Why are 5K runs so popular? I don’t think it’s for the exercise, and I don’t believe it’s just the challenge. I know the reason I love them. There’s something special about running alongside others, and the accomplishment you achieve together that makes it so much fun. And the very best 5K’s have people positioned along the way, lining the streets, cheering you on. It’s awesome! You run further and faster than you thought you could, and have an great time doing it. Knowing people are watching and cheering makes a difference. Do you remember we as Christians, as a serve team, we are running a race? Right now, as I type and as you read, we are running a race. Some of you know, and you sweat and bleed every week with your eye on the prize. Some of you used to know. You ran like the wind in the beginning, but then something happened. You hit a hurdle too high, or an obstacle too great. You got tripped up, and before you knew it, you settled into a pace that felt more comfortable, or maybe you stopped moving forward altogether. And now, the thought of gathering yourself up and hitting the pavement again seems too hard, too costly, or simply like too much work.
Consider this truth from a fellow race runner in the book of Hebrews:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”
Who knew organized 5K runs were Biblically inspired? We too are being cheered on at every corner and on every stretch of road by runners who have gone on before us. Who are these witnesses? I believe they include those men and women who have paved the way of the church throughout history. Many of whom not only gave their energy, time, and resources, but people who were crucified, stoned, and literally torn apart by lions to make sure the church continued. They were all in. If the church lost ground in their generation, it wouldn’t be because they didn’t run hard enough or fast enough. They ran until they bled. They ran until they broke. They ran until they died. They literally fell across the finish line to be caught up in the arms of the One who gave His life first.
What a glorious finish!
I want to run that hard. When the great race of life is over, I don’t want Jesus to find me lounging under a tree somewhere along the course, selling my wares because I got distracted by providing a good “American Dream” for my family. I don’t want those witnesses watching to see me basking in the awesome world God created more than I work and sacrifice for the church they literally watched their children die to pass on to me. I don’t want someday to watch my very own children and grand-children saunter along the path, missing the meaning of life, because that’s the very pace they saw me set before them. Fellow runners, please remember, as I remind myself today, when the burden feels too heavy, when the road looks too long, when the sun is too high, and when your legs are too weak . . . Let us remember . . . WE ARE BEING WATCHED. We are being cheered on by those who literally bled to pave the course for us. Oh, what would we see and what would we hear if the veil was lifted, and we could see their faces, hear their stories, and feel their sacrifice. We would never be the same.
I pray we have the courage today to throw off the distractions that tangle us up. When we feel tired, when we feel like stopping, I pray we have spiritual eyes to see and remember those who went before us, and pick ourselves up and RUN! No matter what it takes, no matter what it costs. For the church’s sake, for our descendants sake, for the sake of those who died, for the sake of the One who gave every single ounce of life He could give . . . I don’t want to walk! I don’t want to skip! I don’t want to rest! For God’s sake…I want to RUN!
Recently, Randy and I were part of a panel on stage at a conference, and the title of the segment was, Secrets That Lead to an Awesome Marriage. I saw those words and my knees went weak. How could I get up on stage and attempt to represent an awesome marriage. Sure, we are in a good place after 18 years, but it’s a day-to-day process and the barometer of how hot or cold our marriage runs fluctuates weekly, so to say it’s awesome seemed pretentious. I had to reconcile this in my head before I could attempt to share any secrets we may or may not have found along our merry marital way.
Then it hit me. Our marriage IS awesome. It is awesome in the same way that any mighty act of God is awesome.
We aren’t perfect. We’ve argued. We’ve raised our voices. I’ve cried. He’s been aloof. We’ve put our own needs above each others. We’ve hurt one another. We’ve been distant.
But we’ve also forgiven one another. We’ve encouraged one another. We’ve prayed together. We’ve gone on great adventures together. We’ve surprised each other. We’ve had movie-worthy romantic moments. We’ve built a life, a family, and a future together. We’ve never given up on one another.
