Our Favorite Day(s)

We decided to plan our favorite day, and just get married in the middle of it. With worlds, families, and friends spread throughout the country, with multitudes of homes we've found through various travels, and with vas layers of communities at hand-- and our most intimate of communities having never met each other, "our day" ended up being two... and it was perfect. One day, a family elopement. Our two best friends finally met, we did some of our favorite city things together, we arrived at a home we had found on AirBnb with a breathtaking backyard garden, basked in the most beautiful fall weather, and got married on top of Bernal Heights Hill in San Francisco amongst our immediate--and 20 other loved ones we consider--family. We ate, laughed, cried, and watched our worlds become one until far past sunset, with the city lights bidding us goodnight. 

I tied my dad's shoelaces around my bouquet--my mom had saved a pair of his old shoes--and I chose for this to be a moment for the two of us, as he "walked me down the aisle." He would have loved that. My mom gave me away. My dress (that I got married in) I had found at a vintage boutique thrift shop for $90 a couple months before (plus I re-designed the bottom and sewed some extra panels on it), and I was so, so in love with it. One of Guy's favorite things was having all of his closest friends in one place at one time, his family came from Michigan, friends came from Nashville, Minneapolis, Las Vegas, Sacramento, Orange County, Phoenix, and many other places, and it meant the world to him--to both of us, to have one day where all of our homes were together.

Our second day, wedding #2, we completed the traditions in celebration with hundreds of loved ones, dancing the night away. Some of my favorite things-- For my father-daughter dance, I danced with 4 dads and 2 brothers (read about it here), my dress I picked up the week before on a whim at Free People, and at any given moment my college friends were ruling the dance floor.  Some of Guy's favorite things-- The bountiful amounts of  hot wings, nachos, pizza, and tacos (everyone left full), extended family and friends from over 2 dozen states, and the best music the past decades have had to offer. It was a night for the books.

We're simple folk. And we like living our lives that way. Besides florals & greenery, there were almost no decorations. But the city skyline provided the most beautiful backdrop, our favorite foods provided the best of smells, and the faces of those closest to us provided the most amazing scenery. Though a minimalistic wedding, it was filled to the brim with love, joy, and the wondrous sounds of new beginnings...

Happy One Year Anniversary, my love. Life with you is so much fun.

Photos by Isaiah Beiser / beiserphoto.com

On The Road... Together.

We are now on the road together!

What?!

From the two us—our hearts are out of our skin as we write this.

A little over a year ago I (Guy) felt God saying something to me that I wasn’t expecting. An idea that “my ministry” and “Hosanna’s ministry” were going to become “our ministry,” and that soon we would begin to work closely together, using our gifts as a unit to uniquely share the name of Jesus to people all over the world. As time continued, I started having conversations with her and other people about what that would look like… what that could mean…. if that could even be possible…

After prayer, time in the Word, fasting, and hours of conversations with Hosanna and various friends, leaders, and pastors in our lives, God was tugging on our hearts so hard, we realized that doing ministry together isn’t something we should do, but it is something we MUST do. Our church and pastors agreed, and have officially sent us to do the work God is calling us to do through our ministry—side by side. We have officially said YES to God’s call, and will be partnering in ministry together full-time.

I have nothing but gratitude and thankfulness in my heart for Central Christian Church and all of the amazing people whom I have come to know over the years there. I have had several people ask me, “What is it like to leave Central?” And the honest answer is that even though we are leaving Vegas, Central is still our home, and we aren’t leaving that anytime soon! We are blessed to have such incredible pastors like Jud, Mike, and Ben as a covering, and as our sending church. We deeply cherish them and their families whom we have developed lifelong friendships with.

For me (Hosanna), I’m blown away by Jesus, and my husband’s bold & wild heart to pursue Him.

As we take this step of faith, the memories of the last time I went all in for Jesus are replaying in my head, and I could weep about how faithful God has been...

Almost 5 years ago, Jesus grabbed a hold of my heart and turned my world upside down. I said yes to a call that made little sense to anyone, including myself. I packed up my life, my dreams, my agenda, and all of my stuff into 2 suitcases and began traveling the country, nomadically and alone, sharing the Gospel through storytelling—or what is currently & commonly called spoken word poetry. Jesus wrecked me. Jesus rocked me. And by a series of miracles, I’ve been able to continue this ministry full-time, learning more and more about Jesus, His heart for people, and His heart for His Church.

