I want a pet alpaca & and what’s your “high”?

Bill Hybels in “Just Walk Across The Room” shares an experience he does with a dinner group. They go around and share their “high” and “low” of the week. It’s an incredible way to hear from other people and we have adopted that in our home. Almost every week I’ll ask the kids what their “high” and “low” was of the week. And so today……I share two highs from last week and I’d love to know yours.

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I’m not sure which is cuter – the alpaca or the older people! Randy and I got to go to the Mountains with some of the Seniors in our church and we had such a great time. We went to Mt. Airy and saw where Andy Griffith grew up. Stopped for some good ole’ country cooking and stopped by and got some crisp country apples. We saw the world’s largest rock quarry and I bought the most awesomest Halloween hat you’ve ever seen.

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You know you want it.

Monday we had the most fabulous family day together. We fed the ducks, walked the Dan River and climbed bridges. I tried not to freak out and instead heed my husband’s advice – “This is good for them. It builds confidence.” They loved it and wanted to eat their lunch at the highest point of the bridge – oh you know… just a relaxing picnic while transfer trucks barrel one inch above your head while inhaling their exhaust with each bite of ham sandwich.

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Another example of building confidence below:

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I’m not sure why the insurance guy said we had to move our trampoline or get a net or our homeowners would increase. Sheesh, what a deadbeat. Just Kidding. We’re in the process of moving it but this was just too fun to not try.

I realize this post is nothing but a rambling mess of miscellany but it sure was fun reliving it all. Thanks for sticking in there if you did. Ha!

I’d love to know what your “high” or “low” of the week is. If it’s a “low” I will pray for you and if it’s a high I will do the dance of joy-joy with you. Oh yes this Baptist girl does dance. When nobody’s looking.

 

3 ways to overcome the fear of praying aloud

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Sweaty palms. Hives. Stomach in knots. A loss for words.

It’s what some of us go through as we begin to pray aloud in a group. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I’ve had four conversations with awesome Christian people in the last few weeks that have explained their desire to pray aloud but the anxiety that rises up keeps them from showing up or contributing to praying aloud.

I get it. Been there done that. I’m now at a comfortable place in my prayer life – both privately and corporately but it hasn’t always been that way. And while there’s nothing wrong with praying in our hearts silently while someone else prays aloud there’s something very special about joining the prayer conversation verbally with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

If you desire to pray aloud but you just can’t seem to overcome your fear consider these 3 thoughts that will help you move forward in your public prayer life.

  • If you can say it you can pray it. If you can read a sentence out loud then you can pray out loud. And reading a verse of scripture is a powerful way to pray or praise God.  P.S. It’s okay to pray with your eyes open. Especially if driving.

Mom’s In Prayer is a great resource that lists ample scriptures that tell us who God is. And what a great way to praise God aloud than to pray scripture back to Him telling Him that we believe He is who He says He is. To access this list within the MIP website you’ll click on “Leaders Corner” at the top bar and then on “Prayer Sheets” at the drop down and then “Attributes of God” on the side pop up.

  • Keep it short and simple. Long and lofty prayers are not the goal. Eloquent words are not necessary. Remembering that prayer is simply conversation with our personal and intimate Creator will help us not feel so pressured to sound a certain way when we talk to God. Yes, He is holy and prayer is sacred but we are his children and we can approach him as our Father with complete ease and comfort. We get to talk to him.  P.S. It’s even okay to laugh in prayer.
  • Practice praying aloud when you’re alone. Sounds strange but as we form a habit of prayer and talking to God with ease throughout our day the easier it becomes to transfer that into public places. It becomes a more natural part of who we are. In the car, cleaning the house, in the shower, etc. Go ahead, practice. Stop right now and genuinely in your heart and through audible words tell God one thing that you believe to be true about Him and thank Him for that.                                     See, you just praised God out loud and you didn’t die. Same thing with our requests. Just speak your request to God in the same words you would tell your best friend over coffee. “But God’s not the same as my best friend over coffee.” You’re right. He’s not. But when the King of Kings died for my sins and your sins something very special happened. It gave us direct access to God Himself because he loves us so much. And He wants to hear from us in our natural voice. P.S. It’s even okay to pray on the toilet. 

Okay so the next time you’re at church or in the office and someone just asked you to pray about something, do it. Do it right then and right there. Think about a verse you know that tells you who God is and praise him for that attribute and then ask him in light of who he is to hear your specific request. And if you haven’t passed out from a panic attack then utter another short praise to Him. And one prayer after another you will soon see how your prayer life will take on a totally new life. And all for his glory.

