A woman's walk through marriage, parenthood, servanthood and the family of God.
Thursday, May 29, 2003
I had a great time today. Took a bus load of 2nd graders to a local living history museum and went along on everything with them. It was really interesting and fun to see things through the kids eyes. I had a nice time chatting with some of the docents as well.
Well, gotta run. I'm leading tonight's 'Purpose Driven Life' session. Things must be looking up.
posted by Stacy at 5:32 PM
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Waffle, waffle, waffle. No, I'm not obsessing about breakfast foods. I'm waivering on what to do about my place in youth ministry. I've been feeling like it's time to step out of it and move on quite a bit lately, but then today I had a meeting with the associate pastor and I'm excited! We've made some good, solid plans to regenerate life into the youth group and I can't imagine not being a part of it. I don't know what's me and what's God at the moment. Given my state of mind lately it isn't all that surprising that he is staying silent. I'm sure there is a lesson to be found here somewhere.
posted by Stacy at 12:51 PM
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
Another interesting thought from "The Purpose Driven Life" reguarding temptation:
We can't defeat temptation by thinking about how we're going to beat it. All thinking about it does is focus our attention on the temptation more. We have to 'change brain channels' if you will. We have to divert our thinking away in another direction.....that's why the Bible tells us to focus on what is good, pure and holy.
Think about it this way. Most diets fail. Why? Because no matter what the program, they tend to have one thing in common and that is making the dieter focus constantly on food. If you've ever dieted, you know it's true. You constantly think about how many calories, how much can you eat, when can you eat, etc. It is the same with any temptation. To defeat it, we must replace it in our thoughts so it loses its power over us.
posted by Stacy at 5:59 PM
Sunday, May 25, 2003
The youth rally was good. The turnout was kinda low, but not too bad for a first time. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.
I spent a lot of time talking with Pastor Chris Murphy. It was the first time I'd met him. Good guy. Great pastor! He showed me the pictures documenting his new church being built. Wow. It's going to be a 1.7 million dollar facility and because of donated money and labor they will only have $250, 000 of debt. Pretty amazing in itself, but here's the kicker. They are doing this with a congregation that averages about 85 on Sunday mornings.......and at least half of that number is children and teens!!! What a miracle. Then there is dear old Latrobe, which averages about 165 on Sunday mornings and we can't even make operating costs. We are running about $500 short every week. If we keep it up, by fall we may have to consider letting Pastor Matt go. I don't know how we will be able to afford him. Doesn't help that insurance costs are going up another 28%. It isn't that I begrudge the pastors a decent living, but we have so much tied up in them....salary, health benefits, housing, schooling, etc. that there is literally no money left for ministry. We are doing some fundraising, but not enough to be doing what we should be doing to achieve our purpose of being a "soul-winning station." There has to be a point where we say enough is enough....we just can't afford to give you any more.
We had a speaker that I had never heard before. I agreed to him because I do know him a little and what he stands for (it was Jeromy Rowe of WPP). Still, having never heard him, I was a little nervous. No need for that. He blew those kids and most of us adults away with his testimony and talk about his time in Liberia. He tied it all together with the theme of getting "real" with God.....and thrilling to me because kids (and adults) just don't hear this enough.....he went into a lot of detail about the kinds of spiritual things he witnessed. He didn't just say their were witch doctors. He went into the power and control they have through Satan. He described the behavior of people controled by demons. Spiritual warfare took on a new meaning for the kids. It was awesome.....it was the same message I have been trying to present whenever I speak about the Southwest, right down to pointing out to them that Satan is more subtle here. We don't see that kind of in-your-face, big guns spiritual control because Satan doesn't have to use it on us. We are too "educated and sophisticated" to believe in that hocus-pocus. No, he is much more devious with us.....one more meeting we just have to attend, one more concert or play our child is in, longer hours at work, an attractive co-worker that invades our thoughts, financial stresses, peer pressure (even for us adults), movies, music, and it goes on and on. He is controling us through our everyday busyness and activities and we don't even know it. We're at war and we're not aware of it most of the time.
Anyway......God was really talking to me through Jeromy and I was listening. I'd stopped being "real." It's time to pick up my relationship with him and get to know him all over again. It's time to forget all the other crap and just focus on knowing him and loving him.
posted by Stacy at 7:52 AM
Thursday, May 22, 2003
Met with my group studying "The Purpose Driven Life" again tonight. Really enjoyed the fellowship of the women, but I am still struggling with all the rest. I know in my head what is right. I just can't seem to feel it in my heart at the moment. Man, I'm tired.
I have to be at our region's church camp tomorrow evening for an overnight youth rally. I'm glad there is a group of student leaders in place that are actually taking ownership and doing things on their own with just a bit of guidance from me and one other advisor. I wouldn't be able to pull it together myself right now.
