make every effort

“His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge…”

‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭1:3-5‬ ‭ESV‬

Make every effort to add to your faith…virtue.

Virtue. Synonymous with goodness, righteousness; and defined by behavior showing high moral standards.

Do we do that? Do we make every effort to be righteous? Once we have faith, do we immediately strive to display behavior of high moral standards? Or do we try to first learn as much as we can?

I believe Saint Peter ordered these holy nouns intentionally. First virtue, then knowledge; not the other way around. Be kind – then, find out more information.

I worry we excuse our sin under the guise of a lack of knowledge. “I didn’t know better.” Or, “I don’t know how to change.” As believers, we must know one thing and one thing only: Christ crucified.

Through the knowledge of Him and His divine power, knowledge that comes by faith, he has granted us His great and precious promises. Promises of His faithfulness. His provision. His guidance. His holiness. His sovereignty. His life in us.

And through His life in us manifested in the glorious presence of the Holy Ghost, our guarantor of Heaven, we are able to escape the corruption of the world. We can escape the opposite of virtue: Sin. Selfishness. Pride. Prejudice. Hate.

We can do it, through Him!

Now, knowing that you can do it, make every effort to add to your faith virtue.

we are family

When you were younger, did you ever attend Vacation Bible School?

We church kids know all about VBS, or Church camp. Church camp occurred one week during the summer from Monday through Friday. Each year’s events surrounded a different theme, i.e. under the sea, outer space, polar blast, or something like that; the theme explicitly explained by a rather large rectangular lacquer poster proudly staked in the church lawn, in direct view of every driver pulling into the parking lot.

Each weekday consisted of a slam-packed schedule of singing sing-songy Jesus songs, creating Bible-themed crafts, running around outside in July heat, eating, smiling, sweating. Repeat. Then, once you’re in high school, you transition from a camper to a volunteer. (That is, if you hadn’t rebelled into a pot-smoking, fire-breathing freshman by then.)

Ah, nothin’ like a nice hot slice of nostalgia for the Veggie Tales prodigies!

As I am now in my post-pigpen prodigal daughter days, daily eatin’ good at Abba’s house, I have come to understand Church camp not as a week-long lawn party strewn with dehydrated delinquents, pro-GMO snacks and oversized, multi-colored water balloons, but as the ever-present differentiation of passions and personalities that can either make or break us.

“What camp are you in?”

So-called followers of Jesus ask this question with alarming regularity about everything from hymns to homosexuality, cessasionists to separatists and sermons with too many stories.

I am not arguing that everyone must see the same way. In fact, the Church forms camps all the time, naturally, because we’re all so very different. And that’s a good thing – if we humble ourselves to both teach our sister and learn from her. 

But so very often, instead of lending our differences as living thread to weave unity into the tapestry of His bride, we let our differences divide. Human nature leads like-minded people towards one another and erects walls, barring the unknown. We do not learn from another, but instead we lean on our own misunderstanding.

Thus, a silent polemic of our misunderstood brother brews within our hearts. And we’ve lost sight of love.

Never forget: Human nature alone cannot please God.

Lately, the Lord has formed a friendship between me and a young woman who is so very different from me. She’s an introvert, I’m an extrovert. She’s a thinker, I’m a feeler. She’s reformed, I’m charismatic. We’re different, and that’s a good thing.

We need each other.

Why do we need each other? Well, the feeler feels and the thinker thinks.

Jesus said to love the Lord your God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind; and she helps me do that. The super spiritual people need the super scriptural; and vice versa. In tandem, the two can make something beautiful.

Please, family.

Let’s be family.

let the lover of Your name be loud!


Let the lovers of your name be loud,

Let the lovers of your name be loud.

Let the lovers of your name seek your face,

Trusting that you draw as we lift you up,


For no other name can save!

Yet no other name,

is so used in vain.

Forgive them, Father

Forgive those who speak with disdain

The precious name of Jesus.

And Forgive us, Father,

For so often

do we let voices of hate

drown out the songs of your beloved.

Forgive us, Father,

for we have been too quiet.

Let the lovers of your name





secret battles of the heart

Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being,
and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart.

Psalm 51:6


Recently, the Lord gave me a very powerful dream.

In the dream, I slept. And as I slept, I fought. With eyes closed, I saw things that made me want to sin. But I fought through the temptation. I fought in my sleep. And in the dream, when I awoke, my teeth had fallen out.

I went on a quest to find new teeth.

