The Last 24 Hours

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If you want to emulate Christ, you must know Christ. And so often, I think the American church has got it all wrong. I don’t think it is fair or right to point fingers and there are many Christians and churches who are doing it right. Ultimately, I think each of us must evaluate our own lives in light of the life of Christ. Are we seeking to live like He did? As I have blogged about quite a bit recently, the idea of hospitality and serving others seems to continue to be a theme God is pressing into my soul. I think it is because for so many years I have been so busy with so much, I have forgotten we are to be busy with a who, not a what. We are to be seeking Christ, not seeking tasks, projects, notches on a resume, or shiny awards.

The other day, one sentence in the book I was reading stopped me in my tracks. The author was talking about the last hours of Christ’s life and how He spent those last precious hours. He had the unique advantage of knowing He was going to die. We do not know when death will come. A study of the last hours of Christ’s life reveal what was important to Him and this is what caused me to stop. To evaluate. To think. To consider my own life in light of His.

The night before Christ was crucified, He broke bread with his closest friends. He didn’t travel to an exotic locale, He didn’t check one more thing off His bucket list, He didn’t make some grand spectacle out of his last hours. He simply shared a meal around the table with those He loved.  What a beautiful picture and humbling reminder this was for me. In light of the fact I have no clue how long my time on earth will be, how am I living out this principle? Am I spending my precious time with people? Am I inviting in those I love to eat around the table? Am I taking time for small moments? For ordinary events that I may never be able to write on a resume or put on an award application?

People were most important to Jesus. He spent time with them, He cared for their souls, and during His last moments before a brutal death, He fed them a meal, washed their feet, and comforted their souls.  This is the life we are called to friends. This is the good work.

But why oh why is it so hard? I will be the first to admit my schedule gets out of control. I have a toddler at home and a husband who works a lot so a clean house happens for about .5 hours a week. Some nights our “dinner” consists of sandwiches, leftovers, or eggs and toast because this momma is exhausted.  But in studying Jesus’ last hours, I realized I so often miss the point.  He didn’t expect perfection out of people. He met them in their brokenness, in their hurt, in their moments of need and shame and despair. He didn’t come to them in a spiffy business suit looking like he stepped off the cover of a magazine. He came to them with open arms and invited them in. He invited them to a messy life, to a hard life, to a life of sacrifice, and joy, and hope, and peace.  And with His last moments, He spent time around the table eating, drinking, and serving.

This is the good work we are called to do in this broken world. It is not to have perfect houses or perfect kids or perfect resumes. It is to spend our time sharing our brokenness with those around us. It is to open our messy homes and say come on over. It is to nourish the body and soul with food and hope. It is to love. And I believe in doing this, we will see a world transformed once again by the message of hope and love Jesus brings to us all.

 

 

Photo by Chelsea Francis on Unsplash

This Moment

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Blog writing comes in fits and starts for me. I get super gung-ho about it and write all the time or I barely post for months on end. This is not the best way to grow a blog or gain followers I realize and a lot of it comes down to my own insecurities. I get stuck in a rut feeling like I have nothing to say or contribute so I simply stop. Any writer will tell you this is something you absolutely cannot do. Over the past few months, I have done a lot of thinking, soul-searching, and self-development. I realized I was living from a scarcity mentality meaning if I saw someone else with the slice of pie I wanted,  I assumed it meant there wasn’t any pie left for me. And then I just gave up. Until this week happened. After some heartbreak both on the national level and on a pretty personal level, I decided to dust off the blog (figuratively speaking of course) and start writing. It is therapeutic for me and perhaps someone else needs to hear these words today.

Friend, there is room in this space for all our voices. And perhaps in this moment, there is an even greater need for voices of hope and light and love to contribute to the conversation. The world needs to know hope exists. Love exists. People do still care for their neighbors and communities. Good still exists in this world. For me, today, this realization hit me at home as I sat at our kitchen counter eating breakfast with my precious baby boy.

This morning I woke up my one-year old for the last time. Tomorrow he will wake up a two-year old. And as I have followed the loss of a precious two-year old this week, I have been sobered by the reality we are only given this moment. Life can change in a split second. I hugged him a little tighter this morning, kissed him a little longer, and let him eat my avocado for breakfast because he has this cute little dance he does when he asks for one. As I watched him across the table and thought about the world he is growing up in, I prayed he would grow to be a light and beacon of love and hope. I prayed we would grow as a family to love our neighbors and open our doors to those in need. And in the moment, I saw a little boy who knows nothing but love. I saw my sweet baby who had to say I love you to me, his dad, and his G (his affectionate name for his grandma) last night before he could go to bed. I saw a child who does not know hate or difference or cruelty. And I felt a weight of responsibility as I navigate parenting him and raising him to treat those around him with love, with respect, and with compassion.

