Girl, get back in your circle.

tue.jpg

Do you see them? The opposing sides with their defenses up? The steely eyed glances passed back and forth amongst those in the body of Christ - as we're waiting, watching, for one another to make a false move. 

It doesn't happen everywhere or all the time. But it's hard to imagine that every community is completely void of the cautious look-around. There are exceptions to the rule, for sure. But it does seem like there are large amounts of people really working hard to draw battle lines, to determine who is right and who is wrong, to clarify who’s camp they’re in, and these people seem prepared to decimate the opponent they’ve determined their enemy.

I've been there, so I'm going to go first and confess. I've judged my sisters in Christ - those coheirs of the kingdom, those carrying heavy burdens. I've made sweeping statements about what the state of their souls must be like based on how they dress, what they read, what they post, and who they follow. I treated my sisters like enemies. 

I forgot the enemy was the enemy. It's not the author who has a different viewpoint, or the pastor who said the wrong thing. I forgot that Satan, the one leading the charge to cause dissension and confusion and conflict was the only enemy. And then I started to see the battle lines around me, including the ones I'd drawn, and my heart was grieved. 

Here’s the thing: this happens on a macro level, but it also happens in our churches, our homes, and friend groups. Someone sins, someone slips up, someone does what humans ultimately do and act fallible - and suddenly, WE ARE ALL UP IN ARMS. We can’t believe they’d do that! We’re incredulous. I thought they were a man of God or a woman of God and if so, how and why could they go and do that: act like a human?!

We can’t believe they’d do that! We’re incredulous. I thought they were a man of God or a woman of God and if so, how and why could they go and do that: act like a human?!

If we’re talking about holiness, the fighter inside of all of us (our pride) is going to work VERY hard to tempt us into only talking about how other people aren’t holy. We’re going to be tempted to see how that person over there (across the room or across the country) isn’t agreeing with the holiness that God has written over their lives. So let’s stop right now and make a pact: we’ll stay in our own circle of holiness. When we talk about ways we might be falling short of the identity that’s ours in Christ Jesus, we’ll talk about it like it’s just that: ours. Not yours. Not theirs. Not so and so’s.

Let’s draw a circle around ourselves and say - this is the human I’m most determined to help honor God and I refuse to entertain the temptation to spend my days judging others and treating humans like the enemy.

Let’s draw a circle around ourselves and say - this is the human I’m most determined to help honor God and I refuse to entertain the temptation to spend my days judging others and treating humans like the enemy.

Is this hard? Yes. Will it massively free us up? Yes. Are there exceptions to the rule? Absolutely.

But you’re going to have to read Dance Stand Run to hear a little more about that.

Chapter Three is called “Draw a Holy Circle” and I can’t wait for you to read it. If you preorder before the book launches on October 24th, we’ve got some crazy fun gifts for you. Head here to check them out. 

This is not a two party system.

mon.jpg

The election season of 2016 left me reeling, listening, and broken - anyone else? I'm a middle child who craves peace at heart, and seeing most of our country erupt into anger and extreme frustration at one another did a number on me. I often understood the anger, could even identify with it, but couldn't get over seeing our nation ripped in two by polarizing ideals. 

I know very little about politics, but this much seems simple: the two party system can't be the only way. If there are only two parties and each one is supposed to represent all potential views, you’re going to end up with archetypes and extremes. You’re going to miss out on nuance, tensions, and complex ideas that don’t sit well in seemingly polarizing camps. As I spoke with friends and loved ones during this crazy election season, I heard so many people expressing what I felt inside: an extreme view from one side or the other doesn’t really represent my viewpoints. There has to be a middle ground.

But this is not a blog post about politics - so let’s don’t get lost on that. The thing is: I think the same is true for our faith. I think this two party system has crept it’s way into our churches and our Christian communities and I have a feeling it’s not sitting well with you either. It seems right now that there is one camp yelling about grace and another professing our need for holiness and I see it everywhere I turn. 

This two party system has crept it’s way into our churches and our Christian communities and I have a feeling it’s not sitting well with you either.

My own story of struggling between holiness and grace is long and drawn out - but here it is summed up: I spent the first few years of my walk with Jesus feeling the need to cover up, hide my own brokenness, and earn my way into His approval. I felt a call to be holy, but the work to get there left me exhausted and exasperated - unsure of where the peace was in this equation.

Then, someone lovingly helped me understand what it means to receive the gospel, not just believe the gospel - and I found myself DELIGHTED by the grace of God. I heard that grace meant He leaned in towards me, at just the right time, when I needed Him most and could never earn my way to Him. I found that I could work from a place of His approval, rather than striving for it. But with my standing secure, I let any ideas of holiness or righteousness fall to the wayside.

And then. I was left aching and confused. What was a I set free from and where had that freedom set me to? If everything was grace, if grace covered it all - why did I still feel broken when I sinned and why did I not feel satisfied and free?

