Fertile grounds, tiny beginnings
I love spending the week between Christmas and New Year’s reflecting on where God has been working and visualizing where He might be leading. 2016 has been a season of planting. So many fresh promises are beginning to peak their heads above our carefully tilled soil. I have a love/hate relationship with new beginnings. I love them because they are new, exciting, promising and I hate them because to embrace the new season of life you must also embrace the old season of death. I used to hang on to current circumstances for dear life, but as my trust in the goodness of my Father grows so does my anticipation for what new life will bring.
As a family we ventured into a new season of church planting. This is definitely something I never saw coming. With the launch of Anthem House Church we have been able to come back to what feels like home and it’s even better than I ever imagined. Our Anthem family are friends we look forward to living life together, chasing Jesus hard and extending an invitation to join us at the Father’s table to everyone we meet. I had a dream about five years ago and in it I was doing ministry with Alton and Dustin. When I woke up, I knew eventually we would end up back together, but never in a million years would I have scripted the story line this way. Still, here we are, following Jesus, building a family, making disciples and doing our best to partner with Him in bringing His Kingdom.
The Father put on my heart early last year a move was coming in our future. He definitely stepped up His game and knocked it out of the park with this one. There could not be a house more perfect for our family. He took every need we had and blew our minds. Dave needed an extra garage for His landscaping and remodeling business. Not only did he get an extra garage, he got an extra 8 car garage! We’ve dreamed for years of having a small piece of property, but definitely wanted to stay close to the girl’s school. Never did I imagine, 1.5 miles from our current home, the perfect house was being prepared for us. Dave has a garage and I have a beautiful prayer room. The girls have great space to ride their go-card, lay in their hammocks and make memories for years to come. It is already become a place of retreat and rest for us.
The ending of my leadership role in the Awaken Women’s Conference at the Cincinnati Vineyard was very hard for me. I poured my heart and soul into creating a women’s conference where women could encounter the love of their Father in a transforming way and leaving it behind was one of the hardest parts. I loved the vision and purpose and even more I loved the people I got to chase it down with. Sometimes letting things go on without you is the best thing for everyone involved and even though I didn’t want to believe it, it appeared to be true for Awaken. Almost a full year after stepping away from Awaken I was approached with a leadership opportunity for the Renewal Women’s Conference.
God doesn’t ask for something, He doesn’t intend to replace in better ways. He wasn’t playing with my heart when He called me to surrender. He was preparing my hands for His future invitation. I am so excited for what’s ahead for Renewal. To construct a team and chase after what it looks like to build a community of women hungry for spiritual transformation brings me so much life. Registration is open already. I would love for you to join me this April. Renewal Women
So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day
2 Corinthians 4:16
I believe in this organization so much. Matt Tebbe helped me embrace the journey of hearing and responding to the voice of the Father in ways I never imagined possible. He introduced me to a new understanding of my purpose and the power found in recognizing God is first a Father, in love with a daughter. My world flipped upside down when I realized how much God delights in me. I don’t have to strive and perform to get His attention. I simply need to rest in His arms.
Gravity is just getting started. The church needs leaders who will stop seeing people for what they can do and start seeing them for whom they have been created for. To put aside the quick fix answers and embrace the long term, unknown seasons of relational discipleship is to do what Jesus did. I grow so much when I pull out a chair and sit around a table with this group.
“We help start Jesus-shaped movements by training leaders to lead like Jesus, live on mission, and multiply disciples.”
This might be the thing I am most excited about. I’ve spent the entire year praying through, processing and scripting my story of digging deeper with Jesus. Jesus and I have been breaking ground and uprooting false identities, many of which I had no clue about until our family transitioned away from the Cincinnati Vineyard in a move we never saw coming.
Jesus never choses working for over working with. He is all about relationship. He loves us so much. He out loves anything I could do, any talk I might give or book I will write. He out loves each of my failures and all of my short comings. He out loves me on my good days and out loves me on my bad days. When I dig deep enough to expose any false identities convincing me I need to perform or produce for His love, He will replant and replenish in abundant ways. Planted firmly in a foundation of His love we no longer have to fear the winds and fire the world throws our way. We will consistently produce fruit regardless of outer circumstances.
Deeper roots lead to steady, strong confident trees. Healthy trees produce abundant fruit. When we live lives with abundant fruit the world around us benefits from the Jesus within us.
I don’t know the details of publishing this book yet, but I am praying for God to open the right door. I am asking for faith to trust He already has the perfect plan ahead this year. (the digging deeper link above takes you to an insert from the book.)
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
8 They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-10, NIV
All these new beginnings came from really hard endings, but with each little breakthrough we understand more and more about the promises of our Father. My family is thriving. There is so much joy in our home. So much unity in our relationships and so much hope for our future. It’s not easy, but it’s rewarding. We see His faithfulness all over these new beginnings and we are asking for even more.
“Take us deeper Jesus. Open our eyes to any foundation not coming from your love. Show us more of who you are. Keep our hearts soft and our soil ready. We want depth. Depth in relationship. Depth in understanding. Depth in insight.”
The desires of my heart have changed. I want the same things I’ve always wanted, I just want them differently. I’m not interested in width, numbers, temporary fixes or even the easy road. Sacrifice, surrender and obedience are no longer bad words. They are inviting words. Welcomed words and challenging words because there’s always more. We can always sacrifice more. We can always surrender more and our surrender will always lead us into deeper obedience.
These past few years have been about getting all the way in. Letting go of our outer security, inner need for acceptance and fear of unknown futures. I’m in. I’m all in because connected to Him even my failures produce fruit. He doesn’t step out as I step in either, He actually steps up and joins in. Doing this together makes all the difference in the world. It’s everything it was meant to be and the more we do it the more we want it. I can’t believe I used to think anything I had going on was better than anything He was doing.
“From the very first day, we were there, taking it all in—we heard it with our own ears, saw it with our own eyes, verified it with our own hands. The Word of Life appeared right before our eyes; we saw it happen! And now we’re telling you in most sober prose that what we witnessed was, incredibly, this: The infinite Life of God himself took shape before us.We saw it, we heard it, and now we’re telling you so you can experience it along with us, this experience of communion with the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ. Our motive for writing is simply this: We want you to enjoy this, too. Your joy will double our joy!”
1 John 1:1-4
2017 take us deeper because we want more. Take us into places of relationship, freedom, restoration and redemption. Take us into places of breakthrough. Give us more revelation, more insight, more understanding. Build our family. Build our missional community. Build Anthem House. Build our ministry. Not up, but down. Build us down deeper into you than ever before. Build us so deeply rooted in you we can be strong. Strong enough to produce fruit for the world around us to benefit from even during the hardest times. Fruit of hope, fruit of peace, fruit of love, unity, kindness, goodness, self-control. Fruit of righteousness. Fruit of joy! Because this is supposed to be fun!
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 All who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.”
1 John 3:1-3
I need Him so much more than I ever have. The deeper we go, the more aware I am of my inability to do absolutely anything apart from Him. He is everything . He has all I know of myself and as I continue to know more about myself, I will continue to push for more. What are your prayers for 2017?