Monday, October 31, 2011

Prayers: Atchison & Agriculture

Today's post isn't funny or witty. It isn't meant to be convicting or profound. It's simply a request for prayers. 

On Saturday night at about 7:00pm a grain elevator in Atchison, Kansas exploded. At the time of writing, three people are dead. Three are still missing (presumed dead) and two are hospitalized.

Unforeseen tragedies happen every day throughout our cities, nation and world. So why is this one so different for me? 

1. I am from Kansas. 
2. I have a deep appreciation for American agriculture.
3. Several K-state College of Ag grads work in that region and industry 
4. One of my childhood friends, Carla, works in Atchison. At a grain elevator. 

Carla was our first friend when we moved to southeast Kansas in 1996. She babysat my sister and I. Her family lives right up the road from us. Her dad Larry leases and farms our ground for us. I hadn't talked to Carla in quite a while, but when I heard about the explosion, my heart started pounding and I began to pray. 

I didn't know for sure which company she was employed with... Due to my internet research, I determined that this deadly explosion happened at the Bartlett Grain Company. I called my mom to see if she had heard if Carla was ok. 

It was a tense few hours for all of us on Sunday morning. Mom tried to call her parents, but they didn't answer their cell or home phone. Not good.  I was trying to concentrate on our church service here in Georgia, but my mind was racing because we hadn't heard anything. Every time I started thinking negative thoughts, I prayed harder and a voice in my head said "GET BEHIND ME, SATAN!" 

The last song we sang in worship yesterday was "On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand." I knew that while the tragedy in Atchison was indeed devastating and people were mourning, that God knew what he was doing. I had to stand on Christ, the solid rock... because all other ground is sinking sand. 

Halfway into the church service, we received word from Carla's parents that it wasn't her elevator that exploded. She was ok. While I was relieved for a moment to know my friend was safe, I remembered the victims' families, friends and other elevator employees. I continued to pray. 

This event might not mean a lot to some of you out there... especially if you don't really give a second thought to where you food comes from when you are in the grocery store. But the military isn't the only career that involves sacrifice... putting food on our table has a much higher price than what we see in the grocery store.

I encourage you to take a second and remember that God is a God of comfort, and while we might not know the answers as to WHY things happen on this earth, we can stand on Christ, our solid rock. Also, there is a lot of power in prayer... so today, let's unite, and pray... for Atchison and agriculture. 

With a full heart, 

"Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge." --Psalm 62:5-7

Friday, October 28, 2011

Just Breathe

STOP. Right there.

Don't move. Take a deep breath. In the nose and out the mouth... Seriously. Do it.  That wasn't good enough. Try again. We aren't moving on til you do. In the nose, out the mouth. 

Ahhhhh... Feel better? I do. 

Honestly, I didn't know if you felt "un-good" to start with... but sometimes life can get hurried. Like, a lot. Busyness isn't really biased to one day of the week, and stress can strike at anytime. Yes, even Fridays. 

So today is all about BREATHING. Stopping to chill, even if it is only for 35 seconds at your desk at work or 8 minutes while your kid takes a nap. Sometimes a little breathing is all we need. 

I kind of forgot to breathe a bit this week. Well, not literally, because otherwise I wouldn't be writing this. I was so rushed, brain overflowing with things to do before red phase pick-up and departure to Kansas, homework, church work, emotions, GAH. It was choking me down. But then, God reminded me to breathe. Literally. 

Thursday every week at church, we take a one hour "break" from work to breathe and listen to God. It's called CRAVE. Some people pray/meditate, others journal, some (like I chose to this week) just SIT. Seriously. Not playing with my phone, not writing reminders of things TO DO on my hands. Just SIT. And breathe. So I did. 

I started my hour time asking God to clear my cluttered brain. Then I sprawled out, facedown on the cushy pew-like chairs. I found a comfortable spot to rest my head on my arms, closed my eyes, and started to breathe. Slowly. Deeply. 

For the 45 minutes, I just laid there, stretched out. There was no danger of me falling asleep, because I am terrible napper. I breathed and prayed. I breathed and relaxed. I breathed and listened. Every time the cluttery  thoughts tried to show back up, I ask God to hush them up and cast them out for our alone time in the sanctuary. And he did. 

When I got up and we all gathered back together for group reflection, I felt like a new woman. My head was clearer. My eyes weren't swimming anymore. My heart rate was at a level that it was supposed to be. Amazing what breathing can do for a human huh? 

Now, I like to be busy and some may ask if there really is a danger to being too busy. Well, don't take it from me, check out Daniel 10:17 "How can I, your servant, talk with you, my lord? My strength is gone and I can hardly breathe.” Oh snap. That's pretty clear huh? If we are tired, distracted and overwhelmed, we lose strength and ability to talk and focus on the love and glory of God. 

He commands us in Psalm 46:10 to "BE STILL... and know that I am Lord." If we are running around, holding our breath from one activity to the other... who will we worship? I bet it won't be The One. 

It's Friday. Take a few moments to walk away (either physically or mentally) from the hurried things in this world. If you say you don't "Have time" then you are a prime candidate for this experiment. Stop. Don't move... and JUST BREATHE. 

Fully Oxygenated (for now,) 

"Let everything that has breath praise the LORD." -Psalm 150:6

Thursday, October 27, 2011

If You Can't Say Something Nice...

Today's post is brought to you by: 

1) Advice from my mama
2) The movie Bambi
3) My personal life frustrations 

Quite a list huh? This should be interesting. 

Ok, we all have to admit we get frustrated. Annoyed. Ticked off. Irked. Fired up. Angry. It happens-- it's a part of life. The triggers for these things cover the entire gamut: family, jobs, kids, church, pets, laundry, businesses, customer service, traffic etc. For me, especially this week, it has been a combination of my masters homework, miscommunication and the United States Army. 

The combination of some slightly icky assignments from school in my LAST first week of my masters program (yay!) coupled with some crossed wire of communication with my honey as well as some scheduling challenges from the army have falling in the category of frustrating, annoying, anger-inducing... well you get my drift. I was upset. ARGH. 

But the question is: What do we do with those feelings and frustrations when they surface? Unfortunately, some folks choose to blow it out of proportion... and make it a public drama. In one word: Facebook. (Disclaimer: this post might turn into a soapbox post... or more appropriately based on my vocation, "preaching.") 

