Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dear Savannah

Dear Savannah,

You're eleventh birthday. It's here. And you are everything I could wish that you would be at this point in your life. You're a child of God, who is learning her way in her own walk with Him. It excites me to see the passion you have to learn about Him, with your note taking at church during your dad's sermons, to our daily devotions together, you're grounding your heart in God's Word. I'm so proud of you. Keep that close to your heart because there will come a day that is darker than today that you will need to grasp it with everything you've got and hold on to its truths.

Things are going to be changing in the next year. Physically you're going to be growing into a young lady and the world is going to try to explain to you what that looks like. They are going to show you pictures of girls your age who are skinnier, tanner, prettier, better dressed. But none will be more loved...and really that's what the world is trying to tell you...."You'll be loved better if you are skinnier, tanner, prettier, better dressed." But the truth is, you're loved as much as you're ever going to be loved right now. See, God has already loved you with an everlasting, immeasurable love. He can't love you any more than He does now because that would mean that right now, His love would be lacking. And that would mean that He isn't enough now. And that would be a lie. And that would mean God isn't God because He would be a liar. And He's not. So as you grow and change and mature...remember how loved you are just the way you are.

And what about boys....
Ugh...it's gonna happen, sometime. We're going to talk about it. It's going to be uncomfortable...more for me than you probably. But the fact is that...right now, there's no way you're having a boyfriend. It's just not right, not the time. You're eleven, you're still a kid and even though you're finding out how much God loves you, other than your family, there's not another person on the planet that you need to trust with your heart. A boy your age isn't capable of being careful with your heart. It's ridiculous to put that kind of pressure on him or you. So, let's just agree...boys aren't going to be part of the big picture yet. Sure, you can be friends, but let's keep it at that....whether you know it or not, you really don't want more than that anyway...besides, they still don't bathe on a regular basis without their mommy telling them.

What about friends? Well, from what I've seen over the last 20 years working and being around teenagers is that things might get a little rocky. I hate this for you and for your sweet gal pals that you hang out with. Here are a few things that might make this transitional time easier for you:

1. Watch your words. Be careful that the things that come out of your mouth encourage people. You can always find something nice to say about someone.

2. When/if you have a disagreement with someone, before you go and give them a piece of your mind, think about it. Ask yourself if this is really worth getting upset about? If the relationship is important to you, give it some grace, give offenses a pass, give second and third chances and let it go. Because sometimes people make mistakes and just need to be let off the hook. Give a hug and forgive.

3. But if you do have to go to someone who has offended you. Be sure your words are used wisely. When someone is confronted with an offense they will remember the words you say, and they will replay those words over and over in their head. Say what needs to be said in the most loving way. Forgive when others don't ask.

4. Just because you''re best friends now doesn't mean you'll be best friends when you're 16. Ugh, I hate this, but know that from my own experiences, as you grow, mature, change, learn your way, that you're friends might change. You'll make friends as you find hobbies and interests. And that's all good. But as those comfortable and uncomfortable changes come, don't treat your old friends poorly. There are seasons in our lives when we are closer to some than others. It's just the way it is. (However, I'd like to bottle a couple of your sweet friends up and keep them with us forever!)

Lastly, let's just go ahead and talk about modesty. You're going to pretty much hate me for the next 7 years or so of your life as far as fashion goes. The world is selling a bunch of goods that is trying to convince girls your age that showing off all your body parts is pretty. The world is trying to make money, sell a product, make money. They don't love you. I do. I'm trying to teach you to love yourself enough to save your body parts...all of them...for someone who God has made especially for you to spend your adult life with. Someone who is going to love you as Christ loved the church. Someone who isn't trying to make money on you or sell a product to you. Respect yourself and your future husband ....I know it's early to think about this...and of course it's not going to happen for a long long long time, but you need to know that how you dress says a lot about how you respect yourself. And since respecting yourself and God and others is essential to growing into a mature young lady, we're not going to budge on the modesty issue. I love you, that's why.

