Thursday, August 28, 2008
Don't believe the lie you can't write poetry! My heart melts when writers step outside their respective comfort zones to tip-toe on uncertain ice, only to find the footing is more sure than they anticipated."
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
When is the last time you just read through the book of Proverbs? We read through the Psalms all of the time (I know I do), but what about the book next door, to the right? Do we study Proverbs? How would you STUDY Proverbs? Well, I guess you'd pray for wisdom and understanding right? :) After all, that's, literally, what it's all about. But then, we should pray for wisdom and understanding when we study any book of the Bible, shouldn't we?
Today, I just thought I'd give you the introduction (from the NKJV) of Proverbs and invite you to start personally studying this book. It's not usually a book we go to and say we're going to study in depth. Well, some might, but most just kind of go through it, looking for gold nuggets here and there. Find a reliable commentary that discusses Proverbs, get a few other study helps pertaining to the book, pray and ask God to open your understanding of the verses (maybe do this first), etc., and with all of that, understand that Proverbs was written in the Hebrew language and in poetic form. Understand that it was thought by priests and prophets that Proverbs were written because it was understood that wisdom was the way of relating to God. It could be used by anyone, no matter their personality or intellectual ability. It gave short, understandable ways of communicating human life, for any and everyone. The priests understood that, and they understood that God knew that we were all different with different needs, but wisdom and "your own special way" of communicating with God was absolutely necessary. And so came the need to write Proverbs. I'm sure there is much more to this story, but that's an important part.
Here is a quote by Roger Hahn about this Wisdom Literature (Proverbs): "People today may respond to the wisdom literature differently according to their personality and training. Wisdom Literature often frustrates people who love the heavy-duty theology of Isaiah or Paul. Some of them even call the Wisdom material secular because it deals so much with life on earth. Other people who have been frustrated by theological intricacies often love Proverbs and other wisdom sayings. They like the simple, bottom line summaries of what pleases God. Regardless of our personality type and the way we individually might respond to the Wisdom literature, we can rejoice that God has included it in the great variety of kinds of Scripture to meet the needs of different people."
So with that, here is Proverbs 1:1-7 to get you started on what I pray is at least a curious journey, if not an in-depth study on why God allowed the Proverbs to be included in the 66 book collection we call the Bible. Remember, all Scripture is profitable.
1:1 The proverbs of Solomon the son of David, king of Israel: 2 To know wisdom and instruction, to perceive the words of understanding,
3 To receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, judgement, and equity;
4 To give prudence to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion--
5 A wise man will hear and increase learning, and a man of understanding will attain wise counsel,
6 To understand a proverb and an enigma, the words of the wise and their riddles.
7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
If you never get farther in the book of Proverbs than the first seven verses, they sum up what it is the Lord would have us get. Get wisdom, but in all your "getting," get understanding, and even bigger than that, fear or respect the Lord. That's when you have true knowledge. You'd be a fool without it.
Have a wonderful day in the Lord.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
This will be an easy one today, but I think it will be fun. I just want to know, if you can taste any tea you want to, what would it be? Now, you have to help us out by not just listing the tea, but leaving us a link as to where we might be able to find it, in case we want to try it too. Give your reason why you've been "on your head" to try this tea. We want to know. To make it even better, leave us a tempting picture of it. Write about it in my comments if you don't have a blog, but if you do, please post about it today (or the next couple of days) on your blog, and link back here at Mr. Linky so we can all share, K. Thanks, and let's play!
(Picture from Katrina at http://www.teapages.blogspot.com/)
I so want to try "Tung Ting Premium. This young leaf tea from the highest plantations above Sungpoling (Pine Bluff) is regarded as one of Taiwan's best. Grown across a hilly plateau sheltered by groves of areca palm and giant bamboo, the tender leaves and buds brew a pale golden-green cup with a supurb flavor and a subtle natural floral aroma. It is one of the finest green oolongs. Use spring water at a temperature of 80° to 90° C. (180° to 195° F.) and multiple short steepings." I want to try this in a pale colored inside and medium blue outside, handle-less, Japanese cup. Something taller than it is short and wide. I want to try it virgin first and then try it with raw sugar. You can purchase this tea at http://www.holymtn.com/tea/oolongtea.htm and many other tea companies if you google the name of the tea. Be careful to choose reputable companies that don't warehouse teas long after purchase and shipment. Ask them by emailing or calling. Check for quality control, storage use, how they source their tea, etc. What am I saying? Get the best tea your money can afford from the best supplier. This doesn't mean expensive, it means quality.
What about you?
Have a wonderful tea day today. We certainly will. I'm going to brew a Japanese Sencha Fukamushi and my girls just finished a green ginger peach.
Monday, August 25, 2008
Have you shown your children the importance of grandparents or grand-mentors?
I have learned, even more since I've had children, the value and importance of grandparents. I really appreciated mine when I was growing up. I had only my grandparents on my father's side, and they lived only 4 houses up from me, on the same side of the road, so I had access to them all of the time. What a blessing!
Even if your children have no natural grandparents living or don't have ones that have established or maintained a relationship with them, they can be adopted by grand-mentors. These are people who have chosen to love and invest in the life of your child.
