The Chosen

The Chosen. A TV series that shows the life of Jesus, told through the stories of those who knew Him best. The largest crowdfunded media project of all time.  A show about Jesus paid for by people who love Jesus. I’m not going to share all of the technical details, instead, I’m going to tell […]

The Chosen.

A TV series that shows the life of Jesus, told through the stories of those who knew Him best.

The largest crowdfunded media project of all time. 

A show about Jesus paid for by people who love Jesus.

I’m not going to share all of the technical details, instead, I’m going to tell you a piece of my story and share my heart.

This article is for anyone who will read it, regardless of your religious background or your beliefs about God. I’m just a person, like you, and this a conversation from my heart to yours.

I have known God is real my entire life. My parents are believers, and I was raised in a home where Jesus was a regular part of the conversation.

My mama read me Bible stories and I watched Bible stories onscreen.

But it goes deeper than that. God called me to Himself. He chose me. 

Many children who are now adults have many of the same ingredients to their origin story that I do, and yet they have never met God for themselves. Nor do they realize the value of who they were created to be.

To them, Jesus was just another topic around the dinner table, or maybe He is merely their parent’s “thing”. Here’s a common one, “He was a good man and teacher with good ideas but nothing more“. Calling Him something as wild as the Son of God on earth is like something out of a fantasy story, right?

I beg to differ. My life is not built on a fantasy, in fact, it has been quite the opposite. My life has been just as grounded and down-to-earth as anyone else’s.

I’m mature enough now to honestly tell you this, “I have a lot to learn.”

But there is one thing I am confident of in this crazy world of unknowns.

God is real Person, He is GOOD, and He called me.

How did God call me and how do I know it was Him?

God is the Creator of the Universe, He knows all things, He knows all people because He created all people.

He speaks your language before you do. Each person has a unique collection of interests and dreams that set them apart from others. Where do those things come from? From a Creator, Someone Who lovingly made you an individual.

He has a reason for you being here, a special purpose that only you can fulfill.He would choose us all if we would take Him up on His offer. We all have the opportunity to become one of the chosen.Some of us sa

Because I am a storyteller, God called me to Himself with the stories of the Bible. God touched my artistic soul with my love for the beauty of the world that I felt came from somewhere deeper. He used my strong memory and intuition to communicate things to me that some would say I was too young to understand, but I did.

At five years old I asked Jesus into my heart. And the joy I experienced on that day is something unearthly, my friends. It was like a shot of liquid excitement to the soul, so bubbling and fierce it almost hur

I have never experienced anything like that anywhere else. It was more real, more wonderful, and more powerful than anything we humans can create on our own.

Life in a fallen world happens, we grow and we are faced with pain, suffering, and broken people. Doubt enters the picture and creates room for lies that hide the truth of God’s love.

And tragically, a loving and kind Father becomes Falsely labeled as an angry and harsh judge Who barely tolerates our existence.

During my walk with the Lord for the past 19 years, I have fallen prey to many of the lies that made me doubt His love.

God as a “Loving Father” seemed more like a phrase used to sell Christian calendars rather than what God actually was.

I felt that He was far away, harsh, and constantly disappointed with me. I was really good at failing as a Christian/human, I must be a shame to Him. I didn’t believe I was going to hell, but I didn’t really think God liked me that much. Nor did I feel that I could trust Him with the deep needs and desires of my heart and life.

It's hard to live with joy and gusto when that's how you view your Heavenly Father. We live out of what we believe, so if you believe yourself to be unloved and a source of shame, guess how you live_ (1)

You live frightened, confused, angry, sad, judgmental, and empty. That’s how I felt so much of the time. And so have so many others.

This is not the entire summary of my walk with Him during those darker years, He still reached me where I would dare to open up to Him. But it was a slow, sometimes really painful process.

My heart was longing for more.

The things I had experienced as a child, the things God had used to call me to His heart were still in there, but they were buried. I had a deep heart cry, a question that I carried with me.

Is there more? God, are you more???

The Chosen series Season 1 gently inserts us into the lives of normal, broken people living in first-century Judea.

A rascally fisherman who has a wonderful wife and a good brother...who's up to his neck in debts and life or death troubles.

