Before we began weDIGit in October of 2010, Donna was working for Volunteer Student Missions in the Baptist Missionary Association of America. She was responsible for making sure that anywhere from 80 to 100+ students and leaders made it to their destination overseas or within the US for the short term summer mission trip they had chosen to take.
While she was working with VSM, we were blessed to meet, and work with, many amazing people. One of those people was Mike Green. Mike led a short term mission trip each year Donna worked with the organization, and has continue to lead trips for VSM. Donna could always count on Mike to have everything together, ready, and organized for whatever trip he would be leading, and our entire family was blessed to get to know him too. He is a true servant.
Mike attends Farley Street Baptist Church in Waxahachie, Texas. He has been helping with the Student Ministry much more while they have been without a Student Pastor, so he contacted us early in January about possibly coming to help with a D-Now weekend at their church. We had the weekend open, and after talking to our new friend Blanton Feaster, the Education Pastor at the church, we got it all lined out.
Isn't it cool how God uses Kingdom Connections, like our relationship with Mike, to accomplish a specific purpose to accomplish His will some where down the road? We've seen that happen over and over again, especially in the last 4 years. One door has led to another door, that led to another door, and God has accomplished His will through Kingdom Connections.
Another great example is the picture of the two young ladies at the bottom of this post. This is Anna Claire and Claire Ann. I thought I was taking this picture because these two girls were friends and it was cool how their names were the same but in reverse order. Turns out that Anna Claire's mom, Amy, is a dear friend that I've known since I was a kid. I used to attend Youth Events with Amy and her sister Ann when we were students, and last weekend my family led worship & spoke at an event her daughter was attending. Cool huh?
If we will pay attention, we can see how God's sovereign plan uses Kingdom Connections in our lives everyday. God is ALWAYS working to accomplish His will in our lives, and He is always using relationships to do it. A relationship with Mike Green led us to Blanton Feaster and the D-Now weekend, and that led us not only to Anna Claire, but also to a whole new set of new relationships with some amazing students and leaders at Farley Street. No telling how God will use those down the road too.
Donna, Braden, Dawson, Rachel, and I had a great time leading worship, speaking, and hanging out with the leaders and students at Farley Street. They are an AMAZING group of people, and the have a fantastic facility too. Pastor Richard Smith, Blanton, Mike, and their team of leaders have established a great foundation for ministry. The weekend was powerful, and I believe the Spirit planted seeds in all of our lives. We are looking forward to seeing the fruit in the weeks & months ahead.
We also had some great talks with Blanton, and we discussed some possible opportunities in the future. We are looking forward to how God may use weDIGit to partner with Farley Street Student Ministry again in the near future.
NOTE: This update was sent out today to our weDIGit email list. If you will click the "Join Our Email List" to the right, you will be added to a list that gets weekly updates & info from our ministry.
I never realized that Abraham’s wife, Sarah, was really his half-sister. All these years I had ripped old Abraham for “pretending” Sarah was his sister. I’ve even heard a lot of preachers get all over him for it too. Then as I was reading Genesis 20 again, I finally paid attention to verse 12. There it was, “But truly, she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father but not of my mother; and she became my wife.”
I’m not going to debate or entertain questions or comments relating to the circumstances that were in existence 5,000+ years ago that would allow Abraham and Sarah to marry. It was a completely different time, and entirely different circumstances than we live in today. What I do find very interesting are the truths involved in the story, because they hit me right between the eyes & convict my soul.
At the beginning of Chapter 20, Abraham told King Abimelech, upon entering a land the king controlled, that his wife Sarah was his sister. Why? Abraham was afraid that the king would kill him and take his wife Sarah for his own if he was completely honest about her being his wife. So he lied…a bit. I mean it wasn’t completely the truth or completely a lie…It was a half-truth. It was still a lie.
Abraham’s lie sent his wife into a very difficult situation and caused the people in Abimelech’s kingdom to become barren, so God appeared to Abimelech to tell him the truth and to also let him know that he was “a dead man” (Gen. 20:3) because he had taken Sarah for his own. Abimelech quickly says, “Look I didn’t touch her,” and God said “I know because I kept you from her to save your life, but now GIVE HER BACK to Abraham and he will pray for you.” In other words, I want you to confront Abraham with this truth, so that I can heal you and your family, help Abraham get back to what I’ve called him to do, and quit taking care of things himself.
The Bible says that Abimelech got up EARLY the next morning, took Sarah back, and confronted Abraham. Abraham not only admitted the truth to Abimelech, but he also confessed that this was something he had done before. In fact, it was his plan all along. Whenever Abraham found himself in that same situation he had convinced Sarah to simply say she was his sister and everything would be OK. This time Abraham’s lie caused the king’s whole household to became barren, and even threatened his life. God wanted Abraham to make things right, fulfill his purpose, quit telling half-truths about his half-sister, and to truly begin walking by faith. God wanted Abraham to trust that He would take care of Him completely. God had a plan, and He didn’t need Abraham to try to fix or manipulate things for that plan to happen. That’s Convicting to me.
I relate to Abraham on several fronts. I didn’t marry my half-sister, but my wife and I have been called to step out in faith together. My wife also needs me to lead authentically.Yet, in the midst of fulfilling this call to walk by faith, I also have been confronted with my tendency to tell half-truths and manipulate situations. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. My half-truths and manipulation, on many occasions, have caused pain and confusion in the lives of those that I love most and people associated with me too. I’m thankful though, that as I have been confronted by the truth too, as Abraham was, I have been given the chance to repent, change, and an opportunity to make things right.
Check out what follows in Genesis Chapter 21, or as Paul Harvey used to say, “The Rest of the Story.” The Bible says in verses 1 and 2, “The Lord visited Sarah as He said, and the Lord did for her as He had promised. For Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time God had told him.” You see, God gave Abraham and Sarah the son He had promised them immediately AFTER Abraham finally came clean about his Half-Sister, His Half-Truth’s, was completely honest. That's when hings changed.
I wonder how many promises are held back because of our lies and manipulation. How many blessings are delayed because we have not completely trusted that God is able to do what He promised and take care of us on our journey? How many moments aren’t as powerful and special as they could have been because we choose to manipulate the situation ourselves rather than allowing God to be in complete control? How many Facebook Statuses are written, Pages are launched, Tweets are tweeted, and Social Media Moments are plagiarized, embellished, or inflated to get more “likes, a “hearty Amen,” or to satisfy our need for approval. So many moments aren’t about God at all. Sure we use God’s name or His Word, but we have some motive, agenda, or purpose to accomplish ourselves. Until we come to a place of repentance and change ourselves, as Abraham did so many years ago, the next chapter of our lives can’t be fully written either.
Earlier this week, as my son Jordan and I walked out of the house early one morning on our way to his off-season football workout, it was incredibly foggy. We could hardly see across the street, and the visibility as we drove toward the school was horrible. We traveled at a very slow pace because we literally couldn’t see the car in front of us until it appeared just ahead of us. It was thick.
