2011 in Review…sort of (part 1)

I’ve decided that I can’t sum up the absolute ridiculousness that was 2011 and my excitement for 2012 in one post. I try to keep every blog at 500 words or less (way less on occasion). It would be impossible to do so…this has been a year folks…a year indeed.

For those of you who have been kind enough to follow along via blog this past year, you have noticed a common theme. By “common”, I mean broken record. I know this. I would apologize but something about that just doesn’t seem right. I tried to be honest. Honestly, my brain felt like a big ole broken record too. Thank you for continuing to read. Thank you for your prayers.

This has been the hardest year in many ways. We have been stretched beyond anything we have ever known before. We knew this would be hard. We knew it would affect every area of our lives. We didn’t know how…but we knew it would. It has. Every single emotion has shown up at one time or another…or seven.

This has been the best year in so many ways. The good has outweighed the hard…the hard has been way harder but the good has been way better. God is good. God is faithful. God has wrecked us in so many ways…and I know this ball has just started rolling.

It needs to be said – Revive Church – I love all of you to pieces! There are no sufficient words. We can’t wait to get 2012 going!

As I think about it this morning, it can be summed up in this statement. I can’t believe what God has carried us through, allowed us to wait on, what he’s shown us in waiting, patience produced, people he has put in our lives, how much our eyes have been opened and in every area of our lives shown the sufficiency of His grace and love.

We started this not quite sure if we were just plain crazy or not. We may be crazy but the more we walked in the direction God was leading, the more we started see how so incredibly not alone we are. You start to see how God knits us all into His story. It’s all His Church…

I’ve never been so excited to see one year END! I’ve never been so excited for a new one to begin.

When some of us girls went and heard Sheila Walsh a few weeks ago, she said something that had me in tears within minutes of her speaking. “When God has spoken a promise to you, you can stake your life on it”. “Being where God has called you to be is the greatest thing in the world, no matter how scary it may be”. It may sound groundbreaking…but it broke me.

So with that…2012…BRING IT! Let’s do this!

A Post-Christmas, Pre-New Years Post

The last time I posted was regarding my husband’s health. He is continuing to get stronger. A busy couple of days were a reminder that he still has a little ways to go. He is getting there!

Christmas time is here…

Christmas time is over…

With as lovely as Christmas is/was…Come on 2012!

We knew that this Christmas was going to look a little different than years past. This whole year has looked different so of course, holidays were no excuse. I’m not sad about that…not one little bit. I’ve also decided that there were certain things I wasn’t going to apologize for. 🙂

My kids didn’t wake up on Christmas morning and immediately open gifts. They had been told for a few weeks that we were going to go love people who needed love. Jesus said two things were most important – Love the Lord your God and Love your neighbor as yourself. It’s not complicated. They got it. They woke up Christmas morning, got dressed and headed out the door (might I add…without a single complaint…unless you include the one from Sophia about wearing a sweater).

Our church did a Christmas morning outreach. We only met at the school for a brief moment before heading out. We had about 40 backpacks filled w/necessities and a bunch of breakfast tacos. Since the weather in Austin has been delightfully disgusting…the areas we originally see groups of homeless men and women were vacant. We all (18 of us) ended up parking in a parking lot across the street from a shelter on 7th street.

Every backpack and taco was gone within 5 minutes. People literally came running. We all ended up giving away the Christmas treats that were recently given to us (thanks Erica). They may not have received a taco but we could keep giving, so we did…chocolate chip cookies, muddy buddy Chex Mix…a cooler. One girl even gave away her coffee. Seeing some men take a couple extra tacos, then give those away to those who didn’t get one…we saw kindness that will shut you up. Shutting me up isn’t an option, so please keep reading.

We knew there was a need…we knew the need was huge…

We expected everything to last more than five minutes.

That makes us crazy.

We know now. We are seeing more and more of what we can do and what will actually help. We are a brand new church. We don’t have a lot of money but we weren’t about to let that stop us from doing what we could. Guess what…doing something compels us to do more…and we will.

Any excuse I have ever had must now be replaced with a person. There is no excuse good enough. So with that…we do something.

