Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where Have I Been?

Nowhere, actually.  

Well, maybe that's not true.  Since my last post (yes, Greg, it was in August), I've been to the Eastern Shore of Maryland where I officiated a wedding in the middle of Hurricane Irene (that could have been a post), to Clemson University for the Clemson/Auburn football game (another potentially great post), to Atlanta for the Catalyst Conference, to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for another wedding (turned out to be windier than Hurricane Irene - go figure) and finally to Pennsylvania for a celebration of my Dad who turns 60 this weekend (watch for a post on my dad later this week).

I've been everywhere and I've been nowhere because the truth is I've simply been busy and got out of the habit of writing.

Have you ever noticed how readily we leave behind the disciplines of reflection and conscious thought when life speeds up?  I have, and I've also noticed how those absences always come back to haunt me.

So, I don't know where you've been lately or what's been keeping you up at night, but let me invite you to take a deep breath and slow down.  A little reflection, a lot of prayer and some time to think are worth their weight in gold.

I'm back...oh, and I'm pregnant :)

Monday, August 08, 2011

I Stink at Resting

Now, before you rush to judgment and think, "this is one of those posts where the writer thinks they're divulging a character flaw while really being all look-at-me, I'm so awesome I can't even stop my awesomeness to take care of myself," let me assure you, it's not.

I really stink at resting.  I waste time with the best of them.  I watch television shows that take hours of my life I'll never get back (Design Star being my newest fascination).  I play sudoku and solitaire before bed to make my brain stop doing somersaults with the information in my head.  But, I'm terrible at resting, actual God-commanded-I-feel-re-energized-when-I'm-finished resting.

Take today for example.  I had a really long week last week and worked 16 hours yesterday.  I needed to rest today and I made up my mind last night to do just that.  It started out pretty well when my son jumped in bed on top of me at 5:30 this morning and my sweet husband swept him up and took him from our room so that I could go back to sleep.  I managed to fall back asleep (a huge feat for me) and stayed asleep until 7:30.  I got up and played with Jake for awhile, ate a bowl of cereal and then headed to the gym.  Really I was too tired to go to the gym, but I told myself I would feel better after I went - I didn't.  I just felt more tired and frustrated with what had been a lame work-out b/c I was too tired to push.  I came home, showered and got dinner started in the crock-pot.  I ran two quick errands and landed, at all places, in my office.  (Again, this is not "I'm an awesome workaholic, please pity me" post).  I was not there to work.  I was there to grab lunch from the food leftover after yesterday's volunteer appreciation breakfast and lunch.  I ate, checked facebook, tried to upload our Rwanda video to youtube, failed and decided to move on.  I had a gift card to Kohl's in my purse that I thought I could go use.  I got there, realized I was too tired to get enjoyment out of walking around the store without a purpose (not unusual, I'm not a big shopper) and left.  Then I sat in my car...

I felt trapped.  My husband was at work, the babysitter was at the house with Jake and I really wanted to be at home watching a movie, falling asleep in the couch or reading a good book.  Only, I didn't want to go home where I could do those things b/c the babysitter is there and I'm worried she'll think I'm a slacker.  Plus, if I go home there will be cleaning and laundry and 80 other things that need to be done.  I contemplated going to the movie theater to see something, but there's nothing out that I want to see now that I've seen the final Harry Potter.

Now it's 1:30, I'm stressed that I only have 2 1/2 more hours before I go home and the babysitter leaves and I'm sad that I've squandered a rare opportunity to do whatever I want and simply rest.  

What's wrong with me?  Or, shall I say, "what's wrong with us?" because I'm guessing I'm not the only one like this.  We all live hectic, over-booked lives and we wait until we're at breaking point to rest and then we don't know how to do it.  Our list of "things I'll do when I get a free minute" is too long and our rest debt, much like our national debt, is too high to solve in one day.  We need to make serious changes to our lifestyle, but the truth is we're too tired to really think about it.