Later that same morning, as I was driving my daughter Megan to her basketball practice, she commented on the thick fog. I shared with her that it had been much thicker earlier that morning, and we began to talk about how the sun will always eventually burn away the fog. As we looked into the big Texas sky, we could begin to see the silhouette of the sun breaking through.
This isn’t the first time that I’ve discussed this with my kids, and it obviously isn’t the first time anyone has written on this topic. In fact, as I searched the internet for pictures, there were countless articles, blogs, and even a book called “Out of the Fog.” This past week, this occurrence hit me in a very personal spot. As Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:9, “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.” But what’s great about the Holy Spirit is that He uses things that have happened countless times before to speak to us right when we need it most. I needed this Word that morning. In fact, it’s still speaking to me as I write today.
There are several scientific explanations why fog forms, but one definition I found applied and spoke to me perfectly. The definition said, “Sometimes fog forms when warm air moves over a cold surface.” As I thought about that definition, the Holy Spirit awakened me to a new truth. There have been many times when my life gets cold. When I use the word cold, it doesn’t mean that I lose faith in God. It simply means that I was in a situation, whether self-induced by my own poor choices or possibly beyond my control, where I found myself doubting, struggling, confused, guilty, hurt, lonely, at-a-loss, answer-less, overwhelmed, desperate, or ashamed. It was a cold place. Then the Holy Spirit's presence begins to move over my life and through my circumstances, and a thick fog appears.
God’s presence, His Spirit within us, speaks in the fog.You see I'm learning that in the fog we have to move more cautiously. In the fog we have to be more aware of what’s happening around us. In the fog we can learn so much about who we are, what we believe, and potentially about what needs to change. It’s in the fog where we have the opportunity to walk by faith as we realize how helpless we are and allow Him to direct our steps. It’s in the fog where we are able to recognize that we do need Him most.
The fog will always burn away as the sun encompasses the earth. How we come out of the fog is completely up to us. I know from my own, many times painful, personal experiences that I often become so focused on the fog lifting, because I am so uncomfortable and can't see clearly, that I miss what I could learn in the fog. Worse yet, I have also many times have heard what I was supposed to hear, and simply refused to apply it. What was the result? A thick fog reappears, and I find myself right back where I started.
There is one thing that we can be certain of; there is never a moment in our life that the sun (or the Son) isn’t there. Even when the fog is at its thickest clear skies will eventually appear. I know there folks today that are in a fog that makes no sense. There are no answers to the questions. There is no explanation. All they can see is the hand right in front of their face. The fog is thick. There are many things that may never make sense in this life. There is no reason. But as Paul said, “NOW we see only a reflection as in a mirror; THEN we shall see face to face. NOW I know in part; THEN I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And NOW these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:12-13)
Paul assures us that until the “THEN” happens (when this life ends and we step into the new life God has promised) that in the midst of the darkest fog there ARE a few things that we can be certain of NOW; Faith, Hope, and Love. They are what make up the knot at the end of our rope. We just have to hold on, trust, and learn as He speaks in the midst of the fog that encompasses us because the Son will come.
I’m reminded again of what Jesus said, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
I LOVED Halloween when I was a kid. We dressed up to go trick-or-treating, and rode all over Springhill, Louisiana to find candy. My mom and dad always made it a lot of fun, and allowed us to enjoy it. And my dad was as pastor! That's crazy, huh? As I got older, my friends and I still dressed up to go out and get candy, go to haunted houses, and roll our favorite teachers & friends yards with toilet paper. (Just a side note... in Springhill, La., rolling yards was an acquired art and we were pros!) Needless to say, we looked forward to Halloween every year!
When I began my career as a Student Pastor on staff at a church, we had events called "Fall Festivals," "Trunk or Treat," "Harvest Festivals," and other types of "Halloween Alternatives". I'm not saying there was\is anything necessarily wrong with them, but to be honest, they weren't nearly as fun. I wanted my kids to enjoy it like I did, so we always made sure we took them out into the neighborhood too. I love going where the people were!
A confirming and liberating day in our lives came when I was the Student Pastor at Grace Church in Little Rock, Arkansas. The staff & elders led the congregation to move into the community for Halloween instead of away from it. Rather than trying to "bring them in from the fields of sin" for an event at our facility, they encouraged us to go into the "fields of sin" and be light in our community. They wanted us to come up with unique ways to connect with the people in our neighborhoods. Since we had already begun moving in that direction as a family, we couldn't wait to ponder the possibilities!
That Halloween we hooked a small trailer to a four wheeler, put hay on it, and had a hayride through our little neighborhood. We connected with the neighbors and had an awesome time with our kids. Halloween was never the same for our family after that.
When we moved to Texas, we brought this new found freedom and outward focused mentality with us. After we moved into our current house 12 1/2 years ago, we started a Halloween cul-de-sac party. It started out pretty simple, but along the way, two of our neighbors began a DJ business. They offered to set up their equipment, including speakers, lights, etc. to play music so loudly it could be heard through the whole neighborhood. Another neighbor loaned us a projector and screen so we could show fun videos and have a festive backdrop. Even now, every Halloween, we pull it all together and set up for the event. We dress up, hand out candy, show videos and play fun line-dance songs like the Cupid Shuffle (which I love because I actually know how to do it!). There have been as many as a hundred people in the cul-de-sac dancing in unison to this silly song. Kids & parents alike, dancing around, singing and laughing together. It is awesome!
This year was no exception. A few of our "initial" neighbors have moved away over the years, but with the help of my neighbor Mike & his DJ equipment, and a friend who graciously loaned us a video projector, we were able have our annual cul-de-sac party. We even built a big screen with some wood and a white sheet! Our new neighbors joined in and hundreds of people in our neighborhood made the pilgrimage to Tumbleweed Drive for the Halloween cul-de-sac party. We played the Cupid Shuffle of course, and even learned to do the Wobble. It was a blast!
The resounding comments we hear over and over again each year are, "We always look forward to coming here and hanging out," and "I wish we could do this more often." You know what? Those are the thoughts I find myself thinking too.
As the Holidays and a New Year approach, maybe we can all begin to think differently. Not just about next Halloween, but also about other opportunities ahead. Instead of focusing on special events or holidays to "bring them in," why not shift our thinking to creative ways of "going out"? Instead of quietly condemning our neighbors, think of ways to connect with them. We are called to be salt and light in our communities, not to be separated from them. As believers, we have a great role model in this area. Just read the stories of Jesus in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. One thing is clear....Jesus was awesome at moving into the community...so awesome that He drew a crowd where ever He went. He impacted the atmosphere of desperate people who were searching for something. He gave up His comfort zone to reach the lowest of the low. It was so important to Him that His last Words before He left encouraged us to do the same.
"Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." (Matthew 28:19)
"And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere-in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)
October 1, 2014, marked the beginning of our 5th year in full-time ministry. The past 4 years have been such an amazing journey of faith for our family. Donna and I were in agreement that God had called us to take this step of faith together in 2010, but we had no idea all that we would learn and experience, and how deeply God would work in our souls and family. God is changing us all from the inside out and challenging us to believe that with faith all things are possible.
When we stepped out in faith there were specific things we sensed God leading us to commit to do. The first was to “Go,” as God led and let Him open the doors. Donna and I believe we have been given a mission to move into the culture to share the Gospel AS a family TO the family. We desire to encourage & empower husbands\fathers and wives\mothers to recognize that “church” begins at home. Fathers are called to pastor, lead, and shepherd their families, and there is nothing more powerful than and husband and wife working together as a unified team to lead their family. It’s where discipleship should begin, and we have seen many doors open to groups of all sizes to share this message. It’s time to go to a new level.
We also sensed God leading us to not “set fees” or “honorariums.” Many organizations and churches can’t afford to bring people in to partner with them because of a fee being too high. Over the past 4 years we have never set a fee or demanded a certain amount, and that has enabled us to go and serve as God led. This has enabled us to go into organizations of all kinds and serve freely.
Although we have seen God provide in miraculous ways, and believe we still will, we have come to a place on our journey where stabilizing our organization and family financially month to month must become a priority to fulfill the ultimate vision God has placed within us. As a government approved 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization, we can enlist supporters to subsidize weDIGit through donations and gifts. Our Board of Directors, which I will introduce to you in a post very soon, is in the middle of a process to see that our monthly living and organizational expenses are covered, and this letter is a first step in that process.
As a family, we have traveled over 120,000 miles together since weDIGit began. We traveled over 23,000 miles since June of this year as we led worship and\or spoke at 5 camps, 15 different church events, several weddings and community\city\school events here in our home town. We have been blessed to serve & minister to\with some amazing people. To be able to lead worship & speak together as a family, in front of thousands of students, families, and individuals has not only been an honor, but also some of the most joy filled & special moments of our lives. Donna and our children are some of the most talented Spirit led people I know. They lead worship with passion, the highest quality possible, and an authentic desire to respond as the Holy Spirit leads. It’s a huge blessing.
For weDIGit to be able to continue traveling &fulfill the mission to move into the culture, plan for future conferences & events, and function as an organization, we must be able to have the resources i.e., business cards & printed materials, promotional materials, merchandise, equipment, etc… We are so thankful that the Spirit of God has, on many occasions, led certain individuals and churches along the way to bless us with finances, food, transportation, and many other needs, but we truly believe it is time to make a concentrated effort to gain support and stabilize for the future.
On our end, we are beginning to substitute teach and do whatever we can to help make ends meet, but today we would like to ask if you would consider giving a one-time donation and\or pray about supporting weDIGit on a monthly basis. You can make donations immediately and\or set up monthly payments by clicking the PayPal link to the right, or you can mail checks made out to weDIGit and mail them to 504 Tumbleweed, Forney, TX. 75126.
Thank you and please continue praying for us as we pursue God’s purpose and will for our family.
I’ve struggled with approval. It’s true. I mean, don’t you think I do? Seriously, I’d love your input. This probably isn’t the best way to start this blog is it? Should I start over? This just isn’t very good is it?
A counselor told me years ago that I was a “Flaming Codependent.” Apparently that meant I really cared what others thought about what I did and said. I needed you to be OK before I could be OK. It was, and still can be, exhausting.
When we desire to walk by faith, and know God’s will and purpose for our lives, we can’t focus on the approval of others. That is why Paul told the Romans, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
Here’s a fact: We will seek the approval of others when we begin to waver in our faith as we doubt what we once believed the Holy Spirit called us to do. We can believe something all day long, but until we step in faith toward what we believe…It won’t happen.
Paul had experienced this struggle too, and that’s why he was able to write with confidence that we can KNOW the “good and perfect and pleasing” will of God. He had seen it happen in his own life. As we allow the Holy Spirit to transform our thinking, instead of conforming to the approval and validation from others, He will unveil more and more of God’s will with each step of faith we take.
So what do we do while we are walking by faith and being transformed? Jesus told a great story about that in Luke 18. “One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. ‘There was a judge in a certain city,’ he said, ‘who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’” Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith.’” (Luke 18:1-8)
Do you see it? We have to keep moving forward in faith, doing what God has called us to do, and cry out to the Lord daily for insight, leadership, assurance, and guidance! If we just won’t quit, He will answer us quickly. In fact, Jesus says He is looking forward to seeing people living and walking out their God-given destiny by faith when He comes back. That should make us want to keep pressing!
Our 18 year old cat, Oliver, is just like that widow woman. That cat has survived almost two decades by being persistent. He looks like he’s going to keel over at any minute, but he keeps on pressing. This truth is most apparent when he’s hungry. He makes the most hideous sound over and over and over and over again until someone finally feeds him. What is his destiny? Simply to live one more day and be the most amazing cat in history. He knows he won’t make it if someone doesn’t give him a can of food, so he continues to persist until His God-given desire becomes sight.
So should we.
“Feelings aren’t facts”, “This too shall pass”, “You’re not alone”, “Time heals all wounds”… These may be true statements, but when you’re in the ‘pit’ (and I’m referring to that place; that deep, dark, ugly, lonely place), none of those pithy clichés hold an ounce of weight. In fact, words in general don’t really do much for the heart that’s fallen deep into such a place.
Imagine someone standing at the edge of the cistern/pit where the prophet Jeremiah found himself one day (Jer.38) and yelling “Just be patient dude, God’s got this!” If I’m Jeremiah, I’m thinking “quit wasting time trying to verbally comfort me and go get a rope or something to get me out of here!” It doesn’t say how long he was in that pit, but can you imagine what went through his mind? “Why me?” seems like a plausible thought. I mean, this ‘dude’ had sold out to God and had a message to deliver, a task to complete. How and why did he end up in a hole in the ground, sinking into a muddy mess?
Ever been there? Maybe like Jeremiah, you found yourself there by the hands of another. It could be that the pit has been there all your life and you are in and out of it all the time. Maybe it’s even become a hideout, a safe place, even though it’s dark and lonely. Whatever the case, that place…the pit…is not a healthy place for you…or me.
