Monday, November 9, 2015

MRIs, Piercings, and Initiative (because Sarah can't alliterate like Josh)

"You told me to go back to the I have." - Inigo Montoya

The actual beginning of this story was close to 5 months ago. I was playing basketball against a bunch of campers every week while I spent a month working at Lost Canyon. The last week I played, I'm pretty sure I injured myself. In fact, I self-diagnosed with the help of my B.A. in English Literature, and I believe I knocked my pelvis out of whack and now it's pinching a nerve. I know, very technical and acute. Anyway, I've dubbed this "Jacob Hip Syndrome" (please refer to Genesis 32 if you don't understand this joke - it's hilarious, believe me).

So for basically 5 months, I've been like Kronk from The Emperor's New Groove with a little angel on my shoulder saying, "Go to the doctor. Their job is to help you," and a little devil saying, "Don't go. They're scary and want your blood." Also, I didn't want to be an adult and make my own appointments because that is hard and a lot of responsibility. But my mom, Bryn, Jamie, my dad, and everyone who was exposed to me complaining for MONTHS was like, "Go to the doctor because they can help you and you're being annoying." Just kidding. None of them said the last part because they are the best humans but I think they were thinking it. Or maybe I was just thinking it.


Four weeks ago, I finally made the appointment. Last Monday, I finally went. It was actually fine - the lady who takes all the notes on the little computer notebook has a friend from college who works for Young Life (smallest world ever) and the lady who was my doctor was nice even though she still made me wear paper clothes. Haha. So I told her about my hip, and she was slightly concerned that I had experienced numbness for 2-3 months (PAUSE: right now, you might be saying, "Sarah, what about the 5 months you said at the beginning of this post," and I'm saying, "Is lying to a doctor about myself a federal crime???") and so she ordered an MRI.

Last Friday I had my MRI. Now, there are two important things to know about this: 1) I have an ear piercing I can't get out on my own and 2) I am a stomach breather. So I had to go to a piercing place and get my earring out and then later I got yelled at in the MRI because I was "moving my stomach too much" - to which I wanted to respond, "Look, I can either breathe normally or thrash around all panicky because I am STUFFED INTO A TINY TUBE," but I remained calm and exited the MRI with dignity.

Friday afternoon I went back to the piercing place to get my earring put back in my ear and for them to help me put my nose piercing back in because I am bad at it. This guy Noah takes me back to one of the sterile rooms, and we started talking while he put my earring back in. He asked me what I did so I told him about Young Life. He told me he wasn't a Christian, but he was cool with me being one. Then he told me he thought the Pope was a neat guy and quoted Gandhi: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." Then he proceeded to have to basically repierce my nose with a blunt object which put a bit of a damper on my new friendship with Noah, BUT Friday ended with my MRI complete, my piercings back where they belong, and a lot of thoughts swirling around in my head.

First, this whole deal with my hip has been a long process because of me. I've taken my sweet time getting it looked at it, and it's just gotten more painful the longer I wait. While we were at College Weekend at Lost Canyon a couple of weeks ago, the speaker - Tank - said this: "Good relationships require someone to take the initiative. Healthy relationships require response." I have been so slow to take initiative in taking care of my own body. I've told myself over and over that it will be fine, I'll get better on my own or I'll just deal with the uncomfortableness because I'd rather other people didn't get involved. Basically, I've been operating under this mindset that I'll take care of it on my own and/or just suffer. Haha. I am the worst. But it got me to thinking: I am so so so grateful Jesus didn't have the same mindset with us. Praise God He took the initiative with our sin condition and saved us. It's like He made the appointment, drove me to the doctor's office, and filled out all of the medical history paperwork for me. Now, all I have to do is answer when my name is called: "Sarah? We're ready for you."

What stops me from responding so often in my life? Jesus has paved the way for me. And it's not like that road is unicorns and daisies from here on out - there are still MRIs, physical therapy appointments, etc. But He got the ball rolling. He took the initiative and made the opportunity to be with Him a possibility for us.