My children's grandparents love them very much. And as you may already know, grandparents bring a pleasure and quality into our children's lives that we cannot. This relationship between them is special. I support that as much as possible.
I have raised my children in a manner to love, honor, and respect their grandparents. I've raised them to respect adults in general, but I wanted them to have a real appreciation for older citizens, especially their grandparents or older people they came into regular contact with. My mother taught us about the benefits of this when we were young. She just had a heart for older people (she still does), and so she passed that heart on to us. She spent hours in the company of older people, doing things with them, ministering to them and their needs, and just listening to them. We didn't totally or fully understand that then, but I certainly do now. My mother still goes out of her way to be available to the needs of elderly people. She has been greatly rewarded.
I love to hear the stories, tales, and experiences of older people. There is always richness there. And I love the older women who understand and live out the Titus model. They go out of their way to make sure that they impart their wisdom to the next generation. Our job is to then take that information home to our girls. This should always perpetuate itself.
Sunday, I was at church, and was looking in a room for one of my daughters. I peered in and she is talking to an 84 year old lady, with the biggest smile on her face, with so much joy--you could see and sense it, even from a distance. This daughter is only 9 years old. They were so engaged in conversation. This is a lady who decided a long time ago, that she loved us and that our family was worth her investing her time in. She thought she was being blessed by us, but really, we are so blessed by her. All of our children love her. She was in my wedding 2 years ago, and although she is not blood related, she was escorted by one of my boys down the aisle as the Honorary Grandmother. She is treated as such, and so, there is no difference. She tells everyone her role in our lives with pleasure. God has blessed us with such a gift and she has imparted things in our lives that will live on, even after she is gone.
This works out quite well because my children don't have their loving but distant natural grandparents around. We visit them several times a year, but they just simply don't have the privilege of being raised with grandparents near. Well, our grand-mentors make up for that. There are so many loving seniors who will be glad to have a relationship with your children, whether natural or in a local nursing or retirement home. There are so many opportunities awaiting them and your child. If you haven't already, won't you make an effort to help promote such a relationship? Your children will grow hearts of compassion and ones that seek after wisdom, and the older person will have freshness and joy added to their lives and so much to give to your child's.
Mom and Dad, there are just some relationships we can't copy or even come close to emulating, and that is one they share with God's seasoned people. I look forward to being a grandmother one day, if God says the same. I want to practice what I've been privy to. I want to give it all I've got, and I want to end well. What about you?
My daybook entry is below. Please join Peggy, the creator of The Simple Woman's Daybook, and others at her website, www.thesimplewoman.blogspot.com. This is a meme that happens at her site every Monday. Be sure to tune in or start your own entry of TSWD. I was so excited about it, I thought I'd use Peggy's ideas to create something similar (not online, but at home in journals) for my pre-teen and teenage girls.
For today August 25, 2008
Outside my window I see pouring rain. We've had rain for two days now, but we need it. It looks dreary, so the only thing that makes me happy when I look out is knowing we need the rain and that God sends it.
I am thinking of completing a workable homeschool schedule for the girls. We've been doing some trial and error schedules until we see what fits all of us, and I think we've found something that might work.
I am thankful that I'm finally over (or mostly) that nasty virus that I picked up and suffered through all of last week. Thank you Jesus!
From the kitchen, I see that everyone is finished with breakfast. One of my girls had simple cereal and milk, the other had rice and ketchup (I know, it's gross to me too, but she and my boys love this combination), and I had my usual bowl of oatmeal. I love oatmeal!
I am wearing jogging pants (gray w/white stripes down the side), a white t-shirt, my white satin slippers, and a white cotton scarf on my head. I feel comfortable.
I am creating a science curriculum for my girls, for this year. I found lots of resources that I like, so instead of buying a ready-made science curriculum, I'm creating one.
I am going nowhere today, but I have errands all the rest of this week. I'd better get my rest today huh?
I am reading no book outside of the Bible right now, although I've got plenty of books I'd like to finish or start on. I've been enjoying going to sleep some nights, praying and reading the Psalms.
I am hoping that the groups that I will start teaching at church and the group I have outside of church goes well, that people grow in the Lord, and that God is pleased. I pray that I'm in His will to be doing these things right now. I am also hoping and praying, if God will it so and provides, to go on another mission's trip in mid to late November.
I am hearing the complaints and pleadings of my daughter who has forgotten one of her spelling words and is taking a spelling/vocabulary test, and is afraid that she is going to fail it because, this week, she only had 7 words and she knows that the fewer words you have, the more points will be taken off. She wants me to let her think, and think, and think...and we've wasted too much time already. Her test can't go on all day. She doesn't like bad grades. Praise God for that, but...
Around the house, the floor needs to be vacuumed in the living room and hallway, but otherwise, it's good. It just looks dreary inside because of the dreariness outside and not much light pouring in. We'll have to make ourselves merry today:)
One of my favorite things is to know that we've gotten all that we possibly can, accomplished in the home and homeschool that day, that we haven't wasted time and have had good discipline, but without feeling overbearing and over-regimented.
A few plans for the rest of the week: looking over lessons for a church class I'll help teach, looking over more Ancient Greek history for the girls' History class, making sure I've got all of the books off the shelf that need to go back to the library, making plans to study the Word in-depth this week and not just surface level, and looking over my own private Greek language lessons.
