I Wanna Dance With Somebody…But Only When I’m Perfect And Flawless

DancingThere’s something about dancing. I simply love it. Dancing has always been absolutely appealing and adventurous to me.

At the same time though, dancing has always been so ridiculously terrifying to me.

Admit it. You agree. Dancing is terrifying, especially if people are aware that you are actually trying to dance and not just being a wedding dance floor freak show for comic relief.

See, when you dance, when you really dance with pure enjoyment, you are totally vulnerable. When you are outwardly expressing with your body something that’s inside your spirit, it makes everyone really uncomfortable.

When I started learning how to dance, I unknowingly took a terrible approach. I like how talented people look and being talented myself, so I put on this cover of performance, that in order for me to matter, in order for me to be accepted, I had to dance well. I had to meet their expectations: my dance partner, the crowd, and the invisible camera recording this for YouTube.

And when I messed up? I’d feel shame. My cover was blown. I wasn’t perfect. And I couldn’t let that happen. I needed to keep up the performance.

Otherwise I’d be an embarrassment. I wouldn’t be loved.

Then dancing suddenly stopped being about enjoyment and it became about performance. It became all about me and not about the song.

Messing up was forcing me to be vulnerable.

But I didn’t want to be vulnerable. I wanted to be perfect.

Then a change started evolving. Slowly, gradually. This change started when I began dancing at church.

I just made a lot of you really uncomfortable.

But seriously. This began when I was at a church whose worship was not at all about the people around us and what the expectation or tradition was, but about the One we were worshipping. It was an inside belief and joy that came out in an outward expression. It looked different for each person, but normally there was some sort of physical expression during the songs.

I learned to sing and dance freely because of my vulnerability before God, not because of perfection. Because we always come before Him with our nothing. Perfection is always just a guise. And God always sees through the act. Why hide? He accepts me as I really am, my ugly mess-ups and all.

I don’t perform before God. I worship.

So, this isn’t really a post about dancing. It’s about vulnerability verses performance.

Recently I’ve been having a breakthrough about how many layers of performance I put over myself when expressing who I am to others. Humor, intellect, experience, talent, transparency. I realize now that it is often just an act to cover up the shame of my full vulnerabilities.

Because if people really knew who I was then they probably wouldn’t love me.

And what’s worse is if they do see me for who I am and then say, “I like you this way.” That’s offensive. I can’t accept admiration unless I’ve earned it.

That fear is the root of all the hypocrisy of performance, that I have to come up with an act that the people I love and respect will love.

But I’m learning… I just need to dance. Trip, step on toes, miss a cue, spin the wrong way, fall. Mess up in every way that I mess up. That’s me. The real me.

And you know what? The best dances are when I’m dancing with someone and we each mess up again and again and it just makes us laugh harder. It means the fear is gone. I laugh and not cry because I’m free. I’m accepted and enjoyed, imperfections and all. And I’m free to accept that acceptance.

You may not dance and are appalled at the thought of moving your feet, hands, hips or other extremities to the beat of the music. Fair enough.

But when will you let yourself be vulnerable? When will you let someone see the real you and be okay with their stark observation, “I like you this way”?

Don’t Hit Your New Year’s Goals And You Might Accomplish Something Great

I’m not the best at setting goals and actually accomplishing them.

Like the one time I got a couch from Craigslist and put the old one, affectionately known as “The Rock,” on the back porch with the goal of hauling it to the dumpster?


The Rock before the degradation by earth’s forces

Yep, it sat outside 2 years.

It became the hideous, unmentionable skeleton in the closet.

You thought I was accomplishing something with my life?

Until you looked out the back door.

Ah yes, the dilapidated, infested, weather-torn, demon-possessed Bel-rock couch from a budget horror film sat there in complete defiance to my highly ambitious life.

Goals mean NOTHING when you have no real intentions to making yourself uncomfortable to make them happen.

Would it have been uncomfortable to walk out to the back porch and carry the potentially (and highly-imagined) spider-infested, disease-carrying, snake-pit couch to the dumpster?


But I chose the easy route. Leave it there. Pretend like it’s invisible. Let “time” take care of it.

It’s easy to not do anything. Or to make someone else make you do it.

Last year I sat down and wrote a lot of New Year’s goals for myself. Yes, many of them, like the trashing of The Rock, never came to fruition.

New Year’s Goals I didn’t accomplish in 2014:

Pay off all my credit debt

Pay triple my minimum monthly payments on college debt 

Run a 10K

Write one morning a week consistently for my blog

Go to 5 states I’ve never been to before

Participate in a flash mob

Go to a third world country

Go to a variety of cultural places of worship

Date regularly

Yeah, these things didn’t happen.

But let me tell you some things that did happen in 2014.

New Year’s Goals I accomplished in 2014:

Move to a different state

Live in a big city

Not use any credit card or incur further debt

Salsa dance regularly 

Hang out with people of different skin color

Hang out with the poor and homeless

Get involved with anti-trafficking in a big city

Be in a church that is highly diverse

Be in a very intentional community of discipleship

Have mentors

Workout at least 3 times a week

Looking at what I’ve been able to accomplish is neat, but sometimes if I write out all the things I accomplish it ends up not even being what I actually want, what I want my life to look like.

I don’t think it’s bad to look at the things I didn’t accomplish or the goals I didn’t hit. In fact, I need to look at those. If I ignore it, then I forgot my purpose and my dreams. Seeing what I haven’t been able to do allows me remember where I want to go and how I can make some decisions today that will allow me to keep going in the direction.

