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.

Helicopter Momma, it really is out of our control!

I’m freaking out.

Not had too much coffee before breakfast, freaking out.  More like box of Miss Clairol in one hand with a handy dandy brown paper baggie in the other.

I’m sending my 15 year old to Mexico on a mission trip.  With responsible, god loving adults who are not me.

I’m sending my 7 year old to church camp.  For a week.  With responsible, god loving adults who are not me.

I’ve always allowed myself to believe that I am a laid back momma.  My goal has always been to raise my kids well balanced in the tension of this world.  I work hard to make my home a safe place for them to land.  A place for them to take comfort.  A place of unconditional love and acceptance.

My kids know Jesus. They have had first hand experience of his peace and presence in their lives.  They know how to serve others in their community and they enjoy doing so.  They are learning how to construct healthy boundaries.

But one day, they will leave.

It might be to go down the street to play with a friend, or an overnight trip to grandma’s. It might be to summer camp or a mission trip.  It might be in a car with a driver license that just came hot off the press or off to college to pursue the hopes and dreams of their heart.  It might be to serve our country in the military.

But one day, they will leave.

It’s irrational, but I often times trust my kids more than I trust other people.  I just don’t ever want them to stray too far away.  I mean, what if they come across negative influences.  What if they are exposed to drugs, alcohol or pornography?

What if they find themselves in a position needing my protection and I am not there?

What if they think little Annie’s mom is more fun than me? It might be true, but I don’t want my kids to know that!

What if my teenager makes a choice that goes against what we have taught her in faith?

One day, my kids will leave my cocoon of protection.  Whatever is a mom to do?

Helicopter momma, here’s the thing.  My kids are only mine for a little while.  But, they belong to God forever.  At some point, I have to let them leave my influence so they can grow to fulfill the purpose that God handcrafted them for.

In the meantime:

I can build them up in his word.

I can teach them how to live their faith in a broken world with broken people.

I can help them build a community of like minded people that they can fall back on.

I can allow them the possibility of exposure- in small doses.

I can let God work in their lives without getting in the way.

I can pray, everyday, for my kids to know a personal relationship with their savior.  No matter what.

I can’t raise my kids in a “what if” mentality.

I know they will make bad choices.  I know that they will crash and burn.  I know that God, and I, will love them unconditionally.   I know that I will always be their safe place to land.  Their safe place to receive coaching, instruction, and preparation to get back into the game of life.

But I also know that they will make good, God honoring choices.  They will experience success.  And then?  I will be their place to celebrate and praise God for the amazing work he is doing in their lives.

For now, I will catch and release.  I will make the commitment to let go in small doses.  Allow them to make choices, good & bad.  Draw them back in. Coach them.  Teach them.  Love them.  Point them to God and release once more.

Helicopter momma,  I don’t believe raising kids is the hardest part of being a parent.  I truly believe it is the fine art of letting go and knowing that God is in control.

I’m praying for you.  Pray for me, will you?

 

www.compeltraining.com

#Compeltip:  I have been working to tighten my writing as well as reduce redundancy. Behind the scenes, I have been applying the 5-f’s from tired, typical writing. For more tips like these, visit www.compeltraining.com!

 

Sometimes, cheaters win

#Deflategate

The national icon of Superbowl 49 starring a quarterback who is said to be the best the NFL has ever seen.  A quarterback who is now accused of cheating for gain.

A dilemma to moms everywhere.

As  a mom, I constantly reinforce, “Do the right thing and you will get the right result”, to my kids.  I tell them to persevere. Even when failure seems to be lurking at every corner, a breakthrough will happen.  But, you have to work to make it happen.  Just don’t quit.  Don’t even dream of taking the easy way out.

I know I’m not alone here. We all want our kids to succeed, but we want them to do so with character.  Which means no easy road exists.  Hard work and perseverance always pay off.

So when Tom Brady was allowed to win his 6th Superbowl ring in the midst of and undecided scandal, I wont lie when I say I was deeply disappointed.

He didn’t once deny that he had given the directive to have the ball deflated.  He presented himself, polished as a politician, and gave vague answers as he sat in the hot seat of national media.  Moments of awkward silence as he likely thought of his coached answers.  The whole interview was uncomfortable to watch. The most uncomfortable part?  Trying to reconcile how to explain that sometimes cheaters win to my kids whom I am working to raise with integrity.

The thing about cheating is that it can be done easily.  Some times without recognition of the people who live and work the closest around you.  A well placed secret between you and God that allows you to advance and appear to be someone you are not.  Sometimes people catch on.  Sometimes they don’t.  But at the core of cheating is the heart of a liar.  One who covers weakness to make others believe in a façade.

And as a mom, I do not want to participate in, nor imply that this behavior is ever okay to the little eyes that may be watching.

We live in a world that is fallen. It’s ruled by a prince who came to steal, kill and destroy.  We are witness to this evidence of destruction everyday.  The good news I that we await a king who will return to bring life and life in abundance.  Peace in the midst of conflict.  Hope in situations that seem hopeless.

Tom Brady may have his fancy new ring and a little slap on the hand for a bad decision.  My beloved Michigan Wolverines may be able to brag about producing champion quality quarterbacks. But the truth will always be revealed.

