Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas from the Mo's

Christmas comes with all sorts of expectations, traditions, generations and institutions. It's nearly inescapable. 

And while all the bloggers I read religiously have posted about theirs (which I've had the best time reading and gleaning ideas), I feel like the four "tions" of Christmas and beyond for the Mo home are changing. Of course, there are one or two things that will never change, and I'm grateful for those. Love being the top. We know we are loved and we know we love. 

But as for the rest, we are in transition. I'm not sure what 2014 will bring for our little family. Despite our fresh and crisp and barely unwrapped day planners, I don't think anyone really ever does. But I do know that it will be new and maybe even a little scary. It always is. A little scary. 

But that's what we said last year too. And to be honest, the scary parts made it that much more beautiful. Why does it work out that way I wonder...

I don't know all that this year has brought for you, but I have heard and seen and read your stories. 

-Some of you are champions in my book. You have fought through a heavy and weighted year and you deserve more than a medal. I wish I could hug you. 
-Some of you are champions because you accomplished goals you never thought possible! You got literal medals! I wish I could hug you too. 
-Some of you had a well-deserved break from chaos and clutter this year. It wasn't easy breezy, but close to it. I want to buy you coffee and ask you how you did it!
-Some of you, well, your year is 2014 and I want to be your biggest fan. Start strong, keep stride, and push as hard as you can. You are good enough. 

Thank you for your gifts of friendship this year, no matter the degrees. And next year, let's do it all again shall we? 

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For a little light reading and reminiscing, here yours, mine, and our favorite posts of 2013: 




And just because I think it's cute and funny, this post has been the #1 read post on this blog since its birth: A Letter To My Brother on His Wedding Day. Who knew. ;)

Merry Christmas + a Happy New Year! See you on the other side. 

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Family portraits taken by the fabulous Emily Tingley with OopsyDaisy Photography. Book her. Trust me.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christian Vocabulary: Can't Live With It, Can't Live Without It

Being raised in a Christian home, I have never known what life is like on the other side of faith. I have always wondered what people are really thinking when they hear the words: Holy Spirit, the Trinity, blessed, redeemed, Savior and my personal favorite phrase: the blood of Jesus.

It all seems a little exclusive and sometimes downright creepy.

On this side of the coin, all those phrases and words are understood within certain contexts, passages, and theology, but outside of all that, it's just a little weird I'm sure. I mean, in what other context or setting is it ok to discuss the brutal death and shedding blood of a man as a good thing for anyone?

It's violent and gory.
It can feel sadistic when talked about.
It's ancient and seemingly irrelevant to culture today.

Sometimes our vocabulary can hinder the vision. And yet sometimes it's dead without it. 

All those phrases and words come with healing and love and grace. Lots and lots of love and grace. Not because the words themselves are powerful. No, they're just a bunch of letters obligatorily stuck together by their creators. But its those creators that gave them their power. It's the Creator, of heaven and of earth, that gives them power. 

I am not a doctor. I am not a theologian. I have friends who can explain all the logistics of the Trinity and Creation and how we know God has to exist. 

But what I do have, I believe, is just as powerful. 

I have experience. I have first hand experience with the truth and the grace and the love of God almighty.

The Truth: He exists, He knows, sees, and created this world. He made it good and beautiful. He is redeeming it by His Son and through His people. And we're doing our best. 

The Grace: I deserve nothing outside of the life I've made a mess of. And even that's questionable. My natural inclination is rarely towards positive and more-than-I'd-like-to-admit towards negative. Yet the hand of Mercy (not getting all I deserve) and Grace (having more than I've earned) are seen working and kneading and fashioning my life. 

The Love: He does it all because He wants to. 

As a religion, Christianity can seem a little mystic, non-sensical and exclusive from the outside looking in, but when it comes down to it, it's really not. Those old archaic words, the ones we've been breathing in and out for the last 5000 years, they ring more true in the 21st century than ever before. (<<< Click to tweet that.)

Everyday we get a clearer picture of what Jesus was talking about when He said things like, "I have overcome the world," and "I am the bread of life," and "They will know you are mine, by your love for one another.

