Favorite Things: Miles for Musicians Edition

Happy Giving Tuesday! We have just come off of a week of giving thanks and rest. Who am I kidding…Black Friday shopping and Cyber Monday shopping…and thanking God for the internet and only having to leave my house over the last few days because I wanted to.

Today, we give thanks again and I have the perfect opportunity for all of us.

If you have seen my Instagram, you know a few things:

  1. On Sunday, we are at Central City Austin at 1006 W Koenig at 10:30. We will always save you a seat.
  2. Never miss a Monday…or Tuesday or Thursday. I work out before the sun comes up, even when it’s cold and even when I don’t feel like it.
  3. I run. A lot. I registered to run a marathon for the third time and the training is in full swing. I am running this thing on purpose and for the purpose of others and their mental health.

What does this have to do with Giving Tuesday?

The good news is, I’ll do the running and need your help to help me make those miles matter for those in the music industry in Austin.

I have wanted to serve the creative community in Austin and didn’t know where to start. I wanted a way to honor my cousin Caleb where I live. I wanted a way to show up and show love and support in a tangible way. The question of where to start got really easy. Not that running 26.2 miles is easy, but the reason will a driving force.

The SIMS Foundation provides services that are absolutely vital to the creative community that make our city so great. Not only do musicians make our city a better place, we are all better because of their creativity. We need them healthy to continue to share their gifts with our city and the world around us. I hope to raise a lot of money so that they can serve musicians and their families well. Please check out what all this incredible organization does to help those struggling with addiction and beyond.

So help me! Donate, share the link below, spread the word, pray for me (cause training is hard and with this cause pushing me, the emotions are going to be really real).

You can read more and donate here – Miles for Musicians

I get to run this race for the musician and in honor of my cousin Caleb.

Join me in making these miles matter!

Favorite Things: I Thought I Was Strong Edition

I grew up thinking I was strong. Like physically strong. Today I work out and run and am intentional about physical activity. This was not always the case. I didn’t work out, I wasn’t in sports and other than carrying around my cousins and playing outside, I wasn’t so much focused on physical activity. But I thought I was strong.

It wasn’t an uncommon occurrence to hear the request but it was always funniest on the rare moment when my cousin Rhonda wasn’t at home. That was when Matt decided to move furniture around. Not just around, sometimes it was move it from the basement. I remember this one time with this grandfather clock. Matt would yell, “hey girls, come help me move this” and without even thinking what we were moving, or if we thought we could, we jumped in. We were helpful.

I thought I was strong.

I really wasn’t but you couldn’t convince me otherwise. For starters, Matt asked for our help so of course he thought we could do it and that was reason enough to pitch in and pick a corner.

On the count of 3, and go. And we did.

Now as an adult, I realize why I thought I was strong.  Matt was carrying the great majority of the weight. I never stood a chance with that grandfather clock. I never felt the full brunt of what I was helping with. I only knew my corner or my side, but to be fair, I wasn’t carrying my fair share. At the time I thought I was being really helpful. I was probably more leverage than anything but I thought I was a part and I was convinced that the role I played mattered in the grand scheme of carrying that grandfather clock up those stairs.

I look back and laugh at just how confident I was in my ability. I don’t hate it. I hope my kids feel the same way.

As the calendar got closer and closer to Caleb’s Cup this past year, I kept coming back to this silly image over and over again. Those basement steps, that giant clock, those girls who were helping and the guy at the bottom of the steps who told them that they could. He was carrying more than those girls knew but those girls knew they were doing something important.

The more I thought on it, the more God showed me.

I saw Matt and Rhonda and the rest of my family carrying the grandfather clock of grief and vision and heart and determination but much like me as a teenager, they wouldn’t know the full weight of what they were carrying. Since Caleb died, they have carried a lot. They have walked through their own pain but it became much more than that. They have loved others in their own losses and pain and have stood in the gap to make sure their story isn’t repeated. They love in ways that point me back to that grandfather clock. The full weight is too much to bear but yet somehow, up the stairs they go.

I see that grandfather clock being a lot of different things. It can be pain, it can be purpose. It can be any number of things.

Our obedience to carry our corner of the clock, our trusting in who has the base at the bottom of the steps and won’t let the weight crush us and our joy in being called into something bigger than us.

I don’t know what your clock is but I am recently reminded in a fresh way of how I am carrying it, the joy of the journey and looking back and realizing I never understood the full weight of what I was carrying because God the who calls me to it knows the part he has given me the strength to carry and calls me forward.

