Everybody Always, Part 1

Family. I just can’t seem to get away from the subject, like the golden thread of my life’s story will somehow weave in and out of this one thing. Family, or could it be called – love?

When I was young, I lived in a caravan with my family. Those are the days I look back on with deep joy. Although we thought the living situation wasn’t ideal at the time – in hindsight, it was one of the best times of my life. Because we were together. All the time. We laughed together, walked through some incredibly faith stretching times together, cried together, ate together, sat together and stood with each other. All the time – together. We learned to love each other. Really really. Y’all don’t even know.

My family also laughed at me, because I would make friends with young people who would be passing through the caravan park on holidays with their families, then 3 days later when they left – I would cry – I mean bawl my eyes out – like I was saying goodbye to a life-long friend. *Weirdo* 😉

I’ve had friends from all over the world, best friends, so I understand what it’s like to love deeply and then have to say goodbye. Goodbyes suck – they’re the worst, especially when the people you’re saying goodbye to have buried themselves deep within your heart. You know who you are.

I also understand what it feels like to be the one to be called, to be the one leaving everything and everyone you know behind to follow the Spirit’s leading and say a big, loud ‘yes’ to Him. In a way, I feel like that one is worse – because instead of saying goodbye to only one person, you’re saying goodbye to EVERYONE. That’s the kind of goodbye I’ve been working through recently.

In the past year, God has been doing such a deep work in my heart around family, loving the people around me in such a way that it brings healing and freedom to all parties. I’m growing in my understanding of the Father’s heart and the truth that,

 ‘The more Heaven comes to earth, the more earth looks like family.’

 Jonathan David Helser.

In Matthew 22:36-40 we find Jesus being asked ‘what is the greatest commandment?’ Jesus’ response is one I believe he felt would make it easy for us to ‘get’, yet it seems to be one of the things we struggle with most – Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your mind *ok… tick* and love your neighbor as you love yourself. Whop, there it is. So Chantelle, you’re saying, I need to love everybody always? Yep. Sounds like Jesus thinks we’re family!

So why do we find it easier to judge, get offended, call it quits, become bitter and cut people off when we don’t understand them, or they’re not quite like us? Hmmm.. When I was a child, my parents would discipline me when I did something that wasn’t acceptable. When I hit 12 years old, I started to form my own ideas and perceptions about the world around me and even though some of these ideas weren’t the same as my parents they didn’t cut me off or judge me, they understood ‘she’s growing up.’ What if we’re all just growing up?

Ephesians 4:1-3 Says ‘I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patiencebearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’[ESV]

So, walking in a worthy manner looks like love that seeks not its own, with no strings attached, it looks like staying in unity so that when people look in and see a community of ‘believers’ they see people with differing opinions, views, walks of life and backgrounds yet find us living in such a rich love that none of those things even have a say in the matter?!

In our youth community many people would come, and then mention to us how wrapped up, seen, known, and loved without judgement they felt in our family. It’s the one thing we really ran after as a group of people. But it didn’t come easy, in fact it was costly. But a price worth paying. It’s the kind of thing that needs to be fought for, it requires risk, the kind of risk that the people around you might see something ugly and be faced with the choice – ‘do I really love this person without condition? Will I continue to call out the gold and destiny even when they’re not believing it yet?’ If we’re in Jesus, the answer must be yes.

John 13:35 says ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.’

When people look in, are they seeing a community – a family that genuinely loves each other? We actually have the power to make others feel safe around us! Through being entirely authentic and genuine in our love, we give others permission to be free in our presence – to be the best version of themselves possible. Yes. Love does that, but it also needs to grow in family. Where else can love be tested and proved genuine? It’s in family – the everyday testing where we have the opportunity to grow good fruit. 😉

‘Love looks like something.’ – Heidi Baker

Love, family, looks like something; and although I’ve had to say one of the hardest goodbyes yet, I have never been so wrapped up, and felt the embrace of family as I have now. The amount of phone calls while I’ve been on the road to ‘check if you’re still awake’, the messages, the song recommendations from students, the financial surprises, the airplane tickets from our youth family (just to make sure I come home) wow. And it hasn’t stopped! And I love it. I know at any moment, I could walk back into any one of their homes and be received as though no time had been spent apart. Our hearts vulnerable and open, willing to lay our souls bare before one another to love and be loved – just like Christ loves the church.

