Tuesday, October 28, 2014

It's a new season...

 {Source}

Sometimes I feel like God allows you to go through seasons of life that you literally cannot describe.  Words escape you, you can't quite pinpoint your feelings, when you go to describe it- you are literally speechless.  During times like that, I feel like God is saying, "umm no, you need to grow through this, you can't share just yet."  So a literal fog kinda comes over you, and it's impossible to lift it on your own. 

That's how I have felt for a better part of the last year, foggy.  There were many times I have tried to sit down and write it all out, just express myself, say screw it and type it.  But literally nothing came out, and what did made absolutely no sense. 

For about the last 2 weeks or so, the urge to write again has been heavy.  I feel like I have a lot to share, from old memories, to current memories with the girls, to planting and starting a brand new church, to what God has taught me through it all. 

At one point I thought about "rebranding" myself and this blog.  But then I realized that's silly, I started this blog for myself, as selfish as that sounds, it's true.  I started it when I was a new mom, and truthfully, I was lonely and needed an outlet.  I also realized as a new mom, I needed a place to write down and share all the little things my kids did and are doing, and what life was like back in 2008.  And that's how this blog will stay. 

So whether one person reads this, or 100, this ye little space on the Internet will remain the same; faith, family, fun, and some food thrown in there, too.




Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Why is good news so bad?

Here is one thing I have been noticing, and maybe it's just me, I am a highly sensitive person, so it may be just me, but here it is:


When did sharing good news become so bad?

Do you know what I mean?  I often times see on social media, and in person, when someone shares some exciting news, or something great that just happened to them, some people rejoice with them and actually mean it, and some act happy, and then instantly think...
-Why not me?
-I work just as hard as him/her, or I work harder
-What am I doing wrong?
-They must know someone...
-Well good for them, that's great {all of that said in a dripping sarcastic tone}

I am sure the list could go on and on.  Just wait until someone shares good news with you, and you will find yourself saying one of those lines above, or you can add your own.

Good news nowadays almost comes with a stigma, like you have to make an excuse as to why something good happened to you, or why God opened this door for you, or why...insert the blank.  I know I feel this way when I want to share good news.  And I also know I have been on the end of the good news shared thinking, really why them, why not us?

The stigma with good news has really bothered me lately, so much so that I hardly share good news, or when I do, I make excuses to make the one receiving the good news feel better about themselves.  And honestly, this is ridiculous.  I shouldn't feel bad for sharing good news, neither should you.  And I don't really think it's the good news that bothers people, it's the selfishness of why not me too that consumes them.


So here are some tips I think that can aid in sharing and receiving good news...

Good News Sharer:
1. Make sure the timing is appropriate...If you are going to share good news with a person or group, just make sure it's an okay time to do so.  Think before you open your mouth.  It's not that people don't want to hear it, they just need to be in the right frame of mind to hear it.
2. Say it in the most humble, yet proud way possible...Something good happened to you for a reason, be proud of that reason, but also be humbled by that reason.  Church planting has really taught me this.  There are many times I act like it's no big deal that God brought certain people to our team when really it is a BIG DEAL!  We wouldn't be able to move forward without certain key players, and God has provided those key players.  Stay proud and humbled by your good news.     
3. Encourage the ones you are sharing the good news with...People want to know their rainbow is coming at the end of the storm too.  I am not asking you to lie or make anything up, but encourage the people you are with to keep hustling, keep dreaming, keep working hard.  I think the best encouragement comes in the form of personal stories, tell about a time you wanted to give up, and because you didn't or because you did this instead, this happened. 

Now to the ones who are listening to the good news being shared, you are not off the hook...here is my advice to you...

