Raise the Bar

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I have come to the conclusion that there are certain things that I am okay with and certain things I will not allow to stand. That comes from me valuing myself and desiring the best quality life for me and the people around me. Out of this, I have come up with a list of declarations:

  1. I will believe in myself. If God thought I was a good idea, then I rest my case.
  2. I will not settle for mediocre relationships.
  3. I will believe in everyone’s inherent royalty.
  4. I am a no-fly zone for shame, manipulation, co-dependency and narcissism.
  5. I answer to God first and foremost. I love people; I treasure and honor people, but I answer to God.
  6. My voice matters—as does that of every human being. We are powerful!
  7. Faithfulness and loyalty are a must in romantic relationships. Put a ring on it, or take a hike!
  8. I will not abide the hatred of children.
  9. I will not abide predatory behavior.
  10. I am going to live an epic life and thank God for every second of it!

If this struck a chord with you, I would challenge you to make your own list of declarations. Be powerful. Use your voice. Believe in yourself!

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What’s Your Story?

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The messages that we internalize as our reality have a profound effect on the way we live our lives. If you have a miserable narrative, you often experience a miserable life. If you have an epic, amazing narrative, you probably experience an epic, amazing life.

I am going to hit on some lies I believed growing up.

  1. Perfection is something you must strive for.
  2. Father God only loves me because Jesus bribed Him with His death.
  3. When guys lust after me or act inappropriately around me, it’s my fault.
  4. God doesn’t trust women; He won’t let them lead in church except with their husbands or as a children’s pastor.
  5. My sexuality is bad, and I would be better off without it.
  6. “Left Behind” portrays an accurate representation of what God is like and what our future looks like.
  7. If I don’t confess all my sins to God—even though I prayed “the prayer”—I will go to hell. #peformperformperform
  8. God only does miracles when you are doing stuff for Him, like mission trips.
  9. When you mess up, God is disappointed in you. #performperformperform
  10. I’m a sinner.

So, add all that up . . . and crap self-esteem. Very performance-based. Up and down. Up and down. A bit misogynistic. A bit doomsday. Umm . . . anxiety, much? Talk about running day and night on a hamster-wheel of religion. I was in a relationship with a divinity with multiple personalities and narcissistic tendencies. (Jesus loves me; Father hates me, but blood appeases Him?!? Also, it’s all about Him and serving Him and doing stuff and jumping through hoops for Him so I won’t be eternally tortured. That sounds like a nice, healthy foundation for a relationship!)

I was miserable, but I was told  this was it . . . so like it.

I knew I was created for love. I knew I was created for worship . . . but dang. Not like this.

Since then, I have learned some different messages. It makes for a better life story.

  1. God really thought I was a great idea and made me perfectly; I am freakin’ awesome!
  2. Women are amazing, display a beautiful part of the heart of God . . . and are born to co-lead!
  3. People acting dumb has do with whatever’s going on with them; they’re better than that anyways and just haven’t figured it out yet.
  4. Jesus and the Father have the same heart towards me. The Father was always 100% for me.
  5. God is not a narcissist; God is relationship.
  6. God is not a hierarchy; God is a Divine Love-Dance.
  7. Holy Spirit does fun stuff like miracles because Holy Spirit likes to and is really, really good.
  8. The theology of abandonment is a bunch of satanic b. s.
  9. I am fully included; the cross was basically a giant God-hug. He used our rejection of Him and turned it into a great display of His acceptance of us. He is in no way disappointed in me.
  10. I am a saint.

My life feels a whole lot better now. I like it a lot more. Guess it matters who you let narrate your story! Now, I have this whole wide world filled with goodness to explore. I have a Trinity I can’t but help fall head-over-heels in love with. I like being a woman. I’m not scared of hell. I like who God made me, and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to judge other people—no matter what whack-a-doodle stunts they pull! I feel happy.

Love you! Hugs!

The Joy Detective

Speak

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Speak.

Speak one way,

speak another.

What are you saying?

Paint a picture.

Would you grow?

Would you cultivate

a garden?

It is not enough

to hide—

to remain concealed

in the shadow

of half-truths.

But does the raw

beauty of truth

astound you?

 

Is it

too much?

Or can you

look it

in the eye?

Speak.

Speak one way,

speak another.

If you seek

to tear me down,

will you not also

destroy yourself?

I,

who am

your mirror.

Do you despise

the beauty within?

Do you consider it

weakness?

Frailty?

Are you afraid

to love

with depth—

depth being

the point of no return—

depth being

the nail of Jesus,

not the kiss of Judas.

Either you are hot

or you are cold.

I cannot love

halfway.

It is all

Or nothing.

Speak.

speak one way,

speak another.

 

Unexpected Journeys

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So, it’s been a bit since I last wrote. I recall feeling psyched about an article I was writing about one of my best friends who is a fantastic artist and who was doing an art show. There are some people so amazing that you just want to show them off to the whole world, and she is one of them. Brilliant, frickin’ awesome human being.