Love is large and incredibly patient. Love is gentle and consistently kind to all. It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Love does not brag about ones achievements nor inflate its own importance. Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honour. Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Love joyfully celebrates honestly and finds no delight in what is wrong. Love is a safe place of shelter for it never stops believing the best for others. Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up. Love never stops loving. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a) [TPT]

[Selah]

Wait. Stop there for a minute, go back and read that verse again, except this time, insert YOUR name in every place it says the word ‘love’.

Doesn’t that feel good? You know why? Because it’s the truth about you. Even if it is a faith statement for now 😉 So if you’re up for it, go back and read it AGAIN, except this time, insert the word ‘family.’

[Brisbane]

Switching gears; I believe this is where the rubber meets the road. A space where the ‘I love you’s are tested. In family.

Although we aren’t together anymore, although we’re not on the same team or ministry anymore, although you’re not officially pastoring my kid anymore – did you mean it when you said you love me?

Is a family no longer a family just because one person moves location? Was Jesus no longer the Son of God when he left Heaven and came to earth? If I close my eyes does it mean the sky is made of skittles?

No. Of course not.

Family is family no matter the distance, and though I can’t comfort you with a hug, or be in the room when life gets hard, or be there to take photos when you win, it doesn’t make us any less family. It just looks a little different in this season than it did in the last. Instead of a hug, it might be facetime. It might mean surprise visits, hand written letters, consistent communication. But whatever it looks like – it looks like connection.

There is a level of investment required to sustain a family – a deep connection, the kind of ‘I’d die for you’ connection. It takes time, vulnerability, trust, confidentiality, communication, learning how to best love each other and choose to hang in there and allow conflict to strengthen relationship instead of damage it.

I can’t change my DNA, and I wouldn’t want to either. I love that I’m forever connected to my family. Just the same when we were born again into the family of God, we received His DNA and we’re now forever connected to each other. Like it or not… some of you know too much.

Am I an expert? Not by any means (just ask my family). Will I get it right every time? Probably not. Am I learning? Yes – I am committed to it. Forever a student of family, and yes, I do love you.

To the family of God, particularly my Brisbane and extended family.

Love Chantelle.

Darwin, a New Stake in the Ground

My parents couldn’t have kid’s, they were told by every leading specialist that it was in fact impossible. They were baby Christians at the time, so they held onto hope. One day, my Dad, Papa Wayne, heard the audible voice of God telling him it was time to move. It didn’t make sense in the natural – much like Noah building an ark for the coming flood due to rain.. Back then they had never seen water fall from the sky! Madness!

Mainly it didn’t make sense because they were debt free at the time, and moving would require a loan. But. They did. 5 minutes down the road to be exact, but our kind Father was teaching them something..

Blessing for obedience.

The very first night they were in their new home, 5 minutes down the road from their old one, they fell pregnant with me. Praise the LORD! I’m so thankful they listened and obeyed as I’m sure many of you are – because you have ME! (I know, I know, you love me)..

Deuteronomy 28 says it well, ‘If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God…You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country… You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out…’

So from a very young age, I have valued obedience to the call and the voice of God, so when he says something, I put a stake in the ground and camp there until I hear Him say anything else. I’m stubborn like that (in a good way of course). I have seen first-hand the fruit that comes from obeying his voice which leads me to this, I have recently heard our Kind Father ask me if I would venture on the next leg in my journey with Him..

and I said yes.

In November last year, Holy Spirit started prompting conversations about Darwin, at the time I believed it was just to visit for a week or two to see what was happening in our Glory City campus and bring it back to Brisbane because I knew God had planted me and given me an assignment. However, when the New Year rolled over, I literally felt the a shift in the spirit, I felt like God had moved on without me and I was somewhere I should no longer be (I know God never leaves me but that’s the best way I can explain the feeling). I cried for 3 days because I didn’t understand at the time what was happening, it was the worst feeling ever! But during the course of the next few days, Father reminded me of the conversations I had shelved about Darwin and thus the conversation begun.

