Monday, July 18, 2011

Backyard Wedding

A couple of weeks ago, we found out that one kid's dad & his girlfriend were getting married. With seven kids between them, they were not able to plan a celebration.

While the child was visiting us, his Dad came over and invited us to their reception that would take place in 3 days. He said that they were just going to do some hamburgers and a few sides.

After Sergio and I talked, we decided that we'd like to help them in any way that we could. We've talked a lot about missional living and serving in our neighborhood and felt that this was our opportunity to love one of our neighbors.

Sergio got in touch with the members of our church to see if anyone was available to help set-up. Rob & Judy donated most of the meat that they had frozen & left over from the Fourth of July party. Paper goods, sides, & drinks were purchased.

For the decorations, Judy pulled together things she had in her home, fresh flowers from her mother-in-law's garden, as well as a few tables. (Thank you, Honey & Poo!)

I did not get a before shot, but we started with a blank slate. Rob set up most of the tables & helped us get things in order.

The family has 3 huge Boxers, so a few people cleaned up the yard.

I felt so blessed by Judy's giftedness of taking nothing and making it beautiful as well as Crystal's assertiveness to get the job done and to do it perfectly. I, honestly, would've stood there for a long time before making a decision! These two ladies are Rockstars!!

In the middle of one of the trees, this car hangs and is literally bolted to the tree with the largest chain that I've ever seen. It was not coming down. So, why not make it fun, right?! It was filled with ice & Capri Sun for the kids.

It was a great day as a church family. Although we don't really 'know' this family all that well, we were able to serve them with 'no strings attached'. We love them because He loves us.

We met a few of their family members and then most of us left the party. Crystal took my place (without even having to be asked!!) so that I could get back to our house guests. Sergio cooked the meat and was able to talk with a few of their guests.  They  were surprised & truly grateful.

If anything happened, it was that we served together as a family & blessed a bride and groom on their wedding day.

And you know, although Jesus did not come and turn water into wine this day....He came and turned a backyard into a beautiful reception.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Incarnational Living

These ancient words were written long before Jesus came and yet they describe in clear, and sometimes uncomfortably graphic, terms some of the struggles inherent in living an incarnational life.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
“let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it! (Psalm 22)

***Entire post taken from "The Tangible Kingdom Primer".

I'm ready to intentionalize every area of my life towards incarnational living.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mom, Can I play with "B"?

Door bell rings. (I cringed) Josiah peeks out the window and shouts, "Mom, can I play with "B"?".

Usually, I don't mind having kids come in and out of our home. In the month that we've lived here, we've had kids over almost everyday. But, when it's "B", I tend to cringe a little.

"B" is a challenge for me. Don't get me wrong, he's a super sweet kid. We first met "B" the day that we moved in. Our son, Josiah, was thrilled. He made his first friend in a matter of minutes. I even said a silent prayer of gratitude to the Lord.

The first few times that he came over were okay. His voice is set on high volume most of the time. After spending time with "B", we've noticed some behavior that is not easy to handle.

"B" comes from a broken home. His parents are divorced and have split custody. His dad is living with his girlfriend and between them have a handful of children. It's a busy household with a lot of needs.

After speaking with his dad, we have come to find out that "B" has ADHD as well as some form of being overly aggressive and extremely disobedient.

As he gets comfortable with us, I have seen him raise his fist at my daughter, use harsh words to my son, and ignoring the rules of our home. On a number of occasions, I've had to just send him home.

In my mind, I tend to give myself a good excuse for not allowing him over. "I have four children of my own to try and raise up." "I can't have someone influencing my kids in a negative way." "I have to protect my children." All of my self-given excuses are good. We need to place boundaries in our lives, but is this the time to writeoff a 10 year old boy because of his occasional outbursts?

Two days ago, the boys in the neighborhood had a firework war with "Snappers".  "B" got upset over a Snap that was on the ground & picked up by Josiah. He began to yell & demand for it back. He stood over Josiah trying to scare & intimidate him. The 'momma bear' in me began to growl.