God feels distant and unreachable, while his problems are threatening to tear his life away from him. Does God really care about his needs, or has he already failed so badly that God will never acknowledge him again?

A broken and battered woman who has been mistreated, abused, and is thrown around by the demons who possess her...the darkness is suffocating her and she has lost her hope.

She once was loved, she once believed, but she has fallen so far, had so much taken from her. The words of prophecy regarding a Savior her father taught her seem like useless garbage in the face of her constant torment.

An autistic tax collector who is brilliant in his work...but a despised outcast from his fellow Jews.

He’s alone in his own little world where no one understands him, nor do they care. He’s considered a traitor to his own people, so why would God acknowledge him?

A highly respected and noble Pharisee who has spent his life learning and teaching God's law...and yet he continues to carry the question, _God, are you more__

Everyone around him seems content to carry on with the traditions they have been taught for generations, he desires to respect what he knows but he keeps hoping against hope that God is more.

As if life isn’t hard enough, Rome’s conquering presence is all around them, fear is a regular part of every character’s daily reality.

Quietly, a stranger named enters their world. He looks like them. He is from their country. He is a craftsman. He is a son. He is a brother. He is a friend. His name is Jesus.

And their lives are suddenly turned upside down.

You’d think that people who lived 2,000 years ago would have nothing in common with those of us living in this futuristic world of the 21st century. While the show creators do an excellent job of painting the first-century world with great detail and richness, the core elements of the story and characters confirm this: these people are just like you and me, and they are asking the same questions we ask today.

“Am I going to be okay?”

“How do I get through tomorrow?”

“How do I take care of myself and my family?”

“Does God actually care about me and my needs?”

“Am I worthless? Should I just end it and be done?”

“Is this truly all there is? I feel like there should be more.”

Israel was the nation of God’s chosen people. They had known God for literally thousands of years. Their story was God’s story, His miracles and words are a part of their very DNA and culture. You would think out of everyone on planet earth THESE people would have it figured out! Much like the Church today, you would think these people would understand God!

One glance at these characters in their various walks of life testifies for the opposite.

Simon (the fisherman) fears God’s judgment and believes in His disinterest.

Mary (the broken woman) feels forgotten and unloved by God. She’s too unworthy to be saved.

Matthew (the tax collector) struggles with anything he cannot explain, but this Jesus keeps doing the inexplicable. Matthew is fascinated, but he expects to be rejected by Jesus as he is by all Jews.

Nicodemus (the Pharisee) wonders if he is just an old fool for wanting God to be more. He also fears what his peers will say about him for seeking beyond what they already know.

Does any of this sound familiar? Whether you are a Christian or not, this is familiar to the human struggle with questions about God and our relation to Him.

I myself have asked many of these same questions, even though I have known God is real my whole life. Even though I met Him and His true heart at age 5, I still had/have questions.

And the older I got the more I became desperate for answers, much like The Chosen characters are at various levels of desperation when we step into their lives onscreen. 

Enter Jesus.

Let me show you something really special from Episode 4, The Rock On Which It Is Built. 

Andrew, brother of Simon the fisherman, comes to him in a flurry of excitement. He’s seen Jesus. “It’s Him, it’s the Messiah. The Lamb of God.”

“I don’t need a Lamb, I need fish.” is Simon’s reply. (The Chosen, Episode 4 – The Rock On Which It Is Built)

Simon is out of options, he’s so in debt to the tax collectors that if he cannot pay an exorbitant amount by the next day he will be taken to prison, or be killed. His family will likely fall into ruin without him. It’s an awful, awful circumstance to be trapped in. He’s desperate, and God seems to be ignoring him, and he believes he deserves it.

His brother and fellow fishermen help him cast nets all night. Nothing.

Jesus arrives on the shore of the lake in the morning following an entire night of desperate, useless fishing. See what happens.

At Jesus’ word, he lets his nets down one more time.

And his boat almost sinks for how many fish are in his nets.

Jesus watches in pure delight as 5 grown fishermen splash and scream for joy because their desperate need has been met by the Lamb of God.

