LeadNow & Fusion 2008

I’m getting really excited about our LeadNow and Fusion events coming up in November here in Dallas. It will be here before we know it! This year is different than any other year because we’re giving leaders the opportunity to host a simulcast at their church or attend a simulcast at a location close to them. This definitely helps with gas prices and the way the economy is functioning as a whole right now.

These events are for you if you’re a leader of twenties and thirties and if you are in your twenties and thirties. I can’t think of a better place to grow in my relationship with God and others- learning under great leaders like Erwin McManus, Matt Chandler, Margaret Feinberg, Francis Chan, and my very own pastor, Todd Wagner. I can’t wait to show the promo DVD to my small group and other friends. Baby John will probably be about one month old then so I am hoping we can have a little outing together, if possible. He’ll get to have some early exposure to some great people.

You can visit Rightnow.org for way more information than I will post here. Feel free to email me or leave a comment if you have questions about these events and I can direct you to the right person here at Bluefish/The Rightnow Campaign. I really hope you will take advantage of this opportunity- especially my twenties and thirties readers!

The Sacred Echo in Crested Butte, Colorado

This past week our crew filmed The Sacred Echo DVD in breathtaking Crested Butte, Colorado. The Sacred Echo DVD is based off Margaret Feinberg’s new book, The Sacred Echo. I was able to read her book a few weeks ago to begin brainstorming story ideas for the project. I was really touched by her stories, the way she uses Scripture, and most of all her heart for Jesus.

During the filming, our crew put in long hours, sweated in the heat and froze with the cold, as Margaret said. She even said she has 30 mosquito bites to prove they were really in the middle of nowhere. They shot scenes with waterfalls, mountains, wildflowers, and the beauty of God’s creation was their backdrop. I can’t wait to see the final project.

In the upcoming weeks, we’ll be seeking out people for specific stories that intertwine with the themes addressed in The Sacred Echo. Check in for updates on The Sacred Echo DVD release at Bluefishtv.com.

What a Pillow!

On my lunch break today, my co-workers, Cheli and Dustin and I were talking about sleep patterns and how good it is to be on the same sleep schedule as your husband/wife. Then Cheli starts to inquire about what it’s like for me sleeping being prego. I told her that generally they don’t recommend sleeping on your stomach or back, but rather on your side. I explained how I strattle several pillows to make sleeping with a baby in my belly more comfortable at night (those of you who’ve been prego understand).

Then… they brought up these special kind of pillows that people buy. I couldn’t believe the idea of them. I had never heard of them. So, when I actually saw what they looked like, I just couldn’t stop laughing. I was sitting in my chair laughing (out loud. At work).

Am I the only one who has never seen these? Do any of you out there own these? Husbands? Wives? Singles? (Just between you and me… would you get one for yourself?)

Memories in Mackinac Island

Jeremiah and I just returned from our vacation/babymoon in Mackinac Island in Michigan. This trip was sandwiched in between two baby showers given by Jeremiah’s family, a trip to Lake Michigan to see the gorgeous Dunes, and staying with his Uncle Rick and Aunt Sue and their kids. This was truly a special trip for us and it was great to get away from the busy life we lead here in Dallas.

The time we had alone, just him and I on the island was such a gift. He surprised me with a charming suite at the Inn at Stonecliff- a tucked away inn on the northern side of the island. We took a horse and buggy up to the inn and I fell in love with it as soon as I saw the green, lush lawn with the inn in the distance. We stayed at their summer house.

Every meal we had on the island was superb (and the service was great). We rode bikes (several miles) right on the road near the coast, visited the historic sites, watched sunsets, played crochet, ate fudge and icecream (Mackinac is known for their fudge), spent time relaxing at the library right on the water, ate more fudge and icecream, and did what normal married couples do. 🙂 Most of all, it was a wonderful time of bonding in our marriage and realizing this would be one of our last vacations, just him and I.  All along, we had prayed the Lord would really bless the time we had and He did above and beyond that.

I’m so thankful for the ability to travel and see God’s creation. Michigan is such a beautiful place in the summer (I can’t say I love the winters there). Mackinac was a little treasure for us. Jeremiah blew me away with that gift and more and more, I am amazed that God has given me the gift I have in Jeremiah. He’s a leader, takes initiative, adores his wife, cares for people, is a man of integrity, is consistent, makes me laugh, talks to his soon-to-be-born son, and most of all- seeks to know Jesus with all his heart. I know not every woman has this in a husband, and all I can say is that it’s solely God’s grace on my life.

