Monthly Archives: August 2014

Faves for Friday

Fridays are usually days of celebration for the general public, so I decided to get in the spirit and celebrate some of my favorite things from this week. Granted, we never know what day of the week it is around our house since my husband’s schedule is different from the rest of the world’s (24 hours on shift, 48 hours off). So maybe I’m writing this post in an attempt to get back in touch with the rest of the world’s obsession with TGIF….even though I’m actually writing this post on a Wednesday night. Or maybe I should just call these kinds of posts my “rambling posts” since that’s exactly what I’m doing. You’re welcome. Or I’m sorry. You pick whichever response you like.

  • I’m not really sure why I haven’t tried making my own frappes yet. I just haven’t. Until this week, that is. I tried this one, and it was pretty fantastic! I threw in a few chocolate chips before blending to make it more like the java chip frappe from Starbuck’s.
  • Did you see this post from Scary Mommy comparing Back to School today vs. the 1970s? I laughed out loud so much! The Internet has birthed some crazy notions in the minds of today’s parents, and I’m no exception. I’m thankful that God has given me a boy who balks at the cute, picture-perfect stuff so I’m constantly reminded to keep it simple and make it more about my kids and less about me. 😉
  • Speaking of kids, my daughter is already quite the shopper. We went to the mall to walk around this weekend, and when we let her out of her stroller to roam, she bolted to Forever 21. My heart was secretly quite proud. She was drawn in by the music because she LOVES to dance to whatever music she hears, but she stayed in because of the jewelry and shoes on display for her to adore and try on. I know the picture is blurry because she wouldn’t stand still due to all of the dancing and adoring of merchandise that needed to be done, but I kind of love this picture of her.

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  • While we’re on the subject of shoes at Forever 21, these are definitely winners in my book.

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  • And speaking of music to dance to, I can’t help but listen to Taylor Swift’s new single over, and over, and over again. I just can’t help it. I’m not a big fan of the twerking in the video because I think that kind of dancing is gross, but the lyrics need to be my anthem. Haters gonna hate, but I like that sick beat she’s gifted the world with. 😉
  • I read Elizabeth Esther’s book Girl at the End of the World in a day and a half this week. It’s an easy read in the sense that her writing style and the book’s length make it quick, but her accounts weren’t easy to read. I’ve been exposed to my fair share of fundamentalism taken to the extreme of legalism, so I could relate on a much less severe level with what kinds of things she has worked through to overcome it all and find freedom and a relationship with Jesus. She grew up in a cult-level fundamental group, and I was heartbroken several times for her. There was a time when I couldn’t have handled the book, but I’m at a place where I could empathize and get why she spoke so strongly at times. I’m glad she wrote it and have found myself mulling it over as I thank God for grace, freedom, and the ability He gives us to rise above our past if we let Him.
  • I’ve found myself applying this quote I came across on Pinterest several times over the last several days. So powerful. So true. LORD, help me to never forget it. (Don’t follow me on Pinterest but want to? Come join me where I spend much of my spare time.)

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  • This post called “What Love Never Does” by Emily Freeman was so good!
  • Getting my son to recount the events of his day at preschool is usually more complicated than thinking up a clever simile to put here. Except right now, of course, because I can’t think of a clever simile to put here. 🙂 Anyway, he doesn’t enjoy doing it, but he does enjoy me telling him stories about my childhood on the farm. This week, he started gathering toys from around his room to stand in and role play as I tell my stories. Here’s a picture of him holding my “family.” I’m a stuffed dog, my mom is a dinosaur, my dad is a fire fighter figurine, and my sister is a Ninja Turtle.

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Since he was so into that, I had him start telling me stories about his day at school using his toys as well. It’s going really well so far! I’m definitely getting more fiction than fact in his stories, but each day I catch him giving more details about what goes on in his classroom. We all win, and I love seeing what toys he picks as his characters.

  • My favorite Timehop picture of the week is from seven years ago when my man and I were on the beach of Grand Turk. We were young, carefree, and sunburned.

