Tuesday, September 27, 2011


sunday, i sat among 20something strangers with a sense of anticipation that almost split me at the seams. i didn’t know if it was the rest of shea’s lavender americano, or the lingering endorphines from my morning run, or the fact i had just met a mentor of mine in an industry i’m loving more and more every day, maybe a spiked temp from the cold i’m fighting. i attributed it to a combination of the four. it wasn’t until a few days later i realized - circles changed my life. i don’t know if it was the structure of the program, or the people i met through it (slices and leaders), or the season of my life - probably all three. all i know is somewhere between my first blog post and our grilled cheese sandwich party i exchanged a selfish, fearful, broken, knower of Jesus for a less selfish, less broken, lover of Jesus. i think back to our first few meetings as i struggled to remember names, and pair the faces with the blogs and random life facts. it happened so fast and it was so subtle - all the sudden they weren’t names and faces. they were family. i carried their burdens and danced at their delight. i experienced such a wide range of emotions with this group, i should probably be admitted. when it came down to it we committed to press on, to love limitlessly, to be available, ultimately to point each other toward the face of Christ and spur one another on to be better lovers of Jesus. this experience taught me what it means to be a christian - love jesus, love others. 
i couldn’t be more exited for the journey you have ventured on. it is beautiful and painful and exhilarating and exhausting. you will laugh and yell and cry and laugh again. be open, be available, be honest, be real, be selfless. 
:), 1.0 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

home sweet home

it all started last sunday when i walked into church not wanting to be a christian any more. well, lets be honest, it started waaaay before that but for the sake of your time and sanity, i’ll start there. ok, i lied. i’ll back up a little. background: the biggest thing i have learned from being involved in circles is how to be part of the body of christ. i’m still not totally dialed in on what my role or my place is or how we can have the same ends in mind with such seemingly diabolic means, but i’m learning. needless to say, it has been a challenge for me. my identity is in christ not in being a christian but learning how to be part of His church is a process i’m still stumbling through. thanks for baring with me. so, back to sunday. i walked into the center not really knowing why i was there. i was not looking for an “experience” that would change my mind. i didn’t want a stream of tears to fool me into thinking something had changed. i just wanted this to be real. i wanted consistency. i wanted authenticity. i wanted a genuine outpouring of His power and authority that came from death to myself and submission to Him and His will. not a hyped up pep rally to get others to join the Jesus train. i want us to experience the fullness of Christ out of the overflow of our surrender and the consequent emptying of our lives and resources and dreams and expectations. i’ve been burned by more christians more frequently and with far more intensity than any non-christian i’ve ever known. i see christians (myself included) and frankly, we aren’t living up to the example of freedom and authority and authenticity that Jesus set for us. our prize has become souls on the scoreboard of eternity or seats filled or tears shed or holy fist pumps or frequent use of spiritual idioms. no! 
our prize is Jesus. 
it isn’t what we can get from Him. it isn’t how He can change us. it isn’t the ways He chooses to use us. it is Him. just Him. if Jesus were to never allow us another “experience” with Him on this side of heaven would we still follow Him? i’m not devaluing the times we experience God or neglecting the ways He faithfully and graciously answers prayer but i’m wondering if that is what we desire or if what we desire is simply Him. 

