Sunday, May 31, 2015

Seeds Family Worship

It has been my experience that the best way to memorize Scripture is through song.  There are some Scripture songs that I learned 15 years ago in college that are still in my memory!  ( was really 15 years ago??) While at Exponential, I heard about Seeds Family Worship.  This ministry empowers parents to plant seeds of Scripture in their children's memory through music.

Seeds Family Worship: Their mission
  • To help families experience God's Word through music
  • To teach parents to lead family worship in their homes
  • To provide awesome resources for family discipleship
The song lyrics come word-for-word from Scripture.  You can visit their website, and listen to full-length versions of all their songs here.  There are currently 9 different albums!  I have only pre-viewed a handful of what is available, but so far I've found there to be a good variety of musical styles and lots of catchy rhythms. 

I wish I would have come across this music when my children were younger.  I think my 8 year old would still enjoy it.  But my pre-teen rap lover?  Probably not.  Even though he wouldn't choose this music for himself, he doesn't always get to decide what we listen to in the car.  I can still plant those seeds in his brain against his will if he doesn't have anyplace else to go! 

Songs can be downloaded individually through iTunes, or you can order CD's through their website.  One neat thing about ordering a CD for $12.97 is that the ministry will send you for yourself, and one to give away. 

Here is one song that I just listened to today that has already planted itself in my brain.  It really works!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Undone by Michele Cushatt

Making peace with an unexpected life.  Isn't that something we all need to learn how to do?  No matter how much planning is done, life has a way of surprising us with the unexpected.  Michele Cushatt has experienced a good share of challenges and shares with us in this book her experiences and the insights she has learned.

Divorce.  Blended Families.  Cancer.  Adoption.  For anyone who has had these struggles, you will be able to relate to what Michele has gone through.  But even for someone like me who has not gone through the same trials, there is much to learn.  We all experience fear...fear of the unknown, fear of failure.  We all experience periods of disappointment and lose perspective.  This memoir will help to clear your vision and help you to see your circumstances in a new light.

One of Michele's insights had to do with the value of today.  She writes "Faith isn't rooted in the past or the future.  It's birthed in how we approach and handle today.  It's the anchor that holds us firmly in this moment, allowing us the freedom to experience it and enjoy it regardless of the regrets and what-ifs.  Those who have faith, deep abiding faith in an Artist who has all things under his control, have no need to rehash the past or predict the future.  They're content...Peace can't be found in the past or the future, but only in a Person, and in whom you believe him to be, today."

This book was well-written and easy to read.  What I enjoyed the most were Michele's authenticity and sense of humor.  Our fears and striving for control and perfection really can hinder our living life to its fullest.  It helps to know that we are not alone...other women share the same struggles.  May you be encouraged and blessed by her story.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Let Them See You Bleed

One of the speakers I heard at Exponential was Danielle Strickland.  She gave this illustration that really hit home with me.  I was fortunate enough to find a blog post she had written that explains it better than I ever could.  Here it is...

Never Let Them See You Bleed

I went to see Hercules (the movie) a few weeks ago. It was a fun movie (if you don’t mind excessive violence). It was a clever story of the ‘man’ Hercules who created a myth to incite fear in his enemies and faith in his fellow fighters. Tormented by his own inner demons and tragic life, Hercules finds resolve to fight for ‘right’ instead of just for money. In the movie Hercules is supported by his team. There is one poignant scene in a battle where Hercules gets cut by an enemy’s sword on his shoulder. One of his team members swoops by and grabs his cape, wraps it around the back of Hercules and whispers in his ear, ‘never let them see you bleed’.

This is the strategy of anyone trying to build their own ‘myth': “Never let them see you bleed”.
And it is the literal opposite of Jesus. And this reminded me about the true power and incredible leadership  of Jesus. Jesus wasn’t afraid to show weakness, or bleed publicly. Actually, the Bible tells us that it was through his willingness to become weak (to the death) that we can live. And later on Paul explains that it’s only in the willingness of His followers to embrace vulnerability and weakness that they can live too.

The world needs more heroes. But I’ve a good hunch they don’t need more heroic ‘myths’ that pretend to be something they’re not. It’s a tempting posture though – if we are honest. It’s tempting to pretend we have it all together – to go with the ‘cape’ to cover a multitude of sins. But the invitation I’ve been hearing over and over again from Jesus is to be fully human… bleeding included. To be vulnerable and honest and willing to look silly and stupid in order to be true. I’m reminding myself these days (not that it’s hard) that I bleed. And I’m excited because it makes me less like Hercules and more like Jesus.


