Thursday, September 3, 2015

Good Mom vs Bad Mom

I love supporting other writers and ideas that are exploding my mind. This piece by Esther Houston, is one that I can't get out of my head and I hope helps reshape some of my "guilty mom" syndrome. - JM

Original Post by Esther Houston on Hillsong Collective

Being a mother brings out stuff you never knew you had inside of you. An ability to love that you never thought possible before, a level of selflessness you had never experienced before, a grade of sleeplessness you never thought one could survive before. But we love it and wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

We would change everything about it but yet, change nothing at all.

What does that even mean? I’m not really sure, but that’s how I feel.

I’m sure the majority of moms share the sentiment, even though many would be too afraid to admit it and end up sounding like a “bad mom”. So here you go. I’m saying it first so that you can understand that you, dear friend, are not alone; and feeling like that from time to time doesn’t make you a bad mom.

If the single defining characteristic of iconic good motherhood is self-abnegation, her child’s needs come first and their health and happiness are her primary concern. They occupy all her thoughts, her day is constructed around them, and anything and everything she does is for their sakes. 

Her own needs, ambitions, and desires are relevant ONLY when in relation to theirs. If a good mother takes care of herself, it is only to the extent that she doesn’t hurt her children. A good mom MUST be able to figure out how to find time for herself, but only if it’s without detriment to her child’s feelings of self-worth.

How is any of that even achievable? 

Being a good father is a reasonable and attainable goal. You show up, you support, you’re physically there (when you can), you provide. I think I’m a MUCH better father than I am a mother.


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Do you feel the struggle? How do you handle the good mom vs bad mom mindset? 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Not Just Another Sunday | Project WOW

PROJECT WOW is the brain child and collaboration of Ashley Beckford and friends. If you're a woman, and you lead worship at any capacity or want to (I see you) this site is for you.

Let’s be honest, ladies. We’ve all done it. I know I have. We’ve come into our Sunday services consumed. Consumed, distracted and overwhelmed with life’s issues. We’ve walked through the sanctuary doors thinking about everything else besides the reason we are there and the One we are supposed to be there for. 

Then we take the platform still thinking about what the people in the seats (or pews) are thinking about us, our church, our abilities and extra-ordinary skills in nailing that high note or run.

We’ve somehow gotten things twisted. We are caring more about every other person in the room other than the One we declare in our songs. We sing words like “Holy Spirit, You are welcome here”. All the while, I think He wonders if that’s actually true. 

Have we put together such amazing run sheets and song lists that Planning Center would combust if we deviated from it, should God ask us to? 

Here’s the million-dollar question: Have we left room in our hearts to hear Him when He speaks to us? Or are we too busy getting to every service element before the countdown clock in the back turns red and we usher in a new crowd and do it all over again?

Post by Shunna Jones Moreno

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Notes from Sunday | On Trusting God



Trust is an enigma, its almost always preceded with a great amount of fear but once you engage it, it'll set you free.

I was a girl who was told having her own babies was probably never gonna happen. And now, 5 years later, I have a toddler and another miracle on the way (and I'm not even sure how this one happened...)

The doctors gave me a diagnosis that shattered my world, but God always works at a different capacity from this world.

Listen, I'm not saying that when you bring your needs to God he will fill them how you want them.

What I am saying is when you bring your needs to God, He fills them in a way that will cause you to know Him and love Him and trust Him even more than you do right now in this moment.

Whatever you're carrying around today give it to Him.

Someone here needs to know God is their defender.

Someone here needs to know God is their provider.

Someone here needs to know God is their ultimate healer.
Someone here needs to know God still love you. No matter what. 

Trust Him at His word when it says, 
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
He's not messin' around.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

A Letter to My Brother 4 Years Later

Four years ago, I wrote you this letter to say that I love you and I love her and I love that you love her and she loves you. That was the gist. Little did I know, just a glimpse of your story would draw people in so quickly and consistently. 