Social media is no place to air the dirty laundry, profanities and unfiltered anger we experience. When these challenging experiences hit me square in the face, my first urge literally was to Tweet about it and post on Facebook. What the heck? How did I get wired THAT way?? I had some great snarky, sarcastic ideas planned to give the offending parties a piece of my mind for all the digital world to see. But I have made it a personal policy NOT to be intentionally negative. No matter HOW fired up I am. 

This is where the lesson from my Mama and the movie "Bambi" comes in... take the great words of Thumper the baby rabbit... (Check out the youtube link here for a lil blast of childhood past.) 


I had that little animated advice circling in my brain for days. I thought to myself "If I post this snarky message on Facebook, what good is it going to do? It's going to make me feel better for about 10 seconds... but it won't encourage anyone. It won't highlight the love of God." So I didn't post my grumbly thoughts. Instead, I took the advice of Thumper... and stayed silent. 

Now I'm not saying that you have to keep your personal life under lock and key, guarded with no hope of help from the outside. No, no, no. We all have to vent. But doing it on Facebook probably isn't the most productive (or safe OR productive) place to do it. Even when I am feeling down, I still try to post something that might lift others (self included) up, like an encouraging Scripture or even asking others to pray for me. 

Instead of Facebooking our issues, why don't we just FACE it head on? Take it up with someone who can handle it... God, perhaps? He is a big boy and can handle our anger, frustrations, annoyance etc. I sometimes have to beg Him to change my attitude towards the whole situation and release me from my selfish, sinful heart that is only seeing the here and now problems and not the there and later awesome potential. 

It says in Ecclesiastes 7:8-9 "The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. Do not be quickly provoked in your spirit, for anger resides in the lap of fools." I don't know about you, but I would rather not be known as a fool... and don't really need extra stuff in my lap. 

Next time Satan is in your grill, urging you to spread HIS messages of frustration, selfishness, sin, anger, annoyance, to the world take it up with God instead of ALL your friends on Facebook and ALL your followers on Twitter. Instead, ask your friends on Facebook to pray for you. Choose those who you vent to wisely-- like a close friend, parent, puppy, or even that discount punching bag in the garage. 

Don't be known as a "fool" or bring others down... be real with the world, but ask God what you should do about it first. When it comes to publicly venting, remember to take the advice of Thumper... "If you can't say something nice... don't say nothing at all!" 

Forgoing Facebook Frustration, 


"A fool gives full vent to his anger, but a wise man keeps himself under control." -- Proverbs 29:11

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

No Fear Here

Fear is... well, scary. (Duh, right?) There are a lot of different types of fears, big, little, valid, irrational, profound, imaginary etc. But being humans, it seems to be a part of our life. But it's amazing how relief comes to alleviate our fears so awesomely and suddenly-- in the most surprising places. 

Yesterday was my first time to do staff devotional at our weekly staff meeting. I was excited, and a smidgen apprehensive, almost kind of intimidated. I mean seriously, our equipping staff (aka pastors/minister-ish people) totaled it up a couple weeks ago and determined that they have 99 years of ministry experience between them. Yeah, I'm going on like 4 months. No pressure, right? 

I knew my devotional day was approaching, so I started to pray for God to reveal to me what to say. Each time I would start to feel butterflies (aka fear), I would pray even more. Over the past two weeks, He has led me down this bunny trail that I personally wasn't sure made sense... but again, who I am I to question? 

So I shared His message. He tied together the lessons I learned from the movie Courageous (for more info, check out See and Be Courageous) which lead me  sharing a previous post entitled No More Cornflakes when I discussed the occasional "flakiness" of my faith.  Fear seems to be the opposite of faith. Whenever I take my eyes off of Him, I get scared... What do I get scared about? I get scared about whatever little seeds Satan plants in my brain. (Big jerk!) Some of those fears include (or used to include at some point in my life): 

Fear of abandonment/loneliness
Fear of betrayal 
Fear of disease
Fear of death (before I knew Christ)
Fear of failure
Fear of not being a good wife
Fear of a variety of little dinky stuff that really doesn't matter but Satan decides to mess with my head anyways

Look closely... the inscription is starting
to wear off, but it is still there...
 "No fear in love..." 1 John 4:18
As I have previously discussed, I wear a ring everyday that says "No Fear in Love" from 1 John 4:18. In the context of the devotional I shared, it wasn't necessarily about the earthly love of a man and woman-- but rather that of Our Father and ourselves. His love IS perfect... and it says in that verse that there is no fear in love for perfect love casts out fear. What an awesome promise! God loves us... so what should we be afraid of?

However, it's not quite that easy to turn our fears into faith simply by remembering that God loves us. Instead, it will require prayer. Pray specifically for God to turn your fear of ______ into faith that ______. This method can cover all kinds of fears, big, little, in between. Here are some examples: 

God, please turn my fear of abandonment/loneliness into faith knowing that you are always here and never leave me. 

God, please turn my fear of failure into faith that you give me strength to accomplish things within your will. 

God, please turn my fear of not being a good wife into the faith that you called me to serve as an army wife, you are faithful and will help me succeed in the name of Christ. 

As my devotional time drew to a close, I shared a thought that God had given me on the difference between bravery and courage. While they are practically interchangeable in Webster, they are very different in a spiritual context. 

Bravery comes from the Spanish word "Bravado" and reflects more of a knee-jerk reaction... something you do without thinking or motivation, but you just do it. Courage, on the other hand comes from the French word meaning "Heart." It is a deeper kind of feeling, often pre-mediated, rooted in love and faithfulness. Cool huh? 

Think about and maybe even consider making a list of your fears... Pray to turn your fear of _____ into faith that ______. Meditate on God's love for us and root the actions of your heart in love and faithfulness... Be courageous in faith and live a life with no fear here. 

Here's to no fear, 

"Do not tremble, do not be afraid. Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago? You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me? No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.” --Isaiah 44:8

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

True love is...

I can think of a variety of descriptions for "True Love," specifically within marriage. Some of these ideas include rewarding, challenging, refreshing, educational, hilarious, frustrating, growth-oriented, blessed... Oh, and we can't forget that true love in marriage is precious (both truly precious and also sometimes a little sarcastically precious.) 
We've already talked about the aspects of the first year of marriage that Brandon and I have experienced in a previous post entitled A Butterfly Year. But I was reminded today (and for the last year or so) how truly precious true love can be, especially within our marriage. 

