A Realization

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It’s officially been one week since I left Nicaragua. One week since I’ve heard the constant beauty of the Spanish language, since I walked the streets of broken and brave people finding joy in every moment, since I saw the Lord do the miraculous because hearts were willing and faith was flowing. One week since 150,000 people filled Plaza De La Fe in the heart of Managua to hear a Word that would change their nation forever.


In the last 7 days, my body, my mind, my relationships, and my heart have been in chaos, to the point where I felt like I was drowning.

It took me WAY too long to figure out what was going on. I almost allowed myself to get fooled into thinking it was just an off week, a symptom of jet lag, or a “random happenstance”. After my time in Nicaragua, I knew this couldn’t be the case.

It wasn’t until this morning, in a tear-filled conversation with my mentor, that it clicked. I was under spiritual attack. Wouldn’t it be great if I came back from this incredible trip, after our team kicked demons out of people, watched limbs heal in front of our eyes, felt tendons move at the name of Jesus, saw hope restored in someone’s heart, saw a nation change in a day, and forgot about it all in a sea of forgetful hopelessness? That’s how the enemy works: no new tricks. His main goal is always to have us get distracted, forgetful, and have us question: “Did God really say/do…?” Oldest trick in The Book.


So this is me, putting my foot down. I have a lettering next to my bed that reads “Be the kind of woman that when you wake up in the morning, the devil says, ‘Crap, she’s up!'” In the Bible it says that the devil is under our feet, that the war is won, I am more than a conqueror, and God is for me.


So, like the beautiful Nicaraguans I had the honor of being with for a week, I will choose joy, come what may. I will surrender. I will worship. I will pray. I will remember. I came back stronger, with new eyes and a new agenda. I will never forget what God did in Nicaragua this time last week. The people praising, singing, weeping, praying, overflowing with love, gratitude, and joy, even in the midst of sorrows and woes. A whole nation fell to it’s knees before God and declared hope, restoration, and strength in the name of Jesus, proclaiming a new and better future.

It is only just beginning, and I refuse to allow the attacks on my soul to pull me under. I am not drowning. Though a heavy storm may be about me, I will stay steadfast and keep my heart secured to the only One who can keep me afloat.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast…” – Hebrews 6:19

I pray that this next week I walk with eyes wide open, ready and prepared for whatever lies ahead.

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Falling in Love With a Nation

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Today we had a chance to see the beauty of the land in Nicaragua. We had a “free day” where we got to go see a few sights, explore, and let our weary souls have some fellowship and joy-filled moments with our fellow team members. Needless to say, Nicaragua is truly beautiful, and full of natural wonders and wonderful people. The food is amazing, the land is stunning, the climate unruly and oddly playful.

I heard a woman tell me today, “Nicaraguans have a saying: ‘No one who visits Nicaragua leaves without falling in love with this country.'” I was warned that Nicaragua has a way of stealing hearts before I came, and now I can testify to that sentiment.

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Tomorrow is the big day. The day where Nicaragua comes together as a nation and is given the gospel message, a word of faith and hope, and ministry by our incredible team. If you could keep this gorgeous country in your prayers, and stand with us in faith tomorrow for the transformation of Nicaragua, we would greatly appreciate it.

Nicaragua has rooted herself in my heart, and I will never forget her people, her land, or her spirit. This nation has a strong heartbeat, longing for change and seeking hope and light. It shines brightly because its people are so loving, open, and strong. I cannot wait to see what God will do tomorrow!

For Such a Time as This

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Today, I hit my emotional limit. I literally reached a point where I could no longer cry.
And not because everything was bad – far from it. However, my emotional capacity was stretched to its maximum. If you know me, your jaw is on the floor and you’re trying to figure out what that even looks like, because I feel EVERYTHING very deeply, with as much enthusiasm as the energizer bunny on steroids.

But today, I just stopped.

I wish I could go into detail about every encounter today, but I just don’t have the energy. You’ll just have to ask me over coffee and I know the Lord will bless you with the stories I have to share. However, I can share what God was showing me throughout this entire ordeal: Nothing happens on accident. Not a single thing. God ordained today specifically for the events that occurred. He has placed the right people in the right place for such a time as this.

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You know when you’re pushing on something you know is about to break? That feeling of final resistance before a flood breaks through? That’s what today felt like.

