When Grace Meets Consequence

We preach love and grace but often forget to explain the harsh reality that may come along with the actions of a person’s decisions. Almost giving the false notion that “grace” exempts us from judgment and often harsh consequences. It is a dangerous and in my opinion, false way of viewing the gospel of Jesus.

Throughout His word, He warns us and challenges and sometimes commands morality. Not because He wants a dull life. On the contrary, because He doesn’t want us to have to deal with all that comes with choosing sin. I say choose because yes, it is a choice. I am not ignorant enough to know that sometimes things are out of our control BUT we know when we fail on purpose. He wants a life lived well and lived abundantly. Free from guilt, shame and the self-inflicted weight that sin brings.

There is a fine line. I encourage you to walk it with caution. Never underestimating His grace and his power to forgive. Equally never overlooking the pain that comes simultaneously with the web of lies, deceit, and immorality. The weight of sin is not a joke and not meant to take lightly. Christ suffered and gave His life to cover it. But it is our responsibility to work out our salvation. Not to earn but to appreciate and value the gift that was given.

As a cliché example, having sex outside of marriage is common. Many of my friends are single moms and dads because they chose not to wait. There was no commitment. Just sex. Just sex is never simple. We commit with our bodies, and souls meet. Intimate moments and naked bodies ingrained into our memories. Lust, desires, envy, shame, guilt, pain, jealousy, all brought on from CHOOSING to have sex outside of marriage. Do you want to know how I can say that? Because it happened to me. I will tell you the truth because of how it has affected not only myself but others around me.

Choosing to gossip tarnishes your character, breaking the law ruins reputation, taking drugs or getting drunk may do both as well as possibly taking your life. We say and do things out of emotion and carelessness but lack the mindset that our choice may cause a lasting effect on ourselves or others.

A character is earned and shouldn’t be given automatically just because we say we are forgiven and Christian. It should do just the opposite. We should hold ourselves to a higher standard because of who we represent.

I encourage you today, to ask for forgiveness and to appreciate the weight that was lifted when you chose to become a Christian. I also encourage you, to tell the truth of what sin can do. Don’t settle for allowing the enemy to make light of how truly detrimental one decision can do to change your life forever. It is because of LOVE that this truth has to be said. It is because of LOVE that I never want you to live less than a whole, I love you enough to not want you to remain broken.

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One Well of a Woman

Willing to share it with anyone willing to lie. To lie in her arms, to lie in her bed. Her well runs deep with love. Spilling every bit of herself, quenching the thirst of any man while dehydrating her own.

She avoided confrontation. The looks and stares, she got what she needed to survive in the heat of the day. Away from the other women who would indeed degrade.

But there was one man unwilling to lie. To allow her to lie to herself. A man who saw past the shallow response and committed to diving deep into her soul. Without a bucket, He got to the bottom of that well of lies she so effortlessly spilled. Drenched with shame, her well, remained dry.

He told her everything she ever did. Who is this man?

A man who needed to go to this place just to meet this woman right where she was, in hiding. This man who left His friends and their opinions behind to look into her eyes and tell her that she was worth more. Worth so much in fact that He would soon die for her.

The once harlot branded woman was let in on the secret. A secret she believed and was given permission to share. She went on to confront the men who accepted her lies and she told them the truth. That she was changed, that she was loved. Her newfound boldness dragged out of hiding and into the crowd, making her one well of a woman.

What kind of love is this? The kind that brings life to a thirsty soul. A love unconditional enough to change our condition.

Broken, ashamed, filled with regret, and blocked from a community with others. We hide out just like this woman. We exert more energy than necessary just to stay hidden. Avoiding the confrontation that could set us free.

But Jesus, the one who calls us deeper still and who meets us where we are. Who wants us to dig into our own well of lies. The ones we so easily shrug off as unimportant to mention. The decision is yours to make, to dig deep or to stay in hiding.

Want to dig deeper? Here are a few challenges to help get you started: 

Read  John 4 and take a few notes of what sticks out to you. 

What do your five husbands represent?

Make a list and write it out. If you are having a difficult time, ask Jesus to show you. This is a list to be shared between only you and Him. A list of things that you avoid and hide or that may be keeping you from having a community with others.    

