What I Learned in My First Year of Marriage

I have heard it said, “Your first year of marriage is either really hard or amazing and all that you hoped for.” With my one year anniversary coming up in a couple weeks, I have reflected on this past year and have accepted the reality that my first year of marriage was really hard.

Our wedding and honey moon were more than perfect. It was in the next 12 months that I began to learn things I didn’t want to learn, be shaped in ways that weren’t comfortable, and today I am ready to share those with you.

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Lesson #1: How Divorced Parents Can Affect Your Marriage

The bumpy road began only a couple weeks after our wedding when I was informed that my parents were getting divorced. It’s not that I didn’t see it coming, but there was something about the magic of a new marriage and the bitter ending of one all happening at the same time that sent me into emotional turmoil. The news birthed insecurities, fears, and feelings I had pushed to the wayside. In the same week, I discovered that Russell was still battling a struggle that I thought was gone, and the flashbacks of my childhood began. The panic attacks began, the restless nights, and the fear that I was going down the same road as my parents began to hit me in the face. The temptation to get really involved in your parents divorce when you are in your twenties is all too strong, and can really cause damage to the relationships around you. I have learned that sometimes all you can do is pray, love your family through keeping quiet or knowing the moments when you can share yours pains, and focus on being an advocate for your younger siblings. This lesson is still sinking in, but I encourage anyone who has divorced parents to find a mentor couple who can help you and your spouse sort through all of the messy fears and emotions. The road will feel long and impossible, but trust me, you will come out stronger and more confident in the love that you have.

Lesson #2: Post-Wedding Depression is Real

I never thought it possible to get depressed about being married in the first year of marriage, but it is real, very real. I don’t think I am alone in this either. To be honest, aside from the news of my parents getting divorced, I wasn’t quite sure why I was struggling with being married so much. It took months, a day really focusing on God, and admitting what was in my heart in order to get to the root of the issue.

God revealed to me that I was very bitter towards the “getting married young” box that I felt many people put me in, and I sure didn’t fit in it even though I was married at only 20 years old. I am a free-spirit who loves to travel, live on the edge, and be independent. Oh, and I hate boxes. They suffocate me, and the “getting married young” box wasn’t for this free-spirit. While God called me to get married young, it went against my natural instincts. He gently revealed to me that just because I was married didn’t mean that I had to “settle down” and throw away the adventurous part of me that wanted to go on adventures with God.

I talked to Russell the next day about this epiphany, opening up about how I still wanted to live out the spontaneous part of me that craves life on the edge with God. He responded better than I expected, and shared how he had been reading You and Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan, which had led him to be passionate about us pursuing God’s calling even if that meant that we would be called on mission trips where we weren’t physically side-by-side. In one conversation, the weight of being married lifted and I felt free, relieved, and excited that God had blessed me with a man who is wired to love me for who I am in Christ.

Lesson #3: Pillow Talk is Essential for a Healthy Marriage

Russell and I have had a lot of life changes in the past year between jobs, different schedules, and moving to a new state. These changes have led to weeks of having different sleeping schedules, missing out on the little details of life, and feeling disconnected. Russell got a new job in August that we were really excited for, but it led to him having to work such long hours which led to him falling asleep right after he got home. He didn’t have time or energy to eat with me, talk to me, or be intimate. I hit a breaking point, and would cry at night when he fell asleep from pure physical exhaustion in the middle of a conversation. It took several months, but we finally discovered a way for him to get enough sleep: put conversations before sleeping as a priority, and learn to be honest about where our energy levels are at. I learned not to get bitter about his exhaustion and to appreciate his hard work, and he learned to make adjustments to help me feel heard and wanted. We have really progressed in setting “pillow talk” as a priority, and it has led to hours of great conversation before bed, reading fun stories together before the sand man comes, and sleeping more soundly as a result of feeling connected and loved.

