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For The Christian Who STILL Wrestles With Mental Illness.

Can we start by talking about how exhausting it is to live with a mental illness? (Or four, preach!)

This week I sat across a friend of mine and listened to her talk about all the darkness and struggles she’s experiencing. We laughed and cried. We talked through truths and lies. I held her hand. We hugged goodbye. And I prayed I didn’t say anything stupid. Please, God. Because half of what I told her was to stop taking everything too seriously.


I’ve lived with mental illnesses since I was 12. At least, that’s when I first realized something was wrong.

Depression stole my hope. Anxiety stole my joy. Panic stole my breath.

It almost took me altogether. One snowy night in December when I just knew the end had come. I was 22 and exhausted, but by some miracle, I lived.

Exhaustion is part of it.

You just. Get. Exhausted.

Healing comes. It does. It comes, and it’s beautiful and stunning and surprising. But still, sometimes, your body remembers things it was never meant to remember. Technically, it’s called Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Sometimes, I make jokes about it. About how jumpy and overreactive I can be. (I think it’s a good sign if you can laugh about it!)

Here’s my question: why can veterans have PTSD and be “disabled” but regular people just have to go on living every day like it doesn’t exist??

(Not saying anything negative about PTSD in war! Goodness knows I can only imagine!)

But do you see what I’m saying??

It. Takes. Time. And we give so much grace to others and barely any to ourselves. We’d NEVER tell a firefighter to “get over it” or a soldier that “it’s not a big deal.” And while I can’t understand either of those realities, the things happening inside our bodies are all very similar. Maybe not exactly the same, but so similar they get the same diagnosis.

We are so hard on ourselves!!! And heaven forbid we laugh! Laugh at the dark thoughts we have. Laugh at the absurdity of living with a mind that’s been commandeered by events that happened in our childhoods or teen years or whenever…

I’m starting to think that half the problem with mental illness is that we take it so seriously. We take it on as an IDENTITY when it’s NOT AN IDENTITY – IT IS A WOUND.

Look. I’ve lived this. I don’t live it every day anymore, but it was my daily life for twenty-plus years, so, I think I have some authority for a voice in this conversation.

If we can’t learn to give ourselves grace, take the hard days with a grain of salt, and laugh through it, we probably won’t survive – that’s just the God honest truth of it all – and we certainly won’t come out on the other side of mental illness happy and healed and whole, living rich emotional and relational lives, finding joy in small moments.

I’m still here. I’m winning. The darkness that has wanted me gone so many times hasn’t overtaken me yet. Overwhelmed me? Yes. Overtaken? No. Because I’m a fighter, and every ounce of healing I find just proves to me that healing is mine for the taking.

Might I walk with a limp sometimes? Yes.

Guess what? It’s possible to survive this. Survive the hate. The fear. The raw bitterness. The terror and that sinking pit that wants to eat you alive. Survive whatever happened to you that should never have happened.

You would NEVER look at a first responder with a limp or a missing limb or a wound and think “you have no value, you shouldn’t be here.” Yet we are walking with invisible wounds, living inside them every day, and we tell ourselves the most horrible things.

You exist outside of your mental illness, your trauma. Those are wounds that happened to you. They are not you.

I believe that one day, every tear will be wiped away.

I believe that one day, all our wounds will be healed – not just the visible ones, but the INvisible ones. The ones we try to hide and the ones we beat ourselves up over.

It’s ok to learn to walk with a limp. It’s also ok, to strive for deeper and deeper healing.

I believe full healing is possible. But I also know we live in a broken world. I know that grief can literally kill you. I know that some wounds are so deep they break you in ways we don’t have words for.

This is the tension we live in. That already but not yet tension of light and darkness that doesn’t just wrestle in the world around us, but inside our very minds and souls.

You are still here. That alone is a miracle.

I don’t know if I will ever completely stop mourning all the things that have been stolen from me or all the lies that have been spoken over me. But this I DO KNOW – I am here. I am strong. A bad day or a bad week doesn’t mean I haven’t come far in this healing journey. It doesn’t mean I am weak or bad. It just means I’m human. It just means I’m experiencing the brokenness of the world.

