the time no one showed up

This picture showed up on my facebook time hop recently: 

fullsizerender-4

Eight years ago on a Sunday morning, Jason was teaching 4 children in a middle school band room. This particular Sunday in August, right before the official launch of our church, is known as ‘the time no one showed up.’

We had selected a few Sundays during the summer to have preview services leading up to our launch date in September. We had been holding Sunday evening services at a different location and had been gathering with a few families during the week at our Bible Study. The June and July preview services went great – we had some guests visit as well as the families that we had already connected with over the past year we had been in Washington.

Our anticipation was building as we looked forward to the fall and the official launch of the Commons. We set up the church one Sunday morning in August of 2008. We unloaded a trailer, set up pipe and drape to turn a middle school hallway into a foyer and a library into a preschool and a gym/lunchroom into a sanctuary. We made coffee and we waited.

No one showed up.

We were discouraged, to say the least.

We had been ready. We had been obedient to do what the Lord had called us to do.

But no one showed up.

A month later, several families came to our launch. They came back and they brought their friends. In time, the Lord filled that middle school gym with people and the band room with elementary kids and we eventually outgrew the library because we had so many preschoolers.

I happened to be reading through the book of Joshua last week and this verse lept out at me:

Think back and you will know without a doubt that not one single good thing that the Eternal One, your God, promised you has been left undone. Not a single one. Joshua 23:14, The Voice Bible

I thought about that picture from eight years ago. And I was also reminded of when I couldn’t get pregnant with a second child and the Lord said to me, “You and Jason will raise spiritual children.” And then He called Jason to children’s ministry and me to preschool ministry.

And now, all these years later in Austin, Texas, alongside an amazing team of volunteers, we are able to lead and teach over a hundred children each Sunday morning.

fullsizerender-3

I still think about that Sunday – the one where no one showed up. I believe God was teaching us to trust Him more. He was stretching our faith and developing our character.

Maybe we were the only ones who were supposed to show up.

That Sunday prepared us for our move to Seattle where we would try to plant another church and spend two years waiting for someone to show up. Honestly, there were days we wondered if God Himself were still around. I learned that my obedience and my faith would not always immediately yield fruit, but they would dig roots.

I am still learning to wait on God.

But now, I can look back and know without a doubt that not one single good thing that the Eternal One, my God, promised me has been left undone. Not a single one.

I write this to remind myself and maybe anyone else that needs to hear – He is faithful. While some of the things the Lord has promised have come to fruition, others have not. There are still dreams in the making and visions yet to be revealed.

Let’s keep going, you and me. Don’t worry whether or not anyone else will show up.

You show up, and I’ll show up. Even on days when our feet seem heavy or the path before us is dark and we can only see enough light to take the next step. Let’s do the thing The Eternal One, our God, has called us to do.

Because one day, when we are on the other side of eternity, we will look back and see that not a single good thing He promised us will be left undone.

Not a single one.

img_8437

Advertisements

a lament.

We are more than bodies.

We are more than our skin color, nationality and religion.

More than where we were born and the place we belong.

More than the sums of our weight, height, shapes and age.

More than our socioeconomic class, the size of our house and the clothes we wear.

We are more than our jobs, where we work and how we get there.

More than all of our failures, achievements and awards.

More than our gender, our label, our sexual preferences.

We are more than bodies to be used, sold, discarded and disregarded.

 

We are souls.

 

The enemy has tricked us, lied to us and blinded us so that we only see the body.

Oh LORD, help us to see the soul.

Souls carry around scars from the past that minds forget.

They hold hope for the future when our hearts are fading and flesh is failing.

The soul is eternal, everlasting.

You can kill the body but you can not kill the soul.

It is continually reaching toward heaven while constrained in earthy vessels.

The soul needs care while it is here until our bodies are gone and it finds it’s way home.

Perhaps if our souls knit themselves together we could care for one another.

 

Who among us will care for souls?

 

FullSizeRender (32)

prevention and a parking lot

Not too long ago I was in the parking lot of my local grocery store when I saw an older gentleman pushing his empty grocery cart towards me and I heard the Lord whisper to me “put up his cart.”

