Easter in Seasons & Reflections of His Son

This time last year I was taking a deep breath at the end of a whirlwind weekend called Easter. A week full of being out in the middle of the night buying toys, calling every store in Central Florida for an iPad 2, waiting in lines, Good Friday service, Love Reach – all built up to these few hours that held so many souls in the balance.

There were lights, there were give aways, there was all sorts of excitement. I remember the anxiety in the build up, the set-up, the breakfast run, the tweeting, and when it was go-time, I remember standing in worship, looking around me and thinking to myself that I wanted to capture the serene moment that I was standing in, as people filled into the balcony, because I knew that it was the beginning of something amazing in Lakeland.

True to that sentiment, I am once again excited and overwhelmed at what God continues to do – a year later – in Lakeland, Florida… and I wasn’t even there. I can’t tell you the amount of people who are so committed to the execution of the vision of Free Life Chapel and yesterday is just one – out of many – of those days that proves that. Someone told me while I was in the states that it was good being there so that I could see that it isn’t all that I make it out to be in my head. But I continue to disagree – it has only gotten better and more fulfilling to be a part of the house at FLC – and I love every chance I get to be there and be a part just like when I was 19 and stepped into that place for the very first time.

I will admit that when Good Friday came around I was taking my grape and cracker communion alone in my room, reflecting on a day that ultimately changed my eternity and throwing a little prayer in for all the people who were doing the same so far away (and simultaneously pulling their hair out in preparation for the days ahead) and my heart was a little heavy because a piece of me wanted to be pulling my hair out in crazy preparation also.

For me, however, this was a different kind of Easter. One for the books, really. There were no lights, there was no invite bunny (only through my Facebook stalking skills), there was no cool music and no power house message from someone I honor and admire (Thank you, Jesus, for podcast!) but instead a lot of silence and reflection. I read through the gospels and tried to dwell on the fact that Jesus struggled with this decision. That His sweat was like blood. I spent time meditating on the suffering of my God and the confusion that must have occurred in Jerusalem during the days that followed.

Last year was loud and crazy for me and this year was quiet and pensive, but the heart of both were the same: that on Sunday people all over the world came together to celebrate that Jesus sits at the right hand of the Father and longs for us to find freedom in His death.

I am aware that this season of my life has purpose and is different for that reason, and for that I am excited. I am excited because it is weekends like the one that just passed, in silent reflection and strong presence, that remind me that no matter how bright the lights are and how loud the music is, the heart of it all is the Son!

And in that I’m so grateful that it isn’t this or that. That I was here reflecting and such, while watching my people at FLC throw a mean party in Florida – all in celebration of the same thing – He is Risen!

Happy Easter – keep that reflection in your heart all year!

Easter 2011: The Big Sha-Bang

April 24, Sunday

This morning overwhelmed my heart.

I am often times found standing in my tracks, mesmerized as I experience the true faithfulness of God.

Today was another one of those days.

With a team of pure hearts to serve, who have been planning this for weeks and weeks, and knowing that execution needed to be flawless, the energy was super-charged. I actually had nerves, I was so excited.

5 AM seemed like nothing but Christmas morning as I gathered my luggage for the day and headed out (I learned my lesson from my first 5 am unload.. Sweats and no hair/make-up: there’s too much work to do to be done in all the Sunday morning get-up and it’s too humid to expect my hair to not be a fro the second i step out the door).

My usual office was blocked off so I had to shift to a different ledge opening. Dan was so gracious enough to share his office space with me, and i pretty immediately began taking breakfast orders. Alma went with me, which is such a help, and we returned to organize and deliver.

After my set-up duties (everything in place, set-up flowing, sound check checking, t-shirt tables good) I found a quiet little hole in the wall with a plug and a mirror and got to work.

By the time 10 AM hit I was so jittery. Just the thought of the many souls in the house this morning gave me butterflies for them. Because potentially, their life will be changed forever this morning.

The worship team opened with a U2 rendition of “Beautiful Day” and away we went.

The energy was hyped, the music was on que, and all was right in the world. I was super stoked when I saw the bowl around our sanctuary arena being filled like a chain. Just kept coming. And that brought tears to my eyes. All the work and no tax deductions and 5am at the mall, all so insignificant to that moment, when I looked around and saw a full house only getting more packed out.

God is so good and so faithful. And now, we rest.

Easter 2011: Love Reach

April 23, Saturday

Today was organized into teams of two, to go into the communities behind the Lakeland Center and reach them with love and information to worship with us, if they had nowhere else to attend church on Easter Sunday.

Each team had a different “territory” to reach and the dynamic duo of Pastor Marisol and myself merged with some of our youth.

It was a privilege to watch them speaking with a less fortunate community about worship.

Although they were momentarily traumatized because many of the families in the government housing deveopment came to the door with minimal clothing (hey, when there’s no air, you gotta do whatcha gotta do) it was a hilarious experience and was a benefit to so many families who were blessed that day and will be at the service as well.

Easter 2011: Great Friday

April 22, Great Friday


I can’t call today Good Friday because it was so much more than that. Istead I have taken the liberty of naming it Great Friday and enjoyed every second of our Good Friday service, which was unlike anything else we do at Free Life Chapel.

