Friday, June 12, 2015


I am a goal-oriented human being.

I set goals constantly. Do I always meet them? Absolutely not. But that does not keep me from setting them.

I’m not talking New Years resolutions here. I have a friend who is huge on New Years resolutions. She called me at the beginning of the year and asked what my resolutions were. “I don’t have any,” I replied. She was dumbfounded. I continued, “I set three new goals last week and I’m still working on those. Why would I give myself a whole set of resolutions for an entire year when I’m still working on my goals from last week? When I meet those goals (or don’t), I’ll set new ones.” (Nothing against New Years resolutions, I just know me, and I know that if I don’t have immediate goals in front of me then I won’t get a thing accomplished.)

Being a goal-oriented human being, I set some for this summer:
-Read one book per week (still working on this one…I have been reading, but not one per week quite yet)
-Go another twelve weeks on my exercise program (just finished my first twelve weeks (ACCOMPLISHED GOAL FROM MY LAST SET OF GOALS (**go me!!!**)))
-Blog once a week (welllll this is the fifth week of the summer and the first blog I’ve actually written so you can see how well that one is going…hey! I’m trying over here!)

Because I am goal-oriented, I automatically expect the people around me to be as well, so it’s no surprise that when I had a sleepover with a friend a couple weeks ago I rolled over in my three a.m. delirium and asked “So what are your goals for the summer?”

And here is where we get to the point of this whole thing! Stick with me!

She thought for a second about the question (I could tell she was about to make up her goal right there on the spot) and then the light bulb came on and she replied, “My goal is to really focus on finding out who I am.”

A noble goal. A huge one to take on at twenty-one years old. Heck, there are ninety-one year olds who don’t know who they truly are (but not for the reasons you might think. We’re getting to that.)

Everyone in our culture wants to find themselves. Students take a year off school to “find themselves.” Middle-aged adults pick up new hobbies to “find themselves.” People travel. People take up yoga. People start cooking. People make new friends. People try out different religions. People go back to school. People start new careers. All in the name of “finding themselves” or “finding out who they are.”

Do not get me wrong. There is nothing in the world wrong with wanting to find out who you are. You are an amazing human being. You have a purpose. There is a reason you are on this planet…BUT, if you are trying to find yourself in anything other than Jesus, you will never find who you truly are.

You want to find out who you are? Look for Jesus. The Bible told us at the very beginning who you are:

So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. –Genesis 1:27

In our original form, we were created in the image of God. At our very cores, who we really are is a reflection of who He is! Let’s continue.

Wanting to find something implies that what you are looking for is lost or hidden. You want to find yourself? The Bible tells you exactly where you are:

For you died to this life, and your real life is hidden with Christ in God. -Colossians 3:3

Even the bible tells us that our lives are “hidden,” but it tells us exactly where they are hidden. WITH JESUS. We seek Jesus, we find ourselves.

Friends, God wants us to find ourselves, but first and foremost he wants us to find Jesus. That’s why he hid our lives with Jesus in the first place!

The enemy wants to distort the things that God has for us. The enemy knows that when we find our God-given purpose in life that he stands no chance. It’s the enemy who tells us that we can “find ourselves” in a new hobby, in visiting a new place, in marrying a new spouse, in having another kid, in changing our major, in fill-in-the-blank-with-anything-that-seems-edifying-but-distracts-us-from-Jesus.

So many people will make it to the end of their lives having never found themselves, not because they didn’t seek whom they were, but because they never sought Jesus.

My pastor said it best a few weeks ago. “You will never fully know yourself until you know God.”

I’m setting a new goal, friends. I am going to find myself…only in Jesus.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Bear with me here. Blogging is where I go when the Lord has given me a word, but I do not necessarily have a platform to scream it from the rooftops yet. This blog is my platform right now, and so I will just have to type it from the rooftops.

For the last nine months the Lord has been taking me through a process of learning about truth vs. counterfeit, honesty vs. deception, God vs. the enemy. Growing up in the Christian faith,  I learned about the two paths one can travel.  There’s the wide path and there is the narrow path. Matthew 7:13 puts it this way: "You can enter God's Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.” (NLT)  Robert Frost would go as far to refer to the narrow road as “the one less traveled by.” 

Now, if we were to assign these two options colors, tradition would tell us that the wise decision, the one Jesus would want us to make, would be white, and the other decision, the one the devil hopes we choose, would be black. This is a simple concept that I’ve been taught my entire life, but about nine months ago the Lord brought me new revelation about such decisions. For mature christians, white vs. black is too easy.  For people who really desire to make wise, Christ-honoring decisions, white vs. black is cake. White is obviously the right decision.  Here’s the catch: the enemy’s option is rarely black. Most of the decisions that we make as christians are not white vs. black, but white vs. eggshell white.  The enemy offers the counterfeit of what God offers.  He offers something so close to the real thing that you have to put the two up to the Light to strain to see. The enemy offers a knockoff of what God offers and in the process he steals our authority.  

