Wednesday, May 16, 2012

As Long As He Gives Me Breath!

My dad at my daughter's birthday.
My dad had a stroke on Mother’s day.  It seems weird to see that sentence typed on my screen. Eight words that are just letters from the alphabet, but those little letters arranged in that certain way have changed my family.  Right now there are so many questions and “what if” thoughts rolling around in my head.  There are simply not enough answers to solve all the problems that my mom and dad face right now.  At times all these circumstances can leave me feeling overwhelmed and inadequate.

Since Easter, my daughter had an emergency appendectomy.  My father-in-law had an emergency gallbladder removal and now my dad’s stroke.  We are all so thankful that they are with us today.  I cannot put into words my deep gratitude to God for His hand of protection.  But, I have been traveling on an emotional roller coaster and I am ready for the ride to be done.  When life hits hard like it has my family or when we find ourselves being attacked by the enemy, how do I react?

Easter 2011
During times like this, it becomes very clear what I cannot do.    I cannot keep bad things from happening.  I cannot control outcomes.  I even cannot kiss it and make it all better.  I feel so helpless and at times frustrated.  There is only one sure thing I can do or control through all of "life" stuff and that is my reaction.

My reaction is a choice.  Sure I have many feelings that flow through me during rough, discouraging, and hard times some of them not so good…hey I am only human.  But how I express those feelings is what I can control.  I choose to react the way God would have me to react.  Sometimes that can be genuinely hard to do, especially when you are really angry or hurt.  Gods just simply asks us to trust even in the middle of tough things.

Christmas program 2011
The last few days, I have been reminded about how much God loves me.  Not only does He love me, but He also gives me everything I need.  He provides for me spiritually, emotionally, physically and mentally.  He brings friends and family to carry my family and encourage us.  He is all and does more than we can imagine.  He holds us in the palm of His hand. 

Starting a new church in the months ahead is a lot of work.  All these seemingly bad things that have happened in the last month and half could really discourage John and I and distract us.  However, I have to know that no matter what we face God is on our side.  He has strengthened my resolve.  He has strengthened my determination.  And when I have done all (Eph. 6), I have decided …..I will stand firm.

Bay City last fall 2011
I was told during boot camp that we would face difficult times and attacks from Satan.  I really did not like hearing those words.  I cringed just at the thought of it.  In fact, I quickly buried those thoughts.  Of course, nobody wants to deal with stuff like that, I am no different.  I really like what George Wood posted on his facebook recently, “Paul does not say, "Everything that happens to us is good." Rather, the apostle declares, "God works good in all things." (Rom 8:28) (Man, I needed to hear that today!)

I read this verse about a week ago and I think God gave it to me for this very season of my life. I've been meaning to blog about this verse.  I just did not know this is how this blog would unfold.

Psalm 116

I love the Lord because he hears my voice
    and my prayer for mercy.
Because he bends down to listen,

    I will pray as long as I have breath!

I have prayed this as a prayer constantly since I read it. Little did I know how much I needed those few words written on paper so long ago and how they would impact my life right now.   I love the image of God in this passage.  I see Him as a dad bending down to help His daughter.   My Father not only loves me, He bends down to me, hears me, and takes care of me.  He is working all things together for my good and for my family’s good.  He has called me and I will answer that call.  

In bad times, good times, I will pray to my Jesus as long as He gives me breath!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Very Happy Mother's Day!

 This post is our special Mother's Day card for our grandmas!  
We hope you like it!
 A Haiku for You!
-By the 12 year old!
 We love you grandma.
Today is your special day.
Have a "Blossom" day!

 Now a Limerick too!
-By the 9 year old!
Grandma today is your day.
Hey, it is even in May.
We all love you
And the things that you do
So Hip Hip Horray!
Happy Mother's Day to two of the most wonderful Grandma's in the whole wide world!
We love you and we hope you have a wonderful day!

Monday, May 7, 2012

God is Bringing People Together!

Have you ever played organized sports?  I did once.  I played girls softball in the 8th grade.  Hahahaha I laugh just thinking about myself playing that year.  You probably would have laughed at me as well.  Let's just say I am not a very sporty kinda girl.  I do much better with a paintbrush than a bat.  But can you imagine me being the only person on that team???  I was bad enough on my own.  Me.... being the only player would mean certain disaster. It just couldn't be done.  I need others to make up a team to play the game.   Actually, if were just me, my sorry one person team would just be disqualified and I wouldn't even be able to play. 

Well, church planting is the same.  I cannot build a new church all by myself.  The thought makes me actually shiver.  My hubby, as brilliant as he is, cannot do it by himself.  He would probably drop dead from a heart attack or have a nervous breakdown.  Ask yourself this question,  "Should one person start a new church all by themselves?"  You would probably come to the conclusion that the answer is NO!

Why? For two reasons...

#1.  It is God's job to build His Church! I love this verse...

Psalm 127

A song for pilgrims ascending to Jerusalem. A psalm of Solomon.