I don’t know where you are today. I don’t know what thoughts are running through your mind or what demons you are battling. I wish I could sit across the table from you over a cup of tea and talk about life. We need each other. We cannot do this alone and we cannot overcome hate and darkness by ourselves. But in this moment, I believe if we gather together, with our friends, our families, our communities, we can spread hope. We can share love. And we can change history for our children and grandchildren. Your voice matters. My voice matters. And we have to keep speaking.

 

The Best Chocolate Cake

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A few months ago, after a period of some significant health struggles, I cut gluten and dairy out of my diet. The transition wasn’t terribly awful, but it has been a constant source of lessons in self-control, self-care, and humility. I hate asking other people to accommodate me so much so that I spent a lot of money on a lot of tests to tell me what I already knew. I needed to cut the gluten and dairy. But hey, now I have a doctor to blame my extra fussiness on right?

In all seriousness, it had been a rough season of mothering, working, volunteering, and struggling every day with the heavy weight of anxiety, fatigue, and a stomach which often refused to cooperate with me.  I knew something was wrong. I knew something had to change. I also knew I wanted to try to attack the problem holistically. So while yes I did adjust my diet, I also starting making time for quiet, studying, reading, and slimming down my schedule. Perhaps the last one was the toughest in our society of more. But back to the diet.

A friend of mine asked me yesterday as she was salivating over some donuts (she is on day 21 or something of Whole30) if it ever gets easier. I said yes with the caveat I feel so much better so it’s not worth it. Which is mostly true. It does get easier and I am feeling better. But I think it’s getting easier because I am learning self-control, not because I am any less in love with pizza and donuts.  Case-in-point, several weeks ago I convinced a group of girlfriends to take a detour on our way home from Nashville so I could get a gluten-free, dairy-free donut. It was glorious.  Some days, as I watch co-workers or friends eat foods I used to love, it’s tough. It makes me want to abandon ship and say “ah what’s the point.” I am learning, though, anything great in life takes work. Hard work. And sacrifice. And lots of moments salivating over donuts and then walking away. Not because a donut is bad. But because there is something better.

Isn’t that what Jesus offered us? An abundant life (John 10:10). Not an easy life. Not a life full of sunshine and roses. But an abundant life. A life of less burdens, less anxiety, less striving (Phil 4:6, John 14:27). Note: I did not say an easy life or a life without struggles or heartache or loss.  Jesus said if you follow me, you will have trouble. He said if they persecuted me they will persecuted you. He didn’t offer us an easy life. But he did offer us an abundant life and he promised to never leave us.  He promised us something better.

Slowly, I am learning to live in light of the something better. To say no to the current shiny object in light of what is better. To say no to the food I know will land me in a heap of pain, frustration, and anxiety. To say no to the activity that doesn’t build community or fit on my short list of things important to me. To give up the pursuit of the good for the pursuit of the best. Good isn’t bad. And perfection is not the goal. But leaning into self-control and sacrifice and discomfort can be good gifts in certain seasons. They certainly have been for me. And in case you are bemoaning my diet or convinced everything I eat must taste like cardboard, I present to you one of the best chocolate cakes I have had in my life. Even my husband liked it.  Enjoy:)

CHOCOLATE CAKE LAYER CAKE WITH CHOCOLATE GANACHE
(grain-free, refined-sugar-free and dairy-free)

INGREDIENTS:cake

For the cake:
2 cups blanched almond flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp Himalayan pink salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1 Tbsp vanilla

For the vegan chocolate ganache:
4 oz unsweetened baking chocolate
4 Tbsp coconut oil
4 Tbsp maple syrup
½ cup almond butter
¼ cup almond milk or coconut milk

DIRECTIONS:

For the cake:
Preheat oven to 350. Grease two 6-inch round cake pans with coconut oil. Mix almond flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium-sized bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, maple syrup, water and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Stir to incorporate. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

For the vegan chocolate ganache:
Melt chocolate and coconut oil in thick saucepan or double broiler. Stir and remove from heat when melted. Slowly add maple syrup and stir to incorporate. Allow to cool. Transfer mixture to mixing bowl and beat in almond butter until a thick, whippy frosting is formed. Add almond or coconut milk as needed for consistency.

