Tag Archives: community

3 Comments

My daughter and I are all signed up for camp again. This will be the third year we've gone. Some may say I'm crazy for going to camp at the age of 42 (and they may be right), but when your daughter asks you to be her leader, you do it because: 1) there probably won't be many more summers when she wants me at camp, and 2) we make camp a priority for our kids (and here's why).

This is also the first year my son is able to go. I'm excited for him and for my husband who is going as his leader, even though he's never been to camp before! So, in honor of all you church camp veterans and the newbies, I'm sharing my top 10 tips for camp leaders. We need all the help we can get, because camp at the age of 42 is an entirely different experience than camp at the age of 15, or 25 (or, who are we kidding...35)!

Top 10 Tips for Camp Leaders | www.thereisgrace.com

1. Be informed. Read the information, attend the meetings, and ask questions. The more you know, the more prepared you will be, which leads me to #2...

2. Be prepared. Don't simply read the information, do what it says. Camp organizers didn't create those guidelines because they were bored one day. They have answered hundreds of questions, handled numerous issues, and lived through camp a time or two themselves. Glean from their wisdom.

3. Get sleep. Between homesick campers and sturdy-but-not-so-comfy cots, you won't get much sleep at camp. Don't start out exhausted; do your best to go into camp rested. (And make time to catch up on it after).

4. Eat well. If you're over the age of 30, you understand your body doesn't bounce back from physical strain quite like it used to. Whether you're over 30 or not, your body can use all the help it can get to endure the physical rigor that comes with camp. That means nutrition, and lots of it! Camp food isn't typically health food, but you can find good options if you try, so do the best you can.

5. Pray. Don't forget to prepare your spirit as well. God may have an opportunity just waiting for you to impact a student's life. After all, that's the whole reason you're there, right?

6. Pack light. If there is a suggested packing list, follow it. It's there for a reason. It will help you determine what types of clothing you will need. Are chapels dressy or casual? What type of athletic activities should you prepare for? Do you need bedding? Flashlights? An alarm clock? Following a list, will help you be prepared without overdoing it.

7. Check your preferences at the door. There's a good chance something will happen over the course of the week that you don't care for. See that as your opportunity to put on your big boy or big girl pants and be the adult. Campers will look to you in how to respond, so dig deep to find a good attitude and set an example.

8. Build relationships. You're there for the kids, so be there for the kids. Make an effort to search out that one kid who isn't having a great time and include him. Find that girl who is especially homesick and help her make friends.

9. Be the adult. You're not simply an oversized camper. You are the adult...so be one. Make every effort to reflect the standards, the attitude, and the heart of the camp leaders. You are an extension of their leadership.

10. Have fun! Church camp can become one of your fondest memories if you go into it prepared and have the right attitude. So when all is said and done, relax and  enjoy it!

Want to be a Rock Star Camp Leader? Find out how, here!)

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

14 Comments

Three different people--in separate conversations-- last weekend told me they loved my hair. Three hair compliments in a 48-hour period is a major score for any woman, but for someone who spent months "putting on" her hair , those three statements were like gold.

What's funny is, I'm loving my hair these days, too. And not just because it's my hair (although that is a plus). I'm loving the short 'do...which is surprising, because thanks to a terrible Dorothy Hamill haircut in the eighth grade, I've been a long-hair girl most of my adult life.

Hair-over-it

Except for The Hair Catastrophe (as it came to be known) in my mid-20s...

I went in for a trim. What I got, instead, was a complete style makeover...and not a very good one. I don't remember exactly what it looked like, but I do remember standing in front of the mirror, staring in horror at my reflection. I also remember my roommate walking in with a look of concerned terror and asking, “What happened?!” The events that followed are a bit fuzzy, but they may have included tears and a few "sick" days off work.

Yes, it's just hair. And yes, it does grow back, but if you've ever been on the receiving end of an over-zealous stylist, you know in that moment all you feel is panic--a dreadful feeling of I’m going to look like this until it grows out, and there’s nothing I can do about it! I have been there, my friend. I have been. there.

I had another, similar, experience just a few years ago. It wasn't nearly as devastating as the first, but it was almost as painful. I asked for "a little shorter"  and got several inches shorter. Instantly, that same feeling of dread came rushing back. When I looked in the mirror, all I could see was my 20-something-year-old self and that devastating haircut from a decade before.

