Social Media Arguments that Make Racial Tension Worse

I think that somehow people misconstrue the facts about what causes racial dissension to continue generation after generation. We try to put people in a predefined box based on where we think they should stand and we argue points that just aren’t valid, which only increases tension because we aren’t hearing what our fellow community members are telling us.

I don’t fit in a predefined box, but I stand with Black Lives Matter. Hear me out on this.

I both support law enforcement and condemn those that abuse power. I both support the slogan Black Lives Matter and condemn looting and riots that cause violence to innocent people. I support peaceful protesting and hear voices of anger and outrage with compassion. I don’t look at the slogan Black Lives Matter and think anyone is trying to say that ONLY Black Lives Matter, I look at the slogan and see that an entire community is crying out that Black Lives Matter TOO, Black Lives Matter EQUALLY.

I believe in HUMAN rights – equally. I believe in standing up for the rights of those who have not had equal rights for centuries in our nation. I believe in addressing the problems that are so boldly visible in front of us that there are people in our own communities being mistreated and we should join arms with them and demand change.

With racial tensions at an all time high, sparked by the murder of George Floyd by four police officers, and only one has been charged with murder while three have been charged with unintentional felonies. Many people have posted their support for Black Lives Matter. We have worked to educate those around us. I have seen arguments come across social media that are not helpful to the conversation of how do we fix this problem as a nation? How can we do our part?

Imagine if you would, that scene where George Floyd was trapped on the ground with three grown men on top of him, one with their knee to the back of his neck. However, instead of picturing George Floyd, picture a twenty-four- year-old blonde White girl. She is lying on the ground crying out for her mom as she takes her final breaths. Would you feel differently? If you’re honest with yourself – would it trigger a different emotional response? Would you automatically blame her or criminalize her? Would you be more likely to step in and demand murder charges for all involved?

I believe in open dialogue about racial relations. We will never get past it if we don’t talk about it, and keep talking about it. I have seen huge strides from people I love that used to fight me every step of the way and are now joining arms with me and the Black community to say enough is enough. But as we have those conversations, we have to be aware of how our defensiveness and emotions can drive a wedge between open dialogue.

Here are ten common arguments that I see people make on social media that are perpetuating racial dissension and furthering the divide between us.

The argument: All Lives Matter. This is the number one argument that I see White people make about the slogan Black Lives Matter. Yes, of course all lives matter. However, not all lives are perceived as dangerous because of their skin tone. Not all lives are being executed in the streets under suspicion simply because of the color of their skin. There is a race that is being killed at alarming rates. Unarmed Black men and women are being killed. Black men and women in their homes watching TV are being killed. Black men jogging down the street are being killed. Black men accused of petty crimes are being killed. So yes, all lives matter, but all lives are not in danger, and this conversation…this one right here is about how Black lives matter EQUALLY and that EQUALLY has yet to be acknowledged. And more than anything an entire community is crying with one underlying message: STOP KILLING US. Stop deciding you know who people are or what they stand for or how they will treat you based on their skin color. Stop hate. You cannot say that All Lives Matter until you acknowledge that Black Lives Matter TOO.

The argument: Black on Black Crime. This argument makes me more angry than any other argument. Many people tout statistics about Black on Black crime and Chicago as if somehow deaths among community members justifies murder. Black on Black crime happens for a lot of reasons, it is a SEPARATE systemic problem and a separate conversation. What we are talking about is Black men and women being killed because they are Black, which is not what happens in Black on Black crime. We are talking about a problem that law enforcement and society responds differently to a Person of Color than they do a Caucasian Person. That is the current conversation. We cannot justify the murder of our Black community members on the basis of Black on Black crime any more than we would justify a white person being killed in the name of “white people commit mass shootings”.

Any arguments that are rooted in stereotypes. Not only does it make people sound ignorant, but perpetuating stereotypes are not relevant to the conversation at hand, are destructive and disgusting. Stereotypes are rooted in false information, where we categorize a person based on a snapshot of their life, judging their entire value based on a perception that isn’t ours to make.