So the question is this—how can we tell the difference between the Truth and the counterfeit? Simple. Study the Truth so diligently that when the enemy offers the counterfeit we can easily tell the difference.

Now, I’m about to go on a bit of a rabbit trail, but if you hang with me I promise I’m going to bring it all back together.

A few weeks ago I had a conversation outside of Starbucks with a spiritual mentor of mine.  We began discussing a concept that I knew, but never had the exact words to explain. To put it simply: most Christians fall at one place on a spectrum. On one end of the spectrum are Christians who believe in God the Father as an omniscient, all powerful, Creator-of-the-Universe who sent his Son to die on the cross for the sins of the world. They believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose three days later, and the generally believe everything the Bible says (they definitely claim that they do). The problem is that they ignore most things concerning the Holy Spirit. They either ignore the gifts of the spirit (such as prophecy, words of knowledge, tongues, the interpretation of tongues, etc) altogether or they preach against them.  On the other end of the spectrum are Christians who are slain in the Spirit before they make it up the church steps.  They believe (or claim to believe) most of the same things about God the Father and Jesus as the people on the opposite end of the spectrum, however, one will hardly ever hear them talking about those foundational truths compared to the time they spend on the Holy Spirit. They tend to be so focused on encounters with the Holy Spirit that biblical principles regulating such church services are often shucked to the side.

The first end of the spectrum is could be referred to as the “dried up” end of the spectrum because without belief in and experiences with the Holy Spirit (who Jesus left so he could send us!!!!), our lives as Christians are void of the power and authority that is so freely offered to us. The other end of the spectrum could be referred to as the “blown up” end of the spectrum because when experiences aren’t grounded in the Word of God, they are often inflated. Like I said before, most of us Christians can be found at some point on this spectrum. 

Thankfully, in the exact middle of this spectrum a perfect balance can be found. These are the people who believe 100% in the Bible, what it says about the Father, the Son, AND the Holy Spirit. They understand the gifts of the spirit and that they are to be used to build the body of Christ, but they also understand that the use of these gifts is to never be chaotic.  These Christians are growing up.  They are walking in the full authority they have been given through their sonship/daughtership of the God of the heavens and of the earth.  

When Jesus walked the earth, he lived in this perfect balance.  Let’s take a quick look in the Bible:

Matthew 4:1-11
1 Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted there by the devil. For forty days and forty nights he fasted and became very hungry.
During that time the devil[a] came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become loaves of bread.”
But Jesus told him, “No! The Scriptures say,
‘People do not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’[b]”
Then the devil took him to the holy city, Jerusalem, to the highest point of the Temple, and said, “If you are the Son of God, jump off! For the Scriptures say,
‘He will order his angels to protect you.
And they will hold you up with their hands
    so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.’[c]”
Jesus responded, “The Scriptures also say, ‘You must not test the Lord your God.’[d]”
Next the devil took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. “I will give it all to you,” he said, “if you will kneel down and worship me.”
10 “Get out of here, Satan,” Jesus told him. “For the Scriptures say,
‘You must worship the Lord your God
    and serve only him.’[e]”
11 Then the devil went away, and angels came and took care of Jesus.

When the devil tempted Jesus, how did Jesus respond each time? With scripture! Jesus was grounded in the Word of God one hundred and fifty percent! He knew his authority and he knew his identity as the Son of God.  Now, let’s go back to verse one. Who does it say led Jesus into the desert? The Spirit! Jesus was grounded by the word AND empowered by the spirit, and THAT is how he could stand up to the schemes of the devil!
This is where it all gets tied together, so stick with me here. When we as Christians fall anywhere on the spectrum but the middle, we are not walking in our full authority. Instead, we are choosing the devil’s counterfeit: a life living in religious bondage opposed to a life that looks like that of Jesus.

The enemy came to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10) and yes, at times, that looks like busting your door down, but more often than not it looks like him slithering in without notice.  The enemy is a schemer, he is a snake in the garden that you have no idea is there! Don’t you think he’s going to try his hardest to take you down without you ever realizing you’re falling until you hit the ground? That’s what deceivers do! For Bible believing/obeying christians, the schemes of the enemy will not as often look like being tempted with things that are of the world, (and that’s not to say that Christians are never tempted with things of the world because we absolutely are) rather, they will be sly attempts to keep you from realizing the fullness of the authority you have as a child of the Most High God! Where is that found? In the spiritual things! It is white vs. eggshell rather than white vs. black! When we get caught up at any point on this spectrum other than in perfect balance, then the devil has us ensnared in not only counterfeit christianity, but in the spirit of religion, never realizing our full authority. Living a life of super religious christian activity is the counterfeit of a life walking in the authority that Jesus gives us.

