Four Year(s) Strong.

​Today I’m celebrating four years of recovery. And being that it’s Sunday, I get to be surrounded by the best people in my life, my church family.
I remember when I started this journey at the end of 2012. It was full of empty promises, mainly to myself and it was far from intentional. And then I was challenged by one of the greatest influences in my life to be intentional by just taking it one day at a time.

So I did. And quickly that one day became 30 and soon it hit the hundreds. But even in those moments of small victories, there were plenty of challenges. And if I’m being honest, even in the moments of big victories, there have been plenty of challenges.

But one thing has remained the same throughout it all and that’s the reality that none of this would be possible without the incredible people God has placed in my life over these four years. And while some of the ones that started this journey with me are no longer a part of it, I’m still so thankful for them. And even though I miss them dearly, there are still so many beautiful souls in my life today.

These following words are to them.

I could never thank you enough. In the middle of my brokenness, and sometimes in spite of it, you have loved me. You have walked through some hard battles with me. I have hurt some of you along the way and to my surprise, you stayed. You fought through it with me.

Every tear. Every broken moment. Every raw and vulnerable moment that some of you witnessed. The scary moments. You have walked through them all. Those are days that I look back on and thank God for because if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t still be here. There are days that some of you literally saved me, oftentimes from myself.

There have been a lot of days in these four years that I’ve literally had to pick myself up off the floor and choose to keep living when all I wanted was the complete opposite. There were days where I flirted with the line between recovery and relapse. There were days when I wanted nothing to do with recovery.

But time and time again, I chose it. Even when I didn’t want it, I chose it.

Most scars have faded over the years, but a few remain. The ones that do used to bother me. They used to remind me of the painful moments of my life. But now I see them and I’m reminded of what I’ve walked through and ultimately come out victorious.

Life has been a beautiful balance of heavy and light. And each morning that I wake up, I’m reminded of the beauty that still exists within all of us. I have the most beautiful and incredible people in my life. They are my tribe. Through the good, the bad, and the ugly, these are the people I want by my side. Doing life and ministry with them is so fun and such an honor. I could never thank them enough for their sacrifices over the years that have saved me and made me who I am.

This is just the beginning. And I’m hopeful. These four years have gone by so fast. And I’m looking forward to what’s next.

So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. For loving me and for making a day like this possible. There aren’t enough words to express  the love that I have for each of you.

Here’s to the next adventure.

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After Midnight.

The ball has dropped.
Confetti has settled.
Fireworks shot off.

The old is gone and the new is here. Will you allow 2017 to be the year you want it to be? The year you need it to be? Will you leave behind the things and the people that brought you down last year? Will you allow God to create in you the future he’s always seen for you?

Will you let go of past hurts?
Will you forgive?
Will you let yourself be forgiven?

We hype up NYE so much that it’s almost like we forget that it’s an ending, rather than a beginning.

It’s never too late to start over.

Will you fight for yourself?
For recovery?
For sobriety?
For healing?
For freedom?

These are all things that you can have. If you want them. 2017 has never happened before. What will you do with it? Will this be a year of beauty and light? I pray that it is.

There’s an entire year of memories to be made. So go make them. May this be the year you’ve always needed.

Happy New Year friends. Much love to you.

Even When it Hurts

It should come as no surprise that Hillsong United is probably my favorite worship group these days. I mean, they have some phenomenal and powerful songs that they have shared with this world, and you can find one that resonates with just about any season in life. And their new album does just that. From the highs to the lows and everything in between. But today, and in light of everything that has happened in our world as of late, I wanted to focus on the song in the title of this post.

I decided weeks ago that I wanted to do a blog about what this song has meant to me during this most recent season of life that I’ve found myself in. But life always seemed to get in the way of me actually sitting down and writing it. And then yet another act of violence took the lives of innocent and beautiful people and I felt like what a better time than this to write this post.

Have you ever noticed that when things are going well in your life, it’s really easy to sing our praises to the Father? I mean after all, He has blessed us with those things, so it’s only fitting that we give the glory to Him in those moments. But will those same words carry over in the face of adversity or tragedy? Will we still praise Him?

I mean when life is going grand, we can’t shut up about how great it is and about how great God is. But when we find ourselves in time of struggle, we oftentimes forget, or rather choose to forget, that He is still sovereign through it all.

When we have no song to sing, will we sing anyways?

Surely the people of Orlando and the LGBT community have nothing to sing about, right? After all, their lives were turned upside down in an instant. Loved ones gone. Families grieving. A nation in shock that things like this keep happening. Surely they have no song to sing, right?

