Growing in the Dark.

God has created you with amazing treasures that he’s already instilled in you. Like the seed, it has all of the nutrients that God designed it with to grow and become this amazing tree or flower. In the darkness, hidden, when no one else can see what’s going on God will water it and give life to it and the seed breaks open and grows. However, there’s a bit of time before the outside world even sees it shoot up from the earth.

I don’t know what darkness you’re coming from, or still in the middle of. I know you may be desperately trying to find your way out. I’m sure you’re asking a lot of tough questions like;  Why would you let this happen to me, God?   What’s going to happen to me?  Will this ever stop?  Sweetheart, God doesn’t hate you and he isn’t beating on you because you’ve failed. You are caught in a huge battle going on and whether you realize it or not we’re a part of it, caught in the crossfire, and we are the precious ones being fought for.

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

2 Corinthians 10 “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”

Please listen to me. There are a great many things we don’t understand or aren’t seeing clearly right now. When we have full faith and believe God in all that he says we are, and all that he is, we start seeing life and what’s going on around us clearly. You are being seedgrowingpursued, whether you see it or not. You are loved more than you will ever comprehend, even though you are in the midst of great despair and darkness right now. You have great value and power given to you by God through Jesus Christ because of his death and resurrection. God wants to be close to you and shine his glory through your life. We get to hold on to his word because it will stand and stay true while everything else falls away. You get to hold on to victory but we have to fight for it to. We get to choose what we’re going to agree with. I know it’s so hard. Keep pushing through it. 

Baby, hold on. God isn’t done with you. He is mighty and great. He is holy and righteous. His love and jealousy for you burns so deep. Allow his living water to fill you. Ask the Holy Spirit to speak to you and fill you, to strengthen you and to equip you. You are going to grow. You are going to break through that earth and bloom so beautifully. It will happen. Stand on God’s word. Cry out to him in the midst of your great pain. He will come to your rescue and you will see mountains crumble under his truth and word.

Where’s the Adultier Adult?

I’ve joked a couple times this week that after 30-some years I finally feel like I’m #adulting well. Somewhere along the line in the last two years I feel as though I finally hit a good stride in who I am as myself; a wife, a mom, and how my giftings are lining up with my work and ministry. A very dear friend of ours says that the epitome of adulting is
wholetmeadultIdentity, Decision, and Ownership. So know who you are, make intentional decisions based on that identity and then take ownership of it all.  After reading a stack of books expanding entrepreneurship, business development, team building, leadership, spiritual
growth, and marriage… I’ve found that it all pretty much lines up with those three key ideas right there.

So how did I decide or find out who I was? That’s a lifetime achievement guys. It’s a process but I do believe there are basic fundamentals that we can build the initial foundation on first and then begin to see this beautiful thing emerge and build over our lifetime. How do I make the right decisions regarding business, work, marriage and relationships? And how in the world do I take full ownership of something (like a dream or vision) when I haven’t even figured out all of the pieces yet? Some days it seems like a big huge gray area and I’m just making my best guesses. That’s legitimate.

So I’m going to start with this. If you’re building a house you need a blue print and even more so you need to know the builder. God has created you for a purpose. First to love you and restore you back to himself. He’s going to take you on a marvelous journey to find him and in doing so find who you were always meant to be. He breathes new life into you and makes you come alive in a way you never knew possible. So in finding our identity we look to our heavenly father. We are God’s children; he calls us son, he calls us daughter.

1 John 3:1 “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”

Matthew 3:17 “and behold, a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.'”

God gives us the freewill to decide whether or not we believe or agree with what He has said about us. We get to decide what ‘truth’ we want to operate from. His Word (the Bible) ashsleepingwhilereadingor what the world tells us? Who do you want to be? What kind of impact and legacy do you want to leave your family, your community, the world? Ask yourself the tough questions, work that out, and commit to it. Fight for it and contend for it. Own it. Wake up every day and say Here I am Lord, choose me! I don’t know how today is going to go, but I’ve made the best preparations that I can and I trust that you will guide me and lead me in all your great love, grace, and wisdom.  In and through our lives he wants to display his love and glory to the world.

Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

2 Corinthians 5:20 “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

I don’t have all of the answers and I don’t feel fireproof every day, but I have never felt so at peace with where I’m at in life and who I am, as when I’m agreeing with what God says about me and running after him and the dreams he’s put inside of me. That pretty much sums up how my life has been so completely different these past two years and it all alotofchangesincestarted with me. My heart and head started lining up with what God said about me and his plans for me. I decided that I agreed with my identity in Christ even though my life and heart didn’t feel like it was matching up. I just decided I was all in and believed it because if I didn’t I had nothing else. Then I started making all of the crazy decisions we felt down in our hearts we were putting off because they seemed counter-intuitive to
everyone else. Things started falling into place. I forgave the folks I had been putting off forgiving.

So adulting isn’t so much as having it all perfect yet, or faking it well, but rather being okay with identifying parts of your life that need adjustments or growth and doing it instead of avoiding it. I choose to continue to push through the hard stuff. We get to either grow or escape remember? I choose to grow.

And you know what? The best part is that at the end of the day if I’m honest with the attempts I made and the room for growth I need, I gain the humility required to allow God to sort all the rest of it out. He’s big enough for your crazy train. He’s big enough, gracious enough, and wise enough to lead me. Are you brave enough to listen?

How Fun was That?

In two short years my life has changed upside down from where it was. I told a friend tonight; “If you would have told me two years ago that all of this was going to happen I would have told you, you were nuts. No flippin’ way possible.” To which he shot back; “I did tell you, and that’s what you told me!” I keep telling my husband that I just can’t believe we’re here, that things are happening the way they are. It’s just unreal.

We strived and worked so hard for such a long time, guys. We were extremely tired and discouraged. And it wasn’t for lack of trying. We really tried to get our finances in order and make good decisions. But man, the minute we started gaining ground something would happen and knock us back down. Each time we were more bruised than before and got up with less fight and less hope left in us.

Matthew 15:18 “But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person.”

Luke 6:45 “The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.”

Oh the things that we felt and would say! Things like; No matter how hard I try, it’s never going to happen. Stuff like this always happens to me. No one helps us. We’re going to be fighting this our whole lives, so what’s the point? The things that would proceed from our own mouths against ourselves, against our dreams. It was fear and a lack of identity that left us vulnerable and allowed the enemy to tear us apart.

“How fun was that first year?” I can laugh at the thought of that now but in all seriousness there was not a single thing that was funny about that first year. It was rough as God used conferenceash.jpghard and discouraging circumstances to do some intense molding and cleaning of our hearts.  Now, as I sit across tables from people in the same position I was just a short time ago, it’s hard to explain the reality and viewpoint shift that are so stark to me now, without making them feel as though they aren’t trying enough. There’s a very delicate balance that’s needed to express empathy and compassion but at the same time not stop there and spur them on to a greater understanding and way of handling money. And every single time the change has to start with them first in their heart and mind. This is all a trust exercise with God.

I am definitely not saying; You don’t trust God enough so he hasn’t blessed you yet and you’re not prosperous because of x, y, and z. What I am saying is that if you continue doing the same things that you’ve always done and it still gets you nowhere, then you need to make some adjustments. God has some very specific rules on stewardship and handing money. Trust him that what his word says is going to work. The problem is is that it’s not an overnight fix. It’s going to be hard and take some time. All that debt you’ve piled up is going to take some time to resolve. All of those crummy habits you’ve made are going to need to get broken. Maybe you hate your job and struggle to find your purpose.

So here’s some basic stuff that will get you on your way to finding peace and freedom with your money. Heads up! It’s nothing you haven’t heard before. But it’s hard and sacrificial and doing these things will bring you face to face with opportunities to grow, heal, and mature.

  1. Do a budget. Decide ahead of time how all of your income is going to get spent, given and saved each month. Then stick to it.
  2. Don’t spend money you don’t have, i.e. that means don’t purchase stuff on credit, or take out loans. Save up to buy that thing.
  3. The only way to impact your income is to either sell stuff, make more money, or reduce your spending. If you’ve reduced all of the spending you can and still aren’t making enough then you need to start figuring out how to bring in more income. Big life events are eventually going to happen and you can’t keep struggling along without getting an emergency fund built up or getting that debt paid off faster.
  4. Say no. If it’s not in your budget then don’t do it. Be adult enough to say no and keep to the safe boundaries of that budget. It’s not there to hurt you, it’s there to empower you and protect you. The people that truly care about you will understand and figure out ways to still hang out and spend time together without breaking the bank. Chances are, it’s going to be a relief to their budget too.
  5. Stop blaming other people and take ownership of your own decisions.
  6. It’s going to be rough but it’s going to get easier. You’re a lot tougher, smarter, and more equipped than you give yourself credit for.

