Thoughtful Thursdays: Encourage One Another Up

Today, we had a lazy/chaotic (yes, we can do both at the same time)  day in the Hudson house.  I had LOTS of laundry to do after our float trip, but was bound and determined to keep up with this summer school stuff.  Within a 4 hour span, with lots of interruptions….. not being as focused on each child as I would like to, I ended up doing multiplications and reading with my middle child, reading and adding with my youngest, and had my oldest daughter begin reading  a book over developing faith as a teenager (Yikes, she is turning 13 in November).  But hey!   We did it, each child got their individual time in,  I got the bags all unpacked and the laundry 30% done, and no one had a melt down :)

On our little weekly schedule (which I have yet to complete a full week), Thursday’s are designated as “Thoughtful Thursdays”   We are to set aside some time to be thoughtful of other people.  Since everyone was pretty much zombies and recovering from our float trip, I sat everyone down to write out cards of encouragement.  I flipped my bible to 1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 which read,

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.   We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work.  Be at peace among yourselves.”

We discussed how this verse urged us to always be filled with encouragement and share it with everyone, especially those who work hard for the Lord.  We got out our directory and I asked them to look through the pictures and tell me who they thought were very hard workers for the Lord and why.  They then got to choose a few people to write out cards to.  As a parent, I was so thankful that the kids found so many people who they thought were hard workers.  It was so encouraging!  I want you all to know that these kiddos of ours who are being raised in the church see your good deeds, or lack of.  They chose a handful of people to write cards to, and began to write.  The cards were made out to a variety of workers.  A teacher, an enthusiastic volunteer, a person who looks after the needs of others, and people who count the money at our congregation and let the kids in on the fun.

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So simple.  Easy tasks, that ALL of us can be doing, are being witnessed by the future of our congregation.  It was interesting to see these workers through the eyes of my children.  It was a blessing to see that my kids understand what being a leader and worker for the Lord is.  This simple, 5 minute devotional thought has made me step back and be so thankful for those who are surrounding my family, the congregation where I attend, and our community with their Godly efforts.  Let us all strive to encourage one another daily and live a life that reflects Christ’s servant heart.

 

Make it Monday & Romans 8:28

The kids and I have officially started our loosely labeled homeschool summer experience.  We usually take the first month of summer off to just be lazy bums, then get a schedule going for the months of July and August.   On Monday, we kicked off our summer-time homeschool journey with tie-dying tee shirts.  It was…..interesting.  There were some mishaps.  Lots of mishaps.   Complete with tears, dirt, yelling, and stomping.   “Why do I even try this every year?”  I thought to myself, as I was left alone in the backyard picking up the supplies, sweating in the heat of the day.  We will get to the answer as to why I do this stuff later…

I started the project by rinsing our shirts in water mixed with 1/4 cup of vinegar in the washing machine, then set all of our dyes out while the shirts were rinsing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I mixed the dye with 1 tsp of salt to help keep the colors vibrant and well….actually I don’t know the reason why, the directions just said to use salt, so I did.  I added the dye, don’t ask me how much, I just filled the squirt bottles 3/4 full of dye, then filled the rest with warm water, closed the caps (very important) then shook them to get the color all blended.

pretty colors!

pretty colors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once the shirts were done, we got to work on twisting them into the forms.  We each were able to get two t-shirts and one pillowcase to dye.

The kids couldn't figure out why I was using a fork

The kids couldn’t figure out why I was using a fork

I thought out everything I needed except for a plastic tablecloth, so I improvised and cut open a trash bag instead and grabbed some pavers to weigh it down.

The kids then got to work creating their masterpieces.

Let the creativity flow!  Just don't let it flow out of your area....

Let the creativity flow! Just don’t let it flow out of your area….

Pros: Being outside, working together, allowing creativity,  calling something their own.

Cons: Being outside, patience in waiting on colors, wind tossing dirt, colors not landing as planned, runoff from one shirt getting onto another.

I think our little activity lasted about 10 minutes at the most.  Once we were done, the kids placed their creations in the sun to set the color, and ran into the AC.  This left me dripping in sweat picking up everything.  I didn’t mind though, I needed the quiet time to gather my thoughts for the next part…..

