For the Wine-O’s

For the Wine-O’s

For the last 5 years or so, I’ve been bartending. More recently, I have been bartending weddings (shoutout to Executive Catering… also my first business sponsor for my podcast). One thing that is easy to spot is when people are in good spirits and their drink choice grows less particular. When you start to run out of the top shelf liquor or fine wine, most people will take the next best thing. At the end of each wedding, we start to break down the bar about 30 mins before the last dance. People bum rush us with their orders. Most the time I’m like “Listen here, all we have left is a bottle of wine and a couple Bud Lights… or I have water.” It’s crazy because at cocktail hour, wedding guests go nuts over the specialty drinks due to its availability. I think my favorite part about bartending weddings, as opposed to the restaurant bar scene is this: the parents of the bride and groom have already paid the bill and the guests can come and go as they please and enjoy an open bar.

Why do I bring this up? Because I’ve been studying Jesus’ first miracle of turning water into wine. I am not writing this blog post to merely prove a point that Jesus drank and served wine, but mainly to articulate a side of Jesus that I have overlooked. This miracle is recorded in John 2.

Y’all might know the story. Jesus attends a wedding in Cana of Galilee. Jesus’ mom and his disciples are there with him. His mom runs up to him and declares that there is no more wine to serve the guests. Yikes! Jesus responds calmly telling Mary that His time to perform miracles hasn’t come yet. She looks to the disciples and tells them to do whatever Jesus asks. So, Jesus had the disciples fill six stone jars with water. These jars were twenty or thirty gallons in size. That would be about 180 gallons of water. The disciples filled these jars to the brim. The tippy top.

Jesus then turns water into wine, and the headwaiter of the wedding tells the groom “Everyone sets out the fine wine first, then, after people are drunk, the inferior. But you have kept the fine wine until now.” (verse 10)

Lesson One: The Setting

We are living in a society where marriage is becoming tabooer and scarier. Divorce rates even in Christian homes are rampant. The assault of marriage began in the garden when the enemy tempted Eve and pinned her up against God and her helpmate, Adam. The fact that Jesus performs His first miracle at a wedding, not only redeems what the enemy assaults, but it is also a foreshadowing of the bride of Christ (aka the Church) and Him as the groom. Marriage is a depiction of us and Jesus’s relationship. No one wants to be married to a religious task master. He has invited us into a romantic story with Him where we are fully known and fully loved. Who wouldn’t want to be in a beautiful and balanced marriage?

Lesson Two: Our Part

Most of us want Jesus to perform miracles in our lives, but we forget we have a part to play as well. Mark Batterson (a pastor from National Community Church) says this: “If we want God to do the super, we need to do the natural”. Notice Mary told the disciples in verse 5 “Do whatever He tells you.” Then Jesus told them to fill the jars with water. The disciples had to do their part in order to participate in the miracle. After filling the jars, they drew some out and took it to the headwaiter and it became wine… The disciples saw this sign and believed Jesus was the Son of God. Many of us want a sign or a miracle, but why don’t we ask Him what He wants us to do first? Our obedience and trust in Him is the perfect platform to watch a miracle occur. He is personal and loving and will show you what He wants you to do.

Lesson Three: Quality

We can learn a lot about Jesus and His ability to do everything with excellence. Jesus will always exceed your expectations. He has no problem with doing quality work. He didn’t provide decent wine, He provided the best wine. He didn’t tell his mother “Well tough luck, they shouldn’t be partying in the first place.” No. He chose to reveal His glory (verse 11) with this miracle. This goes beyond the argument of if God condones drinking wine or not. No, this miracle illustrates that our Heavenly Father takes what is decent and makes it decadent. This is direct reflection of what He does in our own lives. We just need to be willing to do our part and obey Him completely by “filling our water jars to the brim”.