Thoughts of my hair consumed me the rest of the day. Do I like it this short? Is it really cute? Or just weird? Can I pull off hair this short? I was convinced my thick, natural curl combined with the short cut made me look like a giant Q-Tip walking around!

That evening I was still reeling from the haircut and feeling very self-conscious when I ran into a friend. She had obviously been crying. She smiled at me weakly and said through her tears, "I like your hair." Well, score one for my hair cut, I guess. But I couldn't fully enjoy the victory. I knew why my friend was crying, and it had nothing to do with haircuts.

Her family was going through a terrible trial...one I wouldn't wish on anyone, and I knew her tears were related to their situation. After my encounter with her, I began to think of my other friends who were facing overwhelming circumstances: one was still looking for a job after several months, one had lost a 9-month-old to a rare illness, one had been trying to sell a home for almost a year, one was facing surgery in just a few weeks, one had a sister battling a difficult form of cancer, one was in the middle of an unthinkable legal battle, and the list went on. I had been entirely consumed with my little world and my own insecurities, I hadn’t stopped to think about the needs of those around me.

In the previous weeks, I had spent hours talking with, listening to, and praying for these same friends and their situations. But that day it had been all about me. My hair and my situation had literally consumed my thoughts and energy.

It reminded me of how my children can sometimes be so completely consumed with their own problems they become oblivious to anything going on around them. How many times have I been in the middle of doing something for them (making dinner, doing laundry, etc.) only to have them come to me with a fresh list of demands, “Mom, I need you to…” “Where is my…” “Can you…” “He won’t let me…”

We tolerate, even expect, such selfishness from children, because self-absorption is a sign of immaturity. Children have to be taught to become aware of, and compassionate toward, those around them. It’s not often a trait they find on their own (although we’re so thankful when they do!).

Unfortunately, it’s also a sign of immaturity in me. When will I learn life is not really about me? There are times when we need to focus on our own needs--for health, for restoration, for healing of relationships. But when God brings us through those situations, we need to remember to turn our attention to others. When your biggest stress is a haircut gone awry, you're in a pretty good place; you have time and energy to spend on someone else.

God, in His grace, will help us to look beyond ourselves, our needs, our daily “emergencies,” and find needs in others. When we do that, He can use us to demonstrate His love and meet the needs of those who are hurting.

Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. (Philippians 2:4, The Message)

This thing called life is about more than my wants, my insecurities, and my to-do list. God has designed us to do life together--helping each other, carrying one another's burdens, and learning to serve one another in love. That’s what makes this thing called life worth it. That’s what God's grace in action looks like. I pray that one of these days I’ll finally get over myself (and my hair) and remember that!

How can you show God's love by helping someone in your life?

 

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

6 Comments

Church is not a new concept to me; I've grown up having to #BeIntentional about it. That's what you do in a pastor's family...someone has to be there to turn on the lights, open the doors, clean the bathrooms, and teach Sunday school. We didn't just go on Sundays, either. During the week I did my homework, practiced piano, and played hide and seek with my sisters in the sanctuary while my parents prepared for the next gathering.

Church was literally my home away from home.

My husband's experience was different. His family attended church regularly, but the 45-minute, one-way drive made it a little more difficult to be there every time the doors were open. When we got married, it took us awhile to figure out what our commitment to church would look like. I routinely felt like I wasn't doing enough, while he was happy to be more committed than he'd ever been. We had begun to settle somewhere in the middle when everything changed.

When we walked through the most difficult months of our lives, we began to understand more deeply the impact a local church can have on a family. At a time when it would be harder than ever to commit to attending church, we determined to #BeIntentional about it.

Intentional community

Many times, we showed up emotionally drained and physically exhausted from the toll cancer takes on a family. We were weary, but we went, not out of a legalistic obligation to a building. We went because, quite simply, we needed it.

We needed the worship—not just the lively music, but the atmosphere alive with adoration of a Savior and expectation of what He would do.

We needed the Word. We read the Bible daily, but on those darkest days when our faith faltered, we needed to be reminded that God is for us and fighting on our behalf.

We needed the community. Our large church grew even smaller and more intimate as people stopped to tell us they were praying for us, or offered to bring us a meal, or sent an encouraging note or e-mail. We needed every single one of them who came alongside and stood with us in faith.

Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:24, 25)

We needed connection. Everyone needs a support group, but as Christians we need more than a network of well-meaning individuals. We need to be connected to a body of believers.

For where two or three come together in my name, there I am with them. (Matthew 18:20).

Week after week we found those things and more; we found the hope to make it through the coming days.

We continue to #BeIntentional about gathering together with other believers, even as we settle into our "new normal," because we realize that church is not just for the hard times. Yes, it's in the hard times that we need community, but if we only seek community when we need it, we will end up with a group of highly needy individuals who do nothing but take from others.

That's not God's plan:

The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this. Only as you accept your part of that body does your “part” mean anything. (1 Corinthians 12:25-27, The Message).

I realize that not everyone has fond memories of church. I'm sure someone reading this has suffered a terrible wrong in the name of church or Christianity. Please understand this: That God's heart breaks over your pain. If you will allow Him, He will heal your pain and show you how beautiful His plan can be.

We are so grateful for the ways God used others in our journey. Now we look forward to God using us to help others as we continue to #BeIntentional about church and community in 2015.

Christianity is a personal relationship. It is not a private relationship.  ~Larry Osborne

BeIntentional-250Is there a group of believers with whom you already do life? How can you #BeIntentional in connecting with them? Or, do you need to #BeIntentional about finding a group and connecting? What is holding you back? Share your thoughts in the comments, or join the conversation on Facebook or Twitter.

More Great Reads to Help you #BeIntentional in Community: (Follow the #BeIntentional Pinterest board for these and other resources.)

What Starbucks Taught Me About Church
When You Need Community
3 Reasons to Attend Corporate Worship
10 Signs You Belong to a Great Church
Behind the Stained Glass
Five Benefits of Faithful Preaching
When Grace is In the Pulpit
Finding Hope in Community
When Worship is Our Lifeline

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

2 Comments

There's nothing quite like a girls' weekend, am I right ladies? We all love our families, but there's something about being with people who don't need you to cut their meat or sign another permission slip. And it's all the better when those people are some of your dearest girlfriends...girls who share similar interests and with whom you can just be you... not mom, not homemaker, not chief cook and bottle washer...just a girl in cute shoes and a carefree smile.

I had the chance to do just that a couple of weeks ago. I spent three days with a few girlfriends (over 7,000 girlfriends, to be exact) at the Designed for Life Conference. It was an amazing time of worship, laughter, fun treats, and challenging messages. If you've never experienced a dynamic women's conference, here's why you should consider coming to Designed for Life next year:

7 Reasons You need to attend the Designed for Life conference | thereisgrace.com

Girl time: I promise you won't have to wipe anyone's nose or watch any Nick Jr. You can spend your whole time talking about frivolous things like shoes and handbags or dive into the deep end and discuss the deeper meanings of life.

The Boutique: Seriously, I'm not even a hard-core shopper, and I love the boutique! So much fun stuff...and you can shop as long as you want without having to take someone to the bathroom!

Fun Surprises: Pre-service games and giveaways to special gifts and parting treats. You'll be thrilled and treasured all at the same time. If gifts is your love language, do NOT miss this conference!

designed-for-life-2
Special thanks to my friends for letting me hijack their cute pic! 😉

Connection: Whether you come with a group or by yourself, you'll find unexpected friendships born and established friendships grow deeper. If you end up coming alone, don't worry, there's The Meeting Place where you can connect with other girls. Who knows, you might just make a lifelong friend!

Amazing worship: From the first note, worship at DFL is full-on. There's no "building up to the final session." The DFL worship team comes to worship from the get-go. If you're not ready to jump in at first, don't worry, you will be soon!

Challenging speakers: Chris Caine, Priscilla Shirer, Charlotte Gambill...these are the powerhouse women who brought God's Word to the conference this year. They are world-renown, quality teachers of the Word. And they did not disappoint. Check out the speakers for next year's conference...you don't want to miss it.

God moments: There's something about getting away from the normal routine of life and setting aside time to focus on God and all that He has for you. Yes, God speaks to us in our everyday moments, but I believe it's in those moments we truly set aside for Him that He can do even greater things in us. That's what DFL is all about.

Each session this year felt like the message was specifically targeted to me, personally, and my situation. And I talked to so many other girls who felt the same way. Only God could do that, and that's ultimately what makes DFL a conference worth coming to...God shows up and meets you where you are.

