Faith

Just Tuesday

We have lots of routines in our classroom.

One of my favorites has to be calendar time.  We fill out the date, count the days we have been in school this year, and discuss what day of the week it is.

Early on in the year, we added funny little nicknames to each day.

Manic Monday
Hump Day
Ninja Thursday
Fri-YAY!

Ya know, your typical kindergarten silliness.

“But Miss Hollis,” one of my students said one day, “What do we call Tuesday?”

“Ummm…” I said, with no good answer for him, “Just Tuesday.”

In fact, just last week I was talking to a friend and he asked, “How was your day?”

“Ah, nothin’ special,” I replied, “Just Tuesday.”

Just Tuesday.

There are lot of just Tuesday‘s in our lives.

Those days where nothing special happens.
Ordinary, regular, normal days.
Those days where we get up, get dressed, go on with our daily routine.
Nothing terrible, but nothing terrific to report.
No sad stories, but no side stitching hilarious stories to tell.
No moping, but no jumping for joy either.

Just Tuesday.

We don’t romanticize the just Tuesday’s very often.  They rarely get any credit.

And that’s okay.  It’s much easier to look back and remember those “big” moments throughout our lives.  Often, we consider these as the moments that shape us.  That “twist” in history when you knew you’d never be the same again.

The first day of a new job.  Your 16th birthday.  College graduation.  The night you got engaged.  When you heard your baby’s heartbeat for the first time.

Or maybe you’re not so lucky and your “big” moments are not so precious.  Maybe they’re moments that haunt you daily, causing you make an extra effort to push those dark feelings away to your hidden place.

The day you lost your job. A loved one’s funeral.  The night your heart was broken.  When you lost the baby you were carrying.  The moment the doctor uttered the C-word.

Our lives can turn on a dime.

Maybe you haven’t experienced that life shaping moment, but I can guarantee you experience those just Tuesdays.

Sometimes just Tuesdays make us feel like we’re in a slump.

I often compare life to a treadmill.  We’re running just as fast as we can, but we’re not going anywhere.

I feel like I’ve used this analogy several times over the past five years since I graduated college.

It’s easy to feel this way when we live in a world centered around social media.  When people are constantly posting the highlights of their lives, and very rarely the just Tuesdays in between.

That girl with the swimsuit pictures showing off her abs? She didn’t show you the strict diet and hours at the gym.
That family with the big house? They didn’t share all of the money saving and overtime put it in to build it.
That valedictorian? He didn’t post all of the late nights studying.

Why?

Because just Tuesdays aren’t very pretty or particularly interesting.

But they are where most of the work is put in that lead to those big moments and those events that we tend to romanticize.

Change happens on the just Tuesdays.
Differences are made on the just Tuesdays.
Testimonies are built during the just Tuesdays.

Goals aren’t accomplished and dreams don’t come true without those just Tuesdays.

While I have met many fantastic people during “special” moments, my strongest friendships were built on the foundation of, you guessed it, just Tuesdays.  Those people who stick around for the ordinary, the mundane, and the in between?
They’re precious.

But whether it’s relationships, careers, ministries, fitness, or any other goal you’ve set – they rarely come into fruition without the dull working parts.

Even the Bible talks to us about our just Tuesdays.

Romans 12 starts out like this,

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” (NIV)

Now, that doesn’t sound much like the same thing UNTIL we read The Message version of this verse!  It translates as,

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him.” (MSG)

Upon further reading, you’ll find that 2 Thessalonions 1:11 tells us,

“Because we know that this extraordinary day is just ahead, we pray for you all the time – pray that our God will make you fit for what he’s called you to be, pray that he’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with his own energy so that it all amounts to something.”  (MSG)

You see, friends.  It’s just Tuesdays, when you feel complacent or ordinary or even like you’re driving on autopilot that the good stuff comes into fruition.  This is when God prepares you for the big things.

 

We were all born with a purpose.

Some will learn theirs early on.
Some will stumble upon theirs on accident.
Some will have to work harder than they ever imagine to discover theirs.

And some of us?  Well, we may never know this side of Heaven.
And you know what?

That is okay.

Because our faith is not in this world, this life, the big moments, or the just Tuesdays.
It’s not in our purpose or ourselves.

It’s in the One who created us for with a purpose and for a purpose.

Let’s may 2018 the year we make the most of our just Tuesdays.

“…Let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” Hebrews 12:1 (NLT)

Putting Christ Back in Christmas

What about put Christ back in Christian?

This thought came to my mind last night in the Wendy’s drive thru.  The truck in front of me had a bumper sticker on the tailgate with the silhouette of a Nativity scene and the message “Put Christ back in Christmas.”  You’ve probably seen these bumper stickers before, or maybe you’ve seen a similar message shared on Facebook – “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” or “Merry CHRISTmas!”