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  • Lastly, it finally rained around here! Everything has been getting very dry and hot in recent weeks. I’m thankful that the majority of our summer was unseasonably pleasant, but after a solid week of heat advisories, it was such a blessing when God gave us a 10 minute summer shower. The kids begged to go play in it, and I couldn’t refuse the chance to get out and smell the rain in the air while they splashed together.

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Why Just Living is Greater Than Sweet Justice

Dear Son,

You started a new chapter of your life this week by stepping outside of the humble little 1068 square foot house we call home to start preschool. It’s an exciting time of transition in your life, and we couldn’t be more proud of you.

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As you are just starting to consciously work on growing up, the world is raging with all manner of problems that leave my mind whirling as I attempt to process the facts and the emotions that have gotten mixed into an explosive cocktail that is shattering hope of immediate improvement.

My sweet boy, the world will never stop being a mess. Someone will always be hurting, misunderstood, ignorant, or unwilling to take the time to differentiate facts from feelings.You can’t control those people. At some point in your life, they will come after you as well, spewing their own hurt onto your life, and as much as I wish I could shield you from it, I realize I’m better off preparing your for it.

You’re getting to a place in life where you’ll begin to notice that life isn’t fair as often as we’d like it to be. Someone will inevitably misunderstand you; you will hurt someone’s feelings or they will hurt yours; you won’t get credit for something you worked hard on; or someone won’t value you in the way that you deserve. And it will hurt when you experience injustice firsthand, no matter if its small or big. So what do you do when someone wants to bring about their own version of justice and it effects you personally?

The main thing is this: Instead of searching for justice, live justly.

Your Papa often reminded me as I worked on growing up like you are beginning to now that God has clearly laid out how He intends for us to live. One of the scriptures that He pointed me to as we worked through the difficult scenarios we face in this world is 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?

How does one go about doing justly in a world that’s not fair? What kind of responsibility does that mean we should take upon ourselves?

As much as you or I might wish it means that we take a dramatic stand for justice or exact revenge, this isn’t the case at all. It’s going to be tough, but wait for God to bring about justice. He is the only One capable of doing it properly. (“God is just: He will pay back trouble to those who trouble you.” 2 Thessalonians 1:6) He’s also set up authorities to take care of the details. Those authorities aren’t perfect, and they won’t always do things right, but it sure takes a lot of pressure off to realize that they are the ones who answer to God for how the conduct the pursuit of justice, and God in turn will ultimately see that justice is served appropriately.

Instead of attempting to rid your world of injustice or paying back those who have wronged you, do exactly what Micah 6:8 says to do. “Do justly.”

This means we need to be “honorable and fair”* in how we act. When we are undermined by someone who does something unethical, we continue to be “consistent with what is morally right.”

It would be much easier to go with what people will tell you to do when your emotions are louder than reality. They will say its okay to fight back in the same manner you’ve been wronged. Instead “uphold what is just” by being an example of doing the right thing and using sound judgment.

I guarantee that you won’t become popular by taking this stand, but popularity isn’t a requirement for being a man of character. Doing to others what you would want them to do to you, on the other hand, is a great way to be an example those who want to stand with you for what is right in the eyes of the God who lovingly created you to honor Him.

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You will wonder at times if it’s worth it to live justly rather than seeking justice. You might someday face a bully who won’t leave you alone, and he has it coming. There could be a classmate who falsely accuses you, or a friend who betrays your trust. Life will likely deal you a difficult season that requires you to act more maturely than your peers tell you is fair. Your dad and I have both been there many times, and if there’s one thing we can tell you with certainty after surviving those unfair and trying times in our lives, it’s that obeying God’s Word is always worth it.

The world’s idea of justice isn’t as sweet as they think it will be. Otherwise, they’d no longer be searching for it.

