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Archive for January, 2006

Hollister or Bust

I’m in the great city of Hollister, MO, for a few days.  Hollister is just south of Branson and I’m actually on the campus of College of the Ozarks for a clergy leadership conference.  We are in session pretty much all day – 8 am to 9 pm – with breaks for meals and a few short breaks here and there.  It is long but very good.  Right now I’m in the computer lab with a bunch of college students who are busy with papers and such.  How glad I am not to be them!!!

Tonight’s session was wonderful and so inspiring.  When I was here in October, I was really struggling with life and ministry and balancing it all.  I’m stronger now and have healed from some things and so it is interesting to come back to this place and these individuals and remember those feelings when I was here last.  It is a reminder of how much life changes in a short period of time but it only seems short  on the backside, not the frontside.  Perspective . . .  it makes such a difference in life.

Much of our conversation here is exciting and affirming for me in my call to the ministry.  It affirms my calling and my passion for ministry.  Getting away from life to remember and renew these things is important – for everyone.  Whether renewing a love for a careeer or a love for a spouse or whatever.  Sometimes we need to step out from life to really appreciate where we are at and what we have and to gain wisdom on where we want to go next.

I was blessed today from some readings in John 14, 15 and 16 as I reflected on the Friend that came to be with us after Jesus ascended to Heaven.  Our Friend, the Spirit of Truth – the Holy Spirit – who was sent to be with us, to assure us that we are not orphaned, to make plain to us and remind us what God has said, to expose to all the sin of our lives . .  the Advocate, our Friend who will always be with us.   What encouraging words to read …  we are not alone.  We have the living Spirit of Christ with us in this world.  The Holy Spirit is the living presence of Christ in the world.  And the Spirit invites us to be a part of that presence as well.  What a humbling and amazing dance to be invited to. In the midst of life, we things overwhelm and when we feel alone, it is good to remember John 14 – we are not alone.  Our great Friend will also be with us and will guide us in the ways of God. How thankful I am for that promise.

Tonight in our session, one of the questions that was asked of us was "Where did we see God this past week?"  For me, I saw God . . .

… in my living room on Monday night with a friend who needs God’s peace to reappear in her life.
… in my basement on Tuesday night with the youth gathered for c-group.
… on Thursday afternoon as I chased my nephew around the mall. 🙂
… on Thursday afternoon as I listened to one of my youth share about her journey of faith;
… on Thursday night with CG friends playing games together, getting to know one another and simply enjoying each other company.
… on Friday night as I was raking leaves in the dark and praying through with God some things in my life I just don’t understand … but in the end, being reassured that God heard me and will do what is best for me.
… on Saturday morning as we celebrated the upcoming arrival of a new life and a new hope for my friends, Cari and Mike.
… on Saturday night as CG members worshipped together at MOSAIC, shared reflections on our common failures to trust God, and enjoyed some friendship time.
… on Sunday morning sitting with a row of CG family that have found their way to FBC.
… on Sunday afternoon as I played with my handsome nephew, Blake, and enjoyed time with my beloved family.

I see God in relationships.  You see – Love is at the heart of relationships.  And God is love.   And I learned in Algebra in 9th grade that if A + B = C, then . . .   (yes!  Finally – Algebra comes in handy…. 🙂 

Peace and LOVE to each of you –
Melissa

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Packing it all in

This week has been one of those weeks where I have to work hard to pack it all in!  It truly has been non-stop both at work and outside of work (which in most ways was work related.)   I’m looking forward to slowing down Sunday afternoon and evening.  It has been a good week with some great steps forward in several areas.