And I know I was exactly where I needed to be. Something happened today that only I could speak to. A young girl who dreamed of serving the Lord with her specific gifts, a group of girls heeding the words of God over their lives, a man on the brink of taking his life in a very public way – all people who needed to hear what God had redeemed me from and how He has freed me and given me new life. All the Christianese… but honestly Jesus took my life and since then nothing has been the same. My story has altered beyond anything I could ever hope or imagine. And the people I met today in Nicaragua needed to hear about the struggles and triumphs of my life. People halfway across the world! My mind can’t even wrap itself around that.

So I won’t try.

Instead, I will sit here in peaceful meditation, utterly spent, trying to fully process this incredible day that only confirms that God has me right where He wants me.

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We have been created for such a time as this. I saw a very similar thread throughout everyone I got to meet and talk with on the new team I was with today. Everyone had similar stories – very specific struggles they had triumphed over through the Lord, and He would bring people with the exact same struggles before them for prayer, healing, encouragement, and hope.

Miracles occurred. Divine appointments beyond anything I could ever imagine took place. We said goodbye to our translators who have become like family. As a media professional who hopped between groups, I got to know a fair amount more of the translators than other missionaries. And I hate goodbyes.


I know these beautiful people, too, were created for such a time as this. They are the leaders of the new Nicaragua that they will see take shape after this week. They and all the school kids we have met with are the future of this beautiful country, and they are placed here for a purpose to propel this country forward into Nicaragua Brilla.

The time is now. The world needs what you have, and someone around you could be seeking the answers you’ve already fought to receive. Look around, look around, we all have stories to share and encouragement to give to those around us. Let us not take our life for granted and waste time trying to be “enough”. Your story, your life, your joy is already enough. God can change the course of someone’s life – even whether or not they die that day – because of your story and your willingness to share it. Nothing is an accident. Everything we endure will be used by God to shape someone’s future.

Signing off, so I can replenish my soul for tomorrow’s work. There is much left to be done.

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Let Your Light Shine

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One of the perks of being a media professional is that I get to travel around with different teams every day, and most of these people I have never met.

I often describe people like this: Each person is their own galaxy of information, personality, quirks, desires, dreams, talents, skills, and history. There is so much to know about any one person it would fill a library with volumes upon volumes. This is why I love meeting new people so much – it’s like looking at the stars. Every night, you see something different and there is always more to discover.

Today, I was surrounded by estrellas.*


A majority of our teams are grouped according to their churches, especially in our hotel in Managua. However, Squad 4, the squad I had the honor of being with today, was made up of several different churches from across the world. We visited 4 different ministry sites, and I was astounded by the unity shown to me through this team. It was as if they had known one another forever, tracing the constellations in one anothers lives effortlessly as they partnered to share the gospel and pray over the Nicaraguans at every stop. The translators, the team members, the squad leaders. Every one of them had so much to give, so much joy, and truly showed a willingness to step up to the plate whenever they were needed.

I also got to glimpse the beauty and complexity of the Nicaraguan people. Every stop had new encounters that have bound me to this country forever.

I met three girls today that took my heart, and I will never forget them.

First was Chalo, a 10 year old energetic ball of stardust that spoke better English than most adults I know, and squealed with joy any time I said anything in her language. She had dreams wild and crazy, asking me millions of questions and translating for her best friend, Ashely. They sat together the whole time the team performed and Chalo participated in the Brilla skit (more on that later). Her dream was to be a singer “just like Anna.” Cue melting heart.

During ministry time, Ashley and I made eye contact and I knew the Lord had something for her. I called her over, tears already in her eyes from the dramas we performed and the message that we shared. I asked her what was going on in her heart, and with tears streaming down her face she tells me of the brokenness in her home and the struggle she sees her uncle go through as his wife takes the kids and leaves. Ashley can hardly bear the weight of these adult issues, her huge heart wanting to help her uncle through this suffering. I shared my story with her, and prayed over her. After prayer, her hug was tight, yet free. She looked as if a giant rock had been lifted from her, and she looked at me with intent eyes as I encouraged her to hold on to faith, keep loving, and stay in prayer.

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I figured I was done interacting for the day and would focus on photos.

And then God laughed.

The second site had an impact that has changed my life, and I will never see the world the same.

After the dramas and the message, we went into ministry time. I went to take photos of one of our team members, Alex, and this little girl, Paola. I waved “hola!” and Alex asked her if he could pray. Without any more words, this 6 year old little girl burst into tears and wrapped her arms around his neck. I forgot about taking photos.

