My life is full of forks. Forks are so definite, linear, and... pointy. We have forks in the road concerning ministry opportunities, further schooling, future career paths, starting a family, managing finances, investing in friendships, lifestyle choices, etc. I think I would very much prefer to be presented with a few spoons instead: spoons are wider and can be more of a catch-all, more can be piled on them with less risk of it toppling over, so they therefore require less decision making and sure make the art of receiving spoon-fed answers a whole lot easier.

It makes me think that God is giving us the utensils needed to start eating meat, meaning our bottle (or spoon) fed, milk drinking days are coming to an end. He is introducing the fork into our lives so we are forced to discern exactly what it is on tho plate he wants us to consume. I  can clearly take this analogy a bit too far, but really, am I ready to try some steak? 

I've been a follower of Christ for essentially 19 of my 23 years (give or take due to some minor inability to comprehend during ages 4-9ish), and I believe that should qualify me to no longer be classified as an infant believer. Yet I find I've been fairly content slurpin on my spiritual milk, without receiving the responsibility of the training and experiences I gained. At this exciting and somewhat overwhelming season of being newly married and at the brink of exploring what God has established as my life's work, it seems as though he is gently insisting I take the fork he thrusting at me so I can begin to dig into the feast he has prepared, while inviting others to join me in learning how to cute, chew and digest our meat.

Since graduating from college, it's been blatantly apparent that I've been severely dependent on the crutches of Bible classes, chapel services, Sunday mornings, and a smorgasbord of wise and caring professors, pastors and mentors for my entire spiritual growth process. This was a healthy blessing in some ways as it fostered an environment that was overflowing with Biblical knowledge, opportunity to test and develop my strengths, and encouragement to pursue God throughout my day, yet it was far to easy to let that be enough-it all looked pretty appetizing piled on my spoon. I had a minor reality heck upon graduating when I noticed the extreme lack of input in these areas after I left my little cocoon. Now it is up to me and my choice to pursue Jesus as he patiently waits to receive me. Of course he has blessed me with placing some of his most beautiful children in my life to support me and grow with me, such as my hubby, my family and dear friends. However, there is no more nourishment and growth unless I make the effort to pick up my utensils and eat--as I meet with him, worship him, serve him, learn more of him, love him.

I'm pleading for his wisdom and grace as Mike and I pick up these forks and dig in. I 'm praying he will help us determine with peace and clarity each individual he desires us to invest in, and to use our time and resources in full recognition of our life's purpose, whether that means grad school, business endeavors, or children..or all 3! I'm praying he gives us the self-discipline and courage to live and purchase ethically and in support of those who have less. I'm praying we are able to trust that he knows our limits and will not give us more than we can handle.

Matthew 22:4
 “Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’


not another B+

I have always known a weakness of mine to be that of making everything 'performance-based.' Growing up in an environment of athletics, school, and fairly accomplished family members definitely fostered this trait into one of prominence and reoccurrence. As long as I got the grade or made the steal, and maybe surpassed a peer as an added bonus, I was set. This tendency has dangerous side-effects of misplaced identity, self-conceitedness, broken relationships, etc. But as I have struggled with it over the past 20+ years I've found the worst of it is when it infiltrates my walk with Christ...which unfortunately is not a great leap and therefore happens often.

If I can just do one more act of service, read His Word for two weeks in a row, say something to really inspire a fellow believer who is discouraged..

...maybe it will be enough.

I've been in Sunday school long enough to know that we, as humans, will never be enough. Good works don't get us into Heaven.
And I sincerely believe that in the deepest part of me. God's grace has always and will always be what fills that extravagant gap between His glory and where we fall short. Although that grace is an absolute mystery, I do understand the beautiful concept of it making up for our insufficiency that we may spend eternity with our Creator.
But how do I live that??

In his grace and sovereignty, God has recently placed me in a position where I have less and less access to the temptation of turning to performance..giving me a glimpse of life without this constant battle.
I'm now married, and I would say it's safe to say most married couples don't intentionally seek out a grade or performance assessment of how they are fulfilling their role as a spouse. We fail, daily. This releases me from the desire to perform in this area of my life, seeing as how I don't even know what arsenal I would draw from in attempting to do so..I'm pretty clueless and reliant on God's guidance, the strength of love, and a patient husband.
He has given me two job opportunities that are primarily based on building deep rooted relationships..which is wonderful and healthy, but is somewhat lacking in seeing tangible fruit-I don't leave for home having manufactured a product or compiled a database..but rather hoping and wondering how much weight there really was in a certain conversation, or if I refrained or spilled too much. Relationships are tricky as it is, let alone basing a 'career' on building and sustaining them! It's nearly impossible for me to assess my performance in either of my work scenarios..which leaves me grasping for something concrete and measurable.

