Faith

Gratitude: The Cure For What Ails You!

Over the last decade, my body has proven to be snitch for all the wonderful things that come along with family, ministry, and age. One tell tell sign is an eye twitch that vibrates under pressure filled moments. Yes, it’s quite obnoxious and yes, I’ve also learned to appreciate the fact that the twitch is telling me to slow down in that moment (insert eye roll because who has time to slow down). Not too long ago, after an intense week of life, I was exhausted and not just physically but also emotionally and spiritually. My husband often reminds me that we are in a marathon not a sprint, so doing things with the end in mind will often cause us to slllloooooowww doooowwwwn and take on an eternal perspective. This inward hustle propels me forward into life, creativity and work and frankly any illustration that has to do with long periods of running frustrates me, so many times I thank him for his reminder and carry on with my task list and teams of people. Then again my body is there reminding me that he’s right (yet again!) and that the hustle will always be there. With my husband’s wisdom, I’ve come to yearn for the quiet and slowed down periods because it forces me to reexamine and cross examine all that I have been given and how good my Heavenly Father has been to me. 

Whatever stress has brought me, which usually is never good, is always confronted by gratitude. From there it dies and withers on the vine. Gratitude, when embraced with largeness and aggression will always suppress the things that ail me…ALWAYS! That person who disappointed me? I’m now counting the many ways they’ve blessed me and stretched my faith to rely on God, not man/woman. That situation that overwhelms me? I’m now declaring out loud how grateful I am for God’s truth and promises. That physical challenge or setback? I’m now writing down how many times God has proven His healing faithfulness in my life and others. 

When gratitude abounds, what I have becomes enough and God becomes
the “God of more than enough.”

You see, gratitude is the cure for what ails us, our communities, churches, culture, and global landscape. It keeps us humble, positive, encouraging, lively, engaged, and ultimately unstoppable. Gratitude shifts the landscape of our hearts and minds while the storms of life rage against us. It’s the loud voice in a hopeless and hustling world that is never fully satisfied. It’s the fuel that ignites relationships and builds unity amongst individuals. It keeps marriages intact, churches acknowledging they are on the same team, and life sweet when we’ve been dealt a bitter hand. Gratitude changes everything, but first it softens our hard heart.

PSALM 107:1 – “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!”

My friends, what ails you in this holiday season? Acknowledge it, embrace it and then ask the Holy Spirit to reveal THE good things that will come about because of it. If there is ONLY one thing you can find, you’ve found the lifeline of gratitude from where hope can breath once again. You are loved by a good good God that will never ever leave or fail you.

With all my heart (and twitching eye),

 -JHuff

Struggle & Strength: Cultivating Intentional Friendships

Super VULNERABLE post: In this season of planting a church and pastoring. My friendships got caught in the current….and maybe my heart did too. Coming from a long line of ministry families, you see, hear, experience and feel the cost of leading at the expense of relationships. I saw people who loved my family, walk away when things got tough, or when we they experienced the “humanity” of their leaders or who decided another church was a better fit for them. None of it was wrong, but neither was it easy. Watching other leaders (who are further ahead in life), I see some who are very quiet about their life outside of the Sunday in attempt to maintain some privacy or perhaps have experienced the sting of “why them and not me” moments with their sphere. Others hide nothing including the raw and real moments of parenting, failures, laughter, marriage, etc. I’ve respected them all and their choice of how they live their life before the Lord and others. In the struggle to use wisdom in all things with relationships (no joke, I ask for it from God everyday!), my prayer has been that I’m always found to BE a good friend before ever saying I HAVE good friends. It’s refreshing others, long before we stop and ask  “Am I being refreshed”! I’ve also realized I haven’t always been found to be a good friend and that our current landscape of women struggle to find their footing with other females. It’s what set my heart and feet on course to launch #GirlGang and the “Love them” portion of our mission statement. How do we love others properly when we don’t feel like we are loved? How do we refresh others when our soul feels dry and empty. Another tough, but good question! 

