Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Will We Go?

I want to let you know about WEWILLGO, a ministry founded by a couple that I went to church with several years ago. God has given David and Amy Lancaster missionary hearts and He is doing great things through them. While they regularly go to other countries to spread the Good News, they also sold their home in Rankin County and moved their family to downtown Jackson. They hold worship services in their home...along with prayer walks and free "garage sales." They feed many and give out goodie bags to anyone that comes to their door in need...containing a few personal hygiene and food items, a t-shirt and a simple translation of the Bible. They get to know their neighbors and have formed relationships with them...showing God's love in a real way...being the hands and feet of Jesus.

I know the Lancasters and I believe that their love of Jesus is making a difference for the Kingdom. They welcome anyone to come join in on what God is doing in Jackson. Here is a schedule of activities:

They can use donations (contact Amy at alancaster@wewillgo.org for a list of needed items). They can use prayer. And they can use others to come along side them to help reach out to the poor...the hurting...the lonely...the forgotten...you know, the kind of folks Jesus hung out with.

Kindling the Fire

I'm reading The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne. I had heard from a few folks that have read it to be prepared to have my world rocked. This was the case before I had even read 100 pages. An old flame is being kindled in me...one that has been smoldering for a while now...the discontent of just "doing church" the way we do it so well. Most of us live our lives with blinders on...we try not to notice the poor...the suffering...and if we do happen to notice, we think that there must be someone else that will help...it's not our responsibility. We are too vanilla...too complacent...too comfortable. We are afraid to talk about the changes that need to happen...even among ourselves. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."

I will be silent no more.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Date Night

Hubby and I actually scheduled a babysitter and went on a date tonight. Woo-hoo! It's been WAY too long. Why is it that when we become parents, we tend to put our needs on a shelf? We were married six years before our daughter came along. During that time, we enjoyed going out...to concerts, plays, movies. Of course, at the time we took it for granted. Now those special times alone...doing something just for us...are priceless and refreshing. They go a long way toward helping us refocus on each other...not just as dad and mom...but as husband and wife. Everyday life can disconnect us from the ones we love. Nights like tonight are good for reconnecting.

Frugal Tip of the Day

Close your wallet.

I mean...really...how much stuff do we need anyway?

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The March

We saw March of the Penguins today at the free Summer Film Festival....well, at least until the film stopped because of technical difficulties (I guess you get what you pay for, huh?). Anyway, we saw most of it. In my opinion, it is not a children’s movie, even though it is rated G. Most of the kids were bored and fidgeting before the movie had been on 30 minutes. Children today want cartoons and action.

But I thought the movie was amazing! For those of you who have not seen it, it’s a documentary that tells the story of the emperor penguins, their annual journey to the mating place and their struggle of survival in the brutal winter of Antarctica. Morgan Freeman narrates, sharing many facts about the penguins. But the real story, to me anyway, is the fierce determination that these creatures possess to procreate. Once a year they come out of the water and make the 70+ mile trip, walking day and night, to convene with other groups of penguins. Once there, they search for “the one”…the penguin of their dreams. They pair up, mate…and then wait for an egg. The male protects the egg from the cold while the female makes the trip back home to eat. By the time she returns and it’s his turn to make the long trip home, he has gone without food for three or four months. The temps are 80 below zero. Many die on the journey. But they continue to repeat this process year after year after year.

This is radical commitment to having, valuing and protecting children.

Our society could learn a few things from the penguins.

Make It Happen

An online forum group, of which I am a member, posted a Question of the Day:

List Three To Five Goals You Have For the Future

Here is the list that I quickly typed:

1. To be debt free
2. To have a closer walk with the Lord for my family and myself
3. To become a wife that encourages my husband
4. To get my house and life organized
5. To learn to quilt
6. To write a book

Okay…I know there are six…but sometimes it’s hard to stop with five.

After I typed out the list, I never did get around to posting it. I think one reason I didn’t was that it made me uncomfortable to put my goals down in print. As long as they are just floating around in my head, then I am safe…but to put them in print…well, that’s a whole different ball game. That changes them from just hopes or dreams, to real, live goals…and goals require action.

Hmm…when did I become a person who shrinks from goals? At one time, I was very goal-oriented. I knew how to set goals and how to attain them. I knew that once a goal was set, I must create an action plan…broken down into small, manageable tasks…lists and sub-lists…you get the idea. I am an organizer at heart. I never set goals just for the sake of setting a goal…if I had a goal, I would work and work until the goal was met. Maybe that is why I’m reluctant to set goals now…because I have been afraid that I don’t have the time/energy/motivation to get it done.

