Saturday, we wait. Sunday, we rise.

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I am moving.Before I share all the details of when, where, who, and how; let me start from the beginning of this journey for me personally.A few years ago, my friend Patty and I were reflecting on Saturday, the day after Jesus died, and how in life we have Saturdays; days of grief and pain. The beauty is Saturday does not last forever. Our hearts anticipate Sunday, the rising, the resurrection. In order to get to Sunday, we must endure Saturday. During this time, I've been in a liminal space between where I am and where I am headed. The wait has felt like, anticipating a package in the mail but it hasn't arrived yet. You know its enroute, you just don't have it in your possession.The past 7 months have been heartbreaking and healing for me personally.  It's been my Saturday and I have cried more times than I can count. It hasn't been easy but saying yes to Jesus will and plan for my life has and will always be the best yes, I've ever given.While traveling on tour for work a few years ago I got this deep sense that I would move and I wouldn't stay in Texas. The main thing keeping me in Texas was my family. I decided on the tour the two cities I could afford to live in (I love you Cali but I am not ready for you to have all my money!) were Atlanta, GA and Charlotte, NC. Both cities caught my attention but I came home tried to re-settle into Houston beginning of 2017. I tried to truly settle in but I just didn't feel deeply connected. I LOVE Houston so this was really weird for me. I've also stayed to myself quite a bit in this season so I really wasn't sure what God was up to.One day I pondered moving, once again, but now I lived in a townhouse with my brother, his wife, and my nephew. It didn't seem feasible and I really wanted to be a part of my nephew's life. My parents moved us to Texas away from family so I know how it is to grow up away from your aunties, uncles, and cousins. My brother and I always talked about staying close to one another if we could so moving was off the table for the moment.A few weeks later, my brother tells me that he is praying about moving to Greenville, South Carolina (located right in between Atlanta and Charlotte, NC) to serve under Pastor John Gray who is taking over Redemption Church, soon to be named Relentless Church. I was shocked because we just signed an 18-month lease for a townhouse in Rice Military, I was just feeling like I had some sense of "permanency".No one in our family had ever been to Greenville, SC so I decided I wanted to go check it out in January. My friend Stephanie told me to fly into Atlanta and she would drive me to Greenville and we would look around. Stephanie has been a pillar for me during this season of singleness. She is one of the first people I talked to after my break-up last year and has prayed me through some of the toughest times in my life. At the end of the trip, we sat in a little coffee shop, wrote out our life roadmap using the passion planner layout and then talked about our dreams and goals. I shared with her that I felt like I needed to move to Greenville but I wasn't sure why and I knew everyone would think it was all for my brother but I felt deep inside there was a purpose for me too, I just don't know what it is yet. While tears poured down my face, Stephanie spoke life over me and I felt hope begin to arise in my heart.I went home with a full heart and LOTS of questions but I began planning a cross-country move while beginning the semester for graduate school as an intern and taking one online course. Full-time work and full-time school. If you haven't seen or heard from me much, now you know why.IMG_2385Here are some FAQ, I'll answer below:Where are you working?I've worked for Legacy Collective for about two years, as the Communications and Programming Director. I work remotely but fly/drive to any work meetings or events I need to attend.What is Legacy Collective?Legacy Collective is a donor-advised fund, where people give anywhere from $10-$250+ per month and we give quarterly grants to organizations providing sustainable solutions to systemic issues. Basically, young people like me can give $20 a month a be a huge part of the $60,000+ grants we give away. We ONLY give to organizations nominated by our community members. Together we help further the work of existing organizations doing great work.  Members donate ($10-$99); partners donate + nominate organizations for funding ($100-$249), investors donate+ Nominate+ Vote on who receives funding ($250+).If you want to learn more about the organization I work for visit our Website.And if you want to join our community by donating monthly, join online.(Shameless plug for my job)When are you finished with Grad School?I have 5 weeks left of my internship, I finish May 4th! I then have a Maymester course and one Summer Course that finishes in August. After this semester, I have two classes standing between me and a graduate degree!What do you plan to do with your Social Work Degree?Study and take the licensing exam, then continue working for Legacy Collective. I absolutely LOVE my job.Are you still going to be roommates with your brother and his family?No, I am not. I will be living in a loft right outside of downtown! I haven't been there physically but I know I am going to love it. I selected my apartment end of February and ironically enough a week and a half ago, my brother found a place 5 minutes from me, so we will still be close by!What will you do in Greenville?I will work for Legacy Collective, study for my LMSW exam, and most likely start a Be The Bridge group there! You all know I am passionate about racial reconciliation and I completely adore our BTB ambassador team, that works tirelessly to make our BTB so great!I will make new friends, get involved at Relentless Chruch, continue being an Auntie, and join local advocacy groups. And I will write to my heart's content.What about your mom?She is going, too! She will live with me to start off as she learns the city and gets her bearings. She has never been to Greenville so the day she arrives will be her first time in the city! I am excited for her to come because she will be my trainer and get my butt back in shape, ha.Will you and your brother keep your YOUTUBE show?YES! We plan to continue. Moving has taken over our lives the past few months but we will re-group once I get settled.Are you excited?I am thrilled. I have been longing for adventure and a change of pace. This move places me closer to my Atlanta sisters and I am so grateful for that. I am also really ready for something different and I am excited to explore the states around me! I am gearing up for some summer travel and after being on a bit of a travel hiatus due to interning, I am itching to get on a plane, ASAP.When do you move?In 5 weeks. I won't be able to see everyone before I go but if you are in Houston, I'd love to hug your neck!__________I am coming into my Sunday and I have long awaited this day. The clouds that seemed to hang over my head are dissipating. Worry is only but a whisper and fear is not gripping my heart. I am walking forward with open hands and a heart that is an open space. I've spent a lot of time in prayer about this upcoming season and I feel deeply grateful for what is to come.I believe Barbra Brown Taylor's article eloquently describes Holy Saturday. I will leave a quote below.

