Favorite Things: A Day to Remember Edition

I am big on days. My memory is weird to begin with but there are certain memories that no matter how much time has passed, it sticks. I remember things from my childhood that make my cousins shake their head wondering how on earth THAT is the thing I remember. It is almost always in my favor. I am grateful for this little tidbit about me.

I also write things down. I haven’t been as good about keeping a journal as of lately but I’ll get back to where I was. It was a really good habit for a really long time. This helps with the memory part. It also helps to be able to look back and see and remember where we came from. I can look back on many years worth of journals and have moments where I totally roll my eyes at myself and then there are the moments where I remember what was going on and how faithful God was to me in those moments. Those are the moments I really want to remember. The eye-rolling stuff just comes with the territory. Thank God for growth. Annie Downs often talks about being kind to who you were then…whenever and whatever “then” was. I need that reminder as well…it makes the eye-rolling stuff a little more tolerable.

I have gone back to one particular day for 16 years now. When I type out that timeline, it doesn’t make me feel super young. I was 19 years old. 19! It makes me dizzy even thinking about.

So last week…January 19th came up. Ray remembered it. I remembered it. And 16 crazy years later, I still thank God for it.

A guy who was barely even a friend asked me if I would help out with leading worship for a worship night he was leading, at a church he had never been to for pastors he didn’t know. He had never heard me sing. All the signs pointed to desperation…I didn’t think that then, but I know that guy pretty well now. He plans. He had no time for that. I was 19, loved Jesus and wanted to lead worship, thought it would be a good time, had a couple of other friends who were jumping on the band wagon and said yes. I don’t even think I thought about it. I just said yes.

And as the story goes; Jesus changes everything.

That night, January 19, 2002 a day that the world changed for me.

This was not about a boy. This was not about a band. This was about God wrecking me. This was about being pulled out, called out and I had to depend on Jesus to move and He did. I had never led like that before in my life and I knew there was no going back. I didn’t know that was even in there till it came flooding out. God is so good like that.

That boy became a friend and worship leading partner, who became a best friend and for a while, that was it and I was grateful for a trusted friend who pushed me to lead and was someone I could lead alongside. Within a year and a half he became my husband. I love that I can look back and see where it started. I love that this was a beginning that I never saw coming. God surprises are the best.

The friendships that formed during those days were incredible then and remain treasures to us today. The prayers prayed over us that night were by people who became our pastors and dear friends. We are slowly but surely seeing those words come to pass. I thought those words were for that summer (remember, I was 19) and I thought it was about a camp we would lead worship at. Story of our life: God has something different in store. What I thought would be in a few months has lead us into 16 years with the best still yet to come.

I’m grateful for the boldness and obedience of others that pushed us towards Jesus and reminded us that He would do things in His time and to keep moving forward. I am grateful for those who took the time to see beyond and would often remind us of why they were for us. Our leadership today is shaped by those who loved us then. We are forever grateful.

16 years is a long time but I know it’s just a beginning all at the same time.

 

 

Favorite Things Monday: Celebrations Edition

Let’s celebrate people! It’s worth it to love them and be loved by them. It’s not safe but it is everything.

Today, I want to celebrate someone else that means a whole lot to me. God really can do a lot with a family if he let Him. It’s flat out miraculous. It’s the BEST. My Aunt Sharon married my Uncle Ron when I was 7. He claimed us, we claimed him and the rest is history. A LOT of history.  

This side of a couple of months ago, he had a health scare that shook me. When the texts read, “pray for your Unca’ Ron”, I prayed (and yes, thats how I spell it and he started it). When the texts read, “this is not good, he can’t form his words”, I wept. I prayed. I believed. I knew it was a big deal when he didn’t check himself out of the hospital. He is strong and determined, some may say stubborn like that. It runs in the family. When God builds a family, sometimes you don’t share DNA but you take on each others character traits.