My God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He is the King of kings, the Lord of lords, the Father to the fatherless and He is a healer! And YES, HE STILL HEALS PEOPLE TODAY.  Not only does he still heal people today, but he still does so through his children! Jesus even tells us that we will do greater works than him! (I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.  John 14:12) For goodness sake, Jesus healed the blind, he healed the lame, he rose the dead! He ascended to heaven so that he could send the Spirit to empower us.  He had authority on heaven and on earth because he was the son of God, but he also gave us that same authority as sons and daughters of God because we were reconciled to God through his death and resurrection (For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people's sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:19)! Let me repeat that, IN CHRIST, WE HAVE THE SAME AUTHORITY AS JESUS, but that authority is useless unless we choose to walk in it.

My God is also a God of order and peace. He is a not a God of confusion or chaos. (For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God's holy people. 1 Corinthians 14:33) As christians, when we ignore the regulations that God has put in place, we rid ourselves of authority because we are disregarding the Word of God, and God is his Word (John 1:1).

This is ugly. Christians being deceived by the spiritual things is just as, if not more dangerous than being ensnared in worldly sin. But this is also beautiful, because Jesus died just as much so we would have grace in these situations as the black vs. white. 

I can very honestly say that I do not live every day from the middle of the spectrum. From the time that I accepted Jesus as my Savior at a young age I was definitely closer to one of the extremes on the end of the spectrum than I was to the middle.  Thankfully, Jesus, in his infinite grace, standing in the middle of the spectrum, reaches out his hand and says “Follow me.”  He comes over to wherever I am on the spectrum and brings me back to where he is in the middle.  Sometimes I see the error in the ways I used to live in and try to overcompensate, running straight past the middle and closer to the other extreme, and even then, Jesus takes my hand and brings me back in, sometimes dragging behind him.  That is the fierce grace that Jesus offers.

What is Jesus’s will? That we would take his hand as he leads us out of our bondage and into the authority that he died and rose to give us. Does he give us the option to remain in our religious bondage? Yes.  However, if we choose to remain in our religious bondage, we will never remain in the authority that he desires us to have.

Let’s start seeking the word of God. The COMPLETE word of God.  It will not return void and it will never lead us astray (Isaiah 55). Let’s also start tuning our hearts to the Holy Spirit and believing God to be the all-powerful Healer and Miracle Maker we say He is. 

Just like Jesus, when we follow the Spirit’s lead, equipped with the Truth, we will experience our full authority and ensure victory against every single one of the enemy’s schemes. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Short Version:

I will not be attending LSU Baton Rouge in the fall.  Instead, I am going to stay in Shreveport and go to LSUS in order to get a degree and save money so I can…wait for it… move to Sydney, Australia and go to Hillsong College!

Long Version:

I have wanted to go to LSU Baton Rouge for my entire life.  I mean, of course, I was raised in a culture drenched in purple and gold.  My grandfather tried to have my first words be the words to the LSU fight song rather than the usual “dada” and “mama.”  About two years ago I realized that my life has a very specific call to the ministry, and so I began to look into other options.  Long story short, nothing panned out, however, when people would ask me where I plan on attending college, my answer was, “I’m not really sure.  Really just wherever the Lord tells me to go.”  Senior year got here way faster than I had anticipated.  All of a sudden, all my friends were applying to the colleges of their choice, getting accepted, applying for housing, and making plans with future roommates, and there I was: no idea where I was to attend and definitely no plans for anything beyond that.  It was decision making time, though!  Eventually, I bit the bullet and just decided on my fallback option: LSU (which was not a bad option! In fact, it was quite exciting!).

Around October, a good friend of mine and I were running errands around town one day and she asked the question. “Elles, I’ve noticed lately that when people ask you where you are going to college you say LSU…”
“Yes… and?”
“Well, I just thought that LSU was your fallback option.”
“Well it is… and I’m falling back.  I haven’t received any clear direction about where I am SUPPOSED to be, so I just made a decision.”

My friend basically went on to say that is was not a bad thing to start planning and walking down that path, but to continue to seek the will of the Lord so that if He wanted me to change paths at some point in the future that I would hear His voice and be obedient.  She also said that she really thought that the Lord was going to bring an option out of the woodwork that I had never heard of or considered, but that it would without a doubt be the place for me.

Fast forward to February and the Lord introduced me to the idea of Hillsong College in Sydney, Australia.  I knew absolutely nothing about the college at the time, but through prayer and a couple conversations with close friends, it became apparent that this was an option I really needed to consider.  The friend who had originally questioned my declaration about LSU turned to me and said, “Elles, this is the best option we have talked about for you in two years.”  Two days after I started praying about it, I knew that I needed to at least talk to my parents and put it up to them whether to consider it or shut it down.  I talked to my dad first, (if you do not know, I have been raised by a military man who greatly values structure and has had a specific vision of my future since day one) and it went way better than I anticipated.  He then talked to my mom and later in the week the three of us sat down and discussed it.  By the beginning of the next week, they asked me to meet with my pastor, meet with their pastor, and create a spreadsheet comparing the cost of LSU/life in Baton Rouge to HILC (Hillsong International Leadership College)/life in Sydney.  I met with both pastors that week and both meetings went extremely well.  I met nothing but encouragement, prayers, and sound advice.  (If anything throughout this process, I have come to appreciate the wisdom of the people of authority in my life more than ever before.)  I created the spreadsheet my parents asked for as well.  At the end of that week, my parents and I sat down again to discuss what the next step in the process would be.  My dad blessed me and paid the application fee for me to apply to HILC.  

