Thursday, April 24, 2014

Care, Show and Harvest defines stewardship as:

1. the position and duties of a stewarda person who acts as the surrogate of another or others, especially by managing property, financial affairs, an  estate, etc.

2. the responsible overseeing and protection of something considered worth caring for and preserving

I love the part that says, "...something considered worth caring for..."  Our faith, our earth, our home and family, our church.  Those are things I consider worth caring for and more.

Stewardship has been heavy on my heart the last few weeks, maybe even months.  Actually, now that I think about it, it's probably been on my heart for over a year!

There is so much that stewardship entails, especially in the church.  Our gifts, our service, our presence, our prayers, and yes our money.  The ministries of our church need our stewardship.  They need our protection, our caring, our attention.  

The ministries of our church are our people, both members and non members, both inside and outside the building.

I may be crazy, but I feel that if we are being good stewards of our ministries, the money will come.  I could be wrong, I don't know but it is a very strong feeling I have.  Let me explain what I mean.

If we are showing our 'church', our 'people', our community that we care, that we are here for them, then they will feel that they are a part of the church, the community and will want to 'care for and preserve it.' (Please refer back to the second definition of stewardship.)

If we show (not just tell) what our ministries are doing and who they are serving, I think maybe people will get excited to be a part of it.

How do we do this?  

First we make certain that our ministries are in ministry.  We make sure that the people of our church and community are being served by us.  Are we visiting people?  Are we being sure that our shut-ins, our ill, our lonely are being cared for by our ministries?  Are we taking care of our youth? Our children?  Our adults? Are they being nurtured?  Are we reaching out to them?  Teaching them?    Are we serving in the community?  Are we reaching out to those in need?  Are we staying in contact with our 'people' on a regular basis? Do we let our 'people' know we care about them, that we are here for them? Do we have ministries that do this?

Then what? How do we show that we are doing this? 

We ask people to share.  We ask a child, a youth, anyone to share what the church and it's ministries that are offered to them, mean to them.  Maybe we ask them to speak in church, or ask them on video to be shared, or even ask them to write a little something that can be shared in the newsletter, on the website, Facebook and so on.  We ask and we share.

We find ways to SHOW our ministries and how they are making a difference in someone's life.  When people SEE ministries in action, when they SEE the fruits of the ministries of the church, they just might want to be a part of it!  Whether hands on or financially, they just might want to help.

This needn't only happen once a year during the stewardship campaign.  I think it should be happening on a regular basis!  People need to see and know what is going on in the their church and not just on Sunday mornings.  They need to know and SEE that ministry is happening all the time.  They need feel that they are a part of it.  If they never see or hear from those who are on the receiving end, they may not realize that ministries are happening.  Well, they probably know that the youth and children meet but they don't know what they are doing, or that they are effective, that the are making a difference in lives unless we SHOW them.

You never know, it may just touch someone's life, someone who is looking for a place to belong, a place to serve and be served.  More ministries could grow out of the showing, touching more lives, making more disciples.

Where there is life, there is everything you need but hidden life, life not shared, well, it's hard for it to be sustained, hard for it to grow.  If a plant is hidden from the sun, hidden from view, it can't grow but if you put it in the sunlight, and you take care of it, it will flourish!  It will produce and the harvest will be great!

What do you think?  Do you think we should be showing more throughout the year?  What ideas do you have?  Please share!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's often taboo to talk about this but here it goes!

Our church recently finished our annual stewardship campaign.  I'm not on the finance committee, so at this point I have no idea how it went as far as pledges go.  To me, it seemed like a fairly soft campaign and I can understand why... kind of...

People seem to get really squirrelly when the church starts talking about money and stewardship.  It's really frustrating.  It's a fine line to walk.  You don't want to be pushy because people don't like that but if you go too soft, well, people don't get into it.

Several years ago, we used the "Practicing Extravagant Generosity" study for our stewardship campaign and it was wonderful!  Honestly, I think it changed my life. I don't know how well it went for our congregation as a whole but it was great.

I have to share with you how this changed my life.

I've always been an on again, off again tither.  We always tried to give 10% but sometimes it was really hard and we were unable, but we always gave.  When we first moved here we were struggling financially.  We had two house payments as we tried to sell our home where we used to live.  We continued to give to our last church until our pledge was paid but when we started giving here it was below the 10% because we just couldn't make it work, or so we thought.  Some months we did some months we didn't depending on what was going on that month.

