Archive for September, 2011

Living Proof Live Baltimore – Ticket Giveaway

Good morning, Siestas! Or should I say good morning, Baltimore? (Hairspray, anyone?) I’ve been singing it all week!

Anyway, our Siesta Mama is heading to Baltimore today for Living Proof Live this weekend and we were wondering if any of you are planning on attending? She’s been hard at work this week and we’ve been praying for everyone involved.

Thanks to the Siesta Scholarship Fund, we are so excited and humbled to be able to offer 20 scholarship tickets for those of you that desire to go, but just cannot afford a ticket at this time.

If this is you, we will offer them to the first 20 of you that call the Living Proof office during regular business hours (8:30 – 4:30 central time). Ask for Kimberly at 1-888-700-1999 and she will get you squared away. If you call during the lunch hour, or happen to get the voicemail at any point during the day, leave a message with your name and phone number and she’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

We know that the Lord has handpicked each of those who will be there and we can’t wait to hear how God showed up!

We love y’all!

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Any of you remember this look??

A really good, lifelong friend of mine (Kim Gannon) emailed me this picture just for grins yesterday. (Her daughter, Shannon, is well into her college years if that tells you how old the picture is.) It not only made me laugh. It also made me smile, if you know what I mean. There’s a difference between something making you laugh and something making you just-plain-old-smile. I thought it was kinda sweet. That’s why I smiled. That’s one very subtle way to bear the Name, isn’t it? But, of course, now I’m wanting to laugh about it again. It’s too bad you can’t see the jeans underneath. I bet anything they came all the way to the waist where they were tightly cinched by a narrow band then did a very unflattering, pleated poof right around the tummy. They were hideous.That’s my house, by the way. It’s terrifying that I stood that close to an open flame with all that hairspray. My courage knew no end.

Do any of you older Siestas remember when we used to make these kinds of Christmas sweatshirts?? This one was amazingly understated compared to the others. (Kim made these for both of us as I recall.) Some of mine had so many 3-dimensional trinkets sown and glue-gunned onto them that I couldn’t even wash them. I just stunk for Christmas. Surely some of you remember the applique days. They certainly were not limited to Christmas but they were overwhelmingly thematic. You know how we put out decorations on our doors and in our houses throughout the seasons of the year? This was a way of actually wearing them on your person.

You young women on here have no idea what your big sisters have been through.It’s a wonder we don’t have to take medication to talk about it.

So, here’s a fun question: What do we (or you) wear today that you think we’re going to mock and scorn ourselves for later??

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I know this is so random but I love…

Hey, Darling Things!

I am under the books, studying for our Living Proof Live in Baltimore, MD this weekend. (And if you’re going, I can’t wait to see you and to see what God has a mind to show us. The rest of you please pray for us and we will be the far better for your intercession.) I came to a point in my preparation that I needed to look up a map and my heart did this ridiculous little jump. Why? Because I was about to reach for my Bible atlas…and I love my Bible atlas. I could honestly use it for a coffee table book and thumb through it every afternoon while I drink hot tea and have a Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookie. (Of course, I’m hardly ever at my coffee table in the afternoon, nor do I often get to just sit and drink hot tea and eat cookies, but IF I DID, and if I had neither daughter to amuse me, I’d do all of those things with my Bible atlas.) I don’t know how to explain it. I just love it.

Here it is. I’m smiling as I look at it.

 

I love things like maps and charts. They bring some organization to the chaotic mind of BTSPTB.

 

 

Random, huh? Well, that’s when I thought of you. I thought it would be fun to hear you complete this sentence today:

I know this is so random but I love…

What, Girlfriend? What random, not-hyper-serious thing do you love that maybe a ton of people wouldn’t necessarily love with you? Do tell!

 

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The Passion 2012 Challenge: Whom Shall We Send??

We are beside ourselves over the responses to our “1000 Women” campaign for Passion 2012! Over half of the scholarships slots have been filled! We feel so strongly that God is in the middle of this and that He finds great joy in watching one generation invest in the next and cheer them on. Last week as I prepared for the video announcing the LPM scholarships, God set a fire in my heart to do one additional video (this one), challenging any willing churches, ministries, Christian businesses or even families to scholarship other young men and women to Passion 2012 and/or help with their expenses. I am convinced to the bone that so many men and women 18-25 would jump at the chance to go and that expense is by far their biggest obstacle.

