Thursday, September 29, 2011

October Advertising Spots!

It's almost October, everybody! This means advertising spots are opening back up! I'll be taking this post down in a few days, but I wanted to give all of you the opportunity to advertise if you haven't seen the tweets & Facebook shout-outs about it!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Your Homosexuality vs. My Pornography

I slouched in my booth, staring at the last few crumbs on my plate, trying to stifle the suffocating internal heat. He ignored my silence and volleyed his question right back over the table top for the third time. "But it's a SIN. Why won't you admit to me that it's a SIN."

"Because I don't understand why it's so important that I say that." I mumbled, as I moved the crumbs into a little circle with my straw.

"Because it's SIN. Sin is important, Lauren."

The bitter edge in his voice snapped something inside of me and I slammed my hands down on the table in Panera. "I don't CARE if it's sin or if it's not! It doesn't MATTER to me. And I'm not going to say that it is or isn't because I'M NOT GOD. Even if I think it's sinful, it changes NOTHING. It makes it worse. And I can't STAND the hate in your voice."

And so ended one more stupid conversation over homosexuality. A waste of words. One more place that sin was granted more power than it ever should have been given. One more relationship strained because a well-seated self-righteousness was given more weight than grace.

Yesterday, I read Emily's words, "I cry for fear of Christians finding me and learning I had a homosexual friend who was the most Christ-like person I've ever known."

Yesterday, I tweeted "Tired of the gay community being the Christian's advanced challenge for grace & acceptance. Man looks at appearance, God looks at the heart." And was barraged by people who replied, "I don't understand" and "It's not our place to fix their problem, it's God's."

This morning I woke up to an email from a 16 year old girl who just met Jesus - and got into a fight with her Atheist parents over homosexuality at the breakfast table. She was searching for someone else to defend her desire to love unconditionally and without question.

Today I sit in front of Jesus and hand him a list of every man's name that I've slept with and kissed - and a face sketched for the names I don't remember. Today I sit at Jesus' feet with an entire book filled with every lie I've ever told and every hateful comment I've ever made.

Today I sit next to Jesus and hide my face while he watches my life play back on the screen - every night I've draped myself over men at the bar and mixed profane lips with a half-dressed body, every minute I've spent watching pornography, and every coffee date I've gossiped about other women behind their backs.

Today I hand Jesus a lifetime of bank statements with every outrageous, self-satisfying expense highlighted - and I watch Him add up my selfishness that I "deserved" as He pulls a small, motherless and homeless child closer to Him in his lap.

Today I sit in the dirt, unable to see Jesus' ripped flesh on the cross through my tears. Knowing that it is for MY sins that He has endured Hell.

As I sob, I am approached by a stranger to grace who points at another man and says, "Tell me that it is sin. Tell me that his sexuality is a sin."

And I feel my soul stretch to it's breaking point.

I struggle to stand to my feet, with emotions I cannot distinguish raging through my veins. A jumble of fiery words tumble over one another in my mind. I want to scream, "HOW DARE YOU" to the accuser.

Instead, I stumble and fall in the arms of the other man - and cling to him for comfort. He is a man who knows what brokenness feels like. He is a man who has been trying since the day he was born. He is a man with his own pain-filled list of lovers. We are men and women who have become brand new and beloved, at the foot of the cross.

I call him brother. Because he is.

And together we are a broken generation of children who stand in the face of the accuser, so desperately needing a Father who refuses to look at our physical bodies and looks only at our hearts.

A Father who views us as wholly pure - who no longer names any of our sins because he has removed it from us as far as the East as the West, and does not remember it.

Believe me when I say that we are all born diseased, and Jesus has healed all of His children of every piece of brokenness.

