It’s a funny thing. Not funny – ha ha. But, funny in a head-tilting kind of way. Some people like to make others think that everything is always ‘happy, happy, joy, joy’. Facebook is full of people painting pictures of their rewarding lives filled with awesome food, pictures of themselves in a mirror, caring and supporting husbands, the best children who get the gold star at school, the touchdown or home run, the best coloring award,etc., and all those relaxing, fun-filled vacations (which you will soon see from our upcoming trip to Florida!!!). I’ve even had FB friends delete comments that were challenging or went against this picture they were trying to paint for everyone at a distance.
When someone shares something somewhat challenging and real (in light of the fact that we live in a confusing, dark, sinful, sometimes frightening world) , many FB friends don’t know what to do with it. Yes…I know…my hope comes in the fact that I know and experience the love, grace and mercy of Jesus Christ every day. But, sometimes… I just don’t get it. When life slings things my way – disrespect, unpleasant surprises, gossip and slander, disregard, confusion, etc. what I don’t need or want are platitudes, Joel Osteen quotes or other pithy comments. I need a trusting, loving ear who will allow me the chance to wrestle with God over the injustices, the pain, the unfairness, the attack… until I can release it back to Him or until He blesses me. It makes me think of Jacob in Genesis 32….wrestling with God until he was blessed. Sometimes, I need to wrestle with God until he blesses me with understanding and peace.
Donald Miller wrote this post regarding his real life friendship with Brennan Manning. “Reflections on Brennan Manning’s Wrestling Match With God” where he writes of Manning’s death…
Brennan Manning, called back. Done wrestling. Knows it’s true. Can’t write about it now. May we wrestle half as well.
Can we give each other permission to have a bad day? to feel raw unfiltered emotions? to wrestle with God? to doubt and to wonder? to find our way? to keep it real? I’m hungry for real.
“May we wrestle half as well.” – Donald Miller
Louis and I undoubtedly have THE. BEST. wrap-around front porch ever. Best view of the best neighborhood. EVER. Now that the weather has warmed up, we will find ourselves out there every chance we can get. We refer to it as our front porch ministry. Since we live at an intersection with quite a bit of foot traffic, we get to meet a ton of our neighbors just by sitting outside chillin’ with a drink in hand greeting our friends and neighbors. Sometimes we have music…and Louis and I have been known to dance as well. :) We have created a ton of a unforgettable memories of on that porch as well.
We also have the happiest, best dogs ever. Bella and Wesley love the porch just as much as we do, and we LOVE to have them with us. Wesley, the nearly 15 year old black lab, is not our worry. Bella, the 8-9 year old almost chocolate lab, might as well be 2. With all the feral cats around, she will bound off the porch before you know it, which doesn’t make for a very peaceful night when we are constantly saying…No, Bella. And we find ourselves a bit more stressed than we need to be.
So, here’s the challenge. Note in the pictures below the set up of our porch. We need a creative, tasteful, inexpensive, simple, portable, easy-to-store, way to contain the dogs on the porch while we are out there. You might say…simple! Get a leash. Well…not so simple. Bella will chew through it in about 10 seconds flat – which won’t end up being very inexpensive after we replace it over and over again.
So, any ideas???
Well, for the 2nd year in a row, Louis isn’t behind the pulpit of a church on Easter Sunday. And for the 2nd year in a row, we won’t be doing church like most Christians. Last year, we held a pancake brunch at the house for folks who aren’t usually in a church. You can read about our 2012 Easter (with pictures!!!) here > Easter – Acts 2 Style.
This year, we were prayerfully searching for a place to “Do the Bible” and “Be the Church” this Easter Weekend. Today, we had our annual Easter Egg Hunt for our community. (See here > Candy, Bunny and Eggs…Oh My!) Tomorrow morning…Easter Morning, Louis and I will NOT be sporting our Sunday Best. But, we will be giving our best while on God’s mission with some of RVA’s ‘Urban Campers’ (our friend Nelson’s new name for the Homeless)!
Thanks for the connection to Alpha and Omega, Nelson! Can’t wait to meet and serve Pastor Carolyn and some of your friends!
My Prayer for This Easter
Lord, while we remember and rejoice and while we renew our faith and hope in the resurrection of Jesus Christ – the ultimate reconciler, I pray that Louis and I will be reconciled to our new friends….these Urban Campers. I confess and repent that I have not always known how to love them. Teach me how to love. Show me. Change the way I see those who camp in our cities. May I love as You love. May I see as You see. Lord, I long to see Your miraculous healing and changes in our beloved city. Begin in me. Renew my Spirit, so that I may serve others in grace and mercy. In Jesus Name. Amen.
What a FUN morning in Southern Barton Heights! After we postponed the Easter Party due to the early spring snowstorm last Sunday, today was a beautiful day for a community Easter Egg Hunt!!! I am so grateful to our friends and families who donated candy and prizes! And to our friends who helped stuff a gazillion eggs with candy and other goodies, who ensured that the Easter Bunny arrived safe and sound , who took pictures and “laid” eggs!
