I love watching you play

Last night our boys team won the tournament for their coach pitch league this fall.  We had so much fun.  There is nothing like watching your child perform.  Whether it is in a sport or a performance of some type, it is so much fun.

It was a great night for baseball all around (yeah Boston!).

I read a blog (see here for full article) this week about how parents can best encourage their children in sports.  They surveyed college athletes and asked them what their parents said that made you feel great.  Their response was…

I love watching you play.

I said this so many times to my boys last night.  I don’t know what they will remember about their childhood when they grow up.  I don’t know if they will ever know how much work it is to have your children play an organized sport.  But I hope and pray they will remember how much we enjoyed watching them play.  And how proud we always are of them.



10 Things I love about my pastor (part 2)

October is Pastor Appreciation month and I cannot miss the opportunity to publicly affirm my husband.  He is truly  an amazing man and I wish everyone could know him the way I do.  So here is part 2 of 10 things I love about my pastor.

6.  He is tenacious.  I do not know anyone who refuses to give up more than he does.  Whether he is having a difficult discussion or working on a sermon, he doesn’t stop until he figures out a solution.  This past weekend for example, he told me he had been having a rough time bringing his sermon together.  He had a plan and a good outline but he couldn’t figure out exactly how to express each point. He told me that he came up with the points (the meaning in the mud, the mercy in the mud and the miracle in the mud) at 4:25pm, just 35 minutes before our worship experience begins.

7.  He is generous.  I seriously do not know a person more generous.  On small levels he loves to bless people, whether it is a staff member or a family member or a server at a restaurant.  And on large levels, he has challenged me as we have given big and trusted God on more than one occasion in our marriage.  And he has taught me by example that God cannot fill clenched fists.  I hope our kids turn out to be just like him in this area.

8.  He is not afraid to try something new.  This past summer he started taking tennis lessons (a game he had never really played).  This is not an easy thing to do as an adult.  He is also always trying new routines, new ideas at church, new worship experience times, anything to make improvements.  He has shown me by example that small changes often have the largest results.

9.  He listens to me.  What an amazing blessing it is to be married to a man who listens to me.  If I share my heart with him, he may not agree right away but he always hears me and usually after a few days, I feel like he at least understands where I am coming from.  When he is wrong, he admits it and apologizes.  This is one of the things that makes our marriage so strong.

10.  He is a brilliant leader.  I have never seen someone so able to call out greatness in everyone around him.  He challenges me on a daily basis, but I also see him challenge everyone around him and everyone under his teaching each week.  People are better people because of him and that is not something we can all say for ourselves.  He knows what to say, he knows what not to say and he leads by example.  I have never heard him preach something he does not live out on a daily basis.

There you have it.  My pastor, my man, my baby daddy.

Monday Morning Commentary

This weekend was another great weekend.  Have I mentioned how much I love our church?  We are in between sermon series right now.  Last week Pastor Levi Lusko wrapped up our series, I Don’t Know What I Believe, by preaching the best message I have ever heard on dealing with death from 2 Tim 1:10.  It was so encouraging.

This week my husband preached a powerful message on mud.  Yep mud.

  1. The meaning in the mud (Prov 14:4, Gen 2:7, Ps 103:13)
  2. The mercy in the mud (John 8:1-11)
  3. The miracle in the mud (John 9:1-11)

We learned that the mud is a sign that you are really living.  We learned that God can handle our dirt.

It was such an encouraging word to know that the mess in my life is a sign that change is happening.  I hope you will take the time to listen to the message.  You can catch it in our archive or on the Elevation Network.

Have a great Monday!

Life Change Inbox… Darin’s story

Life Change Stories are back!!!

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 3:2-4 that our lives are living letters written so that God might be glorified. People often write in to Elevation and share the work God is doing in their lives through our church. When I read these stories, I am reminded that we serve a powerful God who still works miracles in the lives of everyday people. These stories inspire me to keep giving, keep serving and continue praying for those who are far from God. I hope they will do the same for you.

