Little “g” gods

I’m hours away from heading to camp with 184 middle school and high schoolers. I love camp. I’m excited for this year and so thankful at how different it is than last. God’s grace is evident in my life. Last year I had some major flops at camp per my own lack of strength and desire for control. This year is completely different (I mean I’m blogging so that has to count for something).

The last month has been a crazy whirlwind in my life and heart. Friends with surgery, church transitions, friends with broken heart, personal growth and struggle. It’s just been an tiring month. But in the midst of all the crazy I have been convicted of a truth.

Our response reveals our g/God.

In the last month I have seen it go both ways for me. 

But it’s so true that our response reveals our g/God. When chaos, life and opportunity are before us we will turn to the world for solace and celebration or we will turn to God and His word. 

Here are snippets of real life convos people around me and I have had this month.

Bad news – “I’m going to the gym” – control over our body has become our god

Bad news – “I bought a 6 pack” – substance has become our god

Bad news – “I want a DP” – food has become our god.

Bad news – “we need to fast and pray” – God remains our God

Bad news – “God’s not stupid keep trusting Him” – God remains our God

Good news – “let’s eat to celebrate” – food

Good news – “Thank you God for providing” – God remains our God

Don’t get me wrong I think there is a BIG difference between coping mechanisms and things becoming idols in our life. And I’m all for coping mechanisms.

But a coping mechanism helps us process things as we walk along a path with God. It doesn’t replace or push down God in our process. 

Sometimes a run or a walk is just what you need to clear your mind while you talk with God and ask Him what’s next.

Remember how I said that I have seen this both ways in my life this past month? I remind you of that so you know I’m really writing to myself. 

Exodus 20:3
“You shall have no other gods before me” 

Ouchhhhhhh. Camp always brings with it ample opportunity to practice responding in the correct way. So that is my prayer for myself personally this week that each day when an opportunity comes my way that I will respond by putting my hope and focus in God and not in what my flesh would turn to.

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Little “g” gods

Tale of 2 Hearts – A wedding series

Last night we kicked off wedding season. My sweet friends Tyler and Jessica tied the knot last night at a quaint/beautiful outdoor wedding. It was beautiful! As my table and I sat there sipping our drinks out of mason jars one of them mentioned that I should use the month of June to blog about little wedding lessons – seeing as how this is the first of 4 weddings this month (and there is one in July).

So here is our new Monday night series – Tale of 2 Hearts.

Lesson 1 – DANCE

Dances are receptions go one of 2 ways.

Option 1 – awkward middle school dance

Option 2 – awkward club dance meets “their grandparents are here” dance which equals – everyone flail around and try not to be the booty shaking girl.

There are few things I have found in life that are as embarrassing as dancing at a wedding – but yet it’s still one of my favorite parts. I love watching a bride and groom, newly married stepping onto that floor together, embracing the awkward.

No matter what – I love the dancing reception of a wedding. It’s that moment of carefree – live in the MOMENT, flail your arms about part of the night. It’s that part of the night when you know people are watching – but you choose to care less about them and more about having fun. So you flail your arms about like you can’t count, sway your hips like they need replaced and move your feet like you know what you’re doing —- and if you’re really talented you do all 3 at one time.

And I realized last night while watching the groom “break it down now” with his new bride – that I miss a lot of moments worrying about what others think. I miss my chance to live in the moment, embarrass myself, try something new because I can feel the eyes from the sidelines judging my flailing arms and off-beat hips.

So over the next few crazy, jam-packed, no free day weeks I’m going to be intentionally about living in the moment, not sitting there on the sidelines watching but enjoying and recognizing the moments. So if you see my arms flailing – don’t worry, I haven’t lost it, I’m just learning to experience the moment.

Dance like nobody’s watching

 

 

 

out of town friends!

Dancing friends

Tale of 2 Hearts – A wedding series

He’ll Break Your Heart

To my sweet girls,

He’s going to break your heart. I know you don’t think so because he’s perfect. He’s all you dreamed of ever wanting. He texts you good morning and texts you goodnight. He calls you beautiful. He says he’ll never leave you, never hurt you, never cheat on you, never _________.

But he’ll break your heart 😦

Not because he’s a bad guy (although some of you pick awful boyfriends, seriously get rid of those jokers!).

Not because you’re not good enough or pretty enough – although it will feel like that at first.

He’ll break your heart because your heart isn’t his and yet you throw it at him like he’s your forever.

Some of you will hear this and it will be like you have ear plugs in. I was like that once too.

But here’s what I’ve learned, and what I’ve seen, and what I hear…..

Over the last 2 weeks several of my girls had their hearts broken, a few of you got boyfriends and others of you developed friends with benefits. But through all the conversations I keep hearing

“He said he wouldn’t do this”

“I thought he was a great guy”

“We’re in love”

“I’m not good enough – that’s why he didn’t want me”

“We don’t need a title”

And it makes my heart hurt for you. Because each of you are so lovely, so beautiful, so talented that guys really should have to work their butts off, pass a test and interview with your dad and I before going out with you. I remember what it was like to be in MS and HS and the be the one without a boyfriend.