I was embarrassed and I couldn’t stop crying, but I went to my mother first; she’s a dental hygienist. She tried to remain calm but she could not mask her palpable worry. I too was worried, but I was proactive. I made arrangements with her and her coworkers to get new teeth the next day.

I then left her office to walk “home”, only the way home involved somehow walking along a highway; casually stepping over hundreds of limp human bodies strewn along highway exits and lanes. Some were alive; some were not.

I arrive home. I sleep. I wake up…and I have new teeth.

What does it mean?

After researching the scriptural symbolism of teeth and chewing, my spirit’s consensus has been this: I will fight battles in my sleep by chewing on the word of God.

It’s not a natural battle. It’s an intensely other-worldly war of waters, words, and worship occurring in the depths of my heart. But though it’s in me, I do not fight. I surrender; and the Word fights for me.

My sin is darker than most. The sin in the depth of my heart is the sin that cannot be shared in small groups. I’ve done some very, very bad things. And I cannot afford to entertain even a sliver of darkness; for to crack open the door of darkness is to let it all in.

But in view of God’s mercy, I have been given the grace to render myself a living sacrifice. I allow his death to reign in me so that His life can reign in me, too. And His life is light. His light shines in my darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

But because of the depth of my darkness, I know the depths of His power.

Fighting my battles requires truth in my inward being; and He is the truth. His word dwells within me; He fights within me. And He even lets me see how He fights. He fights in front of me, leaving me with wisdom for next time. Because even if I fail, even if I forfeit His victory and let the darkness in, He is kind enough to leave me with His wisdom and grace for the next battle we will face. He reminds me that He is who I want. He reminds me that without Him, I have nothing. He unites my heart to fear His name.

And by His grace, that secret place get purer and purer every night.

What about all those helpless highway bodies?

Those are the victims of this very battle I fight. I fight for me, but I also fight for them.

I will not allow the enemy to leave me laying in the street. I will meditate on the word of God day and night. I will be blessed; and everything I do will prosper.

How about you? How do you fight your battles?



rhythms of grace

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

     Ephesians 3:14-19

Some say there are four seasons in a year. But our spiritual calendar springs and falls on its own clock.

Work, music, art, Church, home, heart. A season for everything; for He makes everything beautiful in its time.

On Thursday evening, after work, on my way to Victory World Church, I rounded the corner of the long winding Buford Highway exit, remembering a time when my view was reversed, and this exit was an on-ramp on my way home from my third job in Georgia. That was a challenging job. An underpaid position, an under-heated office, an ungrateful boss. A long commute. And yet, I did it for 7 months.

I sigh and I laugh. God, thank you for seeing me through that season. The grace you gave me in that place, in that season. What grace.

As I lean back in my driver’s seat, one hand on the wheel, the other hand popping Trader Joe’s Gingermints in my mouth, I think back on the plethora of positions I’ve held over the course of my life.

I smile as I remember the six months of selling succulents and centerpieces at a high-end family-owned florist in Greenwich, CT. God gave me grace in that season, too. The grace to stand on my feet for 8 hours, five (sometimes six) days a week; the grace to carry heavy boxes up and down two flights of stairs multiple times a shift. The grace to reveal through the physical labor a pre-existing tear in my tailbone, and the grace to stand the pain through Thanksgiving, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and, the busiest of all, Mother’s Day. (Side note, the Lord healed me from that ailment during a Sunday evening service at International House of Prayer shortly after moving to Atlanta. He still heals, y’all.)

Throughout every season, God has taught me this: If He confirms your position, He will give you all you need to walk in a manner worthy of what He’s called you to do. He will give you specific, personalized, supernatural grace for that particular assignment. The purpose of this grace is two-fold: that you may grow in the knowledge and power of His love, and that He may be glorified.

This grace will come in many forms. It may present itself through other people’s personalities and meaningful conversations.

I remember a day at the florist when grace came through a conversation with young female customer and her mother. Earlier that month, my friend and womentor Katie Nelson had given me a necklace with a copper coin attached to a chain; the word “Rooted” hammered across the coin’s radius. That was my season, a season of allowing the Lord to root my identity in His love. I never took it off.

One Saturday afternoon, as I stood behind the counter manually typing each item’s price into the PC’s Point of Sales system, the young woman complimented my custom jewelry.

“I like your necklace,” she said shyly.

“Thank you!” I responded cheerfully, now hand-wrapping their hand-picked flower arrangement. “My friend Katie gave it to me. It’s in reference to a Bible verse in Ephesians about being rooted in the love of Christ.”

She smiled. “I love Jesus, too.”

