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New Song by Daniel - One Day

These big dreams
Keep me cozy at night
But morning comes
And puts 'em all to flight
Rent keeps coming
Even though I try to fight it

All my friends are real growns up
With cars and kids and so much stuff
It makes me look
And realize times are rough

But one day
When I make money
I'm gonna throw my friends a Hollywood party

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna take my wife to Paris for a date

I might be broke
But I'm not sad
'Cause I know one day
I'll be just like dad
And give it all away
To make my momma glad

Some might say that
I seem stuck
My head in the clouds
Running low onluck
But In due time I'll turn
Pennies into Bucks

'Cause one day
When I make money
I'm gonna throw my friends a Hollywood party

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna take my wife to Paris for a date

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna get my dog a big ole juicy steak

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna buy my parents a cottage on a lake

I've had years to plan for when I land on my feet
And I realize moneys just not mine to keep

Though time moves slow and the day seems far away
When loves around life just seems okay

So for those who saw me through my very worst
Here's to you I offer up this toast

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna throw my friends a Hollywood party

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna take my wife to Paris for a date

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna get my dog a big ole juicy steak

One day
When I make money
I'm gonna buy my parents a cottage on a lake

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A Capsule Closet Experiment for a Clothing Addict

Scroll to the end to see my fall capsule look book. 

This is a big week in all things that don't really matter, but I seem to care about.

  1. Google changed it's logo
  2. I cleaned out my closet

Remember being 18, and being totally cool with moving into a tiny dorm because it meant FREEDOM? It's not as cute at 26. 

Daniel and I are going back to school to get our Masters of Divinity (Jesus kind, not wizarding kind) and we have downsized to the cutest and tiniest 2 bedroom house, which I've named the Little White House, nestled in a quaint wood across the street from the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte. Now go get you stalker on. Just kidding. 

My closet in Nashville was historic. I could literally sit in there and hang out with friends, which of course, I did. I prayed in there, journaled, hid from Daniel and the boys when I needed some alone time, and even took a smallish nap or two in there. It had 4 enormous sections for hanging clothes, and entire floor to ceiling built in drawers. When Daniel and I were looking for a rental in Nashville, before we viewed our townhouse, I said I wouldn't go for it unless there was chocolate pouring out of the walls. It was when I saw that glorious closet that I turned to him and said, "chocolate is pouring out of the walls". Can we just have a moment of silence for my old closet?

Moving to Nashville was dangerous for me. We moved to Nashville from a farm where the closest gas station was 30 minutes away. Suddenly, I was within a 20 minute drive from Anthropologie, Target, H&M, Altar'd State, and Forever 21 (or what I call The Big Five). Throw in Hobby Lobby and I'm DONE. Every ounce of my shopping-addiction came out in full swing. I FILLED my closet. Glory. 

So we moved, and my closet couldn't move with us. Most of the apartment bedrooms we were looking at were the size of my former clothing sanctuary, so before leaving Nashville I enlisted the help of my no-nonsense pals, Whitney, Christina, and Kenyah, to help me in what I initially thought was the Great Purge. I got rid of some of my clothes, dating back to MIDDLE SCHOOL. Again, I'm 26 people. That's a decades worth of nonsense. After securing the deposit for the Little White House, I knew I would have to purge again. Then again. It was traumatic. 

Finally, one night I just had this epiphany. I wanted to get rid of all my clothes. YES. I, Sherei Lopez Jackson, was going to get rid of 80% of her wardrobe. There were several reasons for this:


It's always been a conviction in my heart that it's thoroughly ridiculous for me to own such a big closet when I literally have friends in the Dominican Republic whose entire home could fit in my big fat American closet. I think about Jesus' call to leave everything, follow him, and have seriously wondered about my love of possessions. It's been a long time coming, but I just think my love for fashion was becoming unhealthy.  


As of this morning, I am 175 lbs. I average a size 14-15. When I married Daniel 4 years ago, I was 142 lbs and a size 2-4. I'm not meant to be super thin; my Puerto Rican frame just doesn't get down with that, and I personally love being full figured. But jumping 10 sizes in 4 years means my closet is full - full - of tons of clothes I don't wear because they don't fit. I literally had every single size from 2 up to 16. And if you're a fellow full figured gal, you know what a bummer it can be to keep seeing your smaller stuff in your closet, holding onto it thinking it'll be so fun to one day fit back into it. I'm not saying that I've given up on getting healthier - I'm just saying if I lose 30 lbs it'll be a lot more fun to go replenish my wardrobe as a treat than wear my circa 2011 garb.  