Second, why do I complain about things I am not willing to fix in my life? For real. I whined about my hip for months before I actually scheduled an appointment. I wasn't willing to do anything to fix something that hurt. I didn't want to be a part of the solution. I didn't want to put forth any effort. How dumb is that? And now that I've actually taken a step forward with this situation, I'm starting to realize there are a lot of places in my life that I've been asking God to take some action and change me, but I haven't been willing to join with Him in it. I've been treating Him like a genie while I've been totally unwilling to let go of my own will and allow Him to transform me. In the wise words of Elsa, it's time for me to...Let. It. Go.

And finally, that quote by Gandhi fills me with this weird, deep sorrow. I feel like, "Dangit. What have we done? What have I done?" I am so drawn to Jesus, and I want everyone to see Him and know Him for who He truly is, but a lot of the time I'm not very good at being like Christ. But how incredible is it that a random piercing guy who really isn't that hot to trot on Christians realizes that Jesus rocks. How cool must a guy be to continually stand out to people even though the people who claim to know Him misrepresent Him often? I'm disappointed that time after time I get in the way of people truly experiencing Jesus. I cloud the most vibrant personality I've ever known.

But I also don't think being an effective follower of Christ is impossible because this is where the fruits of the Spirit come in, I think. If I let go of my own agenda, if I respond to Jesus' initiative in my life, if I stop trying to force myself to be "a better Christian" and instead embrace Christ for all that He is, allowing His Spirit to fill me up, I think maybe I won't get in the way of His work so often. In fact, I think people might start to see Christ in me. They might see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control spilling out of my life and understand who Jesus is better than they did before they knew me. Like John the Baptist said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." Fill me up, Jesus. Empty me of myself so that when people look at me and interact with me, they might experience You fully.

There's a song by the JJ Weeks Band and the chorus goes: "Let them see You in me, let them hear You when I speak, let them feel You when I sing, let them see You, just let them see You in me." This is my prayer. And how cool is it that God is teaching me all of these things in the midst of MRIs and ear piercings? He's so creative. Lord, help me never lose my wonder!


Monday, October 26, 2015

Tijuana, Trust, and Tandem Skydiving

I'm not sure how it happened, but I'm not sure how most things happen in my life. One moment the roommates and I are driving home talking about adventure and doing crazy things and then I blink. Now Noah and I are receiving confirmation numbers for skydiving Tijuana.

We were going out of town for a month and we knew we would be in San Diego for the fourth of July. We are proud Americans, we bleed stripes and cry stars, and we really wanted to do something that embodies everything this great Nation stands for. What is America? Freedom. What is the animal that represents America? The great bald eagle. What do bald eagles do? Fly. Better yet, they soar. So we are going to become bald eagles and fly out of the land of the brave and home of the free and soar back into freedom. We're not dramatic. We're realistic. And we take over the top dramatic ideas and turn them into reality. We at least try to.

I'll be honest, it wasn't quite skydiving Tijuana. But did we stay at a hotel where we could see Tijuana? Most definitely. Did Noah go for a run and almost go into Mexico without his passport? Absolutely. We were going to tip toe on that fine line, blur it if we have to and soar into American freedom. It was exciting and we felt as if this would be the greatest tribute we could do for our homeland and do something worthy of citizenship. We grew anxious as we approached our jump off time. We were scheduled for 8am on Saturday morning, July 4th, 2015. We would be the first jumpers of the day. Perfect.

The night before, I decided it would be the best time to do some research on the place. I googled Pacific Coast Skydiving reviews to see what I could find. Yelp came up so I clicked, read, scrolled - the whole nine yards. It turns out, John is the man. He's the go to guy in the skydiving world. His last name is also Doe. If you don't know, John (Jane) Doe are the names used for people whose identity can't be placed or if their name can't be released due to law constraints.