Your future is on the line. These temporary wants and issues are just that; temporary. God’s got more than this waiting for you. Tremendous kingdom work is waiting for us, guys, and until we can prove greater competency and maturity in some of these areas we just won’t be equipped to handle the other amazing stuff waiting for us. In my life, as all of these heart issues got resolved, my financial health ended up being a natural byproduct. It’s worshiponthehillunreal. I feel more and more a sense of responsibility, duty and humility as I see how God has allowed me to step into all of this because this is what he’s been preparing me for. None of this is mine or yours. It’s all from God and I pray for a continued sense of integrity and sound compass. Your Father’s heart is for you to know him and be a conduit of his kingdom so that the whole world would be restored back to his heart. Let’s get all of this money stuff dealt with so that it becomes an incredible tool, not a crutch. Be brave. Get fighting for your freedom and let us walk out our inheritance.

PS. We paid off our car yesterday. Three years early. Boom baby. Lol.

Finding New Places.

One of my most favorite things to do is go exploring paths and parks. Not the big nature paths or hiking trails, but just those cool little spots around our city’s parks or creeks. It’s easy for me to access with my littles and we can take an hour and still  be able to scoot back home quick for nap time.

It gives me such a peace to feel and hear the wind blow between the trees and hear the leaves rustle together. It’s a weird experience to feel the longevity of creation, of God’s exploringbushparkmasterpiece, and to be reminded of how we’re so fast-paced these days. He has such detail and wisdom in all of the things he’s created and it’s all to be a reflection of his glory. It also has such power to slow me down and bring me back to when I was 6 or 9 and would spend afternoons climbing trees or making little people and villages out of sticks and moss in my neighbor’s backyard. Ever since I was little God has used these environments to make me feel close to him, wanted, sought after, and known. Does anyone else out there feel the same? It’s weird to explain.

Monday we followed a path at Bush Park in Fenton that we’ve never been down before. We’ve lived here for 8 years now and never found this spot. We walked over a little bridge kalena&merailroadtracksand into a clearing, then around to another picnic table by the creek. Then up and up until we were on the railroad tracks! I felt such an excitement and joy finding a new treasure of a place. Better yet I was exploring with my oldest and she’s cut from the same cloth as me. She’s such an adventurer and willing to go where we’ve never gone before! It’s just so wonderful to see her excitement and reactions. Such a gift.

And maybe finding new places I didn’t know existed before reminds me of so many revelations of God’s truths in my heart. They were true and there all along, but I finally experienced the greatness and knowledge of them in my heart and mind. So thank you Lord for your precious, incredible gift of creation. And amazing little ones I get to call mine and share it with.

Running to Haiti.

In August 2015 last year my pastor ran across the state raising money to feed orphans in Haiti. After he finished a good friend of ours felt moved to continue the movement and pick up where Pastor Jim left off. So Tim ran 10 miles every day for 10 days or something crazy like that. Tim finished his stint by posting a video to Facebook where he called out a couple of friends and challenged them to do something sacrificial of their own to raise money for meals and awareness for the orphans in Haiti.

I felt incredibly pulled. His video moved me to tears and I couldn’t let it go. I wanted to support the work being done and encourage those that were doing it. I couldn’t commit to 10 miles a day but I could do something. I could keep a commitment which was something that God was working on with me. So I committed to 3 miles a day for 10 days. runningforhaiti

It was exciting for the first couple of days and then the middle ones were a struggle to get up in the morning and keep my word. It was wonderful how every other day or so a friend would join me on my run and it was just wonderful how God used them during that time. I don’t know if my efforts had any impact on anyone or if it helped raise any additional money but my oldest daughter saw what I was doing and we had some really awesome conversations. She initiated a Lemonade Stand to raise money and I think she raised around $11. I matched it. It was really nothing but I did what I had the capacity to do at the time.

So the missions team went to Haiti, had an incredible time, and came back. Life went back to normal for me. I dropped off the map with running as I usually do when winter hits. Then a couple of months ago the church announced that they will be partnering with Convoy of Hope again and taking a team back to Haiti this October 2016. I have never been on a missions trip and while I’ve always thought about how cool it would be it just was never something I felt was my time to do yet. I figured I’d go someday when one of the girls got old enough and I’d tag along on theirs.

