For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

"Do You Trust Me?"

I lay in the dark pondering the day, too aware of the implications to go to sleep. I had posted quite a bit on Facebook challenging parents and pastors to step and talk about holiness, accountability, commitment, and changed lives with their youth...and themselves.

One of my posts said:

Dear pastors and parents,

If all we have to offer our children and young people are fun activities and a moral lesson, we are failing.
If all we teach our children and young people is what not to do--don't smoke, don't cuss, don't have sex--then we've failed.
If all we teach our children and young people is to memorize scripture, we've failed.
Unless we teach our children to love like Jesus, we have failed.

Today, I am sincerely asking how I am failing as a mom and praying for God to show me how *I* need to love like Jesus and how I need to teach my children and the young people in my realm of influence how to love like Jesus. And I'm not asking this because I have it all together. I'm asking because I realize I don't have it all together, and I trust God to be faithful to answer me and equip and empower me fully for this calling He has given me.

God be with you as you live--and love--intentionally today.

Another said:

Dear Pastors,

There is a difference between building youth groups and equipping and growing godly youth. I've spent most of the day listening to my two teenagers brain storm on ways they can take responsibility for their spiritual growth and the spiritual growth of other youth because they are tired of the mentality that a great youth group is dependent on numbers. They are hungry for God, not a gimmick. They are also at a point when they are deciding if church is relevant or just a requirement for religious purposes. They are choosing to make JESUS relevant.

 I tell you this because my kids are not the only ones asking the good questions, and they are not the only ones who are tired of being told learning Bible stories is enough. They want to learn what life in Christ and for Christ looks like.

I also tell you this as a challenge. My kids are not afraid of being leaders. They are not afraid of hard things, and they are not afraid to call a religious tradition empty. In the last five years, we've left multiple churches because my kids have seen through the smoke and mirrors and marketing tactics to the bottom of the empty well. If my kids who desperately what Christ are willing to leave, so will others. What are YOU doing to stop them? And if you don't know how to stop them, talk to my kids. They will help you because they know every young person is a gift. Every young person has a purpose. Every young person is too valuable to lose.

Jerri Kelley Phillips-friends​
Mom of two teenagers who are choosing to live the counter culture, who are choosing to live Christ

There had been no major fallout, but I knew it was coming, and I lay in the dark and talked honestly with God about it.

"I don't know if I want to do this."

And I didn't.

When Paul says in Ephesians that our battle is not against flesh and blood but against "the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms", he isn't talking in metaphor. I've seen can happen when hell feels threatened, and I had just dropped a nice A-Bomb right in the middle of its plans to take our young people. Y'all may think that is a bit overly dramatic, but I was part of the "let's storm the gates of hell and take back our generation" conference that had taken place in my living room. I knew what was happening here. I knew the strategies being laid out. More than that, I was watching two young people step right into their eternal destinies, and they weren't taking prisoners. Instead, they were going to take prisoners back. There was no way to mistake what happened here yesterday. It was a wide-open declaration of war, and no enemy in its right mind stands by while its kingdom is ravaged. There would be backlash. And I didn't know if I really wanted that.

I wish I could tell you I was all Clint Eastwood yelling, "Bring it on!" But I was more like John Wayne thinking, "So is it a really good idea to take a stick to a nest of already angry hornets?"

And in a voice as clear as any I've ever heard, a simple question filled my room:

Do you trust Me?

Did I trust Him? The question was different than it had ever been. I understood it now. He wasn't asking if I trusted Him to keep me from hard things, but did I trust Him to be present in the hard things? He has a flawless record. While I didn't love the idea of hard things, sometimes the only answer is to take down the hornets' nest. And I trust Him to handle the details.

"Yeah. I trust you."

This afternoon I was on my way to Dallas down our country road. My friend Rod Dreher was discussing and signing his new book How Dante Can Save Your Life, which I love, and I wanted to get my copy signed. Plus, the man challenges me every time we talk. He's a good piece of iron to be sharpened on.

I was on a two-lane, paved farm to market road that is being worked on, and there is loose dirt and gravel in different spots. As I approached this area headed west, I could see the sports car coming toward the corner from the opposite direction. We were both approaching a corner. I was slowed due to the conditions. He wasn't. When I saw him hit the curve, I just stopped my car. There was nowhere to go, no evasive maneuvers to take. He was going to slide. The only question was: would he slide into me?