Thursday night was our CG monthly hangout night and we had some new or less-seen faces show up for a fun night of games and conversation.  Some of us stayed until 12:30 am playing games and talking.  It is so wonderful to see relationships growing among people in our group and new faces coming in.  It is slow and intentional work to build these kinds of friendships but it is so important and something that is an extension of God. God has taught me so much in recent years about the importance of community.   Tonight was Mosaic  – our worship gathering and it was another good evening of worship together and some continued fellowship.  We’ve been using a video series titled "Nooma" and the messages shared by the pastor, Rob Bell, are so rich and challenging.  Tonight was  a great lesson on how we struggle to really trust that God knows best for us.  We get frustrated, even angry when God fails to give us something we think we need or really want – just like when our parents didn’t get us that one toy we wanted when we were younger.  Sometimes they said "no" because they knew something we didn’t know – that we didn’t need it or that it would make things worse for us or simply because they had a different plan.  God has that same perspective but we forget to trust or refuse to.  And Rob Bell weaves it to a key point – the question really is "Do we believe that God is good?  Always?"  Until we answer that question, we can’t really move forward.  Because if we believe that God is always good, then why wouldn’t we trust Him with our lives?  our futures?   We had some great discussion related to this.  It was especially a good topic for single adults who sometimes question why they are still single.  Living life frustrated and questioning why somethign has or hasn’t happened in your life is not living with faith that God is good and will keep His promise.  So . . it isn’t any eaiser but it was a good reminder that God truly has our best interest at heart and will fulfill the promise of Jeremiah 29:11-14 (MSG):

God says, "I know what I’m doing.  I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.  When you call on me, when you come and pray to me, I’ll listen.  When you come looking for me, you’ll find me.  Yes, when you get serious about finding me and want it more than anything else, I’ll make sure you won’t be disappointed."

Tonight is the high school’s winter sports dance and the theme is the 80s.  So this afternoon I helped a couple of my freshmen boys put together some awesome 80s outfits from clothing at the Goodwill store.  It was a walk down memory lane thinking about the fashion styles.  I kept thinking of the guys I liked in my high school years and what they wore.  We ended up finding them some nice white-washed jeans that tapered in the leg; pasteled collared polo shirts and pasteled sweaters that they could wear and then tie around their shoulders.  So 80s…  what fun!  We had absolutely no style back then. 

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Tuesday Fun

Tuesday nights are fun at my house.  I love my youth!  I got home from the Y around 6:45 and one was waiting.  Then by 7 (mind you, c-groups start at 7:30 pm), I had three guys in the kitchen and we were having a grand time doing absolutely nothing.  I was making puppy chow which makes them happy and I had the teapot on the stove for the hot water for their hot chocolate.  Before long the kettle was making its train-whistle noise which started all of us making music with whatever we could find in the kitchen.  Our very own "kitchen stomp".  So fun.  Preston – you would have been proud.  🙂  They are great kids and we had a great turn-out tonight – probably 16 or 17 youth.  Plus one youth had here "Baby think it over" baby from her class at school and man – it has some lungs. It was funny to hear the youth talk about how much the baby ate, how long it cried, how it always wants something, etc.  I think "Baby think it over" really lives up to its name.

The New Year’s YMCA crew hasn’t died down yet.  Usually January is very, very busy with those folks who resolve to make the year a healthier year.  And by February the numbers drop back a bit.  But last night and tonight it was very, very busy.  I wish them all well but sometimes it is a little crazy to find free equipment to work out on.

That’s it for tonight.  May you allow your day to be guided by God as you open yourself up through prayer to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Peace –  Melissa

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Relaxing Sundays

I enjoy have Sunday nights free in January.  No church responsibilities are a welcomed break.

I preached this morning and the Lord was gracious once again in using me share the Word. It was a good self-reminder message on the beauty of faith and the wonderful mystery of God. I struggle with appreciating the mystery of God and the unknown faith journey ahead.  It was helpful to share that this morning as I sought to encourage those present to look for "where God just was" in their lives to bolster their faith.