We’re wondering if God wants to move on the hearts of some businessmen or women, ministries, or churches to pool extra dollars (if there are any!) and send several young men or women. Maybe a couple of families could go in together and send one. Listen, you may wonder how much difference just one scholarship could make but, to that one person, it could be the difference between light and darkness. To some, between life and death. And, by all means, it could be the difference between a sense of purposelessness and a divinely conspired future. Unless God decides this year to do something altogether different than every other Passion gathering, He will show up with an overwhelming presence and in an environment that is profoundly effective for the age group. I’m not much of a fan of guarantees but, based on God’s history through these events, I do not believe you will be sorry you made this investment in a life. If we can be used of God to send them, we can trust Him to do the rest. He is unfathomably faithful.

Ok! The challenge is officially on the table for any of you who want to pool together some finances and send some 18-25 year olds to Passion 2012. They’re out there! I bet you won’t have to hunt very hard to find some willing recipients.

If you want, let us know you’re taking the challenge and how you found your recipient! (I wish we had the proper resources to help you find them here but we better stick to the scholarship program we’ve already established.) No pressure whatsoever to join in or to let us know you’re taking the challenge. This is for those, like me, who just seem to like making everything into a party.

You guys are a blast. Let’s see what God does!

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Just Enough

Ten years ago, before transferring to Moody and moving to Chicago ever even entered my mind, I was a little sophomore at Baylor University. One fine central Texas day I went down with a friend to a place cleverly called Waco Hall to listen to an increasingly well-known “upcoming” musician. All I knew about the musician I had gleaned from the signs scattered on walls around campus: he had really good hair.

The musician was Shaun Groves. And if I remember correctly, he had just released his first big record Invitation to Eavesdrop.  I knew, even then, after just a few minutes listening to Shaun sing, that he had a special voice. Something about him was unique. I sensed that he was a person who both thought and felt deeply about faith and the world. What I most certainly did not sense is that in less than a decade I would be bouncing around East India with a tiny group he was leading.

But in the third world together we were destined to be.

April 2009 to be exact.

On one of those blistering 125-degree days in Kolkata, Shaun and I got to talking. We were on the bus doing what theology nerds do best . . . taking ourselves far too seriously and talking about some Bible verses. We were throwing around phrases like “the new perspective on Paul” “the kingdom” “inaugurated eschatology” and whatnot. We discussed how necessary it is for us to have a holistic understanding of Scripture’s voice about wealth and poverty. We were ranting and complaining how it simply won’t do to quote one or two verses from the gospels; we need to understand everything we can about poverty and wealth in the entire canon. Only then could we really understand the Church’s mission concerning wealth and poverty. But then we got to talking about a couple of verses in the book of Proverbs. Specifically these:

Proverbs 30.7-9

Two things I ask of you;

deny them not to me before I die:

Remove far from me falsehood and lying;

give me neither poverty nor riches;

feed me with the food that is needful for me,

lest I be full and deny you

and say, “Who is the LORD?”

or lest I be poor and steal

and profane the name of my God.

Interesting verses, right? We both suspected that these verses are crucial to the Church’s conversation concerning wealth and poverty. Shaun swears that, among other things, our conversation about these verses has something to do with the song “Enough” on his new record Third World Symphony. I imagine he is grossly exaggerating but I really don’t care since it happens to be my favorite song on the album.

Enough by shaungroves

These were fun times, good conversations.

But nothing could have prepared me for the moment, just a few hours later, when the ideas in this conversation would become a human being. Kiran is the real reason Shaun wrote “Enough.”

Nothing could have prepared me for Kiran, a Compassion student who lives in one of the slums of Kolkata.

On April 30, 2009 seven members of our team crammed tightly into the home of twelve year old Kiran Mallik. The home she shares with her four other family members. Three of our team members simply couldn’t fit inside. The tiny little shack was about the size of a twin bed, approximately the size of my spare powder bath.

Here is a picture of Kiran standing outside her house.

We couldn’t stand up inside the little house so with knees and thighs touching, we kneeled around on the floor. We sat captivated by Kiran as she revealed to us who she was through a translator. She told us how much she loves Jesus, how she loves to study and hopes to become a teacher someday.

 

And then she paused.

And she asked us, with a soft and sincere smile on her face:

 “How do you like my house?”

Looking helplessly at one another, we collectively cheered:

“It’s beautiful!”

“Yes, it’s beautiful!”

She beamed in agreement and with satisfaction.