Favorite Things Monday: He Split the Stinking Sea Edition

My first thought of a title was the “Heart Stretched Thin Edition”. Who doesn’t need a bigger picture on Monday? I most certainly do. While my first thought was valid, I went with the one I was the most bossy about.

Today has been a day. I started writing Favorite Things Monday posts in attempt to combat the Mondays. Writing this out is therapeutic for me. It’s like my journal that I invite you to read. It’s been a place to talk about the good and the bad and helps me (and hopefully others) keep their eyes on the main thing. The main thing always tends to get lost so we get back to that, the bigger pictures and the hope found in seemingly small things. So today, it has been a day and a perfect one to write something that puts me back in my place. And one that reminds me of God’s grace, mercy and his unfailing love and faithfulness. Today screams it and I need reminded of it all at the same time.

Life is so tricky like that.

So often I have wondered how joy and sorrow can co-exist. How does frustration, disappointment and awe all take up resident in one heart at the same time? Not only does it, I have had plenty of opportunity to see how God uses it. The problem is, I see how He works that out when I am on the other side. My problem is seeing it for what it is in the present.

Don’t we all? Just me? This is why I write.

Six years ago today, we started a church. It was called Revive Church (3 1/2 years ago, that church merged with Austin Grace and became Central City Austin). Six years ago today, I didn’t know if I would just cry or throw up. Six years ago we had worked up to a launch of something brand new. Something that had burned in our hearts for years. Something we had prayed for, talked about, dreamed about and sacrificed for. Six years ago was a new beginning to something that had been stirring for a long time.

In six years, I have known more excitement, disappointment, discouragement, joy, fear, anticipation and have walked into more unknowns than I ever imagined and certainly more than I have in my life up to this point.

And you guys…we are just getting started.

Today it made me cry. A lot. Like, off and on all day (except for at the work bowling event, I maintained my cool…but my bowling score was terrible). I have never reacted to this day like this before. And today, the makeup is basically gone. I think I went through every emotion possible today. Some of it was gratitude. A lot of it was. But some others snuck in there and they screamed loud. It’s been a beautiful and really crazy and often difficult six years. Some times you just have to feel it. Today, I felt six years worth and even as I am writing, it sits in my throat and falls from my eyes.

The best is still yet to come. It always is with Jesus. It always is with His Church. It always is because we are His.

Today was Caleb’s Cup. My family makes me cry. They are have put one foot in front of the other, putting purpose to pain and inviting others to join them. I miss them something fierce today but I am beyond proud of them. I am so glad that God lets me call them mine.

Putting one foot in front of the other is always worth it. Always. God shows up in our faith steps, our grief, our joy and everything in between. He is good. He does not fail.

On Sunday, I led No Longer Slaves and while any part of that song is worth getting stuck on, this week I was stuck on our sea splitting God.

He split the stinking sea! He did it for his people. Jesus went to a cross and the veil in the temple…the separation between God and man was torn in two. He splits the sea, he tears the separation and calls us His own.

So here we go. Our God who splits seas and does not fail, He is with us, He goes before us, He made a way just to get to us and we are his people, He is our God, we are His Church.

This stretched thin heart can rest in the God who is that for his kids…

Favorite Things Monday – My People Edition

Hello Holiday Weekend!

Can we start with some ridiculousness? It’s my blog…my ridiculous. Most of this city woke up with an extra skip in our step. It’s the beginning of college football. This already makes me happy. My team winning made for a good weekend. My favorite team showing up and playing like we haven’t seen in a long time and winning in double overtime… Pretty sure everyone woke up feeling more exhausted than anticipated and regrets nothing.

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After years of Labor Day being another day, I am always grateful for the paid day off. We may be less than a month removed from vacation but by the end of the first two weeks of school, I am ready for a breather. Now, I am a weirdo and my sanity should be questioned. Did I still get up stupid early this morning? Oh, you betcha. Why? Peer pressure. I run with friends…and this group of friends signed up for 5 weeks of Camp Gladiator. Surely this will make us the beastliest of all the runners. Last week we were a sore bunch. We kept at it…but we basically defined sore from Monday – Friday. And like most weirdos, I regret nothing.

So, gratitude? Friends who will do the ridiculous things and encourage you to keep at it. I am surrounded by amazing friends who do just that. We actually do make each other better. Whether it is a fitness goal or planting a church (coming up on that 5 year anniversary….5 YEARS!)…surround yourself with a particular kind of crazy and your life will be better for it. I am better because of the people I do life with. We are not all the same but who needs more people exactly like them? Better together, indeed.