so there i was in the back row, slightly distracted as i brewed on the injustices i had recently seen and experienced within the figurative four walls of the church. the sermon spoke directly to what i was wrestling with. if you weren’t there-listen to it online. but for the sake of this blog, it was essentially about how Christ has set a standard of excellence in the use of divine authority that we as the church have on several accounts failed to meet. it was a sobering check to our spirits, begging the question why we follow him-because he is God and worthy of our all or because of the cool things He does and can consequentially do through us? at the end darin apologized to those who had been on the receiving end of the shortcomings of the church. i bawled. i was so broken and honestly kinda frustrated. i felt like i had been on the receiving end of so many burns by people who claim to be passionate lovers and followers of Christ and i know that i myself have been the culprit of burning others. what are we doing? where are we missing the point? i know God met me there and reminded me of the human-ness of the church and myself. 
i left for NYC. bright eyed and excited for a change of pace and brief escape from that which was causing so much frustration-it was a much anticipated trip. i took a cab from the airport to the studio i was working at to arrive at what can be described as nothing less than absolute chaos. the reality that the men and women in this room functioned in was one that has become absolutely foreign to me. within the first few minutes of being in that studio i was given a much larger responsibility than i had signed up for and was faced with darkness at its very core. i felt like i was walking among corpses. i don’t know. people void of life. they walked and talked but there was nothing in them. nose bleeds were common among the models who’s cocaine habits seemed to not only be accepted but encouraged. the little rails of white powder might as well have been a ball and chain wrapped around the ankles of their souls. it was a place where people have no value and pleasure is god. the currency for success is measure in “good times” as defined by an ambiguous high or strung out passer by. unfortunately, many aspects of this scene used to be part of my story. if you were to tell the dannah four years ago that i would be raging with high ups in the fashion/beauty industry in an all expense paid trip to NYC you couldn’t have gotten me there fast enough. today and only by the grace of God, you couldn’t have gotten me out of there fast enough. someone asked me if i was “feeling tempted”, knowing this is something i struggled with in the past. and in some ways, yes, i was and in others i wasn’t at all. yes because this is my industry, this was supposed to be my scene. i love doing hair. i wanted to fit it. i wanted to have a good time. and in that atmosphere it felt like a good time was unattainable without getting wasted or strung out. on the other hand, i feel like God gave me the ability to see drug use and the over indulgence in alcohol for what it really is. i always saw those things as a gateway to a good time rather than a self destructive mask to disguise the pain and fear and pride in my heart. i finished the two runway shows and the editorial shoot i had committed to and got on the next flight to LA, two days before i was scheduled to come home. as we taxied the runway before take off i literally felt like i had been punched in the stomach. i really had no idea what had just happened-the trip was a whirlwind of darkness and fear and temptation and loneliness. the flight home was a sweet time of reflection thanking God for protecting me while i was gone, thanking him for bringing me out of the lifestyle i was in bondage to, thanking him for the flawed but faithful community he has allowed me to be part of, thanking him for grace, and thanking him for reminding me what life without him looks like. oh, and i apologized to God. i've got to stop threatening to walk out. i'm His, He's mine, nothing (not even my failures or being at the receiving end of someone else's failures) can change that. thanks, God, for sticking with me.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

i know He is working.
i don’t always
i rarely know what He is up to. 
it’s ok though.
i trust Him completely. 
i trust that He is using my circumstances, 
He is using you, 
He is using this place, 
to cause me to become a better lover of Him. 
my eyes are on Him.
my heart is in the palm of His hands.
i still ask why.
i still cringe at the discomfort.
i still shed tears.
but i’m learning.