I can do this.  I can do this!

I can do this. I can do this!

 

After the 10 minutes of chaos, and my little break,  the kids and I sat around the table for our devotional thought for the day.   This moment is why I put myself through the madness of trying to get my kids ages 12, 8, and 6 together each day to share in an experience.  There is not one experience in life that does not contain a lesson that points back to the cross.  Not one.  I LOVE and THRIVE on relaying these lessons to my babies.

Sweet kiddos

Sweet kiddos

The white shirts represented us, the colors represented life experiences.  Some were good experiences, like when we got the color in just the right spot we wanted it to go.  Some were bad, like when my oldest messed up her “plan” by using the wrong color on accident.  Some colors were not in our plan at all, but put there by the mishap of another’s mistake.  We talked about how each of these things made our shirts what they were.  Beautifully ours.  Unique.  Different.   We turned to Romans 8:28 which states, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good for those who are called according to His purpose.”  Life happens.  Mistakes happen.  Wonderful things happen.   Like the kids’ shirts, some things turn out just the way we want them, and some do not.  But it all works together for the good.  I asked the kids what they thought this statement meant.  My youngest said, “God can turn mess-ups into great things!”  Amen son.  Amen.  I asked them if they messed up on their shirts, or if they went exactly as planned.  They all agreed it was 50/50, some went as planned, some didn’t.  I asked them what they thought the end result would be with their shirts, and they all agreed they would still be awesome, mess ups and all.  That’s life kids!  God takes each circumstance, good and bad, and turns them into something great for those who love the Lord.  I told them life is precious, beautiful, and crazy.  I asked them to write down circumstances that they thought were bad, but then ended up being good, and we discussed them.  (This was so worth the chaos of dying those stinking shirts.)

Letting the SON sink in

Letting the SON sink in

Wrapping up our devo, we talked about the fact that a dedicated life to God is not easy, or happy all the time.  But it’s worth it.   Mistakes will be made,  people and circumstances will hurt us at times, but God uses these things to shape and mold us into beautiful, colorful reflections of His son Jesus Christ.  The end product becomes a colorful reminder of God’s grace and provision to those who seek Him in each aspect of our lives.  I hope my sweeties are reminded of this thought when they reflect back on the chaos of making these shirts.

 

 

The kids in their shirts!

The kids in their shirts!

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Do you ever have those days where your mind just wanders all over the place and you find yourself exhausted trying to keep up?  Today I woke up like this.  Thoughts from bathing suits to christmas gifts to peanut trucks flipping over to flip-flops to plane rides to…well, you get the idea.  My brain is on overload!  download

Oh, I have a pregnant friend too!  She was on my thoughts today as I stared at my flip flops remembering where I was when I got them.  I was in Nicaragua.  Last September.  The woman at the booth was in awe of my “gigantic foot”.  Apparently, a size 8 1/2 to 9 is the equivalent of a size 14 here in america.  She even grabbed my foot, all nasty from the day’s adventures, and examined my arch,  and my toes, and was taken back by the fact that she only had one pair of flip flops BIG enough for my feet.  That thought brought me back to the scary plane ride from Houston to Dallas.  The creepy, creepy plane ride that Xanax couldn’t defeat.  This thought made me think of those silly air masks that come down when you are about to crash.  You know, the ones that will keep you conscious in the thin air so you can be aware of the fact that you are about to die in a fiery crash?  (Jake and I have decided that if that ever happens, we will NOT be putting on the oxygen masks and just enjoy passing out before our bodies are disintegrated in engine fuel)

images I always wondered why the flight attendant tells you to always take care of yourself first.  Don’t put anyone’s mask on but your own!  Don’t put your child’s mask on first!  Don’t help the little old lady with her mask, take care of yours first!  It always sounded a bit selfish to me really.  This takes me back to my preggo friend.  I have been sending her random messages on facebook filled with some life lessons from yours truly when it comes to parenthood.  And let me please say that most of these lessons are due to trial and error on my part.   Today, in the midst of my rambled thoughts about flip flops and fuselages, I want to share with my preggo friend, and whoever else is reading this a life lesson tip that I was able to pull from the brain overload:  Put your oxygen mask on first.

