life beyond the well…


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In the No- God is Sovereign

Preacherman and I have a lot of plates spinning right now.  Things that we’re believing God for in the short term and long term.  We always take time at the beginning of our consecration to write down what it is that we’re believing God for, and midway through, we sit down to discuss and pray over where we’ve seen progress.

There are some areas where we really feel like things are working in our favor.  We’re feeling confident and excited about the growth and progress and how we believe that God is moving.  Then there are other areas where we haven’t seen progress; areas where the answer has been a “No”.  That’s tough, because when you’re in a season of expectancy, you’re expecting that the answer will be “Yes”.

But, we’ve been reminded of this:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” – Romans 8:28

It’s really hard to be mad or disappointed when we remember that.  Just that- in the “No”, God is still sovereign.  He’s still in control, working on our behalf behind the scenes.  And while we sometimes have to fight the feelings of disappointment, we can also look back at so many situations in our life where God’s “No” has been exactly what we needed.

If you’re struggling with the “No”, I want to encourage you.  God knows about your situation, and He cares.  Trust Him.  He is still in control.  Be encouraged, friends.  I’m praying for you.

Until next time.

Peace and Blessings


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Respond with Grace…

I really struggle with rudeness and lack of manners.  Working with students, I realize that these often provide the opportunity for teachable moments.  But when I encounter these traits in adults, it is a harder pill to swallow.  Mainly because there’s an assumption that as an adult, one would know how to treat other adults.  But I’ve come to realize that isn’t always the case.  And sometimes people DO know better, but something has happened that has broken their filter, and their ability to appropriately manage their behavior and their response is in flux.

My solution: respond with grace.

This is NOT easy.  When I’m mistreated or wronged, my natural tendency is to want to respond in the same manner- even when I know better.  Even when I know that responding in the same way serves only to escalate a situation that doesn’t need to be escalated.  Even when I know that what is really needed in the situation is grace, mercy, and love.

But what does that look like?

That looks like: utilizing manners. Being overly respectful. Not raising my voice. Choosing to listen. Choosing my words carefully. Making sure the other person is (and feels) heard and respected.

I’ve learned that in MANY situations- their frustration isn’t about me.  It’s about a million other things that have brought them to this moment.  And since it’s not about me, I can choose to not take it personal and to respond in a way that is totally about them- by extending kindness.

I am a product of grace and mercy.  Every day, God pours these two over me, in conjunction with his love and as a result, I have been blessed.  In tough and challenging moments, I am given the opportunity to share this grace, mercy, and love to someone else.

Who could use some of your kindness, grace, mercy, and love today?

Be encouraged.  Peace and blessings.


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Book Review: What’s Best Next

I don’t know that there are enough words to explain how excited I was to read Matt Perman’s book “What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done“.  I can definitely be a busybody, involved with a lot of activities both at work and at home; and I know that it’s important that I begin to prioritize things in an appropriate way.  The truth is that there will always be things that “need” to get done and that NEED to get done.  I’m all too guilty of letting the urgent crowd out the important.  I’ve been determined to be better, and this book was a huge help for me!

There were so many things that I appreciated about this book; however, his thoughts on email and how to handle it helped me the most.  I get SO. MANY. EMAILS. between my work and personal accounts it’s overwhelming to me- as I prefer that my inbox number be as low as possible.  His approach to email helped me to pare it down and manage it much more efficiently.

This book really resonated with my thought that “good things aren’t always God things”.  As a result, I need to rely more on the gospel as a measure of what I’m pursuing and how things (and what things) are getting done.

This would be an EXCELLENT book to check out for the new year.  Start the year off strong, doing things in a gospel centered way.  You won’t be disappointed!

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine.


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Stuff Kids Say…

Our little one is growing by leaps and bounds, and it’s something that gives Preacherman and I great joy.  She has taken kindergarten by storm, and we’re excited to see how she’ll continue to mature and develop.

Kids are funny.  As with the Lord, their thoughts and ways are not like ours.  It’s funny to see and hear this come forth in conversation.  Here’s a snippet of last night’s conversation (we were talking about the different classes she has at school):

Preacherman: “So, in technology class, do you use computers or ipads?”

Our little one: “We use computers. THAT’S why it’s called TECHNOLOGY.”

Well, I guess that settles it!  Preacherman and I had a good little laugh about that.

Parenting is a joy and a blessing.  What are some funny things your kids are saying?

Be encouraged!  Peace and blessings!