The truth I was missing all those years is that my faith life is not a two-party system. We don’t have to choose between pursuing holiness and celebrating the grace. No one is saying we must live a different way, and you won’t hear the word should come out of my mouth in this context either.

The thing is: I don’t think we’re meant to live in the extremes of earning our way to God or acting like we weren’t made for holy living. I don’t even think we’re supposed to function out of grace 50% of the time and a yearning for holiness the other 50%. I think we GET TO to dive in deep, grasping the grace and pardon we’ve been given by the blood of Jesus AND I think we GET TO stand our holy ground, recognizing who He has made us to be and what He has called us to.

In all earnest: any notion that pits the grace of God against holiness (His or ours), any thought that separates the two even - is lacking truth, abundance, and hope. 

In all earnest: any notion that pits the grace of God against holiness (His or ours), any thought that separates the two even - is lacking truth, abundance, and hope. 

Want to hear more? I can’t wait to share more of this with you. Dance Stand Run is a book of story and study that comes out on October 24th and this is what it’s about: less restricting two party systems, more abundant life. You in?

If you order today, or any day before the book launches, we’ve got fun gifts for you here. Let’s keep going. 

So what, satan.

Slide1.jpg

In the last year, as it pertains to writing and teaching, the enemy has been near and loud - speaking some serious doubt and fear into my life. That liar has told me that I'm stupid and silly, not intellectual enough and overly emotional. I've entertained anxiety, insecurity, and rejection. There's been the temptation for me to feel too far left and too far right or overly spiritual and ridiculously worldly all at once. 

It's been very interesting to process and fight these fears as I travel to teach and as I write a book. Sometimes I've experienced victory, and sometimes I've hidden and shrunk back. But I've felt the Lord's mercy in both of those responses - and craved freedom more than ever before. 

I've found peace in an unexpected place: not in the encouragement of others, not in time or worldly success. I've found peace in communing with God and saying SO WHAT about any accusation throw my way. So what if I'm not the smartest? So what if I don't say it perfectly? So what if they reject me? So what if I'm misunderstood? 

I've found peace in communing with God and saying SO WHAT about any accusation throw my way. 

I'm not here for the approval and I'm not in it for the accolades, so instead I'll become obsessed with the problems God has given me words to talk about. I'll keep talking and showing up, pointing to Him, and remembering that it was all for Him, by Him, and through Him anyhow. 

And all that is a lengthy and wordy way to say that yesterday, when some of my fears were still at a fever pitch - I signed a deal to keep writing books with Zondervan for a few more years. I think the team there is the greatest in the world and I'm so thankful they saw fit to let this girl with all the emotions, and words, and affection for pink write about God. I'm so thankful they take my wide eyed manifestos and turn them into tools for the women of God to utilize as they take their place in the kingdom. 

And here's my encouragement to you: if you feel like the enemy is lying to your soul (he probably is), tell him, "so what?". Ignore him and get with the Creator. We don't have to bargain and barter to build our identities - we don't have to defend ourselves because we're upheld by the breastplate of righteousness. That enemy of your soul is nothing but a schoolyard bully taking cheap shots to anyone who will listen, so just ignore him and move on.

That enemy of your soul is nothing but a schoolyard bully taking cheap shots to anyone who will listen, so just ignore him and move on.

I also want to just specifically say a massive thanks to the team that helps me write books, because I'm not sure I've ever done that in blog form. Jenni, my agent, is the gal who pushes me to be faithful to what God has called me to. Stephanie is my book editor who literally reads every word time and again, shifting them and moving them so that they're accessible and legible and helpful. I've described Sara, my curriculum editor, as the wisest woman in America - she loves the Bible fiercely and believes women should absolutely be taught to use it. She's so good at what she does. Alicia and Jennifer help us steward this message from the very get-go and Carly has incredible insight about devotionals and so far I have so loved working with her. These are just a few of the women that make it happen, but I just don't get to talk about them too much and wanted to take a minute to say thanks. 

And! Since it's been exactly one million years since I blogged, here are some updates: 

Dance Stand Run preorder gifts launched! 

You can get a ton of fun gifts, including an eBook I wrote with a bunch of friends about running on mission. There are prints, worship music, fun leadership groups, and HATS. Head to the Dance Stand Run website to see more. 

School started back! 

And all the mamas said "Amen!"

I pray y'all are doing so well and able to stand firm against the enemies' schemes at work in your life. He may be obnoxious and loud, but he already lost. Tell him so what and ignore him. Jesus is mighty in you. 

Untitled_Artwork 15.jpg
 

 


 

 

Here's why celebrating Advent matters.

You're busy women. I'm a busy woman. So I'm going to spit some words out and I'm just going straight bullet points, is that fair? 

- The world knows something special is coming. That's what Santa Claus and twinkle lights and Starbucks Red Cups are all about. But we, the women of God, actually know what that thing is: Jesus. When we celebrate Advent + Christmas with intention, we show them what that special thing is and it's even more beautiful when we invite them into that with us! 

