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When “Love Your Neighbor” Becomes A Euphemism for “Do What I Think You Should”

There’s a church down the street from my Brother-In-Law’s house with an old fashioned letter board outside. It is a lovely church I’ve been inside of a few times. Once for a wedding. Once for a mom’s group.

Nowadays, the letter board reads, “Wear a Mask, Save a Life”. Other times it reads “Stay Home, Save A Life”. And then intermittently it reads, “Love Your Neighbor”.

It doesn’t take a genius to get the message they are actually saying: Gathering as a Church right now is not loving your neighbor.

And it probably won’t surprise you that this particular church has failed to gather since last spring.

This isn’t a post about calling out churches who succumb to fear. I truly think the people running this church believe they are loving others by living apart from community…but it is also so disheartening to watch a body of believers be cut off from each other. It is concerning to watch this church abandon its sacred call to gather.

I can’t change this church or its leadership. But I can love them, even though I believe they are sinfully placing the idol of fear and self-service above Christ’s commands. This is extremely hard for me.

I’m starting to see this phrase everywhere: Love Your Neighbor. It’s on t-shirts and canvas tote bags and mugs and stickers. I never could have imagined this beautiful and sacrificial command from Jesus being used to control, shame, and divide The Church.

What does it even mean to love your neighbor? What did Jesus mean when he said it?

In Matthew 22 the Pharisees and Sadducees attempt to trick Jesus by asking him, “Which is the greatest command in the law?”

Jesus, just a few chapters earlier during the Sermon on the Mount, says “Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets. I have not come to abolish, but to fulfill.”

By responding to this “trick” question, Jesus is answering his own claims made earlier in the Matthew narrative. His mission is to fulfill the law by redeeming humanity, so now the question is asked…if he is on a mission to fulfill the Law, what is important and what isn’t?

Jesus sums up the entire Law by giving us The Great Commandment – “You shall love the Lord you God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Love for God is the first and greatest commandment. For this reason, God’s holiness, his purposes and the standards revealed in his Word must never be compromised in our efforts to show love for people. In other words, love for God must come first, and nothing we do to desmonstrate love for others should compromise our devotion to God. If we love God completely, and love others unselfishly, then all of our attitudes and action will end up aligning with all of the commands, instructions, guidelines and standards of God’s Word.”

The Fire Bible Commentary

We cannot claim to love others, while forsaking the commands God has given us to gather, to live in community, to worship and sing together, to bear each others burdens.

These commands are not “secondary” to the life Jesus has called his Bride to, they are intricately woven together. Loving Christ well and loving The Church well is foundational to loving others well. You cannot love others while ignoring the commands of Christ. You cannot subjectivfy loving others apart from a Biblical framework and call it Christlike. That’s just called good, old-fashioned false teaching.

Obviously, there are many faucets to this conversation, but something I always said before I starting blogging is that I would never spend half of my time explaining and defending myself picking apart every angle in attempt NOT to offend someone. Honestly, I am sick to death of offense-culture and the “what about this” culture. This is a blog, not a novel. And I hope you hear my heart in this post. That’s what matters most anyway.

God is not wishy-washy about his expectations for his people…

And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25

…where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.

Matthew 18:20

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Acts 2:42

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:16

When my husband and I had CoVid back in November, we stayed home, just like we would have if we had the flu or strep, but we refused to make choices based out of fear before or after that. We took care of our bodies. We rested. And we recovered.

There is a distinct difference between staying home with an illness and staying home because you might get sick or because you are afraid someone else might get sick.

For over 2000 years, The Church has gathered to celebrate the day Death was defeated and our Redemption was bought. I cannot describe the unsettling that happened in my soul in 2020 when The Church did not gather to celebrate what is arguably the most important event in the history of mankind apart from the Birth of Christ.

Did you know that the command to sing is the most repeated command in all of scripture? And often it is described in a communal setting, in both the Old and New Testaments.

God gives us the ability to make wise choices. But when The Church decides to bow to fear over wisdom, when The Church shames and condemns Believers for following scripture, something is dreadfully wrong.

And for what it’s worth, why are Christians ignoring the study after study after study linking the severity and length of CoVid to Vit D deficiency? Or the study after study after study linking increases in deaths to disrupted testosterone levels? Or the study after study after study indicating that sufficient levels of zinc can lesson the affects of the severity of the illness?

It is almost as if God designed our bodies to function in a certain way and we are completely ignoring the emerging information. It is almost as if this disease is showing us exactly where our bodies are lacking most.

Nothing is certain. That doesn’t give us leave to disregard Biblical commands.

Our lives are not the most precious things we have! Our souls are. And when we sacrifice our souls for the sake of our lives, we end up losing both. We lose fellowship. We lose the ability to look into the eyes of the broken and walk with them through healing. We lose the ability to reach the lost. We lose the joy of worship. We lose the transformation that happens when we live vulnerably in community. Our leaders lose accountability. Orphans and widows have no where to go. Marriages break. Sin abounds. And despair overtakes hope and lives are lost to the darkness of depression like never before.

It is NOT time for The Church to sit back in our comfy seats at home and binge true crime shows while consuming record amounts of alcohol and waiting on Government officials to rescue us from our own health crisis’s. Because, let’s just be honest, that is happening far more than growing in spiritual depth is right now.

If your church isn’t gathering together, challenge your Pastor to obey scripture. Speak out boldly. Don’t just leave the church. This is a common practice among believers, and it is harming our churches. Your spiritual leaders need your input! They need you to walk out your faith boldly. And this is coming from the wife of a pastor…If your Pastor isn’t interested in what scripture has to say, then perhaps it is time to prayerfully consider a new church home. Speak in love, with love.

