The Thrill of Hope

My general rule of thumb is that I can put up my Christmas tree on or after my birthday (November 21). But this year, after all that this year brought, I couldn’t wait to start the festivities of celebrating hope, so my tree has been up since November 14 or so.

It’s been one of the most exhilarating years of my life. I stepped into an exciting new job that I love with NewThing network, a global church planting organization. I have been able to have some great adventures, and work alongside some of the most incredible humans I’ve ever met. Most days I can’t believe that I get to do what I do.

But this year has also been one of the most broken years of my life. Grief, sorrow, and a broken heart have been war-zones of my soul. The enemy has come at me with audacious lies about who I am and what I’m worth. There have been so many days when I have had doubts about my faith, disbelief about God’s love for me personally.

As the smoldering dust clouds of my heart have settled, and glimmers of a new dawn break through, the word I’ve heard God whisper over and over to me has been “hope.” I’ve been holding fast to the promise found in the book of Hebrews: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul.” God’s love and faithfulness keep me steady when everything inside of me is unsure. My hope is secure and not in vain.

And so as we move into the Advent season, I am ready to celebrate the thrill of hope; the hope that Jesus has come for us. That He still comes for us. Emmanuel. God with us. Now and always. In the brokenness, in the messiness, in our fears and doubts, He is our hope. He is the one who breathes life into dead things; the one who makes rivers in wastelands.

My tired soul is thrilled that my hope has come. Hope is the anthem of my soul.

My heart is beating like a blown speaker
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weaker
A distortion pedal and a pair of wings
And an anthem played on broken strings

My heartbeat, my oxygen
My banner, my home
My freedom, my song
Hope is the anthem of my soul

 

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You’re Welcomed To The Table

Happy Thanksgiving! When it comes to the traditional meal, I’m a stuffing kind of girl. Here is my never-fails, family-favorite recipe from The Comfort of Cooking. My husband and children actually cheer when I make it!

The truth is that as much as I pride myself on being a gourmet cook (y’all, I really love food, and I love creating in the kitchen), it’s the cranberry sauce—jellied, straight from a can– that wins for me. You know, where the lines from can show on the purple glob? Classy, right?

In a few hours, Adam, the kids, and I will be with my family, gathered around a table. 17 of us, the adults outnumbered by the kiddos, will be enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner together. It’s going to be beautifully chaotic and incredibly loud (I come from a long-line of strong, loud women. God bless my husband and brothers-in-law). As loud and chaotic as it is, we will be together, and we will love every minute of it.

I’ve been studying the Old Testament book of Zechariah. It’s been a moving book, portraying God as a God that clothes us in clean garments when our accuser stands to our side naming our guilt. (If you struggle with shame, read Zechariah 3, and be set free.)

This morning I was blown away by what I read in Zechariah 10: 8 – 10. It is such an appropriate section for Thanksgiving! God says that he is working to bring His scattered children home. However far we are from Him, whatever mess we are in, God wants us to be at His table. He delights in bringing us to Himself; in bringing us home.

So today, wherever you are, God sees, and He wants you to make your home with Him; to delight in the feast of His goodness and presence. Nothing you have done exempts you from being able to be at home with Him. You are wanted, and your seat at the table is waiting for you.

Thank you for joining me in these little written journeys. My prayer is that today you would know that you are created with purpose, with dignity, with God-given-delight. I pray that you would pause, and receive His invitation to know and be with Him.

 

 

Manifesto For My 32nd Year

Today is my birthday, and while I’ve always loved my birthday, today feels different. Today I feel more overwhelmed with gratitude than I ever remember being on this day. As calls, texts, Facebook posts have come through with well wishes and celebration I have stopped and reflected on the individuals sending such thoughtful messages. So many memories, so much joy, so many miles of life traveled with the people God has allowed me the privilege of knowing. More than I can say, I am thankful.

My 31st year was an unexpected one. A year ago I felt the word “dauntless” would be an important one, but I couldn’t have anticipated the adventures or the sorrow that would require the need for resolute courage. My 31st year has passed, and it was filled with wonderful journeys across the US, new career adventures, bigger dreams, deeper love, greater appreciation of rest and stillness, the grief of tremendous loss, and a keen awareness of my own humanity and frailty.