You’re going to give that little flutter-bye in your belly so much of your time, energy, love, money, body shape, sleep, concern, heart, and soul when they get here that you need to understand that if you aren’t taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to take care of him/her.  It is not selfish to take a much needed nap instead of doing the dishes.   It is not selfish to tell your child that you cannot help them right now because you are having your special time with God by being in His word.  It is ok to leave the kids at home and go on a small trip with your spouse.  Put your oxygen mask on first!images (1)

I ask God often to give me the energy I need each day so I can perform all of the things I want to perform out of thankfulness to Him.  I struggle with busyness and productiveness.  Daily.  Hourly.  Ok, it is a constant battle.  I pray a lot.  The battle between idleness, useless tasks, and productive days really wear at me.  I have found however, if I just take the time to take a deep breath, draw in to the day with a heart filled with God’s wisdom, I am equipped with what I need to get everything else done.  I put my mask on first.  Sometimes.  But really, its a battle every day, be prepared!

So there is your tip my preggo friend.  Save yourself so you can save others.  Feed your soul so it can shine.  Don’t turn down lunch dates with your husband because you have laundry to do, and don’t turn down a good puzzle that you will probably work a million times because it is flutter-bye’s favorite.    If you find 30 minutes to spare, grab a bowl of brown sugar oatmeal, make yourself a bubble bath, and  enjoy some great music.  This is serious therapy.  Seriously.  Go for a jog without the headphones and have a conversation with God instead.  (When I do this, the end of my conversation is more like a pleading with God for me not to pass out and hit my head on the pavement from exhaustion.) When we become moms, for whatever reason, we think we turned into super heros who can do all for all with all with no help ever.  We don’t need no oxygen mask!  Wrong.

Strive for a deep dependance on the One who created you.   Depend on Him just like needing to take your next breath.    He will fill your spirit and body with so much love, you will have no choice but let that love spill over into the lives of your soon to be little family of three.   Put on your oxygen mask first.  Well, unless your plane is going down, then you may just want to skip the extra few minutes it gives you and get yourself on the fast track to eternity.

Do We as Christians Really “Get” It?

I have been sitting here staring at this blank screen for quite some time now , trying to articulate what is on my heart  without sounding like “one of those people”.  I can however, tell my readers that this post is written directly to anyone who considers themselves to be a Christian.   Why say this?  God tells us not to judge others who are not in the faith.  (1 Corinthians 5:12)  How can we expect others to uphold to the ways of God if they do not even accept Him or His way?  We simply cannot.  Our job is to introduce them to the salvation following the Way brings (and if you are interested in this, have I got some great things to tell you).  Ok, back to us  now.  I read through a blog the other day about the argument between Christians over the Matthew McConaughey speech at the Oscars.  Some Christians applaud his efforts in talking about God in his speech, while others are disgusted at the hypocrisy.    It is getting so discouraging to see all of us, as Christians, debating right and wrong.  How silly is that?  We Christians, who have everything we need to know given to us in the Word of God, debating over what it says!  We debate the amount of sin it is ok to have in our lives.  We debate whether or not its ok to sin if its part of our line of work.  Christians who live a life that is “less sinful” than another Christians is either flogged verbally for being too “perfect” or flogging someone else verbally because the other Christians are less than “perfect”.   No wonder people think we are nut jobs!   No wonder kids are leaving the church as fast as they can, never looking back!  No wonder people find it so easy to discredit the Creator and avoid His love and mercy!  They look at us and say, “No thanks!”.  Look at us! (this is me sarcastically screaming through my fingertips as I write this)

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Brothers, sisters, congregations of all different “beliefs” we have to stop this.  The church was called to be one.  One in mind and in truth.  One in  belief in the Word of God, and one in being ambassadors for Christ.  We have fought so hard to be called the ones who are “right”, that we have missed our mission.  I can’t tell you how many times I have heard good, sincere people dismiss the faith all together because they didn’t want to be like the Christians they saw.  That breaks my heart.  We are failing.  People are hurting and we are too busy arguing with each other.  We are missing the mark and like it or not, we will be judged on that.  So how do we start?