You see, you have to remember– this is about the journey. As you set a goal or start down a path, it’s really just amazing that you actually started! What happens next is bonus material.

Reaching the goals, missing the goals… it’s all a discovery process. Through it all I have learned who I am unlike any other time in my life. Because I had great expectations for myself and decided that uncomfortable was a greater risk than chilling out, making everybody else happy with my life.

It’s funny, though, because as I look back at this year sometimes I feel guilty that at this moment I’m genuinely happy and hopeful, because there were so many moments of hurt and despair.

But I also choose to think on the moments of “Ah, this is it!” Those aren’t moments you can dream up or put on your goal list. You think it’s a certain paycheck, or marriage, or babies, or promotion, or destinations?

It’s not. The moments I have found where I think, “This is what I want my life to look like,” happened as I was walking along daily life and was surprised. It happened around a table, during conversation, in an unlikely friendship, in a situation that was counter-cultural, in a moment that involved giving of myself to people.

Those moments had everything to do with love and being uncomfortable, to walk into a situation that I had no idea how it would pan out, and be at risk.

I had to pick up my own Rock Couch and move it on.

I think that’s what I want to do every day.

Not try to hit these New Year’s Resolutions necessarily.

But to walk into the uncomfortable. Embrace the awkward.

Try it. I can’t explain it, but it’s very freeing. And it will open you up to experiences of “Ah-ha, this is it!”

I’ve already written my New Year’s resolutions with every intention of not hitting many of them, but hopefully I’ll stumble into greatness on the path there! So any New Year’s goals you want to journey on to in 2015?

Break The Rules

Why is it we can’t say, “This is what I’m passionate about and this is what I believe in and this is why I do it?” 


We go to jobs and churches and volunteer at organizations where we’re told what to do and believe in and have vision for. Then, of course, the moment we step out of the boundaries of the regulations, it’s “eh eh eh, don’t do that,” and the reprimanding ruler is slapped across our hand.

And then meetings progress and programs are created to solve the problem of “Why aren’t we effective? Why aren’t people doing excellent work? Why are our people hiding from us and not being transparent?”

Because when no one can break the rules, then forward motion, excellence and effectiveness are killed.

We tell people to be extraordinary then give them average limitations. 

Leaders, please stop doing that.

Dear employers, bosses, pastors, teachers, elders, coaches, and presidents, stop telling us to be great within the boundaries of your leadership perceptions. Quit controlling our dreams and passions for fear it will break your mold of perfection.

We can’t be great when you don’t trust us.

And then when we do try to be great and step outside of box, assuming you trust us because we believe you to be good leadership, you drop the hammer on our passions and crush us under the weight of “Who do you think you are? This is not all about you. Where did you come up with this? You are totally selfish.”

Oh, I forgot that all along this was never meant to be my passion. It had to fit inside your perception of permissible.

Let’s all just be clear and open right now, ok?

Leaders, when you tell us to be great, you have just given us permission to break the rules, because my ability of greatness is going to look different from yours, but it’s going to help you be greater in the long run as well.

So if you don’t want your people to be great, just be honest. Tell us that you just want us to do our jobs and be robots. It will help everyone all around. And there are some people that are ok with being robots. Find those and surround yourself with them.

But for those of us that want to change the world, you’d better be prepared to be uncomfortable. You can lead us, but you can’t manage us. We’re going to break the rules.

Because when you want breakthrough in the world, you have to break through rules and preset regulations.

To those who have found that seed of greatness within youself and want to live out awesome, realize that many leaders will not be ok with that. You’re going to face bullying, degradation, opposition, and hatred. You’ll have to walk away from those people and it’s going to hurt very much.

Because all you wanted to do was help. You just wanted to make a difference.

That’s the price of thinking, of believing in owning passion for yourself and not reciting it from some creedal mission statement.

I was drafting an email yesterday that I started off writing, “I’m on the Young Activist Council of an anti-trafficking organization and we are seeking to bring awareness of trafficking to Chicago.” And then I stopped, erased the whole sentence, and instead wrote, “I’m passionate about ending sex trafficking in Chicago and I was wondering if you’d like to help in bringing awareness of this problem to our city.”

It’s much more difficult to take ownership of passion. Because then you open yourself up to criticism.

Who do you think you are?

What credentials do you have?

Where’s your experience?

Who are your references?

What’s your education?

What’s your plan?

Why would you want to do this?

And sometimes all you can answer with is, “I believe in it. It’s my passion.”

Most people like rules instead.

Because passion is way too dangerous.


Let’s live dangerous.

Give people a reason to be afraid of you, then leave the religion behind, and walk into passion living.

There’s not many people walking that path of passion living. You’ll face a lot of fears and abuse and being vastly misunderstood. But it’s worth the freedom and joy that comes from actually living a life that means something, that has a point, that has purpose and intention in every action.

I’ve realized in my own life that the moments that I’ve had the most impact and purpose are the exact times when I’ve crossed the lines of rules and expectations at work, church and other organizations. And reality? I’ve faced opposition each and every time. But oh so much reward and fruit.

What rules do you need to break today that will allow you to live on purpose instead of robotically?

Why would I move to Chicago?

I’m convinced there’s two ways that you can live your life.

You can either…

a. wait until you are forced to make a decision due to strain and stress, simply allowing the inevitable to happen to you, or

b. think about and anticipate the next step and then move forward towards it on your own initiative.

The second one is definitely a lot more difficult because sometimes it doesn’t make sense or have a path of perfect logic all wrapped up in a pretty package ready to present to everyone that asks.

