Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Post Servolution Videos

In case you weren't able to be in church last Sunday, here are the post Servolution 2009 videos. If you weren't able to be a part of Servolution this year, be sure to join us next year as we again go out into our community to serve and to love. And.....you don't have to wait until next year to serve as a part of Servolution. Our prayer is that Servolution will become a way of life for us all. You also have the opportunity to serve the second Saturday of each month (sort of a mini-servolution) with people from the church; watch the bulletin for more information.

Some stats from this year:
1300+ volunteers
120+ projects
500 Food Baskets given away
300 people were given community resources
117 people went through our health screening
73 haircuts given
1800 hot dogs eaten
70 people gave blood at the blood drive and.....
Approximately 15,000 man hours of work was donated by those who joined the Servolution!

Now THAT is love in action!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Eric's Sectional Meet Photos

Just thought I'd post some pics of my son at the Sac/Joaquin Division 1 Sectional Meet. Eric has had a great season and did well at the sectional meet, but, alas, he didn't make it through to State Finals.  The sectional meet was a great way to end the season, though, and he has a lot to look forward to next year as a senior.  It should be fun.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Death is not Dying

Today, on the Desiring God blog, I was directed to THIS AUDIO and THIS VIDEO  by Rachel.  I tried watching the video, but it wouldn't run smoothly, so I decided to listen to the audio.  The audio is approximately 55 minutes long, but I'll tell you what, Rachel presents the gospel in the face of death in a way that is both beautiful and powerful.  

After four and a half years of vigilantly fighting breast cancer, Rachel Barkey, a 37 year old wife and mother of two, was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  But for Rachel, the essence of life is found in her relationship with God through Jesus. And that's why Rachel is convinced that death is not dying.

You will not be sorry for giving an hour of your time to listen to her speech.  It reminds me in some ways of The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch because Rachel hopes that someday her children will watch the video to know what she believed in and lived for.   She gave this talk at a women's event for her church, and I am sure each one left the evening with a changed perspective. 

Please remember to pray for Rachel, as well as the many other people that I am sure, like me, you know who have cancer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mish Mash Mondays

Time for another exciting edition of Mish Mash Mondays!  (Humor me here, okay?) Lots of thoughts today:
  • I love me some baptisms!  Seriously, I cry every time we have baptisms and yesterday was no different.  Seeing the life change that God has begun in so many people encourages me to continue in my pursuit of Him.  I love hearing the stories of those who come to be baptized; they get me every time!  
  • I am hearing more and more about events that took place on Servolution. Yesterday at church, several people stopped me to say, "Did you hear.....?"  and proceeded to fill me in on some great things that God did through Servolution.
  • After church, we were able to spend some time with Dave's family, including his aunt and uncle from Clovis, and his cousins who are here from back east.  We had a lovely lunch and a relaxing time visiting.
  • It's HOT!  It was so good to be able to jump in the pool last night to cool off.
  • Today's To Do's?  Going to the bank, grocery shopping, laundry, writing a few notecards to people, and work for a job I am doing.  It's gonna be a great day!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Birthday Brunch

A couple of weeks ago, it was "Birthday Brunch" time with my mom and sisters.  Twice a year we get together at Mimi's to celebrate two of our birthdays.  In April, it was my two sister's birthdays, in case the presents in front of them didn't give that away!  Aren't they beautiful?  I am so proud of the two of them.  They are great women, fantastic moms, and the best, most fun and loving sisters I could ask for.  

At the restaurant, we almost always sit at the same table and can easily spend a couple of hours catching up with one another and sharing the latest news in each of our families. Between us there are ten children, so there's never a shortage of news to share.  As you can see in the picture of me and my mom, there usually aren't too many people in the room where we sit, and that's probably a good thing because we girls can laugh rather loudly.  (I'm sure you find that hard to believe!) 

The birthday brunch tradition is one that I look forward to because it's just the four of us.  We see each other at other times, of course, but usually it's with our husbands and children in tow, and although it's tons of fun, we don't often get time to visit with one another.  Carving out some time alone with just the four of us is just what we need once in a while!  These times take me back to when it was just the four of us in our home, and I find a great strength in the reconnection that takes place when we are together.  Yes, I am blessed.

Monday, May 11, 2009

A Long Time Coming

This post has needed to be written for a long time now.  I’ve started it a couple of times, only to erase it all because I just couldn’t find the words to finish it.  I’ve gone over and over what to say and how to say it, and I haven’t sensed any divine revelation, so I’m just going to wing it here. 

You see, God has begun a mighty change in me and I find that for every step forward in faith, I take two steps back with fear and insecurity.   I am embarrassed to write this post, to some degree, because I have to share a message that God has been trying to smack into me for quite some time.  Okay, just being honest here, it’s been years that He’s been trying to break through to me in this area. 

A couple of months ago, unbeknownst to me, a friend and fellow staff wife got a little bug up her sleeve to have a surprise for me at our Women’s Retreat.  Many of you wrote wonderful and beautiful cards to me and, embarrassingly, gave of your hard earned money towards a gift for me – me of all people! 

The last day of the retreat, my friend, Tricia, called me up to the front.  I had no idea as to why she was calling me up there, and she proceeded to say some things that I can’t quite remember.  (When I am standing in front of a group of grown ups, I usually have a sort of “out of body” experience because I am so embarrassed and insecure to be there).

