We all have a story.
We all have a past that is full of joy, hurt, sin, triumph, and brokenness. Our stories define who we are today, they shape our personalities and our characters, and they guide us down different paths. I’ve had the privilege of listening to a lot of stories this year. (It’s one of the perks of the job.) Some bold and glorious, and some destructive and heartbreaking. I’ve also had the privilege of sharing my own story – filled with it’s own up’s and down’s.
This year I met a girl in South Africa who watched her mom commit suicide when she was a toddler, who has scars all over of her arms from the deep cuts of razor blades, and even more scars on her heart from years of selling her body in prostitution. Continue reading “Desperate”
I have always loved the classic hymn, It Is Well With My Soul. It’s a beautiful [and famous] song that’s sung in most Christian churches around the globe. It’s filled with lyrics that speak of surrender, peace, and complete trust in a God Who is good and sovereign. One verse says, “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well, it is well with my soul.”
What I didn’t know is that the author of this song – Horatio Spafford – wrote this hymn nearly a week or so after his wife and four daughters set sail on a luxury steam liner to Paris for holiday in 1873. While he stayed behind to finish up some last minute work, the rest of his family boarded the ship. After a short time at sea, their steam liner was rammed by a British iron sailing ship and had sunk in the middle of the ocean. Horatio’s wife was rescued after being found unconscious – but his four daughters drowned and were killed. Once Horatio got word from his wife about the tragedy via telegram, he boarded a boat to reunite with her. As he sailed across the exact spot where the steam liner sank (and where his daughters were killed) – he penned the words to It Is Well With My Soul.
Hectic. The tragedy that Horatio faced while writing the lyrics to this song gives it an entirely new and significant meaning. Every time I listen to the lyrics play over my iPhone speakers – I am greatly challenged by this man’s faith, and I am greatly confronted with the lack of my own.
Continue reading “Is It Well With My Soul?”
“When something becomes so important to you that it drives your behavior and commands your emotions, you are worshipping it.” – J.D. Greear
“Please hear me, Girl: The world has enough women who know how to do their hair. It needs women who know how to do hard and holy things.” – Ann Voskamp
I’ve been meaning to write you this letter, but it’s taken me some time to woman up about it. I can honestly say that we’ve been through a lot together – the good, the bad, and the ugly. I remember when we first started spending time together back when I was fresh out of my adolescent years. You were there when I first entered high school – still naïve to the party scene but determined to fit in. You were there when I fell in love and got engaged to my fiancé – and you were there several months later when we broke up and parted ways. You were there when I graduated from UCF with my bachelors degree in Sports and Fitness – ready to take on the fitness industry with zeal. And you were there to celebrate with me – every single year on my birthday (making sure that no one ever forgot). So thank you. Continue reading “Facebook, I’m Breaking Up With You”
2 + 2 equals 4… but so does 3 + 1…
Just because someone may do things a little bit differently than you, doesn’t mean they are doing it wrong. This has taken me years to understand, and I think I’m just beginning to scratch the surface of what this truth actually means.
I used to want to fit in for such a long time. Before I became a Christian, I would buy the right clothes from the right stores, wear the right hairstyles, and pierce the right body parts. I’d listen to all the top hits on Y100.7, speak the American slang, and dive deep into the popular teen magazines. I did whatever it took to blend in with the cool kids and be “one of them.”
Funny thing is… when I became a Christian, that didn’t stop. I still was desperate to fit in. I exchanged my “American slang” for “Christianese,” and I swapped out my Brittany Spears CD’s for Bethel Worship Music. I still tried to wear the right clothes – you know, nothing to “skimpy” but also nothing to “amish,” and I even tried to wear a purity ring. (Which lasted a whole five seconds, by the way.) My first few years of going to a new church and trying to figure out how to be a “good normal Christian” was incredibly intimidating. I still didn’t feel like I fit in even after I received my salvation card—not to mention, I was super unhappy because I wasn’t free to be myself. Continue reading “Being You-er Than You”
We’ve all experienced it at least once in our lives.
