For Christmas, my mom wanted to get to spend time with my sister Katie and I at some kind of conference or retreat. We looked at a bunch of options and then found ourselves at the IF: Gathering Local. IF (What IF we lived like Jesus?) meets in Austin, Texas with about 2,000 people but then it is streamed to over 2,000 sites around the country and the globe. We went to an IF Local event at Grand Rapids Middle School.
I loved getting to share all of this with my sister and mom through out the weekend. There was a whole slew of women that shared and they spoke so many good words...
"The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it." He became flesh and moved into the neighborhood. He came to rescue the world.
It's in Christ we find out who we are and what we're living for. He's the redeemer of your life. He restores your purpose.
I pledge to stop doing things for God instead of doing things with God.
Do I love the idea of exercising or do I actually exercise? Do I love the idea of following God or do I actually follow God?
We are called to love people that are forgotten, marginalized and left out. We are supposed to usher in the Kingdom of God.
Is it possible that when the grass is greener on the other side that God is telling you to water the grass you're standing on?
Being a friend is just being a friend. There is no over thinking it.
In Acts they put all they had in a pot and served it to anyone who was in need. The early church was built on hospitality. We were made to rally.
"So the woman left her water jar." He gives us a spring of water that will never run dry. "He will fill in all."
We may not know why, but we know who
"Faith consists of believing when it's beyond the realm of reason to believe." Voltaire
The cost of discipleship will cost you everything, but ultimately it will solidify your faith
I believe that you can, I believe you are able, even if I don't get my way
Let the Bible be your primary source of nourishment. Abiding in God (the Vine) is the blessing-- the fruit is just the byproduct. Will you remain faithful even if the harvest is years away?
The nature of Jesus, just like a vine, is to wrap around us and hold us fast when we encounter Him.
What if we didn't care about being known but we wanted God to be known?
Seasons of Life (This was one of my favorite parts-- a round table discussion of women from all different seasons of life including Sweet Maria Goff)
The way my kids love and serve others reflects that they know they were born on Earth but that their citizenship is in Heaven.
Be intentional-- I want to learn from generations before me and be relevant to those below me. When you do that you glean so much more from life.
Our differences don't divide us-- they make us real. Seek people out, it's a treasure. When someone comes to mind, just send them a text.
We're a generation that, in a way, is being mentored by all these women who are writing books and blogs and Instagrams that are speaking to us daily.
Invite people into your story-- they want to be there. Even the reaching out speaks so much even if you don't get together.
Being a friend with people in other seasons of life teaches you to be a grace giver. "How can I be a better friend to you in this season?"
Jen Hatmaker (We didn't know if she'd be talking because they don't announce speakers. When she walked out I just about screamed. Actually, I did squeal a little bit.)
I talked my two friends into doing a marathon with me. But it's kind of like eating a pizza-- eating a whole one is excessive but eating half a pizza is ok. So we decided to do a half marathon. We said we would "train" but any training that ends with wine on one our porches isn't that serious. One of my friends would always says, "Let's just walk because I can't talk with all this running." One time, just once, we basically almost hit 7 miles.
The day of the race came, we hit 1/2 way, took a picture at 7 miles and it was the last time we were smiling. At 8 I started locking up. Then one of our husbands would drive by slowly and hand us Advil through the car window. But that last 1/2 mile you better believe I was sprinting.
God said to to love God and love people. He left out all those other rules and I said, "Good, because a lot of those are really weird." But maybe this core central work of being a Christian is really hard-- the whole carrying your cross and dying to yourself.
This surprising over the top love is different and it's not easy.
Jesus' list looked something like this: poor, sick, powerless, widows, lepers, weirdos, scandalous women, immigrants, mentally ill, religious outcasts, politicians, cheats.
He taught us to love them with touch, presence, proximity and dignity. He called them FRIENDS. As equals. Partners. Not a project, charity case, photo opp. There is no angle. It's straight up love.
Who is going to hate that kind of love? The world.
But you don't belong to the world. If they persecuted Him they will persecute you too.
Start loving people that force us to lay down the false comforts of feeling better than and righter than.
If you're loving people the way you're supposed to, you will have some major tension in your life-- people will say they're wrong, bad, that you're confusing and reckless. And if you're hearing those things than you're doing this love thing exactly right.
Who would you stand by if you were not afraid? Being criticized is the biggest deterrent, it's easier to stay safe and protected because it's costly.
Jesus was straight scandal from the moment he got here. He was reckless. He's not looking to preserve the status quo. He came to rescue the hurt and broken. He was deterred by no one's stories.
Jesus is not afraid to recklessly love you. He said you are his, He came for you and He will pursue you till your last dying day. "I've told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete." Loving people like Jesus told us to is the only way. It's the most thrilling, exhilarating life you can imagine.
Use what you have and do what you can. Every time you live extravagantly you're setting the table. -Sweet Maria
Transformation happens in relationship.
Is what or whom I am pursuing worth my pursuit?
Sunday is the most segregated day of the week-- it shouldn't be like that.
Recognize the unique place where I've put you. Realize what's at stake in people's lives. Remember the simple purpose I have given you.
After IF: Gathering wrapped up I went back to Katie's house to spend the night and get to hang out with the boys for a little while. This is what nights look like at the Dekoster house...
This is what mornings look like with the boys... Also building Batmobile's with legos and Red running laps back and forth across the living room as fast as he can and giggling the whole time.
Before heading back to Indiana I made a quick pit stop at Hope to visit with Maggie and Olivia-- two of the youngest girls in my long SIB family. Their upperclassman now and both taking on lots of responsibility. We mostly know each other through social media but I'm thankful for these quick visits together when our lives overlap. SIB was such a huge part of my life in college and it shaped me in ways that still are present today.
While the Super Bowl was going on I still met with a dream team of girls for our Jen Hatmaker Brave Girl series. We're not into the sports part of the Super Bowl but we did show up with snacks which are really the highlight of any good Super Bowl party.
Tonight's topic was all about guys and relationships-- such important stuff. I loved having open, real, honest conversation with Rachel, Chloe, Julia and Kegley tonight.
A good guy is very much for you. He's for your health, future, purity, heart and faith.
It gets distorted what love looks like because we tend to lean toward what love feels like and it feels so strong.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.Love never fails." 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
10 Year Rule-- Is this the kind of husband and dad you want? Will he lead you to Christ? Will he champion for your family?
God cares for your mind-- your knowledge and self-control.
Listen to people who love you, not just someone who wants you.