Sickness and Sin

He cleaned her up after her second puking episode in this 2015 Puke-a-Palooza season. She looked up at him grossed out and sad to say, "Daddy, I hate that sickness is part of our world because of sin."

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I don't do puke. Chop open the back of your head and gush with blood, I'm your girl but the smell of sickness is what I can't handle. My hubs has always been sweet enough to handle that nastiness but I'm sad I missed this beautiful recognition of how literally sin affects our daily lives.

The consequences of sin are all around us if we are willing to identify it. As Christ-followers, sometimes we like to pretend our 'silent' sins don't have any reactions in our world like those that are loud in the secular world. We somehow act as though gossip and unforgiveness are less harmful than homosexuality and idol worship. All those are self-serving perversions of God's original plan.

Sin is and will always be part of our world until all the nations have heard the gospel and Christ returns for His followers. It sucks but that's the truth. So what do we do with that?

Live.

We live in community with believers and non-believers in love while chasing after the heart of Jesus and eagerly awaiting his return that will end the madness that our sin started.  God didn't ask us to hide, build walls, and protect ourselves.

I was taught growing up that you didn't hang out with "bad kids". You know, you might catch their sin. My prayer, as I surround my children with ALL those Christ died for, wither they have accepted that free gift yet or not, is that my children's lives are so overrun with the health of God's love that they don't catch too many sins. We're all gonna screw up and will never be sinless but if we are chasing hard after the heart of Jesus then we will totally sin less.

Are you scared of catching your own versions of the valley plague from doing life so closely with your local body of believers? Do you fear hanging out with non-Christians and catching their sin? What skewed view of God do we have that maybe needs to be realigned with the Bible so we can more fully love all those around us?

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A Year {and a few days} After The Storm

No matter how much our town would like to NOT be known for last years tornado, it's now a part of our story and will forever define all of us in some way.

The valley {our church plant} lost our rented facility to the storm making it that much harder to ignore the fact that we will forever be changed do to a natural disaster. We've hopped from place to place, have exhausted members by working them to the bones, learned people's true heart and passion, and have most importantly Seen Christ. We've seen His heart and passion. We've seen His presence or absence in people when hard things hit and work gets hard. We've seen His spirit in every dwelling the Church has gathered, reaffirming that the Church is not a building!

A Year {and a few days} After the Storm

There's enough tragedy and struggles experienced this past year we could fill an entire book but rather than focus on the spiritual warfare, I want to focus on the places God's brought us through them:

  • Play Place
    free childcare for those parents working or volunteering after the storm
  • Service on the Slab
    praising Jesus for his sovereignty
  • Mom's Night Out
    stress relief for moms after the storm
  • Survived Super Summer
    our middle-middle child got to experience a 1st for our family with her broken arm {it was mostly fun}
  • Adopted a Dog
    Lulu the {almost 2-year-old} registered English Bulldog became part of our family
  • First Family Vacation
    water park and tons of free attractions in Bran son MO
  • Baby Dedication
    ELLIE! got to be the 1st baby dedicated at the valley church
  • Started Our Families Foster/Adoption Journey
    we've started the process of opening our home for foster care through the CALL ministry and DHS
  • Hosted our 2nd Annal Kids' Valentine's Day PARTY
  • Baptism
    Maggie has discovered what being a Christ-follower looks like for a year and announced this decision in baptism
  • Bought Land and Sent a Former Intern to the Ukraine Mission Field {short-term}
    financially these were the biggest outcomes of people's generosity after the storm that we never saw coming

I feel like the two biggest things that have happened over this past year are the strides in our community and neighbor love'n breakthroughs we've had.

After nearly 2 years in our community I feel like we've finally made some big strides in getting to minister in and with our community included but not limited to helping with the big KaBoom! Playground and cook out to celebrate the park. Those in the community are starting to recognize our name which is NOT the cool part but because they know us more, they are more likely to call upon us to help in needed areas. We are here to serve and are finally feeling like we're getting that opportunity.

