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Saturday, February 28, 2015

Remove The Plank

Judgmental. Critical. Holier-than-thou.

Do those terms sound familiar?

I’m writing this today, because it’s heavy on my heart. Not because I’ve been judged, but because I often find myself being judgy, and it’s not cool, and I’m working to fix it. Not simply because I don’t want to be a jerk, but because the Bible says
 “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” –Matthew 7:1
And if the Bible says we shouldn’t, then we need to do our best to follow that principle.

But sometimes it’s such a struggle isn’t it?  We see people face consequences they “deserve” because of their poor choices, or we see a mom who isn’t nearly as good at mothering as we are, or a coworker who just can’t seem to get his crap together, or even a person wearing an inappropriate outfit. It’s tempting to look at them and assume we’re better. That because we aren’t a hot mess (seriously, who isn’t a hot mess?), that others are clearly lacking the gumption, skills, or good sense it takes to be successful.

Last week I wrote two blogs. One was about comparison, and the other was about transparency.  I think the reason that we compare ourselves to one another, or we fail to be transparent, is out of fear of being judged by others.  If we want to have authentic, genuine relationships, we need our friends to know that we won’t judge them when they share the less-than-savory parts of their lives with us.  If you’ve ever had a friend who is openly judgmental of everyone, you know what I mean. That isn’t the person you’re telling all of your secrets to.  

Judgement is the instrument Satan uses to scare us into living lives lacking transparency, while drowning in a sea of comparison.

Why does judgment seem to be so much easier than compassion? Why are we so quick to make ourselves feel better by finding fault in others? Because we like to feel better about who we are, and the quickest way to do that is to determine the shortcomings of others.

 I’ve noticed something though. A lot of the things we judge others for could have happened to us, but we somehow escaped consequences. Some of us have made the same choices, we’ve just ended up with a different result.

·         Pregnant teenagers are simply teens who have sex and end up with a baby. If you were a teenager who had sex, then this could have happened to you just as easily.

·         Drug addicts and alcoholics start as recreational drug users.  Ever tried drugs? Taken some shots at a party? The outcome could have been worse than that hangover.

Any number of things happen because of the choices we make. We can’t judge others for our same choices just because we didn’t suffer the consequences of them. That isn’t fair, and it drives a wedge between us as human beings. The book of Matthew 7:5 goes on to tell us

 You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye.
Before we comment on the lives of others, perhaps we should look at ourselves. Maybe we aren’t so perfect, either.

Ever met that mom who just seems to be a disaster? She never has a band-aid, and her kids are a wreck, and they’re fifteen minutes late for everything. (Yeah, that’s me.)
I know you’re a perfect parent, and that you’re always on time, and your kids have matching sailor suits, and you lost your baby weight in sixteen seconds. Good for you. Be nice to the mom who runs in late with spit-up on her shirt, dragging a two-year-old with a full diaper behind her. Maybe her husband is deployed and she’s parenting alone. Maybe she just worked a double shift. Maybe she has postpartum depression, and is dealing with it silently because she already knows you’re judging her for the other stuff.  Take the plank out of your own eye first, friend. Then ask if there’s any way you can help.

Your coworker. Man, he just can’t seem to get it together. He’s always late, can’t seem to get organized, and never makes a deadline. You seem to be able to get to work on time and finish your projects early. What’s that guy’s problem? I don’t know. Have you asked him? Maybe he’s going through a divorce. Maybe he’s got a sick parent. Maybe he’s raising kids by himself.  Perhaps you could gently ask him if he’s okay, and if you can help in any way, instead of being critical. Remove the plank, so you can help your brother.

You guys, did you know there’s an entire website out there dedicated to judging and laughing at others? People of Wal-Mart is a site you can visit simply to look at (and laugh at) photos people have taken of poor outfit choices made by Wal-Mart customers.  Now, is wearing a g-string and a tube top the most modest choice when heading out to buy eggs? Probably not. However, seeking out this website in order to judge and make fun of others is absolutely not okay. Taking photos of people without their permission, then putting them on the internet for others to laugh at is abhorrent. Take a look at yourself. Have you ever made a regrettable fashion choice? Remove the plank. And be nice.

If I’m being honest, I’m judgier than I would like to be.  I try not to be a gossiper, or talk badly about others (though I have done these things), but my inner voice—she isn’t always nice.  In my heart, sometimes love doesn’t win and I’m left looking at a person through foggy glasses. I don’t see the whole picture, or I don’t care about their story. I just see a mess of a person who is clearly inferior to me.  And in those moments, I hear God’s quiet whisper “Remove the plank, Becky.”  

Sometimes it’s easier to leave my plank there, and go on judging. Maybe I have personally been affected by someone’s mistakes. Maybe someone I love has been affected. It’s hard to look past the errors of others, and try to understand someone when our lives have been shaken by a crappy decision, or a rough patch. But we have to forgive. We have to allow grace to flow from us. We have to remove the plank in order for God to work in us.  

The Word reminds us that He is the Ultimate Judge. We’re down here to love Him and each other. Judgment isn’t part of our job. Love is. So, it is my hope that next time you meet someone who made a poor choice, or doesn’t have it all together, or who others are mocking, you instead make the choice to remove the plank. Be understanding and kind. Show compassion. Be real with them, and build a relationship based on authenticity.

