It’s More than Just a Finger

On Wednesday nights I work with the student ministry at my church. My husband and I have had to create a work around to balance this with our daughters and with his work schedule. It’s can be a tad complicated some weeks, but all-in-all, it seems to have worked—if I get my timing correct.

You see, I have to make sure I don’t lose track of time because there is that precarious balance of prepping and cooking dinner, ensuring naps occur but not too long, then gauging the travel time as to not get caught in rush hour madness that would guarantee that I was late.

Once particular afternoon, I thought I was doing well. The girls were starting to get up and I was getting dinner together so it would be finished cooking well before we had to leave—making one less thing for my husband to have to deal with when he got home. Then…yeah then…I don’t even know what actually happened. Somehow or another, I sliced my finger—badly.

Initially I thought it was nothing major, but I couldn’t get it to stop bleeding. I tried calling my husband, but he didn’t answer. I tried calling my sister-in-law (who is a nurse), but she didn’t answer. I tried calling my mother-in-law (who is also a nurse), but she didn’t answer. I was starting to freak out, but I didn’t want to show that to my daughters so I over exaggerated my perceived calmness resulting in deep breaths and my voice octave raising slightly to ensure my tone stayed gentle and my volume remained normal-ish. I didn’t know what to do. Should I go to the ER? I didn’t want to deal with the ER (and everything that goes with that i.e. the bill). It was just a stupid finger for crying out loud!

I end up getting calls back from everyone, drove myself (with my girls) to a walk-in clinic where my husband had already arrived and is getting the paperwork filled out. My finger was still bleeding.

Because of how it was cut, stitches were out of the question, so they cauterize it (sorry if this story is grossing you out. It has a really good point, I swear.)

I had this massive, bright blue bandage on my left pointer finger and once the numbing drug wore off, it hurt—a lot.

I felt like such a baby because it was just a finger! My husband had survived 4 knee surgeries; my mom had gone through more than that. I gave birth to two, good-sized babies but I’m fussing over a stupid finger?!

So. Annoying.

1 Corinthians 12 says:

“For as the body is one and has many members, but all members of that one body, being many are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were baptized into one body…for in fact the body is not one member but many….if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not part of the body, is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.” (1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 16-20, NKJV)

It’s all too easy to dismiss one measly finger. However, I didn’t realize how the tendons in that finger help the hand and thus, when the finger hurts, the hand is also greatly handicapped.

We do the same with our position—whether in the church or in life. We say things like, “I’m just a mom,” but the impact that a mom can have is eternal. If we don’t fill the position that God has called us to, it will either not be filled or will be filled by someone less adequate.

We are uniquely gifted to do amazing things for God’s kingdom. It is vital that we don’t begin to compare. Just because someone is called to pastor over a congregation, they are not any more important than the person who is called to teach a classroom full of students. The person called to travel overseas to evangelize to nations that have never heard of Jesus is no more important than the person called to serve meals at an inner-city soup kitchen.

We all have our roles, and just like my finger being out of commission became a big deal, just imagine how big of a deal it would be if you chose not to fulfill your calling.

Stop minimizing the role that you play! Stop being jealous of the roles that others play! You have been created to great and mighty things for the Kingdom of God, whether or not you see those results in your lifetime. The impact that you have today could be cataclysmicly significant in twenty, forty, or one-hundred years from now–WHO KNOWS!

My role may only seem to have the eternal significance of a pointer finger on my non-dominant hand. But that finger could type the words that change someone’s mind about their relationship with God. That finger could point to someone in a crowd and remind them of their worth and identity. That finger could be part of the hand that holds the hands of two precious little girls that rock my world. That finger, while little, is vitally important.

So are you.

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Leading by Example

samara and aliyah hug 10-2014Over the past couple of weeks, Aliyah (my two-year-old) has multiplied her words exponentially and transitioned fully into sentences. It is with both joy and exhaustion that I find myself smiling at these developments (I’m positive my ears are going to be dog-tired by the end of each day with how much this kid talks, coupled with the conversations I already have with my four-year-old). But what brings me even greater joy is standing back and listening to the conversations that occur between my two daughters.

Tonight, as Samara went to the bathroom and proceeded to wash her hands, I heard her explaining the process to her sister.

“You go poop in the potty…then you wash your hands like this. Get some soap…”

Her step-by-step guidance all accompanied by a flurry of words by Aliyah-none particularly understandable but all abundantly audible.

