I know I owe you guys the rest of the story…and I will pick it up soon….I promise! Coming soon!!!
Recently, I have been borderline obsessed with listening to the David Crowder Band….anything and everything I can get my hands on! This song especially has been speaking to me. Like me, there are many of us who are struggling with the stuff that this earthly life brings…..job loss, death, uncertainty, addictions, depression, loss of childhood, abuse, cancer, financial strain, prison, lack of identity, sickness, weakness, relationship issues and strife, etc.
This songs serves to remind me…and YOU that He never lets go…..He is with you (and me) always. anywhere. everywhere. He’s got you! 24.7.365.
Swirl. That describes what is going on inside my head right now. Louis and I have been in a bit of a Swirl lately, but I think it’s going just a little faster after the last week. So much information, so many dreams and thoughts just swirling after 3 days at Exponential 10. It is good to just relax, play and laugh after such an intense time. Louis and I had an AMAZING afternoon at Aquatica yesterday. Then, after a light dinner we took a dip in the hot tub and sat by the pool talking about what was going on in our heads and hearts…unpacking a little of what is swirling. (We are having to do that a little at a time.) Now, today we are off to SeaWorld in a few minutes today. Shamu! Shamu!
So, you are probably wondering what is swirling around. Let me give you a little peek.
We stayed with a large group of friends from the Titus Institute of Church Planting, who Louis met a few years ago at the conference. So, most evenings we were able to hang out with other like-minded folks and talk about what we experienced. In addition, we also got to spend time with Wayne Krause, Louis’ friend and church planter from Australia. What a blessing it was to hang out with and chat with all of Louis’ old friends and getting to know some new ones as well. I enjoyed this as much as I did hearing people like Shane Claiborne, Francis Chan, Mark Batterson, Matt Chandler (We are praying for you, Matt!!!), Neil Cole, Alan Hirsch, Louie Giglio, Ken Blanchard, Efrem Smith, Brenda Salter McNeil and sooo many others!!!
Francis Chan’s story was one of the most moving and convicting for Louis and me. The video from the conference isn’t available just yet, but here is his sermon from Sunday when he discussed how the Lord has been moving in his life and the lives of his family recently. It is very similar to what he talked about at Exponential. I think many of us would agree that God is moving in a lot of us in a very similar way. Sermon: Surrender Listen to it and….welcome to the SWIRL! Let me know if we aren’t alone in this….what you are thinking…
Swirling with the Lord, Mart
This was written about noon today, Although we arrived here about 6:30p, I just got online to post it! We just got back to the villa from a wonderful mexican meal with our friends Bill and Miriam…
On the road to Orlando, by way of Charlotte! It’s Sunday morning, and Louis and I left Richmond Saturday for Charlotte to celebrate Mama’s (Louis’ mom) birthday. IPod Genius Mix rocked Hillsong United, David Crowder Band, Mercy Me and Chris Tomlin. This morning, we are chillin’ to a little John Mayer and Steve Tyrell. This afternoon, it will have to be a little more energetic, as we continue this 8-9 hour drive!!!
It’s interesting how music plays an important role in our lives and makes a significant impact on how we feel. ..whether we feel like rockin’, chillin’, worshiping or enjoying the silence. There was a time in my life that I couldn’t STAND silence. Music or TV or something had to be making some noise all the time…even when I slept…the TV was on.
At some point early in my time living in SBH that I learned to really enjoy the quiet…silence. Now I come to expect some time of nothingness. It is during this time that I hear the gentle hushed whisper of my Lord. Before, He really had to YELL at me to get my attention. Now, I look forward to those quiet still times where we can commune together.
Even on the road trip…there are times when the car is full of silliness and laughter. There are others where we are chatting and planning. And still other times where it is just quiet. No music. No voices. Just us and the road.
We are heading to Orlando for a conference….Exponential 2010. Monday – Thursday we will be among 2-3 thousand other people at the largest gathering of church planters and leaders in the world. Louis has been a few times before, but this is my first time. We are looking forward to:
- Praising God for how He is moving throughout the world.
- Gleaning from the words of people like Francis Chan, Neil Cole, Dave Ferguson, Matt Chandler, Alan Hirsch and so many others as the Lord uses and speaks through them.
- Hearing what is new and exciting around the world in church planting?
- Catching up with some of Louis’ contacts and friends he has made over the years.
- Hearing from the Lord. What does He have for us? What divine appointments? What words of wisdom? What’s next, God?
- Talking to each other about our future in church planting.
We also hope to run into the Wagler’s and the Snook’s while we are there, too! I am so glad that they will be able to experience this conference as well and look forward to exchanging notes and thoughts with them when we return to Richmond and Commonwealth Chapel.
Then, we will take a few days off to just play around Orlando…chillaxin’ and sunnin’ pool side, heading to SeaWorld, Aquatica, etc. Bill and Miriam, our friends from Clifton Forge will also be in Orlando playing this week, and we can’t wait to have time to relax with them.