The argument: Rioting isn’t the answer. I am not an advocate for looting, destruction of property, or violence. I will condemn it every time. I think it detracts from the message and focus of a needed conversation. It hurts my heart that we cannot talk about George Floyd’s murder without also talking about looting and riots. With that being said, I remember a time when NFL players were condemned for their peaceful protests. We are dealing with a problem that hasn’t been resolved for centuries, we are supporting a community that has cried, pleaded and begged to be recognized as equal and hasn’t had victory in that. We cannot be more concerned with property than people. Violence and looting is NOT the answer, but we have to be more outraged about the loss of life than we are the loss of property. We can’t say that you are free to protest as long as the protest doesn’t interfere with me, as long as I don’t have to see it.

A friend sent me a picture that explained it this way, “If you were stranded on a desert island and trying to save yourself, what would you do? Wave at the planes passing by? Yell at the boats you could see trying to catch their attention? Become more desperate each time they left you behind. Look at your family and know you HAD to do something to save them? I bet eventually every single person I know would risk burning down the island by lighting a fire in the hopes it would catch someone’s attention.” – Author unknown.

The argument: All White people aren’t the problem. I don’t think it was ever insinuated that all White people are the problem, but the legal system we have was created by White leaders and there is an unbalanced number of White male police officers, elected officials, judges and leaders compared to representation of minorities. I know that it can be natural to become defensive, but avoid it. As Stephen Covey teaches, seek first to understand and then to be understood. While nobody is blaming you, if you aren’t standing against racism, you are passively allowing it to happen all around you.

The argument: Not all cops are bad. I actually agree that not all cops are bad, however that doesn’t mean we don’t need serious change in our law enforcement practices. I have loved ones in law enforcement and have raised my son to respect the law and those who enforce it. However, government entities have to get this under control. I saw it best on a meme from Chris Rock that said some professions can’t have bad apples… like pilots. American Airlines can’t be like ‘most of our pilots like to land, we just have some bad apples that like to crash into mountains.” How many bad brain surgeons are acceptable? When a doctor or surgeon botches a case, there are severe consequences. We have to hold people accountable. The outrage from our Black community members is not only about the fact that Black men and women are being murdered, the bigger problem is that they are murdered without consequence. Even when it is caught on camera – it is not enough for the officers to be held accountable. Not convicting an officer for killing an unarmed person is condoning the behavior. Acquitting them is saying, it’s ok, we understand why you did what you did. You can’t say I am outraged by what happened but I am not willing to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law. Those don’t go together.

The argument: I’m not racist so stop blaming me. Nobody is blaming you – be open, not defensive. In my book I use the key concept BOND – be open not defensive to talk about things that are hard to talk about. We have BONDing moments right now. We can be open, and tear down the walls of defense to reach a common goal. We can be part of the solution and not shrug off the problem because we feel like we, individually, didn’t cause it. If there is a mess, help clean it up, because it is all of our responsibility to fix it.

The argument: George Floyd was a criminal who resisted arrest. Not only is this a false statement, but it doesn’t help. Petty crime is not a death sentence. Saying, “I’m claustrophobic, please don’t put me in there” is not the same as trying to get away or resisting arrest. He was already in handcuffs. As someone who has been trained in SAMA and CPI restraint techniques, I have heard numerous times that if someone dies during a restraint – it is your fault, you are liable. That’s part of EVERY training. We are taught to watch for signs of distress. There are always two people present during a restraint so that others are watching for signs of distress, to ensure the safety of everyone involved. A restraint is not a consequence for behavior. A restraint is not a power move to get someone under control. Verbal deescalation tactics such as join and follow to lead are used to help people in crisis to calm down and make decisions that are safe and in accordance with the law. A restraint is only to be used if someone is a direct danger to themselves or others. What we witnessed on that video was not resisting arrest. There was NO struggle, and they stayed on top of George Floyd for FOUR MINUTES after he died. He was NOT responding. They stayed on top of him after calling for emergency medical assistance. They didn’t get up. They didn’t move. They didn’t help him. They watched him die. Three people held him down, and one stood watch while he cried for help and they let him die. It was murder.

The argument: George Floyd did not suffocate. There are two autopsies. One says Mr. Floyd suffocated, the other says he did not. The truth: it does not matter what part of his body shut down, it would not have shut down if they weren’t restraining him in the manner they were. Both autopsies call it homicide. He asked for help, he cried for help, and they ignored his cries. It was murder.

Deflecting with “Humor”. The #GeorgeFloyd Challenge and #WhiteLivesMatter memes and tweets are disgusting. There is no other word for it. There is absolutely nothing funny about hate and racism. It’s a disease that will destroy our community and our society, and us individually. It’s not funny. Sarcasm and satire have no place in this conversation.

