Friday, November 11, 2016

Can We Please Skip to Christmas?

In case it slipped your notice, we just had an election here in the US.

On an unrelated note, the planet is exploding and the world as we know it has ended.

It seems that wherever someone stands on the election, this is their view of the situation. Each side is spewing acid at the other. I got so tired of the endless Facebook posts about the election results I delete the app off my phone. Of course, I'd been sick of the election since March.

Like any reasonable person, I started listening to Christmas music after Halloween. Meanwhile, everyone else was freaking out about that wonderful Tuesday evening/Wednesday morning.

And now everyone is freaking out because everyone else is wrong and how dare you have that reaction to the election? Are you crazy?

Here's a novel idea: no, they're not crazy. They have a different opinion from you.

You know what we can agree on? Christmas. Even if you don't celebrate it, the season surrounding it is straight up wonderful (I mean, the most wonderful of the year amiright?). Aside from the commercialism--a mindset that should be thoroughly gone after a rewatch of a Charlie Brown Christmas--the mood seems to lift. I find it very hard to listen to Christmas music and be in a bad mood.

So maybe we should take a break from this election. Let's celebrate Thanksgiving with our families, awkward as it may be. We can all agree that this election was wack, so let's just settle on that and stop there. Let's talk about what we're grateful for--living in a country that offers way more freedom than many other nations, having people around us to love, being able to love others without getting angry about their "wrong" opinion (*hint hint*)--and not what we wish were different.

Let's pray more than we complain, give more than we take. After all, we learned when we were kids that giving is more satisfying than taking. Let's take a break from the division forever for a season, and gather around what we share in common.

Let's stop spreading hate and start spreading joy, okay? The world isn't going to end. Things may change, better or worse, but you're still in America and that's a blessing. Fill in the gaps hate created with the love God sent to earth to save us.

Let's celebrate the One who actually can save us--not a politician or businessman. Jesus.

So yeah, I'm listening to Christmas music before Thanksgiving. Because I like it and it's a breath of fresh air after this election season.

Now excuse me while I dig my Christmas tree out of the garage.

Saturday, October 01, 2016

Let This Be Where I Die

I don't like busy.

There are big things--elections and terrorism and school shootings. But there are also things that seem small--biology tests, writing speeches, keeping the kitchen clean. The noise that was once in the background grows, quietly growing until it's all I can hear.

This is the busiest I've been in my life. It's my senior year of high school, and there's so much to do. I have dual credit classes, speeches, more speeches, work, writing, more writing. Which is why I haven't written a blog post in almost two months.

I don't know how to be busy. I need time to slow down, take a breath. If I don't have time, I get anxious and I'm still learning how to handle anxiety. I barely know how to talk about it.

There's another reason I haven't written here in so long. I haven't been sure about what I wanted to write. I've had writer's block with a lot of things lately.

People think I'm good with words because I'm a writer. And sometimes, I feel that way. Other times, there are a hundred thousand things running through my mind and I don't know what words to say and what words to write and what words to forget.

I don't really like having a lot going on.

Maybe I'm just lazy, or maybe I just like quiet. I prefer listening or writing to speaking. It takes me time to figure out everything in my head.

The worst, though, is that I get so caught up in thinking about everything I have to do, and trying to figure out how I'm going to do everything I have to do, I forget to pause. I forget to take a moment and come close to my King. I forget to start my 6:30AM days with time in His presence. And I become exhausted, stressed, anxious.

With Him, there is peace, hope, grace. He tells me I don't have to get everything right, I don't have to be perfect

|| "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." -Galatians 2:20 ||

I have been crucified with Christ.

My brokenness, my sin, my inadequacies, myself. Nailed to the cross.

I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

I don't have to define myself by my poor communication skills, or anxiety, or fear, or sin, or what my shame tells me is my definition.

The life I now lie in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God.

My heart isn't mine. My faith is not in myself. My identity is not my past. I am found in faith in the Son of God.

I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I am not who I was because Jesus loved me enough to say, "I'm not going to let you stay here. I have something better for you."

How easy it is to forget how much better He is. So right now, I want to let go, let the castles of brick I built fall. I want this to be where I die, crucified with Christ, so that it may be Him living in me. 

O let this be where I die

My Lord with thee crucified

Be lifted high as my kingdoms fall

Once and for all, once and for all


Thursday, August 04, 2016

Where Home Really is

We've all heard it said that "home is where the heart is."

In my loneliest moments, crying on my bathroom floor, the cry of my heart has been I want to go home. It didn't matter where I was. It didn't have much to do with who was with me. I wanted to feel home.

There's more to home than where our heart is. Our heart can be anywhere. I know my heart has been with the wrong people before. It's been focused on the wrong things before. My heart has been wrong before. My heart is wrong a lot.


Our hearts are fickle. They change so often, especially as teenagers. We think we know what we're doing, we think we know what we want. But things change and suddenly what we thought we knew is gone; what we wanted is broken. In the last year I feel like I've watched person after person get exactly what I wanted. It's broken my heart again and again.

If our home is where our heart is, our home is on fragile ground.

When I started writing this, I was coming to the conclusion that home is just the place, the people with whom we belong. That's isn't necessarily wrong, but it's still unstable. I've lost friends, people I felt I belonged with to, time or miscommunication or a complete lack of communication. Friend groups drift apart. Maybe that's not true 100% of the time, but for me that's been the reality most of the time.

