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UnScripted

Wide Shots

Our church is celebrating TEN YEARS in ministry this weekend. My super hard-working, creative husband Sean got this iconic shot of Time Warner Cable Arena filled to the brim on Easter Sunday 2010. So much happened that year it would be a blur if we didn’t take time to look back and reflect on God’s faithfulness.

Our first Love Week, Egg the City for Easter and the opening of Elevation Blakeney.  It was a personal time of stepping out in faith to take the gifts God cultivated in me in 22 years of TV News to say yes to a call to come on staff at Elevation Church.

It’s funny how we can’t see what God is doing when we are in the midst of it. It’s when we zoom out and take the wide view and we can see how we get to be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. When we FOCUS on God, his goodness, and all He has done for us, the struggles we’re facing seem to fade away into the background.

I love John 3:29-33 in the Message version. “That’s why my cup is running over. This is the assigned moment for him to move into the center, while I slip off to the sidelines. The One who comes from above is head and shoulders over other messengers from God. The earthborn is earthbound and speaks earth language; the heavenborn is in a league of his own. He sets out the evidence of what he saw and heard in heaven.. anyone who examines this evidence will come to stake his life on this: that God himself is the truth.”

I had no idea how God would grow and stretch and love our family through the work we would get to do together. Or how God would strengthen, encourage, teach, and change us through the messages we heard from our Pastors Steven and Holly Furtick. Or how friendships with our first eGroups leaders Chunks and Amy Corbett would teach us how to lead and serve with passion, excellence, simplicity, and grace. Looking back, I can’t believe God would love us so much to order our steps in such unexpected, beautiful ways. Our marriage and family are stronger because we said YES to God’s leading in our lives.

As I become less, he gives me so much more.

Happy #Superversary @ElevationChurch. We love you. #Elevat10n.

Thank you #FMFParty for the Five Minute Friday word prompt, FOCUS.

Run. Speak. Pray. Sit.

Sean and I are closing in on 20 years together and our marriage is stronger than ever.. today. Though if you asked me last week if we were “feeling” strong in our union I would have said, no, not particularly.

Sean and I were not set up for success. Both his parents and mine are divorced – and each of us has struggled through the loss of our own first marriages.

So we certainly are not quick to offer up marriage advice and certainly do not feel like experts. But while we were having a dinner date night last night we pushed ourselves to come up with four things that help us bring ourselves back to center in our marriage. Not an exhaustive list. Just the one we could agree on while we split an entree on a Friday night.

RUN TOGETHER – Sean and I have run a few marathons together, and enjoy training together. He wants to run a 50-miler in 2016 and so he’s been running several days each week. I love running, too – and now that a spider bite on the bottom of my foot is healed up I’m back out on the trails as often as possible. Running together gives us time to talk, connect, and dream. And since one of his love languages is quality time, this time together is key to keeping us connected.

SPEAK KIND WORDS – The power of life and death is in our tongues. I’ve really had to learn to tame mine and use my words to build him up rather than constantly reminding him how I’d rather see things done this way or that way. And since he’s more of a pictures guy than a words guy – this one pushes and helps both of us. Words of affirmation are my top love language so when he can remember to say something nice to me it fills me up like nothing else.

PRAY TOGETHER – They say couples who pray together stay together. However, I can’t actually find any reliable statistics on this issue. I can say that when Sean and keep our eyes focused on God together in prayer regularly, we are far less likely to get caught up in our little issues and irritations. He leads prayer at night. I lead in the morning. And nobody gets mad if we skip a day of prayer together, we just try to do better next time.

SIT ON THE SAME SIDE OF THE BOOTH – This works for us. You may enjoy gazing into one another’s eyes and having long conversations about your day (do people really do that?) But if you see us out on a date we’ll be on the same side of the booth. His top love language is physical touch and if we are close enough to touch during dinner, it softens his heart and makes him more likely to try to answer all my questions about life and work and raising kids.

