Friday, July 29, 2011

For 17 years: the balloon...installment three

Not long after we met, I invited Lee to visit my church. He'd expressed some frustrations about where he was attending and since we had similar hearts in so many areas, I thought he'd like my church.

He did. In fact, on that first visit, the worship leader who was leading the following week needed a keyboard player and invited Lee to play. So his second visit had him playing keyboard on the worship team where, incidentally, he stayed for several years.

Before our break up, we had both signed up to attend a conference in late January out in Anaheim, CA with a group from our church. The conference fell just days after we "broke up."

This was both hard and good. Looking back, it was all good. God was working and moving in our hearts to unify them even more. And I felt a shift happening in Lee's heart, but I still didn't know if/when God was going to turn things around. The shared experience fortified our friendship even more, but, seriously, I was hoping for a husband. Not just another male friend.

Of course, God knew all that, and He gave me a tremendous amount of grace to just rest and trust. I remember clearly that season as being one of the most peaceful of my life. It felt like I was in a bubble which kept me buffered and yet allowed me to stay focused on the Lord.

The Sunday after we returned from Anaheim, several of us who had been on the trip served on the worship team. After the service, our associate pastor had a prophetic word for me out of 1 Peter 3 and called out the work the Lord revealed He was working in me.

Lee later told me that was the moment that clinched it for him. Unbeknownst to me, he said to himself: "I better not let this girl get away."

So, he set his sights to win me back. Not that he had to work very hard.

I was confused, though. We hadn't had a DTR in a while, not since our breakup, so I was unsure of what this pursuit really meant. I knew what I wanted: a husband. I wasn't sure that he was ready to commit to that. So, I kept my heart guarded.

The weekend of Valentine's Day, Lee volunteered at a Disciple Now at the church he grew up at as a kid. He kind of hinted around that he'd like me to attend the closing event with him, but I had already made plans and agreed to meet him at the house afterwards.

It was Valentine's Day and when I walked into the house, Lee handed me a card and a balloon. The balloon said "BE MINE." I did a double-take...was this really a message to me or had Lee blindly selected a Valentine balloon without paying any heed to what it said.

I tended to believe the latter. I just didn't want to get my hopes up.

Then I opened up the card and was equally confused by the message there, stating friendship and yet hinting at something more.

The confusion must have shown on my face because Lee put his arm around me and said something along the lines of: "I don't know where this is all headed or what this is going to look like, but I do know that I like us together and want to see where this all leads."


Well, not quite, but almost. I cautiously agreed to step back into a more-than-friendship relationship with him. And confidence grew each day as our strong friendship blossomed into a growing love and admiration for each other.

But could it really be true love?

Next: "April Fools"

[installment one] [installment two] [installment three]

Thursday, July 28, 2011

For 17 years: the break up...installment two

The more I got to know Lee, the more I was sure he was the one.

I fell in love with him, not for his good looks, although he is incredibly handsome. Not for his amazing musical talent, even though a girl could fall head over heels for that reason alone, such is his talent. Not for his athletic skill and ability, except for that one time in ping pong...

While all these and more attracted me to him, what kept me "stuck" on him was his deep, abiding relationship with Jesus. Ask anyone who knew Lee in that season and they would tell you that there were not many like him, with such an uncompromising passion for the Lord.

And I knew he was to be mine. I will even go so far as to say that God told me.

[Another funny story would be to tell you that I actually told him that not long after we started dating. His then roommate would tell you that it just about sent Lee into a panic and running in the opposite direction.]

When I mentioned to Lee that I was finally writing out our story here, he reminded me that our first "official" date happened on a weekend that he went out with 3 girls - each on a different night...rare for him since he had technically sworn off any romantic involvement. I was the final one on his "dating spree" and we spent an evening out at Joe Poole Lake where we watched the sunset.


He received no end of grief from some of his closest friends who were aware of his commitment to no relationships and absolutely no PDA, especially kissing. When one of his friends heard about our date, she blurted out, "Well, did you kiss her?!?"

For the record, I was the only girl he dated from then on. And no, we didn't kiss on that first date.

This date was followed by many more which almost always included a DTR (determining the relationship). So...what were we? How serious was this? Were we keeping healthy emotional and physical boundaries?

Maybe because I shared my heart too much or maybe because Lee's heart had to wrestle through some stuff first, after a couple months of dating, we decided to go back to being just friends. Actually, Lee said, "You'll make a good wife for someone someday." To which I replied, "I'll wait until God tells me I'm not for you."

And wait I did. And hang out we still did. A lot. Ping pong, racquetball, prayer meetings and Bible continued "as usual" just without the dating element.