Unless the Lord builds a house,
    the work of the builders is wasted.
Unless the Lord protects a city,
    guarding it with sentries will do no good.

If we try to do any building on our own it is in vain.  I do not want anything I do to be useless.  I want it to have value.   I want God to be glorified. 

Because of reason...
 #2.  It is not about me!

It is about the body of Christ reaching out to those who do not know Him.  I cannot reach everyone; because of so many reasons.  The main reason that it is simply impossible for me to connect with 14,000 lost people in our new home town.  We need a team working together to accomplish such a task if we are to reach others with the good news of Jesus. 

Philippians 2:2

New Living Translation (NLT)
Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.

What is our mind and purpose.   

Here is our mission statement... 

It has been so cool to see God bring together people that would never have worked together on their own.  God is building a core group of people to come and work with us in Bay City.   He is bringing together the right people, with the right skills, with the right personal stories to come together and do something amazing in our new town.   Here are some of the most wonderful people already coming to work with us.

 Pastor Chris and Pastor Elaine Hooton are both ordained ministers with the Assemblies of God.  They already live in Bay City and are so excited about partnering with us in this new church plant.  Pastor Chris is the coffee guru.  So expect an amazing cup of coffee when you come and visit our church.    He has such a passion for children's ministry it just makes my heart feel happy.  Pastor Elaine is very creative and full of talents.  She is a very remarkable woman of God.  She knows her way around a computer and graphic design too...thank goodness.   God knew we needed that kind of wonderful help.  John and I are so pleased to have them as part of the Riverfront team. 

Angie has been working with us at our home church here in Gladwin for a few years now and she will be commuting to Bay City to help out.  She is so energetic and so about building God's kingdom.  She has the biggest, most kind heart I know! She spent a year in Australia at Hillsong's school.  There she learned a great deal about ministry and God's plan for His church.  She is just one of those kind of people that make you feel so good after being with them.   

Even my family is joining in on the fun.  My parents just sold their home in the Detroit area and will being moving north.   They have so many talents and abilities that I would be writing on and on and on and on.  I think you got the picture.   My parents have been Christ followers for so long.  It will be fun to be in the same city working together doing what God has called us all to do. 

There are more people that I am sure will be joining us that I know about and do not know yet.  I cannot wait to introduce you to them in the future.  But for now we have the makings of the most remarkable team.  

I can hardly wait for launch day!  I am so excited!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

First Photo Shoot for Fun!

I had the fun opportunity to take some prom pictures of a young man in our youth group.  I had a great time testing out my skills.   

Having too much fun with my camera!  Thanks Cody...hope you had a great time!

Friday, May 4, 2012

You and Temptation!

When it comes to temptation….

You will either be the fool who, alone, inevitably gets caught in sin.

Or you will be the righteous person who humbles themselves, reaches out, and says “I cannot fight this on my own.” 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 , 12

Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. 10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. 12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.

You do not have to be alone!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

A Mother's Day Tribute

By, Christina Johnson

Dearest Grandma, did you ever know the impact of the words you prayed?
How those words would affect my children’s life today?

The life you lived and the words you said,
The tears you cried as you knelt by your bed.

Grandma, never wavering in prayer for your sons;
You trusted in God’s promise until their hearts were won.

The day each boy gave his heart to the One who died on a tree
Is the day God heard your longing plea.

That in heaven you would someday see your sons walking down that golden street,
And in that moment, in your heart, your joy would be complete.

Train up a child, God’s promise in His Word you read,
His old heart would not turn from the precious blood shed.

Today, you rejoice with your sons at your side
Before the One, together you are a part of His beautiful bride.

Because of the life you lived and the words you said,
The tears you cried as you knelt by your bed.

But Grandma did you know that there is so much more blessing to come?
When you wept for your family, could you have known the entire sum?

For here waiting on earth is countless generations of those who know
About their beautiful Savior their lives they owe.

They are pastors, missionaries, workers of Christ’s great call,
To rescue those perishing from the fall.

Even I, a very young heart, know His name,
And someday I will proclaim Christ's great fame.

And so will go on the story for generations to come,
Until this earth we all leave from.

To that Book of Life more names will be written
To Jesus their hearts forever will be smitten.

Because of the life you lived and the words you said,
The tears you cried as you knelt by your bed.

Thank you great, great grandma for what you have done;
For my life is forever changed because of God’s Son.

When I am old, may the same be said of me,
Generations to know Christ, a wonderful legacy;

Because of the life I lived and the words I said,
The tears I cried as I knelt by my bed.

Thank you Grandma!

I wrote this from the perspective of my daughters.  This is written in honor of my mom, who inspired the words and her beautiful legacy that she passed on to us.   The picture at the top is my praying Great Grandma Clara,and her sons.  My grandpa is in the middle, the youngest.  We have countless letters from the 1930's to my grandpa from his mom.  In those letters my great grandma tells my grandfather about the love of Christ for him.  We cherish those old letters.  Sadly, she passed away before my mom or I could meet her.  But someday....we will!