That is what Holy Saturday has taught me about being Christian. Between the great dramas of life, there is almost always a time of empty waiting — with nothing to do and no church service to help — a time when it is necessary to come up with your own words and see how they sound with no other sounds to cover them up. If you are willing to rest in this Sabbath, where you cannot see your hand in front of your face and none of your self-protective labors can do you one bit of good, then you may come as close to the Christ as you will ever get — there in that quiet cave where you wait to see how the Maker of All Life will choose to come to you in the dark.

May Grace and Peace be with you all.xoxoFaitthB

Everyone is Hurting

Everyone is Hurting

I know most people feel like they limped into 2017. Some bruised. Some wounded. Some angry. Some grieving. Some questioning. Some filled with joy. I feel like some people are trying to sort through the heightened emotions of 2016 the way we sort through our dirty laundry. Which clothes do I wash first?

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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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What's Mom Got To Do With It?

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In one of my previous blog posts I touched on my relationship with my mom. Feel free to read that one first and then come back to this post.

I have realized that Mom has to do with my whole life.

  1. Mom laid down pursuing her dreams to awaken the dreamer in me.
  2. Mom made $10,000 her first year as a single mother.
  3. Mom worked part-time at Ann Taylor to support us while building her life-coaching business.
  4. Mom served others.
  5. Mom served me when I was so unworthy of her generosity.
  6. Mom stayed strong when I was in pain.
  7. Mom told me that I would influence this generation so many times that I actually believe her now.
  8. Mom taught me life lessons I'll never forget.
  9. Mom never judged me and always welcomed me home with open arms when I made mistakes.
  10. As an adult, Mom taught me to think on my own and make informed decisions.
  11. Mom let me grow up and she let me have space to learn on my own.
  12. Mom always stayed close by.
  13. Mom is beautiful and taught me to love my beautiful brown face and hair. She would look me in the eyes and say, "You are a beautiful brown girl and I love you."
  14. Mom affirmed me, even when I went through a phase where I was convinced she did not love me.
  15. Mom cheers me on and encourages me. My favorite quotes from her are: "You are Faitth with two t's because you are unique and no one can be you" "Go for it my little trailblazer" "I love you princess" "My little fireball"

Yeah, she ran an half-marathon or maybe it was a full marathon...either way she ran a long distance.