To be the one that was going to wait for the boy who met “Jody Code” – and at times it sucked – because it meant you went to prom alone; it meant your first flowers were from your brother in law; it meant you hung with your family at night (my siblings and I loved each other though) But you know what- I wouldn’t redo it.

There were so many times when I thought I liked someone. When they made me laugh. They called me beautiful. They bought me Dr. Pepper. They asked me to a dance – and I said no.

It would have been easy to say yes. We would have had fun. It would have lasted for a few months. They would have said they loved me. I would have felt like I had to say it back. Then they would have broken my heart.

I’m not against you guys having boyfriends. I have even had a few 😉 BUT what I am “against” is when we give boys too much of our hearts too soon. And then our hearts get broken. Drama fills our lives. Friends choose slides. They move on. Our hearts break all over again.

Unnecessary pain.

I think part of what it means to be beautiful is knowing how to be yourself on your own. Without a guy telling you how hot you are; without someone texting you each morning. To be beautiful is to know we are lovely in those lonely moments. It’s to believe God has a plan for us when we get left out of group dates. Beautiful is having a standard and a code for our lives that gives us the courage to say no to mediocre relationships and wait for the best relationship.

The Lord is not ignoring the longings and desires of your heart. He know that some of you want to grow up and be moms. He knows most of you want relationships. He knows our desire as girls to be beautiful and to hear that from others. But girls – He is more than enough! He is the protector of our hearts. He is the creator of our bodies. He is the author of our story. He is the one. The one who gets to hold our heart.

There is a time and a place when you’ll fall in love. There is a correct time to talk about getting married. There is a time when you’ll open up in a relationship and be vulnerable. But let it be the right time. Don’t rush. Don’t hurry through a relationship because the world says it should look a certain way, you should be doing certain things, etc. Be patient. Guard your heart. And at the right time, with the right guy – when God is truly at the center – let God guide your relationship. PLEASE don’t rush it. Because when we rush; when we give early access; when we bare all because “we are in love” – our hearts break.

For now – get to know who God is and what He says about you. Discover your beauty.

Psalm 139:14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;

your works are wonderful,

I know that full well.

He’ll Break Your Heart

Duck Faces, Cucas and Summer

To my sweet, beautiful girls:

I’ve struggled with this post since….well since the weather got warm. I don’t want to be all up in your business telling you how to dress and how to act, but I’m about to step on your bare, pedicured toes.

You see I have wrestled with whether it’s my place to say anything; whether you will receive it; whether I have enough skin in the game that I can speak without you being mad forever; whether it’s really that big of a deal. And here’s where I am.

As your youth leader who loves you – it is my place to say something.

Whether you receive it or not – is your choice, but I still need to say something.

Hopefully by now you know I love you, and if you don’t, I do – so out of love to you I will say something.

It really is THAT big of a deal – and the more I ignore it and try to convince myself it’s not, the more I believe it’s a big deal.

I love Instagram – it’s one of my favorite apps. I get to see the cutest picture updates of my sweet little nephew. I get to see sunsets and sunrises from my friends on the coasts. I get to laugh at all the funny pictures and quotes you like. And those filters are like magic for bad hair days and breakouts! Instagram is great….until you ruin my feed.

For a long time I wouldn’t follow any of you on instagram because I knew we would have to have this conversation right here. But it’s not just instagram anymore; it’s facebook, instagram, twit pics. Your duck faces, cuca shots and summer poses are splattered on social media for all to see.

I think your duck faces are funny. If you make that face; I will laugh at you because I have never heard of a duck described as sexy – and most people have caught on to how ridiculous that face is. It’s mainly a joke now, and one I can laugh at.

But then….there are all your pictures of you “sun tanning”. You know the ones I mean. If you haven’t posted one, you’ve seen one. The string bikinis out on the deck getting kissed by the sun, the wannabe model poses in the mirror showing off your new crop top (no tank top needed, it’s hot outside) and then the newest pose of the year – the cuca shot.

Now granted I’m sure you don’t mean to show the world a straight shot of your cuca – no way! You just want to show them your cute shorts (which look shorter than they are btw when you take an aerial view) or your cute pedicured toes, or how strong your legs are getting. But what you are actually showing me is 80% of your leg, from a view that will make it look lean and skinny (hello that’s why we always take pics from up top….I’m guilty as charged too) and well you have to show your shorts so you don’t look naked, but then it’s a cuca shot.

I get wanting to show off an accomplishment. I make my roommates tell me how strong I’m getting every time I do a good job working out. I make them feel my quads and tell me how strong I am. We all want that affirmation that we look good, are making progress or can still rock our swimsuit from last year.

But what are we really saying about ourselves? 

I have thoughts and what I think are answers to this question – but I don’t wanna soapbox at your too long.

