Mid-Week Links: The It’s-Fall-But-It-Doesn’t-Feel-Like-It Edition

Is anyone else as excited as I am that it is Fall! It is just my very favorite time of year. The chill in the air – okay that hasn’t happened just yet. The changing of the leaves – well, that will be happening soon. Still, according to the calendar, Fall is here and I am thrilled.

I don’t know about your neck of the woods but, here in my world, it’s supposed to be rainy and somewhat cool. So, I’m going to make some coffee, relax on the couch and pretend that it’s cold outside. I’ll also be checking out some of my favorite bloggers. Maybe, you would like to check them out, too!coffee

I don’t know about y’all, but this world seems to be spinning crazy fast. Sometimes, anxiety sets in because I just can’t keep up. Lately, however, I feel like God has been speaking a word to be ever-fretful heart. You don’t need to keep up. You need to slow down. 

There is freedom in letting go of the need to keep up. 

My prayer for you today, sweet friends, is that you would slow down just a little. Linger over that cup of coffee a little longer. Snuggle the kiddos a few extra minutes at bedtime. Turn off the television and gaze out of the window instead.

For a moment, just breathe.

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me and buxStacy Edwards (@sjedwards) is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She is a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom to four fabulous little girls. Stacy blogs at Servant’s Life where she uses her words to point others to the hope and encouragement found in Christ. If you need her, she’s probably hiding in the bathroom.

Printable Scripture Word Art: Isaiah 35:4

Scripture Printable

Scripture Printable Oct 2013

Inviting Guests to Your Nest

I have just finished cleaning my house in anticipation of some overnight guests. I just love opening up my home to friends and family. I’m reminded of another time when I was preparing my nest for guests.goody basket

I was, as I tend to be, overly concerned with what people might think of me or my home. So, I had worked myself up into a tizzy. I felt fairly good about the way my house looked until, at the very last minute, I noticed the microwave. Inside that thing was leftover splatters of innumerable meals. Don’t look at me like you don’t know what I’m talking about.

There was just no time to clean it. For the life of me, I could not think of any reason why we would need to use it that night. It was gonna be just fine.

Our company shows up and we’re playing games and we’re laughing. Good times were being had. Then, I’ll be darned if one of the ladies did not reach into her diaper bag, pull out a bottle, turn to her hubby and say, “Darling, could you just heat this up in the microwave for a few seconds?” I may or may not have audibly gasped.

Everything moved in slow motion as he walked over and pressed the button that opened the door to all my shame. That poor man looked back at his wife and I’m pretty sure he was trying to blink a message in Morse code. He slowly put the bottle in, closed the door, and seemed to pray that the Spaghettio’s that were stuck to the top of the microwave would stay in place for a few more seconds.

I am not even exaggerating when I tell you that I barely breathed the rest of the evening. I. was. mortified.

What’s my point?

Clean your microwave.

And, don’t worry so much about what people think. Hospitality isn’t about perfection and it has nothing to do with what you do or do not have. You can bless people with whatever God has given you.

Also, clean your microwave.

5 Tips for Preparing Your Nests for Guests

  1. Have a goody basket wherever the guests will be sleeping.Sometimes, we all get the munchies at night. Most folks are never, even if invited, going to help themselves to your pantry. Granola bars, peanut butter crackers, etc. Maybe a couple bottles of water.
  2. Place a couple of magazines or light reading material and a low wattage lamp in the sleeping area. Crossword puzzle or word find books are also a good idea.
  3. Keep extra toiletry items in your main bath (disposable razors, tooth brushes, body wash, etc.) Then, make sure your guests know they can help themselves to any of it. This saves the guest any embarrassment over forgotten items.
  4. Don’t plan elaborate meals. Fruit and muffins for breakfast. Chicken salad croissants and chips for lunch. Something in the crock pot for dinner.Spend more time in fellowship than you do in the kitchen.
  5. Clean your microwave. Come on. You knew I was going to say that.

