Petrified to Worship


Being a Christian worship leader has never been more terrifying. I told my pastor what I wanted to do to change up our routine for one week. I got the green light, which should have filled me with joy. I mean, my idea didn’t get shot down which meant my attempts at risky obedience to Jesus could be pursued further. 

But instead, when I found a quiet moment to myself, I closed myself off from family, and had a slightly unfounded panic attack. I am a part of an evangelical church which, in every way, could not be more loving. I have found my home amongst these gloriously redeemed Earth-misfits, and it’s awesome. But we like our comfort, myself first and foremost. We like our routine … For goodness sakes, up until I met my husband, I didn’t know spontaneity could be fun. 

And, as a worship leader, it’s so much more comfortable to give comfort and routine. Four songs, a segue in between, at least one hymn (because it’s a good idea), then a prayer, aaand we’re done. Over and out, Houston. Another week in the books.

However, a month ago, God met me within my silence and seemed to be asking my spirit one very harsh yet loving question: If “my people” — myself included — didn’t have music, would our hearts still worship? Over the weeks as I cautiously pursued His question further, I added questions of my own: 

Is it wrong that I feel reading scripture loses people’s attention during a worship “set” so I don’t do it? What does it say about my heart as a leader that I can’t change things up because I don’t want to rock the boat? What if God’s movement is in rocking the boat amongst people who love each other? What if this entire war is only in my head and I have nothing to fear?

And then, I was hit with the hardest reality of all… worship as a whole (not just the music on Sundays) will not change my life until it becomes my life. Until that happens, I will struggle to “lead” others to a deeper understanding of the joy which comes in loving God in silence, in prayer and praise, and in everything I labor over through the week. 

Laughing at Adjustments 

The “how’s-adjusting-to-marriage” questions crack me up. My dear husband of 20 days, in his insightful and sweetly introverted way, says what he always says. “It’s going well.” Only his family and closest friends know that it’s all in the inflection in his voice as to what’s underneath that statement. I find it funny, while quite a few others are left oblivious.

“It’s going well” = I’m tired, don’t know why you’re asking but I’m trying to be polite. I love my wife, it’s why I married her. So, yes. We’re good. Also, like everyone else, we still have no idea how to do this thing called marriage, so I don’t know what specifics you’re looking for. Need I say more?

“It’s going… well…?” = Help. I just discovered my wife’s hormones don’t magically turn nice when I tell her I love her. She’s crazy, a morning person, and went from laughing and crying four times today but I don’t think it’s my fault. So yes, we’re doing… well… just adjusting, that’s all. I still love her. I can just now fully confirm she’s human. 

“It’s going really well.” = We just somehow worked our way through yet another last minute crisis, and didn’t kill each other in the process. Also, I was just informed we’re somehow staying in-budget for the month after the 20th trip to a retail store. We’re good, just adulting and trying to remember that we live together now. Also, crockpot meals are awesome.

… My answers, on the other hand, prove to anyone wondering that I’m the chatty one in the relationship. In my late twenties and married for the first time, I laugh more at the little adjustments than he does. I’m independent, strong-willed, and sarcastic which means everything about marriage has been an amazingly fun, yet slightly awkward, adjustment. 

But it is going well. Not because we have it down perfectly, or because we don’t annoy each other at times. Marriage is going well because of the best adjustment of all: Peter is my reminder of Christ’s constant forgiveness and redemption and I am Peter’s. It makes life so much more fulfilling when we see Christ in each other. 

That’s the adjustment which always makes us laugh with joy.

Reviving My Song

The day I stopped singing, people started asking me imposing questions. “What’s wrong?” “Who hurt you?” “Why’d your song die?” Being the ever-ready, people-pleaser, I tried — I really, really tried — to sing just to get the people off my back. I tried smiling while I sang my favorite hymns. I tried faking having a song in my heart. 

I couldn’t do it, though. The song was dead. At 20 years old, I no longer found a reason to sing upon waking up. There was no joy. There was no peace. Jesus felt like a childish figment of my imagination. Every powerful, Christ-centered truth I had relied on throughout my childhood was very much paralyzed in my life. My song had died. I felt helpless in my attempts to act as if it had not. 