After about another week of prayer, my parents sat me down and let me know they had come to a conclusion concerning my college plans.  They said that they appreciate that I am hearing from the Lord as to the direction in which my life is headed, and that they have known for quite some time that I am called to a different life than most.  The decision reached is that they will, in fact, allow me to attend Hillsong College and help me pay for it, but there are two conditions.  The first condition is that I would stay and get a secular degree first.  The second condition is that I come up with (through fundraising, scholarships,and working) $20,000 before I leave for Australia.  This left me with pretty much two options: 1) I attend LSU and they help me pay for it, however, they would not be able to help me financially with Hillsong after I graduate. or 2) I attend a less expensive school (LSUS), get as many scholarships as possible, and save save save, and then go to Hillsong after LSUS with the help of my parents.

Now, on my parents part, this was a miracle.  The fact that they just gave their oldest daughter the blessing to move to another country thousands of miles away is a sacrifice on their part that I do not take lightly.  The only problem was that never in this entire process was my plan to stay in Shreveport.  I was either going to end up in Baton Rouge or Australia, but staying in Shreveport never entered my mind, nor had I wanted it to.  I have longed for the independence that awaits me in August for too long and then all of a sudden, that independence was no where in sight.  Do not get me wrong, I love Shreveport/Bossier.  I have said on multiple occasions that I am so thankful that my roots are in the 318 area.  I had just always planned to move away at eighteen.  The same friend who questioned me on LSU and thought that Hillsong was the best option for me advised me not to make any decisions about my future for about a week.  She said to feel every emotion to the highest amount, pray about it, cry about it, and to process the entire process without making any decisions at first.  This is exactly what I did.  I took the entire week to think, pray and cry about it every day (I didn’t think I was an emotional person prior to this process…boy was I wrong).  

Ultimately, I knew I was working with borrowed time.  Graduation is fast approaching and enrollment fees are due within weeks.  My dad and I sat down about almost two weeks later (about a week ago now) to talk about the options one more time.  Here is the thing: I am confident that this is what the Lord is calling me to.  Do I like it right now? Not necessarily.  But as I talked to my dad (through tears again. I’m telling you… EMOTIONAL) and said, “Okay then, decision made: LSUS,” the Lord has used every moment since then to align my heart and my desires with His plan.  When it comes down to it, I want His plans for me, not my plans for me, and I trust that as I walk in obedience, He will continue to align my desires with His plan.

Here is the plan: come August, I will move out of my parents house and into an apartment.  My goal is to finish LSUS with a marketing degree in three years.  Be able to work and save money between May-December of 2017, and then leave for Australia in January of 2018.  Hillsong College has 5 different streams of study: Pastoral Leadership, Worship Music, TV & Media, Production, and Dance.  I plan to study in the Pastoral Leadership stream with a focus in Social Justice for probably three years.  However, if I have learned anything over the past couple months, it’s that plans are always subject to change.  

Some of most important lessons I have learned throughout this process:
  • Submission and respect towards your authority, even if you are receiving things that you do not want to hear, is so important.  I know that in the end, I will be blessed because I chose to respect my parents and submit to their authority and their wisdom throughout this process.

“Children obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. ‘Honor your father and mother.’  This is the first commandment with a promise: if you honor your father and mother, ‘things will go well for you, and you will have a long life on earth.’” 
-Ephesians 6:1-3

  • Keeping dreams that the Lord has put in your heart protected is vital.  Hillsong is a God-given dream of mine.  At the same time that the Lord put this dream in my heart, He also gave me the wisdom to keep it protected from everyone except very specific people with spiritual authority in my life.  If I was to have broadcast this all over the place throughout the process, there would have been too many voices (well meaning voices, rest assured) giving me advice and opinions on this giant life decision, when the only voice I needed to be concerned with hearing was the Lord’s.

“My child, listen to what I say,
    and treasure my commands.
Tune your ears to wisdom,
    and concentrate on understanding.
Cry out for insight,
    and ask for understanding.
Search for them as you would for silver;
    seek them like hidden treasures.
Then you will understand what it means to fear the Lord,
    and you will gain knowledge of God.
For the Lord grants wisdom!
    From his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
He grants a treasure of common sense to the honest.
    He is a shield to those who walk with integrity.
He guards the paths of the just
    and protects those who are faithful to him.”
-Proverbs 2: 1-8

  • Do not make plans for yourself and then expect the Lord not to change them.  He already has a plan for you.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” -Jeremiah 29:11
  • Following Jesus is not easy.  Following Jesus requires sacrifice. Does it hurt a little? Absolutely.  Is it worth it? Absolutely.

“Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you want to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” -Luke 9:23-24
  • There is often a season of waiting and preparing between one’s anointing and his or her appointing. King David was anointed to be king long before he was ever appointed as king.  Before he ever fought his Philistine (Goliath), he fought a lion and a bear in his season of waiting and preparation.  I know I have been anointed for certain things in my life and my education is all a part of the process. Hillsong may be a Goliath in my life, but before I face Goliath I need to take full advantage of my season of waiting and preparation.  I guess, in my case, LSUS is my lion and bear.  

Then Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but behold, he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and get him, for we will not sit down till he comes here.” And he sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and had beautiful eyes and was handsome. And the Lord said, “Arise, anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the midst of his brothers. And the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward. And Samuel rose up and went to Ramah. -1 Samuel 16:11-13
“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!” “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.” But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep and goats,” he said. “When a lion or a bear comes to steal a lamb from the flock, I go after it with a club and rescue the lamb from its mouth. If the animal turns on me, I catch it by the jaw and club it to death. I have done this to both lions and bears, and I’ll do it to this pagan Philistine, too, for he has defied the armies of the living God! The Lord who rescued me from the claws of the lion and the bear will rescue me from this Philistine!” -1 Samuel 17:32-37
  • As my pastor says, where the finger of God points, the hand of God provides.  I know the next four years are going to be hard. Between now and the time when I leave for HILC, I still have the $20,000 to raise, but I believe the finger of God has pointed me toward Hillsong, and, therefore, I will cling to the promise that His had will provide the means for me to go.  
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.” -Romans 8:28

Wednesday, January 15, 2014


This morning I woke up at 5 AM, made myself a steaming cup of coffee, headed downstairs to let the dog out and promptly sat down to do my morning bible study.  For the past couple months I’ve been doing Beth Moore’s James study.  Yes, I am aware that this is only a seven week study and I am on week three after two months in, but we’re talking about an hour and a half of homework for this study each time I sit down… there just HAS to be some grace for going at my own pace!
As I got started, the passage being focused on for the day was James 1: 22-25. It says:

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.” 
Now I wish I could say that this is what this blog post is centered on because I think this is one of the most important lessons for believers to learn today, however, I will save that blog post for another day.  As I wrote this passage in my journal and turned the page, the next instruction was to read Zechariah 3:1-7.  Now, although this is a Bible study on James, I was not surprised when instructed to flip to another part of the Bible.  One of the things I have appreciated most about this study is the way Mrs. Moore is able to string together completely different passages of the bible to make one point, so I quickly glanced at the table of contents (yes, I admit to not being familiar with where the book Zechariah was *as all the kids who grew up doing bible drill gasp in horror*) and then flipped to Zechariah 3.  As I began to read, the story was vaguely familiar and as it continued, I knew the Lord was downloading something in me like never before. This is what I read:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.
And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua, “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here.”
OKAY.  You cannot tell me that this passage didn’t just rock your world, and if you can tell me that, you need to take a minute and go back and read it again.  I read this and was absolutely floored.  THEN, the next question I read is, “Does anything about Joshua the priest in Zechariah 3 remind you of your own experience?”  Wow, what a question.  I barely had words to answer at this point.  So here they are, raw and straight from the pages of my journal: (There are two things to keep in mind before you read the following paragraph: 1- do not get used to me posting excerpts from my journal online, I do not intend on it being something that happens on a regular basis. 2- keep in mind that this is my journal, Jesus may say things to me differently than he says them to you.  This is just a little more modern and put in terms I can identify with.)
“E V E R Y T H I N G  about Joshua here reminds me of me! Joshua was the high priest, to everyone around him they must have thought he had it all together, but when he came before the Lord, not even Joshua was clean.  Satan still had PLENTY to accuse him of!! And yet, the Lord stripped all of his dirt and filthiness away anyway.  The Lord rebuked Satan on his behalf!  The Lord gave him authority over His house and His courts! Jesus did the same for me! Jesus stripped me of my dirt and filthiness! Jesus looked at the enemy and said, “Screw you, Satan.  When it comes to Elles you LOSE.” It  is because of Jesus that I am an heir to God’s inheritance.  It is because of Jesus that I can approach the throne boldly and with AUTHORITY.”
I was obviously worked up, hints the excessive explanation points, but this is something seriously awesome and humbling to be worked up about.  Here is the thing, Satan is the accuser.  He entices us to sin through our own fleshly desires and as soon as we give in, he is standing there on behalf of us just to point his finger at us.  He will stand before the Lord and point out every single stain upon our clothing, as if they already didn’t stand out in contrast to God’s perfect glory.  BUT JESUS steps in.  He takes our stains upon himself.  He gives us pure vestments.  He makes us WHITE AS SNOW.  He rebukes Satan on our behalf with more authority than Satan ever had to accuse us with.  He gives us authority.  He trusts us to bring his kingdom to earth.  He gives us a right to His inheritance.  THIS IS SOMETHING TO BE WORKED UP ABOUT. 