Lesson Four: Personal

This miracle reminds me to take the Gospel personal. I used to think the Gospel (Jesus coming to earth as fully God and man, living a perfect life, dying for my sins, and resurrecting from the dead) as a general gesture. But the Gospel is personal. It is detailed just as much as it is broad. He doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Peter 3:9) and He will reveal Himself to us even at weddings. Heck it could be at a gas station. Bottom line, He is a hound for the soul and can’t help but pursue us every day with His rich and sweet love. When you hear the voices in your head that sound like fear, condemnation, and anxiety just take a peak at this miracle to see a unique point of view of his personal love for us. He cared enough about the reputation and ambience of a wedding to bring about the best wine. Don’t you think He cares enough about your situation to bring about the best wine? He exchanges beauty for ashes. No matter your situation, He invites you to participate in a beautiful love story where His glory will never be exchanged for any less than.

Lesson Five: Paid For

Rest assured. The bill was paid for. Jesus didn’t take out a small loan for the 180 gallons worth of wine. He had all the resources He needed. He is God after all. We can be assured the bill for our salvation was already paid for, and we mustn’t worry about picking up the tab for fine wine either. He already did it.

*Note: I realize there are some Christians who have different convictions regarding drinking alcohol and everything surrounding the scene. If the Holy Spirit has redeemed your past from being an alcoholic, Praise The Lord! I hope you read this blog with discernment. I am in no way, shape, or form trying to deter you from your growth and freedom from alcoholism with this post. I champion you and your convictions. The Holy Spirit knows how to speak to His children and give them wisdom with the content they consume. I hope you are only encouraged in Christ’s love by reading this.

The Great Conjunction

The Great Conjunction

Outer space has always excited me. There is so much wonder out there. I have always loved things that are bigger than me. Miraculous stories, big dreams that scare me, movies with huge plot twists and unexpected-beautiful endings, and of course: outer space.

This year is particularly fascinating to me. I am sure by now you are aware of the “Christmas Star” this year that will be showing on the longest night of our darkest year. According to NASA, “The December solstice, which occurs on December 21 this year, marks the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the summer solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. On the December solstice, the Sun reaches its southernmost position in the sky, no matter where on Earth you happen to be. The Sun’s changing height in the sky throughout the year is caused by Earth’s tilt as it orbits our local star.”

Straight Facts

I could honestly stop writing right here and leave this be, but I want to dive a little further into this. This year, #2020sucks, has been grueling, one marked by unexpected loss, added anxiety, political unrest, and a pandemic. The “Christmas Star” this year is the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. NASA states, “What makes this year’s spectacle so rare, then? It’s been nearly 400 years since the planets passed this close to each other in the sky, and nearly 800 years since the alignment of Saturn and Jupiter occurred at night, as it will for 2020, allowing nearly everyone around the world to witness this “great conjunction.”

The sun will be in the southernmost position in the sky, and everyone in the world will be able to witness the “great conjunction”. NASA believes (at least the writer of this article, the timing of the “Great Conjunction” and Winter Solstice is merely coincidence. I completely disagree. When it comes to the Solar System, I don’t believe in coincidences… maybe parking space availability at Publix… but not planets aligning with Winter Solstice… in 2020… lol

You see, we spend our whole lives exploring the meaning of life, the deep seas, outer space, and the human body. We are fascinated that there is a God/Creator out there, and we will do whatever it takes to get to Him or explore His creation. Some people don’t believe in a God or designer at all. (that’s a different topic for another day). However, it interests me, scratch that, it ignites me that the Sun will be at its Southernmost position in the sky no matter where you are. (you can’t argue perspective on this one… no matter where you are. Straight facts the sun will be at the southernmost point)

How We Get There

It reminds me of Jesus. Truly. The God I believe in, sent Jesus to the lowest (southernmost point) here on earth to show His glory and offer us a relationship with Him. A manger in Bethlehem to be exact. During a time of political unrest with Rome in charge. During a time where luxury wasn’t available to everyone. During a time when the world was darkest.

Jesus says, no one comes to the Father except through Him. The vastness of God. The majesty of God. The creativity of God. The blessings of God. You cannot be near without Jesus. Every religion out there besides Christianity preaches: you must do something to get to God.

