsunami that nearly wiped out Asia Pacific. To honor our freedom for Independence Day, I’ll watch The Patriot. The timeframe in between Memorial Day and July 4th, I like to have a sobering reminder of freedom, the reminder being in watching the mini-series Band of Brothers, about the 101st Airborne Division, specifically following a group of soldiers from training camp and D-Day to VE Day. If I ever need a reason to push through difficulty, loss or overcome difficulty, I like to watch movies like We Are Marshall or North Country. I want to remember things, but I want to be inspired as well.

It may seem silly to you and that is honestly okay. But to me, this is so important. I want to be broken for this world. I want to remember tragedies and not let myself because calloused and cold to them. I want to be broken by suffering and pain. I want to be reminded of the things that have been overcome- war, death, injury, genocide. I want to feel something because I need to feel something. I believe deep in my core that this is something God put inside me- this deep empathy and ability to be broken for other people but also rejoice and be excited with other people.

God’s heart breaks for brokenness.

I think we sometimes, myself included, want to blame God when things go wrong and might be painful, uncomfortable, or in the case of many of the dates I listed above, out right terrible. God is the creator, but he gave free will. Out of that free will, people have the choice to do great or terrible things. When these things happen, I want to have a heart that weeps for others. I want to have a heart that is reminded of pain and sorrow, but also to hope. Regardless of the actions of others, I want to be the kind of person that sees people the way God sees them.

Nothing about this post is like my normal- with a call to action or a challenge. Instead, it is me sharing my heart, to you. I guess, if I will give a challenge, it is this: life will bring both good and bad, to you and to others. But you have a choice in your response. Don’t live your life pretending those things don’t matter. Don’t live your life ignoring the cries of others. Don’t blame God. Don’t quit trying. If I have learned anything from consistently watching these movies and others throughout the year (many falling on important anniversaries), it is to allow myself to feel something and to be moved to action, hope, love, and care, but to also inspire others to do the same. History- whether world, country or personal- should never be forgotten. It should be honored, remembered, and, if anything, a reason to continue to push through and strive on.


Sometimes, we need to just stop… just for a moment, so we can see a bigger picture. Sometime we can be so busy. Think about it. We rush around to our own drumbeat and rhythm. On our way to work. Maybe it’s on your way to school. Maybe on your way to yoga or the gym. You might be rushing out the door with kids after a frazzled morning. At work, you might be overwhelmed with the insanity of a deadline or major project. In college, you have papers due, midterms and finals and an assortment of other assignments.

Life is crazy.

But does it have to be crazy? Does it need to be something that is so incredibly exhausting to the point where we miss life happening right before us? I had a moment yesterday. It’s been a tiring week so I was excited to sleep in until 8:30 or 9am. The coffee shop I work at has been insanely busy to the point where I’ve missed breaks and been on my feet for 8 hours straight. As I awoke yesterday, I saw a text asking me to come in for work early. I started getting ready for work thinking I’d be able to get there maybe 45 minutes to an hour early, instead of 2 hours early as requested. On my way out the door, I felt ready for what I figured would be another crazy day. I got in my car, with some worship music in the background, I began to pray- talking out loud to God. It may seem crazy but it’s a normal thing for me. I’ve been asking God for moments and opportunities for him to speak to me and show me things… little daily lessons. A few moments like that have happened lately and I’ve been wanting God to show me more. I wrote about one here on a previous blog.

Then something happened. I approached a busy intersection with the red light on my side. As I slowed to a stop I saw an elderly man walking with a cane across the street pulling a rolling suitcase. I was sad for him wondering where he was headed. The direction he was going would have him walking up some hills along a busy road in 95 degrees. In my heart, I knew I needed to pull over and see if there was something I could do. On an off chance miracle (or God ordained moment) he was heading to the Goodwill less than a mile from my store. So in a quick moment and choice, I decided to let him get in the car and I’d drive him to his destination. On our 10 minute drive, he shared a bit of his story. He’s 86 and diagnosed with liver cancer and has an inoperable tumor with 3 hopeful months to live. I’m unsure if he is currently or formerly homeless. Either way, he seemed to have a big story to tell.

