Be the Beggar

Let’s jump right into it. If we’re honest with ourselves we don’t like to beg. Begging is a lowly action that’s seen as somewhat scornful and disgraceful. When we think about a beggar we immediately imagine the man or woman near intersections or in front of convenience stores. We picture dirty, ragged, and awful smelling. At the site of a beggar we flea. We avoid them at all costs and we teach our children to never become one of “them.” The issue with this is that we’ve taken the idea of begging to the extreme that we would much rather suffer in silence than beg the Lord in desperation for help, for an answer, for a miracle, or for something as simple yet powerful as, hope

The issue with this is that we’ve taken the idea of begging to the extreme that we would much rather suffer in silence than beg the Lord in desperation for help, for an answer, for a miracle, or for something as simple yet powerful as, hope

Culture Christianity has promoted the idea of the Instagram, picture-perfect life. We share the highlights of our life with pearly white teeth rocking the latest trends while behind smiles we are internally crippled at the reality lived with unanswered prayers, desperate cries for help, and recurring heartache. How unfortunate that we’ve become okay with this. How sad we’ve deemed this lifestyle of pretense, “Christian Living.” Don’t get me wrong, I by no means am promoting airing your dirty laundry for the whole world to see, however when we rely on personal strength, knowledge, and gusto, we remove Jesus from the equation. The issue with this is that we unknowingly walk in pride that keeps us from falling on our knees before the savior we claim to serve. We forget that the deliverance we desire cannot and will not come from personal strength but rather from full dependency on Jesus. That’s the great exchange that occurred during salvation. With salvation comes the exchange of independence for dependency on your Creator. The sooner we humble ourselves and come to this realization that we must beg and place dependency on Jesus, then can we experience the fullness of God. 

We forget that the deliverance we desire cannot and will not come from personal strength but rather from full dependency on Jesus.

I struggle with this. I like the idea of appearing like I have my life figured out. I don’t want people to worry about me or about my problems. Marriage has taught me that I can lean on my husband and he can lean on me when one of us is struggling. Marriage should be an example of our relationship with Christ. Not that Christ ever depends on us, however, it’s the idea that whenever you are in relation with Jesus you trade your independence with trusting a Known God in the midst of an unknown future. I’ve experienced this many times during my almost two years of marriage. There have been days I am thoroughly discouraged or feeling completely hopeless and my husband reminds me I am not alone. He embraces me not with judgment, but rather with compassion and mercy. He reminds me of the God we serve and nudges me to have an attitude of desperation. To beg God in times of need and whenever life’s going smoothly. This begging is messy tears. This begging is not really for an immediate answer (while an immediate miracle sure sounds great sometimes). Rather this begging is ridding all pride and becoming the least of these. It’s saying “God, I need you and I depend on you and you alone.” It’s easy to walk through each day in the pretense confidence of personal strength, however, whenever we get in the posture of a beggar, that’s when the dirt comes out. That’s when the ragged parts of our lives are revealed. That’s when the awful-smelling parts of our hearts are aired. The awesome part about this beggar posture is that God someone in his mercy restores peace, joy, and a sweet-smelling heart. 

Mark chapter 5 illustrates begging from three completely different views. One from demons, another from an influential leader, and another from a woman rejected by society and her entire family due to an unclean nature of illness over 12 years. This chapter illustrates the powerful posture of the beggar they all have in common. The demons knew the authority of Jesus that they begged. A man who was by society’s standards influential and well-known put aside his societal stature and begged. A woman who was dejected and rejected, scorned and shunned for over 12 years did not lose hope, but begged. This shows that you and I are not too big or too small, neither too great nor too lowly to fall on our faces and posture ourselves before the Lord for help. Will the miracle be immediate? There’s no guarantee, however, I promise you will receive from the Lord what He desires in that time. Don’t be too proud to beg. 

Mark 5


Technically right; Functionally wrong

If you are black and white like I am, you are probably big on people doing the right thing and doing as the law says. When it comes to your family and close friends, you are probably the harshest and hardest with them. We place higher standards for those closest to us and we’re quick to correct in the name of the law! We often say “You know better,” or “You ‘should’ know better.” My nephew Izzy in his sweet innocent voice would say “Do better!” We may be technically right in what we are saying, but functionally wrong in our approach. We don’t realize that in our technicality we are a pharisee allowing principle to take precedence over the person. 

I was an RA (Residential Assistant) at the university I attended. Among the list of duties, one was to ensure that students were abiding by the dress code and rules of conduct. Naturally, I thought this should come easy for everyone. Rules are easy to follow, at least for me they never really posed a problem. Well, I was in for a surprise. It wasn’t until I became an RA that the pharisee in me was revealed. I learned that there IS a right and wrong way to uphold principles. One way that most of us tend to lean towards is the self-righteous approach. Whenever we allow the principle to take the lead we’ve missed the root of Christianity entirely. We are called to love others and help those who are heading in the wrong direction, not give them another reason to hate Christianity. Correction with the wrong intent causes us to say things we shouldn’t say, react versus respond and hurt those around us in the process. We probably won’t admit it, but we feel good about ourselves because suddenly we look really good as the rule follower and the one we exposed or who did wrong is naked in their sin and shame. 

Self-righteousness is lethal in nature. It not only hurts and destroys others, but it also ends up suicidal where our heart is exposed by the motive of darkness. Self-righteousness attacks others while injuring itself. We are quick to slander others lacking the foresight that we’re speaking from a messy and ugly heart that eventually will get exposed likewise. While sin was initially the target, whenever functioned from self-righteousness the person as a whole becomes our victim. There’s no healing done or reconciliation of sin, only pain and hurt. 

