My Surrender Anniversary

Today is what I call my “surrender anniversary.” The story goes like this… as a young girl growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, my Mom brought my sister and I to church every Sunday (my Dad at that time didn’t want anything to do with “religion” at that time). So she was faithful in bringing us and when I was six years old, our pastor Jack came over to my house. His purpose was to tell me more about Jesus- that He died for me and that I was a sinner in need of a Savior. If I believed and accepted him, I would have eternal life and would be saved from a life spent in hell.

In that moment sitting in our living room, I remember it as clear as day and I accepted “Jesus into my heart” that day. I truly understood that God was Creator and that I had some sin issues (ie. I stole a few lollypops from Eckerds drug store). I needed him and I desperately wanted to go to Heaven. That day I truly believed.

BUT… still being so young and as I headed into my elementary and middle school years, I kept thinking I had to do “good” and that if I messed up, God would be mad at me. I didn’t quite get the relationship part. I’m pretty sure I rededicated my life about 10 times at youth camps and Sunday services.

High school came and I dabbled in a few things that were keeping me from having the life God wanted. There were sins blocking my path and I knew it. One summer as a sophomore, I took significant trips back to back (that my parents graciously gave to me) that were milestones in my life. One was to Frontier Ranch in Buena Vista Colorado with Young Life and one was to Panama City Beach, FL with my youth group. Both trips showed me so much about life and God. One night in Florida, a youth speaker at our conference spoke on “Surrender”. I had never heard the word and didn’t know much about it, but the words he was saying shot straight to the depths of my heart.

So I asked my pastor David and he explained it me like this, “It’s giving God everything in your life and letting him take full control. As if to say, I’m done. I surrender.” At that moment, I got it. I knew I didn’t have a surrendered life. Jesus was not LORD of my life (He was just there). But I wanted him to be. So that night I allowed God to take my mess and turn it into good. It’s not that I wasn’t saved or didn’t believe at age 6, it was just all a part of this process that God was doing. And it wasn’t like I was going to be perfect right away. God just knew what my heart’s desire was and He was going to help me in this idea of making him first in everything in my life.

That was June 16, 1998. The date is marked in pink in my Bible to this day. Every year, I try and take the day to reflect on what God did in my life and to see where I’ve come from. His grace changed my world and the lens in which I saw him. And today my love for him is wider, as I see all that I am not and all that He IS.

His grace extends to all of us, no matter where we’ve been. And his grace holds us for future things to come.

Thank you Lord, that you are an awesome God.

Get out Your Gifts

tightropeWhat would be the one thing you would do if you knew you wouldn’t fail? I was challenged with this question in college and for some reason I was reminded about it yesterday.

I think this question ties in with the gifts God has given us and how we choose to use them. So maybe it would better read, “What gifts that God has given you would you use, if you knew you wouldn’t fail?”

I’ve seen different gifts really shine in my community  group for example. There are five of us girls including me.

Ashley T.- She works as an Admin. Asst. for Josh McDowell and she’s gifted in administrative work. Yet she also has another side of her that explodes with creativity. She loves photography and has an eye for capturing life and beauty. She’s humble when she relates to people and easily makes friends.

Jen- is highly hospitable- she brightens days with home-made desserts and dishes. She put on a home-made spa night for us once with edible (yes!) spa treatments. She’s gifted in organization and at performing tasks. She works as a children’s nurse and has a heart for kids. She’s truly one of a kind.

Julia- You would never guess by meeting her that she makes six figures! She’s a Physician’s Assistant who spends a lot of solitude time in serious heart surgeries, yet she’s bubbly and loves meeting people. She’s an amazing artist, painter, and is skilled in crafts. She has a way of putting “life” into people with her contagious joy.

Ashley C.- She’s our world traveler as a flight-attendant for Southwest Airlines. She frequents Italy and other amazing places around the world. With the resources God has given her, she’s blessed our group with a free Time Share together, gifts from her travels, and free plane tickets. Ashley has the sweetest heart and is just plain fun to be around.

I’m so humbled to see my friend’s gifts at work and how they’re  being used for God’s glory. So my question to you and that I’m asking myself is, How are you using your gifts now to further God’s kingdom and what gift would you start using if you knew you wouldn’t fail?

Recap: Interviewing Christian Authors

img_8971img_8972img_8977This past weekend, I had the opportunity along with Marc McCartney to interview some really gifted writers at the Christian book expo here in Dallas. The questions in our interviews focused on small group ministry and what it looks like to put our faith into action. Each author answered the questions with their particular message and passion in mind. The interviews will go on and as free video training.

On Friday, our line-up was Andy Crouch (see 1st photo), Alex & Brett Harris (2nd photo), Max Lucado (3rd photo), Sue Edwards, and Dawn Herzog Jewell. On Saturday, we interviewed JI Packer, Kevin Leman, Jimmy Dorrell, Ron Hall, Denver Moore, Steven Arterburn, and Bill and Kathy Peel.

