Thursday, January 5, 2017

Focus on Jesus

About 5 years ago, I wrote a post on Focus (go read it). I was in the middle of a battle with cancer and it was really hard but through the hard, God really taught me and my family many things. This little lesson about focus was one of the greatest things that He taught me.  

Life is hard, the world we live in is messy. People are sinners, which means that my friends, neighbors, family and kids are sinners. I am a sinner. We make mistakes and we don't always do things the right way.  We don't always love the way we should. But......

When we keep our eyes on Jesus, the forgiver of our sins, the Savior of this world, then it makes the sins of this world a little easier to forgive and move forward.

When I mess up, it is so easy for me to focus on the dirty and dwell in it.  As soon as I do, it allows all sorts of doubts, fears, and past failures or mistakes to creep back in.  It cripples me, it makes me question every decision, it causes me to stop moving forward.  

When other people mess up, it is also easy to jump into judgement and gossip which then causes failure, fear, and hurt for the other person and for me.  

but......

When we fix our eyes on Jesus and choose to see the way He does, amazing things start to happen.  The messy still hurts, but we learn from it, we grow from it.  We LOVE other people understanding that their messy is no different than ours.  We learn to forgive ourselves and to let the past be the past.  We see the good and the positive lessons that are learned from our mistakes. We listen and we share. We grow in our relationship with Christ and the others around us.  


This last year, I stepped into a new ministry that God is giving me the Vision for, Grace Like Rain.  It has been amazing and incredible to watch it grow.  The staff, volunteers, and families that I have met over the last year have taught me so many things.  but.......

It has also been hard! When something doesn't go exactly the way we would like then I begin to allow the fear to creep in.  I start doubting everything! As soon as I start going down this path, I ask for prayer which helps me to refocus my eyes on Jesus! I reach out to my people! We have to share the ugly sometimes to learn from it and to move forward. That is what His people are here for, His community, His family, His church. We are not meant to do this life alone.

I remind myself that things are going to be hard, we are going to fail and make mistakes especially by the worlds standards but no matter what, if I am focusing on Him and loving others the way He commands us to, then He is in control.  Love never fails!  


1 Corinthians 13English Standard Version (ESV)

The Way of Love

13 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned,[a] but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[b] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
13 So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
Choose to focus on Jesus! Choose to see the good in others and yourself.  Choose to Love unconditionally!  It may not make life less messy but it is definitely lot more joyful when you do. 



Saturday, September 17, 2016

Seeing Joy in the Midst of Hard

Pretty much everything makes me want to cry right now but especially the things that help me find the JOY!  These are just a few of the things that have brought tears to my eyes in the last 24 hours:

Young kids from our community not only playing with but EMBRACING the 3 extra littles in our home!  I have watched them struggle to make friends and listened to them voice their fears and concerns but last night we met with many many families in the neighborhood while the adults played volleyball and the hundreds of kids ran around and played!  I look up and see our sweet little 9 year old girl interacting and playing with another child.  She was SMILING and relaxed!  Tears of JOY.....

Neighbors willing to step in at the drop of a hat when we need help.  Tears of JOY......

Family members willing to LOVE my kids extra and willing to bring meals, run errands, etc... Tears of JOY.....

Schools and administrators willing to LOVE and EMBRACE 3 new kids and all their extra junk.  Willing to go the extra mile and not make me feel that they are unwanted.  They are willing to believe in them and give them extra TLC.  Tears of Joy.....

Little girl asking to pray at night....saying her normal prayer of "Now I lay me down to sleep...." and then asking to pray like me.  Then praying on her own for our entire family and hers.  Even to the extent of praying for Josh and his job so that he can continue to provide a roof over her head.  Seeing compassion in this sweet girl in the midst of some very difficult stuff.  Tears of JOY......

Watching my husband love these kids and me.  Tears of JOY......

Watching my kids, each and every one of them, step up, be responsible and try to teach through their actions, words and behaviors! Tears of JOY......

And thank you God for the gorgeous moon last night and the views that it created!  It was truly a gift to witness!

I am a firm believer that God placed us here in this exact community and town for such a time as this!  

Friday, September 16, 2016

I am SOMEBODY

When I was a camp director, we used this example as a training exercise: If you are walking along and see a piece of trash laying on the ground and you continue to walk by it and say,"Someone should pick that up!"  YOU should then say, " I am SOMEBODY!"