Then we started the Extravagant Generosity study.  Somehow, I even ended up leading it a couple of weeks in our Sunday School Class.  It had a book of Daily Readings that went with it and I read it most every day. The last scripture for the last day before the last week was Malachi 3:10.  

                  "Test me in this and see if I don't open up
                  heaven itself to you and pour out blessings
                  beyond your wildest dreams."  
                         ~~ Malachi 3:10, from the Message

My husband and I were just completely taken with this.  Our wildest dreams?  Really?  Right then we decided that we were going to do this and do it right. I typed up this scripture and hung it on our bathroom mirror and on the refrigerator so we could read it everyday. We were going to "Test him" and see if he kept his promise.

My husband was getting ready to retire from the military and we didn't really know what the future held for us as far as a job for him and our financial future but here was God telling us to trust him and if we did he'd make it worth our while so... We jumped in with both feet, no holding on to the sides! 

We have not looked back since.  At least once a month either my husband or myself will read the scripture again and comment on how blessed we have been.  We aren't independently wealthy by any stretch of the mind and since my husband is a contractor for the military, his job is not always the most secure but we are blessed beyond measure and we don't worry that much anymore.  

We have found this scripture to be so true, this promise to have been kept.  It's been amazing and very freeing.  I've often felt that I needed to share this story with others, that maybe if I did, it might help others in their generosity.

The decision to tithe is a hard one.  It's one that people and churches have wrestled with for years and it's not to be taken lightly.  Sometimes it's really hard!  I know it is!  But we have found it worth it.

                  "Test me in this and see if I don't open up
                  heaven itself to you and pour out blessings
                  beyond your wildest dreams."  
                         ~~ Malachi 3:10, from the Message


It's been a busy time in our house.  Holy week was full.  My darling daughter and I were in the Maundy Thursday drama, my husband returned from a 17 day trip, my darling son and his sweet girlfriend came home for Easter.  We had a kids camp at church on Good Friday, family fun day at our home on Saturday, Easter and more family fun on Monday.  It was full, full of good times, family time, church time.

We kept ourselves busy making memories to last a life time, I hope anyway!  I've really been working on living more.  Sometimes, it's too easy for me to get caught up in the pretend world called Facebook or the internet and before I know it I've wasted half a day (or more) so I've really been trying to disconnect so that I can connect with real life, to LIVE.

Funny that this has been something that has been happening, that been growing in me throughout the season of Lent.  It has been a great lesson and what perfect timing to have come to full life during Holy Week.

Saturday, I worked hard on documenting it for us so we could some 'hard copies' or our memories.


The next couple of weeks will be crazy busy here but I plan on living through it.  We have dance recital coming up, basic training, and summer!  It will be full.  Hopefully full of new memories, family time, learning, leaning and growing time too.

Have a wonderful day filled with living.

"... And life is worth the living, just because he lives"

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Writer's block...

This has been me all week, actually for several weeks now.  It's been awful!  I've been working on a sermon for the Sunday after Easter and I have started over several times. I've even made it to the end 3 times!! 

 At first I kept blogging through it hoping that it would help me regroup and focus but... it didn't so this week, I haven't blogged at all.  It's been very ... disturbing.  The scripture is great!  It's rich and yet... nothing.

I think I have finally made a break through.  I think I'm on my way, though I have thought this many times over the past several weeks, but I AM going to work through this.  I have to!

So, please bear with me.  Be patient, I will be back.  You can even say a little prayer for inspiration you feel so inclined.

I'll be back...

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Have you said Thank You?

I always thank God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus.  For in him you have been enriched in every way--in all your speaking and in all your knowledge--

This morning as I was listening to the rain outside my window, I thought how perfect it was for the plants I planted yesterday.  I'm so thankful for this morning's rain.

This thankfulness, reminded me that this morning is a "Thank You" luncheon for some special angels at our church today.  They deliver gift bags to our Octogenarians and a few others in our church and I'm so grateful that they take time out of their busy lives to be there for others to make their day a little brighter.