When it comes down to it, Christianity, and all its jargon and vocabulary, is a group of broken people, leaning into the truth and grace and love of God, and walking away changed. 

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Have you ever felt Christianity was weird or overly mystical? Were you raised in the church? Did you leave or did you stay? Are you from the outside looking in? 

Let's chat in the comment section. I try to reply to every single comment!

Original photo via

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

If You Have a Friend for Life, Don't Let Anything Pull You Apart

Friendship is a weird thing. It's a commitment that ebbs and flows depending on the season of life we are in. Sometimes cultivating the friendship is convenient. Sometimes it is not.

Sometimes talking on the phone for hours on end about absolutely nothing and everything at the same time is doable. Sometimes it is not.

Sometimes weekly book clubs and Bible studies are inspiring and necessary. Sometimes they're not.

Sometimes spontaneous overnight trips to the city to read and write silently in the same room is refreshing. Sometimes it's just too much work to get there in the first place.

Sometimes friendships are circumstantial, and sometimes, they're not.  (Click to Tweet)

High school, college, marriage, motherhood are the seasons that my friendships have filtered through so far. Some stuck and some didn't. Some were pivotal in their designated season and others have become more so as time moves on.

But regardless, I'm learning my friends are a necessary, not optional, necessary part of my existence.

I need her to push me when I'm lazily meandering through life. I need her to pick me up off the bathroom floor when my burdens are weighing me down. I need her to belly laugh at the totally inappropriate memes I find on Pinterest. I need her to cry tears of sorrow when I lose, and tears of gladness when I've been given. Specifically life.

I need her and she needs me. Otherwise, we might not make it sane in this world.  (Click to Tweet)

She needs you and you need her. Otherwise, you might not make it either.

So, if you have a friend who is turning out to be one of those lifetime friends, don't let anything, nothing, pull that apart. (Click to Tweet) 

Fight for your friendships because it'll be worth it when you're grey haired and reminiscing, "Remember that one time..."

 - - - - - - - - - -

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work:  If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
Friendship is always a sweet responsibility, never an opportunity. – Khalil Gibran
Better is open rebuke than hidden love.  Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. Proverbs 27:5-6

Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together. – Woodrow T. Wilson

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17
True friendship is when you walk into their house and your WiFi connects automatically.

Friday, November 15, 2013

We Need Love

This weekend I am headed up the California mountain range with a Venti Caramel Macchiato and some of my favorite women in the whole world. Last year we began a tradition of "retreating for some dreaming" before our annual girls conference. It was such a spring board for the most successful year we've had yet, that we decided to do it again, with more intentionality and purpose.

This year we asked ourselves, When a group of girls and women, set out to change their corner of the world, what do we need to be equipped with above all?


Why? You might ask.

Because love is patient and love is kind. It does not envy or boast. It is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way. It is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. 

Because love bears all things, believes all things, hopes and endures all things.

We all have a gripping desire to feel loved, valued, and seen. Sure, there is time for discipline and consequences of actions taken, but at the end of the day, we all need to love one another and be loved by one another for this world to shift in the slightest.

Because above all, that's what our world needs and because it never ends.

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Will you pray for my staff this weekend? As we seek and study in preparation for this year's conference? (For those of you who've responded on FB already, thank you, thank you, thank you!)

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Do you know a High school or Middle school girl that is searching for a place to ask questions and experience God? Try out Becoming Girls Conference and see if it's a good fit.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Worshipping with Baby Mo, On Stage!

Worshipped with my childhood church this morning and Baby Girl Mo tagged along for rehearsal.

I shed many tears of sorrow, longing and heart ache on this stage, never thinking this moment would become a reality.

It's a little surreal she's here. May my passion for singing to Him never waver despite my circumstances. ♥

Thank you @emtingley for capturing this moment!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

My Daughter Needs Me to Stop Striving for Perfection

Ty: Hey.
Me: Hey.
Ty: Remember when you use to blog everyday?
Me: Vaguely. 

You'd think, a three-hour napper would give me some space and time to sit and pound out a couple of the posts I have bouncing in and out of my head all day. But sometimes bills, laundry and sleep take precedence. 