God has not left or given up. He isn’t mad that you’re not “all better” yet.

He is good. And kind. And he never grows weary or faint. He never sleeps or grows tired. He is never shocked that trauma deeply affects us. He who filled the oceans and fashioned the layers of the earth is not weak or fearful.

Stand tall, my friend. You are not alone. And you never have been.

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A Different Christian Perspective on Redeeming Love…

*Trigger Warning – this book discusses child sexual abuse, human trafficking, and adult sexual behavior. We also discuss these topics in this post.

I’m a bit late to this conversation. I know.

Conservative Christian influencers have been discussing this book for weeks, ever since the movie was released. After hearing the movie had a decent amount of sex scenes in it, I figured it would be mostly boycotted. Boycotted might be too strong of a word, but “discouraged” seems too generous, so, its something in-between.

I want to start out by saying that I read Redeeming Love once, about five years ago, and I haven’t seen the movie yet.

I hope to share a different perspective on the book, give you a bit of a crash course in literary interpretation, and leave you with a few thoughts to ponder.

I have so much respect for many of the women sharing their opinions of this book, I just happen to disagree with their conclusions.

Let’s get started.


The First Questions

When discussing literature, you must start with the two most important questions a reader can ask: who is the intended audience, and what is the author’s intent for the book?

If you don’t start with these two questions, you end up going in blind. You completely disregard the author, the entire process of his/her writing, and the main reason they even wrote the story.

These are the first two questions you ask whether you are reading fiction or non-fiction, but, obviously, you are going to have very different answers between the genres. Because fiction has something non-fiction does not: an entire world created inside the author’s imagination where they function in god-like power over the story.

In literature it doesn’t matter who the reader thinks the audience is, it matters who the author says it is. The author is the creator of the world you’re reading. They are the omnipotent guide of the story. Nothing happens without the author.

Fiction can be a powerful tool for teaching truth, but when it comes to Christian Fiction specifically, we need to remember as readers, that this isn’t scripture, it’s a story, and even if it might have elements of truth in it, that’s all it is: a story with elements of truth. It’s not the Bible. It’s not inspired. It’s not “extra Biblical” in any sense. It’s story.

When it comes to Redeeming Love, we need to remember that it is fiction. The world the author creates is from her imagination. It has elements of history, but barely, its only historical in it’s setting. The point of the story isn’t to teach us about the wild west. Not in this story. In this story, the time in which everything takes place functions as a setting, a stage to tell the rest of the story upon. The setting isn’t the story itself…if that makes sense.

Who Is The Intended Audience?

Much of the negative feedback I’ve seen is from people who read the book as a teen and said it gave them unrealistic expectations of the man they would marry. This is precisely what Allie Beth Stuckey said, and while I have so much respect for her as a sister in Christ, I have other thoughts.

One. Stuckey’s experience is NOT the author’s fault. I dare say the author didn’t intend Redeeming Love to be read by hormonal 14 and 15-year-olds. This is a book for adults!

Two. I would ask if there is any Christian romance or secular romance that doesn’t do this. It is kind of the purpose of the genre: to romanticize.

Three. Should we also not read Jane Eyre or Pride and Prejudice or Les Miserables or Little Women? Those novels also give unrealistic expectations of men, or is that ok because they aren’t “Christian”?

It’s almost like Stuckey thinks women can’t differentiate between fiction and reality, or that the fiction of Redeeming Love is just too influential. If we are incapable of discussing Christian Historical Romance within it’s fictional context, goodness knows we likely have no business reading or engaging in anything secular – to consume stories is to invite conversation. The two go hand-in-hand.

If I had to guess, I’d say the intended audience for Redeeming Love is married, Christian women with a history of sexual abuse and brokenness who long for God to redeem their sexuality into what God originally intended.

This is extreemly specific, and do you see how this immeadiately changes the intent of the book?

If you read Redeeming Love as a teen, you likely weren’t the inteded audiance. Again, this isn’t the author’s fault. It’s your mother’s.