Here is a picture thought I am sharing...
These are my sisters. I introduced myself in a picture last week, and this week, I'm introducing my sisters, who were the maid and matron of honor in my wedding. Don't they look BEAUTIFUL?!! I miss them. That's another reason that they are my picture thought for today. The one on the right is having a baby any day now (this picture is 2 years and 3 months old), boy #3, and the other is working and raising a family. She (on the left) and her husband have 3 children. She got saved earlier this year and she is diligently seeking after the Lord and trying to raise her children in the admonition of Christ. For a while, my sisters and I had the same amount of children, the same genders. Then when I got married 2 years ago, I added a girl to my brood and obviously, my number count changed. I was the oddball after all that time of being the same. Now that my youngest sister is having another, she will join me, a woman of 4! I will no longer be the oddball. But does that mean that there is a baby in my oldest sister's future now? Ha!! She would say an emphatic NO!! She'll let the youngest and I have that all by ourselves. No competition there!!
Have a blessed Monday and thanks for joining me.
The addition: From the learning rooms, my girls are diligently working, even right now, on their version that I created for them of The Simple Woman's Daybook. They are quiet and contemplative. They love that I created something like this for them (not Peggy's work, but as mentioned above, something similar, for my girls' journaling time at home). It was with teen and pre-teen girls in mind, because that's what I have.
Friday, August 22, 2008
So, what does the picture speak to me in 40 words or less? Check below the picture to read.
One day, this will be an Olympic sport. I'll be the Michael Phelps of skating the board, hoping for my chance to win gold. Eight times like Phelps...I can only dream, but... that's where it all starts isn't it?
Have a great day!
Thursday, August 21, 2008
- The peace that surely surpasses ALL human understanding.
- Where my help comes from; my help comes from the Lord.
- The peace He has given me, even in my illness (a virus) this week. The virus forced me to rest and think on Him.
- The peace He gave me in my sleep after I felt like I had been under attack that night (earlier). My husband and I laid awake and prayed together and read Scripture, after I had been going through some things earlier with a friend, finally drifted to sleep, only to be startled awake like I was being attacked in my sleep.
- The peace that He gives me after I pray and just leave the request at His feet and the results up to Him.
- The peace that He gives me when I just simply trust Him.
- The peace I feel (even when our budget is so tight that I can't see how a certain bill will be paid or a proper meal will be served) that God will take care of me. After all, He promised, and I trust Him. If He dresses the fields, takes care of the birds and animals, am I not more than they?
"Thank you Jesus, today and any other time, for the peace that you give and have so generously given. I am reminded by what You do, of who You are and who I am not. I am reminded of the things that I cannot do on my own. I like that, because if I could solve all of my problems and summon necessary peace, I would not need You, and I would become my own God. That's not the way it is though, nor the way it should be. I need you and am daily desperate for you. You are God."
Click on Iris' link above and see what others are so thankful for.
Tuesday, August 19, 2008
(picture from www.xena-productions.com)
I am so excited because today we're having virtual tea parties, and you're all invited to sneak over to someone else's party, and see what they're doing, starting with mine. You might be blessed and find yourself invited to one or some of them! Here's the goal: on your blog, you answer a few questions or complete lead statements that I have here, submit some pictures if you'd like, link up back at my place (if I can figure that out tonight), and have yourselves a tea-sipping good time together! How does that sound? What we're doing is creating with words and/or pictures a virtual tea party. We'll discover, if you were to throw a party and invite your friends or even us, what your party would look like, what kind of taste you have, how unique (or not) your party would be, etc.
Okay, let's party tea lovers! Be very descriptive and inviting. Make us wish we were flies on the wall (oh wait! no flies at a tea party)! My answers will be below all of the questions.
For our Relax and Refresh themed party, you're to come in, sit down, and let my girls and I serve you. You're to feel welcome and like long-time friends the minute you walk in the door.
- First, tell if you would have a casual tea party or something fancy?
- Would yours be a fresh, springy one outdoors like the picture at the top, or would it be an inside fancy set-up like the one above?
- I will use (fresh, artificial, or combination flowers)...
- I will require my guests to dress...
- Children are/are not invited...
- I'm inviting (this many) people... (or, are we all invited?)
- Would you send out invites, call by phone, or email?
- My theme or goal for my party is...
- I'm serving (this kind) of tea... and I'm using (loose leaf or bagged)...
- I have decorated in this way...
- I'm having (low tea or high), therefore the foods I'll serve will be...
- I am/am not using edible flowers...
- I will be serving other beverages, and they are...
- Will you have a poetry reading or tea talk at your party?
- I will use (casual, or oriental, or English, or other style) tea ware at my party...
- I will give away...
- My party will last...
And my answers are:
Mine would be a semi-fancy tea party
I think I'd like this first one to be an indoor party, so we can be in a more intimate, close, get-to-know-each-other type setting. I'd want it to be in my large library (if I had one:)
I will use fresh flowers and greenery, but subtle, not big bouquets or centerpieces. They will be sitting about, and you will notice them, but their beauty will be softspoken. I will have hydrangeas of all types in a couple of different colors and roses in cream.
