Ahhhh, Christian Bale. You had me at Newsies.
So now that you’re Batman, I feel like a 13-year-old with a crush all over again. (And it’s ok, because Studhubs has a mancrush on him, too).
Going to the movies used to be our favorite pastime, but as new parents to the cutest 4.5 month old alive (see Instagram and prepare to swoon), movies are a distant memory. So when my inlaws offered to babysit Moses Grae Lionheart so we could go see Batman this last week, you better believe we took our Christian Bale crushes and raced to Tinseltown.
The movie—unreal, until the ending. For those of you who haven’t seen it, don’t worry. No spoiler alert here. Let’s just say, it doesn’t merit a blubber-fest, which is what happened. Now mind you, I’m the girl who cries during movie previews and Mother’s day commercials, so this isn’t a rare thing. But crying at the end of Batman? A little strange, even for me.
So what did I do about it? I started talking to God.
“God, WHY do I always do this? Why do I always feel your presence SO strongly enough to cry at the movie theater, or during commercials, or when the US women break the world record in the 100m relay? Is there something wrong with me? Am I too sensitive? Am I just hormonal?”
The response I got wasn’t at all what I expected.
“Because you’re experiencing goodness, so you’re experiencing me.”
At the end of movies when good overcomes evil, when right triumphs over wrong, when bad guys are defeated, good guys save the day, rescue the weak, perform the impossible, and save the world, I experience God. Every time. Why? Because His glory is His goodness. When Liam Niesen crosses the ocean to rescue his daughter who’s been kidnapped and sold into the sex slave industry in Taken, I experience God. Every time an orphan is adopted, the underdog wins, the wounded find love, or someone does something selfless, I experience God, and so do you.
His goodness is His glory, and since He’s the author of goodness, every time it happens, He’s in it.
In Exodus when Moses asks to see God and God hides him in the cleft of the rock and passes by him, the goodness of God passed before His eyes. So where there’s goodness, you have God. Every time. God and goodness stick together like velcro, even when someone who doesn’t believe in God is doing good.
I love to experience God, so this is a fantastic and simple discovery. Because every time I release goodness or encounter goodness, I get to encounter God.
Makes you rethink a lot of Christian stances against Hollywood, huh? (:
And the sad thing is, a lot of people are preaching against movies, people, and lifestyles instead of just getting up out of church pews and serving, loving, and doing what needs to be done.
The world doesn’t need another sermon or church. They don’t need judgment and they don’t need cruelty. They need an encounter with goodness, because every time they do, they get to encounter the God of the universe.
Are you encountering God and not even knowing it? Where is the goodness in your life that you might not be seeing? Begin putting on a new perspective and look outside the lines. Look for God in the small things, even in movies, songs, or in the neighbor next door who gets your mail while you’re out of town.
Where can you release the fingerprints of God today, partnering with His goodness? Where can you find Him?
He’s everywhere, just waiting to be found.
Well, the porn shop is still here.
A little over a decade ago, I packed everything I owned into a little Uhaul rental truck, drove through the night listening to REM, and moved into a shoebox 8x16 room on the corner of 14th & 7th in New York City…above a porn shop. (The ultimate NYC experience). I unloaded all my boxes, sat on my wrinkled sheets, and watched the sun rise in this new foreign land of sirens and taxis. I’ll never forget the way the morning light danced off the concrete and glass. It was one of the most beautiful red sunrises I had ever seen.
Every time I come back to this city, I remember that girl. I remember the way she felt, the way she saw the world. I remember how insecure she was, how much she was struggling with food and her body, how every day seemed to be a wrestling match between the truth and the lies she believed. I remember the week she locked herself inside that little room, depressed, weeping, petrified of the future and what the world held. I remember her sitting on the floor, holding her guitar, and pouring out her heart while writing the song Drift Away:
I’m drifting out to where the ocean meets the sky
It’s been awhile since I’ve forgotten what it feels like not to cry
I’m needing You to help me not to drift away, drift away, drift away from You
As I stand in front of my old apartment, I feel like I’m remembering a movie or a story someone told me long ago. I’m so far removed from that girl, locked in her cage of self-hatred, addiction and depression. As I look down and kiss the head of my son, Moses, while holding the hand of my Studhubs, Lucas, I’m in awe of what God has done.
