Reflections

January 02, 2012

Moving forward

Happy New Year!  Thanks for giving me a blog vacation. 

I love time off.  There is something about it though that makes you appreciate the regularities of life.  Today I am back to our routine and ready for it.  I am ready to face the year head on. 

I haven't always been a believer in setting New Years resolutions.  They seemed silly to me.  But after being married to a man who takes setting goals and attaining them very seriously, I am becoming more and more of a believer.  So what if I only accomplished 60% of my goals from last year.  I moved forward.  I made progress.  And I am proud of what I accomplished.  If you don't set any goals, you are guaranteed not to accomplish them.

2011 was amazing.
    It was a huge year for our church.  We celebrated our 5th anniversary.  Doubled in size.  Baptized 2000 people.  Opened 2 new campuses.  And really matured internally as a staff.   
    For our family is was incredible.  We added a 5th member to our family, yeah Abbey! We also moved my in-laws to Charlotte.  Oh, and my baby started kindergarten.
    Personally, I saw a side to myself that I didn't know was there, in a good way.  I grew up a lot.  In my relationship with God, my personal habits and relationships.  I did things I never would have been able to do 5 years ago.  I was not perfect, but God stretched me this year and then He came through and for that, I am a better person.

I am ready to leave 2011 behind.  Ready to move forward.  I have goals for my home, my kids, my personal life and habits and more.  I am not done setting my goals for 2012 (who says you have to be done by Jan1?) but I will finish them.  One things for sure, I am going to read more, I have set a goal to read 12 books this year.

I hope you will take some time to look back and look ahead.  Keep moving forward.  Keep letting God work on you.  And you can trust that the things God has in store for you this year, good and bad, are going to turn out for your good.

Psalm 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delights in his way.

December 15, 2011

Prepare Him room

This week I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at our Elevation Christmas worship experience.  One of the songs they sang was Joy to the World.  As we sang, the line, "Let every heart prepare Him room," really resonated with me.

Christmas can be such a busy time of year.  There are so many preparations to be made.  And I am ashamed to admit that there have been many Christmases where I prepared gifts, meals, parties and everything else under the sun except room for Jesus.

Preparing room for Jesus means I am maximizing moments with my children to teach them about Christmas.  It means stealing away a few moments each day to reflect and pray and read (or listen to) scripture.  It means taking seriously the work that we are preparing for at Elevation, and praying that God would soften the hearts of the people who are going to come and hear the gospel.

There are 10 or so days left until Christmas.  Will you join me in preparing room for Jesus?

December 13, 2011

Behind and Before

Psalm 139:5-6
You hem me in behind and before,
   and you lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
   too lofty for me to attain.

I like to listen to an audio Bible when I am getting dressed in the mornings.  I heard this verse the other morning and was really comforted by it. 

Did you know that He hems you in behind and before and His hand is upon you?  Then the Psalmist says, he can hardly believe it! 

What a comfort to know that as you go out today, you are hemmed in.  You are protected.  As you take each step, God's hand is upon you.  You are blessed and highly favored.

December 06, 2011

Are you happy with me?

I was telling someone the other day how much I felt like-no matter how I tried, I couldn't make everyone happy.  My friend responded by reminding me that, if making everyone happy is my starting point, I'll end up disappointed almost every time.

In my relationships, God calls me to be faithful with my inputs. The words I speak, the decisions I make, and even the expectations I establish.

However, I'm not ultimately responsible for relational outcomes. I can't control all the factors that play into whether another person is happy-much less happy with me-in any given season.

So, the more I make my first aim & measure of success: "did I please God with what I put into that relationship today?" I can leave the outcome in His hands.

December 01, 2011

One Word Answers

I have been reading through a manuscript of my husband's newest book, Greater (to be released September 2012).  It is really good.  I think it is even better than Sun Stand Still.  I cannot wait for it to come out.  I really think it is going to help a lot of people!

A few days ago I was reading a section where he was talking about how there are times when God simply gives us one word answers.

Go... to the land I will show you.
Stay... in your marriage, or in your job, or in your church
Fight... for a cause that you are burdened with
Forgive... even though they don't deserve it
Love... the person who is hard to love in your life
Stand... for what is right at your school

The problem is, a lot of times, we think God is not speaking to us when really, we just don't like his answer.  My kids do this to me.  Maybe they want a snack and it is too close to dinner time.  If they don't like my answer, they keep asking.  A common phrase you hear in my house is "I have already answered you."

God is not going to ask me to do some new, big initiative until I can obey the first thing he told me to do.  I am not sure what your one word answer is that God has been whispering to you.  I know what mine is and I am going to do what I know and let the rest fall into place.

November 29, 2011

Hope

 

hope/hōp/

Noun:
A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

Psalm 25:5  Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.

Psalm 33:18 But the eyes of the LORD are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,

Psalm 39:7 “But now, Lord, what do I look for? My hope is in you.

