Category Archives: Random

Children’s Ministry: Let’s Talk Vision

redyelloworangeThis past summer, I took on a Director role in the Preschool Ministry at our church. It’s a volunteer position that mostly works with coordinating volunteers to serve as teachers and helpers. God has taught me SO much through this ministry already! But, like any ministry, the blessings don’t come without their own unique challenges. And summertime is notoriously a hard time for volunteers to stay committed–between vacations and summer colds, job changes, relocations and plain ol’ exhaustion from the school year. People need breaks. (That’s why God created rest after all, right?!)

On top of that, our church is in the transition of welcoming a new pastor (whom we love, by the way)! But transition periods are hard for many people–most of us, actually, if we’re honest with ourselves. And some families decide to either step back from ministry or change ministries (or churches) altogether during these transition seasons. And that’s always hard…and a little discouraging. But God is sovereign and bigger than any transition or season! And I’m convinced He provides in every way–including volunteers in kids’ ministry!

My husband and I got married at this church. We’ve been members of this church since before we were married–and we’ve been serving in various aspects of the children’s ministry since shortly after that–about 10 years now. I grew up serving in children’s ministry at my home church; it was a small church and everyone served somewhere–it was just expected. But the church we’re in now is a rather large church, and it’s easy to think you’re not needed. That is far from reality!

Last week, our Children’s Ministry Director asked me to talk to the parents and volunteers about the Vision of Children’s Ministry in our Annual Preschool Meeting. And I thought I’d share it here as well. So, with no further ado, let’s talk vision! We started with prayer that God would raise up more disciple-makers for our children, that they may see and know Jesus. Then I shared My Top 5 Reasons for (or Benefits of) Being a Part of Children’s Ministry:

5. To Develop Friendships and “Frientorships”!

Working in children’s ministry has been a great place to get to know whole families–parents, siblings, cousins. It’s about making connections. We have developed some really neat gospel relationships by teaching in the kids’ ministry. And I’ve learned so much from so many of these brothers and sisters. I’ve learned prayer requests and heard praises from both kids and parents, prayed with and for them, and rejoiced as God grows and unites us together by His grace.

On top of that, we’ve gotten to know our co-laborers. Some of our best friends have come from serving side-by-side, week-after-week, year-after-year in the kids’ ministry. One example is a godly Christian couple who oversaw the upper elementary age volunteers (when we worked with that age group years ago). This couple became our mentors (or “frientors,” as I call them). They’re the people who came to the hospital the day our son arrived; they’re the people who brought us diapers every time we met for coffee or lunch or a walk; they’re the ones that text us just to say they’re praying or asking how we’re doing; they’re the people we can call at 10PM and say, “We don’t know what to do; we really need to talk.” And they’ll say, “Come on over!” without hesitation.

If you’re struggling because you feel like the older women or men in your church aren’t interested in Titus 2 mentoring, consider serving alongside them in the children’s ministry. Or ask them to serve alongside you in the children’s ministry. The “frientorships” will happen! Not overnight, and not with every person you serve next to, but God loves to build redemptive relationships in His body!

4. To Disciple the Next Generation!

One of our pastors has a saying, “Be one. Make one.” He’s talking about discipling. Be a disciple. Make a disciple. If we each are being discipled by one person and make a disciple of one person, the significance is astounding! How many of us have prayed over babies during their baby dedications? Which of those kids are we currently involved in discipling? Are you still praying for those parents?

Please don’t miss out on the GREAT JOY of seeing these kids trust Christ, get baptized, and grow up into Christ-followers! Not long ago, there was a baptism service at our church with nearly a dozen kids, along with a handful of adults. We had tears of joy running down our cheeks because we had taught so many of these kids over the years. It’s amazing to see God working in their lives, calling them to Himself! Most of these kids we taught and mentored before we ever had kids (our only son is about 2 1/2). You don’t have to be a parent to disciple kids–Paul spoke of Titus, Timothy, and Onesimus as his “children in the faith.” III John 1:4 says, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in truth.” I don’t think this only applies to biological or adopted children.

