Thursday, August 13, 2015

two more years

In the last two years, I’ve found a lot of reasons to complain to God. And I’ve done so quite explicitly.

Sometimes when He worked to transform me to look more like Him. It was painful.

Sometimes when He challenged me to do things I didn’t want to do. It was unfair.

Sometimes when He drove me into complete isolation so I only had Him. It was cruel.

Sometimes when He gave me only half a freaking millimeter to work with when I was at the end of my rope. Are you kidding me?

Sometimes I yelled at Him and cursed at Him and ignored Him.

But every time… He showed me grace and mercy and kindness that I didn’t deserve.

In the last two years, He’s given me new passions and new desires. Never taking away the old ones. But giving me the capacity for more. He’s made promises. And then fulfilled them. He’s invited me to be a part of something much bigger than myself. He’s given me the freedom to walk away from it, assuring me He’ll still love me. But also assuring me I’d be missing out on His best. He’s surprised me by changing the plans, letting me choose to step into what I wanted to do. He’s replaced my rebellious heart with an obedient one. He’s unveiled secrets meant solely for me when I read His Word. He’s challenged me to love harder, think harder, work harder. But be softer. He’s astounded me with the Gospel. He’s awarded me financial grants I never even asked for and introduced me to people I never would have met without those painful, unfair, cruel circumstances. He’s driven me into isolation only to provide incredible companionship. He’s shown me He is more mysterious, more loving, more shocking, more giving, more unpredictable, more holy, more powerful… Just more. He is someone I can’t stand to go without knowing. And someone I can’t believe I actually get to know.

It’s been a good two years.

Friday, May 15, 2015


I just got back from a weeklong trip in Germany, and if you’ve ever travelled internationally, you know what a pain it can be. Delayed flights. Layovers. Jet lag. Freezing planes. Zero leg room and I'm not even tall. It’s not fun stuff.

Needless to say, I was exhausted after a busy week, plus the journey home. But it’s often in those moments when I am emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted that God does cool things. And I usually wish He wouldn’t… Such was the case as I sat at my gate in Dallas, receiving the news that my flight had been delayed yet again.

I was slightly annoyed and frustrated and reallyyyyy didn’t want to be stuck in Dallas over night. I tried to have a good attitude about it since it was outside of my control, but I had been up for 22 hours at this point and just wanted my bed. I was also getting myself all worked up as I reflected on the past week. I thought about all of the cultural differences and wondered how I was going to ever fit in in Germany. 

And then this middle-aged man interrupted my anxious and tired thoughts by sitting down right next to me, even though there were plenty of empty seats that were more than six inches from me. And he started talking immediately. And when I say he started talking immediately, I mean he began telling me his whole life story. It always surprises me when stuff like this happens because I kinda have resting bitch face. Especially when I’m tired. I know I don’t look approachable.

I tried so hard to listen, but my eyelids and brain weren’t in the mood. I mustered up as many “mmm hmm’s,” “yeah’s,” laughs, and head nods as I could.

The more he talked, however, the easier I found it to listen and began to wake up. We didn’t have much in common. Politically and religiously, we saw the world very differently. Really the only thing we shared was our interest in dating men. 

After about 10 minutes, the conversation turned and he asked about me and why I was traveling. So I told him I’d been in Germany for work, which of course begged the question what I did. I told him I worked for Young Life, and he asked some very good and challenging questions about it. I then admitted I was nervous about moving to another country, and he offered some really good advice and encouragement. All in all, we had a great conversation. 

We finally boarded the plane and began the flight back to Arkansas. He caught up to me at baggage claim when we landed to say goodbye and that it was nice meeting me. And it was genuinely nice meeting him, too.

It’s often in those moments when I am emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausted that God does cool things. Like show me I can be friends with people that are different from me. I will probably never see that man again. But for about 20 minutes, I had the privilege of hearing his story and sharing a little of my own. For about 20 minutes, a stranger became a friend.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

what amazing grace

     The summer after my freshman year of college, I lived in Branson, MO to be a part of the discipleship program, Discipleship Focus. For ten weeks, a group of 40-50 college students work full-time, live in community, and go through the study Discovery by Will Wyatt. It was the most influential summer of my life, and I would highly recommend it to any college student. To learn more about it, click here. I would also highly recommend the study to anyone. You can order it from Amazon here.