Anyway, I have publicly posted my goals, so now the next step is to come up with a plan on how I will get to where I want to be…a roadmap, if you will, of how to get there from here. Then I will set about making life choices that line up with my plan, in order to meet my goals. I cannot keep doing what I’m doing now and expect change to occur.

It’s as easy as that. Okay…so maybe it won’t be easy…in fact, I can just about guarantee that it won’t be easy…but I do believe it can be done.

What choices are you making today to work toward your goals? Remember, a goal without a plan is just a dream...and dreams end when you wake up.

Friday, July 13, 2007

My Week at a Glance

Sunday we visited a new church. Of course BK cried when I left her in the preschool, but they said she played and did well after I left...at least until the workers changed shifts and she had to get used to someone new. I had not anticipated this "changing of the guard" and I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with it. However, all week she has been talking about going back to play with the firetruck and telephone at the "new church"...so we have to make a decision whether to go back there or not.

Side note...I'm at a weird place right now when it comes to church attendance. I know that we need to be sitting under teaching of the Word. I know that we need the protection of serving under the authority of a local church. I know that we need the fellowship with other believers. I know that BK needs a church home so she can feel some security. What I don't know is WHERE we should be. I like this here...but don't agree with that. I like that over there...but don't agree with something else. Is it possible to find a place of worship that meets the needs...allows a place of service...and yet lines up with your beliefs as well? I feel guilty for even asking the question. I know that serving the Lord is not a cafeteria plan...picking and choosing what we want and rejecting what we don't. I'm just being honest.

Tuesday we went to story time at the library...and found out that my buddy, the children's librarian, is leaving the library. She is a very special lady and BK really cares for her. It's sad that we won't see her beautiful smile welcoming us every week. She is planning to return to teach in a classroom...and I can't begrudge her that...we certainly need more teachers that love children. I wish you well Kitty and pray God's blessing on wherever your path leads you.

After story time, we went to a playgroup to let BK play for a while. It turns out that there was only one other mother there from the group, but we visited and I enjoyed getting to know her better.

Wednesday night we actually left BK with one of my sisters for a few hours. Mike and I do not have "date nights" nearly often enough. In fact, I can't remember the last time we left her with someone. We saw Shane and Shane in concert at Pinelake. The church was full and Spirit was sweet...it was a refreshing time. I had never seen this group...they are truly anointed for worship. It was a good night.

Thursday I spent most of the day in the bed with a stomach bug. Later in the afternoon, I took my daughter-in-law to the dentist to have a wisdom tooth cut out. We didn't leave there until 5:00, then rushed (I'm smirking as I type that word...there is NO rushing in Jackson during rush hour...especially after a hard rain) to pick up Mike with two pirate costumes in tow, on to pick up the two oldest grandson and then flew to the library for the last meeting of the Summer Reading Program...a costume party.

Today we picked up the 8, 6, and 1 year old grandsons to spend a few hours with us so their mom could rest and recuperate. We did Pizza Hut for lunch. They all had a ball in the playroom there. Afterwards we came back here and Mike took the two oldest and BK out to play in the sprinkler, while I put the little one down for a nap. I stopped by to get them all milkshakes and McD's toys before taking them home later. They were very happy and...just for today...I'm the best Gran D in the world.

Tomorrow is my baby boy's 29th birthday. OMG...how in the world did that happen? You guessed it...I must have had him when I was 10!! I'm having some family over for a birthday dinner. I look at him sometimes and it takes my breath away at the man he has become. It surprises me over and over as I realize that he is actually a grown up now. He works hard to provide for his family. He loves his four boys and he's such a good daddy to them. I am so very proud of him.

So...that will wrap up this week. Can't wait to see what next week holds for us...

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Correcting Perceptions

I admit that I still struggle with self-consciousness. I think it stems from being raised in a "what will people think?" environment, which created an exaggerated sense that everyone is looking at me...and judging. I do not like to be in the spotlight. I cringe when I have to walk into a room full of people. Speaking in front of a group brings on a cold sweat. What is it that is so terrifying that propels me to spend so much time worrying about what people will think?

Rejection...scorn...amusement at my expense...take your pick...it's all rolled into the fear that somehow I will be found lacking. Many people struggle from this fear, in differing degrees. The perception that we must somehow measure up to the standard of "those people" can be limiting and potentially self-destructive.

What is needed is a good dose of reality. There have been studies done about this phenomenon and the conclusions have shown overwhelmingly that we are not nearly as noticeable as we think we are. Couple that with the fact that many of the very people that we are terrified of are dealing with this same problem themselves.

