I'm just a wife and mother who earnestly desires to grow in my faith and it's demonstration. DISCLAIMER! I have absolutely no problem with women in the clergy. As a matter of fact, I have several female pastors who I consider friends. In my home, the pastor is a male so the pronouns I use to refer to a pastor tend to be male. This is not a statement of any kind. Just a reflection of my every day life!

Archive for February, 2012

Humbled by Their Courage

I’ve watched some young people I care an awful lot about take steps to open conversations of a spiritual nature with their school mates.  They were simple actions – my 17 year old daughter making a point of writing something on the back of her hand with the intention of getting people to ask questions, my son answering a question about the Latin phrase “Ad majorem dei gloriam” (For the greater glory of God) that was on the hoodie he was wearing.  No, they didn’t jump up on a bench and start preaching.  They took one small step to start conversations of a spiritual nature in an effort to begin having an impact on their school.  They are being joined in these actions by the other members of the youth group who attended Dare 2 Share this past weekend. While I’m proud of their actions, I’m also humbled by the courage they display.


It can be very scary to share your faith; to talk about having a relationship with Jesus Christ.  I know I often lack the courage to speak up when the opportunity presents itself to say nothing of looking for ways to create opportunities.  So the question is, can I rise to the occasion and do at least as much as the teenagers in my church?  Can I be intentional in helping to create opportunities to share my faith?  It won’t be easy to step out and sometimes people may give me grief for what I believe.  But I certainly can’t encourage my kids to continue doing something that I’m not willing to do myself!

What Lies Ahead?

I’m in the van on the way home as I type this (thank you, God, for the brilliant inventors who gave us laptops and word processing programs!) and I’ve just had a tremendous two days with some pretty fantastic young people.  My husband and I helped chaperone a Youth Group trip to the Dare 2 Share conference being held in Minneapolis, Minnesota this weekend. 
Some of the young people in our group astounded me! They walked up to complete strangers in a Caribou Coffee and began asking questions in hopes of opening up a dialogue about spiritual things!  The youth leader, my friend Connie, challenged two of the girls to speak to a guy who was standing at the back of the store – near where we were seated – while he waited to use the bathroom.  So two of our young ladies took the plunge and spoke briefly with him.  Then one of the young ladies took another friend and went to speak to other customers and both the employees.  All told, there were four kids in our group involved in the impromptu, low-key experience and they spoke to five or six different individuals.
Their passion was challenging!  One young lady in particular was so much fun to watch.  She made a personal decision to become a Jesus follower at this same conference last year and her growth in just 12 months is exciting!  She’s fired up and ready to reach her friends with the Gospel.  She is actively seeking ways to grow and learn how to be more effective when sharing her faith.  She and three other young ladies asked Youth Leader Connie if she would consider attending a training institute in Colorado this summer.  This is an opportunity we learned about over the two day conference and when the teens were told to make eye contact with their youth leader if they were interested in attending the conference, four young ladies nearly gave themselves whiplash turning around to catch Connie’s eye.  Now before those skeptics out there respond with, “Sure.  Colorado is gorgeous – who wouldn’t want to spend a week there!”  let me clarify.  This would not be a sight-seeing trip.  The event is meant to be a week of training for teens who REALLY want to learn how to effectively share their faith with those around them.  Bonus – Colorado Christian University is offering three college credits for the experience as well!
They inspire me. The world would look at them and comment on how young and inexperienced they are.  “Wiser” minds would suggest that they grow up a bit before doing anything crazy like trying to win their friends for Christ.  But these four ladies want this!  I know, I know.  I said I was typing this on the way home so the emotional high of the weekend hasn’t worn off yet.  But something in the way they talk about the opportunity has me convinced that they are intent on going.
I want that kind of passion.  And their boldness!  As I watched the young ladies boldly approaching total strangers to start conversations about things of a faith nature, I was struck by how much braver they are than I am in such situations.
A year ago, the first time this youth group went to Dare 2 Share, there were five teens and two adults. This year, we had 11 youth and three adults.  Not bad growth in just a year.  A year ago, we did not really have an established “youth ministry” in our church.  There was something in the works and both hubby and I were excited to see plans come together (he is a former youth pastor, after all!) and the group officially started meeting this past fall.  We started with about 6-8 regularly attending.  Now it’s common to see 20 or so teenagers (not counting adults) each Wednesday.  And our Wednesday “agenda” is fairly simple – we eat pizza, chat about our week then have a lesson.  Not much in the way of flash or clever programming.  But the Spirit is moving nonetheless!  These kids are intense when discussing matters of faith and they aren’t afraid to ask difficult question!  They are very definitely seeking to grow and increase their understanding and I’m thrilled to be a part of the whole process.  I can’t wait to see what’s coming next!

