He Is Risen

If you’ve been around Christians long enough, you’re probably heard or been asked, “Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?”

Maybe you've even been asked, “Have you been saved?”

And maybe you’re wondering what on earth these people are talking about. I’m going to be as real as possible with you and try to explain that the best way I know how.

To me, having a personal relationship with Jesus means He is the center of your life. He is everything to you. You live your life for Jesus, to become more like Him every single day. You know, without a shadow of a doubt, that you’re going to spend eternity in heaven with Him. You believe He rose from the dead, and that one day, you too will be raised from the dead by Him.

Having a personal relationship with Jesus means more than saying God is real. It’s more than thinking there’s someone up in the clouds making the world go around. It’s more than believing in heaven and hell. And it’s a lot more than going to church every Sunday.

A personal relationship with Jesus Christ changes everything.

I know this because I’ve experienced that radical change in my own life.

A few years ago, while I believed in God—even the trinity of Jesus, the Father, and the Holy Spirit—I had no idea how much He could change my life. I didn’t grasp the magnitude of His presence or His actions in my life right now. 

I didn’t read the Bible on a daily basis, and I didn’t have a desire to. I didn’t go to Him in prayer. Even though I believed in God, I relied fully on myself. I didn't see myself as a sinner in need of salvation. I controlled my life, and by most people’s standards, I was pretty good at it. I was successful in every area. I was a good person. What did I have to worry about?

It took everything falling apart and me hitting rock bottom—plus years after that with God continually pursuing my heart—for me to finalize realize what I was missing and Who I needed. 

I needed Jesus. When I began to see that, my life began to change.

Grace came into the picture, and I finally realized I could experience a deep sense of hope every single day. I didn't have to be perfect because I have a God who is perfect, a God sees me as perfect in Him. 

I had to understand the full picture of the resurrection of Jesus Christ to enter into a saving relationship with Him. You see, the resurrection changes everything! Jesus was fully man and fully God. He was perfect; he never sinned. Yet He died the most horrible death imaginable for our sins. Because, like you, I am a sinner. We all are sinners in need of our Savior. 

Jesus died, and on the third day, He rose again! He was resurrected and ascended into heaven so that we might have eternal life. His blood was poured out for us. He was the ultimate sacrifice, and He died the death that we deserve. He is the only way we can have eternal life with Him, rather than eternal separation in hell. Our sins are what nailed Him to that cross. 

As my pastor proclaimed this Easter Sunday, Jesus loves us so much that He went to the cross. He is the only religious leader on the planet who rose from the dead. You can go around the world right now to find the remains of Mohammed, Confucius, Joseph Smith, and every other leader. But if you go to Israel and you look into Jesus’ tomb, you won’t see a thing. No bone, no remnant, no nothing. He is ALIVE. He is alive and active!

He is not here! For He has been resurrected, just as He said. Come and see the place where He lay.
— Matthew 28:6

We see in the book of Matthew, as well as the gospels of Mark, Luke, and John, that Jesus rose from the dead. Hundreds of eyewitnesses accounted this. And do you know who the first person the risen Jesus revealed Himself to? A woman. He showed up to Mary Magdalene, a woman who was once possessed by demons and who Jesus healed. She’s someone who society would have looked down upon in every way. Yet Jesus made Himself known to her. This is no ordinary man, and this is no ordinary story. Had a human written this story, written the Bible, I can guarantee you that Jesus would not reveal himself to a woman. Even more so, He wouldn’t have died. He would have instead been the typical hero we picture: strong and mighty and unable to die.

But that’s just it: Jesus is the strongest and the most mighty. And He hasn’t died—not really. He was resurrected on the third day, and He reigns over heaven and earth!

He demonstrated this power in the Messiah by raising him from the dead and seating Him at His right hand in the heavens, far above every ruler and authority, every power and dominion, and every title given, not only in this age but also in the age to come. He put everything under His feet and appointed Him as head over everything for the church, which is His body, the fullness of the One who fills all things in every way.
— Ephesians 1:20-22

We have access to God today through His word, through prayer, and through the Holy Spirit. Jesus is not some far-away God in some far-away place. He’s living and breathing in our lives right now. We can open up the Bible, read it aloud, and hear God speaking to us in this very moment.

God’s Word is so clear about what we must do in order to be saved. Baptism doesn’t save you. Repentance doesn’t save you. Going to church doesn’t save you. None of these works will give you a personal relationship with Jesus.

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

A personal relationship with Jesus—a saving relationship with Him—comes down to our faith. You know you are a sinner, you believe Jesus is Lord, and know in your heart that the Father raised Him from the dead. That truth changes your whole perspective.

Will you declare that with your mouth? Will you speak it aloud? Will you proclaim Him as Lord and Savior over your life?

You don’t need a pastor to do that. You don’t need a priest. And you certainly don’t need me.

You need Jesus.

You can invite Him into your life right now—and I pray you do. My heart breaks for the lost, and lately I’ve felt particularly burdened for those who live their lives just like I used to—successful, independent, in control, and yet totally oblivious to the power of the resurrection of Jesus Christ and how He changes everything. That was me. I was lost. I didn’t have this great hope. I didn’t have absolute assurance that I’d be spending eternity in heaven with Jesus Christ. I kept striving, looking at one thing after the next to fill me up: my job, my body, my relationships, you name it. Here's the thing: Nothing ever did because nothing compares to Jesus.