I've always had a hard time not being the perfect housewife. I hate cleaning and when I attempt to cook a meal, I'm easily distracted; resulting in something burning, overflowing, or disgusting. I frequently have to rewash laundry because I forget to switch it over. My counters don't sparkle and it's a good day if the bed gets made. 

Every January first, at least one of my resolutions consist of changing this part of me. 

Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started to get anxious about the extra responsibility motherhood was going to put on these areas of my life. If I can't get these under control now, how am I going to do this and take care of another human being? Pinterest didn't help.

Perfection was my goal and meeting that goal wasn't looking good. 

"Striving for excellence motivates you, striving for perfection is demoralizing." 
-Dr. Harriet Bralker 

Striving for perfection is disheartening. Discombobulating. Discouraging. 

There have been moments in the last three months when I've felt just that: demoralized. Not because I have a difficult baby or even lack of sleep, but because of giant monster we call "comparison." Between "Supermom's" Facebook posts and the self-burdening expectations I put on myself and my sweet baby, comparison has gotten the better of me on more than one occasion.

I've quickly realized perfection is unattainable, because perfection is a mirage. (You know someone needs to hear that! Tweet, tweet?)

If there's one thing I've learned so far, in my short stint of this marathon, it's that motherhood isn't an end goal, it's a journey (Click to tweet). The failure, the struggle, the joy and exceeding expectations are part of it all; or so I hear. 

I may not be as perfect as I'd hoped to be, but I'm learning to accept that right now, at this point in my journey, to my baby girl, I'm as good of a mother as I can be. 

"There's something better than perfection," and it's authenticity. I need it, my daughter needs it, my husband needs it, my community needs it. 

*If you are on Facebook, you saw the picture that rocked me into this whole thing.

Sure, it may be messier, less squeaky and more wrinkly. But it's worth it. 

Maybe, you've been struggling with the mirage of perfection too; in motherhood, in academia, in the workforce, in marriage. Maybe you've felt like your end goal is unattainable. Unreachable. 

You don't feel like the best ____________________. Me neither. But right now, in this season, as learners and seekers, we are the best we can be. And sometimes, that's good enough. 

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What's a stand-out lesson you've learned about "mirage of perfection" so far? It can be from your own experience or from observing someone else's experience. 

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While motherhood is a very prevalent part of my current season, I try to limit myself to a once a week gush. It's usually Thursdays. Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Rest Is Out of My Comfort Zone

I've been rewriting and deleting posts for the last three days, feeling like what I'm attempting to communicate is jammed under my fingernails and won't come out. There's no fast track to becoming a better writer, speaker, singer, mentor, mother. They all take time and practice. Lots of time. Lots of practice.

I'm one of those girls that wants to accomplish all my dreams and whims right now. Like, right now right now. I think with all the "Yolo-ing" I see, feel, hear around me, I've fallen into a creativity stall out on the road to overwhelm.

I want to Yolo.

In fact, my comfort zone is yolo-ing. I love whimsical adventures and impromptu cupcake shop dreams. I love packing the car and heading to Sunny San Diego overnight. I love buying way too many art supplies with dreams of painting something every morning by my big open window. I love starting a worship coaching business in my home while learning how to be a mom, and planting a church with my husband in the big bad cement jungle of Los Angeles. 

That's my comfort zone. Always moving, always creating. 

What's outside of my comfort zone is reduction. Slowing down makes me nervous; like I didn't utilize that day to its fullest capacity. I wasted time. I wasted energy. 

Do you ever feel like that? (Thanks to your responses on Facebook, I know I'm not alone in this.)

I don't view rest as a way to pace myself; to prevent burn out or burn down. I see it as lazy and unuseful. I could have done one more load of laundry; I need to email those people back; I really should mop the floors. But all I really want to do is sleep, watch a show, or take a walk.   

I know these feelings aren't based on truth. I know resting is good. It's natural and quite biblical. I know the lack of it causes weariness and anxiety. I know some seasons are meant to be lived in big movement, while other seasons are meant to cease such movement. (Tweet that.) Or at least slow down a little. 