This is not something I deserve.  I have messed up.  I have paraded around in my filthy garments.  I have been a bad steward of the name of Jesus Christ.  BUT JESUS has given me grace.  BUT JESUS has restored me and made me clean.  BUT JESUS will always stand in on my behalf.  This is not because of anything I have done, but solely because this is who Jesus is.  He is the one who stands in the gap in the middle of the throne room for me while Satan screams my name and my iniquities. He is the one who makes me blameless. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


           About a week ago, I was getting some work done in our student center with a friend.  When I asked my friend what he was about to do, he said that he was about to fix the screen of our associate pastor’s phone.  Marcus’s phone had been shattered for quite some time, and while the phone was still able to be used, the ability to see things clearly on the screen was crippled.  When my friend said he was about to fix it, I immediately said that I wanted to watch (I have always wanted to know how to take apart and reassemble an iPhone).

As we got into the process of repairing this phone, I began to see that in order to fix that one part of the phone, the entire phone had to be first deconstructed.  Each and every part that went in to form the iphone had to be taken apart, piece by piece.  Every single tiny screw and vital parts such as the camera and the computer inside the phone had to be removed.  As I continued to watch my friend take out every individual piece of the phone, I realized how meticulous he had to be.  Not ONE piece of the phone, not ONE screw could be lost.  It had to be handled with an extreme amount of care.  About 30 minutes into the process, I made a comment to myself, “Gah, this is such a process,” and as soon as I said those words, I heard the Lord ask me a question in my spirit. 

He asked, “Don’t you see that I’m taking you through the same kind of process right now?”

WHAT?!? I was just not expecting a question like that, but suddenly, things started to make a little more sense in my head.  In my life lately, the Lord has been taking me through a process, and with that question, He answered so many questions I had about the nature of the process He has been taking me through.

In my life, my screen is cracked.  Am I still usable with a broken screen? Yes. But can I be used to the fullness of my calling with a broken screen? No.

In my situation, I knew for a little while before the process started that my screen was cracked, but I got busy with other things and did not tend to the issue (in blatant terms, I was avoiding it at all costs).

Well, let me tell you something that I have learned: the Lord I serve does not let things stay broken for too long.  When I did not tend to my broken screen, He did.

Now here is the misconception: People see phone screens that are cracked and broken and they think, “Hmm, that’s just a surface level break, I can take that to someone to fix or even fix it myself (if you are a person who thinks you can fix it yourself, God bless you.  Now that I’ve seen it done, I would never want to try it on my own) and it will not be that complicated at all.” This was my perception of a broken phone screen, and you know what? That was FALSE… much like my perception of the broken screen in my life! I thought, when the Lord started the process of fixing my broken screen that it was just going to be a quick fix, and can you guess what? That was FALSE.

When the Lord began the process that He’s taking me through, I did not see what was coming at all. I did not realize that in order to fix my broken screen that He had to take out every tiny little screw, hinge, and piece of hardware in me that makes me the person I am.  I did not realize (yet) that what I thought was a surface level break, was actually a foundational crack.

And boy was it a surprise to me when I realized just what this process entailed… and in the moment, I cannot say that it was a pleasant surprise.

But here is the THING, here is the HOPE, here is the LOVE and the BEAUTY in the process that that so many times I perceive to be ugly:

I am being constructed by the ULTIMATE Creator.

I am being recreated in a process  orchestrated by the One who knows my inner parts, by the One who knitted my together in my mom’s womb.

Who better to take me through this deconstruction, repairing, and reconstruction process than the One who created me in the first place?

              With each screw that comes out, there is pain and brokenness and often humiliation, but when the Lord strips it all away and reaches the foundation, the broken screen, that for so long I thought was merely a surface deep scrape, and He begins to pry each piece of broken glass from the core of who I am, there is miraculous healing that comes.  The healing that comes is from the only One who can truly take me apart because He is One who originally knitted me together.

I have not reached the end of this process, but I am promised how it will end:

I am an overcomer in Christ.  (Romans 8:37)

All things work together for my good because I love Jesus. (Romans 8:28)

I am God’s MASTERPIECE and he makes me new in Christ. (Ephesians 2:10)

               …if I was going to let anyone take me through this process, should it not be the One who considers me His MASTERPIECE?

               At the end of the process of putting that phone back together last week, you know what the outcome was?  A phone that was able to be used to its full potential.  A phone with not only no cracks, but not even a scratch in sight.  A phone, which after the process was finished, had not a screw, hinge, or piece of hardware missing.  The finished product was a phone that was, once again, ready for use.

