Bible Study Reviews and Ideas

In this post I want to hit some highlights about recent Bible Studies I’ve done with my small group as well as some ideas that might be helpful in your own group. First I’ll share about the ones we’ve done the last few months.

Messy Beautiful Friendship by Christine Hoover 

This was a book our small group read for the Summer and discussed 5-7 chapters at a time. It was a deeper read than we were expecting so don’t think “light Summer read” but it was so very good. It opened our eyes to what true Biblical friendship means and requires. Such a gift of a book for our group. It helped us grow and is still helping shape our group. Study questions are in the back of the book and can serve as a great Bible Study or Book Club option. I’d suggest taking smaller amounts of chapters to discuss.

Live Full, Walk Free by Cindy Bultema 

We did this six week study on I Corinthians and it was really insightful and fun. Cindy is a friend of mine and her heart is so genuine. A woman who struggled with addiction and almost lost her life to it but God……did an amazing work in her and redeemed her in miraculous ways. Her passion to speak Truth and memorize God’s word was a special part of this study as we memorized and quoted verses together every week.

Missing Pieces by Jennifer Rothschild

Oh wow, this 7 week study by Jennifer was great. Probably my favorite teaching on when God doesn’t bring healing and why he allows suffering. This is a fantastic study. For those who don’t know about Jennifer – she is blind and she is an amazing piano player, singer and Bible teacher. I played one session of this for my family and I don’t usually do that. Our son is hearing impaired and I wanted him to hear her talk on this topic. Such rich biblical truths she brings.

All things New by Kelly Minter – I wanted to just skip talking about this in this space because I love Kelly’s heart for God and I’ve done other studies by her that I really enjoyed but for some reason this particular study on II Corinthians just didn’t strike a chord. I made the mistake of doing a study I had not fully previewed and well we ended up stopping the study after two weeks. I felt really bad for putting our group through this and it fell on me as the leader because I didn’t do my part in previewing the study. They were super gracious and agreed to move on to something else.

New things we’re incorporating in our group:

An outreach or in reach project at the end of each study. In efforts to stay outward faced and  loving others well together as a group we decided to pray about doing something special at the end of each study. And this has been a neat highlight for our group these past few studies. One time we put together a care package for a teenage girl who had heart surgery. We all pitched in and bought items and prayed over the items and then put the basket together and sent it off through one of our small group members. Another time we wrote notes and prayed over a teacher at our school. This last time we rallied around two of our own members who just sent off sons to boot camp. We pitched in and surprised them with an ALEX and ANI bracelet for the branch their sons are serving in. We have prayed for these boys from day one of choosing to go into the military and God has really grown our group through this up and down road of sending off their boys. We start praying a few weeks before the end of our study about what our next project can be. It’s been a beautiful thing to be a part of.

Mix up the meeting place. For one whole study we met at homes and different places in town for dinner and discussion. We typically meet at our church for our regular small group time but mixing it up was a nice change of venue and can help with any ruts that seem to form.

Group Prayer. This has been a hard but good part of our study. Hard because not everyone is comfortable with praying aloud. Good because there is nothing that brings people closer together than prayer. There’s a bonding that takes place when we pray for each other. We’ve used text threads as a prayer tool in times of urgent requests. We respect each other’s time and try not to do this a lot but we know we can ask for prayer and receive it outside of our scheduled time together on short notice.

Deep Study. Lighter Study. I think it’s important to offer a mixture of studies in efforts to reach everyone in your group. A steady diet of deep in-depth study is going to leave some feeling left in the dust and overwhelmed. I try to make a practice of doing a lighter type study and then a deeper study if possible. It also gives a breather for those barely hanging on.

** The thing I’m really struggling with is the idea of a closed group as well as multiplying at some point. I know these are important factors I’m just not sure how to incorporate them fully. We have a core group that has stayed the same for almost two years and then we have a few people float in at the start of a new study. This does change the dynamic some because just when you start to trust your group then you start over when new people come. But you want new people to have a chance to join in if they want to. We aren’t a really large church so it’s not like we have tons of groups to choose from. We have several different groups meeting throughout the week but only one women’s group on Wednesday night. I’m praying about this more and our group is starting this conversation and seeking what God would have for us.