Hmm, I wonder if this is why God felt the need to make a regular routine of rest a command.  He knew we would be bad at it.  He knew we were just arrogant enough to believe we could go on forever without it.  So, how do we get back?  What does real rest look like?  How do we change our culture to encourage healthy, life-giving rest?

I need you blogosphere - help me.  How do you rest?  How do you help and encourage the people around you to rest?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Rwanda, Part 2

On our second day in Rwanda I tried to explain to our driver, Saidi, that where we are from in the lowcountry it is nothing like the beautiful, mountainous landscape of Rwanda, i.e. "The Land of 1,000 Hills."  Saidi told me to pick any hill I wanted in his country and I could have it as my own.  I believe he meant it.

In my life and travels thus far, I've never met people who were more proud of their country or more eager to share.  The hospitality we experienced was overwhelming from the hard-boiled eggs offered to us in Pastor Ildephonse's home, the bottled Fanta's and Coke's given to us by coffee farmers on the top of the mountain in Mbilima to even the barbequed rabbit legs cooked especially for us by the headmistress of the school in Kiryamo Parish, Bukonya. (for the record, I didn't actually eat the rabbit legs).

We went to Rwanda with the expectation of giving so much, but as is usually the case, we received so much more.  We gave them soccer balls, they gave us handmade banana leaf balls.  We gave them shoes, they showed us what it means to literally walk by faith.  We gave a home for orphans to live in, they taught us what home really means as we met widows who take in and care for children who are not their own.  We taught them to sing "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes," they sang us a song that said, "One night while I was sleeping somebody touched me, I know it was the Lord."  We paid rent for land to provide a sustenance farm and food for the orphans, they carried pineapples by the dozens on their heads up steep mountains for miles in order to offer us some sustenance for our travels.  We brought them hope, they brought us joy.
Some of the kids crowding in to say hi and welcome us to Kiryamo Parish School in Bukonya

Beans ready to harvest from the sustenance farm!
Saidi and John (my brother-in-law)

The team with our banana leaf balls.

This home will provide shelter for 12 orphans and two widows

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

RWANDA, Part One

“Rwanda was dead.”

So read the marker in the genocide museum in Kigali, Rwanda.  In 1994, over a million people were killed in the space of 90 days.  It was a people turned on itself and led to do something so horrific that the world needed to look away to survive. 

We started to glimpse the reality of the genocide on our first day as we stopped by one of many genocide memorials – little did we know getting out of our vehicle that we were about to walk into a church where 10,000 people were killed after seeking refuge in the house of God.  The wooden benches were piled high with clothes left behind to represent the lives of those who wore them.  The walls and ceiling were littered with bullet holes and dark blood stains. 

The story would be devastating if it ended there.  But we serve a God who brings life from death.  Today, Rwanda is alive again and I bring you overwhelming news that Jesus is again making a way where there seemed to be no way.

After leaving the church, our team sat in a village with a man who shared his testimony of killing some 30 or so people during the genocide.  He told us that he was dead as well, but then God forgave him.  When he sat down, the woman sitting next to him handed him her 6-month old baby who would not settle.  When we left, we were told that the same man who calmed her baby was responsible for killing several of her family members.

Forgiveness.  Reconciliation. 

Pastor Deo Gashagaza told us, “Reconciliation is not a philosophy.  It is a practice.”  He should know.  Forty-five of Pastor Deo’s family members were killed in the genocide.  He was a refugee.  When he returned to Rwanda at the end of the genocide, God called him to go into the prisons and start talking about forgiveness and love and hope.   Pastor Deo was the first pastor to go and share that message with the perpetrators of the genocide. 

Today Pastor Deo runs a Prison Fellowship Ministry in Kigali and has facilitated the establishment of several reconciliation villages throughout Rwanda where perpetrators of the genocide and people who lost their families live side-by-side, farming the same land, building homes for each other, starting again.  In addition to the Prison Fellowship Ministry, Pastor Deo runs a ministry for street kids.  Three times a week, he and his wife provide a meal for 85 kids.  Our team helped serve one of these meals.  We watched as the kids eagerly scooped up rice and spinach with their hands.  I cried as I saw one little boy eat ravenously and then move some food from his plate to his sister’s whenever she wasn’t looking.

