Tuesday, April 20, 2010

new blog site...

The blog has moved. Please click here to visit the new site!

I'm MOVING...

It's been ten months since I began blogging and it has been such an awesome experience. In the past couples months I've listened to your suggestions and tried creating a blog that was more user-friendly and aesthetically pleasing.

I'm so excited to announce that tomorrow I'll be moving to a new spot!

Here's a small snippet of the promo video that will be on the page as well:
The video was produced by the ever-amazing Drew and Chad from Shade Tree Films. They are totally amazing and if you need any video work, they are the best visual storytellers I know. Check them out! (Note: the video that made me fall in love with their work is actually a wedding video but they did such a good job at capturing the feel of the moment that I wanted to use them for my personal video. Check out this page on their blog and watch The Kidds wedding. Uh-maz-ing!)

Thanks for your continual support and love. I look forward to more conversations, debates, and comments to push us about thinking differently and living wisely.

Cheers,
B

Monday, April 19, 2010

guessing leads to caffine fix...

I'll be posting about the awesome conference in San Jose later, but I have something to announce!

If you can guess what it is, you'll win a $25 giftcard to Starbucks and an eHug ;)

Happy guessing...

*Edit to post: AP from Los Angeles and Suzanne from England have tied :) Both answered the correct guess: a blog design! Email me your addresses and I will send the crack cards, er, I mean coffee cards your way ;)

Friday, April 16, 2010

post-it project...

When we compare our lives to others, it may be disillusioning. But there is a healthy introspection that comes from acknowledging what you have in light of the blessings God has given. Therefore, give back.

In the midst of the craziness of life, I don't want to forget my commitments to serving a cause greater than myself. As I've mentioned in a previous post, I have been invited to go to Africa this summer to partner with Mavuno church in Kenya. This adventure is exciting and nerve-wrecking all at the same time. In order to be a participant on this trip each member is required to fund raise 100% of their financial support.

There's a nasty little monster that hangs on my shoulders and his name is Pride. I hate asking for help--especially financial help. But the premise and core ideology of Outreach is to invite others to join in on our journey. With your financial help you're able to participate in this adventure with me. The Post-It Project will give you a small way to be where I am.

For ten days a group of youth from Orange County will join with a group of youth from Kenya for total world domination! Well--something like that. Here's some vision for the trip:
If you want to help and support the trip, here are some simple steps:
Go to http://www.marinersoutreach.org/giving

Click on the link that says "Give towards a Faith Adventure"
Step 1: Fill in your information.
Step 2: Designate Faith Adventure Donation
Team Member Name: [Bianca Juarez]
Trip Name: [Kenya, June 2010]
Step 3: Fill in your account information.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

100 words on the granola syndrome...

Beware of the Granola Syndrome in church. Yup, you heard me, thee Granola Syndrome. People walk into church as a fruit, a nut, or a flake.

A fruit: healthy, alive, bearing other fruit.
A nut: enough said. (We know those people so we'll just stay PC on this one.)
A flake: tried God, didn't work, gave up. Yes, a flake.

Here's hope for the nuts: nuts can bear fruit! But they need to be rooted, grounded, and watered with Living Water.

Our responsibility is to spread health within the walls of our church. For the building is not the church; we are the church.

So--what are you? A fruit, a nut, or a flake? Keep it real.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

rituals, check lists, and burnout...

May you experience the love of Christ, through it is so great you will never fully understand it. Then you will be filled with the fullness of life and power that comes from God. --Ephesians 3:19

There needs to be a followup; an explanation of sorts. After reading yesterday's comments (I read every single comment), I couldn't help but feel an addendum had to be added. Though no one said it, perhaps I was too harsh. My intention was not to add one more item to your checklist of holiness nor was it my aim to compare our "performances" against other Christians. My goal was to simply say, Life is hard. Hang in there and you'll see results.

Desirous of encouraging us complainers, I think I may have perpetuated the failure cycle we as Christians fall victim to:
Performance --> Rituals --> Checklists --> Failure --> Guilt --> Withdraw --> Emptiness*
We don't need to do more "God-stuff," as Doug Fields would say, we need connect with God.

When we connect with God (John 15:15), we can admit that we are jacked-up sinners who will fail and complain (Romans 3:23), and come boldly before Him to ask for mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:15-16a). Doug also put a list together about connecting with God that I would feel selfish for not sharing it with you.

Connecting with God...
It's not about ritual... it's about a relationship
It's not about performance... it's about presence
It's not about a "show"... it's about showing up
It's not about "have to"... it's about "want to"
It's not about guilt... it's about grace
It's not about form... it's about friendship

Love you. Pray for you. Grateful for you.

*Cycle produced by Doug Fields

Monday, April 12, 2010

life change hurts...

Life change hurts. But if you want change, deal with the pain. Period, the end.

It's no secret that I love to workout and strive for the great new exercises to try. I've found an awesome gym near my house that offers amazing cross training by a fitness coach who not only loves what he does, but loves his clients. He not only cares about changing what you look like, but he cares about how you feel.

At 5:30am a small group of women arrive at NextLevelFitness before the sun comes up because we want to change. We are committed to change. We are paying for a change. But there's a woman who habitually complains about every circuit we do.
Push ups? Come on! Run around the building? It's cold. Lunges? My ankle hurts.

A few weeks ago the workout was particularly challenging. As we switched from one station to the next, we were all tired. Kathie was so tired she crawled to the next station, I leaned over the ab bench trying to catch my breath, and the other women adjusted to their new station. The Complainer? Well, she refused to do the next station: push ups.

What I said: [inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale]
What I said in my head: Look honey, we all are hurting. We have a choice as to whether or not we want to change. If you don't like it, don't come. So just shut up and get do the push ups!

(Not only am I unsympathetic at 5:30am, I'm have a low tolerance for complainers.)

Hebrews 12:11 says, "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." I couldn't help but parallel her complaints with our own complaints in spiritual living. We ask God to change us, mold us, break us so we can be used, but when he does, we complain and fight back.

If we simply trust him and do what is needed to change our lives, Hebrews tells us it will produce a harvest of righteousness.

