Thursday, September 29, 2016

Twenty Years in the Making (20) A Love Story

September 1996, a girl signed up for a weekend of change. Of course, she didn't see it coming. It was in the form of a fall "retreat", an "Extreme Retreat", to be exact. She signed up for embarrassing icebreakers, camp food, and a few days outside her comfort zone, but when she said YES, HE changed the course of her life. No exaggerations. No dramatics. Forever changed. Even 20 years later. Now, September 2016.

If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

The Saturday night of this Extreme Retreat, Bryan Leach (the youth pastor) stuck a piece of duct tape to the floor. It was the line in the sand, the before and after, the "if you choose to cross over this line, you are choosing to live an Extreme life for Jesus". 

At that point in my 14 year old life, I was being swallowed by middle school peer pressure. So many boyfriends. Smoking wherever I could sneak and not get caught. A group of friends that clearly didn't have my best interest in mind. School was wasting my time. I was 14 and none of these individually made me a horrible person, but inside my heart was groaning for something more. My grandparents introduced me to God's love when I was 4 or 5, and I knew that who I was choosing to become was grieving God's heart. 

I could feel it. I just knew. 

I don't remember the details, other than watching the reel of my present 14 year old life play through my mind. I knew that if I chose to cross that line, things were going to have to change. I would change.

My friends.

My habits.

My attitude. 

My reputation. 

I remember sitting on the floor at the retreat and weighing the cost. 

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. Revelation 3:20

It seemed that the weight of the world was sitting on my shoulders, but when I stood up and chose to cross over that line, I knew that no matter how tough life would be, I wasn't going at it alone. 

Here I am, He said. You're not alone, He said. I love you, He said.

He came inside my life and has never left. 20 years later. T W E N T Y. 

What did it look like? I was thinking about this. What did it look like after I crossed over that line and Bryan took a rubber stamp and pressed "EXTREME" onto my forehead. I went to school the following week and sat alone at lunch. I stopped smoking. The boyfriends and friends whom I had gotten close to, faded away as our interests became obviously different. 

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14

I started reading my bible every day. I started singing and worshipping every day. I was so hungry for more of God, to know Him and His word and His thoughts, I was obsessed. I would sing in the hallways of school. I would get off the bus and run straight into the piano room to worship for hours. Every other thing in life had felt like a substitute or a fake, but this, Jesus, the more I spent time with Him, the more I felt whole and the more I felt love. 

My best friend had a similar experience at the Extreme Retreat. When we got home, it was obvious we were both changed. We would get together daily and read our bibles. We would sing worship songs. We used the back of our bibles as a drum and sang until we couldn't sing anymore. We prayed together. We interceded for our school friends and pop culture together  We invited everyone we knew to come to church with us and a lot of them came.

As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Ephesians 4:1

In my little 14 year old heart, life made sense. My calling or my job, was to love God and love the lost. Plain and simple. 

It has been 20 years. This month, T W E N T Y years. My eyes are still wide and my heart is still full that God is in love with me and cared enough about me, to meet me at a silly retreat at the age of 14. And since then, the stories that I could tell you about His faithfulness could fill pages and  chapters and books. And I assure you, they will not stop. 

I started keeping a journal when I was 14, documenting my "new" life and all the things I felt. Now THAT has been humbling. Reading through your old journals! Yikes! In some ways, my maturity at times speaks to me now. In other ways, I shake my head and pray my children never make the same stupid mistakes that I did. Jesus!

But, God. 20 years later and I still say, but God. My years have not all been without trial and tribulation. It hasn't been "easy" since I chose Jesus, nor have I been exempt from suffering. But, I have never, ever, regretted my decision to ask Him to save me from myself and come live inside my heart. 

I have never walked through life alone. 
I have been loved every minute of every day. 

Cheers to walking out the rest of this life with Jesus! There is no substitution. There is no other way. He IS love and our lives are "Extreme" when we say yes to Him.

If you don't know Him like this, ask! It's as simple as asking. He's waiting for you and has loved you since before you were born. He thinks thoughts of you that outnumber the grains of sand. I'd love to talk with you if there was a tug at your heart as you read what God did for me. He would love to fill you too.


Friday, September 9, 2016

Deep Roots and Freedom

Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Gal 5:1

This is what we are supposed to do AFTER the realization that Christ has set us free, for freedom sake.

Sounds like a warning. Like, get ready because the winds may blow hard, so get ready.

Don't go back to how it was, again, with that collar around your neck.

It wasn't fashionable. It wasn't comfortable.


So, stand firm.

I'm standing. Are you standing?

Wait, not good enough. Stand FIRM.

Jesus, thank you for roots that go deep. Thank you for holding me when the winds blow so hard, my body simply can't stand firm.

Thank you for freedom. Just like in the garden, shameless freedom to be me.

YES yes yes. You get to be you and I get to be me. And I get to love you because you look like Him.

So, stand firm. You got this.

Freedom tastes so good. Let's spend time there today.


Monday, January 18, 2016

A word.

I dabbled in the eyeshadow while he whispered in my ear. I stood at this dresser, same as days past, and He spoke. 

The year of ME. This year. You've cared for your children. You've prayed over your husband. You've interceded for friends and you've loved on your family. 