So…I’m moving back to Chicago is normally how I announced this decision, just kind of dropped the bomb because being subtle is not exactly one of my natural attributes.

Typical response? What?! WHY!?! You can’t go!

We like you here.

You’re successful at your job.

You’ve made an impact on lives.

You’re having fun and you’re happy.

We need you.

We didn’t get to do everything we wanted to do with you yet.

This is a great city.

Greenville is one of the most awesome, inexpensive cities to live.

It’s COLD up there!

But seriously, it’s FREEZING up there! You can’t survive!!!

You have really good opportunities here you can pursue.

You love this city.

It won’t be the same without you.

Yes. Yes, I do agree with every single one of those. I honestly do.

But you know what I’ve had to learn over my whole life? Those descriptions shouldn’t be true in just one place or location or season of life. Maybe it should follow you everywhere you go.

Because every person, place and situation I’m in I have decided to pursue leaving it in a better place than when I started. And what I want to leave behind is not really my name, but virtues and values. Like love, happiness, joy, peace, kindness, hope, honesty, strength, trust, humility, generosity, and faith.

Because those things last forever.

My life isn’t just about the here and now. I live the realities of the kingdom of God, and he came up with those values in the first place. So I just want to nurture them wherever I go, knowing that those will generate success with or without me.

So if I remember that this life isn’t all about me and always being known as the best, the funniest, the best trainer/manager, or the greatest friend then I am free to come and go as I feel because I’m not defined by what others want for me or say about me. I know who I am, and that’s a chosen, valuable, worthy woman and daughter of God, so I’m free to make a decision about what I want to do right now.

Will I mess up? Oh yes. And I have before. But life is about learning, not getting to a place of comfort and being too afraid to move because I might get hurt at some point. If that’s your view then get ready because life will throw trials at you anyway. You pretty much can’t ever escape hurt, pain or mistakes. So it can catch you by surprise as you’re living a stoic life, or you can take it in stride as you’re constantly moving forward and ahead. I’m very imperfect and make a lot of mistakes, but I’ve learned to move forward instead of living in a reality of my past, making it my present which distorts and kills my future.

Does that mean you have to move out of state? No. That’s just what is going to work best for me right now. I have always had a love for cities. I also have a sick amount of school debt that I need to really focus on paying off, so I’m going to try to get a job where I can pay off debt like a boss, develop my love for marketing, steward my bachelor’s degree and MBA… and guess what? Chicago, one of the cities I really like, happens to be where my relatives and family live close to! So I kind of just put two and two together. See what I did there?

And by the way, I’m really going to miss Greenville and all my friends and experiences there. This wasn’t the easiest decision and it took about 9 months from beginning to end. But I knew it was time, and because I have so many amazing people in my life that made it that much harder. I’m blessed to have to many influences in my life and such good memories to look back on.

So why Chicago? …you may ask

The easy answer to that is my family lives there and I grew up in a suburb of Chicago. I am definitely glad to live closer to family and be more involved than I have since elementary.

But the whole story? I actually went all “researchy” and decided to make a list of all the things I was looking for in a city and what I thought I wanted to do in life and find a place that lined up.

So here was my line of thinking: First, I’ve had a heart for helping broken women, specifically through freeing those that have been involved in sex trafficking and human slavery. So I researched the top 10 cities in America where that’s prevalent as well as the cities with the highest crime, since those overlap. It may seem like an odd way to research where to live, but if you are a child of God then you have the power of the kingdom everywhere you go, so why not go somewhere that actually needs change instead of a place to just blend in? Maybe we can try to live life on purpose?

Second, I googled the top culturally diverse cities. I love being exposed to and surrounded by a wide variety of cultures. It keeps you thinking, changing, and humble and I personally enjoy diversity.

Third, I searched which cities have the best cost of living. I’m not at a financial advantage right now in my life, so that was a very practical consideration.

The top cities that came up after all that consideration were Atlanta, Chicago, San Francisco, Tampa, Detroit, Phili, and Houston. After considering them, I crossed off ones that I legitimately couldn’t afford and ones that I did NOT want to live in (bad experiences in Detroit), and Chicago just made sense. I was familiar with it and had family there.

So thus the decision. Not sexy or glamorous or miraculous. Maybe God gave us a mind and resources so that we can use them to make decisions and maybe we get our panties way too much in a wad over the next steps in life because “I don’t know if it’s right or wrong.”

There’s no right or wrong. Just do something. Just start. That’s the hardest part because then you’re vulnerable. It’s much easier to stay put and be easily understood. Sometimes we care way too much about what other people think and want for our lives than what we want out of life and who we were made to be and do.

Leonardo da Vinci said something pretty insightful and I’ll leave with this:

It has long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.




Live it all. Live it well.

It’s hard to believe that 2 years ago I had just returned from the adventure of my life getting to spend a whole summer in Spain, England and Italy. I thought at the end of it I would be this well-experienced, wise traveler with complete revelation and vigor of what I would be doing with my life.

Reality? My life had been rocked and turned upside-down. I had a major identity crisis and had no idea what to do with my life. I was broke, jobless, displaced, vision-less and single. Dreams really do come true!

Yeah, not exactly the expectation I had upon graduating from 6 years of school and traveling the world. I thought I had to have things figured out before I could move forward. That I had to want something before I pursued it. That I had to make sure it would work out before I committed.


The truth is we will never know tomorrow’s plans but we live in faith of promises to be fulfilled in ways that our dreams can’t ever comprehend.