For the last few months, I have been attending my church and Louis’ church. This morning was my first Sunday off from church since Lent started. It really got me thinking about the meaning of taking a Sabbath. Although I am so glad I went to church with Louis each Sunday, I learned that I missed my Sunday Sabbath tremendously.
When Louis and I first started dating, I did not start attending his church. As we got more serious, we also talked about what would happen once we got engaged and got married. The last thing I would want to do is offend him or his congregation. I was (and am) heavily involved in my church, Commonwealth Chapel. In addition, they have a Saturday night service. Since this service started, I quickly drew fond of the time and it became my regular worship time. It was the beginning of my Sabbath. My Sunday mornings became a precious time between me and the Lord.
After much discussion and prayer, Louis and I decided that I would continue to take Sunday’s off of traditional church. I know many of you might judge me saying…”You don’t go to church with your husband?” and “You’re a pastor’s wife?” “Bad wife!” That’s ok…judge away! :o) But, my Sunday mornings were a form of worship, not just in the way most people would look at it. I am so grateful for our church family at Louis’ church for understanding!! And, we get to see each other about once a month when I attend there and we often do visitation together.
Knowing that I am home on Sunday mornings, Everett (the Gardna) started to visit with me as well. We would cook breakfast together, read the word and watch some Bobby Jones Gospel together on TV. We had “church” together just about every Sunday morning. (I am NOT advocating doing this as the only form of worship for any length of time. Yes…you CAN meet with the Lord any time…day, night, weekend, but there is nothing that replaces the fellowship of gathering together for worship!) Everett would eventually fall asleep on the couch, and the Lord and I continued on together. Sunday’s totally rocked! A true day of rest. In retrospect, it reminds me of the parable of the Lost Sheep. The shepherd left the other 99 to go after the 1. I was going after my 1….Everett. Then, my Sunday’s changed.
After Frank progressed out of ICU, Frank and I mainly spent Sunday mornings together. This allowed Vicky a morning off and Geraldine could worship at her church. Thankfully, Commonwealth Chapel has Saturday evening services. But, even if they didn’t…I wouldn’t have changed these moments with Frank for anything! It was just the 2 of us…no distractions. The first morning I went, Frank said something like it’s Sunday, are we doin’ church or what? So, each Sunday morning, Frank and I would spend time reading the Bible and discussing what it meant. Sometimes he would ask me to help him bathe, clean the blood out from under his nails, assist him in going to the bathroom….all kinds of personal stuff.
For some reason, he would rather me assist him than his nurse. Although it was awkward for me at first and I would resist big-time, the Lord would hear NONE of my excuses (and neither would Frank for, that matter), and I was reminded of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. I learned to perform these tasks with joy and love, and it became an intimate and bonding time for us. I learned what the Lord was modeling that day….service.
We talked about all kinds of things…getting real. Our pasts. Our lives. Our hopes. Our dreams. It wasn’t long before Frank was asking me about what was going on with Louis and me. I often wonder if he just wanted to get the subject and focus off of him and onto someone or something else. So, he too could see that Louis and I were “meant to be”. He also came up with my nickname…”Angel”, short for Guardian Angel. Through our talks and his conversations with others, Frank began to learn what God had done for him….how much God loved him and had a plan for his life.
As much as Frank understood and had truly accepted what the Lord had done for him, we talked about how life outside of the hospital would not be easy. When Frank finally got out, the pull of the street and his past and the realities and struggles of living a righteous life was strong. I have heard time and time again, that if you want to make a change…then you have to change your people, places and things. If you don’t…it is nearly impossible.
Well, we would learn what would happen when Frank didn’t change his people, places and things…
Louis and I continued to get to know one another. Our relationship with Frank, Geraldine, Vicky, the kids and the rest of the family continued to grow as well. Frank graduated from the Trauma ICU to a progressive care unit and eventually to the rehab unit where he would spend most of the day in physical therapy to gain his strength and use of his legs.
One of my favorite memories was celebrating Vicky’s birthday just a little over a month after the shooting! This was a great time of fellowship….and danger! Admittedly, we didn’t think about the potential hazards of having a birthday cake with a bunch (I won’t say how many, Vicky!!!) of lit candles on the cake, when Frank’s roommate had oxygen going. Note to self….NOT A GOOD IDEA! Let’s just say that the smell of smoke got the nurses a jumpin’. <:) But, the Lord spared us of all danger that evening and the staff was full of grace! Thanks for not kicking us out, MCV!!!
Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage LIVE
With funny man Mark Gungor
Fri 7-10 pm and Sat 9 am-12:30
Sponsored by First Things First at Mt Gilead Church, Chesterfield (off Hull St)
This is a marriage conference like you have never seen and there are “No Workbooks.” Take a humorous look at the differences between men and women to help understand and appreciate own spouses. Rev Mark Gungor is gut wrenching funny and provocative… don’t miss this life changing and fun event. All are welcome…engaged or married for a while!