Now let’s talk about these gas giants in the sky who will be aligning for everyone to see on earth, amid arguably the worst/unexpected year of our lives. Notice this conjunction hasn’t been observed at night in nearly 800 years. God didn’t line this up in 2012, 2016, or any other year. He chose 2020. A year we needed hope the most. The whole world. Not just America. But everyone. Sounds a lot like the Gospel if you ask me. I am sure you’ve read articles about this resembling the Star of Bethlehem that led the Magi to Jesus’ birth. “The idea that a conjunction between bright planets could explain the Star of Bethlehem isn’t new. A note in the Annals of the Abbey of Worcester from 1285 A.D. points out an alignment of Jupiter and Saturn that happened at the time of Jesus’ birth. And Johannes Kepler himself touched on the idea in the 17th century.”

Whether you believe in Jesus as your resurrected Savior or not, historians, astrologists, astronomers, and other scientists do not denounce the birth of Jesus. His birth changed the world’s date system from B.C. to A.D. okay, so this isn’t an argument of whether or not He was born here on earth. But let’s say you don’t believe in the Virgin birth or His death and resurrection. I implore you to revisit that conversation within yourself as you look up tomorrow night at the planets aligning.

Stars Aligning

You’ve heard it said before, “the stars are aligning” which gives you some “clarity” on decisions… well why don’t we look at the brightest star in our Solar System, the sun, in which all the planets orbit. The sun will be at the southernmost point in the sky, and the axis of the earth will be tilted perfectly, and the “Great Conjunction” that is comparable to the Star of Bethlehem (Matthew 2:2) will be occurring during this Christmas season.

Because you see, it’s never been about us getting to God. It has always been about Him pursuing us. God spoke nature into existence and gave us humans access to study science and history. However, true access to Him is through His son Jesus. “Jesus replied, I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

It isn’t enough to just believe there is a God out there. The way to God is through His Son, Jesus, and He is being extra clear with us this year, through astronomy, that He did all this work in His perfect timing. “For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.” (Romans 1:20)

He is so loving. He is so kind. He promised His Son immediately after Adam and Eve sinned. (Genesis 3:15). God fulfilled His promise. He lowered Himself. And He is inviting us into Higher Places with Him. I can’t wait to gaze at His reminder tomorrow that He is in control. He loves you very much. If you struggle with believing, ask Him to help you in your unbelief. He will 😉

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

The father of the sick boy instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24)

Photo Cred: Photo by Maarten Verstraete on Unsplash

The Hard Things

The Hard Things

It’s been a hot second since I have written a blog, but I have been reminded of a reoccurring lesson in my life.

I was on a 16-mile run about a month ago, and I kept hearing The Lord say to me “keep doing the hard things Brookie”.

Do them even when you can’t see the reward. Do the hard things when no one is watching. Do the hard things, even though it seems opposite to what everyone else is doing.

Matthew 7:13-14 kept coming to mind “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” I encourage you to read the entire chapter of Matthew 7, but this one principle that Jesus is teaching has struck home for me.

Think about the hard things in life. It could be marathon training, starting a business from scratch, building a house, building a relationship, raising kids, or dieting. Each of these in nature do not match up with the culture we live in of instant gratification. We live in a generation where we microwave dinners, send a text to show we care, post a picture for quick validation, and start a diet every other Monday.

When I heard Jesus say “do the hard things” I was on South Tropical trail on mile one. I thought about it throughout the entire run. It was super early in the morning before the sun was up. It felt lonely at times until I saw other people who were running the same route. There weren’t many runners, maybe 3 or 4 other people. When I finished my run, I was so excited that I was still alive and could move, lol! At times it felt like I was going to die or lose one of my toes, but when it was all said and done, I felt so accomplished and felt alive more than ever!

Doing the hard things seems risky but it is far more rewarding, refining, and restoring than anything this world has to offer.

Water Bottles

Let’s use the simple imagery of a water bottle. A wide-mouthed water bottle allows the water to rush from the spout and flood your mouth which makes it difficult to enjoy, let alone breathe. The water runs out much faster. (Soaking up every pleasure of this world by taking matters into your own hands will only satisfy you for a split second.) A narrow-spout water bottle allows the water to flow in a natural way, sure it may take a bit more work on your end, but all in all the patient flow of the water is far more satisfying and timely. (Letting The Lord provide your needs and answer your prayers amid the hard things creates everlasting joy in this life and the life to come) The narrow way is not easy and extremely unpopular, but when you look around and see others next to you choosing to do the same things, you can’t help but be encouraged.