To assemble the cake:
Allow cakes to cool. Place one cake layer on a plate. Place a dollop of chocolate ganache on top of cake and smooth over the cake. Layer the second cake over the ganache layer and repeat with a layer of ganache. Store the cake in refrigerator until serving time.

 

 

We Have Given Up

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Give-Up-SM

Dear American Evangelical,

It seems we have given up. A quick perusal of social media makes this point painstakingly obvious to some, but perhaps you are still not convinced.  For a minute, just consider what giving up might look like to others.

We have given up our missional calling for political pursuits.

We have given up being pro-neighbor to be pro-life.

We have given up the calling of the church for the calling of the state.

We have given up Christian first for Republican first.

We have given up the simplicity of the gospel for the complexity of dos and do nots.

We have given up kindness for rightness.

We have given up coffee with a friend for Facebook status updates.

We have given up true community for churches that meet our current wants.

We have given up intimacy with our Savior for intimacy with our screens.

We have given up God bless those who persecute you for God bless America.

We have given up Jesus for a president.

We have given up our humanity for political laws.

We have given up the beauty of following an unsafe Savior for the promise of safe borders.

We have given up the kingdom of God for the kingdom of the world.

 

You see dear friends, it seems we have given up. When the world desperately needs Jesus followers, we have become something else. When those around us desperately need love, community, and safe places, we have become outspoken political billboards. Perhaps this is harsh. And maybe it is. Some of you have not given up. And I am here to cheer you on. Keep going. Keep working in the trenches and on the edges and in the places no one sees. But for much of the “church” it’s time to give up.

 

Give up being right for being kind and listening.

Give up the Facebook status for a conversation over coffee.

Give up the harsh words for love.

Give up the sword for the cross.

Give up comfort for the Comforter.

Give up safety for the One who promised to never leave us.

 

It’s time for the church to pursue the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of this world. It’s time for us to take up our crosses and follow a Savior who modeled a life of sacrifice, risk, and love. A Savior who died for others instead of bringing political revolution. A Savior who came in on a donkey. Who gave seats at the table to the outcast, the woman, the less than, the uneducated, the poor, and who chose an unwed teenager to be the mother of the greatest gift to humanity. You see, dear friend, if you want to change our land, it starts not in the White House, but in the lowly manger.

A Year of Authenticity

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Authentic- true to one’s own personality, spirit, or character; Not false or imitation

For the past several weeks, I have been struggling with what to choose as my word for the year.  While I have a few personal goals for 2017, I am more concerned with the year I live and how I treat those around me thus I decided to go back to my word of the year and filter all my goals and plans through the word. I tossed around a bunch of different ideas and looked up a bunch of words in the dictionary. My problem was narrowing down to a single word because there were so many I wanted to choose as I thought about 2017.  I settled on Authentic. I chose this word because it was the closest word to how I want to live this year and how I want to treat others and make decisions.

We live in a world caught up in technology and social media. I heard a speaker recently talk about how social media releases dopamine in your brain-the same chemical released by other addictive behaviors such as alcohol and gambling.  Social media can be and often is addicting. It’s also inauthentic and not always honest. You may argue sometimes it is a little too honest which could be true, but I think deep down for many of us social media is the highlight reel of our lives. I will take an adorable picture of my son and crop out the disaster of my house or ignore the fact that 10 minutes ago he was throwing a massive fit because I refused to give him crackers for the 100th time today. (he discovered how to open the pantry and also knows I keep crackers in said pantry) Social media can easily only portray the  moments when we actually feel like we have it all together, not the moments when we feel like we are two seconds from losing our minds.

Hence the word I chose for this year- authentic. I want this year to be marked by authenticity. Like I read in a blog recently, if you are a mom, the word fine should be erased from your vocabulary. Moms aren’t ever just fine. Motherhood is a roller-coaster of emotion we often reduce to fine when someone asks.  But what if we stopped saying we were fine and actually shared our full selves. What if I was true to my own personality and admitted my house is a disaster because honestly, as much as I try to be neat and tidy, it’s just really not my modus operandi these days. I like things to be organized most of the time, but lately I like to sleep more.