I decided that day on stage that awesome does not mean perfect. Awesome means stepping back and beholding something that is beyond your doing. Awesome is acknowledging there is someone greater holding all things together. I decided to look at our marriage like I do rocket science.
*If you are a rocket scientist, you aren’t allowed to read the rest of this. Please exit stage left. But if you’re like me and don’t have a clue…enjoy!
I don’t get how rockets work. I don’t understand how something that huge gets off the ground. Sure, I could probably fool a five-year old into thinking I know what I’m talking about, but I don’t get it. You could give me all the parts and even a manual about thrust, ignition, lift, fuel, and gravity, but I couldn’t launch a rocket. In my hands, it would be a giant heap of useless metal. I also cannot tell you step by step how to have a great marriage. There is no single manual or lone method. But, what I can do is tell you in the moments when Randy and I both surrender our own will to the One who created us. When we put the plans and the pieces into the hands of the One who holds us. He takes all of that willingness and trust and teaches us how to be merciful like He is merciful, how to give like He gives, how to forgive like He forgives, and how to love one another like He loves us.
No. Randy and I alone in a marriage does not equal awesome, but allowing God to have His way in our relationship and then stepping back and looking at how far He has brought us and how much He has taught us . . . yeah, I can honestly say it’s pretty awesome.
I have an awesome marriage.
Just like my silly rocket science metaphor. In the hands of someone who knows what they are doing…the little parts and pieces, the fire and the fuel, the weight and the lift, it all comes together in a way that makes you stand back and say,
“Wow! THAT is AWESOME!”
So, yeah . . . in the same way any act of God is . . . my marriage is pretty stinkin’ awesome!
After discovering the casket and the heads in the basement last night, I had to do a quick run through the house when I arrived. Carefully going through every room and closet before feeling ok with being alone in the manor house. Today’s goal was scraping the popcorn off the ceilings in the master bedroom (the blue room) and one of the boys rooms (the peach room).
Tool of the day…really tool of the year…my wall scraper. I forgot how handy this thing is And it’s mine. You touch it, move it. or heaven forbid lose it…you are going in the basement with the heads and vampire casket.
The peach room had painted felt wallpaper. Sounds like a hot mess, but it made the paper come off in nice big sheets. Silver with fuchsia velvety flowers…I can’t imagine what the room looked like covered in this. The mere remnant was blinding enough.
The north wall of the north bedroom had this underneath it all. I LOVE it. This will be my boys room though. I’m trying to convince them flamingo type feathers could be masculine…with the right bedding. 🙂 Don’t you love it? A little glaze brushed over it with some raw umber mixed in…it could be amazing.
The master bedroom is no longer blue after shedding a nice thick layer of painted wallpaper. It’s always good to find help, and if you find the type of help that doesn’t require your step-ladder? Even better. 🙂
And it’s always nice to have friends who help from afar…via text.
Day 1 is done! Feel free to stop by anytime. Just ring the bell to announce your entrance. Any unidentified humans/possible poltergeist will promptly be disposed of via my proton pack and gun circa Ghostbusters 1984…a girl’s gotta be ready. 😉 Oh…and bring cookies!
Master: popcorn ceiling removed, wallpaper scraped
North bedroom: popcorn ceiling removed, wallpaper scraped
*blog unproofed due to extreme fatigue and Advil PM
If I could sit down with you over coffee. If we could chat while our kids played at the park. I would tell you of all the incredible things God has done at The Edge and how much I cannot and will never take any credit or thanks for any of it. In fact, my heart’s desire is that I be removed from His service if ever I decide that The Edge is because of me. I would want my lamp stand removed if ever I take credit for His Glory. I would also tell you how broken my heart has been, how persecuted I have felt, and how lonely the journey has been at times.
I like honesty. I admire transparency, and I truly don’t know how to communicate any other way. So when someone once asked me what the most challenging or surprising part of starting a church had been, the answer floated off my lips before I even gave it much thought. The most surprising and challenging thing about starting a church has been, without a doubt, the reaction from many of my fellow Christians, my own self-professing brothers and sisters in Christ.
