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.

 

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.

Whispers of Resurrection

Every Leaf on Every Tree

The world whispers resurrection
but you do not see.
The world whispers resurrection
but you do not believe.
Every leaf on every tree
begs you to admit
that Jesus could arise again
but you will not commit

April 2015
 
 
I started writing this last Easter, but I couldn’t get it to go longer. No words seemed to fit. I wanted it to be long and elegant, but I just couldn’t get it to expand.
spring,leaves on a tree,green leaves,maple tree,

Devil’s Tower

This is a small stone poem that I wrote for a #HeartSoup prompt.
 

Devil’s Tower
I found myself in
The devil’s tower
I tried to squeeze through a
Window but could not
When I looked around
I found Jesus
Had already opened the door.

 
old barn,rustic,hayloft,hay equipment,barn door,sunlight,crack in the door,

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.

Thank You for Your Love

sun breaking through, sunlight, water tower, evening

  Thank You for Your Love

Ancient words written by strangers
Have proven true yet again
Before I cried you heard
Before I cried you caught my tears
You moved mountains and people
You changed the winds to fill my sails
Taking me from the storm
As I land on the shore
I cry tears of thankfulness
Gratitude is too small a word
There has not been a word uttered
To describe the easing in my soul
You were faithful when I doubted
And You loved me when I strayed
You showed me the package mercy comes in
And unwrapped lovingkindness in my sight
Thank you Lord for your patience and love

 

I wrote this poem after I snapped out of my postpartum depression. I went about 6 months without writing a poem, which is the longest I have ever gone since I was in High School.

What the Saviour Said

moss covered head stone, lichen tombstone, grave

 

Let the Dead Bury the Dead

“Follow me and let the dead bury the dead.”

That is what the Saviour said

Worry not about yesterday

He has made a new way

Your needs are seen and met

About your worries forget

Stop practicing the old ritual

He has brought renewal

Leave old spirituality behind

Peace in Him you will find

 

A holy place where I can be honest.

church

At the Altar

My heavy head lies on my arms

Tears stream down my hands

And pool on the glossy wood

I know I will have a red spot

On my forehead when I rise

But I cannot lift my head

It is too heavy with sadness

I have failed yet again

I was angry, jealous and selfish

But humility worked its way in

After conviction put a crack in the door

I am embarrassed to be here

But so thankful that I have a place

To fall to my knees in surrender

To have a holy place where I can be honest

Where I can start over

I take a deep breath and finish praying

Making a commitment to God

I will not be back here again

But in making that promise

God knows He has more work to do

Because He does not need us to be

Feeling accomplished and complacent

He wants us to be in a state of urgency

Running and hurrying to advance His work

Before the trumpet sounds

He wants us to know

The power that sin has

That people do stupid things

In times of weakness

So in bringing a hurting heart here

In laying down my sins and presumptions

I am picking up a piece of holiness

 

 

At or in what holy place do you most feel the presence of God?

How to love your neighbor.

married, wedding rings

  Love Your Neighbor
you shall not murder
you shall not cheat on your wife
you shall not tell lies
how to love your neighbor
made plain, but we do not obey

Tanka in the Garden

phlox flower

 

  In the Garden

I pull weeds by hand
making room for the phlox
I know they need me
what I need to know is where
is my gardener of destiny

Sometimes it feels as though God is far away, or not listening, but He is there.

Matthew 6:27 And who of you by worrying and being anxious can add one unit of measure to his stature or to the span of his life?

28 And why should you be anxious about clothes? Consider the lilies of the field and learn thoroughly how they grow; they neither toil nor spin.

Help From Above: The original poem.

Where the trail of tears ran through Arkansas, Pea Ridge

The Poem:

God has not promised skies always blue,
Flower-strewn pathways all our lives through;
God has not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God has promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labor, light for the way,
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
-Kristone

 
I found this poem before Twitter existed. A copy of it hung in my guest bathroom when I got my first house. I keep seeing it paraphrased then tweeted, or put into a meme on Facebook, without anyone citing where they are getting the idea from. I do not know what the title to this piece is, nor who Kristone was; but I know this is the poem that everyone likes to paraphrase into the line “God didn’t promise things would be easy, but He did promise to give you strength!” The next time you see something like that, know that it came from this.
 
**UPDATE
This is actually an old hymn. To see the full lyrics and hear the music go here http://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/nt/720
To read about the author, William M. Runyan go here http://www.hymnary.org/tune/god_hath_not_promised_skies_always_blue