Through these last 365 days I see that God was in the heights and the depths. He was with me when I was a bundle of nerves 37,000 feet in the air (I’m learning to love flying, but the year didn’t start off that way). He was with me when I was curled up on my bathroom floor crying big, ugly tears during one of the hardest seasons of my life. He was with me when I was with crowds, and with me when I was hidden from them. He was with me when I felt like who He made me to be, and when I felt so broken, frail, and far from that woman.

In the wake of the lessons I learned during year 31, here is my manifesto for 32:

Breathe deep and live slow.

I am 32 and I’m only moving forward. I’ve heard that the years go faster, and I want to appreciate the now. I want to take more mental snapshots of the beautiful, ordinary moments. I want to delight in the mundane as well as the exceptional.

Dig Into Real Community

I’ve moved more than 10 times in the last 14 years. I’m conditioned to start over when I feel that I am no longer “new and shiny.” When my imperfections start to show, I want to run. 31 taught me to have more grit, to dig in, and to trust that there are people who really do want to love me and stay with me, even when I’m broken.

Rest more.

31 pressed on my wounded soul’s belief that my value comes from what I can produce; that I am only as valuable insofar as I contribute. I am a terrible rester, which means I run on fumes… a lot. And that is not how God designed any of us to live, nor is it the truth. I want to stop more often. Be still on a regular basis. Breathe deep. Rest, and continue allowing Him to speak the Truth: that my value comes from the reality that I am His.

See and love people. 

I love humans. A simple moment with a barista this morning ignited my soul. There was nothing spectacular about our conversation; no earth-shattering moment, so to speak. But there was kindness, and a genuine sense that we saw each other with dignity, worth, and value.

I want to take the brief moments I have with people throughout the day and speak life, hope, value, worth, and joy into them. Whether it’s looking someone in the eyes and sincerely asking how they’re doing, whether it’s taking the time to hear a person’s story and pray with them, whether it’s a sincere thank you to the barista handing me my dark roast coffee…people matter. Period.

Delight in my husband.

Oh that man is gifted at loving me. Thank you, Jesus. It takes a strong man to hold fast to my restless ocean of a heart. Adam, you have all of my affection, and I want to delight in being your wife.

Play more.

My obsessive need to clean my house can wait. My kids can’t. They’re growing far too fast and I am powerless to stop it. I will never regret giving them my full attention. I will most certainly regret not doing so.

Honor my health.

I’m generally healthy. I run, I drink water, eat vegetables… But I’m not as flexible as I once was, my right knee crunches, and I can do all of five push ups (which is an improvement. A month ago I could do 1. Yah me). For 32, I want to run farther, grow stronger, stretch more, and remember to take my blasted multivitamins. Oh, and I should probably deny my sweet tooth more often too…

Taste my words & own my thoughts.

My tongue is often too fast, and my mind is often too weak. I want to grow in slowing down before I speak; in tasting my words before I let them fly. I want to speak more grace, and less judgement. I want to speak more hope and less criticism.

I want to think the Truth to myself too. I want to grow in strengthening my mind, filtering my self-talk through what God has declared about me and over me.

Fix my eyes.

I want my eyes to be laser focused on Jesus. I want to intentionally look for Him in the moments of my days. I want to obey. I want to look for hope in the hopeless places, and have eyes to see and ears to hear where God is moving in the hard moments, and delight in the beautiful. I want to keep my eyes on who I’m running for.

And so…here’s to a new trip around the sun. Here’s the 32. Cheers.

Me Too. Now what?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading the book Half The Sky as part of a journey I’m on to better educate myself on the global oppression of women.

Or maybe it’s because I have a natural inclination to fight for justice.

Or maybe it’s because I have to sign my name with thousands of other women and say, “Me Too.”

But I am fired up.

“Me too.” It’s not a badge of honor; it’s an admission that something is wrong. When I was a little girl another older, much larger child threatened to hurt me and my family if I didn’t touch him or let him touch me inappropriately during free play at school. He held me down and forced bits of his torn up shoes into my mouth. I was terrified, and didn’t tell a soul for years until my mom happened to come across my journal and read about the terrible event.

In high school it was “normal” for guys to comment about my body, both high school students or older men that would come into the cafe that I worked at.

In college I had a stalker who used threatening language to attempt to manipulate me and make me afraid of him.

In my early professional career, another employee–my boss— asked a married man to evaluate my body. Thank the Lord that man stood up for himself and for me and declared that moment to be highly inappropriate. My boss was later fired.