He’s the reason I appreciate good coffee and know it is best served with a little splash of heavy cream. He’s also the reason I hate paper plates and will opt for glass every time. When me and my sisters were little, he bought us a go-cart. Like, a for real go-cart. He did a scavenger hunt around the house and had this dream gift in the garage. THE BEST. He had named it Speedy Pete. He included helmets.

There are so many reasons I can list but there is something in particular that still makes me cry.

It never, not one time ever occurred to me that maybe I couldn’t do something because I’m a woman. Not one time. The first time I ever heard that women shouldn’t or couldn’t be in leadership in the church or be a pastor…whatever you want to put here…was in bible college…by other students. I wasn’t friends with these people. Who has time for that?! It breaks my heart and you better believe there is this giant part of my heart that feels a responsibility to speak into the lives of women who have been told otherwise.

I come from a long and strong line of women who love God and serve His church, often in leadership and pastoral roles. My grandma would still be preaching if she could. I grew up seeing my Aunt Sharon in her office at the church where she led a huge single’s ministry…and that’s not the half of it. I have cousins that are powerhouse worship leaders.

To quote my mom, “now it is just all fluff”. She’s right. There is a lot of noise that tries to stop us. Unfortunately for those who seek to silence, I not only come from a long and strong line of women, I come from some incredible men who have loved and challenged me and pushed me towards Jesus.

But my Unca Ron? He put the microphone in my hand and said to speak. He wasn’t content to only let me sing a song but pushed me beyond that. As a teenager. At church. In front of people. He didn’t ask if I wanted to. He didn’t ask if I had anything to say. I learned to be ready. It wasn’t a suggestion, he wasn’t hesitant and he didn’t apologize if I felt put on the spot. It was a demand to speak to the people what God was doing or what God was saying. He sat and waited. As a young teenager, I learned to read the bible with an inquisitive eye and a listening ear. He taught me well, then followed through with pushing me forward. I remember being 15 and believed in. Every girl should be surrounded with that kind of love and confidence. So let’s show our sons and daughters well and push them forward. It’s everything.

I am so grateful that Christmas came and so did time with my family. I have never been more grateful for a time to sit and talk to my Unca Ron…and praise God, he had the words to speak back to me. He is well (very well) on his way to a full recovery. He has his words again. I’m so grateful that he helped show me mine.

 

 

 

Favorite Things Monday: God Can Can Edition

I’m gonna get straight to the point today.

2017 was weird. There was a lot of good but you can often tell how a year went overall when it’s over and you are looking back.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on it and when I could, it still didn’t make any sense. At least not at first. We can see a little more clearly now. In the last 6 month we walked through a season of discouragement unlike anything I have ever felt before. Moments that were supposed to be restful didn’t leave us feeling rested. I felt as if I was grieving things I would typically celebrate. It knew at it’s peak that there was another side to what we were feeling but I was also confident that the Lord wasn’t going to just lift that weight but carry us through. And that is exactly what happened. He carried us through. There wasn’t one moment that marked the end of that season, there were several by the time I felt we were on the other side. But what I do know, is that the Lord is so faithful. It was a year of realizing that lies about God’s heart had set up residence in mine. His heart is so good. Lies and fear are sneaky…but His perfect love casts out fear. Discouragement can make you weary. Disappointment can weigh on you. Passion stirring in your heart is costly. But my God, He is so faithful…and His love is so perfect.

So how do you head into a new year when the last one left you more than just worn out?

I will say, we are excited about 2018. We feel prepared. We are expectant. So we gave the year the can.

Literally.

At Central City Austin, we call it the “God Can” can.

We kicked off a new sermon series, have a lot coming up and we are excited. I mean, really excited. But this series kicked off with a message that stated three things:

I Can: Follow Christ

We Can: Make a Difference

God Can: Do the Miraculous

That last one… it has gotten me all kinds of worked up. The first two are so important and this giant desire in my heart but as I walk them out, I need that last one in ways I have limited in the past. I want to see God move and I am ready to drop kick my limits on how He wants to do that. I want the “not by might, not by power but by MY spirit says that Lord” (Zechariah 4:6). We serve this God who moves mountains. He wants to on our behalf. And we need Him to more than ever before.