Today I saw the fruit. At the end of our arduous workout, Joe decides to kill us (aka give us one more circuit). Oh yeah, it had push ups. I was waiting for a comment from The Complainer, but she got on her hands and began doing push ups. Like REAL push ups. I watched her out of the corner of my eye and was so proud of her! All the workouts had paid off and she realized the instruction for our trainer was right and beneficial.

How can you daily submit to change? Are you The Complianer or are you a trainer? Whatever station you are at, keep at it! Whether your instruction comes from life coach, pastor, mentor, or daily biblical instruction, listen. I promise you--the results are worth it!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

friday video blog: imparting vision...

Imparting Vision to Gen Y from Bianca Juarez on Vimeo.

J. Vernon McGee says, You should never stand behind the pulpit without being able to say, "Thus sayeth the Lord." I wish I would have heard this quote before I responded capriciously during a recent interview.
Reason #829,827,410 why you should pray before you sit down and open your mouth.

If I am going to say anything, if I'm going to impart knowledge to anyone, if I am going to steal someones time, it should be under the auspice of giving away God's goodness. In an era of entertainment and diversion, how do we impart a vision and hope to our next generation that they are not forgotten.
We need to take ordinary and mobilize them to do extraordinary things because of an extraordinary God.

My words to the next generation are not to read a book or follow 10-steps, but rather look at my generation and the generations before and do what we COULD NOT DO. For the mistakes we've made or the foundation we laid, do your part.

For those in my generation or the generation before, what are we doing to live our and create a legacy? We only have on life to live and soon it will be passed. Only what we do for Christ Jesus will last.

What can we do? What are you doing? Do not fret. We are ordinary people serving an extraordinary God.

not sure i said yes...

Atop the veranda at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles, Matthew Olthoff asked me to marry him. And I'm not sure I said yes.
Rewind.

Three weeks ago I started snooping around and asking subtle questions about my birthday. As coyly and coquettishly as possible, I tried discovering the master plan for my birthday experience. After a few days of failed discoveries, I flat out asked what we were doing for my birthday in an exasperated tone. Oh, that's right, he dryly stated without lifting his eyes from his computer screen. Your birthday is coming up.

Without getting into reasons as to why I ignored him for the full hour of Project Runway, I will say I was internally cooling off and trying to love him in spite of his lack of care, waning love, and overwhelming apathy. But I was so angry.

It felt as if he didn't care. He didn't love me. He had taken for granted who I was in his life and I was now officially part of his office furniture. And, if I'm being totally honest with you, this made me question staying in our relationship. If he can't love me the way I need to be loved or the way I love him, I confessed to my mother, I'm not sure he is the one for me.

Fast forward.
Tuesday, April 6th
Arriving to the Getty was like arriving to the Disneyland of nerds. And I felt at home. Matt and I sat on a bench with a pastry and hot beverage and talked about life, the blessings God has given me, and how special he made me feel. I still had no clue he was proposing.

After a few art collections had been viewed, he pulled out another present for me while we sat on the lawn of the Getty garden. It was a book I've wanted but couldn't find. Score! Under the golden California sun we read and laughed and chatted about things we loved. I still had no clue he was proposing.

He packed an amazing lunch with various cheeses, salads, drinks, and love. He insisted we move to a new location for lunch. Begrudgingly I complied, but did so while complaining about leaving the perfectly great spot by the tree.

Atop the veranda with the Hollywood hills, downtown LA, and the Pacific ocean as our backdrop, we ate lunch and spoke about what life in the future would entail while the wind blew lightly across our faces. As dishes were wiped off and food put away, Matt asked me what I wanted to do next. I said, Today has been perfect. But I would really love to go read some more!

In true movie script form he pulls out a book wrapped in clear cellophane and says, Well... I think you should read this. He created a book complied with old emails, pictures from the last year, prayers he wrote for me, personality traits we each possess, and through it all, I had no clue he was proposing.

As I turned each page of the book I realized how much he loved me, how well he knew me, and how much he cared. The entire month he belabored over insuring I would be surprised. The lack of care was a front. The apathy was a lie. The waning love was sheer acting talent. The last page had a trifold adhered to it, sealed with a sticker. Inside was the most beautiful letter he's ever written ending with the words, Bianca Juarez, will you marry me?

I'm not sure I even said yes. I think it was more along the sobbing lines of, I'mSoSorryIDoubtedYouILoveYouSoMuchAndI'mSorry. He kissed my forehead and slipped the ring on my finger as I cried like baby. I'm not even sure I said yes.

Matt, my answer is yes. A resounding yes! If I could marry you tomorrow and wake up next to you for the rest of my life, either in a hut or a mansion, I would. My life is better because of you and you constantly push me to discover who I am, who God is, and how I can change the world for better. I promise I will never leave you or abandon our new family and my commitment is for life... even when I want to give up and quit. Thank you for taking me back--twice. I love you more today than yesterday... but not as much as tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

news, hints, and incourage...

There's some big news I want to share with you all, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow. There's so many details I need to sort through and right now, I can't even think straight. Here's a hint: it starts with en- and ends with -gaged. Oh yeah, baby, you heard right!

In the mean time, it's my monthly post on (in)courage, a website of collected writings from different women from around the country. If you've never checked it out, take some time to check it out! The bloggers are amazing and I'm honored to write alongside of them.

To read the post in it's entirety or post a comment, click here:

The room filled will chattering girls, laughing boys, and shushing teachers. It was chapel time. The mandatory, one-hour service where all good Christian kids go and eagerly await a required bible study.

Tough crowd.

They were the Christian picture of scholastic perfection. Pressed uniforms, light makeup for girls, neatly combed hair for boys. I began to share on the given topic for chapel that particular day, but something was amiss. There was an air of hypocrisy creeping into the room and choking hold of the dark truth in hearts and minds.

I've turned off comments here so you can join the conversation at (in)courage!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

things i've learned in 29 years of life...

Today marks the day I'm officially... [cough, cough, swallow]... mature. Maybe this means I have to stop singing and dancing wildly in my car. Or stifling my raucous laugh with a dainty hand covered in a Victorian glove. Or wearing walking shoes. Or maybe this means I'm full of sage wisdom.