The big-sister-little-sister relationship fully engaged and developing. Samara nurtures Aliyah (usually), lets me know when I need to check on her (tattling but letting me know when she is getting in to something-especially when they are supposed to be sleeping-is still somewhat helpful in the long run), and interprets Aliyah’s slurry of words (of course, most of time she interprets the words I understand and simply mimics the ones that are still unclear which isn’t particularly helpful but it’s the thought).

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me and my sister about 25 years ago

I can’t help but think back to the fun I had with my own sister growing up, knowing that while she also tattled on me, more often than not, she looked out for me. She loved me. She was an example for me in faith and in righteousness.

Did I always follow? Haha…no. I have always been independent; wanting to forge my own way and often times neglecting the advantage that came with following someone who had gone ahead of me. But even today, I know that my sister is one of my strongest advocates and fiercest defenders. I pray the same will be true for my girls.

Just as my sister was an example for me to follow, and as Samara steps into the same role for Aliyah, I am brought back to those verses in the Bible where Paul urges us to be imitators of Christ. (1 Corinthians 11:1)

Just as Paul sought to imitate Christ, God has readily placed people in our lives to serve as examples. I have been blessed to have many people throughout my life who have been (and who continue to be) Godly examples for me to strive toward and learn from. I, likewise, strive to live a life that can serve as an example to those who will look to me for guidance– including my daughters.

As we come to a rapidly approaching close to 2014, I want to encourage you to thank the Godly examples in your life. Who has God specially placed in your path to serve as a guiding light to bring your closer to Jesus?

And to those of you who have had such a tremendous impact on my own life (Kristi, my momma and daddy, Megan, Kyle, Laura, Stacey, Judy–just to name a few)–thank you. Thank you for your love and patience, especially in my stubbornness. Thank you for your encouragement and belief in me for so much more. Thank you for pushing me toward Jesus. May God richly bless you all.

And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else. (1 Thessalonians 5:14-15, NIV)

Love your neighbor

There is a lot that could be said right now. There is also a lot that should not be said right now (some of which has already been said). My heart aches for both sides of this issue. As a mom, I can’t imagine how painful it is to lose your child (no matter the circumstances) and then to feel as if there was no justice in his death. As someone who has family and friends who serve (or who have served) as LEOs, I can’t imagine how scary situations like this are and how compounded the stress and weight of the decisions that have to be made in an instant must be. For their family members, how scared they must be to know that there are those who assume the worst of civil servants and look to harm them.

I am not going to express an opinion favoring one side or the other. Honestly, I can’t because I was not privy to the same knowledge as the jury so all I have to base my opinion on is speculation and emotion, neither of which are of any real benefit.

The reality is that I thought very hard about what I could possibly add to this very heated discussion. I recognize that I am a white girl who has never dealt with the harsh realities of being racially profiled in a negative light by a police officer. I have been negatively profiled by people I’ve worked with and customers I’ve dealt with, but I won’t assume to know something that I clearly do not understand. While I have friends of many different races, some of whom are as close as family, and I married someone of a different race, I also recognize that being “color blind” is good in theory but not always practical.

There are so many beautiful things about the differences in race. It breaks my heart that we can’t see past the negatives of each other. Name calling, like thug and racist, do nothing to help the situation and if anything only perpetuate either side’s negative opinion.

Until we can reach a point of empathy for both sides, we are missing the point. This should not be a time to belittle one another or to point fingers. I can’t assume to know the heart and intent of either man involved, or of the jury members, or of any of the people who responded peacefully or not. But I can seek to love like Jesus. He told us to love our neighbors, to love our enemies, to pray for those who persecute us…

If I victimize one and criminalize the other, I am not fulfilling the commandments given by God. Only in love can we see any forgiveness and ultimately reach resolution. Yes, I am over simplifying a painful situation for all who have become involved, but all I can do is to continue to show love toward each person I meet, no matter how similar or different they are from me. Yes, there is still racial prejudices in many parts of our country (toward all races) and that means there is still a lot of work to be done to reach a point of true equality. But again, all I can do is to continue to show love toward each person I interact with.

I hope you all will strive to do the same.

It pains me that I feel the need to add this, but please be aware that while I welcome opposing views, I maintain the right to chose whether or not to publish your comment. If it is in anyway hateful, know that it will not be published. If it is racist (from either side), it will not be published. I am not looking to start more arguments, rather the opposite. I pray that this post will serve to encourage others to remain prayerful, peaceful, and go out of their way to show love in a time of pain and confusion and distrust.

A letter to the church girls.