You may be a recent grad and wanna smack every person in the face that asks you either what you want to do with your life or what your plans are. Chill out. It’s just a question. Possibly one of the most natural ones to ask after you just spent $70,000 and the past 4 years of your life on a college education.

You may have just lost your job, had a career change, became an empty nester, got married, got divorced, moved across country, had major health set-backs, started a business, or ended one.

You can’t see the next step. You don’t know what will work out. Your fears from the past seem to be guiding you more than the desires if your heart.

Here’s what I’ve learned: just start. Somewhere. Move forward. Have courage. Pray to change your corner of the world and then go do just that to the person’s life in front of you.

Because you never have security of tomorrow. Today is the only chance you have to live today and then it’s over.

Last weekend a tragic accident happened while a church youth group was returning from a week of camp. Just a mile from church the bus overturned and 3 people were killed. The husband and wife that were killed were not only the youth leaders of the church, but they were also 8 months pregnant with a 2 year old left behind. I went to college with them. The other woman killed was the mom of one of my campers I counseled at a camp a few years back. Mrs. Weindorf went to give her young child with disabilities a chance to experience and enjoy camp. She has 5 children.

I am secure about a lot of things. I have a lot of promises I believe whole-heartedly in. However, I will never have the security and promise of another day physically on this earth. And this tragedy has been a huge reminder to do one thing:


Live life. Live it all. Live it well. Live my desires. Live without regrets. Live out love. Live for relationships and not for stuff. Live because my rock and love is Jesus. Live in the joy that is my reality no matter the circumstances.

2 years ago I could in no way imagined where my life would be today. God is fulfilling so many of my heart’s desires right now that back then I didn’t even know how to verbalize, much less intentionally pursue.

But that’s ok. And maybe that’s the whole point. Faith steps forward seeing realities that are beyond the physical.

Faith declares courage. And that’s our calling.

Take the first step. Live your “today desires.” Love the people in front of you right now. Because they could be the very ones that will be the movers and shakers in your life.

I just realized something: if I had given up on 9Round and stopped working out after my 6 month contract ended, if I had given up on being faithful in taking care of my physical body, if I had walked away after major change happened when our initial owners sold the store to corporate, then I never would’ve met Justin, the regional manager, and he wouldn’t ever have called me out about becoming a trainer during my 10th month. I wouldn’t have become a trainer and then a manager and an integral part of our corporate team and growth.

There’s something to be said for faithfulness and living well in the current circumstance. Tomorrow could change your life.

Chad and Courtney Phelps and Mrs. Weindorf were actively giving of themselves for the sake of others. You and I do the same by living love and faithfulness in our jobs, businesses, schools and homes. Don’t think your faithfulness is any less great just because it’s not “church” related. Because to live well in love is to spread the kingdom and change the world one moment at a time.


A Day of Remembering

Memorial Day is a pretty special day for me for several reasons.

First, it’s a dedicated day of remembering the courage of our military, those that have given their lives by dying for our country, and those that are actively giving their lives for our benefit.

The reality of the sacrifice of our military is especially close to me and my family. There are six kids in my family and three of them are actively in the military.

Come to think of it, if you ever come into our home when all our family gets together, it may be rather intimidating: 1 former Marine, 2 active Army guys, 1 Navy specialist, 1 kickboxing trainer, 2 biology med students, and mom that can make a casserole that’ll knock your socks off.

I pity the fool that intrudes our house when we’re all there. In the words of Antoine Dodson, “You are so dumb.” After 5 of us beat the living daylights out of him, we’ll send him to the med brothers who’ll resuscitate his life and replace his limbs. My mom will then make him a meal fit for kings, and then we’ll tell him about Jesus and send him on his merry way.

Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but it paints a picture nonetheless.

But mostly I want to paint a picture of sacrifice. I want to say thank you. Thank you for serving our country. Yes, all of us that work jobs are still serving our country and economy by being faithful and productive, but last time I checked our slogan where I work at 9Round is, “Get fit, Never hit.”

When you join the military, however, you get fit because you prepare for that moment when you willingly go into a battle where you very well may be hit. That’s the kind of service that makes our military vastly different from every other career in our country. Would you second-guess accepting your job offer if that were written on the job description? Yet every day hundreds of normal everyday citizens volunteer for this job. How amazing is that? Every person protecting your country today, the greatest country on earth, is a volunteer. Pretty awesome.

Thank you for the sacrifices: missing your youngest brother’s graduation party, missing the birth of your first daughter, moving all across the country and world, being separated from your wife or fiance for extended months at a time, for your faithfulness and commitment.

Thank you for our benefits: that I can work for a small, local business, that your dad can be a Christian pastor and speak with freedom, that I can write and post on a free blogging platform without interference, that I can be an entrepreneur and creator in my free time, that I can go to sleep tonight without fear of bomb threats and invasion.

For all the endless sacrifices and benefits for our sake, we say thank you. We’ll never know the beauty of these freedoms unless one day they are gone. So we enjoy them and honor you for all that you do, seen and unseen.

Charity Jackson, Navy

Charity Jackson, Navy

Jon and Kristin with baby Elanie, arriving home from Iraq; Army

Jon and Kristin with baby Elanie, arriving home from Iraq; Army

Nate and Jeanie; Army

Nate and Jeanie; Army

Memorial Day is also a special day to me because, well, I was born on Memorial Day. And apparently I’m a pretty memorable person, according to my mom (well-played, Mom).