Some might say that true love is small acts of kindness, roses, chocolates, hugs and kisses. While all of those things are great (and I love them all) here are a few different ideas about what true love is for us. 

True love is... a husband and wife constantly debating the appropriate temperature  on which to set the thermostat, and still being able to suck it up when the "other" temperature wins out for the day. 

True love is... not completely freaking out to the point of hysteria and/or silence when a wife realizes that her husband has used her toothbrush simply because his bathroom was "too far away." 

True love is... a husband that remembers to roll the garbage out to curb on Thursday nights without being asked. 

True love is... a wife "babysitting" her husband's brewing/fermenting batch of beer that has to be kept cool and adding ice to it while he has overnight staff duty without being asked. 

True love is... receiving a text from a husband asking you to ice his fermenting beer and the wife has already completed the task 10 minutes before. 

True love is... a husband grilling a steak willingly and hesitantly steaming some veggies for supper while a stressed out wife works on homework/church stuff.

True love is... a wife submitting to weekly trips to Buffalo Wild Wings. 

True love is... a husband supporting a wife's fitness goals, while at the same time reminding her that she is beautiful just as she is. 

True love is... a husband trying new foods cooked by his wife, even though he initially said he wouldn't like it-- then being humble enough to admit it was awesome. 

True love is... going to church together whenever the army schedule allows it. 

True love is... doing each other's laundry and dishes, no matter who's turn it is. 

True love is... an army wife remembering to be frustrated with the army and not her husband when schedules are jacked up and less than productive decisions are made. 

True love is.... a husband patiently holding his wife while she cries for a reason that cannot specifically be determined. 

True love is... a husband and wife willing to lose valuable sleep to talk out issues just to avoid going to bed angry. 

True love is... praying together for others and remembering to turn to God in prayer in the middle of an argument. 

True love is... awesome to experience, blessed by Christ and an opportunity to grow together. 

This list might be a little bit unorthodox... but for us, it's all true (and precious.) Another sign of true love is sacrifice. The greatest form of sacrifice that I can think of was the body of Jesus Christ-- what an incredible representation of true love! I am not only thankful to be in a marriage that is based on true love, but also in a relationship with Christ that is the epitome of True Love.

So what IS true love? True love is sacrifice. True love is Christ. 

Truly, Madly, Deeply, 

"God, God, a God of mercy and grace, endlessly patient—so much love, so deeply true—loyal in love for a thousand generations, forgiving iniquity, rebellion, and sin." -- Exodus 34:4 (MSG)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Payin' it forward: Literally

God shows up in the most random places. Sometimes, it just leaves you flustered and happy and overwhelmed, all at the same time. And it's a good thing. Here's what went down...

Last Thursday night, I drove to Atlanta to retrieve our Aunt Rita from the airport (Sidenote: Huge airports kind of stress me out when I have to drive-- I had to make three laps around the terminal before I could locate her and the cops would stop blowing their whistle at me. But I digress.) 

So I picked up Rita and Brandon had to work on Friday (of course... apparently on Sunday too, but that's another blog post.) In an effort to be semi-sorta entertaining, Aunt Rita and I were out briefly exploring Columbus. I have definitely determined I was a better hostess/tour guide in Kansas, so in my desperate attempt to at least get us out of the living room, we went to a grocery store called Fresh Market. It is an interesting place, with more rando foods than you can imagine. I grabbed a few items including two avocados, some  cashews, pistachios, couple bags of salad,  and a bottle of chocolate-mint flavored water (told you it was random.) 

I got to the check out and there were two people in front of me... One lady currently checking out, and a dude behind her looking more impatient than necessary. (Ironic that I just wrote about patience twice last week.) Apparently this older-ish lady was having issues with her payment method. She swiped her card and it took about $7.53 off her total... but the rest of the amount wouldn't go through. The cashier (Cayce) and shift manager (I'm guessing) David were trying to figure out what the issue was... 

It was clear she was getting flustered and embarrassed. But let's be honest-- we have probably all been there: we have ran our groceries through and realized we left our card in the car (or worse, at home) or our card is being exceptionally dumb that day. The guy in front of me gave up and stomped impatiently over to another line. I continued to wait as the trio tried to negotiate the situation. 

Turns out that the lady has a small-ish limit of money available to spend per day on that particular card and she realized that she made a bigger purchase at a previous stop... so her card wouldn't pay the entire amount, only $7.53. She was stressing out, and before I realized what was going on, I heard my own voice: 

"What's the remaining total on her bill?" 

Whoa. What just happened!?! Was that ME speaking?? The cashier, manager and stressed customer looked at me with wide eyes. David simply replied "Fifteen dollars." 

"I will get it." (Again, what this me speaking?) The Holy Spirit was in my grill and taking over. My heart was POUNDING. Of course the customer started to protest, but before she could stop me I stepped over and swiped my card. It was just $15. I spend that on less than half a tank of gas... And had just purchased a cheapo pair of sunglasses at Target for that. What is $15? Practically nothing. The whole time, I was remembering that God "pays you back" and makes it all equal in the end. 

I swiped my card (much to my surprise and everyone around me) and I thought the customer was going to start crying. She was stuttering excitedly for me to give her my name and number so she could "pay me back." I told her not to worry about it... but said "Pay it forward in the name of Jesus Christ." 

At that point, you would have thought we were on the Price Is Right and I just said that she won a new car. She scooped me up in a bear hug and jumped up and down excitedly saying "Bless you, bless you!" 

I was still overwhelmed (and confused) with what just happened and how God had taken over. David and Cayce were just standing there with gaping mouths/smiles and big, sparkling eyes. The customer gathered her groceries and departed. 

I thought that was the end of the story and was hoping that my face would start to return to it's "normal" color (it was flushed red with excitement) and that my hands would stop shaking. But as usual, God wasn't done. 

I scanned my groceries and Cayce said that what I did was really nice. I just shrugged and said it wasn't a huge deal. My last item beeped across, Cayce hit the total button and said $24.99. I swiped my debit card, then David took his big deal manager badge and beeped it. Cayce looked surprised and said "Your new total is $9.99."

Wait. What? David (prompted by God, apparently) took the $15 off MY bill because I had paid $15 for the lady in front of me. I mean, I knew God was going to even things all up (eventually, either financially or otherwise) but I TOTALLY didn't expect Him to do it 30 seconds later. 