One of the hardest lessons in my life is trusting that The Lord will come through for me. (PS He always does) I tend to think He needs my help. When you choose the narrow way of life, it may look funky maybe even crazy to other people. However, you can trust that He sees you and delights in you. He will not be made a fool, and He will honor your obedience to Him. “What The Lord sees in private, He will reward you in public” (Matthew 6:6)

Counter Cultural

We live in a culture where we are taught to chase our dreams, make a lot of money, and capture the best moments in between. I am not saying that having dreams, fun times, and having money is a bad thing at all. However, when we make those our main focus and block out the beauty of the patient pursuit of eternal matters, we are really missing out on life. Doing the hard things could look different in everyone’s lives. It could be giving half your paycheck away, it could be covering someone else’s shift, it could be staying home on the weekend to work on your marriage, it could be apologizing to a close friend or family member, or it could be simply taking a break from the hustle of this life to hear God’s voice. Ask Him what He wants you to do, He will let ya know. He is a personal God 😉

The narrow way of following Jesus may not be easy at times, but we have a promise that it will lead to life. And of course the greatest example we have of this: is Jesus dying on the cross for sins He didn’t commit. Because we believe that He rose again 3 days later, we know that doing the hard things really does reap reward here on earth and in Heaven. If He wouldn’t have chosen the narrow way, none of us would have the gift of eternal life.

Obedience is not Religious Rules

Currently, the hard things I am learning are patience, obedience, and humility. These traits may not be advertised on Instagram, but I know that when I pursue them, I will be able to see Him more clearly- moving in my life. The narrow way is not popular, but it’s the road Jesus took, as well as many other people I admire. The road that leads to abundant life. Nothing excites me more than asking Jesus what He wants me to do, doing it, and watching Him show up in big and exciting ways! When you think of obedience don’t think of religious rules, think of resurrection. PS: when you choose Him, prepare yourself for abundant and miraculous blessings.

“Then Jesus called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet lose their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-36

Age of Approval

Age of Approval

My mind has been blank. Inspiration and cute quotes have seemingly escaped my brain space. I have been caught between striving for approval and learning to let go all at the same time. So I figured while I am blaring Coldplay in my ears, I would type out some of my thoughts and feelings on this age of approval.

The things that bother me most are things I can’t control… I can’t control stoplights or other drivers, so I get mad road rage. Or when someone calls me in the middle of my favorite song, and I am short with the person on the phone. I can’t control the weather, so I get bummed when it rains on my scheduled beach day. I can’t control other people’s responses to me, so I grade their comments inviting unnecessary stress into my life. Or other people’s thoughts and opinions, so I freak out when I think they could be negative towards me. At the center of this philosophy is me. Enter stage left, self-hatred which invites the need for approval in any capacity. Which could be a compliment, a random text message, or a friend request.

Common Struggle

The people pleaser in me has clung tightly to friendships that need boundaries. The obsessive traits in me have obliged me to be the prettiest, skinniest, and funniest girl. The controlling patterns I posses have caused me to be frustrated at anyone or everyone who threatens my plans. And the skeptic in me has been the coauthor of many negative narratives in my head. A torture chamber.

You’ve been there before… think about your Social Media feeds. That time you posted on your Instagram story and minutes later you’re on the lookout for one particular person or group of people to watch it. The picture you posted a year ago that he or she commented on and now you can’t even look at each other in public. Think of the person you were married to for 10-15 years and built a life with and now can’t even stomach a holiday together. The boss that you’re afraid of letting down… Think of the all the things you cannot control…. Pair those things with a horrible day at work and a torrential downpour of past experiences flooding your mind and you have a perfect set up for knots in your stomach.

How did we get here? People want to blame our generation and our need for instant gratification, sure that plays a part. But why is every generation young and old perpetually suffering from the constant need of approval. Why is everyone striving for the best business, best home, best degree, best body, best friendships, best dog, best church, best spouse, and best kids?

We’ve taken the gifts and opportunities presented to us and made them our muse. We’ve taken our hobbies to leverage comparison. We’ve taken our spouses and compared them to our fantasies. We’ve taken our friendships and made them our source of identity. We’ve taken our relationship with Jesus and made it a brand.