Should we put Christ back in Christmas? Yes.
Is Jesus the reason for the Christmas season? Absolutely.

Of course I agree with these things. I’m even guilty of sharing some those posts myself… (Except maybe that CHRISTmas thing… I can’t help but reading it the way it’s typed.)

But we are missing the bigger picture here.

Isn’t it time we put Christ back in Christian?

 

(This is where people will begin to get offended.)

I grew up in church.  My grandmother got me up on  Sunday mornings and we went to Sunday school, and she taught me to sit in a pew, and everyone knew me as Evelyn’s granddaughter. And even as a child I took pride in that, because I watched her interact with these fellow church members and she was an amazing woman. And you know what?

When we were NOT at church, she was the same amazing woman.  We spent a lot of time on her front porch swing.  My favorite way to remember her is on that swing, with one leg tucked under her and the other keeping the swing going.  That was the place where she told me Bible stories and we would sing the good old hymns.  (Do Lord Remember Me is still my favorite.)

But then I grew up and ventured out on my own.

And it wasn’t long before good “Christian” people showed me a side of religion that I never wanted to be a part of.

Two-faced. Holier than thou. Judgmental. Always preaching what you should NOT do and never what you should.  Always condemning, never loving.

Keeping up with it all was exhausting and going to church was uncomfortable.  I didn’t feel worthy of sitting in those pews anymore and frankly, I didn’t want to.

It took a while before I decided to try and get back in to organized religion.  There came a point when my own personal beliefs and my love for Jesus was overshadowed by my questions and suffering through Bible reading alone.  (Yes, I said suffer… You totally know there are parts of the Word that leave you scratching your head going, “Whaaat?”)  But by the grace of God I found a church that welcomed me with open arms and has welcomed everyone else the same exact way.

If you’re lucky, you love going to church like I’ve learned to.
But we can’t just be good little church goers on Sunday.
We have to continue to love Jesus every day.
And to love Him, means to love His people.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

So, will they know us by our love?progression

It’s hard sometimes.
Okay, a lot of times.
Yes, I said it.
It’s hard to love others.
I fail multiple times a day.

I’m preaching to me as much as I anyone else.

Which is exactly why I need Jesus.

Jesus didn’t pick and choose when to love and neither should we. 

*This post is not directed toward any one particular person or congregation, just general experiences of my early adulthood.

A Shift in Perspective

I woke up this morning in my warm house.
I was wrapped in three nice, fluffy blankets.
When I got out of bed, I slipped my feet into shoes specifically made for walking around the house.
I sleepily walked to the kitchen where I pulled down a three pound canister of Folgers coffee and put on a pot to brew.
Then, I went into the bathroom, ignoring the baskets of creams and beauty products that remain unused, and turned on the shower.
While I waited for the water to get warm, I went to the clothes dryer to fetch a clean towel.
I proceeded to enjoy an extra long, hot shower, with water so clean you don’t have to worry about keeping your mouth closed in fear of parasites.
When my shower is over, I find myself silently complaining that it will be cold when I pull back the curtain.
And it is, so I quickly dress and head back to the kitchen for a cup of that precious, steaming hot coffee I love so much.
I add a packet of stevia (the “safe” sweetener these days) and a generous pouring of creamer before grabbing a muffin and popping it in the microwave.
I head to the couch, turn on my flat screen tv, and open up the Netflix app to enjoy an episode of Grey’s Anatomy that I’ve probably seen 3 or 4 times before.

Within an hour of waking up, I’ve encountered more things to be thankful for than I have fingers on my hands.

You see, I pray on the way to work every morning.  If I am completely honest with you, it is nothing eloquent.  It’s not filled with big churchy words and I usually lose my focus at least once.  (Cue awkward apology to our Heavenly Father for squirreling during a prayer.) And it’s usually pretty similar to the prayer from the morning before.

I always try to pray in thanksgiving for the many blessings I have received, but let’s face it.  We are a nation of abundant blessings and little thanksgiving.  We live day to day taking everything for granted but to an extent, everything has just always “been there” without us having to put forth any effort to achieve it.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t know what it’s like to go hungry, or not to have shoes on my feet, or a bed to sleep in.  I don’t know true need.

Even as someone who’s visited a third world country and seen the devastation, the hurt, the poverty, and the need… I still come home and fall right back into the same ole habits.

A Haitian woman preparing a meal.