Have you expressed your thankfulness lately?  Have you told your ministers thank you? What about the musicians? the secretary or administrative assistant?  the youth minister?  The christian education director?  What about the committee chairs and committee members?  The Sunday school teachers and helpers?  Or the behind the scenes people? the janitors, the ushers, the greeters, the sound people or the media people?

There are so many people who make a church run, who put in countless hours bring the ministry of the church to it's members, visitors and the community.  Take a few minutes today to say thank you.  Take a few minutes each day this week and maybe send a card or email expressing your thanks to those who work so hard in the life of the church.  It will delightfully surprise them and make you feel good too!

                                   Give Thanks was written 
                                          by Henry Smith.

                              Give thanks with a grateful heart
                              Give thanks unto the Holy One
                              Give thanks because He's given
                              Jesus Christ, His Son (Repeat)

                              And now let the weak say, "I am strong,"
                              Let the poor say, "I am rich," 
                              Because of what 
                              the Lord has done for us. (Repeat)

                              Give thanks
                              Give thanks (Repeat)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Revival

Spring is finally here.  I’ve been needing a dose of spring.  This winter seemed to be a hard one for me.  Was it for you?

The past several years I’ve been dealing with some depression and spring has always helped with it some but this year? Well, I feel revived!

I don’t enjoy extremes of temperatures anymore.  I do like all four seasons; I love the beautiful snow in winter (for a LITTLE while) and the beach and swimming pools in the summer (until it gets TOO hot) but my favorites are spring and fall.  The temperatures are perfect and here in Kansas, we have a lovely wind that blows across me that seems to just soothe me.  It’s perfect.  

This year spring is bringing on such a revival in my life and I’m loving it.  I’m finding myself wanting to plant, to walk, to play.  To spend time outside with my family and my camera too.  I’m loving listening to the sound of the woodpecker and the other birds.  

I’ve even seen a revival in my little miniature pincher too.  He is precious but getting old.  This winter he’s almost been in hibernation mode.  He sleeps constantly, but now, if he sees my tennis shoes in my hand or even just socks, he is bouncing all around me wanting to go with me where ever I’m going, hoping it’s for a walk.  He seems to be happier too.  He’s funny, he’ll scratch at the door and we’ll open and he just wants to smell the outside.  I’ve discovered, he really just wants the door open, he doesn’t always want out he just wants to sit on the carpet in the doorway and feel the breeze on his face and smell the sweet spring air.

As I was reflecting on this this morning, an old hymn to came my mind.  

Revive us again;
Fill each heart with They love;
May each soul be rekindled
With fire from above.

Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Hallelujah! Amen.
Hallelujah! Thine the glory.
Revive us again.

May we all be revived and rekindled with a fire from above!  Enjoy your spring!

Friday, April 11, 2014

A mother's thoughts...

I’m sitting here in the midst of mixed emotions this morning.  I just realized that in 3 weeks, my baby boy (who’s definitely not a baby anymore) will be leaving for basic training.  I’m so proud of him.  He is an amazing young man who aspires to be there to help people, to make a difference in the world, to follow in his dad’s footsteps.  Yes, I’m proud of him but I’m also feeling sad, sad that I’ve had my last full summer with him.  Sad that during the next 3 weeks we are so busy.  I’m happy though that he is excited to be starting this new journey in his life.  I’m happy that he’ll be back at the end of summer and will then join the ROTC program and I’ll have two more years with him before he starts making his home where the army sends him.

Jeremiah 29:11
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to 
prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I know that God has great things planned for my son’s future and it does comfort me.  I can’t wait to see all that the future holds for him and his family someday.

Proverbs 22:6
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they 
are old they will not turn from it.

That comforts me as well.  He’s a good kid and has a good heart.  He’ll be a great officer and a great husband and father someday.  I know that he was raised well and it will always be with him.  

Oh, I just love this kid and I’m gonna miss him this summer!  Son, DO GREAT THINGS!!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rest here

Are you a yes person?  Do you just automatically say yes when people ask you for something whether it be time, money, help?  Do you just keep finding more and more to do, so that eventually nothing is getting done? Or at least not getting done well?

This is where I am finding myself these days.  The last couple of weeks have been full.  This morning, as I was reading for my Bible study, I read a verse that just jumped off the page.  It seemed to be highlighted, and flashing in neon lights.