Jesus' love for us and His call for us to follow Him is summarized so clearly in one of my favorite worship songs, “O Come to the Altar”:

Are you hurting and broken within
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself
Do you thirst for a drink from the well
Jesus is calling

O come to the altar
The Father's arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ

We get to come to the altar. We have access to God right here, right now. We can have a personal relationship with Him, and we can be saved. Every single one of us is welcome. This salvation isn’t for a select few— it’s for the broken and the hurting and the man and woman like you and me.

I’m praying for you. I’m praying you would know and love Jesus. I’m praying you would accept Him into your life and finally receive the peace and hope you’ve been searching for all along. I’m praying your eyes would see and your ears would be open to hear.

If you declare with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved!

What are you waiting for?

Still have questions? I’d like to invite you to read these other resources:

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

For the Woman in the Wilderness

I have talked to a lot of you who right now are in the wilderness. You’re journeying through a really difficult time in your life, dragging a lot of baggage, a lot of dirt, a lot of mess behind you—and the end seems nowhere in sight.

My life feels pretty even-keeled right now, but I have been in your shoes before and I’ll be there again one day. Our lives are a constant ebb and flow. Whatever wilderness you’re in, this post is for you.

For the woman who is struggling to make end’s meet, who doesn’t know where her next paycheck will come from or how she’ll secure a reliable source of income, trust that there is hope.

For the woman who hates her job and longs for something different, know that you’re where you are for now with great purpose.

For the woman whose deepest desire is to be married, but she can’t seem to land a date, believe that your worth stems from something greater than your relationship status.

For the woman who tries again and again to bear children, yet each pregnancy test comes up negative, there is redemption for you.

For the woman who is chasing the next best job, the next highest title, the next largest salary, the next biggest house, you can stop your striving and find peace.

For the woman who believes she is not enough, know that He is.

Jesus is in your wilderness—He himself went through wilderness. He was tempted by Satan, and he needed to rely on His Father to get Him through it.

He actually quotes three very specific passages in Deuteronomy as he battles Satan.

"He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." (Deuteronomy 8:3)

"Do not test the Lord your God as you tested Him at Massah." (Deuteronomy 6:16)

"Fear Yahweh your God, worship Him, and take your oaths in His name." (Deuteronomy 6:13)

He proclaimed His faith and spoke God’s name out loud—and the Devil left Him.

Jesus has been exactly where you are, and He gets your situation better than anyone else can. He understands pain, longing, betrayal, exhaustion, disappointment, hurt. He sees you. He is working on your behalf.

As I read through the Old Testament, I notice a theme. The Israelites turn away from God time and time again. Not only that, but they worship false gods. They stop teaching their children about Yahweh. They behave in the complete opposite way that God told them to.

God is not blind to their sin; He is a just God after all. His anger comes out, and He releases His wrath. But eventually, the Israelites cry out to God for deliverance. They ask for help. They ask for saving. They ask for a miracle.

Time and time again, God delivers.

Do not be afraid.

Do not be discouraged.

Be strong and courageous.

Stand up.

I am with you.

He is with those Israelites even when they screw things up.

My dear, He is with you, too.

The Promised Land looks like a dream. Milk and honey flow abundantly. The manna is so sweet. But the Israelites don’t get to this amazing place until they’ve spent 40 years journeying through the wilderness.

They consistently ask God to take them a different way. They’d rather be back in slavery in Egypt than deal with the difficulties of the wilderness any longer. But God has a plan and a vision. He sees the entirety of the situation, while they see just a speck.

He promised them redemption, and He doesn’t go back on His promises.

Do you believe that?

Do I believe that?

The redemption comes full circle with Jesus, who died for our sins and rose so that we might have eternal life. We’re not guaranteed a happy life, and we’re not even guaranteed tomorrow. But we can stake our lives on a greater hope and keep our heads held high.

I think lives would be transformed and our world would be a better place if we walked around knowing that truth in our core and living each day with that freedom in our hearts.

Let me put it in a slightly different manner. Remember the 2006 Rodney Atkins country song, “If You’re Going Through Hell”?

"If you're goin' through hell keep on going
Don't slow down if you're scared don't show it
You might get out before the devil even knows you're there

I've been deep down in that darkness
I've been down to my last match
Felt a hundred different demons breathin' fire down my back
And I knew that if I stumbled I'd fall right into the trap
That they were layin'

But the good news is there's angels everywhere out on the street
Holdin' out a hand to pull you back up on your feet
The one's that you've been draggin' for so long
You're on your knees might as well be prayin'
Guess what I'm sayin'..."

He goes on to sing, “face that fire, walk right through it.”

The song might sound cheesy (okay, it totally is), but that’s precisely what we get to do with Jesus! He gives us the strength to walk through fires. He takes us through wilderness before we can reach the Promised Land. We won’t necessarily find that Promised Land here on earth, but we can bank on the fact that it will be the most glorious kingdom we’ve ever set foot in when we do get there.

Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
— Joshua 1:9

We hear this verse all the time. You’ve probably seen it written on artwork, journals, and coffee mugs. Take a second to recognize the full depth of it: The Lord is speaking directly to Joshua after Moses’ death. It’s now Joshua’s job to prepare the Israelites to cross the Jordan River into the Promised Land. God reminds Joshua He has been with them the entire 40 years in the wilderness, and He will continue to do so.