I now work in the ministry world. In Evangelical circles standing up for the defense of women and women’s rights can be a touchy subject. Most church leaders want to avoid being labeled as “man haters” or “leftist.” But regardless of political or theological lines, it is an irrefutable truth that women throughout the world are objectified, abused, and often oppressed. The church cannot be silent on this issue when one in five women sitting in sanctuary seats every weekend has, or will be, raped. 1 in 3 has experienced some level of sexual harassment, and 1 in 6 will be stalked.

The Church (meaning the collective group of people who profess Jesus as King) has a responsibility to stand up and speak out against violence and predatory behavior faced by women and girls around the world. I don’t want to pretend that I have the answers, but may I suggest a starting place? 

Listen. Thousands of women are telling us that they have been on the receiving end of some level of sexual harassment, assault, or otherwise predatory behavior. Thousands of women aren’t making this up. Please do not silence them. Please do not brush this issue off as women being “too sensitive.” Listen. Ask questions.

Men in particular, I realize that not all men act in these ways. I realize that many, dare I say most, of you value and protect women. As I think about the men in my life, most all of you speak value and worth into my life, and demonstrate tremendous protection and appreciation towards me and other women you know. But as this conversation grows louder and louder, can I encourage you to seek out ways to be more than “good guys?” Start by listening and striving to understand the systematic ways that your sisters have been mistreated, and ask God for the courage to stand against it alongside of them.

 

 

 

On Prayer & Friendship

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. “Friend”  is a term we throw around loosely, like it’s a common reality. The more that I talk to people about friendship, the more I’m realizing what a gift genuine friendship is.

I want safe friends who I can say anything to, who know my baggage and help me unpack it, who correct my wrong thinking, and champion my best. I want those friends who love my children, and who frequent my table. I want vacation-together friends, laugh until it hurts, but safe-to-cry with when everything hits the fan friends.

And every once in a while I catch a glimpse that those types of friends do exist.

One of the most profound realizations about friendship I have ever had happened in a women’s restroom. I was working in an office, and it was a particularly challenging day. I had been sitting at my desk blinking back tears of frustration and sadness, feeling all kinds of big emotions, and I stepped away to the women’s room to pull myself together. A friend of mine who has an emotional radar as spot-on as a sniper walked in. Without asking me anything she let out a big sigh, and put her arms around me.

I had planned to keep my battle to myself, get my act together, and finish the work day, but she entered my war zone. She asked if she could pray with me, and I swear the ground shook beneath my feet with the power of the words she prayed over me. She declared war against the lies, against the darkness that was shadowing my heart and mind that day. I was emotionally exhausted, and she took up arms to fight for me.

It was a profound moment. A humbling one. And one full of tremendous power, love, and a fierce boldness that I do not take for granted.

When I saw the new Wonder Woman movie I remembered that moment with my friend.  No major spoilers, but there’s a battle scene during WWII where allied forces are exhausted, scared, and haven’t gained ground in months. Wonder Woman, seeing their exhaustion and need,  steps out of the trenches and starts marching across the field taking blow after blow from enemy fire so that they could gain some ground.

When they were at their weakest she stepped in the gap and fought for them, taking hit after hit so they could regain their footing to fight back themselves.

That is what my dear friend did for me that day. She stepped into my battle and fought for me. Without knowing it, she completely changed the way I define friendship, and brought clarity to the type of friend I want to have, and the type of friend that I want to be.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night he was arrested, he asked his disciples to pray. That used to seem like a docile request to me, but now I realize that he was asking his friends to step into the war zone with him in the most powerful way they could. Like those men, I often fall asleep on the job. I often neglect the weapon of prayer that I have to wield against the darkness. But time and time again I see that God has called us to arms. He has called us to fight with and for one another in powerful ways that shake the strongholds of Hell and break the chains that bind us.

So today, keep your eyes open. Be alert. And whether the people around you know you’re doing it or not, wage war on their behalf. If you’re the one in the battle, invite trusted people into your trenches and ask them to declare victory over you with the authority of Heaven through their prayers.

 

 

 

Ditch The Label

We’ve all had to rock those awesome white name tags at events. You walk in, and you’re given a white sticker and a Sharpie to write your name so that as you make your way through the crowd other people can identify you. Most of the time we write the name we go by: Haley, Adam, Kristyn, Troy…and if you’re like me, you forget to take it off, wash the laundry, and end up googling “laundry solutions for Dummies.”

