I Surrender.

"I surrenderNot my will, but Yours be done.Not my strength, but Yours alone. Nothing else, but you Oh Lord...I find everything in You.I surrender."

Surrender is a tricky word in our modernized vernacular these days. Hard to articulate the full weight of it's meaning because surrender is ultimately difficult work. Surrender drags all sorts of under the soil roots choking out our growth to the exposure of the surface. Surrender requires admission, submission and acceptance that it is not about our will, our strength, or anything else we bring to the table. Surrender requires deliberate desperate dependance DAILY on the Only One worthy of our bouquet of affection....but, we're human and conditioned to believethe word {surrender} might be something to the effect of head down, shoulders slumped, waving a white flag.  Doesn't seem like a victorious posture to me. {I Surrender} is one of my all time favorite hymns, but if I'm gut level honest I don't affectionately adore the idea of surrender. When the rubber meets the road surrender doesn't make a very exciting insta story kinda deal. Maybe it's just me, but I'm not one to surrender easy. I like to talk and write most about how we don't give up, we fight. We won't give in or we won't let go of the fullest activity out of life, we won't stop, we negotiate deeper strength, we will march on to bigger and better and we will do it ALL right now because we can and we should.Guys, the truth is I wake up most days visualizing my life like the scene from Braveheart where William Wallace is riding on horseback across the battle field wearing blue war paint smeared all over his face while lighting torches on fire. Victory to me LOOKS a certain way in my human imagination. The posture of victory in my humanness LOOKS and is seemingly most enjoyed when we are standing tall on a mountain we have climbed for all to see. I'm the first in line for an old fashioned pep talk. I'm a coach's daughter, a forever cheer captain and a coach's wife. Locker room victory "we will not surrender" pep talks are my jam.

But friends, surrender IS the victory.

Being a follower of Christ means emptying ourselves over and over again and surrendering so we can stand on HIS STRENGTH AND VICTORY. Surrender IS the Victory. Actively and consistently receiving the fullness of the Kingdom happens as we surrender, let go, turn our palms up and let God know with no amendments, terms or conditions on our part .....

"I surrender."

Doors opened up wide during the last half of 2016 and first half of 2017 for my Trotter Tribe. It was thrilling, but it took more out of us than we could have ever imagined. Life was moving, creating, building and bursting spring bulbs of spiritual growth, professional growth and ministry growth that had been under the ground of our heart for years. We spent the school year just trying to keep up. My tribe fired up for 22 weeks of straight football in the fall where Toby, my Coach Man, worked 7 days a week until we won the State Championship in December. We took a brief break for Christmas and then he was back at it for spring track and individual lessons working 7 days a week again to the end of May. I navigated a major ministry event, Arrows LIVE, in Dallas the first of December for 250 women. My ministry created 5 local Becoming Intensive events reaching well over 100 women total. I wrote, recorded and developed content for 100 Becoming App devotionals. Toby and I developed and taught original content for a community group at our church from January through May. Because we were not taking steady stock of the number of activities our kids were in we began running a ragged race of FOMO {Fear Of Missing Out} activities and by May the wear and tear was showing. We were cultivating the earth, planting ideas, coaching, building teams on the field, building teams in ministry, driving, pushing, entertaining, mentoring, speaking, teaching, writing, failing, trying again, and again, watering, hustling the heck out of life and we were exhausted beyond recognition.We spent a heavy year on a wild ride of growth, no sleep and exhilarating days.But let's pump the breaks right here.Towards the end of the spring with the strain of our already increasingly bananas life my tribe was thrown into navigating an unexpected situation that demanded every ounce of what we had left emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. It was the worst kind of cocktail. Where we already felt emotionally and spiritually bankrupt the final days of spring wore our hearts down to the nubs. We nearly lost ourselves.I lost my physical voice and felt like I was loosing my Kingdom voice as well. Weak and weary is a soft explanation for the amount of exhaustion we felt as a tribe.A whisper rolling into a Roar begin to call out to me during those excruciating days as school ended for my tribe. The new levels of expectations, ridiculous calendar speed, the unfamiliar and alarming situation we didn't expect threatened to put us in a paralyzed heart place and it felt straight up terrifying. However, the Voice speaking over my soul wanted me alert and awake and no matter what felt disordered around me, IN THE MIDST OF THE SWIRLING CONFUSION OF THE UNDER TOW, I could still hear A Voice.