     Second Corinthians 5:21 says, “He [the Father] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” He became my sin. With Easter just around the corner, I pulled out my copy of Discovery and flipped to the section about God’s purpose flowing out of His love. The following is a passage taken from that section:

… Because sin is easy and natural for us, we cannot begin to understand Jesus’ abhorrence of it. The perfect and holy Son of God was agonizing over the thought of becoming sin and being separated from the Father. Yet Jesus loved us so much that He was willing to be our substitute and become sin—everything that was the opposite of His nature. Perhaps one way to understand, to a small degree, is to take some attributes of Jesus and consider their opposites.
            We know that Jesus is love. On the cross He experienced complete, consuming hatred. He was despised and rejected.  
            Jesus is the ‘Light of the World,’ yet on the cross He experienced total darkness, a lack of understanding, and everything associated with sin and evil.
            Scripture tells us that Jesus is peace, even the ‘Prince of Peace.” On the cross, the exact opposite of peace consumed Him: total frustration, anxiety, fear, hopelessness, and desperation.
            Jesus Christ is Truth. On the cross, everything became confusing, inconsistent, and illogical. Nothing made sense.
            Jesus said, ‘I am the Bread of Life.’ Yet on the cross He experienced emotional and spiritual hunger: longing, craving, yearning, complete dissatisfaction.
            Jesus said, ‘I am the Way.’ On the cross He felt frustratingly lost, with no direction. He was uncertain, perplexed, bewildered, full of doubts, empty, and confused.
            Christ is our security, yet on the cross He was consumed with fear, insecurity, and overwhelming loneliness. We have all felt lonely at times, but He was lonely to a degree we cannot even imagine. Jesus Christ, who had experienced the completeness of a perfect relationship within the Trinity, was now totally forsaken and alone.
            Jesus Christ is mercy. In becoming sin for us, He suffered the ultimate in abuse, oppression, and torture. Any cruelty ever devised or imagined by man, He endured on the cross.
            Jesus Christ is just. On the cross He endured unfairness, corruption, dishonesty, and all the emotions that go along with receiving unjust treatment. If the Roman trial had been handled fairly, Christ would have been freed. He did not deserve the cross, but He wanted to be there because He chose to stand in our place. Isaiah says He was like a lamb led to slaughter, not uttering a sound. Perhaps Jesus was silent on the cross because had He even hinted for help, all of heaven would have responded. 
            On the cross Jesus endured incredible pain. Crucifixion was a brutal means of execution, deliberately slow and painful. Every joint was pulled out of its socket from the weight of the body. Jesus’ physical pain and death fulfilled prophesy and were part of God’s plan to bring us salvation. But more important than His physical death was that Jesus died spiritually when He was separated from His Father. His physical pain on the cross is a stark visual picture that helps us understand, to a small degree, the dreadfulness of spiritual death...
            While taking our place on the cross, Jesus, because of His complete separation from His Father, cried, ‘My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?’ This is the only time Jesus ever called His Father ‘God,’ because at this point God was not in the role of a Father, but of righteous judge. As judge, He placed in Jesus the sins of every one of us—every sin and act of rebellion we have ever committed or ever will commit. Because Jesus Christ on the cross called His Father ‘God,’ we can now call God our ‘Father.’ What amazing grace!

Thursday, February 26, 2015

new mercies

This past week has seen my embarrassed/humbled/sheepish face a few times… I’ve realized that I get angry when I don’t understand things. And I don’t understand things because I approach them with my own human perspective instead of God’s. When my prayers aren’t answered fast enough or in the way I want them to be… When I read something I don’t like or understand in Numbers… When I research world news that is filled with death, destruction, and evil… I get angry. My anger at the circumstances then turns to being angry with God Himself. So I vent and let Him know exactly how I’m feeling.

And then He does something really great… Sometimes within seconds of my venting… I get an anonymous and very generous donation. Or someone approaches me about support instead of the other way around. Or I receive a message from strangers saying that they pray for me often. Whatever it is, it usually leaves me feeling embarrassed, humbled, and sheepish.

My only appropriate response can be one of gratitude and worship. So even when I don’t understand, I put my faith in Him. Even when I don’t understand, I obey. Even when I don’t understand, I say “thank you.” He is just, but He is merciful. And His mercies cover me everyday. 

"The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning."—Lamentations 3:22-23  

Saturday, February 21, 2015

one year later

A year ago today... It was cold and sunny. A little after 9:30am. I was walking between the Union and the law building on my way to my Spanish class when my phone rang with the call that changed my life.

