Archive of ‘The Good Story’ category

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Birthdays have always meant something different to me with each decade.

When you are a kid…BIRTHDAYS ARE EVERYTHING!!!! My brother and I are one year and 18 days a part. You can guess how many times we’ve had to “share” a birthday party. Now that I’m a parent I get it but as a kid it was the pits! It’s bad enough to share but when you have the opposite gender to share it with…well let’s just say I never got the 80’s Jem party that I wanted in my mind.

My favorite birthday happened when I was around seven or eight. My mom and grandma made a cake with animal crackers all lined up around a perimeter of bendable straws set up like a circus tent. My mother has many, MANY excellent strengths but being crafty isn’t one of them.

BUT SHE TRIED!

It felt special to have a sort of theme and LOTS of friends were invited over for our combo party. We tied balloons on a string and then to our spindly ankles and ran around laughing half terrified at the sound of popping balloons and half frantic trying to stomp on our friends balloon first.

Truthfully, I don’t remember much more than the cake, lots of friends, balloon stomping and one prized birthday gift, a felt design kit. It was full of brilliant colors and shapes and different felt backgrounds where you could design stuff. I sat in my driveway fixated after the party was over and began to manipulate the colors and shapes. I’ve always enjoyed this type of creating. You might say this is the pre-curser to why I constantly redecorate rooms in my house…not by buying new things…just moving stuff around to constantly reinvent what I have.

I don’t have a picture of the party but this is me at seven years old desperately trying to cover up my missing front teeth. Sweet Captain Kangaroo impression no?

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I remember feeling happy and satisfied, special and excited, on that Michigan spring day. That year I didn’t mind sharing with Jamie. I had my felt kit and that was all right with me.

In my 20’s I threw myself my birthday parties most years. Partly, because in college my birthday always fell a few weeks after college broke for the summer and the odds of getting remembered while everyone was working at camps, summer jobs or traveling overseas was slim to none. There were some lonely college birthdays in upstate New York that came and went with little to no fanfare.

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It seems egocentric looking back back and maybe it was on certain years. Mostly, I remember just being happy to have finally found great friends in my 20’s and I wanted to be around them as much as I could. I didn’t like being alone. I feel like I struggled my whole life to find where I fit in and to have a great set of girlfriends. In my early 20’s I found my two best friends and soul sisters, along with a string of other amazing women from my church. We were foolish about guys and money, selfish, and obnoxiously introspective together but we loved each other fiercely out of our broken places, knew we needed Jesus badly and we managed to push each other forward towards His grace and mercy despite our short comings. One by one we became emancipated from our sin and brokenness by our late 20’s.

My best friend and of course Ryan goes along with every dumb idea I have. He's a keeper

My best friend and of course Ryan goes along with every dumb idea I have. He’s a keeper

Those birthday parties were full of fun and slightly rebellious excursions at times. Others ended up being called “Kelly’s Porch Parties”. Hey…if you are gonna be famous for something…this is a pretty sweet title to hold. Our apartment was party central. We threw parties for no reason and every reason back then.

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On my 27th birthday a group of girlfriends threw me my first and only ever surprise party. I can’t even remember how they got me to show up but I do know I was 110% shocked when I turned the corner. What awaited me was nothing short of a magical party with white strings of lights littering the sky like bottled up fire flys, my favorite wine, a home-made cake, all my girlfriends and a treasure box filled with letters they each wrote me about what they appreciated. I felt truly loved on that night. It’s a beautiful thing to be considered. We fight the lie often that we are invisible and no one remembers us. When a group of people not only see you but craft a night around your love languages….well it’s one of those “thin places” between heaven and earth.

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On my thirtieth birthday I was fat with child and the decade of wanting quieter birthdays began. The older I get the more my “introvertedness” seems to be taking over. I don’t crave the loud, long nights of my 20’s porch parties. I’d be happy to spend a weekend away with one or two of my girlfriends eating delicious Indian food, thrifting, talking for endless hours, reading and being kid free. That seems like the best, most meaningful birthday I could hope for. Ryan learned years ago, birthdays are for my girlfriends and anniversaries are all about him.

And so my last birthday of my 30’s is here. THIRTY NINE!!! How in the free world did I get here so stinking fast? I’m still 25 in my head but one glance down at my mom bod squeezed into my skinny jeans let’s me know that indeed 40 is right around the corner. I do want to kiss straight on the mouth the people who are shocked by my age and reply incredulously “I thought you were in your late 20’s I can’t believe you are almost 39!” I know I can’t milk that cow forever and at some point I’m going to say my age and people are going to respond with “Oh” and then I will know that all the miracle eye cream in the world can’t help me.

