The Case for Community

For many years I have prayed for a best friend. I have had many close friends over the years, but because I have issues of trust and struggle with relationships, I have always felt that I didn’t fully connect with many of my friends over the years.

In the last 6-10 months, God answered my prayers. But not in the way I would have imagined or planned for myself. I had the honor of becoming best friends with the wife of my husband’s best friend – but not in person, through text messaging about our husbands (LOL).

In addition, I met a few of my other besties online – through The Influence Network. Like me, they are women who seek to deepen a relationship with God and to make Him known in every area of their lives.

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{My crazy friends. Love them!}

Most of my close/best friends do not live near me. Several I have never met in person. Awkward? Maybe. But am I blessed? You have no idea.

These friends are women I trust with my life. My deepest secrets. They are people I can vent to, who build me up and correct me when I am wrong. Like I stated earlier, one of my best friends is married to my husband’s best friend. We share life together and are bound together by a calling so big it scares us and excited us both tremendously!

Why are intimate friendships & community necessary? I believe Hebrews 10 states it perfectly – that we are blessed when others come to us with a need. It blesses us. And it propels us towards good work, towards helping others for His glory.

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{Another gem from the She Reads Truth study in Nehemiah}

Getting into relationships like this is not apart of a magic formula. You cannot sit around and wait for people to come to you. You must be vulnerable, reach out and connect with others, whether online or in your local community.

Reach out online. Set up coffee dates with people from your church or from your workplace. It is awkward at first, but is so worth it in the end. It took me many years to get here – and it has taken work on my part. (And I am still a work in progress!)

And don’t be surprised if friendships change over the years. People grow and seasons change, and people may come into and out of your life. Be blessed in the now and thankful for friends past, present and those to come.

Do you struggle with building friendships? What are some ways you can reach out to build new/deeper relationships??

Be blessed,

Content In All Things?

I am sharing this post on my friend Carly’s blog today, Texas Lovebirds. Go check her out!! She is amazing!

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{I took this photo during church this past week.}

I am one of those people you’d categorize as frugal. Cheap. Maybe even a tight-wad.

I adore the teachings of Dave Ramsey and I look for ways to save money.

You might even say I find some of my security in having money available. I am not talking SUPER WEALTH or anything. But just knowing I have something in case I need it, that gives me peace.

And for many years this has brought me guilt (okay, the Holy Spirit has convicted me). My husband is quite the opposite of me. He loves to give gifts to others and bless others in monetary (and non-monetary) means. I have always wished I could give that freely without feeling scared or worried that we might need that money down the road.

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{Photo Credit: worthyofthegospel.wordpress.org}

Then this past Sunday, my church began a series entitled Content in All Things. My worship pastor, Brian, spoke last week, and shared the story of the rich young ruler from Matthew 19 –

Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”But when the young man heard this, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “I tell you the truth, it is very hard for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.I’ll say it again—it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!” – Matthew 19: 21-24

Immediately, I became convicted again because I knew God has been working on me to surrender this area of my life to him. I have certainly come a long way. But this continues to be an area of dis-trust for me. In his message, Brian argued that one of the major issues facing Christians in the West is that we may be missing the mark in the area of generosity. He discussed how in the U.S. we value the idea of scarcity and attaining more things to equal ones worth as a person rather than being generous with others.

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{A favorite quote recently from Ann Voskamp.}

However, I don’t think this missing the mark with generosity necessarily means monetarily/material things only. We may be missing the mark if we hoard our money, for sure. But what about not being generous with our time? Our giftings? Our knowledge & wisdom?

Jesus asks us to forsake ourselves and live fearlessly for His glory. This means forsaking our agenda, our plans, our 401k plans, our savings accounts, our to-do lists, and yes….even our lives. And it is SCARY. It requires major TRUST because it involves great risk in the eyes of man.

