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Life on Mission as a Family

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As a family, we know we are called to love our neighbors and be a “light” to our community,
family and those around us. We are convinced that there is a clear CALLING in scripture to honor and
glorify God by spreading His Good News. There is a clear NEED in this world to find forgiveness of sins
and a relationship with God through Christ. And there is a clear PURPOSE for His followers to live as
ambassadors to the world.


Throughout our Christian lives, how Matt and I have lived this out has taken on different forms.
Here's what has stayed the same throughout our single days, dating, engagement, early marriage and now
being a family of four with two young kids:


• We want to live as though every person in our lives God has put there for a reason. Every
difficult family member, every co-worker we pass by in our building and greet with a smile as we
walk by without ever speaking, and every neighbor surrounding us of all ages, gender, and race.
• We want to live as though, hard as this life might be at times, the greatest thing to fear is a life
outside of God's promises and, even worse, an eternity apart from Him. What is worse than
cancer? Having cancer without knowing Christ. What is worse than depression? Having
depression without any hope in Christ. And even those we would consider “thiving” in life have
nothing apart from knowing Christ because fame, glory, material things, great looks, etc. are of no
value when you don't know Christ. Everyone has the same desperate need that trumps all other
needs: hope in Christ.
• We want to live as though we have nothing in and of ourselves to offer anyone but because we
know Christ, we have EVERYTHING to offer someone. The Holy Spirit is alive in me.
Therefore, God can use EVEN me. I have the power of HIS WORDS to share. I have the power
of PRAYER to pray for people. If I focus too much on my own insecurities or weaknesses, I'll be
hindered from seeing what God wants to do through me.
• We want to live as though we trust God to do the heart work that we are incapable of doing. We
want to find the hunger that God has already created. My job isn't to argue, lecture or twist
someone's arm into the faith. I don't have to have the best arguments for why we believe the Bible
to be infallible. I can start the conversation with good questions and genuine curiosity of
someone's spiritual life (or lack thereof) without needing the perfect responses. Prayer is our
greatest tool in seeing someone's heart change.
• We want to live as though this topic of faith that can be intimidating to approach with someone is
actually a topic that people in the world are craving to have with someone they trust.


Here are some practical ways as a family to live “on mission”:
• Take the time to SEE the people around you. Stop, smile, start a conversation, show genuine
interest in others. This week I was in the middle of yard work when I turned off my lawn mower
to interact with neighbors as they walked down the sidewalk. My husband joined the conversation
and was able to give them a ride to the grocery store so that they didn't have to continue their walk
to the bus stop (90 year old woman walking in 90 degree heat). I'm so glad that we took the time
to “see” them. We hope this is one deposit of many that could open a door to a significant
spiritual conversation.
• Talk about God in your normal, everyday conversations. “God is teaching me to be more
patient with my children” or “Praise God He answered my prayer about my aunt's health,” or
“God is working in my life in these ways...” This language will spark curiosity in the watching
world.
• Think about how you might use your time, money, relationships, talents, possessions to
serve and love others. I have a great backyard for kids. I get to bless many young mom friends
by inviting the children over so that she can have some time to do things she wouldn't otherwise
get to do. Yesterday it was so that my neighbor could mow. Today it was so my friend could go
to the gym. Pretty regular occurrence over here. All that we have belongs to God. How can you
be faithful with what you have? It is certainly not to store up for yourself.
• Be available. Clear your schedule. I'm not saying, “don't do anything.” I'm just saying clear
your schedule so that you can be available to think intentionally for how to spend your time.
What is “the need of the hour?” We need space from our busy schedules to think, “Who can we have over tonight?” or “How can we bless the family who just moved in across the street?”
• Food is always a great way to serve people. We keep frozen burgers and hotdogs in the freezer,
ready to pull out at any given notice. We are also likely to have ice cream, ingredients for s'mores,
drinks, or packaged snacks for the little ones. We want to live ready to invite someone over, even
if it's on a whim. And even if it's “just” a frozen burger.
• Ask questions. My friend once told me, “When you don't know what to say, just ask questions
because everyone seems to like to talk about themselves.” That was about 20 years ago and has
proven mostly true! My advice, if you've worked through the basic get-to-know you questions is
to now ask open ended questions that trigger emotions. For example: “What is your favorite thing
about living in Nashville?” or “What are the difficult things about motherhood in this season?'
Eventually, you might pray God opens the door for even deeper spiritual questions like, “Did you
grow up in church?” or “What would you say it takes for someone to go to heaven?”
• Partner with the church – don't do this alone. As I connect with something who may not be in
church, my prayer is always that they would come to know the Lord AND that they would get
plugged in to my church with me. My church is filled with women and men who love the Lord
and point me to Truth on a weekly, sometimes daily, basis. I want to always be thinking ways to
connect my non-believing friends with other believers so that they can see the beauty of the Body
lived out. Tomorrow, my mentor and I are meeting with a friend of mine at a park to study the
Bible together. My mentor and I are better together.


