Three Days​

Notre Dame, as it stood just days ago, was a lot of things. It was an important historical landmark, an architectural gem, and a bucket list item for tourist to visit. The fire that destroyed a large portion of Notre Dame is unfortunate, but can I keep it real with you? I struggled internally with the external response of the world. I was bothered by the grief we will express when it comes to a building but the lack of action when it comes to fighting for others who are made in the image of God. I was frustrated that we would care so much about something temporary and care so little about things that impact eternity.

I genuinely had to check my heart with Jesus about this. And then Jesus showed me a little bit of truth. He reminded me that Notre Dame became a lot of things, but it started as a place of worship. It was a place of pilgrimage and prayer. A place for God’s people to gather and to meet with Him. For thousands, it was the only place they felt like they could encounter the presence of God. It mattered in their relationship with Him.

My frustration came on quickly, but as I sat with the Lord, and remembered what things have similar value to me, it produced compassion in me. For me, it’s not a building that I value, but my Bible. I’ve cried hours over having to give a Bible away. I genuinely grieved the loss. Not because there was something magical about my specific Bible. In the physical, it is just words on paper. My Bible mattered to me because it’s a way God has revealed Himself to me. It’s the item I run to when I need truth, peace, hope, and comfort. It’s a place where I know God is going to speak to me. In the spiritual, my bible is a supernatural tool that helps me access and enter into the presence of God. It’s an altar that reminds of all that Jesus and I have journeyed through. Just as Notre Dame to some is just a building, to those who go to worship there, it’s been the place they have access to God. So just as I grieve my Bible when I no longer possess it, I now understand why others grieve a place where they’ve gathered to worship.

As God was working out my frustration and turning it into compassion, He reminded me of another truth which feels timely as we approach Easter. Jesus said in John 2:19 that they could destroy the temple, but He would raise it again in three days. Now the onlookers and disciples thought Jesus was talking about a place of worship. The place where God’s presence dwelt. The disciples even discussed how magnificent the temple was, just as onlookers were doing the morning of the fire at Notre Dame. Jesus was mocked for saying that the temple would be rebuilt in three days. They thought it was impossible for Jesus, a man, to rebuild something that took hundreds of years to build in the first place.

But Jesus wasn’t talking about a physical building. He wasn’t talking about the place where God’s people made sacrifices, worshiped, and learned. He was talking about Himself. He was the dwelling place of the almighty God. He was the temple that would be destroyed. On Friday the disciples grieved the loss of their Savior. The Savior that they expected to rescue them from their oppression, from their ordinary lives, and their enemy. Jesus became their access to truth, peace, hope, and comfort. And with the destruction of the temple as they knew it, they grieved their access to God. They mourned the loss of their friend, their king, and their future and for the next few days, they would sit in that grief.

But Jesus was not playing around when He said the temple would be restored in three days. On Sunday the disciples celebrated because the one who carried the presence of God was resurrected. The temple was rebuilt. Their access to the creator of the universe restored. Sunday brought victory. Sunday brought back access to truth, peace, hope, and comfort. Sunday brought redemption. Not just for the disciples, but also us. Because Jesus paid our debt on the cross, and then defeated death, we have right standing with God. Full access to Him in any place at any time. In a church or on a street corner. In a home or in a hospital. In a dorm room or in your car. It does not matter. On Friday we will grieve what happened to our Savior so that we could be given right standing, but on Sunday we will celebrate that The Temple is risen and now we get to commune without barrier or hindrance with the presence of God.

Then Jesus takes it one step further. When Jesus leaves earth to take His place at the right hand of God, He leaves the Holy Spirit. The literal presence of God. Not to dwell in a building. Not to dwell in only The Christ. But to dwell in you and me. To journey with us. I believe that when Jesus talks about the gates of hell and how they will not overcome the church(one of my favorite moments in scripture), He is not only talking about how the church will build His kingdom and restore what has been lost. He also meant it in an intimate way. Just like Paul mentions in Romans, there will be nothing that can separate us from His love. Nothing will be able to keep us from Deep relationship with Him because He wants to be so present with Us that He dwells within us, always communing with us whether we know it or not. Hell can’t separate us from God’s presence because the temple was restored so He can dwell within us.

The good news is Notre Dame will be rebuilt around what remains of the original building. Just as Notre Dame was built on the ruins of two previous churches. It was a beautiful church and will be again because God won’t let His temple be destroyed. But as it is rebuilt let’s view it as a reminder of how Jesus, The Temple, was rebuilt so that we could commune with a God who loves us so profoundly. So whether its a building, a season, your bible, or just a significant loss. Let’s grieve. Let’s acknowledge what’s been taken. It’s good for us to take a few days or even a few months or years to feel the loss of something that mattered. But let’s grieve with hope because Sunday is indeed coming.

In Reckless Pursuit,

Mindy

Let It Matter

Hello friends! It’s been a minute since I posted. But today is special. Today is my 32nd birthday and there is a little seed in my heart I felt like should be shared on a day like today.

Normally on my birthday, I reflect on what I have or have not accomplished over the course of my adult life and normally evaluate how successful I feel like I’ve been based on goals I’ve consciously or subconsciously set for myself. This year, however, I’ve been thinking more about how I came into the world and less about what I’ve accomplished.

