Archives for March 2011

Stirrings : Unashamed

Amy

Today I had one of those experiences where time seems to stop and the word “priceless” is the only way to describe the moment.  I was at my daughter, Hannah’s, middle school awards ceremony.  Hannah had consistently been on the honor roll at her school until last trimester, when she didn’t make it.  At the time, she sat in the stands with her 7th grade class and watched as (in her words), “all of my friends get called up to receive an award except me.”  She was a bit embarrassed and as a result quite motivated to make sure that situation didn’t happen again.  Talk about incentive!

So today, after working extremely hard, she was invited to receive an award for a 4.0 GPA this trimester.  I sat proudly in the parent section, watching the kids squirm in their seat, hoping their name would be called.    Hannah’s was, and she shyly walked down the stands toward the podium. It was a priceless moment…and so was the one I was about to experience.

As the students were called down, they were asked to form a line where they would be handed their certificate. The principal would then come by and shake their hand in congratulations.  The 7th graders  in line awkwardly shuffled their feet, giggled nervously, and many could barley squeak out a handshake, let alone look an adult in the eye.  I am sure they were beaming with pride on the inside, but kept their emotions quietly packaged behind their downward gaze. 

All, except one.  A Down’s Syndrome boy named David who stood out from every other child there.  In line, next to 30 of his peers, in front of his entire 7th grade class and hundreds of parents, he raised both of his arms in a football touchdown cheer when he was handed his certificate. Shaking his fists above a beaming smile, he held his certificate PROUDLY above his head for all to see and for his mom to clearly capture in a picture.  He waved his award with one hand and pointed to it with the other, “Mom, look!'”  He could hardly contain his personal joy of accomplishment!  He was so proud of himself and did not care what anyone thought about it, except his mom.  He looked at her, way up high in the stands, the entire time. I couldn’t help but smile! 
It was a gift, to see such freedom, such unrestrained joy in a teenager.  I thought about how much he stood out, not because of his Downs, but because of his lack of self-consciousness.  That self-consciousness that somehow seeps into our children as they grow into adolescents and then to varying degrees never seems to leave, even into adulthood.  David had no “self”- consciousness…he was Mom-conscious.  His display was entirely for her.  It was almost as if it was just the two of them in the auditorium.  At the end of the ceremony, David’s mom raced down the bleachers to give him a HUGE hug.  He has been a friend of our kids, so I went over to congratulate him.  With a bit of embarrassment, and no eye-contact, he said shyly, “Thank you Mrs. Hayes.”
I clearly was not his mom. 🙂
What a picture of how I believe God wants us to live for Him; without embarrassment, with pure joy of pleasing him, being SO proud of who we are and what we can do with the gifts He has given us…all for HIS glory.  If only our eyes could be just for Jesus.   Unashamed, unhindered, smiling eyes. What if we could be God-conscious? What if we truly trusted that God was our number one cheerleader so much so that no one’s opinion or judgement mattered at all?  What if we pictured Him in the stands of our life, as we accept awards (cheering), or even fall and scrape a knee because we were riding too fast and without a helmet (hugging).
When I was going through a difficult season of my life several years ago, God spoke to my heart, and said, “Amy, just have eyes for me.  When the road gets tough, or when its time to celebrate, look to me first, and I will clap, or wrap my arms around you, and walk through it with you.”
When you think of your relationship with God, maybe remember this sweet moment that I experienced today;  David, his freedom, his eyes JUST for his mom in the stands.  It is, I believe, the picture of our God and the relationship he yearns to have with us.

Give Back : E4 : What Can I Do?

Jen
Hi!  I am sharing a post written by our friend Brynn.  She has always been so loving and encouraging to us!  I look around the globe right now and find myself asking the very question at the front of this post.
What Can I Do?
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something.”  – Helen Keller quote that I heard from Lynne Hybels at The Justice Conference in Oregon.
So, what can you do?  This a question that we wrestled with through The Justice Conference.  Poverty, HIV/AIDS, human trafficking, disease, orphans – it can seem so overwhelming that we just decide to ignore the plight of most of the world, because it is difficult.  We also tell ourselves that the problem is so big that there is nothing we can do.  I have been there in the past, but now know that every one of us can make a huge difference in God’s plan for his world.  We tend to question God at times, and ask Him why He allows the world to be this way and why doesn’t He do something?  Shane Claiborne’s reply to this at the conference was that  “God says – I did do something – I made you – now, GO DO SOMETHING!”  Makes sense doesn’t it?  Didn’t God put believers here to continue the ministry and work of Jesus? If every one of Christ’s followers got involved in just one of the issues close to His heart, we would change the world.
So, again, what can you do?  Get involved – in anything that follows God’s heart for hurting people.  Serve in your community at a lower income school that needs support, get involved with clothing closets or food banks in your area, find a global cause that you can give financially to, volunteer your time for any ministry organizations that you know of.  It takes effort – the opportunity for service often does not show up at your door (although sometimes it does – with a neighbor or a friend).  You have to put yourself out there and pray that God will show you where he wants you to serve.  
I have not been able to stop thinking about this article that I read a few days ago –  It is a list of “guiding trends” that is put together every ten year by a Christian Foundation called “First Fruit”. They interview over 100 leaders in academia, policy, business, NGOs and Christian Ministry and select 10 trends that they believe will most significantly influence the coming years.  One of the trends really stuck with me as it is so central to our hearts at E4 with everything we do, and also related perfectly to all that was discussed at the Justice Conference.
“INCREASE IN WOMEN AND CHILDREN AT RISK – Poverty, war, ethnic conflict, massive migrations and environmental strains will contribute to a significant rise in and increased awareness of women and children-at-risk of human trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labor and displacement.  Globalization, inexpensive travel, porous borders, and high rates of corruption will contribute to an ease of trafficking women and children across countries and regions.  At-risk women and children will continue to experience a greater hazard of HIV, Malaria, Tuberculosis, and other global pandemics, causing many deaths and major social and economic disruption.  The number of children orphaned by AIDS, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, will continue to swell.”
This brings up many specific areas of service that you can get involved in.  If you are looking for specific organizations or ways to help, but feel that you need more direction, please contact me.   I would love to help any of you in your quest to follow Christ and God’s heart for the poor, marginalized and those treated with injustice.  
Brynn Schmidt
Brynn@e4project.org

