Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Week Off

About a month ago I cried out to Robin, "Take a vacation...STAT!!" I was really feeling some burn out! So he found the closest available week and we are finishing it up now. My how time flies when you take a vacation!! We really didn't have big plans. If anything we realized that if you take away Robin's job and homeschooling, we are still a really busy family! We did manage to have dear friends over for the day in the middle of the week; that was a definite bright spot. We also managed to catch a movie, "Hotel for Dogs." If you know to bring some tissues you'll love this heartwarming (clean too) movie of two foster children finding their *forever home.* :)
Last night Robin and Tyler headed to church for a Men's Retreat called "Men of Honor." Now here's one of the many things I love about our church. They'll use the church for retreats. No need for travelling and all those costs associated with it! Whoever decided we should install two showers in the building was a GENIUS! Robin cheated, though and came home to sleep. Tyler wanted to stay at the church. ANYWAY, I got to get the news early that a man in Robin's group (he's a facilitator) asked Jesus to be His Savior last night!! Praise GOD!!
Here are a few pictures I took this week...
Here you see Christian, who was trying to see for himself how tall Goliath would be!! I turned from, "get down off that couch!" to "Oh you're seeing how tall Goliath is? Wait, let's get a picture of it!!" LOL!!

Rachel had her 11th birthday party...a spa party!! We had all homemade spa treatments! It was so fun!! I am sharing this pic because you can't see the girls faces. :) We'll let the other spa girls keep their privacy...

On Monday we'll be back to our "jobs". I am already planning which week we'll take off next... ;)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

So Long Self. Waking Up the Sleeper.

I love this song by MercyMe. I hope you give it a listen! It capitalizes in a fun way how I am feeling this morning.

Do you ever just have a moment of pure spiritual clarity? God just opens your eyes in a new way for a fresh look at the world and how He is working. He reminds you of the enemy that would thwart His work. He invites you to join Him in a new way.

A life time ago, or so it seems, Robin and I married and moved to downtown Portland (if you are from ME, picture Cumberland Ave. on the Maine Med. end with Grant St. running parallel), ME. We lived in a very rough neighborhood complete with drug addicts and dealers, satanists, prostitutes and more. It was like a foreign country in some ways. Robin had just graduated Bible College and I was still finishing up Bible College. We lived on minimum wage (or close to it). But we were young and living on love and living with Jesus and life was GOOD!

When you are in the city, ministry opportunities ooze in on you. People are hurting, needy and desparate. But more than that, they are not afraid to admit it and not ashamed to ask for help. There are soup kitchens and people desparate enough to listen to you tell them what Jesus can do for them. There are prayer needs all around you and a walk down the street isn't considered without a prayer time first!

You can't help but see the world as it is. The darkness is so dark you can't miss it. But in keeping, the Light is so Light, it is blinding. When God works the contrast is so great, it is like He is the flame and you are the moth.

Then we moved to the burbs... and then the country... I have nothing against either of them and we are still there now. But somehow I forgot how dark the darkness was and the God's Light only seemed like a flicker. Did I work for God? Well yes, I tried and God moved and things happened. But it has been dimmer. I have dwindled with it.

I do think "self", "myself" has gotten in the way of a clear vision. Robin and I have had talks over the years about that time in Portland. We have reminisced about our prayer group there and the nights of pulling out guitars and praising God with our Christian neighbors and guys from Robin's YMCA Bible Study. We have talked about how to get "back there" in our hearts, to recreate that. I have often wondered if maybe I was like the Isrealites looking for Solomon's temple. Maybe I just needed to remember that ministry in the country is different.

So yeah, I fell asleep. Self took the front burner...slowly...over time.

Looking back I see it clearly. The veil is again lifted. I am starting to see the darkness as dark, the Light is shining bright. It was there all along. Somehow I had just put on spiritual sunglasses and I had fallen asleep. Looking back it was as though I was tethered. But I am awake now and am breaking free of the tethers!

I am trying to say "so long self"! I am trying to join God at His work. I was reminded last night thanks to dear friends who never fail to point me Godward, that Satan wasn't stupid enough to fall asleep...just me. Forgive me Lord, and thank you for waking me up!

"Awake oh sleeper and rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you." Eph 5:14

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Attempt Great Things

"Expect great things from God, attempt great things for God." William Carey

Recently I filled out the tag on Facebook, "25 Random Facts About Me." One of my facts was "God keeps asking me to do things I don't know how to do...and it's a BLAST!" True, true, but I wanted to explain...

Last year in the spring, my pastor asked me if I would be our church's Children's Ministry Coordinator. It took a month of prayer to say "yes" to him. I am glad he (my pastor) didn't give up on me. Why did it take me so long to say yes? Well, the major reason is that when I take a "Giftedness Test" and I think I have taken them all...the gift that always comes out the lowest if I get any score at all is Administration! So, it seemed kind of crazy to say "yes" because the ministry he was asking me to do was so not in my gift set!

A few things changed my mind. First of all, Pastor Barry kept preaching (like, every week) that we all needed to be stepping out in faith for God. "What are you doing for God that if God doesn't show up you will look like an idiot?" It doesn't take a genius to realize that if you try to do something you know you are not good at, you seriously need God to show up and do a work! Then I couldn't deny that I actually have my Bachelors of Religious Education. True, true, I had a degree in that area! But I didn't get that solely on purpose, so to speak. I went to Bible College and that was the track they offered so it is the track I was on.

Thirdly, (and I am giving this it's own paragraph on purpose), God showed me over that time of prayer the connection between this ministry and those ministries I had done before that WERE in my *gift set*. I have always loved to come alongside others and encourage and teach. Surely I could be an encourager to teachers. I have taught every age at some point and I could use those experiences to help teachers brainstorm, etc. But even more, as I prayed God sent rushes of ideas that had me staring into space more often than the time I was alert (just ask my family). I still tend to pace around the house in a stupor!! The ideas of what we could do with Children's Ministries kept coming and coming in a rush and still do.

God is teaching me so much so fast about how He works in and through us. I am so glad I didn't say "no" because what I was being asked wasn't in my gift set! He is teaching me what it means to "join Him in His work" like I was taught years ago through a Bible study I did (Experiencing God) and to be part of a "movement of God" (rather than an institution, another recent sermon by Pastor Barry).

When I am working in my own strength at "my agenda" there is a great straining effort. It is discouraging, painstaking and convincing others to join you is difficult. You're pushing it slowly forward. But when you are part of God's work, God's movement in the world, then it feels like being on a freight train. Not only are you not pushing, you are really just trying to hang on and not fall off! That's why I think it's a blast; it's like being on a roller coaster. I pray it never ends!

"Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things--and the things that are not--to nullify the things that are so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: 'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'"
1 Cor. 1:26-31