3. To see EACH child as created in HIS image and that He loves each one!

41nezvx4ljl-_sy398_bo1204203200_God has a Big Plan to REDEEM these little ones! This is a big concept in the It’s Just a Phase: So Don’t Miss It! book by Reggie Joiner and Kristen Ivy. This book is full of great illustrations and big concepts of how to use each phase for the glory of God in our kids’ lives. Let’s be honest. Some phases are more fun than others. But doesn’t God often use the hard and dark times to grow us even more than the easy ones?! And some kids have more challenging times than others, it seems; but don’t let that deter you from loving them. Remember, we are all unlovable sometimes, and YET…God still loves us because we are created in His image!

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Psalm 78:1-7 has been a huge encouragement this past summer, and I’ve claimed it as my Children’s Ministry passage of the year. It talks about the command to share the “glorious deeds of the Lord,” the promises and principles of God, “his might and the wonders he has done,” from generation to generation to generation. And the whole purpose is that our kids might know God and fix their hope in God,  that they might not forget (but always remember) His works and commandments, and share them with future generations.

 

 

2. To Learn about Jesus on a DEEPER Level!

This might sound counter-intuitive. Teaching kids is simpler, not deeper, right?! Yes, and no. When you teach, you actually learn the material better. And kids will ask you really crazy questions, so be ready! It’s okay if you don’t know every answer–sometimes you have to say, “I don’t know. Let me try to find out and let you know next week,” or “Um. I’m not sure. Why don’t you ask your dad at lunch today?” They definitely keep us on our toes and push us to dig deeper in pursuing Jesus.

Helping with children’s ministry has taught me so much, especially when it comes to being a parent. Our Children’s Ministry Director posts regular tips, resources, and application prompts on social media that encourage us to have a consistent, biblical philosophy at home. In other words, serving in children’s ministry helps me be a more Gospel-filled parent, reminding me to speak of Christ when we sit and walk, when we lie down and rise, at the table and in the tub, at the park or grocery store, at…well, you get it (see Deut. 6:1-7).

Finally, and this may be the biggest reason…

1. To Worship God!

Worship is giving a BIG VIEW of God and His glory! We worship something all the time, in the simplest of acts. Depending on the moment, we might be worshiping God, or we might be worshiping our families, our phones or TV shows, our work, but we all worship something. Worship doesn’t have to only happen by listening to a sermon or being part of a “worship team” on a stage during a song service.

Children’s Ministry IS worship too! Yes, you can worship God by coloring papers, building block towers and playing with Legos, by clapping and singing about how great and big our God is! We get to worship God alongside co-laborers and kids every week, keeping Jesus on our lips, that they might see and savor Jesus for themselves! And we get to see the wonder of God and discover new aspects of His glory as we see their eyes light up, understanding Truth for the first time! It truly is an amazing privilege! We’re not missing it; we’re joining in!

Psalm 95:1-7a says, “Oh come, let us sing to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation! [2] Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise! [3] For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. [4] In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also. [5] The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land. [6] Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! [7] For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand” (ESV).

Would you come worship God by serving in your Children’s Ministry and discipling the next generation? I hope you will! One thing’s for sure: you will not regret it! There are so many reasons and benefits of working with kids, but it’s not just about the kids. Ultimately, it’s about God. And working with little image-bearers is a great way to see God’s heart for rescuing us and calling us to repentance and a life of faith because of His “wonderful, never-stopping, never-giving-up, unbreaking, always-and-forever love” (Sally Lloyd-Jones, The Jesus Storybook Bible).

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If you’re interested in more on this topic, I’ve been encouraged by some really good articles about why we need to stop recruiting every warm body to work in children’s ministry and instead incite passion and vision for the next generation. Here are some examples:

Finally, here’s a clip of Melissa J. MacDonald’s Keynote at the CPC17 conference about not quitting children’s ministry. Yes! A thousand times, YES! Do not lose heart! Do not quit! Do not let Satan win! Be a disciple, make a disciple with the next generation! Our kids are worth it to Jesus!

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Thy Will Be Done, Lord!

In a season of life where we have seen so much suffering and death and hurt in the lives of friends, in the loss of loved ones, in insults and injuries of various kinds, this song is a breath of fresh air.

I know God is good, but sometimes life really hurts. Thankful there is hope in Jesus and in seeing these loved ones again–but still so much pain in this broken world. Praying for that peace that passes understanding when life really doesn’t make sense. Thy will be done, Lord.