Imagine a dinner party where a guest spends the entire evening worrying and wondering about what the others are thinking about her. Instead of being able to relax and enjoy the company, her thoughts constantly go to her hairstyle...her clothes...how much food she puts on her plate and fork...what she just said...and what she will say next...and what will "they" say about her after she is gone. Now multiply that times another guest...and another...and another...and soon it's pretty clear why we have reached the point that we are probably the most unconnected society in the world. In the July edition of O, The Oprah Magazine, there is an article entitled "The Cure for Self-Consciousness," written by Martha Beck. Here is an excerpt from the article:

"Once, I had an intense, emotional cell phone discussion with a friend while riding in a taxi. At a certain point I fell into a strangled silence. 'What's wrong with you?' my friend asked. 'Why aren't you talking?' Covering up my mouth with one hand, I whispered, 'The driver can hear me.' At this point, my friend said something so lucid, so mind expanding, so simultaneously Socratic and Zenlike, that I memorized it on the spot. I've gained comfort by repeating it to myself in many other situations. I encourage you, too, to memorize this question and use it when you find yourself shrinking back from an imaginary spotlight. My friend said - and I quote: 'So?'

When I read this I laughed out loud. So simple...yet so freeing.

I open my heart when I write and share myself in a way that sometimes makes me feel vulnerable. I realize that I will never know all of those who read my words. There might be those who do not understand...or agree...or laugh at the outrageousness of it all.


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Let Freedom Ring

Today was a wonderful day. Mike and I took BK to the Ag Museum this morning for a 4th of July celebration. We rode the carousel (twice) and the train. She had balloons painted on her hand. She ate ice cream from a little flat wooden spoon, while dancing with glee to the bluegrass banjo music. Later this afternoon we went to my sister's home for some good food and great company. BK and Mike were able to swim for a while before the rain came.

While in the car, we were listening to a local radio show. The speaker encouraged us to never take our country's freedom for granted. I began to think about freedom...and why it is that we are tempted to take it for granted. One reason is probably because the vast majority of us who were born in the United States have never known anything other than freedom. We are so ready to embrace that freedom...it has just become a way of life. We don't question why. We don't wonder if we are worthy. We just accept it for what it is and live our lives accordingly.

Soon it became apparent to me the parallels and contrasts between our country's freedom and our spiritual freedom. Both required a sacrifice of life. Many soldiers have died and many more will follow...there will never be an end to the strife in this world until it's all over. But our spiritual freedom required the life of only one...the Spotless Lamb...our Redeemer. Jesus died so we could live in freedom. So why is it so hard for us to accept that truth? We question...we doubt...we wonder if we are deserving.

If our beliefs lead to our feelings, and our feelings lead to our actions, then turn it around and look at it from the other direction: Our actions result from our feelings, and our feelings result from our beliefs. The conclusion is that if we, as Christians, are not acting like we are free, then we don't really believe that we are.

What will it take to convince us?

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Reading With Friends

I'm subscribed to daily emails from an online book club. Suzanne Beecher heads up the book club and she writes a daily "Dear Reader" prelude to the excerpt of the particular book we are previewing. Suzanne's words make me laugh...and they have made me cry...and they almost always touch my heart. This was her post today:

"I was feeling pretty sad and disappointed a few weeks ago and when I mentioned it to a friend she matter-of-factly said, "Okay, and why is that a problem?" Her rationale was that most people tend to walk around thinking they should feel happy and cheerful every day, and if they aren't, they see it as a failure. But it's not. Because that's just the way life is--up and down, happy and sad. My friend sold me on her theory and I decided to stop resisting and give myself permission to feel sad and disappointed. And do you know what? Almost immediately it took some of the pressure off, because I didn't need to "fix" the way that I felt anymore. I could just "feel" whatever came my way. My usual routine--when I'm not feeling great--is to work hard at pretending I'm happy. This method definitely hasn't proved to be successful in the past. Because if I turn away from what I'm feeling, I'm just postponing a hurt that I'll end up having to deal with later. And the tricky part about later, is that my sad and disappointed feelings then show up as anger. I turn into one angry, irritated Suzanne, and by then I can't explain why. It's a messy job--working through crummy feelings, walking through the mud and muck--but it's a necessary journey. Having a lousy day? Hey, grab your boots, and let's walk together. I'll be happy to show you the way. Thanks for reading with me. It's so good to read with friends."
Suzanne Beecher
Blog: http://dearreader.typepad.com/