The back end of his corvette came into my lane, and then the back quarter panel. I sat still and watched as the car went out of control. I wondered if it would go off the other side of the road before it reach my spot or if it would hit the front of my car. I estimated that at its present rate of speed and slide, it would slam into the driver's front headlight just slightly ahead of it slamming into my entire front end. When it hit, I would probably be looking directly at the driver in front of me. I really hoped he was going fast enough to set off my airbag. Otherwise, this was going to hurt.

Then, my whole body relaxed.

And I watched.

I watched this car sliding out of control on loose gravel catch on what honestly looked like one tire and swing into the other lane in time not to hit me.

I immediately thought of my "preemptive strike" post on Facebook yesterday. Between the posts on Facebook and the private messages, I knew I had leapt into a realm where I was not welcome, and I knew the backlash would be vicious, and I asked simply:

"Pray for my family. Pray for me."

As the car drove past me, in my mind or in the air in front of me (I honestly couldn't tell you which), I saw untold numbers of bowed heads, all praying for my family, for me.

I could feel the peaceful smile of God, and again I heard the question,

"Do you trust me?"

Do you trust me to have you?

When I told Rod the story today, his faced showed the holy awe we both knew was due our God, who protects and saves. Rod simply said, "He has you."

I nodded. "Yes, He does."

And I trust Him to keep having us.

For those who are praying for my family and for me, thank you. Thank you for "having" us. My deepest gratitude is yours.

Choosing to trust Him....

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Forgive Me for Asking, but Aren't You Asking the Impossible?

Today, my friend John Perron posted to a Facebook group Divorced with Children concerning the importance of forgiveness. He didn't present it from a "good for your mental health" perspective or even a "good for your kids' mental health" perspective. He wrote it from a spiritual health perspective, which is important because our lives will go the way of our spirits. If our spirits are encumbered with unforgiveness or bitterness, our lives will show it. The biggest issue with our refusing to forgive others, which John pointed out today, is that it separates us from God.

