Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mini-Church: Home Fellowship


"A new commandment I give you, 
that you love one another: 
just as I have loved you, 
you also are to love one another.  
By this all people will know that 
you are my disciples, if you 
have love for one another."  
~ John 13:34-35

What a blessing it's been to be one among several Home Group members for the past 14 years ~ first in Arizona and now in Washington.  As much as I look forward to finding a new Church home for us in the Okanogan Valley, I am equally eager to find (or host) yet another home fellowship.  



ARIZONA HOME GROUP


We (the girls) gather for special occasions, like Valentine's Day.








We meet for breakfast after Church 


The beauty of such groups is that they make the doing of life together a very powerful thing, especially if the specific church body itself is large.  In both of our affiliations, Arizona as well as Washington, our churches have been well over 3,000 people, which is to say that our Home Group has provided a much more personal context in which to study & discuss the scriptures, serve the body & be accountable.  

Many have been the occasions to provide meals to an incapacitated member; or to gather & pray (sometimes throughout the night) for someone facing peril (in one case, brain surgery; in another, a biking accident that looked fatal at first and involved ICU; in yet another, a cancer battle that was eventually lost).  

What's more, in both places we have served the local community by supporting food banks, joining the larger body when community work-projects are underway, and adopting a women's shelter to provide clothing, Christmas gifts & other support.  

My favorite project is one in which we invited a specific neighborhood to an under-the-stars-movie night.  We then we borrowed the church's video equipment & screen, set up in a park on the specified evening, & served hot dogs, popcorn & soda for a night of great fun & inspiration (the movie being "Fireproof").  At least 30 guests showed up & lingered long after dark simply to visit & get to know one another (and eat one more hot dog). 



We (the guys) meet beforehand when serving the community.



We (the girls) get together for no good reason.


We sit together at Church, &
often serve there together as well.


We (the girls) meet & pray at the flagpole.




We gather when out-of-towners return for a visit.


Thus a smaller group of 16-26 has many advantages. Where we're headed, there isn't a church that numbers over 300 so our experience is likely to be vastly different.  

It is worth the telling that we have been blessed by the teaching ministries of several godly pastors, Greg, Ryan, Darius, Art, Paul & others ~ men who are committed to the flock, who shepherd honorably, teach from a biblical/truth-telling perspective, and live out their personal lives with authenticity and honor unto the Lord.  Our Home Group connections have never been meant to circumnavigate them or the larger body, but to supplement it.  With leaders of their own ~ Eloy, Darrel, Gary, Mike ~ our Home Groups have taken their lead from these noble pastors ~ ordained, as well as lay.  

The bonus by-product of our by-gone days in a Home Group is that we have made forever friends.  The bonds we've formed span the distance, even eternity.  I love it when we visit Arizona (& soon to include Puyallup) and, as if no time had lapsed, join in a study or activity as though we've never left.  Modern technology makes it easy to remain tightly bonded by way of email, texts, Facebook and phone calls. 

I thank God for the unity we've experienced with our brothers and sisters through the years.  We are the richer for it, and bound to grow richer still as we look to His plan for our future connections.   




WASHINGTON HOME GROUP



We have summer picnics.



We get together with other Home Groups to play Bunco.



We have Bible studies outdoors.



We share a prayer retreat at the ocean.


But if we walk in the light s He is in the light,
we have fellowship with one another,
and the blood of Jesus His Son 
cleanses us from all sin.  
~ 1 John 1:7


Monday, May 19, 2014

Braxton Hicks Isn't for Sissies (or Sassies)

Teach us, O Lord, the disciplines of patience, 
for to wait is often harder than to work. 
~ Peter Marshall


Some things take a long, long time ~ like pregnancy.  Nine months, especially during the final days, can seem like an eternity.  I recall it vividly, even though all three of my children arrived early, and even though 40+ years have lapsed since last I was in the business of birthing babies. 

It's not as if gestation, labor and delivery were an accidental process.  It's designed to take nine months ~ 280 days to be exact. The experience is much the same for every woman, and nearly all of us are amazed at how quickly it went by AFTER it's over.  

I feel that way about our long-distance move.  

It all began last August when we found & fell in love with the habitat that's occupied our dreams ever since. We actually purchased a home in September, but due to many snags & snarls beyond our control didn't finalize the purchase until this year; late March to be exact.  Due to a lingering snag*, we've yet to make the actual move.