So in those moments, when I'm crying out for home, what is it I want? Yes, I want people to belong with, friends who won't leave me. But what I really need is truth.

A few weeks ago, I started believing lies. Lies that I didn't belong, that I didn't deserve to serve my youth group, that who I was wasn't good enough for what God needed from me. I feared that my words, spoken and written, wouldn't be enough

Home is a place that ought to be secure. A place we can go when everything else falls apart. Where can we run? Where is our hiding place when the battle isn't ours?

|| "He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." -Psalm 91:4 ||


Rampart is usually a word we only hear in the national anthem. What it is is the first defensive wall around a castle. God's faithfulness is our first defense, the castle wall, and our last defense, the shield we carry.

This year, the most heartbreaking of my life so far, has been held together by one thing: faithfulness. When I was angry at God, I still held on to the truth that He is God, and He is good.

God's faithfulness is where my hope is fulfilled, where my courage is found, where my confidence stands. where the grace I so desperately need is found. Home is not where the heart is, where we slip and lose and fall without a light.

Home is in the steadfast defense of the Father's faithfulness.

"If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
    if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
    your right hand will hold me fast."
Psalm 139:9-10

Friday, July 08, 2016

When it Hits Home

I don't usually write responses to these sorts of things, even the biggest ones. Not because I don't care, but because I don't ever know what to say.

But this time it hit 20 minutes from my house.

Twelve police officers, twelve people shot, five killed. In Dallas.

How many times can we stick #BlackLivesMatter or #BlueLivesMatter or #AllLivesMatter on our tweets before we actually realize that's true? The value of life can't be summed up in a million hashtags. Prejudice exists, and it's good that we've brought attention to that. But now all we're doing is bringing attention to it instead of fixing the problem.

The problem didn't start with gunshots and protests. It didn't start with national outrage or Twitter trends.

It started with hearts. It started with people.

It started with people who didn't know the value in others. Maybe because they didn't know the value in themselves. The more we shout "#LIVESMATTER," the less we hear "you're valued."

Regardless of how many times we demand that lives matter, if we don't know why, it won't last. When we view people behind filters of race or occupation, when we push people into categories, we no longer see them as people. We no longer see them as lives. They become numbers and statistics. We can't love numbers and statistics.

Shouldn't that be what it's about? Instead, we've made it about tearing every other side down.

In the midst of this, my favorite social media post is from Olan Rogers. It isn't long, but it means more than a lot of 1000 word Facebook posts out there.


There is so much potential for this country to be something special for generations to come but it all comes down to this one. We start listening to one another. We start to understand one another. We start to love one another.


We need faith to believe that God is still working. We need hope to see that change can happen. We need love know that lives matter.

Lives matter because each one was individually crafted by God. Lives matter because each one is loved deeply by Jesus. Lives matter because each human being on this planet is worth dying for. Maybe if we realized that, people would stop killing people.

I hate that things like this happen. But I have hope that we can get better.

"Now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:13

Friday, July 01, 2016

What She Really Wants

If you buy this product, you will be beautiful.

If you wear this outfit, you will be sexy.

If you listen to this music, you will be popular.

If you act like nothing bothers you, you will be accepted.

If you do what he wants, you will be loved

You will be enough.

*~*~*

In the last few weeks, I've learned how hard youth ministry really is. And I haven't seen the half of it.

It shouldn't have surprised me. I've seen today's TV shows, heard the music, read books, watched commercials, listened to my friends. I've seen, heard, experienced the lies. We're constantly being told to want more, be more, do more. The bombardment of demands and standards and expectations is insane.

A few days ago, the internet at my house went out. Yes, the great American tragedy. No Instagram, no Netflix, no Youtube. We don't have cable anymore either. Terrible right? (No. It's not. I highly recommend taking a few days off from the Internet. You'll live, and if you can't you have a problem.) Without all that intense media out pour around me, I realized how much that media is usually sending out. We scroll down Facebook or Twitter or whatever, thousands of letters of information in a constant flow. We watch Netflix and Youtube for hours. Do I need to go on?

The media is tailored to appeal to our interests. And then it's tailored to use those interests to benefit the people creating that media. Real talk it's kinda scary. Don't get me wrong; there's nothing wrong with following trends, listening to fun music, or Snapchatting your friends. The problem comes from motivation.

A couple of weeks ago, I went on a mission trip with my youth group. I stayed in a gym with 100 other teenage girls and every morning, something new was wrong with their bodies. Her hair was too frizzy, her butt was too big, her skin was breaking out, she was too tall, too short, too pale, too fat, too skinny, too much.

And not enough.

Our culture has told us so many lies that the Truth is left outside, pounding the brick wall.

It's not that the truth is shy or timid. She is trying just as hard as the liars--maybe even harder. The difference is that there a thousand liars, shouting their message, building a wall around a girl who doesn't really want to fit the picture perfect standard the liars have pushed on her. A girl who doesn't love the attention. She doesn't want praise. She doesn't want popularity. She doesn't want 'empowerment.' She doesn't want what every loud voice is telling her she needs.

She wants love. Deep love. Love that goes beyond the makeup she wears, the clothes she buys, the opinions of others. Love that isn't fragile, that isn't insecure, that isn't conditional. Love that reaches not only her body and mind, but her soul.

The wall of the liars is built out of dust, constructed on a foundation of sand. It takes a moment to build and a moment to fall.