Welcome to Young Life staff in Germany. Going to class to learn Spanish seemed a little pointless after that…

It’s hard to believe that was a whole year ago. It’s been a long, difficult, deeply humbling, lonely, and nerve-wracking year. But it’s also been incredible and so, so good. God has challenged me, strengthened me, and loved me in ways I didn’t know He could. And sometimes wish He wouldn’t. As hard as this year has been, I’m so grateful for it because I’m not who I was a year ago.

As I push through the final dollars of fundraising, I have to stop myself from mentally and emotionally checking out. Because I just want to be there. More than anything, I want to begin the life God has called me to in Germany. But one of the many things I’ve learned this past year is to live in the moment. To be patient. To not wish this time away. All while still looking and planning ahead because hopefully by the end of May, I’ll be finished raising support. And then I’ll be gone. 

Thursday, January 29, 2015

to be a part of this family

Whenever someone asks me to tell them about myself, I always start with my family. Because they’re pretty great. And I like to brag about them.

So when my dad emailed my siblings and I a couple days ago and asked us what it means to be a part of this family, I had to really narrow down my answer. Because there’s so much that could be said.

What does it mean to be a Stutts? What does it mean to be a part of this family?

It means a lot.

Growing up, we had so many traditions from Christmas to the Super Bowl. We learned to celebrate as a family.

Swimming competitively, playing football, cheerleading... We learned to support each other. We learned discipline, commitment, and how to win and lose well. 

Christian values. We learned what abundant life with The Lord looks like. We learned what a godly, healthy marriage looks like. We learned that relationships are more important than material possessions.

But if I had to choose just one thing… Being a Stutts means you serve. Being a part of this family means you give your life away.

The majority of my parents’ adult lives have been spent serving in ministry. Whether it was through a church, Cru, Young Life, or writing, my parents have opened up their hearts and home to anyone and everyone. They've given their time, money, and lives away.

My brothers-in-law and my brother are three of the most courageous, respectable, and admirable men I know. Their service in the Marine Corps, Army, and Navy should bring pride and gratitude to the heart of every American.

My sisters, both pregnant, are two of the strongest and most sacrificial women I know. Every day their husbands were deployed, ready to literally give their lives up, was a day my sisters gave their lives away too. And soon they’ll welcome two little babies into this world, and they’ll put their children’s needs before their own.

So my family… They give themselves away. It's rarely easy. But they do it anyway.

There aren’t enough pages to describe just what it means to be a part of this family. But I thank God I get to call these people my own. Because the more I get to know this broken world, the more I realize that people like them are rare. So if you get the privilege of knowing my parents or siblings, don't take it for granted. Because they’re incredible.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I spent the last two weeks in St. Augustine, Florida at Young Life’s New Staff Training and Cross-Cultural Orientation, which, like everything else Young Life does, was executed with brilliance and excellence. But before you get too jealous of Florida in January, know that I spent 95% of my time in hotel conference rooms and was deprived of the beautiful, warm streets and weather. But I wouldn't trade that 95% for anything. I learned some pretty incredible things and met some pretty amazing people in those conference rooms. That you can be jealous of.

I’m still processing everything I learned, and believe me it’s a ton. But if there’s one thing that has really stood out to me, it’s this idea of “American Christianity.” It's actually been a badgering thought in the back of my head for a couple years now, but not until recently has it boiled so close to the surface.

Let me preface with I love America. Like. A whole, whole lot. I saw American Sniper this afternoon, and my heart swelled with pride, patriotism, and emotion. I hold my American values and beliefs near and dear to my heart, especially as my move to Germany gets closer and closer. 

But as I process everything I’ve learned over the last couple weeks, I realize how American culture has shaped my view of Jesus. Not in a bad way. But it’s definitely limited how I live this so-called Christian life. I’ve been studying the Jewish culture that Abraham and Jesus lived in, the Greek culture that Paul reached out to, present-day German culture, my own American culture, and a few others. It’s broadened my mind, and if I’m being perfectly honest, there are times when I don’t like or want that. It’s hard, painful, and challenging to step outside of my American worldview.

So this I struggle with: I’m not called to be an American-minded Christian… I’m called to be a Kingdom-minded Christian. Now, that doesn’t mean I abandon my American values. I believe God is sovereign, and He 100% intended for me to grow up in the south of the United States. But being Kingdom-minded means I become a student of other cultures. God is so much bigger than my little corner of the world, whether that corner is Fayetteville, Arkansas or Munich, Germany. His mission is bigger than that. His mission is to everyone… Everywhere. Including, but certainly not limited to those corners. He’s been calling people from every nation and culture back to Himself for thousands of years, and somehow I fit into His mission at this point in history. And not in my home country.

It’s deeply humbling.