Mt. Elbrus & The Last Well

It’s not every day that I run into a bunch of guys who are willing to risk their lives by climbing one of the tallest mountains in Europe. But their their purpose behind climbing the mountain is what gave them greater hope and motivation. Their purpose inspired me in what it means to help someone who doesn’t have access to such a critical need.

Chad Madden, one of our producers was one of those guys, along with Todd Phillips who works with us regularly with our resources and at our Fusion and LeadNow events.

Chad shares his account of Elbrus:
I was asked earlier this year if I’d be willing to film a group of climbers attempting to summit Mount Elbrus, the tallest mountain in Europe at 18,500 ft.  Of course this meant I would have to climb the mountain as well, otherwise all the shots would just be of the group walking away from me, which isn’t good video.
 
I grew up in Houston, which couldn’t be flatter, and I now live in Dallas, which is, well, flat.  The last time I remember even climbing a hill was in elementary school, when I went to Colorado with a friend and his family.  We woke up one morning and looked out a window and decided we’d climb the nearest mountain (it was just a hill, but to 6th graders it looked like a mountain).  We made it to the top and planted a flag (a burlap bag with my name on it that my mom sent for dirty laundry) at the top, which probably was a federal offense or something, littering in a state park.
 
All that to say, I was woefully underqualified to climb a mountain.  But I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, so I said yes.
 
The group I went with was climbing to raise money for 
The Last Well, a movement to provide clean water to the entire nation of Liberia in the name of Christ.  Weird, climbing a mountain to raise money for water, at least that’s what I thought, but it’s funny how much you think about water on the mountain.  Staying hydrated is about the most important thing up there. That and not falling off the mountain. Or being eaten by a Yeti (we actually met someone looking for him/it?).
 
What seemed at first to be a strange connection turned out to be, I think, a great idea.  Basically, these guys took something they loved to do and found a way to help people while doing it.  They already had to pay for the trip, it could have just been a mountain climb, but by using it to raise money for clean water, it connected them to something bigger, it gave them a greater sense of purpose, and I think ultimately it made the journey much more satisfying.  And the non-mountaineering video guy survived without losing any fingers or toes, which was also quite satisfying.

At the end of the trip, Chad filmed teaching segments from Todd Phillips to be used in an upcoming series on leadership. I really enjoyed hearing Chad tell his story this past week especially how he didn’t struggle with altitude sickness like the majority of the crew. I’m not sure how I would handle the mountain. Maybe I would get sick, maybe whine or complain but I hope that I would be thinking about the people in Liberia more than anything. That is certainly what kept these guys going forward.


Youth Series’ off to the Press

This past week, our production team just finished reviewing and editing the DVD’s and leaders guides for the new 2009 Youth Ministry kit that will release August 1. After all the editing and reviewing, the kit is now off to the press. A lot of filming, producing, graphics, and writing went into the series so to celebrate Brian treated our entire team to some good Mexican food!

The 2009 Youth Ministry kit includes teaching from Marcus Goodloe, Sean McDowell, and David Nasser. Marcus Goodloe and Sean McDowell’s teaching was filmed in LA and David Nasser’s was filmed in Rome. All three of these leaders are extremely gifted and they really meet youth where they’re at.

This will actually be our third year working with David Nasser. Having the opportunity to go to Rome and film David’s teaching was a life-changing experience for our crew. David always had wanted to teach on the life of Paul in Rome as well so it worked out perfectly.

In the next few posts, I’ll be writing on what I learned in writing the Paul in Rome series alongside of David Nassser’s teaching. God really spoke to me about a lot of things as I was researching, reading, and writing the series. I’ve learned truths I’ve never seen before in a whole new light. I can’t wait to share them with you.

Our prayer is that all of these series will truly impact this generation of youth and that they will be challenged to live out their faith radically in a culture that is in desperate need of Jesus Christ.

Billboards & Cotton Candy

I’ve really been thinking about culture’s influence on Christianity. When I drive home from work every day, billboards scream at me left and right (I don’t notice them in the morning because I’m just waking up). The “me’s” and the “you’s” shouting from the billboards make it difficult not to think about what I want or deserve. I guess I really do need an exotic vacation, a million dollars, and the perfect body.

