Love and Faith

Be Brave, Not Safe

It was my dream job, but it was hundreds of miles away.

I always knew that if God opened the doors into the publishing industry, I would have to leave where I was living at the time: Austin, TX. And let me tell you, I love that city! I had incredible community, deep friendships, and a church that challenged and encouraged me. Plus, the food…it’s some of the best in the world. Really, it is.

As soon as I got the offer though, I knew I was leaving. I had been applying to publishing jobs for two years. I knew God opened the door I had been praying for. But would it be worth it? Would it be worth it to leave everything behind to such a great unknown?

Prior to my job interview, 98% of my experience with Colorado had been with the Denver airport. I hated cold weather. I didn’t know a soul in the city or of any churches. It was terrifying, even while exciting. Would I make friends? Would I find a church I loved? Would I survive winter?!?

The Lord was faithful through that season and He continued to remind me of this truth in so many ways. Through scriptures like this one found in Ephesians:

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

But He also spoke to me in one of my love languages: Fiction. In C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Aslan (the Lion who represents Jesus) has seemingly remained quiet in the land of Narnia as the terrible White Witch has claimed it as her own. Slowly things start to change, the never ending winter begins to melt and true Narnians began to have hope.

Aslan was on the move.

He was on the move in my life too. Did that mean my fear went away? Nope, but it gave me the courage to be brave. Just like in the book, where even though Aslan was moving to destroy the hold the White Witch had over Narnia, the four Pevensies siblings (and array of amazing creatures created by Lewis) still had to fight. They still had to choose to be brave. Safety wasn’t an option. But they had the best guide. One of my favorite lines about Aslan comes from Mr. Beaver, after one of the children asks if this Lion they kept hearing about is safe. He responds: “Safe? Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”

“The Lord is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 (NASB)

It’s been two years now that I’ve called Colorado home and there continues to be plenty of opportunities to choose bravery over safety. Whether it is safety from failure, safety for my feelings, or safety from hurt.

It was pushing through as I searched for months for a church home. It was trusting that God would provide community, trusting that while I hadn’t connected in those first few months through different church groups, it would come. It was pushing through the awkwardness of making new friends (making new friends as an adult is hard!). And yet.

He was and is faithful.

These days? I love my church, my friends, and my community in Colorado. They are a gift to my soul. There’s plenty of times I need to remind myself about this (as life tends to send changes all the time), but I am so thankful the Lord continues to give me the strength to be brave and not safe.

Being brave isn’t fully conquering fear. It will always be there. It’s choosing to not let it stand in the way. It’s not always easy, but I’ve learned it is always worth it. When I don’t want to take that step of faith? I remember my favorite lion Aslan. I remember Who he represents and am reminded I’m not alone, Jesus will always be with me. And I can remember that “He’s wild, you know. Not like a tame lion.”

May we always choose to be wild.

“This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 (NLT)

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Love and Faith

What a Toro Can Teach Us

I absolutely love the movie Coco. It’s delightful, charming, and such a beautiful message. I love what it says about the importance of family and following your dreams. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend. After chatting about my love of the movie, a good friend recommended I watch The Book of Life. I did and y’all, loved it just as much. It’s a love story, a story of friendship, and standing for what you believe it.

Without giving away everything (because you should definitely watch it), Manolo comes from a long line of matadors, but his heart is with music (plus he refused to kill the bulls). As the story goes on, Manolo finds himself is a hard situation. In order to get back to his love before Dia de Muertos is over, he must first beat all the toros that his ancestors bested and killed (who have combined to make one massive bull). Here’s what happens:

(I also recommend listening to the Spanish version of the song. It’s beautiful)

Not only does he stand his ground against killing the bull, Manolo choses another route – one of asking for forgiveness. These lyrics get me everytime:

Toro, I am humbled, for tonight I understand.
Your royal blood was never meant to decorate this sand.
You have suffered great injustice, so have thousands before you.
I offer an apology, and one long overdue..
I am sorry, Toro, I am sorry, hear my song and know I sing the truth.
Although we were bred to fight, I reach for kindness in your heart tonight.
Oh and if you can forgive and if you can forgive, love can truly live…

This is by far one of my favorite scenes in the movie. It is such beautiful imagery of what forgiveness can do, both for the one asking and for the one receiving. Both the bull and Manolo get peace they have longed for.

Forgiveness is a powerful gift. Maybe there’s someone you need to ask forgiveness for, maybe you need to forgive someone, or maybe it’s yourself you need to forgive. Whatever the case may be, may you take the same steps as Manolo. I promise something beautiful will come from it.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32

Love and Faith

Truth From a Priestly Blessing

A call to something greater.

Isn’t that what so many people desire? That at the core of who we are, we want to leave a legacy that greatly impacts on the world?