Good News Receivers:
1. Be genuinely happy for the person...This person whether they fully thought about it or not, they are sharing their good news with you, please be happy for them.  Sometimes good news trumps common sense.  A couple days after we lost our baby a friend joyously told me she was expecting and she was elated.  Yes it hurt, yes, it felt unfair, yes, my physical wounds of this lost life were still there, but my friend was happy.  She knew I lost a baby, but again, good news sometimes trumps common sense.  I was happy for her, but sad for me.  But I rejoiced with the good news.  That may be an extreme example, but just know sometimes people are not going to be able to think about all that is going on in your life before they spew their good news.
2. Don't take it personally...This one is harder said than done.  Their good news is not a reflection of your life, of your dream, of your hustle, or your fill in the blank.  It's not because you didn't do something they are now getting a reward.  I often hesitate to share good news about our church plant because I know so many other planters are struggling, and I don't want to make them feel bad.  But the truth is every situation is different.  Sometimes they win and we lose, and sometimes we win and they lose.
3. Keep hustling and dreaming...Don't give up after hearing someones good news.  Most people feel defeated after hearing something about someone else, like "oh great all the awesome prizes in life are taken now, I concede."  Someones good news should spur you on to keep dreaming, keep working, keep going.  After I hear something good from someone working towards the same goal as me I do feel defeated and kinda like why them not me, but then after I get that out of my system, I get a little competitive and think "if they can do it, so can I."

I am not sure when this transition of good news being so bad happened, but I think we need to reverse the stigma associated with good news.  Lets rejoice with those who rejoice, lets be happy for them, and lets not think about ourselves and what we aren't achieving in that one single moment.  People have good news to share, do not make them regret sharing it with you.        


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Being U-NEEK

I have had the amazing opportunity to review a product for DaySpring.  And actually, my kids are the ones who are benefiting the most from this opportunity.  We have been having fun learning about and playing with DaySpring's line of U-NEEKS.

U-NEEKS started off as drawings and doodles, and they have now evolved into so much more.  Here is what I love about the U-NEEK line...

"U-NEEKS are about, helping kids discover during those key years, who God made them to be."

"U-NEEKS are here to point them back to God, back to their creator, to discover how God made them and for what purpose.  Once they discover not just that they are different or U-NEEK, but even more importantly that God made them in an amazing and wonderful way!" ~Bob Perryman {DaySpring's Senior Product Marketing Director}

I think most parents can agree that we tug that fine border of wanting our kids to be unique and wanting them to just fit in.  I know I hug that border like a tight rope.  I know I am proud of the ways Molly is different from her classmates, but at the same time I honestly struggle with the differences, too.

Being able to teach both Molly {age 6} and Lucy {age 3} that they can be confident in the way that God uniquely made them is a huge win for me and being able to use the U-NEEKS line from DaySpring is an added bonus.  U-NEEKS are awesome in that way, and they are so...U-NEEK, you haven't seen anything like them in stores.

I also love that you can find U-NEEKS for a limited time in stores like Wal-Mart and Hobbly Lobby!  But hurry, most stores are only carrying them from June15-July 14.  But don't worry, you can find them online here!

Molly and Lucy at Hobby Lobby

One rainy day when the neighbor girl was over, I broke out my U-NEEK loot and let the girls all play with it.  I let them just discover the stickers, read the descriptions, and try and figure it all out themselves.  They did a pretty good job, and we talked a little bit more about God making us unique.  We discussed our differences, ways we were alike, and how to appreciate it all.


I think the girls liked the temporary tattoos the best!  But I love the the little U-NEEK cards that Molly can give to her friends, or I can pack them in her lunchbox during the school year.  Another thing that is great about the U-NEEK line, it's all affordable!  Imagine that, kid stuff that you can actually afford!  

You can also go to the ITunes or Googleplay Store and download the U-NEEK app!!  How cool is that?!  Just search U-NEEK, and download!   

It isn't easy being unique, and it certainly isn't easy for kids to accept that they are unique.  We all want to fit in, and not stand out.  But God created us all uniquely, and once we learn to appreciate our uniqueness, then I think we can start really living, and enjoying the unique world God created for us. 