But the thing is, I really couldn’t see beauty.

What I saw on that hot April day was a flimsy little box of a house roofed with plastic paper, rocks, and sticks.

Later as we walked around the slum, Kiran would start to cry.

Tears of joy, she said. Tears because she was just so happy she had God.

Then she would literally burst forth into songs of praise. This is the stuff of the Psalms or maybe even the book of Acts. I saw these things in an Indian slum.

And all I could think about was stuff Kiran didn’t possess.

The dark, scary place we were walking around.

All Kiran could think about was that God was with her.

Where I saw tremendous lack, Kiran saw an extravagance worth displaying.

The radiant joy Kiran effused challenged the “lack” I saw.

Her intoxicating presence told me she lacked no good thing.

This was one of those remarkable moments when fixed values start to move. A paradigm shift, if you will. I had to start deconstructing and reconstructing meaning; I had to start trying to make sense of things again. Clearly I had been missing something major about basic life questions. I started posing new questions: What does it really mean to be blessed? What does it mean to have enough? Can I really trust myself to answer this former question?

Being in Kiran’s presence was something of a dream. Surreal. I felt like I was bound in chains in a dark room gazing out a window at a little girl skipping in a field of sunflowers at the brightest point of the day.

It wasn’t that Kiran was proud of what little she had. That would have been admirable, indeed. But that wasn’t it. It was the very idea that Kiran had absolutely no idea she had little. No one could have convinced Kiran she was “suffering,” not without performing some kind of lobotomy anyway. She was rich and full, living off of a couple of Compassion meals. She knocked me off my white horse. I wasn’t the one doing the liberating anymore. I never was. Maybe I had been bound all along.

The remarkable thing about the Proverbs text I mentioned before (30.7-9) is not that it mentions living in the middle of two extremes: poverty and wealth. The astonishing thing is that it links spiritual infidelity to these two extremes. In other words, living off of just enough, that which is necessary, is spiritually advantageous. At least according to the wisdom writer.

Kiran’s effortless joy, her tremendous wealth in living off the Lord alone, not only reverberates the sounds of the ancient sage; it takes the shape of a cross. Her abundant life is nothing short of cruciform. Undeniable power in perceived human weakness. And not even the thickest darkness can obstruct this kind of light. It is the overwhelming penetrating light of the cross. I was blinded by it because I couldn’t stop staring at Kiran.

My vision will never be the same.

If I close my eyes and focus long enough, I can still hear the sound of Kiran’s voice. She is singing, “Lord, I lift Your Name on High. Lord, I love to sing Your Praises.” The cadences of her voice are still in my heart.

 

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The Village

As of yesterday, it has been two weeks since I’ve been a part of what they lovingly call “The Village”. In other words, I’ve been at Living Proof Ministries for an entire two weeks. I am certain that if I had a penny for every time I’ve heard the words “The Village”, whether referring to the LPM staff, or in the phrase “It takes a village!”, I’d be one wealthy girl.

But if I’ve learned one thing these past two weeks, I’ve learned that it certainly does take a village. And that The Village is very easy to love. I may not be wealthy in pennies, but I am certainly wealthy in sisters.

I jumped into what I like to refer to as sanguine land.

I myself am quite the sanguine, but have noticed the past two weeks that I’ve really toned it down a bit. I have been a top notch observer, just taking everything in moment by moment. Quite honestly, the other night I sat down to journal and I couldn’t think of one thing to write down. Not because I have a lack of words or thoughts, but because I didn’t know where to start.

Even as I started this post, I uploaded pictures then decided I had nothing to say. Thankfully, I regained consciousness and came back to this post shortly after my loss of words and this is what you’ve got. What is it I’ve got, you ask? A list of observations from a week of working with the village.

1. This may disappoint, but my first observation? The phones never stop ringing. Ever. LPM is a hopping ministry. Praise God!

2. These ladies are hilarious.

3. They know how to pray. And they do it often.

4. A lot of laughter is heard all day long.

5. LPM knows how to eat.  Let’s be honest, we like food around here. The workday pretty much revolves around lunch. I’m a-okay with that because I consider myself a food junkie. It might not be that endearing, but it’s true.

6. There is nothing you do alone at LPM. It really does take a village. For instance, it took four of us to connect my computer to another screen so I’d be double screening it. I don’t know the technical term for that since I’m not technical, but let me tell you, it is a blessing.