Lesson #4: Don’t Let Money Drive You Apart

I know young married couples are not the only ones who struggle financially, but being 20-somethings with no money can really take a toll on your marriage. They say that money is one of the #1 reasons for divorce in America, and I began to understand why only after a few months of being married. You are trying to abandon the “single-minded” perspective on money and transition to thinking about someone else even when buying a cup of coffee. It was rough, messy, and sometimes we would laugh at ourselves for how petty some of the money arguments started. The arguments quickly dwindled when we decided to grab our computers, notebooks, and make a tentative 5-year financial plan. Guess what? It revolutionized the way we looked at money. While we both make mistakes sometimes and can act selfishly, we don’t let money tear us apart anymore. Money is just “stuff” in the end, and isn’t worth throwing away the good stuff in our marriage. We have learned to communicate, save, and talk to each other even about the small purchases (learning to be considerate, woohoo!).

Lesson #5: Pray Together

It is so easy to let your spiritual walk be separate from each other and your marriage, but don’t let that be a habit that you both carry into the rest of your lives! It takes time and practice to be vulnerable spiritually on a daily basis, but it is oh-so-rewarding! When you pray together regularly, it opens up the opportunity to be honest about where your heart is at, what you are struggling with, and share the desires and dreams on your heart. We were pros at praying together for a few days or even a few weeks, but letting it slip away when life got “too busy.” For the past month, we have been actively reading faith-based books together, sharing our wildest dreams with each other, and praying sincerely together. I have to say for the past month, I have never felt so in-love, head-over-heels for my husband before! This lesson is the freshest, but greatest lesson that I have learned thus far in my marriage. Putting God first brings you together in a way that could never be fully explained. The love you give each other becomes patient, selfless, and unconditional, continually giving me a lens to see just how perfect the love of God is.

I am sure I will have a much longer list after 50 years of marriage, but these are 5 lessons that have helped me learn how to love myself, my husband, God, and friends greater and deeper than I could have ever imagined. I hope that this can inspire and encourage you that you are not alone.

I would love to hear lessons that you have learned in your marriage, questions you may have, and your personal testimony! You can e-mail me at acrazyheartforjc@gmail.com.

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Photography: http://www.bethanysmall.com <— She is amazing and you need to go check out her amazing gift!

Watching Brussels from Our Living Rooms

Airports are often filled with a blend of excitement, tearful goodbyes, impatience, and people trying to make sure they haven’t forgotten anything. This Tuesday morning, in Brussels, Belgium an airport was filled with big explosions followed by screams, terror, and people experiencing the brutality of war for the first time.

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Many of us saw news flood our tvs, social media, and news stands with the images and information about this life-shattering terrorist attack. In one moment, our raised voices towards our spouses or children were silenced, the memes we just scrolled past seemed insignificant, and the drama we thought we had seemed to dissipate as we watched people with children run for their lives.  The reality is, we don’t really understand the gravity of what Belgium and families of the injured and dead are going through right now. We are just standing and sitting as our “world problems” don’t seem to be as big right now. All we can do right now is carry on with our jobs, share articles on Facebook, and try to keep updated if we can handle it.

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Often when big things like this occur in the world, we may spend about a week or more slightly paranoid as we go about our daily life tasks. Many will continue to share posts, feed their paranoia, and get in their heads about what might happen when they go to the grocery store. While those things may seem unavoidable, I would like to encourage you to get on your knees tonight. Maybe you are not the praying type, but tonight, before you go to sleep I invite you to pray with me for the people of Belgium and for the world. May we go to bed tonight feeling unified with our friends and family and our nation.

Many of us have been consumed with politics and elections lately, and I ask you to set those opinions aside for a little while. We can’t let who we are voting for or not voting for be the focus at the moment. We need to focus on loving the people around us well, educating ourselves on how we can support those being effected by attacks, and becoming prayer warriors for the innocent people of the world.

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Let us not get depressed about what news we are hearing, but may it be what drives us to get on our knees, love more, and be unified as people who are ready to stand together in peace.

Pray for Belgium. Pray for our world. Give love generously.

Learn more about the attacks by going to CNN.com

Lessons You Learn as a Dreamer

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

-Eleanor Roosevelt

Hello dreamer, from another dreamer. I actually believe we are all dreamers, just some of us are fueled by our constant dreaming. I am one of those. Over the years, I have learned that there are some ups and downs all people experience when pursuing a dream (or the 200 that you have).

1.You normally don’t have just ONE dream.