I've been really digging the nordic/scandinavian/minimalist vibe, although I'm in no way a minimalist. I love decorating my walls from floor to ceiling, and tend to go big or go home. Nonetheless, I am getting into simplifying. It's a great feeling - keeping what you really need and moving on. I feel like a huge weight has come off my shoulders the more I have let go of material possessions. 

SO, I GOT RID OF ALL MY CLOTHES. I had this insane idea to literally keep just what I needed, and started making a raw list of how many items I thought a person reasonably needed to have. Here's the first breakdown of my Reality List:

  • 7 casual dresses
  • 7 dressy dresses
  • 3 nice pants
  • 4 colored pants
  • 4 jeans
  • 3 jackets
  • 3 coats
  • 7 casual tops
  • 7 tanks
  • 7 fancy tops
  • 6 sweaters
  • 5 sentimental items
  • 3 nonsense items
  • 10 scarves
  • 5 belts
  • 15 undies
  • 3 sports bras
  • 1 strapless bra
  • 6 t-shirt bras
  • 5 socks
  • 5 leggings
  • 2 shorts
  • 5 workout shorts
  • 3 nice shorts
  • 5 tshirts
  • 1 sweat pant
  • 5 hats/hair wraps
  • 5 beanies

I did a little research on downsizing and found this super fascinating concept:

The Capsule Wardrobe

I was sold. I didn't create a separate capsule for each season, because so many of my clothes transition to the entire year (I love to layer summer dresses with sweaters and tights, and I love putting my tank tops with sweaters, etc). The key to an effective capsule wardrobe is that you know and understand all of the different ways to combo your outfits so it feels like you have endless possibilities. I wanted a way to be able to keep up with my clothing choices, and that's when I found the Stylebook App. The app was a game changer. Remember that moment in Clueless when she uses a computer program to find her white top. THIS IS FINALLY REAL LIFE PEOPLE. For the sexy price of $3.99 I can have the computerized personal stylist I've dreamed of since 1995. No brainer. Yes please.


So I did it! I systematically purged all of my clothes.

Here are my steps and rules:

1. Make your own Reality List. I don't need more than 1 pair of sweatpants because I don't wear them that often. Do you? What do you wear a lot of? Create your own list of things that you think are reasonable. Don't do it off of what you own, do it off of what would be ideal for your lifestyle (without your present clothes in mind. Think with a clean slate). Ask yourself: What do you really need? What can you do without? What is just taking up space? I do laundry about once a week, so in reality I don't really need more than about a weeks worth of anything. It's unlikely that I'll wear 7 dresses in one week, so do I really need more than 3? Hard questions. Rewarding answers.

2. Immediately start a pile of every single item that doesn't fit anymore. You are only allowed to keep 3 (THAT IS IT) items that are too small as sentimental pieces. For example, I kept a dress from our honeymoon, my favorite pair of old jeans, and a swimsuit from our honeymoon. 

3. Start a 'maybe' pile. It's easier than painfully putting your not-favorite-but-still-loved stuff into the trash bin. 

4. Separate what's left into sections. Look at your reality list and start putting aside you're top picks for each section. The I-will-not-part-with-this list. Initially don't put anything more than your final number in the keep pile, and start a second "maybe's" pile. Keep in mind that you like the second "maybe's" pile more than the first, because they made it through the first round. 

5. Get your closet really organized. For me, this included matching hangers per section. White hangers for tops and dresses. Blue hangers for bottoms. I bought a closet sweater holder, and was able to fill it with all of my sweaters and jeans. I also bought an over-the-door shoe rack, and bins for the top of my closet, baskets for the bottom, and an under the bed slider. It's an initial investment, but worth it to have a clean, organized space. 

This is the size of my REAL closet! Because now I don't need more! Freedom!

This is the size of my REAL closet! Because now I don't need more! Freedom!

6. Start filling your closet with all of your keepers according to your list. For me, this included taking a photo inventory for my app! This took forever but now that I've done it I can plan out my clothes way in advance and take full advantage of the app. 

7. Take a look at your 2 piles of maybes. This was the most painful part for me. I did pull a few items back into my closet, but only if I could fit into them right now and they could be worn in multiple ways. 