Joy.  Hope.  Heartbreak.

This was day one of our trip. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Rwanda Countdown

We leave in 8 days - to say I'm pumped is an understatement!  Tomorrow I start taking the typhoid and malaria pills (maybe slightly less pumped about that).  

I've heard it said that the Rwandan Genocide in 1994 was the greatest tragedy of the 20th century with almost a million lives lost in only 100 days, but the recovery and reconciliation and growth of Rwanda is shaping up to be one of the greatest triumphs of the 21st century.  Right now, they're in the land between.  I don't really know how to prepare for a trip like this, but I'm guessing there will be tears of sadness mingled with tears of joy, moments of hope and moments of realization of how much there is to be done.

Check out this story put together by People of the Second Chance - 

POTSC - Emmanuels Story from TK on Vimeo.

I hope I get to meet this Emmanuel in Rwanda.

I know I will meet Emmanuel in Rwanda.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Need a Little Help for Mother's Day?

Every year you ask your mom what she wants for her birthday and/or mother's day.  And every year, you get one or both of these responses:

"Nothing," and "I just want to spend time with you."

It's so frustrating!  Here's the deal, I've been a mom now for almost 2 1/2 years and I've realized something - my mom was telling the truth!

So, this mother's day, try listening and giving your mom what she really wants.  And then take it a step farther - honor her by sharing the love she poured into you.  Here are some ways to do it:

1. Give a gift to Safe World Nexus in honor of your mom.  More than 24,000 mothers and their babies will die in Haiti this year.  Safe World Nexus is an organization committed to changing that number by building a highly functional maternity center in Port-au-Prince.  Go here to check them out.

2. If you live in Summerville, SC, give a gift to the Dorchester Children's Center and help them continue their incredible work in our community to care for abused children and provide parenting classes to help end the cycle of abuse.  Check them out here and find out all the ways you can help by visiting their wish list here.

3. Do you know anyone trying to adopt?  It's expensive!  But with millions of orphans in our world today in addition to the thousands and thousands of foster children in our nation, we need to get on board and care for these kids.  Maybe God is calling you to adopt or foster, or maybe this mother's day you can give someone else a little help in the process.

Okay, that's it from me.  If you're a mom, what's the best gift you've been given?  What are some other ways we can all honor our moms this year?

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Guys, We Need You

I spent this morning sitting on the floor in the guidance department at Ashley Ridge High School crying with counselors and students.  Last night the call came that an 18-year old young man, 14 days from the end of his hard-fought journey to graduation, had been shot and killed less than a half-mile from my house. His killer - a 17-year old who got in a fist-fight with him and then resorted to a gun to end the fight.

It's tragic on so many levels.  Tragic that a young man will never get to realize what he could have become.  Tragic that a mother will spend this mother's day burying her son.  Tragic that another young man will spend the rest of his days behind bars.  Tragic that there wasn't a father around to teach these men what true manhood is all about.

I read a book a few months back that I highly recommend called "Generation iY" by Tim Elmore, and in it, he provides the statistic that over 50% of kids today are growing up without a father in their home.   Shocking, right?  Absolutely.  And the effects of that statistic are visited for generations.

Guys, we need you.  We need strong, Godly men to step up and mentor these young men.  

So, here's the deal.  This isn't just a blog post of me expounding on the fatherless crisis in America.  This is a challenge to every guy out there who reads this and who knows other guys.  Every one of you needs to be pouring into the life of at least one other young man and challenging other guys to do the same.  Do it as a father.  Do it as a brother.  Do it as a coach.  Do it as a small group leader for 4th and 5th grade boys.  Do it as a youth leader.  Do it as a neighbor.  Do it as someone who know The Father and as such has love to pour into another.