Hebrews 4:10-11
For anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works 
just as God did from his.  Let us, therefore, make every effort 
to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their 
example of disobedience.

As I read this I thought, “Oh, look, I’ve been given permission to rest, to say no, to say not today.”  It let me breathe for a moment.

I looked up some commentary on it and I realize that this verse is talking more about a final rest but at the moment I read it, God said to me, “Rest, Sherri.  It’s ok.  Don’t take on so much.”

As I started out on my Lay Servant journey, I said that I wanted to do more. Well, I think I need a little bit more of a concise plan there.  

Oh, I’m doing more, I’m leading a Sunday School class, I’m in the Maundy Thursday drama, I’m chair of a committee (and said committee is having a luncheon this Sunday of which as the chair I am in charge of), I serve on two other committees,  (as I’m typing this it suddenly occurs to me that committee work may not be where I am needed or called to be), I provide pulpit fill which requires sermon writing which requires study and quiet time and writing time and so forth, I’m in the midst of an in depth Bible study, I’m a wife and homeschooling mom and I’m supposed to be caring for our home by cooking and cleaning too, I’m a friend who wants to be there for my friends AND I’ve got this lovely blog where I’m wanting to write and share. 

Yes, as I read the verses above from Hebrews, I heard God saying, “Even I rested, Sherri.  You don’t have to do it all in one week, you don’t have to do it ALL.”

I’m feeling the need to really sit down and rest.  To take time to listen to hear.  This week, I’ve been finding myself quiet one moment and then the next feeling so overwhelmed that I overreact or internalize and that ‘self-talk’ thing I’ve mentioned before gets the best of me and leads me back to the overreacting. 

I’ve noticed that my peace has been slowly ebbing away. Usually, I connect this to neglecting my spiritual life, not reading my Bible as much or not praying like I should, but this time I think it’s more of an issue of neglecting to rest, of feeling like I have to do it all and I have to do it alone.  Feeling like I don’t have time to just sit and rest, to go for a walk with my sweet daughter or to even sit down and watch a TV show or movie.  I don’t know when we last turned on the TV.  Friday?

So, yes, I think it is time to rest and reevaluate what I’m doing and see if I’m doing things that aren’t really where God wants me but is just me wanting to do more.  

I realize that I don’t just want to DO more, I want to do what I can do effectively to make a difference for Christ.  I want to find where God is specifically calling me and let others do the other things.  Those other things are worthy too, they just may be there for someone else to do, and that is something I need to realize.  

Monday, April 7, 2014

Shaping the Future

Working with youth is a huge responsibility.  It really is and it takes a special someone to do it.  It's not all fun and games, it's not just you talking and them listening, it's not just you trying to get your point across.  ("You" being any person working with youth, myself included.)

Young people have a mind of their own.  They have thoughts and ideas that are being developed.  They are finding their way and we can try to gently guide them but it is a rocky road.  You can't be too pushy, you can't tell them they HAVE to think this way or they CAN'T think that way.  You can have discussions and you can ask questions but you have to let them find their way. Sometimes, they may never agree with you and that's okay.

Youth are naturally rebellious.  They are growing into the adult they are going to become.  They are wanting to be that adult way too soon. They WANT to figure things out on their own.  They want to feel like what they say and think matters to those around them, even if you disagree with them give them some credit, give them some respect. They need it.

We have the opportunity when working with youth to make a difference in the future of our world.  Right now, we have a lot people fighting over their opinions showing little respect to each other, seldom giving people with different opinions from theirs any respect.  There are so many out there right now who are passionate about their opinions, and that is good, but not to the detriment of others.  By this I mean, it's all a matter of opinion and no one opinion is right or wrong. This is something we need to be showing and teaching our youth.  We need to show that you can share your opinions and disagree without making anyone feel bad.  We have the opportunity to teach kids, youth that we need to respect one another's opinions.

The responsibility that comes with working with youth is great.  I haven't mentioned that it means you are a role model ALL the time.  They watch your every move.  That doesn't mean you can't make mistakes, it just means that you need to be able to own up to them, to talk about them and be willing to be real with them.