A Life for a Life

I would like to circle back to the center of all of these misinterpretations of life and relationships. Ourselves. Pride. Me at the center of every phrase. We are at the center of our own stories and everyone else is the supporting cast who needs to memorize their lines, show up on time, and do their jobs to make a good production in order to highlight the main character… us.

I love what Jesus said to his closest friends, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will find it.” (Mt. 16:24-25) Jesus spoke these words soon after his death and resurrection was predicted. Death on a cross was not even thought of to those who followed Him. Interestingly enough Jesus says the words “take up his cross”. The cross is ultimately a picture of Jesus giving up His life. He invites us to give up our lives to find it. So profound.

I would like to remind those of you who follow Jesus that He was 30 something years old. A man in his young thirties who did not spend his entire ministry trying to gain followers, sell out stadiums, have the best body, have the best wife, have the best kids, have the coolest brand, nor use His messages to leverage anything in return. Some would say He denied Himself. This denial was not in a self-deprecating way, but in a humble way. He set aside His will for the Father’s. Jesus goes on to say, “For what will benefit someone if he gains the whole world yet loses his life? Or what will anyone give in exchange for his life?” (Mt. 16:26) Jesus is empathetic here to those who are listening. He understands that to lose your life would be detrimental in exchange for the whole world and its riches. The only thing He suggests losing your life in exchange for is Him. Because He is abundant life.

We were taught most our adult Christian life that Jesus was the Sunday School answer. But I am here to implore you that He is the answer, always has been, always will be. Not everything has to be so complicated in our pursuit of Him and the life we think we should have with Him.

Striving for Arrival

Our tactics for approval to regain happiness, our striving for “arrival”, and our constant chasing of “our dreams” could be the exact end of our lives. Losing your life in exchange for one person’s validation, casual sex, panicked phone calls with friends to feel peace, and buying another animal or object to fill a void are not the answers. Another filter on Instagram, another like on our Facebook page, another Chevron wall to match a magazine cover, another diet to show our collarbones, another woman to have sex with when your wife is too busy and boring, we are losing our lives here.

Let’s lose our lives in exchange for His. Paul puts it pretty plainly, “I have been crucified {take up your cross} with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself (lost Himself) for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

We got it backwards. Don’t chase, you will lose your life. So, I suggest we lose our lives so we can gain His. His life is eternal. Joyful. His life is abundant. Complete, lacking nothing. His life is peaceful. His life is pure.

Notice He wasn’t talking to those who weren’t already following Him. He was talking to His disciples in Matthew 16. Many of us already believe Jesus Christ is our Savior and has saved us from sin and death. But what we fail to realize is we are dying to exchange our lives for the what the world has to offer. Exchange your life for His. I am talking to myself here. I am tired and ready to enter His rest.

Experiencing Life

Experiencing Life

December 22 always seems to come so quickly every year. Not only is my birthday close to Christmas, but it is also very close to the new year. I can’t help but look back on this past year and think of all the exciting adventures, but also the really challenging lessons I’ve faced.

On the outside looking in, it may seem like I have it “all together” or that I’m “always positive”, but that is definitely not the case. I found myself on the floor of my room a lot this year asking God if He could hear me. In the midst of all the new blessings in my life and exciting doors opening, I have shed more tears of confusion, worry, and anxiety. There have been plenty of times where I have let out huge sighs of frustration towards God. I felt as though he had gone dormant.

To be honest, I could NOT put my finger on it. It’s not like I could name one exact thing that would make me “feel” better. Perfect job, no. Relationship, no. Own home, no. New car, no. More friends, no (although I love friends!). More money, no. More devotions and sermons, no. More followers, no. More listeners, no. More guests for podcast, no. More Jesus, not in the way that I thought…

More Than Friends

Hang in there with me. As a child of God, Jesus is always the answer. But not in the way I thought. Jesus has always been my friend. My pal who comes along side of me and talks louder when I am talking to Him or reading the Bible. A friend who hangs out with me the majority of the time, but when I stop thinking about Him as much… He takes a break from me. (ugh the enemy sucks, because this is so not true!!) Then when I am done sinning and I repent (a heavy Christian word), He is readily available with His arms wide open. I picture His hair flowing in the wind, with a soft smile and an ivory robe saying “I knew you’d come back.” This theology negates the words of God, which are always final, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you”. What does this mean? I mean, were these just weightless Old Testament words that were spoken to the Israelites? Or were these words- heavy words that illustrate the very character of our never-changing God.

