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We Love Our Church So Why Are We Leaving?

Church is not a Building

“This is our time on the history line of God. This is it. What will we do with the one deep exhale of God on this earth? For we are but a vapor and we have to make it count. We’re on. Direct us, Lord, and get us on our feet.” –Beth Moore

 

Our time with Summit seems too important, too intertwined with our lives, to settle for a simple goodbye.

Summit Church Upstate in Greenville SC has been our church home for almost seven years. From the get-go, Jason and Kyle welcomed us warmly, loved us deeply, and challenged us through biblical teaching. We developed friendships that will not be deterred by a change in address because the Church isn’t defined by brick and mortar. We are the Church and wherever we go, we take with us their love and influence.

Stop to consider the reasons why you love your church. Write them down. It's good for the soul. Click To Tweet

 

 

Let’s see if some of your reasons resonate with mine.

 

An Inclusive Mindset

 

During our services, we prayed for churches across the world but we also prayed for those across the street. In fact, the teaching team at Summit never shied away from building up other churches in our area because they recognized⏤and reminded us⏤that we’re on the same team. We’re not competition. This is a foreign concept in some churches today, many of which are dying.

 

Teaching Team

 

When we first began visiting Summit, we sat under Jason Malone and Kyle Estepp’s teaching. Jason’s well-timed zingers made us laugh one minute and be contemplative the next while Kyle’s tender delivery of the Word melted the hardest of hearts. A few years ago we helped a new Summit campus get started. We discovered more lasting friendships and another engaging and solid pastor, Nathan Forrest. We miss them so much!

 

Behind-the-Scenes

 

I was delighted and honored to serve on the staff communications team for almost two years. What I saw behind-the-scenes was exactly what we all saw on Sunday mornings and every day in between. Not perfection, nor the desire to be, but rather, authentic Christ-followers with a robust faith who desire to share the gospel with every man, woman, and child.

 

People Family

 

There’s not enough space to share the many reasons why I love our church family. Deep relationships deepened and new friendships were forged. We enjoyed serving alongside them in the music and hospitality ministries. And in a very real way, we still will, wherever we land.

 

I hope it’s obvious as to how much we love Summit Upstate. So why are we leaving?

 

Well, we moved almost an hour away from our home campus and while there is another campus closer to us, it’s still thirty minutes away. In the big scheme of things I suppose that’s not terribly far but after months of prayer, we sense the need and desire to serve our little community at the foot of Glassy Mountain. If there’s a need, we’ll be close enough to deliver a meal before it gets cold and who knows? We might actually bump into someone we go to church with at the only grocery store within 20 minutes or the best restaurant around, The Hungry Drover (and I don’t say that just because they carry my books!) *wink*

 

Leaving a church is never easy, especially one you love, but we have Summit’s blessings (which came as no surprise) and we look forward to seeing where God will lead us.

“We’re on. Direct us, Lord, and get us on our feet.” –Beth Moore

 

What’s one thing you most love about your church? It matters!

 

A List of 25 Things I’m Loving Right Now

 

 

Things I Love

Life has been a whirlwind in recent months and I don’t see the winds dying down for awhile. So I do what I do…make lists.

I hope some of these things I’m loving right now will resonate with you and perhaps even prompt you to consider your own surroundings along with the many blessings tucked in between your days.

