Thursday, August 03, 2017

Trades of Hope Five Years In!

I just returned from spending a weekend in Nashville with some amazing Trades of Hope sisters at our annual retreat for training, inspiration and encouragement. It was a great weekend, reconnecting with Compassionate Entrepreneur sisters from around the country that I only get to see once a year, and making new CE friends. And it came at the perfect time, because I joined Trades of Hope 5 years ago last week. FIVE YEARS! I can't believe it. When I joined there were only 150 Compassionate Entrepreneurs in the company, and we just hit 5000! So exciting! To honor these five years, I thought I would give you the top ten wonderful things about being a part of TOH. So in no particular order (because I could never say one was more important than another) here are my top ten!

10. I have grown so much in my social skills and getting out of my comfort zone. I've never been good at speaking to strangers and this has really helped as I've met women at parties, other CEs, and new hostesses. I have traveled to a foreign country, overcoming so many fears in that process. I'm still growing in this area as I learn how to do "live" Facebook videos! Way out of my comfort zone!

9. It gives me a purpose outside of being a mom and wife. I love being those things, and I've had other jobs along the way, but this gives me something that is "mine", it becomes what I put into it. It gives me a reason to get out of the house and travel, and in a house full of boys, I can be girly!

8. Becoming more fashionable! I have never cared a great deal about what I wear, and yet, never felt like I was dressed very cute. But when you have beautiful accessories that you want to wear, it helps you to up your fashion skills! I just started wearing a kimono and I love it! Who knew?

7. I have made extra money that has helped my family. Its been used to go on vacations, pay bills, school fees and pay for lots of baseball! But I've also used it to treat myself.

6. I have learned so much about poverty and trafficking. These aren't topics that people may want to know about, but they are important! These are things that are not ok with my heavenly Father, and He wants His people to step in and help end them!

5.I have gained confidence in myself, the good kind, when you are proud because you set a goal, go after it, and reach it, and where you think you can't do something, but you do! I have had moments when I compared myself to others, I felt that I was failing. But when God taught me to not compare myself to anyone, and to be content with where I was and who I was in Him, it brought such peace and confidence in myself.

4. I have grown in my faith. There have been many conversations with my Father about my business, the struggles, the successes, the questions, the frustrations. And when I ask Him for a boost, He gives it to me! He wants me to help the widows and orphans and the poor, and when I give effort, even if it seems small, He will bless it.

3. I have been inspired by the founders of our company. Joining so early when I did, I have gotten to know the four ladies who founded our company in a way that would never happen if I had joined a larger direct sales company. They are brave, powerful, awe inspiring women, and each year when I see them, and they know my name and hug me, I feel known. And then they speak about what they envision for our company, and I am thankful to follow after them.

2.I have grown in my leadership skills. I have a great team under me, and sometimes I can give more to them than other times, but I know God uses my team to build my leadership skills that I can use in other areas of my life too.

1. I have met amazing, beautiful women from all over the country! I have life long friends that can only come from being in a foreign country together. And I have met so many ladies as hostesses, party goers and other CE's that I would have never met otherwise. I have great ladies that have joined my team over the five years that I can now call friends.

There are probably ten more things I could list, like organizational skills, goal setting, budgeting, etc. But really, the bottom line is, that it has empowered me! I have become a better person because of this journey! And that's what Trades of Hope is all about. We are empowering our artisans around the world by marketing their products, but it empowers us too! I am so thankful that five years ago, I saw a blog post about Trades of Hope, and I took a big step of faith!  I've never wanted to sell anything, but when I held my first products, it was a powerful moment. I don't know how long God will keep me with TOH, but I am so thankful for this part of my life journey!

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

The rest of the story...

I started a new job a few weeks ago. I know, it was fast. God was so sweet to give me some summer at home with my kiddos. But one day after I had been home for a few weeks I got an email from a friend about a job that had just opened up. And a few weeks later, I accepted the position. Its a full time job, which I have never had with kids before, so it will be a change for our family. I have been so blessed to work part time since our kids entered the world, and they were always with me at the preschools that I worked for. But this is the perfect time for me to enter the full time working world and I am super excited.