If this is you, you’re not alone. I have a new dream consuming my mind every day. It can be so hard to focus on the dreams God is is asking me to set eyes on, because I get tempted to grasp on to more “attainable dreams.” Something I have learned about the “1 Million Dream” mindset is this: I can’t do them all. They each hold value, but I am not called to spread myself as thin as the amount of butter I should be putting on my toast. Sometimes I write out a list of all of the dreams on my heart and then pray over it and ask God what He wants me to focus on. He is so gentle and loving whenever He redirects my heart to the dreams that He has given me. It sometimes can be discouraging, but learning how to give 100% to the dreams I was called to accomplish continues to prove rewarding.

2. You will fail more than you succeed.

This has to be the hardest lesson that I have had to learn over and over and over again. I remember hearing my teaching talk about this in leadership class in high school, and I thought, No way! I have God in my side and He never fails. I was right in the fact that God never fails, but we little humans do. We are not perfect, and we don’t have the power to have all knowledge in something we are pursuing. We will always be learning. I have failed way more than I have succeeded and I am so thankful for all of those failures when I look back. Some failures end in tears, yelling, or on a couch eating a tub of ice cream. Those same failures lead us to the moments where we succeed in ways that knock our socks off. God uses those successes to humble me and show me how He has walked this whole journey with me.

3. Slow and steady wins the race.  

I think we millennials have the hardest time digesting this truth. We want things now. In a world where everything is at our fingertips, we have programmed our brains to think that when we want something, we will get it ASAP. World changers don’t change the world over night. It takes YEARS. Yes, YEARS to often achieve the dreams that come from the depths of our hearts. This lesson is just now sinking into my little brain. I want to publish a book. I want to speak at life changing conferences and seminars. I want to adopt 20 children. I want everyone to know that they are loved. I want to have a missions base where we send out world changers every month. And guess what I need to realize? This all isn’t going to happen this year. Don’t worry, I have already cried about this reality. I am going to start work at Starbucks soon and only God knows how long I will work there. I need to understand that Starbucks isn’t a bump in the road, it is an exciting step towards the future. And this step deserves 100% of my attention, focus, and hard work. If I want everyone to know that they are loved, that starts now. That starts with Starbucks customers, co-workers, and my neighbors.

4. You are not crazy to chase your dreams.

I mean maybe you are crazy in other ways, but you are not crazy to chase your dreams. Those dreams are full of purpose, life, and are worthy of chasing. Your dreams will change the world. They will change your world. They will change the world around you, but most importantly, your world. Chasing your dreams encourages us to pursue God, learn how to love our family and friends, and encourages us to give 100% at all times. I am learning that it is crazy not to chase my dreams. I don’t like the me that sits back and accepts the “reality” that I need to just settle for where I am at. I am called to be thankful and content for where I am at, but most importantly, I am called to have a heart and eyes fixated on God’s will for me. So are you, my friend.

There are so many more lessons that I have learned and will learn as a dreamer, but here are 4 for now. May they serve as an encouragement to you. Wherever you are at in life, lift your chin up and know that you are going through this stage of life for a reason. There is purpose in every chapter. The heroes of the world didn’t know they were heroes when they felt trapped in the harsh realities of life. You are a world changer, whether you see it or not right now. Write out your dreams. Post them somewhere that will remind you to chase them. Maybe they will change over time, but give yourself grace. You were made to love and be loved.

I love you. God loves you. And I hope you love you.

 

Victim to Victorious: Because I am Ready to Rise Strong

I have always had a heart for injustice. Watching someone be forced into a situation where they feel less than, defeated, or mistreated never fails to get my blood pumping and my passion flowing. I know that I am not alone in this, as many people in the world are filled with the same passion as me. I also know that I am not alone in the fact that many of us passionate souls are not as great of fighters for ourselves. We tend to want to liberate and save the people around us while we go back to closed doors where we fall down and sink into our own realities: maybe we hate seeing others be a victim, because we are one ourselves. We don’t feel worth saving, loving, and wanting. The painful memories of hurtful words, fierce grips on our body, and repeated abandonment in our lives have left us feeling handicapped.

I am going through a season of feeling handicapped. I think what hurts the most is the fact that this season comes after a season of feeling like I had overcome depression, experienced the fullness of grace, and saw the purpose behind my painful past. A couple weeks ago, I saw my life fall apart again. I felt depression and anxiety creep back in all its painful darkness, I saw what I thought I knew shatter before me, and I realized more than ever: marriage is hard, my family is broken, and I felt like a victim again.

