Thursday, March 5, 2015

March Blogging Break

After a pretty wild February, I have been feeling like it would be best to give my blog a break for March. Ministry on the road is very time-consuming + energy-draining, and blogging personally on top of all that just got to be a little much for February. I'm really working this year on finding joy in the little things, and a part of that is learning when too much is too much, and when it is time to step back and slow down. I'm a slow learner, but I am really trying for this in 2015!

The timing of my decision was just perfect, and I can now see that God had laid that on my heart, because after the events of today and some other things happening, my whole month has been turned upside down anyways, in terms of schedule and travel and everything. So it is definitely the right time for a break.

I will also be resuming my monthly goals in April, and I will be sharing then how February goals went. (again, in trying to keep things simple, I'm not doing goals for March)

If you want to keep up with me + my family this next month, you can do so through our family blog where my sister + I will continue posting occasionally. I would greatly appreciate your prayers as there are some pretty big new hurdles ahead and this month already promises to be stretching + challenging! (also, if you live nearby I would love to meet you during our March portion of the tour! See our March schedule here)

Hope everyone has a wonderful March, and I can't wait to see y'all back here again in April!

"For the JOY of the Lord is your strength."
Nehemiah 8:10b

Much love, friends!
-Chels

Saturday, February 28, 2015

This + That

(selfies with little friends are really too fun. 
Esp. when the little person has the phone! Hence our rather distorted face proportions =))
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Today my inspiration for blogging is just not coming. Actually there's technically always an over abundance of inspiration floating around in my mind. (and I'm not even the dreamer type! How is this?)
But some days it just doesn't come out on paper. Because when I type things out it takes me a long time. I'm somewhat of a perfectionist and if I'm going to write about a subject than I want to take enough time + do it RIGHT. If y'all had any idea how long this post took me to write...! Its okay; deep, long posts like that are good for sometimes. But other times it's better to just know that not all posts need to be deep + earth shattering.  Sometimes, I need to just post a bit of "this + that"....

*I survived Thursday. Milk bath in the morning. Literally milk bath, friends. Some dear sibling just placed the lid on top of the milk jug instead of screwing it on. So yours truly went to shake up the milk before pouring over my cereal, and...enter the milk bath. Milk everywhere. It was actually really funny-I'm trying to learn to laugh at myself + it just wasn't worth getting upset over. =) And hey, it justified the shower that I had been debating about. Milk bath for the win!

*The other night the church we were at made supper for us + they had homemade banana bread. I could've cried...I've been craving banana bread recently and wishing so much that we could be home enjoying the Iowa winter + making one of my favorite "winter-time" foods; banana bread. We were way too busy in December to do most of our normal holiday cooking, and banana bread was one of those that never got made. It was just like a little hug from Jesus to have it last night! And the church ladies gave us the leftovers so I had another piece actually two for lunch today. Joy in the little things!

*Mortifying moments in a recent concert, in which the brothers got started laughing + that got ME started. #badnews   I was so officially embarrassed. An anonymous brother made things worse by drumming with his pen on the iPad in the front row during a very serious song. The drumming was so loud we could all hear it from stage quite clearly and it was just not appropriate with the song. I did everything I could to not laugh but just couldn't quite hold it in. At the end of the evening I had a chance to get him back-another brother + I were in the foyer of the church during the offertory song which offending brother was playing on, so we did a full-scale jig together complete with any sort of accompanying antics that we could think up. The foyer entrace was very narrow so no one could see us except those on stage + it was glorious payback...offending brother very barely made it through his song without a complete breakdown. #score

*Phone calls yesterday morning from "my" precious little ones back home. Just about melted in a puddle to hear their little voices over the phone line. When the one yr old darling lisped "love you", I about couldn't handle it. #takemehomeNOW

*Friends who encourage me via texts + prayers to continue with God's calling, even when I'm facing overwhelming opposition. So thankful for the Body of Christ. Also thankful for another blogger who posted an article on singleness (this) which I read after I had written mine. I may or may not have been jumping up + down and shouting "TRUTH" the whole time I read it. Also thankful for this article on criticism that was SO TIMELY.

