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This superabundant grace is already powerfully working in us, releasing within us all forms of wisdom and practical understanding. Ephesians 1:8 (TPT)

Welcome! I’m honored that you’re here. This life is so full—of moments and milestones, of joyful surprises and deep heartbreaks—and so we all naturally have questions for navigating the different seasons we face. I truly believe the grace of Jesus is available to all of us to give us wisdom for every practical situation in life! While I don’t claim to have all the answers, I am excited to communicate and interact with our community in this way every month and point you to Jesus in a way that offers some practical advice for whatever questions life raises for you.

My advice will draw on my experience as a student of the Bible, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a Jesus follower, and a community leader. So please, ask away! There’s no right or wrong question and all questions are submitted anonymously, so don’t worry about asking about the real stuff! I mean, let’s get real, we all need some good, honest, open, genuine conversations about the things life brings!

-Chelsea

Ask Chelsea a Question

September 2020

Race + Relationships

Judah’s messages on racial equity have made me realize I have so much to learn! I’ve tried talking with friends and family members about what I’m learning, wanting to process with them, but with a few people the conversations have turned argumentative and contentious. When that happens should I keep going? I don’t want to hurt the relationship, but I really want to include them in my journey. What do I do?

I don’t think you’re alone in this predicament! I am still learning about social media, but I have been completely surprised by the intensity of visceral reactions the subject of racism elicits. In fact, I will go as far as to say these are the most intense reactions I have seen during my 42 years on this planet. It makes sense considering systemic racism wraps up the sensitive topics of theology, personal identity, money, politics, worldview, guilt, and shame all in one subject. Don’t think it’s strange that your conversations are turning heated! That said, I don’t believe heated conversations are going to bring us the solutions the world is looking for. I suggest we leave arguing to the news pundits (who are just trying to bolster their ratings) and take the approach of a humble listener.

What would our conversations look like if we all applied the wisdom from James?

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.
-James 1:19 NLT

Don’t you wish there was a magic wand that you could wave and the person you’re talking to would listen to what you’re really trying to say? Oh, how peaceful that would make life! Since that magic wand doesn’t exist, our only option is to control what we can, and that is ourselves. We must set the example by being quick to listen and slow to speak.

Quick to Listen
Here’s my problem: I love to be right and win arguments (yes, it drives Judah crazy because I do often win arguments, but don’t tell him I’m bragging about it). And because I like to win arguments, I often find myself thinking about the argument I am going to say instead of really listening to what the other person is saying. What is the heart behind what they are saying? What are they afraid of admitting? What belief are they holding on to that may be wrong? Truly listening with our hearts will allow us to have meaningful, heartfelt conversations instead of arguments.

Slow to Speak
I love that this verse reminds us to be slow to speak; it doesn’t say not to speak or to be timid to speak. Being slow to speak means that what you do say should be thoughtful, educated, and based on convictions. This is especially true when it comes to the important topic of racism. I have been consistently surprised by how much unlearning and new learning I have to do. Educating yourself will greatly change the tone of your conversations.

Slow to Get Angry
Racism is a generations-deep demonic stronghold. History shows us that racism adapts and looks different for each generation, but it still exists. Remember that the fight against racism is first and foremost a spiritual fight, so getting angry at people who see things differently than us will get us nowhere. Don’t let these conversations drive a wedge between you and your family or friends. We saw Jesus peacefully eating meals with people he strongly disagreed with. We also saw him cleanse the temple, turning his anger toward the system that was hurting people. Being slow to anger will allow us to use our righteous anger in the right way, instead of destroying relationships. Fighting against racial injustice means we are fighting for people, not against them.

True Beliefs

All of my life, I have devoted my life to Christ. He has amazed me in so many ways, whether it be changes I have gone through, obstacles I've overcome, or even looking out at the beautiful world he has created. I was journaling the other day and the question came about "how do we know what we believe is true?" I kind of stepped back and started to think. I was wondering what your thoughts are on this topic.