These boys need you.  We all need you.  Guys, step up.  Please.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

From the Bookshelf
These are the super-awesome bookends my sister made for me

I just finished reading...
Forgotten God by Francis Chan - a great book on the Holy Spirit and the role of the Holy Spirit in our lives
Radical by David Platt - be prepared to have your understanding of Jesus and your lifestyle challenged in a big way

I'm currently reading...
In the Company of Others by Jan Karon - some just-for-fun fiction about one of my favorite literary characters, Father Tim
Love Wins by Rob Bell - this book has sparked a great deal of controversy.  I have always respected Bell and learned from him, so I'm reading for myself to see what the craze is about.

Next on my pile...
The Next Christians by Gabe Lyons - it's all about the redeemed being called to restore, can't wait for this one!
Fall of Giants by Ken Follett - can't believe I haven't gotten to this epic until now, might take me awhile to finish, but I'm ready to bring it on

What are you reading? What have you learned lately?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Some Tuesday Entertainment - "The Civil Wars"

If you haven't already heard about "The Civil Wars" allow me to introduce you.  They are fabulous and their newest album "Barton Hollow" is amazing start to finish.  If you are familiar with "The Civil Wars" you'll definitely enjoy this video of them having a little fun singing Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean."

Happy Tuesday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Simplicity - Week Two

My new office
Lunch date with my little man

A Saturday afternoon victory celebration for our Richmond Spiders

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Simplicity, Week One

I stopped reading a lot of blogs.  

I figured out that I had replaced a lot of my time with God and especially my time in God's Word with what other people had to say about God and church and life.  And you know what?  It was making my head too full to function.  I was inputting so much about what everyone else thinks about how to lead a church and how to be a better Christ-follower that I had no room in my life to hear what God was speaking into my heart and my life.

And so, I've turned down the noise.  I still check in for an occasional blog read at one or two of my favorites, but if I'm being honest (I'm cringing so prepare yourself for the shock of what you're about to read), in the last week I went from reading approximately 100 blog posts a week to about 5 - I had no idea I was reading that many blog posts every week!

Without realizing it, I had become obsessed with knowledge and addicted to other people's thoughts.  

Simple = fewer voices, less noise, a lot more Jesus.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

More and Less Extraordinary

One of my favorite songs is "Life Less Ordinary," by Carbon Leaf - "Live a life less ordinary, live a life extraordinary with me."  I don't know what Carbon Leaf meant when they wrote those words, but to me it's the invitation Jesus gives me everyday.  

Less ordinary, more extraordinary.

Like most things, I took that invitation as a challenge for the longest time.  I was determined to live extraordinary.  I was determined to have not a great story to tell, but the greatest and most extraordinary the world had ever heard or seen.  But, I realized something recently.  The most extraordinary story has already been lived.  It's Jesus' story.  And his invitation for me is to simply be part of it, which is pretty extraordinary if you think about it.

And so, I'm changing my mindset: to live a life more extraordinary and less ordinary I need to make my pursuit less extraordinary (confused yet?).  In other words, I need to live simply.  I want to wake up each morning in total awareness of God's grace that covers my life.  I want to know that what defines me in this world will never be what I do but whose I am.  I want my pursuit to not be the extraordinary life, but instead the Extraordinary God who is Jesus Christ. 

All day I've heard people talking about what they're giving up for Lent and I've read countless blog posts about what the season is all about, books to read, etc.  My Lenten discipline this year is simplicity.

Check back in the coming weeks to see how it's coming along.

What's your Lenten discipline?  How are you accepting Jesus' invitation to a life less ordinary and more extraordinary?

Monday, March 07, 2011


I love awkward moments, I love awkward topics and I love controversy.  I wake up every morning and think, I hope today is as awkward and uncomfortable as possible.

...Okay, so maybe not.  

But even so, yesterday I issued an invitation to our church to a season of awkwardness.  In fact, I think I even asked people to schedule some awkward in their life in the coming weeks.

You see, there are far too many elephants in our lives consuming space that we need to make for God.  The elephants are all of those awkward issues and conversations in our lives that we've been avoiding for so long.  For some people, the elephants are big, green financial elephants.  Maybe you've slowly but surely worked yourself into debt and developed spending and lifestyle habits that you don't want to address yourself let alone bring to the light with your spouse, your family or your friends.  For others, maybe the elephants are dark, shadowy hidden elephants that have to do with behaviors or decisions you've made that have left you hiding in shame.  Maybe your elephant is a bright, red warning elephant because you know you're running headlong into a bad situation, but you don't know how to stop.

