Monday, April 30, 2012

Top Hits of April!

It's that time of the month again!  Here are my top ten finds from around the web during the month of April! Enjoy :)

10. "The Art of Letting Go"
9. "A Sunday Kind of Love" by Sweetness Itself
8. "Boundaries After a Break-up" by The Good Women Project
7. "Top 5 Reasons I Love Men"  by Lauren Nicole Love
6.  "Being Kept" by Darling Magazine
5. "Why Wait" by a wonderful up and coming preacher of the word!!
4. The most read post from Divine Dating: "Let God Give Your Heart Away"
3. "Dance It Out"  By Sweetness Itself
2. Another boundaries post by The Good Women Project
1. a wonderful ministry in the making!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Who Will You Serve?

Deuteronomy 29 and 30.  Who would think to look here for revival and inspiration?  God's word stands true.  The Bible is full of life, action, conviction and judgement, thus leading to healing (Hebrews 4:12.)  And these two chapters do just that.

You see, I often explain to people what I see as a missional Christian looking at nonbelievers.  I pray for them, I point them in the right direction, give them advice, speak truth into them and take them to church.  But after all that, the Lord always leads me to the one determining point.  I hate this part, because I've seen it far too many times.  It hurts like crazy.

After pouring my heart into this specific individual, loving them and shining light into their life, it comes time for the point of choice.  At this point God asks nothing more but for me to step out, watch, and pray.  I always illustrate this breath-holding moment by weighing my hands back and forth like a scale.  I do this because it shows exactly what these individuals are going through.

They are weighing the decisions of life and death in their hands.  Do they follow God and become an outcast to the world, thus changing and challenging every area of their present life, or do they take the easier, more common road and push the pain down deeper as they go along with the lifestyle everyone else leads.

The feeling I get from watching this "moment" is comparable to training up your child with word and knowledge, only to stand on a street corner watch with your own eyes as they fall into the temptation of drugs. Gosh it hurts.  It hurts so bad, I ask, "God how in the world do you do it? Why would you choose to love such prideful beings as us?"

I hate watching this decision part, because I know there is absolutely nothing God or I can do.  The full weight of the decision rests on this individual, and I know it, and I see it.  I see the life and fullness that comes with choosing God, yet I just as easily see the path of sin and destruction waiting for them.  It's a Russian Roulette feeling, there is a 50% chance they'll live for ever, and a 50% chance they will burn for all eternity, far far away from me and even worse, away from God.

So what do you do?


God simply calls us to watch and pray as we step back and wait for the individual to choose for themselves who they will serve (Joshua 24:15) and that takes real love, and real patience, the kind that only comes from resting in God alone.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Life: The Sum of Our Choices

"Life is the sum of our choices."
--Wayne Dyer

The pastor who spoke at my Baccalaureate reception based his sermon around this quote.  The older I get, the more I agree with it.  I stand in amazement as I watch old classmates deliberately choose destructive paths, and each little choice adds up, so that they eventually become "that guy," or "that person" that they never wanted to be.

Sometimes I think they must wake up wondering what happened, because they sure aren't thinking clearly about each day's choices.  If they knew that one extra drink would leave them to an alcoholic lifestyle with no job, no friends, and no ambitions by age 20, I seriously doubt they would have made the choice to begin with.

By no means have I got it perfect, I make mistakes constantly.  The difference is, I ask God to convict me of my mistakes and change my heart to make me better--more holy, more like Him.  I ask God before making major decisions, and I allow his Spirit to guide me on all the thousands of smaller ones throughout the day.  When I make a decision on my own, my soul is often convicted so much that I can't get through the rest of my day without getting things back right with my best friend, the Father.

Praise the Lord that we serve a God of choices, one who let's us decide our own passions, our own lifestyle, even our own fate.  The fact that he places so much power in our hands astounds me and yet humbles me.  How much love must he have to be able to step away and let us decide on our own.

You see, God wants more than anything for us to willingly choose him, and therefore love him, with every single ounce of love we can possible hold within us.  That is what he truly, truly desires.  And that,is why he leaves it up to us.  He does not ask for forced love, that would be arrogant.  He could very easily make us want him, but that would be manipulative.  

No, our God is a perfect gentlemen.  One who waits patiently as we have the freedom to choose who and what we give our daily devotions too.  He designed us to need him and want him, yet he freely lets us choose if we will fill our longings with him.  It's a fifty-fifty shot, but he knows the real deal is worth betting on.

Life is full of choices.  If you were to stop and think for one second how many choices you made within the first ten minutes of waking up, you would be astounded.  The choice to get out of bed, the choice to brush your teeth, the choice to hit snooze before you fully wake up, the choice to complain about the temperature, the choice to grumble at your spouse...the choices are endless, and that's just the first few seconds!

The reality is, all these teeny, tiny choices add up to make us who we are, how we describe ourselves, and how God uses us.  Just think, what if you had chosen not to get out of bed this morning.  What would have gone differently?  Chances are your whole day would have been drastically effected by this one small, seemingly insignificant choice.  And yet you make choices like these every day--not just in practical things, but in spiritual things too.

Following God full-heartedly is a choice.
Healing is a choice.
Forgiveness is a choice.
Love is a choice.

What will you choose?

Meeting the Bridesmaids

It is true when they say you don't go to college to meet the groom, you go to meet the bridesmaids!
I'm being totally honest when I say I came to college thinking I would find the groom.  My whole life I was told to wait until college and then I will find the right guy.