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me and buxStacy Edwards (@sjedwards) is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She is a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom to four fabulous little girls. Stacy blogs at Servant’s Life where she uses her words to point others to the hope and encouragement found in Christ. If you need her, she’s probably hiding in the bathroom

You are Loved (and Here are Some Links)

Blogging is a funny thing. A person pours their heart out onto a keyboard and people across the world read. For just a moment, one can catch a glimpse into the life of a stranger.coffee

Sometimes, I wish it could be different. I wish I could get to really know you. Yes, you! I wish I could swing the front door open and invite you to sit on my couch. We could sit, drink coffee and get to know one another. For instance, you would learn that I always have coffee. I may run out of milk or toilet paper, but never coffee. Priorities, people.

You would see that my floors are littered with toys, I’m way behind in my laundry and it took an impending visit from my mother to make me finally clean my crock pot. I do not enjoy cooking, am too high strung and, at this moment, am trying to decide if I can go to the grocery store without washing my hair because I am just stinking tired this morning.

If you could see me now, you would see that I am human. I am just like you. In this internet, social media, blog world, it’s important that we remember there are real people on the other side of the computer screen. It’s important for readers to know that the writers are real people with real feelings and to show wisdom when commenting and critiquing. It’s equally important for writers to remember that there are real people reading the words and to weigh each one to make sure it will be used to build up and not tear down. Grace needs to flow both ways.

I don’t know why I felt the need to say that this morning. Maybe I’m just doing a little self preaching. It is important to me, however, for you to know that I see each of you. Y’all are not just a bunch of faceless statistics. I care about where you are right at this moment. That is the message I want you to walk away with today. You are loved.

I better go now. I’m pretty sure my one year old is eating out of the trash can, again.

 

Also, here are some links for your Friday. Have a great day, y’all!

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me and buxStacy Edwards (@sjedwards) is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She is a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom to four fabulous little girls. Stacy blogs at Servant’s Life where she uses her words to point others to the hope and encouragement found in Christ. If you need her, she’s probably hiding in the bathroom

Family Time Calendar: September 2013

September 2013 Family Time Calendar

September Family Time Calendar

 

It’s almost September, y’all! Since the 1st is on Sunday and it’s a holiday weekend, you may want to go ahead and print the new Family Time Calendar out and have it ready.

Also, in this month’s Family Time column, there was a suggestion for a family flag football game. In case you missed it, here are the details!

Flag Football: 

Create your own flags. Have each family member select his or her own 1½-inch grosgrain ribbon. Measure the ribbon to fit around each person’s waist. Cut and attach Velcro tabs to the belt. Cut three to four flags for each belt, and attach with Velcro tabs.

Divide your family into two teams. Mark out the field with clear boundaries and an end zone. If you have time, you can create your own field goal using PVC pipe. For detailed instructions, visit spoonful.com/sites/default/files/0906_goalpost_0.pdf.

A Godly Rhythm

A Bible teacher used a dancing analogy and, suddenly, it’s always in my mind.  Quick, slow, slow.  Quick, slow, slow.  That’s the rhythm of a godly life.

My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quickto listen, slow to speak andslow to become angry. – James 1:19

It’s not the way of the flesh.  Flesh wants to strike out when wounded.  Human nature wants others to hurt when we hurt. All too often, we look for ways to share the pain.  That is not God’s way.  Quick, slow, slow.  Quick, slow, slow.

And, sometimes, the slow is painful. The keeping silent while others rage. The decision to not return anger for anger. It takes effort to train our hearts in the steps of this unnatural dance.

No dance is successful unless one leads and one follows.  We would be best to stand down and let the one who created the dance lead the way.

The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent. – Exodus 14:14

Quick, slow, slow.  Quick, slow, slow.

When we allow ourselves to be taken over by the godly rhythm, this dance of life is a bit easier and softer. We find that there is beauty in the brokenness. We begin to recognize others who are learning the same moves and we can appreciate the effort it takes.

Then, instead of judging or misunderstanding or lashing out, we can smile and nod because we understand.

We understand the dance and we recognize those awkward movements.  We give grace to those still learning the steps.

Quick, slow, slow.  

Quick, slow, slow.

