Archives For perseverance

A Little History Reposted

stacynewell —  December 28, 2013 — Leave a comment

robin

I wrote this story five years ago, but am reposting it today in honor of my friend.  This story changed the trajectory of my life and will always be a catalyst for why I give my life to love others.  When you look into the eyes of a stranger, you never know what story you are seeing.  Treat people with all the grace and mercy you can muster.  Be blessed!

 

I was born a twin…OK, I wasn’t, but it seemed like it.  Just nine days after I was born, my next door neighbor gave birth to a little girl.  Robin and I became friends just like our mothers were.  We spent everyday together growing up.  All of my childhood memories include her.  We laughed, fought, and forgave quickly, just like sisters, for the first eight years of our lives.

It was Robin who convinced me to play doctor and put super glue eyedrops in her eyes.  Oops.  It was Robin who hit me over the head with a toy that left a dent in my forehead.  It was Robin who made me “marry” Jake from down the street.  It was always Robin in every story…

But when we were eight her parents divorced and her dad kept the house.  Robin moved around the block with her mom.  It was devastating for all of us, but thankfully we were able to walk back and forth to continue our friendship.

However, 29 years ago on December 28, is a day that changed our friendship and our lives forever.  Robin’s mother, suffering from depression, committed suicide.  My memories of that day are horrific.  In the midst of the chaos going on around us, we were left pretty much unattended.  Nobody really worried about us because we were together.  I remember my house being packed with people and it being very cold as the door was opened and shut many times over. The cold Montana air poured in with the people.  Next door there was commotion going on and ambulances being called.  I vividly remember going into my bathroom with Robin and watching out the window towards her old house.  I remember watching her mother’s body, under a white sheet, being wheeled out.

As an eight year old, all of this was etched into my brain in this very surreal way.  I am not sure what is reality and what is made up.  What I know is that my best friend lost the future that she had intended on having that day.  Nothing would ever be the same again.

The reason that I am taking the time to tell this story is because it shaped me in a way that nothing else has.  I may have went through a tragedy of immense proportions, but Robin’s experience was inconceivable.  And nearly a quarter of a century later, I can tell you that what I take from that day is a deep respect for the little girl who lost her mother.  Although she went through the worst thing imaginable, she is a survivor.  Today she is married, happy, healthy, and has beautiful kids.  She recently left this comment on my blog…

You don’t realize how grateful I am to have your encouraging words each week. As for many this time of year is a difficult time.  For us it is remembering love ones that have been lost, finances, health, and life in general. It is so important to let yourself take time to remember each and everyday that God has a HEART and He will guide us. Struggles are a stepping stone in our lives, but it also makes us strong spiritually and faithfully. It is not a time of year to questions ones faith, but to live for it.

Robin, every year on this day, I remember you, and am encouraged once again.  You made your own choices regardless of the foundation that you were given.  You had every opportunity to let that day destroy you, but you didn’t.  You are a shining example of what perseverance and determination can do in a person.  Thank you for not questioning your faith, but living for it.  I counsel people all of the time that are not sure they will make it through their situation.  Your story gives me the confidence to know that God will always help those who call out to Him.  I am thankful for our 37 year friendship and want you to know that I am very proud of the woman that you became.  You are an inspiration to me and I love you very much.

And I’m really sorry about the super glue.

Back Against the Wall

stacynewell —  June 13, 2013 — 1 Comment

Over the last seven years on this amazing journey of starting a church, there has been some pretty hairy moments where we weren’t sure if we were going to make it.  These seasons all have felt the same…a messy mixture of hope, fear, panic, faith, despair, and fight.  It has been in those seasons where we have found ourselves feeling like our backs were against a wall.  Have you ever felt that way in your own life?

These crisis’ have come in many forms for our church – finances, facilities, strategy decisions, etc.  The circumstances vary, but the feeling is the same: we feel like we have been pushed to the point where we just can’t be pushed any further…we feel trapped by reality.  I am sure you have been there as well!  Options seem limited and the wall seems solid.