Because of this honoring and sobering season of ministry, #GirlGang will always be birthed out of the heart conversations I have with God, and truth be told, I’ve talked a lot with Him recently about friendships; mine and others who have lost their footing or who can celebrate them well. From those conversations, our new focus for our Fall season is timely titled, “Struggle & Strength: Cultivating Intentional Friendships”. Why? Because making friends is hard; cultivating them is even harder. How do we live authentically and then manage the hurt when it comes? How do we give generously and yet have healthy expectations in friendships? This season is exciting and scary all at the same time, but we are about to embark down a road that is filled with tears, joy, laughter, love and forgiveness TOGETHER! The road might mean saying “I’m sorry, I need to do better” and also saying, “Let’s start over”. It’s also about accepting love, but also learning how to give love to those with no strings attached.

Lovelies, we can do this, and I’m with you every step of the way. 

With all my heart,

J-Huff

PS  – Want to know more about #GirlGang and join our online community? Email: Hello@GirlGang.live

Meant To Be!

“I believe in Christ like I believe in the sun, not because I can see it, but by it I can see everyone else.”
-C.S. Lewis

 

I’ve always known who God was.

I wish I remembered the first time He was introduced to me, the very moment that someone told me that somewhere in the sky, lived someone so infinite and great that He created the very sky that He held, that He would send His perfect son to Earth to die on a cross to save us from our sins. That His love was so unconditional and so perfect it illuminated life on everything that it touched, kissed, or sought. That by loving God and accepting Him into your heart, you would spend eternity with Him in Heaven. I wish I was remembered what that felt like. I wonder if I felt a fire ignite in my soul or if I pondered eternity or just thought, “Huh!” and continued on with my day.

I’ll never really know.

All I knew was that God was there, omnipresent, but still so unbelievably far away. And because He was so distant, I blatantly ignored His gentle knocks on my heart time and time again. I had grown up going to Catholic masses every Sunday. Spirituality was not a thing, routine was. If you stood for the reading of the Gospel, took communion, and blessed yourself with Holy Water on the way out, you had done your part. I remember so innocently learning about the Ten Commandments, the disciples, and even who Jesus was, but the connection fell through every time without fail.

So, instead of experiencing God’s unending love and understanding, I just put Him in a box. I labeled it “Who I Should Be,” and threw it in the corner. Then, I just continued to unpack the piled up, dusty cases that would portray who I thought I was. If I opened up that box, the Jesus one, I would have to put on an entirely new suit. God had too many rules. I wanted to have premarital sex and party on the weekends with my friends and have passionate, righteous opinions about intellectual topics that I knew nothing about. I didn’t want to be different. And because I strived for lack of individuality, camouflage was the fruit I produced.

I became the same girl who went to the same parties, who had the same boyfriend, who had the same sex, who had the same panic attack every month, who made the same mistake of placing her identity in another human being, who went through the same break-up, who searched for the same validation in all of the same ugly places, who cried out to the same God who she believed looked down on her with shame and disappointment. The same girl who had disposed of, used up, and torn through every single same box that told her who she thought she was.

Until nothing was left but the One labeled “Who I Should Be” in the corner. The one that told her not who she should be, but who she was meant to be.

I slipped that robe on in desperation. I put it on because I had nothing left. And even still, my whole world changed.

For a long time, I wish God had not been my last resort. I wish I had pursued Him first and found His truth amongst the mess. I wish I had had some magical encounter with Him in the midst of my haze. But I didn’t. I took every possible route, fully well knowing that they were wrong turns, convinced that there was no way a God with rules was a God who loved the girl who broke them, before finally turning around to meet Him face to face on the same road that I thought lead me so very far away. His feet as dirty as mine from the muddy path. He was still always there. Waiting patiently. Pursuing me the entire time.

For the very first time, God was not just this being who existed and created the Universe, but a Heavenly Father, still the Creator who spoke light into the world, who shook oceans at the sound of his voice, but the Father who sent a son who died to save me from the very sins I commit. It was this God, the Author and Perfecter, the Alpha and Omega, this same God that created and loved and chose me. Me. Regardless of everything I had done, despite the mess that my life had become.

And because I had nothing left, I found this God with my eyes wide open.

When I could finally see God for who He was and not the obscure idea I told myself was truth- about Him, myself, and the rest of the world-everything changed.

