Assembly Line Gratitude
Had one of those "I can't believe I get to be a part of this team" moments today. It came through what might seem to be a strange circumstance. We have an initiative coming up for the month of April that we call IGNITE. During this Easter season we're doing everything we can to mobilize our entire church to invite their friends and neighbors to church. We encourage everyone to intensify their prayers for the unchurched people in their lives and commit to bringing friends to church over this 4-week period. Last fall when we did our first IGNITE it led to a 900+ increase in our weekly attendance.
In addition to this personal challenge, we want to do everything we can to get the word out about our church. So this time we've decided to do yard signs and door-hangers. Our series for the month of April is called 'The Best Life Ever' and we had over a thousand yard signs and 60,000 door hangers printed up with this graphic (although the signs list a website: www.bestlifeever.org
). We're encouraging everyone in our church to put a yard sign in their front lawn and we're mobilizing hundreds of people to walk their neighborhoods to distribute the door hangers.
So what was the gratitude moment today? Well, when we decided to do the doorhangers we also decided to include a roll of LifeSavers. That meant rather than regular paper doorhangers we'd need to stuff the card and the LifeSavers in a plastic doorhanger bag. 60,000 of them. So from 9am-1pm today our entire staff and a host of volunteers pulled together and got the job done. We cheered every time someone finished a group of 100. We heard whooping and hollering every time we finished off the quantity for one of our campuses. As I sat there doing one of the most monotonous tasks known to man, I was having a wonderful time joking, laughing, and even having a few serious discussions with my co-workers. I thought, "Only we could make something like this so much fun."
Now, I know that last statement isn't true. I know there are other great teams out there. But today I just experienced one of those moments when I knew there is no place else I'd rather be. I love this team. I love my church. And I'm so grateful to be a part of it.
If you have a chance, check out our website for this series: www.bestlifeever.org
. When you get to the landing page, check out the Kids' City link
where you can watch a promotional video for the ministry I get to be a part of.
Anyone want to join us?
It's a Party! Bring Your Checkbook!
Just got home from a neighbor's house. I spent an hour there searching through a catalog and eating small cubes of bread dipped in a variety of sauces and dips. It was a Tastefully Simple
party. For those of you who aren't familiar with Tastefully Simple, it is a food company that sells and distributes it's product through home parties. You know, just like Avon, Pampered Chef, Mary Kay, Tupperware, and PartyLite. You can now buy jewelry, stationary, rubber stamps, cleaning products, and even clothes from the comfort of your living room. All you need is a few friends and minimal refreshments and the free hostess gifts are yours.
I am so puzzled by this phenomenon.
I'm not even talking about the strange fact that we'll shell out $20 for a plastic bowl or $15 for an eyeliner that we could get for half the price at Wal-mart.
What bothers me is that the home shopping industry has become the only venue for female connection in suburbia. Doesn't anyone invite their neighbors and gal-pals over just for the heck of it anymore? If I think back to the last 5 invitations I've had to home shopping parties, I don't think I've ever been invited into those homes to eat a meal or watch a movie.
Can we only connect if our checkbooks are involved?
Did I really just spend $20 on three food items I don't even care about?
At least I did meet a neighbor I'd never talked to before. We've lived near each other for two years and never met. Kind of sad that we needed Bountiful Beer Bread Mix®
to bring us together.
"I do what I do not want to do." Granted, Paul wasn't talking about television when he wrote these words, but as I'm sitting here tonight they are ringing in my head. Do you ever find yourself getting sucked into television programs that you don't really give a rip about? You can't seem to turn them off. But as soon as they are over you instantly wonder, "Why in the world did I just spend an hour watching that?" That is my plight tonight. Yes, I just sat through 'Deal or No Deal' followed by the results show of 'American Idol.' What am I doing? Now I know my rant will offend some of you because it has become quite obvious that there are many faithful fans of the latter. I don't begrudge you. You are welcome to pursue your interests. But I really don't care about either of these shows so why did I just sit through them for the second time this week?
The worst part is now I don't have time to watch the one show I really did want to see tonight. Now I must wait another day or two to see if the survivors of Oceanic Air Flight 815 get rescued. I'm pretty sure they don't. Thank goodness I have TiVo.
Sometimes I think about all the hours I waste in a week. I'm not talking about taking time for fun or rest. I'm talking about the hours that I squander in things I don't even really enjoy. Someone asked me a couple weeks ago how in the world I find time to blog. My answer...we always find time for things we really want to do. The person who asked me works out on a consistent basis. I can't seem to find time for that. Is the truth that I don't have time to work out? No. If I really wanted to do it, I would find the time. I could use my blogging time to work out. He could use his gym time to blog. We all find time for the things we really want to be about.
So the next time I'm dying to know what dollar amount is in case number 16 or I can't look away from the awkward way the gray haired guy dances, would someone please remind me that I'd rather be reading?
I hate going to the doctor. It's not really about being afraid of any particular medical procedure. I like my doctor so it's nothing personal against her. I used to hate going because I had terrible insurance that covered basically nothing but that's no longer an excuse. I think I simply don't want to take the time to go. Going in for a check-up doesn't seem like an exciting way to spend my day off. So I never go.
I know. It's a bad thing.
But today I called and made an appointment for a routine physical. Why the sudden change of heart? Is something wrong? No. Am I suddenly more conscientious about taking better care of myself? Unfortunately that's not it either. I called and made an appointment because a co-worker and I decided to hold each other accountable to going and promised to pay each other $10 if we didn't make the appointment within 2 weeks. Ten bucks. That's all it took to get me hopping. It's kind of pathetic but I also find it interesting.
