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Guest Blog: Five Steps to Plan Repeatable Events

This guest blog is written by a dear friend, coworker, and my supervisor, Preston Tippett.  Preston has worn many hats in the WinShape College Program including Event Planner, Small Group Leader, Event Specialist, and now serves as a Coordinator of Programming.

Everyone who works around us thoroughly enjoys laughing at our dynamic as Preston is definitely the “how” to my “wow”.  While I am most excited to meet new people and dream up new ideas, Preston keeps us grounded, on track, and productive.  Below he shares practical insights on planning repeatable events!


As a ministry leader of students, you know very well how often events take place.  All. The. Time.  As soon as one is finished, your focus and energy shift to what is next on the calendar.  Often, you are forced to think about and plan for multiple events simultaneously.

I’m here to give a few thoughts about how you can go about planning for events in a way that could alleviate your future to-do list.  Because let’s be honest, who wants to reinvent the wheel or duplicate work every time you gear up for an event?  Me neither!  Below are five essentials for creating repeatability in planning events.

  1. Have a trackable task management system, something that you can refresh and reuse each time.

    Ideally, this system should track how far out from the event (days, weeks, or months) you need to complete the task.  Once you input that information for each particular task, you won’t have to take the time to think about when you need to do that certain task, nor are you feeling overwhelmed in looking at every task that needs to get done for the event to happen.  Rather, the system is reminding you when you need to complete that task.  I recommend your system to have a filtering or ordering option, where you can select which parts you want to view based on how far out from the event that task is to be completed.

  2. Know your budget.

    We are called to be good stewards of what is entrusted to us.  Planning events usually comes with stewarding a good bit of money and using that money wisely.  It is important that you keep track of how much you are spending throughout the planning of your event.  The benefits to tracking your spending are twofold: you know on the latter end if you spent more or less than you were allotted, and you have a very accurate estimate of how much to allot for each line item the next time around.  I would recommend not just tracking the overall amount spent, but know how much you spent on each individual aspect of the event.  Break it down as specifically as you can.

  3. Take notes!

    Have you ever had a great idea and think, “There’s no way I’ll forget that, that’s too good of an idea,” only to later have no recollection of it?  One of the easiest ways to limit your ability to create repeatable events is to forget what you’ve done before.  This might sound slightly like the part above regarding task management, but the difference here is not just knowing the task that needs to be done, but knowing how to go about completing that task.  Let’s say, for example, that you used an outside vendor to provide supplies for your event and you would love to use them again.  You would want to take note of that company’s name, the specific vendor’s name and contact information, as well as any additional notes about the specifics of what you did.

    Bottom line: take note of how you completed tasks, and create a reminder in your task management system to review those at the start of your next event.

  4. Evaluate and refine.

    This step is crucial if you want to create repeatable events and maximize your efforts.  If you don’t evaluate what you are doing, how would you ever know if you are creating the best version of what you are doing?  Don’t just do it the same exact way year after year.  You could be left with designing your programming around a theme to a TV show series that none of your students have context to because it’s that outdated (yes, my team has made that mistake).  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t strive to replicate what you do year after year, but rather to do so with discretion.  Essentially, you should schedule time after each event to sit down with your team and evaluate what you believe went well and what needs to be improved.  I have a practice of creating a new note in my phone during events where I can quickly jot down anything that comes to mind in the realm of tweaking, improving, or removing.  This helps me when I come to the team’s evaluation meeting, as I can pull up that note and see the list of items I think should be reconsidered to make better.

    The second step to evaluating is refining.  The reason for evaluating is to know the areas that need refining.  Use the energy and momentum from your evaluation meeting to put the refining into action.

  5. Celebrate!

    This isn’t necessarily a tip for planning for repeatability, but it is an important step that, surprisingly, can easily be overlooked.  After you’ve accomplished your event and evaluated its success, it can feel natural to simply move on to the next event that needs attention.  However, I would highly encourage you to schedule time for you and your team to celebrate the completion of your event.  Set aside a specific time in your calendar for your team to enjoy a meal together or create a shared experience.  Be sure to clarify the connection between the accomplishment and the celebration.  Celebrating with your team is a great way to create a natural close to the event you have just planned and executed.