Wrong.

I have seen video after video of communities all over the world coming together to honor those that were taken so violently from us in song. Standing in solidarity in song. That even when it hurts, they still have a song to sing. And maybe it’s not the song that you think they should be singing. Maybe it’s not the song that you would sing. But I believe that there is something so powerful in music. That there is great healing found through a song. And that God isn’t confined to moving through only a contemporary Christian song or old fashioned hymn.

When we feel like we are walking through hell, will we still praise Him?

If what these people are going through isn’t hell, then I’d love to hear what it is. Our valleys and the things that grieve us to the very depths of our being is different for everyone. No tragedy is worse than another. No one’s grief is more important than someone else’s. But what these precious people are going through, no one should have to.

But they have refused to stay silent. They have refused to lay down and surrender. It may hurt like hell right now for them to walk forward. Their biggest accomplishment of the day may simply be getting out of bed to face the day. But they are moving. They are breathing. They are fighting. They are singing.

Will you sing until the morning comes? Will you hold out for the miracle? Will you trust that even though what you may be walking through is difficult to face, that He is still good?

It’s really easy to praise Him when we find ourselves on the mountaintop. And those moments are important. Because He deserves our praise. But I think that we find out more about ourselves and who we are in the Father when we are able to praise Him in the valleys.

This is something that has taken me awhile to learn, and if I’m honest, I’m still learning. No one wants to walk through the storms and struggles of life, but it’s how we make it out of those that speaks volumes. Struggle produces growth. But only if you allow it to.

As for me, I will continue to sing. Regardless of if other people think I should be. Regardless of if they approve of the song I’m singing. Regardless of if I meet their standards. My life and every breath I take does not exist for them or because of them. But for the One that put that very breath in my lungs and song in my heart.

Even when it hurts, the light is still winning. Rest in that friends.

Sprinkling Hope Series: Be Radiant

Radiant: sending out light; shining or glowing brightly.

I think this word epitomizes what it means to not only be a follower of Jesus, but to be a carrier of hope. I’ve focused a lot on hope lately because honestly, it’s one of the only things that has gotten me through this last bump in the road that I’ve walked through. And I think at the root of it all, hope is the constant motivator to press through the difficult moments.

So how does being radiant sprinkle hope around? How does it bring hope to those who need it?

In Hebrews 1, we read that Jesus was the radiance of God’s glory. That he was the exact representation of his being. And if we are called to be like Jesus in all that we do, are we doing all we can to be radiant?

We are called to be light in a dark world. To bind up the wounds of a broken and hurting world. To bring hope to the hopeless.

So what better way to sprinkle hope than by being radiant?

For me, there have been several people lately that have been that light and that hope that I have desperately needed. For others, I have been their hope and light. And really I think that’s what it’s all about.

There will be moments in life where you need someone to bring the hope and light you need to make it through. And then there will be moments in life where you are the one bringing the hope and light. It’s a balance. Heavy and light.

In a world where hope is so hard to come by, be radiant. Shine bright. Change lives through hope. Give hope away freely. Throw it around like confetti. You’ll quickly learn that in the moments when we feel hopeless, throwing it around to others brings it right back to you.

Light is winning friends. Rest in that.

Sprinkling Hope Series: Own Your Story

We all have a story to tell. Regardless of if you think that you don’t, you do. And it’s up to you to not only share that story, but to also own that story. Where you begin to do those things is up to you. I know that for some of you, there may be parts that are difficult and painful to share. I encourage you to share anyways.

Life can be really really ugly sometimes. But it can also be really really beautiful. And sometimes we have to fight for those beautiful moments, but it’s so worth the fight. When we begin to own our stories, even the really painful parts of it, we begin to find a sense of freedom and healing. When we own the things that have happened to us instead of letting them own us, we save ourselves from a lot of heartache.

But sometimes we do let what happened to us own us. And it’s so important to remember that there is still good to be found in that. The good news is that we don’t have to stay that way. We don’t have to stay stuck in the moments that have brought us heartache and pain. We can stare that junk in the face and begin to own it. We can begin to walk in the freedom that is ours through Jesus.

And once you’ve owned your story, you get to do the most exciting and empowering and life changing thing ever: you get to share it! People need to hear your story. Each of our stories have such a unique role to play in others lives and their stories.