Monday, April 25, 2011


i realize i haven’t blogged in quite a while and as i sit here to write there are so many things i have at my fingertips begging to be documented. 
my mom came and left california. two weeks. it was a whirlwind. the visit had great times and rough times. all in all, i love my mom and i am trusting that God is going to heal her in His time. 
i got to host a fundraiser for relief efforts in Japan. the event was tons of fun, i learned a lot about the value of team, about how much i enjoy event planning (which was cool), and what amazingly talented people i’m blessed to know. the whole process was a great perspective shift and grew in me a heart of compassion for those who are hurting (hurting in every sense: spiritually, emotionally, socially, physically). plus we raised just over $3,000! thank you for all of your support!
i went back to hawaii for a week to see the closest thing i have to a sister get married. she is beautiful from the inside out, she made an exquisite bride and will be a wonderful wife. spending time with my girls was AWESOME! we surfed and ate and danced and slept then did it over again for about a week straight! i also got to have a really healthy and productive conversation with my family. difficult but really allowed me to let go of some things and turn my expectations for them into anticipation of what God can and will do in my parents as individuals, them as a married couple, and us as a little fam! 
those things are great and i’d still love to talk to all of you about them but all i want to write about is sunday. easter was different this year. the air was thick with excitement and awe at the miracle of salvation and forgiveness of sin and new life and power and the majesty and all-encompassing greatness of our God. there were a few moments throughout the day i had to take a step back and remind myself to breathe. 
sunday won’t make as much sense without knowing what preceded it.  well, i just mentioned what the last month looked like in a nutshell. but it started when i went for a walk on the beach by myself at home. God speaks to me so clearly through His creation. i watched the sun rising over the ocean and the sky is slowly painted in colors that took my breath away. i heard the waves surging in and out around my ankles and my toes were buried in the billions of grains of sand that have been hand carved by the same hands that hung on a tree to pay for my sin and i just wanted to fall over and call it a day. is this real? breathless, my smile said thank you to God as i had just interpreted the scene as His love letter to me. he whispered back, you think this is beautiful but you are the apex of my creation. i’ve never felt so secure, so loved, so willing to give it all to just be with Him. i got on a plane and came back to california later that afternoon. 
wednesday came quickly. He is worthy. and i have never been so blessed to exalt His name with so many other recklessly abandoned worshippers before. i saw breakthrough and freedom and adoration in the hands and faces of those i was surrounded by and it felt like a little taste of heaven. wow. 
thursday night was dark. hey dannah, remember what a scum bag you were? remember the people you hurt? remember the mess you made? it’s unlovable, it’s unforgivable, it’s unforgettable. ah! in and of myself those things are true but it’s almost friday and i know exactly what that means...
what’s better than good? great? awesome? aljhfliuajfliduahefliaewukjhlkjh? lets call it that. aljhfliuajfliduahefliaewukjhlkjh friday! it’s beyond good. it changed everything. it took all the things i am accused and guilty of on thursday night and disarms them and restores a right relationship with the creator of the universe. wow. friday is an ever more beautiful love letter to me than the walk on the beach was on tuesday morning. as i left the house for the good friday service. carlee (the beast) asked where i was going. i told her i was on my way to church and she said but it isn’t sunday. i explained what good friday was and asked if she was still gonna come with me sunday (wondered if she had changed her mind since her mom said no). she said she would come and asked, wait, isn’t easter when Jesus was born? i explained christmas was when Jesus was born and easter in when He raised from the dead. she was freaked out. what?! he was dead, then he wasn’t dead?! thats weird... knowing she perceives death as the worst thing that could possibly happen to her i told her Jesus has power over death. she said she wanted that. i sat down to chat but she wanted to talk about it later. so i left for church blown away by how God draws us to Himself. Lord, let it be so for my family!
i’ve never thought about sad saturday much before. this particular saturday i was working all day. i was listening to music and a song that says, “the same power that conquered the grave lives in me, lives in me. You’re love that rescued the earth lives in me, lives in me”  came on. wow. He has given me great power that has come with a great responsibility/capacity to love. i want my family to know this power and this love. this power that breaks the bondage of sin and can raise death to life and can mend brokenness. this power that knows no bounds. this love that takes on every sin and hurt and injustice and hangs on a cross to pay for it. this love that accepts me exactly the way i am but loves me too much to leave me that way and transforms me to His perfect, beautiful will. this love that knows no bounds. saturday my aunt realized sunday was easter and apparently that and christmas are the two times she will go to church. so she decided her and the fam would come on sunday! :)
sunday is finally here! it started before dawn. 
think about that again. 
i want to be as awestruck as the beast was on friday. this is huge and i’ve allowed the resurrection to become common. it is anything but common. it is everything! 
i got baptized sunday morning at the beach. i met Jesus a while ago. i’m developing a relationship with Him. i’ve accepted Him as the only one who can save me from my sin and myself. i’ve surrendered my everything to His will. i’m committed to Him, to bringing His name glory, and to being emptied of me so others can see Him in me. baptism just seemed like the right thing to do. there is no other name i want to be associated with, there is no other cause i want to live for. i’m His and He is mine. it was an honor to publicly display the commitment i’ve made in my heart. i came out of the water with a renewed commitment to Christ and walking as the new creation He has made me. dannah, breathe.
through the creativity of nick benoit and the arts team, caleb and the worship team, and francis chan-Jesus hit this one out of the park! i was excited to hear the message before my family came for the eleven o’clock service. 
eleven o’clock rolled around i met my family in the parking lot. we sat down and the service started with a beautifully creative display of how when Jesus shows up-things change! the redundant purposelessness of life is broken and new life and freedom burst forth in colorful and often unexpected ways. dannah, breathe. i believe God spoke so clearly through francis chan. Lord, give us ears to hear. when the opportunity to respond rolled around my heart was about to beat out of my chest. it felt like my stomach was in my throat and i just wanted to know if they “got it”. i peered out of the corner of my eye. no one stood up. honestly, i was disappointed. i felt like i got kicked in the face. i was confused. Lord, why? He reminded me that their salvation is not my responsibility. He is drawing them to Himself. i will continue to love Jesus-they will see Him. 
the baptism started and my family left. bayley and her family were in the row in front of me and her family left at the same time. with the row to ourselves, we worshipped. my body couldn’t catch up with what was happening in my heart. dancing, tears, laughing, shouting, singing, stillness. he is worthy. dannah, breathe. 
exhausted-it was time for bed. bayley left and as i was brushing my teeth to hit the hay chase came back. he asked if we could talk. i had a feeling he wanted to talk about girls (something we have long talks about often...) and honestly wasn’t in the mood. there was a long pause and he broke the silence with “will you pray with me? i want to know God.” dannah, breathe. i started bawling. we sat on my bed and i told him what Jesus has done in my life and we read about when nicodemus sought Jesus in john 3 then we prayed together-a declaration of his need for Jesus, an acceptance of His gift of grace, and a commitment to live for Him. 