Review of Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love

 

Gloria Furman’s work Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love is a message to all women who find themselves in the role of being a wife of someone in full time ministry.  She shares stories of times when many members of the congregation placed their expectations onto her to fulfill obligations she never imagined were hers, such as working to repair a leaking ceiling in the church foyer.  Furman and her husband pastor a church in the Middle East, thus gender roles are defined and experienced differently than in more Western environments; yet, Furman shares stepping into this role God has called her into with courage and care, especially as she has to work so tirelessly to protect her children and care for her husband who faces a muscular disorder.

From her experience as a pastor’s wife, Gloria Furman encourages other women to be aware of the many expectations the church will have for her.  She encourages women to have boundaries in place of what she is able to do for the Body and to always first prioritize her individual relationship with Jesus and caring for her husband and family.  She bravely suggests as a pastor’s wife to still seek out older women in the Body for mentoring and to allow fellow members to assist with children, when trying to attend to them while a pastor may be busy delivering a sermon or caring for a family.

Pastor’s Wife: Strengthened by Grace for a Life of Love is specifically helpful in honestly addressing many expectations pastor’s wives face with very specific anecdotes that help bring this tension to light.  Furthermore, Furman’s experience translates to a variety of global contexts for pastor’s wives in any part of the world.  On the other hand, Furman’s work is limited in directly addressing wives of pastors rather than all women in ministry and addressing wives from a very conservative context.  She addresses women in similar contexts to her own which prescribes a very small church with limited staff and extremely conservative gender roles.


Thanks for stopping by!

profMy name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.

I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

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What a College Student Needs from the Church

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to share a guest blogger with you, but I am overjoyed for that guest blogger to be Miss Erin Jagus!  I had the privilege of getting to know Erin last year as she is a Berry College student and have loved learning more about her heart to love the people around her fiercely.  Erin shared her experiences on what she’s learned college students need from a church congregation.

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I have had the wonderful blessing of being a part of a revival that is taking place at Berry College this year. With the scholarship that I have, I live on Berry’s campus year-round (yes even summer and most of winter break) and work. This past summer, a student started to lead a worship night in our dorm’s common space. It was simply a night to come and worship each week. A friend of mine, and a LifeCast (read more about LifeCast here) short term intern last year, was on campus during the training week before LifeCast. On that Thursday, he came to the worship night and the Lord gave him a beautiful vision—to keep this going even when the school year starts. When school started, my friend asked me to speak. We were expecting maybe 20 people to show up, but the Lord had other plans. Fifty-nine people packed into a common space on campus that first week. Since then, we have continued meeting under the name “Common Worship” in different spaces across campus each week and the Lord has been moving in mighty ways. Now, I get to do more behind-the-scenes work along with seven others who have a heart of leadership and a passion for seeing our community grow closer to the Lord.

Part of being behind-the-scenes means that I get to sit in on a lot of meetings. A lot of the meetings thus far in the semester have been discussing whether Common Worship needs to become a Student Organization. When we are asked this, we always are told to be thinking of how to answer the questions “What need are you meeting on campus?” and “How is what you’re doing any different from what other religious groups are doing?”

This is a slightly weird thing to think about, because in simple explanation, it might sound similar to any other religious group meeting. We gather, pray, sing, someone speaks, we sing, pray, and then we disperse. Why is what Common Worship is doing different? What need is Common Worship meeting? To be honest, I don’t have a clear answer. Common Worship is completely student-lead and most of us are under the age of 20. In talking to the leadership team and those that come every week, here were some of the common themes:

 

  1. Prayer: Priscilla Shirer would tell you that prayer is part of the armor of God in Ephesians 6 (see verse 18), and I would wholeheartedly agree with her. Instead of having prayer be the last thought, God is teaching us to make it one of our first responses to any situation. In preparation for our weekly event, the leadership team spends a great deal of time on our faces—both as a group corporately thanking Him and asking the Lord to have His way in us, then individually asking the Lord to guide us and make us bold. One of the sweetest parts of my week is after Common Worship is over. After hanging out and packing up, we go to next week’s location and just pray over the space, the speaker who will share, and the community that will come. We know that our gathering only happens once a week, but we believe that the Lord is working in the hearts of His people always.