Well, got to go. My head is swimming with tonight's lesson and I need to think about it and study some of the scripture. I'm hoping that at some point, something will click with my heart.
posted by Stacy at 9:15 PM
Sunday, May 18, 2003
Moan......the body is feeling its age today (or maybe a few years more than its age). Yesterday was a work day at the church and the main project was removing all the old river rock and hauling it away in preparation for mulch to be put down and give the place a fresher look. For anyone thinking of doing any landscaping......let me recommend light-weight materials. Those rocks will look good for a while, but someday you will want them gone and someone is going to have to move them. Tim hauled away three dumptruck loads. I'm not sure how much that is.....several thousand pounds, I'd guess. Not the kind of work day I'd normally participate in, but the youth were there because the council voted to give them $200 for helping. We had a nice crowd, about half the youth and quite a few adults. Even the neighbor helped out in return for some of the rocks. He also bought us lunch. All in all it was a really good day and I needed to see something like that happen in connection with the church. Megan and I worked outside all afternoon today planting flowers, pulling weeds and such. Sooooo.....I repeat.....MOAN!!!! This old body has stood all it can stand. I need to go back to work tomorrow so I can rest.
posted by Stacy at 5:38 PM
Tuesday, May 13, 2003
I'm not sure I've ever made my faith my own. The more I think about it, the more I'm feeling that the faith I've held and practiced has been what I've been told it should be....not what it really is for me. And what is it for me??? I have no idea at this point. I guess that's why I'm so confused. Right now I'm doing a lot of spiritual housecleaning in order to prepare for some major 'remodeling.' I have to start over and find what God created me to be and how to be that person and how to express that in my relationship with him.
posted by Stacy at 11:51 AM
Sunday, May 11, 2003
We didn't go to church today. It seemed very important to have some time away by ourselves. Aside from the kids making me breakfast in bed, Tim and I have been concentrating on trying to sort out what we are feeling and where we are going. Not a lot of progress. I did some reading in 'The Purpose Driven Life' and we've talked a lot and prayed....and I've shed a few tears. I'm pretty much coming to terms with the fact that it is time to resign as youth director. The question I haven't answered yet is whether I should do it now or hang on till the end of summer. What we haven't decided is what to do about our relationship with the church in general. Tim feels useless as an elder because the pastor and other elder (we only have 2 at the moment) call all the shots, make all the decisions and do not include him in any of the eldership duties. He is never notified when someone is sick or passes away. He is never asked to go along on visits. Yet when he tells the pastor how he feels it is brushed aside. When he says he feels he should resign he is talked into staying. My personal feeling is that the pastor doesn't want to have to address to the congregation why an elder would opt to quit. It would be so nice to have a pastor we could talk to about serious spiritual matters, but that isn't the case. I don't feel comfortable discussing anything more serious than the weather with the man. Never have.....maybe because for the first three years he was here he barely acknowledged our existance? Maybe because when you talk to him you can tell he isn't paying attention and is basically waiting for you to be done so he can say what is next on his mind (sometimes he doesn't wait till you're done)? Maybe because he has hurt my family time and time again? Maybe because no matter what the concern, there is no problem in the church or leadership.....all problems lie in our poor relationships with God.
Tim wants me to talk to a woman in the church. There is only one to consider and I don't know if I can even do that.
Lord, if you are testing my faith I feel like I am failing the test miserably. Help.
posted by Stacy at 11:21 AM
What about when God seems distant?
Rick Warren says that "The deepest level of worship is praising God in spite of pain, thanking God during a trial, trusting him when tempted, surrendering while suffering, and loving him when he seems distant."
*In any relationship there are times of closeness and times of distance. Our relationship with God is no different. There will be times when to mature our friendship with him, God will test it with periods of seeming separation-times when it feels as if he has abandoned or forgotten us.
*God promised that he would never leave nor forsake us. He did not promise that we would always feel his presence.
Does he withdraw his presence because of sin in our lives? Sometimes, but often it is a test of faith. Will you continue to love, trust, obey and worship God even when you have no sense of his presence or visible evidence of his work in your life?
*The most common mistake we make in worship is looking for an 'experience' rather than seeking God. We look for a feeling, and if it happens, we conclude that we have worshipped. Wrong! In fact, God often removes our feelings so we don't depend on them. Seeking a feeling, even the feeling of closeness with Christ, is not worship.
*As a baby Christian, God gives us a lot of confirming emotions and often answers the most immature, self-centered prayers-so we will know he exists. But as we grow in faith, he will wean us of these dependencies.
So, how do we praise God when we don't understand what is happening in our lives, when God is silent?