7. You won’t get to work or leave work without getting approximately ten hugs.

8. Personal? What is that? The village needs to know all personal matters. But at least you know they’ll keep it to themselves. At least that’s what I’m told.

9. Skype is a must. As is email. As is HeyTell. As is text messaging. Communication is flourishing.

10. They love Jesus. For real. I want to love Jesus more because of them.

11. With their forces combined, along with the prophetic dream Amanda had, I’m sure I’ll be married in six months. Except I’m totally kidding. Maybe.

12. You know your boss is legit when she sends you a picture text message of the yogurt you’d been discussing earlier. She wanted you to make sure you knew exactly what it was so you wouldn’t have to go on a wild goose chase. I’m thankful.

13. I need to get used to eating a bigger breakfast on Monday mornings. Instead of the workday revolving around lunch that day (see #5), it revolves around Bible study and prayer. We skip lunch and feast on the Word of God. He is good, y’all. And He does satisfy. Needless to say, however, I go home with quite the appetite.

14. The UPS man could probably drive to LPM with his eyes closed. From my office I see him pull up everyday and I watch in amazement at all the boxes he brings in. LPM might just be his second home.

15. We may or may not meet frequently at the reception area on the second floor for the most interesting conversations you’ve ever heard. And by interesting, I mean we discuss what we had for breakfast. It’s pretty epic, y’all. I have heard, but have yet to experience the 3:00 stretches. I’ll let y’all know how that goes.

In all seriousness, I’ve been there a week and I can say I sincerely love it already. I’m still slowly taking everything in, but really enjoying learning the ropes and getting to know everyone there. Yes, I’m tired and adjusting to a new job and bed time, but I feel beyond blessed to get to serve alongside these incredible ladies.

Here are some pictures from my first week.

My old boss JJ and his wife Anna sent me flowers my first day of work at the office. It was so sweet and they were beautiful. Thank you so much, JJ and Anna! It meant so much to me.

I have literally taken zero pictures with my real camera, but here are some of my office that I took with my phone. I share an office with Jenn, our Tuesday Night Bible study coordinator, but she is a mama of three youngins’, so you can imagine that her office hours are more flexible and different than mine. We’ve only shared the office for two hours! The desk on the left is hers. I can take zero credit for how adorable this office is. Everything was already done, I just simply moved in.

This is the view looking out to the balcony. Not too shabby, eh?

Just a cute corner of the office. Don’t you love those pillows? At 3:00 everyday I’m tempted to take a nap.

This is my side/desk of the office. So far, I love it.

This is what the double screen looks like. It has been such a tremendous help when you stare at a computer all day long!

We hosted our volunteers at the ministry for the simulcast. It was really fun getting to know them and also getting to be with my co-workers soaking up God’s Word. We had the best time! I am so glad I went. And boy did I get a Word! Amen.

Beth came up to work one day when she planned on not actually being there. That day she worked at the front desk with Kimberly and although we may not have gotten a ton of work done, we sure had a lot of fun. And yes, Beth is wearing a tiara. This is women’s ministry after all. We may or may not have a few of those around here.

Here is Kimberly, Sabrina and Susan. They are known as the three stooges. We meet at this very countertop for conversations throughout the day.

I got to experience my first LPM birthday celebration yesterday and it did not disappoint. I had heard they were quite the big deal and I have to say, LPM knows how to celebrate. Of all people, we got to celebrate sweet Nancy in the middle. We love her!

In case you were wondering, yes, I still pinch myself every morning. I don’t deserve to work here with these incredible ladies, but believe me when I tell you I thank the Lord (very often) for this sweet gift.

And that, sweet Siestas, is my first list of observations. I am sure there are plenty more to come. I can tell I’m going to really love it here.

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Passion 2012: One Thousand Women

Hey, Everybody! I hope you’ll have a chance to watch the video about something exciting God has placed upon our hearts at Living Proof but I wanted to make sure that you also have the information confirmed here in writing. Questions are usually answered better in print and I want this to be so clear that we can respond to God with tremendous praise and prayer.

Many of you are familiar with the Passion Conferences that God has used wildly among 18-25 year-olds for well over a decade. (If you’re not, see 268generation.com to learn all about it. You’ll love it.) God placed the vision in the faithful hands of Louie and Shelley Giglio and they have continued a long obedience in the same direction to see God’s name and renown become the desire of many hearts in the rising generations. God has shown outlandish favor on these events and He alone knows exactly why but this is the feeling that I get every time I observe a Passion gathering: He likes it. He likes coming to it. He likes brooding over it. He likes filling it. His glory is jealously guarded and His fame is generously spread. God also has the open invitation to reach into lives at one of the most strategic seasons of all. At what age are people more inclined to make completely life-altering plans and decisions?

