Jubilee! – A sermon for Life in the City

Posted on June 20, 2016

Luke 4:16-30 16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, 17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,     because he has anointed me         to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim ...

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Ministry and Motherhood: I know I love the Church. I think I will love my kids.

Posted on February 16, 2016

I was asked to write a guest post for the blog called "Ministry and Motherhood". I was told to just write whatever I was feeling. It was posted one day before my son was born. You can read it below or on the original website, here.   --- My call to the Church has been just as strong … if not stronger … than my call to motherhood. And so I’ve waited. I put off having kids. I know a lot of young people don’t feel the urgency ...

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Faithful Doubters – Sermon

Posted on November 16, 2015

Mark 9:14-29 14 When they came to the disciples, they saw a great crowd around them, and some scribes arguing with them. 15 When the whole crowd saw him, they were immediately overcome with awe, and they ran forward to greet him. 16 He asked them, “What are you arguing about with them?” 17 Someone from the crowd answered him, “Teacher, I brought you my son; he has a spirit that makes him unable to speak; 18 and whenever it ...

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God in the Boat – Sermon

Posted on June 25, 2015

On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.  But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing...

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What is the nature and purpose of the Church?

Posted on October 19, 2014

Language is great. It's powerful. It's how we communicate to one another. But language, at times, is also confusing. In English, the word "church" can be misunderstood. When talking about the church, exactly to what is one referring? The building? The activities? The people? Something bigger? Church has commonly been defined in two ways, distinguished by using capitalization. There's a big "C" Church and a little "c" church. In most conversa...

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What is salvation and how is it received?

Posted on October 5, 2014

Tonight my church held its quarterly "Celebrate Life" service - where we dedicate babies, do baptisms, and recognize new church members. Along with the adults, several kids were baptized, and some teenagers performed the ritual as well. It made me think about my time as a youth minister. I was asked a lot of questions. I got a few questions from teens who grew up in the church, were baptized at a young age, and eventually became worried ab...

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Who was Jesus Christ and why is he so important to Christians?

Posted on September 28, 2014

It's an important question. Who was Jesus? We all answer this question for ourselves. Is he someone we should reject? Someone we should know about and not pay attention to? Or someone who deserves our life's devotion? I've chosen the latter. I went to seminary and learned a lot of big words about Jesus and God and the Church. But if I were asked to use simple words (the kind of words I prefer) and explain to children who Jesus is, I probably ...

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What Entails A Follower – sermon for Covenant Baptist Church

Posted on September 10, 2014

This month I was invited to preach at my dear friend Kyndall Rae Rothaus's church. Grateful for the opportunity, I got to share a sermon at Covenant Baptist Church in San Antonio while she was away on a retreat. Their church uses the lectionary, and so I preached from Matthew 16:21-28. You may listen to the sermon here: http://covenantbaptist.org/sermons/chansin-esparzas-sermon or read it below. What Entails A Follower Love is such a ...

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Memory from the wilderness with Explore Austin

Posted on August 15, 2014

This year I had the fantastic opportunity of working at Explore Austin, a nonprofit that serves teenagers in East Austin through Leadership, Mentoring, and Adventure. For four months I was their office manager, and during that time I was sent on one of their Summer Wilderness Trips in the Hill Country. When I got back, I wrote a short essay for them to include on their blog, and they published it here: A Birthday Gift To Remember. I am ...

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Green Smoothies – the why and the what

Posted on March 28, 2014

I drink green smoothies. Everyday or every other day, you can bet that I’m throwing a ton of vegetables into a blender and whipping up a green concoction. People usually wrinkle their noses at me when they see it. I’ll be honest. I drink them because they’re good for me. Not because they taste wonderful. But they’re not all bad. You get used to them. Once I’ve had my green smoothie for the day, I feel better about my ...

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What it takes to be a hot dog

Posted on March 26, 2014

I moved to Austin and two weeks later it was SXSW. * SXSW? Don't know what South by Southwest is? Also known as "South by" for those who don't want to finish saying the long name, it is a music festival, film festival, and interactive festival all wrapped up into a two-week experience that draws thousands to Austin every year. You can read about it on Wikipedia here. Shows, events, and parties take place all over the city throughout those ...

