Expectations & the Developing Themes of 2015

Three months into 2015 and it’s going well, yet not at all as anticipated – in many ways.

As I typed “anticipated” I didn’t like that choice of wording, but it was a fitting description and so I stuck with it. The reason it wasn’t my favorite phrasing is because it implies that I had specific expectations that haven’t been met – which is not entirely true. I’ve learned, however, that sometimes the expectations I have for something or someone are often realized in the development of the outcome of specific circumstances. That is to say, when things take a turn in a certain direction I tend to realize how many expectations I had in the first place.

I’ve been learning lots of things about expectations lately, some of those insights include:

  • Realizing unmet expectations is a necessary and beneficial process, but not always the most comfortable.
  • Not having any expectations is unhealthy – in certain circumstances there should be a level of expectations and those should be discussed.
  • Discussing expectations leads to healthy and helpful communication practices.
  • Filtering expectations through the lenses of Scripture and prayer is the only way to truly realize which expectations are out of balance.
  • Moving toward the expected outcome takes work – yes lots of effort, strategic planning and intentional communication and invested support.

I’ve been thinking through this concept of a lot lately and am in the middle of a “realizing” and “refining” stage of my expectations for several areas of life right now. It’s been a process through which the Lord has humbled me, encouraged me, corrected me, grown me, loved me, instructed me and more. It has, and will continue to be, absolutely worth it.

With that, I’ll leave you with a few passages that remind me of the expectations I should have in the Lord; expectations that He would be glorified, that I will not be ashamed of Him, that He will hear my prayers and that His word is true and helps us understand all other expectations:

Philippians 1:20English Standard Version (ESV)

20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death.

Philippians 4:6English Standard Version (ESV)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Hebrews 4:12English Standard Version (ESV)

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

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Introducing New Blog Topics: Breaking the Existing Blog’s-Eye View Mold

Hello my lovely readers (not sure how many of you there are, but anyone outside of myself is a success in my mind)! I’m excited to announce that I’ll be expanding the topics I discuss on my blog. To date I haven’t really included posts about food, or products or even DIY projects – but that’s all going to change for the better.

I started this blog for many reasons, one of which focus on keeping people updated on my big cross country move from LA to DC. Now that I’m more settled I’m ready to spread my blogging wings. This blogger is ready to venture out and begin including other types of posts of a “lighter” nature than I’m prone to. If you follow my blog, you already know that I’m a deep thinker and tend to post about more involved life lessons or circumstances, but I’m also a creative thinker and love to be crafty!

The ladies I work with actually nicknamed me “Martha” after Martha Stewart because I was always cooking up something new or crafting up something I found on Pinterest or simply made up on the fly. I really am a Pinterest addict at heart and appreciate a great product find that makes my daily routines easier. I also really enjoy making stuff for other people – it’s so fun to give away food and decorative DIY crafts.

I plan to start branching out with the following topics/categories, so if you’re interested in anything related to them you’ll be able to easily find related entries by visiting my categories list:

 Cooking & Baking
Inspirations
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Products I Adore
& Recommend
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Creations for
Places & Spaces
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Bloggers: Friends
& Those I Follow
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Book Reviews
& Article Shares
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Discoveries
& Fun Finds
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With that being said, I’ll be breaking my blogging topic mold by sharing some fun finds from this past weekend, and then I’ll share about a super easy icing recipe from a random search online.

Stay tuned for those follow up entries this week – I hope you enjoy them!

20 Things You Might Not Know About Me Blog Tag

My dear friend (and roomie) Emilie Hendryx from Thinking Thoughts tagged me to participate in a blog question game – how fun! It was started to build community amongst bloggers and I love that idea. I hope to get connected with fellow bloggers I’ve been admiring for some time now, and also to share my love and respect for bloggers I already know and cherish as friends!
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A glimpse into my shortness, as shown off at the Lincoln Memorial last April.

Question 1: How tall are you?
The answer to this WILL NOT be a surprise to anyone who knows me. The question should really be “how short are you?” because I get that a lot. I think 5’2. I recall a doctor telling me that at one point I was almost being 5’3, so sadly I may have shrunk.

