Favorite Things Monday: It’s All Grace and Sometimes It’s Messy Edition

Before I get into all the favorite things, I gotta brag on my girl. I love this whole kids playing sports thing. I really do. She heard other parents yelling at her this weekend. I think it may have been the first time she heard the opposing teams parents yelling and she knew it was at her. I didn’t know this was happening until another one of our parents told me. Sophia’s reaction? While I don’t think the two goals she scored hurts matters, she was beaming. She said she wanted to yell back “your words just make me stronger”. I hope she does.

Last week was a doozy. Some weeks sneak up on you unexpectedly and hit like a freight train. Sometimes the tension in your heart and the ache in your gut don’t go away after 20 minutes of worship music or time in prayer. Last week, I knew that I knew that God was with me…right there in the midst of the tension, the questions, the angst and that pesky ache that had no intention of leaving me.

I get that this sounds honest and maybe a little morbid. It wasn’t as if anything in particular happened. That makes it sound more strange… Life and ministry are full and sometimes all of the seen and unseen, the joy and disappointment, the awe and wonder and the hurt and frustration all collide in my heart. It’s all grace and sometimes it’s messy.

I’m grateful for a few things.

  1. Friends who pray with you at the drop of a hat. Friends who will hold you up and speak life and encouragement. Friends who are grateful for your honesty and find encouragement by your hot-mess self. Friends who are different…think different, act different respond different and still love a whole lot like Jesus even when they don’t realize it. It’s the good stuff.
  2. The Psalms. I’m sure when David was writing psalms of lament, he didn’t think we would be using it as a road map on how to handle grief, anger, frustration and fear. I’m sure it would have looked quite tidy. That’s not real life. When I need to air it all out and when I just need to declare that my God has me, the psalms cover it.
  3. My Sunday morning before worship practice was a time for me to hash it out with the Lord in prayer. It was a place where I was reminded of His faithfulness and I could remind Him of His promises. The make-up was about gone before I ever stepped foot into the building on Sunday morning. But my God is faithful. He can handle it. Not only that, He delights in me and I wasn’t going anywhere. I found that the safest place to fall apart is the same place He is with me and puts me back up on my feet.
  4. I started reading Unseen by Sara Hagerty. I thought I would fly through it…I was wrong. I probably could except that she keeps calling me out, as if by name. That’s not my favorite part but it has been like medicine for my soul. Her first book is one of my absolute favorites. Read them both, grab tissues and get ready.

Whatever it is, He’s got you. This truth isn’t some band-aid over a problem…it’s everything.

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.