Begin Again

I’m feeling dry in mid-July as I take to a familiar scene…

…where Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo are, once again…

…deep in nightscape dialogue.

Like them, it’s been a year where nocturnal serenity has frequented my cul-de-sac of vulnerability.

Perhaps this is why I’m watching this, I think to myself.

After all, it’s not every day you catch a cinematic glimpse of what you and God do once the kids go down.

Walk and talk.

Walk and talk.

The perfect end to an imperfect day.

But this time…things are different. For once, I’m inside and idle, content in a still of a different kind.

Riding the rarity, I dive in, the laughs and prose all working towards this one moment…

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…sealed by a mic drop for the soul.

And yet, this story, in more ways than one, is just beginning.

For as credits roll, I approach the screen…

…to shelve a case of what was seen…

…only to balk and wonder why.

Why don’t I want to leave this moment, I wonder.

Perhaps it’s a sequence, a song, an emotional call. Perhaps the answer is ‘none at all’.

Either way, I’m at peace. Let it go, let it rest. Sometimes, walking away is best.

Flash-forward to mid-August and I’m cleaning again…the aura of Pledge, a fitting calm.

Then suddenly, it hits me

…what struck me that night was not the scene, but the title itself

…slowly marinating into the stubborn caverns of my disbelief.

Two words…we need, but take for granted; two words…preached, yet breached and slanted.

Two words…an answer once hoped for; two words…a truth igniting my core.

Two words for two months…and likely beyond. Now comes the part I ‘yes’ and respond.

And so it goes…there’s nothing God can’t use to find us and whisper the sweet reminder…

…that sometimes, to go forward, we must go back and…

begin again.

Roll credits.

Photo creds: 7-Themes, Pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kingdom Carriers: The Reason We Exist (Part 2)

Part 1: Kingdom Agents: The Reason We Exist

So a few weeks back, I’m chillin’ in my humble abode, perusing a couple bivocational pastoral forums when I notice an intriguing update…

I work for UPS and have not taken a salary in the year and a half since I’ve been at my current church. They do provide a parsonage though. I have really been struggling with being bivo[cational]. Outside of my secular job I never feel I’m able to give enough or do enough for my ministry or my family. My job doesn’t build relationships because I’m all way in a different office and on different routes with no real interactions. It really is money only and I hate that. My dream would be to have a job [where] I can truly make money, not a get rich quick gimmick, and that gives flexibility when needed. Actually I’ve always dreamed of opening a coffee and sandwich shop. I have a dream to write but can never get enough time to make much progress. I just have been dealing a lot lately with not being enough, or not achieving enough, in any part of my life. It feels like the duck floating in the water. Things look smooth on the surface but underneath I’m fight what seems to be a losing fight right now. And I don’t know how to fix it or what to do.”

Now, before I continue, understand I’m normally not one to share anonymous posts; however, with this one, I can’t help but resonate given there are people like this all around us…

…questioning their purpose…

…making ends meet…

…all the while desperate to dream in light of their surroundings.

Accordingly, how we engage the chaos in a way that merges ‘hope of glory‘ and ‘hope of freedom‘ within our influence is worth discussion.

My thought is: whether you consider yourself vocational, bivocational, or multi-occupational, regardless of what you’re sacrificing, you desire to lay a foundation of life that pierces the mundane doldrums of an ego-driven culture.

Unfortunately, our desire to build upon this foundation is often offset by discouragement and disorientation. For example, some people know their identity as ‘loved by God’, but feel rudderless in a dead-end situation while for others, they have the ideal situation, but have no idea of who they are and what they’re truly called to.

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To compound matters, there is dissonance as people who see themselves as a collection of acquired skills and experiences collide with those who view their passions and assignments as functions of their uniqueness. Granted, we live in a fallen world of mixed perspectives where you are what you do outside of what you believe; hence, the tension many believers encounter when they take a servant mentality into the marketplace.

But for the dire dreamer determined to stay up on the down side of life, sometimes acknowledging the fact it’s not supposed to be easy isn’t enough. At some point, we must accept the fact people are not only looking for momentary motivation, but long-term resources and willing availability.