I’ll never forget my first trip to Haiti.  I remember being hyper-aware of the huts and tents the people called home.  Electricity is only for the “wealthy” and even then, it comes in spurts.  They wear tattered, second hand clothing and  worn out shoes, or in a lot of cases, no shoes at all… The soles of their feet are tougher than leather from walking barefoot. Their tummies swelling from malnutrition.  They’re heading to the river or, if they’re extra lucky, the ocean to bathe.

One day, we went walking through the community to do some outreach.  We handed out simple items like underwear and socks, candy and small toys.  There is a method to this kind of outreach.  You must be careful to keep your donations hidden from sight until you hand them out; you must pull things out one at a time.  Because when need runs this deep, when people are desperate, their eagerness will resemble an angry mob.

After handing out our items, we encountered a woman selling “dirt cookies.”  No, you didn’t read that wrong.  And yes, they’re exactly what you think they are.

Dirt, flour, water.

Offering little nutrition to those who eat them, parents often feed them to their kids just to fill their bellies.  But, with that quietening of their growling stomachs comes the risk of parasites from the dirt.

My sponsor son, sweet Billie! The picture on the right in from my first trip in 2014, the one of the left is from this past summer – June 2017.

Even my own sweet Billie was living in a mango tree eating whatever he could find.

Can you imagine?

Can you put yourself in the shoes of those parents?  Or those kids?

Today, on this day of thanksgiving.
When we’re taking showers with clean water.
When we stress about what we’re going to wear.
When we gather and eat until we are miserable.
When we fuss because the kids will only eat mac-n-cheese and rolls.
When we can’t agree on which football game to watch.

Can you put yourself in their shoes?

We are a nation of excess.  We are wasteful.  We are, in today’s lingo, extra. 

Most of us take everything for granted.

We are people who look at a full cabinet of food and just “can’t find anything to eat.”

This is what the Haitians call a “souffle.” It’s where their meal is laid out on a banana leaf. It’s considered a special occasion.

We look into our overflowing closets and just “can’t find anything to wear.”
Our perfectly good cars, phones, etc. need to be traded in for the newest version.

I know I am guilty of all of these things.

This holiday season, I want to challenge myself and all of my readers to give thanks for the things we forget to be thankful for.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.  1 Chronicles 16:34

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

If you want to know more about our mission work, visit our website!

In the Swing of Faith

Golf is one of my favorite sports.
They say out of all of the golfers in the US, 77% are male. No offense to women, but golf is a men’s sport.

No wonder they called it golf… Guys Only Ladies Forbidden (just kidding, I don’t think that what it really means.)

Like any game, golf consists of multiple aspects. From choosing the right equipment, to using the right club depending upon weather variables, golf can get very complicated at times.

I’ve been playing the game since I was 5 years old. My dad used to bring me out in the yard and coach me on my swing every evening. I always looked forward to the weekends so that my dad and I could go out to the course and play a round.

My dad always told me that golf is the hardest sport to be good at. I don’t know if that is true or not, but I can assure you it’s not easy.

If my dad taught me anything about golf, it would be these two principals:

Play against the course, not other people. The course already has a score of 72. Can you beat that?

My dad always said “Son, you are not good enough to be mad at yourself when you make a bad shot.”

My dad has always been really good at golf. He can take a one year break, get up, and out-drive me any day.

It wasn’t until recently that I actually beat him in a fair match. He then proceeded to remind me that I didn’t beat the course, though.

My dad also taught me some other important aspects of the game that I’ve transposed to my walk with Christ.

My dad always says that you never get better on the course. It’s only after you go to the driving range, and the chipping, and putting greens where you get better.

As Christians we expect our walk to be strengthened if we only go to church every Sunday. That may satisfy you, just as playing a round of golf satisfies me, but that’s not how you get better.

Jesus has called us to more than church; He’s called us to an abundant life of more and more of Him.

Small groups, discipleship, mission trips, and serving your neighborhood are just a few examples on how to strengthen you walk with Christ. One of the most foundational ways you can increase your faith life is by reading your Bible and praying consistently.

Just like in golf, if you don’t stay disciplined in the Word and in prayer (the fundamentals), you regress.
It’s not like riding a bike where you can just pick it up whenever you want.
It takes dedication and the constant want to better yourself.

What better way to sum all of this up by quoting from the Good Book.

James 5:13 says “Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” 
I hope this encourages you to not only dig into the Word more and to strengthen your faith, but to also to get out on the course and practice those drives.

-Taten

An Open Letter to the Good Guys and Girls

Dear friend,

You’ve heard the old saying, “Nice guys (or girls) finish last.”

If you’re reading this, I bet you’ve felt that way a time or two.

That sting of disappointment when you’ve been dismissed as second choice.  Or third. Or fourth.  Or not considered at all.

It could be at work, church, when you’re dating, or life in general…

You work harder, you do a good job, you do what you’re supposed to…

You live “right.”

