Thursday, August 27, 2015

#WilliamstownTough


Welcome to Lewis Co, Missouri!
We heard recently that there's a new phrase being said in neighboring towns about our sweet community: Williamstown Tough.

It's typically spoken, referring to the many old-enough-to-retire farmers who are still farming.  They refuse to sell the farm and move to greener, err...work-free pastures.  They are Williamstown tough!

It is true.  James excels at nursing home minsitry and not long after we moved here, he commented on the lack of men in the nursing home.  There simply aren't many of them residing there.  Why? Because they all die on the tractor, then their sweet wife will sell the farm and move into assisted living or whatnot.  They are Williamstown tough!

But it's not just the men.  Ladies, too!  Aunt Maxine, at age 95, still lives at home alone and don't you dare mention the nursing home.  Mrs. Mable, at age 83, just now stopped mowing her own yard.  Mary Ann, age 70, helps her husband Jim, age 74, work the farm every single day: feeding cows, driving tractors, bailing hay, whatever needs to be done.
Hudson feeding a bucket calf with Mary Ann



Norman has suffered with chronic back pain for years.  Doctors basically refused to do surgery due to his age and have had him on an ever-increasing dose of pain meds.  Just less than a month ago, he finally talked his doctor into doing surgery.  Guess what they found when they opened him up?  He had a broken back!  He had been walking around, farming no less, with a broken back for years!  A broken back people!  He is Williamstown tough!

But this toughness does not stop with work ethic and physicality.  It also has spiritual implications.  We're learning that agrarian cultures are very independent and often agnostic.  You'd think working with nature would be led to an understanding of God.  But the truth has been exchanged for a lie and so many of our neighbors are simply not interested in hearing about Jesus or his church.  They are do-it-yourself people who honestly feel they can earn their way to heaven with their ethics.  It is heartbreaking.


Looking down State Hwy E in Williamstown - all abandoned buildings


Corn, corn everywhere


Providence Baptist Church


We have decent numbers at our church.  We average around 30 for Sunday School and 40 for church, which is impressive in a community of less than 100 people.  But there are so many here that don't know Jesus and don't care.  Perhaps because it is a small town and we've had the chance to meet every single person, multiple times, in our almost 3 years - our heart breaks for our neighbors who are lost and dying.  We know and love these people.

Pray for Williamstown.  Pray for our community - that they will not be so "tough" but be humble enough to admit their need for a Savior.  Pray for us as we minister to them, that we will point them to the Creator of all things, the One True God who is not impressed with their toughness
but desires their faith and trust. 


Thankful for this reminder of God's promise!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Serve in Your Church Nursery

This has been on my mind lately.
I have hesitated writing this post because I fear it will come off as preachy.  But maybe it needs to be said.

Brothers and sisters - serve in your church nursery.

We are a small church.  Other than us, there are only two other families with small children.  I and two other ladies rotate nursery service on Sunday mornings.  It works well for us for the most part.

Recently, we were at another church for a function.  Hudson is glaringly three: energetic, fun, sweet, sassy, fiercely independent, annoyingly vocal, and generally all around exhausting.  We had traveled to get to this church function, which is never a good idea with a three year old.  It had been a long day.  Hudson did well during the worship through song, because he loves singing.  My three-year-old knows all the words to Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.  No joke.  It's his favorite.  Anyway, when the preaching started, Hudson started as well:  standing up, sitting down, "Why are you shushing me, Mama?", and so on.  I had never been in this church before so I had no clue where the nursery was.  I entered the lobby to entertain Hudson and after a few minutes a sweet older lady came to me and asked if Hudson would like to go to the nursery.  Sure!  She walked us to the nursery, turned on the lights, and left.  My heart deflated.  Now, I know her question wasn't a volunteer to take him to the nursery, but I had been hopeful.  Hopeful she'd offer to stay with him.  Hopeful she'd offer to stay with me!  In the end there I was, in the nursery, playing grocery store for the duration of the service.

Now, I know her lack of helping in the nursery likely wasn't intentional.  She just wasn't thinking.  And that's a problem - we don't think of others.

I love my son, as all mamas do.  But you know what? Mamas who love Jesus sometimes need to hear that Jesus loves them from someone other than the Bible CD playing in the church nursery.

That said, I encourage you to serve in your church's nursery.  Befriend the Mama with the kids.  Even if she doesn't want to leave her kids with you in the nursery, offer to stay with her.


See this face?  The cuteness saves him most days.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Hoosier State, Here We Come!

Sunday we will load up our church van and head to Fort Wayne, Indiana for a week-long mission trip.  I'm super excited and surprisingly anxious as well.



We'll be meeting with two sister churches to join forces in conducting VBSs, canvassing neighborhoods, completing construction needs, and assisting a new church plant in the area.  For all but one of our youth, this will be their first out-of-Missouri mission trip.  So exciting!

Pray for our kiddos:  Alyssa, Brooklyn, Jacey, Kenneth, and Zane.  Pray for:

  • Physical Safety and Energy
  • Good Attitudes and Cooperative Spirits
  • Spiritual Growth - B and Z are not believers, so pray specifically for the Lord to draw them to Him.