When it comes to relationships, this is where I really want this word to be the theme. The older I have gotten, the more I have found myself longing for deep, close friends. And I am learning sometimes this has to start with me.  I have to pick up the phone and wave the white flag when I need help. I have to get back to being true to who I am and living out that truth. I need to make the invite or plan the event.

So as we head into 2017, my hope is to be authentic and spend more time chatting across the table and less time scrolling down the screen. What about you? Do you have goals for 2017? Or are you a word-of-the-year type of person? I would love to hear from you in the comments!

30 Things for 30 Years

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30 cupcakeLast week, I turned 30 years old. I love birthdays, but this one had me a bit emotional. I am not sure why except it had been a really tough few months and 30 looks nothing like I thought it would at 20.  Crazy how fast a decade goes by and all of a sudden you are staring down a new decade wondering where the time went. It seems like yesterday I was celebrating 20 and looking forward to all my twenties would bring. In many ways, I am actually looking forward to my 30’s and glad to say goodbye to the past decade. So as I say goodbye, I came up with 30 things as I reflect over the past and dream for the future.

1. Time goes by so fast. I spent a long weekend with one of my best friends and we were talking about how it had been 5 years since we met. It didn’t seem possible and yet, from the time we met on a tiny tropical island to that long weekend, we had both gotten married, had babies, and settled down in towns neither of us ever intended on leaving.

2. Travel every chance you get. With a 15 month old, a full-time job and non-profit, I just don’t have the time these days to travel. I miss it most days and I am so thankful I took the chances I had when I had them. I know I will travel again, but for now, the memories I have of my trips are constant sources of lessons and reminders to take every opportunity in front of you.

3. Life looks different. Every year, every decision, every step brought me to the place I am at today. It looks incredibly different from I thought it would even a year ago, but each day I am learning the sweet joy of embracing life with all its ups and downs.

4. The older you get, the more important friends are. I have always struggled with friendships. In your early twenties, it’s just hard to make friends. But now on the brink of 30, I have a small group of women who I am growing closer to each month and who are quickly becoming the friends I have always wanted. They are the people I run to when life is tough and when I want to celebrate and together we are navigating lives of jobs and babies and marriages.

5. Laugh. A lot. They say laughter is the best medicine and I can assure you, it has gotten me through some dark days.

6. Learn how to say no. This is a lesson I am learning daily. As I head into my 30s, it is a lesson I want to master. I cannot do it all, be all, and conquer all. And that is 100% OK.

7. Being a mom is awesome. and exhausting. and emotional. and really really hard. I wouldn’t trade H for the world and he has brought more joy and love into my life than I ever thought possible. But he has also forced me to deal with some skeletons in my closet and admit I need help. I can’t do it all. And sometimes (or all the time), the house is just messy.

10. Wait for the right someone.  I dated a few guys in my 20’s I thought I might marry.  Looking back, I am so glad I didn’t.

11. Even with the right someone, marriage is hard.  And in less than 3 years, we have changed jobs, had a baby, and started a non-profit. It’s been a lot and some days are really hard. But even on the hard days, I am thankful to be married to my best friend and thankful we are on this journey together.

12. You do you. This is something I think is especially important to me since becoming a mom. We spend too much time judging or proclaiming the right way to do things. It’s not worth it. Just be the best you can be at what God has called you to do and cheer on those around you as they do the same.

13. Enjoy college. Seriously, some days I wish I could go back to the time when the biggest issue was finishing my term paper or studying for a final exam. It’s easy to wish away each stage of life, but wherever you are, enjoy it. It will go by too quick and the next stage will bring more responsibility and more demands with it.

14. Be generous. There is no greater joy in my life than the chance to be generous. Whether it’s with your time, talent, or treasure, or even a kind word, be generous with those around you.

15. Take risks.  Jump out of planes (literally and figuratively). Follow your passions. Pursue your dreams. Someone out there needs the dream you have in your heart.

16. Do hard things. Things that test you. The moment I had H after a drug-free labor, I felt like I could take on the world. It was hard, but it has given me a toughness I didn’t have before. Perhaps your hard thing is having a tough conversation or making a career move or ending a relationship. Whatever it is, do the hard thing. The rewards are worth it.