Peace will come to you personally when you let go of trying to make things right and live right by loving mercy and walking humbly with your God. I’ve prayed since you were tiny that you would live by this verse. I know you’re only human, and that there will be times you won’t get it perfect, but a real man will learn from his mistakes and be stronger for them. I just ask that you be the real man that I know you can be based on the evidence you’ve shown me in your first five years.

Keep fighting for just living in a world that is hungry for justice. Show them that peace is attainable when we live lives that honor God and point others to His Word. Your journey has just begun, but that doesn’t mean I’m praying for you any less as you learn to live out faith in this world one experience at a time.

All my love,
Mom

*All parts of the definition of justly in quotation marks came from this source, which gives the Hebrew translation of the words “just” and “justice.”

 

A Few Fun Finds from Lately

Sometimes I go along through life doing my own thing when all of a sudden I stumble across a series of life hacks or resources that revolutionize the way I do things, at least for a while. Here are some of those things from my life lately.

1. Apparently I’ve been living under a rock because somehow I just started using the digital resources available from my local library. Do you know how many eBooks are available that way?!? A ton. Anymore, most everyone has some sort of device that will allow them to take advantage of what’s available. I’m not just talking eBooks either. My library also has a ton of audiobooks and streaming videos.

I’ve added the app to my phone and my Kindle. I listen to an audiobook when I’m doing work around the house or hitting the treadmill at the gym, and I also have several books to read on my Kindle now as well.  I’ve been really wanting to try out Audible because I would actually be able to “read” a lot more if I could listen while I work, but I was disappointed to find out how pricey it is, so I’d been holding out.

Now that I have my this free resource from the library, I couldn’t be happier to be listening to a book I haven’t read since I was in high school: The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. What a moving book, and I haven’t even gotten to the difficult trials the family faced yet! Such a great read that I highly, highly, highly recommend.

There’s a time limit on how long you can keep the book, and you do have to place a hold on more popular titles, but there are times when I just can’t make it to the library when I want a new book, and this is a great option!

2. The Jesus Storybook Bible. Dash and I read every night before bed, and we had exhausted all of our Bible storybooks. We’d just finished reading and re-reading the Little Boys Bible Storybook several times, and I knew that we needed to move on to a new Bible storybook. It’s one I definitely recommend, too, by the way.

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I had purchased The Jesus Storybook Bible several years ago, but it was too mature for Dash to get into. He’s at just the right stage to get really into it now. I love the way the author weaves the Bible stories together to make it a cohesive story about God’s never-ending love for us. It’s beautiful! It’s brought about several great discussions between Dash and me. Most of the accounts we’ve read in there are familiar to him, but the way in which they are presented makes them click on a deeper level.

I also find my own heart being touched as I read it aloud. We never are too old to be reminded of the depth of God’s love for us.

3. I don’t love Wal-Mart, nor do I know many people who do. I don’t know what happens to people’s brains when they enter that store, but there should seriously be a scientific study done to prove that something does happen to lower reaction levels in Wal-Mart. I rotate where I shop for groceries, and I love me some Target, so I have several different stores to compare my hypothesis with. Without fail, every single time I’m in that store, I will come close to having a shopping cart crash with at least 4 people. Then let’s throw in the multiple tests of my patience and blood pressure levels as a fellow customer completely blocks an entire aisle while painstakingly trying to decide which type of mayonnaise they should buy only to leave the aisle without any mayo at all. (Can anyone else relate to this, or am I just crazy?)

Anyway, having said all of that, Wal-Mart has finally done something that makes me excited! One of the reasons I find myself going back to Wal-Mart in spite of all of the headaches shopping there has caused me is the fact that I can price match. (I’m going to digress yet again to say that not all cashiers are created equal in maintaining a positive attitude about price matching. I’ve encountered some who have made me stand in a longer line with a wiggling toddler just so I could avoid the wrath and death glares I will receive if I enter their check out lane with a request to price match my grapes and bananas.)

Okay, okay, back to what I do like about Wal-Mart. Enter their new feature called the Savings Catcher. I was skeptical when I heard all I had to do was scan my receipt and they would do the price matching for me, but I tried it just for kicks.