What God? What are you telling me? Oh, it means I'm full of sage wisdom? Greaaaaat! I'll impart my knowledge of the last couple years...

*When you learn an American idiom, don't try it out. When someone says, It's like spitting in the wind, what they mean is, don't be stupid and try it.
*Don't steal gum--or anything--in front of my mother. Piety overwhelms her and she'll march you right on over to the manager and make you tell him you stole a package of watermelon flavored Bubblicious gum. Hypothetically, of course!
*Make friends who are better than you or possess strength in your areas of weakness. You'll be like the Greek phalanx; better together than separate.
*If at all possible, get a twin. You can blame them if you're wrong, play with them when you're bored, and steal clothes when necessary.
*Don't EVER date a lead singer in a band. They'll be more in love with themselves than you'll ever be. You're welcome.
*Date someone who is super clean so they'll take care of the household chores, while you watch trashy reality television. [Just kidding, Matt! Well, half kidding.]
*Do what you're inspired to do. Even if you think you're not good at it. It may not be a lucrative profession, but in the end, it's better to fail at something you love than succeed at something you hate. Truth.
*Read your bible daily!

If you have any advice to add, feel free to! For those older than I, pour out your wisdom :) I need it.

Monday, April 5, 2010

life is beautiful...

La vita e bella! Italian director Roberto Begnini directed one of the most amazing films where a family faced with horrific situations was able to find moments of beauty in the mundane and even painful. When all hope was lost and death triumphed, the characters whispered, Life is beautiful!

This week is a new week, I'm excited to be alive, and I didn't workout. Intentionally. I woke up eager to make moments beautiful. Instead of focusing on trying to save the world while balancing a 9-5 job, I want to chronicle what is beautiful.
Because really, if Clark Kent could save the world and manage a desk job, so can I!

Mom is cancer-free, Dad is sleeping, family is healthy. Life is beautiful.
Turning 30 and I have my health, wealth, and slept in until 5:40am. Life is beautiful!
Lost the Biggest Loser competition at my gym, but I lost seven pounds. Life is beautiful!
Jasmine's closet better than ANY store because she let me borrow anything I wanted for Easter. Life is beautiful!
Impromptu birthday dinners with amazing friends. Life is beautiful!
Food in the fridge, a roof overhead, water to drink, and a bed to sleep in. Life is beautiful!

King David and I have a lot in common. Okay, okay, so he was a king, had tons of money, and ruled people. I get that. But when I read his songs of praise in Psalms, I feel like he is writing from my mind and heart.

Psalms 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
When we feel lost in life, lack joy, or desire pleasures, they can be found in the mundane and sometimes painful moments of life. But like David emphasized, it is through God that we can whisper out, Life is beautiful!

What is God doing in YOUR life that is beautiful?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

because it's my blog...

I need to write this out. I need to remember these feelings. I need to wrestle through the little and big things in my life. I need to chronicle this journey because if I don't know where I've come from, I will not know where I'm going.

Last week I had a breakdown in my office. No one knew, no one saw, no one needed to find out. It was just me. In my office. Alone. In a moment of pounding stress, I lost it. I literally spoke out loud to God [like a crazy lady from Venice beach with her 85 cats] and asked the questions every 20-something asks:
What am I doing? Where am I going? What do you want from me?

You would think I have this whole thing figured out. But I don't. As a ControlFreak who loves having my Garmin spurt out turn-by-turn directions, I want God to do the same. Because honestly, I'm going full steam ahead into pitch black darkness.

My life is unglamorous. I wake up at 4:45am to workout, blog, and spend time with God. Then I shower, put on heels, pack a lunch, sit in traffic, send 1,395,982,507 emails from my small office covered with post-it notes, sit in traffic again, lather, rinse, repeat. I'm exhausted. I'm tired. I'm wondering if what I'm doing is what God wants me to do.

Then I remembered the words I shared with Maxine over bread at dinner: So what? Just do it! Sometimes I give really good advice. It would be nice if I listened to myself. In those moments I know it's not ME, but the spirit of the Lord who is within me to share Truths.

As Public Relations & Media coordinator, I'm in the midst of launching our new church website, copy writing, planning Passion Week, facilitating our guest speakers and guest bands, oh yeah, annnnnd trying to study for Saturday's speaking event [which is bubbling over with whispers of people who are bothered that I'm speaking... so hurtful]. In addition to this I still don't have a dress to wear for Easter!

So this is me--broken and wounded. But I'm still the girl ambitious enough to think the world can change through the love and leading of Jesus Christ. My greatest desire is to round up ordinary people and have God transform us into fearless, EXTRAordinary leaders who want to save the world.
Yes, I will provide the capes.

Thank you for listening and loving me through this journey,
:B

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

100 words on bad theology...

There's sucky theology out there. Beware. You probably won't amass great wealth, drive a Ferrari, or own a plane, but some preachers will tell you that. It's a lie. You can't name and claim anything if it's not part of God's sovereign will. You can't preach health and wealth in a world broken to sin.

Furthermore, in a world teaching the prosperity gospel and Jabez-like prayers, it elevates us above a Savior who suffered. Jesus was poor. Jesus was homeless. Jesus was hungry. Jesus felt isolation. Pain. Despair. Rejection. Betrayal.

An empathetic Savior knows what we feel. Why should we be exempt from suffering if our Savior wasn't? Am I wrong?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

do your thang'...

She looked across the table as if she was going to admit she was preggo, selling illegal substances, or pilfering from her governmental job. She inhaled, swallowed, and braced herself for my reaction. I sat across from her and munched on the mound of warm deliciousness some people call bread. Seriously, I said, you're starting to worry me. [Note: I eat when I'm nervous.]

She pushed her bread plate away from her [Note: she doesn't eat when she's nervous] and blurted out her aspirations of becoming a ________.* With a quizzical look and arched eyebrow I replied, So what? Just do it.

For the next two hours we sat around discussing the importance of passion and guilt. Passion in doing what we want to do; guilt in what it is we want to do. She confessed her guilt was because her desire wasn't "spiritual" and it's not like teaching the bible or working for a church [Note: she was probably talking about me].

