12 from 12

I hope you had a wonderful new year and a very merry Christmas!  I have certainly enjoyed a break from blogging but also excited to be back.  2012 was an incredible year for us.  Our ministry and our family has never had a bigger year than we did in 2012.  Here are my 12 favorite events from 2012 (in no particular order)…

1.  Code Orange Revival.  Although it feels like a lifetime ago, this did, in fact, occur in 2012.  It was a whirlwind 2 weeks that had a significant impact on my life personally and on the life of our church.

 

 

 

 

2.  Elijah’s baptism.  There is nothing like seeing your firstborn express their own belief in Jesus.  What an incredible moment.

 

 

 

 

3.  Trip to Hillsong Australia.  I was so proud to accompany my husband to Australia and hear him preach at not only one of the most influential churches in the world, but also one that has impacted my life personally.

 

 

 

 

4.  Banner Years.  Elevation is filled with moments where God came through.  Banner Years is one of those moments for me.  Our church believed God for something big.  My husband and I gave sacrificially along with the people of our church and God multiplied it.  My faith grew yet again.

 

 

 

5.  Greater, a NY Times bestseller.  When my husband released his 2nd book this fall we had no idea how it would be received.  We were blown away at the response it got as the book made it’s way to the New York Times bestseller list.

 

 

 

6.  An incredible vacation.  Halfway through this crazy ride, we took a family vacation.  The trip was a breath of fresh air for all of us.

 

 

 

 

7.  Abbey turned 1.  The first birthday is significant because you realize that you made it and if you can make it through the first year, you can make it through the next 17.

 

 

 

 

8.  7 Mile Miracle.  Our team wove the most unbelievable Easter worship experience and many people came to know Christ.

 

 

 

 

9.  Graham’s birthday trip.  Our Graham Graham turned 5 this year.  We snuck away for three nights with just him and had a blast.  It is always so special to spend time alone with one of our kids!

 

 

 

 

10.  Best Christmas ever.  Because of our amazing weekend support team, I was able to sit and hear my husband present the gospel 10 times that added up to 34 worship experiences city wide (plus one in Toronto!) and I got to do fun stuff with my children in between.  There is nothing like watching people stand and give their lives to Christ and there is nothing like doing church as a family.

 

 

 

11.  10 year wedding anniversary.  My husband and I celebrated 10 years of marriage this June and we can honestly say we not only still love each other but we also still like each other.

 

 

 

 

12.  I officially took up tennis.  I began taking lessons this summer for the 2nd summer in a row, only this year, I kept it up.  I have played tennis almost every week since July and am loving it.  If you know anything about me, you know this is huge for me as it is the longest I have ever played a sport (and actually the only sport I have ever learned).

Compassion to Act

Last week some of the Elevation staff spouses and I had the opportunity to visit Compassion to Act, an organization in our community fighting human sex trafficking in Charlotte.

Yes, human trafficking in Charlotte exists.  Did you know that there are more than 30 million slaves today, which is more than double the number of victims transported during the entire transatlantic slave trade?  Did you know that the US is one of the top 3 destination points for trafficked victims?  And did you know that North Carolina is 6th in the nation for trafficked slaves?

Compassion to Act focuses on providing education and awareness about human trafficking.  They have a big dream to provide rehabilitation for victims and they are not afraid to start small.  We had such a great time learning about their organization.

We arrived with armloads of beauty products and samples and together we prepared 100 gift bags for women working in many of the clubs in our area.

I love getting to visit and serve alongside so many of the great organizations in our city.  This month I will be visiting our local Ronald McDonald house (more about that in a few weeks).  You can find out more about how you can get involved with Compassion to Act by visiting their site.  And to find out more about how you can get involved with Elevation Outreach visit www.elevationoutreach.com.

Turkey Tuesday

Today is Turkey Tuesday for some very special families.

Last night I got tother with a few of Elevation’s finest women to pack 200 turkey dinners for families in need this season.  Since Elevation has joined up with our Outreach partner, Matthews Help Center, we have been able to increase the number of families they help every Thanksgiving from 50 to 200!  I am so proud of the generous people of Elevation Church.