If you have a story you would like to share, email us at amencorner@elevationchurch.org

I love Darin’s story .  It is not only a testimony of how God can work in someone’s life, but also a testimony of the generous people of our church.  I am so proud.  Ok, check out Darin’s story…

My name is Darin. I went to Elevation for the first time on December 23, 2012. I had been walking past the Gaston campus for some time on my travels into town. You had set it up in the high school I went to – Forestview. I thought it would be interesting to see the inside of my old school again. So after walking by it every Sunday for some time I gave in and decided to go check it out. I figured it would be a chance to get warm at least. (I lived in a tent on a freinds property in the woods). As I approached the parking lot I spoke to a member of the parking crew and she told me that there were cookies inside. Considering this I increased my pace towards the doors. There I was met by my now good friend Dave. We spoke and he actually had seen me walking around town and was actually meaning to stop and invite me to church. It felt like I was suppose to be there. My mom had raised a very polite and happy son and to my enjoyment I realized that everyone around was just as nice as I was. Which was a relief because at the time I didn’t really talk to people. I just assumed they wouldn’t like me. That was exactly the opposite in this wonderful place. They treated me like an old friend and as I was ushered to my seat I felt like I was in a concert. All the lights and the sound of the drums really got me pumped. Especially since I was a musician myself.

When Pastor Steven was shown on the big projector screens I immediatly noticed that this was completely different from the churches my mom had taken me to when I was young. He really got my attention and it was really like he was speaking to me. It felt really personal.
As I left the experience I felt refreshed and unburdened. I went and talked to Dave and he told me he was going to give me a bike and a sleeping bag. He invited me to come eat dinner with the volunteers at the church and he would give me the bike then. He even took me to eat lunch with his family. Afterwards I went to a freinds house and took a shower and got ready to go back. Dave picked me up and when we got there he introduced me to alot of people. Not having many freinds this was new for me but it was nice to have someone truly happy to meet you. After dinner we turned the corner in front of the office and what I saw really blew me away. Sure there was a bike but along with it were piles of stuff….everything from underwear to a propane stove, sleeping bags, food, a new tent, tarps…I could go on and on. I was overcome with emotion, I couldn’t fit it all in one truck – I needed two. I didn’t know what to say. They were just happy to help me and thanks to Elevaion Church and the help of my freinds I’m out of that tent and have everything I could possibly need. I thank God every day for this amazing blessing He has laid out on my life. Shortly after on January 20th I went to boot camp for the volunteers and decided to become an usher. I love seeing all the people coming in and I couldn’t be happier to tell them hello and that I’m happy they are there. And I mean it too. Because maybe…. just maybe….God will change their lives like He changed mine. What a beautiful thing to see.



10 things I love about my pastor (part 1)

October is pastor appreciation month and I cannot let the month go by without appreciating mine here.  I have said this before and will say it again.  I wish everyone could know him the way I do.  He is a great leader, a gifted preacher, and a godly man onstage and behind the scenes.  Here are a few things I love about him.

1.  He doesn’t do anything small.  Everyone knows how much diet soda he drinks, but most people don’t know how much water he drinks too.  This summer he started playing tennis.  He went to Dick’s and came home with this water jug.  I think it holds about 1/2 a gallon of water (Pictured next to his jug is my cup that I take when we play).  The funny thing is he usually refills the jug when he plays.  Whether he is consuming Guinness world record amounts of fluids or preaching 13 times back to back on a holiday weekend, he does it well and he does it big.

2.  He is a great dad.  This fall our boys have been playing baseball on a coach pitch team.  My husband has only missed one game and one practice.  He comes home from work just in time to take them to practice, and he leaves their Saturday games to get ready to preach but he doesn’t miss.  Recently when Graham was having a hard time hitting the ball, another mom told him, “we’ve been out here every night that we don’t have practice, practicing on our own.  My boys each do 100 pitches a night.”  That weekend PF was back at Dick’s.  This time with the boys. They bought a bucket of balls and hit the field.  You better bet our boys were hitting better the next game.  Yep.