The gift of the cards was such a sweet and unexpected surprise, and I was touched that so many women would make the time to write me a card.  I was full to over-flowing with the love that I felt in the gift of those cards. 

But then……Tricia proceeded to say something that my simple mind didn’t have a category for, and I didn’t even understand what she was saying at first.  She told me that the women, along with their cards, had given money, towards a gift for me. 

I simply cannot find the words to say how totally embarrassed I was that anyone would give in these difficult financial times towards a gift for me.  I certainly haven’t “earned” it, I certainly don’t “deserve” it, and I certainly can’t believe it.  I must have looked so silly in that moment because I truly did not understand what Tricia was trying to tell me.

Long story not so short, Tricia told me that there had been enough money to buy the club chairs that we had picked out when we had bought our sofa two years ago!  I KNOW!  What is up with that?

Well, after mumbling something (probably not at all intelligible), I headed back to my seat with the treasured box of cards in my hands.  As I sat down, I was engulfed in the hugs of the two women sitting on either side of me, and in that moment…….something broke.  I felt a love wash over me like a tidal wave and I “heard” the voice of the Lord speaking straight to the depths of my soul.

Now, there have been two times in my life that I clearly sensed God speaking straight to my heart in a way that was all but audible.  In both of those times, I can tell you word-for-word what God spoke to my spirit because it was so vivid, real, and true.  This time was no different; I remember word-for-word (it’s all but etched in my heart) what God said to me. 

I’m a little hesitant to share what I heard because, well, I’m sure God speaks to you all in grand and eloquent ways, and me?   Not so much. 

Anyway, as I sat enveloped in the hugs of those two women and overwhelmed with the love that those cards represented, as clearly as anything, I heard these words, “Gena, it’s time to put your big girl panties on and step over all those danged insecurities you have hidden behind for so long.”

Yep. That’s it.  That’s what I heard.  To be fair, I also heard, “You can do all I’ve called you to do, and you can trust in this love.” 

God gave me no grand discourse on His immutability, or why He sent his son, Jesus Christ, as propitiation for my sin, or His transcendent nature.  Nope.  None of that; just “Put your big girl panties on.” 

I don’t mean to be flippant at all about the reality of the Lord speaking to me.  I really don’t, but I simply can’t rephrase what I heard because that’s what I heard.

And you know how God has to say some things over and over for us to get it?  Well, believe it or not, I recently attended a one-day conference with two speakers, and both, BOTH, women used that exact same phrase at one point during the day in their talks.  I mean, what are the odds of that? 

Well, those words have come back to me over and over again since the retreat and I continue to pray that I can truly accept what He told me.  I desire to stay on the other side of my “danged” insecurities that I all to often willingly and fearfully hide behind.  I want to trust in the love of those God has so graciously and wonderfully placed in my life.  And, I want to feel free to release the deep, honest-to-goodness love that I have for others in our church.

Anyway, as I came home from the retreat to read all of those sweet and heartfelt cards, I was again amazed at the gifts God has given me in the women of our church.  I will always keep that box of cards, and I will reread them every so often (especially on days when I wonder if I can do anything right!).  I don’t deserve the love that was expressed in those cards, but you all gave it anyway.  Do you even know how humbling that is?

And on top of that most precious gift, you all gave me some chairs. CHAIRS!  I couldn’t believe it, and guess what?  They are here!  You all need to come over to see them and rest your little hienies in them!  I like them just as much as I did two years ago; they match our sofa so well! And when I sit in them, I am amazed at the gift of love that they represent to me.

Yes, it took me until the chairs got here to post this because I’ve been embarrassed at your overly gracious and generous gift.  I mean, how do you accept something like that?  And yet, I am afraid that my inability to say thank you earlier might have been seen as being ungrateful. That wasn’t it at all!  In fact, it was just the opposite; I was so grateful for the undeserved gift that I found it hard to accept.  Why you all would bless me that way, I don’t know, but I want to let you know how very much I appreciate the gift and the love in which it was given.  

So there you have it, a long overdue and heartfelt THANK YOU to you all who have dared to love me and bless me.  I can only pray that I will be faithful with those gifts and that I will turn around and pour those gifts out to others.  I love you and thank you with all that I am.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

My youngest daughter made this for me for Mother's Day, and this morning I was treated to breakfast prepared by my two youngest ones.  Yeah, I'm blessed.

On Mother's Day, my heart is also with those women who are trying so hard to have a baby or who are unable to have a baby.  I know that many of them stay home from church on Mother's Day, and I don't blame them because it can be so painful.  There are also those who have lost their moms or grandmothers, and this day brings grief and heartache.  Although most of us think of Mother's day as a positive thing, please remember and be sensitive to those who have a hard time with this day.  They don't wish to have us not celebrate, but it means so much when their feelings are considered and validated.  

Next posts?  "A Long Time Coming" and "Servolution Snapshots."

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Are You Ready for a Servolution?

Yes, I'm ready for Servolution, and can't wait to see you all there on Saturday, May 9!  I am blown away by the hearts of the people at New Life, and I continue to pray that God will be glorified through our efforts and love for those in our communities.  It's gonna be good, ya'll!  :-)

Also, just wanted to make you aware of the FREE E-waste and appliance disposal available on Saturday.  You can simply drive to Auto Plaza Drive (off of Fulkerth, west of highway 99), and drop off your appliance.  

There is so much going on that I couldn't even begin to list it all, but we'll look back and say, "Wow!" I'm sure.

Why don't you join us?