So happy birthday sweet tween. You are so special to your dad and me...but most importantly your God. These next years are going to fly!!!!!!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Destination Home

I left Saturday morning at 8:40 to head to Paris, (TX, that is) to finish up some shopping for our ministry fair at church next Sunday. I stopped by McD's to pick up a diet coke, since I had been out till almost 1am at the ladies craft night at church (wait, who am I kidding? I start every day with a diet coke...I'm not gonna lie)....Anyway, with dc in hand and a quick stop to put $20 in the Expedition, I was on my way. I was be-bopping along, listening to the radio, all my favorite songs were playing...and I was thinking the day couldn't get any better.

But, then I found exactly what I was looking for at Hobby Lobby...ON CLEARANCE! So, I snagged them up, took a glance at the yarn, embroidery and scrapbook stuff...and well, pretty much the entire rest of the store. I checked out at the register feeling very proud of myself for the good deals I found.

Then I spotted Belk out of the corner of my eye and thought...maybe I was on a bargain streak and could find a few things to spend some of my birthday money on...so I moved the car over to the other side of the parking lot and entered the store. 15 minutes later I had formulated the opinion that this particular Belk must only cater to women who are nothing like me. But I happened to see many 70% off racks in the junior dept, so like any good mom, i perused the clothing options for Savannah, and within another 20 minutes I was out the door with 9 articles of clothing for 60 dollars. Not too shabby. I was feeling pretty darn good.

And maybe that's where things started going south.

Bruce called....needed to meet someone for lunch, wondered when I'd be home. I let him know I was on my way, talking through a stuffed mouth of nutter butters that I was inhaling because I had not eaten anything with my diet coke. Nutter Butters happened to be one of the few protein (albeit with sugar) items at the register at Hobby Lobby. So, with mouth stuffed, quite pleased with myself, I started the trek home. I thought.

Somewhere between Belk's parking lot and my brain, I took a wrong turn and winded up about 15 miles north of Paris..which is basically Oklahoma...give or take a few steps. When I finally realized I wasn't where I was supposed to be, I panicked...just a bit. But then I remembered that Bruce had plugged our address into our car's GPS so that if I ever got turned around I would always be able to make it home. I think I'll keep him a little bit longer.

So...I peeled, I mean pulled into a little old tire shop on the side of the road, finagled around with the GPS, until I saw...HOME. Without hesitation, I pushed the button, clicked on my address and heard the friendly, yet annoying, GPS lady say those words we all love, RECALCULATING. RECALCULATING.

And without hesitation I followed each turn, each caution that she suggested. And roughly 45 minutes later, I made it home.

Before I had even gotten a mile down the right path, I had already thought of the spiritual implications of this little adventure. God is so patient with us, allowing us the freewill to go down paths that won't get us to our intended destination. He waits and then without hesitation, when we are ready, gives us step by step instruction to HOME. Sometimes we take the wrong path because we aren't paying attention, sometimes because we get bored of the same way all the time, sometimes because we think we know better...but whatever the reason, it never gets us HOME.

There was such a peace and comfort when I remembered that Bruce had plugged our home address into the system. I knew I could get back there...back to where I felt safe, if I just followed those directions. The same is true when we follow the directions found in God's Word. When I follow His Words, there is peace. No, I may not always be comfortable but we will be safe, because He is our shield and defense, a present help in time of need.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Thankful Thursday

This week I'm thankful for:

1. A birthday celebrated...turned 41 last week and was showered with sweet messages and thoughtfulness all day long...and a few days afterward!

2. Cooler weather...let's face it...90 degrees is cooler than 100 degrees anyway you look at it. No, it's not the cool temps of Wyoming ....but this is Texas and anything less than 100 is a good thing!

3. A successful easy start to our school year. Kids are loving that the real schedule doesn't start until after Labor Day....but it's coming!

4. Friends who make me laugh and think and cry. I need them all.

Thanks Lord...for these and all your blessings upon my life.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

WY13 Mission Trip Recap #6 - final

I've given a little time for the emotions of our Wyoming trip to die down and for me to be able to really see and think about what I came away with from the WY13 trip. Bruce said it Sunday night and I happen to agree, sometimes we come back from these trips on an emotional high and need some time to rest and reflect on what God truly did in our lives. While the emotions are beautiful, sometimes they are provoked by lack of sleep, poverty, desperation..so after time, what really remains may look totally different than what we feel as we are pulling out of the parking lot of the mission church for the last time.

So after begin back for 8 days, I'm a little more ready to share how God worked in my own life.