All these five star reviews started feeling a little phony with Mr. Doe peppered throughout the page. If you google search "Pacific coast skydiving" and click images, scroll to the fifth row you will see an ambulance surrounded by smiling, soon-to-be victims. I have been skydiving before so I couldn't show my fear to Noah because it was his first time and I was an expert. I held my skepticism in. I figured if this place was a fraud, we would show up to an abandoned airfield and lose out on some money that we would get back through harassment via phone calls or by finding a second job for Noah, a first job for me.

Abandoned airfield is not far off from the truth.

We roll up to this gated airfield and with this old keypad on the left. The morning ocean fog was heavy so it added to the eerie-ness of the place. We punched in this code and the gate squealed open. We drive by a few hangers and rolled upon this:

A thousand year old sign.

We soon are greeted by a John (Doe) and I'm relieved there is a John and this place is open for business. We fill out some paper work, sign our death certificates, and get suited up to soar. The morning fog delayed us a few hours as it was deemed unsafe to soar in. While we waited we watched grown men try to fit themselves in those 5 gallon plastic storage bins they pulled the parachutes from. One guy was probably 6'6" and 220. They did this for about an hour and these were the professionals who were going to take us up. Fast forward to jump time, that 6'6" man is a pilot and would be flying us up. We asked him if he became a pilot because women love pilots and beards (he had a righteous one) and he said no. He became a pilot because he couldn't pass college.

These guys were actually really cool and were in fact, professionals. They just really enjoyed themselves and didn't take things too seriously. Noah and I fit right in. John Doe ended up being the guy I would be attached to and Noah would jump with the owner of Pacific Coast Skydiving. The 6'6" college drop out was one of their best pilots. We were jumping with the A-team, the varsity squad of the air.

While we were still in the plane, John would push me up to the window or lean me out of the wide open side door to show me this or that. I felt like I was at the zoo with my dad when I was little - at an age that is old enough to want to look at the animals on my own cause I was a big kid, embarrassed that my dad had to help me but young enough to be okay with it cause I wouldn't be able to see the animals on my own. They flew us right over the boarder of Mexico, exactly what we wanted. Then after about ten minutes, I hear John say "Oh *bad word*! Put your goggles on!" So I did and Noah recalls it looking like we leaned too far to the left and fell out of the airplane. We did some back flips and then leveled out, belly flopping onto the world. He pulled my arms back, put them against my side and we flew head first straight down to earth. I felt like I was apart of Matthew McConaughey's squad from Reign of Fire, soaring with dragons and saving the world from these beasts. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, you should need to watch this movie. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life (skydiving not watching Reign of Fire). We did flips, turns, and lawn darted at terminal velocity.

I think being a Christian is a lot like going tandem sky diving with Jesus.

The reason my experience went so well was because I trusted the guy. Yeah sure, at first I didn't 100% but as I hung out with him waiting for our jump time, I grew to trust him. I realized he is a professional and wouldn't be doing something that would put him in danger and in a position to not be able to provide for his family. John Doe said sometimes, people panic and flail mid flight. This can be very dangerous. They could buck and head butt John knocking him unconscious. This is worst case scenario but it can happen. John said if you want the best sky diving experience, I had to relax and trust him. I listened to every word he said from start to finish. Glasses on, fall out, arms back, legs stretched straight - everything. I listened and responded. My obedience to his instruction made my soaring into freedom the best and I didn't have to do anything but listen. John Doe did all the hard work. He went through the hours of training necessary to tandem skydive and jumped over 13,000 times out of an airplane so he could take me once.

Jesus went through a whole lot so He could give me life and life to the full. He suffered, laughed, wept, hurt, ate, and slept. He became a man and dwelt among us so we could have the best experience on this earth. He did this so one day I could soar into true freedom. I have to trust Him though. I have a really hard time with that. I flail, kick, and head butt Jesus when it comes to certain parts of my life. I'm always trying to figure out what I should do for work and don't trust Jesus when He says God takes care of the birds of the sky so why wouldn't He take care of me? When it comes to relationships, I always try to take control and it usually doesn't go the way I want it to. This is really difficult for me as I'm 24 and everyone around me is getting married and having kids. I have plans and they aren't going my way and I begin to panic. Then I blame God and I don't hear from Him.  Probably because I knocked Him unconscious when I freaked out earlier about what I should do with my life.

