LEADING AND LOVING IT EVENT: ORANGE COUNTY

Leading and Loving It is a community that connects, encourages, and supports pastors’ wives and women in ministry.

“I think the “typical Pastor’s Wife” is dead. You know, that woman who had it all together, never seemed to struggle, played the piano, attended every event, and met everyone’s expectations … although she could have had some help with her wardrobe.

We spend mass amounts of time, energy, emotion, and effort comparing ourselves to a myth. And the problem is … I fall short. My attention turns to my shortcomings and failings instead of staying focused on God and who He created me to be.

But the truth is, God knew exactly what He was doing … exactly who He was calling. He knows my shortcomings and my struggles, and He has extended His call to leadership and ministry anyway.”

-Lori Wilhite (Founder of Leading and Loving It)

Next week I am hosting an event for Orange County pastors’ wives and women in ministry. We would love to see you there! Leading and Loving It is cheering on women in ministry everywhere. They want to see us succeed in our ministries, our marriages, family life, and spiritual growth. I believe in the power of community. I’ve seen what happens when people realize they have things in common. We are better together. I think as women we have unique stories to share, struggles to overcome, leadership skills that can help shape the future of the Church, and great potential to change the world.

Let’s do it together.

It’ll be a night filled with fun, laughter, and some sweet treats while giving you the chance to connect with other women in the area.

Here are the details:

Date:  Friday, November 4.

Time: 7:00-9:00 p.m.

Location: We’ll be gathering at a good friend’s house in Lake Forest, CA. She is a pastor’s wife and a seasoned leader with tons of ministry experience. Just leave a comment to let me know you’re interested in attending and I’ll email you her address.

RSVP: Leave a comment on this post including your email address and I’ll email you back with the location and address. You can also follow me on twitter—I’ll follow you back! Just direct message me, and I’ll DM you the details.

Forward this post to other women in ministry or pastors’ wives that you know here in Orange County!

I’m looking forward to seeing you!

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MY HEART IS FULL

Last weekend was really special. It was a unique combination of family, dear friends, and 26.2 miles in a city that we absolutely love.

After months of early mornings, heat, hills, and logging miles— John and his best friend Dave joined 45,000+ other people to run the Chicago Marathon.

First. marathon. ever.

I went along to cheer for them while the brothers spent the weekend with Grandpa and Grandma just outside of Chicago in the town where John grew up. It was a little warmer than usual for this time of year in the midwest, but you could tell by the slant of the sun, the crispness of the breeze, and the combines in the fields along Interstate 55 harvesting the corn, that it was fall.

I have never run a marathon.

My dad has. My sister has. I have three cousins who have. My husband has.

I know from my experience of screaming his name from the curb at the 3-mile marker on LaSalle, and giving him a quick kiss at the 12-mile point just before he reached halfway, and seeing the emotion on his face at mile 20.5 that this is no small deal. This is a huge accomplishment. He did whatever it took to get across the finish and I am really proud of him. They didn’t give up when they could have. They finished. So cool.

After the race, we headed out of the city to meet a sweet collection of friends from our season of ministry in New Hampshire. We hugged, and cried, and laughed, and talked the night away at Sweet Tomatoes in Schaumburg, IL where you can get all the soup and salad that you can eat.

It was like a homecoming—seeing those faces.

It was a night filled with life-giving thought and reflection. God reminded me in that noisy restaurant that he weaves our stories together with others in very special ways. I looked around the table and I saw leaders, and gifted teachers, and poets, and compassionate-hearted grace givers. I saw lovers of the Church, and artists who create beauty, and people who are making a difference, and courageous friends willing to share their journeys of growth. I saw world-changers.

I thought about what Paul says in Philippians.

Every time you cross my mind, I break out in exclamations of thanks to God. Each exclamation is a trigger to prayer. I find myself praying for you with a glad heart…There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

Philippians 1:3 (The Message)

My heart is full. Full, indeed. Exclamations of thanks—so true.

WHAT MOVES YOU?

“The best ideas must move you before they can move someone else. And so you must begin at your core. Find that thing that causes a lump in your throat and moves you deeply—then work from there.”

 -Blaine Hogan (Untitled, Thoughts on the Creative Process)

I just really love this.

It’s a call to inspire. A reminder to not go numb. A charge to passionately create.

SKIMMING VS. PLANTING

When John and I were first married, we had dear friends that taught us a very valuable life lesson.

Plant deep roots.

They taught us that wherever we are, whatever we’re doing—dig deep, do the hard work, and build relationships. Life will be richer and far more meaningful for not having skimmed the surface.

Here’s what I think. Skimming is just smiling and waving. Planting is looking someone in the eye and asking the hard questions. Skimming is talking. Planting is listening. Skimming is scratching at the surface. Planting is having people in your home for dinner. Skimming is pat answers. Planting is sharing the burden. Skimming is quick judgements. Planting is understanding and grace. Skimming is stagnant. Planting is growth.

Skimming is the natural tendency. It’s the easy way out. And, I have to confess that there are many times when I feel the urge to skim. To listen and nod, but not really hear. To turn inward and think about myself instead of looking around me and getting involved in the lives and stories of others.

Planting deep roots is full of risk and has powerful implications.

You might get hurt. You might get left behind. Your faults, and cracks, and things you try to cover up could be exposed.

But you might also be changed for the better. Learn how to share life with others. Be inspired to be who God wants you to be.

Laugh harder.

Love deeper.

Dream bigger.

Some days I have to remind myself that it’s worth it. That it’s worth the hard work of knowing and being known. Some days I fumble my way through—looking for signs of life and understanding over a cup of coffee with a new friend. Some days I want to give up and go back to skimming.

