DEAR WHITE PEOPLE: Movie Review

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It's no secret that racial tensions are alive and well today. For black people this movie was brilliant and laced with truth and statistics. Why do you think real housewives of Atlanta (all the housewives shows) get so many views? People love to watch that mess and guess what? Who mainly watches it? A Caucasian audience, the same group who purchase 70 percent of the rap music played in this country. The point of Dear White People was to bring the dialogue and stereotypes to the forefront. To expose the fact that black people are lumped into a group and if you divert from that said "group" you are trying to be White or you have to earn your acceptance from the White community by proving that your education takes precedence over the color of your skin.The movie also revealed the inner tension amongst the black community. Some of us aren't the next Malcolm X and all White people aren't bad and awful, nor are they all racist. That would be a narrow view of people. It is ignorant to lump everyone in one group. I'm learning not to label people racist so quickly. I believe a lot of people are uneducated about black culture and therefore make assumptions and statements about black culture based on the news or TV shows. A lot of people do not live in an area where there are black people. So what they grasp of our culture is media based. Unfortunately, the media is biased. As much as we would like to think racism is dead it isn't. When you turn on your TV and you watch who the reporters choose to interview on local television (Antoine Dodson, Sweet Brown), you know there is an agenda-get ratings. While we all laugh (myself included) and joke, the truth is, people view black culture through that lens. Let a Black person be dressed nice and articulate their words and it's as if you are apart of a zoo, everyone is fascinated that you have been "tamed". When in fact, slang was never allowed in my household and my dad was a stickler about our presentation and dressing nicely.My daddyHonestly, growing up, I did not like my skin color. Lighter the better. I wished God made me light like my dad. I felt the inner struggle of being called "white" because I was educated and articulated my words. On top of that I was homeschooled. Can you just guess how many black kids were at the homeschool group? Like 10 out of over a 100. It was hard to find people to identify with. The reason I personally didn't struggle that much with being the only black person was because my parents never allowed us to view our skin color as a disadvantage. Truth is, no matter that country or area of the world you are from, in America, people see black, white, Hispanic, Asian, and indian decent,etc. we are all lumped in groups based on looks. No one is going to look at me and see that my great grandmother was half white and we are of German decent on my paternal side, no one will look at me and know that. They just see black and my hair.Now as an adult, I have learned how to love myself and love my heritage and culture. I have also become quite aware of how differences still exist. While my crew and friends are diverse, the world does not look at me the way they do. We have worked hard to build a friendship. We have worked hard to learn about one another's cultures and have engaged in hard conversations with one another.Dear White People was a breath of fresh air for me. One of the opening lines said "Dear White People the amount of black friends you need to have so you don't seem racist has now been raised to 2." It challenges popular culture and shows that black young people are trying to hold onto their heritage and be a people who can be proud of who we are and where we come from. I don't want to give up my culture to fit in. It won't happen. I've spent my young teen years trying to camouflage my heritage. My great grandparents and grandparents fought too hard for my freedoms for me to throw their hard work away. I want to be apart of breaking stereotypes about black culture. The news and mass media paint us in such a negative light. FACT: There are bad people everywhere of every color.I so desperately wish hair, color and everything else weren't dividing factors. I wish it wasn't something that kids got teased over. I wish we could all get along. I wish we could have these hard conversations without fear of retaliation from one side vs. the other. I wish we could unite and learn from one another. I wish people didn't point out when all the black people are on one side of the room like its a big deal. No one says anything about segregation until a group of black people are sitting together amongst white people and all the sudden we have a non "blended" group. Why is this an issue? Why do we make it an issue? Trust me I wrestle with this because there are things that I have said and done and wondered, why do I think my hair is not as good because it is corse? Why have I thought I'm not as beautiful because my skin is dark? Why have I thought, I don't want to marry someone dark so my kids won't be dark and have to deal with being teased? Why? I have a lot of questions and not many answers besides a burden to pray and a heart to see Black people believe the best of themselves and understand that they can accomplish their goals and don't have to give into the status quo that we are less than, because we are not. No matter what our skin color is and where we are from, we all have purpose and value.I love teaching and helping. I love telling people about black culture and explaining our jokes and humor. I would teach a class or hold a webinar for people wanting to learn more about black hair and how to do it. Especially for the adoptive moms. Raising a black child can be hard. Trust me, if I have experienced it and felt the differences and feeling out of place and I had two black parents, imagine what a kid who doesn't have that will feel like? It's tough and I'm praying for all of you as you navigate tough waters.Moving forward starts with people coming with open hearts and minds and leaving their backpack full of junk behind (maybe we need to throw out some tables as James suggested). It's time for our nation to realize that racial tensions and biases still exist. That's why Ferguson is experiencing so much tension. It's evident that local leadership must change. Whatever the story, black youth being killed by the police is a problem. We have a justice system to deal with offenders accordingly (I am not going to get into our flawed justice system dialogue, that is a whole different discussion).Something has got to change. It's starts with us. It starts with knowing who our local leadership is. Not only that, we need more diversity in politics and we need for more minorities to get engaged in representing the communities. Especially communities whose demographics are predominantly minorities. We need to educate our youth and young adults on the importance of local elections. It's imperative that we learn the value of voting. There was a lot of depth in movie. Although it was presented in a funny manner, the purpose was to make people think. To me it's great way to begin the hard discussion that needs to occur between cultures. My friend, James Hill said it best in his article "Don’t Invite Me to the Table (Allow Me to Help You Turn it over and Take it out)"