After one month here I had looked around and found not even one guy worth a second glance.  Nothing against these guys, they're just not quite my type.  Anyhow, what I did find in bulk was not necessarily bridesmaids, but some of the most awesome, God-fearing women I have ever met in my life.  These girls have honestly made a difference in my walk and continue to this do to encourage me in obediently acting out God's calling for my life.

To fully understand the depth of their love for Jesus, you need to understand something.  I sit and talk to these girls for two or three hours at a time talking about nothing but how awesome and wonderful our God is.  This is why I love these girls.  They have made college worthwhile. 

Jamie Hannan- We decided we are going to write a book for Christian girls together.  Throughout all of last year we were constantly being showed the same things by God.  Stuff about dating, transferring, and finding the perfect ministry "fit," all came into both of our lives around the same time.   This girl is a heart friend.  She gets me, and I get her.  We love on Jesus the whole time we are together, and I absolutely love it!

Kaity Keith- I could talk about this girl and our stories forever!  She has showed me so much about what it means to make the Word of God more than just a book you read in the morning.  Every time I run into her she is camped out somewhere, reading the Bible and learning from it.  She has such a heart for helping other girls and following God’s will—even when she doesn’t know what that is!  I have learned more from here in the past 6 months than I have from some people I have known my whole life.  She often refers to her friends as her “iron,” referencing the proverb “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”  This is an exact description of what her friendship has brought me.

Kim Burns- Oh, she makes me smile.  I’m always up for a good laugh when Kim is around!  She has such a big heart for Jesus it just explodes all around her! Kim is constantly encouraging me with my blog and my venture for figuring out relationships.  I cannot tell you how much that has meant to me along the way.   And the best part is that she doesn’t even know that she is loving me to the Nth degree every time she casually mentions what makes me special.  As if weren’t enough, she also gives the biggest and bestest—longest hugs in the entire universe!  She has shown me what it means to love people through every little action.

Then I have my two best friends who love me in an entirely different way.  These girls have seen me in a variety of situations.  They know me as a serious student, a leader in activities, a hyper spaz, a country bumpkin, and everything in between!  The best part is—they still love me!  (This is a far greater responsibility than most people realize.)

Lacey Stevenson- Although our spiritual views don’t line up exactly, I have more respect for her than almost anyone else I’ve ever met.  She is the most kind, caring, and willing to listen person I know.  As soon as we sit down together she instantly asks about my classes, my other friends, and my family.  She never ever thinks of herself, but always is quick to love others by listening to them.  I thank her for letting me babble on end about how hard my petty classes are, even when I know they are a piece of cake in comparison to her Political Science studies!  Lacey and I have so much in common it is scary.  It is scary because we met on this campus, a campus full of people not like us, and I know that it is a miracle from God that we met!

Dakota Poulton- Another God story about friendship.  One of my biggest dreams in this life is for my friends back home to become best friends with my friends up here.  Anyone who knows me probably gets tired of me because I am constantly trying to merge the two friend groups.  I want everyone to know and love everyone as I have seen them love me!  Dakota has played such an important role in my life because she is always ready to meet more friends from back home and take them out dancing with us!  She is full of fun, excitement, and motivation.  I love our one day shopping sprees and random study sessions.  She has a special place in my heart.

And then there are my sheep, whom I love and call my friends as well, and yet our relationships is entirely different again.

Kaley Patterson- We have known each other throughout high school, but now that she is finally in college too I feel like our relationship has plunged to a new level.  Even though we go to different colleges, I feel like she is constantly looking out for me and challenging me in my personal quiet times with the Lord.  As a girl with extraordinary gifts, I am constantly excited to hear her talk about what God is showing her.  I know without doubt that he will use her for amazing things as she walks through the journey of college and life.  Our friendship goes beyond the surface and stays imprinted on my heart no matter where we are. 

Alexis Briggs- Through Kaley I have met this very dear friend.  Even as I write this I am speechless.  Alexis has this idea that God has used me to bless her immensely, ironically, she doesn’t know how much God has used her to bless me and my life.  Talk about encouraging and motivating, this girl has given me more humility and faith in my blog and calling to teach relationships than anyone I’ve ever met.  She has pushed and promoted my blog to the ends of the earth and back—something I never imagined in my wildest dreams.  On top of that she is so straight forward with her walk.  She wants scripture, not opinion, and everything not of God is a waste of time.  I pray for that kind of heart!

I wrote this in October of 2011, but just now decided to post it.  I don't know why.
Girls: enjoy the company of the bridesmaids while you can.  I wouldn't have a wedding without 'em!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Be Filled with the Spirit

God and I had a lunch date on Wednesday to talk about my drinking questions.  He sent me to Ephesians 5, verses 1 through 21.  I read and reread the passage several times, finally asking him what I was supposed to look at.  He said clearly, don't look at what the passage tells you NOT to do, but look at what it tells you TO DO.  So, I made a list:

In case you can't see it, my list contained all the wonderful things from the passage, like "Live a life of love. Be thankful. Expose darkness.  Make the most of every opportunity.  Be imitators of God.  Live as children of light.  Sing and make music in your heart to the Lord.  Always giving thanks!"

Verses 8-11 instructs us to live as children of light and to expose darkness.  The underlying darkness in the situation from Wednesday's post, is wildly and hugely a boundary issue.  This is something I hadn't even noticed until God pointed it out at lunch time.

As I have explained in previous posts regarding "boundaries,"  I am chronically a people-pleaser, and more often than not, it seems to get the best of me.  The reason my 21st birthday has stressed me out so much and caused me much frustration, is because I honestly don't know what I, myself wants to do.  I am drastically being torn in between two extremes, and I can't make both sides happy.  As hard as that is for me to accept, I must accept it anyway and figure out what I think is best for me.

