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

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.

10 years from now

I am blessed with some truly amazing friends. People that EVERY time we are together push me closer to Christ, sharpen and challenge me. Friends that ask questions – hard questions- that leave me thinking and praying for days. Do you know anyone like this? 

On my birthday I got to spend time with a few of my very favorite people in the world. My sweet friend Amy asked me what should have been a pretty easy question. I turned 30 this year, so she asked “where do you see yourself in 10 years?” I gave some crappy, vague answer that basically the last 10, even just the past 5 years, have been so life changing, so full of thing I never could have imagined that I can’t imagine what life would be like in 10 years. Way to avoid the question, right? I’m gonna say she gave me birthday grace because normally she would call me out on that vague mess! But it did get me thinking and even better got me praying. 
It’s VERY easy for me to be happy doing what’s in front of me right now. I am not a task oriented person AT ALL. I am very relational. So I tend to have a hard time planning things because I think more about the people than the task. Does that make since? I know that I want to help others grow in their calling, help them develop leadership skills. But it’s so much easier to think about that with a specific person or group in mind than A broad checklist. But like the old quote says “fail to plan, plan to fail. ” So here is my new answer to the next 10 years:
First, 10 years from now I want my marriage to be stronger and healthier than ever. I look forward to sharing what The Lord has done in our marriage and how far he has brought us.  Lane and Bethany will be 15 and 13 😳 I pray that they will both love the Lord with their whole hearts. I pray they still want to talk to Chris and I and that they trust us. I pray that they have a passion for purity. I pray they are full of kindness and compassion. I want them to know what they believe in and stand firm but be known for what they are for rather than what they are against. 
If you know me well, you know I have a huge passion for Called to Lead. I love serving in this area – helping leaders discover their purpose and helping to equip them to lead the way Christ led. I have a desire to share this with other churches. I don’t know exactly how this will look or when this will happen but I know the Lord has put this on my heart. 
Finally, I believe writing will be a big part of my life. Several months ago I felt like the Lord was telling me to blog more – so I have. I’ve also started journaling more. I’m not sure why – I don’t view myself as an especially gifted writer. I’m sure many of my former English teachers cringe with each post. But for now I will be obedient and trust that if He wants to use me and I make myself available he can do something extraordinary with my average at best words. Like my son learns in kids church – do your best and God will do the rest. 
So now I’m in the process of figuring out what I need to be doing now to prepare myself for then. 
Have you thought about what the next 10 years might look like for you? It’s pretty exciting to dream and the beauty of it is that if I’m wrong and the Lord has something completely different in store, I still know that all my preparation will not be in vain. I will have grown and my family will be stronger.  But if I don’t plan now and simply drift through life for the next decade then I certainly won’t be ready to be used by God. 

Seasons

Next week I turn 30 which is crazy because most of the time I still think I’m 24. For some reason, I’ve thought and reflected about this upcoming birthday more than any other (with the possible exception of my 16th. Hello drivers license!)

30 is one of those milestone birthdays that many people (especially girls) dread. I honestly don’t dread it, as my grandma says turning 30 “sure beats the alternative!” But I have always thought of 30 as adult.Like a real adult. Don’t laugh. I know that I’m a married mom of two and that I should consider myself an adult at this point but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the I’ve-got-this-all-figured-out adult.

 

Back when I was 17 and just graduating high school, I was certain there would be a point (surely by the age of 30!) that I would be an adult and have everything figured out. You know, I would somehow have managed the discover how to maintain a spotless house, cook amazing meals every day,and keep up with all the errands.I would have a beautiful flower garden and maybe even grow some veggies or herbs.  I just knew I would have 3 or 4 perfectly behaved, Jesus lovin’, funny, well-rounded and absolutely adorable children. We would craft, and sing and read and they would NEVER bicker or throw temper tantrums. I would always be wonderful,even-tempered, attentive, supporting and loving wife. I would have a deep and consistently growing relationship with the Lord. I would be active in my church. And of course I would do all of this while managing to be a size four in an adorable dress and the perfect shoes.

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So, here I am a week away from 30 and certainly don’t have it all figured out. So many of my dreams have come true. Some haven’t yet. I haven’t figured out how to perfectly balance my wonderful husband, 2 kids, housework, exercise, errands, and time with the Lord. But I’ve learned to give myself grace when I fail to meet what I think I have to get done, as long as I’m focusing on my priorities.

I certainly don’t have everything figured out. But I’m ok with that too. I’ve learned that seasons seem to change at the blink of an eye. It’s so quick that it sends my head swirling in a million directions but in the middle of my chaos stands One who is steady and faithful. One who is never taken off guard or surprised. One who does have it all figured out — I love that I don’t have to have it all figured out because I know who to run to with my cares and concerns, my dreams and desires — and there is so much peace in that.

This summer I am a part of an amazing small group. It is hands down my favorite summer small group ever. It is filled with mostly single girls – there are a couple of other married girls & one engaged. Oh, how I love Monday nights. Once you move out of that season, you forget what it’s like to be so excited about a first date, the anxious feelings before you get married, or the deep longing to have your 1st baby. Our tendency is to want to rush through whatever season we are in right now instead of sitting back and savoring the moment. I love watching these girls enjoy their seasons.

I remember being single and praying to be in a relationship. Then praying for a spouse. After getting married praying for kids. My twenties have been amazing. I’ve gone through several different seasons but I’ve savored few of them.

I wonder sometimes what blessings we miss in our current season, because we are so focus on what’s next.

So, I may not have it all figured out. In fact, I probably had more “figured out” at 17 than I do now but I will enjoy where I am now. I’m married to an amazing man and blessed with two crazy, Jesus lovin’ babies. I am blessed indeed.