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30 Things I’ll Never Do Again

“The lights are flickering. Intermission is over. The second act is beginning.” 

I turned 30 almost two weeks ago, and these words that were written to me in a birthday card have stuck with me ever since.

I’ve spent much of the past two weeks thinking about what I want my second act to look like. I know the promises I’ve held onto as well as the new dreams that are taking root, and I truly feel like I’ve never been wiser and more ready for what’s to come.

But there are also old habits and ways of thinking that are nothing more than completely disastrous. They have kept me in bondage and have consumed my thoughts and my time and have ensured that I was focused on things of zero importance rather than on what really matters. They have kept me from fully evolving into everything that I want to be.

And they have no place in Act Two. So I’ve had to take the time to examine my life, figure out what can stay but what has to go. What areas need to see serious change. What places have I been held back the most. Where am I allowing myself to remain imprisoned.What do I need to never do again.

It’s easier said than done, but some things cannot come with me into this new season because all they produce at best is bondage, laziness, indifference, and self-hatred, and at worst, emotional and spiritual death.

So this is my list of things to let go of and leave behind. Things to stop entertaining and to stop giving any power to in my life.

Here’s to a beautiful second act.

***

30 Things I’ll Never Do Again:

1. Hide behind other people in pictures. I wasted too much time in my twenties hiding because I hated how I looked. But life’s too short to spend time hiding. I want to allow myself to be seen.

2. Use exercise as a punishment for enjoying food. I’ll never again treat my body poorly or force myself to do something I don’t enjoy doing just because I ate food.

3. Co-opt other people’s dreams. I have my own race to run.

4. Cut my own bangs, no matter how many Pinterest tutorials I watch.

5. Make excuses to not celebrate my friendships. I’m really good at neglecting my friends. I get busy and forgetful, and I’m not one to think far ahead and make plans. I want to be more intentional about pouring into the friendships I have and celebrating the people in my life.

6. Be a single-issue voter.

7. Justify where I am in life to others. I have absolutely nothing to prove to anyone.

8. Ignore my gut feelings. The worst times of my life came from moments where I ignored a warning from the Holy Spirit because I doubted my ability to hear from Him. I listened to every voice but His and found myself in really hard and broken places. Never again.

9. Diminish who I am because it makes other people uncomfortable. I’ve learned to accept the fact that some people just won’t be able to handle who I am, and that’s okay.

10. Refuse to acknowledge someone else’s pain just because I don’t understand it. It’s easy to brush away the very real experiences of others because they are unfamiliar. I’ve learned more and more recently how important it is to listen to the personal truths of others and refuse to reduce real people with real pain to cheap political talking points.

11. Mistake emotional manipulation for true friendship and love. Real love empowers, encourages, uplifts, and cheers you on always.

12. Use cynicism as a defense mechanism.

13. Take good health for granted. Living with PCOS has shifted my perspective a lot on what a gift it is to be in good health, and my disorder is absolutely nothing compared to what other people have to deal with on a daily basis. I want to live in gratitude for every single good day.

14. Live with the constant anxiety of not being good enough.

15. Not write something down because I think I’ll remember.

16. Live my life on an elusive, imaginary timeline. Nothing teaches you more about not having to accomplish anything by a certain age like being 30, single, and childless. We should all strive to constantly grow and change and evolve, regardless of our age and season of life. I refuse to live a life governed by man-made time constraints and stupid rules.

17. Confuse keeping the peace with being a peacemaker. When I was younger, I thought being a peacemaker meant keeping everyone happy and avoiding conflict. Not speaking up, not sharing my own truth, all in the name of peace, because it would cause too much trouble. Because good Christian girls are sweet and quiet. But I know now that being a true peacemaker is about calling forth justice and light to the dark and broken places in our own lives and in the systems that we are a part of. It isn’t divisive to speak out against real problems. I won’t ever again apologize for stirring the pot, or when it’s necessary, for dumping the entire thing out.

18. Spend money on something I don’t really like just because it’s trendy.

19. Sit on the sidelines. I’ve sat on the sidelines of my own life too many times because I was concerned I would look stupid. But not anymore. I want to dance and laugh and sing and take part and enjoy every single moment of this precious gift of life.

20. Take myself too seriously. I think it’s important to laugh every single day, and I’ve learned the art of laughing at myself and sharing my embarrassing stories with others so that they can laugh too.

21. Let age become an idol.  We live in a society that is completely obsessed with age and youth. The older you get, the more you can feel that in certain areas of life (especially church). But you end up in a dangerous place when you become so fixated on age that you begin judging your own and other people’s ability and worth based on how old/young they are. God will knock that idol down quick.

22. Ignore my spiritual needs / wait for other people to meet them. I want to go where the Holy Spirit is drawing me to go, even if that means I have to buy my own communion and light candles and listen to hymns all by myself.

23. Make important decisions based on the opinion of others.

24. Argue with someone who gives me a compliment. I’m learning to just say thank you.

25. Fail to practice regular self-care. I used to go and go and go until I was completely mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted. I learned the hard way almost two years ago how important it is to care for yourself and make yourself a priority. No one can pour from an empty well.

26. Forget to put on sunscreen. 

27. Go to sleep without taking my contacts out. Don’t do it, friends. Your eyes are pretty important.

28. Worry if people like me. It’s just too exhausting to care that much. The right people will always love me.

29. Obsess about appearance. Am I gaining weight again, how did I look, ugh my hair is too short/long/frizzy/flat, etc etc. So much of my mental energy has been consumed with an unhealthy obsession over how I looked. I have tied an enormous amount of my own self-worth to my appearance throughout my life, and that can’t come with me into a new decade. It’s great to care about yourself and do what you can daily to be healthy and strong, but at some point, the obsession has to end. Other things just have to be more important.

30. Feel bad about saying no. No one can do everything. I want to give my best yes to the things that really matter and are really important to me and let everything else go.

***

There truly are no words to verbalize how deeply thankful I am for the lessons, growth, change, and freedom I found in my twenties. Jesus has been a constant friend and has proven His faithfulness to me over and over again in ways that I’ll never deserve. I’m a completely different person than I was even just a few years ago, and it’s all because of His mercy.

So I’m starting Act Two with a greater desire than ever to live my life for an audience of One, hand to the plow and never looking back. Leaving behind the things that are only weights to tie me down, and pressing forward with my gaze fixed on Him. With nothing to prove to anyone, just fully trusting in Christ.

Because it’s all from Him, all for Him, and all to Him.

“The lights are flickering. Intermission is over. The second act is beginning.” 