Look closely at my receipt... can you see it?
God's fingerprints-- in the form of $15. 
"A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed."--Proverbs 11:25

I encourage you to keep your eyes/hearts open today, tomorrow and until the end of life for ways that you can show the love and share the life through Christ via generosity and paying it forward. Today is a great time to start. Do it! It will pay you back ten-fold-- I promise!

I paid it forward (by God's hand.) I hope the stressed customer paid it forward to someone else. I hope that David and Cayce remembered it and knew it wasn't me but it was God, and they continue to pay it forward as well... 

God paid me back... He not only "returned" my $15 immediately, but He gave me a full heart, a new life... 

And a blog post topic.  

What an incredible chain of payin' it forward... Literally. 

Not breaking even, but coming out way ahead, 

"Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to."-- Deuteronomy 15:10

Friday, October 21, 2011

Born to be Wild

Sometimes, you just need to slow down... and laugh. 

This week has been surprisingly bonkers for me. What I though was going to be relatively chill since I am on "school break" for a week became working overdrive at home and work. But hey it's Friday... So why not take a few moments to CHILLAX and laugh? 

I am a big fan of animals. In fact, I was planning on being a veterinarian until midway through my junior year of college when I discovered that I work even better with people than I do with animals. (That would have been handy info two chemistry classes and one and half physics classes prior. SIGH) But in my attempt to relax and enjoy what I hope to be a calm(er) Friday, I wanted to briefly share with you some "animal fun." 

First of all, God created animals. YAY! The creation of animals ranks right below people and about parallel with chocolate and Diet Dr. Pepper for me. ;-) Genesis 1:25 says: 

"God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good."

It WAS good. And still is. I enjoy watching, petting, training, and cuddling with animals (especially our puppy Justus, but that has been established in previous posts.) Today, I want to take a walk on the wild side... with animals. 

Check out this Youtube video... it always cracks me up and brings joy to my heart. Here's to some relaxed Friday cheer! 

Pretty grand huh? I always crack up hardcore at the chipmunk part! And I am not sure who Alan and Steve are, but apparently they are pretty popular. 

Laughter is such a great way to relieve tension, stress, frustration. Get some laughs out today. God made the animals. God made laughter.  And it was good. So thank Him for that blessing. Take a walk on the wild side!

Born to be "wild" (at least today,)

"I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the creatures of the field are mine." Psalm 50:9-11

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Praying as a Leader

Christ Community Church Youth Presentation Week Two: DOMINATED. (By God!) Boom. America. 

This is the text message I sent my boss Kelli last night after I finished presenting my second week of teaching to our church's youth and youth leadership team. Dontcha just love it when God shows up and meets you there? Ahhhh...

Anywho, last night's topic stemmed from "Praying as a leader." Much like last week's servant leadership, I could have probably done an entire day-long workshop on the topic. But thanks to God's grace, He gave me the words to share it in about 30-ish minutes. (For a deeper look at prayer, check out A Little Big Conversation) Last nights presentation  went a little something like this (Not word for word, obviously... but you catch the drift.) 


Before we begin, let's  travel back in time to my youth. Imagine me somewhere between 10 and 15 years ago (which would make me about 11 to 16 years old.) Put some birdnest bangs in the picture and braces... Got it? Ok.

I was saved when I was 11… and unsure where to go from there. But I did pray. And my prayers went a little something like this: 

Dear God—
Please help me get to sleep tonight. Don’t let me worry about dying. Help me do good in school. Oh, and um, may your will be done… as long as it doesn’t hurt me or isn’t painful. I love you so much. AMEN. 

God yearns to hear us speak and talk to him, especially through prayer. Sure, there were a lot of areas of improvement in my prayer life. But I do know that he appreciated my efforts. While my methods of praying have changed dramatically in the past few years, I wouldn’t be where I am at now if I had not received some guidance on how to pray—especially as a Christian leader.

Think to yourself for a moment the last time you prayed… Was it today? Yesterday? Last year? Never? What did it look like? How do you feel about your prayer life right now?

The great news is that no matter when you last prayed or how you felt about it, God isn’t displeased… but TODAY is an opportunity to start new— to move forward with courage and excitement as we learn to pray as Christian leaders!

“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” –Ephesians 6:18 

Praying is one of the most important things you can do as a leader! 