Surprise! It isn’t an authors job to make sure your teen understands the nuances of her story, it’s yours. Half the reason authors write their stories is to foster conversation. Discussion is usually the point of controversy in novels, because it gets the reader asking questions they wouldn’t otherwise ask. The author makes you uncomfortable on purpose.

If your mother had no idea what you were reading, or assumed it was fine because it was a “Christian book”, that’s not on the author. Your mother should have read the book first and discussed it with you as a work of fiction set inside a romanticized, false reality. And even if you didn’t have a mother willing or capable of having such a conversation with you, it still isn’t the author’s fault that you read her book and fantacized about a man like the one in the book. That clearly isn’t the point of the book. You, as a young reader, were simply too immature to pick up on this and gravitated toward what best served you within the narrative.

The intended audience absolutely matters, and teen girls isn’t it.

What Is The Author’s Intent In Writing The Book?

Second, the author’s intent for the story matters.

This is the second question you ask when analyzing literature.

Redeeming Love is NOT theology. Its fiction. This is not a retelling of the book of Hosea. It’s a story LOOSELY based on a book of the Bible. Loosely.

Alisa Childers, who I also have deep respect for, made this the key point in her analysis of the novel, but I believe she’s taking the story far too seriously and, more importantly, not as the author intended.

To assume Redeeming Love is an accurate retelling of Hosea is to completely miss the mark. You are assuming something the author never said. Francine Rivers never said it was a work of theology or an allegory, becuase it’s not. She took characters out of a book in the Bible and completely reimagined a fictional story set in a different time, era, country, and added any and all characters and events that she wanted to.

The point of the book isn’t to retell Hosea. The point of the book is that God cares about our sexual brokenness and longs to heal us to a point where we feel no fear and can be completely intimate with another human in the confines of marriage and that story is inspired by Hosea.

Rivers also has similar themes in other books she has written based on women of the Bible.

This is why there is a genre specifically for such depictions, it’s called allegory.

Redeeming Love is no more an allegory of Hosea than “King George and the Ducky” is an allegory of King David committing adultery with Bathsheba. Allegory and “creative retellings” are NOT the same, EVEN IF they draw on the same themes.

Rivers depicts the struggles and realities of such a healing journey in her own way, inside her own created story.

I daresay, Redeeming Love is the only Christian book I know of that does this. If there are other’s out there, please send the titles to me.

I know of no other fiction book, written for Christian women, that celebrates their sexuality and portrays God as celebrating it too. Celebrating it to the point of wanting to healing our sexual brokenness completely.

I’ve never even read a Christian book that deals this much with human trafficking, child sexual assault, or brothels.

The reason you cry at the end of this story, is because you feel everything the main character feels. And the only way for that to happen, is to show it through story.

Christian Liberty

As Christians, we have been given the gift of Christan Liberty. This means that while God draws clear lines for many things, there are others that he does not.

God tells his people that sex is to be between one man and one woman within the confines of a covenantal marriage. He doesn’t say you can’t have oral sex with your husband. Some people might love it. Some people seriously hate it. This is an example of Christian Liberty. If you and your spouse enjoy it, go for it! If you don’t, don’t.

Stories. Movies. Music. Art. Dance. These are expressions of creativity that God gives to us.

There’s this idea that if something is Christian that means it’s appropriate for everyone. This just isn’t true at all, and its ridiculous to apply this idea to Christian fiction. I would never let my young teen daughter read Redeeming Love.

Is it wrong for a Christian to write about Human Trafficking fictionally? No.

Is it wrong for a Christian to write a mild sex scene between a husband and a wife? I think you have to judge that for yourself. But don’t overlook the author’s intent and intended audience. (Remember we are talking about the book here, not the movie.)

If you say yes, then I’d ask, is it wrong for Christian’s to write about sex at all? Many Christian authors and pastors and doctors have written books for Christian’s on sex. I’ve read them. Is this wrong too? Or is it only wrong when it’s fiction?

Can we be super honest? If you’re 15, it doesn’t matter much what you read, basically, everything turns you on. Let’s be real, a kiss in a book turns you on. There doesn’t even have to be sex.