 

 

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me and buxStacy Edwards (@sjedwards) is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She is a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom to four fabulous little girls. Stacy blogs at Servant’s Life where she uses her words to point others to the hope and encouragement found in Christ. If you need her, she’s probably hiding in the bathroom.

 

Consider Yourself Warned

weddingSomeone should really warn you, when you are up there in all of your bridal glory, what it will look like in ten years. There you are, all radiant and happy and easily fitting into that size 8 dress.When you’re staying up as late as you want and living spontaneously, you don’t have a clue what is about to happen to you. You have no way of knowing that you will do things like this or that you will have days like this.

How could you know that, just ten years later, you would wake up to three kids in your bed and a baby crying across the room? You could never imagine that you would wipe a snotty nose with your bare hand, rock a baby in your other and have no recollection of the last hot shower you’ve had. You will show up in the carpool line wearing things that would have horrified the college version of you.

Yes, someone should warn you.

They should tell you about the dirty dishes and the laundry. They should give you a heads up on the fact that toddlers poop in the bathtub, your feet get bigger when you’re pregnant and you need to pace yourself on the tooth fairy thing or you will be broke by the third kid. You need to know that the kids will color on your walls and pee in your bed and tell the teacher at daycare what color of underwear you’re wearing that day. Seriously, people, these things happen and you should know.

Then, when they have warned you about all of these things, they should warn you that you would do it all over again. They should tell you that you will learn to appreciate life and love yourself. You should know that, on the worst of worst days, your child will do something crazy and you will laugh until you cry.fam of 6

In ten years, your life will look nothing like anything you imagined. And you. will. love. it.

Consider yourself warned.

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me and buxStacy Edwards (@sjedwards) is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She is a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom to four fabulous little girls. Stacy blogs at Servant’s Life where she uses her words to point others to the hope and encouragement found in Christ. If you need her, she’s probably hiding in the bathroom.

I Am a Church Member

When Michael and Liam began meeting for Monday morning breakfast at 6 a.m. more than five months ago, they originally thought it would be a one-time event. They met in a couples’ Bible study group in their church. For many reasons, they hit it off and were becoming good friends. The two men enjoyed their time together so much that the one-time event became a weekly event. It was now rare for the two friends not to meet on Monday mornings.

But on this particular Monday morning, the conversation turned from lighthearted discussions about sports and family to something more serious. Michael and his wife had noticed some changes in Liam’s demeanor in their Bible study group. He no longer seemed as interested in studying and discussing the Bible as he did talking about their church. And his comments were often critical about the congregation. Still, Michael was caught off guard on that particular Monday morning. Liam loved the poached eggs in the little restaurant; it was his regular order. But on this Monday morning, he hadn’t touched them. He was barely sipping his coffee.

Liam didn’t take long to get to the point. “Michael,” he began, “Lana and I have decided to leave the church.” The pause seemed to last minutes. Neither of the men knew who should speak next.

Michael took the initiative and spoke softly yet deliberately. “You want to tell me about it?” Michael inquired. He honestly didn’t know if Liam wanted to say any more about it. His friend seemed resolute. Nevertheless, Liam began to explain his feelings and decision.

“Lana and I went to the church to learn deep truths about the Bible,” Liam offered. “But Pastor Robert is just not feeding us. We’re not getting anything out of his messages. Sitting in the service on Sunday morning is a waste of our time.”

Michael didn’t respond but could tell that Liam had more to say.

“There are several great people in the church,” Liam continued. “You and Karen are the best, and there are a few more like you.” He paused and his facial expression became even more serious. “But, honestly, Michael, our church is full of hypocrites. Did you hear Jim at the kids’ basketball game? He embarrassed me the way he was calling out the refs. What kind of testimony is that for a Christian? And of course, everyone knows about Neal. He was supposedly this pillar of the church, and we found out he’s been cheating on his wife for more than a year. What kind of church is this with these kinds of people?”

Liam was angry but controlled as continued to vent. “Look, Pastor Robert acts like he cares for us, but I’m not sure he does. I told him that Lana’s dad was in the hospital for hernia surgery, and he never visited him.”

