John 8:36 - So if the Son makes you free, you will be truly free.

Galatians 5:1 - We have freedom now, because Christ made us free. So stand strong. Do not change and go back into the slavery of the law.

This is my journey.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Engagement Photos - Disney Princess Inspired!

 Engagement is an exciting time. Wedding planning, the fluttery butterflies of thinking "I'm getting married!", shooting engagement photos... Well, that last one we got done last Saturday and the photos were sent last night! ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

We had the great fortune to be working with Theresa of With Love Photography to make this possibly the cutest photoshoot ever done. ;) The outfits were made by myself, Joanna Marie. :D Anywho, here we are, dressed up as no prince/princess in particular, but inspired by Disney Princesses, and my dress inspired by Stella De Libero. ;)



Monday, April 14, 2014

The Beginning Of Happily Ever After

We met on OkCupid, and have been dating for about 7 1/2 months.

So. We'd been planning this date for a couple weeks now. He would say "it's just a date!" "It's just dinner! Not really that important", but he knew I knew anyways. So he rented a snazzy car and picked me up at about 11:30, looking like Mr. Summer (wearing khakis, a pale blue shirt and sunglasses... he never wears sunglasses!). 

We went to lunch, then he took me to the Phoenix Zoo, which was pretty awesome (and we've been talking about going for MONTHS), even though most of the cool animals were just laying around in the shade LOL... We walked around there for a couple hours, then went to see Muppets Most Wanted at the theater, which was soooo hilarious. After the movie, we went to his house to change into our fancay dinner clothes (I wore a black knee length dress with gold sequins on it, with my new sparkly heels and a super fab fake diamond necklace, and he wore some black pinstripe pants and a dark grey shirt and tie) 

And went to dinner at a suuuuuuuuuper nice steakhouse. (I'm using stock photos from google images, because we failed to take ANY pictures. Except the selfie above.)

So after dinner, he was like "I wanna walk off this food" (which we do a lot), so he drove us to this bridge that stretches out over a lake in the city. It was dark out, so the lights were all gleaming, and not too many cars were driving by. I knew it was coming soon, but I wasn't sure exactly when.

We went up to one of these little "cubbies" that have a small bench inside (that you can kind of see in this photo), and we peeked out the little windows and chatted for a few, then he checked to make sure no cars were coming across the bridge, and said "Joanna. I have a question to ask you."

I was all "Yessssss???" And he went into sort of a speech about love and fifty years and all that, then he got down on one knee and put a ring on it. 

And then after a hug and a kiss, he stepped out on the sidewalk and screamed "YEESSSSSSSS!!!!" 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Big Changes – A Move, An Internship, A New Life (ish)

Every day, it seems, I have to mentally pinch myself and remember that in 6 weeks, I will be moved to Phoenix, AZ and off on a completely new stage of my life. Away from my family, away from all of my childhood friends, away from life as I have known it up till now.

Moving away to help start a new church, Compel Church. Moving away to not only have more job and art opportunities, but to learn how to stretch myself and extend a hand of love to everyone I meet. I have never been good at easily connecting with people... I have never had a compelling reason to learn. I can be quite lazy at times. Here, I will not have the opportunity to be lazy, I will not be allowed laziness.  

This is about personal growth, and about touching hearts and lives.

Compel Church from Compel Church on Vimeo.

What is this internship to me?

The opportunity to mature as a person. The chance to, in a sense, grow up. I will be far from my family and friends, having to bond with a new family and friend group.  

The opportunity to build a church from the ground up, to put ministerial skills into practice. I am already working on getting certified as a minister, and getting licensed next year will be part of this program.

The opportunity to learn how to truly love others, especially those who may first be thought to be "unlovable." I will need to reach outside of myself and create friendships. I will need to learn how to strike up friendships rather than just making bad small talk.  

This is God's call on my life. 

 I am going to answer.

If you would like to join with me on this journey, you can Donate directly through Paypal. Thank you for reading!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

The Utopia Principle

I seem to be coming across this idea, this mindset, and it has been causing me to think and ponder. It is this thought that there is some sort of utopian circumstance, in which you live exactly as God intended and spelled out in the Bible, but that there are exceptions made to certain commands if one does not live within that utopian circumstance.

For example, all women should be stay at home mothers/homemaker – unless their life circumstance requires them to work outside the home, such as in the case of their husband leaving them, or dying, or being physically unable to work at all.

Or that a woman can NEVER teach a man... unless there are no men willing/worthy to do the teaching, THEN a woman can take up the duty. (The reason for this is cited as the story of the Israelite Judge, Deborah (Judges 4-5), though upon reading the passage, there is not even a hint of such an idea. I'd think it would be important enough to mention “there were no worthy men, so a woman was made judge.”) Much as we may want to, we can make no such inference into the text, the idea is simply not there.

The truth is... There is no 'utopia principle' of Christian life. The Bible never hints, much less states, that Christians should act one way in a certain situation, and a completely different way in a different situation. Where does it say a wife is to submit “except in sin”? And if the submission teaching is quite solid, and implies a wife ought to sin on behalf of her husband, then perhaps we ought to reexamine our interpretation of those verses.

The idea that Christians should act one way in a utopian situation and a different way in a third world/persecution situation or a “less than desirable” situation is completely false. Are we to be peaceful only when our “utopian” situation allows for it? Are women only allowed to lead men if they are within a less-than desirable situation? And if it is permissible for Deborah, why is it not permissible for me?

If our dogmatic ideas about a select few verses does not hold up against the rest of the Bible, or if there are certain “exceptions” made to them in the Bible, should we not examine those verses to make sure we are understanding them correctly?