*Being waaay inspired all over again by reading two amazing books on style + color. I was familiar with the concepts and had tried some of it before but now I am IN. One hundred percent. Can.not.wait to get home to totally re vamp my closet + begin to always consistently shop for my style + colors. I've been on such a soap box about this that two of my brothers cornered me the other night to ask me to analyze them + tell them their color seasons so they know what they look best in. =) #brotherstyle

*Singing in a rustic barn last night. Best atmosphere ever. #barnandcountrylove

*Parking our bus + our friends' bus together in the Walmart parking lot and then having late night talks, early morning workouts, + family devotions together. #memories #bigfamilylove

*Super excited for our debut tonight of our version of this song. Love love LOVE!

And there's a bit of "this + that" from my life the past few days!

Have a blessed Sunday, y'all!
-Chels

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Life with Littles

What would life be without little people? I'm so thankful we aren't all grown-up automatically. Kiddos have the best life, I think. They are young + innocent + so clueless sometimes, but so sweet + sincere in their love + trust.

I love the little people in my life. I'm not a mama yet, but just because I'm not doesn't mean I'm going to miss out on making a difference in the lives of the littles that God has placed in my life during this season. Did you know that there's always room in a little child's love cup for just a little more love? A few more smiles, a few more games, a few more laughs? There's always a little person you can find to invest in + pour more love into their little life.

It makes me sad whenever I stop + realize that my siblings are almost all grown up. There are still three that aren't teenagers but even they are getting to be so grown up + independent. Our family is no longer identified by the constant diapers + bibs + sippy cups + nap times. But even though we don't have it anymore in our family, there are lots of other families out there that are ten years behind us + in the thick of all that comes with having a house full of littles. And spending time with families like these just blesses my heart, every time.

How people choose to intentionally cut children out of their lives, blows my mind. Why in the world would someone not want a house full of God's blessings?

Children are not a distraction from more important work.
They are the most important work.
C.S. Lewis

Love on the little people in your life today! 
-Chels

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Single + Satisfied



(warning: proceed at your own risk. I get passionate about this topic and I might step on your toes.=))

This post has been on my heart for years. I'm burdened by the amount of girls in our typical Christian culture today who are missing out on the joy of life because they are pining. Finally I have compiled my thoughts and some biblical principles on this and am here to share them with you. I'm not even close to perfect and I definitely don't have life figured out. I'm as human as anyone else and have so many struggles and challenges, every day. But there's something God has been showing me during my single years thus far, and I want to share it with you today.

Starting with the fact that I am twenty-four. I am single. And I love it. 

If you would have told me ten years ago that I would be single at age twenty-four, I would've laughed at you. Me? Single at twenty-four? Seriously now. Nobody in their right mind would be single at twenty-four. 

You see, I was very wise when I was thirteen. I had my life planned out. Sure, there were some unknowns. But this marriage thing? Oh, I had that down. I was confident; I knew how it would work. And since everything always works out like you think it should when you are thirteen...well, then. 

I knew that I would be married at eighteen. Ah, that magical number. SO mature. Eighteen was that PERFECT age when life would really begin. I would marry a boy who was nineteen, just because that sounded right.
(Liesl + Ralph from "the Sound of Music" were my role models. =))

If, for some unforseable reason, there were problems (problems? At eighteen?), I would maybe miss marriage at eighteen, and then I would be stuck with getting married at nineteen. Which would be way old, but hey...it would work. By twenty-four I planned to have at least three babies, and I would be well on my way to being the mother of the world's next largest family.

Don't laugh. Please, don’t laugh. I would have been SO offended. =)

Obviously, life changed as I got older. I learned things. I think maybe I also decreased in wisdom. Sometimes I feel like I was much wiser when I was thirteen than I am now. Or maybe I just thought I was wise. Yes, I think that's more like it. I had all these "ideals", but no experience to go along with them!

But as I got older, things were more complicated. Things weren't so cut and dried. I learned that you don't just automatically turn eighteen and get married. Some people do. But some people don't.

And you know what? Contrary to what I thought back when I was thirteen...it is okay. In fact, if its not God's plan for you to get married when you're eighteen, than it's absolutely wonderful to be single!