The night before I was expecting the offer, I was laying in bed praying, and telling God I needed a loud and quick "No" if this wasn't was I was supposed to do. I rolled over, and my baby (who isn't a baby anymore) was asleep in his daddy's place in the bed. I told God "I just want to be a good momma. Can I be a good momma, the kind of momma I want to be, and work full time?"  And I felt like God told me, "All those mommas who will drop off their babies to you just want to be good mommas too, and they want a safe place for their babies to go while they are at work." And He reminded me of all of the places in the community that those mommas and daddies go to each day, and how by caring for their children, I am in a way touching all those places too. Its a huge and overwhelming honor.

That next Sunday, guess what we sang at church? We sang "Lord our God." God giving me another piece of confirmation that He was in this and His plan is big.

I'm in my third week now. It's been hard, and exciting, and exhilarating and exhausting. My first night I must have had adrenaline because I cooked dinner and did laundry and went to a baseball game. The second night I crashed on the couch and ordered pizza. Balance right? I have been so welcomed by teachers and kiddos, and I can't wait to get to know them all better and see all that God is going to do.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Obey and Trust and Wait

After three years as Director of Childcare and Mother's Morning Out at Pinelake Church, I have resigned my position. Its been an amazing three years. So why did I resign? Lots of small reasons. But the biggest reason is simply because God told me to.

Back in March, I gave all of my teachers a letter of intent to fill out for next school year, and I gave them a very inspirational speech where I told them to pray about what God would have for them. Pray and ask God if he still has you here, or if there is somewhere else He is leading you. We all have seasons, and sometimes God asks us to do something else. Are you still called to be here? As I was saying all that to them, God nudged my spirit that I needed to pray about that for myself too.

As I began that process of praying and seeking him, we started a new series at church called "Making Room". The first sermon was about our vision. Chip asked if God was asking us to make room in our vision for our lives for what He might have for us. Do we need to make room in our lives for something else that will further his kingdom.  And the response song was "Lord Our God". (Promise maker, Promise Keeper, You finish what you begin. Our provision through the desert, You see it through to the end. We won't move without you). That's my song. That's the song God has used many times in my life, especially transition times. Ok God, I hear you. I need some confirmation please. And boy did He give it to me.

I wish you could see my journal over the last few months. You know how sometimes God tells you the same thing a number of different times and ways until you get the point? Usually in my life its just a few times, over a week or so. But this time, well, its May and its still coming. Day after day after day. Devotionals, scripture, songs, people, sermons, books. Thoughts about trusting God, stepping out in faith, God has great plans for you, obedience, leaving the known for the unknown, releasing what you have to prepare for what is coming... day after day after day. If anyone has been following me on Facebook you can read most of them. I swear Christine Caine and Lysa Terkeurst know what's going on in my life and are speaking directly to me! But even on days when I would do our church's reading plan, God would use it!

The sermon series was four weeks, and over those four weeks, I slowly surrendered my plan, and agreed to obey. After the final sermon, we were asked to sign a commitment card about what we were making room for. I couldn't write on the card what I was doing, but that was my commitment. Again, the response song was "Lord my God". (In the silence, in the waiting, Still we can know You are good, All Your plans are for Your glory, Yes, we can know You are good). So now I'm waiting. I don't know what God has for me. I have the perfect plan in my head, directing a preschool during school hours for lots of money! Wouldn't that be great! But I'm waiting for his perfect plan, whatever that might be. I have moments of doubt. What did I just do? But I know what I did. I obeyed. And now I trust. And on the scary days where I wonder how this will turn out, He continues to speak truth to me about his goodness and faithfulness. Just today this was on Facebook. "God's got you. He who promised is faithful. He will never leave nor forsake you." 

I've been saying goodbye this week to many children, parents and teachers. I have a few weeks left, but I'm treasuring every goodbye. The good part is, I'll still see many of them at church. And, many of my teachers I have considered friends, but its hard to be a friend and a boss. So now I can just be a friend! God has been so good, so sweet, so faithful to me over the past three years. And I'm excited to see what the next step will be. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Most Beautiful Thing I Have Ever Read

I mentioned in our Christmas post last night that we lost a dear friend this week, very unexpectedly, and it has really rocked my world. I could barely hold it together in church this morning singing "Hark the Herald Angels Sing". The line "Mild he lay his glory by, born that man no more may die, born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth" brought new meaning as I was grieving. Its one of those things that doesn't make sense. Tod was reaching so many people to Christ. Why would God take him so young. But then one of his friends posted this tonight, and its truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever read. So I wanted to post it here, partly so you could read it, and partly so I could reread it over and over when I need reminding of God's faithfulness and goodness. Written by Tod's best friend, Brian Summerall.

