The Turtle’s Greatest Accomplishment

Unemployment has been amazing.

I get to sleep, read as much as I want, spend time with my family, enjoy quietness, not go out of the house, not wear makeup or put on real clothes for days on end, you know, the dream.

And then come 3 harsh realizations:

1. I don’t go out of the house because that normally requires spending money.

2. I will eventually have no money without a job.

3. I now have to enter the hades of #firstworldproblems: online job searching.

Online applications are the WORST.

the. worst.

Endless, repetitive, and stupid.

Why did I just upload my resume, sync my LinkedIn account, and create a profile only to now have to re-enter ALL my employment history, addresses of where I’ve lived in the past 15 years, every food allergy and pet in my history?

By the time I’ve finished sharing every intricate non-job-related detail of my life and changing and rechanging the input of my numbers because the database doesn’t process my phone number if there’s dashes in it…

we get to the real clincher: the EOE, Equal Opportunity Employment, questions.

It’s the Triple Threat: I’m Female, White, and Non-Veteran.

It was over before it began.

So my only chance to stand out is with those few and far between open-ended questions.

Recently one asked me to describe myself and why I’m unique in less than 125 characters. “Remember,” it claimed, “Say something that makes you stand out!”

So I wrote a limerick.

Sure, it was a throw-back to 2nd grade, but I betcha anything it made me stand out!

I haven’t heard back from them yet (surprising, I know), but this following application requirement has been my favorite one so far. Here were the directions:

Write a first person account of a turtle’s greatest accomplishment from the perspective of a turtle.

and so thus my turtle story.

I never got around much. People never thought much about me and it seemed like all the other animals got chosen to be the best pets, all soft and cuddly. I couldn’t understand what I could really do in life to contribute. I’m slow and have a super hard shell, that’s all anyone has ever labeled me, what I have only ever labeled myself. Accomplishment wasn’t in my path.

And then one day I took a walk near the road. I never venture out that way much, but for whatever reason today felt different. And I’m glad I did because when I reached the street I was about to turn around when I saw this chicken. He was dejected, slumped on the ground. I hesitated, then asked what was wrong? Ironically, he had my story. Rejected, unable to see his path, no purpose in life, ~psh~ probably couldn’t even cross that road. He’d always been too afraid, would most likely fail anyway.

As I slouched there next to him not sure what to say, suddenly the light came on. In that moment I saw me, and I also saw what I could do. I can’t do much, but I can move slowly, and I can pioneer paths for someone else to follow.

So I did what an insecure, fearful turtle has never done: I crossed the road. 

It wasn’t much, but it was a first step. For both me and then the chicken. You just do what you haven’t done before to prove you can and you are worth it. 

And he followed. He really did!

So, everyone, why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side. To take the next step. To face his fears. To create the first success of many more.

And that was my greatest accomplishment.

The End Beginning.

I don’t think I realized it at the moment, but what I wrote was just a story of myself. In high school I remember a year of deep depression I went through. And the only moment of light for me was when I suddenly looked up and saw 2 other students, younger than me, who were facing the same emotional battles I was.

I couldn’t really even help myself, but I could walk in front of them and give them hope that they can move forward. And they did. And you can’t trade that experience for the world.

I think this is for so many people. We get so overwhelmed by what we’re “supposed” to be doing and accomplishing when in reality the greatest accomplishment is right in front of us and it’s one person. You lead one person. Then it becomes two. And then it becomes four. And then one day, years down the road, you have people coming to you saying, “Can I follow you?”

And you’re like, “Um, I’m just a turtle.”

But sure, I can pioneer for you, help you have some vision, but it was you who crossed the road, it was you who actually made the decision to be brave.

I think I’d prefer to be the person who helped the chicken become famous.

I'm with you Crush.

I’m with you Crush.

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.




Love the one in front of you

How do you change the world?

Heidi Baker said it well:

Love the one in front of you.

Change does not happen through programs and speeches and books and status’s and tweets and music and community groups and fundraisers and blog posts.

One day we have to realize that the only person responsible for making change happen in our community and city and country and world is ourselves.

I cannot control my circumstances or the people who appear in my day. But I do have everything to say about my choices in response to each and every person in front of me every day.

I used to search out change, dream about changing the world, create plans of action to really impact the world.