I’ve found that a lot of self-righteousness stems from jealousy. This type of jealousy leads us to demonize others (family and friends especially) in the name of being right. Our focus becomes pointing out others’ sins and mistakes. We become gossipers and slanders in the process as well as flawed critics too proud to see that we’re plucking the speck from someone else’s eyes when there’s a plank in ours. Matthew 12:36 states: 

But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

The tongue is one of the smallest yet most powerful weapons we have. If you are a follower of Christ Matthew 12:36 should be on your list of terrifying verses. We will give an account for every idle word. Those are words that are used to slander, gossip, self-righteously destroy and list goes on. Let me clarify, you may be right in what you say, but wrong in how you say it and even more so wrong in your approach. How we treat and speak about those in sin says a lot about what’s really in our hearts. Self-righteousness exposes for the sake of looking good about oneself and destroying the lives of others in the process. Humility understands that lost people do lost things and love covers a multitude of sins. 

So for you, the black-and-white reader, evaluate your why for addressing sin and principle. Are they pure intentions or simply for self-gain? Take a hard look in the mirror before you inflict injury with your words. You will find that you’re carrying a lot of junk that you would hope someone would handle with compassion and mercy. 

If you are reading this and you’ve been hurt by someone that is self-righteous, remember that a gentle answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1). Be kind to those who are mean. Extend mercy to those who are critical. And love those who are difficult to love. The Christlike thing to do is love in the midst of hurt. 


Letters to a victim

Dear you.

You are hurting. You feel alone. You are overwhelmed and exhausted. You are tired of carrying a shame that was never intended to be yours. You are tired of feeling the weight of your own insecurities. You are tired of feeling like you have no voice. You are tired of reliving the nightmare of your past. You feel as if there’s a demon taunting you inside corrupting your view on life. You are tired of pretending. You are tired of hiding behind your clothing, your talent, your education, your physic, or even your family. You are tired of running. You are tired of running away from whatever resembles the one that made you a victim. You run away from the smell, scenery, sound, and anything that reminds you of the day you were no longer known by your name. You are done. You are afraid. You call yourself a victim and by no other name.

Dear you.

You are beautiful. You are not alone. You have a family. Whether it be your biological or not, you have people. You have people longing to hug you and remind you of your worth. You have friends who while they are silent, are screaming internally for your breakthrough. You are not what you wear. You are not your talent. You are not your educational achievements or the lack thereof. You are not your physic, or even the linage you come from. You are worth far more. You are of strength. You are of courage. You need no longer run. You need no longer hide. You need no longer believe what keeps you up at night. You are free from the cold dark cage you’ve called home. Your heart is free. Your mind is free. You are neither dirty nor impure. You are not to be ashamed of and you are neither too difficult nor too far gone to love. You are bold. You have a voice. You are believed. You are free.

Dear you.

Running away is not the answer. A pill is not the answer. A bullet is not the answer. A leap is not the answer. You taking your life is never the answer.

Dear you.

This may be difficult to believe, but I know someone that loves you. I know someone that cares for you. I know someone that sees no flaws. I know someone that doesn’t see mistakes. I know someone whose love is neither impure nor corrupt. I know someone that hurts when you hurt. I know someone that grieves when you grieve. I know someone that will avenge you. I know someone that wants to heal you. I know someone that can take away all the pain. I know someone that can turn your trauma into triumph. I know someone that is perfect and pure. I know someone that is of joy and mercy. I know someone that can give you life once more. I know someone that can give you a gift far greater than gold and far sweater than honey from its honeycomb. I know someone that knows you by your name and knows you for your worth. I know someone whose love for you is unconditional and requires only one thing; submission. A submission that is pure and true. I know someone that knows you not as a victim, rather as a victor. He calls you free, a conqueror, thoroughly whole and pure.

Dear you.

It is hard to trust. It is hard to be vulnerable. It is hard to believe that there is more to life. It is hard to believe that there is good. It is hard to believe that you can be healed. It is hard to believe you can be whole. It is hard to believe you can no longer be a victim. It is all hard to believe.

Dear you.

Believe with me. Believe there is hope. Believe there is truth. Believe there is life. Believe with me. Believe. Have Faith. With the same assurance you have there is no good, believe there is good. Believe there is life. Believe you are free. Believe you are whole. Believe you are not alone. Believe it with me, because… YOU ARE! He said you are. He said I am. He says it, now. He says you are no longer a victim. He says you are no longer a slave. He says you are healed. He says you are chosen. He says you are free. He says you are pure. He says you have a purpose. He says your life matters. He says He loves you. He says you are!

Dear you.

His name is Jesus.


The Darkest Valley – PT.2

One moment of courage can change the trajectory of your entire life. For me, that moment was when I walked through the scary office doors to my very first counseling appointment. If you read my previous blog, you know that it only took two months after first signing up and then canceling my counseling appointment for me to finally gain the courage to do the unthinkable, go to counseling.

In the Christian world, at least the Christian world I grew up in if you went counseling you were crazy. I mean that literally. I understood counseling was made available for people who were mentally not there. People who were borderline suicidal, somewhat crazy, or all-around crazy. I confidently placed myself in the “somewhat crazy” category since I did not fully want to be in counseling but was crazy enough to do it. Now I see how delusional I was to even think counseling was for the crazy. How the tables turned.

I’ve started and stopped counseling a total of three times. The first time was during my freshman year in college. That was the first time I said out loud the awful terrible that had happened. It didn’t come instantly. It took several counseling sessions for me to finally admit to my very patient counselor why I really was in her office. I had walls. Big walls. Hard ones that I refused to have anyone dare to break. Before each counseling session, my counselor prayed and after each counseling session, she prayed again. Every word in her prayer tormented me until I finally broke down and was honest. Completely honest about how that one night changed and wrecked who I saw in the mirror, who I believed I was and the fervid hate I had towards men. I thought I was a monster. A monster for allowing the assault to happen. A monster because I brought it on to myself. A monster for being dumb to think I could trust anyone. And a monster because I held scars that made me see an ugly reflection looking back at me each time I glanced at the mirror. I was a monster that was living a very fake life and in desperate need of counseling.

Counseling was messy. My resistant and impenetrable heart softened after each session that the impossible became evidently possible right before my eyes. I was healing. Every session entailed gut-wrenching, painful, agonizing ugly crying moments of truth. Things I didn’t even realize that were a part of what had shaped my thinking were brought to light which explained the why behind the what. Inadvertently, despite my view of counseling and stubborn heart, I realized, counseling helped. The big challenge after months of counseling was to tell my parents. And just that I did. I asked my brother and sister-in-law to drive me home to Houston. Once there, in my parent’s bedroom, I opened up without shame and revealed what I thought I would never be able to do.