God doesn’t forget His promises. His Word is true! We need to remember that in our own lives right here today. We have to encourage one another in that. When we’re praying to Him, reading His Word, and listening to His call for our lives, He’s right there beside us. His Spirit dwells within us. We have nothing to fear.

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

Love With All Your Heart

I’m jittery. There are butterflies in my stomach, and I feel somewhat nauseated. My heart is pounding. My palms are slick. A slight sweat forms across my brow (and definitely in my armpits).

I’m totally enraptured. I can't focus on anything else but that one thing. That one person. I think my heart may have actually skipped a beat.

Do you know the feeling I’m talking about? Do you know that sense of excitement and adoration? It’s love, and there’s simply nothing else like it.

Listen, Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is One.

Love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.

These words that I am giving you today are to be in your heart. Repeat them to your children. Talk about them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them be a symbol on your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates…

Be careful not to forget the LORD who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the place of slavery.
— Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 12

You’ve probably heard this passage before. It’s quoted all the time. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength.

But as I read it today, the words carried more weight for me. I saw the full context of this command for the first time, and I could grasp why it’s so very important.

Moses spoke these words after God brought the Israelites out of slavery and gave them a new life. He’s about to bring them to the Promised Land! Moses has been leading the people, and he’s instructing them to obey the Lord before they enter the land. He’s telling them the greatest command: Love God. This is no small task. He tells them to feel this deep in their hearts and souls. Teach your children. Wear this feeling proudly for all to see. Display it daily in the way you walk. Let your home be evidence of your love for God. And don’t ever, ever forget the darkness and the slavery that God delivered you from.

This is deep, life-changing, soul-enrapturing love.

This is the kind of love that changes your whole life and forms the core of your very being. This is called the greatest command for a reason.

What’s even more amazing is the fact that God loves us a million times deeper than the kind of love we’re capable of. We’re fickle humans; we love, and we forget. We love other things more than God. But God, He actually is love. He loved us so much that He made His son, Jesus, fully man to take on our sins and die the horrific death we deserved. He took on the cross for us. He rose to heaven and grants us eternal life!

Matt Chandler says,

“Listen to people talk all the time. They fell out of love. ‘I just don't love him anymore.’ In fact, the thing that's probably most frowned upon in predominant culture when it comes to love is someone who loves by will, what the Hebrews called ahava. It was a love of the will. It was ‘I'm not going anywhere.’ Don't romanticize that. That's not rose petals and violin and candles being lit and, ‘Oh, honey, I'm not going anywhere.’ All right? That's something on fire over here, a knife flung past your head, you're hunkered down, there's chaos everywhere, and you say, ‘I'm not going anywhere.’

Ahava says, ‘I've seen the ugly side of you and I'm staying.’”

Ahava is what Jesus did for us, and it’s the love we are privileged to receive if we accept it and believe it.

We have to love Him in return. That’s the greatest command.

I love my family. I love my friends. I love taking walks, I love drinking coffee, I love watching This Is Us. I love all these things, and I’ll talk about them all day long. Where does Jesus fit into that? Are we willing to talk about Him the way we talk about these lesser things? Do we love Him and look at Him with that jittery feeling we do when we’re in love?

I know I often fall short. I get way more excited about stuff that ultimately doesn’t matter. I let my other loves come before my love of God. There’s nothing wrong with loving your family, your friends, or even This Is Us. But when the order of our loves is upside down, we’ve made a mistake. We’ve forgotten the ultimate commandment.

With the world we live in, it’s so easy to get caught up in cultural commands. Man’s commands tell us to make money. Be successful. Find a spouse and have a nice family. Be healthy. Be pretty. Be strong. And make sure you have it “all together.” Achieve balance.

I don’t see those commands in the Bible. I see God telling us to love Him and to let our love for Him pour of our lives in everything we do.

Remembering the darkness that the Lord redeemed me from is what allows me to love Him first and foremost. He brought me, just like the Israelites, out of slavery. He made me into a new creation. Praise God for that. He loves me with ahava love. He changed my life; He called me into His Kingdom. I want to tell about His goodness all the day long!

My prayer is that I never forget the love God shows me and the freedom He gives me. I pray you won’t either. Think about the depths He called you out of and the new life He’s granted you. If we realize God loves us that much, how could we not love him with all our hearts, all our minds, and all our strength?

And if you are reading this and you’re thinking, I don’t know if I have been given a new life, then will you tell God that? Will you ask Jesus into your heart right here, right now--will you profess Him as Lord and Savior, and let His love transform you from the inside out?

Read my story. Read the stories of these beautiful women. Watch my pastor’s story. God is powerful, and He changes people’s lives every single day.

He loves you, and He wants your love in return.

Come and See What God Has Done

Our stories are so powerful. God uses each and every one of our stories to make us more like Him. He is the author and finisher of our faith, and He weaves the most incredible testimonies. 

I was honored to have the opportunity to help three women share their stories live on stage in front of 2,000 other women at Momentum 2017.  I had read their testimonies countless times before that night, but even I was not prepared for the mighty movement of the Holy Spirit when they shared. I sat there crying, overwhelmed by God's faithfulness and promise in our lives.