I was reminded of the difficulties of small, rural American churches. The work that it takes when one couple is doing most of the work. This impacted both Bruce and I and we've shared many conversations about the memories we personally have of how difficult it is when you carry the load alone. It's given me a more clear look at how to encourage those who do much of the ministry alone, while growing a congregation in obedience to the service of the Lord.

I was reminded of how beautiful the body of Christ can be when we are working, encouraging, loving and genuinely caring for one another. While of course someone had to take charge of the trip, there was such a sweet humbleness of servanthood that drifted from the construction team to the ministry team. Men worked hard in the rain and hail, women scrubbed toilets, teenagers moved chairs and moved more chairs, kids dug up cactus. There were no "I'm too good for that" jobs. Everyone pitched in and did what they could or what was needed.

I was reminded how important humility is in the body of Christ. As we served each other and ultimately, the Lord, I was so blessed to watch and participate in the activities of the week. It's not about who is doing what...it's about doing what needs to be done for the furtherance of the gospel of Christ. It's not about who has power or control, it's about serving the least of these, the last, the forgotten and the tired. It's about tearing away the pride we can so easily wear and humbly walking beside someone, listening to them, not yourself. It's about doing things a different way than you're used to and it being OK. It's about being perfectly OK with not understanding a culture...but learning from someone who does. It's about being moldable, bendable, teachable.....so we can be more affective in a community.

So...there you have it. WY13 is a wrap...but the lessons learned there will be etched in my heart forever.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ready, Set, School

While most kids are enjoying the last few dog days of summer vacation...and most teacher's are slowly moving in the direction of the classroom doors, my kids were begging to start school. Now, before anyone thinks that I believe this is because of all the creative and fun learning that I have planned for our first year homeschooling both kids, please don't think I'm that naive.

We've traveled the better part of the last five weeks. Between camps, a mini-vaca for the kids while Bruce and I were at a conference, a mission trip to Wyoming and my quick trip to Ga, I feel like I need to take a deep breath and just take a moment or two to enjoy unpacking the suitcase for the last time for a while.

But for the kids, they see it totally different. School means...new pencils, new books, new folders, new markers, new new new. I remember being the same way as a kid. The fresh smell of new school supplies, even today, excites me just a little bit. A clean page to write on, a book binding not quite broken in yet, the smell of a new sharpie marker. I know...crazy.

So, last Friday when the kids were begging for the school year to begin, I gave in.

Science....earthquakes...oh my!

Keeping up and on track....BTW, have you seen the chalk markers?

Mom...this is pretty easy stuff. 

And today....after chores...and me falling down the den stairs (that will be a whole 'nother post...maybe) we began again...easing our way into the school year. We aren't going full force or even starting at a reasonable time yet....all that happens after Labor Day. We're excited...and today as we were talking about the Creation Story, I was reminded again why this is such a good fit for us. Yes, right before Tucker covered his ears to block out hearing how the woman was taken and formed out of man's ribs and let's not even breech the subject of their nakedness. Yes, that's when I remembered, I don't want to miss a moment of the good and the funny. Will it be laced with moments of frustrations and pulling hair out?....yep, but then I'll have a diet coke and a moment of prayer and things will be better. 

So however you school your kids, I hope you enjoy watching them learn as much as I do my own. The moments are going to fly by.....Ready! Set! School! 

WY13 Mission Trip Recap #5

As is the style of most mission trips, a day of site seeing is usually scheduled in for the crew to enjoy. We didn't get a full day, but managed to squeeze in 2 half day trips.

The first was to downtown Cheyenne (see previous days recap for those pictures). The other day was to Vedauwoo, beautiful rock formations that displayed God's handiwork at it's best

Breathtaking...the views...the creativity of our God.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

WY13 Mission Trip Recap #4

The great part about taking a large group on a mission trip is the amount of work and ministry you can get done with all the people pitching in and helping. That's exactly what happened. About 6 of our men made up a construction team. They built shelving in FBC's storage unit, built and stained a communion table and offering box, installed doors at the parsonage, fixed some plumbing issues, repaired sheetrock,  framed whiteboards and more. Unfortunately most of that happened during VBS and I didn't get pictures.