And then about a year ago a subtle change happened and I really didn’t realize it until others called it out. I think it’s because I was just living who I was in my natural environment but my perspective on people had shifted somehow.

Just over a year ago my vision for Greenville unexpectedly became This is my city“, and when you own something you naturally act differently towards it.

Suddenly the homeless person walking by my company to buy alcohol and drugs across the street to feed his addiction was my problem. When Michael’s trailer became condemned and he had nowhere to live that was my problem. When a friend came to my house after being abused for months that was my problem. When a couple driving through Greenville needed their laundry done that was my problem. When a new friend quit a strip club job because of her choice to follow Jesus and had no place to live that was my problem.

It was pretty difficult. And often awkward. I mean, seriously. Whenever someone admits need and you give them something, it’s pretty awkward. It would’ve been so much easier to complain. “I can’t believe there was an open drug deal outside our office. We work in such a bad neighborhood.” “Why doesn’t Salvation Army take care of Michael? That’s what they’re there for.” “Man, people always have an agenda when they ask for something. They’re such manipulators.” “Wow, some men are just abusive pigs and some poor girls just fall for it. Let’s pray about it.”

I would say the past year I’ve been stretched financially more than I ever could have imagined. My heart was split open over life stories. I had several emotional breakdowns. I had to deal with using my last dollar to provide for someone and then watch them use money they were given to buy dress shoes and eat out. I had to learn to be rejected, and then to forgive, and then to keep giving when my ability and desire was completely wasted away. I had to deal with other people (Christians) upset about my generosity because it interfered with their lives. I often felt alone and unable to know how to make decisions.

So, yes, from that perspective it was hard. Loving was challenging. Giving was an obstacle.

And yet…

I wouldn’t change it for the world.

Look, you could offer to totally pay off my school debt (which is a lot) in return for the past year and I would laugh and say to you…

I told you the struggle, but now let me tell you the joy.

The joy of inviting that laundry couple over for dinner and hearing them tell me how they met Jesus radically a few days earlier, having the husband drill me about why I live the way I live, and then laughing at their ridiculous story of “rafting” down a river in Louisiana on an air mattress. The joy of driving Michael to church a year after we met him, watching him get baptized while I am wrecked into tears about his crazy story and our experiences. The joy of standing next to my friend during worship as she raises her hands in tears in praise to God for freeing her soul and I have to stop singing because I realize that only a month ago she had been in a strip club, broke, lonely, and had no hope to cling to. The joy of realizing that all the promises of Isaiah 58 are mine to claim and then watch them unfold in my life.

I didn’t search for these joys. I didn’t wake up one day and decide to find someone and impact their life. I think I realized who I was, which is a chosen child of God, which means the Spirit lives in me, so I naturally think and act like Jesus, so when a person in need is in front of me, I simply act like Jesus did.

Sometimes that was surprising. Sometimes it was celebrated. Sometimes it was impressive. Sometimes it seemed like I became a celebrity.

Can I just say that when we know who we are that acts of love and kindness and generosity and healing are completely normal? Why is it not normal that we have the homeless living with us? That we feed the hungry out of our paycheck? That we personally give our good clothing to those in need?

Isaiah 58 became my rallying cry and my source of promise when things got in deep and dark. And FYI, it’s for all of us. And it’s not figurative. It’s literal.

We are all world changers. The question is will we live up to our potential? And I believe that potential is very simple: Love the one in front of you.

One. just one.

And it’s funny. After you love one, suddenly it becomes two. And then three. And pretty soon people start thinking you’re this courageous, impressive person and you’re like, “Um, I’m just living. like a normal person. that knows Jesus. Hey, you can too! We’re really not that different.”

Stop the meetings. Stop the bullet points. Stop the noise. And let’s live our normal day with Kingdom eyes and watch some pretty freakn’ amazing things start happening.

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.


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 (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.

I get it. I finally get it.

I get it. November 18, 2011

That was the title to the blog post I wrote exactly 1 year ago. God had just given me a really clear revelation about purpose, specifically about my purpose here in Greenville.

However, the blog post mysteriously never got posted.

wh-what happened?! Did I have a ditz moment and simply forget to press the Publish button?

eh, no. No, actually I had a lot of fear. I was afraid that God really was doing what I thought He was doing, that he had answered my prayers and revealed my direction.