Jesus knew without rest, His disciples were ineffective (Mark 6:31, Matthew 26:45)
Jesus knew without rest, He was ineffective. (Matthew 8:24, 14:13, Mark 6:31-32, 46)

In the midst of a "busy life," even Jesus knew rest was necessary. (Click to tweet) The Son of God, fully man and fully God, saw it fit to stop. Breathe. Nourish. Rest.

No life is meant to live hurried and bustled and crowded. Life is meant to be lived, sweetly and freely, affecting change in the hearts, minds, and souls of the people around us. And we can't do that if we're burnt or burdened. 

If the God Man identified a need in His own life, and the life of His closest friends, to stop wheels from spinning, well then I can certainly take time to do the same. Even if it is far out of my comfort zone.

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What is outside of your comfort zone?
Are you a naturally restful person? Or are you uneasy with resting like me?

Let's chat in the comment section.

photo via buttercupink

Friday, October 18, 2013

The Job Song | Free Background Download

FREE Computer Background Download
FREE iPhone Lock Screen Download

The Job Song has been on repeat in my head this week. Tough lyrics but so much conviction. Trusting God is not something I'm good at. I rarely understand His ways until after the fact. I have way too many "Ooooooh that's what You were doing," moments for a girl who's been following Jesus since her tween years. But isn't that the beauty of faith? It's kind of ironic if you think about it. Faith is something learned, but you never really learn it fully. Beautifully ironic, is this grace thing. 

Anyways, BabyMo's nap time + creative bug resulted in some free goodies for you all today. I hope you like them and more importantly, I hope they are an encouraging reminder of God's grace for you today. 

How to Save | 
(Computer: Click photo to make bigger + right click + save to your computer + set as desktop)
(Phone: Hold finger on photo + save image + set as lock/home screen)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day

Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. // Today I feel like I'm reliving a painful season that birthed this song in my life. // Even though I see the comfort that has come from it, the raw parts of my heart would never relive it. // If you are struggling through this today, my heart bleeds for you and I'm so sorry. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Merry Christmas Music, From the Mo's

Starting Christmas music on October 1 is Morlet tradition.

Well, it's more like "Jules" tradition, because Mr. Mo can't seem to lose his grinch face until about October 31. 

Christmas music represents so much more to me than melodies and harmonies for a particular season. It represents memories. It's the nostalgia of childhood, the romance of my 20's and the glittering excitement firsts we get to share anew with our baby girl.

In high school I use to complain about the lack of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas morning to discover new music. With everyone creating and recreating old classics, 30 days just isn't enough time to listen to it all. So in 2006 I started a tradition of blasting Christmas music on October first.

From the halls of the girls' dorm to my West Hollywood apartment, we're on year seven of this glorious tradition.

I love waking up to friends texts and Facebook tags saying things like "Did you get your eggnog last night?" and "I'm listening to Michael Buble in honor of you."

Yup, it's awesome.

So here's to another year of the best genre of music there is!

What I'm Listening to This Season (continually being added to)

Winning in Worship Leading

What defines a "win" in worship?

As a worship leader, what allows me to sit back and think, yea, that went well. I think we hit the mark there. 

In other words, what is the standard? Or can there even be?

I use to believe the quality of worship couldn't be accurately judged because it was a matter of the heart and only God judges that. However, I am learning that while the idea contains truth, it doesn't make it entirely true. 

A leader is qualified by whether or not he/she has followers. If no one is following us, we may not be leading well. 

My exploration on this topic was initially sparked by a fellow blogger who stated: When you deal with subjective deliverables without defining the win in leading people into worship, a vacuum for immaturity grows.

I confess I am more excited and energized in worship leading when the congregation with singing and participating with me. I get discouraged when I feel as though I am performing because the voices aren't as loud. But who’s to say that people aren't worshipping in silence?

I do think that often times I have minimized the importance of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit in our worship services. Ultimately, our jobs, as worship leaders, are a mute point without Him moving and stirring the hearts' of the people. He turns hearts from hard rock stone to flesh that feels (Ez 36:26). Not us. It’s important for the team and people put that at the forefront of our minds.

As for defining a win, right now I think my answer would be, if people are singing and actively engaging in worship in some way, then that’s win. 

