answered prayer

Isn’t it amazing when God answers a prayer? Even when we know He can, we know He has, then when He blesses us with another provided need, another confirmation, another open door…wow. How blessed are we?!

This morning, He did that for me. We have always had kids, well, teens or kids our boys’ ages around the house. Even now that both the boys are married and on their own, we end up with “kids” around here randomly.

I can’t make myself NOT call them “kids” even though many of them are moving into their twenties now! Many we have known since they were pre-teens from a former church. Their peers seem to always look up to my boys and so even when we left that church, we kept in touch with those kids who really connected with us.

Some of them have broken our hearts many times. Some have made major turnarounds in their lives. Some have disappointed us but then they have overcome whatever struggle they had and made a good life, a righteous life, for themselves. Then some we have never been able to break through with, never been able to get past their hard hearts, their disbelief in a loving Savior. Those we still pray for and sometimes fret over.

This morning though, one of the boys who really carved out a special place with us all contacted me through Facebook. He’s such a sweet boy but from a rather rough home without Christian parents or other Godly influences in the home. That’s always hard to overcome. We have loved on him, laughed with him, helped him fix broken parts on his vehicle so he could get to work and pleaded with him when he fell back into detrimental things.

prodigal son

He’s been gone, away from us at least, for over a year. He lives in the next town, so we didn’t see him anymore other than an infrequent post on Facebook. Most of those were short rants or photos of him with his middle finger extended with sad eyes looking directly at you. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ So heartbreaking for me, but we didn’t push, we didn’t pursue him. We gave him his space realizing he’s an adult now, he’s not actually our child although we have worried and prayed for him as if he was.

This morning… what an answered prayer. He contacted me. With his usual opening line,

“Hey momma.”
Yeah, he’s always called me that. We small talked for a bit, then I asked him

“How are you really?”

Forgive

He’s never been an open book, he won’t share what’s troubling him most without a lot of coercion sometimes. The same was true today, although he did at least tell me that he was really struggling, that he knew he’d been doing wrong and wanted to change things. I immediately texted my husband, the boys and their wives to get them praying right then! I pointed him back to Jesus, when he said he didn’t know what to do or how to start, I told him, “You start with Jesus.”

I went on to say, “I know that sounds simplistic, but it’s true. You have to start with getting back in tune with Him before the rest will ever fall into place.”

Then he said, “I have a question.”

“Shoot,” I told him.

“Are you all mad at me or do you think I’m no good now?”

*deep breath* Bless his heart, I quickly assured him that none of us were mad and we all missed him. I told him he’d always had a special place in my heart, that I worried and prayed for him as if he was my own. I told him I wanted him to go to church with us and he said he wanted to go.

He asked me to pray for him, told me he loved me and missed us all and couldn’t wait to see us again.

*long sigh* I’m just SO relieved! Just as if one of my own sons had come to mend a rift between us. Thank God for His mercy, for keeping him safe all this time, for letting him feel secure enough to reach out to me again.

I can’t wait to see what God’s going to do in his life.

“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.โ€
~Mark 11:25

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update on the latest “brand new”…

Just wanted to pop on really quick and share that we are really LOVING these new groups. We’ve had our first meeting a church and it was just great. The staff worked with me on getting my sister moved into a group for women, which she was perfectly fine with, thank God!

group-sihlouette

We had just that other couple I mentioned and then the husband of another couple who is going to be leading a group. They are the ones I had contacted a couple months ago about starting a group of our own. The system isn’t complete yet, so the few people for their group didn’t show up and his wife was home sick, so he sat in with us.

We had the best conversations and just a time of getting to know one another! It was awesome and I’m not sure if that was because we were so relieved to have gotten my sis satisfactorily situated in another group and then gotten along so well with our own group or what! *laugh* Maybe it was a little of both. AND that we were just so tickled to finally be getting somewhere with having a small group again. We’ve sure missed that sense of community and comradery!

group-bible in hand

The next night, we had our third meeting with our LIFE group and it was the best yet too. Our kids didn’t get to go because our son was working over and our daughter-in-law didn’t really want to go without him. But everyone else was there and it was just a great time discussing God’s Word and fellowshipping.