Our communities are our mission fields.

We cannot afford to step into the background for such a time as this.

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You Are A Story: And You Have The Right To Tell It

The first time I ever really sat down and told my story I was 17 years old. And I told it with a numbness and the urgency of an almost-up timer ticking in the background. I sat on a hard plastic chair and spilled my story out onto the table like coffee from a tipped over thermos: impossible to stop.

I could have gone so many other directions with my life. I could have built all the hurt and anger and abandonment and bruises and rage and fear and panic up inside me until it killed me. I could have never talked about it.

But even then I knew I had to. Even at 17.

I’ve often thought back to that day with nothing short of amazement and gratitude at the Grace and Mercy of God. The people he placed in my life. The friend that brought me to talk. The friend that listened. The friend that reached out. My life has been uncommonly characterized for good by friendship. The people who laughed and cried with me then are the same people who laugh and cry with me now. And this is not something I ever think about with anything less then astonishment.

There is that quote, “Show me your friends and I will show you your future.” It’s also true, show me your friends and I will show you the depth of healing you’ll achieve. Because not one single soul on earth was designed to live in anything else but vulnerable community.

It’s something I’ve noticed a lot of this year. How the communities we live in shape our perspectives and world views, shape or abilities to heal, shape our stories and how we tell them.

We are all a story. You. Me. Them. That woman over there. The crazy person. The bitter person. The narcissist. The victim. The orphan. The forgotten. The addict, especially, I think.

When God looks at us he doesn’t just see the parts that he wants to see. He doesn’t just see the redeemed part of you… The saint inside of you. He doesn’t just see a soul or a body… he sees both, and they are intricately connected.

The reason we can’t heal without sharing our stories is the same reason we cannot come to the Throne Room of Grace without humility: because it takes ALL OF YOU, sacrificed in order to heal: because hiding from God is impossible – you only end up hiding from yourself in a lie of your own making.


Presupposition number one: God is real.

Presupposition number two: God created you in his image.

Presupposition number three: because you’re made in the Image of God, and because God is a communal God of three persons, we can safely assume we are communal beings as well.

Presupposition number four: if sin separates us from God, then forgiveness and redemption bring us into relationship with him.

Presupposition number five: if brokenness is the result of sin, and sin separates us from God, we can safely assume that healing from sin requires community…first with God but also with our fellow Image Bearers.


Here is what I want to say….it’s the same thing I’ve been saying for the past three years of this blog: YOU ARE A STORY & YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO TELL WHO YOU ARE.

It is when we live in vulnerable community that we are most fully seen and known.

It is when we live in community and deep friendships that we grow.

You can change the entire course of someone’s life just by listening to their story. You don’t need to know what to say when they tell you something terrible that is happened to them. It doesn’t take years of training to be able to love someone right where they are at. The skill of a hug is best learned in practice. It is OK to hold someone tight while they weep against your shoulder. To give them permission to grieve. Because I don’t know about you but this world is full of sin that breaks every one of us.

You don’t have to experience the loss of a child in order to grieve with someone who has. You don’t have to experience racism in order to grieve with someone who has. Just like you don’t have to experience sexual abuse or childhood trauma or domestic assault or addiction or eating disorders are self mutilation or suicide attempts in order to meet those that do.

We heal when we tell our stories and they are received. We heal when we receive the stories of others. We heal when we learn to repent. We heal when we realize that all this world has to offer us is only a shadow of what is to come.

Jesus knelt in the dirt to look into the eyes of a broken woman. Jesus reached up into the branches of a tree to greet a tax collector. Jesus sat around long tables. And when he was not listening to stories he was telling them. And it resonates because HE is THE STORY and we are A STORY.

How can we ever proclaim what God has done without our stories? How can we ever show the hand of God on our lives without telling of what he has done?

Your story is yours. It is the story of God at work inside you. It is your testimony. It is your Redemption. YOUR salvation. And no one gets to tell you that you cannot speak of all that God has done. Even if it means you tell the dark, true parts. Because for every one person who heals, there are ten thousand who haven’t, and don’t dare because too many keep their stories so censored.

YOU are a story. And you have the HONOR of telling it. Be wise how you speak it. But by all means, tell it.

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Cuties: Violence, Sexuality, and The Stories We Tell

On August 2, 2020 I discovered child pornography on FB in less than a minute.

My cousin, a childhood sexual abuse survivor, had heard about the pedohila page in a support group she was in for survivors like her. She was rightly upset.

When she told me I didn’t believe her. I thought, “She’s just overly cautious because of her background.”

But I decided to look up the page anyway, just so I could offer her clarification that she wasn’t seeing what she was actually seeing.

I was in for a shock!

Not only did the page include photos of children from around the world, but the comments were revolting. There was even a video of prepubescent boys engaging in public anal sex while spectators hid behind their cameras. I felt instantly nauseous and enraged. I felt like I was going to pass out. The mother inside me roared loudly for these boys.

I took to social media without hesitation. Flagging the sites. And realizing quickly that there were DOZENS more just like it. Once I understood what to type into the search bar to find pages like these, they loaded one right after the other. Men were posting on both innocent and crude photos of children. Posting what they wanted to do to these children.

I still cannot reconcile these images in my head with what I know of social media censorship.

There was a boy looking down into a camera seductively from the corner of a street. There was a brother and sister in matching swimsuits playing in a little pool. There was another boy bent over looking back at the camera with a glazed over expression in his eyes, barely even present in his own body.