This God whom Simon has been avoiding out of shame and fear came to him in his moment of need and loved him like no one else has, unconditionally and overabundantly.

He didn’t expect it. He didn’t think he deserved it. He as much as said he didn’t need a Lamb. He’s broken so many rules of the religion and done much that he knows is wrong.

If God is who Simon had expected Him to be, angry and judgmental and only rewarding of those who always “do” good, Jesus would have walked right past him without a second glance.

He doesn’t.

Jesus loves Simon so much, and that love is captured in this scene in such a raw and beautiful way.

smiling jesus

This kind, beautiful, compassionate, humorous Jesus is taking people by surprise. It’s both beautiful and sad all at once.

Our world and our perspective are so broken that we are truly taken by surprise when the Man who literally came to earth to die an excruciating death that we might be saved actually loves us

To see this truth of a loving, real-life Jesus played out on screen the way it is portrayed in The Chosen is shocking people, many of them Christians.

As for non-Christians, this is probably a new version of Jesus to you too.

What happened to that really solemn, super “holy” guy? Where’s the Jesus who is constantly put out by the disciples’ failings? What happened to that angry God who hates you because you are sinful? Whatever happened to earning your rewards, your favor, your place in the world? Whatever happened to someone wanting something from you before they help out?

You know, like how our world works. Whatever happened to the Jesus who barely tolerates us?

What is it with this guy who just shows up on people’s worst days and completely changes everything with a heart so kind it almost frightens our abused, broken hearts?

I know, it's the most bizarre, most insane, most upside-down thing in the world.

Romans 5: 6-8

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (ESV)

I can hear potential accusations from some very confused people in the Church.

That’s not really Who Jesus is, this is Dallas Jenkin’s (creator of The Chosen) version of Jesus, a watered-down mushy version aimed at getting people in the door without actually convicting them of their sin! 

ragnarok is it though

I can hear the doubts of people who are suspicious of all things Christian.

He can’t be that good, you all are just making up a really shiny story so that we get sucked in by a lie! And then we’ll end up as miserable as you all are because your God is mean! 

its a trap gif

To the first group, my brothers and sisters in Christ, I reply to your doubts and criticisms with my testimony.

In 2016 I was less than a year out of being graduated from high school, and I was searching for the next thing in my life. Little did I know that my world was also about to fall apart dramatically and everything I thought I could count on would be turned upside down.

It was at this time that my need to know if God was more began to burn to a point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I couldn’t bury it for fear that I would be disappointed.

That’s what had held me back all of these years, fear that God would be just as miserable as I thought He might be. Fear that the loving God I hoped for would just be another instance of my unrealistic idealism. And if that was the case, would I give up?

Perhaps it was because I was already asking a lot of new questions as a green adult that there was a new space for God to move in my life.

I believe He knew it was time, and I was ready.

One day I saw a documentary called Finger of God. It was about God and His heart for us, His Created Ones.

I saw things that blew my mind. I saw people being touched by a love so radical, so pure, so joyful, so unearthly that it changed the entire course of their future in a moment. I saw people being healed, inside and out. I saw people tasting what I had tasted the moment I had asked Jesus into my heart.

Radical, unearthly joy and a love so powerful that you can literally feel the warmth of on your skin.

As I write this it is a shiny new year, 2020. In the four years that I have lived in between that day in 2016 and now, I have walked the hardest, darkest, most shattering days of my life. 

And God has never been so real, so good, or so full of love. 

Logic says that if someone is going to fall away from God, it would be when the worst of life and people smack us in the gut and leave us bleeding out. We see this happen all the time. And we know the questions that get asked,

God, if You really are good then where are You? What happened? Why did You let me down?

But we are talking about human logic here, human logic based upon broken perspective and limited experience. God logic works differently, He goes beyond what we expect and loves us more than we know what to do with. He comes bursting into our worst moments in surprising ways. He doesn’t base His decisions upon a small window of experiences or choices, but rather upon His never-changing Heart for us.

I got desperate and curious enough to reach, and this is what happened.