Truth is outside, waiting on the rock. Always there, never changing. And when the wall of the liars falls, she beckons to the girl lying in the rubble. There's something better. There's something deeper. There's security, there's hope, there's joy. Most of all, there is love.

Youth ministry is hard because it's nearly impossible to be heard above the noise. All we want is to tell those girls that what they're looking for is so close.

You are fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27)

You are known deeply by your Creator. (Psalm 139)

You are never rejected by Christ. (Psalm 34:17-20) (Romans 8:1)

You are loved.

You already are.

|| “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 'The Lord is my portion,' says my soul, 'therefore I will hope in him.'” - Lamentations 3:22-24 ||

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

When Your Dreams are Bigger than Your Laptop

I want to make Youtube videos.

Technically, all I need to do that is a webcam and any account connected to Google. However I want a little more quality than that.

I got a wonderful camera for Christmas (I mean it's not a Canon 70D but 1.2k isn't chump change). It's really cute and I love it. But it didn't exactly come with editing software. Or a new laptop. Or magic that makes my laptop even slightly more competent.

You see, my laptop is a potato (aka it's a hand-me-down from my sister and let's just say there's a good reason she got a new laptop). I filmed and edited a video that I am very proud of but MY LAPTOP WON'T SAVE IT PROPERLY.

And I am outraged.

Backstory time:

When I was just a lil 16-year-old, I started watching Youtube videos that weren't just Blimey Cow (still love me some BC tho). Katie Gregoire and Chris Howard and Kirby Minnick had channels I loved and I was like "yo I can do that."

The first time I thought that was about a year ago. This was also the time I started this blog. I asked for a camera for Christmas for the purpose of vlogging. I got the camera and then I procrastinate for another 4ish months.

After a couple of false starts in February and March, I filmed a video I actually liked in May. It was almost 2 weeks after my 17th birthday and so I made it about what I learned when I was 16. Personally, I think it's funny and pretty okay overall. I spent about 300 years editing and was ready to upload it to Youtube when my laptop punched me in the face.

You see, the thing about Windows Movie Maker is that it's the literal worst. There are about two things total you can do, and among those things being able to save a video so that's it's possible to post it on Youtube is not included.

I tried until 1:00AM to get my video saved to my computer properly so that could post it to the 'Tube properly and become a famous Youtuber. I was so angry at my potato laptop that I was just about to throw it across the room but then I was like 'wait that's dumb that won't help.' So I went to bed instead. And I cried about Youtube in the morning. And the next morning too.

That was a month ago and my laptop is still a potato so that video is never going to make it to the Internet. *Moment of silence for the forever secret video I worked so hard on.*

So now I'm saving money so I can get proper editing software. I currently have *counts on fingers* *punches buttons on graphing calculator* *weighs it all to triple check* one dollar. And I also want to buy a ukulele and a proper tripod so basically I need to get rich quick. Someone start a Kickstarter for Hadley's Youtube channel.

There's not really any point to this. That's just what's up. Happy one year blogaversary to me! That's all. Bye.

haha you were probably expecting this to be all inspirational but it's just me rambling about my crushed dreams.

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Mother's Day

Hi Mom,

Today's Mother's Day, as you could probably tell by the hoard of men in the greeting card section of the grocery store. While those greeting cards are great and can definitely make me cry, I'd rather use my own words (in addition to the card because I didn't want to seem cheap). Of my many, many talents (like, three talents), writing is one. Buying nice, thoughtful gifts is not. Also, having money to buy nice wood flooring is also out of my skill range. So here's a blog post, for free (Dad would like that so win/win).

There are lot's of things that I could say, but I don't want this to be a discombobulated mess. I guess we'll see how this goes.

You've been making me food for forever. It's a good thing too, because my breakfast cooking skills are limited to frozen sausage and canned biscuits. Seriously, it's a disaster when I try to make cream of wheat (turns out there's a difference between salt and sugar. Go figure). And I panic when I try to cook much of anything (even frozen pizza). You make food so good, it makes me excited to eat leftovers (which is good because there are always leftovers).

You taught me how to love my hair for what it is. You saw the fluffy, frizzy mess on my head and  you were like, 'hey, that's curly and think and gorgeous, here's a comb, here's some product, you're welcome.' While my hair is far from tame, it's not the...whatever it was six years ago.

But aside from just my hair, you taught me how to love me for who I am. You always encouraged me to write, even when, exasperated, I claimed "I don't write that kind of stuff." That kind of stuff, essays and speeches and reports, made me a better writer. And a more patient person because I really hated that kind of writing. You never said I couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't be a writer. You heard my dream and said, "do it."

You never tried to keep me from wearing skater skirts (as long as I had leggings or shorts underneath because those things are short). You didn't keep me from wearing converse with floral dresses and flower crowns. You let me play Taylor Swift and old hymns on the out of tune piano in the dining room. You let me eat raw cookie dough. You let me be who I am, yet kept making me better.

You are so selfless. I've watched you pour into your family more than any one person should have to, and you've done it with grace and patience and faith in God. I can only hope to be as selfless as you one day.

As I get older, I keep realizing how similar we are (minus the selfless thing. Still working on that). I love that we're similar. I love (and hate) that you feel my hurt as deeply (and sometimes more deeply) than I do.

When it was 4:30AM and I couldn't sleep because I had a broken, you sat with me and reminded me that it'd be okay. You defended me when I didn't have the words to defend myself. You let me make my own decisions, and haven't failed to be there when those decisions turned out to be stupid.