Taking Jesus to the park

As a church we are learning what it means to live out our faith beyond the pews and stain glass. And so our outreach ministry team coordinated an opportunity for our church to flesh out our faith at a local park in town. For weeks on end we met and prayed for God to give us generous hearts and provision for babies and toddlers in our town. What would people need that WIC or Food Stamps or any other government program might not provide? Diaper, wipes, and baby blankets. And so that’s what we started collecting and asking God for.

IMG_0551IMG_0533 IMG_0534 It was slow going at first. A few packs trickled in. I admit my faith was shaky. I got scared and questioned whether we chose the right item to give away. Diapers are expensive. Could our congregation provide enough to meet a huge need in our community? We would keep praying. One of our planning meetings was at the park to map out where we’d set up everything. We concluded our meeting by circling up and holding hands and praying in the center of the field asking God to supply our community’s needs and to use us in the process. To bring the people he wanted to encourage and to love on that day.

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Our most exciting meeting came on the Wednesday before our event this past Saturday. Our outreach leader informed us that an anonymous donation of $2,000.00 came in and was designated for outreach. This exciting news would send part of our team back to Sam’s and Cosco in search of an abundance of diapers. We were so psyched!

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We loaded up the church van and other vehicles, flat bed trucks and anything with four wheels and took hundreds of diapers and baby goods to the park on Saturday morning. As people came through the line we asked them to fill out a card with their name and how old their children were and what size diapers they needed. This helped it not to be a chaotic free for all.

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The most tender moments were little babies being held and prayed over. Oh, that just warmed my heart. My friend Tanya (holding the baby below) who is not even a year old in Christ took on a boldness in talking to people as she painted faces. She asked if they had a church they were plugged in and she invited them to ours if they didn’t. She also prayed with some of the people. Beautiful to watch a newbie in Christ grow in boldness.

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Our goal was to show the love of Jesus and to speak of his love as opportunities came. We didn’t know what that would look like but we prayed God would show us. And He did. Community Cares is not about promoting our church so we can build our church. It was about one thing – loving others as Jesus loved them. He looked on the marginalized with compassion and he did it on their turf. And so must we.

Today at church we celebrated what God did yesterday. Randy read Isaiah 58:1-11 which will knock your socks off. It framed what we did yesterday. Why we did it and what we did. Then we showed this video below of what took place yesterday and then took turns sharing what we saw God do. Many tears were shed. People shared how we’re growing as we learn to serve our community outside our normal context of church. To top it all off three families came to church today that we met at the park yesterday. We even got to have lunch with one of the families afterwards. God is at work in our community and we got to taste it.

Our sweet spot as Christ followers will always be showing and sharing the love of Jesus. Always.

Bullying – what to do if you suspect your child is being bullied

As long as the human race continues to exist there will be bullies in our world. For a lot of different reasons people are bullies. As parents we’ve probably had some discussions with our kids about this topic and since Monday starts National Bullying Prevention Month I thought we’d talk about some tips to stomp out bullying.

5 things to consider if you think your child might be bullied at school. 

1) Talk every day with your child after school. A great open ended question to ask is,”What was the best part of your day and the worst part of your day?” Listen carefully to his/her answers.

2) Try to determine if and how your child might be contributing to the situation. What was his/her behavior prior to the incident? We don’t want to always assume our kids had a part in the event but we want to remain objective and try to see the whole situation. Don’t get me wrong – nobody ever deserves to be hit, spoken to cruelly or bullied. But if you sense your child started or contributed to the situation then help them recognize and own their part. Talk about what they could do differently next time if there is something they could do differently.

3) Encouraging your child to ignore his/her bully and respond quietly is the best response a bully can get. They’ll move on to someone else. If your child responds and engages in verbal retaliation it will only make things worse. On the flip side we do let our kids know that should they ever find themselves in a situation where they need to defend themselves physically they should even if there are consequences that result. But the first strategy is to ignoring the behavior and keep the mouth shut. (not always easy to do)

4) Pray with your child for your child’s bully. Hard to do but it’s amazing just how much this helps. Because God cares – both about your kid being bullied and the kid who is the bully. It might be hard to see it that way but it’s true. God loves your kids’ bully as much as he loves your child. Praying for bullies softens our hearts towards the ones we might want to snatch bald headed and it helps teach our kids a spirit of forgiveness.

5) If the bully continues to act out against your child encourage your student to report it to his/her teacher or principal. You may need to get involved with this as well by speaking with teachers and the principal. Possibly a parent conversation would be appropriate as well.