My mom would always correct me when needed but she was careful not to crush "my spirit." I have a strong personality. I am opinionated, I talk a lot, I am animated and dramatic, I am passionate, there is not an introverted aspect to my personality at all, and I talk to strangers. I am the child that calls home to tell my mom about my passion for missions and at 20 years old I am leading a trip to Thailand with a bunch of college kids. I am the child that rides on an elephants neck in Thailand and feels alive, I am the child that said "I am not a girly girl" and kept up with everything my brother did, I am the child that would harbor sins of the heart and not overt disobedience. I am the child that made her get on her knees and pray a lot, I hurt her feelings several times, I made her cry several times, and I was a whole lot to handle. Somehow, she never spoke negatively about me. In fact, she told me how much she loved my bubbly personality and the fact that I could make the whole family laugh till they cried. She let me sing to my hearts content and encouraged me to write songs and pursue my love for music. If I was being disrespectful she would say, "Faitth you are very respectful." She wasn't saying it sarcastically either, she would call out greatness and eventually (sometimes years later) see the fruit of those confessions. My mom knew she was raising leaders. She would often pray over my brother and I "God don't promote them to a place their character can't keep them." Her prayer was that our character would always be developed first before we were promoted to any position. This has remained her prayer and she has seen it answered time and time again.

When developing a relationship with my brother and I as adults, she completely switched gears from mommy to friend and guidance counselor. She still does mommy-like things but she lets me have freedom. I moved in with my mom after college and it was a little rough at first but my brother told me to stick it out. He literally had to tell me how good it was for me to have this time with my mom, I felt he was fooling me because he had roommates and that seemed more appealing. In the beginning I was counting down till our lease was up so I could move out. Well 2 and a half years later, we are still living together. Our only request to each other is to keep one another posted on our whereabouts, that's it. She set up no rules for me- we are roommates. I pay my half and she pays hers. She will give suggestions laced with prayer and guidance; she has learned how to influence me as an adult. She is sneaky but it works.

My mom went skydiving with friends while I was in college.

 We are so opposite. I will run around and stay busy at all times. My mom will stay home and read books and throw in occasional socialization. She reads probably one book a week. She is brilliant people. I mean brilliant. She is my opposite but I love it. I love introverts so much. It has taken me a while to understand you people but now I want to be your friend. Obviously it's not surprising that half of my close friends are introverts. My mom is so calm that I get frazzled when I am surrounded by people that are easily stressed. She would always say "don't sweat the small stuff Faitth." She has learned all about who I am from living with me as an adult. She has learned that sometimes I want affection, other times I don't want to be bothered at all (this is my "do not talk to me at all" mood), I want her to listen to my ranting social justice discussions(She is so gracious- I have a lot of these moments), I want us to watch a show together, I want to sleep in her bed because I had a hard day and I want her near by. She is always available. She lives her life like that for other people as well.

If I go through a break up I can expect ice cream girl talk at Chick-Fil-A. If I go on a road trip and I am tired she will talk to me most of the way. Sometimes she is just on the phone and we aren't saying anything. She has prayer meetings with me and my friends( Jessica you know what that is all about! lol). She makes my friends her daughters. In fact my best friend Abby and my mom text each other, Ha. It is the funniest thing ever. She is present and her presence gives me confidence. So mom you should write a book on parenting because being an African-American homeschool mother with her Masters Degree in Christian counseling, creating your own high school transcripts for your homeschooled kids that went onto graduate from college and begin successful careers. Raising two children that adore you- is pretty rare these days. People need your voice.

Did you know my mom is a life coach, speaker, and author? :)

I could go on and on about how my mother's influence has changed my life. In the teenage years a lot of times girls disconnect with their mothers because we see things about our mom's that we don't want to be. Little do we know, years later we will take on some of those character traits that we loathed (Trust me mom's you will get a laugh when this happens). We will realize that we need you and holding you at bay is not productive. Give us time mom's. We will come around.

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.