thebodyofchristWe have to all agree on what we are fighting for, and what our tools are.   If you are a Christian, then you believe in God, and in His son.  You believe that God is alive and well and speaks to us through His word.  We cannot disagree in this!  This is our cornerstone!  Christ crucified for us, living and working within us, speaking to us through the word of God!  We cannot chose to agree with God in one part of scripture, and not agree with Him in another.  We have to have faith in God before we can serve God.  We have to have full faith in the Word and stop choosing what we want to follow.  Hebrews 4:12  tells us the word is alive, living and active.   We are called to handle this word in truth as good workers  2 Timothy 2:15.  Christians PLEASE examine the “doctrine” you are following.  Is it following God’s Word?  Are you willing to speak up if it is not?  Are you willing to speak up in love if it is?   What are we all fighting for?  The spread of the gospel.  Are you spreading the gospel?  Are you spreading God’s word, or your own?  This is our biggest threat.  We love to debate how we do things in our congregations as opposed to others.  Is this our primary goal?  Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  Our “houses” of worship are divided folks, and crumbling under our petty arguments over what we think God’s church should run like.  Be Christ-like in your obedience to God’s word.  Be united in the message it brings.

brokenheartWe have to posses a heart that gets offend by sin.   When I first became a Christian, a lot of sin did not affect me.  I was a teenager and still had a lot to learn.  I did not get offend by going too far with my boyfriend.  I did not get offended when someone used God’s name in vain.  I did not get offended at the filth I saw on the big screen.    I was moved by the fact that someone died for me so I could live, and most of all, I was scared to death of eternity in hell.  My motives were about 70% fear of judgment, and 30% thankfulness.  I felt as if I did my part in becoming a Christian, and life would go on unchanged.  But then I grew in the word.  God spoke to me each time I opened the word and sought after His wisdom.  I began to feel uneasy and downright dirty when I found myself in a sinful situation.  My love for Christ began to outweigh the sin.  My desire to live a life as close to his teachings as possible outweighed the fear of hell.  I felt a good, healthy guilt in my gut that sprouted from a deep respect for my Father in heaven.  I am so thankful for this.  Christians, God expects this from all of us.   “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity,dignity,  and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”  Titus 2:7.  We will all struggle with this verse, each and every day, but are we really struggling?  Are we struggling with cussing, partying, cheating on our wives or husbands, being single and sleeping around, holding grudges, being hypocritical, judgmental, crude, and downright worldly?  Or are we just fine with it?  The world LOVES it when we do these things without blinking an eye and call ourselves Christians anyways.  It fuels the fire of pointing out our hypocrisy!  Our hearts, if they are truly in Christ, get offended by these things.  This is a process!  The men and women in the bible struggled with these things, but the ones who were dedicated to God struggled and fought against these things.  We do not have an example of Godly people accepting their ungodly acts as the norm.  We see repentance.  The alcoholic stumbles a few times before they conquer their sin, but they are active in trying.  The teen who went too far sexually will falter at times, but is actively pushing it away.  The Christian who likes to condemn others is praying for love and self control, but the change will not happen over night so they press on.  These people are offended by sin and actively pursue change.   We all sin and fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23  That is why we needed Christ’s sacrifice.  When we become his, we accept the grace, and strive to change our sinful nature.  Have you ever changed? The term “christian” means Christ-like.  Christ did not engage in sin, and sin offend him.  If sin does not offend you, are you really Christ-like in the first place?