Psalm 52:9 For what you have done I will always praise you in the presence of your faithful people. And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.

Psalm 130:7 Israel, put your hope in the LORD, for with the LORD is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.

As I have been reading through Thankful Thirty (are you still with it?) I couldn't help but notice how often the Psalmist says his hope is in God.  The definition of hope is a feeling of expectation, so placing my hope in God means I am expecting Him to come through for me.  I know He is good.  I know He loves me.  Therefore my hope is in Him.

November 22, 2011

I'll give you something to pray about

I grew up in a house full of women.  My family consisted of me, my two sisters, my mom, my dad, and our dog Barkley (also a girl).  When asked what it was like to live in a house full of women, my dad would often reply, "It's always that time of the month." 

So needless to say, there were a lot of tears shed in my house, and my dad could only take so much crying.  I remember my dad getting frustrated more than one time when I started crying.  He looked at me and delivered the classic line, "And if you don't stop crying, I will give you something to cry about!"

Over the Summer and leading into the Fall, I had had a difficult time having genuine time with the Lord in prayer and Bible study.  I just wasn't feeling it, and I wasn't feeling a need or an urgency.  I took this to the Lord.  I told Him I really wanted to pray more, read more scripture, but I just couldn't get things going.  And about 2 months ago, in the middle of one of these pleas, I heard the Lord gently say, "do you want me to give you something to pray about?"  Eesh.  Maybe not. 

But he did.  The past 6 weeks have been full of many challenges-on a higher level than I've ever experienced.  I have felt at times over the past few weeks like my world was a 1000 piece puzzle that was starting to really take shape when someone came by and accidentally overturned the table. 

And I've had to sort a lot of pieces.  I've had to make level paths.  I have had people leave my life, and have had new people enter in my world.  I am also currently walking with my husband's family through a rough medical diagnosis for his dad.

You know what though, as difficult as the past several weeks have been, I have felt drawn to the Lord like never before.  I have felt my need for His presence and wisdom like never before.  I have listened to scripture and worship songs, spent time in prayer and the Word out of the deepest necessity to function.  And I know that the Lord is the only one who can help me get the puzzle together.  I have peace that He is working out something great in me and my family.

When God gives you something to cry about something to pray about, it isn't a sign that He's annoyed with you. It's a sign that He's drawing near to you.

Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,
   an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
   and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
   and the mountains quake with their surging.

November 16, 2011

A little thanks goes a long way

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

I woke up this morning feeling frustrated.  Just being honest.  But I refuse to let a little bit of fatigue make me focus on the few things that are not right when I have so much to be thankful for.  Give thanks in all circumstances.  Our family got some bad news about a sick loved one yesterday.  Today I m giving thanks.

I am thankful for my godly husband.

I am thankful for wonderful in-laws who love me like their own blood.

I am thankful for my parents who pray for me everyday and support my crazy life.

I am thankful for my boys who were both mad when it was their turn to stand inside the girl pilgrim a few weeks ago when we were at the pumpkin patch.

DSC_0179DSC_0181

I am thankful for my sweet baby girl who is crawling everywhere.

I am thankful for Elevation Church and that God allowed me to be a part of it.

I am thankful to live in a country where I have the freedom to worship however I choose.

And although this seems insignificant compared to the aforementioned things, I am thankful that I finally get o see Taylor Swift in concert tonight (we had tickets for a July concert that got rescheduled for tonight)  Whoo hoo!

I hope you will take a minute to say outloud a few things you are thankful for today.  It will really turn your day around.

November 11, 2011

Will you join me for Thankful Thirty?

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

Last night we had a get together for all of the female staff members and staff wives of Elevation.  We call it Ladies First because we lead the way at Elevation.  As ladies, we have such an influence over the heart of our church and it is so important that we are intentional in doing so.  We had such a great time, Lysa TerKeurst even came and spoke to us to wrap up the evening.

Earlier in the evening, Amy Corbett challenged every one to join us on a 30 day Bible reading plan through the books of Psalms and Proverbs. We're calling it the Thankful Thirty Reading Plan. It starts today, 11-11-11 and over the next 30 days I challenge you to take a few minutes each day to read through this plan and ask God to reveal himself to you that day.

Thankful ThirtySo are you in?  If so, click the picture to download a printable version.  Have a great weekend!

November 10, 2011

Sweat the small stuff

I get the saying, don't sweat the small stuff.   I know that you can't let small issues keep you from a big vision that God has given you.

But I think that there are times where you should sweat the small stuff.  A small rudder steers a humongous ship.  A few degrees change and the ship will completely miss its mark.

You should sweat the small stuff in your marriage.  Your reactions, your looks, your patience, your wording.

You should sweat the small stuff in your job.  Keep your desk clean, be on time.

You should sweat the small stuff in your finances.  Stick to your budget, track every purchase.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible (I have shared it often here), is Luke 16:10, "If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones."

Sometimes a tiny tweak can make an enormous difference.