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Putting my Foot Down

A powerful post about standing up for yourself–because you’re worth it!

BeautyBeyondBones

Ok. It’s time I step into the confessional.

My personal life has been…a struggle recently. I’ve been feeling out of control.

And I’m going to be honest…it’s because I have just been mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically exhausted.

I’ve been getting home after back to back to back 12-hour days just in such a piss-poor mood, that sitting down and writing something deep and meaningful seems a) incredibly disingenuous, and b) downright unfathomable.

And it’s befuddling. Because I love pouring myself into projects and working hard and hustling.

I thrive on hard work and dedication. It’s part of my make up.


But this time, it’s different.

My body is telling me – imploring me –screaming at me – that everything is not alright.

And I’m not just talking about the permanent stress-twitch I have developed in my right eye.

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Acting is a difficult profession because you’re the lowest man…

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Meeting Sex Trafficking Survivors

This past weekend I had the privilege of leading a group of students to Arizona to team up with StreetlightUSA, a ministry that houses twenty-four girls (ages 11-19) sex trafficking survivors. It was a short trip but impactful for our students. One of the highlights was seeing our students prep the activities for this trip and seeing them interact with the survivors. I was proud that our students stepped up and connected with the StreetlightUSA residents.
 
One of the survivors wrote a note to our group that said thank you for spending time with us and not judging us!
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Our students spent time painting nails, braiding hair, coloring, playing Uno, and joking around. Our host expressed that he had never seen the residents so well behaved and engaged with a group like that. I credit that to our students being open to God’s leading and having a willingness to serve without an agenda.
 
The debate between short-term and long-term missions has been going on for decades. The conversations with our students afterward confirmed the value of short-term missions. Our students left and began discussing what they could do to continue to make a long-term impact.
 
I’m excited to see where this conversation leads and what God does in the hearts of our students in the weeks and months to come.Below is a video with more information.

 

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Dear Lily-Rose,

Dear Lily-Rose,

A name is very important—and your mum and I spent much time deciding what we would call you. I thought I would let you know why we named you Lily-Rose.

Every culture, it seems, have made significance in the meaning of the lily or lotus flowers. It’s such a special, unique flower with robust meanings—with cultures from as early as the Greeks (2000 B.C.E.) and Egyptians (1500 B.C.E.) celebrating its significance.

Over the years, the lily has been used to celebrate a couple’s second and thirtieth wedding anniversary. The second anniversary uses the lily to symbolize the purity of the relationship. The lily for the thirtieth wedding anniversary has been used to symbolized pride, beauty, and devotion among the couple.

In later Jewish literature the lily is frequently referred to symbolically and a lotus or lily was commonly pictured on several Jewish coins.

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Lily decorations were used by David and Solomon in the temple: “The walls of the Sea were about three inches thick, and its rim flared out like a cup and resembled a water lily blossom. It could hold about 11,000 gallons of water.” 1 Kings 7:26

 

The lily, “shoshanah”, appears on the coins of Johanan Hyrcanus and Alexander Jannaeus.

The main differences between the lily and the lotus are that the lily comes from the West and the lotus comes from the East.

In paintings and works of art, the lily has been depicted of Mary, the mother of Jesus, representing:

  • Holiness
  • Faith
  • Purity

Overtime as Christians started to associate the lily with holiness, faith, and purity, legends started to arise. One legend has it that the angel Gabriel is said to have been holding a lily, representing purity, when he appeared to Mary to announce she would be pregnant with Jesus.

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Enter a caption

 

Another legend has it that the white lily (also known as the Easter lily) started growing where Jesus’ blood spilled while he was on the cross. It represents Jesus’ purity and divinity. The white lily can also represent Jesus’ resurrection because it arises out of single bulb, which represents Jesus rising from the tomb.

The second part of your name—Rose—like Lily—has had significant meanings throughout history. Like the lily, the rose has been associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Your mom and I have chosen this second part of your name because the rose is a symbol of love and is precious.

Lily-Rose—we are excited to see these characteristics in your life. You have the ability to be holy, faithful, pure, and show love in all you do. We are excited to see you grow and mature—and we will always love you! Regardless of what you do we will always love you!

 

Love,

Daddy and Mummy

 

Cover Photo

photo credit>photopin>creativecommons

 

Playlist Song : I against I - Massive Attack feat. Mos Def
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=famg1gINHss
I-ya,
I against I,
Flesh of my flesh,
And mind of my mind,
Two of a kind but one won't survive,
My images reflect in the enemies eye,
And his images reflect in mine the same time,

I-ya, I-ya,
I against I,
Flesh of my flesh,
And mind of my mind,
Two of a kind but one won't survive,

Right here is where the end gon' start at,
Conflict, contact 'n' combat,
Fighters stand where the land is marked at,
Settle the dispute about who the livest,
3 word answer,
Whoever survive this,
Only one of us can ride forever,
So you and I cant ride together,
Can't live or cant die together,
All we can do is collide together,
So I skillfully apply the pressure,
Won't stop until I'm forever... One!