Remove the plank so that you can help your brother. 

Monday, February 23, 2015

Let's Get Real

You are masters at making yourselves look good in front of others, but God knows what’s behind the appearance. -Luke 16:14-15 (The Message)

Transparent, authentic, genuine. Are those words you use to describe yourself or your friends?  I hope so!  Today, when we all seem to be in pursuit of perfection, using comparison as our guide, we could all use a little more transparency in our lives. We need others to be transparent with us, and more importantly, we need to do our best to be as authentic in our relationships as possible.

I think one of the tools Evil uses to try and beat us is the idea that we have to hide our faults and imperfections behind pretty masks. That if we appear to be perfect, we’ll eventually end up that way. Or at least people will think that we have.

But who wants to fake it? Wouldn’t you rather sacrifice a little bit of self-preservation in order to build genuine relationships with people who love you no matter what? Wouldn’t you love to be the friend who listens? Who others feel they can come to for wisdom or prayer, because they know they can count on you to be real with them?

This post is a list (I LOOOVE lists-but that’s another blog) of reasons why we should do our best to live genuine lives.  Also—for the sake of transparency—I was having a hard time with transitions, so I left my outline in place and called it a “list.” Don’t judge me.

Transparency lets us know we aren’t alone.

Being real with someone when they confess to one of their “flaws” is telling them that you’re with them, and that you get it.

One of our chaplains’ wives spoke at a MOPS meeting a few months ago. She spoke of the difficulties of being a military spouse, and how we’re always expected to suck it up and move forward in order to support the mission. We aren’t supposed to show people that we’re crumbling. We’re supposed to bottle everything up and not talk about our struggles because our spouses need to focus on their mission.

 This sweet woman blew the top off of all of that when she said “’The nicest thing you can say to someone is me too.’”   “Me too” means you aren’t alone. You don’t have to suffer in silence. You have someone to share the burden.

I once told a friend that the meanest thing a “veteran spouse” can do is tell a new spouse that because they’ve experienced multiple deployments, they’ve got everything under control and are coasting. That completely invalidates the insecurities of the new spouse, and it just isn’t honest. There is no such thing as an easy deployment. The last one was our fourth, and it was exponentially harder than the previously three.  How about instead of pretending we’re fine, we say “me too?” Share your yoke with someone else. Partner with them and support one another.

Feeling inadequate? Me too.
So over that deployment? Me too.
About ready to fall apart? Me too.
Afraid of failure? Me too.

Being real means that we’re able to admit our own imperfections and feelings in order to give relief to someone else. Transparent people are good friends to have, because you know they’ll share their hearts with you when you feel like you just don’t make the cut. They don’t leave you flapping in the wind, because they’ll admit they’ve been where you are. Or they’ll encourage and reassure you if they haven’t.

Being transparent allows you to share wisdom with other people.

Ever been through something really crappy? A failed marriage? A wayward child? An eating disorder? A lost friendship?

Chances are, someone you know is experiencing the same thing right now. Perhaps, instead of pretending you’ve got it all together, and that you’ve never been touched by anything bad, you could share your experience with that person. You could explain how you got through it—the good choices and the bad ones. Maybe, just maybe, God gave you that rotten experience so you could use it to help other people who are in the same crummy situation.  

Transparency is an excellent way of showing kindness.

Have you ever met someone who seems to have it all together? Perfect, spotless home? Perfect children? Perfect spouse?  How does that make you feel? Does that old hag, Comparison start to sneak in?  Yeah, me too.

Ever think about the fact that you could be that person to someone else? Maybe, your friend sees you as the best mom on the planet, or the most fantastic employee where you work. Maybe a church friend thinks you’re a mature Bible scholar who doesn’t struggle in their faith walk.  

Being transparent allows others to see us for who we really are: the mom who sometimes yells at her kids on the way out the door, the employee who is sacrificing precious time with family in order to excel, and the girl at church who can say all the right things and quote all the verses, but who still isn’t sure what God wants her to do.

When we get past the idea that we have to be perfect, and instead share our imperfections with those we love, we create closer relationships. We also find freedom. Freedom from the struggle and work it takes to pretend we’re something we’re not.

Perfection is the enemy, and transparency is one of the best weapons we have to destroy it.

Transparency takes less energy than being a faker.

 I’m a self-admitted lazy person, so this just might be my favorite point.

As human beings, we have a limited amount of energy to expend each day. We can choose to use that energy to help people, raise our families, and do God’s work. Or we can impress others by being the best, doing the most, and making people believe that we’re perfect.

Trying to be someone you’re not is so. exhausting. Have you tried it? It will make you tired and worn down. You’ll run out of steam way faster by pretending than by simply owning the way God created you to be, and being honest about the circumstances He gave you.

Why in the world do we waste so much of that energy trying to convince people that we’re amazing, special snowflakes? Why can’t we just own who we truly are, and let others accept us for our real, authentic selves? Doesn’t that sound easier? It does to me.

You guys, I am so not perfect at this. I do my best to be transparent. I don’t want to create an illusion, or pretend I’m who I want to be instead of the girl I am at this moment. There are things about me that I haven’t shared. Maybe because of lack of opportunity, or because being real about a situation has been “too scary” for me. I have to wonder if by not being authentic I’ve missed an opportunity to love someone properly, or to be a good friend.  Maybe I’ve forced myself to take a longer route on the path God has laid out for me.  
By simply being who we are, we can empower others to lay down who they think they should be, and start being the people God created them to be. And we can do it for ourselves as well.

