Tuesday, August 2, 2011


If someone had asked me to define my identity six months ago, I could have easily done so:  wife, mom, worshiper...with a few other secondary labels sprinkled in.  I knew the path that lay before me and I was very happy to stay on it.  While it took most of my twenties to discover this, I knew who I was, and who I was not.

What I’ve learned in this last six months is that God always has more for us than we will ever know.  It’s unwise to base our future on our past experiences.  The past shapes who we are in the present, but doesn’t determine our future.  So much in fact, that many stories in the Bible depict God changing the names of His followers;  Abram to Abraham, Saul to Paul, Simon to Peter, etc. He realized that their identities were wrapped up in their names and this would change the way they saw themselves.  Case and point, imagine you have a different name...It changes the way you think of yourself, doesn’t it?

Jeremiah 18:6 says “...As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand.”  I want to continue to be molded by my Maker – to not just see my identity through my own abilities and experiences, but to see myself the way He sees me.   I will not always hold the positions I do now, but I always want my heart’s cry to be, “Here I am – send me, use me, change me, mold me!” 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Leading with Confidence

I once heard an academy award winning actress say, "50% of acting is confidence...".  I've come back to that quote many times in my life.

We are often given leadership roles based on our skill set, or at very least, the willingness to fill the position.   I was given the role of Worship Director at C3 Church Atlanta, in part, because I can play piano, sing and I love to worship.  These skills come naturally to me and I've been developing them since the age of 13 (although my mom would say since the age of 2).  But, those skills alone don't make me a leader.

Several years ago, being one of the newer worship leaders in our church, people would come up to me after I would lead and say "Great job!"  For a while, this was how I measured my "performance" as a worship leader .  I remember clearly one night God saying,  "You may not always receive accolades, but I am always pleased when you lead others into my presence."  That changed everything.

Psalm 57:7 says "My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!"  This doesn't just apply if you're a worship leader, we're all called to glorify God through what we do for Him.  It's dangerous to base our success on others' approval because, frankly, we can't please everyone!  We must place our confidence in the One who gave us life and opens doors for us.

Remember that no one can manufacture confidence for you.  If your leader has given you a position based on your skills or willingness, you should honor them by leading confidently.  You may not always make the right decisions, but great leaders would always rather correct a little along the way than be in a constant state of frustration because you won't move forward.

Always ask God for wisdom and guidance.  If we're listening for His voice, He will help us navigate through difficult situations.  Be open to correction when it comes (and it will).  Place your confidence in Him and honor Him by believing that He can do great things in and through you.

My humble beginnings :)

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Value of Worship

Worship services are not rock concerts, nor are they the entertaining bit before the message.  Sadly, without realizing, people can tune out or miss the first few of minutes of a service because they don't feel they will miss much.

The challenge is to train your congregation to understand and value worship.  Worship services are not a 4 song set then on to the next thing, it's an opportunity for God to fill us as we exalt him in our lives.  This is a challenge worth pursuing.  I've been in many meetings where God began to move so much that we just ended up staying in worship for the whole service.  People can sometimes feel uncomfortable or get tired and want the service to move on, but the bible says "wait on the Lord and He will renew your strength" ~ Isaiah 40:31.  I'm not suggesting that we get rid of messages in our services; scripture and teaching bring revelation that people need in order to live fuller lives.  I am suggesting that we train and challenge our congregations to go deeper in their intimacy with God through worship.  Quality over quantity.

Worship opens people's hearts to receive more out of your services.  It softens us and opens our eyes and ears to heaven's perspective.  Worship cultivates good soil in us, so that God can plant seeds of revelation that will flourish.  Worship moves God back into his rightful position in the center of our lives.  God created us to worship Him and this is what our future in heaven will consist of!  Teach your churches to value worship on a deeper level and watch their lives transform because of His presence!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Embracing Frustration

James 1:2-4 MSG

v2.  Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides.

v3.  You know that under pressure your faith-life is forced into the open and shows it's true colors.

v4.  So don't try to get out of anything pre-maturely.  Let it do it's work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in anyway.

WOW!  This passage is speaking very strongly to me this past week.  Everyone of us faces seasons in our lives where things don't go our way.  Sometimes we have control over them, sometimes we don't.  In any case, we are presented with a choice to let these frustrations take us out or take us up.

I love that Paul calls tests and challenges a gift.  Our natural response to challenges is to back away from them.  Gifts, on the other hand, are rarely refused.  Seeing a challenge, not as a problem, but as an opportunity to grow us will cause us to embrace it.

Walking through a challenge is never easy and when the pressure is on, reality can overwhelm us.  This is when leaning on God is extremely important.  But, filling ourselves with His Word and keeping our prayer life vibrant is just as important in the good times as it is in the bad.  We would not expect to run a race without training first, therefore it's important to invest time into our relationship with God so that we're stronger in crisis.

