Bawling or Shouting for joy – this one thing will make a difference this school year.

It’s the first week of school here – probably where you are too. Or maybe it was last week. If you sent a preschooler off to school or a K5’er then maybe you shed quite a few tears. Who knows you could have a high schooler and still be struggling on the first day. I received a SOS text from a Mom friend  sending her youngest off to Kindergarten this week.

She gave me permission to share this with you since we’re all in the same Motherhood boat and we need each other. Really we do.

“Pleeeaaasse pray! I’m already feeling my emotions getting the best of me heading to kindergarten orientation this morning.  I need God’s help to get control of my tears. My Grandaddy called just when I needed him & prayed with me. I need my heart overflowed with joy. The devotion on Proverbs 31 hit me this morning. Then my next devotion I opened was about being a mother. Whhheeewww.
I’ve been with the boys as a stay at home Mom 1,634 days/4 year, 5 months, 23 days/233 weeks & 3 days/39,216 hours. Have I spent that time wisely & for God’s glory?

I’m trying to keep this big heart full of laughter & joy instead of tears. I had the thought of the very 1st time I ever saw you, Melody!! Randy asked if the kids were excited about coming back to school at Cody’s orientation. There was a hush among the crowd. Then he asked if the parents were excited about the kids coming back to school & YOU STOOD UP IN THE CHURCH PEW HOLLERING YEAAA! I still get a chuckle out of that knowing you like I do now. I thought is she crazy, who is that woman, I can’t stop the tears & she’s standing up in the church pew!?!? Randy put his head down & whispered “that’s my wife.”

Okay first of all I did not remember doing that but I did do that. I must have buried it deep deep deep within hoping nobody else would remember it either. So what was I thinking? Well, I’m not exactly sure. But I can tell you how I responded to my friend struggling to keep her tears in.

“Gotcha covered in prayer seeet friend. What you don’t know is that when I was rocking Mitchell to sleep when he was 5 months old I called Randy in tears and said, “the time is going by so fast. he’s going to be in K5 before we know it.” Randy on the phone said “you’re about to cry aren’t you?” And he’s made fun of me ever since. Lol. It’s ok to be sad that you’re passing the morning baton of teaching to another godly woman/educator. Don’t feel like you have to hold back tears. But I will pray with you for joy to accompany your sadness and maybe together they will produce less tears. Praying for you right now.”

Tears are okay. Joy is okay. Sometimes they come in different doses and at different times. Whether you are a Mom who is standing on the pew yelling “YEAH” or bawling your eyes out I can you that one thing will make the difference in your child’s school year. And it’s prayer.

Pray for your child. Ask God to show you a verse of scripture that you can pray over your child and maybe a theme or word to cover them over the school year. Last year it was “Endurance” for Mitchell and his verse was  Col. 1:10-12.  

I knew he’s be running Cross Country and it would take endurance for him to stick with it and keep grades up. Our God is so good friends and he hears our prayer for our kids. Mitchell stuck with XC and is going back for a second year of it.

I choose a verse for Sophie in regards to her independence and ability to function quite well within her own abilities. My desire is that she lean on God and know her help comes from him.

So Proverbs 3:5-6 is what I prayed for her all last year.

This week I’ll pray and ask God to reveal to me scripture I can pray for my kids this school year. He will show me. And he’ll show you if you desire it.

I also love the prayer coverage my kids receive from Mom’s In Prayer. This is a prayer group I’ve been a part of since our son started preschool. What I love about this one hour time of prayer is that it’s focused and we pray a different scripture over our kids every week. Also we pray specific requests for our kids. I love having other Moms pray for my kids because they pray things I haven’t thought about praying for. It’s the perfect example of the body of christ coming together and working in unison. Prayer does this in a powerful way. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Pray for your child’s teacher/s. In our Mom’s in Prayer time we pray for the teachers as well and we pray scripture over them also. If they give us specific requests we are faithful to pray for them that day. It makes a difference friends. Of course you don’t have to be in MIP to pray for your kids or teachers. This is just a platform. You’ll find great resources on how to pray for your child and your child’s teacher on the MIP website.