We have also been plugging away at loving our neighbors all the while hoping they don't think we're crazy. Our most resent cook outs {just here in our neighborhood/our front yard} have allowed us to meet at least 2 more families. Just living outside our home on purpose has let us get to know our neighbors so much better which means they can know and trust us more which means we can love them in bigger ways. It's a beautiful circle! I truly believe its impossible, or at least much harder not to hate that which you know so well. Ignorance leads to hate; hate leads to avoidance, avoidance leads to ignorance. NOT a beautiful circle. Take the time to trudge away beginning the simple circle Jesus has called us each to, right were you are today.

Live, Learn, Serve Here, Go There in LOVE.

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YOU Can Help KaBoom! Vilonia

Thank you so much for loving us! I know many of you feel we've forgotten about your humble offerings to help but We Have Not! It takes time to pull a community back together after something like this or to even assess needs so  thank you to those still waiting in the wings to jump right in when called upon!

I will remember our CovenantA need has arisen and we need Your Help!

Vilonia Is Getting a PUBLIC PARK/PLAYGROUND on April 18th, 2015!
We're talking "Extreme Park Makeover Show" is going down in our town and you can be a part of it!

This is something I've been passionate about since we moved her and I'm so excited to see how God has chosen to let that happen. The local schools have awesome playgrounds that are open to the public but that's only when the schools themselves aren't using them. Totally understandable but as a homeschool mom with lots of littles, I'd love a place to get my kids out of the house for some great educational outdoor playing, meet friends for a picnic, or just get the wiggles out. And now its happening and I didn't do any footwork. hehe

A group called KaBOOM!​ will be assisting our community in building an amazing playground, funded by Kimberly-Clark, in the same space that last years tornado destroyed the former baseball fields and tiny playground equipment.

Thus far, the professionalism of this group is top notch! Maggie was selected as on of 35 out of 300+ students to be a part of the Design Day and therefore I get to be a part of the adult planning team. eeek!

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The night of the Design Day meeting, the kids sat around and dreamed up their ideas for the perfect park. They chatted with news reporters and colored inspirational drawings. Maggie, in preparation for the meeting, drew no fewer than 30 ideas in a notebook to share with the group {she didn't really know how this was going down} so she copied as many of those down onto her giant paper as she could. She ask friends prior to the day what ideas they has so she could share them as well. <3 That child!
After the kids finished up, the parents compiled their ideas, looked through the gazillion options KaBoom! had for equipment and even down to the colors tried to plan a park of our kids dreams.

Design C{just an example of the possibilities}

Right now, we are currently in the 6 weeks of planning between Design Day and BUILD DAY. There are tons of details for our town to work through and figure out. There are many things I'm attempting to help but with but the main ones I'm focusing on right now that I need YOUR help with are:

How YOU Can Help!

  1. We are collecting toilet paper cardboard rolls! You know, the inside thing you throw away or make pretend binoculars out of and then throw away. Yeah, we are collecting those for a fun project since our playground is being funded by the Kimberly-Clark's "Tube-Free" Scott toilet paper campaign. Don't toss'm. Bring them to ME 😀
  2. We need tools! THIS is the list of tools needs and if you have 1 or 5 of those items, we would LOVE to borrow them for 3 days {prep day 1 and 2, and some of them for build day} but better yet, if you have connections with a hardware store that could donate or loan a giant number of them at once, that would be Even better!
  3. We need YOU! There are so many ways we need you but we definitely need committed hands to show up on BUILD DAY, April 18th, from 8am until about 3pm right here in Vilonia {I'll get ya directions 😉 } We need help ranging from helping play with small children, moving mulch, drilling equipment together, serving food, registering the volunteers as they come in, and to I'm sure I missed something else. This would be great for a short mission trip or youth event. Signing up your Group to help would be a guaranteed fun day they'd remember forever. The Valley will use heading up a Serve Here day with our crew!
    Here is the Link to sign up online or you can print this Reigstration Form for Vilonia KaBoom! Park Build Day for large groups and then input them each. 😀

If you have any questions or have another possible way you'd like to help, hit me up! Thanks in advance!!! This is going to be so fun.

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An Open Letter to Our Former Youth Group

Dear Former Youth Group {an open letter to generation Xers and Millennials}

Dear former youth group,

I'm here to say I'm sorry. I'm sorry we told you not have sex, do drugs, or drink alcohol. I'm sorry we guilted you into devoting your midweek to our service rather than your God-given-interest. I'm sorry we taught you self-righteous religion rather than the true character of God.

