I am that prostitute…

This year I’ll be guest blogging with Modern Ruth Project.  Go check out this post on their site!

alley

I have nothing in common with a prostitute.

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’ve had this thought many times in your life.  Or maybe you’ve never even thought about it all.  Which is ok because It’s likely not a common comparison.  But I can tell you with absolute certainty that you, yes you, have many things in common with the ladies of the night.

And I just couldn’t believe that I was so wrong about this.  Because I tend to be right about many things in life.  Which is also a lie.

But let me tell you a story of how I came face to face with my inaccurate thought processes:

There I was.  With all my holy haughtiness.  Sitting in the back of a van with a few other ladies and one gentleman.  Riding around an area in Atlanta known for its high rate of trafficking and prostitution.  I was excited, scared, anxious, and relaxed all at the same time.

I was sure that I was going to venture out into the darkness to bring the light.  That I would touch the souls of men and women who felt trapped in lives where their bodies encompassed their worth.

And that’s exactly what was going through my mind as we approached the first lady to give her a rose and extend a hand out of that way of life.  But as soon as I stepped out of the van to dramatically save her soul, I was smacked by a sudden realization.

Yes, Jesus slaps people.  Right in the face.  And it’s not a gentle nudge.  It involves all five fingers and has the weight of the Holy Spirit behind it.  And also behind that slap was an epiphany that this girl, these women, were all me.

I am broken.  I am a mother trying to make ends meet to raise my daughter in the best way I know how.  I feel overwhelmed by circumstances.  I struggle with keeping my worth in line with my God-given value.  I believe the lie that one decision won’t change my destiny.  I have allowed tiny decisions to add up until the damage was evident to myself and others.  And that damage led me to surrender in the arms of my Creator.

But one more decision could have brought me to those same corners where I came offering roses and hope.  One more decision could have landed me on dark stages stripping off pieces of myself to gain hurt in return.  One more decision could have seen me depending on the cheap approval of men to feel loved.

But that’s the funny thing about doing things for the Kingdom.  You walk in all high and mighty ready to change lives, only to realize that you were the one who needed changing.

And trust me, you’d much rather learn humility through service and putting on the suffering of others than have God knock you down to size.  I mean, have you read the Bible?  He’s been known to rain fire, instant death, and turn folks into a pillar of salt.  No thanks.  I don’t want to be the seasoning on anyone’s meal.

So next time you step out to share life, remember to see yourself in every single person that crosses your path and leave your piety at home. Vulnerability is more powerful than holiness.  And service is much more effective when others can see where you’ve been compared to where you are.  That is dealing hope that their lives can be better, can be different, rather than sending them the message that they could never be you.

PS – If after reading this, you are still of the mind that you couldn’t possibly be that person you’re serving, just remember three things.  One, Jesus slaps people.  Two, God can rain fire. FIRE.  And three, you are not that important (Galatians 6:3).

Forgiveness Resolutions

Here’s a little tidbit about me.  I’m not one of those people who typically makes new year’s resolutions.  I’m like Ebenezer Scrooge or the Grinch, but for December 31st instead of Christmas.  I’ve always been of the mind that resolutions make for temporary fixes to mask much deeper and more complicated problems.

But despite my feelings of antipathy towards committing to a lack of commitment for the new year, I realized that there truly was something to the old adage ‘new year, new me.’  And somehow that new me will include forgiveness.

So, yes I want to tone up and get at least a 2 pack this year.  But it has also been brought to my attention that in order for any other resolutions to fall into place, I have to make forgiveness a priority.  Bah humbug.

Now before you get all religious on me and stop reading because you feel you have no one to forgive, you’re probably wrong.  We all have that one person (or five) that you would rather walk over hot coals than honor any portion of their being.  We all harbor a little unforgiveness in us somewhere.  And here’s why: most humans will not engage in activities that don’t benefit our lives in some way.

Volunteering make us feel warm and tingly, worship make us feel connected, bungee jumping gives us a rush of adrenaline.  Forgiveness does not do that.  At least not at first.  But it is still necessary.

So in the spirit of the New Year Scrooge-ness, I’m going to list 5 reasons why forgiveness is annoying, but I am still resolving to make this a new habit in 2017….

Read more of this blog post on Modern Ruth Project!

An Ode to the Lazy Daters

This post first appeared on Modern Ruth Project…go check it out!