That embarrassing moment you just can’t seem to shake out of your mind. Maybe it was that moment when you were spending quality time with friends, telling them a fantastic joke or sharing an impressive story—when all of a sudden someone interrupts you and points out the large piece of “something green” stuck in your teeth. Uhhh, embarrassing. How long was it there for? Who noticed? Awkward…
Or maybe it was when you were in 3rd grade and you took a quick bathroom break, only to return to your classroom unaware that part of your uniform skirt was stuck in the waistband of your Minnie Mouse underpants. It happens, believe me… it happens.
We’ve all felt it. Shame. Embarrassment. Fear. Rejection. Continue reading “Naked and Afraid”
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.” – C.S. Lewis
The word “love”—along with it’s many definitions—is splattered all over the pages of the bible. You won’t have to look very hard to discover that love is patient and kind or sacrificial and selfless. But this week, the Lord has been teaching me about another way to define love that isn’t spelled out as clearly in the scriptures.
Love is… dirty.
And just to be clear, I’m not talking about the bow-chicka-wow-wow kind of love…but nice try.
This kind of love is messy and uncomfortable. It inconveniences you and it requires you to take risks. It’s a love that suffers, that gives, and that exhausts you day after day. It’s hard and time consuming—and it will most definitely cost you something. It’s also important to note that this kind of love isn’t about you—it’s about them. And to be honest, when I see opportunities to give and receive this kind of love—I prefer to yell “fire” and run as fast as I can in the opposite direction. Continue reading “Let’s Get Dirty”
There’s a question thats been floating around in my head these past few days…
It’s been driving me crazy, and it demanded an answer.
Why are Christians so shocked when a fellow sinner… sins? I mean, think about it. Say you’re sitting in church, and the guy next to you reeks of weed and bad life decisions. Or say you overheard your bible study friend admit to fantasizing about a guy she saw on her soap opera. I’d bet 9 times out of 10 you’d avoid eye contact and silently intervene in prayer for the person’s salvation. But what if that person was already saved? What if they loved the Lord? How would you feel then? Shocked? Disappointed? Angry? Continue reading “Shockproofing Sin: One F-Bomb at a Time”
I have always struggled to believe in coincidences.
When I was growing up, I found it easier to believe in a perfectly orchestrated world where everything happened for a reason (even when I didn’t understand why) and nothing happened by chance. Over the years, trusting in a faithful and sovereign and loving God has made that small and innocent belief flourish into a confident hope and expectation.
But every now and then, I forget. I forget who God is, and I forget that He’s ultimately in control. Sometimes, I even forget how deeply and intimately He loves me. And when I forget, the Lord is always gracious to remind me… Continue reading “Late Nights, Drunk Girls, and Fuzzy Blankets”
Have you ever had one of those days when everything seems to go wrong?
Maybe you caught every single red light while running late to a meeting, maybe a bottle of your favorite red nail polish spilled all over your white carpet, or maybe you were planning on buying groceries—but the amount of money left in your bank account said, “Ha ha, not today friend, you’re on your own…”
Yeah. Those days are the worst.
It’s when every little thing seems to go wrong. It’s when stuff breaks, things get lost, and there seems to be no justifiable reason as to why. It’s when the quality of our character and the quality of our faith get tested the most, and it’s in those split seconds when you truly discover where your hope and your peace lie. And let me tell you… I am the queen of messing those moments up. Continue reading “When a “Good Christian Girl” Has a Bad Day”
Did you know that missions trips have a lot in common with surprise birthday parties?
Yeah, me neither. Until now.
Think about it. Sometimes the events of the day catch you totally off-guard, sometimes you experience anxiety, excitement, and fear all at the same time, sometimes you stay up until the wee hours of the night enjoying great conversations with great friends, and sometimes you just can’t wait for everyone to leave so you can be alone to sleep.
Oh, and sometimes there’s cake.
I just got back from my trip to Uganda, and it was totally like a surprise birthday party—full of excitement, exhaustion, and every other emotion you can possibly imagine. Continue reading “Uganda: Loving Simply and Simply Loving”