After I word vomited I waited in what felt like eternal silence. I had prepared for the unthinkable. A part of me still believed that no one would believe me. For crying out loud, the lead Pastor told me that so if he said it, it must be true, right? The look on my parent’s faces was not one of unbelief. Rather I saw instantaneous regret and shame. Not in me, rather in their efforts to keep me safe. I remember clear as day that night in their bedroom as they held me weeping and in agony and for a split second I saw myself. The agony I had secretly held to myself for years prior. I knew I had to reassure them it was not their fault and will never be their fault. I knew they had a journey for themselves to take to heal. But that’s their story to tell. I love my mom and dad both. I love them wholeheartedly and have loved them even deeper as we bonded over a tragedy. God always somehow makes good out of evil and that good healed my broken heart.

After telling my parents, my siblings were next. It was hard. They were and are my best friends. Like my parents, I saw the regret and shame they inflicted on themselves. For not protecting me I presume. For lack of foresight maybe. Or maybe from seeing their baby sister wounded by people they trusted and even confided in. But I was no longer wounded. Eventually, they began to see that, but like my parents, they needed time for themselves to heal and walk their own journey. I loved my brothers, but my love and bond for them deepened that day. Again, God always somehow makes good out of evil and that good healed my broken heart.

I went to counseling a couple months after my first breakthrough and then summertime came which led me overseas in Egypt for a lengthy internship. I didn’t sign back up for counseling again until Jarrod (my husband) came into my life. I was treading new waters with now having to reveal the depths of my heart to someone I was beginning to love. Jarrod, in his patience, did not rush or question me. He was patient with me when I asked him to not hold my hands. He was patient with me when I asked him not to kiss me. He was patient with me when I didn’t want to hug or be embraced. And then one day, in his patience, Jarrod loving advised me to go to counseling. He knew I was wrestling and that I needed someone to talk to. He knew that those walls I had up were stemmed from deep wounds that started the beginning stages of healing but weren’t quite there yet. So again, I signed up for counseling. Another messy process. How do I love a man? How do I trust he won’t hurt me? How do I trust he won’t use my body for his needs and take advantage of my innocence? After months of counseling sessions, I took the brave step and opened up to Jarrod who patiently gave me time. The time I needed to be comfortable enough to be vulnerable.

He never once judged. Rather, Jarrod looked me dead in the face eyes locked into mine glossy from compassionate hurt. After my word vomit, he gently said “I love you, Vashti. Everything about you. I see you. Nothing but you. The pure heart that first attracted me to you and the pure heart that’s before me now. We will get through this.” And we have. I’ve never felt more safe and protected. I guess his 6’7″ built body has something to do with it, but in all honestly, Jarrod is exactly who I needed.

My last counseling session was months leading up to marriage. The sex bed petrified me. As much as I thoroughly trusted Jarrod, the tinge of fear always resurrected when the nightmares aired their ugly face. All the what if’s resurfaced and again, with time, a very patient soon-to-be husband and counselor we made it to the wedding day. The absolute best day of my life. A day I probably would have run away from had it not been for the God moments perfectly orchestrated and my choice to respond to those divine encounters.

The cross was my answer and still is. Every part of healing pointed back to the blood-shed on the cross. Transgressions of all nature are paid by a perfect man for imperfect people. Every counseling session brought out a new understanding of forgiveness. It brought out a new revelation of God’s redemptive work. It brought out a new understanding of my wrecked heart that desperately craved healing and wholeness. A price I was willing to take for the sake of my wellbeing and sanity.

C.S. Lewis said it well,

Forgiving does not mean excusing… it does mean that you must make every effort to kill every taste of resentment in your own heart – every wish to humiliate or hurt him or to pay him out.

I refused to live in hate. I refused to live bitter. I refused to feel like a monster for the rest of my life. I refused to live with insecurities and poor self-esteem. And in my refusal, I had a very tough choice to make. I needed to forgive my transgressors and I needed to forgive myself for the self-hate I inflicted. There’s no excuse for the assault. In time, the consequence will come. Not by my might, rather through Christ my vindicator. What is also inexcusable is living with hate that kills. And I choose not to walk with a cloud over my head the rest of my life.

Even though I have walked one of the darkest valleys, I will fear not. Because I know who is my comfort. I know who is my healer. I know who is for me. And I know who will vindicate and justify me. I know He will do the same for you.

My journey isn’t quite over. There’s far more to the healing that has been left unsaid. In time I may share more, but I will leave you with this.

If you are or know someone that’s a victim of any type of abuse or assault, don’t shy away from speaking out. You owe it yourself and the safety of those around you to be bold. Seek help. Seek counseling and don’t be afraid of the messy healing.

If there’s a verse I would encourage you to study as you walk the tough road to healing, it’s Psalm 23. I actually had to memorize this verse around the age of 5 and haven’t forgotten it since. It’s one of my favorite Psalms and one I fall back on whenever days get tough. I challenge you to dive into all the treasures hidden in this Psalm. You won’t regret it. Healing is right before you. Jesus is waiting on you. He won’t force nor coerce you into healing. Rather, it’s your choice.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
 He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
    for his name's sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
    I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
    your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
    in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
    my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
    all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

I’m sorry the church hurt you.

Did you know that,

  1. 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of child sexual abuse.
  2. A quarter of male victims of sexual assault were under 10 years of age.
  3. Rape Statistics show that less than 20% of rapes are reported.
  4. Women and men with disabilities face twice the risk of sexual assault than able-bodied individuals.
  5.  Approximately 70 women commit suicide every day in the US following an act of sexual violence.
  6. Over 25% of male sexual assault victims will experience their first assault before 10 years of age.
  7. Over 80% of sexual assaults are committed by an acquaintance.
  8. Almost 95% of child victims knew their sexual attacker.
  9. The majority (90%) of rape victims are female.
  10. Girls and women between the ages of 16 and 19 are 4x more likely than girls and women in other age groups to be assaulted or raped.