I realize a big conference isn't everyone's "thing." If that's you, I understand. But I want to encourage you to not let your personal preference keep you from all that God has for you. You will be a better woman, wife, mother, employee, and friend when you go back home. Because no one can encounter God for three days straight and not leave changed.

DFL Recap - 2015 Promo from James River Church on Vimeo.

Check out what's in store for DFL 2015.

Alright, DFL sisters...these were only 7 reasons. What are your favorite reasons for coming to DFL? What was your favorite DFL memory? Let me hear from you!

 

signature-1

*********************************

Like what you’ve read? Would you like to get new posts delivered directly to your inbox? Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right, and you’ll get new posts e-mailed to you as soon as they’re published. Easy-peasy. Or, follow me on Facebook , Twitter, or Pinterest.

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

6 Comments

My daughter and I head to church camp next week. Am I crazy to voluntarily spend four days with a group of 4th and 5th grade girls at age 41? Maybe. But I know how important a camp experience is for kids (if you want to know how important, read this post.) I also realize in a few short years my girl won't want me tagging along to camp. So when she said she wanted me be a leader again this year, I signed us both up! (And who are we kidding...I love camp!)

Sitting in the leadership training last weekend, I realized that in my many years of camp experience, I've encountered several "rock star" leaders. These are the leaders who made camp memorable and successful for the campers, the other leaders, and even the camp staff.

rock-star-camp-leader

I've also seen some who, well...didn't. If you've been to camp, there's a good chance you've seen them, too...

My Way or the Highway Ray
Ray has certain preferences and doesn't mind telling you about them. He doesn't like potatoes, so he gripes about the food. He's not a morning person, so he grumbles about the 7:00 am staff meetings. He's not big on getting wet, so he thinks the water games are lame...and he lets everyone know. Don't be this guy: Check your preferences at the door. Be a team player, and remember it's not about you! Don't like the top bunk? Determine you will love it for this week. (And dream about your own, comfy bed waiting for you at home!)

Clueless Carissa
Carissa's group is always late and never where they're supposed to be. It's not because she's new; it's because she's unaware and uninformed. She's always one step behind her group so the more seasoned campers discover they can walk right over her, which they do mercilessly. Don't be this girl: Be informed; read the rules and attend leadership training and meetings. Talk to other leaders and discover the no-nos and the must-dos. Most of all, remember you are the leader and follow the advice of my high school youth pastor: "When in doubt, take charge!"

Party Marty
Marty is all fun all the time. The campers love him, and he's a big hit from the cafeteria to the activity field. So what's the problem? He doesn't know when to stop. His group is rowdy and out of control. They quickly learn to not take anything (including safety and rules) seriously. Camp leadership can't trust him and end up spending valuable time and resources keeping on eye on him. Don't be this guy: Be the adult. Have fun, but be responsible. When it's time to be serious, lead by example. When it's time to sleep, bring the energy level down and get some sleep yourself. Then when it's time for fun, lead the way and party on!

Militant Marsha
Marsha is all business, no play. Her girls know the sound of her whistle (or shriek), and fall in accordingly. They march from event to event and eat in silence. They win the Cleanest Bunk award every year (you can bounce a quarter off those bunks!) They are the first to each activity and set out to win every event (and if they don't, their leader is a poor loser.) Don't be this girl: Relax, and have fun. This isn't the army; it's not even the Girl Scouts. There's nothing wrong with winning events or having a clean bunk, but that's not really the end-goal of camp. Remember, it's OK to cut loose and have a little fun, too!

Rock Star Rick and Rebecca
Rick and Rebecca used vacation time to come to camp, but they realize this week is anything but a vacation; it's not about them...it's about the campers. They came ready to build relationships and invest in others. You'd never know they "aren't the outdoorsy type" because they put on their big-boy and big-girl pants when they got on the bus. They are encouraging of others and cheer on the campers whether they are winning or losing. The campers love them...especially those who started out shy and withdrawn (because Rick and Rebecca made a point to draw them in.) They came ready to work hard and serve others. They eagerly jump in wherever they're needed. That's why they're heroes, not only to the campers, but to the staff as well. Rick and Rebecca make every camp experience a success!

Do you have any rock-star camp experiences (either as a leader or a camper)?