My eyes could not unsee it. My ears could unhear the evil conveyed there.

I wanted to do something, had to, and called the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children the next day to report the pages. This is were I learned that hundreds of people had been calling them for the very same reason. I also attempted to call FB, and learned they don’t actually answer phones. I emailed. I reported. I flagged. And kept getting the same response: “This content does not go against community standards.”

What in the actual hell?!?

That’s when the idea of starting a petition came to me. And so I did. The first week we gathered thousands of signatures from strangers all over the world who were equally outraged. And from someone with such a small platform as mine, the response was overwhelming to me.

I openly called out Facebook for their lack of censorship of child pornography. And when I did… I was censored. Me! My post quickly sped through the Internet like a wildfire on dry earth. Hungry. It was shared hundreds of times and viewed by tens of thousands of people before Facebook censored it and warned me against future infractions. Really? Really, Facebook?

Just a week or two before we had seen the speedy censorship that social media can conjure up against anything that goes against the “approved“ narrative, when videos with millions of views and posts about it were taken down and deemed “dangerous.” But child pornography? That doesn’t go against community standards…the irony wasn’t lost on me.

I was livid! Clearly the ability to censor was present. The willingness was not.

Shortly after this experience I attended my first protest to raise awareness for human trafficking and its victims. As a blogger who has spent the last two years writing about abuse, trauma, and the healing that can be found in the blood of Jesus Christ, I found myself in good company on the streets of my small town just an hour north of Seattle. The women around me had stories much like mine. Many of them were far worse, and involved trafficking stories that brought tears to my eyes.

We stood beside our children and held signs. We hugged each other. And we rallied together in support of people whose faces we will never see, but we love them dearly anyway.

And then came “Cuties”…

The film cover rocked the social media world with outrage. A poster of young, prepubescent girls posing sexually in skimpy clothing flew across platforms within hours. And for a minute it didn’t matter what color you were or what political affiliation you carried clenched inside your fists. Everyone wanted to know what the hell was going on…

Oops. They said. This is a shot from the movie, but doesn’t depict the movie; we are sorry, and we will change the cover.

And the outrage grew as the hot breathe of “No” oxygenated the flames.

I knew pretty early on that I was going to watch the movie. Why? Because I needed to see for myself what was going on. I needed to see it with my own eyes and hear it with my own ears and experience it for myself. I wasn’t gonna jump on a bandwagon without knowing more. This is the same reason I decided to look up the child pornography pages on Facebook in the first place. Because I am willing to see the unimaginable if it means that I can shine a light, however small, into the darkness.

And so I watched the film. Over the course of a few days… Because I work full-time, homeschool my children and take care of my home, and just generally have other things to do. So, the movie was going to have to fit into my schedule.

Let me just start by saying that everything you’ve heard about the movie is in fact true. And if you want more of the specific details of all the inappropriate things that are in the film, you should be able to easily find them in some list floating around the internet somewhere.

Mostly, I have a few thoughts about the movie that have more to do with the general idea of it then with the specifics of it.

One. I understand that filmmakers are storytellers. And that is something I admire very much. The way the film Cuties was written and directed was actually really remarkable. The way the director told the story was documentary like. And as a writer, I can say the script was top notch. Ben Shapiro did a great review of the film, and pointed out, “It is possible for this film to be two things at once.” It is possible for it to be well told story, while also being highly inappropriate. It is also possible for the film to be attempting to depict something negative, while engaging in that very same behavior.

Two. Real, raw stories matter. And I believe that is what this film maker was going for. She definitely crossed lines…

Three. After watching the film you have to ask yourself a very important question: where is the line between depiction and exploitation?

I read that 600 girls auditioned for this movie. 600 girls who danced and twerked in front of judges for a role in a film where they would do the same except for the whole entire world. 5 of these girls were chosen. Their bodies were put on display. And they were taught to move and bend in ways that invite men to watch them.

Exploiting a child in order to tell the story of an exploited child is not justice, it’s abuse.

My concerns regarding the story telling of this film extend outward as well. Typically, when a line is crossed in film or art it tends to raise the bar of what is acceptable. This is something to be watchful of.

Four. Along the lines of “raising the bar,” consumers have seen it more so over the decades in film, our stories have become increasingly violent, sexual. We hear accounts of actors who act out rape scenes and then go to therapy afterwards because they are so distraught at what they have acted out.

And you might argue that some actors consider this a high calling. Such as, Jim Caviezel, who played Jesus in The Passion of The Christ and harmed his own body in order to do so.

An adult may do what he wishes. A child, as we know by studying psychology and the human brain, is not able to understand consent. This is why we protect children fiercely.

There is also a considerable difference between adults acting out history and children acting out exploitation. Both ought to be carefully weighed…

And here is my concluding thought to the entire conversation surrounding this film: It is not a child’s job to convey the exploitation, violence, and evil of adults towards them; to convey the over sexualizing of children; to call attention to the abuse of children; nor is it a child’s duty or burden to call into the light that which flourishes in the dark, and it is certainly not ok for society to ask it of them.

If adults cannot convey the evils impressed upon children without further exploiting them, then perhaps they are not the great storytellers they believe themselves to be. Because a bad story told artistically might be told well, but it is not well told.

The weight and responsibility for the next generations rests on our shoulders, not theirs. It is our job to provide a safe world for our children. A world where childhood is treasured, and where even its darkest depictions are left to adults to wrestle with, not to a child to depict.

Cuties, ultimately, participates in the very exploitation it warns against, begging the question, “What sort of people thought this was a good idea?”