3.  He is the hardest working person I know.  He understands the necessity of momentum and he knows how to use it.  Whether it is in starting a new campus, working on his sermon, writing a new song or beginning his next book, he pushes through the resistance and gets down to business.  He is the best at what he does because he works hard.

4.  He still dates me.  Rarely does a week go by that we do not go on a date.  I know many times after traveling, the last thing he wants to do is eat more restaurant food.  But he always takes me and he often leaves his phone in the car, now that’s a good man.


5.  He is a through and through night owl and bless his heart, he tries not to be.  Ever since I have known PF, he has loved staying up way past my ability to remain coherent.  I have fallen asleep on him more times than I can count.  If he went with his body’s natural inclination, he would stay up til 3 or 4 every night.  But he knows he cannot be a grown up and do that so he doesn’t.  He disciplines himself to go to bed at a decent enough time so that he can be around when we are getting ready for school in the mornings.

That’s all for now.  I will finish my list for part 2.  I know the suspense is killing you but you will have to wait.

When nothing else helps

Have you ever had an irrational fear?  Whether it is over an illness or a spider fear can be paralyzing.  It can literally keep you from moving.  It can consume your every thought.  It can keep you from truly enjoying reality.  And it doesn’t matter how ridiculous it seems to others, it is real to you.

I often find myself fearful of the what ifs.  You know… what if my child got hurt, what if I got sick, what if my marriage falls apart, what if I lose my job.  Things can start spiralling out of control quickly.

One time my husband said in a sermon, “Play out the what if scenario.”

What if my child got seriously injured?  We would go to the hospital.  I would feel guilty, but I would take my guilt to God.  My child would be in pain, but we have insurance.  What if my child was never the same, I would figure out a way to make it.  Our family and church would stand around us and support us.

And if my worst fear came true, God would be there with me too.  He is with me at the top and He is with me at the bottom.  One of my favorite verses is 1 John 4:18, “There is no fear in love.  Perfect love drives out fear…”

When I start with the fact that God loves me it doesn’t matter where I end up.

I love the line in the old hymn, Love Lifted Me that says, “When nothing else could help, love lifted me.”  We have been singing a song at Elevation that says, “When nothing else could help your love came down and lifted me.”

When fear begins to take root in my heart, I have to go back and ground myself in one of the very first truths I learned about God, He loves me.  And nothing can ever change that.


Lessons from Juanita who did not speak Spanish

This is me and my grandma, Juanita Boitnott.  She passed away 3 years ago at the age of 97.  She would have turned 100 this November.  Her birthday was 11-12-13.

Grandma B lived in the Roanoke Valley of Virginia all her life.  Juanita was not Hispanic.  She did not know her name was a Spanish name until my older sister told her one day (to which she replied, “Well I’ll be”).  She loved to talk and tell stories.  But she only told good stories, happy stories.  And she had sad stories she could have told.

For some reason I have been thinking about her lately.  And I think there are 2 things I want to learn from her example.

1.  Don’t worry about something that probably does not exist.  My dad has told me that one day he asked her if she ever heard voices in her head.  He said she looked at him and said, “No.  And you don’t either.”  She told him to eat his breakfast and they never talked about it again.

Now how many moms of my generation (myself included) would have had an appointment with a psychiatrist that afternoon if our child had asked us this?  I often have to tell myself to calm down and just let my kids be kids.  They can work out their social issues at school.  My 2 year old is not demon possessed, she is just 2.  And my children will not grow up to hate each other.  In Jesus Name, “No, and you don’t either!”

2. Healing from tragedy is possible.  When my grandmother was in her early 20s her fiancé died in a car accident.  Not long after that, her mother died in an accidental house fire.  Grandma B had scars on her arms for the rest of her life from trying to put the fire out on her mother.  Somehow she was able to go on living.  She went on to marry, have 2 children, and open up her home to house many others in need.  She had a relationship with Jesus for more than 70 years that obviously carried her through some very dark times.

I have not even come close to experiencing a tragedy like that in my life.  I don’t know what it is like to lose a child or a marriage.  But I do know that if my worst fears came true, Jesus would be there at the bottom with me.


