A Bit About My Boy

Today is my son’s 6th birthday. Our world indeed changed forever. He continues to change it.

There are times where he reminds me of me…and I laugh.

My mom laughs harder.

You see, she raised me and lived to tell about it. She still had friends. She should thank me…haha! No really. She said that I helped her to not be shy because she had to explain me to other people. Now, I get to do that with Cephas. It sounds like this “yes, he loves to run”, “yes, he loves to quote movies”, “there really is a song in his head at all times”…my mom had to explain “yes, she is barking and we are hoping that she will start talking soon”. Once I started, I didn’t stop…kind of like Cephas. Fortunately, I don’t have to explain my child’s fear of everything with a mustache (oh Kevin we miss you), braces or face make-up (they also call those clowns). My personal favorite is when I would freak out when she would pray, asking for angels to encamp around about us. I wasn’t possessed; I was just scared of seeing angels. How hard is that to explain? Sorry Mom. Instead, my kids seem to have moments where they have no fear.

There are times when he reminds me of Ray. He has those moments quite often and for many more reasons than I will list here today. Every time Ray wonders where Cephas gets his love of order and schedules…I remind him that he is his father’s child. His love for music, his ability to sit and just be (they do exist), his love for speed (running)…hooray for that one! If he gets a track scholarship, it will be cause of Ray’s genes (those are some good genes). If he runs into a wall, its cause he was being silly and not paying attention. That folks can somehow be blamed on me. There is no changing that, so I must accept it. Someday, I’ll get there. I’m just glad that the incessant running into parking lots…up streets…away from me…that has ceased! And the people rejoice.

I love his compassion. I love that God has given Ray and I this amazing gift in Cephas to raise, guard and guide. What an amazing little heart.

So, happy birthday to my Cephas Alexander! Six years old!!!

 

It May Be…

I was driving and praying en route to meeting a friend at Starbucks last week. One thing I have honestly missed about living in the city is that driving somewhere takes more than 10 minutes during rush hour. Granted, I don’t drive an hour a day just to get to work. However, I do cherish my moments in the car. For some reason, my kids seem to cooperate. That is, unless they are telling ‘knock-knock’ jokes…then I’m in trouble and the sounds of laughter and “poop” being the answer to every question fills the quiet with sheer goofiness.

Other than those moments, driving time normally makes for good prayer time.

During my drive, I was reminded of a few verses that all had a common theme. They were not words of assurance but I found them encouraging. They are actually words that speak of unknowns. They were the following: “Perhaps”, “It May Be” and “Who Knows

Esther 4:14 – “who knows”

1 Samuel 14:6 – “perhaps” and “it may be”

Joshua 14:12 – “if the Lord will be with me” and “it may be”

The common theme is all of these verses, that all are facing life or death…to fight or not fight…to speak or not speak…and risk. No guarantee but there is something that drives them regardless of the risk

In the case of Caleb in the book of Joshua, he is going off a 45 yr old promise….45 YEAR OLD PROMISE. I can’t wrap my brain around that one…what faithfulness…and another blog for another day that probably involves lots of ALL CAPS. Caleb has his eyes on a hill and now is the time to go and fight for it. He rallies his troops with a “if the Lord will be with me”. I can’t take my eyes off that “if”. He fought anyway!

Esther is told “risk your life and tell the king…WHO KNOWS if you have been called to the kingdom for such a time as this”. We all LOVE that verse don’t we? We miss the WHO KNOWS part. She was not told by Mordecai “God told me to tell you, you shall live”. He just offered a “who knows”…nothing more than a well worded “maybe”. Esther, in that moment has a decision to make…to do nothing or to do something. The risk is huge but either way, life will never be the same.

In 1 Samuel, Jonathan sees an opportunity to defeat the Philistines. There is a lot going on in this chapter but this particular portion comes down to Jonathan saying to his armor bearer “it may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord”. That is exactly what happened.

It is easy to read these stories, see the end and forget that in that moment, they didn’t know what the outcome would be. They couldn’t tell for sure what it would cost them. Sometimes (or often) God calls us out on the water, sometimes we go on a gut feeling that just won’t go away, sometimes it is a call to stand against injustice…sometimes we go on a 45 year old promise that we refuse to forget.  Sometimes we face it…and we do something. Perhaps we should…because if the Lord be with me

We get to read the end of these stories…who gets to read the end of ours? What will they read? Who will it affect?

The guarantee is not always there…but we do something anyway.