“You really are a miracle worker,” I whisper under my breath.
You can’t make it to freedom and not try to bring everyone with you. When you get a taste of it, when you begin to live it—you want everyone to have it. Why? Because it’s what we all deserve. And no matter what has happened in the past or what you’re currently experiencing, it’s available for everyone. Freedom isn’t just for people struggling with the ‘big’ things like addictions, depression or eating disorders. It’s for anyone who battles anxiety, fear, insecurity, self-hatred. It’s for those who find themselves jealous of others or unable to forgive. It’s for every moment you look in the mirror and judge what you see—believing it’s not good enough.
If you’re still breathing, then you’re a candidate for freedom. No matter what has happened to you, or how old you are—no matter what you’ve done or how impossible it may seem to ever be completely free, I’m here to tell you, it’s not only possible, it’s inevitable when you let God get involved. The purpose of God Loves Ugly is to take the hands of strangers, and guide them in the direction of freedom. Not partial freedom. Not sometime freedom. But total freedom. Either the promises God makes us are true, or He’s a liar. I’ve found out, first hand, that He’s anything but a liar. I’m free because he’s a promise-keeper, and I live to see people discover the TRUTH about this aspect of His nature.
You were made to live free, and there IS a way to freedom. Free from insecurity, free from shame. Free from addiction, free from depression. Free from self-hatred, free from fear. Free from worry, free from anxiety. Free from torment, free from slavery.
Free. Totally free.
Is there an area of your life that you truly believe will NEVER change? Does it seem too big? Too strong? Has it been with you for so long that you’ve surrendered your hands and given up? Hand it over to the God of the impossible. Give Him another chance.
‘God, I surrender _________________ into Your hands. I confess that I don’t believe I can ever change, or that You can really change me. I let go, I give up, I surrender. Come show yourself strong. Come do what You will say you will do. I RECEIVE the truth about You in my life….that You have come to see the captives free—in EVERY area of my life. I won’t live for anything less. In Jesus name, Amen. ’
Be still my beating heart.
My editor at @faithwords just sent me a picture of her holding the first edition hardback cover of #GodLovesUgly. I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas! Thank goodness Christmas comes September 4th this year. (:
Premiere Collectibles has graciously offered to sell a limited amount of autographed first editions on their site:
And no, I don’t just sign my name on the books. I ask God what special message the reader will need as they work their way through the pages. In fact, I ran into a girl at a Johnnyswim show last week in NYC who came up to me and said that the note I put in her book gave her the boost she needed to find deep healing while reading and lose 50 pounds! (I’ll post an interview we shot with her very soon. She’s incredible!).
So order away! All pre-orders count towards first week numbers, and I’m trying to make the New York Times Bestseller List! (name it claim it—blab it grab it. KIDDING. Well, kinda sorta but not really). (:
Thanks for all the beautiful friends I’ve had on this journey who have encouraged me along the way. I feel like this book going from a blog on a Jonas Brother world tour, to a self-published little book, to being picked up by the second biggest publishing company in the world isn’t just MY journey. We’ve all taken it together, because it wouldn’t have happened without you guys.
Thanks for reading this book, for being so loyal, for believing in me and the words on these pages. Thanks for loving and supporting me, for being so encouraging, for caring. Many will heal and find freedom because of you guys, my little grass roots army that helped it all come to pass.
LOVE YOU ALL. Am overwhelmed by your support.
Last week while in New York, I popped over to the Hachette Publishing office to record a few videos. Here’s one describing the day Studhubs caught me binging.
What I thought would be my worst nightmare ended up being the thing that saved me.
There’s something about a group of people who came from outlaws in the UK. Yep, that’s right. England used to send their criminals to Australia. Their just-got-outta-bed-hair, mesmerizing accents, and carefree beach culture doesn’t hurt their case much, either.
