Not Unredeemed

… living the beautiful tension between what is, and what will be …


Dear Me – A Letter to My Seventeen Year Old Self.

Dear Me,

The pain that is cloaking your world right now will be redeemed. I promise. It won’t always be like this. Press on! You will be so thankful for the foundation the Lord is laying and refining in you right now. The pain will make you, not break you. The circumstances that are squeezing the life out of you are not going to go away over night, in some areas it will take years, but He is faithful. The scars will remain but they will become a testimony, not something to hide. So keep on self! Don’t give up, there is light at the end of the tunnel!

And stop worrying! You graduate this year and you do not need to have life figure out yet. Relax. Learn to rest now, and the beauty in the stillness because these are the habit forming years and it becomes much, much harder to let go! And control? It’s only an illusion. If there were one thing I could ask you to do differently, it would be to stop striving to be in control of every area of your life. There is this beautiful thing called grace. It’s not a lazy person’s way out – it’s freedom!  It’s the greased lube that allows the tools in your life to work smoothly. You don’t need to grind them into performing by sheer will power.

You don’t actually want to know what is coming in the next few years because you aren’t ready for that yet. There will be deserts, but also streams, mountain tops and valleys.You won’t be able to save the world, but you will come to know the Savior of the world for yourself and more goodness than you can imagine. Your friends will come and go, but invest in them anyway! Friends are there for reasons, seasons and life times. And only time tells that. Pain is a part of life. Open yourself up because until you know pain, you don’t fully know joy. <— Tweet this.

God took your payer to “not be normal” way more seriously than you probably wanted Him too, but then again “normal” is only a setting on the drier. You will never be the life of the party and that’s ok. You weren’t meant to be. Embrace your love of learning, don’t be ashamed of it, it won’t be something you can get away from.

You are also not invincible. Sorry to break that to you. When people advise you to slow down please listen! Yes the Lord will give you strength, but you will reap the physical consequences of drained adrenals in a few years. Listen when the Lord whispers, or He will use much louder, harder, ways to get your attention.

On a good note? You will out grow this awkward stage! Not only will you learn to dress well, but you will also be paid to dress and costume people! The years of being the awkward thumb in a denim jumper hiding in the corner are not wasted! You learned the value of seeing the heart of a person, not the outside. God will use that to allow you to communicate with, minister too and comfortably run in any social circle or setting.  You will however always be in the middle between people and groups. It’s ok, it’s not the middle, it’s really a bridge.

Guys. Haha! You have so much to learn. Stop worrying about dating or being in a relationship. You won’t be in one for another five years. See these guys as friends to learn and laugh with not “potentials”.

Those older single girls you look at in church and pray to God you will never be one? Well you will be, and it’s not at all what you think! So smile and stop worrying, God is a God of romance, but He is also a God of love, and He is after your heart and His glory.  And there is a greater joy and happiness in that than anything you can imagine!  Your single years will be fun! You will travel all of the United States and make more friends than you deserve. Adventures will be had everywhere! You actually won’t even want to trade in your single years. Not that they weren’t without heartache and struggles. but they will be good.

God will grant your dream of being in fulltime ministry, but not until you learn “full time ministry” is actually being faithful scrubbing toilets to His glory and working retail. Everything in your life now is a building block for the future. You will be 24 before you find out what you were created to do, but not one minute in the following 7 years of training will be wasted. It’s not about the goal but about the journey.

17 year old me, if there is one thing I can leave you with it’s this:

You who are young, be happy while you are young,
and let your heart give you joy in the days of your youth.
Follow the ways of your heart
and whatever your eyes see,
but know that for all these things
God will bring you into judgment.
 So then, banish anxiety from your heart
and cast off the troubles of your body,
for youth and vigor are meaningless.

(Ecc 11:9-10)

Enjoy your youth! Don’t try to grow up to fast, but also know that you will accountable for how you spend these years. So use them well, be intention, but also enjoy the ride!

Thanks to “Chatting at the Sky” for the idea to write these posts!


Not Just a Rose

It’s just a far off social justice cause until you witness it happening right in front of you. They are just nameless faces and statistics until you meet them and hear their stories. Human Trafficking. It happens. Here in the US.