One half of the people I want to please are telling me that I should stay as far away from alcohol as possible, treating it like the plague and running in the opposite direction.  They see no need to celebrate this "coming of age" as the rest of our culture does.

The other half say it's perfectly fine to drink a little on your birthday.  It is a celebration, it is a big deal, and why not celebrate this marker of coming to a mature age in life.

The good news is that I have been a slave to peer pressure, trickery and manipulation all my life.  Before I gave my life to God I was not a slave to alcohol, but people who expect me to drink alcohol.  I praise God that he came and broke these chains.  He gave me a way out when he showed me the relationship Jesus was asking me for.  I have been set free!!

And although I have indeed been set free, I am still healing from all my boundary issues.
SO, I would like to let everyone know-- I DON'T HAVE TO DRINK FOR ANYONE.

I say that more for myself than anything, but I don't.  I ALSO DON'T HAVE TO HATE ALCOHOL FOR ANYONE EITHER.  I am free to be me and choose for myself what honors the Lord with my body.

As a disciple of Christ, I read verse 17 and I am asked to "understand what the Lord's will is."
I know that his will is for me to bring the souls of the lost to Him and his fountain of life.  I am called to make disciples.  (Matthew 28:20, 1 Timothy 2:4)  He has called me to it and shaped my life around this calling.


Saving Souls    >>>>>>>>   My decision to drink or not to drink.

So God knows my heart, and it's with him.  It's ALL his, and I love him for that.  "Making the most of every opportunity" --you only turn 21 once, and i want to celebrate, rejoice, and be glad fro my gift of life. Not only that, but the gift of eternal life that comes long after this silly celebration of 21 earthly years.  Either way, this day of celebration is a chance to give thanks to God and rejoice over all he has done throughout my years.

BUT if on that day, there is someone in my path who needs Christ, I will stop all celebrating in order to love them and lead them to Christ, because obviously this is a much bigger thing than me and my celebration.

Be filled with the Spirit always.  Who says my birthday can't be a holy celebration.  Like I said, the real celebration of life is not when I was first born into the world, but when I was RE-born into the Kingdom of God.  What better way to celebrate 21 years on earth than to worship God in spirit and in truth!

Live a life of love.  Be imitators of God.

"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Matthew 6:33-34

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God."
Philippians 4:6

"Be happy, young man, while you are young, and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.  Follow the ways of your heart and whatever your eyes see, but know that for all these things God will bring you to judgment.  
So then, banish anxiety from your heart and cast of the troubles of your body, for youth and vigor are meaningless."
Ecclesiastes 11:9-10

"Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart."
Psalms 37:4 

Check this out: Lil' Dre- "Fill Me Up"

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

To Drink or Not to Drink? That is the Question. here we are about one month away from my twenty first birthday.  I've been praying about this event since November, and after a mixture of emotions, responses, and decisions....I'm still totally clueless as to how to handle this situation.

One of my best friends is celebrating her 21st today.  I respect her as a sister in Christ, and I know she loves the Lord and so do her friends.  Her friends have been taking her out for drink all day in celebration, and in between times she shared the gospel with someone!

I have another buddy who will turn 21 in one week.  He too is confused.  He wants to have a toast of celebration, but the only people he has to drink with are his family, and he is the only Christian around, so he knows this would not be a smooth move on his part, especially given the full details of the situation.

Here's my story:
November-ish is when a lot of my friends turned 21.  I excitedly watched as each one reacted differently.  One of my besties who has drank a lot in high school simply drank a few beers with a close friend.  No fireworks, no bars, just simple enjoyment.

Then a non-religious friend had her birthday in December and did not even have a drop.  In fact she's never had a drop, and doesn't plan on it until May, when we both plan to have a glass of wine together as a mutual celebration.  (I thought that was sweet.)

My close Christian friend Ashley celebrated in March by taking a car full of us girls to a fancy restaurant!  She had a sip of margarita, hated it, and doesn't plan on drinking much any more.

Another classmate turns the big 2-1 next weekend and has a four day event page posted on Facebook.  Bars, shots, drinks, and kegs will be involved in this ongoing celebration!  (I thought it sounded fun but a tad extreme.)

So I have all different friends doing all different things.  My whole life I always just assumed I would drink a few on my birthday.  I never wanted to get wasted, just a good buzz ya know?  Either way, I began praying about the upcoming event.

In February I had a conversation with a friend who was about to make the age jump.  I explained to him that I didn't think drinking was a sin, but that getting drunk was a sin.  (Ephesians 5:18, Proverbs 20:1)  I explained that just like anything else, moderation is the key.  God is God, not alcohol.

He then asked if I would join him in a few casual drinks.

I quickly started explaining the biblical rule of "living above reproach."  The Bible talks about this a lot, and I did not want to ruin someone's salvation story because they saw me drinking a few cold ones just for the heck of it.  Put simply: it would depend on who was around.

Shortly after that we were sitting in church and I became heavily convicted about the previous conversation. Haley, if you are doing something you don't want everyone to see, you probably shouldn't be doing it in the first place anyways.

So we made a vow to sobriety.

Then I read Blue Like Jazz and my entire theology was questioned and I became interested again.  Alcohol is an enjoyable thing.  We make it bad because of social context and extreme drunkards without self-control.

I have friends who don't believe you should touch alcohol with a ten foot pole.  "If the Bible says don't do it, then run as far away in the other direction as you can."

I also have friends who think it's okay for Christians to drink as long as they don't get drunk or they are not around people who they would cause to stumble.

I also have lost friends whom I have been fervently praying for and pointing to God.  Not to mention the few girls I disciple on a regular basis.