iHelpOthersWe must show love.   “I hate gays.”, “I hate Obama.”,  “I hate all muslims.”,  “I hate all who do not act, look, and talk like me.”   Wow.  Way to show God’s love there Mr/Mrs Christian!  So many of us hate the things that we fear, or have no control over.  We have a sheer hatred for Gay people because we just can’t fathom why.  We are quick to judge those who are given charge of us because we feel we have all the answers.  We don’t want to get to know people who don’t live like we do, or live where we do, or worship God like we do,  because they are different.  2 Timothy 1:7 states, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.”  Are we trusting in the power of the word to change lives, or snuffing it out with hate?  Are we showing God’s love for all people by using self control in our speech and actions?  I don’t understand or agree with homosexuality, but I will love those who practice it.  I really don’t understand or agree with Obama, but respect his position of authority.  I don’t get why people chose to ruin their lives with drugs and alcohol, and it blows my mind when someone tells me they don’t believe in God, but I will love them regardless.  I gotta be honest, I want to erase what I just wrote because I struggle with this.  I don’t want to love the sinner, but hate the sin.  I want to feel justified in my being offended by these people.  By these people.  Not the sin mind you, but the people. We don’t want to like “those” people much less love them!  Christ had the amazing ability to peer into the souls of others.  He saw past the sin, into the person, and chose to speak the truth in love, because he knew what they needed.  Did you know we can do this too?  How do we peer into the souls of others?  We get to know them!  We talk with them.  We spend time with them, and share things with them.  We stop seeing the sin, and see the person.  I love the passage in John 13:34 where Christ states, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”  By our love for one another, Christ will be seen through this love.  We must love those who do not know Christ enough to practice self control with them just as we practice self control with those who we share the same beliefs with.  Then we can share Christ, in love and let God take care of the rest.  We fight so hard to get people to see things our way, and forget the wonderful gift of free will.  God loves us enough to let us make our own decisions, and we have got to start doing the same.  Speak the truth in love, and if they are receptive, Glory be to God!  If they don’t, love them anyways.  Be Christ-like in your love.  Be they type of person that those who are lost look at and say, “That person is different.  That person cares about me.  Why?”  Open door to Jesus right there!

All three of the points I made I struggle with on a daily basis, but I am so thankful that I am struggling, because I know that the struggle is shaping my heart to be more like His.  I ask that you find it in your hearts to struggle as well.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror.  For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.  But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.

If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless.  Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.”  James 1:22-27

 

Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  Matthew 5:3

I cannot tell you how many times I’ve read over this passage and thought to myself, “Ok, be like poor folk, do without, make sacrifices.” and then carried on about my business.  This was however, before I really dug down into the Word and took the time to study the word “poor”.     The word “poor” to me has been warped into focusing on what others were doing without.  Poor people do not have as much as others, so for me to be poor in spirit, I should limit myself to luxuries to remain humble in nature.   I would think about the people back in biblical times who were able to take care of themselves, but still depend on the help of others to get by.  That was poor to me.  The old man who could walk, but could not carry a load.  The woman who was capable of taking care of her household, but had no financial means because she was widowed.  My study in the be-attitudes revealed something much more deeper and significant than that.

 

The word “poor” in the context of Matthew 5:3 means to be completely helpless without outside assistance.  To be destitute.  To be bent.  Ptochos.    Imagine the man in John chapter 5 who waited at the pool of Bethesda to hopefully be picked up by a compassionate person, and placed into the pool.  He was completely and utterly destitute.  He could do nothing on his own without outside help.  The man was at the complete mercy of another’s power to carry him on.  Let that sink in.  Are you at the complete mercy of another’s power to carry you on?   This is the “poor” we must strive for as mentioned in Matthew 5:3.  To be helpless without the aid of an outside source.   To truly be poor in spirit, we must acknowledge and completely surrender to the fact that we desperately need God.  We must allow our hearts to be approachable by Him, we must be willing to be corrected by Him, and we must be willing to learn from Him.  This is poor in spirit.   It is not a high and mighty self sacrifice of things, because in all honesty, we are controlling that sacrifice.  It is a deep and utter helplessness of spirit because we simply cannot function without the power of our Creator.

copyright Nathan Greene

copyright Nathan Greene

I admit, it is hard to wrap my mind around this concept.  When I was a child, my dad used to show me how to change tires, fix flats, check the oil, change  fuses, and spark plugs, along with many other things a man is supposed to do.   He showed me these things to help me understand that I had to be self sufficient, he told me I can’t depend on others to take care of me.  On the other hand, he would also chime in, “When you get married, your husband needs to do these things for you;  it’s his job to take care of you, and you better let him, but at the same time he may not always be there to save you.”  Reading and picking apart Matthew 5:3 has really made me focus on rewiring my mind to the type of destitute state of spirit I need to be in in order to fully comprehend the power at work within me through Christ.  The verse in Philippians 4:13 which states, “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”, simply cannot carry through if I do not allow myself to be poor in spirit.  This verse is proclaimed with  great pride and conviction through someone who is completely dependent in spirit.  It is simply a beautiful thing.

