Why I Bother

The below article was written by me for our church members last year. I have noticed a lack of passion in the women in our churches lately and thought I would share in case I might inspire some of my readers. There has been a noticeable decrease in attendance across all churches of all sizes and this saddens me. Please consider this post the sign or battle cry that you have been looking for.

  Written July 31, 2016

Last week I saw an article that National WMU had shared on their Facebook page. I got so excited, thinking that this is the article that I have been waiting for! It was entitled _Why Bother?_ The tagline asked “So, why bother? Why not spend those precious moments and dollars on ourselves and our families?” I read the article, it was less than a page long, and I was disappointed. The author simply stated that during an interaction with some younger people she remembered being called by God to spread the gospel, and that is why she keeps going to WMU meetings and events. I was surprised that she stopped there when I could have shared so many other things. I shared the article on our Women On Mission Diamond page because it is a little helpful if you have already been answering that call, but it was definitely not the battle cry I was expecting.

roygbiv,rainbows,rainbow in the clouds,bright rainbow,

Double Rainbow

And it does need to be a battle cry. We get asked to do so many things every week, and they are good things. We get asked to birthday parties and Pampered Chef Parties, to meetings at school and conventions at work, we get asked to volunteer at the multiple shelters near our town. To say “Yes” to one is to say “No” to at least one of the others. I have quickly accepted women’s responses when they tell me no, they can’t make it to Women On Mission meetings. Sometimes their reasons are good! So, I have examined myself and the way I direct my church’s Women On Mission. I have thought about moving the meeting day to a day other than Sunday. But the truth is there is always somewhere else we could be, rather than church. And no matter what time I set the meeting, 4:30 pm, 5:00 pm, 7:30 pm, the ladies will always have to find a sitter for their kids, and they will have to make dinner for their family before or after the meeting.

half of a moon
all of an hour
meeting night

I have discussed this with one of my officers at length, several times, and the conclusion we have come to every time is: that it is a sacrifice you have to decide you are willing to make. Families sacrifice having dinner at a normal time when they drive to Springfield to see a ball game. Women sacrifice time with their kids and money that they worked hard for when they go to a Thirty-One party and buy totes (or whichever party is popular this month). It really does come down to: are you willing to sacrifice one more hour a week, one more interruption in your schedule, so that others may know Christ? If you can find someone to watch your kids while you are at a party, or if you can travel for miles to see a ball game that you have no stake in, why can’t you travel back to church after lunch to make sure that the gospel is spread to people in your community? (And please don’t say it’s up to the Preacher, he can’t reach the 30,000 unsaved people all by himself.)

 

The word “Missions” seems to be scaring women. Maybe I need to explain what we do a little better. We do not stand on the street corner trying to get passersby to take Bible tracts. We do not go on Missions trips overseas, or out of state. We don’t literally walk up to people and start preaching the gospel to them and ask them if they have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as their savior. We use the holidays that our church celebrates to introduce people to the church, and let them see what it’s like to be surrounded by the love of God. 

 

For instance: we collect, stuff, and hide eggs on Easter. The missions part is that we have the kids listen to a story about Jesus before they can hunt the eggs. And if their parents are paying attention, then they get a lesson on Jesus as well. We make all of our events free so that any parents struggling with being able to provide for their child can bring their kid to FBC Diamond and get some snacks and/or gifts for free, while hanging out with other kids, in an environment that is safe and loving. Sometimes we have events specifically for adults, or sometimes we just do small projects where we try to show people love in small ways.

  our church
  our kitchen our buses
  everyone’s God

The statistics say that a person has to hear the gospel over 7 times before they accept Jesus as their Savoir. WOM tries to take the gospel to our community several times a year so that the people in our community can come closer and closer to knowing Christ. There are several unsaved people in your area, and it is your job as a Christian to take the story of Jesus dying on the cross to them. You can find a map that shows the stats for every county in the State of Missouri and it shows there are over 10,000 unsaved people in every county. I am willing to bet that you might even have an unsaved family member.

cross,church,church hidden,christian cross,

Maybe you’ve tried to talk to your unsaved family member about God and coming to church, or maybe you were too afraid. A family member is the hardest person to witness to. Very often we are dismissed by them. But if I witness to your brother, and you witness to mine, we can witness to all of our family over time. And, I will not be personally hurt or offended when someone who I don’t know shrugs me off and doesn’t respond to the gospel. With a family member or friend, it is hard to go back to them after they have rejected your efforts. You fear causing a rift with your loved one. But when we work as a group to show our community the love of Christ, it’s possible to see people learn who Jesus really is.