Music video by Hillary Scott & The Scott Family performing Thy Will. (C) 2016 EMI Records Nashville.

“I’m so confused;
I know I heard you loud and clear.
So, I followed through;
Somehow I ended up here.
I don’t wanna think
I may never understand
That my broken heart is a part of your plan.
When I try to pray,
All I’ve got is hurt and these four words:

“Thy will be done;
Thy will be done;
Thy will be done.

“I know you’re good,
But this don’t feel good right now.
And I know you think
Of things I could never think about.
It’s hard to count it all joy,
Distracted by the noise.
Just trying to make sense
Of all your promises.
Sometimes I gotta stop,
Remember that you’re God
And I am not.

“So, Thy will be done;
Thy will be done;
Thy will be done.

“Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is:
Thy will be done;
Thy will be done;
Thy will.

“I know you see me.
I know you hear me, Lord.
Your plans are for me;
Goodness you have in store.
I know you hear me;
I know you see me, Lord.
Your plans are for me;
Good news you have in store.

“So, thy will be done;
Thy will be done;
Thy will be done.

“Like a child on my knees all that comes to me is:
Thy will be done;
Thy will be done;
Thy will be done.
I know you see me;
I know you hear me, Lord.”

Songwriters

BERNIE HERMS, HILLARY SCOTT, EMILY LYNN WEISBAND

Published by
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group

Book Review: Humble Roots – How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul by Hannah Anderson

Anderson, Hannah. Humble Roots: How Humility Grounds and Nourishes Your Soul. Chicago: Moody P, 2016. 513mja5ds-l-_sx326_bo1204203200_

I was privileged to be a part of the Humble Roots Launch Team this year, which means I got a free copy (and some other goodies to share) in exchange for writing a review. I finally got a chance to read this on a trip I took this fall…and I couldn’t put it down! I read nearly half on the flight to my destination, read every free second I had on the trip, and finished it on the flight home. It was the perfect length!

Maybe it’s the fact that God moved our family to the country this year, or that I had just planted my first garden at the new house, or that He’s been working on my own humility and being grounded in the Word this past year already, but this book was probably the best book I’ve read all year (and I’ve read quite a few).

Hannah uses horticulture analogies, Scripture, and relevant quotes from historic and current authors to weave together a beautiful manuscript of God’s grace in bringing her to a walk of humility as a wife of a pastor in rural Virginia and a young mom. I loved it! Every chapter is filled with beautifully descriptive analogies of food and wine, farming and horticulture–wonderful gifts of our good, good Father!

I found myself relating to Hannah, and feeling like she was sitting next to me, telling me her story (instead of me just reading it). And the message resonated with me–the message that it’s not about me, but it’s All about Him who called me to His marvelous light and is laying the groundwork, preparing the way, and tilling the soil of my soul.

I underlined quote after quote and copied the quotes out onto pages and pages in my journal, and it’s hard to narrow down my favorite parts, because there are so many! But I’ll try to share a few:

“Failure at small things…reminds us of how helpless we are in this great, wide world. When little things spiral out of control, they remind us that even they were never within our control in the first place. … Jesus understood this…when He called the people of Galilee to leave their anxiety–when He calls us to do the same–He does so in context of mundane, very ordinary concerns” (26).

“Left to itself, a field will quickly become overgrown with weeds, the soil will settle and harden, and changes in weather will make it rocky. Hardly a hospitable environment for tender roots and sprouts” (33). “Jesus isn’t calling us to shoulder an extra burden; He is calling us to exchange a heavy burden for a lighter one” (35).

“When we believe that with enough effort, enough organization, or enough commitment, we can fix things that are broken, we set ourselves in God’s place. And when we do, we reap stress, restlessness, and anxiety. Instead of submitting to His yoke, we break it and run wild, trampling the very ground we are meant to cultivate” (42).

“When we are consumed with God’s glory, we forget to worry about our own. When our eyes are fixed on Him as the source of all goodness and truth and beauty, we accept that we are not. When we are enamoured by His worth and majesty, we can stop being so enamoured with ourselves. And fascinatingly, when we seek God’s glory, we’ll be able to appreciate it in the people around us. Instead of seeing them as threats to our own glory, we will see them as beautiful reflections of His” (76).