So let's get down to the nitty gritty details... The first few are relatively simple.
  • WHO can pray? ANYONE! Every single one of you can talk to God. You are his beloved daughters and sons. Our father wants you to feel comfortable talking to him! 
  • WHO can we pray for? ANYONE! Again, you can pray FOR anybody—believers, nonbelievers, your family, strangers on the street. If you want a "real life example" from my commissary adventures, check out Puppies & Potato Salad As leaders, consider specifically praying for your own followers, including other youth (or just people in general) within the community and school, that they might see the light of Jesus within your heart and want to follow you in the direction of the cross. Consider also praying for other leaders within our church family such as the ministers and your youth leadership team. 
  • WHEN can we pray? ANY TIME! Pray when it works for you… While some people want complete quiet and it is encouraged to have a few quiet times with the Lord, we all can be reassured that God is listening 24/7. We can pray in the morning before or after we wake up, at mealtimes, on a walk, before bed… any or all of the above anytime! 
  • WHERE can we pray? ANY WHERE! Just like when we can pray, God doesn’t care where you are when you talk to Him. I have found myself personally praying in random locations throughout the day: In bed before I get up, after breakfast when I have my quiet time, driving in my car, going on a run. Talk to him... He's listening!
  • WHAT should we pray for? ANYTHING! Are you noticing a trend here? Praying can be simple if you allow it to be. If we are praying sincerely, pouring out our hearts to God, there really are any wrong things to pray for when it comes to “what.” That being said, remember God’s words in Scripture. Example: you can CERTAINLY pray for provision as a Christian/leader dealing with finances, but remember The Work from Matthew 6:24-- "No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money." Make sure to keep our priorities focused on HIM. Ultimately, we should trust him to give us what we need as leaders to be successful—it won’t always be easy. But it will be worth it! 
  • HOW do we pray? WITH OUR HEART!  Praying doesn’t have to be fancy with “thees” and “Thous” and “doests”… they just need to be from our hearts. They shouldn’t be robotic, the same thing every single day just because you have always done it like that. Do it sincerely! (Reference back to my robot prayer that I said when I was younger...) 
So we have the basics. Now, let's dig a little deeper. Consider when you pray to use the acronym ACTSL (said like Axel... but spelled different ;-) 
  • ADMIRATION or ADORATION: God is amazing, awesome, all-powerful—let Him know it!
  • CONFESSION: This is an opportunity to clear your heart—remove any barriers between you and the Father. (It could be sin, conviction, doubt, junk of the world etc) 
  • THANKSGIVING: Approach Him With an attitude of Gratitude! 
  • SUPPLICATION: Present your requests… Petition Him! Here are a few "ideas" or suggestions to pray for... 
    •  Pray for others (especially our followers, fellow leaders and the “lost”) 
    • Pray for God’s will to be done … Sincerely! (Not like I said in my prayers of youth ) Pray with courage. (See yesterday's post) He's kind of a big deal... and knows the bigger picture. Trust him. 
    • Pray for the needs for self: This is where you can ask God for what you need, maybe even what you want… Ideas include: Worries, Strength during a specific time, discernment (which is a fancy word for good judgment or understanding) guidance, empowerment, hope, comfort, humility, forgiveness, righteousness, conquering sin, the list is endless!
Then finally on "How" to pray... 
  • LISTEN for a RESPONSE: Don’t be afraid of a little silence. It is an opportunity to be open to hear what God wants to say to you. And don’t be disheartened if God doesn’t grant your “requests.” He knows what we need… I’ve have often heard that God always answers prayers: Yes, Not yet, or I have something better in mind. Think about it... true huh? 
Last but not least...
  • WHY do we pray?
    • To be OBEDIENT 
    • GLORIFY GOD! It shows that we have faith in Him 
    • INVITE the POWER of God into our lives – prayer provides closeness with the Lord, and we can enter into His presence. 
    • It CHANGES us --Prayer shapes us… we are changed by being in His Presence. It helps us to keep our eyes open for the needs of selves and others. It empowers us, motivates us, softens us (in a good way) strengthens us... Pray can be such a powerful change agent!!
When we pray as leaders, we have to ask God to lead us first. He is the one driving us, guiding us, directing us. And he does it all with such a deep love and profound knowledge that we cannot match. However, if we remember WHY we pray, then he will empower us to accomplish His will by leading others in our every day walk with Christ. I saw this quote one day at the gym as a decal on the back window of a soldier's truck... It had a soldier bowing down with some crosses and said “I can stand up to anything when I fall on my knees.” 

Let me say it again: 

“I can stand up to anything when I fall on my knees.” 

Ok, we have discussed who, when, where, what, how and why we pray. So what’s the next step? We can pray for God to help us all to learn to pray! Praying to pray! There is A LOT of power within that!  God wants to hear you speak… So speak to Him, and remember to keep on praying, because we can stand up to anything when we fall on our knees! 
These are the nifty take-home bookmarks I made to help
our youth remember how to "Pray as a leader." 

Standing up, on my knees, 

"But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit." --Jude 1:20

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

See.. and Be... COURAGEOUS!

I am not now and do not predict that I will ever become a movie critic. But that's the great part about doing your own blog-- you can kind of write about what you want. Definitely exercising that privilege today! :-)

This last Sunday night, my beloved and I went to see the movie "Courageous." Here are the reasons that this is "big" news: 

1) We almost never go to the movies. 
2) When we do go, we usually go in the middle of the afternoon or early evening, not prime time. Apparently, movies are expensive. 
3) We actually agreed that we both wanted to see the movie (I was already convinced that I wanted to go, but he agreed after seeing the movie trailer played at church) Oh, and sidenote on this point: We RARELY agree on movies/TVs... So this was a big deal. (Granted, if cinematic adventure selection is the biggest rift in our marriage, I'm ok with that.) 

So we went. Due to our slightly modified Sunday schedule, we ended up going late... but our hang out time is running out as he picks up cycle in a couple of weeks, I will rarely see him and I will depart for a visit to KS. So we went anyways-- and it was AWESOME. 

I don't want to give away too much of the story line because I would hate to ruin it... and while some pieces of the movie are kinda-sorta predictable (show me a legit movie that isn't semi-foreshadowing) it provides a lot of great surprises and tugs on the heartstrings. You might cry... I did, two tears, and it took a lot of focus to keep it together and avoid getting hysterical. (Dang Holy Spirit tears!) But feel free to let it all out-- the girl sitting in front of me was sobbing pretty hilariously ;-) 

Oh, and one other thing before I get to the "meat" of this post... "Courageous" really stepped up the quality of acting, script and believability when compared to other Christian films like "Fireproof" and "Facing the Giants." (Both of those films were great too-- but the acting was a little eh.) 

The bottom line is that it is a "Christian" flick, and has a great message about fathers stepping up and committing to their families, biblically based. (Even though we aren't parents to anyone but a puppy yet, it was still inspiring for both of us!) The men in the movie stepped forward... courageously... and signed a resolution. It went a little something like this: 

I do solemnly resolve before God to take full responsibility for myself, my wife, and my children.

I WILL love them, protect them, serve them, and teach them the Word of God as the spiritual leader of my home.

I WILL be faithful to my wife, to love and honor her, and be willing to lay down my life for her as Jesus Christ did for me.

I WILL bless my children and teach them to love God with all of their hearts, all of their minds, and all of their strength.

I WILL train them to honor authority and live responsibly.

I WILL confront evil, pursue justice, and love mercy.

I WILL pray for others and treat them with kindness, respect, and compassion.

I WILL work diligently to provide for the needs of my family.

I WILL forgive those who have wronged me and reconcile with those I have wronged.

I WILL learn from my mistakes, repent of my sins, and walk with integrity as a man answerable to God.

I WILL seek to honor God, be faithful to His church, obey His Word, and do His will.

I WILL courageously work with the strength God provides to fulfill this resolution for the rest of my life and for His glory.

As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. – Joshua 24:15
Intense right? I definitely left the theater feeling inspired, empowered and encouraged... Obviously that feeling has stuck with me if I am blogging about it on Wednesday. It's a fantastic message about the father/son relationship in the eyes of God... but there is a deeper message that ALL of us can take to heart. 

Sometimes honoring God and keeping our eyes focused on him isn't easy. He might call us to do something that requires more courage that we believe we can muster. But that's what is so wonderful about our God-- He gives us the courage to step out and make a commitment in His name. 