Imagine what would happen if God completely captivated thousands of lives in that 18-25 year range and ruined them for settling for less than God had in mind when He created them. What if nothing less than the flagrant fame of Jesus Christ became their life ambition? That’s what has happened thousands of times over at Passion Conferences through the years. At these events, the wholly surrendered life in Christ is captured for what it really is: the most exhilarating adventure available for human flesh and blood. It is the offer to live for something so much greater. It is the offer for a life that matters here long after we’ve vacated this planet.

Last year at Passion 2011, Louie announced that God had challenged him to ask for the Georgia Dome for Passion 2012 (January 2-5 in Atlanta). That means we don’t have to sell out of seats and can open the doors to tens of thousands more. We were ecstatic. Within that first 24 hours, God moved on my heart to sponsor 1000 young women to attend in 2012.

1000 women who’d never been before.

1000 women who could not otherwise go.

I’ve waited all these months to tell you about it and, finally, the time is right. These next couple of months will be the time frame for the conference to climb on the radar of many young lives. LPM is launching this 1000 Women campaign in your honor and we would love to do it with your participation through prayer. It is my great hope that you would take ownership over the campaign, too, and get completely involved. What could be more fitting than for a women’s ministry to sponsor young women to attend something that has the very real potential to change the course of their lives and the rhythm of their hearts?

Here’s how the eligibility works for these 1000 scholarships. Each applicant must meet the following requirements (and, so sorry, but no exceptions!):
*A woman between the ages of 18 and 25. (Next week you’ll see that we are going to issue a challenge to other ministries, churches, and organizations and hopefully many of them will also scholarship young men. God seemed very clear in His leadership that our 1000 LPM scholarships were supposed to be entirely for women. It’s a form of mentoring and mothering, so to speak, as we seek to be intentional in investing in the next generation according to Scripture.)

*She has never attended a Passion gathering before. (This does not include concerts. I’m just talking about an actual Passion gathering on this prerequisite.)

*She would be completely unable to attend without a scholarship. In other words, if the young woman or her parents can come up with the money – even if sacrificially – let’s please retain these 1000 scholarships for others who cannot.

If this is resonating with you, here’s how you can get involved:

*Help get the word out to young women who meet the exact criteria for the LPM scholarships to Passion 2012. Please think about those who could not attend otherwise.

*Start praying for the event right away. These are tomorrow’s leaders and they will powerfully impact our lives as well as those who come up behind them. Also be watching for an opportunity to “adopt” one of our scholarship recipients to pray for throughout the event. We will give you an official way to sign up as an intercessor for a specific recipient after our scholarships are largely filled and we’ll also suggest some ways to direct your prayers. Look for these sign-ups to pop up here on the LPM blog in November but I will keep you very up to date on the progress of our 1000 Women campaign as we go.

And that’s all there is to it! You’re such a gracious people that I already know up front that some of you will ask if you can give financially toward this fund. If God undeniably presses that upon your heart, you are welcome to. (It would be part of our Siesta Scholarship Fund.) HOWEVER, we have already joyfully made the financial commitment at LPM and we are not asking for any donations. Since we’re deeply committed to these 1000 scholarships, if you do have extra dollars in your pocket in these hard financial times, we’d more readily suggest that you go out there and find someone – male or female – of that age group who wants to go to Passion 2012 but can’t afford it. Send them! And, remember that many could use the extra help for travel and lodging. Our 1000 Women campaign is limited to ticket scholarships and not for further expenses, as much as I wish we could do the whole megillah.

You game?? Wooohoooo! ME, TOO!!!!!

Get out there and find those women, Siestas! Here is the link for scholarship registration. Make sure they know the qualifications! All applicants need to go through this link for Passion 2012 scholarships. It is a separate feature that we’ve created in partnership with the Passion staff. Applicants will receive an email confirmation directly from Passion, letting them know that they have received the scholarship application and that it is being processed. Within a matter of days, they will receive another email informing them whether or not the scholarship was available and accepted. If they meet the criteria as listed in this post, the only reason for a decline will be numbers exceeding 1000.

Ready, set, GO!