After playing a game and the Easter Egg Hunt, Louis told the story of the last few days of Jesus’s life (from Palm Sunday through the Empty Tomb) through the use of Resurrection Eggs. The kids were super attentive and helped Louis tell the story.
All of this was followed by yummy cupcakes and lemonade! Louis and I so enjoyed meeting our neighbors and seeing old friends! What a blast!!
It’s not just fun and games at this time of year, because it’s not about the bunny! Yesterday we remembered the Cross. Tomorrow, we remember the Empty Tomb. Today and for days to come, we live knowing that because of the Cross and the Empty Tomb, we are reconciled to our Maker after sin separated us. That’s the story! That’s worth remembering!
PS – Hope kids…we missed you and can’t wait for you to come hang out again!
(remaining photo creds: Miranda Pheifer)
Living a life of doxology is a tough challenge. But, we are called to live a life of doxology in good times and in bad. You may ask “Doxology, you say? I don’t get it. Isn’t that a song that we sing in church on Sundays???” Yes, it is.
Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Imagine if we actually lived out this song…this doxology…this song of praise, admiration and adoration of God Almighty from whom ALL blessings flow. What would our lives look like if we lived a life of doxology every day? I’ve been challenged in this area. I’m a work in progress…learning to praise God in ALL things.
This Easter season has been a difficult one for me and Louis for a number of reasons. A month ago, I had emergency gall bladder surgery, which cancelled our week-long escape to Florida. After fussing and complaining about missing this much-needed trip (or so I thought), it did not take long to start counting our blessings.
1. I praise God that the gall bladder attack didn’t happen while we were IN Florida – away from home (AND after having spent the $!!!). All prepaid money has been returned or credited to us from the hotels, activities, etc.
2. I bless God that I was home (although without by gall bladder) in RVA to cry with and support a friend who suddenly lost her husband. If this was THE ONLY reason I lost my gall bladder, then it was worth it.
3. I praise God that we didn’t spend the money, not knowing that a week later, Louis’s call as interim pastor would come to an abrupt end.
4. I am thankful that we have reminders of God’s faithfulness. It was this time last year that Louis and I found ourselves without an income stream, and God provided for our needs.
5. I praise God that HE is in control. Not me. Because I, for certain, would definitely mess things up. And I love that fact that even when I try to take control and royally mess things up, God is gracious and kind in reminding me that I am NOT in control.
6. I praise God for blessing me with bountiful friends and family who have given of their time, food and resources over the last month while we both have recovered. I bless God for neighborhood Godson – Terence, who has been our legs, arms, and back muscles schlepping things up and down the stairs, in and out of the car, taking out the recycling bins and trash, etc.
7. I praise God that I am learning to find my identity and acceptance in HIM and Him alone, not in others who let me down, who baffle, confuse and disappointment me, and who reject and/or push me away.
8. I am grateful that although I may be surprised and shocked at things that come my way, God is not surprised, nor shocked.
9. I bless God for awesome, gifted medical staff who treated me and Louis during his first total knee replacement 3 weeks ago and the second scheduled for early June. Grateful that Louis’s pain level (thanks to PT – Physical Therapy which we now call Pain and Torture. haha) is managed by medications.
10. I praise God for hearing and answering the prayers of His people and for those who lifted up those prayers!
I could go on and on. And, I should go on and on. For He is worthy of our praise, not just because He comes to us in our need, but we bless His name just because He is God Almighty, Maker of heavens and earth, the One who breathes and gives life to each and every one of us.
For what are you thankful?
For what do you sing of God’s praises?
Why do you want to practice Doxology living?
3/27 UPDATE: Due to the snowy weather, we postponed the Easter Party until Saturday, March 30th from 10am – 12noon. Here is the updated information! Hope you can come!
You are invited to our annual Easter Party and Easter Egg Hunt! Be sure to come back here and check out any changes we might need to make in regards to weather. It has been reported that the Easter Bunny will make a guest appearance! So, bring your camera!
Thanks to neighbors, friends and family who have donated time, candy, cupcakes, prizes and other goodies. Special thanks to West End Assembly of God who made travel arrangements for the Easter Bunny and Hope Church Youth for continuing to love and support the SBH kids. Can’t wait til Camp Splash 2013!
Think on this…
Jesus Christ said:
“Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23 NIV
Consider these questions…
How can I be sure I would lay down my life to be a disciple of Jesus?
What keeps me from doing what God has called me to do?
What gets in the way?
Then, fill in the blanks…
If I’m not willing to _________ so that I can _________ …
I can be equally sure that I won’t give up my life.
If I’m not willing to waste less time on Social Media so that I can spend more time face-to-face with people …I can be equally sure that I won’t give up my life.
I would love to hear what you come up with, if you feel like sharing.