A Year of Spiritual Writing: June 2014

This month’s newsletter has been difficult to write for me. Despite praying for writing inspiration, I’ve felt like a force of interception has been upon this mission. When I have had the opportunity to sit down and work on this opening welcome to you, either something would go immediately awry with my children, making me abandon the task for yet another day, or the words would just not come.
Interest in the upcoming Summer Sunday Bible Class unit, focusing on spiritual warfare, has made me more keen on looking for situations that may be the devil and his army trying to thwart my mission. I would think that if I’m trying to reach you, and I end up with nothing to say to you, then certainly Satan would consider that a victory. Even as I write now, a little voice is telling me, “none of this ramble is good enough for a newsletter, just push DELETE, and type HAPPY JUNE EVERYBODY and be done with it!” I’m going to keep it though…you can e-mail me and tell me what you thought of my decision!
From previous experience, I know to expect an increase in the spiritual warfare (maybe there will be less to read from me come July)! Jokes aside, God’s word tells us we can have confidence in Him and not fear no matter what the devil’s schemes are. All we need is His full armor as described in Ephesians 6:10-17.
I pray this month that you consider attending our Summer Sunday Bible Class series. We all need to know Who we are really up against. Please pray for the men who will be teaching us and their families. They’ll need it!


A Year of Spiritual Writing: May 2014

 Jesus lives! Can you rejoice and be glad in it (Psalms 118:24)? Nature around us certainly seems to be doing so. The sun is bursting forth, flowers are painting the green lawns and surrounding fields. Birds are warming up for their summertime melodies. Ladies working inside can’t resist using their lunch break to take their high heels off and run on the bubbling asphalt.
     Okay, well, maybe not that last one, but it leads me to my real question. In what do you truly rejoice?
     The Greek word for “rejoice” is χαίρω.  If you’ve forgotten High School Greek like the rest of us, the transliteration is “chairó” pronounced (khah’-ee-ro).  It also means to be glad, as referred above in Psalms.  The nifty stuff comes out though when you look closer at the original word’s root, which is “xar-.”  This root means “favorably disposed or leaning to.” The endings can vary for different “cognates,” which is a term used to describe words descended from others. According to the HELPS Word-Studies on Biblehub.com, a cognate of “chairó,” (also spelled xairō) is “xáris.” The meaning of this word is in part where we get the rest of in who we are to rejoice. Simply, it means “‘grace;’ properly, ‘to delight in God’s grace;’ literally, ‘to experience God’s grace (favor);’ and to ‘be conscious (glad) for His grace'”(2011). Thankfully, it was by this grace that we are saved. And we are told many times after the crucifixion to remember to do this, such as in Philippians 4:4 and 1 Peter 4:13.
      Yet, as human beings, we are given a choice in whom (or what) we rejoice or are glad.
     Which do you decide to lean towards after remembering and celebrating Jesus’s return after death? Do you still follow God’s grace as the words above indicate or has something else, like summer vacation, caught your attention?  I pray this month that as end-of-school-year events attack your schedule or summer plans demand your calendar days, you’re able to find a quiet place with God to soak up his peace and just rejoice…

A Year of Spiritual Writing: April 2014

In a recent scripture reading, I came across a passage just after the popular “treasure in jars of clay” in 2 Corinthians. This particular passage was verses 8-15 and seemed really appropriate in the upcoming Easter season as we celebrate our risen Savior, Jesus Christ.  We remember the suffering our Lord endured, a suffering we share in as we face the world who berates us as a body of followers of Christ. According to Paul, Christians will “always carry [this] death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body” (verse 10). It is by our sharing in his suffering that we have this wonderful gift to show the world.

People of this world believe there is only suffering. As Christians, it is our task to show them that while suffering does come, because of life or a stand we take in faith, we can always look to Christ who suffered for our sake.

So what do we do with this lesson? I assure you; it’s not just eat a roast and watch the kids hunt for eggs.  Paul later tells us, “It is written: ‘I believed; therefore I have spoken…all this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God” (13,15). I don’t know about you, but I definitely need to work on my speaking to people – we’re not supposed to be afraid to share this gift – we may be mistreated for it, but we won’t be abandoned, just as Jesus never abandoned us by coming back that Easter morning.