When we pulled up to Goodwill, before he got out of my car, I asked if I could pray for him. I prayed for him- for God’s provision, understanding, and healing- but ultimately for God’s will to be done.  He then went on his way and I drove back toward my store. What I realized in those few minutes is something I wish more of us, especially Christians, could understand. Are we too busy to miss a moment or opportunity God has placed before us? Are we too rushed or too distracted to see God in the everyday? In the little moments? In the mundane? In the bustle and hustle of life, are we seeing what God is doing now? With Charlie, I got to hear his story, only in part, but I still was able to hear him, which I gathered he hasn’t been able to share in a long time. Are we willing to go out of our way for someone who can’t or won’t do the same? Are we willing to sacrifice for others, make time for others, or be uncomfortable for others?

Christians, we need to be in a place where the world sees Jesus in us. Jesus was incredibly intentional in everything he did. He chose to regularly go out of his way for others. He chose to regularly choose people in the midst of a crazy schedule. Jesus chose to help those who couldn’t do anything in return. Jesus taught his disciples that loving people, especially loving them where they were at (spiritually or physically), was the foundation of his message of the Gospel- the Good News. I’m not asking you to go do something extreme. I’m just simply challenging you to not miss God or the opportunities he places before us because we are too busy, too comfortable, too lazy, too distracted or too rushed. Maybe, just maybe, if we all could love our neighbor as ourselves, love people regardless if they can or will do anything for us, this world could look a lot more like Jesus.

The few moments over the past month have moments that have spiritually challenged me to strive to actually be more like Jesus, instead of just saying I believe in him or love him. Whether its opening a door, picking up a stranger, paying for the person behind you, praying for that random person at work, or anything else, be sensitive and discerning to what God might possibly be saying to you or asking of you. It might be simple. But it might just be worth it.

The loudest voice

There is a good chance that I may not know your story…or know the details of your life, what you believe, behaviors you have whether public or private, or the things that have shaped you to be who you are today. I believe life should be lived intentionally and with great purpose. I believe that because of my faith. I also believe that some people can become seriously and painfully misguided by their beliefs.

This is one of those stories.

You see, last weekend I was in Dallas to go to another sexpo. Porn convention. Adult show. Name it what you will, I was there. Arriving in Dallas, I already knew the weekend would be different. It already was. My very arrival was contingent on the spontaneous road trip that I took with strangers I met at Houston airport. The city seemed quite when I arrived at nearly midnight while walking from the train station to my hotel in Downtown. I prayed to myself as I walked, pulling my seemingly overweight bag (I had almost 10 big books in there!). I prayed because I was grateful: the week leading into this Dallas convention I had been at another convention with thousands of pastors, a handful of which were the financial reason I was able to be walking through Downtown Dallas heading to a porn show. I was excited because this was another convention with XXXchurch where I would be able to share my story and the love of Jesus to anyone wanting to hear. Even gazing out my hotel room’s large bay windows at the silhouette of the cityscape, my heart melted. It melted because I know in my heart that Jesus loves me and that he is why I am who I am today, but so many people are stuck living lives of quiet desperation, brokenness, shame, fear, and wandering. My story of redemption- of Jesus changing my heart and my brokenness- is why I feel obligated and compelled to go to conventions like Exxxotica. If one person- ONE PERSON- can see Jesus through me and hear about how much he really loves them and accept that, then every single moment is worth it all.

But sadly, some people share a very different story.

At Exxxotica, we were met with many different voices, voices all telling a different story. Exxxotica itself is an event that highlights and glamorizes the sex industry and those who work it. I have met many industry workers and have gotten to know some closer; they are some amazing people. I don’t like pornography or what it can and will inevitably do to someone; I believe that it is a painful part of some people’s stories. It was a part of mine which is why I feel I have a voice in this.  Though I don’t like it, I do believe some people genuinely do, including those who work as porn stars. I also believe that when you disagree or even know the damages of certain behaviors or lifestyles, usually the loudest and meanest voice is the least received of them all. XXXchurch goes to this shows not “save” anyone from the industry. We don’t go to rescue people from trafficking. We don’t go so we can convert porn stars or producers or consumers. We go because we love Jesus and we believe He truly loves them. We go in love. We go giving out free things like stickers and t-shirts. We smile, we chat, we stand all day, we laugh, and we get to know people’s stories. We don’t yell. We don’t condemn. We don’t judge. That is not our job. Nothing we do or say can or will save someone for Heaven OR condemn someone to Hell. We are not God. We simply share who Jesus is to us and how e loves people.