However, I am fervently convinced that we cannot have constructive dialogue until we are first willing to partake in deconstructive dialogue. I believe with all my heart that if our unity is based on a fallacy, blessed be division. Moreover, I am all for inclusion, however, when our ‘inclusion’ is used as a subtle tactic to eviscerate a movement of all its raw and influential potency, it becomes nothing more than a co-opted tool of Satan and must be extinguished at the root. It does us no good to ornately decorate a table in the midst of burning house. We preserve ourselves, not by taking a seat at a table that is sure to be consumed in fire, but, rather, by having enough sense to know that sitting down is not what we need to be doing as the roof is caving in on us.I understand that removing a table concretized in moral folklore is never easy. Many have taken pride in the so-called table of reconciliation. You’ve told many jokes on this table. You’ve shared countless half-off appetizers on this table. There is no way you can muster the strength and courage to flip over the table of unseen power and privilege. Don’t worry, we see your struggle.Allow us to help you take it out. We never liked that table anyway.

I am thankful to be apart of a generation willing to get dirty and tear off the roofs of oppression. A generation willing to go to bat for one another. This movement happening in Ferguson, Hong Kong and all over the nation and world is about people of all colors standing up for freedom and saying NO MORE.hong kong protestComment below, I would love to hear your thoughts.signature-wordpress

Dreaming Keeps Me Awake At Night

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One of my friends called me last night with the best news ever. We squealed like little girls for while, bursting with excitement. Do any of you dream with your friends? If you don't have a few trusted people to dream with it's quite boring. My old roommate and I have talked about our lives and dreams for years. To see a glimpse and a part of that dream come to life is heart warming. It's inspiring. It's worth squealing over. I've said it time and time again. My friends are world changers. They have the most giving hearts. I am so privileged to know them.

After dreaming with my sweet friend, I could not sleep. I laid wide awake. So of course I started to write until I couldn't keep my eyes open anymore. When I woke up, I was plastered to my pillow half-regretting my writing escapade into the wee hours of the morning. Yet, part of me woke up really excited and fulfilled because a dream worth pursuing is worth staying up late for. Dreams are worth believing in. Worth praying over. Worth crying over. Worth fighting for.

I believe Generation Y is a significant generation. We will either make a huge difference or mess everything up. I like to think that we will make a huge impact. I get excited when I see my peers starting a business, creating an app, becoming lawyers and doctors, moving overseas, getting married, having children,starting amazing careers, and writing. We have something to offer this world. We may be young but our age doesn't define us. We all have something unique and significant to offer.

The next time you feel like you have failed because you don't know what your dreams are, haven't found your dream job, or you feel really stuck; remember that you are valid. Keep working towards your dreams and goals. Things take time. Our generation believes in instantaneous success that will involve little-to-no effort, unfortunately, that is a shallow point of view. If you want something bad enough you will work for it. Educate yourself in college or trade school. Get some credibility and knowledge. Learn to present yourself as a professional. Carry yourself with confidence. Write out your goals and things you would like to accomplish. I recently wrote out my #Next5 (Goals I want to accomplish in the next 5 years). If I actually accomplished 3 out of the 5 goals, I would feel really great. My goals are pretty ambitious and a little fear started to creep in but I told fear to shut up.

 

So if you are like me and your dreams keep you awake at night, keep dreaming & drink a lot of coffee.

I'll be introducing you all to a few of my friends who have big dreams and goals in a blog series called "Not so Ordinary Dreamers". They are doing great things in their communities. I can't wait to introduce them to you! Gen Y, let's stick together.

 

XOXO

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Beauty In A Broken Shoe

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Somehow breaking my shoe, broke something inside of me.

[God speaks to me in the oddest ways so just keep reading]

As weird as that sounds, my last blog revealed what I've been struggling with, and I've been dead set on showing up in my life. I've been set on being present and not shrinking back when I make a mistake. I've been set on showing myself mercy instead of criticism. I've been set on choosing joy instead of wallowing in sadness. I've been learning that comparison will fail me every time. However,the one thing I've been trying to learn forever, is how to except and believe that I am beautiful. I wanted to really see it all the time. I wanted to see what people see in me.