His Love Runs Deeper

I had become very familiar with the carpet on the bathroom floor. The gray-blue color, the places where the thread was worn and pulled and torn.

The small bathroom tucked away in the back corner of an empty room at work had become a sanctuary. A quiet place where I could retreat and hide. Like an old friend, it welcomed me with arms wide open every time I needed it.

And six years ago, I needed it often.

In the darkest season of my life, when I found myself at times unable to breathe and unable to stand up straight, all I could do was collapse on that bathroom floor in pain, weeping into the already tear-stained carpet.

No one around me knew what I was going through, and I wanted it that way. I was too prideful to let anyone in, to let anyone know that I was not okay. I suffered silently and alone, completely shattered.

The world seemed dark and bleak, tinted by the lenses of grief and heartache and depression.

It did not seem possible for things to ever get better, and a sense of hopelessness left me feeling weak and isolated and weary.

Six years ago.

***

When I was in the depths of my suffering, my vision was clouded. I wondered out loud everyday “God, where are you?” He felt distant, and I felt forgotten. It seemed as though I was stumbling around in the dark, desperately reaching out for something to hold on to, yet my hands remained empty. The lies from the enemy told me that I was not loved, that this was my fate in life. That God in His disappointment and anger had turned away from me, leaving me reeling and without any remnant  of solid ground to stand on.

I was searching for Him, but I was convinced He was not there.

I knew all the good Christian things to do. Read the word more, pray more, encourage myself in the Lord more. But I was in a season of life where I could not do those things. I did not feel like I had one single ounce of strength left after just getting out of bed every morning. I looked at my closed Bible, knowing I should be reading, but feeling too weak to even turn the pages. I opened my mouth to pray and instead found myself in tears. My voice trembled, barely a whisper, as I tried to speak life over my situation.

But one night as I lay in bed, a scripture suddenly came to my mind:

The Lord is my rock, my shepherd, my deliverer.

I can remember putting those words on repeat in my spirit that night, begging myself to believe and to know:

The Lord is my rock, my shepherd, my deliverer. The Lord is my rock, my shepherd, my deliverer.

And in the morning when I opened my eyes, another scripture was on my mind:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases.

And as the day went on, scripture after scripture flooded my soul:

His mercies are new every morning.

Take heart. I have overcome the world.

He always provides a way of escape.

When I could not do it on my own, the words of Life that were already rooted inside of me came springing up. They overflowed inside of me, filling every corner of my mind and giving me something stable to rest my head on.

***

I cannot really remember the exact day that I knew things were starting to get better. There was not a specific moment when the weight was completely lifted off my shoulders or the pain was no longer unbearable. There was not one special prayer or church service or altar call that changed everything.

All I can tell you is that little by little, as the word of God continued to infiltrate every part of my brokenness, it was easier to put one foot in front of the other. Little by little, I cried less and laughed more. Little by little, one day at a time, my heart was healed.

The darkness was lifted, and when it was, I saw Him more clearly than I ever had before.

I saw that there is no pain or suffering so deep that His love will not meet you there.

I saw that His goodness is an anchor that will sustain you in every situation in life.

I saw how He held me in my pain and collected every tear that I cried. And when I thought that the pain was destroying me, He was indeed rescuing me. Every single day. Refusing to let me fall.

Loving me. Holding me. Saving me. Over and over and over again.

***

Six years ago, it hurt to breathe.

Six years ago, I did not want to wake up in the morning.

But today, I have peace. Today, joy is the undercurrent of my heart.

And to whoever out there needs to hear this – you are going to be okay, too.

I know it feels impossible. I know that you cannot imagine a day where the hurt does not overtake you or when your heart is not broken. The day when hopelessness no longer makes your chest tighten or makes you feel sick to your stomach.

But I promise, there will be a day when you look back on this moment of your life and feel nothing but waves of deep gratitude and appreciation for the way that Christ in His unchanging and never ending love picked you up and set your feet back on solid ground.

Please hear me. Whatever your current situation is, however helpless it may seem, God is near to you. He is making a way where there does not seem to be a way. He is faithful to rescue and deliver and save and love. Your mountains are powerless before Him.

Hang in there, friend. Help is on the way.

And while things may not change immediately, and you might have to sit with the pain for a little while longer, please know that Jesus loves you so dearly and sits with you right in the middle of it all. And He alone satisfies every need. He binds up every wound. He pours wells of living water into your thirsty and broken soul. He is your dwelling place. He is your peace.

He holds you, sings over you, weeps with you, rejoices in you, and sustains you in the midst of it all.

Hold on to the promise that your Good Shepherd will ensure your safe return.

And know that the day is coming when you will laugh again, love again, smile again, be free again.

I know all too well that sometimes the pain can be so deep. But oh my friend, His love runs deeper.

Cling to it with me.

On Being A Pro-Life Feminist

Like many Christian girls, I was raised to believe that the feminist movement was wrong.

Feminism was portrayed to me as a way for liberal, non-Christian women to hate men and praise abortions. Feminists were said to be women who don’t understand God’s natural order, who refuse to accept patriarchy as God’s sovereign design for humanity – nothing more than a group of non-submissive women who don’t know their limitations or how to stay in their “place” within their families and within society.

And so I didn’t identify as a feminist. I didn’t want to be “one of those” women. The ones who didn’t fall in line and do all the right things. I wanted to be a good Christian girl.

But there was a problem.

From a young age, I couldn’t make peace with how I saw women silenced, controlled, abused. Unable to think independently or make important decisions for themselves. And in the church, told they had no leadership abilities, couldn’t work in ministry, couldn’t teach men.

It didn’t make sense to me. I felt at war with my faith and with my personal convictions regarding a woman’s purpose. My own religion made me feel limited and small, made it seem as if my dreams were my own, not from God.

And for awhile, I lived my life guarding my heart from the Lord. Not trusting Him fully because I didn’t believe that I was as valued by Him as a woman. Believing that I had to choose between being a Proverbs 31 woman or living out the dreams that were like a fire inside of me. Frustrated that the things that I felt like I was born to do seemingly contradicted what I was told was Biblical womanhood.

But as I got older, I knew that I couldn’t continue serving God this way. I couldn’t keep pretending that I was free, that I felt valued, when the truth was that I didn’t think God treasured me as much as He did the men.

So I went on my own search for the truth. It wasn’t enough anymore for me to know that I was included in the people He died for. I needed to know specifically how He regarded me as a female. What was God’s heart for me? What did He have to say about how women are treated, the abuse that women experience while it’s being justified by scripture?

“Lord, let me see the truth”, I prayed.

***

As I read the Gospels over and over again, one thing was evident – these women loved Jesus. They didn’t just enjoy His company, they adored Him. They were devoted to Him and desired His time. They were committed to serving Him and being near Him.