Sharing The Good Stuff : Encouraging

Jen

Hi friends!  I have found this series at our church amazing and encouraging.  What will this series offer you this week?
God is a God of Second Chances So Pay Attention

Salvation comes from the Lord, but it might not always be what you were expecting.
http://vimeo.com/20652702

Easter : Hi! A Great Free Book!

Jen
Hey everyone.  I have been distracted from the blog lately, sorry!  I am an internal processor so when I am loaded up with life, my head and heart feel so consumed I just can’t get even the simplest of posts out. 

My two oldest kids have walked into friendships 101 and, we are all being schooled.  If I am honest, at times in the last few weeks, 2nd grade relationships and Kindergarten heart wrenching situations, have emptied me of all I have.  We are all growing as we walk on this adventure of life, with friends.  It seems bumps and bruises are inevitable along the road, but we are helping each other get back up and walk on.  I love that God says He is our ROCK and foundation in times like these. 

I have been reading this book called  The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide: How to Declutter, Organize, and Simplify Your Life by Francine JayIt’s a great spring cleaning read!  I must admit it’s making my house lighter after collecting too many things over the cold winter and last several years of making this house a home.  The book suggests you remove everything from a room and then only put back in what is useful or beautiful.  Can you just imagine the messes I am making.
Amy and I are working hard on the back end of our blog.  We are working with a designer to change the look of our blog.  We will be moving it soon to another site.  I feel torn between working on that one and keeping this one up.  We are so excited to share the new one with you!
My dad’s birthday is around the corner and I am super sad.  I ache to be with him again.  Here is one of my favorite pictures of him at our house celebrating his birthday.
There are signs of Easter all around, lent has started, the stores are overflowing with pastel high fructose corn syrup, trees are budding and the cold bite of winter is fading.  There is a devotional written by John Piper called Fifty Reasons Why Jesus Came to Die.  It’s a great read for the season.  It’s just a little each day and you can follow the link above to download it for FREE!  I hope it encourages you and helps to prepare your hearts this spring for the amazing act of sacrifice and love this Easter reminds us of.

That’s me.  I owe a few of you phone calls, some of you packages, my Bible Study is calling to me to return… I am working on it.  Hope this finds you all well.

Decorating : A Spring Project

Amy

I found this adorable chair on HGTV online.   I think I gravitated towards it since we (in Colorado) are approaching that time of year when spring is still a dot at the end of a long road, but a visible dot!  It is my favorite season, filled with yard work and projects, and freshly blooming flowers and ideas.  Please let us know if you try it!!

 

 

Materials Needed:

  • Adirondack chair
  • letter or number printed on lightweight copy paper
  • pencil
  • painter’s tape
  • measuring tape
  • exterior paint
  • fine-tipped artist’s paintbrush
  • non-yellowing, aerosol wood sealer

Measure Chair Back

Use a measuring tape to determine the size of the
 letter or number.

 

Print Letter or Number

Use a program such as Adobe Photoshop, Microsoft Word or Gimp for Mac to print the letter or number of your choice. The letter or number should be printed in reverse so that it can be used as a stencil.
Tip: Local copy shops will also provide this service for a small fee.

 

 

 

Check Size

Make sure the letter or number looks like it’s the right size by holding the printout up to the chair back. If it’s too large or too small, reprint it at the appropriate size.

 

 

Create Stencil

With the paper facing printed side up, use a pencil to scribble lead onto the entire border of the letter or number.

Tape Stencil to Chair

Use painter’s tape to secure the stencil to the chair, printed side down. Make sure it’s perfectly level by using the top edge of the piece of paper as a guide.

Transfer Stencil

Use a lead pencil to scribble onto the entire border of the letter or number. Press firmly so that the lead from the bottom side of the piece of paper will transfer onto the chair back.

Check Outline

Once the entire outline is transferred, gently lift one side of the paper to make sure the lead is visible on the chair. If certain areas aren’t as visible as others, re-attach the tape and scribble on them until they are easier to see.

 

 

 

Darken Outline

Remove the paper stencil and use a lead pencil to make the transferred outline a little darker. That way, it will be very easy to see it when painting.

 

 

 

Fill In With Paint

Using an artist’s paintbrush, fill in the letter or number with exterior-grade paint.

 

 

 

Seal Letter or Number

Protect the letter or number by coating it with a layer of clear, non-yellowing, aerosol wood sealer. Hold the can about 12 inches away from the chair and move it side-to-side in smooth, sweeping motions. Allow to dry.

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