Monday, January 19, 2015


There has been a lot of ideas running around my mind lately. Considering Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, some of them have been about love. I remember last year’s Valentine’s Day. I was going to the Christian Conference for college students called Passion. I was excited, because I knew I was not in a good place with my walk with Jesus.

I will be the first to admit that God and I haven’t always been on the same page. After the deaths of four hometown friends, I felt myself develop an anger that I didn’t know how to control. I loved God. I wanted to live my life for Him. I wanted to spread His word and be a light for Him. But I was mad. How could He just keep taking all of my friends? How could He continue to allow all of these friends and families to go through such terrible pain? Why? Why? Why? I can say that I have never felt a gut-wrenching, never-ending anger like that before. From August 2013 until February of the following year I was a mess. Thankfully, the words of Beth Moore at Passion brought me to reality. God gave this life to me. It was the first thing He ever blessed me with. It also is the only thing I have to spread God’s word to others with. I needed to stop questioning why He did the things He did, and just focus on spreading His love. I would get my answers one day, but right now was the time for me to focus on Him.

Totally amazing message that Valentines Day; I was truly in awe. And then I checked my phone and I had a voicemail from my mom. “Hey Brina, just calling to tell you I love you! (Dad’s voice in the background—Daddy loves you too!) yes, Daddy loves you too. I hope you have a fantastic, amazing, phenomenal experience and know Mommy and Daddy love you baby, bye pumpkin!” I’ve listened to this voicemail four or five times just today. Mom and Dad must have been on their way to Valentines dinner and called just to tell me they love me. Wow, what an amazing love they have for me. I don’t know how to describe it, considering I have never been a parent. But neither one of my parents went crazy when the November before I had admitted to them how much anger I had, how depressed I felt, nor how potentially suicidal I was. Neither one of them doubted that God would lead me and I would find my way again, so they just continued to pour out their love to me.

As I contemplate this love between a parent and child, I think of all the other types of love. The love between friends who have been ‘besties’ for years, the love between new found friends, the love between siblings, the love between a husband and wife, God’s love for us, Jesus’s love for us, our love for our Lord and Savior. Each love different, but still strong, stable, and capable of withstanding any kind of battle.

I feel like anyone who hears Valentines Day and the word love thinks of romantic love. I agree, I do too. But I’ve been thinking about this a lot on my trip to West Texas. And I have this new idea about love.

I have always been taught that God is love. That used to be my favorite verse. 1 John 4:7-8Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.” It’s a verse that is often taught during youth ministires, small groups, and in devotional books. However, if you skip just a few verses down it says “Beloved, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us,” 1 John 4:11-12.

When people ask why I am so nice, so sweet to everyone, so kind, I literally think of this verse and think of the love God gives us and wants us to give to others. As Christians we should have love for everyone. It’s hard to do, believe me, I know. But if God loves us so much, why can’t we love others the way that he loves? Unconditionally.

Valentine’s Day is a great day to celebrate the love within your romantic relationship. But it is even cooler if you can recognize the love within all of your relationships and remember God’s great love for us that can be seen in His son’s sacrifice. Don’t forget that we are all sinners, but God loves us anyway. Nothing we can do, can change God’s love for His children. So love everyone with the most edifying for Him, Christ-like way.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.”  1 John 4:7-8  

“Beloved, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” 1 John 4:11-12

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Sleeping With One Eye Open

Dolphins have always been a large part of my life. They were my favorite animal growing up; I mean literally, at birthdays and Christmas everyone always gave me dolphin themed memorabilia. I had the notepads, stickers, miniature desk see-saw with dolphins as the seats, posters, wall canvas’s, you name it, I probably had it. When I was really young, I can remember being out on the shrimp boat begging Dad to tell me when the dolphins came up to breathe so I could see them. I would sit on the bunk and just stare at the waves, hoping, wanting, yearning to just see one dorsal fin breakthrough the surface. I had never seen them before, just heard the fantastic stories at dinner. Of dolphins jumping the front waves of the colossal red tankers, of them swimming up to the boat when Dad was bringing in the net, of them soaring out of the water as they swam and played.

Interestingly enough, dolphins are the reason we found out that I needed glasses, that I really, really needed glasses! Dad and I were out on the boat, I was probably seven or eight. Dad got really excited, jumped up from his chair, and told me to watch the dolphins as he attempted to point them out for me. Standing inside the cabin, I couldn't make them out. So we walked out on the deck, and he tried pointing them out again. I struggled to see what he was talking about. Everywhere he pointed, I just saw water, nothing at all specific. He knelt down next to me and told me to look down his arm and right over his finger, right at the dolphins. Placing a hand over my forehead, I leaned forward, squinted really hard, and still saw nothing but water. Within a few short weeks, the school did their annual hearing and vision tests… low and behold I definitely needed glasses. Dad always stated that it was because of not being able to see the dolphins that he knew I needed glasses.

My parents always supported my love for dolphins. They even took all of us kids to the Natural Museum of Science, and we watched the IMAX documentary on dolphins. I was thrilled. It was the coolest thing I had ever watched. It was during this film that I learned that dolphins sleep with one eye open. They shut down one hemisphere of their brain and close the opposite eye. This enables them to watch out for predators that could harm their calves or themselves. Me being the infatuated child that I was (let us be real… I think I was like twelve at this time) tried for weeks to sleep with one eye open. Finally, I admitted failure and decided I would be the worst dolphin to every swim the face of the earth.

Just the other day, I was driving over the Fred Hartman bridge watching the Houston Ship Channel like the time I was watching for dolphins. I was instantly thrown back to those moments of trying so hard to sleep with one eye open. I thought about how I live my life now. How I feel like I am sleeping with one eye open. Waiting for the absolute unthinkable to happen again. To have my life ripped away from me in the most traumatic way. Or rather, not have my life taken, but to live again with the haunting of a casual day gone haywire. In that moment, I realized how faithless I was being. 

We shouldn't live our lives with one eye open, waiting for the improbable to occur. God says we will have trouble but to take heart for He has overcome the world. This life is so fleeting, therefore we should live it with the idea that everything comes and goes at some point. Happiness and sorrow. Joy and frustration. Love and hurt. Peace and turmoil.

As the New Year ensues, I encourage you to re-evaluate how you are living your life. How positive is your mindset? How uplifting to others and to yourself are you? Determine where the negativity is in your life, and eliminate it. Life is too short to focus on or wait for the bad things to occur, find the joy in every moment and remember to thank God for it.

“I have told you these things, so that in my you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33