Problem

I love to cross-stitch!  No, that’s not the problem but it does lead up to it.  Thanks to websites like yardsellr.com and freepatterns.com I can support my love of cross-stitch fairly inexpensively.  And I keep finding these FANTASTIC ideas for my family members.  But many of the patterns I’m finding take serious time and I don’t know that I’ll be able to do them all in time for Christmas.  So I’m trying to use other web resources – especially Pinterest – to find other crafty, handmade gift ideas for this Christmas. I’ve found some possible ideas but haven’t made any definite decisions yet.  Need to get on that quick so I can get to work!

Reminiscing

Tonight was my first concert as the choral department accompanist at Fort Dodge Senior High. It was a privilege to work with friends and colleagues and their students!  It has become a tradition to announce the Spring musical – which I work with as well – at this concert each year.  This year we are doing a personal favorite:  Fiddler on the Roof!  I had the unbelievable chance to play Golde in college which was on my personal “bucket list” of roles I’d love to play.  To say I cherish those memories is an understatement!  


Since the announcement was made, I’ve spent chunks of time here and there thinking back to my college shows and those I shared the stage/backstage with. I had numerous chances to perform, student direct, music direct, and stage manage in college and it was really there that my love of theater had a chance to blossom.  

So as I look forward to revisiting a show that is a personal favorite of mine – this time as a director and not a performer – I am reminded of those college friends who left a little piece of themselves with me by sharing a show experience with me.  Or letting me share it with them!  Much of who I am as a performer/director was shaped by those experiences and I am forever grateful.  

If you are reading this and are someone I shared the college stage (or backstage) with, thank you. You are a part of a very important legacy in my life and I am eternally grateful for what I learned through working with you!

More Than I Could Have Hoped For

After finally closing on our new house, hubby and I are faced with a plethora of redecorating projects; from simple repainting to redoing the kitchen from the walls out.  We spent a few hours at Menard’s Friday morning getting the kitchen design handled (gotta love computer aided drafting tools!) and getting the cabinets picked out. Since I had to be at work by 1:40, we told the salesperson that hubby would be back after lunch to finish the purchase. At that time he was also going to add the appliances to the bill – new fridge, stove, dishwasher and microwave that will also serve as the hood for the stove.  Exciting?  Yes!  A little time-consuming and slightly overwhelming?  Definitely!


I’ve made it a priority to learn to carefully choose my words when speaking to my husband.  Trust me, I do better on some days than others.  But the over all goal is to learn to show my husband the respect he needs from me.  As if his need wasn’t enough motivation,  the end of Ephesians 5:33 states “the wife must respect her husband.”  As easy as it would be to tie some sort of “once he earns it” clause to that statement, the scripture does not say that.  I am simply told to respect him.  


I find that my “mommy brain” is often the cause of my disrespect.  I became a mother more than 20 years ago and have four children, the youngest of whom is fifteen.  Much of my time in the last 20 years has been spent using that “mom” tone of voice that is meant to educate, remind, and keep accountable. Unfortunately, I’ve spent so much time correcting, checking up on, and reprimanding my children that I forget to lose that tone of voice – and that attitude – when speaking to my husband!  In other words, I talk to him like a child who needs mom to check up on him. He is a capable, intelligent, funny, clever individual and does not want or need me to act as his mother!  I still slip occasionally but I’m (hopefully) getting better at it.


So what does buying kitchen cupboards and appliances have to do with respecting my husband?  When it came to the layout of the new cupboards and the appliances, my husband had some definite preferences.  Knowing that he is much more capable at dealing with spatial issues, I trusted him to make the best possible use of the space.  And I absolutely LOVE the layout!  I would never have been able to conceive what he has put together!  When it came to the actual type of cupboard to fit in a designated space, he left that to me.  Much of the power to decide the color and style of the cupboard doors – within reasonable financial limitations – was also left in my hands.  We had looked at a number of possible appliances and I had pointed out my favorites.  Again, I was assured that my desire for a specific color would be honored. As I said before I had to get to work and wouldn’t be there to actually have a say in the final decision regarding the appliances.  Over lunch, we discussed going back later so we could pick them out together but I told him that I trusted him to make the final decision because I knew he would do what was best for our family and our finances.  When I saw the receipt later that day, I discovered that I had gotten my first choice with every single appliance! 


