Yesterday I totaled my car. Today I need your help.

Yesterday I totaled my car.

Today I need your help.

But first, let me tell you a story.

As many of you know, I recently quit my full-time job to chase a dream of resourcing churches and ministries with web and graphic design.

It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life.

When I gave up a steady paycheck for the freelancer’s life, I remember God telling me he’d provide for me and my family. I didn’t know how he’d do it, but I trusted that he would.

Over the past three months, while making less money than ever before, God provided enough for Nicole and I to be able to completely pay off her car. When we told some friends about this, they were happy for us but were also a little concerned. They asked a simple question:

Do you think it’d be better to hold on to that money in case something happens?

While I appreciated their concern, I was convinced of one simple truth:

God promised us he would provide for us.

He has provided.

He will continue to provide.

Nicole and I made the decision to trust in God’s provision instead of living in fear of ‘what if.’

On Wednesday morning, we put the check in the mail to pay off her car.

On Thursday morning, I totaled my car.

How’s that for timing?

As I left the scene of the wreck (PS – both me and the other driver were unhurt), I knew I was at another intersection:

I could choose to trust in God’s provision

or

I could live in fear of how to move forward.

Just like before, I’m going to choose to trust in God’s provision.

And that’s where you come in.

I haven’t heard how much money we’ll get from the insurance company yet, but I do know my car wasn’t worth much. Nicole and I are working to get out of debt completely (gotta love student loans, right?) so we don’t want to take a new loan out for my next car. With a baby girl coming in two months, the desire for a safe, reliable car is at an all time high.

So how can you help?

Here are three easy ways:

1) Pray that God will provide.
I have no clue what that even means. All I know is God is way bigger than I can imagine and he can provide in ways I can’t begin to comprehend.

2) Help me find a great, inexpensive car.
I know that’s a gigantic ask. But again, I know I have a gigantic provider.

Do you know someone who has a great car they’d like to get rid of for cheap?

Maybe they just got a work car and don’t need their old one. Or maybe a family member passed away and their estate is looking to sell their car. Whatever the situation, if you know of something, I would love if you could pass it along.

3) Share this post with your friends.
I know this is breaking the #1 social media rule, but I’d love if you’d allow me to tap into your relationships and your networks. For all I know, the person God wants to use to provide for my family is your second cousin’s third grade teacher who is friends with your mom on Facebook. Would you take a minute and share this post on Facebook or Twitter?

The reason I ask for your help is simple. When this is over, I want to be able to tell the story of how God used people I may not even know to provide for me and my family.

I want to brag on the fact that our God is a great dad and truly cares for his kids.

I want to end this post with the same thoughts I had as I put that big check in the mail on Wednesday morning:

God promised us he would provide for us.

He has provided.

He will continue to provide.

Say your prayers and take your vitamins.

Have a nice day.

-Jonathan

Five Bible stories they didn’t teach at VBS

Hi. My name is Jonathan. I’m a Christian and I do my quiet time… at night.

Yeah.

Scandalous, right?

The other night while reading the Bible before bed, I ran across a crazy story that I’d forgotten about. I screen shot it and put it on Instagram because I thought it was funny.

That led me to another idea:

What are the most interesting things people may not know are in the Bible?

While this list is not exhaustive, and there are a ton of crazy things we never talk about, here’s my list of five Bible stories they didn’t teach at VBS.

Continue reading

On happiness and marriage; or how Hilary Duff got it wrong

Let me go ahead and get this out of the way: I watched Lizzy McGuire growing up.

Sure, I blamed it on having a 12-year-old sister when it came out, but the real story was that there was a cute blonde girl who was my age on the TV.

Of course I’m going to watch that show.

That cute girl was Hilary Duff. She’s 11-months younger than me and came to fame when I was 14 years old. I’ve watched her grow up as I’ve grown up. The big difference is she’s had a ton of money and fame and I’ve had, um, not that. Continue reading

On righteous pride; or why you should stop being so dang humble

If you ask anyone who knew me before 2009, they would tell you that the word humility was nowhere in my vocabulary. I was an arrogant jerk who thought I knew everything better than everyone. In my own words, I was awesome.

In an effort to grow up and not annoy 90% of the people I came in contact with, I set out to become a more humble person. The ultimate irony is that it’s six years later and I’m broadcasting to you a story about trying to be more humble.

As I tried to become that humble person, I started looking at the things I did differently. When someone would tell me I did a great job on something, I’d play it off like it was no big deal. Or I would act surprised I could create something worth complimenting.

I didn’t want to be arrogant, so I swung the pendulum the opposite direction to a place that was almost dismissive. Continue reading

A letter to the Internet about hope

Dear Internet,

We are friends, right? Do you mind if I’m totally honest with you for a minute? This is hard to say publicly but I feel I need to admit it:

The past couple weeks have been hard and I’m a little bummed out because of it.

I knew starting my own business would have its ups and downs. I knew it wouldn’t be amazing right away. I even knew there would be fights and challenges unlike anything I’d ever faced.

And I was right.

But the fight this month has been tougher than expected.

There have definitely been some positives but I had a goal this month and it didn’t happen. It’s not the end of the world but it’s not the shot-in-the-arm confidence booster I am needing either.

As I tie the bow on February, I’m left asking myself a few questions:

Did I hear God correctly when he invited me on this journey?

Did I make the right decision?

Is this thing going to work?

Those are all hard questions. They force me to take a step back from the emotional attachment to my own life and look at things objectively.

After taking the time to think about these questions, I’m left with one simple answer:

Yes.

