Sunday, March 25, 2012

Saying Goodbye

The Lord calls people in new directions in his timing it seems, not just when we're ready. Our beloved pastors for the past seven years have been called to a new place, for something truly incredible. God has opened so many amazing doors for them and I am so excited to hear what comes of it!

But... it has lead our church body into a season of grieving.

I walked up to their house Friday, knowing it would be the last time i saw them before they left. I saw Kelsey sitting on the porch and immediately I remembered the day they were introduced to our church as the new pastors, Kelsey wasn't much older than my Brynlee. I remembered babysitting her at my house, playing "house" with her and Ashley. I remembered getting in trouble for still picking her up when i was eight months pregnant with Lucy. I remembered watching them ride bikes at Diamond Lake years ago. I remembered roasting marshmallows at family camp, playing tag, and all the beautiful cards she's made me over the years. I stepped past Max and remembered going over for dinner when he had just come home as a tiny puppy, tried chewing on Lucy's shoes. A.J. is so grown up, turning into an remarkable man, with a deeper voice, tall and fast, sweet and handsome. I remember every time I see Ashley how difficult it was for Julie to cut her hair for the first time, it was the most beautiful dark ringlet curls, like my Lucy's.
Inside I saw us having dinner talking about our dreams for the youth group, for growth in the church, for giving. I saw Julie at women's retreats, on worship team and laughing together at worship practice, teaching us how to scrap, taking all my family photo's, coming to the hospital to see my babies, bringing flowers to me for each and when Bryce was in the hospital. I remember what it felt like to receive those flowers, a card and even money to help us through those months he was sick. How Arte came all the way to Portland to sit and pray and talk with us for a few hours in that little room on the seventh floor.
I remember the day Arte asked Bryce if he'd be the youth pastor. I remember looking to the front during "meet and greet" to see Arte with his hand on Bryce's shoulder teaching him and encouraging his spiritual gifts, helping to develop him. I smile seeing the circle of men praying over Arte before each sermon, men of God united by and sacrifice and brotherly love. I see all of the baptisms he's done, including my sister in law. I can remember all the times he got excited during a sermon, the jokes he'd make, the times he'd get choked up, the time he made Bryce eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
I know this doesn't mean a lot to many of you, so i thank you for allowing me to share my heart.
Change is so hard sometimes, it's overwhelming- it brings memories and images and hopes that feel lost. A leader leaving means saying goodbye, grieving friends, mentors, family. It has me really thinking about heaven though. Truly I know that it will never be the same when we do get to see this beautiful family again. They will only be visiting, with limited time. We were so blessed to have them for such an important and AWESOME season that we had them! Our church has grown so much it is ready to sprout and shoot out of the building- we've been filling up with barely standing room in the back! We've branched into lots of new ministries in our community, new events, a new love for Jesus that is infectious in all the good ways;). Weeping may remain for the night but rejoicing comes in the morning! (Psalm 30:5)
Heaven is going to be unbelievable, and I am so honored and excited to spend it with this amazing family. It might just be the next span of time we get to spend with them, but we will have eternity to worship together! They have been an inspiration, always focusing on love and eternity, reaching out to all of Waldport.
I have said goodbye to friends like these before. I knew at my Honor Academy graduation that we would never all be together again, most of them I'd never see in this life after that day. Yet there was joy even in our grieving because we'd met kindred spirits in our love for Christ and knew that no matter what we would all reunite at the banquet table someday and what a DAY THAT WILL BE!

Arte and Julie- It's been an honor to serve with you, you two are going with God and Canada won't know what hit them:) You are a force to be reckoned with. You have gifts that are effective and unique. You be used and equipped by the creator for every good work:)
Love you!

Saturday, March 10, 2012


Definition: Agape is selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love, the highest of the four types of love in the Bible.

This Greek word and variations of it are found throughout the New Testament. Agape perfectly describes the kind of love Jesus Christ has for his Father and for his followers:

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (John 14:21, NIV)

I've been reflecting on this a lot lately, what would it look like to live this way? Sacrificial, unconditionally loving each individual you come into contact with, being selfless. I have a couple of close friends that have each been going through their own set of difficulty in/just out of marriage and it got me thinking. My heart truly aches for these people, marriage was meant to show the relationship the Lord has with the church, the beautiful way the church was meant to look out for each other, to take care of the needs of your neighbor without expectations in return. But how good are we at exemplifying this to our spouse?