But it just about killed me.

Every time we met to pray, I would grow more and more convinced that this was the man I wanted to marry. I finally told the Lord: "Give him back to me or get him out of my life."

We already know the answer to that prayer. I have a ring and pictures and six kids as proof that the Lord gave him back to me. But how did it happen?

You'll have to come back again for installment three: "the balloon"

[installment one] [installment two] [installment three]

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

For 17 years...installment one

This August, my dear husband and I will have been married for 17 years. We don't feel old (most days) but somehow seeing how much life we've lived together makes us think: "Man, we're getting old!"

My friend Liz has been chronicling her story with her husband, and suddenly I was inspired to do what I intended to do when I first started blogging: share our story.

I first saw Lee at a college ministry meeting, not long after I returned from my second stint in Spain. I had told the Lord that I did not want to date when I returned to the States unless it would be the man I was to marry. Little did I know...

That night, Lee played his trombone to an accompaniment track which I thought was strange. I must admit my immediate impression of him was quite shallow as I thought to myself: "Who plays a trombone at a college ministry meeting? That's kind of dorky."

*sheepish grin*

A couple of weeks later, I had the opportunity to hear Lee talk at a leadership retreat. He spoke on prayer, and as he shared, my perspective totally shifted. No longer dorky, this gentle spoken, passionate-about-prayer young man had just gotten my attention. "Wow," I remember thinking, "I want to marry someone like that."

Later that day we spent hours floating on the lake, talking about all sorts of things, and I realized how quickly I had initially let outward appearances deceive me. I was smitten.

A dating experience in Spain had taught me that I needed a mate who was spiritually strong and a leader, one who shared my passion for prayer and worship. And as Lee and I talked and shared and spent time together on that retreat, I knew he was the one.

He loved God. He had a deep and consistent prayer life. He was a worshiper. And he was nice looking (mullet notwithstanding).

So, we began to hang out. He lived in a house near campus that housed 7 other guys who were involved in the campus ministry with us. It was the hang out for all of us. Lots of ping pong played, movies watched, and meals shared there amongst friends. If I wasn't working or in class, I was at the house. All of the guys living there were my close friends, but there was this one that I had my eye on.

But he seemed oblivious. He treated me like a good friend, a sister, perhaps, but I never could tell if he really liked me...I mean, you know, for more than a friend.

I went to every event I thought he would be at. I even became a pseudo Trekkie, heaven forbid, going to the weekly Sunday evening viewing of the Next Generation.

[Funny story: You know how I thought he was oblivious? Well, he says that once while giving me a ride home after a Star Trek viewing when I was talking about my bum knee, he thought to himself: "Oh great. She's got a bum knee. What happens if we get married and we have to pay for medical expenses because of her knee..." Go figure!]

Then there was the Sunday he invited me to the symphony. I quickly remembered my prayer to the Lord...that I only date the man I would marry. But was this a date? I couldn't tell. The invitation came in the form of everything else we did together - a casual "by-the-way" I'm doing you want to come?

I took it as a sign anyway.

Then there was the Sunday that I invited him to lunch at my parents' house after church. Months later he would tell me this story: while wrestling with my little sister (who would've been around 8 at the time), he accidentally hurt her. He immediately apologized, to which she responded: "That's ok. Just as long as you marry my sister."

He almost bolted.

See, we were still just friends, neither one of us making a move towards a more committed relationship. I had no idea if he was interested, and he wasn't sure he was, having sworn off romantic relationships a couple of years prior. My sister, speaking out of a fear that I would marry a Spaniard and live far away, just wanted a guarantee that I would be marrying an American and staying close to home.

Our hearts, however, were already being knit together through friendship, prayer and Bible study, food, ping pong and racquetball matches...but that next step was a little intimidating.

I don't remember who made "the first move," but one night on our way back to Arlington from some event we had ridden to together, we held hands. And that broke the ice and made it official.

We were no longer just hanging out. A lot. We were dating.

Stay tuned for the next installment: "the break up"

[installment one] [installment two] [installment three]

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Essentials in Worship Values

for the Essentials In Worship Values Certificate Course with Dan Wilt

Why we lead worship, and who we lead worship for tells us much about how we lead worship.” [1]

Everything in life has the potential to become an act of worship, a response to God’s love for us. In the “gathered worship experience…our great desire and goal is to nurture a people who, through the vehicle of songs, prayers, liturgies, teaching and more, understand how to respond to God from a yielded heart” [2] that will extend beyond the gathered experience into their daily lives. “We create atmospheres that lead people to welcome the Spirit of God to change their lives, their motives, their choices. We open up languages of prayer for those who come, that in turn have the potential to open them up to God.” [3]

Connecting people to God is my passion. I love doing it through worship, art, prayer…over coffee, dinner, or on a walk. But worship is my primary “vehicle” to lead people to God. There is just something about a group of 2 or 3 or 300 come together…the “we” aspect that transforms a very personal experience into a community experience where we as individuals connect to God in an activity we do together.