A door step where death never come,
Spread across time til my time never done,
And I'm never done,
Walk tall, why ever run?
When they move if I ever come?
Bad man never fret the war, tell'em come
General we have the stock, the mad fire burn

I-ya,
I against I,
Flesh of my flesh,
And mind of my mind,
Two of a kind but one won't survive,
My images reflect in the enemies eye,
And his images reflect in mine the same time

Done with the 100mm 2.8L at ISO 1600. Wasn't my first choice, but grew on me when searching through the first batch of 2012

Why It’s Difficult for You to Receive and Give Love

How we were raised and the types of relationships we have had, whether we want to admit it or recognize it, has implications for how we relate to others and to God. In fact, after a thirty-year longitudinal study (where scientists studied the same 1,377 people for a thirty year period) scientists discovered that the number one indicator of mental illness was how our primary caregiver, particularly one’s father, treated them.[1]

All this to say that our past plays into our future, whether hurtful or healthy. It has even been said that our past is not our past—if we still let it affect our present. The sad fact is many of us struggle with love and intimacy because of our upbringing. With this in mind, let’s look at some possible causes as to why it may be difficult for some people to receive and give love.

In their book, God Attachment: Why You Believe, Act, and Feel the Way You Do About God, Tim Clinton and Joshua Straub write about four different relationship styles, how each of them are developed, and how to find healing from past wounds in order to experience a life that is free and healthy. The four relational styles or attachment styles are: Secure Attachment, Anxious Attachment, Avoidant Attachment, and Fearful Attachment.

These relationship styles are developed on how we answer two important questions. First, am I worthy of love? This is what we believe about our self-worth. Second, are others capable of loving me? This addresses our perception of whether or not others are trustworthy and reliable.[2]

Secure Attachment

The relationally secure person would answer the questions, Am I worthy of love and am I capable of others loving me? with a resounding, “Yes!”

Secure Attachment People:

  • Are not afraid of emotions, their own or anyone else’s.
  • Are willing to seek and accept comfort from other people.
  • Know that relationships can be safe, and that knowledge gives them courage to engage in love and intimacy.
  • Take responsibility for themselves.
  • Find the courage to act when action is needed.[3]

Anxious Attachment

Those with this relational attachment style do not feel worthy of love. Whether it is feeling worthy of love in a romantic relationship or even with God, something inside this person tells themselves that it is all an illusion, they really aren’t worthy of other’s love.

In answering the two central questions—Am I worthy of love? and Am I capable of others loving me?—the relationally anxious person would say they are not worthy of love, but they generally do feel that others care about them.

Anxious Attachment People:

  • Long for intimacy but live in constant, nagging fear of rejection.
  • Are very needy, desperately looking for others to make them feel safe and secure.
  • Trust too easily and unwisely, overlooking signs that others have not earned their trust.
  • Are fragile and vulnerable to any perceived criticism, interpreting it as severe rejection.
  • Hope that authority figures will finally come through and fix their problems.
  • Experience a deep, controlling fear that they are not competent to make it on their own.[4]

Avoidant Attachment

Avoidants are always trying to prove their worth by their accomplishments—and the more they achieve, the more they feel love. Completely opposite to those with anxious attachment, the avoidant style would say they are worthy of love, but that when it comes down to it, others do not really care about them.

Avoidant Attachment People:

  • Avoid intimacy because they do not see the need for it
  • Are confident in their abilities and are self-reliant.
  • Commonly experience low levels of anxiety in relationships, even when others are very needy and demanding.
  • Are very analytical about those in authority, and seldom trust others very much.
  • Withdraw from those who express emotional needs.
  • Have, in effect, business relationships with others, even close family members, with clear expectations of what each person will do to make a relationship work.[5]

Fearful Attachment

Fearful attachment relationship style do not believe they are worthy of love or having others love them. And some do not even have the confidence or drive needed to excel in life. Fearful people have often been hurt and still have open emotional wounds that have not healed; consequently, they have developed a protective shell around their hearts to keep others out. “They long to trust someone, but they have difficulty trusting even those who have proven to be loving and honorable.”[6]

Fearful Attachment People:

  • Feel unloved and unwanted, unworthy of anyone’s affection.
  • Long for real relationships, but are terrified of being close.
  • Lack confidence in their abilities to make life work.
  • Are fragile, easily shattered, and vulnerable to any perceived offense.
  • Believe they need to trust those in authority, but simply cannot.
  • Sometimes remain isolated, but sometimes launch out into relationships, seeking the connection they have always wanted. Their neediness, tough, almost always drives people away.[7]

 

As you look over the four relational attachment styles, do you see yourself in any of them? While some people have more affinity to one style, others are a mixture of these styles.