It's time to name our elephants.  It's going to be awkward and it's going to be uncomfortable.  But, I believe that as soon as we name them out loud, they lose their power.  

We have a choice to make about whether we're going to let elephants run our lives, or whether we're going to surrender our lives to God.  I believe that nothing and no one has power that can stand against the incredible and almighty power of God and it's time to get the elephants our of the way so we can embrace the life Jesus gave us when He gave His up on the cross.

Awkward is, well, awkward.  No one likes, much less loves, awkward.  But I believe that on the other side of awkward is incredible.  So, bring it on elephants - you've got nothing my God can't handle, dismantle, forgive and take away!

What's your elephant?  Who do you need to schedule some awkward time with?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


Okay, so I will turn 30 this year and I realize that's not very old and my years of ministry experience pale in comparison to so many others.

However, I would like to offer some words of wisdom to those coming behind me in ministry:

Take as many business courses in your undergraduate years as possible - you will need them!

And for those of you coming behind me in any other field:

Take as many business courses in your undergraduate years as possible - you will need them!

It is quite simply the world we live in - so far today I've attended a Habitat for Humanity breakfast about funding a Disciples Build in our community, gone over the lease agreement for our student ministry space with a real estate agent, talked with a lawyer about moving from an unincorporated entity to an incorporated entity and had lunch with a banker to discuss our financial set-up and possibilities.

This certainly isn't what I do every day, or even most days, but it's all part of ministry.

Read. Know your stuff.  Be the best steward you can be of what God entrusts to you.

How's your business sense?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

An Unlikely Friendship

My good friend, Robert Morris, died yesterday.  He lived his whole life in South Carolina and spent his entire adult life as a pastor in the United Methodist Church.  He will be missed by many.

Our friendship was accidental.  He didn't come into the coffee shop looking for me nor I for him.  But the first time we were both there, we nodded a faint recognition and did that awkward thing people do when they're pretty sure they know each other but are not sure how.  He gets the credit for making the first move.  As I stood at the cash register ordering my tall skinny mocha, he walked over and said, "You're Jenn, right?  I'm Robert Morris."  

The rest is history.  He introduced me to his nephew who was looking for a new church and he told him with great certainty that he needed to come to the church I was planting.  For weeks after I would go into the coffee shop to work and see Robert there with his nephew and brother-in-law.  We would chat for a few minutes and then go to our separate tables.   After awhile, I started Wednesday morning Java with Jenn from 6:30-8:30 and eventually we fell into a routine where Robert and I would pull up on Wednesdays around the same time and start our day together.

Robert was traditional, and I am not.  Robert was a life-long southerner, and I am not (shh, don't tell).  In many ways, Robert made me think of an almost ironic blend of my father and his father.  It makes sense chronologically as I am younger than his kids and older than his grandkids.  But because the age difference didn't seem quite right, most people walking into the coffee shop would give us that look that said, "hmm, that's odd."

But, somehow, it never was.  Robert was a friend, an encourager and a confidante.  He came to our Christmas worship and his feedback was "that was interesting."  We weren't doing anything that connected with him, and yet he believed in our vision and he believed in our purpose because he believed in Jesus and he believed in Jesus' church.

My Wednesday mornings will never be the same, but I am so thankful for Robert and thankful for our friendship.  I can only pray that in the years to come I will be the kind of friend and mentor to future generations that Robert was to me.

Who are you actively encouraging right now and how are you supporting their call from God?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Can't Stand "Church People"
(After the Message)

I have been known, on occasion, to rant.  I could blame it on my vocation, or I could blame it on my estrogen, but the bottom line is, I rant.  I'm a ranter.  Set me off on the right topic and I'll tell you everything I've ever thought about it before pausing to take a breath.

It's not one of my most admirable traits, but now I've confessed and you've been duly warned.  And so, here goes my rant...

