Sorry it’s been since like July that I blogged. I just hadn’t felt inspired to blog. Or lazy. Or unwilling to admit how God is at work in my life. Sometimes it’s hard to see God at work thru the pain, uncertainty, uncomfortableness, and just flat out DRYness. Because going thru it isn’t something YOU want. This past year has been one of pruning and stretching. But more on that in another blog. I want to talk about the Design of a Decade. And no, I’m not talking about Janet Jackson’s greatest hits album (a fave)!
Since we just rang in 2010, I’m talking about about the past ten years and the timeline of grace throughout it…
2000-2001: my senior of high school was the best ever. I can’t tell you what an amazing experience I had when it came to the arts. I had the coolest teacher, and thru the program I learned how to sing and perform many styles of music. I grew up with godly parents in ministry who led me to love the Lord and love the church. In the youth ministry I grew to have a passion for worship leading and participating in the process of ministering to others thru music. I became an adult.
2001-2003: after graduating I got a partial scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston but I knew it wouldn’t make much of a dent in the crazy $30k tuition. God had something else- at D-Now a band called Orayi from Liberty University came and a guy Daniel Floyd spoke. (Daniel is now pastor of Lifepoint Church in the Fredericksburg, Va, small world!) A cd I recorded was passed onto the dept of ministry teams and eventually I auditioned and became a part of the Sounds of Liberty. I got to travel every weekend and break to churches, schools and events all over the east coast. I also fell in love with the guitar player on the group and married him in summer of 2003! I also got a great education and firmed up my roots in the wonderful theology and bible classes I took.
2003-2005: as newlyweds we really didn’t know where or what we were supposed to be doing but we knew we felt called to worship ministry. We applied to a few churches and even interviewed at one but God seemed to close those doors. We plugged into Chad’s home church C3 in Clayton, NC and served in as many areas as we could, learning so many valuable lessons about ministry, life and leadership. During this time Chad also sliced his left hand in the kitchen, leaving us with a fun $10k surgery bill that forced us to snowball our credit card debt in an effort to maintain our lifestyle. Bad idea.
2005-2007: we began praying and fasting the beginning of the summer of ’05 and a stirring in our hearts for a new adventure came. It was then that we felt God nudging us to step out on faith, move to Wilmington, NC to be a part of Lifepoint Church. It was an incredible time of growth, seeing people start a relationship with Jesus for the first time, and being a player in a grander vision. Although we had ups and downs, financial difficulty, irresponsibility with our own money, we were stretched in a good way. We also learned that real ministry, people and relationships are messy and we all desperately need Jesus. Oh yeah, bought an unnecessary Honda Element that we could’ve done without. Especially when an unexpected layoff happened. What is saving anyway?
2007-2008: we got antsy. Running away from dealing with some things in our personal lives and running toward selfish ambitions, we moved to Nashville, TN to pursue music. God allowed us to have some fun, meet some cool people, perform and record music, but we still hung onto past wounds, disappointments, missing our friends and family, and all the while driving our debt deeper. We learned alot at the LifeChurch.tv campus where we lived, and God gave us a wake up call thru the financial series. I also learned that God can use me in other areas besides music ministry and volunteered in kids ministry all year. My most favorite job ever went to pot by September of 2008 and after being mostly unemployed Chad’s new job was going nowhere due to the economy. Do I think it was necessarily in God’s will for us to move there? Not sure. Because in spite of myself and my mistakes God revealed more about himself and rocked me on the inside. Oh and in November 2007 we attended a Joe Sangl seminar and cut up all our credit cards.
2008-Present: we made the decision to move back home at the end of ’07. Sometimes you have to “go back the way you came” in order to understand how God is working in your life and see his provision, much like Elijah. We wanted so much to be back in Wilmington with our friends and our church but for whatever reason God kept us in Clayton living with the in-laws. This wasn’t ideal, I wanted to be on my way, have a job and settle down independently, work on debt. I am extremely grateful for having 2 sets of parents who have supported us thru our crises. We were encouraged by the people of C3 and got to serve at All Access conference. We finally made it back on some temp jobs but those ended abruptly. I can say one thing, this past year has felt very unstable. I don’t like it. It sucks. Middle of the summer was a real low point. Knowing all that’s happened the past 2 years were partly because of our own bad choices and attitudes, partly because God just allowed us to go thru things that are completely beyond our control! I’m TypeA ok? I’m a planner, I need structure. I want so much to hold onto control of my life, but when God takes you thru things you don’t understand, when things happen that don’t make any sense, when you face disappointment and shattered dreams, you have NO choice but to rely on God the Father in humility. I talked about going thru “The Dip” in an earlier blog (based on Pastor Steven Furtick’s messages when we visited Elevation Church). Boy have we gone thru it. Do I wish I didn’t make alot of stoopid decisions? Yes. Would I request God give me a do-over? No. I wouldn’t take back ANY of our journey, as painful as it may have been, because I wouldn’t have LEARNED ANYTHING. Sometimes you can’t see what God wants you to see until you’ve gotten outside the situation. And sometimes God can’t change or impact someone else’s life thru you until you’ve gone thru it. We also have been blessed by some amazing friends who speak truth, encouragement and the hard questions in our lives….And something Furtick said once is that “even if God never does a thing for you (a good thing in your eyes), he’s still been good to you. And given you far more than you ever deserve.” This decade has been one of truth, grace and mercy. I look forward to experiencing God’s design of this next decade.
WHAT’S NEXT?? I have no idea. We are nowhere near out of the woods yet, especially financially and emotionally. But I’m in complete surrender here. I’ve learned alot about grace as you can see. Every step of the way God has provided for us in some way, just as God sent ravens and a widow to provide for Elijah, he keeps reminding me. And although it’s taken me some time the hard way, I can see God’s hand on my life. And I’m better for it. I am being molded into the person God wants me to be. I pray God gives us grace in the form of a real positive breakthrough this year in 2010. There is an unsettledness in my heart stirring. Something God has been quietly telling me is that Chad and I are made for something grander than our imaginations. Whatever it is, I want to experience him in a new, real way. The more I read Forgotten God by Francis Chan lately, the more I realize the Holy Spirit really has become forgotten to many. I want to not just know that he exists but I want to see and feel and touch the work of the Holy Spirit in my life like never before. And that comes with knowing him more intimately. I have big expectations for this year- “confident hope, and the great rewards it brings.” (Hebrews 10:35)
“God can do anything, you know- far more than we could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Eph. 3:20