 

  1. Community: A huge part of the college experience is finding where you belong. A huge part of the human experience is wanting to feel known. Our hearts were made for connection; our souls were made for community. One of my personal passions is a community that is intentional. Not just a community that knows names and faces, but a community that knows each other’s joys and sorrows. A community that does not just come together once a week, but a community that does life together. College students love coffee, love food, and love conversation. Conversation leads to connection and connection leads to community. I think intentional communities give us a small taste of heaven on earth.

 

  1. Authenticity: Everyone wants to know that they are not alone in what they are going through, genuinely and really. No one wants a performer, someone who will put on their “Christian mask” for a night and play a role. Be willing to stop pretending like everything is alright. Be honest. Be open. Be genuine. Be real. We learn from each other’s stories. I love how the Lord teaches through trials and pain but does not leave them to be painful. He uses them for His glory in His timing. What I love about an authentic environment is that it spreads—from one heart to another to a community to the world. I think authenticity is the place where shackles of religion break off and lead to a real relationship with the Father.

 

There are people who regularly attend Common Worship each week who do not regularly attend a church in Rome. To be completely honest with you, I am still on a journey to find a church to attend and serve.

But the church is not just a building to attend each Sunday and Wednesday. We are the Church. You are the church. I am the church.

As believers, we are image bearers. A synonym for bearer is “bringer”. We bring the image of God, the kingdom of heaven, to the Earth through the power of Christ at work within us.

I cannot express to you enough just how in awe I am of what God is doing here. He is reviving this campus, realigning our heartbeats to His. He is preparing the hearts of this campus for greater things. Getting to serve at Common Worship makes me feel alive—body, mind, and soul. Getting to worship with fellow college students at Common Worship makes me feel alive—body, mind, and soul. Our generation is yearning to know the Lord. Our generation is asking the Lord to lead us from dead religion to dynamic relationship.

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10 things to say to a grieving friend

1. “You can only be where you are.”

My counselor said these words over and over to me as I kept feeling like I should have made some kind of peace with my grief, I should have found some kind of purpose in it, or I should feel like I could go a day without a splitting headache. Shoulds can be really loud sometimes, but what wise friends shared with me in the pit of grief was I could only be where I was.  If that meant that day I was angry, that day I would be angry.  If it meant that day I wanted to cry, I would cry.  And if it meant that day I just needed to do something mindless, that was okay too.

2. “You’re going to disappoint people.”

Any experience with true grief is an experience of disappointing those around you. Expectations will go unmet and obligations unfulfilled and while I often carried this guilt, I learned that to truly hold my grief often meant not having space to hold ways I had previously shown up.

In her book Out of Sorts, Sara Bessey states that “We sort our lives on the threshold of grief.”  Something about grief, about seeing the frailty and brevity of life changes us.  It makes us.  Often for a time it sends us searching but it always leads us to new understandings and perspectives, also manifesting in new parts of ourselves.  A friend shared with me that this sorting of ourselves on the threshold of grief is like rearranging your house.  While we are reevaluating and moving around the furniture for its best, practical use, if a friend comes in to sit down on the couch where they have always sat, they will fall to the floor.  Becoming new versions of ourselves means not showing up in ways we always have.  Honest grief will cause you to disappoint people and it is a season, in which, they can only be understanding.  Their season will one day come.

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3. “That makes sense to me.”

No more gracious words graced my ears for the summer months of 2016 than these. When I would share the deep pains of my heart, the big questions that kept me up at night, or the fears I had facing the future, some would try to start statements with “at least” or quote scripture to me, but blessed friends would look at me with love and say the most honoring words “That makes sense to me”.

4. “I love you.”

Simple enough but goes the longest way. Your words won’t fix the hurt, but your continued loving presence will minister so much more than any words ever could.

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5. “I’m so sorry.”

Affirming the hurt and not trying to fix it. Saying you’re sorry to a grieving person makes room for them to sit in their pain in your presence.

 

6. “I’m here for you.”

When you need it and when you’re ready, even if that isn’t right now. I’m here for you leaves room for them to best define how they need you rather than assuming.

7. “Where do you see God right now?”

This one is not for the faint of heart due to the extremely honest nature of the depths of grief. You may be met with “I don’t. I literally can’t even begin to think about him.”  And you may be answered with “everywhere and in it all.”  But making room for them to share and wrestle with their walk with God when you aren’t afraid if their wrestling, anger, or doubt is an incredible way to care for those who are grieving.