I have a pit. It’s lonely there. I find that I end up in my pit frequently. Sometimes it’s by the hands of others, but mostly I fall in because I’m not paying attention to where I’m going. You know, just walking through life, minding my own business and all of a sudden something triggers an explosion in my brain. I’m serious. Something goes really bad wrong, and the fallout is treacherous. (If you know me very well, you’re probably not surprised to hear this.) I immediately start walking in self-pity (pity minus the ‘y’ is pit). Unhealthy thoughts begin reeling in my head giving my emotions the ‘go ahead’ to wreak havoc. And…it’s done. I’m there, deep in the pit. (Just a side note: Feelings are real and they need to be felt. I mean, I don’t know about the issues that cause you pain, but mine have caused me to hurt deeply. So there’s validity to why I sometimes fall into my pit. And while I’m there, it helps to NOT hear empty words coming from above me. Unless, of course, there’s a rope on its way down:)
We just cannot stay there. Even when it feels hopeless, we must remember that “feelings aren’t facts”. Jeremiah was a major prophet with an assignment from Almighty God. He had to believe that the pit wasn’t where he belonged. It wasn’t the end for him, just a temporary setback. At some point, 30 men or so, showed up with a make-shift rope (old garments from the king’s closet tied together), and Jeremiah got out of that pit!
And so it is for me and you. The ’pit’ is a place we all find ourselves, but it’s not where we belong. You may be in so deep that no one can see you. It may be that no one comes along with a rope to pull you out, or even say ‘non-comforting’ words. Just stop. Take a minute. Breathe. Try to recognize what caused that explosion in your brain and got you off track and in a dark, lonely pit. Take it captive in your mind and treat it like the pointless, trash it is. Then do this:
“Cast your burden on the Lord [releasing the weight of it] and He will sustain you; He will never allow the [consistently] righteous to be moved (made to slip, fall, or fail). Psalm 55:22 AMP
“Casting the whole of your care [anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares for you affectionately and cares about you watchfully.” I Peter 5:7 AMP
‘Shalak’ is the Hebrew word translated ‘cast’. It literally means to ‘hurl’ or fling’! So hurl that mess out of the pit and see what God will do! He will take the burden and He will get you out! (pithy clichés not included!)
I love to be motivated and challenged. Jesus, hands down, was the greatest motivator to ever walk the planet. He led by example. He spoke with authority. He stood for what He believed. He accomplished everything He was sent to do. Did you catch that? He accomplished EVERYTHING He was asked to do by His Father. Check out what Jesus prayed in John 17:4, "I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do." He accomplished His goal, completed His task, and fulfilled His purpose. And His desire is that we are motivated, inspired, and challenged to do the same!
Fear, regret, and doubt are major obstacles in our lives when we think about fulfilling our purpose. Jesus was able, as He allowed the Holy Spirit to lead Him, to never regret a decision or allow doubt and fear to control Him. He asked hard questions about His purpose (Matthew 26:38-39), and the Bible is very clear that He faced doubt and fear, but by the power of the Spirit He overcame it!
Jesus wrestled with hard decisions, felt strong emotions, and the Bible says that He faced everything we will face. "This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most."(Hebrews 4:15) Why did He do it? First and foremost to be obedient to His Father, and then to allow His life to motivate us to realize we can overcome too! Check this out...
In John 14:12 Jesus said, "I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father." I've quoted this verse many times, but to be honest, I really didn't take the time to get the deeper meaning until recently. The word "greater" in the original language doesn't mean better or more powerful, but it actually means "on a larger scale" or "more opportunities for 'great' things." It doesn't mean that we will do "greater things" than Jesus accomplished. What Jesus was actually telling us is that all He accomplished and was able to do because of His Father working through Him is now available and possible for us because of His presence in us. He wanted us to realize that what He did in 2-3 years, in one specific area, would become a continual, greater, work going on and on through us for generations to come all around the world.
This verse should be one of the greatest motivational statements we've ever read! When we face any situation or circumstance, that is unique and specific to us, we can call on His name, by faith, and miracles will begin to happen! Then His desire is that we would proclaim to everyone around us, as the Psalmist did in Psalm 124, "If the Lord had not been on our side..." we wouldn't have made it. We give Him all the glory as His power flows through us to accomplish His perfect will in our lives! (Romans 12:2)
I shudder to think about how many "greater works" have been lost in time because I allowed doubt and fear to consume me. So many opportunities wasted because I lived life feeling sorry for myself with my head hung in regret and shame. It's an ongoing battle, but the Words of Jesus Christ still ring true today and they should motivate us toward the next "great thing" He has for us.
It may need to start with simply, turning from our old life, choosing to believe, and by an act of faith receive His payment for all of our sins as well as the Way to an abundant and eternal life made available for us through Jesus. That was the greatest work of all on our behalf. After we are certain of that decision, then we can begin to experience the "greater works" that relationship opens up for us.
"Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think." Ephesians 3:20
"weDIGit" is a 501(c)(3) non-profit faith based company and is fully reliant upon the provision of the Lord, as well as monthly supporters led by the Spirit, to not only support their family & ministry, but also to provide support and encouragement to local organizations, ministries, and families who are in need. "weDIGit" desire a desire to partner with individuals, families, organizations, cities, and churches to share the healing and restoring message of Jesus Christ in a relevant and unique way.
How many times have you had some well-meaning soul tell you, "Hang on just a little longer, because better days are ahead!"? I always smile and respond appropriately, but what I want to say is "Really? Wow! I didn't know that. Thanks for sharing and everything, but would you mind taking your smile and 'words of encouragement' and jump off a bridge or something? Because it sure doesn't feel like anything 'better' can come out of this mess I'm in right now! I sure wish I had it all together like you do, but I don't!!" I'm glad people don't know what I'm actually thinking. If we are going to dig deeper, we have to acknowledge a couple of hard truths. God DOES know what we are thinking, and He DOES work all things out for the good of those who love him. (Romans 8:28) It's still not easy, is it?
In II Corinthians 5:6-7, Paul said something pretty amazing. He wrote, "So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by faith and not by sight."
I heard these verses in a message recently and the words that stuck out to me were "always confident." I've heard verse 7 "we walk by faith and not by sight" over and over again. I've even quoted it many times, but, if I'm honest, I have struggled to have confidence. Instead of "always confident" I find myself using other words to describe myself like, "always doubting", or "always afraid", or "always questioning", or "always confused".
When I read these verses in context with everything else that Paul wrote, I began to understand how Paul was able to be confident. In the verses preceding 6-7 Paul talks about the hope we can have in the future as a believer in Jesus. Check out II Corinthians 5:1-5. Paul describes a new home, a new body, and "better days ahead". In verses 4-5 he tells specifically how he was able to be confident in the midst of the struggle. Take a minute and DIG into this thought, "While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it's not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life. God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit."
You see, Paul groaned and sighed too, just like we all do, but his attitude and thoughts had been transformed (Romans 12:2). He recognized why he was groaning. He dug deeper to see the real desire of his soul. He understood that his dying body, filled naturally with doubt and fear, was in the process of being "swallowed up by LIFE" and transformed. God's presence IN HIM, the Holy Spirit, was guaranteeing him that things were getting better with each step he took BY FAITH toward the promise of a new day in the future! Do you see it?