I’m alive today because a woman chose to give me life when she was unsure about how it would impact her own journey. Honestly, my Mama is the one who did all the work on this day 32 years ago and that’s why I’m going to do something that I don’t do often. I’m going to share a bit of our story.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to tell our story. It’s just a really complicated one to tell. There has been a lot of loss, a lot of hurt, and some pretty bad choices. I mean how do you fit all of that into a 1200 word blog post and paint a clear picture free of judgment. Because it’s a complicated story to tell I’ve waited to share our journey until now.

So why start talking about my Mama now? Honestly, because The Holy Spirit said so. I’m not entirely sure why this is the season to start sharing some of the more personal parts of my life but it is. So let’s dive in.

When I was six years old my mom had a stroke. The story of how all that came about is a long one and meant for coffee and cupcakes. For now, we will just talk about where it left me and her. It meant that my mom as a 43-year-old woman was incapable of caring for herself and it left my dad and six-year-old crazy haired, chubby-faced little Mindy as her primary caregivers. I quickly became responsible for a lot of things in my life and hers and was forced to grow up far before any child should.

I spent 25 years of my life being the protector of my mom. Making sure she had what she needed, that she didn’t do anything to harm herself and often trying to protect her from how unkind the world can be. It always felt a bit like her and me against the world. I loved my mom more than any person on the planet and fought hard to care well for her. Please don’t filter our story through a rose-colored lens. I didn’t always play the role of the selfless daughter delightfully serving her disabled mother. Over the years I had to intentionally choose her needs over my wants, fight bitterness in my heart because of the sacrifices that had to be made, and I wrestled with God often because I didn’t understand why this was our story. Over time, and with lots of counseling I’ve been able to find a lot of hope and healing in our story, but freedom did not come cheap. But does it ever?

Late this spring my Mama passed away. At the end of my Mama’s life, most would describe her as sassy, opinionated, and maybe the most stubborn person they’ve ever met. She also cussed worse than a sailor. She was a mess. Honestly, she was out of control and that’s what made her so endearing. And now it should be very clear why I am the way I am. So much of who I am comes from her. Really most of my very favorite parts of my personality, my endearing quirks, and strengths were so clearly traits she gave me simply as a birthright. I didn’t earn them, they weren’t learned traits. They are part of me simply because I am part of her.

My mom became a believer in my late teenage years. I always struggled with the fact that because of her disabilities she wasn’t able to build the Kingdom or share the Gospel. One afternoon I was talking about this with Jesus because we are cool like that. I remember it so clearly. I was driving on a fall day to meet a friend for the first Salted Caramel Mocha of the season. As I’m ranting to Jesus about how I wish my mom could build the Church (because it’s my absolute favorite thing to do.) I felt the Holy Spirit stop me. He said to me, “Mindy, She is building My church by choosing to give you life when it was costly for her. All the things she was given to build my Kingdom have been given to you through her. You’re the way she is building the kingdom.” Uhmmm… What? First came all the tears, because God is a good father and always know what we need to hear when we need to hear it. But that was only my first reaction.

Then entered my pride. I felt this pressure to do everything right, to build her legacy well. I foolishly believed that I could build her legacy and my own all by myself. I started to believe the lie that if I accomplished enough it would add value to her and therefore to me. Luckily that didn’t last long and because Jesus gracefully worked some things out in me pretty quickly. The words that the Holy Spirit spoke to me that day were just little seeds planted. It wasn’t until my mom’s passing that it became more clear what I was supposed to do with that truth.

Often time the pain that comes in grief brings clarity and that’s exactly what it has done for me. JOHNNYSWIM has a song called “Let It Matter”. It’s a song about grief. It’s all about how we should sit in the hurt after we’ve lost someone. The reason is that the person we’ve lost was so worth loving and therefore they are so worth missing. All that the highs, lows, and everyday moments in between all mattered and therefore should be remembered. In this season I’ve had to intentionally choose to let all of our story matter. I’ve had to choose to celebrate all the good, forgive all the hurt, and grieve all the loss.

In this season, God has revealed so much to me. There is one truth that has become so rooted in me though. It’s the truth He started sowing in me that fall day in the car. It’s basic but has been revolutionary for me. It’s this… The only way to carry on the legacy of my Mama in a way that honors God is to be truly who He intended me to be. Legacy will not come through achievement, striving, or notoriety. It comes by loving God’s people, and building His church. And not by doing so the way that others do, but by being true to how He has gifted me, called me, and made me. If I want the life and loss of my Mama to matter I need to own all the God has placed in my hands, and care well for all that He has called me to.

So I’ve written a lot of words to say this one thing. This year I’m not worried about all I haven’t accomplished in the last 32 years. This year I’m asking God to reveal to me how to become more like Him, and more of who He intended me to be. This year I’m determined to seek His calling for my life and to love the people well He has placed in my path. This year is no longer about the past and so full of anticipation for the future and the legacy my Mama and I will leave behind.

So what about you? How do you react to Birthdays? Any wisdom to pass on? Let me know in the comments!

