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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Family {with} Church

Last week, I had the privilege of gathering with other "orange thinkers" and ministry leaders in the Pacific Northwest region at The Orange Tour stop in Everett, Washington where I was also joined by our lovely Preschool Team Leader as well. There is a certain buzz and excitement in the air when multitudes of ministry leaders gather in the same room who share a contagious passion to see children and families succeed in building a legacy of faith that will leave its mark on the world. You just can't help but be excited when there's an orange spandex being bouncing around and giving enthusiastic high-fives and thumbs-up to everyone in the vicinity... or when you begin to imagine the potential of the church (light of the world = yellow) combining efforts and influence with the home (love of the family = red) to have a greater impact together (yellow + red = orange) than either could have alone. 

As a parent of two children myself, I came to the understanding long ago about how much I needed the church to help equip me as a mom {and wife!} in the raising of our children and in the nurturing of our family. From the time my children were in the womb, I felt greatly responsible for their spiritual formation. And rightly so. Research has shown that children spend a whopping 3,000 hours a year with their parents. We, as parents have an incredible potential to influence our children. This is one of the reasons I firmly believe that if we want to build a legacy of faith in the Kingdom, we need to start in our own homes with our children. As the years go by, however, we sometimes tend to forget, neglect, or become completely overwhelmed, or intimidated by this crucial, God-given role in our child's spiritual formation. At times, we may even drift toward a 'drop-off,' 'please-fix-my-kid' mentality when we show up at church. The fact is, while we as parents realize our need for the church, the fact is, we actually need each other.

While research shows that kids spend roughly 3,000 hours a year with their family, it also shows that children only spend an average of 40 hours a year in church. As church leaders and as parents, we are the biggest influences in fueling an authentic faith in a child's spiritual life. Given this statistic, it is obvious that the church alone should not be expected {by parents} to carry the sole responsibility of a child's spiritual formation... even though they are still a critical influence in a child's life toward that end. It becomes very clear why a "drop-off" mentality of years gone by just hasn't worked in turning out kids that have an authentic faith that sticks. However, it is also clear, in light of this, how much we need to be extremely strategic as a church in making Sundays count and by finding additional ways we can partner with parents to leverage our influence in the heart and lives of a child every other day of the week. We need to work together.

"Orange is what you get when you combine two primary colors—red and yellow.
 If you paint only with red, you will get what only red can do. If you paint only with yellow, you will get what only yellow can do. But when you paint with red and yellow, you’ll get new possibilities, fresh solutions, vibrant outcomes.

We use the color orange to symbolize what it means to parent beyond your capacity. Orange parents understand that by tapping into a wider community, they have the potential to make a greater impact in the lives of their children." - from OrangeParents.org

This strategy of "thinking Orange" is one we've been integrating into our children's ministry at CBC North Sound and into our home for almost a year and, already, I have seen a noticeable positive impact on the many families {and kids!} who call our church, "home"- especially my own.

Last week, I was inspired, yet also challenged, by keynote speakers, founder and CEO of Orange, Reggie Joiner and Orange Leader, Adam Duckworth to do what it takes to help parents win. Not only to help parents win, but to make it easy for them to win and to help them celebrate even the littlest of wins. As both a parent myself, and a church leader who desires to help parents win, I am going to put myself and my family out there with how we are trying to nurture faith in our own hearts and in our own kids

Let me be the first to say, we are not perfect parents... nor do we have perfect kids. So... if you're looking for someone who's got it all figured out, you might want to hop on over to someone else's blog.

I'm just a parent who happens to also be a church leader with a whole lot of passion, who is trying {really} hard on this journey... because I believe imparting a legacy of faith is what we are called to do as one of our most worthwhile contributions to the Kingdom in this {brief} lifetime here on earth... and because I believe in a more faith-filled future for my children and those of this generation.