But what would you write if you wrote who you really think you are? If you had to write the name that haunts you in the night, the name that is constantly whispered in the recesses of your mind? Maybe you’d write “Coward.” Or maybe “Lonely.” “Loud.” “Shy.”  “Control freak.” “Mental case.” “Depressed.” “Anxious.”

Mine?  “Unwanted.” Since I was a little girl I have believed that I am expendable. Leave-able. Disposable.

Good gracious, I am done with that heavy label. Jesus has ripped off the tag, and boldly declared over me, “That’s not your name.” The strong love and compassion of my Savior has given me the right name tag: “His.” I may spend the rest of my life picking off the sticky residue left on the shirt of my soul from wearing that vicious lie of a name for too long, but the label is destroyed.

So what is your false label? We all believe something about who we are. The great tragedy is that far too often who we believe we are is far from the truth.

Oh, friend. That label…that thing you’ve believed about yourself all this time, that thing that weighs you down and haunts you in the darkness of night…that’s not your name.

Your name is “Beloved.” Your name is “Cherished One.” Your name is “Redeemed.” “Whole.” “Lovely.” “Desired.”

Your name is “Royalty.”

So when shame and lies come to steal your dreams telling you that you can never escape,  run for the truth and declare, “That is not my name!” Run to Jesus, the only one with the authority to tell you who you really are.

Let’s ditch the tags, and let’s run free.

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley

Save Me

I became a Christian when I was 17 years old. In those early days I would take my Bible and my journal to coffee houses and press in, learning more about who this God is that I had fallen in love with; the God who was radically changing my life. Those first few years of following Jesus were like a greenhouse for me. I was changing and being transformed in big ways, and at light speed. For the first time in my life I was beginning to feel healthy and whole.

 

But at some point I started to feel numb. I started to get used to the Gospel. I started to subconsciously say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve heard all of this. I know all of this.” I fell into believing that I have a relationship with Jesus, and He saved me (past tense), but I don’t still need saving.

It’s a dangerous road to have found myself  believing that I had become too mature, too wise, too good to still need the Gospel.

I’m thankful that God loves me too much to leave me alone. Through some really difficult and painful circumstances I was reminded that it is only by His grace that I can even approach Him. It is His working in me that had changed me, His mercy that covers my sins.

I. Need. Saving. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. In this moment, and now this one…

I need saving when I lose my patience with my children and yell at them without restraint. I need saving when I say those ugly words to my husband just to hurt him. I need saving when I harbor unforgiveness and resentment towards a friend that has hurt me. I need saving when I get so angry at God and disbelieve that He is far more good than I could ever comprehend.

But the best news, and the power of God, is found in that through Jesus, I have the rescue that I need. Every season, every day, every moment.

Last weekend I heard one of the most powerful messages I have ever heard about shame. You NEED to watch this message. At one point Brad Tate says that as Christians we often say, “God takes our sins away,” and that while that is true, it’s deeper than that; God covers our sins through the blood of Jesus. Whether we are close to God and need 2% grace, or whether we are far from God and need 98%, the blood of Jesus fills the gap and makes us righteous.

I ended up drawing this rough sketch in my journal:FullSizeRender.jpg

The idea here was that God’s holiness is like the horizon line when you are looking at the ocean. What you see from the shoreline looks like a straight, level line. Underneath the water, however, are mountains, valleys, and rough terrain with varied gaps between the peaks and the surface of the water. The water fills in the gaps to the surface, making it level.

Jesus’ blood fills in the deepest gaps of our souls to be made right with God. Jesus has made us perfect and we can live in awe and wonder of the Gospel TODAY because we are made right with God apart from anything we could ever do ourselves.

Oh, God, forgive me for neglecting the power of the Gospel in my day-to-day life. Would you help me to live in humble, awed gratitude? I need saving…today and everyday. Thank you for covering my shame. Thank you for making me new. 

Run Hard. Love Strong.
Haley

Get low. Get free.

The beginning of 2017 started with me praying a simple prayer, “God, teach me how to love. How to really love.”

Learning to love means learning to get low. Choosing to serve. Choosing anonymity. Choosing to stop evaluating the value of work based on applause or approval. Choosing to do small things with great love for the people around me.

All my life I have felt a tremendous amount of pressure to excel. I have spent my days striving to be acceptable and pleasing.