Unforced Rhythms Of Grace

“Are you tired? Worn Out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

-Matthew 11:28-30 (msg)-

 

Picture this.  You are at your favorite coffee shop.  It has big windows, and there is a lot of light shining in.  Music that speaks to you is playing over the speakers, and there across the table sitting with you is Jesus.  You are trying to small talk with Jesus as we often do.  He stops you, places His hand on yours, and asks “Are you tired? How are you feeling?”  How do you respond?

I think I would break down in tears, because it’s Jesus and He does that to me, and I would  simply say through all of the tears, “I am. I am so tired.”  The really great thing about Jesus is we can respond that simply, and He will understand the depths of what we are saying.  We don’t need lots of words, special prayers, or passionate pleas.  All we need are simple words and a genuine desire to be open and seen by Him.

Here is the deal.  In this verse from Matthew 11, Jesus is asking us if we are tired.  He is giving us an open door to be honest about the state of our heart, our body, our mind, and our spirit.  This is not a hypothetical question happening in a scenario I made up about a coffee shop.  This is a genuine invitation from Jesus to get real with Him.

So how do you respond?  Are you tired?  Of course you are.  Everyone is tired in one way or another.  This life is hard, we are constantly being accused by our enemy, and we are always comparing ourselves to an impossible standard.  You are tired.  I’m tired.  Our barista is tired, and that girl with the crying toddler at Target is for sure tired.  We are all tired, and Jesus wants to know about it. So let’s answer the question He has asked us and see what happens next.

What happens when we answer this question?  Well, let’s look a little further in the verse. Jesus says, “Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.”  YOU GUYS!  These two sentences changed the entire way I live my life.  His response to our weary state is not to reprimand us, slap us on the wrist, or to get angry, but to teach us how to live in sweet, gentle, and tender unforced rhythms of grace.  How good is that?

When we come to Him with vulnerability and honesty, He sees us.  As we spend time with Him, He teaches us how to live in the freedom of grace.  He teaches not how to check religious rituals off our list but to walk in the sweet rhythms of relationship with Him.  He speaks against the lies we believe as we compare ourselves to those around us; He teaches us how to sow our time; and He multiplies what little we offer to Him to accomplish so much more than we could dream of.

What Jesus has to offer is an extraordinary, above and beyond gift but this only happens if we first come to Him.  Here are a few things He has taught me as I have intentionally shown up to learn how to live in the promised, unforced rhythms of grace.  I can’t show up with my laundry list of needs, my agenda, or my pride.  I have to show up completely free of pretense, sincere, and willing to walk out whatever He might speak to me.  I have to show up in humility, completely honest about my desperate need for Him to heal me, teach me, and lead me into a place of abundant life.

When I come to Jesus ready to just follow Him wherever He wants to take me, I find that He takes care of my laundry list of needs, my time is somehow magically multiplied, and I live a fuller life instead of merely tolerating the circumstances I’ve been placed in.  I find rest for my dry bones, my weary soul, and my dull mind.  I am renewed in unforced rhythms of grace.

Let’s go back to the coffee shop.  You are sitting and talking to Jesus, and He sweetly and tenderly asks you, “Baby… Be honest with me… Are you tired?”  How do you respond?

Make sure to share in the comments your about your journey to living in unforced rhythms of grace.

In Reckless Pursuit,

Mindy

 

A Jealous Love

It’s Valentine’s day…the day of love and romance. If you walk into Target or Wal-Mart right now you will get hit in the face by stuffed animals, chocolates, and flowers. You will quickly be reminded of your desire to be pursued, loved, and fought for.

Let’s be honest though. We don’t need Valentine’s Day to remind us of those things. We are reminded of our desire for a deep consuming love by romantic comedies, dating websites, romance novels, or even the cute elderly couple holding hands in the grocery store. Mostly though it is a desire we were built with. That is why we are so drawn to this idea of an all consuming love.We spend our lives looking for a man that will love us passionately. The kind of love that will defend us, fight for us, and even die for us. We want to experience a love that makes us better, that builds our confidence, and that consumes us. Even when we’re married we still pursue this kind of relationship with our spouse. We are always striving for this kind of romance.

What if I told you this love was real? That it is waiting for you in a Christian Living book, on a dating website, or in a person? You would work for that kind of love. You would spend for it. I know I would.

Guess what? You Guys. It is real.

It’s all found in Jesus. It’s found in the Immanuel. The God that dwells with us.

I know. I. Know. What a cliché. Almost as cliché as Jesus is my boyfriend. I get it. No normal down to earth girl wants to be the girl who buys into the cliché but I promise you it’s true. Let me show you.
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame. Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.”

-Song of Songs 8:6-7-

 

Now Song of Songs is a love story found in the Bible written about King Solomon and his bride. It even gets so heated in some places that young Jewish boys were not allowed to read it until they were of age because the Rabbi’s were afraid it would awaken some inappropriate feelings. It gets real you guys. Don’t worry. When you read Song of Solomon, it will mostly sound weird because all of the analogies are related to farming and nature. In college, I once had a fake wedding where the groom was reading from Song of Songs just to point out how weird it sounds in places. That is, however, a different story for a different day.