Pray for me as I'll be leading them solo.  Pray for:

  • Safe travels as I drive our church van.
  • Physical safety and energy.
  • Patience with the youth
  • Spiritual Growth
  • Trust in the Lord - James is staying home to care for Hudson (he's just too little to go) and to minister at our local county fair that's the same week.  While in my head I know James is a good daddy, I'm finding my heart anxious over leaving Hudson.  I know it's a control issue, but it's making me stress out.
Pray for James.  Pray for:
  • Patience and energy in parenting Hudson solo that week. Pray that it will be a sweet time of memories made together.
  • Energy as he works in the Baptist Hospitality House at the county fair.
  • Opportunities to share the gospel while fair employees and guests.

Pray for Hudson.  Pray for:
  • No separation anxiety from me.
  • Obedience to James.

Pray for the churches in Fort Wayne, IN.  Pray for:
  • Receptive hearts to receive the blessing of our service.
  • Patience with us as I'm sure we'll be in mission-trip mode.
  • Encouragement - that our presence will be an encouragement to them as they minister in their community.

Thank you, friends for your prayer support. I look forward to letting you know in about 10 days, how the Lord chose to answer our prayers.



Saturday, June 6, 2015

Ministry Update - Spring 2015

Ah, spring!  Back when I lived in the south and winter was just maybe one snow day a year, I said winter was my favorite season.  Now after 2 years in the midwest, spring has taken top spot in my heart.  After a long, cold, snowy season everything seems to burst to life - trees, flowers, grass.  Birds are singing, bees are buzzing, farmers are plowing and planting - it's fabulous and I love it!

March
The big event for March was the associational On Mission Celebration.  We had missionaries coming and staying with all the churches of our area and we joined together to have services the full weekend - Saturday, two on Sunday and Monday.  For James and I, having missions degrees, it was amazing to be around like-minded people.  It definitely helped re-encourage us in our ministry and desire for the nations.




April
Good Friday, April 4th I took our youth and two tag-a-longs (the girlfriend and girlfriend's sister of our boy youth) to the Matthew West concert.  Such a fun time!



Easter Sunday was a bit chilly and windy, but a lovely day to celebrate our Lord's resurrection.

The evening of April 12th, we had a Southern Gospel concert at church.  The New Life Singers came and led in worship for about an hour.  Then we ate ice cream afterwards.  We had a great turnout, close to 70!  Our local nursing home brought a van full of patients to attend and several from sister churches who don't have evening services joined as well.  Fun was had by all.


May
May 7th, I had the privilege of leading in prayer at our local National Day of Prayer service at the courthouse.  I was asked to focus my prayer on the lost.  There were 75 in attendance which was such a blessing to see and each prayer was so worshipful and honoring to our Lord Jesus.





May 10th we recognized all women in general for Mother's Day.  We also recognized our one high school graduate.  She is headed to the western end of the state to study nursing.  We're very proud of her.

May 17th was James' and my 7th wedding anniversary - crazy!  We also celebrated with sweet L as she was obedient in believer's baptism.  She prayed to commit her life to Christ three weeks earlier in Sunday School.

The evening of May 31st, we showed the Franklin Graham movie Louie Zamperini: Captured by Grace.  If you've read the book or watched the movie Unbroken you know about Louie's life has an Olympic track star, WWII veteran, and POW survivor.  But the Franklin Graham movie tells the story in Louie's own words of how the Lord stepped in to rescue him from alcoholism, anger, and despair after he returned home from war.  If you'd like to watch it, it's also available online here.

We have a super busy summer coming up: Camp (just finished this past week), VBS, Mission Trip, Faith Day at the St. Louis Cardinals, State Fair Evangelism, and continued outreach and ministry in our community.

Praises

* Remember last update, when I asked you all to pray specifically for 2 families to join our church? We've had no less than four separate couples begin attending pretty faithfully.  They've not made any professions of faith yet, but we're ministering to them and praying for them.  God is definitely faithful and answers prayers in ways we never imagined!

* Liza's baptism.  James was able to lead several to faith and obedience in baptism back in 2013, but 2014 was a dry year.  Liza's profession of faith and following baptism has been such an encouragement to us in the ministry and obviously, the best thing to ever happen to her! God is good to give the gift of faith!

Prayer Requests

* Those who have newly begun attending with us: The B family, the S family, B & J, and E & R.  Pray that the Lord will continue to pursue them and soften their hearts to the gospel.

* The S family and the L family.  In the past six months, we've had two fellow-pastors in our area to be asked to resign.  Neither has been for theological or sin issues, but personality differences and misunderstandings. This has been hard on me, in particular, as I'm close to both of the wives.  It hurts and tempts you to be angry at the church.  It's been a good reminder that the church is full of wretched people.  Wretched people that Jesus loves and died for, including me!  Pray for healing in these churches and guidance/comfort for these families, especially their young children.