Here’s a fun fact: my feet rarely touch the ground when I sit all the way back in chairs.

JUST last night we had a very tall friend over for dinner (I’m talking 6’7) and when he found out my actual height he literally made a sound like “aww how cute and precious is that?” It was a bit over the top ha.

Question 2: Do you have a hidden talent? If so, what?
Does creating things in the Paint program count? Because I own Paint creations for sure!

Or being super pale and “vampire-like?” I’ve got that on lock if it counts!

Let’s see, I don’t know if it’s a hidden talent, but I have the ability to be ruin surprises – without even trying to (although hats off to my mother for throwing a rad sweet 16 for me in spite of my ruiner teenage self being so stubbornly picky and demanding). I hope one day someone can actually pull off a surprise for me – I think that would be a good time.

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Meet teenage Jenn (far right w/ long hair) and some of the family; ironically this was Eater of the year I turned 16, so likely right around the time of that party I mentioned.

Question 3: What’s your biggest blog-related pet peeve?
I have more than one, so I’ll limit it to three (why 3? When I thought of limiting it to just 2 I didn’t like leaving out my 3rd thought and I also like odd numbers, so 3 it is!). Ha

  1. Not being able to find the “about” page. – I want to know about the person who is making me laugh or cry from a well written post and/or who is motivating me to try a new recipe, a new work out, a new book or a new craft.
  2. When I can’t easily find the categories list – I like to find out if they’ve blogged about anything else I care about.
  3. External links – I don’t like when they are broken or don’t open in a new window. It’s not as user friendly to have someone navigate from your site to see a resource you’re quoting.

Question 4: What’s your biggest non-blog related pet peeve?
LOL – again, there isn’t just one. But I will limit this to one in an effort to not break all of the rules of this post.

A lack of eye contact in conversation. I find it very telling when people don’t make eye contact and when they do.

Question 5: What’s your favorite song?
This tends to depend on the season, the year and where I am in life. Right now I’ve been playing the follow songs on repeat often:

  1. Elastic Heart by Sia, The Weekend & Diplo (Hunger Games Soundtrack)
  2. I Ain’t Leavin’ Without Your Life by the Nashville Cast
  3. A Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay
  4. Three More Days by Ray LaMontagne (Life as We Know it Soundtrack)
  5. Give Me Faith by Elevation Worship

Question 6: What’s your favorite Etsy shop that isn’t yours?
I actually don’t have one. I haven’t really jumped on the Etsy train completely; but I hope to in the future. I want to exercise my crafting nature and sell fun homemade holiday stuff like wreaths, ornaments, picture quotes, etc. One day…

Question 7: What’s your favorite way to spend your free time when you’re alone?
Does people watching count as being alone? Because it’s one of my favorite things to do when I’m out and about running errands alone.

But when I’m actually alone and not interacting with others I like to work on my yoga moves – ha! – OK, that’s not true.

Let’s see, I actually like to work on “clearing my head.” My mind is constantly on and though I do an array of other stuff when it’s just me, I really like to be alone with my thoughts so that I can journal or pray out loud to clear my head and balance anything that’s going on. This tends to happen simultaneously when I decide to re-arrange or re-organize something in my room or the house.

Other things that get my attention while I’m alone include: reading, writing (I’m alone right now and decided finally posting this blog was a good use of having some down time), Netflix or Hulu marathons, and the occasional random drive or walk to explore new places.

Question 8: What’s your favorite junk food?
Does coffee count as junk food, because it is seriously a treat for me. But for solid snacks, I was on a pretzel kick for a while – I mean my desk drawer was rarely without a bag at the office.

But now that I’m back in the land of Utz potato chips, I would say any junk food splurges I have are usually between that brand of chip and Oreos.

Question 9: Do you have a pet or pets? If so, what kind and what are their names?
Nope. I’m not really a pet person right now in life. BUT if I could have a BIG dog, I would consider becoming a pet person. Or even better, if someone could figure out a way for me to have a horse of my very own and still live in the city, that would be great!