 The pretty awesome thing about this book is that it is also meant to be a reflection of how Christ feels about us. This love that we read about in Song of Songs is so fierce that it would not even be stopped by death. This love that is so passionate that there is nothing outside of relationship with us that can satisfy it. This love that we long for is real and waiting for us. We long for it so that we will be wooed into deep and intimate relationship with Jesus.

 But there is a catch. There is always a catch. Right?

Here is the deal. We only get this love in exchange for everything we have and everything we are. He wants every sin you carry, every disappointment you ache with, every desire you possess, and every thing that holds your attention. He wants all you got. This love is said to be so jealous that not even death will take your heart from the one that loves you. You can only satisfy this kind of jealous love by giving Jesus everything you’ve got including your attention.  

 There is a lot going in our individual worlds. Some of us have husbands, babies, and people who depend on us. Some of us have ministries, businesses, and careers. Some of us have the most adorable and awesome nieces and nephew known to man who we want to give our whole heart to. That’s me. I fall in that camp. Some of us have dreams, desires, and hopes that distract us from the God who walks so intimately with us. There is so much to take our attention away from God. So much to fill our time with. It’s hard to slow down and spend the time looking into the eyes of our lover. It’s hard to sit and wait on Him to whisper words that will woo us back to Him. It’s hard to rest in the embrace of His sweet presence. It is hard.

 But He is a jealous lover. This means when it’s hard for us He will fight for our attention. He will start stripping away the things we love, value, or hold dear to get our attention. He will remove the temporary things of this life that distract us from hearing the words our souls have been longing to hear. He will bring us to a place of emptiness where all we can do is fall into His presence and wait on His healing.

 Then we get mad. We get mad at Him for removing the things that get our attention. See we are so fickle. We want someone to love us so fiercely that they would do whatever it took to win our hearts but when it unfolds in a way we don’t enjoy then we will settle for a lukewarm love that allows us to be comfortable.

 Girls. We can no longer settle for a lukewarm love. We can no longer settle for cheap romance, easy happy endings, and shallow relationships. We cannot keep living like this while our maker is waiting to love us with a passion that cannot be quenched by many waters. We cannot waste the sweet affection of a close and intimate lover.

 Today I’m making a choice to give God my attention. To lay my focus on the altar for Him to consume with His love that burns like a blazing fire. I’m choosing to lay down the things He is asking for so that I can walk in the fullness of the intimacy He longs to experience with me.

 What about you? Will you join me? What are you going to lay down so that more of your attention will be on the only one who can love your soul in the way it was designed to be loved?

When You’re Tired Of Dying

“For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. “ – 2nd Corinthians 4:11

When we decide to follow Jesus, we submit everything to Him so that we can be molded into something that looks more like Him. This molding happens only when we allow the old things to die. Actual pieces of who we are must be handed over to die so that we can be more like Jesus. THIS IS PAINFUL. It is devastating. It is sometimes debilitating but necessary. This kind of death creates a life that can only be experienced when we pay a high price. That is why we must be handed over to death.

Sometimes this death comes through laying down a desire, choosing someone else above ourselves, or through grief, trial, or loss. As you experience this spiritual death of who you used to be, you probably experience actual pain, and you definitely experience extreme heartbreak. Maybe I’m being a bit dramatic but I believe if part of you is literally dying then it is normal for you to experience some pretty extreme pain in one way or another.

Can I keep it real with you? I’m tired of dying. I’m tired of hurting and grieving and losing what I love. I’m just tired. I just want the sadness that invades me so often to stop. I want to stop being handed over to death.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts about walking through a long season of grief and loss. I’m still in that season, and I’m speaking to you from it because I feel like it is important for each of us to see what it looks like to journey with Jesus in the midst of death. Not just the lessons learned from the other side. I’m writing to you from a place where I currently sit. Not a place I’ve once been and have come out of. I’m writing to you from this place today because if you are sitting here in the pain of death I want you to know you are not dying alone.

Even this week the Lord asked me to walk away from a really valuable friendship. Maybe just for a season. Maybe forever. Not because it was terrible or sinful. But sometimes Jesus just wants to take something back for a bit. To heal it, or strengthen it, or to give you something better in exchange. Regardless of His reasoning, I did not want to walk away. I didn’t want to be handed over to this kind of death. I didn’t want to grieve again. And He has the audacity to ask for this friendship in the middle of so much other grief. For real? Are you kidding me? This is not fair. But I did it anyway. I handed it over, and I’m sitting in my grief once again throwing a fit because I’m tired of dying.

So what do you do when you are tired of dying? Well, I’m not entirely sure what it is supposed to look like but I will share with you what I feel like God has placed in my heart. First, I think we have to keep saying “yes” to the death we are being asked to walk through. Whatever it is He is asking you for, whatever way He wants to hand you over to death today, you just say “yes” to it. That is maybe the most difficult step.

Next, as the emotions and pain sink in, I curl up in a fetal position. It’s ok. You’re dying and it’s painful. Sit in the emotion of whatever it is you are feeling. Sanctification comes through fire. But you have to sit in the fire to be sanctified. This means sitting in the fullness of your pain. This pain melts away the things that are of you and not of Christ. If you skip the fire, you will miss the most important part of death. The part that makes you into something valuable. The part that makes you look like Jesus.

