…and the Walls Came Tumbling Down

A few months ago, in one weekends time, the same story from the Bible was brought to my attention 3 times in 3 completely different and unrelated circumstances.

As I stood at the back of the Destin Life Center listening to our new Mayor share the story of the Walls of Jericho coming down, I remember thinking, “Ok God, what is up with this story?”  In one of my Old Testament classes in college, I did an exegesis paper on this story and Rahab.  Therefore, I know it…well.  The difficult thing with pieces of scripture that you know well, is sometimes they become mundane and ordinary.  However, that particular weekend, God had given me fresh ears to hear and had highlighted pieces of the story to me.

The parts that stood out to me were the 7 days, silence, and the words “the walls came down flat.”  As I continued to have my silent conversation with God about this, I was asking, “Ok, what does this mean to me?”  I heard “fast.”  I argued back. “I have family coming to town this weekend, friends in town next weekend, and a trip the next.”  He told me, “Not now.  7 days, fasting, silence.”  I went about my next few weeks keeping that order in mind but going about my normal business.  I wasn’t really sure when I would “have” to do it, but it didn’t really sound fun… let’s face it… I like food.  I definitely like to talk… and 7 days with out both?? Excuse me?? What in the world is He thinking?? However, at that moment, I had my answer and it was “not now.

Then. About a month later. One morning, a Tuesday, I woke up and was doing my quiet time, and the word I got was “tomorrow.” I immediately knew what the reference was.  The next day was the day to start the 7 day fast.  I began asking more questions.  After all, He can’t ask me to do something like that with out me needing some details!  What was revealed to me in the study of Joshua 6 was that I was to fast from food for 7 days (not drink, whew, it’s best when I have my coffee), be silent in a particular friendship, and pray, pray, pray that walls come down flat in different areas of my life (family, friends, myself and God, ministry, the church etc).  It felt like a tall order.

In the past I did some fasting in high school for a Bible class as we were studying Richard Foster’s Celebration of the Disciplines…and I really don’t think I understood.  It is a great book though; I was just young.  In college, I fasted for 11 days one time at the beginning of the year because my Pastor at my church had asked the congregation.  Then a few times I have given up things for lent, and have grown in knowing what it means to die to yourself.  However, I had never been called to fast “alone.” Those other times, I had other believers doing it with me.  This time it was ordered and decreed for me, not me and a group of people.  Therefore, I figured there must be a reason.  The reason you fast typically is to give up something, take the time you would use on that and dedicate it to study, prayer, and communion with God…and to remind yourself to die to your fleshly desires in order to remind yourself that you submit to God first and foremost.  Also, people fast when they are seeking direction on a decision. It helps them clear out other things in order to hear God’s direction and voice more clearly.  I was both nervous and excited about what God had in store.  I decided to let my mentor, 2 friends, and my mom know about the details, and I asked them to pray.  Then I started the journey.

I truly did try to replace my eating time with prayer… that meant my quiet time in the morning increased.  My lunch time somedays was used in fellowship with friends at work, counseling, and other times I would go to the quiet place at my church building (yes, we have one, and it is great).  At night, I would spend more time in worship, prayer, and sometimes go to the quiet place if I was distracted.  A few times during those “meal times” I would high tail it over to the beach for some study and prayer.  I was studying the story that had inspired the fast (Joshua 6) along with Isaiah 40-45.  My theme scripture for the year (Isaiah 43:19) is smack in the middle of that so I was studying that and the surrounding pieces.  I felt like I was drinking from a fire hydrant. Soaking up new truths.  Reading scriptures that were painted on the walls of my youth room growing up became painted on my heart.  I was literally on a spiritual high.

In the midst of that, there was some crazy things happening… being asked to come pray over places with evil spirits, doing counseling for families that mirrored events that had happened in my own family (for such a time is this that I am here right?), a couple situations I was praying about escalated in tension, and then, breakthrough… on the 6th day…there was breakthrough in every area I had been praying over but 1.  When I say breakthrough, I mean, God affirming things, God continuing to move in and take over, and God opening new doors.

However, that 1 area, the walls weren’t flat.  I came home that night confused.  Asking, “Wait a second, why are the walls flat in all these areas on the 6th day?  Why is that one area not taken care of?”  That one area did kind of seem like a “big booger” of a wall.  I got home a little late, but continued to worship and pray.  I finally went to bed thinking, “He will solve this in the morning.”

I got a call in the middle of the night…and the news I received would set into motion the last wall coming down. Bam.

I share this not to say “Wow, look how holy I am. I fasted.”  Because I am not… I share it because it is abnormal for me.  God has put me in the fire multiple times to work on me… sometimes in the form of punishment, reaping what I sowed, or even just being hurt (not because He hurt me, but because I refused to listen).  He chose to refine me in a different way this time.  He chose to pull me in close to Him.  I do wonder what would of happened had I not been obedient.  I didn’t even know there were “walls” that needed to come down.  Would those walls of just stayed up?  Would He of had to remove them in a less “fun” way?  Would I of eventually felt pressed in by the “walls” and gone running back to Him?

I think about how Joshua and his army must of felt when they went into Jericho.  With all the rubble, it must of been a little messy.  However, I am sure they had a holy confidence and strength to go into it because they knew that they had gone into it in obedience.  Their orders sounded ludicrous. What makes sense in the supernatural doesn’t always make sense in the natural.

You do not always have to know the “why” of when He asks something of you.  I think that has been the biggest change in my faith over the last 5 years.  I used to always ask “why.”  At this point, I have learned that it really doesn’t matter.  He knows why.  I just have to trust that for whatever reason He is having me do something or not do something is for my own good…And He knows what is good for me…not me.


