When you don’t feel all Proverbs 31’ish

For these reasons and more I have never written my name in the margin of Proverbs 31:

1) I caught Sunday lunch on fire this past Sunday. My husband blew it out.

2) I added these to a pork roast recipe because I thought they were the same thing as dried onions. But they’re not. Fried and Dried are not the same thing.

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3) My husband has worn underwear  socks inside out because I was not up while it was still dark washing or darning new ones for him. And for the record the only “darn” I know about is the word you say when you really want to say something else. Ahem.

4) Our daughter wears mismatched socks almost every single day….not due to a trend thing.

Oh I could go on but I’ll leave it at that and make my point. Because there is only 8,464 more things I could add to this list it made something that happened last week even more special to me.

On one of our Proverbs readings last week we all read Proverbs 31. The family is scattered in the living room and we’re all reading our verses. I read and kept silently saying to myself, “Dangit I gotta work on that!” Or “That is so not me but I would like for it to be.” And so on.

We usually just read and pray and head out the door. But this morning was different. Randy began reading Proverbs 31 out loud and he would stop and make some comments about me in between. He would say, “Mom takes care of the poor – how does she do that?” The kids took part and together they built me up and pointed out areas that I was like the Proverbs 31 woman and I was in awe. In shock more like. It’s not that I think I’m a lame chick wallowing in self pity. I just don’t think of myself  in terms of Proverbs 31. I want to get there but I’m not yet. So to hear my man and my kids affirm me in this was so very moving. They prayed over me and thanked God for me and my heart melted in a puddle. I will never forget that moment.

And that night for dinner?

We had the best meal we’ve had in a long time.

The house?

Was immaculate.

The hubs underwear and socks?

Clorox clean!

Kids clothes?

Washed, ironed, folded and put away neatly completely with matching socks for the girly girl.

And even if I haven’t felt Proverbs 31’ish before I am starting to strive for it more intentionally.

I am a blessed woman of God – not because of what I do or don’t do but because of His grace for me through it all.

Linking with Jennifer, Holley and kristin.

My “word” could be dangerous if I’m not careful

Ya know, I really thought my “word for the year” was going to have to be “Daggum” for a while because I could not come up with just one word. I’m noticing I’m not the only one who is having a hard time narrowing it down to just one word and I find a little comfort in that.

But after sitting down and praying and looking over the last few sermons that our amazingly smokin’ hot pastor preached I settled in on a word today.

 “Strategic” 

Making the best use of my time. Having long term and short term goals and a means to reach them. Not just flying by the seat of my britches which is sort of fun sometimes but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t accomplish quite as much.

My Bible’s commentary note on Ephesians 5:15 -17 says, “The foolish person has no strategy for life and misses opportunities to live for God in an evil environment.”

I also love this verse in Colossians 4:5-6. Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

This verse is another reminder of making the most of the opportunities before us each day. And also emphasizes the importance of wisdom in acting towards unbelievers. ie: Don’t be a Christian jerk.

My desire for 2015 is to lead a Spirit-led life. One in which I have prayerful strategies in place for my own personal goals and also to point others to Jesus. I feel Him moving in my heart and impressing on me some strategic plans in growing my faith and bringing others along with me.

The dangers for me in this word is that I have the potential to be strategic in my own effort without seeking God’s face in the matter. You know, just whipping out a notebook and writing down a million ideas. Talking about those ideas with the appropriate powers to be and then lining up all the details to make it happen. But that’s not the kind of strategy I’m going for. I desire Spirit-led Strategy. I want to submit to the Spirt of God and when He trumps the strategy and plans I thought were the right ones, in humility, I want to lean into His ways and plans for me. To listen and hear from Him but to also have a strategy and plan for life as the Scripture tells me to do.

Do you have a word for the year? If so, what is it? I would love to pray that word over you for 2015 and would love for you to pray that God will help me be Spirit-led Strategic this year.