Pictures of my two beloved Darcys.  Fun fact: these images are actually from a movie date my friend Kim and I had last year. We couldn't be at the same house to watch together, so we watched our versions of Pride  Prejudice and talked/text comments and pics while we were watching. It was a good movie date.

Pictures of my two beloved Darcys.
Fun fact: these images are actually from a movie date my friend Kim and I had last year. We couldn’t be at the same house to watch together, so we watched our versions of Pride Prejudice and talked/text comments and pics while we were watching. It was a good movie date.

Question 10: What are your number one favorite nonfiction and fiction books?
Number 1? I don’t know if I would say these are my forever number one choices, but they definitely hold a special place in my heart and I could re-read these books ever year :).

Fiction – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin
Nonfiction – Galatians for You by Tim Keller

Question 11: What’s your favorite beauty product?
They’re Real! Mascara by Benefit – the tester size works better than the full tube, in my opinion.

Benefit and Two-Faced are actually my favorite overall for make-up products and Glo Therapeutics are my go to for face care. The Glo line is the best thing I’ve ever used for my face and I’ve used MANY products (thanks to my good friend Emily for introducing me to this line)!

Question 12: When were you last embarrassed? What happened?
This won’t be a surprise to those who know me, but I don’t get embarrassed that often and if I am feeling embarrassed it might not be that evident. So I can’t remember a time recently when I was embarrassed; maybe when I got turned around coming home from the grocery store and it took way longer than it should have because I overestimated my knowledge of the DC grid system.

On the other hand, I could tell you of several times recently when I was embarrassed for someone else… Let’s just say that people are VERY affectionate in public places sometimes and it’s a bit ridiculous.

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Notice that fierce coffee glare in those eyes (oh and the vampire-like look). The struggle is real people. It is real.

Question 13: If you could only drink one beverage (besides water) for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Coffee, without a doubt.

Question 14: What’s your favorite movie?
I like variety in life, so this “just one” thing is difficult for me in this post. My favorite movie has been Dirty Dancing since I can remember, but The Italian Job is a very close second (the one with Mark Wahlberg in it).

Question 15: What were you in high school: prom queen, nerd, cheerleader, jock, valedictorian, band geek, loner, artist, prep?
Does none of the above count? I wouldn’t classify myself as any of the above titles. I was a dancer and I loved it. I was super involved in my church’s youth group and I loved that too.

I definitely did not run with the popular crowd or dress the part of the girls who did, but I also wasn’t completely disconnected or disliked that people bullied me or didn’t know who I was. I think I was probably somewhere in between; I’ve been a rather social person since I can remember, and that wasn’t any different in my school days (maybe someone from high school will read this post and verify if my perception was correct, or correct me by saying that I was a total nerd and unpopular person in their eyes 🙂 ).

Question 16: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you live?
USA: Boston
Outside of USA: Germany or Ireland

Question 17: PC or Mac?
For Work: PC; mostly.
Personal and Work Testing: Mac

Question 18: Last romantic gesture from a crush, date, boy/girlfriend, spouse?
If someone has a crush on me they better come out with it and make this grand romantic gesture already – in other words nothing eventful has happened in this area that’s worth mentioning ;).

Question 19: Favorite celebrity?
Female: Sandra Bullock – she seems super fun to hangout with and she looks great for her age!
Male: Robert Downey Jr. – this guy is hilarious and extremely talented!

Question 20: What blogger do you secretly want be best friends with?
Katie Farrell from Dashing Dish –  she just seems so sweet and fun to be around. I love how her faith is clearly the driving force behind her health habits. Her blog inspired me years ago and I haven’t forgotten that. 

In addition to my dream blogger BFF above, I’m tagging the following people to do this ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag by answering these same questions in a blog post – I’ve never communicate with some of these bloggers, so we’ll see how this goes:

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Us in Germany back in 2005 (this is also further proof of my shortness power).

