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!

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

This Is Why I’m Still Single.com: The Stakes Are High

Finally, we have arrived at the pinnacle of everyone’s favorite question to ask: “Why are you still single?”  This is the very last and most important reason…at least in my opinion.

It’s no secret.  I have every intention of changing the world.  I know without a doubt that I will fiercely bring heaven to earth, and do it loudly and (hopefully) as gently as Jesus did.  For the last ten years of my life, this has been the goal, the path that I have followed.  So what does this have to do with dating?

It turns out that it’s pretty difficult to find a guy who is not intimidated by me and who wants to bring change to this broken world as badly as I do.  If this sounds arrogant, I don’t mean for it to.  It’s just what has seemed to be true.  The life that I have chosen costs a lot.  It costs you everything, all for the sake of bringing glory to God and knowing Jesus more.  Most “really nice Christian boys” don’t want to pay the price, and therefore are heading in a different direction than me.

I’ve thought about dating really dreamy boys who aren’t quite “there” yet.  I’ve been told they will grow into it; just give them a chance.  BUT WHAT IF THEY DON’T?  There is too much at risk in the kingdom for me to slow down and wait for that really nice (and dreamy) Christian guy to grow into his calling.  Maybe he will.  I pray he does.  But the stakes are too high for me to take a chance on that guy.  I know that whoever I marry must be choosing Jesus above everything else.  The world is broken and in need of great healing.  We can settle for nothing less then bringing everything we have to the table. This includes my marital status.  If my call is to help my husband, fulfill his vision and calling, he better have a vision to radically change the world, or I won’t be able to get behind his vision.

Honestly, because of the road I’ve chosen, I never thought I would get married.  Then, one day, God pointed this verse out to me.

Then one of the young men said, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the Lord is with him.” – 1st Samuel 16:18

The Lord spoke to me about this being the kind of man that I would marry.  Out of nowhere.  This is a thought that would have never crossed my mind, and that’s why I know it was the Lord.  I don’t know if “the guy” will be musical, and I can only hope that he is a handsome man, but I do know that David was the kind of guy that faced a giant as a teenager.  He believed so much in the true character of God that he was willing to go anywhere and face anything.

I really appreciate that David faced giants, because any guy who chooses to pursue me is facing a giant.  I really am kind of intimidating.  So much so that it is a joke between close friends.  They know they don’t have to worry about me ending up with someone boring, because the boring ones have  been scared away within minutes of meeting me.  (Again, I don’t want this to sound arrogant.  I just mean that I’m loud, opinionated, pretty fearless, and I have a kind of an intimidating Job.  I mean come on…my anthem is “Roar” by Katy Perry.  It was even before the song existed.)  More importantly than facing me, though, my future husband must be willing to face the unknown.  Someone with David-like qualities, who is willing to trust God in any situation and follow His call anywhere because God made us to restore His kingdom. T hat’s a train I could get on.  It’s the kind of grand vision I could get behind.

So…ThisIsWhyI’mStillSingle.com.  I have kingdom things to do.  Until I find someone I can do them with, I will spend all my extra time doing adventurous, scary, unknown, kingdom things with my beautiful friends and community.

Did I miss anything in this series of posts?  Have more questions about my singleness?  Comments?  Concerns?  Chime in! That’s what community is all about!

This Is Why I’m Still Single.com: Are You Afraid of the Dark?

A few weeks ago, I started a blog series on the topic of my singleness.  It really is a popular discussion topic.  Some want to know if I’m still single by choice.  Some want to know if I’m still single because I have some weird religious views, or possibly a personality disorder.  I mean, who really chooses to stay single?  I must be broken.  And even some want to know when my last date was. ( 3 years ago. Really 3 Years.)

Today, I am sharing a really dysfunctional reason why I have chosen singleness: I’m still waiting on Gavin Degraw to notice my existence and propose to me.

Just kidding.  Sort of.

The truth is, I’m terrified of lots of things when it comes to marriage.  I know what you’re thinking.  You think I’m terrified of sex.  Nope.  You’re wrong.  I’m actually pretty excited about that aspect of marriage.  Yes…I am a Christian, I am single, and I did say I am looking forward to sex.  If you are a supporter reading this, please don’t stop paying my bills.  Please and thank you.

I am terrified of being vulnerable with people in general, let alone a spouse.  I am afraid I will lose my independence and have to be the helper to a man who plays life safe.  I’m scared of losing my own awesome calling.  Mostly, I’m afraid of being abandoned.  I am afraid of marriage because it is unknown.  It seems like wandering into the dark without a flashlight.  That is a terrible idea.

I can’t even believe I just admitted all of those things out loud, but they are all true.  You see, when I was a kid, I had a really passive, mostly non-present father; a disabled mother; and a very Jerry-Springer-like family.  From an early age, I learned to disconnect from most emotion, take care of myself, expect everyone to leave, and expect for no one to want me.  This, along with ambition and Jesus giving me the ability to dream big dreams, has created this perfect storm where most days I prefer singleness.  Do I get lonely?  Sometimes.  I mostly chalk it up to the fact that I’m not made for this world and only the face of Jesus will ever satisfy me.  I don’t chalk it up to singleness, because even when I am married, I will get lonely.  So overall, life as a single person seems much safer and easier than life as a married person.

