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Rooted Chicago & Working the Plan, Watching the Plan

worship2To carry out a vision it’s good to have a plan.

Let me tell you about my relationship with plans.  Almost every Sunday night in our home, my husband and I go through the usual pre-bedtime shenanigans with kids, tuck them in as early as possible, and come downstairs to close out the weekend with an exciting Hamstra Family Calendar Sync.  Full disclosure, we even have a motto: “Make the plan, work the plan.”  I’m sorry to disappoint if you were under the impression that we are fun or cool in any way.

On the organizational spectrum I lean more “free spirit” than “calendar sync-er” so a couple years ago Sunday nights were challenging (read: boring) for me.

Me: “Are we done yet? Do we have to sit at the table? Can I at least go get a snack?”

Husband: “Are you sure you’re a grown up?”

I like spontaneity, going with the flow.  Initially, mapping out our week (and sometimes month, the horror) seemed tedious, but as our little life got more involved and schedules more complex, I’ll admit it was incredibly helpful.  “Making the plan working the plan” allowed us to head confidently into a new week knowing what was ahead and what had to get done.

Back in October, before Rooted Chicago had a plan or even a name, God gave our team a vision for the women of our city.  It was a calling to live and lead confidently, purposefully and celebrate our differences by becoming more rooted in God and less in our ourselves or our circumstances.  The theme “Fewer, Deeper, Grounded” would unpack what it means to have fewer of what holds us back, leading to a deeper understanding of God, allowing us to be more grounded in Him as our foundation.

We believed this route would lead to something we all craved deep down- FREEDOM.

Not just freedom for ourselves but so that that we might move from inspiration to activation (borrowed from my friend, Deb Knupp).  Galatians 5:13-14 says that we are called to freedom so that we might serve by loving our neighbor.  We hoped to use our platform to highlight the organizations already in the posture of service, with their sleeves rolled up working tirelessly to make a difference right here in our city but also all across the world.

Planning a Christian conference initially caused this weird tension within me.  It’s different than, say, planning a baby shower.  We were going to need more than Pinterest to make it happen.

What I learned about the need for being rooted in the months of planning Rooted is there is a rhythm to working the plan and watching the plan.  A steady hustle to execute, slowed down by necessary pauses to see the vision unfolding.

In the hustle there is the drive to succeed, to produce a great outcome with a tangible impact.  There’s the intentional decision-making and attention to detail that can be controlled by putting in more thought, more time, more effort.  Working the plan is important, necessary and good.  God is with us in this labor.

But the beauty of being rooted in Jesus means there’s also a continued dependency that He is at work beyond what we could accomplish with own human hustle.  Watching requires stopping to pray and handing it over.  For me, it was asking for a refocused, fresh perspective.  Discerning when to shut down the screen and open my Bible.  Picking up my baby instead of a phone call.  Rescheduling the meeting because I knew coffee with a friend was more important.

Do the work well but know when to release your grip, not because the schedule is telling you but because the Holy Spirit is prompting you.  Work the plan you’ve made, then watch the plan God has, work it some more, then watch it again.  A dependency dance of giving your “all” but giving it over.

If we root ourselves in the plan and not the Lord, we will miss the prompting to watch and rely on His movement in it.

The night before Rooted Chicago I stayed up way, way too late reviewing my notes (still hustling at 2 am).  I wanted to squeeze the value out of every last minute to prepare but my mind was simply shutting down.  I needed some actual sleep.

I took a deep breath and simply prayed that God would finish it.  I knew our team had worked hard doing our thing, but I also knew His thing would be so much better and bigger than ours.  It was time to watch.

I could attempt to summarize everything that was said at Rooted but it’s already been said so well.  If you’ve forgotten it or weren’t there you’ll be able to hear it again (more on that in a minute).  As each woman spoke from her unique perspective, it was so clear to our team that He had been weaving it together all along: orchestrating relationships, stories, situations and now, finishing the work.

“Spiritual nourishment is perishable. So many of us are living on yesterday’s bread…

Stale obedience, stale stories, stale teaching, stale insights, stale experiences…

If you’ve quit living a good story and now you just remember one…you might be spiritually starving.  We have get out there and to do the work of gathering today’s bread…

What needs to go? What needs to change? What has gone completely stale in your life?

-Jen Hatmaker


“Pray without ceasing, this is not a suggestion.  This is a loving command.”  -Juni Felix


“Accept the invitation to recognize the voice that God has already given you.”  Kathy Khang


“There’s no spiritual gift that says you must live into the profile of superhero.”  -Deb Knupp


“Without the discipline of choosing truth our emotions become our identity and the ground on which we are rooted becomes nothing more than quicksand.

Life feels chaotic? Validate those emotions because life probably IS chaotic, but enclose them in truth- the Lord is my rock and my fortress.”  -Deb Gorton


“God’s love can meet our cavernous needs and free us from the things that bind us as slaves.

Satisfaction and freedom in Christ was never meant to be a secret treasure for only a few…Satisfaction and freedom is a byproduct of God’s love for you.”  -Bianca Juarez Olthoff









deb k

panel ladies


deb g


bianca seatedPhoto credit: Henny Wong

Such a beautiful day and now, what’s next?

First,  I’m excited to announce that the videos will be available to download next week! You can purchase the digital download of each message individually for $1.99 or purchase the whole event for $15 and we’ll be releasing those details both here on the blog and on our social media outlets.

Second, Rooted Chicago t-shirts.  Remember how we only made 15?  Turns out more than 15 people came which was nice.  We’re in the process of developing a new partnership that pours back into our city and I can’t wait to share more very soon!

And finally, yes, Rooted Chicago 2016 is already in motion.  Our team has a lot of praying, learning and listening to do, relationships to build and work to complete.  We are grateful for His leading so far and prayerful that what has been started will be stewarded well.  

This rooted, fewer, deeper, grounded stuff isn’t a message to get people in the seats, it’s a message of freedom and truth that we believe in because have experienced it.  He is not one more thing, He is THE thing.  We don’t attach him to our movements, He IS the movement.  We can plan, work, hustle, but must continually fix our eyes on the One who this is all for.

Bianca closed Rooted Chicago by breaking down this verse in such an incredibly powerful way.  It serves well as a prayer over the women of Rooted Chicago.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  -Ephesians 3:17-19

To stay connected, find us on Facebook at Rooted Chicago and on Instagram & Twitter at rooted_chicago.

Hold fast to this truth, my friends.  Sway, sister.  The winds of life are going to come, the storms of life are going to come, but you will not be unrooted when you are established in His love.

-Bianca Juarez Olthoff


  1. Sammie Sammie

    Hi Sandy,
    Thank you for this post!
    Very exciting and encouraging! I am leading the womens ministry at my church and am very excited about the future of it. We don’t have a name for our ministry yet but God gave me a vision for it and am excited to see what he does with it! I will be praying for your conference and am very glad to have found you!! I live in the UK in Yorkshire! Was looking for ways to get deeper roots for my self to lead others in the same way n God directed me to your blog. Sammie :)

    • shamstra shamstra

      Sammie thanks for writing! Would love to connect with you sometime via email!

    • shamstra shamstra

      And sorry for the delay! I never check the comments because I assume they are spam :)

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