Ten years later, I have learned a few things. I'm still learning, every day. Life is such a school of learning. But there are a few basic principles that go along with this whole idea of being satisfied during singleness.

Before even starting, let me say that I don't like the label "single". In fact, I really dislike it. I don't think of myself as single. When I think of single, I think of someone who is alone. And I am so not alone. I have Jesus, most importantly, and secondly I have one of the biggest and definitely the awesomest family in the whole world. Besides all that, I have hundreds upon hundreds of friends + extended family who make my life so full + rich.
But in this post, I use the word "single" because that is what most people are thinking of when they think of someone who isn't married. So I use it, not because I'm a fan of the term, but to better identify and make myself clear.

Moving on...

God has a different plan for every person. There is not a formula with this whole getting married thing. It is different for everyone. Everyone. For some girls, God's perfect timing is when they are seventeen and Mr. Right comes along. For other girls, no one comes along til they are twenty-five and then boom-it is Mr. Right and it all happens very fast. Then for other girls, there are a whole row of guys who think they (the guy) are her Mr. Right but it isn't actually Mr. Right until quite a while later in life. For still other girls, they meet someone and know right away that he is “the one” and they get married. For yet others, love comes softly...very softly. And sometimes, girls get stars in their eyes and don't act logically. Some girls lower their standards and give themselves away to the first guy who acts interested just because they want to get married that badly. Other girls are convinced they are such an epic catch that there are too good for everyone and anyone and they won’t give any guy a chance. There is every kind of situation out there. 

In the midst of all of these different scenarios....if you think marriage is the ultimate goal for your life, you are wrong wrong wrong. If you think being married will make you more mature, or more godly, or more whatever, you are wrong. And if you think marriage will give you that dream life that you’ve been longing for, you are also wrong.

I know there are probably married critics who would say I have no business saying this about marriage, because I am single, not married, so how would I know what it's even like to be married? 

True. I don't know what it's like. But this I do know. One can learn a lot from observation. I have spoken with many married women. Most of my closest friends are married women. I have attended weddings of more friends and relatives than I can count. I have watched, and observed, and listened, and observed some more.

And this is what I have found.

Marriage doesn't solve anything. (light bulb moment, haha! hopefully y'all already knew that!) Nothing will solve your problems but Jesus. Nothing will truly satisfy but Jesus. If you are waiting for a man to come along and sweep you off your feet and take away every worry + trouble that ever bothered you, you are wasting your time, because it won't happen like that.

At the risk of sounding feminist, I give you this quote:

"The smartest thing a women can ever learn, is to never need a man."

Obviously, I'm not a feminist. 
But this general principle? Yes. Oh, yes. The smartest thing you can learn is that all you "need" for happiness is Jesus.

Now, a wonderful man might come along, and might sweet you off your feet, and you might think he is perfect. You might think life is finally going to really + truly happen for you, and that with your marriage your problems will all wash away.

But you know what?

If you haven't learned before marriage to be content in whatsoever state you are in...well then, my friend, I promise you that you will not be content once you are in the marriage state of things, either. That isn’t my opinion-it's what God says. 

"Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content." -Philippians 4:11

 Contentment only lies in Him-not in a person, or possessions, or circumstances. If you’re looking to be satisfied in something else you won’t be finding it until you come back to Jesus.

I've seen a lot of people get married. I've observed more relationships + marriages than I could count. I have counseled with girls who are going crazy just to get married. I have seen the tears, and heard the cries, of women who just want to be loved by a man, their own man. And just to be honest here, I'm getting really tired of the whining and the drama. After listening to a particularly ridiculous lament from a single young woman the other day, I told my sister that if I hear one more girl complaining about her "single status" I just might say something "quite sharp and sarcastic". (yes, I digress-sorry to quote Cranford in a post about singleness but I felt Miss Poole's words fit perfectly there =))

It is so sad, but there is a pattern. And I will share it with you. Every single time I have seen a girl like this get married (a girl who was "pining", and not truly content and living in joyful + radiant singleness) the forecoming future is so predictable. It plays out the same every time. 
EVERY TIME. Without exception.

Finally, “the one” has come along, and she is giddy. Thrilled! Obsessed! She is totally wrapped up in her new man, because he is the one she has waited for to come and save her out of her distress of singleness. And now he is finally here, and life is perfect.