The old proverb says to bring up your children right and it will stay with them when they are old (Sherri's translation. :).  As a person who works with youth, you play a huge part in this.  Are you really watching how you behave around them?  Are you noticing what is working and what isn't?  Are you noticing when the group is starting to gang up on one youth who has a different opinion? Are you making sure that you aren't helping that to happen? Are you really looking at and seeing the youth in your care?  Or are you pushing your agenda no matter the cost?  Sometimes, no, all the time, the Youth is more important than the lesson.  Showing respect is teaching respect, being open minded teaches open mindedness, showing love teaches love.

We'd be good to be doing this all the time where ever we are, with whom ever we are with.  Working with youth is an opportunity to shape the future of our world.  And we need to take it seriously.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Pushing Buttons and a Change of Heart

Do you have someone in your life that just pushes all your buttons?  Someone that just sends you over the edge with just a glance?  

I've been in a few situations lately where I've seen this happen with other people and also with myself. 

When it happens with me, I feel terrible!  Why do I feel this way?  Why are these people able to do this to me?

As I watch it in other people my questions are a little different.  Why do you feel this way?  Why do you let these people do this to you?

Interesting.  When it's me, it's people doing something to me, but when it's others, it's them letting something get to them.  It's interesting, and honestly, the second is the way I should be thinking for myself.  People can only get under my skin if I let them.

There are people out that love to push people's buttons.  They love to make people less than they are.  Oh, maybe that's not fair, maybe they don't even realize they are doing it.  Sometimes, maybe it's in us!

Maybe those people we think are pushing our buttons or those people we think are against us, really aren't.  What if we just see it that way.  What if we are only looking at the surface?  What if God sent them our way to challenge us, to push us, to test us.  What if they are there pushing buttons to prepare us?  What if they are there to help us but we refuse to see it because we are over sensitive or defensive?

In my case, some people pushing my buttons could just be preparing me for my journey in ministry.  Preparing me for trials, for dissension.  Preparing me for the ugliness that is out there that I like to shelter myself from, kind of toughening up my skin.

1 Corinthians 4:12b-13a
           When we are cursed, we bless;
           when we are persecuted, we endure it; 
           when we are slandered we answer kindly."

Perhaps it's a test to see where my heart is.  Is my heart with Christ?  Is if full of love?  Or is it full of resentment, anger, and/or hate?

Several weeks ago I preached on Matthew 5:44 

                "But I say to you, Love your enemies
             and pray for those who persecute you..."  

Now, I realize that those who push my buttons are not necessarily persecuting me but I feel like this still applies.  I need to love them, to pray for them, I need to pray for me. 

So recently, I found myself praying, "Change my heart, O God.  Help me to love these people as you do, help me to see them with your eyes, help me to hear them with your ears, help me to love them with your heart."

I feel like this should be my prayer everyday for everyone I meet whether they push my buttons or not.  It's hard.  Sometimes we meet people whose personalities clash with ours.  We are always bound to meet someone who for no good reason, we just don't like.  We are all so different and are all in different places in our lives and sometimes we are so alike that it drives us crazy!  This is when we need to pray, to pray the one above or something similar.  We need God to help us be more like him, to offer that unconditional love that he offers to each of us.  It's not easy.  He never said it would be but through him we can do it.

             Change my heart, O God.  
             Help me to love these people as you do, 
             help me to see them with your eyes, 
             help me to hear them with your ears, 
             help me to love them with your heart.  

Thursday, April 3, 2014


The last couple of weeks for throwback thursday on my Facebook page, I have been sharing posts from my old blog.  It's been fun!  It's been making me feel rather nostalgic.  I started the blog just before my husband's second deployment and just before we started homeschooling.  It's been fun to go back and remember what life was like then. Here's today's link.

My darling daughter, who at the time I started the blog was in first grade, has been reading it today.  She went back to the very first entry.  She's laughed and reminisced.  It's been fun to look back.  So many things that we had kind of forgotten or at least not thought about in a long time. Some bring back smiles and others tears.  It's been good.

I've also been working on my next sermon.  It's been a little difficult getting started but now I'm almost finished!  Well, there will be lots of tweaking and such but the bulk is almost done.

I have a new blog post in my head waiting to get out but I have to get this sermon done first.  Be patient with me!  I'll be back.  :)