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Though The Mountains May Fall: God Is Not Afraid of This.

It’s ok if you’re afraid. But you don’t have to be.

God isn’t. He’s not scratching his head wondering how on earth he’s going to stop a pandemic, keep people working, or keep the economy afloat. Because he is already working. He’s been working this entire time.

He isn’t surprised by the spread of the virus, by your reaction to it, or your fear of it.

He always makes a way. Always.

Our world is fallen. We know this. Our souls are fallen, our attitudes are fallen, so is the soil and bacteria and our very lives. Sin breaks everything. It breaks every living thing.

We have this promise, that one day, God will make it all right again. One day, he will strip away sin and bind death. He has long since paid the price for that, and we live in the already-not-yet of his Kingdom being established on earth. There is a tension between heaven and earth that you grow more aware of over time.

But I know saying that doesn’t always help. And I’d like to just say it’s ok if that doesn’t help right now while also challenging you to cling to the promises of God.

He never promised we’d be exempt from a pandemic, but he has promised us his very character and nature, he has promised us who we are in him.

It’s ok if you feel like you don’t have enough faith to get through this. God isn’t depending on your faith to see us all through. It’s ok if you fall apart. It’s ok if you don’t feel strong, because he is strong enough, and his strength is not dependent on anyone or anything. It’s ok if all you have a mustard seed of faith…in fact! God actually said a mustard seed of faith is enough to move mountains…so…that’s kind of a lot!

It is ok for the seasoned Christians to set an example of faith for their brothers and sisters, to extend grace to overflowing, and offer compassion where able.

We are the hands and feet of Jesus Christ. We are the ones who live inside of his Way-Making.

Whatever might happen, keep worshiping. Whatever might happen, we know who holds tomorrow with it’s New Mercies. Whatever might happen, we are seen and known and looked upon with love.

He is always Enough.

“For the mountains may move and the hills disappear, but even then my faithful love for you will remain. My covenant of blessing will never be broken,” says the LORD, who has mercy on you. Isaiah 54:10

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6 Signs Your Abuser Hasn’t Changed At All

I’m gonna drive right into this list, but before I do, I want to preface it with something to keep in mind.

Remember, that you can read all the blogs and watch all the YouTube videos, but at the end of the day, only you know your story. And each video and blog is from one person’s perspective.

Continue reading “6 Signs Your Abuser Hasn’t Changed At All”

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The Body of Christ Needs Women. Women Who Go Forth and Go Out.

“But God has put together all the parts of the body. And he has given more honor to the parts that didn’t have any. In that way, the parts of the body will not take sides. All of them will take care of one another. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it. If one part is honored, every part shares in its joy. You are the body of Christ. Each one of you is a part of it.” 1 Cor 12:25-27.

And then begins the most famous chapter ever written on Love…

And it is probably not a coincidence that an exposition on the Body of Christ is followed by a call to radical, true Love.

And if it is true that when one part suffers all the parts suffer, then our words and our actions and treatments ought to be slung over our shoulders with all the respect of an honorable weight…to be carried inside the walls of The Church, up onto its platforms, and out of our lips, God help us. Like a solider knows the sacredness of self-sacrifice and duty and this is why he must carry himself so. Because a weight is not the same as a burden.

And when God speaks and moves in hearts that open, He cannot be quenched. Because Holy Fire is not tamed. Because Holy Spirit Fire fell and still falls on even the most unlikely. Praise be!

It first Fell in a home, a room, a space.

And immediately it burst through the doors out into The World because it was impossible to keep those Fire-Flames still inside those walls.

And what happened inside a Home kept right on happening and it’s been happening for two thousand years still. Falling untamed. Falling and bursting.

And the point of Home is not to stay there, because Jesus calls us to go out and go forth…even if that means going out to bring others in. Like how we go out to bring others home to their True Home.

Making disciples means meeting people where they are.

Making disciples means going forth…

Thank God, Esther did not “go home”. Instead she went forth and saved a nation.

Thank God, Jael did not “go home”. Instead she went forth and defeated an army.

Thank God, The Women did not “go home”. Instead they witnessed the supernaturally healed body of Jesus Christ, and they ran full of joy to tell the story…

Thank God, Corrie Ten Boom did not “go home”. Instead she went forth, boldly proclaimed the Living-Word of Forgiveness and challenging the healing of those who have endured unspeakable hate. And the healing of those who caused it.

Thank God, Catherine Booth did not “go home”. Instead she went forth and helped to found one of the most established charities in the history of the world: The Salvation Army.

Thank God, Mother Theresa did not “go home”. Instead she went forth and made her home with the least of these and loved the forgotten in a way that only a Mother can. Wrapping her arms around the filthy, the lonely, wrapping her arms around entire city blocks and nations and decades of forgotten souls.

Thank God, Christine Caine did not “go home”. Instead she went forth and founded the largest anti-human-trafficking non-profit in the world and rescued men and women in a way that only one who suffered through years of sexual abuse can.

Thank God for the artists, the singers and dancers, the missionary women who boldly proclaim the Gospel. Some alongside their Lovers, their Husbands. Some alone, because God called them alone. The Pastors who go forth and weep with the lost and hold the broken and show the face of Jesus by being his hands that hold their faces and their bodies.

And I agree with Ann Voskamp when she says, “this is not about whether women should preach to men or have authority over men — this is ultimately about God clearly calling women to be co-labourers in the Kingdom, to preach the Gospel in everything they do, to be mothers of the faith.”