The image I project for everyone to see:
Yes, I'm in a bar. And I'm pretty sure my best friend used a filter, because my skin isn't this nice. I also weigh about 15 pounds less than my current weight.

The “real” me: 
Okay, so the "real me" has only been skydiving once. But this is the most unattractive photo of me in existence. 

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The Truth About Comparison

Comparison is an evil, evil witch. 

I have never understood why we compare ourselves to others, but it seems that most of us do it, and when we do, the results are never in our favor.

You guys, I am so bad at this whole “keeping it together” thing. I’m the mom who shows up without a sippy cup, and who never has a packet of tissues or a Band-Aid in her purse. I’m the wife who sometimes doesn’t have the house clean and dinner made when her husband gets home from work. I’m the friend who has forgotten a birthday, or who isn’t as thoughtful as she should be.  I was the teacher who wasn’t as creative at the others, or who didn’t get the results the other people on my grade level did.

I am so crappy at all of those things, when it seems like everyone around me is doing so much better.

One of my dear friends has the most beautifully decorated home you have ever seen. Everything has a place, and each piece of décor is thoughtfully chosen to add beauty and life to each room. Every time I go there, I think about my Hobby Lobby knick-knacks, and thrown together furniture, and I feel like I’m not good enough. Often, I haven’t invited people to our house because I feel like our home isn’t worthy of company.

Another friend has perfectly pressed children. I have no idea where she gets their clothes or how much she spends on them. It isn’t my business! I see the girls and boys with their sweet, coordinating outfits, and hair bows, and then I wonder how she gets them to look that way. Clearly, I am lacking some mothering gene, because my kids look like I’ve forced them to run behind the car in order to get to church. Nobody coordinates, somebody got dirty as we walked out the door, and another one hated the outfit I chose and changed at the last minute. It’s questionable whether anyone has brushed their teeth or their hair. Obviously this makes me less of a mom than my friend. I wonder what she must think of me.

Several of my friends are fitness consultants. They’ve shared stories and pictures of their total body transformations. Six packs and toned thighs flood my Facebook newsfeed daily, as my friends make healthy food choices and work out every single day.  I’ve gained eleven pounds since September. I go to the gym sometimes, and eat healthy when I feel like it, which is about one meal per day.  I have dimples on my butt, and my thighs have started greeting each other when I walk. I feel so unworthy to wear a bathing suit this summer because everyone else will look so much better than I will.

When I read these honest truths about myself, I realize the damage I’m doing. My inner self is constantly worried about what others think of me, and how I am so much less than everyone else.

 I let my self-doubt take over, and I almost let it beat me.

You see, I’ve recently realized something. God doesn’t care about the décor of my home, or my kids’ clothing, or the fact that my butt got a little bigger. God looks at my heart. And when He examines me, it’s important for Him to see a woman who has a heart for Him; not someone who’s worried about the superficial things of this world, but instead is worried about the people living in it.

So, I’m doing my best to fight that deceiver, Comparison. The hardest part is that she lives in me. She’s the darkness in there, holding me back from being who I’m supposed to be. If I listen to her, I’ll never be enough. But…BUT if I choose to listen to God, I know His purpose for me will be realized. If I live for Him, I’ll be the wife, mom, friend, and teacher that He created me to be. If I focus on pleasing Him, impressing everyone else won’t matter. And I’ve found freedom in knowing that. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

The Power Of 7:03

Sometimes 7:03 a.m. comes early. It’s Saturday or Sunday morning, and by the grace of God, my kids are still asleep.

Weekdays, 7:03 is chaotic. I’m packing lunches and pouring cereal, busy getting little ones to school.

7:03 in the morning just isn’t a convenient time for me to stop what I’m doing and focus on something else. There is important work to be done. Or so I thought…

In my last blog, I talked about Ann Voskamp’s prayer of 1 Samuel 7:3.

At IF: Austin, Ann encouraged us to all pray that verse at 7:03 a.m. during her message on Friday night (A Call For the People of the Cross), and again during the closing prayer on Saturday afternoon (The Courageous Prayer or 7:03 Prayer).

At first, I thought “Well, 7:03 isn’t super practical for me. I’m still getting the kids ready for school. I’ll figure out a different time.”  I had already started with excuses, and I hadn’t even tried once.  Anything to make my life easier… except faith isn’t supposed to be easy. And it certainly isn’t supposed to be convenient.

After getting over the fact that my convenience isn’t super important to God, I realized another thing. Over 60,000 people saw the IF: Gathering between February 6th and 7th. More have heard and will hear Ann’s 7:03 prayer now that IF can be purchased for download, and she has released it on her website. You can also listen to them here. Her message will have reached countless people, and of those, many will choose to pray at 7:03.

Being an Army wife, I started to put things together. When soldiers go into battle, they don’t go one-by-one based on each soldier’s personal preference. They make a plan of attack, and they go in together. They know that if they form a strong front line, they can’t be defeated. The enemy simply can’t win against them if they combine forces and face the fight as one.

