Eat, Sleep and Breathe

Eat, Sleep and Breathe

I am not the biggest of football fans. I grew up in Nebraska; yes, amid cornfields and football. But throughout my first 21 years of life there, I never fully become a football fan. My father was a crop scientist and my mother a musician... so football games were never on our television at home. Instead, my family and I listened to music, watched musicals, spent a ton of time playing outdoors or followed our father in the cornfields while he gathered crop data.

But, if you live in Nebraska, football is unavoidable. Most everyone in our small town was of the philosophy that you would eat, sleep and breathe football. People could easily turn on you (and put you in your place) if you didn't know a little about the sport. And so, my surroundings forced me to learn. 

 

No one ever sat me down and gave me a play by play. I learned by watching and listening to the conversations that happened around me ALL THE TIME. And years later, I was Co-Captain of the cheer squad and was leading our town's high school football fans in chants and cheers. I even became a quarterback for our Powder Puff team. But, I still never quite understood the DRAW of being a football fan.

 

Now, I cheer for the Huskers (they're my home state team... what can I say?) as well as for the Razorbacks. I realize that I never studied football... like ACTUALLY studied it. As I mentioned earlier, no one ever gave me a play by play or showed me a playbook. Which is probably why I'm not a die-hard football fan. I don't eat, sleep or breathe football... ever. Occasionally, I will cheer loudly when the team is doing awesome and get frustrated when a referree makes a wrong call. But daily? Nope.

 

Now, back to the reason I'm actually writing this post. I started thinking about this tonight as I prepared to teach our church's bible class called Thrive University. How can you worship something you don't understand? I don't think its possible. And here's where I'm gonna lean in a little.

Joshua 1:8

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

We find over and over in Scripture how our God is seeking after us, desiring for us to know Him and love Him. But, we find every excuse to not open our Bibles or even talk about who our God is:

  • Work has been insane this week.
  • I need a night off.
  • We're having a family night.
  • Our kids have a lot of homework/soccer games; I can't make it.
  • I need to make dinner for my family.
  • I'm going through something terrible and just need space.

Here's the deal- I've used these exact same excuses before... and here's where God has convicted my own heart.

Psalm 1:2-3

But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Now, back to the reason I'm actually writing this post. I started thinking about this tonight as I prepared to teach our church's bible class called Thrive University. How can you worship something you don't understand? I don't think its possible. And here's where I'm gonna lean in a little.

Joshua 1:8

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

We find over and over in Scripture how our God is seeking after us, desiring for us to know Him and love Him. But, we find every excuse to not open our Bibles or even talk about who our God is:

  • Work has been insane this week.
  • I need a night off.
  • We're having a family night.
  • Our kids have a lot of homework/soccer games; I can't make it.
  • I need to make dinner for my family.
  • I'm going through something terrible and just need space.

Here's the deal- I've used these exact same excuses before... and here's where God has convicted my own heart.

Psalm 1:2-3

But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.

Here's the Deal...

I've used these exact same excuses before... and here's where God has convicted my own heart.

Conviction is Funny

He's whispered, "How can you worship a God you never study? How can you take communion when you've never looked up the words of Jesus and cried when you realize the amount of sacrifice he gave? How can you repeatedly not show up to bible study or small group... and yet make sure to show up to the church's carnival night or Trunk or Treat? Because, let me tell you, Meg...

  • You cannot worship a God that you don't open your Bible to learn about.
  • You cannot take communion when you have no idea what it's about.
  • You cannot understand God when you choose surface-level fellowship versus digging into the Word with other Jesus followers."

 

How to Become Sold-Out

Here's what I've come away with: It's only possible to become a sold-out fan when you study God's Word. In knowing who He is, you won't just cheer or worship when things are going well. You'll have joy when there is sorrow... when no one else is in the stands with you... or when you don't quite understand why God made a call the way He did. But in those times, you'll know where to go to find the answers in the Bible.

So, choose to learn about Him today. Choose Him over your busyness, your tiredness, and your excuses.

Begin learning today. Stop choosing to miss out on opportunities to get to know Him. And maybe, soon, you'll eat, sleep and breathe with the breath of God upon you.

Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

Finding the Kingdom During Covid 19

March 2020

I sat with a towel twisting my wet hair up on our bed, back in our master, while our worship pastor, our children's director and my husband sat no more than 10 yards away and I listened to their honest, pure, worship. Tears began to fill behind my eyes and threatened to stream down my face. The words that rang throughout my house were, "You are making all things new..." And yet, as I sat in bed with a fever and a desperation to heal quicker, I knew and loved that my church was still being a church.