“Thou shalt follow all of these rules... when in a utopian ideal situation, otherwise you'll have to ad lib.”

If it doesn't make sense for the commands to pray, love, witness, be truthful, faithfulness, and the myriad of other Biblical commands to be on a “utopia principle” basis, how can it make sense in the case of women teaching, working outside the home, never cutting their hair, men never growing their hair long, the man always being the breadwinner, etc?

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Kind Of Woman...

Do you want a woman with a mind, with wisdom and the power to reason? Or do you want a woman who will simply agree with whatever you say?

Do you want a woman of strength, a powerful person? Or do you want a woman who will bend to your every whim, regardless of whether she feels it is wrong or not?

Do you want a woman who will challenge you, who will keep you accountable as you keep her? Or do you want a woman who will never call you out and will simply allow you to continue down a wrong path?

Do you want a woman who will come alongside you, work with you, and carry you when you need it? Or do you want a woman who needs you to always be her strength, because she has none herself?

Do you want a woman who reads and studies the Bible herself in order to be a workman who is not ashamed and rightly divides the Word of truth? Or do you want a woman who simply stands with your interpretation because she doesn't have any need or desire to study herself?

Do you want a woman who will fight for you, emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually? Or do you want a woman who cannot fight because she is leaning on you for all her strength?

Do you want a woman who cultivates her mind and intelligence? Or do you want a woman who has no desire for further education because she won't need it?

Do you want a woman who can engage you in deep and riveting debates and conversations? Or do you want a woman who cannot disagree or debate with you because she puts aside her own thoughts in order to agree with you in everything?

You said you wanted a woman like me. You said you loved my spirit, my strength, my power, my passion. And yet... you wanted to remove those same things from me in the name of 'biblical gender roles.' The woman you imagine you want to marry is not the same sort of woman you fell in love with, and in fact you will never meet such a woman; one who could magically meld together two completely opposing personalities.

What you loved about me is directly opposed to what you believe is the ideal 'biblical' woman. Don't you know that if I'd become that woman, I would have had to change all the reasons you were interested in me in the first place?

So, then, what kind of a woman do you really want?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Once Upon A Summer...

We disagreed.

We knew that from day 4. Yet, something kept us from giving up, something compelled us to at least try... try to change each other's mind.

I didn't post only for you, though, I didn't share my mind and beliefs so openly simply for your benefit. I was sharing long before that, and will continue sharing long after you are merely a distant memory of a past friendship.

You drove me, you pushed me to really THINK about what I believed, to really research and solidify the WHY. You debated with me, giving me a reason to work out what I really thought through speech and writing.

We never managed to change each other's mind. I know, for my part, I only became more firm in my stance, more solid in my beliefs, seeing more truth in them than ever before.

To the man I loved: Thank you, for making me stronger. Thank you for being the vehicle that really drove me to examining and reassessing my stance. Thank you for loving me back.

Once upon a summer.

Friday, March 15, 2013

To Truly Love

'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' The second is this: 'Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31

So often, we are so focused on not condoning (or appearing to condone) sin, that we've lost the real message of Jesus. A message of reaching out and loving others. A message of hope and peace to the broken and lost.

Even Jesus himself was accused of being a sinner, a glutton, a drunkard, and many other things simply because of the fact that he kept company with “that sort of person”. Many were horrified that he let a prostitute wash his feet.

Jesus was not worried about false labels, he was concerned with reaching the hearts of those around Him, and touching their lives with His love and salvation. It seems we as Christians are so afraid of being labeled wrongly, that we go out of our way not to associate with the very people we are called to reach out to. Or we strive to explain our interactions with them so much that they end up not wanting anything to do with US.

“Love your neighbor as yourself.” When Jesus was asked “who is my neighbor?” he told the story of what we call the Good Samaritan. The ending moral being, our neighbor is not only the person we live next to in our physical house, or the people we go to church with, or the nice cashier we like to chat with. Our neighbor is every person we come in contact with, even if they are an enemy. It would have been acceptable for the Samaritan to leave the man where he laid in the dirt, for the cultural divide was fierce. Instead, he chose to show love for his “neighbor,” in the same way he would care for his family or his own self.

[Jesus asked] “So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?”
And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.”
Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise.” Luke 10:36-37

It is not our job to be the condemnation of God to those around us, but rather to have mercy on them. Certainly, do not change the gospel, but even Jesus did not come into the world to condemn it, but to bring salvation. How can anyone believe in the love of God if they aren't seeing it in me, who claims to be His child?

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly. All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.” Luke 19:1-7

Imagine if Jesus had said, “Zacchaeus, come down from there, I am going to your house. But first I want you to know that I absolutely am against the terrible way you have been stealing from everyone and the wicked way you've been living.”

Stating such a thing would have started off on an antagonistic foot, and probably would have angered Zacchaeus. Jesus never would have even reached the point of being able to touch Zacchaeus' heart. But he made no such declaration. Surely making some such statement would have appeased the minds of those so concerned about his being “the guest of a sinner,” but Jesus did not seem the slightest bit worried about such accusations.

Jesus told [the Samaritan woman], “Go, call your husband and come back.”

I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” John 4:16-20

Again, imagine if Jesus had condemned her for her sins. Rather than stating even his opinion on her life, he simply told the truth of what she'd done. Condemnation toward her would only have turned her away, just as it now turns people away.

Certainly, there is a time and a place for taking a hard line against sinful behavior, but too often, we heap condemnation on others for the benefit of our reputation and call it “telling the truth in love.”

How can I reach out to the lost around me if I am too afraid of being labeled “one of them”? How can I love others if I have to explain every interaction with drawing a line against their life decisions?

How can I show Christ to a dying world when I am petrified at the opinions of my fellow Christians?