Called me higher

Music has always played a huge role in my life. I may not know the name of any song or of most artists but I can tell you the songs that meant the most to me during each season in my life. It’s as if the artist knew my very thoughts and emotions but expressed them in a much more beautiful way than I could have ever imagined.

With that in mind, I love to play worship music while I pray. Small groups launch this weekend (have you found yours?) so I have been praying over all the groups, and over each girl’s name that I know is coming to my group. I noticed that I turn my playlist on but seem to only let one song play.

Called me higher by All Sons and Daughters

As the song played I realized that usually what we think is the easiest thing to do turns out to be the hardest and the hardest thing usually turns out to be the easiest.

In the church, it seems that the easiest thing to do is to show up on Sunday starched and polished, smiling and talking about how very blessed we are. I can easily give the impression on social media that my life is perfect, my kids never misbehave – everything is wonderful all the time. But see that is really the hardest thing. It’s hard to keep up appearance and never let anyone into our real world. Wearing masks is exhausting.

On the other hand letting out walls down seems to be difficult, if not impossible. But I’ve learned that when I take the chance and develop relationships and finally let down my guard and share what I’ve struggled or am struggling with I’m usually met with an amazing response: I’ve been there. Or we are dealing with that right now too!

What?? You mean I’m NOT the only one with issues??

My pastor often says all God’s children have issues and if you don’t think you have issues, then THAT is your issue. Haha

But truthfully satan wants nothing more than for us to live life isolated because then we will buy into his lies. I love 2 Corinthians  1:3-4. Here’s my version of it: So you’ve got issues (sin, addictions, pain, disappointments) come to God, Let him heal you and restore you so that you can walk it out with your friend, co-worker, or neighbor struggling with the same junk. But see the hard part about that is that two people have to take their masks down and show their wounds. So this semester, be brave. be real. step out of your comfort zone and watch what the Lord will do. I’m excited and expectant because…

You have called us higher
You have called us deeper
And we’ll go where You will lead us Lord

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Friday Five

It’s Friday!! It’s the first Friday after school started which means my brain is scattered in many different directions – several if which I thought I’d share with you.

1. Bethany has developed a HUGE fear of toilets that flush automatically. So, my new mom role is to get her on and off the potty while standing just right so that it does not flush until I can get her out of the stall. I wish I could video this process but that would just be highly inappropriate. If I fail to get her out before it flushes, one might think someone was chasing her with a chain saw. It’s pitiful. Anyway I have developed a particularly unique skill over the past 2 weeks. Whenever I rejoin the workforce, I may even add that to my resume. Automatic toilet flushing preventer. Very impressive.

2. On a completely different note, my friends Catherine shared on her blog a couple weeks ago some ABC scripture cards she made for her kids. I love, love, love these! She got the idea here, but her cards have some shorter verses perfect for little ones. I am just now printing these out. Bethany especially loves learning verses and soaks it up like a sponge! Up until this point our scripture learning has been at best random. I’m excited to have some sort of plan to start. So, go check out this free resource if you’re interested.

3. Are you one Pinterest? I obviously am. Somehow I stumbled across this board My imaginary well dressed toddler daughter. It cracks me up.

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4. Lane started soccer practice this week. It was hilarious and awkward.

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We have some work to do this season. Our two focuses: personal space (he met the coach and within minutes was literally hanging on the mans leg. Not sure coach Billy knew what to think about all that love!) and follow the ball. Bless his heart. The coach would say “go to the goal!” And he would but not with the ball. But boy was IN THE GOAL. Maybe I need to let coach know my child takes everything literal.

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5. Small groups launch this week and I’m so excited I can’t stand it! Small group launch is like Christmas to me because every semester I meet new friends and make new relationship that push me closer to Christ and challenge me like never before. I get excited because I know it’s somebody’s first small group semester and their life is about to change in ways they were not expecting! So, if you go to highlands register your group or join one!! Your life will never be the same. If you don’t go to highlands, do whatever your church does. Join a Sunday school class, a cell group, a Bible study – get in relationship!! You won’t regret it!