8. Say goodbye to the maybes and add them to your sell or donate pile. Say goodbye. Look away. A treat is coming if you'll just say goodbye!

9. GOOD JOB! If you're like me than you literally just got rid of like 350 items of clothes. As a major treat, I wrote a list of items that I felt I needed to complete my capsole wardrobe and went shopping. This totally changed my shopping game. I knew exactly what I needed, and knew I didn't have room for more, so I only came home with the 7 items on my list. 

Here were my added capsule items. I came up with them from looking at my pinterest clothing board to see what I pinned a lot of but didn't already have or could 'improv' with my closet. Here's what I added.

  • A few casual tops. Most of my tops that fit are from my 'teacher style' clothes from working at LCA for 2 years. I wanted a few (2) tops that could go with my new, more casual grad school wardrobe.
  • Winter boots. I got rid of all but 1 pair of my winter boots because they were so gross, falling apart, and worn out. I blame carline for that. I realized I could style a short pair of military boots in a few different ways (with jeans, with a skirt and tights, with a dress and tights, with leggings), and I tend to live in a pair of tall brown boots during the fall and winter. Both of my picks came from
  • One plaid shirt. Again this can be styled under dresses, over dresses, with sweaters, tied around your waist, etc. I did have a plaid shirt but it was too small and it was one of those items I would never buy another of because I kept thinking I would fit into my too-small one. Time to upgrade!
  • One denim shirt. I was surprised to see how many times I had pinned a denim shirt. I'm a deal hunter when I shop, and so I have passed over this item again and again because I keep thinking I'll find a great one for like 10-15 bucks. I bought one for $26, and don't regret it one bit because I know I'll wear it during 3 seasons of my capsule.

And TADA! I didn't even end up needing to buy an extra Ikea wardrobe for storage! My closet is simple, clean, and I LOVE IT! 

And for your viewing pleasure, a few pieces from my fall capsule wardrobe:

I hope you enjoyed today's edition of "Mischief" and thanks so much for reading! Please let me know in the comment section if you'd like to see more stuff like this (clothes, hair, etc) and what you want to hear about. 

Grace and Peace


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Why I have & how I use an iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro, and iMac

Or, for you losers out there, it could be said, "Why I have & how I use an android, tablet, laptop, and personal computer". 

Technology is an important part of my life, and so over time I've ended up with more gadgets then (at first) I knew what to do with. At different seasons we bought different items (iPad when we needed a hotspot at the farm...iMac when my dad was selling his because he didn't need it anymore), causing some of our tech items to fall into disuse. I'm in a new rhythm where I, surprisingly, now use all of my Big 4 (iPhone, iPad, Macbook Pro, and iMac). Here's my break down of usage.


I mainly use my iPhone for texting, phone calls, social media, health, reminders, bible study and photography apps. My favorite photo apps are enlight, vscocam, pictapgo, and phoster. I'm huge on myfitness pal, a health app that helps you keep up with calories and fitness. Bible apps. I love youversion, a bible app with a million versions and daily reading plans. I'm getting into First5, an app that shows you scripture right when you wake up, and She Reads Truth, a devo community for women. I also use my phone for the etsy seller app so I can respond to clients quickly and check on stats. 


This guy is a trickster. I use to not use my iPad at all after we didn't need it for a hotspot anymore, but this summer he has found his place in my lineup. I currently use my iPad most for reading, graphic design using Paper, taking notes with Evernote (with a portable keyboard), my clothing organizer (Stylebook) to pick out outfits, and Netflix. A word on taking notes: I'ma  new seminary student, so note taking is a part of my life again. This time around the info is way over my head and going a million miles a minute. I type 75 WPM, and so as much as I want to whip out the old pen and paper...I need to stick with typing to keep up. I'm also in a lot of meetings and feel kind of like a jerk if I'm constantly on my laptop, typing notes. There is something less obtrusive and more approachable about using an iPad when your taking notes in meetings.  Daniel and I don't have a TV, so it's so nice to pop up Netflix in bed or on our coffee table while we share a meal on the couch. I also occasionally use it to ustream a service that I'm speaking at or Daniel is playing at. I just prop it up and walk away. 