So as I said, now I am a month away and still being tossed like a wave at sea.  This is what I am asking, What are your thoughts?  Do you think it's a sin to drink or just to be drunk?  What would be the best thing to do in my situation?

Friday I will post what God laid on my heart.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Learning to Say "No"

As I have mentioned in a couple of posts prior to this one, Spring Break 2012 put a whole lot of things into perspective for me.  One of those things was the never ending lesson on boundaries.  If you remember a while back I read a book by that title, written by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  The review link is here.

I highly recommend reading Boundaries if you get a chance.  My friends tell me that book has changed my life more than I know.  In January I learned to put my foot down when it comes to doing what I know is best for me, like going to bed on time and eating what I want to eat.

I thought I was getting the hang of boundaries really.  Then came March, and I was head over heels stressed, stretched, angry and tired.  I may have kept my bedtime in check, but every other minute of my life was allotted to other people who had asked for it.  Why?  Because I can't say "no."

It's sad because I thought I gave up living for people years ago when I turned to Christ, but deep down I am seeing that this is not the case at all.

Part of why I can't say no is because I honestly want to do everything.  I want to try out that new organization on campus, I want to be at your birthday party while also being at an oober-cool work event.  I want to help launch your business, and I also want to spend some time working on my blog and reading my homework for class tomorrow.
I always said the thing I hate most is missing fun.  Well Haley, sooner or later you are going to realize that you are human and you simply can't be everywhere at once, and neither can you do everything by yourself.

Many of the things--okay actually just about all of the things I want to spend my time on are good, and helpful to mostly others, and a little myself...but sometimes you have to drop good things.  Sometimes its the good things that are driving you crazy and keeping you from experiencing the real, raw, freshness of God.  I'm talking about the mysterious God I fell in love with.  The God who makes every day exciting and unexpected...if only we will give him control of our plans and allow him to do so.

After Spring Break God blessed me by allowing me to let go of a few things.  I finally dropped the class I wasn't enrolled in and didn't need for credit, but was attending anyways out of moral obligation.  I let go of a ministry that was wonderful and good, but in reality holding me back from what I really wanted to be doing.

I let go of the identity I had placed in being Southern Baptist rather than simply a God-fearing Christian.  I also let go of the church that comfortably went with that identity.

This might be confusing to you, but as I write this it is Monday, April 2nd, 2012.  I have my blogs stacked up so I won't get behind, and therefore I know you won't be reading this until the end of April, or perhaps early May. Anyhow, it is only the start of the second week back from Spring Break.

I have no idea where I'm going next or what I'm doing, but I know God is working wonders in my heart--stripping me of control (like always), plans, religion (again), and doing things just to please other people.

He is teaching me to dance with him instead of looking around at others.  He is bringing up the true and beautiful desires of my heart as I see who he really designed me to be.  How sad it is that I have come way off course do to what I feel like other people's expectations are of me.  I want to get back to that girl from American Honey, the girl whose heart and soul were painted around the earth everywhere she went.  The girl God designed me to be!

I'm still figuring all of this out--uncovering my soul and learning to be Captivating,like the first book that changed my life.  Throughout this process, God gave me the book Strong Women, Soft Hearts in February, and Blue Like Jazz in March, actually this week.  Both spoke volumes into my identity as a woman of God.

Then, today at work I was catching up on my blog reading using Google Reader, (which I highly recommend if you don't use it already) when several articles showed up that happened to apply directly to my boundary situation.  Here are the links below, I highly recommend them.

So what do you think?  How do you feel about boundaries and all that jazz?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Blue Like Jazz

Some of us have a tendency to take life to seriously, while others of us don’t take life seriously enough.  In Blue Like Jazz, Donald Miller shares his personal journey of sifting through religion, love, and Jesus.  His ramblings gave me a new perspective that is a mix between questioning things and not taking life too seriously.

When I tried to explain to my friend what this book was about, I couldn’t.  There really isn’t an obvious plot line or structure to the story.  In fact, I’m not really sure what it’s about.  Miller shares his heart and experiences on everything from love and loneliness to grace and faith.  This was the first book I have read by Donald Miller, and I absolutely loved his writings.  I am captured by his boldness and honest criticism of religion, the church, and stereotypical Christianity.

As he explains in the last chapter, "This book is about the songs my friends and I are singing.  This is what God is doing in our lives.  But what song will you sing when your soul gets free?"  These two sentences really brought the book together as a whole for me.  I get it, the point is Jesus.  We each have our different rhythm, but it all points back to Jesus, and part of life is dancing with other people's rhythms.  

Written in 2003, the book has now been made into a movie, which comes out April 13th of this year.  From Houston, Texas to Portland, Oregon, Miller has lived in the woods with hippies, started a revival at an atheist college, and lived in community with several other men from his church.  In Blue Like Jazz, he shares a little snippet of each journey, and God’s faithfulness throughout it all. 

The downfall of this book is that most Christians won’t like it.  It’s very honest, very real, and almost criticizing to the church.  Some people will think this is exactly what needs to be examined in order to leave behind the hypocritical stereotype Christians have accumulated over the years.  Others feel judged and misrepresented by Miller’s thoughts.

As God continues to fill me in on how he made me creative and abstract-minded, this book is one of the tools he has given me to learn how to truly embrace the mysteries of life.  Instead of trying to confirm to society, I need to be me.  If that means crazy, artsy, and a little different, well...that's beautiful to Jesus.