Five Minute Friday – YES

thebestyestitleIt is with great pleasure on this Labor Day Monday evening I take five minutes to write a bit about the word, YES.

I love this word. I’ve said YES to many great things in my life. And I want to keep doing it. But along the way I’ve had to look at making a decision to say YES not to everything, but to the things that will add focus and joy to my life, and not just add stuff.

My entire adult life I’ve struggled with an overwhelmed schedule and an underwhelmed soul. But I have a choice to say YES to the things that feed my soul, instead of starve it. I have a chance to say YES to this moment, rather than be worried about the dozens of things I should be doing that I’m not.

And I want to say YES more often to the requests of two beautiful little boys who won’t be little forever. My friend Lysa TerKeurst wrote a book all about YES. If you’ve not yet read it, I highly recommend it!

Praise, pray, or panic?

Psalm150I swing wildly between gratitude and frustration.

I know I’m supposed to be grateful. I know it’s good for me. I know God says in EVERYTHING we should praise him. In fact the word “PRAISE” appears more than 250 times in the bible. Psalm 150 is my favorite – here’s the bible.com list so you can choose yours.

But sometimes in that fraction of a second when the Holy Spirit gives me a chance to PRAISE OR PRAY I instead resort to PANIC. Don’t pretend like you don’t know what I mean. You do. You just don’t yet recognize it as panic. Neither did I. Until I got slapped in the face by this little bit of wisdom from Oswald Chambers the other day. He says, “The degree of panic activity in my life is equal to the degree of my lack of personal spiritual experience.”

What? First I was kind of offended. Then I was just a little angry. Then as I read it again and again I wondered, is this really me?

It IS me. I like to run around looking busy because then I don’t have to face up to what’s really wrong. I don’t have to make any plans to actually do something about it. Ouch. It hurts to say it. But I know God can only heal me to the extent at which I’ll admit I’m broken.

I’m super grateful for Pastor Steven Furtick’s message this weekend – “Making Friends with Frustration.” It’s online now – The fact that Elevation’s Sunday sermon is online by Monday is one of the things that makes Mondays so great, don’t you think?

Complex.

It was a simple question.
“What happened here?”
Though I knew specifically what she was talking about, I mindlessly went down so many other roads.
Like those nights when I was 10 and felt so small and helpless because there was yelling and arguing and things being thrown around upstairs.
Like that time my boss said, “No one cares about your opinion,” after I’d finished an interview with a woman who’d been the victim of sexual and racial discrimination.
Something about THIS moment of fear allowed a wave of old junk to rush in. Tell me if this happens to you sometimes, too.
So I recognize the old junk and I name it. Fear.
But there’s something else in this moment, too.
It’s Pride. I don’t want anyone to know I’m hurting.
I want to be the strong one, the helper, the one who has it all together.
THIS shatters THAT.
So I dig into God’s word to encourage a friend (because that’s what I do now to take a shot at the devil) and this time I encouraged SEVERAL friends because I know the TRUTH that I don’t have to let fear cripple me and I want others to know this freedom, too.
And I find this from Paul who was talking about a ‘thorn in his flesh’ that God would not take from him:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power will rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV)
And I answer the question. And the doctor tells me it could take two months to heal and I could be on crutches most of that time.
And I admit to him that I am afraid if it doesn’t heal properly I will never be able to run again.
And that running is my drug.
And he attempts some kind of empathy like I’m overreacting as he jokingly tells my son how many toes he’s had to cut off.
I wince at the foot doctor humor and tell him I know that God is with me but I’d like to keep all my toes if possible.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
Grace flowed in and I smiled.
Questions are simple.
Answers are more complex.
For more: I love what Holly Furtick preached about being a complex versus a complicated woman. It encouraged, challenged, and convicted me. The sermon was from our church’s Moodswingers series entitled “The Orchid and the Oak Tree.”

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