I'm about to betray all of my 'real' book friends (and I'm still a HUGE fan of real books), but I've started reading books on my iBook app. There are some books that I definitely want a hardback copy of, like a really beautiful edition of Pride and Prejudice. Daniel and I have the top shelf of our bookshelf lined with Barnes & Nobles beautiful collectable line of classics, and I hope for that to grow. But some books aren't particularly pretty, and when you live in a small space, you need to keep the book count to a minimum. For example, I love Francine Rivers, but think her book covers can be kind of cheesy, plus they are insanely long. This summer I read the second Mark of Lion book on my iPad, and absolutely loved being able to carry that around as appose to a 600 page printed book. 


Old Faithful has been a part of the tech family since 2011. My Macbook pro is my lifeline. I do most of my photo editing (Lightroom), graphic design (Photoshop and Illustrator) and writing (Evernote) using my macbook. I'm a huge fan of working in coffee shops and around town, so it's so nice to be able to 'bring my office with me' when I'm tired of working from home. I also use this guy for church services to project Pro Presenter, and at times Planning Center. 


This huge guy is set up in my new office. Sometimes my work gets really detail oriented, and it's so nice to be able to work on graphics on a big screen. I use this guy to work on graphic design, writing, and photography from home, and love the massive workspace. You'll occasionally see me enjoying an episode of Parks and Rec from this dude too. 

So, that's my tech wrap up. I hope it helps you decide if you really need a tablet, or laptop, or whatevs to help your workflow and daily life :D.

Grace and Peace




5 Ways to Simplify Your Life

My whole life I have been average at a lot of things.

But for the last year, God has been pruning my life down to just a few things that I'll hopefully be great at. I deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts, got rid of my TV, and am trading them for reading more books, writing letters, getting outside, learning, playing music and living in the moment with the person right in front of me.  I am weary from building dozens of little twig forts all around me, and am ready to spend my days building on one eternal fortress. My life is a mile wide and an inch deep, but needs to be an inch wide and a mile deep; so I'm clearing off all the clutter on my plate, and making space to think; many of those thoughts which I have shared on this blog. It's time to embrace quality, not quantity. Time to live more simply.

To start, I dare you to watch this entire video:

We live in the busiest generation that has ever existed, but also the laziest. Microwaves. iPhones. We've all heard it.

If you made it through that video (or even pressed play), you beat the majority of your contemporaries (although, since you clicked on a link on how to simplify your life, you probably rose to the occasion as a defiant first leap in that direction). The problem is here. Our lives are overly complex, and we feel trapped. 

The level of complexity we have stumbled upon in our lives is like falling in Devil's Snare.

The more we struggle against all of the social media platforms, Donald Trump news stories, and expectations to have the eating and exercise regimen of Cameron Diaz, the more it strangles us. The truth is, the only way to beat it is to be smart like Hermoine: close your eyes, totally relax, forget that you are getting squeezed to death, and eventually it will let you slip between its slimy tentacles. 

Let me add a significant side note: the main way, or maybe the most damaging way, we have become so overloaded? Social Media.

This video explains it better than I can:

Get a Toaster Oven

There was a time when people grew up in very small worlds. People rarely traveled beyond their town, had a handful of friends, family was incredibly important, and the family business was likely your trajectory as a trade. This had its pros and cons. Pros were deep living. Deep roots. Deep relationships. Intentional living. Survive. Love. Work. Sometimes play. Cons? Sheltered upbringing. Ignorance. Unsympathetic outlook on 'others'. With our modern day we have globalization, a fancy word which sums up the fact that if a earthquake happens in Bangladesh right now, I can now about it in 10 minutes; and with it our eyes can see as far as we wish. Pros? We are well informed, and more tolerant of diversity. We are more well rounded. We have wikipedia. WebMD. We have bigger dreams. Better opportunities. Progress in healthcare and charity.

Globalization Cons? Its sensory overload. There are too many options. Its like putting a candy store at an elementary school and telling the kids everything is free, but if they want to be successful they should attend classes. There is too much to do and not enough time. Too many opportunities and only so many we can take. We see all everyone is doing around us in the world, on pinterest, on instagram. How can we keep up? Its like keeping up with the Jones' on steroids. Keeping up with the Jones' used to mean keeping up with your next door neighbor, but now its keeping up with the body of your friend on Instagram who takes pictures of herself doing yoga, the craftiness of the thousands of pins of how to make an office look Pinterest account, and the level of safety from the warnings your mom sends you on Facebook. Meanwhile we are receiving text messages from our siblings while we Snapchat to friends telling them that we are Facetiming with our significant other who is out of town. Too many. Too much. And its wearing us thin. 

