Scars Bear Proof of Our Battles

It’s Thursday evening and I’m sitting in my home trying to do anything but sit down and type these words.

Yes, I love to write and I absolutely love words.
And I really do want to tell you what my heart is feeling but the truth is I’ve been having a terrible time putting them into words lately.

And the past few weeks I’ve stumbled multiple times over my words and walked away from conversations wondering what I’ve just spoken.

So please if you run into me and find I’m not answering your questions well or don’t seem like myself…
please know
-I’m not.

Because truthfully, I’ve been feeling quite off.
Its as if my brain and my heart aren’t communicating much these days
and I’m struggling to fill in the blanks.

It’s not the first time I remember feeling a bit like this but back then it lasted for years.

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When I was younger one of my biggest fears laid deep below…
You see, what’s being lived underneath is often where so much of stories really live…
and honestly for years I tried to hide what laid beneath the surface.

I was embarrassed and even afraid of being found out or even worse becoming known.
I was scared I would be someone no one would like.
I terribly feared I’d be overlooked or unseen.

All this laid deep within the secret spaces of my soul where I was grossly insecure about not being enough.
It was the giant-size insecurity that keeps people from becoming who God designed them to be.

I can remember not knowing what was up or down simply because I didn’t know myself, instead I armored myself protecting what laid deep inside.

But then years passed and all of the sudden this thing happened and I realized something different about myself…

I’d grown.
What once drove me no longer had a voice inside my head.

Those tapes I’d played for years had been erased and truth was recorded over what once spoke only lies.

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As she began unfolding her story on the other side of the table I felt my heart attaching itself to hers.
So many of the details told pieces of my story and I wondered how I ended up sitting where I was.

You see her story could’ve just as easily belonged to me.

But it didn’t…
Clearly something happened in the last thirty years for my life to be going in the direction it was.

I wonder if it was the blessing my Mom often prayed over me as I ran out the door or the way she and my Dad chose to give up their old way of living for a life of following God.

I wonder if it was the quiet prayers they daily spoke asking God to watch over their family.

I wonder if it was the times I pleaded for God to set me free from my insecurities and fill my empty spaces.

Or perhaps it was all of this and so much more….

You see, we don’t really know the extent of prayers said on our behalf…
and if we ever need reminded it’s in moments like this when we see just how much God’s been walking with us.

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I think this thing has been teaching me so much of what it means to be truly known and loved all at the same time.

As people have been vulnerably unfolding their stories with us lately I’ve been seeing how beautiful they wear their scars.
I know we live such filtered insta-stories where there’s really not a safe place to speak of battle wounds.
But the amazing thing is our scars tell brave stories of survival.

They tell of warriors and honestly we all have these kinds of stories if we’re willing to speak this kind of raw vulnerability.

Friend, I’m realizing so much about the power in sharing scars these days and how it allows others a safe place to pull up their sleeves and share a bit of their own story, maybe even fresh wounds they’re still trying to heal.

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It’s here life really is bravely lived when we choose to share our scars as proof of the brave battle we’re fighting and living to tell about…
this sweet one, is where God truly gets glorified through the healing of our scars.

Because nothing speaks louder than how someone survived something so devastating and is here to tell their brave story now.

Worship MORE and Worry LESS…

When something really hard & holy crashes into your home no one ever tells you that doing what you’ve always done might not be enough. 

Because first off that would be a rude way to care for a friend and secondly most of us don’t know what it takes to survive another person’s hard days. 

But sometimes we need that word.
We need to be told we might have to change in order to walk through the days ahead. 

Because sometimes we all need a reset…something to shift within our soul.

Because how we view God gives us a picture of ourselves.

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I never realized how much things could change for us. 
I never knew how Joe would rely on me somedays more than I leaned into him.
I never really understood how many people are going through their own version of hard and keep on going day after day. 
I never knew how many people are hiding secrets too afraid to be known. 

And mostly because we live our lives much of the same way day after day year after year viewing change as something we steer away from and do as little of it as possible. 

But sometimes change invites itself in and you have to do the adjusting…

Because if you don’t, you won’t survive….

