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Friday, August 23, 2013

Living Sent

Lately the challenge from the leadership at our church has been to “Live Sent”. Basically what this means is that our every day is meant to be lived in the light of the Great Commission to “go and make disciples” while living our every day lives. While we are encouraged to go on short term mission trips and share the gospel with the nations we are also called to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our own city.

This week in the Clothing Ministry I have seen God’s hand at work just like I do each week. People come in with some specific needs for themselves and their children. Some are in great need and some are just in between jobs and are needing a few things to get by, but overall each person is in need of something and we’ve seen the Lord provide over and over again!

One day a young man in our church came through the door of the Clothes Closet. I had not seen him there before so I assumed he was there to make a donation. He came in following a group of people and when I noticed him he smiled and waved. I asked how I could help him and he said, “Can you help my friend? Her name is Ashley and she is in need.” We got his friend registered and she began to shop. As she walked away he said, “She came to my door this morning asking for money or help. I don’t want to give her money that she might spend on drugs and I didn’t know what else to do. I know that we need to help and so I brought her here. I hope that is ok!”

We were not only able to help her with clothes for herself and her child, but we were able to tell her about our  new single mom’s ministry that is starting and we gave her information about the church. By the time she left she was smiling and so excited to have a few “new” things.

Another lady from our church came and brought her friend and her friend’s two children with her. They do not speak English and so she wanted to come to be sure that they could communicate what they needed. Though I could not directly speak to her I could tell that this gesture of love and translating meant SO much to her! As a result of her encouragement and willingness to spend time with this friend they are now willing to come to church and hear the gospel of Jesus Christ.

All kinds of people have brought donations to the Clothes Closet. It has been amazing to meet people who have attended our church for a number of years and yet, I’ve never met them! I have loved seeing Senor adults, young married adults, people with little kids and even widows all join together to make this ministry go! We have prayed with and for some of them and THEY have prayed with and for US!

Living Sent does not have to be hard. It does not have to be expensive or even require a lot of time. People ALL around us are hurting and re in need of a Savior who gives eternal hope. The smallest gesture of giving COULD point that person to Christ and a life could be saved if we are willing to take the time or just pay attention. 

God is blessing and we are so encouraged! I pray that today you are LIVING SENT!

Monday, August 19, 2013

And So… Summer

This old Summer time is winding down. It has been one of the more enjoyable summers even though there wasn’t a week long trip to the beach with us sitting around doing nothing… and THAT is something I love more than ANYTHING!!

This has been such an encouraging summer of time with my girl and seeing her grow and my prayers answered! We’ve always seen growth, but this summer seems to have been a great time for her.

She has had sleepovers and she has been to sleep over with a friend. She has helped me in the clothing ministry and has grown in her ability to do many things that she has never done in the past. Just spending time with family, going to basketball camp with the UNCC Ladies, swimming with friends and having fun just being together has made for a great time and a lot of growth! As a mom it is, honestly, hard to see your kid struggle when you see others moving on. But seeing God do a work of maturity in her has just made my heart smile so big!! I am so proud!!

C-Summer 2012

Though summer is always a little harder on our family financially, because I am off to be with my girl, I do not regret the time that I am able to spend trying to help her achieve and grow.

Also, if you had told me 17 years ago that I would love this EXTREMELY smart and sometimes too serious, WAY more mature than me, hard workin’ man more than I did the day I married him I would have said that there was no way on this God given earth that could be true!

Steve 2013 

Nobody works harder for this family than he does! I have enjoyed our quick times of getting away for a few days here and there to the fullest! Just knowing that God has blessed my life with him is sometimes more than I can take!!

I remember when we first heard that our girl was diagnosed with all the things that the doctors say are wrong… and I remember standing in the kitchen crying. He said, “Wait. She’s the same kid she was yesterday.” I said, “I know!! But what are we going to do?!?!” His reply,”We are going to love her… just like we did yesterday!”

Our summer has not been filled with expensive vacations… and mainly because at the very beginning of it the A/C in our house went out and the leak over the fridge from the upstairs bath got worse… but we have been together. I love this family and I am eager to see what God has in store as we continue to walk with one another into a new school year and a new season!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Underestimation

You know something that makes me CRAZY!? When someone underestimates my ability to do something. You know… I get this idea in my head about how something could be done, and sometimes it sounds a little out there. Then inevitably someone standing by (sometimes a family member who will go unnamed here) will say, “Really? I don’t know if you can do that!”

WELL, they have just poured fuel on the fire!!!!! I am more determined than EVER that this too shall come to pass!!! I mean, I am on a mission and they’ve NEVER seen it done so well! Or so fast for that matter!!