The lazy person claims, ‘There’s a lion out there!  If I go outside, I might be killed!’ – Proverbs 22:13

Ok.  So I know that I’m supposed to be talking to all the single ladies.  All the Ruth’s out there waiting on their Boaz.  But for some reason I feel led to address the men first.  The guys.  The brothers.

Because if you were to Google the term “Christian dating,” “being single while christian,” or just plain old “dating,” 99% of the returned results would be geared towards women.  As if we’re dating or getting married to some invisible, non-existent species.  Or worse yet, that men are in no need of dating advice.  Which would be false.

But here’s what really grinds my gears.  I know so many incredible women who are being taught and inspired to wait.  To wait on God.  To wait on men to pursue.  But for some odd reason men are not being taught to actually do the pursuing.  Or even just the approaching of humans of the opposite sex.

Many times when you go to singles events at church, it looks more like a desert safari than a room full of grown people itching for a date.  Men on one side staying as far away from the imaginary entrance into the lion’s den of female hunters on the other side.

And that analogy may seem a bit far fetched, but you get what I’m saying.  Many men are fearful.  They’re afraid of rejection.  Afraid they might get ‘hurt again.’  Afraid they’ll look like a fool or less of a man if they put their pride on the line to pursue a woman intentionally.

Well you know what?  You might get rejected.  You might get ‘hurt again.’  And you will have to lay your ego down in order to let God take the forefront in your relationships – over and over again.  But don’t let the laziness or fear keep you from the great things God has for you because you’re afraid.

Because in the arena of dating, when you step outside of your comfort zone and take chances to get to know women God has placed in your life, it may not exactly be a confidence builder.

She might cut you with her words.  She might shoot you down with a nasty glance and a mean side eye.  She may not answer that text in a timely fashion.  But it is still your responsibility to take the risk of being rejected, cut, shot down, and sometimes even wait on her as long as you’re walking in obedience.

Now to my ladies.  To my Ruth’s still waiting on their Boaz.  Do not take that man’s fear as your opportunity to pounce.

A man who is too afraid to ask you out or take that chance in just saying hello doesn’t need to be coaxed out of his man cave of trepidation.  That’s where the ambiguous ‘friendgirls’ and ‘textlationships’ live.  And we all know how those stories end…Or how they go on forever and ever with no end in sight.

God did not call you to become less of yourself so as not to threaten the timid.  You were called to be dangerous for the Kingdom.  And the man who is not scared to take on the challenge and privilege of loving you will be drawn to, not fearful of your purpose.

So whether you’re trusting in the wait or following God’s lead in the pursuit, you can know for certain that there is no such thing as immunity from challenges or human rejection.

Faith is the epitome of freedom but it is not safe. There are lions out there, and you will learn a few lessons in humility.  But staying in the confines of fear is not an option when you walk with an almighty God.

Stay bold my friends…

Roz

You are what you fear.

I was sitting at home, casually perusing through Facebook when I noticed a pattern on my feed.  All of my friends were posting photos of their date nights, snaps with their husbands for a night on the town, and those strange mirror selfies while getting dressed up for dinner.

My first thought was “Seriously?  Why are all of these people going out on a weeknight? Ugh!  Don’t they have to work tomorrow?  It’s after 9:00 for goodness sake!”

Me second thought after realizing it was Friday, and therefore perfectly acceptable to do such things past 9:00pm was “Wow. You’re getting old.  You should get out more.”  This thought was quickly forgotten as it was almost my bedtime.

My third thought?  Fear.  Absolute fear.  About what, you ask?  I’ll let you take a guess.  Better yet, maybe you can just answer yourself.  When it comes to your singleness, what’s the biggest fear that you have?  The biggest fear that most of us have?

That we’ll die alone, never having known the pursuit of a godly man.  Or even just a sane man with good credit, a solid career, and all of his teeth.

Continue reading this post on Modern Ruth Project…

Doubting God

5-ways-to-stop-self-doubt-in-its-tracksI have to admit that I am scared.  The new school year is quickly approaching (Monkey’s first day is August 23d!) and I feel like I am ill prepared to take this on.  I’m scared of failing to educate her the way she deserves.  I’m scared of failing financially in my business and then having to take a more full-time position and therefore quit homeschooling.  

