Moving Toward The Mess

In my last book review, I shared about Danielle Tate’s “Restoring the Lost Petal”.  It just so happens that I’m finishing up this other book – and it goes quite nicely with the last one!

There’s been a deep need in my heart to reach out and say some very important things.  And I believe that what God stirred in my heart with the last book and with this one are related.  So even though I was supposed to be done with Move Toward The Mess by mid-January, I think God’s timing was perfect.  It let me soak this book in a little bit deeper.

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My last book review talked about the importance of the church addressing modesty, purity, and sexuality – since they did such a poor job with me!  I was already not a virgin when I got saved.  I was “too messy” for that church.  But we’re never going to get a grip on this much needed conversation if we’re afraid to get messy.

People will come into our churches just like I did – with soiled hands and a filthy dress – and we have the responsibility to embrace them into our Kingdom family.  We need to be the ones to affirm them in Christ, remind them of their God-given value, and remind them of their purpose.  This is not something we can do from a distance.  We have to get our hands dirty!  That’s not to say that “sinful people” contaminate us.  But we desperately need to learn to be comfortable with hugging, talking to, and spending time with people who are not washed in the blood… Because how else would they get to that point?  What else would attract them to God’s love if it isn’t demonstrated in our very own hands and feet?

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So without stealing the previous book’s thunder, I would say “Move Towards The Mess” by John Hambrick came at just the right time.  Because this book contains chapter after chapter showing us how God shows up in the lives of those who run towards the mess instead of away from it!

We live in a broken world.  Drive two miles away from your church and you’ll see the spiritual and moral chaos that is in every city; the poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, and prostitution.  And if the neighborhood is still nice, just keep watching; they may not be poor financially, but they’re poor in spirit.  Those kids may have a house to sleep in, but be so disconnected from their family it’s not quite a home either.  There’s still addiction to fight.  There’s still young girls using their bodies as currency to meet their needs.

So I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if your Christian walk is rather uneventful or you find your church life quite boring, it’s probably because you’re in a “country club for saints” instead of a “hospital for sinners”.  That’s not to say you need to change churches.  What you really need is a new perspective.

One analogy that Hambrick used which stuck with me so well is that church is really the locker room pre-game ralley with the coach.  The hype of being in that locker room is the precedence of going out into the field and playing the game – going out into the world, “moving towards the mess”, getting our hands dirty carrying out the plays our coach has planned.  Without hitting the field, using our grit, and finding our mettle these “locker room ralleys” are useless.  We waste time going to church if it doesn’t radically affect what we do outside in the world.

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His antidote to this attitude really boils down to knowing that we are sinners saved by grace.  When we realize just how much God has forgiven in us, we stop waiting until we get our lives together, or until we get the right “title”, or waiting for the broken to come to us.  Our own need for grace becomes fuel to love others and want to bring salvation to them.

Not many churches will experience the randomness of a girl like me walking through their doors one Sunday in February and getting saved.  I was the exception, not the rule! Most people live on the fringes of the church property and won’t step inside because they feel filthy.  Well, my friends, let’s bring church to them.  Let’s move toward the mess.

Pick up your copy of “Move Towards The Mess” here, or you can win a copy on my blog by commenting below and answering the following question:

What mess do you feel God calling you towards?  Where does your heart ache the most towards others?

Disclaimer: I received two copies of “Move Towards The Mess” by the Blythe Daniel Agency in exchange for my honest review.  I was not paid to give a good review, nor will I receive any monetary compensation from your purchase.

Restoring The Lost Petal

I shared a few blog posts ago that my daughter had asked Siri, “What is the definition of modesty?” and how I tackled that conversation.

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Confession: My feelings on the subject have been unraveled after reading “Restoring The Lost Petal” by Danielle Tate.  And although I have provided links so you can get a copy of the book for yourself, I was not paid to provide a good review and will not be compensated in any earthly way by your purchase of it.

I think it would be helpful to understand, first of all, that I was not raised a Christian.  I got saved at 15.  And I was already an angry, rebellious teenager trying to assert some level of independence from my mom by then.  I had already made less-than-ideal choices, and because of my attitude I already had a reputation (although it was far worse than I actually deserved).

Interesting thing about how I rolled back then: If you accused me of being slutty and I didn’t really deserve it, then I would go out of my way to show you how slutty I really could be.  I don’t know how this logically could’ve worked in my favor, but that was how I rebelled against EVERYONE – by one-upping whatever anyone said, being more than what I was accused of. More tough, more angry, more violent, more promiscuous, more cruel…

And yet, if I’m completely honest, these experiences didn’t hurt me as bad when they happened as they did AFTER I got saved and started going to church!

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When Jesus showed up in my 15 year old self, I didn’t need to be told that my dating speed was inappropriate, or that self-harming was bad, or that I needed a whole new circle friends.  The Holy Spirit did that well enough; I understood at the moment I gave my heart to Christ and asked Him to be Lord of my life that I couldn’t have Jesus and live like I’m going to hell on wheels.

No exaggeration: I gave my life to Christ one Sunday morning, and while I was praying the sinner’s prayer, I told God, “And Lord, you know that tonight these boys from my neighborhood are going to knock on my window and invite me to sneak out while my family is asleep.  No sense lying to you about this.  I’m not sure I’m strong enough to say that I’m not going to go.  I need You to protect me from this.”

That night, I slept like a rock.  Heard at school that the boys went as far as opening my window and shook me in my bed as quietly as they could and I would not budge, so they left me alone in my room.  And they never came back.  #truestory

Christ’s forgiveness was so real at that moment that I completely forgave myself – being as far removed from that girl as the east is from the west.  The problem is, I went to church…


From then until I got married and got the heck out of dodge, it seemed that no one in my church believed I was changed – no matter all my efforts to prove it.  If I participated in EVERYTHING – from Mission’s Trips, to Bible Quiz, it was to get into my then-friend-now-husband’s pants.  Nothing I wore was modest enough.  The highlight of learning about sex was “Don’t do it! Don’t touch! Don’t even kiss! Until you’re married!”  And then when my husband and I decided to get married, the church refused to get involved under the auspice that we already had sex and our marital union would no longer be sanctified.

Sadly, this is a #truestory as well.  Needless to say, this did little to build me up in modesty and purity, little to break spiritual bondage, and little to bring healing…

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Fast forward to this year, now that I’m 31 and even further removed from that person, I received a copy of this book to review.  Danielle and I are Facebook friends and we had engaged in blog-related activities and personal conversations over the years.  I was so stoked that she wrote this book and excited to offer her my support.

I didn’t realize how much I needed to read her words.  And that’s about as far as I’ll spoil it for you.  Because even though I wasn’t living a promiscuous/adulterous life style, and I wasn’t recovering from a traumatic abusive experience, I had still in some ways lost some petals and just learned to live without…

I strongly recommend this book for any girl of any age – before any sexual experiences or after, before marriage or married more than once… We as Christians need to re-engage in these conversations about sex, dating, modesty, purity and we need to do it right! We need to know much more than “don’t!” but also “Why?” and “When?” and “How?”  And we need to restore the petals in the flowers of our hearts and protect the flowers in the hearts of the younger girls coming up after us.

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You can get your copy of “Restoring The Lost Petal” by Danielle Tate here, but I’m also willing to give my copy away at random if you answer this prompt below:

What is the conversation about purity you WISH you had as a teenager?  If you could go back and give your 15 year old self a message on this subject, what would you say?