Blessed are the poor in spirit.  Blessed are you who completely and totally surrender all your being to the One who created you.  Blessed are you who acknowledge you are desolate without the blood of your savior.  Blessed are you who are willing to be carried.  For yours is the kingdom of heaven.  Amen.

Sharing Memories

I’m not even going to begin to try to make sense of the tragedy that took place  at Mid America this past week, because I know that there simply aren’t answers.  Instead, I just wanted to share five things I came to appreciate in Brody, one of the men that passed away in the accident.  I had the privilege to get to know Brody and his family over the three and a half years my husband and I were part of  the SE Student Bible Chair program, which he was a part of.

Brody’s death has solidified my love and appreciation for the universal body of Christ.  Because of Jake’s ministry, we have moved around quite a bit due to different ministry’s.  Friendships are forged, memories created, and the span of our family in Christ has erupted in numbers each time we go to a new place.  Moves are tough because of the bonds that are made, but with each move, family grows, love grows,  support systems grow, and for that I am so thankful.  I have been able to witness this family unit in Christ  reach out to each other and rise up from the pain and focus on how God can heal those affected most by Brody’s death.   I feel so unworthy since I didn’t know him as long as others,  to talk about him, but I wanted to share with those who did not know Brody, and with those who knew him the best, the wonderful memories I have of him.

One day I had posted on Facebook that I was in need of a metal wash tub for an upcoming photo shoot I had later on that day.  I stepped away from my computer and went about my business figuring someone would respond to my post if they had one available.  About two hours later, there was a knock at my door, I opened it, and there stood Brody, all dirty and sweaty from working with a perfect metal tub in his hands.  He explained to me that he had saw my post, went out to his barn, and dug it from a junk pile.  He then showed me where he had beat a few dents out of it, washed it out, and even drilled a few drainage holes in the bottom in case I wanted to make it into a planter, when I was finished with it (which I did).  That was Brody.   He was keen on seeing a need and taking care of it right then and there, if he was able to do it.  I forgot about this until I stepped out on my porch this morning and saw that old tub sitting next to it.  I am even more thankful for it now ,than I was back then, because now, it reminds me of Brody.    Proverbs 3:27 Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

Brody seemed to be a real sucker for animals.  Not only did he show gentleness for people, he lavished it on animals as well.   On a few occasions, when he would be over at our house with the college group, he would either bring an animal, or find one of mine and love on it.   He really liked my bob-tailed cat, Bobbie.  I promised him a kitten from one of her litters when she was pregnant.  The time came, and she had kittens.  One of them was a beautiful gray, black, and white fuzzy bob-tailed kitten.  Brody was smitten.  When the time came, he stopped by in his big loud truck to take the kitten to her new home.   She.  Freaked.  Out.  Brody could barely hold on to her once he got her in the truck.  She was like a gray bolt of lightning, running into the windows, the dashboard, and clawing at poor Brody’s chest.  Jake and I stood in our driveway, laughing hysterically as Brody tried to drive away with a crazy cat on board.   At church the next night, Brody showed off his woulds from the kitty ninja and told me that as soon as they got home, the kitten bolted to the neighbor’s place  where most of the stray cats Brody picked up went.  I remember looking at his mom, and her laughing and agreeing with that statement.    She said that he was constantly bringing cats home, and every time, they would go to the neighbors house.  I sure hoped the neighbor was a cat person.  Philippians 4:5  Let your gentleness be evident to all.