Did you also know that,

In 2019 over 1,700 priests and clergy were accused of sexual abuse. Before 2018, over 1,000 children in Pennsylvania alone were found to be victims of sexual abuse under the Roman Catholic Faith. In 2019, 380 Southern Baptist leaders and volunteers faced allegations of sexual misconduct. Influential leaders like Brian Houston were found concealing child sexual abuse by his father. There’s Ravi Zacharias who has been accused of rape and sexual misconduct. In 2021, Micahn Carter resigned after rape allegations.

Sexual abuse occurs in religious schools, orphanages and missions, churches, presbyteries and rectories, confessionals, and various other settings. Aside from these, sexual abuse in the form of rape, molestation, and emotional abuse occurs in 1,691 different religious institutions around the world. According to the National Congregational Study Survey, there are an estimated 380,000 churches in the U.S. alone not factoring those around the world that house the grounds for some form of sexual abuse.

Often when sexual abuse allegations are exposed, religious institutional members are left in disbelief towards the abuse claims. This has left many wondering why members have greater loyalty to the institution than to the abused victim. The abusers, predators, and sex offenders, they are only human, right? While the claims leave devout followers awestruck, claims eventually turn to whispers and are eventually forgotten.

While I cannot fully articulate the damage any form of abuse can inflict on your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical psyche, what I do hope to provide is hope. The complexity of navigating life and faith after these situations is nearly impossible, but God’s justice is like no other and proves the nearly impossible is possible.

Back home in Belize... 
I was midway through my teenage years when I got hurt by the church. Shortly after worship practice, I was given a ride home by the worship pastor. I hopped in the back seat looking through the window, heart full sitting next to my fellow worship singer friends. There were three of us who were being taken home that night. The first two were safely taken to their home and I was last. I remember saying goodnight to my friends with no care in the world. Little did I know, things would not pan out the way I had ever imagined. Rather than driving towards my house, the worship pastor drove the opposite direction and parked in a dark location. Things like "I've been thinking about you a lot," "You are beautiful," "I've always wanted someone like you," "Don't be scared," were said as he made his way to the backseat. He forced my body on his and his hands explored areas that I had promised myself would be reserved for my husband someday. I remember being stiff, repeating the words "please stop," and my eyes blurred from tears. He started unbuttoning my pants when the door to the truck flung open, and there standing was a man whose face I could not see. He stood tall with a gun in his hand pointing it right at my predator. 
The worship pastor pushed the man, jumped to the front seat, and sped off. I remember sitting in the back seat shaking, holding myself while I kept my crying to a whisper. The truck stopped again. I looked up hopeful thinking I was home only to be in a dark area once more, far from home. The worship pastor hopped to the back seat once more of which I assume to finish what he started. I ignored where his hands went and angrily listened to him saying, "You wanted this," "This is okay," "I've always wanted you," "I've been dreaming about you." He started unbuttoning again. This time I didn't fight where his hands were going. I simply sat numb questioning everything I ever knew. It was then for the second time, the door to the truck flung open and who I presume is the same man as before stood with a gun in his hand pointing at my predator. The man with the gun didn't say a word. I still could not see his face. I saw fear in the worship pastors face and he sped off and drove me home. The car ride was silent. The entire ride home not a word was said. And before he unlocked the car doors to my freedom, he warned me to tell no one and that if I did tell anyone, especially my parents, they would never believe me. No one would ever believe me. That night I lost respect for men. 

Three days after this event, I went to the lead pastors of the church thinking they would believe me. I was told my parents wouldn't so maybe the pastors would. I met with the lead pastors and tearfully explained what had happened just a couple nights prior. Bluntly I was told, "You need to take a cold shower," (at the time I didn’t understand what that phrase meant; it wasn’t until I was in counseling did I find out the insult meant by that phrase). I was also told, "You brought this on yourself," "Things like this happen because people like you bring it on yourself," "He struggles with lusting, but you are to blame too." They told me to never tell anyone, especially my parents because I will cause my parent's marriage to end, I will break up the worship pastor's family and I will break up the church. I would be to blame for the destruction. At the end of their "advising," they prayed over me and I left. I left disgusted, overwhelmed with guilt and shame. I left hopeless and confused. I was alone. That day, I lost respect for the church.

I am sorry the church hurt you. I am sorry if reading this brings up old wounds. I am sorry if it brings up pain and resurfaces hurt that was once buried. I am sorry for what you or a loved one experienced. I truly am sorry.

Interesting isn’t it? That all it takes is one life-changing moment to shift the way we think and live. There are many days I wish it never happened. I still wish it never did. Have I healed? Yes (still am). Do I still hurt? Absolutely (I often do). Getting married has recently opened a new side of how this trauma has affected me. Learning to love my husband, learning how to enjoy physical touch and understanding to appreciate the gift of sex without thinking about the day things shifted in my life as a teenager has been difficult.

The “church” failed me and I hated them for it. After the sexual assault, I still went to church because quite frankly I had no choice. No one knew what happened except for myself, the predator, and the lead pastors. I somehow convinced my mom I didn’t want to be on the worship team any longer and volunteered elsewhere. Eventually, my family ended up moving. I had hoped moving far away would leave the past where it was but it followed me. It followed me for years. The hate for the church followed. The hate for men followed. The hate I inflicted on myself intensified. The “church” failed me. For some of you, the church failed you too and I am sorry they did.

In another blog, I will write about how I eventually told my parents, counseling and the healing process, but what I do want to address is you. You and your feelings towards the church. It’s baffling to think one would dedicate loyalty to an institution that failed them, right? It is nonsensical even. But the church didn’t fail you. Before you quit reading, just give me a couple more minutes of your time. Yes, the church on the broader side of things fails by covering up sin, but you know who really failed you? Man. In order to walk back into the church, I had to shift blame from an institution founded on Christ’s love and target the root. The root wasn’t the church. The root was humans. Three of them for that matter. The worship pastor and the lead pastor and his wife. The church didn’t do anything to me, rather the people who led the church violated and stripped away the confidence I placed in God’s people. They convinced me that I was to blame for the violation, and they convinced me that I would be the cause of the destruction of my family, the predator’s family and more so the destruction of the church had I spoken out. And I listened. I believed it for a very long time.

