The Trouble With Lauren Daigle

It’s us.  Our self-righteous, holier than thou, stance.  Our brazen disregard for God’s word when we decide to publically denounce her, and any other believers we don’t agree with.  When Lauren Daigle, and other believers in the public domain do not behave as we believe they should behave, we see our own humanity and brokenness and we call it out.  Because let’s be real, it’s easier – less messy, less work, less painful – to see the speck in someone else’s eye than to deal with the plank in our own.

Back in the fall of 2018 Lauren performed the first single, Still Rolling Stones, off of her sophomore album, Look Up Child, on The Ellen Show.  It was her debut performance on the show.  I didn’t watch the performance live, because I didn’t know about it.  I got to watch the replay on YouTube and I was absolutely blown away.  I’m not a big fan of daytime television so I’m not certain that Lauren was the first Christian artist to perform on the show, but I know she could only be one of a handful, as not many Christian artists enjoy crossover success without going pop.

Lauren Daigle On Ellen

As I watched, I belted out the words with her.  But even as loudly as I was singing I could hear God bragging as only a proud Father can, “Look at her!  She’s singing a song declaring my grace, and mercy, and resurrection power on a nationally televised show hosted by an openly gay woman.  I did this.  I made this happen.  I put her on that stage.”  And at the end of the song, Ellen came up to Lauren and announced everyone in the audience was getting a copy of Look Up Child.  My jaw dropped and God said, “Are you seeing this?  Ellen used her own money to purchase a CD for everyone in her audience.  A CD full of songs all about Me!”  Tears streamed down my face.  God showed up and He showed off that day.

But then the backlash came.  People lambasted Lauren for her appearance as well as her song choice.  How dare she call herself a Christian and appear on an openly gay woman’s show? they wondered.  I read that comment over and over on different sites and felt so confused, angry, and embarrassed even.  I yelled at my phone or laptop “Because God opened the door for her to be on there!”

Then the drama came.  At what seemed to be the height of the backlash, Lauren was interviewed by a radio personality known for stirring up controversy and was asked about her performance on Ellen and the fallout that followed.  He asked her about her personal thoughts on homosexuality being a sin.  People did not like her answer.  It was, admittedly, indirect.  She didn’t openly call homosexuality a sin.  People were outraged.  While I didn’t personally agree with the words she used, I totally related to the situation in which she found herself.  I spent the better part of 2018 avoiding topics God wanted me to share with people.  And the platform I have is minuscule compared to hers.  I can only imagine the thoughts whirling through her head as she was thinking of a response to the direct question about whether she thought homosexuality is a sin.  Did she skirt the question?  I don’t think so.  I think she answered it honestly.  And she was publically judged for it.

God invited me to write a blog post about it but I ignored Him.  It was one of the controversial topics I didn’t want to talk about.  From time to time Holy Spirit would remind me of the invitation but I brushed Him off.  I argued that the moment had passed.  It would be silly for me to write about it when people had probably already forgotten about it.  But then Twitter was all abuzz with Lauren related posts  – again declaring that she isn’t really a Christian – following her Billboards performance last Sunday.

You Say On Billboard Awards

Why are we, as believers, so quick to beat one another up?  I constantly hear about believers being persecuted by the world, but it’s so often us who are doing the dirty work of the deceiver, not the world.  When not if, we don’t agree with something a fellow believer says or does, the last thing we should do is grab our pitchforks and publically rake him or her over the proverbial coals.  God says in His word that the world will know we are His followers by the love we show one another.  How is it loving to publically question someone’s faith?  How loving is it to use social media to judge someone and call them out their name?  It.  Simply.  Isn’t. (mentally insert hand clap emoji)

After the whole Ellen controversy, I listened to Look Up Child with new ears.  It wasn’t something I did intentionally, but God pricked my ears and showed me how the songs He gave Lauren for the album were songs she needed to hear during the season she was in.  She needed to preach to her soul, much like David did, to remember God’s faithfulness during times of doubt.