So once you’ve recovered a bit from the fire and you’ve washed your face, you ask Jesus to meet you in it. To sit with you. To wrestle with you. You ask Him to make you breakfast just like He did for Peter in John 21. Whatever, however, just engage with Jesus. As we engage with Jesus, it is important to speak what is true. We declare what we know to be true about Jesus. That He is good, faithful, sovereign, just, kind, merciful, and gracious. It’s ok to speak these things without feeling like they are true. The scriptures say they are true so we know they are true regardless of how we feel about them. There is a healing that comes from speaking out what is true over the lies that we believe.

The last step is the most costly step for me. It is to walk out the everyday walk with Jesus faithfully as I am being delivered over to death. To care for others while I’m hurting. To sow into others’ dreams when I feel like mine are dying. To comfort those who morn when I feel like comfort has been withheld from me. To faithfully walk in obedience when my selfishness wants to choose my needs and desires over the things of God.

Guys. It is so hard. This process is so costly, exhausting, and excruciating. So why do we choose to be handed over to death? Because I believe, at least for me, that there is a steadfastness being created in me as I walk in obedience. There is a compassion being created in me as my heart breaks. My rough edges are being softened as I sit in the flame of sanctification. Because, at the end of the day, it really is making me more like Christ.

Like a moth to the flame, I am drawn into this sanctification. I can’t say “no” to Jesus. I can’t walk away from being more like Him. I am literally consumed to a place of dependency on this sanctification. So over and over and over and over again, I choose to be handed over to death and to be made more like Christ.

So maybe you don’t have this weird draw towards sanctification. What do you do? How do you deal? The truth is we all go through seasons where we want to walk away. That is when you keep it real with Jesus. You tell Him how you feel. Ask Him for the desire to keep walking in obedience. You ask Him to bind your wandering heart to Him. Because He is faithful, He will keep you close. He will hold onto your heart until you are ready to be handed over to a death that will bring you life.

So, regardless of where you find yourself on the spectrum, my prayer is that today you will find hope, healing, and a kind of life that can only be found through death. Remember that you are not alone and that there is a body of believers being handed over to death with you.

In Reckless Pursuit,

Mindy

Guest Post:Aching For Approval

Good Morning Friends! My Friend Robyn Hubbard is sharing on the blog today. You can check out more info about Robyn here! Don’t forget to send her some love! Thank you Robyn for boldly sharing your heart!!! 

 

I want to be in shape, but I really don’t want to exercise. I want to be a woman with a spotless house, but I really don’t want to clean it. I want to be a great cook, but I hate making dinner.

Can you relate? So many times we want to be rather than do.

We want to be a perfect mother, rather than simply loving our children. We want be in a happy marriage, rather than intentionally working on it. We want to be friends with everyone, rather than forming lasting friendships. We want to be known as a servant, rather than having a true desire to serve. We want to be a minister, rather than quietly ministering to others right where we are.

Can it be that the desire to be all of these things comes from our desire to please other people, rather than God? We want everyone to think we are all of these things, so we just continue to put on a show day after exhausting day.

Meanwhile, we are silently screaming through our holy Facebook posts, staged Instagram photos, and seemingly squeaky-clean images, “Please see me! Please love me! Please think I’m important!” What we don’t realize is that the whole time we’re searching through the crowd for someone to respond, Jesus gently whispers, “I see you. I love you. You are important.”

I remember when I was a kid and I would come home and tell my mom when someone said something mean about me. She would always tell me the opposite and assure me they were wrong, but I remember thinking, “She’s my mom, of course she thinks that.” Instead of believing the loving words of the person who knew me best, I believed the hurtful words of a fellow 12 year old with their own issues and insecurities.

As an adult, I do the same thing. I believe the enemy’s lies about me, rather than the truth given by a loving Father who knows me best. I seek approval from others to affirm the lies are untrue instead of turning to God for my affirmation.

We were not put on this earth to please others. We were not meant to constantly try to prove our worth. We don’t need to be anything other than a loved child of God who desires to pass that love onto others and make Him known. It doesn’t have to be on a grand scale. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It might look messy or overly simple or terribly flawed to others, but if we were perfect we wouldn’t need God. And we so desperately need to need Him.

Sometimes our fears shift from not being able to please man to not being able to please God. The good news is…grace. God’s grace does not change based on our works or our sin. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever and His grace is sufficient for each and every one of us. We can’t mess up too much to lose His love or do enough to win it. It’s already ours. There is so much freedom in that truth!

On the other hand, does this truth give us the green light to do anything our flesh craves? Of course not.

“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” Romans 6:1

A life lived for Jesus is a life that strives to be more like him. We should avoid sin because it can and will lead to destruction in our lives and relationships. However, we are forgiven. We are understood. We are loved without condition.

I want to make a daily choice to look to God and God alone for my recognition, my approval, and my worth. I want to do rather than to be. And when I mess up, I want to breathe in His grace and know that I am loved by Him and that is enough.