I will require my guests to dress semi-dressy. Not too dressy, but no jeans, tank tops, etc. I want them to be comfortable, but appropriately dressed for a tea in the library.
Small children will not be invited to this one, but your tween and teenage girls are welcome.
This party, I'm inviting 8 very nice women that I know and am thinking about just now. They'll appreciate this kind of tea party. My next party will be open, and you're all invited!
I'm sending out invites, but I'm reminding the ladies via email. I want indoor, tea party themed, handmade invites in blue and cream, possibly with hydrangea and rose flowers on them. I will be using my fountain pen to hand address each one.
My theme will be Relax and Refresh, and my goal is to invite 8 women whom I know could use the break to come and allow my daughters and I to cater to them, while we join in the festivities also. I want them to feel special and appreciated. I want to show them the love of Christ. I also want the women to get to know each other better.
I'm serving three different types of tea, all loose leaf, and they are PG Tips (black), a lemon verbena and mint herbal tisane, and an imported Japanese green (Sencha Karigane).
I have decorated very lightly, but elegantly. Nothing stuffy or overdone. I want old books around, sparsely positioned antique pieces, a couple of vintage tea-ware sets placed strategically, different style chairs placed throughout the room, promoting comfort and good conversation, low tables placed near each chair with flowers on each and 3-tiered trays, medium lighting, and plenty of walking space around the room. I will have a service table in the back of the room with fresh cups, silverware, re-stock food items, and tea necessities like milk, raw sugar, honey, etc.
I am having low tea, therefore the foods I serve will be delicious, but simple and light. Lots of fresh fruit, 2 different kinds of scones with cream and jams/marmalades, sweet cookies and lemon tarts, 2 different kinds of finger sandwiches with fresh, homemade, thin bread, things of this sort.
I love edible flowers, therefore, I will use them on every tiered tray. I will use different kinds. I will definitely serve my candied rose petals, and would have made my homemade rose-petal- infused butter as another choice with the cream for scones.
I will be serving lemon verbena-infused, fresh-squeezed lemonade with lemon wedges floating in it.
At this particular party, I will not be having a poetry reading or tea talk. This one is just for women to specifically get to relax, get to know each other, share stories, and talk about life as a woman.
I will use a semi-fancy style English tea-ware set, but nothing too florally for this party. The green tea though, will be served in short, simple but elegant, handle-less cups when that tea is requested. They will be of really light egg-shell blue coloring so that it enhances the green tea's color.
I will give away vintage tea cups, wrapped in toule (or is it tulle), and a ribbon at the top. The ribbon will have a handmade tag, that resembles a miniature of the invite on the outside, but handwritten note inside saying, "Thank you for coming. You were a blessing to me. Tea Party 08/20/08" Inside the tea cups will be a homemade blended tea of their choice (herbal, black, or combo) that I blended fresh at home and put in cute little bags. They will get their gifts on the way out of the door.
My party will last until the last lady leaves. No time constraints today. It's all about you ladies!
Now, you don't have to make your answers as long as mine if you don't want to. Feel free to make them as long or short as you like, but remember, be descriptive. It's late here, so if I made any mistakes, charge it to the fact that I'm exhausted but well meaning.
Have a wonderful time visiting each other. I enjoyed giving my answers. Invite your blogging friends to check in on all of us and/or participate. The more the merrier!
Monday, August 18, 2008
Outside My Window...is a dry, steeply slanted (upward), hill that only has sparsely populated grass patches here and there because of the tree canopy coverage. The tree brances are not allowing enough sunlight to filter through so that the grass can grow, but in its own way, this area is still beautiful. I have to walk up this hill to get to my mail box. I don't mind the exercise.
I am thinking...that I need to pray for my husband throughout the day today. He is concerned about our budget, but he knows that God will provide. I thank God for him.
I am thankful for...the provisions that God has already provided, the ones we have that are tangible, and the ones we can't see, but we trust in Him for.
From the kitchen...I can see where my son, whose turn it was to clean the kitchen last night, decided not to clean the counters and sweep the floor. I woke up to a not-so-tidy kitchen this morning. Wasn't thrilled, but he'll fix that problem after school.
I am wearing...black sweat pants and a white t-shirt with purple writing on it that says "Cut Out Domestic Violence." There is a picture of scissors on it and a family that the scissors are cutting through. I used to work at a Domestic Violence shelter. I'm also wearing my white, satin house slippers. So comfy, although they're so old.
I am creating...a daybook for my girls because I love this idea so much. We will call it The Simple Young Woman's Daybook and the starter statements (some of them) are a little different, plus I added 3 more, that were more relevant for teens and pre-teens or their "space" in the home. They're busy writing in their journals right now and finding picture thoughts to add. I think they're going to love this. Thanks for doing this Peggy!
I am going...to pay my son's cell phone bill today. Otherwise, I'm home with the girls (my two and the one I sometimes babysit) today. I love being home!
I am reading...excerpts from John Piper's Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and Women of the Bible (I can't find my book just now to tell you the author's name). I'm using these two, in conjunction with the Word, to get ready to speak on Being Satisfied in Your Season of Singleness, to a group of Christian singles in Memphis, at a women's conference in November.