Can I tell you something?

My idea of beauty is not what true beauty is. I've felt like beauty equates to women who seem to have their "hair done, nails done, and everything did" I am not that girl. While I enjoy dressing cute, I don't wear heels all the time. I would rather wear flats. I'm not the chick that needs to be perfectly put together every time I step foot out of my house. I've considered myself the "girl next door" in looks. Not drop dead gorgeous but good looking. Still, in spite of feeling beautiful when people tell me or looking in the mirror and thinking, "okay today you look alright", I had yet to get it for myself. Don't get me wrong people, I've been working on this area of my life. It has not been neglected. I have a plethora of Christian books about beauty and purity to supply a whole youth ministry. Somehow I still missed the point.

Today, I was almost at my job (I have to walk about .25 miles to my actual office from my car) and I hear a tearing noise. My worst fear was happening. I stopped. Looked at my shoe and thought okay it's fine. I Looked back up, took one more step, and then the strap on my shoe broke. Now I was faced with the problem of walking really weird all the way to my office. My shoes were making that awful scuffing noise and I was trying to hold them together. I tried taping them at my desk and that failed. I managed to get through the day scuffing my way through the office while my shoe was held up by a binder clip.

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Yes, I know, so tacky but I was desperate. Feeling confident about my contraption I decided to walk back to my car with my binder clip shoe on. I seemingly fixed the problem right? So why should I worry? I cross the street no problem, than I get to the sidewalk and immediately my shoe falls apart again. By now, This is when the light bulbs start going off in my head,
I realized that I could work really hard to hold something together and scuff my way through it. I could walk around trying to blend in and make sure no one knew my shoe was falling apart. Or I could just take my shoes off and stop pretending that they aren't broken.

When I took my physical shoes off, my mental shoes and blinders came off too. All the sudden the way I wanted to feel about my value and worth was clear because I changed my perspective. I wasn't worried about being put together. I wasn't comparing myself to those with their shoes on or how nice or expensive they were. I was enjoying my freedom. My feet were touching the unsanitary heat-filled concrete. And with every step on the .25 mile walk to my car, a little piece of self-doubt vanished. I got home looked at myself in the mirror and I could finally see what everyone else sees.

BEAUTY.

Hopefully it won't take you breaking your shoes to get a breakthrough like I did! I have no clue how these revelations come to me and bring me freedom but God knows how to speak to me.

Here's a little poem I wrote about beauty:

Beauty beauty
I want to be you
Easily desired
And easily pursued
They told me what your made of
And I'm buying all the ingredients
But when I dress up like you
I don't get the same results
You get love
I get side hugs
Measuring up to you and Proverbs 31 is much too hard
I'm not sure all I am is all of what you are
Then again maybe I've been given the wrong ingredients
I got my recipe from magazines,TV, men, and music
They have got you all wrong
You are strong
You are brave
You are wise
You are lovely
Yet, somehow you were belittled to looks only
If beauty was just looks, we would be in trouble
There would be no room for
Intellect
Character
And integrity
All of which encompass beauty
A Beauty that exists everywhere
A Beauty that is seen
A Beauty that is heard
A Beauty that is adored
A Beauty that is roared from the smallest soul to the oldest
I am beauty and so are you
Roar Beauty Roar

 
XOXO
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How I got Interrupted.

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I have been at an critical place in my young adult life. This book review will be a filled with my journey and how Jen Hatmaker’s books wrecked me.

I had spent a month in Rwanda in 2010 and a month in Thailand in 2011. Seeing the love for Christ people had overseas shook me. Their approach to engaging their community and their humility taught me how apathetic and bored I was with church as I knew it to be, yet while overseas I came alive. I loved the way they worshipped God. There was sincerity in it. In America we can just fake it and we get so wrapped up in our appearance that the whole idea of being real with our questions, doubts and concerns is so foreign. Its like we are all waiting for that outspoken person to name the elephant in the room. As if we are all on the edge of our seats, waiting for someone to ask, is this it? Is this what church is about? Can church be really simple like it is for the Rwandan people and the Thai people? These were some of my questions back then and they have lingered in my mind for years.

I have never come home from another country and not cried at least for a week because I am just so broken by all that I have experienced and I wonder what I am missing. I’ve never decided to dig deeper into those questions or really ask God those hard questions because I didn’t know where to start and lets be real- I felt crazy for having those questions. I was raised in church, ministry was my life but somehow it felt like I was missing the main point.