Michael knew that Lana’s father was not a church member, and he lived 50 miles away. He also knew that Pastor Robert called him and prayed with him. But he also knew that any rebuttal would not be timely at the moment. Michael held his tongue.

It seemed that Liam’s mild rant was winding down. Liam seemed exhausted, ready to bring the conversation to a close. He did, however, offer a few pointed comments membership and two insightful questions.

“Michael,” Liam began softly. “I really like you and Karen and your kids. All of you are a class act.” He paused briefly. “But you seem enthused about the church. You keep serving and contributing. Don’t get me wrong, but I wonder at times if you are blind to all the problems in the church.”

Then Liam offered a closing that spoke more than he realized.

“We are two different types of church members,” he stated. “Why is that? Why do we have such different perspectives?”

The Difference

Nine out of 10 churches in America are declining or growing at a slower pace than that of their communities. Simply stated, churches are losing ground in their own backyards.

Another way of looking at it is generationally. About two-thirds of the Builder generation, those born before 1946, are Christians. However, only 15 percent of Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, are Christians. Millennials are the largest generation in America’s history with almost 80 million members.

And we have all but lost that generation.

We can blame it on the secular culture. And we often do.

We can blame on the godless politics of our nation. We do that as well.

We can even blame it on the churches, the hypocritical members, and the uncaring pastors. Lots of Christians do that.

I’m proposing that we who are church members need look in the mirror. I’m suggesting that congregations across America are weak because many of us church members have lost the biblical understanding of what it means to be a part
of the body of Christ.

We join our churches expecting others to serve us, to feed us, and to care for us.

We don’t like the hypocrites in the church, but we fail to see our own hypocrisies.

God didn’t give us local churches to become country clubs where membership means we have privileges and perks.

He placed us in churches to serve, to care for others, to pray for leaders, to learn, to teach, to give and, in some cases, to die for the sake of the gospel.

Many churches are weak because we have members who have turned the meaning of membership upside down. It’s time to get it right. It’s time to become church members as God intended. It’s time to give instead of being entitled.

A New Path

Though it’s a small step, I’m suggesting that church members consider a new path. There are six steps we should carefully and prayerfully take. Let’s consider each of these steps to be the type of church member God intended us to be.

First, let’s note the metaphor of membership. It’s not membership as in a civic organization or country club. It’s the kind of membership given to us in 1 Corinthians 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ and individual members of it.” Because I’m a member of the body of Christ, I must be a functioning member, whether I’m an “eye,” an “ear,” or a “hand.” As a functioning member, I will give. I will serve. I will minister. I will evangelize. I will study. I will seek to be a blessing to others.

Second, I will strive to be a source of unity in the church. I know there are no perfect pastors, staff, or other church members. But I’m not perfect either. I won’t be a source of gossip or dissension. One of the greatest contributions I can make is to do all I can in God’s power to help keep the church in unity for the sake of the gospel.

Third, I will not let my church be about my preferences and desires; that’s self serving. I’m in this church to serve others and to serve Christ. My Savior went to the cross for me. I can deal with any inconveniences and matters that aren’t my preference or style.

Fourth, I will pray for my pastor every day. His work is never ending. His days are filled with constant demands for his time, with the need to prepare sermons, with those who are rejoicing in births, with those who are travelling through the valley of the shadow of death, with critics, with the hurts and hopes of others, and with the need to be  a husband and a father. My pastor cannot serve the church in his own power.

Fifth, I will lead my family to be good members of this church as well. We will pray together for our church. We will worship together in our church. We will serve together in our church. And we will ask Christ to help us fall deeper in love with this church because He gave His life for her.