Be the solution. Be the good in the world. Make a stance once and for all that HATE STOPS HERE.

Extreme Makeover – Spiritual Edition

This past weekend I had a big reality check that I had gotten sloppy with my habit of controlling my mouth. While I have successfully tackled cutting profanity out… most of the time, I caught myself saying something completely out of character – telling a story that just wasn’t mine to tell. I have a pretty strict rule that if I am not a main character in a story, then it isn’t my story to tell and I don’t speak to it. However, that didn’t happen this past weekend.

I said something mean, judgmental, and NONE OF MY BUSINESS, and I instantly felt convicted. I was literally brought to tears and grieved by my thoughtless words and quickly ended the conversation, in tears and went immediately to pray and repent and pour my heart out to God, asking Him to correct my heart and to keep my ears to His voice that my words would bring life and be an extension of His love and grace.

It’s easy to lose track of our words, to get caught up in conversations, or to compromise our own commitment to staying in our lane. We can justify it as not wanting to be rude, but in truth, we are compromising our own integrity just to make someone else feel better about something they are doing that is wrong. While it’s not our place to judge them or even correct them, we have every right to say, “I’m sorry, I am just not comfortable with this conversation.”

Our words are the indicator of what is in our hearts. And our thoughts are an indicator of who we are, and who we will become. That whole “as a man thinketh, so is he” Proverbs 23:7 thing. I lacked discipline in my words, and tracing that back to the root cause, it stems from allowing negativity into my mind, listening to negativity and gossip, reading it, and replaying it in my mind, to the point that it got down in my spirit and eventually became my words.

Gossip, judgment, and negativity are like infections that start in one area and quickly infect other areas. They may start with what we see, and quickly infect what we think about, which infects our character, and that infects our heart and our heart bubbles up into words that we speak and infect others.

I had an alarming revelation about that. It would be better for me to socially distance than to infect others with my sin. If I am not going to bring life to others and be an extension of the love of Christ, people would be spiritually better off without contact with me. HARSH! But true.

I have a responsibility to myself, to the people I encounter, and to Christ to dedicate my words, thoughts, and actions to Him completely. May I become a mirror image of Him and an extension of His love and grace to His people.

You Can’t Stand in the Light and Hide From It

Doubt has a way of creeping into our minds uninvited. Seeds planted by the enemy come in various forms. Regrets from the past, words spoken by others, and fear. We live in a society where people question what they do not understand or relate to. So many people with bad intentions have caused many to be skeptical of anyone who wants to help with no strings attached or expectations in return.

I find myself trying to keep the peace withe everyone, juggling the expectations that continue to grow as my network grows. I battle with others criticizing me, and yet part of me knows that God is preparing me for what is ahead. You can’t tell a story as raw and honest as I am in Up From the Ashes and not face judgment and criticism.

Here is the realization that caused me to stop allowing others to rob me of my calling. God called me to stand in the light and to be an extension of that light. I can’t stand in the light and hide from it at the same time. I have to be willing to be vulnerable, and open even if that means that some people don’t get it. That’s where I trust God as my defender.

The truth is that I didn’t start this ministry for everyone, I started it for those who are hurting and need hope. I started it for those who need strength. For those people, I will push forward and fight that inner battle to hide from being seen.

The Truth Never Changes

When I was a kid, we always went to Camp Dry Gulch in Broken Arrow Oklahoma. It was part of Willie George’s ministry. We did all of the 1980s camp things to do like basket weaving, bows and arrow shooting, canoeing, and story telling. I remember a few things about that camp, like getting homesick for the first time. I remember that they played Thy Word by Amy Grant every evening when it was time for chapel.

I also remember playing a group game where we would sit in a circle, and everyone would put their hands out – palms facing up. We would place our hands one on top of the others to make a perfectly joined circle. My right hand was on top of one person’s left palm. My left hand was underneath the other person’s right hand. As we sang a song the first person would take their right hand and clap the upward facing hand on the left of them, and then that person would clap the hand on the left of them… all the way around the circle until the song ended. If your hand was the one clapped when the song ended, you were out.

It was a silly game but we played it a lot. Enough that I remember the song we sang. “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today, and forever – Hebrews 13:8”.