I have been staying at my sister's house for the past few weeks while we interview for positions in Charlotte, and she doesn't have a microwave. She has a toaster oven. At first, I was thinking "Seriously? I just need to heat up some leftover pizza. This is ridiculous." Then she told me how to use it. And that was the day I had the best leftover pizza of my life. It made the cheese melty, the crust crispy, and it only took 3 minutes. It's like an oven and a microwave had a tiny, cute, quick-cooking oven-baby. My point is this: Christians are meant to be counter cultural. Does that mean we have to go hide in a cave and wait for the apocolypse? No. But we should be discerning before we swallow every pill that popular culture feeds us, and prayerful in how we use the tools modernization provides us. 

Christians aren't meant to be inches thin but miles wide. The summary of our reason for existence is pretty simple: Love God. Love others (Matt 22:36-40). And the love I see Jesus exemplify was deep, costly love. Not wide and cheap. 12 close friends. 3 best bros. A few gals on his inner circle he spent serious quality time with. One mommy dearest. 

My whole life I have been average at so much, great at not much; which I believe is the story of much of my generation. Thom Yorke said “Most people gaze neither into the past nor the future; they explore neither truth nor lies. They gaze at the television." There are some great things to take from the progress of our modern times, and we should keep those. But not at the cost losing simple living. Focused living. Or we might miss fruitful living.

Pruning, for More Fruitful Living

“My Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit" (John 15:1-2).

Pastor Alex Seeley of my old church, the Belonging, spoke this beautiful message on pruning. Pruning is the gardening term for cutting away the branches or chutes on a plant that are not necessary so that the plant grows better. Not everything that is natural is needed. Vinedressers that tend to grape vines will take the dozens of vines that come up and prune them down to just 3 main vines. And then those 3 vines are pruned down further, just as verse two says of John 15. Now all of these vines would have produced fruit, so you may ask yourself "Why? More is better, right?" The reality is that we could eat the grapes off of an unpruned vine, but they would taste watery, and their nutrients would be diluted. By pruning off the weaker or undesired vines, the stronger, healthier vines get the redirected nutrients from the soil, which results in a fruit more rich in flavor and that's more healthy. 

I know my generation is called to be one the greatest yet, and we have so many great vines that are rising up from the ground that could change the world, but we have to learn how to prune. Otherwise, we are going to be stuck with a lot of potential, but what in reality is a lot of watery, wimpy, sucky fruit. It's time for a change.

Take the Simplify Challenge:

1. Look at how you spend your day. Come up with 3 things you do everyday in each category:

a. Time

b. Energy

c. Money

2. Pray

a. What is God pruning from your life?

b. More importantly: What is He leaving behind to flourish and be your life's fruit?

3. Pick up the shears

a. Pick 2 things from each category to eliminate.

b. Simplicity take courage. Don't be afraid to make scary sacrifices. If it is already weak (as in you aren't good at it), or if it is undesirable (like sin, a bad habit, or something you just aren't that fond of), then cut it out! Take drastic measures. Get a flip phone. Quit the job. Sell the car. Stop going out to eat. Break up with the girlfriend. Whatever it is. Take it from Henry Ford, who had to sacrifice a lot to focus on his dream of creating the middle-class automobile: “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't - you're right.”

4. Feed your Dreams

a. Take the remaining item from each category and make an intentional, dedicated effort to pour your time, energy and money into those things. The result? 3 vines, just like the grape vine, that hopefully one day will burst forth plump, tasty, nutritious fruit.

b. The grass isn't greener on the other side, it's greener where you water it. And you don't even have to grow where your planted; grow wherever you want to, but you do have to water it. 

c. Have grit. Don't give up. The difference between me and you and the J.K. Rowlings, Pauls, Beethovens, and Henry Fords is not IQ, skill, talent or money; it's grit. Determination that drives forward despite all adversity and odds. 

