Archive for May, 2012

A Few of my Favorite Summer-ish Things: A Random Giveaway

WE HAVE OUR WINNER!!!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS…
#2067  Edie Jones!
I think you will all so appreciate the first sentence of her comment:

“My husband is in Afghanistan and a few ‘favorite things’ would brighten my day!”

How about that, Sisters?!? OK, Edie, please contact Living Proof Ministries at toll free (888) 700-1999 and give us an address. Please ask for Kimberly or Susan. Knowing what we now know, all of us here would want so much to send you to the beach…but, instead, we’re sending the beach to you. ENJOY!!!

PROCEED WITH CAUTION: this post will embody most everything you anticipate and perhaps even despise about women’s ministry. There will even be pink nail polish. As the great Professor Thornbury said a few weeks ago on the Twitterverse “something is not a stumbling block if you can see it coming.” So, consider yourself warned.

Colin and I just returned from a week at the beach in Mexico. It was crazy fantastic. I slept. I read classic literature. I also swam with a dolphin named Duey. And on the day I returned home I was greeted abrasively by a stomach bug and a crick in my neck so bad I could barely move my head. Oh, and then my 100 lb puppy Winston ate my over-priced prescription eye-glasses. But how can I really be frustrated with this bad boy?

Anyway, since this weekend was the Memorial Day holiday I scrolled through numerous tweets from people who were somewhere fabulous while I was at home with a bag of frozen corn under my neck. And I began to weep for the serenity of the ocean and my dolphin Duey.

But enough about me.

I want to talk about you.

I got to thinking that there may be some of you who won’t get a break this summer. While nearly everyone you know is off to some fabulous island, you won’t get a moment’s rest. For whatever reason, you won’t be able to retreat to the beach or the mountains or to wherever else makes your heart happy. We want to send a little fun and lots of love your direction so we’re doing a random give-away. And it will not include commentaries, concordances, or anything super useful or meaningful.

This giveaway is simply full of some of my personal favorite summer things including: Bobbi Brown Beach parfum (seriously smells exactly like the beach!), classic Ray-Ban aviators, Votivo Candle in White Ocean Sands, a pair of bright yellow Moleskine notebooks, Tea Forte’ Pomegranate Blackberry Iced Tea, and America’s Test Kitchen Best Summer Dessert recipes. See the contents below:

 

 

 

There are really no conditions for this giveaway. My hope, of course, is that this gift makes it into the hands of someone who simply can’t get a break this year and not someone who is heading to the Maldives or Bora Bora next week to stay in one of those little huts with glass floors sprawled across sparkling turquoise waters. But truly, if this gift brings a big smile to a single one of your faces that is quite enough for me.

So, please enter your name in the comments section if you could use a little sunshine in your world. We’ll do a random drawing and announce the winner at noon on this Thursday the 31st.

 

You are loved.

Melissa

Share

Throw Your Burden

Good Saturday Morning, wonderful blog community. I’ve thought of you so many times this week and knew that some of you really active ones were wondering where on earth the Mama was. Sabrina told me a few weeks ago that I had a week off coming up and I knew in that moment what I wanted to do with it. I did not take it off but I did stay home each day this week – out here in the country – and gave my full attention to a personal project. I normally still would have blogged at least once but, for the life of me, I could not think of anything to say. I’ve just had a quiet of sorts fall on me. Have you had times like that? Times when a stab of pain was personal enough and stunning enough to somehow cause you to put your hand over your mouth and keep it there a while? Times when you want to scream, “What is going on here? What is this madness? How did this happen??”

If you’re like me, you find it much easier to talk about a storm in its wake. In the middle of it, you’re just trying to hold on tight to the edges of the boat and keep from throwing up while it rocks to and fro. I’m still in it so I’d rather not even speak to it directly and once again ask you to resist conjecture as well. This is such a public format. I don’t want anyone involved in the challenge hurt by any words here. There’s enough hurt. But I want to be able to minister here and serve here and share with you even in the middle of a hard situation. Please let me leave it at that. Staying general invites more people to relate anyway.

One reason I have a quiet come over me in a season like this is the pure length of time that can be involved. Yesterday someone I’m crazy about shot me a very loving text that included, “How is it all going?” and I never answered it because it’s going the same as it went last week. Anybody understand what I’m saying? This dyed in the wool sanguine likes to say, “SO MUCH BETTER!” I don’t like to burden people long term. Oh heck, I don’t like to be burdened long term either. Who does?? In our humanity, we all wear out eventually. But sometimes the fact is, we’re not quite at the point of so much better yet. We will be. Make no mistake. Those of us who are willing to let Jesus minister to us in the deepest parts of our souls and knead the crushed grain of brokenness into break will indeed be so much better. It’s just a matter of time. Satan will indeed be defeated. And God will make sure he’s sorry.