“Ultimately, by silencing the cacophony of emotion,  humility frees you to hear God’s call and leads you to a place of both rest and flourishing” (110).

“Because ‘God is greater than your heart’ [qtd. I John 3.20], you can trust Him to care for you when your heart breaks through disappointment or suffering. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ you can trust Him to rejoice with you in times of joy and success. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ you can trust Him to correct and lead you through doubt and fear. Because ‘God is greater than your heart,’ He can handle  the depth of your emotions. He is not afraid of them, and as you bring them back to Him, you shouldn’t be afraid of them either. In this sense, humility does not shut down your inner life; humility redeems it” (114).

“But the world is a complicated, nuanced, unpredictable place, and easy answers aren’t sustainable. In fact, the world is so mixed-up and broken, so complicated, that the only one who can lead us through it is God Himself. Instead of seeking certainty, we must teach them [our children] to follow Jesus in the mist of uncertainty” (131).

“It is precisely the fact that our resources do not belong to us–that they have been given to us by our good, kind Master–that frees us to take risks. When everything is gift and when we learn to trust the Giver of those gifts, we learn a kind of humility that makes us fearless and productive” (148).

“Pride, on the other hand, demands to know God’s will before it will act. It balks and haults and refuses to move until success is guaranteed” (159).

“God only reveals the course of our lives one step at a time. God only makes our paths straight before us with each step of faith. God does not offer us a map so much as a promise to guide us on the journey” (160).

I hope you will pick up a copy of Humble Roots and not just read it, but savor every morsel and be refreshed by the truths it contains, as you continue on your own journey of humility and grace, knowing that you are not alone on this journey.

Unshakable Moms–Just Be Held

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Last week, I came across this Reading Plan on YouVersion.com. It was a huge blessing to me. And it’s good for those who aren’t moms too…if you know a mom…or you’re struggling with insecurities, this is a great 6 day reading plan. I challenge you to read the whole chapter of Scripture instead of just the couple of verses on the daily reading to get fuller context and deepen your time in the Word.

Some of my favorite quotes from the devotionals:

“So often, I set my feet upon my circumstances. It’s easy to do, because we naturally make agreements with what we can touch and see. …But we’re not called to live by human nature. We are called to walk by the Spirit, and in order to do that we have to stand on a sure foundation. One that’s been tested and approved. One we know won’t ever be shaken by the quaking and shifting of life. If we stand on what we can see with human eyes, we will constantly shift with an ever changing world. That’s not a life anchored in Jesus. …He is the security we are called to build our lives upon.”

“If you want to be an unshakable, joyful, kingdom building mom, you need only follow Jesus. He is the expert, and He’s already carried the burden upon His shoulders. Breathe deeply of His grace today and walk confidently knowing He is building something incredible in you.”

“Sometimes life feels like those precious toddler masterpieces that hang (or once hung) on your refrigerator; a myriad of colorful scribbles. It’s pretty, but it’s hard to make out what it’s supposed to be. It’s wild and tenacious and a little overwhelming. Even the best and most fruitful seasons can catch you off guard. …It is so comforting and so hopeful to know that no matter the season, one thing will always remain True. One thing will never change. Jesus is the Trustworthy Rock you can lean on. …When all you see are scribbles on a page, He sees the finished masterpiece. Don’t lean on your own finite understanding. Trust His infinite wisdom. Lean on His Everlasting Love.”

“We’ve been talking about building an unshakable foundation. One that can stand the test of time, that is built firmly on the word of God. But are you safeguarding for when the storms come? Because it’s inevitable, the storms of life will come. It’s easy to say you’re unshakable when all is well, but we know that storms are coming or maybe you’re in one now. …Are you ready to stand fearless in your storm? Stand firm in the beautiful truth that Christ has already conquered them all!”

I was challenged to dig deeper into the Word now, building my foundation in Christ and His Word, so that as life gets messy and shaky, intense and insecure–as it inevitably will in this fallen world–that foundation will be able to be unshakable.

I heard this song on the radio several times over the last week, while I was reading this study, and it seemed to fit perfectly:

“Just Be Held” by Casting Crowns (emphasis added to key phrases that stuck out to me)

“Hold it all together;
Everybody needs you strong;
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on.

And when you’re tired of fighting,
Chained by your control,
There’s freedom in surrender;
Lay it down and let it go.