  1. Spacious places. Psalm 18:19 is my go-to verse with this next move. “He brought me out into a spacious place…”
  2. DW Home Hand-Poured Candles. Vanilla Bean, to be specific. I purchased every last one TJ Maxx carried –  to the tune of 35.00+ worth. Yes, they’re that delicious.
  3. Poetry. I love to read it …and write it.
  4. My church. It’s a church that loves well, no matter what.
  5. My great-grandparent’s bible. Its underlined scripture hints at the legacy they would leave behind.
  6. Peppermint Snow. Dee Dee Parker’s Christmas novella that’s sure to be a best-seller one day!
  7. Exchange Coffee. My local coffee shop makes the best lavender lattes, hands down.
  8. Pride & Prejudice, A&E version with Colin Firth. And only this version. Swoon-worthy.
  9. The original scent of Downy softener. It reminds me of my grandmother’s laundry days.
  10. A charm bracelet with each of my grandchildren’s names forged on a separate heart. {They are my heart.}
  11. Vintage VW vans. Because everybody has a little hippie in them!
  12. My well-loved cookbooks.
  13. Blogging. Absolutely. Love. It.
  14. Soft breezes on scorching hot days. A reminder that refreshment can rise even on the driest of days.
  15. Owls. Maybe it’s a throwback to the ’70s but I love them.
  16. Tiny houses. {Especially as an Airbnb on our future property!}
  17. Chickens and goats and rabbits, oh my!
  18. Pastures & ponies. These two ‘p’s’ equal a third: Peaceful.
  19. My bible. I’ve had it since 1991. Its pages paper-thin and lovingly marked.
  20. White walls, chalkboards, and Mason jars decor. {Does that count for 3?}
  21. Girl gatherings. It’s been a while since I’ve hosted one of these but once we get moved preparest thou!
  22. Chenille blankets. Vintage chenille blankets. Soft, warm, and plush comfort. {Especially on snowy days.}
  23. The way my grandchildren smile when we first see them. {Be still my heart.}
  24. Music. The gift of music meanders its way through the soul like nothing else.
  25. Rainy days when I don’t have to be anywhere. Showers falling, coffee in hand, and a good book. {Exhale.}
Do any of the above items trigger your own love-fest? I’d love to read 25 things you love, so if you decide to do the same on your blog please let me know.  Even if you decide not to publicly share your list, I encourage you to make it anyway.
It will do the soul good. Very good.

Did I happen to mention the cupcakes at Exchange Coffee?
Did I happen to mention the cupcakes at Exchange Coffee? Okay, that makes 26.

How God Created Hope Through A Gift Made of Wood

canstockphoto5566143It wasn’t the first time God has used a piece of wood to speak to me. Years ago, it was the story of His Son hanging on a tree, taking on all my sin, that gave me true hope for the first time in my life, resulting in eternal life. And an abundant one, too.

Part of the abundant life, I’m learning, is celebrating the small but creative ways God personally makes Himself known to us.

By now you know the unfolding story of our upcoming move, Lord willing, to the country. We believe He is leading us to a spacious {not in terms of square footage, but opportunities} place for His purposes and plans. For months, I’ve held fast to this⎯ to the point of purchasing rubber boots covered in chickens. Yes, chickens.

blogrobynBut we’re not the only couple on the move. About a month ago, Robyn, a sweet friend of mine, posted a picture of her holding a wooden cutout of our state on Facebook, revealing an upcoming move in their near future. I was encouraged by the picture. Thomas and Robyn’s smiling faces reflected their excitement and some of that enthusiasm naturally spilled over onto our story. I daydreamed about hanging our own SC cutout on a future wall, except our arrows would point upwards, towards the foothills of SC.

The following weekend was an especially discouraging one as the to-do’s seemed endless in this hundred-year-old house. For the first time, my steadfast chicken-clad boots slipped, and I felt despair trying its best to settle in and make itself at home.

Before daybreak on Monday, I asked God if He was still leading this move⎯that I was struggling to stay encouraged⎯almost to the point of questioning everything about it. Quite frankly, I asked Him to let me know in some way if we were still on the right track. {I have no problem asking my earthly dad if I need something so why would I hesitate to ask my heavenly Father, owner of the cattle on a thousand hills and keeper of every bird in the forest?} That quiet moment before daybreak wasn’t anything spiritually dynamic. It was simply a daughter asking her Daddy for an acknowledgment of His leading.

On Tuesday, the following day, Allison Martin, her two children, and sweet mom, Jane Green, drove over from Hickory NC for lunch. I’d not seen them since they attended our writer’s group years ago, or since Allison’s novel Finding Grace debuted in February. As soon as they pulled up in the nearby parking lot I walked over to greet them. We exchanged hugs while Allison continued pulling kiddo things out of the back of her vehicle. As she reached up to close the door she leaned over for one last thing. “Oh!” she said. “My husband handed this to me as we were leaving. He said to give it to my friend in SC.”  With that, she pulled out the loveliest handcrafted piece of art I’d ever seen. Her husband, Ryan, had used various colors and lengths of wood to piece together the shape of my state, South Carolina.

handcrafted SC wooden displayI was stunned, not remembering if I’d mentioned my desire to have one on Facebook after seeing Robyn’s picture. I asked Allison if she knew the story behind my wanting a SC cutout but neither she nor Jane knew what I was talking about. I could only smile.

