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.

- - - - -

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

Thursday, June 4, 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.

- - - - - - - - - -
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 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).

Thursday, May 28, 2015

I'm in Love With Us


I love my family. This isn't as much bragging as it is me being in awe of how much God knows and cares about the details of our lives. The three of us, we're perfect for each other. Everything about us feels too natural and charmed. 

Don't get me wrong. We are human. We're flawed. We're temperamental and we each have our innate bends towards selfishness and stubbornness. Some a little more than others. #notnamingnames

But even those, the flaws and setbacks, they seem to come in perfectly timed waves amongst one another. We're never all down and out at the same time. We're never all stubborn at the same time. We're never all throwing tantrums at the same time. There's always one that is steadfast. And since we're being honest, sometimes it's the littlest of us. #notkidding 

The realist side of me goes to bed fearing it won't be like this forever. And maybe it won't. But we can't know that, until, well, forever comes and goes. 

So until then, we're going to eat way to many fruit snacks, giggle while reading something about a pig and parade, and talk and gawk at the "funder" storms outside our apartment. 
We're going to continue bending out patience and kindness and sweetness and love. 
We're going to tell each other "sowy" when we've hurt feelings or disobeyed and not fear repentance.
We're going to talk to Jesus through songs and prayers and listen to what He might be telling us.
We're going to take random drives down dream neighborhoods and end up on totally last minute dates to super unhealthy pizza places.

Because that's us. And I'm in love with every last bit of us. 

- - - - - - -
600 Degrees Pizza is one of our family favorites. If you're local or visiting Austin, Texas, make sure to try the #3.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

20 Things to Remember If You Love a Highly Creative Person


So I discovered this article, thanks to the ever growing curiosity of Facebook, and my mind has been blown. Not just because I resonate with every single point on this list, but this is my daughter too!

Not sure why I ever doubted creativity would be in her bloodline, but I'm a little humored and embarrassed that a LifeHack list sealed the deal for me. #insertridiculousnessnow
Have a fun read through these, are you a creative too?!

1. They have a mind that never slows down.
The creative mind is a non-stop machine fueled by intense curiosity. There is no pause button and no way to power it down. This can be exhausting at times but it is also the source of some crazy fun activities and conversations.

2. They challenge the status quo.
Two questions drive every creative person more than any others: What if? and Why not? They question what everyone else takes at face value. While uncomfortable for those around them, it’s this ability that enables creatives to redefine what’s possible.

3. They embrace their genius even if others don’t.Creative individuals would rather be authentic than popular. Staying true to who they are, without compromise, is how they define success even if means being misunderstood or marginalized.


4. They have difficulty staying on task.Highly creative people are energized by taking big mental leaps and starting new things. Existing projects can turn into boring slogs when the promise of something new and exciting grabs their attention.

5. They create in cycles.Creativity has a rhythm that flows between periods of high, sometimes manic, activity and slow times that can feel like slumps. Each period is necessary and can’t be skipped just like the natural seasons are interdependent and necessary.

6. They need time to feed their souls.No one can drive cross-country on a single take of gas. In the same way, creative people need to frequently renew their source of inspiration and drive. Often, this requires solitude for periods of time.


7. They need space to create.Having the right environment is essential to peak creativity. It may be a studio, a coffee shop, or a quiet corner of the house. Wherever it is, allow them to set the boundaries and respect them.


8. They focus intensely.Highly creative people tune the entire world out when they’re focused on work. They cannot multi-task effectively and it can take twenty minutes to re-focus after being interrupted, even if the interruption was only twenty seconds.


9. They feel deeply.Creativity is about human expression and communicating deeply. It’s impossible to give what you don’t have, and you can only take someone as far as you have gone yourself. A writer once told me that an artist must scream at the page if they want a whisper to be heard. In the same way, a creative person must feel deep if they are to communicate deeply.


10. They live on the edge of joy and depression.Because they feel deeply, highly creative people often can quickly shift from joy to sadness or even depression. Their sensitive heart, while the source of their brilliance, is also the source of their suffering.


11. They think and speak in stories.Facts will never move the human heart like storytelling can. Highly creative people, especially artists, know this and weave stories into everything they do. It takes longer for them to explain something, explaining isn’t the point. The experience is.