Last month, two of my students asked if they could play a song during independent practice time.  Before I could answer, one of the girls, who happens to be openly gay, said, “Mrs. Floyd, it’s a Christian song!”  I asked the title and they both announced “You Say” with such excitement on their faces.  I shook my head and chuckled as I said, “Oh, that’s a song from Lauren Daigle.”  Even though I only play Christian artists, they were impressed that I knew the song.  Apparently, Lauren Daigle had been experiencing some crossover success, with the song being played on secular stations.  I’m not saying that Lauren is a modern day Esther, but it is clear to me that God is using her the giftings He bestowed upon her – her ability to write and the voice she uses to share her lyrics.

Look Up Child

If you haven’t already listened to the album in its entirety, I pray that you would do so with a soft heart, open mind, and unstiffened neck.

Using My Teacher Voice

SC residents: Whether you currently have children in K-12 or not, please talk to your teacher friends about the needs of public school children and the educators who work hard to support them.
I am so disheartened by comments I’m reading on the FB page for The State newspaper and in the comment section of online articles. Many who are not in education feel like it’s an “us vs. them” situation. Teachers are not greedy or lazy. We do not get a 3 month vacation. We are contracted to work 190 days. We are paid for those over 12 months. And real talk, summer break is 2 months for educators, not three.

To be honest, I don’t know a single teacher who doesn’t do some type of professional development – taking college-level courses, attending district/state training, participating in a professional learning community – over the summer. And I know way too many teachers who take on extra responsibilities/jobs during those two months just to make ends meet.

When we use our unified “teacher voice” to call attention to the low pay and other issues we are not saying that other people are not underpaid. South Carolina ranks 40th in the nation for wages. We are
all underpaid. Educators just happen to be fed up enough with public schools being underfunded for the last 10 years that we have decided to collectively bring attention to the problems plaguing public education in South Carolina – including the low pay given the amount of schooling and continuing education required.

Please, I implore you, find an educator (and that’s ANYone who works in a school building) to sit down and talk with you about the state of our public education and why the bill being pushed through the SC Senate is not a bill that will help. While there are some in the profession who just need to go on ‘head and retire, those of us who fiercely love our profession and the children we teach far outnumber them. We love working with the future but we are tired and fed up with not being treated (includes pay) like the professionals we are.

On Wednesday, May 1st, I had the joy and honor to participate in a historic march and rally with over 10,000 other supporters of public schools in South Carolina. I pray that the 84-page bill, H.3795 does not pass the Senate and that lawmakers will not only welcome our visits to the State House as they did in the early months of the year but actually listen to our input as they overhaul public education next year and the years to come.

Why I Choose To Ignore God

 

chelsea-ferenando-163294-unsplashPhoto by Chelsea Ferenando

This post was supposed to be all about how I hear from God but I’m not a prophet or insane.  I feel like I have to add that disclaimer every time I choose to follow through on a God-invitation to give someone a word or share a message with a broad audience.  Like, I need people to know God doesn’t speak to me through burning bushes nor do I think I’m a modern day prophet. But I also need people to know that I don’t hear voices – I can just discern between my thoughts and His.

I wanted people to know that when I follow through on a God-invitation to share a word or message that the message is not my own.  But before I could fully flesh out that blog post God made that “Pump your brakes” noise and called me out on my unwillingness to follow through on said invitations.  So the post went from one big disclaimer to a confession of my ego-driven disobedience. Yay.

You see, pretty much every post God invited me to write this year focused on or touched on a hot topic – something controversial that was relevant at the time I received His invitation to open my mouth (or write in the case of this blog) – that was sure to tick some people off.  Believers and non-believers alike were not going to like everything God asked me to share. Not many people read this blog and I really didn’t want to alienate them. Ugh.

Why was I so caught up in people-pleasing when I thought I’ve made substantial progress over the year?  Put simply it’s because I’m human and we all have an innate desire to be a part of a greater community.  While I don’t know most of the people who read this blog I guess I like to imagine that if we met in real life that we could be friends.  And as for the readers who do know me, I would prefer to not upset them because I avoid conflict like the plague – straight up.

What God hit me with tonight is that when I get to heaven it’s just me and Him.  I’m not going to see any of the people who read this when I see Him face to Face.  Not to say that no one who reads this blog is going to heaven. They just won’t be answering for my life choices.  Only I will be giving an account for my life. God can be pretty direct with me like that.