Cheaters may sometimes win but the victory will be hollow and temporary.  One day, we will have to give an account for our actions.

When we make the choice to live with integrity, even when no one is looking, then we can then walk with confidence.  Never worried about something that can slip us up.

We can speak with boldness when we aren’t worried about covering our tracks or keeping our story straight.

Never give up.  Do what is right.  Confidently expect that right will win in the end.  This is the message I will continue to reinforce to my kids, even when cheaters win.

 

 

 

 

Pretzel pirate ships, blue haired church ladies & unpaid electric bills: God is still more than enough

I’m tapping my fingers on the counter and taking one more plate count.  We have just enough snacks for tonight based on the kids attendance for the week. Well, we will have enough if these two teens stop hitting my cheese blocks for the boat base. Otherwise, my crafty pretzel pirate ships are just going to be pirate flags. Boring!

As another plate is swiped from the counter, my inner blue haired church lady is channeled.  Just as I open my mouth to say something an over powering thought occurs:

Five loaves, two Fish

I’m taking another plate count.  Tap, tap, tap of my finger.  I can always make a desperate run to the store for more.  It’s only a block away.

Five loaves, two fish

Okay.  Five loaves, two fish.  Five loaves, two fish.  Five loaves, two fish.  I’m chanting now.  I’m giving God the snake eye and allowing the girls to take one more plate on their way out the door.  As they leave, teen girl #1’s brother enters.

I know your not supposed to have favorites, but he is one of mine.

“Miss Samantha, can I talk to you?”  He says.

“Sure.  What’s going on?”

“My mom needs help.  Our power has been shut off and we owe the electric company $756.00.  If we don’t get it turned back on by Monday, we will be kicked out of our apartment.” Oh boy.  It’s already Wednesday.

He continued telling me that after the power was shut down, the family did not have an ample supply of non perishable food.  The kids had not eaten much of anything in three days.  Thank God I had not opened my mouth to his big sister about the stupid cheese!

Isn’t it funny how perspective changes everything.

Five loaves, two fish

Do you think that there might be a reason that God illustrates the glory of his provision in his word.  A lot.   The story of the loaves and fish is not only told in the gospels, but it is tucked away in the Old Testament as well.  Different situation.  Same miracle.

Fast forward to a VBS centuries later and we find ourselves with the same miracle, different situation.

I am guilty of fretting and worrying whenever the supply in front of my eyes does not seem adequate.  I tap my fingers.  I toil.  I meddle to make things work out to my end desire.  But, over and over again, God assures me that he is enough to meet every need I have in front of me.  He assures me that if I take care of his kingdom priorities, he will take care of mine.  Actually, he is big enough to cover both. My only requirement is to move forward in obedience.

Retrain my brain to trust him instead of taking control.

To get out of the way so God can move in a spectacular way.

To thank him for the miracle that is yet to come.

As VBS concluded, I had more than enough cheese and pretzels to send home with two hungry kids.  Our loving church family provided the resources to get their electric bill paid in full.  A family was able to stay in their home.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Get out of the way so God can move.

They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over.

Matthew 14:20

Trust and Obey

Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways, acknowledge Him and he’ll make your paths straight.”

“The Lord is my shepard, I shall not want.” Psalm 23:1.  My daily meditation verse.  For 2013, I chose the word Obedience as the word I am focusing on for the year.  As I came to this word, the Lord has placed a burden on my heart to spend time each day focusing on one verse.  Taking time to meditate on it and record what He had to tell me.  When I came to this simple verse of Psalm 23:1, I was a little disappointed.  And it took me a while to open my ears and truly here His voice.

Regardless of how the circumstances seem; regardless of how daunting your To Do list appears- I have given you a perfect portion.  I helped you coordinate and plan.  I see the whole picture.  I know exactly what your up against- have no worries.  Trust me!

Trust me.  At this moment, I am picturing Aladdin and Princess Jasmine.  Aladdin is sitting on the magic flying carpet, reaching out his hand to welcome Jasmine to take a magic carpet ride.  He says with a gleam in his eye, “Do you trust me?”  In that moment, she realizes this arrogant prince is the peasant she has dreamed of in the marketplace.  She accepts his offer.

I looked up the word, trust.  Of course, the definition I was looking for was simple.  A firm belief in reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.  But what struck me was the following definition.  “Confidence placed in a person by making that person the nominal owner of property to be held or used for the benefit of others.”  Trust me.

When I choose to obey God and “trust” him with my life, I am giving him ownership of my life for the benefit of others.  I am confident in his ability to manage everything that comes my way. My time, my marriage, my family, my job, ministry opportunities- the list goes on and on.  He doesn’t miss a single detail.  Not only that, He gives me the strength of his Holy Spirit to rely on in times when I am weak.  His power is made perfect in my weakness.  What a relief.

When I make the decision to trust God, I can stop striving. I  can stop approaching my time of bible study with the sole purpose of trying to discern his purpose for me.  I can approach his throne with a quiet heart and listening ears.  I can get to know Him and His promises.  And in return, He will make my paths straight.  Trust and Obey- there really is no other way.