If I remain single, no one can hurt me, no one can leave me, and no one can get in the way of the big things in store for my life.  EXCEPT FOR ME.  #OhDang.  Yup.  There it is.  If I continue to avoid vulnerability and deep relationship with people, I will continue to get in my own way.  I will still get hurt and people will still leave, because we are not made for superficial relationships.  Either way, I will get hurt, so I should find abundant life in the midst of that hurt.  Singleness is not the answer, but neither is marriage.  As cliche as it may sound ,Jesus IS the answer–and the healing that He brings.

Now, I know there are benefits to marriage, as there are to singleness.  Please do not use the words in this blog as an excuse to fix me and correct my dysfunction.  I am so aware of my own dysfunction.  I believe if God has called me to marriage ( and I do), then it must be good and beneficial, and it must bring abundant life.  So why did I share it if I didn’t want the super Christians of the world to fix me?  Because the scriptures say, “Confess your sins, pray for one another, and YOU WILL FIND HEALING.”   I want to find healing, so please pray for me.  I also believe that others out there struggle with the same things I do, and maybe, just maybe, my confession of brokenness, will help someone else to find healing in their own struggle.

So now let’s put the spotlight on you.

Singles: Are you just as afraid of the dark as I am?  Are you praying that Prince Charming will come, or hiding from him like Mercy Jean hides from me at nap time?

Marrieds: How did you feel about marriage before you were in one?  What has been the biggest blessing in your marriage?  How long have you been married, and how have you kept your marriage together?

When I do something silly, or ridiculous, I tweet about it and use the hashtag #ThisIsWhyImStillSingleDotCom. I would love to see your moments as well so hashtag away!

And Go…

This Is Why I’m Still Single.com: She Will Be Loved

In my last post, I started answering the question, “Why are you still single?”  This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get, so I thought we should discuss it.

Often times, I think because I’m single people assume I must be lonely. That I’m just waiting for my Prince Charming to come, or that I’m actually out looking for him.  That it must be hard for me to enjoy life alone.  I mean, life alone is pretty terrible.  I think the misconception here is that I’m alone.

A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about my college friends.  I mentioned that they had ruined my dating life.  Here is how they did it.  They taught me how to live in community, and spoke value over me, and I was able to watch the  guys pursue a girl.  When I left for college, I had little self-esteem or value.  I had no idea what my gifts were, and what my calling in life might be.  Community changed these things.  It’s hard to be lonely when people are calling out life in you.

The men from that group of friends have loved me, honored me, and fought for me the way that godly men fight for their sisters.  They weren’t and still aren’t, even as married men, afraid to speak to my beauty.  If they think I look good, they tell me.  Obviously in a way that is respectful, and honoring to their wives. For instance, “hey you, you clean up well.” translates in brother language to “you look nice today”.  When I wasn’t sure of my talents, they called them out.  They fought for me to have a platform when I wasn’t allowed one.  They prayed over me more times than I could count.  They really showed me how I should be honored by a guy.

Part of the reason they could treat me this way is because they made it clear when they were pursuing a girl.  I was never worried that there were hidden feelings behind their actions.  There was room for honesty.  I was able to see them honor me, and also pursue other girls, and I could see what the differences should be.

Since college, more friends have come into my life to be my community, and more men have come to honor me.  God has used them to take great care of me, which speaks volumes to what God believes about my value.  So what does this all add up to?  Now I have terribly high standards.  I don’t date to find value, or date for attention, because I live in community.  Now, I only date because I’m interested in the person I’m dating.  I also expect to be honored.  Only men who know the Lord know how to honor others.  I also now know my value and know that I’m worthy of pursuit, and I have a pretty good idea of what that pursuit should look like.  I have been loved well.  If a man is going to date me, he better have his A-game on, to say the least.

My standards are high.  Not impossible.  Just the kind of guy I’m looking for is few and far between.  This is one reason WhyI’mStillSingle.com.

So now it’s your turn.  What are your standards?  Why are your standards the way they are?  Have any advice for me?

This is Why I Am Still Single.com

A few weeks ago, I posted the 4 most common questions that I get while I am out speaking about NightLight. (You can read that post here.) I invited people to ask any questions they might have about me and NightLight. Well, you guys are awesome and asked a ton of questions. And one of the most commonly asked questions was, “Why are you still single?”

I think the question really is, “Is it by choice? If so, why?” There are lots of answers to that question. Some deep. Some funny. Some embarrassing. So I’ve decided to address this question in a series of posts. To people in the mid-west, it’s a weird decision that I’ve made. So I want to address some of the misconceptions that come along with this choice.

When I was on the world race, my friend Kristin Bruce used to make jokes when we would do something ridiculous and say “ThisIsWhyIAmStillSingle.com.” I tend to still use this phrase when I do something silly. For instance, I cry while watching baseball occasionally, or while watching a superhero movie where the good guy dies (even if I know he will come back later). ThisIsWhyIAmStillSingle.com. I’m clumsy. I fall down the stairs a lot. I still listen to *NSYNC. I break lots of things. I spill my coffee every day. My roommates, Robert and Tami Griffith scare off boys before we even get to know each other. ThisIsWhyIAmStillSingle.com. Now, all these reasons are funny and silly, but the reality is I’m single, and there are three real reasons.

1: I have high standards.

2: I am terrified of lots of things that come with marriage.

3: I’ve got kingdom things to do.

Want to know more about those 3 reasons? Stay tuned. It’s about to get real up in here.

What about you? Why are you single? Why are you not single? Why have you made the choices that you’ve made when it comes to your marital status? I would love to know!