In the Confusion

This time with the craziness of Covid-19 has been a whirlwind or as some have referred to as being like the movie, Groundhog's Day... over and over. Social media has gone RIDICULOUS with people now having free time to spout off their thoughts and ideas about the situation (I've seen an immense amount of good come out of our situations) but this morning... I could just be... and listen... and softly sing to my King while no one watched. Honestly, I could barely get the words out. Here's the conclusion I've come to amidst all of this chaos and disorder:

  • I've found peace where once my heart was jumbled and stressed.
  • I've been able to breathe, really breathe in, and experience pure joy with my kids daily.
  • I've been able to dig into Scripture and geek out to the possibilities I find there.
  • I've been able to worship with no one watching.
  • I've been able to spend time reaching out to my church family more regularly to ask for or pray for them.
  • I've watched my kids settle in and just be... without the crazy amount of time constraints they used to have.
  • I've been able to see all of my church family's faces via Zoom and laugh with them.
  • I've watched our church family come together in a tighter knit community to support and love on each other even virtually.

Chaos and the Church

It's not the same... we can't meet together collectively. It's not normal... we aren't allowed to worship together in the same room anymore. It's not even similar... we are spending church virtually instead of spending next to flesh and blood. But here's the thing... we are meeting separately... but we are together in spirit.

We've got to let go our our stubbornness... our resentment for how things were handled... our need to want things our way... and move into a time of healing, rest, and thankfulness that we live in a time and age where we can still meet- even if virtually.

I think back to one of the first Sunday's after Jesus' death. We find the disciples and Jesus's followers spread out all over the city of Jerusalem... hiding. Some followers had even left the city and were headed home to Emmaus. But when Jesus finally appears to them in Luke 24, they think he's a ghost. They can't even believe he's back!

The Kingdom they thought was coming... didn't.

The life they thought Jesus had alluded to- was completely upside down.

I mean- the guy they'd been following around had been preaching of a new Kingdom... and then, whelp, he was killed. And now, they were huddled in a house, just waiting for something and thinking that there was no way this Kingdom was going to happen anymore.

"Then he said to them, “Don’t you remember the words that I spoke to you when I was still with you? I told you that everything written about me would be fulfilled, including all the prophecies from the law of Moses through the Psalms and the writings of the prophets—that they would all find their fulfillment.”  He supernaturally unlocked their understanding to receive the revelation of the Scriptures,  then said to them, “Everything that has happened fulfills what was prophesied of me. Christ, the Messiah, was destined to suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.  Now you must go into all the nations and preach repentance and forgiveness of sins so that they will turn to me. Start right here in Jerusalem.  For you are my witnesses and have seen for yourselves all that has transpired. And I will send the fulfillment of the Father’s promise to you. So stay here in the city until the mighty power of heaven falls upon you and wraps around you.”

Here's what's crazy about us humans: we think we're soooo smart. The disciples thought it was all over when their Savior was killed (and who's to say we wouldn't have thought the same?) They thought the Kingdom that Jesus preached, would never rise up. And yet, it did.

The Kingdom is happening around us. I'm seeing it in the faces of people who are selflessly dropping off food on our porch so that my husband doesn't have to scramble to make dinner for all of us after taking care of us all day. I hear it in the voices worshipping from my living room. I receive it from the texts and social media messages that encourage and build me up with promises of prayer and healing. I read about it through the words of my King in scripture. I feel the Kingdom when I pray while weeping when no one is watching. It is all around us. God is with us.. even when we feel like church isn't normal. The Kingdom is here... do you feel it?

The Crazy in Church Planting

10 Years Ago...

  • We felt God tugging on our hearts in regard to church planting
  • Attended a Weekend Church Planting Q&A through Ozark Christian College

8 Years Later...

  • We felt God leading us to plant a church in a city where my husband worked
  • Realized- we would eventually have to leave our recent “home” church in order to plant God’s leading only 25 minutes away
  • Had a family uproot themselves from out of state and move into the area to help us plant
  • Got pregnant (whoops… there goes smart planning…)
  • Dreamed about where to plant, prayed about where to plant, talked about where to plant…
  • Began meeting with our team (at the time it was a total of 7 adults…)
  • Had TONS of prayer teams all over the country begin to pray for our team
  • Joined Nexus Church PlantingMichael began to be coached by an experienced church planter
  • Had our 3rd baby boy (people were not joking when they warned us that going from 2 to 3 was “a whole ‘nother ball game!")
  • I began battling post-partum depression (1st time ever… our crazy life definitely wasn't to blame… ha!)
  • Attended a weeklong assessment process with Nexus (making sure we were actually adequately prepared to plant a church.)
  • Had our first Outreach Event… and the only people that attended were… OUR TEAM. (We were literally giving hotdogs away to people that walked by our Pavilion at the park… sad.)
  • Had another Outreach that was more promising… I think there were 13 people there that were not comprised of our team??
  • Lost part of a salary that we had “in place” for our first hire due to a change in support from a church
  • Was given a warehouse and space in a strip mall for next to nothing
  • Lost 3 of our team (I cried a lot during this time) but gained 4 more team members
  • Had our first church BBQ. It was a hit and I began to have hope (not like I’d ever questioned God or anything- that was sarcasm.)
  • Gained a worship band… and we were two weeks from our “Pre-Launch.”
  • Spent an insane amount of hours:
    • Cleaning the building
    • Re-drywalling an entire room (there was carpet on the walls.)
    • Peeling glue off the cement floors (several times)
    • Primed and painted every single wall in those areas
    • Cleaning more…
    • Painting more…
    • Scraping dog urine and feces off the warehouse floor with this crazy rented floor scraper (It had been a doggie hotel. Yes, I am serious.)
    • Climbed up into the dropped ceiling in the warehouse to discover… wait for it… PILES of dog hair from a dog hair vacuum vent. Took several trash bags to dispose of it.
    • Cleaned out the ductwork (think hair…)
    • Glued down carpet squares in two rooms
    • Scoured 4 bathrooms (one with a weird shower…)
    • Procured a stage and then had to fix it due to huge holes in it.
    • Stained the concrete floor upstairs
    • Had random worship practices while sitting on the concrete floor or upside down paint cans
    • Found huge cable spools for tables
    • Borrowed a sound system… and