Am I doing enough?

God seems to be taking away any opportunities I might seize to try to answer that question with a resounding yes. It's a scary process, since that is what I have know for so long, yet an exhilarating one, as I am being freed and released to understand my identity solely in Him.

John 1:12But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God.
--> that doesn't say anything about he who performed up to par, or figured out how to be enough within his own abilities, simple he who believes and accepts.

Jesus, humble me, that I may simply and profoundly believe and accept.


til death do us part?

Marriage is like going bald — there's no parting.

Marriage is like a bank account: you put in, you take out, you lose interest.

Marriage may be compared to a cage: the birds outside despair to get in and those within despair to get out.

The formula for a happy marriage is the same as for living in California; when you find a fault, don't dwell on it.

Marriage may often be a stormy lake, but celibacy is almost always a muddy horsepond.

The young girl, who knew nothing and expected everything, looked back at him like a stranger. It occurred to him that marriage was not the safe anchorage he assumed, but a voyage on uncharted seas.

It has become pretty obvious to me that the majority of our country has a slippery hold on the meaning and purpose of marriage. Noting the variety of perspectives shared above, that I tediously gathered from the trustworthy source of google results that popped up from typing in 'marriage metaphors' ...clearly we don't know what to think of it.
As a recent fiancé and now a new wife, this reality is less than comforting. I'm living in a society wrought with divorce and spouses converted into living companions. Even Church leaders, who I would generally turn to as a reliable source of wisdom, seem to be relatively lacking in understanding of what establishes a healthy marriage, since reports of affairs don't decrease in the faith communities.
This is not to say that God hasn't blessed Mike and I with incredible role models in our lives and relationship-we have been supported and upheld by mighty men and women of God throughout the duration of our dating, engagement and marriage relationship through prayers, counsel and encouragement. Yet even those who are faithfully speaking into our lives seem to always come back to the statement that most of marriage is learned by experience. I don't blame our society or our church for setting poor examples-I am very confident in the understanding that one of Satan's strongest battle tactics is to destroy unity, with an especially vicious bent toward the holy union of marriage.
I'm beginning to sense (after only 2 short months) that marriage as a whole is one of our greatest God-given obstacles during our time on earth..but I'm trusting that with that comes one of our greatest God-given blessings and one of the richest experiences we can know. It requires self-sacrifice, vulnerability, intense faith, patience, flexibility, energy, intentionality, creativity, courage, perseverance, and much more I am bound to learn in the next 50+ years.. and all that with a conglomerate of our own experiences, the mistakes of those around us, and the ever available 'wisdom' of the world that forms a somewhat faulty training manual.
And we hope to "beat the odds" and make this thing flourish? yikes.
Though I am painfully aware of how exceptionally difficult it will be to build up a marriage that is strong enough to withstand the torrents and trials that will inevitably come, I am equally confident that the God we serve is one who smiles on marriage, and the intimate union of his children brings him utmost joy and satisfaction. So naturally, he will make himself and his undeniable wisdom and strength completely available to those who are pursuing this feat. I just need to learn how to access it..which I can bet is much easier than I'm making it out to be.
In my devo this morning, I was reminded of a fairly constant battle I find myself fighting: Receiving His Love.
Jesus gently asks..

"Open your mind and heart-your entire being-to receive My Love in full measure. So many of My children limp through their lives starved for Love, because they haven't learned the art of receiving. This is essentially an act of faith: believing that I love you with boundless, everlasting Love. The art of receiving is also a discipline: training your mind to trust Me, coming close to Me with confidence.

Remember that the evil one is the father of lies. Learn to recognize his deceptive intrusions into your thought. One of his favorite deceptions is to undermine your confidence in My unconditional Love. Fight back against these lies! Do not let them go unchallenged. Resist the devil in My Name and he will slink away from you. Draw near to Me, and My Presence will envelop you in Love."

The source of the wisdom and strength He makes so readily available to us is his love. But we need to be open to actively receive that, or we will be left to pitifully attempt to tackle the great challenges of this life (i.e. MARRIAGE) with our own measly strength.

I wrote some considerably ambitious vows to Mike for our wedding day..

"Michael Justin D’Eliso, my Honeypumpkinlover, my manly man, my love.