I am going to do a quick interlude here and list 24 instances where I have experienced Jesus this past year in the most mundane and non-traditional nonreligious ways.

24 Instances

In no specific order

  1. On a back road in Jacksonville
  2. Bartending a wedding this past November while talking to a guest
  3. On a park bench
  4. Under the hood of my car-spotting the oil leak flooding my spark plugs
  5. Crying because I stepped in human poop in a public restroom
  6. When I gained 5 lbs from stopping all my dieting and chasing food freedom
  7. When I burnt toast for Roxy (if you don’t know her you should)
  8. Drinking a grapefruit margarita
  9. At a soccer game
  10. When I was comparing myself to another girl’s life on Instagram
  11. When I got the flu and had to pay an outrageous copay
  12. At a work party
  13. At a tattoo parlor
  14. When I was crying on the gym floor because I hated the workout and was alone
  15. Eating a bowl of cheerios at midnight
  16. Running and crying to the song “Hollywood’s Bleeding” by Post Malone
  17. On the boardwalk getting annihilated by mosquitoes
  18. On a walk with my dad
  19. On a couch in a counselor’s office
  20. Sitting on the asphalt in the parking lot with a dear friend late at night
  21. On a road trip
  22. Quitting my first job after graduating college
  23. Scrubbing a toilet and unclogging a drain at the air bnb I clean
  24. Today, when He told me no matter the narrative in your head baby girl, I will uphold you. I will provide for you. I forgive you. I find delight in you.

You see, all the big and exciting things that we document in life often have other moments like these on the peripheral. The less exciting things. The more annoying circumstances. The unconventional places. The places where you suspect God has restricted Himself. We limit Him to the glorious-happy moments. We limit Him to human circumstance. We limit Him to our devotional time. We limit Him to our spiritual highs.. when He is also in the slower and uglier moments with us.


I titled this blog “Experiencing Life” because I’m convinced I will never experience life until I am experiencing Jesus. I used to think Jesus hid in answered prayers that went my way. I thought that if I worked a little harder at the Christian life then things would add up, and I would get that spiritual high from Him pulling through for me. But then I think of how He is an author. The author of life (Acts 3:15). He spoke us into existence (Genesis 2). But the story was never about us, it was about Jesus (Genesis 3:15)… life itself. He writes stories. Beautiful ones. Ones where the desert land is never wasted.

Wasted Places

God revealed this to me in the car the other day with a friend. Remember when the Israelites were in captivity in Egypt? How God led them out of captivity and into the desert? The Israelites viewed Egypt as a land of slavery, oppression, and famine. But isn’t it strategic how years later when the birth of Jesus occurred, Egypt was the exact land Mary and Joseph fled to as a safe haven when King Herod was seeking to kill the Messiah? (Matthew 2:13). God is a story writer and uses up all the places, experiences, circumstances, and mundane moments to fulfill His plans through His son Jesus. The Scripture was never a rule book for us to run to when we “mess up” or to convict ourselves into a righteous life. It is there to show the story of Jesus. The story of life. The story of freedom. The story of miracles that point to the glory of His power and how human efforts aren’t enough and will be destroyed until all that is left is Jesus. He is our hope. He is our safe haven.

Jesus is not just my pal who I bring along with me. He is all of me. We abide in each other. That’s when true rest can enter the scene. When we no longer look at our own Egypt as a land of slavery and oppression, but a place that brings safety and freedom from the cruelties of this fleeting world. Only God could change the narrative, and He did. Praise God. Praise Emmanuel. That’s what we sing this time of year, God with us. The story you are living has been written by the Author of Life. It hasn’t been thrown together for us to figure out and ask Jesus to just walk next to us when life isn’t working. He is our life. He is our living Hope. Our souls are intertwined and intermingled in Heavenly realms. In the unseen. In the mundane. In the mistakes. In the ugly moments. In the mess ups. In the hangups. In the jail cell. In the divorce court room. At the bar. After a one night stand. On the asphalt of a parking lot.