There was a much louder, crueler voice present. They weren’t a booth. They weren’t a vendor. They were a local church. They were a church that apparently had craft time before showing up to the Kay Bailey Convention Center. Signs were made…and screaming was their choice of presentation.  Instead of preaching of the love of Jesus, redemption, salvation, or anything else, this church purposefully spoke in hate and condemnation. This church had signs that read “God hates fags”, “Homo sex is sin”,  and “Got AIDS yet?”. The kicker of it all was a man, who I believe was the pastor, holding a sign that read “You deserve rape” with the other side reading  “God laughs at your rape”. Tell me, please dear pharisees of that Dallas church, where in the Bible it says such things? Where does God laugh at sorrow or pain? The God you were screaming so violently and cruelly at attenders and workers of this convention is most certainly not the God I serve.

My God is a God of tremendous love. A God who forgives. A God who is unconditional. A God that sacrificed the very thing that brings us new life. He is a God that when we make choices and live our lives to our own pleasing, he draws us to Him and lets us choose to love Him (or not). It is a choice to allow God to work in our lives and transform us. You see, He is an incredibly patient God that will wait for us and never abandon. He will love us and never hurt us. When we hurt, he weeps, because he truly understands sorrow. He doesn’t laugh at our pain, but wants to be our strength especially when we have none. My God- my Jesus- sat with sinners at their tables, the very people that the religious elite thought they were too good or righteous for. Jesus chose to be associated with people who had baggage, made mistakes, had pain, lived questionable lives, had sorrow, had brokenness, and he chose in the midst of all of that to be a voice… calming and loving and redeeming. A voice resonating around the world even still 2,000 years later. A voice that didn’t need to show condemnation, especially when he was the only one actually able to be self-righteous. Jesus loves us as we are but loves us way to much to stay the same. He has a greater story ahead for us. And that story, dear friends, is what we share when we go to sexpos and porn conventions. This is why I share what God has done in my life. I have experienced first hand his grace and mercy and redemption. Instead of shoving religion down people’s throats or in their faces, I want to always offer hope through relationship with Jesus Christ.

The church protesting there may have been the loudest voice, but it was not the truest or holiest.

As always, Jesus loves porn stars. But he also loves the protestors. He equally wants to redeem us all.


Standby, 4 strangers, and the highways of Texas

My life lately seems to be full of many moments that I can choose to see as awkward or as anointed. I choose the latter.

On Thursday, I arrived to Orlando airport to make my journey to Dallas, Texas. I had just been at the convention center in town to be a part of a large ministry conference for pastors, specifically, it is the General Council of the Assemblies of God. While there, ministers and lay pastors, along with missionaries, get to see what is going on in our fellowship and community both nationally and abroad. It is so inspiring to see some of the amazing things people are doing all over the world. Some of the less fun stuff included sitting in business meetings where we voted on various things that would affect the next steps of our churches and ministries. One of the things I realized during my days in Orlando, and especially on Thursday, is that God has us where we are for a reason.

You see, I have felt somewhat nomadic lately, borderline lost. I haven’t a had a clear picture of what I am doing for a few years now. I have been searching and praying for the next thing God has for me, the thing he has been preparing me for…you know, the thing you were born to do. Applying job after job, receiving rejection after rejection, I have found myself going to General Council with a whole lot of uncertainty, lack of clarity and no direction. Most of the people go to this conference represent their church or ministry, or in missionary’s cases, their mission field. They vote to represent where they work. The whole week is basically surrounded on the premise that we know where we are….except I don’t. I wasn’t voting for my church. I’m not on staff at a church. I’m not a missionary. My job right now has nothing to do with what I want to do; it simply pays my bills (barely).

Then I had a crazy revelation on Thursday after my flight had made it to Houston. I was connecting to get a flight from Houston to Dallas. When I landed, I barely made the time for boarding for my flight. But that wouldn’t have even mattered. You see, part of my nomadic feel of life is that I fly standby. I don’t by tickets; I instead fly standby as a non-revenue passenger because my dad is a retired pilot with the airline. I only get a seat if there is room by unsold seats or no-shows. And on Thursday, there was not a chance that I’d get a seat…all day. I stood there at the gate trying to figure out what to do, knowing flying from Houston to Dallas was not an option anymore. I had to get to Dallas by 9am the next morning. Standing there at the gate among a few dozen other standby passengers (yes dozens!) also in the same boat as me, I silently prayed to myself for God to lead me. In spite of feeling lost in basically every other area of my life, I felt like I couldn’t handle another lost moment of not knowing what to do.

