I’ve been bamboozled!

Okay so yesterday was supposed to be the best day of my life! I was supposed to officially be done with the Army!!! Boy was I wrong! Technically that was my last muster formation (for those of you who may not know what I am talking about a muster formation is the military’s way of keeping track of their Soldiers after they get out until they complete their 8 year obligation. It’s main responsibility is to check for Solider readiness ) but unbeknown to me Uncle Sam has decided to count my delayed entry time from 2003 therefore I am not officially done until November of this year! What a blow to my celebratory dance and delight I had planned… but I know that God is good and His promises are yes and amen. He has been with me thus far and He will continue to be with me until all of my time in the military is served in full! So even though I have seemingly been bamboozled my God is in control of EVERYTHING and He knows exactly what I need and I will not worry about anything because it’s all up to Him and what He wants for my life.

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What I learned at the church planters conference

I went to the velocity church planters conference sponsored by churchplanters.com. This was the first church planters conference that I have ever attended. I learned many different things. Such as a group of women will in fact wait on a group of men often not just on occasion. And you should always have the address of where you are going and a working GPS system so you can leave the above mentioned group of men when necessary. I also found out that no matter how old they get mischievous people will always be mischievous (or bay bay kids as I like to call them).

But seriously I was reminded of and learned a lot of valuable information.  The first thing that I learned was that when you are dealing with the fruit of the Spirit you cannot pick and choose which piece of the Spirit you will display; its either all or nothing. I also learned that you can measure your Spiritual maturity by your weakest trait.   I then learned that our primary calling is to belong to God and our secondary calling is to determine what we do for God. It’s not all about serving God it’s all about knowing God. We were left with the question: When was the last time the gospel brought you to tears? Going into one of the breakout sessions I learned that we as spouses  have to draw a line between ministry and our marriage. I was also reminded that  God cares more about our motivations and our character than our actions and service. I then had the honor of hearing from Blake Griffin’s home pastor Scott Williams and he talked about church diversity. The greatest thing that I took from him was that church diversity is not just about the color of skin it’s about the wages of sin. He also talked about becoming a “do the right thing” leader. The next speaker then spoke on taking the gospel to the nations. He pretty much said that the 2.6 billion people who have not been exposed to the gospel are not statistics they are all people whom Jesus died for.  He also said that our ministries should be for those that can’t pay us back. It’s the Cross not the crown that we should be seeking here on earth.

I also learned that when planting a church you should plan with the end in mind, think about the big picture.  Alan Hirsch said that we should focus on planting movements instead of planting churches  and he also said don’t plant churches plant the gospel which I thought was really thought-provoking. Then we heard from a fellow Nashvillian Pete Wilson who said “leverage your whiteness” which I thought was hilarious! He was talking about how when you go to a foreign country use what you have to your advantage to get people to hear what you have to say, in his case  he was in India and he had to leverage his whiteness. But seriously he simply said that the Cross is not offensive he said that what’s offensive is the fact that people who claim to follow Christ don’t look like the man who was hung on the Cross.

The second day came and went and I took away a hand full of things. I learned about systems and what the” funnel of doom” looks like in a church organization. It pretty much talked about how sermons turn into promotions which turn into the big event which turns into teaching which turns into action however on the way down, the funnel only allows a few people to actually get plugged in. The speaker also talked about how teaching shifts thinking not behavior. David Putman’s message was simple and quick, he went over the things he would do over as a church planter  if he could. Some of those points where as follows: Focus on His church not my church, Focus on Christ’s mission not my mission and to Focus on the least of these not the most of those. He ended by saying When will Jesus ever be enough?

Then the pastor of Mountain Lake Church himself Mr. Shawn Lovejoy told us about his testimony which really touched me and made me think and made me want to remember his words forever. He pretty much told us that in the beginning of the church plant he was guilty of not loving people and that he forgot the Great Commandment. But then he said that as long as we know the Great Commandment found in Matthew 22:37-40 that says: You must love the Lord your God with all your hear, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments (NLT) then that is as deep as we need to go because if we can’t get those two right then we don’t need to try to do anything else. He also went on to say We have to stop pursing the Great Commission at the cost of the Great Commandment which opened up my eyes further.  Then he brought up how in Revelation 2:4-5 the Lord said ” But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first. If you don’t repent, I will come and remove your lampstand from its place among the churches (NLT). He mentioned that maybe churches are shutting down not because satan is attaching them but because God is shutting them down because they aren’t acknowledging their first love anymore. When he said that it just floored me. Not that I have witnessed this first hand but it just made so much sense and impacted me and made me want to always remain aware to love people no matter what. He also said to make love the #1 goal because it could impact the next generation more than we know. I think I remembered the most from him speaking to us and I will definitely be looking over my notes more so in the future. Then Larry Osbourne came up and said this: You have nothing to prove and no one to impress. And that was all I needed to know. It is all that anyone needs to know. The last person I heard told us about team building and the first point he made was that we needed to remember that it’s not about us. Which I just wrote about recently so at least I am on the right track.