We don’t know their hearts, but I think the responsibility lies on the worship leader to guide their congregation in worship through truth and song. Bringing to light passages like Ephesians 4-5:20; teaching them the unity we all have in Christ and a way to encourage one another in the unity is through music. Through song. Through hearing the voices of brothers and sisters who are going through trials yet still singing praise to God because of the confidence in who He is and what He has done for us. 

And if we don’t have that confidence, we'll look across the room and see Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So, who we know are going through hell and back, still raising their voices to God. How can we not be encouraged by that?

Worship Leaders need to coach, with all humility and vulnerability, their congregations in the purpose of corporate singing in order to fight off immaturity and promote unity. 

It's possible and powerful to see a congregation worshipping, together, visibly. It just takes relationship, truth and a little push to get us there.

A worship leader is a guide, taking people to places they've never been. (Tweet?)

A worship leader leads a congregation along a journey of truth about what they're seeing, feeling, hearing and how to experience it fully.

A worship leader leads people to Jesus and if they see and experience Him, that's a win.

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What do you think? Whether you're a worship leader or a worshipper, what defines a "win" for you? When you walk away from a worship service, what makes you think yea, I was totally worshipping today.

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Are you reading this as a women in worship, or do you have women on your team? Come hang out with me and talk more on this topic and others like it in my Worship Coaching Program

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Hidden Seasons of Dirty Diapers & Our Legacy

Every time she wakes up I feel like she's grown just a little bit more. It's too much. It's like her birthday was just yesterday and she's graduating college tomorrow. Over exaggerate much Jules? Nah.

I once heard a woman say, "Don't rush the hidden seasons of motherhood. Your little ones represent more than dirty diapers. They represent your legacy." Man that's so profound, I thought.

I heard that before I became a mother.

Now, her words are on playback in my mind everyday. There is so much to be learned about motherhood and raising a baby girl. So much I don't know. So much I can't see.

I tried going back to work, just a couple hours a week, and realized today it's too soon. It's too early for my priorities to get jumbled. That will come, in time. I so badly don't want to lose myself, for her sake and for mine, but I'm not worried. Yet.

For now, I'm taking the advice of that sweet woman and basking in this hidden season. Just me and my babes.

What about you? How did you handle the early years of motherhood? Any advice? 

Friday, September 20, 2013

5 Lessons Church Planting Has (Gently) Taught Me

Last August, Tyson and I moved to Los Angeles. Like most people in this city, this isn't our home. Unlike most people, we weren't here to pursue fame, fortune, or a frat house. We weren't really quite sure what we specifically came here for, but we knew God provided money, time, and freedom to start a journey as church planters in this urban community.

In the past 365 days, our lives have shifted a colossal amount. From small(ish) town to big city, quite a few things have changed, some for the better and others, not so much. 

We drive less and walk more. We feel less convinced about political staunch and more convinced about the power of the people. We drink coffee amongst hipsters and business men instead of pastors and Bible studies. To most city people, we are "so young" to have a family. Whereas back home, we felt like late bloomers. 

And while the majority of visible change has happened on the surface of our lives, there is a deep and raw evolution happening in our hearts and souls. 

I was recently asked by a friend what I felt I was learning in this season of church planting and my response was,"I have no idea." 

"Look closer," she responded. "You might be surprised to find out how much God is actually teaching you.

So here is my closer look:

1. Vision is everything.
Without vision, people perish. True and tough. In any movement, there has to be a clear vision of where we're headed or we'll get lost, distracted and discouraged along the way. If a team is involved, vision is that much more vital to the unity and vibrancy of that group. The best way to do this? I have no idea yet.

2. A church can't be built on the talent of a few, but rather the sacrifice of many.
A pastor and a worship leader are necessary for church planting, until they aren't anymore. Meaning, if their families are the only ones who show up to church, that is not a church. It's a dinner party. Community needs people, of all different professions, personalities and passions, in order to thrive. I'm lucky to say our church has that.

3. You win some & you lose some.
Sometimes ideas we thought were genius, fell completely flat. And sometimes the impromptu dinner parties and Dodger games are our most effective community builders. 

