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: Reality Check Edition

Full confession: I roll my eyes at 87% of all posts that start or end with “just being real”…or something to that affect.

Why? Because 87% of the time, it’s not out of the ordinary and no one thought otherwise. It’s not a confession. It’s not being honest. It’s you picking up your kids in your pj’s or leaving your laundry on the couch and no one thinks that that is that weird. Feel free to keep posting, but please stop calling it “real life”. Of course it is.

The differences are in our reality. I also could go on a crazy tirade about how often we use the word “realistic” to describe other people. We use it to describe other women but what we are doing is writing them off. We do it with body shape, weight, how clean our house is and how we spend our time, how we raise our kids and every other thing in between. Their “realistic” and yours don’t have to be the same to be true.

I did something that I rarely do. I tried on a one piece bathing suit. I grabbed it off the rack. It was cute and it was on sale. I decided to try it on and I laughed. I’m still laughing. How quickly I seemed to forget that I am just shy of 5’8″ and have a long torso. This bathing suit was NOT created for my reality. It was for sure created for someone else’s and it is surely as adorable on them as it was on me in my imagination. It would have only fit if I ran around like Quasimodo. I hope that leaves you with a visual.

We get lost in our own reality. There are days that we forget the one that we live in and we run out of grace for ourselves. There are days that we look at others and ask how in the world they could possibly complain. We get stuck this way and no one wins. I am a wife, mom, pastor, runner, writer, leader and a full-time employee for a company that does not pay me to do any of the other things listed. And thank God for it during this crazy time in our life. My reality on the last day of school is not begrudging how many times my kids will ask me for a snack this summer. My reality is that I will wake up tomorrow, put on pants (I really have a problem) and go to work while my kids are sleeping and my husband goes about his work day from home.

I have friends who are stay-at-home mom’s and they are planning their summer and how many times they will tell their kids to read a book if they are bored. That’s ok.

I will do things in an attempt to save time and still end up eating dinner at 8:30pm because that is our life schedule 4 out of 7 days a week. I have friends who will feed their family dinner at the same time I am getting home from work.

Some mom’s stay at home. Some wish they could and much like me, put on pants and talk about how it’s too hot for them. Some love their jobs outside of their home and know that that is what makes them awesome and the best mom to their kids. Some live in both worlds hoping they are doing the right thing. Some are crying over the last day of school because it means those kids will need activities all summer long. Some are crying because they wish they were driving their kids to the pool and library and every free event they can find. If it ain’t indoors or in water, sister don’t even try.

Can we all agree that this whole thing is not easy? Not for a single one of us. Can we all agree to show the different realities some grace? Can we all agree to pray for my eye rolling problem? I’ll work on it but only if we can collectively realize that her reality is not your problem and vice versa.

Can we all agree that we GET to do this? Ray and I just got to get away for 2 whole days. We got away for our first wedding anniversary and our 15th. We rested. We got to have conversations we have needed to have. We got to sit and watch the sunset. We got to take a step back and realize that we needed to get away but we love our life and are grateful it isn’t something we want to be away from. Is it easy? No. It isn’t. We work really hard, we stay really busy, have big dreams, big vision and even bigger God who continues to work these things out in us.

But this reality? We get to do this life that God calls us to. Take a step back with me and take a deep breath. The kids will ask for a snack or you will have to put pants on…and it will all be there tomorrow. For now, remember that He has prepared GOOD WORKS for us. For YOU! He has GOOD plans. He is a GOOD God. We got this.

 

 

Favorite Things: What To Do With All of This Edition

How do you sum up the last couple of weeks?

There is scene in the movie Something’s Gotta Give where Diane Keaton is standing on the streets of New York, heartbroken over Jack Nicholson (playing who I am convinced is his actual self) and she says the best line; “what do I do with all of this”.

And those words, friends, sums it all up.

(Side note: not at all for the same reasons. But those words… Stick with me, I’m going somewhere)

What do I do with all of this?

Those words have probably summed up a decent part of my emotional state for a while now.