I don't trust God all of the time but if I listened to Him, my life would be that abundant life He promises us. I seek for peace in different parts of my life but peace comes from trust, not from doing. I found peace once I fully trusted John and I will find peace once I fully trust Jesus. I may not trust Him 100% right now but the more I spend time with Him, I'm sure I'll learn to do so.

in His grip,


Monday, October 12, 2015

Of the Spirit

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." Galatians 5:22.

Of. The. Spirit.

I feel as if this little prepositional phrase is slightly important. Or, actually, I think it's the key to this whole verse.

Let's consider first what this statement does NOT say. 

It does not say "of myself." It does not say "of my own doing." It does not - in any way - include anything about ME. Or YOU, in fact. It says "of the Spirit." 

This is radical. Let's consider what this does mean.

It means that this fruit - this list of qualities - comes from the Spirit, God Himself. The Lord does not expect me to conjure up these fruits on my own. He doesn't expect kindness, patience, self-control, etc. to pop up in my life like a Jack-in-the-Box. Indeed, it seems to me here that God is setting out a paradigm of partnership: the Spirit's work + the offering of our life (take a look at Galatians 5:24!)  = F R U I T.

As I'm writing this, I'm starting to understand what my issue with the fruits has always been:

They're not about me.


I am selfish.


I like to be the one who gets the glory of success. Case in point: I've never liked group projects because I had to put someone else's name next to mine to receive credit for what I consider to be MY excellent work. 

*insert weeping emojis here*

These are not fun truths to confront in my life. Perhaps, however, these truths shed some light on my problem with the fruits of the Spirit and give me a bit of insight into how to actually go about incorporating them into my life...

Have you ever noticed that when you spend a lot of time with a person, you start to assume some of his or her characteristics? For example, my old roommate, Rachel, used to wear her purse around the house for like 30 minutes after she came home from running errands. She'd put away groceries, do some dishes, put together a snack...all with her purse slung across her body. In August of last year, I was making fun of her for it. By May, I was doing the same thing! She rubbed off on me. I spent enough time with her and watching her and laughing about her wearing her purse for a ridiculously long time that gradually I assumed her habit. I, too, ended up wearing my purse all around the house!

Now, this is a silly example, but I think it applies to the fruits of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are all characteristic of the Holy Spirit. Just like the purse-wearing is characteristic of Rachel. And Paul lists out these fruits right before stating, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit" (Galatians 5:25). Living by the Spirit, walking with the Spirit...those statements would assume that we're spending time with the Spirit, right? And what happens when we spend time with someone?

Habits, characteristics, etc. rub off on us.

So maybe instead of trying to force the fruits into my life, I should spend time in the Spirit, with Jesus, getting to know my Lord and Savior. Maybe instead of trying to pop these suckers out of thin air and make them a part of my life, I should embrace "of the Spirit" and believe that when Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us, He actually really did want to be with us. With you. With me.

This is the method I'm going to try from here on out, folks. Trying to make these fruits show up in my life on my own is hard and it's lonely and it's not working. I would much rather be with Jesus while I'm trying to learn. I hear He's a pretty great teacher. And He's wicked awesome company.

You know what, I still wear my purse around the house after I buy groceries. And I hope that as I spend more time learning about the fruits of the Spirit straight from the source, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will be lasting habits, too.


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Shades and Shadows

Joy is the second fruit mentioned in Galatians 5:22 right after love, and maybe it's because they are the most important, but maybe it's because they are universally understood. You don't have to speak the same language or grow up in the same culture to understand an act of love or if someone is joyful. Joyful people smile and you don't need Rosetta Stone to translate a grin. For example, my grandpa either couldn't speak English or didn't care for it. Either way, he didn't communicate in anything but Spanish. I never understood anything he was saying except for "feo." He called us grand kids this so often that I had to ask. It means "ugly." Apparently it's a synonym for "good-looking" in Mexican culture. 