They’re just downright cool.
Years ago, I started making trips to the other side of the world to hang out with a bunch of crazy Aussies from a powerful church called Hillsong. And every time I’d get there, without fail, I felt like an Gomer Pyle from the Andy Griffith Show. I would plan my outfits for weeks, laying out everything in detail before packing. I’d get there and realize even with my greatest efforts, my hipster style was a few seasons behind. My pale skin felt blinding up against the their surfer/tan/ripped bodies out at Bondi Beach, and I’d sit covered like a nun in the sun. No matter how hard I tried, I felt like a kid sitting right next to the cool kid table in middle school. You get to listen and watch, but you’re not good enough to join in permanently.
When you feel lacking, what do you do? You either give up and run, or you attempt to make up for the lack.
If I couldn’t be the coolest, or the prettiest, or the hippest, maybe I could be the most spiritual. I’d come ready to debate anyone into the ground with revelatory scripture bullets loaded in my gun. (Oh, how loving). If that didn’t work, maybe I could have the best stories. I’d exaggerate things I’d done over the years, making sure to drop famous names or stories that would make me look more desirable. And if that didn’t work, I’d just be critical of who they were and what their church was doing. “You guys are wrong because….” and “Well, my church does it this way because…” and “Why do you do it like that? That’s dumb.”
If you can’t join them, throw stones at them.
I’m in New York City for 2 weeks, and last night my best friend’s hubby was speaking at Hillsong NYC. Bubby Moses wasn’t napping well, so every time I’d start putting on my make-up or curling my hair, I’d end up having to run in and get him back to sleep. Studhubs took the wrong train and ended up in Queens so he wasn’t going to make it back to the apartment in time to help us get to church. I couldn’t manage getting the stroller in the subway on my own so I was going to have to walk. Far. Let’s just say, after throwing on whatever I could grab quickly, hoisting my 4-day-not-washed-hair up into a ponytail, bolting out of the apartment, and speed-walking over a mile in the sun, I was hot mess. So was Moses. He spit up all over me once I got him out of his stroller. The chunky kind. Awesome.
As church began, I looked around. Yep, the coolest people I’d ever seen were still there, along with some newbies. I smiled a big, genuine smile at them. Then the music started and I sung my heart out to God, unaware of my surroundings. I listened to Carl Lentz speak without the critic screaming in my ear.
All of a sudden it hit me. I’m not ‘aware’ of myself anymore. I’m not trying to be someone I’m not, attempting to be more, or feeling like I’m not good enough.
I just am.
These are the moments in life you never forget, grateful to the core, overwhelmed by how good God is and how His love really does work.
My book God Loves Ugly re-releases with a major publisher in just over a month. And over this next month, I’m going to start blogging, once again, about how my heart and my life got from the cage of performance, perfectionism, addiction and self-hatred…..TO the girl I am today living in rest, peace, wholeness and joy.
And I promise you, freedom isn’t just for me. I wasn’t one of the magic few. It’s for anyone who’s willing go to war to find peace.
So if that’s you, and you’re ready for peace in every area of your heart, tune back in Monday, Wednesday and Friday for new blogs, videos, and updates.
MUST HAVE MORE.
Yep. I must. And so I will.
I have the great honor of speaking at the More Conference here in Nashville next month, May 25-28, along side some INCREDIBLE peeps:
Alyn & AJ Jones (who rock my face off and are some of our closest friends here: http://www.catalysthome.org/)
Gary Morgan from down under: http://garyandsarah.org/
Chris McClarney, Michaela McClaird, Cory Asbury, & Luke Finch will be leading worship.
It’s basically going to rock-n-roll…awesome style. You won’t want to miss it.
If you’re in Nashville or live close…come hang out. Registration is up right now and there’s discounts for pre-orders….so getcha butt moving and sign up!
Ps. I can only sell my books when I’m speaking….so if you’ve been wanting a copy of God Loves Ugly, here’s your chance!
