Live, Uncategorized

What is a Successful church?

successful
[suh k-ses-fuh l]
Spell adjective
1. achieving or having achieved success.

2. having attained wealth, position, honors, or the like.

3. resulting in or attended with success.

I’m not exactly sure how to measure a successful church based on Webster’s Dictionary’s definition.  It just doesn’t seem to accurately articulate what the body of Christ is capable of through the power of the Holy Spirit and our obedience to His Word.  Webster’s definition captures what success looks like here on earth, but falls short of capturing an eternal perspective of what success should look like as we follow Christ and His commands as the church.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic recently as I’ve studied Paul and his missionary journeys and the development of the New Testament Church. The older I get the more I’m convinced it’s not about numbers or the latest and greatest in ideas or technology. I have a sense of the church being a back to the basics, grass roots ideology that we are here to point the lost in the right direction. It’s a simple concept, but it’s our mission. We, as believers. are the church.  There are many styles and formats to get people on our campus and in the building, but once they’ve entered the doors of our sanctuary, it is really time for the Holy Spirit to do the work.
I’ve been convicted and challenged as Ive been studying Acts and the purity of Paul’s heart as he bravely entered each town along his journey with a heavenly message. His fearless proclamation of Jesus’ love for all people, even as they hurled jagged stones at his body time and time again, is mind blowing. I’m so comfortable in my nice home and familiar surroundings, my life is scheduled and I rarely deviate from my daily routines. My fear is that I’m not being an effective Christian and using my time wisely on this earth. Paul never found comfort in his quest, but he always had joy. His joy was pointing the lost in the right direction…the direction of Jesus.
Paul’s success of spreading the gospel came with a lot of hardship and ultimately his death. Are we there as a church? Am I willing to be uncomfortable for Christ? Am I willing to put others needs before my own? What does it mean to be a true servant? Will I love someone enough to speak the truth into their life, even if they don’t want to hear it?
Do I have a faith as strong as my dad who once said he wouldn’t change anything about his life, not even his disease that slowly and tragically robbed him of just about every bodily function and ultimately took his life. He couldn’t sit around a table to enjoy a good steak and conversation with friends, he couldn’t speak to his grandchildren or tell his wife that he loved her. He couldn’t run and play ball with his grandsons anymore. On a bad day, he couldn’t even breath without assistance. He had an obnoxious hole in is throat and in the middle of his stomach that hurt and regularly became infected, causing him to have daily struggles. But he wouldn’t have wanted to change a thing?
He also wouldn’t have changed the over thirty years of ministry where he pointed people in the right direction, scrubbed toilets, comforted those who were grieving, opened his home to strangers, provided for those who couldn’t provide for themselves, visited those in jail and the list goes on. So many of the back to basics human needs we find Jesus and the disciples doing as they went from city to city, household to household and pointed people in the right direction. My dad’s life was not perfect but I think he found success because he had joy in the journey as he pointed people to Christ. He wouldn’t change a thing, good or bad.
What does this mean for the church? I think we have to have joy in the journey, even when faced with our own personal struggles, and still be able to put others’ needs first. I remind myself often that it’s “not about me” when I’m down and want to give up. I’m here to point that wayward teen or single mom that is at her wits end, the wiggly three year old that can’t sit still during a Sunday School lesson in the right direction. What do people do once pointed in the right direction? I don’t know…That’s personal, it is really up to them. What is our responsibility as the church? I think it’s simply to create an environment where the Holy Spirit can do the work and people will leave feeling something they’ve never felt before. We need to be the hands and feet of Jesus daily to a hurting and lost world.  We need to point people in the right direction then we have a responsibility to help keep them on track through discipleship and study of God’s amazing Word.
Something beautiful…
something life changing…
something real…
Maybe that’s success, maybe that’s just “back to the basics” Christianity. But whatever it is, it is essential and life giving and our responsibility as the church and as individuals to fulfill.

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Eat, Uncategorized

Easter Brunch French Toast

I recently made an overnight french toast recipe that I found while searching through stacks of recipes.  I couldn’t find exactly what I was looking for, so I added a couple ingredients, adjusted some of the measurements of the ingredients I kept, and omitted a few things.  I have to admit that I really liked it and it was simple.  I will be adding this to my Easter brunch menu this year because of the simplicity, taste and the fact it can feed a lot of people.  The secret to this french toast is the delicious challah bread and added butter!  I used almond milk because I don’t drink regular milk and oftentimes don’t have regular milk on hand, but you certainly can use regular milk.  Full disclosure: this is not a healthy recipe, BUT it’s a fun dish that is suitable for the holidays and should please a crowd!!! Make it your own by adding a layer of your favorite fruit on top like bananas, blueberries or apples.