However, after VBS the rest of us joined in the work. We cleaned out flower beds, replanted and mulched the flowerbed around the sign. We created a flower bed on the side of the building and cleaned up along the buildings. Our most difficult chore was digging up tiny cactus that were all over the back couple of acres of land. Truly...after working several hours we had only made a small dent in this chore. But, progress is progress, right?

We also helped by wiping down doors and molding and cleaning all the windows in the church. 

Helping do these chores was a blessing to me. It helped me remember the hard work it takes to start and pastor a smaller church. Chances are that Wyoming will not ever boast a huge mega-church due to the population being so spread out. So, there are pastors all over the state that are doing it all by themselves, or are working with just a few faithful workers. Tommy and Jharee are two of the most faithful servants of God who are doing so much of the work alone. Song leading, piano playing, bulletin typing, Sunday School teaching, pastoring, budgeting, cleaning, visiting, yard work, nursery....with just a handful of helpers it was a blessing to encourage and partner with them to get some of these bigger projects completed.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

WY13 Mission Trip Recap #3

Over the course of our week at Faith Baptist we had the opportunity to share with over 80 children during VBS. The church had chosen Truassic Park (spin off of Jurassic Park) as their theme for the week. Three of our team members played the main roles through puppets and skit characters. Todd, Stephanie and Jeremy made their characters come alive and did an awesome job talking about dinosaurs, creation, the flood, scientific methods and Jesus. Who knew we were among such talent! 8 Children came to know Christ through the message that was shared.

"Doc", our favorite scientist!

These guys (and gal) spent many hours tweaking
the script so that it fit our schedule.
They did a great job!

Here they are in action. Dr. Deceit, Becky and Doc

Two different afternoons we had a little sightseeing time. On Monday we were able to go into downtown Cheyenne and tour the old shops, the square and the first ever Wrangler store. Here's a sneak peak into what that looked like:

Beautiful old brick buildings and streets

Tucker and Jackson in front of a big boot that has the names
of every governor that Cheyenne has had.

"Equality for Women" statue

Tucker getting his cowboy on!

Oldest Theater

Original Wrangler store

And well.....I'm not sure there are words for this...
JD, Bruce and Manual
Oh My!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

WY13 Mission Trip Recap #2

As soon as we got to Faith Baptist, Cheyenne, we were welcomed by several church members, who would become like family to us before the week was over. Tommy and Jharee Miller have been at FBC for three years. They have a huge heart for their community and were already diligently preparing for the week of VBS, the carnival and the youth rally that we would be assisting them with throughout the week. 

As soon as we arrived we began stuffing over
2000 door hanger bags to distribute in the community.

The guys set up this great big tent that
housed small groups, all our meals and the carnival.

And maybe best of all, we were experiencing low 80's for the highs!
The first full day was spent at the church for services and in the afternoon all of us hit the road and distributed over 2000 door hangers. While we were out we had to take a break because of the hail and wind storm, but it quickly passed and we we out pounding the pavement for the afternoon. After the evening services we divided up responsibilities for the week and readied the building for the week's VBS. Things were looking good!

Monday, August 12, 2013

WY13 Mission Trip Recap #1

Mission Trip Team WY13

When God puts together a team, he doesn't make mistakes. On August 3, 2013 when our WY13 team came together, there were various ages...ranging from 11 months to 70+, different abilities..ranging from unable to walk to fit teenagers, different talents...a chef, a pianist, a preacher, a housewife, a photographer, a carpenter, a college professor, students. Differences..coming together for the purpose of connecting, growing and serving at Faith Baptist Church. 35 different people who used their ordinary gifts to make an extraordinary difference.

Teamwork is only teamwork when everyone recognizes the value of each member of the team. I saw this over and over again. As our team worked with the Faith Baptist Team in Wyoming, a beautiful bond was formed that created a stronger team. It was truly one of the greatest pictures of unity I have ever witnessed. I'm thankful to have seen it!

First Family Mission Trip
I was especially thankful for this opportunity to do this trip with my family. The kids were involved in helping with the bus ministry, digging cactus up...lots and lots of cactus, setting up and tearing down, cleaning, helping with Baby Owen, helping dad with the games for VBS and best of all making new friends. This will be a trip they will never forget. I'm so thankful that God worked in their hearts too.

I'll be blogging and posting pics of the mission trip all week. Come back tomorrow for more!