Her mother was in Spain, working and sending money back to her two children here in Nicaragua while they stayed with their school teacher. Paola missed her mom. That was it. She missed her mom a lot, and couldn’t stop crying while we prayed for her and comforted her. We brought her brother over and as soon as we mentioned his mom he also started crying. We hugged them, prayed for them, hugged them some more, and they finally stopped crying enough to play some games and read one of our children’s booklets we were handing out. I don’t know how long Paola and I sat there, reading together and teaching one another bits and pieces of the other’s language, but it felt like hours. All too soon it was time to leave. I think we exchanged at least 20 hugs before I finally boarded the bus to leave, my heart aching and leaving a piece behind. Her face was bright with joy, a smile glued to her face and her demeanor much more upbeat. Paola swore to look for me at the event on Saturday, and I gave her one last hug, praying comfort over her as I left.

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Then it was my turn to lose my composure and sob in the rickety bus on the way to the next location. I couldn’t understand why my heart hurt so much, until I remembered why I hate short term missions. I felt like I was abandoning her all over again, and prayed to God that she would not attach herself to the idea of all those she loves leaving her. I expressed this to a team member who saw my tears, and in all his wisdom, Eric reminded me of the power of prayer, the light inside us that we carry, and the hope of unconditional love. “You were the mother to her for a few moments that she hasn’t had in months. That’s a tremendous blessing.” God is a good God, and each site afterward was filled with dancing, joy, and memorable encounters that lifted my heart from the deep.

Paola’s light shone so brightly I couldn’t help but ache when it left. But I will always remember her, and remember her smile, her love, and her laugh. We get one chance to impact just about everyone we meet. Some of them will re-enter our lives, some will spend weeks, months, years, and even decades by our side, and some we may never see again. But if we always fear their or our own sorrow, we will never touch anyone.

In our Brilla skit, we ask a child to come up and tell us what makes them shine. A talent, a skill, a dream. And they must fight off several obstacles, including insecurity and fear to reach their dream. Our team prefaced the skit by saying, “Nicaragua shines because of each person who bears light in it. Nicaragua shines because you shine. What is your light?”

We all have light inside of us – billions of stars worth of it. God created each of us with something that only we can do. We are the only one who can fulfill our calling. There is space in this vast universe only we can fill. There are people only we can encourage, pray for, love, and lead to Jesus. In order to find our light, to fulfill that calling, we must be open to whatever Jesus asks us to do. Practically speaking, for my life, that means seeing God’s will and desire for every single day that I exist. I don’t want to miss a thing that He has for me, because I don’t know who I am called to impact that day. I can’t be afraid of the pain, the risks, the failures, or the judgement. The only thing I should fear is not giving all of myself to this thing called life.

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The world can’t wait for me to get my act together, or yours. It needs hope NOW. It needs love NOW.

My heart is in Nicaragua; I may never get it back, and that’s okay with me. The people here have a light strong enough to draw me back to it whenever I need it.

* estrella = spanish for “star”

A Servant Heart

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Today I got the wild opportunity to shadow and photograph the medical squad at one of the free medical clinics in Managua. We rode together at 8am to the location, prepping the clinic and beginning in a moment of fervent and faith-filled prayer. To be honest, I started the morning in a skeptical mood. The clinic was indoors, which meant fluorescent lighting (every photographers worst nightmare…), no opportunity for an external flash, and window glares from the hot sun outside. I scanned the venue for possible light sources, disappointed in the prospects. Needless to say, my attitude needed adjusting. So the Lord sent me outside to photograph the line, and we ran into some very enthusiastic children and a woman desperate for prayer. This woman, names Ophelia, begged me in Spanish for prayer for provision. She owed money on her home and her three children were with her in line. Her only other request was a whole Spanish bible, as she only had the New Testament.

My world shifted.

She didn’t even ask for money. Just prayer for provision and faith to believe the Lord would bless her with it, as well as a whole Bible. I picked from my whole shelf of bibles before deciding I would just buy a travel sized one at the nearest LifeWay store in Denver.

And here she was, in tears to lay hands on the fullness of God’s Word.

I motioned to a translator for assistance, and his prayer of faith over her was so powerful we were all crying by the end and she gave me a warm embrace. I had no Spanish bible for her, but we will be giving out bibles at the event on Saturday so I gave her a flyer with the info and said “biblia!” since that was all the Spanish I could manage. She embraced me even harder and declared “Dios de bendiga” (God bless you) I saw her later in the day, and her children wrapped their little arms around my legs and neck. She gave me her phone number and wants to see me at the event on Saturday. I pray our paths may cross again.