Within a second it seemed that my prayer was answered in the strangest of ways. Two other young women, seemingly around my age, perked up and said “We’re renting a car and driving to Dallas. Want to join us?” Any other people, I probably would have said no to simply for the reason of safety and stupidity. But being that it was two women asking me, I quickly said I’d join them and split the cost. They then asked another woman standing there with us if she’d like to join. What started off as crazy chaos and traveling impossibility turned into a hilarious adventure among four strangers.

We found our way to the rental car desks and decided to play the field for the best price using pilot discounts, AAA, whatever we could do to save money and get a car fast. Within a few minutes we had a rental and were about to be on our way. Before leaving, the rental company decided to upgrade us to a brand new (10 miles on it) black GMC Acadia. Holy comfort! It was such a simple thing, but what a blessing in the midst of insanity. And we were off…four strangers from four very different backgrounds headed to Dallas for four very different reasons. Two of us were pilots’ daughters. Another was a pilot’s wife. The other was an employee’s daughter. I was headed to a porn convention (try that one for an icebreaker!). One girl was going to her Advocare convention. The pilot’s wife was headed to her class reunion. And the other employee’s daughter was going to a job interview. Over the course of our 5ish hours together, we learned each other’s stories. We learned some of the brokenness within our lives. Ultimately what I realized in that car ride is that I was not surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I have always loved hearing people share their story and learning about what got them to where they are now. What was a surprise to me, was that while I felt lost and stuck, God provided a literal way of showing me that he cares for me and has a plan. Sometimes that plan doesn’t look the way we plan. Sometimes that plan comes at a different cost than we were expecting. Sometimes, it involves being around other people, and doing life together, than trying to do it alone. God showed me in such a real way that he has such a deep, deep love for me, along with a love for those three other amazing women I got to know.

You might find yourself in some difficulty, lack of direction, frustration with your life, or an array of other feelings. Believe me, I can sympathize with you. Don’t give up. Try to see God working in the everyday and the normal. See God working in things you would least expect. On the highways of Texas, God showed me he was faithful and still doing something in me.


*Vanessa, Danielle and Lizz…It was amazing getting to know you. I believe it was with purpose that God brought us together. What I do know, is that he loves you all very much.**

Taming the wild beast.

My heart has been arrested by God’s deep conviction on my heart. One of those areas includes my words, conversations, and joking. Everything I say now, I feel like I have to double check and make sure it is something that is worth saying. Not everything we think, we should say. Believe me, I am the first to admit having a lot to say…yet having to learn to not always talk. God has been teaching me to tame the beast inside me…the tongue. Our very way of communicating to each other, God is telling me to contain it. Control it. Teach it to be submissive to what is right and tame it. This is a constant struggle for me.

Words can hurt. We all know this. At some point words have cut deep into our core and stab us as if a knife. Words can painfully penetrate the insecurities and doubts within someone’s life. You and I have the power to uplift, respect and bring even life to someone with our words and conversations. However, the other side of this is that we also have a very powerful weapon against others that is very hard to tame. Though the first option is best, the second is far more common. The tongue is a weapon, a sword that cuts through someone bringing deep wounds that will become scars. Simple jokes, gossip, slander… Our words can murder. Can destroy. Can forever ruin. Gossip is poison that leaks from our lips. Life or death, a words will make that difference.

What are we to do?

You choose… life or death. Will you let your words honor others? Build them up? Edify? Encourage? Or will you speak death over others? Coarse joking? Gossip? Hatred?

Scientists say that the tongue is, if not the strongest, among the strongest muscles in the human body. How will you use that strength?

“let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger” -James 1:19
“the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness” -James 3:6
“from the same mouth come blessing and cursing” -James 3:10

Here is something to think about. 

