Feelin' Chalky

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Sticky Situations

Feeling Stuck?

What was the last thought, idea, dream, offer, opportunity that you shrugged off, shied away from, talked yourself out of, doubted, or gave up on? I used to think that things in "God's will" were easy and didn't require much work or effort...they just magically fell into place. However, the older I get, and the more intentionally I chase after God's will in my life, the more I see the opposite is true. God will always make a way (even when it seems like there is no way possible) and God will always be there walking beside you and will bring people and opportunities into your path at the perfect time...but we have to be willing to step out and make ourselves available when He calls. I have found that most of the time when I feel stuck in my life it is because I said, "no," to something (big or small) that I should have said, "yes," to. Usually the no comes from a place of fear or uncertainty. Most of the time the fear creeps in because I have unknowingly shifted my focus onto what I can do and my own capabilities and limitations and not where it should be - what GOD can do and His capabilities - they are limitless!!

When I recognize that I am stuck and remember WHO is in control then I am able to step out in confidence. Once I move past the stuck places and conquer those fears and insecurities God usually (but not always) responds with an outpouring of new opportunities and connections, and I gain wisdom that I will need for the next leg of the journey. That is a beautiful place to be in even though it doesn't last long before the next step of faith needs to be taken. 

Growing into who God created you to be is hard work, messy work, and sometimes painful work. It exposes the darkness and brokenness in you so that God can shine light on it and provide healing to others who are struggling. It is not for the weak or the prideful or the faint of heart. Actually...I take that back! It IS for the weak and the prideful and the faint of heart, the insecure, inadequate, broken, least qualified...but it is not an easy road and it takes constant, mindful surrender every single day. I say all of this to say:

Don't give up!! Press on, and fix your eyes on Jesus! He has already made a way for you and He is with you wherever you go!

Here are some of my favorite verses I cling to when I am in a stuck place or having "growing pains":

Hebrews 12:1-14
Joshua 1:6-9
Philippians 2:13
1 John 4:18
2 Corinthians 12:9
1 Peter 5:6

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Taste and See!

"I will praise the LORD at all times. I will constantly speak his praises. I will boast only in the LORD; let all who are helpless take heart. Come let us tell of the LORD'S greatness; let us exalt his name together. I prayed to the LORD, and he answered me. He freed me from all my fears. Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy; no shadow of shame will darken their faces. In my desperation I prayed, and the LORD listened; he saved me from all my troubles. For the angel of the LORD is a guard; he surrounds and defends all who fear him. Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh the joys of those who take refuge in him! Fear the LORD, you his godly people, for those who fear him will have all they need. Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry, but those who trust in the LORD will lack no good thing." - Psalms 34:1-10 NLT

Oh how I feel this verse right now deep down in my soul! I have so much to be thankful for - so much praise to give!! So many amazing things are being orchestrated in the lives of my friends! So many stories to tell of God's redeeming power, of His contstant provision...and above all of that...of His unfailing love for his people!

But I cannot even begin to put into words the work He is doing in my heart and in my life - I can't even take it all in at times. My daughters (and maybe my husband) are getting baptized this month. (How marvelous!) I get the privilege to celebrate another year of life which after all of the loss I have seen and experienced over the last several months is truly a gift and not a promise. (How wonderful!) And some quiet time of reflection (which is super hard for me) has shown me just how much He has grown me as a leader, friend, mentor, mother/wife, vocalist, and Christ-follower over the last year. (Is my Savior's love for me!)

I have done things in the last year that I have to stand back and say, "Only God!" I have heard things spoken to my heart that were so overwhelming and beautful that I have to stand back and say, "Only God!" I have experienced more joy, more awe, more faith, more trust - Only God! And I have been attacked from every angle by the evil one but not overcome - Only God!! What an amazing journey! I can't wait to see what awaits!