Recently my husband Bryce has been working night shifts, which (for those of you who've never worked nights) means he's exhausted ALL the time and really has 1 less day off between shifts as he has to switch back eating and sleeping. This was the specific reason i drug my feet a little when he presented this idea to me back in September of last year when they began "bidding" for shifts. My husband works in corrections and nights bring a much needed relief from being called the most foul names from the most foul mouthed the county has to offer. I knew it would be good for him, help bring him back to his normal happy self, but i was being selfish and knew he'd sleep all day and we would literally have NO time without the kids on his work days. The Lord convicted me of this bad attitude and thus, i jumped on board with support. He has been SO much happier that it has been so worth it! But he has definitely been exhausted, worn down to the point that he passes out 20 minutes after he gets home and wakes up 20 minutes before he leaves. This allows me 40 minutes to see him a day (when the kids are awake and active).
I suppose i should get to the point of this back story- I do not like sharing my husband. It's really something i'm working on, but truth is I'd really like to hog him all to myself and handcuff him to me forever. He's really amazing, for all of you who don't know this- sorry he's been stuck to me for 5 years;) Anyway i will try and allow you time with him in the future, though i keep his schedule pretty tight only allowing a couple hours a week to be on his own (in case you're unsure, I'm TOTALLY joking). The man is amazing, he is giving and faithful, he does not ever doubt the Lord even for a moment. He can store incredible amounts of knowledge in his brain and remembers the events of the bible pretty dead on all the time! If you know me you know that I can't even remember which world war was fought where. SO this is incredible to me, i can try and make some sort of remark about history and he always corrects me gently. Anyway, he's hilarious, he's forgiving, he chooses not be bothered by little things and does not hold onto grudges or hurts. He is an awesome friend to many, a great mentor and a loyal follower of Jesus.
How in the world did I land him? I seriously ask myself this sometimes, it seems like every area i lack he is right there to balance it all out. I am sometimes unsure what i add to this equation. He always pursues me, in romance and in arguments, he weighs his feelings and thoughts before speaking. I like to throw up my defensive walls, skulk to my corner and think about what happened and why in the world i'm reacting so poorly.
Bryce has taught me the meaning of agape. He is selfless and loves me unconditionally, he sacrifices a lot for me.

I've decided lately that I want to be better at Agape love, not only to my husband but to everyone i meet and everyone i know. I want to bring patience and honesty with me everywhere, sometimes sacrificing my comfort to bless those around me. There's a new song my dad played for me recently by Mac Powell "When love sees you" from the perspective of Jesus
"Tell me your story, show me your wounds
and I'll show you what love sees, when love looks at you"
This song really hit me, how am I really like Jesus if I'm not doing this? Do i make my life about this very thing, showing people what love sees? Do i love without concern of what others may think, or what might happen to me? Do i sacrifice the safety and comfort of my own "stuff" to find out what someone else might need?
I chose to start this new lifestyle in my own home. The other day Bryce was in the middle of his days off and just couldn't get himself to wake up, my heart was feeling hurt that he wouldn't get up and spend time with me- so i chose to wash, oil and massage his feet, and later give him a face massage as well as let him stay asleep until almost noon. I'm definitely not trying to brag on myself, my point to say that I felt amazing doing this, the act of choosing to bless him even when i wanted to be hurt made ME feel better! My heart changed to pure joy and love toward him, I was able to feel empathy for how hard he was working for me and the kids. He woke up at 11:30 feeling great and we had an awesome day after that! If i had chosen to be hurt all it would have earned me was a miserable day because he'd have felt bad but been unable to help his exhaustion. This way we both won, and i felt so good that i was able to help him relax and snap out of his tiredness faster.
We've been married five years, the most rewarding and incredible years of my life. He has taught me so many amazing things about the Lord, and our relationship has become deeper and more beautiful each passing day that we have together. We are flawed, we choose to be selfish at times, we refuse to let go of pride others, but one thing is sure- we want to be teachable, to learn wisdom, and to always strive to love unconditionally no matter what. Practicing this kind of love at home sets us up for success when we come into contact with people outside these four walls. I want my children to see me as ever learning and changing, striving to put others before myself each day.
God is so good, and the prime example of agape love. Marriage is supposed to exemplify His love for His bride- which i find that the church is often flawed in so many ways, ways that can be so offensive to those searching within its doors for truth and hope. Marriage can be this way too, we're searching within our marriage for truth and hope, and sometimes our partner responds with agape love, and sometimes we reject the notion and push them out with our desire for things to be "just so."
Truth is, the real church, the way God intended it, is NOT "just so." We cannot control it, and it really does not need to be controlled, it just needs to be loved. The church- those searching for acceptance and love from Jesus, just need those of us who are a part of it to sacrifice for her, to lay down our life and our comforts to unconditionally, selflessly love those who walk through our doors, and those in the world who will not.