Why? Why would they feel that way about a man who supposedly didn’t value their place in this world?

Because never in their lives had they known a man like Jesus.

Jesus wasn’t scared of the cultural barriers and divides of that time. He wasn’t afraid of meeting women exactly where they were, looking them in the eye, and speaking directly to them.

He loved without pressuring, He taught without condescension. He didn’t patronize or belittle the women for their lack of knowledge. There was never shame or condemnation but rather an introduction to a better way. In a time and culture where women were invisible and unimportant, Jesus allowed them to participate in the redemptive work of the Kingdom and showed them the power of resurrection. He didn’t treat them differently from the men and desired greatly to heal and set them free.

Jesus showed women their worth while at the same time drawing them to a deeper place in Him, never viewing them as too weak and never limiting their purpose to serving the men, but rather offering them a seat at the very table they had always been excluded from.

His love was revolutionary and freeing.

Oh how this truth wrecked my heart. Jesus wasn’t bothered by man-made limitations and exclusive circles. He couldn’t be constrained by cultural norms. He was a Savior who thought that women were people too.

And this is who He still is. The same yesterday, today, and forever.

Jesus made me a feminist.

***

Many would be surprised to know that the first feminist movement began by Christian women as a response to slavery, child labor, domestic violence, and poverty. They desired to see women have the ability to live freely and support themselves and their children financially during times of social and economic upheaval. But beyond fighting for just the rights of women, these feminists believed that all human beings should be treated with dignity and honor and equality. They worked as ministers of reconciliation – founding social services agencies, rescuing slaves, and advocating for the very rights that I get to enjoy today.

But like all good things, the enemy has taken feminism and has twisted it into something it was never meant to be : a war between pro-life and pro-choice values.

I am a Christian. I am a feminist. And I am fiercely pro-life.

And there are many people who don’t think that I can identify as pro-life and as a feminist. They believe that my pro-life stance sets women back centuries, and therefore they aren’t interested in marching along side of me as we continue the fight for equality for all people. They are self-imposed gatekeepers who don’t think I belong in this redemptive movement.

They stand on the value of choice until that choice is different from their own.

That’s not pro-woman, that’s pro-agenda.

But there are also many people who call themselves pro-life but don’t seem to have a regard for all human life.

That’s not pro-life, that’s pro-birth.

***

I believe in the sanctity of life from conception to death. And I think it’s our job as Christians to protect the value and integrity of all human life – from the unborn to the refugees fleeing war and terror, from the impoverished families to the child stuck in the foster care system, from the homeless to the immigrant, from the wrongfully imprisoned to the guilty sitting on death row.

We shouldn’t identify as pro-life if all we want is for children to be born. We should also desire for all humans to have access to all the things that should be considered fundamental human rights – food, clothing, shelter, education, protection, and healthcare.

Oh how I want to see abortion ended in my generation. More than anything do I desire to see the day that babies are no longer extinguished before they take their first breath.

But for those of us who call ourselves pro-life, the banning of refugees should also break our hearts. The number of children in foster care should make us sick. We should hit our knees over sex-trafficking, homelessness, families torn apart, domestic violence, marital rape, war and torture, lack of appropriate healthcare for the disabled and the mentally ill.

Our pro-life stance should include concern for all human life. Even the lives that don’t look like ours. Even the lives that scare us.

***

I am a feminist because of my pro-life ethic, not in spite of it.

And so I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m too liberal for the conservatives and too conservative for the liberals. I’m somewhere in the middle, trying to find balance in the tension and hold to my conviction that the Kingdom of God transcends our two-party system and talking points and the politicizing of people’s suffering.

And I know I’m not the only one.

There are other women out there who believe that you can fight for women’s rights while at the same time advocating for the unborn. Women who understand that feminism means championing the dignity of all life, including life inside the womb.

We are women who aren’t afraid to use our collective and prophetic voices to speak to the end of abortion but also to defend the marginalized.

We are feet-washers and cheek-turners and advocates for the vulnerable.

We are pro-life feminists. And our marching orders have always been the same:

seek justice, love mercy, walk humbly

And no matter how hard they try, the gatekeepers can’t keep us out. We will continue to rise up and march together as ministers of reconciliation, like the women who came before us, protecting the value and integrity of all human life.

Confident Hope

Confident hope.

Those were the two words that the Lord gave me for 2016. Coming into the new year with more questions than answers, worn out and ready for change, I needed something to remind myself everyday that He was making a way even when I could not see it.

And the first few weeks of the new year proved this to be true. God showed up, opened doors, and I was able to step into a new season that was so desperately needed. I was relieved and thankful and excited.

Confident hope. Keep hoping, keep believing, keep trusting because no one who puts their hope in Him will be put to shame.

But now here we are on the last day of the year, and between those first few weeks in January and today, confident hope did not seem to always be the theme of my life. So much of 2016 did not go as I had originally planned. Most of my new year intentions have gone unchecked, and many of my goals for this year were replaced by a time-consuming path I was asked to follow that I never really wanted.

And it is easy for me to feel like I am failing at everything. To get frustrated with myself for not doing more.

So I found myself asking God why confident hope? Those words made sense in January when it really seemed like things were looking up but do not seem to make as much sense today when I look back and see how much did not work out this year. How much I did not accomplish and how much did not change.

***

We have become really good at putting too much pressure on ourselves going into a new year. We want so badly to be these better versions of ourselves in twelve months only to end up running ourselves ragged trying to accomplish the sometimes incredibly unrealistic goals that we have set for ourselves. “This is going to be my year” we say, and then when life inevitably happens, we end up feeling discouraged and disappointed and as if we are completely messing up our chances of becoming everything that we were meant to be.

But the truth is that God does not exist within our concept and understanding of time. He is not limited by a twelve-month box, and we are not left to our own devices on January 1st to figure out how to do everything we think we need to do within the calendar year to please Him and to move forward with our lives.

He is constantly moving and working. Doing a million little things that we cannot see. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Man made systems of tracking time do not hinder Him or change the plans that He has for our lives.

So you did not accomplish everything you wanted to this year?

That’s okay.

Every single day of your life is a day for grace. A day to start fresh, to begin again, to recognize that His mercies are new.

Every single day is a day for confident hope.

Not necessarily a hope that circumstances will suddenly change although God is more than able, but a hope that Jesus is as good as He said He is.

***

The reality is that 2017 might not be the “best year of your life.” Not by society’s standards anyway. Unexpected things will happen. You will probably experience some really high highs and some really low lows, and that’s okay.

