The interviews I did last winter with Dennis Rainey and Bob Lepine at FamilyLife aired this week on Thursday and Friday on their syndicated show “FamilyLife Today.” I had such a wonderful time with them, and also with the other guest, Amy Julia Becker, and now to hear how they’ve put it together is so fun. They just do an excellent job!
Archive for April, 2013
I had such a great and busy weekend this past weekend, and it was so fun to see all the ways God was working, both at the events and in my own heart and expectations.
Friday, I drove up with my mom to Tiffin, OH which is about 2 hours north for me. We checked into the hotel and realized that it was literally steps next door to the conference center where I was going to be speaking and doing the worship for Women ACT, a women’s conference that has been happening in Tiffin for the past 23 years. This is a large conference, but this year the numbers were down, and they were seriously considering how much longer they would continue with the event. For this reason, there was some tension going in, and I could feel it. These women love their event and have worked so hard with such hearts for sharing the Gospel – they really wanted it to succeed.
Friday night we had a dinner together with the entire planning team. I was impressed with the care and time these women have put in. They have met for a year planning this, and their hearts were very much for the women coming. I also got to meet Lisa Sheets Meiners who was speaking, and that was fun – we have friends in common, but I’ve never met her, and it was great to work with her. At the end of the night, the team spent a lot of time together in prayer for the event the next day and had communion together.
The event the next day exceeded expectations! Even though their numbers were down from previous years, they had many women sign up even in the last week, and the room was packed. I was leading worship and also gave my testimony and shared some of my music. Lisa did a great job teaching, and the team had taken so much care in prepping. It was so clear God was there, and in the end, we had so many people tell us it the best one they’d ever done. When we were packing up to leave, the committee came and told us that the feedback was so great, they knew their event would continue, and that year had breathed new life into their conference!
Mom and I drove up to Lindsey, then, a tiny town in northern Ohio. I had done a women’s conference up in this area couple of years ago, and the music director of Lindsey Trinity UMC was there and asked me to coordinate a day with her when I was next in her area. They do a special day each year when they invite someone, and had given me most of the service the next morning.
This was a beautiful old church with amazing stained glass windows and woodwork. It was a very traditional service – one of the things I really appreciate about my ministry is the diversity I get to see in the church. I love having the opportunity to experience so many different styles within the body of Christ! I spoke and did some music, and afterward we had a luncheon for the whole church. It was a great day for mom and me, and I had some wonderful conversations with people about their own journeys with the Lord. He reminded me again that while we all come from different places and backgrounds and hurts and giftings, He is the same God, and His love is for everyone! What a great reminder that I pray I can keep in front of me always.
Yesterday at church, the pastor was talking about Jesus’ question to Peter, “Do you love me more than these?” He was talking about all the things “these” could be in our lives – basically anything that we might love more than Jesus. He asked us to think about what we might be unwilling or unable to let go of for the Lord. He said for most people, the answer is easy – whatever it is, it comes to you quickly. They will be the things you hold most tightly, the things you rely on or think you can’t live without.
I knew immediately what I held most tightly. It’s my family. All my greatest fears are wound up in the idea of something happening to any of them. What would I do if one of my kids was terminally ill, or if my husband was killed by a drunk driver?
I also noticed that my answer has changed over time. That was interesting. My family has always topped my list, but there used to be other things in there as well, things that I don’t care as much about as I once did, but certainly remember holding very tightly. Financial security. Status and reputation among my peers. Material comforts.
I can see where God has been working on my heart in many areas. I used to dream of the huge house I would buy someday where everything would be new and beautiful. It made me very discontented with my home. Frankly, I needed to get over myself. I started praying about that years ago, and now it’s amazing how much affection I have for my house. I love it here! Sure, the kitchen is as old as me, and we wish we had a bigger yard, but now instead of seeing what I don’t have, I am grateful for what I do have. How many people in the world would love to have a home, any home? Mine is a palatial mansion compared to so many places I have been. What a gift to be happy and grateful where you are.
But would God ask me to go further? Not just to be content with my house and grateful for it, but to be willing to let it go? What if we lost this house, or we were called to sell everything and move to a place where we knew no one? What if we were told to give everything away and go on the mission field? Could I do that with a grateful heart? Would that stop me from trusting God or from obeying Him? I don’t think so. I’m not saying I would love it, but I also don’t think I would hold onto that. I know who God is, and He’s got that. He’s got our financial security, our comfort.
But my family. That’s the sticking point, isn’t it? I can test all kinds of theories in my head and God comes out the winner. But could I give up my family and still say “He gives and takes away – blessed be the name of the Lord?”
Well, I have experienced a piece of that with the loss of my dad to Lou Gehrig’s Disease. It was not easy. It was incredibly painful. And yet, God was faithful. God is good, and I know I will see my dad again. God reminds me of what He’s already done.