4. Money is just a means to an end.
Not all, but most church planters we've encountered are learning good stewardship when it comes to finances. And by "good stewardship" I mean how to make a week of groceries last for two and how nifty thrift stores and Craigslist can be. There's something to be said for seasons, when it comes to money. This is a season, it is not the end. And a paycheck can't provide satisfaction.

5. There is no end result; just a journey that changes with time and growth.
I have no wisdom nor how-to's on how to grow a church, plant a church, or fundraise. But I do know one thing: God's hand of guidance is always upon those who seek Him, however the path may not look exactly like our crayon drawn road map. It's much more scary and beautiful.

We are not wise in this thing called "Church Planting." We feel rather inadequate actually. But we are living proof that God can use anyone, He can call anyone, and equip them for the task at hand.

Monday, September 16, 2013

An Open Letter to Celebrities Without Makeup

I don't know why we, the general public, gravitate towards different variations of the headline, "Your Favorite Stars Without Makeup," and then precede to make mental remarks to ourselves about your dark circles, the moles we didn't know you had, or your thinning eyelashes.

I've always wondered how those headlines and photo blogs affect you. Or if you even read them at all.

What's it like seeing your face in an exposed state for the public to see?

What's it like being expected to dress up everyday and never really measuring up to our ever changing expectations?

What it's like being, well, the average woman taking her kids to school or grocery shopping or a coffee break?

From a simple girl living in a one bedroom apartment in West Hollywood, I know I feel the pressure to be skinny; to lose my baby weight as fast as possible; to never let my hair be frizzy or plain and to always be wearing mascara and lipgloss. And no one takes pictures of me or even knows my name.

But here's a little secret: despite the negative connotations the press tries to make us feel for you, we sigh with great relief when we see those photos. 

Our lifestyles may not be the same (or even close to similar), but our womanhood is. (Tweet that!) You might have more access to treatments and spas, but deep down, our fears are the same. Our dreams level out somewhere. Our families go through the same changing seasons and hardships as yours. 

We feel less alone when we see your dark circles, your postpartum baby chub and your crows feet, though it's all none of our business really.

So thank you, for not being perfect and we're sorry those paparazzi are such a pain in the a**.


An Unmade Girl Living in LA

original image via

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where were you on Sept. 11th?

Where were you on September 11th? Everyone has their story. This is mine: 

I was 13 years old. 

We woke up to my mother frantically tuning the radio dial in our 26ft camping trailer we'd lived in for the past couple months. We were smack in the middle a house building project, my baby sister was 7 months old, and I had no idea what Al-qaeda was. I quickly found out and a whole new world of evil shattered another portion of my innocence. 

We didn't have a TV in the trailer. We didn't have much of anything. We were a bare minimum family for a while. 2 years kind of while. I wasn't even allowed to use my curling iron...for a teenage girl, that was just not acceptable. I got over it. Kind of. 

There's not a whole lot I remember about that day. 

I remember it was like a bad black and white movie. Playing all day. In slow motion. 
I remember crying, out of horror for the people in those buildings and in those planes, and out of fear for whatever might happen next. No one really knew. Anything could have happened. 

But when America woke up on September 11th, the world was just as broken and twisted as it was at 8:46AM. But now, now we were reminded of it. All of us. There was no ignoring the blatant evil that parading before our eyes. No, it was real and it staring us straight in the face. 

Now, 10 years later, evil still exists.

In some cases, worse than 10 years ago. But God...yes, even now He is still greater than this. He is still more powerful and He is still good, though it's ok to question. Even the people of the Bible questioned God's presence in the midst of evil and suffering. Here is the dialogue:

David's Questions & Accusations: Why oh Lord do you stand far off?, Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble? In his arrogance the wicked man hunts down the weak who are caught in the schemes he devises. He boasts of the cravings of his heart...his victims are crushed, they collapse, they fall under his strength. He says to himself, "God has forgotten [them]. He covers his face and never sees." {Psalm 10:1-11}

The Response: [But] You hear, oh Lord, the desire of the afflicted. You encourage them and listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more. {Psalm 10:16-18}

Let's read that again,

[But] You hear, oh Lord, the desire of the afflicted. You encourage them and listen to their cry, defending the fatherless and the oppressed, in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more. No more. No more. 