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away,
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held.
Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place.
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held,
Just be held, just be held.

If your eyes are on the storm,
You’ll wonder if I love you still;
But if your eyes are on the cross,
You’ll know I always have and I always will.

And not a tear is wasted.
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes.
Your life is in My hands.

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away,
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held.
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place.
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held,
Just be held, just be held.

Lift your hands, lift your eyes.
In the storm is where you’ll find Me.
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart.
I’ll hold your heart.
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who won’t let go.

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away,
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held.
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place.
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held (stop holding on and just be held),
Just be held, just be held, just be held, just be held.”

To be unshakable, we must be willing to release control and surrender our lives to the Sovereign Jesus. Easier said than done, I know. But He’s in control anyway, and striving to control the details of life is ultimately futile. And there is rest and peace and joy and freedom in leaving everything–big and small–in the hands of our good and gracious Father. May you find that freedom in His unshakable foundation today.

Pumpkin Pasta Party

 This past Saturday, we had several young families over for a Pumpkin Pasta Party! We set up tables for the kids (and their grownups) to decorate pumpkins–complete with paints and brushes, stickers, etc. (and carving knives available upon request). It was so much fun to have a pumpkin for every person!  In the gazebo, we had a large Crockpot full of Pumpkin Chorizo Soup with oyster crackers and cilantro, a fresh romaine salad with sliced beets, black olives and goat cheese, crackers and a cheeseball with pomegranate, and an antipasta tray. We had chilled Golden Apple Punch and hot Maple Pumpkin Lattes (pretty good, except for the last couple of cups where the pumpkin had settled). And for dessert, there were Pumpkin Pecan Muffins with cream cheese frosting. 

 There were a lot of children, so we chose to have no schedule and just let it be a relaxing time to mingle and fellowship. We started around 3:30 in the afternoon with all the munchies; then around 6:30, we rolled out fresh pasta and taught everyone how to make tortellinis. We had cheese, spinach, and pumpkin fillings and pumpkin alfredo and tomato basil sauces to choose from.  

 Finally, we pulled out the old wood stove and roasted marshmallows. It was so much fun to celebrate fall with friends and family, good weather and great food! Kyle had so much fun that he wiped out right in the middle of the kitchen with 25 people making noise all around him. He was so sweet all day and God was so gracious to give him good nap times so we could get everything pulled together for the party! Hoping we can make this an annual event!  
We had so much fun hosting this Pumpkin Pasta Party. It was a little different theme than I’ve seen before, but it really worked! Have you thrown a fall party? What’s your favorite fall party idea?

A Coffee Chat…

I’m sitting in a Panera with a cup of coffee and a cherry pastry, since there’s no wifi setup in the new house yet. Let me back up a bit. The house sold…unbelievably fast and well. And we’re settling into the house-sitting gig across town. So far, so good. Kyle is adjusting. He woke up around 4:30AM for the first week in his new room–not fussy, just smiling and ready to play! Not sure if it was the new house or just the development phase he’s growing through, but at least he wasn’t upset and went back down rather quickly. And I’m actually enjoying my morning commute–about 20 minutes instead of 5, but it helps me collect my thoughts (and get through my first cup of coffee for the day).

It was weird leaving the house for the last time and handing over the keys–it was our first family home, and the place we brought our first baby home to from the hospital. We painted literally every room in the house (even some that we built from the ground up). And now we wait and search for where God might lead us next.

Farmers Market Friends

This morning, I woke up to the coos and chatter of an almost five month old (such a sweetheart!). I fed him, grabbed some coffee, and we headed over to the Travelers Rest Farmers Market (a local favorite) to check out the various booths, food trucks, and live music. We met our friends Rachel and Lucy, and enjoyed walking around before heading over to the shade of the outdoor amphitheater to eat our Circa Doughnuts! Today’s flavors were Lavender Lemon and Early Grey with Charred Grapefruit. The grapefruit was our favorite! 

I also picked up some artisan Gouda cheese made from local raw milk, melons, and a cute little succulent for an upcoming birthday gift for someone. Rachel found some cute handmade earrings, fresh lettuce, and some fresh pastas and sauce for a quick meal later this week. 