Natalie and miss baby Sara J came to visit this weekend! I have said for years and I continue to say it, “When my people get married, I get new people”. It’s also true that “when my people have people, I get new people”. So, this weekend, I finally got to meet my new person. She looks EXACTLY like her momma and we are kind of obsessed with her. And my apologies, there is not a single picture with Natalie from this weekend.

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This time next week I will be in Atlanta, surrounded by family, friends and what are sure to be a bunch of new faces that will become friends. Family does that, it makes strangers friends…and friends become family. This will be a gathering to put purpose to pain, to celebrate life. 

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Celebrating life that should still be here. It breaks my heart over and over again. I get to hug my family after what has been the hardest 7 months EVER. I have missed them so much.

My family has wasted no time. Matt and Rhonda are my hero’s. They always have been. The last 7 months has been too much but they haven’t let that stop them. Grief and unfathomable pain has hit over and over but they haven’t let it stop them. So while we get to celebrate Caleb, we also get to honor his amazing parents. They look at a generation with broken hearts and clear eyes. I wouldn’t be me if not for them… I’m not the only one whose life is marked by theirs…and there is more to come behind me.

We serve a good God who gives good gifts. Psalms 5:12 says” For You, O Lord will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield”.

I have seen it over and over again. In my life, in answered prayers for friends I couldn’t get to in times of crisis and heartbreak… In times of great joy and great pain… And Church…this goes for all of us.

So often, that shield is in the form of other people. God’s favor is so often in the gift of His people. We really are better together.

 

Trust it

I’m gonna state the obvious. On occasion (cough cough) keeping perspective at the forefront of my thoughts and emotions is a big challenge. Said the female.

Yesterday was a tough one mentally. I blame having Monday off for Labor Day. I LOVE having holidays off…and blessed with a job that pays me to stay home on those days. This does mean that Tuesdays are ugly Mondays in disguise. This also means I had a free Monday to ponder what I would do with that 8-5 Monday – Friday time. Danger man! Danger!

Instead of pondering all day (cause work was…work), I decided to put on some old school Hillsong and go with it. Not my brightest idea (cause that NEVER stirs up anything. Said the liar.) but it was where the Lord reminded me of something’s. I needed it.

God is good at the constant reminders.
This is why we can get caught up on a few small words, clouds and a good cup of coffee w/friends. His reminders are as timely as His working.

1. His timing is divine. We are not required to understand it but called to rest in it.
2. If God is breaking something in me, I should let Him do it. This means not rushing His process and try to manipulate the specifics.
3. I’m not crazy. The song Solution really does turn me into a hot mess. I’m gonna let go and let God do that too.

I’ve learned to trust that…sometimes I simply need the reminder.

A wedding, a dance floor and community

A couple of weeks ago was wedding day for a fantastic couple in our church. It was an all hands on deck day that ended with a special couple saying “I do”. It was a great day. You have got to love a bride out of her mind happy, not caring about all the decor she had been making by hand for months…cause when it came down to it, this day was her dream and it was going to be perfect.

And it was…

The one thing I decided I couldn’t escape writing is the one thing I don’t have pictures of.

The dance floor.

Please – weep at my failure. It was greatness.

I went to take Sophia to the bathroom (the flower girl who didn’t know what to do with herself in a tu-tu after discovering a near-by playground…the tights had holes before the day was over) and returned to a sight.

We can call it many things, I call it community. It was the dance floor. Some knew the steps, some didn’t care, some tried, some didn’t…we all had fun…even if it was because someone made them.

Ready for the profound…life is like a dance floor. It’s only sad if you are too scared to jump in on the fun.

Here are a few pictures of that precious day. The last one is of Cephas, worn out while his sister was already snoring. This is the face of a long day of being patient. His sister was in the wedding, Ray did the ceremony and I ran around making sure the bride was relaxing and in hiding.

 

 

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Fear – Throwing a Book At It

As a women’s community group, we have been going through What Women Fear by Angie Smith.

Fear

How very broad. It is everywhere and seems to come from everything. What we experience, what we don’t, what we have, what we lack, what we see, what we don’t see, the past, present, future…it seems to have a hand in a lot of our thought processes.

This has made me rather reflective. I was a big chicken as a child. I don’t fear the same things I did then but it was a big enough part of my life for it to bring up a lot of bold memories.

One thing in particular has been a constant my whole life regarding fear.

How my momma handled it.

The first verse I ever remember being required to memorize was 2 Timothy 1:7. Nothing about obeying your parents or about women being silent. Mom was cool like that. My Mom refused to coddle my fear and knew that she couldn’t do it for me. After all, I would freak when she prayed “for the Lord to send angels to encamp around about us”. My Mom is a praying one…and she knew she couldn’t do this for me. Instead, she equipped me. She handed me to the tools and left the light on. Baby steps folks.

