2011 in Review Part Tres

This feels kind of dumb since I have spent two posts talking about this year. However, I was a bit inspired.

This is from Pastor Mark Riggins. Every Sunday that we set up Revive, we do so because of what we as a church have we had purchased from or were given by him and San Angelo Church (pipe, drape, containers, nursery gates, the trailer…). Thank you, Pastor Mark!

If you went to his post (and you should), he summed up 2011 in seven words. I am not succinct but I embrace the challenge. I’ve considered making mine 10 words and blame it on my gender. I stuck to the rules (sort of)…here you go!

Anticipation

Patience

Humbling

Community

Wrecking (beautifully…God does this and it is good)

CHALLENGING (gross understatement)

Worth-it-all

Yes, I made the last one a single word. It counts. All of these words have existed at one time…sometimes it was just one at a time. They still exist. I left out a few in order to avoid my usual broken record. If you have ever read any of my blogs before, you would know the givens.

We go in to 2011 with much prayer, much anticipation…here we go!

2011 in Review – Part Deux

I type out “Revive” instead of “Review” every time. It seems only fitting.

It would be a travesty (yes, I said travesty) to not have an entire post dedicated to those who serve alongside us.

Let’s play the “this time last year” game. It’s fun. You know you like it. We were on Christmas break, enjoying the time with family and friends…and wanted to puke at what news we were about to deliver to our pastors, church, youth leaders, students and close friends. You start praying prayers that sound like this –“God, could you just tell them for us so when we tell them it is just confirmation…and let it all be awesome? Ok? Amen”.

Our friends Matt and Catherine (who weren’t even married yet) were preparing to get married and move to be a part of Revive to serve as Executive Pastor and Nursery Director (they are now expecting twins). Our friends Anthony and Tracy had already stepped down from their position at their church so that they could jump right in as our youth pastors (have I mentioned we were their youth leaders…reason #183897 why youth ministry is amazing).

I love these stories.

We had only told a few close friends and family at this point. We were about to go public and going public is scary. There is no more hiding your dreams. No more hiding the vision that has been seared on your heart. It’s all out in the open for everyone to see…and to have opinions.

December 31, 2010 – I was home waiting on my husband to get home from a youth concert trip. I see the following on Facebook from my friend Katie “God use me more this year than last” (read the post here). I wanted to puke again. We were blessed with some amazing youth leaders in Katie and Brandn and Erica and Michael. We were a team…these were close friends y’all. I knew that no matter what happened, it looked like we were about to throw their world upside down. All of that, then I see a “God I surrender” post.

A couple of days later my husband tells our senior pastor…who was amazing (thanks Pastor Todd). The rest was warp speed. Ray told all the church leadership that night. Just before that, he tells Katie, Brandn, Erica and Michael…I was at work and you guessed it, I wanted to puke.

Several weeks later, Katie and B were in our living room and informed us they were moving to Austin. They were selling their house, leaving their entire family, getting new jobs…moving. On our last Sunday, Erica and Michael informed us of the same information. Yes, I did say “can you please repeat that, speaking slower and using smaller words”. I couldn’t believe it.

There have been others that have joined us…each leaves me speechless. Some we have known since they were teenagers (reason #183898 why youth ministry is amazing). We have met new faces. I’m looking forward to more new faces.

This year, these people have dreamed with us, prayed with us, worked hard, made sacrifices, cried, laughed, ran, stuffed envelopes, passed out door hangers…and been introduced to disc golf…have I mentioned prayed and made took huge steps of faith…with us.

Each of them stands with us believing in the purpose of the Church. Each stands believing in the vision for Revive. Each person has a story as to how they got here. Each of them causes gratitude to stir so strong in my heart it leaves me speechless.

I love these people! Come on 2012! The best is yet to come!!!

2011 in Review…sort of (part 1)

I’ve decided that I can’t sum up the absolute ridiculousness that was 2011 and my excitement for 2012 in one post. I try to keep every blog at 500 words or less (way less on occasion). It would be impossible to do so…this has been a year folks…a year indeed.

For those of you who have been kind enough to follow along via blog this past year, you have noticed a common theme. By “common”, I mean broken record. I know this. I would apologize but something about that just doesn’t seem right. I tried to be honest. Honestly, my brain felt like a big ole broken record too. Thank you for continuing to read. Thank you for your prayers.

This has been the hardest year in many ways. We have been stretched beyond anything we have ever known before. We knew this would be hard. We knew it would affect every area of our lives. We didn’t know how…but we knew it would. It has. Every single emotion has shown up at one time or another…or seven.

This has been the best year in so many ways. The good has outweighed the hard…the hard has been way harder but the good has been way better. God is good. God is faithful. God has wrecked us in so many ways…and I know this ball has just started rolling.

It needs to be said – Revive Church – I love all of you to pieces! There are no sufficient words. We can’t wait to get 2012 going!