Many pastors today preach right along with the billboards: “You can have it all now.” “Believe in yourself.” “God wants to bless you.” “God wants to make you rich.” The focus is drenched on man, but very little attention is upon God. This kind of teaching feels so good. It tickles my ears. I begin to think there really is so much greatness in me if I just tap into it. It even tastes like cotton candy but in the end, it bites me with a bitter, awful taste.

The truth is that living a life committed to Jesus Christ is far from this sugar-coated mentality of “Jesus wants to bless me and I am so great.” True Christianity calls me to a life of surrender (giving away my life), sacrifice, hardship, humility, loss, pain, and more. Yes, God does promise blessing and joy when I live life in Him and I am the first to say I experience his fullness every day, but he also tells me that above all else my heart is deceitfully wicked and apart from Him, I can do nothing.

This message is very conflicting with the message we hear in culture and even in churches today. And I might be lucky if I catch these words on a billboard. I have to constantly examine what my eyes and ears are taking in and line it up with Scripture.

Do you think many churches are teaching a false gospel? How has cultured shaped your view on true Christianity?

Attacking Our Debt-Snowball

“You’ll always have a car payment,” was a comment I heard from someone a few weeks ago. I really thought about how sadly mistaken this lady was but that I thought this once too (prior to Dave Ramsey). I was amazed at how much my mindset had changed. Her comment was strange to me because we were about to finish paying off our 2002 Nissan Pathfinder. With all our credit cards paid off, we have attacked our next debt: my car. Living on the cash system only plan, and banking everything else, we were able to pay off $5,000 in the past few months.

Well the day has finally come and this morning we were able to pay it all off! My car payment is now gone. No more. Now, we have student loans and my husband’s car payment left and we will be debt free (all this totals around 25k or so). It’s hard to believe we no longer have a car payment. It feels so freeing. Jeremiah said he felt as if a huge burden had been released. I was so happy for him too because he’s been ready to attack this just as much as I have. Getting our finances straight has been a huge blessing to our marriage as well, in so many ways…

I don’t know where you’re at in your finances (there’s probably a reason why you’re reading a post on finances), but always think about where you could be and set goals to get there. Don’t allow anyone to discourage you (because there will always be those kind of people you know who say “You’ll always… blah blah blah).

I’d love to hear ways your mindset has changed in regards to finances. Are you hoping to not have a car payment one day? What things have others told you that you might have taken to heart, but knew that it wasn’t really true?

IT’S A…

 BOY! We found out last Tuesday, June 3 that we’re having a baby boy- our heart’s desire. I had always wanted a boy and it’s so neat that God is going to be giving us just that. Our ultra-sound tech went through all the parts of the baby to make sure they were good and healthy. Our hearts were beating so fast because we couldn’t wait to hear what she would say. Finally, she asked us if we wanted to know what it was.

We both said, “YES!” She smiled and said you have yourselves a little boy! I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t stop smiling the whole day. Seeing all the intricate parts of him inside me was so amazing. He was sleeping when the tech was looking at all his parts, but he finally started to wave a little when she moved my belly more firmly. I couldn’t believe he could sleep with all that was going on.

It was such a precious, surreal moment. That night I baked a cake with blue icing and our best friends here in Dallas, Jay and Julia celebrated with us and decorated it with sail boats. They also bought us pacifiers (I got teary eyed when opening them up), bottles, and an adorable newborn outfit. It really began to hit then and it’s hitting more and more now that I’ve outgrown my clothes and should start gaining a pound a week.

I definitely have fears about being a “Mommy” and bringing a new life into the world. I have fears about the responsibility and what it will be like. I know these are probably natural though and my prayer is that I will continue to learn and grow through this pregnancy and be all that I need to be for this precious life.

We’re at the 21st week- half way there. And baby boy Krieger is due to arrive in this world on October 17- give or take. Will he arrive on Jeremiah’s birthday, the 20th? We’ll see.

Prayer for Steven Curtis Chapman & Family

I woke up to K-love this morning and they revealed the tragic news today about Steven Curtis Chapman’s youngest adopted daughter. You can view the article on Fox here.

I remember Steven C. Chapman since the very beginning of Contemporary Christian Music. He has stayed the course the whole way and continues to write powerful songs for his audience. His latest song, Cinderella, is very special and is about his daughters. My heart goes out to the Chapman family during this time and I know many people will be lifting them up in prayer as well.

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