Ladies – A New Years “triple-dog-dare”

This thought lingers in my mind often. I’ve judged much by how I’ve seen this unfold. I’ve seen it in the church. I see it on tv. I see it in my kids movies. I see it everywhere. This has gone on for far too long.

Ladies, let’s step it up and show the world (and more importantly our daughters and other young women in our lives), how this is done.

This all came to a head on Christmas day. Yup. Christmas.

We were watching Brave. Yes, that cute little Disney movie where everyone has a thick Scottish accent. Cute movie. Strong women.

The strong is awesome. How it is portrayed is my HUGE issue.

Women – our purpose is beautiful. It is not weak. It is not passive. It is strong, beautiful, God ordained and grace covered. It requires leading and guiding from the Holy Spirit because it is indeed far greater than we can do on our own. We have much to offer to a room and to the world. To quote Stasi Eldredge “we speak to others that all is well, because of God all shall be well”. Proverbs says that a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised and she is clothed with dignity and strength. Psalms says that “surely goodness and mercy shall follow”. Thanks to Pastor Shelly Nelson, I am constantly reminded that I leave goodness and mercy in my wake.
We are fierce. We handle trials. We handle heartbreak. We weep, we comfort, we are loyal and we feel much pain. We know that joy comes in the morning. We live as an example of God’s heart. He made us on purpose.

This is all true. I speak this with much passion and a desire to live that example and speak this to others. We as women want to offer dignity back to other women who are broken.

There is more.

This strength doesn’t have a camoflage. At it’s rawest state, it is evident.

Raw – not a fun word. It’s exposed. No hiding.

We have strength to offer. We are pretty much awesome.

Here is my beef…

When the men in our lives feel belittled, out to be the idiot, a constant failure and disrespected by us; we have failed.

I’m not just talking about our husbands. This goes for brothers, boyfriends, co-workers, men in our community…um…our SONS…

Imagine what could change if we modeled this for our daughters.

Imagine a shift in a whole culture of men, when our dignity and strength treats them as such. When it invites instead of nags, encourages instead of belittles and recognizes our differences as gifts instead of a curse that we don’t understand.

How does this sound for a New Years Resolution?

Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself…

You get a group of girls together and anything can happen. Add in the fact that we are all part of a new church plant and most of us have had the most topsy-turvy year of our lives thus far; we are a perfect storm of faith, emotion and questionable sanity…and we are right where God wants us.

As a women’s community group, we have been going through 7 by Jen Hatmaker. Having read the book before, I knew potentially what I was throwing my friends into. I couldn’t wait. I think some of their husbands were a little scared. We’ll ignore the fact some of us tend to live in momentary extremes. Their fears are valid. I’ll discuss the differing personalities in a moment. There is a reason God assembles us in our differences. I had certain hopes and prayers going into this. God has exceeded every expectation.

To sum up the first three weeks…

Turns out that talking about reduction, simplicity and fasting goes a lot deeper than the stuff you are giving up. Go figure. This has brought up far more than I anticipated. I love that we can wrestle with what we needed to wrestle with together. This has stirred new dreams, fresh vision and a bold call to action that we can no longer just talk about. Have I mentioned tears? Those were NOT planned. Ah, community…Thank you Jesus…that is all.

We sit and laugh cause that is what we do. We sit and cry over what we used to pursue and how God is giving us fresh eyes.

One who tends to live in extremes mentions selling all her stuff and her house and living under a bridge. We don’t all fully believe she is joking and we thank God that she has us for stability sake.

In the middle of week 2, one girl ended up giving a drunk woman at a restaurant a ride. She turned out to be a stripper, a prostitute and a list of other things. Insert a shattered friends heart after dropping this young woman off at a bus station headed for San Antonio. You can read about that here. Lots of tears followed.

One has filled out a home loan application and bawled over World Vision kids support packets…and takes one named Goodluck. Read about that one here.

Different women, different responses.

This week we went over months 3 and 4. We survived Month 3 talking about possessions. Not without someone (who shall remain nameless) ready to clear out their apartment, every closet included. Month 4 is media month. I thought I was good. Then…a big fat THEN…I got to a portion where Jen talks about what she would go back and say to her 2004 self. I had read this part before. This time, I read it like a blubbering idiot. This time I was reading it out loud. I could read it again right now and would likely have the same reaction. Tears!

Each season of our lives plays a part. We learn, we grow, we change. God jacks us up, we live in the tension and He reveals. We act.

We are all starting to see how to start with where we are and with what is in front of us. There is no going back and we are ok with that 🙂

We have a Garage Sale For Orphans coming up at the end of the month (June 30th to be exact). I can’t imagine a better way to end out reading this book. So we are selling our stuff, our friends stuff, strangers stuff…give us your stuff and we’ll sell it. My kids know where toys and clothes are going. They also know why…and that if they leave that toy on the floor one more time.

