Monthly Archives: March 2009

Mark and I are enjoying a break in my hometown of Kalispell, Montana. Yes, I’m a mountain girl. I’m looking outside watching a squirrel chew a peanut that my 4 year old hand fed to him. There are ducks floating by in the stream and snowflakes meandering out of the clouds above. It isn’t sticking, but it’s constancy reminds me that we’re not in Vancouver anymore. It’s been snowing for days for no particular reason. It’s warm enough not to be snowing, but we’re in the rocky mountains, so weather here doesn’t make much sense.

Coming “home” is always a journey for me. I am not the same person that left this place 14 years ago. I’m nobody’s leader here and I have nothing to do…that’s a far cry from my world back in Washington. I can’t fix problems that I left 600 miles away, so they are put on a mental shelf for a week in hopes that someone else will solve them before I return. My “Type A” personality is forced to sit on a couch and watch some afternoon movie that is completely void of a relative plot. Or I can get a cup of coffee and hang out with my mom for a nice long chat about when the bulbs will finally peek out of the frozen Montana dirt. The cup turns into several cups as I realize that there isn’t anything else to do.

For those of you who know me, you’re thinking, “This is good for her. She needs the time to do nothing.” Well, beware of giving Mark and I time off. We’ll come back with a bunch of crazy new ideas that we thought up in that “down” time and enough energy to accomplish them. I’m already ancy to get back to our mission and our plan. God has great things in store for North Creek and although it may be good for me, this leisure time can only last so long. I’ve bonded enough with Shorty the squirrel (yes, my dad names all the woodland creatures) and I can’t wait to usher in the next phase of chaos that we call the Coffee Church.

Tonight is my last night of work at the homeless shelter for the season. It’s a temporary, weather-related shelter, so it only operates from November – March. I am going to miss the people and experiences that I had this year. When you have the love of Christ in your heart, it is difficult to look at people as “clients” or “guests”. Those clients are God’s children, just like you and me, so when I talk to them about their circumstances and challenges, they dig little places into my heart. It has been a privilege to give them any resources and recommendations that I can in order for them to get to the next place in their lives. It’s easy, because I honestly care about them.

The shelter has also taught me to be very grateful for what I have. When I am putting my 2 and 4 year olds in bed at night, I don’t mind the difficulty of that near as much as I used to. They get in and out of bed, they don’t want to brush their teeth, they stay up singing in bed when they are supposed to be sleeping…but they aren’t doing all of that in a community gym with 40 other people. The challenges that the shelter moms face is a difficult one and I respect them for being fierce protectors of their families. They are persevering in some pretty daunting circumstances and that is remarkable for me.

I’ve also learned how important it is to make great decisions…all of the time. Many of the people that I work with made bad choices as teenagers or they married someone that was abusive or they committed a crime that ruined their reputations. Drinking, drugs, who you marry, and what you do makes all the difference in where you end up. Nobody in that shelter planned to be homeless. They simply followed their choices right through the doors and are now working diligently to “re-do” their lives. I wish every 13 year old could learn that lesson now.

So, tonight I will say goodbye to some pretty important people. I wish them the best and I still believe that we serve a God of second chances. Although I cannot directly tell them about my belief in Christ in our work environment, I hope that the love He has put in my heart made each of their difficult days a bit brighter.

Isn’t stress a strange thing? It’s a lot like air…you know it’s there, but you can’t see it. You feel it at times…sometimes like a fierce wind that can blow you off of your feet and sometimes just a small breeze in your life.

Mark and I have found ourselves pretty stressed out lately! Ironically not because of anything negative, but really because of all of the “good problems” in our world. Staff transitions, strong and consistent growth, leading change, preparing so many new members for different ministries…processes, programs, and people take a significant amount of time and emotional weight.

Stress manifests itself into so many different areas. It’s not healthy to live constantly under pressure, but just like air, until it gets really violent, you don’t even really pay attention to it. Sometimes the stress buildup in all of our lives comes to a breaking point that is sudden and unexpected.

I find myself having to stop and give it all back to God before that happens. It’s so easy to carry the weight…literally on our own shoulders…but it’s not ours to carry. Sometimes the test that we are called to pass is not to see how much weight we can carry, but rather to see if we will be wise enough not to carry it at all. God wants to teach us, not to be superhuman, but to be dependent…on HIM. And that applies to both the difficult problems and the “good” ones.

I know that Mark and I are not the only stressed people in the world, so my challenge to you is to go on this journey of letting go of the weight and walking in the freedom of Christ. We still need to do the work, but imagine a life without the overwhelming emotional energy that worry, fear, and stress take out of you? All of a sudden we can do so much more than when we were shackled by a weight that we were never asked to carry.

Goodbye, stress! Hello to enjoying the tasks that God has given for us to accomplish!

It’s so ironic to me that the very things that we are best at are also the things that cause us the greatest trouble. For instance, when I was a kid I had a lot of the same leadership gifts that I do now, but in 4th grade, that’s not a good thing. I painfully recall the word “Bossy” was used a lot back then when referencing my personality. Now I’m a “Leader” or “Administrative”. Nothing changed except the circumstances of where and who I was allowed to “boss” around.

That plays out in so many ways in our church as we navigate people’s gifts and where they fit best. We have an amazing system of volunteers and some people walk through the doors already knowing where they will excel. Others walk through the door and have no idea if they even want to fit in, let alone where they will fit!

And it’s those people who make the adventure of church planting the most fun! What looks like a weakness may actually make them perfect for a particular ministry. That’s true for the opposite as well…what looks like a strength may actually hurt a ministry significantly.

Mark and I spend a lot of time navigating where people are truly at their best. We really believe that everyone is GREAT somewhere. Even if they fail miserably, that doesn’t mean anything more than the fact that they are “misplaced” in the Kingdom of God. Maybe that’s why Mark and I continue to believe in people time and time again. Because God put in everybody something that allows them to shine.

I love our church because people have the ability to navigate their strengths and weaknesses and find out where they will thrive. The journey is sometimes frustrating, but the destination is worth the work!

Here’s Kris’ perspective of our recent staff changes:

I am one of the chess pieces Stacy speaks about.  I was the small groups pastor and I loved it.  I loved my small group leaders. I loved encouraging them, I loved challenging them and I loved watching them grow.  I loved creating a ministry out of nothingness and watching it become reality over 3 years time.  I loved watching God hand pick new leaders and drop them at my door.  I loved watching new families have a small group to go to because my small group leaders had enough vision to multiply even when they didn’t feel like it.  I was the small groups pastor and I loved it.

But all the while there was a tugging on my heart….and many of you heard me say it audibly…”I love teenagers” I would say.  And I meant it.  I love their hearts and I love their potential and I love their clothes and their music and their language.  I love teenagers.  I think they can absolutely change the world.  There is potential so powerful in them that it would make you shake if you took a minute to truly see it. And now I get to show them what I really think of them.  I get to help them see what God sees.  I get to challenge them to Live Beyond Normal.  All because I am on a church staff that sees the big picture and puts value on who we are and not just what we do.  Thank you, Mark and Stacy, for letting the chess pieces move around.  Thank you for letting me continue to say, “I love teenagers”.