Sixth, I will remember that this membership is a gift. When I received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, I became a part of the body of Christ. I soon thereafter identified with a local body and was baptized. And now I”m humbled and honored to serve and to love others in our church. I pray that I will never take my membership for granted, but see it as a gift and an opportunity to serve others, and to be a part of something so much greater than any one person or member.

~~~~

Adapted with permission from I Am a Church Member by Thom S. Rainer (B&H Publishing, May 2013)

Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife,
Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam, Art, and Jess; and six grandchildren. Dr. Rainer publishes a daily blog at thomrainer.com and can be found on Twitter at @ThomRainer and on Facebook at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

 

Mid-Week Links: The I-Think-We-Are-Going-To-Make-It Edition

There is something about a Wednesday that makes me think, “I’ve almost made it.”

See, Monday morning greeted me with three sick kids and a teething baby. Some days are just that way.

I rallied a little on Tuesday when I fixed our broken vacuum cleaner. It had been out of commission for several days – okay, fine – it had been several weeks. I was beginning to have floors that you could eat off of – not because of their cleanliness, mind you, but because of the amount of food crumbs on them. I took that baby apart, put it back together and it worked. I’m certain that Proverbs 31:32 would have read, “She repaireth small household appliances.”

So, here we are at Wednesday. I think we are going to be just fine, y’all. I hope you will pour yourself a nice hot cup of whatever floats your boat and enjoy these lovely links.

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me and buxStacy Edwards (@sjedwards) is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She is a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom to four fabulous little girls. Stacy blogs at Servant’s Life where she uses her words to point others to the hope and encouragement found in Christ. If you need her, she’s probably hiding in the bathroom.

5 Things You Don’t Say to a Tired Mama

My first three babies were great sleepers. I’m talking sleep through the night at ten weeks old kind of sleepers. I’m not gonna lie – it. was. awesome. Then, I had baby number last 4. That sweet babe of mine did not sleep for more than 45 minutes at a time for nine months.

Sophia - Dedication PhotoThen, I understood. All of those tired mamas on Facebook suddenly made sense to me. I nodded in total agreement how coffee had become a necessity and showering a luxury. I repented of every time I had judged a mama wearing pajama pants at the grocery store. Instead, I applauded her for even making it there. I began having people tell me things that, though well meaning, were either irritating or (worse) discouraging.

So, on behalf of all tired mamas out there, I’m going to tell you 5 things you should never say in response to a post or statement about being tired.

  1. My baby is six and still doesn’t sleep through the night. Nothing will make a tired mama feel worse than the suggestion that there is no end in sight to the physical and mental exhaustion she is enduring. Some days, the only thing that enables us to make it through the day is the hope that tonight may just be the night. Please don’t stomp all over that hope.
  2. My sweet angel sleeps twelve hours every night. I’m just going to go ahead and tell you that this may get you blocked on Facebook. Oh, I kid. Sort of.  If your friend has a child who doesn’t sleep and she hasn’t had the energy to bathe in two days, it is not the time to brag about how well rested and wonderful you feel.
  3. Just enjoy it because you’ll miss these days. I will miss having barbies in my bathtub. I will miss having a toddler sneak into my bed at night. I will miss night time snuggles and footie pajamas. I will miss story time and days at the park. I will not miss being so exhausted that I wash my hair in body wash and mistake diaper cream for hand lotion. When you say this to a tired mom, you instill a sense of guilt in her because she is just tired and wants to wiggle her nose and be at the next stage.
  4. What you should be doing is… This is just a no-no. Mothering is such an intimate thing. The moment you tell another mom what she “should” be doing, it can seem like a condemnation of what she is currently doing. Now, I’m not saying that you never give advice. Just be aware of how you say it. A proper way would be: All children are different, but something that worked for me is… Or maybe you read something helpful. You could say, I read the neatest thing the other day. Have you ever read… Just be aware that a tired mama is a sensitive mama and speak accordingly.
  5. You look exhausted. We tired mamas like to think that we don’t look like we’ve been hit by a Mack truck. So, when you see us out and about at the store or church, just say how great we look. Seriously. We will know you are lying and we will love you for it.

If you are a tired mama, I applaud you.

You can do this.

You are a rock star.

You go, girl.

And you look fabulous!

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me and buxStacy Edwards (@sjedwards) is a trucker’s daughter and a pastor’s wife. She is a freelance writer and a homeschooling mom to four fabulous little girls. Stacy blogs at Servant’s Life where she uses her words to point others to the hope and encouragement found in Christ. If you need her, she’s probably hiding in the bathroom.