What an incredible week!

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We started last week with some beautifully intense team meetings, to prepare for the next season of the Influence Network. We finished it out with over three hundred women worshipping alongside each other to close our conference. Overall, I’d say it was a pretty incredible week.

I enjoyed some adult time away from house/family responsibilities. There were daily showers and warm food that I got to eat with both hands!

I got to see women make a difference in Africa. Our goal was for 75 women to partner with Mocha Club by the end of the weekend, and over 80 women did by the time it was all said and done.

I made some new lifelong friends. Seriously. They jumped off of the internet and into my (figurative… not a hugger, remember?) arms.

The food was amazing. No, seriously. I’ve actually never tasted better food at a catered event.

Lastly, I would absolutely argue that the Holy Spirit tied each speaker’s talk into a greater theme, something that we all walked away from the weekend feeling and acknowledging.

I don’t have to try hard. He gave me grace and a voice. It’s time to build.

JOIN


things i’m clicking this week…

 

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An #influenceconf edition of things I’m clickin’! Besides the beautiful Indianapolis, here’s where you can find me this week…

Writing about what it looks like for this always-on-the-go lady to walk with Jesus daily, for the Influence Network magazine.

Sharing three things you don’t want to miss at the conference, for the Influence Network blog.

Sharing three things you can enjoy from home if you’re coming this year, for the Influence Network blog.

Being interviewed with my husband in preparation for this year’s conference worship, for the Influence Network podcast.

Sweating about the hugs, and a class on motherhood.

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Pausing from the to-do lists and the travel-prep stress long enough to join in on this year’s Influence Conference linkup! Are you going to the conference this year? Use your blog or your Instagram account to get to know other attendees… can you believe we’re only a week out?! The prompt is easy: a photo/intro of yourself, something you’re excited about, and something you wouldn’t dare to leave at home.

Confessing to being a introvert is perhaps one of the most freeing things I’ve ever done. I can safely say that I feel far more uncomfortable one-on-one than on stage, and that I will never travel without my husband so long as I can help it. So while I’m a bit sweaty about reminding all of you that I’m not a hugger, I’m excited to see you ladies and to watch the Lord do a mighty thing or two when hundreds of us convene next weekend. I’m also excited about some kid-free time and a week of hotel-living, and about letting my husband in on some of the special parts that come with working for the Influence Network. Last year, he straight-up wept through one of the sessions, so I think he’s probably excited about next week, too.

Things will be pretty quiet on here for the next two weeks as a result of our conference, BUT I’m teaching a class next Monday night and wanted to invite all of you mamas to join me!

Five things on a Friday.

 

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Ideas for dating at home:

1. Get hooked on a Netflix series. Chris & I typically go through a few TV shows per year, and it’s the perfect go-to after a long day when we need to sit quietly in the same room and just be together. We only have one TV in our house, too, which guarantees that adult tube time won’t become a nightly thing in our home.

2. Wake up early together. Sometimes it’s coffee for me and tea for him, at that little table in our kitchen. For awhile there, we went through a phase where we exercised together before dawn. Regardless, it’s always a better start to our day when we’re the first ones up.

3. Get the good food. My husband & I keep a few restaurants reserved for take-out nights only. Sometimes eat super light during supper with the kids around the table, only for one of us to pick up something yummy to share after they go to bed.

4. Make flowers a must. Regardless of who does the shopping or the errand-running, a bouquet of flowers is usually on the list. We split the blooms up into small mason jars, in order to keep sweet little arrangements all over the house.

5. Turn in early. Fond memories are made when we crawl under the covers before we’re tired. Hanky-panky jokes aside, there’s something special about pillow talk with the love of your life. Hard conversations, tickle fights, whispered prayers, dreams for the future… the bedroom is quite the powerful place.

 

This is the new him.

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I used to sit across the room from my husband, picking arguments and begging him to be different. I just want you to lead me, I’d whine from the couch. And he’d smirk to that, following it with this sad smile. Folks who know me in real life can probably understand why I say my husband has a difficult job. Being married to me is not easy. I set the bar too high, for myself and everyone around me. I’m extremely opinionated. I’m critical and driven and those things don’t always mix well. I also happen to be a leader myself. Chris & I have spent a lot of years working through what it looks like for a peacekeeper to lead a leader.

Before we get too far into this, please let me clarify that this post has nothing to do with submission or marriage roles. I saw something in Chris that I wanted brought to the surface. I wanted to hear him cast big vision for our family and our life together. I wanted to see him get excited about something without fear, and I wanted him to talk about it. Let’s do this. Let’s go there. Let’s explore that. I wanted him to lead me into calling and adventure. I wanted to see him healed and restored, so that he could walk out in his gifts and talents to the fullest extent.

When I fell in love with Chris, I began to push. I’m a bit of a bulldog; I can’t help it. He’d been playing in bands for a decade, but I wanted him to lead worship. He’d been managing people in jobs for years, but I wanted to see him pastor his family and then some. I wanted to see the Lord move his powerful gift out of his garage studio and his retail store, and out into the world. I pushed and pushed. And Chris pushed back.