Right Where You Are

I have a new neighbor in the condo below mine.  As I ran into her yesterday afternoon, a sigh of inhospitable guilt escaped me as she said, “I have lived here for a month but never seen you!”  I know she meant well I am sure, but the “nurture” girl in me was slightly ashamed I had not even realized she had moved in below me!   Maybe it’s the “Hare” in me, but I am just not real good at being still (unless it is before the Lord, and even then I am usually moving).  In the last 3 weeks, I have spoken at a youth ministry conference in Mobile, my Dad’s side of the family visited, had an old friend from Cove, Ethan Davis, come in to lead a youth band camp, a Bachelorette weekend for a dear friend, had about 3 other families from other churches visit, gone to a Kari Jobe and Rend Collective concert in Mobile (ah-maze-ing), and then last night went to Pensacola for a traditional Jewish service at the synagogue with our confirmands.  It’s been wonderful.  I was telling a friend yesterday, usually my schedule doesn’t speed up until the end of May, but it has earlier this year for some reason.

In the midst of all that, I have been ever mindful of times in ministry from the past when I have not kept first things first.  In the last couple weeks, there have been times when I have had to say “no” to friends in order to force myself to have down time and simply do my laundry.  It’s also meant multitasking…This week both me and my mentor ended up doing our shopping at Target together for 30 minutes in order that we could both kill 2 birds with one stone– shop for work and catch up on things. Furthermore, in my own quiet time, God has put on my heart to fast from a couple things for 7 days (I am on day 4)…so there’s that.  

Even though those things are not real convenient…I would much rather be able to hang out with friends than do my laundry and even thought of paying someone to do it for me.  I would much rather sit down for coffee with my mentor and talk.  I would much rather put off being obedient for September when things are at a nicer pace.  However, I have learned the hard way, if I do not put the important things first, then I usually have to back track.

So what are some “first things first” that you must have in life??

For me the list would be something like… coffee, Jesus, prayer time, rest and sleep, lip gloss, my Bible, quality time with friends and family (my love language in case you were wondering), laughter, hugs, flossing my teeth, teaching the word, and hair spray.  I am probably going to get cranky or not feel like myself if I am missing one of these things.  Therefore, I try to make sure I have plenty of these.

A couple times recently, it has come up again and again to me about the older teaching the younger.  Joshua’s generation did a really good job of proclaiming the promises for themselves, marching into the promised land (and even bringing their children with them), but then when it came time for the next generation to take the reigns and lead…they just did what was right in their own eyes not necessarily God’s eyes (Judges 21:25).  All that the previous generation had done had not been passed down because they were too busy taking care of themselves, they forgot to teach it and pass it on to their kids!  Yes, I know I don’t have literal children at this moment… spiritual children I do have.

Therefore, we are going to have a teaching moment on prayer in your home.  I am constantly learning about this, and by no means know it all.  Much of what I do know on this was simply passed on to me by my own mother, mentors or simply reading…know that.  I feel like this needs to be talked about because it has come up multiple times this week with J-1 students, parents of youth, at a luncheon yesterday with young people and older people it came up…so let’s talk about prayer over our dwelling places.  As someone whispered to me their take on prayer yesterday, I thought, why do we not shout about this?!  The veil was torn so we could enter into God’s presence freely, and we whisper out of fear that someone will judge us for coming into the presence of God and praying? No, let’s talk about it.

When I was in 8th grade, my mom and I were in the middle of building a house, and we were trying to sell our condo we lived in at the time.  The inspectors for both properties were coming that week, I believe.  That was the first time I remember it.  One afternoon, my mom told me that we would be praying over our property.  She had some random prayer book I had never seen before, and we walked from room to room of our condo praying.  She laid her hands on windows, prayed for things like mold to be uprooted, she opened our front door asking in the name of Jesus that anything not of the Lord would just walk it’s way on out of the house.  We then marched the property line praying.  At this point I couldn’t decide if she had lost it or was brilliant.  As she concluded I thought, “ok, that’s done.”

Oh no, she had other plans.  We  loaded up in the car and drove the mile and a half to where our new home was.  Our house was just starting to get walls.  Again, we marched our property lines praying over the perimeter that anything not of God wouldn’t come with in 100 miles of it.  We prayed over the ground, soil, any water running below our foundation, walked each room praying that God’s spirit would rest, rule, and abide upon each space.

It was neat.  That is the first home I remember living in that had peace.  It was a sanctuary.  Granted, it was our dream home, but it was deeper than that.  In that home, we hosted tens of dozens of slumber parties for cheerleaders, my youth group, mentoring classes, and small groups.  It was full of love, peace, and joy.  I had a group of friends from high school who would come by freely and wanted to be there instead of their own home.  It could of been because of my mom’s awesome cooking and hospitality, but I think it possibly was something else that she had given to that home,...the welcoming and asking the Lord to bless it and be in it!

Therefore, it should be no surprise to you… since that time,…every dorm room, house, apartment, youth building, church building, and now condo that I have dwelled in has been prayed over in the same way.  By myself, and of course my sweet Mom.  In college I was on a prayer walk team for a service club I was in, and we would walk the streets surrounding our University and the church I served, just praying. This has become a huge part of my relationship with God…acknowledging Him in the places I go and dwell.

All I am asking is, if one of your first priorities in life is for the Lord to be “The Lord” over it…why oh why…would we not begin with prayer over the places we live and dwell being filled with His love, peace, and His spirit to be reigning there?

If you didn’t know, forgot, or just plain didn’t do it… go get your prayer on… go pray over your office at work, your parking space, your school hallways, your home, your bedroom for fitful peaceful sleep…you don’t need a prayer book, all you need is to whisper it under your breathe… you can go early in the morning,…or when your family isn’t home… or get some people to go with you!  It is never too late to acknowledge Him… right where you are.