I can’t tell you the number of people who text, call, or email asking me to tweet about their album or project. Most of the time I don’t, mainly because I don’t want to bombard you with ‘suggestions.’ If I’m in love with it and think the world will be better for hearing it, I’m going to rave.
Well, friends, get ready for a gush.
I’ve known Abner and Amanda for over a decade, but it wasn’t until we moved to Los Angeles last year that our hearts got linked up forever. You know when you meet those people and it just feels like home? Yep, that’s them—home base for our hearts. And funny enough, it’s the name of the project they just released today.
However, I’m not gushing because they’re our besties. I’m gushing because this is not just good music, it’s the kind of music that makes you want to go make music, or create something beautiful, or kiss someone, or cry, or fall in love. It’s the kind of music that you want playing as you walk through this life.
You can download it on their website today for free: http://JOHNNYSWIM.COM/
Or you can help support what they’re doing and spend what you’d spend on a Carmel Machiato: http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/home-vol.-1-ep/id514031597
Oh, and I dare you to watch the video for ‘Annie’ and not get choked up: http://johnnyswim.com/videos
Let’s get this viral people.
Yes, I’m able to write part 2 because once again….I woke up without going into labor. (Sad violin playing in the background). I’m telling you, I must be running a 5-star hotel in there—my little boy is so cozy he doesn’t want to come out!
I’m 6 days over my due date and apparently, the average first born child comes 10 days overdue. Don’t even get me started on this whole ‘due date’ thing. They tell you it’s really a ‘due month’ and that baby can safely come 2 weeks before your due date AND 2 weeks after. So for the sake of my head and HEART….next time, I’m going to have them tell me my due MONTH.
Talk about learning how to give up control. You’re waiting in expectation for the most exciting thing that’s ever happened to you…..for an entire month. Yes, I’m learning a whole new level of patience….every single day. (:
So Part 2 of my must have’s/do’s for pregnancy.
1) WATCH ‘THE BUSINESS OF BEING BORN’ ON NETFLIX.
Expect to see boobies. Expect to see a natural birth (not a gross video like the one from your 6th grade health class—a beautiful one). And expect to bawl your eyes out in a good way.
Before I got pregnant, I was one of those women who would quickly give the response, “Oh, man…give me the drugs!” I HATE physical pain. Hate it. I thought, “If you can give me drugs to help the whole process, why in the world would I consider anything differently?” After watching this documentary by Ricky Lake, I definitely changed my tune.
Childbirth is a big business in the United States. They want those hospital beds filled then emptied, filled then emptied. If you go into labor and want to hang around for 24 hours, you’d better believe they’re going to give you drugs to speed along the process…drugs that haven’t been necessary for thousands of years and that can actually cause duress, stress, and trauma to your baby in the womb. The US has one of the highest cesarean rates in the world…and why? Because we tell our bodies when to have contractions instead of waiting for them to happen the way God intended. Sometimes, when you force your body through meds to have contractions it isn’t ready to have, the baby that’s not ready to come goes into ‘stress.’ That’s when the doctor comes in and says, “Ma’am, for the sake of your baby, we need to do surgery and get it out.” A surgery that, a lot of times, was brought on by the drugs you didn’t need in the first place!
Yep. The Western world is still trying to control everything—even something that was never meant to be controlled.
Our babies know when they need to be born. Our bodies know when our babies need to be born. What has been sold to us as women as a benefit to child birth…in actuality…has convinced us that we don’t know how to have babies.
Educate yourself. Know the TRUTH about the drugs they’re wanting to put into your body. Know the truth about child birth. The more you know, the less fear you’ll have.
Watch this trailer for The Business of Being Born:
2) READ ‘SUPERNATURAL CHILDBIRTH’ BY JACKIE MIZE
I teach classes every year at the Bethel Worship School in Redding, California, and I remember last year asking the class if they’d ever heard of anyone having a completely pain-free childbirth. I was surprised when several students raised their hands, giving testimonies of women and friends who had had babies with literally….NO PAIN.