Maybe it's the pictures, young love and rosy cheeks. Maybe it's idea of marriage and fresh beginnings. Or, maybe it's the hope of what could be in their own lives. 

By now, I'm sure you've figured out that marriage is tough. 

There are good days and bad days. Dynamite days and get-out-of-my-face days. There are days you just want to lay in bed, forget the tasks knocking down your door, and cuddle. And then there are days you think, "Do we have to fight about this again?

My plan for this letter was to tell you why it's worth it. Why the fight is always worth it. I was going to tell you that for every bad day there are 100 good days. 

I was going to tell you that the history you two are writing together will forever be irreplaceable and it's the thread that binds your heart and mind and soul together, tighter and more aligned with each passing year. 

But over the last 6 months, I've never been more proud to watch you grown into the man of God you've become. The love we saw way back then, has proven to be just the tip of the iceberg that is you. Your affection and devotion for this girl has been an absolute joy to watch. 

You lift her up. You adore her. You praise her and trust her. 
You know her inner battles and you soothe them with your presence. 
You hold her even when she thinks she wants to be alone and you comfort her when her world is crashing around her. 
You see her wounds and you do everything you can to heal them.
You take joy in her, knowing she's yours and you're one lucky son of a gun. 
You make sure she belly laughs by doing stupid dances in the kitchen.
You make sure her eyes sparkle by bringing her flowers.
You let her explore her passions and dreams and you are her #1 cheerleader for every race she decides to run. 

You're not perfect, but everything she deserves, you have worked to give her. 

I've never been more proud of you. You two are beating the odds. Your marriage is most definitely a beacon shining in the the darkest of nights. Keep fighting, keep loving, keep laughing, and have a kid or two soon eh?  #jk #butseriously

I love you,

- Julie

Sunday, July 19, 2015

So...Chalk Anyone? | A Baby Surprise!


Guy Version:
We're having a baby!

Girl Version:
It's true. Totally unexpected, but totally true. AH! Ty and I were actually in a fight the day we found out. We'd just moved into our new home, sang at a wedding, had a mini-anniversary/mini-birthday celebration for us and Sym, and did a full weekend at church. 

Needless to say, by Monday I was exhausted. According to Ty, I was irritated, grumpy, and distant. The jury's still out on that... 

Things finally bubbled to the surface when he asked "Babe, you ok?" for like the 17th time. You know that meme that says I was fine until you asked me if I was ok for the 17th time, it was like that. 

Yes, babe, I snapped. I'm fine, I'm just exhausted, hungry, my stomach is bothering me and...we should probably stop by the store on the way home. 

So we did. Got home, peed on that silly stick and so many memories came flooding back. 

I handed it to Ty and he just stared. 

"So, if it has a + sign, it's positive?" he asked. 

WHAT?!

The moment my eyes met the stick I had the same exact feeling I did when I found out with Sym. My stomach dropped the same way and my eyes welled with tears at the same pace. Instantly. 

OK. I looked at Ty, still reeling. This isn't possible. This isn't supposed to be possible. 

But God. :)

It seems His favorite thing to do is the impossible, because then we know, without a shadow of a doubt, it's from Him. 

It always is. 

Also, fun fact: The day after we told family, our old pregnancy announcement on FB resurfaced...but of course we couldn't say, "HEY GUYS NOT PREGNANT!" Because we totally were. #gotcha 

We're so ecstatic (and a little nervous) to add to our little family. Life in Austin has been amazing. This community has quickly become family. We're forming our tribe, and now we're gonna need them more than ever. 


Wednesday, July 8, 2015

I Want My Daughter to Know Why We Sing


I have a fear that one day my daughter might come to despise the church, without ever really knowing or discovering for herself what it stands for.

I've seen my fair share of pastors' kids or kids with any connection to the Church, turn their back on it all because of any number of reasons. Some, because of all the things it took away from them--recitals, dad at their ball games, family dinners, vacations, Sunday morning doughnut runs. Others, because of the chaos it comes with--fishbowl lifestyle, open home, early mornings and late nights.