Extravagant Praise

A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a guest blog post for RAVE Ministries about their new campaign they have for April.  It is called AprilRAVEs.  It is a whole month of giving extravagant praise and encouragement to others.  Below is my post I did for RAVE.  Also, here is the link to find out more about the campaign and get involved! AprilRAVEs 


It was Saturday morning, and I was strolling through a store in hopes of finding some spring pants. As I sifted through the variety of styles of colored jeans, my ical started beeping obnoxiously. Irritated that something would interrupt my shopping experience, I looked at my phone and realized I had committed to a “phone date” with one of my old youth group girls in Alabama. She had texted me the night before asking to talk. I called her, and we began our typical talk. We did the cordial greetings, and then dove right in to the real stuff. She is a senior. We have the type of relationship that we can go from “Hey, how are you?” right into “what’s God saying to you right now?” or “I was dumb last night, and I lied to my parents about where I was going with my boyfriend.” The reasons we can have frank real conversations is because we have been through several different seasons in faith together. As I began asking questions and probing about friends, faith, family, prom, college, and her leadership at church, I decided to sit down in the store. After an hour of talking, I went to hang up and realized how different that conversation may of looked two years ago.

You see, in the last two years I have walked through the trenches of divorce with her and her family, wiping away tears, listening, speaking truth, and giving hugs. There was a season when a close family member of hers came home from rehab, and the reunion stirred up unsolved issues and malice. I was there to call out the bitterness. In turn, I got to witness her release and forgive. Also, there was a season when I got the calls about the frustrations of her seeing her once loving parents date other people…which as a high school student is not easy and a little ucky. Still, in another season, I had the joy to watch her get her first real boyfriend…and wanted to “bop” both of them at different times during that relationship. We walked through failures and successes with that relationship. There was a season where I saw God light up her path and give her exactly what she needed even when she didn’t know what she really needed. We rejoiced in that.

There have been many seasons that I have been honored to be a part of in this young woman of the Lord’s life and journey in faith. I was there when she received a call into ministry, and began the journey of doing ministry.

This season is different. As I went online to watch her speak to over 500 of her peers at a retreat, my heart broke that I could not be there in person. I am so very proud of the way that she has allowed the Lord to refine her. It truly is a gift to be a part of the refining process.

In Isaiah 55: 7-11 it says, “Let the wicked change their ways and banish the very thought of doing wrong. Let them turn to the Lord that he may have mercy on them. Yes, turn to our God, for he will forgive generously (or extravagantly). “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord. “And my ways are FAR beyond anything you could imagine. For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts. “The rain and snow come down from the heavens  and stay on the ground to water the earth. They cause the grain to grow, producing seed for the farmer and bread for the hungry.  It is the same with my word.  I send it out, and it always produces fruit. It will accomplish all I want it to, and it will prosper everywhere I send it.”

There are so many times that when a student like this one comes to me with a struggle or a problem, it would be easier to just remind them of only a portion of that scripture. That His thoughts are not ours, and His ways are above our own. However, I am called to help them not only know that God’s plans are above our own, but be faithful in the rain. There are seasons of sowing and watering. We water by speaking truth, love, and encouragement consistently. The hard part is the not knowing whether it will take root. So, as a sower, there is also seasons where you wait.

In due season, it produces fruit. The fruit usually looks different each time. It is unique, yet perfect. You’ve heard “April showers bring May flowers.” It is true! It takes those whole 30 days of rain, waiting, and faithfulness to bring about an extravagant buttercup.

RAVE is calling people to a whole month of EXTRAVAGANT praise. This is your opportunity to rain down on others extravagant praise for what God is doing, will do, and has done in and through people’s lives. Those words don’t return void. They speak life into existence and call, even cause, people to cheer up (buttercup). In situations that seem hopeless, you must remember that words do not come empty handed. They have power to bring about life and death. The good fruit may not come immediately, however, it always comes extravagantly.

It’s not a problem

I have almost posted this post several time in the past 8 months.  In fact, I actually wrote it on August 27th, just a few days before my birthday.  At the time being, I was in the middle of announcing my move from Trinity to Destin, and it didn’t seem like the proper time to post this.  I told myself to shelf it until January.  So, I left it alone.  January came and went, and I honestly didn’t give this post a single thought.  Then came February.  We were doing a dating series in youth, and I half way thought about posting it just because of the timing.  However, to be honest, I was so busy, I never made the time to sit down and post this…

So yesterday, I was having lunch with a friend and they were talking about this topic and a friend of theirs.  This post came to my mind.  I started telling her about it, and her response was, “So many girls and women need to hear this RIGHT NOW.”  Really, it is quite selfish of me to not share something like this if there is a need.

Before you read, read between my lines that I am saying, I am hesitant to post this because I don’t want anyone to think “she wrote a blog on how she doesn’t need or want a man.” That is not it at all.  God has placed that desire in me, and it is a battle of submission to God’s timing on my part.  I have asked for the desire to be taken if that is not for me a bazillion times.  God hasn’t seemed to smooth that out of my heart, so I am guessing it is a good desire that will be brought to fruition in His due season and time.

So what you read below, I hope it blesses you.  Send it to a friend.  Lastly, keep in mind I did write this a few days before my 27th birthday.  Quite a bit has changed for me in those 8 months.  Healing, growth, and hope has increased. 🙂

From August 27th, 2013…

“Today, I am going to wade down into the deep end of the pool on a topic that I have never broached head on in my blog before…I have hinted at it, implied things (whether you got what I meant or not), and I have talked about this topic in terms of youth.  Today, I am going talk about it in my terms, as a chick, pursuing God, doing youth ministry, and yes… even being… single.

Yes, I just said the “s” word.

It is the pink elephant at every party and social gathering among young adults.  Who is single and who is not?

I have come a long way baby on this on this topic…and it has been a spiritual journey to say the least.  If I am completely honest, it is even a slight bit painful that I can even write about it.  You probably are wondering why.  Well let me tell you. This sounds childish to even write.  I never really told anyone until recently, I had a deadline on myself mentally.  Yep, a deadline…set by me, created by me, and I was the one who kept myself enslaved to it really until about January (2013).  When I entered college as a bright eyed youth ministry major in a field of study with about 5 girls and 90 guys in my class, I told myself that everything will “be ok” as long as I am married by age 27.