So I’ve been remembering my recent birthdays, and honestly my last 2 birthdays haven’t exactly been stellar.

2 years ago: I was in Philadelphia with a whole bunch of people I didn’t know and spent most of the day by myself. After a quick trip to Starbucks to celebrate with a coconut mocha frappe, I retreated back to my room. So sad. (Granted, the next day I would be leaving for Europe, but I still want a pity party)

Last year: After several attempts to find somebody, anybody,  to go with me to watch Colbie Caillat at the Memorial Day celebration in Simpsonville, I resigned to spend the evening house-sitting for my friend. just me and the dogs. eating chips and salsa. and Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips. and watching The Vow. alone.

that’s one very depressing birthday.

Thankfully, every year we get a chance to make up for the mistakes we made in the past, and now I’m with my family in Indiana, having a duo-celebration with my youngest brother as he graduates from high school. and we all breath a sigh of relief.

That was a really unnecessary introduction. But it does remind me of how thankful I am for the changes that have come about this past year and all the craziness that has happened. So I just wanted to share a quick little photo journal of some highlights this past year. It really has been unbelievably wild. If I were really cool, I’d make an Infographic, complete with diagrams, timelines and neat swirly arrows.

but I’m not cool. so pitch that thought.

and enjoy.


These guys attended my birthday party last year. Obviously, they were about as thrilled about watching The Vow as I was.



First time Broadway experience. And it was WICKED AWESOME!

I was flown out to LA area for a job interview. The drive through the mountain pass to get there was phenomenal!

I was flown out to LA area for a job interview. The drive through the mountain pass to get there was phenomenal!

That same week I got to drive down to San Diego for my first time. All in one day I was in the desert, mountains, and beach. That is why Cali is legit.

That same week I got to drive down to San Diego for my first time. All in one day I was in the desert, mountains, and beach. That is why Cali is legit.

This year I got to be very involved with the homeless in Greenville and had a lot of unique experiences that have changed my life.

This year I got to be very involved with the homeless in Greenville and had a lot of unique experiences that have changed my life.

Snowboarding in West Virginia, baby!

Snowboarding in West Virginia, baby!

This was my last day at my former job. We donated windows to the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville. It was a great way to end a season and enter a new one.

This was my last day at my former job. We donated windows to the Ronald McDonald House in Greenville. It was a great way to end a season and enter a new one.

This is Lilly. 6 months after the 5K, she was connected with a specialist in New York, and after an intense surgery, she was declared cancer-free! Praise Jesus!

This is 3 year old Lilly. 6 months after my first 5K which raised money for her fight against brain cancer, she was connected with a specialist in New York. After an intense surgery, she was declared cancer-free! Praise Jesus!

Enter 9Round into my life. In March I started training to become manager and head trainer at the 9Round location on Wade Hampton. Amazing job, amazing organization! I love every minute there.

Enter 9Round into my life. In March I started training to become manager and head trainer at the 9Round location on Wade Hampton. Amazing job, amazing organization! I love every minute there.

During my first week we had our annual national 9Round convention downtown at the Westin Poinsett. Yeah, we were running around the Gold Room in boxing gloves. Be jealous.

During my first week we had our annual national 9Round convention downtown at the Westin Poinsett. Yeah, we were running around the Gold Room in boxing gloves. Be jealous.


My youngest brother Jared had his high school graduation party the same day as my birthday this year. Now I call that good timing.

Well folks, there’s the overview of year 25. Now onward to 26. Do I have plans, dreams, goals?

eh, ish. Here’s what I’ve learned: pray, plan, dream … and then go. One day you have to make the decision to actually do something, to walk forward, even if you have no idea what step to take after the first one. But that’s ok, because you’re never, ever alone, no matter how dark it may seem or how fearful you feel. Are you a child of God? Then be aware that before the words ever cross your lips that you need His presence, God’s presence has always been there and has never, and will never, leave.

This is my city

It’s time to share my story.

Or at least how I’ve come to where I’m at now. Of course all stories continue; issues come up when we focus on one particular season or want as the End, as if everything were a means to bring us to that point. This is just a highlight of several significant chapters in my life. A lot of you, my friends, have recently asked questions about the past year of my life and this seemed like the best way to communicate.

I want to be very clear about two facts upfront: God is good. and Faith acts with no circumstantial evidence to back it up.


On December 3, 2011 I journaled these thoughts: “Is this how God is saying that I’m here in Greenville for good? God, I struggle with this so much. You have done so much in my heart and life that has given me a passion for the Gosepl where there is no voice or very little. I feel like Greenville is so saturated and stagnant. People know Jesus but they refuse because their stuff and relationships and lives are worth more. We are so plush here. Send me somewhere else.”

I had recently sat through a church service where Tim Keesee had shared exciting stories of travel and Kingdom advancement around the world. I’m not exactly sure why it happened, but I fell apart. I cried all throughout the service, wept during my drive home, pulled myself together while some friends came over, and then wept again once they left. I felt so jaded. Like I was given a taste of something that I couldn’t have as my own. Purpose seemed to have evaded me and my desires went unfulfilled.

I didn’t want to be in Greenville. Of all places I’ve been, Greenville was my last choice. In my life I’ve lived in 7 states, traveled to 3 foreign countries, and have been personally involved in dozens of churches, ministries and cultures. Yet something was still aching, missing. I knew I had to find it or I would die. Moving away seemed the logical answer.

