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I watched a video update from a missionary in Australia today. Then, I opened newsletters from people all over the world. Then, I spoke to a missionary on the phone in England. Then, I emailed with my boss who is in Asia. It struck me – what a privilege it is to be a part of what God is doing all over the world. Who am I that I get to help serve missionaries all over the world? One of my favorite verses comes from Colossians 3. What sweet truth that the gospel is indeed bearing fruit across the whole world.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth
Well, I never thought I would live in Birmingham, AL! But let’s be honest – nothing in my life has ever gone the way I thought it would. And I’m so thankful for every seeming interruption, redirection or wrong turn. I really have seen the fingerprints of the Lord ALL OVER this move. I’m serious. I wish I could sit down over a cup of coffee and tell you all the Lord has done in me and for me. From job to living situation to friendships to church, He has worked it all out. Don’t get me wrong – it has not all happened in the way or the timing that I would have liked. However, even that was His mercy to me because I could see myself becoming more flexible and soft to His ways and not mine.
More pics to come on all the fun things I’ve been trying in my new city.
Have you ever been tired? Like I’m-not-going-to-make-it tired? That is how I have felt all week. Maybe it’s because I know I am going on a long-awaited vacation on Saturday. Maybe it’s because work without a boss and being in the midst of transition is tiring. Maybe because I over analyze everything and my brain is saying NO MORE! Regardless, I’m tired. I think I could sleep for a couple days straight (which is precisely what I plan on doing the first couple days of vacation). Sometimes I think sleep is the most spiritual thing you can do. I also plan on being completely unplugged – no facebook, twitter, blogs, emails, etc. I hope that will give my soul room to rest. Here’s to vacation!
My Cousin Morgan’s Wedding Shower
I went on a last minute beach trip to Hilton Head for the 4th of July holiday. I went with some pretty awesome college students. I kept asking them repeatedly if they were sure they wanted me to go… They said yes each time so I finally decided I guess I had to believe them even if I felt a teensy bit too old. 🙂 It was a lot of fun! It was perfect – great time on the beach, shopping, sleeping in, reading, sunshine, good conversations, good food, hilarious games.
I simultaneously felt old and young. I graduated high school 10 years before some of these girls. Ouch. I woke up a good 4-5 hours before them in the mornings (not all of them but man I forgot how late I could sleep at that age!) I had to go to bed during a movie because I literally could not stay awake. However, I was asked what college I went to and was called a teenager. Score! Youth by association. I’ll take it. I think I kept up pretty well 🙂
Hope you and yours had a fabulous 4th.
I have been thinking through church ministry a lot lately. I am starting my 7th year on the staff of a church (crazy!) so I guess I’m always thinking about it generally. But lately, I’ve specifically been thinking through how the church is called to minister to all categories that people find themselves. I worked for a few years for a college ministry which is very targeted to an age group. A church however seeks to minister to someone from ‘cradle to grave’ as a pastor told me once. This presents unique challenges. One disclaimer – I obviously am writing from my own perspective. I in no way am trying to point the finger and blame anyone.
As I said, the church is called to minister to people in all stages of life not to mention in all kinds of broken situations. I think we can sometimes act as a church like everyone is married, has kids, a dog (or cat) and a clean house. We measure success by this imaginary timeline that you are supposed to follow. The Bible doesn’t require any of that. You don’t have to have a spouse or kids or a perfect pet (which would obviously be a dog) to be in God’s will. It’s great to celebrate marriage and children and a Biblical view of the family (which is a whole other conversation). But we have to also realize that’s not God’s plan for everyone and often things in life don’t go the way we want. On a personal note, the yearning to be married and have children has been present for a long time. It definitely has changed over the years. I would be lying if I did not admit that I struggle along with other singles who long for a family. I also can easily identify with my sweet married couple friends who desire kids but struggle with infertility. That is the nature of this life and where faith meets reality. Let’s be honest – life is not the way we would chose most of the time. I don’t believe this is true just for me.
Faith lived out in a broken world INCLUDES all the broken categories we find ourselves and our neighbors in. I think if we don’t fully embrace this in the way we minister or even structure our ministries we are going to miss something. If we subtly let the idea exist that these categories will fulfill us or that we have to fit into the imaginary timeline, we hurt the truth that Jesus is our treasure no matter what. The subtly of all of this is what scares me. This produces women who have to have a man to be happy, couples who have to have children to feel the love of God, etc. These things are not our treasure. None of them are our Savior. None of them died for us. None of it is our God. It also doesn’t leave room for people to be where they are (and we are, if we’re honest) – smack dab in the middle of messy lives!
I’m getting off on a tangent… How does this apply to the church? I’ve been thinking a lot about “age and stage” recently or when life doesn’t go as we thought it would. Maybe because of where I am. Maybe because of the gospel conversations I have had with people in the community lately whose lives are very broken. I’ve been thinking if they actually do come to church with me – what will they perceive? We have to give room for people to be where they are so the grace of God can meet them there. I talk to this cashier at CVS a lot and we had a sweet gospel conversation last week. Yet she is in her 40s with a husband – not quite the same stage as I am in. Am I going to take her with me to Sunday School which is all 20ish year old singles? Probably not. I teach the 2nd grade class anyways so I definitely wouldn’t take her there. So, how do I connect her to the body of Christ? Is our Sunday Morning Service going to connect her to people? I had someone else tell me that she didn’t have the right clothes to come to our church. That breaks my heart. Am I contributing to that? If I’m honest, I probably do portray a “have it all” together exterior. I also put God in a box. I somehow decide that the Lord cannot work with me bringing a 40-something year old married woman to church. I think the Lord has demonstrated time and time again that He is not bound by any human thing. I need to repent of my lack of faith in the power of God to move as He chooses. Yet, I also think we as a church need to think about how we structure our ministries to be welcoming to all and about how we present ourselves to the outside world.
I have a lot of thoughts and not a lot of conclusions. For now, all I know is that I want Jesus to be my treasure come what may and the glory of God to be my goal and joy.
More importantly, when we are almost faint under the strain and worry of wondering if singleness is to be forever, we need to be reminded that there is an end to singleness: One day we will be at the wedding feast of the Lamb and we will be His bride. Even if we receive the gift of marriage on this side of heaven, that’s not our ultimate goal. It is a shadow and a type of what is planned for eternity and, like all things on this earth, it will have its conclusion in death. Our Father knows the time when earthly gifts will be distributed and when they will be no more; He knows, as well, when the heavenly wedding feast will commence. We can blissfully rest in the knowledge that the future is better than anything we think we’ve missed now: Jesus is preparing us for the eternal rewards and eternal joys of a future He’s told us is too inexpressible for us to understand. For His purposes, and within His covenant to always do us good (Jeremiah 33:40), He has declared for us that being single now and into the foreseeable future is His very best. He desires that we overflow with hope as we trust in him (Romans 15:13) and his sovereignty in this season — redefining hope from hoping in a particular gift from God to trusting the God of hope unreservedly.
-Excerpt from an article on The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. I encourage you to read the complete article found here.
Topics and issues of life in Biblical perspective with Harry Reeder, Pastor/Teacher at Briarwood Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Birmingham, Alabama.
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