September 21, 2018

A New Starting Line

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here by Thy great help I've come.

We came. 

We came with our car stacked deep, our six month-old strapped in his car seat, our two year-old freshly potty-trained, and our five year-old already registered for kindergarten in the school near our new neighborhood.

We unloaded over the next few days, and after the last box was unpacked, I sat on our bed, feeling a mixture of homesickness and uncertainty, and wondered what we were supposed to do next. We came to start a church, at the clarion beckoning of God no less, and just how does one do that exactly? We'd read the books, we'd raised the money, we'd cast the vision, but no amount of planning can prepare you for the moment you're sitting on your bed in a new city wondering what to do first.

We went.

That's what we did first and second and for many days after that. We went to meet our neighbors, who looked at us like we were aliens when we explained why we'd come. We went to community gatherings and neighborhood meetings and school functions and anywhere the door was open. We talked to everyone who even glanced our way, whether at the park or the Chick-fil-a playground or the kids' schools. We knocked on doors, and we asked if we could serve.

We asked them to come.

We invited the people we were meeting to our home for Bible study. Few came. But to those who did, we said we were starting a church, and when we envisioned out loud what it could become, it seemed almost laughable to say those things, as if we were children playing pretend. But we kept meeting, we kept forming relationships in the community, and we kept saying those things that sounded laughable even to us: we're growing a church here. 

We went under. 

Prior to coming, church planting appeared fairly glamorous in my head. I knew it would be difficult, sure, but I didn't think the difficultly would last long. The reality of the work, however, toppled me much like a wave takes down an unsuspecting beach stroller.

We cried, doubted the call in the first place, looked for a way out, despaired. We learned quickly that there are no guarantees except God's presence, and that no amount of human effort can change a soul. We learned we were not capable in and of ourselves to do what God had asked of us, and for some reason this felt to me like complete failure.

We were raised new.

We had nothing left. All that we'd relied on before--crutches of self-sufficiency, structure, and security--were rendered powerless. And that's precisely when we realized church planting hadn't been merely God's call for us to go but also God's call for us to grow. Faith had been a concept; now faith meant getting out of bed in the morning, continuing.

We found God to be solid in the uncertainty, the insecurity, in the daily doubts. We found he is a God who not only calls but helps, meets, provides, empowers, transforms, and gardens. We found partnership in those who'd come with us and those who linked their arms with ours as we continued forward together. It felt as if we'd been born again, awakened to a new understanding of God and what he can do in and through those who trust him.

We've come this far.

Today marks 10 years since we first opened our front door, sat around our living room, and invited others to play pretend with us for a moment. Ten years later, the vision has become a reality. Our church isn't perfect by any means, but we love it, and God is with us and forming us.

I've looked around on Sunday mornings recently at these people that I love and it feels like a dream, like someone else ushered this from start to today. And it's true, Someone did. We did not do this. I cannot emphasize this enough. We very much just came along for the ride. God asked us to get out of bed each morning, and we kept saying yes.

Today marks a finish line of sorts. We're certainly not done here, but today we stop running for a moment to celebrate and to remember God's faithfulness. We raise our Ebenezer and remember that by his great help we've come. Friends, turn and see with me how good our God is!

I look back and remember how we got here, because we're at a new starting line: another 10 years stretches before us. The tears haven't stopped. The doubting hasn't completely faded. The heartache and the homesickness haven't eased. The work hasn't gotten any easier, and I still fight the temptation to forget God so I might rely on myself.

But I now know my God. I know he is real and faithful, and I've learned this primarily through the difficulty of church planting. So I won't stop. God still asks me to say yes everyday, to keep coming to this place where I've lived for 10 years and to keep going as well, and we will.

Because God goes before us.