The church didn’t fail you. Man did. Humans did, and humans are awful great at sinning, covering their sin and living boldly in their sin as if nothing ever happened. I am talking to you who refuse to step into a church. I am talking to you who refuse to see God as loving and true. I am talking to you who hate Christianity because of occurrences like mine. I am talking to you because I believed just as you are believing. The church didn’t fail you. Man did.

Let’s get back to basics. What was God’s original intent for the church in the first place? The church is where God’s people unite in diversity as one body. It’s a compilation of unique entities that follow the Biblical instruction and example of Christ. In the church are apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helping, guidance, and the dwelling of the Holy Spirit. The church is where individuals who want to be more like Christ communion to do exactly that. There’s of course more to this, but you get the point. The church was founded on Christ’s love and example, but as we’ve seen in centuries past, humans do a pretty crappy job at doing just that. We’ve made it about self and we entertained and covered up sin. We’ve made the church about appearance rather than authenticity. In some occasions, the church has become the modern-day Sodom and Gomorrah, where correction is absent and “freedom in Christ” is misrepresented with gratifying desires contrary to who Christ is.

I blamed the church for quite some time that I lost trust in pastors and leaders. I was always on guard and for a while never able to engage in corporate worship without reflecting on how the church failed me. This mindset shifted one night when I asked God why He would allow bad things to happen and why did His people fail me. That’s a story for another time, but let me tell you, God met me exactly where I was.

How far I’ve come has been no easy road to walk. Somedays I get overwhelmed. Somedays I feel fear creeping in and the events of the night where everything changed replays in my head haunting my thoughts. There are nights I wake up sweating from nightmares as if I relived that night for the first time. There are days I walk filled with insecurity. I don’t trust well. I am more on guard than I probably should be. I’ve had to learn that my husband’s love for me is pure and not evil. In the dark days, I remember, God healed and God restored what has once been stripped away. God reassured and keeps reassuring.

Before I conclude, if you are or know someone that has been a victim of sexual assault, rape, or abuse, I urge you to seek help and expose the truth. Don’t believe the lie that no one will believe you, you are to blame, and that you will be the reason for destruction. If there’s anything I wish I could tell myself back then, it would be – don’t be afraid to speak out!

I guess in some way that’s exactly what I’m doing right now. After many years of being too scared and ashamed carrying guilt that was never mine in the first place, I have learned the power of exposing. No, not for me. Rather, to bring awareness of the hidden darkness that is present even in the church.

Parents, if you’re reading this, regularly ask your children how life is going inside and outside the church. Listen and watch for signs. Ask the questions and create a healthy environment for honesty. Be especially aware of grooming done by men or women who have taken a special liking to your child. This by no means is a reflection of poor parenting on my parent’s part. I would never in a million years blame them. Simply, just be aware.

And friend,…the church didn’t hurt you. Man did. And I am sorry. Fight the urge to not blame God for a man’s choice. Man’s failure is no reflection of the Father’s heart. In your suffering God is present and He grieves when you do.

Speak out and forget not…

He saved them from the hand of the one who hated them,
And redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.
Psalms 106:10

Gratiude Attitude

Happy Thanksgiving! Yes, I know we’re technically “past” Thanksgiving Day by now, but I pray your Thanksgiving was great. In my family, we have a Thanksgiving tradition of food (lots of it) and then a member of the family will lead worship and a devotional along with everyone would go around and share their highs and lows for the year. Then we will close out the day with a prayer for everyone or any prayer request made. It’s one of my favorite things about thanksgiving. Besides the food of course. The past couple of years, my oldest brother has been leading these devotionals consecutively. Each year he’s shared what God placed on his heart, and if I am being honest, it’s pretty spot on what each of us needed to hear. I’d vote he keeps leading these devotionals every year. So, Zebedee, if you’re reading this, you’re leading these devotionals every year okay? It’s a part of your birthright.

With his permission, I wanted to share with you this year’s devotional. Unlike other years, this year Zebedee shared on the topic of Thanksgiving. If I am honest I thought it would be generic because that’s what everyone else tends to do. He was on a pretty good trend of awesome devotionals that I thought, “man is he going to mess it up now!” But seriously, the topic was quite fitting. In my family alone, many of us are going through seasons of transition. I am newly married, my little brother recently engaged, my eldest brother and wife just had their second child together, and my second oldest brother is launching his business while being a dad and husband. My parents too are in a season of transition with caring for my grandmother. That’s just the highlights of transitions we’ve each been going through. There’s way more that would pretty much fill an entire book. I am sure for you too who’s reading this, you’re going through transitions (good and bad) of your own. In transitional periods, however, especially the bad ones, it’s easy to forget to remain thankful. I fall short of this all too often.

One of my brothers points in his devotional was,

Gratitude changes the lens through which we see the circumstances in our little slice of time.

Zebedee Pitterson, Jr.

The idea here is that when we learn to be thankful for the little things and the big things hit us pretty good or especially bad, we will see that even in the midst of our circumstances, there’s still something to be grateful for. Gratitude changes our posture and it changes how we see God. Rather than only seeing God in the good, we can find God even in the not-so-good.

It’s funny how life can be. When Jarrod and I left our family thanksgiving, we didn’t know we would need to apply Zebedee’s devotional pretty immediately. As life would have it, we got home to a messed-up septic and sewer system. It was honestly pretty crappy (pun intended). So as we speak, we cannot shower or use or toilets until a plumber comes out to fix things. We did our best along with my in-laws to see if it’s something we could fix ourselves but unfortunately, we ended the day defeated by our septic and sewer system. One point for the septic and sewer system; zero for the Pisors. But you know what, after my little meltdown I was reminded of Zebedee’s message. I reflected on all the good God has done for us. We had lots to be thankful for. Aside from provision, health and strength, Jarrod’s parents lives two doors down from us which they gladly opened their doors for us to take warm showers and relax after a crappy (pun intended) day. We’re grateful for the little things and even the chaos.