17. Say your sorry. Ask for forgiveness. The relationships restored are worth it.

18. Try new foods. I have made it a rule I will always try something offered to me. It has led me to try some interesting things and given me lots of stories to tell. But it has also opened my world and expanded my horizons.

19. Take care of yourself. I am learning this lesson the hard way right now. My body finally said enough and so I am slowly learning how to nourish and rebuild a healthy me.

20. Collect experiences. Stuff is nice, but experiences are better. Collect experiences-even if that’s just trying a new place for dinner.

21. Turn off the TV.  It’s hardly ever on at our house and in our next house, it won’t even be in the main room. It forces us to get down on the floor and read a book or talk about our day. It has brought us closer as a family and I don’t feel like I am missing a thing.

22. Unplug. (see above) We live in a world where screens are a constant in many of our lives. Learn how to turn it off, put it down, and live without it. It’s not easy and I am by no means a master. I fail at this almost daily, but I am trying to reduce my dependence on my phone and on all things media related.

23. Call your parents. and your grandparents. I talk to my mom almost daily and I have made it a point to call my grandparents every few weeks. As I get older, those relationships become more cherished and valuable to me. After my husband lost both his grandmas in a year, I realized life is short and you just never know when this conversation could be your last.

24. Celebrate life. I wanted to have a big birthday party this year. No matter its was week before Christmas and I knew there are a million other parties going on. I threw H a big 1st birthday party. And almost daily I am clapping loudly and celebrating the tiny accomplishments like throwing the trash in the trashcan. Also, celebrate yourself if you are still reading this post! 🙂

25. Find a higher purpose in life. For me, it’s Jesus. He is the reason I live and breathe. And that keeps me going on the really hard and really tough days.

26. Befriend those around you. No matter how different they may be. Love them like Jesus says and include them in your circle. It will lead you down some crazy paths like delivering a Christmas tree to an ex-bouncer who wants to go to church with you because he sees something in your Jesus. And it will enrich your life in ways you never knew possible.

27. Wear your style. Don’t like style wear you.  Disposable clothing is a trend. It’s the cheap outfit you buy for one event and never wear again either because it’s too trendy or poor quality.  But the trend is hurting millions of workers around the world. I will admit its been hard for me at times to shift to buying ethically, but I have tried to stick to items I know will last season after season and when I can, purchase from fair trade and ethical companies.

28. Work hard. Because even if you don’t get the promotion or the recognition, you will feel accomplished and proud of yourself.

29. Start traditions wherever you are. As I have gotten married and now become a mom, traditions are becoming more important to me. They things I remember so fondly from my childhood and the things I want my own children to remember. Don’t get caught up in having a Pinterest perfect house or holiday and create your own quirky traditions.

30. Love out loud. No matter what you do, let it be done in love. Kindness wins every time.

 

 

The Art of Saying No

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saying_no_frenchbydesign_jobs_wmYou learn a lot of things as a new mom. I mean a lot (these I will continue to elaborate on). But when you are a new mom and a working mom, one thing you have to learn quickly is the art of saying no. This is something I have NEVER been good at nor ever thought I would need to be good at saying. I was just always the person who kept all the balls in the air and came through in a pinch. And then, H came along. All of a sudden, I was doing well to just figure out this whole mom thing. Forget trying to manage everything else. I had a tiny newborn who relied on me for literally everything. So over the past almost 10 months, I have learned how to say no gracefully. It’s still a slow work in progress, but here are my few thoughts on maintaining balance with a new baby.

It starts with laser focus. If what you are asking me to do is not related to my family or helping me pursue my dreams, right now I just cannot help out.  Before I came back to work, I spent some time praying and thinking about what I wanted with my life. I also attended a weekend workshop to help refine career goals. I know what I want to do and I know my time with H is precious. So I am very careful about what I commit to, especially if it means any after work or weekend time.

Realize this is a phase. H won’t always need me like he does right now. At some point, I will stop being his primary food source and he will become enamored with all the cool stuff dad lets him do. I am pretty sure he will always be a mama’s boy, but I know there will come a time when an after work meeting won’t be a huge deal. When rushing home at 5:00 won’t be necessary. But right now it is. Right now an after work meeting means less time I have before he goes to bed and missing out on the joys of dinner time and evening laughs.

Life is not about you. This is something I am slowly learning. If I say no, it won’t be the end of the world. The event will still happen, the meeting will go on, someone else will step up. By saying no, I am allowing other people to step in and I am giving myself a chance to step back. Honestly, it’s also a little bit of a relief. Carrying the burdens of keeping things going on your shoulders is a lot. Spread the wealth of things to do and realize if something does slip up, it’s ok.