I'm feeling a lot like a woman who's well-beyond her due date; a woman whose feet are swollen, whose back aches, who waddles, who can rarely find a position of comfort, and who is utterly convinced she'll never, ever be un-pregnant.  Worse, I feel like the women who's endured some measure of pain, thinking it was full on labor; only to be told (as she scowls), "It's not REAL.  It's only Braxton Hicks ~ false labor."  

False labor is NOT synonymous with false pain.  The latter is quite real, no matter how unproductive it might be.

The fact is:  our moving delays are by design, too.  There's a reason behind the roadblocks that hinder us.  Eventually, with 20/20 hindsight, I'll see more clearly ... maybe.  Sometimes God doesn't reveal the "Why?" of His ways with us.  Regardless, there will come a time when I'll be amazed how swiftly the time flew.  

But not today.  

Today I'm up to my eyeballs in frustration and impatience waiting for the Braxton Hicks pains to turn into genuine labor.  I live in a sea of boxes and can't find the Q-tips.  I've arranged movers & services that I'm dangling mid-air.  I'd serve myself a bit of cheese with my whine, but I can't find the cheese either.  

Waiting.  It's designed to be a process. 



Why do you complain ...
Why do you say ...
'My way is hidden from the Lord;
my cause is disregarded by my God'?
Do you not know?
Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and His understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak...
those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not grow faint.
Isaiah 40:27-31




*  Without the tedium of offering ad nauseam details, our delay is due to the tenant's delay in closing on the purchase of their home.  It's a long story that will soon read The End.  That "soon" looks like June 2 (or 3 or 4 or 5 ...).

Friday, May 9, 2014

Falling from Grace



Many of you who come to visit here also make your way to-and-from Lisa Shaw's Blog as well.  We all know her to be a solid, 24K Gold child of God ~ a noble lady with a powerful & expansive mission & ministry designed to encourage women.  What a blessing it is to join her and many others in that endeavor by way of "Women Walking With Jesus".

Come see (and read) for yourself how my own youthful plummet from grace was the vehicle God used to equip me to walk with Jesus myself:  



"It was my 26th year, and all the years 
preceding it had not prepared me for the 
fall from grace I was experiencing."  

For more, click here:  Lisa Shaw Cares

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Liberal Applications of Fairy Dust



Grand-mothering.  It's one of my favorite forms of existence; the one among the many that have enriched my life in ways only we grandmothers are privy to.  I dare say a library, or even the Blogosphere for that matter, could not possibly contain all the tales and photos we generate.  

I didn't know my grandparents.  It's the downside to having been born late in life to older parents.  By the time I joined the family fray all but one grandparent had passed away.  And that one, Annie Clare McFadden-Wells (left, my father's mother) was nearly petrified when finally I did make my appearance. 

My one lingering memory of Grandma Annie is that she had big, black, hideously ugly shoes ~ you know the type, the ones most often seen on witches.  She didn't live near us so I don't recall any interactions between she & I.  No lap sitting.  No story telling. No baking.  No overnights (with movies & popcorn).  No trips to the zoo.  No sagas about the olden days.  Zilch.  Nada.  And by the time I was eight she, too, was gone.

Thankfully, like mothering, instincts kick in when one finally does advance to life's grand portions.  I have delighted in my role, often having to make it up as I go & relying on those instincts since no role-model patterned it for me. 

Were I to paint a self-portrait it would look something like this:  the best from my own mothering years laced with hues of Mary Poppins, Marmee (Little Women), Aurora (Terms of Endearment), and my beloved mother.  The sassy part came easy. 

My husband simply calls me "The Sugarplum Fairy".

A garden of love grows in
a grandmother's heart.
~ Author Unknown

There are things about mothering that I would do differently today if I were starting over.  For instance:  more patience, fewer rules; more praise, fewer scoldings; more focus on relationships, less vacuuming ... to name a few.  In fact, I can't count the times I've said to no one in particular:  "If I'd known then what I know now, I would/would not have done thus and so."  It's not regret so much as it is reflection.

Since child-rearing do-overs aren't possible, I thank God for the opportunities afforded we grandmothers because of that aforementioned reflection.  My favorite?  Sprinkling fairy dust, as all good Sugarplum Fairies will do.