I am opening up about all of this because depression festers when it is not brought into the light. I believe the pain I am going through has purpose even when I can’t see it, feel it, or touch it. I believe that someone out there is experiencing the same feelings as me. I believe we can inspire, uplift, and support each other.

Sunday night I experienced one of the worst panic attacks I have ever had. It lasted a long time as the painful words I had just heard repeated in my head, unable to escape me. I couldn’t speak. I just shook over and over again. I wept. My throat felt like it was closing in. I wanted to give up on everything.

I think a lot of people view me as strong, fearless, and the “A-little-too-optimistic-for-me” type of person. Maybe this is why I feel so embarrassed to reveal the damaged parts of me, the parts of me that don’t feel optimistic, the parts of me that yell at God, and the parts of me that quiver in the corner of a bathroom.

Within the past couple weeks I discovered my husband’s struggle with porn was more than I could bear, my siblings were falling apart, and my parent’s divorce was getting to be more than I could handle. I flew up to Oregon a couple weeks ago to get support from friends that know how to love me well, not realizing that I would face my childhood fears again. It all exploded. I yelled at God. I lost all hope for my life. On my flight back to San Diego a few days ago, I wrote this in my journal:

I feel discouraged, beat down, and left to fend for myself with no resources. I desire to be loved, desired, and understood. I feel as though life has hit a wall for me. I long to write a book about overcoming depression, yet it seems to have taken hold of me once again. I long to write the chapter about my relationship with my dad being restored, yet it is destroyed again. I long to write about choosing joy, but I don’t think I can anymore.

I want to give up. I want God to snatch me away and help me believe that I am worth something. I feel worthless. I feel alone. I feel like no one outside of God will truly love me purely and passionately.

I hate feeling this way. Where is that motivational speaker now?

I can’t seem to find her.

The rollercoaster of life seems to have taken a toll on my body. I can’t find rest.

My heart feels like goop, escaping through my finger cracks. I don’t feel like a warrior. I feel like a victim. 

Beat down with words, unfaithfulness, and anger. 

“I hate you,” repeats in my head, beating me down.

“you always run away”         “you’re a liar”      “you’re too emotional”

“it’s always about you, isn’t it?”

The people who are supposed to love me the most, have taken from me the most sacred parts of me. They awaken me to realities in life. They rob me of joy and peace.

The inside of me hides in a dark corner, praying no one will find me. 

“I always have problems.”

Oh, I feel like a burden carrying a burden.

I want to feel safe. I want to feel special. I want to feel like me.

Guess what the outside of my journal says?

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Ironic. I know. Guess what though? Behind every dreamer is the view of all the mountains they have climbed. We just can’t judge a book by its cover. We have to realize in the moments we may feel jealous of someone’s life that they probably have been through more pain than we know. It is possible to allow our sufferings to birth unexplainable joy that changes the world.

I shared some really bare parts of my heart in the journal entry because I believe we all have moments where we are confused about life, feel like giving up, and are scared we have been abandoned.

In the past few days, I have come to the understanding that I crave tangible love. I like love that I can touch, feel, and see. God keeps asking me this question, “Is My love enough for you?”

Sometimes I yell, “NO!” because I just can’t accept His love that is so hard for me to comprehend. He is teaching me that His love is the only love that will be constant, never-failing, and overflowing. It is just hard to digest that some days.

I don’t want to be a victim anymore. I don’t want to view myself as a victim anymore. I want to go from victim to VICTORIOUS. How am I going to do that?

  1. Well, I am going to hang tightly to the close friends God has blessed me with. They love me well and know how to cry with me and encourage. I am not alone.
  2.  I am also going to join a kick-boxing place in a couple weeks, because I am going to learn how to not view myself as a victim and I want to do that in a healthy atmosphere. I want to work through those insecurities and lean on God when my physical body feels like giving up.
  3. I am going to dig deep into God’s truth every day. I will be honest with Him when I am struggling with accepting His love. I will give myself grace and allow Him to pour grace over me in moments when I can’t find it.

God uses our stories. He uses our pain. No one is perfect, everyone has scars and even open wounds. I believe you can be victorious. WE can be victorious.