How easy it is to think we have to have a big enough platform to do this, but greater doesn’t automatically translate into something along the lines of “famous.” God calls some to that, but not the majority of us.

If we were to wait for the right size platform/popularity, etc, nothing would ever really get done would it?

I’ve been going through the Old Testament again (and yep, Leviticus is just as exciting as it always is) and while reading in Numbers 6, I came across this priestly blessing that Aaron and his sons were given from the Lord to share. It reads:

“The LORD bless you and keep you; the LORD make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the LORD turn his face toward you and give you peace.” ‭Numbers‬ ‭6:24-26‬ ‭NIV‬‬

It got me thinking how I could bless more people. What if I meant these words to both those who followed Jesus and those who didn’t? What if I prayed this truth over others? What the Lord could do with that kind of prayer!

I was reading up on some commentary (from the Life Application Bible Commentary) of this blessing and I love what it revealed.

  • To “bless and keep” meant to ask for favor and protection.
  • To ask for a “face to shine” meant that God would be pleased.
  • Asking for graciousness meant that the person would receive God’s mercy and compassion.
  • Asking for the Lord’s face towards someone? That meant you were asking that God would give them His approval (which I’m so thankful we get through Jesus!).

And peace. I know we can all use peace more than ever.

So I leave you, dear reader, with this blessing and praying that you truly would see it in your life today!

Love and Faith

I Want to Be Dangerous

My church is currently going through a series called DANGEROUS. Each week we look at the lives of the people in the Bible who were dangerous to satan, the people who showed up on his radar as people to watch and go after. I’m loving it! Not only because it’s been great, but it has reminded me of the truths in Screwtape Letters and as we all know, that’s one of my favorites from Lewis. Anyway, we’ve talked about Jesus, David, and Esther.

After each sermon, I’ve been randomly thinking of ways I need to be more dangerous. Do I trust my own strengths or do I trust Jesus’ strength? Do I wait for His timing? Am I seeking Him daily through His Word and prayer? Do I trust Him in the battles?

It’s been convicting and encouraging at the same time. I don’t have much more to add (plus it’s been 900 years since I’ve blogged), but I encourage you to look at those people who kept satan on his toes and, what do you say? Let’s be dangerous together!

(If you’d like to watch the sermons, check out the sermon videos here!)

And for chuckles, here’s a video from one of the sermons. Each week, some of the staff members do something dangerous and I got to stare my fear of heights in the face. Like for real. I have two things to say: 1. Sorry for the scream. 2. I had to sign a waiver, so legit dangerous 🙂

Book Reviews, Love and Faith, Nonfiction

CSB Apologetics Study Bible | Review

The CSB Apologetics Study Bible helps today’s Christians better understand, defend, and proclaim their beliefs in an age of increasing moral and spiritual relativism. This revised and updated edition includes new articles and extensive apologetics study material from today’s leading apologists to reflect and provide deeper understanding of the relevant apologetics issues and questions being discussed today.

Includes commentary from over 90 leading apologists, including: Ted Cabal, Lee Strobel, Chuck Colson, Paul Copan, Norm Geisler, Hank Hanegraaff, Josh McDowell, Albert Mohler, J.P. Moreland, Ravi Zacharias, and many more — plus a lead article by Lee Strobel (The Case for Christ).

Features include: Presentation page, Book Introductions, Study Notes, Apologetics articles from leading apologists, “Twisted Scripture” explanations for commonly misunderstood passages, Profiles of Christian apologists, Two-color interior, Two-column text, 9.75-point type size, Smyth-sewn binding, Ribbon marker, Full-color maps, and more.

The CSB Apologetics Study Bible features the highly readable, highly reliable text of the Christian Standard Bible® (CSB). The CSB stays as literal as possible to the Bible’s original meaning without sacrificing clarity, making it easier to engage with Scripture’s life-transforming message and to share it with others.

I was really impressed with this Bible. Full disclosure, I didn’t review every single article, but I didn’t read several and thought they were helpful pieces to the conversations many of us have with unbelievers. It helped that one of the random profiles I came across was on C.S. Lewis :).

I also thought the “twisted scripture” bits throughout were really helpful. How do other religions use scripture to fit their theology? Explaining the reasons and other scriptures helped my understanding of other religions. I think information like this is not only important to engage in intelligent conversations, but also strengthens my beliefs in Scripture.

What’s one of your favorite apologetics resources?

(Thank you to Holman Bible Publishers for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Love and Faith

There Are Better Things Ahead

This year has been a year. In both incredible ways and also really hard and ugly ways. From personal events and happenings, to things in friend’s lives (from exciting engagements and babies to cancer diagnoses), to global events (from racism, to horrific mass shootings, to heart wrenching natural disasters to people coming together in beautiful ways), 2017 has been a year. A heavy year that I’m most definitely ready to say farewell to.