5. Communicate

a. Many of our most concerted efforts at changing our destiny are foiled due to our lack of effective communication. Tell your parents, significant other, friends, etc. For support, accountability, and so they don't get frustrated with the change. People don't like different, but they can buy in if they feel they are a part of the story. 

b. Put up reminders in your life to remind yourself of your goals. I use the reminder app on my iPhone to set up daily or weekly reminders. The reminder app is a gem, because you make custom reminder lists; like Now, Family, Work, or specialized short term lists (I have one called Operation Future for reminders regarding our move to Charlotte). Setting reminders are also really easy, because you can use Siri and say something simple as "reminder me every Sunday at 3pm to work on my book." Some of my goals a while back were to start working out regularly, take the Sabbath, and to initiate in communication with Sherei. Here is a snapshot of my reminder list:


For more information on the topic, I strongly recommend Bill Hybels book: "Simplify: Ten Practices to Unclutter Your Soul"

I like the theme of simple living so much, I made a photo blog on tumblr focusing around the theme. Lots of good quotes, nature, and stuff Ron Swanson would like.

Its called 2smplfy.



Why Storytellers Shape Culture (Not Politicians)

Author // Daniel

We have always known that stories shaped culture, but why?

Whether it is a country song about a break up, a painting about a family whose son died in war, or a paranormal romance novel about your teenage years, these all do something to us; impregnating our imaginations with ideals of each of those scenarios.

Look at Gandalf

I was reading Lord of the Rings today, where the ents (giant talking trees) had taken Isengard, and Saruman was trapped in his tower, and I was thinking, “What is Gandalf going to do with the evil Saruman after what he has done? What is this wise, righteous figure going to do with the age old question of crime and punishment?” And I realized this was posing a more critical question: How was this story going to portray justice?

Here in this moment the author finds himself with the pen of power, where if the story takes with the masses, the decision of this ‘good’ man will be the standard for generations of young readers to look to as the heroic choice when facing similar situations. And we see this opportunity for every story ever written, whether the author was aware of it or not:

Superman’s response to crime and punishment? Eternal imprisonment, never death.

Sherlock’s? Death if necessary.

Inglorious Bastards? If they have done evil enough, torture and kill them all. Brutally.


This is the importance of the story: it’s inception. The act of implanting an idea in someone’s subconscious–subtly convincing them to believe, and ultimately live out a value, characteristic or belief that originally was not theirs. Read it in Leonardo Dicaprio's character’s words from the movie Inception:

“What is the most resilient parasite? Bacteria? A virus? An intestinal worm? No. An idea. Resilient…highly contagious. Once an idea has taken hold of the brain it’s almost impossible to eradicate. An idea that is fully formed–fully understood–that sticks; right in there somewhere.”

This is why songwriters, authors and movie producers form our futures, not our politicians. A story is more pervasive than a speech from a politician, sermon from a preacher, or lesson from a teacher. We can place ourselves within their stories, like a kid on a Disney ride. And once that story has our trust, we let it take us somewhere. Maybe taking us to a place we would have never gone before, or showing us a different perspective on something we have seen a thousand times.

Thermostats and Thermometers

Storytellers are the thermostats. Setting the standard. Politicians are merely the thermometers. Reflecting the status of the influenced multitudes.

Where do we look to for how to have friends? Gossip girl.

Where do we look to for humor? Buzzfeed.

Office life? Parks and Rec.

Sex life? 50 Shades of Grey.

Justice? Marvel Studios.

Women? Beyoncé.

God? Coldplay.

This is no game. It’s not just entertainment.

Tickling Ears

Scripture says the last generation will have tickling ears, hungry only to hear what will affirm their perverse lifestyle (2 Tim 4:3). And we are here. The bar has not just been set low, it hasn’t been set. It is the postmodern age of relativism. Your truth is your truth, and who am I to say otherwise? Instead we have given the bar to the individual, made autonomy king, and left the true King in the dust. There is a bar at any level you want. Take your pick!

The storyteller’s role is paramount (no pun intended), and we are in need of great storytellers to arise who know their importance in the world. Who are not afraid to give a backbone to a generation. To speak unabashed truth. To give standards. To stand up when everyone else is sitting down, to get on our knees when everyone else stands proudly, and to have the wisdom to know which in the moment.



The day I almost punched a guy at Shipwreck island because of a confederate flag bikini

Author // Sherei

What I'm listening to // Mumford & Sons

I was at Shipwreck Island, a little water park in Panama City Beach, Florida with my nieces and family. It was a Tuesday. We hit a lull in the afternoon where everyone started to do their own thing. One of the babies was napping on a lawn chair with "Gummy", the world's greatest grandma. My brother-in-law, sister-in-law and Daniel were hitting the 'big rides'. 