 

On a side note – a family who did something. Check out the Hatmaker’s adoption story here

My Thoughts…

You will have to forgive for sounding like a broken record. If you think my blog has had a common theme, you should hear the thoughts in my head. I assure you, its way worse where no one else can hear it.

I’ve decided to do a bit of a mind dump…er…um…emptying of my thoughts??? Whatever you want to call it, here it goes.

– My son started kindergarten today! Time really does disappear. I didn’t cry (and yes, I do have a soul). He went in with a big Cephas smile (as expected). I did give him the “don’t quote movies” speech before he went in. Apparently, this isn’t something every parent has to do.

– My daughter is 3 and she has a sass to her that scares me (no exaggeration) a bit. She also may be a bit of a fashionista. She has been insisting on tights or leggings with her dresses…and its 105 outside!

– Prayers please!

– My kids continue to grow me daily. No better way to see your weaknesses than when you child repeats you. When I don’t like their tone it causes me to take a good hard look at my own. I often don’t like it.

– We launch Revive Church in 26 days. Just typing it makes me go EEK!

– A lot of what I believe church should look like and how it should function has changed quite a bit in the past few years. This isn’t speaking against anyone or any church. Honestly! We are all on the same team…working towards the same goal, serving the same God…let’s keep that in mind.

– I pray for a greater unity in the Church

– I am seeing how what God has put in our hearts connects with what God is doing all over…this encourages me, excites me and humbles me.

– There is a comfort in knowing that you never reach a level of faith where walking in it gets easy. We go from stretch to stretch. We are indeed in a stretch…

– Pray and give – check out www.revivechurchtx.com and www.plantedstrong.com

Final Countdown…

I almost called this post The Running Man…not the dance (unless you are Katie Moore)

I say this because the thoughts in my head and the prayers in my heart are constant…kind of like a running man…or woman (I suppose it could be a dance too). There has been much stirring in us over the last 8 months (not counting what has been over the last few years). Every book that I read, every conversation that we have is a reminder that we are not at all alone with what is in our hearts. We are seeing common themes. I’m grateful for the challenging conversations and honest hearts. There is a reason in all of it. I’m excited about what is before us. And my thoughts and prayers are indeed like a running man.

We launch Revive Church in 33 days!!!!! 33 days! Not six months, not 60 days…but 33!

It leads as topic of conversation, prayers, blog posts and tweets.

After years of praying, dreaming and planning, I am still in awe of what God has used to lead us here.

This past Saturday, I spent some time just driving around the area we are planting in and around McCallum High School (our location). I am grateful for that time with my kids in the back seat with their McDonald’s biscuits, my coffee in hand, Crowder Band in my CD player…and some time to just pray and be still.

This time also led to a little interesting conversation and Cephas asking questions about the church. There is no concrete way to explain this to a 5 and 3yr old, so we are taking our cues from them and answering questions when they ask them. Cephas seems to be understanding what is going on. Sophia just asks about toys, Erica (our children’s pastor) and Danica…as long those three things are involved, she is a happy camper.

I ask for your prayers. As a launch team, we are about to begin 30 Days of Prayer leading up to the launch. If you would like more info, please go to www.revivechurctx.com and sign up for the email.

While you are at it, check out www.plantedstrong.com to see how you can partner with us.

What Was Modeled Before Me – Part 5

This is my last post for the ‘What Was Modeled Before Me’ series. The last lesson is certainly not the least…these have been in no particular order.

They all have shaped me. This is not all of them but it is a good chunk of it. They flow into so many areas of life and I am grateful.

Last but not least

Invest, invest, invest….always invest

We have been a part of leading youth worship teams for 9 yrs (and that is just me, Ray has been for longer). Shoot, we were in youth ministry for that long. So blessed beyond words for this. Guess what?! With leading teenagers and having them on your team, you have to invest in them. You have to teach, train, correct, encourage, let them take the reign and encourage and guide some more. This is not an attempt to make a cookie cutter but to help develop what is there, encourage creativity and individuality. This takes time. This is something that has been HUGE for Ray and I. We are so blessed with those who have taken the time, energy and heart to invest in us. For us, it has always been second nature to do the same. If you aren’t training someone else to do your job/position or helping to develop those around you, then something is wrong. I make no apologies for this belief. I’m grateful for those around me who have felt the same way. Grateful for those who have thrown me so far outside of my comfort zone that there was no going back.