And you still don’t measure up.  Your desires still go unfulfilled.

You still don’t get the job…
You still don’t get the promotion…
You still don’t get the guy/girl…
That particular group of people still won’t accept you…
You still can’t get pregnant…

There came a point a few months back when I decided being “good” and living “right” wasn’t worth it anymore.

Because how can you continuously try so hard only to keep falling short?

How can you keep praying to a God that seems to be ignoring you?  Who won’t answer you?

I decided I couldn’t.  I wouldn’t do it anymore.
I didn’t quit believing, but I did decide that kind of God just didn’t deserve my attention.

And besides, it seemed to be working for everyone else.

In Matthew 5:16, Jesus tells us to “be the light.”

But it seemed the pool of darkness and sin was more appealing to everyone else, so I decided to dip my feet in… try it out and give in to those worldly things we were warned against.

You quit praying.  Quit going to church.
Don’t reach out to your friends, because you don’t want to hear it.

And there is only one word I have to describe the way I felt.

Tired.

Because living in that darkness brought guilt, and anger, and worry, and loneliness, and discontentment.

Because it’s exhausting holding on for dear life when you’re riding a roller coaster of emotions.

So, like tired people do, I slept a lot.  And I laid on the couch.  And I indulged in mindless Netflix binging, and junk food, and an endless stream of social media posts that I couldn’t measure up to.

If there had been a hole for me to crawl in, I would have done just that.

I write all of this to say, do not let these hard situations dim your light.

Or dull your sparkle.
Or steal your sunshine.

Or whatever catchy phrase it is that you choose to use.

It so easy to, though.
Because you tried so hard, and you still weren’t the chosen one…

It. is. not. your. fault.

When you are good to someone, and they continue to tear you down…

That says more about them than you.

When the desires of your heart continuously go unfulfilled…

That’s not your fault either. 

I know it’s hard to believe, especially in the moment… because you suddenly feel that you’re not enough.  Your efforts were pointless.  You must be undeserving.

And so maybe you slowly crawl back inside yourself.

Or maybe you just wake up one day and give life a big ole proverbial finger and walk away from it all.

Or maybe you turn to something to numb the pain…

Or maybe you’re not there yet, but you’re just so tired and discouraged and it doesn’t feel good…

But hear me when I say…
You keep running toward that light we were called to be.

As for whatever is trying to extinguish your flame…

Maybe it’s time to close that door and cut those ties.
Maybe it’s time to quit trying so hard and just let it be for a while.
Maybe it’s time to lay those worries down at the cross and trust God’s timing.

I know you’ve heard it before and you’re rolling your eyes.

But keep praying for those people.  Keep praying about your situation.

Pray for yourself, too.

For peace, contentment, and trust as you wait on those desires of your heart to be fulfilled.

And keep shining your light.
It is not easy, but it is worth it.

Your friend who’s been there,

Callie

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue  to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.”  Hebrews 10:36

 

The coffee pot of my soul

Recently, my sweet mission friends brought me back a bag of Haitian coffee.  Fresh, finely haitian-coffeeground, straight off the farm, Haitian coffee.  It’s not like any coffee I’ve ever seen, touched, tasted, or brewed.  It’s a strong, frothy coffee and the texture is almost like baby powder.  Or, shall I say it? Dirt.

So, delicious as it has been, you can imagine the mess it makes when you go to brew a pot.

Yesterday afternoon, I was zipping through the apartment, cleaning up the little messes that pop up over the week.  Washing up the dishes, putting on a load of laundry, etc. when I spotted the coffee maker.

While I had spent the week hastily wiping up the dusty coffee mess, the coffee maker needed a little more attention.  So I wiped down the outside, I sat the carafe and the filter basket in the sink to wash, and then….

I looked down in the water reservoir and was horrified to see coffee grounds.

Brown, misplaced, coffee remnants in my WATER reservoir.

“No, no, no.” I thought, “That can’t be right.”
There’s COFFEE, in the place where I put CLEAN water each morning.
It doesn’t go there.
How did that happen?
How long has it been there?

Frustrated, and a little disgusted, I started the process of cleaning my precious coffee maker… and I realized, that coffee pot is my soul.

My coffee maker’s purpose is to take coffee grounds and turn them into a cup of coffee.  The coffee goes into a filter, water into the reservoir, and together it becomes something new.  Something yummy and enjoyable comes from what at first appeared to be a pile of beans.  Without the coffee maker, the grounds are useless… (To a coffee drinker, at least.)

I know you’re wondering by now where I could possibly be going with this, so bear with me.

Our souls are the water reservoir.
Our lives are the water.
The world is the coffee.
And Jesus is the filter.