If enough people stand up to a bully’s behavior it will eventually stop. Help your children know it’s not okay to watch someone be bullied. To watch is to passively participate.

A great resource on bullying is the book Stand Strong by Nick Vujicic.

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Nick Vujicic has known what it is like to be bullied most of his life. And even as an adult he deals with being made fun of by other adults. Crazy! He shares so openly in this book as he talks through how to handle with strength those who come against you. It’s a great book even if this topic of bullying isn’t touching you or your children directly right now. I love Nick’s humor and his practical advice to kids in knowing who they are so that nobody can label them and it determine their worth. Seriously, this is a must read. Of course you can grab it at Amazon and you won’t regret it.

 

 

The reason for the blog silence

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Busy at church…….love the things going on at our church but even in all the good churchy things I can get too busy. Someone I love dearly recently said, “Melody, you are in a hurry with everything you. You’re so busy.” It’s true. So I’m trying to evaluate what I’m doing and why I’m doing it and be sure it’s coming from Him. And even in that back off the rushed spirit in which I tend to do most things.

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Don’t get me started on the bug project. I loved the idea of this project because our son is a bug lovin’, insect catchin’ creature himself. But this project produced tears, anxiety, accusations and SO much more. This project sent us on “bug walks” where we’d spend forever looking for any insect we could find but never could find when “looking”. And when we did finally find one when we weren’t looking Mitchell would bond with it and it would become a pet and then he wouldn’t want to put it in the “KILL JAR”. Sounds so cruel. Kill Jar. When it did get in the kill jar it would get out somehow. And then I was freaking out and blaming anyone I could lay eyes on that they didn’t close the lid good. I had anywhere from 2-20 bags of bugs on my kitchen counter for three weeks straight. And I swear the day the project gets turned in approximately 54.5 bugs from all different classifications show up on our back porch, windshield, kitchen floor, etc. It was like they were there for the viewing of their relatives or something. Buggy funeral. Paying their respects and taking revenge on the killers.

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And this was the best part of all……Grandparents!!!! Randy’s parents came and stayed for a week with us and were a part of Missions Conference at our church. It was a great week with them and an incredible week of hearing from those abroad sharing the great news of Jesus Christ. God is at work and it’s so inspiring to hear all that He is doing in our world.

We walked to the ice cream store every day – either after dinner or after school. Such fun memories. Poppy had Sophie laughing and believing aliens were going to abduct him at night. She got a little confused and asked me the next morning if the “tooth fairy for mens” had come down and taken Poppy away. Ha!

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I thought I’d share with you what Sophie and I resort to when we spend two hours at the Doctor’s office for allergy and asthma junk. We play I- spy and Charades. This is Sophie being an electrocuted fly. Really? Who thinks of stuff like that? Oh, my kid does. And she would totally KILL me if she knew I posted this picture so please, if you know us in real life, don’t tell her! Really – blog etiquette says you don’t talk about blog posts to the photo victims. Thank you in advance.

Well, that’s a lil’ slice of our life the last few weeks.

 

 

When More is Not Enough

Oh friends you will love new author, Amy Sullivan. She was born to write. I love anyone who makes me laugh and gets me thinking seriously all at the same time. And this girl does just that. Please take the time to hear her spirit in this guest post and then go grab her book “When More is Not Enough” for the benefit of your entire family. You won’t get more practical and awesome than this. 

I met Melody at a writing conference.

If you know Melody, you know she radiates a unique I’ve-known-you-forever kind of feel (with an added scoop of sass). Within twenty-four hours of our initial meeting, I learned Melody doesn’t have a problem sticking food up her nose for the sake of a perfect photo op (I do have pictures to prove this), and Melody also taught me about words of encouragement. 

See, at this writing conference, I had several big meetings scheduled, meetings in which I felt very less than qualified to attend.

In a swarm of women scurrying to the next session at this conference, Melody gave me this one sentence note.

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Although, Melody may have thought this note would become lost among the handouts received at the conference, I folded up this tiny treasure and have kept it in my wallet ever since.

Three years later, Melody’s twelve words still encourage me. They remind me God is working in me even when I don’t see results and especially when I feel less than qualified.

I’d love to hear about a time when someone’s words brought you encouragement. Share, Share!

Oh and a big PS: In my new book, Melody shares some words about one of my favorite topics: drive-by giving.