Well, low and behold,…27 is a knocking, and you guessed it, my facebook status did not change while you were away on vacation…I am not married…or engaged…or in a relationship as of right now.  The funny part about this is that everything really is ok…now.  I think I thought the world was going to end or something back then.  I have totally different thoughts on the whole thing now.

I have friends who married right out of college, ones who got married 4 years after college, ones who are still single and ok, ones who are dating and ok, ones who are still single and not ok, and ones who are dating and can not let that man tie his shoes to even go to the ring shop they are in such a hurry.  People in their 20s and early 30s specifically are all over the spectrum on this topic.

I have never really been the girl who has asked for people to set me up with people.  I know some people meet this way, and good for them.  There are only a few people who I feel like actually know me well enough to know who would be the type of guy I would want to be with…and for that matter that I trust as judges of character.  I don’t want just any rando person picking that type of thing out…so if you were already playing match maker in your head, just stop.

About my age, people, and youth especially, start to tease and ask about online dating.  Ok, I really tried that a while ago for a solid 2 months just to say that I tried it.  It ended up with me getting starbucks all over me because the dude was so nervous.  And hiking “for fun,” which is something I only do typically about twice a year when I need space or in student ministry.  All the dates I had were with good guys who believed in the Lord, but ultimately weren’t in love with the Lord…that is kind of a hard thing to describe in an add…and kind of a deal breaker.

I was on the phone with a dear sweet friend the other day who also happens to be single.  She said she went to a 4th of July party and a married guy at the party was pestering her about why she wasn’t with someone.  He was asking her, what was she doing to make her single?  She is on online dating.  She dates.  She’s in a small group at church.  She works out (and likes to hike unlike me).  She goes to art walks.  Young Professional gatherings.  The dog park. The list goes on… It must be something she is doing or not doing. Why hasn’t this horrible problem been fixed? Ok, he didn’t say that last thing, but he was implying it.

She said something to me that really struck me.  She said, “It’s not a problem.  Being single is not something you have to fix.” I really chewed on that on my drive home from Nashville.

It isn’t a problem.

I mean, it may be to my parents because they want cute little grandkids pronto.  It may be to my parents because they still worry about me safely making it home at night with out someone being there to “receive” me.  Otherwise, it really shouldn’t be a problem to anyone else… Maybe all those other people just want us to be as happy as they are.  Maybe they want to see cute kids too.  But really, what’s it to them?

People.  We “singles” are not like a dishwasher that is broken and needs to be fixed.  We are more like flowers that just bloom in a different season.

All I can say, is yeah, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t be ok with Romeo coming in to sweep me off my feet.  However, I am ok.   I have a rich life. I am not talking financially. Although, I don’t lack any needful thing. I enjoy what I do, because I am called to it.  I have wonderful friends.  I can go and do things as I please.  I can enjoy little ones and then send them right back over to mama.  Ultimately, I am in some ways thankful that I have this time.  Just by statistics, I am sure I will end up married some day, but in the time being, I just want to enjoy the season of life I am in…I don’t want a relationship with just anyone… which is why I don’t want to do online dating or be set up by some acquaintance. When the timing is right; it will be right.  It’s the right time.  Just not the right time for that.”

Full, Undivided Attention

Yesterday swirled around me.  Literally, starting the day spilling an entire cup of coffee down my silk blouse sent me swirling to the bathroom to clean up before my morning meetings.

The feel of yesterday was just really fast paced and “swirly.”  Everyone scurrying here and there. As I tried to edit small group material for Sunday night, I had one interruption after another…I still only have one of the two small group materials done. I guess that will be first on my list this morning. Anyway, I eventually gave in to the hectic pace of getting things done and going from thing to thing.

I finally went home thinking I would spend some time in the word and get some peace.  I opened my Bible with pen and paper in hand…and then fell asleep. Womp womp.

So naturally, the Lord had me up at 4am.  I find it kind of funny that the weeks that are the most hectic and busy, the Lord chooses those to be the ones where I am woken up extremely early to get a word and soak up His presence.  I think I need sleep…but what I really need is Him.  He does after all give me exactly what I need.

So there I was…As I spent time in ipad worship, prayer, writing, and diving into the word… I felt the knowing, all embracing comfort of the Lord rest upon me.  Oh what a good thing that is. Not anything like it.

Today is Ash Wednesday, and begins the season of Lent.  I was reminded again this morning, that from ashes I came, and to ashes I return.  I am nothing with out Him.

As I begin this season of fasting and taking on new commitments to the Lord, I am reminded of just how much I need Him.  He is my breath. He is my life. He is my counselor.  He is my comforter.  He is my healer.  He is my provider, and He is my peace. For such a time as this… We are to refocus. We are to reposition ourselves as His servants. We are to submit our desires and wants of the flesh in exchange for His desires and presence.

While I may feel like I need a nap right now (at 8am), I am reminded that His timing is perfect.  Sometimes, He just has to get me up early in order to have my full, undivided attention. For such a time as this should we re-devote ourselves to giving Him our full undivided attention.

What is it in this season of Lent that He is asking you to give up in order for your attention on Him to be full and undivided?

How do you answer the phrase: For such a time as this, I should …….. in order to refocus on God.

If you don’t know… get alone with God. Ask Him to wake you up!  This is a great time to refocus yourself and rededicate yourself to spiritual disciplines or even just reminding yourself that you are not in fact God but He is.  After all, all He really wants is our full, undivided attention.

First Time for Everything

I was in the youth cafe last night going through the serving line, and something was mentioned about the Discovery Weekend we had a few weeks ago at DUMC Youth.  From behind me, I heard one of our high school guys pipe up saying, “Do we have to wait a WHOLE YEAR to have another Discovery Weekend???”  

Talk about music to my ears!