21 Days

This week started one of my favorite season at Highlands – 21 days of prayer. Twice a year the church body sets aside 21 days to focus on prayer (January is prayer and fasting). It is my very favorite time of year at church! Earlier this week I was in bed remembering past seasons. I’ve entered these times with many different emotions. I was at Highlands for a couple of years before I ever participated. I’ve had times when I was eager and excited to see what the Lord might do but I’ve also had times when I’ve entered the 21 days completely desperate for an answer and a move of God! I vividly remember times when I so desperately needed God to come through because on my own the problem or situation could not change. Times when it felt like the air was completely knocked out of me and I needed His fresh air to revive me.

Have you felt like this?

Maybe your marriage or finances are struggling? Or maybe a child or a loved one is spiraling out of control and needs help? Or maybe someone dear to you is literally fighting for their life, their health? Maybe you’re longing for a spouse or a child? Or mourning the loss of someone?

Whatever the situation, I think everyone comes to the point of desperately needing God to come to their rescue.

Over the summer, I was in a small group that studied Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle, the prayer challenge that goes along with Circle Maker. (This book is amazing!! Get it if you haven’t read it!) Anyway, it talks about praying bold, audacious prayers because bold prayers honor God and God honors bold prayers. We only attribute the miracle to God, when God is the only one that could have made that miracle happen – make sense?

Anyway as I read the book, I realized that when I was praying those desperate prayers (or circling a prayer), that too often once I saw God moving and changing a situation my fervent, constant prayers turned into passionate once a day prayers and then turned into once a week prayers. I saw God moving and PRAISED Him and thanked Him and then slowed my prayers for those situations. The Lord showed me during the summer semester that I was settling for a partially answered prayer because the situation moved from bad to good rather than pressing in and continuing to circle my prayer until God completely answered my prayer.

But God is not just a good God – He is a great, almighty God.

God is a God of order and details. He knows and cares about every detail of my life (and yours!). His desire is not to give us an ok marriage or a “we’re makin’ in it” finances. He sent His Son that we “may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance (to the full, till it overflows).”

According to Webster, Abundance means an extremely plentiful or over sufficient quantity or supply; overflowing fullness.

There is nothing average or common about the life God desires to give us. There is no situation that is too big or too messed up that He can’t handle.

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! Ephesians 3:20 msg

So this 21 days, I’m reminding myself never give up, never stop praying. Even when it looks like the situation is getting better, never slack off praying until the prayer has been answered entirely.

Is there anything you were praying diligently for and then for whatever reason stop or slacked off? Never give up. Never stop praying. We serve a faithful God.

THE Church

It’s really no secret how much I love my church. But occasionally there are moments when I feel like my heart very well may explode at any given moment. Occasionally I step back and just watch – It’s a beautiful thing when you can watch the church be the church, love the church and build up the church. When pride and competition are out of the picture and all that is left is a common goal: to Love Jesus and make Him known among all nations.

Tonight we just finished up Day 2 of GROW, a conference specifically aimed to help churches under 1000 exceed 1000. Many of these churches are young church plants, but oh how these pastors and leaders are desperate for a move of God in their cities. It blows my mind that in one night I was able to talk to leaders from London, Tampa, Houston, Chicago and Idaho. I get the honor and privilege of telling them how small groups and serving on the dream team has literally CHANGED MY LIFE. Not in some fake cliché way, but authentically changed my life. My walk with the Lord is stronger than ever, I’ve learned how to pray bold audacious prayers, how to lead like Christ. I’ve learned the importance of having a mentor, accountability partner, and mentee. We were never meant to do life alone! I’ve learned to dream God-size dreams. My relationships from small groups literally saved my marriage. My life is noticeably different – I pray my life is noticeably different.

So the fact that I get to share even the tiniest bit with these pastors about the heartbeat and the DNA of our church is such an honor. I am literally watching global missions take place under one roof . {What other setting are you able to serve for such a short time period and touch people from so many different places!} These pastors are being trained, equipped, encouraged, and prayed over and they are going to go back to their churches and change the world. Because the local church mobilized is the hope of the world.