Something was different. Seeing the videos and hearing Pastor talk about the trip for this year something inside me told me that there’s something in Haiti that I need to go receive. With all of the crazy changes that have happened inside me and within my life this past year I see God using this somehow as a continuation of the process he’s been taking me through and also an equipping for great things to come. When contemplating putting in an application for the trip I felt God telling me, You need to decided whether or not you’re committed to going because if you put in an application, you’re going. This was a serious, intentional decision.

So I filled out the application, showed up to the first mandatory meeting, and just found out last week that I’m going with the team. We’re going with the entire purpose of loving on orphans. My heart is going to be flung wide open and I really have no idea what to expect or what I’m getting myself into. I don’t even care. There’s lot of meetings and preparations ahead between now and then. The leaders are incredible and I’m really looking forward to building bonds with them and the others in the team. I’m also trying to wrap my head around this even being real and imagining traveling to Haiti and being there. One step at a time.haitiorphanage.jpg

There’s some awesome fundraising going on. Folks are selling stuff, offering services, and there’s a Freedom Center Team fundraising page set up through Convoy of Hope. I am forever grateful for any support through donations, prayers or even encouraging notes! The total cost is $1,700 per person and I’ve already paid the $250 deposit with my application. I’ll be paying for this trip through piano lesson money, my business, and whatever other miscellaneous income comes my way. I’m also going to be doing a whole lot of running this summer and I had the idea of taking pledges per mile. I have to get my butt back into gear and my endurance back up anyhow to prepare for the hot sun and heat.

Thank you, thank you for all off the support. Please be praying for me. Pray for Haiti to be restored and healed, for these sweet lives to know how deeply they are loved. There’s some beautiful faces I’m going to go meet and God has known them and loved them since before the foundations of the world were put into place. He has a purpose for them and I’m praying that I walk with the Holy Spirit and do everything he’s planning for me to do when I go.

Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”

My Steady Compass.

My hubby and I have an incredible relationship. I am so beyond grateful for him and it wasn’t always that way. God has done tremendous things in us over these last 11 & 1/2 years and who I am today is a direct result of my being married to him. He has such a strength and steadiness in him and there have been many days where I’ve wondered (in my insecurities), how I even compliment him evenly. It’s like he does so much of the behind-the-scenes stuff that people don’t always see or understand how incredible his impact truly is.

This past Friday night our church had a Ladies Dinner and the surprise speaker ended up being 5 husbands that shared about how much they love and cherish their wives and the impact that they’ve had on them. These men were moved by great emotions as they spoke about the dedication, loyalty and love of their wives… I don’t know a lady in there that didn’t tear up listening to some of the testimonies.

My husband was the 5th man. Those of you that know me know that I am a Words of Affirmation gal. When I saw him walk out I just grinned and got ready to enjoy the ride! He tremendously dislikes public speaking and I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve seen my hubby break into tears or get choked up. I knew he was going to have a hard time and honestly I don’t know if I was even that surprised that he was up there. We’re just at this point that we thoroughly enjoy each other and showing it.

I was, however, very much interested in what he had to say. I leaned in and rested my head in my hands and got ready to really listen. It’s intriguing that I’ve spent time over the last coolnickfew weeks contemplating what my husband thinks of me. I’ve grown a lot over the past year and made great strides to accomplish some dreams and overcome darkness. So what does this man currently have to say about me to this room of 200 people? And there he was taking the mic.

In Mr. Chandler fashion he had an organized list to speak on. He talked about three things; love, encouragement, and strength. Pretty simple things that I would say about a lot of other people. Isn’t that funny? We think about ourselves and when we list our qualities we often write them off as nothing that extraordinary. But my husband is a pretty incredible man. He’s very wise, intentional, caring and thoughtful. When he says something he means it. When he does something he’s committed to it. So I pay attention when he speaks up and I care about what he thinks.

He affirmed things I knew about myself but instead of them seeming so normal he spoke about them as if they were great rare qualities that have shaped his heart and life. Sitting there being honored in front of so many friends I felt humbled to be loved by him. Gees, that’s my husband! Knowing all of my own faults, and all of the times we’ve messed this marriage thing up, God has continued to fill our home and guide us. We have been so blessed as we have learned to give up all the different parts of our hearts and lives and allow God to restore us and shape us. The friction of marriage creates an amazing dynamic where two individuals learn to experience and see God’s heart through serving each other and sacrificing for one other. It’s not a “give and take.” It’s a give and receive blessings as a natural byproduct of abiding by God’s word and will toward each other.

Ecclesiastes 4:10 “For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!”

