Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bienvenidos: Comfort and Joy

When explaining to my non-Spanish speaking children that  'bien' means 'well' or 'good' and that 'venidos' is a form of the verb 'venir' or 'to come,' I told them that 'Bienvenidos' is a way to say to those who come through our front door, 'We wish you well as you're coming into our home.'

Later I began to think about this learning curve we're in as a family:  committing to a whole new level of hospitality that includes being a safe haven for each other, allowing each other to be powerful and free (no control, bc that's not how God loves us AT ALL-- He's ALL ABOUT free will), keeping our love ON/managing our behavior in such a way that we self govern/adjust our choices to where we extend care, compassion, and grace towards the weaknesses we're discovering (in ourselves AND in others).   

I was tempted to turn my love off today when I was feeling overwhelmed with fear and pain.  I asked Papa how to be 'Bienvenidos' about the people and circumstances that were scaring/hurting me, and Holy Spirit began singing a Christmas carol over me.  He's so freaking FUN to reveal the bottom line of true hospitality in this festive, creative way: 


Take a load off, Graham Cooke says.

The classic holiday lyrics actually say 'GOD REST YOU,' which is a totally different concept.


1.  The gentle, humble, joyful heart of Jesus resides in me, and 

2.  Therefore, bc He imputes to me Christ's righteousness, I AM CAPABLE OF BEING MATURE enough to return to joy from every negative, fear based emotion;  I'm also led by His Spirit to exactly which resources He's provided in every situation, to assist me in my commitment to de-funk. 


To be trustworthy as one who's hospitable (in ways that aren't just about beautiful decor and matching dishes) it's critical to be an encourager and not a naysayer or a downer, I've had to learn the hard way...  to hold each other's hands up, bc doing life is full of deplenishing experiences, and we need the 'one anothers' to get the joy centers of our brains firing again, so we can see clearly the destiny we're called to get back on the rails of. 

I heard Him singing about saving us all from Satan's power when we have gone astray... Wow. That's what being a safe person looks like.

At the end, I heard the Lord singing over and over the true heart of 'Bienvenidos':




Jesus, teach me to be more than Martha Stewart-esque in my understanding of how to make YOU famous for being THIS kind of spiritually and emotionally nourishing hospitality through us.  We want the culture we're building in this home to be a little more about warmth and refuge each day, and a little less about people joining forces with the enemy against each other. 

Holy Spirit, you are bienvenidos here, come flood this place and fill the atmosphere.  Your glory, God, is what our hearts long for, to be overcome by Your presence, Lord.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Meditate on These Things

Summer jammies mean my legs and my 9 mo. old baby's are bare when we get to snuggle nurse in bed on rainy mornings.

1. The soles of his warm feet- relaxed and outta fuel from lots of crawling and pulling up practice, 
2. His scratchy, sleepy sweet, baby manly voice 

Even though I have sticky notes in my mind of the myriad of this life enterprise's very real, legitimate problems (that desperately need time-sensitive solutions), today I choose to slow down just enough to meditate on whatsoever things are pure, lovely, and of good report.  

This professional journey I've been on, since 2 pink lines miraculously appeared on a pregnancy test 2 decades ago (and I began slowly ditching the feminism that culture had indoctrinated/tempted me to be about) has been adventurous, to say the least, but God's best, beyond a shadow of a doubt.  The life Holy Spirit compelled me to embrace instead- a Titus 2:3-5 lifestyle- became a mandate for me.   The right kind of peace didn't exist outside of giving the best of my energy/creativity to anything but this 'greenhouse for young plants' I manage, while orchestrating the way the many moving parts of this home/entrepeneurial education model connect. Ultimately, I wouldn't have this privilege without my wise husband, who  works courageously for all of us to have the freedom to spend our time learning, building, and incrementally being released into our destinies, 

Mandate defined: an authoritative command or instruction: a commission/authorization to administer a territory (in my case: HOME as the central focus of my ministry, as manager of my husband's estate).  So I became the CEO of nurturing, nest building, and equipping our children to launch and manifest the beauty of God, for the purpose of Kingdom expansion. 

3 noteworthy things I don't wanna forget from this past week, as an act of obedience to Philippians 4:8, when the hard parts of my life erratically feel impossible to conquer:

1. I forwarded this to our first child who's now fully flown from the nest, to encourage her with an 'atta girl'- an observation from a young pastor who saw noteworthy fruit in our beloved Emma: 

2.  A young manager of a retail store Abbie was in recently noticed a 'glow of Godliness' (his words) on her, as she enjoyed shopping with her 2 little sisters, and the cross ring on her finger clued him in a little as to why she stood out amongst the crowd.  