I am hoping...that God opens doors and provides for us to go on more mission's trips that are planned for this year...only if He wants us to join these teams and go and minister to the particular places we've thought about going.
I am hearing...God speak to me softly and consistently saying, "I am bigger than your needs, bills, problems, etc. I am God. I will provide for those things that I have promised."
Around the house...I'm looking at straightening and laundry that needs to be done. I will soon have a load going while I round out our homeschool day. The straightening and tidying my girls and I will do together.
One of my favorite things...today is getting some of the exciting things I wanted to start with my girls done. I'm excited about the new ventures we've embarked upon in homeschool today. I'm excited about what's to come. Thank you Jesus for ideas and creativity.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Remember to pick my son up from after-school "Raiders" practice on time each day he has it (my girls are homeschooled, and my son attends the local public school), finish all of the laundry, pray about the classes I'll be teaching outside of home and/or co-facilitating, continue to pray for my husband in specific ways, and wait for an answer from the principal of my son's school about teaming with a group of moms to come up to the school and do a prayer walk, once a week, around the school.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
Just wanted to check in before homeschool this morning, to encourage you homeschool parents and mentors to keep up the good work. We just started our homeschool back last week, and I feel like we're going to have a very productive year. This is despite the fact that I don't have quite everything that I need for a couple of subjects, but, we're making things work for now. We had a good start last week, and it's amazing how God will substitute or give you ideas for things to fill in the gaps when you don't have everything you "think" you need. Yes, He even cares about matters of our homeschool! Take everything that concerns you to Him; He cares!
This year, we're going Christian eclectic. When I first started homeschooling, I used one core curriculum for every subject, and that's the way it was going to be! That made things much easier to order, the kids knew what to expect and they were used to the flow of one curriculum, when you order in a bundle, it was cheaper most times, and I was pretty rigid, admittedly, (not on purpose) because I thought it was just better this way. Then, I realized that substituting this for that could be even cheaper, that my children had totally different learning styles that I NEEDED to cater to, that God allowed me to find some great supplements that didn't come from the curriculum I ordered, and that in some subjects, in some grades, I didn't have to have what the curriculum offered at all. I could practically do some subjects for FREE!! Thank God for the internet, imaginative thinking, and the library. Needless to say, I've changed over the years, and now, although I try to point everything we do and talk about towards Christ, I used a little bit of this and that to make that happen. I've been satisfied with this since then.
One of the new things I'm trying this year, with English, is the McGuffey Readers. If you don't know about them, they are a set of Prose and Poetry English books written and used about 170 years ago. Yes, that old. William Holmes McGuffey was an outstanding 19th century educator and preacher. He combined both these talents to create some of the longest-lasting and widely used textbooks of his time and ours. These books were used in multi-level, single classrooms with children of all ages, and they all learned and practice their English skills together. Yes, younger children can learn in the same class and environment as older, and the teacher can teach several ages together successfully. While a lot of times today mixing children of a certain age group with older ones isn't a good idea because of today's negative influences, it certainly worked well back then, and it can work well in the home. I use two different McGuffey readers for my girls, but they learn at the same time and the style of the stories and the set-up of the book is the same. In fact, they will trade books eventually.
The McGuffey readers combine reading, grammar skills, comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and the proper pronunciation (and recognition of commonly misspelled words) of words all in one book. I loved it right away!! All of the stories in it are Christian-based or have a value, standard, or moral to teach. Okay so now you get your English skills and God's Word and/or great character building qualities at the same time?!! I love it even more. The girls are starting to like it too. Today, they have their first spelling/vocab (we do this at the same time from the same words) test. This should go pretty smoothly because of the way we study them and how they've heard the words many times, in context, in the story itself. How much easier and interesting could McGuffey have made it?! Can you tell that I'm a great fan of these books? I'd like to get every one in the series. So far, I only have 3, but they were all the ones I needed for this year. I'll keep looking for the rest.
Won't you pray to the Lord to teach your children through you? Won't you join me in prayer for our homeschooled kids, that God just loves on them, teaches them, instructs them in His way, keeps them moving according to His plans for them, opens their minds, that they might absorb His wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, that they might love Him more every day, that they might take their gifts and talents and use them for the glory of God, that they might have the most successful school year ever? Commit your children and your homeschooling to Him that made them. He can do a much better job than we can. Pray that He teaches and instructs us, as we go, in His way also. Submit to Him, that we might be vessels that He uses to see His precious children to where He has designed and instructed them to go. Pray that we're a help and not a hindrance to our children's growth.
Here's praying for all of you out there who are mentoring and loving on someone else's child, homeschooling your own, have a child in public or private school (I have one there, and I have committed to not only helping him too, academically, but I pray for him in his school everyday, and soon, I will be praying at his school for the school itself, its children, and the faculty), or doing a little bit of all of these. I even pray for you supporters of your ones off to college. I have one of those too. We have one literally in every stage right now, college, high school, middle school, and elementary. Isn't that fascinating?!! But it is challenging as well. I wouldn't have it any other way!!
Have a blessed day in Jesus!!
Saturday, August 16, 2008
Friday, August 15, 2008
I may be woman, but you're not fooling me.
My name's not Eve, and I've got your number.
