Memorial

I love taking pictures. Pictures of basically everything. I think I may have an unhealthy fear of loosing my memory some day and these captured snapshots will be all I have of the past.

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I started a {multiple} cute little scrapbook(s) for Mags {my 6yo and eldest} as soon as she got here. I loved coordinating the paper and choosing which adorable picture from each month I would memorialize in that month's page. We all know where that went with baby number two! Don't get me wrong, I was not naive enough to think this wouldn't happen so I planned strategically to minimize the things I kept and the professional pictures I took. I was preparing to be overwhelmed as other children came into our family. I only did what I thought I could pull off with the next kids. Well, I almost made it...I printed pictures for Izzie's scrapbook. lol And we're kinda close to the same number/aged pictures for each child hanging on the wall.

This is a big deal to us. Remembering. I was never one of the cool kids who complained about History class in school. I kinda understood that history was for us to learn from our past and I really enjoyed story. Names and places are fine but unless they were attached to a significant story, it was lost on me.

As Christians, remembering is what we're built on. If story hadn't been pasted down, we would be way worse off than we already are. Knowing there's a loving creator whom we offended yet has a history of chasing down His people passionately. Story after story telling of our attempts to make things right and then falling back into the arms of a never-shaken Savior. Every story in the bible points to Him, Jesus. Stories of conquering battles, unmerited love, and ultimate sacrifice.

Often, when we are touched by something, {person, event, words} we like to memorialize it. We never want to forget what happen or when it happened. It becomes a cornerstone on which we started something new and want to build on it.

As Christians we need to remember. To build on the heritage of faith before us BUT the ultimate mission of God is not to make sure everyone remembers where we've been, what He's done in the past, or even what we stand on/for. "We need not memorialize Jesus but Build The Church." -Michael Frost {Sentralized 2014} Memorials are temporary and easily torn down.

In many years, Maggie will not remember the story behind all those pictures in her scrapbook. If it even survives until she's an adult or lets even say until her grandchildren come along as well as the stories attached to them that I'll share with her. Memories of a joyous time of the past will make no impact the future unless action in life is taken to preserve the action behind the memory.

After Israel crossed the river on dry land, Joshua had 12 men build a memorial in honor of that event that became a turning point in their history. 12 Giant stones were there to remember what God had done for them. The significance of that was lost in just a few short generations.

The Church is one generation away from death. We need to focus on what we're called to; God's indestructible Church- the People.

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Sentralized 2014

Sentralized 2014

My hubs, Matt and I went to an amazing conference this past week. He's attended before and we've been journeying through the paradigm of missional living. You've likely hear be bumble through trying to share what that means and how its fleshed out but this group of people helped me hear in new language and see it through practical living. I just want to start sharing with you some of those things {guess that's a good place to jump back on the blogging-wagon, ehh}. Today though, I just want to tell you a little about Sentralized, the conference we attended, and the foundational verse this years gathering was focused on.

You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.

You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.

Isaiah 58:12 MSG

Sentralized is designed for anyone who calls him or her self a Christ follower. It's the perfect learning opportunity for pastors, church planters, individuals, and teams of church members that are working through the issues and ideas of missional living, learning, and leading.
First, we believe there is a need to continue to bring clarity to the missional conversation.
Second, we want to ensure the missional conversation moves beyond theory.

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3 Practical Ways to Mobilize Aid After a Natural Disaster

Our community was recently smacked by a tornado. You might have heard about a couple little towns in the center of Arkansas, Mayflower and Vilonia? Yeah, that's us. Some of you reading this probably live in around our communities.

3 Practical Ways to Mobilizing Aid After a Nature Disaster

3 years ago, a massive but still smaller than this year's, tornado took nearly the same path through Vilonia.

As I tried to sift through the remains of my friends' home all I could think was, "How do these people know what to do? How do they know how to clean up rubble?"

After finally braving the question, I learned a few practical thing that I think might be helpful for others trying to come to the aid of those who have survived a disaster like this. I shared these three simple helps over at the Homemaker's Challenge Wednesday if ya wanna test'm out.

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The Odd Start to a Very Fitting Adventure

Sitting in the quiet, me in my glider and hubs in his man chair across the room, we did our newly found way to unwind involving reading and writing. This hadn’t always been our thing. God had just sparked something in my husband and he began to read. That may not sound abnormal to most but we aren’t readers. I mean, we can but It’s just not something we did for leisure. I had begun writing/blogging on as Jules is going as an outlet shortly after having Jamin, my third child in two and a half years.

The Odd Start to a Very Fitting Adventure

Seemingly out of nowhere, Matt says, “So…I think I’m supposed to be a pastor.” Again, this may not seem like a big deal to you because you either know that my husband was a youth pastor or have met us in this phase of life where he is a “grown-up pastor”. But you have to understand that we were “lifers”. We often discussed our discussed with those who used pastoring youth as some sort of stepping stone to get to the “major league” as if youth were a lesser being that earned lesser klout. Sickening, really.