Being a Christian doesn't guarantee a perfect life. In fact, God tells us clearly in the Bible that being a Christian is going to be hard. We are going to face trials, pain, hurts. We are going to be persecuted. We are going to doubt and think about our lives before Christ. We won't be happy all the time. But being a Christian means we have hope that can never be taken away. Accepting Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of your life and living life for Him means you get a life so much greater than this one! He lives within us, daily working on our behalf, even if it doesn't feel like it. That's the thing: faith isn't based on feelings. 

Wherever you are at in your walk with God, know that He wants all of you. He wants you to surrender everything else you're chasing and run after Him. He's writing your story in an incredible way that only He can. 

So come and see what God has done: in the lives of these three women, and in your own life. Trust Him. Then go and tell. Shout your story for the world to hear. 

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

The Stomach Bug Put Things In Perspective

My first day back to adventures in Nashville after recovering from the stomach bug.

My first day back to adventures in Nashville after recovering from the stomach bug.

It was not my intention to go two and half weeks without blogging, but then life got in the way.

Life does that sometimes. Sometimes we’re forced to let go of our own plans—to “let go and let God,” as my best friend likes to say.

Last week, a nasty stomach bug knocked me down. On the first day that it hit, I could not do anything. I couldn’t read, I couldn’t journal, and I could hardly focus on TV. I could not eat, and I could not drink. I didn’t have the energy to even stand up. It was the most sick I’ve been in years.

Praise the Lord, this did not last too long. Four days later, I felt relatively normal again and was able to eat and drink mostly like usual.

I think in a way, God used the situation to tell me to slow down.

God wants our obedience, and I think at times He puts us in situations where the only choice we have is to listen to Him.

I was on the couch, barely able to move, and all I could do was think and pray.

I’m reading through the book of Exodus right now. Maybe it’s because I am journaling through it or maybe it’s because I’m discussing it within my discipleship group, but this is the first time the Old Testament is really clicking with me. I can actually see parallels between what happened thousands of years ago, what Jesus did for us in the New Testament, and what’s going on in my own life.

Take a look at a few of the passages in Exodus 12. I read a commentary to better understand this, and it helped me put the pieces together. The ten plagues over Egypt have ended, and the Lord instructs Moses and Aaron regarding Passover. He’s preparing them to help bring the Israelites out of Egypt and to the Promised Land:

“Here is how you must eat it: You must be dressed for travel, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. You are to eat it in a hurry; it is the Lord’s Passover...

He summoned Moses and Aaron during the night and said, ‘Get up, leave my people, both you and the Israelites, and go, worship Yahweh as you have asked. Take even your flocks and your herds as you asked and leave, and also bless me.’...

The people baked the dough they had brought out of Egypt into unleavened loaves, since it had no yeast; for when they have been driven out of Egypt they could not delay and had not prepared any provisions for themselves.”

The Israelites had to eat the Passover meal in faith, trusting that God would in fact deliver them. They had to be dressed for travel and ready to walk in the deliverance that the Lord prepared for them right then and there. Later in Chapter 12, we see God tell Moses and Aaron to leave and worship Him. The people must leave in the middle of the night, with bread that has not baked, and with no preparation or provision for themselves. They had no choice but to do what God told them to do.

In the midst of my stomach bug, I had no choice but to stop and trust God. I had to rest. I had to be still. I had to take good care of myself. 

And I thought a lot about the Exodus story. As with the Israelites, the Lord wants our obedience. We obey because we know and love God. He has delivered me from the old self, from sin and death. He’s given me new, eternal life in Him. I’m called to trust in Him and walk in that truth every day. The same is true for you, friend. If you've turned from sin and given your life to Christ, you have been made anew. Do you believe that? Does it change your day-to-day life?

If I believed that 100 percent of the time, I would relinquish the control I try to tightly hold on my life. I’d hand the reigns over to God. 

Daily obedience and trust in God means I get to live a full, free life.

One of my favorite parts of Exodus is chapter 14 verses 13 and 14.

“But Moses said to the people, ‘Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and see the Lord’s salvation. He will provide for you today; for the Egyptians you see today, you will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you must be quiet.’”

The Lord will fight for you. Be quiet, be still, let Him work.

The God who demanded obedience from the Israelites is the same God who asks that of us today. He’s the same God who paves the way when we trust Him. The same God who provides. When He puts us in situations where our only choice is to listen to Him, let’s stop resisting Him and do what He says.

In this season of my life, obedience looks like taking good care of my body. God's calling me to obey Him by eating well, resting and taking a break from exercise, and most of all, surrendering control to Him. Obedience changes my life and leads me closer to Him. 

Obedience is an act of worship.

So what if God simply wants us to be quiet? What does it look like for you to be quietly obedient to Him? How is He asking you to follow Him and walk in the new life He’s given you?

Pray that He will open your eyes. Pray for the wisdom and courage to do all He's asking of you. And then trust. You don't have to be afraid to obey. God has already gone before you and prepared the way. 

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

How God Opened My Eyes to Dating His Way

I really didn’t date until after college. The little bit of dating I did during college consisted of meeting men at bars and seeing them once, or maybe inviting a guy from my writing class as my date to a sorority party. Dating wasn’t a priority for me, and honestly, I was fearful to date given my lack of experience.

Post-college, I was suddenly much more interested in the dating scene. I said NBD to any fear around dating and my lack of experience. I began to flirt, I began to date, and date quite a bit. Truth be told, I liked it. I liked the attention from men. I liked living the way I saw in magazines and on TV. I bought into the idea that “the one” would complete me, and I spent a lot of time and energy trying to ready myself for the perfect man.

