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. 

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

Beautiful Fear, Bearable Pain

I was 16 the last time I witnessed to a nurse in the operation room.

It was 4:30 in the morning and right before he put me to sleep for my third and final brain surgery, he asked me if I was scared. Apparently, when I answered that I “couldn’t be,” that was enough to delay the surgery for a few minutes while I explained the power of Jesus. I don’t remember what I said. I don’t remember how he responded to the Gospel truth.

I just remember realizing my pain was a beautiful gateway to Hope. I had to come to grips with the fact that the sleepless nights, tears and unknowns were being woven together not so I could benefit, but so that I could be available for someone who I’d never see again. 

Three days ago, I went in for what was basically a low-end emergency surgery. The implanted technology that manages my epilepsy treatment was as dead as a doornail. The medical team could either replace it now, or I would go without treatment for up to three months due to scheduling complications.

I’m not usually a skittish person when it comes to surgeries. I’m skittish about other things like love, careers and the idea of motherhood, but emergency surgery? Meh. It happens all the time. I’ll be fine. Only this time, my fiancé and I had 12 hours to process the news of the surgery, let everyone know, fill out the paperwork and get to the hospital on time. We didn’t have time to breathe, think, or process.

This was also the first time I was leaning on my abundently-capable future husband for something completely out of my control. I trust him, but can I have a girly honest moment here? No one wants to have a memory of looking at their fiancé and saying, “You’re my primary emergency contact. No big deal. Nothing’s going to happen, it’s just paperwork… but, um, since you’re basically my spouse, you, um… I love you?” (It’s especially awkward when you’re making these statements at 5:30 in the morning.)

Three days ago, fear was incredibly present. 

When the lead technician came to investigate my implant, she acknowledged my tattoos, trying to get me to relax. Somehow, we went from talking about ink to talking about how she wants a tattoo that will remind her not to waste her life. “I’m just sick of wasting everything, ya know?” 

She was a genius medical technician, and she felt as if her life was worthless. Immediately, my fear left me as I reached for my fiancé’s hand. My life wasn’t wasted. My life wasn’t pointless. I was facing unknowns, but my pain had led both he and I into that room that very early morning for a reason.

We were given a very real moment to silently pray for a woman who felt invisible. That gave me hope. My pain has never been more beautiful.  

Disappointment, Anger, or Love? 

Quiet disappointment is the epitome of what breaks my heart. I’m familiar with angry eruptions. With those reactions, my next move is quite literally to get out of the way and attempt to calm the person down at a distance. I don’t pay attention to the cause of their anger, but focus on fixing their reaction. Though my attempts to make peace can be fear-filled, it’s easy enough. 

But with quiet disappointment I’m drastically aware of my failure, and my reaction is based heavily on wanting to restore fellowship. It has very little to do with fear and everything to do with correcting a wrong. I may possess peace during those occasions of righting a wrong, but it’s dreadfully hard to claim. 

For the last day or so, I’ve had to mull over the difference between feeling the anger of God and feeling His broken fellowship and disappointment. It’s not a joyful occasion to stand before God and only have one thing to say: “I know full well I broke Your heart. I put You second in line to my attempts at control.” 

It’s so much easier to picture God as an unemotional, tyrannical Lord who deals with my sin with outbursts of anger. With that approach, my attempts to seek forgiveness become mechanical: Throw a few sacrifices of praise His way, sing peaceful songs… 1, 2, 3, thanks for forgiveness, I’m out the door. 

However, I’m fully aware that He is an emotional, fellowship-seeking creator who deals with my sin as a father dealing with a rebellious child. With that, I’m deeply reminded my sin disappoints the One I love most. My sin caused a rift in our fellowship with each other. 

My sin did not, however, erase His love toward me. Despite that glorious truth, healing still takes time. Anger screams, “You’ve done Me wrong!” Disappointment cries, “We need to fix us.” 

Christ constantly asks us to rebuild what our sin has torn down. He never promised total healing would happen overnight. But above all, He never leaves us to restore our relationship alone. 

His disappointment in our sin feels heavier because He’s weighing our character, not our deeds… But His disappointment is proof that He believes intimate fellowship is still possible. 