She moved. One of my best friends in the whole world moved. Back to Texas. I know that she is stepping out and doing what she is called to do with her life, and this is part of it. I am happy for her, but I also feel a little sad because I miss her.

And then I moved—about at the same time, actually. I left some highly familiar settings and ventured off into another city. So, it’s been a bit of a full last few months. Maybe sometime I will get around to publishing the article I wrote. I have it on dock; I just want to go over it with my friend first to check some stuff for accuracy.

I have been learning things and doing things that I don’t know that I would have previously imagined learning or doing. I have some things that I have been pondering as a result that I think will be quite worth writing about.

Until Next Time . . .

The Joy Detective

 

 

 

Coming Soon: “Joy News”

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Heads up, everybody! I am embarking on a new project to start reporting some amazing things taking place in the world around us.

I have noticed that generally what we focus on is what we tend to have manifest in our lives. On that note, I would really like to see ALL of us have wonderful things happen!

Starting this month, I am going on a hunt for the “gold”—wherever it may be found. I am searching out treasure in hidden places.

My vision is to cover topics ranging from miracles, beauty, good deeds, grace, compassion, wisdom, honor, noble things and just sheer occasions for joy. I want to promote artists whose brave creativity is making the world a better place. I want to find business people with honest hearts who desire to see everyone prosper. I want to find the ones who dare simply out of a firm conviction that God is good—and that everyone was created to be blessed out of their mind!

My first official article will cover up-and-coming artist and recent SCAD graduate Christine Burney’s recent art exhibition in Atlanta, GA. Be on the look out for this article! You will not want to miss.

 

 

Better Left Alone?

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There are some things you can’t unsee.

There are those times when you feel this thing rise up in you. It’s distinct from a sort of bitter-anger that causes you to fall into a pit of depression mixed with deep resentment. It’s this kind of anger that moves on you to fight—to fight on somebody else’s behalf.

Even if they don’t think that they deserve it.

I have watched religion beat-up on the Bride of Christ like the proverbial abusive husband. Sometimes it’s physical abuse. Sometimes it’s verbal abuse. Sometimes it goes further.

It gets to the point where I go into a church worship service and hear the Beloved speaking absolute crap over herself like she’s some sort of horrible monster.

“God help me; I’m such a horrible sinner.”

The mantra.

What good, loving husband wants to hear his wife speaking that over herself? What good, loving husband wants to hear his wife call herself a worthless piece of _______? The Jesus that religion preaches is a far cry from the Jesus I know. The Jesus I know totally called me on my self-hatred and told me it was a load of bunk—and that I was WAY too hard on myself.

I’ve seen the scars and the bruises on the arms and the faces of women who have been trafficked. It isn’t too far off from the marks left on the hearts of the people who hear a message of “love Me or be tortured eternally by my sadist of a Father.” That’s the ugly face of religion, folks.

It isn’t the gospel.

Worship is not singing to the Lord about how bad and worthless of a person you are. That’s not worship; that’s spitting on the face of the Lord and denying the gospel. That’s taking the Lord’s name in vain—claiming to believe Him while spouting blatant unbelief in His ability to have accomplished a ________ thing on the cross. Pun-intended.

Worship more has to do with being overwhelmed with the goodness of God. Letting Him wash your feet and speak words of loving-kindness over you. Worship is believing and trusting in a Lover who treasures you beyond anything else in all creation. It’s about being thrown into a sheer ecstasy at the reality that God has forever joined you to Himself. Far from humiliating you, He has allowed Himself to be stripped bare in front of the whole of creation, declaring His love before the cosmos.

Selah on that, folks.

 

 

The Ecstatic Dance

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Who needs a blast of joy today?

I am telling you, ladies and gentlemen, there is more than enough to go around!

Do you want to know what dearly frightens all of the demons of hell? Ecstatic joy exuding and pouring out from the bliss of knowing that you are forever and always embraced in the arms of your Creator, never to be parted!!! WooHOO!

So, today on the jolly blog, I am going take us back to the basics. If your grid for God has been derived from a bunch of religious guilt-trips and hating-on by haters, I have got splendid news for you: you got messed up on the head! God is the happiest Person that ever there was! (No matter how many times we forget that!) God’s a spinning dance of joy and love and community, and you are a dearly loved creation. Brilliant idea!

So, there’s this guy named Jesus, and He is really awesome. And I believe in Him. I believe in a God who is Three-in-One jolly happy dance and loves everyone. One of God favorite past-times? Loving on everyone who has been completely screwed over by religion! I believe that God is most clearly personified in the Person of Jesus.

You want to know what the cross was? You really want to know what the cross was? Well, that’s what you call spreading your arms wide-open for a hug, folks! Come at me, atheists! God completely loves you. You are amazing! Every time I run into one of you, I am reminded of God’s goodness. You want to know why? You help God deconstruct religious oppression. God doesn’t like oppression, so that makes you one of God’s favorites!

I believe that God wants everyone blissed out on the goodness of Jesus. No one excluded. I don’t care what the heck you call yourself; I call you loved!