When I did find myself in my first committed relationship in 2013, I let the world dictate that, too. I made the relationship my everything. I made him my everything. As you can imagine, that relationship grew sour. The sweet exterior faded until a painful, toxic root remained. Friends pointed this out to me on more than one occasion, and as the breakup hit, it became so clear to me that they were right. The relationship was past the point of healthy. Being in a relationship simply for the sake of having someone isn’t worth the cost. We broke up, and God protected me greatly in that.

Throughout 2013 and 2014, God was working, refining, pruning, and pulling me closer to Him.

My eyes were opened like never before. I saw where I had veered (way) off course, and I started to see the beauty of God’s way. He had a better way for my relationships all along; I had simply been too blind to see it.

I announced my faith publicly through baptism in early 2015. Things in my life began to click. It was as though a weight was lifted off. I knew from that point on that my relationship with men would be different. My approach to dating forever changed. My understanding of marriage and “the one” was turned right side up.

So God created man in His image. In the image of God, He created them. Male and female, He created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it.’
— Genesis 1:27-28a

God created man and woman in His image, to be fruitful and multiply. God set this way from the beginning of time!

For most of my life, I didn’t get that. I didn’t understand His beautiful design. I did what I wanted. It took years of struggling, of loneliness, and of heartbreak to realize there is a better way for relationships and dating. As I read more and more about God’s way, the scales began to fall off.

The book of Ephesians rocked my world. Relationships are not about ourselves. Marriage is not about me finding ultimate happiness and fulfillment. It’s not about my Prince Charming saving the day. It’s about sacrifice. Marriage is holy. Marriage is loving someone in spite of them—and in spite of yourself. Dating is an earlier degree of that.

No small request, right? But that’s love in light of eternity. That’s the glory we can partake in here on earth. That’s the way God will bless.

After my first breakup, I decided to pray for my love life.

I found a specific prayer online that I wrote down in my journal and prayed in earnest for a long time.

I prayed:

That God would give me a relationship (Matthew 7:7)

That He would grant me patience and insight to wait for a good one (Isaiah 40:31)

That He would be working out anything unhealthy in my life (Jeremiah 33:8)

That He would shape my heart for nourishing interactions with others (Colossians 3:12-14)

That He would bring healing into my past so I’m free to embrace the present (Philippians 3:13-14)

That He would protect my emotional world and give me wisdom of how to set healthy boundaries (Proverbs 4:23)

That He would open my eyes to the joys of doing sex His way (Hebrews 13:4)

That God would be the focus of my life now and forever (Psalm 37:4)

I prayed this and even thought I met someone a month or two later who was an answer to that prayer. He was not, and that was okay. Life moved on. I found myself investing more in Christ, in the one who was now my primary love. I learned to enjoy and appreciate my singleness as a gift. I couldn’t be tempted or distracted by others; my focus was finally on Him.

Still, I prayed that prayer, and I prayed the Lord would inject continual peace and contentment into my status as a single woman. I prayed He wouldn’t give me what I wanted but give me His best. (Yes, that same prayer over my career worked pretty well on my love life, too.) I stopped dating for a bit. I stopped planning. I stopped comparing and asking everyone, “How old were you when you got married?” I stopped looking at my ex on social media. I stopped doing things that weren’t what I desired and weren’t what would bring me closer to Christ. I let go and let God.

Yes, I desired a boyfriend during this time. I wanted to know if marriage was in the cards for me. I hoped and longed for someone special, a partner in ministry, a man to love me boldly and like Christ. This is a good desire! I asked God to take the desire away if He wanted me to be single instead and to live missionally, singularly focused on Him, like Paul suggests we all do in 1 Corinthians 7.

Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him. This is my rule in all the churches.
— 1 Corinthians 7:28

So that’s what I did: live the life God has called me to.

God wasn’t done with me, or my love life, quite yet. He had a few surprises in store in 2015 and 2016. He opened my eyes to doing a relationship His way, to doing sex His way, to living focused on Him above all else—not as an afterthought. And God brought someone into my life who helped me see the beautiful design He has for our relationships. That design is not impossible or irrelevant but transcends all ages and eras. That design is as real for us today as it was for the early church thousands of years ago.

Dating like I used to date does not even compare to the joy I’ve experienced in dating His way. It’s like I went from having fat-free Splenda-sweetened ice cream to having creamy Italian gelato with hot fudge and a cherry on top. I mean, hello. No comparison.

Dating is a special and unique season, and I’m thankful for how God has used this time to make me more like Him. As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. I now actually enjoy looking back on the heartache and pain I once experienced because I can see God’s hand over it all. It’s been a sweet, sweet journey, and I look forward to what’s next. Thank you, Jesus.

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

Our Biggest Untapped Resource

What if I told you that I know of a place where you could find answers to your questions? You could receive encouragement for your struggles? You could find empowerment and equipping and hope for the days ahead?

Now what if I told you that place already exists.

Right here, right now.

It’s called the Bible. It’s the living, breathing, divine word of God, and we can look to it literally any time we want.

The problem is that we don’t. I believe the Bible is truly our biggest untapped resource. We have this book that has been translated and passed down for thousands of years. Men were killed just so we could read the Bible in English. And now we can download it on our phones and computers in any language and any translation we want.