Our current study is The Quest by Beth Moore.

This six week study is so different from her others and we are excited about diving in this week to start this study. We are downloading the teaching sessions from Lifeway – yeah, did you know you can do that? It’s awesome. For $5.99 a session you can rent the study for 6 months. This study combines a lot of prayer and journaling which I absolutely love. I’ve only done one week’s worth of homework and haven’t viewed any of the sessions (broken cardinal rule #1 – always preview your studies) because of the download situation being on a different computer and not wanting to pay twice for it. I’m hoping for the best and not a repeat offense in the previous situation mentioned. So I’ll come back and let you know what we thought about The Quest.

So what about you? What do you love about your small group? Would love to hear.

Random church people questions

When one person asks a question usually others are thinking it but just haven’t said it. Here’s a few questions we got over the last few weeks. All from church peoples. I love it when people ask what others are wondering.

Why don’t you ever sit on the front row at church? 

Because I like to sit with other people since Randy is up on stage 90% of the time. I move around and sit in different places. Dude, ever heard of a back row Baptist?  (No, I didn’t say that last sentence. Ha! And I don’t sit on the back row. I tried that once and it didn’t go so well. I was so distracted it wasn’t even funny.)

What if a gay couple wanted to come to our church?

We would welcome them like anyone else. If they wanted to become members and serve in leadership that’s a different situation. The prayer and goal would be for them to hear Biblical truth on Christ-centered relationships through preaching, teaching and grace filled conversations.

How do ya’ll make time for each other and your family with all that Randy has on his plate with the church and school?

We schedule date nights. We don’t always make it happen as much as we should or want to. We also work hard at sitting down for dinner together every night (except Wednesdays) even if there is a meeting one of us has to attend after dinner. We also don’t attend every single meeting and gathering at our church and school. People may not always be pleased with that but we’re not about pleasing people. Randy read a book by Andy Stanley years ago that he tells many people in ministry about. It’s called Choosing to Cheat. This book shaped him early in ministry and has saved our family from falling into the pit of all consuming ministry to the neglect of the family. I thank God for his commitment to God, our family and the ministry God has called us to. Sometimes that means family plans are rearranged. It happens. You’re driving on the way somewhere and you get a phone call that turns you around in the other direction. Your plans are changed instantly. Occasionally on Holidays or vacations. And that’s part of ministry. But we can’t always do that and be at everything. It takes great discernment and a lack of fear of what people think to walk the delicate line of walking in step with the Spirit. We are blessed to be in a church that supports, encourages and provides for us to care for our family. We don’t take it lightly.

 

 

A life of influence

Well friends I have to tell you about a fabulous little city that has changed so much in the last ten years. Randy and I lived in Greenville, SC for about 7 years. Four for college and then three as a young married couple. It was always a great town but they have revitalized Greenville and it’s simply amazing now. If you’re close to Greenville it would be a trip worth taking.

My sister and Mom were at a wedding recently in Greenville and they too caught on to how awesome it is and so that became our celebration spot for my Mom’s 80th birthday.

Our time started out at Falls Cottage for lunch – a quaint little place that gave a beautiful view of Reedy River.

And then we went to a favorite shop called Twigs that has home accessories and floral arrangements as well as fresh flowers.

Mom had no idea what to expect of this birthday weekend getaway. My sister and I planned it out but wanted to surprise our Mom with many of the details. It was so much fun!!

So our next stop was our hotel which was the Westin Poinsett Hotel downtown. Little did Mom know that fresh flowers were awaiting her from one of her dear friends from our childhood neighborhood. She also got to FaceTime with her.

I know she’s my Mom but seriously – doesn’t she look great? And especially for 80!

Our next surprise for Mom was giving her a little book that many of her family and friends help put together. It was titled “A Life of Influence” and it’s pages were filled with personal stories and memories from about 50 friends and family.

Memories were shared of Mom (and often my Dad before he passed) sharing the Gospel, opening their home to guests, riding a motorcycle at age 73, taking Grandkids to Krispy Kreme downtown Atlanta in the middle of the night, Waffle House runs, Swan House trips, dressing up and fooling their entire Sunday School class at a dinner party, loaning her white Cadilac for a teen neighbor to take a girl out on a date and so much more.

