family, Inspiration, Personal Growth, Uncategorized

November, Again.

Every November comes around with the velocity of a high speed train. Daylight savings, spring, open pools, sunshine.

And birthdays.

Three of them.

All in five days.

Sydney’s on the 5th, mine on the 8th and Sam’s on the 9th. No merging with traffic. November arrives – and, BOOM! So do all the birthdays.

I feel overwhelmed with another piece of childhood left behind; and, in the frenzy of planning parties, buying gifts, baking cakes for classmates, I forget about my own birthday. (It’s also very weird to celebrate in Spring when for 35 yrs mine fell in fall. Void of the changing leaves and leftover Halloween candy, there are no triggers telling me it’s my turn.)

So, this year, I decided to reflect a little more intentionally, to pick up blogging again, and hopefully inspire someone else who resents the audacity of the calendar with all its overreach and disregard for the pace I reckon we would all like to keep. The passing of time is a universal truth common to human experience. But we don’t have to like it!

I spend a lot of time prepping for the future: saving money, planning holidays, exercising and eating right. And, in the midst of all that habit-stacking and goal-setting, I often lament what was. Nostalgia rings a familiar bell with the sound of laughter and hope. I want to live in the present but I struggle to do so. I long to be content with what is but I have a hard time reconciling the vision I once held for what would one day be with the harsh reality of what actually is.

Disappointment has been an all-too-familiar friend over the last decade. Sure, Instagram shows the highlight reel of everything that’s been good. And, there’s been a lot of good. But, unmet expectations, betrayal, money stresses, mistakes, loss, (did I mention cellulite and wrinkles) have also taken up real estate in my life. No one ever puts those things on a vision board, do they?

The reality is, perfection is never a promise made by the One who gives us our breath. Easy isn’t extended to even the most lucky and blessed. Whatever our family, finances or faith, we aren’t immune to heartache and hurt.

So, this birthday week, as I reflect on my 43 yrs, I feel a little bit of ‘blah’ mixed with a little bit of ‘bliss.’ I feel free even though the heaviness of sadness threatens to invade. I can admit my faults and disappointments with unfettered honesty but when I do, vulnerability seeks to bring shame. I’m liberated when I can acknowledge I don’t have simplistic answers for complex problems but I would rather stick my head in the sand.

Embracing the monotony of putting one foot in front of the other is actually living footloose and fancy free. The fact that I woke up this morning means I’ve been given permission to use the gift of another plain old day to make a difference in someone’s life, to love the ones I hold dear and to give thanks.

Today, on this 43rd birthday of mine, I am more resilient, tested and true to myself… less insecure and more focussed on the things that matter most. I care about giving of myself more than of what I can gain. I feel grateful for every healthy breath and for a solid marriage. I’m pleased that my shoulders are a strong platform upon which my children can stand. I see my Heavenly Father through a sometimes beat up lens but what always comes into focus is his faithfulness and love for me (and YOU).

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
ARC, Faith, Lift Church, Timing, Uncategorized

April 21

Almost exactly one year since we decided to plant a church in Australia, we have our move date.  April 21 is when our family will fly ONE WAY to our new continent!  God has moved miraculously this year.  Looking back at his amazing provision provides the fuel we need for the next leg of our journey.  Let’s celebrate together some of the milestones:

February 2011:

  • Greg attended the C3 conference in Dallas where he felt he heard from God that we are to plant a church in Australia. (You never know when God will bring revelation to you.)

April:

  • Our Pastors, Joe and Lori Champion, fully believed in us and supported our “call.”  (Promotion comes from God’s house.  Affirmation from your spiritual leaders is important before stepping out of one thing and into the next.  If it’s God, your timing will align.)
June:
  • We transitioned from our role as campus pastors with support from our volunteer team and congregation.  God provided the right leaders to take our place and the campus is thriving. (Handling communication during a transition is critical to ensure success.  Telling the right people at the right time is vital to any major move.)
  • Greg was able to remain on staff at Celebration Church, a blessing both financially and in ministry experience. (Even if you know your time somewhere is temporary, give God your best.  He will honor you and bless your faithfulness.)
August:
  • We went on a two-day retreat, just the two of us to seek God and brainstorm what kind of church we felt God is calling us to plant.  We got the name for our church: LIFT! (We all need times where we can get away from the normal distractions of our days in order to clearly hear from God.)
September:
  • We were able to go to ARC training where we clearly got a handle on “church planting timelines” and all of the steps on our way to planting our church. (Even if you feel like you know what you are doing, remain teachable.  Surrounding yourself with leaders who have been where you want to go will reveal blind spots. You will also avoid making some mistakes by learning from others.)
  • God began assembling a team of people who feel called to come with us. (Where there is VISION from God, he always brings PROVISION, both in people and finances.)
October:
  • Submitted all paperwork and applied for my visa to migrate to Australia. (Don’t let overwhelming and/or expensive processes keep you from moving toward your goals.)
November:
  • We were able to go to Australia for an entire month to research, network, investigate, and envision our new life in Newcastle. (Believe God for opportunities to explore and gather information.  He doesn’t expect us to operate in total blind faith.)
December:
  • Greg’s role on staff at Celebration ended at the end of the year.  We also were able to make financial arrangements for our AdvoCare business going forward. (Eventually, old doors must close in order for the new ones to open.  Don’t be afraid of this part!)

January 2012:

  • Our website launched enabling us to easily share our vision and start fundraising. (Even if you hate technology or social networking, learn to use it! It isn’t going away.)
  • We started the year with a 21 day fast. (Some things do not come but by prayer and fasting according to Mark 9:29)
February:
  • My visa was approved only four months after I applied (the embassy told me many times that it would take between 5 and 12 months). (God’s timeline can look much different from ours.  Be ready for anything when believing for a miracle!)
  • Purchased airfare confirming our decision to leave on April 21. (It is easier to stay in the planning phase.  At some point, you have to step out of the boat.)

As we have sixty-one days until we leave (who’s counting?), I plan on doing everything I can to prepare myself both spiritually and financially to make the move.  On a personal note, my heart is heavy with sadness sometimes for the many things we will be leaving behind.  Namely, Celebration Church, dear friends and family.  We are thrilled God is moving the pieces into place for us to leave; and, we are determined to make the most of these last days creating memories and celebrating what we have here.