Thursday, October 29, 2015


Photo Credit: Hillsong Church Facebook Page
I sat, arms crossed, body language closed.  I wasn't waiting in expectation.  I wasn't tuned in.  I was going through the motions.  Outwardly, playing it cool - inwardly completely destroyed by weariness.

It's amazing how you can sit in a room, surrounded by 10,000 other people, and feel like you are the only one.  The only one that struggles.  The only one that questions.  The only one that doubts.  I am living a life that more than half this world would only dream of living - yet, I sit, wondering if God still sees me.

That morning, I went through the motions of worship, maybe one measly hand up, maybe my eyes closed once or twice - searching for connection.  Wondering if He would meet me in my brokenness.  When the last note played I knew I was the one standing between He and I, between the unified Spirit I was longing for.  He whispered, "Surrender," I screamed, "No."  "My child, my daughter - Surrender."  I, with my sarcastic tone and my defiant spirit unfurled, "I will surrender only if he, the speaker, Brian Houston, lays his hands on me and anoints me himself."  You see, it wasn't a challenge.  It wasn't even a test.  It was a statement made in complete and utter brokenness and unbelief.  I threw my words out with no anticipation that it may even happen.  Because, really, that would mean that God - the Creator of the Universe - actually heard me.  I was beyond believing that.

Within minutes, as he stood on stage and began to speak of God's goodness...he stopped.  His head bowed, his eyes closed, his voice spoke.  "Are there people here tonight, people in ministry, who are weary..."  My head dropped, my eyes closed, my tears fell.  "Are you tired, worn down, jaded..."  The flood gates opened.  My shoulders shook, my eyes formed rivers, my body felt weak.  "If you are weary, and worn down and jaded would you make your way up to the stage..."  I felt gentle hands from friends push me forward, no idea how I would even be able to take steps.

I stood in front of 10,000 people, with many other weary, worn out and jaded travelers beside me, completely broken.  The depths of my brokenness poured out in physical form.  I could hardly stand.  I certainly couldn't stop sobbing.  I fought hard to control it all, not really wanting anyone to see the real, broken me standing there.  But my spirit made way to surrender.  And in that moment, I felt the biggest, most gentle, loving hands placed on my head.  It startled me at first, wondering if it was God himself in human form touching me but instead, it was he.  Brian.  Brian Houston.  The one person I mocked God in delivering an anointing I was sure wouldn't come.  But God - the Creator of the Universe - even in all of my defiant rambling and unbelieving words - pierced the Heavenly atmosphere to lay hands on a broken girl needing to know that her Father sees her still.  That even in my weariness, my worn out-ness, my jadedness - He sees me still.  "You were not meant to carry this burden, is mine to bear." "But you called me to this place, how could you have picked me?  I am so, so broken."  "That is why I have called you, my daughter.  I work best through broken things."

In a world filled with billions of people, you can still feel alone.  Unseen.  That is the Enemy's plan, you see.  Isolate.  Separate.  Deceive.  Destroy.  How many of us walk this road anticipating trials but never anticipate loneliness or weariness?  We begin believing his lies, wondering if we are, in fact, walking this alone - forgetting the footsteps walking right beside us.

"In this world you will have trouble..." it says, "...but take heart."  TAKE HEART!  Keep going.  Don't look back.  Don't sit down.  Don't take a break.  TAKE HEART.  Rest in Me.  Wait on Me.  Find peace in Me.

Not my plan, Father, Yours.
Believe in the unbelievable.
See the invisable.
Walk the narrow.
Love the unloveable.

Surrender.  Something happened when I surrendered.  I danced.  My hands have never lifted higher.  My eyes have never cried harder.  My smile has never been bigger.  I wasn't going through the motions.  I saw my God.  He saw me.  I praised Him.  I thanked Him.  I worshipped Him.  I surrendered.
"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives
    and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
    and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor."   -Isaiah 61:1-3
In this world, surrender leads to bondage and imprisonment.
In His world, Surrender leads to freedom.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Are you really Pro-Life?

On Saturday, two young men - ages 18 and 19 - were executed in an area nearby.  Our community was a hive of activity following the shooting.  People came from all around to go look at the bodies.  Police vehicles came and went.  Mike was questioned a couple of times on his account. There weren't people screaming or crying.  Just two kids, laying in a field, being made into a mockery.

Later in the week we found an article in an online newspaper that stated people from the surrounding communities were celebrating the deaths of the boys.  These two "delinquents" were wanted in several murders that occurred during robberies to obtain weapons and motorcycles.  Many had been living in fear of these boys.  They seemingly had no conscience and only thought selfishly about themselves.

When the murders initially occurred, I had a seriously heavy heart for them.  We didn't know the background of the boys and I couldn't help but think of their mothers - what heartache.  When Mike was reading me the article I felt a sense of relief.  A relief that later struck me in a strange way.  Why was I feeling relief that two teenagers were executed?

I struggled for a time that day - not completely sure why I couldn't get them off of my mind.  I didn't feel fear or danger.  I didn't know them so I didn't feel a deep sense of loss.  Yet, I struggled.

It wasn't until this morning in my devotions that I felt God ask me a question and I knew it was pertaining to my struggle: "Are you really Pro-Life?" 