In the following few seconds, I argued with the Lord because I felt that the man in the parking lot was perfectly capable of putting up his own cart and I questioned if I heard the Lord correctly in the first place, because it seemed like an odd request.

I smiled at the gentleman and said, “Hi” as we put our carts back in the cart return.

I walked back to my car and began to pull out of my parking spot. So did the parking lot man – and another grocery shopper. Right in front of my very eyes, they had a little parking lot fender bender.

I felt terrible. I called Jason and he assured me that the accident was not my fault. I knew that I hadn’t caused it but I felt that if I had obeyed the Lord I could have prevented it. If I had just put his cart up, he would have left sooner and not backed into the other car.

The Lord said to me, “That is what prevention is. You can’t see it on this side of heaven because it didn’t happen. You have to trust Me.”

If I’m being honest with you, I’ve struggled with trusting Him and I’ve come up with numerous reasons and excuses for not promoting my book: I don’t have time, I can’t afford to hire a publicist, I’m pretty sure that no one wants to talk about childhood sexual abuse, I don’t want to promote myself, just to name a few. I realized that the enemy has been whispering these lies to me and I have been believing him.

I’m finally calling his bluff.

I’m making time. I’m investing in myself, I’m talking about abuse, and I’m overcoming the fear of promoting my book and telling others what the Lord has done in my life.

Because you can’t measure prevention. You can’t see it on this side of heaven.

I’m praying for faith to trust Him more as I hear Him tell me which way to go. And I’m trying not to argue with Him like I did that day in the parking lot.

 

a little slice of heaven

 

FullSizeRender (23)
Amy and I have been friends for almost twenty years! We first met at Texas A&M (she is Jason’s cousin!) and now live just a few miles apart!

Last month my friend, Amy, and I went to a live taping of the Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey!

 

Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey is one of my favorite podcasts because each week Jamie interviews inspiring women who are doing amazing things. Jamie is not only a podcaster, she is a mom (she and her husband, Aaron have 4 kids), adoption advocate (three of her four kiddos are adopted!), pastor’s wife (Aaron is on staff at The Austin Stone), speaker, writer and soon-to-be author (Jamie recently signed with a literary agency and is writing her first book!).

IMG_5235
Amy, Jamie & me. Jamie’s sweet daughter, Story, took our picture!

 

I think all of her listeners feel the same way I do – like you know her  and are just one of her girlfriends. It was so fun to finally meet her in person!

 

She walked right up and introduced herself as soon as we got there! We hung out on her gorgeous property and met lots of her other listeners and friends.

 

 

IMG_5251 - Edited
just hanging out with Jen Hatmaker. #nbd

Jamie’s good friend, Jen Hatmaker, was there hanging out on the back deck hugging and taking pictures with everyone!

 

We met ladies from all over Texas and I sat right next to a sweet pastor/church planter’s wife from western Washington! We bonded over our love for the Pacific Northwest and swapped church planting stories. I connected with her on social media so I can keep in touch – you never know when you are going to make a new friend!

 

We all gathered around the beautifully decorated tables as Rachel Hollis (author, lifestyle blogger and founder of The Chic Site), Jessica Honegger (entrepreneur and founder of Noonday Collection, one of Tribeza Magazine’s 2015 people of the year), Jen Hatmaker (NY Times bestselling author, speaker, reality TV show star, trusted fashion advisor) and Jamie talked about everything from losing control of our bladders to room moms (all good things!) to what it means to be successful.

IMG_5250

You can listen to a clip of the Live Happy Hour Podcast here and download the entire audio from the Live taping for $1.00 here. I pre-ordered it myself so I can relive it all over again!

After the live taping, we enjoyed the most delicious tacos ever in the history of tacos. (I only wish that Guinness World Records could have been there to make this officially official). Jamie’s husband, Aaron, has mastered the art of the pork taco. He cooked the pork himself and topped it with things like mint and pumpkin seeds – I might be making these ingredients up but that is what happens when you are not a master in the culinary arts and only familiar with non-fancy taco ingredients. Also I was too busy shoving the tacos in my mouth to ask questions! Jamie’s friend, Tara Royer Steele was also there serving up slices of her world famous pie from Royer’s Pie Haven. (They are world-famous, aren’t they? WELL THEY SHOULD BE! Their pies are amazing!!!)