Admit that you have been messing up

It may be keeping you from living a full life. Admit that you may have been wrong so you can do something about it.

Ask for forgiveness.

There is no right or wrong way to do this. Just be open and honest with Jesus as you talk to Him.

Accept His love

Part of truly knowing Jesus is knowing that He loves YOU. That He loves you so much that He won’t allow you to stay the same. He wants you to let go of the compromise and to accept a life full of freedom. Oh, and please know that just like this woman, Jesus died for you, too. There is no sin too great or too big for Him.

Step into community

Realize that NO one is perfect. The more open and honest you are with yourself and others the deeper friendships can go.

It will not be easy

Actually, it can prove to be really embarrassing and honestly hurts. No one likes to admit that they aren’t perfect. I promise you will be okay and you can get through this.

Repeat. There is always more that Jesus wants to bring out. It’s not fun but it is necessary if you want to know Him more and to live your life to the fullest. Never stop digging deep.

P.S. I love you and will be praying for YOU as you challenge yourself.

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Loves me not- for anyone feeling unwanted

For hours at a time, you wonder how different things could’ve, should’ve or would’ve been; if only:

If only I were better looking. If only I didn’t make as many mistakes. If only I tried harder, made more money or was skinnier. If only I weren’t, me. Maybe I would be happier. Maybe I wouldn’t still be alone. Maybe, but maybe not.

Let’s be real. Dating is awkward. You meet someone through mutual friends, similar lifestyles or a promising dating site. Then much like a job interview, you rehearse every move. Certain to reveal only the very best self at all cost.

Inevitably, mistakes will be made. Your best outfit won’t always be clean. Your makeup-less face will be exposed. The quirks will come out. Oh, and I hate to spoil it for you but everyone farts.

The perfect individual you put forth so much effort into becoming will eventually grow tired. All of the dating advice you took will go out the window the second they decide that you “just aren’t what I’m looking for.”

Sounds fun, right? Well, it can be but we are doing it wrong.

Instead of trying to be perfect, why don’t you try being yourself? The you that you are without an audience. Whether you are a silly weirdo, a nerd, or actually the coolest person to walk the earth. Whatever you are, be it one hundred percent. One hundred percent of the time.

If you are desperately trying to alter your personality into what you think someone else wants, you will be disappointed, and so will they. At some point, you will either get sick of living the lie, or they will fall in love with a fraud. You might even grow resentment toward something you chose to do.

You might have experienced being cheated on or were the unfaithful one. Maybe you have never been given a chance, yet somehow feel the bitterness of feeling unwanted. Regardless of how it shattered, few things are worse than a broken heart.

I won’t pretend to have answers, but I do know one thing. You are enough. You are incredible and in spite of your flaws, one day someone will take notice. In hindsight, my worst heartbreak was my fault. Not because it didn’t work out but because I wasted so much time trying to get the attention of “the one.” Guess what? NONE of them were it.

In fact, my husband was off living life without me. When we met, I was rolling on the floor laughing at who knows what. He thought I was the weirdest person and maybe I am but I’ve learned to own it.

While you wait, I hope you learn to live life without a significant other. I hope you explore new places, earn the degree, save for a house, meet new friends, create beautiful things and eat a ton of good food. If only you took a chance on yourself. One day, you’ll be so in love with, YOU,  that the “one” will simply be an added bonus.

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Wrinkles-Learning to live life on purpose

 Salt and peppered eyebrows burrow as he squints to find a reflection through the fogged mirror. With a frail hand, he wipes away the steam. Each crease on his face tells untold tales of a life well lived. Many of us sadly, will never have the privilege to earn such wrinkles.

It was 6:00 a.m when I got the call. The shaking, monotone voice on the other end shared devastating news. There had been an accident and PJ, along with another, didn’t make it. This name may be insignificant to you, but to many, he was a well-liked individual who could make anyone’s day. A life so full of talent and possibilities, all of which he never saw. At just twenty years of age, he had barely begun to live.

It is incredible how one incident can change your soul. The accident happened years ago but still, I think of him when a milestone occurs. Things that seem as though they should be a right of passage like living on my own for the first time, making the mistake of having a credit card, or using an iPhone. The joy of getting married, getting my first real job or finally buying a home. Endless experiences he never had.