I was humming that song to myself this morning while I washed dishes. I began to think about Jesus being the way, the Truth and the Life… and how the Truth never changes. Jesus is the same always – and He always will be. He is the Word of God – and the Word of God is always true.

Throughout 2020. I have had one prayer – God may my heart mirror yours. May I be a complete extension of the love of Christ. Even when I don’t feel like it, even when my emotions are on edge and I wish I could react in a way that is true to my nature – my commitment is to be a mirror of the unfailing – unwavering love of Christ.

That takes consecrating my mind, words and actions completely to God every day. It requires me to lay my burdens at His feet. God is willing to take those burdens from me, because if I carry them with me… they will change me. God can handle them – and He never changes.

God isn’t moved by the things that shake me. If I am true to my commitment to Christ, that I will be an extension of His love to the world, then I will seek to mirror my responses to His. I will seek to replay cruelty with kindness. I will seek to cast my burdens on Him I will seek to forgive those who have not asked for forgiveness. I will devote my time, attention and resources to serving Him and His people… wanting nothing in return.

If I am mirroring Christ, I am not changed by who is around me, my attitude isn’t influenced by negativity, and I don’t get deterred by attacks because I aligned with the unchanging, unwavering God. If I want to get consistent in my faith and walk with Christ, then I have to anchor to the One who never changes.

Raven’s Reach

Raven’s has now soared to 112 countries!

On January 11, 2020 the millions of people around the world met Raven Goff through her mom Tanner’s videos on Facebook. Raven sustained a traumatic brain injury in a terrible accident that she was not able to recover from. Tanner Trujillo, Raven’s mom and her husband Anthony along with Shane Goff, Raven’s dad and his wife Brooke, shared a message of hope and unwavering faith with the world through Raven’s story.

The message is that Raven, a sweet, brave, courageous little girl, whose organs saved seven lives, continues to touch the world and save live with the love of Jesus continues to spread through her story. Tanner and Shane lived their faith out loud for the world to see that God is good no matter what. God is faithful no matter what. Even in the worst of times, God hasn’t failed us.

Through a blog I wrote, I am able to track a small portion of Raven’s reach. I wanted to give an update since my post on January 24th.

Raven’s message how now reach 112 countries. She has flown across 17% of Africa, 31% of Asia, 64% of Europe, 58% of North America, 24% of the Oceania countries, and 57% of South America.

Since my last post, Raven’s Reach has extended in Africa to Gambia, Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau.

Complete list of Countries in Africa that Raven has reached (only pulling from the blog, not Faceboook):

  • Cameroon
  • Gambia
  • Guinea
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Kenya
  • Mauritius
  • Namibia
  • South Africa
  • Sudan
  • Zambia

She has reached 11 new countries in Asia, including: Bangladesh, China, Cocos Islands, Iran, Kuwait, Malaysia, North Korea, Pakistan, Palestine, and Syria.

Complete list of Countries in Asia that Raven has reached (only pulling from the blog, not Faceboook):

  • Afghanistan
  • Bahrain
  • Bangladesh
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Cambodia
  • China
  • Cocos Islands
  • Hong Kong
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Israel
  • Japan
  • Kuwait
  • Malaysia
  • North Korea
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palestine
  • Phillippines
  • Qatar
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Syria
  • Taiwan
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Viet Nam

She has reached 10 new European countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czechia, Iceland, Isle of Man, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland, and Ukraine.

Complete list of Countries in Europe that Raven has reached (only pulling from the blog, not Faceboook):

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Czechia
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Georgia
  • German
  • Gibraltar
  • Greece
  • Guernsey
  • Iceland
  • Ireland
  • Isle of Man
  • Italy
  • Jersey
  • Latvia
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Ukraine
  • United Kingdom

She has flown over seven new countries in North America: Cayman Islands, Dominican Republic, El Savador, Greenland, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad.

Complete list of Countries in North America that Raven has reached (only pulling from the blog, not Faceboook):

  • Bahamas
  • Bermuda
  • Canada
  • Cayman Islands
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Savador
  • Greenland
  • Grenada
  • Guadeloupe
  • Guatemala
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Puerto Rico
  • Sint Maarten
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • United States
  • Virgin Islands

She has now extended her reach to Papua New Guinea and the US Outlying Islands.