There are things in life that I think will make me joyful but don't. I also think I confuse happiness and joy. Joyful people are happy but not all happy people are joyful. I've been told joy is a state of being rather than a fleeting emotion and it was hard for me to understand this but once I saw it, I could experience it.

I remember riding a train into Paris, France having a conversation with Noah and noticing there was a lot of graffiti. The best part of traveling is realizing how naive you are. I thought Paris was this perfect city filled with beautiful sights, fame, and lots of tourists. And it is but it's also filled with the same stuff you can find right here in Albuquerque. Every city is someone's home and in every city, life happens. Graffiti happens. People like to litter, whether you're the home of the Isotopes or the Mona Lisa, it won't change the way people flick cigarette butts or gum wrappers.

Ever since that trip to Europe, I try to look at each city remembering that no matter what, people do people things in it. One of those "people doing people things" moments was when I was in Chicago. We were at Buckingham Fountain surrounded by this magnificent city. There was a man with two long poles and a bucket surrounded by children. He was dipping these poles into the bucket and letting the wind make these giant bubbles. The children were going crazy over them. They were by a $750,000 water show but they paid no attention to it and couldn't stop smiling at these bubbles that probably cost no more than $10. My mind wanders and I wonder what brought these kids here. Did their parents bring them here? Do they have both their mom and dad? And what about the man making bubbles? What is it in his life that motivates him to take time out of his life to make bubbles for kids for free? Where's his family? Does he do this for his grand kids? Does he have grand kids to make bubbles for? Based on my imperfect life, I'm imagining the kids' and this man's life aren't perfect either. That the bubble man has had plenty of bad days in his time and the kids will have their fair share soon enough. But in that moment, on that day, they chose to be happy. And I think that's joy. There's freedom in choosing to be happy, and that freedom leads to joy. Despite everything that could be bad in their lives, they chose to be happy and content playing with bubbles.

I don't think the world is as black and white as I'm led to believe. That I can't be happy in times of distress, that I can be sad or happy but not both. Anne Lamott puts it beautifully in her book, Bird by Bird.

"For instance, I used to think that paired opposites were a given, that love was the opposite of hate, right the opposite of wrong. But now I think we sometimes buy into these concepts because it is so much easier to embrace absolutes than suffer reality. I don't think anything is the opposite of love. Reality is unforgiving complex."

Life isn't black and white. It's every shade in between black and white. I don't think anything is the opposite of love either and I think you can be happy and sad at the same time but still be able to choose joy in the midst of it all. There's so much life to be lived in the gray areas of life because shades and shadows give life dimension, it makes things come to life.

My non-English speaking grandpa always seemed happy, no matter what. I remember hearing the story how he lost half his finger. He was working on a lawn mower while it was still on and lost most of his index finger and split his middle one. He drove himself to the hospital and afterwards stopped to get lotto tickets on the way home. He didn't let a few stitches change his daily life or the chances of him winning the jackpot. He never struck it rich but that didn't affect him either.   Black says when you lose a digit you should be upset or maybe pissed off. White says you don't need that finger, you have nine more. But the grey says life would be easier with ten fingers but you can choose to make the best of what you have. It's looking at life honestly and choosing to be happy.

Life would have been easier if my grandpa and I spoke the same language but we enjoyed each other's company anyways. It's almost better this way. Like Paris having graffiti. I think it makes this city more beautiful, it makes it real. There is no perfect and I can't always be happy just like the cities I want to visit won't be perfect. I shouldn't be surprised when places like Venice and Paris have vandalism or trash in their streets because they aren't immune to the impact humans have. I shouldn't be surprised when bad things happen in my life and that I'm not happy all the time. 