 I had no idea that little note would mean so much to my friend. So three years later and here she is with a published work of her heart. A book that both inspires, challenges and causes a few out loud belly laughs. A book that shares her family’s story of pulling out of the typical American consumeristic lifestyle and into a lifestyle of giving and serving. You don’t feel beat up by Amy’s words and you aren’t left wondering how and where to start giving more as a family. I love the conversation starters she includes  for your family to talk about over dinner. This book is extremely practical and one that, if put into practice, could really change your community. Check out the adorable book trailer below……

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You can purchase “When More is NOT ENOUGH” by Amy L. Sullivan at Amazon or, thanks to Amy, you can enter to win a free copy by leaving a comment here.

Grandparents deserve honor

I love that our school honors the Grandparents of our students. Each year they put on a special morning just for Grandparents. Randy’s parents and my Mom have been able to attend a few of them since attending our school. This year was so much fun.

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The kids started out by showing their Grandparents their classrooms. And then they moved on to some outdoor activities.

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Watching Grandma and Grandpa’s hula hoop was entertaining in itself. And by the looks of the picture of my Mom with hands wide open with hula hoop around her shoulders you’d think there was some praise music blaring and she was in a state of sheer worship. Nope. She was hula hooping from the neck down. After all, she was the hula hoop champion back in the day. True story.

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A little beach volley ball and some fun snacks and story time with a book called, “How to babysit a Grandpa” added to the fun. Our teachers put this special day on and they did a fabulous job.

We just had a great visit with my Mom and now we get to have another wonderful visit with Randy’s Mom and Dad. So we’ve had Grandparents in the house and the kids are loving it.

Signs of Grandparents visiting:

  • Late bedtimes for the kiddos because the Grandparents begged for it
  • Overlooked instances that would have gotten you a whoopin’ as a kid
  • Sugar highs from ice cream dates
  • Hearing this quote, “Well, that’s just what a Grandparent does”

If your kids don’t have any living Grandparents let them adopt a Grandparent from church, your neighbor or a local nursing home. Our kids need the wisdom of an older generation.

 

The realization you ARE the “older woman”

I’m just wondering how it slipped by me that I am officially an “older woman”. I mean seriously I did not know this until I was at the Beth Moore simulcast on Saturday (which was really awesome) and at one point she had groups of people standing for prayer. She invited all the “older women” to stand to be prayed over. For them to have clarity of mind. To invest in younger women. I figured I would be in the next category of “younger women” when I started to look around, oh but no. She explained that all the women 40 years and older should stand. So I stood. And my younger friend sitting down in all her cute youthfulness looked at me and mouthed the words with sheer evil in her eyes “OLDER WOMAN”. I about slapped her because this was a true coming out moment for me. I have truly considered myself the “Younger Woman” in need of many mentors pouring into me.  So there I stand with all the “older women” realizing that God is calling me to step it up in my willingness to own my age and the value it has especially in mentoring younger women. I can no longer view myself as just one of the young crew who soaks up but doesn’t pour into others. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not bashing myself. I do pour into other people as God enables me and gives me opportunities. But it’s like he has now stamped it in cement for me. I have more of an ownership in my leadership. I can’t really explain it. I’ve always been a little “behind the times” – ahem, hence learning I’m an older woman at the age of 43. This doesn’t mean I have to act all old womanish – like my current voicemail suggests. (Yeah, my seven year old has left a message in the all time best old lady voice saying, “This is Melody and I’m turning 43 today and I really don’t talk like an old lady.”  And that’s better than the first one she recorded which said, “This is Melody. I’m turning 43 and I’m an old woman today so please give me my present before tomorrow because I might die I’m so old.” Oh my word! ) I’m still going to wear funky clothes, embrace my tattoo and dance like nobody’s watching, when nobody’s watching, and play practical jokes on people. But I’m viewing my life differently and asking God to give me the strength to be the older woman he wants me to be.

Meet my Mom – she’s an amazing older woman. She came up for my birthday and we had a great time together. I’m so fortunate to have a godly Mother. And a silly Mom. Love her so much.

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Okay, so how about you? When did you realize you weren’t a teenager anymore? And please don’t say when you turned 20. Because I’d feel so foolish.

My friend – she got saved and baptized and I’m in awe of our God!