For all the injustice that happens in our world, it will come to an end. One day.

My heart swells for the families affected by September 11, 2001. I will be praying for you today. All day. There is nothing we can say to make your loss any less. But we are sorry. So, so, so very sorry.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Worship Without

Worship without compassion is robbery. (<<<Click to tweet the headlines)
It leaves us full and fat with spiritual things. It leaves us over stuffed and selfishly hoarding the message of peace and grace and love of God. Worship without compassion robs those around us from encountering God. 

It sets up a mirror in front of our faces and never moves. We see only the inward struggle and strife of our lives and never gain perspective on the reality of our surroundings. We become self-consumed, thinking only of ourselves and cut off from the world. 

It exploits the sacredness of the relationship between man and God, the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the moving of the Holy Spirit in and through His people because it means nothing if not coupled with redeeming and rebuilding the lives of the least, last, and lost. 

He rejects the worship of those who are not becoming measures of Himself to the world. If we are not acting as the Church, we cannot worship as the Church because they are one in the same. 

"I can't stand your religious meetings. I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions. I want nothing to do with your religion projects, your pretentious slogans and goals. I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes, your public relations and image making. I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music. When was the last time you sang to me?Do you know what I want? I want justice-oceans of it. I want fairness-rivers of it. That's what I want. That's all I want." [Amos 5:21-24]

"He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love kindness,and to walk humbly with your God?" [Micah 6:8]

The truth of who God is, what He has done, and who He has created us to be should stir in us a passion and gratitude and a spirit of worship, causing us to be mobilized in compassion towards the injustices of this world. 

Dear God, let this be so of me. 

I want to be Your hands and feet and eyes and ears to those hurting around me. I want to see all wrongs made right and all that is broken be made new. I want to see You more so that I may respond with greater effect. I want to lead people to meet You. I want them to encounter You. By Your truth I will passionately worship so that others can see You. 

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Symphony's Birth Story | Part 3 + Epilogue

Missed Part 1 and Part 2?

Since the early days of pregnancy, I'd wondered what life was like for my mom, before me. Who was she? Did she sing like me? Was she adventurous? What was her dating life like? How did she handle being so far away from her family? What did she dream of doing? How did she dream of changing the world?

It was sad for me to think that Symphony might never know the "Ty & Jules" before her. She'll always know us as "Mom & Dad."

So I had my mom tell me my own birth story months before. She'd shared bits and pieces of it over the years, but from start to finish, it was a weird mixture of identical and opposite to my own.

On a wintery Sunday in 1988, there laid a 23 year old girl, alone, in an East Coast hospital. 29+ hours of labor when her baby girl got stuck up against her pelvic bone and a C-section was in order.

Now, 25 years later, that girl was me. Except the fact that I was in a West Coast hospital, surrounded by the most important people in my life. But like my mother, modern medicine and the hand of God were making it possible for my baby girl to be minutes away from her first breath.

For that I am thankful.

You'll feel a little cold and then you won't feel anything at all, the lady anesthesiologist said. Ty was outside the operating room door because they wouldn't let him in while I was being prepped. I was more worried about him than I was about myself. C-sections didn't scare me. I was going to be okay. But he didn't know that. Why? Because I never prepped him for one.

That's right. I was so confident in my diet and exercising that I thought for sure nothing was going to get in the way of pushing this kiddo out. My factors were unexhausted however; muscles (check), stamina (check), flexibility (check), education (check). I never factored in my bone structure (damn).

They called him in, he grabbed my hand, and to be honest, I don't remember much after this.

It's all a blurry collage of blue scrubs, loud beeps and a ton of pressure. I mean a ton of pressure.

I remember Ty peeking over the curtain and marveling at my innards. Don't look at that! I yelled. Disgusting.

I remember him saying it was awesome, though his face said otherwise.

I remember hearing the doctors call out all their fancy tools like something straight out of Grey's Anatomy and then I remember hearing them talk over each other. Someone get down there and push. 

