Tag Archives: faith adventure

The Year of the Unexpected

This year was by far filled with more transition than any other to date. In January I was visiting my family in MN in -12 degree weather and loving the 15 degrees it was when I returned home to Appleton. All the while I was laughing at my friends in Nashville who were freaking out about the 2 inches of snow they had. And I was loving the multiple feet of snow falling in Appleton. Fast forward to this month and I was the one freaking out about the 2 inches of snow that were falling in Nashville.

Mid-January I headed to St. Louis for the first Visual Worship Roundtable. And in March I was heading to the second one in Nashville. Little did I know just how much those couple of days and a conversation with a stranger, who is now a friend, would change my life. When I got home from that trip I made a frame collage type thing. Inside the frame was a cup sleeve from Crema and I wrote three things: Remember the out, Surrender fear for trust, and Amos 5:21. It sat on my desk at church from March will June right next to my computer where I saw it every day. I was looking at it back in October and realized that deep down I think I knew in March that I would leave my church and end up in Nashville. I went home from that trip and wrote this post. Five months later Nashville was home.

It truly amazes me just how different life turns out than what we imagined. If you would have asked me New Year’s Day 2010 what the year ahead would hold, I don’t know that there is too much I would have accurately predicted. For the first time in I think six years I am not involved in planning and executing a worship service on Christmas Eve. I left a church I had never imagined leaving, moved to a city I’d never visited before this year but for which I was homesick after my first short visit. This year I have lost more old friends and gained more new friends in one year than I think any previous one. I am ending the year fighting for relationship over religion realizing I cannot serve both of those masters. I have been cut and pruned and broken. But I have also been restored and healed. God has redeemed some incredibly hurtful and difficult experiences and restored relationships, demonstrating once again just how faithful He is.

I have more questions now than I did in January and more questions than answers. I am apprehensive about the risks God has planned for me I am also extremely excited. I have incredible excitement for the movement of God through His Church in the years ahead. Because at the end of the day I have hope. I have hope for the world, hope for the Church, and hope for my own life because this year God has shown His faithfulness time and time again.

Visiting Nashville wasn’t in my plan. Quitting my job at my church wasn’t in my plan. Moving to a new city in a new state in a completely different part of the country wasn’t in my plan. But honestly, it all makes me pretty glad that I am not in control because I like His plan a whole lot better.

A Month in Pictures (and a few words)

Today marks a month since I left Wisconsin with my life in my car and moved to the beautiful state of Tennessee. For those of you who are curious as to what I’ve been up to, I thought I’d try to recap it in some pictures and a few words.

My car was literally packed. No room left. But, I was successful in my goal to move to Nashville with only what fit in my car! I drove straight through on Saturday and arrived late Saturday night. Church Sunday morning and jumped into life. The biggest transition so far has honestly been the weather. SO happy that fall seems to finally be arriving here!

The sunsets here are stunning. Beautiful hill country as a backdrop helps I think. So long to the flat fields of the Midwest.

Seriously beautiful country!

The early morning sun isn’t a bad sight either :)

I’ve been spending much of my time in coffee shops. Starbucks is my friend :) Many long days drinking too much coffee and getting ready for STORY is what my first three weeks in Nashville looked like.

Love me some time at Crema when I feel like driving downtown. So many great local coffee shops here!

Drove out to Lieper’s Fork one Saturday afternoon. Love that the country and quiet space isn’t far from the city here.

Have I mentioned how beautiful the skies are?

Last week I hit the road for Chicago for STORY 2010. Great road trip and incredible experience at STORY!

I LOVE skylines…especially from several floors above the city.

Spent a day exploring downtown Chicago. Love being in large cities but I’m also always happy to leave.

It was a chilly fall day in Chicago but couldn’t resist a trip down to the lakeshore. Definitely miss being close to a large body of water that I can’t see the other side of. The water and the waves are good for my soul.

Seagulls…reminds me of my favorite place in Minnesota…Duluth!

The clouds were beautiful! The picture doesn’t do it justice.

That’s it…a month. Wow! It’s still surreal to me that I’m actually here. It occurs to me at least once a day that a year ago Nashville wasn’t on my radar at all and that I didn’t even know my friends here. God has dropped me into an incredible community here for which I am deeply grateful. When we are faithful and obey, He takes care of the rest, He really does. I feel like I’m as close to home as I’m going to get this side of Heaven. I start a new job this week doing tutoring in Nashville public schools…really looking forward to pouring into the lives of kids in the city again, I’ve missed that these last couple of years. I’m bouncing around the idea of doing some freelance stuff which I think is crazy but I thought the same thing about moving to TN, so maybe it’s what I need to do :) I’m moving on Thursday closer to downtown. I LOVE Franklin, where I’m living now, but it’s just a little too far from everything else.

That’s really a wrap. I moved here for life and life is what I’ve found. The transition has been incredibly smooth so far and God continues to affirm that this is exactly where I am supposed to be. I am beyond excited to see what He has planned in the months ahead.

Why I Never Thought About Leaving

The church I left at the end of June is just a year and a half old. I moved to Appleton with the pastor and his family in October of 2008 to start laying the ground work and looking for gathering space. When we found a place we started holding unofficial gatherings on Sunday nights in February of 2009 before our official launch on April 19, 2009.
When the adventure started, I never thought I would leave. My plan was to be at this church with this team for the very long foreseen future. I did ministry with my pastor for seven years and really never thought about the day that wouldn’t be the case.

But there’s an ugly side to why I never thought about leaving and it’s called pride. With just the pastor and myself on staff, I did just about everything except preach, cast vision, and do counseling. Whether I wanted to admit it or not there was a part of me that thought, “If I leave, the church will not survive.” Honestly, when God started whispering in my heart that it was time to go over a year ago, that was one of my thoughts. “God, that is crazy. The church isn’t even a year old, I’m comfortable here, I’m just getting settled, and I mean, let’s be real, this church needs me.”

Woah! Time out. That needs idea is a dangerous one.

God in His graced showed me that my church didn’t need me. And I hate to break it to you but your church doesn’t need you either. And to be really honest, I don’t think God needs us either. In His grace & mercy He uses us as tools to accomplish His purposes here on this earth. He graciously blesses us with the gift of being able to partner with Him in the spread of the Gospel. If He wanted to do it without us, I think He could.

That is something I need to remind myself of daily. And it’s one of the reasons I left the church. I recognized that for myself, where I was at, I needed to spend more time focusing on my relationship with God and not what I was doing for Him. What I was doing was becoming more important than being in relationship with Him.

I think for many who work in the church it’s a slippery slide from planting the seed and watering it to planting the seed and thinking we’re responsible for the growing. Before we know it we can get to a point where we’ve cut God out of His Church.

What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe – as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.
1 Corinthians 3:5-7

What helps you stay focused, remembering that it is God who makes things grow?

Hello. My Name is Peter.

I was reading the story of Peter walking on water the other day and something new struck me. Here is Peter, almost challenging Christ as he says “If it’s really you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus said “come” and Peter obeyed. It was windy, it was unknown (he’d never walked on water before), yet he got out of the boat…he moved in faith.

But only minutes later, Peter let fear take control and lost focus. In a panic because he’s now sinking, he calls out and Jesus reaches out his hand to catch up.

That…Peter giving in to fear…reminds me of myself. It reminds me of what life’s journey is about…the journey. Right now I feel like Peter. I’ve taken a leap of faith and climbed out of the boat. But, I know that there will be times of fear ahead as I venture into the unknown. I will daily have to make a choice not to give in to that fear.

Moving on faith isn’t a one time act…it’s a process…a journey. It is one that for me will define this next season of life. But there’s comfort in the fact that when I give in to fear and begin to sink, I can always look to Christ who will pick me up. There’s comfort knowing He’ll never let me drown.

The greatest part of the story is the very last line: “They climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. Then those in the boat began to worship Him saying ‘truly you are the Son of God.’” God knows there are going to be times when we give in and fear puts us in a panic, makes us want to run, etc. And it is in those times when we rely on Him to pull us through that He is glorified. When our situation looks impossible and we make it through, that is a powerful demonstration of who God is and what He is capable of. I love that God redeems our fear for that purpose…to show His goodness, power, & mercy.

Do you ever feel like Peter?

Freaking Out and Fighting Doubt

For those of you who think I’m “strong” “inspiring” “courageous” or any other adjectives I’ve heard in the last three months, thank you, truly, but I’m going to burst your bubble…I’m not! I believe in being transparent and authentic…even if that means sharing the less inspiring, uglier sides of life.

I have been freaking out the last couple of days. Doubt, thoughts of giving up, asking myself what I’m thinking, all of it.

I’ve been waiting for the freak out to come since I made the decision to get out the boat. I think part of me, though, was secretly hoping & thinking maybe it wouldn’t come since it hadn’t yet. But, it did this week…big time.

It’s now Friday afternoon and I’m starting to calm down. God has proven once again that He is good, that He loves us, and that He has a plan. He has reminded me in big & small ways over the last couple of days that He’s got this.

But, it’s one thing to know all of that. Believing it with your whole heart & living like you do is a different story. Fear threatens to defeat us every day. So, more than likely I will get up tomorrow and be staring doubt in the face again, ready for another wrestling match. All I know is I’m glad I don’t have fight on my own because I’d lose every time.

Is doubt an unwelcome presence in your life? What do you do when it tries to creep in?

A Soundtrack for Transition, Dreaming, and Faith

Music calms me. It energizes me. It clears my head. It gives my heart words when I can’t find my own. One of the first things I did when I made the decision three months ago to take a leap of faith into a new chapter of life was put together a playlist. I called it my “living it” playlist – it was time to stop just talking and start doing…it was time to live the story God has for me.

I’ve added to this list as I’ve continued to journey through this transition and along the way I’ve discovered there are a ton of people I’m somehow connected to that are currently going through transition, following dreams, and taking a leap of faith. So, I thought I’d share some of the music that’s been inspiring me on my journey…reminding me why I’m leaping, reminding me what it’s all about in the end, reminding me to dream, and reminding me most importantly that He’s got this.

Whatever You’re Doing – Sanctus Real
Voice of Truth – Casting Crowns
Moving On Faith – Jadon Lavik
Yours To Take – Jimmy Needham
I’m Letting Go – Francesca Battistelli
Arms That Hold The Universe – Fee
The Motions – Matthew West
If Today Was Your Last Day – Nickelback
Don’t Get Comfortable – Brandon Heath
Done Living – Justin McRoberts
Potter’s Wheel – Daniel Bashta

This isn’t the complete list, but it’s a start. And my list could always use something new. What song would you add?