My 29th bday....whewww...TEN years ago..nuts!

My 29th bday….whewww…TEN years ago..nuts!

So I want to share my list of things I’m glad the Lord saved me from in my 20’s to bring me a life that is deeper and better than I could have asked or imagined for in my 30’s. We think we know who we are in our 20’s and what we want but we really don’t or it is a shadow of what is to come. Often in our 30’s we begin to really mourn some choices we made, time we wasted, student loans accrued for degrees we don’t use or jobs we hate, relationships that took precious energy, careers we sold our soul to for what? Consequently, we are now mature enough to rejoice that some things just flat fell apart, dreams died and people moved away in our 20’s but with fresh hindsight a decade or so later we see with perfect clarity what the Lord saved us from because of those loses.

1- Society tells us to be happy at all times and that’s a line of bologna. We’ve become professional fleers (flee-ers?) and it is detrimental in the body of Christ. Don’t like what that pastor says…flee. Don’t like that friend speaking some truth in your life…flee. Don’t like what he or she did….flee. We leave churches, people, relationships, jobs, commitments in our wake all for the sake of personal happiness. I’m not saying be a doormat but there is something so incredibly beautiful about staying the course through hard times that reaps a harvest of intimacy, maturity, depth and growth that is irreplaceable. The only thing we are suppose to flee is temptation.

2- I never used my youth ministry degree. At least not in the traditional sense. I was engaged at 21 which fell apart half way through my senior year. I got three job offers to be a youth pastor in CO, MI and FL and I took none of them. I was SO devastated and lost after I graduated not using my degree or being a wife to this man I thought life was over at 22. DEAR LORD IN HEAVEN THANK YOU FOR SAVING ME FROM ALL OF THAT!!! It was the wrong man and I was such a screwed up, broken woman I had no business being in ministry. I’m SO thankful God took my sorrow and turned it into dancing. My dreams were too small back then and I needed to know who God the REDEEMER was before being in ministry.

3- Your marriage is worth fighting for. You know those movie scenes where in anger or passion someone straightens out their arm and swipes everything off a desk in a karate chop motion? That’s what it took for Ryan and I to get back our marriage. We wiped the slate clean in our lives and stepped out of every commitment that took from our family and we buckled down and we got help and we learned to look each other in the eye again and we repented and confessed and forgave and learned to love and communicate in healthy ways. We will be working on it the rest of our lives but I’m glad we had the courage to push out the noise and make space for healing. Don’t let pride, sin, or anger rule your home. You can stand there alone in your “rightness” or you can be the chicken or the egg that goes first towards healing. Jennie Allen recently said, “Good marriages are built in trenches not on vacations.” AMEN

4- I never knew I loved being alone. I was terrified of being alone in my 20’s and avoided it at all cost. I mean letting my mind sit in silence and solitude, no thanks, time to go to the mall. I was scared of facing my demons or to come face to face with a Holy God. Because that’s the kicker. If we just stop and sit for a hot second, really sit at the foot of the cross and disengage from ourselves. You know “YOU”…the one you think about and try to please 99.9% of the day. When you sit with reverence and marvel at our HOLY Father, one that has never known sin and yet sacrificed everything for our sin. HE truly becomes greater and we become less and conviction, not shame, begins to swell within us with tsunami force and we WANT to confess and purge and make right what is wrong. We want to unfurl our grip on our life and relinquish it to our holy and sovereign LORD because intimacy breeds trust. He is trustworthy….oh good gravy, he is trustworthy.

5- As open of a book as I am about my life there are really only a few people I let into the inner chamber. My girlfriends mean the world to me and the older I get the more thankful I am that I have experienced such deep soul connection, passionate times of prayer, humble moments of confession, and laughter until my cheeks felt like bursting. I never realized how rare this connection was amongst women and I desire it so much for all woman to experience that level of intimacy. When you are able to shed comparison and perfectionism and join the sisterhood that awaits you…there is nary a greater love apart from my Lord, my husband and the love I feel for my children.

