Service requires an attitude of ownership

I was honored.

Serve Weekend is a huge collaborative outreach effort in our community every year.  Five churches and hundreds of local volunteers tackle projects throughout our town as a means to reach the lost with the grace filled message of Christ.

David & I were asked to lead a picnic at a local high rise.  We said, “You bet”, thinking this would be no big deal.  I can coordinate our volunteer groups, he can grill and we both know our way around the grocery store.  Bring it on.

Then we were given the budget.

Eep.

Let’s just say no shoestrings were harmed in the creation of the budget.  Just the aglets.  Now, instead of calling volunteers with information on when and where to show up, I was also going to have to ask for them to help provide a portion of the meal for over 100 people.

Is it hot in here?

Our life group immediately jumped on board in helping us to create a menu and activity plan as well as being the first to sign up to bring food items.

Aren’t you thankful for those people?

They always remind me that kingdom service isn’t meant to be a solitary effort.

I woke up the next morning still feeling a bit anxious about the whole thing. Deep down, I know God will provide us with exactly what we need but I am the type of girl that likes organization and order.  Not faith with the potential of fallout.

Before starting calls to the rest of the volunteer team, I went to Gods word and found an incredible group of ladies in Luke 8: 1-3.  Their story goes like this:

Soon afterward Jesus began a tour of the nearby towns and villages, preaching and announcing the Good News about the Kingdom of God. He took his twelve disciples with him, along with some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases. Among them were Mary Magdalene, from whom he had cast out seven demons;  Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s business manager; Susanna; and many others who were contributing from their own resources to support Jesus and his disciples.
 In one short minute, these ladies taught me more about the biblical concept of service than a month of sermons.
Their service was driven by what Jesus had done for them, not what they could do for him.  They brought their testimony on tour with Jesus and his disciples.  Living, breathing examples of the power of God at work in their lives.  Driven by demons in their past only to be released to walk in freedom with their savior.  Can you hear their testimony?  Can you see the crowds captivated by their stories?
These women contributed their own resources to help support Jesus and his disciples.  They were invested.  They had skin in the game. Investment equals ownership.  This was no longer just a following this guy called Jesus thing.  They held a piece of ownership in God’s kingdom. They gave what they had to further the cause of Christ to those who desperately needed his message hope.
And now, I’m not so anxious about these calls I need to make.  I’m excited to partner with God in an event that can reach many with his name.  As I talk with each person who has signed up, they each have a story about why they chose this project.
My mother lived there for years.
I live there now and just want to reach people for Jesus.
How can I help? Is there anything more that you need?
Service, with a little skin in the game, brings a sense of ownership to God’s kingdom plan.  It changes the way we think.  It changes the way we talk.  It generates excitement.  This is no longer a picnic sponsored by my church.  This picnic is now a collaboration between Christ’s church and his people saying, “Yes God.  Use me and all I have to further your name in my community.”
Can you pray for us in the week to come?  Serve will happen this Saturday, June 27th.  It’s God’s chance to shine through his people.  We pray for his provision and lots of opportunity to share his message of hope and grace to those who may need to hear it and claim it for their own lives.

Misplaced Monday’s: Accountability

“What on earth is that?”

I am gazing at a sticky, snot like stain on my front door window.  It’s about 2 inches wide and 3 inches tall.  A dead fly is stuck in the corner with a collage of legs and wings from his nearest and dearest friends.

“Wow.  You just noticed that.  It’s been there forever.” Says the teen.

“Jeez, Mom. I can’t believe you just saw that.” Says the tween.

“It’s been there for years,” says the man. “It ‘s just a sticker that melted to the window.”

“So,” I reiterate, “We have had a snot blob and fly guts stuck to the window for years.  You all have seen it and not one of you has bothered to take a scraper and clean it up.”

“Look how long it took you to notice,” my smug man says with a smile on his face.

Is anyone else’s blood pressure a little high?

