The Initiative Initiative–Mama Mia Monday

initiative
artwork courtesy of rethink group and 252basics

Mama Mia!
I had a little breakdown today.
It was short, sweet and to the point.

Well, let me explain. It’s almost VBS week. For those of you in the church, those words say it all. There’s some good, godly pressure goin’ on as last minute details are taken care of and the calls come rolling in from those who were going to help but can’t and those who weren’t going to help and still aren’t! (Just kidding)

Today I was told that someone wasn’t helping because no one had asked them yet. (Can I share the fact that it’s been in our bulletin, FB page, in the local newspaper, on a light up bulletin board, displayed with a banner over the sign up area in the church, and announced from the pulpit along with Tshirt give aways) So anyway, I had a slight Mentos and Diet Coke moment–y’know–exploding for a second or two but then the show’s all over–before settling back into work.

But Mamas, as my friend Tiphani would say, “Here’s the thing.”

As our children grow and we are packing up virtues into their lives, we need to be sure initiative gets into the suitcase.

Seriously, we need to take the initiative to train our children to have initiative. Something I like to call the “initiative initiative.” Now I have to say that I’m more than certain that this person’s parents taught them this virtue, yet somehow it slipped through the cracks this time.
But still I was reminded how important initiative is in our lives.

The curriculum we use at church describes initiative as “seeing what needs to be done and doing it.” Not “seeing what needs to be done and letting it stay undone until someone asks you to do it.” Or “seeing what needs to be done and hoping someone else will do it.” Or. . . well, anyway, you get the picture.

Too often we refuse to step up and help because no one asked us. We expect or assume someone else will do what needs to be done, or maybe it’s that we just don’t care enough to help someone else who is in need. Ouch! That last one hurts me sometimes.

Hey, now! I’m not just talking about helping out at church. It could mean helping out with household chores, putting away a lost buggy in the parking lot at the grocery store, sending a card, carrying the equipment bag at ball practice, visiting someone who is sick or lonely or stepping up at work to help where it’s needed. . . before you are asked.

Seeing what needs to be done, and doing it. That’s initiative, and it’s sorely needed. In showing initiative, we look different than the world. In showing initiative, we show the world what Jesus looked like when he saw what needed to be done and did it–for us.

Mama Mia! Powerful stuff that initiative. So take the “initiative initiative.” Ask God what He needs you to see that needs to be done to help someone else see Him!

No Cause for Alarm

The text began with the words, “Hey Mom, no cause for alarm, but I’m in the hospital.” Ohhhh Kayyyyyy. Followed by something like, “I won’t be able to put money on my phone from here, but someone will message you.” Two hours later a following text asks, “Am I immunized for diptheria?” Ohhhh Kayyyyyy. No cause for alarm though, Mom, even though I’m across the world in another country where, by the way, I moved without ever giving you my complete phone number!

He’s still in that hospital, but he’s doing better. He doesn’t have diptheria, and I can’t say that I was ever alarmed–concerned, but not alarmed. During the course of the week, the words of his text kept coming back to my mind. They made me smile. It sounded just like him, and his words were certainly reassuring. I was also working on a new HiSKidZ lesson–a lesson that would take us through the events leading up to the death and resurrection of Jesus. A lesson that would be teaching HiSKidZ that “Whatever happens, remember what Jesus promised.”

Jesus’ disciples experienced some pretty awesome stuff: miraculous meals, spit in the mud healings, and waking of the dead, as well as some pretty scarry stuff like the death threats, Jesus’ arrest and the trial and crucifiction that followed. Ultimately, we know Jesus tried to explain all that would happen, but the disciples just weren’t able to grasp it. We also know that Jesus was trying to prepare them that some pretty crazy things were going to be happening and that whatever happened, there would be “no cause for alarm.”

“No cause for alarm” because Jesus’ arrest was part of the plan. “No cause for alarm” because His death was part of the plan, too. “No cause for alarm” because with His plan His body wouldn’t stay in the tomb. “No cause for alarm” because His plan included leaving them the Holy Spirit. “No cause for alarm,” because His plan promises that He’s coming back again. “No cause for alarm” because He’s God and we can trust Him and His ultimate plan–whatever happens.

Looking back and looking forward, because of my son’s text, God reminded me that no matter what happens, the One who came to save us has a great plan for His great glory. So, no matter what it is we are facing, we can have rest, we can be at peace and we can trust Him no matter what with “no cause for alarm.”

