Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Stepping Out

The general rule of thumb at our church is "You spot it, you got it". If you happen to notice that one of the light bulbs in the bathroom is burnt out and you mention it to anyone on staff, they will happily tell you where you can find the supply closet. If you think it would be nice to have pretty mums planted in the front garden, you can count on spending some time in those flower beds. You spot it, you got it. You would think that this philosophy would discourage communication, and it may impede it to some degree, but I am continually surprised at how successful it is. We are encouraged to do away with the thought that we are consumers of "church" and that the church we attend exists to serve us. Instead, we are challenged to serve, just as Jesus did.

"Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. --Matthew 20: 26-28"

So, knowing this, I admit that when I felt like I could really benefit from a women's bible study, I didn't say a word to anyone! I knew the church philosophy and agreed with it. In fact, I was convicted during my prayer time repeatedly over this. I felt as though God was nudging me, gently at first and then stronger, towards women's ministry. But I resisted. I kept telling myself I wasn't ready or that I didn't know enough or that I didn't have childcare. The list went on and on.

About three months ago, I had a discussion with my friend Liana that really turned the tide. She and her husband Jim host our small group at their house on Tuesday nights. The group has been meeting for three years now and Liana was sharing with me that Jim was getting burnt out. Apparently, he had mentioned to her that he was considering having everyone in the group rotate teaching. Now, before this, Liana and I had discussed this exact thing and I had told her emphatically that I would not do that because it was too far out of my comfort zone. So, knowing how I felt, Liana told Jim that she didn't think everyone would be willing to participate. Jim's response then was that he needed to find a co-facilitator and that the best person in our group would be me. Of course, Liana told him she didn't think I would want to and that was that. Except that Liana shared that discussion with me. And you know what? For the first time, I considered it. What a difference it made to hear that someone thought I was capable.

So when Jim brought this up to the group, and publicly asked for volunteers to co-facilitate, I started to ask a few questions. I was blown away by what happened next. Everyone in the group began to encourage me. There was a chorus of "Oh, that would be great!" and "Oh, you'd be perfect for it". I was stunned. All along I'd been feeling incapable and inadequate and here was an entire group of people that not only believed I was capable, but was actually encouraging me to do it. Wow.

There was another gentleman in our group that came forward that night as well and so the three of us have begun to rotate leading. I lead our group for the first time two weeks ago and it went really well. After that, I knew that all my fears and hesitations about leading a women's group were unfounded and could be conquered. Tonight, after our study, Jim asked me if I would be willing to pursue starting a new group and I said yes.
My yes was to God.
Yes, Lord, I will step onto the path you've set before me.
Yes, I am willing to go where you send me.
Thanks for believing in me.

A thought for tonight: Who in your life could you give encouragement to? Do you see a special skill or ability or gift in someone that you think they are unaware of? Tell them! Who knows where it could lead.

Monday, October 27, 2008


After picking our apples last week, I spent an evening making homemade applesauce. I've never made applesauce before, so it was a totally new experience for me. It was surprisingly easy and the applesauce is delicious! I made twelve jars and one is already gone! I think I'll head back up to the orchard to pick up some more apples. I don't think eleven jars will get us through the year, and I love the idea of not having to buy applesauce. It's so great to serve food to my family that I know is healthy and without any preservatives!

We started with these:

Then I peeled, cored, and quartered them and tossed them in the pot with some yummy ingredients:

Then filled jars to freeze:

The delicious result:

Next up? Using the Granny Smith apples we picked to pre-make pie filling for the holidays. Oh, and I've got a few more pie pumpkins to bake up and make puree out of. I'll freeze the puree and use it for soups, pies, and breads this fall and winter. I've already got 12 cups of frozen pumpkin puree. Yay!

Is anyone else canning/freezing/preserving this season? I'd love some more ideas!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Starting Over Tomorrow

Ephesians 6:13 "Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand."

I needed that armor today. Verse 16 mentions the flaming arrows that the evil one will shoot at us. Greg and I have been dodging those all week! The arrows have come in all sizes, from little stings of inconvenience to painful wounds of worry. Have y'all ever been through that? I know you have. God gave us this passage of scripture because we need it!

Today both Greg and I felt a weakening in our defenses. After being under attack all week, mutiny reared its ugly head and suddenly we were battling each other, rather than standing together against our common enemy. How did that happen? Well, I was naked. I didn't have my armor on. I've overslept the last two days and hadn't armed myself with the sword of God's word. I'd lowered my shield of faith, wavering and allowing myself to worry. God knows our needs and will provide for them. I knew that. How many times have I reminded others of that when they were worried? More times than I could count. Yikes. I've got a log in my eye there...

Blah. This isn't my normal weakness. I've got lots of them, but not trusting God to provide isn't normally one of them. I thought I was "firm" on that. Looks like my self-confidence there got me in trouble. Anytime I think "Oh, I've got that one" I become vulnerable to attack. It's not about me and what I can do or what I think I've got covered. It's all about God and how powerful He is.

Thankfully, all is well that ends well. Greg and I are back on the same team and I've got a God who will forgive my pride and carelessness. The best part about being a Christian this side of heaven? For me, it's knowing that I'm washed clean every time I repent of sin. Thank you, God!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Autumn is Here!

It's here! It's here! Autumn is my favorite season of the year and I am so thrilled that it is finally here! The temperatures have dropped and I have begun to pull out my cozy sweaters, thick socks, and throw blankets. We've spent two afternoons at one of the local apple orchards here and have come home with thirty-five pounds of apples. Some of those apples are simmering away on my stove as I type this, well on their way to becoming my first batch of applesauce. The trees in our neighborhood are just beginning to turn and I get excited every morning as I take my first peek outside. Since this is our first autumn in our new house (and because I am not a gardener- YET!) I don't know what our trees will look like in a couple weeks. It's a play that is slowly unfolding each day and I'm the captivated audience.

This morning I had a wonderful time at the park with my girlfriends and their children. While the kids ran and played, we were able to sneak in some much-needed adult conversation. After a picnic lunch, we took a basketball over to the basketball courts and played HORSE. The sun was out, the sky was blue and without a single cloud, and the trees all around the court were turning golden. As I stood there, breathless from chasing the ball and from laughing with my friends, I took a mental picture of that moment, placed it in my heart, and praised God. I praised Him for these budding friendships, for the beautiful children running all around us, the gorgeous day, and the ability to see and enjoy it all.

In this modern age of internet and cell phones, it is so easy to stay in touch with people that are far away. I love that I still feel connected to my best friend even though she lives six hours away. But it is really easy to become isolated. Making new friendships here has really been a blessing to me. I'm getting out of the house more, relating to other moms, and through these relationships, growing closer to Christ. We hold each other accountable. We encourage each other. We lift one another up. Sometimes we cry. We laugh. We share our struggles and temptations and weaknesses and fears. We are held together by the faith that we share.