What else should I agree to do or face a $10 penalty? Read my Bible consistently? Exercise? Go to bed at a decent hour?
I may have just discovered the key to discipline. And it's free. Unless I mess up. Then it's $10.
Did I Crash the Server?
So I decided to go cold-turkey on e-mail while I went on vacation. I needed to get away from it. I admit I am addicted. It honestly felt so freeing to ignore it for 4-days. But now I've returned and I know there are dozens of messages waiting in my inbox for my immediate attention. So I drive from the airport to the office prepared to hunker down for a couple hours of e-mail correspondence only to find that our server is down. It's been down all day. It's 9:20pm and it's still down. I'm starting to wonder if this is part of God's detox program for me. Hmmm....
Just returned from vacation in Arizona. I had a wonderful time with Sarah & Blake Kearney. Attended a Cubs-Brewers spring training game. Satisfied a Chick-fil-a craving. Had my first In-and-Out Burger. Received a 5-year-overdue golf lesson from Blake at the driving range. Visited a great, young church. Watched Walk the Line.
Took a walk in flip flops.
But of course the highlight was seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time. Pictures don't do it justice. You feel very small standing on the rim of something so massive...something so beautiful, mysterious, awesome, and dangerous. I wonder if God was trying to express something about himself with this burst of creativity.
On the way back to Phoenix, Sarah took me through
Sedona so I could see the huge formations of red rock that tower over the small town. It, too, was quite breathtaking. At one spot we climbed down to a creek near a small waterfall. The setting was so peaceful and good that it just called prayer out of me.
A few weeks ago John Deck
wrote a post about collections. He offered to make collection suggestions for those of us who didn't have one. Here's what he suggested for me:Tammy: You often reflect on grace, and finding said grace in the "little things." I think it would be cool if you started a physical collection of items that told a story of grace. Maybe a series of shelves with various items that each told a story.
The ironic thing was one week before John made this suggestion I had purchased and assembled a wall of shelves for my bedroom. I loved his idea. So on this vacation I started my 'Stories of Grace' collection. The first item...a small collection of rocks. Three are non-descript gray ones from the base of a tree at the Grand Canyon. Three are southwestern red from the hills of Sedona. And three bear the multiple colors found in the landscaping of Sarah & Blake's front yard. Once I find the right bowl to place them in they will find a place on my shelves. And they will remind me of what a gift the past few days have been. To see more vacation pictures click here.
For those of you who know Jo (Giglio) and Joe Kruse... Welcome baby Cayden Joseph into the world! He was born Wednesday night at 10:30pm after only 2 1/2 hours of labor. He's beautiful. Here are some pics I took with my phone camera...
So I'm flying to Arizona this weekend for a vacation. I'm going to spend a few days with Sarah and Blake Kearney and Sarah and I are going to drive to the Grand Canyon for an overnighter. I've been watching the weather for several weeks now and it's been sunny and in the mid to high 70s for days. Sunny and in the 50s at the Canyon. Beautiful.
But the forecast for this weekend? Rainy and 59. I can't believe it. They haven't had rain in 145 days in Phoenix! The forecast for Chicago? Rainy and 63. My first time ever going to Arizona and it's going to be warmer in Chicago?!? There's snow in the forecast for the Grand Canyon!
At least I know Sarah and Blake will make me smile.
Kids' City Invasion
This was a great weekend for Kids' City. We're in the middle of a family series at our church and decided that this week we'd have the kids invade the adult service. We brought our elementary large group into the adult auditorium. The kids were so excited. They love to be in the spotlight in front of their parents. And it seemed like the adults enjoyed the experience too. It was great to see hundreds of people waving their arms doing song motions along with the kids. And I could tell it was encouraging to every Kids' City staffer and volunteer to see the ministry they are a part of take center-stage for a weekend. So often kids volunteers are serving in the shadows. I could see in their faces what a boost it was to have what they do celebrated in such a visible way.
But what excites me most about this weekend is I felt we capitalized on an opportunity to educate and challenge parents about their role in the spiritual development of their children. Our teaching pastors spoke boldly about family expectations and values. Our media director produced an amazing video that helped parents understand how Kids' City can help them raise a growing, Christ-follower. We offered parents a chance to sign up to take a "test drive" through the City to see first-hand what their children experience each weekend. We produced a family resource guide and CD for this series that's getting rave reviews.
My heart starts to beat fast when I think about parents getting intentional about the spiritual development of their children. Of course I want to see every kid grow up knowing and loving Jesus. But I also know the future vision of our church is dependent on the next generation being even more commited and risk-taking than ours has been. God has big dreams.
Took a 1/2 day of work today as a Retreat Day. I encourage everyone on our children's staff to step away from the fray once a month to get their bearings. God led me to these words from Romans 3...“We are made right in God’s sight when we trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins…Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins…We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us…Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on our good deeds. It is based on our faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.”
I know there have to be those of you out there that struggle like I do with beating yourself up over all you are not. I realized this morning that I'd been treating myself to a very steady pummeling for ways that I'm not loving enough, patient enough, kind enough... There is a healthy piece in my desire that makes me want to grow to be more like Jesus. But there's a lot in it too that makes me forget that I'm accepted. I am right with God.
It was just good today to take some time to rest in that knowledge. I can breathe. I am free.