 

I can’t promise you that you will see a person fall to their knees and yell “I repent.” and then become a model Christian. In 5 years I’ve never seen anything close to that, although I had hoped to at first. Now I realize, this group of women does not host these events, and pray for people, hoping that they will see people dramatically come to Christ. They make meals, they make trips to supply stores, and glue things together, hoping that at least one person this weekend felt loved by God. This is a great reason to partner with someone, and that is why I bother.

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How I Hate Crafts and Became Leader of a Group of Women Anyway.

This will be the first of two articles. Check back next week for the second part.

I tell people that I’m not crafty. I don’t think they believe me at first. But after spending time with me, they quickly discover I probably should have been born in the 50’s when everything was cookie cutter made and it was cool to buy it straight from the store instead of making it yourself.

the night dark and cold
but she rises anyway
full moon shines brightly

I don’t totally hate crafts. They look pretty when they are done. It’s just that if you burned your hand on the glue gun, and your kid is whining for dinner, and your husband is trying to wash the glitter off his arm for the third time, I can’t help but think that buying it would have been easier.

five o'clocks,johnny jump ups,violets,self watering,moss,container garden,

This is as crafty as I get. 2 flowers with a watering thing in 1 planter.

Also, I stink at crafts. I’m terrible. And yet I lead a very craft loving group of women. I lead WMU at our church. We call our particular group Women On Mission because it sounds more contemporary and we are a new group of ladies who wanted to start the group over. Crafts are not all we do; we also do prayer walks and other activities. While we have stopped the Bible Study portion of our meetings we still learn about missionaries.

cross,church,church hidden,christian cross,

We still do some of the same things. We still host an Easter Egg Hunt, and a Christmas party, and a Ladies’ Banquet. It’s just that now the banquet is for all women in the church, not just mothers and daughters. The Christmas party is not for our group, but for foster children. The Easter Egg hunt is held at the local park for over 100 kids instead of at the church for 30.

Unfortunately for me, this means that we still do crafts with the children. We still get out glue and glitter and chocolate and then pray that it doesn’t get in the carpet. Unfortunately for me, we still have to ask people to give us money. WMU has promoted and sustained the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering and Annie Armstrong Offering practically since we named those offerings over 125 years ago.

Yes, over 125 years ago. I love tradition. And so the nostalgic part of me accepted the office of Assistant Director in 2011 when I was asked. The smart side of me woke up later that week and said “What did you do!?!? They’re going to ask you to give glue bottles to kids, and then supervise!” But I just haven’t been able to walk away.

I was asked to be the Director but resisted being the actual leader until 2015. Then for that next year, at least one night a month, I would sit upright in bed and think to myself, “You idiot. You don’t craft. You don’t cook organic meals from the garden because you don’t even grow vegetables! Why did you take on this responsibility?!”

And yet God. God gave me some ladies who not only like to craft, but they are good at it! He brought women to me that aren’t afraid of making bows out of fluffy material. They don’t flinch when they hand glue and glitter to children, they actually enjoy it!

They also enjoy cooking. We regularly cook for over 100 people every year, after we have decorated tables, and made signs, and made or bought gifts. And that really, is how I am able to lead this group of women. Not because I have done all of the projects on my Pinterest boards, although I have done some. Not because I can make beautiful wreaths out of the stuff lying in my yard. I can’t. Not because I can whip up gourmet cakes or because I make the best brisket, no that is why God invented catering. I am able to lead this group because when I envision children hearing a story about Jesus, their smiling faces covered in chocolate, the ladies of Women On Mission are there to give them the chocolate, and clean up after they leave.