Below is an excerpt from desiringGod website:
[ http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/20-resolutions-on-taming-the-tongue ]

1. I resolve to ask God for wisdom to speak out of a single-minded devotion to him. (1:5)

2. I resolve to boast only in the exultation I receive in Jesus Christ and also in the humiliation I receive for Jesus Christ. (1:9-10)

3. I resolve to set a watch over my mouth. (1:13)

4. I resolve to be constantly quick to hear and slow to speak. (1:19)

5. I resolve to learn the gospel way of speaking to both rich and poor. (2:1-4)

6. I resolve to speak in the present consciousness of my final judgment. (2:12)

7. I resolve never to stand on anyone’s face with the words I employ. (2:16)

8. I resolve never to claim as reality in my life what I do not truly experience. (3:14)

9. I resolve to resist quarrelsome words as evidence of a bad heart that needs to be mortified. (4:1)

10. I resolve never to speak decided evil against another out of a heart of antagonism. (4:11)

11. I resolve never to boast in anything but what I will accomplish. (4:13)

12. I resolve to speak as one subject to the providences of God. (4:15)

13. I resolve never to grumble. The judge is at the door. (5:9)

14. I resolve never to allow anything but total integrity in everything I say. (5:12)

15. I resolve to speak to God in prayer whenever I suffer. (5:13)

16. I resolve to sing praises to God whenever I’m cheerful. (5:14)

17. I resolve to ask for the prayers of others when I’m in need. (5:14)

18. I resolve to confess it whenever I have failed. (5:15)

19. I resolve to pray with others for one another whenever I am together with them. (5:15)

20. I resolve to speak words of restoration when I see another wander. (5:19)


I hope and pray that this affects you and causes you to, at least, evaluate yourself and your tongue. I desire to love God fully and with my all… that definitely needs to include my speech, words, conversation, joking… if not I am simply living a lie. Only a Pharisee. How do your words, conversations, and jokes affect others? Even more… how do they truly affect you?

Spiritually anorexic.

**disclaimer- I understand anorexia is a condition/disease and struggle for many people. This post is not to belittle it or take it lightly. It is a simple comparison of the result of starved faith. Please read with the understanding that my comparison is not an exact one**

A while back, my young adult group- a 20 somethings community that I was involved- was looking into personal disciplines for our relationships with the LORD.

And I realized how I kind of get angry about this subject.

For weeks we discussed in detail the specific disciplines of prayer,  study [the Bible, Christian books, etc.], meditation [not the kind done in yoga, et cetera but the idea of clearing the mind and infilling it with more of God while removing distractions], and fasting. Some of this disciplines I do regularly, the others I still do but can definitely improve on being more disciplined. The idea of going in depth into discussing these disciplines is to see how we can each grow in our relationship with God, and how in growing that relationship, it will inevitably affect the community around. Hence, inward to communal disciplines.

It has been great talking over these subjects, hearing from older pastors, people sharing their knowledge on specific disciplines…

…but tonight I got heated. I got mad actually. Not mad at anyone in particular but at the collective Church. I’m deeply sad for the Church. We waste so much time in programs and curriculums and trips, which yes are all great things, however they are not things that will likely bring the most personal change to each individual. Again, those things are good in context, but for the sake of what I am writing about tonight, some things get in the way. I got mad because I unsurprisingly hear so many pastors and church-goers complain about how they get nothing out of church, they are bored, they are struggling spiritually and don’t know why, or [fill in the blank of excuses].

Going over each of these disciplines taught me something pretty big yet so simple. Look at this way…

Let’s say you want to get in shape. At the new year, so many people set goals and “resolutions”, many often being about behavioral changes and weight loss. Great idea… but you’ll probably fail at it and this is why. You have a great idea but no game plan. The idea is great but you are lazy and say “I can do it later”. If you haven’t already started your New Years Resolution to lose weight… you probably won’t. And you won’t next year either. I don’t mean this to be harsh, but to make a point. If you want to lose, let’s say 40 pounds, a good first step is to 1) buy fitness programs or machines for home or 2) get a gym membership and 3) get accountability. Secondly, it might be good to buy gym clothes, sneakers, water bottles, weight gloves, etc. Spending money on gym equipment and accessories will be more of an incentive for you to actually do something about the problem you have or the goal you have desired. Heck, you can do all of that, but if you still only show up to the gym, and do nothing, you won’t get healthier. Period. It just won’t happen. Going to the gym won’t get you fit. You actually have to workout.