 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”  Romans 8:35-37

What are you going to do to go from victim to victorious??

 

If I’m Not Defined By A Number…Then What?

When I was younger, I really liked math. It was simple, uncomplicated, and I could rattle off my multiplication tables without a problem. Yet as I progressed in my education, math became exceedingly difficult, and those pesky numbers started causing problems. Soon, math and I became sworn enemies; multiplication tables were a thing of the past, and Algebra II was lurking over my shoulder.

The same goes for other numbers in my life. When I was younger, I didn’t think much of grade point averages, weight, height, or how many followers my nonexistent social media page had. I didn’t care. I knew who I was: an overachieving 8 year old who loved peanut butter and playing freeze tag. Numbers had little to no effect on my identity. Yet with age, those numbers continued in their pesky habits, and started to creep into my life in negative, detrimental ways. My age told me what I could do. My weight told me if I was pretty or not. My grades told me how smart I was. The list goes on.

I’ve noticed a trend in social media campaigns throughout the last year: You are more than a number. I’ve seen it a thousand times, and each time, I’ve nodded in agreement. Yeah, I know I’m more than a number…but then I go right back to my mirror to see if my waist is smaller than it was yesterday. Numbers are still there, and multiple aspects of my life remind me of that.

So how are we to fight those numbers? We can’t get rid of them – we all still have to put how much we weigh on our licenses, and resumes generally need a GPA to go with your education.

What we can do, is stop saying what doesn’t define us, and start noticing what does define us. When you talk to a toddler, you have two options: you can tell them what not to do and leave them stumped and wondering, or you can give them ideas of other things to do, sparking their creativity and bringing new perspective.

So no, I am not a number. Instead I am…

I am kind, and genuinely care for those around me.

I laugh with ease, and enjoy simple gifts.

I treat my friends with love, and am always able to lend an ear.

I work hard at everything I do. 

I am persistent, and do not give up easily. 

I love to play board games, and cherish fellowship amongst friends and family. 

I have big dreams, and can’t wait to see where they take me. 

But most importantly, I am created by the Almighty God,  the Creator of the universe. That is my defining quality. 

Written by: Lily Moe // Editor in Chief of the Odyssey @ GCU

The Forgotten Garden of My Heart

I just unlatched and walked through a rusty gate in my heart. It seems as though I have neglected the garden that once bore fruit, flowers, and life. It was in this garden that I once twirled around pretending to be a graceful dancer, where I talked to animals, and everything in me felt the Glory of God.

I don’t quite know the moment I left the garden, not returning until today. Maybe it began when my father’s eyes didn’t gleam with pride for me. Maybe it began the first time I became insecure with my body because a friend pointed out something I wore was too tight. Maybe it was when I felt like I would never live up to my parents’ expectations, or even my own.

I remember feeling beautiful in the garden. I felt captivating. I felt fearless. I felt loved.

It seems as though for years I have only experienced those feelings in fleeting moments and seasons. I felt beautiful when my dad brushed a curl out of my face, looked me in the eyes, and told me I was a beautiful princess. I felt captivating when my crush would glance at me. I felt loved when a friend would squeeze me and tell me that I was her best friend.

It’s as if a voice called me out of the garden, telling me that I had to leave in order to grow up and understand the world. I would never learn anything if I stayed in such a beautiful place. I needed to leave this dream, it couldn’t last forever, right? I felt like Eve in the garden, being beckoned and tempted to learn the realities of the world, as if that would make me wiser and more beautiful.

I heard the gate snap shut when my father’s gaze was filled with anger, directed at me. I heard it creak when my husband didn’t seem to want me as much as I wanted him. I  forgot about it when I looked myself in the mirror and thought it impossible that anyone would find me beautiful.

I remembered the garden today as I was huddled in a dark corner, weeping in a deep, aching pain.

No one will ever love me consistently. No one will find me beautiful every day. No one will want me to the point of sacrificing everything. 

Maybe it was that same voice of the one who called that once little girl away from the garden, reminding me of that place where I once believed, in every moment, I was beautiful, loved, wanted, and fearless. I was a princess who was loved by her King.

The King found me today. He asked me to take His hand and follow Him. I slowly lifted my gaze and reached out for His grip, bringing back memories of the days where I danced with flowers in my hair. Part of me was scared to go back. I knew it would look different. I knew it wouldn’t feel quite the same.