God calls women to do Mighty and Holy work, and it is when The Body of Christ is fully at work that we best portray the Glory and Goodness of the Gospel.

Because Pastoring a life is more than a title and the recognition of being “on staff” or “paid”.

And platforms are given, and we have the opportunity and the honor to Bear Witness to the Power of the Gospel. Not to shame and belittle The Body of Christ.

————————————————————

And they will know we are Christians by our love for one another…

But either way, that Holy Fire will never stop falling…

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Abuse After Abuse: Finding Freedom From Past, Present, and Future Abuse

If you haven’t heard, the statistics say that once you’ve been abused, you are more vulnerable to abuse by any number of different people.

Continue reading “Abuse After Abuse: Finding Freedom From Past, Present, and Future Abuse”
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The Church Needs You. And It Needs All Of You.

The Church needs you. Like, it needs you.

The Church needs your story, your wrestlings, your questions and doubts, your open palms, your fears and authenticities…it needs your story of Gospel Redemption. It needs your life, not like the blood in your veins, although it needs that too…it needs your lifetime. Your day-to-day, your smiles and tears, your coffee pot and even your front yard.

And when I say “Church” do you think of little white steeples and neatly lined pews? Or perhaps the industrial-modern campus downtown in some city, groaning to be heard?

I’m not talking about buildings at all. I’m not talking about locations. I’m talking about a move of God. I’m talking about the Beautifully Broken Body of Christ.

The Body of Christ needs you.

The Body of Christ needs Mothers. It needs your gifting and talents, the way you crave truth and community. It needs your fierceness. Your heart for the oppressed. Your wild love-in-action. It needs women who refuse to listen to loud, alluring voices, and instead it needs women who work relentlessly hard to hear and obey the Word of God.

The Body of Christ needs the Deeply Broken. It needs to grieve with you and rejoice with you, to listen to all that God has done in you. It needs you to remind us that when God begins a mighty work, he sees it through to completion. But mostly, it needs your bravery and boldness…because you know darkness like few others do, and that means you know how to wage war against spiritual oppressors that seem impossible to overcome. You know the transformational power of the Holy Spirit. You are the evidence of it. And we need to see what God does when his spirit gets Holy-Deep inside a lost lost soul.

The Body of Christ needs Fathers. It needs you to wrap your arms around the orphaned and abandoned, to speak truth and identity over the souls of the wounded. It needs you to be unapologetically for justice. And it needs the sureness of your God-Given role as a protector and defender. It needs you to be healthy, discipled, humble, aware of the weight on your shoulders, aware of the power of your own voice.

The Body of Christ needs Children. It needs to hold them, to delight in them, and to speak truth over them that builds a supernaturally firm foundation of an Identity in Christ. It needs that childlike wonder and joy. It needs your insatiable appetite for miracles, and your absolute faith that is not easily shaken.

The Body of Christ needs Grandmothers and Grandfathers. It needs your wisdom. IT NEEDS YOUR WISDOM! It needs to hear and witness the faithfulness of God in your life. It needs you to stand as a testament of God’s unfailing goodness. It needs your love, encouragement, guidance, and most of all I think it needs your homes. The Body of Christ needs your open doors, the peace of a home filled with trinkets of a life well lived. It needs your couches, for the struggling marriage, for the mother who never saw what mothers are supposed to do, for the man who doesn’t know how to be both gentle and bold.

The Body of Christ needs Artists and Creators. It needs the beauty you alone see. It needs your expressions, reflecting the creative nature of God through color and sound and texture and words. It needs the story you long to tell, the story placed deep inside you by the Holy Spirit.

The Body of Christ needs the Thinkers and the Doers. It needs your steadfastness. Your determination. It needs to see the reflection of God the Father in you. It needs the way you process information. It needs your ability to act upon wisdom.

The Body of Christ absolutely needs Young People. It needs your dreams and passions. It needs to hear all that God has placed on your heart. It needs your ability to resonate love to a generation of souls suffering in silence. It needs your enthusiasm, your practical help, your questions, and it even needs the way you challenge systems. Do not let anyone look down on you simply because you are young. And shame to those who do. Hold your head high, and do not be ashamed of who God has created you to be, of what burns inside of you. When you combine the giftings of the Holy Spirit with radical authenticity inside thriving community, and cover that all in the truth of Christ, you’ll see God move in ways that will take away your ability to breathe. You will see miracles.

You guys!!

We are missing so so much inside the church. We are missing the inherent, multi-generational relationships.

And the older you are, the longer you have been walking with the Lord, the more this weight falls on your shoulders and on mine.

If you have walked with the Lord for two or three or five decades and you’ve never discipled a single soul…you aren’t just missing out on getting to know a younger generation, you are missing out on the MIGHTY and BEAUTIFUL work that you are designed to accomplish. You are not furthering the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes, the people The Church needs the most, are the ones who rant and complain the most. It’s impossible hard work to spread the Gospel when your lips haven’t stopped mumbling in 15 years. Shut up. And get to work. Sometimes, God needs you be silent.

The Body of Christ needs people to get up out of their seats!

The Body of Christ needs people who spend less time inside a church building, and more time outside of it.

Write these words on your arms, wear them like a garment: Jesus walked and talked and ate and lived and cried and laughed and he did it all outside of the walls of a church building.

How do you heal a marriage? Over dinner. Over time. With Love in action.

How do you heal the wounds of trauma? On a couch. With a hug. In intimate worship. Over time. With Love in action.

Build a fire. Like an actual fire. Sit. Talk. Laugh. Cry.