Life is hard, and this next year will inevitably be filled with hard things. Difficult decisions. Painful experiences.

You might get to the end of the year and realize that you did not accomplish all of your goals. And it is tempting to fall into the trap of feeling like you did not do enough.

But friends, sometimes working, or going to school, or being a mother or a father or an aunt or daughter or sister or friend is more than enough.

Sometimes putting one foot in front of the other every day, no matter how slowly you feel you are moving, is more than enough.

Losing weight, running marathons, getting richer, advancing in your career, etc are not measuring sticks for the success of your year.

You’re allowed to rest and take care of yourself. To spend time with people you love and prioritize what really matters and maybe watch too many hours of Netflix one day.

And it’s okay to show yourself some grace. To be kind to yourself. And to let yourself and 2017 off the hook. Every single day does not have to be the best you have ever experienced.

***

I hope you have all had a few days to spend praying and reflecting and thinking about the new year. I pray that the Lord speaks to you individually and gives you your own words for the year, something that gives you a sure footing as we say goodbye to 2016.

I pray that you give yourself space to try, fail, and try again in 2017 without fear of getting off track or ruining everything because friend, you are not powerful enough to mess up God’s will for your life – all He needs is your surrendered heart and your “yes” to whatever He asks.

And may a confident hope in the Lord settle deeply into your heart. A hope that He turns beauty into ashes, that He brings life to dead things, that He can turn things to good and has ordered your steps.

In the doubts and pain and uncertainty and highs and lows of 2016, He was good.

And in the doubts and pain and uncertainty and highs and lows of 2017, He will still be good.

We have this hope as an anchor for our souls.

Jesus is as good as we ever hoped He was.

Uprooting the Tree

uprooting-the-tree

There’s a tree that has been standing since the beginning of this nation. Tall and proud, its branches stretch out far and wide to provide shade and covering to those that it loves. It looks enticing, like a beacon of freedom and the American dream. But the closer you get, the more you see that it was planted with seeds of supremacy, hatred, racism, misogyny, and sexism.

Generation after generation, people have resisted this tree. They have rejected its message that not all lives are sacred and worthy of protection and have refused to give in to an “us versus them” theology. They have managed to break off its branches and throw away spoiled fruit. They have held hands with the ones that this tree rejected and have done the good and the hard and the holy work of reconciliation. They have done everything in their power to cut it down. But its roots are long and deep and strong, deeply entangled in every facet of life and woven into the hearts of people.

So still it stands.

This is a tender time for our country. The division is real and palpable. I myself have never felt such conflicting emotions before. I have simultaneously breathed a sigh of relief that Hillary Clinton is not president while also grieving what a Donald Trump presidency could potentially mean for millions of people, some that I have come to sincerely love and care for during my career.

For some this election was an easy option, for others not so much. While many were delighted to see the possibility of having our first woman president, others were adamantly #NotWithHer. And while many were hopeful to see an end to the establishment and career politicians, others were #NeverTrump and spoke out against what they believe he stands for. Lifelong Republicans and Democrats crossed party lines for the first time because they weren’t satisfied with their options.

But what is clear is that the evangelical church came out in droves in support of Donald Trump, and one of my greatest fears is that the unwavering Christian support of our president-elect despite his fear-based rhetoric and marginalization of minority groups and sexual assault admission and allegations will have strong repercussions for the reputation of the American church for years to come.

Please hear my heart. I fully acknowledge the danger of Hillary Clinton’s policies and what they could have meant for the safety of all citizens and for all religious freedom. I do believe that she may have done more damage to our nation as a collective body. I understand wanting to vote for the other option simply to ensure that she didn’t win.

And I believe that a lot of people who voted for our president-elect did so based on their moral and religious convictions, believing that he was the best choice and identifying the Republican party as the Christian party.

I understand that not every person who voted for Donald Trump is a racist/misogynist/sexist/white supremacist. Many who voted for him are my very own dear friends and family. So I know personally that the generalizations about his supporters are false, ignorant, and unfair.

While some absolutely did, I know that not everyone who voted for Mr. Trump did so in support of bigotry.

But if you didn’t, now is the time to say that. Loudly.

Because the truth that cannot be denied is that Donald Trump ran a campaign based on fear and hatred and whether or not his strategy reflected his own heart, his words exposed the worst parts of humanity that have long existed but had remained secretive until they were emboldened by a powerful man.

And so we look back to this tree. The one that refuses to die. And we recognize that while our president-elect did not plant the tree, he watered it with his words and said nothing against it as it began to grow even stronger and show us its ugliest parts.

If you can’t seem to understand why others might feel afraid or nervous about the outcome of this election, then its possible that the tree has shaded you and protected you your whole life and the plans that have been promoted won’t directly affect you or your family.

The people who are nervous about a Donald Trump presidency aren’t just those who at this very moment are protesting in the streets and are easy to write off rather than listen to what they have to say. They are also your neighbors and your friends and your co-workers and the people you lead worship with on a Sunday morning.

And whether you feel that their fear and concern is real or justified doesn’t matter. You owe it to them to listen. To acknowledge their concern rather than laugh it off or reduce Mr. Trump’s rhetoric to “mean words” or say that they have been influenced by the biased media.

It is possible to say that you support a Donald Trump presidency and stand by the moral values that his party represents while at the same time rejecting and speaking out against the hate and the fear and the bigotry that his campaign has fostered as well as his admitted abuse of his privilege and power and money.

As the body of Christ we have to find that balance because now more than ever the church must stand up to protect the marginalized, vulnerable, and oppressed in our communities and champion the cause of racial reconciliation. There is so much work to be done.

We cannot rejoice that our candidate won and throw around words like “God’s sovereignty” and talk about God using Mr. Trump to turn this nation back around while at the same time staying silent when Hispanic elementary aged children are being told at school that their parents will be deported. Or when students are creating human walls and not allowing minority students to enter their own schools. Or when students are chanting “build that wall” in the middle of a school cafeteria. Or when Muslim women are having their hijabs ripped off in public.

(And while I know that Hillary Clinton supporters are also doing horrendous things this week, the church didn’t ask for her to be their president.)

The evangelical church has been asleep for far too long, but now is the time to come alive. The world is watching, waiting for our next move. Waiting to see us care more about people than we do about our stances. Waiting for us to care more about people than we do about certain policies. Waiting for us to protect the outcasts as much as we do our own rights. Waiting for us to want freedom and safety for others as much as we want it for ourselves.