I guess what I'm saying is joy is a choice. We have the choice to let Jesus into our lives. We have the choice to walk in the Spirit and we have the choice to be joyful.

in His grip,


Tuesday, September 8, 2015


This weekend, I took a vacation. I went to see my dear friend Nicole and her husband in Southern California. Before I left, I told myself, "Sarah, you must take a break." So I only allowed myself to take two books to read for work/school. Haha.

But I did it! I rested, hiked, went to a baseball game, laid by the pool, walked on the beach, and enjoyed time with people I love. I came back to Albuquerque feeling refreshed and excited. Usually when I return from "vacations," I am grouchy and tired and annoyed. I asked myself this morning what the difference was between this trip and so many before it. The answer I've come to: it was actually a vacation.

Now "vacation" can mean several different things, but this is my favorite official definition of it: the action of leaving something one previously occupied. So in this instance, I physically left Albuquerque in order to occupy Fontana, California for several days. But maybe vacation is about much more than simply where my body is located. Maybe it's also about leaving the occupations of one's mind as well. I left the numerous tasks I could do over the weekend at home in order to be fully present with my friends. When I arrived home on Sunday, the tasks were still here, waiting for me, unspoiled, and my life was not in ruins because they hadn't been done yet. Imagine that! The world doesn't revolve around my productivity!

As I was reading the definitions of vacation to my roommate Bryn, she said something profound when I got to the definition above: "Wow! According to that I could go on vacation every day!" I never would've thought of it that way, but she's right. We can leave things for tomorrow. We can take a break even in our own homes and our own routines. Of course, I'm not championing shirking responsibility or a lack of follow-through, but I also think in our culture - and even (if not especially) in Christian culture - we celebrate the work-a-holic pace as successful and valuable. Efficiency and productivity is great...but at what cost?

Galatians 5:25 states, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." This statement directly follows the list of the fruits - so through love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, we may keep in step with the Spirit. I have found the faster the pace of my life, the busier I am, and the less in step I am with the Spirit. Now maybe this only holds true for me which is fine. But let me tell you what I mean and what it has to do with the fruits of the Spirit. The more I try to cram into my life - under the guise of increased output and productivity - the less patience I have, the less joy, the less peace, the less kindness, etc. I get snappy and grouchy and annoyed and tired. Ask my roommates.


When I take a step back and complete the tasks that God sets before me while saying "no" (*gasp*) to a couple of well-intentioned projects that I really only would've completed to make myself look good...well, I find myself living more - even if only a bit more - in step with the Spirit. I've stepped out of a place I previously occupied in favor of a vacation, however brief, however small.

The fruits are all about balance - balancing out our selves in favor of the Spirit. And there's not just one fruit - there are nine. So what if our cultivation of these fruits, our walking in step with the Spirit, taught us about balance not only in character but also in lifestyle? What if we allowed ourselves to refresh and relax every so often, taking a break with the Lord to rebalance and ultimately allowing Him to direct the labor of our lives? My sneaking suspicion is that we would be more efficient and more productive. Why? Because one time Jesus took 5 loaves and 2 fish and fed a multitude, and if that's not efficient (and miraculous!), I don't know what is.

So I'm going to try it. You can try it with me if you'd like. Or just tune in to see how it goes - we'll be here!

Happy Tuesday, friends!

Monday, August 24, 2015

48 Hours of Honesty

 I spent the month of July serving at a camp in Ramona, California with a group of people from all over. On one of our days off we all went to Belmont Park in San Diego. It reminded me of the state fair where the rides look like they could be put together faster than some Lego sets but we ride them anyways. We were in line for this wooden roller coaster and a good friend of mine asked if she could ride with me. She was calm but scared; the honest kind of scared, which in my opinion comes from the most intimidating fears.  I remember telling her some of the greatest moments in life are the ones right after we do something terrifying. The smile on her face after the ride was almost as bright as the smile on her face the second time she rode it.

What I appreciate about my friend is she isn't ashamed to be real with the people around her. She was terrified of riding this roller coaster but stood in line with fear on her face and she wasn't trying to hide it. She wasn't pretending, she isn't afraid to be honest. While I may not be afraid of roller coasters, being honest and real to the people around me is a real struggle. If I was afraid of roller coasters, I would have avoided it all together and argued that I just really love laser tag and that's why I spent all my time shooting dads and their ten year old children.

A couple months ago my roommate, Noah, and I had a conversation about honesty. We ended up with the conclusion that a life of integrity is the best life to live. In that moment, I thought I was living a life of integrity, as I saw myself as an honest person.

"What would life look like if people were honest, 100% of the time?" asked Noah.

Different. Life would look different but I wasn't exactly sure how. We hypothesized some ideas of what the world would look like but we soon grew tired of imagining and wanted to see it in reality.
That's when Noah challenged us both to being honest for 48 hours. Completely honest in every response, statement, comment. Everything.

Challenge accepted.

 Most of the time my actions that follow those two words end up with me doing something ridiculous. And to be honest, the ridiculous challenges are the ones that draw me in because of how I think I'll be perceived by others. I tried to impress people because I believed impressions win validation. It's like I have this life resume with all the "cool" stuff I've accomplished. I hand it out to people I want to be friends with hoping to win them over with my experiences as if gauging my ears with a hammer and nail is what people seek for in a friend. All home ear gauging has ever gotten me was an infection (my ear swelled up to the size of a half dollar) and free piercing at Claire's because my already-my-friend friend wanted me to keep my ears attached to my head.

It was a terrifying 48 hours but it was also a revealing two days. I knew I would find out where I lied often in my daily life but I didn't think the person I lied to the most would be myself. Being completely honest meant I had to be honest with myself and I learned a great deal about who I am.

I'm insecure.
I'm afraid of what people think of me.
I'm terrified of commitment.

I pretend I'm confident in who I am and that people's opinions of me don't matter. I tell myself and others that I like the noncommittal lifestyle I live so I don't have to tell them the idea of commitment is horrifying. But I realized being honest about where I fall short helps me find comfort where God doesn't. Without this honesty, I'm blinded to the truths God tells us.

He's confident in how He made us.
He seeks people despite what people think of Him.
He's committed to us even when we're not committed to Him.

These are promises I can't call upon unless I'm honest with myself. If I continue on ignoring my flaws, my insecurities, then I will never experience the love and grace God has to offer when it comes to me falling short.

I'll ride roller coasters and hammer nails into my lobes without thinking twice but when it comes to being completely honest, I'm terrified. But sometimes the greatest moments in life are right after we do something terrifying. After an honest day of living, I like to imagine I feel how my friend's smile looked after riding those rides at Belmont Park. 

I want to encourage you to try it and see what you discover. Find a friend and do it together. I'm sure it'll be a challenge but I'm also positive you'll learn something new. I would love to hear your 48 hours of honesty stories if you would like to share them. I've created an email just for these stories

in His grip,



Honestly (pun intended), it takes a lot of bravery to be honest for 48 hours. Heck, if we're including being honest with oneself in this, it's hard for me to be honest for a whole 10 minutes. That's why, as Josh told me about this challenge and then his idea to expand this idea of 48 Hours of Honesty, I sat there and didn't say a whole lot in the hopes that he wouldn't ask me to do it right away. Ha! And he didn't because Josh is a nice guy and doesn't want me to get kicked out of grad school upon completing this challenge...

But the more we talked about honesty, the more I realized it seamlessly fits in with our theme for this semester at Young Life College - the fruit of the Spirit. Now honesty isn't one of the nine "fruits," but if you rewind a bit in Galatians 5, Paul urges the church in Galatia to "walk by the Spirit" and proceeds to list what desires of the flesh look like in contrast to the desires (or fruits) of the Spirit. 

I believe that honesty is intimately intertwined in any attempt to walk by the Spirit because just as Josh said, God constantly throws truth our way, allowing us to wrestle with it so that when we decide to believe truth, we might also more fully understand it. 