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From the first day we heard of Joe’s diagnosis to the days we’re walking through now we’ve been learning to walk in a new rhythm…
 
You see friend,
I tried my ways for years…because that’s what we do, we do what we know and what we’ve always done. 

But life won’t always adjust like this.

Because sometimes its time to change.
And when we change something beautiful happens; everything around us begins to change too. 

Our priorities, our perspective and our people change-sometimes in small ways but often in much bigger ways than we’d ever expected. 

Because change does this…it doesn’t leave people or places the way it finds them.
And this is often a good thing. 

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A couple of months ago as we began sharing how we were going to fight this battle with worship we were asked a question something like this…

‘Are you sure this thing will really carry you through?
Like when it gets hard are you sure you want to make this kind of commitment to worship?’

I get it.

I really do.

Because at first this question got me thinking too.

You see I don’t like to make commitments I can’t keep and I don’t ever want to lead others somewhere I’m unable to go.

So I wondered what worship might really look like on the ugliest of days…When suddenly I heard an inner voice remind me that the One who led us here would also lead us through this. 

-I think we can sometimes walk through fires and not really see God until that massive explosion hits and then we search for him like never before.

This is what choosing worship has been for us.
It’s been a pursuit of finding God in the midst of the fire
Looking for him past the flames and even feeling him in the burn. 

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In this we’ve been finding how a worshipful life is an attentive life; as our eyes continue shifting from our struggle towards God.

Like Job who chose to praise God in the midst of so much pain we too have an invitation to find God in our circumstances.   

You see, when we chose Worship Over Worry we had no idea it would result in so many blessings…honestly I said the words as a desperate reach to not choose worry. 
But in it we’ve been finding how…
God is glorified…we’re strengthened…
and heaven is activated in worship.

And friend, there’s truly nothing more powerful than this. 
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Because although we’ll each face many valleys-
God’s here with us and he promises to walk us out the other side.
..

Some people say brokenness is a curse but I truly believe God uses it to draw us into his presence…
And we must turn back to Jesus as many times as it takes for us to find ourselves in his presence. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Worshiping in Our Pain

Some things seem to break without any warning but most seem to crack over time, ever-so-slowly.
What begins as a hairline fracture quickly turns into something crippling, if its left unhealed.

And like things
-this happens to people too.

I can’t say it was one thing that broke me, because honestly it was much more than that.

Because brokenness has a way of worsening over time, if its left undone.

And as we’re spending these days walking through brokenness like never before we often look at each other and wonder how we’re getting through….
even though it may be a day,
an hour or even a moment we’re trying to make it through…
and even though things may feel unsteady most of the time we can feel ourselves holding tightly on
and even more
-we feel held.

Like the times…
When sorrow tries to steal our joy,
when fear tries to threaten our peace or when our bodies seem full of pain
we feel God sweetly sitting beside us.

It’s the reminders God’s been stringing throughout my days that have me resting in his care…it’s honestly the beautiful way others are loving us and glorifying God through their own hard struggles.

Its people spilling their own brave ink while their life seems to be falling apart. 

Its about how we’re inviting others into our lives to repair what feels so broken and feeling the blessing of being put back together…

And friends this is what God’s gift of life really is…
Its whole lot less about living and resting on top of the hill and so much more about how we walk through the valley.

Unlike Humpty Dumpty who couldn’t be put back together, we can.
Because Jesus did this. 
Our brokenness gets healed over and over again in Christ..and this is where our hope is resting. 

Recently as we were gathered around our dinner table a question that’s all too familiar to us came up. 

Joe, if they’re killing all of your cells, what’s going to bring you back to life?’

It’s a valid question and a familiar one as Joe asked his doctor the very same thing. 

And the answer is still mind-blowing to me, hard to fathom.
The cells will regenerate and rebirth life.

You see, often what happens in our world and even in Humpty Dumpty’s story there’s no valid offer given
-so people choose to numb their pain and remain broken. 

But honestly when the pain feels all too overwhelming or hard I’ve been hanging onto the truth that it will all be worth it… 
Because God will walk us out on the other side.

And friend,
this is true for you too.

The valleys we may walk through are not the end of our story. 

