Extra Strength: The Perfect Basket Has to Go {Hyacynth}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

First Christmas: The Inn Keeper {Sunday, December 7, 2014}

By Hyacynth Worth

So we’re four days away from welcoming our new host daughter, a young Eastern European teen with a beautiful smile, a kind heart and no family to call her own forever, into our home for a month,  and I’m putting out an S.O.S on Facebook that looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 4.13.27 PM

Let me recap that for you in case you didn’t get all of that:

We have this beautiful, never-used basket that we simply cannot get to fit beneath any of our beds. And we need it out of our house. Before Sunday. Because right now it’s sitting in the middle of our host daughter’s bedroom.

It’s beautiful. It’s definitely too nice for the trash. It’s useful. It’s sturdy and well made. I really, really like this basket. For crying out loud —  it’s everything a storage basket should be!

But it doesn’t fit. We’ve tried all kind of tricks, and we’ve tried all kinds of beds here at the Worth house. Nada. Nothing works. We just keep having to move it back into the middle of the her bedroom floor. We’ve been trying to get a new home for this basket for several weeks, and now that the days have dwindled to only four before her arrival, we’re scrambling to get rid of this big beautiful, sturdy basket that’s sitting like a roadblock in the middle of her room.  Did I mention how much I really like this basket?

Still, though, no matter how much I like it, no matter how many ways we’ve tried to get it to work, the fact of the matter is that the basket just doesn’t fit. And if we don’t get it out of the way, we’re not going to have much room for our girl.

So … the basket’s gotta go, and I’ve turned to Facebook to help make it happen.

It’s only after I’ve posted my cry for help that I realize, however, how stupidly applicable this big basket conundrum is to my life.

I can get so caught up in fitting everything into the Advent season that often times I have trouble making enough space for the most important part — the guest of honor — Christ Himself.

Sometimes even good and beautiful and useful things have to go in order to make space for Christ in our Advent season, in our very lives.

So what’s gotta go for you? We’ve still got time to clear it all out before Christmas Day. We’ve still got time to make room for the guest of honor.

This Advent season, what’s your beautiful basket?

headshotHyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and author of Undercover Mother. She also works as the Online Communications Coordinator for Immanuel Church.


Be Challenged: 

  • Identify your basket, and let it go. Make space for Christ.

Go Deeper:

  • Answer the questions in the Conversation Starter of your Immanuel Life with a friend, spouse or small group.

Extra Strength: Passing the Baton {Hyacynth}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

Passing the Baton {Sunday, November 11, 2014}

By Hyacynth Worth

Some days it doesn’t look like much.

When the Legos are sprawled across the floor, tiny land mines just waiting for unsuspecting bare feet. And the dishes have seemingly cross multiplied and spread onto the counters beyond the sink. When I’m knee-deep in laundry and the thought of finding two matchable socks is something akin to finding diamonds in the backyard garden.

Those days, it doesn’t look like much. When I’ve got nothing to show for the work I’ve done, I’ve sunk into my bed at the end of long days and felt like a failure at this whole mother and wife and homemaker thing.

Because let’s be honest: leaving a legacy isn’t something that stands up and shows itself on a daily basis.

On those days I’ve fought hard for joy and stood firm in love and sat long on a couch next to two little boys trying to stitch back up what’s come undone, at the end of the day it doesn’t look like much.

At the end of the day, it looks like another day I’ve just barely made it through.

It doesn’t look like a legacy.

It doesn’t look like success.

It doesn’t look like leadership.

It just looks like a mess.

Amid that mess, though, I’m reminded that clean again becomes dirty.

Tidy morphs once again to messy.

And spotless is again dotted with Legos first thing the next morning.

None of the show remains show worthy.

But the love I wove gently into their hearts, those stitches remain.

The time I took to listen and engage, those moments linger long in the memory.

Those seconds I chose joy instead of stress, they imprint themselves peacefully, a tattoo on small {and big} hearts.

This — that which doesn’t look like much right now — it’s legacy in the making.

That — which looks a lot like a mess right now — it’s a masterpiece in the making.

All of which doesn’t look like I have much to show at the end of the day — it’s a small act among the grand show.