1. Marla from MIPRIP: Finding Joy – She is one of my closest friends from college – We’ve known one another for about 10 years and have remained good friends even with living in different time zones, states and countries during that time – I love her so much. Her blog is full of valuable resources, encouragement for women and insight about real life experiences.

2. Michelle from The Lucky Penny Blog – Let me start out by saying, this woman can cook! I had the privilege of being on the same team with her at work for a little over a year and I love this lady. I am still honored to work for the same company and collaborate with her from time to time. Her blog is full of fun, healthy and easy to make recipes – several of which I tried first hand from her kitchen last year!

3. Ann Voskamp from A Holy Experience Blog – She may never see this, but that’s ok. Ann is an author of a great book called “One Thousand Gifts” and she has this great blog. I really enjoy her unique writing style and truly appreciate the wisdom she shares in her posts. I also had the opportunity to hear her speak at the Women of Faith conference last year in Anaheim, CA. It was awesome.

4. Jillian from Refashionista – She’s another one who probably won’t ever see this, but I would love to meet her one day. She is spunky and creative and FUN! I really support her cause and why she started her blog in the first place – to not be wasteful, but to take old clothing and make it new. I like that message and she is quite witty with her posts as she shows you what she’s reinvented. I’m hoping to make a “refash” of my own soon.

5. Ashley from Southern (California) Belle – Let’s start with this: we have a mutual love for ModCloth.com and she has pink hair. That could be “enough said,” but I’ll share a little more about her. She is married to one of my co-workers, so we’ve met like once or twice at company parties, but I don’t really know her personally. But I think she seems like such a fun person to be friends with – plus she has great style and I secretly wish I could be as fashionable as she is.

* This blog post is a part of the ’20 Things You Might Not Know About Me’ Blog Tag started by April from Blacksburg Belle. She began this blog tag experiment to build community among creatives, help us bloggers to connect more and get to know each other better. This month’s topic is all about sharing just a little too much information about yourself. If you’d like to participate or want more info, check out the beginning post right here. 

Unintentional Post About My Feelings

In three weeks life as I know it is going to drastically change. I don’t think that fact has actually hit me since the Lord made it clear that I should move – well not quite like it has this weekend.

There’s just something about packing up everything you own (deciding what to keep and what to give away) that makes one nostalgic and realize the magnitude of what’s about to happen.

Up to this point I haven’t expressed too many emotions about moving and actually have felt very neutral about it. Some of my friends and I have joked about my being an emotionless person because my typical answer to “how are you doing with the move?” has been unemotional and task oriented. That doesn’t mean I’m not excited for the new journey ahead, or that I’m not sad to no longer see people I love here as often as I do now. But today I had a moment where my neutral territory was invaded on both sides and the reality of emotions collided with one another.

I’m sure it was a combination of things that provoked my afternoon meeting with emotions. There was the encouraging comments made by one of my pastors to the church body about our move and how much Emilie and I need prayer and support during this time – thanks, Doug! Then there was the kind and very unexpected financial gesture from our church’s welcome team to me personally. Not to mention the inspiring conversation I had with a friend after church about praying through the possibilities in life and bringing all of my dreams before the Lord so that He directs the clear path and fills it with the ideas and desires that He has for me during this transition and beyond.

To top it all off, Emilie and I had an awesome Skype date with our new roommate Mandi this afternoon. She’s been doing the leg work for all of us in DC and visiting potential houses in preparation for our July relocation. It felt like the beginning of some great times in our new home (as we were all together on that call) and I ended the call with a huge smile on my face, excited for what the Lord has in store as we continue to search for the place He would have us live.

All of that brings me to this moment. I started this blog post with the intention of providing an update about our preparation and steps toward DC, and yet that’s not what has happened. As soon as I started typing I started crying and then started laughing – oh and then more crying ensued and the moment ended with laughter.

What’s hilarious to me is that it’s just God and I in this house right now. I’m sitting on my bed in Indian style with my computer on my lap, surrounded by the remnants of packing, and all of sudden tears are rolling down my face and then I’m laughing – out loud. I’m laughing right now as I type this because it’s such a testimony to how the Lord works in this complex heart of mine.