I am finally starting to work on menu plans again, and I was looking forward to at least one more watermelon-feta salad this season. They were sold out of watermelon at the store this week, so I was excited to find this mammoth watermelon at the market–super sweet and only $5, plus it makes a great baby footrest.  If you haven’t checked it out, the TR Farmers Market is off of Highway 25, just outside of downtown TR, and open Saturdays 9 AM to 1 PM. For the perfect morning, bring some cash (not all vendors take card) and a cooler to fill with Farmers Market finds, then jump on over to the Swamp Rabbit Trail for a morning walk! Have a great weekend!

Recent Readings and Reflections…

I have don’t a lot of writing recently, but I have been doing a little more reading. So, I wanted to share some articles that I’ve been reading recently. Warning: many of these are hot topics in the Christian world today, and some are uncomfortable, but in order to preach the full counsel of God, we are forced to deal with the hard topics too.

My friend Holly Stratton recently wrote, “The world is changing fast, and we need God to fill us with a love for Christ that is strong enough not to be left in the dust w/ our petty preferences. We need ministry leaders who are too driven by gospel conviction & Spirit power to be hindered by fear that they’re not honoring the preferences of others. Not leaders who don’t care what others think, but leaders who care deeply what others think. Humble leaders who care enough to boldly & confidently call for a self-forgetfulness that doesn’t allow the demanding of one’s own way. We may not like change, but we’ll dislike irrelevance even more. For the glory of God, let’s move.” (Author’s Note: “Relevant: related, pertinent, connected, applicable. The gospel is always relevant. Always. Ministries & people, however, are continually faced with decisions within the bounds of sound doctrine & biblical authority that can needlessly render them irrelevant.”)

One interesting article, along those lines, that a friend shared was “Keeping Young Fundamentalists in the Camp” by Jeff Amsbaugh. Amsbaugh writes, “My heart is not to eradicate the fundamental movement but to correct the abuses of it. These words are offered as a friend from within, not an enemy from without. But if the caricature of fundamentalism that we have presented is not replaced with an authentic model, my fear is that we will lose even more young preachers in the coming days. And though part of it may be attributable to the ‘coming apostasy,’ a good portion of it may be because of the raging lunacy. God help us to keep the baby but get rid of the bath water, for the bath water is indeed dirty.”

One of the more difficult topics I’ve been studying is homosexuality. It’s been a taboo topic for too long, and lots of young people, especially, are struggling with same sex attraction. It’s time we came alongside them, empathized as fellow sinners, and showed grace and hope for change by conformity to the Word of God. Here’s an article that gives one perspective: “When Two Lesbians Walk into a Church Seeking Trouble” (an excerpt from John Burke’s book, Mud and the Masterpiece: Seeing Yourself and Others Through the Eyes of Jesus). Burke says, “Do you realize that Jesus is not shocked by the shocking things people do?” He gives examples of Christ dealing with Zaccheus, the Samaritan woman, and Simon the Pharisee, and goes on to say, “It’s all about love! Don’t miss this very critical point Jesus makes to us all: If you truly recognize how much it cost God to forgive you, it will flood your heart with love for God and others who need more of the same;” and again, “It’s all about love! Not a love that ignores the mud and the damage that destroys God’s Masterpiece, but a love that recognizes how much loving mercy God has given a messed-up person like me! … That great love brings grace and truth together to give hope to a broken world in need of forgiveness and restoration.”

Another topic is modesty, and Jefferson Bethke wrote an interesting articled called “The Idolatry of Modesty.” Regardless of what you might think of Bethke, he makes some good points in this article. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Above that though, bring glory to God through your clothes. Dress in such a way that points to your Savior and Creator, not yourself. … Remember that clothes (and the attitude that puts on those clothes) are simply an outflow of what’s in the heart. … So, ladies, let our Savior’s grace, rather than your righteousness, be exalted through your dress.”

And yet another topic I’ve been thinking about is marriage.  I read an article called, “What You Really Need in Marriage” by Mark Altrogge. Altrogge says, “Our culture is extremely self-oriented. We are continually bombarded by messages that tell us we need greater self-esteem. We begin to think, I need to do this for me, I need to be validated, I need to feel good about myself, I need to think about my desires for a change, etc.”