Bring them, Lord!

I’m honored to do ministry with you, Siestas. Isn’t this a blast?

I love you dearly.

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My Favorite Sunday Ever

Well, it finally happened! After 2 years of God stirring up Curtis and Amanda and spooning them onto the same ministry page and after six months of praying and planning with a core group of believers, Bayou City Fellowship blew open its doors last Sunday, September 11th. On so many levels, it was the Sunday of my life…and, just so you know, I’ve loved me some Sundays. You’ve got no hater here. Ink can’t convey what growing up in the church meant to a child who’d come from early victimization and was all but paralyzed by fear and insecurity. I know my story is not everyone’s but, for me, church was a safe place. A happy place. A lively place even long before the days of praise bands and raised hands. It was there in that small circle of Sunday school chairs in Arkadelphia, Arkansas that I met the love of my life. It was there that I memorized my first Bible verses and, there, my head plunged beneath the waters of baptism at the ripe old age of nine.

If I’m counting them right, I’ve belonged to about 6 or 7 churches in my 54 years and most of those changes were necessary because of moves. I can’t say that a single one of them was intolerable. If you’ve been around the LPM blog very long, you may know how dearly I loved HFBC and what tears I shed in saying goodbye to the church where I’d worshipped for almost 30 years. At first the sense of lostness was palpable. Then, suddenly, as I crouched with other believers way out on that limb, in the throes of desperate prayer, and complete dependence on God for this infant church, it was like quart of Red Bull started coursing through my veins. People would ask from time to time, “Are you guys scared?” Well, alive is more like it. Alive and AWAKE.

It’s been one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been part of. Many of you who have been involved in church plants have said the same thing. I guess one reason is because it’s just so out there. History can’t make it float. Heritage can’t make it float. Habit can’t make it float. Only Jesus can make it float. If He does not shine His face upon us, we will fizzle out like a year-old sparkler on the 4th of July. The other big thing from a personal standpoint, making it so exhilarating is the band of new relationships. How often does somebody make 50 new friends without getting on Facebook? I know at least 20 children’s names and they know mine. OK. So I have candy in my purse. Is that against anybody’s religion??

Sunday two weeks ago, we had our BCF dress rehearsal. Everybody on the core team has at least one job to do so we got there early and into our places. (The first wave at 7:00 AM. The second wave at 8:30. That’s my wave. Service begins at 10:00.) I’m on the host team so we mostly practiced welcoming each other at dress rehearsal and we taste-tested the coffee at our makeshift coffee bar. Other teams were practically as busy at dress rehearsal as they’d be on opening day. The utility team and the children’s team require the most hands on deck because they have to set up and tear down every week. God graced us lavishly with space to rent at Houston Christian High School (Beltway 8, close to Hammerly – a gorgeous school and a great one). So, on these Sundays, halls and gyms transform into children’s areas with bright primary colors, songs, sounds of laughter, and stories about a great big God and a Savior who could walk on water. A Man who could take one boy’s lunch and feed thousands. Someone who said, “Don’t hold back those children from me! They’re what the Kingdom of God is all about!” We feel like God gave us one of the most gifted couples in our entire area to head up our children’s ministry. I pray for Dustin and Cassi second in line only to Curtis and Amanda. I wondered if they’d be overwhelmed on opening Sunday but their team was prepared, all the children welcomed and well cared for, and I saw nothing but smiles as I picked up Jackson and Annabeth.

Oops. I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll back up and give you a short run-down of our first Sunday from the pitifully biased point of view of Blonder Than She Pays To Be:

I got there a few minutes behind schedule because I’d asked special grace from the pastor’s wife. Saturday’s simulcast in Lubbock made for a pretty late Saturday night so, by the time I got to the church, everything was already in high gear. This was the scene at the welcome center for the children. As you can see, we were getting a few things ironed out before our guests arrived.

We met for prayer in the gym and, after our pastor asked us to get in small groups and agree in focused intercession, one of our team members also requested that we gather around Curtis, lay hands on him and call out to God in his behalf. It was such a powerful time that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. I could get tears in my eyes just thinking about it. At this point, you realize that we didn’t even know for certain that anybody else was coming. We were “in the presence of the God in whom [we] believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.” (Romans 4:17 ESV)

After prayer, we all scurried to our places. Mine last Sunday was beside those at the front door to the chapel. I will work in the children’s area pretty regularly but, when I’m in big church, I get to be on the team that welcomes people. I always wanted to be on the welcoming committee at HFBC so I’m ecstatic about my new job. I get to serve in this capacity as long as I don’t clog up an aisle or a door so I intend to stay light on my feet on Sundays and move from place to place. (I have promised Curtis and Amanda that I will not let BCF become a place for signing books or taking pictures. I just want to be a fellow church-servant so badly. On our first Sunday, that’s exactly what I got to be! A good sign indeed.)

