08 March 2017


Let me get this out of the way: I believe in the devil. I believe in unclean spirits. If you don't, this post is not for you, I guess? But I would ask that you do a Bible search on it and examine why you believe what you do.

Our culture certainly has a fascination with evil -- who could deny that? -- but it is the particular way that the devil, Lucifer, is depicted, that I want to address. Listen, I'd prefer to call the devil "it" to shy completely away from thinking this being is man-like, but I know that is off-putting, so I will use "him."

The devil is crafty, sure. Satan wants to harm us, sure. But the two things that make me want to shout at cars are this: that you can win the devil's respect by outsmarting him, and that the dangerous nature of the devil is seductive and therefore sexy.

To the first: the devil's war is not with us; it is with the God who made us and loves us. We are tools of warfare to him. If a lobster crawled off the counter while you were busy boiling another one, would you respect that lobster? Of course not; that's absurd. It is absurd to think the devil would ever have that kind of begrudging admiration that is often depicted.

Now hear me, Jesus was both man and God, and the Holy Spirit (who dwells within us) is no less powerful as the one who had demons begging him for mercy. We do not need to fear the devil; we know how this story plays out. So does he. But if you look at the story of Satan v Yahweh, humans are supporting characters. I think having an accurate understanding of how the devil views us can help us realign ourselves with orthodoxy and out of our (relatively) recent cultural views.

Ugh, this "evil is sexy" thing. I mean, part of me gets it; danger is thrilling. Or perhaps I should say some danger is thrilling to me. But the devil isn't a rebel or a lone wolf or even only a tempter.

What Satan would like most of all to do with you is to imprison you, in front of the people you love and who love you the most, and especially in front of your children and those who look up to you, and torture you in the most painful ways in the most vulnerable areas until you die of something else.

He doesn't want to make a deal with you, he wants to drive you insane, to where you're destroying yourself and every relationship you have out of pain, over and over again for decades. Satan would love to take everything that makes you smile and turn it into a source of anguish.

That's not sexy.

25 February 2017


I have the gift of generosity. And I wanted to talk about it openly bc I think people can get tripped up in different ways around this topic. 

This came to mind as I was reading in Matthew 6, which you will recall if you grew up churched or if you've spent time in the Gospels. Jesus makes the hyperbole of one's left hand not knowing what one's right hand is giving. 
Being in support-based ministry means I have access to another aspect of this by seeing some give anonymously in order to follow this principle.

But really, this passage is about self-glorification and not about how giving makes you feel. When I say I have the gift of generosity, I'm saying it is a great desire of mine, and (or maybe even because) it is incredibly rewarding personally. 

What I wish I had, almost constantly, is the gift of service. Even to me, it feels more useful, which is crazy, because our church plant would not exist without people giving to support 8 members who are also on staff (5 of them are full-time). A church like Taproot (and Fellowship, our Mommy church) could not flourish without generosity. But service feels tangible. Service feels more, well, servant-like. Jesus didn't run around Judea throwing denarii at people.

Still, generosity is listed in the Bible, so we all can agree it's legit. But the Matthew 6 passage has bothered me as a niggling doubt in my head since I started following Jesus at 20: should I enjoy giving quite so much? Is my attitude toward giving shaped mostly by growing up with (certainly by a global standard) a very comfortable life?

But generosity sows itself in many different ways, and I have come to some healthy realizations over time through giving a gift that many would interpret as an act of service, such as preparing meals for a retreat, or even doing a small part of such prep, like pricing out food to know where it get it more cheaply (or if a meal would be too expensive to make for, say, 300 college students). 

I know they are gifts and not acts of service for me because (1) acts of service is a love language I do not speak at all (and my husband, a serverman, can attest), and (b) I do it and experience others' reactions to it differently than those who do these things out of a love of serving.

 And it's just looked on well to do things like make meals, mainly because a lot of people would rather have their toenails pulled off. But to me, feeding someone is caring for their bodies and selves and lives. It is a delight to me to spend hours making a cake for my friends or family: it is a way to lavish love on them. Making food people enjoy, and seeing them communing together around a meal that I made (or orchestrated), I teem with joy in and gratitude to the Lord.

Make no mistake, I love giving money. Love it. I loved it even before my husband went on staff, and I love it to this day. There are so many people I am DYIIIINNNNNG to support financially because I want to put my money where my heart is! I have learned the hard way that we can't support everyone I want to because we must support our family as well. This is not me tooting my own horn. This is me saying, giving someone money makes me feel alive in Christ; it makes me feel like I am advancing the Kingdom both in my own heart and on Earth. Just like with making food, it makes me rejoice in the Lord.