I decided I had the words to write to you this morning – not because I felt talky all the sudden but – because Charles Spurgeon supplied them to me. They landed on a sore spot in my soul and brought some comfort and insight. I thought I’d just share the whole thing with you then make a closing comment or two. From Morning and Evening, today’s date…

 

“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee.”
— Psalm 55:22

Care, even though exercised upon legitimate objects, if carried to excess, has in it the nature of sin. The precept to avoid anxious care is earnestly inculcated by our Saviour, again and again; it is reiterated by the apostles; and it is one which cannot be neglected without involving transgression: for the very essence of anxious care is the imagining that we are wiser than God, and the thrusting ourselves into his place to do for him that which he has undertaken to do for us. We attempt to think of that which we fancy he will forget; we labour to take upon ourselves our weary burden, as if he were unable or unwilling to take it for us. Now this disobedience to his plain precept, this unbelief in his Word, this presumption in intruding upon his province, is all sinful. Yet more than this, anxious care often leads to acts of sin. He who cannot calmly leave his affairs in God’s hand, but will carry his own burden, is very likely to be tempted to use wrong means to help himself. This sin leads to a forsaking of God as our counsellor, and resorting instead to human wisdom. This is going to the “broken cistern” instead of to the “fountain;” a sin which was laid against Israel of old. Anxiety makes us doubt God’s lovingkindness, and thus our love to him grows cold; we feel mistrust, and thus grieve the Spirit of God, so that our prayers become hindered, our consistent example marred, and our life one of self-seeking. Thus want of confidence in God leads us to wander far from him; but if through simple faith in his promise, we cast each burden as it comes upon him, and are “careful for nothing” because he undertakes to care for us, it will keep us close to him, and strengthen us against much temptation. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee.”

Spurgeon, C. H. (2006). Morning and evening : Daily readings (Complete and unabridged; New modern edition.). Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers.

 

I think I’ve told you before that I like to do my early morning reading out of a different translation than the one I use the rest of the time. Different wording often has a way of stirring up a different response in me. So, a couple of translations sit on my desk where I have my quiet time. One is always The NET Bible because Melissa gave it to me several years ago and it has (literally) “60,932 Translators’ Notes.” If I’m not presently doing a Bible study in my quiet time like the one I just finished of Kelly Minter’s, then often I’ll open up a devotional reading like Spurgeon’s. Because many of the daily devotionals don’t have longer Bible readings assigned with them, I check the verse they’re using then turn to that chapter in my Bible and read it. (True to form, I’m making this explanation harder than it has to be. I’ll try to cut to the chase.)

SO, this morning I opened up The NET Bible and read a large portion of Psalm 55. When I got to verse 22 – the verse captioned in the Spurgeon devotional –  I sat tight on the NET translation:

“Throw your burden upon the Lord, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the godly to be upended.”

Maybe you’re visual, too, and right about now you’re picturing throwing. Like hauling off and throwing something as hard as you can. And maybe getting a little frustration and madness out of your soul while you’re at it. Maybe crying while you’re doing it. Even out loud.

Throw.

Before you’re tempted to hold it to your chest and suffocate yourself nearly to death with it.

Throw.

Then something else spoke to me. It was one of those 60, 932 scholars’ notes. The comment footnotes the word “you” at the end of the phrase “Throw your burden upon the Lord and He will sustain you.” I’ll just cut and paste the note from my Bible software so you can see it for yourself.

“The pronoun is singular; the psalmist addresses each member of his audience individually.”

Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition Notes (Ps 55:22). Biblical Studies Press.

Individually. We EACH have the invitation to throw our burdens upon the Lord and let Him sustain us. Not the “we” of us. The “you” and “me” of us. We also each have the responsibility. In other words, no one can throw our burden on the Lord for us. We can’t call in a relief pitcher. Don’t misunderstand. We can certainly call upon people to pray for us and with us and the New Testament adamantly tells us to carry one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2) but listen. There is a difference between a burden that is entrusted for us in a season that we are to partner in sharing and carrying. Say, for instance, a long term illness or thorn in the flesh. But the part of the burden that we are inadvertently – even accidentally – playing God over needs to be THROWN, Girlfriend. The part we’re suffocating under because we’re no longer walking, we’re laying down with it on top of us, needs to be…

Thrown.

When we keep trying to figure out what would fix it, then we try that, and it doesn’t work so we wring our hands and go to the next fix, we need to throw it. We cannot be Savior. We know that because, Lord help us, we cannot even save ourselves.

I so don’t want to be depressing this morning. Forgive me. See? That’s why I’m not as anxious to write while I’m right in the middle of something. But, after this morning’s reading, I don’t feel as depressed about it. I feel a little lighter. A little less weight on my chest. My hope is that you do, too. And if you do, it won’t be this post. It will be Jesus.

Oh, you guys. I love you so much. I care so much. Don’t grow weary. God is working. Jesus IS Savior. HE WILL SAVE.

 

Share

Blogging 101

Good Thursday afternoon, Siestas! I’m not sure if this week has flown by for the rest of you like it has here, but whew, the fact that it’s near the end of the week and close to the end of May is slightly insane. Time really does fly when you’re having fun, or just flat busy. Grin.

I know this may be the most boring post of your entire reading career, but lately I’ve been getting a lot of emails and questions on the blog about this here blog and I thought we were due for a little blogging 101. This just means we have some new readers, which is exciting, so bear with me as I try to clearly answer some of your basic questions so we’re all on the same page!