I proceed to explain the importance of taking care of messes as soon as you see them.  Just because no one else seems to notice does not make a difference. You saw it.  You handle it.

However, no one is listening.  The fact that I ranted this very  speech just two hours before might be a reason to take into account.  Is it really too much to expect your family to clean up the mess the Diva wonder dog left.  4/5 of my family walked through the war-torn mess of half eaten Q-tips and wash rags yet not one took the initiative to clean it up off of the bathroom floor.

Come on!

Yet, in the world outside of our homes we tend to turn a blind eye as well.

How many times have you seen a brother or sister walking into a dangerous, broken or messy situation and chosen to turn your head.

How many times have you looked the other way when you see a friend engaged in behavior that can harm their most precious relationships, but you didn’t say a word because it was none of your business.

How many times?

Iron sharpens IronAnd is it really our place?

This issue of accountability has resided close to my heart as I think of the many times I chose to turn a blind eye.  Our command is to get involved.  Especially when the one engaged in sin is a member of the family of believers.

Accountability is something we all need from time to time.  Who better to help us than our family of believers who love us enough to say the words we need to hear to turn away from sin, repent and pull back on track with God.  Yet, in this business of confrontation, we have some firm rules we need to follow to keep our walk in the clear.

We must confront with a spirit of gentleness.  Leave the tar and feathers at home. This is about approaching what is tender and opening the possibility of God’s grace to enter, heal and restore.

This starts as a between me and you conversation.  Not me and you after I put you on the prayer list at life group.   If this conversation doesn’t work, you are then allowed to recruit help.  Again, confidentiality is so important.  If you find yourself in this situation, confide in someone who will help and keep the transgression quiet while going back to your brother and sister.  If they still turn you away, you  go the church.

Can I be honest with you for a second?  This scares the stuffing out of me.  Go to the church? EEP.

Let’s get back to the role of the church.  To be the hands and feet of a loving Christ.  My thought is that going to the church means seeking the presence of your pastor, or elders who can approach the sin with appropriate counsel & correction while holding the sinner with love, dignity and respect.

It all comes down to this.  We have specific instructions to hold our brothers and sisters accountable.  We live a higher standard in Christ.  We can’t live dual lives. We’re different. We’re marked by grace. We can’t turn a blind eye because no one else has noticed and you don’t want to get your hands dirty.

I think of something I heard a long time ago.  It has always stuck with me.  A pastor’s wife was giving her testimony in church and she said, “You wouldn’t let someone run into the path of an oncoming car without trying to stop them.”

Who needs your interception today?

Just think of the lives that could be changed if we made the intentional choice not to turn a blind eye any longer.

Maybe it’s not her. Maybe it’s me.

The darkening sky is reflecting the stormy atmosphere inside of my car.  My daughter is singing along with the radio while my son’s fingers are jammed into his ears as far as they will go without the need for surgical removal.

Lightening strikes.

“Chloe, if you don’t stop singing, the lightening is going to strike you so you can’t sing anymore!”

Sometimes, people just get under your skin.

Lately, I have found myself challenged by difficult people. People different than me.  People who annoy me.  People who choose to go their own way and have a tendency to throw a kink in my well thought out plans.  People who act as a speed bump to the flow of progress.  And, when my flow of progress is bumped, my inner mean girl comes out.  Thoughts start to circulate in my head.

Thoughts like:

How can you be so oblivious?

I would love to put her in her place!

I really dislike that woman.

The real tragedy occurs when I allow premature judgement feed my annoyance.

Finally, all of you should be of one mind.  Sympathize with each other.  Love each other as brothers and sisters.  Be tenderhearted, and keep a humble attitude.

1 Peter 3:8

What if, instead of making snap judgements, I rephrased my line of thinking.

Is the individual truly going her own way or does she just not grasp the vision and the plan we are trying to achieve? Am I threatened by the gifts and talents of this individual? Or, perhaps, the attention she is receiving?  Is my snap judgement and assumption of motive the cause of our delayed progress? Or, is it my unwillingness to communicate that keeps us from achieving our goal?