Has God called you to make a deeper commitment to someone, something or simply HIM lately? He sure has for me. "Hey Sharita-- I need you to go ahead and marry this soldier I've picked out for you, then quit your job, follow him to a new time zone where it is just you, your husband and ME. Oh, and instead of getting a full time job on post, ask your new church to create a non-paying internship for you so you can enter into ministry." And instead of just leaving me hanging in my potential panic, He adds this little afterthought: 
"Trust me. I love you. You can do it-- through me!" 

Courage comes in so many different forms. It might be similar to the scenario I presented above. Maybe it is making a new commitment to your family by signing a resolution. Think about the areas in YOUR life that God has called you to be courageous. He has called you to it... but He is faithful and will do it! 

Need some inspiration to make it happen?  Go SEE... and BE... COURAGEOUS! 

Courageously at work, 

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”-- Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Patience is...

Patience is... 

Annoying? Impossible? Frustrating? A struggle? A virtue? 

Pretty sure my opinion of "patience" has covered all of these descriptors-- and more. I have never been a very patient person (Ahem, see yesterday's post...) 

Seriously, as a little girl, I didn't just want things to happen now, I wanted them to happen yesterday... HURRY UP! The most dreaded words coming out of my Mama's mouth (then and to this day) rivaled "Wait until your father gets home" in the form of "You are just going to have to wait and see..." followed by "Patience is a virtue." 

NOooooooooooo!! I don't wanna wait and see. Patience as a virtue is overrated.  I really want to know now. Deal with it. Get on with things. Seriously. I have a to do list to do here people. 

Fortunately, God has done a work on my heart over these last (almost) 26 years... and I have mellowed out-- some. (It depends on my mood and ability to focus on Him.) Our society doesn't help with the "patience" issue either-- especially when it comes to our generation. Everything is fast and instantaneous-- "Instant results!" "Download now!" "Immediate satisfaction!" "Do you want fries with that? Please pull around." 

So about this patient heart work situation... Just last Friday, I was running a bunch of errands that I had been putting off (the masters paper writing had taken precedence) After spending a morning making miscellaneous phone calls, doing financial-ly things at home, it was time to tackle my outside list of things to do. 

Interestingly enough, all of my errands required waiting in lines... At the vet's office, at the army hospital pharmacy, at the bank, at Sonic (Ok that wasn't an errand per-say, but it was happy hour. I desired a Diet Dr. Pepper with Vanilla. But I digress.) 

Fortunately, I had resolved myself to RELAX and not be so uptight about the whole line waiting situation. The combination of the phrase "Ruthlessly eliminate hurry" that I heard from a co-worker a couple of months ago (that he got from a book) and the servant evangelism/kindness lessons I have learned last semester in school helped me to enjoy my errands. I had no where to go that evening but home, and Brandon was going to be working a little later than normal.  I hoped to bring a little bit of un-grumpiness to the clerks I was dealing with. Let me explain. 

There was only one lady working at the vet clinic desk. I was "second" in line and just needed to pick up heartworm/flea meds for the baby dog. Instead of fidgeting and scowling and being short with the clerk for "forcing" me to wait, I intentionally SMILED at her and made eye contact. After she looked at me like I had 7 eyes and the shock of someone polite and (pseudo) patient-ish wore off, she seemed less stressed. 

As I was driving from the vet to the army hospital pharmacy, I started mulling over about patience... and was determined to keep it going, even with obnoxious traffic. The REAL test happened when I showed up at the pharmacy. It was my first experience at the hospital pharmacy and HOLY CHEESE AND CRACKERS. Pretty sure that eleventy billion people were sitting in the chairs at the pharmacy with their "numbers" waiting to be called. I took a deep breath, reminded myself that again, I had no where to go, took my number and grabbed a seat. 

I think when I arrived they were on 237. My number was 283. And they were also throwing some 600 and 800 level numbers in there. About 45 minutes later, I made it to the counter to give them info to transfer a prescription from Fort Riley. After I finished, the lady looked up with terror in her eyes (literally) and squeaked out in a scared voice "Um, you do know that you can't get this prescription today right? We have to transfer it then get it ready next week." 

Not quite sure what she expected me to do... It wasn't a life threatening medication-- just an inhaler for my blessed asthma that I need in the "cold" months for running. The way the pharmacist was acting, you would have thought she was prepared for me to either 1) have an emotional breakdown, kicking and screaming there in the floor, tears and all 2) run out the door hysterically screaming 3) shank her. 

Fortunately for all parties involved, chose option #4, none of the above. I patiently replied "Yep, I know. I called ahead to check how the process worked and just wanted to get the ball rolling. So it will be ready early next week then?" 

The look on her face was a mixture of shock, relief and glee. Someone of my generation, showing grace and patience to her... not shooting the messenger. It honestly kind of saddened me that we have set the standard for negative reactions when it comes to being patient. I still stink at being patient sometimes too... but it's one of those God things-- he's gonna grow me and shape with me opportunities to be patient. 

I don't write these things to condemn... but rather to encourage. "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22) One of the attributes of our awesome God is PATIENCE... He patiently waits on us to screw up, try to fix things ourselves, get frustrated, screw up again, THEN finally submit and turn to Him. If our God is that patient with us all the time, shouldn't we extend the same grace, love and kindness to those around us? 

Stop for just a second today and think... Do you need to be more patient? Ask God to help you with it (but be prepared that he isn't going to snap his fingers and make you patient, but rather give you opportunities to engage patience.) 

How can you extend Godly patience to someone in your life? Maybe a spouse or child? Or a supermarket clerk? A secretary on the phone? Perhaps that person in traffic that cut you off. Extend the grace, mercy, love and PATIENCE that God has already extended to you... Because after all, patience is... well, you can fill in the blank.  

Patiently waiting for patience, 

"Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." -Colossians 3:12

Monday, October 17, 2011

Patience to Flourish

She lives... AND she blooms! 

My peace plant FINALLY BLOOMED!! Eeeeeeeee!

Ok. I should probably back up. At this point, I imagine you are either 1) confused at my excitement or 2) think I have lost my mind. But the answer is neither. 

I usually don't get this excited about blooming flowers either-- but I have been waiting about 22 months for Chloe (that's the peace plant's name) to bloom. Here's the thing-- I don't have the greenest thumb in the world. 

I can typically keep plants alive, as in I remember to water them on occasion before they start to look droopy and I attempt to pay attention to their size in case they need to be repotted. I even add fertilizer every now and then. But I am not a "plant lady." I do name my plants and on a very rare occasion might actually talk to them... but I'm more of an animal/people person myself. 