I figured since He put it that way…

I need to get honest about my disobedience in order to do something different.  So here’s the truth: I choose to ignore God because

  • I try to please people instead of honoring Him
  • I fear what people will think of me instead of trusting Him – this is especially true when it comes to my in-real-life people
  • I often choose comfort over Him
  • I question the call on my life
  • I don’t think I’m qualified to be an ambassador for God
  • I’m often tempted to reword His message in an effort to make it more palpable but He won’t let me so rather than surrender I just walk away from the invitation entirely

I’m sharing this today for a few reasons.  First, confession is good for the soul. Second, I know I’m not alone in hearing from God and not really knowing how to walk it out (sorry if that song is now stuck in your head, too).  Lastly, I’m sharing this because I am sick and tired of living in disobedience. I haven’t been spending time with God for months now. I’ll pray, and worship, hear from Him, talk with Him, but I haven’t spent like legit “Let me carve out some time to sit at Your feet and be fed” time with God.  I blamed it on my routine being thrown off over summer break. But the truth is that after months of refusing to open my mouth when He told me to, I found it more and more difficult to be in close proximity to Him. Willful rebelliousness will do that.

So here’s to leaving the excuses behind and walking boldy in obedience.  Will I still worry about all of the things I mentioned as excuses? Most certainly.  I’m still a broken person working towards wholeness, still spirit wrapped in flesh. As long as I’m breathing I will struggle with that stuff.  But, just for today – and hopefully each day hereafter – I am choosing love over fear. His love for me over my fear of being rejected by other broken people.

Last week, a friend asked via social media for people to share their 2018 in five words and look to 2019 in three. I responded with “Even the saved need grace” and “Surrendered and obedient”, respectively.  I’m going to walk into 2019 holding onto both declarations. I will choose to surrender to God’s will daily and obediently follow through on His invitations while I accept God’s grace as needed to avoid getting caught up in the lie that it’s possible to follow Him perfectly.

***Let this blog post serve as a disclaimer for all future blog posts.  I plan on writing whenever God prompts me to do so and I won’t be explaining why I’m writing or trying to make His message more palpable.  Hopefully, we can still be friends (be it virtual or IRL) after you read whatever He’s asked me to share.  But if not, that’s okay because obedience is better than sacrifice.***

There’s A Place For Me

bonnie-kittle-186235-unsplash
Photo by Bonnie Kittle on Unsplash

“Who the Son sets free

Oh is free indeed

I’m a child of God

Yes I am

In my Father’s arms

There’s a place for me

I’m a child of God

Yes I am” – Who You Say I Am by Hillsong Worship

I completely misheard this verse last Saturday in Franklin, Tennessee during the cooldown of the Rev On The Road workout.  But I didn’t really mishear it.  I heard it loud and clear exactly the way my Daddy wanted me to hear it.  

Every summer God seems to make me keenly aware of the injustice in this broken world, especially where race is concerned.  I just noticed His timing this summer. I think God opened my eyes to the fact that He’s been pricking my heart for the past several summers so I would let go and let Him move freely.

If the question of race or race relations makes you uncomfortable, go ahead and stop reading now.  If someone sharing their pain – whether over their personal experiences or the experiences of others – makes you want to check out, please do so now.  But if you choose to continue reading, I ask that you do so with an open mind and a softened heart.

I have avoided posting about race for years now.  Be it my own experience, or my response to instances of systematic racism – namely the killing of unarmed men of color. All because of fear.  Fear that I wouldn’t share my feelings well. That my doing so would make people uncomfortable. That when God told me to open my mouth via my keyboard that my brokenness and unaddressed hurts would muddy His message.  So, as I sit here typing these words I keep praying to Him, between tears, that He will heal my hurts as I type so my hurt doesn’t turn to anger. Because while people can relate to anger, they can’t always hear past it.

I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Made on purpose with a purpose. I walk in this truth daily.  But being a woman of color who presents as white has been a very lonely experience at times.  I’ve endured passive aggressive and overt racism only to hear that I wasn’t “really Hispanic” or “really Black” or “not like that” implying that the hurtful words didn’t apply to me because I wasn’t really a member of the minority group being referenced.  And I’d wonder – even sometimes ask out loud – well, if those words didn’t apply to me, did they apply to my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins? And on the flipside, I’ve gone out of my way to prove myself as a woman of color – that I belonged with the other brown women.  Sometimes it’s all been in my head and other times I’ve been asked certain questions to see if my membership was legit or if it was going to be rejected.