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{Photo Credit: worthyofthegospel.wordpress.org}

One of the resources Brian mentioned in his message last week was the book Radical by David Platt. I have had the opportunity to read it, and it shook me to the core. David Platt does an excellent job of analyzing some of the issues/problems with the lack of generosity, lack of missional mindedness, lack of discipleship and community building happening in the current American church today:

“This is really the core issue of it all.  Do we trust him?  Do we trust Jesus when he tells us to give radically for the sake of the poor?  Do we trust him to provide for us when we begin using the resources he has given us to provide for others?  Do we trust him to know what is best for our lives, our families, and our financial futures?” – David Platt, Radical

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Ultimately, Jesus was communicating to this man [rich young ruler] that there was nothing he could do to enter the kingdom of God apart from total trust in God.  It is impossible for us to earn our way into heaven.  In the process, though, Jesus was exposing the barrier that this man’s wealth was to seeing his need for God.  His wealth on earth would ultimately keep him from eternal treasure. – David Platt, Radical

So, what do you think? Personally, I don’t think Jesus is calling everyone to sell everything they own and move into poor neighborhoods. I think Jesus is asking believers to lay down their choke-hold on their stuff and surrender fully to Him. This may mean you go through times of plenty or times of dire need. In both circumstances, give thanks and fully trust/surrender to Him. Allow Christ to lead you. And may you be encouraged by Paul’s account of the matter in Philippians 4 –

Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little”  – Philippians 4:11-12

Please take a listen to the sermons mentioned above. Listen to the one by Brian Wages first, then to Jeff Henderson’s second. In addition, take a listen to the song “Rich Young Ruler” by Derek Webb. It puts to song the message behind the story in Matthew 19. Extremely convicting but necessary for our growth as Christians.

Rich Young Ruler – Derek Webb

I am giving away a copy of the book “Radical” here!! I hope it can bless someone else like it has blessed me!

Rushing God’s Plan

My husband and I often get similar comments from folks when they find out that we have been called to church planting, especially since we were called way back in 2009 to Phoenix AZ. This is often what they say, “When are you leaving?” “Why are you still here?” “Do you think you jumped the gun a little bit?” and “I thought you guys were moving, what happened?”

Don’t get me wrong. I am not angry at these folks. They are well-meaning. But I think our culture has bought into something that concerns me. Many people in our area who get into church planting immediately begin fundraising, get involved with an organization to sponsor them, and within a year or two they have launched a church. We have seen SEVERAL churches who have sprung up this way in our area. And perhaps this is why people keep questioning my husband and me.

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It becomes very difficult to explain to people that WE WOULD LOVE to be there in AZ. My husband and I both feel our hearts pulled to the area and we would absolutely love nothing more than to drop everything and get on out there and begin ministering to those lovely folks in Phoenix/Scottsdale.

However, we both sense God asking us to wait. One of the major issues holding us back is our financial situation, particularly the fact that our home is currently upside down in the mortgage. (That means that we owe more than what it currently appraises at, so we’d have to essentially file for foreclosure or a short-sale in order to get out of our house payment.)

It would be easy to walk away. I could quit paying my mortgage tomorrow and find myself able to move to AZ in a heartbeat. It would be so easy. But my husband has had many conversations/prayers with the Lord and he believes God wants us to be honorable in our finances. That means we have to keep working hard at being financially responsible and wait on the Lord to bring us to a place where we are ready to move. Maybe that is in a year. Maybe it’s in five years. I don’t honestly know WHEN it will be.

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{Photo Credit: @spolleys on Instagram}

I can predict. Give you an estimation. But ultimately I just don’t know. And the further along this path I go, I am more and more comfortable with that. It means I have to trust God. It means I cannot control this situation. It means that God has to lead me. It means I must have faith.

And I am okay with that.

I pray you are learning to trust God in your life. If you’re in a situation where you’re not sure when God is going to move or where God is going to lead you, it is okay. He has you in the palm of His hand.

Blessings,

How Do I Wait Well?

Waiting is hard.

I am in the midst of waiting in various areas of my life right now – professionally, spiritually, financially, in ministry…you name it. I am in a season of perpetual waiting.

And for the most part, I have handled it well. Recently, though, I have had some new stresses and additions to the waiting game that have made it feel much harder to remain content in the Lord. I have gone through all sorts of emotions and felt varying levels of frustration and even anger over it all.

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As someone who recently wrote a post to twenty-somethings about loving the questions, I can honestly tell you that I am failing this part of the (continual) test. I am completely annoyed by the fact that I don’t have the answers right now. I am the kind of person who reads the end of the book first; someone who likes to read the spoilers on movies and TV show endings. What I want is for God to move and make sense of the increased chaos and uncertainty around me.