 You've seen this type-she is literally in some sort of bubble all through her relationship. All that matters is that she has found a man. And she just "knows" that now life will truly begin.

 She gets married. They go on their honeymoon. They get home from the honeymoon. And every.single.time, I can guarantee you, give her 2 months max....and she will be wailing about her new set of problems.  The lack of finances, or her social status, or the new community she lives in, or her husband's weird habits that she can't get used to, or her awful in-laws, or something. But there will always be something wrong. I've seen it happen over and over again. And it always happens this way. Why? Because she wasn't satisfied before she got married.

"Happiness is an inside job. Don't assign anyone else that much power over your life."

It never ceases to amaze me how these girls think that men will solve all their troubles. What an injustice to men-to raise them up on a pedestal of perfection like that. Men are just as human as you are, dear girl. And they definitely can't solve your issues. Goodness, no.
Truth be told, more often than not, men just add issues to your life. 
(I'm not slighting men here at all, just stating the facts. Your life will be simpler before men enter it!)

At this point I can just hear all of you married ladies rising up in all your matrimonial glory and saying “Life will be more wonderful after your man enters it!” 
Well, I'll try to trust your experience that it will be grand, although I still think my life is pretty great as it is. =) But the point still remains that life will be more complicated. You will have things to deal with that you didn't have to think about before.

All this said. I am not downplaying marriage at all. If you are reading this with an open heart, than I think you will see + understand that. God instituted marriage from the very beginning + when the time is right and you know He has brought the right one, than go for it because then it will be His plan for you! 

If you are currently "single"? Then embrace this season. Enjoy it. THANK JESUS for it. It is a beautiful season of life that He has given you and He desires you to live it whole-heartedly for Him.

Be satisfied in your singleness! If you are struggling, ask Him for grace. His love is more than sufficient to supply your every need. He knows what is best for you. He knows if you should be married at eighteen, or twenty-eight, or whatever age. 

(And for a little encouragement: there is still a remnant of radiantly satisfied women who are twenty, twenty-five, thirty, thirty-five, forty..and all ages in between. Some are married, some are not. But they have something in common, and that is that they didn't find their fulfillment in a man. They found it in Jesus. I know women like these and Jesus just shines all over them. The ones that got married have some of the most beautiful marriages I've ever seen. And the ones that are still "single" live some of the most beautiful lives of joy and contentment imaginable)

Jesus wants you + I to live for HIM, not to live for marriage. He wants us to find the deepest desires of our hearts fulfilled in Him, not in a husband.

Is it hard for you to read this? Do you feel like you are going to have to give up your current mentality and dreams in order to choose to be satisfied? Just do it, please---the best way is always worth it no matter what difficulties stand in the way. 

I leave you with these words of wisdom from one of my modern-day heroes of the faith:

"Whenever you surrender the most precious areas of your life to God, it is like trading in a pile of worthless pebbles for a truckload of priceless jewels."
{Leslie Ludy}

Choose satisfied, dear friend. Its the best way, everyday, no matter what season of life you are in.

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Do you agree? Disagree? Have additional thoughts? That's what the comment box is for! I'd love to see this post turned into a discussion of different readers, single or married, giving their thoughts + discussing different things that the Lord has revealed to them.
Seriously, it would be a huge blessing to me if y'all, as readers, would participate here in the discussion, so that we can grow together! All the effort put into posts is totally worth it if it blesses or challenges someone, and the only way I’ll know if it did that for you is if you tell me so

Oh. And Happy Valentines Day. =)
-Chels

Friday, February 13, 2015

Spread the Love Tomorrow!

Tomorrow, as you may know, is Valentines Day.

Valentines Day is "that day" which married people are supposed to love, and single people are supposed to hate. Well, that is according to culture. But we don't follow culture, friends. (thank-goodness!) So let me give you a few little ideas for "reforming" your Valentines Day mentality, whatever it may be.

First of all, Valentines Day is actually a beautiful day, and a day that we all can enjoy, whether we are married or single or WHATEVER. =) I mean, how fun is it to have one whole day just dedicated to celebrating LOVE?! And it doesn't have to be having a  "significant other" to love. It can be showing love (in all sorts of unique ways) to anybody that you love and are thankful God has placed in your life!