So lets fast-forward to April 2014 when things really changed. I read 7 by Jen Hatmaker. I had been following her blog for a year so naturally when my best friend says she has been crying and reading this book and I have to get it, I bought it the same day. She said oh you will love it. (Jenna and I are like hippie-Jesus loving free spirits that believe anything is possible. We used to sit in the children’s book section in the local bookstore and dream. Yep, we would let our imaginations go where only they could and believe that God could/would do something amazing. ) I had never read anything by an author that openly shared her wrestles and questions with life and church culture, as I knew it to be. As far as I knew, I only talked with a few friends in hopes that I wouldn’t be shunned for my thoughts on the “stuff” we do in church that has nothing to do with souls and Jesus. Most of what I was involved in was all about self-promotion and using that man made platform to build the kingdom. That is what I grew up seeing. In Jen’s book 7 she really digs deep into her transforming journey of letting go of excess and the pursuit of “stuff stuff stuff, more more more” and looking into how her family could change the course of their lives by pouring their finances and resources into things that actually matter. But really, 7 is just the sequel to her book Interrupted. Interrupted is the book I want to talk to you about.

I just gave you a super long intro but I really wanted to set the stage for this book. Reading 7 and interrupted led to the most impactful permutation in my young adult life.

 I will cover a few key areas that wrecked me while reading interrupted.

One major area I wrestled with was the churches responsibility to care for the hurting and broken. I knew that an occasional food drive was not really going to address the needs of the community. It had to start with us the church (the individuals). Jen explains it this way: “We don’t get to opt out of living on mission because we might not be appreciated. We’re not allowed to neglect the oppressed because we have reservations about their discernment. We cannot deny love because it might be despised or misunderstood. We can’t withhold social relief because we are not convinced it will be properly managed. We can’t project our advantaged perspective onto struggling people and expect results available only to the privileged. Must we be wise? Absolutely but doing nothing is a blatant sin of omission.”

I found myself on the cusp of ignoring the needs of the community, forgetting the life transforming moments overseas, and settling into my own world oblivious to the needs of those around me and depending on others to see the need and meet it, not me. The real question is why not me? Why not you? Why aren’t we engaging in our community. This simple wrestle is what Jen’s beautifully documents. It’s her journey from ministry and life as she knew it to God brining her husband and family into a “new thing” and ministry via community and building relationships and out of those relationships people coming to Christ. Allowing people to belong before expecting them to behave. Her journey is raw, exciting, and thought provoking. You really can’t read this book without asking yourself, what am I all about? When was the last time I spent time with my neighbor or served the poor not because I was looking to be thanked, but because I was purely interested in their world and serving them because they are human. They have life. They are family. Somehow, life became all about us and we won’t reach out to others if it is an inconvenience or if the people around us don’t look and act like us. Where did we adapt that attitude? Where did I adapt that attitude?

 Jen talks about movement and going when you feel God is leading you into a new thing

Jen states, “When we feel we are supposed to do something radical we can expect it to be misunderstood.” I am not sure what that looks like for you. Maybe its moving to a new city, going back to college, getting a new job, restoring broken relationships. Whatever the case maybe, Jen mentions, “part of the task is going without knowing…if you go wherever God says and when, expect to be misunderstood. And go anyway” Oftentimes, we are waiting on the approval from too many people to just leap when we know in our gut that is what we are supposed to do. No one said leaping would be easy. No one said the next steps would be painted in the sky but wouldn’t we spoil everything if we knew it all? Most of the time we don’t need all the details.

 Interrupted describes a crossroad that many people, including myself, are at. Are you ready for a radical life-transforming adventure? If you are, maybe your heart is open to allowing God to interrupt life and church, as you know it. Interrupted gives you the permission to wrestle and the permission to evaluate your world. You can’t get through this book without feeling, inspired, challenged, and broken for the least. You also can’t read this book and expect to stay stagnant and not call into question life as you know it. If I assume correctly, we have all been challenged to allow God to interrupt our life but maybe fear, doubt, or worry have kept us from fully diving in. Either way, we must do it. We must make a conscious effort to be all in.

Jen’s approach is fun, relatable, and humble. While reading her book you feel as if you on a coffee date catching up on months of time that has passed and you just get to listen to this deep transformation that has taken place in her life. Through this story you leave inspired to love better, be more informed about your community, and allow God to interrupt you. Truth is, if I cam so consumed with serving God the way I want to, whose kingdom am I really building-his kingdom or my own? Comfortable Christianity won't cut it anymore.

I have never been in a place of such humility and brokenness until recently. I have never felt more vibrant, awake, and passionate about His kingdom before. I have layed my service schedule down and I have decided to follow his lead. I’ve been inspired, challenged, and interrupted.

Get the book, you won’t regret it.

