When all you want to do is go home, eat a pizza and watch Netflix

Let’s be real. We usually do not want to go there. There to those incredibly vulnerable places that expose our hearts and how insane we really are. Okay, maybe insane is a strong word, but you know those places in you that make you cringe.

I woke up cringing. Cringing because the enemy is real and he plays tricks and lies and convinces us that we are no better than those places.

And too often we have believed him.

Too often we sit in corners and say, “I’m done.”

Too often we look at our jobs and say, “I’m not the one for this.”

Too often we look at relationships and say, “What’s the point?”

Too often we give in or up and we quit.

So I’m going to go there. There to that incredibly vulnerable place that exposes my heart and how insane I really am (perhaps insane really isn’t that strong of a word after all).

I work at a church. My job title includes the word pastor. I am seen as a spiritual leader and mentor and am expected to live out my faith in Jesus because we are to lead by example. But let’s be real. Sometimes, I’m not a great leader. Some days, I’m the last person who should mentor. And some weeks, I have crazy talks with Jesus because my faith has its shaky moments.

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Confession. There have been times I’ve been at the church, but I wasn’t actually there. I wasn’t there because my mind had drifted to, “I really just want to be at home in my pajamas, eating a pizza and watching Netflix, because that would be easier.” There have been times I’ve walked into a meeting confident and self-assured but only an hour prior I had been weeping on the floor because I didn’t want to lead or know how too. There have been times I’ve walked on stage reciting or teaching when I really just wanted to be hiding under a pew sleeping. There have been times I’ve taught kids at our church about perseverance and love when I was in a giving up place and hating everything.

These are the moments that make me cringe because these are not moments I am proud of. And these are the moments the enemy uses to convince my heart and my soul and my mind, that I should just go home and eat a pizza because what difference am I really making for the kingdom?

But Jesus is greater and His grace is abundant. And at the end of the day, THAT truth wins over any insane thing the enemy uses to keep us up at night.

Ephesians 6:10-13 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

The enemy is real. And it doesn’t matter your role or your age, he will scheme and he will play games with you. With that truth, we’ve got to stand firm in the Lord’s strength and not our own because that’s when we curl in corners and hide. And with that truth, we’ve got to pray. We’ve got to pray for our friends and our families and we’ve got to pray for our bosses and our leaders.

The church I work at has had incredible growth and Jesus is so evident. But along with that, comes great responsibility. The enemy isn’t fond of that and is attacking and this is why I woke up cringing and this why we must pray. Pray for our pastors: Ryan, Josh, JB, and myself. Pray for our secretary (Sally) and all of Radiant Life’s leaders and volunteers and its people and their families. We pray to lead my example, but we have our moments of, “Can we really do this?” In Jesus name, we can. And in Jesus name, you can.

And hey, in Jesus name, eat pizza and watch Netflix, but may those moments be enjoyed knowing that by the Spirit we do not have to run and by wearing the right armor, we are an unstoppable force.16804645_765697993592618_817478650_o

To those of who don’t treat followers of Jesus as if they have the plague

How can I, on behalf of fellow believers (and pastors), thank you? How can I thank you for not pretending to be who you are around us? How can I thank you for not being afraid to share those moments with us. You know, those moments you call un-christian, but I call, still learning and living and figuring things out.

I’m not sure how to thank you, but I do.

I thank you for not whispering when I walk by because you partied a little too hard last night and don’t think I would approve. I don’t believe in Jesus to condemn or judge you. I believe in Jesus so I can walk beside you and love you.

Thank you for not changing your language when I walk in the room because, although I appreciate the thought, I’ve heard plenty of cuss words before. I don’t choose to speak like that, but I won’t unfriend you because you do.

Thank you for sharing your disbelief and doubt without degrading my belief and faith. Thank you for sharing that moment you smoked weed or that moment you were arrested. Thank you for sharing those imperfect pieces of you without saying I wouldn’t understand. And thank you for letting me pray over you without thinking I’ve completely lost my mind.

Thank you for not leaving when I sit down because you know faith is going to end up in the conversation. Thank you for not rolling your eyes when my advice is rooted in scripture. Thank you for respecting my faith and my job and the mission I have been called to. Thank you for treating me as a person and not some whack job who needs pshycological help (although, I wouldn’t argue, I have my moments).

Yes, followers of Jesus want to live like him. Jesus who was all about edifying and speaking life into people. Jesus lived kind and chose his words carefully. But Jesus was real about it. He didn’t separate himself from those around him because his lifestyle was different. Although he was the Savior, he didn’t wave that title in the air to make those around him feel like terrible people. No, from tax collectors to prostitutes, Jesus walked with them. Teaching and loving and leading. And lives were transformed and relationships were grounded in something deeper than mistakes or differences.