Every morning we wake up, with a choice.  We can take on the world alone and just deal with some seemingly useless, bitter, dirt-like coffee grounds.

Or, we can take on the world with Jesus who can filter out the useless, and the bitter, and the dirty parts, and together we can make a pot of coffee.

But, dear friend…

Just as the coffee grounds will get in your water reservoir, the world will get in your soul.

As Christians, we’re sent out into the world to spread the love of Jesus.
You’ve heard it before, we’re to be in the world, but not of the world.

And as Christians, we know that’s much easier said than done.
Because though we serve an amazing God, we’re still human.

Our hearts still break.
People still leave.
Sickness still happens.
Jobs are still lost.

At every corner you turn, there’s chaos.
And with every scroll down your Facebook feed, there’s someone experiencing the desires of your heart…  Someone got the blessing you‘ve been waiting for and they’ve documented it for the world to see.  Painful, concrete proof that you’re still coming up short.

Another day and our prayers still go unanswered.

And more often that not, in our moment of why… the world will creep in.

With why often comes, I’m not good enough. I’m not worthy.  I will never measure up.  I did something to deserve this.  If I did this, then that wouldn’t have happened.  If I was more like her, I wouldn’t still be alone.  If I had paid better attention, I could’ve caught it in time.  If I was a better wife, maybe God would give me the baby.  If I had worked harder, I would’ve gotten the promotion.  If I was prettier, skinnier, wealthier, more out going, more creative, more desirable, more deserving, easier to love….

We’ve all been there.  And honestly, we all go there every. single. day.

And our society doesn’t help.  We’ve become a group of people who rely on instant gratification.

We want the free two-day Prime shipping option in our prayers…
We want blessings to come as quickly as Facebook likes.
We want a DIY guide to a better life.
We want a pot of coffee in Keurig time.

Which is why we have clean our coffee maker regularly.
Which is why we have to seek Jesus regularly.

The world tells us what we should be doing now, when God’s plan says not yet.

With that kind of burden to carry, it’s not enough just to run our lives through His filter.
We have to actively seek him.

No, I don’t want to clean my coffee maker every day… but I don’t always want to read my Bible, either.  Or pray.  Or extend grace to others.  Or look for a blessing in the not-so-good moments.

Most days, it’s much easier to stew in angry thoughts.  It’s much easier to pick out your own flaws or to place blame on others, because then at least, we have an answer to the why… Even if it’s wrong, it feels like we have something to hang our problems on.

And it’s much harder to accept that someone else received your blessing, because God has other plans for you.  Or it’s just not your time yet.

Some days, you won’t brew a good pot of coffee.
Some days, it will be more like a sad bowl of dirty, bean water.
Some days, you may spill your pot of coffee on your white linen pants.

Life is hard.  And it hurts.

But you know what else?  When the mess starts creeping in and the enemy puts those
thoughts of doubt and worthlessness in our hearts, there’s no better battle plan than putting on the armor of God and standing on His promises.

I’ve learned the hard way that moments of weakness are where we do our most growing… or I guess you could say, brewing.

We may  never understand why we’ve been given those bad cups of coffee, but we must understand that we are loved regardless… dirty water reservoirs and all.

So sweet friend, go check out your coffee maker… Figuratively and literally, because you deserve a good cup of coffee.

Blessings!

5 Tips for Reading the Bible

I have a confession to make… reading the Bible is not my favorite thing to do.

It’s hard.  And I mean that in several different contexts.

It’s hard, because watching Netflix on the couch is more appealing.
It’s hard, because 10 extra minutes of sleep is sometimes too tempting.

It’s hard, because well… sometimes the Bible just doesn’t seem to make sense to us.

It’s hard to connect that King James Version language, those Old Testament rituals, and Jesus’ parables to our life here in 2017… with our iPhones, and self starting cars, and microwavable everything.

So what do we do?

K.I.S.S… Keep it simple, silly.  (Yes, silly… what’d you expect from a kindergarten teacher like myself?)

So, sticking with our theme… here are 4 simple ways to strengthen your spiritual walk.

1.  Find the right Bible for you.

This is so very important!  Bibles are not one size fits all, which is why there are so many different versions.  (I googled it to find you an exact number, but I quit counting at 20, so… there’s that.)

If you’re like me and need a Bible that’s a little less “churchy” and a little more “peopley,” there are plenty of options to choose from.  I personally use the English Standard Version (ESV), but I also like the Message, NLT, and NIV versions.

I bought my Bible off Amazon.  It’s the Crossway Single Column Journaling Bible (ESV).

2.  Use a devotional or study guide with your Bible reading.

This one is a complete game changer.  There is no sense in any of us suffering through reading the Bible when there are plenty of resources out there for us.