Here's the thing. The Bible isn't a book mostly about YOU and what YOU should be doing. It's a book about GOD and what HE has done.

We unintentionally taught you that that every story in the Bible somehow points to you. We explained that your behavior was the ultimate dictator of salvation. Though we never would have come out and said it knowing it was totally false, we let you believe that your behavior swayed God in some way, good or bad. We painted a picture of God as a Santa-figure who sees you when you were sleeping, sees when you're awake, knows if you've been bad or good, so please be good for goodness sake.

The Bible does have guidelines for how life works best. Why wouldn't it. It's a story about the Creator and His creation. It's bound to come up because the story of God and what He's done is made even more amazing in light of how things were supposed to work, how we jaked it up, and how His genius master plan is going to redeem us even though we don't deserve anything.

Many of you in our youth group were coming to 'church' alone. You're parents weren't devout Christ-followers or even if they were, they were possibly relying on us to teach about God. Most adult use youth group like a public school, trusting that the fundamentals of "Christianity" are the responsibility of the staff at a 'church'. Because of that, I'm even more sorry we didn't show you complete truths.

Every story in the Bible points to Jesus. Not you. You're not supposed to attempt to find yourself in the stories of Noah, Mosis, or David. You're supposed to seek God and His kingdom. Every story whispers His name.

As I watch you grow-up, go to college, move, get jobs, get married, have kids I see religion failing you. No matter how much attempting to be 'good' you can handle it will always leave you empty. Life won't unfold into the christian-karma-crap we filled you with. Because of that you will run. You are running. You're leaving the Church in droves because morality has failed you.

I'm sorry I helped lead you to this place but now I'm hear to fight to lead you back to Christ. To show you His true character. Every aspect of our life bleeds the DNA of who we think God is. Your view of who God is the foundation for your belief system and you believe system determines your actions. Out of our love for you in our youth group, we targeted the only thing we could see, your actions, in an attempt to determine if you were a Christ-follower.

Maybe we had a savior complex, maybe we were just that ingnorant. Painting a picture of a self-serving, smoke and lights, hype and games, fame and fortune religion remorsefully. God's taught us so much over the last few years and we hope to chase down the dechurched generation that we had a hand in running off.

Sincerely yours,

Regretful Youth Pastors of Generation Xers and Millennials

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“Be Holy as I am Holy” Ehh?

As Christians, especially those of us who are "lifers" {been in church since the womb}, have a hard time naturally "sharing the gospel". Can I get an amen? 😉

I think the biggest reason this is unnatural is because we're taught so often that we are to be holy. And we are. And we don't get what that means. We are supposed to be holy -set apart- but that doesn't mean separate [from "heathen" things]. Set apart does not mean separate. Christians are "set apart for God". We are chosen for a purpose. We are chosen to be a part of God's plan.

I think it's kinda like a recipe. Let's say the recipe ingredients calls for 2 cups of mozzarella cheese but in the directions is says, "Mix in 1 and 1/2 cups of mozzarella cheese in to [yada yada] and set aside the other 1/2 cup to sprinkle on the top at the end. We are the 1/2 cup of cheese set aside for the top. We are set to the side because we have a different, more specific purpose, not because we aren't to be part of the main dish. God has a plan to spice up the recipe!

Holiness: Set Apart as Part of the Plan to Spice Up Life

Well, hopefully that made any sense. You know He's a lot smarter than my cheesey illustration and our purpose is much more grandiose than extra creaminess. {budump bump} 😉 Basically what I mean is, we are not made to huddle together with those who believe, think, look, parent, talk, dress, etc just like us. We're meant to get our hands dirty with the real ingredients of life. It's not always pretty, it will be a LOT of messy, sometime challenging, but it'll taste awesome when it's done.

Be Holy -------> Jesus -------> Friend of Sinners

We're told to be holy. Holy like Jesus. Jesus was a friend of sinners. So what should we be doing? Befriending sinners! Not walking along side them at the store/game/restaurant and thinking how much better was are because we follow Jesus. We are to break down our misplaced pride, remind ourselves we are just as sinful as the next person {follower or not}, and actually care about others.

Holy means set apart for a purpose. Not just tossed to the side to be looked. That's wasteful and there is no waist in the economy of God. Don't separate yourself and become useless. Be Holy as Christ was Holy.

 

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