But here’s the thing: I’m thankful that each has taught me that it doesn’t end here. This is not it. It’s because of this truth, I have hope. Psalm 71:14 reads, “As for me, I will always have hope.” I don’t know what I would do without that promise. Without the Words that bring hope and are true.

“There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.”

I have this hanging on a wall in my house – a gift from a friend and the quote is from none other than C.S. Lewis.

The quote comes from a letter Lewis wrote. A few months back it was posted by an author friend, Tamera Alexander, as she and her family worked through her Dad’s failing health. Here’s the full letter:

TO MARY WILLIS SHELBURNE: On how to rehearse for death and how to diminish fear.
17 June 1963
Pain is terrible, but surely you need not have fear as well? Can you not see death as the friend and deliverer? It means stripping off that body which is tormenting you: like taking off a hairshirt or getting out of a dungeon. What is there to be afraid of? You have long attempted (and none of us does more) a Christian life. Your sins are confessed and absolved. Has this world been so kind to you that you should leave it with regret? There are better things ahead than any we leave behind.

Remember, though we struggle against things because we are afraid of them, it is often the other way round—we get afraid because we struggle. Are you struggling, resisting? Don’t you think Our Lord says to you ‘Peace, child, peace. Relax. Let go. Underneath are the everlasting arms. Let go, I will catch you. Do you trust me so little?’

Of course, this may not be the end. Then make it a good rehearsal.
Yours (and like you a tired traveller near the journey’s end) Jack
From The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III

That’s the hope that keeps me going. That no matter how horrific evil rears its head, there’s hope. This may not be the end for many of us, so I plan on making this a really great rehearsal. Christ isn’t finished yet – with me or the Church.

I will continue to fight and speak out against injustices and work towards making our nation the ideal it has long promised (and the world too). Action is an important piece to our Christian life. Whether that’s helping my neighbor or working towards change in our government. My Christianity isn’t tied to a party or one cause. It’s dedicated to the pursuit of justice (and Christian, pro-life views do not end once a baby is born, but that’s another post for another time), loving my neighbor (even when I don’t agree with them) and trying to leave this world a better place.

I will continue to pray because that is the most important piece. You know what else I will continue to do? Be active. Be a voice. Use my freedom to hold accountable politicians. Demand for more. And live everyday as I think Jesus would – serving, loving and sharing the hope I have in Christ.

Love and Faith

What If?

I’ve learned that when God wants to teach me something (and usually a repeat lesson, I can be stubborn on occasion), He is the most Creative out there. He doesn’t stop at Scripture or prayer (although I’m a fan of both). He brings in all the things – even a country song.

Have you heard the song “What If” by Kane Brown? It hit the radio a few months ago. It’s super catchy and cute and I became an instant fan. Here’s some of the lyrics:

You say what if I hurt you, what if I leave you
What if I find somebody else and I don’t need you
What if this goes south, what if I mess you up
You say what if I break your heart in two then what…

What if I was made for you and you were made for me
What if this is it, what if it’s meant to be
What if I ain’t one of them fools just playin’ some game
What if I just pulled you close, what if I leaned in
And the stars line up and it’s our last first kiss
What if one of these days baby I’d go and change your name
What if I loved all these what ifs away

When it came on the radio several weeks back, I thought to myself how the “What If” idea isn’t only for romance. It’s for all aspects of life. It’s easy to become cynical in the world we’re living, but I never want to.

Recently, the Life Group I host and co-lead picked a study by Mark Batterson and you know what it’s called? What If. No lie. The whole bible study is based around Romans 8:31:

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?”

In one of the recent video studies, Batterson talked about Ephesians 3:20. It’s been a life verse for several years now. Years back, when I was in Austin, my church did a whole series on it. Through this new study, God has been reminding me what He taught me back in Austin. No joke, a couple of days after that study, my morning scripture reading was Ephesians 3. I legit laughed out loud as soon as I opened up my bible. To top it off, I started decorating for Christmas (Judge away internet. Judge away. ;)) and an ornament I didn’t even know I had, had Ephesians 3:20 written on it.

I’ve kept this for years and is a reminder I see every morning

There’s been conversations with friends, with coworkers and even other books I’ve read….all things that God has brought into my path, reminding me Who He is, what He is able to do and what He wants to do. So why would I ever stop asking What If?

What if…
…I could get that job?
…that dream was worth going after?
…I became the parent I believe I could be?
…that relationship were possible?
…We pursued adoption?
…I could make that move?
…I put myself out there to make friends?
…I took that chance?