And here’s a kicker….I’m scared of succeeding and not being able to handle it well.  With humility, grace, and gratitude.  Even though that may seem like a silly notion, I’m sure you all can relate.  You know the situations where you’ve been praying fervently for something, waiting  patiently and with expectation.  Then it finally arrives and you either feel like it’s too good to be true, so you ignore or deny God’s hand in the circumstances.  Or you start feeling yourself a little too much, forget to give God the glory.  Or somehow forget to keep seeking God in your success and things eventually fall apart.

Either way, I have to shake off this fear.  I have to walk in confidence that His promises are not empty.  And it is hard, but not impossible.  It is a moment to moment, and sometimes second to second decision to choose trust.  Even in the process of writing this post, I’ve volleyed back and forth between the two extremes – choosing to stand in belief or fall victim to giving up.

But one thing I can say is that I’ve never seen Him fail.  Ever.  Even in those times where I felt abandoned or was caught up in how things “didn’t work out,” I can look back and say He was there, with me every doubt-filled step despite my emotional misgivings.  The times I thought my world was falling apart were actually just opportunities for me to return to the path He had set rather than trying to carry on in my own, destructive ways.

So for those of you who are waiting on something, whether big or small.  Or are discouraged because you feel like you are alone or that He’s forgotten about you, I beg you not to let your emotions win.  Not to let your lack of control during these times determine how you will proceed.  Not to let your lack of patience result in settling for less.

And even if things don’t turn out the way you thought they would, or the picture didn’t quite develop as quickly as expected, that does not mean He has failed you.  Because “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake” (2 Peter 3:9).  Not because he’s trying to punish you, but because He knows best.  If He didn’t He wouldn’t be God.

So what will you choose today?  Trust and surrender?  Or fear and despair?

A Moment of Silence

Today, I cried.  I mean, really cried.

After all the videos, photos, and media coverage of murder as if they were muffled afterthoughts and not the loss of actual people.  After watching a son cry out for his father with wordless groaning only the Spirit can comprehend.  After not feeling anything for years and moving on to the next moment with not even a hint of apathy.  I finally cried.  I finally mourned.  I finally felt angry.

Angry because we used to take moments of silence.  Now we abuse those moments with opinions, criticism, ‘fact finding,’ and political agendas.  There is no longer true, honorable, and sincere reverence and mourning.  Our grief only lasts long enough for the next story (or the next #murder) to load on our constantly updated feed.

And when I woke up this morning I’d finally had enough.  I was heavy in ways that a person feels when the only place they have to fall is at the feet of the Father.

Have you felt that?  I mean have you truly felt that for Alton Sterling? Sandra Bland?  Freddie Gray?  Trayvon Martin?  The victims in Orlando?

Or were you too preoccupied with finding evidence of resisting?  Too set on revealing reasons why they deserved it?  Too busy trying to determine where you stood on the political side of the spectrum?  Or were you too worried about preserving your reputation by making sure you weren’t standing on the ‘wrong’ side?

Well, I know what side I stand on.  And right now I stand in mourning.  And I’d like to continue taking these moments to feel that heaviness I felt today.  To bear the burden.  And to let that grief make me uncomfortable enough to break silence and effect change.  To let that grief be an impetus for provoking conversations.  Honest exchanges where I relay my fears for my children.  And people actually understand those very real anxieties without judgement or belittlement of my reality.

Because when you shake off the numbness, what follows is not bliss or gratitude for being awakened from your stupor.  It is a sobering awareness that you have been standing still and letting headlines slide off your conscious in order to maintain the appearance of neutral.  And if you are a believer, you have no room for neutral.

Because here’s a cliche for you:  What would Jesus do?  Would he be neutral?  Meh.  History says otherwise.

My guess is he would weep and mourn with those who mourned.  Or maybe he would be table flipping Jesus.  Angry Jesus is my personal fave.  Because he never stood for trampling the downtrodden.  He never stood for injustice.  He never stood for making excuses.  And the Jesus who wept is also the same one whose love for us drove him to anger in the face of anything that stood in contradiction to the Father.

Overall, my purpose is not to incite outrage.  Or, perhaps, it is.  But not hate filled rage that overflows into riots and division.  Just anger that leads to understanding between a people that are better at throwing insults and statistics instead of creating safe spaces for compassion.  The anger that is borne out of love for one another.  The kind of anger that unifies.

So if you’re not angry yet, maybe you should reconsider your position.