We had had a CRAZY couple of weeks. I mean crazy. You know the week with the phone calls and the feelings and life and all while trying to prepare to host our IF Local. It was a couple of weeks where I felt I needed to explain that I am not a “the devil is around every corner” type of person but I know an attack when I see one. Sometimes it looks like a thousand little things and some of those things aren’t even the thing, it’s the lies that try to sneak in with them. Then I call my husband weeping from a conference room at work. It was one of those. On top of that, I knew day 2 of IF was the two year mark of losing Caleb. I wasn’t out to run from any of the feelings (this is progress) that came with it but the reality was, it was coming and it made my heart ache.

IF Gathering always brings up a lot for me. There are a couple of reasons but you have to know, it is one of my most favorite things that we get to be a part of as a church. IF Table is a regular for us as women in my church (and if you aren’t apart of CCA, you are totally invited…we like making friends) and IF Equip is an awesome source for daily bible study. I love what they do and how they do it and it is absolutely ALL about Jesus, His church and what we can do together for His kingdom. I’m all about it.

But what does it bring up? Everything.

The first year I stood in my kitchen crying because I had tried to run away from how I was feeling. But God gave me Ray Ortiz. The man who asks questions. The fact of the matter was, I didn’t know what to do with all of this. All of the desire in my heart to serve God in a greater capacity and have NO IDEA where to start had reaching a breaking point. I was afraid I was going to hear one more message about being willing to step outside my comfort zone. We planted a church, y’all and if you think for one second there aren’t one hundred other “only Jesus” things in our heart and on paper…Hello, my name is Chantel Ortiz. I haven’t been “comfortable” since…I don’t even know. I know now that that is not what this was about. All the passion is my heart was breaking my heart and I didn’t know what to do. So I told my husband and cried in the kitchen.

What do I do with all this…

That became the question and the more I seek the Lord, I don’t have an answer but I have Him. The “all of this” could do several unhealthy things. Giving up is not only not in my nature, when something has you and not the other way around, you just can’t. Turning to cynicism and bitterness or frustration were all options and I won’t lie and say I have never been there but I couldn’t stay there. But instead, with all of this, I am learning to lean in closer. I’m praying prayers that scare me and I am praying them over and over again. The Lord is pinpointing areas of fear and where it is a giant lie about His heart. When I lean in, wondering what to do with all this, the passion doesn’t dwindle, the dreams don’t die and my heart can suddenly take on a little more than the day before.

So what happened when a bunch of women got together in a living room and worshiped together, ate together, prayed, sought the Lord together and talked about it? The “all of this” grows but feels less scary. The big things in life are still big things but the way we carry them changes. We carry them together, bring the things slowing us down to the Lord together and through it all God just keeps drawing us closer to Himself. The dreams and the passions grow but He starts to give us feet. Our dependence shifts off of ourselves to something far more scary and totally freeing. It’s not about our ability anymore. We aren’t afraid of the seemingly small steps of obedience. We don’t look down on them.

We are learning what to do with all of this. One step at a time. Loving one person at a time. Leaning in to God and His word one day at a time. He is faithful. He doesn’t mess up. He didn’t give you that passion to torment you. Lean in. He knows what to do with all He’s given you.

 

 

 

 

Favorite Things Monday: Day Off Edition

Hello Everyone!

Hello Monday!

I did something today that I rarely get to do. I took a day off for no reason other than that I desperately needed a day off. We had plans for later this month that we cancelled for the sake of margin, other people’s schedules, our kids schedules and to be honest, our own sanity. Today was a day off that wasn’t a holiday and it didn’t count against my paid time off at work. And I loved every bit of today.

I wasn’t super crazy productive. I didn’t spend hours working on something else or taking on some huge organizing project. I got to enjoy coffee on the lake with my husband, lunch out and a trip to Costco…BECAUSE I COULD. Now I get to sit and study over the verses in my head, write and answer questions about math homework. They may seem like little things to be grateful for but in life’s crazy seasons, they end up being the really big things.

Do I wish every Monday were like this? Yes. Yes I do. I really do. Today, I’m grateful for this one and the space to breathe. I needed to do that one simple thing.