She wasn't comparing like I-want-to-be-like-you, but more of a It's-not-a-holy-job. Naturally we are inclined to compare ourselves in the discovery of God's will for our lives. It's part and parcel of our brokenness and humanity.

But what is defined as a holy job? Working for a church? OH PLEASE! A holy job is a person who desires to be holy and HAS a job. There's a lot of people who are guilt trippin' over what they're inspired to do. Why? God has created us to do great things... impossible things!

If you want to be a rapper, be a rapper who gives glory to God. You want to be a photographer, be the most amazing photographer who captures God's beauty. You want to be an deejay, actress, playwright, brain surgeon, lawyer--do it. And do it well. We are his masterpiece created for good works Ephesians 2:10 tell us.

So why struggle? If you are able to praise God with your talents, give the glory He is due, and make a living out of it, DO YOUR THANG'!

*You fill in the blank. It could possibly be what you've been praying about doing.

Monday, March 29, 2010

proclaiming freedom to captives...

Syncopated voices vibrated in the sterile room of the third level of the Los Angeles Women's Jail. It was one of those feelings we all have felt: What did I get myself into?! Shaved heads, tattoos climbing up necks and onto soft feminine faces displaying 'hoods they were from. Loud voices taunting and jesting with each other confused me in the way you would feel on foreign soil; you know what their saying but you can't understand the words.

I clutched my bible and inmates yelled through walls or shouted through windows, Pray for me! My name is Channel and I'm up for parole soon! And, Hey you! My baby's daddy is in court tomorrow. Would you remember to say a prayer for him? I had no clue what I'd gotten myself into.

In my naivete I assumed this would be another speaking event with willing women's heart open to hear the gospel. I didn't expect to be fearful. I didn't expect to be afraid. I didn't expect to pray in the solitude of my mind feverishly for the right words to say. But the fears washed away as a simple guitar lead us into a time of worship.

Brown, black, white. Straight, lesbian, confused. Searchers, seekers, finders.
In one room we sang off beat and out of key to songs I will never forget. The words sung out by the lips of the women gathered in ward 304 dripped with sincerity. Lyrics, sung out with every fiber of their being, meant something more than mere words. It was one of the most moving times of worship I've ever experienced.

I swallowed the lump in my throat as I walked towards the microphone. After getting comfortable with each other, we laughed together, learned together, and felt like a rowdy, motley crew of girls who needed some Jesus up in our lives.

Before leaving I had the privilege of praying with a dear sister who was sentenced to death row that very day. It was in that moment I realized she represented so many women who, though have freedom in the outside world, are prisoners to themselves.

As we go about our day, remember those who are living in an emotional, psychological, or physical prison and give them the One who proclaimed, The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of our Lord's favor and the day of vengeance of our God to comfort all who mourn... (Isaiah 61:1-2)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

InTheNameOfLove summer series...

As a certified nerd, I'm so excited to pass along to YOU [the weekend blog reader] the dates for the In The Name Of Love summer series!

I'm sooooo excited about this years theme, but I'm keeping it a secret until I have all my ducks in a row. [*Side note: American idioms always confuse me. Who has ducks and how do they stay in rows?]

Without further adieu [yes, I try to speak French], I give you the dates:
Tuesdays at 7PM, July 6th-August 10th
Join over 500 women for six weeks of fantasticness and worshipful artistry with guest bands and time in God's word. Holla'! Hope to see you there. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!

Friday, March 26, 2010

vlog: women as teachers, preachers, and leaders...

At the core of who we are, we must admit that we don't have all the answers. The truth is, I could feel dogmatic about a certain topic then read a commentary or listen to a theologian and completely change my mind.

I've been asked several times via Twitter, formspring, and facebook what are my views of women teachers. I found it interesting how some the questions were phrased because it felt like entrapment, more than a inquiry of my personal thoughts. I also found it difficult to respond to because not only is it part of my profession, but it's part of who I am.

Given my gender I tread cautiously and respectfully in certain church realms. Some churches allow women to serve as leaders, lay-pastors, or even senior pastors. Other churches won't allow women to teach, lead, or wear makeup (obviously I'm not invited to the non-makeup churches!). Both groups have scriptures, convictions, historical cultural contexts to support their beliefs.

All I know is one day I will stand before God Almightly and be asked, What did you do with my Son? The only thing I want to hear after is, Well done good and faithful servant!
This post comes with much fear and hesistation because my church has graciously invited me to share during Passion Week. My church celebrates the equality of women, yet understands Divine Hierarchy and the need for theological order within church walls. But for the first time in our church history, a woman will be sharing about Jesus, Easter, and us. That woman is me.

I had reservations knowing there may be some who want to bring out the theological whip. But, as my pastor/daddy reminded me, I'm simply doing what the first evangelists did: proclaiming Jesus rose from the dead, He is who He said He is, and our lives will never be the same because of His demonstration of love displayed on the cross. Furthermore, my father wisely concluded, the first evangelists were women. Touche Daddy, touche!

If you're in the SoCal area like to join Shachah and me for a night of worship and teaching, come down April 3rd at 6pm.

Eugene Cho stands on egalitarian view of women serving in Church and it's an interesting read with a hilarious link on a satiric post on why men shouldn't be ordained. *Note: Satire is tongue-in-cheek humor.
Pricilla Shirer gave a great answer to the Should Women Teach/Serve question on her website.
Tyler Braun wrote three posts about this exact topic. As a seminary student, I valued what he had to say greatly and appreciated the links he provided for further discussion. Read all three posts!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

spotlight: renee johnson...

Renee Johnson is one of those girls who once you meet, you won't forget! Upon meeting her we spoke about all things important: boys, writing, quality television, and well, God. See, she has a big heart and believes passionate about getting into God's Word daily.

She asked me to be part of her blog tour for her forthcoming book, Faithbook of Jesus, but instead, I'd want you to hear in her own words why she does what she does. Enjoy!

How did you first get started writing?
I started journaling when I was a young girl. I took all my emotions to the feet of Jesus. At first I just thought my journals and devotional time was between me and Him, but eventually it bubbled over into a love to help spur other people forward in their daily time with Him!

