Holly Furtick

Life Change Inbox

We continue in our Friday series, Life Change Inbox.  I have been sharing some of the wonderful emails my husband gets, where people share the work God is doing in their lives through Elevation Church.  Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:2-4 that our lives are living letters written so that God might be glorified. 

I hope Christin's story blesses you the way it did me…

My husband and I relocated to Charlotte February of this year.  The week prior to closing on our first home my husband lost his job.  We were devastated.  Here we were in a new place surrounded by new people, and a new mortgage we could not afford.  In search of hope we attended Elevation for the first time.  That's all it took.  Week after week we returned hungry for God's word.  And week after week we were lifted higher; our faith became stronger.  We began tithing for the first time.  Yes, it was scary at first to give at a time when we were short one income.  But we knew in our hearts blessings require obedience, and obedience requires faith.  Within a few months my husband was offered a job making more then he was making with his previous employer.  The answer to our prayers for my husband to find work was anwsered.  But our greatest blessing was an newfound relationship with our Father.  We trusted in Him completely even through many words of discouragement from family and friends; and He showed up! 

It all came full circle when we saw a video of how Elevation uses the offering for so many amazing outreach programs.   What a feeling to know that we are a part of how Elevation is making a difference all over the world! Tithing is not an obligation for us; it is a blessing and a vital step of faith in our relationship with God.

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Don’t blame it on the ministry: Relationship Edition

I was having lunch with a church planter's wife the other day when the topic of relationships came up.  She talked about how she was afraid of forming relationships within their church and staff because what if she opened up to them and they left the church?

I wrote a blog a while back called Don't blame it on the ministry.  The blog was written in the context of raising kids in the ministry. How we can give them a negative image of the church when we blame everything on the ministry.

So to piggy back off of that thought, I want to call this post, Don't Blame it on the Ministry, Relationships Edition.  Here is the thought I want to throw out there… Relationships come and go in life but you cannot live without them. 

If you never spend one second in full time ministry, I guarantee that you will still experience many failed relationships during your lifetime.  It may be that you lose contact with your best friend from childhood.  It may be that you move back home after college and lose touch with your sorority sisters.  Or maybe you move neighborhoods or change jobs or schools.

Then there are the unfortunate and painful times when things go south and you stop contact with someone.  You could even lose the most sacred relationship of all, your marriage.  In fact, if you think about it, besides family relationships (which can often be more rocky than non-family), most people do not stay in contact with their childhood or even high school and college friends.

I think you get the point I am trying to make.  While some relationships fizzle out and others end dramatically, losing friends is a part of life.

So would you go throughout your life never having relationships at the risk of losing them?  You can't.  And you can't do it in ministry either.

Will people leave your church?  For sure.  Will it hurt?  Of course.  We must always remember that there are seasonal relationships and there are forever relationships.  My husband, my children, my parents, those are forever relationships.  They won't always be perfect, but they're the longest term investments in my life. And while I have dear friends that I love and confide in, I must always remember that they are not guaranteed to last forever. Still, that does not mean that God can not use them in my life today.

You have to risk relationships because it is in relationships you find encouragement, camaraderie, and challenge, even if they are just for a season.

I don't regret forming relationships with even the people who hurtfully left my church and my life.  God used those people in my life for a season.  And really, whenever someone leaves my life, I find God usually replaces them for a reason that I'll understand later—either in their life or in mine.  My husband says, "Sometimes God has to delete stuff from your hard drive to make room for an upgrade."

Don't blame lost relationships on being in the ministry.  It is a part of living life.

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Becoming a pastor’s wife

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I am honored Holly asked if I would share with her blog followers what it was like to go from a businessman’s wife to a pastor’s wife. From a regular church member to a staff member. This was definitely a transition for myself, my husband and I as a couple, and also for my family. I am Angie Blackson and my husband Josh (Operations Pastor at Elevation Church) and I have 3 sweet little girls. My oldest, Alyssa, is 6 ½ not 6 and is in the first grade. Kaitlyn, our middle, is 4. And our youngest, Karis, just celebrated her 3rd bithday. As my girls like to tell people, “Daddy is surrounded by girls” and he is spoiled with attention and admiration because of it!

3 years ago my husband and I made the decision to change the course of our field to the ministry. I never dreamed I would be a Pastor’s wife in a million years. It is just not a story I ever considered writing up for myself. Our life of 7 years before making this decision was very typical and completely within the boundaries of my comfort zone. My husband worked a 5 day a week 9-5 job with a set salary that seemed crazy high for a 22-29 year old. We spent our weekends volunteering at Elevation Church, leading community groups, and hanging out with friends.  We had a great life!