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Recipes for a fancy meal … Lamb with a side of Brussel Sprouts, Bacon, and Apples

Posted on March 23, 2014

Phuc and Paula Luu know how to host a dinner party. They have made it onto my blog several times for their delicious food and fun times. The following is part of a dinner menu that is definitely worth sharing. The lamb recipe is simple and tasty - and it impresses guests! The side dish was also a fantastic combination that I would never have thought to try. Phuc let me take notes while he was cooking so I could share it here and reproduce it in ...

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Photo shoot in Austin – Ron Parks Photography

Posted on March 2, 2014

You have to love Groupon. I do. I get on Groupon's website, and not only do I find excellent deals, I also find a multitude of ideas for dates and outings with friends. Kayaking trip? Yes, please! Painting with a Twist discount? Fun! There are also a bunch of practical services offered for a discount on Groupon. This weekend I hired a company to unload my boxes from a truck into my new home after learning about them - and getting a deal - on ...

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Tour of a Thrifty, Whimsical Home

My friends Molly and Patrick Lockwood are the epitome of thrift. They are Christian musicians who reside in Nashville. For the past four years they lived "in community" - in a large 2,500 square-foot house with anywhere from six to eleven total people. This economical way of living taught them many lessons about patience and kindness and cooperation. Fifteen months ago they gave birth to Eli, their first child, and began considering when ...

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Martha Stearns Marshall month – my sermon, ‘Surrendered Petitioning’

Posted on February 13, 2014

February is Martha Stearns Marshall month. It's the month that the Baptist Women in Ministry organization especially encourages congregations to invite women to preach at a Sunday worship service. Not only does it give an opportunity for many women to preach, but it also gives the congregation a chance to raise their awareness and appreciation of the Spirit's gifts in women. I asked my former pastor if I could come back and preach during the ...

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No one should eat alone on Sundays

Posted on January 29, 2014

 It's not fun to eat alone. When I went to college, I moved far from home to a school where I knew no one. Freshmen were required to buy a cafeteria meal plan, and I made a personal vow: Never eat alone. The result was that I had to be bold. If my classmates or roommate didn't eat with me, that meant I had to take my tray and approach someone at a table. Sometimes I had met the person before, and sometimes the people were new to me. "Mind ...

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Tips for selling your house

Posted on January 26, 2014

Want to know what it takes to sell your house the first day it goes on the market? Would it thrill you to get three offers on that first day? How would you feel if two of those offers were with cash? And if one of those cash offers said they would forego getting an inspection done on the house ... they wanted it that much? I wish I could tell you. Really, I wish I could. Because it happened to me, and it was awesome. Unfortunately, there is ...

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“Surrender” – a Poem

Posted on January 24, 2014

Surrender! The pirate God yells To frantic meOn my little canoeWith nothing but closed fists for protectionAgainst the towering boat above.My hopes to reach my dreams, An island paradise, dashedWith my boat sinking, insufficient to get me thereSinking from every self-doubt I poked through it Surrender!He calls againLooking all fierce and untameBut what if he doesn't go the direction I want?I wonder, as the water seeps in, pooling at my ...

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A Hallelujah sermon

Posted on January 18, 2014

We must join in the praise of God. When I read Psalm 148, that's the main message I hear, and so that is what I talked about for my sermon at Grace Baptist Church in Round Rock, Texas. My good friend, Aurelia Pratt, is one of the pastors at Grace, and she invited me to preach at her church the Sunday after Christmas. I felt honored to be given the opportunity. Their church follows the lectionary, and Psalm 148 was one of the texts I could ...

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Poetry reading circle

Posted on January 15, 2014

My experience in English class in high school made me wary of poetry. We had to study poetry in order to take the AP English exam, and the way we talked about it in class confounded me.  Basically, we read old poetry that didn't make a lot of sense to me and we were required to write essays about the meaning of it. The kicker was that the student who came up with the most random explanation and description was praised the most. When ...