Her heart showed me so much about humility and ardent faith. A hardworking momma, seeking after not the material, but the things of the Spirit. And the Lord chose me in my foolishness and arrogance to witness her purity of heart and dedication to the Lord and her family.

The rest of the day would be full of humbling moments like this.

The medical team we got to capture on our cameras is filled with some of the most incredible people. I wish I could have gotten all of their stories. However, a part of me was still pre-occupied with getting good shots and making sure we fulfilled our shot list. So God decided to grind me to another halt and dip my feet into a new perspective once again.

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I walked out of the lunch room back into the clinic and turned to find a woman singing praises to the Lord in Spanish after the amazing Adeline had prayed over her. Now Adeline does not mess around when she prays. She carries her anointing oil everywhere and declares boldly the promises of God over people, even if they only wanted prayer for a migraine. She will give you that and 100x more than you ask because she believes in the power of prayer, the importance of our words, and she wasn’t letting a single moment go to waste when she was out praying. This woman she prayed over filled with joy and let herself sing out in the middle of this medical clinic, rejoicing in the Lord and causing those around her to rest in the presence of God that soon covered the room. It was a precious moment, and again I choked back tears.

Rest and water, hydrate and then go at it again was next on my agenda. And the Lord saw fit to interrupt again. The members of the medical team had stories to share, and my media counterpart, Kaye, was all about it. I however, wanted to get back to the mission (or so I thought it to be) of the media team. Something in my spirit told me to stay and hear their stories. To sit at the feet of people who’s whole lives revolve around helping people in the most tangible way possible, meanwhile usually neglecting their own interests and desires for the sake of their patients, clients, and even us, the tag-along media team.

Servant leadership with servant hearts, pouring out in the dense humidity and surprising splash-n-dash rainstorm, bowing their knees to the King of Kings and the assignment He has on their lives.

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The Lord is stripping away my edges. He is bathing me in humbling moments, reminding me what I am here for. He is changing my perspective, revealing Himself to me and His purposes. His heart for a nation is seen so clearly in their beautiful eyes, the young faces  of their littlest babies and the wizened gazes of their elderly. The smiles, the laughter, the gratitude, the servant hearts and humble approaches to every chair in that clinic.

All the glory be to the Lord, for these marvelous medical professionals offering their services, expertise, and love to a people grateful to receive it. This team showed Nicaragua the hands and feet of Jesus, and the people of Nicaragua showed us their huge heart and incredible faith. These are the children of God, the image bearers and Shalom makers of the Kingdom. It was an absolute honor to be among them today.

Miraculous Mondays

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It’s not every day that you see a father clutch his child close and whisper hope over her life.

It’s not every day that you see hundreds of children make a decision to be a part of something greater than themselves, let alone think past lunch time.

It’s not every day that you stare into the face of the future of a nation and realize their destiny can be changed and their life can make an impact.

It’s not every day that you see a scar-ridden, tatted, sinister looking gang banger reduced to tears on his bicycle, vowing to surrender his old ways to a new life.

It’s not every day that you see a face half paralyzed healed by a word and a touch.

It’s not every day that the presence of God touches a nation divided and unites denominations under the banner of grace.

It definitely has not been your average Monday – and I pray to never have one of those again. Because the Lord is calling us to a new level, a new perspective. To see Him work like this everywhere we go, every single day. Miracles should be expected where the Lord manifests His presence, and His presence dwells within us, the temple (lit. holy of holies) of His Spirit. The power of the living God who raises death to life is within each of us who call on Him, and these kind of encounters ought to flow through our mundane Mondays and moments. If we would let go of fear, ask the Holy Spirit to fill us, and allow His glory to seep through the cracks of our weaknesses, we could watch someone’s world literally change in our hands.

A whole generation of young people are witnessing the power of God in Nicaragua. One day, future generations will hear the stories of these signs and wonders, the pre-cursors to a national transformation that will trigger a ripple throughout all of Central America.

Pay attention,
Nicaragua brilla!