- - - - -

"When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony of God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power, so that you faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God's power." II Corinthians 2:1-4

"I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that there be no divisions among you but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought." I Corinthians 1:10

"God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; the weak things to shame the strong. God chose the lowly and despised things - so that no one may boast before him. It is because of Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us our righteousness, our holiness, and our redemption." I Corinthians 1:28-30

"You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister]? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat." Romans 14:10

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Letter To My 18 Year Old Self - And My Story.

Some of you know pieces of "my story," others none at all. One day, I'll have more of it written out - and it is a gift to me that this blog is the slow uncovering of my never-ending wrestling match with it. Thank you for listening, and for loving me through it. It has meant the world to me.

I'll be honest, I try to not speak of it much here. I was born in the South, homeschooled, and raised in an ultra conservative home under a definition of sheltered that most people aren't familiar with. The oldest child of 4, we were to be "set apart" - never coming into contact with the sinful world. I lived in a bubble, with restrictions like no television, no movies, no public schooled friends, and no books unless dad read them first. All letters I wrote and received had to be read by a parent before they entered or exited the home, and every church sermon was picked apart at the Sunday dinner table, truth re-stated and lies cast out, until my heart was bloody. I didn't have friends at church; youth group wasn't allowed, and I dressed funny, so the other girls in Sunday school class didn't talk to me. I never went on a date or kissed a boy before I was 18, and I went through my teenage years with no make-up, no nail polish, and no girls nights allowed. My teenage years were instead full of politics, speech and debate, and discussing the perversion that is American society.

To this day, I haven't seen The Little Mermaid, and if you joke about an actor, TV show, or musician between 1987 and 2003, I will look at you with same expression I give astrophysicists when joking about microquasars. This morning in bed, my husband asked me if I knew what Seinfeld was and I replied happily, "Yes, it's a cartoon!"

Somewhere between age 16 and 18, I began questioning things. I was introverted, and miserable. There were too many secrets I couldn't share, too many things I couldn't do, and too many books I couldn't read. And I was desperate to have fun, and to stop thinking. Weeks after turning 18, I walked out of my home. I went to the only safe place I knew, and stayed there. 6 months later I moved for the 10th time in my life to Phoenix, Arizona to go to college. Since then, I have moved 22 times, not including the last 7 months of living in a car while I travel the US.

My life has never been the same. I lost my family, my friends, and I have spent every day of the last 6 years learning who I am, who God is, and how the world functions.

Much of it was a clean break, and much of it was a slow, brutal tearing apart.

I sat down last night with a heavy heart to write a letter to my 18 year old self. So many women have asked me to share my story. One day, it will be a book, but for today, it is in the form of a letter I wish someone had written me 6 years ago.

- God is not who you think He is. He is bound by nothing and no one. Don't be afraid to question what you know of Him. Don't be afraid to question the rules as laid out for you. God is big enough to handle it, and crossing the lines of religion, denomination, subcultures & belief systems will not break your God, or revoke your salvation.

- God will fight in your defense. Even when you are suffocating and drowning in confusion, when the ground underneath you seems unsteady and faulty, He will always know your heart and will never condemn you for your lack of understanding. He is the God of wisdom and of truth. If you seek it from Him, He may re-write what you know, and that is okay.

- It will be harder than you think. This isn't teenage rebellion, and it isn't the miscommunication of the generation gap. You will not wake up one day and have parents again, and your decision to walk out on your own means God will reassign new family members to you. Permanently. It will be painful, especially on holidays and birthdays, but in the end, you will find out that biological family is given to us to represent spiritual family - and you are simply learning it the hard way.

- Your heart is not evil, nor is it deceitful. Do not be afraid of yourself; God created you and set those desires in your heart for good. Submit yourself to Him, and you have nothing to fear. Dig deep into what makes you happiest, what triggers emotional responses, and what you are drawn to. It isn't you being worldly or sinful, and you will not be punished by God for them. Live life fully, and don't be afraid to breathe. Your mistakes are already paid for, and fear does nothing to stop death - only to stop life.