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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Taking My Shoes Off

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As a young professionals, we have days where we wake up and think, yes I am looking good. That was me today, pencil skirt to my knees nice black shirt. I was looking right. Until I finished my 10 minute walk from my parking garage to my building and realized that my skirt had completely turned and the split was now on the side of my thigh instead of behind me (like it started). So imagine me trying to fix my skirt in horror and hope that no one is in the stair well so I can fix it, only to have a man graciously come out of the stairwell as I am entering it in utter distress. He leaves; I attempt to straighten my skirt. Then I think “okay I will fix the rest when I get to my office.” As I am walking to my office I see my reflection in the windows and realized the 10 minute walk also destroyed my hair and of course, humidity has permission to take hold of any hairdo and mess it up.

Needless to say I thought I looked cute until I got work and had to “get dressed” all over again.

Today with my outfit all messed up, I was reminded that life happens. Skirts get turned around and your hair gets messed up. Nothing is perfect. I have wrestled with trying to be the perfect in my relationship with God, it was tiring and stressful. I've spent a lot of time dressing up for church and "dressing" up as a Christian. All the while, I was feeling like I was in a box and had to love and serve Jesus a certain way. Recently, Romans 14:22-23 has helped me a lot in this area.

I graduated from college with bachelors in social work and an associate’s degree in Biblical Studies- and I still had questions about God. I wondered if that was allowed, but inwardly I wondered if all of the things I had been told growing up truly reflected the heart of God.

I’ll admit I have had moments of real unbalance where I was just angry with Christians and really did not want to be associated with the callus words that were brought to life through their fb status. I just did not want to be a part of showing hatred to people with different views than me. I really wondered if this was who we have become as Christians. Do we really treat people this way? Do I treat people this way?

I was wrestling with why I believed what I believed but I wasn’t talking about it.

RELIGION NEVER BECKONED ME TO TAKE MY SHOES OFF and get dirty.

I watched this TED talk with Brene Brown about vulnerability.

I realized that I was not a vulnerable person. Am I honest with people, like really honest? No. Remember I am the one trying to put myself together in the stairwell before I get to my desk. I have not been really vulnerable with anyone except my family and two friends.

I talked with my "brother" Jerome and Shonda and they gave me some life changing advice. 

They gave me the Permission to Wrestle and did not condemn me.

That changed everything.

The permission to wrestle led me through a deep season of self-evaluation.

Earlier this year in a matter of months, everything I had in place and all my plans had been stripped away. It was me and Jesus and that was when the work began.  During this time I never heard the audible voice of God but through these books 7 by Jen Hatmaker and Love Does by Bob Goff, reading my Bible, worship, and prayer I put myself in the position to ask some hard questions. How was I behaving? Was any of my behavior reflecting the heart of Jesus? How long had I been missing the main point of my whole existence on this earth- to love people and lead them to Jesus? Not lead them to believe they had to do all this STUFF to stay right with Him. I was worn out from being regimented in my faith.

I have spent more time in the past two months digging deep and addressing real issues of my heart than I have in my whole life. Granted I am young, but it’s so easy to use age as an excuse. I refuse to use age as a reason to not address my mess and my issues. Yes I said mess and issues because guess what, we all have STUFF. Everyone’s stuff looks different. For me lately is has been defining who Jesus is to me. It has been about dissecting everything I was taught and searching out the heart of God. It’s been about me truly finding him and him wrecking me and changing my view of this world.

So here is what I have found out over the past months:

  • My desire to love Jesus and please him has increased
  • My longing to love people like Jesus has caused me to be more compassionate and less judgmental
  • I used to be awful with talking about people, it was easy, now I barely do it (I am not going to lie and say I don’t do it all because that is not the truth however it’s greatly improved and I am really growing in this area.)
  • I spend less time trying to figure out why people do what they do, and more time loving them
  • I am even more passionate about justice, the orphan, and teen mothers
  • I haven’t invited someone to church since I was in junior high (because all my friends were Christians) until yesterday when I invited a co-worker who said they would think about it.
  • I have found freedom in defining my relationship with Christ and not feeling like it needs to look like someone else’s relationship.
  • I need the Bible. I tried to go without it for a while but that did not work out too well. I need to read the Bible in order to learn how to live more like Jesus. I do not have a regimented "quiet time" but I make time to read my bible and pray through out my day. No day looks the same. Sometimes I miss days reading my Bible. That is okay too. 
  • Having a body of believers to fellowship with is essential and it is great to be plugged into a church. Also, you also won’t be stoned if you don’t get to church on a Sunday morning or if you watched online. It is important to connect with people that can encourage you.
  • I’ve found that being honest with myself has allowed me to embrace who I am and to really love myself.
  • Keep Jesus Simple.