FullSizeRender (24)

As the evening came to a close, we went home with a bundle of goodies: A super cute koozie from Jamie with her new Happy Hour logo, books! (7 by Jen Hatmaker, Party Girl by Rachel Hollis, and Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler), a beautiful necklace from Noonday, a journal by May Designs, delicious coffee from Two Sparrows Roasting Co., samples from Beautycounter, gorgeous prints from Paint and Prose and Maker + Ink, paper from PaperWorks and coupons for fun stuff like Prep Dish and Milk & Honey Tees.

IMG_5249
The entire evening was incredible – a little slice of heaven: enjoying the presence of God and all of his beloved, spending time with old friends and making new ones, sharing stories of where you are from and what God did while you were there. I think that is a little bit of what heaven is going to be like. And if we’re lucky, maybe Aaron can cook us all some more pork tacos while we’re there.  

more #happyhourwithjamieivey :

Listen to a clip of the live taping

$1.00 Download of the Happy Hour Live

Jamie’s blog and Happy Hour Live Recap 

 

the one where I’m like Pharaoh

I found myself reading through Exodus recently and got excited about Moses leading the Israelites out of bondage. I love that story! I always want to identify with Moses. I want to be the guide showing people the way to freedom! I prayed and asked the Lord to show me who was in bondage saying “Here I am Lord, send me.”

The LORD said to me, “Well, that’s nice, but you are like Pharaoh.”

And I was like, “whaaaaattt?”

“You are like Pharaoh.” He didn’t hesitate. No, He was totally calling me out.

He said, “I have been asking you to let go of perfectionism but you keep refusing.”

It was true.

You’d think that I would have repented from my sin and turned from my wicked ways after this conversation, but I did not. I told the LORD that I would think about it. That is a classic Pharaoh move right there.

Brene Brown says, “When perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun.” I thought perfectionism might let go of the wheel when I sent shame packing but she has been driving for too long. And the thing is, perfectionism is actually a pretty good driver – she always knows where she is going and never has to ask for directions.

What finally got my attention was the study notes in my Bible. I am reading The Voice Bible right now and in the notes for Exodus 11 it says: Perhaps the best way to look at the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh is a contest to see who truly is God. In Egypt Pharaoh is considered a god.

That was when I realized I wanted to be the god of my own life. My perfectionism was me and my bar-set-so-high standards for myself and my home and my writing and my friendships and my job and my ministry and if I didn’t meet them all then they won’t be good enough. And then I realized – the root of it all is the fear that I am not enough.

Jesus, take the wheel.

He said to me – and if you are struggling with perfectionism or you are struggling with whether or not you are enough, then He says this to you as well, “That is a lie. You are fearfully and wonderfully made. You are the apple of my eye. You are enough. Perfection comes to steal from your soul. I can see how exhausting it is for you. It is hindering you from fulfilling your calling. You think it is getting you somewhere but it is going in the wrong direction –

Perfection is holding you back.

Perfection is exhausting you.

Perfection is killing your soul.”

 

I am enough – just because Jesus says so.

You are enough – because you are a child of God.

Perfection doesn’t want me to post this. She says it isn’t good enough. She says I know better than to post a blog without a picture. She says I have to say something witty and memorable at the end to wrap it up nicely.

But I’m trying not to listen to her.

 

diy gold leaf Easter eggs

Over the past week I have been trying to be more intentional about resting and taking care of my soul. I have taken walks, baked (and eaten!) chocolate chip cookies. I have loved spending time with friends and shopping with Faith at Nordstrom Rack.

IMG_5315
Faith walking down the shoe aisle, “I could do this all day!” That’s my girl!

I have been enjoying the sunshine, reading Steadfast Love by Lauren Chandler and the April edition of Glamour Magazine.IMG_5281

I’ve done a little bit of writing. And a little bit of decorating – which led to a little bit of crafting.