Sin is not a placid monster to play with. My life had become proof that selling your soul to a lie takes away every ability to experience peace –let alone live in it. My heart’s joy and peace were once upon a time so abundant I couldn’t help but sing everywhere I went. It was in music I found intimacy with Jesus which took my breath away with its beauty. Living in sin killed that intimacy. 

Once, while standing in a empty wooden cabin, my comrade within the sin mockingly told me to, “… sing something and make [him] believe I meant it.” All I knew were hymns, and somehow, all I remembered from my childhood was “Amazing Grace.” As my tongue struggled to remember the words, my heart pled with my mind to treasure the joy.

I couldn’t. It was just a song. It was merely an exercise to test the acoustics in my friend’s cabin. I had wandered away from the Lord, and my song did not follow. 

Yesterday, seven years later, I stood with fellow Christians singing “Come Thou Fount.” 

Prone to Wander, Lord I feel it! Prone to leave the God I love! Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it. Seal it for thy courts above. 

My heart nearly burst with the memory of the dead joy in such a song mixed with the current reality of my redemption. My song is back. My Lord is not dead. God has finally revived my heart’s song. 

These songs hold sweeter truth simply because I understand the price paid in order to bring me Home. 

When the Future Changes

There were two men in my life. They both wanted to officiate my wedding. They both decided – separately – that if they never met the man I married, I wasn’t allowed to get married. Or, as one of them clarified, if I did get married without them, they’d act like the marriage was a figment of my imagination until they could reinact the ceremony with their involvement. (I didn’t dare act like they weren’t serious.) 

Both Terry and Ray jokingly-but-not-so-jokingly fought each other as they planned for my future wedding together as far as who would get most of the limelight as the officiator of my wedding, who got to kiss my cheek first and who got to harass my groom the best. 

I could never decide if their surrogate- fatherly arguments warmed my heart or added to my anxiety. Usually, I just laughed instead of focusing on the confusion. I was loved, that’s what I needed to remember. I was 16 and both these men had higher dreams for my future than I did. When I nearly ruined my life with childish decisions at 19 years old, they both spent hours (and I mean hours) almost daily on the phone talking me through my decisions and asking me the hard questions no one else wanted to ask. 

Both of these men passed away within a year of each other.  It didn’t hit me until last night for some reason that neither of these men get to see my wedding. Neither of these men get to ask me the hardest questions of all: “Can you support this man when he seems unsupportable? Can you make him laugh when all you want to do is make him cry? Can you show him Christ when all you want to do is show him yourself?” 

Even at 16, they warned me about those questions. They told me what they wanted the answers to be and what they would do if my answers didn’t represent Christ. They were futuristically minded when I couldn’t be. They cared more for my future than almost any other nonrelated acquaintance ever had.

They didn’t plan on not being around to help me grow up, but they prepared me for the future just in case they weren’t.

What if we discipled like that more often? What if we strove to be involved with our mentees but prepared them to be just as godly, wise and prepared without us as they are when they are with us? What if we didn’t shield them from hard things but rather taught them that they can prepare for a storm before it comes? 

What if we discipled in such a way that those we disciple don’t pine after us after we’re gone but rather strive to immulate the Christ-like characters we focused on the most?

Worst of Sinners

Growing up, the generations before me were still struggling with believing life was (almost) all about reputation. If you shared your life-lessons with anyone younger than you, your sin needed to smack of holiness because, well, you were a Christian, right? That was all fine and good when dealing with things like gluttony, pride and disrespect. Those were the “Christian” sins. You can still look holy while dealing with those. (No, Dear, you can’t…)

But dealing with sins on the ‘level’ of sexual sins, addictions, or manipulation? Yeah, no… We can’t Christianize those, so we didn’t talk about them. Or, if we did talk of any “serious” sins like those (they all separate us from God– they’re all serious), they were addressed using such broad terms, I left feeling very confused and like I couldn’t be a Christian and have questions about those things. But then I felt betrayed when I found out secondhand the Christian who shushed my questions was the very brother or sister in Christ who shared my silent frustrations.

One of my strongest fears as someone who journals her prayers is that someone will read my heart’s cries long before I’m ready to share them. However, on the flip-side, there’s also this innate desire to hand these heartfelt prayers to my future children as a way to remind them their mama never had it together perfectly either. Even with the fact that I have no idea when I’ll hand these journals off, I find myself wanting to manicure my prayers so I don’t have to revisit my struggles’ shame if my children read about my journey to become more like Christ.