What has your ministry journey looked like in the past couple years?
The past couple years have been both exciting and scary. I got my dream job over two years ago working for Outreach Events. I loved it. I got to work with some AMAZING speakers and comedians, pastor's and churches. It was truly a dream come true after watching my parents in ministry my whole life. Then when I got my book contract with NavPress to write my first book, a daily devotional for 20-somethings I couldn't handle the stress of both. It truly grieved my heart to give up something I loved, but once I obeyed God blessed me by calling me into full time ministry.

What do you plan on doing in the next couple years?
Speaking, writing more books, and gathering together as many 20's as I can and encourage them to get into the Word daily! I also am using my non-profit, Devotional Diva Ministries to help launch other individuals such as pastor's, speakers, and writers and ministries such as churches to help brand them so they can launch their ministry online! Using the skills I have with websites, marketing, branding, and social media it's been my pleasure to help launch 3-5 ministries in the past 7 months!

If you could give one message to blog readers, what would it be?
Spur others forward. Hebrews 10:24, says, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds." It's amazing the people and connections in ministry I've been able to make because I'm truly invested in spurring others forward. Once you lose your life you realize how desperate humanity is and how we're all looking to be loved and found loved by Him. If you can grasp this, then serving other people isn't as hard as you thought it would be!

To find out more about Renee and her ministry, you can check out her blog!

blog mayday...

Mayday! Mayday! I need your help.


I was going to keep this a secret, but I need some advice. I'm working on a new blog and need your expertise, insight, and previous experience.

Where do you host? Blogger? Wordpress? Typepad? Personal?
What are some things you like about this blog layout?
What are some things you don't like about this layout?
What have been your struggles with your own blog?
What would you change?
Why is Suri Cruise the most gorgeous little girl in the world?
Where would you go on your dream vacation?

Okay, okay, the last question is just because I want everyone to be able to participate in this conversation :) But please hook a sista' up and drop your pearls of wisdom on me!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

lessons from an 11 year old...

Jesus said, Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these. --Matthew 19:14

The room was full and worship ended when the youth pastor came forward to announce there would be a impromptu prayer session. Now, I wasn't quite sure if he knew I had completed two sessions and worship had officially ended. Call me YeOfLittleFaith, but did he really expect Junior Highers to pray? Out loud? After being cooped up for nearly two hours?

Yes. He. Did.

Pastor Gil opened in prayer and silence ensued. But one by one, sweet voices began to speak out requests from around the room and I knew why Jesus desired we have faith as a child (Mark 10:15). One particular girl moved me by her simplicity and assurance. In two long breaths she spoke out statements of belief for petitions she requested. In other words, her requests were in complete faith they would be answered.

I grabbed the precious girl after our time of prayer ended and asked her to pray with me. She giggled as if I was joking, but I was serious. I grabbed her under my arm and told her she had the gift of prayer and I needed her faith. We prayed together and after we had ended, I asked her if I could blog about her faith. She said I could--as long as I posted a picture. (This girl was a riot!)

Kayla, thank you for teaching me to have faith as a child. Your belief in our God is humbling, your faith is inspiring, and your confidence is hilarious! Never lose your boldness or faith. Keep praying like a child.

Love,
:B

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

stuff christians like...

If you don't laugh at awkward Christian side hugs or t-shirts with popular brands reworked as witnessing tools, perhaps you shouldn't buy Stuff Christians Like. But as a pastor's kid who now works in ministry, I've come to learn that if we can't laugh at ourselves, we're taking ourselves too seriously.

Jon Acuff is a satiric hero who crafts epic story-telling, powerful life lessons, and hilarious Christian blunders in a language which is real and raw, yet comically palatable. How someone can be ridiculously hilarious and yet an authentic believer in Jesus Christ, makes me jealous. In fact, I am jealous. If I didn't like him so much, I'd rip off his material.

If you don't want another Christian dating book or devotional on joy-filled living, get this book and laugh about mission-trip romances, virgins and unicorns, and why Mormons are slightly nicer than Christians. The way I see it, the early Church had symbols of their fraternity by drawing the Christendom fish in the sand. I propose we drop phrases like Booty-God-Booty or buttons proclaiming we [heart] side hugs.

Why? Because if we can't laugh at ourselves, we are taking ourselves too seriously.

Jon Acuff can be found blogging daily and highly recommend you check out some of his favorite posts! Better yet, order his book here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

asking for wudder ice...

Whatt'da ya mean, you've nevah had wudder ice, they asked in disbelief? Wide-eyed and curious, they looked at this California girl as if I was from Mars. Surrounded by roughly 20 pre-teen girls, they laughed and told me I had to go to Rita's for water ice (or, as they say, wudder ice).

The next day on my way to the airport, my gracious hosts learned about my apparent Philadelphia sin--You've never been to Rita's?! At this point I think Rita must be everyone's grandmother because everyone knows her and is offended I haven't visited her.

We pulled into obscure an Philly lot and saw the Rita's banner hanging from the brown, weathered roof. I'm expecting an old woman with a sweet voice who calls me Sugar to come out and hug me. But no, Rita is no where to be found. In fact, I don't think Rita lives there. The windows aren't open and the shades are drawn closed.

With sad, disappointed voices my hosts, Gabrielle and Angelica, inform me Rita's was closed. So I did what any ambitious girl would do. I knocked on the window. Hard. They looked at me in one of the She's-not-from-Philly ways and waited for us to get rejected. A tall, thin but burly guy peeks out of the door with a brisk, We open at noon.

As he was shutting the door I yelled out, I'mFromCaliforniaAndI'veNeverHadRita'sBeforeAndICan'tGoHomeWithoutEverTryingIt! (exhale) There is a slight pause from my tall but burly friend. Hang on, he said.

He returns with not one but THREE Rita's ice waters! Gab and Annie look at me in complete shock. I turned it into a Come-To-Jesus moment and I pepper our experience with, You have not because you ask not! We laughed, but it resonated deep within. Like a pebble tossed into a lake, the words spoken by Jesus reverberated in my mind, You have not because you ask not.*

We sometimes look at 'CLOSED' signs and walk away. But what if we have to fight for it? What if we have to ask to get it? What if the miraculous is answered simply when we ask? So--what are you asking for? What's your small miracle? Maybe we just need to ask...