 

Youth helping lead worship – I love it

We had a most special Christmas service at church Sunday. Randy always purposefully crafts a quiet and somber atmosphere with low lights, asking people to quietly enter the auditorium and communicating that the way Jesus came into this world was not with bombast and fare. Rather it was most likely quiet and simple. And so we would this morning read through the Christmas story with a quiet heart. Students read select passages from scripture and then lit a candle on the advent wreath. We saw after each reading how more light, because of the Light, was brought into the world. I was so proud of all the kids for reading. They did such a good job. I hate that all my pictures didn’t turn out.

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We also had the opportunity to receive communion and then give our gifts back to God. There was a wooden manger set up and we could come and receive communion and then give our offerings to God. This was the first time our church has ever participated in an offering of this manner – going forward to give. There were some hesitations about it and concerns but oh my goodness it was such a sweet time. I think in the end everyone loved having this opportunity. I’ve learned from our black churches in town that going forward to give is just a normal thing. And it’s an exciting thing. They have a huge celebration going on with people clapping and music blaring as gifts are brought forth the King. It’s not a time of looking to see who is giving and who is not. That’s just sick. But instead it’s a privilege to bring forth a portion of what God has given to us.

Of course we can’t have a Sunday without a little bit of drama and it came during communion. A certain somebody, who has been on prednisone for 5 days with no taper, refused to partake of the cup. So she is holding her grape juice and not drinking it in the pew. When I ask about it she had no reason as to why she didn’t want to take it. I’m baffled at this. She has always taken communion since she got saved and looks forward to it. In my confusion I’m asking a million questions making it more all about her than she was already making it. So we’re fighting over communion. Lovely. To top it off, at some point she spills the grape juice all over me, my Bible, the pew and her dress. She quickly gulps down the tiny drop that’s left and starts crying.  And that’s how our Sunday morning church service ended.

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The Christmas open house was so much fun. Many people were sick with the flu this year and so we had about half as many people as we normally do. But it was fun with those who came. Sophie loves helping  make the punch. I noticed this year she added some artwork to the outside of the frosted punch bowl with her finger. Oh well, at least it wasn’t in the dust on the end tables.

Community Outreach instead of Cyclical Church Events

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For the first time ever our church took Trunk R Treat to a slightly sketchy neighborhood park. We had no idea what to expect but we prayed and planned and asked God to provide us with what He knew we needed for the night. Our church family worked hard and long to create a lit up obstacle course on the playground, set up decorated tables of candy and created a “dark room” where the Gospel would be presented every 4 minutes for two and a half hours straight.

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We are a small rural town and estimate that around 1000+ people came through the park. Of those people only about 5% got their candy and skipped out on the “Dark Room” where Randy gave a short telling of the Gospel using different kinds of light to represent how we can all go from dark to light through Jesus Christ.

We got home last night and neither one of us could sleep because we were so excited about the night. What God did. How excited our church family was about what God did. It’s impossible to do what God created us to do (to know Him and share His Good News with others) and not get a thrill from it. Combine that with a sugar induced high and you got some major sleep deprivation going on. And so as I lay awake late last night these are the things that ran through my mind and heart in regards to outreach.

#1 You know your Trunk R Treat is a true “community outreach” event when there is only one Bible character that shows up out of hundreds of people and everyone mistakes “Moses” for  Gandalf. You can catch a glimpse of Gandalf’s twin, Moses, below. Love it!!!

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#2 Another way we know we’re participating in a true community outreach is when the church is serving off site. It’s easy to set up our church homes with all kinds of fun stuff and ask people to come to us – and there’s nothing wrong with that – but true outreach is when we reach out to people beyond our church property. Beyond the pews and steeples. It’s when we go to our community instead of asking them to come to us every. single. time.

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#3 Outreach is taking the love and message of Jesus to places where people are comfortable showing up. I can’t know for sure but I would say that more than half the people that came to the park last night and sat through a 3 minute sharing of the Gospel most likely don’t and would not step foot in church. We can make all kinds of judgements about people who choose to stay away from church but the bottom line is this: do we want them to hear the Gospel and be shown the love of Jesus? If so, we must be willing to serve outside the walls of our churches.

