Halloween

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For over 10 years we had a carnival in our backyard to provide a safe, scary-free zone for Halloween. When my son hit 4th grade, we ended the event. I missed it the past 2 years. I didn’t miss the craziness of preparation but the delight in seeing my kids’ friends and their families enjoying themselves. We put on a great party.

This year I had the opportunity to help run the games at our church’s Trunk or Treat. The event was last night. I stepped in about 2 weeks beforehand so it was a bit of a rush to figure it all out. However, all my years of training in our backyard, paid off. It all came rushing back. One thing that didn’t return, the stress. I must admit I was a bit nervous yesterday. My nervousness stemmed from the fact that I’m still new at this church and didn’t know many people. The setup and tear down physically exhausted me. The people and the event energized me.

I noticed something during the process of serving at a new church – it’s different. It didn’t have the dynamics past events had for me. I didn’t have to fall into the old patterns that surrounded other large parties I facilitated. I saw the rhythm of my new church shine during this event. The main focus clearly was outreach and connection. God threw a huge party yesterday and we just set it up for Him. I loved that. I saw His spirit move in conversation. I saw Him bring joy to children and their parents when they won a cupcake. It’s the simple things He was working in. It was fine that a few signs fell down and that I got feedback over the sound system. God was present. Our community saw Him at His best – loving people through His people.

Serving God doesn’t have to be as big as overseeing games for a Trunk or Treat. He used the generous families who opened the trunk of their car, set up a few decorations and greeted members of the community. He used Boy Scouts, who don’t even attend our church, to run games and find joy themselves. The brave ones who manned the food stations were heroes. God used the sweet families who donated a bag of candy to hand out but couldn’t be at the event. Each piece “counts” as service. God used it all.

What is holding you back from stepping into service at your church or in your community? Start small. Just start. I know you will find joy in unexpected places.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

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Re-engage

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It’s over 100 degrees today (October 23). It’s too hot to do much of anything. I did my shopping early then holed up in my air-conditioned home to finish laundry. However, it is a good day to sip iced tea and reflect. You see, the past few weeks I chose to re-engage. I dove back into three areas of life that have been a bit weak lately: my brain, my heart to serve and my need for fellowship.

As a mom of two teens and a tween, my brain is maxed out. I have to stay one step ahead of each of them. I need to predict their next moves. I don’t get enough sleep because they like to stay up later than I do and I often get a “Mom, can you help?” after I’m all tucked in. To re-engage my brain, is a difficult task. When I’m not “on” as mommy, I kinda wanna check-out. Yet, I took on the challenge to re-educate myself in computer languages with a possibility of re-entering the workforce. (What is it with my use of “re” today?). For those who don’t know, my degree is in Information and Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics. I worked for 11 years as a computer programmer. The cool thing is that my brain jumped right back into learning mode. Learning brings me joy. I am pleasantly surprised that my passion is still there.

Jumping back into service isn’t as easy as reading a textbook. It required me to share my heart with the pastors at my church. It required me to “figure out” my new area of service. I see many possible areas I can go into. However, I only want to step into serving where God wants to use me. I’m waiting on His go ahead in a few possible places. On a smaller scale though, I did take on organizing games for our Trunk or Treat event this Sunday October 29 from 4-6 p.m. at 121 Alice Street, Arcadia. Shameless plug to get you to join us. It’s truly fun to organize and plan. Moments of stress are outweighed by the pleasure of using my organizational gift to help serve my church and community.

My last area of re-engagement is in fellowship. I have friends I hang with. I just had a girls night out actually. By fellowship, I mean connecting with the people of my church and being known in my place of worship. I have been a part of this church for almost a year. I recognize faces and even remember a few names but mostly that is the extent of my connection. This past Sunday, our pastor’s wife hosted a luncheon for women in our church. I went. I didn’t immediately make a new BFF but I met some wonderful ladies who I hope to say hi to next Sunday and beyond. A few women I met, I wanted to talk more with. Possible friendships may grow from those encounters. What a joy to be able to be a part of a group of women who all love God. I am grateful I chose to step out of my comfort zone and fellowship.

What area of your life do you need to re-engage? Think about it. Pray about it. Then, act on it.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Acceptance

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I am watching a weekly video series called “Goliath Must Fall” by Louie Giglio. It’s been a powerful study on facing giants in our life. This week he dealt with rejection. Did you know that David (who ultimately kills Goliath) wasn’t presented by his father for consideration to be king?

I Samuel 16: 10-11 – Jesse had seven of his sons pass before Samuel, but Samuel said to him, “The Lord has not chosen these.” 11 So he asked Jesse, “Are these all the sons you have?” “There is still the youngest,” Jesse answered. “He is tending the sheep.”

David didn’t hold high standing in his family. He held a lowly position of being a shepherd. He served his brothers and father. He didn’t have acceptance in his family. He lived with rejection.

Louie asks in his video, “do you live for acceptance or from acceptance?”

David, who had a heart for God, lived from acceptance. He trusted God. He knew God intimately. He had so much free time alone in the wilderness and used that time to talk to God and develop a close relationship with Him. He owned that he was loved and fully accepted by God. When he fought Goliath, it wasn’t to earn his brothers approval. He didn’t do his job well to earn his father’s approval. He did his job well because that is what God asks of us – to do our best.

If David lived for acceptance, he would have fought Goliath with Saul’s armor and taken powerful weapons. He probably would have made sure everyone saw him and made some proud statements before the fight. Yet, David lived from acceptance so he took his staff, 5 smooth stones and a sling shot.