Get rid of all your crap. Clean off your counters. And invite someone over for dinner. Light some candles. And ask the hard questions: what are you struggling with right now? what do you need? can I pray healing prayers straight up to heaven over you?

Once a month. Just do it once a month. Once a month for the rest of your life. And you will get to watch God move in incredible ways.

Church! You ARE the church.

It is not the pastor’s job to do your job. Unless you enjoy watching pastor after pastor burn out.

It is not a missionary’s job to do your job. Unless you enjoy seeing ministry after ministry close. (Did you know that most missionaries spend 1/3 of their time simply asking for funds to survive while they go and do the jobs no one else will? Not ok.)

The Church isn’t missing anything, its missing YOU!

Read that again…

The Church isn’t missing anything, its missing YOU!!

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You Don’t Have To Be A Foster Parent To Change A Foster Kid’s Life

Imagine that you have fallen into deep waters, but it’s your first time to swim. Fighting just to get a breath in; & then someone hands you a screaming child, a stack of paperwork, a bunch of trainings & appointment reminders. Then imagine being expected to complete it all while keeping yourself & that terrified child above water. Oh, & you can’t get the paperwork wet because, of course, it has to be legible when you turn it in.

Continue reading “You Don’t Have To Be A Foster Parent To Change A Foster Kid’s Life”
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9 Lessons I’ve Learned In 9 Years Of Marriage

Let me just tell you that when I fell in love with my husband I fell HARD.

Like I lost my mind.

My grades dropped. I barely slept. I couldn’t get enough. I was basically obsessed. Continue reading “9 Lessons I’ve Learned In 9 Years Of Marriage”

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I Collect Dead, Dying Things. I Collect Brokenness.

I found this coin when I was 10 years old. I was camping about an hour east of Seattle, deep in the mountains, and as I walked barefoot through the camp sites I suddenly felt something underneath my feet that seemed out of place. I looked down to see a square coin, and couldn’t believe my luck. A coin, IN THE DIRT, from half-way around the world.

I’ve been collecting coins ever since. When I go to another country or when friends go, I ask for coins, please.

And sometimes I collect things that celebrate the creative expressions of peoples all over the world. Sometimes, I revel in the art of countries I’ve never been to. I collect sacred moments, beauty, friends.

But sometimes, I collect dying things. Rotten, rotting things. Things that kill and steal and destroy.

Sometimes, I collect pain and I store it away and I hold it tightly and I let it simmer on the back burner and it’s ok for a while…until it’s not. Until your kitchen burns down. Until the flames reach up and up and quenching them is impossible. Until you barely escape with your life. Until your skin bears the scars of your choices.

And I think I’m starting to see the quiet power in releasing. The STRENGTH it takes to open your palms and say, “Here, it’ll only bury me in flames if I keep it.”

(This is what we mean when we pray for “the wisdom to know the difference.”)

This is what Jesus means when he says to “cast your cares on him”. There is almost a violence to it. Because casting well means you get to eat. Casting well means your family survives. And it’s almost like Jesus KNOWS what he’s asking. But he’s painting a picture of something hard, something that takes energy, a task, a behavior that grows more skilled over time.

He is asking you to shove your fingers deep into the heavy, crude nets of first-century Israel. He is asking you to grab them tightly, like your life depends on it, because your life depends on it. And he is asking you to take that deep breath, and ready your entire body, plant your feet firmly on the deck, and with every cell in your body, without a sliver of hesitation, heave those nets up and over the side of the boat and let them sink heavy-deep into the water.

Because if you can’t heave them over the side, you’ll never be able to heave in the abundance God will place inside those nets.

BECAUSE IF YOU CAN’T HEAVE THEM OVER THE SIDE, YOU’LL NEVER BE ABLE TO HEAVE IN THE ABUNDANCE GOD WILL PLACE IN THOSE NETS.

If you can’t give it, throw it. If you can’t release it gently, release it forcefully. If you can’t open your own hands, let someone open them for you. And if you find that you still can’t, even after all of that, it’s ok. Some of us need to WRESTLE.

God knows. He isn’t afraid of letting you wrestle. He’s not afraid that your struggle will affect his sovereignty, his ability to make all things new, his grace.

There is nothing you can say or do to make God love you any more or any less. Because his love isn’t tainted with sin. It is PERFECTLY. HOLY. WHOLE.

And he sees the weight of brokenness you carry on your shoulders.

And he just wants to take it.

It is a daily releasing sometimes. It is a repeating of obedience and trust that changes everything. It is one step, one movement at a time.

God never asked us to do easy things. He never even asked us to do possible things.

How do you move a mountain?

One shovel of dirt at a time.

How do you move a mountain?

You can’t. It’s impossible.

How do you move a mountain and change your life?

With faith in a God who can make all things possible.

Because he is making all things new and he will not stop when he gets to you.

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Christ Is Building His Kingdom Inside of Broken Vessels

We live in a world overcome with images. But mostly, we carry these images inside of us, always comparing, because searching for an identity is the core of what it means to be human.

Continue reading “Christ Is Building His Kingdom Inside of Broken Vessels”

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Listen to me. We are NEVER going back (R-rated)…

Let go of the people who say they love you but hold everything against you. Because true love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.

Let go of the people who tear down your dreams with wild words of incapable fears. Because real love always hopes. Continue reading “Listen to me. We are NEVER going back (R-rated)…”

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This Is What Healing Looks Like and What It Means.

 

Have you ever heard someone tell their story without a hint of shame?