DUMC has never done Discovery Weekend as far as I know.  It was funny to me to see the skeptical twinkle in peoples eyes as I was talking about it the months leading up to the weekend.  It was almost as if I could hear the questions behind peoples eyes: “A retreat in town? In our church building? High schoolers leading?  Have you lost your marbles?”

However, even among the questions…I had tons of support!  Our church family, staff, volunteers, and parents rallied around our students and me with support and showing Christ’s love through the church!  It is always a little tricky implementing something new that is a church wide event like Discovery.  I was overwhelmed by the sweet reception our church had to the idea.  Support through providing scholarships, showing up to events during the weekend, helping at different services, prayer teams, providing food, and even just encouraging me!

I have done five Discovery Weekends in my time in youth ministry. In those five different ones there has been three different types. We did Discovery Weekend (called Ignite) at Cove Church.  Then at Trinity, we did a middle school Discovery Weekend and high school Discovery Weekend.  All the types were a little different.  They had their own flare and traditions.  Same services, but a little different feels to them and execution.

As I was preparing for Discovery, it was kind of fun for me. First of all, I love planning experiences for students to encounter God and connect with each other.  I had a unique stance in implementing the weekend here.  I could pick and choose the best from the three types of experiences.  It was so fun to take my favorite things from all three and roll into one!  It was also fun to be able to leave the things out that I wasn’t so fond of (can you imagine I wouldn’t like something?). It was cool to make new traditions.  Then of course it was neat to see it all come to life.

The even better part, I love seeing God show up and do things that I never could of planned. Students bowing in worship, parents praying together with their student, forgiveness received, bonding among groups of students and leaders, students stepping out of their box and leading, students speaking the word of truth, people working together young and old, middle and high schoolers connecting, and God changing hearts. I just love it.  The weekend is such a beautiful illustration of the body of Christ.  I can not wait for next year.

Pastor Barry even let us “take over” the services that Sunday morning.  The youth band led worship, and I was privileged to preach in all the services.  Below is a link to my sermon if you would like to see it!

Discovery Sermon

There is a first time for everything…and I really can’t think of a better “first thing” to implement than Discovery Weekend!


God Winks

The last six weeks have been jam packed!  We had our middle school retreat a couple weekends ago called Discovery Weekend.  It was a wonderful weekend, and I am sure I will post in detail about it soon!

In the midst of a crazy schedule the last few weeks, God has been so very good to me.  Providing me little spurts of rest, fun, laughter, and joy.  Little God winks of His love for me have been showing up everywhere.   Those little winks are what keep pushing us forward in motion towards our calling.  You know, those moments, the “no way that just happened” moments.  They remind you of His goodness, love, that He does in fact see you and that you are not forgotten.  A few weeks ago, my dear friend, Becca, who I have written about before, and I had a giant God wink together.  After some cherishing of the moments, praise, and thoughts, I feel like I can share it.  Becca also gave me permission to share.  🙂 It blessed us, and I hope it blesses you!

Becca and I have a standing friend date on Friday’s at 10:30am.  We both are blessed to have Friday’s “off” of work generally, unless we are on ministry trips.  Usually, our friend dates consist of meeting up with the attire of no make up, ball caps, and work out clothes (gotta love people who will take you as you are).  We usually do a brisk walk on land then take the walk to the beach and then walk it back to our house/cars.  During that time, Becca and I talk.  Not just talk.  We talk about life, ministry, God, how God speaks to us, what He is saying right now, we try to decipher pieces of scripture we have been reading, family, friends, love,…you get the picture.  Sometimes we laugh hysterically.  Sometimes we cry hysterically.  Sometimes we are hysterically mad.  Sometimes we rejoice hysterically.  Whatever it is,…we kinda get it out and the other person listens, and then responds with words of wisdom, counsel, truth, and encouragement. There really is an ebb and flow to it…somehow it works.

This particular week, we had even contemplated not going on our normal walk because it was extremely foggy and a little chilly.  We did decide “to brave the elements” and go on our normal routine walk.  As we were talking, both of us had experienced really crappy weeks.  In fact, we were both in a state of feeling spiritually overcome, confused, and were trying our best to dismantle solid bricks of fear…brick by brick…with tear after tear.  Not fun.

We had been discussing weeks earlier the Starfish Story. You know the one,… “Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions. Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching.  As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea.  The boy came closer still and the man called out, ”Good morning!  May I ask what it is that you are doing?”  The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”  The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”  The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

Ok,…now that you are caught up… we had been discussing that story, and how in ministry and life you do make a difference even when it seems as if there is so much work to do.  We also had talked about how you have to let the “starfish” go or else they are yours…and the truth of the matter is the people we minister to or that are in our lives are not  actually “ours.” They are God’s.

As we were walking toward the jetties (a new phenomenon for me that is basically beautiful rocks on the shore), we both noticed how the sun was coming out and the fog was disappearing.  As we made our way up to the jetties, something caught our eyes…low and behold, there was a real, live starfish!  We started squealing like the new locals that we are, jumping around, and giggling like little school girls.  We were amazed as we watched it’s little fine underneath side wiggle.  We climbed some rocks and of course started taking selfies with us and the starfish.  After we had kind of settled down, we decided to hop off the rocks back to the sea shore.  Just as we were starting to walk away from the jetties, there we spotted more. More and more and more starfish! There were about 4 different ones that were floating around and washing up on the shore!  As we both took off our tennis shoes and socks and started to dart like mad women into the freezing water in order to play with the starfish, we were just overcome with laughter.  We finally both ended up holding our real, live, starfishes and getting some “real locals” to take some pictures of us with them.


We began walking back shortly after this.  Both of us were still overcome with joy from the whole experience, when we heard our dear local friends call out behind us.  As we turned around to look at them, there we spotted about 4 dolphins swimming.  Again, the burst of giggles erupted.  It was in that moment as we swung around to head back home that we noticed that the sky above us was a crystal clear blue.  The fog almost had a made a dome like gray circle around us on all sides, but there above our heads was the most sunny, blue sky.  It kind of resembled the Hunger Games dome.