That is a miracle.

“The problem is not that we don’t have access to the Bible. It’s that we don’t access it.”

My pastor delivered those words during church this Sunday, and he is spot-on.

A great example is my own life. I’ve always had the Bible around. I grew up with bibles in my home. I was given different versions of bibles and devotionals over the years: My Personal Promise Bible, Jesus Calling, The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word. I’d also read my fair share of Christian books and books that referenced the Bible. I liked to pick and choose verses, but I didn’t understand the full context. I didn’t have the full story.

When I went through a breakup, I read a million blog posts about it. When I felt lonely in the midst of singleness and friends moving away, I asked my girlfriends for encouragement. When I wanted to change jobs, I sought out books and Christian career experts.

But I had the best resource of all sitting in front of me untapped the whole time. These other things are not bad, but in light of the Bible, they simply cannot compare. They’re meant to be supplements to the one book that truly gives life—and we aren’t going to experience life without the Bible no matter how many books, podcasts, or blog posts we seek out.

The last year or two marks the first time I really began to read the Bible itself. I’ve almost read the full Bible, and my eyes have finally been opened to how important time in the Word really is.

Don’t let the Bible intimidate you or overwhelm you. This is the living and active word of God. It was made to be opened by you.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that he man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
— 2 Timothy 3:16-17

If you don’t know where to start, take it one step at a time. Try a plan like the F260 or She Reads Truth but don’t feel pressure to read the entire Bible in a year. While doing so is completely possible, trust me when I say it is so much better to read for understanding and application. Don’t try to race through it. Reading the Bible is something to be relished and enjoyed, not simply checked off a to-do list.

I used to treat it like a task, and honestly, I didn’t get much out of it. So take your time.

As John Piper says, “You are launching on a lifetime of Bible reading, on a lifetime of engaging with God in the Bible.”

Give yourself 20 minutes today to read. Even if you feel distracted or your mind drifts, God will use that time. He’s called you into a relationship with Him. Reading His word will help you get to know Him and talk to Him. It will change your life.

And when you’re ready, start memorizing Scripture. Arm yourself with His words to fight sin and temptation. Put on the full armor of God by knowing what He says about who you are and who He calls you to be!

This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore, with truth like a belt around your waist, righteousness like armor on your chest, and your feet sandaled with readiness for the gospel of peace. In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is God’s word.
— Ephesians 6:12-17

God’s word is the sword of the Spirit, protecting us against any spiritual battle we fight. The more I think about that, the more amazed I am. I have the greatest weapon available to me at all times. You do, too, my friend. Wield it.

I’m new to the Scripture memory journey, but, my goodness, there is something so powerful about being able to know and speak truth when you’re feeling stuck or in the midst of a struggle. It’s equally as helpful when you’re experiencing blessings and gratitude, too. Yet another super awesome part about the Bible: It applies to all seasons of life in all places, at all times. The narrative remains the same.

I could talk all day about how much reading the Bible will impact your life. You don't need me to hear me talk about it, though. You need to read and experience it yourself.

So, go.

Dust off that Bible on the shelf.

Download the app.

Get started. Dig in and devour.

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

A Word for 2017


New Year’s Resolutions.

That phrase seriously makes me cringe. When I hear it, I usually think of health or fitness-related goals that end up tossed to the wayside by March. I also think of the years I spent setting goals and pursuing them in search of perfection, rather than trusting The Lord or letting His will be done.

So last year I settled on a new tactic. Rather than set goals to somehow better myself, I adopted a different way to take on the new year. I chose a word that I held close and prayed about for twelve months.

That word was freedom.

I wrote about having freedom to not have my life completely figured out:

“... when I see how much God has moved and shaken my life in the last three years, I get excited. If He can do all that He has done in such sweet and unexpected ways during this time, I cannot wait to see all He will do in the next three years. I have freedom to not plan everything or have it all figured out.

I have freedom to trust Him, even when it is hard.

That's the sentiment I want to carry with me into the new year. I hope true freedom will permeate my life in 2016—freedom to know I am right where I am supposed to be.”

Well God totally showed up.

I think, in so many ways, freedom did permeate my life in 2016. I felt free from things I’d previously been enslaved to—free from the yokes of perfection and approval. Free from my own control. In 2017, I’ll continue to pray for freedom and restoration. I can now truthfully say full freedom rests in Him alone.

Praying and thinking about freedom as much as I did helped bring it to light in my life.

A move to Nashville! A communications and ministry job! A relationship founded in Christ! The words we use to make requests to God have power. And that’s why I’ve spent the past week journaling about my word for 2017.

To help me do so, I’ve been following along with Lara Casey’s goal-setting series on her blog. Girlfriend is amazing. I recently discovered her blog and ministry, and I am so very encouraged by the way she lives out her faith through her work. It turns out she, too, believes in picking a word for the year ahead. She talks a lot about living on purpose rather than chasing perfect. That idea could not resonate more with me.

Armed with Lara's advice, I’ve looked at the challenges from this past year, as well as the blessings and the lessons I’ve learned. Where do I hope to be in the year ahead? How do I want to grow? What do I need to say yes to—and what to do I need to say no to?

Lara suggests looking for themes in the midst of all this journaling. Jot down some possible words of the year and take time to pray about the word God has actually laid on your heart.