I’ve never been more excited to see one year end and a new one begin (more on that later). Come on 2012!!! Lets do something…

 

Repentance and Convictions…

Before I get started, I want to make one thing very clear. This post is not about another church. This post is not bad mouthing or judging anyone. This post is about my conviction, my failure, repentance and determination to remain focused on the task at hand. To prove it, I went back and changed all the “ours and we” to “I and my”.

The things that have been challenging and dare say groundbreaking to me over the last couple of years make me sad.

I repent.

Where did my ideas come from? How comfortable was I in my ideas of how things should look and be done? I’ve read books that have messed me up. The authors write about loving and serving people, giving, fighting against injustice…a lot of doing that kind of seems new. Maybe not new news, it’s not new. It’s as old and familiar as time. It’s all over the bible. I’ve read it. I thought I had lived it…till I realized that I really hadn’t…not to the capacity I was supposed to. I wasn’t actually doing it, living it, moving beyond the hearing or the comfort of serving the way I always have…actually being the Church outside of the four walls of the church, that is. My heart and my mind were never fully engaged in it. I’ve been serving in the church for about as long as I can remember. I’m learning to let go of the ideas that were simply just mine to begin with. I love people. Yet, there is more. We have a greater capacity and calling to love bigger and show that love greater.

It broke my heart.

I still wrestle with how this is supposed to look. I am grateful for the examples. The examples have shown me how what He is wrecking in me doesn’t make me crazy it makes me a part of the Story. I’m glad that it has pushed me the way it has. I love how it challenges how I read my bible. I don’t shy away. I see it everywhere…I see it more than I ever have before. I’ve never wrestled with this like I have in the last couple of years. I want to make a difference so bad that it rests heavy in my heart. There hasn’t been any going back for a while now, but the challenges continue.

I think that sometimes we make it way more complicated…

This is my conviction. The present and the future excite me!

My Thoughts…

You will have to forgive for sounding like a broken record. If you think my blog has had a common theme, you should hear the thoughts in my head. I assure you, its way worse where no one else can hear it.

I’ve decided to do a bit of a mind dump…er…um…emptying of my thoughts??? Whatever you want to call it, here it goes.

– My son started kindergarten today! Time really does disappear. I didn’t cry (and yes, I do have a soul). He went in with a big Cephas smile (as expected). I did give him the “don’t quote movies” speech before he went in. Apparently, this isn’t something every parent has to do.

– My daughter is 3 and she has a sass to her that scares me (no exaggeration) a bit. She also may be a bit of a fashionista. She has been insisting on tights or leggings with her dresses…and its 105 outside!

– Prayers please!

– My kids continue to grow me daily. No better way to see your weaknesses than when you child repeats you. When I don’t like their tone it causes me to take a good hard look at my own. I often don’t like it.

– We launch Revive Church in 26 days. Just typing it makes me go EEK!

– A lot of what I believe church should look like and how it should function has changed quite a bit in the past few years. This isn’t speaking against anyone or any church. Honestly! We are all on the same team…working towards the same goal, serving the same God…let’s keep that in mind.

– I pray for a greater unity in the Church

– I am seeing how what God has put in our hearts connects with what God is doing all over…this encourages me, excites me and humbles me.

– There is a comfort in knowing that you never reach a level of faith where walking in it gets easy. We go from stretch to stretch. We are indeed in a stretch…

– Pray and give – check out www.revivechurchtx.com and www.plantedstrong.com

What Was Modeled Before Me – Part 5

This is my last post for the ‘What Was Modeled Before Me’ series. The last lesson is certainly not the least…these have been in no particular order.

They all have shaped me. This is not all of them but it is a good chunk of it. They flow into so many areas of life and I am grateful.

Last but not least

Invest, invest, invest….always invest

We have been a part of leading youth worship teams for 9 yrs (and that is just me, Ray has been for longer). Shoot, we were in youth ministry for that long. So blessed beyond words for this. Guess what?! With leading teenagers and having them on your team, you have to invest in them. You have to teach, train, correct, encourage, let them take the reign and encourage and guide some more. This is not an attempt to make a cookie cutter but to help develop what is there, encourage creativity and individuality. This takes time. This is something that has been HUGE for Ray and I. We are so blessed with those who have taken the time, energy and heart to invest in us. For us, it has always been second nature to do the same. If you aren’t training someone else to do your job/position or helping to develop those around you, then something is wrong. I make no apologies for this belief. I’m grateful for those around me who have felt the same way. Grateful for those who have thrown me so far outside of my comfort zone that there was no going back.