Now, Jesus has grabbed a hold of me again—except now I’m One with my husband, Guy, and He has grabbed a hold of both of us at once. And as Jesus does, He is turning our world upside down. We’ve said yes to a call that makes little sense to many, including ourselves. With the blessing & sending of our church, leaders, families, & friends, we’ve packed up our lives, and our former plans, and are now traveling the country together full-time, sharing the Gospel through story-telling, spoken word, music, and creative experiences. Together, we are desperately seeking His heart, and through these creative mediums & experiences, begging the world to know Him.

And God is just so faithful, and so, so good… 

As Guy as the producer, manager, & creative director of this ministry, both of us are growing, thriving, and being stretched in the gifts God has given us, as we begin to combine our creative worlds together. So far, it’s been wild. Our fall schedule has us starting in Denver, CO, and ending in the East Coast this winter (with trips to the West Coast in between), before my album comes out in November… and then we start touring again in January (PS the shows Guy is producing for the new album are insane). I’ll be continuing to perform at churches, schools, conferences, camps, & other venues, and we will continue to be performing together (through spoken word & worship) at recovery ministries and urban outreaches all over the country. Nothing on that front has changed. It’s all just becoming… more.

From the two of us— Thank you, thank you, thank you for all of your support. Thank you to our church, Central Christian. To the greater Church at large and our many church families, including Palm Valley Church, Saddleback Church, and Calvary Street. Thank you to our friends and family who are always on board for whatever crazy ideas Jesus throws our way. Thank you to everyone who has booked us this fall, who has paid to come to a show, who has bought a CD, and who supports us through prayers and online shares. We love doing life with you. We’re looking forward to meeting many of you, hearing your stories, and partnering with you along the road.

As the call of Christ on all of our lives—despite titles, job descriptions, or geographic locations— is to love Him and love others like Him, wherever we are, and while we are going, we’re excited to just keep doing that… Wherever. Anywhere. Everywhere. While we are going…

We love you guys,

Guy & Hosanna

Reclaiming A Fatherless Generation

I did not get to dance with my dad at my wedding.

But this is not a sad story.

In many ways, sin stole my dance from me.

My dad was a heroin addict, infected with Hepatitis C from a dirty needle, and died of three forms of cancer when I was 18. Though he died sober, clean, and in love with Jesus, the repercussions of the sin in his own life, and the ripple effect of his choices eventually took their toll. I deeply mourned the loss of my father, the reality of a fatherless life, and the future thought of a wedding without a father-daughter dance.

But this is not sad story.

One of my dad’s prayers during the last days of his life was that I would never be fatherless. It would seem his prayers were left unanswered, that one afternoon in March I ran into his room to find him lifeless and cold. It seemed as if my hope—my dance, had been lost forever.

Certainly, I lost hope for too long of time. I tried to find solace in alcohol, men, status, and image.

People told me it was normal—that I was a victim of a fatherless generation.

However.

Eventually I grew tired of the girl in my mirror half-living. I started to seek the Father—the ultimate Father, desperate for a life far better than this. Slowly but surely, I found a Hope, a Love, and a Security I had never known. I stopped how I was living. I called out to Him. Indeed, He came to my rescue. I latched onto Him with every piece of me. I chose to change my life around.

I told you—this is not a sad story.

For the next few years of my life, dozens of men, pastors, and mentors came alongside of me in the absolute most pivotal seasons, and became like fathers to me. I met them on different sides of the country, in different situations, and for different reasons. Many great men, along with their wives & children, accepted me into their families as their own, believed in me, advocated for me, challenged me, and gave me a second chance at a childhood, a second chance to be seen through a father’s eyes.

What is crazy is that none of these men were raised with perfect examples of Godly fathers in their own lives—so how did this come about? How did they become such great men? At one point in their lives, they too sought the ultimate Father. At one point, they made a decision to be different than the examples they were given. At one point, they were such great men, that when a fatherless, homeless poet came across them, she felt the love of the ultimate Father undoubtedly bursting straight through them, and chose them to fill the gaps the Enemy had stolen. Because God was so strongly inside of them, they became like His hands and feet, His mouthpiece, His reflection, protecting, loving, and encouraging this fatherless girl.

We too can make the choice they made. We can be what no one ever was to us. We can change patterns around. We can seek the Father, love people like Him, and be the examples the world needs to see of redeeming, forgiving, never-quitting love.

Years later, I married an incredible man.

At our wedding, four fathers danced with me—Sean, Mark, Chris, & Yeshua—all men who at different points played major roles in my life. As they each spun me around the dance floor, it was like God’s own hands and feet were sweeping me away. As the music played, it was if God’s own voice were singing, “You are not alone.” I had never seen redemption clearer. My dad’s prayers were answered. I was not fatherless. I had sought the Father. And though I had wandered for quite some time, I eventually found my way back to the dance floor.