No one is exempt here. It wasn’t just strangers or acquaintances. There were family, friends, and members of previous churches we had attended all in that mix, and it’s still something we contend with today. Even my sons were told at school by other kids, “My parents say your Dad’s church is stealing all the members from other churches.” I know who these kids are. I know their parents. We sit beside them at ballgames. We wave in carpool. We pass in the grocery store and smile…even now…especially now. Because, like I told my sons when they looked to me for advice on how to deal with fellow Christians throwing rocks…we show God’s love…always. If Christ can love us while hanging on a cross that His own people nailed him too…how much easier should it be for us to continue to love those brothers and sisters who throw stones. But did you catch the key words there? Fellow Christians, rocks, brothers, sisters, stones, suffer. Shouldn’t it read more like: Evil, stones, haters, rocks, satan, and suffer? It’s the single saddest reality of the Christian world today in my life. We profess Him with our mouths and then blaspheme the very work He is doing in our midst. Some even try to stand in the way, blocking others from coming to know Christ, finding new life, or being baptized according to The Word, just because it’s happening in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Since when is Christianity about comfort? It just makes no sense. But every time it takes my breath away, catches me off guard, or makes me want to scream, cry, or blog…the Holy Spirit brings to mind one sentence from Jesus’ own mouth, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” I can hold on. I will hold on.
Our family keeps much of it in. We don’t talk about it often. We don’t call people out, or slam them publicly. We smile, and wave. We pray and hold fast to the vision God has placed on our hearts, and that is to reach every single person in our community with new life through Christ, and when we are done here, we will go to the next community, and the next. Our job at The Edge will NEVER be done. Our church will NEVER be big enough as long as there is ONE lost person left in our reach. If you doubt the passion or the vision, come and see. Just come close, and if the same Spirit that communes with the God of Jacob, Abraham, Isaac, Peter, John, and Paul lives in you, then I can assure you He will be faithful to reveal what He is doing at The Edge if you are willing to not let fear, pride, or tradition stand in the way. But woe to you who are blind guides, and determine that those things God has ordained are not of Him without even coming close enough to see.
I’ve always said I would go to the ends of the world if God called. I would face lions, tigers, and bears. I would navigate the jungle and the desert. I would live among remote tribes. I felt like a brave Christian, ready and willing to do anything He asked. I never imagined simply being called to our own backyard would be so tough and so heartbreaking. But let me end on this solid note…I would not change it for anything in this world because I witness miracles like these every single week:
Facebook Post from Sunday, July 27, 2014 of a man who I have never met, but hope to meet soon.
“Just came back from the edge church! That’s something I haven’t done in a long time!!! And it feels good to feel his presence 🙂 I am proud to say that i’ve given my life back to God! I now know that without him i can’t do it alone. I’ve been keeping my heart cold for so long and have shut people out. I know that without God I am nothing. I’m done feeling that way. Today I cried my heart out to the lord and asked for his forgiveness!!”
Come close friend, brother, and sister…come close and see. Don’t be blind and don’t miss what our Father is doing in our midst. He’s changing lives, and someday you will know without a doubt that He was here…doing a new thing. I pray it’s because you witnessed Him firsthand and not because He asks you on that day, “Tell me son or daughter, who did you say I was…in Clinton, Oklahoma?”
“I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” John 17:21
I have let the cat out of the bag, which I am often known for. Speaking of, why is that always a bad thing? Why is keeping a cat in a bag the good side of that metaphor? Anyhow, I have let everyone know that it is I who will be bringing the At The Movies message this weekend at TheEdgeChurch.tv. Why share the secret? Because it’s important for me to lower everyone’s standard before they actually view the message.
I need everyone to know that I am not at all comfortable with preparing and delivering a message to nearly 1,000 people. Had I truly taken in the fact that it would be a crowd that big when I sat down to write it, or when I stood to record it, I probably would have punted it to Randy or Brandon. So I am thankful that God didn’t allow me to let that sink in a couple of months ago. The other thing I need people to realize is this…I am not a preacher. Last weekend, someone said, “Aimee, I hear you will be preaching next week!” I was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa! Let’s back that vocabulary train up and pick a different verb.” I’m more comfortable with the word rambling or at the most sharing. I write things and send them out into the great big internet world all the time, and it doesn’t bother me one bit, but the thought of making a captive audience endure my thoughts for 30 minutes? Makes me panic a little. So here is what I’m asking. If you are a friend, family member, or a stranger who happens to stalk me on Facebook…just come. Come and say hi. Come and give me a hug. It would be so great if this weekend was about my dear friends showing up and supporting me rather than having to focus on the fact that my face is nearly 14 feet HUGE three times over in the auditorium. You’ve followed the posts, you’ve watched the church grow, you’ve witnessed God moving in a new and awe-inspiring way…and maybe you’ve been waiting for the right Sunday to drop in. This is it! It would mean so much to have friends and family from near and far there when God takes me to my own personal edge and nudges me over. Will it be life-changing? Only in God’s hands, but I’m simply shooting for mildly entertaining. So take a Sunday drive out to The Edge. I’m asking, inviting, shamelessly begging, and it would mean the world to see some of your cyber faces in real life. We can take some selfies, hashtag #IRL, and make it a friendly faces reunion. Come and say hello, and sit captive for a few minutes while I share with you how God, fantasy, reality, and fiction sometimes intersect in such a magical and beautiful way. Have a great week and see you AT THE MOVIES! 🙂
@ The Frisco Center 101 S. 4th Street Clinton, OK
I’m a crier. No seriously. I cry all the time. Happy or sad, it doesn’t matter. I will find a deep and resonating spiritual meaning behind absolutely anything and then glass over with tears. Now, I use this to write and communicate with others, but there was a time in my life I hated this little fact about myself. I couldn’t make it through a church service, a song, or a good Folger’s commercial without ruining my mascara. When I was a teen, I had the honor of praying with a young girl while she asked Jesus to save her, and I remember her asking me afterward why I was crying more than she was. I began to feel foolish over my tears. I had a preacher even once tell me that I was emotional, and that kind of behavior made me appear weak and too womanly, not strong and of sound mind.
I pondered on these thoughts and struggled to keep my emotions and empathy in check. On a hot summer day a few years later, I was helping some older and more seasoned Christian women cook at church camp. I was lamenting about how all the kids must think I’m nuts because I cry every time one of them makes any kind of spiritual decision. One of the kindly gray-hairs next to me stopped, put down her knife and said, “Aimee, I used to have a broken heart like you. I cried everyday, and because of fearing the same kind of judgment, I worked hard to shut off that part of me. I started to swallow the tears, and stifle the compassion. I would even think of other things when my heart was moved, just so I wouldn’t cry. One day, it wasn’t so hard to not cry anymore, and then later the tears wouldn’t come at all. I had calloused my heart to the joys and heartaches of the people and lives around me so much that they couldn’t even break the surface. I wasn’t a Weeping Wanda anymore, but I was hard, unfeeling, and unable to comfort others. So I got down on my knees and asked God to break my heart just one more time. I promised to never hold a tear in again if He would just let me feel. It was in that prayer that a single tear trickled down my cheek. I began to laugh, and then I just cried. The dam I had built to hold it all in had broken, and the river has never gone dry since. Don’t hold in your tears. A broken heart is a heart God can use.”
Of course, when she said it, I was crying…like I am now while typing it, but I have never forgotten it.
Recently I traced the trail of tears back to the first time I felt foolishly and uncontrollably heartbroken, and found something big, something momentous. Of course, most things are big and momentous with me, but just keep reading, I think you’ll agree this one is pretty good.
I was 12 years old and had finally worked up the nerve to walk down the aisle of my huge Baptist church. I was a ball of nerves and can’t remember even stepping out on the blue carpet, but the moment I uttered the words, “I want Jesus to save me” is as clear as a bell. I also remember what happened next, I started crying. They led me and three other girls to a room where they talked with us about our decision. I kept crying. A sweet woman named Mary prayed with us. I just kept crying. She asked us a few more questions and talked about baptism. More tears. Finally she dismissed the other girls and asked me, “Aimee, are you okay?” I wiped my cheeks and smiled, “I am. I just can’t quit crying for some reason.” She smiled back and handed me a box of kleenex.
Looking back, I now know the reason. The Holy Spirit broke me, and called me to be a Weeping Wanda from day one of my new life with Him. My heart was overwhelmed then, and it pretty much stays that way all the time. Yes, it breaks and bleeds all over the place, and eye-makeup is usually a moot point on days like Sundays. Perhaps that does make me too womanly or too weak, but I believe it’s not just how God created me, it’s who He re-created in me on March 12, 1989.
So do I have any kindred spirits out there? Any fellow Weeping Wanda’s? There are three things I can offer. Sometimes our greatest weakness is our greatest strength, God can use a heart broken for what breaks His, and Lancôme Definicils is a really great non-smudging mascara.
“Those who sow with tears,
will reap with songs of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
Will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.” Psalm 126:5-6
Perhaps in one of those online forums where people can log in anonymously and say anything…even if it’s a lie? It’s been a long while since that has happened to me…high school maybe…that is until we got serious about God’s calling and started a church. My heart has been broken in a million new and different ways since then. Some are painfully beautiful…works of God’s own hand, meant to grow my heart and make me more like Him. Such as when he used a broken woman’s life to bring me to tears, and show me why the job He has called us to is so important. That’s a beautiful kind of break, but it’s the other kind of heartache I’ve been learning to handle with grace, gentleness, and reverence. Like when you find discouragement and negativity where you had expected only excitement and encouragement? Ouch! Those strike like guided missiles fired from behind enemy lines. You never see it coming, and suddenly you go from walking on air to eating dirt. Some people find it easier to let these things go, but I’m a bit of a fighter by nature, verbally that is, and I don’t relent until I have bent you to my own way of thinking…using gentle, persuasive, and reverent brute force, that is. My sister used to lovingly call me a mental terrorist. Lovingly. I have gotten better though, more tactful in my older years, and she has now promoted me to mental ninja. That has such a better ring to it, doesn’t it? But in the past few months, I’ve learned to lay down my verbal nunchuks, take a deep breath, and remember the beautiful humility of Jesus during His last days on Earth. When people slung insults and hurled stones, He prayed for them, He loved them, and no one could ever doubt that love by His words or actions.
How much I want to be like Him.
I’m new at this pastor’s wife gig. The amount of joy it has brought is overwhelming, but the doors it has opened for criticism and negativity threaten to steal that joy often if I can’t learn to wield the power in I Peter 3:13-17.
“And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? 14 But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, 15 but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; 16 and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. 17 For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong.”
This is my current struggle. This is where the rubber is hitting the road these days. Do not fight fire with fire, but face the naysayers with acts of kindness done for His glory, and by trying to live a life that offers no one any ammunition to use against us. Quite a clever anti-ballistic strategy if you ask me.
…and I hear it takes one to know one, my dear sister. 😉
YES! OUR GOD IS, ALL HE SAYS, ALL HE SAYS HE IS! Do you believe that? I know without a doubt every member of our launch team is nodding their heads in agreement right now. We have seen things I don’t believe everyone gets to see. Not because we are innately special, but because God called us and we were willing. Anytime you have that combination in place, you are going to see something incredible…something miraculous.
As we wait and anticipate September 8th, a day written in God’s history for who knows how long…maybe forever, I hope and pray you are still holding strong to giving up something you love for something you love even more. If you are like me, it’s beginning to get tough. I have to say aloud sometimes, “I love what You love more, God. I love what You love more, God.” as I walk away from the bakery at Homeland. I laugh and make jokes about it, but what we are doing has such serious undertones. It shows God that we are willing to sacrifice. Something people today aren’t too familiar with. I also see it as an offering. God is always with us, but I believe the Spirit of God is going to fall in such a way that is unlike anything this town has ever seen on Sept. 8th, and we are storing up a gift of sacrifice to lay at His feet. Sure, in my case it’s a tower of donuts, cake, cookies, bread, and sugar. That may sound humorous and seem insignificant, but they aren’t there alone. In that pile is also a good amount of time, money, sweat, tears, faith, and hope. All things I’ve given to God knowing that He is who He says He is, and in His hands my offerings become so much more. And even if in the end, all of this was just for one…one lonely lost soul coming to know the same hope and faith that is worth all the Krispy Kreme donuts in the world to me…then it was worth that and ten thousand times more.
We are getting ready to see a miracle, ladies and gents. In spite of our faults, our failures, our pasts, our hang-ups, our sin . . . God is using us for His Glory. This will be one of the things we tell our grand-kids about. This will be one of the things we write about, sing about, talk about, and worship about for years to come, but I pray it’s not the last thing. My prayer is that this is only the beginning of living like we truly believe God is all He says He is, and with faith like that . . . Jesus in Your name . . . we could change the world!
So stay strong, pray like crazy, and sacrifice until it hurts. “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
May God find us and strengthen us.
P.S. Here is the song that inspired me tonight. Brandon and the band do such a great job with it, but this little YouTube video will have to do for now.
We are behind the box office calendar, and finally viewed the critically acclaimed Life of Pi last night with our kids.
It was a fantastical story told with some pretty spectacular and beautiful cinematic images. The action and drama kept me engaged throughout the entire film. However, It did become evident in the first few scenes that the writer embraced and promoted a ‘multi-pathways to God’ worldview. I wasn’t surprised because the family in the story was from India, but I was not looking forward to cultivating an argument of why polytheism doesn’t work with the God of the Bible for the next two hours. I contemplated turning it off, but then realized this was a great teaching moment for me and my kids. I’m not a fan of the ‘stick your head in the sand’ approach to opposing world views. I would rather be knowledgeable and empower my kids with facts rather than leave them vulnerable with only pragmatic arguments to defend their faith. In our brave new world they’re exposed to all kinds of ideas, and this movie gave me the opportunity to witness how they sort out polytheism when presented with it in such a pretty and persuasive package..
Perhaps the most powerful moment is when the listener is given two possible true stories and asked which they prefer…the writer points out that neither version changes the outcome, or the underlying purpose of the story …only tells it in a different way. Sounds lovely and artistically abstract and enlightened, doesn’t it? Unless you love truth, seek truth, and believe there can only be one truth. In that case, you want to know which story is the right one. After all…they can’t both be true. Common sense negates that theory on a basic level. So here is where I fell off the writer’s polytheistic metaphor…although it was a well-versed and fantastically presented one…I found it a bit impotent in the end. I’m still monotheistic…one God and one Path.
Overall, yes, the film was beautiful and entertaining, but it is what it is… Polytheism101.
Brother: 1. A male having the same parents as another or one parent in common with another.
Well that’s the definition. The very basic explanation of two boys born of the same parent. Is that what comes to mind when you hear the word, brother? If you’re like me, there are many thoughts attached to a variety of emotions that race through your head when asked about brothers. Some of you may think of men who don’t even share your blood, but have shared enough of your life that they have earned the esteemed title. The following video inspired me to return to my blog and pour out a little of the love. One last thought and then grab a kleenex and watch the video. I’ve always heard the Jewish pictograph for compassion depicted two oxen pulling on the same yolk. True or not? I’m no scholar of ancient languages, but I think it’s an inspired idea. Can you really have compassion for someone if you are not willing to come along side them, strap on their hardships and burdens, and help pull them a ways through life? Sharing the weight of this world…I think that’s where God’s love abounds. The older brother in this story knows how to help pull…in more ways than one. Now watch and have a good ugly cry.