She read some of the entries out loud and we laughed and reminisced and had a great time together. It’s a wonderful little treasure for her to have and we were so appreciative of everyone that took part in it. The common thread was that Mom had a big influence on a lot of people. I don’t think she realized just how much of an impact she has had on people. It was a true gift to see her enjoy such a sweet compilation of thoughts.

Then we went to Hall’s Chop House and had a wonderful dinner together. Mom loves a good restaurant and this was a wonderful one with a great view.

And then we went back to our fabulous little hotel that was built in 1925 but renovated by Westin just last year. It was beautiful and Mom loved it. We sat in the piano lounge and listened to live piano. My sister gave her a special photo book she made of all our family vacations to Destin, Fla over the last 18 years. So we listened to music and Mom loved seeing all the pictures put together in one place of our times at the beach. It was also a wonderful treasure of great memories.

Well at about 10pm my sister and I were exhausted and Mom had just gotten her second wind. I stood up to go upstairs to our room and Mom just kept sitting there. It was clear she wasn’t going anywhere. She was enjoying the atmosphere and didn’t want to leave. Eventually we strongly encourage her to go to bed! LOL. She probably would’ve gone out at midnight for a cup of coffee somewhere if we would’ve let her. She’s still got that “let’s go!” spirit inside of her.

We woke up the next morning and had a special time of prayer for Mom. And then asked her what advice she would give to anyone after having lived for 80 years. Here’s what she said:

Then we hit a few shops and ate lunch at a Trio, another fabulous little lunch spot downtown. And then we parted our ways. I headed back to NC and they went home to GA.

Such a special trip together.

And a big thanks to my man who graciously kept the kids and even fed them while I was gone.

 

Table Mentoring – a must read book!

Sue Donaldson, author of Table Mentoring, is the kind of woman that I’d venture to say many younger women call a “second Mom”. She’s the kind of woman you see Jesus in and the kind of woman you can call on at the last second….like when you think your chicken dish isn’t going to turn out in time for company.  (Don’t ask me how I know that). She’ll pull you out of a culinary bind from thousands of miles away and put your heart at ease. Sue’s passion is mentoring but she makes a strong case that mentoring should be a part of every believer’s life. And I can’t help but agree with her when I read scripture. This little treasure of a book opens my eyes even more to this fact.

“Do you need a table to Table Mentor? No. But a table imbues intimacy – an elbow-touching-grab-a-hand-in-prayer type of closeness. Table, bench, back steps, dorm hallway, coffee house – choose whichever promotes the progress of a hearty sharing. The place or porch doesn’t matter. Taking the time to listen does. Tell a story, gently nudge, cry some. laugh a lot, and give all to the Mighty Counselor before an after and maybe in the middle. Coming together until the misery is out of the commiserate, as you both sit at Jesus’ feet.” 

Sue goes on to say that in order to mentor we don’t have to have a Bible degree under our belt or a table or tons of time.

So what does one need in mentoring?

“You need an ongoing relationship with the Ultimate Mentor, and a bold desire to get close to someone who needs to hear what you’ve learned” 

I love how Sue points out that really anyone at any age can mentor because we all know someone older than us and someone younger than us. Finding the person to mentor is not the issue because God will lead us to that person. Sue also talks about this more in her book – how to approach finding and being a mentor. What to do once you start mentoring someone. There are wonderful resources in her book and on her website that help you get started. And her recipes are to die for. Sophie and I have already tried a few out and if I can do them then we all know you can do them!

Sue also has a book and a Bible Study out all centered on hospitality and mentoring. I only wish CA was a little closer to NC or she’d be speaking to our ladies at church in a  New York minute!

I hope you’ll check out Table Mentoring on amazon! It’s a quick easy read. For a deeper approach to the topic you’ll want to check out her book Come to My Table: God’s Hospitality & Yours.

So what about you?

Do you have a mentor in your life right now?

If so – what do you find most helpful in this relationship? What works for you and your mentor in terms of meeting and getting together?

Are you mentoring someone in your life right now? 

If so – what are you seeing God do in this relationship? What’s working well?

 

 

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.