Chloe is special to me because she is a peace lily plant from my Grandad's funeral back in late December 2009. He passed away on Christmas that year... and if you were able to catch my "recovery testimony" No Bologna Testimony (Part 2) you would understand why I was so desperate for peace. Unfortunately, Chloe didn't start off very strong with me as her new owner-- it was one of those blisteringly painful cold days in Kansas when I packed her up to head back to Missouri after the funeral... Mom said I should cover her up, even if it was literally an 8 foot walk from the porch to the truck. I didn't. And that Kansas wind burned her something awful. Thus, it has taken her nearly 2 years to recover become healthy and bloom. 

My husband and I have debated so many times if we should keep "nursing" Chloe... She looked pathetic. I always fought to keep her because I held out hope that someday all her leaves would green up once again. It took a trip from Oklahoma to Kansas, Kansas to Missouri, Missouri to Kansas, and Kansas to Georgia before she finally could recoup. Interestingly enough, Chloe isn't the only "symbolic" plant in my life that has struggled. 

I received my first ever house plant from Kelsey as a Christmas present in December 2008. Kelsey and I were "co-coaches" for one of our dear friends Andrea on her quest to be a National FFA Officer. That little plant, who I named Enrique, became even more special to me when Andrea's wonderful father suddenly passed away that next March (Note: This was the starting point of my recovery testimony.) 

Enrique and I have been through so much together... and he has struggled too. I graduated K-State and took him with me to Missouri... each time I saw my little spider plant, I thought of Kelsey, Andrea and Andrea's dad. But like Enrique, I was struggling. Job sucked, Brandon was deployed, zippo friends in Missouri, working ridiculous hybrid night shift, Grandma died, Dad was sick, Grandad died, you get my drift. Enrique was healthy when I got him... but over time, instead of growing, his little leaves were dying off until there was literally only one tiny sprig left in my pot. 

I felt like Enrique. I felt like there was nothing left of me. I tried everything I could think of to bring Enrique back around- nothing worked. I always expected to walk in the living room in Jefferson City, MO and see his tiny green leaf brown and withered. I almost expected my heart to do the same. I vividly remember telling God through my sobs that I had nothing left to give. 

But as usual, God had a plan. He was growing patience in me. He was pruning me. "Go down the rows of vineyards and rip out the vines, but not all of them. Leave a few. Prune back those vines! That growth didn't come from God!" (Jeremiah 5:10 MSG)  My Father had to cut away all the junk that had filled up my life over the 24 years to make room for HIM... Then, and only then... I began to flourish. And so did Enrique and Chloe.

God was nurturing me, pruning me, giving me what I needed. Sometimes we forget that we have to have the fertilizer (the poop) to make beautiful flowers. I struggled with the patience. I wanted to be a beautiful Christ-like flower NOW. But God knew that to get the job done and do it right, it was going to take some time. 

"I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry." --Psalm 40:1

Enrique isn't just a single spindle of a
plant anymore... He's even has babies!
Now, about two years later, both Enrique and Chloe are flourishing. As you heard, Chloe survived, is no longer brown and actually blossomed. Enrique has grown exponentially, and actually has "babies" on his spider plant spindles that need to be transferred to their own little pots. My heart is flourishing too. God has shown me a new light of Christ. He has taught me to be (semi)patient. He has allowed me to marry a wonderful man who loves me like Christ loves the church. He has called me to ministry. He is helping me get my masters. He is empowering me to make a difference in our new home in Georgia. 

So now I ask you-- are you in the "building patience pruning" season of life or the flourishing season? Maybe somewhere in between? Try to remember then words of Romans 12:12-- "Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer." It's not easy... but while fertilizer stinks, the blossom can smell oh-so-sweet.

I rejoice because God has done it-- He pruned me... grown me... fertilized me... but most of all LOVED ME. God has allowed me to have patience... and now-- I FLOURISH! 

Blooming for Him, 

"But things have changed. I'm taking the side of my core of surviving people: Sowing and harvesting will resume, Vines will grow grapes, Gardens will flourish, Dew and rain will make everything green."  Zechariah 8:11 (MSG)

Herman's babies Franklin
and Eleanor! No pruning
needed here! 
My aloe vera plant named
Herman, who has fared
better than other plants

Friday, October 14, 2011

Be the Bread

Motivation is such a b-e-a-utiful thing. 

I know that being gung-ho can come in different stages/proportions. I've been through enough finals weeks that I definitely understand the motivation/procrastination cycle. But it kind of makes me laugh when God sends motivation in VERY unexpected ways... and it ends up being for his glory. 

All semester during my "Contemporary Evangelism" class, we have been drilled on what it means to be servant leaders and share the gospel by both our words and actions. At 10:03am yesterday, I submitted my final paper for this finals week (WHEW!) My little brain assumed that I was done being "productive" for the next 10 or so days til my next semester begins. But for those of you who know me (and know our God), that wasn't the most accurate conclusion. 

Almost past the point of no return... 
I wrapped up my paper, took the dog for a walk and was preparing to head into work for a few hours. As I was getting ready to leave, I was doing some quick "power cleaning" of the kitchen and noticed some overly-ripe bananas sitting on the counter. My husband and I try not to be wasteful, but he is the banana eater in the house-- seriously, if he is in a banana phase, he will polish off a large bunch of bananas in a couple of days. Me, on the other hand-- I might eat one or two out of the bunch. Unfortunately, he wasn't in a "phase" and these bananas were past the point of "enjoyable eating." 

As I reached over to grab the bunch of bananas to toss them in the trash, I paused. "Wait a minute... If bananas got too ripe back home, Mama would make banana bread." Oh boy. The seed of motivation had been planted. I wondered if I had a recipe for banana bread. I grabbed my Lacey Family Cookbook that mom gave me at college graduation and banana bread was the first recipe in the book. Funny how I never noticed that til then. Coincidence? I think not. 

Ok, ok... so I had the extra-ripe bananas and recipe. Did I have all the other ingredients? I scanned the list and yep, had everything already except for lemon juice. I was going to the store after work anyways, so that was easy enough. Did I have appropriate bread loaf pans? Not really, but I did have muffin tins... 