I actually doubled the recipe, if you would like to do that just double all the ingredients listed below…

Ingredients:

1 loaf of challah bread

6 eggs

1 1/2 C almond milk (vanilla flavored)

1/3 C white sugar

1 tsp bourbon vanilla extract

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground nutmeg

butter

For Glaze:

1/2 C white sugar

1/2 C brown sugar

1/4 C flour

1/2 C butter

1/2 C almond milk

2 tsp vanilla

Tear bread into 1 1/2 inch thick slices and place in a lightly greased 9×13 inch baking dish. In a large bowl, beat eggs with 1 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/3 cup white sugar, and 1 tablespoon bourbon vanilla. Pour egg mixture over bread slices.  Sprinkle cinnamon, nutmeg, and 2 tablespoons white sugar over bread and egg mixture. Dot entire dish with butter, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

In the morning: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Bake toast in preheated oven until golden brown, about 1 hour. Meanwhile, combine 1/2 cup white sugar, flour, and margarine. Stir in brown sugar, 1/2 cup almond milk, and 2 teaspoons vanilla in a small saucepan. Cook until thick. Serve French toast hot with warm sauce.

 

 

 

Create, Uncategorized

Simple Flower Arranging

This past weekend, I had the privilege of co hosting a bridal shower for a sweet dear friend of mine. The event went very well and the “bride to be” looked beautiful and happy and seemed to enjoy her special day. One of the tasks I was responsible for were the flowers.

I love floral arranging so I couldn’t wait to get creative. I have learned over the years that the easiest and fool proof way to put together an arrangement is to use floral tape.

I wanted to have two matching arrangements on either end of the serving table and one larger arrangement next to the coffee and punch.

For the two smaller arrangements I used two matching glass cube vases. Using the floral tape, I taped a grid over the opening of each vase. I just eyeballed it, I typically don’t get too technical about how the grid looks as long as it’s somewhat symmetrical. The tape is clear and waterproof.

Once the grid was in place I used my larger flowers and placed first. I used three large white hydrangeas as the base of he arrangement. Make sure to take all the leaves off your stem and cut stem to desired height. Once the hydrangeas were in, I made sure to add water, keeping the delicate hydrangeas nice and hydrated. Make sure to give the ends of your flowers a nice fresh diagonal cut on the ends to ensure they soak up as much water as possible. I will sometimes even cut a very small vertical slit up the center of the stem if it’s a thick stem to assist in the water consumption.

After the hydrangeas were placed I used the rest of my accent flowers to fill in all the excess space around the hydrangeas. I usually like to add the flowers in odd numbers, making sure I’m constantly turning my vase to arrange evenly around.

Once all the space is filled in, I gave the flowers a nice spritzing of water and put them in my refrigerator until the event the next day.

I used the same technique with a taller cylinder shaped vase for my larger arrangements. I only had one hydrangea left so I layered my arrangement with lots of greenery around the outer edge. I placed the star of the show, my beautiful white hydrangea in the middle then filled in the remainder of the space around with accent flowers. I was very happy with the outcome.

Next time you purchase some grocery store flowers, try this technique and see what you can create. It’s really easy and so much fun. Don’t be afraid to collect greenery from your yard if you have some to add volume to your arrangement.

I purchased my flowers and floral tape at a floral wholesaler, but you can order the tape on amazon and buy your flowers at your favorite florist or grocer.

Live, Uncategorized

Jesus is Enough

Jesus is Enough

Today is the anniversary of my dad meeting Jesus face to face. What an impossibly glorious thought of what this past year must have been like for my dad as he worshipped his creator in his new and perfectly whole body, now living in paradise. My heart is overjoyed at the thought of my amazing earthly father residing with my all powerful and perfectly holy Heavenly Father. I find myself longing to be in such company, along with the angels and all those that have gone on before us to their eternal glory worshipping the one true Creator.

Life if full of ups and downs, highs and lows. It just is. Everyone will face moments of absolute joy, finding delight in beautiful moments gifted to us by God, but there will also be devastating set backs and heartache to endure.

I have experienced both. Joy and heartache, delight and devastation. Jesus is in them both. His presence should not be taken for granted, lost or forgotten in either circumstance, good or bad.

As I’ve wrestled with my faith the past couple of years I am profoundly strengthened and encouraged because of the wrestle. I’ve been embarrassed and felt ashamed when my reality was one of incredible doubt and endless questions. When I’ve wavered and asked God the tough questions, God was not mad at me. He did not get offended or flee from me. He showed me absolute mercy and grace when my foundation seemed to be crumbling.

