We’re Hopping Here!

blog hop #1

Wow!  I have been asked to participate in a blog hop!  Until a couple weeks ago, I did not even know what that was.

However, when my sweet friend and sister-in-ministry, Katie Oldham from Happily Whole, asked me to participate, I decided to give it a shot.  I have know Katie for nearly a year now, as we both write for aNew Season Ministries.  She is a beautiful lady, inside and out, who love the Lord with all her heart and uses her gifts to nourish women, inside and out.  Thanks, Katie, for the invite!

So…here goes my post…

What am I working on?  Well, clearly, not enough, as evidenced by the lack of posts lately.  Ha!  On my blog to-do is our summer – the missions trip to SC (some posts written, but I have not told all that God did in us and through is there).  I also have some season-of-life issues to write about as I reflect on the changes in me and my world over the past few months.

How does my work differ from others of the genre?  God keeps showing me again and again that in His economy, all we go through is praiseworthy.  This blog helps me keep that in perspective.  I journaled for years prior to putting it out here in the public realm, and it was always helpful to me.  I would use pieces for devotions at church and with my work in widows’ ministry, and always got a good response…so I decided this might be a way to meet more people and share with them what God has done.  Lord willing, it helps them see their lives as a series of blessings from God., regardiness of the circumstances.

Why do I write about what I do?  I guess I answered that in part above…but here are some more details.  I get teased for being a glass-is-always-half-full gal, the perpetual polly-anna.  I don’t look at those qualities as being bad.  I like being positive!  When I start to feel a little down, I look to what God has done that week, that day, in my life.  He is always there working, no matter the circumstance, and sometimes I just need a perspective adjustment.  I need eyes to see the truth of His love swirling around me, to see the joy even on the darkest of days, to see who I am in Christ, regardless of what I have done or not done.  Maybe by sharing my journey, I can awake someone else to the joy in theirs.

How does my writing process work?  Many years ago I had a friend who was a song-writer.  He said that you could never throw away the little pieces of paper in his house before carefully looking them over because there were often song ideas scribbled on them.  I write kinda like that.  When the inspiration comes, I jot down a phrase, a word, sometimes a whole post.  I have them in a file (when I can find them and keep them from the dogs and kids) for further development later.  Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night and write.  Often I come back from my daily walk with a burning idea I need to write down.  The boys know that if I make a bee-line for the computer without much conversation to let me get my thoughts down before they escape.  I usually write with pen-and-paper first and then transfer to the computer…old school, I know.

Whew!  A lot of info!

I have the joy of introducing you to one of my dear friends and sister writers for aNew Season Ministries, Linda Lint.

closeup-lindaBlog:  Sparrow Scrolls.  My sweet sister Linda writes of her journey into widowhood from a place of total reliance on the Lord.  Her love for her Savior permeates each word she writes.  I love that she is honest in her posts – honest about the hard stuff and honest about the hope she has in Christ.  Read her blog; you will be blessed!

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Lessons From Moses

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Yesterday, I talked about the impact we were able to have on the VBS we helped with in South Carolina.

But this VBS also had an impact on me…

The subject matter was the journey of Moses and the children of Israel through the wilderness.*  A wonderful man from the church dressed as Moses each day and presented the Bible lesson to the children.  He was phenomenal!

The children walked the property, going on their own wilderness journey (complete with grumbling and complaining).  They ate tasty treats to remind them of the manna and quail the Lord sweetly provided for them in the desert.  They learned of the support provided Moses by Aaron and Hur as they tried to hold up their arms as long as they could.

All these lessons were meaningful representations of this period in our history.  The children were captivated by “Moses’s” story-telling ability, as well as by the object lessons.

And so was I.

Day four, however, made the biggest impact.

The story was of the Passover.  After hearing Moses describe the events, the children were able to paint red on the doorposts of “houses” in a simulated dark, Egyptian evening.

It was very moving.

As I stepped into the darkened room with my group of children, and watched my little boy paint on the doorposts of a “house,” I was moved to tears.

As simple as that act was for the kids, it was meaningful for the world when it really happened.

The foreshadowing of Jesus’ own blood covering the doorframe of my heart became real in a way that it never has before.  Even as I write this, several weeks later, I tear up again.

Because of what He did for me, I can live for Him..and with Him.

Hallelujah!

 

*Note:  I do not know if the ideas were from the curriculum they used or were their own.

What is a Missionary?

 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.   Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field.” – Matthew 9:37-38

A few days before we left on our missions trip, we learned we would be working a VBS (Vacation Bible School) at the church where we were staying.

I have to be honest.  I wasn’t thrilled.

We do VBS at our church, Lord.  Why go to another state and help them with theirs?

But, alas, I was short-sighted.  The Lord had big plans.

Sometimes missions work is to other members of the Body of Christ.

After we arrived, we learned the story…and why we were here.

The VBS had been very carefully planned.  With a church full of eager and creative people, the scenery was beautifully done, the crafts were carefully planned, and the snack time food was sure to be a hit.

What they did not have enough of was workers.

In fact, the VBS director had been praying on the drive to work one day, asking the Lord how this work was going to be accomplished without the workers.

Not coincidentally, our team lead came to see her that day to tell her that she had a team coming in that could work for the week.

So…we were a direct answer to prayer to work that VBS.

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Boy, does that feel good!  Thanks, Lord, for the blessing of seeing that we were needed!