We let our collective voice be heard loud and clear at the polls, but a hurting world is waiting for us to show that same commitment to the hard work of social justice and standing in the gap for our neighbors. They think they know who we are, but it’s time for us to let our lives prove that we can stand by our moral convictions while also pouring ourselves out for the least of these. For the ones who are scared that their families will be broken up. For the LGBTQ community who fears violence. For the Black community looking on stunned and afraid as the KKK has celebration rallies.

So how do we as the church find the balance between supporting our president-elect while also rejecting the undeniable growing movement of bigotry in our nation?

We honor the office of the presidency. We respect the man who will lead this nation and thank God that we live in a country where we have the right to voice our opinions and then see the peaceful transfer of power. We cover him in prayer and ask God to protect him and give him wise counsel and turn the course of his heart towards the ultimate plans of the Father.

And then we rise. As one body, forming a human shield around those who are marginalized and oppressed and vulnerable and scared. And we raise our collective prophetic voices, speaking hope and love and light. Laying ourselves down as bridges between others and the solid rock that is Jesus Christ. We speak up for the voiceless and defend those that the tree never would. And branch by branch we tear down systems of power that have stayed in place by crushing other people beneath them.

And we don’t stop until one day we realize we have uprooted the entire tree.

The Danger of a Single Story

the-danger-of-a-single-story

I was grieved this past week over the news of another police shooting of an unarmed black man. Another hashtag, another family burying a loved one, another senseless loss that could have and should have been avoided.

People are always quick to pick a side in these situations, speaking out in anger, pain, fear, and defense. The truth is that no one will ever know exactly what happened that horrible day except for the officers on the scene. It’s a heart-breaking and confusing mess. We can go back and forth and argue about details all day long, but I think the most important one is this:

The officer who shot Terence Crutcher said that she had never felt so scared in her entire life.

The man was unarmed, and she was surrounded by other cops- yet she still had never felt as scared as she did in that moment.

I don’t want to speculate that I understand what it’s like to be a police officer and to consistently put myself in harm’s way day after day. I don’t want to be a part of the feeding frenzy and yell that all officers are malicious and racist. I’m also not naive enough to believe that this is a simple issue with simple answers.

I believe that her fear was real. I believe that she truly felt afraid and felt the need to protect herself and her fellow officers.

But why did she feel so afraid?

While the issue of police brutality and unarmed black men being killed at alarming rates is complex, there is a single-story narrative at play here, and it’s costing people their lives.

Black men are violent. Black men are dangerous. Black men are going to harm you.

It’s the danger of a single story.

Where instead of being able to look at people as individuals, we are affected by what we have been conditioned to believe about different races and therefore project stereotypes onto every person we meet. The singular story strips people of their individuality and makes it okay for us to refuse to treat them with dignity and respect.

The problem is that there is no one-size-fits-all narrative for people’s lives. Their stories, needs, experiences, highs, and lows are all different and unique and special. But having been told a single story our entire lives breeds fear, cynicism, and prejudice and makes it easier to say “he deserved it” rather than feel compassion and empathy for a man executed in the street and his family that now has to figure out their new normal.

***

I do not believe that most people are outright racists. The majority of people that I know would consider it absurd to think that one person is better than another because of skin color. We live in multi-cultural communities and go to multi-cultural churches and schools. We have friends of every race and invite people who don’t look like us into our homes and around our dinner tables.

But that does not mean that we have not been affected by systemic racism and the way that certain races have been portrayed to us our entire lives.

Let me give the ladies an example. If you are leaving a store at night and see two men, one white and one black, in the parking lot, which man makes you hold your purse closer to you? Which man causes you to walk a little faster, makes you wish you had parked closer?

If your initial instinct is to fear the black man more than the white man, then you have been affected by systemic racism. Because something along the way told you to believe that the black man was more dangerous. You saw it in movies and through media and news reports your entire life and therefore have preconceived ideas about the black community without even realizing it.  (This does not apply if you or someone close to you has been the personal victim of a crime by a certain race. Trauma/personal experiences will always affect our belief system more than anything else. And in that situation, the fear is valid and warranted and should be handled with care.)

Systemic racism is in the foundation of every single area of our society and has molded our thinking without asking our permission by telling us a single story narrative and treating some with respect and others with disdain.

It’s not okay that black men are described as “thugs” while white men are “loners.”

It’s not okay that we are told of a black man’s past in order to justify his execution while we are told of a white man’s potential in order to justify his lenient sentence.

We can be genuinely kindhearted, loving people and yet still have beliefs and prejudices deeply rooted in our hearts from years of being conditioned to believe a certain narrative, and we have to be willing to acknowledge that. It does us no good to dig our heels in defensively, determined to prove that we are not racists and have not been affected by systemic racism. Because nothing will change until we actually believe that something needs to change.

We have to be willing to examine our hearts and deal with what we find, uprooting seeds of prejudice and racism rather than throwing more dirt on them by saying “but I have black friends.”

***

The danger of a single story doesn’t just apply to the racial problems in our country. We can see it played out in many different hot-topic issues right now.

All black men are violent.

All police officers are racists.

All refugees are terrorists.

All immigrants are criminals.

All welfare recipients are lazy.

Everywhere we look we can see how we are being fed one idea about a group of people which causes us to unfairly judge and to refuse to offer support and care to people who are genuinely in need.

But friends, please beware the singular story being presented to you. It’s never that simple. Every single person you meet is unique and deserves to be treated humanely.

It’s easy for us to look back in history and imagine who we would have been during social justice movements. But the truth is that we don’t have to just imagine that anymore because right now, we have a chance to answer that question everyday in the way that we live our lives. In a world full of chaos, pain, and oppression, who are we going to be?

The fear-mongers, the cynics, the ones who refuse to step outside of our personal boxes and look people in the eye and see them for who they really are?

Or are we going to be the advocates, the friends, the ones who broker peace.

People are in pain. The vulnerable are being oppressed. Lives are enslaved. And everyday through our choices, friendships, mindsets, thoughts, and actions, our lives are answering the age-old question of “who is my neighbor?”

Are we letting single-story narratives taint how we view others, or are we wading through the bias and prejudice in order to see someone the way that Christ sees them? Because the cross of Jesus demands a different kind of response from us. It demands that we always respond with love. And real love is never passive and silent, but rather it is active and fights back, not against people but against systems of oppression and injustice.

So let’s be people who are committed to examining our hearts, having hard conversations, and uprooting hidden seeds of prejudice that are secretly affecting our thoughts about others.

Let’s be people who are more outraged by systemic oppression than we are by athletes not standing for the national anthem.

Let’s be ministers of reconciliation in every sphere of life, building bridges for others to see the hope and mercy and love of Christ.

Let’s be people who refuse to dehumanize and demean others.