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8. “That’s really brave.”

When someone is honest about the questions they are wrestling with or the doubts they have in their theology, rather than answering their questions, sitting with them in the asking and affirming their courage makes you an extremely safe place.

9. “How are you?”

They key to this question is to not stop asking. “How are you?” “What does grief look like for you right now?”  not only the week after a loved one is lost but in the months to come.  Remember the anniversaries and birthdays.

10. “It’s not lost on me.”

This is one of my favorite lines Coach Taylor on Friday Night Lights would say to a hurting player. He would look into a young man’s broken eyes and compassionately share “It’s not lost on me” that you’re hurting, that you’re angry, that you don’t know what’s going on.  Friends who remember your grief and bring awareness in a caring and private way are friends whose ministry is never forgotten.


 

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Thanks for stopping by!  My name is Emily Katherine.  On this page you’ll find lessons I’ve learned through my own story, primarily in the sudden loss of my precious Dad on my 22nd birthday.  You’ll find book reviews and recommendations.  And in between you’ll find a few resources I use in teaching middle school through college students.  I would love to hear from you through your comments!  Click the follow button to stay in touch.

10 ways your church can reach millennials

“What in the world are we going to do about millennials?”

This is the question I heard the Church murmur and whisper and more recently shout from the rooftops.  Some have given up, some have fared well, but many churches find themselves confused and desperately needing help when it comes to reaching so many that I call friends born mostly between 1980 and 1995.  A few researchers expand this bracket to 2000, but many draw the line between Millennials and Generation Z somewhere between 1996-1998.

Lazy, entitled, man buns, unemployed, essential oils- while some these words are adjectives and some of these words are nouns, these are the descriptions of our generation.  I won’t go on my soap box of why we are often misunderstood, but I think Tim Elmore says it well in his introduction to his book, Generation iY.   He describes that if a seasoned sailor were out at sea and felt a new gust of wind from a totally new direction, he would not turn and fuss at the wind.  Rather, he would adjust his sails accordingly.  Churches, though, respond to millennials’ new and unique nature in quite polarizing ways.

Of each generation currently making up the population, millennials come in dead last on Church attendance.  I have sat in seminary classes, Christian conferences, and across the table from various ministry personnel who have all found themselves either really excited about the changes millennials offered their churches or really lost as to how to handle them, an important piece of information to have under control considering we are now the largest generation.

So here are a few practical tips to better engage millennials, increasing their attendance and involvement.

     1.  Hire a millennial.

Many (especially GenXers) love to harp on what a lazy generation we are.  We are so unemployed and lazy, yet what many don’t recognize is that many of us reached a working age when the economy was crashing.  Others of us later in the bracket, came to a working age when many healthcare reforms were made, limiting many employers from the jobs they could offer.  There are less and less blue collared jobs as they are being outsourced to various countries where manufacturing needs can be met at cheaper rates.  There are very few full time jobs available.  Employers are no longer coming to colleges and hiring students.  Instead, we spend hours upon hours in a career center and crafting the perfect resume and cover letter, knowing our resume will typically only be viewed for about 45 seconds.

Churches, this can be to your benefit.  Hire a millennial, maybe even part time.  Invite them to meetings where decisions are made that effect your whole congregation and get their input.  The most influential people to millennials are millennials.  Want to influence us?  Show us you believe in our generation by having one of us on your team.

     2.  Be clear about what you’re about.

Millennials are naturally distrusting of large corporations and organizations.  Have a stated purpose and mission somewhere obvious on the wall, in your bulletin, and on your website.  Don’t assume we will tithe because that’s what we’re supposed to do or what we watched our parents do if a clear budget is not accessible.  When you’re hosting an event or launching a new campaign have a clearly stated purpose for it.  Don’t just assume we are behind everything you are doing because we are a part of your organization.  Our membership has to be enticed and maintained and offered a lot of coffee each step of the way.

     3.  Focus on visuals.

I really can’t say this enough.  Maybe when you’re hiring a millennial, hire a graphic designer.  If you publish absolutely anything typed in Comic Sans font or using WordArt you might as well go ahead and throw it in every millennial’s trash can.  Millennials are experts on brand clarity and consistency.  We are masters at social media marketing and this is a way we can really benefit your church and your ministry.  But millennials will rarely be bought in if your bulletin, slideshow, and website haven’t had a serious facelift in the last 3 years, or really the last 3 months.