Mary is more my character, by the grace of God.
Look, He has you wrapped around His fingers.
Who's your Daddy boys!!
As promised, I am using this post to tell you about what God did during our Missions trip to New Orleans (NO), specifically Vieux Carre or the French Quarter. I'm am still reeling from His goodness, protection, and grace to us before we got to NO, during the trip down, while we were there, and on our return home. God is truly amazing. But He makes provisions and preparation and all else that you'll need to see His agenda through. That's just what He did for us.
I'd like to give you just a little background history on the general make-up and the religious make-up of the city. NO is an old city, with many areas being registered on the national historic registry for landmarks and architecture. Settlement was initially discouraged because of flooding based on how the city is situated on a major river (its low level--in fact, the city's elevation is 0 feet) and because of so many swampy areas. The French sent in inmates from to fill in the marshes and build levees for settlement and access. The ancestral population was a make-up of French, French-Canadian, Spanish (the city is heavily Spaniard and French influenced), Africans, and Native Americans. Today, there is a population that has a mixture of these ethnic backgrounds and newer ethnicities that moved in later. The population today, according to one study, looks like this:
CityPopulation 2005: 437,186 Square miles: 180.56 Metro area: New Orleans
67% of the city's population is African American with various other races making up the rest of the population, including stats from the last census reporting a 5% German and 5% Irish population. At the time of the 2000 census, the per capita income in New Orleans was $17,258, compared with $21,587 nationally. It is a lot higher now, reporting somewhere between $24,000 and $27,000. But there are conflicting reports. What is known is that the majority of its citizens aren't the most well-off or even comfortable in the nation.
As far as the religious make-up of the city, according to a year 2000 report, Denominational Groups, 2000, there were:
39,543 (Evangelical Protestant)
23,545 (Mainline Protestant)
Here's the catch: The unclaimed are not irreligious or atheists necessarily. There are unclaimed religious and denomination groups, mainly the black Baptist church, who are just not reported. There are other historically black denominations too, that are not counted in this report. It doesn't say why. The Black Baptist church has more members and more churches in the city of NO than any other religion or denomination represented there. In fact, the two main religions/denominations is the Catholic faith and the black Baptists. It is obvious everywhere you go. If you look around NO carefully, you can even see how, over the centuries, religions/denominations have blended. Some of the religious customs are so unique, they could be sub or mini denominations unto themselves. They have ways of worshipping and practicing their religion in NO that is found in no other city in the US. From a report I got while there, you're liable to run into someone whose family members were predominately Catholic, they just happen to be Baptist, and their African heritage may have passed on occult rituals or voodoo, and they practice a little of all of these together, maybe not always consciously, but the evidence is there and is clear.
Most of what you've heard about NO is true. It is beautiful, it is historic, it has great restaurants and great food, it's diverse, it was almost devastated by Katrina (though there is a lot of re-building) and spiritually, in a lot of areas, it is one of the darkest places in the world, just to name a few things about the city. Here's where our missions trip comes into play. We weren't there for a tour, a mini vacation, or to eat the great food (although this wouldn't hurt). We had been called to NO to take the Gospel and the love of Christ to a lost and dying world.
Like anywhere, if man exists, and you can name a sin, NO has done it, is doing it, and doesn't plan on stopping. The difference for NO is, it's a lot of sin concentrated in one small dot on the map (compared to our whole nation), it's done blatantly out in the open, and it goes on day and night, in season and out. There is no shame or regard for public decency. Some of the people have become so calloused to the sin, you can see that some don't even know that they're sinning. It is just normal and automatic. Some don't care. Some do, but just don't know how to get out of the trap, but these are a small percentage compared to the ones who don't care. With all of the represented churches reported in a city the size of NO, it seems that, as one person put it, this is the city that God forgot about and they're having to figure things out on their own, make things up as they go, entertain themselves, and fend for themselves.
While it is obvious that God hasn't forgotten about NO, like anywhere else sin abounds, God is not pleased with what is going on there so blatantly and disrespectfully. Let us not get proud though, because we're so far from this. Sin is sin anywhere, and God hates it, and will not tolerate it, especially perpetual seasons of sin with no repentance in sight. This city appears to have been turned over to reprobate minds...BUT GOD...!! In comes the various missions teams who have been called by God to remind some and tell others that Jesus is real, alive, and well, and He would have it that no man would perish. In comes the teams who want to share the hope of Christ and eternity with the lost. All we can do is obey His leading us there, and plant seeds or water where we or someone else has been before. The rest is up to God. We were glad to be called and glad to go!! Oooo, thank You Jesus for the opportunity!!