Let’s be people who look people in the eye and see them for who they truly are, people that Christ died on the cross for.

And may we always always always be people who reject the single-story narrative and truly listen to the pain and heartache of others.

Because just because someone else’s personal truth isn’t yours doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

What Do You Do When Everyone’s Hurting?

sad

I don’t know about you, but I have spent the past few days feeling incredibly sad and angry at the violence this world has experienced lately. Every time I thought that I was okay, another wave of sadness would slam into me, leaving me unsteady and desperately trying to grab onto hope. I have read countless story after story of what people are going through – eyewitness accounts from the club in Orlando and from a meet and greet where a young artist was gunned down as well as numerous stories of the sheer terror that people are experiencing all around the world right now.

And I’m tired. And a little afraid. And I feel useless.

It’s hard to know that there are so many suffering people in the world that I can’t do anything for. To know that every single moment of every single day someone, somewhere is in pain. The entire world is hurting, and I can’t help them.

It’s so easy to become overwhelmed with what we can’t do when it comes to social justice issues. They are too vast and wide and it’s absolutely impossible for any one of us to affect every single area that needs change. So sometimes we just look away and feel afraid and decide that our tiny lives can’t make a difference anyway.

And that’s exactly how the enemy wants us to feel. Because fear will shut you down quicker than any other emotion. Fear is all-consuming and will cause you to clench your fists and live a closed-off life. It makes us turn blind eyes to the suffering and the needs of real people because it’s easier to pretend those things don’t exist than it is to face the reality of the world we live in today with courage and a resolve to spend our lives trying to make other people’s better.

Fear destroys. It silences. It renders us ineffective and immobile.

Oh but Perfect Love casts out fear. And that love is Jesus Christ, and He will always have the last word.

So what do you do when the entire world is hurting? You look to Christ. You cling to His promise and His hope. You let your heart completely break for the things that break His, knowing that this is how we were created to live our lives as believers. Broken for the state of the world and acting as ministers of reconciliation, spending our days building bridges for others to get to Christ. We let ourselves feel and grieve and mourn and then we use those God-given emotions as catalysts that cause us to act and move and see justice, peace, healing, and freedom brought to this world.

Instead of being overwhelmed with what you can’t do, start focusing on what you can do and what you were made to do. It’s easy to look at terror in the world on a grand scale and then brush it away because there’s nothing you can do about it. But the truth is that there are people in your everyday life who are struggling and hurting. People who need you to show up and love them well. People who need you to grab their hands and sit with them in their pain. People who need you to make them a meal. People who need you to listen to their stories and validate their feelings and then make the boundless love of Christ known to them.

At work, in grocery stores, at church, next door – the pain is endless. We can’t be the ones who shrink away in fear. We must be the ones who rise together in love. We must be the bridge-builders. We must be the ones who know how to hit our knees and cry out for justice and mercy and then get up and do something. We must be the ones who are less worried about defending God than we are about representing Him.

There’s pain everywhere we go, friends. So we must be the ones who create space for love to break through the darkness.

And even when it’s hard or we don’t understand or we are scared, we must be the ones who shine on.

They Raised Me Brave

THEY RAISED ME BRAVE

Today is my parents’ 34th wedding anniversary. As a kid, it never crosses your mind that life might be hard for your parents. You watch them work and take care of you without fully understanding what it takes to build a life together. You don’t recognize the determination, the strength, the commitment, and the faithfulness it takes to weather every storm together and raise a family. You can’t comprehend the incredible feat it is to stay together when it feels easier to part ways.

For 34 years, my parents have loved one another and loved their family, waking up every single morning and putting everyone else before themselves. For 12,410 days, they have pushed aside their own needs and wants and have selflessly served their God and each other. Day after day, decision after decision, they have always ensured that Jesus Christ was their foundation and their sure-footing. They have endured trial after trial and heartache after heartache but were always able move forward, secure in their trust in their God. Never giving up. Never falling away. Just one foot in front of the other, praising God all the way through.

Faithful.

Loving.

Giving.

Steady.

They have never been in the spotlight, but the hardest and holiest work rarely is. That’s the beauty of their life together. Every conversation about the Lord with friends, every name on my mother’s prayer board in her room, every selfless decision, every tear shed for their family, every moment of heart-wrenching worship, every generous gift, every sacrifice has been done without the need for recognition and applause. Not to be seen or noticed, they have given their lives in service to God and to others. They said yes to the Lord and never looked back.

My parents have learned the art of simple obedience. They trust that God never asked us to be spectacular but rather has asked us to be faithful, and there are no two people more faithful than they are.

Their names may never be known worldwide, but they will forever be engraved into the foundation of our family for generations to come. They are pillars. Unparalleled in their devotion to God and their everyday decision to love Him and love His people.

So how do you measure the impact of a person’s life when what they gave you was priceless? How do you adequately tell them thank you for showing you Jesus and teaching you everything you needed to know about faith, commitment, family, and work ethic by the simple eloquence of their example?

My parents were steadfast when other people would have been faithless. They were brave when other people would have cowered in fear.

And for them, brave meant surrendering to God’s perfect will, even when it didn’t make sense.

Brave meant sacrificing their own personal dreams to make sure that their children’s needs were met.

Brave meant staying rooted in one place after all the extended family moved away so that their children had stability in their lives, even when it left them feeling isolated and alone.

Brave meant working graveyards and being sleep deprived for years so that a parent was always home.

Brave meant worshipping God at all times, no matter what, unconditionally.

Brave meant holding hands and praying together every morning and every evening regardless of how they were feeling.

How do I thank them for raising me to be brave too?

For showing me that Jesus Christ is the only solid foundation and to Him alone is where my loyalty should go. For teaching me that I am strong and capable and smart. For never pushing stereotypical roles on me and celebrating where I am in life. For reminding me that it’s okay for me to speak my truth and stand my ground. For letting me know that it is okay to stand on the side of justice, even if you are standing alone.

How do I explain what was rooted in my heart after seeing my father stand on our roof, assess the damage from a hurricane, and then lift his hands and tell God that he would worship Him anyway. Or by going shopping with my mother for clothes for a student at her job that was going through a hard time. Or by being a little girl and helping my father fill out money orders for the organizations that he supported every single month (and still supports today). Or by the countless evening walks with my mother talking about life. Or by seeing them swallow their pride and walk to the altar together when they have needed prayer.

It’s not possible. All I know is that for the rest of my life, I will live in gratitude for how they raised me, shaped me, and loved me.

So happy anniversary, mom and dad. Every single aspect of your lives points people to Jesus. To His hope and His mercy and His love. No one who has had the gift of knowing you has been untouched by your character, integrity, love, and faithfulness to God and to one another.