A Year of Spiritual Writing: March 2014

This is the first of nearly a year’s worth of introductions to our Church’s Ladies Ministry newsletter, which I started.  I felt it only necessary to post to my blog for many reasons: 1) to share how Christ has renewed my life and share with my sisters-in-Christ what I’ve learned, 2) to provide examples for my writing in case employers want any, 3) to get me back into the act of writing and focus on generating more ideas. Enjoy.

——– March 2013 Entry ———

I’d like to call attention to our Corner of Faith block, an idea submitted by an inspirational lady in our Ladies’ Ministry.  In the spirit of those faith questions, I thought I would briefly share with you how this newsletter is stretching me.  Last fall, I was working at a job that was financially draining us – I just wasn’t making enough for the cost of daycare. However, I felt convinced that God wanted me there, until I did the math and saw how much we were losing a month.  I had also started reading Sarah Young’s devotional Jesus Calling, and the message it kept telling me was “Trust in the Lord, Trust, Trust, Trust.”  With God on our side, Seth and I made the decision for me to quit and stay home with our kids. About that time, I started and finished Max Lucado’s Cure for a Common Life  and rediscovered my passion is writing.  Then the real charge that sparked my get-off-the-back-pew-and-get-involved notion came from Thomas Rainer’s I Am a Church Member.
I’m a preacher’s kid, so I always thought, “I’ve done my time; I spent my childhood at church!” Too bad God doesn’t care who you know.  It took me awhile to figure out what exactly I could bring to the table, until I remembered I had experience with organizing a newsletter from previous jobs and maybe the Ladies’ Ministry wouldn’t mind one?  Yes, I am that trepidatious and a people-pleaser to boot.

After the first issue came out and receiving everyone’s wonderful comments, I blushed and said thank you. One comment that stuck out the most was, “I believe you missed your calling.” Honestly, I have thought about that “missed call” A LOT. I began as a Journalism major and gave its opportunities up for a guy who badly wounded me (not Seth). However, I can confidently say, I think I am just now finding my calling; I’m following Jesus’ Calling.
I hope my words have inspired you to share how the Lord is working in your Life.  Happy March – it’s practically Spring; time for renewal!

Zero to Hero: Day One (Oh, and I’m baaaack!)

When I started my first blog, I just wanted to get my writing “out there.”  I keep telling people when they ask me, “so what do you want to do?” that I want to be a writer.  Sometimes I feel like I am answering the question with “trapeze artist,” “party clown,” or “pole stripper” when I see the looks they give me in response.  So when my blog was really gaining momentum – relative for little ole me, mom to three, working full-time, married full-time, involved in church activities, posting once a month, and working on meeting my neighbors in my neighborhood, I felt like the writer-identity was more of a reality.  I had even found a focus for my blog.

It had been placed on my heart that I needed to meet my neighbors, despite the huge obstacle of my introversion, that I’m not much of a people person, and I’m really not a little neighbor-kid person.  I really tried to even create events for the neighbor kids – an Easter Egg Hunt that went well – to meet parents and a back-to-school Ice Cream Social.  But when the last event failed to have but one family out of the twenty plus houses on our two cul-de-sacs show up, I had been completely defeated.

I couldn’t even blog about my defeat.

I couldn’t write.

I abandoned my blog.

That was August 5, 2013.  

I was doing so well, and then when I didn’t have anything driving me to write I just gave up.  I love to write, but how can I really say that when I have to have something to push me to do it?  So weird.

Goals for Zerotohero are:

  1. Get back into my ability to write without a push – to be able to get back into the natural flow of it, so hopefully by the end of 30 days, that will be a reality – with God’s help – shout out to “Jesus Calling” devotional by Sarah Young, Jan 8.
  2. Reach back out to my neighbors; I really enjoyed the project – I’d like to do it again.
  3. Gain insight into how other writers make it work for them, like setting aside time to write, or making themselves write even when they don’t have any “ideas.”  I’m reminded of the quote, “Writing is easy; all you have to do is stare at a blank piece of paper until little drops of blood form on your forehead.”  – Gene Fowler
  4. Be excited about writing and learning new tools to use with the blog!

Neighbors: Back-To-School Ice Cream Social Planning

You know how I said I needed to get involved again with my neighbor project? Here’s my story about how I’m planning to do just that – although it had a tough beginning, as they all do, hurdles to overcome, walls that get in the way as if someone is out there to prevent us from doing and glorifying God by putting his word into action.