Our team member was ready to witness on the street as soon as we got there, she was so excited! It was late though, the team was tired, and if we were to be effective for the next day's agenda, we needed snacks, devotion, and rest. Imagine some of our surprise (those of us who were there for the first time) when the church that extended hospitality, information, and sleeping quarters to us was situated right in the thick of things, all of the action, in the heart of the French Quarter, right where the non-stop partying and non-stop drinking was going on. In fact, the church is in a row of houses, and the house or building connected to the church, directly on the right is a nightclub. And trust me, they party loudly all night long. We could hear them through the walls. Now you know this means that there is some serious ministering that can go on in a place like this! The dormitory we slept in was on the bottom level of the church. At this point, you can't ask yourself if you're ready for action. In this location, you don't have a choice. The only thing you ask from God is protection, boldness, guts, and covering because you know you're about to embark on something you're not used to, and you may see and hear just about anything. (Remember now though, you've been called to do this)
The next day, we hit the streets of Vieux Carre'. I've seen alcohol, I've seen people drunk, I've seen party animals, I'm aware that people who worship the enemy exist, I've seen a lot, but...not all in one small location and at the same time, all day, every day. I don't know whether it's legal or not, but it is common to see drunk people on the streets very early in the morning, with open bottles and cups of beer and alcohol, it is common to see people dancing on top of tables with the doors to the bars flung wide open for everyone to see in the middle of the day, it is common to see voodoo and occult shops, it is common to see people walking casually in and out of drug paraphenalia shops with their goods, it is common to see the homeless mingling in with people who own French Quarter hotels, it is common to see people walk the streets and sidewalks all day and all night, it is common to walk pass or even talk to the demon-possessed, etc. The list of things to see, again in this one rectangular-shaped quarter, can go on and on, but you see these things all day, every day, at the same time. I can't stress that enough.
When you look around you realize that there are no children (in the quarter, that is), even though the quarter has residential streets and rows. In 3 days, we only saw approximately 9 children total, and 3 of them were a Christian family that brought their children to church Sunday morning before we left. This means that we only saw 6 on the street, and they were children of tourists. The question is, with all that's there (and you had to know this before you decided to vacation in NO), why would you bring your children to vacation here? One of the reasons why you don't see children is because...THIS IS NO PLACE TO BRING A CHILD! Ours went with us to do a missions trip as a family and to minister, but let me tell you, we knew what to expect before hand, and we prayed God's protection on our children's ears and eyes, and God did just that. We came to allow Him to expose our children to a different kind of mission field, to make sure they understood that they were no better than anyone else (but for the grace of God go we), to deal with people unlike themselves, to give to others, to squelch any selfishness that might reside in their hearts, and to show the love of Christ and that that could be done, even though they were just kids.
God is in control though, everywhere, including NO. We had packed so many supplies that He enabled us to gather before leaving for NO, that He knew we would need to witness and to aid. This means that we were able to give out Gospel tracts, pamphlets, booklets, goodie bags to ones who needed it that contained toiletries and the Word. In the quarter, we talked with people on the street, from tourists to the homeless and everybody in between, we prayed with them on the streets and corners, we answered questions, we prayed with people who were sitting waiting on the police, who had just been in a car accident and seemed scared, we touched every life we could. We asked God for the hearts to be no respector of persons; in our minds, if you don't already know Him, you need Him, plain and simple. God gave us the hearts and compassion to not care what people looked like, or not care about what their professions were, if they had one at all. EVERYBODY NEEDS JESUS AND THE LOVE OF HIM. We also realized in our giving that some people need physical needs met before you can reach them with the Gospel. It's hard to hear if your feet hurt, you're hungry, and you haven't gotten much rest. Think about the things that Jesus and His disciples did.
Friday evening, we did what's called a cafe'. This is where we set up tables in the church with food (to include coffee and Kool-Aid) we had prepared, goodie bags, Gospel tracts, chocolate treats, nice polo shirts that God provided for the homeless through someone from our hometown, New Balance tennis shoes (really nice ones too), flip flops, and whatever else we had to give away. We open the doors of the church, allow anybody who would come in off the street (we had also passed out papers earlier to the homeless, letting them know where to come and to spread the news in their community), and we have a small talk about who Jesus is and His hope and glory. After we shared the Good News and extended an invitation to accept Him as Lord and Savior, 4 people in our little crowd were saved!! Praise the Lord Almighty!! The Heavens rejoiced! Four more for God's Kingdom. Four more snatched out of the grips of satan and eternal damnation!! With that done and prayer for them, we started giving out the goods. You would have thought that we had sent some to the candy store and some to the mall!! People were getting clothes they needed, every pair of tennis shoes we brought (and this was an act of God alone!) were the exact right size for the exact amount of people who needed them! Some changed into their new clothes right there at the church. We saw different people emerge out of the rest rooms. Their whole personalities changed when they were fresher with nice clothes on. They left their dirty clothes behind because God has given Vieux Carre Baptist Church the ability to be a mission also, and the pastor and his wife wash the homeless' clothes so that they can return to get fresh ones the next week. They also allow showers and other things on Mondays.
Two of the homeless men had been blessed of God to have the gift of singing, drums, and keyboard playing, so they blessed us tremendously that night with praise and worship time. Boy could those men play and sing!! Oh, I pray that God lifts them out of their situations so that they can be used of the Lord mightily!
The next day (Saturday), we visited a local homeless mission and gave out more food and supplies. These were the most gracious and humble people. The homeless in NO surprised me. Our homeless population here at home and where I'm originally from are just...different. This culture of homeless people are very friendly, are very giving to each other, don't seem to have problems stealing from each other, will not take more than they absolutely need (and will tell you to save what you have for someone else who might need it; they didn't want to be too greedy), and are very appreciative of what you do for and give to them. I've never witnessed this in general throughout a homeless population before, and I've worked extensively through the years with the homeless. I reiterate, God has not forgotten about these people, and it is evident in so many ways, while on the surface, it may appear to some that He has.