People die every day. We can all think of someone who’s life was cut too short. It was on that early morning when I realized the power of death and even more so, the significance of life. I started to evaluate relationships I had with my parents, friends, coworkers and random strangers I encountered.

Death shows no prejudice. It reaches the young, old, rich, poor, and famous. It will eventually make its way to the prestigious diplomat and the lowly beggar. It finds its way to every corner of the earth and leaves a hollow mark. One day death will come for me, too. I want to be satisfied when it does.

I’ve wasted far too many days living in regret, in fear, and indebted to everyone else. I have hoped for and dreamed but have given up as soon as it got too difficult. As soon as the critics left their opinions, I shriveled in defeat.

I do not know if I will ever look in the mirror one day to see a wrinkled face. I do not know if I will ever have children, meet the president, or go on the Ellen Show. These are all uncertain dreams I have no control over. I do however have control over how I live each day. I choose to live on purpose. I choose to live with intention. I choose to live in order to change the world around me.

We are unique but somehow tied to the same moon and seconds allotted per day. What will you choose to do with yours? Whatever living life to the fullest looks like to you, I hope you live. Your passions are there for a reason. The things you think about that no one else seems to care for are meant for you to pursue.

Choose to live life on purpose. Wrinkles are guaranteed to none.

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I watch the wind tremble through each blade of grass like fingers wrapped in my hair. Silence takes over as I feel the tightness in my throat left over from a deafening scream. How could you? A statement echoed one too many times.

One step forward, three back, and eighteen sidestepped. An intended right turned so very wrong. Somehow I ended up here, a broken mess. Unable to speak a word of what happened to anyone.

As I drive away, I no longer recognize the big brown eyes staring back at me. Each drop of rain somehow in sync with tears falling slowly down my cheek. Jolted back to reality with the thud of windshield wipers; I am forced to accept what I had just done.

A haunting past keeps me up at night. Nights turned weeks and eventually years. Years cemented to the past I cannot forgive. All the while wearing a porcelain smile. One more nice word spoken to me and I just might break. How can I accept love when I have knowingly betrayed the love of my life. My own tongue—a dagger gashing my entire being. Worthless. Unforgivable.

Have you been here? With the extra weight of your mistakes leaving you unfit for your calling? Welcome to being human, you are not alone anymore. Using what seems like a safety pin I am slowly chipping away at my cemented heart and hold onto a verse found in Ezekiel 36:26, “ I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you, your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.”

I encourage you, just as I am, to face your past head on. To accept it, ask for forgiveness and accept the unconditional love that only Jesus can give. To Him you are worth it, to Him, you are everything.

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Hasta La Vista

We tend to be creatures of habitual rituals. Some minor, others so ingrained that we identify with them on a personal level, eventually becoming part of who we are as individuals. Relationships, hobbies, religion, politics, dreams or goals just to name a few things at the core of who we are. The problem is not within the topics alone, it is identifying with them so much that we are unwilling to admit when it’s time to quit.

In quitting, in saying goodbye, doesn’t make you a coward. It means that you realize “it” isn’t working for you anymore and instead is time to say, hello, to something new.

In fourth grade, I wanted to play the flute and join the school band. My mom rented one and signed me up at school. It didn’t take long before I realized that I actually had to practice and do it during recess. It would have been easy for my mom to force me to stick it out and maybe she should have but whatever, I wasn’t good at all and hated it. During the same time period, I discovered a love for soccer. Something I was actually good at. Again, my mom signed me up but instead of quitting it became a ritual I lived out for over 15 years.

I share this story because as a kid, I didn’t care what people thought about me. I cared that I was missing recess and hated what I was doing. I dared to try something new and it worked out for me. At what point do we stop trying new things and become afraid to say, goodbye to things we don’t actually even enjoy?

Take a moment for yourself to examine your reasons for doing something. IF it is for a purpose then put your whole heart into it and don’t quit. But if you are doing it because you are afraid to move on then say, Hasta La Vista and let it go.

Find a new dream, open your heart to a new love, make plans and actually follow through with them. This year get out of the rut, stop caring so much about what others think and find a new passion.

P.S. I would love to hear what your dreams are for 2017 and cannot wait to watch you live them out. Leave a comment here or find me on Facebook or Instagram.