1. How do I become a Siesta?

We are far from exclusive around here, which means, there is nothing you need to do to become a Siesta. If you read this blog, consider yourself a Siesta. However, if you want to get more involved by commenting and adding to the conversation, feel free to keep reading to learn how to do just that. Many of you have asked where the term siesta came about, and here is the back story: “Isn’t “siesta” the Spanish word for nap? Yes! Then why are our LPM blog readers called siestas? One time Beth typed out the word “sistas,” referring to our blog readers, and her spell checker wanted her to change it to “siestas.” The name stuck! You can read about it here. If you read this blog, consider yourself a siesta! It’s just another word for sister.”

2. I got a new email address, can you please update your contact so I get the blog emailed to my new address?

Unfortunately, your email is not stored through Living Proof. You originally signed up through our RSS feed, and we have no control over that. If you got a new email address, please re-subscribe with your new address and you should be good to go.

3. I get your blogs emailed to me, but it doesn’t tell me who the author of that post is. Can you please make this more clear?

That is a great question! Since the RSS feed does not provide an author name at the top of the post in your email, the easiest thing for you to do is to click on the link to that particular post, and the author’s name of that post should be under each title.

4. If I “reply” to a blog post that has been emailed to me through the RSS feed, does that mean I’m leaving a comment on the blog?

Although that seems ideal, it actually does not work that way. If you hit “reply”, you are simply sending an email to the blog. To leave a comment, see the next question. This will help both of us out!

5. How do I leave a comment?

I’m so glad you asked! Each blog post has a title, under each title there is a little brown box that has a number in it. That is where you leave a comment.

Step 1) Simply click on the brown box and it will take you to the current comments.

Step 2) Scroll to the bottom of the comments page, and you will see a box that says, “Leave a Reply”.

Step 3) Under that there is a box for your name, an email address, and a website. You do not have to have a website to comment, only your name and email address are required. Once you’ve filled out the appropriate boxes, type your comment in the empty box provided, then hit the little button that says “Submit Comment”.

Step 4) Once you’ve submitted your comment, it will show up as you’ve typed it out, and out to the side it will say, “Awaiting moderation”. If you see that, you have correctly submitted your comment which means that now either Beth or myself will publish it once we read and approve it. We try to moderate comments in a timely manner, but thank you so much for being patient with us! We moderate them to both eliminate spam, and any unrelated comments or questions. Please know as hard as we try to read every comment, we reserve the right to moderate without reading, especially if we have 500 waiting to be moderated. If you have something that you do not want shared on the world wide web, please be careful when posting, even if you write “please do not publish this comment”, we may not catch it in time. The best way to share something privately is through our contact page here. That is the most appropriate and efficient way to get questions answered and for private matters to stay private matters.

6. How do I sign up for the Summer Bible study?

Tuesday, June 26, will be our official launch day. By then you should have your group assembled and workbooks purchased.  You will sign up by simply commenting and answering a few fun questions about your group.

7. Is there a way I can search for an old blog post?

If you look to the right of the blog, in the right hand column under the “Welcome to the blog of Living Proof Ministries” there is a search bar, there you can type in the blog you are looking for and it should bring up a variety of blogs that match your search.

8. How do I receive the blog in my email inbox?

If you’re looking on the right column again, there is a link that says, “Receive feed via email”, simply click on that and it will  take you to a feed-burner page where you’ll insert your email address. Then you should be good to go!

9. The blog posts seem to take a while to get to my inbox, is there a way I can get it faster so I don’t miss out on the Q&A’s or the giveaways?

This is so common and I am so sorry! I realize you are getting the blog to delivered to your email so that you don’t have to check the blog daily, but we have no control over when you get your blog post from the time we published it. Since it comes through a 3rd party feedburner, the timing of it actually depends on your internet provider and when their server information is updated. This may be the reason your neighbor gets it within an hour while you don’t receive it until that night. Again, so sorry there is nothing we can do for you!

Congrats on making it through the entire post. I hope it was somewhat helpful. We love y’all and want to serve you well!

Share

Living Proof Live – Boise Recap Video

Hey ladies! We have been hearing wonderful things about LPL Boise this weekend. Praise God! Here is the video recap done by our wonderful photographer, Rich. As he stated, be sure you catch the video clip of the mom and daughter taking notes about 1:30. Precious.

Share

Living Proof Live Boise – Ticket Giveaway

Good morning, Siestas! Are any of you headed to the Boise Living Proof Live this weekend? I know Beth, Travis and the rest of the LifeWay team are all headed there today for this blessed event and are thrilled to meet you there this weekend.

By the title of this post, I am sure you can quickly guess what I’m posting for. Thanks to the Siesta Scholarship, we are so happy to offer 20 scholarship tickets to those of you ladies that really want to attend, but at this time just cannot financially afford it.

If that is you and you qualify for this, we will offer the tickets to the first 20 ladies that call the Living Proof  office during regular business hours (8:30 – 4:30 CST). Please ask for Kimberly at 1-888-700-1999 and they will take care of you. If you happen to get the voicemail or call during the lunch hour, please leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

It is such a joy to us that the Lord allows us to do this and we pray you are blessed!

Also, let us know if you’re headed that way!