I’m the kind of person, I need to hear God for myself, I need to know it’s his best plan for me, not just Chantelle’s plan, or man’s plan, but God’s plan, God’s plan.. *sings* So I asked God for confirmation, I told Him I wouldn’t be leaving this place, this stake in the ground unless He confirmed to me that it was in-fact the right thing to do.

That night I had a dream, the dream was nothing parallel to a move to Darwin, but upon going through the dream dictionary and pulling apart the dream, He was clearly showing me it was the right thing to do. So I then brought this to my parents, my mentor’s and people who speak into my life – just to make sure I wasn’t crazy.. and what do you know? They all unanimously felt it was right.

It’s not easy for people like that to encourage me to obey, because we’re family – and not just by blood. So for them it means having to say goodbye, that’s hard! But at the same time it also means they get to see me fly. It’s not easy for me either! Over this past year, the Father has been teaching me about family, and what it means to really love and lay our lives down for one another. On this journey, I’ve found friends that have become family, people I know will be forever friends – I have to say goodbye to them too! That’s hard.

The biggest part of my family journey has been leading the Glory City Youth movement. It’s been such an honour and a privilege to have been able to watch each of you grow, learn, risk, receive and become more yourselves, and more like Jesus than ever before! Being able to do life with you guys has been the biggest blessing in my life, with you, I’ve learned to be vulnerable, that I don’t have to be ok all the time, that I can be real – but most of all (and best if you ask me) become more childlike. Let loose. Have fun and be a kid again. I’m so thankful for every single young person, leader and family that’s been a part of this journey to date!

I also know, that family doesn’t always mean we are in the same physical location, sometimes families live across different cities – even countries, but it doesn’t make us any less family. I will be calling, messaging, commenting and loving my family (extended) whenever I can, whenever I think of you. You have each buried yourselves deep in my heart and I’m also excited to see some of you step up into your own destinies with the new space you will have to dream new dreams!

I love each of you dearly, so I am sad but also excited. Excited to see what the next season will look like for me – and for you. To see how you too, will fly. I have no idea what lies ahead, what I will be doing, where I will live, but I trust the One who does. Because He’s kind.

I will be venturing on a big road trip on July 2nd! So let’s celebrate, love each other and take lots of photos to remember how good we looked in 2018.

So cheers, to putting a new stake in the ground, and giving you a reason to visit Darwin.

 

Hebrews 11: 8- By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God. 

Jesus, Jesus: Mother’s Day 2018

Mothers Day

Before I was even born,

You cried tears of desperate love as every month brought blood.

I couldn’t begin to imagine the Mother you would become,

Not just to me, and your little one – but every young heart needing love.

 

They say within a name is a world,

Describing the very nature of that person.

Well you my dear are light, peace, joy, understanding, mercy, safety and love.

 

You believe in the one whom has your attention,

You see Jesus in the eyes of the face you’re beholding.

You gently comfort the heart of the one who is hurting,

You call out gold as you partner with the Lord who is molding.

 

When I was young, I was afraid of the poking and prodding

But you held my head in your hands and told me to cry out ‘Jesus, Jesus’

Even back then, you built a foundation for me in the hard times,

Fast forward 20 years and I would draw on that foundation for strength –

In times of loneliness, heartbreak, distress, anger and injustice.

‘Jesus, Jesus, Jesus…’

 

When I was young and misunderstood,

You taught me that ‘it’s better to be a good friend than to have one.

Back then, you were teaching me unconditional love –

love like Jesus, without strings attached, without needing it back.

 

In my life today, the world can see the evidence of your love.

In the way – I – love people, the way I comfort, the way I smile.

People feel safe with you. People feel safe with me too.

People leave you running to the arms of the Father,

Because you are such a good Mother.

 

I had to learn how to share you. I didn’t like it at first.

Or second or third or fourth.

But I started to see how selfish of me it would be, to keep you to myself.

See dear, you have worlds inside of you, and the world needs what’s inside of you.

 

They too need to know that no matter what, you won’t change the way you love them.

You will still see the Jesus when they don’t feel so lovely.

You will hold their head in your hands and teach them to cry out ‘Jesus, Jesus.’

Knowing one day, they won’t need you, but they will always need Him.