Although all the king’s men and all the king’s horses couldn’t put Humpty back together again…
Our King does not leave us broken…
OUR KING heals every single one of our broken places. 

Some here and others in heaven

But he heals all of our brokenness…
our broken dreams,
our broken bodies,
our broken relationships
and even our broken families. 

And this friend, is where we’re choosing to place our hope.

These broken cells that are needing regenerated continually remind us that life is a fight and it’s a costly one. 
Because it comes with pain and it may even take all we have but it also comes with the beautiful promise of God to be
our strength and our life. 

And for today we’re resting right here…
as we continue to choose
Worship Over Worry…

I’ve been learning so much about worship.
That worship is lifting our hands up to God in the good but also in the hard.
It’s letting God know we trust him when fear seems to be building, when life hurts and even when we don’t know how it will all work out.
It’s singing louder when it feels overwhelming and it’s calling all of heaven to help us fight this thing.
It’s our beautiful weapon in the middle of the night and the heat of day because it’s what we have to alert heaven that we need their help. 

So, if you don’t know what to do because your anxiety seems too much to bear…join us and sing with all of heaven tonight…fill your empty spaces with worship and you’ll find your worry subsiding in the presence of our Savior.
Worship Over Worry isn’t just something we’ve found to fill our days, its truly a gift from God…it’s our battle cry. 

And somedays crying out is the best thing we can choose to do…


A bonus just because I love you all and appreciate your prayers and support:

{The song that’s been blessing us this week is 
‘Turn your eyes Upon Jesus’ by Lauren Daigle} 

 

Broken Yet Blessed

Hey you who are feeling a little beaten up and broken lately,
I see you and I feel your ache.

Your hand that’s holding your weary head up and your tired heart that feels like its taken in all the pain it can
-Know that God is right beside you ready to carry you…
Every ache and every disappointment
you’re experiencing is seen and felt up in heaven’s presence. 

As we’ve been walking through this hard journey surrounded by so many traveling a hard journey of their own I’ve been feeling like spilling out a bit of what we’re gathering along the way.
Because our journeys are about more than the broken steps we take. 

Sometimes being human in all our flesh and bones can honestly be the scariest thing we do…because we know underneath lies a heart that holds insurmountable joy and yet experiences pain of its own kind. 
There are moments that the beauty of life takes our breath away and other times we’re breathless because we ache so deeply.

These past few months my eyes have been tracking so many lives being lived on the edge…
there’s an over awareness of the hard & holy happening over here. 

Because for some reason every thing else seems to be paling in contrast right now. 
I watch families gather around brave souls fighting and I wonder what we were all doing just months ago. 
And I like to believe strangers are handpicked by God for us to endure the fire beside. 

Yet I also know these hard times only exist for moments in years within our lives as none steal the totality of our existence. 

The cancer, that’s crashed into our lives RIGHT NOW won’t follow us to heaven’s door…
and for you,
whatever the broken hard you’re enduring RIGHT NOW will have no place in heaven for you either. 

Because where there’s God, there’s healing and new life.

And until then we have the gift of worship to experience God’s presence inside of.

Prior to all of this,
worship felt like something hard to choose much like a forced rhythm rather than a prayer graciously given to us. 

It’s a lot like the blossoms I buy plants for,
worship is a hidden gift  inside our relationship with God. 

A life-giving act.  

When we first chose to trade our worries in for worship God began untwisting our hearts and massaging their brokenness and heaven began ministering to our hurting hearts. 

The words we couldn’t find to pray,
the words we couldn’t form we found written in these songs.

Because in the hilltops of heaven sits God, who is so faithful….
who chooses to sit upon the summits and in the slopes with us all the same. 

And there really is no other way to get through the valley than to walk through it with God. 

Because even though our natural tendency is to worry, I’ve been realizing worry doesn’t invite God into our struggles, instead it pushes him aside. 

It denies God to act on our behalf and just gets us lost thinking in circles. 

When we first found the lump on Joe’s neck, we knew it wasn’t good, as it grew so fast. In fact it doubled itself in the matter of hours and tripled itself in just a day. 
By the next morning as we were getting ready I pressed play on a song and it was within those sacred moments that we found worship overcame worry.  