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

12 Comments

Last time I wrote about how to reign in our emotions through worship. You might find it ironic, then, to learn that when I wrote that post, I was struggling with worry and anxiety.

You see, I was facing a follow-up appointment with my specialist the next day. And let me just say, those are never fun. It seems they never have good news, and even when they do, it's typically followed by not-so-good news.

So while I wholeheartedly believe what I wrote about worship and emotions, what I really wanted to do last Wednesday evening was crawl in bed and hide under my covers until the nasty appointment went away. Thankfully, that's not what I did.

hope-in-community

Since it was Wednesday, I pulled myself together and headed to our midweek prayer meeting at church. We call it "the most important service of the week," and here's why....

From the moment I walked in, I saw encouraging faces...friends who know what I'm going through and are praying. Before I even reached the auditorium, I was encouraged by smiles, hugs, words of kindness, and confirmation that I am being prayed for by many, many people!

The worship service had begun by the time we reached the auditorium. We walked in to the sound of hundreds of people singing, "Your name is higher; Your name is greater
All my hope is in You.." It was like walking into a spiritual and emotional refuge. I felt the anxiety melt away as I rested in the knowledge that no matter what I faced the next day, God was not worried, and my hope was in Him.

As a sat in the service, I was reminded of the timely messages for our circumstances. Our pastor preaches systematically through passages and entire books of the Bible. We are currently working our way through the Gospel of John. A few weeks before our initial trip to the specialist, we were in John 10 where we learned about God as the Good Shepherd.

The Sunday after learning of our diagnosis, we were at the story of Lazarus, where I was reminded that although Christ was about to perform a miracle He still wept for His friend and the family (John 11:35). Our pastor made the statement: "God is powerful enough to change our situation and personal enough to enter into the emotion of our situation." If I ever needed to hear that truth, it was then.

It seems a given to suggest that one needs a support group in life, especially when faced with an illness like cancer. However, I think as Christians we need more than a network of well-meaning individuals. We need a community of believers. We need to be connected to a body of believers with whom we can do life...when we are in crisis and when we are not. Because church is not just for the hard times.

If you wait until you are in a crisis to find a community of believers, it may be too late. You may not have the time, energy, or desire to go looking for such a community. However, if you search out such a community before you are in crisis, you will have a support system in place when you need it most. And if you don't have the emotional strength and energy to reach out to them, let them reach out to you. That's what the Church (when it's done well) does best!

Oh, by the way...my appointment with the specialist went really well. The chemo is working; the tumors are shrinking.  Praise God! We are continuing to believe God for complete healing!

signature-1

 

 

Photo source

hope-cancer-250This post is part of the series, Embracing Hope. In the coming weeks, we'll look at why we can put our hope in God, how we put our hope in God, and what we can do when it feels all hope is lost. Won't you come along for the journey? Consider subscribing via e-mail so you can receive new posts delivered directly to your inbox! Simply enter your e-mail address in the box to the right. To view the entire series, click here.

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

14 Comments

There's been a lot of "chatter" lately about Why Millennials are Leaving the Church, which of course, sparks a conversation on How to Keep Millennials in the Church. While both articles make some valid points, my real concern as a parent is, How do I Raise MY Kids to Love and Serve God? 

raise-kids-love-god-1

With children only 8 and almost-6 years old, how could I possibly know anything about raising kids who love God? Well, I don't. Not from first-hand parenting experience, anyway. But I happen to know two fabulous parents who do know a thing or two about it...mine.

My parents have raised three grown daughters who love God. Those daughters married three godly men and are serving together in their individual churches as staff members or in volunteer ministries.

I'm sure if you asked them, my parents would say they made a lot of mistakes a long the way (no, my Dad probably wouldn't say that ;)) But for two young kids (they were 20 and 22 when I was born), I'd say they did all right.

My parents, their kids, and grandkids (minus a couple later arrivals), and "G"...my mom's mom.
2008: My parents, their kids, and grandkids (minus a couple later arrivals), and "G"...my mom's mom.

Now my sisters and I are striving to teach our children the same things our parents taught us. There were a lot of little lessons along the way, but I would say there were two major principles that shaped our spiritual lives:

1. Love God's Word

In junior high, as most kids do at that age, I began to struggle with certain concepts and beliefs. My dad's response was always the same, "What does the Bible say about that?"