I don’t want to fall into this trap that I feel is specifically laid out for me. It’s like those tire spikes along entrances to important places that as long as you drive over them the right way, you are fine but backup or go the wrong way and you get to replace your tires. It can be the thing I look over or the thing that stops me and costs me time and heart.

I wish every Monday was like today. It isn’t. I wish every cap on a full weekend was another day to catch my breath. Not so much.

All of us are in trenches of some sort. Some are more seen than others. So to you my friend, I see you. You aren’t alone. I’m fighting this unseen message tooth and nail and thanks to this pesky book that tends to keep calling my name, I keep going back to John 12.

So go there with me for a minute.

I’m a bit obsessed with Mary Magdalene right now. I like to think of her as this woman who just gave the stink eye to cultural norms of that day and kept trucking but she was so much more than that. This past week I have been looking at her life. This is a woman who sat at a position of learning from Jesus. She sat at his feet. In John 12 she gives what others say is a waste and washes his feet in an act of worship. The oil she used was costly. She gave him her security. She was at the foot of the cross at the crucifixion. She was the woman at the empty tomb that Jesus called by name. She saw him first. She did that culture stink eye thing again and went and declared that HE WAS RISEN INDEED.

We have a woman in a culture that did not value her. She had the boldness to do and be and go and speak and for Mary, it is easy to say that it was because of where she had been willing to sit. I have tried to put myself in her shoes. I can’t without all of the details. You guys know I love details. I can’t just see a woman declaring a risen Savior without seeing her worship, her wait (OUCH), her surrender and her pain at the foot of the cross.

All of it. The whole story. Every big and seemingly small detail comes together to write a story that only God could have put together. I want His story in my life. I would have taken the easy way out and missed the whole point…

Pardon me today as I need the reminder, yet again, of how all of these little things matter but what makes me who I am are not the moments everyone sees. I’m not a fan of things messing with me but I’m learning to lean into this one.

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Things…Tuesday: Love So Much It’s Shocking Edition

I woke up this morning with an abundance of gratitude in my heart. It’s my cousin Rhonda’s birthday! You guys…I am confident that 50 has never looked so good!

I wanted to share just a few of the giant ways she has shaped my life, shown me Jesus and pushes me forward as an adult. The older I get, the more grateful I become. The older I get, I realize just how insane it must have been to have been in the middle of raising small children and have your 14yr old cousin sleeping in your living room (even before my mom and sisters moved in). Today, it made me cry. Rhonda was about my age when I was moving out of her house, taking a gap year (that’s not what you called it then) and off to college. That is insane. And listen, this didn’t start when I was a teenager.

We live in a day and age when people have suddenly realized that it is healthy to talk about their struggles. The only weird part about this to me is how this seems to be ground breaking when it was always normal. I remember Rhonda singing and crying, then telling the church about her struggle with postpartum depression. I was 14 and on the front row. I remember her vulnerability and how important it was and what it broke through. She was so strong to me then.

She let me see her life. She let me see her struggle. She let me see Jesus be enough. She sang the songs in her home long before she sang them in public. She lived them out then…she lives them out now.

She taught me the beauty of home and inviting others into it. That you really can make a difference in someones life at a kitchen table and comfy couches in a living room (and a thousand other moments and places….I used to love to sit on the kitchen floor). Who knew that running errands and noise and kids and chaos would be a cherished memory that makes me cry.

She continues to be who God has made her to be and it continues to point me right back to him. Her loss has been great. I hate that she isn’t getting a birthday hug from Caleb. I really really hate that. She has not let the worst of the worst pain stop her…and it breaks my heart and fills it with joy at the same time. Love people so much like Jesus that it’s shocking.

I believe that small things like cozy blankets, perfectly scented candles and a freshly vacuumed living room is enough to cure what ails you, even if for just a moment. I still think that the right happy lipstick can boost a mood and your whole face. It never occurred to me that you had kids then stopped fixing your hair or putting on real clothes. A day in pj’s was never something to apologize for but those were the days were would turn on the A/C and the fireplace. I have a hilarious appreciation for 90’s soap operas. We laughed hysterically and I still appreciate it. And that isn’t the half of it.

