Saturday, August 13, 2011

Meeting Our Needs One Member at a Time

This week has been a tough one. Starting school, driving the kids to and fro (and driving a bunch of kids who aren't my biological kids, but are still MY kids, to and fro), sporting events, practices, hair cuts, new lunchboxes and's always something.

Here are some God Sightings from my week:

We aren't exactly rolling in money. I know, I know, it's shocking, but The Husband is in full-time ministry, and while the church is INCREDIBLY generous, it's still only one salary and seven people (you can do the math). Mother's income is eaten immediately by her needs (usually with some thrown in from our pot). I work to pay for the kids' tuition and insurance, so I end up flush (not complaining--my job is a blessing from the Lord and an answer to a zillion prayers). Anyway, this week The Boys needed cleats for football and a little gas money. I wasn't sure how I was going to pay for that exactly, but just went ahead and did it anyway, trusting that God always meets my need--past, present, and future. On Thursday afternoon I handed them every dime I had and said a little prayer.

The Fashionista Going Hard

Seemingly Unrelated Topic: Thursday night I had no idea how I was going to get home, feed the two littlest shorties, and get to the volleyball game in Marion on time. No idea. On paper it was completely impossible. I left the school at 3:00, the game was at 4:00, we live 1 1/2 hours from the game site, and I still had to get home and change and feed the kids. I rushed home, threw clothes on, and came back through wondering how I was going to pay for dinner since I gave away our fun money to Cleats and Gas only to find a Boston butt and grilled hamburgers (still smoking hot from the grill) from a church member on my counter. Praise God!
Naynuh waiting for the play.

We hauled out to the game like we were tied to a rocket only to find out that the games were a little delayed in starting, which might have been irritating to some of you, but it was really answered prayer for me. (Sorry about that, everyone.) They didn't have a ticket fee because it was only a practice game (Praise God yet again!) So, we didn't miss a single second of E-squared tearing it up on the court. If not for that man who brought the food or the delay in starting time or the free entrance, we would have been in a jam. God used all of those circumstances to meet my needs. Amazing!
Will you PLEASE stop taking my photo, Mother?
I know that you think I've lost my train of thought here, but just hold on, I'm getting to the point: We run about three or four loads of laundry every single day. Between sports, PE, school clothes, church clothes, baths, etc., it's just a minimum. There is no such thing as "laundry day" around here. Every day is laundry day. We have a hand-me-down washer and dryer set. A local family was moving into a new home and wanted new appliances and offered us their old ones. Since the ones we were using at the time were 17-years-old and had been repaired multiple times, we eagerly accepted. Well, now that set is 15-years-old and has starting having some issues. The dryer has to run two, full 60-minute cycles to dry the clothing. So, laundry takes literally all day with everyone checking and moving the clothing around.
I know this LOOKS like a washer and dryer,
but really it's the provision of God Almighty!

Friday, after this incredibly tiring and financially draining week, I came into the house to see a brand new, energy efficient, high-capacity washer and dryer already installed in my cleaned-up laundry room. I almost burst into tears. If I had one wish, one need in my house, it would have been a new washer and dryer. I can't tell you what that moment was like exactly. To know that my Heavenly Father used the feet and hands and checking account of faithful servants to provide directly for MY needs and the need of my family...well, it's just a little overwhelming. Praise God and His Servants!

The Point: It occurred to me that I have in the past been That Person to other people. And now I'm asking you...have you ever been That Person for someone else? If not, you ought to try it sometime. I can tell you from the giving end and from the receiving end that both are rewarding beyond anything you can possibly imagine. And God tells us to give it a go--if we tithe and give and pray and listen, He will pour out a blessing on us that we can't contain. He'll meet our needs and meet the needs of others through our faithfulness. Try Him, and see if it is true. I dare you.

Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Please, Feel Free to See Right Through Me

See? They are excited about it too.
I love school. I have always loved school. I love the new books, notebooks, fresh pencils. I love office supplies and the smell of the library. I can't wait for a new organizer and highlighters and all of the little gizmos that go along with the first day. I know I'm a geek. I get it. (But I'm a geek with really quality school supplies.) God blessed me in a mighty way when He gave me the opportunity to teach high school English seventh grade through twelfth grade. (A complete lesson planning nightmare, but incredibly rewarding job experience.) I get to love school all over again.

Part of the Youth Group from Church
I've been enjoying these "you might have lived in..." or "you might have attended such and such school" on Facebook lately. I noticed that the same brand of stupid was around twenty-some-odd years ago when I attended high school as exists now. Some common activities that never go out of style include: setting things on fire, going fast (in whatever is handy be it a golf cart, car, shopping cart, etc.), sneaking around (usually just because you want to get away with something and not because it's altogether that awful), driving issues, and teachers who were/are insane.
DNow Weekend
There are people who are wired to work with little kids. I am not this person. My patience threshold is too low, and my tolerance for snot is almost non-existent. (I admire people in children's ministries more than I can say.) I, however, do seem to have a strong affinity for youth, teens, and young people in general. They crack me up. They inspire me. They tolerate me reasonably well (as much as they can any adult). Probably because I get the joke. I genuinely LIKE them, being around them, talking to them, listening to them, and participating in their lives. 
Working with students on the school play
The key to working effectively with youth is simple: transparency.

They can spot a phony from a hundred paces at sunset. They can sense fear and lying and loathing. They understand that most adults want something from them, and as a result they are wary, guarding their secrets carefully lest the information be used against them. And can you blame them? How many of us have done something incredibly stupid or reckless simply because we were young? Can I get an Amen? 

Junior High at School
Getting past that youth barrier isn't about them letting down their guard, it's about teachers and adults letting our guard down. There has been a tremendous amount of press about Facebook and whether friending between parents/teens or teachers/students is appropriate. For me it's an easy answer--absolutely yes, because I hope I am living my life in such a way that it's never an embarrassment to me, my family, my church, or my testimony. A really good general rule for Christians is if I don't want anyone to see me doing it, I probably shouldn't be doing it in the first place.

As Christians, if we are going to reach people with the saving power and message of Jesus Christ, we have to be a people of complete transparency. We have to walk the walk. We have to be the same all of the time. We have to live a life that is an example, not have things we need to "hide" or "private". If you are going places and doing things that you need to block from certain folks, I question the wisdom in doing them.

Psalm 106:39 They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves.
Youth on Mission Trip
Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.

So, if you're a Christian who is going to work with youth, I highly advise you to get your personal life in order first. (That's the Scriptural intent behind getting that plank out of your own eye before launching a massive splinter search in other people's lives). Make sure that your life is a worthy example. Live the same way publicly that you do privately. Be honest. Give them a break. Keep their secrets. Be truthful. Accept stupid and sometimes reckless behavior as normal (I'm very sorry Mr. McBay (High School) and Mr. Walljasper (Jr. High) for all of the grief that we gave you in school discipline, but I don't regret a second of the fun).

I can't wait to see what God has in store for our high school, junior high, and youth group this year, and I am so thankful that He lets me be a very small part of His plan!

My precious high school students and cast of MidSummer Night's Dream
Titus 2:7-8 "In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us."