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Millennial Monday: To the volunteers at Church, thank you

Millennial Monday: To the volunteers at Church, thank you

Chances are, if you’ve walked into most any church, you’ve seen several volunteers almost immediately. Whether it is a greeter, a nursery worker, someone who sets up the coffee bar on sundays, volunteers are everywhere.

To the nursery workers, thank you. Week in and week out when I drop my son off for the church service, the same precious women take care of him while I get to listen to the sermon uninterrupted.

A simple thank you seems inadequate, as I admittedly don’t drop my child off with just anyone. But these women, and on occasion men, put my mind at ease when I pick my child up and he has been cared for and, 9 times out of 10, is peacefully sleeping. Thank you!

To the volunteer children’s workers, thank you. Thank you for listening to little ones recite Scripture that they will hide in their hearts for many years to come. Some of my favorite memories as a young child in church came at the hands of precious volunteers that loved me and made me feel important, and most importantly, taught me about Jesus.

Children can be really hard to be around at times, and they test your patience more than you might expect, but the work that you are doing when you volunteer in children’s ministry is work that is pointing little hearts and minds towards the Kingdom of Heaven. Thank you!

To the youth workers, thank you. Thank you for taking vacation time from your job to go to camp for a week, sleep in an uncomfortable bunk—if you get any sleep at all that is—and spend time out in the heat, playing funny games and making a fool of yourself. Summertime can be hard for parents when it comes to finding meaningful activities for their students. I know it means a lot to have someone willing to go and love your children and take care of your children while they are away at camp.

Every Wednesday night at a church youth group, there are inevitably a group of volunteers serving snacks, ready to talk to a student who might be struggling and need someone to listen to them, and most importantly, point those students to Jesus. Your hard work and dedication doesn’t go unnoticed, you are helping raise the next generation of churches across the world. Thank you!

To the volunteers who stay long after everyone else has gone home, whether that is helping clean the church, preparing food for an event, or organizing outreach events to show love to the lost and broken world, thank you.

A lot of added stress go into planning every church event. That is just the nature of event planning, but because of you, a family might feel loved and accepted for the first time. Because of you, someone may hear about Jesus for the first time. The added stress and loss of sleep pale in comparison when you count the cost of others learning that they are loved by Jesus Christ.

To every other volunteer not mentioned in any above scenario, thank you. As our interim pastor yesterday mentioned in his sermon, the church exists for two reasons: To tell the lost and broken world about the hope in Jesus, and to make disciples.

Every act of volunteering helps accomplish one of those two goals.

If you haven’t volunteered in your church, or any church recently, I would strongly urge you to take a look at your own heart and ask yourself why it is you’re coming to church, to serve or be served? I guarantee you, there are plenty of opportunities at your church. Step in and go help others learn about the Lord.

I should caution you, though. When volunteering at your church, there is a high possibility that you’ll have fun. Brace yourselves!

Millennial Monday: To the volunteers at Church, thank you

Millennial Monday: A Father’s Love

What does a dad look like to you? To me, a dad is someone I can always trust, depend upon in good and bad times, someone who cares for me/their children more than themselves, would do anything to help someone… the list goes on.

This idea of a dad was modeled for me best in my own dad. My dad is the kind of guy who would give you the shirt off of his own back. He is the hardest working and most honest person I know. He is also goofy! When it comes to making anyone laugh, he has no shame!

My dad is also my, and all five of my siblings’, biggest fan. No matter the activity, he is guaranteed to be there, and will absolutely tell everyone near him that he is our Dad. He is proud of us.

Thankfully, I can say these same things about my husband, who is daddy to our little Silas. From the get-go, Casey said he was going to be intentional about spending time with and nurturing his relationship with our son. And he has done just that, as Silas approaches his first birthday.

No task is beneath Casey, no diaper outside of his wheelhouse. He takes joy in nurturing and caring for our son. Every morning Casey gets Silas ready to go to his babysitter, drops him off and picks him up, due to our work schedules. Lately, he has said, “Getting Silas ready in the mornings has turned into quite the adventure.” And he’s not wrong. The little guy is busy!

One thing is sure about the love of a Dad, and the love that I see the Dads in my life exhibit: Nothing their children could ever do would stop them from loving them.

Their love as a Dad is unconditional. Children will disappoint Dads; it’s inevitable. But what doesn’t change is how they love them.

This type of Dad/child relationship is best modeled in the relationship we have as children of God. Nothing we could ever do would change his love for us. It is unfailing, never ceasing, and steadfast.  