I reached for the more of God, and He was RIGHT THERE! He always has been and He will never leave. Each day has just been another step into a relationship with Someone so sweet, so kind, so generous, so uncondi

Jesus was God on Earth, and He only did what He saw His Father (God) doing. He didn’t walk in His own agenda, He walked in His Father’s will. (John 5)

So to those who fear the Jesus portrayed in The Chosen, this is what I have to say to you.

The Chosen does not scare me because I already recognize the Jesus I see portrayed here.

I know this guy! I see the Heart of God that I have been getting to know apart from this show for the past 4 years!

In 2016 The Chosen was just a twinkle in God’s eye and Dallas Jenkins hadn’t even crossed paths with the idea yet. I cannot blame the Jesus I know on Dallas or anyone else involved with the show, because I have already met Him in my own life.

Let me clarify, The Chosen is not meant to be a replacement for Scripture. The creators of the show have said this repeatedly. The stories told in The Chosen, the miracles shown are 100% true. The characters were real people that even secular authorities will confirm existed.

Some of the arrangement of these stories and the fleshing out of these characters has been worked with and adjusted by a team of people to create a watchable show.

But I recognize the fingerprints.

There are more than just men and women working on this show, I believe that God’s Hand and Heart are woven into it as well. I think God is tired of seeing His children fear Him. I think He’s tired of seeing the lost people in the world only view Him through lies. His heart is bursting with love for us and by its very nature Love needs somewhere to go and someone to touch.

It's time to fall in love with the truth of Jesus. It's time.

Now, to the second group, my brothers and sisters of the human race who are not Christians.

I get it, there are a ton of really mean and really unhappy Christians out there. There have been so many instances of cruelty, harshness, and hurt in the Church. I get it, I have been touched by it myself. But to you, this is what I want to say.

So many Christians do not understand their own Father's love and heart, and that makes them miserable because they live out lies instead of truth.

Having worked with children in professional settings before, I can attest to the truth of this statement.

The children who are more confident in their parents’ love and their own identity in their family are far calmer, more secure, and less easily given to offence. They are far easier to get along with and they have a greater trust for authority. Often they take direction better and are teachable. They are more likely to treat those around them with kindness even if the person is different from them. While not perfect, they stand apart as someone enjoyable to be around.

The children who feel less confident in their parents’ love and their place are either very shy and insecure or very loud and insecure. Their feelings can be easily hurt, they are often harder to manage, and they expend a lot of energy trying to be admired or at the very least noticed. It’s harder for them to trust and harder to get them to respond to instruction or discipline. They can be mean very quickly and form fast grudges. These children, while every bit as precious as the first type of child, require a lot more energy and patience to be around.

There have been thousands of people throughout the history of the Church who have never understood their own Father’s love for them.

Therefore, they are miserable, and they often spread that misery to others.

That’s why. And on top of that, just know this, Christians aren’t perfect.

I, a Christian, make mistakes. I make choices that are wrong, sometimes consciously, just like anyone else. The difference is that because of Jesus inside of me, I am counted as righteous in God’s eyes and He looks on Jesus’ sacrifice of blood on my behalf, not on my shortcomings.

There is a whole array of characters shown in The Chosen that represent each one of us where we are at right now, Christian or not. We have only begun to meet them, and over more seasons (8 Seasons are planned) even more beautiful characters and more incredible stories will be shown.

As a summary for Season 1, this is the message I hope to convey to those reading this review.

If God isn't for us than what hope is there_ If you can't trust the God Who made you to love, I mean REALLY love you, who can you trust_ If God is only confined to what we tiny humans can explain, is He rea (1)

Each one of the characters represented by the above questions finds their answer.

And it’s the same answer I myself have found.

The answer is, and always has been, a Person. His name is Jesus, Son of God and Savior of the World.

Yeah, I know, it’s crazy different. Different from what we have known, what we have heard, and often what we have experienced. But to quote an awesome line in Episode 7: Invitations.

Get used to different.

Friend, whether you are already a Christian, or at least brave enough to read this whole article #youareawesome, this is what I want you to walk away with.

You do not have to be afraid of God.

You do not have to be afraid of His Son Jesus.

Love has come, and His name is Jesus.

The Chosen has created a beautiful open door for people all over the world to step into an introduction to get to know the beautiful, radically loving heart of Jesus our Savior and of our Father God.