And that’s what it comes down to, doesn’t it?  Whether the question rests on race or some other means of identification, it all comes down to belonging or being rejected.  And when I heard these lyrics God let me hear “In my Father’s arms there’s a place for me” I desperately needed to be held and didn’t even know it.  In my life I have experienced more rejection – real or imagined – than I would have liked to.  I’ve never felt like there was any particular place for me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t feel like this all the time. But it’s always like music playing in the background of my everyday life.  I’m not acutely aware of it until I am.

I honestly thought I had let go of all of this belonging and identity stuff years ago.  I was walking across the local dam and God told me that I didn’t need to be brown enough, or Latina enough, because I was His.  It was the first time in my adult life I felt lies about my identity break off of me. It was cathartic but painful enough for me to want that to be the end of the healing process.  Today, I accept that this is truly a process. And as long as I’m breathing He will take me deeper into the hard places to bring me more freedom, healing, and peace.

God met me on that mat last Saturday and allowed me to feel His presence in such a tangible, loving way.  I did not like the feelings He stirred up inside of me, namely the deep sense of vulnerability, but it was so very worth it.  I don’t remember everything He declared over me because our time together was cut short due to me needing to fulfill my duties as a volunteer at the event.  But I did promise Him to get still long enough to go back with Him to that space of surrender.

I’m not really sure why God wouldn’t let me go to sleep until I wrote this. It may just be for my benefit – obedience does feel so much better than the alternative – but I pray that it isn’t.  If He’s been calling you deeper, go. It may seem scary and there may be tears, but I promise you the encounter will be worth it. He always is.

Make Jesus Lord

nsey-benajah-398544-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Nsey Benajah on Unsplash

I love hearing from God.  I like it when He gives me words of encouragement to give to friends via text, a phone call, or in person.  My favorite is when it comes out of the blue.  When I haven’t talked to the friend in a minute and God tells me to reach out and give them a particular message.  It’s my favorite scenario because without fail, even though the message seems out of the blue to me, it’s right on topic and right on time for the friend who hears it.

I love hearing from God.  Most of the time.

I don’t particularly like hearing from God when the message He asks me to share feels like sandpaper. You know, the kind of message that doesn’t quite line up with the idea we have of God that we sometimes worship instead of worshiping Him as the King of kings and Lord of lords that He is.

I’ve been reading through the Old Testament (one of my goals for the year is to read through the Bible) and somewhere between 1 Samuel and 1 Kings, God started to speak a message to be shared.  I’m not sure how God talks to other people, but when He gives me revelation it’s as though He has downloaded the information in such a way that I can see the forest and the individual trees at the same time.  Unfortunately, I am not God and I am not able to convey information the same way.

Oftentimes, when I share a message – especially a sandpaper message – I get distracted by the message and trip over my own words trying to explain what God meant like He needs an interpreter or a public defender.  He doesn’t. And I know this, but it doesn’t make the delivery any easier.

So, here I am trying to share a sandpaper message as plainly as I can.

American doesn’t need to focus on being great again.  As a nation, the United States needs to focus on making Jesus Lord.  I asked God, “Oh, like Make Jesus Lord Again, instead of Make America Great Again?”  I wasn’t trying to be cute with Him, but I did think it was a clever presumption.  He said that saying that America needed to make Jesus Lord again implied that He was Lord at some point.  Ouch.

He brought me back to 2 Samuel when the people of Israel are pleading with God to have a king rule over them.  Samuel makes it very clear to them what life will be like with a king ruling over Israel and he implores them to instead turn to God and allow Him to be their King.  But they do not heed his warning and instead continue to make their case for having an earthly king.

It’s easy to shake one’s head when reading the history of the Israelites and completely overlook the fact that we too put too many expectations on and hopes in human leaders.  Humanity cannot cure what ails humanity, namely our sinful nature.  Only God can do that.  And yet, we place unrealistic expectations on one another, including our local, state, and national leaders.