I find the next step is also familiar…my head drops, sometimes for moments, sometimes for weeks, the prayers float through my mind, and then suddenly my eyes open as my head raises.  The still, small voice of God ALWAYS says the same thing when we feel trapped… “If your back is against the wall, move the wall.”  It’s said as a mandate with a firmness that can only be from Heaven itself.  There’s no wavering, there’s no shaking in the voice.  “Move the wall.”

What “walls” are in your life?  If you are like the rest of us, you probably consider that wall a boundary that you cannot get past.  It is your limitation and it’s not going anywhere….or is it?  Maybe you find yourself fighting what is in front of you, rather than turning around and taking the sledge hammer to the fortress behind you.  We often find that when our back is against those walls, God really never intended for us to fight what was pushing us to the wall; He wanted to get us to tear down the wall.

Here’s the reality:  That wall may look solid and it may not be easy to chip away at it, but that should not stop you from taking it on with a vengeance.  Whatever is on the other side of the wall is worth getting to.

The best thing I can do is to stop running from what’s pushing me and start swinging at what is stopping me.  Move the wall.

 

What It’s Gonna Take

stacynewell —  May 24, 2013 — 4 Comments

When we started a church, we began a journey of tumultuous ups and downs of personal growth.  While stepping out into what seems like complete darkness over and over and over again has molded and shaped us in astounding ways, I also think there are several character traits that we needed to develop ahead of time in order to succeed.  Maybe as you read this, you are just beginning a step of faith that seems monumental.  Read on…it’s good stuff for your future!

A necessary attribute to stepping out in faith is perseverance.  Not to discourage upcoming faith-steppers, but our story has not gotten easier over the last seven years.  In fact, each day has gotten exponentially more difficult.  I can vividly remembering closing my eyes during those first exhausting months of starting North Creek Church and saying to myself, “This is the hard part, it will get easier.”  And then I realized the most horrifying thing: The only way it will get easier is if we fail.  Success will bring more people, more responsibility, more problems, bigger leaps of faith, and more complications.  And that is good news, whether it feels that way or not!  We had to quickly get over the negative parts to that reality and embrace the fact that anything worth doing comes with work…lots of work.  The good news:  Even though this is not an easy job, we continue to see the fruit of persevering.  The hard work is continually sprinkled with changed lives and miraculous stories.  Don’t search for simple, search for significant. 

Another one of the telling of the attributes that is needed to lead a charge of faith is optimism.  Mark and I run pretty high on the optimistic scale, so when the lows come (and they will come), we are able to pull through.  We have met with multiple church planters (and other people taking giant leaps of faith) and I can tell you that the ones that tended to be more on the “Glass is Half Empty” side, all shut the doors of their churches…and it didn’t take long.  I don’t say that lightly because it was heartbreaking to watch.  The levels of discouragement in people we loved was concerning to the core of our being.  In fact, I think that if you tend to lean toward the negative, you should probably run from being the main leader of a church until you resolve that issue in your life.  The last thing God wants for your life is to hate ministry.  You’ve got to believe and hope deep within your heart.

A third attribute that we’ve needed to sustain our lives is rest.  There is an ebb and flow to ministry (and life).  Sometimes it’s just crazy and you’ve got to keep moving, but other times it feels like the calm before the storm.  Enjoy that calm and rest!  We do our best to honor the Sabbath and we take vacations.  We also sit down nearly every morning on the couch and drink a cup of coffee together.  We talk about the kids, the church, what we are doing for the day…it’s time to think, laugh, and connect.  We stop and enjoy life when we can because it keeps us healthy.  Resting also reminds us that God is in control, not us. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t take any time to think, you think too highly of yourself.”

So, that’s a good start to some things to keep in mind as you follow God’s path for your own life.  Many blessings as you take steps of faith!