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ABOUT JEN HATMAKER:

Jen Hatmaker is the author of 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess and A Modern Girl's Bible Study series. With a heart for her generation, she speaks at conferences around the country. Jen resides in Austin, Texas, with her husband, Brandon, and their five children. To learn more about Jen and follow her blog, go to www.jenhatmaker.com.

Lose myself

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I was reminded of the song "lose myself by Lauryn Hill" as I read Jen Hatmaker's book Interrupted (The expanded version is coming out soon. Get it. You won't be sorry). In cooperate America, its very clear that in order to gain "success" you have to climb your way to the top. One of the higher up's in my department put it this way," You have to play the game." I left that conversation even more confident that I was not made for the game nor did I want to play it. If playing the game was just for money, a title, pomp and circumstance; then I would not "succeed" in corporate America. I attended a meeting with someone and I left in tears. I was completely wrecked because everything I've been told to fight for in my career is not what I am passionate about. Trust me, I have tried to picture myself at a big desk at a great company climbing the ladder and after a few months, I am once again convinced, that is not the life for me; however, it is the life for some people and if you are that person, by all means please run in your lane, and succeed. As much as I detest this concept of fighting your way to the top it is not just in corporate America; I've seen this "race to the top" in church and even Christian organizations.

Fighting your way to the top in church may be guised with a seemingly well meaning intention but we all know the truth. Working your way to the "top" of the church world may equate to joining the "ranks" of: Priscila Shrier, Christine Caine, Beth Moore, Robert Madu, Chad Veach, Bob Goff, etc. The list could go on. We've all had our moments of admiration and awe that turn into a selfish desire to solely and maybe subconsciously pursue that platform. Those people are in their God-given lane and we can't mimic that. In church we see a pattern: you work the system of who you know -->Gain a position-->Get recognition-Its a tiring game. Luke talks about this is Chapter 14 verse 11 "If you walk around with your nose in the air, you’re going to end up flat on your face. But if you’re content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself.” The Amplified Bible states it this way, "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled (ranked below others who are honored or rewarded), and he who humbles himself (keeps a modest opinion of himself and behaves accordingly) will be exalted (elevated in rank)." Even still, Jesus is not saying, try to be seemingly "humble" so you will be elevated. If that is what we think he is saying, we (I) have missed the point.

I think Jen describes it best:

"I hate the top. I hate who I have to be to live there. I hate the biblical two step I have to perform to justify top-dwelling. I hate the posturing up there...I detest the fear that haunts every decision. It's a ridiculous game where everyone is either scratching your back or stabbing you in the back. Depending on whether your rung is above or below theirs. The self-congratulatory blustering up there is abhorrent. I'm so over it.Okay maybe it would be more true to say I want to be so over it. I'm trying to be over it."

When, I read these words, it was like someone articulated my feelings over the past few years. You don't want to play the game, in fact you are trying to get over it, because you are so done. Desperately done. The fact still remains that we are human and have a flesh. I have realized that I need to be "done" daily. I am so susceptible to the game. I've even found myself playing at times. Only to be reminded of who I am and how far I've allowed myself to drift from the truth. The line Jen stated that brings it all home is this: "In order for God's kingdom to come, my kingdom had to go." I can't tell you how many times I have prayed anxious prayers to the Lord crying out for "more of Him and less of me" and I've spent years earnestly soaking in more of me. Can I tell you, people, "I'm trying to be over it." So today I chose to be done and tomorrow I will do the same and so forth. Even when I chose the right mindset, I may slip and I may fall but I am starting somewhere.

I've spent a lot of time missing the main point. I don't have time to miss the point anymore. I want to keep the main thing the main thing. My scripture for this year has been Micah 6:8. It is hanging on my cork board at work. The minute I feel myself wandering from that and seeking success or fame and a following, I am missing it. I must draw myself back to square one: this is all about His kingdom.  I just get to be apart of it. How wonderful that he let's me be apart. Literally he is letting me in on what he is doing.

God gave me this dream to have a non-profit for teen mothers. I have labored and prayed over this dream for years and I continue to pray over it. One thing I have to check myself on, am I missing the point? Am I missing it? God don't let me miss the point of all of this. Truth is, I have a desire to help one momma at a time. It is so easy to get caught up in the emotion of doing something and wanting it to be big. When I find myself heading in that direction, I have to hit the breaks. The main thing is loving people, God's people. It's not about me. The dream was never about me. It was about God entrusting me to carry it. To love his people. To serve his people. Do I know what all of this will evolve into? No, I don't. I do know, it's not about a good social media campaign, marketing, or position. I so desperately want to get that concept with all I am. I want to dwell where Jesus is choose to and make my home there.

