Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Do This Today

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Sometimes we all have those seasons where we feel alone. For whatever reason we've lost touch with those in our community. Our neighbors, close friends, small group or family. And it is in those seasons often more than others that I find myself raw. On the verge of tears. R
eady to explode at any moment.

Maybe your job has been especially tiresome or you have a new baby. Maybe you've just entered a new season of life or one of your family members is struggling. Whatever the reason, you're feeling alone and desperate. This is what I want you to do:

Push past the difficulty and the clouds looming over your life. Invite a friend to join you at a place where the coffee cup is bottomless (ie. Panera, IHOP, etc.). Tell her how you feel. Alone and overwhelmed. Don't give yourself anytime timelines. Just talk while she listens. And then next week? Do the same for her.

You need this. She needs to be needed. It won't take all your problems away. But it will remind you that you're not alone. That is one of the greatest gifts we can both give and receive.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Broken (Five Minute Friday)

Five Minute Friday

Give me the broken people. Cause I can't handle to perfect, got-it-all-together people. I'll take your alcoholics, sex addicts, ok basically any kind of addict will do. I'll take anyone who's living any kind of alternative lifestyle. Just straight up, honest broken people.

That's part of our calling here in Orlando. To the hurting and the broken. They come in all shapes and sizes. They live in the ghetto or work in the high rise. And they're everyone in between. I can find broken people anywhere.

Perhaps its because God has chosen to break us and let us experience so much pain and loss and trauma for His glory. I see myself in others pain and hopefully they see themselves in mind.

I refuse to be a part of the perfect suburb-living, churches that don't reach lost people, "American dream" culture. So this may be foolish and gutsy but...

"God continue to break us so we can better reach those your heart breaks for."

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

On Being Fabulous

Two days after my 30th birthday I wore red lipstick in public for the first time. Ever. This is particularly curious because as it turns out I have had the perfect red for my skin tone for years. Sitting unused in a cabinet.

Recently I’ve had the privilege of being in relationship with some amazing woman. The kind who want real vulnerability over perceived perfection. The kind who write their own fashion rules. They dance on dance floors yes, but also in the car or walking down the sidewalk, even if someone is watching. They are fearless pursuers of their dreams and they spur me on to greatness. 

In the Christian subculture we often paint confidence as a sin in the face of humbleness. Somewhere along the way it became favorable to have the same kind of self-esteem issues as those without a Savior and we started passing it off as “Christ-like.”

But here’s the thing, I was made in the image of the Creator. I am a daughter of the King of Kings. He crafted me with unique talents, giftedness and beauty all my own. While I believe pride is a sin there’s a huge difference between pride and knowing your identity in Christ. 

So I’m not sure what happened to me during the week leading up to my 30th birthday. But I know it has something to do with better understanding my identity in Christ and the woman around me who choose to be fabulous no matter what. So rock polka dots or a lot of pink. Let you hair go grey or color it all the shades of the rainbow. Find the perfect dress for your figure or embrace the summer and go sleeveless. And as for me, I’m choosing to be fabulous. 

I’ll be easy to spot. Look for the thirty-year-old in the red lipstick. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Why I Can't Go Home

I hate my “home town.” I know hate is a strong word. I wish it weren’t true. But it is. There’s so much pain associated with that place that I avoid visiting at all costs. I can’t even decide what to put in that blank on my Facebook profile.

When I was 10 my family moved from a fairly large South Florida city to a town of 3000 in Central Florida. Let me be the first to say that 10 is more than old enough to feel the culture shock of a move like that. I encountered racism, intolerance, cliques and a unique brand of superficiality. The kind that involves sitting next to you for over an hour in church and ignoring you 10 minutes later in the grocery store. The kind that waves at you on the street corner and talks about you behind your back (but within earshot) on the playground.

It didn’t help that I found interracial dating acceptable in the mid nineties and that I was an early bloomer. It is particularly cruel when kids punish you with rumors for hormones and development you have no power to control.

As I grew older I became wiser and cared less about what people thought. But that did not lessen my pain. As the years went on that town became increasingly colored with very fresh and real pain. The death of my first husband at twenty-four. The unexpected demolishing of family relationships.

There’s lots of pain in my story that I’ve made peace with but this particular wound plagues me often. I hear of people that have great family relationships and I can't comprehend that. I have friends who go “home” regularly and can’t wait to get there. I wish those things were true of me but they’re not and they may never be.

So for me home is in Downtown Orlando with my husband and a drool-covered Basset Hound. Home is friends gathered around the table breaking bread. Home is the patio Downtown where we’ve shared so much of life with the broken of our city and the people we love. Home is front yard fires and conversations that last deep into the night.

How do you define the concept of “home?” I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Belong (Five Minute Friday)

Five Minute Friday

What does it mean to belong? To really be a part of community. And how do we define community? There are some very specific thing community is not. And there are some very specific things in Scripture that communities share. Life, meals, possessions, and decisions. But beyond that don't you have room to create your own version of community?

I have so many ideals playing in my head of what community should be. And usually what happens in real life is none of that. And you feel like you're breaking the rules when your community is outside of the norm. But families and lives and relationships are broken and that makes for mismatched communities.

My people are the two other couples and one two-year-old. Part of my community is a nearly 21-year-old friend/intern and a few Puerto Rican neighbors. My community is young and old cigar smokers on a patio in Downtown Orlando.

I belong to a people of pain and mismatched ages and diverse career paths. Friends are family you choose for yourself and that's where I find my community. Where I belong.