Relish the moments, not the to-do list. I love to make lists and say “yes” so learning to say no has been a journey. Along the way, I have realized the moments matter. Sure, I can go to one more event or accomplish one more task, but then I risk missing out on H learning to crawl or finally saying “mama” (we are still working on that one!). The more I do, the more I realize it is not about what you do. It is about the relationships and the people you accomplish things with and helping them to succeed.  As I enjoy the moments, I find my yes becoming more about saying yes to coffee or yes to a friend who asks for help and less about yes for the sake of appearing busy.

Saying no is an art and takes practice. If you are anything like me, it won’t come easy and 10 months later, you will find yourself still struggling to say no even when you know you should. In those moments, I stop and breathe and remind myself of H and of the laser focused dream I am pursuing. If the potential yes does not apply to either of those areas, my answer is no.

What do you need to say no to? How have you found it easier to say no? Let me know in the comments!

Love in a World of Hate

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moreloveWhile I don’t often add my voice to the popular news cycles, I feel the need to once again speak up. If for no other reason than because someday I want my child to know his mother was willing to speak up and he should be unafraid to do the same.

Tragedy. Horror. Shock. Sadness. Anger. Disbelief.

I am not sure what went through your head as the news of Orlando broke over the weekend. Honestly, I rarely check my phone over the weekend and we haven’t actually turned our TV on in a really long time so I didn’t know anything about it until Sunday morning in church when the worship leader mentioned it.

20 dead. Then 50 dead. A shooting in a nightclub.

My heart sank. And for a split moment, fear washed over me. I spend a fair amount of time in nightclubs with individuals some in society would like to hate.  But this isn’t about me.

Why is it that when we don’t agree with someone, the often seen reaction is hate? or judgement? or condemnation? Have we forgotten these are individuals made in the image of God? I realize this crime was not perpetrated by an individual claiming to follow the God of the Bible, however, have we unintentionally created a society where this crime seems acceptable on some level? Have we classified those we don’t agree with into separate categories thus making them appear less?

I cannot imagine being the mom who got the text from her son which would become her last exchange with him. My heart breaks for her. Every morning as I say goodbye to my sweet H, I cannot help the thought creeping in of what if this is my last goodbye.  I love him with a fierce love and I rest in the fact that my Jesus loves him more than I ever could. As I think about the families affected, the moms and dads, the brothers and sisters, the friends and partners, I am reminded we must put on love.  In the midst of such dark tragedy, we must love. Because love is the only thing that will triumph over darkness. We see it in the cross. And the empty tomb. We have the greatest example ever set before us. Love truly does conquer all. And sometimes love has to be tough and talk about tough things and mistakes made. And sometimes love has be to kind and offer a shoulder or a hand to our neighbor. And always, love is to be without hate. I do not want to live in a world where it is at all acceptable to hate those whom you disagree with and I do not want my children to grow up in a world where hate runs rampant.

I do not know how to change the course, but I believe today it can start with you and I practicing love. With our friends and families, with our neighbors, within our communities, with those whom we disagree, and with society at large. Let us be known by our love. And let us point others to the only Love that can mend a broken society.

 

Image credit @amazingigrace 

Why #boycottTarget is Not the Issue

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image#boycottTarget

If you pay any attention to social media, you have seen the #boycottTarget hashtag. Petitions are being formed and hundreds of thousands are flocking to sign them. I have seen flyers circulating telling people to stop shopping at Target, to call your local store manager and express your disappointment, to stand out front and make your voice known, and even one which suggested printing more and hanging them in your church.

Normally I like to shy away from political things. I would rather write about sunshine and unicorns than anything politically popular, but sometimes something just strikes a chord in me so today I have to add my voice to the myriad of voices speaking for and against the decision made by Target Executives.

Because the thing is, Target is not the issue. Changing the bathroom policy isn’t the problem.  And quite frankly, 500,000 of you boycotting Target because of it is frustrating. I get it. I get you are scared. I understand you want to protect your wives and daughters. I understand the statistics on rape and sexual assault. But what I don’t understand is why it took something like bathrooms to cause you to raise your voice.