This weekend a Bishop Matthew, talked about home. How many people are trying to find "home" and a place to belong. Truth is, as Christians, we will never feel fully at home here. More importantly, "God's love is inside of us and his home is in us." So no matter where you go or where God sends you, his home is in us. "I will not leave you orphaned. I’m coming back. In just a little while the world will no longer see me, but you’re going to see me because I am alive and you’re about to come alive. At that moment you will know absolutely that I’m in my Father, and you’re in me, and I’m in you (John 14:18-20)."

So instead of me trying to clammer to the top at church, work, or with HHope. I am humbly seeking Christ daily, to learn how to let his love flow through me and draw people home- to Christ. This peace, joy, and love wasn't meant for me to keep it to myself. It was mean to be shared.

I can't ignore the hurting, broken, those in poverty, and the extreme needs all around the world. "Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you." (James 1:27). I refuse to befriend apathy and pride. I can't do it anymore. I must make more of an effort to lay "Faitth and all of her agendas" down daily. 

I want to lose myself so I can wake up, be present, and fully engaged in God's kingdom, not my own.

All Son's and Daughters sum up my heart beat:

"Wake up, wake up, wake upwake up all you sleepersStand up, stand upStand up all you dreamersHands up, hands upHands up all believersTake up your cross, carry it on"

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Jumping In

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My mom is not a hoarder by any means. In fact as a child, if something was missing I knew my mom threw it away. If it was't being used it was gone- just like that. We always had to clean out our closet and give our clothes away before we could get any new ones.

As a young adult, I have loved keeping my stuff. I enjoy all my furniture and all of the things I have bought that really make my room cosy. Ever since I took my shoes off, I decided that I really don't need all this stuff. So after thinking that I would sell the furniture in my room, I just gave it away. I put it out there on facebook and within 15 minutes everything was spoken for. I gave away my desk, dressers, vanity and couch. I've never been more happy to have an empty room. There is something fulfilling about letting go.

Truth is, I have a roof over my head, food, clothing, a car, a job, electronic devices, family and friends, etc. I really don't need anything else. One day I may replace my desk and dresser but I hope I never get attached to my stuff because I want to be ready to give my things away at a moments notice. It's just stuff.

I find so much joy in letting go of my selfish ways. I love that my room is not cluttered with stuff and I thought to myself, "Why didn't I do this sooner?!"

I was talking to my friend Jenna about this friday night and we both agreed that we would much rather give our stuff away than grow attached to it. We then started talking about missions and how we can do anything while on the mission field. We became friends while on a mission trip to Rwanda and we spent nearly a month together. Baby wipes were a necessity for "showering" purposes, bucket showers with cold water was the norm, using the restroom in a little stall with just a concrete hole in the ground, eating unidentifiable food, messy hair, no electricity= priceless. This thrill and joy from traveling to a different country and learning from people who live so simply, is irreplaceable. After each missions trip I swear I will get rid of more stuff and I usually spend the first week crying because I want to go back. That lasts for a little while and then I am back into the swing of getting more and more stuff-until recently...I wanted to clean things out. I wanted to jump into a life of selflessness.

I like to think the physical aspect of cleaning out my room represents the spiritual aspect of God cleaning out my heart. I can look back on this past year and see so many areas where my heart and mind have been cluttered.

I am truly understanding the concept of "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21" and "Sell what you have and give to those in need. This will fatten your purses in heaven! And the purses of heaven have no rips or holes in them. Your treasures there will never disappear; no thief can steal them; no moth can destroy them. Luke 12:33"

I never want to forget why God placed me on this earth. I want to pour my life out to others. It's easier said than done at times. I believe, when you show up willing, He does the rest.

You want to know a secret? It's always more fun to give than to receive.

Living a life of faith and trust in Jesus is an adventure.

I'm Jumping in with reckless abandon.

xoxo

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I love orphans.

orphansI was a case manager for a year and a half and I got to to work with children in foster care. Before earning a degree in social work, I was very ignorant about the foster care system. I did not know if orphanages still existed in the US or if children were just in foster homes-until I started my job and I met some of the faces that make up "foster care."

Children in foster care are judged before anyone even meets them. They are probably "bad" or have a lot of "issues." Potential adoptive parents want young children to complete their family. If you are 7 years old you better pray hard because most likely you will be passed over for a baby because you are far too old to "mold" and "shape". Thus they are left in the system, growing more emotionally closed and starting to question everyone and everything. They are used to being let down and people giving promises they cannot keep. They shuffle from home to home- trying to learn new rules each time. Have you ever been to a sleepover as a child but you couldn't sleep well because you were out of your home environment? Children in foster care have to adjust to new homes and wonder if they will be safe. They may not sleep well. They may wet the bed, make failing grades, or be disrespectful.

