Extra Strength: First Christmas: Elizabeth

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 for First Christmas: Elizabeth. 

Christmas.

It’s an entire season dedicated to warm fuzzy feelings and having fun in the great outdoors. The entire world gets nice all of the sudden and all troubles cease for the month of December.

Families come together and everybody just feels good all the time. Right? That is certainly how society portrays Christmas — it’s as though as soon as December 1  rolls around, we are supposed to feel happy every second of every day until December 26.

After Christmas, it’s like its okay to feel depressed and worried and sick again. But for the 25 days before, we aren’t supposed to feel that way. It is supposed to be peace on earth and good will to men 24/7.

But Christmas isn’t like that. As much as we would like it, things like cancer and debt and jobs and addiction and depression still exist just as much, maybe even more, during the holidays. A new month cannot bring you out of the place you are in. But God can.

Pastor Bryan spoke on Sunday about Elizabeth who prayed for a baby and God said “no” for a very long time. Elizabeth was barren. Although she was filled with shame, she never grew angry at God. She never cursed Him or ran away. God later showed Elizabeth mercy and blessed her in her old age with a child.

“God delights in bringing new life to barren places.”

That isn’t just true of Elizabeth. That’s true of us all. Whether you are in the same boat as Elizabeth, wondering where your baby is, or if you’re wondering when you’ll get a job or your sickness will go away or when a loved one will accept Jesus, we probably have one question in common: why. Why is God doing this? Why am I here? We may never know the answer.

But if we trust in God and in His plan, God will give us what we need. Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Don’t worry bout the “why” right now. Worry about how you can praise while you’re in this place, even if it is one of hardship. This might not be a time where all problems are miraculously erased, but it can be one of celebration ; perhaps now’s the time to go make those gingerbread houses and roast chestnuts over an open fire and go caroling, praising God because we know He is a God who delights in taking our broken and turning it into beauty.


 

Be Challenged:

  • Consider your own struggles and ask God to help you see them from a bigger perspective.
  • Go through the Conversation Starter either alone, with your small group or a friend.

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: 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.

Extra Strength: Rush Hour: Red Light

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 for Rush Hour: Red Light. (click to listen to the message)

In a world that is go-go-go, it’s sort of weird to have down-time.

Even if it’s just for a moment, it seems out of place. It can even become irritating if life isn’t constantly keeping us on our feet. At least, that’s how it is for me. And I’m sure I’m not alone here!

Pastor Josh used red lights as an example this week, and it really resonated with me. He said that every day, we stop at red lights and we see stopping as a nuisance.

blog9.17.14I know I get annoyed when I am going 40 miles per hour and all the sudden I have to pause at a red light. I want to keep moving and get to my destination as quickly as possible. But in reality, red lights are actually a blessing! It’s two to three minutes where we can just calmly sit and not be judged for it, either.

We can be still.

How often can we rest and not be deemed lazy? I know that I hardly get the opportunity. On the average day, I am up and going at 7:00 a.m. and once homework is done and I’ve done all I wanted/needed to do for the day, I go to bed anywhere between 10:30 p.m. and midnight. I drive more than seven hours a week yet I have been missing out on the value of the red light!

We can’t actually avoid red lights. So why not take the opportunity to pray or think or not think.

Why not take the opportunity to turn off the radio and relish in the quiet. It’s so rare now that we get to be alone with our thoughts and our God.

I have begun to challenge myself not to take little moments in my day that force me to pause for granted. I challenge all of us: don’t be afraid to pause; don’t be afraid to stop at that red light and really mean it.

Snapshot_20121212Gracie Adamek is a college student. She enjoys singing, acting and spending time with friends! Gracie is so grateful for this opportunity and hopes to glorify God 100 percent through this!

 

 

Be Challenged:

  • Take some time to work through the Conversation Starter based off of the message and honestly answer the questions. This guide can be worked through during the week to take you deeper into application and God’s word.
  • During the actual red lights in your week, take time to take a deep breath and simply rest in God’s love.
  • Spend time in quiet and in prayer and ask God to help you identify your priorities in life; ask yourself if how you’re living actually supports you in keeping your priorities at the forefront.
  • Spend time in quiet and in prayer and ask God to help you identify what activities in your life are keeping you from Him and your other priorities.