ok, so i wrote about more than sunday, but my point in all this is that revival is here. 
it starts in our hearts. 

Friday, April 1, 2011


why does God call us to be in relationship and community with one another? why are we supposed to share life together? i mean, the good times are good, but lets be real, life isn’t always good. its easy to share in the good times. its fun to walk together in life with someone who is experiencing the mountaintops and rose-tinted glasses. sharing in those seasons is seemingly effortless and doesn’t require much dependance on One greater than ourselves. however, it gets tricky when life throws a curveball and all the sudden the sun isn’t as shiny and an ominous dark cloud of reality is looming over head. 
i’d say nine out of ten of us (myself included) have the i want to help you feel better and fix this situation tendencies when faced with challenges and trials. this is where I wonder why we’ve been called to do this life together. wouldn’t it be easier to just hole up, avoid the painful conversations, eliminate the “hands and feet” of Jesus and isolate to a place with just me and Him? there is nothing anyone could do or say that could change the circumstances that have been dealt. ultimately, i am only under the graceful wing of God’s presence while walking though the impossible moments of life. He is God. He sustains. He gives mercy. He completes. 
my fear in doing life together is that others will be tempted to feel the need to make my circumstances better and i will want to fix the unpleasantries in the lives of others. that isn’t my job nor is it the job given to you. we are called only to love one another. sometimes is helpful just to know someone is there, someone is praying, someone cares. sometimes we will have no words, sometimes we will have no actions, always we point each other to Jesus-He is the only one with the authority or qualifications to carry us. 
another fear i have in the vulnerability that comes with being a committed part of the body of Christ is that i will be seen and valued by my story rather than who i am and Christ in me. life is messy (mine in particular). my circumstances may affect my mood or may cause temporary discomfort but i would never ever want my story to define me. i love a God who defies stories and circumstances and does the impossible. i want to be seen as His daughter-not a product of my circumstances.
long in short. i have good days and i have bad days. you have good days and you have bad days. i don’t have the answers. you don’t have the answers. Jesus does. lets point one another to Him and commit to loving each other through the good and the bad.
someone who can be with me through the highlights and through the shit storms is someone who sees me for more than my story and loves me for me and Jesus in me.
approaching someone with my anxieties or excitements before i’ve surrendered it and my heart to Jesus is setting that person up to fail by giving them a job intended for the Creator of the universe.
how much is too much, when are we not being transparent enough, and what are the “rules” of authenticity and vulnerability?

Thursday, March 31, 2011

hope to see you all there!
saturday april 9.
31 bits warehouse.
all proceeds go to relief efforts of the red cross in japan.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

it was only a few years ago that i sat on the floor of my bedroom with the very broken pieces of my life scattered before me. at that moment i couldn’t comprehend how God was going to take my brokenness and shame and pain and turn it into something beautiful and something that would bring glory to Himself. in that moment, none of those things made sense and seeing beyond the mess was nearly impossible. two years later, i know it is true. i know that nothing is beyond the reach of almighty God. nothing is too far, nothing is too big, nothing is broken beyond His hand of restoration. i know it because He has proven it to be true in my own life. He took my brokenness and shame and pain and turned it into an identity that is complete in Him and confidence in being a daughter of the King and a heart that is whole and wholly committed to Him. 
life circumstances that have come to light this week have tested my trust that nothing is too big or too broken for the hand of God to make beautiful and bring glory to Himself. i look at the “hand that has been dealt” and am tempted to think this is too broken or too far beyond the hand of God. while my past doesn’t define me, it has played a significant role in shaping who i am and how i see life. in this case, God is using my past to remind me of His faithfulness, of His power, of the fact that He is God and nothing is beyond Him. 
but as is consistent with His character, He doesn’t just want to reiterate a lesson He has already taught me, but He wants more. i am choosing to entrust my circumstances and the corresponding fears and pain that come with that to God not because i know He has the ability to make them beautiful, but simply because He is God. i wrestled with Him this week and came out the other side out of breath and with an eerie freedom that came with my commitment to Him: whatever happens, if You choose to make this better or not, You have my heart. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

a picture is worth a thousand words

the more i love Jesus, the more i want to spend time with Him.
the more i spend time with Him, the more i love Him.