There are also the times that I underestimate myself. I can’t be a good mom. I can’t keep the house clean, I can’t cook, I can’t share the gospel with a complete stranger. You know… I CAN clean, cook and share the gospel (and the jury is still out on the whole mothering thing!) but I DO second guess myself and sometimes get defeated.

There’s a scripture in Jeremiah 1 that says

But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth; for to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the LORD.” vs. 7-8

This summer the youth of our church took on a local mission project called Operation Charlotte.

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They did a variety of things like yard work at a local school, VBS for a day camp and in a neighborhood, sorting at a clothing ministry and holding a block party for a group of refugees in our area.

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During the course of the week they shared the gospel with kids around our city and several came to know Christ for the very first time.They were not ashamed and were eager to share the love of Christ with kids that they’d never met. 

So often we underestimate the abilities of our kids. As adults we get so wrapped up in our own worlds so much that we miss what kids around us are able to do. It is up to us to teach them that through Christ they can have the confidence to be whoever He calls them to be and that HE will equip them to handle that call. Hence Jeremiah 1:7-8!!

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Even in my own ministry I sometimes think that I need to be the one talking with those that enter our doors. However, the impact that my daughter can have may go beyond my ability to reach someone. She is not afraid to invite them to church or ask if they are in need of a Bible. She has taken it on herself to be sure that we are well stocked with Bibles at the front of the store so that they are available when someone might need it. I need to step aside and let her try out her wings while under my care so that when she is on her own she has had the guidance to know what to say and when to say it.

God has really shown me that in the same way that I don’t appreciate someone underestimating my abilities…. I should show the same courtesy and encourage others to grow, serve and step out… even if it’s “just a kid.”

Hey HGBC Youth and KIDS! Your church family is proud of you guys!! We love you and are so encouraged by your service, worship and leadership at such young ages! WE LOVE YOU!!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Right in Our Own Backyard

Each time I sit at this computer to begin to write some sort of blog post about the things going on in my life God just seems to tell me NO! “People don’t want to know about this stuff!” I hear it just echoing in my mind.

We have been to fun places this summer and done some fun things and I love sharing those times with my family, but for some reason my heart and mind just get distracted and I can’t seem to put those things into words.

Over and over, however,  the thoughts come to my mind about the people that are in our own backyards who are in need. I suppose God’s refining fire in my life has been turned up a notch! While there are lots of fun things going on around this crazy house of mine, our family has been issued the command to GO! Live Sent! Figure out what YOU can do to make a difference in the life of someone today…

There are lots of days that it is ALL about us. Where we wanna eat. What we wanna wear. Who we wanna see and what we wanna do…

It’s just that after God stood on my head for a year (literally! STOOD ON MY HEAD. Yes, He did.) until the Clothes Closet was opened and then He opened the door for me to go to Africa and THEN He opened the door for my husband to go to Rhode Island… well, this is slowly creeping in and consuming our every thought that this life is not about us!

Just today two people came into the Clothes Closet and they had recently lost their spouses. They were not there to shop. They were there to donate their loved one’s items and take another step in saying goodbye. It was visibly hard for them and what an honor for me! I needed to gently let them know that we would be honored to help take those items and give them to others that might be able to put them to use.

I never thought that helping those in need might mean something like helping say goodbye. They had a different need than any that I ever thought I’d encounter. They NEEDED a safe place to let go and a safe place to voice that their hearts were hurting a little because of what they were having to do.

Then there was the lady who moved her hoping to make a new life for herself after her husband left. She has been here a year and she’s working part time but it’s not enough to take care of all of the bills. She came in to find a few things to wear to work and she hasn’t found a church yet. She’s kind of alone and… I guess I never thought that helping those in need might mean inviting someone to come sit with me at church just so they will know that someone cares enough to meet them there… and sit with them.

Not everyone that enters our doors share their stories. Some of them are completely silent and I have no idea what they are returning to as they take their items and leave. Some of them CHOOSE to continue in a lifestyle of seeking support from every organization out there and having no desire to work. Others, however, are trying with ALL their might to find work and support their families and they just need a little help until they get there.

Honestly, I am finding that I don’t care. As I meet more and more people in my own backyard that do not have clothing or basic toiletry it just does not matter as to why they’ve come. God said for us to help those in need… He did not put a clause in the Bible that stated that they need so show me credentials before I help them.

I don’t know. It is fun to share pictures of our lives and to talk about what we did on vacation. It’s not that I want to NOT enjoy time away or share it with others. I guess, for me, those things are beginning to take a back seat and I am becoming more sensitive to the fact that it’s just not always all about me!