It’s a life lived intentionally, intent on passing on a legacy of faith, hope and love.

Mom and dad, it is much, at the end of those days.

Daily we are dancing to the rhythms of grace, setting the time and beat in our children’s hearts.

Daily, we are leading with the end in mind.

That which doesn’t look like much at the end of the day will look like much at the end of our lives when the story continues to unfold, the baton is passed and legacy remains in the living, walking, breathing people we’ve poured our lives into one moment, one day at a time.

headshotHyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and author of Undercover Mother. She also works as the Online Communications Coordinator for Immanuel Church.


 

 

Be Challenged: 

  • Identify a place of leadership in your life. Acknowledge that this is a place in which you have influence, and ask God to help you lead with the end in mind.

Go Deeper:

  • Answer the questions in the Conversation Starter of your Immanuel Life with a friend, spouse or small group.

Extra Strength: Love Does: Follow Me {John}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

 Listen to Love Does: Follow Me {Sunday, November 2, 2014}

By John Worth, Immanuel attendee and blogger

Counting the Cost

When I usually think about counting the cost my natural inclination is to fall back on my finance degree from college. I take a look at an opportunity, and in an analytical way I do some “cost” calculations in my head (and sometimes on a spreadsheet; I am pretty nerdy).

  1. I start with a cost benefit analysis — will the benefit outweigh the cost over the useful life of the thing that I’m spending money/effort/time on?
  2. Next, present value calculation — figuring out what is the price that something is worth today considering the benefit that it will provide over time.
  3. Finally, I look at the budget: time, money, effort, emotional expenditures — will I have room in the budget for this thing? Even great things can’t be done if it can’t fit in the budget.

Jim Elliot Love DoesAfter Jesus turns around and tells the crowds following Him, “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison” (Luke 14:26) and “carry your own cross and follow me,” He follows it with an equally a bold statement “But don’t begin until you count the cost”.

Here’s what struck me most about Jesus’s words: have I counted the cost in my own life? This is a much bigger question than doing analysis on the cost of say accepting a job offer or buying a house versus renting; it’s a matter of my whole life and, even harder, that of my family. My money, my time, my relationships are all a reflection of what I am giving my life to; they are payments to the cost of what I’m truly following.

Too often in my Christian life I haven’t counted the cost before jumping in and following Jesus and instead have sometimes been faced with the sudden reality that my current “budget” can’t fit what Jesus is asking me to spend. At those times I’ve had a choice; do I walk away like the builder who runs out of money in Luke 14:28-30, or am I so devoted to Christ that I make the hard choice and follow even if it costs me everything I hold dear? I believe that in order to follow Jesus in the way he wants we will ALWAYS have to make really hard choices. Choices between good and best, comfort and uncertainty, staying in the boat or walking on the water. If there aren’t hard choices I am probably missing something.

Currently I am faced with very real choices between doing what is easy and what I believe God has placed on my heart to do = hard. Am I crazy enough or enough of a “fanatic” as Pastor Joe put it to choose the path that will allow me to make the biggest impact on the world? For me the thing I wrote on the card that will cause me to step across the threshold on Sunday was caring for orphans. Specifically in this season of my life it’s looking like it will be in the form of an adoption from Eastern Europe of not just a 2.5 year old but a 13 year old as well.

So back to the original question I’ve been wrestling with: what’s the cost?

Thousands of dollars spent on lawyers, agencies and travel, many hours of paperwork, phone calls and late night discussion, close family relationships strained and feelings hurt, loss of vacation and other job difficulty from weeks of travel required, stomach churning court dates, social worker visits, lawyers, judges, uncertainty, tears, hurt, brokenness, loss….by the way these are only some of the costs we KNOW of that will happen during the next several months, not including the rest of our lives on account of this choice.

I can almost see Jesus turn around, look me in the eyes and ask me, do you want to be my disciple? Do you really want to be my disciple? You know what you will ultimately gain but have you truly counted the cost?

I believe he is asking you those same questions today.

My answer is yes.

What’s yours?