You see, worship for us through all of this has been a holy place of refuge-
a sacred place we’re meeting God. 

It’s here we’ve heard God whispering his big words as he’s reminding us that he will send down a rescue. 

So. over and over we return to his presence because it’s in these times we feel the strongest sense of this crazy battle being won. 
It’s in the worship that we see God fighting the battle for us and we experience him the most. 

And as we’re choosing Worship over Worry these days there’s others who are standing beside us worshiping through their own version of hard and somehow together we’re getting to watch all of heaven fight for each one of us…
Because that’s what worship does-
it unites as it heals and shows us we’re all on the same side with the One who is mightily fighting on our behalf. 

Because our scars become our stories.
They tell the brave things we’ve lived through.
They remind us of the battles we’ve bravely fought and won. 

And every one of us has these markings.  
Because underneath them lies real stories. 
Ones we’ve courageously fought…

So, if you’re facing some hard days of your own…
Know you’re surrounded by a room full of warriors facing their own brave stories as
each of us are fighting for our wounds to become scars that tell of our survival. 

Because on days like today friends the struggle is real…
even when it might just consist of staying up late to get these words written.
Because the truth is most days I don’t even know how to capture what’s happening over here. 

And I’m sure you would say the same about the life you’re living…the scars you’ve endured and those just beginning to heal…all have been given to us to tell our stories and to show we never fight alone…

So, stay brave dear one and continue trading your worries in for worship every time…
We will be fighting right beside you. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Letting God Fight Our Battles

‘Oh God, how we need you because we’re terrified to do this thing alone.’

That’s been the cry of my heart these past months because this suffering…this pain is sometimes like none other.

The uncertainty, the long nights and the hours of ministering to him in pain
-they’re all better with God….And I’ll do them over & over again because it’s what love does best.

Recently, as I wrapped my arms around him rubbing his aching neck and bulging back so he could get some relief from the breaking down and dying of cells that have been wreaking havoc on his body
-I tried anything to relieve the pain and the fever that decided to make its appearance.

That night we sat in the disappointment of the Emergency Room.

We did what we knew and pressed play on what’s been ministering to our mind and our soul the most and something started to shift…

What’s frustrating and overwhelming lightened as we met God there.
I’ve never realized how worry does nothing to interact with heaven and only messes with our insides twisting them all up.

But worship gains all of heaven’s attention
and requests a response.

And just like that God started working….his fever broke, his blood had no trace of an infection and we were set free to go home.

What seemed scary just moments before became a battlefield for God.

It got me thinking about Paul and Silas as they sang hymns even in the darkest of night….it must have been so hard to utter that first note…

Yet their breaking of silence beckoned all of heaven. Because that’s what worship does in the valley, it changes things and stirs the heart of God.

People have been asking me how we sing in the valley as if singing is meant for the mountains…But the truth is we sing because it’s what we need…
Weeks ago as we stood before this mountain looking up from the valley we decided as a family worship would be our cry because it’s what heaven hears the best and its truly the heart beat of our souls…

Because Worship…
-perfectly captures the words of our souls…
-is what God’s been resurrecting…
-places us in the presence of God…
-is where we feel the love of God the most…
-is what we give when we have so little…

But most of all….
Our Worship is about watching heaven fight for us!

And when we find ourselves in these valleys of life surrounded by so many peaks begging for us to climb them…it’s in the lifting of our heart and our head that reminds us he is the ONE who is doing the fighting for us!

So, friend if you’re finding that life feels all too overwhelming and just plainly too much know that when you surrender yourself and recklessly raise a cry and your arms…It’s  where God does his most beautiful work!

Because some of the best battles in history have been fought with worship alone…

Many of you’ve been asking what our playlist is….so, here it is.
Join us in choosing
Worship Over Worry
Bring the Rain by MercyMe
King of My Heart by Bethel
Raise a Hallelujah by Bethel
Goodness of God by Bethel
Stand in Your Love by Bethel
It is Well by Bethel
Wonderful by Christy Nockels
Another in the Fire by Hillsong
New Wine by Hillsong
Let Go by Hillsong
Who You Say I am by Hillsong
Everything by TobyMaC
Known by Tauren Wells
September by Tauren Wells

Surrounded by Michael W. Smith
Counting Every Blessing by Tauren Wells
Hills and Valleys by Tauren Wells
Rescue by Lauren Daigle
Thank You by The Katinas
Do It Again by Elevation
All My Hope by Crowder
Come to Me by Bethel
Is He Worthy? by Andrew Peterson
Starts and Ends by Hillsong
Highlands by Hillsong
Whole Heart by Hillsong
Do It Again by Elevation

‘It might get way better’

Pain has a way of shifting our perspective.