And lastly, you wouldn’t waste a prayer on Beth or the team this weekend. I know they covet each and every one of them. Would you pray for smooth travel today as well? May Christ be exalted and lives be changed Friday and Saturday.

We love y’all.

Share

2012 Siesta Summer Bible Study Announcement!

Calling all Siestas! It’s mid-May and that means something big around here: it’s time to announce our Siesta Summer Bible Study! Last summer we took a break so we could focus on our Siesta Scripture Memory Team, so, if you’re like me, you are READY to get together in the Word this summer. Woooohooooo!

Let’s take a tad of a stroll down memory lane and review all the amazing studies we’ve already climbed into together: We had a wonderful time studying Kelly Minter’s No Other Gods in 2008, Jennifer Rothschild’s Me Myself and Lies in 2009 and in 2010 we went back to our roots and studied Kelly Minter’s Ruth: Loss, Love & Legacy.

With that said, drum roll please…The book that we’ll be going through together in the summer of 2012 – Kelly Minter’s Nehemiah:  A Heart That Can Break.

 

Okay. So what if I’m crazy about the way she writes and invites us into the Scriptures?? I can’t help myself. We’re going to do this third one together, too. Now, you know how your blog Mama has to go through the study herself before she invites a mass of women into it. I’ve spent the Spring with Kelly in Nehemiah and loved every second of it. I couldn’t wait for it to come out so I made her send me her unedited version so my copy is in a big old white notebook. You’ll get to have the really gorgeous workbook instead. I can hardly wait for us to start it together. You and I have talked before about how summer is a great time to take off from school but it is NOT a great time to take off from the Scriptures. Three months out of an in-depth experience with God through His Word is plenty of time to find ourselves in a pit. No thanks. Let’s commit and hold one another accountable. The most steadfast victories are planned for in advance. I believe that with all my heart so consider this post our plan for summer V-I-C-T-O-R-Y.

Let me fill you in on some details. If you’ve been in summer Bible study with us before, our approach will be very similar.

Who: As in past years, our biggest hope is that you will assemble a group of in-real-life friends, co-workers, family members, acquaintances, church family, Siestas in your town, neighbors, or whatever mix of ladies God puts on your heart. (If per chance you went through this study this Spring, think of leading a group through it this round! I’ve already been through it too but having a Siesta experience is a whole new thing.) If somehow you just don’t have access to a face-to-face group, with Skyping and Face Time and email, you could also experience a fair amount of community in different locations so that’s allowed, too. We’re not looking to be legalistic here. We just want FULL benefits. Yes, you can go solo but, man oh man, try as hard as you can to get at least one partner or you’re liable to have a difficulty seeing it through. Do your best to connect with a couple of girls on line. The accountability and community aspects of this summer experience are vital. Scripture tells us to stir one another up in the faith and to call one another to love and good works and to bear one another’s burdens and pray for one another and remind one another of God’s faithfulness. 1 Corinthians 12:21 says “The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’, nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.'” The Word says WE NEED EACH OTHER.

What: Spend the summer together in the Word! Our workbook (also called a “member book”) is a six-week Bible study on Nehemiah, framed beautifully by a set of seven DVD sessions taught by Kelly Minter. By all means, if you’re able, purchase the DVD’s and take your group through her weekly teachings! But just so you know: all that will be required to participate with us here in Siesta Summer Bible Study is the workbook. We will “meet” every other week to discuss two weeks of our homework. (See further details below.)

When: We are partial to Tuesday since that’s our normal night for Bible study at LPM. So we will launch our SSBS4 on Tuesday, June 26, and “meet” every other Tuesday until August 7th. Yes, you can meet another day of the week if necessary but you’ll see when the time comes that it’s the most fun when we all do it on the same day.

I’ll give you the basic schedule now so you’ll know what to expect but we’ll have much more to say about it closer to the time of our launch. If we don’t answer your questions now, save them and see if they get answered within the next several weeks.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 (1st Mini-Session/LAUNCH/Group instructions)

(In the two weeks that follow our first Mini-Session, you will DO WEEKS ONE AND TWO OF HOMEWORK ON YOUR OWN. If you’re participating in Kelly’s weekly DVD teachings, you’ll need to meet each week with your group rather than every other. We’ll let you guys work those details out on your own)

 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012 (2nd Mini-Session/Group Instructions)

(In the two weeks that follow, DO WEEKS THREE AND FOUR OF HOMEWORK ON YOUR OWN.)

 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012 (3rd Mini-Session/Group Instructions)

(In the two weeks that follow, DO WEEKS FIVE AND SIX OF HOMEWORK ON YOUR OWN.)

 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012 (4th Mini-Session/Conclusion)

 

Where: Wherever you are most comfortable. Kelly’s workbooks are part of the Living Room Series. Her core group meets in her living room and they often share a meal together. (Stud that she is, Kelly puts fabulous recipes in her workbooks. I am fairly confident in saying that you won’t be finding any recipes in my studies, fabulous or otherwise.) So, cook it up, if you can! But, you do what works for your group. You might meet in a different house each week so no one has to keep her house clean all summer. Grin. We’ve had some siesta groups meet in restaurants and coffee shops. Find your groove and stick to it!