{I was not paid in any way for this review.  This review was all my own opinion after receiving products to review for DaySpring/UNEEKS}

   

Thursday, June 19, 2014

How Church Planting Is Changing My Marriage

The other day while unpacking the millionith box in the basement I came across some old photos.  My first thought was "these are awesome for #throwbackthursday."  Nice, right?  More like vain, yet awesome, just wait, those photos will make an appearance.  Then it hit me, we have changed. 

Eric and I went out on our very first date on August 19, 1999.  That was the day I turned 15 and a half, and got my drivers permit.  My parents let me drive to Eric's house, I am sure they were just as scared as I was, but we made it in one piece.  They were actually in a Bible study that met at Eric's parents house.  I am sure as we pulled away in Eric's hot rod car, a white Dodge Daytona, more affectionately called the "white stallion" (the car, not Eric) all the group members were reminiscing about their first dates, and so on.

I met Eric when I was in third grade when a friend invited me to her church.  Eric was the little boy all the girls had a crush on, and we all wanted to sit by him, and we all wanted to be his partner, and he was just like get away from me.  I pined after Eric from third grade until the summer before my sophomore year of high school.  I even dated another boy for a whole year before Eric and I went out on our first date, but broke it off with him because deep down I really liked Eric.

I think back fondly to our first date, and realize what I was most attracted to in Eric were vain qualities, yet very real things for me at that age.  I loved that Eric played sports, I loved that he had a car, I loved that he had a lot of friends, and I loved that he looked out for me.  Not that any of that stuff is bad, but was it going to build a future and a marriage?

From our first date back in August of '99, we have been together.  Who I am kidding, I have loved that boy since I was 8!  Over the last 15 years our relationship has changed, twisted, turned, and flipped upside down a couple of hundred times.  We have pushed our vows to the limit of sickness and health, richer or poorer, well maybe not richer, ha!  But truthfully there have been days giving up has seemed easier than trudging through.  And honestly, I have given up.  There are days I throw the towel in because I am too tired to fight, too tired to talk it out, too tired to find a solution.  Marriage is exhausting.

 {source}

Eric and I have always been in the ministry since the day we said "I do."  I don't know anything else, and I don't want to know anything else.  Ministry has looked vastly different over the years for us, and we have changed over the years right along with ministry.  Now that we are planting a church, our marriage is changing right along with our ministry roles.

We always say church planting is high risk, high reward.  And so is marriage in church planting.  Going through this adventure I have seen my husband go from the mountain top to the bottom of the valley in an hour, I have seen his heart break for people and opportunities.  I have witnessed a lot in the last year, and my view of my husband and our marriage has changed.

At the beginning of this journey to plant a church I would have told you we had been through a lot, we were stronger than ever, and we were bullet proof.  After some time and reflections, I can only laugh at those thoughts.  It's like when you prepare for kids, you read the books, go to the classes, talk to friends, then you have a baby and you realize you have no clue what you are doing.  Yea, that's marriage in church planting.

But marriage and church planting is not all bad either.  I can say we have honestly found out what the other one is made of.  When Eric is low, I am high, and vice versa.  I have had to step up into uncomfortable roles for me, and just do it, because we are all in this thing, whether it's comfortable or not.  I have watched my once strong and unbreakable 16 year old boyfriend get beat up, knocked around, and weakened during this process.  I have always held Eric in high regard, he was my best friend before he was boyfriend, and now the bar of respect has just grown tremendously through this process.

Eric is capable of more than I ever thought, like he amazes me on a daily basis with his determination and courage.  My husband is not perfect, he is just a guy who has a calling on his life to reach people no one else is reaching, and to do it in the name of Jesus.  And for that I am eternally grateful, and humbled, and honestly I love being in the passenger seat of this marriage while my husband drives the memorable "White Stallion."         

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Biggest Lesson God Is Teaching Me

Over the better part of the last 9 months God has been teaching me a major lesson.  Like major.  And it's a hard one, and it stinks at times, and it makes me want to yell uncle more often than not.  Here is my life changing lesson...