O Holy Night:
I spent Christmas Eve, not in the way I expected last night. My friend, Tod Bush, passed away a couple of days ago, While his brain showed no activity, his body was kept alive on a respirator for the last two days. So yesterday evening I went up to the hospital for one last earthly goodbye and to try to find some closure.
What I found instead was hope.
You see, Tod was an organ donor, and his body was kept alive so he could serve as a gift to many with no hope. After a tearful “I love you and I’ll see you in heaven,” and a final prayer, I sat with his family in the waiting room as this friend I love became the ultimate gift on Christmas.
In the midst of pain and heartbreak, hope entered in right about 8:00 in the form of a blue cooler that rolled into the room.
It was accompanied by an EMT and two heart surgeons (one in scrubs and one in golf pants and hat) from North Carolina. They had just landed at Addison Airport and arrived by ambulance. One of the surgeons told us Tod’s heart was going to a woman who desperately needed it in North Carolina. While the surgeons were rushed to the operating room with their cooler, we sat with the EMT for two hours and told her about Tod.
Next thing we knew, the EMT got up, the surgeons rushed by, thanked us and told us everything went perfectly, and Tod’s heart rolled out the door in that blue cooler and boarded a private plane to North Carolina.
Jesus gave Tod a new heart when he accepted him at Frontier Ranch 30 years ago. On Christmas Eve, Tod gave that heart to a woman in North Carolina to save her life.
“Love so amazing. Love so divine.”
Within minutes, the next EMT rushed in with the lung team. We told her about Tod and his love of the Dallas Mavericks. We told her about the woman in North Carolina who would get Tod’s heart and would soon be wondering why she has a strange desire to watch Mavericks games.
After about an hour, his lungs rushed out the door to save a man in Florida.
“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7
The same lungs that God breathed life into for Tod would now give life to a man in Florida. The lungs that climbed mountains so countless kids could hear about Jesus would now give life at sea level.
“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.”
It went on all night. They took his eyes so a blind man could see.
“Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?”
He gave everything… heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, eyes, skin, bones, tissue. Coolers rolled out, and planes took off one after another filled with gifts of hope.
Tod gave everything so that people who had no hope on Christmas Eve would receive the gift of life on Christmas morning.
What’s truly amazing about all of this and the reason it truly stirs our hearts is that Tod’s story is really God’s story. What Tod did for so many last night, God did for all of us on Christmas.
Like the woman in North Carolina, God’s word says our heart is defective.
“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” - Jeremiah 17:9
We are in desperate need of a transplant. Without a donor, we have no hope… no life.
On Christmas Eve, God entered the story. But instead of hope in a rolling cooler, we find it in a manger. Hope entered the world in a baby. Jesus. God with us.
A world with no hope on Christmas Eve, was given the gift of life on Christmas day.
“He came that we might have life and life to the full.” - John 10:10.
And just like Tod, God gave everything.
“For God so loved the world, that he GAVE his only son…” John 3:16
“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering… and by his wounds, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5
The ultimate gift.
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” - John 1:12
Those who received Tod’s gifts last night got a new life. Those who receive God’s gift today, get eternal life.
New heart, new breath, new sight, new life.
So in the midst of heartache and loss last night, I saw God’s story. I saw what God did for me. I saw hope.
I saw Jesus in Tod when he lived, I experienced Jesus in Tod when he died.
“A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born.”

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas 2016 Update

Just pretend that you received a Christmas card with an adorable picture, and on it was the link to this blog post so you can read our update. Cards just didn't happen this year. New Year's cards are maybe a possibility, but doubtful. So here is our update.

Campbell is in 3rd grade, loving school. His teacher is our neighbor down the street, and I love having an insider to keep me posted on him. He's a character. He played basketball, baseball and Upward football this year. He made the All Star baseball team and that helped him get more motivated to work hard I think. Jason coached him in baseball and they both had to learn how to work together in that setting but they were season champs, so it all worked out. He loves to play video games and watch You Tube videos.

Cade is in 7th grade. He's on the FCA leadership team, the Math Counts team, the 7th grade basketball and baseball teams, and our church middle school servant leader team. He is a born leader, but he's a quiet leader, behind the scenes. He loves to play X Box and play with our dog Sadie.