Let me start by saying, I am NOT going into politics here.  In fact, I do what I can to stay away from some really taboo subjects, but this question struck me so surprisingly that I knew God was really drawing my attention to it.

It is probably not a surprise to many people that I am Pro-Life.  I mean, I am dedicating the rest of my life to fighting for kids who are cast out, lost and abandoned.  I will be waiting expectantly to swoop in and care deeply for babies whose mother's have abandoned them.  In some respects, this work is a no-brainer for me.  I love children.  I think every child is a gift from God (despite the circumstances surrounding their conception or birth).  It doesn't take a lot of effort on my part to feel compassion for these children from the moment I meet them.

But what struck me this week, and about the question God proposed, was how I began to feel about the boys after I had learned of their delinquent activity.  I have felt a similar way when I heard of some child-molesting criminal being killed on death row.  I have caught myself saying in my head, "You got what you deserved."  And just now, reading that, it really, really disgusts me.

These two boys, although I will never condone their behavior, did not deserve death at the hands of someone playing High Judge.  Me saying that their life was only worth the horrible mess they got themselves into is a complete disgrace to the Living Gospel that I base my faith and life on.
"Then Jesus told them this parable: 'Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?  And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders  and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’  I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." -Luke 15:3-7 
We claim as Christians that Christ's love is for everyone but we rarely live that way.  Something happens to many of us once we begin our lives as a Christ follower; we forget the former road that led us to the Cross.  I was a sinner (and still am).  I was selfish and rebellious.  I was a very, very lost sheep.  But Christ found me.  He pursued me.  He won me over with His radical love for me.

This isn't a simple road.  We aren't going to wake up one morning and say, "I feel so much compassion for the man who killed my father."  We aren't going to be driving down the road and decide, "I've changed my mind.  I don't believe pedophiles deserve the death penalty."  Believe me, if there is any circumstance where I wrestle with God on who deserves death, it's with people that harm children.  We may have to plead with God to change our hearts to reflect His.  We will have to fight every fiber of our flesh because forgiveness and acceptance and unconditional love do not come easily to us.  But we have to understand that the Gospel is for all, not just those we think deserve it.  Because in reality, not a single one of us deserves the ransom Christ paid for us.

Jonathan Rafael Henríquez Bola and Junior de Jesús Rodríguez Pérez were lost sheep.  Our prisons are full of lost sheep.  Our workplaces are full of lost sheep.  Our families are full of lost sheep.  Sheep, that are of utmost importance to our Heavenly Father.  As Christ-followers, people are watching to see how we respond to all of these situations in our lives.  But you know what circumstances they are watching most?  The hard ones.  The struggles.  The difficult decisions.  The unpopular stances.  If we think Unbelievers are basing their opinion of Jesus on how we behave at birthday parties or at the gym or on work outings, we are sorely misguided.  They won't find Jesus while we are on our high-horses, or our condemning rants or our self-righteous proclamations.  They will find Him when we act like Him.  When we treat His precious children with compassion and love.

So I ask, "Are we really Pro-Life?"  Do we really believe every human life matters?  Because if we check our hearts and our hearts have conditions and rules about who deserves forgiveness and freedom - then we are showing this broken world a cheap version of the Gospel.

Not the Gospel that was paid for by our Savior's blood.

Friday, October 9, 2015

{Foodie Friday} Perfect Seared Chicken Breast and Cauliflower Rice

After posting this photo on Instagram, I got several requests for the recipe.  So rather than send a bunch of emails and messages, I'm posting it here.  This recipe was taken directly from the Whole30 cookbook.  This is not my own recipe.  Just want to make that clear :)

Perfect Seared Chicken Breasts
Serves 2
Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 13 to 19 minutes
Total Time: 16 to 22 minutes
2 portions skinless, boneless chicken breasts
(I doubled this so I had chicken for more meals that I only had to warm up)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons cooking fat (I used clarified butter in order to be Whole30 approved)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees

Season the chicken breasts on both sides with salt and pepper
In a large, oven-safe skillet, melt the cooking fat over medium-high heat, making sure to coat the bottom of the pan.  When the fat is hot, place the chicken top (rounded) side down in the pan and sear for 3-4 minutes.  (Don't touch it during this time so it gets a good sear!)  Your chicken should pull off the pan easily once you have a proper sear.  Using tongs, turn the chicken over, then put the entire pan in the oven to finish cooking.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken, until the internal temperature reaches 160 Degrees (F).

Cauliflower Rice
Serves 2
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 TBSP ghee or clarified butter
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 TBSP minced cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
To "rice the cauliflower, place the florets in a food processor and pulse into a rice-like consistency.    In a large skillet, melt the ghee (or clarified butter) over medium heat and coat the bottom of the pan.  When the ghee is hot, add the onion and carrot and cook, stirring, until the onion is translucent, 2-3 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook until the garlic and cook until the garlic is aromatic, about 1 minute.

Add the riced cauliflower to the skillet and mix thoroughly with the rest of teh vegetables.  Add the chicken broth, cover the pan with a lid, and steam until you've arrive at a rice-like consistency, 10-12 minutes.

Remove the pan from the heat and mix in the chopped cilantro.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

I also put tomato salsa on top for a little pop of color and added flavor.

Enjoy!  And happy cooking!!!