Not to suggest we downplay our readiness in giving answers for the hope we have. I’m just sayin’ if all we’re doing is pointing people, like the UPS man, in the right direction, can we honestly say we’re doing all we can to help? In counseling them to find the tools and direction they’re looking for?

And hear me: I’m not sayin’ we fix all the peoples…all the situations…and make floating ducks feel like power trucks.  I get there are times when all we can do is stand and point people in the way they’re to go.

However, if we see ourselves as Kingdom agents/ambassadors, then we should expect to receive appointed assignments where the only way to reach out is to create room…

…which leads me to why I’m writing this…

…so that we all can be more attuned in extending Jehovah-Jireh hope to the UPS man’s of the world…

…in conveying the promises of God who will not only provide, but get us to the other side…both in trust and in faith.

Perhaps you’re not a fan of who you are or where you’re at right now. Maybe you feel an awkward divide between you and who you wish to pour into1.

If so, I encourage you: stand strong, know you’re loved2, and invite God into the voids you sense. Remember you have what it takes to fight the good fight (1 Timothy 6:11-16)…and by not quitting, you ultimately help others do the same.

As to how we do that?

Well, let’s just say…

that is why we exist.

tenor

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Or who you wish could pour into you
  2. And never alone
Cover photo creds: benzinga.com

 

 

🥗 4 Shortcuts to a Leaner Life 💪

For years, His Girl Fryday has been helping people discover confidence within their influence from navigating challenges at work to managing ministry on the go. 

Yet, while our content has historically centered on internal inventory, occasionally we like to spice things up and go against the grain1

Thus, for today, I want to talk about some practical ways we can improve our eating/exercise habits having recently reached a major weight loss milestone.

Now I admit…I’m not the savviest of nutritionists nor do I sport the chisel-est of bods; however, what I do have is discipline, resolve, and the patience to see them through.

Accordingly, it is my hope these four dietary tidbits, while more conducive to long-term results, can better your family dynamic and pursuit of a leaning life…

1. De-dairy your diet

When time turned 2014, my body was in rough shape2. Granted, I wasn’t obese or struggling with an eating disorder; however, with a weight only a pound or two off my all-time max (i.e. 207 lbs), the sluggishness was real.

Thankfully, after making a list of dietary resolutions, it wasn’t long before I realized what dietary changes I needed to make and in what order. 

The first step? De-dairy my diet.

To do this, I narrowed the goal down to three phases:

  1. I replaced cow milk with almond milk – an unpopular move for my palate initially, but one I adjusted to3 after a month or so.
  2. I eliminated processed cheese from my diet – a minor correction, but a necessary one given my acid reflux history. 
  3. I reduced my intake of frozen dairy – easily, the toughest out, but conquerable once I a) allowed it to be a novelty and b) embraced dairy-free ice creams like Halo Top.

At first, physical changes were subtle; however, the more I established this rhythm, the better I felt overall on a daily basis.

Nowadays, if I’m ever craving cereal, a burger, and/or ice cream…check out the built-in savings…

  • Honey Nut Cheerios (1.5 cups) with almond milk – 210 calories
  • Honey Nut Cheerios (1.5 cups) with 2% milk – 255 calories
  • Difference: -30 
  • Burger King Whopper with no cheese/mayo + steak sauce – 550 calories
  • Burger King Whopper with cheese and mayo – 770 calories
  • Difference: -220
  • Halo Top chocolate ice cream (1 pint) – 320 calories
  • Ben & Jerry’s chocolate ice cream (1 pint) – 1000 calories
  • Difference: -680

Yeah, yeah…I know these examples may seem insignificant, but trust me: as you’ll soon see, they add up well with time…

2. Bun Voyage

If reducing dairy was the footing, cutting carbs was the foundation. After an August 2014 biometric screening revealed high amounts of triglycerides in my system, I realized I had to cut carbs and after weighing (pun intended) my options, I determined the best place to start was to make every sandwich an ‘open face’.

After all, the best part of a sandwich/burger is what lies in the middle. Why not cut out the redundancy?