I love serving our community all year long but I especially love it during the holidays.  There is something about taking time to help someone in need that gets my mind off myself and the business of the season and onto others in need.  I hope that you will get involved in one of the many opportunities to serve this holiday season.  Whether you want to serve with your small group or your family, you can learn more by visiting ElevationOutreach.com.

Doing religion

As our church grows, I know that it is important to keep our staff and spouses connected and unified.  This past Tuesday night, we gathered together the leading ladies of Elevation for a night of fellowship and serving together.  We met at our outreach partner, Samaritan’s Feet.  And as we laced shoes and sorted socks, we got to know each other better and catch up on each others lives.

I love how our church provides so many opportunities for us to serve our community and our world.  I think that serving is an act of the will that forces you to take your mind off yourself and focus on someone else’s need.  When you serve, you shut the door to selfishness in your life.

James 1 talks about doing God’s word not just hearing it.  The chapter closes with a pretty hard challenge…

27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Real religion is not attending church.  It is in being the Church.  When I embrace the opportunity to serve, I not only bless someone in need but I also grow stronger in my relationship with Christ.

 

 

M1

Orientation and training sessions begin this week for the more than 1,600 Elevation volunteers who’ve signed up to serve in our new M1 Initiative.

My husband read an article this spring about a critical shortage of mentors in our school systems.  Educators cited a need for 1,000 mentors, tutors, and readers this fall and sent out a call for help.  They had only reached a disappointing 15% of their goal and my husband felt a church our size should be able to meet or even exceed that need in our city.

We’ve always wanted Elevation to be the kind of church our city could count on.  From LOVE Week to the Orange Initiative we’ve become known as a church that steps up to help.  Now, from Charlotte to Rock Hill to Gastonia, in this new season of outreach we will connect 1,000 mentors to students facing difficulties around the region.

Both Steven and I have mentored students in the past and look forward to connecting with a student in Charlotte in this new season of outreach.  There’s still time for you to sign up, too.  Go to M1 Initiative and we’ll help you find a training session and get started.

And don’t forget to purchase your copy of Greater so you can enter the give away to win a signed copy!

GREATER Day

Today is a very special day.  My husband’s new book GREATER comes out today and we are celebrating what we’re calling “GREATER Day”.  All day on the Elevation Network you can celebrate with us with guests like Pastor Craig Groeschel, Israel Houghton, and Pastor Mark Driscoll.  I hope that you will join us.

Also, from 9am-5pm our volunteers will be packing book bags to give away.  We are partnering with churches and outreach organizations across America so that for every book you buy, one student in need will receive a new backpack filled with school supplies.

I am so excited that you can finally get your hands on a copy of this book!  I know God will use it in your life as He has already used it in mine.  And of course, I want to give a copy away to one of you.  Only I want to give a special copy, signed by my husband!

Here’s how you can win it… buy a book this week and then leave a comment telling me where you bought your copy.  Honor system please.  You can purchase a copy at your local bookstore, and of course, online too at places like Amazon, Barnes and Noble Online and more.  I will leave the comments open until Friday and then pick one random winner.  Good luck!

And don’t forget to join us all day today at the Elevation Network.

 

 

4 ways, 12 locations to serve this summer with kids

This year, I’ve enjoyed more than ever the opportunity to serve our community with my children.  Elijah and Graham are getting old enough to understand the importance of service, and Abbey’s getting easier to bring along wherever we go.  As we’re now halfway through summer, I wanted to share with you some of our Elevation Outreach team’s best opportunities to serve with your children before they head back to school.

 

GIVE A GIFT::  When you’re shopping for your child’s school supplies grab extra items for a homeless child served through A Child’s Place.  Lace up some shoes and bring an extra new pair or two to share with our partner Samaritan’s Feet.  This is my current favorite for my boys because they’ve got specific tasks they can complete.  They get to sort, tie, count, and drop shoes in big boxes in a big warehouse where nobody cares how loud they are, and running between tasks is actually encouraged.  Any time of year you can pack a shoebox full of gifts for a child through Operation Christmas Child and Samaritan’s Purse.  This is a favorite of Elevation staff mom Kelly Hubatka for her four girls and Elevation Providence mom Dana Ramsey who says, “My kids (Christian, 8 and Caroline, 13) love helping other children and take ownership of the process.”