Your spiritual life is just like that. You can say you want to be a better Christian and, with all great intentions, still be a very lousy one. Until you actually create a lifestyle of discipline, you will not- I repeat- will not be a better Christ follower. Jesus Christ was incredibly disciplined. Whether you believe in him or not, it is undeniable that the story of Jesus is one dripping with love, discipline, and matching of lifestyle and beliefs. As a Christ follower, wanting to love him is not enough. Actions are proof of your love. Wanting to have a heart like Christ is not enough. You won’t suddenly love people one day. It just won’t happen. You won’t suddenly be knowledgable of the Bible. You won’t, unless by pure miracle sake, be free of an addiction like drugs or pornography. Your marriage will continue you to fail, your relationships will continue to crumble, your self-gratifying behaviors will still only satisfy temporarily. You’ll be nowhere.

Discipline, I believe, is one of the very things lacking in our churches today. We are an anorexic church because we are anorexic , starved believers that want to change but refuse to put in the work. We are believers that wonder why we are just as broken as people outside of Christ and the Church, because we only got saved and then did nothing else.  We are so spiritually starved because, rather than praying for change and believe He is able, we just settle and compromise and give up. We are spiritually slowly dying if we refuse to invite God to be a part of our marriages, our families, our churches, communities through prayer and study of His word. We want to be the kind of Christian that is a Billy Graham or some other big shot of the Christian faith, yet we wonder why we can’t get over our personal sin and struggles.

Discipline is the answer. Discipline is what makes you stronger. It is what gives you power, strength, diligence, resilience, perseverance, humility and courage to be the kind of Christ follower that actually looks like Christ. That means investing time without distraction in reading the Bible, in studying it-through commentaries, books, and other tools, in turning OFF the phones, computers, tablets, and just being in the silence of the heart and mind and talking and listening to God. It means investing in sacrifices like fasting…that may mean for you to fast food entirely, partially, or some other variation, or in the more common broader term, sacrificing something else [a desire, need or want] for the sake of pursuing God more [i.e. not going on Facebook or social media for extended amount of time]. We need to stop starving ourselves of the presence and Word of God and start hungering after Him. 

Why is that we can be so willing to watch Netflix for hours (guilty) yet we can’t study the Bible the same? Why is that we quickly remember lyrics and movie quotes without a second thought yet when it comes to recalling the Bible and what God’s Word truly says, we draw a blank? I see a big disconnect with us- the collective Church- and our pursuit of God. We are missing something and I believe it is discipline. If you want to grow in the LORD more you need to make the change. Stop being a lazy, compromising, or stubborn Christian and pursue God. Yes it takes work. Yes it is about discipling yourself, but just like working out and exercising to be healthy, the results are worth the effort. And you only get out of it what you put in. Instead of being spiritually anorexic, why not be spiritual fit and healthy? No more excuses. No more pity party. No more waiting. No more reasons why not. You can make the change starting now. This world has far too many hypocrites, Pharisees, and undisciplined, apathetic, lazy Christians. Be someone who wants to be an imitator of Paul, who imitated Jesus. Be someone who desires to bring the Gospel- the Great Commission- to the world, even if it that means for you just going across the street. Be someone who, in light of what is going on in this world, can reveal the redemptive love of Jesus Christ because He is who brings the transformation. Our job is to pursue Him and be holy as He is holy.

The slow change. 

This is very serious. And funny. And ridiculous. But hear me out…

Anyone who knows me well enough knows how I’ve talked trash about Country music. About the twangy annoyance that is the core of Country. The “something happened to my truck, my dog or my woman so-let-me-get-drunk-and-sing-about-it” music…ugh I hate it. But since I moved to Tennessee 3 months ago, and honestly even before I got here, I started listening to artists like Ben Rector, Andy Grammar and Taylor Swift. Mumford & Sons and Rascal Flats. And now Sam Hunt. Randomly on the radio here I’ll hear a song that catches my attention. And of course, its a Country song.  Slowly, but surely, my thoughts toward (some) country and folky styled music has changed. I don’t hate it all. I enjoy some of it…the poppy, the fun, the easy-to-dance to Country music, a lot of which is barely or not at all considered Country. I like line dancing. Actually, I love it. Always have. I’m the goofy person at weddings dancing to every line dance, country or not, heels or not.