- It will get better. Those girls you envy, that are confident and beautiful? Those girls that have friends to laugh with and cry with? Those girls who have good men in their lives and a future they look forward to? Those girls who aren't plagued by confusion, depression, and loneliness? Those girls who can have fun? In six years that will be you. And those years will go by fast. Take it one day at a time, and don't try to become someone else. Become what you love, and a miracle will happen: You will become that girl.

- Read, a lot. You have years and years of truth and love to re-write into your heart. You were born broken, just like the rest, but in your own unique way, too. It takes reading about others' childhoods, brokenness, and fears to see what Jesus can do to a woman's soul. Acknowledge that you're just trying to figure things out - and read everything that gets put in front of you that has to do with healing. It will slowly permeate your mind and heart, and truth will soothe the ache.

- The numbness will go away, at the cost of your innocence. You'll slowly learn how to be human, and you'll slowly begin to feel normal. I know that in a desperate attempt to be 'just like everyone else' you'll get drunk at the frat house, you'll kiss boys whose names you don't know, and you'll watch pornography. I know you'll sleep with a guy you don't even like in a self-loathing attempt to destroy the Holier Than Thou reputation you've grown up with your entire life. It will wreck you, instead of heal you - but it will bring you to a new understanding of Grace that God needed you to experience. It will be part of your story.

- Read the four gospels. Every single day. Take a break from theology, and let go of what is right and what is wrong. At the end of the day, your salvation rests on Jesus alone, and he cares only for your heart, not for how much you know. Pay attention to what he talked about most: Compassion, healing, taking care of the widows and orphans, dealing out grace and mercy, overlooking tradition for the sake of love, and making people new. Our first command is to love one another, and you will not be able to do that with judgement and bitterness in the way.

- Be the little girl that you are. God knows you're scared of growing up, and he knows that right now, you despise men. He sees you as pure and innocent, and when you can't explain yourself, he already knows your heart. God desperately wants to be your Father, not your life coach, your teacher, your business consultant, or your boss. He just wants to be your Father, and sitting in His lap sobbing, "I don't know, I don't know" is okay - just as a little girl falls, gets hurt, and buries her face in her fathers lap to cry and beg him to fix it. God will always defend your innocence; Jesus loves the little children.

- Choose to always believe that God is good. You'll always believe that God loves you, but you'll stop believing that He is good. Like dark-chocolate-and-a-big-hug kind of good. Your life is in shambles, and He knows it. You'll be a mess for awhile, but He has a plan. You'll hate it, you'll get sick of it, it won't make sense, and you'll cry yourself to sleep a lot - but He will always be good, and you must always believe it. The moment you stop believing it, your heart will break all over again, and you'll start sabotaging yourself. Dig your heels in and believe that God is good.

- Being a girl is okay. All the things you weren't allowed to do in high school, go do them! No matter how silly, how impractical, and how pink they are. Buy the colored eyeliner, get a brazilian wax, color your hair, paint your nails black, spend too much money on shampoo, go see outrageous chick flicks, buy that sequined little black dress, buy the scandalous lingerie and enjoy laughing at trash reality TV. Not everything has to be practical, and you don't have to think in black and white. Find yourself somewhere in there, and learn to enjoy being a woman.

- Your parents' definition of sin may not be God's definition of sin. Sin is missing the mark, choosing to live a life apart from God's way, and letting self-centeredness grip your heart. Just as one culture believes a woman without a headcovering is sin while another believes that voting Democrat is a sin, neither of these hold any weight over anyone's salvation. Don't give sin power where it doesn't deserve to have any. Choose instead to see people how Jesus saw them: all in universal need of His love to fill their empty hearts.

- It isn't your job to find a man to love you. One day, after you've made way too many mistakes and gotten your heart broken, you'll decide to revert to what you believed when you were a little girl: You'll get married, and it will be amazing. I don't mean this in a naive, Cinderella sort of way - I mean that the man you're going to marry is already born, and when he meets you, you won't have to fight to get his love or attention. God made it that way, and it's okay to believe it stubbornly like a little girl. And it is true what they say: When you know, you will know.