These are several “what ifs” I’ve heard people in my life ask and prayer through. I’ve been inspired by these people. In the past, I’ve sometimes done the, “well if I don’t ask for it, I won’t be disappointed when God says no.” It’s easier that way isn’t it? But what a depressing and fearful way to live. We were made for so much more.

“You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4

“Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

I’ll share one more quote from the video study that has stuck with me since: “God has blessings for you in categories that you don’t even know exist.”

May we always live life that way. Expectant and willing.

What I love about this truth is, it’s for everyone. Whether you’re “what if” makes you famous or whether it gives you the courage to be the parent you want to be (or both!), God’s truth remains the same and that “what if” will change the world.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

What’s the “What If” in your life?

And in case you want to hear the country song – here y’all go!

Book Reviews, Love and Faith, Nonfiction

She Reads Truth Bible

The She Reads Truth Bible aims to live at the intersection of beauty, goodness, and Truth. Featuring devotionals by the She Reads Truth team, and Scripture reading plans that include supplemental passages for deeper understanding, this Bible invites every woman to count themselves among the She Reads Truth community of “Women in the Word of God every day.” The She Reads Truth Bible also features 66 key verses, artfully lettered to aid in Scripture memorization.

Features include: almost 200 devotionals, 66 artist-designed key verses, 35 full-color timelines, 20 full-color maps, 11 full-color charts, reading plans for every book of the Bible, one-year Bible reading plan, detailed book introductions, key verse list, carefully curated topical index, smyth-sewn binding, two colored ribbon markers, and wide margins for journaling and note-taking.

The She Reads Truth Bible features the Christian Standard Bible (CSB) text. Translated by more than 100 scholars from 17 denominations, the Christian Standard Bible features an optimal blend of accuracy and readability that’s faithful for serious study, and written with heart-stirring clarity that inspires readers to live and share it.

Well, simply put, this is a beautiful Bible! I’m such a visual person, so beautiful maps, script, quotes, images, they will inspire me every time. This will make a beautiful gift for any woman who loves God’s Word. Outside of the actual scripture, there’s plenty of inspiration throughout AND lots of space for journaling and note taking. I love that there’s a one year reading plan included as well.

I also love the devotionals sprinkled throughout. There’s an incredible variety, voices and topics. I truly believe they’ll encourage you wherever you’re at. This is a beautiful bible and would make a very special gift!

What kind of Bible owner are you? Keep one until it falls apart? Try new versions? Have multiple ones?

You can find out more about the details of the bible at shereadstruthbible.com.

(Thank you to B&H for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Family Life, Love and Faith

Aslan is on The Move….And I’m Half Terrified/Excited/Can’t Wait!

“When the time is right, I, the Lord, will make it happen.” Isaiah 60:2

I quoted this verse in a post I wrote recently about being a hot mess. I talked about trying to figure out if I was doing life right. Questions like “Am I pursuing what I should be or do I need to let go of that dream?” You know, simple questions.

(Side note, I do believe there are dreams we have that are never meant to be realized and instead its the journey we needed. Like, I was supposed to marry Keanu Reeves. But y’all, I finally let that one go because I accepted this would never come to pass. But don’t worry I can quote Speed like a boss. #TheJourney).

That weekend I also decided to apply to more publishing jobs (true story, about every quarter for the past couple years I would do this. We’re talking ALL THE JOBS in ALL THE CITIES, except really cold states because no) with the thought process of “well, let’s just keep trying.”

You can imagine my excitement when I had a phone interview that very next week and then an in person interview the following week and then a job offer. Y’all WHAT? Was this my life?

And y’all, it was and now is. I am moving from the great state of Texas to the insanely gorgeous state of Colorado to take a position with Waterbrook and Multnomah Publishing.

Internet.

My job will now involve books. All the time!

Yes, I am soooooooo excited, but totally terrified too.

Moving from Texas is different than when I moved from California in so many ways. Leaving California was hard, but I knew I’d always visit. In the 8 years I’ve been in Texas, I’ve created my Texas family. When I think about leaving them, I start crying. #RealTalk. I don’t know when I’ll be able to visit, when they’ll be able to visit (although COLORADO MOUNTAINS FOR THE WIN!), so it’s different leaving. (Plus the food internet. THE FOOD).

Going on an adventure is exciting, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Does that stop me or shut down my excitement? Not at all, because I have seen God’s hand in so many ways through this whole process, He really is just showing off at this point. I LOVE IT.

Being brave and courageous isn’t the absence of fear, but as many have said, it’s the willingness to fight that fear head on. It wouldn’t be courageous if there wasn’t something a bit scary about it.

And so begins the new adventure and new chapter in my life!! #PrayForMeDuringWinter

I can’t wait to share more, the pictures and the all around awesomeness as I explore my new city. Aslan is definitely on the move y’all!