I plan to share some of my experiences with you, my readers... in hopes that you will take the time to celebrate {and share!} even the smallest wins... because, in doing so, we encourage ourselves as well as others, and because even the smallest wins add up to huge victories!  

Join me?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Coming Soon... A New Direction for Homegrown Faith

Over the past several months, I've been desiring to take Homegrown Faith in a different direction just as I feel like my life has taken on a more clearly defined direction. Earlier this year, I transitioned from my original staff position at my church as the Connections Director to the position of Director of Children's Ministries... and life's never been the same since.

I love what I do. 

In addition to cultivating an authentic faith in the lives of our own two kids, I now have the privilege of imparting and inspiring faith in the lives of other kids and families within our church. I get to partner with some pretty cool people {and fellow parents!}as we unite and rally behind a common goal:  

cultivating a faith that sticks in the hearts and lives of our kids that impacts the world with the love of Jesus.

So... coming {very} soon, I hope to deliver some fresh, new content... straight from the trenches of my own personal journey of faith. I am still learning what it means to walk this thing out day by day while also hoping that somehow God can use me to make a difference in the world... starting in my own home. And I hope and pray my words will somehow encourage and inspire you in your own faith journey to make a difference in the world around you... starting in your own home too.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Peace Within

"The fruit of righteousness will be peace; the effect of righteousness will be quietness and confidence forever."
{Isaiah 32:17}
There is a peaceful river that flows through a heart that has been wrapped in the righteousness of Christ that is completely indescribable. It's a quiet, strong confidence found in those who have chosen to enthrone the Prince of Peace in their hearts and minds and who have deliberately allowed His kingdom to reign over all the subjects within. Peace is found within those who have submitted to the rule of an Almighty and Sovereign God... found in those who are content to be where they are... who have the wisdom not to rush into a battle, to not occupy themselves with matters too great for them, and who have a sincere trust and confidence in their King.

It is possible to have great internal peace even in the midst of external turmoil. It is also possible to bring that peace into that external turmoil. However, you cannot contribute that which you do not have- you cannot bring peace into a world of chaos without first having it within you.

God desperately desires that we be a people marked by peace; not by strife or stressPeace is an outer disposition of an internal condition. It is an external fruit of an internal root.
What is your life marked by? What flows out of you is a direct result of what is already flowing in you... Do you have peace like a river? Joy like a fountain?

Today, choose to submit to the rule of a great and Sovereign Lord and King- to make Him Master. You can trust Him. Really, you can.

"Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgements, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God, that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen."
{Romans 11:33-36}
My house may be filled with the hardship, mess, and chaos of construction right now, but I know that if I want there to be peace within its walls, there must first be peace within my heart. The same is true for you no matter what confusion, chaos, hardship or pain you may be faced with right now.

 "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."
{Romans 15:13}
Today, may you choose to invite the Holy Spirit to saturate your heart and mind and fill you with more of Himself... that He might increase... and that you might decrease. Allow Him to lead you into the tranquil waters of His peace even while troubles may surround you. Soak up His Sovereignty and get lost in the constant overflow of His grace and mercy. Allow it to saturate the very heart of your being. Only then will you be able to experience the joy of having a fresh supply ready to flow through you into the lives of those around you! Only then will you be able to walk in power and face the world with an unswerving confidence that you have One who is in you who has overcome it!
"... in me {Jesus} you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
{John 16:33}

Thursday, February 9, 2012

In Search of Rhythm

I've got rhythm... or, at least, I used to. In the past, I have persevered through various living conditions and seasons of life to find that personal prescribed fashion of living a fulfilling life that best fits me and my family. It hasn't always been easy to find my own or my family's natural cycle of harmony- but for me it has always been something worth pursuing.

See, I've tasted the benefits of having a space and time to call my own each morning... a time uninterrupted to pursue the presence and plan of God for my day. I've reaped the blessings of establishing regular times of prayer, conversation, and devotion with my children and my husband. I know the peace that accompanies my days and my ways as I walk in step with that rhythm. And I know what I'm missing if I don't. This is why my search for rhythm has been so intense. This is why, for me, I am participating in the Hello Mornings challenge. I desperately need to find that rhythm again- for my sake, as well as my family's.