How different our lives would be if we lived from acceptance (the knowledge that we are fully loved and accepted). We wouldn’t second guess when our friend didn’t reply to our text immediately. We wouldn’t feel embarrassed when our kid throws a fit in public. We wouldn’t be jealous when our friend gets something good in her life and we don’t. We wouldn’t be anxious, nervous, angry, frustrated, etc. but instead would be content and see the lovely, pure and good.

Stop striving for acceptance in your life. Live from acceptance. Let the knowledge that you are fully loved wash over every area of your life. God doesn’t promise a problem free life. He does promise to never leave or forsake you and to be near to the brokenhearted. He’s accepted us. We are fully loved as we are today. What else could we need?

Dream Big! Pray Big!

Healthy Eating

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I saw a great video on Facebook called the Time Travel Dietician. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Ua-WVg1SsA). There is a husband and wife in the 70s eating breakfast. A dietician from the future arrives and says, “don’t eat the eggs. They are bad for you. The cholesterol will kill you.” The dietician leaves then reappears and says, “we were wrong about the eggs. It’s OK to eat the whites not the yolks.” The dietician leaves again then reappears and says, “don’t eat the steak. Red meat increases your change of a heart attack.” And on and on. (Watch it. It’s funny.)

I bring this up because I am on a search for a healthy eating plan for me. I’m not 20 anymore and my body needs a change in diet. However, that video is the definition of my frustration. Don’t you feel like the rules for healthy eating changes often? Eat eggs, don’t eat eggs. Use coconut oil, don’t use coconut oil. I saw a clip from Dr. Oz who says, “legumes are great for you.” Another meal plan I looked at encouraged eating no legumes (or dairy or sugar or …) Or as the dietician said in a healthy eating and cooking class I took, “fat is fat is fat. There is no good fat or bad fat. Eating an 1/8 of an avocado is the same as eating a pat of butter.” OK – then I’ll eat a pat of butter. Let’s just say I left the class near tears. I don’t know who to listen to. I just want to give up.

Before you start sending me comments on your opinions, let me share a scripture with you that encouraged me today.

Colossians 2:20-22 – “Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. ” (Bold faced type from me.)

Why am I searching the world for answers to healthy eating? Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch! This sounds just like all the people out there giving us advice on how to eat. Don’t!!!!!! It’s all confusing.

What I plan to do is ask God which eating plan should I follow? What is best for me? What nutrients does my body, that God created, need? Guess what? I’m confident He’ll direct me. He’ll guide me out of the confusion of human rules based on their knowledge. These meal plans aren’t all bad. One will work for me. One will work for you. They may not be the same one though. For those who have found success and what makes their body thrive, congratulations. I will continue my search with my missing piece – asking the creator of my body what my body needs. He knows.

Don’t expect me to share my newly acquired eating plan when I find it. If I did, I would be no different from those shouting DON’T! I will tell you that God will direct me. Frustration is not how I’m supposed to live. I plan to seek God’s path for me and my health. Hope you find yours too.

Dream Big! Pray Big!

 

 

Praying the News

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I woke up to news of the horrific Las Vegas massacre. My heart is heavy. My mind can’t release it. I am in constant prayer. I shared with my kids at breakfast what happened. I wanted them to be prayerful today. Facebook is full of people saying “pray for Las Vegas.” What does that look like? How do we effectively pray for this tragedy? How can we help from far away?

Pray for the families and friends of those who lost loved ones. At least 50 people died. The numbers may increase as surgeries and attempted recovery happens. We can pray that those grieving will draw near to God. If they don’t know God, we can pray they will find Him through this painful time. We can pray the following verse for them.

Psalm 34:18 says The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

Pray for those who are physically wounded and fighting for their lives. There are many who were shot and had surgery to save their lives. We can pray for God to heal them.

Psalm 6:2 says Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony.

Pray for those who were there and survived. Their hearts will be troubled for a long time.

Psalm 25:17 saysRelieve the troubles of my heart and free me from my anguish.”

Pray for the first responders. They had to witness some horrific things.

Psalm 18:6 says In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.

Pray for God to be real to anyone impacted by this. We are all shaken today. We are scared. We are mad. We are confused. We are reeling. We need an anchor. We need hope. We need something, someone to cling to. We need God. He’s there for us. He’s there for those who don’t yet know Him. He’s there for the lady you talk to in the grocery store about this. He’s there for the man cursing God’s name today for allowing this to happen. He’s there for the child who witnessed death at a concert. He’s there. How can we give God and His hope to others?

Be bold today. Don’t just shake your head and say this is overwhelming. Speak truth. Speak love. Speak healing. Speak hope. Share one of the verses above with someone. Pray with the lady in line at the grocery store. Tell her you are overwhelmed but God provided you with peace this morning as you turned to Him in prayer. Tell someone God loves them, He sent His son to die on the cross for their disobedience to God but rose again to life and to give them eternal life. Jesus is our way to peace in chaos.

Our world is chaos. Evil reigns in the hearts of men and women. The man who did this had evil in him. So do I. So do you. We aren’t slaves to it anymore. We can live rightly because of God’s presence in our life.

Romans 6:18 – You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.

Today, spend time reading God’s word, the Bible. Let it bring you peace. The Psalms are a great place to find comfort. If you want to know more about how to know God deeper, email me. Let’s talk. I can’t handle what happened in Vegas. I am grateful I have a source of hope and help because I am intimately connected to the God of the universe who can comfort me, guide me, and keep my heart in prayer all day.

Dream Big! Pray Big!