Why: A summer lived in Bible study is a summer lived in victory! And, anyway, it’s what we do around here at Living Proof. This ministry exists to invite women – and girls these days, thank You, God, for Lindsee! – into a vivid and lively relationship with Jesus Christ through the study of His Word. (Lindsee is taking a VERY FULL group of local teenage girls through So Long Insecurity this summer so she won’t be leading the younger women through Nehemiah. But many of your girls might enjoy our regular Siesta experience. It just all depends on their maturity level in the Scriptures. We’ll leave that to you!)

How:

1. Get your workbooks! Our good friends at LifeWay have promised to have plenty of them for us, but you won’t want to wait until the last minute. You can find them online on LifeWay’s web site.

2. Assemble your small group. Again, you are more than welcome to participate solo or with an online discussion group, but for the sake of richest fellowship and best accountability, try as hard as you can to enlist three or four other women to meet with you every other Tuesday. Let the ladies know that the gatherings will be low on stress and high on much needed fellowship and rich discussion. Keep the emphasis on a relaxed and refreshing atmosphere where you can develop some wonderful relationships in Christ.

3. Sign up on the blog on our official Launch Day- Tuesday, June 26. We’ll ask you a few fun questions about your group.

4. I will facilitate the study by posting 15-minute videos on the mornings of our meeting days. We don’t do it livestream so that you can meet any time that is convenient for you. I will give you instructions on these blog videos for your discussion times and maybe some activities. All will be based on the previous two weeks of study. The videos will be like the ones you’re used to seeing on this blog – very casual and homemade! The idea is to incorporate the videos into the beginning of your meeting times if possible. In case the video aspect of the study doesn’t work for you, you will also find the discussion questions typed out on the blog.

5. After your gathering, you’ll check back in by telling us something about your meeting via a comment on that same post. Don’t worry if your group can’t meet on Tuesdays. You’ll still be able to find the post and comment throughout the week.

What if:

-I want to use the discussion questions in the back of the workbook instead of the ones on Beth’s videos. Go for it!

-I really, really want to do the study but it’s not in the budget. Email us.

-I’ve already committed to doing another Bible study this summer? That’s great! Stick with it.

-I don’t want to participate but still want to be a part of the blog. We totally understand and want to see you around Siestaville this summer. Know that the Bible Study will only take up one post every other week.

We can’t wait to study the Word with you this summer! Lord Jesus, take us on a wild ride! You are the greatest adventure in all of life.

 

We love you, Siestas!

Share

Village Moms

They say it takes a village to raise a child. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot since our beloved Mrs. Mary Helen passed away this year. I believe with every fiber of my being that I have the world’s greatest mom. Melissa and I didn’t have any reason to go looking for extra women to mother us, but God surrounded our little family with a handful of Jesus-loving women who were like colorful sprinkles on the incredible homemade iced sugar cookies that our mom made.

I’m thinking of Johnnie Haines, who was my mom’s best friend and running buddy for as long as I can remember. We spent more time playing at her house than anywhere else, except for church. Maybe. She’s always  kept us laughing with her wit and sass and she’s taught me a thing or two about raising a son. God bless her for not knocking my head off when I reveled in tattling on her boys.

I’m thinking of Kathy Kolkhorst, whose daughter was my very first friend in kindergarten. She displays Jesus in her joy and she never stops serving others. She was always an outspoken lover of Christ and she helped influence me to follow Him. (She gave me my first Psalty tape!) God bless Mrs. Kolkhorst for all the carpooling and for leading our Brownie troop for years.

Then there’s our dear Mrs. Mary Helen. What a precious saint of God. That woman would bring sacks of groceries, boxes of baked treasures from Three Brothers Bakery, and huge Ziplock bags of homemade cookies to our house when Mom was out of town speaking. Normally she would only be gone one night, but Mrs. Mary Helen wanted to spoil us. And that she did. Her kindness and love were warm and comfy like a perfectly worn-in blanket. She was beautiful on the outside with her pretty white hair and her sweet smile and oh- so-stunning on the inside with her generous spirit.

Women like Aunt Johnnie, Mrs. Kolkhorst, and Mrs. Mary Helen made up our village. Melissa and I were shaped, in part, by the small and large deposits they made in our lives.

I think Village Moms have two important roles – to hold up the arms of other women as they do the work God has given them, and to collectively teach Village Children about the love of Jesus. (As Lindsee said so well, Village Moms don’t have to be called “Mom” to be a mother.)  I can hardly put into words how my Village Relationships have blessed me.  Experiencing life in community with church members in our neighborhood has been rich. This year I’ve learned how to support other moms and how to let myself be supported. It’s a beautiful thing!

I love that several times a week, my kids get to see how my girlfriends love and serve Jesus. Yesterday some of us Village Moms had a semi-spontaneous prayer session (not because we were that spiritual but because we were that needy for Jesus). Three little preschool girls ran circles around us while we prayed and one precious 9-month-old foster daughter sat, bounced, and rolled right in the middle of us. Some of our praying was done with eyes open and there were no few distractions, but my heart was so full.  I know one day Jackson and Annabeth will talk about how Mrs. Crista, Mrs. Lisa, Mrs. Debra and so many other godly friends lived out their faith in front of them.