Afterward, everyone had gone home and it was just us with the host couple and we had a really nice time of chatting about all kinds of stuff. The husband is a car guy too, so he and Tommy had a great time talking about the projects Tommy has going right now. I’m so glad he has found this man who loves the same things he does AND loves the Lord too. I hope he will get to come “hang out” in the garage with Tommy soon. I think they’d both be on Cloud 9 with so much to talk about and get into out there.

Anyhow, nothing else much, just wanted to toss that out there. I’m so thankful that we have these two great groups in our lives right now. I am praying God does mighty things in and through us all!

Blessings,
G~

another brand new thang…

Lately, my husband and I have had a longing for community. For a group of closer friends who we could share with and encourage and who could encourage us. At our church, the staff has been struggling a bit with how to make groups a very integral part of our congregation. We go to what some might call a “mega-church” although realistically, it’s not that in the true sense of the word. But for our rural area, it’s certainly a much larger church than usual.

Anyway, the church experienced some sudden growth spurts at different times, which always makes for some trials in how to handle the influx of people in the different areas of ministry.

At one time we were in a “small group” with our lead pastor. We loved it, it was a great way to get to know him a little more personally and of course, to meet others in the church that we may not have otherwise gotten to know.

As time went on, however, the group grew too large for one room so we split and somehow we ended up in the group without our pastor, which turned out to be okay, we just would have chosen differently. And so this new group did well for several months until one night, the leader and his wife didn’t show up. There were about 3 other couples there and two new people showed up as well, so we all just kind of went on with things the way we usually did. The next week, the same thing happened and another new person showed up.

I was concerned about the situation because I’d seen the couple who were leaders of the group at church that morning, so I sent a message to one of the associate pastors asking what we should do or if he knew if there was something wrong with the other couple. The reply I got was “Congratulations! You have just become group leaders!” Hahaha… um, no. ๐Ÿ™‚

Actually, we didn’t mind, it was just a little scary to be given that title and so we asked the other two couples who were regular attenders if they wanted to lead and were told emphatically NO, so we carried on with the group.

After about a year, things changed, the church began to want groups to meet in homes instead of the church which made ME nervous and then things happened like one couple’s job schedules changed drastically and they couldn’t meet the same night anymore, then another couple had some scheduling issues and finally, our group just kind of fell apart. Soon after, though, the church tried a new approach to groups and asked two of our regular couples to become leaders of their own groups.

That didn’t work so well as we were put into a large room with a sign telling what sort of group we had (age range, location, meeting day, etc) and then people would come and “join” whichever group would work for them. We had one couple in our new group and they seemed to always have some conflict and didn’t often show up, so that fell apart too and we had no group at all.

It’s been that way for a couple years now so we finally just gave up and filled out a form to be put into a group. We ended up being put into a group lead by a couple we know and love, but they’ve had a group for years and still had one couple in it that had been there from the start. The other couple was nice, we knew and liked them as well, but it was really hard with so much history between them to feel as if we belonged. Maybe that was our own doing, but there it is. We just felt so outside the loop it was uncomfortable to try and belong. As it was, this all happened just before Thanksgiving so we put off scheduling a meeting til after that and Christmas since our church does a MAJOR Christmas event that draws thousands and so many of us volunteer to help with it.

And so here it is the end of February and we hadn’t had the first meeting. I wasn’t sure if they’d been meeting without us or what, but found out that they hadn’t started meeting yet. I guess life is crazy for all of us!

And so, while I was serving at camp for a young girls’ Emmaus weekend, one of the pastors called and asked Tommy if we would lead a group. He immediately said we would, which kind of surprised me, but I was glad.