As soon as I realized this, I discovered Ann’s reason for petitioning us to all pray at once. If we’re all doing spiritual battle together, there is no way evil can win. Zero. 

When I think of 7:03, I get a beautiful picture of my IF: Sisters knelt down beside me, shoulder-to-shoulder, defending the world from evil one word at a time. Prayer is action. Prayer is battle.
So, each morning at 7:02, I finish up what I’m doing, and I go somewhere quiet to pray at 7:03. I can’t tell you how awesome it is to pray with so many other people. I know God is working through those prayers. I know people are being saved, emboldened, encouraged.

For me, the 7:03 prayer has awakened my heart to finding God’s purpose for me. I don’t know exactly what it is yet, but I have an idea, and am in the process of getting direction from Him.
If you pray, I would like to invite you to join me at 7:03 each morning. You can find a printable copy of Ann's Courageous Prayer here at the bottom of her page. Or, you can discover what 1 Samuel 7:3 means to you, and pray your own way. I do both.

I’m so thankful for my 7:03 prayer time. A lot of days I feel sort of alone. But at 7:03, I know I’m standing with many others who have the same prayer as me. Who all want to live out the purpose God has for them.  We’d love to have you with us.  

***For another perspective on The Courageous Prayer at 7:03, check out my friend, Natasha here! She is doing a seven day break down of 7:03 on her blog/vlog, Beautiful Hot Mess Who Loves Jesus. 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Coffee, Chocolate, and Casting Off False Idols

You know how the timing of things sometimes lines up just right, and you can feel God working on your heart? Well, that happened to me a little over a week ago, and it’s so exciting that I need to write about it.

I have this really cool friend named Molly. She’s a former US Army helicopter pilot, currently married to a US Army helicopter pilot, and she is also a fantastically talented writer.  So, Molly writes a blog called All the Grace Between (  Her words are always eloquent, beautiful, and convicting. I’m blessed by her blog every time she posts.

A couple weeks ago, Molly announced that she is going to begin doing something called “Fair Trade Friday,” where she highlights a business that is making a difference by treating workers fairly. When I read the blog regarding why she was beginning Fair Trade Friday, it was very convicting. It made me question what I was buying that involved unfair trade practices, or straight up slavery.  I wanted to know how I could make a difference, too.

Fair Trade Friday was already on my mind as I made my way to the IF: Gathering in Austin last weekend. Little did I know, Molly’s blog was starting something in my heart that would be made clear later that week.

During session two of IF:Austin, Ann Voskamp, with her poetic words and voice that sounds like a mixture of cashmere and honey (I swear!), began a message that pierced my heart with prose that still echoes in my memory.

 She took the stage and removed her boots. Barefoot, she went from standing and speaking softly, to kneeling and begging God to hear the collective cry of the people in the room. Her words were so beautiful, and I was making such an effort to soak them in, that I forgot to take notes. But, in her cries, she talked to God about slavery. Specifically the slavery that goes into making “luxury items” for people like me. Chocolate, cell phones, coffee—all are manufactured or produced using child slaves.

Ann talked to us about 1 Samuel 7:3—
So Samuel said to all the Israelites, "If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines."
Rid yourselves of foreign gods… another way of saying foreign gods is “false idols.” False idols are anything that replace God in your life. One way (of many) that I processed 1 Samuel 7:3 is that my idols may be something that was more important to me than God’s people.

Suddenly, Ann’s message, and Molly’s blog collided. How have I let my idols (chocolate, coffee, clothing, etc), become more important to me than the people who are responsible for producing them? God’s people.  And, most importantly, what can I do about it? How can I rid myself of them? I decided to change some things right away. Starting with the “easy” stuff.

Thankfully, Molly gave me my first in. Right now, she’s reviewing fair trade items on her blog during Fair Trade Friday, so I know whatever products she writes about are ethically produced. YES! She’s already posted one blog about The Root Collective (  and their mission to enable small business owners in developing countries. Read it! Then stay tuned for her next Fair Trade Friday happening later this week.

The next thing I did was some research of my own. You should probably know that when I say “research” it means completely-obsess-until-my-eyes-fall-out. Joe literally thought I turned into a crazy person who was going to make him wear hemp underwear.

 I have to be honest, my biggest concern was with coffee. Coffee’s in my blog name. It makes me think the thoughts. It is essential to my life.  So, I started with Westrock Coffee (, which can be purchased online. They’re a direct trade company, and their coffee is awesome! It was served at IF, so I got to try it out in Austin. If you aren’t cool with shopping online, or if you just need to smell the coffee aisle in your grocery store, simply take a minute to look for the fair trade label on the bag you’re buying. Don’t see one? Put it back, and find one that has the fair trade label. Is it two dollars more than the other coffee? Who cares? Put it in your cart. See what I did there?

Chocolate was another issue for me. We don’t eat a ton of chocolate around here, but I do make chocolate chip cookies at least once a month. Plus, during holidays, when chocolate makes its way into baskets or stockings, I’d like to make sure I’m buying responsibly.  I did end up finding some slave-free chocolate chips online, and many choices for a solid bar of chocolate. My local H-E-B, Ikea, and the commissary all had more than one option! Sadly, none of my go-to chocolatiers are fair trade participants. I’ll miss you like crazy, Peanut M&Ms, it’s been a good thirty-two years.