So, to summarize…this book is great and much like life, it is best lived out in community. Let the good times roll. We are on this crazy train and we are not alone 🙂

Do I Believe a Lie…

I wonder if I have ever fed a lie. Stay with me…

We believe that His grace is sufficient. We know that it covers, allows and because of His blood His grace conquers. Do we believe that it is enough for all the “before”. The before we knew Christ. Do we believe it is enough for our present? The “after and I should know better”. Both cause us to live in a degree of shame because I think that deep down…we believe a lie.

The conversations I’ve had in the last few weeks leave me freaking speechless. There is beauty in these stories that causes me to stand in complete awe of the love of God.

Recent conversations and a recent book have caused me to look deep…at myself and at the grace of God, the grace that has nothing to do with me. In case you were worried, I hope I cleared that one up.

How often do we believe a lie? Even more frightening is this…how often do we feed a lie? Do we set up rules and limitations?

Someone recently said to me something that went like this. “I want to give my life to God but there is something…”

It does catch me off guard when someone actually says “I have to get something right before I give my life to God”.

Since when is that the gospel?

Isn’t the good news that while we were yet sinners, messed up, scared, confused or flat out blind…that He came. He gave. He did it. It is finished. Those three simple words ruin me. We call on the name of the Lord. His love is what leads to change…not our change leading to His love. We seek Him and find Him. The rule isn’t “get your stuff in order, then call on me…then I can fix it when it’s less broken”. Without Him, it’s never less broken. With Him…even the most broken, lost, confused, so thick in sin they can’t see straight, the scared, the envious and the lonely…we find. We find wholeness, direction, restoration, love, purpose, identity, reason and family. We find love. We find that rescue came. We find that that rescue is the greatest and it is sufficient. We find the joy of their salvation. We find that in that love there is a divine trade of beauty for ashes, gladness for mourning.

My prayer for you is that you find.

I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Monday…Monday!

I start off this fine Monday feeling rather encouraged.

Yesterday was a good day. It wasn’t because we had some record breaking attendance at church (because we didn’t). It wasn’t because of something someone said. It wasn’t because of anything I can put my finger on…it just was. I loved it.

I loved my husband’s message. The Laws of Motion – Disruptions. This was out of Acts 19. You can listen here.

Something else happen yesterday…

I went to a church I’ve never been to before for a Sunday night service. I’ve heard about this church for a long time. I read the book that the pastor wrote. I read it 6 weeks before we had our first service as Revive Church. It was a timely, thought provoking and challenging read. I highly recommend! Since I read it, I knew what the lead pastor’s convictions were. I knew what the vision of the church was. I knew what massive efforts this church continues to make to serve the city. I’ve heard of the community that exists in this huge church. Walking in, this was obvious.

I’d like to take a moment to share what struck me.

Ray was on his way back from being gone with some of the guys from our church. So, I went solo. Meaning, I sat by myself. Awkward! I wasn’t going to let it stop me and took the opportunity to be observant.

I sat alone for a little bit, then a couple asked if the chairs beside me were available. They sat for a whole 2 minutes before they introduced themselves and started asking questions. They asked if I had been there before. I said I had heard of it for a while now but had never attended. The girl looked me in the face, eyes wide and said, “this place is legit”. After that, she proceeded to share with me the vision and ministry emphasis of the church. It wasn’t some long list of what they have, it was a list of the passions of the church. Clearly, she shared it. It wasn’t some overbearing conversation. It was refreshing.

Eventually we started talking specifics. They seemed genuinely interested in what I had to say. They shared the excitement as I shared about Revive. For the second time in a week, someone looked at me and said, “every church starts that way” as a way of encouragement. It was a brief but encouraging conversation.

This was not a church staff member. This was a seemingly involved church member who loved her church.

It had me thinking about how people will talk about Revive Church. I can’t escape how clearly she was able to communicate the vision of the church and her genuine joy in being a part of it.  My communication was challenged.

So…dear members of Austin Stone…thank you for your passion! It was exactly what this church planter needed 🙂

Attention Pastors – Groundbreaking Advice!

The title may exaggerate a smidge. Then again, maybe not.

I’ve said something a lot as of lately. It occurred to me that just maybe someone may benefit from this.

I am a church planter…and I am a waitress. That’s right! It is two very different worlds (and what it has taught me deserves its own post). I’ve learned something in the past two years of waiting tables. In regards to living on mission, being intentional, being a part of your community…I have some ground breaking news that I hope you take as advice.

I know my regulars!

I know mine. They know me. It may start out as me remembering what they drink or eat…but our approach towards someone shifts a tiny bit when they become regulars. Think about it. You frequent the same coffee shop, corner store, restaurant, café…whatever it may be, those employees will know you. You never know what can happen.

So, dear pastor, small group leader…whatever title you have and in whatever capacity you serve…

Be Regular!