i tend to complicate the very simple principles of love and relationship. for us visual learners, i am grateful for the imperfect yet beautiful image of how marriage is supposed to be a picture of Christ and the church. imagine a wife who readily proclaims her love for her husband yet neglects every opportunity to spend time with him, or a husband and wife who never spend time alone and are always surrounded by others, or a husband and wife who never just lived-they always had an agenda or a schedule. sounds absurd? yeah, and i'd say hardly a relationship. how then, could i claim to love Christ and forgo any opportunity to spend time with Him, or be satisfied simply with corporate worship and neglect the intimacy of spending time with just me and Him, or always hearing from/about Him though a book or study rather than taking a moment to just sit at His feet? i can't.

the more i spend time with Him, the more i love Him.

being in the word has a profound effect on how i view God. i tend to forget that when i slow down and listen, He will speak. today was great. while my intentional time to spend with God isn't limited to once a month, i love third wednesday. conveniently, my school is closed every third wednesday of the month so i really have the entire day to intentionally press in and thank God for the over abundant blessings He has given me, seek His heart, to fall before and intercede on behalf of the lives and circumstances He has put before me. today, i feel like i got a glimpse of His heart and my only response can be to love Him more.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

reverse mission

i see God in the unexpected. He constantly surprises me. there are no off limits places in my life or this world that have been roped off to His Spirit using to speak. who are we that we think we can dismiss things from being used in a powerful way by the creator of the universe?  
“this reversal is the sign of God’s Spirit. the poor have a mission to the rich, the blacks have a mission to the whites, the handicapped have a mission to the normal,  the gay people have a mission to the straight, the dying have a mission to the living. Those who the world has made into victims, God has chose to be bearers of good news.” 
-Henri Nouwen
i have been part of a few conversations this week about this “reverse mission”. 
the first was with regard to christian/worship music. some were critical of the way that worship has become an “industry” and all together avoided it out of not knowing the heart behind it. however, if our hearts are in a mode of worship-the music shouldn’t matter. even if the lyrics are contrived to sell records, those whose focus is Christ won’t be faltered. what i’m saying is God is big enough to speak through music to a heart that desires to hear from Him regardless of the initial motive behind it. 
the second was concerning the present season of lent. some defended that the observation of lent isn’t found in the Bible and dismissed it as seemingly unimportant. true, the bible makes no mention of lent, but does that dismiss God from using this season of sacrifice and seeking Him? nope. preparing our hearts by means of prayer and fasting to celebrate the resurrection of Christ is a beautiful thing and I trust that God will use it in countless lives of those who chose to observe it.
the last was about my passion to do hair/be part of the beauty industry - an industry saturated in self centeredness and vanity. women (and men) spend absurd amounts of time and money on the way they look. many of them find their value in the way they look and if they have the trendiest haircut and designer jeans. i’m in the throws of it. i know that an individual's value lies in who Christ says they are, not their jeans or their a-line bob. but i’m still the one that sells highlights and a-line bobs. i spend between forty-five minuets and two hours with each person on my books. i have anywhere between forty-five minuets and two hours to listen to my client and speak truth about beauty and value to them. a salon - a seemingly unlikely place to encounter God, but i’ve seen it happen and i am honored that God would use the time and place to glorify Himself.
i have no control over those who exploit the christian music industry to sell records, or those who have made lent nothing more than a trendy thing to do within their christian circles, or the stylists who will manipulate the insecurities of their clients. what i do have control over, is surrendering my all to Jesus - that He has full control and authority to use me, my culture, my circumstance, my music taste, my hobbies, my friends to speak and glorify Himself.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