September 19, 2018

Amber Williams on Practical Ways to Invite Deeper Friendship

Each week this season on By Faith, I’m talking with a guest about the ins and outs of friendship. As I wrote about in my book Messy Beautiful Friendship, friendship isn’t easy for anyone; it takes time, intentionality, and lots of grace. And sometimes we have to navigate complexities and hurts in friendship that leave us uncertain and crushed. I’m right there with you, and my guests are here to help us think through it all.

I hope you’ve been enjoying these conversations so far. Kelly Needham, I think, did an excellent job of laying a solid biblical foundation for our friendship discussion this season, and then last week, Emily and Laura from Risen Motherhood talked about making friends in the busyness of life.

Today we’re going to continue the conversation on how we can practically cultivate friendships in our lives. What tools do we all have at our disposal to invite friendship and invite a deeper knowing of one another? To help us do that, I’ve invited Amber Williams to join me on the show. Amber is married to Jamaal, who is pastor of Sojourn Midtown in Lousville, Kentucky. I recently met Amber and knew immediately I wanted to have her on the show, and you’ll find out exactly why as you listen.

After you listen to today’s episode, join me on my Instagram Stories, where I’ll be answering any questions that stem from my chat with Amber. 

Listen to the episode on iTunes or, if you're on my website, in the embedded player below.

LINKS FROM THE SHOW

Sojourn Midtown // Amber's Fettuccine Alfredo recipe

Connect with Christine
Blog // Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Books 

Order Your Copy of Messy Beautiful Friendship

Learn how you can support Christine's work

Subscribe to the "By Faith" Podcast

September 12, 2018

Emily Jensen & Laura Wifler on Friendship for Moms

Each week this season on By Faith I’m talking with a guest about the ins and outs of friendship. As I wrote about in my book Messy Beautiful Friendship, friendship isn’t easy for anyone; it takes time, intentionality, and lots of grace. And sometimes we have to navigate complexities and hurts in friendship that leave us uncertain and crushed. I’m right there with you, and my guests are here to help us think through it all.

Today my guests are Laura Wifler and Emily Jensen, co-founders of Risen Motherhood. Risen Motherhood is helping moms live and parent in light of the resurrection of Jesus through their podcast, articles, and more. I asked Laura and Emily to join me in order to tackle friendship for moms, but what they share is so practical and helpful that it can really apply to anyone. They talk about how to make new friends, and how to make friendship a priority in an already busy life. They also address heart issues that hinder our friendships, like comparison and making assumptions about other women.
I know you’re going to really love this conversation, and you might also have some questions that come up after listening. Each Wednesday on my Instagram stories I’ll answer any questions that stem from that week’s episode, so join me there (and bring your questions).
               
Listen to my conversation with Laura and Emily on iTunes or, if you're on my website, in the embedded player below:

LINKS FROM THE SHOW

Risen Motherhood
Website // Podcast // Instagram // Articles

Voxer App

Connect with Laura & Emily
Laura's Instagram // Emily's Instagram

Connect with Christine
Blog // Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Books 

Order Your Copy of Messy Beautiful Friendship

Learn how you can support Christine's work

Subscribe to the "By Faith" Podcast

September 5, 2018

Kelly Needham on Healthy (and Unhealthy) Friendship

Each week this season on By Faith I’m talking with a guest about the ins and outs of friendship. As I write about in my book Messy Beautiful Friendship, friendship isn’t easy for anyone; it takes time, intentionality, and lots of grace. And sometimes we have to navigate complexities and hurts in friendship that leave us uncertain and crushed. I’m right there with you, and my guests are here to help us think through it all.

Today my guest is Kelly Needham. Kelly is married to Jimmy, who is a recording artist and worship pastor. Kelly is also a mom and a writer and is in fact currently working on a book about friendship, which you’ll hear her talk about in our conversation. Because of her research, Kelly has thought long and hard about how we define friendship and our how definition often mirrors the world’s, which inevitably hurts and hinders us without us even realizing it. So she’s going to help us get to a healthier and more biblical understanding of friendship, and it’s a great foundation for all the conversations I’ll have as we go this season.
If you resonate with Kelly’s depiction of some unhealthy perspectives on friendship, I encourage you to read some of the articles she’s written that we briefly touched on in our conversation. I’ve linked to those in the show notes below, as well as to my own book, Messy Beautiful Friendship. My hope is that these conversations combined with a more indepth look at friendship in the book will help you as you think about the relationships in your life.

