Favorite Things Monday: Case of the Mondays Edition

 

Oh Monday, you are a ridiculous mystery. Just in case I needed a reminder as to why I need to post every Monday…

Was there anything really wrong with today? Not really.

It felt like a lot of little things. There were good things and sentimental things. IF Gathering is coming and this weekend, my living room will be full of incredible women seeking God together. There are still things that need to be done leading up to it…but I can’t wait. I am seeing where we are as a church and I feel as if there aren’t enough hours in a day for everything in my head and my heart. This is good but it makes not giving the time I want a challenge.

Our nation has never felt quite so divided. I’m sure it has been before, but I wasn’t around to experience it. It’s loud. It’s crazy and people are hurting/afraid/confused. This bothers me. I can’t avoid social media to avoid it. Maybe avoiding it is the problem… I haven’t really decided on that yet. Who am I kidding? I’m working on it.

Rhonda posted a picture of Caleb getting baptized before he left for Honduras. That about did me in. I had never felt as homesick as I did when he made that move. We had so many good conversations during that time. I cherished it then. When we lost him, I couldn’t help but remember how many times God used him to show me that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t crazy. Oh that boy… The one year mark of losing him is coming and I can feel the ache in my heart.

Can life be a fight for perspective, the bigger picture, finding purpose and maintaining our sanity all at the same time? Yes. I know that it’s worth it. Simple things like a picture remind me just how fast and uncertain life can be. It reminds me again that there are things worth fighting for and time is so incredibly precious.

I blasted Andy Mineo and LeCrae in my ears. I came home and took my dog for a semi-successful trail run. I needed to run off some of my crazy. Maybe I should have ran a little further but my little four-legged buddy couldn’t hang.

It was just plain one of those days. So here it is, the perspective shift of hope that I needed…

This time of year has made me sentimental for a few years now. It has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day (just in case you were wondering). It has everything to do with a giant move from one really good place into a place we loved, knew God was leading and had zero idea how this was going to go. Prior to our last Sunday in San Angelo, we knew there were three families joining us on this insane church planting journey. I could talk about those people for days. A picture popped up on my Timehop that was a crazy reminder of just how insane things have been, the darker days we have walked through and how far we have come.

It was 6 years ago today when Michael and Erica Vogt told us they were moving to Austin. I believe that I asked them to slow down and repeat what they said. Yesterday, they did what they have done so well for so long. They spoiled our kids. I know that I am who I am today because of the investment and love of people just like them. My kids really do have it made in ways that they won’t fully understand until they are older. I hope it makes them so grateful they cry and find that loving people like they have been loved is what God uses to show off His goodness. I know it now. I only get more grateful with every passing year. They will too.

Sometimes the most insane seasons of life are the ones you look back on and see what you could have never imagined in the moment. These are things that I know now. Reminders of God’s faithfulness and a whole lot of hope can be the gift that comes out of really difficult seasons. I needed the reminder today. So while we do not live in the past, when it serves as a reminder and gives the extra shove forward, looking back and remembering is a gift.

 

 

Favorite Things Monday: Loud Voices Edition

 

This past Thursday was one of my favorite days on a calendar. It wasn’t a birthday or a day off of work but it has been special to me for 15 years. I was all of 19 genius years old, excited about life and the year ahead and believed it would be an important one. About a week before, this guy who was more acquaintance than friend at that moment was putting together a worship band for a worship night coming up at a church in town. He asked me to sing, having no idea if I could.

15 years later and it is still one of my favorite nights. Ray and I have been serving together in ministry ever since. That night changed my life. Not because a boy asked me to sing, but because of what God did in me on January 19, 2002. That same man continues to be beside me, pushing and encouraging me to be who God has called me to be. That was the beginning of learning that we are a great team. That night brought some important relationships into our lives. That night brought Jaycee and Anna Jennings into our life. That night brought Tim and Lenora Hinson into mine. God does some really cool things and some of his greatest gifts are His people.

The events of this past weekend had me thinking all the more about the voices in my life, what they have meant and how they have shaped me. Both men and women, each with a different and vital message. We need both. 

Both have made the life-changing differences in my life.

It never occurred to me growing up, that I couldn’t do something. It never even crossed my mind that my voice wouldn’t matter or that I should be quiet (also, that was never going to work).