What I realized today is that my enjoyment of some Country music didn’t come over night. It came as I embraced certain artists. It came as I have lived in the South longer (and actually again) and the fact that its a part of the culture here.  I live an hour away from the country capital of the world. What’d you expect? I have some friends who love it, therefore, I’ve had no choice but to listen to it when I’m with them. I’ve danced to Country. I’ve had those Sweet Home Alabama, Hope Floats, marry me charming- southern-country-cowboy ideas. When I was living New Jersey, I actually had a few friends tell me that they think I belong in the South because I look like a country girl (that’s still to be debated). Slowly, but very very surely, Country music  is growing on me.

What I actually realized is that this is exactly how we are with sin. It’s never overnight. Regardless of the type of sin, sin is a creeping, deceiving, and dangerous thing to have.  We compromise. The compromise may not happen fast. It may be years of slowly deciding something: to take glances at pornographic websites which eventually lead to an addiction; to flirt with that woman who is not your wife which leads to an affair; to cut corners at work which lead to fraud; the list could go seriously on. We surround ourselves with people who pull us down. We settle. And sure enough, one day, we find ourselves addicted porn, cheating on a spouse, lying on the job, committing a crime, etc. The people we put in our lives are so crucial. Our friends, our inner circles, our closest, most intimate people in our lives ultimately determine the direction. It may seem like nothing, but think about it for a minute. When you are deciding on asking a person out, who do you usually talk to first? When you are thinking about a new job, who do you ask for advice from? When things are rough, whose shoulder do you cry on?  When life happens, we usually have people alongside us. The problem that some of us find ourselves in, is that when life happens, we don’t have an actual solid support system. We have people who tell us mediocre or, dare I say, stupid advice. We trust the wisdom of other people who have no idea what they are doing, people who make poor decisions, etc. For me, I don’t get dating or guy advice from friends that have a track record of dating a guy for a short time then having things end. I don’t go to those friends, not because they aren’t friends, but because their advice won’t help, unless I want to learn the “what not to do”. What many of us do is surround ourselves with people that aren’t a support at all. I’m not saying everyone has to have all of life’s answers. What I am saying is that, the company we keep influence our direction for life. Scripture says a few times that “bad company corrupts good character”.  If you’re in AA and abstaining from alcohol, the wisest advice I can give you is to not be around alcohol or those that drink. How can the alcoholic get sober hanging around drinkers? How can student do well on all their exams when they only spend their time goofing off with their friends never studying, only to find out they failed? How can a Christian grow in their faith in a world where our faith is challenged, when that Christian doesn’t have a community of believers in their life or a sustainable prayer and devotional life?

Friends, look at those people in your life and the choices you make. Are you in good company? Are you a better person because of those friends? Or possibly, do some changes need to happen because of those relationships and negative changes?

Christian friends…I don’t go to friends, Christian or otherwise, about wisdom on scripture, life or current events from people who aren’t in the Word figuring out and discerning God’s will for our lives. Christians, when I struggle with areas of my life and sin, I can’t be surprised when I am in it deep, if I never had safeguards to protect me from getting there. It is the slow compromise of faith, of behaviors, of actions publicly and privately, of choosing something other God as a priority. It is the allowance of negative influencers in our lives. Christians, I challenge you, give people great access to your life- your dreams, your passions, what excites you, and what breaks you. But use wisdom with those people. Use wisdom in how you respond to things going on around you. Be in the Word, and don’t just read it. Let things in life change you and challenge you, but make sure they are things that are Godly, good and matter.

Happily never after. The idol of a spouse.

About a month ago, I shared my heart a little bit with you all in my post Honest Words From A Single. In that post, I wanted to both encourage singles and the Church. Single-hood is valid. It is part of what helped launch the Early Church. But at the same time, marriage- Gospel centered marriage, is just as valid. When we begin to think one is greater than the other, we miss out on a large group of people that God has invited to be a part of his story. So today, I wanted to write another post, focused on spouses, whether you’re a single person in search of a spouse, or someone married who already has a spouse, this blog is for you.