The fact was that I’d been talking with another lady that had discussed desire for a group to join and was contacting another to see if we could just start our own study group. What was even funnier is that after this lady and her husband said they would love to start a group with us, we got this call and they also got asked to lead a group!

—February 27, 2016—
(that’s what happens when I get interrupted repeatedly during a post! LOL!)

The other thing that was going on during this same time is an Emmaus friend of ours and her husband were starting LIFE group at their home and asked if we wanted to join them. (read about what LIFE group is at the link above)

The first week there was only one other couple there and it was nice, we got excited about it. The curriculum revolves around the real meaning of the Tree of Life and the Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil. So far, we really like it.

So, here it is a week later and last time I checked, there are three people signed up for our discipleship group. One of them is my sister, which we’re not sure about. I mean, one of the objectives we’ve been given is to get people to open up. That’s NOT as ominous as it sounds. The idea is to form a close, cohesive group that comes to love and depend on each other and what better way to do that than by sharing about our lives? As you may or may not know, my sister and I have had a pretty non-functional, almost non-existent relationship most of our lives. Lots of things contributed to that, but nevertheless, we have just in this past year been able to deal with it in a more productive way. Once she went on an Emmaus walk for herself, frankly, she almost became a different (better!) person! Her inward, self-focused thinking changed and it’s been a really great thing.

For the past several months, she’s actually been going to our church which is a big change for her all by itself. Much the same way it was for us. She’s really been loving it and learning more than ever. So anyway, it’s NOT that the relationship is still so strained, it’s just that, well, she’s my sister so I would think either it’d be easier to open up with other people or that it would just be nicer to chat with people she doesn’t have history with. I guess she just wanted to be where she knew someone, but we are hoping that either it works EXTREMELY well, or that she’ll see the wisdom in moving to another group. I’m hoping there is a women’s group she can get in since, for the time being, her husband isn’t going to be coming with her.

So anyhow, the other two people in the group is a couple that we sort-of know. Well, we know the husband very well. He and I went to school together from kindergarten through high school! This is his second wife, so I don’t know her, but it’ll be interesting to see how this thing works.

We were under the impression that the staff would be putting people into groups, but apparently, they are able to choose which group they want. I’m not sure, but from what one staffer told us, I think maybe they are surprised by this too…I think they assumed it was set up so that the people were only signing up with their info and not actually able to choose a group!

We had our second week at LIFE group and more people were there, including Corey, our eldest son and his wife! I was so glad they agreed to come and hope they will continue. Corey’s a youth pastor at another church and they are both always just stretched to the limit with church activities. I get a little irritated (okay, a LOT irritated sometimes!) because of the way the church will schedule things that require Corey’s involvement without consulting him. Just last weekend, they took the group to Winter Jam and then had a lock-in at the church and the next day he was responsible for much of the Sunday service then they had a belated Valentine’s dinner planned that, of course, the youth are supposed to be in charge of. WHY would anyone schedule all that stuff the same weekend?!?! It happens all the time and I really wish Corey would just tell them NOPE sometimes, but he usually picks up whatever they throw at him and deals with it. *sigh* He’s much more patient than me, obviously.

So there it is… I’ll post again with news of how the discipleship group goes. Maybe we will have more people by Wednesday and it will all balance out. ๐Ÿ™‚

Blessings!

why we don’t “do” halloween

First of all, let me say that I am not condemning any of my Christian friends who are posting pictures of their kids dressed up in costumes and preparing to help at their church’s “Fall-Festival/Carnival/Whatever” alternatives for Halloween.

This is just MY opinion and the reasons behind and the way we got to skipping Halloween.

Halloween

My two sons are grown and married now, so this is ancient history. But the subject of Halloween and whether to do or not to do it came up with a good friend who has small children and is facing the same questions I did at this stage, so in light of the season, I thought I’d share with you also.