 

Your love, a mothers comfort, has held me through so many moments,

Through heart break & through victory and I want you to know this.

It meant the world to me when you saw how deeply I was hurting,

Yet you wanted me to be happy so you let me keep on going.

And when my heart finally broke, each time due to my own decision,

You sat quietly with me and let me sob, moan and grieve.

I know in those moments, it was you that cried out ‘Jesus, Jesus’ for me.

 

There are times I look back on and see,

Just how deep is your love for me.

When I left for Jarkarta ‘Mum, that’s where the Lord needs me to be!’

And you let me go.

Breathe in, breathe out. ‘Jesus, Jesus.’

 

 

In your day to day, you’ve showed me how to choose connection,

To choose love and give up my need to be right, my need to fight.

You taught me to keep my heart right, to quickly forgive for the sake of my own heart,

Even when the injustice done towards me, caused your own heart to hurt.

‘We won’t pray until you’re ready to forgive..’

‘Jesus.. Jesus.’

Back then, and even now at times its hard,

but I find it gets quicker and shorter in-between my moments of pain and freedom.

You taught me that it’s my privilege to love no matter how I am treated,

And at the end of my life I know people will be able to say

‘She never changed the way she loved me.’

Not everyone will know, but those who know you will say it’s true,

That a big part of this in me, is because of you.

 

You are so patient and kind.

You nurture – everyone.

You are generous beyond compare.

You love and keep on loving.

You pursue.

You bring joy where there’s been deep sorrow.

You allow people to be raw.

You are creative.

You are bold.

You are strong.

You are fire.

You are passion.

You are teacher.

You hear the voice of the Father.

You bring hope to dry places.

You bring light and life.

You add colour.

You are righteous.

You are Holy.

You are peace.

You are wisdom.

You are fun.

You never change your mind about people.

You are constant.

You are steady.

You are wild.

You are free.

You are everything the Father hoped you would be.

You make people feel safe with you.

You look just like the Father, which is why we all come to you.

 

Sharon is large and incredibly patient. Sharon is gentle and consistently kind to all. She refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else. Sharon does not brag about her achievements or inflate her own importance. Sharon doesn’t traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek her own honor. Sharon is not easily irritated or quick to take offense. Sharon joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong. Sharon is a safe place of shelter for she never stops believing the best for others. Sharon never takes failure as defeat, for she never gives up. Sharon never stops loving.

2 Corinthians 13:4-8

You, have done very well, you have become love. I believe at the end of our lives, the Father will ask us if we learned to love – and you have not only learned how to, but you’ve demonstrated and taught the world around you how to love as well. There is so much more I could say about you, but if the world catches wind, Ill have no time with you!

I love you so much Mum. You are one of a kind. My best friend.

Happy Mother’s Day.

To Know, & To Be Known.

Family

Jonathan David Helser says,

‘The more Heaven comes to earth, the more earth looks like family.’

“Let me give you a new command: Love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognize that you are my disciples—when they see the love you have for each other.” John 13:34-35

Family, the climax of Heaven revealed in creation – love. Yet somehow the deep affection the Father desired His people to have for one another has been skewed, distorted and tainted. We’ve been taught that we need to have boundaries around our hearts to protect us from what could happen, ‘I wouldn’t want my brother to get the wrong idea’ or ‘what if I cause my sister to stumble? Or even ‘What if we fall into sin?’ Yet – that belief system by default implies that we are not assuming the people around us are walking in righteousness or their God-given nature!

We have been created with this innate desire for family – to know, and be known, to love without reserve or fear. Whether it’s acknowledged, or if it’s pushed down in an attempt to ‘be ok without it’ we have all been created for family because we’ve been created in the image of our Heavenly Father. We long to know the answer to the question ‘Do you really want to know me? Do you value me for who I am, or just what I can do for you? Do you really want to know me?  If I open up and show you my heart, will you receive me? Or will you run away?’

I am a youth worker, and part of my job is walking with the young people to help them carry out community service orders. The amount of times I’ve had conversations with them where they’ve revealed ‘I just wish Mum or Dad had more time for me..’ is heartbreaking. I’ve watched as a young man has been devastated for a mothers’ lack of being present, asking the question ‘why can’t you just be a better Mum?’. The Fathers design for humanity was always to be loved and adopted into family, and so fairly, this is the one area I see the enemy going after more fiercely than any other.