In my senior year at Northwest University, we had a guest speaker; a man who had lived a wild life of parties and dark sexual pleasures. There he stood, with so much humility and joy and theatrical storytelling it was almost like he was telling someone else’s story. But he wasn’t. He lived every second of the heartache, the brokenness, the shame. And yet here he was: healed and thriving and generous and vulnerable.Continue reading “This Is What Healing Looks Like and What It Means.”

When Christians Go No Contact

There’s this philosophical argument for the validity of Christianity that goes like this: If Christianity is true, it means everything; if its false it means nothing.

The concept behind this thought process is a weighing out of what matters, of judging the importance of an issue or behavior. If Christianity is true, it matters more than any other belief I could have. If its not true, then Christianity has zero weight or meaning and I can completely disregard it.

What if we applied this reasoning to other beliefs or convictions we might hold?

I write a lot about mental illness, mental health, and healing on this blog. I write about boundaries and wrestling with forgiveness and going no contact, even if that means going no contact with family…with people you love but can’t be around because of how they treat you.

There is one question I didn’t ask myself for a while…What if my choice to go no contact is wrong? What does it cost me?

The initial choice to go no contact was never something I wrestled with. Not even once. I felt confident God was calling me to step away from certain relationships in my life. Almost more confident than any other choice I’ve made in my life. Maybe it is doubt. Maybe it is the desire to make sure I’m being obedient…

Whether it’s right or wrong, there is a consequence to my choice…and that consequence is lost time. Time. One of the most precious gifts we are given earth-side, and we only get a bit of it.

If I’m wrong, and I made a bad choice three years ago, what that choice has cost me is time with people I love. It’s cost me relationship. Memories.

But, if I made a good choice, dare I even say, a wise choice…then it’s fair to ask myself what I’ve gained and what I’ve lost for the better.

I don’t think it should ever be easy to choose to walk away from someone you love, even if it is absolutely the best choice you could make. When it’s hard it means you love them, it means you still grieve the broken relationship. It means your heart isn’t hard. And yes, that might look vastly different for different people.

If I made the “right” choice, then what I gained is freedom. I gained peace. I gained healing from PTSD. I gained confidence. I gained creativity and I gained a deeper understanding of what it means to refuse to allow someone to continually sin against you.

Sometimes what we gain after loss could only have been reached that way. Sometimes, in order to heal from brokenness you have to step away from what was breaking you in the first place.

It’s easy to see other people’s problems. Looking at your own is kind of like looking in the mirror after a hot shower. But if you’re willing and wise enough to stand there and wait for your reflection to grow clearer, you’ll see it.

God has a way of revealing our need for surrender when we stand still and let him reveal our brokenness. The places where we weren’t obeying him.

Consider this: Jesus commanded his disciples to shake the dust off their feet from towns where they weren’t welcome. So, why do we continuously put ourselves into abusive, unhealthy, dishonoring situations with people who refuse to treat us with commonly decency and respect? Do you realize that abuse is sin? And allowing it is enabling?

Now…I do believe there is A LOT of grace here. Sometimes, we don’t even know we’re living in an abusive relationship because it’s so normal to us. While these relationships still hurt the heart of God, I don’t believe God expects us to understand something we haven’t…understood yet. Very much like the woman at the well…who didn’t realize yet that she needed forgiveness and redemption until Jesus gently showed her his intent for her life and her need for a Savior.

Do you have a difficult/toxic/abusive/stressful/draining relationship in your life? I’d say there’s a high possibility you do.

Does this relationship cause fear/panic/nightmares/extreme stress/exhaustion/breakouts/rashes/lost sleep/binge eating/no eating/risky sexual behavior/erratic behavior/panic/panic attacks/blackouts/cold sweats or ANY extreme PHYSIOLOGICAL or EMOTIONAL responses?

I’m not talking about your brother who annoys you. Or your friend that has vastly different political views from you. Or your boss who is boring and no fun.

I’m talking about people who ABUSE you and USE you and make you wish you were DEAD. I’m talking about people who don’t respect you or think you have any value.

If you are having physiological responses to abusive people in your life, it’s time to consider stronger boundaries.

Maybe that means they aren’t allowed to text or email you. Maybe it means you block them on social media. Maybe it means you confront them head on. And maybe it means you choose to no longer be around that person.

It isn’t a sin to refuse to be abused any longer.

It isn’t a sin to decide you can no longer make excuses for people you love to treat you like you’re worthless.

Wherever you are at, you are not alone. You have a Heavenly Father who loves you and who will walk with you through every hurt that needs to be healed.

Listen To Your Gut.

I’m gonna tell you a little story inspired by my friend’s post today at Therapy For Black Men.

When my husband and I were dating, I would commonly take a back road from his house to mine. The highway wound through the foothills along the Cascade Mountains north of Seattle and connected both our houses. It wasn’t necessarily faster, but it FELT faster sometimes to just hop on the highway instead of spending 10 minutes driving through town to get to the freeway before heading home.

One night, I left Johnny’s house pretty late, around midnight. And I started driving to the highway, intending to take the back road home.

Something felt off. I had this feeling I should get off the highway and drive home on I-5 instead.

But I ignored the feeling and kept driving. Even choosing to stay on the back road when I came up to a side road that connected to the freeway.

As I drove along the back road the feeling got stronger and stronger. Until I got to a point where my heart was racing and I slowed down to about 20 miles an hour. I just knew something was wrong.

It was a VERY dark road with no lights AND it was raining.

I came over a small hill, still going VERY slow because of the incredible feeling I was having, and there across the road was a fallen tree.

It covered the entire road and it was HUGE. Probably a 100-150 year old cedar.