I am endlessly loved. I am unremittingly sought. I am undeniably, irrevocably, and forever devotedly His.

 

-Maeghan DiMaggio
2/15/18

The Sweetest Blessing of Serving!

This past Sunday, I preached on my most favorite subject: serving! (You can watch it HERE!) With so many perspectives and angles to communicate this life-altering way of living, I landed on our greatest example of Jesus Christ Himself.

He became our WHY, our mission.

He showed us the HOW, our strategy.

And that left the WHO, our people.

In that time, there was no social media platform or networking events to find your “who” or tribe of people who are on the receiving end of serving. Jesus took lots of walks, invited 12 unique and imperfect men, and they said yes to following Jesus with their whole life.

He didn’t stop there. He cultivated a relationship of mentorship and fellowship that was centered around God’s will for His life and their lives. Jesus knew serving was an adventure best accomplished in the midst of a variety of personalities and temperaments, while constantly reminding them of a God’s incredible plan for their lives.

In the messy moments, He served them.

In the betrayal moments, He served them.

In the miraculous moments, He served them.

His serving had no boundaries and knew no limits. Why? Because it was His constant act of love for His Father poured out onto His Disciples. Love has a name: It’s Jesus. Love also has a way: It’s serving. When people often struggle with the act of serving, it’s because they wrestle with Jesus’ final act of love accomplished on the cross. If He became our “WHY”, then the world becomes our “WHO”!

John 13:18 – “…I know so well each one of you I chose.”

Jesus said these words to His Disciples immediately following His act of washing their feet (illustrative for serving). They were His WHO; the people He knew so well and that He chose.

Isn’t it powerful to know that even in His commands, Jesus still gives us the power to choose Him, choose serving, and choose those you serve?

Who are you serving? Have you chosen your people yet, your tribe, your gang, your group, your team, your community, your church, your home and your spiritual family?

Most Christians who choose Jesus and a personal relationship with Him, will often choose to sacrifice time, talent, treasure to serve the vision or mission of the organization. The one part they often forget is the sweetest blessing of the serving; they become your people. Yes, you will stand at a door and greet people. Yes, you will even open your home to host a group. But when life gets demanding, or the world gets discouraging, we often forget the power of our choice to serve others will ultimately become our BIGGEST blessing in the form of our community.

Jesus knew His call of serving and obeyed…and so the Father blessed him with 12 men who loved him well and followed Him beyond His death on the cross.

You’ve discovered your WHO: Jesus
You’ve said yes to the HOW: serving
Now it’s time to embrace your WHO: your community.

Welcome Home,

Jessica Huffman
Pastor, servant, friend

Christmas At Pneuma 2017

As I sit here in the quiet all alone on Christmas morning (I hear the toilet flush, so one child must be stirring), sipping my coffee, I scroll through pictures of Pneuma’s first Christmas service. My eyes water and I hold back the tears. I’m overwhelmed. Let me add in, since my husband spends most of his time OFF social media, WE are overwhelmed! We never imagined but always believed that our church would be here in just a short 9 months!

Yesterday we held our first Christmas service and the people and teams were magical. Where could we ever begin to say “thank you” but “thank you”! You hold our heart, Pneuma and I pray that Jesus’ holds your heart with every task fulfilled, service accomplished, gathering held, group attended and hosted, message heard, worship engaged in, practice committed too, coffee poured, child loved, team member recruited, hug given, tear cried, prayer extended, cafetorium set-up, trailer loaded, meeting held, call taken or made, email read and sent, and ultimately our people loved.

Psalm 66:5 comes to my heart, “Come and see what God has done, his awesome deeds for mankind.” I’m substituting “Pneuma” for “mankind” and my eyes water yet again (36 has a way of making you cry a little bit more: hormones?)

These are just a few snapshots of people and moments that are a REFLECTION of this amazing church and community God has given to us to pastor. You truly are God’s people and Jason and I GET to do this everyday, every week! SO MANY not pictured including our amazing Kingdom Kids team, our Tech Arts team, our Welcome Team and so many more.

We love you…we are committed to you, we are so honored to lead and love you.

Here’s to the greatest year ever but not YET!

-Pastors Jason & Jessica Huffman