I was really apathetic towards children in foster care until I saw their faces and learned their names. 

Every time a child ran up to me for a hug or refused to let me leave, my heart melted each time. These children are worthy of love and belonging. Unfortunately the older they are the longer they will permanently bounce from home to home in the foster care system until they age out at 18. By that time many of them are homeless, pregnant, or facing jail time. I can only imagine how they would have turned out if someone took a chance to love them. Loving foster children is risky, especially the older ones, but I believe it is worth it. Did you know that girls in foster care are more likely to become teen mothers or pregnant before age 25?

The teen who taught me the most was one of my greatest challenges at first. She would not talk to me much. She kind of mumbled as she talked. I tried not to pry since they have to talk to several adults about their feelings and it can be overwhelming. So I tried building a rapport with her. I did not see the results of this rapport until a year later. She finally opened up to me. I knew there was something special about her and I wanted to remain involved in her life regardless of where my career led me. She had endured a lot of pain and hurt. She had trouble opening up to people and connecting with adults because one minute they would want her forever and the next they were done. She has a lot of fears and hesitations about being loved. She doesn't understand true self-sacrificing, unconditional, and selfless love, yet. I am hoping she will be able to see past all of her hurt and pain to see how much love is really surrounding her.

In spite of all this, she has marked my life forever. I think of her all the time. Just thinking about her hurt, pain, and life brings tears to my eyes. There is nothing I can say or do to take away her pain. She is just one of many. She is not a number. She has a name and real life.

Watching a family adopt their 16year old son was so powerful. He was so excited to belong to a family legally but to them he was already family and this just made it official. The concept of leaving the old behind and changing your name is so symbolic to me. National adoption day is my favorite. These adoption moments bring me to tears because these kids are so worthy of love and having a family.

There are well over 6000+ children/teens waiting for good homes. These children are not in an orphanage, they are in foster homes in your own backyard- longing for permanency. You would be surprised how fast some parents relinquish their rights and decide to leave their child in foster care. It's heartbreaking.

The most fulfilling work I've ever done was serve these legends. Remember for every number there is a name and a face-these are precious little lives. I hope your heart can be opened to adoption. It's a beautiful, tough, rewarding, and life-changing journey.

Get out there people. Open your homes. Love a child or teen.

If you are scared of being in it alone, you won't be! There are so many support groups that meet in person and online. You will have support.

You will not regret it.

If you don't feel called to adopt then help someone else financially.

Do your part.

You can learn more about adoption through All In Orphan Care and Arrow Child and Family Ministries.

XOXO

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Try

imageIts no secret that Colbie Caillat hit the jackpot with her song Try. Women all over the world are embracing the message of her song. I never realized how much I could relate to the words of her song until yesterday after listening to it several times.

Since I was a little girl, I struggled immensely with my self-esteem. I built my worth an value on the opinions of others. I idolized perfectionism because I wanted to be accepted so badly. It got me no where, literally. Once I realized that “fake it to you make it” was such a stupid statement I aimed to learn more about authenticity. My parents divorce put a "stain" on the perfect life I was trying to lead. I was the actress and I had a role to play. I perfected the statement "I'm good" even when I was not. I did not want people to know how "not fine" I was. I spent most of my time trying to be the "best" Christian and the "best" daughter and the "best" friend. I put all of this pressure on myself.  I was on a mission to please everyone- until I realized that I was loosing myself in doing so. For the people that knew me well; they held me in the darkest of nights and made sure I was aware that joy would come in the morning- and it did.

Joy did come. It did not come all at once. It came in waves. With each wave I gained more confidence, hope, and peace. I went back to square one. I am so glad I did because Jesus met me there. I laid down things idolized. I found myself steadily desiring less of what I wanted and more of what God wanted.

To me Jesus meeting me where I am, reminds me of the homecoming of the prodigal son. I believe that moment of acceptance and love embodies each time I run to God with tears in my eyes and a broken heart knowing when I get in his arms everything will be okay.

Living my life based on "works" or "doing the right thing" or "trying" to be perfect did not bring me freedom. In fact, it suffocated me.

Traveling to Mexico, Rwanda, and Thailand allowed me to see his love in the eyes of people all over the world and to remind me that his love is deep and all he wants is genuine love and worship. More than my worship, he wants me to know of his never-ending love.

I am about halfway through the book Carry on Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed (Thank you Alison for telling me about this book) and I am so inspired by Glennon Melton's authentic dialogue. She made a statement in her book that I believe is so true.