3.  While we have bodies in this household that are supported by medical 'crutches,' after cancer and other life threatening illnesses left us with permanent anatomical changes, none of us are facing death in the same way that the young people are in the new film 'The Fault in Our Stars.'  We all live with His borrowed breath, Voddie Baucham says, but this family is well oxygenated, and free from levels of physiological suffering at the levels that many around us are dealing with.

So this week/month is all about putting the debilitating parts of my world I can't seem to gain traction on, on a shelf - trusting Holy Spirit to resource us with all we need for life and godliness in His perfect ways and timing (maybe by expanding the margins of the hands we DO have on deck?  Or in the form of addt'l favor to get our heads above water a little less strenuously, in a provisional sense?  Or perhaps like the Duggars' 'angels' who come rhythmically to fill in the blanks?) .  

This season is one to instead see the best, beautiful, praiseworthy things in this good life we're livin', rather than to let anxiety rule and reign, by letting the magnitude of this organization He destined me to manage, overtake me.

So, this season's agenda is do-able, in Jesus' name, and I can also choose the James 1 'count it all joy' attitude Shane challenged us with, as we gathered to kick off the week together this afternoon, because of the strength. mind, and righteousness of Christ imputed to me at the cross:

teeth coming in for the youngest (and a tiny tummy to begin transitioning to solid foods) 
and teeth that represent potential nerve damage being extracted, for the oldest son and daughters,
teeth being orthodontically adjusted for 3, 
(+ pain, swelling, & drool for old and young alike),
teeth cleaned and xrayed for all,
and teeth being crowned for both parents 
(Dang, that's a lotta teeth), 

a toddler who needs a little extra TLC when she gets back from time away from home, so we could focus on Abbie's post-op healing for a bit (+ a summer ahead of easing out of diapers),

hair and eye appts for a bunch of us,

academic lessons to plan and oversee for both upper and lower school students, 

a baptism lake party to plan for Jo before her dear friend moves to TN,

band rehearsals for an upcoming wedding to plan and execute,
and flower girl regalia to obtain, 
while we prep and recover from our annual getaway to Uncle Scott's beach house,

studio time for Abbie's second EP and an EP release party to plan for Jackson's first EP 'These Are Just Words,'

seeking Papa God's guidance on 'putting feet to' improvements in our domestic/office systems and logistics/routines/calendars, so less stress and increased efficiency can abound, leaving room for us to grow and become more proficient experts at being the goodness and love of God in all our relationships,

learning and modeling grace, honor, reverence and support for the diligent man at the helm of our ship (as a Kingdom business builder still very much in startup), and counting it all joy/fun as best as we can, so he'll be less distracted and more encouraged by our roles in his life.

I choose to feel uber blessed for the privilege of being the 'conductor' of this orchestration of gifted people who live under our roof- people who genuinely love this Great King who gave His life away for us, lovers of Jesus who wanna represent Him more accurately each day. 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Cold Mountain/Abbie as a Visionary Daughter

 From Danny Silk's Loving on Purpose' Facebook page:
'Only vision can give purpose to your pain, which enables you to endure it and reach your goal.'
Christ demonstrated this incredible power of vision to help us endure;  'for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross.'  Keeping your love on is no different.  It requires vision."

I stayed up quite late on C'mas Eve processing this very concept with Abbie (and this was BEFORE Tate got sick, and THEN our sugary SJ and sweet Jojie needed lots more nocturnal nurturing than usual) . Victoria Abigail is a Christmas gift to all who know her, as she keeps her love on in ways that raise the bar for all of us who get to live life with her 24/7.  She's a daughter who 'looks like her Heavenly Daddy,' (this 'lookin' like our papa' simple theological concept that Dawna Da Silva mentions so often is changing me, big time).  

Even though there are times when well-meaning people's reactions to her choice to be joyfully serving her earthly father full time hurts, Abbie believes the amount of time between high school graduation and married life is shorter than most people realize.  She desires to be as equipped as possible to be a truly content support person/helpmeet, to her future husband, knowing he'll have an intensely missional lifestyle.  Being faithful to the various roles she plays in our life enterprise, as administrative assistant to multiple areas of her daddy's business, ministry, & estate oversight, is no small deal.  It's earning an apprenticeship style Ph.D. for Abbie, to prepare her for the life she'll build with a visionary husband of her own someday.  