We all have scenarios happen and it can either jolt us awake or we allow it to lull us to sleep. It woke me up.

I love the way Jesus Calling describes the heart of God in His Whispers....

"Come to Me. Come to Me. Come to Me. This is My continual invitation to you, proclaimed in holy whispers. When your heart and mind are quiet, you can hear Me inviting you to draw near. Coming to Me requires no great effort on your part; it is more like ceasing to resist the magnetic pull of My Love."

I've spent summer quieting my soul and leaning in to listen to the Voice I heard calling like my life depends on it. Because it does.The Roaring Whisper was a Voice I know. A Voice I've spent 29 of my 37 years on earth intuitively getting familiar with. A Voice that I've felt rumble through my bones in the highest elations of life and the darkest hours of night. The Voice of the Good Shepherd who has whispered every ounce of authentic Victory into my life steadily saying...."Surrender, Cari. I want you to surrender. Don't go another step. Don't start another project. Don't build another team. I want you to lay everything down and I want you to simply rest in Me. With palms up and surrendered expectations. Be desperate and dependent on hearing My Voice at every turn. Surrender is what's next. Surrender your plans, current roles, relationships, expectations, platforms, time frames, activities, ambitions, be still and press in."

There's a propensity in the believing community to SAY we want what God wants and we are yielded only unto Him. But I'm going to get gut level honest in saying working out surrender is hard. And it's gross. So as we walk down the road of surrender we start to think this is way harder than expected and demanding way more of me than I ever thought I'd have to give over.

We ignore the signs of fatigue or damaged spiritual and emotional walls around us. We ignore it because we will "get to it later" or "if we just keep pushing through and doing more now we will reach a break through"....and all the while the Good Shepherd sees our struggle and circumstances forthcoming and patiently whispers - "Surrender, and find everything in Me for each new turn and each new day."The Creator of the Universe gives us a Divine grace to play an active part in the narrative of this world. With that said, He has every right to flip the script every day, open your mind's eye to see with greater understanding in regards to what's happening with each new season of life and ask you to shift gears. {Jeremiah 29:11} Surrender becomes a choice. Our way or His way? And His way is always better."Surrender yourself to the Lord, and wait patiently for him." {Psalm 37:7}So I have spent an entire summer pondering surrender. Our summer has been packed full of hilarious fun, but it has been hard. Meditating on what it really means to be desperate and dependent on God and surrender is just not easy, my friends.Surrender has taken guts and diligence and humility. We spent the summer traveling here and there and on loads of happy trips, but all the while we have been clearing the "life table" so to speak over all the projects, activities and possibilities in front of our entire tribe and verbally saying, "Okay God, here it all is. We surrender. It's yours. You work through each part and breath life on YOUR projects, YOUR activities, YOUR relationships, YOUR possibilities. We surrender sin and all areas of unrighteousness and oppression. Cut what doesn't belong and restore what needs our attention. We surrender."Surrender boils down to trust. Trusting God is presenting us each with an invitation to intimacy not condemnation over what we haven't done, but deeper and better intimacy. Surrender cuts off all dead weight. Intimacy creates opportunity for God to heal our souls and dig out weeds choking out our longterm growth.Surrender has unearthed the importance of me pressing into the roles I am CURRENTLY occupying and granting greater margin to roles needing my full focus. Saying no more often so I can say yes better. Surrender looks like quieting my soul. Stewarding better so I can run longer. So for the coming calendar year my word is Surrender. Every day. Every plan. Every idea. Every moment. My humble prayer is for the Good Shepherd to keep revealing how He is ahead of my Surrender. He's won every battle and will be faithful to speak sweet Victory as Surrender increases it's activity through the life of my Trotter Tribe.Where is God asking you to trust Him more and surrender?