Today this is ringing true to me!  We are in the middle of a tough tough hosting situation!  We have 3 beautiful kids in our home that have been through way more than any 6, 9, and 12 year old should ever have to go through.  They are sweet, kind, and loving but they are also irritable, angry, hyper, and hurting.  Subtract all of their emotional levels by 3 years or more but keep these kids in their physical ages and bodies.  A 9 year old that lashes out like a 5 or 6 year old.  It's hard and heartbreaking at the same time.

All 3 of these beautiful children are HIS creations!  He LOVES them therefore we LOVE them!  We want them to get the help they need, we want them to feel safe, we want them to feel loved and more than anything want them to know HIM and HIS LOVE!

At the same time, I worry for my kids and the hurt they are witnessing!  I am ok with them learning that the world is HARD and scary and that there are things that we can't even imagine but I also don't want them to be worried or hurting.

I struggle with what do we do?  Do we continue? Do we continue to help even though it is hard? Am I doing the right thing by my kids?  Am I doing the right thing by these 3 precious babies?

Therefore, each morning I come back to, "I am SOMEBODY!"  If not me, then who?  Who will show   these sweet babies the LOVE of GOD?  Who will show my kids how to walk forward in faith even when things are tough?

Each day I go to bed spent emotionally, mentally and physically but each morning I wake up, His mercies are new!  He is the reason we will continue to do the hard, He is the reason we will continue to LOVE!

I am incredibly grateful for a community and family that LOVES God, therefore they LOVE us and they LOVE us well!  I know that all of us will continue to get the extra TLC we need right now! We need you all to do what we do!

Unfortunately I have run up against some very negative attitudes and behaviors towards these precious babies...no patience and no hope seems to be communicated at times!  I pray that these people begin to see Christ's love and that each and every person is a child of God, deserving of His love, patience and kindness!  Grant me patience in dealing with these people!  Mama bear wants to come out!

Please know that we are safe!  We are heartbroken at times but that is ok!  Sometimes He needs to break our hearts for the things that He is heart broken for!  Please continue to PRAY for all involved! And now that from the bottom of our hearts, we truly feel and appreciate the prayers, family and community that are surrounding us!  God placed us here for such a time as this!

Also know that there are MANY GREAT moments in all of this!  Getting to support these kids, tuck them in at night, read to them, watch them play football the other neighborhood kids, watch them cope, watch them recite and want to recite every morning, "God, I trust that you are with me today!"  There is so much good in all the HARD!

sorry if I have rambled but I needed to write!!!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Samaritan Woman

I have read and/or hear the story of the Samaritan woman at the well multiple times in my life.  There are so many lessons wrapped up in one story and the one I have heard the most is how Jesus taught her truth and extended His grace.  That is usually how I relate to this story in my life and in working with others.

This morning though as I was reading the story in John 4, verse 7 through 9 really stuck out to me.

John 4:7-9New International Version (NIV)

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)


The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

How often do we let our laws, rules, and stereotypes dictate how we treat or relate to a person?  I know that I sometimes do.  We live in a world full of preconceived ideas and thoughts, we put people in a box, we assume things about them before we even know them.  
Jesus knew ALL about this woman and yet, He still loved her, He still asked her for a drink, He still extended His grace.  Jesus knew all the rules of this world but He didn't care.  He knew He was to here to teach us a new way:

John 13:34-35New International Version (NIV)

34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Yet, many years later, we still struggle with this.  How do we move past it?  How do we LOVE one another?  How do we reach out to those that might not be the same as us?  How do we extend His truth and GRACE above all? 
I think we begin by reaching out and then listening! We have to get out of our comfort zones and we have to cross boundaries! I know that WWJD has become a cliche saying but the truth is, we should always ask, "What would Jesus do?"  
Please feel free to offer a thought or comment below.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Join us at the Table

One of the staple furniture items in our house is a large table.  One of my favorite things to do is to fill that table with the people we love. It fills me with joy and happiness.

I continue to dream of the table that Grace Like Rain will fill with His people, His family.  We are dreaming of a home, a place that we can host 4 single moms and their children. A home where we can host trainings for our families.  A home where we can be a family.  A home where we can invite people to the table.  The table in my mind is huge!  And it makes me so excited to see this dream of the table filled with so many.

This morning, the Holy Spirit led me to Luke 14 to read, go read it!  This dream of the banquet table was given even more clearly!  

It will become a place where we can laugh together, cry together, grow together and just live life together.  

I am trusting God to make His dream come true. Because His dream is my dream also. The table needs a home and the home needs a family to make it possible.