It's ok to groan. It's ok to be sad. It's ok to acknowledge pain & struggle. We just have to recognize, as Paul did, that our groans and sighs come from a deep place in our souls too. A place that knows this isn't the way it was meant to be! As the Holy Spirit awakens us to that truth, as ONLY He can do, we can then begin to walk, stumble, and even crawl at times, BY FAITH, toward what is ahead with confidence that what Jesus said in John 16:33 is true. "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
Yep, Better Days Really Are Ahead! In fact, they are already here. As we choose to keep moving forward in faith and obedience, with Spirit filled Confidence, our Father will open doors that cannot be closed and close doors that cannot be opened (Isa. 22:22. Rev. 3:8) leading us into His perfect will & plans He has prepared in advance for us. (Eph. 2:10)
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When the Holy Spirit leads us to take a step of faith, we have to acknowledge these truths. We will battle obstacles, discouragement, and failure. The enemy will not give up that ground, along the way to God's will for our lives, without a fight. The Lord uses the journey to equip us for what He has called us to do. That's why Jesus said, "I have told you all this so that you may have peace IN me. Here on earth you will have many trials and troubles. But take hear, because I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)
The enemy will use anything and anyone to get us to turn back toward what is comfortable and familiar. A comment, phone call, financial crisis,criticism, negative people, past issues, past failures, etc..He will use whatever means necessary to cause us to give up on the "good things God planned for us long ago." (Eph. 2:10) The enemy is cunning and crafty, and he wants us to desire what is good over what God says is best. As w simply face normal daily challenges, that are a part of life, and the enemy will attempt to overwhelm & confuse us. He wants us to quit. He wants us to seek the acceptance of the ordinary over the rejection we may will feel on the road to the extraordinary. He wants us to quit. DON'T!
When we are as certain as we can be of God's call and direction, have tested and proved His call through prayer and God's Word, and have the agreement of our spouse\family and wise Godly counsel around us...We must KEEP GOING! Abraham did. Moses did. Noah did. Rahab did. Esther did. David did. Peter did. Paul did. Elisha did. Jesus did! Faith walkers you are in good company!
*Did God call you to stay home with your kids, but now things are tight and voices around you are telling you it isn't practical & to get a job? KEEP GOING!
*Did God call you to walk away from a great salary & benefits to begin moving toward what He designed you to do before time began? KEEP GOING!
*Did God call you to stay true to your marriage and fight to make it work in the midst of more obstacles and battles than you think you can endure? KEEP GOING!
*Did God call you out of an environment that was unhealthy and damaging to your life and family, but you continue to be drawn back to what is unhealthy? KEEP MOVING FORWARD!
*Did God lead you away from addiction & compulsions that were destroying your life & family, but today the addiction seems better than the struggle? DON'T GIVE UP! KEEP GOING!
You see, God allows us all to wrestle and work out His call daily, so that His strength can be made perfect in our weakness. While He is working to build our faith, the enemy is trying to influence us to give up on God's purpose. The Holy Spirit's wants to sanctify & form us into the image of Jesus as He leads us toward God's purpose & will for our lives. The enemy's plan is to keep us comfortable & pacified in what is familiar, so that we never become as effective as God intended for His glory. Look at what Paul told the people at Philippi and Corinth...
"Dear friends, you always followed my instructions when I was with you. And now that I am away, it is even more important. Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him." (Phil. 2:12-13)
"Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, 'My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.' So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."(II Corinthians 12:8-10)
Why am I writing this? Because I faced a situation today that was meant to distract and move me from God's purpose for my life. BUT Today, because of the power of the Spirit within me, I was able to stop, pray, hear God's voice, be reminded of His Word and promises, hear Godly counsel, and keep going. This post is the result. This is part of our call. Donna Little Carroll &: I have been called to awaken others as we are awakened to God's truth and purpose for our lives. We must KEEP GOING too!
There have been many days when I have faltered, swam in self pity, and felt sorry for myself. There have been many days that I wanted to quit too, give up, and "go back" to what was familiar. There have been many days when I have screamed toward the heavens, "Where are you?!?" But, what I am learning is that God really is faithful. He really does provide. He really does heal. He really does love me. He really is there.I have the faith within me, but God wants "faith to become sight." We are being prepared. As a friend told me recently, "Steven, you will speak for 20 minutes with authority about 20 years of experiences God has brought you through, and the result will be changed lives." You see, the journey is worth it. Our stories will be used to help others as they struggle too.
To close this, Let's pray a prayer together that a dear mentor & friend used to tell me to pray often years ago. It's a simple prayer. "Lord I'm willing." No matter what things look like...I'm wiling. No matter what others say...I'm willing. No matter how dark it may look...I'm willing. Take a minute and remember all the times you've seen Him be faithful. He will be faithful today. Remember what God said to us through His prophet Habakkuk....
"This vision is for a future time. It describes the end, and it will be fulfilled.
If it seems slow in coming, wait patiently, for it will surely take place.It will not be delayed." (Habakkuk 2:3)
KEEP GOING...Be blessed.
As the iconic band Journey sang...Don't Stop Believing!!
Failure happens. There is story after story about people who experienced failure and went on to do great things. David, Elijah, Noah, Joseph, & Peter are just few from the Bible, and then you have people like Abraham Lincoln, Michael Jordan, Albert Einstein. They experienced failure & were even told they would never amount to anything, but that didn't stop them. We could go on and on about person after person who experienced failure before they ever saw any success.
We can't allow failure to stop us from walking by faith as we seek to obey God's direction & purpose for our lives. I have failed so many times.I'm sad to say that some of my failure was because of very stupid choices that I made that ultimately lead to devastating consequences. I am so thankful for God's grace and the unconditional love extended to me by him, and those that I love most, to allow me to continue on in spite of my stupidity.
Many times I, as many of you, have experienced failure after stepping out to try something different that didn't work out the way I thought it would. Yet, I am learning more each day that when we are confident in what God has called us to do, we must persevere in spite of the failure because God is doing a work in us. He is developing us into His image through the failure. He is sanctifying & shaping us as we walk, by faith, toward the doors He desires for us to walk through. We will never know what is on the other side if we quit because of failure. Think of all the people that didn't quit. Do a search on the internet and read about the hundreds of people that failed but continued on to see the fulfillment of what they were created to do.
“The cure for the fear of failure is not success. It’s failure." Mark Batterson
Paul, led by the Holy Spirit, gave us these words in Romans 5, "We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." God not only wants us to make it, but He has given us His presence to insure that we will. All we have to do is listen and obey.