One of the things I love about this week every summer is watching all these churches come together. When you boil it all down, church isn’t about us. It’s about reaching the lost. God is distracted by the lost. He loves seeing his kids gather to worship, but his heart is breaking for those still away from home. So as a church, it’s our responsibility to steward well (not hoard!) the resources the Lord has given us in order to leverage them in such a way to reach more people. It is so exciting to be able to freely give everything we have to these churches and then watch as the Lord blesses and used them to reach areas we would never be able to impact.

So tonight my heart is full. THE church is a beautiful thing. I’m praying that each church represented would experience fresh vision and passion this week. That the Lord would show them unprecedented favor and when it’s all said and done millions will come to know Jesus as their personal savior.

Oceans

The beach has long been my favorite place in the world. There is a beauty and majesty that leaves me in awe. It’s impossible for me to stand on the shore of an ocean and not be overwhelmed with how big our God is yet he still knows me intimately and loves me deeply.

This morning I’m up watching wave after wave crash on the shore and I am so overwhelmed by the love of God. A love that I’ve known for almost 20 years. But every now and then I experience it in a new way, a deeper way.
I’ve realized how similar my relationship with God is to this huge ocean.  I imagine sitting in the water and with each wave that crashes over me The Lord is teaching me something new about His character, His love or His passions. Sometimes he’s teaching me the same lesson but taking me a bit deeper. Because just like this great ocean, if I was instantly dropped out in the middle or immediately saw the full glory of The Lord I know that I couldn’t handle it. I would be fully consumed by His goodness and holiness. So I wait and press in and eagerly anticipate the next wave the Lord sends over me.

Answered Prayers

Everyday Bethany Claire cracks me up, like I literally laugh out loud at the child. She says the craziest things. Sometimes I share what she says on twitter. Sometimes you just need to see the way her eyes light up or hear the sweet tone or giggle in her voice.

Yesterday she came running up to me as proud as she could be and declared “I have my busters on!!” After asking a couple of different questions to figure out what she was talking about I asked her to show me. She pointed to her feet. She had her “slippers” on.

She calls every bug a spider. This morning, I was driving down Valleydale and one of the billboards had a ladybug. It she started yelling “SPIDER! SPIDER! We have to be VERY careful!”

She blends words. Instead of saying “little bit” or “just a minute”. She says she wants to do things for a “little minute.”

If a toy is lost it’s a BIG mystery! Once she finds the toy, it becomes her treasure.

Somehow, Chris and I started talking about all the little things Bethany says everyday. I mentioned that I don’t remember Lane saying such funny things at this age. Which is really odd because Lane is such a funny kid.

Then it hit me.

Lane didn’t say things like this because when he was Bethany’s age he was basically nonverbal. He could say a couple of words, but almost everything was single syllables. He called me “Ma” for the longest time. In fact when Lane was Bethany’s age right now we were doing Speech therapy with the ARC and testing him trying to get him in to the Hoover school’s preschool program for early intervention. That year was full of prayers over sweet Lane. It was full of frustration for me. That was such a helpless time – not knowing how to help your child.

Earlier that same year Bethany got a bad report from the pediatrician. He spotted something wrong with her eyes. We were referred to another Dr. If it was confirmed, best case she would have to have surgery and glasses, worst case she would be blind. Again the prayers of so many that covered my sweet baby.

Fast forward two years.

Bethany eyes are perfect. She never needed surgery or glasses. Lane is talking very well. Actually, he talks almost constantly.

So, what’s my point? Our God is a good and faithful God. He answers prayers for us constantly. He loves my kids and is concerned for them far more than I do – I can’t even comprehend a love deeper than I have for them but I KNOW He loves them more.

I don’t know about you, but it is SO easy for me to get busy doing life and before I realize it I’ve forgotten about all the times God has come to my rescue. My prayer this week has been that I would remember all the times the Lord has been so good and faithful to me.

I read Psalm 145 today and absolutely loved every bit of it. He can never be praised enough!