It is good to be a mother. It is good to bless children, whether they’re yours or they’re in your village. It is good for children to be surrounded, protected, loved and taught by a community of God-fearing women.

There is a Village in India where young girls are being rescued from a future of certain enslavement and exploitation in brothels. As Our Own, a Christ-centered adoptive care ministry, is working tirelessly to provide rescue and lifelong after-care for these precious children. These girls don’t age out of a program and get launched out on their own – they are daughters for life. The girls are living, breathing evidence of God’s power to redeem. Their destiny is changed from one of destruction and misery to a life of love, security, education, and hope in Christ.

In honor of the Village Moms who loved me, carpooled me, coached me, cooked for me, prayed for me, bought Girl Scout cookies from me, gave thousands of hugs, listened to prayer requests on behalf of my pets, taught me in VBS, and celebrated birthdays with me, I am making a Mother’s Day donation to As Our Own. In honor of the Village Moms who are now walking beside me as I mother my children, I am giving sacrificially to see my beautiful little sisters in India thrive and flourish.

Siestas, will you be a Village Mom for our girls in India? They may never see our faces, but they will know our love and concern. It takes a significant amount of financial resources to provide the level of adoptive care that As Our Own gives. Will you make a donation in honor of your mom or of a Village Mom who made a difference in your life? Doing so will make a dramatic difference in the lives of these young girls who are so loved by God.

Happy Mother’s Day, Siestas. Thank you so much for your support.

All my love,

Amanda

 

 

Share

Don’t We Wish Life Was a Whole Lot Tidier?

I love you guys in this blog community so much. And I hope to heaven it goes without saying that I love my extended family. Lord have mercy, oh so much. But every now and then we are challenged to figure out how to demonstrate a balanced love to all of the above. This is my attempt and it will no doubt fall short of the place I wish it would land. I remember Kay Arthur telling a group at a Deeper Still event (in the Q&A segment) how painful it is to be totally misunderstood by something said or quoted out of context. She said, “If I somehow get my words wrong, haven’t we been together long enough for you to know my heart??” It hit me so powerfully.

 

My hope is that, if I somehow miss the mark and don’t find that perfect balance between honoring this flock and honoring my family, I hope so much each entity has been with me long enough to know my heart. I have never been more honored by a series appearing on this blog than my beloved sister Gay’s 7 installments. They were, each one, completely genuine and written in complete honesty. And they all still stand as a testament to the inconceivable power, grace, and healing of God.

 

But her story goes on.

 

And so do the rest of ours.

 

And life is hard, the devil is mean, the flesh gets weak, but the love of God stays strong.

 

I simply write today to say that you will never waste a prayer on anyone around here. We are all flesh and blood, weak in our natural selves, but (many of us) deeply committed to our pursuit of Christ. We’re not playing a game here. He is everything to us. Our joy. Our Strength. Our Refuge when we’re hurting. Our Rock when we’re rocking.

 

We established this blog with an unwavering commitment to remaining real in our witness and in our encouragement and exhortation. Thus far, we have to my knowledge held onto that commitment for dear life and, goodness knows, that’s a praise to God alone. This post is just an attempt to continue in that vein. We want to stay real with you. And what’s real is that Gay’s story is still being written even amid a painful turn of events and by the faithful God who spoke her name before the foundation of the world.

 

And my story is still being written. And I know your hearts well enough to imagine that right now you would say, “And mine, too.”

 

I wish it was tidier but it’s not. Gay has suffered a hard blow. I am heartbroken for her and also just plain heartbroken. One of these days there will be a next chapter from Gay, whether it’s here or elsewhere. It will not negate a single one she’s written. It will simply add to. It also does not negate a single thing I wrote or shared in Mercy Triumphs. I love her so much. I know you love her, too. We do not condemn here. We do not shame. We believe that our God can conquer all, recover all, redeem all, and use all.

 

I wish we could have it more together around here sometimes, sisters, but we remain completely cast upon our Savior and we live one day at a time. I love you immensely and I thank you for your patience with us. We are works in progress, all of us. Would you be so gracious not to press too hard for more details right now? To tell you the truth, they’re in flux and less than clear anyway. Let’s just leave some space for the beautiful healing mercies of God and let most of our talk take place from our knees.

 

You mean something to me. Something down deep. I want so much to serve you responsibly.

 

With much love,

Beth

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share

You Don’t Have To Be Called “Mom” To Be A Mother

The fall of 2003 brought a lot of changes to my little world. I had just graduated from high school that previous May and instead of immediately scampering off to college, I decided to stay in Houston to attend a community college for one year. Although I felt slightly left behind since most of my friends scattered, two things kept me sane that following year, my best friend who also stayed put, and Bible study.

My mom had previously attended a Beth Moore Bible study and although I’d heard of her, and knew her name, I really had no idea the impact she’d later have on my life. That fall semester my mom asked if I wanted to attend Bible study with her, and knowing I had nothing to lose, I agreed to it. So we made our way that September evening to Houston’s First Baptist Church and for the next ten weeks sat through the teachings and tapings of “Living Beyond Yourself”, which also happened to be the very first Bible study I’d ever finished in my life. Mind you, I grew up in the church, but I devoured this study day in and day out. As I spent time alone studying God’s Word, I can honestly say that semester changed the course of my life. I wanted Jesus for myself.