12. They battle Resistance every day.Highly creative people wake up every morning, fully aware of the need to grow and push themselves. But there is always the fear, Resistance as Pressfield calls it, that they don’t have what it takes. No matter how successful the person, that fear never goes away. They simply learn to deal with it, or not.
- - - - - - - - - -

Is this you too!?

Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art, writes:  “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”

Click to finish reading the last 8 on Life Hack's original article.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Dear Worship Leader, Set Them Up for Success



"You are good, You are good,
In the valley low, we trust because we know,
You are good, You are good,
We will praise Your name and give You everything,
For You are good!"
(-Shoreline Music)

This is one of my favorite songs to lead. So much truth written at such a down-to-earth level. I also love when songs give the worshippers an action to take amidst the melodies.

"We lift our hands, we lift our hands to You, for You are good!" 

As a worship leader, when you can give people permission to worship freely and boldly, over and above what we may assume, it unlocks something.

Try it. Try placing a song in your set with some kind of action phrase and see if it unhinges your corporate worship. 

Set them up for a successful time of worship. This means, yes, removing any and all obstacles that may hinder them from pressing in. But it also means, giving them the tools to build a life of worship. 

And sometimes, the tool is as simple as stated permission. 

- - - - - - - - -
If you're a worship leader, pretty please tell me what church you're at in the comments! I want to know and see and celebrate with you how God is moving in your community.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

4 Things I Learned in Prison | Hope

You have nothing to say. There's no way she'll relate to you. Can grace really be this deep?

This voice in my spirit would not relent. I don't know if it was my own doubts or some outside source, but it was ugly and mean.

The Word of God is sharper than any double edged sword, I spit back. Greater is HE that is in me than He that is in the world, I repeated it to myself over and over again.

I shook my hands out and bent my knees. I felt like I was going to buckle amidst my group of women.

He came to seek out and save the lost. I was lost and so was she. He came for me and her.

Sarah* was probably the seventh or eighth girl out the big metal door. She shuffled her white sneakers down the ramp and onto the cold damp concrete.

One thing I noticed right away was the two different style of shoes the girls had on. Clean white sneakers and black cloth slip ons with rubber soles. That's interesting, I thought to myself.

As she started looking around, I walked up to her and introduced myself. "Hi, I'm Jules. What's your name?"

"I'm Sarah," she said and as she did her eyes lit up and the corners of her mouth began to widen. Most of these women were numbers. Identity was considered a privilege they didn't have.

The program started and we all sat on the cold hard concrete as the speaker told us her story of brokenness, abuse, and addiction. Sarah sat next to me.

"Do you ever get tired of doing this?" the speaker asked. "Do you ever get tired of running and surviving?" Some of the women answered verbally and others just with their brows and nods.

"Then listen to me, there is rest for you today. Jesus said, 'Come to ME and I will give you rest."

Wiping the tears from my own welling eyes, I glanced at Sarah. Then I looked to my left, behind me, and in front of me and I saw it. I saw the walls cracking and heart gates opening. I saw women, just like you and me, sitting in what looked like an elementary school yard, feel the pain and the loss and the fear.

I saw, old ones and young ones alike, covering their mouths with their sleeves because this woman told them we loved them.

It was obvious they'd never heard that before, or if they did it was followed with a broken promise.

"These women," the speaker continued, "They came here from all over the country just for you."

We huddled into groups of five or six and Sarah, wiping her eyes and a little worried about her makeup, scooted into my group. We talked through the message of the Gospel and then the flood gates opened. It started with Sarah.

"I've been here for 15 years," she said, "and I've got 10 more before I'm even up for parole. My youngest son is in his 20's and I never saw him grow up. I have five grand babies I've never even met. Every day I wake up and ask God why He's keeping me alive. How do I keep the faith with something like that?"

Remember how I noticed the two different styles of shoes? The girls who were in for a short-term didn't waste their commissary money on shoes. They'd get by with the cheap ones. But the sneakers, the clean white crisp sneakers, those girls had lost all hope.

There it was again, that voice. You're in way over your head.