Before we left the beach we sat to talk some more and reflect on the goodness of what we had just witnessed and experienced in a short hour and a half time period.

It was in that moment and the hours after that I think we both realized just how much God wanted to remind us of His love for us.  That He is alive, well, and working. He is present in our lives.  He was winking at us reminding both of us in different ways that He does take our literal mourning and turn it into dancing (and giggling).

A few things I am thankful for in this episode of God winks…

-I am so thankful that God not only knows what I need, but gives it to me even when I can’t exactly put my finger on what I need.

– I know that people can try and refute the word of God and argue…but something that can never be taken away from me is my own experiences with the one true God…like this one.

– I am glad God gave me a witness! It has been great to be able to remind Becca and for her to remind me… remember the starfish day… otherwise, I might would be tempted to think that someone had just slipped something into my Starbucks coffee that morning.

-Lastly, I love that God is so much bigger than me.  He can take a Friday morning routine with a friend and make it into a divine appointment.

I encourage you…ask God to wink at you.  He has been winking at me a lot lately… sometimes like this I feel like I can share it, and sometimes the timing just isn’t right to share.  I assure you He does wink at you reminding you of His love and goodness…speaking to you…the question is, do you notice it and do you hear it?


I was 23, and still fairly new to full time-full time youth ministry.  I was by no means naive or dumb; I just had a lot of zeal.

It was the same type of zeal that came out when hurricane Katrina came and a group of us freshman thought we could just drive down to Houston and save all those evacuees.  A belief in a great big God, a great big calling, and not a lot of logic or wisdom.

Anyway, back to Huntsville, Alabama at age 23… It was a crazy crazy week.  Three of my students (who were siblings) had lost their father to cancer.  We were trying to get ready for a worship service where the youth band was playing with the main worship team.  We had practices scheduled for 3 evenings in a row.  Yeah, if you know me,…I can not play an instrument to save my life, but due to there needing to be a bridge of a presence to help the adults communicate with the students and the students communicate effectively with the adults…there I sat.  Listening to one more round of Glory to God or whatever Steve Fee worship song was popular at the time.

We got done with practice, and as we went to leave the main building to go back to the youth building… low and behold a monsoon had come upon us.  It was raining cats and dogs.  We all made a mad dash to the youth building; the guys shoving their guitars under their shirts as shields.  After locking up, I ran to my little car, got in and started out on my short 5 minute drive home.  Right before my entrance of my apartments was a BP gas station.  I saw that I needed gas… I was down to 1/4 of a tank.  My parents always said to not let it get below half…I thought, “I can just fill up in the morning on the way to work.”  I don’t remember what happened after that…It doesn’t really matter.

However, the next morning I woke up, and there were tornado warnings. I remember going into the office for a worship planning meeting and funeral meeting. They told us to go home after that because of the tornado warnings.  I spoke with my mom, she told me to get cash if I didn’t have any, make sure I had food, flash lights, candles, had my phone charged, gas,… you know all the stuff moms tell you to get in that kind of weather.  I remember rolling my eyes and thinking that I would be back at church that night for band practice. No sweat.  I didn’t understand why everyone was freaking out over a little rain and dark clouds.  So, you can probably guess what happened… I didn’t get cash.  I didn’t fill up on gas.  I didn’t get food.  I didn’t charge my phone and computer.  I didn’t get batteries.  I didn’t even officially cancel band practice until 6:30pm when they quit showing regular programing on tv.

Tornados blew through Alabama leaving Tuscaloosa a mess. Huntsville with out power.  The Tennessee Valley Power lines were cut.  So I sat alone, with 30% battery left on my phone, no gas, some frozen dinners, a couple small candles, and $5.  No freaking joke. So dumb (Yes, parents I am admitting it). I was just plain unprepared, and it wasn’t because I hadn’t been warned.

Thankfully, I had a wonderful family away from my family that took me in and let me stay with them for the first 3 days (Thanks Kluka’s!).  Then, my dad, worried and irritated, got in his car with a can of gas and came down to Huntsville and got me since the gas stations weren’t pumping.   I drove back with him to Nashville to spend the remainder of the disaster-cation.  My situation wasn’t bad at all.  There were tons of families who lost their homes, lives,… I just could of avoided the situation I was in if I had just taken some time to prepare.

How many times does God say to prepare for something?  When He tells us to prepare for something, sometimes we doubt, but really and truly it is his divine grace trying to prepare us.  I have had Him tell me to get my house in order, not knowing why.  So I have gone about getting things in order, cleaned, purging of things I don’t need, and then only 3 months later be called to move.  He has told me to get my finances in order.  So then I could give.  He has told me to rest and soak Him up,…and then only a season later I am using all that energy pouring into others in ministry, speaking, serving, or traveling.  The thing is there is a preparation process.   You must listen when He tells you to prepare…and then make haste preparing.

I am doing a study on Gideon with some girls in our young adult group.  We are on week 4 of our study.  There is always one day of the study that I end up spending the most time on during the week because the Lord is speaking to me in it.  This  past week, day 3 got me.  It is a story that I remember hearing in Sunday school.  It is the part of Gideon’s story where he is about to go into battle with the Midianites.  He has an army of 32,000 and the Midianites have an army of 135,000.  Gideon was already outnumbered.  Then God says (in the Caroline version), “Ok, to prepare for this battle we have to weed out some people.” Which, if I was Gideon, I would of been like, “Excuse me?? Weed out?”  Gideon, is nicer than I am apparently.  He just listens and obeys.

In life when God tells you to prepare or weed out…you have to obey like Gideon did.  Our shows, music, jokes, activities, how we spend our time, can all be good, but can also be twisted and cause harm.  Sometimes it feels like it is on every side. That is why God puts people in your life as your “army” if you will. Those 3 or 5 people who you call upon for joys and sadness.  People you really do life with week to week.  Who is in that “army” matters.  The peoples character matters. If you don’t prepare and make sure it is the right people then it could make the battles much much worse than they need to be…just like my tornado storm situation.  Also, it is much more difficult to weed out your army in the middle of a battle.  So, you might as well go on and examen it now before the battles.