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Changing the World is Never Convenient

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History in the making. An auditorium filled with 2800 missionaries from 33 countries, a loud roar filling the stadium as people proclaimed with their voices the faith rising in their hearts. Surrounded on all sides by men and women of God, committed to seeing the impossible made possible through the works of their hands and the willingness in their hearts. Souls stirred by speakers and worship, proclaiming the promises of God over a nation many of us have never stepped foot in.

Then, a sentence and sentiment uttered, offered as a challenge and a mantle to be taken up by the room: “Changing a nation is never convenient.”

I will be honest, I’m completely baffled that God called me to this. And yet, there is no doubt in my mind that He did. Here I sit in Managua, in a hotel room prepping for the week ahead. I am here, on the ground, with an amazing team with hearts stretched wide to love fiercely and serve until we are utterly spent. Up until last night, I couldn’t understand why I was being brought on this trip. Camera in hand, I wandered the auditorium capturing moments and documenting history. I found myself in the balcony as thousands of voices raised in unison to declare “There is power in the name of Jesus to break every chain, break every chain, break every chain.”

Something broke within me.

I realized this has nothing to do with me. It has nothing to do with my qualifications, my level of understanding, my horrible Spanish, my over-analytical approach to life, or even how talented I am. This has everything to do with the power of Jesus that lives in me. It’s like in the movie “A Bug’s Life” when Hopper is giving what is now viewed as a speech on politics to his fellow grasshoppers:

“You let one ant stand up to us, then they all might stand up! Those puny little ants outnumber us a hundred to one and if they ever figure that out there goes our way of life! It’s not about food, it’s about keeping those ants in line.”

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When one person in the church recognizes the power living inside them, it causes a ripple effect, and the powers of darkness MUST flee. Can you imagine a church filled with people who know WHO lives inside them? But this kind of revolution requires self-sacrifice, and unleashing the power if Christ within us mandates a laying down of our own desires on the alter of transformation. In order to change the world, our own agenda and excuses must cease to exist. You can’t change the world when your own world refuses to change. We see this kind of sacrifice with every historical figure who made it into our studies (and now musicals!). “Why do you write like you’re running out of time?” They sacrificed sleep, personal dreams, relationships, etc. in order to be a part of something greater than themselves.

So this is my challenge this week: give all of myself to this mission. Lay down my own agenda, my opinions, my desires, my comfort, for the sake of this beautiful country that will shine to the rest of the world.

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Last night, there was so much unity in the room. 33 different cultures, thousands of different backgrounds and opinions, all uniting together for the sake of the gospel, all understanding the same concept of self-sacrifice for an idea that is greater than themselves. To spread the good news of Christ that releases freedom, joy, transformation, and love into lives once broken and in bondage to darkness. I know nothing else as powerful and uniting as the message of Christ in this world.

One day, future generations will hear of the brilliance of Nicaragua, and how 2800 willing souls from across the world laid down their lives to see Nicaragua changed for the better. Changing a nation is never convenient. Changing the world is never comfortable. Changing is worth it.

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“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

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Fail Forward

Failure is inevitable.

Let me say that again. Failure is inevitable.

I was raised with a “failure is not an option” mentality, and when you’re surrounded by that narrative, this truth can be doubly hard to accept. But if my first year out of college has taught me anything, it’s that failure should actually be embraced rather than escaped.

The truth of it is, failure is an indicator that we are leading a fulfilling life. When I was told “failure is not an option” what they were trying to say was “excellence is not an option.” Excellence and failure can actually coexist quite well. In fact, I would argue that they feed off of each other, needing one another to exist, but only on certain terms. This is where this lovely little catchphrase, “fail forward” comes in. I don’t remember where I first heard the phrase “fail forward”. All I know is that it stuck with me and has been a meditation of mine for about a year now.

When we inevitably fail in our attempts at our dreams, or even daily tasks, we are presented with three options:

1. Sit in the failure and self-deprecate in an attempt to avoid the possibility again
2. Ignore the failure and keep trying the same thing again and again with no success
3. Take failure in full stride, wear it on you like a fresh suit, and walk in the confidence that that particular failure will set you up for your next success

It’s all about how you interact with your failures, and whether or not you will own them and learn from them. In choir, I am admonished by my director to never make the same mistake twice, and in the same breath encouraged to make LOUD mistakes. Why? So we can move forward as an ensemble and grow together toward the goal of excellence. When you read a piece of music, and have a pencil in hand, you are expected in a professional group to mark your mistakes so you can look out for them, learn from them, and do that section better than the last pass. The goal is to be excellent, together.