You've taken me to a hundred and one tournaments. You've driven me around while I've been procrastinating getting my license (sorry). You've made me clean the kitchen and the living room and my bedroom and I'm so glad for that. You taught me how to wash clothes so my future college roommate won't make fun of me.

Our relationship isn't perfect. It never will be, because we're two imperfect people. But even in this imperfection, you never ever give up on me. When I've been broken down and confused and hurt, you've been right by my side, even if I haven't said much.

There are so many things I should thank you for. It hurts just to think about it, because I know 'thanks' will never be enough. And when I don't know how to say things, I don't say them. And when I think I'll cry saying things, I don't say them. But this time I thought I'd try writing (still making me cry, btw).

Above all, you've taught me how to be a graceful woman of God. You taught me how to laugh at myself. You taught me to listen to God's call on my life by following His call on your life. You taught me to be kind and considerate. You taught me how to make frozen sausage perfectly.

I don't say thank you enough. I don't say I love you enough. I don't say I'm sorry enough (because there are a lot of things I could/should say sorry for). I'll never be able to. There are a hundred thousand more things I need to thank you for, things I don't even know about, prayers I didn't know you prayed.

Thank you. Thank you so much. For everything.

Your daughter who's dying of gratitude-overload,
-Hadley Grace

|| "Her children arise and call her blessed." -Proverbs 31:28 ||

Friday, April 29, 2016

Sixteen Was

Sixteen was waking up feeling like I could take on the world.

Sixteen was dreaming about the future that I was sure would happen.

Sixteen was loosing that future and finding a better one.

Sixteen was taking one step forward.

Sixteen was watching Youtube videos and thinking "I could do that."

Sixteen was listening to Tori Kelly.

Sixteen was living my dream of seeing Tori Kelly live.

Sixteen was loosing friends.

Sixteen was finding better friends.

Sixteen was falling on my knees because I had nowhere else to go.

Sixteen was crying and hurt. And laughter and mercy.

Sixteen was finding genuine confidence.

Sixteen was skater skirts and flower crowns.

Sixteen was heartbreak.

Sixteen was joy anyway.

Sixteen was a little bit brave.

Seventeen is a mystery.

I can't wait to see what it holds.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Unexpected Mercy

We laughed until our sides hurt and tears came to our eyes. At this point, we weren't even laughing about the original joke. After ten minutes, it was a miracle we even had breath left. And yet we kept going. And that was just ten minutes out of a six day trip.

I almost didn't go to that tournament. My heart was burning from a deep rejection. I was going through the motions, wishing for winter's months to come to an end. Spring felt decades away. I wished I were graduating this year instead of next. I wished I could start over with an entirely new group of people. I wished for the hurt to go away. But things hardly ever go as I wish them to.

My fragile glass heart was broken, and the shards cut my soul. I held onto hope, but that hope was just a thread that I clutched as I walked in the dark, looking for a way out.

When I deal with things, I deal with things on my own. Much of the time, this is stupid. Closing yourself off to Youtube videos and books isn't actually as conducive to healing as I'd like to believe.

Two months ago, I traveled to a tournament with my friends (and some people who became my friends). I was expecting to be as miserable there as I had been for the last several months. At the last minute I thought about backing out. The only reason I did go was because I'd made a commitment to my debate partner to be there.

I was still hurting when I drove to my friend's house in the rain that Tuesday morning. For the first half of the day I thought of the friends I had lost and the friends I was losing, wondering if I'd end up with no friends at all. I was expecting to find more loneliness. I found laughter.

In our deepest hurts, God brings mercy.

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4) he didn't fix all her problems, he didn't take away her broken heart. He offered mercy. He offered living water. Living water that didn't bring immediate healing, but gradually mended her soul.

In the midst of my 8 month long hurt, God brought mercy. In the shards of my broken heart, the laughter of my friends reminded me that there was happiness at the end of my long walk of hope. In a basement and on car rides and in Jason's Deli, I was reminded that God shows up in small places. Just as He is in the Grand Canyon and in miraculous physical healings, He is in the laughter of friends.

God rarely gives us what we want because He wants to give us what's best. What I wanted at the moment wouldn't have healed me. It wouldn't have lasted. While I can see that now, I couldn't see it as I prepared to go to Missouri two months ago.

I lost a lot of friends, but looking back I can see that God was preparing me for better relationships. Not just in that car on the Oklahoma turnpike, but on Wednesday and Sunday nights at my two (very) different youth groups, in the day to day with my family members. In the little moments, mercy has slipped through the cracks, creating a more beautiful picture than I could've dreamed of at the point of impact in January.

Laughing for 20 minutes straight with my friends, watching Family Feud with my mom, taking pictures of tulips with my dad, dancing around to Silly Songs With Larry with my siblings. God shows up. Mercy is poured or dripped all around, not making any sense until the other side is reached. And when that other side is reached, redemption has painted a better picture than I could dream.

I went to Kansas City with those same people this month. I came into it happier than I had two month prior. As we got closer to each other, my hope and joy increased. Though we all may be dealing with our own individual hurts, we have the same hope, the same mercy: Christ Jesus.

In our moments of brokenness, Christ fills the cracks with little moments of mercy. In our moments of brokenness, Christ offers the chance to live gracefully

Living gracefully gives us the courage to laugh.

Little moments of mercy give little moments of brave.

And that's what's up.