First, some a-little-more-than-ancient history (we’re talkin’ stone age here) my birthday is the day after Halloween. As you probably already know if you’ve visited here before, I’m also a type 1 diabetic for the past forty-some years. Me and Halloween had issues, okay? We celebrated it when I was a kid growing up in a Christian home. Most often, it was combined with my birthday. I both loved and hated it. Loved the dressing up (I often made up my own costumes, so that’s always fun) but hated collecting a bunch of goodies I couldn’t eat. I was often the very sickest each year because of stinkin’ Halloween/birthday because I could always figure out where the stash was hidden or would overdo it on birthday treats. What can I say? Such was the life of a child with diabetes in the seventies. It was a lot harder to figure how to dose to cover candy and other treats. But I (hugely) digress…

My boys are four years apart. When the youngest was still a toddler, we always dressed them up in very non-scary costumes. I had the crayon, lion, Mickey Mouse and scarecrow costumes from my eldest that my baby son just had to wear, of course. We didn’t think much about the consequences of participating in the traditions. Not only were our babies babies, but my husband and I were babies ourselves, both spiritually and emotionally…and physically for that matter. We just hadn’t put any thought into how we’d handle it when they were older nor what the holiday even meant or represented.

I have seen heated and ugly debates online between Christians about whether or not it was appropriate or whatever to celebrate this holiday and I DO NOT want to do or start that here. PLEASE understand me when I tell you I am not looking for any division to come from this. I just want to offer you, perhaps, another perspective and give you some things to think about.

To begin, let me share the testimony my friend had found on Facebook that started the discussion between us.

A Former Witch’s View on Halloween by Carol Komancki

“I see images of Christians being slaughtered for their faith—- blood everywhere, children- young adults -grown men/women- willing to die rather then deny Christ—— it takes my breath away.
What I don’t understand is when Christians celebrate Halloween, decorate with gory bloody images, put up skeletons and images of death and darkness, without a second thought! And they will argue and debate trying to make it okay and refuse to give up celebrating that nite!
I am an ex witch, saved by the blood of Jesus Christ, when I was practicing witchcraft, Halloween was the biggest night of the year for those practicing the occult. People try to say it’s about the candy and fun, it goes way deeper then that!
The roots of this highly pagan holiday remain the same, it’s a night of death -darkness- gore—- and no matter how much you dress it up to make it pretty, no matter how many excuses you make, it’s a night to celebrate Samhein——– the god of the dead!
I don’t recall those who practice paganism coming on Christmas morning to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ the Lord of life.
Yet Christians will celebrate the pagan ritual of Halloween —–the god of death and darkness. …..
I don’t care to debate….
You can do whatever you choose —-but it won’t change the truth or the facts!!!!”

I think we all know that the origins of Halloween are not particularly good. As we often do, though, we’ve ‘tamed it down’, we’ve turned what can be dangerous into something cute and fun. We’ve said “It’s just for fun. We’re not playing with a Ouija board or anything, for crying out loud!” I have read many different articles and books about what Halloween means, what it represents and how it is diametrically opposed to all that God represents. As Christians, we serve a RISEN FROM THE DEAD Savior who’s all about LIFE. Halloween is all about death. No matter how much fun dressing up is, how innocent that is on its own, when I do it to participate with Halloween, MY belief is that it ceases to be innocent.
occult

So our experience…once the boys were a little older and we were in the beginning of our homeschooling adventure, we started to discuss what Halloween was and talk about what we, as a Christian family, should do or think about it. We came up with this idea of dressing up as Biblical characters. At the time, I thought, “Sure. That’s a great trade-off. They can “witness” while they trick-or-treat.”

I went to great lengths to create this Goliath suit for my eldest and a shepherd costume for the youngest. The shepherd was easy. We even got a patch of leather and some leather “string” and made an old fashioned sling! For Goliath, I spray painted an old pair of his tennis shoes with silver metallic paint. Made him a breast plate, shield, arm and leg guards out of poster board and painted those too. I then used some of the leather strap to tie them on and drew in the details with a black sharpie. It was pretty awesome looking if I do say so myself! (of course, I can’t locate a photo of it to show you!)