So I am asking YOU to JOIN THE FAMILY!  Prayerfully consider becoming one of our first 50 Founding Families.  GLR is asking for $50 or more a month in giving to help make this dream and many more become possible!  God will make it happen, will you join us?

The Founding Family contributions have to be set up over the phone, so please call 940-294-6411 and we can get you set up!  You will get a Grace Like Rain T shirt and an invite to join us at the table for a Founding Families dinner.

HELP US FILL THE TABLE! 

give@gracelikerainministries.org - Email me to set up your monthly giving 
or call 940-294-6411


 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

My Identity and Fear and Faith

This post has been brewing for about a week now, I think He has given me most of the pieces and finally the time to sit and write it so here goes.

Since starting this process with Grace Like Rain, I keep hearing Him tell me to "Ask Big" and to "Dream Big."  This theme keeps coming at me in many ways, BUT I have always had issues with doing this.....I think that if I ask for something little, then I won't fail.  It's more attainable BUT the truth is:

1. Failure doesn't define me because He defines me!  
      This last Sunday at church our sermon was on identity.  Here is the link so you can listen yourself. Our identity is found in someOne not someThing and it is built in little battles but exposed in big battles.   If our identity is in Christ, then what are we afraid of?  Which leads me to....

2.  Romans 8:28 "To those that are called according to His purpose"
      In Ch. 21 of "If"  Mark Batterson says, "When you believe that all things work together for good, it redefines the bad things that happen in your life.  The worst day of your life can turn into the best day.....It gives you quiet confidence that everything is going to be alright.  In fact, it reassures you that the best is yet to come."

He later states that, "God will use even the worst things that happen for your ultimate good - and His eternal glory."

     I have been through many things in my life that have shaped me and are continuing to shape me into the person He wants me to be.  Those things have shown me that Romans 8:28 is true, so why not let go of fear and step out in faith.

3. All it takes is a mustard seed of faith!  
   So again from "If" and a very wise friend that reminded me of this last night.  In Ch. 20 he teaches that we worry too much about the consequences in which we have no control over. The outcome is God's responsibility but planting and caring for the mustard seeds of faith is our job!  

So:

I am going to be BOLD!  I am going to plant my mustard seed of faith and take care of it!  I am going to count on Him for the outcome!  I am going to watch Him make something beautiful of something so small!  

My mustard seed of faith is believing God for the vision of Grace Like Rain and my maintenance is the planning, organizing, reaching out, loving on families, etc....the outcome is yet to be determined but I know that He will do beautiful and amazing things with it. 

I love this song and it is such a great reminder of all of this!
 

Friday, May 20, 2016

Grace Like Rain and Safe Families for Children DFW Update

I wanted to give you an update and let you know about some changes to Safe Families for Children in the DFW area. Safe Families for Children is not currently placing children in the DFW area. They hope that will change shortly.  There is a team of people working on this but the volunteers in the Denton County did not want to lose momentum with the great things that are happening in the area. Personally, I felt God directing me to something new.  He used my time with SFFC DFW to build in me a desire and a heart to serve the kids and their families in a different way.   

So we have decided to launch a new non-profit called Grace Like Rain. Grace Like Rain will give every mom and dad a family to turn to when they need help.  We are committed to extending God’s love to families going through difficult circumstances by listening and helping them establish a vision, strategy and plan for growth. Our mission goes beyond hosting children for families in crisis. We want to make families stronger by equipping them to better care for themselves and their children.  That assistance can take many forms; parenting classes, counseling, budget assistance, etc. We are so excited about God's work in this area. I would love for you to join us on this mission by liking the Grace Like Rain Facebook page if you have not already.  Also, visit www.gracelikerainministries.org for more information.  The page is basic but it is up and running with updates on the way.  

We are continuing to pray for and with the Safe Families for Children movement here in the DFW area.  I know that God will do great things with it.  If you would like to follow this movement, please like the SFFC DFW page on Facebook. I will also be available to assist the new area leader when it gets up and running again.

GLR is moving full steam ahead. God has provided and is continuing to add to an amazing team of people to grow and build this ministry.  We are working out the details and preparing to launch our Founding Families campaign.  We are asking God to provide us with 50 families that will commit to $50 a month or MORE in giving to support and grow this ministry. He has already provided us with 3 families in 1 day of asking. YAY! Please pray for this campaign and if you want to be a part of the Grace Like Rain Founding Family, please email me at mconner@gracelikerainministries.org.  I can give you more information and I would love to sit down with you personally and share the vision and my passion for what God is going to do!