Lucky for him, my husband quickly stepped in. While trying to talk to "B", we could see on his face anger beyond description. He quickly went to a place far from reality. As Sergio began to grab his hand to take him home, he ran off.

Sergio walked down to "B's" home to speak with his dad who was firmly holding "B" to calm & control the episode. Sergio and "B's" dad have established a good relationship, so Sergio told him that he'd be back to talk.

We left for the fourth of July cookout held at our team leaders home. Thoughts of "B" filled my mind most of the night. What was I going to do? Josiah was scared and said several times, "did you see "B's" face". It was a difficult situation, but it was a teachable moment for our children.

After the cookout, we came home and sat outside with the neighbors during a fireworks show. The mom across the street told me that her kids are not to play with "B" and his family. She told me to be careful and that he was extremely aggressive. He has recently run over another neighbor kid with his bike, putting her in a cast from hip to ankle. He has no remorse. His response, "she should've moved."

I told her that I will be respectful of her rules and will have her kids come over when "B" and his family are not over.

There are many stories of "B" floating around the neighborhood. Should I be worried?

After a discussion with Sergio, we've decided to not look like the world. If we look like the others in our neighborhood, how will "B's" family know love? Our response is important to both his family and to our children. Our children are watching us and will know His love by the way we love.

We've decided to go ahead and continue to have this family over, but with limits. They can come over when Sergio is home. We will have extra eyes, ears, and hands to handle any outbursts that may pop up. We will not leave any of the children alone. We will stay with them while they play. If we are unable to do so, then it is not a good night for them to be over.

In doing so, we are living missionally. We are loving "B" and his family and we are putting up boundaries to protect our family.

I'm glad that we made this decision.

"B" came over today to play. But before doing so, he sincerely wanted to apologize to our family for his actions. What a wonderful opportunity to share God's love & forgiveness with him!

I'm sure that the outbursts will still come. At least now, we are ready.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Holidays Away from Family

Being a church planter is rewarding at times, but it is not easy. Take today. It's July 4th, 2011. A day where many family & friends are getting together to celebrate with their annual traditions. Some meet up at the lake, others in the streets, and some at parks for cookouts. It's a day of laughter & fun.

But, today, I miss my family. I especially miss my Dad. Today was his favorite holiday. A day of fun, no worries about his struggles or his depression. Today is yet another reminder that he is gone. I miss him.

I miss my mom. She is such a giver. She has the sweetest voice on the phone. There's something about a mother's love. At times, I long to be with her. I miss her.

I miss my brothers and sister. I am reminded of the times that we were given lighted cigarettes to light up our fireworks. Not the smartest idea, but it's what we did. I remember Mom letting us drink Pepsi, eat like pigs, and play until late at night. I miss them so much.

I miss my friends in Joplin. We spent the past five years there and our relationships grew deep roots. I wonder what they are doing this evening. I wish to see them all together again. I miss them.

But, today has been a great, rewarding day. We've spent the day on the slip & slide with neighborhood friends, had a firework war with the boys down the street, went to a cookout & met some wonderful people, and sat in our cul-de-sac with our neighbors for a fireworks show.

God has called us to leave our family, friends, and the security of what we've known to come here. He's called us to come to a city where no one knows us. They don't know the awards we've received. They don't know where we've served or who we have mentored. Our achievements seem to not matter at all.

So what does matter? Well, I believe that our love matters to them. Sergio and I are asking ourselves, how are we, as a family, going to love the neighborhood kids? How are we going to show their families the love of Christ?

This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:10)

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19)

This is how we will begin to show them love. We love them by opening up our home. We will remember birthdays, anniversaries, and special dates. We will ask them over for dinner. We will bless them with what we can give. We will wave to them when we see them outside and make time to visit when they are sitting on their porches. We will cry with them and we will pray for them. We will talk about our Father and share of His goodness.

This is how we will love and share life with them.

I believe that everyone wants to feel loved. Everyone has a story & everyone has a hurt. Even today, my own heart hurts. I miss those very dear to me, but "my flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:26)

"Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows." 2 Corinthians 1:3-5