A once great tasting meal transitions into a bite that you can taste.

A cool breeze is suddenly noticed.

The endurance to take a walk becomes a great feat for the day.

It’s odd how quickly life can change.

One minute we’re working and striving so hard we can’t see straight when suddenly we’re practicing a new rhythm of rest.

This past week has been an incline in our climb out of this valley as I’ve been fighting my own sickness one that visits me when my body gets worn down and weary.

Because the truth is sometimes our bodies break down and require some love of their own…

And in these times I want so badly to go back a few days and change my pace and breathe a little more through the hard anything that would change the course of having to go through something else that’s hard. 

But I believe it’s in these moments we see the blessings and lessons God has gathered up for years get scattered more generously over us.
And this is the miraculous connection that occurs with us and God that somehow changes what at first feels overwhelming and sad into something indescribably beautiful.

When Joe got his diagnosis and we started lining up family and friends to help him with preaching he asked if he could try and speak on Easter, his Drs felt that was a doable request and approved it. 
So when we found out that would also be his first week of chemo we leaned into God and asked him for what he would be needing. 
And our staff and church were so sweet to pray alongside of us and encourage throughout the journey to get there. 

It felt like he was going to be able to do it even as he struggled to have the strength and mental capacity to type out the words God was laying on his heart but he continued trusting that God would give him what he needed. 

So Saturday night when he couldn’t sleep due to a great deal of pain that begun a new fight as well as the nausea, I wondered how he’d get through it.
But we knew we had been fighting this battle with prayer and worship,
so we prayed through the wee hours of the night and into the morning, trusting God to do his mighty work.

And even the steps to and from the stage the next morning were difficult ones that made us rely on the help of God alone to get him through…and you know what happened
-God was so gracious to provide. 
He not only allowed Joe to preach but he showed up in so many ways that morning. 

God continues teaching me so much…

How I want to be that person who reminds others that getting through a struggle might come with some wounds but the blessings will always outweigh them.

I want to be that person who encourages others to keep going, to push through the uncomfortable, the silence and the difficult because what you will find on the other side is always better than what you’ve ever had before. 

I want to be that person that leads others to lay their worries aside and chooses worship every time because when our eyes are on God they don’t see what’s overwhelming and sad beside us. 

I want to be that person because I think there’s too much silence spoken in our hard and holy times that we forget it is possible…

As a sweet little boy wrote to Joe in a card…
                                                    ‘It might get way better.’

There’s so much truth in that seemingly simple statement, isn’t there?

Because sometimes you need those words to remind you there is better days than the ones you’re in. 

I know this because I’ve been there this week. 

Because I’ve been the one who’s laid flat out on the floor of my closet crying and telling God how much I longed to have my parents still around to talk through these hard moments and how I deeply ached to hear for their strong words of faith spilled over me even one more time. 

I’m the one who’s cried over feelings of ‘not enough’ this week and the one doing more falling than walking lately.

Yet, I’m also the one who’s been reminding herself that God makes all things new…
even the likes of us!

I’ve had to see what happens when one sits too long in that place of pain and how it only leads to heart full of despair.

And if I want to continue in the fulfilling life God has for me I need to change my perspective and really see the beauty God has so graciously been scattering for me…

Like the cooler full of food delivered to our porch to feed our weary souls.

Or the text that lit up my phone early one morning as I was wrestling out demons with God…it beautifully read,
                                    ‘Cinnamon rolls are on your porch.’
(Because I truly believe food is a spiritual gift!)

Or my two friends who so graciously came and cleaned my house today.