DO NOT SETTLE

Do not settle on anything, like nothing, nope, don't even think about it...do not settle.  I am a complacent, comfortable person, so naturally this lesson is hard.  

When Eric and I decided to pursue church planting we were in the midst of a great, thriving ministry.  We loved everything about life, but it was comfortable.  And I honestly don't believe as a Christ follower we are called to be comfortable.  When we moved back to Ohio we were planning on starting a church in Toledo, because that was good enough, close enough, fill in the blank enough.  When we were approached about another ministry opportunity that would have been an awesome experience, it would have just been good enough.  It was a ministry that we could have easily done for years and years and would have been great at, but was it what God really wanted us to do? 

Both of these opportunities would have meant a pay check, insurance, and stability, so trust me when I say it was incredibly hard to say no.  We wrestled and wrestled, but truthfully as hard as it was to say no, it was also freeing because we knew God had more for us.  These opportunities just wet our appetite, for what was to come.  

Over the last 9 months I just keep thinking and feeling; don't settle, don't settle, don't settle.  

Eric and I have been relentless with this mindset.  From housing, to ministry, to family life, we are not settling.  When I talk to other people, the best advice I can give them is don't settle.  I totally get there are seasons of life where you need to just do what you need to do, and settle for a time.  

I recently watched Jim Carey's commencement speech he gave and what really stood out to me was:
"So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality."
"...you can fail at what you don't want.  So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love."  

I have been writing and sharing a lot about blind obedience, and it hit me the other day, true faithful obedience is blind.  We are not super human for walking blindly through life, we are actually doing exactly what God has called us to do.  Because if we knew what was ahead of us, we would probably settle in a disobedient way. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

Plane Conversations

Last night Eric and I flew home from a conference we were attending all week.  I was tired, I was cranky, I just wanted to get on the airplane maybe read my magazine, but most definitely enjoy a nice long nap.  We had a great week at the conference, I learned a ton, my mind had been swirling and whirling with all that we were soaking in, but I was also exhausted.  I missed my kids, our routine, and I was just ready to get home.

Upon taxiing to take off I grabbed a piece of gum and went to put the pack back into my purse.  While I was putting the pack away I heard a voice say "offer them a piece."  Now, I wasn't sure if this was God or my mom's voice of politeness coming through.  And at first I was like no, not going to do that.  All while this was happening in my head I was trying to put that dumb pack of gum back in a pocket that was like twice the size of the pack.  So logically it should fit.  So again in my head, I was like fine, I will offer the guys on either side of me a piece of gum.  Eric and I were not sitting together on the way home.  The guy on my left said no thanks, but the guy on my right was like yes, please.  So I give him the gum, get the pack back into the pocket and sit back for my nice long nap.  Before I could close my eyes the conversation started.

Now I have always loved people who tell me their awesome airplane stories, like we talked, connected, they were baptized in the lavatory right there.  I always wanted that to be me, I have dreamed of a conversion story like this.  But not last night, nope, I wanted a nap, I didn't want God to interrupt me, and my agenda.  So I unwillingly answer his questions, and the conversation kept going, and going.  It went all the way until we got off the plane and down the ramp.  Then we parted ways.

Once I realized I was in for the long haul during the plane ride I kept praying that God would give me the right words to say, that the Holy Spirit would take over and I would say just what this guy needed to hear.  To be honest I was disappointed because none of that happened.  I didn't say anything out of the ordinary, and there was no plane seat conversion and baptism happening in the tiny bathroom.  I honestly felt like I failed, I failed being a Christian, and I failed God.  I thought how can we plant a church when I can't lead the guy sitting in 44E to Christ?!  The whole drive home from the airport I kept thinking of how the conversation could have gone differently, how maybe I should have 1-2-3 punched him with the good news.

