dots and stars

I haven’t written in a few days. This blogrimage may have been my worst in terms of consistency, haha!

As I’ve done a mediocre job of publically reflecting on my last year, I have spent some significant good time reflecting privately and between my husband and me.

A good friend sent my family a book a week or so ago called, “You are Special.” It’s a children’s book and while she noted that it was for Obi, she also felt like in general, our family was special to her. So kind!

For the last week, I have read this book out loud to Obi every day. And it just dawned on me today the timing and relevancy of this book for my own life.

The book is about this village full of wooden people who received stars or dots depending on their looks, experiences, talents, etc. Stars were good and dots were bad.

One little wooden boy only ever got dots because he just wasn’t anything special to the people who saw him and interacted with him.

One day he met a wooden friend who didn’t have any dots or stars on her and had never seen anyone like that before.

After asking her why she didn’t have any, her response was that they fall right off her. She told this little wooden boy to go see Eli, the craftsman who made all the wooden people and he could help him too.

So he went to Eli and he saw all the dots on him. He reminded him how much he cared for the boy and loved to spend time with him. He told him that it didn’t matter what anyone thought of him except himself, the creator.

Sure enough, this truth got in the little wooden boy’s heart and his dots began to fall off. He realized that accepting the truth about him based on what his creator ultimately thinks helped him decide what really matters or “sticks” or not.

Isn’t that story like us?

This last year has been a year full of dots and stars for me. I think more STARS than dots! But the few dots that stuck were quite heavy. My dots weren’t even necessarily what people thought or didn’t think of me as much as just hard life realities that happened and reminded me I need my creator.

 

 

 

 

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Soul Click Chick Pt. 2, Day 21

While I never intended to write a Part 2 to SOUL CLICK CHICK, so much more happened in my heart as I wrote the first one. And some of you have written such sweet words about how I articulated some things you had been feeling for quite some time. Thank you for sharing with me. I’m so thankful for girl world, the place where we help each other realize what we’re feeling and move forward in God together closer than we were before.

Maybe this will be impacting for you but maybe it’s just therapeutic for me. And that’s okay too.

I title Part 2 Survival Mode.

For the last 6 years, I’ve had the opportunity to work with women in poverty in SE Asia. It’s a work I don’t take for granted and feel SO HONORED to be a part of. These ladies are some of my favorite people in the whole world! When I first met them and their families and assessed their desperate situations for basic human needs, my team and I used the term “Survival Mode.” Their world was about working hard labor jobs to earn barely enough money to feed their children. The future for them was trying to live one day at a time among harsh conditions of poverty. It was all about your own family’s survival rather than pulling for each other.

Survival Mode = living one day at a time, inability to see a preferred future, dog eat dog world, just making it

Thankfully, over the years God has done a miraculous work among this community of women! Their bravery, hard work and willingness to accept the truth about who Jesus is and who THEY are because of him has transformed them to grow out of survival mode.

More on that another time!

The term Survival Mode came to my mind in the church girl culture conversation because something happened to me at church that brought about a survival mode kind of behavior and I wonder if you’ve found yourself responding similarly to your hurt.

I was so excited for the new ministry opportunity that had presented itself to my husband and I. I respected, honored and looked up to the leadership tremendously!

One evening the leaders of the church were together and my husband and I received a prophetic word. The only prophetic word that was given in front of the group that evening; a group I didn’t know very well but was excited to know in the years to come. Part of the prophetic word was just for me, given by a woman leader in the church. I’ll never forget that word as she singled me out from my husband.

It was unforgettable not because of its edification but because of its harshness. I mean like, rip my heart out, destroy my dreams and passions kind of harshness. In fact, I started crying in the middle of the word before she was even finished, leading those around me to believe God’s spirit was really touching me…..but I was actually destroyed. I felt humiliated in front of a group of people I was hoping to get to know and be accepted by AND I was devastated because it was a prophetic word so it must be true about me, right? It must be what God thinks.

I had learned growing up and even in my own Biblical study that the prophetic is for the edification of the body of believers. These words are often encouraging, life-giving, foretelling and connect individuals to God’s purpose for their lives in an even greater way. I even believe sometimes there can be a word of correction if given in love and again, for the purpose of edification.