He would point me to specific Scripture addressing whatever issue or situation I struggled with. Then we would talk about what it says, and he would answer my questions. (Since those were the good ol' KJV days, this junior higher had a lot of questions!) He didn't force his opinions on me. He pointed me to Scripture and taught me to dig in and discover the answer for myself.

God's Word was always held in high esteem in our home. But it was more than a cherished family heirloom. It was the Word. Of. God. We read it. We studied it. We sang it. We memorized it and quoted it.

We were taught that God's Word is the Truth against which all else is measured. That helped shape our entire world view. It gave us something...the Truth...in which to ground ourselves.

As Christian parents, we talk a lot about teaching our kids to love God. But if we neglect to teach them to love His Word, they won't truly know Who He is. They will be left to create their own version of God based on their own ideas, or worse still, buy into the false concept of God that the world offers.

If we want our kids to love God, we must teach them to love His Word.

2. Love God's Church

My dad was a pastor my entire life. (He still is.) Church is all we've ever known. I was well into adulthood before I realized most people don't spend 4-5 nights a week at church.

Still, church was not an obligation for us. OK, maybe there were times when it was an obligation for my sisters and me, but never for my dad. Yes, he had to be there, but I saw him do it because he loves it.

I'm the first to admit churches aren't perfect. Growing up in a pastor's home, I've seen some pretty malicious behavior from people in the church, and sometimes from others in ministry! It's not easy to get over hurtful things that are said about (or to) your parents.

But my parents were quick to teach us that is not God's plan for the Church. Gossip, politics, backstabbing...all the "junk" is not what the Church is about. Those things happen because churches are filled with humans. And we humans tend to be imperfect most all the time.

My parents taught us that God's plan for the Church is for believers to come together for fellowship, for teaching, for encouragement, and for helping each other carry the load. When I went off to college, finding a good church was at the top of my list. I knew I had to find a place to get connected with other believers.

When we teach our kids to love God's Church, we set them up for success in their relationship with God. We don't have to fear they will move away and "get in with the wrong crowd" or be influenced by the wrong ideology. We can be confident that they will seek out a community that will encourage them in their faith and help them in their trials.

My sisters and I have fared better than many PKs we know, and we owe a lot of that to our parents. They were the same at home as they were at church. We lived by the same standards my dad preached from the pulpit. I saw them walk through trials and difficulties and lean into God for strength and wisdom. I pray I do as great a job as they did raising kids who love and serve God.

Not bad for a couple of young kids trying to figure it all out, huh?

raising-kids-love-God-3

Those two crazy kids celebrated 42 years of marriage this week...
Happy Anniversary Mom & Dad! We love you!

*********************************
Like what you’ve read? Would you like to get new posts delivered directly to your inbox? Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right, and you’ll get new
posts e-mailed to you as soon as they’re published. Easy-peasy. Or, follow me on Facebook , Twitter, or Pinterest.

Photo source

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

2 Comments

Once a year, thousands of girls from around the world converge on a quiet little town in the hills of Southwest Missouri with one thing in mind: They want to experience God.

Every year, without fail, He shows up.

DFL13-1

Women are touched.

Lives are transformed.

Each girl, young and old alike, goes home a better woman, wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend.

Oh, and there's chocolate. Lots and lots of chocolate (and other fun surprises!).

This year I'd love for you to join me September 26-28 for the...

2013 Designed for Life Conference: She is the Revolution.

You'll find all the details here, but hurry...there's a discount if you register by August 1! (If you miss that deadline, don't worry, there's still plenty of time to get registered.)

Check out what women are already saying about this conference!

If you are coming, please leave me a comment and let me know. I would love to meet you!

DFL-2013
See? Already have my packet!

What do you say, ladies...who's up for a Revolution?

Media source

 *********************************
Like what you’ve read?
Would you like to get new posts delivered directly to your inbox? Enter your e-mail address in the box to the right, and you’ll get new posts
e-mailed to you as soon as they’re published. Easy-peasy.
Or, follow me on Facebook , Twitter, or Pinterest.

 

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

67 Comments

I'm going to let you in on a little secret that not many people know about me: I am a semi-professional camper. Not the sleep-in-a-tent-under-the-stars type camper, but the church-camp type camper.

I've been going to church camp since I was about 4 years old. My parents were district directors for our church organization and one of their responsibilities was to direct the summer youth camps. Thus began my long love affair with church camp.