Authenticity has always been important to me.  I don't like to play games - just be real.  But sometimes it's easier said than done!  When you allow people to see you weak and bleeding, you are exposing where you are vulnerable.  You are increasing the possibility of further pain.  However, you are also offering someone else a chance to heal.

I saw this same point explained in a book I'm reading, Undone by Michele Cushatt.  She is a public speaker at women's conferences and found herself in a battle with cancer.  This is what she discovered:

 "Authenticity ministers far more than put-togetherness.  And vulnerability builds a far stronger bond than perfection. 

There is strength in empty.  Not the kind of strength we wish for.  We want polished strength, the kind that wears a cape and leaps tall buildings with a single bound.  I couldn't leap or fly or save anyone from catastrophe.  In fact, I could barely show up.  But I did.  Show up.  And that ended up being a strength all of its own. 

Ministry - of the truest kind -  isn't about impressing unknown strangers with spotless presentations and a flawless life.  It's about exposing the hidden imperfections and giving others permission to do the same.  Becoming a fellow struggler who delivers zero judgment but abundant grace."

This has become my vision for ministry. 

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Love & Respect

"Ministry life is not normal."  These are the words that came out of a pastor's wife at Exponential.  Although my husband and I have participated in ministry most of our married lives, the past two years with him being on staff have been different.  We have new titles and new responsibilities.  This man that you see has a huge heart and works very hard, always striving for excellence.  And since the demands on his time are never-ending, it's sometimes hard to keep everything in balance.  As he's learning to manage his time, I'm learning to adjust to the new normal. 
Last weekend is one example.  We had a marriage conference at our church called Love And Respect.  We couldn't attend in the typical fashion because Jeremy was in charge of running the sound and computer.  So we did the next best thing. I sat next to our "box seats" :)


And you know what?  I think I enjoyed our semi-private time more than if I would have been sitting among the crowd.  Sometimes it's more fun not to be normal!

I highly recommend the Love And Respect conference videos.  Here are some of my take-aways: 
  • Men and women approach things differently.  It's not that one is right and the other is wrong.  We are just different...from the things that we crave the most to the way we handle conflict.  It was eye-opening to hear about these differences and confirm them with my husband.
  • These differences can also help me to understand my sons better! 
  • My response is my responsibility.  When pressure or stress is applied to something, it simply reveals the inner properties.  Check out this clip...

While I think a conference is more engaging than a book, I know the Eggerichs have several books that also explain this material.  I encourage you to check them out...both for marriage and parenting application

I hope to be able to say like Paul "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith".  I want to finish well...and finish together. 

Saturday, May 16, 2015

The Waiting by Cathy LaGrow

In the 1920's, unwed and single mothers were not accepted like they are today.  So when Minka Disbrow was raped and ended up pregnant, an adoption was seen as the best choice.  The Waiting is the true story of Minka's journey, always longing for the little girl she had given up - and eight decades later finding her prayers answered. 

The author, Cathy LaGrow, is Minka's granddaughter.  No one in the family even knew that Minka had given up a baby for adoption.  When the details of her story began to unfold, Cathy used old letters, her grandmother's memories, and research to portray these events as accurately as possible.  The result is a beautiful memoir to a life well lived, and a reunion story that will bring you to tears.

Minka lived to be 102 years old!  In the telling of her story, Cathy often brought in what was happening historically during different time periods.  It's amazing to think of how much change a person can witness during a century.  Minka has a lesson to teach us all about waiting...never give up!  Many people would have given up hope after so long, but Minka held onto the hope that God could answer her prayer to see her baby girl again - and she got even more than she could have imagined.

This story is very well-written.  Sometimes there was a bit more detail than I wanted to know, but I understand why it's there - this is a family keepsake, preserving this story for generations to come.  It was interesting to travel back in time and see how another generation lived and thrived. 

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

The High Calling of Motherhood

One of the workshops I attended at Exponential was about discipleship in the home.  It was led by Bobby and Chad Harrington, father and son.  While they admit to being far from perfect, this topic was so important to them that they helped to research and write a book called Dedicated: Training Your Children to Trust and Follow Jesus.  I must have looked like I really needed the advice, because I was one of two people in the room chosen to receive a copy of the book!  I have not yet read it, but plan to.  What I'll share here is some of what was talked about and how it impacted me.

First, let's lay a scriptural foundation...

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up - Deuteronomy 6:4-7

Some of this talk may occur naturally.  However, I've found that spiritual conversations usually take some kind of prompting - an act of intentional forethought.  It's also important to note that the commandments are first to be on OUR hearts, and displayed through our actions.  I recently heard a pastor say "Your kids will do what you show them more than they will do what you tell them."  Modeling is important.