With tears streaming down my face, I leaned in, looked her straight in the eyes and replied, "I have no idea. I have no idea what it's like for you. But I do know this: the God you pray to every morning, if it's the same God I talk to everyday, He is in the business of redemption."

"Even for someone like me?" she asked.

Yes, absolutely yes.

- - - - - - - - - -
As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. When he heard the crowd going by, he asked what was happening. They told him, "Jesus of Nazareth is passing by."
He called out, "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" Those who led the way rebuked him and told him to be quiet, but he shouted all the more, "Son of David, have mercy on me!"
Jesus stopped and ordered the man to be brought to him. When he came near, Jesus asked him, "What do you want me to do for you?" "Lord, I want to see," he replied. Jesus said to him, "Receive your sight; your faith has healed you."

Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus, praising God. When all the people saw it, they also praised God.
Luke 18:35-43


Wholeness, healing, redemption; all things I tend to put subconscious guidelines on. For instance, it'll only come to situations like this and people like that. It's never too radical but definitely not impossible. 

My finite mind has tried so hard to grasp the vast concept of grace and salvation, the undying hope of the world, but it was a pair of crisp white sneakers that made it click for me.

Hope is for everyone. Everyone. There is no limit on God's redemption plan. 

This weekend Sarah was confronted with the same question Jesus asked the blind man, What do you want me to do for you? 

And she answered, "Hope. I want you to give me hope."

*Names changed to protect identity
This post is part of a four part series. Did you miss Part One?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

4 Things I Learned in Prison | Faith


We drove up to the back entrance, on the back end of a car line filled with old Cadillacs and soccer mom SUV's. My hands were sweating and my body aching as we pulled into our parking space.

I thought I knew what I was doing, but it turns out I had no idea what I was getting into. This was the kind of thing you can prepare for in theory, but until you do it, your mind grasps desperately for something predictable.

Nothing about this was predictable to me.

As we walked towards the crowd, my manila packet in hand and name badge pinned securely to my black leather jacket, I prayed unbeautiful prayers that sounded more like stuttering than actual supplication.

Help me, I'm not sure, what am I doing? How, how, how did I ever think I could make a difference here?

Yet, regardless of what I thought I should or shouldn't be doing, there I was, walking myself alongside an army of grandmothers, mothers, recovering addicts, widows and a few college girls into a small door on the corner of what can only be described as the Jericho of chain link fences.

We had come to prison.

And I was terrified.

But not of them. Of me.

As we walked along the freshly cut grass of the maximum security women's only prison, and into a gym that steamed of clorox and lemon, I thought, "What exactly am I going to say to  a woman who was incarcerated for things I can't even dream up??" A lot of these women were here for life.

Who was I, this girl with standard life, to tell them about joy and freedom and redemption?

I doubted God's move on this one, but promised I would keep my heart and my eyes and my ears open to hear from Him and seek out hopelessness.

Unfortunately, I didn't have to look far.

As we walked through their dorms, toward the backlot where we'd have our gathering, I could have cried, seeing the vast pendelum of reactions when a dozen women walked through their "home" smiling and greeting them with all warmness and care.

Some were furious. Some were confused. And some lit up like a child on Christmas morning.

They looked at us like we weren't real.

Hopelessness wasn't far off.

- - - - - -

What do you do when God calls you to something you feel completely and utterly inadequate to accomplish?

What do you do when you have no concrete idea what you're actually supposed to be doing? 

I had a lot of questions and about 7 minutes to discern an answer. Or so I thought. For most of the morning, I thought I needed the entire roadmap to be effective. I needed to see the destination and work backwards in order to not end up off roading or stuck in a ditch I couldn't get out of. 

Nevertheless, I had a gut wrenching feeling God was going to do, once again, what He'd been faithful to do all my life:

God was going to guide my steps. Not give me a full delineation of the game plan.  

In other words, I had to move, walk, step instead of sitting in the paralyzing planning phase of the moment. 

Reason is knowing and trusting a proven God. Faith is super scary movement based on reason. 


So I walked. Right up to a beautiful woman named Sarah.*



To be continued.
*Names have been changed to protect identity. 
^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

Reader Faves.