I wasn’t ready to commit to Greenville. My heart was not prepared to truly say, “This is my city and these are my people.” I thought the Kingdom was really happening somewhere else, and to publish this post would’ve held me accountable to other people. as if God didn’t already know. I was arrogant, prideful, and fearful. So typical. It’s as if I look for God, ask God for God, yet when he shows up, I take what I want and brush the rest aside. Um, why does he want me again? He’s pretty good and gracious. that’s why.

It wasn’t until August 25 this year that I heard God speak to me again about Greenville, my city. But that’s a story for another time.

So this was one of those I get it!” moments that in all reality took a lot longer to “get” than it should have. but whatever.


Illumination happened today. It was a time where in a single moment the oddly shaped erratic puzzle pieces of one’s life come together in this beautiful, sensible design.

The 5 months between graduation and moving to Greenville to start a new job were probably the most seemingly unstable days of my life, bar nun: 14 homes, 9 churches, 4 countries, 6 cultures, 15 beds, 7 ministry offers, thousands of dollars. In the end, I was still broke, jobless, homeless, and directionless, without a clue of where in the world I was supposed to be. That, unfortunately, was not part of the plan.

I couldn’t muster up in my mind what would practically be my next steps in life. Nothing, and I mean nothing, was happening. Even in my desires. And it was frustrating because I know I am to live my life on purpose. Vita by Design, right? I honestly felt at one point that the fact that I had a blog with this title was a joke. Nothing seemed purposeful. I didn’t know what to do, so…do I just not move?

Well, I did a whole bunch of not moving for what seemed like an unbearable amount of time.

One September Monday evening, while in Fort Wayne Indiana, out of nowhere a thought jumped into my mind: I need to go back to Greenville.

Interesting. So this new thought spurred me to email Dan, my friend and former shepherding group leader, if he knew of anyone in town that may be hiring since I was thinking about moving back to Greenville, though I really didn’t know why. It was just an inclination (hint hint…HOLY SPIRIT!).

The next day, Tuesday, Dan “happened” to be meeting with the owner of the only company that I had interviewed with in downtown Greenville back before graduation. So Wednesday morning Dan called me to tell me that the owner said that he needed to hire someone soon—come to find out, very soon. I called the owner that hour and talked the situation over. By 4:00 I had accepted the job and was due to start work on Monday morning. 5 days later.

I probably don’t need to express this, but I was obviously rejoicing over this ridiculously quick job provision. How amazing, right? Isn’t that a cool story?

God had bigger plans.

God does not move people to jobs. He moves them to strategic Kingdom opportunites. Jobs are just so this-world.

Though it’s a company with a fantastic reputation in the Upstate, the location is probably one of the worst in Greenville. It is sketchy with an extra healthy dose of sketch.

The first day of work my boss took me to lunch and mentioned as we drove out of the parking lot, “Don’t walk around over here. This is a crack corner.” And where there’s drugs, there’s violence. Not gonna lie—I was often frightened. My elder at church, who is a cop, had many stories to share about that corner. Chases, busts—one time he caught this guy from America’s Most Wanted on our corner.

This week 2 guys were standing right outside our front steps doing a drug deal.  In broad daylight. Twice in the past month there were huge fires right across the street behind our building that were started by the homeless. I heard gun shots one morning recently.

I wouldn’t normally tell people all this. But I just wanted to let you know that I had a pretty scary view of the area and tried to be as risk-free as possible.

Yet every day I drove by these people I saw their broken lives and remembered the women I lived with this summer in Betel. That was the potential for these lives too. Yet who am I?

I’ve been reading and dissecting the Beautitudes and just read “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.” I had to really talk with God about this because I desire to show mercy to these people, which involves building relationships. Yet at the same time I understand the implications, and for a single girl to make any relational advances in a predominantly male culture is obviously scary. I needed help and direction.

The very next day on the way to work the main road was blocked so I had to take my own detour to get to work. Divine intervention? I drove through side streets near my work and saw what I’d never seen before in this town. This exists in Greenville? Broken homes, broken lives. Wow. But, where did I fit in with this?

I went to a party last night and afterwards there was tons of extra food. I saw the huge plate of croissant sandwiches and the thought came that maybe I could take them to the homeless nearby. I texted a friend that does outreach on this side of town to see if she would take me during our lunch hour.

She came by the office the next day and we got in my car. We turned left out of the parking lot and had barely passed our building when she said to turn left down a gravel road. Wait, this close? It’s basically right behind our building.
We parked and walked underneath the bridge. There was a fire pit where three people were standing around stoking the fire. Two people drove in behind us on a moped. To the left there were several tents all along the ground, and at the top the embankment was a row of tents with slits in the sides to come in and out. A single picnic table was in front of us, which is where we set the food. We talked with the few people there.

I knew.

I knew in that moment why I was brought to this job and back to Greenville. Since last January God had been tearing my heart up over the ones that his heart breaks over. For the broken people. He led me to Betel. An amazing, unique experience. I knew my life was forever changed, yet I had no idea how it would practically play out in my life. I felt this urgency that I would have to come up with something—he gave me the desire, shouldn’t I move forward with it?

He did it. All without my help, my ideas, my suggestions. Within walking distance of where I spend 1/3 of every 24 hour day, I have strategic connection with the broken outcasts of society. Today’s mission. I had prayed for ability to show mercy ministry— and He answered.

Before I asked, before I even knew to ask, he was preparing me.

Want to fall captive to a regime? Stop believing in resistance

I’ve been thinking about culture. Specifically about the societal cultures I’ve lived in. It’s amazing how people can be so “awed” by various cultures you’ve experienced.

Example. I work in a really sketchy part of town. There’s the homeless, drug addicts, pushers, prostitutes, thieves, alcoholics, criminals. I see them every day. I know a good number of them by name.

In my free time I have been able to meet them, talk with them, go to their “homes,” open up with them. Some may refer to it as “outreach” or “your ministry.” The way I see it, it just happens to be the street God sent me to work a full-time job, and where he sends his people he sends the Kingdom, so that’s my responsibility. So don’t feel bad if you don’t know this unique culture. You have your own street, your own job, your own neighbors.

Often people say to me, “Wow, you are really courageous.”

Yeah sorry, but not really true. I know– it seems that I should always be on guard and somewhat frightened, while also aware and careful, constantly speaking bold words to my heart.

But honestly once I’ve spent enough time in one culture, I gradually start losing all sense of resistance and awareness. I stop noticing things as much. After time it becomes normal. “There goes another prostitute.” “Another drug deal going down.” “Another robbery.” “Another passed out drunk.”

Then I stop thinking. I stop resisting. I start accepting

And once I’ve lost resistance, I’ve lost my independence, both of mind and action. Anyone can make me whatever they want. Because resisting is hard and causes friction and emotion. It’s much easier to accept and move on.

Recently I was listening to Josh Garrels as I was running and his song The Resistance started playing. The words immediately shocked me and at the end of the first verse I almost had to stop running. I think my jaw dropped.

I realized quickly that so much of my life has been giving up resistance over and over and over until I have become something of a robot, void of questions and explanations. Think on this:

See the secret committees, commence with their meetings 
To make red tape in response to simple questions.
Questions threaten the perception of the beneficial systems 
A pyramid scheme with it’s cogs and it’s pistons
Mechanization of men, making more and more 
Live in a miserable existence.
How can so few, claim so many victims 
And this begs the question 
My rest is a weapon against the oppression 
Of mans obsession to control things.
Look at the long line of make believe kings 
The lord of the flies wants you to kiss his ring.
Follow new rules with invisible strings 
And become a puppet in the diabolical scheme. 
How do good men become part of the regime 
They don’t believe in resistance.

I hate conflict. My whole life I’ve tried to peace-make circumstances and people around me. If I was recognized for something, it had better not be because I resisted a system or expectations. Seemed logical enough. So I started accepting and hardly questioning because resistance drew way too much attention to myself.

After some time in my culture the past year, both at work and the surrounding neighborhood, I found myself being okay with evil. It just didn’t bother me as much any more. It became normal. Everyone was doing it or simply accepting others doing it. But you know what happens once you stop resisting evil? You close off capabilities to recognize and love truth. And that’s a scary place to be. I did become aware and scared and was forced to ask questions.

And that’s when I found that to evade resistance would grant me a first class ticket on the “I’m Wasting My Life” flight.

It’s hard. Resistance is one of the scariest practices, yet the alternative is worlds more frightening.

You know what could eventually happen when people stop resisting? Look at history: Brain-washed disciples. Tyranny. Scandal. Evil. Nazi regimes. Genocide.

But you want to know what else is making me hot right now about resistance (interpret as Angela sees this in herself first and makes her sick)? We know full well about the causes that needs resisting and change. We get so upset about our government, the path of society, our economics, our degrading culture…and what do we do?

We post status’s.

We share opinionated memes.

We borrow other people’s thoughts.

We virtually “like” ideas without committing to doing them.

If you call yourself a Christian and your city is hurting and falling apart, you’d better stamp your name on the face of the problem because Jesus sent his Kingdom to your streets, city, and country through your hands, feet and mind. And the last time I checked his Kingdom is peace, and healing, and success, and freedom, and growth, and joy, and prosperity. So if that’s not happening in your city, own up to it and get to work. Cause it’s your responsibility.

Start resisting.

It’s going to be difficult. Resisting always is. But we can’t allow people to have a longing for the kingdom without inviting them in and living it’s reality.

Word of caution: Be very careful in your practice of resistance. Is your banner defined by hating evil or loving truth? When you start thinking and questioning you’re going to see a lot of messed up stuff. A lot of hypocrisy. A lot of evil. So will you channel your resistance into aggressive exploitation or will you intentionally proclaim truth and love and grace? If your resistance causes vengeful disunity and damaged reputations as a result of your actions, no matter how much those people and organizations “deserve” it, you might need to rethink your approach.

Yes, you may say that Jesus clearly spoke woes against the Pharisees and exposed their evil hypocrisy that they were using for their own means in the name of religion. But you know what he did afterwards? Matthew 12. He went right back into their place of worship, where they hung out and spent their time practicing their religious hypocrisy, and he healed someone. Jesus’ resistance resulted in healing and freedom. Every act of resistance was with Kingdom advancement as it’s core drive.

And that’s a great example to follow.

Work and prosperity

“Daughter, by you working hard and excelling in the talents I’ve given you, that is how I will provide for you and cause you to prosper — and not just for you, but your church, your relationships, your city, my people, my kingdom. Pray hard to this end. Even if you don’t ‘get it’ right now, or out of fear wait, I will still provide. I am rich, I am love, I am your Father. Yet I want to use you and perhaps in order to spur you to do this I need to shake up your life so that you don’t feel secure anymore. Because if you felt secure, you would never do anything. Comfort is a dream killer. When I want you to move, to do something, to prosper, I will make you very uncomfortable. And the end purpose of all this is my glory in your joy. If there’s no joy, it’s probably not for my glory.” – God

This also is what the Lord Almighty says:  

“Build houses and settle down; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Marry and have sons and daughters; find wives for your sons and give your daughters in marriage, so that they too may have sons and daughters. Increase in number there; do not decrease. Also, seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

Stop telling the truth

I can’t think of any roundabout way of saying this.

I’m a very direct person.

Tried to deceptively slip that by you, didn’t I?

I don’t know when or where this came about. When I was a kid my dad would refer to me as “spit fire.” And I don’t think he was referring to one of my spiritual gifts. I’ve always been pretty strong-willed, yet this directness and woeful transparency hasn’t been really noticeable to me until recently.

Maybe it’s because people weren’t transparent with me in the past and I had to learn things the hard way. Don’t you sometimes wish someone would just give you one big gun shot of the truth so that you would have to be shredded by a hundred mini-bullets later down the road?

But recently I’ve been rethinking things. Sometimes I just need to stop telling the truth. Hold off on all the upfront direct statements.

You know what direct statements can possibly do? Cause blind followers. Surface listeners. Head nodders.

When were the moments of your deepest thoughts and times of real discovery and illumination? Probably during the questions. When the reasons why you believed you existed and everything you said you believed in were stoutly challenged. And the questions came.

During those moments you can’t borrow someone else’s experiences. You must work through your own beliefs and purpose. Some things simply can’t be borrowed.

I mean, I totally get this to an extent. Don’t you hate it when someone makes a direct statement about your life and heart and they really have no idea what you’ve been through? You’re thinking, “You don’t even know me.”

But boy am I full of truth statements. Hey, nice problem– now let me solve that for you. Prepare yourself…. Truth Bomb!! And I feel justified in speaking the truth this way because, it’s just that: truth. Ok so sure, it’s been real truth for me and real lessons I have learned. But, hello, I’m not them. Maybe this is about approach. Maybe it has something to do with love and placing someone’s perceptions before mine.

I’ve been thinking recently about this man who seemed to have had some real impact in people’s lives (his name is Jesus). What did he do? He told stories. He asked questions. Ok, so tell me, why did Jesus, ie God, ask questions?? He knows everything. everything.

Maybe he actually cared about people and wanted their hearts and not just their heads. Maybe he used indirect means to get to direct truth.

Am I encouraging people to be blind followers and head believers by spouting off truth statements at every red flag that comes up? It’s easy to do, cause most people don’t want to point-blank argue with truth. But did it really answer any core questions, or better yet, did it even cause core questions to arise?

Do we just borrow someone else’s truth or do we own it personally? Does it terrify you to think for yourself? to stop turning to books, articles, status’s, friends, blogs, music? When was the last time you were real with yourself, with your circumstances?

Why did God answer that prayer and provide $5 for laundry but didn’t come through when the school bill was due? Why was it that you worked so hard to make the basketball team and the final cut only to sit on the bench the entire season? Why did you finally get pregnant after praying for years and years, only to be in a car accident when you were 8 months pregnant and have your baby girl stillborn? Why did you give yourself in self-sacrificing love to a coworker that seems to finally be accepting you, only to have him stab you in the back and ruin your reputation? Why did you so confidently pursue in real passion your career dream only to have it shatter to pieces in your hands? Why did God cure your 17 year old brother of cancer only to find out that it’s aggressively returned and is inoperable and that they are simply doing chemo to ease the pain before he dies? Why did you so clearly follow God to that church for the purpose of serving in leadership only to have the people maliciously rip your family apart and scar your heart for years? Why did you so assuredly marry that man who was leading you in godliness, joyfulness and purity only to have him divorce you for another woman, leaving you with 3 small children to care for?

Why do I even exist? Does God even exist? Do I really have purpose in this life? Does anybody care? Is it really worth it?

Everyone is talking, but is anyone thinking?

Are you going to settle for darkness or will you pursue the truth? Will you keep borrowing truth, or will you search out your questions yourself? Is it too painful? Are you frightened of what you might find? Will you search for truth in yourself, or will you go to a real source?

Are you taking my word for it, or have you even questioned this?

Look at what I’ve accomplished! I’m worth it!

and then this straight-up slapped me in the face.

I read this specific section about 1-2 weeks ago as I’ve been progressing through Jesus + Nothing = Everything. The book in itself has been rocking my system of thinking and God has used it recently as one of the many means to show me my legalistic thought patterns.

Identity has been a huge struggle for me, specifically during the past 1 1/2 years. Who am I. What is worth. Where is my purpose. What must I do. How much is enough. Where is freedom. Is there hope.

Who will deliver us.

Paul Zahl authors his book with those exact words and Tullian uses this section in his book to knife deep into hearts obsessed with performance:

If I can do enough of the right things, I will have established my worth.

Identity is the sum of my achievements. Hence, if I can satisfy the boss, meet the needs of my spouse and children, and still do justice to my inner aspirations, then I will have proven my worth. There are infinite ways to prove our worth along these lines.

The basic equation is this: I am what I do. It is a religious position in life because it tries to answer in practical terms the questions, Who am I and what is my niche in the universe? On this reading, my niche is in proportion to my deeds. In Christian theology, such a position is called justification by works. It assumes that my worth is measured by my performance. Conversely, it conceals, thinly, a dark and ghastly fear: If I do not perform, I will be judged unworthy. To myself I will cease to exist.”

Do you see any freedom in that kind of thinking? Nope. nada. zilch.

Honestly, I am still wrapping my mind around this. I haven’t arrived. But I don’t really think that’s the point. We read that and think, “Ok, so I guess I need to work on my identity and find it in Christ alone.”

That’s. Impossible. There is no hope in that thinking and the whole phrase is a ridiculous oxymoron.

But, really, what am I to do? Who will deliver me if I can’t “make” my identity to be only in Christ? God, if you don’t step in and intervene, then I am lost. I cannot be free from performance unless I with broken hands cling to the performance of Another. Teach me what this mindset practically looks like because I cannot go in to work tomorrow with the perspective that I have been believing for so long now.

Somehow, someway, I want my life to stand up and shout, “Look at what Jesus has accomplished! He’s worth it!”