For Such a Time as This

Looking back I can see how the dots connect. I can see how I was being prepared for something I could never have asked for or imagined. I can now see, with perspective, what had seemed to be a  blurry mess in my life - like an illusion that one stares at for long enough-  that the blur comes into focus. God has been refining me,  in an uncomfortable process over the last two years of my life in all aspects of my being. He is allowing for the stripping away of layers and the pruning of my soul. It has been raw, painful and sweet all at the same time. To share all He has done, is more than one quick write. However, today, I would like to share about the birth of a dream I didn't even know I had.

Last Fall, my oldest son, Noah, started first grade in public school. As a past public school teacher, I was very comfortable with the curriculum, the system as a whole and knew what to expect.  I was uncomfortable with was the grandiose of it all. The huge school, the large student body, the unknown teachers and the reality that he was no longer under my watch down the hall at my preschool. Shortly before school began, I learned that he would have a brand new teacher. I was quickly taken back to my first year teaching and began to grow anxious. However, I was quickly put at ease at Open House. His new teacher was wise beyond her experience and appeared like an old pro.

Several weeks went by and I continued to have a deep unsettling that I couldn't name. He was attending a great school and had a wonderful, passionate, new teacher. However, night after night, I kept feeling like I wasn't in step with what God was requiring of me. You see, a year before, I felt a gentle nudge to consider a Christian school. But, I ignored. I questioned and then I moved on. There was the private school tuition. Ouch. There was the fact that I was a past public school teacher. There was uncertainty with their curriculum that is different than the curriculum I taught. There was uncertainty and fear. There were differing opinions amongst peers. There was a whole long list of "Buts, whats and ignoring" because I certainly knew what was better for my child than what God was asking of me.

Finally, after literally wrestling with it for weeks, I did what I thought I'd never do. I obeyed when it was difficult, uncomfortable, unpopular and unsettling. As a teacher, I never thought I'd move my child during the school year, especially not only a few weeks after the start of the year. I felt slightly crazy having to explain to a phenomenal principal at the school, that I thought the world of Noah's teacher and highly of the school itself, but that I felt led to leave the school. She soothed my soul by her response of encouragement to be faithful to how I was being led. Telling Noah's teacher was equally as difficult because she truly was exceptional. She was doing everything well and yet, we were leaving.

Since, moving to a small Christian school in obedience, God has changed my life. He has changed my relationship with him. He has made my faith come to life. And, here, I thought it was only about Noah. In First grade, at the Christian Academy, Noah's teacher, Jennifer Carroll, introduced me to something called Illustrated Faith. She showed me wide margined Bibles that people actually painted, drew and colored in. She introduced me to jewelry and t-shirts that inspired me. Over and over, Mrs. Carroll continued to point me towards seeing Christ in a different light. You see, I had put limits on how I thought I could experience God and therefore my relationship with Him was also limited.

Looking back, I can see missteps along the way because I was moving in fear. I was leaving the known of public school, my public school teaching experiences, and stepping into the unknown of private school. I can see the areas where I refused to walk in faith and continued to try to cling to the comfortable. However, Mrs. Carroll, continued to show this nervous Mama, grace. But more than grace, she showed me Christ in a way I never imagined I could see Him. She showed me How to worship Him, and walk with Him unlike I ever had before. Suddenly, I was interested in opening my Bible more often and spending time in it. I felt like a lifetime of feeling unable to express myself through the arts began pouring out of me through watercolors, markers and colored pencils. I had this new unbridled need to create, beautiful or not. I was no longer limited by the expectation of perfection. I could just be, me.

At the same time, my husband and sons, started spending most of their free time hunting, four wheeling and being outdoors.  I began to purposely shift my thinking from resentful to intentional about this hobby of theirs. I started going with them. I started showing up. It was uncomfortable. But, I kept showing up. After many, many, many outdoor expeditions with my little explorers, something surprising happened. Their love for the outdoors started becoming my love, too. It didn't happen quickly. It wasn't forced. But, after showing up over and over and over again, my heart began to change.

This is the season of my life. Showing up. Show up rain or shine. Muddy and messy and beautiful. Show up, anyway, and watch what God can do.

In February last year, while out to eat, Noah interrupted the conversation and said he had something he needed to tell me. Thinking it was another long Minecraft narration or expression of His love of all things digital, I told him he needed to wait because his Grandma and I were talking. He patiently obeyed and finally could not wait any longer. He came over and whispered in my ear, "Mom, today at Grandma's, I prayed and asked God to come into my heart."

I almost missed the moment, because I thought I knew what he was going to say. Just like I almost missed a life change, because I thought I knew better than God.

Now, a little over a year later, God used Mrs. Carroll to stir up a passion in my heart that has unknowingly always been there waiting, patiently, to be awakened. God has used a little hunt lease in the woods, that I used to resent, to bring our family closer together. He has been teaching me to show up, not to be afraid to get a little mud on my boots or paint on my hands because life is messy and beautiful. Through it all, He continues to teach me to trust Him. Trust His ways and to stand up, stand out and be set apart for His glory, for His namesake. So, in that, in my illustrated faith, in the t-shirts and jewelry I've worn, I started to wonder, what if I made it myself? What if I stepped out into the uncomfortable again? What if I chased something I didn't know how to do? What could God do through me if I trusted Him?

I'd like to introduce to you, my little Etsy shop of wearable faith, From the Stand. Because, for me, it is from the stand of faith and obedience that I was willing to show up to what God was asking and requiring of me, with my family and my faith.  From the stand of faith, I was willing to show up to a place I never imagined I'd be and realized that in my love for my family, I would also find a love for their passion, in the woods, and also in a deer stand.  I'm not afraid of failing with this new little endeavor because my ultimate goal is not just to sell t-shirts or stationary but to MAKE Him known. If I able to do that alone, I will consider it a success.

I leave you with this thought, what is God asking of you? Are you willing to leap "From the Stand" of faith in your life? We need you to.  The world needs you to show up and to throw off the fear that has been holding you back. The world needs what you have to offer. It's time to move past fear and into faith. It's time for you (and I)  to get to work in what God has been asking you to do. If that means taking a class, attending a conference, finding a mentor, or simply showing up, it's time to get started.  You were made for a time such a this. You. The only you that God made. He has required something of you, that only you, can uniquely offer. Show up. Say yes to what He has asking and go do it. You don't have to be perfect, you just have to be you.

Our charitable t-shirt "God, give us hills to climb and the strength to do it" is on sale for $25 from now until Black Friday (Nov. 26th). 100% of the proceeds go directly to Camp Ridgecrest through our Stand Up Kid Camp Scholarship fund for a boy or girl from Myrtle Beach to experience summer camp and possibly meet Christ for the first time while they are there!

Listen to "Stand" by Hillsong United