Nothing thrills my heart more than to hear how someone comes to know Jesus as Savior. Even more exciting than that is to watch someone come to Christ. To sense the presence of the Holy Spirit moving, softening, and awakening one’s soul is indescribable. I’ll never forget when Tanya came to church for the first time. I was in Junior church teaching where her daughter would be in class. Tanya stayed the first time making sure her little girl was settled and comfortable. It wasn’t the little girl who was uncomfortable though, it was her Mom. Clearly she was not so sure about the whole church thing. She’d been before. Her husband is a Christian but Tanya would later share with me over dinner that she felt like an impostor at church. A fake because she didn’t really believe it all. She’d never confessed that before. We talked about a lot of different things that night over dinner. At one point I was encouraging her to read the Bible to get to know Jesus. I said something like, “Not only do you get to know Jesus but the Bible has some awesome wild stories in it.” I loved her candid response. She said, “Yeah, I know, and about that……Moses and a burning, talking bush? Really. Come on now. That’s hard to believe.”  I laughed out loud and said, “Tanya, God is okay with your questions. He loves you in the midst of your doubt. And if you ask Him to reveal himself to you  in a way that you understand and believe, He will do it.”

An hour after dinner we went to hear Candace Cameron Bure speak at a women’s event. It was incredibly wild to hear her speak and to address the very things that Tanya had spoken about at dinner. They had similar stories in some ways. It was as if Candace had been at dinner with us that night and just continued the conversation. At the end of the night they gave an opportunity for women to come down and pray at the altar. It was during that time Tanya gave her life to Jesus. The things she was clinging to she let go of and told Jesus she trusted him with her life and for the forgiveness of her sins. It was the most beautiful thing ever. We cried, hugged, prayed and on the way out she said, “Man, I feel like I need a cigarette!” I seriously considered smoking for the first time myself I was just so excited.

Fast forward six months and the landscape of Tanya’s life is still changing. She has disciplined herself in the reading of scripture, discipleship, connecting with our church family and growing in her relationship with Christ. To watch her respond to Christ has been one of the greatest joys of my life. She has pushed through the uncomfortable and the completely unknown out of a heart for Jesus. She has helped remind me that going from knowing nothing about Jesus and church culture to following him is awesome but hard at times. Humbling even. It’s not a big deal for someone who has grown up in church to flip back and forth in the Bible. But to a newbie in Christ tabs are a great way to help find books. But this can feel intimidating. Not knowing terminology that we use a lot at church can be confusing at times. I was clued in to this during one of our discipleship times. Tanya said, “You keep saying ‘the fall’. What is ‘the fall’?” I knew what it was but it stopped me in my tracks because I had never really broken that down and thought about the chosen words to describe the change in all humanity. It’s just what you call it to describe that very big huge thing that happened in the garden. Tanya has stretched me and forced me to take off the layers of “just because” to really having to think about why we do what we do as followers of Christ. She doesn’t care that I’m a pastor’s wife or that you might be a deacon. She isn’t impressed with labels or positions. She doesn’t flatter or try to impress. She is simply on the road to following Jesus.

In response to baptism early on she wasn’t ready and didn’t want to get baptized because she didn’t want to do it for the wrong reasons. After studying and reading what scripture had to say about it she is responding to Christ in obedience through baptism this Sunday morning. Ahhhh!!!!!!! I’m so excited.

Tanya, I am so happy for you, proud of you and encouraged by you. There is no greater joy than to watch your life change because of Jesus Christ alive and at work inside of you. I am praying for you and celebrating with you this Sunday what God has done and is doing. We serve an amazing God who loves us dearly. Let’s keep following Him and learning and growing together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dads & Daughters working together – it’s special

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Oh she eats her Daddy up. And working with him is one of her favorite things to do. He lets her take the roller in hand and stain the entire back porch while he bends down and smooths out the gloppy parts. Every single stroke. It would be easier for him to do it by himself but he invites her to join in and do the work. And for that she loves him all the more. They take their breaks together and get back on it. I find it funny that when working with her Daddy she takes on a “work language” with tough girl hard working accent as if she had a wad of chew in the side of her mouth. But no Red Man for her today. Just Dad’s hard working side kick.

This brought back memories for me and I told Randy today, “Oh, I think every little girl likes to work with her Daddy.” My Dad loved to work and I loved to work with him. I remember going down to the basement and trying to help him organize his space as a little girl. He taught me how to scrub the garage floor, wash cars, do yard work, paint and much more. But the thing we all remember was when I was trying to be ‘just like Dad’ and painted the garage door – royal blue! About 5 vertical strokes into it he realized what I had done. I love that he took a picture of me with roller in had and the random strokes of blue paint. Occasionally as a family we’d gather in the game room and have a slide show and somehow this picture always made it in. I thought that was totally epic.

Dads, never ever underestimate the power of working alongside your daughter. Teaching her patiently. Letting her make mistakes and even taking the long route just so she can be involved. She will hold on to those memories for a very long time.