Being thankful changes our perspective despite broken dreams, broken relationships, chaotic circumstances, and unfulfilled longings.

Zebedee Pitterson

As chaotic as today was for us dealing with a messed up septic system, we learned to be thankful. We saw God’s hands even in the chaos. Thankfulness doesn’t remove the existence of brokenness, chaos, hurt and pain. Rather, thankfulness sees hope and God despite the existence of brokenness, chaos, hurt and pain.

So my challenge to you is simple and rather challenging…what can you be thankful for? Are you going through brokenness, chaos, hurt and pain? How has God showed up for you despite what you’re going through?

If you learn to be thankful in the little, when the big things come their way, both good and bad, it will be a lot easier to have an attitude of gratitude. BE thankful.


She died while reading her Bible to her 7 -month old daughter…

Heartbreaking. Odd, really. When we stumble across news reports like the one I read on Sunday it shakes us up a bit and stirs many questions. Melanie Yates died from a stray bullet shot in her neighborhood in Zion, Chicago. It is said that Melanie was reading the Bible to her 7-month old daughter. She wasn’t doing anything wrong. She was in her home. She was being a mom. She was loving on her child and loving her creator in the process. How can a good God allow this to happen? Is God really good?

After reading the news report I read people’s comments and thoughts on the situation. Many were extending condolences and others said they were praying. There were comments, however that struck my heart. Here are just a couple that burdened me:

  • let me guess.. that was in Gods plan.
  • this is why I quit believing in God.
  • so if God is all powerful and great, He really let this happen?
  • even when you’re doing the right thing God can’t save or help you!

I get the frustration. I get the anger. I get the why and questioning the nature of God. How can a good God allow this to happen? I’m sure you’ve thought that before. I’m sure there was a time that you questioned if God is really good. I know I have. It’s normal to question. I believe God isn’t offended by our questioning. He loves honesty. It is, however ultimately what we do with our honesty and what [or who] we choose to believe.

In times of suffering, we tend to pin God as our adversary. We blame Him when in actuality, He is our cure. There is not always a clear-cut response or answer to the why behind the what but many of the wrongs occurring in the world are suffering as a result of freedom.

Why did a stray bullet kill Melanie while she was reading her Bible to her child? Why did God not heal your mom or dad from cancer? Why did you lose your sister in that car accident? Why did you or someone you love fall victim to rape? And there are plenty more whys out there. Think about it. Do you have a why that causes you to ponder the goodness of God?

Whenever something bad happens after someone did bad, we justify that as a consequence. However, when it’s someone good or someone who we’ve deemed as innocent, we cannot seem to find an answer as to why the injustice occurred. And in not having a why we blame God hoping that will settle the wrestling in our hearts.

Can I share something with you? This is coming from someone who experienced one of those whys I mentioned above. God is in the midst of all we go through and are going through. He hasn’t abandoned us. The suffering we have or are facing is a result of misused freedom. God could have created the human race as robots. Do as He says and as He does. But that would not be love, right? Love doesn’t force or coerce. In love, there’s a choice. The responsibility lies in our hands to choose right from wrong. Sadly, we don’t always choose right and the consequence of that is many suffering from hurt and pain from someone else’s poor decision-making.

Dr. Greg Boyd says it well in his book, Letters from A Skeptic. He states the risk of freedom is exactly proportional to its potential for good. In other words, if we can love a little, we can hurt a little. If we can love a lot we can likewise hurt a lot. If we have freedom, we have risk in the possibility of failure and hurt. Melanie died as a result of misused freedom. While sickness isn’t entirely related to misused freedom it can when we misuse science, food, and our bodies. But a lot of the suffering from sickness comes from the Fall of Man (Satan bringing evil to roam rampant in the world).

My husband, Jarrod, is a cancer survivor along with a couple others in his family. I asked him that if knowing cancer is a part of his story if he’d prefer to have not existed. His response was firm that it shattered my heart. He said,

Vash, I would never blame God for me having cancer. I would never blame God for not saving those that had cancer or any type of terminal illness. While it was and is hard, God was and continues to be our cure. Cure of hope, cure of faith and cure of eternal life. We didn’t choose sickness, but we can choose how we walk through it and from it.

I will leave you with this, death, sickness, and hardship outside of our control do not translate to an absent God. In a world that promotes belief in everything but God, remember,

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them [sickness, hardship, the unexplainable], for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you or forsake you - Deuteronomy 31:6

If there’s anything we can cling to it’s the hope of Christ’s return where sickness, hardship, and the unexplainable will exist no more. To those who have lost a loved one, I am deeply sorry. For those battling right now, I am deeply sorry. But more than anything I pray that you can cling to the hope of Christ. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. He is in your struggle. God is your cure, not your adversary.



That’s not fair God!

You ever wonder why good things happen to bad people? I do. It’s mind-blowing to me that those who do evil, speak evil and just are plain evil get the good things in life. Not that I want bad things to happen to them, but I do want to see justice prevail. I especially hate whenever I work towards something only for it to not work out but for those who are not quite living “right” get the easy way out. It’s not fair!

Has that ever happened to you? I am sure you’ve experience this before. You were honest your whole career only to get fired and the person who was lazy, dishonest and cheated at their job got the promotion. Maybe it’s you lost a mom or dad that was serving the Lord with all their heart and you have friends who’s parents spit on God’s word and they are perfectly healthy. Maybe you were diagnosed with a terrible disease that took your dreams away only for your friends that are addicted to drugs and alcohol make it in life. I don’t know what you, “that’s not fair God,” moment is, but what I do know those are real and often hard to navigate through.

Many of us at some point in our life have questioned the goodness of God. We question why God allow good things to happen to bad people. It’s not like we want people suffer right? I don’t think that’s the majority of our hearts, but what we do want is “fairness” or justice. People get away with murders and crimes. People in power get recognition when they live a double standard life. People lie and cheat and never get caught. Christians who serve and love the Lord die from cancer. People who serve and love the Lord get fired from their jobs, lose their children and end up in financial difficulty. Christians who serve and love the Lord it seems like get dealt the wrong hand. Is God really good when He gives all the good to the wrong people? 