Complete list of Countries in the Oceania Regions that Raven has reached (only pulling from the blog, not Faceboook):

  • American Samoa
  • Australia
  • Guam
  • New Zealand
  • Papua New Guinea
  • US Outlying Islands

In South America, her reach now includes Uruguay and Venezuela.

Complete list of Countries in South America that Raven has reached (only pulling from the blog, not Faceboook):

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chile
  • Columbia
  • Ecuador
  • Peru
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

If you’d like to add your location to the list, or add a picture to Raven’s gallery, please leave a comment below.

For more on Raven’s story or to connect with other people touched by the #CravinRaven story join the FB group (this is not my group, I am just a member) https://www.facebook.com/groups/849282508826090/

Perfection Is Not a Currency for Love with Andria Flores

The Beauty From Ashes Radio Show is officially here! In episode 1, I was joined by Andria Flores to talk about perfectionism, and her upcoming book “type A, plans B”. Andria is an author, an editor (I’m proud to say she is my editor) and an overcoming type A perfectionist.

The introduction: The Beauty From Ashes Radio Show airs live on the JoCo Community Radio Show Facebook page (click on the link to watch the show) and can also be heard on the Tune-In app every Tuesday form 6PM – 7PM. I started the show because I believe we all have a story to tell in our own way. The show was designed to facilitate conversations with warriors, overcomers, survivors and thrivers, to spotlight their messages of hope, healing and victory.

In the What Are You Reading segment, we highlighted what Andria and I were both reading. Currently, for me, it’s the The Boundaries book by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I recently started this book, that is totally stepping on my toes! It starts with a description of what your life would be like without boundaries, and then, it describes my whole life.

Andria reads for a living as an editor, so she doesn’t always get to read for fun as much as she would love, but she has recently been moved by the poem She Let Go by Rev. Safire Rose, which has a powerful message about perfectionism from the point of view of people pleasing.

Andria’s powerful message on perfectionism:

Andria has struggled with perfectionism since childhood. From an early age, she connected love and approval with performing well. Her adoption of perfectionism stemmed from the belief that if she did well at something then she was worthy of love, but if she failed at something, that indicated that she was unworthy of love and acceptance. She formed a lifelong habit of striving for perfection in every relationship in her life. Until she realized that the very thing she thought would earn hear love, was the exact same thing that was preventing her from having deep connections with the people around her.

As an adult, I realized that the thing I wanted most, to connect with other people, was torn apart by perfectionism.” -Andria

Perfectionism can work for a while, it can even drive success, it just isn’t sustainable. Andria went on to share a very vulnerable message about how perfectionism impacted her as a mother. Andria has always been a proud mother and motherhood was the one thing she had dreamed of being her whole life. Take a look at the AHA! moment at 43:04 in the video that lead to her realizing that perfectionism wasn’t an effective parenting technique, it was actually going to break the spirit of her sweet little girl. Andria sought to find an answer through prayer, studying, and life transformation.

“When it all began to unravel for me, I realized pretty quickly, that I even had a perfectionist relationship with God.” – Andria

After the collapse of the white picket fence life, Andria maintained a white picket fence image for several more years. Even her mom, the closest person to her, didn’t know what was happening. A passing comment that Andria’s mom made about her being “one hell of an actress” led to a realization that even though she acted out of devotion to her marriage, family and faith, she had been playing the role of supporting actress in her own life.

“It never occurred to me that working so damn hard to be perfect, had actually made me plastic.” – Andria

Andria went through a journey of self discovery, traveling through the mess that brokenness and shattered dreams had left behind. As a natural planner caught completely off guard by sudden chaos, Andria found that you have to walk through the ugly cries, snotty noses, and a few cuss words to go through establishing new boundaries and figuring out who she was without the burden of expectations. She finally opened up to God in the realest way. She poured her heart out to Him, and unburdened all of the things she has held inside for so long.

“I knew that God was saying finally. I have been waiting so long for you to just be real with me.”

God continued to heal Andria as she found new ways to be honest with herself and those close to her. She gain the strength and courage to not only overcome perfectionist thing, but to open her life of in vulnerability to be be truly loved for the amazing person that she is.

At the end of her writing, Andria had an unexpected revelation… that she actually didn’t need a plan B at all. Jeremiah 29:11 said that God knows the plans He has for us, and she just needed to be open and curious about what those were.