Over the past year, I worked really hard to develop strong personal care habits such as taking better care of my physical body through eating better and exercising regularly, as well as having a daily time of prayer, bible study, and planning. In creating these habits for myself, and even in beginning to cultivate them in my children as well, I have found such a positive change in my daily life and in the atmosphere of my home.

Lately, however, fatigue has been an ongoing foe of mine. A lack of balance and lack of personal restraint have made this momma hard-pressed for time, energy and, worse yet... joy. My rhythm has been rocked by one circumstance after another, and the real test of faithfulness has begun... and, unfortunately, so far, I haven't been faring too well.

A few months ago, we made the decision to buck-up and finally take the plunge into homeschooling... While this decision was not made lightly, it left a heavy weight of responsibility on my shoulders as I added a special feather to the hat of "teacher" I already wore... in addition to the many other hats I wear as a mom. I began to spend hours upon hours researching methods, curriculum, and strategies. And, because of our financial reasons, this time spent was priceless... since our budget for homeschooling was pretty much nil. Side note: God has been so good to help me find so many free and inexpensive resources for educating our children!

While so grateful for the rewarding experience of schooling and disciplining discipling my children at home, lesson planning and managing the onslaught of emotional and physical drain that homeschooling days brings was an ongoing struggle. After a couple of months of experimenting with what a rhythm for our family might look like and, after feeling like I had finally found a rhythm worth spending my time settling into, enter amazing opportunity: a job offer for me to work part-time at my church, City Bible Church North Sound, as our Connections Department Director. 

I was beyond thrilled at this opportunity for many reasons and felt it was a door the Lord had opened for me and my family. While it was an open door for me to fulfill my dream of working in ministry, we'd also actually been praying since earlier in the year for a part-time job for me to enable us, through extra income, to complete our house faster. Upon accepting it, however, I knew that, once again, our family rhythms would need to change.

My husband and children have been amazing through this transition over the past couple of months. Their support of me and of the natural home-life changes that we've worked through upon me starting to work outside the home have been such a blessing.

And then... enter housebuilding project: plumbing. Yes, don't forget we are indeed still housebuilding... although for a few short months, as I frolicked in dreamland of getting to finally live my dream of working in ministry, I had almost forgotten about that fact. Yeah, remember the reason for the income of the job? Hello.

As far as plumbing goes, let me just tell you that this was not one of my favorite projects. Everything in both of our living spaces had to be moved and rearranged... completely. We would be isolated to our main living space. My husband and I took to the sofa-sleeper and the kids had their beds moved to be just behind the couch- with about one foot of space to spare them and our dining table and make-shift kitchen space.  Reminded me a lot of our days in the fifth-wheel. Let me just say that this living-sleeping-eating-all-in-one-space arrangement is not so good for a momma who likes to rise early before her family to get a jump-start on the day and have some alone time with the Lord. The shower became my new prayer closet. Thank God for headphones, mp3s, DailyBible app, and podcasts.

Throughout the noisy, messy, hectic, sawdust and dirty-laundry-and-dishes infested process of plumbing installation, I was very happy to now have a place to go outside my home to escape... to my office at work. And I brought my children along with me to work too. I was also very happy to be homeschooling as our schedule (and home!) had been turned upside down and there would be no way I'd have been able to take my children to school every day... that is, unless I took them to school sleep-deprived and without clean clothes or their homework done. So we did that at home instead. And my children didn't get in trouble for it... and neither did I.

As we finished our plumbing project (ok, well most of it- until the plumber returns in the next couple of weeks to finish the rest!), we started the work of clean-up and attempting to get things somewhat back to a semblance of "normal" before Christmas... we were so excited to have my in-laws, Grammie & Grandpa, join us for an extended stay with their two great Danes. We made it... barely... just as they reached our doorstep in fact. All the hard work was worth it though. We enjoyed a lovely, relaxing, refreshing time together. And I hoped to God that this would be our last Christmas in the midst of the construction process.