A little over a week ago I was feeling weary - tired, defeated, unsure. I sat alone in my house with my bible and my thoughts. I started asking God (as I often do) if what I was doing was still lining up with what He wanted. I was struggling with what my next step was - was I doing enough or was I just being impatient. I am an all-in person - most of you who know me at all know that I tend to do things with great intensity or not at all. And when I am passionate about something - well look out! Ha!! But God has shown me over the last year that so much of the changing and the refining and growing that He does in us is done in the routine - the mundane, the quiet. So I just wanted to check in and see if this was one of those times.

Sidebar: One thing I have felt a great desire for over the last several months was a female mentor that has been where I have been. Someone who has been in the worship leader role - someone who understands the unique challenges a woman faces both internally and externally as they move through chasing what God is calling them to do. I have been blessed with several great male mentors at Oakbrook - I call them "my guys." Haha. They have taught me so much and have taken me under their wing and encouraged me along the way - they are so important to me, but there is still something lacking. It is hard to speak openly about challenges that I am facing with any man other than my husband. Those emotions are so raw and personal, and my husband is a great listener, but he doesn't (and can't) fully understand. So I prayed. And I kept praying. And I had friends pray.

In the quiet of that day God brought an image to mind. Oddly enough it was of a post I had seen on Instagram several weeks ago. It was an image of a screen - full of women on an online conference call. The image was posted by someone I greatly admire and have admired for many years. The caption said: "Just a little peek of some of the women worship leaders that I have had the honor of leading over the past 6 months online. God is raising them up and they are also now going to raise others up. Love you ladies and how you have surrendered every bit of who you are to Jesus.. #WorshipCircle." So I looked through the comments and happened to see a link to find out about what Worship Circle was.

I spent quite a while reading about the program and found out that it is an "exclusive small group mentoring community for Worship Leaders and Worship Pastors that takes place over a 6 month period." (taken directly from the site) It is a place where worship leaders are mentored, trained, and given community with other leaders of their gender. The women are led by Christy Nockels (think: the Passion movement) and the men are led by Todd Fields (Northpoint Church). Along with the mentors other teachers like, oh, Kari Jobe (anyone know her??) and Kristian Stanfill, David Crowder, Chris Tomlin, etc also jump on board. I continued to read about it and got more and more excited. 

I decided to apply even though the info sheet that was emailed to me to read before I applied stressed how limited the opportunity was and how small the group was. It reminded me to not get discouraged if I was not accepted and to not take that as an indication of the amout of (or lack of) giftedness. I filled out the in-depth application that  also had to include links to videos of me singing. I hit send and moved on with my day. I started doubting, but God kept reminding me that if it was something He wanted for me that He would make it happen. 

The next day I received an email from Todd Fields thanking me for applying. He informed me that Christy's spring group was full and that they weren't even going to start looking through applications for the fall group until late summer/early fall. He reminded me (again) that they had lots of applicants and that is was a very small group and that not being chosen was not an indication of giftedness, etc. I emailed a quick, "thank you," and filed it into the "closed door" category.

Last Thursday I received an email out of the blue from Todd. This time he was writing to inform me that there had been an unexpected opening on Christy's team - for the SPRING term that started that day! He wanted to ask if I would want to fill that open spot...uhhhh...YES!!!! Unreal! I think I cycled through just about every emotion like someone who is completely mentally unstable and then I called my husband to tell him the news and of course said yes! I am still somewhat in shock. I am so excited and anxious to see what God will teach me through Christy and the other women over the next 6 months. And if there ever was a time for the phrase "I can't even" it is now! ;-)

Would you pray for me over the next 6 months - a prayer of celebration and thanks? I know God will do great things - things that only He can do. What an answered prayer times 1,000,000! 

"God, please send me a mentor?"
"Ok. How about Christy Nockels?"

Haha. Also please pray that I would be open and moldable - that I would be able to juggle all that life is throwing at me - and that God would protect me from the evil one. I know all too well that when something BIG happens to advance God's will in my life that the evil one is lurking. 

I can't wait to share my experiences with you all! It is going to be a wild ride!!!


Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The "&" of Worship

I have been thinking...which is often a dangerous thing. A post by Lysa Terkeurst last night really triggered some emotions and insight that I have been keeping on the inside.

"Here's an encouraging word for someone tonight - don’t think you’re not doing what God called you to do just because things don’t seem as glamorous as you thought they would be. 
If you are a woman who honors God right where you are, you are in ministry. Keep being obedient, keep looking for the next open door of opportunity, and above all else hold closely to our Lord." - Lysa Terkeurst

A lot of people assume that leading worship is glamorous. That getting up on a stage and singing and leading people in worship must be exhilarating. That the people on stage are in some way hyper-spiritual - always living on some kind of "God-high."I can't speak for everyone, but for me the very opposite is often true. Yes, there are definitely moments where I feel completely overcome by the Spirit, where I feel like I am soaring...but not because of my own talent, spiritual fervor, or awesomeness. 

If I have learned one thing more consistently over that last year (ish) it is that true, authentic worship - worship that inspires and moves and soars is worship that comes from a place of struggle, brokenness, lacking, sometimes sadness and frustration. That is what makes it so beautiful. Just because a person may be a gifted singer or speaker or musician doesn't mean that stepping on the stage week after week is an easy and always exciting process.

For me the process has been humbling and terrifying. But God. But always God. God continues to meet me through the fears and tears and doubts. He continues to ask me to have those emotions but do it anyway. Lay aside my insecurities about my body. Set down my perfectionism. Strip away pride. Refine motives. It. Is. Hard. Nothing about the process is easy - at least for me. Yes, I am gifted. God has placed in me an ability to sing. But that doesn't make USING that gift easy - putting myself out there, exposing my heart - my most intimate moments with God for all to see.

I spent many years singing. Singing is a little easier - less risky. When I sing I can still be guarded. I can "put on a show, " entertain, but still protect the deepest cries of my heart and soul. I never dreamed that stepping out of the mindset of a singer into a worship leader would be such a risk. As a singer your greatest risk is hitting bad notes or getting off tempo, but with leading the stakes are so much higher. 

I know each time I walk out on to the stage that if God does not show up and work through me that what I deliver will be empty, meaningless "noise." It may sound good (or not - ha!) but that is where it stops. It doesn't MOVE. And for some people that may be OK. In fact, it used to be OK with me. I used to gauge how good a song I sang was by the amount of or lack of mistakes. That was before I experienced leading through the Holy Spirit. Once I had experienced that - there was nothing that I could possibly do to measure up.

Leading in any capacity is messy business. I rarely feel the need to celebrate my "successes" but instead find myself consistently surrendering, setting aside ego, stripping off walls that have been built up to present myself completely and fully to God to be used in the way that He sees fit...even when I don't want to. Especially when I don't want to. Especially when I don't feel like it. Especially after a fight with my husband and especially after a rough day with my kids or unpaid bills or unmet expectations. Especially when I have to get down on my knees and beg God to use this measly gift one more time for His greater purpose...when I know good and well that He doesn't need me. But He does choose me. And He does love me. And He loves you.

Don't get me wrong. I have enjoyed this journey and I so look forward to where God will take me next. I am having so much fun learning and experiencing new things. My creative side is completely bursting with thoughts and ideas and vision. I just know that for every "high" moment I get to experience with God there is another side to it. There is a spiritual battle raging. There is a whole person (a very imperfect person). There is life to be lived. A couple I really love and respect recently put it so well - there is joy & sorrow. God is deserving of our undivided, fully engaged worship ALL OF THE TIME. There is no hiding from the trials of life just because you decide to step into ministry. Life doesn't just all of the sudden get easy or make sense.

I have so much more respect for those of you who have served or are serving as church staff and leaders. I understand now just a tiny piece of what it must be like to continually give of yourself to the cause of Christ - the ultimate call on all of our lives. Thank you. We often take what you do for granted. I now can see your brokenness but I also see you lay that aside in humble surrender and "do it anyway"...because...God. Because always God. And the stakes are far more higher if we don't.