I, being the book nerd that I am, decided to take a leisurely float down the 'lazy river' while I caught up on some reading. The lazy river is a slow moving 'river' that circles the park. Babies and couples bob down it while taking sun-soaked naps.

Now, for the record, I was reading an intense battle scene in a war book when the idiocy began, so I already had my "justice" face on. A plump, sun-baked, southern girl, who we'll called Offensive Olive, started wading into the river about 5 feet from me. I looked up because I had been carefully pushing my vessel - a floating doughnut - clear of any passerbys that might wet my book. She was sporting a white bikini, emblazoned with the confederate flag on top and bottom.

I had the sickening, knee jerk reaction that I normally do whenever I see this flag:
Oh my gosh, I need to get out of here.
Yikes. Really?
Why do I live here?
This is old.
Are any of my black friends or family with me?
This is embarrassing. 
This is offensive.

Great, this is why people get scared when I say I'm from Alabama.
I HATE that the region I love has this attached to it.

I think I qualify as a southerner by now. I've been in the South for over half my life - and yes even though there are things that are super not southern about me (I don't like sweet tea), I think I've earned my right to say, "Not cool, fellow southerners". 

Right at the exact moment that Offensive Olive was entering the water, a fellow confederate flag lover was crossing the bridge overhead. He yelled in a drunken twang, "YEA. THAT'S WHAT I'M TALKING ABOUT. LONG LIVE THE SOUTH". 

Offensive Olive began shaking her hind parts in the air and yelled back at him, "THAT'S RIGHT! SOUTHERN PRIDE BABY". 

I shut my book. Stood up, and tried with every polite bone in my body (I only have a few) to firmly but peaceably say, "Please stop. Please stop. That is incredibly offensive." 

Offensive Olive tucked her tail between her legs, and left the river. Our other friend, who I will call Clueless Clyde, turned to his friends with a smile on his face that seemed to be the visual equivalent of the look in a little boy's eye when he's about to torment a bird with a broken wing.  

Now, for some reason, I guess insulting my book is more offensive to me than insulting like half of the country, so I (and I'm not proud of this), responded, "I'm sorry sir. I've made it a policy of mine to not engage in conversations with racists." 

By this point my doughnut was floating past yelling distance. He waded out of site, laughing like a wild hyena with his pack of rowdy boys. 

About 5 minutes later, I heard what can only be describe as a guttural siren, yelling from atop one of the wooden slides, "HEY YALL. HEY EVERYONE. THAT GIRL DOWN THERE WITH THE BOOK IS A RACIST. HEY YA'LL. THERE'S A RACIST IN THE LAZY RIVER". 

I could feel the eyes of injustice burning at me from every angle. I was being called a racist for asking a few people to not parade around in their confederate flag at a public park. Cool. 
A few women were floating just behind me, who had witnessed the whole thing. One of the ladies said to me, "Hey, he's talking to you".

I couldn't tell if her tone meant to say, "Hey, check out this clown, how amusing", or "hey, I'm sorry you got yelled by at by a crazy drunk guy but serves you right for disrespecting our flag". 
Just for safe measure, in case she was of the latter persuasion, I said, "He's an idiot". 

The women started hysterically laughing when to my relief we passed a life guard. 
I told the life guard, "There's a deranged drunk guy in black shorts with a beer belly out to heaven up there yelling offensive remarks off that tower. Just thought you'd want to know. What will all the children around." She immediately walkie-talkied her supervisor, and the entire horrible ordeal was over. 

As I prayed through the event later, and genuinely wondered what the right thing to do or say was, I came across a lot of stumbling blocks. 

The most resounding of all was, "love your enemies." Images of handing the guy my coveted chocolate dippin' dots and telling him I still loved him despite everything about him came into my mind. 

So, I asked a harder question: what does love look like? 

The compass of justice in my heart tells me love doesn't look like: 
being a doormat
sweeping everything under the rug
staying matter what

In my quest to figure out how I could have responded differently, I realized my error. In part, the reason I stood up and said anything to begin with was because justice burned in my heart, and I couldn't stand the idea of a single little child at the park feeling ostracized by people like Offensive Olive and Clueless Clyde. But another, at least equal part, to my response was I just wanted them to stick it where the sun don't shine. I wanted them to be humiliated and ashamed for their ridiculous behavior. I wanted to prove them wrong. 

And THAT, is not Christ-like. 