Maybe it’s not her.

Maybe, it’s me.

Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8

The problem wasn’t her.  The problem was me.  As ugly as that sounds.  The next time the ugly emo of annoyance raises its head, I’m going to reach out to the person at the root of the cause.  Not in aggravation, but in love.

Love is the only emotion big enough to cover petty differences.

Love is the only emotion I wish to allow free reign in my life.

Love is the only emotion big enough to soften a heart hardened by annoyance.

 

 

#TeamMom: I feel unqualified

7:56am

“Lucas, have you found that shoe yet?” “No mom.  I swear, Madi was messing with it last night! She knows where it is.”  He’s probably not wrong.  I don’t recall tripping over it in the bathroom this morning.  “Madi, if you hid your brother’s shoe, you need to return it.  Now!  We need to leave ten minutes ago.”  “Mom”, Madi replies in her matter of fact tone, “I did not hide Lucas’ shoe.  BUT.  I can make it reappear.” OH.MY.STARS!!! “By all means, please, make it reappear.” I reply. My budding magician leads her captivated audience to her bedroom closet.  “Ta Da!”, she announces as she whips open her closet door and proudly waves the prodigal shoe. 10.9.8…Doh! “Lucas, you’re gonna have to put that on in the car. Let’s Roll!” I gather my belongings and head to the car.  As I stick my key in the ignition, I wonder if I am cut out for this gig they call motherhood. If I’m being honest with you, I really want to wave my white flag.

The responsibility of mothering my children well presses in on me. More often than not, I miss the mark when It comes to raising my kids. Some days, I just want to run away.  Not forever.  Just until I can pull my own stuff together so I can effectively manage theirs.  No teen drama.  No missing shoes.  No Fancy Nancy.

When I share my shortcomings with my mom friends, I quickly realize that I am not alone.  Every mom I know has “stuff”. Every mom I know feels the pressure of getting it right.  If she tells you otherwise, dare I suggest she is lying?  Deep down, I think we all worry about whether or not we are screwing up our kids.

Motherhood, and all of her chaos, is a role given to us by God.  Which means it falls under the safety umbrella of qualification. God does not call the qualified.  In this regard, that makes sense.  Imagine if God called only qualified moms to produce future heirs for this earth.  They would tell him to go fly a kite, grab their bag of mini twix and head to the nearest hammock with their kindle.  Been there.  Done that.  Have the pla-dough stomach to prove it. 

Instead, he qualifies the called.  On the job training.  Or, trial by fire.  However you choose to look at it.  In addition, he gives us a community of moms to call upon for encouragement.  Mom’s who have gone before us and gently remind us to cherish every moment we have with our kids. Mom’s who are walking along side of us. Mom’s who will follow in our footsteps of motherhood. 

When we feel alone and unqualified, it’s time to reach out to a community of moms who feel the exact same way.  There is no room for judgement here.  Only love.

When  we see the mom juggling her cart and her screaming toddler, throw her a fist bump and remind her that this too shall pass.  Remind her that her calling as the mother of her kids is not a mistake.  She has exactly what is needed to be the mom her kids need and deserve.

  When you encounter the mom of a teen, give her a hug.  She likely needs it.  She is torn between loving her child for every bittersweet moment she has left and completely understanding why other species eat their young.

The empty nest mom? What a bank of wisdom we can draw upon. She is not as out of touch as we would like to believe.  Might be that she has lived through some moments that look a little like our reality today.

Lets stop using comparison as an opportunity for judgement. Lets stop focusing on our shortcomings and weakness. Instead, let us come together as #TeamMom, gently lifting each other up.  Affirm each other. Remind each other that our past failure does not dictate our future success. That God qualifies the called for the roles he gives to us as moms.  Then, give her a twix, a hug and a pat on the back as she heads back into this gig we call motherhood.