Although this was the first conference I have been to and have nothing to gauge it from I thought It was a very good and informational conference. I look forward to many more of these events. Even though some of these ideas reminded of things I’ve learned  I also learned a few new things that will definitely be useful in the future. I would definitely recommend going to a conference like this if at all possible in the future.

Pastors are people too

So I am laying in my bed after a longer day than usual more exhausted than I’ve been in a really long time but I can’t get this idea out of my head. Pastors are people too!
I am currently in Atlanta for a church planters conference and some of my fellow road trippers are pastors. While riding in the car with a group of them I couldn’t help but notice the conversation they were having; it was about super heroes and which one would be the best fight to watch. They had it down to some sort of science and it was actually really interesting to hear. Then at dinner we had normal conversations with a few jokes thrown in there for good measure I have been dubbed pookey for this trip by one of my fearless leaders and even though that has never been a nick name of mine I’ll gladly answer to the name for the time being.
Although I’ve seen the “regular” side of my pastors before I thought you all should know that yes our pastors are in fact people too! Yes they put their pants on the same way (although I haven’t seen this first hand it’s a pretty safe assumption) and they have their favorite road trip music. They also have to utilize the facilities during inopportune times. They stop for snacks and drink coffee at midnight. They can’t help but attack the complementary cookies located at the front desk and yes sometimes they are even loud and proud.
They love Jesus just like we do and they struggle just like we do, they pray just like we do and they are triumphant just like we are when God shows up just in time! They are God’s chosen people just like we are and they need to be encouraged just like we need encouragement. So next time when you think that our pastors are unapproachable just remember that they are just like you. And whatever you need they probably need it too.

It’s Not All About Me

God has been telling me this simple phrase for some time now in a couple of different ways but only recently (like today) did it finally click. For the last couple of months I have been struggling with trying to find my identity in the things that I did. I thought that the things that I did made me important and without the acknowledgement I was nothing. But the Lord has been telling me that He loves me NO MATTER WHAT! He’s been telling me that it doesn’t matter what I do it will never truly be enough so just accept His love for what it is. He’s been telling me that I haven’t found peace with anything because that’s not the identity He has for me.  I am not just the Purity Education Director; in fact he could care less about my title and I’m not just the violin player He could care less if people hear me He only cares about my heart.

Today was the day that I finally got it. I learned that just because these things are not my identity He will still allow me to succeed in these things as long as my heart is pure and today that happened. At work we had a wellness expo and me and my boss went and I was in charge of doing something interactive which actually turned out really well. And for the first time in a long time I felt good about myself. Like I actually did something right and for the right reasons. I didn’t prepare for the day expecting praise or honor I just wanted a successful game that would get people thinking and that’s exactly what happened.

Then tonight for the first time ever I really worshiped the Lord with my violin playing. I say for the first time because although I have been truly worshiping the Lord every time I’ve played, this is the first time that I felt the freedom to just play and if I messed up oh well it didn’t matter because I was playing for the Lord. I can honestly say that for the first time I ad-libbed and it was so much fun and it was so pure and truly an act of worship and all I had to do was remember that it wasn’t about me but it was about and for the Lord. I knew it all the time but my mind wouldn’t let me play what wasn’t there but when I surrendered to the Lord and His Holy Spirit He gave me the notes to play. I could hear again and that made me play with confidence I rarely have. Go figure. I forgot about me and gained confidence. The Lord works in mysterious ways but I love it!

Happy Anniversary to Me

man and wife

Me and William on our wedding day

Today is my second year wedding anniversary! And it has been pretty amazing. This year we did something different. We had a couple of mini date extravaganzas. Really they weren’t very big but the word extravaganzas just adds a certain something to it.