At that moment I recognized the wooden gift exactly for what it was⎯a quiet, but creative, confidence booster from my Father. From His heart, through Ryan’s gifted hands and Allison’s willingness to deliver it, God spoke fresh hope into my heart with this gift made of wood, much like he did in 1989.

I’m not sure where you find yourself today but I want to encourage you by reminding us both that the ultimate source of all hope is found in the person of Jesus alone. And through Jesus, and His sacrifice, we have access to the Creator. Not a pie-in-the-sky kind of Creator but One who knows and meets our deepest needs, as well as our smallest ones.

Is there some way I can pray for you, or someone you know, who is in need of hope today? If so, please feel free to share in the comment section, or if it’s something you’d prefer not to post, that’s fine too. Simply fill out your contact information above under the tab “Contact”.

For all the animals of the forest are mine, and I own the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird on the mountains, and all the animals of the field are mine. Psalm 50:10,11

 

 

If you want to check out my chicken boots from Tractor Supply {thanks for the heads up, Melody Crawford!}…

blogboots

 

 

 

 

 

 


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When Fall Beauty Prompts Perpetual Poetry

 

It’s no coincidence that my hubster and I refer to the month of October as the month o’ love. We love everything about it! We were even married on the side of a mountain during the month of October (Pretty Place, Greenville SC).

Every open weekend during the month we plan a getaway. Sometimes it’s an overnight stay but often it’s day trips. One of my favorite day-trip destinations is Carl Sandburg’s home, perched atop a hill in Flat Rock, NC.

This past weekend we took a hike around the front lake, the one that sits at the bottom of the hill, below his home. The crimson-threaded leaves embraced the lake as if they were saying a final farewell, at least for now.

Could Carl Sandburg have been sitting on his front stoop, observing the same breathtaking views, as he penned Autumn Movement?

(It was a foggy morning but if you look carefully you can see Connemara at the top of the hill.)

Autumn Movement,
by Carl Sandburg

I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.

The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman, the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.

The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go, not one lasts.

 

 

 

What will you miss the most with the passing of Fall? 

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…
Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

The Link Between Creativity and Sabbath Rest



by Cathy Baker

Not so long ago I sensed the Holy Spirit gently reaching for the key to my ignition as I earnestly spun my creative wheels in the mud of my own making. Every extra moment was spent working on blog posts and other writing projects, especially on Sunday afternoons. After all, what’s more relaxing than stressing over content?

I don’t know about you, but one way I detect that God’s power has been kidnapped, if you will, by that of the fleshly sort is that I become exhausted—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Working hard is a good thing. Overdoing it for all the wrong reasons is not. 

Image by Pixabay // Hans

For me, it always comes back to the question of WHY I write, or do anything else, quite frankly. When I remember that my whole purpose in writing, teaching, speaking, creating, etc. is to bring God glory, a rest envelopes me much like the shade from a sprawling oak on a hot summer day.

 “God is more concerned about our integrity than our personal success.”
-Arleen Jennings, Created to Be Creative

If it’s been awhile since you’ve answered the question of WHY you are doing what you’re doing, perhaps today is that day. It has a way of cutting through all the excuses, the when-will-my-day-come questions and getting straight to the heart of the matter.

My refusing to rest, especially on a day God provides for exactly that, was a form of pride. Yes, it was a painful realization but I thank God for it. Now, I set aside Sunday afternoons for true rest (and yes, that includes a NASCAR race!) When I’m tempted to start the next blog post or project (which I do enjoy!) I recognize that God set the pattern for rest. He chose to rest one day of the week, who am I to do otherwise?

“You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by your will they exist and were created.” Revelation 4:11

Your turn. What’s one indicator that flesh has kidnapped the Spirit’s control in your life? 

❉ One of our teaching pastors, Kyle Estepp, recently talked on Sabbath Rest. It was by far the best sermon either Brian or myself have ever heard on the subject. If you would like to listen, visit Summit’s site here.

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