Awesome. I freaked. As much as a numb girl could. She's not going to make it. What if she doesn't make it. 

And then I heard it. The loudest, most excruciating and beautiful scream I would ever hear in my entire life. Even the doctors told us she holds the record for loudest newborn.

She was here.

Ty ran to the table where they were cleaning her up. Symphony, he sang. Symphony it's your Daddy.

Silence. And eyes wide open.

That's when I lost it. She knew him. And while it didn't happen as I dreamed, with me being her first sight, this might have been more perfect.

Her Daddy, her provider, her protector, the first man who will ever show her what real, pure and true love is was what she saw and heard first.

He wrapped her and brought her over so I could see her and through my tears I whispered, She's beautiful. And then, She looks more Mexican that I thought she was going to. Deep, I know.

But it's true, she's her Daddy's girl and I wouldn't have it any other way.

- - - - -

Symphony Mae, from the very beginning we knew you were meant for something great. You are a miracle to us and we'll never let you forget it. Your life has brought joy and hope and faith to so many people, some you will most likely never know.

God formed you and fashioned you to perfection, and while you'll question His handiwork one day, your Daddy and I hope to give you such a foundation that our faith will contagious to you.

He is good. He is faithful. He has created you for something great. And you, my little world changer, are already off to a great start.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Symphony's Birth Story | Part 2

^^^ My sister's face is priceless. The first few moments of seeing Sym's head.

No one could have prepared me for the ocean of emotions I felt that day. I'd dreamed of these moments for so long. What it would feel like to experience labor, the pushing, and its aftermath. That moment when I would push for the last time before my girl's wrinkled little body would slip through in perfection and I'd be the first thing she saw. Heard. Felt.

So I pushed. And pushed. And pushed with that image in mind.

I started pushing at midnight. My nurse was such a sweetie and had so much hope that I would be just fine. She guided each push while Ty cheered me on like a football coach in the last seconds of a victorious fourth quarter. 

Do you see her head?! The nurse exclaimed. 

She was coming. 

They gave me a mirror at one point so I could see her dark hair poking through and that fueled me to push all the more. Just a little bit more. A couple more. 

Here she comes! They said. A couple more big ones! 

Then I fell asleep. The time between contractions wasn't much but my eyes were barely open and my head felt like it was swirling in Alice's wonderland porthole. At the three hour mark they let me rest for 15 minutes, while my mom put a cool washcloth on my swelling red face and Ty mysteriously changed my socks. I woke up to his hand brushing my cheeks and hair. Babe, there's a chance she's not going to come out. We need to consider the possibility of a C-Section

Wait, what? No, I can do it. I can see her. Let me try one more time. 

Because her heart rate was steady as a rock, the doctors let me go until something happened. I wanted it that way.

So I pushed again. 

Don't worry baby girl, I thought, I'm going to get you out. I can't wait to see you. Hold you. Love you and kiss the giant nose you inherited from your Daddy. I can't wait to show you around this big beautiful world our God designed. It's just beautiful. Don't worry, I'm going to get you out. 

5AM came, marking hour five of pushing, and between the swelling and popping blood vessels, baby Mo hadn't moved any closer to crowning. 

The OB on call came in and said she believed my pelvic bone wasn't wiggling open any further and the baby's head was stuck up against it. She gave me the standard options of ways they could attempt to manipulate her out but Ty and I both knew if those didn't work, she'd be doubly banged up and a C-Section would happen anyways. 

I'll never forget the look in his eyes; the tears, the fear and worry when he said Baby, it's okay, you pushed so hard. I'm so proud of you. 

He leaned in to give me a kiss and I grabbed his neck with desperation. 

I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I knew it wasn't my fault, these things happen and all ten people in that room knew I tried my absolute hardest. But it was all I could think of to say. 

Then, in what felt like a flash, I was wheeled away and prepped for some major abdominal surgery. 

This was it. And the irony of it all? This is exactly how I was born.

...To be continued. // This is Part 2 of Symphony Mae's Birth Story. Missed Part 1? Click the link.

^^^Opinions, two-cents, questions and ramblings are welcome. And go above. Go ahead. Try it.

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