Mission: Mexico

When you consider that a procrastinator, like myself, is packed and virtually ready to walk out the door for a week in Mexico- TWO WHOLE DAYS- before we are slated to leave, well, you could call that a miracle.  But not one that has been easily won.

This spring, our church offered a missions trip that was affordable and offered a great variety for those who were “beginners”.   An orphanage in Mexico that additionally provides childcare, school, and even bible college to the children in their community for a very affordable rate.  It ensures that children receive two meals per day, education and an opportunity to know their Lord & Savior.   I knew immediately that I would be a part of the team that would go. This was not a trip that I wanted to miss, even though missions have never even sparked an ounce of interest in my life before now.

Fast forward to today, two days before we take off.  On Saturday, we will drive into a community where third world conditions and poverty exist.  We will get a small water ration for a shower each day.  I’m not sure if  it is heated.  Stay tuned.  Our meals will consist primarily of rice, with some type of protein to accompany it.  There will be not air conditioning, no wireless internet or cell service.  No electricity between the hours of 10:30pm and 5:00am.  We will be working on construction type projects in the morning and outreach in the afternoon.  Sharing our stories in hopes of winning another life to Christ.  So far out of my comfort zone that I will admit to a small case of nerves.  But, I’m excited.  As excited as going on any other trip or vacation away from home.  I have learned so much about God, just in the preparation time, I can’t wait to see what he has in store for us while we are away.  Here are just a few of the things I have discovered as I prepare myself to leave.

1.  I am really looking forward to being unplugged.  Allowing myself to get to a place when I can hear from God in the quiet.  A place where I am not going to have a device competing for my attention.  A place where human interaction comes first.  A time to build relationship with God and the team that he is sending me with.  A chance to hear from him in an environment free of the electronic distraction that I have come to be addicted to here at home.

2.  My essentials aren’t so essential anymore.  When we started thinking about packing our number one goal became how we could get maximum impact with the least amount of stuff to take.  When you’re heading out with a missions team, you carry what you pack.  It’s a rule I have raised my kids with, but we still have a pretty incredible man that bails us out sometimes.  There was some issue between Chloe and I on not having enough pants to take.  I don’t know if you have experienced this, but my recreational clothing is extremely limited.  I can dress professionally for about two weeks without doing a load of laundry, but my evening and weekend wear is limited.  Then, add the rule that your shorts have to reach your knees and you just took out a huge portion of my wardrobe and all of hers.  After searching through our Goodwill giveaway bags, we found enough clothing to sustain us through the week.  It isn’t two changes of clothes for each and everyday- there will be some repeat action happening for both of us, but I have to wonder, will the kids we are serving have a brand new and fresh outfit to wear each and every day?  Or is this simply another matter we take for granted in the land of plenty?

  1. I am not alone on this journey.  It is said that there are two types of people involved in missions. The go’ers and the senders.  And the senders are pretty darn cool. I posted a mom stress moment on Facebook while I was attempting to help my daughter pack.  She was freaking out about her lack of supplies, including a suitcase.  Within ten minutes of posting, we had several suitcase offers and an opportunity for her to go and shop in Grandma Melissa’s closet for the remaining clothing items she needed.  The words of encouragement that we have received from our family, friends and church family have been overwhelming.  Their excitement for our journey just feeds the fire that is already hot in me to do something for God.  I can’t wait until it is my turn to be a sender.  Senders are proof of God’s limitless ability to supply our every need.  Even if the need includes a suitcase “large enough to carry a body.”  (Jon, you always make me laugh).

I’m heading off to my last day of work before taking off.  The anticipation is building.  I ask for your prayers in our journey.  I ask that you would appeal to God to meet each of us there, right where we are at.  That he would appeal to us in a very personal way.  That we would be open and willing to do the work that he has appointed for us.  That we would have the heart of a servant ready to work on his behalf.  That he would use us in a way that brings a supernatural harvest to these children in Mexico. That, in preparation, we would not be overcome by the details, but that we would lean on him to work all things together for good.