And if you happen to be local know that we have two groups meeting in our area right now. Both meet on Friday mornings. Any Aunt, Mom, Grandmother is welcome to come. Email me for more details.

Happy first week of school friends!!

 

 

 

 

New Zealand Treasures, Take Aways and 2 Cooking Tips Worth Saving

This is Beverly Shoaf – Missionary in New Zealand. And her daughter, Sarah Shoaf.

Sarah will soon be getting married this Summer to a handsome little brown dude she met in Bible college. From the time Sarah was little she said she would be marrying a brown boy. And sure enough she met a fellow from Mexico.

Beverly and Sarah are culinary ninja’s. In the pictures above they are making homemade chocolate cake with homemade whip cream and homemade frosting……for 105 people. When we realized there was no mixer that would work for the whipped cream they didn’t panic. They just went to hand whipping with a whisk.

Homemade lasagna for over 100 people. We got on site of the Teen Camp around 4:00pm and dinner was at 6:00pm. They whipped this meal out in two hours. I made the salad in the amount of time they made the lasagna’s! I’m not even kidding. I so wish I was.

I learned the coolest trick ever with cooking ground beef.

You can boil ground beef. I never knew this. We were running short on time for a lunch meal (homemade nacho’s) and Beverly casually says, “Oh you know what, instead of browning up that meat in large skillets let’s just boil it.” So you just boil your water and put the beef in and it cooks really super fast and it’s very fine. You work with it a little bit to break some of the chunks apart. We found it to taste the same and it does a better job of getting rid of the grease as well. We’ve done this twice since returning from New Zealand.

The other cooking tip I learned had to do with boiling eggs. Beverly was making a chicken pie for dinner and I noticed she had eggs in the stock pan along with the chicken cooking. I asked her about it and she said, “Oh yeah, I learned this from another missionary years ago. You can add your eggs on top and cook them while you’re cooking your chicken. Saves using another pan and you’re cooking two things at once.” She made deviled eggs to add to the meal. And no – the chicken had no egg flavor at all. Another great cooking tip from the culinary ninja.

Not only is Beverly a great cook but she’s an investor in souls. The souls of her own children and the souls of her children’s’ friends”’. (I don’t know where all he comma’s go people – just pretend they’re in their right places. I find that adding more ‘ is more fun).

This young woman is a friend of Sarah’s. For several years she’s been attending church, spending the night at the Shoaf’s house occasionally, listening to God stuff but resisting the commitment to make Him her own personal Savior. After two years of being a part of things in body but not in spirit this sweet girl accepted Christ with Sarah and another friend leading her to Him. I just loved that this happened while we were there although we weren’t a part of her coming to Him. I suppose you could say we were through prayer for their church and ministry but we just got to witness the culmination of lots of time and investment and the Holy Spirit working inside her. What a treasure.

And speaking of new sister’s in Christ – this young lady above accepted Christ as her Savior at Teen Camp. She has such a sweet spirit. She will need prayer as she went back to an unbelieving home and a school with many unbelievers.

This sweet couple grabbed our hearts along with another young couple in the Shoaf’s church. I only have one picture to share here but this couple is the kind of couple every church needs. They love Jesus and His people. Kind hearted. They are hard working and generous. And they love their church with their time and effort. Such a blessing to see them bless their church.

When I concluded speaking at the women’s conference on Saturday the ladies presented me with these beautiful earrings made of bone and representative of New Zealand along with a book they all signed. Such a beautiful gift to me. When I wear the earrings I think of these ladies and how warm and welcoming they were to us.

One of the greatest treasures while in New Zealand was getting to spend time on our Anniversary in the town of Napier. The church celebrated our Anniversary with cake after church and gave us a two night stay in a hotel. We were so stinking excited we could hardly stand it. It was such a generous gift and blessing to us. A friend of mine who had been praying for our trip ahead of time asked me if we’d be doing any sightseeing. I told her I had no idea and didn’t expect to have much time to do that. She was praying we’d have some cool opportunities to see great things and sure enough God blessed us in that way and even beyond what we could imagine with time alone for those two days. Thankful for a praying friend when I hardly gave it a thought and tossed it aside. This was a refreshing gift to us that was treasured more then they’ll ever know.