For so many of us single people, we long for spouses. I can’t honestly speak for everyone, however, I know how I feel. I know that for as long as I can remember, I have always wanted to be married. Maybe that came from the Disney fairytales…you know the ones about the princess or damsel in distress who captivates the heart of some prince charming. We have Ariel who charms the human and gives up life in the sea to be happily ever after. We have Belle who falls in love with a mysterious man…more like a case of Stockholm syndrome. We have Snow White, Mulan, Rapunzel. Aurora, and so many other Disney fairytales that share with young kids- primarily young girls- about falling in love (usually at first site and at creepy young ages) with some “prince” who will fulfill them, meet all their needs, rescue them, or give them a castle. I mean, on one side of it, who doesn’t want to be treated like royalty, live in a castle, and have a handsome man/beautiful maiden by their side? However, what these stories do, though cute and enjoyable, is show such an unrealistic expectation of a spouse: that a spouse can fulfill and complete you.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Disney and love the Disney classics. But I want a real love story, not a fairytale. I don’t want a story that has me falling in love at 15 (I’m well past that!) and being taken away to a castle by some man I hardly know. I don’t want a story that has me relying on my worth and value and beauty through the opinion of someone else. I want a real love. A true love. A love that is for life.

It is a such a myth…or dare I say lie…that we will be fulfilled, completed and made whole by getting married. Marriage is not about being made whole at all. Single person reading this: if you’re searching for love- for a spouse- because you think your life will be made perfect, think again. If you think that person will complete you because it is “so right” or “perfect”, you might want to think about being single a little while longer. Without a doubt, if you go and ask married people if their spouse is still completing them after 15 years of marriage, 30 years of marriage, or to their deathbed, they would tell you that marriage is more than being with the right person, more than being completed and more than a fairytale. Marriage is hard. Those vows actually mean something. When a spouse gets diagnosed with cancer, its hard on both of them. When a spouse cheats, its hard on both of them. When a spouse has an addiction, becomes distant, or wants something new….I guarantee you that marriage is not about completing anyone at all.

Fairytales don’t exist. Covenant marriages do.

As Christians, when we live our lives to honor God, he becomes our priority. He becomes the thing that we should love most. In my years of being single, I have learned that when I place the idea of a husband on a pedestal- like a Prince Charming- that idea, that man, becomes an idol and starts to replace God. Instead of letting the Creator, my God, fulfill my life and heal my brokenness, instead of letting the redemption that I received through Christ be my priority in everything, I allow for a man, a person, another failed individual, to take the lead. And that, dear friends, is a dangerous place to find yourself. If you are single, be in a place where God fulfills you, where he heals your wounds, strengthens you in your weaknesses, and gives you passion. I am not saying don’t desire marriage or a spouse. I am just asking that you keep things in the right place of priority. God first, always. Anything that comes before God is an idol, and that definitely can include a spouse.

Married friends (and friends who want to be married), whether you’ve been married for a day or 60 years, keep God at the center. Keep Jesus as the thing your life fuels on. You will always blame your spouse for everything, whether right or wrong, when your life is solely centered on them instead of God. You’ll praise them for the good, and hate them for the bad. But when Christ becomes your center- your focus- where you both find fulfillment in and completion, then and only then, will your marriage be one that reflects a Gospel-Centered love. It is when you have this kind of completion and living out the Gospel in your marriage, that the world will want to see because it’ll be rare. Its hard, don’t get me wrong, but it is completely possible when Christ is the lead and center focus of your story.

Don’t desire the fairytale, for it will only be a tale and not a truth. Desire a love that is so deep and so pure, that in spite of the failings and mistakes and heartaches that will come in a marriage, you can overcome. Desire a love that is made whole through Jesus instead of each other. Desire a marriage that reflects the heart of the Creator, instead of Man. Find your wholeness, fulfillment, completion in a God who loves you more than you spouse ever possibly could. Isn’t that a story worth telling, far more than some child’s fairytale?



“So as we stand here today and as God joins you together in marriage, there is something bigger going on. Its not just a special night but its a sacred night. And its a sacred night because its not just any ceremony- your heart, my heart, our hearts collectively is that the Lord Jesus Christ would be honored. And I can promise you this: that the world will marvel at what it looks like when two people live out a Gospel centered marriage. Its one of sacrifice, its one of love, its one of honor, its one of respect and its one that the world longs to know more about.”
[taken from a wedding video sermon I saw a few years ago]