>hg<

Thursday, April 21, 2016

To My Friends Who are Graduating

I denied it at the beginning of this year. I didn't want to believe it. But now that it's April, I can't get away from it. You're graduating. You're done. You're going off to college and leaving behind the ridiculousness of high school.

Remember when we thought this day would never come? The days of saying, "psh, I don't need to worry about college because that is literally forever away," were replaced with days of saying "omigosh college applications essays SAT ACT why didn't I do this when I was a sophomore???" Suddenly you had to worry about senior pictures and graduation parties and senior trips and senior prom and being old and all that other senior stuff. And you didn't even get cheaper pancakes at IHOP.

When I think back four years, to when you were a freshman and I was in 8th grade (the difference didn't matter because we were homeschooled), it's such a different picture from the one I see when I open my eyes. We tell embarrassing stories from the last few years, barely believing we're the same people who did those stupid things--but at the same time knowing many similar moments will probably happen in the near future.

You're different now than how you were then. You're closer to God, know more about math you'll use on the SAT and then drop forever, and wiser about the people around you. But in so many ways, you're the same. You still stay hilarious things that I'll never let you live down, and you still bring up that time (or twenty) I made a fool of myself in front of the boy I liked.

I know you're not sure whether or not you can handle what's ahead of you, but I also know who's going with you. No, I'm not going to get in your suitcase and go off with you to college. Although if you're down for that I'm totally down for that.

Anyway. I know you can take on the future because you're not doing it alone. God will work through your life in ways you can't dream of. Even if you don't go where you expect, the Lord knows exactly where you are and He's going to use each and every situation to grow you.

On top of that, God has put people in your life to encourage you, challenge you, and be there for you (like me hi). Don't be afraid to turn to those people when you need to, because they want to be there for you (again like me hello). Don't push people away because you think you have to be all independent now. Because you don't. You still need others, and you always will.

When you're afraid of losing your friends to time and distance, trust that God will preserve the relationships you need. And remember, you'll always have your family. When you think of a friend you haven't talked to in awhile, shoot them a text. I promise, it won't be an annoyance (unless they're at church and haven't turned their ringer off but that's not your fault).

When you come back home for breaks, spend time with family and old friends. Tell them your crazy stories and your awesome stories. When you go back to school that Monday, tell your new friends stories about your weirdo friends from high school.

Tell your friends that you're grateful for their friendship. Because you are. Send your old debate partner a text. Hand write a letter to that girl who was so encouraging to you these last few years. Tell your best friends how proud of them you are. Speaking of...

I'm proud of you. I'm proud of the person you've become and are becoming. Your love for God and for others is humbling to me.

Thank you for being my friend, for years and months and days. Thanks for telling me what I needed to hear. Thanks for listening to my stories for the tenth time. Thanks for laughing at the dumb stuff I say. Thanks for saying dumb things so I feel less dumb when I say dumb things.

You're graduating, and that's what's up. I'll bring the tissues.

>hg<

ps. if you need me I'll be crying in the bathroom because you're graduaattinnng D: D:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Not the King We Expected

|| "So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, crying out, 'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!'" -John 12:13 ||


When I prayed, I just wanted the problem to go away. I wanted God to fix the situation. I wanted things to go back to how they were.

I prayed for months, but things just got gradually worse until things couldn't get any worse. Never had I wanted something so bad. Never had a loss wrecked me so bad. Sometimes I couldn't sleep over it. Any time I thought I would finally be okay, it would come around and hit me again. Why didn't God just take it away?

When Israel prayed for a messiah, they wanted a king. They wanted a leader who would take away their sicknesses and oppression. 

For hundreds of years, Israel begged God for a savior. When He came, they welcomed Him to Jerusalem with praise. The called Him king. Rightfully so. They believed He would take away their struggle. They believed He would break the chains of an oppressive, bad government.

Before the week was over, they believed He deserved to be crucified.

They wanted a King. They got a Servant.

I think it's so interesting what Jesus does in John 13. He gets down on His knees and washes the feet of his disciples. The twelve men who had followed Jesus, who served Jesus, were being served by Him. Peter couldn't stand it.

|| "No," Peter said. "You shall never wash my feet."

Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” (v8) ||


Peter didn't want the king to wash His feet. Peter wanted to be the one serving. In his eyes, Jesus was supposed to be king, not a slave. He was supposed to save, not serve. He was supposed to be the triumphant ruler, not the humble redeemer

Later that night, Jesus told Peter he would deny Him three times. Peter demanded that he would never.. He would never betray his leader like that. But when Jesus was arrested, Peter began losing faith. He cut the ear off one of the guards who came to take Jesus away, but Jesus told him no. He let Himself get arrested. If He was the King of the Jews, how could He let Himself be taken like that?

That early morning, Peter denied His King three times. I imagine he felt hurt and betrayed and fooled. Why had he followed someone who was weak? Had he been tricked?

Peter, like all of Israel, was expecting a powerful King. Not a man who would humble himself to death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). Not someone who would submit Himself to the most humiliating, shameful death possible. They wanted a ruler.

They got a savior.

God doesn't work the way we expect. Jesus didn't save the world by overthrowing a government or giving the people the freedom they demanded.

"Hosanna!" They cried out in the street. "Save us! Save, now!"

Jesus didn't change the government. He didn't change the country. He didn't change the world.

He changed people.