We are all affecting by those around us. I am grateful for the examples. I am grateful for the leadership. I am grateful for those I am blessed to call friend 🙂

What Was Modeled Before Me – Part 4

Lesson 4 – Be You…

First…a cheesy video…

It may sound cheesy but it is a lesson learned.

I know some things about myself (for proof, read this). There are some things I don’t know. There are passions that have yet to surface and God continues to mess me up and guide me in the direction of His leading.

I am not someone else. I am me. It may sound incredibly cheesy but it is a good lesson. I pray I never get to the point where I try to be someone else.

I’ve seen people be true to who they are, making no apologies for it. Getting to see that over the years has been huge.

I bawled every time I saw Pastor Jaycee get up and speak their first year as director of YFN. There is a good reason for this. I saw this family every week (I worked with Anna, I saw her every day) at The Rock and Southwest Harvest Church. I saw Jaycee minister in worship and preach. I got to see this couple connect with and pour into the lives of a group of students (30-60 or so). I saw the anointing, sense of urgency and conviction in his preaching. It was the same man preaching in front of 1,000 on a given week during camp.

There is something to be said about that.

Matt and Jen are probably some of the most relational people I know. They are compassionate and genuine. Please don’t get that confused with being a push over. You would be disappointed. I laughed when Ray told me what Pastor Matt’s first words were when he told him we were planting Revive Church. It was not an immediate “awesome, man”. It was “so what you are telling me is that God is changing your calling”. Sounds harsh? Not so much…actually it sounds about right. Matt is also part of our board. You want someone like that in your life…I promise! They are never afraid to ask the tough questions. I remember seeing a pregnant 14yr old girl walk in on a Wednesday night. He didn’t avoid the obvious, but with much heart, he talked to her about her present reality. No matter how large that group got, the relational heart was constant. Seeing them go from Austin, TX to Wrangell, AK was hard, but right.  God sent His best to an island where teenagers needed His heart. Now I get to cry when I read updates.

What I have been blessed to see is a genuine heart and passion no matter the size or the location of the ministry. No one waiting for a bigger stage, no one striving to be someone else…simply walking in their gifting and calling, giving it EVERYTHING they have. God is faithful 🙂

What Was Modeled Before Me – Part 3

Part 3

They showed me how to leave the right way…

I know, I started today off with a real fun one…

In ministry, we have all seen people come and go. This can be a good thing. It really can be. It can also be a very difficult thing (good or bad, it can still be hard). Today, I’m not referring to someone being let go or leaving because of moral failure or flat out disrespect for authority…that is another post for another day.

We have been taught that how you leave a place is important to how you enter a new season.

Whether it seemed fair, made sense, felt right…whatever you want to call it – before I ever read Under Cover by John Bevere – I saw it in action. I believe that the way those who were stepping away from a position honored who they served under was just as much of a testament to Christ in their lives as it was the ministries that they led. I know that for some, this was a difficult and frustrating time. When it was someone stepping down, I watched as they passed the baton onto the one who was taking over. I will say this – I have seen God do great things in the lives of those we have served under. I believe that how they handled either challenging or flat out difficult situations set them up for what God had next.

I know that not every situation in the same. We were blessed to have been able to leave places the way that we have. Not everyone is treated the way we were when we left Tonkawa and San Angelo. I know different pastors and leaders handle situations differently and not every situation is the same.

I know that it is never easy to leave where you are. We have done that a few times. It never got easier. Stepping into the new assignment that God was leading us to was exciting…and there were pieces of my heart and lots of tears left along the way.

I have seen with my own eyes – how you leave a place is important.

What Was Modeled Before Me – Part 2

Yesterday, I started a little blog series about the traits that have been modeled before me. I continue today with part two.

Honesty really is the best policy.

I have more conversations in my head than I do messages. I have notes from the messages. I’m not saying I haven’t remembered any of them…my memory is quite good. I am grateful for messages, God has worked in and through my life, the good and the bad through messages I have heard. However, in my head, the things I don’t have to go back and look up are the conversations. The one-on-one stuff is where life happens. It is where moments of honesty have marked me forever. I’m grateful for the discussions of counting the cost, pain, joys, creativity, experiences in ministry, parenting and marriage. It has been all across the board. I don’t know what I would have done without men and women looking me in the face, being open and asking the hard questions.

There have been times I would have lost my mind if they hadn’t looked me in the face and simply stated the obvious “I know this is hard”. They didn’t attempt to hide the obvious or pretend it didn’t exist. Sometimes, someone’s honest confession keeps you from feeling like you are losing your mind.