Notice I did not say “perfection”. Because outside of God, perfection does not exist. We are human beings making human things, in a fallen world that is being reconciled but not fully perfected until Jesus returns. However, we are admonished as humanity to pursue excellence in all we do, meaning that we pursue the very best we are capable of at any given moment.

Excellence – /n./ the quality of being outstanding or extremely good. syn: brilliance, distinction, quality, greatness

Failing forward allows us to pursue excellence in light of our shortcomings. We are allowed to mess up because it sets the stage for excellence to be cultivated. You hear it all the time: great people who have achieved great things (Edison, Disney, Einstein, etc.) didn’t become great or excellent overnight. Many of them have their biggest failures on blast in history books for all to see, and yet none of them were defined by their failures due to one thing: their ability to fail forward. They didn’t let their failures pull them back into a complacent fearfulness about their potential. They used those failures as catapults for their next big dream, recognizing that greatness comes with time, patience, and a willingness to try a new thing again and again and again until growth is produced. Does that mean they never sat in their failure and moped? Definitely not. But they learned the art of failing forward more times than not, allowing themselves the opportunity to try again from a fresh angle.

This year I’ve already failed big in several areas: work, love, mommy-hood (my puppy is cuter than yours, paws down), finances, and friendship. But the difference has been a change of mindset. Late last year I realized that if I kept berating myself every time I screwed up, it took 1000000 times longer to get farther in said area. I had to pull back, reevaluate my heart, and recognize who God created me to be. Failing poorly is often a result of fear. Fear that we aren’t enough, that failure means we fall too short to used by God or succeed at anything. Fear that we will be laughed at, ridiculed, or proven “right” in our poor view of ourselves.

In this planner I got myself at the end of 2016, there is a page where you list your fears and respond with bible verses. The only way to attack fear and conquer it is to speak the truth. Our eyes get so easily clouded by the lies that we open ourselves up to, and the only way to clarity is to continually remind yourself of what is true, good, and lovely in this wonderful life of yours. The God who created you intended for you to rise above and accomplish good works for His glory (Ephesians 2:10), and the devil will do everything in his power to stop you from believing that. So, we must turn to Jesus and His Word, trusting that what He says about us is more right and true than our feelings or what other people have to say.

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Excellence will always be achieved if we allow ourselves the grace to fail, and fail big and fail forward. Failures can have the power to launch us into something greater and more unexpectedly marvelous than we ever imagined.

I decided to take a risk this year, even after all the ways I felt I had failed, and try something I thought would be a disaster. I participated in Disney’s Flashback production, and my, oh my, let me tell you: I failed big time at the start, and kept making huge mistakes throughout the process. However, I let those failures shape me, mold me, and challenge me to dig deeper into myself to pull out the excellence I knew was there. This last Thursday we closed our last show, and I have not felt that much pride and delight in a VERY long time. I remember even telling my fellow cast “I really don’t think I can do this” on several occasions.

But I did it anyway. I went for it anyway. I loved and worked and danced (ish…) and sang out anyway. And I’ve gained so darn much from that show that I will treasure. I met beautiful people that will no doubt be in my life for many years to come, I showed my department the talents I never felt comfortable sharing before, I took charge when I felt like hanging back and following along and saw those efforts pay off in a huge way. I also literally looked like a freaking Goddess while doing it (thanks, Bri! You makeup master, you.)

Muses.jpgThese ladies are some of the fiercest, most talented women I’ve ever met. That’s me in the center. I KNOW, right?? Bri is a magician with a makeup palette and a few wigs.

I’m not saying there will always be glamorous pinnacles and mountain top experiences for our failures, but I am saying that embracing failure and the risk of it as an inevitable outcome in life will set you up far better for success and fulfillment. So many people live life trying to avoid failure, and they wonder why they never get anywhere or aren’t being fulfilled. They are run by their fears, controlled by their emotional whims, and let down by their own mentality of “can’t” or “it’s not even worth it to try”. If you hear one thing today, let it be this: It’s ALWAYS worth it to try. I’ve given up looking graceful while trying to dance. I’ve given up sounding flawless the first time I try out vocal runs. I’ve ditched the idea that someday I will be perfect at these things I work toward. I’ve left behind the fear of looking silly or inept, because I know it’s bound to happen and it’s 100x worse in my head than other people’s hearts. No matter how big I fail, I am loved deeply by my Creator and there is nothing that can diminish my worth.