I unpacked my few Easter decorations and found a golden egg my friend Kate had given to Faith one day while we were visiting her store, Guesthouse, in Seattle. After Faith took her egg and most of my bunnies to decorate her room, I was left with one bunny and some candle holders. I decided I needed some of my own golden eggs to complete my little centerpiece.

I set out to Hobby Lobby and got this Set of 12 Paper Mache Eggs for $4.79.

FullSizeRender (20)

I already had the Speedball Mona Lisa Gold Leaf Kit on hand from another project.

FullSizeRender (21)

IMG_5246

Just follow the directions on the gold leaf kit and voila. Golden Easter eggs.

IMG_5247

I set them around some of my glassybaby candle holders and an Easter bunny that I have had for like ever.

IMG_5390

IMG_5394

I had a few left over and put them in this vintage planter.

FullSizeRender (22)

Have you been up to anything crafty lately?

What are some things you enjoy doing to rest and take care of your soul?

the American Girl Doll stage of life

Yesterday morning Faith talked Jason into making Lunchables and Capri Sun drinks for her American Girl Doll, Stephanie. That’s right – her American Girl Doll needs Lunchables. Listen, these dolls are high maintenance. First we had to start tucking Stephanie in at night and now we are having to feed her.

FullSizeRender (16)
Stephanie + #roadtrip

I don’t know what to tell you. This is the stage of life we are in right now – the American Girl Doll stage.

Anyway – if you are also in the American Girl Doll stage or just like making tiny food out of chick-fil-a sauce packets, this is for you!

You Tube video on how to make American Girl Doll Lunchables & Capri Sun

Instructions* can be found on this crafty cute website: www.americangirlideas.com
IMG_5324IMG_5326

*instead of craft foam, we used colored paper that we had on-hand.

waiting on God

After 15 months of praying for a child and trying to become pregnant, the Lord said to me on May 27, 2002, “You are sterile and childless, but you are going to conceive and have a son.” (Judges 13:3)

And He kept His Word.

FullSizeRender (13)
I named him Samuel because I asked the Lord for him (1 Samuel 1:20).

On March 2, 2003, Samuel David Cole was born.

And now he is thirteen.

FullSizeRender (15)
EEEEKKKK!

I was looking back through a prayer journal and I found this written on October 12, 2003:

Sam is the most precious gift. He is absolutely adorable, so handsome! He is so curious and smart. Already climbing up our stairs!

Clearly, I was smitten. Right underneath it I wrote:

The north campus (FBCC at American Indoor) – God has blessed our church. Our plans to build are on hold but we are growing. It is so exciting. . . .

The “soccer church” as we liked to call it, was the north campus of our church First Baptist Church Carrollton. We met at an indoor soccer field for a year and then those of us that gathered there went back to the main campus because our plans to build our own church building were on hold. The neat thing about finding this journal entry yesterday is that the FBCC north campus – now called the Church at The Fields – is opening in two weeks. The plans were on hold in 2003 and now they not only have their own building, but a sports complex that serves the community.

I’m in awe of God and His perfect timing.

His Word does not return void. When He says He is going to do something He does it. Lately He has been teaching me to wait on Him. He is mostly teaching me this because I was not doing it. I have to admit, it is hard to wait on God when I can order anything I need from Amazon and have it in two days.

Just last week I ordered a tall flat white from the produce section of the HEB and picked it up at Starbucks a few minutes later. I didn’t even have to stand in line – my drink was sitting on the counter when I walked in.

But sometimes God asks us to wait. And there’s not an app for that.

I am reminded of all those who went before us in Hebrews 11.

These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised, since God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect. (Hebrews 11:39-40)

We will not take hold of all of His promises here on this earth. Yet, He keeps His Word. We will see it fully when we enter into eternity. There we will see how He wove the thread of our lives together into a beautiful tapestry.

I know that does not make the waiting easier – maybe that is where the trusting comes in. I felt the Lord telling me I didn’t wait on Him because I didn’t trust Him. It’s true. Jason was losing his job and I didn’t trust the Lord to provide for our family. He told me to wait but I ran ahead. Ironically, my running didn’t get me anywhere – if anything, it slowed me down.