And here’s the thing, the United States of America is not a Christian nation.  It is a nation that has Christians living within its borders, but it isn’t a Christian nation the way the nation of Israel was a nation of the twelve tribes of Israel.  I know this.  But still, as believers, as followers of Christ, we have the power to intercede on behalf of believers and non-believers alike.

“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

I have tried to write this post over the past couple of months but stopped for fear that people might interpret it as being an indictment of a controversy within the current administration.  Unfortunately, the controversies seem to come and go so quickly, I had to post this out of obedience and let go of the possibility that someone could misinterpret this as being related to the most current controversy at the time of making the post public.

I usually like to tie my posts up in a nice bow, wrapping everything all together, even if it’s just with a quote.  But I don’t have a bow for this post.  While we live in a great country, it is not perfect.  Not the government, not the citizens.  I pray that we, as followers of Christ, would lead the charge in knocking down the altars we’ve set up for the idols of country, political party, and politicians.  Our hope is in Christ alone.

Social Media and the Connected Educator

I don’t post very often, but when I do, it’s about my faith, my experiences with all things health and wholeness, and my life as a mom.  But today, I am posting about a part of my life I rarely talk about – being a teacher.

In order to renew our teaching certificates, every five years teachers in South Carolina have to take a technology course.  I hold my National Board certificate so I have ten years to renew my certificate and don’t have to go through the normal process to do so.  But I’m still required to take a technology course every five years.  Unfortunately, it’s been well over five years since I last took a tech course so I jumped at the chance to take one this semester.

There were two course offerings that seemed interesting and I asked God to help me choose one that would actually be worth the time investment.  The Connected Educator focuses on Social Media for Educators and since I try to use social media for ministry and life I knew I would use whatever I learned.

Honestly, I was just looking to possibly get some hacks on how to effectively use the platforms I’m already using.  Instead, I learned some pros and cons regarding educators using social media (both professionally and personally) and best of all my passion for teaching and my interest in blogging was reignited.  Totally worth the time investment!

I have big plans to flip my classroom – an idea I toyed with years ago but just couldn’t see how to implement it – thanks to EdPuzzle.  I’ll be able to record my lessons using my SMART Board over the summer (at least through the first quarter) and using EdPuzzle my students will be able to work through the lesson, having to answer questions during the recording in order to advance through it.  I am so stoked to be able to use technology in order to flip my classroom.

Oh, and as infrequently as I blog, I’ll be adding a new blog dedicated to my experiences as a teacher.   Specifically, I’ll be focusing on what flipping my class will look like and the differentiation I’m hoping to do within my classroom because of it.  As soon as I work out what the name of the new blog will be I’ll link to it here.

Have you taken any course or attended a workshop that has reignited your passion?  If so, what was it focused on?

Refresh Summit South

I originally wrote this while I was reading “Do Over” by Jon Acuff.  It was in response to the Day 5 assignment.  Good to know that three years later that I am consistent about not posting consistently – even drafts.

Motivating Place
Where is the most motivating place you’ve ever visited? Refresh!!!

So technically Refresh isn’t a place, it’s…

I find myself at a loss for words when I attempt to describe Refresh Summit ’14 in fewer than four sentences.  I’ve been struggling to blog post about it for almost a year now. Mainly because I keep writing too much. Like an epistle too much. Seriously, I could write a blog series about the two days I spent in a B&B cabin with 39 other women in the mountains of Tennessee.   I would describe it as “overnight camp” for women.

I never got to go to away camp and it was everything I imagined summer camp would be like.  S’mores and all.  Except there were no crazy antics involving paddling to the boys’ side of the lake or weird girl clique issues.  Obviously, all of the camp ideas I had was based on the 1980’s movies I watched growing up.  Even without all the cheesiness of an 80’s movie, I got all of the things I wanted out of an away camp experience at Refresh.

And a lot that I didn’t know I could get out worshipping God, fellowshipping, exercising, and eating really good food.  What I can say succinctly about Refresh is that it’s the most uplifting and motivating experience I’ve had in the last several years.

Where’s the most motivating place you’ve ever visited?

Want to attend Refresh Summit South 2018?  Registration is now open!