It’s clear to me. Holding loosely to things doesn’t mean we don’t love them. It doesn’t mean we don’t treasure them or even that we wouldn’t be willing to die for them. Holding loosely just means that we acknowledge that God is God. That nothing comes before Him. That it really is His decision how He wants to use us, and if we are going to be obedient, there will be sacrifice and cost to that. God loves us, and He promises that He will use all things for the good of those who love Him (Rom. 8:28). So holding loosely is being grateful for the things He’s given us to hold, while trusting Him to do what’s best for us and for them and letting Him do it.
What do you need to work on holding more loosely?
This weekend I got to do a one-day women’s retreat for Powell United Methodist Church. We were talking about being transformed to be usable by God, and we really had a beautiful day. This event was only about 20 minutes from my house, and that is always a blessing for me to be so close to home. It had the added bonus of meaning that I knew several of the women there, which is always fun. One special thing for me was that it was organized by Nancy Grandstaff, who just happens to be the psychologist who qualified Toby for services when he was 3, and also is the grandmother of Reese, one of the kids who’s featured in my “Your Child” video. Theirs is a very special family!
Thanks for having me, God did great things that day, and I am looking forward to hearing all of them someday when I get to heaven. 🙂
Okay, this is a serious catch up blog. We have been traveling and I have not kept up, but it’s been a pretty amazing couple of weeks. We just got back from a 10 day trip to NC and VA with a lot of ministry, a lot of history, and a lot of family time.
The Tuesday before we left I was live on Greg Bullen’s show, Off the Bookshelf, on WMPC. I’ve done this show with Greg several times now, and it’s always great to be on there. I love his heart for ministry!
Then we packed up our whole family of five with all the stuff we would need for 10 days of traveling and all the gear needed to do multiple events, and somehow squeezed all of that and all of us into one minivan. My husband is a packing genius, that’s all I have to say!
We left Thursday morning and drove straight to Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA, the home of WRVL, Victory FM. This is a great station. They cover the whole state of VA and also quite a bit of NC and some other surrounding areas. They have supported my ministry for a long time, and I was so glad we were finally going to be close enough to them to stop in! We got there for the afternoon show with Mark Lamb, and he even put my kids on the air for a bit, which was so kind of him. Had a great time visiting with Mark Edwards, the music and production manager, as well, and I just want to thank them for making the visit such a great one both for me and my family!
Then we drove on a couple more hours to stay in Charlottesville that night. We got up early because we had a couple of extra hours, and we wanted to take the opportunity to see Monticello. The kids loved it, which was a good sign considering the plans for our off time that week, and then we headed four hours south to the Outer Banks where I was doing a women’s retreat in Kill Devil Hills, NC.
The church we were working with for the rest of this trip was Hickory Ridge Community Church and they were just amazing. By the time we left, we felt like family! What a sweet church. It was such a fun God story too. The women’s director called me to see if I would do their women’s retreat on Palm Sunday weekend. Then the next day, the pastor called to see if I would do a concert and their worship services on Easter Sunday one week later. Neither of them knew the other had called me! I was trying to think of how to make that work since I don’t like to leave my family that long, but I hated to have them pay the travel twice when we realized it was exactly the same dates as my kids’ spring break. Voila! They can come with me, and we have a great excuse to check out VA while getting to do everything the church wanted us to do!
So that first weekend we did the women’s retreat. I was teaching on the life of Peter, and we had a wonderful time with all the women! The kids ended up babysitting the sound guy’s 3 little girls, so they had a ministry themselves. 🙂 We had a couple of hours to check out Kitty Hawk which was really cool, and then we headed back north to Chesapeake where I did the worship on the Palm Sunday services.
After those services, we went out to lunch with a few of our new friends from church – did I mention this was a friendly congregation!?! They were wonderful. Then we headed up to Williamsburg where we planned to spend our week days.
My husband, Nathan, had to work a couple of the days, and Sunday night it snowed 4 inches. Yes, on spring break in VA. So not fair. It also rained all day Monday and we were all exhausted by then, so Nathan worked and I worked about a half day, and the kids just sat and read and played games and watched movies, and it was a great down day. The next day Nathan worked, and the kids and I checked out Jamestown (which was fabulous! Don’t miss that if you’re ever there).
Wednesday we went to Busch Gardens where Toby shocked us all by turning out to be a coaster freak. I am not so much. Nope. I can do a couple, but I’d rather watch any day. Dad and sisters came to the rescue, and he got to ride almost enough coasters even for him.
Then we spent two days at Colonial Williamsburg which was also fabulous! I feel like they have improved this so much since we last went. There was a lot more interactive stuff which the kids loved. They even had a spy quest the kids could do, and we had to find the identity of a loyalist spy and then warn our own revolutionary spy. Pretty fun stuff!
Saturday we went back to Hickory Ridge and I rehearsed with the band for Sunday, and also gave a concert that night as part of their Easter weekend. Then the next morning I led the worship with the band on the Easter services, and we drove all the way home so everyone could be back at school and work the next day.
We are exhausted, but had so much fun, both as a family, and with the larger family of God. We’re already talking to Hickory Ridge about doing it again next year, and I hope we do, because I can’t wait to see them again!