Yet, no matter what style or mixture of styles you might be, remember this—your style is not permanent, nor does it have to define who you are.

No matter what has happened in the past, God can heal and redeem you. You do not have to be a prisoner to the past; you can have a new start! God is not done with us. We are clay in the hands of the master potter (Isa 64:8). He molds us, mends us, and heals us. As the clay, however, it is our responsibility to allow God to heal us. We place ourselves in a position to be healed through a number of avenues including spiritual disciplines, forgiveness, community, and professional counseling.

 

photo credit>photopin>creativecommons

 

[1] C.B. Thomas and K.R. Duszynski, “Closeness to Parents and the Family Constellation in a Prospective Study of Five Disease States: Suicide, Mental Illness, Malignant Tumors, Hypertension, and Coronary Heart Disease,” John Hopkins Medical Journal, 134.5 (1974): 251-270.

[2] Tim Clinton and Joshua Straub, God Attachment: Why You Believe, Act, and Feel the Way You Do About God (New York: Howard Books, 2010), 66-67.

[3] Ibid., 70.

[4] Ibid., 70-71.

[5] Ibid., 73.

[6] Ibid., 74.

[7] Ibid.

exciting chalkboard

My Book is Completed!

After years, of working on this book, I have finally completed the ENTIRE manuscript! Exciting times! Yes, seven chapters, introduction and conclusion, are all completed. And I’m happy with the finished product! I say, “finish” but it’s not really finished. Now, the publisher will look at it and edit, edit, and edit some more. They will send it back to me and I will make changes.

Many have asked me about the timeline. There’s nothing more I would love than for the book to be in your hands next month—but because I’m going with a respected traditional publisher, it takes time. Leafwood Publishers is committed to making this book the best it can be. The tentative release date is summer 2017.

I am thankful to so many of you! This really is a dream come true. I had no idea it would be this difficult writing a book. Now I know why many people don’t finish books. It’s one of the most difficult things I have ever done—and I am still not done yet!

The process was a long and arduous one! It started with completing the book proposal, which is an approximately twenty-page document that explains the book, etc (and that is not including the sample chapters) and is what the publisher will read. Then I had to get a literary agent to believe in my work–and I landed an influential agent. God is good! The last step was completing the manuscript.

So…that’s the latest! To all those who have been there throughout this process thank you for your support and encouragement.

Below is the Table of Contents:

Introduction – Everyone Loves Sex

The Purpose of Sexual Faithfulness: Why We Do What We Do

  • Chapter 1—Why We Do What We Do 
  • Chapter 2—Bonding or Bondage?
  • Chapter 3—Am I Worth It?

The Vision of Sexual Faithfulness: What Our Life Could Be

  • Chapter 4—What Our Life Could Be
  • Chapter 5—How Much is Your Selfie Worth?
  • Chapter 6—Are Sex and Love the Same Thing?
  • Chapter 7–Sex Sells but Should it?

Conclusion – Loving Sex More Than Ever

 

 

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“Everyone Loves Sex: So Why Wait?” On Bookshelves in 2017!

A dream has come true for me this week! For over five years I have been working on my book tentatively titled, Everyone Loves Sex: So Why Wait? About six months or so ago, I signed with a reputable agent (an answer to prayer), and today I have signed with Leafwood Publishers (another answer to prayer)!

Leafwood Publishers is an imprint of Abilene Christian University Press where New York Times Best Selling author, Max Lucado is an alumnus–and is still connected with today. A little bit more about Leafwood publishers:

“In 2010, ACU Press became a full member of the Association of American Presses, making ACU the only college/university in the CCCU, and within the churches of Christ, to have a recognized academic university press. ACU Press titles have been endorsed by prominent figures such as Ken Starr, Eugene Peterson, Rick Warren, Jimmy Carter and Walter Brueggemann.” (Source)

I could not be happier! I never knew writing a book, getting a literary agent, and signing with a publisher would be this challenging. If God wasn’t behind this endeavor, I’m sure I would have stopped years ago. To all those who have encouraged me to stay the course, to not give up, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart! Your kind, encouraging words have meant more than you will know.

If my wife, Caz, was not absolutely supportive, I would not be at this stage in this process. She is an amazing wife and mom, and allows me the freedom I need to research and write. She has sacrificed time, energy, and sleep for me to pursue this dream.

Well…I have a deadline to meet. I have to finish a chapter and write one more by the end of this month. I welcome your prayers!