They make my decorating ideas come to life. They can interpret directions on my pins, and sometimes improvise to make an even better thing. Glitter is just another accessory to the ladies in my group, and that is how I am able to lead them while hating crafts.

 

Day 14 NaHaiWriMo 2017

a wild rose

grafted to make it stronger

the way of Christ

Today’s prompt was “a way of” I changed “a” to “the” and wrote about the greatest love we will ever know. Christ hung on a cross for us. In doing that He made a way for us; now you don’t have to be Jewish to be a part of God’s family. Once you accept that Christ died for you then you become grafted into the family of God.

And if the people of Israel turn from their unbelief, they will be grafted in again, for God has the power to graft them back into the tree. You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.  Romans 11:23-24 NLT

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scribbles in a notebook,poetry notebook,writing,blogging,haiku,writer,poet,

Symanntha Renn

dogwood

  Storytelling
the good news
told in the dogwood’s petals
Jesus’ story
about how he bled for us
told over and over each spring

  1-15-17

I first shared this tanka on Twitter as I was inspired to write it by #WrittenRiver prompt 917 “for all eternity.”

thorny crown on a dogwood blossom,rust marks on petals,nail prints on petals,

The legend of the dogwood tree comes from a poem, author unknown, about the relationship between the tree and the cross on which Jesus was crucified:

In Jesus’ time, the dogwood grew
To a stately size and a lovely hue.
‘Twas strong and firm, its branches interwoven.
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.
Seeing the distress at this use of their wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
“Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so.
Slender and twisted, it shall be
With blossoms like the cross for all to see.
As blood stains the petals marked in brown,
The blossom’s center wears a thorny crown.
All who see it will remember Me
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.
Cherished and protected, this tree shall be
A reminder to all of My agony.”

The dogwood is a genus of between thirty and sixty plants including shrubs, evergreens, and flowering trees. Dogwoods are most common in China, Japan, and the US, but can also be found in Eurasia, although not naturally. The wood is very hard, but, as the poem suggests, trees large enough to provide lumber for a cross are rare.

To see where I found this information click here.

Happy Holidays from Failing at Haiku!

failing at haiku banner

green fake tree inside
fake snow, fake lights, but real love
Christmas at our house
  12-3-15

 

I hope you are enjoying the holidays. I do think it is fine to say “Happy Holidays” to people for two reasons:

1. You don’t know what holidays strangers celebrate.

   The person that you’re speaking to, may be Jewish, or agnostic, and may celebrate holidays that are near Christmas, or not celebrate at all. Why offend someone, or push them further away from a great holiday and a great God? Be thoughtful. If you are trying to represent your religion, and you come off looking like a jerk, you’ve made everyone that practices your religion look like a jerk.

2. We’re still in between holidays.

   The Holiday Season is not just about Christmas. There is a holiday every month, but January, from October to February which equals over 5 holidays. In case I might not see someone for the next three months, and I like to wish them “Happy Holidays” as in I hope that all of their holidays, from Halloween to Valentine’s Day, are happy. This does not take away from Christmas. It makes me a nice person.

What I learned about God from growing flowers.

If you look through these photos you will see a progression. It is the same progression that we go through with God. First, we are small weak vines and we need a branch to support us. Just like my moonflower vine. As we grow and get stronger we manage to grow flowers and we look good.

Then God cuts us. And it doesn’t seem to make sense.

But after we recover, we can grow stronger in our roots or at our base. After I prune my moonflower vine, it puts out more flowers. Instead of growing in a hundred directions and making no fruit, it thickens up and produces beautiful results. Look at all of the extra blooms in the bottom photos.

The last photo is a photo of the seed pod. We can only produce fruit after we mature and go through pruning and redirecting from God. I realized this one day while I was cutting back my vine.

