life beyond the well…


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Updates: Higher Definition Church

So, the last time I really talked about Higher Definition Church, was in this post, when we were 5 days away from launch…and that was 7 or 8 weeks ago.

We launched!

It was awesome.

Seriously, we successfully launched the church on March 15, 2015, and have been moving forward since.  Preacherman and I are so excited about how God is working in us and through us.  Every Sunday since launch, we have had people accept Jesus or rededicate their life to Him.  To God be the glory for things He has done.

A couple of things- you can access the podcasts to each of the messages through Preacherman’s website.  I encourage you to check it out, and share with others.  Because I love you so much, I’ve linked the messages below.  They’re good. For real, for real.

And- would you pray for us? It is our true desire to leave a footprint for the Kingdom in Jacksonville.  Pray for God’s guidance, for people to join us in this endeavor, for our families, for the families of those who have already partnered with us.  Pray for the city of Jacksonville- that hearts will continue to be open and receptive to the work that we have been led to do here.

Finally- connect with us! You can catch us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

I am so grateful for your love, encouragement, and support…and when you’re in Jacksonville, I look forward to you joining us at church!

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!

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Worth the Wait.

I married Preacherman at 29- which was about 4-5 years longer than I wanted to be single.  In my perfect life plan, I would have been married at 24 or 25, with babies coming along around ages 27-28.  I’d have finished having babies by 32 (at the absolute latest).  And we’d live happily ever after.

So, based on my own perfect life plan, I’m a little behind.  And while I generally hate being behind on things, I’m okay with it, because it has been worth the wait.

I love that I know and see so many young women who desire to be Godly wives; who spend their time committed to their church, and pursuing God so that they can be who God has called them to be.  And while I know from my own experience that waiting to be found can be a struggle, let me encourage you- IT IS WORTH THE WAIT.

I know that you get tired of hearing it. I know that while you’re happy for your friend, you’re not excited about adding another bridesmaid dress to your closet. I know the excitement of welcoming your friend’s newborn into the world, while wondering if you’ll ever have that life for yourself.  But please know, that it IT IS WORTH THE WAIT.

There’s nothing wrong with you for waiting.  But don’t wallow.  Enjoy your single time.  Travel. Shop. Save money. Start your business. Finish that degree. Follow the dreams that God has placed in your heart while you’re waiting- because when you get married, it’s not the same.  Marriage requires a consideration that isn’t necessary when you’re single–a consideration of another’s thoughts, dreams, purposes, and plans, and you have to proceed with prayer and caution.

I wish that I could say that I waited patiently to be found by Preacherman. If only that were the case. There were times where I would be content with my singleness, and there were times where I tried to force relationships that I knew weren’t for me.  But once I truly committed myself to my singleness, and becoming the best person that I could be, things (slowly) fell into place.

Please know, you are worth the wait- and it’s better to be alone than in bad company. My prayer is that you are able to enjoy this season for the blessing it is and understand the purpose it serves in your life and for the husband and family that you will soon have.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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The Path of Resistance

Working with students (and their families) is something that brings me great joy.  There’s nothing like working alongside people to help them reach their goals, or to put them on the path to reaching their goals.  In some ways, I like to think that part of my responsibility with my work is to create opportunity–to help them navigate paths and open doors that lead to many opportunities.

What I find challenging in this work is that more and more, I’m faced with students (and parents) who believe that opportunities come without resistance.  That things should be easy and without challenge–and that if there IS any sign of opposition then the opportunity must not be for them.

That frustrates me.  And it makes me sad.

The idea that things must always be easy and without challenge is a lie that is fed to us to keep us from reaching our full potential. The second that things get difficult, we’re ready to quit- and when we quit, we lose the opportunity to become more than we are in that moment.

I’ve heard Pastor Steven Furtick say it like this: “What has not been tested cannot be trusted.”  I’ve heard Preacherman say it like this: “There is no victory without opposition.”

In my own life, I’ve found that resistance is a sign that I’m on the right track.  It’s a sign that I’m pushing for a higher level, an increased capacity. And the result is that, I get stronger. I get better. My faith increases and deepens. But that doesn’t make it easy.  When you start working out and you exercise and strengthen your muscles, you feel a pain and tension.  But if you (when you) keep going, the pain and tension goes away, leaving you stronger and equipped to handle more.

Lord, help us to embrace resistance, knowing that as You call us, You equip us. Help us to trust Romans 8:28- that in ALL things You work for the good of those who love You and are called according to your purpose. -Amen

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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Book Review: Make It Happen

Y’all. This. Book. Is. Everything.

Okay, but for real.  I had a feeling that I might like Lara Casey’s book “Make it Happen”– because I really like Lara Casey.  I love her work, I admire her humility and transparency, and I think that she’s just an all-around awesome lady.  Plus, she lives in Chapel Hill, and anyone who has sense enough to live in the Southern Part of Heaven is alright with me.