Matthew 6 says:
“This, then, is how you should pray:
...12 And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors....
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
If you turn on over to Matthew 18, it talks about the wicked servant who didn't have mercy on the person who owed him begged mercy from the own he owed. The one he owed threw him jail until he could make up what he owed. Jesus says this is how those who refuse to forgive will be treated.
Now, if you are like I can be, it's easy to make excuses on this one. I mean after all, do you have any idea what that person did? Do you have any idea what kind of trauma that caused? Do you have any idea what that did to me?
But notice, there are no outs on this. Jesus doesn't say we have to forgive unless...
My spouse cheated on me.
My parent beat me.
That person sexually molested me.
That woman gossiped about me and destroyed relationships with people I cared about.
That crappy driver cut me off.
My kid announced he/she is homosexual despite my teaching them it's a sin.
My neighbor's dog jumped the fence and killed our family pet.
(write your excuse here)
The truth is God could hit me with any of the above.
Jerri, you cheated on me. There were times you weren't faithful.
You devalued me in the way you acted, talked, and lived.
You used me for what you could get, not for who I am.
You have gossiped.
You have thoughtlessly risked others' hearts and "driven your life" horribly.
Do we really need to talk about your sins you've committed even when you know it is wrong?
Others' lives have been hurt by you. Their hearts have been broken because of you. You have destroyed, even if it were unintentional, things that were precious to them.
You really want to talk to me about your right to be mad...and your right to expect me to forgive you...even when you're wrong?
The question about forgiveness isn't whether we have a right to forgive or not, but how do we forgive no matter what?
Forgiving someone can be hard, and sometimes people do things you think you could never forget, but God would never ask you to do the impossible. He asks you to go as far as you can go, and then let Him work in you to do the rest. How does that look in real life?
Consciously decide to forgive the person that hurt you. I've prayed honest prayers like, "God, I agree with you that forgiveness is the right thing. I don't know how to do that, but I am choosing to be obedient. I confess I have held unforgiveness in my heart toward that person, but you say in your word if I confess my sins, you are faithful to forgive me and purify me from all unrighteousness.* I need you to forgive me and purify me.
Every time that person and their hurtful action comes to mind, consciously forgive them. "Lord, I'm thinking about this person and what they did again, and it hurts me. I want you to forgive me when I sin, so I am choosing to forgive them."
Heal and let it go. Very often we have a hard time forgiving someone because we are living in the consequences. There are certain consequences we can't do anything about, but we can choose to give the pain to Christ and let Him heal it. "Lord, I have no power over what that person does, but I refuse to let their action determine who I am or my relationship with you. Heal me so I can let this go."
Pray for that person. Don't just pray for that person to do what is best for you, like to fall off the planet or quit making life hard for you. Pray for that person to know Christ, not just in a historical sense, but in a spiritually real way, as Lord and Savior. And get rid of that judgmental attitude that says, "Oh, yeah, that person needs God because he/she is a flipping mess." Yes, other people are stuck in the wake of that person's life in this life, but that person is stuck with it not only in this life but in the one to come.
Quit seeing a person who doles out pain and see a soul in pain. Yep. I know. This is hard, but frankly, when you are all wrapped up in this person who is hell on wheels and wreaks havoc in your life and makes you miserable, I can look at you and see a faithless, whining, self-absorbed, not-looking-remotely-like-Jesus person. When you call, text, email, or post, I can sigh that deep, "God, I dread this person" sigh, or I can see someone in pain and pray, "Lord, may my words be yours, and may they bring healing to this hurting heart. Forgive me for judging. I know what it is to hurt. Give me compassion and forgive me for being condescending. Your heart and your words, Lord. Your heart and your words."
Ask God if there is anyone who haven't forgiven...and don't be defensive when He tells you who it is because it isn't always the "biggies". Sometimes it is small subtle things that stung, ways we feel betrayed by someone, things people didn't do.
Remember, forgiving doesn't mean forgetting. It means you aren't controlled by the memories--mentally, emotionally, physically, or spiritually.
And forgiveness doesn't mean God expects you to let them do it again. It just means you don't determine to make them pay for the rest of their lives because they did it before. Respond to their present behavior, not their past.
Forgiveness can be hard, especially when dealing with ongoing offenses, especially when the person never apologizes. Sometimes it can feel impossible. In our own strength, some things really are impossible to forgive. Some things I've done I think are impossible to forgive, but God is faithful to forgive me...and faithful to help me forgive others. Sometimes I just have to ask Him how.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How I Messed Up My Marriage

More than once I've been asked how my marriage ended. People usually mean am I widow or divorced? Well, legally speaking, it ended when he moved out, I filed for divorce 6 months later, and then he dropped dead of a massive heart attack a month after that. However, that isn't really how it ended. It ended long before that. Marriages do, you know. They end long before someone declares them dead.

Mine ended about the second the pastor said, "I now pronounce you husband and wife."

I know. How in the world can a marriage end at the moment it starts?

Simple. I messed up. Huge.

We dated for nearly three years before we were married. About nine months in, we broke up. Something wasn't okay. I couldn't put my finger on it, but it wasn't. When I tried to talk to him about it, he asked simply, "Do you want to break up?"

And we did.

We shouldn't have. The break up, how it happened, how he reacted, should have told me to run the other direction, but there were a lot of other voices telling me how amazing he was, how perfect he was, how messed up I was. "In fact," these voices told me, "that is the problem. You are so messed up, you don't realize how amazing he is."

I believed them.

THAT is where I messed up.

I messed up when I ignored that quiet voice that said, "This isn't it."
I messed up when I ignored "little things" that concerned me.
I messed up when I chose to look only at the good things.
I messed up when I didn't trust myself when something kept telling me something was seriously wrong.
I messed up when I didn't believe what I knew even though I couldn't put it into words.
I messed up when I said, "I do," because I couldn't give a good reason why I didn't...and didn't think, "Because I don't," wasn't good enough.

Let me tell you something, "Because I don't," is good enough.

I told someone once that I felt like I had gotten on a crazy ride and didn't know how to get off. How do you get off when you are the only one who thinks it isn't the greatest thing ever? When people around you are saying you should feel thankful you were invited in the first place? When people are telling you how crazy and stupid you are for not wanting to be there when they would give anything to be you?