This wasn’t even a word of correction. I WISH! I CAN TAKE CORRECTION! No. This word, dare I say, was a word of lies that caused for the next few years of my life, confusion, self-doubt, discouragement and many many many tears of sadness, anger and struggle.

In fact, the days leading up to being an ordained Pastor, these crushing words came back to me and I fought with God’s TRUTH the lies that whispered to me that I wasn’t good enough to be a church planter, a pastor, a co-founder of a company, a mother, a humanitarian…on and on and on because a church leader, who I thought heard directly from God on my behalf spoke over me words that hurt me to the core.

Did you know that the enemy can use Christian people to advance his plans for destruction in your life? The Bible actually says Satan prowls around us ready to steal, kill and destroy us. Using a Christian leader to bring such harsh lies about myself and God’s view of me is the epidemy of an enemy that prowls. He used someone I respected, a wolf in sheep’s skin so to speak.

Thankfully, I grew up with parents and a church that taught me that not all prophetic words are true. They reminded me that the scriptures say, we prophesy in part. That it’s important to always take words your receive to the WORD of GOD and make sure they line up with the scriptures.

In the days and years to come, unrelated to my experience, I watched this leader in ministry and decided she was not someone I would allow myself to be influenced by. Who you allow to influence you is extremely important.

There was no safe person to process this with me in my church context at the time. I responded to this ugly prophetic word by behaving insecurely at times, putting on a happy face but really hurting inside, confused about whether this place was good or bad, living one day at a time, just trying to make it through. My guard was up, my walls were high and thick and it resulted in me burying my true spirit, who I was, and what I was capable of.

Survival Mode.

On my own.

My struggle in the darkness.

My happy church mask on.

Eventually, I became angry. And decided church girls were not a place for me. Not that I was better or too good for them, but I believed I would need to protect myself from them, especially women in church leadership, pastors, people who give prophetic words, certain “super spiritual” girls.

I was coming to unhealthy conclusions.

You know what hurting people do?

They hurt others.

I knew that if I didn’t let God touch this place in my heart and my unhealthy thoughts about church girls, I would become the kind of church girl that hurt others.

So I dealt with what happened (another story for another time that involved a trip to New York City!) and I bravely chose to believe the truth. The truth that church girl culture doesn’t have to be what I experienced. The truth that I am empowered to create something different and better and beautiful with my influence.

In fact, now standing on the side of being a church leader and pastor myself, I pray often that Jesus would be with me and with those that I hurt. Because I’m not perfect and while it kills me to accept it, I will hurt others. And there will be girls who write blogs about what I as their woman pastor said or didn’t say, did or didn’t do that broke their hearts.

It’s important for our healthy church girl cultures to be healed from girl pain, pain we caused each other in the name of spirituality.

It’s important to consider what it’s like being in the other girl’s shoes. Some days I thought this church leader who spoke those words over me must’ve been out to get me or just didn’t like me. And other days I think maybe that’s really what she thought she heard. Either way, my truth came. And it meant letting this prophetic word fall to the ground. If only I would’ve done that years ago!

It’s important that we see each other’s sameness. Something I preached on a couple weeks ago. The lines we see that make us better or worse than another girl at church simply aren’t as strong as we believe. They are human. They are girl. And they, like you, have inherent value.

It’s important for our healthy church girl cultures to pull for each other and not merely survive on our own. We have to take our heartache to the person who caused it, sharing in love that they hurt us, forgiving them and not shying away from awkward conversations that really have the power to bring us closer together.

Don’t let your unhealed wounds and offense hide under your attempts at having a right relationship with Jesus only to find yourself hurting another sister the way you were once hurt.

Do you know a girl in church in survival mode? Is she covering it up so well you can’t tell?

Our church girl cultures are about to be filled with light! With love for each other and a true sense of authentic care for one another.

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Obi and his pal Linda 🙂

 

 

Day 18, 19 & 20

OMG. I didn’t blog for 2 days! I usually try to get something up, even if it’s dumb! My excuses are lame but nonetheless, reasons why I didn’t make it the last couple of days. Sunday’s are INCREDIBLE in my world but also SO exhausting sometimes my body hurts! How’s that for dramatic?!