My prayer is that we may all find the grace within ourselves to let failure strengthen us rather than overtake us. Toddlers must fall hard on their bottoms before they are walking around like tiny drunk adults. My puppy needs to skid into the hutch a few dozen times before he remembers to slow down early to chase his ball across the kitchen floor. And I need to fall forward a few hundred times before I develop the strength to pursue all the wild, crazy dreams God has put into my heart.

Dreams and goals aren’t meant to stay on paper. They need to get off the page and try a few different looks on for size. They need to breathe and grow and stretch into reality bit by bit, allowing the “what ifs” to fan the flame rather than quench the fire. The people who accomplished huge lists of great things no doubt have an accompanying longer list of failures that got them there. You can’t change the world by hiding from the inevitable. Failure is an opportunity to grow upward and out of your present circumstances and become better.

You should dream so big that it scares you. Because you might actually do it, and it just might change the world. But you never know until you try. If you can find the courage to dream impossible dreams, then you’re one step closer to doing impossible things. Silence the voice of “can’t”. I’m here to ask you, “What if you can?”

A Lesson on Love in the Land of Loss


 Anyone who knows me longer than a few hours knows that I am someone who LOVES to LOVE: things, people, places, animals (especially CORGIS)… I am not ashamed to declare the things and people that I adore and passionately pursue them. Hugs are life-giving, and my hearts swells to give gifts and time to those I care about. I know I’m not very good at it most days (the human heart is selfish and vain), but I thrive on learning how to do it better. However, on my recent trip to Israel I made a self-discovery that has unsettled me since my return: as much as I love love, it takes me far too long to open myself up to it and extend it to new things and people. You may be thinking, “Well yeah, Anna, but it’s totally fine to take time and get out of your shell! You’ve been hurt before, it’s only wise to hold back until you are comfortable.” And yet, my heart is unsettled by the fears and insecurities that often block my ability to love and connect with people at first meeting. Just because something is considered “normal” doesn’t mean it’s a good thing. 

My trip to the Holy Land has so many facets to it, it would take hours to fully immerse you in all that I learned there. There will be pages to write and songs to sing and stories to tell, but for now I know there must be one focus: moving forward in how to love well. I want to always be ready and available to connect with, love on, and serve others immediately without fear of rejection or “propriety.” You’ve got one chance to make a first impact on people, and I never want to be held back by fear. The friends I made on this trip didn’t solidify until the last four days, and I know I had it in me to dig deeper sooner had I not allowed fear and insecurity dominate my thinking the first few days. I am the queen of over-analyzing, and I met people on this trip who took that for a spin and taught me that sometimes you need to let go of logic and trust in the God who brought you to where you are and has promised to be with you wherever you go.

Israel has suffered so much loss over the centuries. They are in a position of great conflict, scrutiny, and controversy, and yet they open their arms wide to visitors seeking clarity and understanding. One night we stayed in a Bedouin camp in the desert (much like one that Abraham would have lived in). They had one policy regarding visitors: you are like family the moment you arrive, and trust isn’t gained it’s only lost. You are only booted if you do something blatantly disrespectful to your hosts, otherwise you are trusted and loved until proven otherwise. It’s an “innocent until proven guilty” mindset that most Westerner’s don’t adopt very easily. I was raised to be suspicious and critical of most everything, including (and most prominently) people’s intentions, therefore halting any immediate desire to love on them until they prove themselves worthy or deserving of it. This negative approach stems from years of hurt and failed relationships.

Makes sense to put up walls, right? But the Bible tells a different story: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. While the people around Him spat in His face on Golgotha and sentenced Him to death, Jesus turned to the Father and pleaded: “Forgive them, they know not what they do!” Even this stubborn land of Israel who has denied and turned against God time and time again, God fulfilled every promise He ever gave them, and continues to do so on a daily basis. This country shouldn’t exist: every surrounding country wants them wiped out, the world gives in to the BDS propaganda and pressures Israel to bend in every direction, the land itself should be barren and dry like their neighbors. And yet, it THRIVES. Because God promised them He would return them to their land, and that they would be a blessing to the world and thrive in their territory. These promises have been fulfilled after centuries. And the Jewish people have directly cursed God and spat in His face. But His love is so great and His identity so secure that He doesn’t need who He loves to love Him back in order to bless them and keep His word.