              I know that I am fighting a winning battle.  I know that I am fighting from victory and not for it.  And I know that as meticulous as the Lord has been to remove every tiny screw in me and every shard of glass that pierced my heart, He will be just as meticulous in putting it all back together.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


                “Okay, so before we leave we’re going to just cover these kids in prayer.”  This was the voice of my associate pastor at Riverpark as he addressed all of the volunteers that had come out for this evening’s backpack giveaway.  We had been in one of the roughest areas of Shreveport for about an hour and a half where we got to love on some kids and pass out some much-needed backpacks for their upcoming school year (and probably many school years to come seeing as many of their parents are not able to afford these school supplies for their children).

As soon as our pastor said, “Go,” and we began to pray, the Lord’s voice hit me like a ton of bricks. 

He said, “Elles, it is no coincidence that this was where you are on your last night of the summer.  This was the perfect ending to the summer I planned for you.  It was a summer of sacrifice.”

And you know what? He was right (duh).  This was my last high school summer and instead of going to the beach, Disney world, camp with my church, camp with all my friends, Wednesday nights with my youth group, etc… I spent my summer in a foreign country doing evangelism and loving on kids, staffing a camp of middle schoolers four days after I got back stateside, and spending nights like tonight, my last night of “freedom,” in a rough neighborhood playing with a bunch of smelly, sweaty kids.  This summer I sacrificed time with friends and family, comfortable resources that I take for granted in the states, sleep, but more than that I sacrificed me.  I put myself at the feet of the Lord and said, “Here I am. Use me.” And you know what? He did. He stretched me, pried me finger by finger from my comfort zone, and in the process taught me more about Himself than I’ve ever known before.

Now do not get me wrong: I am not writing this blog to say, “Look at me! This is what I did!” The purpose of this blog is quite the contrary.  I want you to see that NONE of this was my own doing.  The sacrifices I made were merely the cost of the availability that I laid at the Lord’s feet.  Did I willingly sacrifice my comfort zone this summer? Absolutely not! Most of the time, I did it kicking and screaming. And how did the Lord respond? He said, “Look you said, ‘here I am. Use me.’  So this is me using you.  I did not say it was going to easy, but you said you were available, and so this is me telling you that it is worth it.” 

So this is me, on the other side of the sacrifice, on the other side of obedience, telling you that what God told me rang true.  It was all worth it, and I would not trade this season of sacrifice for the whole world.  I would not trade the relationships I formed or the lessons I learned in this season for anything.

But tonight, there I stood in the bottoms of Shreveport, thanking the Lord for this season and praying over the next one I am about to walk into (school starts tomorrow), and somewhere I got off thinking that when the summer is over, the season of sacrifice ends.  And there was the Lord saying, “Hello!! Elles!!! Are you listening to yourself? These things that I taught you in this season were not strictly for this season! Take these lessons with you into your next season.  The sacrifice is not over, it has just begun.”

One would think that after the season I have just been through with the Lord that this would have been obvious, and it really probably should have been.  But then, there is the contrast (one of many) between me and God.  I am stubborn.  I do not see the things God sees.  I do not understand the things that He understands.  But that is okay! He is walking me through it each day.  He is revealing to me the things that I miss.  He is ever faithful and He is drawing me unto Himself even in times that I do not deserve it—especially in times I do not deserve it (let’s be real, I never deserve it)!

So here I am, on my last night of summer, my last night of this season, still being molded and taught by Jesus.  Being humbled at the lessons I am learning and the plans that He has for my future.  Nervous about how much more He is going to pry me out of my comfort zone, but excited because of His faithfulness to do so even when I put up a fight… and all just because I said, “Here I am. Use me.”
(above is the backpack giveaway from tonight... chaotic fun)

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?
And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
Isaiah 6:8

Sunday, July 21, 2013


Intentional Evangelism.

This is a phrase that I became all too familiar with during my time in El Salvador.  After all, this phrase is, more or less, the anthem of the Hope 4 El Salvador ministry.  The entire point of putting on the block parties, blowing up the jumpies, painting nails and faces, making balloon animals, giving out cotton candy, etc., is to open up an avenue in which the Good News of Jesus Christ can be shared.  Without sharing the Gospel, all the work I would have done with this ministry while I was in El Salvador, while good work, would have been merely humanitarian work.  The Gospel, the Good News is what sets Hope 4 El Salvador apart from any other non-profit on the street.

                Shortly after writing my last blog about painting nails, I fell into somewhat of a slump. I would pray each morning that the Lord would use me to reach his children in El Salvador, yet when the afternoon rolled around and it was time for another block party I would do the same thing every time: help set up the tables, make sure the right supplies got to each table they needed to be at, and then retreat to the nail painting table where I would paint nails and pray for kids. That was not a bad thing by any stretch of the imagination.  The Lord had appointed me to be there to intercede for those children, and I knew that—for goodness sake, the Lord told me that Himself! …but I had become content in doing only that.  I thought if I stayed right there, painting nails and silently praying for the little hands in front of me, then I was exactly where God wanted me to be. Did He want me to be there, painting nails and praying for kids? Absolutely.  Was I outside of my comfort zone? Hmm, not really. Was He calling me to more? Yes.