At any rate, after three years later of de-breading/de-bunning my sandwiches/burgers …not to mention all the pizza crust thrown to my dog…the results speak for themselves.

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3. Walk the Plank

If you’re like me in the sense you have strong cardio discipline (~ 3-4 workouts a week), you likely have some sense of what foods will help you exercise more effectively; however, while tracking protein and complex carbs is ideal for better workouts, if you’re losing weight, it’s important to define what you trim.

For instance, I do a 3-5 minute variety plank routine and/or 40+4 push-ups before each run. Certainly, not a ‘have to’…but highly encouraged if you want a short and sweet road to transition fat to muscle within your core.

As I like to think, if an apple a day keeps the doctor away, a plank a day can only further the distance5.

By the way, this is not how you plank…

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4. Select Fasting

No question, my biggest dietary weakness is caffeine. It’s a drug for the day, a muse in the morning…whether you’re talking iced tea/cold brew/bottled soda on a hot, summer day or a roasty expresso on a cold, midwinter morning, the temptation is often tough to pass up.

However, as I discovered in a recent week-long fast, taking a break from fluids not named water, while old-school, is arguably the best way to detox your system. In my case, when fasting, I like to replace coffee and soda with sparkling peach-flavored water and green tea. Of course, there are many more options to choose from. The key here is not so much the substitution as it is giving your system time to be shocked. 

If liquid fasts aren’t your thing, consider fasting chips (or a similar salty guilty pleasure) one week, desserts another. Personally, I like capping my calories categorically (i.e. chips to 250, soda/dessert – 400 (on the few days I consume them), meals, in general, to 800), especially through liquid fasts since most of my empty calories come fluidly.

Another method you might try is ‘going green’ where 75/80%+ of lunches/dinners have the color in the meal. In our house, with dinner, we aim for steamed veggies and/or salads as sides 4-5 times/week; with lunch, we’ll often replace meat with cucumbers and heartier toppings with kale or spinach on wraps/bowls. Even snacks, we’ll munch on carrots or multi-grain crackers with avocado, hummus, black bean spread if we need a tie over. Again, not ground-breaking, rocket science strategies as much as tactical frameworks we can eat between.

Ultimately, the key with select fasting is identifying  your weak points, targeting them as voids, and filling them in with healthier alternatives6.

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So there you have it. Not the most inventive guide to a fuller, fitter life, but a workable template if your goal is to gradually lower those pant sizes, circumferences, and cholesterol levels. I know for some of you, going the keto way (or something similar) probably sounds more enticing, but if you prefer simple short cuts with long-term potential, consider these suggestions.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below if you want to share any additional advice or testimony.

If not, know we’re cheering you on as you pursue a healthier, happier you…

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Footnotes

  1. Foreshadowing alert
  2. Gaining ten pounds of stress weight leading up to my wedding day in April 2013 that I hadn’t fully recovered from
  3. One could say I started finding it utterly delicious 😉
  4. My push-up count isn’t a set # as much as it is whatever my physical limit is for that day
  5. Speaking of distance, consider basing your cardio workouts on calories burned as opposed to miles. For me, I cut my runs off at 400 calories, unless I have more time/energy to burn.
  6. Specifically, ones that meet a nutritional need (i.e. vitamin ‘x’) as opposed to a habitual hankering
Cover photo creds: Wallpaper Studio 10

 

Halftime: A Musing on Life in 2018

Well, folks, the summer equinox is upon us and you know what that means…

…time for yet another enlightening installment of ‘halftime lessons learned’ where the year goes under inspection, the heart under reflection, and fears under subjection…

…where inventory becomes short story…

…and hopes teetering on paralysis find rest in analysis.

Now, I admit: when probing a year, I prefer filtering my thoughts into bite-sized, applicable takeaways; however, this year, I can’t help but feel I must take a different approach given its narrative and the irony of potentially leaving truth between the lines.

After all, not all years are created equal, and as such, easily quantifiable.

But where to begin…that is the question.