One moment I’m coasting along in neutral land and then BAM I’m swimming in a sea of tears, somehow not drowning because my laughter life jacket comes to the rescue.

Why did I cry? I allowed myself to consider what life will look like when I won’t see my SCV church family every Sunday, or when I won’t take a random trip to Disneyland with  my close girlfriends, or when I can’t hop in my car and drive 7 minutes on a Monday morning to see my beloved friends at the office, or what it will be like when I’m no longer living within driving distance of some of my closest and dearest friends. There is history in these last six years and thats what I shed tears for today.

But then I laughed remembering all of the great times I’ve had here and (if I’m being vulnerable) because I like to think of myself as not overly sentimental, yet my tears were overflowing with sentiment and appreciation for a time in life I’ll never forget. I laughed at how things have changed in my life in the last six years and how God has used His own sense of humor to bring me to this point of preparing to move to Washington DC to help plant a new church. Ah laughter is truly therapy to my soul.

So here they are, for anyone who wants to know, the answers to those common questions I’ve been getting more frequently as my move date draws near:

“Are you excited?”

Yes, of course I’m excited. I feel like the answer to this goes without saying, but I know I tend to be reserved in my verbal expression of excitement about things when asked, so here is a photo strip of my little sister and I to depict the varying levels of my excitement about moving:

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I’m MOST excited about a these things:

  1. Being in a city again – one with public transportation. I am BEYOND stoked about this fact.
  2. Meeting our new neighbors and the people the Lord will call me to intentionally invest in for His purposes.
  3. Building community with our new roomie, Mandi and our new church family at Redeemer City Church.
  4. Being closer to my family and friends from the surrounding areas of DC and close by states.

“Are you nervous?”

Not at all. I’m a little concerned about why I’m not nervous actually :). But it’s a peaceful time and I know that the things worth being nervous about will all work out. I’m not going to waste my packing energy on thinking too much about any nerves that may arise; if anything I’m curious and ready to explore! My answer to this nerves question can be summoned up with this collage:

IMG_4891 IMG_3893*I mean, do I look nervous? 😉

“How are you doing with everything?”

Honestly (because I’m never honest about my feelings)? I’m doing well. I know there are a TON of transitions coming up; it won’t be a change that happens without growing pains, but I’m so grateful to the Lord for truly providing peace beyond comprehension during this time. It would be easy to focus on the fact that we don’t know where we’re going to live yet or to dwell on how much I’m going to miss so many people here – but none of that is productive in my opinion. I’d much rather take advantage of and enjoy the moments I have left here without dwelling on what I can’t change.

On that note though, since I’m feeling sentimental this afternoon, I’ll leave you with just a few of faces I love here in Cali and will miss dearly, as I couldn’t possibly include all of them in this one entry:

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Thoughts About My New Position

Let’s start this by saying that I am an undeserving, yet spoiled woman – and God is so good. He has blessed me with this new exciting and challenging opportunity at work and I love it! It’s so wonderful to realize that He has specifically equipped me with a passion for certain things – interests that have and will continue to aid me in my new position.

f38679243d4eb55e135d5615b358ae62Needless to say, I’m enjoying getting into the grove of my new role at work and my initial reaction is this: YAY!

I’ve been really inspired in my new position and by my new team members. It’s humbling to be trusted with such a role and I’ve been learning so much in just my first two weeks! I thought I would share some quotes with you about how it’s going and how I’m feeling about my new career journey so far.

Enjoy!

“Passion will move men beyond themselves, beyond their shortcomings, beyond their failures. – Joseph Campbell, American Mythologist, Writer, and Lecturer

“Ideas come from everything. – Hitchcock

“It’s a beautiful thing when a career and passion come together. -Unknown

The Value of an Inconvenient Event

Car accidents are typically inconvenient and unexpected events. This was just the case for the one I was involved in a little over two weeks ago. Of course there were some immediate inconveniences:

  1. It was startling. OK, it was a bit scary and really not fun.
  2. It happened on the way to work that morning and I was already running late.
  3. My car was so damaged that I couldn’t drive; I had to have it towed.
  4. I was faced with the reality of the human condition when dealing with the others who were involved in the accident. Self-defense, preservation and blame-shifting sure do come out in these circumstances and consideration for the well being of others doesn’t seem to be important.