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I couldn’t believe I had had such a strong feeling about a fallen tree!!

I ended up having to turn around and go back to the side road to take I-5 home. Costing me almost 30 minutes.

I have never forgotten that night, and I don’t think I ever will. I learned a powerful lesson that night about listening to my gut, even when it doesn’t make sense and there is no physical evidence before me.

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In high school, I had an off feeling about a family friend, but told myself I was just being weird. He ended up going to jail for child molestation.

In my late teens and early twenties, I had an off feeling about a man I knew. But I told myself he joked around with everyone and it wasn’t really flirting, until the day he came onto me and I was so filled with fear that I was absolutely paralyzed by it, convinced he was going to rape me, but thankfully we were interrupted and I never spoke to him again.

As a middle-schooler, I remember feeling very uncomfortable around a friend‘s mom. Not unsafe, just the feeling that something wasn’t quite right. She ended up having an affair with another man, leaving her husband and children, having a baby that she gave up for adoption, and then moved out of state.

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Many of us have stories like this. In fact, I bet all of us do.

This feeling in your gut is called discernment. And God gave it to you.

To Discern [verb] – To perceive by the sight or some other sense or by the intellect; to see, recognize, or apprehend: to distinguish mentally; recognize as distinct or different; discriminate.

Listen to your gut. Learn to listen those feelings of unsettling. Invite God into the tension and ask, “Is this from you? You are welcome here.”

When you grow up in an abusive home, you are taught to ignore your most basic needs. The need for love, affection, touch, joy. You tell yourself over and over that you do not need these things like other people do, you tell yourself this so that you can survive living with your own broken heart. You tell yourself these things so that you can survive your own environment.

Every single time I ignored my gut feeling, I’ve regretted it. Sometimes, I have regretted it immensely, and ignoring the spirit of discernment cost me dearly. Other times it turned out only to be a small inconvenience. Other times, it just might have saved my life, like the fallen tree across a dark road at midnight.

Learning to trust your instincts, your gut, is a process for sure. It takes testing. It takes a lot of prayer. It takes confidence in yourself, and willingness to speak up. And you will make mistakes. But over time you come to listen to that still small voice of the Holy Spirit deep inside you, inside your very bones. and you learn to ask questions and to demand more from the people around you and you learn that who God has made you to be is enough in and of itself. Always, always we need more of him.

Do not be afraid to lean into that difficult space between discernment and action. Those difficult spaces are where growth happens.

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You Are Not Too Damaged. You Are Not Broken Beyond Repair: God Is Enough!

I hear it and read it all the time. But mostly I see it: people who have barricaded themselves inside walls built by trauma, lies, fear.

It doesn’t mater who built these walls.

What matters is that the walls are still standing.

And sometimes I think we actually repair these walls around us. We reinforce the structures because it hurts too much to chip away at them. It hurts too much to tear them down.

Here is what I’m telling you: if you believe you are too much for God to fix, you’ve already released the transformational power of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Lies. Are. Powerful.

And no one but God gets the final say.

You aren’t too much. Your story isn’t either.

When you are overwhelmed by your story, GOD IS NOT!

You aren’t the exception. There IS no exception for God. Exceptions and God cannot co-exist.

God is not shaking his head over you. Crying because he doesn’t know what to do. Seeking outside counsel over the complexities of your horrible decisions, the outcome of your life choices, the sheer number of your personal problems.

If you’re too much for God, he isn’t very big at all.

You aren’t stuck. You’re free.

If you’ve been abandoned, shamed, molested, raped, hit, hurt, assaulted, manipulated or abused in any way, it is not your fault. It doesn’t matter. There are no exceptions based on past history. There is no scream too loud. No trauma too dark. No anguish too much.

If God can sit in the dark with lions. If he can stand amongst the blue-orange coals of a furnace. If he can save a so-called worthless woman with a red cloth in a stone window. If he can raise the dead. If he can quake the earth underneath the death of his own body…

If he can raise up a Church amid the ruble of a barbaric empire. If he can sit beside the plagued. If he can inspire hymns of truth and raise up leaders to end slavery. If he can silence an army and bring hope inside of death camps and cause children to be born and reverse cancer and heal spines and source Forgiveness for the unfathomable… then he is CAPABLE of healing YOU!

GOD CAN HEAL YOU!!!!!!! Make you new. Transform you.

This isn’t about claiming some vague promise. This is about believing that God is capable of healing you and also KNOWING that your healing is for his glory and his alone, whatever it looks like and whatever he chooses to heal this side of heaven. It points to him. It is all for him and for his people to witness.

Never have I heard so many stories of healing as I have within the walls of The Church. Never have I witnessed lives changed forever like the ones I’ve seen marked by Jesus. Miracles like this simply do not happen elsewhere.

Fact: God is Infinite. He stands outside of time and space.

Fact: God did not design your body or your soul to endure sin. Sin is literally what kills us.

Fact: All sin affects the body and the soul. Abuse and Trauma are sins that deeply affect the body and soul because their aim is to destroy and, ultimately, kill you as quickly as possible. (Ponder this…it might actually blow your mind!)

Fact: There is only ONE remedy for sin. Jesus.

Fact: The Holy Spirit is God inside you.

Fact: God is not afraid that your brokenness is too much for him. LET. HIM. HEAL. YOU.

Remember how CS Lewis put it? We are not a body. We are a soul. We have a body.

If we want to heal our souls we will not find lasting healing outside of everlasting sources. Your true healing begins the day you realize that this world cannot satisfy your longing for wholeness.

Who better to heal you than the Healer who designed you?

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