Then Monday came and it was like one of those Monday’s where the busyness felt like a bulldozer crushed me and I kid you not, I was laying in bed almost asleep when I realized I hadn’t blogged for the 2nd night! There was NO WAY after I had just gotten warm and cozy in bed that I was going to move my body to grab my computer and blog.

To be honest, I wrote a huge blog post today but I’m having second thoughts about posting it. My battery is about to die and I’m still contemplating….

Here’s a photo of Obi for now! Happy Tuesday everyone!

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Soul Click Chick, Day 17

While I haven’t yet formulated all my thoughts on this subject, it feels like something God is stirring in me during this new baby church plant. And I’m thankful for it because I think it really matters.

The subject I’m referring to is Church Girl Culture.

It’s a real thang!

And I believe every woman leader/pastor in the church should periodically assess the health of this particular and oftentimes subtle subculture.

Whether we’ve really taken time to think about it or not, I believe every church has a girl culture.

When I was in Jr. High, I was not popular in my Sunday school class. All the girls in the class were from the same school but I went to another school. There was one girl who didn’t like me and she was the ringleader. Needless to say, I went home from church crying every Sunday.

I couldn’t wait to be in the high school youth group where kids from all different schools came together to love God and bring their friends to church! That did eventually happen for me and seriously, THANK GOD FOR HIGH SCHOOL YOUTH GROUP! Those were some of my most formable spiritual moments as a young person, where I not only felt accepted and loved, but I became a ringleader who tried my best to be inclusive.

As an adult, I have been apart of 4 different churches where I have not only attended regularly, but I have had opportunities to serve and lead. And every church had its church culture and every church had what I call “church girl culture.” Some were awesome! And some reminded me of Jr. High.

What I’ve realized about us women is that there’s often much more going on in the atmosphere between us than what’s being verbalized. Ever thought you were picking up on another girls vibe, internalized it, made a conclusion and later realized all of it was bogus? It was all in your head and how you interpreted what that girl did or sometimes didn’t do mattered so much that it affected you more than it probably should have?

While I know this doesn’t just happen in church, the church can be one of the most brutal environments for us women. A place where our comparison game is confronted hardcore. Where our insecurities feel so raw and tender AND our greatest enemy……pride, makes sure no-one sees it, hears it or smells it…..leaving places in our heart, isolated, confused and hurt.

Don’t get me wrong, we lift our hands in worship and we bow our knees in prayer surrendering to Jesus all these insecurities and feelings we fight…..but the truth is, Jesus is asking for more.

While he loves that we’re bringing him into our wrestling, I sense over and over again in my life, Jesus wants me to invite other girls into these vulnerable and sometimes shameful places inside me. (James 5:16 is on point here!) I often beg God…”Can’t I just work this out with YOU and the WORD and the power of the Holy Spirit? Do I have to bring others into the secret immature embarrassing thoughts and struggles inside me? I’ll read another book about my identity in Christ and then I won’t have these problems anymore.”

Last week a new girl came to our small group. One of her friends, who regularly attends brought her because she felt in her heart that her friend could really benefit from Godly community. This new girl came unsure of what to expect; judgy Christian girls, open minded girls who wouldn’t be offended by her swear words or hopefully, possibly, girls who would just be kind and caring.

As the new girl told us about how she became friends with the friend that brought her, she said this, “Molly (fake name), is my soul click chick.”

“We met a while ago and while I have friends all around me who don’t love God, Molly does and it felt like we were soul sisters who just clicked!

And I had an ah-ha moment!

SOUL CLICK CHICK

The language stood out to me so significantly as she shared her story.

I realized that among all her friends, it was the girl in her life who loved Jesus that she felt a SOUL connection with. The kind of connection I believe God breathes on so he can reveal himself through the bonds of a friend who will accept you for you are. Ever had one of those?

Click. Not to be confused with clique, which we all know can be an unhealthy reality of church girl culture. No, she said, click. Click like when I click the remote control and the tv turns on. Instant. Quick. Happens easily. Don’t you love meeting other girls you just click with?!