Final Thoughts

The conversation on romance, women’s lit, fiction, and Christian romance in particular is an incredibly overdue conversation. Some of this is nuanced. Some is just plain black and white. Some falls under Christian Liberty, but we’ll never get to a point where we work through it all if we never talk about it. These conversations are good! Even if you draw different conclusions from me.

We live a world where we are told every single day to give in to our sexual urges. We are told that we can do whatever we want, with whoever we want, and as long as it’s consensual, we’ll be fine and have fun and have zero regrets.

But we know these are lies.

Have you ever even considered that God wants you to be healed from whatever sexual brokeness you have SO THAT you can enjoy sex with your spouse in a way that is pure and intimate and free of fear? Because that is how God designed sex to be, and that stuns me!

I wholeheartedly believe that is the point of Redeeming Love. And when I read it as a married woman for the first time, I was so thankful I hadn’t read it as an unmarried woman. Because by the time I’d read Redeeming Love, I had already experienced what it meant to be loved by a man who was willing to walk softly into my brokeness and fears. I think, if you haven’t lived through love like that, its hard to understand the depth of the story in a tangible way.

Ultimately, I think this book is necessary. The conversations it carries within its pages are worth it. How else are we going to tell these stories? How else do we openly talk about God healing sexual brokenness? How else do we portray the struggle and the sheer length of time it takes to heal from sexual abuse? I know I’m not the only Christian who longs for more Christian fiction that dares to portray this journey. Christian fiction that isn’t always G-rated.

Do we need to be careful with what we expose ourselves to? Yes. Absolutely.

Is this book good for everyone? No. Not even a little.

I have a friend who couldn’t get past the first few chapters of this book because it triggered her so badly. The childhood sexual assault she’d endured had deeply wounded her, and reading Redeeming Love was just too much.

For some women, Redeeming Love will be G-rated compared to what she’s endured. For someone else, it might be the steamiest story she’s ever read.

I do believe this book honors God, marriage, and women. I don’t believe it’s for teens or even all adults.

Use the discernment God gives you.

Fiction Can Offer What Non-Fiction Can’t

I follow a woman on Facebook who grew up in a cult and was openly sexually abused by her father for years. The abuse got so bad she tried to commit suicide, twice.

This incredible woman found Jesus, healing, and justice and wrote a book about it. But, not everyone can handle telling their story in a memoir. Sometimes, fiction offers us a creative outlet for our pain, because fiction is art.

A writer can create a false reality in which to tell a truth. In Redeeming Love, it’s the story of child sexual assault and trafficking…and then Jesus, healing, and justice. The only difference is, it’s fiction.

This isn’t a conversation Christians have. We don’t sit around the fire and talk about the power of fiction or how stories can shape cultures or justice issues or open conversations. But, all the same, this is what fiction does.

Think of the impact of the simple story of The Emperors New Clothes. Think of The Scarlett Letter. Think of To Kill a Mockingbird.

These are stories we carry inside us. They have shaped cultures, thoughts; and they still do.

You don’t have to read a story you feel convicted of. But, do you feel convicted or do you feel uncomfortable? These emotions are not the same thing.

Are you reading to learn or reading to lust? Are you reading to better understand the broken or are you reading for your own pleasure? What if we understood that some stories aren’t necessarily for our entertainment, but for us to learn something?

We must be willing to ask ourselves these questions, because our children are reading and encountering stories like this and far more graphic everyday. If we can’t answer these questions for ourselves, how will we ever help our children answer them?

We must be willing to consider the purpose of fiction.

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People Are Usually Fine With Boundaries…As Long As They’re Temporary And You Don’t Actually Mean It.

Let’s get right to it.

Even in the most dysfunctional families…those families where the cops get called to every gathering…family members generally accept boundaries, so long as they’re temporary, and don’t last longer than what the group deems acceptable.

Your brother might punch you in the face and you might not talk to him for two months. Your parents might make threats to your livelihood or children and you might tell them not to come over anymore. Or maybe your younger sibling has a wild party at your house while you’re out of town.