This past Wednesday  while Jake was telling the congregation here in Madill about Brody’s death, he turned around and looked towards the front of the auditorium and said that Brody had stood right over there and gave his first devotional ever.   Again, another thing that  was a lost memory, resurfaced.  Brody was proud to proclaim his faith.   As a Campus Minister, Jake took the college students to the area churches that supported the work at the SE Student Bible Center.  Jake would give a report, and the guys of the group would lead singing, say prayers, and give devotionals.  Brody was so nervous.  He stood up there in his jeans and plaid shirt and gave a great devotional thought.  He was just about finished when he froze up.  He frantically looked at Jake, then the rest of us, then Jake again, completely frozen in body, and in words.  He was simply mortified!  He regained his composure, and hurriedly finished the devotional.  I felt so bad for him and hoped that this awkward moment didn’t keep him from doing it again, because the guy had such a wonderful heart, and a wonderful message to share.  A few weeks later, he proudly stood in his home congregation in Durant and gave the same devotional to us there.  He nailed it!   2 Timothy 1:7-8  For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.

Brody and I shared a weird sense of pickiness when it came to our food.  We would  compare all the odd food things we did or did not like while waiting around on his grandma to hurry up with the meal, or cookies, or whatever it was she was cooking.   In the church kitchen, or the kitchen of the Bible Center, was really where I got to know him best.  Actually, going through all my pictures from our time in Durant, every picture of Brody is either right next to Taryn, or in the kitchen, or both!   I would find him in the  kitchen, amongst his mom, girlfriend, sister, grandma, and aunt sneaking food (oh his dad and brother would come sneak food too) .  We both didn’t like icing very much and his grandma would tell me how she would leave a piece of cake plain for Brody so he would eat it.   We would all tease him and his girlfriend (which became his wife), about how she would have a hard time getting him to eat.  Kitchen talk was the best, and I loved to have his family filling the Bible Center kitchen with their love, and delicious food whenever I needed help with big meals.  This family epitomized unity, and I loved to just be a witness to this while tea was being sweetened, cake was being iced, and turkey was being carved.  1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.

And last but not least, Brody loved Taryn.  They were smitten with each other.  I used to watch them and roll my eyes and smile at the “young love”.  They knew it was way more than that though.  He was always so protective and respectful of her.  I would poke Jake in the ribs and say, “Why can’t we be like that?”  He would laugh it off and say, “Oh they are kids and in luuuuv, give them a few years.”  And so we did.  And Brody didn’t stop.  Taryn didn’t stop.  They were always ga-ga over each other.  They were joined in marriage just this past summer and got to experience that amazing bond that only marriage can bring.  And I am so happy they got to experience that before he left this world.  Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.

I cannot begin to express the sympathy I wish to express to the Davenport family.  Its just not possible.  But I can express it with my soul to God in prayer and know He is using the aching prayers of so many, to comfort this family.  Brody was a gentle and quiet spirit who has left a lasting impact on all who knew him.

John 14:27 “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”   

PicMonkey Collage

For the Yesaholic

ImageConfession:  I am somewhat of a “yesaholic”.  I tend to say “yes” to so many things that I can’t even keep them all straight.  I feel as if my brain is a little cork-board full of little color-coded post it notes and scrap paper full of commitments pinned all over it.  Do you ever feel this way?  As I was on my Instagram feed, I noticed a quote that summed up exactly how I was feeling over these past few weeks.   It read,

“Saying ‘no’ even though it’s hard to do frees me up to say ‘yes’ to what matters.”

“Lord, help me to remember that You care much more about my heart than what I accomplish on my to-do list.”  - Crystal Paine

This quote hit me hard today as I got up this morning in a fog because of the fact that I had ladies Bible class to teach today, and had no idea what I was going to talk about, because I had some curriculum to write, photo shoots to edit, a meal plan to work on, orders to be placed, emails to respond to, and kids to hound about attending the upcoming T3 conference (whew).  So here I sit, killing two birds with one stone, you know, multi-tasking, something that women can do oh so well!