Hey Rhonda Lucas! I love you SOOOO much!!!! The best is yet to come!!!!

 

We are who we are in part because of the people around us. I am grateful for the family that set the stage for my life. I am grateful for an incredible church leadership team, an amazing church, a fierce family and amazing friends. My kids are seeing this now. Life happens in the crazy of it all and in it we get to see Jesus be enough.

 

I tried to write last night. I really did. I wanted to. I couldn’t because yesterday was too much. After a beautiful and fun and incredibly long weekend, we woke up Monday morning to the news in Las Vegas. I just didn’t know what to write in light of it. Love always wins. Love is always greater than hate. Sometimes horror knocks on the front door but the truth of love and the love of Jesus still wins.

 

 

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: Here We Go Again Edition

Here we go again!

Can you hear the echo? It’s on the news. It’s on our social media feeds. It’s on our minds, in our prayers and our hearts. Another storm…another round of fear and unknown…another riding it out…another “here we go again”. Is there another one behind it? No way, Jose. We got no time for you.

I don’t want to talk about it. I want to move on to something else but for this week, I just can’t. These storms keep lining up. They keep bringing us back to the same conversations. They keep stretching our families. They keep stretching our faith.

I don’t want to talk about storms and life and feel the correlation. Again, I just can’t help it. There are so many other things but right now, I can’t seem to get away from it. Give me this one last week to hang on it.

This round of storms didn’t hit us here in Texas. It has hit our families and friends…and friends, that alone does a number on us all.

Our pre-worship practice conversations tend to be entertaining but this week, there was no avoiding how these storms had our attention. But more than that, the God who is present in the storm had our attention. And we praised Him for being bigger than the storm.

So on that line of crazy women worship leaders on Sunday, you had one with family in the path, one with her momma in the path and me. I had family that had been in the path of the storm but was mostly getting a ton of rain and wind. We were a combo of faith and hot mess. And because God is good and bigger than the storm…and even bigger than the storm on the inside of us…we worshipped.

And He reminded us yet again, that He is God and He is good.

We know this. We hang on to this. But storms cause us to hold on a little differently.

Storms do that. I’ll be honest, some storms have rocked me harder than others. For me, there have been storms that while I knew God was with me, there was a little lie that got planted into my heart about his heart toward me (more on that later). But then God in his kindness shows His actual heart. Storms may rock us. Storms may scare us. But over time I have learned that they cause me to hold on a little differently. God is so good to embrace this combo of faith and hot mess and hold us all together.

 

 

Favorite Things Monday: After the Storm Edition

I love a good holiday weekend. I love having off on a Monday. We are ending out the day totally worn out. And we earned it. It’s still quite hot but we still braved the water with kayaks and the Town Lake Trail. It got too hot. My kids were able to hang in there with us for 45 minutes on the water, followed by a 6 mile bike ride. Family movie night is starting and we are all just plain done.

We get to do this today. It doesn’t get past me that while we have had the chance to rest, many in our state are assessing damage, cutting out sheetrock from flood water, removing debris and some are still just having to wait.

I’m going somewhere with this, so please hang with me.

My cousin Mackenzie just turned 22. I am so incredibly proud of who she is and who she is becoming. I love how the maybe unconventional age gap between my mom and her brothers allowed me to born when my cousins were in their early teenage years, then they had kids when I was a teenager…and then I had kids…you get the pattern. They are an incredible joy in my life and their lives are a constant source of celebration to me. Mackenzie has been fierce since she entered the world and she is just getting started. I remember every bit of the day she was born and the years living in the same house. I remember when she was a baby…a fussy baby. I was 14 that summer and I get the memories of walking a fussy baby back and forth on that long front porch, singing songs, trying to calm her down and put her to sleep. I cherish those memories. I remember it was something so simple that put her little world back together.