*By pouring out our hearts to God and unloading every emotion that we are feeling. Admitting hopelessness can be a statement of faith.
*By focusing on who God is-his unchanging nature.
*By trusting God to keep his promises.
*Remember what he has already done. If God never did anything else for us he would still deserve our continual praise for the rest of our lives because of what Jesus did for us on the cross.
When we feel abandoned by God yet continue to trust him in spite of our feelings, we worship him in the deepest way.
posted by Stacy at 8:34 AM
Chapter 13 of 'The Purpose Driven Life' looks at what makes up worship that is pleasing to God.
*Worship is your spirit responding to God's Spirit.
*Being emotionally moved by music is not to be mistaken for being moved by the Spirit.
And in the debate over what type of service, music, worship, praise, etc. is best (this is a really liberating thought):
*The best style of worship is the one that most authentically represents your love for God, based on the background and personality God gave you.
Gary Thomas identifies nine ways people draw near to God in his book 'Sacred Pathways':
Naturalists-are inspired to love God out-of-doors, in natural settings.
Sensates-love God with their senses and appreciate beautiful worship services that involve all the senses.
Traditionalists-draw closer to God through rituals, liturgies, symbols and unchanging structures.
Ascetics-prefer to love God in solitude and simplicity.
Activists-love God through confronting evil, battling injustice, and working to make the world a better place.
Caregivers-love God by loving others and meeting their needs.
Enthusiasts-love God through celebration.
Contemplatives-love God through adoration.
Intellectuals-love God by studying with their minds.
*There is no one-size-fits-all approach to worship and friendship with God. One thing is certain: You don't bring glory to God by trying to be someone he never intended you to be. God wants you to be yourself.
Why then, do we spend so much time talking in the church about how God created each of us to be unique then try to confine everyone to the same style of worship and expect them to connect with God? Why are we so bogged down in the 'how' instead of just rejoicing in the 'doing'?
Worship often takes effort and energy as it is. Sometimes it is a sheer act of will.....a willing sacrifice. We have to battle our own selfish nature. Why do we have to battle other believers as well?
posted by Stacy at 8:14 AM
Saturday, May 10, 2003
Lots of rain today. Good for the water table. Not so good for planting the garden. We've got onions, lettuce, spinach and potatoes in, but as usual the month of May is proving to be extremely wet. Unless we can catch a break it will probably end up being the end of the month before we can get more planted. Not so good for getting the grass mowed, either. A couple of more days and we will be able to make hay out of the front lawn.
The Rhodies are getting pretty big. We won't be able to keep them in the old rabbit cage much longer. Unfortunately, the rain hasn't slowed down work for Tim. He has been busier than ever and getting home too late to work on the coop. When he does have the odd hour free to begin working on it the rain starts. Matt had to water them today. A fate worse than death. For some reason he can't stand the chickens and wants nothing to do with them.
Still plugging away at 'The Purpose Driven Life' and learning some great things that I will share more about later when I am not so tired. Funny thing......I am finally beginning to draw closer to God again and my dissatisfaction with the church is growing. It is my "home," but I'm far from happy. I'm coming to a point where I think I may have to leave to feel good about church and yet thinking about leaving still causes me a lot of anxiety, but on the other hand, I can see that Tim and I are slowly withdrawing from a lot of stuff. Where exactly that is leading, I don't know yet. But we are doing the "unthinkable" tomorrow........we have decided that we are not going to get up and go to church. We are going to sleep in, relax and enjoy the family (Mom and John came home today) and Mothers' Day.
posted by Stacy at 10:31 PM
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Question: If you could live forever, would you and why? Answer: "I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever," --Miss Alabama in the 1994 Miss USA contest.
"Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that, but not with all those flies and death and stuff." --Mariah Carey
"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life," --Brooke Shields, during an interview to become Spokesperson for federal anti-smoking campaign.
"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body," --Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward.
"Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country," --Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, DC.
"I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president." --Hillary Clinton commenting on the release of subpoenaed documents.
"That lowdown scoundrel deserves to be kicked to death by a jackass, and I'm just the one to do it," --A congressional candidate in Texas.
"Half this game is ninety percent mental." --Philadelphia Phillies manager, Danny Ozark
"It isn't pollution that's harming the environment. It's the impurities in our air and water that are doing it." --Al Gore, Vice President
"I love California. I practically grew up in Phoenix." --Dan Quayle
" It's no exaggeration to say that the undecideds could go one way or another" --George Bush, US President
"We've got to pause and ask ourselves: How much clean air do we need?" --Lee Iacocca
"I was provided with additional input that was radically different from the truth. I assisted in furthering that version." --Colonel Oliver North, from his Iran-Contra testimony.