I didn’t say that no one ever told me no or that I was never corrected (understatement).

Being a woman was (and turns out, still is) a gift and never a hindrance. I grew up believing that what I had to bring to the table was necessary. I grew up believing that God had a plan for my life. When God would speak to my heart, there was no overcoming other external voices of “can’t” because I was always told to “do”. I remember being a young teenager, singing in church and my Unca Ron telling me to speak first. He would say that into a microphone, in front of people, giving me zero way out of it. Prepared in season and out of season, right?  That push forward has been there for as long as I can remember.

When other voices tried to tell me that I couldn’t, I had a strong foundation of truth that wouldn’t be shaken. My mom wouldn’t let me be defined by anyone by my identity in Christ. My mom was one of several voices and at one point, I lived in the same house as the rest of them. Close proximity had it’s benefits. Thank you Matt, Rhonda, Aunt Sharon and Unca Ron… I heard you loud and clear. 

There will always be loud voices. 

People are hurting because they have no voice. Let’s speak up and out for them.

When I look at myself, when I look at my daughter, when I look at the world around me. We have such purpose. Our voices and what we have to bring matters. Our daughters and our sons need us. The world needs us. 

Let’s model this. Let’s be this…so that we can do this.

Micah 6:8 – He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God?

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Things Monday: What Gets the Last Word Edition

I wanted to keep today lighthearted, but I couldn’t. I wanted to be able to write something carefree and whimsical, but maybe another day.

There are days that we need something to hold on to. Something that remains true on really good days and on the days where everything seems to totally fall apart…and on the days where it actually does fall apart. And honestly, sometimes we don’t even know the difference. When we can’t see beyond what is in our immediate line of sight into a bigger picture and on the days where we can’t even lift our heads in an act of faith. Or do I even dare say when lifting our heads doesn’t give us a clear picture…

What can’t be shaken…

I sent a text to our worship director on Saturday and informed him that I may be the super bossy worship leader on Sunday. I may have scared him…and Jordan doesn’t scare. I corrected my verbiage from “bossy” to “I want to lead well, because when life is good or when you grieve it, worship is the best place to take it”.

Count on me to take one word and need 23 words to explain it. I also use the word “angsty” to describe how I need a super holy worship song to sound. It’s how I feel. Let me sing at it, let me worship and stare in the face of life and know that what I am singing is true and can’t be shaken. And because I am leading, I want you to come with me. I want you to see and know. Crawl into the inner workings of my brain, it’s super interesting.

We have been singing a song the last two weeks at church that just plain won’t let me go. Some times I need all the words. The last two weeks, I have needed the reminder and want to tell everyone these simple six:

The cross has the final word.

Period.

The cross has the final word. Not my past mistakes or my current situation…but the cross. Not bad news or death…but the cross.

So yesterday, the bossy and determined Chantel sang with an extra bit of angst and bossy. It’s holy too. Why? Because the cross has the final word. I cried a lot this week. I didn’t make it through practice on Wednesday. Um, I didn’t make it to practice before the drippy tears started…or the day before that, while watching the IF Gathering live stream in preparation for next month. There were some ugly cries this week. Life doesn’t make sense and in light of Caleb’s birthday without Caleb, it has been a heartbreaking week. But the cross has the final word. I even made it through It Is Well on Sunday…and that NEVER happens. Why? Because the cross has the final word. I may not get through it the next time, but yesterday, the bossy Chantel won and wanted so desperately for people to hear that the cross has the final word.

The only thing I have to bring to the table is Jesus. Only Jesus. It’s His cross that has the final word. When sorrow comes and when evil puts up its strongest fight…

When I bring my not enough, with Jesus, the cup is always overflowing.

I made it through service on Sunday…but my husband didn’t. It’s like teamwork. He doesn’t like crying on Sunday morning because he says he doesn’t want to be the crying pastor. He preaches where he is and where he has been and doesn’t bring a message to our church that God hasn’t brought him through first. He brought an incredible message. It will be online later today…and when it is, you can listen here.

You can and should listen to Final Word, by clicking here.

Why and how…through the happy and the tears, the memories, looking ahead and every little thing in between…  The Cross has the Final Word!

