Favorite Things Monday – 5 Year Anniversary Edition (I love the church)

Last Sunday marked a special 5 year anniversary.

September 18, 2011 is forever seared in my heart.

I could write 1,000 things, tell 1,000 stories and could spend days talking about God’s faithfulness. I could write about friends who are nothing short of family, their faithfulness and insane hard work over the last 5 years. I could write and end up a hot mess. This has not been a road that we have walked or carried alone. My people, they are the best on the planet and I will fight you over that and for them.

To be able to say “5 year anniversary” is not something we take lightly. It is nothing short of miraculous that we are where we are. What a journey and we are just getting started.

Our church is not what we started as. We aren’t even the same name as that first day back in 2011. Same was never the intention and we serve a God who does new things. New and unexpected is part of the journey and God does some seriously cool things through it. Trusting that can be hard, but at this point, I know with confidence that there is no other way.

We merged with another church that was different than us and became a brand new church in 2014. We became Central City Austin. We were two different groups of people who believed that we are indeed better together. We have fought for it. We gathered, we prayed, we met, we worshipped. We did this together because we believed that just maybe this was God’s leading. We believed that just maybe, these two churches needed each other. We trusted God’s leading and found that He does good things…and that He is right. I have been blessed beyond measure to add to the list of people I will fight you over.

In case you haven’t noticed, I believe in the local church. Like, over the top, with all of my heart, believe in the purpose of the local church. I know it is imperfect but that is the amazing thing about God’s grace…He takes those incredible imperfections and allows us to be an incredible example of His love; to be His hands and feet; to speak, give, serve and lead. I want to do that so well. So so so well.

While God has done much in us in the last five years, what He has broken my heart for in the last 7 months is not in vain. When I think of all God has done in 5 years, I do not dream small for what He can do in 10.

Let’s do this church!

We may not be where we were, but that was never the plan.

We are better together and THE BEST IS YET TO COME!

 

 

Favorite Things – Episode #1 Caleb’s Cup Edition

This past weekend was a favorite and while I want to celebrate all that God has done and is doing, this needed it’s own post. First things first…lets go back to last week.

I missed last week because I was surrounded by family and friends, celebrating my cousin Caleb. There was a lot of fun, laughter, hugs, conversations and tears…lots of tears. I got to hug necks of family and old friends that I haven’t seen in 20 years or more. It was a setting where telling my age was fun. Time does fly and it shows by the expression on the faces of those who last saw you as a little girl. Celebrating Caleb’s life without him being there to give big hugs and make us all laugh will never feel right, but we celebrate anyway.

Before our family vacation this past August, I started the book, Through the Eyes of the Lion by Levi Lusko. I actually heard him speak the day after Caleb died. That was the last message of the conference I was attending before heading back to Austin to board a plane to Atlanta. The timing was heartbreaking and so timely. I finally read the book. The author/pastor talks in depth about his love for Jesus, the church and quite boldly about the loss of his daughter just a few days before Christmas a few short years ago. He talks in depth of his family’s journey through their pain. It is heavy as it sounds and SO MUCH MORE than a book on grief. I highly recommend the book.

One chapter in particular talks about “running towards the roar”. Run towards the scary thing and see what you find. While scary, it’s the safe route to run towards it instead of away from it. I watched Matt and Rhonda do just that, and they invited us all to do the same. It’s so like them to lead by example. 

So that weekend, we all ran.

We all cried.

We all celebrated.

In running towards the roar we remembered the truth.

In running towards the roar, we stared grief in the face and we did so together.

I found that it still hurts in ways that take my breath away, but I found hope. Caleb being gone will never be right, but we do have hope. I found the continued pursuit of putting purpose to pain and that it is not in vain. I found that while pain is scary, running towards the thing you are afraid to feel is better than not.

I was reminded that death doesn’t take everything and it doesn’t win. I am constantly reminded that God builds a family, shapes it, holds it together and when life is messy, He will do what seems like ridiculous and impossible. He is SOOOO good at it. 

I saw a community from both near and far surround my family with a love and support that still has me in awe. I think everyone was a bit in shock of the turnout for the tournament. It was nothing short of incredible.

Rhonda asked me to write something for Caleb. Something short and from the heart. I knew Matt was working on a video and I had the chance to share my heart. While I had written more, Matt included what mattered most. It’s the part that makes me feel the most bossy in the face of this heartache. While the whole video made me cry, when I could finally see what he included, I bawled. It’s the truth of the hope we have in Jesus. Death breaks our hearts but does not have the final say.

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Here is the link for the video… Matt did an incredible job. It was a ton of hard work and the last thing you want to do for your child, but his labor of love was such a gift.

Death can’t take everything. It does not get to win.

“Run towards the roar”

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.