I helped with the Friday portion. It was great to hear from Andy Crouch about his passion in creating culture rather than criticizing it. He has some great insight in his book Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling.

I got to personally interview Alex and Brett Harris. You may initially know them from their brother, Josh Harris (Author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye). These guys were exactly what I thought they would be. Full of passion for this generation of teenagers and mature beyond their years. Their book Do Hard Things and the conferences they are putting on are encouraging teens to live above culture’s expectations. It was also neat to hear that the person with the greatest impact in their life has been their parents. I definitely figured that!

Max Lucado was a joy to meet as well. When he walked in the room, he had a smile on his face and was genuinely interested in who we were and what we were doing. He talked about how God can use ordinary people for extraordinary purposes and he helped define what “missionary” means in our culture today. He remembered all of our names at the end. I think every Christian on the planet knows who Max Lucado is so it was definitely an honor for him to offer his wisdom to us.

I also loved meeting Dawn Herzog Jewell, author of Escaping the Devil’s Bedroom: Sex Trafficking, Global Prostitution, and the Gospel’s Transforming Power. She answered questions as to how people can get involved in the heavy topic of sex trafficking and how God gave her the passion to write on the topic and inform others.

I’m really excited that each of these authors will be on and

Uprising back from the press

We just finished up the edits to a new video-driven study based off Erwin McManus’ book, Uprising: A Revolution of the Soul. The study has six sessions all dealing with how God wants to transform our character to be more like his. The whole kit is back from the press (I love that smell!) and it looks incredible. We’re really happy with how it turned out.

On the production team, we seek out real-life stories that fit with the teaching in the sessions. A certain story that was needed was facing courage/doing what is right in the midst of a major trial like a job loss. I pitched my husband’s story of losing his job for sharing his faith to our team and they ended up shooting our story together. It’s now in the Uprising kit.

Being almost two years out of that trial, it was easier to share the story (even though it did seem like we were reliving it somewhat) and be an encouragement to others. You can check out the trailer here (props to Phil). The guy in the salmon collared shirt talking with a patient near the beginning is my husband.

This may be a study you’re interested in and will want to check out.

Simply- He Knows Best

It’s hard to believe that in just under two months, our little baby boy will be in our arms. The way time has been going so far I know he will be here before we know it. In fact, we’re packing that emergency hospital bag this weekend.

I was just thinking last night about God’s timing in our lives and the way He works. We found out we were expecting just two weeks into my brand new job at Bluefish- talk about a surprise! I didn’t know exactly how everything would unfold and I honestly never even knew if we’d be able to conceive (I’m guessing it’s easy for women to wonder this since it’s something that’s never happened!). Jeremiah had fears about being a dad and the reality of growing up and I had my own. But now, all of that seems to be cast in the shadows. We’ve done less worrying about ourselves and our plans and have been more focused on what God is doing and how we can serve and invest in our child. We aren’t always perfect in this focus but it’s so freeing to know in our hearts that He is in control.

This is God’s precious life inside me. His plan. His sovereignty. His future. We have been given the task as parents to help mold and shape this life for God’s glory. What a task that is! And we will have to daily continue to trust in His plan when baby John arrives into this ever-changing world. I hope you’re encouraged that whatever God does in your life (even if it’s unexpected), usually His timing and plan is often far better than what you may have chosen for yourself.

Simply because He knows Best.

Billboards & Cotton Candy

I’ve really been thinking about culture’s influence on Christianity. When I drive home from work every day, billboards scream at me left and right (I don’t notice them in the morning because I’m just waking up). The “me’s” and the “you’s” shouting from the billboards make it difficult not to think about what I want or deserve. I guess I really do need an exotic vacation, a million dollars, and the perfect body.

Many pastors today preach right along with the billboards: “You can have it all now.” “Believe in yourself.” “God wants to bless you.” “God wants to make you rich.” The focus is drenched on man, but very little attention is upon God. This kind of teaching feels so good. It tickles my ears. I begin to think there really is so much greatness in me if I just tap into it. It even tastes like cotton candy but in the end, it bites me with a bitter, awful taste.

The truth is that living a life committed to Jesus Christ is far from this sugar-coated mentality of “Jesus wants to bless me and I am so great.” True Christianity calls me to a life of surrender (giving away my life), sacrifice, hardship, humility, loss, pain, and more. Yes, God does promise blessing and joy when I live life in Him and I am the first to say I experience his fullness every day, but he also tells me that above all else my heart is deceitfully wicked and apart from Him, I can do nothing.