"The word "genius" isn't applicable in football. A genius is a guy like Norman Einstein." --Joe Theisman, NFL football quarterback & sports analyst.
"We don't necessarily discriminate. We simply exc lude certain types of people." --Colonel Gerald Wellman, ROTC Instructor.
"If we don't succeed, we run the risk of failure." --Bill Clinton, President
"We are ready for an unforeseen event that may or may not occur." --Al Gore, VP
"Traditionally, most of Australia's imports come from overseas." --Keppel Enderbery
"Your food stamps will be stopped effective March 1992 because we received notice that you passed away. May God bless you. You may reapply if there is a change in your circumstances." --Department of Social Services, Greenville, South Carolina
"If somebody has a bad heart, they can plug this jack in at night as they go to bed and it will monitor their heart throughout the night. And the next morning, when they wake up dead, there'll be a record." --Mark S. Fowler, FCC Chairman
posted by Stacy at 9:23 PM
Monday, May 05, 2003
After hearing the sermon yesterday that was based on "The Purpose Driven Life" Tim decided he wants to go through the sessions. YEA!!! It would have been nice if he'd decided sooner and we could have joined the same group, but then again maybe it's better for him to do it on his own. He started with a group at the church last night.
I did some more reading on worship yesterday....very appropriate since the praise team played for the first time. They were loud and joyful and very "rocky" and most of the congregation seemed to enjoy it. There was a lot of handclapping going on.....very progressive for our church on a Sunday morning. Anyway, here are a few exerpts from the chapter on worship:
"Worship has nothing to do with the style or volume or speed of a song. God loves all kinds of music because he invented it all-fast and slow, loud and soft, old and new. You probably don't like it all, but God does! If it is offered to God in spirit and truth, it is an act of worship."
"There is no such thing as 'Christian' music; there are only Christian lyrics. It is the words that make a song sacred, not the tune. There are no spiritual tunes. If I played a song for you without the words, you'd have no way of knowing if it were a 'Christian' song."
"Worship is not for your benefit. We worship for God's benefit."
"Worship is not a part of your life; it is your life."
and my favorite....
"This is what real worship is all about--falling in love with Jesus."
posted by Stacy at 11:08 AM
Saturday, May 03, 2003
Another outreach/fundraiser event at the church today. The car show got rained out last week so this was the make-up date. The flea market and food sale were also continued. I'd say it was a huge success. We had 18 cars entered, which was not so many, but not too bad for a first try at this. A lot of people came to look and to shop and eat and they met some of the church people, one of the pastors, became aware of the church itself and picked up fliers for our coffee house and block party. As an aside......the event raised close to $1500, an unheard of amount for our church and enough to fund the block party which was the goal.
On a personal note, I got my Mothers' Day, birthday, anniversary gift today. We replaced our recently deceased clothes dryer with a new Maytag. It was a bit more than I had expected.....haven't priced dryers recently.....but Tim let me pick the features I wanted and it is sooo nice. Does everything but fold the clothes.
posted by Stacy at 10:54 PM
Friday, May 02, 2003
My morning turned out to be something I didn't expect it to be. My aunt called and told me she was getting rid of somethings and that some of it was things I had given her so she wanted me to come look and see if there was anything I wanted. It turned out that not much of it was from me or anything I wanted but it was good to sit and spend some time with her. Something I do far too little of these days. It was kind of sad, really. Since she had her stroke in November (and I'm guessing some smaller ones since based on how difficult speaking a thought is for her) she seems to be dealing with her own mortality and acting at times like the end is near. She has piles of things all over the house for family to look at and decide if they want it. I don't know why but it always bothers me to have to sort through the accumulations of a lifetime. I accepted more things than I needed or wanted but it made her happy to give them. Among other things I received all of my uncle's walking sticks, some china and crystal pieces, yard flags, humming bird feeders, a nightgown that my mom gave to her before she married my dad (it is one of those old-time ones you see in the old shows and even has the little jacket) and a whole collection of Santa Clauses for Matt....I'm to tell him they are from his Aunt Peg when she is "long dead and gone." Man, I hate to think of losing her.
I've never really thought about what my definition of worship is (shame on me), but "The Purpose Driven Life" study has forced me to do just that. I guess I would have said it was a time of focusing on God and praising him whether it was through song, dance, prayer, or whatever. The main point being that it was something you stopped and deliberately did aside from everything else. Boy, was I off. Since doing yesterday's reading I'm trying to wrap my mind around a new concept that is guaranteed to change my life. And that concept is:
"Worship is far more than praising, singing, and praying to God. Worship is a lifestyle of enjoying God, loving him, and giving ourselves to be used for his purposes. When you use your life for God's glory, everything you do can become an act of worship."