I don’t know about y’all, but if there’s someone out there who can help me find meaning in something that made me just scratch my head in confusion, I am ready to listen and learn.

There are tons of free options and apps, as well as great books!

If you’re a techie (also, free) kind of person, here are a few apps/email subscriptions that I personally recommend.

  • Proverbs 31 Ministries – This women’s ministry is amazing!  They have daily devotions written by a variety of ladies.  You can either follow them on Facebook or sign up to receive the devotions every morning in your email.  You can sign up here.
  • The First 5 app – This app is a product of Proverbs 31 ministries and is similar to their daily emails.  The difference is, they take a book of the Bible at a time, break it into lessons, and offer teachings and devotions.  This is a GREAT tool for someone who wants to read their way through the Bible.  If you sign up, you can join in on the current study, or pick one out of the archives to do.
  • Waking Faith by Steven Furtick – These daily devotionals can also be sent straight to your inbox every morning.  Steven Furtick is the pastor at Elevation Church.  His morning devotions often vary between a few written paragraphs, video clips from sermons, and other media types.  This particular devotional is great for everyone – men, women, adults, teenagers.
  • YouVersion Bible app – Not only does this app allow you to view different versions of the Bible and search for certain books/verses, they also offer FREE reading plans!

3.  Get out your pen.

Get out your pen.  Yes, it’s worth repeating.

(Micron Pigment Ink Pens are my favorite, because they don’t bleed!)

Why?  Because we’re human.  With about a million things on our plates.  It’s way too easy to forget what you read. So…

Underline key words.  Draw brackets around important verses.  Take notes in the margins. Draw pictures.  (Hence my need for a journaling Bible.)

OR if you just cant bring yourself to write in your Bible, take notes in a journal or notebook…

But for the love of fun colorful pens… do yourself a favor and USE ONE!

4.  Find an accountability partner or group.

I can’t stress this enough.  When I have someone to help me, read with me, pray with me, answer my questions, and just do life with on a spiritual level, life is so much better!

Those people, whether it’s your Sunday school class, small group, or just a friend who shares your love for Jesus… They are a precious and vital part of your spiritual walk.

If you’re like me, you’re way more likely to read that chapter in the book of John if you’re expected to talk about it over coffee with a friend.  If you haven’t found an accountability partner or group in your area, get connected at a local church or schedule Facetime/Skype dates with a long distance friend.

5.  Prayer.

Naturally I saved the most important for last.  How can you worship a God you never talk to?

I know, I know… It cannot be that easy.
But it is.

Now, I am from the south where prayer is not a dirty word, but even some of us who grew up in the Bible belt “don’t know how to pray.”  Or at least we feel that way.

But can I tell you something I have learned?  Prayers don’t have to be eloquent and full of churchy language.  In fact, my prayers are often more like a conversation with a friend.

A couple of things that have helped my prayer life the most:

  • Praying out loud – YES, it was so awkward at first, but try it anyway.
  • Finding somewhere with few distractions – my faves are the shower and the car (which is also where my favorite worship jam sessions take place)
  • Writing prayers down – this goes along with my reasoning for praying out loud – it helps keep your thoughts organized.  It’s hard to start thinking about what’s for dinner if you’re actually speaking or writing.(Why yes, I just admitted to getting distracted if I just pray inside my head… #Christianconfessions)

Well, there you have it guys.  My K.I.S.S spiritual walk strategies.

What are YOUR routines and strategies that help keep you on track?  Feel free to share them in the comments!

(This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small percentage if you make a purchase using this link at no cost to you.)

5Tools to Help You Read the Bible

It’s a love Haiti relationship

I often tell people I found Jesus in the eyes of a little Haitian boy.

Don’t get me wrong, I grew up believing in God and attending church.  I’ve always referred to myself as a Christian, but I think we all have that defining moment in our faith.  That moment that opens your eyes and breaks your heart.

My first trip to Haiti was planned on a whim.  It was a Sunday morning, I was sitting at home, talking to Bethany -my best friend of 20 years.  And as quickly as two text messages, two leaps of faith, and four terrified parents later… We were going to Haiti and we had less than a month to prepare!  We still joke that it was our quarter life crises, but if I’m honest it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

10436689_10202958438134425_4299727723540653362_nGod showed out as the next three weeks flew by in a whirlwind of donations, prayers, immunizations, and finding the perfect bug spray… And before I knew it, we were packing the car at 12AM… Heading to my first plane ride… To a third world country.