I’ve always been one to love deeply and quickly, I was the kid who ran to the side of the friend who’d fallen and skinned his knee, the one who stopped for the lonely or left out. Yet somehow over time, I learned that loving deeply can hurt – I mean really hurt, and more than just a skinned knee.

I was told ‘Chantelle, you need to protect your heart, otherwise you’ll always get hurt!’ and so I began to build walls, not realizing that in protecting myself, I was also keeping love out.

Someone who quickly became family is my little sister, Areta. A beautiful creative, a compassionate friend who snuck past my walls and showed me what family could be. We met in Indonesia when I was on the mission field serving in a high school. The only Aussie there who understood my humour and laughed at all my jokes when no one else ‘got it.’ We went through life together. We would laugh uncontrollably, dance like lunatics in the shops, see movies every weekend, pray and debrief about life. She knew what would make me cry, what got me ticking, what was important to me, and I knew the same for her. I would lay down my life for her still today, because she is buried deep within my heart.

This past weekend, I got to witness a dream come true for her – competing in the Australian Hip Hop International competition which would send her and the crew to world’s if they won. I knew she would smash the choreography and ‘wow’ the judges, but what I didn’t expect to witness was the depth of family that’s been cultivated within her crew and the entire dance community.

Before the performance, I met individuals, her friends, people who are important to her in this season of her life; but what I witnessed after blew me away. Her crew ‘Kingdom Culture’ laid it all out there and didn’t just dance, but left their hearts on the stage with many weeping at the end of the performance.

I came outside to meet them afterwards and walked over to a dance circle where they were just having fun –celebrating each other, loving each other. One would jump in the middle and pour out their heart through dance – movement, and the entire family would celebrate them for who they are and what they bring. The whole crew would cheer, shout and holler at their family member who was given permission to shine. There was no competition for they understood, we are family and we’re all needed. Once one had finished dancing, the whole circle would move and surround another family member, celebrating them and encouraging them to step out and shine. It was beautiful. They see each other. They know each other – deeply, and despite the risk of pain, they choose to stay connected, they choose relationship, they choose love.

They choose family.

I walked away profoundly impacted – seeing the desire of the Fathers heart for his family, his kids. Which leaves a heart provoking question – what about us? In our busy western culture, I’ve noticed we’ve sacrificed family to the demands of work / ministry life. But what if this was never meant to be? What if we were created to do life together, to know and be known by the people around us? To boldly open our hearts to one another, as the righteousness of Christ – without it being tainted by the world’s view of ‘love’?

In my own life, as I’ve begun to understand the high value of family in the Kingdom of God, I’ve seen that I am the best version of Chantelle when my heart is open and close with my family. I need them, so much. Over the past year I have intentionally cultivated a deeper relationship with my earthly father and this has directly impacted my emotional + spiritual health and growth as well.

While it’s not possible for everyone to have this kind of relationship with their natural parents, it highlights the need for spiritual family in the church! We need you! We need what you carry, we need to know the miles your feet have walked and how you’ve become the woman or man of God you are today! We need spiritual Mothers and Fathers to adopt us and bring us into family so we can all experience the richness of pure love within the Kingdom – so we can love you back, and bury you within our hearts!

I believe there is a level of love – the Fathers heart – that can only be experienced within the paradigm of family. What if, instead of building walls ‘just in-case’ the one we are loving ‘misinterprets’ our love, we chose to believe that we are in-fact righteous. That there really isn’t anything impure left in the hearts of our brothers and sisters that we need protection from? What if we began to open our hearts with holiness – trusting the God in us, and the God in each other?

This kind of life has the power to bring out the best in the people around us, this kind of love causes others to begin to see themselves for their God given, created value and not what the world has told them they are. What if, like Kingdom Culture, we celebrated one another and encouraged each other to step out and shine?

Its time we stop shying away from cultivating deep relationships for fear of pain or rejection. It’s time we know each other – deeply, and despite the risk of pain, choose to stay connected, choose relationship and choose love.

It’s time the world knows us for our love. (John 13:34-35)