I want you to know though that you are beautiful and no amount of “likes” “dang gurl” “sexy” or any other affirmative comment will change how you truly feel about yourself. Your true worth does not come from people.

You are beautiful, because God created you that way. But He is more concerned with your heart and who you are inside. I wonder how our relationship with God would increase if we spent as much time talking to Him as we did retaking our pictures until they were just right. And that’s not just directed towards you, but myself as well!

You are beautiful, with your clothes on. I want you to strive to be beautiful this summer. Show off that beauty in the way you serve others. Show your beauty by the way you smile at strangers and change their day. Be bold with your beauty by carrying/dressing yourself in a way that magnifies who you are not how you look.

I love you girls. You make my job fun. You keep me on my toes. You make me laugh. We experience life together. But it’s my challenge for you and for myself that this summer we truly strive for beautiful. Let’s redefine beauty for ourselves this summer to look more like what God talks about and less like cuca shots, booty shorts and cleavage.

Becoming Beautiful Lesson 1: Duck faces are for fun and your heart is for real

 1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.”

Duck Faces, Cucas and Summer

Fix

We get so caught up in wanting to fix things. People’s bad choices. Broken relationships. The weed eater. We give advice on how to handle conflict. Fix. Fix. Fix. If it’s broken – we want to fix it. If it isn’t broken – we want to fix it before it becomes broken.

I am that person. I like to fix. And then this week I was reminded of a simply truth. I was getting ready for our service tonight – we are talking about our lives as worship and this verse has been all over my life….

Romans 12:1-2 MSG “So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, FIX your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”

We have to FIX our attention on Him. He is the one who gets to fix things. He knows how. He’s good at it. His time is perfect although it rarely aligns in ours.

Fix our attention on Him – so he can change us from the inside out. I think that’s what worship looks like. We fix our lives, attentions, problems, gripes, cheers on Him and allow him to work on us.

So today I’m going to take a break from trying to fix all the broken around me and I’m going to fix my attention on Him. Everything else will fall into place.

 

Fix

Cancer, Car wrecks and Funerals

5 years ago tomorrow.

I sat in the back of a church on a wooden pew watching as people mourned the death of a friend, a teammate, a 19 year old whose life was gone in the flash of a crash.

Death rarely makes sense, but it’s so much easier for the heart to process when the struggle has been long and the person old enough to have “lived a full life”. There were so many hurt, confused, angry people in that church.

I sat in the back with my mom, nervous for my team. Worried about her parents. Sad for her being gone. Watching.

My mom and I slipped out quickly to drive 30 minutes so a doctor could remove melanoma from my stomach. The timing of that week could not have sucked more. A diagnosis and a crash on the same day. A funeral and a surgery on the same day. It was too much to handle. Yet, God’s grace and mercy covered that week like a beautiful security blanket. While my heart raced and my soul cried, He was present.

This past Friday – the 5 year mark of her death and my diagnosis – I ran into her family in Branson, MO. It’s one of the few moments in my life when I knew God had orchestrated an appointment. My role 5 years ago, was the same role I was asked to play this week – love, support, offer hope. We had a great conversation, exchanged years worth of hugs and discussed exciting things for all of our futures.

Offering hope doesn’t mean we have to bring up past hurts and remind people of dire situations they are in – they know it. Offering hope quietly acknowledges that we all come from painful places and encourages you to press on towards life – even when that means you are fighting your way through. Hope keeps pressing. Hope clings to the promise that new and good will come. Hope is not always stated; sometimes it’s just felt.

5 years seems so long and yet so short. I’m so thankful for God’s healing over my body, His strength in my weakest moments and His offer of hope.

Psalm 121:1-2

I lift up my eyes to the hills –

where does my help come from?

My help comes from the Lord,

the Maker of heaven and earth.

 

Cancer, Car wrecks and Funerals

Facing Truth

This week we are wrapping up a series with our students on the life of David. You can’t talk about the life of David without talking about his moral slip and rendezvous with another man’s lady, Bathsheba.

David messed up. He wasn’t where he was supposed to be and he slipped. It’s so easy to judge David. It’s so easy to peg him as a cheater, a murderer, someone who abused his power, someone who let his sin get the best of him. But then you read verse 13…..

2 Samuel 12:13 “Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.””

David had to face the truth. And he did with courage and honesty.

God turned a broken marriage, a hurtful, sad slip into something beautiful.

I’m constantly reminded that God works through broken people and situations. He is a master of making broken work again, turning shattered into art, turning hurts into compassions. He is a master of dealing with our hearts.

When David owned up to his sin, without excuse, He switched his perspective from himself to looking at Jesus.

How many moment in my life have I hid my sin, ignored the pleas from friends to do better, and focused on myself instead of looking to Jesus.

David faced the truth. How powerful that could be in our lives.

I’m challenging myself to live life facing truth starting today. No more excuses, no more pretending attitudes are not an indication of deeper heart issues….just facing truth.

Facing Truth