I can't stand "church people."  Who are these loathsome types?  Glad you asked.  I've devised a simple test to determine if you are a church person.

1. Are you more interested in bricks or people?
2. Are you more interested in your time with Jesus or making time for someone else to spend with Jesus?
3. Are you determined to sing the songs you like or are you willing to sing songs that capture the minds and hearts of people who don't know Jesus yet?
4. Do you think you deserve priority and preferential treatment as a church member, or do you think your primary purpose is to serve those who are not?

If you answered "a" to any, most or all of the above, you might be a "church person."  (for the record, I'm all about the Church and the people who make up the Church; hence the quotation marks denoting a specific breed)  Now, I don't claim to be holy, righteous or even all that great.  I'm a sinner saved by grace and in need of all the grace I can get each day.  However, I think I'm on pretty solid ground with this particular view.  You see, Jesus wasn't very fond of "church people" either.

In Mark 1013-16, we're told people were bringing their kids to Jesus so He could touch them.  This didn't go over well with the disciples who thought that their time with Jesus was being invaded.  After all, Jesus picked them, chose them, invited them to follow.  And, they did, at no small cost.  They gave up their livelihoods and their worldly security to follow someone they had never met.  It was their time to be with Jesus, and those rascally, unwashed kids were getting in the way.  So, they rebuked them.  They told the kids and their parents to take a hike.

"Jesus was indignant," (v. 14)

The disciples had decided it was all about them and forgotten that Jesus was pouring into them specifically so they would be able to go and reach others.

So, you know what Jesus told them to do: Move.  

Church people are the ones who forget over time that it isn't about them.  They're the ones who start to think Christianity is an exclusive club designed to meet their needs.  And Jesus wants none of that near Him.

Every one of us has a church person lurking somewhere inside.  It's the voice that says, "I want what I want.  I want to be noticed.  I want to be important.  Pick me."  

Here's the deal: Jesus did pick you.  He died for you.  And He would have done it for only you.

That's amazing.  That's incredible.

Now, don't be a "church person."  Instead, go let someone else know Jesus has picked them too.

Monday, February 07, 2011

After the Message (making a comeback)

"Be Kind." 
    It's on the wall of every daycare, elementary school and Scholastic book cover, but not once have I seen it on a company wall or in an employee manual.  When's the last time your boss called everyone in for a meeting and said, "Today's topic is kindness."

Fits in the realm of “nice” words.  In fact, February is a good time to talk about it, right? After all, February is about love and chocolate and puppies – kindness fits right in, yes?

Two problems: not the dictionary definition nor God’s definition
Dictionary – showing understanding, generous, benevolent
Romans 2:4 – God’s kindness leads us to repentance
            Whoa, that can’t mean being nice.  God didn’t try everything and then say,
“Oh, if I just say please, they’ll come back to me.”  No, God's kindness was sending His 
one and only Son to die on a cross for a bunch of people who had repeatedly mistreated 
and denied Him.

God did the unexpected, and, according to Jesus, that’s what being kind is all about

Luke 6:27-36
Golden Rule – treat others the way you want to be treated.
            So often we convince ourselves that the way we want to be treated is fairly.
            Charlie Brown: “I just want what is coming to me…I just want my fair share.”

According to Jesus, the golden rule isn't about fairness, it's about the unexpected
            Kindness is loving the person who has shown us nothing but contempt.  Kindness is about doing something good for someone who hates you.  Kindness is about giving to someone you know isn’t going to pay you back.

Reason we don’t talk about it as adults is b/c kindness isn’t fun, kindness doesn’t pay.  Kindness would put your company out of business.

And yet...

Golden Rule in action - Jesus went completely and totally out of His way for us, in the hopes that we would do the same for Him.