“Open the gate,” He said gently.

“Oh, but it is rusty and the garden seems to be overgrown, neglected, and filled with little life.”

“I have a plan,” He said as He nodded to the gate once more.

I opened it and the creaking was uncomfortable, bringing with it painful memories of the day I left, the days I ignored the creaking, and the days I forgot this place.

He handed me some gardening gloves and clippers while he carried a wheel barrow full of gardening supplies. He told me we were going to make this garden even more beautiful than I remembered. He told me it would take time, but to not fret because He was going to help me. He loved me constantly. He wanted me daily. He sacrificed for me in every moment. He spoke proudly of me. He said I am beautiful.

I look forward to dancing in this place again.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.”

PROVERBS 31:25

 

Maybe You aren’t as Fearless as You Think, and That’s Okay

Guns, drug deals, burnt down houses, and big scary men. Yup. Welcome to Detroit, Michigan everybody. Would you look up the most dangerous area in Detroit, and go to it? Probably not. We did! Coming face to face with the scariest area I have ever been in, I felt paralyzed with fear. 

Four 19-year-old girls, including myself, had been on a road trip across America for a few weeks at this point, and had already experienced the beauty of loving people outrageously and spontaneously. We had run into some challenges along the way, some fear-evoking, but God always came through and proved to us that HE knew what HE was doing. 

Pulling into the heart of Detroit, we were met with many business suits and people who walked with purpose, fixed on their next destination without losing sight of their goal. The main area of the city didn’t look very bad, in fact, it was pretty cool. They had games outside for the community to partake in, a giant sand pit, and these big, bright chairs fit for the Queen of Hearts. There were a few people that we ran into, giving us the heebie-geebies, but overall, this definitely didn’t seem like the most dangerous city in America.

Jessika felt like we were supposed to hop on the train that circles the city, so we collected our change and found our way to the train. God told me that He was going to tell them what to do, and my job was to sit back, encourage, and wait. I waited and waited and waited, and by the time we had circled the city 3 times, God told me “One more time, and then get off at Bridgetown.” After a silent 4th round, we hopped off and aimlessly roamed the city.

Do you ever feel like God is telling you to be patient and trust Him, but you have a moment where you just want to throw your arms up in surrender?

We were feeling pretty pointless in our roaming, which led us to make a decision on what our next step was. After praying and asking God for direction, we knew He wanted us to look up the most dangerous neighborhoods in Detroit, and go to one of them! I know, I know, we sounded crazy. As we found our way to the car, Jessika read of the list that she found and we chose the neighborhood that felt right.

I always viewed myself as this fearless, free-spirit who would take a bullet for someone, be a martyr, or throw myself in the middle of danger if it meant I was rescuing someone. When I would watch movies where there was this “hero” or character that fought injustice, it would send me into daydreaming about how I would be that person if my life were a movie. *cough* *cough* I needed a reality check.

Driving into this neighborhood, I felt the spiritual weight that covered the streets and homes of these people. Never before had my eyes met such a scene. Almost half of the neighborhood was burnt down, due to gang culture taking a toll on the neighborhood. Many people sat on their porches waiting in what seemed cynical anticipation. Were they waiting for drama to blow up in front of them? Were they waiting to be the next target? Were they waiting for a new victim? I don’t really know. What I do know, is that their eyes were dead. They were like zombies going through the motions, darkness enveloping their bodies.

Their dark stares were fixated on us, and I don’t blame them. Picture four young white girls driving through one of the worst areas in Detroit with the label “The Mobile Church” plastered on the side of a 15 passenger van. I would stare too if I were them. I honestly felt sick to my stomach, because the darkness that lived on these streets was nearly unbearable.

Watching the little kids playing in the streets broke my heart the most. It was heartbreaking to see who they were being raised to be, the violence seemed to be the daily scene in which they would grow immune to. The four of us wanted to take all of the kids with us and tell them that life didn’t have to be that way. They would be raised in a culture where guns, drugs, and abuse are the norm, and that horrified me.

I was waking up as my small world began expanding in a painful, uncomfortable way.