You are my valiant prince, the one whom I delight in and who takes delight in me. You are a man who knows how to love: you love your God, your family, this earth and the people on it, and me. You love with reckless ambition and sincere earnestness, and I am so blessed to be a recipient of that love.

Standing here with this beautiful group of supporters, mentors and encouragers surrounding us, I want to publicly commit myself to you, as your wife, lover, forever best friend, partner, and fellow Child of the King.

I promise to love you first. I will love you by honoring, cherishing, challenging, and preferring you. I promise to be a wife who believes in you and follows you, whether you lead us to the ends of the earth or to a suburban culdesac. I promise to go on adventures with you, support you in your brokenness, and walk with you beyond your comfort zone. I promise to fulfill what God has called me to do as your wife, so that you may walk out his purpose for you to the fullest potential.

Michael Justin D’Eliso, I pray that God would grant me the grace to be a faithful vessel of his love for you, that in our joining together today, we may embark on a journey of further knowledge of his transforming, abundant, unbelievable love."

..but honestly-how the heck am I supposed to fulfill those? They sincerely came from the deepest places of my heart, however that doesn't guarantee they will be fulfilled in the actions of my body, or even come close. I can only hope to implement these promises through the vessel of God's love, which I first must receive in order for it to be an avenue of pouring out and acting in.

Ephesians 5:1-2

1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love (with your spouse), just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

*italics were my addition


The Corner of 6th and Olive


Chipped nail polish,

The only remnants of the forgotten dreams of royalty,

Now captive in the shattered mirror pieces,

Scattered across the floor.


Like the letters on the eviction sign

That determined this fate.


Weathered and soiled and exposed to reveal

Slipping morals and desperate pleas,

Imposing an age far beyond her years


Meant to be caressed and admired, lotioned and pampered

Yet left bare to gather more wounds.

Tattered lace

A trace of feigned glamour and haphazard lipstick

Tell more than she can say.

Tell a story of mother’s dreams crushed, beauty distorted, fatal mistakes, ambitions violated, lies believed, realities realized and ideals disregarded.

She tells a story she is not capable of speaking,

Her voice dismissed to whatever might fit on a cardboard sign.



These are just a few scattered ramblings following the recent passing of my precious Grandpa..so I'm not promising much for cohesiveness or grammar.

This morning my dad remarked a moment of enlightenment he had earlier as to why my Grandpa and I were so closely bonded: it's just a granddaughter thing. Anyone who has seen my dad within sight of his little "muffin" (my niece Elina) would hastily agree that she is the light of his life. He could be standing the middle of a hailstorm in only his briefs and she would still bring a smile to his face. He noted that there must have been that same connection between my Grandpa and me - a man and his princess of a granddaughter. My Grandpa always called me 'the apple of his eye' which I took to be a slight hyperbole, but I'm discovering he truly loved me that much.

What might actually bring me even more joy than dwelling on the love that we shared is the fact that over this past week I was able to serve him with everything I have. Though it was undoubtedly the hardest week of my life, I will cherish this time tremendously. Because my grandpa was fairly unresponsive over the last few days, he was unable to object to me sitting by his bed for hours, moistening his lips with a sponge, stroking his head, holding his hand, and generally making him as comfortable as possible despite the unpleasant circumstances. I was privileged with the opportunity to love this man through serving him, which ironically was his most prominent way of showing love to others. Our family rallied together in attempt to reciprocate just a small percentage of the tender care Grandpa extended to us over the years. In doing so, we were able to extend the love and grace of Jesus, which brought restoration, dignity, self-worth, identity, and redemption to his life.

In addition to the sweetness of catering to my Grandpa's needs, this week was filled with unforgettable moments of tenderness. Gentle kisses shared between man and wife of 63 years, family stories unearthed from the heart of Steiling tradition, hands held and tears shed and hugs given, blessings whispered, angelic songs sang, family bonded, and love flourished. A specific moment stands out as one I hold most dear from this time: as I was sitting on his bed in the afternoon, he stirred and became fully coherent. I squeezed his hand and told him I was there sitting with him, and I love him dearly, and asked him to just lay and rest while I sat there. He reached toward my shoulder, and I realized I had my curls up in a bun that day. Apparently that just wouldn't do, so I quickly let down my hair and he reached to run his fingers through it. It turns out that my Grandpa sincerely meant it throughout the years when he talked of how he loved my curls. :) I plan to keep my hair long and let my curls flow for as long as they choose to, in honor of this sweet man.

I loved him, respected him, admired him, cherished him, and held him in highest esteem. Now I choose to thank Jesus for taking him home.