Even the most unhealthy people would expect some sort of reaction or response.

But what if your boundaries become permanent? Or what if your boundaries require some sort of action or change?

What if you tell the younger sibling they are no longer welcome at your home? Or at the very least never allowed to house-sit again? Your unhealthy family members might tell you you’re being harsh and unfair. They might even badger you relentlessly until you change your mind.

What they really want from you is an emotional, temporary response that doesn’t really lead to any lasting change but sort of “protests” without any true conviction or backbone. Because you obviously can’t do nothing, but just don’t do “too much.”

You Aren’t The Exception

I have an acquaintance (let’s call her Amber) who’s husband is addicted to heroin and gambling. His parents are well off and are incredibly enabling, bailing him out whenever he calls.

Amber loves him. Of course, she loves him. He’s promised for over a decade to get clean and stay that way. A decade of hell and loss and pain and so so so much suffering.

His parents don’t mind when she kicks him out, so long as it’s only for a punishment and so long as its not permanent.

Can you imagine how different all their lives would be if someone just stood up and finally said, “No more!” No more bailing you out. No more money. No more excuses.

Abuse victims NEED to hear this; it’s the hard truth but it’s true: YOU ARE NOT THE EXCEPTION. You are the rule. You are the rule every single time until you stand up.

When you keep living like you’re the exception you will keep ACCEPTING painful, sinful behaviors in your life with no regard to your future, your health, your children, or your own worth.

You might be the victim of someone else’s actions. But there is no excuse for being the victim of your own. Healing means you are willing to risk your fear for the sake of what is good and true.

Some Boundaries Will be Temporary

If you set a boundary with someone who truly loves you and wants to changes and be healthy, they will accept your boundary.

Children throw fits. Adults don’t. If you set a boundary and the response is a fit, you’ve got an Adult-Child on your hands. Behave accordingly. Be firm and clear about what you need and why. They broke your trust. It’s up to them to rebuild what they broke. Be honest and fair and be willing to let them rebuild trust with wisdom. It’s ok to be extremely cautious here!!

Some Boundaries Are Permanent

Some people, for whatever reason, choose to remain how they are. They do not want to change. They do not want to grow. They do not wish for healthy relationships. They are not vulnerable or real. They are very self-centered and proud.

I feel sorry for people like this. Because they miss out on all of the best parts, the most beautiful parts, that life has to offer.

They miss the middle of the night phone calls because you are their safe place. They miss living vulnerably in community with others. Mostly, they tend to miss sacred, intentional moments of beauty and worship and intimacy. These people never really grow up or wake up. They are like shadows of who they were created to be, and perhaps that is why some stay so long trying to toss out rescue lines these people refuse to grab.

Some boundaries in your life will be permanent. You might even set a boundary with someone with every intent of it being temporary, and the person gets so offended they leave your life forever. As long as your boundary was wise, someone else’s response has nothing to do with you.

If you require your physically abusive spouse to get counseling and he refuses, that’s all the answer you need right there. He will not change…he doesn’t want to. Rule. Not the exception.

If you break relationship with someone you love, and you tell them, Ok, here is what I need you to do to rebuild trust with me…and they actually do it, consider yourself extremely blessed. This is rare in my experience. It almost never happens.

Stay Strong

I know what it’s like to set a boundary with someone I love and watch the relationship fall to bits before my eyes.

It doesn’t matter if you are the only one in your family. It doesn’t matter if you were the only person who stood up and said, I will not take this anymore. Stand anyway.

It doesn’t matter if everyone wants you to stay in an abusive marriage/relationship. Doing what is right usually makes unhealthy people very upset.

But be warned. Get ready for lies to be told about you and the circumstances surrounding your choices. There is a 100% chance you will be misrepresented. Get ready to lose friendships and relationships. Brace yourself for the smear campaigns because they will come.

Side note: If someone tells you you’re deranged and need to go to a mental hospital but won’t go to counseling or talk about their past traumas, they are projecting their view of their own self onto you, and what they said has no basis in reality. (This is a very common tactic with Narcissistic Abusers.)