In a purely miraculous way, my faith was being restored and strengthened, the struggle and wrestling forced me to deconstruct my faith and start the construction process back to my first love. Jesus has not changed, He is the same yesterday, today and forever. He’s not afraid of my struggle and insecurities, He’s right there…in life and in death.

I’ll never forget the moment I got the phone call about my dad’s passing. His death was expected and we had gathered with him for months just about everyday thinking it was the end. We actually joked about the fact that we had said our “good byes” numerous times, my poor dad was probably tired of hearing our “It’s ok to let go” speech. He had a fabulous sense of humor and I think that’s what I miss the most.

Those days we watched my dad slowly and painfully lose his battle with ALS were long and terrible, they were gut wrenching. But I have learned many lessons, I have grown in my relationship with my God and my family and the brave friends that stood beside our family when we could barely function. Most of all I learned that Jesus is enough.

My dad knew that Jesus was enough. He served him faithfully even to the end. I know it wasn’t easy for him, I know that he wanted to be strong for us. I also know that he chose God even when he may not have felt like it – the end of his life was heartbreaking. It just was. You can’t sugar coat the ugliness of disease and isolation of death. He wasn’t able to speak, but I know he would have proclaimed that Jesus is enough. I know this was not what he wanted the end of his life to look like, I’m sure he had disappointments. There were tears and there were times of uncertainty but… Jesus is enough.

If you are struggling with grief, if you are experiencing a terrible life altering circumstance please know that it’s ok. The struggle is ok. You will grow in the struggle. You will grow in the devastation. You will have questions and will struggle with your faith. Your faith will be strengthened. Please don’t feel guilty but know that God loves you and most importantly that Jesus is enough.

Travel, Uncategorized, Walt Disney World

Three Disney Experiences I would Love to Do!

To say our family loves Disney World is an understatement.  But for as many times as we’ve been to Walt Disney World, there are several experiences I haven’t done but would love to do one day.  Part of the reason I haven’t done these experiences are lack of time and often the cost.  It’s no secret that visiting WDW is quite expensive.  It’s also a very large resort with so much to do and usually time is extremely limited as we are usually only there for a week.  From the parks, Disney Springs and the many beautiful Disney resorts, the activities are endless.  Even with the time and money restraints, hopefully one day I will be able to experience some key Disney dining adventures and wonderful tours that look absolutely fabulous.  The first three on my list to do are the following:

  1.  Behind the Seeds Tour: at the “The Land” Pavilion in Epcot.

    agriculture basil bunch cultivation
    Photo by Jatuphon Buraphon on Pexels.com

    This is a walking tour of the greenhouses, hydroponics and fish farm you see while riding “Living with the Land” boat tour.  This tour is fairly reasonably priced at $25.00 per person in addition to your park ticket, it seems they run about every 45 minutes between 10:30 and 4:30.  This is one of the tours that I just haven’t taken the time to do yet.  I’m so intrigued by the unique plantings and vertical growth designs that you see while on the boat tour.  These greenhouses also provide food for some of the Disney restaurants.  I would really enjoy this tour!  

  2. Highway in the Sky Dine Around: This is a Disney style progressive dinner.  The evening starts with appetizers at the Contemperary Resort.   You then board the monorail and travel to the Polynesian Resort for more unique appetizers.  Once finished at the Polynesian, the guests travel to the Grand Floridian for artisinal cheeses or charcuterie offerings as well as the main entree at Citricos.  The evening finishes up back at the Contemporary for coffee and desserts as well as a private area to view the “Happily Ever After” fireworks show at Magic Kingdom.
    photography of disneyland
    Photo by Makenzie Kublin on Pexels.com

    Doesn’t this sound fun?  Drinks are included in the evening but the pricetag is quite steep at $170 per person.  One day I do hope to do this with my husband…one day…

 

3.  Disney’s Yuletide Fantasy: I REALLY want to do this one… Christmas and Disney AND going backstage?  Yes, please.  This is a 3 1/2 hour tour of the behind the scenes Holiday decor and what it takes to get the park ready for a magical Christmas at Walt Disney World. The tour starts in Epcot where guests board a bus and travel to different warehouse locations where the massive array of Disney holiday decor is stored. thumbnail-2The last stop is usually a place to get a tasty treat and the tour concludes with each guest receiving a special Yuletide Fantasy souvenier.  This tour is $139.00 per person and each participant must be at least 12 years old.

If you’ve ever done any of these three events, please let me know how your experience was!