Here is what God’s preparation strategy was for Gideon:

God first says to ask anyone who is afraid to leave.  I can get behind that.  Having struggled with fear in the past, I get how it can poison something.  Fear of the enemy.  Fear of failure. Fear of death.  Fear of the unknown.  Fears from past experiences.  Fear can spread like wildfire. Fear can distract people.  Also, if his army was fearful, it meant that either they didn’t trust God to do and be who He said He was, OR they didn’t trust Gideon’s relationship with the Lord.  Which, the Lord already said He was coating the judges with His spirit…just like He does us with His Holy Spirit now.

This caused me to examen my own life.  I mean I know that the bondage of fear is gone from my life.  From time to time I feel it rise up, but because I am prepared for that I immediately combat it with truth. It made me think, God did not want people surrounding Gideon if they were fearful.  I am so thankful that a year and a half ago when I was overcome with fear over my health that those who are in my “army” didn’t just succumb to it…they spoke truth in love.  They were not fearful.

I have to admit…because I have no tolerance for fear in my own life, I have very little tolerance for people who are in fear.  I see my old self in them.  I kind of want to take them by the shoulders and shake them and say “Snap out of it! God has got this.  Whatever you are fearful of, God has your best interest in mind. No. Matter. What.”  However, I can’t do that.  Whether it is that they are afraid of the calling God has on their life.  Fear of stepping out in faith.  Fear of walking out their faith even when it is hard. Who has time for fear? It matters who surrounds you. You want people in battle with you who cast out fear.  I want people surrounding me personally who are not fearful, even when things don’t make sense.  If you are in the bondage of fear. Talk to me…talk to God… it is no way to live.

The second part of God’s preparation strategy is to get rid of anyone that took their eyes off of the horizon when eating.  Ok, this one is a little more tricky to decipher.  However, I totally get God’s point.  Would you rather have someone on your team who is exhausted from keeping watch and just wearily gorges themselves on a meal? Or would you want someone who knows the battle is near so they keep a close watch even while they eat.  Again, it’s good.  The people you surround yourself with should not just only be living out happy little Christian lives, but the ones in your inner circle need to keep watch.  I love having friends that I know have my back… they don’t mind calling me out if they see a judgmental spirit in me or if they have a bad feeling about a situation or person.  You want people on your team who have a watchful eye.

It is important to rearrange those in your inner circle before the battles begin… otherwise, when the battles come…you may be poisoned with fear or get hurt due to an unwatchful eye.

Don’t wait until you are in the midst of the storm or battle to prepare.  Get your “army” in order now. Prepare now.


Last weekend, I had the priveledge of taking our seniors, college students, and young adults to Passion Conference.  I have heard wonderful things about Passion, but never been before.  Basically, it is a conference held in Atlanta, Georgia that is put on by Passion City Church where Louie & Shelley Giglio and Chris Tomlin are the leadership…what a team, right?  Anyway, they have a passion for the next generation and have been putting on this conference for over a decade now.  It is a time where they pour into people ages 18-25 by bringing in stellar speakers, worship leaders that unveil their new songs first to this group, and take some time to minister to the next generation of leaders.  Well, in all reality this IS the group leading us right now.  I mean when you are in 5th grade you just want to be cool and in that age group.  When you are my age (27), I hear people talk about some of the best times being from that time period.  Much of what our world does is influenced by that particular peer group.  So, why not start pouring into it with leadership, direction, and encouraging them in their faith?! I can get behind that.

It was a wonderful trip for me.  It was great in that I got to know our group better.  Some of our college students I haven’t gotten to spend much time with since; I came on board after they had all left for school.  Also, some of the adults on the trip, it was good to connect with them and hear about their heart for our students and the next generation.

our group

our group

I also got to have coffee and catch up with a couple girls from Trinity who were at the conference and staying in the same hotel as me.  Loved being able to hear what the Lord is doing in their life!  The company was great, discussions were fruitful and in depth, the speakers caused us to feel challenged as well as gave us opportunity to probe, dive back into the word and defend what we do believe.

We had group time one night, and it was good to get insight into what had impacted our group as a whole and individually.  I am happy to hear that the conference is going to be an extra day next year, and they will be adding back the small group aspect.  People underestimate just how important it is to have time to process through some of the talks and worship experiences in a group setting.  Our group was tight enough that we did with each other naturally, but I could see how other groups might would just consume the messages and not necessarily process what they had consumed.

There was a common theme that ran among the speakers about our eyes being unveiled to what God is doing, so see clearly what the gospel exactly is, and just the over all thought of new vision and a veil being lifted…good stuff.  Also, I was just a little flustered when the opening started with my theme verse for the year from Isaiah 43:19 about God doing a new thing… which I wrote about just a couple weeks ago.  That same verse popped up in just about every single talk… I obviously needed to get that.  Don’t you just love those God winks?

True to my typical form for conferences… here are my notes from the weekend.  Some of the phrases are just nuggets for me…but maybe you can make something out of them yourself. Enjoy! 🙂

Session 1: Louie Giglio

Isaiah 6:1-8


1- The brightness of His glory

2- Grace & mercy of God

Angels created purpose is to say 2 phrases over and over again, and they never feel shortchanged.

Becomes Clear:

1- Not just “the cross” but “your cross.”  There is only one victim in the gospel story, and it is Jesus.  WE are the perpetrators.

2- God wasn’t a passive bystander.  He was the instigator and joy.  Jesus signed the dotted line and agreed to do it.

3- God’s wrath fell on Jesus Christ,  and it obliterated our curse.  Jesus wasn’t thinking “self protection.” Jesus was thinking “you protection.”

Session 2: Worship by Hillsong…need I say more?