i’ve recently become overwhelmed by how much God loves me. it knocks the wind out of me. my understanding of love is so limited but, His is perfect. 
at life group on monday i said something that struck a chord inside me and i’ve been wrestling with it since. we read the first 18 verses in james chapter one and began to discuss if trials come from God or if He merely permits them to happen. some said that only good things from God therefore, trials weren’t from Him. i said that being sick was God's best for me. as i continued to listen, i realized that times of trial have produced the most growth and consequential goodness in my life. i can really appreciate God’s character - His grace, love, unchanging-ness, beauty, goodness, perfection, faithfulness, tenacity, sacrifice, etc. because of those seasons of trial. let me explain.
on sunday, amy said that she had never been so full of gratitude than when God had blessed them with furniture for their new home. she didn’t understand why this circumstance had her more full of thanksgiving than any other and she felt God respond that she had never allowed herself to be in that much need before. 
a couple years ago, after my season of sin came to light - my world crumbled. i couldn’t see beyond that moment. i had made a huge mess and hurt people who i love and coming back from that moment seemed like an impossibility. my mom came out from hawaii to santa barbara. rewind, my mom and i have a complicated relationship. she has been an alcoholic for my whole life. she goes through seasons of sobriety and seasons of “off the wagon”. when she is sober-my mom is, hands down, my favorite person in the world. neither of us are perfect and our relationship has been marked by grace and love. back to my life in ruins. my mom shows up and says, “dan, i’ve made lots of mistakes in life and have received more grace than i deserve. i know what it is like to need grace, i know what it is like to receive grave, so i have open hands in giving it. i forgive you. lets figure out what to do from here.”
while i appreciate the value of blessings and “mountain tops”. i understand that God is more concerned with my holiness than my happiness. it is the times when i’m in desperate need, when i’m confused, when i’m hurt, when i’m at the bottom of the pit, i find peace, joy, love, grace, patience in the arms of Jesus. without the need, how can we appreciate the gift of His presence?
as far as the theological question of the origin of our trials - does God permit the trials or does He bring them? i’m not sure. but what i do know is i see His fingerprints all over my circumstances. He loves me enough to allow me to get “found out” and give me a second chance at life. He loves me enough to allow me to learn about grace through my relationship with my mom. He loves me enough for me to get sick and lose a job in an unhealthy environment to free up my time to spend with Him and establish friendships with you all. the more i understand His character i can trust that He is up to something far more beautiful than i am capable of comprehending upon first glance.

He is jealous for me,
Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree,
Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy.
When all of a sudden,
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory,
And I realize just how beautiful You are,
And how great Your affections are for me.
And oh, how He loves us so,
Oh how He loves us,
How He loves us all
We are His portion and He is our prize,
Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes,
If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking.
So Heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss,
And my heart turns violently inside of my chest,
I don’t have time to maintain these regrets, 
When I think about, the way…
He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Whoa! how He loves us,
Oh how He loves.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

first of all, thank you guys soooo much for praying for me. i’m feeling MUCH better. with the exception of a small cough, i’m pretty much 100% better. 
being sick has changed a lot of things for me. i lost my job because i was out of work for too long. i was originally working full time at a salon during the day and going to school at paul mitchell at night. post being sick, i am unemployed and granted my financial aid goes through, i’ll be switching to school full time during the day. in the mean time while my financial aid processes, i am doing nothing. literally, i have nothing to do. i’ve been looking for part time jobs at night but with such limited availability, that too has been a challenge. 
this isn’t what i planned on. 
i’m a runner. when things don’t go as planned, i usually just bail and make a new plan. that isn’t something i readily admit about myself but, its true. based on my past experience, now would be the time for me to change my circumstances. sometimes i move geographical locations, change my job, change my haircolor, dump my boyfriend, i make some drastic change that will hopefully make me feel better. changing these things distracts me from what is going on but usually has no lasting effect in making me feel better. 
rewind, when i moved to santa barbara from hawaii in 2005 i started a whole new life. with the freedom of starting a new life came the opportunity to make lots of choices. i got myself into a lot of trouble. i made some huge mistakes. mistakes that will have consequences for a long time. my past is something that has contributed to my tendency to change my circumstances when things don’t go as planned. i’m constantly on the run, sometimes physically, but almost always emotionally and consequentially. my past is something i feel i am always fighting.
being sick knocked me on my butt and left me with nothing but me and God. i avoided Him. partially because i felt like crap and partially because i know that He has a lot of hard work to do in me. it wasn’t until the third week of being sick that i actually spent intentional time waiting to hear from the Lord. i’m a work in progress. He had lots cleaning house to do but mostly i heard Him say that He loves me. 
yesterday i partook in third wednesday. prayer and fasting is powerful. i know that when you set aside intentional time to meet with God, He will ALWAYS show up. when i seek Him, He is always readily found. for the first time in a long time i don’t feel like i am running from anything. my past is what it is, my past. God is healing me. He is doing a new thing. i still don’t fully understand why i am in orange county or what He is doing with me here but i’m going with it and trusting that God has a bigger picture in mind and He loves me. 

thank you guys for being part of this journey of healing.