I did just that, and I kept seeing themes of growth and depth. Nature was a common thread. Stillness, quiet, and peacefulness were all on the page.

Yet none of those words seemed quite right. I knew God would impress the right word upon my heart.

It only took a few days. I wrote down a few prayers earlier this week, and the word flowed out.

“God, I pray for depth this year. Fewer commitments, fewer things, and greater focus on you. Help me to grow deep rather than wide. You will guide me. I pray I listen and obey. Strengthen my relationship because we’re both going deeper with you. Help me to do good work at my job and on my blog because I am growing deeper in you. Let all I do be an outpouring of that depth; let it continually point back to you. I pray for deeper health, healing, courage, and freedom. Let the roots grow deep, Lord.

Rooted in you, watered daily with Scripture and prayer so that I may grow and blossom. Rooted in you, Father.”


That’s my word. My goal and focus for 2017. I want all that I do to be rooted in Him.

A seed is planted, and its roots slowly settle in. With water, sunlight, and proper care, the roots will grow deep. The seed will spring up into a plant and grow stronger, blossoming and flourishing in the way it was created to be all along.

Like a plant, when we’re rooted in Christ and live for Him, we, too, will grow stronger and flourish into who He has designed us to be.

Therefore, as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in faith, just as you were taught, overflowing with gratitude.
— Colossians 2:6-7

My biggest desire for this year ahead is to stand firmly rooted in Him and to walk with Him. Growing deeply in Jesus is the first step; everything else follows suit. We can hope and dream, trusting that our Father is in control, leading us no matter what, and working all things for our ultimate good. We are blessed to live from victory of Christ rather than live for victory of our own.

As I went back to work this week, “rooted” was on my mind. It suddenly became obvious that this word came from the Lord. We as a church are going through a “Growing Up Challenge” together, learning spiritual disciplines for daily life and how to be a disciple. We even use study books called Growing Up, Firmly Planted, and Foundations. Everything points back to “rooted.” It's come full circle. 

Living out my word of the year in daily life in 2017 will take a lot of prayer. “Rooted” means saying yes to stillness, quiet, and rest. To time alone with Christ. To stepping out of my comfort zone trusting Him and knowing my foundation cannot be shaken. To gratitude, to generosity, to service. “Rooted” means saying no to comparison and selfishness. No to busyness and hustle, and definitely no to doubt and distrust. Over and over and over again.

No matter what changes occur over the next 12 months, my identity is rooted in God. My roots are unshakeable. I pray they grow deeper and stronger than I ever thought possible. I pray they remind me of exactly who I am and whose I am. 

I believe God will use "rooted" within me this year, even if in the smallest and most unexpected of ways. I'm challenging you to set your own word for 2017. Send me an email or reply in the comments below. Share it with your friends. Pray about it and offer it up to Jesus. And together, let's watch as He shows up yet again.

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

Your Favorite Posts of 2016

I look back on the past 12 months and am in awe of God's faithfulness. I doubted, and He came through. I doubted, and He came through. The process repeated itself over and over again. I never would have guessed in January that by the end of the year I'd be working for a church in Nashville, Tennessee. I defs didn't see that one coming. I repeatedly said, "God don't give me what I want but give me your best." And that's exactly what He's done.

One of my favorite parts about journaling is the way it marks time. I jot a moment on paper and go back to it whenever I want. Blogging is the same. It's so cool to see how the Lord has worked in my heart this year as I read through old blog posts. Below are a few of your favorites from 2016. What resonated with you the most? What do you want to see more of in the new year? Leave a comment on the post below or shoot me an email. I'd love to hear from you. And thank you for sticking with me! You make this blog happen.

A One-Way Ticket

The biggest thing that happened to me this year? I moved from New York City to Nashville! Click here to read all about this major change in my life. (And hit me up if you're ever in town!)

Now I Know Why God Created A Sabbath

I spent a few days in Vermont this summer without cell service, social media, or any of the hustle and bustle. That time showed me the importance of sabbathing. Rest is so, so good, friends.

Courage, Dear Heart

I got a tattoo. Yes, really! God has pressed upon my heart to be strong and courageous and to trust in Him. My tattoo is a daily reminder of that. 

Let's Honor Our Bodies And Enjoy Food As The Gift It Is

This post is about as real as I get. My struggles with an eating disorder have propelled me to Christ; He alone heals. His Word has shown me why we eat and drink in the first place, and how our bodies are gifts made for a mission.  

Dear Future Daughter

There are things I want my future daughter to know, and I can't wait to share this letter with her one day.

Overwhelmed By Love

I felt deeply cared for and encouraged on my birthday this past February. Thank you to all who showed up and showed what it means to love. (Thanks also for the best birthday cake of my life!)

I Want To Make My Name Known

Anyone else feel intimidated and pressured by those 30 Under 30 lists? Good news: We don't have to be! Our names are already written in heaven, and that's the best list of all.

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.

Why I Won't Resolve To Lose Weight In 2017

Every December, the chatter is the same. Wherever I turn, I hear women discussing how to say no when holiday treats abound. How to stay in shape when winter is in full force. How to eat clean and drop a few l-bs as the new year rolls around.  