Last week I had the special privilege of going to kids camp with my daughter and serving as her team leader. For the record, camp is an entirely different experience when you're 40 than it is when you are 20! Still, I would not trade the experience for all the luxury hotel rooms in the world.

I realize not everyone shares my love of "roughin' it for Jesus." But I believe every child should experience church camp at least once, and here's why.

4 Reasons to Make Camp a Priority for your Child | www.thereisgrace.com

Controlled Independence
Camp is a great opportunity to learn a little independence, but still have plenty of adult supervision. Mom isn't hovering about nagging reminding them to brush their teeth and make their bed. But it's not a free-for-all, either. Kids learn responsibility and independence by keeping their bunks tidy, keeping their clothes together, and being ready on time...all under the supervision of adult leaders.

I was unable to join my girls at the lake one afternoon at camp. One of the leaders asked my daughter, "Do you miss your mom?" "No!" she replied (a little too enthusiastically!). "I feel like a teenager just hanging out with my friends!" This mama is happy to give my daughter a little "independence" at the lake when I know there are 18 other team leaders and 3 lifeguards keeping an eye on things! 😉church-camp-2

Positive Role Models
The camp worship leader was a young woman who my Little Miss adores. This young lady is like a rock star. She could not walk across the campground without being swarmed by 7- and 8-year-old girls. And she stopped to hug. every. single. one. (Taylor Swift has nothin' on her!)

On stage and off, this young lady is someone I am happy to allow influence my daughter. From the rec staff to the leadership staff to fellow campers, I am thankful my daughter was surrounded by godly role models who encouraged her in her relationship with God.

Unfortunately, we have all heard news stories of terrible things than have occurred because of camp staffers. But if you do your homework and find a church or organization you trust that performs strict background checks, you can find a safe and trustworthy camp experience for your child.

If you're still nervous, you can offer to volunteer as a leader. I'm sure they'd appreciate the extra help! (Check out these tips for being a Rock-Star Camp Leader.)

church-camp-4

It's Fun!
I am not a get-down-in-the-mud kind of girl. I'm not super athletic or competitive and I don't really care to be dirty. My daughter is the same way. So, when I heard about Mud Day at our camp, I was a little concerned.

Mud Day is exactly what it sounds like...a bunch of games entirely in the mud. I had no choice but to put on my big girl pants and take one for the team. So I did. And so did my daughter. As a matter of fact, she loved it! (And so did many of the other girls who started out a little hesitant about the mud.)

There were a few who did not enjoy getting muddy (or leaving their shoes behind in the mud pit), but even those girls vowed to return to camp next year, because (in their words) "Camp is so much fun!"

church-camp-3

They Will Encounter God
Camp played a significant role in my spiritual life as I grew up. I accepted Christ at camp. I learned to have a quiet time at camp. I learned to recognize God's Spirit speaking to my heart at camp. I learned to work out my faith at camp.

At some point, your child will choose to either make your faith their own or reject it entirely. You can't make that choice for them, but you can give them opportunities along the way.

A Bible-believing camp is the perfect opportunity for your kids to step into their own relationship with God. For a few days they are not distracted by home life, sibling squabbles, or pressure from school. It's just them and God.

We often think nothing of plunking down hundreds of dollars for soccer camp, gymnastics camp, band camp, or (fill in the blank with any other activity) camp. We will even schedule family vacations and other commitments around them, because we recognize the benefit of concentrated efforts in those areas.

Imagine what could happen if we put as much effort and financial investment into our children's spiritual development!

Think about the impact it will have when, years down the road, they look back on their camp experience and say, "I know God is real, because I met Him at camp."

What experiences have you or your kids had at church camp?

Also, check out these 10 Things to Ask Your Kids When They Get Home from Camp.

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.

89 Comments

Several weeks ago, I had a rare opportunity for a few, uninterrupted hours alone--no children, just me and my laptop. I took the opportunity to do something I've not done in a long, long time...I went to Starbucks (cue the angelic choir).

What Starbucks Taught Me About Church | thereisgrace.comOnce I was settled in with my caffeinated beverage of choice, I was ready for the creative juices to flow. It didn't take long, however, to notice the juices weren't flowing. In fact, I was having a difficult time focusing at all. Oddly, it had little to do with my usual procrastination method--Facebook and Pinterest--and more to do with the constant chatter coming from the counter.