God is already using The Chosen powerfully to reach people in some of the darkest places and in every country in the world.

People in Iran who have lived a life without hope are watching it. People in China living through the coronavirus are watching it. People living in the US who have everything and yet nothing are having their hearts broken open by Love.

God is the one on the move, but I believe that The Chosen is a beautiful vessel that He is using to bring forth His plans in the earth. I recommend it to anyone, regardless of your background.

If you want to give the first episode a watch it is completely free on The Chosen‘s YouTube channel.

You can follow The Chosen on:

Facebook

Instagram

YouTube

And you can download TheChosenApp for FREE to watch all 8 episodes of Season 1.

TheChosenApp on GooglePlay! 

TheChosenApp on The App Store!

Also, check out the gorgeous soundtrack on Spotify! This soundtrack has already made my “you’re obsessed with it what is your problem” list made for me by Spotify. I hope you enjoy it too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You Are Sitting Inside of an Exploding Firework

In July of 2015, I sat on the steps of our family friends’ home in the country and enjoyed a hearty 4th of July celebration. We had grilled hotdogs, grilled chicken, potato salad, watermelon, all the classic goodies! It was a comfortable temperature outside, lots of groups of people chatting pleasantly, playing with sparklers, just enjoying being free Americans having a good time.

Of course, once the sun started to go down, the fireworks began. Fireworks can be so much more fun up close. Can be is the key phrase here.

This particular batch of fireworks had a bit of “attitude”. For a while, all of the fireworks went off without a hitch, they shot in a proper upward direction and exploded in the sky where they would burn off and do no harm to innocent bystanders. I think we were being lulled into a false sense of security.

Then we got to the “fiesty” batch. First a firework sped off across the ground and started showering a lady’s parked car with little explosions. Lucky, the car was unharmed and we got a good laugh out of it.

Next, a firework sent little explosions over to an entire line of parked cars and started a small grass fire underneath our 15 passenger van. Again, the vehicle was unharmed, and people continued to laugh, even if they were getting a bit jumpy.

The steps I had enthroned myself upon on were further away from the drama surrounding the driveway and road. I was surveying the scene with distant amusement, withdrawn from the chaos and quietly chatting with the people sitting with me.

My poor little sister had had enough of the firework tantrums below, so she came up to the porch where I was to finish out the festivities from a “safer” vantage point. I remained seated on the steps with a friend and a bunch of small children who found the step seating to their liking. The sky was growing a bit darker, and there were a few fireworks left.

And then it happened.

The meanest rocket yet was lit, and it shot over to the left of the driveway, into the air several yards above the porch steps. You know that split second of delay that happens when a rocket is shot off, it reaches its destination, and then there is a breath before the explosions begin?

That moment was a mix of slow motion and fast-forward all at the same time. I saw it light, go flying, and stop right in front of me…wait a second…that’s gonna explod…

firework explosions

I am not a screamer by nature. Sometimes I literally have to force my body to scream just to let go of some pressure, and it’s an actual labor for me. I DO NOT react naturally.

There was no forcing of this screaming. It was flowing out me like Niagra Falls. One moment I was chilling on the porch steps, the next moment I was surrounded on all sides by a fountain of blazing green fire that was popping and exploding! It was like being in the middle of a massive lightsaber battle where I didn’t have so much as a toothpick, much less the Force.

The friend I was seated next to was clinging to me and screaming like a banshee. The tiny children who had shared the steps with us were also shrieking and crying.

I’m sure it only lasted a few seconds, but when you are literally taking a firework shower, it feels like an eternity.

I ran a lightning fast evaluation of the situation in my head as I sat there, screaming and surrounded by alien green fire. It was one of the most bizarre, practically out-of-body experiences I have ever had. It was like my mind was separated from the rest of me and I was casually observing this chaotic scene while my physical body was screaming bloody murder.

So, I did a mental evaluation. Fight or flight told me to run. My mothering instincts told me to grab all the babies around me and shield them. But I quickly came to the one and only conclusion…

…there was literally nothing I could do but wait the firestorm out.