Her name was Wanda*, she called out to me as I walked past her at the Underground Mall in ATL, asking if I had any money I could give her for food. After buying her a meal in the food court I asked her if she would mind if I joined her while she ate.  Her story it seems was a common one – in a fight with her boyfriend (who also sells her when he’s short on money) she hits the streets looking for a homeless shelter to take her in for the night. She has no money to spend on food, but only money given to her for specific beauty products – she faces a beating if she comes back without them.  Homeless without him, Wanda stays with her boyfriend to scared to stay or to leave. But it could be worse, she’s not a prostitute really, he only sells her once in a while.

Scared but wondering how we could help her, Wanda came back with me to the Dream Center (where I was spending the week on a short term missions trip). Newly clothed and fed, we offered Wanda a chance to come off the street – she declined, she wasn’t ready yet. Faced with a controlling boyfriend she knew or the unknown of a new life and facing the confines of a recovery house, she choose the familiar even while it kept her enslaved to her identity of little value.

Later that evening I hit the streets partnering with Princess Night Ministries, to simply show the love of the Lord to these girls by giving them a rose with a card.

You are loved. Tonight I give you a rose whose beauty fades, but there is a Rose that never dies. (<— click to tweet )The Rose of Sharon (Sharon meaning a straight path, peace, leading to good things.) Jesus is the rose of Sharon. He loves you for who you are…..            Princess Night hotline ##########

Finding these princesses of the King, who were kidnapped by the prince of darkness – on the street we told them they are beautiful, loved and of great value. If we got a chance before the pimps stopped us, we would pray with the girls and offer them a chance to come off the street. Katrina* saw our van coming and ran over – tonight was the night – she was ready for a change. Broken and excited all at once she entered the van to hushed prayers of thanksgiving and for protection as we maneuvered her to safety out of the neighborhood and into a new life.

In Atlanta (and in all major US cities) human trafficking and prostitution aren’t small problems – they are an epidemic as sexual perversion becomes apart of the norm in our culture. During my time at the Atlanta Dream Center I heard and saw many parts of these girls (and guys) stories. This coming Friday (August 24, 2012) is National Princess Night. Will you join me (and hundreds of others) in praying against the human trafficking in our county? Pray for Katrina as she faces the challenges of a whole new life and learning who she truly is in Christ? Pray for Wanda, that the Lord will protect her and free her, as He draws her to himself?  Pray for the Dream Center staff who daily face danger because of what they stand for and for how the minister on the streets.

For more information on Princess Night – Princess Night – find them on Facebook

For more information on Human Trafficking – Exodus Cry and Love 146

Do you have a ministry you work with, or a website with more information on human trafficking? Share in the comments.

*Names changed for protection.

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Boys and Pink Toe Nails

This post was originally publish in April 2011 – but it is even more true now than it was then!

This past week J. Crew released an ad picturing a mom painting her son’s toenails a bright pink.  The caption with the picture read “Lucky for me, I ended up with a boy whose favorite color is pink. Toenail painting is way more fun in neon.”  Is it way more fun though? Many people are asking what the big deal is. So a mom decides to paint her son’s toenails. If the little guy wants pink toenails what’s the harm? What sister out there hasn’t convinced her little brother to hold still long enough to practice on his nails or hair? It’s all innocent fun and advertising.

Or is it? A picture paints a thousand words and what can be easily written off as a person’s creative choice often heralds a much deeper sentiment and meaning. The controversy surrounding this ad simply brought to the forefront the ongoing confusion in our culture regarding gender and gender roles. Is it a sin to paint a boy’s toenails pink? In and of its self I don’t think so.
But when we look at the whole picture there is a lot wrong with it. Our culture is bent on making everything gender neutral, from the clothes we wear to the jobs we hold and the people we marry.  The world screams – “defy all odds – be anything you want to be – be the unique you!” Well that’s great until we have a whole generation of people trying to be different and unique – in the end they are all the same.

We all want equality and uniqueness.  Isn’t that how the Lord created us? Uniquely and at the same time equal in value as male and female?  Sin has distorted and abused that uniqueness, but it is still beautiful. We are trying to fight and at the same time recreate the very thing we already are! Why are we trying so hard to blur those lines? Continue reading