This calling she hits the floor running with (365 days a year) is unfortunately not always revered, understood, celebrated, or encouraged, bc it's so extraordinarily counter-cultural, and outside of people's experiential grid.  Some of the sharpest professional women I know don't bear a fraction of the responsibilities our sweet Abbie gladly embraces for the Kingdom, inside AND outside our walls.  It's a great honor and an undeserved privilege that she's chosen to come alongside me as a younger, less sleep deprived, highly intelligent woman, to learn with me about God's desire to free us from the chains of our controlling, feministic tendencies, one day at a time.  A grown daughter who offers her gifts and talents to see her visionary dad's Biblical dreams come to pass is a treasure we don't take for granted. 

I watched 'Cold Mountain' with Shane for an at home date recently,  and the commitment Nicole Kidman's character displayed towards her father is one of the few pictures I've seen Hollywood paint of what Abbie's life is about.  A pioneer, in many ways, paving new territory.  Walking a narrow road, but enjoying it as God's best, even when it feels lonely at times, like it does for all women embracing Titus 2:3-5 as the mandate for single AND married womanhood.  The father on the film, Donald Sutherland (one of Shane's favorite actors),  was genuinely grateful for his visionary daughter's pure hearted devotion, exactly like Shane is about Abbie's.  For her, it's more than enough of a reward to be his delight, knowing she puts a smile on Jesus' face when she does so.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Remembering SJ's Beginnings

Today my pregnancy calendar nears the end of month 9.  It's day 241 of this roller coaster of a pregnancy with our beloved fourth son, Shane Gerald (SJ) Simmons.  I am 34 wks., 3 days pregnant today, and I can't buckle my own sandals.  :)   Abbie laughs often when I ask for help, mimicking the mom on 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' and says, 'Good thing you have ME to tie your SHOES!' in her most convincing Greek accent.

After a challenging night in the sleep dept., I awakened choosing gratitude for the jabs in my ribs/hips/pelvic bones, as well as the gastrointestinal disturbances that added to all of the OTHER reasons why sleep is evolving into the phase of preparation God designed, so I won't be freaked out when the erratic sleep cycles of 'babymooning' are upon me.  Regardless of how committed I'm learning to become, about nocturnal health, this is my generous Heavenly Father's way of gradually transitioning me to a place where 'laying down my life' for this new baby is less shocking than it would be if I slept perfectly before the birth.

While drafting an email to friends after rolling my awkward body out of bed today, I stumbled upon an email I penned on the day I learned that I was carrying SJ.  I share it below as a mile marker in our family history, and to remind myself that God is with us.  This is HIS GIG we do around here, doing all we know to do to equip our large number of offspring for the King's purposes. 

I sent it midday on Sat. AM, January 12, 2013 (we think this little man was conceived on Christmas Day), recruiting intercession and a band of cheerleaders to be the loving 'one anothers' the New Testament talks about.  I copied a text dialogue I'd been in earlier that morning as I sat with my mouth wide open, staring at 2 pink lines on a home pregnancy test and feeling VERY surprised, even a little weak, in the faith dept. 