Early and Group registration is only $30 per person. Limited childcare is available.
More information/registration http://www.firstthingsrichmond.org/laugh.html or call (804) 288-3431.
Early registration only $30 pp at http://www.laughyourway.com/events/2010/08/Richmond-VA/
If you want flyers to hand out, click here. > LYW Flyer
Louis and I hope to see you there!
if you need a copy of the flyer, click on this link: 6th District April Flyer Update
REMINDER….this is tonight! Hope to see you there!
Urban Ministry Forum
“Theology on the Ground”
Wednesday, April 7th from 7-9pm
Union Theological Seminary
You will hear from urban ministers, whose work in Baltimore, DC, and Richmond are truly rooted in building community, empowering the marginalized, and helping people at their point of need.
- Rev. Dr. Anthony Hunt will be discussing how he’s been creating ’shalom’ zones in some very poor parts of Baltimore;
- Rev. Dr. Roger Gench will be discussing what it’s like to be an urban parish minister and how collective action among churches can accomplish change; and
- Richmond Hill’s Rev. Ben Campbell will describe how spirituality and prayer create ecumenical bonds which then forms concrete social action to help transform this great city.
Union understands that effective ministry means opening one’s doors, offering radical hospitality, and creating relationships to develop the ‘beloved community.’
Part 2 of our retreat…following The Call to Action.
Based on the pamphlet provided by the Richmond Hill Community, “The Jerusalem Mile was the name given to some labyrinths used for mediation and built in the Middle Ages. The concept was the pilgrims who could not make the journey to Jerusalem during their lifetime could pray and reach Jerusalem in the spirit by walking this labyrinthine path.”
“Richmond Hill’s installation of a copy of the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, itself a center for pilgrimages, is called the Jerusalem Mile in honor of this tradition. This example of the widest accepted prayer labyrinth in the Church has eleven circuits, which are spread through four quadrants, and is symbolic of Christ’s cross. Grace is symbolized by the never-ending path to the center and back, allowing the pilgrim to walk the path at his or her own pace and to stop for prayer and meditation as needed.”
While walking The Jerusalem Mile on our retreat, I heard from the Lord…confirming a message that I had received from a friend following the Maundy Thursday service the night before. She had told me to “enjoy the journey”. The Lord confirmed that the next day…while walking the path. I found myself weaving my way through the labyrinth…not knowing where exactly I was heading, when or how I was going to get there. The path twisted and turned.
I found myself singing an old school hymn as I walked, meditated and prayed.Thank you, Lord for saving my soul. Thank you, Lord for making me whole. Thank you, Lord for giving to me…. Thy great salvation so rich and free!
It was like the Lord guided me…telling me when to turn and which way to turn. He spoke to me that day that He will guide us in our decisions…telling us when to go and when to stop, when to turn right and when to go left. Until…we reach the center…the sweet spot…the destination…the center of God’s Will.
So…add this to the theme of The Call to Action I wrote about yesterday…and I was asking myself…what do you get?…what does this all mean?
I am thankful for a clarifying conversation we had with Ben Campbell, from Richmond Hill. Action doesn’t necessarily mean that we will know what the center holds….or when we will arrive there…or how we will get there. But, action DOES mean, to move…even if it is one small step at a time….in faith at the urging and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
So, Louis and I didn’t get answers to all the questions we came with. But, this was the only answer we truly needed at this time. Following our morning together and our time with Ben at lunch, we spent a little time in silence, read a chapter of Crazy Love – Profile of the Obsessed – which again confirmed all that we had heard from the Lord. We then made a list of specific questions we need answers to. Answers that will come in time as we pray and spend time with Him on future retreats.
- Since Louis went part-time last week, should he get another job immediately? Or does God have other plans for him?
- When should Louis act on a message that the Lord gave him years ago? Is it now?
- Our Missional Community…what should we be doing now? What should we be studying and how should we be serving?
- Since my job comes to an end sometime this year, what is next for me? What, if anything specific, should I be doing to prepare?
- Is there a local church in SBH that we could serve with? What are our roles in facilitating cooperation between the local churches to serve SBH?
- As we prepare to attend Exponential Conference in 2 weeks, what does He want us to hear? Who does he want us to meet? Why are we going to be there?
- While we vacation following the conference, is there anything we should specifically plan for? How should we specifically seek God during this down time?
- What is our next step as a couple? as individuals?
- What should our daily Bible reading and study be focused on as a couple and individually?
- Who should we intentionally seek to be in relationship with?
- How should we be spending our time? What should we Start, Stop, Continue?
- How often should we intentionally retreat? When is our next one? (By the way, we scheduled it for May 3rd.)
Enjoying the journey
call to ACTION
in our wonderful City…