Growing up I was not very active.  I played softball and enjoyed it because there wasn't a lot of running involved and usually it was only in short spurts.  If faced with a running drill I would sprint as fast as I could to get it over with-usually ending in a sad, lung-burning walk half way through.  Endurance was not my specialty and I wanted nothing to do with it.  This all changed a few years ago.  Through participating in triathlons I got a revelation of the importance of building endurance in life.  I learned that sometimes you just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, sometimes you have to tell yourself 'just keep going' to the rhythm of your cadence until you've completed your race.  My friends and I joke when we arrive at a race, asking each other why we keep putting ourselves through these events.  We put ourselves through it because of what we feel at the end.

Frustrations are a part of life but they're usually the catalyst that enlarge our capacity, elevate our faith and prepare us to live the life God has called us to!

A New Chapter...

So much has happened since my last post.  I wish I had written down all of my thoughts along the way...should've, could've....

January was supposed to bring an automatic dose of vision but I felt I had missed it.  I continued on, praying that God would give me the new vision I was looking for.  Our worship services were going really well, but I started realizing it was time for me to stop carrying the services and push others on our team into the deep end.  After all, raising worship leaders is a pretty important part of my job.

One Mid-February Sunday morning, I felt God say it was time to prepare the worship team to thrive in my absence.  That same morning I asked the team to stay alert at all times during the service.  That I wanted ALL of them to start thinking like I wasn't there and that they were in charge.   

Before I move on, I want to say this...there's always a story within the story.  One of my dreams was to travel and speak to other worship teams but whenever I would pray about it I could feel God saying, not yet.  Over the years I have come to realize that God gives us the desires of our hearts when we're ready for the responsibility that comes with them.   We have to believe that God is not holding us back but preparing us.  Above all, we have to trust him.  God's timing is perfect.

Two days later Ps Dean and I had a rather unexpected conversation.  Ps Jeff and Sunny Kane had become the campus pastors of C3 Milton and were taking it to the next level.  Ps Dean presented the idea of running the women's ministry as Ps Sunny would be giving more focus to C3 Milton.   Needless to say, I did not see that coming.  What did I know about being a women's minister? Seemingly, nothing.  How did this line up with my dream of traveling and speaking?  Seemingly, it didn't.  Honored and a little puzzled by the path being laid before me , I accepted the new charge.

I'd be lying if I said I felt completely confident after our conversation...I'd be lying if I said I didn't shed a few tears.  I had no idea what my life would look like with this new addition but I knew it I would be stretched - I felt it almost instantly.  Sometimes in order to move forward in life, we have to give up the things that make us feel comfortable. 

God has started filling me with more vision than I can take in (for both departments).  I feel an anointing I didn't have before.  The filter I used to see through has been removed and undeveloped gifts are now being activated in me.  I am completely thrilled about what lies ahead for myself and the gorgeous women I have the honor of serving.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Fuel is in the "Yes"

Last year I heard my Pastor Jill Sweetman speak this over someone:  "The fuel is in the YES." It has stuck with me ever since. After hearing a great message from my friend Caitlin Henry, I was inspired to write this...

When my husband Kevin and I first moved to Georgia from FL my capacity was that of a 5 year old.  We started attending C3 and instantly had a close knit group of people welcome us in to their family.  We had 5 invitations a week for lunch after church and dinner invitations 3 out of 5 week nights.  For a home body who was used to the slow and easy this was quite an adjustment to make.

My first several years here were challenging.  There was always an opportunity for me to serve or socialize, but I didn't see it as opportunity.  I saw it as something that would take me away from my home time, aka, my agenda.  After a while I realized I was missing out some amazing things because of my decision to say no.  I started seeing that the "yes" people were moving forward and I was not.

I slowly began to work the word yes into my vocabulary and after a couple of years doors started opening...flash forward...

In the spring of 2009 we helped plant the Asheville, NC church.  Our Sunday mornings would start at 6AM.  We'd do a sound check and 2 services in Lawrenceville, pack up our gear and our 3 year old, grab lunch and embark on a 3 hour tour, sorry, drive ;).  We would arrive in just enough time to help set up the PA, do a sound check and start the meeting.  Later, we'd tear down, grab dinner with the locals and drive home, arriving around 1AM.  I'm exhausted just thinking about it!

I truly believe one of the biggest reasons I'm doing what I am today is because of my choice to say yes.

Is it always easy? NO.

Is it comfortable? 33.3% of the time.   

Do I feel I'm in the center of God's will?  Absolutely!

Now, a word to those of you who tend to say yes to everything...

There are very few things I say no to now.  When in doubt I consult my husband, my pastor, or closest friend (depending on the situation) who will all give me true insight, not just tell me what I want to hear.  Not too long ago I was asked to speak at a conference in another state, which I was very excited about.  I asked my pastor how he felt about it and he gently suggested that I needed to choose my "extras" wisely.  I heard him loud and clear.  After thinking it through I realized this wouldn't be the family weekend getaway I was hoping for.  It would have been a work weekend with little or no down time.  We would have returned exhausted-just in time for the next work week!