Where have you been the last 5, 10 years as human trafficking has continually been on the rise? Why are you not boycotting companies who use slave labor in their supply chains?  Why have we allowed runaways to fall through the cracks and into the hands of pimps who care less about them? Why are we so concerned over our daughters using Target’s bathroom, but not equally enraged about the girl working in our local strip clubs? Or the 12 year old being sold online to the highest bidder? Or the person working 18 hours a day for pennies to make the dress we will wear once?

#boycottTarget may be your platform today, but what happens if you succeed? What happens if Target reverses their decision? Do you immediately breathe a sigh of relief because your daughters are safe and resume your Target shopping?  Have you really done anything to change the underlying problem or simply convinced Target they need a new PR manager? And what about the trans-gendered who have been equated with sexual predators?  How do they recover from all of this? I may not understand or agree with the lifestyle, but I know I was commanded by Jesus to love the least of these. And when I read a post referring to how small the trans-gendered population is (as justification for the lack of need for any type of policy), I can’t help but think, are they not among the least of these? Are they  not children of God as well?

We live in a dark world. I can relate to the fear. I get the anger. But I also know perfect Love casts out all fear. And I want so desperately for those around me to see it’s not about Target. It’s about the bigger issue. It’s about fighting for a world where sexual perversion is not welcomed, accepted, or allowed. It’s about fighting for the least of these whether they be the girl in the strip club or the runaway from the down the road or the 12 year old on Backpage. And it’s ultimately about how the Church shines the light of Jesus in a dark, broken world.

So please before you call your local Target manager and express your disgust over a policy they had ZERO control over, call your state senator and ask them to increase funding for safe houses and sexual violence prevention and education programs.  Take a minute to stop and pray for the trafficked, the trans-gendered, and your own sons and daughters.  And if you still feel you need to #boycottTarget, do it quietly.   Because those of us working each and every day to fight for the least of these want you to use your voice for the bigger issue, not over who can use a bathroom.

Reflecting on One Year

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Some days life seems to crawl by and others it seems like I can’t keep track of where the days went. For example, we are celebrating one year of marriage on March 15th. While a year is nothing super monumental, I can hardly believe we have been married a year.  It seems like just yesterday I was tying up loose ends regarding DJs, flowers, and wedding food.  And while this year has had its share of challenges, I can honestly say, one year later, I am more in love and more proud of my husband.

We jumped head first into marriage, ministry, and life together.  Through this, God has blessed us with an amazing community and families who support and love us.  Whether it is lunch with the family, serving at church, or the nights we spend praying for the strip club ministry I lead, we have grown stronger and closer. We put God at the core of our marriage and it has been exciting to see the growth and change in both of our lives as we grow closer to Him and to each other.

We have both learned how to navigate the transition of living together and sharing a space. And while some days are still tough, we made a decision before we ever got married to not share a bathroom and I am convinced this has saved us from many marital tiffs.  While I tend to like neatness and order, my bathroom basically always looks like a tornado went through it. And I wish I could tell my husband this was going to change, but alas, after 28 years, I am afraid this may be a battle not worth fighting.

Some may have counseled us otherwise, but two weeks into marriage, we got a dog. She has been one of the best things for us and sometimes I am a little embarrassed to admit most of our evenings consist of a lot of puppy snuggling.  We love her so much and taking care of her has helped me feel a little better about becoming a mom. She is a constant source of joy and we are both so glad we made the decision to get her.

Perhaps the biggest change after one year of marriage, is the coming transition into parenthood.  This was definitely not my plan.  I imagined many different scenarios, but a baby was not in any of them. Nevertheless, I have fallen more in love with my husband since we found out and we have both learned to communicate better and cherish each other more.  I find myself saying no much more so we have time to spend time together.  I have also had to let go of some of my “perfect” wife notions. When you are sick 24/7, you just have to let go and be ok with spending a lot of time resting.  I am also learning daily I am not in this alone.  Sometimes it is easy to feel that way as my body is the one going through a million changes, but I am learning to rely on my husband and include him in the stresses, the changes, and the million thoughts swirling through my head.

One year later, I can honestly say we talk more, laugh more, and are more in love today than when we said “I do.”  He has become my best friend, my trusted confidant, partner in crime, and huge cheerleader. I would not be where I am or who  I am without his constant support, care, and sharpening.

So babe, after one year, I can say from the bottom of my heart, you were the best decision I have ever made and I can’t wait to see what the next many years holds!