I know some parents completely missed the signs; the warnings and cries for attention or help from their children. But some really, really tried. Like really.

That's what terrifies me.

I'm afraid I'll try my hardest to be balanced and still miss the mark.

So I started a journal. For her. Hopefully the first of dozens that I'll write in, pray over, cry through and laugh about.

It's just one more attempt to go out of my way to let her know, to let you know, sweet Symphony, why we get up early and stay up late, why we spend most every Christmas and Easter in the walls of a Church.

This is why you know your way around the sanctuary and church halls and where every bathroom and trash can are. This is why everyone you waddle past knows your name.

Because Jesus loves us.
He saved us.
We, me and your Dad, we shouldn't be here.
He wasn't planned.
I was supposed to be a sexual abuse statistic.
We are not supposed to be here, in this place, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

We made some bad decisions.
Destructive decisions.
Petty, self-righteous, and sinful decisions.

AND GOD'S GRACE WAS STILL SUFFICIENT.

Trust me, that's some crazy good news.

We sing because we have to. 
We have to tell the world about this magnificent grace and love.
We have to show you that it's the most real thing you'll ever experience.

This is why we sing, and dance and act like crazy people on and off the stage.

Grace, love, peace.
Redemption, restoration.
It's all because of Jesus.

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Our family worships and serves at Shoreline Church in Austin,TX. If you're local we'd love you to join us! And tell us when you're here. Obvs :) 


Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Our Boots to the Ground on Human Trafficking


For 5 years I've have the honor of carrying a portion of the human trafficking burden. It's something that's real and that, thank God almighty, people are becoming more and more aware exists right in their backyards. 

After a series of horrific dreams of brothels, trafficking rings, and hopeless girls in 2009, Tyson and I decided do something, anything, to be a part of this giant solution. We found and sponsored a fantastic organization called LOVE 146. Our girls conference played a huge part in raising awareness on this injustice and YOU gave hundreds of dollars to support them! 

M y  e y e s  w e r e  o p e n e d . 

In 2012, I met Crystal and within 3 minutes of chatting with her I knew her heart was bleeding for this issue. She headed up My Refuge House in the Philippines; a safe home for rescued girls to experience freedom and restoration. The last girls conference was in FULL SUPPORT mode for these girls. We wrote them letters, gave our hard earned money and we even ran, like RAN, to tell the world about them! 

M y  h e a r t  w a s  b r o k e n .

And then, last year I met Lindsey. A girl whose heart became arrested with this injustice and whose mind could not fathom the gap that existed between her world and theirs. Prostitutes. Street girls. Modern day slavery. And even the pimps. She couldn't live her life another day and not do something. And she asked me to come along. 

M y  f e e t  w e r e  a c t i v a t e d .

And I believe yours will too after you watch this:



WHY AM I TELLING YOU THIS - 

Because I trust you. Most of you have been with me on this journey from my initial awareness to every hands on opportunity we've had. The last 6 years have been our journey in changing our corners of the world and I want to extend, yet another invitation. 

WHO WE ARE - 

All Worthy of Love is a justice focused non-profit that reaches out to men and women enslaved by street-prostitution. Our mission is to restore broken dwellings, based on the teachings of Isaiah 58.

We work in a three stranded cord; prevention, rescue, and restoration.
We prevent sex trafficking through awareness.
We rescue victims of trafficking through weekly outreach. 
We restore victims of trafficking through partnerships with local organizations that offer safe housing and restorative care.

We believe all are worthy of love.

Amen?!


WHAT YOU CAN DO. RIGHT NOW. THIS MINUTE. 

PRAY. This is not a pat answer. Pray hard and pray every Monday at 7:00PM central time. Set an alarm. That's when we drive and find girls and pimps to give hygiene kits and lunches to. We ask God to bring them out of the darkness, both literally and spiritually. It's His job. We're just there when they show up. 