As we have all heard many times, "failure isn't final." Unless we allow it to be. I'll be honest, getting back up and continuing to walk forward after experiencing failure, or when things don't happen as fast as you envisioned, is humbling & hard to do. It can feel pretty embarrassing. Especially when the negative people around us begin to pounce on us while we are down. The "I told you so's" & the "well I guess it wasn't God's will" statements come quickly & repeatedly from all the people in the stands & on the sidelines of our lives. We can't listen to them!!! If God has placed a dream in our Spirit & Soul we have to keep going, and LEAP out into the darkness of the unknown. As we obey and walk by faith, God will always prove faithful. The doors will open, and we will land on the solid ground.
weDIGit ministry is being shaped by the Holy Spirit daily as our family seeks God's direction. We many times have no idea what God wants it to look like exactly, but we are ok with that. We are learning that It can't be shaped by others views or thoughts. It has to be a God sized vision that requires a faith that knows without HIS help it will never happen. Remember "without faith it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God, but He rewards those who earnestly and diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)
Somebody out there is about to quit! DON'T! Somebody out there is about to forfeit the dream for security...DON'T! Somebody out there is about to yield to the negative people because what you believed would happen hasn't happened yet. DON'T! IF God has called you to it, He will do it. HOLD ON!!! How many times have people been so close to the fulfillment of the dream, but quit because of failure? What if the failure & criticism you are experiencing now is the prelude the seeing the dream fulfilled.
Be encouraged today!!! Donna and I know how you feel. Turn up that classic Journey song right now and sing the chorus as loud as you can and Don't Stop Believing!!
I love the movie Mr. Holland’s Opus (an “opus” is a musical composition). Richard Dreyfus plays a professional, musician who puts his dreams of performing and composing aside to teach music in a public school, so he can be at home with his young family. He ends up teaching for 30 years in the public school system and touches hundreds of lives. Over the course of the 30 years he continues working on his music; his dream. He writes and composes whenever he has time, and continues to build upon his “masterpiece.” At the end of the movie, the school system decides to cut the music program, so he has to retire. His family, the faculty, students, and former students put together an assembly for him in the auditorium to celebrate his many years of service. His current and former students also surprise him by coming together to perform a section of his “masterpiece” on the instruments they learned to play in his music classes. He directs them as they play; Thus “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” I cry every time I watch it. It reminds me of my dad.
Today is my dad’s Birthday. He was born April 15, 1946. He has been a part of writing a opus of his own. He has composed, as we all do, a real life series of works. Each section of his opus tells a different story, with a different rhythm, and a unique sound to that part of the masterpiece. Even though he wasn’t a music teacher, he has written and lived out a beautiful work of his own in Springhill, Louisiana. He taught at the local high school, pastored at several different churches, and invested his entire adult life serving people. There are thousands and thousands of people who have been a part of this series of works. It’s God’s work, in and through him. One life after another impacted by this masterpiece…Phillip Carroll’s Opus. Let me share a little bit of my section, which I’m thankful to say is still being written.
My section of my dad’s opus includes every emotion and tone one could ever experience. It is filled with amazing crescendos of joy, happiness, and laughter, as well as decrescendos, moments of dissonance, and even long periods of silence. As you find in most of the great works, there are moments where joy encounters pain and laughter turns to tears. So does my story with my dad. I’m so grateful that at some point in the piece the tone changed. My dad kept writing. He kept pursuing. Thankfully my part doesn’t end on the dissonant notes. The minor chords are continuing to be resolved, and now the dominate tone has changed as this piece begins to crescendo and is filled with faith, hope, and love.
I could write page after page about the many stanzas in my part of this opus. I could write about how much I loved to ride and go anywhere with my dad. I could write about how he was constantly on the move working, going, or doing something all the time. (For those that know me well, I get my ADHD from him. It’s generational.) I could write about the many hours I spent in the halls of Springhill High School as a little boy after school where he taught English, Bible (Yes they used to teach Bible in the public schools), Gothic Literature, and led the Student Council for many years. I could write about sitting and listening as he shared hundreds of stories from his childhood & adult life, and how I dreamed of the day I would have my own repertoire of stories to share with my kids and others along the way. I could write about the many moments playing catch, riding to a practice or a ballgame, and how great it felt to hear my dad say “I love you, and I’m so proud of you buddy.” I still love to hear that part of the song today, and I’m so thankful to have a Dad who is still willing to say it.
I could also write page after page about the countless hours my dad spent counseling kids about their futures, pastoring churches, leading youth groups, performing marriage ceremonies and funerals, visiting homes and hospital rooms, going on mission trips, attending camp after camp, and the many prayers of faith he has offered up over the lives of so many people. There are so many sections of his opus, and each one tells a different story from a life impacted by my dad.
I am 45 years old today, and every time I’m around my dad I still feel that childlike part of me deep in my soul. Every person on the planet has a need in their life that only a Dad can meet. That’s why God gave us Dads. They are to be an example to us, as we gow up, of how we ultimately need Him more than anyone. I am learning that truth now more than ever as a husband and father. I am flawed and prone to failure. As much as I desire to fulfill and meet every need my wife and children have, I cannot do or meet any need in anyone’s life without Him. On my own I will quickly cause pain, disappointment, and hurt in the lives of my wife, children, and others around me. My opus, just like my Dad’s, can never be written, and become all it was meant to be, unless every part is centered on the grace, redemption, forgiveness, and love that only our Heavenly Father can provide for us through His Son Jesus Christ. I learned that from my dad’s opus too.
I must confess that I dreamed to fill the auditorium at Springhill High School for my dad when he retired. In fact, we were beginning to make plans, but it was not meant to be. Circumstances didn’t allow us to celebrate as we wanted. Now the auditorium and high school have been torn down, and replaced with something new. But just like in the movie “Mr. Hollands Opus,” you can’t destroy a memory. You can’t get rid of a song either. Once it’s put down on paper and put to music it will always remain. That’s the great thing about any masterpiece that is written and centered on a life filled with Christ; it’s an opus that will be sung for all eternity with everyone who believes. We will glorify our Father forever as we sit and reflect on our part in the many masterpieces we are blessed to be a part of in this life.
Dad, on your Birthday, I want you to know how thankful I am to be a part of yours. And there are countless others who feel the same way. I love you!
There is something new in Forney, Texas that I love. In fact, it’s one of the most inspiring things I’ve seen in a long time. It actually challenges, encourages, and compels me to continue to move forward with the vision God has placed in our lives as a family. Every time I pass it, I smile and feel so proud to know it’s in my hometown. I find myself thankful to know people personally that would have the audacity to do something so visionary& misunderstood right where I live. What is it? It’s a BIG Bridge.
Yes, a bridge, and I LOVE it! It stands literally in the middle of nowhere. It’s huge. It has so much character as it stands there nearly complete. You feel its sense of dominance as it towers over Hwy 80, and when you stand on top of it you realize it’s big as a 5 lane highway. You can stand on one side and literally not see the other side. When I stood on it this morning, I appreciated it even more. It’s an awesome bridge!