I added 2 haiku in with the photos.

img_6501img_5165

 

does the moonflower

think about its tendrils

as it climbs the trellis

img_5323

img_5337

 

img_5406

img_5469  img_5449

not wanting to be
judged in the harsh light of day
closed moonflower bloomimg_5451

IMG_5455.JPG

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That’s Not a Proverb

Proverbs 19:17 He who is gracious and lends a hand to the poor lends to the Lord, And the Lord will repay him for his good deed.

freshwater pearls,mom's pearl necklace,triple strand pearl necklace,
So last year I started looking at the Bible in a different way.
I have been reading the Bible since I could read. I have read through the Bible, from beginning to end. So I know what’s in there. 
Last year I started asking myself, what’s not in there?
The last lesson I learned from asking myself this question – “Perform a background check on a person before giving them food.” is not a proverb.
“Only show the love of Christ if you are sure you are not being taken advantage of.” is not a proverb.
“If you give someone money, and they buy drugs with it, you lose your blessing.” Is not a proverb.
“Go and tell people about the gospel except if they live in a bad neighborhood.” is not in the New Testament. 
“Make sure the one you are giving to is truly poor.” is not a proverb.
So basically, if it’s not in there I need to think about it. Because “love your neighbor as yourself” is in there. Giving to the poor is mentioned several times, as is not being a gossip. Most of us know that. But today I would encourage you to think about what’s not in there. 

Happy New Year’s Day 2016

old storage building
feeling the walls
of my self-imposed box
new year boundaries

I hope you all enjoyed ringing in the New Year. I have made a few personal resolutions that I am not going to share with anyone but my husband. What I will share with you is my verse for this year and my word for this year.

I found out last year that people often pick 1 word to focus on throughout the calendar year. Last year I choose the word READ, because I wanted to do more studying. This year my word is STEADFAST. I am going to learn to stay firmly fixed in place.

My verse for last year was Psalms‬ ‭34‬:‭4‬ I sought the LORD, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. (‭NKJV) I made a verse image for it in my Bible App and saved the verse in different versions in my bookmarks on my Bible App. I wrote my verse, that I felt God wanted me to focus on for the year, in several places and read it at least once a day. I will write my verse for 2016 in my prayer journal and on Post-It notes to be placed around my house. I will continue to use the Bible App to study this verse and the rest of God’s Word.

This year I feel that God wants me to focus on Psalms‬ ‭112‬:‭7 He will not fear bad news; his heart is confident, trusting in the Lord. (‭HCSB)

What do you think God wants you to focus on this year?

Quote

A Quote about the Author

No one ever graduates from Bible study until he meets the author face to face. -Everett T. Harris

 

This is a quote I think of often. I hope you and your family have a fun Halloween.

fully bloomed daffodil,yellow flowers,flower in sunlight,morning daffodil,

Allow the River

river,gently flowing stream,
 
There is a River
There is a River
there is a God
there is a Hope.
Allow the River
to float you
to that Hope.
 
 
This little piece was inspired by an #ntitle prompt on Twitter. Follow me on Twitter for little ditties like this.

Asleep

still water

  Sleeping Prophet

Someone awaken
our sleeping prophet
we’re drowning
He arises unfazed
is he a prophet
or a mad man
the calm waves answer

 

I really like taking a prompt on Twitter, where people write the same boring micro poems about sex over and over, and writing one about Jesus. I hope that it stops people in their tracks. I hope people question what they have been writing about when they come across my micro poems. I mean come on guys! How many poems do you think people want about

kissing/licking/gazing

or sliding/caressing/walking/gliding

your fingers over her/his

[insert word for skin/flesh/lips here]

and it made me feel

[insert clever word for excited here]

If you click on the hashtag and read what others have tweeted, you will find at least 4 poems in a row like the one I just described. It is not original at all, and therefore not interesting or shocking or romantic. I also consider you a one-trick-pony if that type of poem is all that is on your timeline. There are several poets that I have quit following on Twitter because that same boring poem is what they tweet all day long. I’m not saying I’m great, but at least I’m trying not to be boring.

This particular poem was written for a #ntitle prompt.

Quote

A quote about praying.

Don’t pray to escape trouble. Don’t pray to be comfortable in your emotions. Pray to do the will of God in every situation. Nothing else is worth praying for.  -Samuel M. Shoemaker

 

I really like this quote. Prayer is super important.