**I know I already posted this week, but this has be mulling over in my mind for a little while and feel like it needs to be shared today. Please share this with your friends, moms and dads-share this with your daughters, pastors-share this with your students. They need to hear it and believe in their role within their faith and church community. If our girls can’t be confident in their roles within the church, how on earth are they supposed to be able to be confident in their role in the world? It’s time to empower our young ladies the same way we empower our young men. They have a purpose and a calling on their lives and they need to be confident enough to believe in it.**

“Let no one look down on you because you are young.” –or because you are “just” a girl.

To all of the church girls,

It’s occurred to me that we have done a great disservice to you. While I may be only slightly older than you, I am just as responsible for this as those who have come before me. We have allowed our girls to fester in confusion in understanding what our role looks like within the church.

The feminist movements, both in America and around the world, vary widely on what is motivating them. Is it actual freedom from persecution and a lower class? Or is it a method of undermining a God-ordained system that may seem archaic and out-dated?

You need to know that I struggled with this as I was growing up. I was always (overly) confident in who I was as a girl and as I grew up into a woman. But I had no idea what that actually meant when translated into the “church community.” Was I supposed to be more submissive or was I given a voice to speak out? No one ever told me.

Let me justify that with a clarification that my parents always supported my tenacious nature. They nurtured a strong-willed little girl and encouraged me to learn how to harness that gift to be able to use it for God’s glory—not my own.

When I say that no one ever told me how this translated into my faith, I am referring to the church as a whole.

You see, girls, we are being pulled in two very drastically different directions. Like many other polarizing topics, the church doesn’t always do the best job in guiding us as the Bible leads.  There are some views that would tell you that a woman should never speak in the church. After all, there are verses that appear to support this stance. There are others who stand by the cultural norm that views male leadership as something that was only in place to bolster the male ego and that women should take over with force if men aren’t willing to give up that leadership role.

But it’s not that simple. God did establish a hierarchy between men and women, but not to diminish the importance or capabilities of women, rather to encourage it and replicate the hierarchy that is between Christ and His church.

So where does that leave us? I believe that it leaves us with a bunch of amazing female leaders who are too scared to step up into the roles of leadership that God has specially designed for them.

YES, women can lead men.

YES, women can be given a powerful word that is relevant to more than children and women’s groups.

YES, God can (and will) use women to affect the hearts of many, including those of men.

We are blessed and gifted in so many ways. YOU are blessed and gifted in so many ways.

Sweet girl, hear me when I say, that you can make a difference for the Kingdom of God. It’s what you were created to do. Women in the Bible, while culturally submissive, were strong and vitally important to the story that we read and that we are still a part of.

Without Esther standing up for her people despite the risks, the Hebrews would have been destroyed at the hand of a selfish and spurned man.

Without Rahab, the spies would have never made it out alive.

Deborah was a prophet, judge, and a strong leader.

Priscilla was monumental in helping build the early church.

Believe in your calling. Know that God will equip you to serve Him in amazing ways. Stay humble before Him and be gracious to the male leaders who are trying their best (I promise they really are doing the best they can).

Don’t shrink back from opportunities to speak truth as God leads you. Trust Him to create your platform and know He can overcome any prejudices that exist. But always act like a lady and respect everyone, no matter how they treat you.

I am praying for all of the future female leaders that are in the church. I am so excited to see how God uses you to reach your generation. You can be beautiful and humble and powerful all at the same time.

Love from a fellow church girl.

Why Me? {Romania Devotional 1}

Whenever I go on a mission trip (or other adventure that I feel God has called me to), I like to take the days right before and double check that my heart is in the right place.  I try to focus my devotions and quiet times around the upcoming trip and evaluate myself to ensure that I am looking at the eternal reasons for the journey as opposed to the selfish ones (traveling the world, break from the norm, adventure…all good things but not eternal).

My heart today settled on one main question: WHY ME?

Why did God call ME to be a part of THIS trip?

1 Corinthians 12:4-7

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
Everyone who has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior has the Spirit living in them.  With that comes what scripture calls gifts of the spirit.  Like this verse says, everyone has a different gift but all from the same Lord and for “the common good.”
This chapter continues,
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. …If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body. (v. 12, 17-20)
God didn’t want us to have the same gifts.  It kind of defeats the purpose.  We are each gifted differently to work together and to further the Kingdom of God.
With that in mind:
1. What gifts do you have?  How can you envision them being used in Romania?
2. What can you do to support your teammates and their gifts to work together as “one body”?
3. What steps do you need to make before we leave to shift the focus of your heart onto how God can use you on this team?
Closing scripture to pray over.
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building. (1 Corinthians 3:7-9)
It’s not about us…it’s all to bring God glory and reach others for his kingdom.  It is about the eternal.