Paul of Tarsus, one of the key writers of the New Testament, was self-proclaimed, “… The worst of sinners… (1 Timothy 1:15),” yet he had one of the strongest stances on redemption, justice, mercy and grace. He did not budge when it came to what was/is expected from a follower of Jesus Christ. Though he did everything within his will to lead by example, he did not hide his sordid past. If Paul didn’t, why do we?

I completely understand that there’s a time and a place for transparency. Though Paul was open about his past, we didn’t see him divulging everything he’d ever done every time he opened his mouth to speak about grace and redemption. But even still, when the opportunity presented itself to show people he struggled, he did it openly. That openness only comes with the understanding that it’s ultimately about eternal redemption, not temporary reputation.

I wonder how many times we as Christians miss out on showing people God really does accept everyone right where they’re at simply because we want to protect our reputations rather than herald God’s glory.

Written By the God Who Sees

Dear Little One, 

You’re seen. Behind the instantaneous smile, the immediate laughter and the flamboyant charm, I see you. I recognize your desire to hide, even when you stand in front of the mirror and challenge Me to prove your value. I hear the brokenness in the laughter, I feel the tears behind the smile. 

You don’t think you can tell Me you’re hurting because you’re so accustomed to playing a part in healing someone else. Stop. I’m not broken. I’m not in need of you. You need Me. Let yourself be broken and hurt in My presence. As your Creator, I can only heal what you show Me. Your cracked heart merely hurts My heart, it doesn’t overwhelm, anger, or turn Me away. But you do have to give it to Me. 

Please? 

I see you when no one does. I hear you cry when everyone else only hears you laugh. I feel your fear when everyone else only sees your confident leadership. You’re not confident, are you? You believe in My power for everyone but yourself, don’t you? 

Why? 

Do you understand that your purpose, value, and reason was found the moment you were conceived? Do you understand that when I breathed life into your lungs, I not only gave you purpose, I gave you My purpose, My joy, My love? Because of Me, your pain isn’t weakness, it’s strength. Because of Me, your identity isn’t found in your mistakes.

You are found in Me.

I haven’t call you to lead alone. I called you to be Mine. Hold on to the fact that you’re Mine. When you feel invisible, you’re Mine. When you feel alone, you’re still Mine; besides, you’ve never been alone a millisecond of your existence. 

You tell people you love the fact you’ve learned I am Elroi, the God Who Sees. But Child, why haven’t you let that Truth sink in when you’ve needed it most? 

I love you. I’m here. You are not invisible to Me. 

Your One and Only Elroi

End it More


It started yesterday. The #EndItMovement. Americans finally decided to admit that slavery still exists. Social media was inundated with red Xs as a way to be a voice to the voiceless. Christians finally decided to live out the mindset that sin festers in silence. 

I wept over each picture I saw. Tears of acknowledged bitterness now healed. Tears of fear now at peace. Tears which once went unnoticed now being seen by people who don’t even know who I am or why I cry. 

Acknowledging modern day slavery is near and dear to my heart for reasons not fully mine to tell. Regardless of that, I’m reminded of a truth which has haunted my friends for years and so, therefore, haunted me as well. 

You can free them, but it’s not enough to free their bodies. 

I have sat with people who were released from their captivity, but could not be convinced that restoration and redemption was theirs. I heard them explain the power of the gospel and then mutter the heartwrenching words, “…At least, it’s powerful for you.” 

I learned from these small encounters that sex slavery especially, no matter your gender, rips your identity to shreds. I’ve cried over humans who are released –“free”– and yet they long for captivity again. Not because they loved it… their nightmarish screams spoke against that belief… but because it was familiar. 

It’s a beautiful thing to stand up for people caught in slavery. Keep it up. Speak up. Scream, for heaven’s sake! But please, I beg of you, if you must speak up, put actions to your words. 

Don’t be shocked when you discover, as I did, that slavery looks normal when you pass it in the grocery store, parking lot or even church. When you see it, do what it takes to stand by these men, women, and children until they’re free physically, emotionally, and spiritually. 

They need you to do more than write an ‘X’ on your wrist. They need you to believe in the all-encompassing power of the Gospel for them when they can’t. That takes action. That takes mercy.

The #EndItMovement takes time.