Session 3: Francis Chan

2 Peter 1:1-3

We have equal standing with God.

We are gifted differently but you can have ALL things because HE gives us what we need.

Ezekiel 36:25-31- renewal

Ezekiel 37:1-10- dry bones & new life

2 Corinthians 4:17- affliction produces glory in Him

2 Kings 6:20- The LORD opened their eyes.

Session 4: Christine Caine

1 Samuel 16:1-14

Prominent things aren’t always the significant things.

Ephesians 2:10

This is not a dress rehearsal.

Sometimes we miss the NEW thing because we are looking for the NEXT thing LIKE  the last thing.  When in reality, God is wanting to do a NEW thing. Isaiah 43:19.

When it comes to the new thing, wrestle with the Holy Spirit and don’t be lazy with it.

When you have been marked by God, you don’t have to be marketed by man.

Session 5: John Piper

Sovereignty of God (inadequate) + cross (inadequate) = obliteration of inadequacy (together is a radical revelation of the cross)

What the Cross Makes Happen:

1- Cross makes God reveal His righteousness

2- Cross reveals God’s mercy

3- Cross reveals the all embracing-ness of God

Romans 3:25- Christ is a wrath remover.  How? By His blood.  Christ is also a shield.

Sin- you preferring anything more than the glory of God.

Romans 8:28-32- spare son

Acts 4:27 & 28

–I stopped taking notes here because I didn’t agree with the theology at this point.

Session 6: Louie Giglio

If your need is bigger than Jesus then HE can’t meet that need.

God makes all things new.

You can’t let the enemy sell you your story.  God writes your story.

If we leave here unchanged, then God will be less glorified.

When there’s nothing left of me…let it be Jesus.

Isaiah 6:8- Crushed by grace but then sent by mercy.  When mercy is extended it should be a no brainer decision.

1 Peter 2:9- There is nothing between you and God- no mediator needed.

The bigger the hair…

It was the summer before my senior year in high school.  I had just gotten home from church camp.  It was just a couple days after, and we all still had that same old spiritual high that you get after spending every night in the woods overlooking the lake at Camp Highlake.  I was at the church literally every time the doors opened.  There was a group of us (part of the groupies of the youth group) who wanted to hang out.  We wanted to be together constantly after the camp experience.

I had let my hair grow out and was cruising in little tink tink (myc0c87dc49b3d607287a1016dd9bff181 Honda civic) over to get my hair chopped off (something I have learned over time that I do when I am ready for a big change).  As I zoomed into the parking space at the new salon I was trying out, our intern called me and the rest of our group,…yes, I repeat called all of us (facebook, twitter, insta, texting didn’t exist…let that one soak in for a min).  He said, dress up as someone you have always wanted to be like and show up at such and such address for a night of fun.  I was game, because, why not?  Making a fool of yourself with a bunch of people can be fun, right?  Now who was I going to be??

As I walked into a department store in the mall, I decided to just start thumbing through some racks of clothes… and low and behold…there it was…a beautiful pink twead pencil skirt and matching jacket.  I had it!  I could dress up like Jackie Kennedy! I happened to have a white pill box hat at home that was my grandmothers… it was perfect!  I also was headed to get my hair chopped.  Perfect timing.  I purchased the outfit and then headed to the salon.

I had randomly called this place because I was in desperate need of a hair cut, and I didn’t like the previous place I went.  They called the hair dresser over, and here walks up a shorter woman with neon red short and spikey hair.  I remember thinking to myself, “oooh…ok this could be interesting.”  She sat me down in the chair and listened intently as I described what I wanted.

I chatted about my night ahead of me and the cute boy who would be there, my love for Jackie Kennedy, my love for God, and she listened.  She cut my hair perfectly, and to top it off…as she started blowing it dry, she asked, “why don’t I flip it out like Jackie??”

I am sure she thought...who is this crazy girl?

Before I left, she started to hair spray my hair, and I asked if she had any “poof and tamer.”  She just cracked up laughing because she had never heard of that.  I explained that it was something you put in your hair to poof it up but it could also tame fly aways.  I had coined a new phrase for me and her.

Again, I am sure she thought I was a unique girl.

From that day on began a new friendship.  Her name was Kim. My mom soon began going to see her to get her hair done too. For 11 years she has blessed both of us.

She was there when I had no friends my senior year because I was friends with all upperclassmen and they graduated.  She was there as I talked through my process of elimination of colleges.  She was there when I finally nailed down the decision to go to ACU.  She was there when I began talking to my dad again after a couple year hiatus.  She was there to fix my hair for prom.  She was there to hear the story of how my date at prom drove his convertible with the top down and ruined my hair.  She was there giving me my last trim before leaving for Texas.  She was there when I came home a week early for thanksgiving because I was homesick.  She was there to hear about the shenanigans of my family in college.  She heard about good boyfriends and very bad boyfriends.  She has seen me grow from that little girl who just simply loved church camp to a person who has a ministry and makes church camps.  She was tickled when she found out that hair actually had something to do with my blog.

She has taken care of me and my mom.  I honestly have thought multiple times over the past four years that I should just go back to her in Nashville when I go home because nobody else has seemed to get it right for a while.

When I left her chair, I always felt taken care of, loved, and 9fe92dc9906289968fa3f0a8dc430859heard.  Kim in many ways has reflected Jesus to me and my mom.  She has told us it was ok to be upset,  ok to make changes,…to life and our hair, encouraged us to do better, and kept our hair looking good while doing it.  I have always said that if you want to know something about me…go to my hair dresser. They get to see you when you look and feel your worst like a pound puppy with wet hair and when you look and feel your best just having put poof and tamer on your hair ready to conquer the issues you face.  She makes me think…that truely the bigger the hair the closer you are to God?

I have been sad today.  Our sweet friend, Kim, passed away.

This is for the ones who encourage us to have big hair and big faith.  I am so very thankful for the Kim’s in my life.  She was a blessing…and she did change my life!  The way you live matters.