I highly recommend this book to any mature human being looking for raw answers and truth.  I am loaning this to a friend searching for God, and I have recommended it to several strong Christian friends as well.  I read the book in 2 days.  It's a quick read.  Very spiritual, very deep, but very refreshing to breeze through.  The phrase sugar-coated is not at all coming to mind as I think of the truth revealed in Miller’s writing. The film comes out today.  Go see it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Good Charlotte Gospel: I Just Wanna Live

(Post 3 out of 3 in The Good Charlotte Gospel series.)

3) "I Just Wanna Live"
I just want to live I just want to live
Don't really care about the things that they say 
Don't really care about what happens to me
I just want to live

Stop your messing around boy
Better think of your future
Better make some good plans boy
Said everyone of our teachers
Look out, you better play it safe
Never know what hard times will come your way

Okay so there's actually quite a stretch to connect this song with my message, but one inspired the other, and so I am attempting it regardless.  

I just wanna live.  I do.  I really, really, truly do.  Over Spring Break I realized that I had made myself completely miserable and sick with all the worry, stress, and pressures of other people's desires for my life!  Everyone thinks I ought to have a plan.  They tell me I need to know where I'm going to live, who I'm going to marry, and what I'm going to do with my time from now until eternity happens.

I realize that I have spent most of my life pleasing these life-sucking scoundrels.  By pleasing them I'm not pleasing God.  God doesn't tell me I need plans.  In fact, he says the opposite, he tells me to be as carefree as a bird in the sky.

I want to cry for hours when I look at the birds in the sky.  How desperately I want to have a life like that.  I want to live.  I want to truly live like that.

I guess this is why I have been on a hippie kick lately.  I have this huge desire to sell everything I own and go live out of a backpack.  I want to eat with the homeless and work with my hands.  I want to get dirty, really, really dirty.  I want to live without technology, plans, and emails.  I want to rediscover the real parts of people.  Their breath, their face, their fingernails.  

Birds are so great at this.  You watch them fly around going who knows where.  They barely move and yet they go so far.  They stop whenever they want, to swoop down and spend a few minutes playing in a puddle of water.  

On the other end, a human tromps through that same puddle with not a care in the world about it.  Human says, "Ugh!! This puddle got my new shoes wet!! Now my day is ruined!"
Then human goes back to listening to his music in his ipod while he texts his friends the plans for the day.  Subconsciously human is also deciding what to eat when he gets to where he is going.

The whole world revolves around human, and anything unexpected brings him down and makes him angry.

That's what we call living.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Good Charlotte Gospel: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous

(A continuation from The Good Charlotte Gospel: The Anthem.

Lifestyles of the rich and the famous 

They're always complainin'

Always complainin'

If money is such a problem 
Well they got mansions 
Think we should rob them (rob them)
(They would fall, they would fall)

Lifestyles of the rich and famous 

We'll take your clothes, cash, cars, and homes just stop complainin'

Lifestyles of the rich and famous

Lifestyles of the rich and famous
Lifestyles of the rich and famous

I'm literally writing a book about complaining.  God has really focused on that with me this semester.  It's hard, but it's good.  We don't realize how much complaining we do until we sit back and look for it in our daily conversations.  I mean, even our greetings are complaint-filt.

Person 1: "Man, it's so hot out there!"

Person 2: "Yeah, I hate this's terrible..."

Then we complain about having too much homework, not enough vacation time.  God gives us a bonus check and we complain about how long it takes to save up to buy a new boat.  We gossip to others and tell them how horrible it is living with this man...working with this woman...or wearing these shoes.

Nothing is ever good enough.  Everything falls short.  

The preacher was too long today.  The music was a disaster.  I hated the piano solo.

Nothing meets our standards.  People let us down because they can't live up to perfect.

We cry, and hate, and gossip, and talk and try to change everything that is out of our power by complaining.  Even the good things are burdens to us many times.  We try to talk others into doing what we would rather have them do, and we talk ourselves out of what we should be doing--complaining of the heavy sacrifice.


Go to Africa.

Seriously.  We Americans are foolish and inconsiderate.  If you compare the wealth of the average American, to that of any foreigner, you would quickly be humiliated at our complaint list.  Check out these articles:
Also check out this website and you can see how you personally compare to the rest of the's pretty cool, and humbling too.

And yet the more we get, the more ungrateful we become.  How does this happen, I wonder?  Probably because money will never satisfy the soul.  Only God can do that. 

 Lecrae puts it this way: "Lovin' money is like crack, both of 'em will leave you dead."  
Check out the rest of his lyrics...

Then check out his track "God is Enough."

Look how God puts it in 1 Timothy 6:6-10:

"But godliness with contentment is great gain. 
 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.  
But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.  
People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction.  
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.  
Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

I love how the Good Charlotte lyrics say, "if money is such a problem, well they got mansions, I think we should rob them."  I wonder if orphans and widows around the world echo this same phrase as they watch Americans live their daily lives.  

It is more blessed to give than to receive!

Obviously I have been very convicted about this too.  It's a hard, deliberate work to strip your vocabulary of ungrateful responses, but this is what a heart in love with God requires.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 tells us to give thanks to God always.  Try it this week. :)

"Lovin' money's like crack; both of 'em will leave you dead."

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Good Charlotte Gospel: The Anthem


I honestly have not listened to Good Charlotte since seventh grade, but ya know, sometimes random songs just pop in your head, and you just have to log in to YouTube and let 'em out.  That's what I did this morning.  "The Anthem," by Good Charlotte came to mind, and so of course I brought it up online and listened to it.

What seemed like a quick, insignificant three minutes, turned into a three-video encore of Good Charlotte and deep resonance within my soul.  Through that, I present to you "The Good Charlotte Gospel."