Swing Sets

Swing Sets

How an afternoon on the swing set became a lifestyle…

It’s been a while since I’ve been on a swing set. I’ve been sick the past few weeks, and sometimes getting outside in this beautiful weather is the only thing that doesn’t make me feel like a lethargic noodle. On my walk the other day, I passed a park. About a dozen families were out there with their little ones. They were pushing their kids on the swing, watching them go down the slide, and helping their kids muster strength for the monkey bars.

I decided to go on the swing, as soon as some of the crazy kids cleared off.

I had forgotten how fun it was to “swing on the swings”. A perfect fall day activity. There is still something so competitive in me that I wanted to swing higher than the kid next to me haha… but once he got off, I was able to enjoy the swing for what it was worth.

When you pump your legs, the swing moves. The bigger the pump, the faster and higher you go. If you want to slow down, you just merely stop pumping until you eventually stop. When I was little, my pumping only got me so high. Now that I am older and have more leg strength… I can pump myself higher and go for longer. However, the other day I stopped pumping only because my legs were tired… not because I wasn’t enjoying the ride and the swing… but because I was physically tired.

I was bummed because I wanted to keep swinging but my legs were burning. I thought, man, to be a kid again and have someone just push you. Kids could literally be on the swing for hours with someone pushing them. Like the kids I nanny, “One more time Brookie! Keep pushing me. Higher. Higher” They giggle, and time just seems to have no say in those moments. As a kid, you didn’t have to pump. You never got tired of swinging because someone was pushing you and controlling the pace of the swing.

Adulting Sucks

There is so much beauty and power in being a kid. I think us adults are tired and burnt out. Myself included. Within 30 seconds of meeting me you know I’m a go getter. I rarely say no to a challenge. It could be an ab challenge, Bible reading challenge, running, lifting, no social media… you name it… I’ll sign up. This can be a good thing when it comes to being disciplined, but I also fall into the trap of being performance based and grow tired.

On the swings, it hit me. I need to become a child again. In a world full of people proving, pushing, persuading, and “pumping”, we lose the childlike ability to trust someone else to get us where we ultimately want to be. Perhaps God wants us to enjoy the ride, but not in our own strength which causes burn out. What if even as adults, with careers, kids, responsibilities, debt, and personal upkeep… He wants us to enjoy the life set before us. You see we are disillusioned as adults. We think the “bigger our muscles”, the more we can push ourselves higher on the swing set of life.

But what if that strength was given to us to surrender… to realize that no matter how strong we get we still need someone that can push us so we can enjoy the ride. No father pushing their kid on the swing is gonna say to their kid, “Okay, sweetie now that you turned 6 last week and your muscles are growing, I want you to push yourself and get as high as daddy pushed you last week… but don’t worry I’ll be on the park bench secretly waiting for you to realize you can’t do it.”

If you are a dad and you think that… you be friggen cray.

But so many of us think that way about Jesus. We think our past, the lessons we have learned, the endurance we’ve produced, and the strength we’ve gained are all for carrying us through the next hard thing. If we partner our strength with a dose of God’s love n slap a smile on our faces, then we can continue the Christian life. This way of thinking will cause burnout. What God is interested in is humility…despite the muscles. Growing, responsibilities, discipline, strength, and principles are necessary when it comes to living… but so many of us Christians think we gain those things in order to live a more effective Christian life…

Backwards Thinking

No no no hunny bunny. We got this backwards. That is worldly thinking. That is us thinking that we were rescued in order to pump ourselves to live a better life and bring a few souls with us… then burnout enters stage left and we are back to square one.

Let’s put it this way, when I was on the swing pumping “higher and higher” the swings were enjoyable. I got to see the river, enjoy the wind on my face, and have moments of bliss… but amid all of that was muscle fatigue. When someone pushes you, you get the joy of the ride without the muscle fatigue. This is surrender. You can work 9-5, setup a 401k, put your kids in the best university, buy a house, get a cat or dog (hopefully dog, I hate cats), get married by 22, go to church, and even encourage someone through a blog (me), but only encounter joy for a few moments because underneath it all you are fatigued. Your muscles are cramping. Then you think to yourself, this isn’t even worth it because I am tired.