So thank you for walking with us.

As a follower of Jesus, my heart is not to wave a christian flag to make you feel like any lesser of a person. I want to learn and teach and love and lead. And above all, I want to share this Jesus I have come to know and love, but I want to be real with you about it. And I want you, believer or not, to be real with me too. So you had a margarita the other night and you gamble the heck out of those scratch tickets. I drink waaaaay too much coffee and I cross my fingers when my favorite team is playing.

Yes, I realize it’s not the same. But that’s the point.

None of us are the same. Believer or not. We all have our quirks and failings and we all have our addictions and moments we regret.

Now, there are some who will read this and think I condone what you call un-christian, I’m not saying that nor is that even the point of this piece. What I’m saying is, we live in a world where we allow differences to separate too much. Jesus said, “Be in the world, not of it.” And that is why I thank you. I thank you for allowing me (us) into your world. I thank you for not separating me (us) from you, leaving you to feel as though you have to be perfect and pretend.

Real talk, the word perfect should never be in the same sentence as me. My title at the church even ends in Pastor and I am still learning and living and figuring things out. I mess up. And honestly, there are moments when you are probably more a follower of Jesus than I am! img_20170205_215028_163Even Jesus followers get hurt. We get angry. We have our un-christian moments (trust me). But I believe Jesus walks alongside even when 0ur lifestyles don’t line up with his. And he is always teaching and loving and leading, believer or not.

So to those of who don’t treat followers of Jesus as if they have the plague, thank you. Thank you for not running away when we walk in. Thank you for being real and honest. Those are two qualities you share with Jesus. And in my book, that’s pretty rich.

 

 

 

That Thing Called Grace

It doesn’t make sense. I mean, it’s not how we imagined it. We thought it would different. In fact, we didn’t even think we could receive it, let alone live it out or believe in it.

It. That thing called grace.

And yet here we are dwelling in the presence of Him. Him who knows, I mean, really knows, where we’ve been. And He loves us still.

refreshThat should still us.

That should still us in light and that should still us in dark because, Yahweh. The Great I Am meets us in those places. Those places we desperately need refreshed. Healed. Loved. Forgiven. The Great I Am meets us in those places because He is above the vastness of them all. And even with knowing all, He says, “I will never leave or forsake. So be still for I am still with you.”

Yahweh. The Lord God is above it all. He is the voice above the waters so when their waves begin to crash, He speaks, “Peace.” And when the wilderness shakes our very foundations He pours water again and again so we are made new and stand strong.

For He is peace to our fear and strength to our weakness. He is Hope to our holes and He is Healer so we can be made whole.

Yahweh. Holy. Holy is the Lord. Worthy to be praised. Yahweh.

It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense that He who is holy would draw us in and would dwell within us.

Yahweh? Calling us closer? That’s grace.

 

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Photo Cred: Steve Klinger

 

Jesus, You fill us with light and Father, You fill us with wonder. Wonder at the sound of rocks pouring out Your praise and wonder at the mountains bowing down before You. So we pour out praise and we bow down before You, alive in Your name and held in Your grace

Yahweh. Holy. Holy is the Lord. Worthy to be praised. Yahweh.

Finding Rest In The Midst Of Crazy

Sometimes, life can feel as though you live in an extremely loud vortex. A realm blended with countless unknowns and a whole lot of crazy. Between your work, your family and all the in-betweens, that thing can be hard to find.

And I’m not good at that thing called rest.

And you’re probably right there with me.

In University, us students were taught to rest. I often sat with professors wanting to learn how to do that. How does one rest when the to-do list just keeps getting longer or when expectations never seem to be met. And as you might ask, how does one do that when the laundry is piled sky-high or when the kids you just bathed got into the flour and now look like frosty?

Easy answer? Just say ‘no.’ I know, what kind of answer is that?

Particularly in the field of ministry, this rest thing is complicated. As Pastors, we fight with that more than most things because nothing ever seems to be done. And to be honest, since being hired as a Pastor I’ve had more conversations with God about finding rest than I think I’ve talked to Him about anything else.

My problem isn’t that I have a family to keep me busy when I’m not working at the church, my problem is that when I go home, I don’t have anyone telling me to stop and so I don’t. Because if I stop, I’m afraid I won’t meet the deadlines. Or if I do, I’m worried that what I bring to the table will fall flat. Now I don’t write that for people to feel sorry for me or as a subtle way to ask for help. I write that because truthfully, I’m a terrible rester (which, I’m not sure is even a word).

And that’s no one else’s fault but my own.

However, we are commanded and taught to rest.