One thing I noticed as I was shopping around for my new, beneficial-to-human-life products was that they’re a little more expensive than picking up what’s on sale, or buying a store brand. They are also harder to find, and there are less choices. And I get it. I have a family on a budget, too. I’d like to be in and out of the store quickly, as well.  But, even we all just change one thing in our shopping cart (or buggy if you’re southern), that makes a difference. What if, collectively, we decided to say NO. No, you may not use that child to produce my coffee. No, that child will not work in squalor in order for me to have a piece of chocolate.  No, you may not have my money until you right this terrible wrong.

I think, if we all did that, we could create change. Maybe we could even start a little revolution?  Maybe if we rid ourselves of our false idols, and start fighting for God’s people, the world will take notice?  I think so. And I plan to do my part.

Do you know of any fair or direct trade companies that provide goods while maintaining excellent treatment for workers? OR, do you know of some great companies that help people overcome poverty by providing them with a sustainable income?
I’d love for you to share links or company names in the comments, so others may join us in spending our money ethically!

Here are some links that I found informative: – Molly’s blog. You should subscribe to it. – a good place to start making ethical purchases -- Here you can choose products that are ranked based on ethical practices. This has been helpful! – Statistics about child slavery in the chocolate trade, as well as other information on making ethical food choices. There is also a list of all “approved” chocolate, as well as what to avoid.

 *Also, I wasn’t paid by Westrock Coffee or The Root Collective. I just think they’re doing good things.

Monday, February 16, 2015

That Time I Met My Favorite Author -or- How To Make Your Favorite Author Think You're Crazy

So, there have been lots of feelings seeping into the blog recently. I’ve experienced God in a new way, and have been expressing myself through blogs that have often felt uncomfortable for me. But nothing. NOTHING is as uncomfortable as the encounter I had with my very favorite author, Jen Hatmaker.

Before I tell this story, there are two very important things you need to know about me. One: I am painfully shy. Normally, I would never approach someone and ask for a picture with them. I might take a picture from afar, or say a short hello, but that’s it.   Two: I love Peyton Manning. Not in a “he’s so cute” way, but in a “he’s really talented and awesome” way. I have a kid named Peyton. I’m a fan.

Which brings me to my story….

Last Saturday, immediately after the IF:Gathering, I said goodbye to my new friends, and rushed to find the nearest restroom. I was in a hurry, y’all.

Now, please keep in mind, that I had just experienced this ENTIRE weekend of “don’t be afraid,” and “be strong and courageous!” Plus, I’d just spent five minutes on my knees praying with Ann Voskamp, and I was emotional. No, I was a disaster.

So, back to the bathroom…

I knew there was a bathroom on the first floor, and that I could get to it pretty quickly, so I headed for it.  When I was almost there, I saw a small group of people crowding around. Then I saw Ann Voskamp having her picture taken. I thought it was cool, but didn’t want to bother her for a picture, and she rounded the corner to go into some sort of green room. I continued past the crowd to what I thought was the bathroom, and instead was face-to-face with Jen Hatmaker.

Jen is a Christian author who has written several books. Her family also starred in the HGTV series “My Big Family Renovation” last summer.  When you read her books, it feels like you’re sitting down with a good friend who is being extremely honest with you about her faith—both good and bad. Her books have changed the way I view various aspects of my life and my relationship with Jesus.  

And that’s what I wanted to say: “Hello, Jen. Your books have changed the way I look at my life and the way I look at Jesus. Thank you so much. It’s so nice to meet you.”

But, instead, I descended upon her like a twelve year old at a Taylor Swift concert. You guys. I stood, grinning like an idiot while another girl got her picture taken, and then said:

“My kids would kill me if I didn’t say hi to you!” (They did watch every episode of the show!)

Jen: *smiles*

Me: “I just told my husband last night that you’re the female version of Peyton Manning!!!”

Jen: “I’ve never heard that one before. That’s a little weird.”

Me: “Yeah, I realize that now.”

And that was it. You GUYS… I just can’t.  I don’t even remember if I said thank you or not. I’m just glad she didn’t file a restraining order against the crazy lady who called her Peyton Manning!

So, my first brave IF act, was to ask Jen Hatmaker to take a picture with me. Do I wish I would have done things much, much differently? YES! But I’m really glad I got to say hello. It’s not every day you get a chance to meet one of the people who has helped you in your walk.  So, even if I die of embarrassment every time I look at this picture, I’m thankful I had the courage to ask to have it taken.  And that Jen didn’t have me immediately arrested. 

Is she not adorable? And I'm a hot mess! 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

When My Fight Isn't Your Fight-- And How We Can Talk About It

So, there’s this funny thing that happens from time to time when you’re someone who puts their opinion out into “the public.” It’s this thing where every person you encounter doesn’t agree with you and the stuff you say.

A couple of days ago, I posted a blog about how we should start getting mad about life or death issues like starvation, and medical care for impoverished people, instead of things like yoga pants and Fifty Shades of Grey. To me these things seemed more important. However, a few hours after I posted my blog to my Facebook page, I read the following:

“Sometimes I get knocked off course by other people’s expectations of me—you should do this! You should care about that! One way to miss your calling, little by little, is to run around doing all the things that other people think you should be doing.  God’s purpose for me is pretty narrow, pretty simple. I can’t be all the things that people want me to be. But I can live the calling God has for me, even if it means disappointing people who think I should be doing more.”
-Shauna Niequist

So, while I still don’t think we need to yell at each other about our different views, I can now understand why we each need to have our “thing.” And why my thing may not be more important than yours.