Please don't think we are big donors. Right now the vast majority of our income has to go toward caring for our family. And please don't think that I think this makes me better than those with other gifts. I really don't. I regularly wish I had the gift of service, because if I'm not careful, I'll make food for my kids or plan a fun time as a gift, and when they complain, it hurts my feelings. Honestly, having a gift of generosity is more annoying than helpful to me personally. But I want to be respectful of it, because it is a facet of God's personality to love being generous, and to delight in giving good gifts.

04 February 2017


President Trump. Executive order. 6 months. You know what I'm talking about.

Here's what I really don't get: the acquiescence from Christians.

I've been thinking and thinking on how to frame this in a gentle and gracious way. I'm really going to try. But what is happening here?

I cannot get past the conviction that God loves the foreigner. God loves the alien to be among his people. And I'm not just talking in the theocracy of OT Israel. I mean as part of His character: He loves and is for those who have found themselves (through no fault of their own) at the door of violence, starvation, and death.

So I don't understand why I'm not seeing an abundance of my fellow believers in America saying, "please show me exactly why we cannot take any refugees from these countries where people are really needing to leave." And why I'm hearing so much "I don't know" "it's only six months" "we need to keep our people safe" "better vetting" etc etc ad nauseum.

Shouldn't our hearts be starting from a place of, Is there no way we can accept refugees? Because, if I remember correctly, the religion we are to practice is to look after widows and orphans in their distress, and to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. And this attitude I'm hearing seems neighbor-distancing and born of a spirit of fear and self-protection.

And that seems pretty polluted to me.

Also, if you don't like to talk about practical things based on ideals (which I would disagree with wholeheartedly), and you want to talk about Facts (real ones, with numbers and dates and percentages), we can certainly do that. I feel very, very comfortable in my stance based on those as well. But that doesn't pain me. It's the attitude, which seems so different from the one I see in the God of the Bible, that grieves my heart.

04 January 2017


Ugh, here I am, talking about consent again. [whatever consent is my jam] But something came up and I can't let it go without thinking this layer of consent through. Mainly because I'm struggling to fall asleep because of it.

Seven years ago, I was in Houston for a conference with a friend. I decided to pick up some music equipment for Stephen's Christmas present while we were there. It was from something online -- was craigslist a thing back then? -- and I and my two friends drove to the other side of Houston to get it. It was kind of a crazy adventure feeling, since none of us had ever been to this part of Houston before. I texted the guy in order to get his address and stuff.

Two hours later, he sent me a picture of his penis.

Listen, I know "dick pics" are a super common thing nowadays. I know. But they weren't in 2009! I had literally never heard of anyone receiving a picture from a stranger of his penis. And I had, I guess a panic attack? I don't know what you'd call it, but I was sobbing, immediately, uncontrollably, in the middle of a church auditorium during this conference's 10-minute potty break. It was not logical; it was visceral and subliminal, and it took a good 15 minutes for my conscious efforts to get my body to calm down enough to call Stephen to hear from him. And he was the right person to call, being my safest place and also my spouse and also a man. I could be reminded of who I am and who men are. He was angry for me, let me cry at him, and helped me make a plan of action.

I'm still glad I responded to that guy, telling him that if he ever sent me pictures of his genitalia again, I'd call the police, and I had his address and phone number. I sincerely hope he never did that to anyone again. Get this though: he said he meant to send it to his girlfriend, and I believed him.

That's how you know it wasn't a "thing" yet. Because what else was he going to say? Hey, I literally only-kind-of met you, but I thought you'd like an up-close photo of my penis. Hey, I'd have to scroll back to see your name, but want to have sex? But I didn't even know this was something any guy would conceive of sending to a stranger on purpose. [lol to my naivete. Sigh to that that was naive.]

Tbh, I'm really glad I believed him at the time. I felt so violated, and it helped a little bit that it was an accident. But for real, he put that picture in my mind on purpose and without a moment's thought to whether I wanted it there. Or if I was even available! I'd been married ten months at the time! I DON'T WANT TO SEE YOUR PENIS, STRANGER.

Now that it's so common, it made me wonder why I reacted so wildly. A lot of women shrug it off by blocking the guy or sending a witty retort. Some women shame the guys publicly or contact their significant others (which I absolutely support as a natural consequence of their actions).