The day finally arrived. Hubby and I headed out with the boys, armed with a couple weeks’ worth of studying the story so they could tell people about who they were and many discussions about why we were approaching Trick-or-Treating this way. They were so anxious for someone to recognize who they were, but no one had a clue. Most of them would ask, as people usually do, but when the boys told them, almost every single person just got a blank look on their faces. No one even knew who David and Goliath were and the one time our eldest tried to explain, the person wasn’t interested. Once he said, “They are people from the Bible who…” the person just sort of cut him off and proceeded to do something else. The youngest didn’t really perceive what had happened, but our big boy? He was certainly disappointed and my heart hurt for him.

Besides this awful experience, there was everyone else’s costumes. Most all of the other ones we saw were gory, monster-y type of costumes. Some of them were really hideous with lots of bloody guts and such. I could tell the boys were a little shocked, if not scared at the sight of them. I felt like it was something we shouldn’t be exposing them to.

I was rethinking my idea of “trade-offs” with Halloween. Later, it came to me that wiccans don’t show up at church for the Christmas play with their Book of Wiccan in hand, ya know? Why were we, as Christians, trying to share Jesus with people on a holiday that has NOTHING to do with our faith? Even if not all of them were celebrating “the true meaning” of Halloween, why were we trying to shine a light in the middle of a holiday with its roots firmly planted in very dark, and yes, fully evil, ideals and origins?

I’m not saying, of course, that we shouldn’t try to shine God’s light when we are in dark situations or places, but should we step into a very dark holiday, to shine it there while we sorta-kinda participate in it? While we play with the fringes of it?

That’s something I contemplated and chewed on for many years, even before this Halloween that I just described to you. After that experience, we just decided as a family that Halloween would be an extra special family-fun night at home. My kids never suffered any ill effects from not going door to door to beg candy while dressed in a costume. *smile*

jesus-pumpkin

For a couple of years, we took part in Halloween alternatives at different churches. I don’t think if I had young children now that we’d do this. The first time we did it, it was actually fairly well-done, and by that I mean that it really didn’t have a lot to do with Halloween at all. However, many people that showed up didn’t really seem to “get” that this was something to do instead of traditional Halloween activities. I DO understand the idea behind churches having these events at all…that it’s an attempt to give church kids and families a way to do fun stuff on a night when most everyone else is taking part in more dark-themed parties and such. But it’s not presented this way for the most part. Now I have also had friends or seen other churches do a “Reformation Day” event, and I’ll admit that I don’t fully understand what that is other than a celebration of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses to the door of “The Church”. [I’ve linked some words so that you can research more if you want] This is linked primarily to the Catholic and Presbyterian churches. Because I was raised in a different denomination, this event wasn’t emphasized or really taught to me. However, when I have seen photos of one of these events, they were also dressed up, but as historical figures from that era, not as random characters or superheros or monsters. Now, that may not be the usual practice for Reformation Day at churches. This was a congregation made up of mostly homeschool families, so that might have just been unique to them, ya know? ALLLL that to say this:
halloween-alternate
I think IF a church is going to do something like this, it should be markedly different from a Halloween event. And that’s just my opinion because the last time we did this at another church, it was very disappointing to me and confusing to my kids. Don’t host a Halloween alternative event at your church and then have it look exactly like what the world’s doing, right? I mean, that’s how I see it.

Our family’s journey to really rejecting Halloween was sort of meandering and wandering more than anything. It wasn’t some decision we made all of a sudden. And it’s still kind of a fuzzy area, even now that our kids are grown and married. I mean, we still have friends who don’t feel the way we do or maybe haven’t arrived at the place we did after our own journey, ya know? But I believe it is definitely worthy of discussion and civil, loving debate. It’s something that families should talk about and decide where they stand on the topic. What is your opinion and how does it line up with what scripture says? I believe it’s something we should settle within ourselves, within our families if you have young children. The topic is going to confront you…halloween-shouldChristiansRomans 14:5 – “…Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind.”