If I’m supposed to be like Christ, then I, too, need to adopt that mindset. In Christ my identity is found, and from that place of safety and security I can have the freedom to love as big and loud as I am capable, without the fear of failure to drag me down. Because even if I fail, His grace is sufficient for me to move forward in confidence. If He is the keeper of my heart, then I never have to fear heartbreak. He binds up the broken-hearted and is near to those who are in pain. With Him as my healer and comforter, I have no reason not to take big risks and love deeper than ever before.

I don’t want to get to the end of my life and think, “I wish I would have done _____ sooner.” This life is too short to be stingy with the love and light God has placed inside each and every one of our sweet souls. This world is too big and too wonderful to have fear hold us back from what we can discover and whose life we can change. There is a deep darkness over this earth, and the only way to dispel any of it is to let our light shine as brightly as it was created, without any filter or shade to dim it.

I’ve been reading this great book by Bob Goff called Love Does, and this quote perfectly sums up why this is so important for me to embed in my soul:

“Being engaged is a way of doing life, a way of living and loving. It’s about going to extremes and expressing the bright hope that life offers us, a hope that makes us brave and expels darkness with light. That’s what I want my life to be all about – full of abandon, whimsy, and in love.”

When this world makes us sick

 

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Tonight, one of the YouTube artists I have watched grow for 6 years and become a star, Christina Grimmie, has died after being shot 3 times by an unidentified man while signing autographs after a concert. As a musician and someone considering a career in the performing/recording industry, this strikes more than one anxious nerve and deeply felt grief center in my soul. Words cannot adequately express how shocked, horrified, angry, and sad this news is. Above all, my heart is with her family and loved ones in the midst of this tragedy. She was only a year younger than me.

I am sitting alone in my room, shaking at the thought of this senseless evil. A woman so full of love, kindness, and deep devotion to her Lord Jesus. I never met her, and I know I never saw the full her, but from watching her videos and the way we both saw the world and music, I felt connected to her. My one recurring thought: how? How have we reached this point as a society? The last thing I want to do or that anyone else should do is politicize this. But it does beg the question on multiple levels (not just political) of how we have arrived at this point. Morals, security, violence, anger, divisiveness, pride, allowing evil to persist, making compromises with culture and fads, etc. Every tragedy prods at the deep questions of our humanity, and puts pressure on the tension we face every day about good and evil.

The one thing Christina was always vocal about, the only point of contention I have seen in her career, is her faith. And for that, she will always be one of my biggest inspirations and role models in the music industry. She not only spoke about it, she lived it. Anyone who ever met her raved about her kindness and her genuine heart. Those close to her celebrated her love for the Lord, and she consistently stayed true to that love with her words and actions, being one of the most vocal yet non-sensationalized Christians I’ve seen in the music world for a while.

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That’s the legacy she leaves. Of dedication, faith, and pursuit without compromise of what you’re called to do on this earth. Her example will live on, and I will always treasure the impact she has had on me as a Christian and a musician.

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When the world makes us sick and we cannot fathom how the darkness has spread, the worst thing to do is give up. You cannot combat darkness with more darkness (anger, envy, revenge…). Instead, we must seek to combat the darkness with light. I would like to use one of Christina’s songs as an example:

“When I’m down and I’m done,
And I’m coming unplugged
When I’m ready to fall
You’re the one always holding me up
With love”

If we want to fight the sickness of evil, we must be the antidote: love. And the only way to know how to love in spite of the darkness is to find the source of life, truth, and never-ending love: Jesus. Because all other attempts at perfect love fall short. He is the true embodiment of sacrifice, selfless love, and truth.

In the words of her favorite hymn that she sang for Easter:

In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fullness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

Through the fiercest drought and storm, through the darkest times in life when nothing makes sense, stand on the Rock that is Jesus. Seek out the hope that is in God. I can’t say I know for sure, but I would wager Christina Grimmie would want hearts to open to God during this tragedy and seek Him and His unfailing love when the world seems too dark to handle. One of her most emotional songs from her second record might be worth a listen if you’re finding it hard to breathe in the midst of all of this. We cry out to Him in times of sorrow, and need His guidance, strength, and love to navigate the deep waters that fill this earth. Seek love, not hate. That is the most powerful antidote to the cruelty and violence threatening to overpower this world. Share your love without restraint. Fight with love, battle with kindness, and never, ever give up. Stay strong, frands, and remember her with love. \|/

Please keep her family and friends in your prayers. I can’t even imagine what they are going through. Until the Heaven, Christina…

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