Justus LOVES when I cook... because I am messy and waits
expectantly for me to drop something awesome.
Although I think he wants me to stop cooking breads
and strawberry pretzel dessert and make something that
involves lots of red meat. 
And as my motivation grew, I decided I could make a couple of batches of this banana bread and send it to work with Brandon to feed the men of Foxtrot company (I really don't need two batches of banana muffins at my house... because I would eat them... all... and let's be honest, that can be a wee bit counterproductive.) So individual muffins would be perfect. Oh, and did I mention that as I made the muffins, the seven over-ripe bananas added up the exact two cups of mashed bananas needed. Again, coincidence? Negative. 

God planted all these seeds of motivation and laid this out-- and did it with a purpose to show the love and share the life with the Drill Sergeants of Foxtrot company. After the muffins were baked last night, I wanted to stick a note with at least one smiley face on the muffins  (don't judge me) for the Foxtrot team to enjoy today. Suddenly, the scripture about Jesus being the bread of life came to mind. 

I argued with myself for about 20 minutes deciding if I would have the courage to put Scripture on the bag of 24 muffins (ok, 22 at that point-- Brandon and I had already eaten one each). Then I thought-- I am doing this in the name of God for HIS glory, not to win friends or be a well-liked FRG leader. It's for HIM.  So I did it. I placed the following Scripture on the muffins. 

"Then Jesus declared, 'I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.'" --John 6:35

God allowed me an opportunity to show the love and share the life through 22 banana muffins. Small acts of kindness can not only feed the stomach but also the heart and soul. 

Om nom nom... Here's to being the bread!
Take a moment and consider: are you "being the bread" per Jesus' example in your life? Open a door, make cookies for a neighbor, watch a friends kids as a favor to them... the possibilities are endless! As I thought about my own opportunity to "Be the Bread" in the name of Jesus, I considered making this a "Foxtrot Friday..." Maybe I will do this one Friday a month? Who knows... with God, all things are possible. 

Shaking and Baking (Banana Bread), 

"Jesus said to them, 'I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.'" --John 6:32-33

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Brought to you by: the Letters S & L

Today's message is brought to you by the letter's S & L. Let me explain...

Last night I was blessed to have the opportunity to teach the Christ Community Church's Youth Ministry group about Servant leadership. It. Was. AWESOME. God definitely met us there and <hopefully> He allowed me to communicate a strong message about Jesus' love for us and the need for us to humble ourselves in His name and serve. 

So today, I want to share with you a few snippets of our youth lesson. I hope it gets those wheels to turning and you can consider how you can serve God's kingdom... daily... through acts of love and kindness. 

We started out by "washing" the feet of one of the youth leaders (and my good friend) Sara. It wasn't exactly like the feet washing at the last supper but hey, we do what we can with a bath towel and a plastic punch bowel filled with water. 

Ok, so we washed Sara's feet... Now imagine what that was like for Jesus to wash the feet of his disciples… He is the King of Kings, but he humbled himself to serve by doing the “lowest” job in the house. Remember the story of Jesus washing the disciples feet in John 13? Long story short, nobody else volunteered, then Peter argued with Jesus saying that he didn't want him to wash feet-- but then agreed and said to wash his whole body. SIGH. Oh Peter. 

Then watch what happened: 
"When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.  I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them." (John 13:12-17)

This is an example of Jesus’ love and servanthood is something for us to follow—it is true servant leadership. We all have a privilege that as Christians, we are called to serve by leading and lead by serving. Let me say it again—it is a privilege. We have the opportunity to serve by leading and lead by serving! 

Jesus came to serve… not to be served! 

“ Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20:26-28 

It’s all about Servant Leadership!! (See, this is where the first S & L come in... get it?) So what is Servant Leadership? 

Servant leadership is not a particular style of leadership, but rather deals with the motivation behind a leader's thoughts, words and actions 

Soooo... How do we engage in servant leadership?

1. We gotta Show the Love ...  (Notice: the second S & L phrase) Jesus said we should be willing to lay down our life for friends and love our neighbors as ourselves! 

And how do we SHOW the LOVE? By doing 3  things: Knowing ourselves, working as a team, and praying/listening to God.  (I elaborated quite a bit on these during my presentation, but you get the picture)

2. We have to Share the Life   (The third S & L) Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. The servant leader willingly humbles them self in order to meet the needs of others. We are not too important or dignified to undertake even the lowest of tasks and we can do so with no thought of personal gain. Be a servant first… leader second—and it will all fall into place. Show the life of Jesus through your actions! 

And just like before, here's how we SHARE the LIFE : 
*We must be more concerned for the needs of others than our own "Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." (Mark 8:34) 

*Lead by example (Practice what we preach) 

*Honor God—We do it all for His glory—he loved us so much that he sent his son to die for us—shouldn’t we share his love with others by serving them? It can open up doors and allow Christ’s love to shine! 

The front with the letter
Servant leadership might sounds a little scary—but it pleases God. Have faith that he wouldn’t call you to do anything you couldn’t—and he is the one who will give you strength! I don’t know about you, but when I get to heaven, I would love for God to scoop me up in my arms and say “Well done my good and faithful servant!” (That gives me butterflies every time I think about it!!!) 

So consider how you will live a life of servant leadership. It isn’t about having a title or status. But it is living out the love of Christ. We can live a life of servant leadership by SHOWING THE LOVE and SHARING THE LIFE. 

The back with the letter
Ok... so we have worked through the presentation-- but I wasn't quite done yet... due to my motivation to procrastinate on homework last week and be crafty as opposed to scholarly (don't worry, I still got my homework done) I gave them "towels" as a take-home reminder.  Little beach towels (made from one big towel to represent teamwork and "big picture") to remind them to "wash feet" aka serve wherever they go. The towels also have a glow-in-the-dark puff paint (who doesn't love  puff paint!) letters on each side-- one is S and the other is L... They (AND YOU!) can be the light in darkness through service and glow by engaging in Servant Leadership, Showing the Love and Sharing the Life. 

I left CCC last night with my heart full of excitement for the youth members and youth leaders. And my heart is full for YOU this morning. We all have a beautiful, blessed opportunity to humble ourselves and be like Jesus. Today, I challenge you to remember that image of Jesus hanging on the cross.  Jesus came to serve, not to be served... HE was willing to lead as a servant... ARE YOU?

In His Service, 

"...the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves."  --Luke 20:26
A portion of the 60 "towels" as I was waiting
for the glorious puff paint to dry.