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Honestly, I would wax poetic all day about what I have learned…this post is long enough and I’ll save the others for a future post. God is so good and I enter this last year of my 30’s with a very grateful heart. This song below is on heavy rotation (picture Ryan rolling his eyes when I que it up again) But the joy of the melody and the lyrics sum up my attitude going into this next year! Enjoy…the whole album is AMAZING!!!!

Oh did I leave you hanging?

Well thank you all for your encouragement from my last post about the journey of our city house on the market. It seemed to strike a chord with many of you that ruthless trust in the uncertainties of life is not only vital to building our faith in the Lord but it’s mandatory and unavoidable.

I know you are eager to hear the outcome and I wish I had some awesome grand announcement that we are days away from closing but alas, the contract fell through 100% a few days after my post. There was no counter offer or addendum, just pulled the plug. It’s hard when something is final like that and you know you are back at square one. I will be honest, that was a dark day for me. A very dark day filled with ugly cries and a lot of staring out a window like a Cymbalta commercial.

Sometimes I let myself unpack my feelings further than I normally would because the days don’t allow for long drawn out periods of pondering. I gave myself permission to dwell on my sorrow that day knowing I would be riding a potentially dangerous line of self-pity (not helpful) versus self-actualization (helpful).

There has been a LONG 12 month battle of opposing emotional forces going on in my mind and heart. Last April marks the start of this battle.

My best friends family and another family we share deep community with moved halfway around the world to serve the Lord. Clearly, I was 110% behind this but my heart and my life had a gapping, gushing, ugly hallow wound. This was an unimaginable personal loss for every person in my family. In many ways I’m still trying to learn to live life without these 10 people.

Two weeks later I was in the emergency room with extreme pain in my abdomen. I ain’t no wimp, I don’t go to doctors for nothin’ but I couldn’t handle this. I had no idea that I actually just tipped the first domino in a four month long wild goose chase to figure out what was wrong with me. Cue endless doctor appointments, blood and stool testing (yeah for sexy fun!) a colonoscopy (more sexy fun), an endoscopy, natural health appts, trying new supplements, and in the end changing my entire diet going gluten free. (This was a radical change from my highly processed life). There was a mourning process of food, yes I had to mourn it. I earned my filled out jeans for a reason. I had to accept that I have gluten intolerance and leaky gut, not to be trendy, but because of the trauma of a parasite and salmonella poisoning 14 years ago my intestines have never properly healed. I could not believe I was so sick again.

After the ER bill came in at $2000 (oh Hi fat deductible…I hate your face) it also marked a year long financial strain and loss I can’t even begin to divulge here. It has been brutal between my health stuff and of course carrying two mortgages for six months. There is no end in site to this area of loss and yet…if you read the last post…God has miraculously sustained us. Heck, for the first time in eight years we are getting a tax return! Hallelujah!!! He steps in at the seemingly last and yet perfect moment and provides what we need.

So you can see why that Sunday afternoon call from our realtor came in like a sucker punch to the gut.

I didn’t realize how sure I felt that this offer was going to stick until my chest started to tighten and the tears began without ceasing. I was tired of being sad and yet I was sad again…very sad. I had to let go of the “idea” that the trial of this house was not ending.

Poor Ryan. It’s hard when you can’t articulate your sorrow to your spouse. I just needed to be alone and sort it all out.

I let myself revisit the sorrows of the last 12 months. These are very real loses and not one of them has changed. I’m still sick, I’m still without these two families, and our finances are still ground zero. BUT I know that I am not without hope or joy because that is the exact other force that keeps pushing against and nudging out my sorrow.

Guys..I can’t stop with the GIFS…they make me laugh. Last one I promise. Think of JOY as the dark car and the white car as SORROW trying to cut it’s nasty way into my joy lane like a punk. NOT GONNA HAPPEN!!!!

In case you don’t follow me on FB or Instagram then you might not know that the most exciting announcement came out of the gates on April 7, 2015. It’s no wonder satan really poured on the awful the two weeks leading up to our launch. There was full force spiritual warfare happening and getting the news about the contract falling through was just one fiery dart we had to extract lest the poison of discouragement take root.

Last May a relationship began in our life with an amazing couple in our church that is on staff with REACH Global (our church’s denomination sending agency). They were missionaries to the Ukraine for 15 years but now serve in a director position with the SERVEurope team. They just happen to move to our area a few years ago and were introduced to us by our friends that moved overseas with the disclaimer “You MUST spend time with them and you MUST share your vision for ministry.” And so we sought out this couple not knowing anything about them and boy we had no idea what that relationship would yield in our hearts and lives.