That life is exhausting, and has left my soul tired. In my search for the approval and adoration of others, I have been chasing after a mirage in a desert, never arriving, all the while getting thirstier and thirstier.

Chasing satisfaction in the praise of people will always leave us thirsty; we are wasting our energy chasing after something that isn’t even real! We buy into the lie that apart from the praise and adoration of people we are invaluable, unloveable, and invisible.

I place my identify far too often in what I do instead of whose I am. But I am learning that there is tremendous freedom when I let go of the need to earn my place.

The reality is that I am not enough. I will never be enough. But Jesus is enough for me. His enoughness is all I need, and in Him is the freedom to stop striving.

When we stop long enough to look to Jesus and ask Him to satisfy us with His enoughness, we can stop chasing desert mirages and experience rich satisfaction and healthy souls. It is in this place that we experience the freedom to embrace who we are simply because He calls us His.

Out of our satisfaction we begin to learn what real love and service are.

We can rest when we stop trying to earn our place. We can experience the fullness of peace God promises when we accept that He really does mean it when He says that we don’t have to earn His favor or love. We can start to enjoy our work when we don’t tie our worth to it.

Living low allows us to find tremendous fulfillment and joy in both the mundane and the extraordinary. Whether scrubbing dishes, changing diapers, working in a cubicle, or  speaking in front of thousands, we can fully embrace our moments with gratitude and a heart full of love because our activity does not define our value or worth.

We can be free to serve without recognition, and we can accept recognition with humility.

I’m learning that living low is the only real way to be satisfied. On my own I will never be enough, but Jesus is enough for me. He is enough for you. He is enough for us.

Get low. Live low. Stay low. That is where rich life, and soul satisfaction are found.

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley

 

 

The Gift That Saved A Baby’s Life

Old man winter has started knocking on the door. While the full-on-cold hasn’t quite hit, my family has pulled out our winter coats, and added extra blankets to our bedding.

We have one blanket that was given to us as a gift a few years ago. It’s big, and ridiculously soft. It’s heavy, and the best blanket to snuggle up with on a cold day with a good cup of dark roast coffee. Every single person in my household loves this blanket. My toddler often calls “Toddler Property Law” when it is in use by someone else (read: “If I want it, it’s mine). He affectionately refers to this blanket as “Bee Bee.”

When said toddler was a little younger one of his favorite things was being wrapped up in this blanket to nurse. He was warm, and felt secure. All was right with the world when he was in his mama’s arms being nurtured while wrapped in the cozy goodness this particular blanket offers.

But many mothers and babies throughout the world suffer lack of basic needs, and have no such blanket to keep them warm during cold seasons. Imagine giving birth, and being unable to shield your newborn child from the cold. Many mothers worldwide helplessly struggle to keep their babies healthy, and often lose the battle as their infants succumb to diseases like pneumonia.

If you know me at all you know that I am passionate about the work that World Vision is doing globally to combat dire poverty and injustice. One of the ways that World Vision is working is by aiding mothers and babies by providing essential items such as blankets, diapers, soap, and baby-care education classes and support. Mothers and babies being helped by World Vision are overcoming odds, and are surviving and thriving because of items we so often take for granted.

How many of you out there own a Thirty-One bag? I have two that I LOVE: a utility tote that I use when I travel, and a computer bag that I use every single day. Maybe a few of you reading this are Thirty-One consultants. If that’s you, then you already know your company has a great product.

But did you know that last year, Thirty-One Gifts generously matched $1,000,000 of Giving Tuesday donations to World Vision with product to be used in their programs?  Items like blankets are being provided to mothers and babies in some of the neediest areas of the world. Even in warmer places, keeping infants warm is essential to keeping them healthy, and can prevent pneumonia and other diseases.

Even better, this year on Giving Tuesday (November 29, 2016), any gift given to World Vision will be generously matched with a product donation from Thirty-One Gifts up to $2,000,000! That means that any donation you make will have TWICE the impact for helping families in need around the world.

By contributing generously to World Vision, you are helping real mothers like Margaret in Uganda. Margaret is nursing her nine-month-old daughter, Esther, who is sick with pneumonia. Esther has been sick for two weeks, having spent one week in the hospital.

giving-tuesday-blankets-uganda
Photo: ©2013 World Vision/photo by Sylvia Nabanoba

Apart from the medication that Esther is receiving, this swaddling blanket has become one of Margaret’s treasured possessions. “Whenever it gets cold, I wrap her in it so that she feels warm. Even after bathing her I put it around her so that the cold does not get through to her,” Margaret says. She explains that the nurse at the hospital told her that although pneumonia is caused by bacteria, it is exacerbated by exposure to the cold. She explains that it has been really cold lately because of the rainy season.