Obviously, life on the home front has changed significantly with Everly. Like Caeden, her joy has proved contagious in a year full of adjustments. Granted, with two under three and an adolescent pup, maturation compels naturally when a family grows for a third straight year. Even so, this year’s home-owning family of four has felt far more settled than last year’s house-hunting family of three. Accordingly, all is well and better than ever for me and my house.

Of course, not all change has been hunky-dory; the lack of youth ministry, in particular, has proven especially difficult.

For starters, I didn’t realize until after-the-fact just how much I’d assigned identity to role and pain to under the carpet 1 2. I suppose when you’re constantly pouring out and giving your all regardless of peripherals, it’s easy for that to become your reality. Unfortunately, the more you tolerate voids in this way, the more you think you can fill them loving on your own terms, as if the Golden Rule alone can grant purpose.

But as we know, that’s not how begetting life works3. Ultimately, if we desire a pure walk with God based in intimacy over responsibility, we must confront the interference…

…which brings me to where I’m at today…

…where if there’s any desperation, it’s for my sense of place and passion to be free from seeking re-orientation in ego4, specifically what should have been.

As the Lord has been convicting me in recent weeks, the world is searching for sacred love…is aching for eternity (as perpetual presence)…and yearning for believers to identify with Jesus. And while it’s easy to emphasize advancement and progress, there are seasons when we must return to awe, re-embrace the basics of our faith, and allow the gnosis5 of ‘we are not what we do’ to seep below the neckline6.

For when we allow God to reset, restart, and refresh both course and inner man, our strength is renewed to release not only what we lack, but what hasn’t worked7.

Think of it this way: whenever you crave wonder to extinguish discouragement, remember what truly lasts. Yes, seasons come and go. And yes, there will be times when you feel what should be happening isn’t happening.

But glory to God life is so much richer than our temporary inconveniences…that even in the midst of what’s not working or happening, he uses those voids to remind us who we are…and how much we need him.

And while the roadmap will surely vary from person to person…

…like a river to be crossed, we will get there.

As for the rest of 2018, there’s so much I could say, from our new family freelancing business to returning to school to finish my meteorology degree (see vid below for backstory); however, given much is still developing, I’ll hold off until December before lending a detailed update/recap.

‘Til then, enjoy halftime.

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. In the name of endurance.
  2. Not to mention those pesky what if’s…like what if I had allowed myself to be poured into more consistently? What if I had recognized ‘x’ insecurity sooner? What if I had applied this personal/program correction at ‘x’ point? Etc, etc…
  3. Eternal esurance slogan?
  4. Notably in temporary measures like success, relationship, and comparisons
  5. Head knowledge
  6. Heart knowledge (i.e. epignosis); in case you need to know where I’m at, there you go
  7. Or isn’t working

Photo creds: Fine Art America

The Naked Truth: Why Church Needs a Sex Talk

Since its inception, His Girl Fryday has served as a resource helping bivocational/ marketplace leaders mature their influence…and while our mission has always been to bridge sacred and secular, when it comes to absolute truth, ultimately we’re just as passionate outside our niche as within it.

Thus, as we tackle a hot topic in sexuality, understand this message has not only been internally simmering for years (having been ignited during last week’s Messenger Fellowship summit), but also represents one of my deepest pastoral regrets having rarely addressed it1 during my youth ministry tenure. Of course, much could be said in a testimonial setting; for now, let’s focus on how sexuality has been and should be addressed to effectively equip the emerging generation.

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When it comes to modern day sexuality, no question we live in a unique time caught up in the crossfire of change. On one hand, we have church and culture experiencing seismic shifts in how intimacy and its abuse are perceived. On the other, we have integrity and cross-generational tension in how the Word is interpreted and behaviorally applied².

Yet, while the divide may seem like a slippery slope, how we close the gap is worth discussion given we all struggle (or have struggled) with sexual identity, temptation, compromise, or at the very least, our identity in Christ.

Take my case for example…

As a child of the ’90’s, I grew up in a time when intimacy was seen as forbidden fruit. Not only was sex not talked about outside ‘the birds and the bees’, but hardly anyone wanted to…apart from a few exceptions.