Drum roll please!

It works! I have nearly four dollars in my queue, which I will be getting back in a gift card as soon as I give them the word that I want it. For those of you like me who like saving but haven’t devoted your lives to being couponing queens, this is a wonderful gift.

4. Here’s one life hack that I attempted but didn’t find as effective as Pinterest claimed it would be. In case you saw the idea of putting a wet paper towel around a beverage and sticking it in the freezer for two minutes to make it cold and wondered if it worked, don’t waste your time. Granted, I only tried it with a plastic bottle of Dr. Pepper. Perhaps a can or glass bottle would be more effective at getting chilled really fast, but plastic bottles are a bust.

5. Recently, we have been contemplating getting a small pet for Dash. All of the ones that we could agree upon were more work or required more space than we were prepared to deal with. As we walked through the Lawn & Garden department at Lowe’s a couple of weeks ago, we happened to notice a small Venus fly trap plant.

This is officially the cheapest, lowest-maintenance “pet” a little boy could ask for! It cost us $10, and the only “special” thing we have to buy for it is distilled water since the plants can’t handle treated tap water. Dash gets to catch the bugs required to feed it, and it is truly fun to watch the plant trap its prey.

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It’s been a fun father-son bonding thing, too. My two boys go bug hunting with a toothpick dipped in honey to catch the bugs so they are still alive to feed to the plant. I’m so happy we’ve found the perfect little addition to our family to teach some personal responsibility to our five year old!

 

How You and I Can Make a Difference

No matter how much I strive to have a grateful heart, sometimes a need arises in someone else’s life that makes me realize I’m taking something for granted. These things can range from freedom to health, family and friends to spiritual enrichment. If I’m not careful to think globally, I can get extremely comfortable and oblivious to the world’s desperate need for Jesus while I dust off (haha! who dusts?!?) my three bookshelves full of books that explain various Biblical topics or not notice the overabundance of church buildings I pass in any given trip around town.

That’s why I’m grateful that God is always keeping someone in my life who lives globally. The cocoon I’ve built around my sweet little family is great for building security for my children, but it will not benefit them if I don’t let them peek outside and see the souls in need in our community and the world. There are thousands of people who want to know more about Jesus every day. They aren’t rolling their eyes at self-righteous posts on Facebook or trying to figure out how many times a year they should make an appearance at the church down the road. They are searching for Truth, hope, an unfailing love, and they don’t have the luxury of picking which congregation or piece of literature is going to make them feel good or challenge them best.

One of the people in my life that challenges and reminds me to think outside my little world is my cousin Jordan. He didn’t set out to be a missionary in a foreign land when he began working towards his business degree in college. He simply went on a missions trip to the Philippines over Christmas break one year and came back changed.  A couple more short-term missions trips later, I remember meeting him for lunch one day as he was trying to figure out how to make use the talents God had given him to make a difference in the lives of these people on the other side of the world. They were hungry for change, but they didn’t know how to do it by themselves. His story inspires me to not pigeonhole how I do ministry to what my past experience or degree says I am qualified to do.

He ended up working with a fantastic organization called Convoy of Hope, which many of you have probably heard of. What you may not have heard about is one of their ministries called the Women’s Empowerment Program. For the sake of keeping this post from getting too lengthy, I will let you check it out on your own if you’re interested, but I’m in love with the mission they are helping women in various countries around the world accomplish.

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Jordan had the opportunity to head up the pilot program in The Philippines. I want to share a letter he sent out to his friends and family after he got back to the states last month about a specific and urgent need for a church building. Since he sent out this letter, the need became greater as a typhoon brought a lot of destruction to the very city where these people are begging for a church.