But none of it has anything to do with you. These people… Whoever they are in your life… Whether they are friends or family or in-laws or children or parents or coworkers…they live in their own little universes that likely revolve solely around them.

Final Thoughts

You’ll know if it’s right if you feel instant and sudden relief. If you start to be able to breathe and eat and sleep again. If your heartbeat calms a little.

Abuse has such a physiological affect on our bodies. Because we are not just bodies. We are souls first and foremost.

You can do hard things.

You can do impossible things.

You can set whatever boundaries you need to live a life of peace and growth that honors God and honors yourself as a Child of God.

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Forced Vaccination for All: Freedom vs. Coercion

We keep being told we have a choice. We keep hearing that word…”choice”, but I don’t think it means what the MSM thinks it means.

Taking away someone’s freedoms over and over until they comply is NOT choice. It is, in fact, the opposite of choice.

We’ve been told we “need to reach herd immunity” and get to “80% vaccination rates” – we have in most places…so herd immunity either works or it doesn’t. Seems like it doesn’t.

Many hospitals have reported over a 99% vaccination rate. So why do they care about 1%? Even 5-10%? We know employers, the CDC and FDA and NIH, and the government don’t care about natural immunity, even though natural immunity is far better and longer lasting than vaccine-induced immunity. These organizations have refused basic science. They merely want compliance.

Here’s the thing about freedom…it only bothers the people who want to take it away from you. Of course, these people won’t call it “taking away your freedom”…no, no, no…they will call it something else. They will call it “science” or “morality” or “ethics” or “job security”. They would never call it what it actually is. This is what abusers do.

Step one: change the terminology. Step two: ignore science, data, facts, and common sense in order to gain control. Step three: make anyone who doesn’t comply look crazy. Step four: tell people “it’s for their own good”.

ALL abusers follow patterns of behaviour. Abuse IS a pattern of behaviour. And it works…that is why it keeps happening.

All abusers want the same thing. All abusers want control. Some take it a step further and want worship.

Voluntary consent is STILL the foundation of medical ethics. Whether or not the government says so.

Governments are wrong all. the. time.

Doctor’s cannot legally or ethically force a patient to consent to anything.

A doctor cannot force someone to even so much as drink water, let alone inject a substance into their bodies in order to live as free subjects in a republic.

A doctor can’t even force someone to be given CPR for heaven’s sake.

Whether or not someone is vaccinated has NO BEARING on the health of others. The flu vaccine doesn’t prevent transmission or infection. Neither does the tDap. And yet those with vaccination feel comfortable to travel to places like Mexico – a developing nation – for vacation, and yet they don’t feel safe going to the doctor because 5% of the people there might not be vaccinated? Give me a break.

Fear is now the second largest contributor to hospitalization and death from covid. And who is pushing the fear? Not the “anti-vaxxers”…it’s the ones “following the science”.

We literally live in a world where more people are dying of covid complications due to fear than they are of diabetes or heart disease.

Who’s killing people now?

It doesn’t matter if you disagree with someone’s choice. It only matters that they have the freedom to make their choices.

Freedom: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Coercion: the practice of persuading someone to do something by using force or threats.

Coercion Has No Place in a Republic

As Americans we have the right to total bodily autonomy and freedom. We have the right to believe in and consent to any medical interventions we may or may not want.

The government should never have the power to tell someone that they can no longer provide for their families if they do not submit to a medical procedure. How disturbing is that?

Our Founding Father’s acknowledged a basic truth that has set America apart from every other country on earth: our rights do not come from the government, they come from God. This fact does not change in the face of illness or fear.

I implore you to consider the weight of what so many are proposing we give up. The foundation of this argument is simple…should the government and private employers have the right to force people to consent to medical procedures, especially to procedures still in testing, in order to care for and provide for their families?

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Biblical Authority. Government. And a Christian’s Duty?

Read Romans 13 and it seems pretty clear: Christ followers ought to obey and honor the government, including paying taxes.

In fact, Jesus himself tells people to pay taxes and respect authority.

Seems pretty straightforward.