I remember as a teenager wondering, “What if everything I believe about Jesus is wrong? I don’t have any real proof any of this is actually true…” I immediately felt afraid and ashamed that those very thoughts might prove that my faith was weak. I was too ashamed and afraid to ask my parents or youth pastors, or even voice it to my dog, Buffy (yes, that was his name!!).

Looking back, I wish I would have had the courage you have to ask the question out loud. Then somebody could have told me that our walk is a walk of faith, and we will never have to not exercise faith. Exercising our faith is what makes it strong, which is what we need to walk out our journey called life. Parenting, marriage, entrepreneurship, leadership, relationships...all of these endeavors require faith! A life without faith is empty and timid.

When we find ourselves asking these questions, I have found it is always good to rehearse what we do know to be true. I know that Jesus miraculously healed me when I was six weeks old, fighting spinal meningitis. I know the freedom from guilt whenever Jesus forgives me. I know I have heard the voice of God supernaturally leading me. What do you know to be true about God? I think your journaling is a perfect place for you to spend time rehearsing all the things you know to be true about God.

P.S. God didn’t leave us completely without evidence of his existence. The late Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias, had a gift of explaining this evidence. I haven’t read all of his materials, so please don’t take this as my personal endorsement of every stance he took. However, he explains Jesus in a brilliant way that’s worth looking into. https://www.rzim.org/



The Quarantine Juggling Act

How do you balance being a pastor, wife, and mom? I work full-time (right now from home) and I’m a little nervous about trying to facilitate school for my 7 and 10-year-old kids this fall. Last spring quarantine felt like a fun adventure, but now it just feels like a new reality! I don’t want to let down my husband or kids, but I feel pretty stretched.

Right?!? Trying to adjust to this “new normal” as it has been dubbed is quite an adjustment! Something inside me screams at that phrase—I don’t think there is anything normal about trying to work with excellence, facilitate school for kids, keep a household running and fed, and still have energy to give to our spouses! Even though I don’t have all the answers for how to make every unique household adjust to this season, I do believe there is a gift God has given us that we can utilize during this season in a fresh way.

Listen to the words of Jesus about this gift: “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27, NLT). The Sabbath, a day of rest from work, was instituted by God when he worked for six days and rested on the seventh day. This is a pattern God gave us to follow to be able to handle life when it gets full. It’s not a religious duty, it is a gift from God to meet our needs in our busy lives.

Growing up I only heard of Sabbath in the context of what we weren’t supposed to do—no work related to our job, household, or school. If we aren’t supposed to do all these things, what is the purpose of the day? Is it just to veg out and watch TV? Eugene Peterson, the late scholar responsible for The Message translation, stated it is a day that was meant for “Praying and Playing.”* We give ourselves to spending time with God in a fresh way (hello, [email protected] 😉 ), and for doing fun things that refresh our souls. The combination of the two make this day God’s gift to us, bringing refreshing to our spirits, souls, and bodies so we can continue to live our lives without burning ourselves out. Who knew God was the original self-care guru, providing a way for his children to care for themselves?

If I were you, right now I would be thinking, “Wait a second! I told you my life was full and stretched and you just told me something else I need to add to my schedule? I have no idea how I can actually take a day just to pray and play!” I understand those thoughts. The statement Jesus made tells us we aren’t supposed to be religious or legalistic about keeping the Sabbath; we are to see it as a gift and respond in faith that it will benefit us. Try it for a month and see what happens! See if the day adds more to your soul than it takes away. I would honestly love to hear how it goes!

*Eugene Peterson, “Confessions of a Former Sabbath Breaker,” Christianity Today Volume 32, Issue 12 (Sep 2, 1988).

August 2020

Dashed Dreams

"My plans and dreams about how this year would look were so exciting, and then the pandemic happened. I really love having something tangible to look forward to, but now I’m stuck home in a quarantine that seems like it is never going to end. I would love advice on dealing with disappointment and sadness from having to cancel plans and dreams because of the pandemic."