Its so delightful to be intentional with celebrating friends on Valentines Day. The Biblical principle that "it is better to give than to receive" is SO TRUE. From sending chocolates to  a little three year old sweetie pie back home, to mailing out several cheery cards to various random friends, to having flowers delivered tomorrow to an elderly widow friend of mine...I can't even tell you the joy these little things are bringing me. I imagine the smiles on these people's faces when they get these little reminders of love and it just makes me not able to stop smiling!

Ah, I love Valentines Day! I love it that there's a day to stop and reflect on how special people + relationships are, and to love on those people.

(For a few more thoughts on celebrating the day, you can read my post from last year)

Now go out tomorrow and do some little things to show love to the people in your life.
 I'd love to hear your ideas on how you are going to spread the love on Valentines Day!
-Chels

Friday, February 6, 2015

February Schedule

FEBRUARY TOUR SCHEDULE
1...First Baptist Church, Blountstown, FL, 11am
1...Kushla Bethany Baptist Church, Eight Mile, AL, 6pm
2-5...Recording Studio, Brentwood, TN
6...Calvary Baptist Church, Statham, GA, 7pm
7...Saluda Presbyterian Church, Saluda, SC, 6pm
8...White Rock Baptist Church, White Rock, SC, 11am
8-12...Gospel Express Prison Crusade, statewide SC
13...Bahia Vista Mennonite Church, Sarasota, FL, 7pm
14...Pinecraft Park, Sarasota, FL, 6pm
15...Bayshore Mennonite Church, Sarasota, FL, 6pm
17...First Presbyterian Church, Sebring, FL, 6pm
18...First Christian Church, Cape Coral, FL, 6:30pm
20...First Baptist of Southwest Broward, Cooper City, FL, 7pm
21...Victory Christian Fellowship, East Palatka, FL, 7pm
22...Arlington Baptist Church, Jacksonville, FL, 6pm
24...Temple Baptist Church Prime Timers, Titusville, FL, 10:30am
25...New Fellowship Baptist Church, Titusville, FL, 7pm
26...Community Church, San Antonio, FL, 7pm
27...Roberts Barn, Polk City, FL, 6pm
28...New Beginnings Family Church, Spring Hill, FL, 6pm

February is our Florida tour month! We have more concerts than ever in the sunshine state, and are excited about all the new places we will be singing. I hope to meet many of you Florida readers this coming month! Feel free to comment with any questions you might have about attending one of our concerts.

-Chels

Thursday, February 5, 2015

My Theme for 2015

Here it is, the big reveal. Only? I don't have a theme word after all.

I just couldn't decide. There were SO many areas of needed growth and with that so many different words I thought of choosing.
I felt I needed a strengthening in truth, in just knowing exactly where I stood on every single conviction. Truth would be an excellent word.
And then I felt like God was also showing me that relationships needed to be more of a top priority. So maybe my word should be cherish, or treasure?
But I also felt like I was constantly too busy last year, constantly going going going, and not taking enough time to truly just be quiet + before the Lord. So maybe my word should be quiet, or still, or rest?

In looking at all of this, I realized that at the heart of it all was a desire for 2015 to be an intentional year. A year of making things happen, and living on purpose. A year of cherishing every single moment + living each day to its fullest. A year of growing in grace + truth. A year of making every single moment beautiful, whether it is in a particular relationship, or a work project, or a mundane chore, or a good book, or a tough + dirty job, or WHATEVER it may be that I am doing.
Those little things in life deserve my best! And everything that I do should be done with JOY in my heart, to the honor + glory of Jesus Christ.

In particular for 2015, I want to look back on the year at the end of it and be able to say that I took joy in all of those little things that came along. No matter how small, or trivial, or insignificant they seem...I want to do each of them 100%, with a spirit of joy!

So instead of a theme word, I have a theme phrase. It is, simply,

JOY IN THE LITTLE THINGS.

This is my goal, my theme, my HEART, for this coming year.

What about you-do you have a theme word or phrase for the coming year?
-Chels