John Worth is director of Immanuel Accelerate, a lifelong attender of Immanuel and husband to Hyacynth. John’s two boys keep him and Hy on their toes most evenings. When he’s not nose deep in spreadsheets at work John enjoys helping others navigate the waters of life.


Be Challenged: 

  • Have you responded with a yes to what God has laid on your heart? Share your yes with family or friends and talk about your next steps.
  • Read the final week in the Love Does study guide and discuss it with your small group.

Go Deeper:

  • Take the next steps in living out your yes!
  • Tell us about it! Email HyacynthWorth{at}gmail{dot}com if you would be willing to share your story.

Extra Strength: Love Does: Be Not Afraid {Hyacynth}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

Love Does: Be Not Afraid {Sunday, October 26, 2014}

By Hyacynth Worth

We are standing on the edge of yikes.

Truth be told we’ve been standing here for the past year as we’ve sought what God has in mind for our family and what He wants our family to look like.

Our first step out onto the ledge began when we committed to hosting a 12-year-old orphaned Eastern Europe girl into our home for a month last Christmas. Though my husband and I were both certain that hosting was, indeed, what God was inviting us to do, I found myself scared.

I was scared to open my heart. I was scared to open my home. I was scared to open my family, especially our young boys, up to a unknown child who carried hurts. I was scared to let someone into the very intimate places of our family. And I was scared that we would never be able to gather all of the money necessary for hosting.

Even though I knew God was inviting us onto this journey of orphan care and advocacy, fear inched its way from my stomach to my throat and it tempted me to question everything I felt the Spirit prompting inside my heart and everything the Spirit had been saying to us through the Word.

10577032_954544034559772_838081196621665371_nFear has a way of standing up real tall in front of us, like shadows climbing tall walls, threatening to wash over us with darkness.

Fear says, “What if we get in over our heads?” or “What if we fail?” or, worst of all, “What if we hurt someone we love in the process?”

Fear is a large, lurking giant, whispering lies and doubts and uncertainty — it is a darkness that threatens to paralyze us, freeze us dead in our tracks. Fear is a liar that says that God isn’t just and sovereign and fully over all the things that keep us trembling in the shadows.

But God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear. Rather, He’s given us a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7) God’s graciously given us the ability to choose faith, to choose to allow the Spirit to well inside of us; He’s given us the ability to choose faith in face of all the giants of life, faith in midst of all the shadows in life.

And do you know what faith does when we choose it? Faith tells fear to sit down and take its place where it belongs — on the floor alongside the lies and uncertainties that tempt us.

Faith says that we claim confidence in what we hope for and rest in assurance about what we do not see. (Hebrews 11:1)

And faith — faith says we are free to live and move because there is a God who is bigger and covers all of our fears, all of our doubts, all of our uncertainties, all of our failures and all of the darkness.

Faith says we are free to love and love well.

Our edge of yikes right now again looks like hosting another preteen girl from Eastern Europe this Christmas.  And it may look like adopting her into our family along with her toddler sister, a child we’ve yet to meet. All of this, too, in the aftermath of our first host daughter denying our adoption requests, leaving us puzzled yet trusting in God’s handiwork.  While some of my fears were realized in this journey, I found God towering over them, still triumphant. And I don’t regret walking the path we’ve been invited to walk.

We still can’t see what’s over our edge of yikes; we still can’t see where the path will lead.

The old, familiar fears are still lurking, yes, climbing like shadows when we allow our minds to wander, but we’re asking God daily, sometimes moment by moment, to help us choose faith in the face of fear, in the face of darkness.

We’re asking God daily to help us turn our eyes toward the Light and let the Light within us shine so that the darkness becomes less and less and less. We’re asking God daily to paralyze the fears that paralyze us and move us with His great love so that we can dare to love greatly.

headshotHyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and author of Undercover Mother. She also works as the Online Communications Coordinator for Immanuel Church.


Be Challenged: 

  • Identify a fear that’s been holding you back from what God’s been inviting you into and give it to God in prayer.
  • Ask God if He wants you to move in spite of your fears. And then? Take the next step!

Go Deeper:

  • Answer the questions in our the Love Does Study Guide by yourself, with your small group or with a trusted friend.

