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. 

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

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