I can, however, take comfort in this: regardless of how I feel, God is for me, not against me. He loves me. I can trust Him. I know for certain that He is using this as a means to teach me to trust Him. To have faith in Him. It isn’t easy for me and will continue to be a life-long struggle, to be sure. I may not always FEEL this…but I can trust His word. And I can trust Him based on past experience. HE IS FOR ME NOT AGAINST ME.

What about you, friends? Are you in a season of waiting? Do you feel like you’re in chaos and desperately want to know the answers? Are you confused?  Please feel free to e-mail me or message me on twitter with some specific prayer requests, or even comment here with them. I think we can support each other through this in prayer.

Here are some verses for those of you going through the same thing – may they be an encouragement to you as they have been to me:

“Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise.”- Hebrews 10:23

“But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.” – Romans 8:25

“Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, leading me to a glorious destiny. Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever.” – Psalm 73: 23-26

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength.They will soar high on wings like eagles.They will run and not grow weary.They will walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

“For the Lord your God is living among you.He is a mighty savior.He will take delight in you with gladness.With his love, he will calm all your fears.He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”  -Zephaniah 3:17

And one that is hard, but needed in times like this:

“But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me.If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.” – Psalm 50:23

A song that can encourage you, too….

On Being a Working Momma

I had the great privilege of sharing this on Nathalie’s series “The Mamahood” today. I have often struggled with guilt about being a work outside the home momma. Here is part of my journey…

I have had the great privilege to be a momma for four years now. And for most of the time, I have been a work outside the home momma. I say it that way, because I truly feel all mommas are “working mommas.” I think the term “stay at home mom” has a tone of “you don’t do anything but sit all day.” I like to think we all work – some of us in the home, some of us outside the home.

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While working outside the home has its challenges, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Since I am a high school teacher, I get the privilege of having extended at-home time with my daughter during summers and the holidays. I also get the benefit of being around my peers and gaining wisdom from other adults during my day. Is this life stressful? Yes. Is it beneficial to my overall life? Definitely!

One of the biggest lies of the enemy that comes from being a momma that works outside the home is this: “You’re not doing enough for your child. You’re being selfish and are not caring for them by being home with them.” As I have grown as a mother, I have come to recognize this as a tool of the devil. As mothers, we have to do what is best for our families. Sometimes, we simply cannot afford to be a “work at home” momma. Other times, it may be best for our personal mental, psychological and even spiritual health that we find work outside of our home.

Can I be honest? I am doing my child a disservice by staying home with her. I greatly admire all “work at home” mommas. However, I do not feel this is a calling for my family at this time. I get extremely fitful when I am at home for extended periods and find that my daughter craves the structure and socialization her preschool provides. In this season, we mutually benefit by spending time apart from each other, and we can truly enjoy the time we have together in the afternoons and on the weekends. In addition, our family needs the financial support my job provides, so we can pay off our debts and begin to transition into church planting.

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As Christians, whether we work inside or outside the home, may our goal in mothering be that our children come to know Christ. As Paul states in Philippians, “I want to know Christ and experience the mighty power that raised him from the dead.”(Philippians 3:10) More than anything, I desperately want my daughter to know Christ. Whether that means I am teaching her during the day or in the evenings, it is my biggest goal and hope.

I sincerely hope that whether you feel called to be a work from home momma or a “work outside the home” momma, that you do so prayerfully and that you do not feel ashamed by your choice. Mothers should not feel that they have to separate into one of the two camps. We have a common denominator that binds us all together – we are mothers. As mothers, we should seek to encourage, to lift up and to offer prayer & support to our fellow mothers. If we focus our eyes on Jesus instead of others opinion, He will mold us into the mothers He created us to be and we will be able to lead our children to Jesus, in whatever way He has called us to do so.

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Are you a new mom or a seasoned mom who is struggling with this are or another area of mothering? I highly recommend the book “Desperate” by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson. As I have been struggling as a mom over these last few years, reading it renewed my spirit and gave me a sense of freedom to mother the way God called me to.

May you be blessed today, momma. You are loved.

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