Our goal is to Honor God. No matter the cost.
Elevation Worship, "For the Honor" is my very favorite song right now. Because no matter what God brings to my life- I would choose to Honor Him even if I had nothing. Even if i had everything. The only reason for my life is to bring Him Honor.

Friday, March 2, 2012

My mothers legacy...

Over the course of four years, since my first pregnancy with Lucy, my mother has become more my mentor, my friend, and my hero. She's always been these things to me, but becoming a mother myself put her in a whole new light for me. She has always been beautifully protected, knowing what lines to draw with your children to protect them from worry or guilt. As a child i always knew how much she loved me, how much she was willing to give up just for me, and sometimes how overwhelming four whining voices can be!
The moment Lucy was born my mom stood to my left, my husband on the right. I remember looking from my new baby, to my husband, and then to her- tears running down her cheeks at her pure joy at seeing her little girl give birth. In that moment i felt a connection to her I'd never had before, i finally knew what the love of a mother really was, the most intense feeling of love I've ever experienced. It us unlike the love i have for my husband in that she is our creation, the pure expression of our love for each other.
So many new stages have come and gone with my children, my mom has been there to listen to my anger, fear, tears and hopes. She encourages me to seek the Lord in how i raise my children, to be consistent and to love without holding back.
Just recently I was sharing with her how lost I become in the everyday at times. We have a schedule that just scoots the day by so quickly at times that i can't even remember what day it is and often wake up feeling panicked trying to recall if today is sunday and i need to get the kids ready quickly (this takes two hours with all three of them, and one of me to do all of it). My mom is amazing, truly she is and she knew my desperation from a heart of experience. A few days later she brought me a journal she had written when i was little, a raw deep expression of prayers from a young Christian mothers heart, to show me how she dealt with the things i'm going through right now. The Lord told her it would be okay, and she trusted me with her thoughts.
What a beautiful gift! It has meant more to me than words can express, as we tend to dismiss advice of old but this journal gives me the unedited version of my mothers stresses, hopes, dreams, fears and frustrations- the exact same ones i deal with on a regular basis. She's always told me that she'd parent as best she could and then pray that the Lord would fill the gaps each night as she counted her failures. I have done this innumerable times, feeling inadequate for the time i could have been playing but sat folding laundry, or should have spent time reading with them, teaching them letters or going outside.
Reading through her thoughts I am reminded of so many biblical words... Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. He met Mary in her time of need, by our standards today she would have been judged poorly and looked down upon because she was an unwed poor, pregnant teenager. He has met every mother in every generation with the same burdens, hopes, fears, frustrations and hurts. He met my mom when I was little, and today I call her blessed for the sacrifices she made for me and my brothers. She always backed my dad up, she always loved even through complaints, she made sure we ate healthy, dressed nice, went and had fun, kept us safe from every bad character she could. She may look back and count the things she may have changed, but i look back and count the things i should have been more graciously thankful for!
Her words and my experience during those same years seem so different, yet in regards to us i see so much pride and love, she would have given anything for us and often did. When i was a teenager i remember trying to force her to buy herself socks and some new shirts, she just gave up any desire for new things in order that we would be provided for. It was beautiful, the incredible example of a mother that i get to follow and i know many others do as well. It reminds me that my time with my little ones is very short, my impact great, and their need intense. It reminds me that the things i feel have been felt by mothers across the globe for generations. It reminds me that God made a mothers heart exactly this way- to wake early in the morning thinking of her children, their needs, their desires, their precious spirit, that he created me to love my children with raw deep emotion, to guard my words as not to wound, but give them unabashedly to Him.
What an incredible season he has given me, and in this season i not only get to review my own thoughts and feelings, but i have hers to cry with, to agree with and to cherish as she spoke of her love for me each day. What an honor being called "mom" really is, I know when i say it to her it holds new meaning, and a new love.