You might be thinking, “Steven it’s just a bridge. There are other bridges out there. Many of them much larger." You are right, but they aren’t like my bridge. When most people pass under it they shake their head and don’t get it. That’s why it has been labeled the “Bridge to No Where.” Many are right in their description to some degree. It is a bridge, and right now it doesn’t lead you anywhere, but what they don’t get is that one day it will. That is why I love this bridge! It represents vision! It sees what others can’t see. It looks toward the future. It doesn’t allow the fact that the roads coming off of it lead to “nowhere” today because it knows someday they will! That kind of vision makes me want to shout!
I was there the day the dirt was turned over to begin the project many months ago. I had been asked to offer up the prayer of dedication and blessing over the project as it began. As I look back on that moment, I am so honored to have been asked to pray that prayer. I will never forget it. It was a prayer of vision, over a project of vision, and it was offered up by someone that was walking out a vision of his own. I guess that is where my love for the bridge began. Not just because I was asked to say the prayer, but because I was able to see the beginning of such an amazing LEAP of Faith. It reminded me of the movie “Field of Dreams,” and the statement “If you build it, they will come.” It also reminded me of what God has called Donna and me to do. For those reasons, I didn’t feel so alone or isolated that day. That bridge didn’t know where it would eventually lead to, but it was being built anyway. We didn’t know or couldn’t describe (still can’t exactly) where we were going, but it wasn’t going to stop us from doing what God asked us to do either.
The morning I prayed, I stood among dignitaries, shook the hand of a billionaire, and enjoyed a table filled with free (I like free) donuts, fruit, and snacks. I shook hands with folks, watched as publicity pictures were made, and soaked up the moment, but later that day I went back out to where the dedication took place. The tent was gone, the people had left, and all that remained was the dream & the construction workers working to make it a reality. I breathed in the warm Texas air as the wind blew across my face and smiled. No fanfare remained no politics, no opinions, just a vision. It felt good to stand there.
Over the many months that have passed this friend of mine (I consider the bridge and I now friends) has been misunderstood, used in negative campaign ads as a reason to not re-elect people that began to build it, and has found itself in the middle of controversy over and over again. All the while it just kept being built. It wasn’t deterred by the comments. It didn’t have to justify itself. It knows that people will eventually know why it’s there. It knows people will someday benefit from the fact that it is the only way emergency vehicles can cross the railroad tracks in the event of tragedy while the tracks are blocked. It knows that it will eventually relieve the flow of traffic in downtown Forney and provide convenience to thousands of people. It knows it offers hope for a bright future for our city and community. It doesn’t have to know exactly what shops, stores, or opportunities will eventually be in the huge fields on either side of its roads. It knows that one day those same people that complained, questioned, and condemned it will drive on its roads and benefit all the same.
This reminds me of a passage that people quote all the time. It’s in Jeremiah 29:11, and it says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
People quote that verse all the time, but do you know the context of the verse? Do you know who it was spoken to? Do you know where they were? Do you know what they were experiencing? It was written by the prophet Jeremiah. He was writing this letter to the Jewish people who had been taken captive by King Nebuchadnezzar and transported back to Babylon, modern day Baghdad, Iraq, which was a long way from home. He was declaring to them a vision in the midst of bondage. He was telling them the promises God had made to them. Jeremiah was called the “weeping prophet” because the people wouldn’t listen to him. He was called by God to warn the people that if they didn’t repent that this bondage would happen. As frustrating and hard as it was, he still spoke! Then Jeremiah spoke again. He declared that even though their disobedience had caused them bondage that God still had a plan a. There was a “bridge.”
It didn’t make sense. It didn’t look like it was where it should be. It looked pointless, out of place, and like it was in the middle of nowhere, but there were people of vision that believed. They believed in the “bridge,” the vision God had declared to them. People like Daniel and the three Hebrew Children Hananiah, Mishael, & Azariah. Men and women like Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, and others that believed God had a plan; A Vision; A Bridge! While others questioned, complained, and criticized, these men and women believed the vision God declared through Jeremiah. Then they acted on their faith. They had Faith that gave them favor in the palace of kings. They had Faith that would cause the mouths of lions to be shut. They had Faith that protected them in the midst of a fiery furnace. They had Faith that gave them courage to speak and stand in the presence of kings in spite of the consequences. They had Faith that believed a huge wall could be rebuilt, and the temple could be restored, and that what God said was true. They believed that there were greater plans. They believed in hope & the future. They believed in a “bridge.”
I want to believe like that! I want to build where God says build. Do what God says do. Go where God says go. Even if it looks out of place, doesn’t make sense, goes against the traditional model, and I can’t explain it completely even when I try. I don’t have to! I just have to build. I just have to follow. I just have to obey. I just have to believe that God has a plan, and that he has made a bridge…a Way!
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Maybe you’re thinking, “Steven what do you guys know about this “bridge building” business.” I'd like to share with you our dream, our mission, our declarations…our “bridge.” You can read more about it under the “About Us” section of our website, but I want to copy a portion of that page below. This is our bridge in the middle of nowhere. No, it hasn’t been fulfilled yet. No, it isn’t fully funded or functioning. No, we can’t tell you how we make it through the month most times, but we know God will provide, open doors, and meet our needs. We believe He has a plan. We know it’s our bridge and we are standing on it together. I pray and hope you find yours.
• weDIGit doesn't have set fees. They believe God will always meet their needs, and never want to price themselves out of an event or opportunity. weDIGit is simply called to GO & share the Gospel. That is how Jesus operated on this earth.
• weDIGit goes immediately as the Spirit leads. They are ready and able to go at a moment’s notice where God leads to minister and bring hope. Much like scripture says in John 4:4 that Jesus “had to go through Samaria." Steven and Donna believe God desires for them to move as Jesus moved on this earth to wherever He calls them to go and do whatever He has called them to do.
• weDIGit has been commissioned to give and help those in need. To BE the church and minister to the needs of those that God brings into their lives. weDIGit is a vehicle to give, serve, and bless as God allows, and then teach others to do the same.
• weDIGit blesses those in ministry. After 22 years in full-time ministry, Steven and Donna believe that God wants to use them to bless families in ministry that are serving. They know what it is like to struggle and serve, and want to be in a stronger position to help these families throughout the year with encouragement and resources.
• weDIGit teaches people to BE the church at home first. Steven and Donna truly believe, and live out in their own family, the house church model. It is their desire to teach and encourage husbands\fathers, in agreement with their wives, to shepherd and care for their families and neighbors as outlined in the book of Acts. BE THE CHURCH.
• weDIGit serves and ministers within the culture. From the formation of weDIGit the call upon Steven and Donna's life was to go! Go to where people are living, working, and serving through events and opportunities as a couple. A husband and wife team working together to move into the marketplace and society by serving, consulting, and encouraging as God opens the doors.