I couldn’t run. I couldn’t jump. I couldn’t even help anyone else around me. I just had to sit there and outlast it.

There have so many instances since that day when I have felt the exact same way I did July 4th, 2015. In fact, I feel like I have been living inside of an exploding firework for the past 3 years. Everything blowing up around me and there is literally nowhere to go, and practically nothing I can do. Just stuck in the misery.

If you ever wonder why people turn to alcohol, sex, drugs, and any other number of vices or addictions to deal with their pain, I’ll tell you why. Because when you are hurting so badly you just want to make it stop. You want to escape from the chaos, you want a place where you feel something other than sorrow, fear, or anger. There are days where you get desperate enough you feel like you would do anything to make the pain stop, that’s why some people commit suicide. They get low enough and don’t see any other options, then the devil whispers lies in their ear that they believe are their own voice. And tragedy happens, a hurting person ends their precious life full of potential, and they never get to see beyond that moment.

Escape. We are wired to want to escape. We are wired to want to fight. We are told that if we don’t DO something, nothing will ever come out right in the end.

There is a time to fight with everything you have in you. There is a time to run and escape a fire. There is a time to get up and do something…

But here is a truth I have learned about life in the past 3 years.

Quite often, the very best thing you can do is simply sit still and wait.

We human beings think we can control so much of our lives. We keep up this illusion of control until something like a natural disaster, a death, or a change in circumstances quickly reminds us that so much of this life is outside of our hands.

That thought strikes fear into the heart of so many people. It has done the same to me before, but it does not have the effect on me that it once did. What changed for me?

I have an intimate relationship with the One Who truly has the power to change, and I KNOW that He is good. I “knew” it before, but I KNOW it now!

At that moment where I sat surrounded by green fire, I had to let go of every human thought about what I had the power to do. The truth was if I had tried to move, run, grab someone, anything, I would have been horribly burned.

Have you tried to fight against an impossible circumstance and been utterly burned out? Or gotten burned? Have you tried convincing a bullheaded person of something true and only managed to give yourself an ulcer and a headache? Have you fought for something that you may eventually have gotten, but you destroyed your health/relationships/life in the process?

We strive so hard to change things that we cannot change. We spend so much energy worrying over things we cannot control. We scream and we rage, we ache and we panic, and rarely do we sit still.

I am a fighter, so I understand all of the above. I understand it perfectly. However, I have a novel new idea to present to you all.

Sitting still and waiting is one of the most effective ways to fight an impossible battle.

I love a God of grace. A warrior God. A God of peace. My Heavenly Father wages battle on my behalf 24/7. He sees all, He knows all, He loves more broadly and deeply than I can even fathom. He has a plan for everything. He has unlimited resources. And this God, my God, tells me, “Baby girl, just rest. Daddy’s got this.”

When I sit still, I accept a universal truth that there are things beyond my control. I let it go.

let it go

There is an incredible freedom to be discovered when you drop the weight of a burden you were not made to carry. And it’s only after you drop that weight that you can enter into rest.

Rest. So many people associate rest with laziness. WRONG! Have you ever seen an alligator resting in the sun at the zoo? It’s unmoving like a statue carved out of granite. You might even squint your eyes to make sure it’s not dead. It’s so still you can’t even connect this lazy lizard with the stories of the lightning-fast attacks gators make on their prey.

I warn you, never underestimate a still alligator. Take it from a nature-doc nerd. Never. Underestimate. The. Speed. Of. A. Resting. Alligator. Or you might die. While that gator was resting, it was recharging. It’s aware of the world, but it’s not concerning itself with every little problem and detail. It’s preparing…preparing for the moment when it’s time to move.

And when it’s time to move, you will never see it coming.

I know the misery of being caught in a place where you feel sad every day. Where it seems like the bad news just won’t stop. Where you just want the pain to stop. Where you can’t imagine how anything is ever going to be right again. I know how that feels, and it sucks.

But I promise you, you can survive it. You can outlast it. You can fight it. And you can do all of that, by sitting still and resting.

It’s easy to lose your perspective when you are in the middle of the firestorm. The heat is as close as your right-hand pocket (thank Jesus I was not burned). There are things blowing up all around you and it’s easy to believe that it will never end.