*Now is probably a good time to mention that we didn’t just throw a dart at the map and choose Haiti.  Lori, one of my dearest friends, was my teaching mentor at the time.  She and her husband Pierre started Give Us Hope Mission a few years prior and I had been listening to amazing Haitian stories for months.*

Billie showed up at the mission house within the first few days of our trip.  We knew little12033024_10206458034542148_3590228339571532994_n about him, but it wasn’t long before his little laugh had us all melted into puddles.  We began questioning him and we found out he was homeless and had been sleeping in mango trees.  Sometimes, he would stay at his cousins’ house.

I remember feeling like someone punched me in the gut.  The rug had been pulled out from under my feet.  That little boy was living in a mango tree.  If that doesn’t humble you, nothing will.

10291344_10204224011092958_5957122633305862043_nWe spent the rest of the trip inseparable.  Billie loved peanut butter, he could barely swim, he prayed with his hands over his eyes, he had one set of clothes, he was fascinated with our phones – especially the music app (I don’t think I will ever listen to I Will Follow again without hearing him sing it), and he was there when we got baptized…  We spoke different languages, but we learned to communicate the most important things – swim, peanut butter, hungry, hello, yes/no, and the sweet silence that often defined this new found friendship.

I could write for days about my experiences in Haiti and the love I have for the people there.  But it’s getting late, so I will fast forward to the latest on sweet Billie. Through sponsorship and prayers from people we know and people we may never meet, I’m happy to report that Billie has started school and he now lives with his dad.

If you had told me two years ago that I would now be planning my third trip to Haiti to see my sponsor son, I would have laughed in your face.  It’s funny how life takes the most unexpected, yet joyful turns!

Jesus’ last words tell us to go and make disciples of all nations.  If missions or even sponsoring a child has been weighing on your heart, take the leap.  It will change your life.

For more information on how to donating, sponsoring a Haitian child, mission trips to Haiti, or the work that our mission is doing, visit http://www.giveushopemission.org/ or contact me – I will be happy to talk you through it!

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40

Blessings to you!

 

Naked… Or something like it.

I’ve sat down several times to write this post.  And every time I’ve shut down the computer instead.

Because how do you put into words that you’ve all but sidestepped your faith over theimage1 (1) last few months?  How do you bare your mighty Christian soul and admit such a thing?

Oh, the judgement… the ridicule… or dare I say, understanding?

If I had to guess, you’ve been in my shoes.  That season of life that trips you up when you least expect it and you find yourself in a position where you. just. can’t.

You try to read your Bible, but you can’t seem to get anything off the page.
You try to pray, but you can’t seem to find the words.
You need to go to church, but you can’t seem to get out of bed.
At best, you’re disconnected.

And if you’re lucky like me, you have amazing people in your life who see your struggle and try to speak life into you… And if you’re like me, you didn’t want to hear anything they have to say.  It’s seasons like this where you don’t want to hear of God’s goodness, or His faithfulness, or His timing.

Because you already know all that.  You already know His promises.

But you. just. can’t. put on your pretty little Christian face right now.

Have you ever been there, my friend?

I sure have.
Sometimes, I still am.

While it’s seasons like this where we. just. can’t… It’s also seasons like this that we just have to.  Because while we serve a loving God who is always going to welcome us with open arms, there is also an enemy who is just looking for the opportunity to wreak havoc in your life.

Like a thief in the night, he will sneak in and plant doubt, anger, jealousy, discontentment, confusion, and the like.

So, what do we do in times like this?  When you. just. can’t?

You do it anyway.

I know what you’re thinking… It’s probably the same thoughts that went through my mind when my dear friend Taten told me that.  And while I initially ignored his advice because I didn’t want to hear it, he was right.

Now, I’m stubborn, so don’t be like me.  But do believe me when I say, it’s okay.
It’s okay if you’ve wandered away.
It’s okay if you’re having a hard time finding your way back.
It’s okay if you feel guilty, or ashamed, or unworthy.
But the good news is, you don’t have to feel that way.

Because, Jesus.

So dear friend, crack open that Bible or open up that devotional app on your phone.  Have a chat with Jesus.  Call that friend who is always quick to listen. And just know, you are not alone in your struggles.

I know you. just. can’t. right now, but… Do it anyway.

Blessings!

A Dose of Truth in Life’s Darkness

I grew up believing in God, because it’s what I was supposed to do.  I grew up going to children’s church, and reading Bible stories, and singing hymns.  I wore pretty dresses and I loved going to Bible school. I knew Jesus was born on Christmas and we celebrated His death and Resurrection on Easter.  I knew Eve ate the apple, Cain killed Abel, I knew Noah built the Ark, and I knew Joshua fought the battle of Jericho (and the walls came tumbling down).  I could tell you that Moses parted the Red Sea and I had the Passover episode of Rugrats on VHS.  I knew church happened on Sunday and Wednesday.  And I participated in my fair share of Christmas plays.