Our church, since we’ve been attending there almost seven years and probably longer, has always done a back-to-school ice cream social to get kids ready and thinking about the new school year. Since we’ve never had kids school-age before, this event has been somewhat of a mystery, but I believe in the past they have sorted donated school supplies for backpacks they intended to take to local schools for students who were less fortunate. Therefore, the ice cream social has always been a staple.

This year, however, our church is hosting a concert for the Grammy winning, The Okee Dokee Brothers instead of the traditional ice cream soirée. In a moment of stepping out of the boat-ness, I volunteered to host the usual ice-cream social at our house. However, my girl-scout-badge-worthy volunteerism was quickly squashed when our children’s minister brought up a crucial piece of information: “did you know your husband volunteered to do ice cream after the concert?”

Wow, how embarrassing! So much for touting “communication” as a skill in our marriage! Okay, so I couldn’t do the social for the church. There was always small group. But then I communicated with my husband. “Yeah, small group is going to do ice cream as our outreach project,” he said.

“Grrrrrrrrrr,” I growled a little too loudly.

“What’d you say?”

“Great!” I smiled.

[So, I have this idea; I want to do a back-to-school ice cream social and it’s already going on at church after the okee dokee brothers concert’] I texted my pal in my small group, [‘so do I ask my neighbors to that one, or ask small group to help another one with my neighbors and I, or put my big girl panties on and host one on my own?]

her text [Oh, big girl panties, for sure]

I knew that’s what she was going to say. As soon as I wrote “big girl panties,” I knew that was what I was going to have to do. It was like God was handing me my own pair of shining, white Hanes, coming with the clouds of heaven, singing Big Girls Don’t Cry, but with harps and doves fluttering out around.

Now came the exciting part, the part I was good at really, the planning part. First, the reconnaissance part: counting houses. You never know many houses have been sold/resold/built/etc. In fact, three houses had been built since the Egg Hunt. I know it sounds crazy, but to make sure my count is accurate, I’ve taken the kids outside a lot more. I want to be sure that I have the right amount of invitations. I don’t want to be caught in that moment of putting invitations in mailboxes and then realize that I’m short and that neighbor I’m short for ends up coming out. Maybe he or she wouldn’t really care, but maybe he or she would – maybe thinks “she didn’t do her recon well!”

After recon, is the construction of the invitations. I am definitely not the most artistic, so I rely on stickers and pseudo-cheerleader writing from 1999. I am most proud of my twisted sense of humor. Please check out my fancy-schmancy examples below.

Invitations Pre-Artistic Flair

Invitations Pre-Artistic Flair

Post 1999 Pseudo-Cheerleader Flair

Post 1999 Pseudo-Cheerleader Flair

Hopefully, people also read the FAQs.

Hopefully, people also read the FAQs.

Then it is time to rinse and repeat. After I wrote the first four of these I put off the writing of the other twenty for almost two weeks. It was really hard putting my hand to the test of that pain. It’s like “Hey, guess what hand? Today, we’re going to do something that hurts as soon as you start and hurts for two whole hours! How does that sound!?!”

I did finish the invitations today though. How? Tomorrow my daughter will be helping me pass them out and it is the only day it will be just her and I before the day of the event so I had to get them done.

So now we are back to the waiting period of “Will we get responses? Will people bother to come? Will people remember to come? Will people care to come? Blah, blah, blab!” Pray for my/our sanity! Thanks!

Neighborhood Pavement

This past week I’ve been walking each day from one to two miles, depending on my endurance and how much my ankles hate me. I’ve been outside, and it has been strangely cool for what is normally a sweltering, sticky July in hotbox east Texas. The skies have been overcast, but not too gray, and I’ve bravely stretched out socks – I can never find women’s running socks for my size 11 boats – and tied on my Pumas, locked the house door behind me, and tackled the neighborhood pavement.

I have even rocked an awesome pseudo-fanny pack.

It has felt so good to be outside and to accomplish. Then I get home. Today, I just couldn’t do it. Today, I have sat in my dark house all day. As I write this, the only light I see is through my front door, the half circle window at the top, where I can see the first bits of blue sky in days; just enough through the green tree top that lets me know it is sunny outside. I can’t decide what is worse, staying inside indefinitely or going outside only to come back to this dark place again.