You’re also helping young mothers like Anxhela. At the age of 17, she was one Albanian mother who longed for help as she prepared for the cold winter weather. Her family had recently been displaced from where they had set up their makeshift shelters. The land was not theirs so when the owner returned, they were forced to abandon their shelters, their possessions, their jobs, their routines, and everything familiar.

giving-tuesday-blankets-albania
Photo: ©2014 World Vision/photo by Klevisa Breshani

Anxhela delivered her first son, Gersi, only three months before she and her husband lost their home and were forced to move to the Transitional Emergency Center. “It was chilly and the room we live in is very humid,” she explains. “The clothes I received, for my son, for me, [for] my husband, and the blanket for the baby really helped,” she says.

I recently wrote out my Christmas shopping list. I get so excited about shopping for the people I love. I love to give gifts that tell someone, “I love you, and I’m glad that you’re in my life.” But as I analyze and evaluate the gifts I want to purchase for people, none of them are really necessities. I give gifts as tokens of my love, but nothing that I give to the people on my list is going to help them survive another day.

Buy by adding a New Mother and Baby Kit to the gift-buying list this year, gift giving can become life giving.

I’d like to invite you into a bigger story; a story of great compassion, justice, and joy. Consider partnering with me to invest in the well-being and survival of mothers and babies across the globe. While many items we give and receive this year will one day rust, break, wear out, or be forgotten, the lives changed by our willingness to step in the gap for these women and their babies will leave a lasting legacy.

The Words That Changed My Life

I love words. Writing words. Reading words. Speaking words. Sharing words.

We can’t touch words. We can’t taste or smell them. Words are intangible, and yet they are so powerful that books have been burned for the words written in them, and people have been burned for the words they have spoken.

Words are dangerous.

Lately I’ve been thinking about Jesus’ words.

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again:  as a writer I  pray that my words move people. But Jesus’ words move oceans.

In the early moments of my morning today I sat down at my desk with my coffee, and opened my Bible to the book of John. John was a friend of Jesus, and wrote an eye-witness account of what he had seen. In John 18 we read that Jesus had been betrayed, and soldiers came to take him away. Jesus asked them who they were looking for, and when they told him, Jesus said, “I am he.” Anyone within earshot of Jesus’ words would have instantly recognized that he wasn’t just saying, “I’m the guy you’re looking for,” but was actually saying, “I am the God of the universe. I am the maker of the sea, and the giver of the breath you are breathing.”

Three words spoken by Jesus literally knocked the soldiers off of their feet. When they regained their composure Jesus calmly asked again, “Who are you looking for?” They again told him, and Jesus said, “I am he, so leave these men alone.”

As much as we sometimes prefer the docile version of Jesus (read: Jesus looking angelically to the sky,  and snuggling lambs), Jesus is not weak. When He speaks it is powerful and authoritative.

In his newest book Chase The LionMark Batterson puts it this way:

If you reverse-engineer the history of time, every atom in the universe can trace its origin back to the four words by which God spoke everything into existence: “Let there be light.” According to the Doppler effect, those four words are still creating galaxies at the outer edges of the universe.

My life has been wrecked in the best possible ways as I’ve poured over words spoken by The Logos Himself. 13 years ago I made a decision to follow Jesus and to be baptized. That is when everything changed. God spoke into my darkness and said, “Let there be light.” Since that day His words are still creating newness in the farthest reaches of my soul.

That God loves you, my friend. Whether or not you know or believe that right now does not negate the truth of it. And while I do not pretend to know all of the answers, one thing I do know is that I am undeniably and eternally changed by the Word of God. There is beautiful power in His word.

So that Bible that is sitting on a shelf collecting dust…open it today. If you really want your life to be changed. If you really want the answers to the questions you are asking, start digging in. Ask God to show up and reveal Himself to you. Start with just a few verses if you must. Journal. Ask questions. Join a small group to hash out your thoughts with. The promise is this: God’s word will accomplish powerful things in the hearts of those who are bent on receiving it.

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley