Embrace

What He Says of 2019

As what happens at the close of every year, we begin to look back on the 365 days we lived and we reflect on what that year held.

We think about the highs, the lows, the mountains, and the valleys. And in more recent years, our social media accounts, which begin to reflect those things as well. Our Facebook accounts pull up memories from three years prior. Our Instagram show us our “top nine” photos of the year. Spotify tells us our most streamed genres, artists, and songs.

I personally enjoy seeing these year-end round-ups; my Instagram top nine included photos of my 21st birthday, my transformation photo after losing thirty pounds, and photos when my best friend from Boston came to visit me after the tragic loss of twelve lives in our hometown. It truly showed some wonderful mountains and some really low and dark valleys, but in the end, it reminded me of some wonderful milestones that 2018 held for me and made me excited for what is to come in 2019.

My Spotify account reflected a similar round-up: a mix of songs that got me through some serious waves of grief, a tough break up, and a multitude of other events of 2018.

You Say

I was not surprised to see my top song of 2018 was “You Say” by Lauren Daigle.

If you haven’t heard this song, drop everything right now and listen to it. I discovered this song in August when I began my senior year of college, a year that I truly did not think I would make it to, after the hardships that 2017 and 2018 brought to me and my family. As I went through the first semester of my senior year, I was constantly bombarded with questions, doubts, and anxieties about things in daily life, things from the past, and the unknown of the future.

Love Covers…

I have a love/hate relationship with the holidays.

I am certain that I am not alone in this. There may or may not be breaks from work, travel, lots of food, time with family. And there is where the rub occurs for many of us.

Family.

I love my family, except in those moments when I don’t. We all have these moments. Someone says or does something that raises your ire. Maybe harsh words follow. Feelings are hurt. Then comes the awkward dance trying not to make things worse as some tiptoe around the eggshells. I am fairly certain that all of us have experienced some version of this.

I am perfectly willing to take some of the blame within my own family. I can be pretty opinionated and not always sensitive to the feelings of others. And why can’t my family see things the way that I see them? It is such a selfish position. Why doesn’t everyone else feel the way I do, why don’t they see things the way I do, why don’t they believe the same things, and more. In those moments I add to the struggles, because all I am focused on is myself and what I want or care about.

The Bible is pretty clear that relational strife has been around for a very long time. It is actually part of the curse for Adam and Eve after eating the forbidden fruit. In fact, the first books of the Bible, which tell the history of the people of Israel, are filled with stories of dysfunction. Lying, cheating, adultery, abuse, murder and more–and that’s just in one family over multiple generations. The really crazy part is this is all part of the family heritage for Jesus.

That is where things get even more complicated. As followers of Jesus we are now called part of the family of God.

What?

Why Do We Sing on Sundays?

Like with most things that break me, I never saw it coming.

This time, the words came in the form of a letter. A smattering of broken sentences and life had come undone. My heart shattered, falling like sand through my fingers. Even if I were to gather the remaining pieces, mend them together through tears and time, I would never be the same.

Photo credit (c) Juno Nygren

My life is yours
My hope is in you only

In these moments, when my heart is breaking, sometimes I find it hard to sing. And to my surprise, it is these very slivers of time of heartbreak when it is vitally important to keep singing.

Why do we sing as part of our worship?

The Cost of Silence in the Face of Love

A friend of mine was at a gas station when a young man came inside, loud and agitated. The cashier instantly told the man to settle down or get out, but when confronted, the young man (who happened to be Black) said that he was upset because when he was outside a tow truck driver started calling him racial slurs. The cashier apologized while my friend went out to stick up for the guy, including taking the tow truck driver’s picture so she could report him. The tow truck driver started arguing with HER, swearing and calling her racial slurs!

My friend didn’t back down. She called the tow truck company.hen they heard what had happened, they were pretty upset. Hopefully, the racist tow truck driver has long since been fired.

When my friend told me this story, naturally my first thought was: “she is awesome!” But my second thought was:

“Wait, was this in Tacoma?”

Oh yes, it was. And not 1956, Tacoma, last month Tacoma.

Maybe some of you reading this are not surprised.
Maybe some of you reading this are a little surprised, but not too concerned because you know you are not racist.

Grieving in Grace

There is one thing at Discovery that everyone I have crossed paths knows about me: I am in love with my hometown. My hometown being a small surfing, ranching, and rodeo community (yes, we do have an annual event every summer called “Surf Rodeo”) by the name of Ventura, California.

I left Ventura in the summer of 2015 to attend college up here in Tacoma. I was ready to be out of Ventura after living there for almost twelve of my eighteen years. I thought I was going to leave forever when I got on a plane to SEATAC that August day.

But Ventura called me back sooner, rather than later. I fell more in love with my hometown the longer I stayed away. I didn’t realize how unique, special, and wonderful Ventura is until I left. I took every opportunity I could those first few years to go home and be in my beloved community.

One of my favorite places in my hometown (as it is for most residents of Ventura) is Grant Park. Grant Park sits on the second highest hill in Ventura and has a gorgeous view of the entire city of Ventura, beach and countryside both. The Cross sits in Grant Park, which represents The Cross placed in Ventura by Father Serra when he founded Mission San Buenaventura. The Cross is a holy place in Ventura. I have seen weddings, funerals, graduation photos, and family reunions all take place there. I have driven to The Cross when I feel the need to cry, have a moment to myself, or to take in the view as I eat my Corrales burrito.

The Cross tells us that we are home when we see it. It’s truly a sanctuary to so many people.

As Pride Month Wraps Up….

I literally fielded this conversation just the other day (and others like it many times before): “I know I need Jesus. I want to be connected to God. But I’m pretty liberal, so… well, obviously you see the problem.” Clearly the man didn’t know me well – and he didn’t know the Bible at all. […]

Yep. Done it.

Here’s the ugly truth: Every time I hear of someone’s disappointment with “the church,” I find myself thinking…  “Ugh, that’s me.” Talked behind someone’s back? I’ve done it. Betrayed someone’s trust? I’ve done it. Helped someone out and made them feel like a “project?” I’ve done it. Acted fake? Lied? Shown favoritism? Been self-righteous? Definitely. […]

I meant to invite him to dinner. I really did…

I meant to invite him to dinner. I really did. My gentle, old neighbor with the ruined long-term memory, who always smiled enthusiastically but never remembered my name. I meant to invite him to Christmas Eve service. I really did. And I knew that if I extended the invitation, he would come. Truth, though? In […]

Redeeming Family

We’re entering the time of year when most minds turn to family. For many, the holidays bring positive memories and joy from spending time with loved ones. But that is not the case for everyone. Some come from broken homes. Others have lost loved ones, maybe even during the holidays, and instead of joy they feel renewed loss and hurt. The challenge for us as the church of Christ how do we handle these reactions of hurt, or even deep seated scars, for those we now call family?

I recently asked the members of my small group what three words come to mind when they hear the word “father.”  As expected, the responses varied. We do not all have the same feelings or experiences when it comes to our fathers. The reality of our day and age is that, more than likely, at least half of us will not have positive view toward our own father. And it’s not just because of divorce. I live in a neighborhood where the last statistics show that more than 60 percent of the homes are single parent households. Now clearly this becomes an issue for not just how we view our fathers but our mothers as well. But for the church, we use the word “father” a lot.