Chick. My favorite part; Women, Girlfriends!, Sisters.

Girls in church have been some of the most incredible friends, leaders and powerful relationships in my life. But they’ve also been some of the most painful. Sometimes it was what girls/women/leaders did and sometimes it was what they didn’t do that I remember so vividly and still need Jesus healing touch for. And sometimes it was just me. Thinking I needed to make sure the girl beside me knew I was more spiritual than her, or thinking the girl beside me was more spiritual than me and feeling inferior. (Read that sentence a couple more times) Are you guilty of these thoughts or behavior?

As a Pastor, who never imagined I’d be a pastor back in those Jr. High days, a deep prayer in my heart is to lead our church girl culture to be beautiful. To be an atmosphere where there’s always room for one more. No matter her look, her weight, her sexual identity, her style, her vibe or her potty mouth. 🙂

There’s something God can do in us ONLY when we open up to another girl. Another valued and cherished daughter of the King, who whether she knows it or not, has the ability to love and accept the girl beside her as she presses through her own real struggles.

And there’s a mission in the world God has that only women who come together can fulfill. I believe this with all my heart, especially this past week as I watched via social media the message and passion of a girls conference called, Colour. Their mission? To be a gathering of women that remain, at her core, about those less fortunate.

We don’t always see each other as sisters very quickly. I have a sister and she is my best friend. No one will have the place in my heart she does. The bond of sisterhood is so precious and not easily come by. But friendship. Friendship is sweet and deep and powerful and rich in love and care. That we can do! Until we become……..sisters.

Practically, how do we create healthy girl culture in our churches? A smile goes a long way, even to the girl who never smiles back. A seat saved for a friend, more like 5 seats saved, so a couple new girls can join in. Conversations with the girl who never seems that interested but one day you realize, your attempt made all the difference Sunday after Sunday after Sunday. Prayerfully and carefully interpret the vibes you think you’re picking up. And finally…..Invitations! Invitations! Invitations! Girls want to be INCLUDED. If I’ve learned anything, it’s this. For many of us to understand the inclusion and love of Jesus, sometimes it takes a genuine girlfriend to share his love first. If we’re honest, each of us has a girl or two that is hard to be around, really hard, often exhausting that we just don’t want to spend with……those girls especially, need us not to give up on them.

May we be aware of church girl culture. May we be intentional about its reality in our midst. And may girls experience the beauty of Jesus as we encounter one another. There are soul click chicks among us! May we truly see each other and may our bond be so strong, it impacts the world.

 

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Me and Obsi on a Sunday morning at Kalos!

Easter prep, Day 16

Today we ran around and put up yard signs all around our city to invite people to church on Easter! It was so fun to do this with my family.

I feel like God loves when we do the work ourselves. And with help.

Here’s a fun pic of Obi in the car with signs all around him!

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Date night, Day 15

Every week my husband and I go on a date night. Our sweet friend Rachael watches Obi on these evenings and we go out to dinner and often times for drinks afterward. It’s so fun and so good! We are a normal couple and not every moment in our marriage is wonderful. There are date nights where we just need to argue something out. But we call those date nights a success as well.

I’m so thankful to be able to say this last year after moving and church planting that we never missed a date. In the rare occasion that it couldn’t be on Thursday, we made sure to have a date lunch or make it up somehow.

Thankful for marriage, for date night and for habits that keep us close to one another. 🙂

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Here’s a family picture with our city in the background!

Wednesdays, Day 14

Wednesday’s have become such an awesome night for me. While I’ve been apart of many church small groups in my past, whether leading or attending. I think this one I’m currently apart of is one of my all-time favorites!

It’s called Girls Night In! We know it’s cheesy but there just wasn’t a more accurate description!

We drink wine. We discuss/learn/teach through a book called FINDING I AM by Lysa Terkeurst and we pray for each other. We laugh. We cry. We fight for authenticity and a truly life-giving time together.

Already a few girls that first came to our small group started coming to Kalos Church, so special! Girls have been freed of darkness and secrets kept in their hearts for so long. And the truth of God’s word is deeply impacting our lives.