And you know what?  It was actually the best VBS I have ever attended.

Dear Father, thank You for the reminder that Your ways are not our ways, and that there is work to be done for the Kingdom all over the place.  Thank You that we got to be a part of the blessing You gave to Providence Presbyterian.  You broke open the box I had put You in, dear Father, and I thank You for that!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Unexpected Joy

Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – I Corinthians 15:58

When I got home from a morning away recently, I found the younger boys had been busy.  They made me the following cards…just because:

from Tanner:

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from Jackson:

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I praise God for the moments when I feel appreciated!  It helps this weary mom continue on this journey.

But I know that, really, they appreciate me more than they say.

Being a mom is hard work.  Being a single mom is harder work.  I often feel ineffective, sub-standard.  I know that is often just Satan whispering in my ear, but that doesn’t mean that I am not affected by his malicious talk.

Those are the times when I need to wrap into God and remember why I am really doing this.

I am working in obedience to what the Lord has given me to do…to be their mom.

Not always perfectly, not always kindly, not always gracefully.  But I keep plugging on.

And that is ultimately what the Lord wants…my best effort.

I pray that I can always parent to His glory.  I also pray that when I don’t, I can forgive myself and keep plugging on.

Ultimately, that is what will be best for my boys.

And for me.

Becoming a Family

All the believers were together and had everything in common. –  Acts 2:44 (NIV)

We had the extreme joy of attending our second missions trip through Adventures in Missions last week.  And, just like last year, God showed up in a mighty way.  Praise Him!

We began our week as a group strangers…believers from across the country who had only a love of our Savior and a desire to serve Him in common.

We ended the week as family.

Virginia, North Carolina, New York, Georgia, Alabama, Nebraska, Connecticut, Illinois.  Cities, suburbs, and farms.  Young and old.  Big families and small.  Our demographics did not affect our love for our Savior, nor our ability to serve Him.

Big projects and small.   Serving brothers and sisters in Christ and working to introduce others to Him.  Hot and sweaty jobs and peaceful ones in air conditioning.

It is amazing to me what a week together will do to bond people together.  It is a beautiful thing.

For the rest of our time on this earth and into eternity, we will have each other…to pray for and to pray for us, to understand and remember the joys and hard work done on our trip, and, Lord willing, to spend more time with before we journey to Heaven.

Over the next few days, I will be sharing what God did in us and through us.  May you be blessed by my recounting.  We certainly were blessed to be  living it!

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(pictured:  most of our missions trip family)

Father’s Day…Heaven!

But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:15

This verse was Keith’s favorite, one that he sought to guide our family by throughout his life.

In light of his feelings about this verse, I think he would be pleased by how his boys spend Father’s Day today.

We arrived at church early so that the two older boys could practice for worship band.  They are often on stage, leading the congregation humbly to the Lord’s throne.  Today, I had the great joy of seeing them on stage together…working together to make sure the worship was well orchestrated and pleasing to God.  I cried those special Mom tears.

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Meanwhile, back in the church kitchen, my younger two boys were helping prepare the breakfast as they do each Sunday.  Each week, they help make breakfast and a bag lunch for a group of children we serve with a bus ministry.  More Mom tears.

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As a mom raising boys alone, I constantly pray that I am doing the right things to make sure they are learning to be men of God in the image of both their earthly father and their Heavenly Father.

Mornings like this morning give me confirmation that, with God’s help, they are.

And I thank the Lord mightily for this!  To Him be the glory!

How Not to Load a Dishwasher

As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. – Joshua 1:5b

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I am kind of a fanatic about my dishwasher. Perhaps you are, too.

I like it loaded a certain way, everything it a certain place.  I like the food well cleaned off before the dishes go in.  I like the disposal run often while the dishes are being cleaned.  My way allows the maximum use of every space in the thing, while not sacrificing cleanliness of the dishes.

I am in the process of teaching my older boys to load the dishwasher…to my satisfaction.  It is not as easy as it sounds.

They just don’t seem to get that my way is the best way, that I have loaded more dishwashers than they could possibly count, that my way will really make their job so much easier.

Nope.  They continue to struggle with doing it the way I want it done.  I have to retrain…and retrain…and retrain.  Ad nauseum.

What a visual image for me of what I make my heavenly Father go through!  He tells me again and again in His word how I should act, what I should do, how to cram the most joy possible into this earthly existence.  His ways are the best, the easiest, the most efficient, to complete this task called living the Godly life.

Yet, I go off on my own, trying to “load” my life a different way.  I try to take short cuts in the process of learning what I should do, failing to seek His advice on matters where I have questions.  I feel like close enough is good enough, and leave it at that, not aiming for wrapping into Him and His teachings in order to be a better servant to Him.  I don’t efficiently cleanse myself of my sins before Him so that when I go through the heat of life I come out chipped and still dirty…and I have to go back and try it again and again.  I want to do it my way, and I often pay the price for that.

Just like the boys and the dishwasher.

Second revelation to me:  I often get angry and frustrated with them for their carelessness and lack of attention to detail; He is forever patient with me in mine.

Wow.  Ouch.

As I think now of the dirty dishes on my counter, and the boy who will be coming to l0ad them shortly, help me remember, Lord, to take a page from Your playbook, not only in how I load my own life, but also in how I instruct these young men to load theirs.  Help me to be more like You as I teach them to be more like You.  In Your precious Name I pray, amen.