I ask God to take away my problem. I ask for redemption of my situation. We ask Him to fix our country, our families, our churches, our lives. But Jesus doesn't offer a quick fix. He offers a new heart.

|| "I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart." -Jeremiah 24:7 ||


Yes, God heals. God redeems. God hears our prayers. But sometimes He doesn't fix the situation. He uses the situation to bring us back to Him.

For they will return to Me with their whole heart.


Jesus wasn't the powerful, reigning king the Jews expected. He was the salvation they needed. Salvation from their sins. Reunion with God.

Not the King we expected.

But the Savior we need.

Friday, March 18, 2016

this funny world

Whenever the subject of broken families is brought up at my youth group, I get overwhelmed.

I go to two youth groups, and within both of those I know that there are students there my age whose parents are divorced or split up. I can't imagine the way that feels, the hurt that brings. But I know that too many people are in the same situation.

Whenever I think too long about the hurts the people in my life are experiencing on a daily basis, I get overwhelmed. At church, at youth, at speech and debate. We walk around, acting like we're 'all right.' We carry shields so others don't see the struggle. No matter what's going on. No matter how bad it hurts. It seems safer to hold up the shields than face rejection and judgement.

Sometimes I start researching. I start researching the crappy things in the world that are accepted in the mainstream. Abortion. Pornography. Sometimes I just come across crap. Objectification. Hatred.

There's so much crap in the world. So much brokenness in so many ways. From divorce to high school breakups, from the loss of a friendship to the death of a family member. There are mass shootings in places where children should be safe. There is betrayal in places where trust should be a value. It's overwhelming. The pain is unbearable at times. Insecurity. Fear. Shame. Hurt.

|| "I'm a little girl, and I'm just trying to figure out this funny world. It's so big. It's got me running around. I just wanna be found by You." -Britt Nicole ||


There are moments where I'm so overwhelmed that all I can do is cry. I don't know how to pray about these things. These things are so much bigger than me, so much wider than my reach. I feel small and weak and insufficient. How could anything I say or do make a dent in the hurt? How could I even hope to begin filling the cracks in the walls?

Overwhelming is the only word I know to describe the damage the people in my life face. I hate it. I hate it so much. And I have no way to end it, to do anything to help it go away. I am overwhelmed and devastated. There's no end to the cracks in the walls and floor and ceiling. Everywhere I turn there's something else that's screwed up and I can't stand it.

I get so lost in all the insanity, in the hugeness of it all. The only way I can stand up straight is get on my knees. In the overwhelming brokenness, there is breathtaking peace.

|| "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Philippians 4:6-7 ||


Those verses are hard to buy into when everything feels so wrong and so unstable. And things are wrong and unstable. The foundation the earth is built on is cracked all the way through. But Jesus came to heal. But Jesus came to give hope. But Jesus came to offer mercy. Jesus came to give peace we can't understand.

When everything is wrong, we can hold on to hope. We can hold on to what is true.

When everything is wrong, there is hope.

We just have to be brave enough to hold onto it.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Coming Home

There are moments when I realize I've slipped away.

I've stopped reading my bible every day. I've stopped praying intentionally. I haven't been to church in a week or two or three.

I keep telling myself I'll get around to praying, around to reading.

But another distraction, another obligation moves to the front of the line.

I'll read a chapter in the Bible, then forget what I read an hour later. I'll forget to pray until right as I'm going to bed, and then I fall asleep.

Small things, biting away at my relationship with God. I want to wait until I have time to really catch up on my reading, or really pray for everything I need to. Then I spend way too much time on Twitter, or watching TV, or listening to Tori Kelly. I end up frustrated with myself. I crave connection with God, but block it at the same time. 

A week will go by, and then another. And I get more and more frustrated with myself. The more time that goes by, the more time I have to make up for. Life becomes cluttered. I neglect my quiet time in favor of an extra half hour of sleep, or extra time to do my hair, or extra time to do anything else.

A couple of months ago, I was at a Sunday morning hang out my youth group has before church. We were having a morning of worship in our newly refurbished building. The senior pastor of our church heard about it, and decided to stop by. Note: I go to a church with multiple campuses, meaning that every week the message is preached at the main campus and shown on screens at the other campuses. Our senior pastor was at our campus in person that week because the refurbished building was having its grand re-opening.

I've been going to this church for several years. That morning is the closest I have been to the senior pastor of my church (it seems weirder than it is. Or maybe I've just gotten used to it). The point it, I paid attention to what he chose to say to us. He's a globally respected pastor, and there's a reason the church he founded has thousands of members.

I could practically see it when he walked to the front of the room. His love and relationship with God was evident. I wrote down the gist of what I remembered him talking about.

The time you spend with God is time you'll never regret. It's the greatest, most important, more valuable time we spend. It keeps us humble. It reminds us of His greatness and our smallness. He leads us to be leaders. He leads us to serve.

For the next month, whenever I questioned whether I should read my Bible, spend time praying, etc, or if I should hang out on Twitter, I went back to that first sentence. "The time you spend with God is time you'll never regret."

Sometimes I forget that.

Time with God isn't always flashy, thrilling, or appealing when put up against my favorite TV show or sleep. But I know that I've regretted time I've spent staring at screens or lying in bed for an extra five minutes  (or an extra hour). And I know I've never regretted time I spent praying, reading my Bible, listening to God.

But when I've been away from that for a couple of days, a couple of weeks, I'm afraid that it'll take time, or at least a great worship service, to get back to where I was.

The thing is, my God is a God of grace.