Let your default be yes. But if you tend to over-commit, seek wise council in managing those commitments. God loves movement.  He loves it when we step out into something we're not quite sure we can handle.   It gives Him the opportunity to show us what He can do through us.

Friday, January 21, 2011


John 4:23 MSG
...“the Father is out looking for: those who are simply and honestly themselves before him in their worship."

I love it!  God wants you, the real you.  He wants you, in all your strengths and weaknesses. He wants your imperfections, your quirkiness, your whole heart!  

Some of my most memorable times of leading worship have been when I've forgotten the words to the song or I've said something semi-funny to get people to laugh (usually at me).  They're memorable not because I was embarrassed, but because it reminded me I don't have to be perfect - hey, it's not about me anyway!!!  

Don't get me wrong, I want our worship services to be the best thing going every week, but I'll take genuine worship (albiet full of technical errors) over 'well-rehearsed' (but that's about it) any day.  We should always bring our best before God...mix that with a genuine desire to touch heaven and you've got the makings of a great worship experience-even if it's full of mistakes!

Don't hold back in your worship because you don't feel adequate.  God knows we don't have it all together; we wouldn't need Him if we did.  Take the focus off of your insecurities, mistakes and short-comings and focus on His merciful, unfailing love.  Determine to give Him your best effort in worship and watch Him move like never before!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Obedience Vs. Sacrifice

Genesis 22:2  “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.

Can you imagine how Abraham must have felt? How many alternatives must have flashed before his eyes? This was his promised son that he waited so many years for.  It's natural to struggle with this story and I can safely say, very few of us (if any) will ever be asked to do what Abraham was asked to do.  But let's bring it into leadership context... What about when our leader asks us to do something we don't agree with, or when we think we can come up with a better idea?  This is when sacrifice can begin to look more appealing than obedience.  What do I mean by sacrifice?  It's not uncommon for us to feel challenged when we're expected to comply (especially when we don't understand the reasons).  The temptation of doing something we feel is more valuable, more convenient, or will give us more credit can become very strong.  We justify our lack of obedience by sacrificing something that suites us better.  At this point, we've put our interests above our leader's.

Abraham could have come up with a dozen alternatives.  He could have asked Sarah her opinion on the situation and I assure you, this would have only made things more difficult.  Abraham could have reasoned his way out of this difficult ask but he chose to honor God by obeying.   The story goes on...

16 “This is what the Lord says: Because you have obeyed me and have not withheld even your son, your only son, I swear by my own name that 17 I will certainly bless you. I will multiply your descendantst beyond number, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will conquer the cities of their enemies.18 And through your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed—all because you have obeyed me.”
"All because you have obeyed"...God elevates Abraham, because he obeyed.  Remember this story the next time you feel challenged or want to justify going a different direction than you've been asked.  God is looking for people who would honor those he's put in authority over us.  I'll leave you with one last verse...
I Samuel 15:22 But Samuel replied,  “What is more pleasing to the Lord:  your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice?  Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Power of Words

Here we are - the first week of the year!  There's something so exciting and motivating about standing on the precipice of the unknown.  Our Pastor, Dean Sweetman, spoke this past Sunday about God's individual Word for our life this year, using John 1:1-5 as the basis for his message.  Let me save you the time to look it up...(NLT)

1  In the beginning the Word already existed
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.

2  He existed in the beginning with God.

3  God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.

4  The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.

5  The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.

I'll be going back to that passage frequently!  The challenge in his message was to find the word(s) God is speaking over your life this year.  The word you'll go back to when the going gets tough. The word you'll use to take you further than you've ever gone before.

I was kind of hoping my word would be something really epic like..."Pioneer" or "Prosperity".  But, while I'm sure someone else very deserving got those words, I got one that was a little less exciting.  And that's just what I needed.

I've had words in the past that have absolutely changed me.  A few years ago "Vision vs Complaint" ruled my world.  Ps Jill Sweetman had preached an incredible message about choosing vision in all situations rather than complaining about them.  Having a natural bent towards negativity, this was extremely challenging.  But, as I continued to choose vision my mindsets began shifting, things that would normally have taken me out became catalysts for successes in my life.

A year or two later my words were "Discipline IS Happiness".  When I began my fitness journey almost 4 years ago this phrase kept me going on those frigid mornings I was meant to be getting out of bed for a run, or the 6AM swims.  I found that when I chose to follow the schedule I had set for myself I was much happier.  I still come back to this phrase now and then when I find myself in a slump (fitness or non-fitness).

This year, my word means a lot to me (and maybe, just me).  It's exactly what I needed for the challenging areas of my life.  God knows.  My word has been there waiting for me to find it, waiting for me to acknowledge and trust it.  My word has creative power.  My word will be there for me when I run into mental road blocks or when I face doubt.

I encourage you to find God's word over your life this year.  By doing so, you are creating an opportunity for God to do something extraordinary!