I would have been a basket case of a pregnant woman and first time mom without friends who stood as my voice of reason. The voice of reason and laughter, whether that laughter is with you or at you, I am grateful. Every person that I could list here has shaped me in ways they may never know because of their honesty. Some can call you on your crap with a simple smile, accompanied by a glare. Some stood as an instrument of instruction (well shoot, at some point, all of them did). Some of the situations didn’t make sense, but the lessons learned in all of it were to our benefit. I’ve been thrown out of my comfort zone, corrected and challenged. “As iron sharpens iron”, thank God it works that way.

Through it all I know I still have much to learn.

To those who have been bold and transparent…I thank you!

Continue reading What Was Modeled Before Me – Part 2

What Was Modeled Before Me – Part 1

Ray and I have been blessed to have served under some great youth pastors,  pastors and leaders.

I’d like to share with you a few of the qualities that were modeled before us.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude for people like Jaycee and Anna Jennings, Matt and Jenifer Gerald, Tim and Lenora Hinson, Chris and Lisa Frith…my list could go on. If I could find my children’s pastor from when I was a kid, she would be on here too (someone help me find Ms. Lisa!).

There are people who set an example with their lives, the messages they preach.

This week, I’ll be sharing them with you  🙂

 

Today….

You put your family first.

Period.

I’m not quite sure I can even count how many times Pastor Jaycee has said “love you guys but we are kicking you out”. Before they had kids, before they were the directors of YFN, when they were faithfully serving as youth pastors in their local church , they put each other first.

I know that in ministry, this can be a sneaky thing. It is easy to attempt to justify not focusing on your family when you are busy “serving” the church. There are books written on this, yet, it happens. I know that it can be a fight…and it is one worth fighting. I am grateful for those who have kicked me out of their houses. You have shown me a great thing. Instead of talking about putting your family first, I got the boot 🙂 I have in return, kicked people out of my house (looking at you Tonkawa, OK).

There are seasons when we burn the candle at both ends. These seasons at all cost must have a clear end. When we were in San Angelo, that season was always Women’s Conference. When that Saturday afternoon rolled around, we were done. Our normal (what normal was to us anyway) returned soon after. Pastor Todd and Shelly were very clear on putting family first…I am grateful for their openness in this.  I know that for each family, this looks different. The fact is, however it may look, what it is you say “no” to, this is a non-negotiable.

We are honored to be able to do what we do. Our first ministry is to our family.

Period.

I say THANK YOU to those who walked that out before me.

 

If you don’t mind me asking – what does this look like in your family?

Life Update –

In light of all of the tweets about my excitement over getting to spend time with some of my favorites, I figure an update is due. Since some of our launch team was teasing me about all of the “some of my favorites” statements. I will also tell a little back ground.

Life is in full swing. We launch Revive Church in 47 days. That too requires an update.

To start –

Revive Church – we are meeting every Sunday night at 6pm for community groups. A time for food, fellowship and bible study. September 18th couldn’t get here any faster. Then again, there is so much to do between now and September. All of the little and big details are coming together. I’ve never been excited over a church giving us orange cones…apparently, church planting does this. They also gave us extra pipe and drape and a list of other things. We are grateful! There is a great expectation. Seeing God move in the lives of our launch team over these last few months is unreal. It leaves me a tad bit speechless…yet another reason how you know it’s a total God thing. We have been in hurry up and wait, hurry up and prepare, pray and hurry up…come up with your own combination, we have lived it. If you would like to sign up for our email updates, check out the church website.

Last weekend

I have been looking forward to this weekend since summer ’09. So pardon my excitement as I tweeted like mad leading up to it. I started to write the history behind all of us, the years, the distances, the world’s that have collided and the awesome, but I lacked the ability to be succinct. It deserves its own post. We hadn’t spent that much time with Matt and Jenifer Gerald (or their awesome kids) since 2008. A bunch of us together, in one place, for more than 2hrs…that was like Christmas minus the threat of tropical storm. By the way, we did get rained on one good time but other than that, Tropical Storm Don just made the waves really rough and perfect for boogie boards. We had a blast. We are so very grateful for dear friends. Distance sucks but it doesn’t make or break friendships. I am determined to get to Wrangell, Alaska next summer. My friends have a house that I haven’t had coffee at yet. This must be remedied!

Your prayers are appreciated as these next 47 days fly by (and beyond that as well). The rest of our team who lives out of town will be moving to Austin this weekend! When we moved, it was 100 degrees cooler than it is right now. Yikes!

Here are a few pictures from this weekend…