About three weeks into the trip, I was at a block party in Alta Vista, El Salvador (a small town plagued with much gang violence).  We had been out on the street for a couple of hours and we were packing up to leave. I had already packed up the nail painting table and was walking towards the other tables to help take them down when two young boys approached me, one was 12 and the other was 14.  (A little back story: a team from Broadmoor Baptist was in doing ministry with us that week and they brought 1000 multi-colored evangelistic bracelets to use that could help when sharing the gospel. These bracelets were very popular when it came to the kids.  There were way more kids who wanted the bracelets than there were bracelets available.)  When the boys walked up, they pointed to my bracelet and told me (in Spanish… yes, I understood! Woohoo!) that they wanted it. Honestly, the easiest for me to have done at that point was just say “sure,” give them the bracelet, and walk away. It was hot outside, I had been out there for hours, we were about to leave, and the list of excuses goes on and on. At the same time though, I knew the prayer I had prayed that morning. I remembered having asked the Lord to use me to reach His children, and here I was, with His children right in front of me! Not only were they right in front of me, but they were asking for the very tool that I could use to share the Good News with them!! I knew what the Lord had called to and I knew the only thing standing between those boys and Jesus was my obedience. 

I called one of our translators over (her name is Jessy and she is a truly amazing woman of the Lord) and told the boys that I would give them the bracelet on one condition: I would first tell them a story about what each of the colors on the bracelet represented, and if at the end of the story they could repeat each color and its significance back to me then the bracelet was theirs.  In the midst of explaining  this, a third boy walked over and joined the first two.  By the end of the story, the three boys were hanging on every word I (and Jessy) said.  They quickly and easily repeated the colors back to me and their significance, and by the end, all three of these guys wanted to accept Jesus into their hearts.  After praying with them we were able point them towards the church we teamed up with that day in Alta Vista (that is where they would receive discipleship and accountability—we were there to evangelize, but evangelism and discipleship go hand in hand).

We loaded up to head to San Salvador just minutes after that and the Lord started speaking, “You see? My plans and purposes for you are bigger than you know.  Do not become content or complacent in only one of my plans for you—you see a smaller picture, but I see things so much differently. I have given you a voice and I am giving you opportunities to use it as I am also entrusting you with some of my children. Step out and be willing to let me use you in whatever ways I have planned for you.”

Here is the thing: so many people will tell you that if you do not share with who the Lord tells you to, or if you do not fulfill a task that the Lord gives you, then He will raise someone else to reach those people or walk willingly into that promise, but I believe that is false. I believe that the Lord has specific plans for each of us and that, as believers, if we are not obedient, than that will prevent others from entering into or furthering their relationship with Jesus.  In the Bible, when Moses refused to walk in what the Lord had promised him and not enter the promised land out of fear of the unknown, God let an entire generation of people die before He raised up another person to walk the Israelites into the will of God.  I believe that if I had not been obedient that day to share with those boys, then too much time would have passed before another person would have had the opportunity to speak into those boys’ lives, and by then they could have pulled into the gangs or worse.  After all, we were almost all loaded up and about to board the bus when this conversation went down.  Who else would have shared with them?

                I have been back in the States now for a little over a week and a half, but this is still one of the things from my trip that I think about each day. Intentional evangelism.  That block party opened up an avenue by which I could share Jesus with them.  The thing about intentional evangelism, though, is that it is no different in El Salvador than it is in the States.  ANY TIME a believer is in the same place as an unbeliever that is intentional by God. The Lord desires to draw all people unto Himself.  As believers, we are mandated to share the Good News.  This is not a suggestion, this is a command.  One of the things I learned over the course of this trip was that I was not there to learn just about being on mission in another country, I was there to learn about being on mission everywhere I go.  To be willing to step out and tell people about Jesus anytime and every time the Lord asks me to.  Is that easy? Heck no! At the end of my life, am I going to regret sharing the Good News with those boys on the streets of El Salvador or the random woman at Walmart in the United States? Absolutely not.

                Coming home after this trip has been quite an adjustment.  Being at home doing ministry presents extremely hard, and equally as difficult, challenges as doing ministry in another country.  One thing I am sure of more than ever before though, is how thankful I am for the life God has called me live.  It may be a life of various sacrifice, but it is a life full of Him.

(Pictured above is me with Jessy and the three boys who came to know the Lord from that conversation-- they were so proud of their bracelets!)

30 Then Jesus told them, “The voice was for your benefit, not mine. 31 The time for judging this world has come, when Satan, the ruler of this world, will be cast out. 32 And when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw everyone to myself.”
John 12:30-32