1) "The Anthem"
"Go to college
A university
Get a real job
That's what they said to me
But I could never, live the way they want

I'm gonna get by
And just do my time
Out of step while
They all get in line
I'm just a minor threat so pay no mind

Do you really wanna to be like them?
Do you really wanna be another trend?
Do you wanna be part of that crowd?

'Cause I don't ever wanna
I don't ever wanna be, you
Don't wanna be just like you
What I'm saying is, this is the anthem
Throw all your hands up
You, don't wanna be you"

Man, it feels so good to scream those words at the top of your lungs!  The last few weeks I have felt a mountain of stress as everyone tells me what I need to do and where I need to be.  Get a job!  You need a boyfriend or you'll never get married at your age!  Don't you know where you're living this summer yet?  What job will you have?  You don't have an internship for next fall yet?  What type of PR are you going into?  Did you decide what you're doing with your life yet?

People are repulsed and disgusted as I tell them I have no idea what I'm doing next month, let alone next year.  I'm not even sure I want to do PR, let alone have a real job!  Truth be told I would be happy as a lark being a waitress and living in a small run down apartment.  For some reason people don't like to hear these things.  They say I'm selling myself short, not reaching goals, and failing...and to the world's standards, I am.

But you know what?  Those are lies from Satan's Americanized Dream.  Money and success aren't everything, and that's probably the biggest thing I've learned while being at this fancy college.  In fact, God has taught me to almost be repulsed by these things.  (Check out the Bible, he explains it in full detail there.) 

The Successful Life
When I first got to this university I went for the big internship, the over-achiever's organizations, and all the fancy titles.  I won a few prestigious awards and scholarships, and then I realized it was all meaningless..."a chasing after the wind," as Solomon puts it.

Now as I miserably sit through Friday meetings with 20 other over-achieving Public Relations majors, I am repulsed to the point of laughter.  I don't want to be like them at all.  I want nothing to do with this business world.

As we sit down for our 9:30 meeting, the first ten minutes are filled with keyboard clicking and iPhone checking.  I look at everyone's eyes.  They are blue and saggy from lack of sleep, yet wide and fierce as they quickly march out the next press release and email on their Macbooks.

Finally, our fearless leader breaks the technology buzz and starts talking about business--only everyone keeps clicking, typing, and scrolling.  As he suggests a new strategy, they have already completed it online.  The email has already been sent.  The dates are confirmed.  The caterer is booked.

He then brags and brags on how efficient we are, how successful we will be, and how the top firms in the nation are watching us, waiting for that day of graduation so they can snatch us up into eternal PR glory.

I used to try to hang out with them outside of meetings...yeah that was a joke.  They have no free time.  Their down time is spent at events and parties related to their professional life.

I mean, we're told to have a separate twitter account for our professional lifestyle...tell me that's not causing psychological problems somehow!

The more I watch these people, (who are some of my closest friends, and I do love them really,) the more angry and depressed I get.  Not because these aren't wonderful people with wonderful goals, but because I know I'm just like them, and that's what hurts so bad.

I don't want to be busy.  I hate having places to go and things to do from sun up till bedtime.  I don't like being the crazy girl who can't even breathe long enough to get her point across.

I still have a problem being myself and telling people no, but I'm working on it.  I'm no better than any of these people, I'm just observing.  As I said, I love these people dearly.  I just realized I don't want to be like them.  In fact, the more I walk with Jesus, the more I really love the idea of poverty and greasy burger-stained clothes.  Honestly, that is my dream job.

Don't get me wrong, we definitely  need Christians in the corporate world too.  It's just not what I want for my life anymore.  Which, I suppose is what you come to college for in the first find out what you really want to do.

I guess my answer to all the life-goal questions I get asked throughout every day of my life, is this:

While the song most likely wasn't written for Christians, it should be our anthem too.  Jesus said we aren't supposed to look like the world.

"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 
 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. 
 As it is, you do not belong to the world,
but I have chosen you  out of the world.  
That is why the world hates you."
John 15:18-19

"You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?  Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God."
James 4:4

"No servant can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money."
Luke 16:13

I've definitely spent way too much of my life trying to please other people.  All these years I've been so happy with my success, but now I realize it was all meaningless and empty.  God is walking me through what it looks like to live out of the depths of my own heart, not everybody else's, and this has been a hard and rewarding journey...but so far mostly just hard.

This post will definitely offend some people, but I guess my whole point is, find out what God wants for YOUR life.  Don't base your dreams and desires around other people's ideas.  Follow Jesus with your whole heart and everything else will fall into place.  A lot of times the things we think make us happy are just a chasing after the wind. 

"Now all has been heard, here is the conclusion of the matter:
Fear God and keep his commands,
for this is the duty of all mankind."
Ecclesiastes 12:13

Friday, April 6, 2012

October Baby: Review

I am a few weekends late on writing this, but 2 weekends ago the movie of the year came out in theatres!! You all really, really need to go see October Baby, featuring Rachel Hendrix and Jason Burkey.

Directed by Andrew and Jon Erwin, October Baby is a Christian-based film with a Hollywood-quality that captures the hearts of audience members everywhere.  The plot line involves a 19 year old girl named Hannah (Hendrix) who suffers from many health problems, including her own identity.  She often feel depressed, lonely, and unwanted for no reason at all.

After fainting during a theatrical performance, she and her parents sit down with her doctor to discover all of her long-term health problems were related to one thing: her premature birth due to a failed abortion attempt.

Crushed, confused, and devastated, Hannah questions her parents and finds out that she was also adopted.  These discoveries lead her on a road trip to Mobile, Alabama, where she hopes to seek out her identity in finding her whole story and her real mother.