I shared a few weeks ago how I want to make sure we don’t have another gathering or space in our lives where we put on masks. We have committed this time to be a place where masks and walls and shame and all those difficult things don’t keep us from experiencing Jesus love….together.

Among the craziness of my calendar, Wednesday’s have become a treasure. 🙂

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This isn’t Obi! It’s baby P! Gotcha!

Family Overnighter’s, Day 13

During this last year, we realized we needed to find a consistent way of “getting away.” Not because we don’t LOVE our lives and the mission God has allowed us to be on but because for me personally (my husband is a bit different on this), I don’t feel free from the weight and intensity of our lives unless I’m away from it all. I don’t want to be away from it most of the time. But sometimes I need a break. Not like a vacation or even a long weekend, but like a “catch my breath” kind of break.

So one time we decided to go overnight somewhere quick just because we didn’t want to drive back the same day. And I realized 2 things!

  1. One night away makes a HUGE difference for me! I feel like I’ve gotten away without much time spent away and it breathes life back into my soul! Just 1 night of freedom from it all! Not even an entire weekend.
  2. There are so many incredible places to visit in Washington within driving distance! So many mountains, lakes, and the ocean.

We found this super cheap cabin up by Mt. Rainier that although smells a bit like a sock in the rooms, is affordable for us. We’ve gone there a few times and excited to venture out this summer to new places with cheap airbnb’s in mind.

While we’ll still take a once a year vacation and a weekend trip for our anniversary, 1 overnighter once a month is doable and clears my head.

Most importantly, while we don’t spend a lot of money, we do spend a lot of time together.

Below are some photos of Obadiah during our last overnight adventure! Playing with rocks, his favorite.

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Mom Guilt, Day 12

Like we need to suffer from any more guilt in our lives! Ammiright?!

Mom guilt became a real thing for me this last year of church planting, a full-time job and all the craziness of settling into our new city. It’s that feeling that I get when I’ve put other priorities over the priority of my son; something I don’t mean to do and am totally against.

For instance, he’s at that age where he wants to PLAY WITH SOMEONE! Which is so adorable and such a fun stage. But I find myself trying to check my email and play at the same time, which really turns into me checking my email and Obi crawling all over things, pulling my sweater or fussing for the TV because clearly, Mom is busy.

Or Sunday’s when he doesn’t wake up to Mom or Dad but to a friend who gets him ready in the morning and brings him to church because we head to church early (btw: I don’t actually think he cares about this because he loves our friend SO MUCH!).

Here are some ways I’ve learned to diminish mom guilt:

  1. Grace. I give myself grace. Because while he may have watched an episode or two more of Word Party than necessary, I feel so blessed that he and I can spend the day together. Many times our days are filled with business, but I remember that Obi is watching his mom work hard and live with purpose.
  2. I’ve learned when to stop working. I found myself getting frustrated with OBI but only in the moments when I’m trying to multitask. So I choose to remember he’s not my frustration but those moments are God reminding me of my priorities…so I literally close my computer with emails not yet answered and text messages on my phone not looked at and give him my full attention so HE SEES that I deliberately chose him over my work.
  3. Nanny Becca. I hired one of my good friends to come spend two days a week with Obi while I go work. I am very intentional with those 2 days so that I can get as much done as possible without any interruptions. So the days I’m with Obi, much of my work is done.
  4. I let other people have quality time and build a close relationship with Obi. While his Dad and I are the most important relationships he can have, I allow others who love our family and love our Obi to be and feel close to him too. They say it takes a village to raise your children. We live that mentality not only because it’s incredibly healthy and helpful in our season of life but because we believe in it! Obi is a happy and thriving little boy and I believe this has a lot to do with it!
  5. When I feel guilty, I get with Obi. I love on him. I get eye level with him. I give him my time and full attention. And I let that guilt go right out the window. 🙂

 

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My little man bun angel!

6 Months, Day 11

I need one more day to recover from travel and preaching!

Here’s to 6 months at Kalos Church!!!  So thankful for all God is doing!

The boys looking cool at the airport!  HAHA!

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