As I think about it this morning, it can be summed up in this statement. I can’t believe what God has carried us through, allowed us to wait on, what he’s shown us in waiting, patience produced, people he has put in our lives, how much our eyes have been opened and in every area of our lives shown the sufficiency of His grace and love.

We started this not quite sure if we were just plain crazy or not. We may be crazy but the more we walked in the direction God was leading, the more we started see how so incredibly not alone we are. You start to see how God knits us all into His story. It’s all His Church…

I’ve never been so excited to see one year END! I’ve never been so excited for a new one to begin.

When some of us girls went and heard Sheila Walsh a few weeks ago, she said something that had me in tears within minutes of her speaking. “When God has spoken a promise to you, you can stake your life on it”. “Being where God has called you to be is the greatest thing in the world, no matter how scary it may be”. It may sound groundbreaking…but it broke me.

So with that…2012…BRING IT! Let’s do this!

A Post-Christmas, Pre-New Years Post

The last time I posted was regarding my husband’s health. He is continuing to get stronger. A busy couple of days were a reminder that he still has a little ways to go. He is getting there!

Christmas time is here…

Christmas time is over…

With as lovely as Christmas is/was…Come on 2012!

We knew that this Christmas was going to look a little different than years past. This whole year has looked different so of course, holidays were no excuse. I’m not sad about that…not one little bit. I’ve also decided that there were certain things I wasn’t going to apologize for. 🙂

My kids didn’t wake up on Christmas morning and immediately open gifts. They had been told for a few weeks that we were going to go love people who needed love. Jesus said two things were most important – Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s not complicated. They got it. They woke up Christmas morning, got dressed and headed out the door (might I add…without a single complaint…unless you include the one from Sophia about wearing a sweater).

Our church did a Christmas morning outreach. We only met at the school for a brief moment before heading out. We had about 40 backpacks filled w/necessities and a bunch of breakfast tacos. Since the weather in Austin has been delightfully disgusting…the areas we originally see groups of homeless men and women were vacant. We all (18 of us) ended up parking in a parking lot across the street from a shelter on 7th street.

Every backpack and taco was gone within 5 minutes. People literally came running. We all ended up giving away the Christmas treats that were recently given to us (thanks Erica). They may not have received a taco but we could keep giving, so we did…chocolate chip cookies, muddy buddy Chex Mix…a cooler. One girl even gave away her coffee. Seeing some men take a couple extra tacos, then give those away to those who didn’t get one…we saw kindness that will shut you up. Shutting me up isn’t an option, so please keep reading.

We knew there was a need…we knew the need was huge…

We expected everything to last more than five minutes.

That makes us crazy.

We know now. We are seeing more and more of what we can do and what will actually help. We are a brand new church. We don’t have a lot of money but we weren’t about to let that stop us from doing what we could. Guess what…doing something compels us to do more…and we will.

Any excuse I have ever had must now be replaced with a person. There is no excuse good enough. So with that…we do something.

I’ve never been more excited to see one year end and a new one begin (more on that later). Come on 2012!!! Lets do something…

 

This Time Last Week…recovery and gratitude.

Today, I’m playing the “this time last week” game.

This time last week, my husband had been having some really strange symptoms for several days…and the last couple before our Monday mad dash to the emergency room had me freaked out. Let’s add to the fact that I had been out of town Friday and Saturday to hear Sheila Walsh…who was AMAZING! One little thing about her story was her Dad having something go wrong in his brain and he eventually went crazy (long story short of course). Come home to a husband who can’t talk normal…this equates to hysterical wife who vows to never leave town again.

A crushing migraine on Monday morning scared us into the emergency room. Ray is never sick and pain is not something we are closely acquainted with. That kind of pain and incoherent…call it scary. If I had a dollar for every time I said “it’s ok” on the way to the hospital…I would have lots of dollars.

Miracle number one – we made it from our apartment to Brackenridge Hospital, downtown Austin, at 7:45 am on a Monday….in about 20-25min.

This time last week Ray was getting a cat scan, discovered his hemoglobin was at a 6 (instead of 13-16) and there was internal bleeding somewhere in his GI tract and we didn’t know why.

Within 36hrs, we discovered the cat scan came back clear, he had two blood transfusions, there was a bacteria present causing the inflammation which caused the bleeding…and though weak, we were heading home.

A few things…

*The peace of God trumps…everything.

*We are surrounded. I have never received more text messages in two days…ever! We were so blessed by phone calls, from sea to shining sea…literally! We were so covered in prayer…we will never know. All I know is one text from my mom informing she was forwarding my texts…to only God knows who and how many they had praying. Many people who didn’t know us but carried us in prayer. We are so grateful. I could go off on this one for a whole post. I do not take this lightly. Thank you!