And there was grace.

There, in that moment, was the grace to encourage her to continue courageously living her high school years, not for the approval of her friends, but for the delight and love of Christ. There was the grace for the conversation to occur in front of my unbelieving coworker, to allow her to see the power of God and the the miracle of the Church. There was the grace to witness His glory displayed in a high-end flower shop.

Back to Atlanta.

As I make the last left turn on my route to church, I pray out-loud in the car to my Father in Heaven, confident that He’s heard me and that He will answer.

“God, what are you giving me grace for in this season?”

I pull into the church parking lot, grab my purse, and open the door. I walk into Victory World Church, chat with Robert, make myself a hot mocha, and take my seat inside the the main room.

At that moment, God spoke.

Healing. I’m giving you grace for complete freedom and healing.

And so, I beseech you: what is God giving you grace for in this season?

Ask Him; and He will speak.


repeat after me: i am dust

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.
For he knows our frame;
he remembers that we are dust.

  Psalm 103: 8-14

I had a bad weekend.

I sinned against God; and I sinned against myself. I confessed my sin to God after I did it the first time, and He forgave me. But I didn’t forgive myself, so I did it again.

Why didn’t I forgive myself? Shame?

Most people will say, “I’m so ashamed; I cannot forgive myself,” and then equate the refusal to forgive one’s self as a textbook symptom of shame.

Is that shame? Maybe for some. But not for me.

The Lord is very gently showing me that my refusal to forgive myself is due to…


I think I am better than I am.

I study my reflection often. Normally, I like what I see. But when I stumble, I throw a pebble in soul waters, disturbing perceived perfection, probing the ripples of my self-conscious to rehearse their regrets.

No, Gina. You know better.

I’ve disappointed myself. I placate myself in the prison of my past; while simultaneously maintaining my present reality in the prison of pride. I go nowhere. I keep sinning; I keep punishing myself.

Even though Jesus already bore the punishment for all my sin.

Why does God forgive us? Why doesn’t God give us what we deserve? Because as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him.

And, because, “He remembers that we are dust.”

In His light, my reflection suddenly sharpens.


At any point today, did you forget that you are dust?

Do you think you’re more capable than you actually are? Maybe that’s why you struggle to forgive yourself.

God forgives you.

Who are you to withhold forgiveness from anyone…including yourself?

lay it down

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”

           Matthew 16:24-26

Good sermons inspire me. Good sermons have, and will continue, to inspire my songwriting. My song “8:28” is really just one of Pastor Nathan’s sermons put into song. And my song “Reality” owes its credit to YouTube’s favorite pastor, Pastor Steven Furtick.

But the revelation from this text in Matthew Chapter 16 happened in my home turf. On the last day of 2017, Pastor E preached a sermon on Jesus’ words that challenged my life’s trajectory. His specially chosen words and illustrations mingled with divine conviction and creativity to birth a song in my spirit. The song is called Profit; and it will be the first song on my newest EP.

While I recommend you listen to my song, I also recommend you listen to the sermon that inspired it. (It can be found here.) Pastor E provided a powerful expository on the meaning of “take up your cross”. While Jesus never intended his followers to interpret cross-bearing as a pleasant proposition, He did clearly define the alternative as eternally unfavorable.

In sum? We are all going to die anyway. Why try to save your life? Instead, submit to your Creator; do it His way. By grasping for your own happiness, truth, and satisfaction, you will only lose your soul. Surrendering our selfish ways, picking up our cross, and following Jesus is the only way to make our lives truly count.

I want to take some time and expound upon those three steps Jesus listed. How do we:

  1. Deny ourselves,
  2. Take up our crosses,
  3. And Follow Jesus?

Let’s break them down together, shall we?

First, we must deny ourselves. Does that mean deny our own existence? No, not quite – but almost. It means that in order to successfully follow Jesus, I am first to deny the voices in my head that tell me who I am, and what to do.

Let me ask you a question: do your actions dictate the voice that defines you? Or do the words by which you define yourself then dictate your actions?

In other words, which comes first: Do you first tell yourself you’re lazy, then spend the whole night watching Netflix? Or do you let the hours fly away watching Netflix, and then, either in consolation or condemnation, you confirm to yourself that you’re lazy?

There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. Throughout the day, depending on external circumstances and internal conflicts, the answer will change. In examining my past and present, I see both. In one scene, my most shameful actions set the stage for the internal script to be written. In the other, I first write the script, then play the part.

Both must be denied. Both systems of thought and behavior present a direct opposition to following Christ.