I remember during one 8th grade chapel, my school brought in a young Christian couple to share their “love story”, a PG-13 account of why they waited. Unfortunately, while their testimony captured the wonder of affection, it failed to connect sex to Scripture leaving many peers in a wake of armor-less intrigue.

A few months later, I invited a friend to summer camp during which the last guest speaker defined purity as avoiding promiscuity. But again, like the married couple, though the message conveyed the mystique of sex, the big picture only grew more convoluted, especially for those like me who had become skilled in evading Cosmopolitan without knowing why.

Enter the day my sophomore year when I discovered Victoria Secret in my parent’s mailbox.

Yes, I had learned not to go looking for lust; however, I hadn’t learned what to do when lust came looking for me. Factor in a freshman year marred by peer rejection and bullying and suddenly those scantily clad women were more than just tempting…they were void-filling.

And so began a decadal stretch where self-gratification and fantasy lust not only became on-and-off defaults to loneliness and self-loathing, but self-seeking manifests in romantic relationships3 (more on this in a future post). Thankfully, after years of denial and compromise, the Spirit would meet me in a point of surrender and reset my course.

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But by then, the damage had been done. Despite the fact I was a new creation relearning grace, forgiveness, and perseverance in the midst of shame, insecurity, and depression, the weight of deferred awareness -what could have been had I just trashed the lingerie clippings instead of stashing them ten years earlier – bore heavily on my mind.

Not to mention all the ‘what if’s’…

…like what if someone had taught me the wrongs of self-gratification?

…what if someone had taught me the boundaries of intimacy in dating relationships?

…what if I had a mentor who connected taking thoughts captive to pornographic temptation?

…what if the message of sexuality in my youth had involved discovering God’s intent as opposed to guilting people from living outside it?

Maybe then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

But the reality is we are…because I believe God not only wants to reshape and ‘de-grey’ the way we teach sex, but purge our family lines of where it’s been abused.  Like me, you may have wrestled with a checkered past, but this doesn’t mean God can’t use your fearless voice to stir implicit trust in places of explicit exposure.

The question is: are we willing to be entirely honest and sensitive when we need to?

For as long as sex is minimally approached and swept under the rug, we set our children up to learn the hard way; however, if we truly desire our youth to see sex through the fear of the Lord/their identity in Christ, if we truly long for them to be content in their singleness, and to understand the positives of purity, the rewards of repentance, and the repercussions of sexual sin4, only then will we set a foundation on which they can stand firm.

‘Til then, I submit the church refreshens her approach on teaching intimacy. To paraphrase John Piper…

the problem with the church’s guide to sex education isn’t her instruction on walking in light, but her negligence in modeling a hatred of darkness.

As a result, youth are growing up aware sex has a time and place, like fire in a fireplace, but are far less aware of what to do when the chimney starts to crack or when the fire breaches the home. At some point, we must be willing to convey the fire of intimacy not only through the fatherheart of God, but in eager fashion as people unashamed of the Gospel and our testimony (Romans 1:15-16 AMP). Perhaps then will today’s young people know how to ‘house’ their sexuality where the fireplace was designed to be.

tenor

As for me, all I know is far too long I’ve been on my knees crying for help, but now that help has come…and in its wake…my heart yearns to see future generations know the warning signs that flare in the night and proceed against greed in light of the stronger, holy fire burning within5.

In closing, I encourage you, my friends, let’s be unified in advancing a more vulnerable talk on sex while praying generational healing into the roots of our family trees. After all, as great as the struggle or freedom we’re walking in, how much more glorious the triumph when we embrace the legacy of God’s highest?

Selah.

Footnotes

  1. Granted, the effort was made multiple times; at least we got this far
  2. Hence, why sexuality is such a challenging subject given its taboo label and sandpapery effect on identity/ego/security
  3. Specifically, the lie of ‘as long as it’s not intercourse, it’s okay’
  4. Including the various forms of pornography and self-gratification
  5. Yes, I have DC Talk’s ‘The Hardway’ in my head now; again, I’m a child of the ‘90’s 😉

Cover photo creds: Pond5, Called to be Free