She was more awake today. More alert at the details that surrounded her. Pigeons pecking crumbs in the courtyard. The siren of emergency vehicles whizzing by. The man lifting his cigarette as we stood at the crosswalk.
Her eyes were wide today. We walked along the boardwalk pier and I could almost see her mind reeling. The blue. The waves. The foam. The bigness.
We've been to the ocean as a family of three more times than not. Living a dozen miles from the sand and sea has made us regulars in this little place. Venice beach is our favorite.
But today, today it was like she saw it for the first time.
"You see the water baby girl?" We'd ask, knowing her response wouldn't be verbal. "That's the ocean. The big blue ocean. It's pretty huh?"
As I stared and clicked away her facial expressions, I got excited about so many other things she has yet to see, taste, smell and touch. A forest. A mountain of snow. A fire made just for smores. A zoo filled with animals she's only been read to about.
And then my mind did something I'm finding a little too familiar these days. It skipped passed the good parts to the bad parts. As beautiful as this world is, it will crush her someday. Or at least try to.
It will push her around and call her names. It will tell her she's not good enough, not pretty enough, not smart or adequate enough.
And she will cry. And I will cry. And cry. And cry.
She will break, probably more than once.
Just the thought of her chubby ever present smile fading because life happened makes my insides knot up.
I'll just lock her in her room forever, so nothing bad can ever happen. But thanks to the foresight of Disney's fairytales, we know the will of a girl cannot be contained to the top of a tower.
I've been asking God to give me a promise for Baby Girl Mo's life. A verse or proverb I can pray over her that will foster courage and strength and beauty; more for my sake than hers.
And then I read this this morning:
"Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9)
Which cross-referenced to this:
"If the LORD delights in a man's way, he makes [her] steps firm; though [she] stumble, [she] will not fall, for the LORD upholds [her] with his hand. I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. " (Psalm 34:22-23)
And then I got giddy.
She's not ours. I mean she is, but she's not fully. She's His! Our girl belongs to the Creator of the Universe, the same God that commanded and empowered giant armies, the One who raised up strong leaders out of nothing and gave them huge callings!
She is safest in His arms. Not ours.
She was purposed for His mission. Not ours.
She is more loved by Him than us. As impossible as that seems.
But so are we.
We are more loved by Him than anyone else. ( < Click to tweet)
Thank you Jesus! I prayed.
Thank you that we get to be the one to hold her and wipe her tears and bandage her battle scars. Thank you for trusting her to us so we may see and experience Your grace and love in a more tangible way.
Thank you for letting us help mold this precious little being. We'll try not to screw it up.
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I use to write because I had something to say. It wasn't always good or important, nor did every word really make sense. But it was something. With more questions than statements, writing has always been something I do because I have to. I have to.
Journalling was my sole writing outlet, before technology took over the world. I have boxes of old journals I've kept since high school. Every time we move, Ty asks, "Are you sure you need all of these? Seems a little over zealous."
I'm the girl who has more journals than time to actually write in them. It's a collection of sorts. Yea, that's what we'll call it.
Journalling became a habit at a young age when my parents bought me my first big girl Bible and a journal. I think I was 9. I felt so grown up. I remember seeing all the women come in for Bible study with their journals and Bibles in hand. One was never without the other. It was as if they were one big bulky book.
But the women in that room weren't just Bible study buddies. They were phileo friends. Friends that did life, all of life, together. Even the ugly parts. One's husband wasn't a Christian, and let the world know. The other's husband was from a different country and belief system. The other was locked in her house by her husband so she couldn't go to Bible study. And the last one was my mother, a new divorcee desperate for a sisterhood. All with children. All broken.
Journalling, to them, became the heartbeat of their gatherings. They'd bring their thoughts from the week into one place, lay them out on the table, and pray over each one. Over the next two decades, those prayers, answered and unanswered, would bind them together with a love so deep, so rich, so full of hope and substance.
They didn't journal because it was a cute, cool hobby to pass time. They journalled because they had to.
They had something to say, something to offer one another amidst their own brokeness. Even if it came out in bite sized pieces.
Regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it. Let the peace of Christ keep you in tune with each other, in step with each other. None of this going off and doing your own thing. And cultivate thankfulness. Let the Word of Christ—the Message—have the run of the house. Give it plenty of room in your lives. Instruct and direct one another using good common sense. And sing, sing your hearts out to God! Let every detail in your lives—words, actions, whatever—be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way. (Colossians 3:14-17 MSG)
I want that.
So I keep a journal and fill it with my everyday ramblings, my scattered rabbit trails, my haunting questions and my deepest cries.
I keep it in hopes that someday, when my very own sisterhood comes together, maybe even here in this blog space, I'll have something to offer. I keep it in hopes that it adds even the tiniest bit of faith to her spirit.
And I'd encourage you to do the same. No matter how dramatic or predictable you feel your life is, you have a story that someone needs to hear. You have learned lessons the hard way and someone needs your wisdom. But they can't hear it unless you tell it.
So write. Paint. Make music. Tell your story in whatever way brings you the most joy and do it vigorously and freely. Do it for your sisterhood.
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I DON'T RUN.