In May 2012 several circumstances climaxed in my life. Quite frankly, life was terrible. I finally said, “Ok God, I’ll move to California if that’s what you want. I can’t just sit here anymore.” Why California? I had visited Menifee, CA in the past and loved the area, the people, and church plant there. I even tried to move there once before. But now seemed like the best time. I had nothing to lose. I didn’t really have possessions, deep relationships, or even purpose. I didn’t even laugh anymore. which was scary. and sad. I couldn’t remember a time in my life where I didn’t incessantly laugh.

This move, however, was very fearful for me because I had no external evidence to support it, but I claimed faith to move on. As soon as I took that first step, crazy stuff started happening. A hospital in the LA area called me about my online resume, and by the end of the first conversation they had set up a time to fly me out for an interview with the Board and CEO for the Director of Marketing position.

*cue freak out moment* I went from nothing to suddently an all-expense paid trip to Southern California during the week of the 4th of July to interview for a dream job! Simply. Unbelievable. I remember driving in my rental through the amazing California scenery, biking around Menifee, and visiting San Diego thinking, “I can’t believe this is happening.”

The job though? I knew the moment the interview was over I wasn’t supposed to accept that job. I loved them, they loved me, but it wasn’t mine to have. I ended up officially turning it down a week later. Yet at the end of my visit I told Tim Lovegrove, the pastor at Grace Bible in Menifee, “I want to be here. I can’t think of a reason why I shouldn’t move. There’s nothing holding me down in Greenville.”

I would literally be starting life over. I made plans to pack my stuff, sell what I could, terminate my leases and contracts, and end my chapter in Greenville. I even had Plan A and Plan B written out, complete with financials. This was real, people.

But oh the fun had just started. August 1, right at the tipping point of change, something relatively insignificant happened, yet it was like God whispered, “Wait.” Hm, ok.

Friday night August 3 I walked into a small theatre building in downtown Greenville for a service with some church I had never heard of before: City Church. 2 friends at outreach had invited me but contra-dancing had conveniently conflicted for several weeks. Needless to say, I showed up that night.

And so did God.

You know how some moments in your life you remember even the smallest details? This was one of those nights. My mind was blown so many times. Something was different. I saw normal, everyday people that really cared about their city. and they weren’t “missionaries.” Like, they intentionally pursued the people and prosperity of the city. It was like the church existed for the city and not the city for the church. This was new to me. I was intrigued.

They had also just started a 21 day fast with other churches in Greenville called The Hinge. They actually believed that real prayer was the hinge to open up a door of kingdom advancement and revival in Greenville. They had been praying for years for the kingdom to come to Greenville as it is in heaven. They believed that you don’t have to go find the kingdom; if you are a child of God, where you go the kingdom goes with you. The power of Jesus really does dwell in your heart and affects you and everyone around you.

Well, this was pretty cool. It was an invitation for me to join. I thought, I may be leaving, but I want to be a part of this, even if just briefly. I want to see the power of this kind of prayer.

So I entered into fasting and prayer unlike any other time in my life. And, well, stuff happened. A lot of crazy stuff. It was like my world stopped and God said, “Watch me.”

3 unpredictable weeks later The Hinge ended with a huge prayer gathering at Falls Park. I got to the park early and sat on a bench reading Romans 8. I was so confused. So much had happened in the past 3 weeks I didn’t know what to think or do. Where was I supposed to be?

As I was thinking, I happened to look past my bench. I saw a piece of trash, a straw specifically.photo (8)

This is my city.

I sat up straight with a jolt. Did I say that? Uh, for real? …God? God, how can this be my city? Like, emphasis on “my.” You see, if I call something mine, I have to take care of it. Because I care. If something is broken, I fix it. If trash is on the ground, I pick it up.

I stared at the straw in disbelief. I knew that he was calling me to Greenville and asking me to pick up the straw and accept ownership. But, but… if this is true, then I would’ve been wrong the entire time! Was I really that blind? Had it really been right in front of me the whole time?

I closed my Bible, got up, picked up the straw, threw it away, and then walked down where everyone was gathering. The first people I saw were friends I had just met the night before at City Church. They asked, “How are you?” And I said in a bit of a haze, “uh, I think God just called me to Greenville.” “Oh that’s awesome!” one friend replied. “Because I just prayed for you this morning.”

And you know what I think is funny? God sent me all the way to California for a wild, expensive dream trip… and then used a piece of trash to call me to my own city. Hilarious! I had to come to the complete end of myself and be completely desperate for him. He asked me to start taking faith steps and then rewarded the obedience by giving me way more than I ever imagined.

From that moment on something changed in Angela’s inside area. Something was set free. I can’t even really explain it, but I guess that’s what love is like. I remember talking with my mom the following week and saying, “Mom, I don’t know what happened. I feel like I’m really light. It’s like I’m myself again. I’m laughing again.” Somehow, because he’s so good, he just took my oppression and chains of heaviness around my heart and broke them. And I didn’t even know the chains were there.

And I have experienced immense amounts of joy since then that I have never tasted before. And it’s tastes reeeeaaaally good.

From that point on God has led and told me that he would be bringing me into many new seasons in my life: work, church, community, marriage, outreach, and relationships. And this is where I’ve learned faith: I believe that they are a reality before they physically show up in my life. Kind of a crazy way to live, but actually in the Kingdom that’s normal.

