Thursday, April 17, 2014

Team Jesus

Was I the only one who thought today was called "Monday Thursday" as a kid?  Now I just say "Holy Thursday" to avoid confusing any little ears that may be listening.

Conveniently, I opened my Bible to John 17 last night and was struck by verses 20-26, where Jesus prays for believers.  I love that he prays for his disciples, but includes us too:  I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.
I don't want to take for granted for one second that Jesus thought me worthy of a prayer.  Worthy of so much more, too, but this small act touches me. 

In his last day on earth, Jesus prays that all believers will "be one."  It seems easy to forget we are all on the same team.  I know you've come across this too- some churches or people that are hung up on the details of various Christian faiths when, in fact, we are all commissioned to do the same work for God.  A few days ago somebody rang my doorbell to invite me to their church.  I declined, because I have a church that is just perfect for me, but how can I not wish this person the best?  I pray she knocks on a door of a non-believer, whose interest is piqued.  They attend a service just to get this person to stop coming to their house and wind up a faithful follower of Christ. 

I don't care what "brand" of Christian you are.  If you are mourning Jesus' death with me tomorrow, and rejoicing with me in his resurrection this Sunday, I count you as a brother or sister in Christ.  We are all on Team Jesus.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Palms and More

Palm Sunday!  I've had that song in my head all day.  You know the one?

Peter and John went to pray
They met a lame man on the way
He asked for alms and held out his palms and this is what Peter did say:
"Silver and gold have I none
But such as I have I give thee,
In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk!"

There's more, but you get it.  It has the word "palms" in there, so you know.  It's in my head. 

In Beth Moore's study on the book of Deuteronomy she gives this great message about eating.  She talks about the importance of food in the Bible and the important miracles and conversations that happened at meal times, not the least of which was Jesus' Last Supper. 

Some of the best times of my life have taken place around a table.  And the other best times were immediately followed by a celebratory meal.  My husband just clued me in to this great website,  The site has conversation starters for different age groups, menu ideas, and more.  I love it because it combines my favorite things: food and talking!

Have a lovely Holy Week.  I pray you feel God's love as he holds you in the palm of his hand.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Intentional Faith Development.

Happy Spring Break!  Or belated spring break, or pre-spring break... or just... HAPPY SPRING!!  Isn't it lovely and sunshiney and robin-esque and practically tulip-y?  Utterly make-up-wordish!  Never mind the mud!  I'm happy to have it!

Sunday I had the opportunity to talk to my church about intentional faith development.  I felt silly because as I looked out over our congregation, 99% of the people in the pews could have been up there instead of me.  Talk about preaching to the choir!  This is the gist of what I told them:

I grew up in the church, but I was a "quiet Christian."  I went to church and prayed, but didn't want to appear too excited about Jesus because that was weird, right?  When Jim and I moved down south, we quickly joined a church and small group.  The pastor outlined a Bible reading plan for us and my faith began to swell and grow.  But I was still asking what God could do for me.  How was being a Christian in my best interest?

Then we moved back to Michigan and luckily found our current church.  It's only been in the past few years my relationship with God has really grown.  It's in large part because God planted the most amazing people in my life.  It finally became clear to me that Christianity is not a Sunday morning religion.  As it turns out, God's main goal is not for me to happy (shock!), but to live a Christ-like life.  Super exciting, super scary.  So I began picking the low hanging fruit, if you will.  Doing some things that were manageable for me like: spending more time reading my Bible, memorizing Scripture, reading books to address lingering questions and doubts I had floating around, keeping my prayer journal, and joining a Bible study.

Then, God began softening my heart to some things that used to be much scarier for me: how to allocate my finances, talking about my faith, and the ways I use my time and other resources.  God knows just what He's doing.  He keeps dropping fruit for me to grab.  Sometimes I have to stretch a bit to reach it and that's not always comfortable, but He is constantly providing new ways for me to serve Him and serve His children.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Small Miracles

I read a cute article in HomeLife magazine, in which a mom explains to her kid they can't buy Miracle Whip unless it's on sale (something my kids can totally relate to).  They pray about it and... the store has a huge sale on what else?  Miracle Whip!

