My husband and I recently escaped cloud-covered Oregon for a quick anniversary trip to the middle of the desert. We had plans to stay in Las Vegas, with a day’s trip to the Grand Canyon. In the middle of the dry and the desolate, man has crafted a place where lights and golden-gilding cover luxurious arch ways ushering people into glossy portrayals of Dante’s nine circles.
In timeless, windowless, oxygen-infused casinos where multisensory stimulation waits around every corner, it is easy to forget both sun and moon, and just keep going, eyes wide, watching the continuous show. One night, we stepped out onto the Stratosphere’s balcony and took the whole scene in from a bird’s eye view. Standing tall in the skyline among the other pleasure palaces was a white and gold tower with one of the two leading Presidential candidates emblazoned upon it. We watched as a bungee jumper took her place on a platform and threw herself off the side of Vegas’ highest tower, trusting that the cords would do their job….Read more at Venn Magazine.
When we started dating he didn’t realize what a battle it would be. My husband had to fight for me. Not against dragons, overbearing family members, or even other men. The struggle that confronted him came from me. I loved my independence and it seemed like folly to sacrifice it for a relationship, even one that met all the essentials on my list. Most of all, when I had given myself over before, it had crashed, burned, and wounded me. Somewhere within I made a vow: I would never give power or control over to anyone but God. He was the only One who could be trusted.
Thankfully, God granted my husband the perseverance and tenacity to scale the walls I had built up around my life, and he called me out on my fear. If there was one thing I hated more than putting power in the hands of another human it was living a fear-filled life. I would do neither, and there in the midst of what looked to be a promising coupling, my two inner oaths collided. After many close calls, a summer spent on my own abroad, and several “God confrontations,” I finally became determined to choose trust over fear.
I made new vows:
To have and to hold…
…in sickness and in health…
…till death do us part.
The first couple years…continue reading at Venn Magazine.
“Everything was different. The life I had planned out was gone, stripped away by my own foolishness and the anger of the one I fled. I peeled away the cushions from my mother’s couch so that I could have a place to sleep. The plop of each pillow onto the familiar floor reminded me I had failed. I was safe. I was back. I was not unaware of how fortunate I am to have a family that, though they warned my decision to leave was perilous, still welcomed my prodigal self back through the front door.
I had panicked. After high school the world expanded, so I bonded myself to the one thing I thought I knew — a boy, no wiser than myself. I figured we would be able to walk together into whatever life had. Instead we tore each other apart. The unknown had tempted me into trying to create a life I could control and taught me the lesson of mice and men.
“The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!”
-Robert Burns (To a Mouse, on Turning Her Up in Her Nest with the Plough)
The happiness I thought I could secure by padding my transition into adulthood was laden with folly, but it also led to a transformation I treasure to this day. It thrust me into the arms of my Jesus, and the humble acknowledgement that God is God and I am not. I have found that transition can torture or transform. Sometimes it does both.
Progression is not something always welcomed or expected. Love finds us when we least desire it. Illness, accidents, or tragedy can change everything without warning. We begin to feel proficient at tapping our foot along to the rhythm of life only to find the tune changing, leaving us lost and off-beat…Read more at Venn Magazine
Standing in hero headquarters at Disneyland, I was immersed in all things Avengers. We inspected Iron Man suits, and beheld the mighty weapons of Asgard. And there, surrounded by the fictitiously fantastic, I wondered: “What a world of heroes would really look like?”
More and more, prime time and the big screen are filled with superpowered (Superman, The Flash, or Thor) or super-gadgeted (Batman, Iron Man, Ant-Man) heroes. Maybe America is caught up in the superhero craze because we want a hero, but we only want those we can’t be compared to. Of course we can’t have Tony Stark’s suit, or transform from the featherweight Steve Rodgers to the noble Captain America. And we can’t be Superman, because…well, we’re not aliens.
One of the common themes in every superhero tale is that heroes are feared. The fictional worlds, just as our present world, are filled with evil and need the supernatural to step in and bring justice. Yet, the human characters are afraid of power they do not understand. So they try to limit it. It is clear that mankind struggles with the concept of power higher than their own…read more at Venn Magazine.
I have moved across the country twice. Both times with no job in sight. I just figured I would find one when I got there. I still look back and wonder “What was I thinking?!” Along with, “Well that was fun.” It is this type of living that often becomes the downfall for those of us prone to reckless optimism. I did always find a job and was able to make it. However, not without a bit of debt. Moving on, starting anew, and chasing the dream always costs something. The question is, what are we willing to pay?
There is a part of me that loves the thrill of leaving it all behind and beginning again. Bold faith, relentless love, and dangerous hopes are all things I am naturally drawn to. But I alsocrave comfort. It sings a siren song to my hustling heart like no other. Overindulging at the invitation of this come-hither melody usually means I am devoured by procrastination, convenience, and entitlement.
I am constantly confronted with the fact that what makes me come alive requires discipline I am not always willing to give…(Read more at Venn Magazine)
“As I watch the primaries for the 2016 presidential election, my preference is becoming all the more cemented: I choose NEITHER corrupted political party. I prefer to remain unaffiliated.
I don’t believe in promoting policy for a political party’s sake. It’s a safe bet that I will not vote for someone just because they are sporting red or blue. I am even quite the skeptic when a candidate quotes the Bible to support their point. I always wonder if they’re using something I love to manipulate me.
I thought the first Clinton was cool when he played the saxophone on late-night television back in the 90’s, and had my optimism about the office crushed when Monica Lewinsky became a household name. I listened to my parent rant and rave about George W .Bush and his awkwardly dangling chads, and wondered how he might implement or veto legislation to help protect me from school shootings and terrorists.
I watched the West Wing and came close to choosing cynicism over hope when it was time to vote for change. I was thrilled to see an African-American take office, but I had yet to find a politician I felt I could fully support. I too wanted hope and change. But was this the right change?”… Continue reading at Venn Magazine.
Christianity isn’t cool anymore. It IS relevant, powerful, and true, but it IS NO LONGER the fashionable box to check. No matter how good the music, awesome the lights, or great the preacher, the church can no longer escape that people see it as an inconvenience. Many don’t understand it and fundamentally mistrust it. But maybe so many people are leaving the church because it is becoming healthier by no longer pandering to popularity. Calling ourselves Christians in this generation means bearing the responsibility of revealing Christianity as something far more than our world believes it to be. Maybe, we have finally reached the tipping point, and we are no longer the lethargic, infected system we once were. Instead, we are finally healing. Not perfectly, of course. But maybe we are finally helping people leave behind their ideas of the church as intolerant, bigoted, fundamentally rigid, and easily offended. Instead, we are a group of people who are once again, to the best of our ability, truly following Jesus —the faithful, forgiven, and free.
Here are three ways that I see the American Church growing healthier…
Continue reading @ Venn Magazine