Many more take aways from New Zealand but these are just a few random snippets.

 

 

What New Zealand Taught Me

Randy and I just got back from a trip of a life time to Napier, New Zealand. Napier is a small little town on the North Island that is charming, quaint and nothing short of splendipitous. I think that means very very spectacular.

We stayed with missionaries who pastor a church in Napier and who work a lot with youth/teens. Our nearly two weeks in New Zealand was spent speaking in a variety of platforms. Randy preached at church twice and spoke to a group of teens for a three day retreat. I spoke with the teen girls and led Umbrella Prayers at a women’s conference. And we had a lot of table time discussing missions, culture, God and lots of other stuff.

The sights were amazing. Sheep everywhere and fantail birds were our favorite. We never saw a Kiwi bird and from what we understand you don’t see a lot of them. Magpies were these black and white birds that are beautiful and just when I was getting all excited about them being pretty and having an adorable name I learned that they are mean birds that pluck the eyeballs out of sheep. Yep. So that was disappointing. Somebody needs to tell those birds about Jesus.

Through this trip I learned how much comfort I find in the prayers of believers. I knew traveling to NZ might be hard for me with some of the various health issues I have but after 48 hours of travel/waiting and still not being there I knew we would need the prayers of believers to sustain me/us. So I blew up Facebook with updates and requests for prayer. And so many of you supported us through prayer and God heard you.

God gave me a strength and energy I know I don’t possess to speak on Friday night. We had been traveling since Tuesday afternoon in Atlanta and we finally arrived on Friday afternoon around 3:00pm. I spoke that night at 6:30pm. Our luggage hadn’t arrived and I was wearing the same outfit I had been wearing since Tuesday. Ewwwww. I spoke in the same outfit but thankfully had time to get a quick shower (yay) and put back on the same clothes. I was speaking on very little sleep and major jet lag but God empowered me and I felt confident His Spirit spoke through me that night.  I learned to always, no matter what, pack an extra pair of clothes when you fly out of the country. 

I learned that even though prayer is HUGE it’s not prayer that gives us the strength. It’s our God. And if it was just you and God alone He would be enough. Even without the prayers of others. This might sound confusing with my previous paragraph on the desperate call for prayer from others. But let me explain more…..

It was that first Friday night in NZ  after I had spoken and I was so tired. When I went to sleep I knew I had two more speaking sessions the next morning. I was going to bed with still no luggage therefore my travel outfit, speaking outfit and pajama’s all in one were still clinging to my body begging to be changed. I desperately grabbed my phone to text a prayer request for energy for the next day and luggage to arrive. And that’s when I realized that the time zone was totally off. I’d be texting in the middle of the morning and I didn’t want to wake anyone up. (Randy had gone to bed early while I was at my session and was in a deep sleep or he would’ve been my prayer partner.) It was such a surreal moment for me. I was almost discouraged at the thought of not having anyone to pray for me in that moment and that’s when I felt God putting inside of me the truth that He alone is enough and able to hear. It’s HE who we pray to. It’s HE who hears our every cry. He alone is my Rock. I would even be teaching on these things the very next day and yet here I was about to freak out at the thought that I had nobody to intercede for me when I felt I needed it so badly. I laid my head on that pillow and said, “Lord, it’s just me and you and I know you will be my help in my time of need. Please give me the strength for tomorrow. And clean underwear!!”

I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and as I walked down the hall there I saw our luggage lined up against the wall. I went to bed at 10:30pm and our luggage hadn’t arrived. But at 3:00am it was there. The airport had delivered our luggage around 11:00pm that night. Ahhh yes, this is our God. Even cooler than clean underwear arriving is this Facebook message I received Saturday morning from a friend in the States who said this:

Hi Melody! I’m not sure what time you are speaking but I checked the time in NZ and it is 6:45 there so I’m guess you could be speaking now or anytime soon. And I woke up at 2:45 a.m for no apparent reason or maybe for the apparent reason to pray for you. Father, thank you for bringing Melody and Pastor Randy to New Zealand safely. I pray that You would renew Melody’s strength and keep her mind in perfect peace as she speaks this evening. I have no doubt that You have some awesome things planned including lives changed by Your power. Please prepare the hearts of the ladies Melody is speaking to tonight. May their hearts and minds be open and ready to receive what You want to speak to them through Melody tonight. Lord, I give You all the glory for the great things You are going to do. I ask these things according to Your will and in Your name. Amen.
And this is our God.
Her prayers were going on for me while I spoke on Friday night and God in his grace allowed me to read this on Saturday morning as a fresh reminder that yes God is the One who gives the strength but he uses his people to intercede for that strength and to encourage others.
More lessons learned from New Zealand to come because I learned some incredible cooking tips and we all know I need some of those. I can’t wait to share with you how to cook ground beef fast and healthy.

 

New Zealand Update: Teen Camp 2017

Wednesday morning we left this modern yet quaint hotel downtown Napier and headed to Teen Camp.

The area we’re in is on Holiday which means it’s their Winter Break. So a handful of churches from New Zealand, Wellington, Australia and surrounding areas come together for a Teen Camp at Lake Taupo during their break. MiCamp is the camp facilities we’re gathering at for this retreat. Linking to it in case you want to see more about it.

It took us a few hours to get there but it seemed like 30 minutes with the hobbit land-ish scenery.

So these are the teens that were able to come to camp from Bay Baptist. A great group of kids we’re getting to know better.

And this was a taste of the ride to Lake Taupo.

None of my pictures with sheep walking the ridge of the mountains turned out good but it was breath taking. I felt like I was standing in the middle of Psalm 23.

So this is Mi-Camp in Lake Taupo……

And these are the Missionaries we’re visiting with, Joel and Beverly Shoaf. They’ve been here for 25 years and both are from North Carolina originally. Our church has supported them for a long time and Randy and I have gotten to know them over their last two furloughs. So when they invited us out to speak at their church, women’s event, teen camp we were thrilled. And humbled that their church and our church would make it possible for us to get there. Such a huge blessing and provision of our God.

Beverly is insane in the kitchen. I mean that in a 110% good way. She loves to cook and won’t consider anything less than fresh and homemade. She cooks for up to 150 people and it’s all homemade. Her daughter Sarah is following in her steps and is a great cook as well. So far she has made lasagna, chocolate cake with homemade cream and ice cream and homemade icing. Nacho’s. Breakfast casserole and has browns. And she has more good stuff planned.

And she’s really chill in the kitchen. Completely laid back but super organized and knows what she’s doing. There were a few hiccups with oven temps and lack of mixers, etc but she just rolled with it every single time even making time for teens that would come in to say memory verses or talk. We even sat down for a cuppa. A “cuppa” is a cup of tea or coffee. And why yes I am saying that with an accent.

The teens are very respectful and seem to be engaged. Randy has done a great job speaking in both sessions so far and he has one more. They do a morning chapel time and games and free time. An afternoon session and then a movie at night. A great program. Joel does all the planning and delegating of the camp and he’s done a really great job. They are both in their element for sure.

 

This afternoon I did an Umbrella Prayers session with the girls and we had a good time together. Precious to hear God’s girls suggesting we pray for their unsaved friends. We talked about how Sophie is clinging to the fact that God is Omnipresent. God is with us in New Zealand and He’s with her in Georgia and if and when she gets a little homesick I pray she’ll remember our God is right there with her as he is with us. That’s comforting.

Well, that’s all for today. If you think of it please pray for us and these teens. That if there are any here without Christ that they’ll go home with Him.

 

 

 

 

 

New Zealand Update: Anniversary out on the town!

I shared earlier that the church we have come to visit sent us out on the town for two days for our Anniversary.

Best day everrrrrrr!!!!!!

I’ll try to document as best I can in pictures but pictures don’t even do it justice. Napier is a beautiful little town on the North Island of New Zealand.

After a wonderful breakfast at a cafe in town we headed to the Pier to catch these sights……

Randy always puts his feet in the ocean no matter how cold or what season it is outside. If he’s walking distance to the ocean his feet will meet the water. He said it was freeeeezing cold. Even though he rolled his jeans up he got soaking wet. Still he said it was totally worth it. I was the “designated photographer.” No way was I going out there!