Jesus doesn't call us to be constant pushovers, ignoring issues of justice all in the name of 'love'. He's a table flipping, eyes of fire kind of guy. In that though, his motivations are not to humiliate or dehumanize people. He's always in the business of restoring. He DOES call us to see reconciliation and resolve, at all times. To be agents of peace - meaning to make peace - when things are unsettled. To have an agenda of restoring the earth, to see the world become 'like heaven', and to act in love more than we speak in frustration. 
I could have quietly pulled Offensive Olive aside, offered her my dippin' dots, and gently explained why her bathing suit made me feel unsafe in a place I came to enjoy with my family. I could have spoken to her heart, and told her stories of growing up in a multi-racial family, and the woes that came with living in the south and having a mixed background. I could have genuinely realized that Clueless Clyde was..well drunk...and shouldn't have been in the park under that level of intoxication to begin with. 

I don't regret speaking up in any way, but I am learning there's a more peaceable and genuine way to stand for justice that always has the light of reconciliation and restoration in mind. 



3 Reasons Why I Chose Apple Music, Not Spotify

Author // Daniel

I have had countless friends try to convince me to sign on with Spotify, and I still never touched it. Apple Music knocked on my door politely once, and it only took the click of a button (since my credit card info is already stored) for the free three month trial. I took a quick look around, which turned into a long look around…all my high school and college years of music, and dreams of music I thought I might own one day (like the entire catalog of Led Zeppelin…which I now have). I am sold. Here are my top three reasons:

1. For You

The genius of Apple Music starts here.

By asking for a few of my favorite genres & artists, the “For You” section was not just interesting. It was dead on. Playlists from artists I love and had forgotten about. New music from artists I have never heard of but after listening to, was totally sold. And the greatest part? It costs me nothing to add their music to my collection.

The point is, I trust “For You”, and therefore it works. Like a good friend who has the same taste as me; I want to listen to their opinions (artists), their new mixes (playlists!). Adding to that, the fact that the heart button on songs, albums or artists only fine tunes and diversifies the “For You” section further, let’s just say it’s a keeper.

2. My Music Integration

One reason I never wanted to get Spotify is a lot of the same reason people with Spotify don’t want to switch to Apple Music: it’s MINE.

I have years and years of music uploaded from CDs, tons of music I bought with my own hard earned money, and playlists that are special to me and unique to certain seasons of my life. Part of the joy of being a music lover is the hunt. Exploring to find that new song that you heard on a TV show and have been looking for forever, or one you hear by chance and can’t explain why you connect with it so much — but just have to buy it. This is MY music.

One of the most beautiful things about Apples Music to me is the ease of adding anything to the My Music I have had forever. There is this ownership aspect that feels as though I am still the curator, just like I did before, but now with access to every song I could ever want (except for the Beatles…). It’s like my previous Apple experience on steroids. It’s not even that different. Just better (infinite options). And easier (pay once/mo & press a “+” button).

3. Siri Integration

This sold my sister.

She is a long time Spotify user, sucked in with their free trial littered with ads, who decided to pay to stop being annoyed (thank you for not doing this Apple). I was trying to talk her into it all weekend, but she just wasn’t buying it. One night after she put her two kids to bed, she said “we need some music while we cook dinner, but it needs to be something mellow so we don’t wake up the kids.” My ultimate selling technique popped into my mind. “I wonder if this will work,” I think to myself. I hold down the home button on my iPhone and tell Siri “play me a mellow playlist.” Immediately, Siri answers “playing Halftime Naptime Mellow Mix.” Modest Mouse (one of my sister’s favorite bands, which she introduced me to ten years ago) comes on with “Gravity Rides Everything”, probably their most chill song, and she is sold.

The playlist continues with The Shins, Jose Gonzales, Elliott Smith, and the Postal Service. These are some of my favorite artists. I have tried it out more since then, and love the convenience. Try it. Tell Siri to play a playlist to workout with, or fall asleep to. It’s hard to beat.

My One Suggestion?

Allow Spotify users to transfer their playlists over (that can’t be that hard, right?), so hundreds of thousands of people like my sister won’t be so hard to convince.

Thank You, Apple

The truth is I have wanted to jump on the subscription train into the future with everyone else, but between not being convinced by Spotify, and not wanting to part with My Music in Apple, I never made the jump onboard. Thank you Apple for not just creating, but integrating a lovely service into what I already loved.