You know when you meet people that connect to the deepest desires of your heart in a way you only experience with a few people? Yeah, that was this couple for us. A few decades older, well seasoned in missions, and completely FREE in the spirit. These two are salt of the earth and so gifted in prayer and encouragement. We started meeting together once a month to talk and pray. Only a small group of people knew about this vision.

Month after month ticked by and the Lord helped us finally get our vision into a tangible format. It has a name now. It has a website thanks to my husband. It has a voice thanks to Ryan’s brother, Joe Portnoy, producing a video for us.

Guys, the other set of tears that flow often and hard from my face this last year are because I CAN’T HANDLE the joy of this vision finally being launched. For the last 12 months this ball has been in motion and it is beyond what we could ever dared dream for our lives. It’s a grand invitation into the work of the kingdom and it is scary and awesome and WAY bigger than just Ryan and myself. It involves you too! Please take four minutes to watch:

Yup! Right? Can you even? The Good Storyis out there! I would love for you to go over to the site and click around. There is SO much more than the video could cover. (Ryan is just that tall he doesn’t fit on my screen shot)

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I want you to hear about our incredible trips we are taking with REACH this summer which will determine SO MUCH about the future of The Good Story.

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There are two ways to get involved. The first is becoming part of our prayer and financial support team. I know, I know…tis the season for mission trips. This is so much more than a missions trip! These trips will set the trajectory for the future of our ministry. We get to work with a REAL agency with REAL missionaries with REAL communication needs that REACH Global believes The Good Story can help change! Are you with us?

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There is also a pretty low commitment support route and that is to click over to The Good Story Shop and purchase an instant download made by friends of TGS. 100% of your purchase goes towards our REACH Global trips! We will be adding more art each month.

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Lastly, and most importantly, the VERY heartbeat of what The Good Story is about is found in our Ambassador program. There is no way on this planet this ministry will thrive or survive from the efforts of two people. No, we are not foolish enough to think we can change the face of missions alone. Nay, Nay…it will take an army of creatives and technology to do that! We are finishing up what will be the application process and taking inquiries for people to join us as Ambassadors for TGS.

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The Ambassador Creed is as follows:

We believe creatives and technology are a very underutilized commodity in the body of Christ.

We believe God gives all individuals specific talents and abilities on earth that are meant to bring Him glory and advance the kingdom of God.

We believe creatives in arts and technology have a difficult time giving or donating their talents and abilities when there is no personal gain or payment involved. This prevalent attitude needs to change.

We believe we can be the generation that ushers in the second coming of Christ by being on the forefront of the Great Commission.

We believe missionaries could cut their pre-field support raising time in half if they were properly undergirded through the creative arts community to communicate their passions and initiatives with visually excellent and compelling materials. (i.e.-photos, support cards, printed materials, websites, video storytelling, written expression)

We believe missionaries need proper technology training in order to establish a means of communication while they are raising support as well as on the field

We believe if we work together we can gather and engage technology and creative individuals to BE AVAILABLE, BE PROACTIVE to seek out opportunities to serve and finally to GIVE GENEROUSLY and LAVISHLY of their abilities to missionaries.

CREATIVES ARE THE GAP in the Great Commission advancing quicker but they are also the BRIDGE IN WHICH MISSIONARIES CAN FIND SUPPORT, STABILITY, TRAINING and MEANS TO COMMUNICATE EFFECTIVELY in an age of technology that demands visual impact in order to understand and commit to a cause.

So if any of this has peeked your interest we strongly urge you to go to the website and poke around and join our newsletter team, join our support team, or please for the LOVE OF GOD and the DESIRE FOR ALL TO KNOW HIM…fill out an Ambassador inquiry form if you are in the creative or technology field. This is a slow but deliberate bullet moving to the heart of the Great Commission target.

Keep praying for us. Do you know how audacious our prayers are right now? SELL THIS HOUSE LORD! HELP US PAY OUR BILLS LORD! BRING US A MIGHTY PRAYER AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT TEAM JESUS! RALLY AN ARMY OF CREATIVES AND TECHNOLOGY TO JOIN THIS MOVEMENT TO CHANGE THE FACE OF MISSIONS FATHER!

Guess what, He delights in these requests and He WILL do a beautiful and complete work for HIS glory in HIS timing and it’s going to be AWESOME!

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