Except for Miriam, Esther, David, Johnathan, Jael, Jonah, Joshua, Caleb, Rahab, Samson, Jesus, all the disciples and Paul himself…who wrote Romans 13 while likely a avoiding arrest for disobedience to the Roman Empire.

No where in Scripture do we see Miriam punished for disobeying pharaohs order to kill her infant brother. Nowhere in Scripture do we see Esther punished for planning a coup against Hamman or for pleading for justice for her people. Or David for defying Saul. Or Rahab for hiding spies. Or Joshua for crossing into the boarders of another nation. Or Jonah for defying the laws of Nineva to preach. Or Paul for evading arrest.

Paying taxes and following common laws of order and property is one thing. But when The Gospel, The Church, or the lives of innocent people are at stake, there is a clear Biblical precedence: Christians are no longer under any obligation by God to obey. On the contrary: God empowers his people with supernatural boldness, grace, humility, and authority to fight against injustice, whether it is against a single individual or an entire generation.

We also see this same pattern in Christians standing against false religions and false doctrines.

When the ruling of a government results in death, agony, or cruelty the people of God have always stood their ground.

This pattern continued on after the Biblical story ended. It continued on with Saint Augustine, Martin Luther, William and Catherine Booth, Corrie Ten Boom, Rosa Parks and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Theresa.

It continues on everyday all across the world as Christians boldly proclaim the Gospel and send humanitarian aid to foreign countries.

Most recently, a single Christian non-profit raised TWENTY TWO MILLION DOLLARS in 48 hours to aid the Afghani people and American Citizens abandoned by our President.

I’m gonna say something offensive and I mean every. last. word of it: when governments fail, the people of God ALWAYS step up first. ALWAYS.

It was Christians who fought to end slavery and expose it’s true brutality.

It was Christians who began the fight against human trafficking. (William and Catherine Booth – Founders of the Salvation Army)

It was Christians who hid Jewish people, smuggled them food, executed their torturers.

And it is Christians who fight for the unborn. Every day. Relentlessly.

And now my point…

When the government stands up and the tells the people of God how to gather its church together, how to worship or even if we are allowed to do so, what must or must not be done in our places of worship, they’ve crossed the line from “order” to injustice. We are not obligated to obey. Just as the early church was not.

I never sang so loud in church, as I did the Sunday after my Governor told people of faith we were no longer allowed to sing together. What madness!!

When the actions of the government results in suicide and self harm and abuse and depression and fear, they have ignored the justice of God and his intent for the role of government and Christ Followers will be on the front lines of those calling out our officials.

When the orders of the government KILL people but are touted as “for the greater good” the entire Biblical Narrative, and I dare say every voice in Heaven, stands up as an authority and demands truth and justice.

Not equity. Not social justice. Not comprise. JUSTICE. The justice of God against inhuman levels of destruction and death and despair.

Church. You were absolutely born for such a time as this.

This stopped being about the things and started being about the people a long time ago.

The Church of Jesus Christ does not bow to anyone but him. We can be good citizens and boldly stand for truth at the same time.

Boldness and humility are not at war with each other; they only make one another more stunning to behold.

This Sunday, when you go to church, sing with all the freedom you have in Christ. Hug someone. Smile!! Dare to lean into someone else’s suffering.

If we are not the light in this darkness, there will not be a light. If we are not the open arms in the the midst of this season, there will be no open arms.

We are it, friends.

We are the face of Jesus to the crowds. Whether your crowd be a small town of 200 or the middle of Brooklynn.

Truth follows Jesus whoever he goes. And may truth follow you also.

And may you go in peace, with the boldness of Christ into whatever place he calls you.

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The Stories We Tell & The People Who Wound Us

I’m very careful about the stories I tell here. Primarily, because I know that sharing my stories will harm people I love dearly.

I stick to generalities. Don’t give names. Rarely even refer to specific people. NEVER give descriptions.

Continue reading “The Stories We Tell & The People Who Wound Us”
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10 Things Healthy People Do When They Love A Toxic Person

I could probably write an entire chapter as an intro to the blog post, but I won’t.