I beg you: deny the voice that says, “You’re worthless”; whether it comes before or after you sin. Deny also the voice that says, “You’re worth your own happiness.” Deny yourself your own desires. Pick up your Bible and begin to speak the word of God over yourself instead; and allow God to give you His desires.

There’s a reason why Jesus tells us first to deny ourselves, then to take up our crosses. This order is crucial; for we cannot accurately determine what our cross is until we first deny ourselves. If we continue to submit to selfishness, we’ll become blinded by our own sin; and we’ll pick up the wrong cross. We’ll pick up the cross of pride, abuse, or shame. Jesus bore that cross already – no need to pick it up again.

But when we cease saying inwardly, “You’re worthless” or “You deserve to be happy” and instead say, “You’re worth Jesus dying for,” something shifts. The scrambled understanding of our identity begins to accurately align with the word of God. We now start to see bearing our cross, not as a punishment, but as an assignment from God. Bearing this cross – daily – is a necessary component to following Jesus.

What is your cross? Your cross is…you.

Think about your own life. Your own sinful tendencies. Your own wounds. Your own humanity. Jesus is calling us to die to that humanity every day by bearing it on a cross.

Jesus is not calling us to wear our wounds as a chain on our necks. Jesus is calling us to die to ourselves by confessing our weaknesses and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the ways in which these weaknesses have kept us from righteous living. Following Jesus requires a daily determination to lay our lives down; and to disassociate ourselves from our sin. We are not our sin. We are children of God, purchased by the blood of Jesus.

Okay. So once we’ve denied ourselves and died to ourselves, what’s left?

Follow Jesus.

Remember the old saying, “Do as I say, not as I do.”? Thankfully, that statement doesn’t apply to Jesus. Our God is consistent, immutable. He is who He is, was, and always will be:

Faithful. Holy. Righteous. Just. Humble. Pure. Generous. Compassionate. Worthy.

Worthy of abandoning all else to follow Him with your whole life.

But He won’t abandon you to do it alone – He’ll show you the way! He isn’t calling us to do anything that He didn’t do first.

Jesus denied himself. He beautifully did not count equality with God to be grasped; and willingly emptied himself of all power and authority. Jesus was human, just like you and me. We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses – he was tempted in every way – yet, He did not sin. Though He did not sin, He became sin – thus baring the heaviest cross of all – the sin of the world. And through it all, Jesus paved the way for us to follow. For though the sin of Adam caused death to rule over many, even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness; for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through the life and power of Jesus Christ.

Oh, He is worthy! Follow Him with your whole life. Let Him show you how.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30

but He gives more grace

Grace for the days when I don’t know what to say,

Grace for the phase that won’t go away.

Grace in the stillness,

Grace in the noise.

Grace reminds me who He is when I forget his name.


His Grace; the peace in my mind, so thick, so heavy,

I can’t keep my eyes open.

I don’t fight it,

I receive it.

He lets me rest.

And now, I’m wide awake.



there’s rock under your soil

 Other seeds fell on shallow soil with underlying rock. The seeds sprouted quickly because the soil was shallow. But the plants soon wilted under the hot sun, and since they didn’t have deep roots, they died…As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.

Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21

The parable of the seeds is the parable of all parables. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Jesus used the parable of the seeds to warn us to pay attention to how we listen. This parable, like all of Jesus’ teachings, (ahem, like the whole Bible), contains deep spiritual truths that can only come through meditation over time. The seed personifies the truth; and the soil is our hearts.

Jesus spoke in parable for a specific reason: to hide His wisdom from the wisest of the world. Parables are heavenly code; only His Spirit can discern their meaning. They are more than mere words or visuals. Parables, like anything worth pursuing, are not seen in all their glory immediately. To be known in full, they require a passionate pursuit of the Holy Spirit’s perspective. We can’t understand them in our own understanding – the disciples sure didn’t.

Here are three lessons gleaned from just a bit of meditation on the meaning of the shallow soil:

1. Pay attention to how you listen.

If you read the Bible:

• for your own self interest (to get something from God),

• in a hurry, just to check your “quiet time” off your list,

• or, with the mindset that you’ve already got that good good soil…

I deplore you: read the passage again. There’s a rock under you.

2. If you don’t see evidence of God’s work right away, that’s a good thing.

When, two months after you started going back to church after your 10-year rebellion from the Lord, you suddenly find yourself falling in love (lust) with some guy, and you argue with your friends and family that the Lord told you that he’s your guy, but you hadn’t talked to the Lord in 10 years until two months ago….read the passage again.