No words could ever convey how grateful I am to my parents for raising me in a church going, godly home. In fact, I learned what a true servant was by watching my mom serve the church joyfully week in and week out, and I don’t see her quitting any time soon. However, it wasn’t until college that I realized while my own mother taught me to love and serve the church, this firecracker of a lady named Beth Moore taught me to how to love Jesus and how to love and study His word. The fact that she had poured out her heart and soul and taken time to mother women across the globe through her Bible studies was not lost on me. I claimed her as my spiritual mother and throughout college introduced her to my sorority sisters a time or two. I was extremely grateful for the gift she was.

Through Beth’s teachings, writings and Bible studies, I know she has not only mothered me, but I know for a fact that is how many of you, our dear siestas, feel about our Siesta Mama. How blessed are we?

Fast forward almost ten years later, in my wildest dreams I would have never guessed the Lord would place me directly under her leadership. I can honestly say that who she is as a Bible study teacher is exactly who she is as a boss, mentor, friend, and God-loving spiritual mother. No pretention, no games, just pure authenticity. I’ve been planted among 11 other spiritual mothers here at LPM and my love tank is over-flowing. I sincerely pray I never take their incredible wisdom for granted.

To put it into simple terms, I feel beyond spoiled.

I have yet to experience motherhood, and although my desire is to one day be a wife and mother, while I’m waiting, the only way I can adequately say thank you to my own mother (who I’m becoming just like) and to Beth as a spiritual mother is to pour myself out to the younger girls I’ve been given the privilege to love and serve. Those with mothers and those without. What I’ve learned is that you don’t need little mouths calling you “mom” to be a mother. You can leave a legacy of mothering with or without birthing your own children.

A little over a year ago I sat at the funeral of a young mother who left behind a 16-year-old daughter and it was at that moment that I realized how much I loved and needed my own mother. What in the world would I do without her?

As Mother’s Day is fast approaching, I am acutely aware that my situation is rare, especially as I think about the little girls in India who’ve been born to mothers enslaved in the brothels. Little girls, their daughters—some as young as seven or eight years old—are being forced into the sex trade. But the cycle of enslavement doesn’t have to continue. These mothers strive to protect their children from this generational fate, and As Our Own offers a way for these brave women to give their children the life they themselves are denied. In Jesus name, As Our Own is an answer to their desperate prayers of rescue. Let’s support them and be a part of the solution and their story.

Siestas, you may not know what an impact you made in the lives of these precious girls last Mother’s Day, but rest assured it was eternal and in fact, you haven’t stopped giving. After our sweet Amanda posted last year, As Our Own heard from hundreds of you from over 45 different states and four different countries and collectively you all helped raise over $27,000. That is amazing!

Maybe you’re like me and you’re in a season of waiting, take this opportunity as one from the Lord and honor and bless a little girl across the world who needs a mother like you to love and provide for her from afar.

To mother is to sacrifice in more ways than one.

To give these girls a spiritual inheritance is to sacrifice financially for them.

Would you consider joining me in honoring your mother, daughter, sister, aunt, spiritual mother or maybe another mother figure of your own by giving to As Our Own? You may never see the fruit of your sacrifice, but the Lord will honor it, and there is no doubt the girls you’re giving value to will know the impact of your sacrifice.

Instead of stressing about the perfect gift, just follow this link to donate to As Our Own and then follow the instructions to download a card that explains the donation you made in her name. I promise, along with a hug, it would mean the world to her.

Your gift is making an eternal difference and impact. Thank you so, so much!

Share

Living and Dying

A little over a week ago I sat in the pews of a nearby Houston church for the memorial service of a high school friend. Next to two girls I’ve known almost fifteen years, I mourned from a place so deep I feared I would drown in all the sorrow. She died at barely 29, a little over two years after she was diagnosed with the beastly disease. She and I were co-captains of our volleyball team. In those days, we had dated boys who were good friends; we went to homecoming and then prom together, in the same big ole party bus. Truth be told, we had not been particularly close or even kept in touch all these years after high school. But now all I could think about was her contagious laughter and that remarkable brightness in her eyes. I sat there in that pew trying to remember the way her hand felt when we high-fived after a good play all those years ago. I thought about how she was a fighter, both on and off the volleyball court. How, with tears, she had pulled me over to the side one day to tell me my dear friend had an addiction to prescription drugs. She wanted me to know the truth. Mostly, I so desperately wished I could have been with her just one more time.

“This sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness, that brings me to my knees.” *

We were asked to wear bright colors, teal specifically, since it signifies cervical cancer, the disease that took her. The family asked that the service be a celebration of life. But I couldn’t even celebrate much less think a coherent thought because I was just so terribly sad. They said she had been ready to go. She had been in unbearable pain. I wiped the tears from my eyes enough to watch the video montage. It physically hurt to look at those photographs flashing across the screen. I felt a piercing in my chest; I felt like I couldn’t properly hold air in my lungs.