There will still be days that living your story will be painful and difficult. In those moments it’s important to have people in your life that are willing and able to pick up that pen and write for you on the days that you can’t. Because ultimately all of our stories are interconnected and co-written by the people we’ve chosen to walk through life with. And let me tell you, I’ve got some of the greatest in my corner.

Writing our stories is a lifelong process. Filled with light and with darkness. But remember friends, light is winning. Rest in that.

M1A Students Seniors: Here’s to You.

Once again graduation season is among us and like in any youth ministry, we have a handful of seniors that are graduating or have already graduated.

And while they aren’t kids anymore, they all have a very special place in this heart of mine. Six in particular who I have counted it an honor to do life with and watch them grow.

So Gabi, Kelsey, Peyton, Michael, Paul, and Grant, this post is for you. I’m so incredibly proud of each and every one of you and can’t wait to see you change this world.

This life will surely offer you it’s fair share of good and bad. Easy choices and difficult ones. For some of you, you’re moving off and will be living independently for the first time. And while that comes with a lot of positives, it also opens the door for negatives. I challenge each of you, whether you’re two hours away or 20 minutes away, to strive for greatness. Because you are greatness. Your steps have been ordained and your lives have a unique purpose that only you can play. And we need you. This world needs you.

I challenge you to do good. This world can be a dark place at times. You are the light that will break through those dark moments. You are world changers. You will move mountains. Be radiant. Be the hopeful. And throw that hope around like confetti.

You were made to know and be known. To love and be loved. So love fiercely dear ones. Even when that love isn’t returned, love anyways.

When everything in this world screams for you to give up, keep your eyes focused upward and know that you have a family with M1A Students that is cheering you on.

Some of you I’ve only known for a short time. Others I’ve known your entire high school career. Regardless of which category you find yourself in, know that I am so unbelievably and infinitely proud of each of you.  This world is a better place because of each of you. Our lives are better because of each of you.

As you look back on this closing chapter, I hope you look at it with a sense of victory and accomplishment. And as you look ahead to this new chapter that you have begun to write in, I hope you look at it with excitement, wonder, and anticipation. And on the days that you feel like you can’t write anything, know that we are here for this new journey with you.

Congratulations you guys. Here’s to the beautiful road ahead. I love you always.

Laughter is the Best Medicine.

Today I’m starting a new series that in some ways could be the second part of my Reclaiming Hope series, but explores hope in a whole new direction.

I’ve talked about reclaiming the hope that I had lost and was so desperately searching for, and now I want to shift gears and talk about sprinkling that hope. I think that both can be done at the same time – reclaiming hope and also sprinkling it. I think that reclaiming hope is something that we’ll always be doing.

Much like this journey of recovery that I’m on, I don’t believe that one day I’ll wake up and be like “Oh I’m all better now and I’ll never struggle again because I’ve reach x amount of days,” I think the same is true for hope. There’s not some magical number or amount that we reach and can say that we no longer need hope. We will always need hope.

And I think that sprinkling that hope can be done in a lot of different ways. But laughing is by far my favorite way.

If I hear other people laughing, there’s a 99% chance that I will join in on that laughter. Why? Because laughter is contagious. Especially late night laughter. You know the kind I’m talking about. Where one person slowly starts to lose control and everything becomes funny. And before you know it, everyone is joining in. Moments like these can turn an otherwise ordinary day into an extraordinary one. And those days become my favorite days.

But have you ever had the perfect combination of people in your inner circle that you spend the majority of your time in tears with because you’re all laughing so hard? I’m so incredibly fortunate to have people like that in my life. These precious souls are not only the best people in my life, but have essentially become my family. And we’ve gone through some tough things together, but have always managed to make it through victorious. And laughing together is one of the best things there is.

I can’t even count how many hours we’ve spent laughing so hard that we hurt and some of us have tears in our eyes. These moments are usually take place in public and come with it’s fair share of looks from others, but we continue to laugh regardless.

I’m thankful for the moments that I can be silly with my favorite people and laugh for hours about the most ridiculous things. I’m also thankful for Snapchat for making most of those moments possible.

I think what it really comes down to in the end is that there is healing in laughter. And maybe that’s a new concept for you, it was for me. But in these past few weeks of self discovery and rediscovering who I am in the Father, I’ve learned a lot of things.

Laughter leads to joy. I just don’t think it’s possible to be upset anymore when you’re in the middle of a laughing fit.

And that same joy eliminates darkness. Heaviness and darkness can’t exist where there is joy and where there is light.

So ultimately, laughter equals light. And friends, light is winning. We have the final victory. Rest in that friends.