Faith, Uncategorized

God Is Working In My Obedience

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Serving youth has always been a passion of mine. I work in a high school where my aim has been to positively impact the students in my classroom since DAY 1. A year ago we took a step of faith and left the church where we had become comfortable and followed God’s leading to a church in the community where we live and work. The Lord met us in that place in a very real way and we have seen growth in our daughter, marriage, and faith as a result.

The Lord has blessed us richly.

Not only were we welcomed into the new church with grace, but God provided many opportunities for us to dive in and serve almost immediately. Last Christmas we helped pack shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child, our daughter jumped in and fell in love with the Childrens Ministry and AWANA, my husband and I took foundational classes and our most recent venture has been my involvement in the Youth Group.

Every week I work alongside another female leader to coach a small group of girls in the church. We play games, listen to messages, read the Bible, and pray for one another every week. Last week, we finished our first book of the Bible since I started serving: Ephesians.

God has blessed me and grown me so much since I took the step of obedience to serve the youth of the church. First of all, I am able to work with students from the school  in a brand new context. I love being able to step outside of school curriculum and openly minister to these girls on Sunday nights.

Secondly, when I was approached by the Youth Pastor to pray about my involvement with the girls ministry I had so many thoughts run through my head. Lord, am I strong enough for this? I am coming out of one of the hardest seasons of my life. Can I really be the leader that these girls need me to be? But almost immediately my decision was confirmed when a student connected with me and prayed FOR ME. At school, I came back to my classroom to a letter from one of the girls from the youth group that talked about the ways in which she was praying for me.

I cried because here I was thinking that I needed to be strong for these girls, but the Lord is helping me heal by providing me strong girls too.

I’m learning that when we choose to be obedient God uses that to answer our prayers. He calls us out of comfort to perform His will, but He gives us the chance to respond in obedience first.

 

Faith, Uncategorized

Giving Back This Christmas

As a parent it is scary how easily the Holiday season can become overwhelming. Between all the gift buying, family gatherings, and Christmas programs December can easily become a month void of free time and short of rest.

This Holiday season I am putting in extra effort to ensure that even as things get busy that I never lose focus on the purpose of all this mayhem. After all, if it wasn’t for the birth of Jesus there would be no crucifixion, and no salvation. That salvation, by the way, was the best gift I ever received. Much better than anything I ever unwrapped on Christmas morning.

So in light of the sacrifice made for me by my Savior I am in search of ways to sacrifice for others this season.

Here are some ideas if you are looking for ways to give back this holiday season:

  1. Church gift drops: Every church who participates in a gift drop does so in a different way. My church usually takes part in the Operation Christmas Child gift drop, but this year we have shifted our focus to a more local organization out of Columbus, Ohio. My church is in a partnership with the Stowe Mission in downtown Columbus which is currently preparing to open a Crisis Pregnancy Clinic. They are in need of new items that come along with the territory and so our church is focusing our outreach efforts this Christmas in providing resources for this organization. If you are interested in giving to the Stowe Mission please click on the Stowe Mission link above for a list of materials needed.

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2. School Inquiries: Being a teacher I have heard many stories about people who have called into their local district and asked for any needs from families in the schools. Sometimes the school counselors can provide family needs anonymously. I’ve never actually served in this way, but I have a friend who does this annually and says it’s a huge blessing to know that she is meeting the real needs of a family in crisis. Last year she helped a family who had recently lost their home and belongings in a fire and gave that family hope during a very difficult time.

3. Cooking or Serving in a Soup Kitchen: When I was in youth group I remember serving alongside my peers in soup kitchens on various occasions. This is a truly humbling experience and gives you the chance to also meet a real and immediate need of members in your community. Depending on where you live many soup kitchens struggle to open on holidays like Christmas so if this piques your interest be proactive and get in touch with your local soup kitchen soon to offer your services.

4. Adopt-a-Family: This is another ministry offered mostly through churches, but occasionally school groups, clubs, and organizations will take part in taking up the requests of local families who are met with hard times. Adopt-a-Family programs oftentimes focus on gifts specific to child genders and ages so check with a local organization before purchasing anything.

5. Toys 4 Tots: This is a national charity with thousands of collection points around the country. They collect new toys to be donated to children in need. Check out their mission and link below for a list of drop off points or suggested items:

The mission of the U. S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program is to collect new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year, and distribute those toys as Christmas gifts to less fortunate children in the community in which the campaign is conducted.

My challenge to you this year is to find a charity or project that you can give back to this Holiday season. Giving back during this time of the year serves as a reminder to the reason behind Christmas and keeps us from getting too focused on ourselves and our schedules. If you are planning to give back this year I would love to hear about how and where you plan to do so. I’m always looking for new ideas for getting involved in the community whether that be locally or on a national level.

How are you giving back this Christmas season?