Starting December 2012, God built the bridges for me to cross into several of these new seasons. My time working directly with the homeless was over and I would be reaching out to women with broken lives, whether they are connected with sex trafficking, strip clubs, or abused lives. This totally overlapped with a new job he sent me. As the trainer and manager of 9Rounds on Wade Hampton, my schedule didn’t allow me to work downtown anymore with the homeless, but he immediately sent me to a new outreach and community to minister in that fit in my schedule. And with this new community and outreach he led me to a new home church, which is City Church at the heart of downtown Greenville. Now my job, outreach, church and home are within a 5 mile radius. He’s really good like that.

And so the story continues. I don’t really know what’s next. Some things have really surprised me in the recent weeks, but honestly I’m done with being surprised to be surprised. That’s just how it is. I can never fully understand the love and joy of Jesus so every new experience of goodness is always a “WHOA! Now that’s a new awesome!”

So, to sum it all up, isn’t he a good story writer? I love a good story. I recently finished Harry Potter and The Half-Blooded Prince and I just had the experience during the story where I literally cried out, “Nooooooooooooo!! Say it ain’t so!” I know there’s one more book and that it’s going to end really well, but I’m kinda disappointed right now… yet captivated. Something good’s coming. Something better.

Every day, each moment of my story, your story, has that constant hope keeping us moving forward and expectant. Something good’s coming. It only gets better. And I’m not being optimistic. I’m being real. Because at some point we need to come to a place where the unseen is more real than the skin on our bones or the air that we breathe.

What do you think you’re doing?

Sometimes I’m asked do things for which I have no logical explantation why I’m doing it.

That’s hard for me. I’m analytical and systematic. I love to understand and am a person of endless questions.

But when God leads in my heart to do something that has no explanation and exposes me before others, leaving me open to potential misunderstanding, I falter.

This has happened again and again until I’ve realized recently that each time I’ve decided to obey despite my fear, something crazy awesome happens and not only am I blessed, but so are others.

So I’ve come to this conclusion: I don’t care anymore if I’m right or wrong. I just want to obey.

With Palm Sunday yesterday, I’m reminded of a word God gave me recently regarding faith and obedience. God was asking me to do something that was uncomfortable given the visible circumstances. I felt it exposed me and was kinda odd, so as I laid down to sleep I wanted a word from the Lord to confirm, and I somehow “randomly” hit up Mark 11. This was the word:

Jesus sent two of them on ahead. “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As soon as you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘What are you doing?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it and will return it soon.’

Exactly what I needed. Jesus spoke and told them to do something. The disciples didn’t know why they had to, though I’m sure they were fine with initially doing what he said. The opposition and test, though, came when the everyday observers and friends said, “What in the world are you doing?” 

And that’s where faith is tested. People are going to think and say, “Uh, what are you doing? That makes no sense.” And often all I can say is, “Jesus wants me to.” I have to have enough faith to walk forward with his words alone because that is my reality.

The thing is, if the disciples had caved under the fear of man and that pressure, they would have never taken that colt, they never would’ve brought it to Jesus to use, they never would’ve gotten to lay their garments down for Jesus, and Jesus never would’ve had his triumphal entry through the city where the people worshipped, “Hosanna! Praise God! Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord!”

All over a small colt. And an unashamed act of obedience. He asks for small acts of faith in the midst of misperceptions all around me.

Here’s what I learned: obey his voice. Always. Because he’ll take my small colt and ride in triumph over my circumstances and my life and my city and conquer!

God, I almost always don’t understand. But, you know, that’s ok. And I proclaim that I am committed to following your voice. I will obey because I love you and you are worth my life and your commands are always for good. And you always bless my obedience! I lift my life up and place it in your hands. I ask for nothing out of “deserving” or cling to something that rightfully belongs to you. You can take or leave it; it doesn’t matter. Because I know all you have is mine anyway; I’m a child, not an orphan. Keep creating my life into something beautiful. I can’t see the complete work of art yet, but that’s because I’m not the artist.

Do I starve or feast?

“I am so much more godly and spiritual if I can do without this good thing and that amazing person in my life. I love Jesus so much that I don’t want any of it.”

I used to believe that. or at least a softened, revised, religiousy version.

On surface, yeah, sounds so good. dedicated.

But now?

I think it’s ridiculous.

or at least … off.

Maybe I’m just starting to realize some obvious truths.

God made everything.

If I see it, feel it, smell it, experience it, desire it, then it began with God.

So he must be in everything.

I am made of God, so any desire I have stemmed from his imagination in the first place. Evil doesn’t create anything new. It simply distorts the good, twists the innocent.

Greatest commandment: love God with my whole heart, who he is and every attribute. Yet that also means I love all the things he has made and has placed me in. To love his creation and his creativity is to love and appreciate him, the Artist, not to discredit him. To be overflowing with God is not found in starving but in feasting!

And this is why it takes faith to see God in everything. faith.  that thing we claim is the bass drum of our life.

And, yes, my world seems wrong when these good things are taken away. It’s ok to feel that struggle, the longing, the upset feelings. because of this:


Hope is knowing that one day all those good things will be restored, because when I get to heaven I will get Jesus, who is the substance of everything and all good in the first place.

So I can love my good health, but if bad health comes, I’m not necessarily going to automatically become more godly because I have to suffer now. The biggest difference is I’m exercising more now. He’s bench pressing me on the weight of his glory. My mind is working hard to think in his goodness and grow in grace and seeing through eyes of faith I may not have had to have during the times of plenty. I know I can love him more than good health because he is health and happiness!

The secret? To have Jesus is to have everything. But to live for the everything without Jesus is to actually lose it all.

C.S. Lewis said it this way: Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither.