Our daughter, Megan, started getting serious about tumbling about 2 years ago. She has always loved to do cartwheels and tumble around the living room, but she wanted to start learning how to do a back hand spring for cheer leading. She worked hard her 5th grade year, and even though she had the ability, she couldn’t quite overcome her fear to do the handspring.
This past fall she started going to a gym here in town. Her goal was to get her back handspring down for cheer tryouts in the spring. She continued to work hard every week and began to overcome her fears. She chose to start going twice a week this winter to reach her goal. Every afternoon she would get on the trampoline in the backyard, and kept improving until she had it down pretty good. My wife and I were so proud of her.
The week for Jr. High Cheerleader tryouts finally arrived. Megan and the rest of the girls were given the instructions for the tryouts. They were told what cheer they needed to memorize, what they needed to work on, and what they needed to wear. Megan worked, and worked, and worked, and practiced, and practiced, and practiced. She had practice every afternoon at the school, her two nights of tumbling, and she even attended an additional work out with one of the High School Cheerleaders the night before the tryouts. She was ready!
She came home that Friday afternoon to get ready for tryouts. Donna helped fix her hair and put a cute bow in it, and she looked so pretty! It was surreal to watch them work together, and I couldn’t help but think about how she is growing up so fast! I drove her to the tryouts and dropped her off. We couldn’t be there at all, so she was on her own. My stomach was honestly in knots for her, but she bee bopped right up in the middle of it. She was ready.
I came back and picked her up after tryouts were finished, and she was so excited. She felt it went very well, and several folks even told her she sounded great from the next room. She had gotten compliments all week at practice. She was feeling great and she said, “Daddy, I did all I could do.” She was right. She put in the hours and hours of work, and had done all she could do. We headed home to pack because we were going out of town the next day for spring break. Not long after we arrived home she fell asleep on the couch. She was exhausted.
A few hours later we got the text that the results were up. Each girl had been given a tryout number, and they were going to post the girl's numbers that were selected. Megan was still sleeping when we found out, so we looked before she did. Her number wasn’t there. We looked again. Nope still wasn’t there. My heart sank. I knew what was coming. We looked on social media and started seeing some of the girls that did make it, and I wasn’t happy. In fact, I was angry. How was this even possible? I found myself thinking some thoughts that I’m ashamed I even thought. This wasn’t right at all. This wasn’t FAIR! She had worked hard. She was prepared. There was no way that those girls were better than Megan!
Donna told Megan and you can imagine her response. She was devastated. She saw who did make it and who didn’t, and she was upset all over again. We tried to console her. She still hurt. We tried to encourage her. She still hurt. We tried to make it better. She still hurt. The rest of the family tried to make sense out of it. She still hurt. Let’s just say it was a hard night.
Me? What was I thinking? I wanted justice! I sent an email! I sent text messages! I wanted to FIX it! But you know what? There was absolutely nothing I could do to change the outcome. It was done. Whether we agreed or not with what happened didn’t matter. Whether it was fair or not didn’t matter. There wasn’t a redo or a recount. It had been decided, and now all that mattered was how we responded. I wasn’t off to a great start in that area.
Things began to settle down, and I began to watch my daughter grow. I began to hear her words change from hopeless to hopeful. I listened as Donna spoke into her life words of life and encouragement, as only a Godly mom can do. I listened as Megan received her words. Then there was a knock at the door. The mother of one of Megan’s very close friends, that did make it, came inside with a bundle of colorful and bright flowers. The mom said that her daughter called from a car as she was traveling to New Mexico for spring break. The mom told Megan how her friend was weeping because Megan didn’t make it. She asked her mom to please go get Megan some bright flowers and give them to her as soon as possible because she knew Megan was hurting. She wanted to encourage Megan and give her something that resembled what she desired for her as well as something that expressed the kind of friend and person Megan was to her. Bright flowers were perfect.
As I write this, I find myself weeping. In the midst of such pain and true heartache, I was blessed to learn so much by watching a mom’s deep love for her daughter, my daughter’s dependence on what God thinks of her above the opinion of any cheer judge, and a friend’s love shine more brightly than the disappointment of that moment. It was powerful.
As the days have passed by, I have watched Megan become more determined. She has kept going to tumbling, didn’t quit, and is getting better and better each week. She is now doing multiple back handsprings and even learning a full back flip. She’s flipping over and over on the trampoline every day, and I see in her a determination that makes me so honored to be her dad. She did all she could do, and now she’s learning to “Stand.”
I love the way Eugene Peterson translated Ephesians 6:13-17 in the message. It says, “Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon.”
Megan did that! She applied God’s Word to the situation and has stayed on her feet. It didn’t knock her down. She isn’t blaming anyone. (I wanted to) She isn’t focused on who made it and wonder why they made it over her (although I have to admit I did). She is allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through her, applying God’s Word to her life, and the fruit is showing up all around her. She rejoiced with those that made it, continues to work hard for next year if she chooses to try out again, and our family gets to be blessed by the fruit flowing over in her life.
I love my family. I love my wife. I love my kids. But you know what? I’m learning how I respond in the midst of my kid’s disappointment & heartache is incredibly important. We can’t save our children or those that we love from pain and disappointment. It’s part of life. But what we can do is teach them to “stand” in the midst of it. They may falter. They may even fall, but when we walk with them through the struggle and point them to the one that is their savior, they can live a life like Ephesians describes, “when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life. God’s Word is an indispensable weapon”
God does the saving! As a father, it’s my job to point Megan, and all of my children to Him. My job is to bear fruit and love her like God does, not change her circumstances to make her feel better. My time can be used so much more effectively by holding her in my lap and rocking her in the rocking chair after school so that she knows she’s loved. When she hollers, “Come watch me Daddy,” as she does new flips on the trampoline, I can go to the door and watch her over and over again. I can take the time to build a fire in the back yard and roast marshmallows and make S’mores under a star filled sky with her friends. I can pick her up from school, and go get a snow cone even when I’d rather go do something else. I can pray with her, kiss her on the forehead, and tell her that I love her every morning before she heads in for her last few months of 6th grade. Then get to hear the words, “I love you too Daddy,” as she shuts the car door.
As a father, there is no greater joy than to get to be a part of my little girl’s life, and the lives of my other children, and experience the Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control that flow from their lives as they learn to walk in the Spirit’s strength and not their own.
That’s our job as parents. I’m learning…I pray you are too.
I want to close by sharing a great blog that my wife Donna found the week after Megan didn’t make Cheerleader. It’s by a pastor from Fort Smith, Arkansas. Donna and Kevin went to church together years ago, and it is an awesome read. I encourage you to check it out because it gives some very practical insights on parenting when “Dreams Don’t Come True.” Here’s the link..http://www.kevinathompson.com/dreams-dont-come-true/
Steven & Donna Carroll are 26 year veterans of student ministry, people development, and conference production & speaking. They are called to awaken others to the truth as they are awakened themselves by the Holy Spirit!