Having made the long drive down I-5 to southern California 3 times within the last 5 months, I have come appreciate much of God's creation that can be seen from the car window along the way. The area I look forward to most is definitely the stretch of rolling hills somewhere over the California border. Being an Oregon native, I have no idea where this area actually is in relation to the rest of the state, but it certainly is hard to miss. Grassy hills span what seems to be many acres of land, extending far beyond what one can see from the road. No matter who my companions are or how deep we may be in conversation, as soon as those hills come into sight my eyes are glued to the window. My imagination runs wild with thoughts of racing, spinning, strolling, and rolling through the hills, with only my Jesus keeping my me company. The further I run into the hills, finding the most obscure crevices to bury myself in, the more my troubles and stresses and agendas of every day life simply melt away. There are no people to confuse me or let me down, no expections forced upon me by society, no responsibilities, no fear of failing others or failing myself.

An escape.

Everytime these wistful thoughts cross my mind while I drool over those hills of freedom and abandonment, I find them to be fleeting and short of satisfaction. Aside from knowing that the escape found in the hills couldn't last for long, since the fields lack many things necessary for survival, there is an additional emptiness to those thoughts of running away. Although I know Jesus loves some quality, un-interrupted Britni time, I also know he desires to use me and put me on this earth that I may bear fruit and further his Kingdom. Running from this world may offer a bit of instant gratification and relief, but it also sufficiently seperates me from those broken people that Jesus wants to use me and my testimony to extend his love.

For lack of knowing how to articulate a conclusion to this simple concept, I'll draw on the Word of Yahweh. He usually knows how to say it best :)

When talking to His Father, Jesus asks that we "not be taken out of the World, but that He protect us from the evil one." (John 17)

Therefore we are to be IN this world, among the people of this world, facing the same struggles, hardships, disappointments, frustrations, temptations and sin that the people of this world are facing. The only difference (a BIG difference at that) is that we are living in this world under the protection of the One who created it. Now, shouldn't we also be offering that saving grace and protection to those we are living with?

Join me in running to the people, not to the hills.


take heart.

I hardly ever cried as a kid. In fact, I actually took pride in the fact that more often than not, I would be the only member of my family not crying in a specific situation. It beats me as to why I found this trait admirable--whether it was because I had adopted a 'tough girl' persona to compliment my identity as an athlete, or it was an effort to counteract the innocent and naive air that my high-pitched voice and childish features...regardless of the reasoning, the sweet release of hot tears down my cheek rarely occurred.

However, with a recent average of about one emotional breakdown per week, this characteristic of the former Britni is long gone. My coping mechanism is shifting from a quiet containment of all emotion to a violent, weeping episode of grief, as God is revealing to me a whole new level of his sensitive heart. Each day that I walk through this world, it becomes more and more blaring and apparent that people are tattered and worn. broken. Any time I choose to willingly open my eyes, hopelessness is staring back into my eyes, harshly holding my gaze. What's more, I have discovered a whole new definition to the word hopeless...the woman who has abused her body through prostitution for years and now finds herself with nothing left to offer a man, yet the only people in her life are men who want more...the man who trudges through life with empty pockets and alcohol bottle in hand, only bothering to sober up for his son's basketball games, but debilitating himself to be a father in any other vicinity...the woman who lost her husband and her home, her family has long since abandoned her, and her frail and elderly body can't support a lifestyle of living alone...the child who was robbed of parents at birth due to a fatal disease, and is left to the chance of charity for survival...hopeless.

While walking to the coffee shop where I am sitting now, I passed a young boy being lifted into an ambulance. I observed those passing by, and noted that every person unashamedly gawked and stared as they walked by. We are fascinated by others in pain, in crisis, in trauma. You start telling a gruesome story of a brutal injury or a startling crime and everyone listening sits with rapt attention. Why? I have to assume it is more than just intrigue and curiosity. Humans were made for community and relation. First and foremost, we were created to commune with our God, and secondly to relate to each other. We crave hearing stories that we can cling to and relate to-we yearn to know others who can share in our pain and our joy, our heartache and our success.

So, brothers and sisters, where is this unity that we were so clearly created for? Why are these people suffering in complete hopelessness left to suffer alone? We are all human beings, from the most evil child molester to the most innocent, sweet old woman. We were all created with purpose in mind, all with the purpose of being made into children of God, all with the need for relationship, community, love.

I challenge you now: arm yourself with the penetrating, transforming love of Christ and stand to meet the fierce gaze of hopelessness. Stare it down to the ground and let growth and grace rise in its place.
Romans 12:9-16 "Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God's people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited"