Wednesday, March 25, 2015


Sometimes I hear the news and almost lose hope in the world. Between school shootings, ISIS, poverty and war in the world, and the financial situation of our country, it seriously makes me wonder if there is anything good in this world anymore. But as soon as my brain goes down that gloom and doom road, I am almost always immediately reminded, somehow, that God is in control. He has not given up on us, nor will He ever. And today's reminder looked something like this:

500 churches. 500 NEW churches. And all of this has only been in the past 12 years or so, with the bulk of them being in the past 5. Josh and I went to our very first Association of Related Churches (ARC) training as newlyweds before launching our campus in Illinois. We were probably one of 20 other couples, the "training" was more of an opportunity to hang out with other people who were crazy enough to try the same thing, but the people that we met, who were on staff and who had already planted a church before us, well, they're what got us. By far it was one of the friendliest, authentic, most joy-filled, encouraging group of people we had ever been around. I grew up in churches where I mostly felt judged (was I wearing the right thing? Did they look at me and think that I had ever messed up or was I playing the role of perfect daughter/sister/friend/Christian perfectly? Did they know that I went out partying last weekend or did I hide that well enough?), but this particular group of Christians was just so real, down-to-earth, and genuinely wanted to know us... about our hopes, dreams for this church, why we were going to go plant, and what our fears and struggles were. Yes, they wanted to know the good AND the bad, so that they could truly help us and be there for us. Special. That's what these people were.

When we felt that the time had come to plant TurningPoint (about 2 1/2 years later), it was a no-brainer that we wanted to partner with these wonderful people again. And they have been there for us every step of the way... good and bad... to once again encourage us, answer questions, and connect us to other people on this same journey. Real people who just genuinely cared, without an agenda or expectation of anything in return. And with their help, we became number #252 on February 12, 2012. It's been quite a journey, but our church would not be what it is without their help, love, and support. Honestly, I would not be the person I am today without their leadership and authentic love for us! And three years later, we are still growing, thriving, and seeing hundreds of people say "yes" to Jesus and an eternity through our church. Hundreds of people who walk in our doors broken and lost, and walk out filled with hope, restored, and wanting to share this newfound love with others.

Today we are taking a quick trip to Birmingham for the dedication of the new ARC office building, named after the founder of this great organization. The Billy Hornsby Center for Church Planting will see hundreds thousands more church planters come through its doors to be trained, equipped, and sent out in the coming years. And with every church planter, and every new church, I am reminded that there is still so much hope in the world. As a younger generation re-discovers the Gospel, or gets introduced it for the first time, and learns to live a life of generosity, integrity, honor, love, and so much more; for them to find that they are made on a purpose and for a purpose; for others to realize that there is so much more to live this life for than just ourselves- hope springs forth anew. And so I cannot watch the news and be depressed. Sure, there are things that sadden me, and there always will be. I will always have compassion and hurt for the brokenhearted. But I will continue to keep in mind that He isn't finished yet, and His promises are always true, and never broken. 

Today as well celebrate, I am so incredibly honored, proud, and humbled to be #252. I am in awe of what God can do through an ordinary person who just decided that living selfishly and doing life her way was not fulfilling (and wasn't working), and so she said "yes" to what seemed to be a crazy dream of her husband. I am amazed by a God who promises that your past can be left behind and you can be a new creation in Him. He knew my sins and my path and gave me a husband, children, and partnered me in a ministry that I do not (nor ever will) deserve. He makes all things new, and these 500 churches are just the start of the newness that is cropping up all over the country. And they're only getting started...

[Galatians 6:9] Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

Friday, March 20, 2015

"I See a Church..."

My heart could burst this morning. Here lately, I have felt the nudge to get on this blog a little bit more often, not just to keep this up as a personal journal about my family's adventures, but to write a little more often about how to do this whole motherhood thing in a way that is God-honoring. How to better pour the Word into our kids, and how to really make it worship. For the longest time I could never really pinpoint where I wanted this to go or what I wanted it to be about (particularly because it was started purely just to keep my family updated on what our family has been up to), and lately I have just felt in my heart that this is the direction I'm supposed to go. The thing is, nobody ever feels worthy enough to try and lead people in this way. I mean, I mess up DAILY. I have times when I feel like I'm knocking it out of the park, routinely getting up early and spending time with God before having to do all of my mommy duties (and honestly therefore doing them better because of a more joyful attitude), and then I have those nights when I lay down and wonder what I did all day. I think I just came to the realization that even if I did get up at 5am every single day, and even if I did read my Bible every single morning, and even if I was the most consistent, self-disciplined woman in the world, I would still have nights like that. And to be honest, no matter how hard I try, I guarantee there are going to be days where I would rather choose (and probably still will) to sit on the couch and watch  mindless TV shows instead of actively investing in and leading my children. I just really hope that over time that happens less and less. I want first and foremost what I do at home to matter, and if I can help other moms along the way find the joy in the Lord through their own journey, then I want to be a vehicle to help them, too. Even if I sometimes don't get it perfect myself.

But back to my heart bursting...

Last night I heard Josh and Jacob talking up in Josh's office. This is not a rare thing, as Jake really loves to go sit up there with Daddy and pretends to do work. But this time it sounded different. Jake was speaking with a different rhythm in his voice, and as I walked up the stairs a bit, it sounded like he was... well... preaching.  And then I heard him say, "I see a church..."

Jake has rarely sat in "big church" with me to listen to his daddy preach. He is usually back in our (awesome) kids' ministry having his own lesson, but does see glimpses of his sermons from time to time via web videos or non-Sunday morning events, like our volunteer rallies or times of prayer. On our three-year-anniversary, Josh preached a message about the church that he sees, and he used this "I see a church" phrase repeatedly. It would give you chills if you listened to it. But the crazy thing is, Jake wasn't in there, nor do I think that he has ever seen that message, and if he has, it would have been a super short snippet. But on a day when I wonder if what we do at home matters, and if we are leading our children in the right direction, and if they will end up following God and developing a faith of their own, God gave us a moment that I will cherish forever. God let us know loud and clear that it's more about what we do, and how we live our daily lives, than it is about what we tell him to do. We ccan teach him right from wrong all we want, or we can live for Him, so that He will also live to serve and love God by our example. On his daddy's podcast microphone, up in his daddy's office, this little five-year-old boy of ours preached his very first sermon, with no help from either one of us. God can use anyone to speak to us. And thanks to my little boy, my feelings have been confirmed. I don't get it right all the time, but we sure do the best we can.

I hope you enjoy this as much as we have and I hope the link works! I may have to try and upload it differently if it causes any problems:

Click here to listen to Jake's Sermon

And if you want to hear Josh's version, or any of his messages actually, you can download our new handy-dandy TurningPoint Church app! I particularly recommend last weekend's message!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I genuinely cannot believe that my little man is a five-year-old. I remember when he was born, I would look at the people around me who had children around five or six, and I would think that it would be forever before my child was that big! Moms always say it goes by fast, and since I generally like to buck the cliche, I just chose to ignore that. But they all say it because it's so darn true... the past five years have gone by in a blink, and every year seems to get faster and faster. The good news is, every year just seems to get better and better, too. Sure, I already miss his baby and toddler phases, those cute chubby cheeks and sticky hands, but with each passing year his personality gets bigger, his laugh gets louder, his knowledge and curiosity about the world gets deeper, and my love for him gets stronger. Sure, we have our days when we drive each other a little nuts, but that happens at any age... it's just a part of it. And just so that I never forget, here are some of my favorite things about our sweet, baby Jake:

  • He loves to get a laugh! He tells jokes, makes funny faces, and already understands sarcasm far better than most kids his age. And when HE laughs, it's the loudest, most amazing sound in the world and it fills the whole room. I know this comes from his dad, and that's what I love most about him, too!
  • He is such an encourager and thinks of others first! No matter what we're doing or who we're with, he is always telling others how wonderful they are, how they can do it (whatever it is in the situation) and giving others a turn. He always makes sure to make cards for his friends on every holiday and even invited a friend of Lilly's to his birthday party so that she'd have someone to play with. My heart melts with his sweetness.
  • On a similar note, he makes friends with everyone, everywhere he goes. We stayed at a condo in West Palm on our trip, and the pool was surrounded by snowbirds. He swam right up to an old man and said, "Hi, my name is Jacob. What's yours?" He befriended a 90-year-old named Robert, and eventually had the full attention of just about every senior citizen around. On our next leg of our trip he swam up to a kid around his same age, introduced himself again, and then added, "I like to play video games. What do you like to do?" I love his boldness, and hope it never goes away.
  • He is fearless. Seriously. Take this kid to an amusement park and he wants to ride Ev-er-y-thing. We just got back from Disney where he went on the Tower of Terror like it was no big deal... and of course he had a huge grin on his face the whole time.
  • His L's are still W's. I know the day that he says "Lilly" instead of "Wiwee" will crush my heart, so I am soaking it in while it lasts.
  • He is always hungry! It does not matter if we just ate a huge meal, he will be asking for a snack about five minutes later. Any time we arrive at my parents' house or Josh's dad's house, the first thing he says is "I'm hungry." It's a bit of a running joke actually. He doesn't really love sweets, and dislikes chocolate, but he loves fruit (mostly watermelon, cantaloupe, pineapple, and apples), cereal, and ice cream sandwiches.
  • He's way into Lego's. He still wants us to build them, but will play with them for hours.
  • He's even more way into video games. He'd play all day if we let him (which we don't!), and I am always in awe of how quickly he can pick up on any game and excel so quickly!
  • He's athletic, but we still don't know what sport he'll end up playing. The kid loves to run (and he's pretty fast!) and he's got the build to play just about anything. We're trying baseball this spring, but we'll see how it goes. He also loves to swim and just last week ditched his floaties. I asked him to try and he swam all the way across the pool two minutes later. I was one proud mama!
  • He loves babies... partly because he has their undivided attention and they laugh at him. I cannot wait to see him with our new little one here soon!
  • He is pretty particular about what he wears. He will get dressed and then tell me that he's "stylin' and profilin'!" He tears a whole in just about every pair of pants that he has (the same knee every time) and then refuses to wear them anymore. I can't wait for this warmer weather so we can do shorts again!
  • Aside from that phrase, he has many that he says on a regular basis. Things like "silly me" when he messes something up and "what are you kidding me?" I have no clue where he picks this stuff up.
  • I love hearing him pray... it's the sweetest, most sincere, conversation with God. He can also tell you several Bible stories, but almost all of them include Noah in some capacity.  :)
Although we celebrated a couple of times on our trip to Disney last week, Jake basically informed us that he would be having a party. He told us who would be invited, what kind of food would be there, and that he would have an Angry Birds cake. I have to say, it was the most last-minute, impromptu, but incredibly stress-free party planning ever... and maybe one of our most successful parties, too! I think we should just throw it all together at the last minute every year!

Happy birthday, Jacob Stephen. Thank you for making our lives so much FUN!