I wish you could have seen the host team and I staring through the glass doors for signs of guests. Sure enough, by 9:30 they were coming. To say that we tripped over one another to welcome people is an understatement. Mind you, we’d been planning this moment for 6 months. It might be safe to say that there were some among the host team who were willing to elbow others to get to the guests first.  I’ll not mention any names but, if I remember right, I think her initials were BM.

Side note: Someone who will remain nameless but is related to me had brought donuts for the team to dress rehearsal the week before and I couldn’t eat one because of a bread-fast I was observing for the simulcast. I could not WAIT to sink my teeth into a warm Shipley’s on our opening morning and, lo and behold, no one brought any. I said to my son-in-law Colin, “I’m starving for a donut.” (A sick exaggeration, of course.) He said, “I don’t have a donut but I do have some peanut M&M’s. Would that do?” In a pinch, YES!

At the exact moment I threw a handful in my mouth, our first guest walked through the door. Not to be outdone, I flew over there, chewing as fast as I could, and greeted her with great enthusiasm and with tiny chips of brilliant red, blue, and green lodged between the opening teeth of my lifelong overbite. In hindsight, I wish I’d waited. I saw a piece of peanut on her shoulder after I hugged her. I wanted to swat it off but I was afraid she’d think that I thought she had dry scalp. It was a lose-lose. Another of our team members was equally enthusiastic. She showed us later how she’d nearly wrapped herself like a pretzel around the first guest she got to greet. (Don’t be scared to visit. If we can’t bring ourselves to settle down some over the next few weeks, we overzealous ones are prepared to take medication. Or have it forced upon us. Maybe we could wear a relaxation patch of some kind.)

Then I looked inside the chapel – still about 25 minutes before the service – and spied two women from the back with really cute gray hair. I descended upon them like a seagull dive-bombing a surf. We are hoping to no end that God will build BCF into a multigenerational body of believers so gray was one of our favorite colors last Sunday. If we don’t turn out with many senior adults, I’ll pray about letting my hair go its natural color. And I feel utterly certain that God will say no.

Their names were Irma and Joanne. I’m talking about the two women in the chapel. Stay with me here. And, are you ready for this? They are SIESTAS. Yep. Siestas. They live in Houston and knew about Bayou City Fellowship through our blog. In fact, I do not doubt they are reading this right now. Hi, Irma! Hi, Joanne! I loved meeting you both! Are you coming back this Sunday? Huh? Huh? I, of course, asked them if they’d be coming to our SSMT celebration but Irma said she’d found so many verses to be a bit daunting. I bet many of you can relate. But I told her the same thing I’m telling you: it’s not too late! Choose a psalm with 20 verses and get busy!

Back to BCF. The host team got the chance to welcome many people on Sunday. We think we had about 500 in all, counting the children. We were ecstatic. It was the perfect size for our first Sunday because we had a room full of worshippers without being overwhelmed. Our praise to God knows no bounds. Our whole family was involved. I wish I could see your faces when I tell you that Melissa manned the coffee bar. She did a splendid job, but when she ran out of half and half, you’d have thought we were on the edge of Armageddon. The Texas Pecan coffee was other-worldly in my opinion but she quipped, “WITH NO HALF AND HALF???” I agreed. It was unheard of. I just adore her. No one on earth is like her. Colin, Melissa’s man, was extremely busy because he is on the utility team, setting up and tearing down. (She is, too, by the way.) During the service, Colin passed one of the offering plates and, honestly, if I loved him more, I’d throw my back out. I would not trade him for anything on the planet. Melissa sat on one side of our hard-working pastor’s wife. (Don’t get me going on the pastor’s wife. It will put me over the edge. She is taking her place right beside her man and I am so impressed with God through her that I hardly know how to handle it. I have begun to call her First Lady. She has failed to acknowledge the honorific, however.) My older sister, Gay, sat on Amanda’s other side. It is a picture that will be engraved on my mind as long as I have memory.  I sat on the other side of my sister and Keith sat next to me. And his handsome twenty-two year old nephew sat next to him. And it’s very likely that any unattached young woman within five years of him wished she were sitting hitherto.