Or the countless gifts we’ve been given that have been purposefully and personally handcrafted reminding us to trade in our worries for worship and
how….
                                                 ‘It might get way better’

You see life is hard and everywhere we turn can be something harder to face but it’s not what happens in life but what we do through it
-that really matters.

The truth is sometimes I’m utterly overwhelmed by God’s redeeming grace that he graciously rains down on us. 

This pull towards what is beautiful which surrounds us, 
the kindness that emerges, 
the compassion that reaches out 
are all reminders for us to shift our focus toward God. 

Friend there is hope which searches for beauty in the cracks of what is so hard,
that chooses to find blessings and call them by name…
because finding God in the places we visit allows us to know just how much God really desires to be found and to be seen. 

So for now I’m doing just that, 
I’m seeing him in the the seemingly insignificant as well as the big that lays in our steps and somehow 
-I’m feeling God and experiencing the simply beautiful piece of him that lives inside of me. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you have time to Worry you have time to Worship

As we’re deep into the Holy Week and only a day stands between us and Good Friday I’m reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice through suffering…

I’m reminded that Jesus suffered in isolation so that we wouldn’t ever suffer alone.

And this week as we began a new journey of our own…
as we strung masks over our faces and wondered exactly what the road ahead would bring,
God’s been ever-so-gently tenderizing our hearts. 

Things we once counted as important have lost their place as souls seem to be gaining their rightful place…
because no soul is too far gone or too great a risk.

And here in this hard and Holy Week it’s easy to see why Christ chose the Cross over a Kingdom
and death over life.

Blood-flow signifies life
This very thing has been rolling around in my mind lately and making me think just how costly life can be.

As Joe and I’ve been pressing pause on worry and choosing to worship,
we’ve been seeing God walking beside us.

I believe that’s because inside of these days of brokenness it’s easier to feel his presence…
hearts always seem more raw in the breaking.

We’ve been noticing as we’re lifting our praises upward there’s something shifting inside the crevices of our brains and how our perspective’s been changing too.

For several years Joe has repeated this little phrase that holds so much truth…
                   ‘If you have time to worry, you have time to pray!’

I’ve been adapting it to worship these days because worship is a prayer sung out loud when there’s no words to be said.

It’s when we take our eyes off the external that we’re able to see God so much more clearly.

And when we do this together with friends and family circled around us something crazy occurs…
a beautiful gift comes in worshiping together

-our hearts fall into sync and they begin to beat as one.

Even though we each bring our own worries to the foot of the Cross our hearts have an incredible way of keeping in rhythm.
And in these beautiful moments together, we gain the attention of Heaven.

Our cry out to God gets louder and has a way of grabbing his attention in ways our worries can’t.

Friend, I’ve been realizing just how stagnant worry really is…as it breathes toxins inside our lungs and does nothing to move the heart of God.

And when our lives are in need of his kind of working, why would we expend such empty energy?

Yet so much of our days get lost in this kind of cyclical worry-full thinking when what we really need is to worship the ONE who has the power to sustain us.

Because worship has a way of igniting our brains with the perseverance we need to press on.

And as Joe and I’ve been walking through this hard week we never knew it would land us smack in the middle of this Holy Week.

But God has a way of using what’s in our every day lives to show himself. 

This morning during just another spontaneous time of worship God moved in our hearts in a powerful way…
because sometimes it’s our hearts that need to align with the pathway of suffering ahead for us to recognize his working.  

And honestly friend there’s a whole lot of brave that’s being lived out every day beside us if we’ll only take the necessary time to listen to one another’s stories. 

Whether it’s the young Mom who recently delivered her baby cold and blue 
or the teenage girl who’s not only fighting for her life but fighting to be loved…

Friend there really is a whole lot of brave we don’t see when life is going as we planned and it feels better than ever… 
Because sometimes it takes pain felt deep within for us to notice it in another. 

Today as we walked out of our last appointment and as we are headed closer into Good Friday the sun decided to make its appearance…its warmth radiated hope as it reminded us we never walk this way alone.

And that’s exactly why Jesus hung on the Cross and suffered
alone, so that we’d never know what it was like to suffer in such isolation. 

So, if you can’t get a hold of us this weekend press play on that song that moves the heart of God, because that’s exactly how we’re spending our days over here.