Kourtney saw a drug deal behind us, Jessika urgently told us to turn due to a man with guns, and Mckenzie and I laid eyes on our next dare: two little girls playing in the front yard of a tattered house. We both knew that we were supposed to get out of the car and ask that family what they needed. As we rounded the corner, we noticed 3 big men sitting in front of the house on the opposite side of the street. I felt fear begin to take control of whether or not I was actually going to get out of the car. We decided to pull off further down the street by some vacant, burnt down houses and pray about whether or not we should really get out of the car.

We were know doubting the fact that God called us here, because it should be easier than this, right?

To be honest, I always thought I would be fearless in these moments, but a harsh reality shook me as I realized I was the one stricken with the most fear. Feeling paralyzed with the idea of walking on those dark streets, it began to rain. Due to the rain, everyone on the streets or on their porches began to go inside. As our final decision of whether or not we were turning back or getting out, the rain stopped. We all knew what that meant: we were getting out of the car. I told Mckenzie that I needed her to lead because the Holy Spirit was filling her with so much courage than me in that moment.I had an internal battle waging war inside of me as God asked, “If you won’t do this, what will you do for Me?”

Mckenzie took the first hop out of the van, and 3 timid ladies followed her. We knocked on the door and were met by the two little girls that we had witnessed playing outside just moments before.

“Hello, are your parents home?” Mckenzie asked sweetly.

“No, our mom is across the street though!” they responded as they clung to each other.

“Have you had dinner yet?”

“No, but we have pizza!”

“Is there any way we could talk to your mom?”

“Yeah, we will go across the street and get her!” They said almost in unison.

We all tensed up a bit when we realized they were making their way over to the house  “big scary men” dwelled. They came back with their mom in hand, and we met her at the sidewalk. Their mother, Cherish, looked skeptical as we asked her how we could help her. We offered to get them groceries, clothes, or whatever they needed, but she insisted they didn’t need anything. 

Kourtney persisted, “Seriously, what do you need?” We were all really hoping she would say something because we did not get out of that car for no reason! There was a peace filled with confirmation as I stood there staring at this beautiful family. Cherish glanced at her kids and then lifted her eyes and admitted that they needed a couch. She proceeded to tell us that she would soon be divorced and that her and her 3 kids would be moving somewhere else. Their home life was very unhealthy (as you can imagine) and she desired a better life for her children, because her husband wasn’t into some dangerous stuff. Talk about a courageous woman who was truly acting fearlessly. Due to her moving out with her kids, she was starting completely over! She needed a lot more than just a couch, so we told her we were going to see what we could do but that we could meet her at her new place in the morning and give her what God provided.

I was filled with peace on that cracked side walk as we all looked at this family who was about to take a leap into the unknown.

We found a couch, but were not able to fit it in our van so we resorted to getting her a $300 gift card from IKEA, along with a painting that I painted that says “Joy Comes in the Morning.” I felt like that phrase was perfect for where she was at in life, because new season was going to be filled with JOY and FREEDOM. I seriously wish we could have furnished her whole place!

Sometimes I wish I could win the lottery and then give all of the money away and rock people’s worlds.

We were met by a smiling Cherish that next morning, and we gave her the gifts we had to offer. She embraced us all over and over again. Cherish seemed like a completely different person than the one we met yesterday. She told us that she wasn’t a hugger, but she couldn’t stop hugging us.

“I feel like I am on one of those tv shows!! This kind of stuff never happens to me! I can’t believe God chose me…” 

God DID choose her, and He for some reason chose us four girls to deliver this package of love. 

After we said our goodbyes, we climbed back into our van with bright smiles. Looking at each other, we sighed and laughed at the not-so-fearless girls we were yesterday. It seemed silly that we were scared and had wanted to go home. McKenzie’s leap out of that van led us to one of the most beautiful moments we had ever witnessed.

We could have knocked on the door of someone very dangerous, but God led us to the door of a woman and her children who needed to know that someone saw them, loved them, and was watching out for them.

To fearlessly love is to experience the love of God.

Maybe you are scared to love people because it makes you vulnerable, and you have been hurt by so many. Love IS vulnerable, scary, and a risk, BUT I will confidently tell you: loving people is the scariest and most beautiful thing you will do in your life. 

God calls us to love our enemies, persecutors, and the people who need love the most.

Maybe you are not as fearless as you think, but don’t worry, I’m not either.