This intrigued me. (Duh….I hate pain).
As a Jesus-luva, I’d heard about pain, suffering, disease and affliction being paid for at the cross. I’d heard about miracles and healings, and I’d seen and experienced many of them myself. I knew that God could heal people of cancer and broken bones, and that the deaf could hear and the blind could see. But a pain-free childbirth? That wasn’t something I’d heard preached about. Ever.
My doula (who is a birth-coach and someone who will be with me and Studhubs for the whole labor process) suggested this book, and unfortunately, I didn’t read it until a couple of months ago. BIG mistake. Next time, I’ll have this book with me from start to finish.
This woman, Jackie Mize, began looking at God’s promises (and there are a lot of them!). She saw how Eve’s curse of childbearing in Genesis was actually PAID FOR by what Jesus did…and that when Jesus said that he died for ALL pain, he meant ALL pain. Why couldn’t this mean the pain of labor and delivery?
Her and her husband began pumping their hearts and spirits full of God’s promises, of everything He said in His word, and when it came time to have her baby…she was in and out, pushed twice, and with NO pain…had 3 children. Wham, bam, slam, thank you ma’am. The book is full of testimony after testimony of women saying the same thing…that because of what God has promised us, they went into labor and delivery and popped out babies with absolutely no fear and pain.
I mentioned yesterday that fear releases 1400 chemicals into the body, and that none of them are good. Fear in childbirth is actually the number one cause of pain, which is why, when you agree with God that His perfect love casts out ALL fear…it makes sense that pain goes away. It makes sense that pain is under the curse and we don’t have to tolerate it. It makes sense that this birthing process can be incredible, and not horrific like every movie claims it’s going to be.
When people ask me if I’m scared, I just smile. What in the world could I possibly be afraid of? God knew about my baby before the beginning of time, and He’s going with me INTO birth.
Fear is a complete waste of my time. (:
Ok, once again, this is getting long. Which is why, I’ll continue tomorrow.
If I haven’t had a baby by then.
Yep, that was definitely me about 10 months ago.
When I got pregnant, I had no idea about the mysteries of episiotomies, mucus plugs, and perineal massage (which is NOT a massage, folks. And whatever you do…DON’T youtube it!). I had no idea that when you sneeze you might just pee your pants, or that Tums would be apart of your daily regiment from heartburn. I had no idea that when gas and air builds up in there and baby squirms, watch out, people. (Just keeping it real).
But even with all the strange noises, emotions, squirts, and lack of control of bodily functions, I must say…..I have never enjoyed anything in the world like I’ve enjoyed being pregnant.
For years I’d heard people complain. You feel fat, you feel tired, your ankles swell, morning sickness is a pain in the butt, you can’t sleep, all you want to do is eat…and I must say, I went into pregnancy with a completely unrealistic, and if I’m honest, depressing view of the whole process. (Thank you, American media and Debbie Downers).
But the first time you feel him kick….this life, this person, this creation growing inside of you….it takes your breath away. Literally. The first time Studhubs and I saw his little legs and arms moving around on the ultrasound screen, we both cried and wondered why in the world we’d waited so long to embark on the most important journey of our lives.
A few things we’ve done the entire pregnancy that I know made my experience an incredible one. These are my must-do’s/have’s for pregnancy:
1) We blessed the baby’s spirit every night.
We’re all made up of a spirit, a soul and a body. Every one of us. Your soul is your mind, your will, and your emotions, so obviously, this part of you doesn’t get activated until you come out into the world. Your body is your earthsuit and houses your soul, so of course, it’s still developing inside the womb. But your spirit is fully developed, even as your body is growing inside of your mother. We gave our baby’s spirit a 9 month head-start on his soul and his body by blessing and praying and pumping that spirit full of God’s promises EVERY night. The book we used is called Blessing Your Spirit by Arthur Burke, and he’s also got incredible resources specifically for babies on his website (http://www.theslg.com/).