The sharp knife of a short life.” *

A few years ago, I heard a story that shocked me at the time. Apparently a woman, maybe in her late forties, had died unexpectedly. The minister, a family friend, went, reluctantly, to relay this bitter news to her elderly mother. Well, right there in front of his eyes, the mother had a heart attack and died. The horror of this story initially surprised me but then a few months ago my Pappaw almost had a heart attack at his own brother’s funeral. Perhaps emotions are more profoundly connected to the physical body than we acknowledge.

Anyway, at the memorial service, the minister who had gotten to know my friend pretty well through her battle with cancer, said that when her life was nearing the end, when she was very much in and out of consciousness, she would suddenly, just out of nowhere, start smiling ear to ear—beaming—even raising her arms and clapping her hands.

What is going on here? My mind raced at the thought.

“When Christ shall come
With shout of acclamation
And take me home
What joy shall fill my heart” * 

Remember, in the fourth gospel, when the sisters sent a message to Jesus?

Lord, he whom you love is ill.

Jesus responds with an assuring word that Lazarus’ illness would not lead to death but rather to God’s glory and He takes his sweet time getting to Bethany. When He finally gets there Lazarus has already been in the tomb four days. “Lord,” Mary said, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus sees Mary and the others weeping over Lazarus, the text says He becomes greatly disturbed and deeply moved. The Greek verbs here are notoriously difficult; scholars puzzle over whether Jesus’ response here is an outburst of anger or a display of grief. Lots of them say Jesus is angry about the perpetual unbelief of Mary and the others. But then something happens. He asks Mary, “Where have you laid him?” Somewhere between where Mary had knelt at Jesus’ feet and Lazarus’ tomb Jesus began to weep.

Why was Jesus weeping?

Had the sadness overtaken Him all the sudden? Here, regardless of whether Jesus was angry about human unbelief or not, Jesus enters the madness of it all, the dizzying pain and confusion of human death. And the total despair of those He loved. Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Maybe Jesus also wept, in part, because he knew His own death was very soon to come. Funerals remind us of our own condition too, that our bodies will indeed be defeated by death before they’re ultimately raised to new life.

At the end of the service last week when the precious family, a family who had been through so much heartbreak, arose to walk out before the rest of us, the father stopped and looked at all of us who were either crying or staring blankly. He suddenly motioned to the hundreds of us gathered in that sanctuary, and, he began to clap. I don’t know why he was clapping. Here we were at the memorial of this man’s beloved twenty-nine year old daughter and he was clapping.

“I am strong, when I am on your shoulders;
You raise me up… To more than I can be.” * 

All I know is this gesture was one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen. I’m not sure how or why it all happened the way it did but we all joined in right with him. Clapping had never felt so good. Maybe we were clapping for Lindsey’s life or maybe we were clapping for life itself. Perhaps we were clapping for all the pain that her parents had to watch, endure, and even survive. Or then again, maybe we were just clapping because God had somehow allowed us to make it through the incredible sadness of that service alive. I suppose most of us were clapping because we still seemed to have some kind of miraculous and collective hope even after all of the dumbfounding and unspeakable suffering Lindsey had endured.

“Faith still creates miracles,” her family assured us.

My two friends and I left the funeral quietly, in something of a daze. But the three of us went out to lunch, nonetheless, and there we toasted our friend. We talked about how brave she was. How she never gave up her faith and how she never grew bitter. We spoke admiringly about how much she just simply loved human existence and how so often we worry about things that just don’t matter one bit. And I couldn’t help but think about the fictional main character, the Reverend John Ames, in Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead, who is dying from a heart condition in the narrative. Knowing he has only a short time left, Ames writes an account for his young son. At one point he says:

 “I have been thinking about existence lately. In fact, I have been so full of admiration for existence that I have hardly been able to enjoy it properly . . . I feel sometimes as if I were a child who opens its eyes on the world once and sees amazing things it will never know any names for and then has to close its eyes again. I know this is all mere apparition compared to what awaits us, but it is only lovelier for that. There is a human beauty in it. And I can’t believe that, when we have all been changed and put on incorruptibility, we will forget our fantastic condition of mortality and impermanence, the great bright dream of procreating and perishing that meant the whole world to us. In eternity this world will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets. Because I don’t imagine any reality putting this one in the shade entirely, and I think piety forbids me to try” (Marilynne Robinson, Gilead).

So the three of us talked and talked about how she really lived and courageously died. We spoke about how strange it felt to us that some of us die young and others of us just go right on living. I hadn’t really noticed until that moment but it turns out it was a uniquely beautiful day. Arguably one of the most beautiful days in Houston all year. I didn’t really even want it to be, honestly. I kind of wanted it to be dark, ugly, and muggy outside. Where was the rain, anyway? Instead, everything was dazzling like a thousand diamonds under a huge bright expanse. Low seventies, a tender breeze, clear skies, birds singing, butterflies dancing, everything blooming; the air everywhere was infused with fragrant magnolia. There in that moment, I couldn’t escape the downright beauty of it all, even if I had intended to.

_________________

Please note the quotations in italics with an asterisk following were all songs played at the memorial service (Angel by Sarah McLachlan, If I Die Young by The Band Perry, How Great Thou Art as performed by Carrie Underwood, and You Raise Me Up by Josh Groban).

 

Share