But when I tell you this book took me all the way in…

This book is everything that an excellent book SHOULD be.  It’s well-written. It’s captivating and compelling. It’s inspiring.  It makes you think, and then challenges you to act.  And while ALL of that is great, what I really love about this book is the level of transparency shared by the author.

She kept it all the way real.  And as a result, I felt that I could trust the suggestions that she makes in the book for how we, as readers, can “make it happen”.

This book has been on my radar for a while, and I am so happy I read it.  I’ve already recommended it to quite a few people that I know, and I told Preacherman that I would use it for a book club at our church.  This book can (and will) change lives.

I encourage you to pick up a copy of Lara Casey’s book– read it and gift it.  There are a couple of people I know who will be receiving this book in the mail very soon!

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for a review.  All thoughts and opinions are mine.


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Recapping 2014

I can hardly believe how fast 2014 has passed.  I have such vivid memories of last New Year’s Eve, that I find it hard to understand that we’re at another one.  As I get older, I find this saying to be more and more true: “The days are long, but the years are short.”

This year has been nothing short of amazing.  Preacherman and I continue to fall more in love with Jacksonville, the people, and our hearts are broken for the city.  We are so excited to be here and to be used by God to reach others for the Kingdom.  Though there are times where we find ourselves missing North Carolina, our family, our friends, and all the great restaurants we love; we are enjoying the challenges of getting acclimated to a new city, making new friends, and finding new restaurants to love.  I’m finally starting to find my way around to the point of not requiring Google Maps directions everywhere I go.  A new grocery store has opened up closer to home that allows me to get fresh salmon weekly.  Our little one started kindergarten this year and continues to amaze us.  Small victories, but victories nonetheless.  We are truly blessed.

And now we gear up for 2015.  We are praying and believing for God to move in us and through us like never before.  2015 will be a landmark year in our lives, and I’m looking forward to watching things unfold!

Believing God’s best for you and yours in 2015!

Be encouraged!  Peace and blessings!


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31- I Know A God

And just like that, another year has passed.  Today, I turn 31.

I don’t really know what to do with 31.  I think that after 25, you just have the big celebrations for the years that are multiples of 5.  So…that means I have a few years to get ready for 35.

But what do I do with 31?

I feel really blessed and really grateful.  That has everything and nothing to do with my birthday at the same time.  But as I reflect on this year, what it has meant for Preacherman and our family, I think of this song, written by our friend Jordan.  Here are the lyrics:

“I just wanna sing about His glory.  I just wanna speak to you about how mighty He is.  I just wanna praise Him because He’s worthy.  I just want to live according to His will…Words can’t express my God and His ways. I give You all of the glory and praise.  Your name above all other names.  Your name above all names.  I know a God who reigns over everything, won’t change when everything around me does.  My faithful God loves me more than anything when I haven’t done anything to deserve His love…”

If there’s anything that I’m confident in, it is that I know this God of whom my friend sings so beautifully and passionately.  And I’m so grateful for His steadfast love and faithfulness.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!

A Birthday Request:  This year will be huge for Preacherman and our family, as we prepare to launch Higher Definition Church.  We are committed to changing lives and hearts for God across the city of Jacksonville, but we need your help!  Please remember us in prayer as we branch out to do the work that we have been called to do.  Please also consider donating to help us meet our fundraising goal!  We are extremely grateful for your love and support!


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One Step Closer: Higher Definition Church

I’ve been waiting all year to write this post, and I’m so excited to finally do so!

Last July, under the direction of God, Preacherman and I packed our belongings and moved to Jacksonville, Florida to fully the pursue the calling that He has given us: planting a church.

Since we’ve been here, we’ve been working and wrestling, praying and believing, and slowly making progress towards that goal.  While we are still a ways out from our launch date in 2015, we have our website set up!

This morning, Preacherman shared these thoughts on his blog, which explain the essence of Higher Definition Church:

If there is anything on earth that I want to be remembered for, it is that I did my best to show people the truth of who God is and the truth of who they are in Him. With that mind, within the next year, I’ll be leading a team in the launch of Higher Definition Church, here in Jacksonville, Florida! I’ve been told that sharing your vision is a way to make you accountable for it, so here I sit, typing away at the computer in my home, sharing with you that God has sold me on a vision to live a life based on a higher definition…God’s design for our lives.

God allowed me to try and live a life in which I prided myself in my accomplishments, economic status, relationships, organizational affiliations, and many other things. He allowed me to do so in a way that showed me that everything in life that we think makes us who we are is insufficient and unnecessary. He showed me that when all those things failed to provide me with enough validation or foundation in life, that He was still there, and He was more than enough!

So, God’s plan for my life is to share that message…to share that embracing how God defines us is the most fulfilling choice a person can make. But I can’t stop there; the mission is to teach the truth, develop people’s understanding and application of it, and release them to do the same. In other words, “be fruitful and multiply”. That is exactly what I intend to do, with God as my strength and my witness. Higher Definition Church will be used to bring life to the First Coast and beyond.