- It's your life. I know you don't believe me, but really, it is. You were created to live a life no one else can live. If you live a life dictated by someone else, then you were not necessary. And God does not create unnecessary things. There will be things only you feel, things only you experience, and at the end of the day, you need to be the one who loves what she is doing with her life. People will be unhappy with you, and family and friends will disagree with you. God has a story for everyone's life, and you will not live that story if you're letting others write it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Yesterday Is Dead & Tomorrow Is Not Yet Born

Sometimes, few words are best. I've been noticing that Jesus tells very short stories. I've been in a season of wanting to talk less, to listen more. It's a little bit of being tired, a little bit of burn out, and a lot of knowing that at the end of the day, you are just like me: A girl with a lot of problems, a lot of questions, and only one Savior.

I was going to write a long post about how I've been cutting things out of my life. How I left most of my artwork, clothes, and letters I've held onto for years back in Ohio last month. How I stood over a small fire in my back alley, watching years of court documents and condemning letters burn into ash before my eyes. I wanted to write about coming to terms with missing relationships in my life; ones I desperately want, but cannot have. About the pain that comes with little deaths, and the joy that stubbornly arrives the morning after. About the silly things: unfollowing, unsubscribing, and hemming in my heart in a way I never have. And to write about how I've learned to instantly toss out anything that reminds me of a past life; a woman who I used to be, but am no longer.

I wanted to tell you all to jealously protect the life you want to create; to share how I've chosen to let go of things, people, and memories. And how I wish someone had given me the strength to do it years ago.

But all I can write is that I now know the difference between yesterday and tomorrow. That I will never live in either of them. But that my place will forever stand right here, in the middle, called "Today."

Today, I have to decide if Jesus is enough for me. Today, I will learn to wrestle with the hope of heaven. Today, I will be content in not knowing the answers - and no longer being concerned that I do not know. Today, I will sit and hear stories of girls with broken pasts and broken hearts, desperate for love, and say, "I have found no answer other than Jesus."

Today I will choose to act on the truth I know, even when I do not understand it.

Today I will choose to trust in love that was proven by death on a cross, even when I don't feel it.

Today I will choose to believe that I was made beautiful, even when I cannot see it.

My yesterday is dead, and my tomorrow has not yet been born.

Today is the only day that is alive. And for the very first time, I am going to live it.

I am out of words, so I made this pretty little thing to remind us all that it's hard to slough off the past, but so worth it. Feel free to Pin it, tweet it, blog it, put it on your bathroom mirror, anything. Also, I just finished re-designing my new sister-in-law's blog, so you should take a peek & say hello to her.

What have you cut out of your life recently? What do you need to let go of? Do you need prayer for the courage to do so? I want to hear. Leave it in the comments.

Friday, September 9, 2011


So, I got married on Saturday!! It was the best day of my life, followed by the best extended weekend on my life. Denver is the most beautiful place on earth, and I'm forever glad that I was so adamant about getting married on a mountain at sunset.

I am so blessed that my heart hurts.

I have promised the world a post on how to keep a wedding under a thousand dollars*, but for now, I'm just going to show off a couple of my favorite photos so far, and answer the questions everyone's dying to know:

No, I don't really feel "married," just like you didn't really feel "18" or "21." Yes, I was way more nervous on my wedding day than I expected to be. Yes, we're still in Denver. And yes, the sex is great! (We both blog about sex and porn, so yes, I know that's your only real question.)

1. How To Plan A Wedding For Under $1000
2. What Makes Sex Great, And What Doesn't
3. What I Didn't Expect About Marriage
4. 10 Things He Did Right (& What Makes Men So Valuable)
5. You Decide! (Ask a question/suggest a topic in the comments!)