Friday, March 19, 2010

never say never...

I grew up a poor kid. Not like poor I-don't-have-a-home, but poor like I-wish-I-didn't-have-to-shop-at-thrift-stores. And I-wish-I-didn't-have-to-drink-the-donated-guava-juice-from-church. And I'm-never-going-to-wear-hand-me-downs-anymore. Yeah, that kind of poor.

As a child I vowed I would never be poor again. I would never wear donated clothes. I would never ask for a handout.

Never say never.

I have been invited to go into the slums of Kenya, meet the amazing people from Mavuno church, and physically be the hands and feet of Jesus to live out the commission to love my neighbor as myself. I believe in the organization I'll be traveling with whole-heartedly... but there's this one thing I just can't get over: their STRICT fundraising policy. [see below]

video

So--I'm starting the Post-it Project. Everywhere I go, people who I touch, you will be able to be part of this journey. I'll be blogging and Tweeting about our adventures and if you want to be part of this adventure, you can! Below are some instructions on how to help send me to Africa.
Go to http://www.marinersoutreach.org/giving

Click on the link that says "Give towards a Faith Adventure"
Step 1: Fill in your information.
Step 2: Designate Faith Adventure Donation
Team Member Name: [Bianca Juarez]
Trip Name: [Kenya, June 2010]
Step 3: Fill in your account information.

I appreciate your help, love, and support. If nothing else, I appreciate your prayers!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

things we don't talk about...

After teaching at an event a grown woman came up to me, jittery and embarrassed, and admitted she was addicted to porn. She knew she had a problem, but she didn't know what to do, where to go, or who to tell.

After teaching at an event a woman came up to me, jittery and embarrassed, and admitted she was addicted to porn. She knew she had a problem, but she didn't know what to do, where to go, or who to tell. Except this woman was 15 years old.

Two separate women, two separate days, two separate generations, both struggling with the same issue.

The young girl who approached me looked angrily at me as she admitted her addiction through sobs. It was as if she thought I was going to yell at her or condemn her. I grabbed her hand and told her it was okay. No it's not, she shot back. It's not okay! It's a sin! In a moment of clarity I realized she had bought into the lie claiming her sin as the chief of all sin. The apple had been bit and the lie continues to spread.

Research from Evangelical Christian women reveal 40% of women have participated in sexual sin in the past year and 20% of are addicted to porn (46% of men). Personally, I think the percentages are higher. Instead of keeping our sins as dirty little secrets, we need to talk about them. We need to admit to them. We need to confess our weaknesses and seek intervention.

Let's stand on what we know:
If you are struggling through this or would like further information, I really suggest you visit Anne Jackson's blog and Dirty Girls Ministries resource page. More importantly, you're not alone.

Questions? Comments? Stones to throw? Better yet, does anyone have the most current research about men and women in the church who are addicted to porn?

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

jealousy, envy, & me...

She's jealous of his car. He's jealous of his wife. We're jealous of her hair. We are all jealous of someone, at sometime. Don't lie. Now it's simply a matter of how to deal with it so we don't end up like brood of haters.
Today's post is linked on (in)courage and can be read in it's entirety. As always, I've turned off the comments here so you can join the dialogue as we discuss fashion faux pas, gym workouts, and Grecian supermodels who workout at my gym.

The length of her legs reaches to my eyelids and her hair hangs at the side of her size 2 waist. She has to be a fitness coach, professional dancer, or super model because really, who looks like a Grecian goddess at 5:30AM?
Click here to continue:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

friends not fans...

If Jesus had a Twitter account, how would he run it? Seriously. Take a moment and think about social media--then decide if the early church would've used technology to connect with people across the globe.

I think so.

People feel differently about social media and it's uses. Some use it for marketing. Others use it for publicity. Many use it for socializing. Recently I started a Twitter account and a facebook page and I've had discussions with people I trust on how it should be run.

Like, should I be uber holy and only post scripture? What if people think I'm lame? Who should I follow and how do I interact?

The truth is I'm not uber holy, I am quite lame, and I still have awkward social moments (Yes, I was home-schooled). But since there are no strict rules on social media, I'm making them up as I go along.

For memories sake and posterity, I'm posting my rules here so I can remember them and share them with you:
  1. I don't have followers, I have friends. I don't hate on people who choose not to follow me on Twitter. It's their choice and I still would like to see what they're up to. But I realized that I'm not trying to be a SuperStar in life and I shouldn't care the about the ratio of people I follow versus who is following me. If you have a shirt on and you're not trying to sell something, I'll follow you.
  2. I don't have fans, I have friends. In The Name of Love has a facebook page and I love it! If I could get rid of my personal page and opt for that one, I would. People post prayer requests, funny stories, ask about future speaking events, or reply to a comment or link I post. But let's not get it twisted: I don't have fans.
  3. If you ask a personal question on the blog or through formsping that is anonymous, I probably will not answer it. There is no power in anonymity.
  4. Blogging is hard. Like really, really hard. I don't get paid a dime and I'm not trying to sell Amway or Pre-Paid Legal services. I blog because sometimes I feel as if it's my only voice to a world I cannot reach. Vienna, Austria--I blog for you. Queenstown, New Zealand--I blog for you. Santiago, Chile--I blog for you. Ozark, Arkansas--I blog for you. I pour out my heart with simple words... because words are all I have.
So, what are your rules? Am I missing any? How do you tweet and what do you say? Why is Jon Gosselin still in the limelight? Why is Suri Cruise the most gorgeous little girl in the whole world?

Power to the people,
:B

Monday, March 15, 2010

keepin' it real... again...

There is a danger in compartmentalizing life. But sometimes compartmentalizing life blocks out fears, questions, doubts, or confusion.

Last week I received beautiful prayer requests from people across the globe. Some were funny and others serious, but each one spoke honestly and from the heart.

In the midst of writing down post-it notes for people, I paused when I read the ending comment from Steph, How can I pray for you????

I couldn't respond at that moment because I'd probably have the longest comment. Ever. But after a few days of processing and opening up the public and private compartments of my heart,* I realized I need to keep it real.