Then we went and toured an Anglican church that has some incredible history. There was a horrendous earthquake in 1931 in New Zealand and this church was in the middle of morning communion when it hit. Quite a few of their parishioners passed a way during the earthquake. Everything was demolished in the church except for the stone cross standing just outside the church. You will notice it in the pictures below.

Next we popped in the shops of Napier. Cobblestone small streets with people coming and going at quite busy pace. And then at 5:00pm sharp the town shuts down and becomes eerily still.

I think we must have said at least twenty times to each other, “I can’t believe we’re here and getting to see this town together in this way.” It really has been such a treat for us.

Don’t ask.

Tomorrow morning we will drive a few hours to a camp with our Missionary Host family where Randy will speak at a Teen retreat. This is their Winter Holiday so teens will be traveling from Australia, Aukland and other places to come to this retreat. Randy will speak three session and I’ll have a session with the girls where I’ll be teaching Umbrella Prayers. We would so appreciate your prayers for this retreat. There seems to be a lot of sickness around this area right now. Would you pray for healthy kids/staff. For a great time of strengthening friendships and building up each other in the faith. We have been blessed with great sleep so far and would ask that you continue to pray we sleep well so we can serve with energy and vitality.

Beverly, the Missionary’s wife, is an amazing cook. We’ve been the recipient of her incredible meals already. Think homemade mac and cheese, butter biscuits, chicken pie, etc.  Beverly does all the camp cooking during the retreat. And everything she makes is homemade. So I’ll be helping her in the kitchen. Stop laughing! those who know my track record in the kitchen. I’ve already warned her that I’m not nearly as “natural” as she is in the kitchen. But I hope to be the best help I can be to her without doing something utterly stupid. So yeah you could pray I don’t burn the kitchen down or cut my hands off while working.

I’m pretty sure we won’t have any wifi during teen camp but Saturday we come back into Napier and Randy will preach again on Sunday at Bay Baptist. Your prayers are carrying us and we appreciate it so much.

 

 

New Zealand: Our God moves Mountains

Our God moves MountainsMany of you have been praying and I want you to know that your prayers have covered us and carried us. From the very beginning we got off to a rough start with us missing the most crucial flight of all – the direct flight from Houston to Aukland. That led to an overnight stay and putting our travels now a full day later. Little did we know that at that time the booking agent with United accidently booked us for our final New Zealand flight based on CA time and not NZ time. So after the 13 hour flight into Aukland we were told they had us down to fly into Napier the day before. Two hours later we were on stand by hoping and praying, along with many of you, that we would make the next flight to Napier.

We listened and waited for our names to be called. Finally they did and Randy went to the desk. I stayed with our stuff. I could tell by the look in his eyes that something was up. He came back and said, “They have room. But only for one of us.” We had already discussed this possibility amongst ourselves and decided we wouldn’t split up. But when we heard that the other two flights going to Napier were also full and we would be on stand by we decided I should go ahead and go. Neither of us loved this idea but that’s what we felt was the best thing to do. We had hit so many obstacles at this point we wanted to push through.

As soon as I got everything rearranged in my carry on (had to pull resources I’d be using for my speaking session that night from one of Randy’s bags into my bag) the flight person dude said, “I feel so bad. I just told you that one of you could go but now there’s no room because of luggage limits.” I’ll be honest. I was a bit relieved I didn’t have to fly without Randy and not knowing if he’d catch a standby flight or not. As soon as I was celebrating this inside my sleep deprived head and Randy and I look at each other with a look of “Can you even believe this?” the flight person dude motions for us to come back to him and says, “I am so sorry but we actually have two tickets for you right now. Hurry and go.” We grabbed those tickets and vanished onto flight 5005 never looking back.

So here we are in midair as I type. Before take off we looked at each other said, “Can you believe this? This is our God.”

And so friends we thank you for persevering in prayer with and for us.