Everyone has difficult people in their lives. And if you haven’t yet, you certainly will. Unfortunately, toxic people are easy to find, although they don’t always come off as toxic at first.

Continue reading “10 Things Healthy People Do When They Love A Toxic Person”
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What If We Loved Our Children So Much It Changed The World

Every night I go into their room. I pull up the covers. I kiss them. I touch their cheeks. And I whisper a prayer for them to love Jesus and for Him to always be near to them.

Continue reading “What If We Loved Our Children So Much It Changed The World”
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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.

Continue reading “You Are A Story: And You Have The Right To Tell It”
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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.

Continue reading “The Body of Christ Needs Women. Women Who Go Forth and Go Out.”
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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.

Continue reading “The Church Needs You. And It Needs All Of You.”
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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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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.”

Human Trafficking Is Closer & More Prolific Than We Realize

A woman sits in her living room, comfortably chatting with new friends from church.

Over cups of decaf and cookies, and between the sounds of their children playing tag outside, they chat about music, homeschooling, and their favorite movies and books.

“My friend is writing a book right now. It’s about human trafficking. I just finished reading the first draft.”

A stillness settles over the guests as they listen to the premise of the story, and then, one of them hangs their head and whispers, “I was trafficked as a child.”

Shock. Shame. Silence. What do you even say?

“I’m so sorry that happened to you.”

Tears. And then, a story is poured out the way water pours out from a tipped jug. Safety. It only needed safety and willing listeners.


Five months ago, I sat across from two detectives as they told me story after story of trafficking. Now, these stories live inside my book.

Girls disappearing and showing up days later at a hotel near an international airport – getting ready to disappear forever. Family members who sell their sons and daughters. Human predators hiding in plain sight.

This post isn’t meant terrify you, but also, it’s meant to terrify you – because this is real, and it’s happening everyday.

Children showing up on porn sites. Rapes recorded and published for the world. Fathers who take their daughters to wide-open PUBLIC places like the mall, Six Flags, or Disney Land and then stand guard as they sell their daughter over and over to men who blend in perfectly to the crowd.

Selling a human is illegal, yet nearly half a million slaves currently exist in America and precious few people are even willing to listen to the facts.

Sure, some stories get covered. The big, exotic ones. Like this one involving an Anesthesiologist and his girlfriend, South Korean women, and some upscale condos.

Or this one, where a father brutally murdered a young man who trafficked his daughter for a $1000 in Seattle.

Or this story of a police sting that allowed over 50 men to go free because of a legal oversight.

Native women have one of the highest rates of trafficking in the US. And after living on a reservation for five years I believe it because I’ve seen it. The darkness here is so real it takes my breath away sometimes. I know what goes on in some of these houses. And I know distrust of law enforcement only complicates the issue.


Every day, 116,000 queries related to child pornography are received.

Every day, 68 MILLION search queries related to pornography- 25% of total searches- are generated. 

Human Trafficking is the third most profitable black market commodity in the world, followed only by drugs and weapons. While pornography generates approximately $97 BILLION dollars a year, human trafficking weighs in at a staggering $150 BILLION a year industry – perpetuated by everyone from family members to gangs to pimps to back-street brothels.

It is easy to think this only happens in major cities. Port cities. Vegas. And while it’s true that port cities and Vegas do attract trafficking crimes, trafficking also happens in small towns.


What can we do?

  1. We can stop participating in ANYTHING that portrays sexual violence, rape, or coercion as good or desirable.
  2. We can talk to our kids openly about their bodies, sex, and what kinds of touch are appropriate.
  3. If you want to be safe, you have to actually BE SAFE…learn to respond in a way that is non-reactive, humble, and slow…yes, even to your kids.
  4. We can support anti-human-trafficking groups individually and within our churches.
  5. We can be brave enough to listen to someone else’s story, even if we don’t know what to say or how to respond.
  6. We can report any suspicious activity.

Putting your hands over your ears and humming doesn’t make human trafficking disappear.

The only way to expel darkness is to be so fully present that it cannot exist.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

Edmund Burke

Open The Churches! We Were Never Told To Stop Gathering.

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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