Dream On Dreamer

I’ve always been a dreamer. Ever since I could remember, I have dreamed of impossible things. As a small child, I believed I was Cinderella and that Prince Charming would rescue me from the drama that consumed my life and family. As I got older, I dreamed of a life different from what I had seen. A life where I would see the world, and be successful.  A life where I didn’t live in a trailer and depend on food stamps and welfare to survive. A life where I could marry someone who wouldn’t abuse me and that I might actually enjoy being married to.

And then life happened. I was abused and neglected as a child. I was exposed to way too many things that a child should never see. Life beat the dreamer out of me. My goal became simply to survive and to not feel the depth of what was happening to me or around me.

And then everything changed. I walked into a church in the middle of nowhere Missouri as a tore up from the floor up sixteen-year-old girl and tried to argue with the youth pastor. Instead of engaging in those arguments, he introduced me to Jesus and a whole myriad of other characters in my story. Those characters and the Holy Spirit taught me how to walk in the rhythms of God’s grace. In those rhythms, Jesus helped me to forgive, brought me healing, and revealed to me that He had a plan and a purpose for my life.

I would love to tell you that this is where the story ends. That I found Jesus and my life was awesome from this point on. But that is not how it works with Jesus. Walking with the Father doesn’t mean all the hard things go away. It just means we have someone to walk through difficult circumstances with us. We now have someone to give us what we need in the middle of trials.

So let’s fast forward fourteen years to where I am now. I am struggling to dream again. Life has been hard for a season. By a season I mean three years. There has been a lot of trial, loss, grief, and heartache. I’ve lost friendships, walked away from my first big girl job and a team I loved, had my heart broken by a boy, gave away an opportunity for platform and influence, and lost the man that raised me. Oh yea. My car was flooded too. It has been rough friends. Devastating and dark in many moments.

I’ve struggled with dreaming about the future because I don’t want to be disappointed. I don’t want to endure one more loss. So the easy road to take is to stop dreaming again. Where there are no dreams, there is no disappointment, and where there is no disappointment, there is no heartache.

The scriptures however point us to something different. Check out this verse below and see what I mean.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment.”

Romans 5:3-5

 

The way that trial translates in my mind is this… Life is hard, it’s hard some more, and it keeps getting hard. I start thinking it is never going to get easier, the disappointment takes over, the despair sets in, and I give up hope because my life absolutely does not look the way I thought it would. And that is where the dreaming stops.

This is how the scriptures translate trial… Life is hard, the trial is making you stronger, and it’s making you look more like Jesus. It’s teaching you about abundant life and the sweetness of salvation, and all of this creates hope.  Why? Because you are only being prepared for the better things to come. If there was nothing coming your way, you wouldn’t need to be strengthened for it, sanctified for it, or given perspective to receive it. So really our trial is a promise of things to come. Whatever it is that God blesses us with will not disappoint because He is good.

I want to be careful with talking about the good things to come because I don’t want to sell you something that isn’t real. The truth is we have very little understanding about what is actually good. Only The Father knows what is good. When I talk about the things to come, it could mean a number of things. It could mean getting your dream job, finally finding that significant other, the fulfillment of a promise given long ago, or simply just growing closer to Jesus. But whatever it is, whatever God is bringing your way, it will not disappoint. That is where the hope is. His good gifts do not disappoint.

So maybe you are like me. Maybe you are still in a very long and hard season full of lots of disappointment. Maybe you’ve stopped dreaming too. While we are still sitting in the let down of much loss and many setbacks, we must cling to the truth that we must not be done with this season because hope can not disappoint, and God cannot withhold a promise from His children. He will not and cannot leave us here.

Lets take deep comfort from the words of Romans 5. Whatever God is bringing to us does not disappoint. Let’s take back our hope, walk in the truth of who God is and what He does, and let’s dream on dreamers.

In Reckless Pursuit,

Mindy

Thirty, Flirty, & Thriving

Today I am thirty. That’s right. The big 3.0.

It is only by the grace of God that I’ve made it to this day as a fully functioning adult.
Thank you Jesus.

In honor of my 30th birthday I’m sharing thirty hard fast truths I’ve come to live by in thirty years of life.
In no particular order…

30. Good hair days should always be documented.

29. Honor up. Honor down. Honor all around.

28. If you dream big you will often encounter disappointment. If you dream small you will often encounter mediocrity. Dream big.

27. Just do you boo boo.

26. Don’t choose a job based off location, job description, or salary. Choose a job based of the kind of leader you want to be. Then follow that kind of leader.

25. As you lead from the front don’t forget about the people in the back waiting to be believed in.

24. The safest place to be is a place where you are truly known. It’s also the most risky place to be. Being known is worth the risk. Choose to be known.

23. Wisdom is given to those who ask without reproach. Ask for wisdom on the good days. You are going to need it.

22. Always drink the coffee. Unless it’s bad. Then pour it out and make a new pot.

21. When you can’t decide which path to choose, always choose the path with the best story.

20. There is no better feeling than going to bed completely spent after a day of giving yourself away to others. Give yourself away at every opportunity.

19. The Gospel is the greatest story of all time and can be found in any great story we witness, watch, or read today. Especially Harry Potter. Go on and hate if you want but it’s true.