We are all affecting by those around us. I am grateful for the examples. I am grateful for the leadership. I am grateful for those I am blessed to call friend 🙂

What Was Modeled Before Me – Part 4

Lesson 4 – Be You…

First…a cheesy video…

It may sound cheesy but it is a lesson learned.

I know some things about myself (for proof, read this). There are some things I don’t know. There are passions that have yet to surface and God continues to mess me up and guide me in the direction of His leading.

I am not someone else. I am me. It may sound incredibly cheesy but it is a good lesson. I pray I never get to the point where I try to be someone else.

I’ve seen people be true to who they are, making no apologies for it. Getting to see that over the years has been huge.

I bawled every time I saw Pastor Jaycee get up and speak their first year as director of YFN. There is a good reason for this. I saw this family every week (I worked with Anna, I saw her every day) at The Rock and Southwest Harvest Church. I saw Jaycee minister in worship and preach. I got to see this couple connect with and pour into the lives of a group of students (30-60 or so). I saw the anointing, sense of urgency and conviction in his preaching. It was the same man preaching in front of 1,000 on a given week during camp.

There is something to be said about that.

Matt and Jen are probably some of the most relational people I know. They are compassionate and genuine. Please don’t get that confused with being a push over. You would be disappointed. I laughed when Ray told me what Pastor Matt’s first words were when he told him we were planting Revive Church. It was not an immediate “awesome, man”. It was “so what you are telling me is that God is changing your calling”. Sounds harsh? Not so much…actually it sounds about right. Matt is also part of our board. You want someone like that in your life…I promise! They are never afraid to ask the tough questions. I remember seeing a pregnant 14yr old girl walk in on a Wednesday night. He didn’t avoid the obvious, but with much heart, he talked to her about her present reality. No matter how large that group got, the relational heart was constant. Seeing them go from Austin, TX to Wrangell, AK was hard, but right.  God sent His best to an island where teenagers needed His heart. Now I get to cry when I read updates.

What I have been blessed to see is a genuine heart and passion no matter the size or the location of the ministry. No one waiting for a bigger stage, no one striving to be someone else…simply walking in their gifting and calling, giving it EVERYTHING they have. God is faithful 🙂

What Was Modeled Before Me – Part 3

Part 3

They showed me how to leave the right way…

I know, I started today off with a real fun one…

In ministry, we have all seen people come and go. This can be a good thing. It really can be. It can also be a very difficult thing (good or bad, it can still be hard). Today, I’m not referring to someone being let go or leaving because of moral failure or flat out disrespect for authority…that is another post for another day.

We have been taught that how you leave a place is important to how you enter a new season.

Whether it seemed fair, made sense, felt right…whatever you want to call it – before I ever read Under Cover by John Bevere – I saw it in action. I believe that the way those who were stepping away from a position honored who they served under was just as much of a testament to Christ in their lives as it was the ministries that they led. I know that for some, this was a difficult and frustrating time. When it was someone stepping down, I watched as they passed the baton onto the one who was taking over. I will say this – I have seen God do great things in the lives of those we have served under. I believe that how they handled either challenging or flat out difficult situations set them up for what God had next.

I know that not every situation in the same. We were blessed to have been able to leave places the way that we have. Not everyone is treated the way we were when we left Tonkawa and San Angelo. I know different pastors and leaders handle situations differently and not every situation is the same.

I know that it is never easy to leave where you are. We have done that a few times. It never got easier. Stepping into the new assignment that God was leading us to was exciting…and there were pieces of my heart and lots of tears left along the way.

I have seen with my own eyes – how you leave a place is important.

What Was Modeled Before Me – Part 1

Ray and I have been blessed to have served under some great youth pastors,  pastors and leaders.

I’d like to share with you a few of the qualities that were modeled before us.

I can’t begin to express my gratitude for people like Jaycee and Anna Jennings, Matt and Jenifer Gerald, Tim and Lenora Hinson, Chris and Lisa Frith…my list could go on. If I could find my children’s pastor from when I was a kid, she would be on here too (someone help me find Ms. Lisa!).