For many of us, sin has stolen our dance.

Our mother left us. Our boyfriend cheated on us. Our purity was stolen from us. Our dad was an alcoholic. Our best friend was a liar. We’ve been told we’re not good enough. We’ve been told we’re not pretty enough. We’ve been told we’re not strong enough.

Satan has been lying to us, stealing from us, and trying to destroy us from the ground up. He likes that we think we are a fatherless generation. He likes that we think there is no hope in the world. He likes that we think that we are products of the sin in our lives, the victims of the sins of our families, the outcomes of the sin in our world.

And yet, God says the opposite.

In words God breathed, King David writes,

“Father to the fatherless, defender of widows—

This is God, whose dwelling is holy.

God places the lonely in families;

He sets the prisoners free and gives them joy.”

If we let Him in, God will redeem what Satan has snatched from us. He will be the Father we don’t have. He will be the Best Friend we lost. He will provide for us a home, a family, a freedom, and an ultimate, eternal, exuberant joy. He will out-do what the world has done. He will bring healing to our brokenness. He will give us unwavering victory.

So no, this is not a sad story. But what kind of story is it then? How does it end?

It ends with the choices we make. Are we going to be better than the examples that came before us? Are we going to wholeheartedly seek the ultimate Father, strive to look like Him, love others like Him, and choose to be the fathers, the mothers, the sisters, the brothers, the teachers, and the mentors we never had? Are we going to choose to reclaim what sin has stolen? Are we going to start a new ripple effect of love, kindness, and compassion for the generations to follow us? Who will we choose to be?

After I danced with these four amazing dads, I danced with my awesome brother-in-law, Adonis, and then ended my dance with my little brother, Elijah. Elijah was 12 when we lost our father. He was the first one to grab on to me and hold me when I fell to my knees, finding out about our daddy, and he was the last one spinning me on the dance floor that beautiful wedding day. Elijah is now a leader in our family’s ministry, works in retail, and is a basketball coach to inner-city boys. The love of God is strongly alive in him. When I asked him why he’s so passionate about coaching, he answered me, “None of those boys will grow up and say they didn’t have a man in their life cheering them on. I will be there. Coach Elijah will be there.”

We can choose to turn this cycle around.

I refuse to be called “a fatherless generation.” My Father is here. My Father is available. My Father restores broken lives.

Through my Father, I reclaim the dance that sin had stolen.

My Father—His song plays on. We can choose to dance again.

12 Books I Lent Out the Most in 2014

As a lover of words, I lend out a lot of books. I’m frequently asked for recommendations, and I own multiple copies of certain favorites that I bring with me on the road, and pass out when I meet individuals I think could really benefit from it. My only requirement for them? Pay it forward. I always tell them they must lend it or give it to someone else when they’re done, and let the inspiration continue.

Recently some of my beloved friends— the words of Ginsburg, Kerouac, & Godin—have returned to their shelf-home. Reflecting on which books are looking more worn than others, here’s a list of 12 books I lent out/gave out the most in 2014. Maybe you or someone you know will enjoy these too.

(These are broken up into categories of people I’m asked from the most, and not in order of any individual preference, though I would indeed count many of these as personal favorites.)

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For the many emerging artists, the curious creatives, looking where to start or how to continue…

1) Steal Like An Artist – Austin Kleon

If I could recommend one book to any & every artist, no matter their age or medium, it would be this book. Simple. Practical. Yet not said enough. Endorsed by the creator of TED Talks, Chris Anderson, Kleon writes a fun, empowering, and challenging book to creatives everywhere. If you’re an artist, entrepreneur, or even just a curious, knowledge-hoard, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s a must have. Really though.

2) Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? - Seth Godin

“An artist is someone who uses bravery, insight, creativity, and boldness to challenge the status quo. And an artist takes it personally… Art is a personal act of courage, something one human does that creates change in another.” – SG

Forget competing, forget the money, forget about sitting still. What about the passion? What about the meaning? What about making a difference? What has today’s society lost that we can be a part of bringing back? Godin will challenge the complacency out of you and push you to wake up and create. For a slightly more mature audience—if you don’t own this yet, you need to. Forget the rules. What about your voice?

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For those battling between their passions and their day-jobs, overwhelmed by a dream, but not sure where to begin or how to press on…

3) Quitter – Jon Acuff

Ever struggled with the tension between your current job and your dream job? Acuff, in all his whit and charm, challenges his readers to a new perspective of the “dream job,” and the resources we may miss that are currently around us. No matter if you’re an artist, businessman, athlete, teacher, or any other kind of professional, Acuff teaches practical ways to begin living lives of intentionality today. I love this book you guys, I love it.