Thank you babe for speaking life over me and believing in me. You did a lot of that last year too and kept a steady compass as I learned to trust God with my grief. You’ve kept the perspective clear and vision the same even as I’ve switched from feeling accomplished to feeling as though I’m failing week to week. You’ve encouraged and lead me as I’ve found the balance between the responsibilities at home that we have while making sure our kids are loved, trained, and poured into. God, thank you for how you’ve displayed your love and youngusword in action through our marriage. I see your word and what you speak over us and see that play out so often in my life through my relationship with my husband. I am forever grateful.

I’ll share our testimony another time. We took ourselves through the ringer for quite a few years while we learned to let go of the garbage and allow God to truly have authority in our hearts and home. A lot of tears and fights in those years. A lot of fear that we were going to fail and fall apart. That wasn’t God’s will for us and it’s not for you either. I’ve listed some things below that really equipped us and taught us how to have a truly abundant and amazing marriage. We prayed a lot too. Those deep, honest, surrendering prayers, asking God to restore and fix us instead of trying to do it on our own.

Love & Respect by Dr. Emerson Eggerich
Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage with Mark Gungor
The 5 Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman

I’ll leave you with the great verses on love that are often recited at weddings. God is contending for you and your marriage. He is capable of anything. So keep releasing your spouse into the hands of God and pray incredible victory over your marriage. Don’t relent. God isn’t.

1 Corinthians 13 – The Way of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith,so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogantor rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.

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Processing Mother’s Day

Perspective changes everything and how we process and experience life is very different based on the seasons we each go through. I have found myself extremely intrigued by my experience of loss and grief now and how my perspective on life seems more accurate and far more extensive than it did before. I look at older generations that have lived 70, 80 years and some still have such a depth of joy and life in them despite having seen many loved ones go or have gone through very difficult times.

Not that I wish all of us to go through suffering but I do believe it adds a depth of character and of life if we allow it to. There’s a rather interesting book called Irregular People written back in 1989 and it talks about how we as people have two options when we go through conflict; process through it or avoid it. Those that avoid it or escape through addictions for example stop maturing. Those that allow themselves to be shaped and molded and process through those hard experiences find growth.

1 Peter 4:12, “12 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.”

I spent so much time asking God, “But why do we need to experience this hard stuff? It’s not your will is it?” And yet here we all are with free will. One freely seeking to help his community heal and another freely destroying his family with abuse and neglect. It’s just nuts. Other times I’ve just been so confused by the hardships that came my way.

Now read John 17:6-26. It’s Jesus’ prayer for his disciplines and all of us that would come after and believe in him. He prays protection over us, maturity, that we would know him and know the Father but all connected to the fact that we would face trials, hard times and suffering. Jesus was the ultimate example of maturity and he wholeheartedly accepted suffering and trials.

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The other week three families I know in our surrounding communities lost someone they loved. Two of them were young adults and the news came out of nowhere; one on Mother’s Day itself. I pray comfort over those families as they begin to process the very different future they had intended, one day at a time. At the same time I find myself hesitant to wish my own mom an excited Happy Mother’s Day! as she experiences her 2nd Mother’s Day without her first baby boy. She texted me a lovely and wonderful note a couple days before and then didn’t respond to my text I sent her on Mother’s Day itself. I imagine they escaped to the lake house for the weekend and she turned off the mobile devices to get away from life for a little. She’s an amazing woman, still working through trust and love with God, like many the rest of us. She has an incredible story but not mine to share today.

I went to one of the viewings. For the friend that lost his brother. I just couldn’t not go. It’s hard typing this now without suppressing the urge to cry. I feel both at peace in my soul and yet an arresting capacity to feel. For the first time in months I wept after leaving. I sat in my car for a few minutes afterwards and just sobbed. The kind where you can’t breath in between bursts of 8thgradegradtears. I almost canceled the appointment I had after. And with both constant experiences of joy and sorrow happening around me I can’t believe the fullness I have to really feel life. Life shouldn’t be all emotions but they’re so much of what God equipped us with. Because I have been in such low places and have allowed God to heal, restore and work through me I haven’t hidden from trials. Maybe momentarily but not permanently. I have a higher level of emotional intelligence, a higher ability to connect and emote with people, and a much greater effectiveness in impacting the world around me. I want to continue to gain a wider and deeper understanding of God’s heart and character. That’s not going to come in this world without the ups and downs.

Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.”

Romans 8:34, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.”

And did you catch that? Your perfect Lord and Savior is contending for you right now. And by my watch he’s not giving up the fight for you or me, any time soon…