Saturday evening, I parted from the team to minister to some very tired girls, and my husband decided to stay back with me. I decided to go back to the church and get dinner ready for the team when they returned. I also was given the privilege to help the pastor and his wife get some necessary things done around the church, the dorm, and the mission. They really appreciate the help when they can get it. They usually work very hard, although they have some help from a couple of church members throughout the week.
While I stayed back, the team went to what was called The Wall. This is where the homeless hang out, eat, and sleep, mainly at night. During the day, they are usually throughout the city, doing other things. The team brought back such great praise reports from The Wall. They fed the homeless there, they gave out any supplies we had left, they talked with and mingled with them for a long time, they prayed with them, and just got to know people. We really did try and forge relationships with various people for two reasons: we hope that we will see them again, and good things happen out of intentional relationship building. Everyone needs the love, care, and concern of a good relationship. It's modeling our relationship with Christ, after all.
Saturday night, I was looking for my husband, thinking that he was in his dorm room, getting ready for bed. Instead, I found him, around 12:30 or 1:00 in the morning still in ministry mode. God gave him and our team leader the opportunity to witness to, of all people and of all places, the people (or partyers) who were coming in and out of the club right next door to the church. What a crack up!! But what a wonderful, fruitful opportunity! I look out of the church doors (you can see good here at night because the city never sleeps) and down the sidewalk, and he is just intensely engaging a slightly drunk man and his friend about the truths of Christ and how Jesus was real. The team leader was engaging one of the men's wife and her friends who had come to the square and the clubs to party hard. I decided, if I can't get my husband into bed, I might as well join them. I went down too, and the enemy tried to keep us from witnessing in several different ways, but it didn't work. God WAS STILL IN CONTROL!! Isn't that just like Him? Anyway, by the end of this lengthy conversation, and while these people were holding their alcohol, they allowed us to pray for them before they entered the club, give them tracts, and one guy even asked my husband to email him to finish their conversation and handed him his email address. Could God have planted a seed there? Who knows, but we're going to definitely follow up. How exciting!!
The next day, of course, was Sunday. We woke up, had our morning devotions like we did together as a team every day and evening we were in NO, had breakfast, and joined the pastor and his wife for a really unique church service. Everybody is welcome and will show up at this church. Because of its love, outreach, and location, you may sit by a prostitute on one side and a missionary who graduated from the local seminary on the other. The group was the epitome of diverse, and I for one, loved it!! The pastor was clear in his teaching, not too lofty, but not talking down to any one. Everyone could understand and appreciate his presentation. He has a real passion and love for people. So does his whole family. God has truly blessed them, and we were blessed to get to know them and work with them. I ended up speaking to and watching the antics of a gay couple (one was representing the female part of the relationship and beautifully dressed, I might add) that showed up outside of the church once service was over. They weren't quite ready to step through the doors, but they lingered around outside for a while, while people were coming in and out. Could God have been tugging on their heart strings? Were they just curious? It didn't matter. The truth was being proclaimed in this place, and the Word is alive and well. ANY exposure to it can, has, and will change lives. Thank You Jesus for the privilege of meeting any and everybody and the boldness to love on them and give the unadulterated Gospel!!
I will finally end this post by saying that God is in the transformation and restoration business. Just surrender your WHOLE self to His will and ask Him to send you where He pleases and then be willing to go. We knew upon coming to the city, about the make up of the city, etc. We could even physically feel the oppression coming into the city, when part of our team ran directly into a satan worshiper who warned our team to back off and didn't hide the fact of whom he worshipped, in front of certain buildings, and upon leaving the city. the oppression is real and sad, BUT, I personally felt the possibility of hope, somehow I could see rays of sunshine, God allowed my heart not to fret and fear, Christ reaches even the darkest places, and I sensed that the whole time. If God were to ever send me again, I would go. He proved Himself to me before, during, and after this trip. God is God, and He is God all of the time. He doesn't want us to own the spirit of timidity and fear. Though we're not all called to the same places to minister the same way, with the same gifts, we're all called, and we're called not to have those things I just mentioned. Turn them over to Jesus. You will never be able to minister everywhere that you should to the degree that you should with timidity and fear. They are hindrances and used by the enemy to TRY and thwart God's agenda. While they can't eradicate God's agenda, we can place ourselves as hindrances, and then God will have to use someone else. We'd miss out on all He has for us and the other persons we're sent to. We're also not pleasing Him.
If you read all of the way to the end of this post, bless you!! I couldn't stop writing once I started, and I just loved what I was sent to do so much. I don't have time to go back and correct typos or other mistakes (I apologize), so gather the meanings from context clues. I'm sure I was at least clear enough for you to do that. I thank God for your interest in reading this. Pray for us as we follow Christ.
Side note: I wanted to have pictures from the trip by now, to post so that you can see us in action and the area we were called to, but the team leader didn't get a chance, with her really busy schedule, to have them developed yet. I will post them with descriptions underneath when I get a chance.
Love Jesus, love somebody else too!