Some of the best life lessons we can learn come real people.  Not movie stars or holocaust survivors but people that we interact with every day.  What are some lessons you’ve learned from your real life heroes? And even further, if you lived to be 97, what lessons do you want your life to leave for others long after your gone?


Before and behind

Have you ever driven yourself crazy trying to protect one of your kids?  When Elijah was first learning to walk, I was so afraid he would fall.  I remember putting one hand in front of him and one hand behind him so I could catch him either way that he fell.

I sometimes wish that I could still do that.  Oh that I could have back the days where all I had to worry about was my 1 year old falling.  Now I could worry myself sick thinking about something bad happening at school or a snake in the woods behind our house or a friendship that could be a bad influence on them.

I love these verses…

Psalm 139:5 You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.

Isaiah 52:12 For the Lord will go ahead of you;
yes, the God of Israel will protect you from behind.

Does this mean that God will keep anything bad from happening to me or the people in my life that I love the most.  No.  Because we live in a fallen world.   I think the comfort that comes from these verses is in knowing that God is in my past, my present and my future.  He is there when I get hurt and He is the One who heals me.

So I pray for my children’s and my loved one’s protection.  But I also pray for them to realize that God is with them.  Before and behind.  Helping them make every decision and take every action.

And I pray it for myself.  That I would know that He is with me.  Before and behind.

A generation of generosity

Teaching kids kids to be generous is not easy.  It is against human nature to share.  Adults don’t like to share either, we just learn how to hide it better.

My husband and I teach our kids tithing like it isn’t an option.  It is just a matter of fact.  You give back to God 10% of everything He gives you.  But to get our kids to go beyond tithing and into generosity is not an easy task. Back this past winter, my sister’s oldest two kids had a joint birthday party and instead of receiving gifts, they collected items for kids in Africa.  I thought this was a great idea to rip off.

So when Elijah’s birthday rolled around this July,  I asked him if he would like to collect something at his birthday party instead of gifts.  He immediately said no.  I let it go and tried again a few days later.  This time I told him that he would still be getting gifts.  His dad and I as well as his grandparents, cousins, etc… would still give him gifts, just not the kids invited to his party.

He agreed and we selected Beds 4 Kids as his charity.  We thought it would be cool to have a huge pile of bedding to load up after his party.

Then this past September, Graham followed suit.  Graham collected stuffed animals for the kids at Levine Children’s Hospital.

I was so proud of my boys.  Once they made the decision, they never complained.  And they were still blessed with gifts and money from those closest to them.

I am not a perfect parent.  I do not seize every teachable moment and share bible verses with my kids daily.  And I don’t know that we will make this a birthday tradition.  (I hope we do but I want it to be their choice).  But I hope their generosity will inspire their friends to be generous (as their cousins did for my boys), and that maybe my kid’s generation will grow up to generous givers.

In tandem

I find it interesting that over and over again in the New Testament that Paul prays for his readers to have grace and peace.

Romans 1:7 I am writing to all of you in Rome who are loved by God and are called to be his own holy people. May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

I think the reason he prays for grace and peace is because one is the outward expression of Christ’s work on the cross and one is the inward expression of it.

GRACE is the power of Christ that saves me and keeps me.  It is the power that enables me to live out that which God has called me to do.  2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

PEACE is the inward calming of the Holy Spirit that allows me to continue when my circumstances don’t line up with my calling.  Jesus said in John 14:27 says, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.  Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

When both grace and peace work in tandem, I am equipped and I feel confident to carry out the work that God has called me to do.  I am unstoppable as a wife, as a mother, as a friend, daughter, sister, pastor’s wife, and as a leader.

Here’s what this looks like…

As a leader when I need to have a tough conversation with someone, God’s peace gives me the confidence, God’s grace gives me the words.

When I am hurt, God’s peace tells me to forgive, God’s grace enables me to pray for the person who hurt me.

When faced with a difficult parenting situation, God’s peace whispers to me that I am the best person to raise this child, God’s grace gives me wisdom to handle the situation.

Jesus said He is the good father who loves to give good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11).  If you ask for grace and peace, He will give it, and you will be unstoppable.