We haven’t changed our clothes since Tuesday. It’s now Friday morning in New Zealand. We gained an entire day. So really it’s only 3 days worth of…….well, you know……and if you don’t know let me explain it this way. Whenever we go somewhere whether car or plane we say, “And we’re off !!!! Like a dirty pair of underwear!” But we can’t even say that because we’ve been wearing the same pair of underwear since Tuesday. And we ain’t taking them off. Sleep deprived TMI story.

The flight attendant just asked me, “I thought you said you wanted coffee.” I said, “I did but I got hot and decided not to.” He said, “You’re quite indecisive today. I wonder why.” I said, “Might have to do with 3 days of travel with not much sleep. And I’m wearing the same clothes.” Randy said to me through clinched teeth and loud whisper, “Lets NOT tell the whole plane that, Melody!” I said, “I know right! This is why I’m scared to speak tonight. I don’t know what will come out of my mouth at this point.” Randy laughed and said, “Yeah, you’ll probably stand up there and do arm farts. “

And this is where the conclusion of our New Zealand Travel Chronicles end for today.

Thanks for praying and reading!

Update: Just landed in Napier and it’s gorgeous here! Thank you God for moving some mountains to get us on those planes and getting us here.

New Zealand Update – Landed in Los Angeles LAX

I’m glad to report that we are now proud owners of a carry on bag. It has been a life saver. So glad we have it. Randy and I spent lunch together in the Houston airport packing our new carry on. We were beaming with hope and joy. Now we are official world travelers.

We arrived in Los Angeles and this airport is awesome! And the people watching has been fantastic. I love diversity. It is such an amazing thing and speaks to such a creative God. Being in Atlanta, Houston and Los Angeles and watching people make business deals on their phones while eating lunch and catching their flight is pretty crazy. I’m still in “stay-at-home-mom, pastor’s wife, small town girl” mode so all this has me feeling like I live under a rock. But I’m fascinated by it and I love it.

Our flight to Los Angeles LAX was a good one: movies, reading, studying. Now we’re killing time in the airport until 9pm tonight when we fly to Aukland.

We are sold out for New Zealand these next few weeks but our hearts are still very much with our church back home. VBS is going on this week in the evenings and we are praying for kids to come to know Jesus. Also we have a mission team going to Jacksonville, Fla after that so we have a lot going on that’s close to our heart.

Meanwhile our kids are hanging out and having a blast with Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles.  It only took 24 hours and my Mom had those kids with her in the world’s largest Ferris Wheel downtown Atlanta. And when it got to the top she remembered she was afraid of heights. This.is.my Mom.

I’m not sure what internet access will be like once we get to New Zealand. We are supposed to arrive there on Friday morning at 9:00am I think. If all goes as planned. Thank you for praying for us. It’s a gift we appreciate more than you know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Mission – in New Zealand!

Randy and I have the privilege of traveling to New Zealand to be with long term Missionaries, Joel and Beverly Shoaf. Joel is the pastor of Bay Baptist Church in Napier, New Zealand. We’re super excited to come alongside them in serving teens, women and their church body. Randy will be speaking at a Teen conference as well as preaching in their church and I’ll be speaking at a ladies conference and with Teen girls.

And what’s super cool is that we’ll be celebrating 24 years of marriage in New Zealand! How awesome is that.

So our journey began yesterday when Randy’s parents took us to the Atlanta airport. We haven’t flown in about 24 years to be exact. So we have no idea what we’re doing but my man figured it all out. He kept saying “we’ll figure it out when we get there.” And we did. I’d much rather figure it out the year before we get there but I guess the day of works. LOL.

We pretty much look like “haven’t-flown- in- 24 years- world class travelers” Because of some misunderstandings of United baggage policies we didn’t bring a carry on bag. In fact at the last minute we unpacked our carry on bag we had planned to take and put a lot of stuff in our personal bags making them weigh about 80 pounds together. Randy has these on his shoulders while I carry the winter coats and miscellaneous stuff. Along with cross body strap over my chest making me look just a tad shy of the woman who carries a black leather fanny pack.

As far as flight delays….. well, the Lord saw fit to say yes to the thunder and lightening bolts yesterday afternoon in Atlanta and therefore our flight was delayed allowing us to miss the only direct flight to Aukland, New Zealand for the week.