Have you ever done anything that makes you think, “Surely this time I’ve messed up so badly, He can’t forgive me, He won’t love me anymore”?

I’m here to tell you that I’ve thought that at times, but we have a good, gracious and loving heavenly Father. We are His children, whom He sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins. He made that big of a sacrifice, so that we could be joined up in heaven with Him one day.

Nothing you or I do can change His steadfast love. Surely, we will all do things that disappoint Him. We have to humble ourselves about our shortcomings, and admit to Him our sins, turn from evil and hide His Word in our heart.

When we do those things, we will run a race that our Father in Heaven can proudly proclaim, that’s my son, that’s my daughter, in them I am well pleased.

Millennial Monday: To the volunteers at Church, thank you

Millennial Monday: Finding time for rest/a mental vacation

I am fresh off a week of “vacation,” and when I say fresh I mean it. I feel refreshed! I say vacation with quotes around it because I went to Falls Creek, a youth camp, with the church that my husband attended as a teenager. It’s not a typical vacation, but, with limited cell phone reception and almost no responsibilities other than taking care of my 10 month old, it was like a vacation to me.

How do you take time off? I think this is something that is so important but often overlooked. The business world almost frowns at taking time off. Even when on vacation, the emails don’t stop, and some people expect a reply regardless of you being off duty.

That’s how last week was for me. Being disconnected was mostly out of my control due to lack of cell phone service, but what a blessing it was to disconnect for about 95 percent of my day each day.

A wise person said last week, as we were talking about rest and the importance of it, “It’s a lot harder to focus on and hear God when your mind is blurred with being tired and needing rest.”

I had never thought of it that way, but once I thought about our conversation more, I wholeheartedly agree with what my friend said.

Yes, it is our duty to make time for God, regardless of how busy we are; we should never be too busy for God. However, don’t you have an easier time carving that specific time with God out of your schedule when you feel adequately rested?

As a mother of a nearly one-year-old, rest can seem like a foreign concept to me at times. Long gone are the days where my husband and I sleep eight hours or more a night. But I asked myself, as I marveled at all the things I got to do that I don’t normally do during our time off, why don’t I normally get to do these things?

So, whether you get to go somewhere fun on family vacation, or you just take a long weekend with the family, some things I told myself that I could do to find rest in my daily routine are:

  1. Put my cell phone down. I know I’m not the only person with this problem, but especially late at night when I lay in bed, I’ll mindlessly scroll through social media newsfeeds that I’ve consumed enough of during the day. Without cell service inside the cabin where we were sleeping, I found myself spending more time with God, more time in prayer, reading more books and going to bed earlier.
  2. Get to bed. This one is hard, because many times, after I put my little one down for bed, I do house work that I don’t have time for while he’s awake. But admittedly, I could still get to bed earlier if I were more diligent with my time. Getting to bed earlier would do a lot to increase my day-to-day amount of rest.
  3. Turn off the television. Are all of these suggestions super “Millennial” of me? I’m not sure, but sometimes after a long day at work, and a full evening of caring for my son, I like to watch a show or two. Whether it’s a funny show that I have watched a million times through (The Office or Parks and Recreation) or a new crime-documentary, I would probably do better to shut the T.V. off and do something around the house or just go to bed.
  4. Read for fun. I did a lot of reading just for fun last week, and it was during times where, if I had had cell phone service, I would have been scrolling through my phone. Instead, I dove into one of my favorite fiction series and allowed my mind to explore a magical world full of fun and exploration. A lot of times I feel like I have to be reading something “productive” or some sort of book that teaches me something. That’s not always the case. Have some fun with your reading. You’ll find what I did, that you will reach for a book more often than you may reach for your phone.

These are just a few things I noticed about why I enjoyed my time off last week. Of course, the biggest source of joy came from spending time with my family, in a Christ-filled environment, surrounded by friends.

I encourage you to try and do some of the above mentioned things and see how it refreshes your soul and offers your mind the chance to rest.

Millennial Monday: To the volunteers at Church, thank you

Millennial Monday: How becoming a mom changed my relationship with God

Yesterday we all celebrated the mothers in our lives. Whether biological, adopted, no longer with us, new mothers or someone who has taken the initiative to treat you like their own child regardless of DNA, we can all agree our Moms deserve a trophy.

Something I admire about my own mom is how in every part of her life, whether she intends to or not, you can see Jesus.

You can see Jesus in how she works for others, never wanting anything in return. You can see Jesus in the mercy she bestows upon those who by the world’s standards should receive harsh judgment. You see Jesus through the way she intentionally spends time and listens to the people by whom she is surrounded. The list goes on.