*My in-laws are the greatest (for many many reasons…here are a couple). Never for a moment was I worried that my kids were lacking. They were in great and loving hands. They took Cephas to school, cleaned my house…and brought me a sandwich and a chai latte (you spend 9hrs in the ER and not rejoice over chai…). Mind you, this was their son in the hospital…

*I thank God for modern medicine…

*Revive Church – so blessed by who we do life with. The prayers were constant. I’ve never had more offers for coffee, food…anything. They brought me food, fuzzy socks, a razor (the secret to my heart)…

*The outpouring of love, support and prayers continues to overwhelm us. We have the greatest family, church family and friends…ever! For those who only know us because you were asked to pray…God bless you!

This year has been the craziest of our lives thus far (more to come on that). We have been wrecked in ways we never saw coming.

I will say this – God is good. God is faithful. The work He has begun…He will see to completion (Philippians 1:6). The vision in our hearts is stronger than ever before. Ray is still recovering but he is recovering! I’ve never been more excited to hear him preach as I was yesterday. Come on 2012!

little picture, Big Picture

Sometimes I read a blog post that hits me between the eyes. Normally, there are a few reasons. One being that there are a lot of people who write way better than I ever dreamed. I write anyway. Reason number 2 – conviction smacks me in the face. Sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s hard and every time I take it in and allow the challenge. Reason number 3 – they invite me along in their journey and show me some things about my own weaknesses, failures, God’s love, His grace and redemption…in essence, they ruin me in the best way possible.

This post did that to me http://angiesmithonline.com/2011/12/sketched/

The day before I read this, a friend asked me about being a mom. She asked if “how I saw myself as a mom, before I had kids was how I am as a mom”. I suppose the answer for me is yes…and no. Cephas was a surprise. I spent more time freaking out about parenthood than I did dreaming about how I would be. Most days, you can find me in that same state of mind.

I can laugh about how life rarely looks how we envision when we are kids. I knew in my earlier teenage years that ministry was what God had called me to. How was that supposed to look? I had NO IDEA! I just remember my mom saying “oh honey, are you sure”. I love my Mom. She’s a smart one. Even entering CFNI, I had no clue. I had a tiny picture in my heart and no idea where it would go. God continues to fill in the lines. He seems to make the picture bigger. It is far more beautiful and has required of me far more than I imagined. Oh how sufficient His grace is. The more you step out, the more beautiful it becomes…

Sometimes we look back and see we never really had much of a picture to begin with…then God gives us one.

Pardon my sappy self…in the next 10 days it will only get worse…way worse. When an incredibly dear friend has boxes packed and is preparing to leave for ALASKA in 9 days, you start reflecting. I am grateful to have seen this unfold. I’ve watched how God has taken a blank page, started giving dreams, compel to draw then painted in lines with bright colors 🙂 And all her friends weep with pride, joy, sentimentality and…oh Lord have mercy, I’ll just stop there.

He calls us into His picture…into His story. The stories all weave in and out of each other with often, very familiar themes. Oh for the boldness that we could all share our stories…the “sketches”…

Sometimes other people say it far better than us. I encourage you to take the time, hot beverage of choice in hand and read the link above. There is something powerful in one sharing their dreams, grief, life and bold reminders of God’s love and grace…so beautiful.

Side note – if you hear about two women weeping in the Austin Airport on the news…that will be me and Tracy 🙂

 

Why I Run…

I post statuses on social networking sites about running…often.

I thought it may be a good idea to share with you the reasons behind the run.

I started out because I was running out of breath while leading worship (early 2009). Mind you, I was not overweight but my cardio was terrible. I got convicted. Something wasn’t right and the remedy was simple…get up off my butt and run. I thought just a little to start and we’ll see.

Next thing I knew, I realized there was a psycho goal-oriented part of my personality. That and I really do love running. With the first mile, I started thinking about a 5k. Before I ran that, I had set my eyes on 10k. I hit that goal then started drooling over the thoughts of a marathon (26.2 miles). I haven’t run that marathon yet…but I will. Give me a good cause and promises of a 26.2 sticker for the back of my car and I am in! I just ran my first race last week. I was ready to die by the end of it but started talking about the next one as soon as we were back in the car (thanks Katie 🙂 ).

Other than the overall health benefits of running, I’ve discovered a few things…

Running outside beats a treadmill…hands down…every time. The comfort of the indoor treadmill was actually slowing me down (there is a message in that somewhere). Nothing beats the outdoors. Good thing I live in a climate where winter is more of a state of mind.

I love setting and reaching goals.

There is no better prayer time. Depending on where you run, the view itself can be a reminder of God’s bigness and beauty. Today, I ran with headphones but listened to nothing. I looked like I was singing instead of talking to myself. I have found that praying, listening and sweating is a great trio. With as NUTS as life has been…I don’t know how I’m not running at marathon pace/distances. I have lots to pray about…and lots of listening to do 🙂

I realized that I can do it! My cousin started asking me questions about running. I told her, I just started doing it (and she did…woo hoo!). I can push myself. I can push through. It takes steps to reach big goals and the smaller ones along the way are just as important.

Hills suck but by the time you reach the top of it, you are always glad you kept going.

I run to preach to myself. I run to sing to myself. I run because once you get going…it’s awesome!