18. It’s ok to not be ok.

17. Guilt and condemnation do not come from God. They come from your enemy and they have to flee in the presence of Jesus. Freedom comes in the presence of Jesus. Live there.

16. The long way around always has better scenery. Take the long way.

15. It really is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.

14. Take the random road trips.

13. Your friends will dramatically impact the course of your life. Choose wisely. They will determine if you live an ordinary life or an extraordinary one.

12. When you give your heart away you will get hurt. Give it away anyway.

11. There is no better feeling than doing something that you know you were made to do. Fan into flame the things God has placed in your heart.

10. When in doubt, just shut your mouth.

9. Buy the book.

8. Age brings wisdom but also brings a weight of responsibility. Bear the weight in the unforced rhythms of grace.

7. Be the person that errors on the side of grace instead of the person with a hard and skeptical heart.

6. Don’t take yourself so seriously. You will miss out on so much joy if you do.

5. Hope does not disappoint.

4. Credibility is our most valuable currency as leaders. Be a person with credibility.

3. Relationships are the only thing we take with us to the next life. Always choose relationship over safety, task, and agenda.

2. There is no better way to spend your life than building the church.

1. God is everything He said He would be. Faithful, just, loving, constant, gracious, patient, and kind. Bank on Him.

What about you? Have any hard fast truths you live by? Share them in the comments!
In Reckless Pursuit,

Mindy

Backwards And In High Heels

Hello friends! It has been a long time.

Have you ever gone through a season where you feel like you’ve lost your voice? I’ve been in one of those seasons for sure. I went into hiding, hoping no one would notice. I was very wrong. You noticed and so many of you, with grace and kindness, have encouraged me to come back and jump into conversation with all of you. I love to talk and I have many, many, many words; why not use those words to build community with you. Here we are. Or I should say here I am. Trying to find my voice again. Hoping to find it in conversations with you, because you make me better.

My first post back in the blogging world is really for all of the phenomenal girls in my world. My hope is that as we sift through the words on this page we will find the freedom I know Jesus has for us today! And for any of you guys out there reading this post, I hope it gives you a little insight into the crazy self-induced pressure us girls live under so often. So you are welcome to speak against it or at least offer a little grace to us in the middle of a meltdown.

I want to start out by sharing a pretty famous quote with you. It’s a quote about Ginger Rogers who was a famous actress and dancer. She regularly performed along side Fred Astaire but often reminded people she didn’t sign up to be Fred’s partner. She signed up to be a performer who was an individual. Many people looked at Fred and Ginger as a duo. People often speak of how amazing they were as a pair, or about how smooth Fred was as a performer (because lets face it. Fred was smooth.). Then one day an anonymous person on a plane was talking to Linda Ellerbee about Fred and Ginger and had this to say…

(About Fred Astaire)Sure he was great, but don’t forget that Ginger Rogers did everything he did, …backwards and in high heels.

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I think people often overlooked this one fact about Ginger. Not only was she able to do all that Fred could do, but she could do it backwards and in high heels. She was able to do what any man in her field could do, for as long as he could do it and in really beautiful, but uncomfortable attire.

You see ladies, this is the world we live in. It is a world full of expectation. Expectations to look flawless, but not to appear to be wearing to much make-up. Expectations to live healthy, be fit, to be well dressed, to keep a home, and to navigate a kitchen well. Then add in expectations to get married, to keep your husband happy, and then to have children and be a super mom. And let’s be honest. Everyone has a different opinion on what it looks like to be an awesome wife and a super mom. So no matter what you do you are never going to please everyone. Now add into that a career. A career where you are expected to do everything a man does “backwards and in high heels”, while maintaining all the other parts of your world with excellence. And don’t forget about being a super-awesome-godly-proverbs-31-woman. You better get that one right for sure or the other women in your church are going to talk about how you don’t measure up in the form of prayer request. In attempt to not be the subject of the “prayer request” or to be the one offering up the gossip you try to live a perfect life as quietly as possible.

Somewhere along the way we started believing that perfection will protect us, promote us, and propel us into our destiny. The reality is that the striving for perfection has enslaved us and the only thing it has propelled us into is mediocrity. So what now? Who do we blame? How do we deal? I’m not sure so lets keep chatting.

Some of these expectations are inflicted by men, some by other women, some by our enemy, some from ourselves. And some are good, healthy, expectations that we should pursue in our daily journeys to be more like Christ. One truth I’ve discovered in the middle of feeling the anxiety and pressure of all these expectations; I have self-imposed this pressure.

I know. I know. I’ve literally made a list of all the other places these unhealthy expectations can come from and now I’m saying it’s my entire fault. Let me explain. There are many voices speaking expectation to me, but no one else forces me to pick up and carry those expectations and in fact Jesus has offered me the opposite of expectation. He has offered me grace, freedom, and promises that He will be enough.

There is a verse in the scriptures that I believe if we let it, it will bring us great freedom.

So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.