Please check out www.hdjax.com to learn more about the vision and how you can help!  We appreciate your prayers and support!

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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More About Me

I’ve been writing in this space for almost 10 years now, and while there are some things you might be able to guess about me just from reading, there are others that may surprise you.  I decided to share some of those things that you:

  1. Ketchup is my favorite condiment.  It’s been this way for as long as I can remember.  My mom says that I used to put ketchup on my eggs when I was little, but I have no recollection of that.
  2. Though I don’t have as much time for it as I’d like, reading is something that I love (which is why you see all the book reviews).  There’s nothing better than getting lost in a good book.  
  3. I’ve had 3 favorite colors over the course of my life: purple, blue, and now pink.  I’m slowly starting to like green, but I think it’s because I find myself often thinking of my grandmother, and green was her favorite color.
  4. Speaking of my grandmother, she was my first reading teacher and forced fostered my love for reading by making my read everything to her aloud.  The newspaper, signs, random sheets of paper- nothing was off limits.  I wish I could thank her for that today.
  5. I attended a high school focused on science and math- and while there I had AMAZING humanities teachers and a FABULOUS counselor that inspired me to work in education.  
  6. I never planned to attend UNC, but going there changed my life. I found Jesus, met my husband (though we didn’t connect on that level until years later), and became friends with some of the most amazing people in the world. 
  7. I hope to author several books over the course of my life.
  8. I am ridiculously southern, and have an unapologetic love for mason jars, monograms, and pearls.
  9. Before dating Preacherman, I rarely ate salmon. Now I have it for dinner once or twice a week.
  10. My work love language is “wearing jeans”.  I love jeans, but I don’t have the opportunity to wear them as much. When we’re allowed to wear jeans at work on days OTHER than Friday, I get so excited!

 


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Recap: Pastors and Leaders Conference 2014

This past weekend, Preacherman and I had opportunity to attend the 2014 International Pastors and Leadership Conference hosted by Bishop T.D. Jakes in Orlando, Florida.  We loved every minute of it.

Being busy without direction is dangerous because it can lead you to waste time, energy, and resources.  One of the biggest gains from this conference was being able to understand the HOW and the WHY of what we should be doing in regards to our ministry.  Not only that, we left with a clear idea of what we can do right now in our church planting process.  Every night, Preacherman and I found ourselves making to-do lists, reaching out to people, and processing all that we were learning.

A huge highlight for us was being able to connect with people–meeting others on the same journey as us, meeting people who have been in ministry for years, and seeing friends and family.  Our pastor, Andy Thompson presented at the conference on Marriage and Ministry, and did a phenomenal job! His session was engaging and entertaining, but grounded in wisdom and biblical truth.  It is such a blessing to be under the leadership of him and his wife, and we are so appreciative of their love and support of us in this journey.

There really are no words to describe how full we felt after leaving this conference.  Since being back, we’ve been hard at work applying the things that we’ve learned, building relationships, and finally hitting a stride in the church planting process.  Though we are at the beginning of this journey, it’s exciting to see things begin to take off and move in the right direction.

To God be the glory for the things He has done.

Be encouraged!  Peace and Blessings!


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At Once

Every time I read The Bible, I learn something new, or get a new “takeaway” (as I would say in my teacher language).  For someone like me who loves learning, I love the “aha” moments that come from reading The Bible.  I also like the stinging moments that come when I feel convicted.  I believe that both are necessary to get me where God desires for me to go.

I was reading the following passage from Mark 1:17-20 (NIV) and felt the sting of conviction:

““Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.  When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets. Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.”

This passage is where Jesus call his first disciples.  And what really sticks out to me in this passage are two words: “at once”.  Jesus calls out to Simon and Andrew (Mark 1:16 (NIV)), and they leave AT ONCE.

Whew.

How awesome is their faith and obedience? Jesus calls for them, and they stop what they’re doing, and followed him.  There is no delay.  There is no “wait til I’m finished” or “I’m coming, right after I finish this”.  They go immediately.

So many times the Lord has called me to do something, and I’ve hesitated. Instead of placing my faith in Him, and being fully obedient, I have chosen to casually follow the call, but not with the immediacy that the Lord requires (and expects).  I wonder how many missed opportunities are out there because of my lack of faith and my hesitance.  How many things have been delayed, not because of God, but because of me?  How might I have better impacted lives for the Kingdom if I had moved “at once”?

My prayer is that the Lord would give me an “at once” spirit, that I may hear His calling, and have the faith and obedience to move right away.  I’m believing the same for you, as well. I pray that we are never in a position where we feel that our agenda and our autonomy (free will) are more important than God’s authority in our lives.

Here’s to having an “at once” spirit, operating in total faith and obedience in 2014!

Be encouraged! Peace and Blessings!