See the following text dialogue between me and my precious, life-giving friend Michelle Patterson early this morning, as I sat in the bathroom with all my peeps asleep, trying to get my arms around some big news that was NOT in my planner (considering how hyper organized I am about my fertility monitor and commitment to 'stewardship' over my challenged 'earth suit'/physical body, post cancer):
'Chace:  Michelle, I'm expecting.  Due Sept 18.  Grateful to God for the estrogen surge;  processing how this changes our logistics and thoughts for the coming year slightly.  All I know is that He's decided this is best.  If He chose this for me, and His ways are higher than my pitiful (at times, wimpy-whiny-baby-brat) ways and thoughts, then I rejoice and feel happy that Annemarie is not the caboose, like we'd thought.  Love you.  
Michelle:  Wow wow wow! Another Simmons bringing the Kingdom to earth!!! Hallelujah!! So you are feeling good?
Chace:  THANK YOU FOR CELEBRATING WITH ME!  No one's up here yet, and of course the enemy wants to straddle me with mixed emotions, which is crazy, bc the bottom line is Kingdom (thanks, Michelle, for that simple-duh!-reminder I couldn't grasp at on my own, as I sit here in shock).
Michelle:  You mean you just found out?!?
Chace:  5 min before I texted you.  How cool that I felt safe texting you so early.  Wasn't sure who to tell.  You never know how many 'Kingdom' people will be tacky, when I'm legitimately in need of strength from Christ's body, in order to face this 'not necessarily about life' planet we live on with the news of my 10th child's conception.   I have a normal amount of humanity/humble concern about how I don't feel equipped AT ALL for this ginormous task/work load Jesus believes I can handle, no problem, with His Spirit steering my ship.
Michelle:  Wow, what an honor for me to know! Thank you for telling me! Now make no mistake, I have been stomping around this kitchen interceding for your overwhelmedness, that's a given!! What I am hearing Him say is that He LOVES YOU CHACE!!! And that He will never be motivated by any other force towards you but love. Even if we can't figure it...we will see that it is love! I will now go continue stomping for you!:):)
Chace:  Stomping is true community.
Michelle:  Fo sho
Chace:  Crying happy tears about His Love (and the honor of your friendship and stompfest).  Consecrated to Ellie Holcomb Pandora last night and it played Jenn Johnson's 'Come to Me,' which I've heard and loved a thousand times, but I was sitting on the kitchen floor sorting random bits and pieces of a bucket of things that needed to be put away (before I could face a Biblically sound version of Sabbath obediently, without having more work to face than I could emotionally bear on Sun. afternoon) after having been crying for an hour over getting the wind knocked out of me by one heavy child-training event after another all day, all week, all month :) .... and I LIFTED MY HANDS WHILE I SAT INDIAN STYLE, not knowing I had my 10th child in my womb, and just bawled tears of confidence in HIM...and then I started laughing at how hilarious it all really is.  My 'bon bon eating, gravy, one of two children, being redeeemed from a history of raging feminism, on-my way-to-law-school-for-Jesus resume, attempting to pull this craziness off for the glory of God.  The reporter that was at our house interviewing us and taking photos for the Waxahachie Now magazine yesterday will have an interesting twist on the story she titled 'Old School' for sure now.  :)
Michelle:  Wow!!! He is so amazing! And apparently absolutely capable of doing whatever He wants!! Wahoo! Of the increase of His government AND His peace, there shall be no end!!! Kiss kiss hug hug!! Dancey twirls!!'
So, friends, please pray...pray for that peace and confidence in our great God.  I've been reading a children's biography about Amy Carmichael, 'With Daring Faith,' and for the first time, I saw a connection between her battle with serious health challenges and mine.  The Lord's faithfulness to resource her with all of the things she needed to fulfill the motherhood mandate on her life enabled her to fulfill her vision/MY VISION, the KINGDOM EXPANSION plan.  He changed the world through her jacked up physical body, in spite of her discomforts, and I'm convinced today, in my spirit, that He's in the process of doing a very similar thing through me, for His glory."

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Relationships 101: Things I'm Learning About I Cor 13:7

I Cor 13:7
Love hopes all things, endures all things, believes all things'

It expects/pulls out/calls out the best in each other, when the old man wants to be offended... believing and communicating with a Joy filled attitude and a spiritual/emotional posture of,
'That's not who you are; that's not the person you long to become; the fruits of the Holy Spirit are available to you bc you don't live in the old covenant, but in the NEW!  The same Power that conquered the grave, and the same Jesus that can conquer all the spiritually dead habits you long to ditch, LIVES IN YOU!' 

The new man, as an act of faith, develops a filter of LIFE-GIVING thoughts, feelings, and communication through which he operates from a foundational belief that respectfully communicates to others:
"No matter what I say
No matter what I do
You will always be in charge of your choices.
Not me or my pure hearted, intellectually formed sales pitch,
Nor my persuasive, logic based arguments,
Not even turning myself into a pretzel,
or suffering from sleepless nights trying to 'figure out' how to convince you of the validity of my thoughts and ideas. "

In many, many instances, the Rest and Peace of God may not have actually led me to engage in any unsolicited dialogue about my ideas at all, had I paused - - -
and waited patiently for His Rest.

And if AT ANY TIME, what's coming out of me isn't
And self control,
Then the Holy Spirit's not in it..,
And I may not launch into my schpeel,
Not in text, email, or verbal words.
Not if I intend to be a Kingdom woman
and an ambassador of the Lord Jesus,
Put on this earth to worship God and glorify Him forever,
To join forces with the Lord as Healer
And not with the enemy against the Lord's Beloveds.

My time and energy is limited, and needing to be expended to strictly what the Holy Spirit HAS INDEED assigned me to, and not what the old man feels is 'responsible,' based on social/cultural norms,
or on a less-than-mature understanding of how to be relationally effective.