 

 It’s in the moments where I am not rushing to “fix” myself and keep it together that I can actually take my shoes off and give them away to a homeless woman with gladness. It’s in those moments where Jesus works on me the most, when I am tangibly living how he lived and not just reading it and memorizing it. 

 

XoXo,

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Solitude

I have just spent 20 days in Solitude. No social media. Now I thought this would be easy, I even tried to journal about my experience daily and I'll include a few entries below.

Day one of solitude and I've probably looked at my phone to click on Instagram or Twitter about 15-20 times already. Giving up Facebook hasn't been that bad since signed off a few days ago but I was still looking at instagram. Pretty much all the pics on instagram are on fb which means I'm not missing anything. So thus, I strip away instagram and twitter along with fb and I am in for 20 solid days of no social media. I may not know what to do with myself. The whole purpose of me doing this is to read and pray and write. And get my head on straight. Whatever that looks like. Who is really "straight" and perfectly together? No one. Absolutely no one. So whatever. I'm trying to get focused.

Its been two hours of me being at home and I feel like my brain is going crazy. I am trying to find something to do. I feel like time is passing by slowly. I sit and read (I am seriously enjoying 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Get the book and read it.). Yep, only 20 minutes has passed. Also, I'm not watching my shows this week so things are quiet in my room, real quiet.

My mom asked me to go run so I conceded with the motivation that I was going to stop at the galleria and get a Cinnabon. Yes. I love Cinnabon and I haven’t had one in a year. So I felt that I could negate my run eat 880 calories unashamedly. At least I ran to get it and ran home to eat it? That probably doesn’t make this any better. Oh well:)

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Even with our little detour, my mom and I still finished our 3 miles in under 30 minutes. She ran while eating ice cream and I ran with my cinnabon. It was quite hilarious & a great memory.--The rest of the 20 days consisted of me reading, praying, and seeking God. Truly letting go of old stuff that has hindered me and recieving healing in areas I didn't know needed healing. It's really freeing to just be honest with yourself but it's also painful. Those 20 days were full of joy, pain, and surrender.On my last day I wrote this:

Its only fitting that at the end of this solitude time away from social media that I finish 7 by Jen Hatmaker and cry. lol This is becoming quite typical of me. My emotions and passion meet and often I am crying happy/sad tears at the same time.

During solitude, I have learned my entitlement to the "best" has led me farther from God because I was the one choosing my will. My vision was so blurred and I couldn't hear God's subtle whispers. I felt like I was doing everything right and yet nothing was going my way. I have served God faithfully and stayed out of "trouble". I would think to myself: "For real God, quit playing, I know I haven't been acting crazy and stuff. Have you forgotten about me?" My actions were "right" but my heart was all wrong. "The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?" Jeremiah 17:9

No amount of perfection will help you to earn what you want. Entitelment doesn't move the hand of God. Any blessing we receive is simply because he loves us. Not because of how good we are. So here I am passionately pursing the heart of God (or so I thought) and nothing is going my way. I thought I deserved what my heat desired in the timing I wanted and the way I wanted. Instead, God is closing doors left and right. I am trying to go back and open them.

I had it all wrong. Not a little wrong but all wrong. I have wrestled with these feelings of entitlement for so long. I have wrestled with feeling left out. I was too focused on everyone else's lane/life and comparing my journey to theirs. This toxic mentality did not bring me closer to the heart of God. It led me further away from him.

In my solitude I was sweetly broken. Humbled. Put in a place to really hear His heart and repent for my selfish behavior. It was so ugly and awful. It's in my ugly and awful moments that I am thankful for his unconditional love. He loves me well and displayed his unconditional love through my family and friends over those 20 days. I am truly blessed to be loved by such an amazing group of people.

Of course I ended my solitude time in His presence at his feet with some amazing women. God met me there.

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