Sunday, April 26, 2015

"spiritual parents"

Today, we were thrilled to join in the celebration of Benny Bowman, and 35 years of ministry. 

But really, I would confidently say we all celebrated 35 years of life-giving impact. 

Benny and Connie Bowman are my spiritual parents. 
As they are for so many. 

But for me....
I can say without hesitation that much of my love for Jesus is because I saw it modeled so purely in them. 

Let's rewind. 
Scott was serving on the Student Ministry team, and they were on a youth retreat in Fort Payne. 
Little did I know, they prayed for him that weekend. They prayed that God would send him the help-meet that his heart desires. 
(This is from our first Youth Retreat as Student Leaders---why they let us be in charge of young people is beyond me ;)

I had no idea that was me. 
I really had no idea that I was "desired" as a partner in ministry. 

What in the world?! 

I had not been home from college long. And I can only imagine that just a few weeks later, when I showed up on the scene, something inside them must've laughed "God....are you serious?!"
But they unknowingly accepted the challenge of mentoring me. 

I was worldly. Oh was I worldly. 

Connie and Benny both loved me with a love that was greater than love. 
(This was them, so I guess we were ok!)

Only that love that God can give. 

They prayed for us when we got engaged. 

They loved us and ministered to us when we lost Elijah. 
I wasn't reachable during those days. 
My heart was shattered beyond repair. 
And they called us into their office --the couch was old and worn but it was so safe--but I can remember that it swallowed me whole just to sit in the safe-place that was their office. 

They told us "this will tear you apart, or this will be the strength of your marriage. You are both grieving. And you grieve differently. But you have to do it together."

I'll never forget them for that. 
I trusted them. I knew they sought Jesus with their whole heart. 

And at a time where I couldn't even see thru my blurry tear-filled eyes to search for Jesus, I trusted them. I knew they were right. And I believed that they were only looking out for the "best us" possible. 

Just months later, we would ask them to do
The unthinkable, and sing at Kendall's funeral. 
They accepted with an honored smile. 
I know, later, after looking back, how hard that was for them. They had loved Kendall from the beginning. 
And they brought the sweet spirit of the Lord into the church that day. 
And I worshiped with them. 

Again, I trusted them. I trusted their strength. 
I knew if they said we could get thru this, then we would. 

I was so thrilled to know that my boys would have that same leadership in their lives. 

But God had other plans. 
When Benny told us that God was calling him to another location, I sobbed. 
Only because I knew what my guys would be missing. 

But. I knew that this too would be ok. 
I trusted them. 

And of course, Chapman is still in those critical years, but Mason has had some amazing youth leaders and experiences.

And then, all of a sudden, Benny was the team Chaplain for his football team. Funny how God gives us our heart's desires.  

I watched as Benny ministered to those boys. He taught them the Word of God. And they trusted Him. They knew he was real. They knew it was not about football to him, but football was the avenue that God was giving him to reach them. 
I loved watching from this perspective. As I loved those boys too. 

Today, was a great day, celebrating Benny Bowman, but what it really was for me, was a reminder of the impact that we have on people. 

Again, as I strive to not waste my days and opportunities that He's given me...I'm thankful for such an excellent role model. 
And I'm thankful that they took me in (they really didn't have a choice) and they parented me, as I learned of the Lord. And they showed me how to find Him, trust Him, and fall in Love with Him. 

Saturday, April 25, 2015

You can go your own way...

I'm a firm believer in this verse. And when God rocks my world with His plan, I ask Him to show me one that my simple little mind can say "oooooh, I get it now. Sorry again! that I tried to go my way" ;) 
And He does. He always does. 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Making much of Jesus in my 40's

I had a moment at Christmas when I realized that while I love buying gifts for others, and finding something that will make their heart smile, I just don't "need" one.single.thing.

God has blessed me so much. And while I truly don't deserve it, I'm so glad He has. 

So as my Big 4.0 drew closer, I decided to make it bigger than me. 
I can't change the world, but I can be a little ray of sunshine in someone's day if I choose. 

So, 40 days before my 40th, I began those little acts of sunshine. 

My kids helped on a few of these and we enjoyed seeking out small ways to bless people. 

I had a moment during the Christmas season when I realized that God has blessed me so much, and while I love giving gifts, and buying for others, and thinking of them. And buying something to make their heart smile...I just don't "need" one.single.thing. 

God has blessed me so much. And I truly don't deserve it, but I'm so glad He has :)

So as my Big 40 grew closer, I wanted to make it bigger than me. 
I can't change the world. But I can be a little ray of sunshine, if I choose. 

So, 40 days before my birthday, I began little fun things to make each day brighter for someone else. Be it directly, or indirectly. 

I loved it. My kids were in on a few of these. What a blessing. 

I'm so thankful to be 40! 