Starting on Friday we went to the Olive Garden and just spent some quality time together. Saturday morning we went to our favorite donut shop and then to the Greenway Trails and walked a bit. we followed that up with a trip to see a friend in the hospital and some nice quality time with one of our pastors and his family. On Sunday after church we went down to Nashville with some friends and ate at Monell’s which was pretty amazing. And today we woke up late, lounged around the house a bit then we went to the mall where my husband let me pick out a piece from Jane Seymour’s open heart collection (which I have had my eyes on since before we got together), afterwards we went and played miniature golf (unofficial records show I won) and after that we went to our favorite restaurant Demos’. Once we were done with dinner we decided to go and pick up a Wii game for some fun quality time together and then we went to Dairy Queen because that’s where we went after we were married.

a couple

Us at the Greenway Trails

This anniversary was unlike any other we’ve had before. I know you might be thinking well of course it is it’s only your second wedding anniversary but what you don’t know about William and I is that we have celebrated every special occasion we’ve shared together as an anniversary to include the day we started dating January 13,2008 the day he proposed October 24, 2008 and the day we were married February 14, 2009. So we at least celebrate every 13th and 14th day of every month in some special way… anyway I was saying all this to say that this day has been different. I didn’t get a new outfit like usual, nor did we dress up, we included some people and we ended each night at home having fun doing every day things… and I wouldn’t have wanted to spend it any other way. For whatever reason our priorities are changing and we are realizing that all we need is each other! Nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter what we do as long as we do it together, and I kind of like it that way.  Although we have realized that our favorite moments of being married have been the road trips so we might be doing a bit more of those soon!

Love Note in the snow

Isn't my husband pretty amazing!

God has been so good to us and I know that each year is truly going to be better than the last. Simply because I have an amazing husband who loves Jesus more than he loves me, who is sensitive, who dotes on me, who is caring and who tries his best to understand me and make me happy all because Jesus loves me in such a way that He only wants the best for me. Praise be to God forever and ever and ever AMEN!

 

Memories: The journeys they take me on

I think it’s so amazing how much something can spark a memory and take you back in time in a matter of seconds. That has happened to me all day today. It first started this morning during worship. I haven’t played my violin in about a month and I know that doesn’t seem like a super long time but it really is. Anyway this morning at church they played familiar songs and I could see the notes and how I would be playing them if I was up there, and it just allowed me to remember how much I do enjoy playing unto the Lord.

Later in the day after having the most wonderful lunch with my husband and a few great friends we attempted to go to the capital building to watch the sunset.  Although me and my husband were too tired to make the trek the thought brought back found memories of a simple date night one day last year. We walked all around the capital looking at all the wonderful historic statues and plaques and then we found rest at the top of a pillar so we sat there and watched the world light up all around us. It was so magical and one of the best nights of my life. It was the stereotypical movie scene that “doesn’t happen in real life” executed with such sincerity that it wasn’t cheesy instead it was perfect. All this came back to me as we drove home.

When we got home our new neighbor was out so my husband decided he wanted to go say hi. I really didn’t want to as I was ready for a nap but reluctantly I went and we introduced ourselves. Our new neighbor told us what he did in the Military. He said he was in Field Artillery and I called him a Fister which is their nick-name of sorts and that’s when the memories started rushing in my head. I was instantly transferred back to 2005-2006 when I was deployed to Iraq and all my friends were Fisters. They were the coolest people ever! All of them were laid back, easy-going, great guys to hang out with. They always had a plan and they were the ones that were super mischievous and yet got away with it all… They made my deployment so much fun and I just remember the good times we had.

After we talked a little bit more with the neighbor we came in for our nap where we talked about our favorite part of lunch. I should tell you we went to Monell’s home-style cooking restaurant in Nashville and pretty much you eat what they serve at a table full of people you don’t know and you all just keep passing to the left and you can eat as much as you want… it was delicious. We had cucumber salad, coleslaw, biscuits and cornbread, corn pudding, green beans, mashed potatoes, breakfast casserole, pot roast, pulled pork, fried chicken,  and dessert! I highly recommend it and we will definitely be going back. Any way back to my memory. We were recapping our favorite parts of lunch and I ended up saying the pulled pork. My husband said, “everything was good even that corn pudding” and I said, “I know which means that their cornbread was probably really good which I didn’t get any of because you can’t eat everyone’s corn bread. I mean it’s not my mom’s or grandma’s cornbread and no one here makes it the same.”