This is actually addressed in the Bible. The prophet Habakkuk actually felt the way we feel sometimes. In the book Habakkuk (yes the prophet Habakkuk named the book after himself), we find that the idea of “fairness” is addressed. Habakkuk is found in the Old Testament and one of the most unique books as readers get to listen on his conversation with God. This actually took place during the final days of the Assyrian Empire and the beginning of Babylonian’s world rulership under Nabopolassar and his son Nebuchadnezzar. We read that the prophet Habakkuk is trying to believe God is good when there was so much evil rampant.

In this book we find out that God’s word was being neglected which increased violence and corrupt leaders. We also see that those who do serve God are being treated as slaves and scums of the earth. The appointed leaders were abusing alcohol and sex and God wasn’t doing anything about it. And idolatry, the engine that drives corruption, was running rampant in the hearts of those who lived in Judah. It’s fair to say that Judah had it bad and Habakkuk wasn’t having it, so he talked to God about it. Habakkuk never accuses the people of Israel. He is the only minor prophet that didn’t meet the people where they were at and tell them to run from their wicked ways. The book of Habakkuk is actually a lamenting if you will. I conversation between Habakkuk and God on the injustice found in the kingdom of Israel. So, what did God say? In so many words, God says,

  • He will bring Babylon down
  • He uses the cycle to bring the rise and fall of nations
  • He doesn’t endorse actions, but what is puffed up will fall down

What did Habakkuk realize through Gods response? You read this in the closing chapters, that..

  1. You’re understanding of who God is will determine your response.
  2. When you cannot see God’s hand, trust His Heart.
  3. God is enough. 

When we see injustice and evil we tell ourselves that God really isn’t powerful and He really isn’t understanding. We tell ourselves that if God really is all that great He would fix and do. God just doesn’t care because He would make things better. Your understanding and view of God is one of the most important things because when we are faced with hard times, our understanding of God shapes our response. A lot of us lose faith, place up walls, become hard hearted, reject God and may even walk away from the church. Why? Because we are going through pain and disappointed that God wouldn’t fix things. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Habakkuk uses the word “rock” to describe God. Moses uses the same terminology. Rock is reaffirming that God is your stability. He says in Deuteronomy 32:3,

I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
    Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
    and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
    upright and just is he.

We may not have all the answers here on earth. We may never get the answers we so desperately desire, but what we do have is God. And God is enough. When life is disappointing and sad, remember that God is still your rock. We can cling to God regardless of what is happening because we know His heart. The righteous shall live by faith, not by looking around, but rather looking up for strength and hope. Trust God’s plan over your life. 

How can you trust God in the things that are unfair?



There are things we’ve learned to live with. There are things we’ve passed as normal. There are things that were once rare and now a commonality. We’ve made them apart of the mundane day to day living. We’ve passed these things as “just the way things are.” I’m not referring to things we cannot change. Rather things we have complete control over. We’ve become comfortable with the way of life that we are too afraid to restore what we’ve learned to live without. While there are many things we can talk about here, the three areas in life I’ve seen many become comfortable in is the lack of peace, lack of joy and lack of love.

Peace has been replaced with anxiety and fear. We’re consumed by the worlds unknowns, stressors and triggers that we live day by day without peace of heart and mind. Think back for a second. Can you remember the first time you lost peace? Can you remember the moment in life when peace was replaced with anxiety and fear? How is it that an instant in life shifted your entire posture? Granted, there are things we go through in life that stirs us. It makes us question the goodness of God. It could be a loss of a loved one or opportunity. It could be a near death experience. It could be someone violated you or your family that the anxiety and fear of history repeating itself haunts you each day. Peace is hard to restore once lost. It’s hard to regain when life scars us and ruins what once was. But can I share something with you? It sure isn’t impossible to restore.

Peace that passes all understanding is what most of us crave. If you’re honest with yourself, you’d probably say that while the hardship you went through cannot be reversed or erased, you do want to live anxiety and fear free. Maybe you’ve even attempted to restore peace but failed only for anxiety and fear to show its ugly face and intensify it’s terror even more. While I don’t claim to have all the answers, what I do know is that there is a source for peace. Just as you’d go to your local supermarket for food, there is a source for peace. You’ll find out later in this blog though. Keep on reading.

Joy and peace somewhat go hand in hand with each other. Without peace, you probably do not have joy. If you have joy, it’s probably very little. When we don’t have joy we live in misery and despair. Life is oftentimes meaningless. Many times, when we lack joy we are forced into depression or depressive episodes. Like peace, something triggered you into defeat. You’ve given up on your dreams, your goals, and maybe even so on life. Something happened to you or your family, that all hope is lost. There is neither triumph or victory, rather defeat and sadness. Someone did you wrong, and maybe that someone you are blaming or pointing fingers at is yourself. Maybe the person you are pointing fingers at is, God.

It’s hard to have joy when life did you wrong. We’ve dwelled on the wrong done to us that to find joy in the little things is quite a task. It’s hard to find good in each day because we’ve made the misfortune in life become our god. We worship the loss, the wrong done, and the pain and hurt we faced. The past repeats itself daily in our hearts and minds. We cannot shake it no matter how much we try. Pain has ruled your being. An emotion rules you rather than you having control over it. And we’ve become quite okay with that.

Lack of peace and joy often times makes it difficult for us to love others and love ourselves. Many times though, we dare not love because what presented itself as love has ruined us. We love not, because what was meant to be an example of love has scarred and ruined something meant to be wholesome and beautiful. In turn, we live life lacking peace and joy because love is nonexistent within us. We hate, speak in rage and walk in defeat. Love often times presents itself in hopeful speech and living. Love looks a-lot like faith, assurance and confidence. Love, is powerful when existing. When removed it is likewise powerful as it shakes the very core of who we are.

We all crave love. We all desire to know we are loved. We all desire the warmth of love. When we lose love or the concept of love is distorted, it damages how we love those around us. It damages the way we view life. Many times the reason why we lack peace and joy is because love is absent. It’s because we know not how to love and are consumed by anger and hurt. I’d say the best way to restore joy and peace, is to first tackle the restoration of love.