Often we convince ourselves that our desires, wishes, wants, and even lusts are actually needs. It’s an easy error to make, especially in an “It’s-all-about-you” culture. But it’s important to constantly go back to the word…ground yourself…intentionally…to know what God says is really a need.

Speaking of intentionality and marriage, one couple had a brilliant idea that I read about in an article by Sarah Lang, called “A Slower Cup“: “A couple reflects on the slow and methodical brewing technique [of coffee] that allows them to spend time together and offers a relaxed start to their day.” What a great way to start the day…slow, intentional, and calm! Lang writes, “A beverage as alluring, delicious and influential as coffee should be savored.” I couldn’t agree more. And whether you take time to savor a quiet, slow cup of coffee (or tea) with your spouse or your Savior or both, make it intentional and enjoy the moment.

Photographs by Chantelle Grady

And while we’re on the topic of slowing down and being intentional, I read two articles by Leslie Ludy called, “Running on Empty and Refueling Our Souls” and “When Your Soul Needs Rest.” I’m working on being more intentional about refreshing and refueling my otherwise empty soul. Ludy says, “Taking time away to refresh and refuel should flow from a motive of becoming even stronger and more equipped to serve Jesus Christ—not simply to ‘escape’ from the responsibilities of serving and godly living. … Instead of looking to the empty allurements of the world to find the refreshment we seek, may we remember that He alone is the One who can fulfill us, revive us, and meet our every need.”

Sometimes we allow our culture to dictate our beliefs, instead of the other way around. And sometimes we allow lies to creep in. Other times, we make excuses for our sin, or expect perfection instead of the process of sanctification. I’ve been reminded over and over again recently of Micah 6:8, “He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” (NKJV). And the prayer of my heart is that I would focus on those three things. That I would be intentional about doing the next right thing. That I would love mercy and grace and love and truth. And that above all, I would walk humbly…not in conceit or pride or biting or devouring (Galatians 5, again), but that I would walk in reality of my depravity and the greatness of God’s saving grace that is both humbling and awe-inspiring.

Finally, I want to share two songs that have meant a lot to me recently. The first is one of my favorite songs, “Before the Throne of God Above.” It was a special part of our Baltic Musical Mission Team in 2003! Guitar, flute, and a bunch of crazy Americans singing their lungs out for Jesus on street corners and buses, in churches, schools, and hospitals, in Poland and Latvia. And it’s as powerful today as it was then.
When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin
Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me
To look on Him and pardon me
 
[Verse 2 from “Before the Throne of God Above“; Original Words by Charitie Lees Bancroft (1841-1892), Alternate Words and Music by Vikki Cook]

And the second song is a new favorite “Across the Lands” (Townend/Getty):

May God give you grace to live intentionally, loving Him, loving others, doing justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with your God. Enjoy the journey, friends, and find rest in God alone along the way.

Wedding Flowers: Of Feathers and Faux

At this past weekend’s wedding, the bride made a special request for synthetic flowers due to various familial allergy issues. And I accepted the challenge. I had several guests comment that they had to feel the flowers because they didn’t believe they weren’t real. She wanted yellow roses and white calla lilies, and since the bridesmaids were wearing teal, we pulled all the colors together with peacock feathers! Here’s a sample:

Bride and Groom

Bride and Groom

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Cake Decorations

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Up close of Cake Decor

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Reception Tables with Cake Decor

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Reception Centerpieces (the groom hand crafted and polished the wood rounds under the vases).

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A special “Grandparents’ Arrangement” to honor each grandparent who couldn’t be there.

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A closer look at the Grandparents’ Arrangement

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Tossing Bouquet (a smaller version of the bridal bouquet)

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Corsage

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Mother of the Bride’s Corsage

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Boutonnieres (the only difference for the groom’s was a silver ribbon, to match the bride’s bouquet)

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Adorable Flower Girl

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A closer look at the Flower Girl’s Basket

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Bridesmaids carried 3 simple long stem roses (the groom also handcrafted the bridesmaids’ necklaces!)

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Choir rail of greenery and dogwoods with candles

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A closer look at the choir rail at the front of the church

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Tulle Pew Hangers with glittered teal stems and peacock feathers, wrapped with a silver ribbon to coordinate with the bride and groom

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Another Corsage

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One more Corsage

If you’re in the Greenville, South Carolina area and would like more information about having customized flower arrangements created for your special day, contact us at TheArtisanHoneybee@gmail.com.