- Our culture, our country, our Christian church has taken a beating in the last few months. We could use some hope, celebration, and joy that binds our hearts together instead of fighting over the things that tear us apart. 

- Celebrating Advent Is a direct oppositional attack to a consumeristic obsession that typically dominates the weeks that are coming. Celebrating Advent says that we're celebrating the fact that Jesus has come and is coming back more than we're celebrating the things that we want to be coming to us. 

So here's my deal, y'all. I've been obsessed with helping women celebrate Advent for the last few years and this year is no exception. The only difference this year is that I'm deadset on helping women do it in a way that is actually life-giving, not time-sucking. I want to help women celebrate Advent with their eyes on Jesus, not on the projects they can complete and the goodness they can produce. 

This year, I've got friends and a business partner and we've got a whole new story to tell. This year we asked the Lord to help us declare "Let it Be" over each day of our Advent - instead of trying to push women to do more, be more, fix themselves, or somehow do Advent right. We've worked with a bunch of our online friends to write a really peace-filled devotional - 25 entries, that also happens to be really beautiful. And on top of that, our devotional correlates to the Advent Calendar we make each year. It's beautiful too and it's just an easy way to celebrate in your home without going overboard, spending a ton of money, or using hours and hours of your time to make crafts. 

It's been a huge blessing for our family to utilize the calendar for the last few years and it is our JOY to celebrate this year again. We'd so love for you to join us. This is the last week to get your Amen Advent products and last year we sold out, so please - please don't wait! 

If you want to hear more, we've got a few opportunities for you to join us this week! 

Let's dance, stand, and run.

You guys, I'm so excited (and sweaty) to share this first little snippet of news. 

I'm coming in hot with no official pictures or any kind of strategic plan, but I've been dying to tell you all a little more about Book #2 and I just got the green light this morning from my friends at Zondervan. I've been in the process of writing this book for a few months now, but I'm officially in THE THICK OF IT and it feels like it's time to spill the beans and share with the world so it doesn't feel so sneaky and secretive. 

I should start off with this: This is NOT the book I'd planned to write. Book #2 was always going to be something else, something a lot lighter and easier to write on. That book may still come or it may not, but in the beginning of the summer the Lord starting messing with my heart regarding a whole separate subject. What has followed has been a lot of sweaty obedience and that's still really where I'm at today: sweating, shaking hands, typing and crying and typing some more, praying and processing, trying to get this book out - one that doesn't feel light or fluffy or easy to talk about. 

If you get my No Filter newsletter, you might have gotten an email a few months ago with the title, "I Forgot About Holiness". In it I wrote about how I'd always known we don't receive grace because of our holiness or our good works, but I'd forgotten that grace was supposed to spur us on to holy living and loving. I started asking myself, "Have I traded holiness for grace? Have I forgotten that God empowers us to live set apart AND dancing in His grace at same time?". The conviction of that question was enough for me. I didn't feel like I need to lead anyone in it or write anything about it, but again - the Lord kept messing with me. 

When I first felt the tug to potentially write about this, I was journaling and writing these words, "I'm not the holiness girl. I'm the wild and free girl. I like pop culture and I love giving women GRACE and I don't have any right to be the one saying we need to remember that we stand on Holy Ground as women of God. I'd rather talk about MISSION - about running with God and getting stuff done." But I heard the Lord, my husband and friends, and finally my editors say back: It's the wild and free women, the ones who understand grace and freedom, that need to talk about holiness. Really ALL of us could use some talking about holiness, shouldn't we do it with grace and mission all mixed in the conversation? 

So that's what I'm doing. Writing this book, which is currently being called Dance, Stand, Run (but could change!), as a refresher on God's grace, a reminder about the holy ground we stand on as daughters of God, and a call to run on mission with Him. It's filled with honest and vulnerable stories, but it's also paired with study - some deep diving into God's Word so we can get His take on these issues. It's a call to be used by God to change the world without being changed by it in the process. It's a call that I'm trying to write and answer all at once, and wouldn't you know, that's taking a lot of GRACE. So - full circle, amen? 

And why am I sharing all this TODAY?

a) I'll take your prayers if you've got them. Truly, how many times can one person mention they're sweaty in one blog post? 
b) Today is exactly ONE YEAR to the date of the book's launch - it will come out October 24th 2017, so today feels sweet and symbolic. 
c) I'm truly in the thick of writing this book and this is my placeholder online to say - I'm going semi-dark until it's done. I'll be on instagram less, I'm not sending any newsletters in the meantime - the only spot I'm hopping on a good bit is my Facebook page where I've been asking questions to hear from real women as I write. I'd love if you'd join us over there so I can get your take on grace, holiness, and mission as I go.

I believe it's time that we stop "should"ing and shaming one another. I believe it's time we look to God for grace and look down at our feet to remember where He has purchased us to. I believe that when we grab His grace and stand our holy ground, we'll be compelled to run on mission. And I'm so ready to dance, stand, and run with all of you. 

Amen? Amen.