First, let me tell you what NOT to do...don’t do what I did to our daughter, Grace, whose 11th birthday was in the middle of our strictest quarantine. Grace asked what she was going to do for her birthday party. It felt like the 100th time she asked, and she caught me at a low moment, so I lashed out, “Really? I’m trying to figure out how to deliver church to people, keep an organization moving forward, while dealing with my own disappointment of our canceled 20th anniversary trip to visit Paris for the first time. Sorry but figuring out your birthday party isn’t at the top of my list right now.” Like I said, don’t do what I did there. I belittled Grace’s disappointment by comparing it to bigger problems in our household, which could have caused her to feel shame and insignificance, leading her to bottling up her sadness. Don’t worry, I immediately apologized and she forgave me.

I think we too readily belittle our own circumstances by comparing what we are facing to what else is happening in the world. We unconsciously think God is going to respond the way I did to Grace, so we don’t bring our real emotions to Him. Instead we tell Him what we think He wants to hear and try to carry our sadness and disappointments ourselves. Can I remind you that we never catch God in a low moment? He cares enough about you to know the amount of hairs that are on your head, and He bottles every tear that you cry. He doesn’t have a limited capacity. Jesus has enough space to handle the big problems of the world and every disappointment we face. How do we deal with the myriad of disappointments this pandemic has brought? Have honest conversations with Jesus and give them all to Him. You will still feel some of those emotions, but you will know that you aren’t carrying them by yourself.

Photo: Grace did get her birthday party...complete with makeup by Mom.

Jesus Talk for Young Kids

"I am a parent of two young children and struggle with how to approach talking about Jesus and praying with them. I want to teach them to do these things from a young age, but not sure how to begin. Is there a wrong way to do this? I’m afraid if I don’t do it right I’ll somehow mess it up for my kids. How did you and Judah handle this when your children were young?"

Toddler years!! When days are full of so much activity and nights of sleep are still interrupted. A lot about those years is a blur to me, but I do have sweet memories of cuddles and meaningful moments of spiritual connection with each child: Grace sitting on my lap during my morning Bible reading time while I read verses out loud to her, singing “I love you Lord” to Zion while rocking him in his nursery, and Eliott cuddling in bed with me and Judah while we prayed together to start the day (and half slept!). I am literally getting teary eyed thinking about these sweet memories with my babies who aren’t babies anymore! When our kids were this age, we weren’t super intentional about family devotions or making them recite prayers. What we were intentional about was making sure they saw our relationship with Jesus lived out in our everyday lives. Working with the end in mind, we decided that we wanted our children to know how to live out their Christianity, not just practice religious routines. We also recognized that our kids will imitate our lifestyle much more easily than they will implement our instruction, which is such a scary, humbling reality for parents everywhere.

Looking back, I do wish we would have included a consistent Bible reading into their bedtime routine. To be honest, we didn’t find a children’s Bible we totally loved, so Judah and I wrote one. Please don’t be turned off if this seems like self-promotion, I just so believe in the project that I have to share it! We were intentional about three things when we put together this Bible Storybook. First, Jesus is intentionally brown in all the illustrations. Second, the illustrated children are intentionally diverse so every child on the planet can read it and see themselves in the story of God. Third, the Bible intentionally focuses the story on God’s love toward humanity and His work of redemption for us. It makes a difference on our children’s developing brains to see these three things. Plus, the cuddle times of reading are so special. If you prefer screen time, the Bible app for kids is also a great free resource...I wish either one of these existed when our kids were young!

Whatever your convictions are for your family, be assured that the investment you are making into the spiritual lives of your kids will make a difference! “Dedicate your children to God and point them in the way that they should go, and the values they’ve learned from you will be with them for life” (Proverbs 22:6, TPT).

Photo: I WILL FOLLOW JESUS is available for purchase HERE.

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