For example, my awesome friend Heather works at a pregnancy services center. The center is a safe place for girls who are making decisions about abortion, adoption, or keeping their babies. Not every girl who walks through that door knows whether she’ll keep her baby or not. Heather helps them with resources, and prays that each one chooses life. She also runs a bible study group for unwed moms through her church, so that the mommies have a safe, judgement-free zone in which to learn about Jesus.

If I ask Heather to step away from that in order to further what I think is important, how can she follow God’s call for her?

I have another sweet acquaintance whose entire family packed up house—kids and all— and moved to Cambodia in order actively fight human trafficking.

How can I ask her to fight my fight, when God has called her family for another purpose?

As Christians, (as people, really), God gives us gifts that we’re supposed to use for His glory. Some of us are teachers, or preachers. Some of us are compassionate. Some of us just know how to get the job done. God created us this way so we can reach all people. If all of us are fighting the exact same battle, this means another one goes unchallenged.  

Just because God’s purpose in my life is important to me, doesn’t mean His calling for others is any less crucial to reaching His people.

I don’t want to tell anyone what they should think or feel. God will put things on our hearts that aren’t for others, or even us, to question.

Can we just agree on two things, though?

 Can we speak to one another in love? Instead of calling out the yoga pants-wearers of the world, or bad mouthing our contemporaries for seeing a movie that goes against our beliefs, can we lovingly explain our feelings to them? My fear is that, in all of our passion, we don’t realize we. are. yelling.

“If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” -1 Corinthians 13:1

If we speak without love, we become an annoying, offensive noise. However, if we speak to our friends with care and genuine concern, we show them a glimpse of Jesus.

The second thing I’d like to agree on is for Christians to stop confronting each other so aggressively. We are supposed to be known by our love for one another. How can we show Jesus to people who don’t know Him, when we’re screaming at each other? There’s a nice way to disagree. My first graders can do it.

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you LOVE ONE ANOTHER.”  -John 13:35
(My Bible doesn’t use all caps here, but I think Jesus would be okay with it.)

Several readers have disagreed with my previous blog, and have emailed or Facebook messaged me privately. You know what was great about every single one of those responses? They were all done in love. Writers lovingly explained their feelings, and gave me things to think about.  Their words were so appreciated and weren’t lost on me.  I wish all things could be settled so nicely.

One topic remained unanimous in all comments, both negative and positive. You may not take our yoga pants. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

I Can't Get Mad About Yoga Pants

I can’t get mad about yoga pants, you guys. I also can’t get mad about Fifty Shades of Grey. Now, I can understand why my Christian friends are posting blogs, or stating their opinions on why they won’t wear yoga pants, or why they won’t see Fifty Shades. But me, well, I just can’t focus my energy on those.

I know what some of you are thinking: “a good Christian girl doesn’t wear tight pants and watch dirty movies.” Well, you’re half right. I won’t go to Fifty Shades, because I refuse to pay good money to spend two hours hiding under my chair, dying of embarrassment. Yoga pants—well, just leave my yoga pants alone.

But here’s the real reason I refuse to get mad about yoga pants and a movie: Because I feel that we as Christians are focusing on such narrow, and (sorry!) silly issues instead of focusing on real, life or death issues. You guys, in the words of Sven in Frozen “…we’ve got a real, actual problem here.”

Friends, every 3.6 seconds a person dies from starvation. The majority of those who die are under five years old. This means, in the time it takes you to read this blog, roughly 40 people will die of hunger, and most of them will be babies and small children. That is something to get mad about.

This year, over 300,000 women will die from issues related to childbirth. 99% of them will be in developing countries, and 80% of those cases are preventable with proper education, care, and training.  That is something to get mad about.  

You guys, 783 million people on planet earth don’t have access to clean water, and 2.5 billion people don’t have access to proper sanitation.  That is something to get mad about.

Last, 2.9 million newborn babies die each year from prematurity, delivery complications, and infections. All things that can be prevented with proper care and antibiotics. That is something to get mad about.

And God’s people are angry over yoga pants and a trashy movie.

If you want to get mad, friends. Get mad. Get really, really, mad.

But don’t let Satan distract you from life or death issues with trivial matters. I understand that modesty and purity from sexual sin are important, but people. are. dying.

What if… what if we took some of the energy we spend defending our opinions, and instead defended God’s people? What if we used our voices and our time to help “the least of these” the way Jesus commands us to?  Friends, one or two people can’t do this on their own, but if Christ-followers united and used their collective time, gifts, and energy, we could literally save lives. There is no excuse for us, friends. The facts are right there for us to see. People are dying and we’re worried about lycra pants and a crappy movie.

I just can’t be mad about those things, because 1,000 people died of starvation while I wrote this blog.

Where I got my info:

Monday, February 9, 2015

Undone- Coming Out of Hiding.

Undone. Broken. 

Those words are often used in churches I've been a part of, and in books I've read. I thought I knew what it meant to be broken before God, or to have come undone. Turns out, I was completely wrong. 