Without ruining the story line, I will stop by saying this is a movie of reconciliation, friendship, and forgiveness.  If this speaks anything to you at all, this is one of those films where people are silent and still after the movie ends.  Not only did the entire audience at my theatre stay to watch the after video of the actors thoughts, but a large majority sat through the entire string of credits too.

My three friends and I were extremely humbled after watching the film, and two of us sat at my apartment for hours afterwards crying, talking, and discussing the pain of rejection and forgiveness in our own lives.

One particular thing I noticed during the credits we humbly watched, was that the film was supported by dozens of ministries and churches around the nation.  In fact, the movie's website says that the film's producers are donating 10% of the movie's profits to the Every Life is Beautiful Fund, which will help organizations and women facing abortion and other related issues.

Another very inspiring part of the credits, was a hidden story from one of the actresses, Shari Rigby, who actually lived out the character she played in the film.  How inspiring a movie must be to carry the theme of forgiveness throughout the plot line and into the credits as well!

The directors Andrew and Jon Erwin have worked on many other faith-based projects such as Casting Crown's "Until the Whole World Hears" video, God Provides, and Gospel Goes Classic.  I think these two men might be some very under-recognized giants in the faith.  We should praise God for their boldness and thank him and them for stepping out of the Hollywood norm.

As my friend Kaity put it, "If you've had an abortion--go see this movie.  If you haven't had an abortion--go see this movie.  It's out in theatres and extremely fantastic!"

Support life, faith, and forgiveness.  Go watch October Baby this weekend.

Also check out the Resources page on their website for ministry tools and opportunities:

Article first published as Movie Review October Baby on Blogcritics.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spiritual Gift Testamonies: Shepherding

I suppose it's time I share with you all my own spiritual gift journey.  As I have been restudying the gifts and reading everyone else's stories about their main gifts (this is the last call for submissions btw,)  I have cornered myself into reevaluating my own gift, or gifts.

A year ago last fall I took the test and found my top gifts looked something like this: faith, intercession, shepherding, and wisdom.

The following spring I took it again and received similar answers except this time mercy was very high up on the list.  Throughout that whole summer I really embraced mercy and thought it was definitely one of my main gifts, and for that season--it was.

A year later here I am taking spiritual gift tests again and mercy is back where it used to be, while faith, intercession, wisdom, and shepherding are all tied on three different tests, just as they were a year ago.
How interesting is that?

If you were to ask me my main gift I would say shepherding, but I'm not real sure why because I have four that rotate at the top of my list.  I guess I say shepherding because it incorporates the other three gifts within itself, where as the others are more separated.  

I may not know a whole ton about shepherding, but I know what it looks like it my life, and that is what I am going to share today.


I was about to put the definition into my own words, but then I googled it, and this fits much better.  In fact, I actually sat still for a few minutes after reading it, because this explains me so well.  What an interesting feeling, to be described by something outside of yourself or someone who knows you...anyhow, here is the definition of shepherding according to Gifted2Serve:

"The special ability that God gives to certain members of the Body of Christ to assume a long-term personal responsibility for the welfare of a group of believers."
This gift is a leadership gift.  This gift is often called "pastor," however, that name has a connotation of a specific position in the church.  In actuality, when pastors have this gift, their ability to continue sustained growth in their churches is greatly diminished, as they tend to require a certain level of interaction with every member of their congregation.  
Those with the gift of shepherding have a great need for long-term relationships.  Shepherds will sacrificially give themselves to other people in such a way that they are built-up in their faith.  Shepherds take personal responsibility for the successes and failures of those in the group that they invest themselves in.
Scriptures: John 10:1-18, Ephesians 4:11-14; 1 Timothy 3:1-7; 1 Peter 5:1-4"

That explains it all I feel like.  In fact, now that I am thinking about it, I wonder if faith, intercession, and wisdom are products of this gift.  It kind of seems like those three add to this one.  I'm not sure, but I love how God designed me.  I love how he designed you, and how each of us are so totally different!

I often think of my personality as a puppy dog.  I want to make friends with everyone I meet, and I want those people to be my very best friends for as long as we are both alive.  This is a wonderful way to live life, until it comes to deciding who will be the bridesmaids at your wedding.  (I am convinced there will have to be at least 53 at mine.)

Anyhow, part of this personality trait really seems to explain shepherding.  When I start investing in someone, I feel responsible for that person forever.  I have some friends from high school who live hundreds of miles away now, but I still keep pretty regular communication with them because I feel like it is my duty to give them spiritual direction.  (Doesn't make a lot of sense, I know.)

How God Uses It Daily
God definitely places these people over and over in my life though. When a huge storm blows in, they are quick to call me for who knows why, and I love pouring out scripture, encouragement, and direction into their lives.

One of my dearest friends I met in high school when she was a freshmen and I was a junior.  I took her under my wing and have loved her with all my heart since we met.  She is now thriving in college, going on mission trips and loving people till it hurts.  I still talk to her weekly and intend to do so forever and ever, (despite other advice I have received.)

I love her and besides being her friend, I do feel responsible for her
spiritual wellness forever.  God speaks to me about her, through her, and for her.  She is always in my prayers.  We share books, stories, and laughter through God-glorifying time together and phone calls.  I take joy in every step she takes closer to Jesus.  When God shows me something she needs to work on, I pray about it, call her, point it out, and she usually agrees that God has been showing her the exact same thing.  She is my sheep.

As wonderful and life-giving to me as this is, I am beyond blessed...because I have another little sheep too! This one is much younger and much different.  We met through sheep one and God used me to pour some dating sense into her head.  She saw that God had his hand on me and wanted more of this God.