So after sitting on it for a night, here's my encouragement to you...
1. It's not your job to transform anyone, it's God's.  That should take the pressure off of you.  It's your job to represent Christ in the best way possible, but ultimately it's God job to transform someone.  You may just be the starting point for them.
2. Share your story.  God gave each of us a story, SHARE IT.  You may think your story is boring and no one could possibly relate or be interested, you may think your story is so far out there no one will believe you, or you may tell someone you are planting a church and they look at you like you just grew a third head.  I am getting used to this look.  They may not express a lot of interest at first or at all, but I guarantee you this, they will think about your story later on, and they will start to wonder what their story is.
3. Listen carefully.  Last night this guy was just coming off his own conference experience, and he was all geeked out on what he learned.  He really didn't care what I was selling, so I just listened.  Which at first I was like c'mon dude, how can I convert you to Jesus if you keep talking.  But then I was like maybe I am the only who does listen to him. 
4. Find something you both can relate to.  This guy had no real interest in Jesus, or church, he was not married, and did not have kids.  My conversation starters are now limited...so we talked pets.  He used to run an animal rescue, so I listened to him talk about all of the animals he helped, and what he learned along the way.  We shared funny pet stories, and showed off pet pictures.

Here's the deal, not every conversation you have is going to be a home run.  There are numerous, countless times I walk away shaking my head thinking, goodness gracious, why on earth did you say that?!  For me the most important things are being aware of the people around you, pray for God's wisdom, and be open to the Holy Spirit guiding the conversation.  I don't have some awesome airplane story, and I may never have one.  But I pray that I made a slight impact on that guy's life.  I pray I represented Christ well, and that he realized not all people who love God are judgmental and out to condemn him.

Today I started praying for Michael, and his future.  I will probably never run into him again, and that's okay, but I won't stop praying for him. 
 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

On my heart...church planting

It's been quiet around here lately, and by lately I mean the better part of about 9 months or so.  This season I find myself in has been long, like really long.  I have grown a lot- my views, ideas, and perspectives have all shifted.  What I once thought was important ended up being not so important, and little things I used to take for granted have now become some of the things I am the most grateful for.

About a month or so ago I announced that Eric and I are following the dream God has deeply planted in our hearts- planting a church in our hometown.  This dream has always been just that, a dream.  We never thought it would be possible, or that we would find partners to join alongside us, or that people would want to jump on this crazy train with us.  But being faithful and obedient has done more than grow our spiritual life, it's been life giving on many levels.  Through blind obedience God has been blessing us immensely.

People we have never had connections with have been connecting with us- partnerships, launch team, financial partners, prayer partners, etc.  We are still in need of many things, but just looking back even 2 months ago, I am blown away at how everything on our church planting road map has intersected.

Eric and I have been sitting down and meeting with couples, individuals, and families to talk about Movement Church.  The more we share, the more excited we get.  But the more we share, the more our eyes are opened to problems, issues, baggage, heartache, and then this journey gets more intense.  I knew going into this people have issues, I have issues, so I am cool with issues.  Working on a church staff you are introduced to a lot of things, you deal with a lot, you meet a lot of people, you see and hear things you don't want to deal with, basically I didn't enter this journey naively.

But when you sit across from someone and they pour their heart out to you and you realize that you are now treading on sacred ground, it gets intense.  I am a helper, that's why I enjoy counseling so much, I want to help you, so unintentionally I take on the weight of the world.  And as much as I love meeting and getting to know new friends, I also feel grieved for when the church let them down, or when a leader hurt them.  But I also rejoice with them when they have a spiritual growth spurt, and when the church was just what they needed at that time in their life.  So we have been riding one twisty, turny, swirly, up and down roller coaster, and I love it.

This ye old blog of mine might be quiet, but it's in no way a reflection of what God has been teaching me.  Actually quite the opposite, I have learned so much in this season that I don't even know where to start in the sharing process.  So I will just say that blindly following God has been one of the toughest and best decisions in my entire life.  I still feel like the blindfold is covering my eyes, but I have had some peeks out of it, and I like what I see.