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend the IF:Gathering in Austin, Texas with 2,200 of my closest friends. Well, actually, I went all alone. But by the end, I really did end up with some great friends! 

The purpose of the IF:Gathering, founded by Jennie Allen, is to gather, equip, and unleash women to live out their purpose and serve God. ALL of my favorite Christian authors, speakers, and bloggers had signed on to speak, or were on the IF board. I was excited to hear their words in person, and so hopeful to be able to take what I learned from them and apply it to my daily life. 

Friends. Sweet, sweet friends. The encounter I had with God this weekend has left me completely undone. Undone and broken.  I realized that for years, I have been neglecting to see the big picture. There is so much more to God that I haven't considered. I have placed the same limits on God that I have placed on myself, and He is so. much. bigger. than. me.  I recognized that I've been missing out on the prize of faith by not fully trusting in the fact that He has a plan for my life and that I have been created to fulfill a purpose.  I've been playing church instead of living for, and trusting the Lord. 

Fearful. Afraid. Scared. That's how I've been living my life. Afraid of what people will think of me when I mention Jesus. Fearful of asking people to join us at church because they might say no. Scared to talk to the people I love most about Christ and His amazing sacrifice for them.  

To quote (to the best of my ability) Jennie Allen in the first talk she gave at IF on Friday: "Everyone we pass is going to Heaven or Hell, and we carry Jesus." We've been commanded to "go and make disciples," but I've been too scared to say anything because of what others may think of me. 

My entire life has been spent people-pleasing. I've tried to say and do the right things out of fear that I won't fit in, or to earn praise from others. I've been too afraid to lead something, or even ask to begin a program or study in a church out of fear that I'm not good enough, or smart enough, or "Christian" enough. I think-- no, I know-- that I have missed opportunities to reach people for Jesus because I was too afraid to say "you know what I think our church needs…"  

This weekend taught me that God is always with me; I don't need to be afraid. I need to trust God, and live my life in a way that pleases Him. I must stop living in fear. Joshua 1:9 says:
  "This is my command- be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Being courageous doesn't mean that I can't be scared or nervous; being courageous means that I have to trust God to be with me wherever I go, and to overcome my fears by having faith. Real, living, breathing, faith. 

I feel like my heart has been ripped out of my chest and completely rewired. Nothing is the same, because I am not the same. The blinders are off. I no longer get to hide behind my fear. I no longer get to say "someone else will do that better than I can," or sit in silence while a need goes unmet. I no longer get to ignore issues of poverty or maltreatment and assume someone else will take care of them. That is not His will for me. I understand that now, and I can’t avoid it anymore.

 I know that living out His plan for me is going to be scary, inconvenient, and hard. But I also know that He is with me, whispering "Be strong and courageous. I'm with you. Have faith.”

*If you would like to view the IF:Gathering, the download is available for $25 at
--Be careful. Your life will never be the same.  

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Flea Market Flip

 P and I are currently obsessed with a show on HGTV called “Flea Market Flip.” I find it extremely adorable that my eight year old son watches this with me because he “likes anything with a competition.” Boys!

 In the thirty minute show, two teams are given $500 and a mission to transform flea market junk into three fabulous products for resale. The team who makes the most profit wins. We’ve watched some great transformations on this show. The creativity of people never ceases to amaze me. The art of finding a good deal isn’t lost on me, either. I love finding cheap stuff with good lines and making it “new” again.

 Since we moved to Texas, we have “flipped” a couple of our own flea market finds. P’s new dresser and nightstand were purchased for about $50, and have been sanded, painted, and adorned with new hardware. I purchased an end table for $20 and painted it the perfect shade of Blue Lagoon. Flyboy redid a mirror that was supposed to attach to P’s new dresser, and hung it in the girls’ room.  Mak’s new dresser is waiting for its own coat of paint, and my pride and joy, a gorgeous French provincial china hutch, is begging me to paint it a gorgeous shade of gray.

Needless to say, “Flea Market Flip” is relevant to our family. Most of us can look at a cruddy piece of furniture or knick-knack and be able to see it in a different way. Not for what it is now, but what it’s going to be when we’re done refurbishing it. We can see the gorgeous shape of a table, or the clean lines of a shelf, and know that with a good sanding and a coat of paint, the item will be better than it was when we found it. We see that dirty milk glass vase lying in the mountain of equally filthy vases, and know that after a good washing, it will look stunning in our new gray china hutch. We see the beauty that has been lost on others.

Don’t you think God looks at us like that? We see our scratches, and our torn fabric. We see the dirty, stained parts of our pasts. We see garbage.  But through Jesus’ sacrifice, we have been “flipped.” We are no longer that lonely flea market cast off! God doesn’t see our dirt, or our stains. Because He sent His son to die for us, we have been washed clean! God notices our nice lines, our pretty shape, and our “good bones.” He knows that we are tired and worn, but He made a way for us to become new again. He created the potential in each of us, and sent Jesus to pick us out of the heap of discarded refuse to be revamped and repurposed.

I was that flea market garbage once. I’ve had many less-than-proud moments. Thankfully, God saw my dirty, lost, form and lifted me from the trash pile. He sanded me down, gave me a new purpose, and put me to work.

                2 Corinthians 5:17 -  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

-How has God pulled you from the trash heap?

-What is your best flea market find?