– Matthew 6:34-

I think we often view this passage through the eyes of expectation. We assume that when Jesus is speaking these words He is mad at us for worrying about tomorrow. We place an expectation on ourselves to not only get today right but tomorrow as well. But that is not what I hear Jesus saying at all. What I hear Him saying is…

“Baby girl. I have lived through all you have lived through. I have lived through the temptation, the hurt, the heartbreak, the disappointment, the need, the sleepless nights, the brokenness of the world, betrayal, and all the weight of the expectation. The one thing I can tell you sweet girl is that I know today is hard. I know tomorrow will also be hard. I also know that my grace will fill your weakness, and that because tomorrow is hard I don’t want you to try to bear the burden of tomorrow in the middle of the weight of today. Walk in the weight of my burden because no one should live in the weight of the world and all the weight it will try to place on you in all the days to come. I love you too much to sit back and just let you be crushed by all the expectation of this world. Just don’t worry about tomorrow.”

Jesus never meant for us to live up to all the expectation on our own. He never meant for us to bear a burden that would steal our life. He died so we could be free from all that mess, so that we could have a life overflowing with hope, joy, and freedom. Because the truth is: I can only get like three things on the expectation list right at a time. Jesus knows that. He knew that from the beginning of creation and that is why He always intended to be the answer to the weight of expectation.

So what do we do now? I’m not entirely sure. The simple answer is that we stop striving to fill expectation and start pursuing Jesus with everything we have. I acknowledge this is so much easier to say then it is done. There is no 12 step plan to letting go of the expectation. There is no easy path to following Jesus. So as much as I would like to wrap up this post and this path with a pretty pink bow and some glitter I can’t. I don’t have a practical and easy answer. So I’m just going to try to give everything I have to knowing Jesus more and I’m going to trust His grace to meet me in my weakness.

So dear sisters of mine. I’m asking you to join me on a journey. A journey to freedom. To a life full of hope, joy, and the reckless pursuit of Jesus.

So how about it? You with me?

In Reckless Pursuit,

Mindy

In The Garden: Be Present

YOU GUYS! Easter is Sunday, and I just can’t get enough of the story of Jesus and His journey to the cross. Because of this, I decided to revisit and repost a series I wrote about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Thanks for taking a little throwback trip with me this week!

In my last two posts, I have been  talking about Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. I have been mesmerized and challenged by all of the new truth I have been finding in this one story.  This is my last little nugget for now, but it is really convicting. At least for me.

In the last couple of posts, I talked about Jesus asking us to sit in His deep hurt with Him and about inviting others into our deep hurt. There is one component to the greatest commandment (Mark 12:29-31) given to us that  we are missing though, and that is sitting with others in their deep hurt.

Galatians 6:2 says “Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” We are called to love others well, and love ourselves well (Matt. 22:36-37 The law of Christ). We are called to be there with them in the middle of trials, struggles, temptations, and just crappy days.

The thing is there are so many people, and so much hurt, and so much distraction that I think we miss out on why we are walking through tough stuff with people in our community.

“So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Matthew 26:40-41

One thing that sticks out to me in this passage (Matthew 26:36-46) is the fact that twice Jesus says “keep watch”. The word “watch” means to be alert or to be awake.  I think that Jesus is saying BE PRESENT.  He didn’t need  anyone to keep watch for other people. He is prophetic, knows when things are going down, and has angel armies protecting Him. Besides, later on we see Peter’s best defense is to cut off someone’s ear. Good job, Peter. You are the guy I want on my side during the zombie apocalypse, or when genetically altered animals fight back and attack humanity. Let’s be honest. Jesus knew Peter wasn’t going to be much help in the protection department. Here is what I think Jesus was trying to point out to his friends He invited into the garden with Him. The act of being present is the thing that keeps us from being led into temptation. It is a way to love others, as we love ourselves.

Often as I am walking through a tough situation with a friend, I am aware enough to watch her actions; however, I am not aware enough to learn from her mistakes or good choices. I just judge her for them. I think “she did what?” or “Why would she say that?”. My all time personal favorite is “WHY, oh WHY is she dating HIM?”. Then there are times where I see a friend’s wise and good decisions, and I am offended by them because I know I wouldn’t have been as wise.  I am quick to judge and much, much slower to learn. The spirit is willing and the flesh is weak and all of that. I have often thought that it is my job to save that person. To rescue them from whatever despair they are in. So I try to save them and end up missing out on the lessons I should be learning.

I think Jesus wants us to help each other through the hard stuff, be present, and fully awake. Not just half invested because there might be more fun people to hang out with, or because our jobs are consuming, or even worse because our ministry is consuming. The way to avoid temptation is to be fully present in relationships and learn from the people you are trying to care for. By loving unconditionally, we are able to see people through the filter that Jesus does and learn from them, and then hopefully when we walk through a similar situation, we are able to do so on steady ground.

I don’t want to be the girl who lives in such a distracted way that I never grow into a person of depth. I want to love unconditionally. I want to serve selflessly. I want to give my life away and learn every single thing I can about Jesus and the life He intended for me to live. So hold me accountable because again, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

What about you? What does it look like for you when you walk through trial with a friend. Is it a hassle for you or a privilege? Is it a learning experience or a fix the other person experience? How can we help each other find a better way of being present?

In Reckless Pursuit,

Mindy