To live missionally is to surrender the idea that this life is mine to live on my own and for my own. I died
to living for myself when I became a Christian. Now, I see life through an eternal lens and want to be
faithful to truly love those around me by sharing God's love in my actions and in my conversation.

History isn't Destiny

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Genesis 50:20:

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

So, I think we all have a voice in our head without being “crazy.” It will often bring shame and accusations to us, and most times won’t even wait for us to get to our second cup of coffee before we subconsciously agree with it. 

“You’ll never get past your past.” or “You have a ceiling because of what was done to you.” or “Your history will define you no matter who you pretend to be.” “You’re a fraud and others will eventually find out.”

This voice is one that drags us backward, because that is where we feel the most inept and shameful. We tell ourselves, “There is no way my story will be a beautiful one because of where I came from. There is no way I can build a beautiful family, because I’ll end up just like my parents, or will become what my parents said I’d become.” This is the voice of shame - and it’s effective. 

My favorite strategy has two steps. First, simple agreement. That’s right. I just agree with the voice, but maybe not for the same reason you’d think. I know I’m limited. I’ve hurt others in my past and others have hurt me. I also carry regrettable decisions as I regret things that have happened to me. My past family wasn’t perfect, and the one I’m building also isn’t perfect. But God is perfect for the imperfect. 

Take the story of Joseph in the book of Genesis. His history was ridiculous and full of limiters. Bad family. Bad luck? Bad opportunities? Nothing was perfectly laid out for Joseph. But God is perfect for the imperfect. 

So what do we do? We agree that we are not perfect. Step two, remind yourself that the Gospel is perfect for imperfect people. 

Philippians 3:13–14:

I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind & straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 

Paul wasn’t celebrating a weird selective amnesia, but a gospel forgetfulness. He didn’t ignore his history, but refused it access to define his future. His future was determined by God and his Gospel. 

Lamentations 3:22–24:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

For you and me, when we hear the voice in our head of our lack, we can find peace in revisiting the gospel to celebrate the mercy of it all and enjoying what it has given us. We are free to forget, and free to strain forward. 

You’ll make decisions that are dumb and you’ll have regrets, and still God covers over a multitude of our worst moments with his best and most shining moment. He takes our baggage as we carry it to the cross. No longer are you defined by your past timeline. Your history is not your destiny.

 

Celebrating to the Glory of God

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When it comes to celebrations, let’s be honest, there seems to be two types of people- the people who love to celebrate- especially themselves- and the people who don’t make a big deal out of anything. To the non-celebrator, it often appears that the celebrators are self- centers and hungry for attention. To the major celebrators, it is easy to believe the non-celebrator is an Eeyore who never takes time to be thoughtful. Do you fall into one of these categories?

What if I said there was something selfish about both of these extremes? On the one hand, it is likely true that the one who is always hungry for the next celebration is seeking attention and wanting to have a fun time. It might be a little more difficult to see how the non-celebrator is also selfish, but often this is one who does not want to be thoughtful. This person might struggle to take their eyes off their self and observe another person’s growth or accomplishment.

As Believers in Christ, we can reclaim celebrations by making them Christ-centered. Now, this does not mean that every birthday party now must be a worship and prayer night, but it does mean taking time to acknowledge what God has been at work doing in a person over that year of life. And this intentionality only improves the specialness of an important day.

The Bible is full of big feasts and celebrations. That right there is enough to convince me of throwing a party. When I look at many of the feast in God’s Word, there is a theme of looking back and seeing what God has done. What if we began to do the same? I encourage you, at your next anniversary or birthday, to take time to reflect on what you have seen God at work doing. Write it down and give it to the person. How special would it be to get a list of ways you have grown in Christ-likeness over the year on your birthday? Or how sweet would a time be remembering the nearness of God during that year of your marriage. Christ-centered thoughtfulness only makes a celebration better!

Additionally, when you consider throwing, ask yourself… is something this honors God? Would the Lord smile about what you are commemorating? If so, I’d encourage you to have a party or prepare a special meal in honoring the moment. For example, gender reveal parties have become a bit of a debated topic because well… gender has become a debated topic. When we decided to have a gender reveal party, it was because we saw how society was downplaying both life inside a mama’s womb and gender. Therefore, we decided to throw a party to celebrate both of those things. From the outside looking in, it probably appeared to be nothing more than a get together of friends, but in our hearts, the entire day was worshipful. We were so thankful, not only for the life growing inside me, but also for the baby girl, made uniquely in God’s image.

So, no matter what side of the spectrum you may fall on, ask yourself what is the aim of my celebration (or lack thereof). You don’t have to throw a big party and spend a lot of money- although some situations might call for that- but just spend some time being thoughtful of the person or situation, and more importantly be thoughtful of the Lord. Celebrating one another truly helps build warm and loving families.

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