So, this is me. My private world unveiled and raw through supplications for prayer. Please don't judge me--I don't have the luxury of anonymity.
  • We need a revolution for our generation. Hearts need to turn back, minds need to be cleansed, and lives need redemption. I want to be part and parcel of changing our world for the better. I just need to figure out how...
  • There's a strong possibility I'm going to be a step-mother. I don't want to be Cruella DeVil or Cinderella's step-mother, so pray for love, patience, and understanding of a child's mind.
  • I want to get off the weight roller coaster, but it's the never ending ride. I desire contentment above a certain illusive weight. Pray for acceptance of my body.
  • I don't know how I'm going to afford living and supporting a family doing ministry. I want to share and teach, wherever, whenever, but I know I have rent to pay and bills to manage. Pray for a simple lifestyle that lends itself to ministering the Gospel.
  • I want to be faithful like David, but I'm a sign-seeking Gideon. I want signs for signs. What I really need is faith. More faith.
So my dear blog friends, I shamelessly solicit prayer. I'm a coward in my private prayer life because I'm afraid to open myself and ask for prayer. But Lord knows I need it!

*This is also because a dear friend who anonymously reads my blog told me she was going to boycott my blog if I didn't start having more faith. She told me I needed to ignore my blog until I started believing what I was preaching. Ouch! But her prodding caused me to keep it real.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Friday Video Post: illegal immigration...

Before I'm a daughter, a teacher, a writer, or an Latino-American, I'm a Christian and I'm committed to the call of the Church. In other words, I'm concerned about how the Bible can orient the way the broader Christian community, denomination, and individual Christians understand their identity and role in the world today.

When it comes to the issue of illegal immigration, the topic is huge and extraordinarily complicated. I do not pretend to offer solutions contested issues or to propose some sort of political cure-all for the many problems. I simply want to raise dialogue and discussion about a serious situation. Once we can develop an appreciation of how complicated the situation is, it can help us move us beyond emotional attachments or simplistic positions that often dominate the media and current politics.

Too often discussion defaults to the passionate ideological arguments (It's not their land, It's not fair, It's illegal), economic wrangling (Immigrants are taking jobs and money), or racial sentiment (I just don't like Chinese people, I don't like Mexicans, I hate when people can't speak English).
According to Dr. D. Carroll, the number of immigrants, documented and undocumented, who have entered the country during the past thirty years has made this phenomenon the focus of national debate at many levels and in all sorts of arenas. The debate is heated, and it has generated interesting alliances that cross ideological lines.

He also notes Christians in our society locate themselves at different points along this broad spectrum of opinion. Carroll discovered that the conversation about immigration has more to do with ideological commitments, personal background, and experience rather than Christian convictions.

So--what do we do? How can we gently (and in love) discuss fear, apprehension, justice, power, forgiveness, and LOVE? Let's start the dialogue in love...

Scriptures to support both sides of the arguments:
Abraham welcoming foreigner (Gen. 18), Elijah welcomed by the Shunammites ( 2 Kings 4), sojourners not following or integrating in Israelite life (Duet. 17:15) and rituals (Exod. 12:43, Ezek. 44:7, sojourners must do hard labor (2 Chron. 2:22), aliens could be day laborers (Duet. 24:14), commanded to love the alien/foreigner (Lev. 19:18, 34, Matt. 22:34-40), Jesus as refugee (Matt. 2:13-14), sumbit to authorities and laws of the land (Romans 13:1-7).

Thursday, March 11, 2010

confessions...

We've done it before and I think we should do it again.

It's time for confessions! Origen said, Confession is the vomit of the soul. So it's about time we purge.
I'll go first. Please don't leave me hanging, friends.

  • One time I hit a parked car and left the scene. [I was seventeen.]
  • I cheated in my French class sophomore year of high school during my midterm. [I still have trouble sleeping over that one.]
  • I ripped the pay phone off the wall of Stauffer Hall at Whitter College and never told anyone. [I'm telling you.]
  • I threatened my sister's life after she hacked a loogie and it landed on my forehead. [It was disgusting. You would've too.]
  • I tried being bulimic multiple times. [I just couldn't do it.]
  • I Googled my ex-boyfriend a year ago just to see what he was up to. [It was pathetic. I know.]
  • I stole Jasmine's Isabella Fiore purse over a month ago. [She doesn't even know it's gone.]
Now it's your turn. Keep it real...
Note: As always, you can comment in anonymity. But don't be chicken! I ain't gonna throw stones. I'll leave that to the Pharisees :)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

post-it's and prayer...

Small, colorful, adhesive pieces of sheer goodness scatter my office. Some are notes or to-do's, but lately, I have a ton of Post-It notes in my offices with names of people I care about. They serve as reminders.

See, I've never been the greatest prayer warrior. I try to set time aside, but inevitably I get distracted by a phone call to make, an email to return, or a meeting to attend. Hence, prayer is neglected.

But if I have small, colorful, adhesive pieces of sheer goodness to remind me, I will remember!

It started with Kyrene in Australia. Then Annie in Oregon. Then Melinda in Orange County. Then Markus in Germany. Then Dana in DC. I wrote down names of people who needed miracles in their lives onto Post-It notes on my office window. I told them I would pray for them. And now I am committed to it.

The names listed above (and the others decorating my wall) serve as reminders to pray. I believe prayer changes things. I've seen the miraculous. Just ask Kyrene. Just ask Melinda. Just as me.

So join the Post-It Revolution and let me know how I can pray for you. You don't have to spill the dirty-dirty, but keep it general and simple enough to fit on a 3x3 square :)

How can I pray for you?

If you have two minutes, check out my favorite short-film:

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

ordinary to extraordinary...

David was a mere shepherd boy until the day he was anointed by Samuel. From the top of his head to the tip of his toes he was covered as a providential sign of his calling. From that pivotal point on, his life was rocked. An ordinary shepherd boy began to do extraordinary things. Oh, you know, like killing beast of the fields and slaying giants. Average stuff for a teenage boy called to greatness.