Friday, February 4, 2011


my body betrayed me this week. it started with a rash on my face then an abscess on my chest and a 103 degree fever and the chills. after two rounds of intravenous antibiotics, lots of fluids, and all the jeopardy i ever care to see again i went home diagnosed with a staph infection. day three of my antibiotics and i was feeling worse. despite my protest, my family made me go back. round two at the hospital: my oxygen saturation was low and i have been pretty wheezy (which wasn't a concern for me considering i'm an asthmatic). apparently it should have been a concern. after more blood tests, chest xrays, and more antibiotics i'm informed on top of having a staph infection, i have pneumonia. i'm tired. my body feels like its attacking itself. i'm lonely. i'm discouraged. i'm sick of being sick. honestly, i'm not sure what God is teaching me through this season of infirmity. i trust that he slowed me down and kept me away from my family and friends and out of work and school for the last week for a reason, just not sure why yet. maybe i'm just too drained to really be listening...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

back to reality.

i hadn't been home in a while and i was so looking forward to family time, catching up with friends, bon fires, bike rides, and the beach. my trip turned out to be so much more than that. the highs were high but there were some pretty harsh moments. i have a group of 4 "best friends" from home that i have been friends with for as long as i can remember. in the six short days i was there, i went shopping for one of their wedding dress, spent the night on the beach with two of them, and listened while the other one told me she is gay. like i said, ups and downs. these are my girls, we have all changed so much. when did this all happen? how did we get here? yesterday, my flight got delayed 6 hours. after spending about 14 hours between the airport and airplane, i had replayed the entire trip in my head a dozen times. yet, i'm still reeling. after work today i sat down to listen to the orbits podcast. while i still have a billion questions about how we all got here, i learned a few things about my own story. my birthday is on friday and i have over the course of the past week mentioned more than once that i thought i would have accomplished much more at this point in life. there were three elements of the discussion that helped me process how i got here and determine where i'm going.

1) success and failure. discontentment with "how much i haven't accomplished thus far" is a mirage that will keep me in a state of discontentment forever. my past is littered with a series of failures. i stumbled through a season of my life and made quite the mess along the way. in the same way darin could be "grateful" for the dissolution of his parents marriage, i am thankful for my failures. if i could go back and not fail, that'd be awesome. but i can't. i also can't imaging taking the next steps of life without the lessons God taught me through my failures. success has been learning from my mistakes, knowing that God is God, and submitting to His best.
God can redeem it ALL.

2) image building. mine was the story of the snowball. "i'll alter this story or this part of who i am to make me more appealing, no big deal." one thing led to another... my biggest failures in life stemmed from image building. learning that Christ has defined who i am and my worth lies in Him has changed my life RADICALLY. seems elementary to the christian faith, but was a truth that became reality to me relatively recently.
it's not about what i've done, it's about who i am becoming.

3) relationships. relationships are everything. my relationship with God, my family, my friends-these have shaped me into becoming me. in the midst of the mess i had made i discovered i was loved by a God, was blessed with a family, and had made friends who created a place for authenticity. it was the beginning of new things for me. these people had seen me live my "story" but saw me for much more than a story. they had earned the authority to speak into my life and break down walls that had encamped the parts of me i didn't want anyone to know.

which brings me to circles. relationships are everything. i know that God will use your story to teach me how to love limitlessly, how to trust that God is God, how have joy and peace when it is all spiraling out of control around us, how to be committed to the body of Christ in a way that allows for sincerity and authenticity that leads to true community. i'm committed to you all. i look forward to learning from you!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

dannah bradel christensen. this afternoon, i will be getting on a plane and going home (hawaii) where i haven't been since i spontaneously moved away ten months ago. this morning, i woke up early and took my cousin, whose family i live with, to her early am water polo workout. i live in newport beach, ca and spend most of my time attending class at paul mitchell the school and working full time as a salon coordinator at images in corona del mar. let's rewind.