Take a Breath... I think that's it.

My emotions during this time? Numb. There wasn’t time to pause and think about it. It was constantly… GO…GO…GO.  And then the doubt crept in. We lost our first hire within two months. We lost most of the worship band but gained a dedicated worship leader. We lost support from those close to us. Previous friendships faded and almost ceased to exist when our lives became fast-paced with the church plant. We saw people walk in the doors, tell us that they would be back- and then they wouldn’t. On our actual Launch day, a woman stood up and walked out during the sermon. (When there’s only 16 people in attendence… you kinda notice.) And all this time, I am weeping inside, mostly because of my pride and insecurity. I wanted to run. I wanted to leave. I had thoughts of loading up my car with my children and driving 7 hours to my parents just to escape the constant drama of church planting. We (as a church) were accused of: 
  • Being too young
  • Putting our young family in danger because of the workload of ministry
  • Being egotistical to think that we could (even with God’s Help- goodness!) plant and grow a church
  • Planting a church in a city of churches
  • Trying to be too forward thinking in regards to how church should run
  • Trying to run the church like a business
  • Not giving clear expectations to our first hire
  • Not fulfilling expectations of what a church plant would look like to our original team
  • Miscommunication… a lot.
  • Unorganization
  • "Playing" church instead of being the church
I still wrestle with the pain of all those accusations. I feel deeply about this church that God grew in our hearts to plant. And because I feel deeply, most all criticism hurts. That and the complete and utter physical exhaustion of planting a church can wear on a person. But God has assured me of one thing over and over. He is there. Forever. And he hears my cry for help. No matter how many times…

Psalm 18:6-19

When I was in trouble, I called out to the Lord.
 I cried to my God for help.
 From his temple he heard my voice.
 My cry for help reached his ears. The earth trembled and shook.
 The base of the mountains rocked back and forth.
 It trembled because the Lord was angry.
 Smoke came out of his nose.
 Flames of fire came out of his mouth.
 Burning coals blazed out of it. He opened the heavens and came down.
 Dark clouds were under his feet. 
He got on the cherubim and flew.
 The wings of the wind lifted him up.
 He covered himself with darkness.
 The dark rain clouds of the sky were like a tent around him.
 Clouds came out of the brightness that was all around him.
 They came with hailstones and flashes of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven.
 The voice of the Most High God was heard.
 He shot his arrows and scattered our enemies.
 He sent great flashes of lightning and chased the enemies away.
 The bottom of the sea could be seen.
 The foundations of the earth were uncovered.   Lord, it happened when your anger blazed out.
 It came like a blast of breath from your nose. He reached down from heaven. He took hold of me.
 He lifted me out of deep waters.
 He saved me from my powerful enemies.
 He set me free from those who were too strong for me. They stood up to me when I was in trouble.
 But the Lord helped me.
 He brought me out into a wide and safe place.
 He saved me because he was pleased with me.

Update 2020:

There's a lot of things now, looking back, that my husband and I would change if we were to go back and have a do-over. We would have prayed more firmly about our original church plant team. We had two couples join us from the beginning, and church planters warned us that our original team would leave us eventually. We were naive and thought, "No way! These are some of my husband's best friends!" One couple left us before the first year was up. The other stayed with us through thick and thin... then left after 5 years. I am grateful for both of these couples... because without them we would have never been able to get off the ground. None of us knew the depth of what we were undertaking until WE WERE IN IT. What we didn't understand was that God would send us the couples and families that we would need to survive past Year Five. These families and couples have been a complete GOD-SEND. They have been flexible... full of grace... and there for us like a true family. These are the people who I call when we're experiencing an emergency, heartache or frustration. Since this post was written, the church God planted has moved twice. We've grown, then lost people, then grown some more. We've gone through great interns and several great children's directors. But through it all, we've stayed faithful to the church that called us to plant. And we're still plugging away......Sharing Truth (through discipleship and teaching)... Giving Grace (learning to accept God's grace and give it to others)... and Loving Others (with our words and actions.)
Called Out.

Called Out.

This oneness seems to be elusive to many churches today. And I wonder if it’s because we are looking for the wrong thing when we look for a church family.