But in digging around online, I haven't found a whole lot of "the first time it happened, my body couldn't decide whether to cry or hyperventilate." So I'm trying to suss it out.

My current guess is that there have been a few times (I'd say three, off the top of my head) where I was in situations that were not consensual (where I was not only uncomfortable, but wanted to get away asap). The first one, at 14, was relatively mild, but formative for me in my understanding of who has power in sexualized encounters (hint: not me). The second (17) and third (18) were very violating and emotionally traumatic. But it took me a couple of months to recognize the last one as bad, a couple of years for the middle one, and maybe 12 or 13 years to realize the first was really not okay, and I felt not only not-okay, but I also felt powerless.

I felt helpless [ugh even the word is gross] in all three situations to control what was happening to my body. [In the third I was actually powerless, being blacked out from drinking. ugh.] And this stupid music-selling guy took my power away! The power to decide what I do with my own eyes.

For heaven's sake, this is why I'm calling it rape culture without any shrinking back. Because, and I'm not kidding you, all four of the guys I've referenced above didn't know at the time they were traumatizing me. They were doing pretty normal things guys do in our culture -- seeing how far a girl would go, assuming romantic advances meant I'd be down to have sex that night, and sending a peen pic to see if I'd be interested. I really don't think you'd call any of them predators if you knew them. [I can't vouch for penis pic guy since I NEVER KNEW HIM]

And I have had so many conversations with God and my scarred, embittered, terrified heart, all because these guys weren't taught not to grab girls, or get what they want if they can (including asking a girl on a date and then taking her in your car to your house instead), or that a girl (who is so drunk she's struggling to eat her takeout) in your dorm room late at night isn't necessarily there to have sex with you.

God and I, in my journey to let him into my heart, have untangled webs and defused bombs and buried corpses, all centered around my safety with men and with him. And the very worst part of all of that is that this part of our culture has made letting God love me and being vulnerable with him so much more arduous than it ever needed to be. And the fact that I'm still needing healing from things that happened to me in my teens (and then at 24) makes me angry.

I really don't know what my life would be like without Jesus, but I am positive I'd be incapable of having healthy relationships with men. Also I'm just so thankful God gave me Stephen, who has embodied the ideals of consent for the past eight years. And my brothers at Taproot, our lil church sapling, who treat me like a person first and a female second.

I pray our sons will treat women with the level of respect I now receive. I'm working hard to ensure all my kids understand that another person is as much of a human being as they are. We'll see how it goes.

..And I can't promise I won't murder castrate maim hurt any boys who haven't yet learned to treat my daughters as image-bearers of the omnipotent, awesome Creator God.

May our Lord have mercy on us all.

01 January 2017

New Year

I'm not quite sure how I ended up begging God for there to be another way to him besides Jesus' death, but here we are. Before you grab your torches and yell HERETIC!, let me explain.

I really, really hate hurting the people I love. It has been the single hardest thing about parenting for me. It's some specific form of perfectionism (if you've ever walked into my house, or spent any time with me, you know I'm not much of one in other areas). I will never be totally loving toward the people I hold most dear, and it breaks my heart completely. I hate it.

And this is Jesus we're talking about here. What I mean to say is, if you know Jesus, you know he's the best person you've ever met. And I just really, really hate that he died for me. It's so painful to know my sins were on his shoulders. Even as I hear the Spirit's voice telling me Jesus wasn't forced or coerced, that he came to Earth as The Rescuer, it's still hard to accept that I added to his burden in any way.

I wonder if this is why I've been struggling for so long: I'm not fully accepting my own salvation. I've been mired in guilt at my role in the crucifixion. How can I receive from him when I feel so bad about what I've done to him?

I'm glad the Lord opened this door in my heart. I certainly didn't have the insight to know what was going on. God gave me this passage to think on for this year:

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.

Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers
and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the LORD will display his glory,
the splendor of our God.

With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you.”

And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
The lame will leap like a deer,
and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness,
and streams will water the wasteland.

The parched ground will become a pool,
and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish
where desert jackals once lived.

And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways;
fools will never walk there.

Lions will not lurk along its course,
nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers.
Only the redeemed will walk on it.

Those who have been ransomed by the LORD will return.
They will enter Jerusalem singing,
crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear,
and they will be filled with joy and gladness.

And I believe it. I believe God will do what he's always done to me -- make me more like himself. I don't understand why he loves me, but I know that he does, and he will continue to make springs in this desert, and lead me on.