Then God called us to join the staff of Elevation Church. I was excited but deep within me there was this feeling of uncertainty. I feel so guilty stating this but I hope this is helpful to someone out there. I was so comfortable and happy with our life I felt like this could be taking a step in a more difficult direction. My perspective was what the American culture has trained it to be. As you get older your pay increases, your house gets bigger, your vacations become more extravagant, your cars get nicer, you even get to tithe more, you get to spend your weekends and holidays however you wanted, and so on.
Thankfully, my husband had the vision during his years in the business world to put us in a position where, when the opportunity came for us to be on Elevation’s staff, we were able to say yes to God’s will.

The first huge transition we faced going into the ministry was our budget.  I first need to state that Pastor Steven and Chunks (Executive Pastor) do a great job taking care of their staff financially. They took time looking over our budget and crunching numbers to make sure the salary they set for my husband would not leave us in a deficit. It was well above the industry standard. But it was a little less than we had gotten used to making in the previous few years. It took my mind getting use to the fact that Josh would not come home announcing he got promoted and with the promotion comes a $10,000 pay raise. My perspective had transitioned to when Josh gets a bonus we can put a fence in to now planning ahead and saving for big ticket items. According to Dave Ramsey planning ahead and saving is the better route anyways. Pastor Steven is also very creative in how he financially supports the staff. One example is how he invests in our marriage with sending Josh and I out for a date at no expense to us. And honestly, I have never been a part of a culture that puts more emphasis on generosity and taking care of its own than Elevation.  Still, it was a different framework. One I had to work to get used to.

The second major transition we made was what our family time looked like. We started out by doing what we were use to doing, Friday night thru Sunday family and date time. It took me about 6 months to figure out that our “family” time was non-exsistent. What I ended up doing was sitting down with Josh and writing our detailed weekly schedule out. I am a visual learner. Once our schedule was written in front of me I was able to get creative with what our family time looked like. In the beginning there were nights the girls and I would bring dinner to Josh and we would eat as a family at the Elevation offices. Our dates often times ended with checking on construction sites. Before you say that does not sound like family time or a date night hear me out. I had trained my girls and myself that supporting Josh is our number 1 job. We get to be a part of what he is doing! We loved going to the office and seeing the people he works with. I loved seeing the progress of Matthews and Blakeney as they were being built. I guess it is all in what your expectations are and mine were simply to be with Josh and be able to be a part of what he was doing each day.

The last major transition we dealt with when Josh became a Pastor was the way the outside world looked at us. In the beginning we had a hard time admitting Josh was a “Pastor”. Not because of shame. We noticed that when we shared what Josh did people would visibly put a wall up. Our neighbors stopped asking us over for dinners or social gatherings. It was as if they had in their minds we were judging them because of our new position. I can’t report that this has changed completely. I think we will always deal with this. But God is good! He has taken our position and used it over and over for his glory. I stopped worrying about what people thought of us and chose to love in a way that is true to who I am. Time has shown that our neighbors respect us. There have been times they come to us seeking advice or prayer. And since being on staff at Elevation we have seen 3 families in our neighborhood give their lives to Christ and get baptized. God has given us a platform at church to be able to speak into so many lives.

My role as a wife and mother remains the same whether in the ministry or in corporate America. It took God taking me out of corporate America to change my perspective. I wish I had lived in corporate America the way I live now. It makes complete sense to me now when Pastor Steven says everyone is in the ministry full-time. Pastor’s wife or Business Man’s wife I should be viewing my budget in a way that stretches each dollar and spends each penny wisely. I should be intentional and creative with my family time. I should choose a radical lifestyle that causes people to wonder what it is that is different about me.  And I should be intentional about encouraging those God has brought in my life.

What started out seeming to be a major sacrifice has actually turned out to be one of the greatest upgrades of our lives.

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Pumpkin Patch Tradition

Every year for the past 3 years we have gone to Riverbend Pumpkin Patch in Midland, NC.  It is such a wonderful little place that we have really grown to love.  I thought you would enjoy seeing some of the pictures I took.

Pumpkin Patch

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Monday Morning Commentary

The Most Encouraging Sermon You'll Never Hear…

We are not doing a series for the next few weeks at Elevation.  My husband will just be preaching messages that God lays on his heart.  And if this week is any indication of how the rest of the no-series is going to go, it is going to be great.

My husband preached from Matthew 11:1-11.  John the baptist was in prison and he sent his disciples to ask Jesus, "are you the One?" Jesus replies to them with a statement about the many miracles He has done, then when John's disciples left, Jesus turned to the crowd and talk about John the baptist and how he was the greatest man ever born of a women.