Then there were some aftermath inconveniences:

  1. I was without a car for two weeks. Apparently when 2011 Jenn signed up for car insurance she opted out of the rental car inclusion fees; post accident Jenn won’t make that mistake again!
  2. I had to rely on others to take me places; so my normal schedule was a bit abnormal and shaken up.
  3. Learning the hard way how insurance is actually a game that needs to be played by the “game makers” rules or you lose – it doesn’t seem to matter what the facts support; if you haven’t done it their way you seem to get the short end of the stick.
  4. The costs of the deductible and repairs. Cars can be expensive, which is a given. But when you’re preparing and saving money to move across the country (actually to drive cross country), the expenses of a car accident are not your first choice of financial obstacles to overcome.

But in all of this there were valuable lessons, cherished memories made and confirmed blessings.

You see, I really have such great friends and co-workers. I’d like to thank everyone who helped me during the last two weeks. From my awesome roomie driving me to work most mornings, to my dear friends letting me borrow their truck for a weekend, to my wonderful co-workers and thoughtful friends who dropped me off where I needed to be and even stopped by the office with much needed coffee reinforcements – THANK YOU!

Though I most certainly wouldn’t have chosen to be involved in a car accident, I see how the Lord is using it already. I praise Him for the fact that no one was hurt; because we very well could have been if things would have occurred just a few seconds later. The past two weeks have made it very evident that there is great value in this inconvenient occurrence in my life; if for no other reason than it has pointed me to Christ in ways that can’t be qualified with words. It’s provoked more prayer and a deeper trust in my relationship with God. It also provided opportunities for me to spend time with people in my life who rose to the occasion to bless me by helping me in this very practical way.

The very definition of an accident is that it’s an “an unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.” But in my experience this has been a blessing in disguise, even with the many inconveniences; both known and unknown at this time. I am happy to say that my accident, though unfortunate, has not resulted in devastating or irreversible damage or injury. On the contrary it has resulted in a greater appreciation for people I have in my life here in SoCal; people I love and will miss dearly when I move.

God is still good in the midst of stretching times and He will use cumbersome events in our lives to create opportunities to glorify Him and to see more of His faithfulness – doesn’t that make Him just the best ever

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Seize Every Opportunity to Share the Gospel: Especially the Unwanted & Unexpected

This sermon was timely, and in a way I didn’t expect it to be. I listened to it after some sudden and very unexpected events in life – both awesome and not so fun. To name a few of these life events:

  • Stretching family news – I currently live 3,000 miles away
  • Car accident – no car for two weeks
  • Exciting work related news – awards, acknowledgement and new developments
  • New prospects for housing in DC – two new roommates confirmed too
  • Unexpected expenses – car related and other

The point is that every blessing and every “curse” is an opportunity to be an example of Christ in my life. The Lord challenged me to consider the opportunities He has laid before me in so many areas in life right now and to really evaluate if I was taking advantage and “seizing” that opportunity to learn more about Him and to display Christ to those around me. I’ll confess that I failed many times to do so, but I also see how the Lord used just this past week to allow me to interact on levels with people I never would have had I not been in said car accidents, or known of said family news or even received said acknowledgement for a job well done.

I pray that I will see these opportunities when they come up; even in moments where I want nothing to do with them because of selfishness and pride. The most unlikely encounter could be the opportunity I’ve been praying for to act in obedience to sharing the Gospel truth – a truth full of kindness, love, justice, sacrifice, long-suffering, sanctification, providential redemption and grace.

Some of my favorite quotes from Matt Chandler in this sermon were:

“Obedience is always better than being unwilling to take risks.”

“Please do not buy into the lie that what you need to be in place for you to be effective at sharing the Gospel with others is a perfect life.”

“One of the brightest billboards of the sufficiency and grace of Christ is our weaknesses, not our strengths.”