4) Courage & Calling – Gordon T. Smith

Similar to the above tension, but even more specific for Christians… Have you ever struggled with the balance between your vocation and your occupation? Living paycheck to paycheck, and still wondering what your true “calling” is? Smith is the man. He offers incredible perspective and insight into our struggle, and helps his audience brush out the knots of our confusing situations. We don’t have to live our lives unsure of our purpose. This book is a light for those in vocational darkness.

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For the many emerging poets, unsure of where to start, or looking to start again…

5) The Beat Book

Spoken word, hip hop, and post-modern literature wouldn’t be where it is today without the profound movement of the Beats in the 1950’s. Out of the heart of San Francisco, this group of people who was just crazy enough to believe our words and our lives should not be censored changed our world forever. This movement of freedom still inspires our spirits today. This anthology of some of the best work of the Beat poets features portions of literature that changed my life many years ago, and I’m sure to re-read certain sections of it every few months. It’s good to be reminded of our literary origins, and those that paved the road before us. There are many anthologies like this; this is just a personal favorite that hits on all the big-hitters. Let Ginsburg’s HOWL, Kerouac’s Road, and Kandel’s Never-Compromising Poetry spark your own words to ignite flames.

6) Poetry as Insurgent Art - Lawrence Ferlinghetti

“Poetry is the truth that reveals all lies, the face without mascara.” - LF

This manifesto of lyrics, essays, and hard-hitting one-liners is one of my favorite mini books to pass on to poets who are ready to go all in. It’s not safe—but it’s inspiring. Ferlinghetti is one of the only surviving original Beats, still living in San Francisco and running the famous City Lights Bookstore, which he founded in 1953. He profoundly and provocatively promotes the importance of poetry and freedom of consciousness, and challenges writers, and soon-to-be-writers alike to push through the boundaries of our present age, and loudly state something that matters.

7) My Words Consume Me: An Anthology of Youth Speaks Poets

If you’re a younger poet/writer, and you want to read more things from people your age, I highly recommend anthologies from Youth Speaks, a non-profit in the Bay Area that leads in the training and raising up young spoken word artists. They host some of the most brilliant and enlightening workshops and poetry slams you will ever see. This specific anthology spoke to me a lot as a young writer, reading the words of the fellow spoken word artists of that time. I first read it 10 years ago, and I’ve never forgotten it. You are never too young to write, and never too young for your voice to be heard. This book proves that.

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For those who love poetry, and want to be reminded and inspired by the story and power of Jesus…

8) The Singer – Calvin Miller

It’s simple, and poetic, yet deep and profound. Originally published in 1975, this spectacular piece of literature is an allegory that all ages can enjoy in seeing Jesus in a new, practical way. Jesus is anything but boring, or redundant. If your heart seeks a reminder of the ground-breaking, life-changing, fear-snatching person that is Jesus, please read this book. It’s inspiring. It’s beautiful. He’ll have your heart singing again.

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For those who love novels, biographies, and are looking to be spiritually challenged and inspired…

9) Heroes & Monsters - Josh James Riebock

There are very few notable post-modern writers out there who are professed Christians, which is how this book first hooked me. Alas, even beyond the sublime syntactical flair lies a timeless message that screams beyond the pages. In his captivating, poetic, biography-ish-type-novel, Reibock tells his own story with such vivid imagination, and deep spiritual truth, you can’t help but get lost in his world and leave feeling inspired. After having lunch with Josh a couple years back, my own approach to writing and speaking noticeably changed, and I am so thankful for this man who writes without fear and creates without apologies. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll take a good look at your own life in new ways.

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For ladies who just need a laugh, and need to not take writing, life, or love too seriously…

10) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – Mindy Kaling

I’ve been a Tina Fey die-hard for as long as I can remember, and was thrilled when Ms. Kaling also skipped her way onto the comedy scene. This book had me rolling. She’s real. She’s raw. She’s hilarious. She says the things most ladies won’t say out loud, or even admit to themselves. Life shouldn’t be taken too seriously, and we shouldn’t take ourselves too seriously. Let Kaling remind you of the joy of trying, failing, laughing at yourself, and succeeding. Don’t let all your reading and writing be too stern. Have some fun with Mindy.