[Honesty and truth are weirdly connected. I feel like I use them as synonyms sometimes, but I think it's more of a "one thing leads to another" relationships. I think honesty leads to truth. And I think God is always honest with us.]

So even if you don't attempt 48 Hours of Honesty, will you join us in at least taking an honest look this semester at what a life walking in the Spirit might look like? Let's look at the truth of what freedom in Christ means for our lives - lives marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.


Let's goooooooo!


Monday, April 20, 2015

Dining with God

"writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." - A quote from Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, quoting E.L. Doctorow.

I've always wondered how one would quote an excerpt from a book that involves a quote but until now, I never needed to do it. The above quote took me 10 minutes to write out and I'm still unsure if it is the proper way to quote a quote with a quote (I do not know if there actually is a proper way to do so) but by the tenth minute, I came to the realization of - I don't think it matters how I write it, I'm sure people will get the point.

I've always been afraid of critics when the real oppressor is perfectionism. I spend so much of my time trying to make my writings perfect, my art perfect, anything I do perfect in worry that people won't like it but in reality, I'm thinking more about me than others. In the world of art, there will always be people who like what you create and people who don't. I have freedom in choosing what I prefer so I shouldn't expect everyone else not to have the same freedom.

There will be people who like what you do in life because they like what you do. And there will be people who like what you do in life because they like you. People will like what I create because they like me, support me, care about me, and all that other mushy jazz. If I choose to be a writer, than they will want to see me write and not necessarily write perfection. I'm sure my friends and family would prefer that I actually do something and be "unsuccessful" than be stuck in trying-to-do-something-but-never-completing-anything-because-I'm-trying-to-make-it-perfect limbo and not have the opportunity to be "unsuccessful" or "successful".

I think this is what Anne Lamott was getting at. When it comes to writing, we just have to do. We know we are writing *insert project here* and we may not be able to see what the 500th page will say but focus on the couple of sheets before you. One by one.

Well what if this applies to life too.

I'm always trying to perfect my life. I always feel like I shouldn't do anything unless God "calls" me to do it. God is perfect and I want a perfect life so yes, I would like for God to make my life perfect. I want God to tell me what to do before I do it because I'm afraid of making the "wrong" decision. I know I'm on a journey and at the end of the road is what God wants me to do but I feel like I'm driving at night only seeing a few feet ahead.

What does God want me to do?
What career does God want me to choose?
What church should I go to?
Who should I date?
Where should I live?
What college should I go to?
What degree should I get?
Where should I do ministry?

Questions we all think about and we see them as big decisions and we only want to make a choice if God is behind them all. I'm not sure if people will agree with this but hear me out.

What if God doesn't care?

Not in the "Do whatever you want because I honestly do not care" kind of way but in the "I'm with you no matter what you choose" kind of way. I believe God cares about me as a person, as His adopted son, more than what I do for a paycheck. What if God is saying "I just want to be with you. I just want to get to know you."

Every year for our birthdays, my parents would take my siblings and I to dinner at any restaurant we wanted. I went to Red Lobster almost every year. Every now and then I would change it up. I remember the first year we moved to Albuquerque, I chose Sonic because in California, they didn't have them where I lived. I thought Sonic was the greatest thing ever. Present Josh knows past Josh is a fool but in that moment, it was the best birthday food. My parents were surprised but they didn't mind, they took me there and paid for our meals and enjoyed my birthday dinner. They didn't care where we ate cause that wasn't the point. The point was to make the birthday child special and spend time with them.

I understand that there are callings in life. There are times where we feel, "Yes. This is what God wants me to do." There are also times where we don't hear anything. What if those are the times God is saying, "Hey. I want to go to dinner with you, wherever you want." And the point isn't the restaurant but who you are eating with and who you're spending time with. Maybe you go and pick God up in your 2001 silver Hyundai Elantra and still don't know where you will end up but He's with you. Maybe God isn't so concerned with going to the perfect restaurant to eat the perfect type of food but concerned about who you are as a person. 

In His grip,