Unless I have been given specific Biblical authority over another person,
And/or unless they've specifically asked or released me to give my unsolicited input or thoughts,
Then as one walking in 
Rest and Peace, 
as well as Christlike Love,
I walk away-
and invest that time and energy the old man would've wasted on a choice that doesn't work, and often wounds,
and instead, I give that effort to a better choice that might bear fruit.

Nobody likes a commentary, a wise woman taught me once.   And even children know to steer clear of those we  call 'blow hards,' or what we used to call 'show offs.'  A religious spirit is the biggest turn off, even when the bearer of it is pure of heart in every way.  

Kindness is what leads us to repentance.
'Preach often, but rarely use words.'
So if I'm hurting, afraid, or saddled with anxiety,
I cannot
1. emotionally and behaviorally react to the old man's triggers
2. acknowledge the old man's companions of negative, unhealthy coping mechanisms (developed at some pt, in order to survive a difficult stretch of circumstances beyond one's control that brought confusion or pain, and caused habitual patterns of thoughtless, careless, knee jerk reactions),
nor can I
3. relapse/backslide into the old man's emotional habits that used to automatically respond to fear or hurt with defensiveness, micro management, control, lack of integrity, or trying to lead/govern another person one hasn't specifically been released to lead, all as self preservation techniques. 

The enemy sets traps/'hooks'/triggers for each of us to relapse/backslide to our individual 'old man' bag of coping skills/defense mechanisms that enabled us to survive in the past, and we start digging around in the different ways we used to automatically respond, but this new life in Christ is abundantly full of newer, healthier ways of coping and of ACHIEVING SUCCESS in every relationship we're in- even the ones we once felt the most insecure about. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Father's Day Eve

Happy Father's Day, Pa, Grandad, and Shane!

When I asked Shane to text an honoring description of the 2 men we're blessed to call our fathers, he replied:
'Hardworking men who set a tremendous example of industriousness and generosity,' and that's the bottom line. Our sons and daughters receive the trickle down effect of these generational blessings, and we don't take these strong character qualities in the men we each call 'Dad' for granted.

My dad, Tod Fridge, is pictured below at Christmas with Annemarie in red (she's changed so much in 6 mos.!). I honor him this Father's Day with a grateful heart, for choosing time with me on days he wasn't on the road with the intense job stress he embraced as an aviator (even pulling me out of school if need be, which made me feel so cherished), for opening up his home and pocketbook to my many children (when the timing is definitely not always convenient), and for praying faithfully with my mom over his children and grandchildren. My dad chose my mom and brother and I in spite of the permission that western culture gives us to bail on hard things, and having he and my mom still married and loving each other not only for the other's strengths, but in spite of the other's weaknesses, sets the pace for the Spirit-led grace we're learning to walk in, here in our home. You're a blessing to us, Dad.

My father in law, Joe Simmons (pictured with Annemarie in a sunflower bow, below) is the most generous human being I've ever met. He gives and gives and gives, like the Energizer bunny keeps going and going, like Jesus who never fails, nor turns his back on the needs of His children. He stays connected with my husband daily, and provides a consistent safe haven of grace and peace for Shane, regardless of how frightening the life storms his son is enduring at the time are (and his son has seen some SERIOUS collisions of life tornadoes in the recent past, and more times than he would've preferred to, before that, in only 2 decades of adult life). Thank you, Joe, for showing me what Christlike parenting of adult children looks like, and for modeling selflessness at levels most Christians will never see, much less be able to observe and learn from, in a family member.

I posted the following on Facebook tonight about Shane:
"This selfless father of ten is no 'run of the mill' American boy, like many men in our culture are, walking around in full grown men's bodies. He takes wise, well calculated risks in obedience to a God whose Kingdom is one of opposites, and trusts/obeys with a commitment to doing many, many hard things all at once, to be sure his wife and children have all they genuinely need...for life AND godliness.

My rock star man preached the folly of being too concerned about what people think to me (even those I'm supposed to care about their opinion, a little) from the Y the other night by phone (when he desperately wanted to work out, instead of listening to me wrestle with the praise and rejection of man). He's earned the right to speak firmly about such mature matters of the faith, as he lives out the balance of letting the right men speak into his life, while not violating the Scripturally pure principles that guide the doctrinally sound 'life GPS' he rests in: the wise Holy Spirit.

Thank you, sweet Jesus, on this Father's Day Eve, that Shane Simmons is the father and namesake of the little man inside me, and of our beloved 9 babies that aren't in the oven. We are blessed and highly favored to have been gifted with him as the patriarch of our estate."