Just before Christmas, however, we received news that our dear children's ministry directors at our church were moving out-of-state... and with that news, I was offered the privilege and honor of taking over their responsibilities in addition to my existing ones. Again, it was another open door I felt was God's plan for me in ministry, especially after my past experience in launching a children's ministry in our last church planting assignment.

As I worked through the many changes in my responsibilities and schedules yet again, enter my next rhythm-interrupter.... this time in the form of a crisis. One of my dogs, Gracie, began having seizures during the time of month that she normally has them... only, over several days they increased tremendously in quantity... and intensity. After a couple of sleepless nights, I made an appointment at the vet and we discovered through a series of expensive tests that she has idiopathic epilepsy. Basically, that is a doctor's way of saying that she has seizures and they don't know why. Glad I payed for those tests.

As she began medication which needed to be administered twice daily at exactly 12 hours apart, I felt trapped. Trapped. Trapped. Trapped. For many reasons. I felt trapped in a repeated cycle of chaos... of one drastic change to my schedule after another, after another, and another of unexpected crises and messes... crises which are difficult for me to recover from and messes which take me seemingly forever to clean up. I felt trapped to my home and to new time-frames for all of our activities based on the important daily appointments of 9:30AM and 9:30PM with the addition of this new medication.

I was on the verge of a total meltdown as I dealt with hopelessness for several days... pondering whether or not my life would ever return to "normal" or if "normal" even existed for me and my family anymore... it had been forever it seemed since I had had a regular, predictable pattern of time to myself to soak up the presence of God through His Word and prayer and I was feeling parched and discouraged as to whether or not I'd ever be able to walk in the consistency of a regular rhythm again... and then, enter: God's mercy and grace.

I have felt Him sweep in and cover me and my family through this season of chaos as the sweet melody of a familiar worship song has washed over my heart recently and reminded me that not only do I find God in the quiet and stillness, but that He is also present with me in moments of chaos and confusion, in the moments of my weakness... and that I can find that He is still Sovereign... and that He gives me the grace I need for each moment to do His will. And it's been in those moments where I realize that it's not really the rhythm I'm seeking, it's Jesus.

I want the peace of His presence more than I want the peace and quiet of my home... I want my life to bring Him praise more than I want my life to bring me comfort... I want my life to be marked as one moving consistently to the rhythms of His grace and not according to the regiments of a predictable routine... I want to feel refreshed and cleansed in His daily mercies and for my home to be a place where His presence dwells more than I want my home to be spotless. What I want, and what I've discovered I'm really seeking, is none but... Jesus.

Only Jesus can bring order to chaos. Only Jesus can speak His word and transform chaos into a beautiful creation. And so the creation awaits... in eager expectation, in hope, in faith... to see what beautiful glory awaits it... and in the meantime, we will dance. We will dance in perfect rhythm to the song He sings over me and for me... a wordless song he hums that resonates with the unsung melodies of my heart. And with every breath I'll utter His name... the precious and powerful name of Jesus. The sweetest and most beautiful name that is music to my ears and brings rhythm and joy to my soul.




For Further Reading: Romans 8:18-28

Do you have a family rhythm? A personal rhythm?
What has helped you to maintain a faithful pursuit of Jesus?
What has hindered you? 

Monday, February 6, 2012

Facing the Real Me

There are people in this house. There are even people in this room. These people happen to be my family. My husband. My two children.

There are other people in this house. There are even other people in this room. These people are my friends. All 570 of them... well, make that 798 if you count the 228 that just follow me around. Well, then there's the 451 that I follow around. Amazing how we all fit in this same room together, isn't it? Well, the fact is that we don't quite fit... actually. My family will be the first to tell you that there's not room for all of us.