We would joke about attending loud concerts and challenging young people to eat gross things all while we sported our gray hair. We deep loved {and Still do} youth. Our heart was to reach the next generation with the same timely gospel but with relevant tactics. If we ever transitioned, we thought maybe we would end up in collegiate ministry but never working with or pastoring/leading adults.

This nonchalant “I think I’m supposed to be a pastor” conversation didn’t go very far. Looking back, I wasn’t overly supportive but I wasn’t trying to be a discouragement. I literally thought, “Okay, this is his new kick. He’s got like a 6-week-timeline of excitement. I’ll wait it out and see what happens.” I nodded my head and with a slight giggle in my response said, “Okay” and we went back to what we were doing.

We’d been having a rough go with our current job. After being in a church-body for over 5-years starting when we were newlyweds, it was hard learning a new space, culture, and the expectations that come with that. I wasn’t going to let satan scare us into pastoring adults because of that. We were stronger than a few bumps in the road. I really just thought, “Things will calm down here. We’ll jump back on the wagon and get rolling soon.”

Needless to say, before even nearing the six weeks mark, Matt came to me and said, “Okay, I’ve been praying about it and not only do I think God wants me to be a pastor but I think He wants us to start a new church.” I’m not a good liar so I’m sure my face had laughter all over it. With eyes wide, I questioned like most of us do, “There are enough churches already, lots that need help, why in the world should we start a new one.”

You see, I was a firm believer that ‘lots of churches’ were just a result of The Church not being able to play-nice together. I wanted to be part of the solution, not add yet another division to the already segregated body of Christ.

Time passed. Matt read more and more on church-planting. I held out, still confused, waiting for the shiny to wear off. Over two and a half years later, the shiny has worn off, reality has set in, and it’s more evident today than it could ever be that God did/does want my husband to be a pastor. God did/does want our family to plant a new church.

We just thought Scotland was the adventure of a life time when we were given the opportunity to minister there. Boy was I wrong. I am so glad God softened my heart in a time of skepticism to get us all on the same page because if he hadn’t, I would be missing this awesome adventure. The one I’d always dreamed of. The adventure God had planned for our family. An adventure fit just for us!

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The church is not a building…

My husband came home and loaded my son when he got word we could make it through town to where our church’s meeting space once stood. I paced. I triple checked that my girls were still asleep. Finally, the oldest two awoke and I loaded my big girls and strapped a still sleeping baby into her carseat. I couldn’t do nothing.

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We poked our way through town. I have yet to ride through town...maybe its good. I haven't had the chance to take-in all the emptiness. I kept my eyes on the road. I carefully drove over downed power lines and past lines of care as we went down the path that deadly wind smeared through our community from southwest to northeast. I pulled up to the slab barricaded by debris just in time to see my husband pull his guitar from a back wall. I cheered yards away! God is so randomly good. He is in the big and in the small of our lives.

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I left my girls in the still-running van as I jumped out and wove my way through the maze of red iron, insulation and unrecognizables. I laughed as I looked at that empty slab. It was as if someone had taken a giant shopvac, sucked everything up, and then blew it out from the center of the building.

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The strong cinderblock walls lay on the ground as if that burst of materials from within the facility just tipped them over like a poorly constructed toddler creation. The walls, still in tacked, laid flat on three sides several feet away from where they were formerly attached to their foundation.

I will remember our Covenant

The only wall remaining stands as a beckon to the world that my God reigns. He makes and KEEPS promises. Our world may be torn to piece by our sin but He is coming back. Those colored walls that were once the valley kids' hall can now be the only thing of color spotted among the public pictures of drab scraps.

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Matt ran home to uniform himself for digging for scraps of what once held our church as they worshiped and our babies as they were loved-on. I stood in amazement at what was left. The call that morning at 3:30 had confirmed, “It’s gone. Completely gone. There’s nothing left.” But there was something. There were glimpses of the generosity that had been poured on us over the past. I dug my kids out of the car and guided them through nails and gagged building. All worries about how I would answer tough questions floated up to my Lord as my children giggled on that dirty slab. Cheered as they retrieved strown markers under the edge of sheetrock.

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Moments later, like a tear-jerking scene in a movie, the church, our people, Christ’s followers that met in the space just the day before poured in from every angle. Trucks with trailers, men with work gloves, and women with bright eyes galloped with a hope that only comes from a saving knowledge of Jesus onto the slab. In a town full of desperation, His hope oozed. God’s not dead, He’s surely alive. He’s living on the inside, roaring like a lion. Digging like a grown man. Giggling like a child. Glowing like a valley girl.

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The “clean-up” call from Facebook turned into a unifying block-party of sorts for this growing body of believers. Crossing from one side of the “building” to the other, you could hear the echoes of our people reassuring one another, “The church is not a building, it’s the people chasing after Jesus.” As curfew for our town neared, we began clearing plates of donated food and drinks, hugged, and cheerfully swapped stories of where we planned to get to work in the morning. Testimonies of what God was already doing in and through the members of the valley were evidence that the valley is here for such a time as this! Each individual is here to be used in a way that no one else could be. They are willing and ready to answer God’s calling to join Him and the work He’s started in Vilonia.

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