Favorite Things: What To Do With All of This Edition

How do you sum up the last couple of weeks?

There is scene in the movie Something’s Gotta Give where Diane Keaton is standing on the streets of New York, heartbroken over Jack Nicholson (playing who I am convinced is his actual self) and she says the best line; “what do I do with all of this”.

And those words, friends, sums it all up.

(Side note: not at all for the same reasons. But those words… Stick with me, I’m going somewhere)

What do I do with all of this?

Those words have probably summed up a decent part of my emotional state for a while now.

We had had a CRAZY couple of weeks. I mean crazy. You know the week with the phone calls and the feelings and life and all while trying to prepare to host our IF Local. It was a couple of weeks where I felt I needed to explain that I am not a “the devil is around every corner” type of person but I know an attack when I see one. Sometimes it looks like a thousand little things and some of those things aren’t even the thing, it’s the lies that try to sneak in with them. Then I call my husband weeping from a conference room at work. It was one of those. On top of that, I knew day 2 of IF was the two year mark of losing Caleb. I wasn’t out to run from any of the feelings (this is progress) that came with it but the reality was, it was coming and it made my heart ache.

IF Gathering always brings up a lot for me. There are a couple of reasons but you have to know, it is one of my most favorite things that we get to be a part of as a church. IF Table is a regular for us as women in my church (and if you aren’t apart of CCA, you are totally invited…we like making friends) and IF Equip is an awesome source for daily bible study. I love what they do and how they do it and it is absolutely ALL about Jesus, His church and what we can do together for His kingdom. I’m all about it.

But what does it bring up? Everything.

The first year I stood in my kitchen crying because I had tried to run away from how I was feeling. But God gave me Ray Ortiz. The man who asks questions. The fact of the matter was, I didn’t know what to do with all of this. All of the desire in my heart to serve God in a greater capacity and have NO IDEA where to start had reaching a breaking point. I was afraid I was going to hear one more message about being willing to step outside my comfort zone. We planted a church, y’all and if you think for one second there aren’t one hundred other “only Jesus” things in our heart and on paper…Hello, my name is Chantel Ortiz. I haven’t been “comfortable” since…I don’t even know. I know now that that is not what this was about. All the passion is my heart was breaking my heart and I didn’t know what to do. So I told my husband and cried in the kitchen.

What do I do with all this…

That became the question and the more I seek the Lord, I don’t have an answer but I have Him. The “all of this” could do several unhealthy things. Giving up is not only not in my nature, when something has you and not the other way around, you just can’t. Turning to cynicism and bitterness or frustration were all options and I won’t lie and say I have never been there but I couldn’t stay there. But instead, with all of this, I am learning to lean in closer. I’m praying prayers that scare me and I am praying them over and over again. The Lord is pinpointing areas of fear and where it is a giant lie about His heart. When I lean in, wondering what to do with all this, the passion doesn’t dwindle, the dreams don’t die and my heart can suddenly take on a little more than the day before.

So what happened when a bunch of women got together in a living room and worshiped together, ate together, prayed, sought the Lord together and talked about it? The “all of this” grows but feels less scary. The big things in life are still big things but the way we carry them changes. We carry them together, bring the things slowing us down to the Lord together and through it all God just keeps drawing us closer to Himself. The dreams and the passions grow but He starts to give us feet. Our dependence shifts off of ourselves to something far more scary and totally freeing. It’s not about our ability anymore. We aren’t afraid of the seemingly small steps of obedience. We don’t look down on them.

We are learning what to do with all of this. One step at a time. Loving one person at a time. Leaning in to God and His word one day at a time. He is faithful. He doesn’t mess up. He didn’t give you that passion to torment you. Lean in. He knows what to do with all He’s given you.





Favorite Things: That Time When…and the No Plan B Edition

Seven Years Ago.

I know this makes a consecutive “remember when” post but it feels important.

Seven years ago we had said goodbye to a church, youth ministry and a whole lot of people in between that we simply adored and knew we were loved by them. Ray drove a U-Haul and I drove our loaded up Explorer and drove on completely ice covered roads from San Angelo back to Austin with one plan to start a church.

There was no plan b.

I thought I was gonna puke. We walked away from a loving church home, a bunch of teenagers I didn’t want to say goodbye to and a salary. Did I mention we had a salary? We were walking into a giant unknown and with what we had saved and my giant income that came with waiting tables at Chili’s.

And I knew God was with us.

I was confident. I was terrified. Courage meets us along the way. Opportunity meets us along the way.

A couple of months before we left San Angelo, two couples said they were joining us. One would get married a little faster than planned and move from Lubbock. The other would move from north of Austin.  A couple of weeks before we left, one couple said we are coming with you. On our last Sunday, one other couple said they were coming with us. Since then, there have been a few others from San Angelo that made their way to Austin. God really does a special work when He builds a family.

People sold houses, quit jobs, left the familiar, where their families were and most of them, where they grew up.

Did I mention that I wanted to puke? And at the exact same time, I knew God was with us.

What do you say about seven years later?

My prayers seemed big then, now I see where I put limits on how I prayed. And yet, God was so faithful. The need seemed big then, but my heart has grown, my eyes have seen and the passion and the call that beckoned us to leave one place for another is not the same one that drove those roads seven years ago. It’s so much bigger.

This last year feels like a magnifying glass on how I pray and how I believe God will move. I have felt my expectations challenged and in turn shift from what I have seen to what I have yet to see God do. I want the latter.

And beyond that, I have watched God do this same work with those we do life…so much life and ministry with. You stretch in groups. I have to laugh at it. It’s just so true. It’s better that way, in my extroverted opinion. Even the more introverted among us know the need for others.  The Lord just won’t leave us alone and we are starting to see pieces come together that for us, has taken seven years to get where we are. When I look and see what the Lord has brought to light (or straight up exposed), healed, restored and to be honest, some of the more painful roads He has allowed us to walk; I see Him. I will never be the same. Isn’t that what we want for everyone? I know I do. He has shown us His heart and what He is about. He is showing us the power that we have as His children and what happens when we pray. He is about His Church. His love is so real. He is faithful. He is good. He is just getting started. Every step feels like we are just getting started. The best really is yet to come.