I sure do like these other people though.

I like it when I get a notification that they decided to write on my wall... and I always make an effort to be as quick to comment as possible- to respond with kindness and courtesy. And, of course, I also always try to respond quickly when they send me a message.

My daughter once decided to write on my wall too... with crayons... and yet another time with pen. I didn't like that so much. In fact, I was so angry that I'm pretty sure my comments to her didn't contain even an ounce of courtesy... or kindness.

My son's been trying to send me a direct message for a few days now. He's been sending out all kinds of signals to try to get my attention. Recently, he's just decided to handle things himself by shutting my laptop... on my fingers. And, let me tell you, I reacted responded quickly. Probably too quickly. Probably not in a way that he liked... or I liked, for that matter.


I like it when these other people follow me. They even keep retweeting repeating and sharing some of the things I say. They must like me, I think. It sure feels good to be liked... wouldn't you agree?

My son used to follow me around all the time. He always wanted to be doing whatever Mommy was doing. And he still does... even though there are times I wish he wouldn't have followed in my steps... there are just some trends I wish I hadn't set.

My daughter used to love to quote and repeat my words...  and still does. Even the not-so-nice ones that slip out sometimes. I sure don't like it when she does that very much.


You know, there's also me in this house too. And, even though sometimes I may fool myself into thinking there are two sides me -one side for my family to see and one side for the other people to see- there's really only just one me. That's right... one. It's time to face the facts and get a clear picture of what my profile really looks like and what my status really is... with my family.

There may be other people who are similar to me, but the fact is that there is no other me in this house. And no other people in this house will see more of my personal profile or have a clearer picture of who I really am than my family. My family sees more of my profile in everyday moments than other people think they see in scattered status updates. I hope and pray that the real me is worth liking and following... and that I'm not just seen as a face in this house, but as a friend, wife, and mother.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Let the Challenge Begin!

I am so excited to be participating in my first Hello Mornings Challenge! I came across Inspired To Action several months ago- just a few days too late to register for the Fall Session of the Hello Mornings Challenge last year. I couldn't wait to participate in the next one! And, what better time, than the new year... not only the does the beginning of this challenge coincide with our church's corporate 21 Days of Prayer & Fasting, but I've also got some new goals and aspirations I'm working toward this year... so this challenge really couldn't have come at a better time. I can't wait to amp up my morning schedule again after trying to adjust to the many, many (did I mention many?) changes in my family's schedule recently.

This year, in addition to diving into the realm of homeschooling my kiddos for the first time (after having been a public-school-raised girl, myself!) I also recently accepted a part-time job at my church, City Bible Church North Sound. I have been a stay-at-home mom/wife for the last 8.5 years. While I haven't had a paid job in what seems like a very long time, I have been hard at work, however, as a volunteer for various church plants my husband and I have been a part of since our kiddos were babies. Not to mention the fact that we've also been hard at work building a house out-of-pocket by ourselves for the last 5.5 years... and yes, we're still smack in the middle of that process.

SO... this new season of life has been a huge adjustment for our family (especially for me!) and, while cultivating a personal devotional life didn't seem too difficult for me in the past, things just aren't as simple as they used to be. While the added complexity of responsibilities I've been entrusted with has helped me to be more efficient with my time and have shaped me more into who God has called me to be, I have had many days recently where I've been sapped of strength simply because I've not necessarily kept everything balanced or prioritized the way I should. And, let me tell you, the enemy has used this against me... and the results have not been pretty.

I can't wait for the Hello Mornings Challenge to begin on January 16 to help me get some more balance in my life and to help me be more intentional about how I am spending my days so that they are a better reflection of my priorities... I am looking forward to the added bonus of accountability working in tandem with the encouragement provided in this challenge to help me get back on track. Hopefully, come April 15, I will have a better idea of how to "Maximize My Mornings" in this new season of life to help me prepare for the next one!

Let the Hello Mornings Challenge begin!