And if all those good things were swept away in a moment? I can lift my hands in praise and proclaim, “Who do I have in heaven but you? There’s nothing I desire on earth but you!” My trend with Jesus is always #winning.

I also love how Tozer compared the gifts to the Giver: God’s gifts in nature have their limitations. They are finite because they have been created, but the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus is as limitless as God.

So here’s what I think: heaven’s going to be the most pleasurable experience and amazing party ever because God is there. And he is the essence of everything I enjoy tactically here on earth: music, food, kickboxing, clothes, love, coffee, hugs, dancing, laughing, colors… He is in all those things, yet it won’t be until heaven that I will be able to enjoy it in complete fullness. So I look forward to it and practice enjoyment in real anticipation.

And that’s hope. Which takes faith knowing the best is yet to come. But while living the reality today.

So with that in mind…

this black Americano with white chocolate is dang good!


Chill out

I’m in this season of life right now where I feel really fragmented. It’s rather ironic, though, looking back to where I was a year ago having just moved back to Greenville and starting to live on my own for the first time. Let’s see, what did I do: I worked full-time, did swing dancing, was involved with church stuff, and, if there was money to spare, I ate food. I didn’t have many options as a result of my limited resources. I was also in this post-college honeymoon phase of “whoa I can come home after work and do … nothing.” Which, um, was quite frankly what I typically did. No TV, no internet, living off Kashi granola, bananas and peanut butter. So this is what 20 years of school was preparing me for. Mom, Dad- I knew you’d be proud.

Now my life is overflowing and I honestly can’t say it’s in a unified fashion. Praying about that. But let’s not bore you. I do too much of that with this blog.

What am I really here to muse about? Well, when I’m feeling fragmented and busy, my mind starts to go a million miles an hour and I have to keep up, be one step ahead. And with those moments often come confusion and fear of the unknown. It quickly bogs me down.

I know you’ve been there, so I won’t elaborate. Ok, so in those moments (whether you’re overwhelmed, confused, insecure, fearful- you name it), what words of comfort from Scripture come to mind to calm the troubled mind?

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, learn from me, for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

I’ve read these words in Matthew 11 somewhat recently as I’ve been progressing through the book of Matthew. for the past year. ah yes, my reading comprehension abilities are staggering. Actually I try to work slowly and typically get stuck on phrases like 9:1, “And Jesus, getting into a boat…” and I can’t go any further. Why the boat? Why at that moment? Why is Jesus always getting in boats? Why was this connecting thought even put here in this chapter? Is he speaking to me to get in a boat and spread his kingdom? Royal Caribbean? Yes, Lord, your child hears.

So I was stuck on this “Come to me and find rest” command for a while. And you know what I found? I think I’ve viewed it all wrong the entire time. Or at least had only a partial view.

Step back. Jesus was on mission, spreading his fame, telling everyone that the Law and rules they’ve been working so hard under will now be fulfilled. He thanks God for opening eyes and hearts to know him. So come and find rest in Jesus! Your weariness is over.

And here’s the good stuff– what happens next. Chapter 12: “At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath.” At that time- what time was it?

Jesus had just declared himself as the chosen one, the answer they were waiting for, and then called on God to spiritually open their eyes and to give them rest in Jesus, to lay their burdens down on him. It was at that time that Jesus, always on mission, went through the grain fields to pick up food…on the Sabbath day.

This is Jesus. He could’ve overturned a stone and pulled out a fattened calf and had a feast with his friends. He could’ve done anything to provide food for his hungry friends with him. After all, they needed physical rest and restoration. But Jesus had a different rest to teach them about, so he took them to a field to get food, and in that culture it was a blatant breach of rules to pick up grain on the holy day. Kinda like streaking through a Baptist sanctuary. There are just some things nobody questions.

Then- this is where is gets edgy- he allows them freedom to take food from a field to eat even though there was a rule against it.

It was a cultural no-no. It was a denominational no-no. It may have even been a personal conviction no-no.

Tell me, why Jesus would do that?

He of all people should’ve been the one enforcing the rules.

So why? Cause he’s the Master of the Sabbath. He owns it.

It is not an irony that this happens right on the heels of him calling his children to “come unto me and find rest.” He’s showing them that he is more concerned about the heart of the law than about the letter of the law. “Friends, are you hungry? You can eat and be ok with God still being satisfied with you, because I’m here, and I’ve satisfied God enough for all of us.”

Do you see this? This is what Jesus was telling me: “Chill out! You can rest now. I’m here and actually the purpose of Sabbath rules were all about me in the first place. Now you are free from this rule because now in resting from this pressure it’s still all about me. You get to eat in this unconventional, radical manner and that’s good. I want to feed you because I’m good.”

So, friends, pick up the grain and eat. Those things that used to hold you away from God, enjoy. Find joy in enjoying and be at rest. Nothing has dominion over you now except the law of love.

So in those moments when you’re striving in your mind about doing or not doing something because you’re afraid you’ll lose the favor of God…chill out. Seriously. Test it against the law of love, and then live in freedom. You’re free either way.

So this “come unto me and find rest’ isn’t just about calming the soul in hard seasons of life or in the busyness of circumstances around you (though I do believe it includes that). There is a much much bigger picture though from what I gather looking at the whole context.

And the story gets better! The Pharisee’s reaction are just so typical in response to Jesus’ radical command to rest. But, I have to stop and hold you in suspense until followup thoughts later about the Pharisees because I don’t know how anyone can have grace enough to read through this entire post. Reel it in, or, as a mom-quote comes to mind, I just need to take a chill pill.