My husband said that the reason Jesus gave John the answer he gave was because Jesus did not want to affirm John's faith in John, he wanted to affirm John's faith in Jesus.  And that perhaps, when we our faith is shaken (like John's the baptist's was), Jesus is talking behind our backs.

My husband went on to give us 3 words of encouragement.

  1. You are doing better than you think your are.  In your job, as a mom, as a dad, as a daughter, as a student, as a Christian. 
  2. Your life means more than you think it does.  God is using you in ways you may never know.
  3. It is less about me than I think it is.  It is all about God and the work that He is doing.

I wish everyone would take the time to listen to this message.  It was so encouraging to me personally.

You can listen to the message every hour on the hour at the Elevation Experience and also in our blog archives later today.

Have a great Monday!

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Daddy Daughter

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Don't you love this picture of my husband and our daughter?  I just had to share it.  Hope you have a great weekend! 

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Make Level Paths

Hebrews 12:12-13 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

We just wrapped up our Hebrews 12 series.  A few weeks ago my husband did a teaching for our staff that I happened to sit in on.  Here's what he said: sometimes you work in your organization and sometimes you work on it.  And working on it is harder than working in it because that means you have to make changes.  He talked about how we are in a season at our church of making level paths.  And clearing a path is harder than walking on one. 

I didn't know that this would be so timely for me.  I am knee deep in level path making lately.  And it is hard.  Seasons of change are hard but if you don't move with them, you can end up with an even bigger mess on your hands.

Making level paths happen to all of us all the time.
    You have a baby
    You start a new job
    You move to a new town
    You downsize your home
    You go from laid back Summer to fast paced Fall

I have to work on things to make them better.  If something isn't flowing right in your home, you may need to create new routines.  If the friends in your life are not encouraging you to do the right thing, you may need to find a new social circle. 

The great thing is, when you do the work to make the level path, you can walk on it (at least for a while until you need to make another one :)). 

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The caped crusader celebrates

Graham's birthday was a few weeks ago, but I couldn't not share some of the pictures from the party.  I somehow managed to pull off a sleepover with 5 little boys, and we had a great time. 

My kids really get into naming the food, so I went all out with that (thank the Lord for the internet!).  We had Poison Ivy Punch (green koo-laid ice cubes in ginger ale), Cat Claws (Bugles), Penguin Poppers (frozen pizza rolls), Bats in Blanket (pigs in a blanket), Mr. Freeze ice cream, Two Face cookies (vanilla and chocolate oreos), and for breakfast the next day we had Robin eggs, Riddler Rolls (cinnamon rolls) and Bat Fruit.  I know that was a lot of junk food.  Don't judge me, it was a party.

The highlights of the party were when my sweet husband wrote a scavenger hunt for the villains and dressed up as the Riddler.  And then when Elijah preached a birthday sermon.  No one got saved but we did take up an offering (just a joke).

Here are a few pictures of the celebration…

Grahams bday

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Pumpkin bread

I try to post this recipe every year about this time.  It is really wonderful.  I got it out of a Southern Living Magazine about 5 years ago and have made it every year since.  I actually made this recipe and took it to all our neighbors when we first were planting Elevation.  I wrote handwritten note inviting our them to our church.  None of them ever came to my knowledge :(.

I never make anything from scratch, except this recipe.  It is easy and the flavors are not too strong. I hope you will make it and enjoy! 

Pumpkinbread

  • 3 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 (15 oz) can pumpkin

Mix everything together, add flour gradually at the end.

Pour into 3 greased 9 x5 loaf pans (or substitute 3 mini loafs for one of the large loaf pans).  Bake at 350 for 50 minutes to an hour (less time if using mini loaves).

Hint: I like to dust the pan with cinnamon/sugar mixture after greasing to give the crust extra sweetness.

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Monday Morning Commentary

Hebrews

My husband wrapped up our series with an incredible message this weekend.  The message was called, It's a Shakedown.  He preached from the last few verses of Hebrews 12 and talked about what happens when our faith is shaken.

He gave a definition of shake down: to shake something in order to find a hidden treasure.  He talked about how sometimes we are shaken so that something better can be revealed.  He gave us 4 different ways we can be shaken…
    1.  Systems in our lives
    2.  Relationships
    3.  Hopes
    4.  Our souls

My husband's sermon was particularly spontaneous.  He walked among the crowd and asked people about their hopes that have been shaken.  He said we can not choose whether or not we should be shaken but we can choose what we are standing on when we are shaken.  He encouraged us that when you know you are going to be shaken (which if you are human you will be) you can brace for it.

I was really encouraged when he talked about relationships.  He said that sometimes our relationships are shaken so that we can see that Jesus is the only relationship we can truly count on.

You can watch the message on the Elevation Experience today or later in our archive.

Happy Monday!

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