So we got bold. What are we believing God for in 2018? As a church, as a family, as a church leadership team, as friends who hold each other up… what are we believing God for in 2018?

I don’t even have a picture of it for reference but we have the God Can can. We went old school and wrote things down and put them in a can. We can’t wait to pull papers out of that God Can can and see the answered prayers. There is nothing too big and there is no such thing as small and silly when it comes to asking for the miraculous (we limit it all…). May we know His heart and His love in ways we have never before in 2018. Knowing that makes you a bit more bold. Or a lot.

This Sunday was bold. Really bold. It felt like a really great start to a new year. We have this big ole God Can can…and we believe that God can do the miraculous. This isn’t fluff, this isn’t hype, this is my God who is good and faithful and true to His word and His people. He doesn’t fail. We have had seasons of waiting but that does not affect His ability. We have had seasons with unanswered questions but that doesn’t affect His love. He is the God of the exceedingly abundantly, above and beyond… and I want that. Not mine, His.

Maybe you need your own God Can can. We aren’t done filling it. But this we know, He is the God of the miraculous and He will do it.

 

 

 

Favorite Things: Year End Review

Hello Friends

I have missed you.

This isn’t so much a year recap, more like a “where did you go for a whole month”. Welcome to the last bit of random from 2017. I’m not sad to see 2017 go and welcome a brand new year. We love the new and the bold stirring in our hearts as we step into 2018.

The holiday season came in like a wrecking ball. I had never in my life felt more behind. In reality, I hadn’t been more behind. This includes the year where we had just started a church and Ray ended up in the hospital needing two blood transfusions just a couple weeks before Christmas. Then again, that is the kind of thing that stops everything in it’s tracks and not much else matters. It’s really wrong of me to compare but I still do. This past month was just all of life all over the place. There was a lot of good but a lot is a lot regardless. We managed to get all the things done, all the gifts wrapped, get to Georgia to spend some much needed time with my family and make it back to Austin in one piece (with a couple of colds and coughs to go with it…but we made it). That drive is far. But those people God gave for me to call family are worth it.

With the hustle and bustle things didn’t exactly go the way I planned. I am confident that we did no more than 6 days of Advent as a family. Six days may be me being a little generous. I know for sure that we did 5. I did the She Reads Truth study on my own and still had to use those blessed grace days that they include to get caught up. I am really glad that my kids know what Christmas is all about because I am pretty sure they got more Advent-type reading watching Charlie Brown this year. Since life doesn’t slow down unless you make it, we may have to rearrange when we do things next year. Lesson learned. Again.

Our church did our annual tacos and coffee outreach with the homeless community downtown. We do different things throughout the year but this is one that we do every year on the Sunday before Christmas. I kind of love that a big group of us show up for church service post-outreach and looking like we have been outside all morning. This has never been what we do to do our good deed. This isn’t something we do so we can pat ourselves on the back. I think there was one picture that Katie got and it was of our backs as we were pouring coffee and prepping hot chocolate. I love how our kids love this. I love how they see people and how that challenges me. We do because we have to do something and we won’t let overwhelming need stop us from starting. Love your neighbor. It’s simple. Sometimes it seems small and sometimes it seems really big. Both matter. And sometimes loving your neighbor looks like tacos, coffee and hot chocolate (and bus passes and other things…but we start with tacos and go from there…that is a life lesson if I have ever heard one).

Every year is different. Every year we learn something new. Every year we learn to love better than before. We look at the past and say good-bye to what we must and say a giant HELLO to the new.

I have some things in the works…including a lot more Favorite Things for 2018. Let’s do this!