You know the discussions I’m talking about. The get healthy slash be fit slash lose weight mentality is inescapable. Everywhere you look or listen, you’re sure to find someone discussing it. New Year’s Resolutions are synonymous with it. Magazine cover lines are all about it—as are Instagram posts, Pinterest boards, website banners, television commercials, bookstore windows, you name it. Weight loss is a major part of our culture, and each impending January 1 only amplifies that mentality a hundred fold.

“I feel so fat; I need to cut out carbs.”

“I can’t believe I ate [fill-in-the-blank]. I definitely need to go for a run tomorrow.”

“If I could just lose ten pounds, I’d feel so much better about myself. My life would be better, too.”

Hear me when I say: I won’t resolve to lose weight this year. Or next year. Or the year after that.

I won’t resolve to eat clean. Clean food is food that’s been washed and prepped.

And I won’t resolve to burn more calories by spending endless hours at the gym.

What I will do is resolve to accept and love my body, and to nourish it body, mind, and soul.

This goal is not going to be easy, and that’s why I’m publishing it here on my blog. I want us to hold each other accountable. It’s time to speak truth to our dear girlfriends, sisters, and daughters. It’s time to speak truth to ourselves. You are beautiful, and you were designed by the greatest artist of all time. Your curves, your soft belly, your strong thighs—those are no mistake. God made you exactly the way you are. He knew what He was doing, and He created you in His image. He crafted your personality. Your strength, your sensitivity, your gentleness, your boldness. All designed by the One above. The best part: He gave you a heart and a soul and the opportunity to live life eternally long after your physical body has passed away.

Thinking about that gives me confidence. Know that the Lord actively created you and continues to pursue you. Put your faith in Him. Rest secure in that.

Today, I feel beautiful and worthy. I am happy. My walk through body image and health has been a long one. I’ve made great strides, but I’m still a work in progress. Believe me, I still have days when I worry about the way I look or the food I eat. I still let those annoying messages about “health” bother me sometimes. That’s why I see an awesome nutrition counselor on a regular basis here in Nashville. She has helped me understand that I’m in a season of restoration.

Since moving here, I’ve learned about the importance of rest. I’ve entered into a restoration both physical and spiritual as I embrace the full woman God has designed me to be. My physical restoration includes weight gain. It’s uncomfortable, challenging, and anxiety-provoking. And it’s the complete opposite of what culture tells me to do. So I have to turn away from the prevalent New Year’s resolutions talk and preach the truth to myself.

In reality, health is different for every single person. For me, health means eating more calories than what a magazine tells me to and not worrying about whether my food is organic or free of refined sugars. Health means doing yoga and taking walks rather than running a half marathon or doing high-intensity interval training. Health means trusting my body and living free of the rules I was once enslaved to during the height of my eating disorder.

And I recognize this country has an obesity epidemic. You may be reading this right now and thinking, Yeah but two-third of Americans are overweight. This is true. Naturally, the message we constantly hear is one of weight loss. But we are not often told about the other side of this problem. Did you know at least 30 million Americans of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder? That number only encapsulates the people who report it. In addition, anorexia is the deadliest of all mental illnesses.

Clearly, with this many people suffering on both ends of the spectrum, we are doing something wrong. The message of weight loss and dieting is a failure.

We need to find a way to focus on treating our bodies well—whatever that looks like. Cooking together, enjoying real food, moving because it feels good, and developing spiritual fitness so that we can run with endurance the race that lies before us.

Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that lay before Him endured a cross and despised the shame and has sat down at the right hand of God’s throne. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, so that you won’t grow weary and lose heart.
— Hebrews 12:1-3

There is no easy answer, but God has given me a heart for this, and I simply must speak up. I am passionate about being a good steward of the body God has given me, and I want to encourage others to do the same. I strive to treat my body the way Christ would want me to—to utilize it to the full potential of the gifts He has given me! I pray and hope this for you, too.  

Take a second to think about the amount of time you spend focused on food, your body, your weight, your exercise routine. How much time do you spend working out? How much energy do you put into dieting attempts? How much brain space do you give to negative body image thoughts and restrictive food rules?

Now how much time do you spend with God? In prayer or in the Word?

For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer.

If you point these things out to the brothers and sisters, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, nourished on the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed. Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
— 1 Timothy 4:4-10

Physical fitness is great⏤but it cannot compare to godliness and time with the Lord.

Don’t let the continual chatter about weight loss goals distract you or bring you down. Don’t use such talk to justify harmful behaviors or set produce negative thoughts. Filter out the unhealthy, unhelpful, and unproductive voices. Don’t follow them and don’t engage with them. Preach the truth to yourself and find the different voices that remind you your identity stands in Him alone.

Ultimately, we have to fix our eyes on Jesus. I really believe that’s the only way to achieve true health.

Forget resolving to lose weight or get fit. Resolve to enjoy your life! Enjoy food and enjoy moving because you have a body that can. I pray all of you who are struggling with any aspect of food, fitness, or body image let Jesus reign supreme in your heart instead. God has a mission for us and it doesn’t involve flat abs, clean eating, or record-setting weight loss. Spend more time with Him. Follow His call for you. And ask Him to reshape your heart and instill confidence in your body and the woman He’s made you to be. 

If you want to talk more about Jesus Christ and faith and what-the-heck-is-all-this-stuffshoot me a message. I love meeting new people, whether virtually or in person, and gabbing about life. 

And if you'd like to know more of my story, you can read my testimony here.

Truly, He makes beautiful things.