Cooper is in 9th grade, and handling high school quite well. He lives and breaths baseball, and works out after school three days a week with the varsity baseball team. He's getting so tall and strong. He has big dreams and we are excited to watch where his hard work takes him. He serves in children's ministry on Sunday mornings and middle school on Wednesday nights doing tech.

Jason's job has shifted some and he now focuses on our high school ministry at Pinelake. He's loving building relationships with the students and building a new leadership team. He has some exciting things planned for 2017.

I am still the Director of Childcare/MMO at Pinelake and loving it. I'm also still a Compassionate Entrepreneur with Trades of Hope, although in my fourth year I have had to step back some with our boys' busy schedule. But I love that I can do something to help those in poverty and trafficking from my home in the free moments that our family's schedule allows.

Jason and I are going to the Passion conference next week with our Seniors and then leaving from there to go to Pigeon Forge, TN to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. (That's just craziness!) We went there on our honeymoon, and if you had told me back then as a 21 year old newlywed where we would be now, I'm not sure I would have believed it. But I am so thankful and honored to be in this place in our journey. Not to end on a sad note, but we had a friend pass away this week, way too young and very suddenly. It has wrecked me on some levels. It makes me all the more certain that I have to take each day as a gift, ask God to show me opportunities to minister and love people, and love and serve my family daily because we don't know how long our time here will be. I want to not take a day in 2017 for granted. And I want people to remember me for making a difference. Here's to a wonderful new year!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Poor Peter, Wait that's me!

At the end of Matthew chapter 16, Jesus tells the disciples that he will die and on the 3rd day be raised to life. And Peter gets upset and says "Never Lord!" Verse 23 "Jesus turned and said to Peter, 'Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men."

And then the very next chapter, Peter, James and John get to go up to the mountain with Jesus, and he is transfigured, shown in his glorified state. They also see Moses and Isaiah and hear the voice of God who says "This is my son, Listen to Him!" Sweet Peter, after he picks himself back up off the ground, offers to build Jesus, Moses and Isaiah shelters. Why would Peter offer that? My NIV Study Bible says "Peter may have desired to erect new tents of meeting where God could again communication with his people... he seemed eager to find fulfillment of the promised glory then, prior to the sufferings that Jesus had announced as necessary... The idea was not appropriate, however, because Jesus had a work to finish in his few remaining days on earth."

Poor Peter thought he was saying the right thing. He didn't want his friend to die. What Jesus was saying didn't make sense and didn't sound right. He wanted good things for Jesus, and thought he would be King. But God had a bigger plan.

Peter wanted to build them little houses. He probably wanted to live in that holy moment. "Let's just stay here. We don't need to go onto this horrible thing that you said is going to happen. Just hang here." Luke 9:33 even says "He did not know what he was saying." Again, poor Peter thought, out of his flesh, he was saying something good. But God's plans were bigger. And Jesus needed to finish them.

We can only see temporary. But God sees eternal.

Help me Lord to see your big picture, and be obedient, even when it doesn't make sense, even when where I am seems safer. Your thoughts are higher than my thoughts and your plans are better. And I don't always need to know why. I am a why person, but I need to learn to obey without the why. Its a form of humbleness to trust you. Teach me.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Compassion for Starving People... I don't have it.

Matthew Chapter 5 contains the story of feeding the 4000, but something jumped out at me differently this time. Jesus is teaching the people and its time to go home. Jesus says in verse 32 "I have compassion for these people; they have already been with me three days and have nothing to eat. I do not want to send them away hungry or they may collapse on the way." Two major thoughts.

1. These people had been listening to Jesus for three days without food apparently. They were more spiritually hungry than physically hungry. That shows how dedicated they were to hearing him and being in his presence. No excuses. I have probably never been that desperate to be with Jesus. I come up with excuses all the time not to be with Jesus, and they aren't even good excuses. I need to do laundry, cook dinner, empty the dishwasher, get on Facebook, check my email, on and on and on. These people were starving, not just for food, but more starving for Jesus. 

Psalm 63:1 The Message "God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts"

Oh that that would be my prayer.

2. Jesus had been teaching and healing for three days at least. He had to be worn out. I can't imagine how worn out he was, but he didn't just say, "see ya people. I'm out. Y'all are on your own." He had compassion for them. As they were leaving him, he wanted to make sure they were ok. His compassion didn't have an end to it. My compassion and love for people needs to grow! Even when I'm tired and tired of people.   

I Peter 3:8 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

Teach me how to be compassionate Lord, even when I'm worn out.