After Winter Bible Study, I played basketball with some CG folks.  That is such a great workout.  I’ve just started playing basketball this past year and really enjoy it.  However, I get frustrated when I have days like today when I can’t seem to make a shot or learn plays fast enough.  I’d really like to just have some one on one coaching to develop some skills so I can hold my own in our games.  Playing volleyball every week has improved my skills in that area. I’m hoping the weekly basketball game will do the same.

It was a very quiet and relaxing evening tonight. Honestly – I was in my flannel pjs by 4 pm!!  I watched some tv (football games weren’t much) and did some reading.  All in all, a great way to wind down and prepare for the week ahead.  The quiet space is very good for me.

Much love to each of you that drop by the site to read my self-focused ramblings!

Peace – Melissa

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It’s a Beautiful Day!

Today was a perfect day! 69 degrees on January 19.  Man – what a wonderful gift.  This has been the best winter. I just really hate the cold or feeling trapped inside.  It makes me depressed.  So days like today boost my spirits in major ways.  I spent the afternoon outdoors playing Frisbee golf which is very fun.  I bought some frisbee discs to try and they do make a difference.  However, I need to adjust my throw to the new style of frisbees.  So today I spent a good deal of timing hiking through the woods and the creeks retreiving frisbees.  But I loved every moment of it. I’ve always loved hiking and the outdoors so I didn’t mind a bit.

I spent a good deal of time with family as well today which was very nice.  It had been awhile.  Blake is such a doll.  He and mom are both feeling better so thanks for your prayers.  They have a little more mending to do in order to claim full recovery.  Blake was lots of fun and we are getting to some real fun playing age.  I love to make him giggle.  That is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world. 

Tonight was CG volleyball and it was an awesome game.  We are really playing well after continuing to play every week since October. It has been major fun and I hope it continues.  It is something most of us look forward to each week.

Tomorrow I should finalize my sermon for this Sunday.  I’m preaching "Where God Just Was" on the Exodus 33:12-23 passage.  Please pray for me as I wrap it up and prepare to proclaim God’s Word this Sunday. 

Time to hit the sack!  Peace to each of you –

Melissa

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Go Tigers!

Images_1 Unbelievable game tonight between Mizzou and Kansas!  I hope you got to watch it at least.  I really, really wanted to be there tonight but the tickets were $40.  But after seeing the game, it totally would have been worth the price.  Mizzou winning in OT.  A nail-biting end in regulation.  Gardner had a great game and the Tigers have definitely turned this season around from the pre-season predictions.  Which makes me and other fans of the good ol’ days happy once again.  There was a little nostalgia hearing the name "Rush" called out in the Mizzou arena.  Karem’s little brother, however, is playing for Kansas so its not quite the same. 

I’ve been dragging all day today with my 5 hrs of sleep last night.  I was home 8 – 12 waiting on the Sears guy to come fix my water softener.  He got here about 11 and an hour later, he left with almost $300 of my hard-earned money and I having a working softner once again.  It is days like these that make me question home ownership.  It sometimes seems like something pricey every month. 

Time to go to bed.  I missed a few minutes of the first half tonight because I dozed off.  That didn’t happen second half at all but I’m feeling it now. 

Peace –
Melissa

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Sunday PostGame Wrap-up

Today was a packed Sunday.  This morning I drove to Montgomery City to preach.  I enjoy going to new areas of Missouri that I have not been before and I enjoy meeting new folks.  It was a nice morning and they were a very hospitable congregation.  The preaching went well and each time is a good experience for me to grow as a preacher. 

I made it back in time for our basketball game which was some great exercise as usual.  The guys keep me running which is good.  I had a few friends over tonight and the last one just left a few minutes ago which is why this is a late, late post!  But it was great to visit and have a hang out night with a few friends.  We played the game Quip which Kailey got me for Christmas.  It was a total blast.  You need to play it with creative people like those present in my basement tonight.  Way fun and much laughter.

I’m heading to bed.  The Sears repair guy is coming early in the morning to fix my water softener . . .actually he may be here in about 6 hours so . . . good night!

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