Unless there's a clown chasing me. With a knife. But even then, it's questionable. I'm the girl that reposts humorous e-cards on Pinterest that say things like, "I just ran my first marathon this morning! Just kidding, I'm on my third cupcake." That's me. I'm that girl.
So why, oh why, would that girl, commit her out of shape, 8 months postpartum, booty to running a 5K (which is 3.1 miles by the way), in less than a month?
Good question. I’ll show you. Because of the broken, wounded, and terrified girls who find refuge in a little home in Cebu, Philippines. You know the one.
While I get ready for bed, there are girls being forced to service men and that makes me sick. Sick enough to run on her behalf. Sick enough to run for her life. She deserves better. She deserves the dignity of knowing love. True and genuine love.
But there’s also another group of girls I am running on behalf of.
They’re on our side of the world, learning and fighting through the beautifully bizarre season of life we call adolescence. They too are broken and searching for love, some equally as desperate for freedom. But on a rainy weekend in January, they joined in the fight for someone else’s freedom.
In one week, for the #seejulesrun campaign, the teens from Becoming Girls Conference raised over $3,000 so that My Refuge House could give love and a new life to more girls.
They caught the vision. They caught the passion. They caught the heart of Jesus and they gave their loaves and fish.
SO WHY RUNNING?
Because for me, running is subjecting myself to something I'm never inclined to do. It's a sacrifice, it takes discipline, and these girls are worth it.
I am not okay with a world where sex trafficking exists and neither is My Refuge House. The funds raised in this race will build a whole new home for more girls to experience love and restoration.
I believe this upcoming generation will restore our world even better than the one before it. I believe there is freedom raining in like a flood. I believe there is passion leaking out into their bones. I believe there is power running through their souls, revving up for an awakening and I want to do whatever I can to cheer them on.
WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH YOU?
Sex trafficking is a tragedy that far supersedes a single person. And definitely a single person who hates to run. And I know a lot of you are equally as passionate on this issue, if not more, than me.
We need you. Your voice. Your resources.
Will you speak, run, give, build and love with us?
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Julianna Morlet is a blogging, worship leading, wife and mother trying to find her way in the big city of Los Angeles. Her passion for the “next generation” fuels every area of her life and ministry. Together, Julianna and her husband, lead worship across the states and bring with them, the good news (thru music and teaching) of freedom that is found only in Jesus. You can read more about her life, love and ministries at juliannamorlet.com
I was raised in the Church.
I am the daughter of a salesman turned pastor and the wife to a worship pastor/church planter.
We got married in the Church.
I worked at the Church.
I volunteered in the Church.
I've been a part of mega churches, growing churches, celebrity churches and churches with less than 25 people in attendance.
I've led worship at churches with well established teams and professional bands and I've led at churches with mediocre talent but surrendered hearts.
I've been in the middle of one gruesome church split and two inspiring church plants. I've seen churches grow over night and churches close before their first birthday.
But while time and experience can create insight, I believe what gives me any ounce authority on speaking to and from the Christian Church perspective, is that like 37% of unchurched adults* in our country, I have been burned by the Church.
I understand fear. I understand anger. I understand being vulnerable and being judged.
I understand because I've been on both ends of that phone line. I've been hurt and controlled and I've been the one to hurt and control others. I am both offender and offended and that, I believe, gives me some sliver of substance to speak out on this massively ambiguous topic of Church.
Over the past decade, many coffee shop dialogues, reactionary blogs and podium messages on "the church" have come from the youth of my generation. Now adults, and today's church, we've written, spoken, and cried out from a deep, deep well of resentment.
So what happened exactly Church? Why do we feel you screwed us up? Why do you feel we've rebelled? Why do we have such high and low expectations of each other that neither generation can seem to fulfill?
The answer doesn't fit inside the coloring lines. I've tried. I believe the conversations surrounding the Church (both local and global) could stand for a little flame fanning and ash stoking, but this time, maybe with the perspective that Jesus had when he prayed and died and rose again for "the Church."**
Neither for these alone do I pray [it is not for their sake only that I make this request], but also for all those who will ever come to believe in (trust in, cling to, rely on) Me through their word and teaching, that they all may be one, [just] as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be one in Us, so that the world may believe and be convinced that You have sent Me.
I have given to them the glory and honor which You have given Me, that they may be one [even] as We are one: I in them and You in Me, in order that they may become one and perfectly united, that the world may know and [definitely] recognize that You sent Me and that You have loved them [even] as You have loved Me. (John 17: 20-23)
For the joy set before Him, [Jesus] endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2)
The Church is Christ's joy and if we are following His lead, somehow it must become ours too.
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I hope you will journey with me in this DEAR CHURCH SERIES and ask the tough questions. Your feedback and insight is always welcome in the comments section. But let's remember to keep it just that, a conversation. No name-calling, foul language or foul play. Your comment will be deleted. Let's re-discover together.
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*This number does not include those burned and still attending.
**I am fully aware that there are extremely serious wounds caused by people in the church and church leadership (ie. verbal, emotional, sexual and physical abuse). The following letters are not an attempt to address those cases. And I am sorry if that has been your experience. You do not deserve that.
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