Extra Strength: Rush Hour: Green Light {Hyacynth}

We leave the church building inspired and filled with Truth and encouragement each Sunday … and somewhere along the course of the week, often we find ourselves in need of a little bit of something to help us through.

Welcome to Extra Strength: a mid-week pick-you-up for the soul. Be sure to scroll all the way to the bottom for extra encouragement and challenge. 

Extra Strength

 Listen to Rush Hour: Green Light {Sunday, September 28, 2014}

By Hyacynth Worth

I’d never met a red light I couldn’t run.

A year and a half ago, we had two little boys, a small business, a side-career in writing and part-time church job for me, a full-time job for my husband and a number of volunteer activities and kid-centered activities that had us running crazily day in and day out. It was all pretty good stuff. But it seemed like we rarely paused. It seemed like we rarely stopped.

We just kept running red light after red light after light banking on good deeds getting us out of the ticket if we were caught.

Then we met Selah.

Tiny and perfectly formed, Selah was born at the beginning of my second trimester in my fifth pregnancy, and for the first time in a long time, I felt like I just couldn’t force my foot onto the gas pedal for even just one more second.

For the first time in a long time, I felt like I just couldn’t move.

Selah’s life and her journey into eternity became the stop light I just could not ignore … it became the stoplight we as a family just couldn’t ignore.

We named her Selah because of she was the pregnant pause, as the word is used in the Psalms, we so desperately needed. I wish to this day that she would have been born the full-term baby that caused us to slow down … but reality is that God has purpose for her short life.

And one purpose we’ve been able to identify was to help save our lives from being a perpetual rush hour.

As we grieved our small baby, we felt like God was whispering to us that we just had to slow down. I knew it was true, and John and I began taking steps to quit a whole lot of really good things. We finished all of our volunteering committments that spring, I quit writing for several publications, we pulled out of activities with the boys, we closed our small business.

RushHourGreenLight JPEG.006We went from 100 mph to cautiously obeying the speed limit. It was hard, but with every deceleration, I felt freer to pursue what I knew God was calling me to pursue: time with Him to receive His love and heal, time with myself to know how He created me better and time with the people with whom He’s graciously blessed my life.

The fulfillment of stopping and of slowing down was greater than I expected. I learned to breathe again. I learned to receive God’s love and steep in it. I learned that who I am is not about what I do but rather Whose I am.

But there’s more.

Our family learned something, too: in the midst of our hearts breaking for Selah, we cried out to God and asked Him why we still felt such a tug on all of our hearts to welcome another life into our family. In that crying out, God began to break our hearts for children who don’t have families.

While we slowed down and then sat at one of the longest red lights of my life, our family discovered a shared passion and desire for wanting to become a family to children who don’t have one. We are in the midst of a crazy-exciting adoption journey that has been green light from the time we started. It continues to be a green light in ways we never expected despite some twists and major bumps in the road.

I don’t think we would have discovered that if it weren’t for Selah. I don’t think we would have discovered that if it weren’t for listening to God’s whisper and stopping and quitting all of the stuff that was more about us so that He could show us where our passions intersect with the world’s great need.

Those red lights we face are there for a reason. The yellows ones, too.

Stop running those red lights … so that you might have the endurance and time and space to run 100 mph after Him.

“The rush hour series is about clearing out space so you can respond when God calls you, so when God has an invitation for you you can respond at 100 mph.” -Pastor Josh Petersen

IMG_2528Hyacynth Worth is beloved to God, wife to John, mom to two boys and author of Undercover Mother. She also works as the Social Media Coordinator for Immanuel Church.

 

 

 

 


Be Challenged: 

Honestly consider which light you’re at. Ask God to give you the strength to make the decision to stop, slow down or go.

  • If you’re at a red light, quit something that’s standing in the way of our relationship with God or your family.
  • If you’re at a yellow light, intentionally spend time with the people around you.
  • If you’re at a green light, say yes to God and ask Him to dispel your fears and doubt. Ask Him to fuel go!

Go Deeper:

  • Answer the questions in our Conversation Starter {found by scrolling to the last page after clicking the link} by yourself, with your small group or with a trusted friend.