Rach, I’m not sure that the Lord can use me in the ways you’re dreaming. I’m not sure I can be the man you want me to be. I’d sure like to, but I think I’m a bit too damaged. I’m too far gone.

In our early days together, my husband was a different person. He was wounded and alone, unsure of himself and what the Lord could do through him. He had a past and some baggage and two little boys who made up his entire world. He wasn’t looking much farther than beyond the next few days. Meanwhile, I was young and privileged. At that point, my hardest decision in life had been choosing a college without disappointing my parents. I was untouched, unscathed the by the world. I arrived at Chris before I ever had a chance to experience what it felt like to be jaded.

So back to the couch, and his sad smile. I’d sit across from him and ask him questions and hear these words of another language. The song of a broken man, the words of which I did not know. His world and my world collided and crashed and made a mess all over the living room floor, on a weekly basis.

But slowly, over the course of months and years, I got to experience my husband’s healing. We just stopped talking and started living, and I watched him blossom and bloom. He began playing out at churches and worship events, and eventually he joined a church staff. He began speaking up and sharing bits of his story, and eventually he became a small group leader to husbands and dads who have walked the same roads. A few weeks ago, I watched him baptize a man who’s known my husband for a decade, a man who’s followed his journey and experienced his baggage and still seen Jesus through it all.

As I watched Chris lower this guy into the water, down with the old and up with the new, I was reminded of my husband’s own transformation. Although he’s been a follower of Jesus for most of his life, Chris recently got a fresh taste of the gospel. Somewhere along the way, I lost track of that old life, and that old couch, and those old conversations. And now here he is, casting big vision for our family. He’s getting excited about things without fear. He’s pushing me to be bolder, braver. My husband is healed and restored, and he’s using that to turn around and extend the same to others. This is the new him, and it leaves me breathless.

A week-long party.

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Today is my husband’s birthday and this morning, in typical last-minute fashion, I realized I have a few posts with his name all over them. So I’m going for it! A week-long bloggin’ birthday party, in my sweetheart’s honor.

Today, I’m sharing about Christopher’s and my upcoming worship sessions at this month’s Influence Conference. Click on over to read a little bit of my heart and some of what you can expect from our collaboration!

I’m not looking away.

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Thing have been and will continue to be quiet around here out of respect for what’s happening in #Ferguson. The longer the violence drags on, the deeper my heart sinks. I don’t have a lot of wisdom on the subject, but I wanted to jot down some of my thoughts while I’m hot and bothered.

I want to be known for listening more than I talk. This means I’m watching, reading, and soaking up pretty much everything you send my way about race in America. I know this goes far beyond a shooting and police work. I’ve spent the last several years coming to terms with my white privilege, filtering things through a new worldview, and making amends with people I probably failed as a young woman.

Feelings are real. Therefore, feelings are facts. Whether you’re a wounded person of color or a wounded member of law enforcement or a wounded person of privilege or a combination of those things, I’m here. If you’re angry, if you’re hurt, I want you to know that I see you. I hear you. I’m listening. And I’m on your team.

I love my country and its people too much to let this go. I love truth and justice too much to wait this out. Regardless of where we stand and where the fallout lies, we cannot look away from this. We cannot turn our children’s faces from it. And if you’re a follower of Jesus, if you’re a walking, breathing extension of the Church, your voice is especially powerful right now. So I’m speaking up to say that I’m listening. And that I’m not looking away.

A flag that waves itself.

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I sent a message out to my Influence teams a few weeks ago, on a morning I felt especially weary. As I typed, I felt the Lord give me the mom smile. You know… that sweet, I’ve-been-telling-you-the-same-thing-but-you-had-to-learn-it-yourself smile? That one. He wanted me to soak my own words in. They were meant for me just as much as they were for my women. So I saved them in a journal, and they found their way out again today.

Check it out here.

A big day for dreams.

Sometimes the Lord places something in your heart and you save it for later. Sometimes you save it so long, it never happens. And sometimes, the Lord places something in your heart and you birth it. You quit your job and you birth it.

Can we all just celebrate Hayley and Mike for a minute today? It’s not about them, I know. This is Jesus at work. But still, the glory is His, and the sweat is theirs. The Morgans said yes. They didn’t save this dream or keep it quiet.

It makes something swell up in you a little bit, doesn’t it? Good. You should go for it, too.

five things on a friday.

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Reasons to keep an extra jar of coconut oil in your bathroom:

1. Your skin will thank you. Scoop some into in your bath, or a slather some on your skin afterwards.

2. It works as an excellent eye makeup remover and puffy circle-reducer.

3. Swishing it in your mouth (it melts fast) prevents and even heals cavities. Google “oil pulling!”

4. Its anti-fungal and antibacterial properties make it an effective first aid cream, but it also soothes against the pain of scrapes and burns.

5. I don’t buy shaving cream anymore, and I’m not the only one!