October 27, 2011

Unity Like Soup \o/

This morning the air was different in my house. The windows had been open all night and the cool front that came through last night has cooled the temperatures down by about 15 degrees. I love fresh air in the house. It feels and smells different.

I wanted to make soup tonight not just because of the fall weather but also because my oldest daughter now has mono. She can barely tolerate swallowing things that are solid. Leftover broccoli and grated cheese in the fridge got my attention. I haven't made broccoli cheddar soup in years! But we love it, so I carefully followed a recipe from the internet and got a very nice soup. Maybe the reason I don't make it often is because I've had several bad experiences just winging it with broccoli soup. It seems so easy, yet if you don't do it right, it turns out lumpy with separated cheese and thin broth.

The recipe I used is supposed to mimic Panera Broccoli Cheese Soup. The only difference I made in the process was to stir the grated cheese in after I added the milk to the roue, before adding the broth and vegetables. I think it blends better if you add it then, instead of trying to add it to the broth full of broccoli.

After one bowl I had to go change from long sleeves into short. It really warmed me up. Oh, and everyone agreed on the warming affect...it's not just because of my hormones this time!

As I was enjoying my soup, I thought of this weekend. I love it when God shows me something in a word picture. I'll be joining some ladies from church for a women's ministry leadership retreat. I am hoping the blending and process of our retreat produces a really comforting and unified blend of leadership for our church. Even though we have great ladies on the team, I think it's still something to pray towards. 

If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Philippians 2:1-2 (The Message)

October 24, 2011

Love and Prayer

About a year ago, life got very hard for three of my close friends. Hard as in, barely able to cope. Hard as in losing your spouse (2 of them through divorce and one is now a widow). Hard like recurring anxiety, health problems, depression and financial difficulties. Oh, and just throw in adult children getting married (planning weddings), having brain surgery, cancer scares, and one who is moving to another country for two years.

How do you help one friend, much less three, go through that kind of year? You just can't. It is too much. There is only one Friend who can help. And He does.

I have been praying for these friends and I have a group of online friends praying for them too. Just lately we have all been in the same small group that meets at my house. Totally unplanned, but absolutely by Divine arrangement, there are two women who are also in our group who have gone through divorce earlier in life and are a testimony of God's care and faithfulness. Even when things in our lives don't go as planned, He is faithful to take care of us and love us.

Lately I have been noticing just how much God has done in the past year in these friends' lives. Despair is starting to lift and joy is slowly returning to each of them. There are still a lot of hard days, but the despair seems to have faded. God has graciously taken care of them and answered prayers for jobs, children, health and finances. He is amazing. He has amazing love for His people.

Last week after small group one of these dear friends asked me how I was doing with a recent health issue. Then she said, "Oh I've been praying for you....wait a minute, let's pray NOW. Come on!" So she and another one of these friends joined hands and prayed with such faith and understanding that when they finished, the other woman holding hands with us just said, "Woah...oh wow," and then continued on with her prayer.

It was such a gift.

The friends I have been walking through their own valleys with this year were lifting ME up (and doing a great job of it). Besides feeling God's power and care, I felt their love for me while they prayed. It was overwhelming. I definitely think there is greater power in prayer when it comes from a place of sincere love and not obligation....love for God and also for the person you are praying for. Love and understanding. These ladies have seen the power of prayer this past year and were pouring the faith they have gained into ministering to me.

Colossians 4:2 says, Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart.

....a mind alert to what the Spirit is telling you to pray for and a thankful heart because you remember what He's done for you.

October 17, 2011

Coming Together

We had a meeting after church yesterday on starting a contemporary service, going to two services on Sunday mornings. Hearing of this kind of meeting is enough to strike havoc into the guts of any church leaders. Very volatile feelings have been known to rise and bubble....even explode...to the surface in these kinds of meetings. It was such a wonderfully understanding and considerate meeting though. I was so pleased.

It was just a "what do you think about this" meeting, not a vote or any concrete decisions or plans. So our youth and young adults came to help explain the need for a more contemporary worship. Some of our newer youth, brand new Christians, were so mature and diplomatic. I cried. They talked about how they loved this church for the family feeling and that all the ages communicate and intermingle. They want the higher energy worship music that is relevant to their generation. It is how they express themselves. But don't want to segregate from the older people.

That made the older people feel so appreciated, including me! I'm telling you, it was so cool. Whatever happens with the services, it is so wonderful to know that our church people feel this way about God's family and want to be considerate of each other.

There was no talk of whether this kind of music style was good or bad. None.

The talk focused on not being divisive by having two services and wanting to make sure we would all still fellowship together and see each other regularly. We're a family and when some parts of a family are missing, it's not the same. I totally agree!

What began as a meeting about different styles of worship became a consensus on the unity of the Body of Christ. And how cool is it that we have been going through Ephesians at such a time as this? I love it.

...lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.

...we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Ephesians 4:1-4, 15-16 NLT