Wedding Flowers: Rustic Elegance

This weekend, I had the opportunity to do flowers for our good friends Ben & Ashley’s wedding. It was a beautiful setting at the Lodge at Table Rock State Park, and the flowers were so much fun to work with–full of natural beauty and rustic charm, just like their backdrop. So thankful that the snow and ice cleared up to make this beautiful day possible. Bryan and I were able to get some really nice pictures, so here’s a look at the day.

The Bride and Groom

Bridal Bouquet

Bridal Bouquet with Burlap and Lace – Blush Spray Roses, Pink and Plum Ranunculus, Lavender Stems, Waxflowers, Button Mums, White Hydrangea, Summer Pinks, Silver Brunia, Pink Astilbe, Purple Stock and Snapdragons, Blush Larkspur, White Alstromeria, Globe Thistles, and Heather

Bridal Crown of Waxflowers and Summer Pinks

Bridal Crown of Waxflowers and Summer Pinks

The Beautiful Bride, Ashley

The Beautiful Bride, Ashley with a closer look at her bouquet and crown – she could not have been more beautiful (or more happy) – some even said she looked “as gorgeous as an elven princess” – and I agree*

Congratulations, Ben & Ashley!

Congratulations, Ben & Ashley! What a beautiful wedding! God has truly done an amazing work in and through each of you, and I can’t wait to see how He will use you together as a couple for His glory in the days and years to come! We love you!*

The Lodge at Table Rock

Guestbook arrangements

Guestbook table arrangements of White Hydrangea and Lavender Sprigs

The Ceremony

The Ceremony (one of Ashley’s friends did the tulle and arrangement over the fireplace, as well as the reception hall decorations)*

The Bridal Party

Bouquets

Lovely ladies with their lovely bouquets on the bridge outside the lodge*

Bridesmaid's Bouquet

Bridesmaid’s Bouquet – White Hydrangea, Cream and Blush Spray Roses, Pink Astilbe, Heather, Purple Stock and Snapdragons, Plum Button Mums, Globe Thistles and Sprigs of Lavender, wrapped in burlap

Bridal Party at Table Rock State Park

Bridal Party at Table Rock State Park*

Boutonnieres and Corsages

Grandma's Corsage

Corsage of White Larkspur, Blush Spray Roses, Plum Ranunculus, White Alstromeria, Waxflower and Sprigs of Lavender

Boutonnieres

The Boutonnieres for the guys featured Globe Thistles, Silver Brunia, Lavender, and Fresh Mint and Sage Leaves, wrapped in burlap*

Mother of the Groom's Corsage

Mother of the Groom’s Corsage – Plum Ranunculus, White Alstromeria, Cream Spray Roses, Waxflower and Sprigs of Lavender

Mother of the Bride's Corsage

Mother of the Bride’s Corsage – Pink Ranunculus, Cream Spray Roses, White Alstromeria, Waxflower and Sprigs of Lavender with Burlap

Another corsage

Corsage of Plum Ranunculus, White Alstromeria, Waxflower and Lavender Sprigs

The Reception

The bride made this beautiful banner and garland, and I brought some extra flowers for her friend that decorations on site to fill in the garland.

The bride made this beautiful banner and garland, and I brought some extra flowers for her friend that did decorations on site to fill in the garland.*

Reception Food Tables

Reception Food Tables – arrangements featured White Hydrangea, Blush Spray Roses, Silver Brunia, White Alstromeria, Waxflower and Sprigs of Lavender

And, My Favorite, The Cake

Cake Swag and a Cloud of Baby's Breath

Last but certainly not least, a Floral Cake Swag and a Cloud Base of Baby’s Breath – featuring Pink and Plum Ranunculus, Blush Larkspur, Cream Spray Roses, Purple Stock and Snapdragons, Lavender Button Mums, Heather, Summer Pinks, White Alstromeria, Lavender Sprigs, and Fresh Mint and Sage Leaves*

If you are in the Greenville, South Carolina area and would like more information about floral arrangements for your next event, contact me at theartisanhoneybee@gmail.com.

(*Note: Pictures with an asterisk were taken by Bryan McKinnon; other pictures taken by Melissa McKinnon. All copyrights reserved.)