Simple. Step off the ride and say, "Here you go. You can have it." Then walk away.

You don't have to know why someone is wrong for you, only that they are.

And the idea that you can make the right marriage with the wrong person...why would you intentionally do that? I mean really, that's just messed up.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Monday Praying to Live the Potential

Father, it's Monday. Instead of seeing the end of a weekend, I see the beginning of a week filled with potential. May everything that lies before me lead my heart to you. May I see answers instead of obstacles, and may I choose to be a blessing at every opportunity. I ask that you would invade earth through me and people would see your love and your hand reaching into their darkness. I ask that they would see and feel hope and that I would convey the your almighty power to save, not just their souls from sin, but their lives from their broken past and destructive habits. Show me where I sabotage my own blessings and stand in the way of your plans. Forgive my sins. Search my heart and see if their is any offensive way in me. Lead me in the ways everlasting for your name sake. Holy God, be glorified in me. I love you.

---Jerri Kelley Phillips--

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

In a post on my FB page, I said simply:

God's mercy is beautiful.

In truth, I expected several people to like it because we've all known times when God's mercy has protected us from pain. However, mercy does not always protect us from pain. It, in fact, can inflict it.

Mercy sometimes crushes our dreams.
It sometimes totally wrecks out comfortable lives.
It sometimes takes someone we love.

Sometimes in God's mercy, we are not the receivers. We are the witnesses.

I witnessed God's mercy when my mom's battle with cancer was short. I witnessed mercy...when people who suffered emotional and mental loss, who could not overcome the nightmares...or the crushed heart...were allowed to exit that pain early or quickly. Such mercy left many of us with sadness, but it was God's mercy, and it is beautiful.

Faith that Changes Things

Make a difference today.

You don't have to change the whole world, just do something that gives the world an option.

Write a letter to a leader about something that concerns you instead of just griping about it. And write it with respect.
Send a card or a note to someone who is hurting, discouraged, or fighting a battle.
Donate clothes, books, toys, household items to a great cause.
Take flowers to an assisted living facility.
Buy some McDonalds burgers and hand them out to the homeless.
Hand out bottled water to the homeless.
Drop off a case of water or Gatorade at the FD.
Paint the fingernails of the ladies at a nursing home or assisted care facility.
Read books to a child in a hospital.

James 2
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.


(Share your ideas. The more ideas, the more change we can create!)

Monday, April 6, 2015

I Can't Do This

I love my life. I love the incredibly cool stuff has opened the doors to let me do. It looks totally scattered, but in my mind, it all fits and works in such an amazing orchestral way. Part of celebrating resurrection over the weekend was hang and chat time with the Lord God, and He has some really cool ideas...None of which I know how to make happen. I've spent my "down time" today sorting through, resorting, trying this other idea. Nothing was working. All the time I'm working on this, I'm thinking, "God, I don't know how to do this," but I'm more than a conqueror, right? So who am I to confess an inability to do something? But then it hit me. The truth. So I said, "God, I can't do this. Which means it is the perfect place for you to show up and do something above and beyond what I can dream or imagine. THIS is the very place I've been praying for us to reach. We're here. Tell me my part so you can do your part."

No. I still don't have answers, except to tell some of you who are driving yourself crazy refusing to confess "lack" or "speak curses" confess your NEED. Needing God isn't lack. Needing God and knowing He'll accomplish what He said is FAITH. "Lack" is about your attitude which leads to your inaction. Faith is about your attitude that allows HIM to direct you so He can open the door for HIM to act.

Choosing to live the choice to trust His ability despite my inability at a time.

The Hope of Monday

It's the day after "Easter", and you know what you've got besides a bunch of empty plastic eggs and candy? Nothing really.

BUT, if it is the day after the resurrection, do you know what you have? Hope. Because the resurrection wasn't a day. It's a life. It's a promise. Not just an eternal one, but a right now, today, where you are, in the place where you either give up and walk away from that dream, relationship, life plan, destiny...or you hold on and trust the God who can breathe life back into a dead, decaying body can breathe life back into the desire He put in your heart. It doesn't matter how dead it looks.

It doesn't matter how far away from home your prodigal is. It doesn't matter how big that mass is on that MRI. It doesn't matter if you've been pleading and asking for years with no seeming answer. Because here is the truth of the resurrection.