There are people who set an example with their lives, the messages they preach.

This week, I’ll be sharing them with you  🙂

 

Today….

You put your family first.

Period.

I’m not quite sure I can even count how many times Pastor Jaycee has said “love you guys but we are kicking you out”. Before they had kids, before they were the directors of YFN, when they were faithfully serving as youth pastors in their local church , they put each other first.

I know that in ministry, this can be a sneaky thing. It is easy to attempt to justify not focusing on your family when you are busy “serving” the church. There are books written on this, yet, it happens. I know that it can be a fight…and it is one worth fighting. I am grateful for those who have kicked me out of their houses. You have shown me a great thing. Instead of talking about putting your family first, I got the boot 🙂 I have in return, kicked people out of my house (looking at you Tonkawa, OK).

There are seasons when we burn the candle at both ends. These seasons at all cost must have a clear end. When we were in San Angelo, that season was always Women’s Conference. When that Saturday afternoon rolled around, we were done. Our normal (what normal was to us anyway) returned soon after. Pastor Todd and Shelly were very clear on putting family first…I am grateful for their openness in this.  I know that for each family, this looks different. The fact is, however it may look, what it is you say “no” to, this is a non-negotiable.

We are honored to be able to do what we do. Our first ministry is to our family.

Period.

I say THANK YOU to those who walked that out before me.

 

If you don’t mind me asking – what does this look like in your family?

My Kids Teach Me…

I am an extrovert. Talking to people has never been a struggle. Getting to know other people hasn’t ever really scared me. Sure there is the hesitant hiccup of the unknown but for the most part, I like people. I like talking to new people. Sometimes, just shutting me up is the problem…if you wanna call it a problem 🙂

I am learning something. I’ve said my kids grow me daily. They challenge me. My kids have a little trait that I hope they never outgrow. There is a part of me that is rather inspired by it.

My kids do not know a stranger. I could attest it to the years Ray and I spent in youth ministry. They were surrounded by loud teenagers who loved them. While they may have a little bit to do with it, my kids are who they are…and they love people (we are working on stranger-danger). I love this about them.

This post was inspired by a day at the pool. There have been many days like this but this particular day, I got a picture.

I laugh as my kids greet new faces with “hey friend, what’s you name”, or my favorite “hey little guy”. That is what Cephas says to kids 5 yrs older than him…and it’s awesome. He also calls every person under the age of 15 “friend”. Things like age, gender, race, amount of toys and personality don’t matter. Cephas starts kindergarten in less than a month…this could get really interesting 🙂

I love that they let nothing get in there way. I love that they are constantly genuine. They love people and this makes me happy.

My Current Prayer…

It goes like this –  “Oh God”.

I wish there were more words to muster but there are times as of lately where this seems to be it. Sometimes I have a lot more words but sometimes, this about sums it up.

This season is one full of joy and excitement…and moments of wanting to cry and/or throw up. I suppose laughter should be included because sometimes you want to laugh at yourself for feeling like crying or throwing up. I do often…laugh, not throw up.

God continues to stretch and show himself faithful in amazing and unexpected ways. I love the texts/emails/phone calls and actual conversations that we have with our launch team. We are not in this crazy boat alone. We are surrounded by some unbelievable crazy people who have uprooted and moved (or are in the process of moving) their lives and families to Austin to launch Revive Church. Watching what God is doing in their lives has me a bit in awe. That right there is God showing up in a way we dared to dream but barely dared to speak. Maybe I need to dare to dream and speak a bit more often.

In the midst of my “oh God” prayers, I wonder…

I see where we all are right now and I wonder…

I wonder what we will be saying a couple of years down the road. I dream of that and the things that God has done and is doing. I wonder what the present plays in this grand story.

I am encouraged as I read and study. I am challenged reading the bible, knowing the end while reading the beginning of someone’s story. Keep in mind my word-nerd brain. I love the details. There was purpose in every step of the journey.

Does all of this feel overwhelming…psh…yeah it does! Do I know that when God calls, it’s bigger than us? More than ever! I am constantly reminded. Do I know that it is worth it? Yes! In the meantime, my prayers may be short in wording but they are constant.