Restoring love. It’s not as easy as someone telling you they love you and all is fixed. It’s not as easy as telling yourself you are loved and all peace and joy is restored. Restoring love is more than action or word. It’s knitting together peaces of your heart making what was once broken, whole. Restoring love is not having the broken parts of your life glued back together, rather it is a healing of the heart where those broken pieces find life and restore it’s position and function in the heart. How do you go about that? How do you restore what you’ve learned to live without? Go to the source.

If you are a Christ follower, you know that the source for healing and restoration is our creator, God. If someone is the creator then naturally, they will be able to restore what’s broken or reestablish what’s gone missing. God is exactly that. He restores, heals, reestablishes and can even refurbish. There’s nothing too big or too small for Him. When all love, joy and peace is gone, He’s your stability. The issue is we refuse to seek the restoring. We’ve become comfortable in our filth that we’d rather live day to day in complaining in misery, downing in doubt and fear and living in hate and anger.

Don’t get me wrong. I am by no means trying to appear callused. I understand there are difficult things to walk through in life, but the matter of the fact is we choose whether to dwell on the past and lose an eye or fix our eyes on Jesus. Dwelling on the past produces an impaired vision. Fixing our eyes on Jesus shapes perspective and character. Bad things happen because we live in a world where people choose to do evil things. The good news is that God, our creator, can make good out of evil.

For what it’s worth, I suggest, give God a try. If you blame Him for your lack of joy, peace and love, take it to Him. Let him know how angry you are. That is perfectly okay. And then wait on Him to respond. He will. Whatever hurt you have held on to that has you okay with living without joy, peace and love, it’s time to say no more. It’s time to restore what you’ve learned to live without. And the source for restoration is, Jesus. Don’t believe me, see for yourself.

Have you learned to live without peace, joy and love? Do you want these restored? How are you going to seek the source today?


Live or die from criticism

“You need to grow a backbone, move on and woman up!” I’ve had to tell myself that quite a bit. Here’s something you’ll learn about me. I am a hardcore words of affirmation girl. I don’t need a plethora of lavished words. Rather, I just need to know that I did good. That personality doesn’t bode well when you live in a world that’s filled with criticism and varying opinions. Not everyone will like you, like what you do and who you are. There will always be that one person that disagrees with you or criticizes you and who you are. What do you do when this happens?

Many of us die from criticism. The world falls apart when we’re told we didn’t do good enough, when someone’s tone is a bit harsh or when we’ve failed or messed up and hear the noise of criticism. Some of us get depressed, withdraw from the world and give up on our dreams. Why is that? Why for those of you, like me who thrive on compliments, die from criticism. Why do we live on compliments and hype? Is it because we hate negative things, maybe so. There is a bigger reason behind our response to criticism, though.

Before I get into that, let’s just take a moment to appreciate criticism. Yes, you read that right. Criticism isn’t all bad. While some criticism may come from a negative heart and agenda, most criticism isn’t all bad. Many times, the reason why there are successful people is because of criticism. Someone told a person they couldn’t do something, so said person did exactly what they were criticized not being able to do. Many times the discoveries we call science, is because someone challenged or criticized another that their goal was to create facts from their discovery and fight back the critique thrown at them.

Criticism has created some of the greatest inventors, discoveries, written literature, invention and men and women today. Here’s the biggest difference between those who allow criticism to kill versus those who’ve used it to propel them? Their, attitude. Your attitude is the biggest game changer and determining factor in whether you fail or succeed. I’ve failed many times and have learned to quit wallowing in failure, get back up and get back at it. You allow what criticism does to you. It’s not a matter of, “this is just how I am.” It’s a matter of choice in character. While most criticism isn’t easy to process, you decide what it does to you. Too often we’ve given words power over us rather than taking authority over it.

Here’s the thing, you cannot control what people have to say about you. You cannot change how people view you. Their opinions are theirs. Your response to their criticism and opinion is a direct result of who you believe you are and where you allow your worth to come from. If worth comes from less criticism and more agreement, you will never win. Worth is far greater than what the world has to say about you and me. It is far more than people pleasing. Greatest success is found when our confidence lies in the one who’ve created us. Success is found when we refuse to fail. When we’ve relinquished the power critique has over us and take authority over it. That is success. No longer do words control who we are and what we do. Rather, we fight against the words spoken over us and challenge that which challenged us, not with depression and withdrawing. Rather, we challenge with hope, perspective, and endurance.

Have you allowed criticism to control how you live? Have you taken a backseat and given criticism the ability to stir the way you live and think? You will lose quite a bit of years of growth in making words control what you do and how you view yourself. You are your worst critic when you allow criticism to control you. You get to choose what words do to you. While some words can be terribly harsh, you determine whether those words thrown at you fall on concrete and get blown away, or it falls on the soil of you heart and grows root of bitterness and fear to live and be the best you, you were created to be.

I was told I wasn’t smart. I was told I was slow and a dunce. I was criticized for how I pronounced certain words, for needing extra time to grasp certain concepts. I’ve been criticized for being a follower of Christ. I’ve even been criticized for my enjoyment in health and fitness. While I did get caught up in the words of criticism, it wasn’t until the realization that I have control and power over what those words do to me, was I able to challenge and combat criticism. I’ve used words thrown at me to become a better me. I welcome critique. I welcome the challenge. Not out of an attitude to prove people wrong. No, not at all. Rather, to grow the attitude within that heavily relies on people being pleased with me.

Don’t let criticism kill who you are, your dreams and goals. You have power in your response and attitude to the words spoken at you. There’s new life in criticism. New life to bring hope, challenge negative outlook and perspective. Not everyone will be on your team. That is perfectly okay. Don’t live your life trying to get that nod of approval from everyone. Rather, live life striving to become the best version of you. And the best version of you is who God has called you to be. The best version of you is the version that chooses to never give up.

Did you give up on who you are and your dreams because someone critiqued you? Have you allowed criticism to control who you are? How can you shift control today?