And you will continue to do so. 

But this, this is the year of ME. 

Because when you look more like yourself you look more like me, he said. 

It's the year to cast the rod. It's a year to make dreams goals. It's a year of motion, not suggestion, for the wildest desires, closest to your heart. 

Because when you look more like yourself, you look more like me, he said. 

Who are 

Because you've changed. And he loves you. He's ready to run with you...

In 2016. 

Monday, January 11, 2016


To sit. To just sit here in peace. To sit here in peace and know that I'm ok. I am ok and more than that,

I am my beloved's and he is mine.

There is nothing left. Nothing missing. Completely liberated. Victorious. 

I smile as I sit. The chaos around, the buzz of drama in the war torn world, but him. But, Him. 

It's not a naive escape or a turning of the head. It's a deliberate trust. A gift of faith to trust simply and live boldly. 

Reset. Every day. Reset. Every hour. Minute. 

I am my beloved's and he is mine. 

Get up. Work work work. Days 1 through 6. And then 7. Rest. Take his rest. 

He is mine.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015


And we are all found,

Seeking or sleeping, 

He finds us. 

Monday, September 14, 2015

Just Live

In the promise land. 

Promised land. 

Living in the promised land...

Taken care of. Fed. Dressed. Protected. Loved. 

Your back, it's been gotten. 

The essence of doubt and self hatred blew away with the wind of change and that change took place a long long time ago.

Joy days for days. Fully guarded on each side. Nothing penetrating can hit the mark of the heart. 

You weren't made for that. New nature runs through the veins. Purchased. Paid for. Worthy. 

You. Are. Worthy. 

A replica. An original replica, walking round creating images of the artist. Everyone needs a piece of you. Your message carries weight. 

Freak out. FREAK OUT. 

This is a big deal. Defy the odds. Defy the news. The media. The pessimists. 

Unknowns just got a little less scary. Watch fear take a back seat. Actually, leave the car. Perfect love drove fear away so you could be you. 

Perfect. Blameless. Holy. 

Life in the promise land. 

Welcome. You are welcome. 

Here's your ticket. Spread the word. Admission will cost you your life. Your ugly messed up, control filled life, traded for perfect freedom. At every corner. 

Freedom. To be free and live. 

Really live. 

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Father's Day!

Family makes the world go 'round! In case you haven't heard, here's the word...

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

The Process

A mess. 

Not what you had hoped for. 

Less than beautiful. Or so you think. 

I've been looking for Him through this renovation. You know He is always speaking. And I hadn't heard a thing. 

I've actually been down. Really, really down. 

But I keep looking for Him, like really looking, and I finally heard something today. 

If it wasn't for the mess, there would be no room for transformation. No before and after. No story to show off what He's done. 

And then I immediately was brought to the cross. 

The cross. 

The ultimate disgrace and humiliation, turned upside down inside out, until the whole world was saved in a moment. His big mess, to the eyes of the world, was saving their lives. 

And theirs. And theirs. And theirs. 

We were born into messes. We lack things. Not stuff "things", but things in our character or personalities or giftings. 

And then, when you let Him, He renovates your heart and you feel the process. It's painful sometimes. But the process isn't complete until you're on the other side. 

Side Beautiful. 

Side Grace. 

Side Hope. 

Side New. 

Somewhere in the last days, I had lost sight of the end result and been overwhelmed with the process. 

Hallelujah! See again! Thank again! 

I'm praying that we have strength to seek Him when we don't hear and thank Him throughout the mess. 

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Dad is 61!!!

Today is the day! We celebrate 61 years of my dad's life. 

He and I, we go way back. I can remember him teaching me how to ride my bike. It was the bike that he surprised me with Christmas morning. I slept on the couch and it was there when I opened my eyes. He held on to the back of my seat until I slowly got the hang of balance. 

And then there were all the times we went out to eat together. It feels like I was 5 when he taught me to go to the counter and politely ask for what I need. Usually extra sweet and sour sauce for my fries. 

We mowed the grass together for hours every week, me on the riding tractor and him trimming. He taught me that, "Whatever you do, do it well".

My dad spent his middle aged working years saving for me to go to college. He always told me how important that was, and after high school graduation, he did what he said he would do. He sent me to college, and I got out debt free. What a gift!

I remember microwaved dinners, nothing fancy, but we ate them together on TV trays. I remember beach trips every summer and of course, icecream each night. I remember him checking my homework at night and being proud after parent teacher conferences. 

We were buddies. I still marvel at his sacrifices. 

And the story I keep coming back to took place in the mornings. He worked the night shift and I would sleep over at grandma and grandpas. I knew what time to be ready for him to swing by on his way home from work, so he could take me to school. But, I just couldn't wait to see him. 

We bought walkie-talkies. 

I could talk with him from a couple miles away and know that Dad was going to be there soon to pick me up. Every morning. Dad and I talking on walkie-talkies in Grandma's living room. 

Pondering the past points to the present. Watching Dad with my children reminds me of all the sweet times we shared. He has such a big heart. I have to remind him the kids need consequences sometimes! ;)

Happy birthday Dad! Your 61 years have taught me to love big. You are strong and steadfast, and I admire that in you. 

I love you! Cheers to many, many more!

Friday, May 1, 2015