                I’d love to hear from you! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How to Follow CCC!

This is a test blog to see if my followers are receiving my blog updates via email.
If you get this, please respond with a "YES!" in the comments, so I know it's working. OR, if you DIDN'T get an email, please let me know that as well! Things are still a little new around here. I promise I'll get the hang of it.

Wondering how to follow CCC?  In the "web version" of the blog, under my picture, is a place to enter your email address. After entering your email address, and the authentification code, you'll recieve an email with a link to confirm your subscription. Once subscribed, you should get an email each time I update the blog!

Thank you for following!! :)

Stepping Out

I want to live more boldly. I’m a chicken by nature, and rarely take risks. My family has an awesome story about the time I heeded a “no trespassing” sign, and walked three miles out of the way for fear of breaking the rules.

 As an Army family, we deal with enough “adventure” every few years by going through a deployment or a PCS (fancy acronym for moving), so I tend to play it safe in my daily life.

Lately, though, I’ve noticed that my tendency to lean toward the safe, comfortable confines of my home, church, and family means that I am missing out on something. So, I’ve decided to do things that make me uncomfortable, just to mix things up a little bit.

Yesterday, being bold meant leaving the “women only” section of my gym. You see, in the back corner of my gym is a smaller, hot pink room where women can work out without feeling self-conscious in front of guys.  As someone who currently feels like her backside is an entity separate from the rest of her body, I’ve been sticking to its hot pink confines, because NOBODY wants to see what I’ve got while it’s bouncing around on the elliptical.

The thing is, the pink room doesn’t have all of the equipment I need in order to get a full core workout. The rest of the stuff is out in the main gym where the dudes are.  Which means, if I want the abs of my twenties to return, I have to venture out of my comfort zone to achieve them.

So, I took a deep breath, walked out of the safety of the pink room, and did a legitimate core workout. I was so worried about what others thought of me: that they’d laugh about my wimpy self only doing fifteen reps of each exercise, or about my crappy form. You know who noticed what I was doing? Exactly zero people.  Everyone else was too focused on their own health to worry about me.

Aside from overcoming my fear of looking like an absolute fool, I also felt physically stronger. Not only had I been depriving myself of a sense of accomplishment, I had been depriving myself of better health, and a stronger body.

When I got home, I realized that I do the same thing in my spiritual life. How many opportunities to serve God have I passed up because I’m afraid of what others think? How many chances have I had to speak boldly for Him and remained silent instead? How have I spiritually weakened myself because I haven’t been willing to step out of my comfort zone? This was such a convicting moment for me.

This weekend, I’m attending the IF: Gathering in Austin. Alone. I (and 1,800 other women) get the awesome opportunity to gather with some of the most amazing Christian authors and speakers of my generation and learn how to live boldly for Jesus. Even though I’m excited about this event, I’ve thought of every excuse in the world to not go because it means stepping out of the safety of my pink bubble. 

But, I’m choosing to live fearlessly. So, off to Austin I go. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

What's This Blog About, Anyway?

Hello, friends!
After much thought and not a lot of preparation, Cardigans, Coffee, and Crumbs (or CCC) is here!
Because this is my first blog, I thought I would introduce myself; even though the only people who are going to read this are people who already know me. I'm realistic enough to know that bloggers don't achieve overnight success, if any success at all. But I love to write; it's my thing. So, I thought I would enter the blogging world for fun.

I've been asked "what is your blogging theme?" several times over the past few days. Honestly, I had some trouble with this. I love Jesus, but I'm no Bible scholar. I love my family, but I'm not a licensed counselor. I love cooking and DIY, but I'm certainly no Martha! So, instead, I've decided to write not as an expert in any one area, but as the train wreck that I am. The girl who makes Jesus shake his head, the wife who (rarely!) burns dinner, and the mom who doesn't always get it right. Some crafts and DIY projects will probably be thrown in as well. Because who doesn't love DIY?!

So, the most important things about me:

First and foremost, I'm a child of the Living God! I believe Jesus died for my sins (yours, too!), and that he will return for us one day.

I've been married to my husband (who is still deciding on his catchy blog name) for twelve years. Most of those years have been downright fantastic.

I have three children: Mak is ten, P is eight, and G is three. Like our new pastor told me yesterday: "Having three kids is like having eighteen." I don't think I've ever heard a truer statement. But, they don't eat much, flush the toilet most of the time, and don't question the fact that I wear yoga pants four days a week, so I'll keep them.

I am originally from the sprawling Metropolis of Lewiston, Idaho. Most of my family is still in the area, and I love going back to visit. No, I did not grow up on a potato farm. I'm not even certain that I've actually seen a potato farm.

While I love Idaho and happily claim it as my home state, I am a North Carolina Tar Heel. I graduated in 2011 with a degree in Elementary Education. I know my daddy was proud that day, but he might have been slightly more excited that he got to walk on the court at the Dean Dome. He loves that place almost as much as I do.

I'm a teacher. After graduating from Carolina, I taught first and third grade in Tennessee. I miss the hugs, the toothless smiles, and listening to kids decoding words. I do not miss grading papers instead of watching Downton Abbey.

So, there's a little bit about me! I'm a pretty simple girl, living the crazy life God blessed her with.
If you've made it this far, I love you for sticking it out. Come back again!