The other day, I finally took a step back from my life and looked at  what was to come, what was going on, and what had been neglected.  There has been a huge weight on my shoulders for the past six months, and to be honest, I filled my plate with anything and everything so I didn’t have to deal with it.  I am all in when it comes to stepping out of self and into service.  This has been my motto for so long.  To me, it means if I focus on serving others, then I am not focusing on selfishness.  When I feel inadequate, I find someone that needs encouragement.  When I have a bad day, I go to someone else to make their day brighter, which, really brightens my day too.  This was going all well until I neglected myself too much.  I talked a lot to God and about God to others, but really have not taken the time to sit and listen God.

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We see in the scriptures that Jesus was so much to so many during his ministry, but even the Son of God had to take the time to get away, be still, and have his time with the Father.  Jesus was never distracted by a to-do list of spreading goodness and light, he just embodied it through the peace that poured out of his heart.  We get so wrapped up in doing good deeds for the spread of the gospel, that people often see those deeds, and appreciate them, but fail to see the passion and love behind them because the doer is exhausted. I feel exhaustion can be a good thing.  I want to go to bed every night exhausted, not because I ran around aimlessly trying to multi-task, but because I poured my heart out in service out of gratefulness to the one who gave all for me.  I want my soul to be exhausted from love, not exhausted by a non-stop to do list.  I feel as if Jesus didn’t have a to-do list.  He had a purpose, and everything centered around that purpose, fell in to place.  He kept his heart, eyes, and ears open to what we going on around him.  I want that!

Over the past year and a half, I took on a huge project.  I am writing a curriculum from scratch for our congregation.  For the two year old class, on up to the sixth grade.  It has been a labor of love full of joy, frustration, tears, laughter, and friendship.  It has filled my cup more than any other “project” for the gospel I have ever been a part of.  The teachers love it, the kids love it, the parents love it.  It has been a very good thing, and I’m so happy.  I have about nine more months to go until it is completed, but I had to step away and take a break.  It broke my heart to make the call to one of the elders about taking a break, but I had to.  I realized that this “yes” project had consumed every free moment, every thought, every quiet time with God.  This was replaced with finding crafts, life applications, word choices, games, coloring sheets, and so much more.  The cup that had been filled with hope for the future of our young ones, had been emptied by the burden of saying “yes” for too long.  Was all this done in vain?  No way!  The fruit of this project is budding and I cannot be more pleased.  I tallied up how many lessons I had written so far since I began my work in July of last year, and the number totals 936 lessons.  I have about half of that to go before it is all done.  But I can’t do it right now.   Why?  Because I am neglecting my time with God.  When I started, I managed to keep my time with God, and my time to write lessons separate.  Then life crept up, I said yes to other things, and trials came barging in.  Instead of  personal study, I buried myself in my “good” work so to speak, feeding the minds of children, and not my own.

A heart not filled with God’s peace and wisdom simply cannot imitate that for other people.  I said “no” for the time being because I do not want this curriculum to suffer, it has already helped our congregation so much, and I want to give it my best.  Christianity is not a to-do list for do-gooders.  Its not about saying “yes” to all so all can see how humble of a servant you are.  Christianity is about being a part of the body of Christ and being so full of His love, and grace that you can’t help but share it.

ImageI know we all fall into this rut at times, so I want to leave you all, myself included, with some questions that will help us decide whether or not we are yesaholics.

1.  Do you say yes because you are afraid of what others will say if you say no?

2.  Do you say yes because you are worried without you, it won’t get done?

3.  Do you say yes to something without taking the time for prayer and study on the task?

4.  Do you say yes because you need to escape something else?

A heart filled with peace would have no problem saying “no” in the instances listed above. It’s a hard thing to admit we can’t do it all.  Very hard.  But we must remember, nothing we do is possible without God.  If we are not taking the time to be filled with Him, these tasks we have been given will all be done in vain.  Take a look at your to-do list and pray about it.  Is it taking too much time away from your personal growth with God?  Is it being done to soothe others wishes?  Is the task taking you away from your church family?  Saying no is hard, but having to say I give up because I said yes too much is devastating.  Find that passion, whatever it may be, and serve because you are loved, know your talents and weaknesses, and don’t be afraid to say no when needed.  Or yes. :)