Jason got a job. I got exhausted.

I’m still learning to trust God and wait on Him. I’m trying to remember His promises and hold onto them even if it doesn’t seem like they are going to come into fruition in this lifetime.

How do you wait on God? Leave your comment below! I would also love to know – is there something specific you are waiting on?

FullSizeRender (14)
On May 11, 2003 we dedicated Sam to the Lord at that indoor soccer field. “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.” 1 Samuel 1:27-28

 

the one talent

2016 is really here and I’m not quite sure I was ready. My son, Sam, just informed me that he is half way done with middle school. Gaaaahhhh! And Faith keeps reminding us that she is going to first grade THIS YEAR (like, as in August). Why are my kids getting older and also why do they keep telling me about it!?! They were JUST BABIES!!

IMG_2441
See – babies!!
IMG_2944
now here they are practically going off to college. or first grade, whatever.

As the new year approached, I couldn’t help but consider what my goals would be for 2016. I was thinking maybe 2016 could be the year that I make my bed. I never ever make my bed so this would be a huge accomplishment!

One of my sweet preschoolers from First Foundations gave me a cute Starbucks chalkboard mug and I was already making plans to write my goals or maybe some sort of motivational quote on there so that I would see it every morning when I drank my coffee. That way I could remember to make my bed.

But then on December 29th I accidentally read Book Launch Blue Print by Tim Grahl. This quote jumped off the page “…launch your book, change the world, then keep writing.”

Great. 2015 was “tell your story” and now 2016 is “launch your book.” I was really hoping for something a little less put-yourself-out-there-to-face-rejection.

Jesus tells a story in Matthew 25 of a master who left his servants in charge of his estate while he was away. This parable keeps speaking to me as I go through the book writing, publishing and now marketing process. Jesus has left us in charge until He returns. He is saying to each of us, His followers, “take care of this world, keep making it a better place – until I come back.” He gave me this one talent – this book – and like the servant in the parable with one talent, I want to bury it in the sand because I am terrified.

Matthew 25: 31 – 34 says, When the Son of Man comes in all His majesty accompanied by throngs of heavenly messengers, His throne will be wondrous. All the nations will assemble before Him, and He will judge them, distinguishing them from one another as a shepherd isolates the sheep from the goats. He will put some, the sheep, at His right hand and some, the goats, at His left. Then the King will say to those to His right, “Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation.” (The Voice Bible)

He has given all of us “talents” while we are here and put us in charge of taking care of His estate until He returns. He has given us talents so we can love our neighbors, take care of orphans and widows and feed the poor – just to name a few.

What if you took your ‘talent’ – your giftings or things you are naturally talented at, your money, your job, your education, your influence, your story, your ministry, any or all of the things the Lord has blessed you with – and use them to make the world a better place until He comes back?

It doesn’t have to be “big”. I work as a teacher’s aide at a preschool Monday thru Friday so most days I use my talents to love children, prepare their craft and help them learn through art. I love it because God has given me a love for art and a love for children. Some days displaying patience when fifteen three-year-olds need to go to the bathroom at the same time or teaching a four-year-old how to use watercolors doesn’t seem “big” – but it is.

The enemy wants us to believe that the “little” things don’t matter and that if we aren’t displaying our gifts or ‘talents’ in front of a large crowd then it is pointless. But that is a lie. Often, the people doing the most important work are the ones we can not see.

So don’t compare your talent to anyone else. And don’t bury it in the sand. Take it and use it!

We may see a portion of the return of our investment here on earth but one day we will see fully. And on that day He says to us, “Come, beloved, and take your inheritance.”

FullSizeRender (8)
launch your book, change the world, then keep writing. -tim grahl

I wrote the quote from Tim’s book on my chalkboard mug so I would see it every morning. That way I will remember not to bury what the Lord has given me but use it to change the world.

I still haven’t made my bed though.

FullSizeRender (9)
when your pets don’t support your goals.