In the Kingdom, good things take time. The Word needs time to root itself in the depths of who you are. The Word needs to change your desires. If, shortly after recommitting yourself to Christ, your worldly wishes start coming true, Christ is not the one giving them to you. 

3. If you’ve been faithfully waiting on the Lord, REJOICE!

If you’ve been celibate for 4, 5, 6 years and the Lord has still kept you single – rejoice.

If you’ve been praying for your son’s salvation for 4, 5, 6 years and his eyes are still blinded – rejoice.

God will not answer give you what you want unless it’s what He wants when He wants it. And typically, it won’t happen right away. Because if it does, the sun will scorch it.

Time. Jesus values time. In this example, Jesus essentially teaches us that, if your spiritual growth is actually taking time…that’s a good thing.

Ezekiel 33:33-36 is one of my favorite little passages in the Bible. It goes a little something like this:

“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: On the day I cleanse you from all your sins, I will resettle your towns, and the ruins will be rebuilt. The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, “This land that was laid waste has become like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited.” Then the nations around you that remain will know that I the Lord have rebuilt what was destroyed and have replanted what was desolate. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it.’”

If you let Him, God will orchestrate your story in a way that will bring Him the most glory. He’ll deliver you and restore you in His timing.

And it will bear fruit a hundred-fold – fruit that will last.



you’re giving us new memories

“I’m going out to fish,” Simon Peter told them, and they said, “We’ll go with you.” So they went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

 Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.

 He called out to them, “Friends, haven’t you any fish?”

“No,” they answered.

He said, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat and you will find some.” When they did, they were unable to haul the net in because of the large number of fish.

    John 21:3-6

What does repentance mean to you? Does it mean forgetfulness? How about failure?

As a young woman struggling with unspeakable sins while raised within the walls of a sanctuary, repentance was not my friend. Repentance represented regret, guilt, and impossibility. The concept made me nervous; and its purpose was lost on me. God already knows the dirty deeds I’ve done before I tell him. What’s the point of telling him again?

In my first few attempts at repentance, my heart was hopeful; my soul fully convinced that that was truly my last time committing that sin.


it wasn’t.

Then, after eight, nine, ten confessions of my sin that I can’t seem to shake, I lost hope. I’ll never change. What’s the point?

Thankfully, I no longer feel that way. I’ve grown to see repentance for what is truly is: a gift from God, bursting with the blessing of His presence; transformation made possible in the light of His love.

What caused the shift, you ask? Well, growing up, I was taught that repentance is a “changed mind”. But I wasn’t taught what to change my mind to.

Yes, yes, I know what we are to change our minds about. We are to change our minds about our sin. We are to hate it, to make a 180 degree turn, to run from the sin that consumes us. But what we see here in Peter’s testimony challenges our understanding of “changing our mind”.

See, repentance is not wishful thinking. Real repentance is not telling ourselves over and over again that we are going to change. Repentance must be steeped in reality – the reality of the power of Jesus’ grace over the power of our sin. Because only the grace of Jesus can transform our brokenness into something beautiful.

In this passage, Jesus’ actions reveal the radical reality of God’s grace. Jesus chooses to go to Peter, while he stands in the murky waters of his past profession, and to bless him there!

Why did He do this? Why didn’t he let Peter continue to fail? Surely, if He wanted to scare Peter away from the fisherman’s lifestyle, He wouldn’t have blessed him in the water, right?


Jesus knew that Peter’s last memory of His savior was wrought with denial and shame. Jesus also knew that Peter’s perception of his past was full of the same. Two competing identities, both begging for redemption.

Thus, Jesus chose to redeem both memories at once by making one new, powerful memory: a memory dripping with His undeniable, powerful presence.

By meeting with Peter in the midst of his disgrace, Jesus proved that His love is stronger than Peter’s sin. He proved that Peter can’t push his love away. And He disassociated Peter’s fisherman past from dishonor to an unshakeable promise – a net full of fish. 

Hey Peter? That thing you’re ashamed of? Your denial of me? I’m gonna use that to bring me glory and to fill your nets.

What is that thing that Jesus has called you away from? It is that thing, through the glorious light of repentance, that Jesus will use to bring glory to Himself and to His Father in Heaven. Ask Him to give you faith in the power of His grace. Allow the Lord to change your mind about repentance.

Now, repent and re-believe in the love of Christ, because that thing does not own you. It does not define you. The love of Christ defines you; and only the love of Christ can redefine that thing into something beautiful.