And, Curtis?

Well, Girlfriend. Curtis preached.

I do mean Curtis PREACHED.

And I got a word.

And many of us rededicated our lives. I’m not being facetious. I really did. 54 is no time to shove everything over to the young. They need you to stick with them. And, oh, Lord, have mercy, I NEED THEM.  I’ve hardly known what to do with myself since giving up Sunday school. I have a new job at church now: it’s called Whatever. I’ll rock babies. I’ll tell stories to children. I’ll welcome guests. I’ll help Melissa with the coffee. I’ll pass the offering plate (and probably try to peek in it). Whatever. I’m in.

Because I love church life. Even in all its imperfections and missteps. Even with its questionable reputation. Even though, at best, it can only point to Jesus and feign to replace Him. God used it to scoop me up when I was freefalling into an abyss. God used it to light a torch in me for missions and for the lifelong study of Scripture. God used it to teach me how to take a messy stab at teaching. God used it to show me how to love and to be loved. God used it to teach me how to forgive and feel forgiven.

Infinitely more than that, Jesus loves the Church. The big One. The one we’re only a speck on the face of. We – a people crouched on a tiny new dot on the Kingdom globe – want to take our place, shoulder to shoulder, with all the others who lift the Name of Jesus sky-high for any eye to see.

We want to take our place next to you.

And, if you happen to find yourself shoulder to shoulder with me, you might check your person for a rogue piece of peanut M&M. I’m a hugger, you know.

 

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2011 Siesta Scripture Memory Team: Verse 18!

weeks
-13
-1
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0
0
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-3
-9
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**Siesta Celebration is January 20-21, 2012**

Hey, Scripture Memory Mad-Women!
Look how many verses we have behind us!! Sister friend, if you’ve made it this far, YOU’VE GOT THIS THING IN THE BAG! (Or, in your darling little spiral, to be exact.) We are only two Scriptures away from you having the required amount posted for attending the SSMT celebration. By all means, make your goal all 24 but it’s a great feeling to know that you have ALL.IT.TAKES.TO.CE.LE.BRATE. I do dearly love a party. It won’t be the same if you don’t come so please (if it sounds fun to you) try your hardest. Think about asking for help toward expenses as a Christmas gift from some of your lavishly loving peeps.

Registration will be open until 2 weeks before the event so don’t stress about us running out of room. We only opened it this early so we could choose which space will fit us best at Houston’s First Baptist Church and so we can best prepare to serve you. Since we’re at about 850 registrations, we’ve outgrown the Fellowship Hall where we were last year and will meet in the sanctuary. We’ll make sure that we have the closest possible seating arrangements so no one feels isolated from the group. (There’s no reserved seating for it, of course, but we’ll do everything we can to make it as intimate as possible.) We are looking so forward to seeing your beautiful faces. It will be here before we know it!  Click here to register: SSMT Registration

OK, here’s my Scripture for this round:

Beth, Houston. For what credit is it if you sin and are mistreated and endure it? But if you do good and suffer and so endure, this finds favor with God. 1 Peter 2:20 The NET Bible

Let’s hear yours!

I’m mad about you.

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LPL Simulcast – Lubbock

Good Morning, Siestas! If you were at the simulcast this weekend here is both the video and the commissioning that many of you have been asking for.

Also, don’t forget to check out yesterdays post below to see who our fifteen winners were of Travis Cottrell’s new CD. Congratulations, ladies!

Living Proof Live Simulcast Lubbock TX from David Lowe on Vimeo.

My Dear Sister
God has chased you down
And called you ALSO
You have a job to do
But you can’t really be you
Until you find a bigger “we”
You were created for good company
But never, ever forget
God never overlooks a single “me”
In that great big “we”
Let Jesus be the “He”
In your hermeneutic
Everything He teaches you
Is so that He can reach to you
Give Him open access
To every part of your life
Every struggle
Every temptation
Every aggravation
Every addiction
Every craving
All your caving
Give Him full authority
He’ll give you back your victory
As we go our separate ways
Always remember
That Jesus has passed you the salt
Shake some things up out there
To the greatness of Christ, the Son
Now unto Him who is able
To keep your feet from falling
Be glory and majesty
Power and authority
Forever and ever
Amen

We love y’all!

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