"We are often not permitted to tell the truth in everyday life. There is a small set of words and reactions and pleasantries we are allowed to say, like, "I'm fine and you?" But we are not supposed to say much of anything else, especially how we are really doing. We find out early that telling the whole truth makes people uncomfortable and is certainly not ladylike or likely to make us popular, so we learn to lie sweetly so that we can be loved. And when we figure out this system, we are split in two: the public self, who says the right things in order to belong, and the secret self who thinks other things."

I love that powerful truth. She isn't saying go tell random strangers about your whole life but she is addressing our culture of always having to "be okay" for people so we can "save face". The truth is that a lot of people feel like they have to "try" in some area of their life. This goes for men and for women.

Now I am embracing my imperfections. I'm not "trying" anymore. I am not pretending anymore. I am truthfully and unapologetically me. I know I won't please everyone, oh well. I'm staying honest and showing up. Someday's it harder to show up than others but I still show up. I think that is the point. When we get lost in all of our issues we stop showing up because we feel we cannot win. The truth is we can win. Healing from wounds can be so painful but being on the other side is even better than standing still. Truth be told, when you are in pain, you may feel like crying, cursing,praying,worshipping or being silent. I believe everyone needs a friend that will walk though muck and mire with you and make sure you do not sink and that your faith does not fail you. I have some wonderful soul sisters, Abby and Jenna, that have been with me on my mountain top moments and in the valley. They have held my hands up when I was weak and danced with me in victory. Their unconditional love has been water to my soul.

I know life happens. There will always be something to overcome. We will have to press through tough times and seasons. But now I come to the table ready with God's word on my lips because I want to be more prepared than I was before. There will be days where I am weak and I will cry and I will feel tired but this time I will choose to walk in strength. I will not believe my emotions because they cannot be trusted.

Same goes for you. You are much stronger than you think you are. When you feel like the weight of the world is crashing down don't despair. You are only getting stronger. You may hurt now but it won't last forever- joy will come.

True freedom comes from knowing your daddy God is welcoming you home with open arms everyday- no matter what you look like or how much you messed up. Some people make God seem like he is sitting up in heaven waiting to punish us but I feel like he would be singing "You don't have to try, try, try, try" because we are already accepted. We are already loved and everyday he is drawing our hearts to His. He believes in our worth and value and I know He is beckoning us to believe it too.

Choose to show up and be present. This world needs you.

Here is a question we must all ask ourselves:

"When you're all alone, by yourself, do you like you?

Do you like you?"

Colbie Caillat

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We weren't always this close...

MOTHERS DAY is a day to celebrate these wonderful selfless human beings that raise children who eventually become presidents, doctors, pastors, scientist, architects, athletes, musicians, and daughters that one day become mothers. 

As a child I was closer to my dad than my mom. I thought my mom was not cool. She did not dress cool like the other moms. She was not "hip" like I wanted her to be (real selfish right?!) and I did not understand her. We are already completely opposite personality wise. I could have sworn that God gave me the wrong mother. I was a good kid but once I turned 10 my mom and I had a rough road ahead. I never wanted her to be around my friends. She was not cool enough. I even had the audacity to try (notice I said try because it did not work) and ignore her in public. I remember a season where weren't getting along. I was constantly saying hurtful things and giving her a hard time. It was rough #TheStruggle. There are so many stories I could tell but just know, I had plenty of come to Jesus meetings with my mom during those pre-teen/teen years. She was a force to be reckoned with and Lord knows you do not mess with a black momma.

Thankfully college and distance helped our relationship to really have time to grow and develop. After I graduated from college I needed a roommate to live with in Houston. I desperately wanted to live in the city. So my mom packed up her stuff and moved to the city a few months before me. We had a rough start as "grown" up roommates. Let me tell you, I have been trying for a year to get another roommate but it just doesn't work out. We have become such buddies. My mom has literally become my best friend. I completely understand her now. In fact, I am so humbled that I get to be her daughter. She may have held me up in 300 + prayer meetings growing up but she taught me how to talk to God and listen for his voice. She taught me how to serve others, how to forgive quickly, extend grace, be a lady, be the hands and feet of Jesus, and chase after my dreams. If I tell my mom my biggest dream, she says, "Yes I can see that. Lets get started, lets make it happen!" She is the most incredible human being I have ever met. I wouldn't trade her as a roommate for anything! What fun we have! Movie nights, running together, praying together, laughing together, and watching our favorite shows. Did I mention that she is a counselor? So yes, I get free informal counseling sessions. She is keeping me in line people. She is the best. I want to love and display Jesus to people the way she does to me on a daily basis.

So to all you mommies out there. You are doing a great job. If in moments we kids don't seem to like you, don't worry it will get better. We will learn that you were right about a lot of stuff. We will learn how much we need you and value you. Its a process but trust me, we will get it. You all are the most precious people and I admire each and everyone of you.

 

Happy Mothers Day to all!

 

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