The God who raised Christ from the dead knows exactly where your prodigal is and is ready to lead him/her home. The God who breathed a decaying body back to life can still eradicate cancer from yours. The God who waited three days to raise Jesus because He wanted people to get the impossibility of it all still rocks the house with doing the impossible at the perfect time to show YOU Himself.

So often, we talk about Black Friday, but Black Monday is when we left Easter come and go and forget the reality of the resurrection. What could be blacker than forgetting the hope of a risen Savior and the powerful God who still raises dead things from the grave. When Christ died, hope lay in the darkness. Once He rose, hope was released to the believing.

Father God, hear my prayer for each person who reads this, whether they read it once or over and over because they really want to believe in the resurrection of their dead.

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. -- Ephesians 3

Blessed, Choose to Still Believe in the Resurrection Monday to you all!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

The Original Black Friday

I've heard it said the pertinence of Jesus being in the grave for three days is that some believed a soul could return to the body the first day or two, but three days meant the soul wasn't just hanging around taking a break only to decide it wasn't ready to truly depart, that maybe it wanted or needed more time.

You know the pertinence of Jesus being the grave for three days to me? He was dead.

Really. That is the pertinent issue to me.

Jesus was dead, and there was no miracle worker to call His name and bring Him back. There was no one with the power to lie on Him and breathe Him back to life. There was no one to speak to the dry bones. There was no one to do anything really cool or just weird to make life return. He was dead, and there was no hope He was coming back.

This morning I woke up around 0300, and I lay in my bed staring into the dark, and I tried to get into the profundity of this weekend. I want it to be more than just a fun day with good food and candy. I lay there in the dark and asked the Lord, "Talk to me about this. What do you want me to get out of this?"

Very clearly, I heard one word:


When you are sitting in the dark, staring at the dead, it's easy to lose hope. It's easy to chastise yourself for being stupid enough to believe something way too good to be true. It's easy to be crushed mentally and emotionally because you trusted. It's easy to feel disillusioned because you had grandiose ideas...that someone else had the power to kill.

It's easy to stare in shock as what you just knew was our life's destiny is stolen by someone else, battered beyond recognition, and killed before your very eyes. It's easy to look at what is dead and give up hope of the life you thought you were going to have.

I'm quite sure the disciples felt that way.

And they were right.

The easy lives they thought they would have as nobility under the reign of a King who was going to restore Israel and overthrow her oppressors died with the humiliation of a criminal, not the honor of a king. All they had hoped for was put in a tomb and sealed in darkness.

Think about that for a moment.

The hope lay in the darkness.

What they thought God was going to do was dead.
What God had always planned to do was safe and sound...
in the darkness.

Darkness isn't hopelessness. Darkness is the place hope resides because it is the place God speaks into to create life no one ever dreamed of before.

In Genesis 1, He spoke into the darkness and created an entire physical world that the hosts of heaven had never known. In the Gospels, He spoke into the darkness of the tomb to create an undefeatable King who reigns over sin and death. The hope of salvation didn't live in the human body of Christ. It was born in the resurrected body of Christ. The hope wasn't in His never dying.
The hope was in the darkness where everything was dead...except for the plan of God. 

Hope isn't knowing what God is doing.
Hope is trusting God is doing something.
I know a lot of people who are looking into darkness in a lot of places in their lives right now. I figure a lot of you are, too.
I pray this is a weekend that reminds you of what Jesus did for you
...and what God is still doing for you.
I pray that it is a time of hope...not in what you see...
but in the heart and faithfulness of the God who is doing things you can't see.
Blessed resurrection celebration to you all!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Smell that? If not, wait. It's gonna come.

Here is the crazy thing about the desert. You look around for what feels like forever and all you see if sand. Dry. Miserable. Rubs you raw when it gets in your clothes sand. And everything looks dead. The animals are non-existence. The plants are just there. Then the raindrops start. And the next thing you know, that dry creek bed is a water-filled oasis. The sand that was so dry now becomes the place streams flow. The animals come out of nowhere. The plants bloom. Everythin...g that has been dormant suddenly comes to life. And when the rain finally comes, the desert becomes the garden.

I smell rain.