I know this may seem very superficial to some who read this.  It really isn’t about the monetary value or the items themselves.  I see it this way – I could have nagged my husband, reminding him REPEATEDLY over lunch what I expected and asking him to repeat back to me what I wanted.  Wouldn’t that have been a great way to let him know that I was sure he would fail without me there?!  Instead, I simply told him I trusted him – and I really did – to make the decision that would be best for us and our new home.  At the time, I was hoping for at least one of the appliances to be the one I wanted.  Instead, I got all four.  And his own words to me (and in a later Facebook post!) let me know that he loved doing something that made me happy.  Maybe there is something to this actively showing respecting to my husband thing!

The Arrogance of Youth

Before you take issue with the harshness of the title for this post, let me explain.  I spend quite a bit of time around college kids and their absolute confidence of how much they know is amusing.  I can only call it amusing because I used to be just like them.  Can I tell you something?  So did you! There is something about leaving high school and heading out into the big wide world that leaves us quite convinced that we have all the answers.   During those years, young men and women are convinced that they know how to solve all of the worlds problems, that they will be the perfect parent once they start having children and they are quite surprised that their parents have managed to survive given their complete ignorance!  We can be rather obnoxious to be around at that age!


Somewhere along the way, we run into the wall of reality and have to come to grips with the fact that there is so much we have yet to learn! The wall might show up in a marital squabble.  As a young wife, I was often surprised to find that my husband did not want my unsolicited advice.  I mean, I was only trying to help him do it right!  (*gulp* Nothing like completely violating Ephesians 5:33 – “the wife must respect her husband.”)  Or maybe you hit that wall as a parent the first time your little darling stomps a defiant foot and screams “No!” when you tell her to do something.  Whenever it happens – and it will happen – it can be a jarring experience.

But as a follower of The Way, I should not be surprised to learn that I have so much to learn!  Especially when it comes to the things that my Abba is doing!  He tells me as much in his word – ” ‘For your thoughts are not my thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord” (Isaiah 55:8).  In other words, I cannot POSSIBLY understand why God does what he does.

I’ve said to friends before that my spiritual growth has been like slowly opening a door into a grand ballroom that’s all prepared for a party, full of things that will wonder, delight and amaze.  When the door is open just a crack, I see a tiny glimpse of the wonderful things that lie within.  After I have gazed my fill, I open the door a tiny bit further only to find that the new things I can see are even more wondrous.  The more I get to know of God the more aware I am of how much I don’t know and can never know this side of glory. But the more I know of him, the more I stand in awe of the fact that one such as he would not only allow me to fellowship with him, he actually desires it!

In my family, as well as my extended family, there are a number of circumstances that leave us wondering just exactly what God is doing.  We have been trying to buy a house for a couple of months now (it’s in foreclosure) and the company that currently owns the property has been dragging their feet.  Is that the Master’s way of saying “This isn’t the house for you” or is the enemy trying to interfere? My sister  – the middle one in the family – has been trying to train for a half marathon to support a cause she is beyond passionate about yet she keeps injuring and reinjuring an ankle, making it pretty much impossible to train despite the treadmill sitting in her basement!  My baby sister has suffered multiple miscarriages and finds herself 15 weeks into a pregnancy that looks like it might come to term.  So what is God doing?  I could go on with story after story – loss of jobs, relocations, job change – but I don’t want to overwhelm anyone!

So what’s the big answer?! What is God doing?  I don’t have all the details but I can assure you of this – he is still in control, he is still busy educating those that want to know more of him, and he is definitely in the business of helping a once arrogant, know-it-all young wife learn more and more the value of humbling herself before her King and seeking only to please him with her words and her actions. And I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that I can trust him to take care of the rest!


Planning again!

It seems that everywhere I look I see gift ideas!  And my newest web find is not helping my recent drive to create handmade gifts for family members!  Now it seem my ideas are drifting from Christmas to other gift giving events – birthdays, anniversaries, etc. – and I’m still not sure I’ll use up all the ideas I have!


What was that?  You want me to explain my new web find that I mentioned earlier.  Okay.  Here goes.  Hi, my name is Mary Jo and I’m a Pinterest addict!  Yes, I’m one of the hundreds of thousands who have found the pull of Pinterest to be irresistible.  If you don’t know what Pinterest is, it’s basically an online way to keep track of any websites you want to revisit.  It’s especially popular with those who are looking for recipe ideas, home decorating ideas, crafting ideas, teaching ideas, tattoo inspirations, color palettes, you name it!  I have actually tried a couple of the recipes I found there and I’ve got some other projects in the works so we’ll see just what I’m capable of pulling off in the next few weeks (months?!).

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