She now meets with me once a week and we talk all about God's goodness, grace and mercy while I lead her through healing, redemption, and God's love.  Although Satan tries to strip her from me often, we both know deep down that this is a forever thing.

God placed me over her through and through.  I love her, and I take joy in watching her grown, fall, learn, and love.  While I am supposedly the shepherd, she has helped me grow equally as much.  I can not wait until she starts reproducing disciples! She shares Jesus with everyone she knows, and this makes my time and commitment to her worth while.

Often times I feel like a slacker because I do not run around witnessing to people everywhere I go.  For a while I said it was because I wasn't made that way, and for another time I said I just can't stand to sell people stuff.  Don't get me wrong, I love Jesus with all my heart, I'm just not real into pressuring them into making decisions and shoving tracks down there throats.

But lately God has really helped me work through all this.  For one thing, I have found out that just like Kaity, I do not have the main gift of evangelism, so I will never be like people who do.  That's fine, because God made this way for a reason.

On the other hand, he has made it very clear that I am to be bolder in sharing my faith and asking others if they would like to love God the way I do.  This has been an excitingly amazing fun awesome great stupendous adventure the last couple of weeks. I'm still working on it, but I love it.  

While I love people and share my belief and hope with them quite often, I rarely see souls come to the Lord. I pray and pray like nobody's business, sharing and hoping and asking them to receive this life-changing gift, but these are long term prayers that take time to fully grow.  I enjoy every bit of the process though.

I say this, because the fact is, if I went to the mall and met ten new people and led each of them to Christ, I would be above and beyond my heart's capacity.  Because of my long-term mindset and shepherding gift set, I know I would have a huge desire to disciple each and every one of these ten believers, and not just for a little bit, but for a lifetime.  While this is wonderful and pleasing to God, we all know it is humanly impossible.

If I failed to faithfully disciple all of these believers for their entire lives, I know I would feel responsible for their spiritual walks...leading to my guilt and shame to circumstances I have no control over.

Now I realize why God gives me certain people to focus on long-term, rather than using me to lead the masses to him through evangelism.  Thank you Jesus for making me the way you want me.  I love you, I love this gift, and I love how I can use it to serve you. :) 

So faith, intercession and wisdom are poured out of me and onto my sheep.  

A few weeks ago I was freaking out as many young women do when they think about things for some period of time.  Stressed and anxious I asked God, "What do you want me to do!?  I'm so lost and confused. Please..God, I don't know....."

"Feed my sheep."

That's all he said.  My heart was silenced and I could say no more.  I tried to open my mouth, but all I could hear was,

Feed my sheep.

"Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. 
Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood."
Acts 20:28

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

VOTE for your favorite new color!!

As I mentioned a couple of months ago..I am in the process of redesigning my blog.  Today I ran into a wall and need your help.  Please vote via comment below on which background color you like better, brown or purple.  Thanks guys!!



As always, other ideas and suggestions are appreciated!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Spiritual Gift Testimonies: Administration

I hope you are enjoying the spiritual gifts series we have been working through together.  I have been so encouraged by all of the posts I have received from my wonderful friends!  Today's post was written by a beautiful young woman with a bright future in the ministry.  Her and I have been working hard on a new ministry called Cycle Breakers.  She is kicking off our first speaking arrangement this Wednesday at a local church!  Stay tuned for more about that soon! :)
Her spiritual gift is Administration, and here is her journey involving that.

"Almost a month ago, God taught me a cool lesson on spiritual gifts.  It started while a girl was explaining her passion for sharing the gospel.  She literally sees flames on the foreheads of lost people!  She talks to numerous complete strangers about Jesus every day and averages two salvations per week.  Listening to her left me wishing I had the gift of evangelism!

Around the same time, a close friend and I were discussing the real-life dreams of a girl she disciples.  Curiously, my friend began reading a book on dreams and learning about the gift of prophesy.  Then, one night during a group dinner before a BSU event, a guy started explaining how vivid his dreams were, too.  I wanted the gift of prophesy!!

That night, the speaker addressed ways to have a multiplying ministry.  The personal stories he used as examples made it very clear that his spiritual gift is evangelism, like the girl who sees flames.  I was back to coveting the gift of evangelism.

It was during that night, that God told me I needed to do my job.  “Kaity, each of you has a job.  Do yours!  I need you to do your job, not someone else’s!

My spiritual gift is administration.  This has always been obvious, but I never knew it.  When asked, I would tell people my strongest gifts were leadership, service, and encouragement.  I do have these gifts, but none of them are my main spiritual gift.

I never focused on administration, but God is telling me to do so.  I think I ignored it, because I didn’t fully understand it.  I thought it sounded boring.  I thought administration meant I’d be locked in an office all day, by myself, with piles of paperwork, accomplishing nothing for eternity.

Administration is the ability to organize people and resources in a very efficient manner.  I can get entire groups on the same page within seconds.  I plan, organize, and carry out events, all while making sure everything is done correctly, on time, and without waste.

Administrators are very good with details.  We have an extremely strong awareness of how each individual person, or part of the group, is contributing to the overall goal.  We always know if each resource is being used in the best way possible, and immediately fix it, if it is not.

Regardless of how we think our job looks in the eyes of others, our job is important.  Each spiritual gift is necessary for the body to be effective and function properly as a whole.  Seek God out to discover your gift, and do it."

“They charge like warriors; they scale walls like soldiers.  They all march in line, not swerving from their course.  They do not jostle each other; each marches straight ahead.  They plunge through defenses without breaking ranks.”  
Joel 2:7-8

Think you relate to Kaity's gift of administration?  Check out the verses recommended on this site:
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