If we look at how Jesus interacted with his disciples, we can see that he spent time with them, listened to them, and spoke words of wisdom.  Relationship is the key to obedience.  In John 14:23 Jesus says "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching".  Based on this, the Harringtons came up with these relationship equations:

Relationship + Rules=Righteousness

We've got the rules part down, and I desperately want to avoid the rebellion- so that leaves relationship.  As my boys are growing up (now ages 8, 10 and 12) I find it increasingly more difficult to connect with them.  My husband has it easy - sports and violent video games are right up his alley.  He has a great relationship with them because of the time they spend together, both in work and play.  I tend to be more "behind the scenes".  Sure, I'm the one that makes sure they have yummy food to eat, clean clothes to wear, and keep their schedules straight - but that doesn't always translate into relationship. So my goal is to take every opportunity I get to connect on their level.  Chaperoning field trips.  Watching a movie with them (even when I'm not interested in it) just for the chance to cuddle on the couch. Taking them out one-on-one to do something special.  Attending as many of their sporting events as possible.  For you moms of pre-teen boys: What ways do you bond with your boys?  

Since I wasn't raised in a Christian home, I have no example to follow on how to engage older children in spiritual conversations.  How do I spark that desire in their hearts to want to follow Jesus?  We have tried age-appropriate devotionals around the dinner table, but aren't great at being consistent with it.  I have just started allowing my oldest to read Christian books that I pick out in order to earn money.  (If that's what it takes to fill his mind with the truth - I'll do it!)  One thing that Chad Harrington's mother did was to ask "What was the pit and peak of your day?" when tucking her children in at night, and then praying with them. If you were discipled by your parents growing up, what worked in your home?  Let's share some ideas!

Today is Mother's Day.  Our culture leads us to believe that us mothers are to be pampered on this day.  While that would certainly be nice, I think the most important thing to remember is that we are blessed.  God has entrusted us with a high calling - to raise up a future generation.  It is too overwhelming of a task to do alone.  We need His guidance and His grace.  May you enjoy spending time with your children today and strengthening your relationship with them!

 And you may want to take a minute to tell your Mom "Thanks" as well.  I hope you enjoy this video!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Exponential 2015

My husband and I , along with some other New Hope staff members/spouses, just returned from a church planting conference called Exponential.  We had a fun time bonding and learning together. 

The conference was made up of several large group sessions focusing on Multiplication.  There were also several smaller workshops to choose from that focused in on specific topics.  I chose to learn more about Student Ministry, Discipleship in the Home, Ministry Healthiness, and Volunteer Motivation.  On the last day of the conference I had all these ideas swirling around in my mind, and they began to form together into a personal vision for me.  My plan is to share with you over the next several weeks some of what I've learned and how I plan to apply it.  I share both for accountability and in the hope that these ideas may spark something in your spirit as well!

For today, I'll begin with an overview.  Future posts will delve more into specifics...

I need to begin with a healthy foundation.  If I'm not healthy, I can't help others.  This includes physical, relational, emotional, and spiritual components.  When these are met, I can better fulfill the roles that God has called me to.

1) To Make Disciples - This is a task Jesus gave all Christians to do.
  • My priority is to do this in the home - with my boys.  My first inclination is to look outside these walls to how I can serve the church.  However, if I fail at home, it matters little what else I've done.  I've been entrusted for this season to disciple these boys, and it won't happen by accident.  It needs to be intentional.
  • I also desire to disciple other women through leading by example and sharing with them as authentically as I can.  (That's part of why I decided to put writing back on my priority list!)
2) To Support and Encourage My Husband
  • I am his only wife, and I plan for that not to change!  In order for him to minister to others, I need to step up in others areas...and to do it with a good attitude :) I also need to faithfully pray for him.
3) To Serve My Church/Community
  • To volunteer where I'm needed and in accordance with my gifting, but not in a way that cheats my family
  • To continue subbing a few days a week - giving teachers a reliable replacement and building relationships with the students
So there it is...a compilation of all those bits and pieces of information.  I don't fully understand the "how" on some of these things.  But I know where my focus needs to be and can use these goals to filter my decision-making through.  In the coming weeks I will explore these topics in further detail and also ask for your input! 
If you want to join me on this journey, check this site every Sunday.  I think a weekly goal is attainable :)  Until then, begin thinking through what you believe YOU have been called to, and evaluate whether your schedule is filled with activities that are in agreement with YOUR goals.
May the Lord bless you and protect you. 
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you. 
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.