“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” [Mark 6:30-32]

Jesus. Now there is a guy who understood the importance of stewarding your time and making room for rest.

Yesterday I blew the whole rest thing. So today, my goal was to blow off the whole work thing. And for the most part, I did, but sometimes things are inevitable. Sometimes you cropped-12768391_575580892604330_631067968804145124_o1.jpghave tasks to do on Fridays at six and on Saturdays at two. Important, rest isn’t about being neglectful, it’s about being wise and making space to refuel. 

So when given the opportunity, I jumped in the jeep. Bought a coffee. Plugged in my favorite music. Opened my rooftop window. And just drove. I didn’t have a destination. I didn’t need one. But eventually, I sat on a park bench in the quiet, hearing nothing but rushing water, chirping birds, blowing winds and then Jesus. And when you say no to everything else and say yes to Jesus, you find the greatest of resting places, because His presence IS rest. And when you rest, you refuel.

Relax. Refresh. Recover. Reconvene. Repeat.

So to those of you who too often find yourself afraid to rest, just say no. Every once in a while say no to the laundry and to the kid who rolled in the flour. And say yes to the one who tells you to rest.

I’m slowly learning rest is a choice and that it’s okay to say, “No, I just can’t do that right now. But after I get a bit of rest, I can rock that out in no time.” And nine times out of ten, what I produce after rest is a thousand times better than anything I’ve produced without rest.

 

 

 

I was just on the bus yesterday

Don’t get me wrong, I love people. But sometimes, I’d like to sit them down and say, “I was just on the bus yesterday with a pencil box in my backpack and a bow in my hair.” 

I was recently chatting with an acquaintance and like any conversation I seem to have with curious people lately, the topic of dating was brought up. The topic of dating as well as my age and the, “you know, you aren’t getting any younger” pep talk.

Believe me, I know.

So I’m twenty-four and I’m not married and I don’t have children. But I do have an education and a job. I pay my bills and make my own meals and I recently bought a puppy. That’s got to count for something, right?

Now, I’m not against the idea of getting married and raising a family. In fact, I think I’d rather like that. And I enjoy the, “let’s get coffee” or “watch a movie” moments. So hear me when I say I’m not writing this to speak negatively towards any of that. And by that, I mean dating and marriage. When done well, relationships can be sweet.

But I could have sworn I was just on the bus yesterday headed to third grade praying I’d pass my math test (I was terrible at math). And I thought it was just yesterday I was diving in the river pretending to be a world famous olympic swimmer. And wasn’t it just yesterday I graduated from high school?

Okay, so graduation was eight years ago, but it sure feels like it was yesterday.

And when yesterday feels like I was a little girl, it’s hard to imagine I would even be old enough to consider dating, let alone marriage or kids.

But still, people persist I must start looking as if relationships are a big treasure hunt. And most the days, I find their persistence rather amusing. But some days, I find it insulting (and I mean that with the most respect). Because when someone says, “You should be married by now, or at least dating” it can make a person feel lonely and on those rare occasions, as if something is wrong with them.

I just simply didn’t go the route of seeking a man to marry first. Instead, I worked hard to pass my math tests and kept diving in the river. I graduated from high school and from wearing bows in my hair. I went to university; sometimes passing and sometimes failing. I b87b6c_648be8b8597542c4aadfddc07fe4a3d9focused on learning and leaping; sometimes landing and sometimes falling. Many classmates married (and they are awesome and I love them), but some of us didn’t. And for some, it was a feeling of not being ready. For others it was simply because yesterday feels like 1st grade. For me, it was always both. So I went the route of seeking a different man. The carpenter who walked on water and understood relationships in a deep and real and different way.

We are all wired diffrently and so there are some who are reading this who managed to juggle school and work and love all at the same time.

But not me.

I’ve spent the last twenty-four years of my life simply learning to love myself. And within those years, also learning to trust God with the deeper parts of me before I sought to reveal those pieces to anyone else. And through the loving and trusting I have learned that doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with me. It just means I didn’t want to be the wrong thing for someone else.

We live in a world full of broken relationships and the only way to heal them or to have healthy ones, is to follow Christ’s example. And He loved. I mean, LOVED.

I want to love and be loved like that and I think 100% of us do.

So to all of you who have not married by the age of twenty-one, be encouraged and continue to love you. Pour yourself before God as He pours Himself into you before you pour yourself into any man or woman. Go to college (or don’t if that’s not your thing) and go on adventures. Don’t be afraid to do things alone but don’t run from relationships either. Go on dates and meet new people, but don’t feel the need to tie the knot because it’s the thing to do. Go on dates and meet people because relationships can be good, especially when they are rooted in the God who created Adam and Eve and called them good together.