ACTION ITEMS FOR FELLOW PERFECTIONIST

  1. Get honest with yourself and acknowledge that you are a perfectionist, and the ways that might fail you (it’s not all bad)
  2. Don’t take yourself so seriously
  3. Breathe, take a minute to inhale and exhale before making your next decision

For a sneak peak at Andria’s upcoming book release, download a FREE e-book “type A Parenting” on Andria’s website www.andriaflores.com

Raven’s Story Was Told

Today was the Celebration of Life for sweet Miss Raven Goff. Her story was told, and it was told in the most beautiful way possible by the people who loved her the most. The words that come to mind are: eloquent, grace, strength, courage, awe, brave, and inspiring.

As the family walked in, the song, Reckless Love by Cory Asbury played. The Celebration started with those sweet words, “Before I spoke a word, You were singing over me. You have been so, so good to me. Before I took a breath, You breathed Your life in me. You have been so, so kind to me.” I think that is the most beautiful part of this story and this message, that even in tragedy, God has been glorified, and His goodness has been proclaimed over and over.

Pastor Rick of Pathway church had the perfect mix of love, humor, and hope. He gave a powerful message about Raven’s story and how she helped the world to forget all of the things that separate us, even if only for a moment.

Tanner Trujillo and Shane Goff stood on stage with thousands of people watching and they told their love story. It was perfect, because it was real. They spoke of their divorce without the venom or anger that we associate with that word. They spoke of working hard to be in unity for the sake of their child, yet another message I hope the world sees and hears.

As Tanner stood near the podium, she watched Shane with the fierceness and protectiveness that only a mother could. She stood by him in unity, #TeamRaven all the way. Protecting her daughter’s message from speculation or rumor. As Pastor Rick said, there are no sides, it’s about Raven’s Side. It’s about Team Raven. Tanner displayed unconditional love and respect for her child’s father, while honoring both of their current spouses and families. Throughout the service Raven’s family, biological and bonus, were honored. This is how it should be. This family’s willingness to fight for love and fight to glorify God together, that is what is reaching the entire world.

We naturally reflect on the story and it triggers memories in our own life, perhaps times of loss. For me, I think back to losing pregnancies. I lost a child before I knew him, I was twenty weeks pregnant. I was mad at God about it. I quested everything, because it didn’t go how I planned for it to go. I had a total of five miscarriages, and each time I don’t think I handled it with very much grace and dignity. I appreciated Tanner and Shane showing their emotions and deep wounds that this has left. In total strength, Tanner expressed how much she feels and battles and the human side of it all. She did it with strength and grace, like she always does. However, I connected with her, knowing that keeping her eyes on Christ and resting in His faithfulness is exactly what’s holding her together.

I think what stood out to me most was how the service ended with Elevation Worship’s song, Do It Again. It was the perfect reminder that no matter what you are facing, God has not failed you, He hasn’t left you.

When nothing else makes since, this one thing we can rely on, God is good and He is faithful. Even when we fell alone, He hasn’t left us. Even when we don’t understand, He is at work. Even when it feels like we have lost it all, He has never failed us.

Walking around these walls
I thought by now they’d fall
But You have never failed me yet
Waiting for change to come
Knowing the battle’s won
For You have never failed me yet

Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You’ve never failed me yet

I know the night won’t last
Your Word will come to pass
My heart will sing Your praise again
Jesus, You’re still enough
Keep me within Your love
My heart will sing Your praise again

Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You never failed

Your promise still stands
Great is Your faithfulness, faithfulness
I’m still in Your hands
This is my confidence, You never failed me yet

Do It Again, Elevation Worship

The service can be viewed in its entirety at https://pathway.church/media/livestream/

A Glimpse of What God Has In Store

Yesterday I wrote a post about Raven Goff, just wanting to express how much the story meant to me. I posted a link on the Cravin Raven group, which the last time I saw the member count before posting, it was around 1200 people. I thought 20-30 people would see the blog, but really just wanted to express how I was feeling. After I shared it I noticed that it started getting likes and shares within the group, which had grown to THOUSANDS of members by that point. When it got 500 views, I thought, “God wouldn’t that be cool, if 1000 people saw it?” I went back to working on the book and checked an hour later. Over 1200 people had viewed the post. As someone who is just starting out in the social media and blogging space, I was overwhelmed. I have been praying for the impact on the ministry that God has put on my heart. I whispered, “God, are you preparing me? Are you trying to tell me that a thousand people will be reached by the message you have given me?” He told me to just wait. I went back to working on the book. When I logged in a couple of hours later, I was blown away.