When I stopped pumping on the swing, I came to a slow stop. “I was like well, that was fun, but I am reminded as to why I do not go on the swings.” I was kind of sore the next day HAHA. If someone would have come and pushed me, I would have stayed. Unfortunately, this story only counts as a good metaphor, because a grown woman was not finna ask a dad or mom at the park to come push me. Social boundaries are a good thing people. But you get the picture.

I think about our lives and how God really intended us to live. In freedom. With Him. We can go back to the Garden of Eden and see just how God wanted us to live. In abundance, eating, enjoying, sleeping, multiplying, and fellow-shipping. Then sin entered and cursed us and the earth and everything in it. Now we live in an era where we are smarter, more resourced, and “stronger”. We try everything we can to reverse the curse in our lives; enjoying the “high” moments as they come paired with a lil muscle fatigue- thinking God abandoned us when the low moments come our way.

Real Life

We need to go back to simplicity of living. From the mouth of Jesus, “Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it” (Luke 17:33). I used to read this verse thinking “I need to do more to lose my life. To give it up.” Maybe I need to do the Christian life more effectively. That way of thinking is still my sloppy attempt at securing my life, but now I am just labeling it The Life of a Christian. Losing my life is literally surrendering every thought of control, outcome, expectation, and works realizing I am nothing and cannot do this life without Him.

When Jesus was preaching a series of parables, people were bringing their babies to him, so that He would touch them. The disciples, his own close followers rebuked them…. Listen closely to what Jesus does, “Jesus, however, invited them: ‘Let the little children come to me, and don’t stop them, because the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’” (Luke 18:15-17)

Notice He says, “such as these”. He doesn’t say anyone under the age of 2… No. He is acknowledging the humble hearts of those who earnestly seek and depend on Him.

What does this look like in your life? If you think you have the answer, you don’t. If you think you have the muscles, wisdom, and resources to get yourself to where you see yourself in the future, you don’t. If you think you have the looks and personality for the marriage you’ve always wanted, you don’t. If you think you have the financial security to give, you don’t. If you think you are ready for what God has next for you, you aren’t.

You know what you have? Jesus. The only guarantee. That’s who you have. He has done the work.“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.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

These other things are false senses of security. This is what has us disillusioned as adults. We think the gifts, talents, resources, “blessings” and growth were all bequeathed to us to give us a full life… to help us “pump harder” to gain more joy in life. When life itself is hidden in Christ, in His very nature. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10b). And when you think you need to be more like Jesus, you do, but you can’t do it. Behavior modification to be more like Jesus, adapting His principles is just making more laws and rules on yourself to generate happiness. Fatigue. We are being transformed into the likeness of Christ…by Christ. We can do NOTHING apart from Him. Even the good things He wants us to do for others. We cannot do it. We are nothing without Him.


“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing…”(John 15:1-8)

When someone is pushing you the whole time, you can relax and enjoy the ride with no fatigue. The pressure to perform is off of you. He does it all. We participate. You encounter rest and enjoyment, all in the safety of a man who does not grow tired or weary of pushing you and sustaining you. You see, when you stay on the swing and ask your daddy to come push you, your circumstance doesn’t change nor does the goal of swinging change. The force and source of momentum changes. It’s no longer in your strength, it’s in His. That’s how an afternoon on the swings becomes a lifestyle. The highs- the lows- the death- the disease- the mountains-the valleys- the joys- the excitement all of it, we are guided by His hand. And we know that no one can snatch us from His hand. “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29).

We are the only ones who can alter our experience on the swing set of life. We can take control and start pumping again, but when we burnout He will still be there ready to push and sustain you. We will face ups and downs, but will we rely on ourselves to get out of the lows? Or will we trust the mighty hand of God and His strength?

An afternoon on the swings can become your lifestyle as well, when you fully surrender your own strength. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)

PS: Next episode of Write it Down will be out in 9 Days!! December 1st Episode 003 will drop. It’s a good one 😉 Follow @widpod for more updates!