Yes – I heard God correctly.

Yes – I made the right decision.

Yes – this thing is going to work.

I can be confident in those answers because I’m confident in my provider.

Over the past two months, Nicole and I have made less money than at any point in our marriage. At the same time, we’ve somehow been able to save more and pay off more debt than at any point. I have no explanation for how we have been able to do that other than God providing in ways that may not always make it into the bank statement.

I didn’t get my confidence booster in the way I wanted it, but I did get something even better:

The hope of a provider.

I don’t know how this whole thing is going to work out. I have no clue what we are going to do for childcare once our little girl gets here. And I don’t know how we are going to pay for everything that goes with having an infant.

What I do know is that I have a God who has promised to be with me throughout the entire journey.

Without that hope, I’d go crazy.

I don’t know where you’re at or what you’re going through, but I’d be willing to bet that if you looked really hard, you’d find that some hope in your life today. It looks different for everyone, but the one consistent is that it’s there.

Rest easy this weekend knowing you have a provider who has already been where you are now and is already paving the way for where he wants you to go next.

Say your prayers and take your vitamins.

Have a nice day.

-Jonathan

The one simple thing my mom taught me about loving people

A couple weeks ago my plan for what to get Nicole for Valentine’s Day fell through.

I had wanted to get the nursery completely finished for her and surprise her when she got home from work. That meant changing out a ceiling fan, replacing all the outlets, and putting together all the crib and dresser we had bought.

It was a big task but I was determined to do it.

When I went to the store to pick up the crib and dresser, I ran into a small problem:

The boxes they came in were gigantic.

My car is not gigantic.

I made some phone calls to see if some friends could help me at least get the crib and dresser to my house. If they could do that, maybe I could still pull it off.

Nope.

They were all busy. Continue reading

What SNL 40 taught me about growing up

Whenever I write an article for a website or guest post on another blog, I always start my bio with this sentence:

Jonathan loves three things: Dr. Pepper, pop culture, and his wife Nicole.

I developed that love of pop culture as a middle schooler watching reruns of Saturday Night Live on VH1. In the late 90’s, they showed hour long episodes from the late 80’s and early 90’s. I saw all the classics, from Phil Hartman to Chris Farley to Dana Carvey to Adam Sandler.

As I got older, I learned about John Belushi, Chevy Chase, and Steve Martin.

Then I learned the dude from Dr. Doolittle used to be the funniest guy on the planet and got his start on SNL as well.

Color me surprised.

My first foray into current events and politics came from Weekend Update.

I learned who Christopher Walken was when he said he had a fever.

When I think of Bill Clinton, I think of Darrell Hammond more than Bill Clinton.

I say all this to say that there was absolutely no way I wasn’t going to watch the 40th anniversary reunion special Sunday night.

In a show full of old montages and recreated classics, there was one montage that stuck out to me more than any:

The audition tapes. Continue reading

The one thing Christians have missed with Fifty Shades Of Grey

This is a blog post I promised myself I wouldn’t write.

I didn’t want to be that guy cashing in on a trendy headline to get views.

I didn’t want to join the thousands of other blog writers who have written about Fifty Shades Of Grey.

But I feel I have to.

Because we, as Christians, have missed one huge piece of the Fifty Shades puzzle:

God wants us to have great sex.

In our attempt to warn people that Fifty Shades Of Grey shouldn’t be read or watched, we’ve taken things too far:

We’ve started attacking the idea of an adventurous sex life.

Even within marriage.
Continue reading

Is it time to redefine going to church?

For the first time in nine years, I don’t live inside the Christian bubble.

For the past 4.5 years I worked in a church. For the 4.5 years before that, I was a student at the world’s largest Christian school.

Hello bubble.

Since I’ve left the bubble, I’ve begun thinking about and analyzing things that I used to just assume.

Like going to church.

There’s a stat bouncing around the church world that is starting to freak out pastors and church administrators. It says that, on average, Americans only go to church 1-2 times per month. Gone are the days where most church goers were in their spot every Sunday. We’re now lucky to see people more than twice a month.

When I first heard this stat about a year ago, I was blown away. I couldn’t imagine life as a Christian where you only came to church once or twice a month.

Confession: Since leaving the church staff, I’ve been to church twice in six weeks.

As I’ve gotten into the routine of working all day Friday – as opposed to having Fridays off like we do in the church world – I’ve realized how short the weekend actually is.

And there’s a lot to get done.

I can’t imagine having to get it all done while having soccer games, girl scouts, and other things that come with being a parent.

Then, to top off all that, what about when I have small group? That’s a three hour time commitment that I’ve made to 4-5 other couples. There’s no way I’m missing that.

All this has left me asking myself two questions:

1) What defines going to church in 2015?
2) Why should I care about the weekly church gathering on Sunday morning? Continue reading

The truth about how much you’re worth

A couple weeks ago I got an e-mail from a potential client who wanted me to do some work for him. What he needed was right in the sweet spot of what I know I can do and is the type of work I’m hoping to do more of as a freelance designer.

I responded to the e-mail to set up a meeting with him and started doing my research:

What will it take to pull of this project?
What do I need to know going into the initial meeting?
How much should I charge?

The first two questions were relatively easy to figure out. After all, I’d been doing this type of thing for almost a decade so I had that experience to fall back on.

The third question was much tougher to find the answer to.

I did a simple Google search to see what the “going rate” was in my field.

It didn’t help.

Finally I turned to some friends in the business and asked what they charged.

Their responses shocked me. Continue reading