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#4 Reaching out in our communities will get messy. But it’s worth it. People will be rude. There will be times that people will take advantage of your kindness. Not necessarily often but when it happens it will make you stop in your tracks and ask yourself if it’s worth it. And we remind ourselves that it is so worth it. Remembering where we were before Christ and recalling the abundant life we now have in Christ will remind us how worth-it it is.

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#5 Outreach is not about building our church but solely about building the Kingdom of God. Sometimes that translates into our churches growing and that’s awesome but the motivating factor in outreach is to share Jesus with people expecting nothing in return. That’s why church turf guarding isn’t necessary one bit. Last night we were telling people about the other awesome churches in our community doing Trunk R Treat at their church. One person made the comment they were going to Community Baptist Church next and I had to tell them “Dude, this is Community Baptist Church!” That was an awesome moment. They said, “Really! That is so cool that ya’ll came to the community for this. Thanks for doing that.”

I’ve mentioned before that our church is learning and growing in so many areas. Getting out of our comfort zone is one of them. But we are seeing God go before us, provide for us and do through us what we could never do ourselves. One of our members looked at me last night as we were taking down the last of everything at the park and he said, “Now this was church right here.” I couldn’t say it better myself!

 

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.

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.

Worst prank ever

Tonight I was cooking dinner and sent the kids outside to play. I gave them options since at times they only think they’re capable of watching TV or gaming. Jump on the trampoline, shoot air soft guns, walk the dog down the street, scale a tree…..just get your fannies outside and play.

A few minutes later I look out the window and see a splotch of blue through the trees walking way down the sidewalk with his sister in tow. I didn’t think much of it until I saw the dog at my feet and glanced at the back porch and saw no guns where they’re usually laying when they’re shooting. Signs of trouble. I could feel it in my bones.

The phone rang and it was Randy. I said, “Hey, is it a big deal if the kids are walking down the street carrying air soft guns?” He said, “Probably not but they really shouldn’t do that.” I didn’t think it was a good idea but I just wasn’t sure how big a deal it was.

I hop in the van and drive down the road and sure enough….there are my two vagabonds roaming the streets with an air soft assault rifle in hand and a pistol. They were shooting at trees. I slowed the van down, gave the evil eye and pointed with my finger for them to get in the van. They were all like, “What’s wrong Mom?” I gave them the lecture about treating air soft guns like real guns and walking in public with real looking guns and how they could get arrested if they pointed that at someone and it looked real. Besides they didn’t even ask if they could leave our yard with them.

We got home and I told them I understood they didn’t know not to do that but to never do it again. I made them put up their guns for the day and said we’d try again tomorrow. All was good.

I texted Randy a few minutes later to tell him what happened. He said, “Take a picture and then arrest them.” I texted back and said, “You should call the home number (knowing Sophie would answer) and pretend to be the police. Ha! Ha!”

A few minutes later the phone rings while Sophie is setting the table. I hear her say Hello and then she runs into the living room and says in sheer panic, “Mom, I think it’s Dad but I’m not sure.” He had just said in a disguised voice, “Hello, this is the Police Department looking for the two kids walking down the street with air soft guns.”

Knowing it was Randy and what he was doing I said, “Nah, honey, I think Dad’s in a meeting.”

This is terrible. Really it is. What happened next is nothing but the truth.

Her face literally went ashen, she throws the phone at me as if it’s a hot potato and runs up the stairs wailing, “Mitchell! Mitchell! It’s the police!! They saw us! This is the worst day of my liiiife”

Randy was on the phone laughing so hard because he could hear everything. I was about to wet my pants. I was in pure shock at her reaction because you can’t usually pull anything over this child and I’ve never seen her so rattled in my life. We were both taken back by her response.

I quickly yelled upstairs for Sophie to come downstairs. Oh bless her. She came down, still clutching the four knives she hadn’t yet placed on the table and she was bawling. I said, “Honey, it was Dad on the phone not the police. He was just kidding with you.”