MAKE LUNCHES. If you're local to Austin, Texas, and you have a couple hours free on Monday afternoons, and you love us, you can make and pray over 20 lunches for us to give to the girls! Not kidding. Email me. If you're not local, but still want to donate to meals, go here! 

DONATE A HYGIENE KIT. Or a part of it. Each kit includes 9 travel-sized items: shampoo, conditioner, lotion, soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, washcloth, deodorant, and a razor.

We also like to add in some special items when we can, such as make up, nail polish, or perfume to help the women to feel beautiful. So send those lip glosses and nail polishes right over! You don't have to be local to do this one! 

LUNCH BOX NOTES. Did your mom ever write "I love you!" or draw a smiley face on your lunch napkin? No? Just me? Ok. Well it's awesome and we want those girls to feel absurdly loved. Even down the the napkins. Will you write a note or a bunch of them and mail them to us? 

These are our main needs for the Austin Outreach location, but you can see more ways to be involved here.

If you're doing ANY of the above, will you tell me in the comments below?! If you'd like to ship or donate physical items mentioned above, email me and I'll send you the address.

You guys are the best and I am honored to have this community restoring the world with me and my friends :) I am praying this will be one of the biggest victories the Christian Church has seen to date.

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Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all who are destitute. Open your mouth, judge righteously, defend the rights of the poor and needy. - Proverbs 31:8-9

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. - Isaiah 61
Photo quote via

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Are You an Intentional Friend?



Me neither.


Friendship is the mother of all relationships; ironically. (Click to tweet!)

Without friendship, the human race cannot thrive. We could survive, sure, but we wouldn’t be living at our full capacity. We wouldn’t be tapping into who we really are: Created beings in the image of a relational God.

Now with that, let me say I am a bad friend.

Or at least that’s what my sweet husband tried to tell me. We were watching a video series on marriage and that evening’s topic was on friendship. The pastor said thatfriendship is the foundation of all healthy relationships. Different types of friendships will go to different levels of intimacy, nonetheless, friendship is the required baseline.
At the end of the video, he told us to ask one another how they think we are doing on the friendship scale. When I asked Ty, he replied,
“You’re a good friend babe…when you want to be.”
Of course he was super gentle and compassionate in his response, so much so that I did not feel offended (for long). But he was right. Ty’s words to me that day were both timely and enlightening. I never realized I was that way with my friends. But as I started to evaluate my friendships and the ones that fizzled, I saw a pattern of declining priority among them.

I realized I am what I like to categorize as a “convenience friend.”

When the stars align and my schedule clears up, then we can try to get coffee. It’s not for lack of desire necessarily, but rather ignorant precedence. I love my friends, probably more than they know, but I wasn’t being intentional about showing them their value in my life.
That night I tossed and turned until 4AM, mulling over the many friendships I’ve probably lost due to my unintentional way of being a friend; or convenience friendship. I felt dichotomized because on one hand I felt so much sorrow for the past, and on the other hand I felt motivated to start showing my friends just how much they mean to me.
I was reminded while reading Colossians 3, that friendship doesn’t just consistent of the DON’T's (don’t gossip, don’t backstab, don’t hate, don’t hurt, etc), but more so of the DO’s (love, humility, patience, kindness, compassion, etc).

Friendship isn’t passive and convenient, it is proactive and sought out because it is necessary! We were never meant to be independent and self-sufficient. We were never meant to be alone.

You need them to get through this life and they need you.

So this is my challenge to you (and to me!)
This week, write a card, an email, or a text to a friend you have been “convenient” with. 

First, ask for their forgiveness for not being the friend they needed. 

Second, tell them how much you appreciate them and be specific. They will love it!
“Again, I saw vanity under the sun: one person who has no other, either son or brother, yet there is no end to all his toil, and his eyes are never satisfied with riches, so that he never asks, “For whom am I toiling and depriving myself of pleasure?” This also is vanity and an unhappy business. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:7-9).
^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

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