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7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature. 8 And the LORD God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed.

 18 Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” 24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:7-8;18-24

We are poured on every day

To pour is to rain. To send liquid falling; propelling really. To pour is to move and fill and flow and be refilled. Every year should be a year of pouring. A year of seeing cups overflow and relationships filled. Every year should be a year of pouring into those who are empty and being filled with more of Jesus because His water jars are always full.

Pour. I love the word and I love what it can do.

I love the sound of coffee pouring in a cup and I love the sound of rain pouring on a roof. I love that the Lord pours out who He is in ways that make a grown up sqpourueal like a kid on Christmas morning. I love learning and that I get the opportunity to pour into kids who are both eager to learn and equally eager to pour into me.

I love to pour and I love to be poured into.

So each week of this year I have been challenged to recognize the pouring in all capacities because I too often miss it. I miss the moments when Jesus knocks on the door to fill my cup and the moments when He passes by asking me to pour out into other cups. Sometimes I walk too fast and talk too fast that what I pour out isn’t all that good. And sometimes I breathe too little and only open my door a little and what needs to be poured in is left with no space and no welcome.

Pour. To pour is to move and fill and flow and be refilled.

It’s easy to say pouring is hard but we are poured on every day. We are poured on when a friend remembers your favorite ‘coffee shop drink’ and delivers it to you (thanks Rasika!). We are poured on when we wake up to kind words and laughter. We are poured on when we are invited in and loved and open. We are poured on when we pour out and we are poured on when we allow God to pour in.

I wonder how different the world would be if we poured the good kind of stuff more. The kind of stuff Jesus poured. You know, the kind of pouring that heals and gives and changes not just life, but lives. I want to pour like that. Because to pour is to move and fill and flow and be refilled.

 

Regardless of the calendar year, please keep living

I’ve read that ‘in the beginning, God created’ and I believe without any doubt he did. The earth was formless, full of void. Darkness blanketed the deep. But “God said, ‘Let there be light’ and there was light.” A beginning to what was once empty.

With the new year approaching, I am thankful for beginnings like that. Beginnings in which God speaks, “Let there be.” Beginnings in which the morning light rises to remind that He continues to speak and teach and be.

As a people, though, it’s safe to say we are not always quick to listen and learn and live in that being. Because simply put, life gets fast and busy and messy.

Something always needs to be done.

Someone always needs to be undone.

And someday days just need to be redone.

For those reasons, grace is such a gift. It’s one of the greatest lights we have been given. It allows us room to breathe when we are running fast and it lifts our backpacked-burdens when we live in the messy. Grace gets us through our worst days and our most difficult years.

Social media has gone wild with the realities of 2016. And I must admit, I have chuckled at most memes and shaken my head at blogs who are very clear that this year has been…wait for it…The. Worst. Year. Ever.

I’m not sure it’s fair to blame the year (those poor digits), nor do I believe we can label it as ‘the worst year’. Darkness will always seem to blanket the deep if that’s where your focus is. But when you dive down more, you’ll see God blankets deeper. And that’s the hope I enter into 2017 with. With the truth that God is light and God will always be light. With the treasure that Jesus is the light of the world and therefore, darkness has no dominion over the world.

For some who are reading this, it has been a tough year for you. Life turned to death. Marriage to divorce. Friend to stranger. Health to sickness. Job to unemployed. And no amount of prayer or apologies could ever change some of it. But please keep living. Keep seeing the good in people. Keep choosing to see the light because it is there.

A year ago I dreaded entering into the new year; fearing and seeming so small. When the clock struck midnight I was standing outside staring up at a dark sky searching for answers. Seeking to be made whole and needing grace.

God met me. God met me and said, “Let there be.”

Then Jesus just seemed so big.

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Yes, 2016 has been a different kind of year. There have been new and wonderful and scary things, yet every year is a different kind of year filled with new and wonderful and scary things. But still, regardless of the calendar year, Jesus is so big and beginnings are not all that bad. Let there be tremendous hope in that.

For beginnings give hope to mistakes and pain and life. They heal endings in unexplainable ways and open doors for friendship. They break down walls and allow room for love.

Beginnings give birth to a baby in a manger. They turn water into wine. They heal the lame and the blind and the sick. They turn confusion into peace and death into life. And beginnings have a way of resurrecting who we were and are created to be, even in moments and years that seem to be the worst.

I wish you all a year full of beginnings like that. Beginnings that resurrect. Beginnings in which you are overwhelmed by love and filled with grace. Beginnings in which you learn more about yourself and adventure with all that is new. Beginnings in which you are made to laugh until your belly hurts. Beginnings in which the Lord speaks light to what is dark.

May this year be one filled with the words, “Let there be…”