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Easy Party Appetizer: Cream Cheese and Spicy Jelly Cracker Dip

Posted on December 30, 2013

My in-laws' party appetizer of choice this past month was so simple but tasty I had to share it. We had it three times in the course of a week, and I still haven't tired of it. If you are looking for an extra item to serve at your New Year's Eve party, consider Cream Cheese and Spicy Jelly Cracker Dip. All you do is unwrap a block of cream cheese, set it on a plate, and pour some pepper jelly on top. Place a little cheese knife alongside ...

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The Good and the Bad of preaching at Truett Seminary’s Chapel

Posted on December 29, 2013

Just a few years ago I didn't know I could preach. I didn't know I would be allowed and it didn't matter anyway because I didn't think I had any gift for it. But I am and I do. Thanks to God, and thanks to Truett Seminary. On December 3 I was awarded the Robert Jackson Robinson Outstanding Student Preacher award at Truett. This is an honor bestowed upon one or more graduating students each semester, and to my amazement, I received ...

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Cantonese-Style Crab Recipe

Posted on December 28, 2013

Our friend, Phuc Luu, recently taught us how to cook crab. Crabs are usually a special treat because they are fairly expensive to buy at the restaurant. Making them at home cuts the cost down quite a bit. But having never personally seen how they were cooked, we have never tried. Turns out it is not so difficult! Phuc let us into his kitchen and taught us a special way to cook the crabs with plenty of flavor so that you do not even need to dip ...

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Ways to keep your mind on Christ during Christmas

Posted on December 25, 2013

Sometimes family and cultural traditions trump Jesus on Christmas. It shouldn't happen. But it does. I don't want that to be my story. I am always going to enjoy visiting family, watching Christmas movies, looking at lights, eating loads of food, giving presents, and playing games. No doubt. God likes those things, too. But I also want to remember that Christmas is the day Christians set aside to celebrate the coming of Immanuel, God with ...

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Seminary Graduation

Posted on December 20, 2013

Today I graduated from Truett Seminary. It took me three and a half years as a full-time student to earn a Master of Divinity degree. Fifteen of us walked across the stage for this December graduation, accepting the diploma from Baylor president Ken Starr, shaking Dean Garland's hand, and sitting down to wonder ... what next? Graduates and family members were invited to a special brunch this morning at the school. It's a tradition. Usually ...

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A busy most wonderful time of the year

Posted on December 17, 2013

Transitions are a whirlwind. In the last month, I have learned, seen, and experienced an overwhelming number of things that I want to share here on this blog. But as you well know, the experiencing of so much sometimes prevents the sharing of it. Do your relationships suffer when life gets hectic? When life gets chaotic, writing gets tossed to the wayside for me, but friendships also are often put on the back burner. For others, it's ...

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Rice and Beans recipes … the amazingly delicious Puerto Rican way

Rice and beans are staple foods among most people groups around the world. The different varieties and various flavorings make them versatile side dishes. Financial planner Dave Ramsey jokes about how the only foods you get to eat when you're working to get out of debt are rice and beans, beans and rice. But if everyone made these two dishes the way my friend, Irma, makes them, they'd be happy to be eating rice and beans. Her Puerto Rican ...

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A word of caution for your grandmothers around finals time

Posted on November 18, 2013

Hey college and graduate students! Finals are fast approaching. And I have a word of warning for your grandmothers. Tell them to take care. Did you know that there is a sudden increase of deaths among students’ relatives at the end of the semester? After years of observation, many professors will attest to this. One professor said that in an average semester, about 10 percent of his students come to him asking for an extension because ...

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Feeling exhausted today?

Posted on November 11, 2013

I am tired. For the past three months I have been working towards the goal of putting our house on the market, and I am finally there. After all the repairs and staging over these months, today I scrubbed the house up and down so the realtor could take photos and post them online. By tomorrow morning people will have the chance to see and buy. Selling our house is one of the many transitions in my life right now, and Jason and I are a bit ...

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Create a personal growth plan

Posted on November 9, 2013

Everyone has a sphere of influence. All of us are leaders – or, at least, potential leaders. Here is a key to becoming a better leader: leading others well begins with leading yourself well.   How do you lead yourself? You make it a priority to continue growing. Recently I heard a speaker give his thoughts on this topic, and he said he learned all about this from the author and pastor John Maxwell. Here are a few highlights: * ...

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