His overwhelming fellowship-seeking love proves He has called us to so much more.

Ugly Side of Rio


I love the Olympics. There’s a large part of me that loves the games because I am most assuredly not skillful enough or graceful enough to even attempt any of the sports myself. So, like numerous others around the games, when I can’t, I find satisfaction in watching. 

Don’t hear this as a, “Boycot the Olympics” speech. If I did that, I’d be a force to be reckoned with for the next two weeks. But there’s a side of Rio we never want to think about. To the Christians in my audience, I beg you to think about it. 

As you watch the games and they pan over the brightly lit nightlife of Rio, see what they don’t want you to see: A struggling industry that caters to child prostitution because any dollar made is a precious dollar spent. 

The roads are packed with the, “You only live once” crowd for the next two weeks. The kiddos are being told its beneficial for their families. The “industry” is so big that even if a few heroically-minded people rescued three or four children, their spots would be filled by new recruits within an afternoon. 

Welcome to Rio. 

As a Christian, I often find myself acting as if praying doesn’t have power. When I think of this heartache, I mutter, “Jesus, the only thing I can do is pray.” 

Wrong. It’s the most powerful thing we can do. Pray against the industry. Pray for the kiddos’ protection. Pray their hearts are guarded with supernatural power. Pray for freedom. Pray the economy has a miraculous turn where they aren’t interdependent on prostitution to keep the lights on. 

Enjoy the Olympics. Pray for Rio. 

But then, Elroi

Elroi. The God Who Sees. I fell in love with this name of Yahweh a long time ago. He was given this name by Hagar, the outcast hand-maiden of Abraham (Genesis 16). Abraham didn’t want her, nor the son she had birthed for him. She felt worthless, unwanted, inhumane, helpless and completely unseen. But then, Yahweh.

He saw her. He loved her. He, when no one else would, provided for her. Elroi. The God Who Sees.

I’ve felt all those same emotions of Hagar’s before. I’ve felt all those things for a seemingly-permanent, torturously-long time. But then, there was Yahweh-Elroi. The God Who Sees. The God who sees and is willing to be spoken to by a seemingly worthless, unwanted woman. The God who sees worth when no one else does. 

Elroi. 

For the past three years, I’ve had to brokenly rewrite my definition of a woman’s worth. It’s been a beautiful journey with buckets of tears and hours of laughter. Every time I’ve gone back to the feet of Jesus and reminded Him of how hard it is to deeply feel unseen and unloved to the point of madness, He says one thing:

I am the God Who Sees. I am Your Elroi. Am I not enough? 

I’ve had to learn in the past year that that fear of being unwanted and unloved does not go away when you are, in fact, wanted and loved. Every time I push a button, get a little too human and can’t seem to feel perfect (grin), I fall back into the tortures of my life before Christ. My value is unseen because it’s not there. No one sees the good in me because there is none. 

But then, Yahweh. My Elroi. 

He sees what no one else sees. He provides what no one else provides. When all else fails, He asks one of thing of me and one thing of all of us: 

Today, choose Elroi. Today be fulfilled in the God who sees. When you feel unseen, fall back on the unchanging, unmoving beauty of Elroi. He sees you, and that is enough. It’s more than enough.

He’s Not My Equal

I often forget just how different the infinite God is to my finite brain.

For example, I often forget one detail while focusing on another. There are days where I shakily pray about one area of a situation, silently hoping God won’t forget I also need Him to remember something else. In some ways, I have this innate fear that, if I dare distract Him, He’ll let things spiral out of control just as I have.

I love the fact that, when I struggle through life, I have very poignant reminders that Christ shared the same types of pain when He was here on Earth. His willingness to become like His creation (us!) is key in why His gift of salvation differs from anything else we may worship. But at the same time, it’s so easy to slip into the thought process that God is exactly like us because of Jesus.

Lord, have mercy on our hearts if we stay there. It’s possible to create an idol and nickname it Jesus, rather than meet the Savior and call Him Lord. Christ created us. We did not create Him. There is so much freedom in realizing that we are not worshipping our equal… We are worshipping our Maker.