This wasn't the typical can-I-take-your-order chatter. This was genuine, excited conversation as employees greeted customers by name and asked detailed questions about their weekend, their families, and their jobs. It was as if I had stumbled upon a hipster version of Cheers.

Not everyone likes to be chatted up before they've had a good dose of caffeine, but from what I could tell, most of the people enjoyed it. Even those who started off rather gruff and grumpy quickly warmed up to the chit chat.

I was intrigued by this phenomenon, and as I continued to observe, I realized the warm and inviting atmosphere was really the result of a few simple things--things we Christians could learn when it comes to our churches:

1. They made me feel welcome. It didn't matter that I was the only one who pulled up in a minivan, that I didn't have cool hipster clothes or artsy tattoos, or that my laptop was older than some of the employees. They treated me just like they treated everyone else. They looked at me, smiled at me, and called me by name. I may have looked different from them, but they didn't treat me any differently.

Imagine for a moment, if we took that lesson into our churches, looking past how people are dressed or how many tattoos they might have (or don't have). What if we looked at the person and what needs they might have? Hmmm, wouldn't that be revolutionary...

2. They met my need. My date with Starbucks happened to come on one of those days, the kind that leave you desperately needing some caffeine. And that's exactly what I got--a nice, big cup of steaming caffeine. Honestly, I was so grateful, the barista could have probably convinced me to buy his car, too.

Of course the ultimate need of people who come to our churches is a relationship with God, but maybe they don't yet realize that. Maybe they are just looking for community. Maybe they need counseling. Maybe times are tough and they need help feeding their family. If we pounce on them with our list of 10 reasons they need Jesus when they're just wondering how to feed their 6 kids this week, we could very well turn them off to church. Or worse, we may turn them off to the only thing that will ultimately help them--a relationship with God. It may be cliché, but it's true: People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.

3. They had fun. Most of that distracting hum of conversation was coming from behind the counter. The employees were having a great time. There was a lot of fun and laughter, and a boatload of "please" and "thank you," "could you" and "I'd be happy to." That's how they talked to each other...their fellow employees! I have no desire to ever work in the food service industry, but I couldn't help thinking, "This would be a really fun place to work!"

What if people came to our churches and thought, "This would be a really fun place to come every week!"? Imagine if there was less gossip, backstabbing, and griping about the pastor or the music. What if there was more respect, genuine friendliness, and all around good times? What if people actually enjoyed going to church? Shocking, I know!

I'm going to venture a guess that if people came to a church that was enjoyable, they'd be more willing to come back, if only to feel good for a few hours after a hard week. (Before you send me an email let me be clear: I'm not saying to toss out the Word of God for more ping pong tables and video games. I'm talking about an "attitude" of general happiness.)

Starbucks obviously has a different goal than our churches do. They want to make money; we want to see lives changed for the glory of God. If Starbucks employees can get excited over an extra shot of espresso, can't we get excited over a living, active relationship with the Creator of the universe?

The same people who frequent Starbucks are the same people coming to our churches. They may not come looking for a jolt of caffeine (although it doesn't hurt to have some available!). They may not even know why they come, but by the time they leave, they probably know if they'll come back.

Some churches get this. They do a fantastic job of creating a fun and welcoming environment. Still, I often talk to people who have a preconceived notion of church and Christianity because of their negative (sometimes horrific!) experiences in church.

While I can't undo the hurt some people have experienced in the name of Christianity, I can, hopefully, be part of the healing. I can see these people for who they are...hurting. I can look for a need and pray that God will give me wisdom to help meet it. I can enjoy life, and invite them to join the fun! (Because when Christianity is done right, it really is a lot of fun, isn't it?)

Imagine what could happen in our communities if people were drawn to Christians and to church because of warmth and friendliness. What if they kept coming back for the fun and community? What would happen if they liked it enough to stay (and their lives were changed by the power of God)?

It could happen. After all, don't we all want to go where everybody knows our name?

Photo source

signature-1Like what you've read? Sign up in the sidebar to receive blog posts via e-mail and get a FREE printable of 10 Inspirational Scriptures. It's as easy as that! Don't forget to follow me on Twitter and Pinterest, too!

Plus: Read the full story of my journey through cancer to healing in Unshakable: Finding Faith to Weather the Storm. Available now at Amazon.