We only need to take a step towards Him and He comes running to us. 

|| "'I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him." Luke 15:18-20 ||


All we need is to humble ourselves, turn around, and head towards home. In those moments when I've slipped away, I only need to turn my face back towards God, and He'll come running for me.

He already pain the price for us. He already values us.

He just wants us to come home. And that's what's up.

>hg<

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Freedom from Freedom

|| "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." - John 8:36 ||


"My body, my choice."

"It's my decision. It doesn't affect you."

"It's a free country. I can do what I want."

Our culture loves the idea of freedom. We like the idea of power. Of being whoever we want to be, regardless of what anyone else says we should do. We like being without restraint, without anyone even implying we should act any differently.

freedom; n: the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint.

Christians, I think, like to believe that the freedom God offers allows us to do what we want without consequences. Forgiveness is there to catch us, after all. We can live the lifestyle we see fit. Have sex whenever and with whoever we want. Wear clothes that flaunt what we got. Lie. Cheat. Swear.

This kind of freedom is attractive. Sin is attractive. Sin looks good, and, in the moment, feels good. It offers rewards. Sin promises power, popularity, pleasure.
It provides pain.

We demand freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom of sexuality, freedom of expression. We want the power, the right, to do whatever we want.

But God doesn't offer us freedom to sin, he offers freedom from sin.

Sin takes us captive. Takes over our thoughts, our actions, our lives. It chews us and spits us out. It lies to us, again and again, tricking us into the chains of slavery it carries. Sin declares freedom from the rooftops. "Live how you want! This will make you happy!"

Jesus reaches down, takes your hand. In the shouting of sin in the street, he doesn't raise his voice to make his point. He meets your eyes and hands you a key.

"Freedom to, or freedom from," he says. "That's your choice."

With the drowning, overwhelming, captivating shouts around us, Jesus doesn't demand our attention. He doesn't yell or scream or shout orders. He offers a choice. Freedom to, or freedom from. He offers a key to the chains that bind us to the desires of the flesh.

God has the power to unlock and break the chains. We have to chose to let him.

In the streets where sin shouts and demands out attention, Jesus offers freedom.

|| "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery." -Galatians 5:1 ||

Thursday, February 11, 2016

How to be Miserable on Valentine's Day

I've never had a boyfriend on Valentine's Day.

Maybe that's just a side affect of never having a boyfriend ever. Whatever.

So it's the time of year when everyone's Instagram feed with either couple photos or photos of people complain-o-bragging about being single. Because you can't be happy on Valentine's Day if you're single. Or happy anytime. Because life is about relationships.

But seriously. Let's get down to business (to defeat the Huns). You want to be miserable on V-Day? Well, you're in luck because I have for a few very easy steps to accomplish this #goal:

1. Re-name Valentine's Day to "Singles Awareness Day"

This gives you full right to complain about how you don't have a significant other. Just like you'd talk about starving puppies on Starving Puppy Awareness Day (also known as Sad Sarah McLachlan Song Day), you must necessarily complain about how single you are on Singles Awareness Day. Because everyone should know how single you are so when that cute guy from youth group finally breaks up with his girlfriend, he'll know you're totally available.

2. Text/Call/Stalk Your Ex on Social Media

Send a passive aggressive text, leave an angry message, cry over all his/her pictures from three years ago, cry over all his/her pictures with his/her new significant other. Focus on your past relationships because they're all happy and you aren't. How dare they move on without you.
Bonus points if he/she is in a relationship and you're not.
Double bonus points if you send them this video.

3. Listen to Melodramatic Breakup Songs

If you want to be miserable and want motivation to call your ex, just listen to Adele's Hello a few times. You won't be able to resist the urge. Another option is the ultimate friend-zone song, On My Own from Les Miserables. And basically any Taylor Swift song.

4. Ignore All the Other Kinds of Love

Instead of celebrating your friendships, your family, and your adorable cat(s), just think about how single and sad you are and complain about it on social media (see step one). Definitely don't think about how loved you are by God, because that will put such a damper on your deep misery level. Make as huge a deal as possible about how you are very very single and drown yourself in chocolate ice-cream and candy boxes that are on super sale February 15.

And there you have it, four ways to be to totally miser--Wait. You don't want to be miserable? Probably because being miserable is, you know, miserable.

So maybe, instead of focusing on how single you are, you should focus on others. Be happy for people in relationships. Be happy for your friends who are also single because they can like, go bowling with you without being all sad because their significant other isn't there. Have a great time with your friends and family. Give other people candy or flowers. And if you are in a relationship, good for you! I hope it works out. (Also, don't be stupid or make bad decisions.)

You can be really miserable on Valentine's Day if you want to, or you could actually have a good time with friends and family and chocolate. It's your choice. And that's what's up. 

Monday, February 08, 2016

wonder

There's something incredible about being able to look out a window and see the ocean stretch on for miles. A thousand shades of blue dancing over and beneath the surface. Life. Beauty. Wonder.

How do we go through each day without stopping and staring at the incredible creation around us? How have we become so complacent, so blind to the beauty around us?

We're sucked in by rush, by busy, by cell phone screens and Instagram filters. We don't want to miss out on Snapchat stories or Twitter feeds.

But we miss out on sunsets and starlight. Breathing in warm sunlight. Moonlight between tree branches. The ocean stretching out for miles, stretching out forever. We snap a photo of autumn leaves, a gorgeous sunset, and share it with all our friends.

Then we move on.