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2015 Book List

I love to read.  Since I was a kid, reading has been one of my favorite ways to pass time.  Preacherman and I have a ridiculous number of books in our home, and we can’t seem to stop adding to the collection.  Unfortunately, other than reading the Bible, blogs, and news articles, I haven’t had time for much book reading.  It’s something that makes me sad, and that I’ve committed to fixing for 2015.

I took some time during the latter part of 2014 to create my 2015 book list.  I’m pledging to read all of the books listed below, and if I’m lucky, I’ll be able to squeeze in a few more.  Here’s what we’re looking at (in no particular order):

  1. Instinct by T.D. Jakes
  2. Make it Happen by Lara Casey
  3. Purpose Awakening by Touré Roberts
  4. Start with Why by Simon Sinek
  5. Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo
  6. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  7. The Marshmallow Test by Walter Mischel
  8. Hand to Mouth by Linda Tirado
  9. The Best Yes by Lysa TerKerst
  10. Rhythms of Grace by Kerri Weems 

I’ll also be reading The Bible again, and I plan to re-read Rick Warren’s The Purpose Driven Life.  While I’m excited about reading all of the books listed above, I’m probably most excited to dig into The Best Yes by Lysa TerKerst.  I’ll be reading it with one of my college best friends, and I’m looking forward to the growth that comes through sharing and accountability.

So, there you have it- my plan to get back in the act of reading for enjoyment.  I’ll keep you updated on how it’s going!

What are you reading this year?

Be encouraged!  Peace and blessings!


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Recapping 2014

I can hardly believe how fast 2014 has passed.  I have such vivid memories of last New Year’s Eve, that I find it hard to understand that we’re at another one.  As I get older, I find this saying to be more and more true: “The days are long, but the years are short.”

This year has been nothing short of amazing.  Preacherman and I continue to fall more in love with Jacksonville, the people, and our hearts are broken for the city.  We are so excited to be here and to be used by God to reach others for the Kingdom.  Though there are times where we find ourselves missing North Carolina, our family, our friends, and all the great restaurants we love; we are enjoying the challenges of getting acclimated to a new city, making new friends, and finding new restaurants to love.  I’m finally starting to find my way around to the point of not requiring Google Maps directions everywhere I go.  A new grocery store has opened up closer to home that allows me to get fresh salmon weekly.  Our little one started kindergarten this year and continues to amaze us.  Small victories, but victories nonetheless.  We are truly blessed.

And now we gear up for 2015.  We are praying and believing for God to move in us and through us like never before.  2015 will be a landmark year in our lives, and I’m looking forward to watching things unfold!

Believing God’s best for you and yours in 2015!

Be encouraged!  Peace and blessings!


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Shop for a Cause: Higher Definition Church

Last week, I was blessed to host a Stella & Dot Jewelry Party as a fundraiser for the church Preacherman and I will be launching in 2015.  Generally, hosting parties is slightly outside of my comfort zone, but I was excited to welcome some new friends into our home and to invite them to help us launch Higher Definition Church.

I’m excited to extend that same invitation to you.  Until January 8, 2015, you can shop the online trunk show, and a portion of the sales will be donated to Higher Definition Church.  While it may be a little late for Christmas shopping, it’s a great opportunity to get an early start for Valentine’s Day!  Also, if you know someone who has a birthday early into the new year (like my mom, who has a birthday on New Year’s Day), you can go ahead and knock out that present as well!  There are a ton of pieces I love- scarfs, necklaces, bracelets, bags– I wish I could make it all mine!

I’m so grateful for Laura, the Stella & Dot stylist (who is also a member of our launch team), for offering to put this together for our church!

Peace and Blessings!


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I. CAN’T. BREATHE.

I can’t breathe.

That’s what Eric Garner said over and over again, as the NYPD officer held him in an outlawed choke hold, pressing his knee into his back, eventually leading to his death.

I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe. I may not be in a physical choke hold, but this- these cases of police misconduct and the killing of unarmed people of color is choking the life out of me, out of my people, out of our communities, out of our children.

I can’t breathe because I am (we are) in this abusive relationship that forces me (us) to be afraid of those who are in place to protect me (us), and I (we) see no way of escape. There are no shelters where I (we) can escape for my (our) protection. I am (we are) searching for refuge, for equal footing, for right standing and it doesn’t appear to be available.

I can’t breathe because I (we) spend all of this energy trying to be the “good” or “safe” black person, even though I (we) know that while I (we) can change my (our) name, neighborhood, job, clothes, education level, friends, behavior…I (we) CANNOT change the very thing that makes other people feel afraid or threatened: my (our) skin color.