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Society has been frustrating lately. News articles, Facebook feeds, radio talk and dinner conversations are filled with tragic topics. I generally avoid them because it is too hard to think about. Plus, I don’t need that negativity in my life.

There is a story in Mark chapter 6 that clearly depicts my relationship with Jesus at times. After a long day of ministry, people were hungry. “Send the people away so they can buy themselves something to eat,” said the disciples.

Jesus blows my mind with nothing profound. He simply says, “ You give them something to eat.”

These men were caring and had compassion for their hunger which is great, but they wanted someone else to do the job.

Our world is falling apart. We often complain about a situation and expect someone to do something. I want to ask, why not you?
We get caught up in doing something great but the more I live life, the more I see the importance of the small and overlooked.

I want to challenge you to fill a hole in some of the most uncommon places. When the grocery carts are in parking spaces, take a moment to collect and put them away. When a place is filled with trash, put your complaints aside and pick it up. If someone is hungry, feed them. If a family is hurting, go out of your way to see them through it.

As Christians, we aren’t called to stay away from the negativity. In fact, I think we are called to be right in the middle of it. Negativity will only be combatted by acts of positivity. Along with praying for change, pick up a shovel and fill in some holes.

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“Come, follow me, and I will send you out to fish for people.”

  -Mark 1: 17

I’m no fisherman, but Jesus knew who he was speaking to when He gave these instructions. You see, these men were on the job and knew the trade well.

Around the world are many different styles of fishing. Each requires a unique method and bait. Depending on the species, depth of water, and other various factors will determine the approach to be used. A major variable lies within the fisherman himself. Some do it for a living, others for sport. Both have a purpose and that is to catch some fish.

Jesus wanted these men to share the gospel with others. He didn’t seem to give much instruction because they were the experts, even if they didn’t know it yet. All the tools they needed were already within themselves because they had been doing it for years.

Commercial fishermen aim to capture in bulk. They often throw out a net and have the ability to capture many at a time, similar to what a pastor does as he speaks to the congregation. Whereas a retired individual at a nearby creek is equally important for he may reach the scarce and often overlooked.

Each of us is also called to fish. To share the gospel with others but not as fishermen, as whatever YOU are. Often times, we focus too much on another’s calling, not realizing that He has given us our own set of instructions. The goal is the same but the method should be unique.

Ready…Go Fish.

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Baby Fever

Babies are popping out everywhere. Social media is filled with photos of tiny humans. First birthdays, first steps, first everything.

I imagine it’s not all cute because there are friends willing to expose the reality of being a parent. Sleepless nights, disgusting diaper stories and the feeling of not knowing what to do.

I wonder what that would be like.

When my husband and I got married, we decided to wait a year before starting a family. It has been three.

While I wait for a baby, many wait for a spouse. Some of you with children wait for a quiet moment, others for a job opportunity. This is real life people. Full of unfulfilled expectation.

I wish I had answers but don’t. Thoughts of jealousy, judgment and anger may cross our minds,however, it is our decision to feel sorry for ourselves or genuinely be happy for those living their moments. I choose the latter.

Through this, I have learned that my purpose in life cannot lie solely within these wants. A title of parent, friend, spouse, teacher, home- owner or rocket scientist may all fade one day. Your character and the way you handle life will not.

For now, I will enjoy my sleep and appreciate the relationships I am blessed to have.

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In a world filled with things, umbrellas are objects most people don’t give much thought. They can be used to protect people from rain and may also provide shade. Other than that, they are just umbrellas.

One day a bearded man went to buy ten of these seemingly inanimate objects. Without knowing who they were for or if they would be needed, he wanted to be prepared.

Driving through town, he noticed drops of rain begin to fall on the windshield. At just about the same time, a woman and young boy caught his attention. They were walking fast-paced, trying to avoid getting rained on. The man pulled over and handed the woman an umbrella.

There is nothing profound about this story. A man bought an umbrella and gave it to a lady. Somehow, though, in its simplicity, I find hope.

Earlier that day, he heard the forecast, which predicted rain. Instead of merely going about his day, he thought of others. These ten umbrellas will have ten different stories all of which will include this one bearded man.

Be someone’s bearded man. Use the overlooked objects around you to brighten someone’s day. You never know who is having a rainy day.

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