 

 

Favorite Things Monday: My Tribe Edition

“When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with cries of “me too”! Be sure to cherish them. Because those weirdos are your tribe”

I have no idea who said that but it put to words my exact feelings over this last week. It’s actually much bigger than that. So much bigger. It’s more than quirks and similarities and God-bless-us our differences. It’s when the rubber meets the road, or the vision and dream hits reality and every.single.up and down. It’s when life is good and when it is unexpected and hard.

My tribe.

There is something incredible about belonging. There is something beautiful in knowing that you are seen and loved. There is something powerful in not having to explain yourself.

They are the ones who sign up for the crazy with you  (plant church…run half-marathon…ministry…hanging out with all the children).

They are the ones who believe in you.

Fight for you. Cry with and for you. Pray for you.

Celebrate.

They. Get. You.

They laugh at you, laugh with you and when you feel that laughter is far removed, they make you get in a photo booth and say to make silly faces… because even when it doesn’t fix it, they will see the bigger picture when you can’t and remind you who you are.

This silly picture. This was the worst afternoon, I was the worst, most miserable and grief stricken company…and here I was with these guys at a church conference.

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It is a forever reminder of how and why God calls us to each other the way He does. I was glued to my phone as if it was my lifeline to my family (because it kind of was). I thought they would manhandle it out of hands if necessary because they could see a bigger picture. While I was distraught for myself and my family, they were looking out for me. I was so upset that to even be there took more than I had. They could see beyond that moment and into the next few days. They knew the pain I felt and the pain I was walking into and for some insane reason, here I was at this conference for one more day…

Have people that won’t let you miss what is right in front of you, even when you don’t have the strength to see it.

…and will make you get in a photo booth because you need it.

Thank God for them…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Favorite Things Monday: New Year, New Things 2017 Edition

Happy New Year!!!

We made it!

I enjoyed every minute of the few days off for Christmas. It was the celebrating and the rest that I so desperately needed. While my husband is ready for the kids to be back in their regular routine, I’ll enjoy it just one more day. Back to life and schedules and a normal work week. Don’t get me wrong, I love this crazy life but getting to be home for the crazy was so good.

New Year’s Eve: We fell into the category of those who had to get up early the next morning. It didn’t mean we didn’t have a great time. We got to hang out with the Vogt’s, eat dinner and spent an hour popping fireworks. Yes, an hour. We were in bed by 10:30 and asleep by 11. Then it happened. It’s what happens when you live in Austin but live in a MUD outside of city limits… it was a free-for-all. Midnight happened and the fireworks were BONKERS. Please note: I am the hardest sleeper. I love sleep. A LOT. Nothing wakes me up. I woke up. Apparently it takes a fireworks show in my front AND backyard to disturb me. Now we know.

New Years Day!!!! We had worship practice at 8am, since there was no mid-week practice. After kicking 2016 in the shins, I welcomed 2017 by crying off my makeup twice before noon. I didn’t reapply after that. The beauty of dear friends and what the body of Christ can be is something I never get over. I do not cry lonely tears. I got back to my seat to find a note reminding me that “when you cry, I cry”. It’s not a pact, just our reality and I am always grateful. My tribe…they are the best, hands down greatest wild bunch of Jesus believing crazy that I adore and can’t imagine life without.

Sunday morning was so dear to me. Our time of worship was just plain special…and for me there was nothing plain about it. The tears started around 8:45am. Um, service doesn’t start till 11. Yup, that kind of day. Worship is the best place to take it, lay it down, sing in the face of hurt, sing in the face of ecstatic joy and hope. There was no getting over everything that happened in 2016 because of a simple calendar change. In 2016, words like “right” and “fair” went out the window. There will always be unanswered questions this side of eternity. I was reminded through all the tears, yet again, that my God is everything He promises to be and He is good.

I closed out our time of worship with Psalm 40:1-3. Verse three jumped out at me and became my prayer for the new year.

I waited patiently for the Lord; and He inclined to me and heard my cry. He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a rock and established my steps. He has put a new song in my mouth – Praise to our God; many will see it and fear and will trust in the Lord.

I’m ready for the new song that is 2017. And dear God, use that song. Our song, our life…it’s never just about us. Our restoration always moves beyond us. The affects of our obedience always stretches beyond what we can see.

So keep moving. 2017 has a brand new song, and I am ready for it.