But I promise you, dear one, I PROMISE you! You can outlast this firestorm. Because you are more enduring than the storm. It may be blazing and bright and hot, but you have patience. You have stamina. Your life is not defined by this single storm, your life is going to be an entire collection of journeys, storms, seasons, experiences, and people. You have a future beyond this moment. So hang in there. Let go, and rest.

Was I killed or maimed in that firework shower? No, because while an explosion of green fire may be terrifying, it burns quick and hot and then all that remains to haunt you is a little smoke. When the dust settled my friend was practically in my lap, the children were crying but unhurt, and parents were rushing over.

And I laughed.

laughing gif

Yes, it was that hooray-we-won’t-need-to-use-our-medical-insurance-tonight laugh. I have already visited the emergency room in that particular town on a different occasion and I do not recommend the experience. You could have taken the amount of adrenaline I had flowing and created a seventh Infinity Stone.

But I was alive and unburned. A bit smoky, very done with fireworks for the evening, and miraculously, my pants were still dry. It was a great story afterwards, and I remember that evening fondly.

As for the other firework showers in my life, they haven’t all ended. But that’s okay. Because I am resting. I am waiting. I am recharging. And when the moments come to move, to act, to fight! I will be ready. I am ready. Because I am laying down that which I cannot carry, and resting. The time may come to move before the storm is even over, but I will actually have the energy to face it now.

I know my life is bigger than this firestorm. I know that the same God who kept an entire staircase full of people safe and unharmed during a firework shower is on my side and He is working on my behalf. He’s bigger than any storm, and I draw my strength from Him and rest in His peace. My life is in this moment, but I also know it is beyond this moment.

Be still, and rest. Let the fire burn out before you do, your time will come.

Happy 4th of July, may everyone have a safe and joyful holiday!

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Hi, It’s Me, Real Life by Grace

I have been noticeably absent. I apologize. If you will, let me share my heart with you for just a moment. I promise, more goodies are coming this week. But this is a post I must write.

When I first began reellifebygrace I had huge ambitions for this site. I knew what I would write about, how I would grow it, etc. I had mental plans for building up step-by-step, celebrity interviews, so on and so forth.

It was gonna be big. And one day it would become a source of income. I would get to do what I loved AND make money at it. I would grow a huge audience, influence and create discussion with thousands of readers and fans. It was even going to help carve out a place for me in the film-making world as a career in film-making is my eventual goal.

I worked hard at it for months. I’ve never doubted my ability to produce excellent content, in fact, that is probably my strongest suit. I can spit out thousands of words in less than an hour; sometimes my brain is moving so fast my fingers can’t keep up. I also analyze movies very deeply, so I knew I was never going to run out of material.

But, it takes time to build an empire. And I am young and still learning a lot of new things. I’m still learning things like how to make an income, how to manage finances, how to give myself time to learn and grace to stumble. Plus, I got hit with some life-changing personal circumstances that have dramatically changed my everyday reality as well as what I saw for my immediate future.

Work required a lot of energy. My family required a ton of energy. I had chosen a non-college route for many practical reasons, and I do not regret that choice. But choosing a non-college route means that you do a lot of the foundation building yourself. You have to do the research. You have to put in the hours to structure things. You have to make the connections. You have to make all of the choices, nothing is done for you.

I’m not belittling the college-going crowd and all the effort they have to put forth. I know college requires work, commitment, choices, and discipline. But so does a non-college route where you have to build everything from scratch. This road is exhausting and terrifying.

As I was led in different directions, trying to start my own businesses, moving, dealing with my parents’ separation-now-divorce, losing a job I adored and coworkers that were like family, reellifebygrace got lost in the shuffle.

My life hasn’t been all falling buildings and rubble. My faith is stronger than ever. My loved ones related both by blood and by heart have held me up and walked through life with me. I have learned a ton of new skills. I am learning patience, dedication, and contentment; three things that I know will serve me well in any circumstance.

There are so many things that we assume will make us not “okay” if they happen. I’ve had a lot of my “okay” standards and limits either pushed outward or pulled out from under me entirely.