This message is very conflicting with the message we hear in culture and even in churches today. And I might be lucky if I catch these words on a billboard. I have to constantly examine what my eyes and ears are taking in and line it up with Scripture.

Do you think many churches are teaching a false gospel? How has cultured shaped your view on true Christianity?

Remembering Dr. Jerry Falwell

Today marks the one year anniversary of Dr. Falwell’s death. It’s so hard to believe one year has already gone by. I remember the funeral like it was yesterday. Jeremiah and I flew from TX to VA. We were interviewed twice by reporters in Lynchburg and for CNN. It was such a surreal time and so hard to grasp the reality. We were in shock for several weeks. Still today, it’s hard to believe.

Dr. Falwell’s legacy will continue on in our hearts just as I told CNN. He founded Liberty University with the purpose of raising up Champions for Christ. He had a mission to fulfill on this earth and he accomplished more in a lifetime than a person could in one year. I really got to know Dr. Falwell better when Jeremiah took care of him in the hospital in March 2005. Jeremiah was his nurse. They would watch LU basketball together and Jeremiah would bring him hot chocolate at his request. For a seminary class assignment, I was able to go up to his room and interview him (we still have the recording). I saw him in his hospital gown with his wife, Masel. He was the first to say he would marry me and Jeremiah. We took him up on his offer and in December he married us.

He remembered our names where we were from and he always had an encouraging word. He truly loved people and those who rubbed shoulders with him the most, knew he did. He was a man of great faith and inspired multitudes, many of which we have no idea. He inspired my entire family and my Dad in his new faith. He invested in his family, college students, Liberty University, Thomas Road, the Liberty Godparent home, politics and so much more. My college experience was what it was because of his influence. Liberty changed my life and changed countless of my friends’ lives.

What a joy to know today that he is with Jesus- with the One we’ve all been waiting for. He is missed greatly, but his legacy will continue on in the hearts of those who really knew him. Thank you, God, for using Dr. Falwell in my life. How has Dr. Falwell influenced yours?

To Get on My Knees

Today is a special day because it’s the National Day of Prayer. It is designated by the U.S. Congress as a day when Americans come together in prayer. This morning, I’ve been reflecting on the meaning of prayer. The greatest definition I’ve heard of on prayer comes from Oswald Chambers: Prayer is to Know God.

Prayer aligns my selfish will to God’s will. It focuses my heart and attention upon my Savior. I believe prayer changes things. It changes me. Prayer is humbling ourselves and saying we are not in control. Prayer leads us away from sin and closer to the cross. Prayer is the only way I know how to live this Christian life, but I definitely have a long way to go in being the woman of prayer I long to be. Most of all, prayer needs to be about others and not just myself.

In thinking of a person of prayer. My mom is the godliest woman I know. She is a woman of prayer and it’s all behind the scenes. I only hope to have the discipline to be in prayer as she does.

For the next 24 hours, we are reminded to pray for our families, country, nation, military, missionaries, church, schools, work-place, government, the President, and people and things that are near to our heart. What a privilege to live in a country with this freedom.

Here are some must see videos on prayer:

Joshua- Fighting on their Knees with teaching by Todd Phillips (inspiring true story, patriotic)

Prayer: Live Richly (an off-the-wall parady on prayer)

The Star Spangled Banner (explains itself)

Stormie O’Martian- The Power of Prayer (encouraging)

Stormie O’Martian- Struggling to Pray (a reality we all face)

Amena Brown- You (just plain powerful)

Amena Brown- Psalm 139 (a reminder of God’s love for us)




LA Shoot with Erwin McManus

A few weeks back, our team returned from Los Angeles to film their fourth major video project with Erwin McManus, based off his ever-popular book Uprising: A Revolution of the Soul.

The weekend of the shoot was perfect. LA’s weather was flawless and our team had a blast shooting the beautiful scenery and vast terrain surrounding them. The prime location for the video series was Griffith Park in the Hollywood hills.

Our crew set up their cameras overlooking the expansive Hollywood reservoir. Erwin reviewed his notes and in no time, the cameras were rolling. In a simple yet profound way, Erwin challenges young adults to give their life away by tapping into the talents and gifts God has given them. He states, “We are magnetized to a world filled with opportunities and often paralyzed by the inherent responsibilities.” His charismatic teaching style inspires this generation to change their ordinary life into one with extraordinary passion.

After a long day of work, all the footage was complete. It was hard for our team to pull away from sunny LA and Erwin McManus; however they were anxious to return to their offices and edit the footage. They packed their bags and headed back to Dallas.

The Bible study series filmed in LA with Erwin McManus will be called Uprising: a 6-session video-driven Bible study and will release Sept. 1, 2008. It will include a leader’s guide, workbook, 6 video sesssions, and the book itself. Check out our current DVD resources with Erwin McManus: Impact, Choices, Dreams, and Advance.

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