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For those who have looked for happiness through material possessions, or the pleasures of the world, and have come up empty, now seeking a life of substance …

11) Trivial Pursuits – Ian DiOrio

DiOrio challenges the culturally-accepted idea that life is about the pursuit of happiness, and instead presents the notion that what’s really more important is the pursuit of finding purpose. He speaks against a world of materialism and conceit, and advocates for his readers to spend their energy and time into investments that last, that have meaning, and that better ourselves and the world. His story of leaving his life of immense hedonism in exchange for a life of exuberant purpose will rock you. In my personal pursuit towards minimalism and intentionality, this book is a great addition to my library. Side note, he’s also a rad DJ, spoken word extraordinaire, personal good friend, and an amazing role model for artists, writers, and pastors alike. I strongly recommend hearing his message. In a world screaming of greed and competition, DiOrio whispers of an alternate option that could change our lives completely. Take a listen.

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For those on the brink of taking a step of faith, or who need to be reminded of the importance of sharing the Gospel…

12) All In – Mark Batterson

This may be the book I give out the most. I cannot stress enough how valuable it is. Simply said, God wants our minds, bodies, and hearts to be all in for Him. Yet, some of us have allowed the fire grow dim. This book is filled with inspiring stories of many fierce lovers of God who took the plunge to be unapologetically radical for the sake of the Cross. Batterson challenges his readers to not be complacent, lazy, or too safe or too comfortable, but to instead live a dangerous, daring, boundary-pushing life for Christ, a life of total and complete surrender. He argues that if we do, our world, and the world around us, will change. I’d have to agree.

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I hope you enjoyed some of my favorite pieces to pass on in 2014. 

Readers, unite! Let's spread the good stuff. And continue... to pay it forward.

-Hosanna

"When I Purchase from Hosanna Poetry, Where Does the Money Go?"

It’s a wonderful thing that in today’s day & age more brands, clothing lines, non-profits, and superstores alike are being open and honest about how their products are made and where the money goes. In the spirit of this same radical transparency, here is where your money goes when you purchase something from Hosanna Poetry.

The short story? Whenever someone purchases a CD, DVD, shirt, or other piece of merchandise, the profit of that money goes directly towards the ministry and organization of Hosanna Poetry Ministries, and funds the resources to bring the Gospel to schools, prisons, recovery groups, urban ministries, and other organizations and ministries with limited funding.

The full-length story? In 2013, I was going on 3 years performing on the road-- full-time-ish. However, full-time grew harder and harder as there were increasing amounts of urban and low-funded ministries who wanted to hire me, but couldn’t afford it. Of course I was privileged and honored to perform in churches and conferences, but it was never my desire to perform in those venues exclusively. People in recovery, in prison, or on the streets? Those are my people. Broken people—whether in pew or in a cell— are the whole point. I couldn’t say no. So I needed to find a way to resource the funding for them. Truth be told, I did not want to sell merchandise—it felt pretty strange, and a little inauthentic at the time. But then I realized that it would fund the difference. And the ministry would be able to thrive full-time, while also reaching the lost in the less attractive areas. That was worth selling merchandise for. I would do whatever it took.

So that’s still what I do. I do whatever it takes.

Stewardship and integrity in using God’s money is no light matter, and the ministry operates with that in mind. Hosanna Poetry Ministries is a legal business, and every cent I am paid on stage, or at my merchandise table, or on the online store goes directly to the ministry. It does not fund my personal lifestyle. That is completely separate. I personally get a monthly salary like any other employee at any other job, a set amount that’s decided on in the beginning of the year by a group of pastors, based on the bare necessities I need. I grew up a missionary, and that minimalist’s mentality has never left me. I know how little I need to live. That’s what I live off of. Currently, the ministry continuing is the uttermost priority.

For those who consistently purchase merchandise from my team, or who give on the “Support” button of this website, you are able to request a detailed list of where your money went the month you supported this ministry, by signing up for the monthly newsletter on the front page here. In short, the money towards purchases and support in the year 2014 gave towards traveling to and performing in dozens of recovery programs & groups for either free, or at a reduced rate, in prisons throughout the US where free resources were also given out (thanks to you), in hospitals with sick or dying patients (one woman gave her life to Jesus weeks before Cancer took over her body), at homeless outreaches, and amongst former prostitutes and pimps, in safe homes, in recovery, or behind bars.

Thank you for purchasing these shirts, CDs, and more. Your support matters. I see it used effectively every month. And I wish I could thank you all, each to your faces, and tell you the stories of redemption that I’ve heard, the people who have been saved from their old lives, or given up their addictions, and the life stories we’ve all been a part of—because you purchased an album, or bought a shirt for a friend, and gave towards this ministry.

So thank you.

Thank you, thank you.

 

With gratitude,

Hosanna