Planting deep roots takes time. And I have to be willing to put the time in. I have to be present and open to what God wants to teach me each day. It means nurturing relationships and letting people in.

This quote is from one of our favorite books. John and I read it together on Friday mornings over bagels and cream cheese and Nantucket Nectars at a special breakfast spot in New Hampshire. The words in the pages of this book have shaped us in big ways.

“When a tree puts roots into the ground, those roots are able to take in nutrients and water, and the tree grows and has life and strength—but only if it is rooted. In the same way, we are rooted and our souls are nourished in the love of God and other people. We experience this both physically and emotionally when we connect with somebody.”

— John Ortberg (The Me I Want to Be)

It is worth the investment. I know it. I’ve experienced it. I’m grateful for it. I think it’s really the only way to live. The end result is life-giving—producing friendship, and community, and joy that transcends geography and time.

WELCOME SUMMER

Summer is officially in full swing. Everywhere you look the season has left its mark. There are watermelon slices in the fridge, wet swimsuits slung over shower rods, and the air-conditioning is running full blast.

This is our first California summer. Which is kind of big deal for us. It has been a year of milestones and this summer season is no exception.

One year ago we were re-roofing our house in New Hampshire, packing boxes, and wondering what life in Orange County would look like. We knew God was calling us to move. We were confident California was his plan. But, we were leaving something pretty special. Our roots in Manchester were deep. We had many questions, expectations, and hopes. There was one thing we knew for certain. God wasn’t going to abandon us. He wasn’t going to leave us hanging.

Mrs. Oliver

One of God’s greatest gifts to us came in the form of two great teachers for the boys. Our first public school experience in California was by far richer because of Mrs. Ryan and Mrs. Oliver. They understood our boys, taught them to be leaders, made them laugh, and inspired them to learn. Mrs. Oliver was a huge baseball fan—perfect for Noah. Mrs. Ryan talked in funny voices—couldn’t have made Hayden happier. Their rooms were cheery and covered in wall to wall original art. They taught spelling and selflessness, practiced timed math tables and teamwork. Their classrooms were families of 32 students discovering who they are and who they want to be. We were blown away by their love for Jesus and the way they freely showed that love to their students. I wanted to hug them and tell them thank you on a daily basis.

Mrs. Ryan

God didn’t leave us hanging. He showed up in big ways through these remarkable women.

The last day of school brought tears as we said goodbye. Not from the boys, of course. But from this grateful mom who was reminded by two school teachers that God provides us every little thing we need.

We welcome the more relaxed pace—slower mornings, working by the pool, and day trips to visit new places. Swim lessons are on the calendar, summer guests arrive next week, and thanks to Hulu there’s plenty of SYTYCD to watch. Welcome summer.

BEGINNING AGAIN

It’s hard to believe we have been here in Orange County for nine months. That’s almost a year! We have had a lot of people ask us how we are doing with the transition. Our answer is almost always the same.

It’s hard.

Moving is not for wimps.

It is by far the most difficult thing we have ever done. I have been surprised at how long this transition has taken, and still is taking. I have been surprised at how well the boys have adjusted. I have been surprised at where friendship has sprung up, how much we are learning, and doors God is opening. This new place in life and all the challenges of settling in have been uniquely life-giving.

We find ourselves face to face on a daily basis with who we have been and who God wants us to be. And everything about that means growth. We reflect. We cry. We dream. We dig deep and get to work. The uncertainty and wonder of it all looms as large as the state of California is long. It is surely God’s greatest adventure in our lives so far.

I love the song Beautiful Things by Gungor. We have had the opportunity to see them live twice this year. Their passion, artistry, and ability to capture my deepest desire in song to God moved me deeply. And by deeply I mean — crying like a baby in the balcony of a church during a time of worship. It is a song for this season in our life.

All around 

Hope is springing up from this old ground 

Out of chaos life is being found in You 

You make beautiful things 

You make beautiful things out of the dust 

You make beautiful things 

You make beautiful things out of us 

I hear these words and I think about the tension between the past and the present. How God can take something that was and make something new. And for me, the something that was — that old ground — was defined by comfort and familiarity. It was knowing a place and yourself in that place like a well-worn sweatshirt. It just fit right.

Change has rough edges. Even in sunny CA. It is itchy and scratchy and doesn’t feel right against the skin. There’s a lot of yanking at the collar and maybe a few tantrums. But all things new begin that way. Unfamiliar with the sweet spots. Tight in places that eventually will stretch.

I remain hopeful that God is creating something new in me. That one day soon a fresh green shoot will push up from the soil of my heart and I will look at it and think…so this is what you were doing God. This is what all the scratching and pushing and pulling was about. Beautiful.

A NEW BLOG FOR A NEW SEASON

Yes. We’re blogging again.

I know. You’ve heard that before.

But this time we are hoping it sticks. For real.

This will be the place where we share our thoughts and ideas about ministry and keep you up to date on what is going on in the life of our family. We hope you’ll come visit us to hear what we’ve been thinking, learning, and reading; how we’ve been growing, leading, and living.

A lot of things have changed in the last several months. We have changed coasts. We have changed jobs. We have changed schools. We have changed churches. We wear shorts in the winter and we say we’re freezing when it is 60 degrees out. It’s ridiculous.

It is a new season.

But loving God and loving people is still the thread that is woven throughout all we do. It is what we strive to let permeate our words and our actions. That hasn’t changed. (That, annnd we still cheer for the Red Sox.)

It seems fitting — a new blog for this new season on the West Coast. We can’t wait to share with you how God is shaping and stretching us each day!