I hugged her and held her tight and felt like the biggest piece of scum for coming up with such a scheme. She kept crying and I said, “Honey, what was going through your mind?” She said, “That we were about to get arrested.”

Oh.my.word!

So what kind of Mom were you today?

Family is a gift

We had the best week with our families last week! We got to meet new family members (sweet little Lily and her big sister Addie) and spend time with family that we don’t get to see often. It was really such a wonderful visit.

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We could not wait to hold Lily!

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And what would a trip to Atlanta be without a Krispy Kreme run? Thanks to Randy’s Dad we enjoyed one or five… or maybe twenty four? Speaking of 24…..did you see the final episode last Monday? We got sucked in again. (wow, that was quite ADD-ish of me to switch from donuts to TV all in one breath)

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Girls night in – pajama party….did nails, had popcorn and watched Princess Diaries. That’s my sister-in-law on the left, my sister next to her and then Sophie and then my Mom on the right. Love ALL those girls so much.

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And there’s nothing like riding your bike barefoot in the rain around your Grandmother’s neighborhood! I honestly think this was one of her favorite things of the week.

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While we were there we celebrated 21 years of marriage! Randy and I had a special night out and went to one of our favorite places to eat – Stoney River. Then we drove around and reminisced about our dating years which took place right in that area. We drove by the church where we grew up and got married in. Our friend, Alan Chambers, has a tradition with his wife on their anniversary of having their picture taken on the steps of the church they were married in. I LOVE that idea. But for us it would be a picture on the steps of a bank since the church got torn down a while back. So sad.

What I appreciated so much about this trip was that my brother and sister took some special time with our kids and did some fun things with them. My brother showed Mitchell all of my Dad’s guns and how to load and shoot, etc. Mitchell loved this. Then he took them to the park and let them ride their bikes. My sister took the kids to the creek and let them play and hang out at her house. Mitchell caught a baby snake and he watched Dr. Who with it in a jar right next to him. Hog heaven for that boy. It traveled back with us – all six hours. NOT hog heaven for me.

We had a great visit with our families. My Mom is my hero because of her strength and selflessness. She is struggling with COPD and is on oxygen at nights and during the day when she walks or stands for more than 15 minutes. This has been a huge adjustment for her the last two months. We are praying this is temporary and she’ll be able to come off the oxygen soon during the day. I would love your prayers for her as well. She’s a mover and shaker and can’t usually be slowed down but I see how this last bought with pneumonia has affected her stamina. Still, with all this, she never really stopped going. I hope I have that much strength when I’m her age which I won’t state since she would spank the living life out of me.

P.S. I’m addicted to Candy Crush! I thought I was all smarty pants for making it to level 14 until I found out both my Sister-in-Laws are like in the hundreds level! One of them helped me get out of the whopping 22nd level and on to level 23. Whoo-hoo! And that music that goes with it…..oh my word…..bang my head against a wall! I turn the sound off but then end up missing calls because I forget to turn it back on.  Yeah, I’m totally gaming ya’ll! Ha! Ha!

 

 

 

3 lessons learned & random miscellany

Lesson #1: Don’t recycle bird nests for bird use

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If you have ever wondered if you could trick a fallen baby bird by putting it into a nest that’s not it’s own just know it doesn’t work. The rescue attempt is a kind hearted move but the bird will fly out immediately and make a beak dive and injure it’s other wing. We have six bird nests that we’ve recovered from our ferns on the front porch. So we tried recycling them. Didn’t work. Yeah, just don’t try to be green when it comes to bird nests. Unless you want to use it as a candy dish and that’s just gross. I’m pretty sure that’s how people get the bird flu.

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On a happier note we had a great time with church/school staff on July 4th cooking out and doing fireworks with the kids in the front yard. About the time a bottle rocket landed on a roof at the same time a policeman drove by we decided we should be done. But it was fun while it lasted.

Lesson #2: Save the bottle rockets for the beach or the country. Not the city limits.

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This week Mitchell was at a lego robotics camp at our local community college. It was a lot of fun for him although he really enjoys building more than programming. This was a great experience for him.