They have CRAZY testimonies of babies that were diagnosed without the proper X & Y chromosomes in the womb, they blessed the baby’s spirit every night with God’s promises of fullness and wholeness….and the baby came out with everything they needed! Not only that, it was one of the most powerful things we’d experienced as a family. Every night, the three of us, as a family, would get blessed with the promises of God…and blessings are FAR more powerful than curses. I felt things beginning to change inside of me, simply by sitting under the waterfall of God’s promises every night.
Powerful, powerful stuff. (In fact, I suggest this book even if you’re not pregnant or having a baby! There’s nothing more powerful than a blessing!)
2) I NEVER, EVER, EVER spoke negatively over my body or my baby.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve overheard a mom speaking death over her body and her baby. ”This thing inside of me is making me fat….” or “I’m a heifer because of this dang pregnancy…” or “If I can just get this thing out of me…”
Your baby feels, hears, and responds to every single thing you do as a mother. Talk about massive accountability and responsibility. The babies know when they’re unwanted…they know when you’re depressed. They hear when you blame them for feeling ugly or fat…even though you think they might not understand…their spirits hear and feel EVERYTHING.
Even if I had a moment of panic when my jeans didn’t fit anymore, or when my ankles started to swell, or the 3 months I laid in bed because of morning sickness…I held myself accountable to what I chose to SPEAK over my body and my child…and I NEVER agreed with negative emotions. Ever. I never wanted my beautiful boy to hear that it was his fault that I felt a certain way, or that I was disappointed or angry…or just wanted it all to be over with.
I blessed my body to work properly, the way God intended. I blessed my appetite to be healthy and not excessive. I blessed my cravings to what I needed, and not to be indulgent. I blessed my skin to be elastic and to stretch. I blessed my hormones to be exactly what I needed…and when they seemed to be a bit too much, I blessed my emotions to be in alignment with the truth of God’s word. Because of this, I honestly can say I experienced massive amounts of JOY every day of my pregnancy.
I’m constantly challenging you to watch what you say over yourselves because it creates either life or death….how much more are you accountable to watch what you say over the children you’re entrusted to raise?
3) I stopped people who wanted to tell me their horror stories and only listened to and read testimonies that brought excitement and not fear.
There are a lot of well-meaning people out there that have had a lot of tragedy happen in childbirth….and they want to tell you about it. What I’ve learned is, this only creates fear, anxiety, and an expectation that’s contingent on someone else’s PAST and not YOUR future.
If someone wanted to tell me how horrible they had it, I’d just politely stop them and tell them what God had told me my pregnancy and childbirth was going to be like. I’d declare God’s PROMISE and not come into agreement with what I KNOW wasn’t His will. It’s never God’s will for someone to have trauma during birth. It’s never His will for panic, fear, and complication. In fact, did you know that fear releases over 1400 chemical responses in the body, and that none of them are good ones? Fear is actually the NUMBER ONE REASON FOR PAIN DURING CHILDBIRTH.
People ask me, “Are you afraid?” and I look at them like they have a few screws loose.
Afraid of what? Afraid of birthing a life that God has ordained into existence before the beginning of time? Afraid of doing something that women have done for thousands of years? Afraid of my body performing the way that God created it to perform? Why in the world would I be afraid of life happening??
Expectation is a massive part of the outcome. If you expect terror, then a lot of times, terror is what you’re going to get. If you expect complications, believe me, your fear and anxiety can actually chemically produce duress in your physical body.
I have pumped myself full of so many promises…of so much peace, of joy, of godly expectation….What in the world do I have to fear?
Ok, this is getting long, and I have a few more things to post. So I’ll post part 2 tomorrow.
Remember, no matter if you’re at the place in your life where you’re expecting babies, have babies, or are far from it….it’s never too early or too late to align your perspective, your heart, and your expectation on what God has created childbirth to be, and not what movies, Hollywood, and the world have claimed it is.
It’s not this tragic, horrible, scream at the top of your lungs experience that I thought it was 10 months ago. It’s life coming from life, it’s purpose coming from purpose, and it’s hope coming from hope.
Love you all.