Then a giant flood hit my family. Loss is such a mean thing. The sting just pounds over and over. What broke my heart in an especially heartbreaking way was how life would never again be simple and the seemingly simple things that could put Mackenzie’s world back together no longer worked. There were no right words, no special song, no walk on a front porch, no jokes, movies or silly games. Nothing could fix what was broken. The only way to fix it would be to turn back time and stop the tragedy altogether. And I couldn’t.

A giant flood has hit areas of our state. It has caught people off guard with flooding, sudden loss and devastation. It has driven a lot of people to donate money and necessities. It has driven many to feeling completely helpless. I don’t blame them. We can’t turn back time. We can’t stop or change the storm. Many of us can’t rush in and fix what is broken and even if we could, what used to be is no longer and there is no “fixing” that. I don’t know about you but I know this for myself and a lot of friends around me; we are doers and fixers and when we can’t do either we get overwhelmed. When our hands feel tied, we feel helpless.

Here is what hit me this week:

We may be helpless, but we are not powerless.

I believe that prayer actually does make a difference. That God moves mountains, heals hearts, restores families and homes and no one is hidden from or can hide from his sight and his love. I believe that God can do far more with what I give than what I could do with what I hold on to.

We are not without hope. Those who have lost are not without hope. Those who are grieving are not without hope. There may not be turning back time to keep tragedy from happening. The old and simple ways of making someone’s world right no longer fix whats broken but I have to keep telling myself the truth: We are not powerless.

Love big. Give extravagantly. Listen well. When you can, go and do. When you can’t, give and pray.

We are not powerless in the face of pain and devastation.

 

Favorite Things Monday: People of Action Edition

Clear eyes

Full hearts

Can’t lose

Texas is all over the news, our media feeds and more than any of that, our hearts. Someone had the audacity to name a hurricane Harvey. It’s such a tame sounding name. It’s what you name your favorite dog or a horse in an animated movie. It sounded tame, then hit our coast with a freakish vengeance.

Our news feeds have gone from seeing the worst of humanity last week to seeing the best of humanity. When tragedy hits, people really do come together. They go their neighbor, they rescue, they provide, they love, they show up in whatever way is needed over and over again. Our hearts break but somewhere in the chaos, our souls feel the fresh air when we see the loving of each other.

I have friends who are safe and sound, some having to leave their homes and another waiting word as her parents are having to evacuate. I knew the storm would be bad but I have lived here long enough to know the after affects of a storm tend to mean flood waters. We are safe and after a weekend of rain and wind, we are dry here in the Austin area. But our friends are not. That is not ok with me.

Pray for Texas. Donate.

Last week, I talked about how they are all big steps. The seemingly small thing is actually a big thing. We can’t see the big impact of our seemingly small step.

Prayer is no small thing.

Giving is no small thing.

Don’t be overwhelmed into inaction. That may be the thing we do best. That is for sure in my skill set. This isn’t judgement, this is calling it out in myself in hopes that someone else in my boat sees it…and so we don’t keep doing it. The images of a family hanging out on their roof to avoid flood waters, the photos of babies on momma’s laps in shelters, unrecognizable freeways…and because this is Texas, there will always be the picture of guy in a tube looking like he is floating the Guadalupe… I wonder how in the world I can make an ounce of a difference (not for the guy in the tube, he knew he would end up on the internet and he is probably quite proud of himself).

I get to be the one that gives the giving talk on Sunday mornings. Not all the time, but pretty frequently. There are certain things about the way God works that I just never get over.

Ok, so maybe there are a whole lot of things but here is something I go back to over and over again.

My time, talent and treasure are not mine to begin with (and thank you Pastor Todd Nelson for those 3 words that have stuck over the years). They are all gifts. When I give back to God what He has given to me, He does far more with it than I ever could. Every. Single. Time. The ripple affect of obedience is going to go far beyond what I can see. The really awesome part is how He allows me the chance to see that at work. Sometimes, we give out of obedience and trust God with the rest. And sometimes, he lets us see the fruit. Either way, its an act of faith where we give back what He has given us and trust that He does far more with it than we ever could.

Are you with me? Let’s be the people of action. Turns out that being overwhelmed robs everyone. So whether it is your time, your attention, your talent, your money, your words or seemingly simple actions – let’s be people of action.