But I also believed being a Christian was a list of things you could and couldn’t do.  And if I listened to country music I was going to Hell. (I remember that sermon quite vividly)  And if I prayed for myself, I was being selfish.

In other words, I didn’t grow up with a good understanding of what a Christian is.

And if I’m honest, I was well into my adulthood before I truly grasped the meaning.  And if I’m 100% transparent with you right now, I still struggle.

My misconceptions about faith caused me to feel unworthy in a church pew;  like a fraud among a congregation of do-gooders and biblical scholars.  More often than not, I felt unworthy because I didn’t fit into this box of Christians.

But that’s the problem, isn’t it?

We tend to put God in a box.

Though it’s never spoken that you have to check items off a list to be considered a Christian, it’s certainly insinuated.

  • Read your Bible.. Only the King James Version will do. (Sorry if you can’t understand it.)
  • If the doors are open, go to church.
  • If (cough, cough.. when) you sin, don’t talk about it.
  • Always believe that God is good… unless you take a sip of beer and he casts you into the depths of Hades.

I’m kinda kidding on that last part, but you know what I’m saying.

We have grown up hearing that we are never allowed to step out of line and if you do it is shameful and it must never be spoken of.  Hide your indiscretions at all costs.  Mistakes are not okay, ever.  Don’t let anyone see the dirt on your pretty little Christian face.

What we didn’t grow up hearing is that we because live in the flesh, we are going to be tempted at every turn to sin…  That every day we will encounter the enemy trying to destroy us, that the enemy will use his most cunning and clever tactics to ruin God’s perfect plan for our lives.

And if we’re not talking about that, we’re not talking about how to handle those instances.  And we’re certainly not talking about the grace that we’ve been given through Christ.  So in turn, people have left the church… because who wants to serve a God who only wants squeaky clean pew sitters?

Don’t get me wrong, sin is never okay and grace doesn’t give us the option to just sin freely, BUT what we’ve been missing is, we serve a God who loves us and is ready to meet us where we are.

So many people (myself included) have believed that we have to get our lives right before we try to know Jesus… but sweet friends, I have learned something.

 Jesus is not scared of our messes.

If our God loves us enough to send His son to die for our sins, don’t you think He loves us enough to accept us while we’re broken?

And if our God is gracious enough to meet us when we’re broken, addicted, ashamed, etc…. shouldn’t we, as His people, be willing to do the same for others?

Peter is one of my favorite people in the Bible.  We meet Peter as a fisherman who literally dropped what he was doing to follow Jesus.  And while his blind faith alone is inspiring, it’s the portrait of how real Peter was that makes him so relate-able.  In Matthew 14, we read about the miracle of Jesus walking on water.

You’ve heard it before, whether you’re a believer or not.

But what we so often overlook, is Peter’s role.  Matthew 14:28 tells us that Peter asked Jesus to prove His identity by allowing him to walk on water, but just a mere two verses later, we witness Peter’s faith wavering as he encounters winds and he begins to sink…

But instead of punishing his moment of weakness, Jesus was there to take his hand and lead him back to the boat.

Isn’t that us?  We ask God to let us walk with him and we proclaim our faith, but when get things get “windy” we tend to retreat… if even for a second.

Peter is just one example of the love of Christ.  He shows us that God can use us and love us, even when our faith wavers.  Our God is always there to catch us.  He’s always there to meet us and put us back in the boat.

Shouldn’t we do that too?  Meet people where they are instead of beating our chests and waving our mighty biblical knowledge in their face?  Shouldn’t we speak truth and love into people instead of picking and choosing the nuggets of scripture that fit our agenda?

I could write for days on this, because I have been blessed with friends and mentors who’ve met me where I was at, taken my hand, and lovingly led me back to the boat just as Jesus does.

I’ve learned God will send you people from all walks of life to pour into you, show you grace, and love you where you are.  We just have to recognize them and in turn, extend the same grace to others.

After all, His greatest commandment was to love… though the Bible never mentioned deciding who was worth it.

I still struggle everyday to wrap my mind around this thing called faith.  I still get discouraged and ask why.  I’ve prayed angry, desperate prayers.  Some days I don’t even want to recognize God’s supernatural greatness, because it’s my first instinct to throw a pity party and stew in my toxic thoughts.

But then I am reminded that those thoughts and feelings of doubt, shame, unworthiness, guilt, loneliness, inadequacy… Those are tactics of the enemy because he wants to steal our joy.  When those thoughts start creeping in, we just have to remember God’s promises.

You’re worth it.
I’m worth it.

It’s time we start living that way.

Blessings! ♥️

Callie