 

FEED SOMEBODY::  One of the easiest ways to relate the importance of service to kids is through food.  They understand that everybody needs to eat.  And they can be a part of feeding somebody in so many ways.  Elevation Blakeney mom Erin Proctor says her two kids (Tamarah, 12 and Ty, 8) get up at 5:30am once a month with no complaints to serve breakfast as a family at Charlotte Rescue Mission.  Proctor says the kids feel empowered to truly serve as they say good morning and bring breakfast plates out to the men’s tables.  At Samaritan House, you and your eGroup can serve and share dinner together with homeless neighbors recovering from surgery.  Our church has scheduled, regular opportunities with these two partners so you won’t have to serve alone – seasoned volunteers will be there with you to show you how everything works.  Next time you’re at the grocery store, you can pick up an extra bag full for Matthews Help Center or Hope Cancer Ministries.  Both these organizations are experiencing a shortage in their food pantries and would really appreciate your help.  The kids can help put the groceries on the shelf at drop off if you have time as you help them understand the importance of sharing.  And everybody loves the smell of freshly baked cookies.  You can whip up your favorites on site to share with patient families at Ronald McDonald House.

 

CLOTHE SOMEBODY::  When you’re cleaning out your closets for new fall fashions, take your outgrown clothing to our partners at Crisis Assistance Ministry, Project 658, or Camino Community Center.  The operation at Crisis is huge.  Thousands of items of clothing circulate through there every day and kids age five and up are a big help.

 

SHARE YOUR TIME::  One of the sweetest new opportunities this summer is at Charlotte Family Housing’s Hawthorne Place.  Elevation University campus pastor Larry Brey spent the night there this month with his son Corbin (age 6).  Our service Sunday through Thursday nights once a month allows CFH to save thousands of dollars.  “We’d been there less than an hour and Corbin was already asking when we were coming back,” said Brey.  You arrive at 8:30pm, play with kids getting ready for bed, visit with parents transitioning out of homelessness, and tuck yourself into a private little room with your own bathroom and bunk bed.

You can also go Here to see a few events that we are already doing this summer.  You can sign up and jump in!

You can find out more about any of these outreach opportunities by emailing our outreach team, or follow them on the Elevation Outreach blog.

Ladies First

Last night we gathered together the lady staff and spouses for an evening of great conversation, good food, and awesome giveaways.  The first hour we rotated groups discussing everything from what your favorite tv show is to how you came to know Christ, and everything in between.  I love giveaways so each lady that you see pictured with a balloon won a prize.  The second hour I spoke challenging everyone to create their own story at Elevation.  We had such a great time.

I believe that mobilizing the lady leaders of our church is essential to the work that we are doing in our city and beyond.  Thank you LST and Elevation event staff for pulling off an amazingly successful event!

Monday Morning Commentary… Seven Mile Miracle

What an amazing Easter weekend.  I am coming back to life today, still kind of recovering from the excitement of all that God did this past weekend.  We had record attendance and over 1500 people turn in a card indicating that they gave their lives to Christ.  That makes everything worth it.

I am so thankful I get to be a part of such an amazing move of God across our city and our world.  I am thankful for every volunteer and staff member who tirelessly gave up their Easter to make 7 Mile Miracle possible.  I am blown away at how our worship team gave the same excitement to the first worship experience that they did to the 10th, and every one in between, no matter how many people were present.  I am so proud of every spouse who held down the fort while their husbands (or wives) worked countless hours leading up to and during Easter.  Even though that does not feel like an act of worship, it is.

And today I am praying not only for all the people who gave their lives to Jesus this weekend, but also the ones who didn't. I am praying that their hearts would begin to soften as the message of the gospel echos in their head.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend.  I will share some family pictures tomorrow!

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