We don't pay attention to the small details of our lives, the little moments of utter beauty. The little miracles that make our lives magical. The small strokes of the paintbrush God has used to fill in the spaces with beauty.

God deserves our praise and worship for many things, including the beauty of His creation. Not that we should worship the creation itself, but the one who so lovingly made this earth to be marvelous and incredible is worthy of honor.

So take a moment to look out over the ocean, to stand and watch the sunset behind trees, and wonder at the creation of our Creator. Stand still. Don't snap a photo and slap a filter over it. Just wonder.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

I Am Not a Feminist

When, on popular TV, they show an abortion, saying "here, try this out, it'll make your life better."

When they say to us that we can be as promiscuous as can be because that will give us freedom

When, in every clothing store, the skirts get higher and the shirts get lower.

When, with magazines and blockbuster movies, they tell me what I'm worth.

When they say it doesn't matter what I wear, because I'm not the one responsible for wandering eyes.

When they tell me dressing modestly means I'm shaming someone else.

When, with catchy slogans and campaign promises, they fight against the 'war on women.'

When those who flaunt their bodies and shout their abortions are lauded across social media...

I am not a feminist.

There's no escaping the propaganda that speaks to women, telling them to defy the limits that have been put on us. Wear whatever you want, demand equal pay, equal rights, equal jobs, have sex whenever you want with whomever you please, demand to be heard, no matter who you hurt. They say to push the blame onto men and republicans, who take away 'reproductive rights.' "These are the ones waging war on us!" they cry on the screen and in every news stand.

Wear whatever you want, be whoever you want to be. You don't need anyone else. You can be strong and independent, no man can tell you what you can and can't be. If anyone tells you otherwise, they are attacking you and your freedom.

They demand that they not be objectified by men, even if what they wear cuts low and high, leaving little to the imagination, even if they treat men the same way they claim men treat them. They criticize commitment and intention, they reject modesty because it's oppressive. They wage war on dress codes and marriage. They claim they fight for equality, but the very name is unbalanced.

If this is what feminism is, I want no part.

My worth, my identity is not based on what other people think of me. Being a girl makes me different from being a boy, but it doesn't make me less than. Salaries and skinny jeans and someone trying to shame something doesn't change who I am, and it doesn't change who you are.

These women that fight for "equality" are actually fighting for a sense of self worth. They say they want respect, when all they want is love and affirmation. They want to be good enough, to be worthy. They fear being treated as less-than because that is how they feel. Every word spoken in opposition is a personal attack against the foundation on which they've built security.

But their foundation is the sand of the shore, and when the tide comes in, their self-worth and their confidence fall.

I am not a feminist because I know where where my worth comes from. I know why men and women are equal, and it has nothing to do with careers, slut walks, or sexual liberation. I refuse to be a victim just because someone says I am. Worth doesn't come from curvy legs or skinny waists, or confidence in those things.

Dear girl, your worth isn't found in being wrapped up in an well-paying career, or showing off your body, or the affirmation of any person but one. Just one.

Your Savior says you are worthy. Worth living for, worth dying for. Not because of anything you've done, not because of anything I've done, but because He loves us. That is the foundation of our worth. And so instead of making ourselves out to be the victims, God allows us to be the victors.

When Jesus was on earth, he treated everyone with the same respect and love and kindness, men, women and children. From the rich young man, to the middle-aged, romantically challenged Samaritan woman at the well, to young children. Jesus was concerned with love before equality. Because, without love, we have nothing.

Maybe when feminism becomes about loving and respecting all people, I'll change my mind. But until then, I am not a feminist. That's what's up.

>hg<

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Enough with Enough

The room wasn't clean enough. The makeup wasn't blended enough. The skirt wasn't big enough. The speech wasn't persuasive enough. The hair wasn't straight enough, then it wasn't curly enough. The waist wasn't small enough. The voice wasn't clear enough. The words weren't pretty enough.

I wasn't perfect enough.

***

If you've ever felt like you aren't good enough, these words are for you.

Because you're right. You aren't good enough. You aren't good enough because the standards are impossible, and you aren't perfect.

That's the bad news. The good news? You don't have to be.

You don't have to have perfect. No matter what you've heard, no matter what you've told yourself. You can't be perfect, and you don't have to be.

I'm tired of people wishing they had that one thing. If they had that hair, or those clothes, or that grade, that talent, that popularity, they'd be enough. I'm tired of people shaming their own bodies. Of looking at themselves in the mirror and saying "my hair looks awful," "my hips look so big," "I wish I looked like someone else."

You are you, I'm sorry to say (not really, it's true and I won't apologize for saying true things). You are you, and that's all you can be. The moment you try to become someone else, you lose one of the most valuable things you have.

The way you laugh, the way you cry. The way your voice sounds. Your hopes and dreams.

Yes, you change and become a better person and that's wonderful. But despite the different phases, despite the growth and change, despite the pain and heartbreak, despite the years that go by you are always you.

And I think that's wonderful.

You're you and nobody else. Nobody else in the whole world is you. Even if there's someone who's probably trying to be you, they're failing because nobody can be as you as you. And yes I sound like Dr. Seuss and I take that as a compliment.

If you think you have to be something more, something else, someone else to meet some of "enough," you are wrong. I've had enough with enough. Because the truth is?

You are more than enough.

You being you is all that you need. It's all God asks for.

Don't be anyone else. Don't be anything you're not, because you are better than that.

You are more, and that's what's up.