It was an intimate setting, very short for those on a lunch break, and so significant to what Christ did on that day.

Well not that day exactly, but something like it.

Seeing grown men with tears in their eyes because of the grace that’s been poured out for them will touch anyone.

They’ll getcha right in the heart, just like a child will.

Lord, let us never forget the blood that you shed.

The remainder of the day was walking through and planning and getting all those little tid-bits lined up.

(You know all of those flawless moments that just seem to fall into place and look sooooo cool…. ya, well they don’t just fall into place. Who knew. Crazy, right?)

Then video announcements in the crime scene area.

Then filming the crime scene in the crime scene area.

Looks crazy realistic, right?

Thank You Lakeland Police Department.

Up tomorrow: Love Reach

Easter 2011: The Preparation Pt.II

Previously on Easter 2011: The Preparation…

….So after much debate about the dangers of a young girl at the Brandon mall at 6am by herself and many restrictions and laws laid down by the powers at be of Free Life Chapel, guess who gets to rock out to Carrie Underwood with some Dunkin Donuts at 5 am? Ya, that’s right. Your’s truly. …

Upon arrival to the Brandon Town Center, the “crew” as I call them, were already forming their line. I jumped right in (a little against the laws laid down, but don’t tell – the rule was don’t be there with less than two people, and I wasn’t. But the rule also was to wait for the daylight to come before i got out of the car, and i was.)

BUT IF I DIDN’T THEN I WOULD HAVE LOST MY SPOT IN LINE AND IT WOULD DEFEAT THE PURPOSE!

So lets get back to the story and just slide right by that last paragraph.

The long and short of it is that they gave me the run down of how it all worked and also that they had all been lining up everyday for a week and got nothing (do they have jobs? Do they not have jobs? We don’t know) so don’t get my hopes up.

I sat in my spot and put my make-up on, checked e-mails, read a little iBooks, and waited until 8 when the mall employee hearded us like cattle into the next waiting area – a roped off box in front of the apple store – longing and lusting after the big white logo above the doorway – while the employees were inside just pointing and mocking us. Ok, so I made that part up but “the crew” was really getting fussy that they were taking longer than usual to reveal the daily delivery.

When the moment came everybody got all silent and a little awkward. I felt as if i were part if that old short story everyone read in grade school, “The Lottery”. You know where they all have to pick out of the black box and everyone is gossiping about the outcome. Fourth in line (big shout out to half way breaking rules) I got the fourth card for a 16G iPad 2, thank you very much! Only thing was that it didn’t have 3G access, and we we’re realllyy wanting our newcomer to have access to 3G, but I remained thankful, took the RSVP card and went about my business. I didn’t even say bye to the crew, they all hung around and showed each other their little tabs, as if they were about to get into the Chocolate Factory or something.

By the time Pastor Cindy hustled about, performing her many early morning tasks, and made her way to pay for the new prize, she just so asked in conversation for our sales rep to check the back one more time for an iPad 2 with 3G access and guess what – you’re not gonna believe it – yep, uh huh, he came out with a box in his hand.

So super pumped that that company never came to pick up their order, which allowed us the iPad 2, we were able to get the Mac daddy (no pun intended) – everything we asked for – with a special invitation for set-up so that the winner doesn’t have to randomly figure it all out.

Needless to say, Cindy Thomas and I walked out of that store doing the happy dance.

No seriously, we were. People were staring.

Easter 2011: The Preparation

April 19, Tuesday night

Tonight was just spent running around in search of iPads, bikes, Nintendo DS, etc.. only to find out that they were out or didn’t know when they were available (every Wal-mart, Target and Best Buy in the Central Florida area has heard my voice) or only had the most expensive version (convenient!). Then picking out two bikes, having them put up front, filling the buggy with 50 bubble sticks and 50 bags of play dough (which the kids are gonna love!) after the employee had to dig more out of the back – because what kid wants grey play dough – and of course was invited to experience FLC worship in the process, only to find out that it’s about a 10 year process for a tax ID number to be entered and couldn’t purchase any of it anyways.

Ok, maybe 10 years is a small exaggeration. But thats not the point.

All after midnight, i might add.

I love these kinds of nights.

At the end of Tuesday (I still say Tuesday even though it was after midnight.. I go by the “it isn’t the next day until you fall asleep” rule), we left with one iPad2.

BUT, a vital tip off that the apple store in Brandon gets a shipment of iPads in every morning and people line up outside of the store at 6am to see what came in that day – could be 20, could be 2 – and hopefully walk away with a new toy.

Therefore, after much debate about the dangers of a young girl at the Brandon mall at 6am by herself and many restrictions and laws laid down by the powers at be of Free Life Chapel, guess who gets to rock out to Carrie Underwood with some Dunkin Donuts at 5 am? Ya, that’s right. Your’s truly.

As you have read before, I LOVE driving early in the morning. I don’t love waking up early, but once I’m on the road and there is that eery calm, I couldn’t be better. Then it just gets hot and it’s not that great anymore. But for that “moment” it’s all worth it.