Thank you for loving your family well. Thank you for the gift of being raised in a Christian home. Thank you for this life.

Your legacy will be that of two people who lived to know Him and to make Him known. Two people who always managed to do the next right thing until it carried them all the way home.

The Pink Float

the pink float

I found myself at a place last year where everyone around me was asking “Are you okay?” every time that they saw me. That’s when I knew I needed a break. The truth was that I wasn’t okay. I was burnt out. So physically and mentally exhausted that I could no longer conceal how I was really doing, but my desire to appear strong and capable was keeping me from doing what I needed to do to take care of myself.

I never was very good at self-care. I didn’t know how to stop and think about myself because good Christians only ever think about other people right? I was a pro at pushing aside my feelings and not taking care of my own heart. But being on the verge of a mental breakdown will cause you to do abnormal things, so I decided to take my own sabbatical in Cabin # 10.

***

It was raining when I arrived at my cabin. I rushed to unpack my car and get inside. I didn’t bring much with me because I was planning to do nothing more than fast and pray for two days and two nights. A cooler with water, a pillow and blanket, clothes, and of course my bible and a journal were all that I felt was needed. I had a plan to do nothing but seek God and figure out what was going on with me. Why was I so frustrated and tired? Why did I feel separated from God? I wanted answers, and I was determined not to leave that place without getting them.

My cabin was surprisingly comfortable and cozy. The rain falling outside provided the perfect backdrop for a night of prayer. All the lights were turned off, worship music was softly playing, and I was focused on getting to the root of my issues. I just knew that this night would be a game-changer for me. I knew that I would be back to my old self in no time. But what I didn’t expect was to not feel God with me. I didn’t expect that it would seem as if I was talking to absolutely nobody. Part of me wanted to press-through anyway, stay up all night if I had to, while the rest of me wanted to turn on the TV. I fell asleep before I could make a decision.

I woke up the next morning and was immediately angry at myself for not being vigilant in prayer. You wasted a whole night I thought to myself. But I noticed immediately that I already felt better than I did when I arrived. How could that be? All I had done so far was rest. Well, today will be the day I said. Today I will seek God continuously. Today I will pray until something changes. Fast and pray, fast and pray.

The July heat had other plans. I tried sitting outside at the lake at first because I have always been someone who feels God closer when in nature. I have also always been someone who sweats profusely. After a couple of sweat drops smeared the ink in my bible, I couldn’t look down anymore. So I looked up. And what I saw was beautiful.

I’m trying too hard I thought. I’m focusing so much on what I feel that I need from God and how I feel He is going to show up that I’m missing out on noticing the ways He is trying to show me His greatness, His sovereignty. So I sat there and let myself take it all in. Let myself gaze upon the wonder of His creation, reminding myself that the same God who pieced this world together is the God who holds my world in His hands.

***

I convinced myself to go for a swim in the pool at the KOA. Just for a little bit I said. Then, it’s back to the cabin for the rest of the evening for more intercession. As I was getting ready to get in the pool, a sweet lady who was getting out offered to let me use her pink pool float. She gushed about how incredible it was and said it was the perfect way to relax. I had the pool all to myself and took her up on her offer. As I laid there, thinking about how the woman was right, I heard these words so clearly in my spirit:

“You took your eyes off of me.”

My eyes shot open. God had just given me the answer I had been looking for.

It hurt to hear, but it was the truth. I took my eyes of Christ. Somewhere along the way I had lost my complete trust. For over a year, anyone who prayed for me always said that God needed me to trust Him more, and it started to make me angry. GOD HOW CAN I POSSIBLY TRUST YOU ANY MORE. LOOK AT MY LIFE. I didn’t understand what I could possibly do to trust Him more. It didn’t seem like there could be a deeper level of trust. But in a moment while floating in a swimming pool, the Lord showed me that my trust had faltered. My heart had started to believe the lie that maybe God really didn’t love me as much as everyone else. Maybe I really had disappointed Him and caused Him to forget about me. Maybe I really had messed up too much and would never have the things I dreamed about.

There was bitterness and hurt and anger in my heart that was causing me to push Him away. I started comparing myself to the people around me and wondered where He was, why He wasn’t answering my prayers, what was wrong with me that my life looked so different. And it caused me to stumble, because even just a quick glance at someone else’s path takes your eyes off of Jesus and can only end badly.

For four hours, God revealed things to me about the state of my heart that I was unaware of. He showed me where I was holding on to old hurts, what I needed to let go of, and how to move forward. I talked to Him about my dreams, and in return, He birthed new dreams in my heart. Things I had never thought about, or really, never thought that I was good enough for.

That generous and kind woman still has no idea that her simple gesture made a way for me to hear from God that day. Those four hours on a pink pool float gave me the peace and strength I needed to go home and make it through six more months of uncertainty.

***

There are so many things that happen in life that can cause us to take our eyes off Christ. For me, it was a leap of faith two years earlier that just didn’t seem to be working out the way that I had hoped it would. What people never tell you about a leap of faith is that jumping in isn’t usually the hardest part. It can be easy and exciting to do something scary. Your emotions are high and you just know God is going to do something amazing. But one day you wake up and realize that weeks and months have turned into years and you are still waiting. Still trying to believe. Still trying to hope.

No, moving forward isn’t always the hard part. The hard part is when you have to keep moving forward when it doesn’t make sense. When life seems to have only gotten harder and more complicated. Trying not to question whether or not you really heard from God and living in peace that you made the right choice. Determining to not look back at what you left behind but to let the things of this world grow dim as you fix your gaze on Christ.

I know there are people reading this who are in that very place right now. Every day you are wondering where God is in this seemingly mess of a life. Did you take a wrong step, did you cause Him to take His hand off your life? You find yourself consistently apologizing for your mistakes, somehow believing that God has left you to fend for yourself because of your past.

Can I encourage you today, friends? Just breathe. Put your hand on your heart. If it’s still beating that means you still have purpose. That God is still near and working and moving. Every single day in ways that we could never imagine, He is fighting for us. Turn your eyes back upon Jesus. Let your heart find peace and rest in knowing that He is good and gracious and FOR YOU.

He hasn’t turned away, He hasn’t forgotten you, He isn’t angry or disappointed in you. He loves you. He cares about what you care about. He has a plan, and He truly can be trusted completely.

Just believe.

And when it’s hard, believe anyway. Keep moving forward. One foot in front of the other. You don’t have to see the full picture. You don’t have to understand any of it. Just do the next right thing, and rest in His promise.

Take care of your heart loves. And give yourself a break when you need it.

You never know what God can do with a simple pink float.