Friends,
As many of you know, I spent January through July of this past year in the
Philippines piloting a Women’s Empowerment program for Convoy of Hope – a
global faith-based NGO based in Springfield, Missouri. The purpose of this
program is to target at-risk women (single mothers, low-income families, etc.)
and holistically empower them and their families to live better lives. This
empowerment includes an education in how to choose, operate, and manage
their own business and grant funds to get that business started. As a result of the
microenterprise education and grant funding over the past months, ten women
and their families have experienced a 258% increase in daily income and are
saving money regularly for emergencies and future business expansion. Women
also received extensive education in parenting and women’s health.

However, as you know, it is impossible to holistically empower a person without
addressing their spiritual needs. Most of the women and their families were
unsaved with many never having heard a presentation of the gospel in their
language. Thanks to a partnership with the International Mission Board, a
Southern Baptist missionary named Greg was able to share the gospel weekly (in
Tagalog) with a group of around 60 women and their families. After eight weeks,
seven participants, one husband of a participant, and two children accepted Jesus
Christ as their Lord and Savior and followed him in believer’s baptism in the
South China Sea.

The ten participants and their families – around 50 to 60 in all – continue to meet
in a house church where there is no separate area for children’s ministry and in
which there is literally no room for one more person. With additional
beneficiaries to be added at the end of this year, there will be no place for this
growing church in the community of Market View to meet. There is a great
potential for outreach in Market View if there is a place for believers to gather.

Following in the direction of the work the Lord is doing and in a move to
address a ministry need in that area of the Philippines, I drew from my personal
savings to put a down payment on a vacant lot in an urban poor area of Lucena
City. I paid a surveyor and architect to prepare primary plans for what a church
at this site would look like and cost. I did this not because it is easy or certain – in
fact, I absolutely do not have the money to see this project through on my own. I
took this dive of faith because I am 100% confident that the Lord will provide for
this need that He has brought to light.

I tell you about the steps I’ve taken not to bring praise to myself in stepping out
in this way. I just want you to know how much I believe in this work that the
Lord is doing; in other words, this is not just a whim that I have, it is serious and
necessary work that I believe enough in to have invested in myself. I have also
attached a funding proposal that details the background, plans, and needs of the
project.

I am asking you to come alongside the body of believers in Market View in this
work. One of the church members, Carmen, had the idea that we should daily lift
this need up in prayer, so if you would like to join us, we are praying daily at
11PM Philippines time – 10AM Central time. Set a reminder on your phone or an
alert in your calendar and pray that the Lord would continue to guide and bless
these believers and provide for their needs as they desire to reach out to their
community.

I used to be shy in asking for financial support, but I know that just as the Lord
works in the hearts of people to bring ministry needs to light, He is
simultaneously working in the hearts of people who have the capability to give.
If you have questions about this project, general questions about the church
planting movement in the Philippines, or would like to give, please contact me. I
would love to share more with you about what the Lord is doing and how you
can be a part of that work.

May all that we seek to do be Spirit-led.
Jordan

The Church's current location

The Church’s current location

Would you be willing to become a part of this exciting endeavor?

I have been praying daily for this church’s financial needs to be met so more can be reached and transformed by God’s grace. Would you consider joining me and people on both sides of the globe in prayer every day?

The financial need is great. They are in need of around $9000 by the end of the month. God can provide that, but the approach I’m taking is this: “What if God used me to help provide that?” I know I can’t make a significant dent in that kind of financial need, but God could still use a little bit from me and a little bit from you to work together to be the church and encourage people who are hurting in many ways right now.

I’m reminded of this description of the first church established after Jesus was on earth, and I feel especially challenged to follow this example.

Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” ~Acts 2:44-47

If you are able to contribute financially, or if you have a small group or Sunday school class who might be able to team together to make a contribution, please contact Jordan by email at <jordanleetaylor@gmail.com> or phone (417)839-3406. He can answer any specific questions you have, and has laid out the details in subsequent emails, so he is ready to receive your queries as well as encouragement from other believers that God is at work in this situation. Thanks so much for taking the time to read about one way God is doing a good work in this world that is full of heartbreaking, heavy news. He is still working, and He uses people like us to accomplish His plans.