God Bless!

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Freedom May Not be What You Think it is!

When it came to eating, I never had to worry about putting boundaries on what I ate. I ate—and never gained a pound! I never understood why that was a big deal until I got married. I have gained forty since 2010—the same year I married Caz.

As I write this I am in the process of watching my calories and am doing well to get to my ideal weight. What I am discovering is that as I eat right, avoid high calories, high fat, high sugar foods, and work out, I actually feel better. In the past months since I have been getting on track I have noticed a tremendous increase in my energy level—and my old clothes are starting to fit again.

I suppose some would say, why even bother with working out? Eat what you want and enjoy life. But I have found that there is actual freedom when I am living a healthy life, freedom in feeling good, freedom in more energy, freedom in keeping up with my children, and freedom in knowing I am not poisoning my body like I used to.

The most common definition of freedom in our culture is doing what we want, whenever we want. But is this truly freedom? Let’s play this out to its logical conclusion. My friend, Eric, once told me of his “freedom” to drink whenever he wanted. For ten years he drank, often hiding it from those he loved the most—his family, wife and kids. His addiction started spilling over into his personal and professional life, to the point that he had to enter a ten-month rehab program. I remember him telling me all about his “freedom”—sadly, it ended up more like bondage

Tim was a friend of mine in college. He hooked up with whomever he wanted, because he was “free” to do so. One night he even hooked up with multiple girls. Years after college, he confided in me saying that he and his then wife were having serious sexual issues in their marriage because of their past sexual experiences. Sadly, there are still things they cannot do together physically because of their past experiences. Was it truly “freedom”?

 

Biblical Freedom

The kind of freedom that God has designed for all of us is starkly different than what our culture sees as freedom. Let’s go back to the Garden of Eden. We read in Genesis, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Gen 2:16a –17b). The first words of freedom spoken were at the Garden of Eden, but how could freedom and constraint go hand in hand? How can even a hint of restriction be true freedom? Notice God said you are free to eat whatever you want. That is exactly freedom in terms of how our culture views it. But then God adds a restriction—except for the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Now, that is beginning to sound less like freedom, and more like control.

Following this account to its logical conclusion, we see that Adam and Eve went against the freedom they were given. They felt God was holding something back from them; maybe they even felt there should be no limitations. So they ate—and the result? Shame. Embarrassment. Insecurities. Alienation.

Then when God came on the scene, they hid and blamed one another. Adam even blamed God.

Again, this does not sound like freedom to me.

As we process this idea of freedom as our culture has defined it and since it is embedded in our consciences, hopefully we are coming to a deep realization that this type of “freedom” is not really freedom at all. In fact, from the very beginning, the story we think as one that illustrates freedom, is actually the very opposite. Roger Olsen captures this beautifully when he observes, “It’s a story of shame, hiding, alienation, enmity, toil, and death—in short, the absolute antithesis of freedom.”

The reality is that we have a choice to make. On the one hand, we can follow our culture’s definition of freedom, doing what we want whenever we want. On the other hand, we can choose to follow God’s design for freedom, believing he is good and has our best in mind. Adam and Eve chose the former and changed everything.

In the fourth century AD, Saint Augustine taught that freedom was what we were created for noting that true freedom only comes when we conform to the image of God—Jesus Christ. “The farther we drift from it [that is who we were created to be], the more our freedom shrinks.”

One writer commenting on the fact that Adam and Eve had paradise—and they threw it away for bondage, because of their selfishness, makes this insightful comment:

“The implication of the Genesis story is unavoidable: True freedom is found only in obedience to God and the fellowship that comes with it. Loss of true freedom comes with self-assertion, the idolatrous desire to rule my own square inch of hell rather than enjoy the blessings of God’s favor…This gospel theme of true freedom through obedience and servanthood is so pervasive in the Bible that it cannot be missed. And yet, because of our culture’s overriding emphasis on autonomy, we miss it all the time.”

 If you really want to live a fulfilled life–it is through obedience to God. He is the creator and we are his creation. When we obey and submit to God, we are living free and fulfilled lives—because that is how we were designed to live. This is not say that the going will not be tough. It is not to say that we will not struggle. Freedom can lead to difficult choices. It is here that we need to remember what Jesus said to the people of his day,Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. (John 11:28–30)

When we choose to live in the way God has designed us, we experience freedom—true freedom. God does not provide boundaries to be a burden, but to be a gift. The boundaries are not there to hinder our freedom, but to enhance it—even to help us experience it more deeply. The choice is ours. Do we want to embrace what our culture says is freedom, but really nothing more than bondage? Or do we want to embrace the freedom that our creator offers us, one that leads to a life fully free, fully fulfilled?