David and Goliath

Only a Boy Named David

Our KidZChoiR did their little number on the bells yesterday at church. It was great!!! Simply a blessing. Peace like a river was flowing through our sanctuary, along with joy like a fountain and love like an ocean. I think God was pleased with the sincerity of their hearts and their willingness to not only use their talents for Him, but their willingness to have learned a new method to share Him with others.

Our HiSKidZ theme virtue this month has been HONOR, and yesterday’s big idea was to honor God in front of others. I loved how their special in music fit so well the truth we were teaching in our classes. God is so cool like that.

Our lessons all month have centered around David. We started out with the boy David. Gotta love the David songs:

“out in the fields watchin’ over his sheep, with a sling and a crook just like Little Bo Peep. Went into battle with a giant man. With one shot he knocked him in the garbage can.”

Okay, so maybe it’s not the “Only a Boy Named David” you remember singing when you were a kid. But we love our “Davey, Davey” version, and we do sing the old classic, too.

Well, we also covered teenager David and his BFF Jonathan, David the Dad and his son with great hair (and abs–ABSalom!), and King David and his grouchy, keepin’ life size idols in the house wife. The guy had quite a life. I tell ya what, He may have been only a boy, but there is so much we can learn from his ups and downs.

David’s life holds with it so many of the qualities we want to see instilled in our children today–in our society today. Off the top of my head here are my top 10 favorites. (The list started out as “a few of my favorites”–but there were just too many!!)

1–David knew God. Straight up. He knew Him well. He talked to Him, wrote songs to Him, and was transparantly honest with Him, and it touches every area of his life.
2–David trusted God. This lion killin, bear killin, giant killin man knew that God was the One behind his successes, and that God could be behind everyone’s.
3–David had a giant size perspective on life. He understood that our problems, no matter how big, aren’t the focus. God is. He knew the truth behind the phrase, “Don’t tell God how big your giant is, tell the giant how big your God is.”
4–David was bold and courageous.. David wasn’t afraid to say what needed to be said when it needed to be said, to go when it was time to go, and to fight when it was time to fight. He understood that courage came from knowing God was going before you, coming up behind you and had you covered on all sides.
5–David understood honor. David honored his God, his family, his best friend, his King, his children, and the people of his kingdom.
6–David was humble. Knowing there was currently a king in power, and knowing that he would someday be the king in power. He let God set the timetable, even when that king wanted to to pin him to the wall.
7–David kept his promises. I love the story of David going back to find Jonathan’s son and bringing him to his table, keeping a boyhood promise to his BFF through Jonathan’s handicapped son.
8–David could admit his mistakes. If you remember the story of the David and the bathtub lady, you remember David did on occassion make some “royal mistakes.” However, when pointed out to him, he owned up, repented and kept going. He let God’s grace, not his past mistakes define Him.
9–David wasn’t only a boy. He grew up. He owned up. He manned up. He put the boyhood things aside and became the man of God he was called to be.
10–David was faithful to the end. He finished well. He ran his race, played his game, and his did it til the end.

As we raise our children, influence our families, and make our mark in our communities, it would do us much good to live out, pour in and hold onto the character and virtues we see from David’s life. Not only do we need a few more boys like David, we could use a few good men like him as well.

Today’s Post Is Brought to You By The Letter “F”

As I was jotting some things down in my “Twenty Minutes with Jesus” time today, I got to my personal prayer list and realized several of the the things I am praying for begin with the letter “F”. (Yeah, not much gets past me–LOL!) One of the things didn’t start with “F” so I decided to take that one and find a synonym that did and Voila! a slightly easier way for my brain to really remember the things I want to be praying for. Just in case your inquiring mind wants to know what they are, here ya go:

Disclaimer: Words are listed are in no particular order. Well, except for the first one, because it is the word “first.” On second thought I think I will put it last in accordance with the whole, “first will be last and last will be first” scripture (Matthew 20:16). Of course, last doesn’t start with “F” so it won’t be first here–or on the list at all for that matter. But anyway, to the list.

Faithfulness–I’m praying to be faithful, for my family to be faithful, the church to be faithful and my HiSKidZ, leaders and families to be faithful. I was reading in Isaiah today (chapter 57) and was reminded again that faithfulness is a big deal.