Deborah was part of the tribe of Israel until she was called to be a judge in the land. To painfully point out the obvious, she was a woman. But this ordinary wife was a leader, foreseer, and motivator to the masses. She lead Israel into a successful battle, when women of this time were non-entities of society. No matter the gender bifurcation or elevation, she did was God called her to do: Be extraordinary.

Peter was a fisherman. No, not like Long John Silver, but like one of the Jersey Shore kids. Leathered skin, horrible accents, unwarranted swagger. Fisherman were over-looked by society, but this ordinary fisherman was chosen to be a extraordinary fisher of man. He walked on water, participated in miracles, and gave one of the best apologetic defenses of the gospel even today.

How?

When God calls us, He equips us. Each of the people mentioned relied upon the work of the Holy Spirit to fill them... to do the extraordinary. And guess what? God is still calling people to do the impossible.
John 14:12, I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these...
The question is simply, are you willing to stop living an ordinary life?

So, what's your extraordinary life? How can we live spirit-lived lives?

Monday, March 8, 2010

life in full circle and the daughter i'll always be...

Murals painted in vivid color depicting scenes from early life, decorated the warm restaurant of Bougainvilleas. Music wafted in the air and mingled with scents of homemade food coming from the kitchen. The waiter placed the cloth napkin on my lap, then my fathers. A soft cacophony of noises informed all visitors to the upscale restaurant they were in for a good time: dishes clinking, people laughing, and live music playing.

Life had come full circle for my father. The child who would stand outside the restaurant and watch wealthy Americans and European expatriates come and go, was now the man who walked brazenly into the restaurant to buy his child a sumptuous faire of food. We clinked our dishes, laughed together, and sang to the music playing.

Yes, Life had come full circle.

Returning to the land of the free and the home of the brave is met with new revelations of who I am as a daughter.
I'm the daughter who witnessed financial deprevation and broken dreams.
I'm the daughter who witnessed divine acts of God to provide for our family when my father could not.
I'm the daughter who hung on my father's back and passed out food to people in need when we had none for ourselves.
I'm the daughter who still believes her father can fix anything.
I'm the daughter who still crawls onto her father's lap to nap.
I'm the daughter who still whispers my dreams and hopes into the ear of her father.
I'm the daughter who wrote out the Joel 2:25 on a piece of line paper at the age of 7...
Now I'm the daughter who whispers into the ear of her dark-skinned, immigrant father, I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten, says the Lord.

I love you, Daddy. Thanks for teaching me about your past, so I can know my future.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Friday Video Post: a social gospel...

What Is The Social Gospel from Bianca Juarez on Vimeo.

It was said with distain, Oh, they teach a social gospel. Confused on what he meant, I prodded for more information.

I could see his concern, but instead of rectifying the situation with peers or correcting certain definitions, he choose the let the chasm between the Church* grow. We verbally wrestled through this conversation and I walked away asking if we stop could splintering the church, bifurcating demoninations, and start operating as a cohesive unit.

Yes, there will be theological bents, liturgical preferences, and message methods, but can we at least agree on one thing: The Gospel.

The good news of the gospel is that we have salvation, redemption, and justification for our sins through a man named Jesus. Not through feeding the homeless, not through visiting orphans, not through partering with the city to make our community a better place. If you've followed the blog or know me personally, my heart bleeds for the poor, needy, hurting, and destitude... but in no way will that take place of the gospel.

We need to know the gospel in order to live out the gospel.

So what are your thoughts? What kind of church to you go to? Are you physically living out the gospel or are you going on Sunday and living your own agenda the rest of the week?

*Church is capitalized here because I'm referencing the entire body of Christ, not one specific church.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cupidity...

Books are like children to me. I hold them in my hand, keep a vigilant eye on them, and take them with me wherever I go. So when people tell me I have to read a book, it makes me feel like their thrusting their misbehaved, raggedy lookin' child on me and asking me to baby-sit. Eerrrrt! Stop, please.

But after Is Coffee A Date vlog, I began some fun banter via Twitter with Michael DiMarco and discovered a whole world of conflicting ideas. (Yes, my life feels like kittylitter in the dog bowl... completely out of place.)

Michael and Haley DiMarco are authors of several books, including their recent book on relationships, Cupidity: 50 stupid things people do for love. I have been swapped with work and speaking engagements so I haven't been reading like I usually like to, but as I packed for Mexico, I grabbed my thin, fair-skinned child and started reading immediately.

This relationship book is 245 pages, but it reads like a diary or a conversation with friends [if your friends are witty and slightly sarcastic]. It was such an easy read, I finished it in two days. What I love most about the book is that it's true. And if you know me, I read books to uncover their faults, so this was interesting.

For example, they spent some time on the different needs of a man and woman from pre-historic times [which included a sketch of a caveman named Grog]. Here's the breakdown in basic terms:
Women:
  1. Protector: A man who gives me protection from nature and other cavemen. [Word!]
  2. Provider: A man who provides cave, fur, food and base companionship. [Ummhmm!]
  3. Enhancer: A man who offers me a chance to nest, hang furs and finger paint. [Amen!]
  4. Romancer: A man who listens to me and dances with me under the moonlight. [Preach it!]
Men:
  1. Bedmate: A woman who gives me warmth and continues my bloodline.
  2. Helpmate: A woman who cooks the kill and feeds the babies.
  3. Playmate: A woman who has tickle fights and plays pin-the-tail-on-the-mammoth with me.
  4. Soulmate: A woman who shares my thoughts and dreams and works to invent the wheel.
To some, this is information you already know and basic. In fact, the book is so simple it's enlightening. With each turned page, the callous walls of my heart began to soften as I realized how many mistakes I've made in previous relationships.... and, if I'm honest with you, in my current relationship.

Married or single, this book is a quick, easy read that has great readability for both men and women. To order the book, click here.

MY PERSONAL DATA COMPLIATION:
Women: How important is romance to you? Do you pay for dates? Does your date open your car door? Married folk: Are you happy with your sexlife? Is the man the spiritual leader in your house? Do you allow him to be?

Men: How important is silence to you? Do you like to talk about everything? What's the first thing that attracts you to a women? Married folk: Are you happy with your sexlife? Are you the spiritual leader? What's something you'd change about your wife?

As always, you can answer anonymously :)

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