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While he was doing his lego thing Sophie and I had some special girl time. We got our nails done one day and walked our little downtown and got ice cream. It was a fun time together.

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I found this adorable whicker basket in one of my favorite little shops called Mish Mosh. I’m thinking I may go back and get it if it’s not already sold. It would be so cute with long twigs coming out or some lighted stalks of something. But I’m being budget girl right now so I’m not spending money on things that aren’t needs. I don’t know though, sometimes you just need a whicker basket.

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 Lesson #3: Don’t try to explain what a Mammogram is to your children. 

I was praying with someone over the phone this week who was about to have a mammogram and she was very anxious about it. We prayed and apparently I used the word “mammogram” enough times for our seven year old to ask me about it when I got off the phone. Ironically she was content to accept my simple answer of, “It’s a test that helps Doctors determine if you have cancer.”

But it was our teenage son that asked a million questions. What kind of test? How do they do the test? Where do they do the test? Have you had the test? Do men have the test? Is it a shot? I tried so very hard to avoid specific answers for whatever reason. Maybe because I just found it awkward? But finally I was pressed so hard with the questions that I just unloaded and gave the full description.

Mitchell’s eyes were are as wide as saucers and Sophie is belly aching with laughter. Mitchell is horrified at the thought and in pure shock. He asks if Sophie would ever have to have one and when I replied in the affirmative her laughing suddenly came to an abrupt halt. I told her she had to grow them first and then wait for like 25 years before she had to have one so she didn’t need to worry about it.

When Randy got home for dinner the kids revisit the mammogram conversation and start telling Randy, complete with sound effects and charade type gestures, what a mammogram is.  I’m pretty sure Randy was in about as much shock as the kids were because after 21 years of marriage this is one topic we’ve never really discussed.

I’m just hoping it doesn’t come up in church or school as a prayer request soon. I can just see my kids requesting prayer for all the 35 year old women and up that will have to endure a mammogram. Nice.

Alrighty then, that’s what we’ve learned the last two weeks. What about you? Learning anything practical you’d like to share with the rest of us?

 

When God responds to our giving

I shared recently about our reluctant but willing heart in something we felt God calling us to do. I am cautious in sharing for fear it might be taken the wrong way but I can’t help but want to share what God did. The day we gave into God and put forth what we knew he was telling us to give financially we told the kids that God would honor obedience. God wasn’t bound by our obedience in anyway way. He didn’t owe us anything and we shouldn’t give so that we can get things in return BUT God honors and rewards an obedient heart. We encouraged our kids to be on the look out for God at work in the area of provision. It could be months down the road. We might not actually see it anytime soon but to be sure – he will provide our needs.

So we started this board the day of the offering. A way to record the ways we see God providing for us.

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And literally on the first day we started it we had something to write on it. And the second day and the third. God has been providing and our kids have seen God in a new and fresh way. What started out with tears and resistance has been a process that has grown our faith incredibly, as a family.

About four days into recording God’s provision a huge storm came our way complete with 60 mph winds and hail. The next day we found a huge limb that landed on the edge of our porch but somehow missed the roof/gutter. It would’ve done some serious damage. God protected us. What’s even more wild is that a tree man had just come by our house several months earlier saying he would cut that exact limb down for us because it was dead and would eventually do roof damage if it came down. He wanted $200 to take it down. We passed. When I looked at that very limb on the ground and saw what God had done – protected and provided –  I yelled for the kids to come outside. I showed them and told them about the limb and ya’ll I saw a huge light bulb go off in Mitchell’s and Sophie’s head. Mitchell says to me, “Ohhhhh I know where this is going! We paid God to take that limb down.”

Well……not exactly but yeah, you totally get it!

A few days later we go the mailbox and the only piece of mail is a $400 check from a family friend we see every few years. What???? Are you kidding me???? I call the kids in and sit on the couch and show them the check. Eyes are wide and the provision of God is once again cemented into their hearts and minds. At dinner time we revealed the good news to Randy and he too was in awe of God’s faithfulness.