Family–I’m praying for families. For our church families, the families of our communities, my family, and my family’s family to be. I’m praying for our families to be strong, committed, and to keep trusting in God NO MATTER WHAT. (252 shout out) As our boys get older, I find myself praying more and more about the women who may become part of our extended family one day, and the generations that will come behind us. And, yeah, I’m praying that they will be faithful. Again, in Isaiah, I saw how easily families were deceived and left the truth.

Focus–I’m praying for focus. I’m praying that we will focus on Jesus, His Word, His truth. Psalm 119 is filled to the brim with encouragement and direction for staying focused on God’s word, statutes, precepts and direction for our life. His Word is truly “a lamp to our feet and a light to our path.” We need to keep focused on that path and the One who lights it for us.

Future–I’m praying for the future. Not just our future here on earth, but the certain hope of our future in heaven. We are reminded again and again (and I was reminded again today in Isaiah) that this world is not our home–we are just passing through. It serves us well to keep our eyes on the prize at the end of this race. I’m praying that we will live for the future as we live in the present.

Faith–I’m praying that my faith will increase. The disciples once said to Jesus, “Lord increase our faith.” What a request! Oh that we would have our faith increased each and every day and then share and live out that faith with the people around us. That’s what I’m talking about!! and. . .

First–I’m praying to keep Christ first. First place, all the time, every day. My son Trevor used to say something like, “If you didn’t get first, you lost.” Of course I would tell him that it’s not all about winning. It’s how you played and what you learned and the attitude you did it with. But in this case, I think 1st is it!!! If He doesn’t get 1st in my life, I lose. There is no other place I want Christ to be. There is no other place He deserves to be, and ultimately, there is no other place He will be, cuz He is God and there is no one like Him.

So thank you, letter “F”, for some inspiration, motivation and the chance for some exclamation to be going out to the Faithful God who has brought me into His Family, taken First place in my life, is growing my Faith and giving me a Future.

Amen!

Words with Friends

Words with Friends…oh yeah….I”m there. I love this game.  When I first began playing it however, I innocently thought it was just a game. You know, just something you played, well, with friends, for fun. . . for pleasure. . . for connection. Well, hello Dawn! Wake up and smell the oatmeal!! I WAS SO WRONG!  This game is about strategy, and cunning, and domination–at least to some people I play.  I learned that you can’t just play your word, you have to play your word  to block your friend from making plays. You need to cut them off from getting ahead.  You need to hold back until just the right time and then make your move.  You need to take advantage of every double letter, triple word score combination you can until the last QAT is played. And then, you post your domination to the world on facebook!!!!

This month our children’s minstry is learning about self control. . . .doing what you should do, not what you want to do. And this past week our lesson has been about our words–which has had our kids thinking a lot about words with friends. So, of course I have been thinking about words with friends.  Not as in the game, but as in our lives.  Our kids have revealed how easy it is for real life to become like the game. One minute you are friends, the next opponents. One minute you are just having fun and somehow the next you have planned out a strategy to bring them down.  The effects of insecurity, pride and self centeredness take over and we lose all self control  finding ourselves belittling, gossiping, or  controlling those we love for our own protection and self interest.  But, it’s not just kids who have that struggle, now is it?

Scripture has more than 400 references to the word “words.”  We speak them, twist them, repeat them, hear them, fix them on our hearts, recite them, uphold them, fulfill them and take them to heart.  We confirm them, mark them, despise them, deny them, search for them and test them. They can cut, ensnare, be spewed, soothe or sharpen. They can be perverse, sweet, seductive, truthful or lies.  And if the truth be told, most of us have used them in all these ways at one time or another.  But when all is said and done, I am thankful for a friend and mentor who passed on these words to me when I was young mother raising our two sons. The cross stitch she gave me hung by my phone for years (before we called them landlines, and most of us still had them!!). It is still hanging in my kitchen today as a great guide to how to choose my WORDS WITH FRIENDS:  Let your conversation always be full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you will know how to answer everyone (Colossians 4:6).  Thanks, dear friend, for using your words with friends to encourage me and reminding me that someday God would be using my words with friends to encourage others.

If you have a favorite scripture or saying that helps you or your kids use words in an enouraging way, feel free to share it here.  Let’s work together to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of us may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”(from Hebrews 3:13)  and if you ever have the time maybe we can get in a quick game of wordswithfriends soon!

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