This reminded me of a similar predicament we had earlier this year.  Molly is allowed to get hot lunch every other Friday, but Lucky Tray Day was coming up.  That is a Big Deal if you're Molly Mitchell.  She asked if she might swap a Friday hot lunch for Lucky Tray Day on Wednesday.  What could I do?  I agreed, of course.  If you are not familiar with the (almost a) holiday that is Lucky Tray Day, a sticker is placed under a couple select lunch trays and if yours has a sticker, you win!

The night before the big day I asked Molly what she wanted to pray about (she normally has really legitimate and considerate prayer requests, honest!)  Of course she wanted to pray that she would get the lucky tray.  This was painful for me, because come on.  People are starving ("Lord, we want to lift up to you the children who do not have any trays, lucky or not!") and here we are praying for a win.  But, I've always told my girls they can pray about anything, so have mercy, we prayed for a lucky tray. 

Don't think she did not win.

I really did not see this one coming.  She was the only one in her class with a lucky tray.  She could pick an ice cream cone or a hat as her prize.  Here she is in her hat (that she wore nearly every polar vortex-y day, by the way!)

The truth is, I've prayed for some pretty minuscule stuff myself.  But minuscule prayers don't feel that way at the time, right?  It's just another awesome thing about our God.  If something is important to us, it's important to Him.  I love that God concerns Himself with the details of our lives.  Lucky trays and all.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Thoughts and Words

I am not superstitious.  But when I woke up to a snowstorm today, I cut down the snowflake ornaments I still had hanging from the light fixture above my dining room table.  Cut them with a mighty snip.  On my way to take my daughter to school there were several cars off the road and I felt my own giant vehicle slip under me more than once, causing me to think lots of less-than-holy words. 

Last week, when I locked my keys in my car (or so I thought, I actually left them in the ice arena, on the desk, but didn't realize that until we waited outside for 45 minutes for my husband to bring the extra set from home) I said a lot of not nice words right out loud.  Lots of words, lots of times.

Here is my point: sometimes I say bad things and sometimes I think bad things.

Have I mentioned the verse I have by the door that the girls and I recite every time we leave the house?  It's Psalm 19:14. "May my spoken words and unspoken thoughts be pleasing even to you, O Lord, my Rock and Redeemer."  Yeah.  I know.  But I'm trying!  I swear.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Basketball and Derbies and Justice, Oh My!

Happy Monday!  What an exciting weekend!  Exciting enough to merit a countdown!  Here are my top three thrilling(ish) moments of the weekend.

1. Michigan State is not disappointing!  Our team is a favorite to win this NCAA thing and they are well on their way!  Go green, go white!  Goooo cute apparel that I love to sport!

2. We went to our first roller derby!  It was fun and funny!  Why don't all athletes use punny names?  Adrien Payne In Your Neck.  Sydney Cross-Checkby.  Jerry Rice You to the End-Zone.  Seriously.  We fans should insist on this.  Anyway, the derby was fun, but I'm sticking to basketball these days because I understand the scoring in that game.

3. Our church hosted a guest speaker from IJM (International Justice Mission), and I had the honor of going to lunch with him afterward.  As I've mentioned, our church formed a Justice Team after a different speaker came last year (also from IJM).  After hearing him, we simply could not continue as though we hadn't heard the stories and the statistics.  We've been meeting for a year now, and are as determined as ever.  This year Seth Wispelwey came to speak- he works in IJM's Government Relations and Advocacy department.  The timing was perfect- Seth was able to provide us with some information about how we may want to organize our team, how to utilize our congregation's strengths, ways to support IJM, and how to be active locally.  He provided tons of resources, and all the templates a justice team could ever want.  Having the chance to pick Seth's brain was the most exciting part of my weekend.

If you are interested in justice- internationally or domestically, check out the resources available on IJM's website.  Another great organization that is fighting human trafficking is Polaris Project.  And if you suspect a human trafficking case (or would like to find out about volunteer opportunities) call this number: 1-888-373-7888.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Book Good Enough to Eat

I don't know about your household, but over here, we are very motivated by food.  So you can imagine my delight when my girls received this book as a gift:

It's adorable.  Rosenthal gives sugar sweet lessons on good character using what else?  Cookies!  It inspired my girls to ask questions every parent wants to hear.  Like, "What does 'cooperate' mean?" and "How can we be respectful?" and "Can we make cookies?" (Um, always!  With extra chips, my girls.)  Happily, my kids are still too young for any "Bite me" jokes.  Sadly, they didn't get it when I told them they were a little kooky.  (Kooky.  Cookie.  Get it?)