I looked up on my bookshelf to see an old friend circa 1992.

I chuckle a little bit. Walk with me through my childhood.

This was a gift. Merry Christmas 1992.

 

The name…mine. The tattered pages…due to excessive use.

The highlighting was my handy work. An issue with fear much?

 

I stayed up at night with the light on praying these scriptures. I fell asleep holding these pages and their promises.

 

Momma knew where to direct me and I’m glad she did.

Thanksgiving 2012 Recap

Thanksgiving Day has come and gone.

I ran the Turkey Trot with my sick friend who still managed to not only complete it but run a good 95% of that hilly 5 miles. I’ll smile completing that one with Miss Katie at a 10:32 mile average. We’ve ran faster…but also way healthier. I call it success. I’m also glad she didn’t hold back that last mile and hauled it with me. Races on Thanksgiving Day are fun! Running them in Austin, TX with 23,000 other people is really fun. Laughing at those dressed in full costume (at least they had on clothes) and the one guy who was running (ahead of us) in flip-flops was ridiculous. Katie spotted some women playing wind instruments as racers past (Revive Women – shout out…you know) and a guy in costume throwing up in the bushes while his friend stood and laughed. I live in a fit city. We acknowledged the lady in her 70’s in front of us and accepted that she would cross the finish line before we did.

Running is fun…races are more fun. Austin, TX is my favorite!

We are still full and still have a small plate of leftover dessert. That seems to happen every year. We eat our fill, mention how we are full but don’t feel like a total glutton; then it happens. The kitchen is clean, the coffee is brewed and the kids are content. It’s dessert time. How in the world that many people manage to have that many dessert options and quantity at one table tends to amaze. That day is over. The thanksgiving part of it all is part of daily life, but the glutton feast of gratitude is over…for now.

I didn’t get a single picture from our family Thanksgiving. It’s a shame. I like these people. I know that not every man great man has the family to match. Y’all, I hit the motherload and know just how blessed I am.

I didn’t post a thousand “what I’m thankful for” on Thanksgiving Day and my daily “thankful” posts haven’t been as consistent as I planned…but that doesn’t mean they are far in heart. We learn what gratitude is in unexpected seasons and unexpected places.

I’m blessed with one truly incredible, faith walking, risk taking, obedient to the call of God, handsome and loving husband, kids, family, friends and church. I’m grateful for those near and far.

The Christmas season is upon us. I LOVE IT! Let the music, lights and joy of it all begin. Remember the Reason, show some love and

Revive Church – tis the season…let’s do this!

Here’s Your Shoes

The last two weeks have been a bit crazy. The head-spinning-need-a-nap kind.
My husband’s grandmother passed away two weeks ago. My in-laws are some of the best people I know. In the thick of that week, my mother in-law tells me this story about a pastor friend of theirs. To keep what I could turn into a lengthy story, I’ll summarize.

Their friend is a pastor. This is his story. Thank God for other people’s stories. He was worn out, broke and ready to give up. His shoes had holes. Thats no fun…but then the heel on his wife’s shoe broke.  The man was done. Who doesn’t know the straw that breaks the camel’s back? As he sat in his hotel room, not wanting to preach that night, someone knocked on the door. A woman stood there and said, “man who preaches the word of God, the Lord sees you, he hasn’t forgotten you”. She gives the man two pairs of shoes in the right sizes.

 God is faithful. He sees.

Behold, the power of shoes. Clearly, this is more than about the shoes.

Ray just finished a series entitled ‘UNcomfortable’. It was a great series. I’m glad it’s over. Ha! This series brought out the stretch. This is a good thing…it’s still “uncomfortable”. Get it? Keep talking about Abraham and see where your faith is stretched.
Ray said on Sunday, “we don’t strive to hear the words “well done my good and safe servant”. We don’t walk naive or blind…we calculate the risk and we go where God leads and do what He calls.

In a moment of discouragement (and discomfort) I found myself asking God for shoes. Not actual shoes…but a reminder. Within the hour, my phone goes off. A sweet tweet from a sweet girl in a small town that will forever hold a piece of my heart…

“talking about Terra Nova’s humble beginnings tonight. Thank you. Love and miss you.”

I could practically hear God say “shoes”.

I immediately burst into tears.

While it may not seem like much to some, to me it was the world and God speaking. It was the reminder of how God uses beginnings. It was a reminder that others are watching your beginnings. It was God saying “I AM WITH YOU”.

That tweet, my shoes.