29 Things I Believe at 29

29 Things I Believe at 29 2

I turned 29 last week, and the gift of getting older has never been more real to me. The days seemed to go by slowly but the years have gone by fast and one day I woke up and realized that I have lived an entire life full of joy, pain, unique stories, love, and heartache and the grace of God is woven through my life like a thread connecting every piece and creating something amazing. I’m excited for the season of life I’m in. The Lord has been faithful, and I’m starting to see things line up and create a way for me to move into different dreams in the future.

It’s funny because just a few years ago I never would have thought that I could be so content at this age without having achieved the stereotypical grand milestones of adulthood and life and the supposed signs of God’s blessings and rewards. I have gone through the majority of my twenties as a single girl and there’s no end in sight, yet I am absolutely thankful that this has been my journey and would not trade it for anything in the world. My twenties have felt like a bit of a battleground at times, and because of different situations and places I found myself in, I was forced to re-assess everything that I believed about God because my belief system up to that point just wasn’t working anymore.  So I have spent the last few years fighting for my truth, going on my own journey of re-discovering who God is and what I believe about Him. I am incredibly grateful to have had so many years of just me and Jesus because without them, I don’t think I would be at the place where I am today spiritually and emotionally.

While my twenties haven’t given me my husband, children, or even a dream job or a whole other host of material things, they have given me me. I know who I am. I know what I believe and who I believe in. I look in the mirror and don’t always recognize the girl with the tired eyes and fluctuating weight and random gray hairs, but I do know that I walk a little taller, hold my head a little higher, love life deeper, and genuinely like the person that I have become. I found my truth.

So I want to share that truth with you, the 29 most valuable things I have discovered about God, faith, and life in general that have helped me grow deeper in my relationship with the Lord and with myself. And hopefully somewhere in here you can find something sturdy to hang onto yourself when times are hard and you are unsure and you need the hope that only truth can bring.

1. I believe that Jesus loves me. I know this seems so simple, but I had trouble believing in His love and being confident in His love for a very long time. Everything changed when I grasped that I am loved always, no matter what. That He doesn’t get angry and disappointed. Learning to live my life from a place of being loved rather than a place of trying to earn love has changed everything.

2. I believe that no one who puts their hope in Him will be put to shame.

3. I believe that loving God and loving people is the only way to have a truly successful life.

4. I believe that true freedom is born out of a place of thinking that you have lost everything only to realize that all you really need can never be lost.

5. I believe that you should never shrink yourself down in order to please others. Some people can’t handle who you are meant to be. They like the idea of you but don’t truly know who you are. It’s okay to move forward without them. You have the right to change and grow without apology.

6. I believe that it is impossible to focus on what matters when we spend all of our time and money on things that don’t. 

7. I believe that we do not serve an American God. Unless the good news that we are preaching is good news for everyone, it isn’t good news for anyone.

8. I believe that the pursuit of signs and wonders has become one of the most dangerous idols of the Church. We don’t have to chase after grand experiences and movements of God. Jesus Christ is THE great sign and wonder, and we can live in fellowship and intimacy with Him every single day. Every day of our lives is a miracle.

9. I believe that even one quick side glance at someone else’s life takes your focus off of Jesus. Keep your eyes forward and look to Him always.

10. I believe that marriage is not the ultimate goal nor is it a pre-requisite to living out your calling.

11. I believe that the greatest way for the enemy to stop us is to silence us.

12. I believe that the prosperity message of the Gospel is simply this – to live is Christ, to die is gain.

13. I believe that another term for “radical faith” is simply obedience. And you can always trust that God will not waste your obedience and faithfulness to Him.

14. I believe that the greatest prophetic voice in your life is you speaking the word of God over yourself.

15. I believe that if we truly want to see revival, we have to start caring about the things God cares about in the way He cares about them.

16. I believe that grace can take you places that hard work can’t.

17. I believe that having a microphone, pulpit, or title does not make you a leader. A true leader is someone who lives a life that can be followed because it always points people to Christ.

18. I believe that it’s okay to fall in love with your life even when it doesn’t make sense to other people. You never owe someone an explanation for what God is doing in your life.

19. I believe that leaders/disciples/Christ followers were never given authority over people. We have been given authority over the things that enslave people. Spiritual abuse happens when people confuse the two.

20. I believe that conversations about justice have to start at the cross of Jesus. When we find ourselves with stones in our hands rather than the ones who are drawing lines in the sand, we have missed our purpose.

21. I believe that there are some things you should only tell a loving God and a loving dog. It’s okay to let pieces of yourself be sacred.

22. I believe that feminism simply means that women are people too.

23. I believe that there is a difference between compassion and pity. Always be compassionate.

24. I believe that unhealed childhood pain is at the root of all destructive adult behaviors. Be gentle with people. There isn’t a person on earth you wouldn’t love if you knew their whole story.

25. I believe that you can’t rest in the love of Christ when you are busy entertaining lies from the enemy all day long.

26. I believe that one of the greatest signs of spiritual maturity is being able to genuinely rejoice with others when they get the very things you are praying for.

27. I believe that self-care is not selfish. You can’t pour from an empty well. Take time to be refreshed and refilled with life in His presence so that you can be life-giving to others.

28. I believe that you are not your gift. Too many people allow their identity to become entangled in their talent, and their giftings eventually destroy them. Jesus Christ is the only solid foundation.

29. I believe that all you have to do is get to Jesus. For any situation in life, you will always find self-help books or lists and strategies for how to make things better. But the truth is that it isn’t always your responsibility to fix things. Sometimes all you need to do is get to Jesus. Whatever that looks like for you and whatever it takes. Just get to Jesus.

 

I’m thankful for a faithful Father who has given me exactly what He knew I needed – time. I have been given the rare gift of having time to wrestle and struggle and fight and rest and learn and grow. To come into my own and truly discover who I am in Him and what He has called me to do. I had the opportunity to throw out everything I had been taught and start all over, letting the Holy Spirit be my teacher and my guide. It wasn’t all pretty, but it was all worth it. I wouldn’t trade the truth I know and the way it has set me free for anything else in this life. And because He has been so gracious to me, I am committed to living my life in such a way that God is so pleased that He gave me life. Not because of anything I’m doing for the Kingdom but simply because I live every single day in complete gratitude that He chose to create me and love me and heal me and set me free.

I only have one more year left in my twenties, and I plan to enjoy every single moment. So here’s to you 29 – it’s going to be a good one :)

About
I'm a daughter, sister, aunt, friend, Jesus Feminist, and social justice wanna-be. I believe in women finding their freedom and living out their callings without permission or apology.
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