I have fought the fear of missing out my entire life. I was always afraid that I was going to miss the adventure, the action, getting to take the incredible journeys and do the big, cool things. I feared the mundane, the bland and the colorless. I was terrified that my dreams would be taken from me. I was terrified of committing to anything that would trap me.

Truth is, much of life is mundane, that’s just a fact. Without the mundane to maintain our lives and create a foundation, the rest of life falls apart. Mundane doesn’t have to be something to be feared, it can be embraced as something normal and comforting.

Bland and colorless. Who says even the ordinary things have to be bland and colorless? I can make the most boring afternoon more interesting by putting on The Greatest Showman soundtrack and letting a million dreams carry my soul to brighter realms than whatever “boring” task I am currently doing.

Dreams are a part of us, I believe they are put inside of us by God as a part of our DNA and our roadmap in this life. Dreams are not meant to be our masters, we were not made to be slaves to this all-important DREAM that rules our lives, wrecks our perspective and drives us crazy. No, dreams are meant to be followed with moderation, and never at the expense of something more important like destroying precious people.

But God gives us dreams. So why was I so afraid that mine would be “taken” away? God isn’t this big TAKER that He gets made out to be, He’s a GIVER. He’s the biggest Giver known to Mankind (heck, He GAVE His only Son to come and save me and my brothers and sisters in the human race).

Immaturity says:

Follow your dreams at ANY cost, it doesn’t matter how you get there, so long as the DREAM is fulfilled. It must look THIS way or it is a failure.

Maturity says:

Live your life, because every moment matters, no matter how mundane. Pursue the dreams with diligence, but never let your dream become your master. Enjoy life and embrace it, embrace people, and you will find the dream when the time is right. Or, the dream will find you in a way you never expected, and it won’t look the way you imagined. But it will be so much better than you could have ever guessed.

How does this fit into reellifebygrace?

This little old website represents a piece of a much bigger dream for me. I’ve been in love with movies my entire life. I have wanted to be a filmmaker for years. I have been a writer for years. Stories are my happy place, and sharing beloved stories with others brings me such immense joy.

This site was going to be a roadway to that dream. It was going to open doors, influence and connect with an audience, make me money. But then life happened, and I had to set this site aside for a while. In some ways, I gave up on it, in other ways I just didn’t have the bandwidth for it.

But as I have been embracing my new normal, I remembered this part of myself. I love this website because I love what it represents. I love that I use it to talk about stories, characters, feelings, messages, and hope. I love that I am myself on here, unafraid and open. It’s everything I love about movies, and it’s my own little space to open up.

I’ve learned that we can have a lot of our “okay” stripped away, and it often feels terrifying and incredibly raw. I’m never gonna tell you that it doesn’t hurt and that it doesn’t leave you spinning, because it does. It hurts like heck and I’m still dizzy much of the time.

At the same time, when a bunch of my “okay” standards were gone, I realized just how superficial they actually were. What I thought was carved in stone was actually just gouged out of clay. My identity and security couldn’t be based on clay, or stone, it had to be in something that would last. Something eternal.

As I have been placing my security, my hope, my identity in the hands of the Great Dream Giver, I have been discovering something else. I’m rediscovering me.

Because when you take your identity out of things that cannot hold something that important, when you redefine what success looks like, and when you learn that okay is not what you thought it was, it’s actually better. You get to find yourself. The real you, the one that is freed from superficial things, judgments, phantom fears, and lies. I thought I was losing something, and I have lost some precious things that no one should ever have to lose. But more than my losses, I am being given things.

So I came home. I came back here because I love this place. Because this site is important to me. Because I love what I do here. I do believe I will get to be a filmmaker one day, a storyteller at the very least. I don’t know how that will happen, but I’m not gonna be afraid of losing that dream. If it was truly given to me by the Giver, then He’ll make a way.

For now, I’m gonna be me. This little site may never make a dime, never get thousands of followers, I may never interview a single celebrity.

But that’s okay with me because I’m not writing for those reasons anymore. I am writing this site for myself because it makes me happy. This site is a part of me, and so when I have time, I will write on here simply because I want to.

And that, my friends, is real life” by Grace.

reel life by grace