I can’t breathe because I am (we are) exhausted by the constant stream of microaggressions I (we) face, of having to deal with “good decisions” that have racist implications, of having to decide if I (we) should speak up because of knowing (expecting) the response to be that I am (we are) “playing the race card” or “being too sensitive”.

But.

If I have to “play the race card” or “be too sensitive” because it forces you to be more careful, more thoughtful, more intentional in your interactions and decisions regarding people like me- so be it.

I will not continue to be uncomfortable so that you can maintain your comfort. No. It’s time for us to be uncomfortable together.

Discomfort produces action. Appropriate action produces change.

What is appropriate action? I challenge our communities, ESPECIALLY our communities of faith to address these issues, then act.  Hear the stories of hurt, of anger, of fear- and then do the work that helps to change hearts. Share the gospel. Love like Jesus. While I hear and understand the cries for justice, I know that the true need is Jesus. True acceptance of Jesus compels our hearts and our minds to change.

My prayer in this situation is best encompassed in the lyrics of “Build Your Kingdom Here” by Rend Collective Experiment: 

“We are Your church.
We pray revive this earth.
Build Your kingdom here.
Let the darkness fear.
Show Your mighty hand.
Heal our streets and land.
Set Your church on fire.
Win this nation back.
Change the atmosphere.
Build Your kingdom here.
We pray.
Unleash Your kingdom’s power
reaching the near and far.
No force of Hell can stop
Your beauty changing hearts.
You made us for much more than this!
Awake the kingdom seed in us!
Fill us with the strength and love of Christ.
We are Your church.
We are the hope on earth.”

Amen.


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Coming Home.

“But sometime when the springtime comes and the sifting moonlight falls, they’ll think again of this night here and of these old brown walls, of white Old Well and of Old South. With Bell’s deep booming tone, they’ll think again of Chapel Hill, and — thinking — come back home.” – Thomas Wolfe

Everyone should have a place where to which they can return and feel at home.  Things may have changed.  Buildings are different.  Some people aren’t there. But, none of that matters when you return to that place. What matters is what that place you gave you.  How it forced you to grow.  How it introduced you to new people and new circumstances.  How you overcame far more than you thought you ever would. How it helped you become who God destined you to be.

For me, that place is UNC. One day I’ll be able to find all the words to express how transformative my experience was. My desire to attend UNC was reluctant–both of my parents worked in Chapel Hill, so I had already experienced a lot of what (I thought) made the town special.  I’ve enjoyed hot dogs and Shirley Temples from Sutton’s Drugstore since before I was tall enough to see over the counter. I remember shopping for books at the Intimate Bookshop.  The Miami Subs on Franklin Street- I enjoyed those fries and sandwiches long before I understood their appeal to late night college students. Before I had sense enough to like Cosmic Cantina, I got my tacos from the Taco Bell on Franklin Street.  I remember picking up church programs from the Copytron at the corner of Franklin and Columbia with my mom, eating hotdogs from Squeaky’s on breaks with my dad, and enjoying Time Out biscuits any chance I could.  Summers were spent at camp at Hargraves Recreation Center, Saturdays in the fall were spent attending Communiversity.

And so, I thought I had a real understanding of what made Chapel Hill special. And while I was partly right, I was also completely wrong.  My love for Chapel Hill grew immensely as a result of attending UNC. I grew immensely as a result of attending UNC. I learned how to lead and how to love. I became more culturally aware. I learned how to work smart and work hard. I had professors who challenged me and pushed my thinking. I fell in love with Jesus. I met my husband. I gained some of my best friends.

When we returned to UNC for Homecoming last month, being on campus was like getting the biggest warm hug from a friend that you haven’t seen in far too long.  Yes, things had changed.  Yes, I have changed.  But like the best of friends, when you’re together, it’s like you’ve never been apart.

Until next time.

Peace and Blessings!


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Giving Tuesday: Higher Definition Church

As we round out this “weekend” of shopping and spending (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday), we arrive on “Giving Tuesday” which is a global celebration of giving back.

On this “Giving Tuesday”, I ask that you consider donating to Higher Definition Church, the church plant that Preacherman and I, with our team, will launch in March 2015.  Your generous donation will help us to impact lives for the Kingdom of God across the city of Jacksonville, as we teach that there is no greater definition that one can have than being a child of God.

You may donate online here.  We are so excited about how God is working and the lives that will be changed as a result of His work in us and through us.

Peace and Blessings!

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