Gotta love this reminder in Job that the lightening bolts report to God Almighty. Job 38:35 “Do you send the lightning bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?”

So we stayed in a hotel at a discounted rate. The airlines couldn’t control the weather as Job pointed out ever so clearly in the verse above. So we couldn’t be mad at them. We were thankful for a bed to sleep in.

Vagabonds. That’s what we look like right now. We take up an entire corner with all our stuff. I’m in the process of trying to convince Randy to let us purchase a carry on bag with wheels. This would save his back and shoulders (ya’ll he is such a gentleman he simply will not let me carry one of the bags. I have tried so many times.). There’a BrooksStone in the airport. And of course we all know airport prices are crazy high but considering we’re on the front end of this trip and we have 3 more flights in front of us and 3 on our way back I think this would be a great idea. And we have borrowed all of luggage so far so this would not be a duplicate but providing a need. We’ll see if I win this little persuaded discussion. LOL.

On another note – we’re not sure where our luggage is?? Yeah, and we didn’t do that thing that world class travelers do – pack an extra change of clothes. As in nothing.

I got up this morning from a great night’s sleep and was like, “Hey, Randy I’m going to get dressed and go get some coffee. Oh wait, I’m already dressed.” Yeah, so that was kind cool.

So now we’re in Houston waiting to board our plane to Los Angeles where we’ll have a 6-7 hour layover. Then we fly out at 9:00pm to Aukland, New Zealand and then from there we’ll fly to Napier where we’re staying. We are scheduled to arrive at 9:00am Friday morning. This is a day later than originally planned and that’s if we stay on schedule. We’re praying we do. Also praying we might sleep on the plane considering I speak Friday night. Who knows what might come out of my jet lagged mouth at that point.

Well, that’s the update from the Houston airport.

Check back for more travel tips from your local haven’t traveled in 24 years world class travelers.

 

 

 

 

Umbrella Prayers Leader’s Kit

The Umbrella Prayers Leader Guide is designed for you to lead an Umbrella Prayers event in your own home or in a large group setting. While I personally love leading Umbrella Prayers at various women’s events there’s nothing more satisfying than leading Umbrella Prayers in my own home. And even more satisfying than that is teaching others how to lead Umbrella Prayers in their own home. The place where we do life on a daily basis can also be a gathering place with other women centered around our God and prayer.
If you have a desire to lead an Umbrella Prayers event whether large or small I have everything you need in this digital leader’s training guide. The cost is $60 and includes one copy of the “Umbrella Prayers” workbook. Purchasing the leader’s kit also gives you access to purchase additional copies of the Umbrella Prayers workbook for $10 per book plus S/H. Umbrella Prayers Workbooks are not otherwise sold separately. They only come with a workshop or event.
As a leader of an Umbrella Prayers workshop you determine the cost of your workshop based on what  you decide to provide for the ladies attending your workshop. The book is $10 and if you provide umbrella’s, food, door prizes and decorations then you would build all that into your price per person. In the leader’s guide I talk about pricing, registration, and where to find the best deal on supplies. 
Your digital training guide includes the following on a thumb drive:
  • Training Guide: What is Umbrella Prayers, Biblical teaching outline to accompany your Umbrella Prayers event, Step by step how to create an Umbrella Prayer.
  • Hosting an Event – a practical guide including where to purchase supplies and options for simple registration.
  • Event Schedule Sample – a mock-up event schedule
  • Promotional Materials for Umbrella Prayers (bulletin insert, poster size, regular size – all digital copies of an original hand painted design for Umbrella Prayers. Built in space for you to include your own personal details.) 
  • One hard copy of the spiral bound, full color Umbrella Prayers Workbook

  • Access to more hard copies of the Umbrella Prayers Workbook at $10 per book plus S/H.
If you are interested in purchasing the digital Umbrella Prayers Leader’s Guide please email Melody at melodyhester@yahoo.com.