What would it look like for us to “be kind” this week?
            Random acts of kindness are great – paying for the person behind you in the drive thru line, letting someone go in front of you in the check-out line at the grocery store – awesome stuff

But what if this week…you gave up the grudge against the person who didn’t do right by you; you forgave the person you said you would never forgive; you were patient with the most impatient person in your life; you spent the majority of your prayer time on people who’ve mistreated you and not just your family and friends

vv. 35-36 – God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked, go and do likewise

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Some Political Thoughts on State of the Union Day

For all of the obvious reasons, I avoid political commentary on this blog.  However, some of you may know that I have a secret passion for all things political.  In college, I majored in political science and had opportunities to intern for U.S. Representative Todd Platts and the policy research and reporting group,  (If you're really interested and desperate for something to do, you can go to Stateline and search the archive for articles by Jennifer Brown :)

I realized my senior year of college that God had different plans for me than the political writing world I had envisioned.  I am so incredibly grateful for the turn my life took, but I still enjoy the political world and today I had an opportunity to write a guest review on George W. Bush's new memoir, "Decision Points," for the Gutenberg Girls blog.

Check it out here.

I highly recommend the book for people of all political persuasions and particularly for leaders in all fields.

What have you read lately that impacted you?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My Plate is Full Yet I am Empty

I know you know what I'm talking about.  

I'm talking about those times when your life is full, but your soul is empty.  You're so busy that your emotions shut down because you simply can't process anymore.  

A few more synonyms: burnt out, completely overwhelmed (this is different from overwhelmed, which is a condition I would describe as the new norm), and zapped.  

If I'm honest, I have to tell you that I get to this place about every three months.  Maybe it's because I'm a church planter.  Maybe it's because I'm a mom.  Maybe it's because I'm working on being both of those at the same time.  But probably it's because I'm human.

We like to think we're superhuman and there is always one more thing we can tack on and still make it all work.  But we're not.  We don't have an endless supply of energy and creativity, enthusiasm and passion.  At some point the tank runs dry and we need to fill up - but that can't happen by doing more "stuff," and unfortunately running away to a remote island for a week or more isn't always (or ever) a possibility.

So now what? 

A few things that help me:
1. Re-inserting the prayer time I slowly hacked out of my morning because I had "too much to do."
2. Reading a book that has seemingly nothing to do with my work and my life.
3. Doing something with my hands (i.e. wandering around the park and taking pictures or baking cookies) - I once heard Rick Warren say that if you work with your mind you need to play with your hands and if you work with your hands you need to play with your mind.  I've tried it and I think he's on to something.

What helps you re-fill?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, Clark! War Eagle!

Today is my hubby's 31st birthday and also the day that his beloved Auburn Tigers won the national championship.  To say there is great celebration in our home is an understatement.

And so, in honor of both I say what a game and what a guy!  I am blessed beyond measure to have Clark as my husband, partner, best friend and father of our son.  He is a man of great passion who loves and lives with loyalty and intensity.  

Happy Birthday, baby!  May this year be filled with joy, hope, challenge, surprise and the constant knowledge that you are loved by God (and by me :)!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Overcoming Early Setbacks

Sunday I preached about dreaming big and truly making way for the God who shuts the mouth of lions. Monday morning I blogged about it briefly, and then...

The Great Stomach Bug of 2011 hit the Williams house and the Ashley Ridge staff!

As of this morning, we are officially two full days behind at work (which feels monumental) and our energy stores generated by holiday rest and new year excitement are depleted.

It's hard to recover when you never really had traction to start with.  Often, it's the perfect excuse to let it go, decide it's not the time or not the right scenario and just get back to living day-to-day, trying to keep your head above water.

Can I suggest there's another way?  

It's still early and the good news is you haven't lost much because it's early in the game.  Give yourself time to recover, grace for a re-start and humility to call a mulligan.  Make today your new start day!

Monday, January 03, 2011

It's GO BIG 2011 - Happy New Year!

After an extended technological break, I'm back and pumped for 2011.  It's going to be an amazing year! Why? Because God is amazing and this is the year of big dreams, big prayers, big asks and big follow-thru.  It's time to see the signs and wonders the apostles saw in Acts 2 and beyond.  It's time to start praying prayers worthy of the God who shuts the mouths of lions (Daniel 6:22).  

Are you in? What are you asking God to do in your life in 2011? What are you planning to do for God this year?