i was born on jan 28, 1987 here in newport beach where both of my parents grew up and all of my extended family resides. in 1992 my family packed up and moved to hawaii. it was a bumpy transition but one i am so glad they decided to make. i grew up on the north shore of oahu doing things most kids do: surf, eat, sleep, surf, eat, sleep. it was great! in high school, i did it all. i was on the soccer team, student council, debate team, cheerleading squad and somehow still found time for the surf, eat, sleep routine i had been programed for. it was in high school that i became a christian. i had known who Jesus was but i didn't establish a relationship with Him until my freshman year in high school. in the summer of 2004 i went to malawi for the first time. it rocked my world. going into my senior year of high school i had with me a whole new set of priorities and the world that i was once blind to had come to the forefront of big life decisions i was about to make. it was at this time i decided to go to westmont college in santa barbara, ca in the fall of 2005. i made another trip to malawi the summer before i started at westmont where my passion to love those affected by HIV/AIDS was reaffirmed. i attended westmont for three semesters before i transferred out to a local community college and got my AA in political science. however, school wasn't "clicking" for me. it wasn't too hard and i wasn't not doing the work. i just dreaded it. not normal dreaded, like felt purposeless kind of dread.

thats when i moved back to hawaii. i was determined to find my nitch. after a few internships, lots of introspection and lots of "getting out there". i think i found it. i started working as an apprentice at a salon. i LOVED it. i love the salon, i love doing hair, i love the one on one time i get to spend with the person in my chair, in an industry fixated on the outside i love the opportunities to remind myself and those around me that beauty is much deeper than that. i just love it. it all changed again when dave (my best friend from santa barbaras boyfriend) called. he had a ring and was going to propose and really wanted me to be there for it. so, i hoped on a plane and came back to cali, a trip that would be much more significant than i had anticipated. i ended up getting a job while i was here on vacation and didn't get on the plane home. it was a huge move. i've grown more in the last ten months than i have in a long time.

which brings us back to today. today, i'm going home. don't worry, i'll be back.

things i love:
doing hair - i prefer cutting over color but i love both
watching my cousins play baseball/water polo
frozen yogurt - tart with strawberries
the ocean - playing in the ocean
HIV/AIDS ministry - it is more than a statistic
malawi - i can't wait to go back
running - i've run 2 marathons
baking - cupcakes are my favorite thing to bake

things i don't love:
snakes - my family has a pet snake i named jake
when people don't use their turn signals - or when they leave them on and aren't turning
being cold - i'm always cold
shellfish - i'm allergic

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

you are the only one i need
i bow all of me at your feet
i worship you alone
i live in a culture that has a billion things vying for my attention. the latest and greatest everything from phones and cars to abs and butts to boys and status. i can’t keep up with it all. there is a sense of relief and conviction in knowing the only object of my worship should be jesus. relief because i can let the car and the abs and the boys go and cling to the one who my heart was designed to worship. convicted because i know that although jesus should be the only object of my worship, he isn’t. what do you do when you know what not to do, but you do it anyway? even paul had the same dilemma. he writes to the romans,
7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.
it’s the beginning of january. there are a handful of goals i set for myself to accomplish in the next 365 days a few habits to kick, a few to pick up, and lots of learning along the way. the over-arching goal i have for 2011 is to be satisfied completely with jesus. probably one of the most terrifying but most meaningful and rewarding to date. i know that the cars and the abs and the boys are fleeting. i know that they are incapable of satisfying the part of my heart that has been designed by my creator to be filled with him. however, i still find myself cramming the fleeting objects of my attention in the god shaped void in my life. this brings me back to the struggle, “for what i want to do i do not do, but what i hate i do”. and round and round i go. where do i go from here? paul continues,
8:3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
the answer: live according to the spirit. live supernaturally. not in a crystals and clairvoyant kind of way, but in a way that is fruit of god in us. we are no longer bound to the natural tendency to worship the temporal, tangible objects of my attention. when jesus came, he gave the power to live outside of our sinful flesh. john piper puts it this way,
Our spiritual mindset determines our walk. The power of the Holy Spirit to impart life and to change what we value and treasure and desire changes the way we live or walk. From hostility to life to a spiritual mindset to a new walk according to the Spirit.
this isn’t a pull yourself up by your bootstraps kind of job. this is a call on creator of heaven and earth, one who raised from the dead, one who holds all power in his hands, secure my life and enable me to live in a way that reflects your lordship. may the things i value, the objects of my worship, be reflective of such security. here’s to living supernaturally, to being content with who i am in christ, to worshipping the creator, not the fleeting objects of my attention.