What the church can learn from the community of AA

 

 

Alcoholics Anonymous or AA is the name of a group of men and women who acknowledge that addiction to alcohol is ruining their lives. Their purpose in coming together is to give it up and help others do the same. They realize they can’t pull this off by themselves. They believe they need each other, and they believe they need God. Some people don’t believe in God and sadly instead call on a “higher power”.

**I especially love Celebrate Recovery as a Christ-centered recovery program as well as Teen Challenge. I reference AA today because most people are familiar with it and even though I’d prefer Celebrate Recovery or Teen Challenge as a program I still see something beautiful that is formed inside AA that the church should take notice of. **

I’ve never attended a recovery group so I don’t know firsthand but I’ve repeatedly observed some important things in many people who have. They took the time to share with me and these are things I keep coming away with as a general observation.

  1. A strong commitment to each other in the group – what is shared stays confidential and there’s a respect for that ground rule. There doesn’t seem to be judgment or condemnation. Instead there’s a general understanding of each other. Everyone is at their lowest. Level playing field. The weakness is great. And there’s something in that low, weak place that creates a deep bond with those also in the same place.
  2. An outright acknowledgment of their problem. “Hello, my name is____________ and I’m an alcoholic.” It’s stated at the beginning of every single meeting. Each person states is aloud as they start their meeting. An ownership of their problem publicly. Ironically everyone sitting beside them say the exact same thing. And somehow saying it loud over and over again and hearing it from others solidifies the fact that they’re all in the same boat.
  3. An understanding of just how important their “meeting” is. For some it will be a life long commitment knowing that missing a meeting can be the start of a downward spiral. It’s not the meeting itself that produces some kind of magical moment but the connection and motivation from the group is often what one needs in a weak moment. In a Christ-centered group the Bible is their source of Truth and Comfort. Calling on the Holy Spirit for help and strength is where they turn. And this is crucial in daily sustenance for not only the alcoholic but for the depraved sinful person as well. For me. For you.

What if we as the church recognized our own personal weakness and lowliness for what it truly is. If we viewed our sin and the consequences of our sin as sickening as the effects of an alcohol addiction.  I wonder how that might impact our connectedness and community with each other.

Instead of being tempted to share the latest gossip or negativity about a person I wonder if we might cut each other a break more often. The eye rolls and avoiding certain people might disappear. When tempted to tear down someone with words we might pause and realize they’re actually a fellow brother or sister connected in a deep way. And you don’t do that to your own. Nor should we do it to outsiders. But we treat those in the body of Christ especially well according to Paul. (“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Gal. 6:10)

If we are convinced we all have the same great massive need and that we have been rescued by the same great, one of a kind, real life hero, Jesus Christ, then I wonder if we’d understand just how important our “meetings” with each other actually are. Whenever they are….. Sundays or midweek.  , These meetings for Christians are critical in our own survival of the world. The “meeting” itself is not magical. It’s the coming together with the presupposition that we’re all in the same great place of desperate need for the only One person who can fill that need. Nobody is better than the other. The need is the same. The solution is Jesus and He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And that’s why we can go home filled with hope. Hope that even when we slip and mess up we have a place of safety to return. Not only that but it can be a safe place to say out loud, “Hello my name is _______ and I messed up royally this week.” But none of that can happen until we acknowledge our deep depravity and need for grace.

We need the community of Christ-centered brothers and sisters speaking Truth into us. Praying for us. Encouraging us and being there through thick and thin. Relating to and understanding that we have more commonalities than we think. The deep low of sin and the incredible high of being redeemed by our Savior is our common ground as Believers. It’s level ground at the foot of the cross. We’re all in the same state.  If we really see it as this – as being a part of a group of people who have been rescued from  our-sinful-selves then I believe deeper community will take place in our churches. The kind you see in AA and Celebrate Recovery groups.

My prayer is that the local church will see her great need for divine intervention because of our sin on a daily basis. That we will hit rock bottom and see our greatest need for Jesus.

How do we practically cultivate a spirit of deep healthy community within the local church? Because recovery groups, focus groups, prayer groups, theology groups are not the same thing as the church. There’s a very important distinction between Christ-centered groups and church. But we’ll talk about that later. Come back this week for more discussion.