* Camp!  Camp is the first week in June.  I'm leading in Missions and Crafts.  We're taking 7 kids!  Of those seven, three are completely unchurched so I'm excitedly anticipating God doing a good work in their hearts during this week.  Pray for our campers: K, J, K, L, Z, K, and B.

* Mission Trip!  We'll be tagging along with our Kentucky church to Fort Wayne, Indiana for mission trip the first week of July.  Pray for the high schoolers we're taking: K, J, and A.  K, specifically, has mentioned feeling the Lord leading him to being called to missions - so please pray for his heart while on this trip.


Friday, May 29, 2015

Three

Today is Hudson's third birthday!  Three - that was fast.

The day started with his favorite breakfast - bacon with a side of bacon.  He's a serious carnivore.

Then we headed south to pick up his cake (see below) and stopped at Primo's pizza for lunch.  Then it was home for a nap before the evening festivities.

Back in March, he went to his first birthday party for some community kids.  He immediately began requesting his own birthday party so be obliged.  We kept it simple; only inviting the kids from church.



We grilled hot dogs, had chips, and of course cake and ice cream.  I splurged this year and had a cake made locally as decorating is simply not one of my talents.  Hudson has specifically requested a Thomas cake so welcome Brandy's Cakes & Things to the rescue!



Hudson's big gift was his playground.  I've been selling his baby equipment/furniture and so we were able to purchase it pretty much out right with the help of my BFF, though we did use a credit card to get an 11% rebate!  It took forever to build, or at least it seemed so between wind and rain and all around bad weather that made working on it impossible some days.  He loves it and so do I!  I can see it from the kitchen window so he can play while I was dishes (somebody please buy me a dishwasher!).


Hudson had so much fun playing with his friends from church on his playground this afternoon.  We're so thankful to have such a loving church that has truly reached into Hudson's life and made him feel special.  











 No midwestern party would be complete with chickens!  Meet A's 10 baby chicks for her FFA (Future Farmers of America, for you city-folk) project.






Dear Hudson,

I am so happy to be your Mom.  Two has been a great year, even with some behavior challenges. 

You have learned to speak and have an amazing vocabulary.  You have learned to peddle your tricycle and are this close to learning how to swing on your own.  You know all your ABCs, both how to say them and to identify them (even out of order). You know all your colors and shapes. You can count to about 30.  You know your full name, my full name, and your daddy's full name; plus you know the name of the town in which we live. You are learning how to write and doing a decent job at that.  

You are learning a weekly memory verse and seem to have a great gift for memory work.

You're gaining independence.  You can brush your own teeth.  You can take off your own clothing and put on your own clothing, with just a little help.  You can clean up after yourself, usually with little fuss.  

You make our lives so lively and fun.

Your personality has come through even more this year.  You are so friendly and extraverted; so social.  You love to go and are happy in the car, even on longer trips.

You also have your moments when your temper combined with stubborness take over and man, it can be rough.  We're praying that during this next year, Jesus will help you gain some self-control and maturity in those areas.

All in all, you are a joy and we are so thankful for you.  Happy 3rd Birthday!




Saturday, May 9, 2015

Big Boy

Recently, I took Hudson to the lawn of the county courthouse for a photo shoot in the weedy grass.  I was struck by the fact that he looks like a little boy more and more each day, rather than a toddler.  In 20 days he'll be three.  








The days are long, but the years are short.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Heart Problem

Hudson has a heart problem.

It is in his genes and ultimately it will be fatal.

His problem is sin.  His sweet little almost three year old's heart is as black as can be with sin.

One minute he's as sweet as can be; the next he's devilishly disobedient.  It's exhausting.

Now, I've read the many books.  I know to start pointing him to the gospel of Christ when he sins - to encourage repentance and belief.  The books are full of nicely scripted conversations where even small children confess their sin and desire to follow Jesus.

However, these books have never met my Hudson.

Here's the conversation from last night at bedtime:

     Hudson: I don't like spankings and time outs.
     Me: I don't either.
     Hudson: Yeah
     Me: You know, you're in control of that.  You obey and there are no spankings or time out.
     Hudson: I don't like to obey.
     Me: (laughing on the inside) No one really likes to obey.  But Jesus can help you obey.  He'll  
             change your heart so you want to obey.
     Hudson: I don't want Jesus to change my heart. I don't like to obey.
     Me: *sigh*

Gotta love the honesty of a toddler, huh?  He's not even trying to feign the desire to obey, and I think that's a good thing.  No little Pharisee-toddler here, hopefully.

Now, I know he's not yet three so hopefully Jesus will change that little heart of his, to repent of his sin and believe in the perfect substitutionary death of Jesus.  But in the meantime, please join me in praying for my little one's heart and mine - it's causing me to be reflective which is difficult at times.  Only difficult in terms of not liking what I find, of course.  The Lord definitely has a way of using parenthood to teach you about his love for us.



Search me, God, and know my heart.
Test me and know my anxious thoughts.
See if there is any offensive way in me, 
and lead me in the way everlasting.
Psalm 139:23-24