And that started the memory… My mom use to make beans and cornbread. It was a big, cheap, and filling meal and man was it good. She use to start early in the morning by cleaning the beans, soaking them and then letting them sit on the stove for hours. She added ground beef to the pot and it smelled so good. We’d always have cornbread with it and she would make like 4 round pans of it because frankly we ate it like it was cake. I remember doing extra chores for the last piece of cornbread. It was that good and that memory made me miss my mom, and home. I mean home before I was married while I was growing up and under my mom’s roof. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. I had no idea that meal was our “end of the month wait til payday” meal, we just thought it was a treat that ended with really awesome leftovers. I hope my children will be that sweetly naive about times like that. Only time will tell.

After my nap I got up to go to the store. There was an orchestra playing on the radio and it reminded me of my dreams when I was younger of wanting to play the music for the movies. I just remember practicing every day on whatever piece we were working on and my mom’s  boyfriend coming in and telling me not to get discouraged that I was making progress and that when we all got together it would sound great. And I remember my mom being at most of my concerts just waiting until she could clap. It just reminded me that it doesn’t matter what I did or what I wanted to do all that matters is what I am doing now with the talent He has given me.

And even now as I type this very blog yet another memory as graced the front of my mind. My husband was printing something off and the desk was really shaking and my husband said, “well if the desk had four sturdy legs then we wouldn’t have that problem.” Ok so once upon a time I had a wonderful puppy which I had no time for and had no idea how to train so it ran a muck in my house. It chewed up everything that could be chewed including the desk that I am typing from, my dinning room table, and my bed room furniture. It got into a tub of petroleum jelly and pooped it out in one really weird but non-smelly mess. I loved that dog even though I had no idea what I was doing and my heart broke when I had to give him up. His name was Sprocket and he was a wire terrier mix. He was so cute and really rambunctious. He went to an elderly home in NY. I sure do miss him although he has opened my eyes to the real responsibilities of having and caring for a pet and I know it will be a very long time before we ever get another one.

I guess I just felt the urge to write about all these wonderful memories because they have allowed me to become the person that I am today. Whether I like it or not. Sometimes memories are not all happy or good and trust me it happens to me but that’s when I declare the words of the Lord over my life and I take every thought captive and hand them over to Christ. Although the not so good memories happen I have far better memories happen more often and it allows me to see two things. 1. where I’ve been (the person I use to be) and 2. the progress I’ve made.  During these great times of remembering I tend to see God’s hand on my life even before I really knew Him and that’s what makes memories such a great mystery given to us by Christ and it just renews my joy of knowing that His love IS real!

Thanks for reading and I hope that your memories take you on a similar if not better journey.

Blessings.

Early Morning Prayer

So I am not an early bird gets the worm kinda girl. In fact I’ve always said that if I could find a job where I could start working at 12 noon I’d be great because my mind is already up and actually functional by then. With that said I had an early morning prayer session this morning. I was awaken by none other than Jesus himself. At first I woke up thinking I was too hot; I have been known to run the fan even when its cold because I am simply too hot to sleep. But that wasn’t quite the reason why I was awaken. Instead of going back to sleep once I cooled off.  I found myself praying for people and their children. Those who have just had babies and those who are pregnant which turned into those who had lost their babies and those who are still trying. I found myself praying for all the people who I know who fit into each one of those categories. Needless to say I didn’t go right back to sleep. I couldn’t! Every time I thought I was done some one new would pop into my head who I hadn’t yet prayed for.

It’s no secret that I want babies galore and I found myself praying for my situation and I told God that even though I want babies now all I want to do is be in His will. Which is true. I still don’t know if this is going to be the year that we find out that our family has grown or not but I do know that those people and their babies that God woke me up to pray for are surely gonna be blessed. I’d like to think that during that moment of me praying for each child they were visited by an angel and their parents were comforted by the fact that God is who He says He is and He can do what He says He can do. Ultimately God is in control of everything and I know that He will give me the desires of my heart. But until that day I will continue to honor Him and get up when He calls me to pray, simply because when we pray for others they are touched by God. His love is real and what better way to show someone how real it is by praying for them.