40-We have a new neighbor. So I took a fun little gift for her and her son. 
39-We brought Nana a piece of homemade pound cake. Because we knew she would love it.  

38-I went to Pell City Coffee Company. And before I left, I pre-paid for the next person's coffee. 
37-I left a fun treat on the porch for our Mail Carrier. She's always so great.  

36-I delivered a few homemade crafts to a few teachers. A gift for them. Not their students. 
35-I stopped at a gas station near my house, and put quarters in the newspaper stands. Not a big deal. But I bet the sweet little man appreciated it when he came bright and early to get his paper. 

34-A small donation to St Jude for a little boy raising money. So sweet! I hope he met his goal! 
33-went on a date with #Charming and we left our young waitress a better than expected tip. 

32-Spotted a set of parents --of twins-at target. We left a $20 in the door. "parenting is hard. You're doing a great job!"

31-stopped in for 2 seconds and left a cupcake for a friend :)
30-I had a stash photo paper, so I donated it to a local elementary School teacher. 
29-Spent the day helping a friend pack for an upcoming move 
28-Gave a fun sign to a friend for their "man cave". We really don't need it, but it's a perfect fit for them. 
27-Took a large bag of items to the thrift store 
26-Sent Kara Tippett's book to a friend for her bday. Little did I know her dad would pass away just before she received it. #blessing
25-Mailed a random card to a long-distance friend 
24-Donated some of my clothes to a local women's clothing closet. 
23-I found $5 in my jeans pocket. So I taped it to the pump. It's jut much, but every little bit helps.  

22-I left a fun tip for our hairstylist, and one of her workers gads it to her AFTER we left! 
21-While we were in Walt Disney World, we left change in the pressed penny machines, so the next little pirate or princess can have their choice!  
20-Took dinner to Nana while she's caring for Pop in the hospital. She's been wanting to try Chicken salad Chick. So I picked it up for her!  
19-Another large donation of items to the thrift store
18-Delivered "dinner in a jar" for a sweet friend about to have a new baby girl!  

17- Asked my boys to cut the grass of a Single-Mom neighbor. They did it while she was at work. 
16-Called to check on a friend. Real life talk. Not text. Not social media.  
15 As a family, we volunteered at the Open Hands Overflowing Hearts 5k. 

14 A dear friend called, needing a friend. So I put all distractions away and we counseled. 
13 Helped friend get her house ready for a party 
12--Listed eBay items for friends to make some quick cash. 
11-Put $1 in the Coke machine at the hospital for the next person. 

10-as we were passing by the veteran's home, we noticed an elderly man crossing the street. We called the home, and they got him back safely.  
9-called 911 for a man on the side of the road. I didn't feel comfortable stopping but I did call for help. 
8-mailed a fun prize to a friend graduating from college soon!
7-let my mom borrow my silhouette. And she's been making fun gifts for friends like crazy. 
6 prayed for, and encouraged a friend while their child was in the hospital. 
5- invited a friend to church with us. And they came. So glad. 
4- cleaned out some scrapbook items and gave them to a friend. 
3-helped an older lady get her groceries from her cart, to the conveyor belt. I didn't want to offend her, but when I offered, she gladly accepted assistance. 
2--paid the tab for the car behind me at Chick-fil-A
1-sent my mom flowers, thanking her for my 40 years :)

I hesitated about posting, for fear it would be viewed as a brag. 
But God knows my heart. 

It was a challenge to get outside of myself. Daily. And deliberately think of others. 

But I'm so glad I did. 
40 is off to a great start. I pray I can make much of Jesus in the next 40! 

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Why I "check in" at church?

A while ago, someone asked on facebook "why do people "checkin" at church?

I don't remember who it was, but everytime I do, I keep thinking "I need to do a blogpost about this".

Here's why:

1. Because I am so thankful to be here.
I am thankful that I am able.
I am thankful to be with my family.
And I am thankful that I made it.  (meaning...we made an effort to put other things aside, and go to church!)

2. Because I can!
It's my wall (or twitter feed) and I can check in where I want to :)
I mean, I check-in at the coffee shop, and at dinner, why in the world wouldn't I want to "brag" about going to church! Holla! #CheckIn #ImHere #ComeSitWithMe 

3. But mostly, because I should.
"Share the news of Jesus"
"do not be silent"
"go forth, and tell others"
and I can go on and on!

4. So my friends can sit with me :)
It's nice when someone says "Hey, y'all go to Church of the Highlands?"
"Yes! We do!"
"We are thinking of trying it out? When do y'all go?"

And then the convo goes from there. It's much less intimidating to go to church for the first time, if you already have friends there!

Yes! We do! Come sit with us!
It makes a big church---become a small church!

So, I challenge you....dear reader! Don't keep your church-going to yourself! Check-in! Share the good news! Invite a friend! I mean...they just might take you up on it! 
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