There are other women in my life who I am thankful for the role of mother that they played in the lives of those I love.

My mother-in-law Kimberley raised a caring and compassionate man who works hard and respects those around him. She also taught Casey to do his own laundry (score!). I am eternally grateful for her and blessed to call her Silas’ Memaw.

My Grams, who raised my mom, is a fierce soldier for Christ. I have always said she has a direct line to Jesus, because when she prays, there is no mountain that can’t be moved. She is strong, and she has gone through two husbands dying, yet her faith stands firm. She is unshakable and I hope to be just like her.

My sisters and sisters-in-law that raise my nieces and nephews are some of the strongest and most intelligent women I know. It takes grit and determination to raise children, and I see proof of that every day through the lives of my sisters/sisters-in-law.

But what I have learned since becoming a mother, which I couldn’t fully grasp before embarking on this journey 10 months ago, is about God’s unconditional love and the sacrifice he made for us when He sent His Son to Calvary’s hill.

My favorite things about myself are that I am a child of God, Casey’s wife and especially that I am Silas’ mama. I never knew how my heart would grow once I became a mom. My heart swells with pride and joy as I spend time with Silas and experience him growing and learning new things.

Nothing that Silas could do would make me not love him. In these first 10 months of his life there have been hard times, starting with bringing him into this world, to utterly exhausting times, when I never thought I would sleep through the night again. Even still, I love him so powerfully I feel Iike I could burst at times.

This is only a fraction of how God loves us, and that is how my relationship with the Lord changed — once I began to understand how a parent loves their children. His only Son, Jesus, was offered as a living sacrifice to make up for the sins and faults of the rest of his children, all of mankind.

I wouldn’t trade Silas for the world, but that’s exactly what God did. He traded His only Son for the world…so that we could have freedom from our sins and join Them in heaven one day. The thought of that kind of sacrifice astounds me, and makes me shutter in reverence for the God who calls me his daughter.

What an incredible gift and the ultimate meaning of love:

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

Millennial Monday: To the volunteers at Church, thank you

Millennial Monday: Something I’ve learned since becoming a mom

I will celebrate my first Mother’s Day as a mom this coming Sunday. Words really escape me when it comes to describing, in its entirety, what being a mom now means to me. However, I will try to elaborate, in what will be a two-part Mother’s Day series of blogs. My next post, next Monday, will be about the Moms in my life, and it’ll be good, so stick with me.

The first thing I had to learn about being a mom was that it is no longer about me. Some people might hear that and run the other direction, because who wants to fully die to themselves and exist to wait hand and foot on someone else?

I’m not sure if anyone else has ever looked at their own mom and just marveled at how selfless and sacrificial their love is, but I have asked myself many times, why are moms the way they are? Not only do they serve others without ceasing, but they really seem to love it.

This is one of the things I have learned. It started when I first learned I was pregnant. I began to make decisions, based on what would be best for the tiny life growing inside me, that I wouldn’t have made before.

Silas made his presence known with 15 weeks of nausea, which meant nothing about how I did things daily was the same anymore. I stopped drinking coffee because I didn’t want caffeine to be a factor in his first trimester of growth. I couldn’t go a full day without a nap due to how exhausted I was—note my previous statement, coffee would have been super helpful.

I was learning early-on, that this was no longer just about me. It was about us, and what surprised me was I wanted it to be that way. It’s not like I’ve completely forgotten about myself as an individual or ceased to exist outside of my life as a mom—I would advise against that actually.

What I mean is that I finally understand the answer to my question—why are moms the way that they are?

There is nothing I love more these days than spending time with my little family. I’ve said no to more social gatherings with friends than I ever have. I am admittedly an extrovert who loves to be where the people are for the most part, but since having Silas, there is no place I would rather be than sitting on our living room floor watching him explore, or feeding him pasta and listening to him smack his little gums. What may look mundane to others brings me huge amounts of joy.

I know I will continue to learn more and more why moms are the way they are for the rest of my life, but I feel like the short answer to that question is because of joy.

Being with Silas, serving Silas, seeing Silas happy, seeing him grow and learn new things, even watching him sleep—everything about my sweet boy brings me joy. I can’t help but think if I can have this much joy watching my son grow, how Mary must have felt when she gave birth to and raised Jesus, the Savior of the world.

It was no longer about her, she was now a part of a much bigger picture—which is something I think all moms can say they feel when it comes to being a mom—we’re all now part of a much bigger picture than ourselves.