This season I’m going to jump on Instagram every Wednesday to answer any questions that you have about the latest episode. Come find me on Instagram stories and ask your question about my conversation with Kelly!

Listen to the episode on iTunes or, if you're on my website, in the embedded player below.
LINKS FROM THE SHOW

Kelly's Desiring God Articles
True Friends Are Hard to Find // A New Kind of Couple: When Best Friends Become Romantic // More Than BFFs: When Friendship Goes too Far

Connect with Kelly
Website // Facebook // Instagram // Twitter 

Connect with Christine
Blog // Facebook // Instagram // Twitter // Books 

Order Your Copy of Messy Beautiful Friendship

Learn how you can support Christine's work

Subscribe to the "By Faith" Podcast

September 3, 2018

Let's Talk About Friendship

I wanted to pop into your inbox today and let you know that a brand new season of By Faith will start tomorrow. This season I’ll be talking with some phenomonal guests about the topic of friendship. I’m so excited to share these conversations with you, because I think they’re going to be really practical and beneficial for you in your everyday life.

Last year, as you may know, I released a book on biblical friendship called Messy Beautiful Friendship: Finding and Nurturing Deep and Lasting Relationships. Almost as soon as I sat down to map out the book and begin writing it, I realized just how complex friendship can be and how difficult it'd be for me to cover its every aspect. I tackled as much as I could, everything from the insecurities and assumptions we make that hinder friendship, to specific ways we can cultivate and deepen friendships, and even to how we can receive friendship well. However, after talking with alot of women who have read Messy Beautiful Friendship, I've come to think that our biggest struggle in this area is that we just don’t talk about it enough. We don’t know how to think about friendship in a biblical way.
So my goal this season is to change that. I’m having some honest conversations about friendship, and my hope is that you’ll listen with your friends and have some honest conversations about friendship with the people in your life.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Well, I don’t really have people in my life. I need to know how to make friends!” Then you’re in the right place. In episodes this fall, we’ll talk about what biblical friendship is, how to make friends, how to have good conversations, how to be vulnerable with others, and how friendship may look different in various stages of life. We’re also going to talk about hurts in friendship, whether or not Christian friendships should sometimes come to an end, how to be a friend to those who are hurting, and how to befriend those who don’t know Jesus. I’ll be joined by the Risen Motherhood gals, Jani Ortlund, Ruth Jo Simons, Hannah Anderson, Kristie Anyabwile, Jen Wilkin, and more incredible people. 

I don’t want you to miss a single episode, so here’s my invitation to you:

1) Subscribe to the podcast on iTunesStitcherGoogle Play, or Spotify.

2) Invite a friend or two to join you in our deep dive into the subject of friendship! Simply forward them this post or share the podcast with them by text.

3) And finally, I’d love for you to grab a copy of Messy Beautiful Friendship. Most of what I’d want you to know about friendship is in that book. This season on By Faith, however, I’m filling in some gaps from the book that I think are best fleshed out in conversation. So if you really want to grow in being a friend and cultivating friendship, grab the book and read it with some other women as we go along in the podcast this fall. You can even use this discussion guide for book club gatherings!
Friends, I’m so excited about this season. Come find me on Instagram and let me know you’re excited as well. (I'm doing a giveaway of Messy Beautiful Friendship there, so definitely swing by!!) I’ll meet you back here tomorrow, along with my first guest, Kelly Needham. Kelly’s going to help us define friendship and help us see how our instinctive understanding of friendship can often be unhealthy and unbiblical.