When we meet, the expression of worship that lends itself most to community is song. Brian Doerksen says, “Why (do) we sing songs in the first place? We do it because it is something we can do together. There are probably other things that we could do to express our love and our worship to God that would be, in one sense, just as valid. But they’re not easy for us to do together.”[4]

But leading worship isn’t just about a set list or the people I sing/play with or the venue where I lead. The most critical substance of leading worship is the values from which I lead. In Essentials in Worship Values, Dan Wilt describes five foundational values that give structure to the worship experience God is calling me to facilitate within my local body. Having these at the center shapes the sound of worship that creates the atmosphere where we can be vulnerable and known to God.


“Intimacy happens when one heart chooses to make itself vulnerable to another, choosing self-offering above self-protection; self disclosure above self-protection.” [5] God is inviting us to a deep relationship with Him, one where He does not protect Himself from us and wants us to be open and vulnerable to Him. It is a “posture, a positioning, of one heart toward another.”

I must value intimacy with the Lord in my private life so that I might lead others to engage deeply with Him through the songs. I need to allow time and space for this to happen, not rushing through the moments when the Spirit is moving on each heart.


“Integrity in worship means that we are a consistent people – we don’t just sing what we believe, we sing what we already live.” [6] The way I lead or create or express worship has integrity if it flows from who I am in private. I become a parasite on the people I’m leading if I lead without integrity, taking my identity from them, from how they view me, from their praise and/or rejection. Leading needs to come out of the overflow of my life lived out before God.


Accessibility means creating access point(s) that facilitate people meeting with God. Often times this will mean laying down personal preferences so that I might “facilitate the communication between human beings and God.” [7] “We are playing and creating so that the congregation might find a clear way to lay down the burdens they walked in with at the feet of Jesus, and to meet with Him in worship through the vehicle of the music that we make.

We want our community to engage with God’s story on every level, and to enter intimately into that story as those pursued by a welcoming, accessible God.” [8] We stay aware of who it is that we are leading into worship and ask God how He can best make Himself known to them through our worship.

Cultural Relevance

Cultural relevance does not mean cultural accommodation. [9] Rather, it is leading the way to a connection with God that fits within the context of the culture where I lead. “[It] is the art of creating atmospheres that are authentic to our reality, style, age and goals that build a welcoming and engaging bridge for those who may not be able to build a bridge for themselves.” [10] I trust God to reveal the way to lead that removes barriers and reveals the truth of who He is within the culture.

Kingdom Expectation

Kingdom expectation is expecting God to be the same yesterday, today and forever; to expect Him to reveal Himself in the space that He has helped and led us to create. Jesus’ life was an example of bringing the future Kingdom reality into the present. He declared the Kingdom come and taught His disciple to pray for God’s will on earth as it is in Heaven.

In Heaven, worship is a multi-sensory, living, breathing, exciting, awe-inspiring continual event. We are His “holy, viral carriers of the Kingdom of heaven, reflecting the future day when ‘all things will be made new.’” [11]

God has told us to expect Him to “show up” for us. The way He comes is often a mystery, but in embracing the mystery of who He is along with the revelation of His heart, we experience more of His Kingdom truth in our lives that transforms us further into the people He has called us to be. To not expect Him to come is an “affront to what [He] has offered.” [12] We must lead from a place of belief, trust and Kingdom expectation where God’s presence is expected to manifest in our midst.

As I move into this next season of the formation of who God has called me to be, I desire above all else to stay deep. These core values of intimacy, integrity, accessibility, cultural relevance, and Kingdom expectation keep me centered on the One I am leading others to and demand that I expect God to empower me to do the hard work required for the great privilege of leading His people into a deeper encounter and relationship with Him…

An encounter that will, hopefully, leave them hungering for more of Him and desiring to meet with Him, not just in our corporate worship times, but during the week, as well, where they can continue to experience a connection with Him.

1 Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship Values, 4.
2 ibid, 4.
3 ibid, 5.
4 ibid, 5.
5 ibid, 7.
6 ibid, 8.
7 ibid, 12.
8 ibid, 12.
9 Dan Wilt, The Value of Cultural Relevance.
10 Dan Wilt, Essentials in Worship Values, 15.
11 ibid, 18.
12 ibid, 18.