So, if you’re struggling or heavy burdened right now. I challenge you think about the times God has proven himself faithful in your life. If you’re like me, it won’t take long to think of several times God has shown up! Remembering those moments and all God’s promises encourage me to boldly approach the Lord with any situation. Never forget He cares about what’s on your heart and He loves you more than you know.

Ps 145 MSG:
I’ll bless you every day, and keep it up from now to eternity. God is magnificent; he can never be praised enough. There are no boundaries to his greatness. Generation after generation stands in awe of your work; each one tells stories of your mighty acts. Your beauty and splendor have everyone talking; I compose songs on your wonders. Your marvelous doings are headline news; I could write a book full of the details of your greatness. The fame of your goodness spreads across the country; your righteousness is on everyone’s lips. God is all mercy and grace— not quick to anger, is rich in love. God is good to one and all; everything he does is suffused with grace. Creation and creatures applaud you, God; your holy people bless you. They talk about the glories of your rule, they exclaim over your splendor, Letting the world know of your power for good, the lavish splendor of your kingdom. Your kingdom is a kingdom eternal; you never get voted out of office. God always does what he says, and is gracious in everything he does. God gives a hand to those down on their luck, gives a fresh start to those ready to quit. All eyes are on you, expectant; you give them their meals on time. Generous to a fault, you lavish your favor on all creatures. Everything God does is right— the trademark on all his works is love. God’s there, listening for all who pray, for all who pray and mean it. He does what’s best for those who fear him— hears them call out, and saves them. God sticks by all who love him, but it’s all over for those who don’t. My mouth is filled with God’s praise. Let everything living bless him, bless his holy name from now to eternity!

Scripture Memory

For years I have absolutely LOVED Beth Moore! She is inspiring and challenging. When she teaches difficult concepts they instantly become elementary (a testament of what a great teacher she really is!) Any way, she has always been someone I’ve looked up to but I just recently discovered she has a blog for her ministry. How in the world have I missed this gem! She and her team challenge and encourage me with EVERY post. And bonus, I LOVE that she constantly reinforces the need to be involved in a local church.

Back to my point, I noticed Beth (from here on out we are going to pretend like Beth and I are best friends. We do after all go way back, whether or not she realizes it.) So, Beth apparently does this Siesta Scripture Memory Challenge every year – You pick a verse every two weeks and commit to memorizing it. She has a blog post on the 1st and 14th of each month where you can share your verse and translation you are using.

Now when I think of memory verses, obviously VBS is one of the first things that comes to mind. But probably one of the most meaningful and first memories I have where I really learned scriptures was at Crosspoint (a summer camp) probably 1995 or ’96. Our group leader promised to dye his hair a crazy color if  so many of us learned every memory verse that week – and we did. To this day, I still remember the jist of those verses. Maybe not word for word but definitely the heart of the verses all because I was motivated to have some college kid dye his hair purple.

I’ve had other seasons since when I really focus on scripture memory, but honestly, it has been too long since the last time I put forth real effort. So, I’m joining in on Beth’s scripture memory team. I would love for some of you (who reads this thing anyway?) to join me! If you want to be official go here http://blog.lproof.org/2013/01/2013-siesta-scripture-memory-team-verse-1.html and join. It’s ok that your joining late. Don’t feel like you have to catch up. I don’t want this to become some legalistic thing to add to my “good christian checklist” Bleh! None of that.

Jesus used the Word when he was faced with temptation. The Bible clearly says that His word will not return void. So imagine what it would look like if we stood together and learned 26 verses. How would our prayer life be different? How would our bad days be different? How would our thoughts and emotions change? What would our marriages look like? It fires me up just thinking about it! So if you’ve read ALL this, I totally give you permission to ask me how I’m doing in this area, as long as you promise to show me grace – deal? I want His word buried deep.

So, here are my first two verses – Yes I did feel the need to catch up BUT I chose two verses that I mostly knew but tend to flip the words around and I never remember where they are located! I am also the type person that will write something I’ve already done onto my to-do list just so I can have the satisfaction of marking it off!

ok, verse #1

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things  Phil 4:8 NIV

verse #2
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love and self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 NLT

If you decide this is something you are interested in doing, would you let me know? I would love to walk this out with some other people I actually know!