I was speechless, almost THREE thousand people had seen my little blog. Again, I went to God in prayer, “God, are you saying that three thousand people will be reached in this ministry that you placed on my heart? Are you preparing me for three thousand people?” I absently thought, what if it hits 5000?

Then it did hit 5000. I began to feel the more humbled than I had ever felt in my life. What an honor to be a small part of such a powerful message. I went back to God in prayer, “God, I didn’t see this going this far. I am so sorry, I put my own limitations on you. I feel you preparing me.” Again, He said, “Just wait.” My son checked on me before going to bed, it was sitting around 8000 and said that there would be more than 10,000 by the time we woke up, but I brushed it off. I said, “No, son, I think it’s done.”

But I woke up to almost 11,000 views on the blog. Raven’s message continued to soar, and God continued to increase my faith little by little. It wasn’t about how many likes, shares, or blog hits. God was using the blog to help spread His message of hope and beautiful grace. He was also using the blog to show me that God’s thoughts and His plans go far beyond the distance of my imagination and are not trapped by the confinement of the walls in my mind.

See, not only have 15,000 people viewed that one blog post, when before I had never had more than 50 people read my blog, I am not most thankful because of the readership, I am thankful because God increased my faith. I am thankful that God showed me just a glimpse of his plan for Beauty From Ashes Media.

I launched the first episode of the Beauty From Ashes Radio Show today, and it was a success. It was God’s success. Guys, what could I have ever done to deserve a God who would not only forgive my past, but fully restore me? I could have never earned a love so great. The coolest thing about God, I think, is His perfect, unfailing love, and how He chooses each of us to love Him and to love each other.

Last Week I Watched a Family Do the Unthinkable

Burleson seems to have grown in leaps and bounds since we first moved here when I was six years old. I remember that year so clearly, because it was the year that I had Karen Sanders as my first grade teacher. It was the year that I met classmates that I am still friends with today. In the last thirty-something years, the town has changed. Restaurant chains have moved in, there are plenty of places to shop besides Walmart now. There are new churches, and double the number of schools as when I went to Nola Dunn. I-35 traffic is infuriating and speaks to the growth in the community. However, this town has never felt smaller and more close knit than last week when the whole town rallied together to pray for Raven Goff and support Tanner Trujillo and Shane Goff as they made the ultimate sacrifice. They are a huge part of the community and while I didn’t know them, I know their church, I know their friends, I know their work colleagues and workout partners, I used to work at the school Raven attended… it was all so close to home. Literally millions of people all over the world have been touched by this story and they all have a piece of our little town with them now.

The Bible says it rains on the just and the unjust. I remember when Stephen Curtis Chapman spoke about losing his daughter and he said you start to buy into the hype that this couldn’t happen to you, you have done so much for God’s kingdom. Then he said, “But why not me? I am human and live in the same fallen world as everyone else.” I thought that was the coolest perspective, filled strength and humility.

With similar strength, the world watched Tanner’s updates from her daughter’s hospital room. After a tragic accident, Raven was declared brain dead. Tanner and Shane made the impossible decision to donate her organs. They chose to donate every organ that could be used. In a video I will never forget, Tanner sat next to her six year old little girl who was on life support. With a complete blanket of peace, Tanner shared an update on the organ donation. In this tremendous sacrifice, keeping Raven on life support for two more days after her official time of death as they waited for the organ matches to align for one perfect surgery where Ravens organs would be harvested and sent to save the lives of other children.

In that moment, when most of us would have completely shattered, Tanner said something that will stick with me forever. She said, “God is so good. He is so much sweeter than I could ever be bitter.”

There were other images throughout the story that solidified God at work. From Shane’s broken cry of worship after losing his beautiful daughter, to Tanner’s perfect peace and composure that God promised us all. To Tanner’s biological father and bonus father talking about not using the word “step” and how they are a united family. We have learned so much from this journey.

Lord, may I trust you, as much as Tanner. May I worship you with that kind of unconditional love that Shane displayed. May I always see your beauty even in my own tragedies. This, surely is your most beautiful creation from the ashes.

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