Today our community of writers is writing on the topic of "Belong." Consider joining us here?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

First Dance Moments

Photo Courtesy of Clohe Ludwig
We're both lovers of dance but nothing compares to dancing together. Him having years of experience under his belt and me always making it up as I go along. It started at our wedding where we danced some truly beautiful numbers. Love in our eyes. Perfect for a wedding. Just as it should be. But there's a side of us that really just wants to have fun. So we danced those songs too.

That's my idea of a good time. Dancing for hours on end with the man of my dreams. And we did it again at my 30th birthday party. Our first dance that night was something many believed we had spent hours choreographing. Not true. But I can tell you what makes for a great dance number when you haven't had time to practice: partners who love each other deeply, don't care who's watching and want to have a good time doing it. That combination my friends can fool the eyes of most.

But what I learned that night as the hours went on is that no dance is ever like the first one. You get tired and sweaty. Your creativity wanes. Sure, you're still having fun but somewhere on the dance floor your spark may have faded.

Aren't there seasons in life like that too? Where we moved far away from the beauty and grace of the first dance. Sure we're still on the floor but sometimes just barely. We're tired and our steps aren't polished anymore.

Perhaps you're in a "first dance" season of a new baby, new marriage, new ministry, or new job. You're passionate. You've been looking forward to this moment. And it's all you expected and more. Hold onto the passion you have right now. Maybe even write it down. Whatever you do file this moment away so you can reflect back on it when you need it most.

Or perhaps you've been on the dance floor for a while. You're tired of midnight wake-up calls. You're marriage is falling apart at the seems. You dread getting up each morning for that job. Ministry has left you dry and weary. Perhaps you can't even remember what those first moments on the dance floor felt like. Ask God for strength and renewed energy. Ask him to help you remember the joy you once had in this area. Ask him to renew your passion.

Wherever today finds you in your journey, I challenge you to just keep moving.

Monday, July 15, 2013


Usually on Fridays I try to join this community. This time I'm a few days late but I just had to write on this prompt...

All I know is that on Friday I turned 30 and today she’s having radical surgery for breast cancer. And the song about The Circle of Life is true. And one day when I was 24 I woke up and knew this is the way of things. That in this life there’s way more death, loss, sadness, pain and trauma than you’d ever expect.

And right alongside of all that is so much joy and so many reasons to celebrate. Sometimes they're all happening at the same time. Someone’s getting married while someone else is saying goodbye to a spouse. Someone’s longing for a child and someone’s having an abortion. Someone just started a job and someone else just got fired from their job of 30 years.

I’ve never been noble enough to ask for world peace. And the truth is I don’t believe we’ll ever experience true peace on this side of heaven. As I thought about what I’d like for my 30th birthday while she gets ready for surgery, I decided I’d like to be more present. In the time of celebration and the times of mourning.But most of all I’d like to be most present when the lines blur and those times back right up against each other.

Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I Am A Writer?

“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.” - See more at:
This post is part of the 'Writing Contest: You Are A Writer.' Visit Positive Writer if you're interested in participating. Special thanks to Renia at The Development of Taste for informing me of the contest. 
“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.” - See more at:

“I am participating in the ‘Writing Contest: You Are A Writer’ held by Positive Writer.” - See more at:
So many people know of an exact moment in time when they knew they were a writer. That is not the case for me. But I do know writing has always been a part of my life. In school all subjects in English class came easy to me, including writing.

At an early age I asked for a locked diary for Christmas and though I wasn’t necessarily good at writing in it everyday somewhere deep in me I knew that what I did write mattered. When I was old enough to start journaling I wrote down everything. Poetry wracked with emotions I couldn’t express elsewhere. A processing of the day’s events. Arguments with my parents.

Writing also helped me communicate with God. On the pages of my journal I worked out my faith. And for whatever reason I was convinced he listened or read what I had to say.

At some point over the last few years my journaling slowed and I went months without writing anything more than an email or business document. In a difficult season of life I left my journal closed (when I needed it most) and something within me began to fade.

Then in October of 2010 I started this blog on the same day I would begin a 31-day writing challenge. I felt crazy. And it was hard. Like most things, writing when not practiced, gets rusty. For the better part of the next year I wrote and published posts that I knew were subpar. Sure I crafted a gem here and there but most of the time I felt like a failure.

What I did learn during that season was the value of just writing something. Anything. And pushing “post.” That discipline forced me to hone my craft and daringly post things that were less than perfect in the interest of posting something.

And then sometime last year in between Fall and Winter I hit my stride. I found that writing wasn’t as hard anymore. And if I would grant each post just a little bit of time I could usually create something meaningful.

Now I look ahead to the rest of 2013 with great dreams for my writing. And while I can’t pinpoint a moment in time that I knew I was a writer, I am slowly getting brave enough to say those incredibly scary words:

“Hi, my name is Joy, and I am a writer.”

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Missional on the 4th

Previously we've talk about how easy it is to use holidays like Halloween and national events like the Super Bowl as missional opportunities. In case you haven't thought along this vein yet in the midst of your preparation for Independence Day, Verge Network has put together a list of 25 Simple Ways to be Missional in Your Neighgborhood.

Remember missional living is easy when you do what you love with intention. So move forward with you plans of barbeques, lake days, and fireworks. Just be sure and invite your neighbors and others too.

Wishing you and yours a holiday full of gratitude for our freedom, new memories with family and friends, and grace filled relationships.