     4.  Website.

When we are new to town or looking for a new church in town, the very first thing we visit is a website.  Here’s what will bring millennials to your church:

  • aesthetic appeal
  • easy to find times of when to be there
  • stories of people who have been to your church via video
  • clearly stated mission and purpose
  • diversity of ministry staff (race and gender)
  • up to date calendar of events with good graphic design promoting each event

 5.  Singles.

Our generation is marrying later and later.  The average age a millennial marries is around 28 years old.  If your church drops off in the programs and events it offers between high school and young marrieds or young parents, you are dropping off on millennials.

     6.  Offer events that are solely about building community

While we are the most connected generation through social media, smartphones, etc., we are also the generation most starved for community.  Many of us don’t work in an office where we know what’s going on with John in the cubicle next to us’s daughter.  Many of us work from home or coffee shops because our work is photography, graphic design, social media marketing, etc.  Millennials look to the church as a way to bridge true, deep, and authentic connection with others.  If every event is packed with programming, it’s easy to miss the people around you.  Millennials are looking for nights the church all go bowling together, movie nights in the parking lot, or other events that are just about getting to know each other.

     7.  Stop assuming we are useless.

I think this is a way churches are really missing out.  The millennials in your church most likely cannot cross stitch and quilt like the boomers can, but they are creative.  They can reinvent the same systems you have been using forever to check in preschoolers, often by suggesting new technology that could really benefit your ministry.  Ask us questions.  Show us our input is valid and we have a place in the church.

 8.  Offer services on Sunday night.

We are not a crowd that is okay with anything before 10am.  Remember how you used to have that sun rise service for the boomers?  Change it to a sunset service for the millennials and you’re right on track!

   9.  Share stories.

There is power in story and millennials are particularly captivated by them.  Have members of your church share their story through a video or interview on Sunday morning.  Have the person being baptized share their story of coming to know Christ.  Encourage small group leaders to not just teach, but share about who they are.  We want a place where we can know and be known.

     10.  Use social media.

Use it.  Live it.  Breathe it.  Post your sermons, tweet quotes that stood out, put your next big event on your Instagram story.  Reference social media in your sermons.  Create Facebook events for your events.  Create images of quotes from your church others can share to bring more and more people to your page.

Don’t know how to start? See number 1.


What insights do you have?

Comment below.

Eyes on the road

Feature photo by Katherine Dalton

I feel like the story of the Prodigal Son has been a key story in my life this year, not necessarily because I’ve had some uniquely wayward experience- I do so greatly need grace each and every day.  But, the Lord has continued to bring this story back to the surface for me.

I’ve been struggling recently with the question What do I do when I am watching a friend walk into a situation I know is not good for them?

We all have been there and I know that friends have been in the very same situation for me.  So what do we do? How do we respond?

I was talking to a friend recently who is battling a season of watching her sister make choices that she knows will cause her pain down the road.  She loves her so much that it hurts to know she’ll soon be hurting.  But, we all have been given advice at times we didn’t want it and know exactly how we received it.


My small group girls have been walking through the book Popular by Tindell Baldwin, in which Tindell shares her testimony, many choices she wishes she didn’t make and scars she wishes were never created.  She shared that amidst this she felt so alone and so broken, but the one thing that kept her going was that amidst it all, her parents loved her.

She had cheated on her boyfriend when she was drunk so he broke up with her and though she was in a sea of consequences for choices she should have never made, her parents bought her a bouquet of a dozen red roses and put them on her night stand and told her they were sorry her heart was broken.


And what I realized recently about the Prodigal Son is that for the Father to have seen the Son coming from a long way off, it means that He hadn’t taken His eyes off the road.

The Father had never lost all hope for His child, never decided to just go on with life and believe His son would always be broken and wayward.  He kept His eyes on the road in eager anticipation of His son’s return and when He laid His loving and gracious eyes on Him from a long way off, He ran to him.


And I think this is how we’re called to love the people in our lives that we see in seasons of brokenness.  If it’s our place to speak boldly and directly about the choices they’re making then may we ever so abidingly do so (disclaimer- if anyone in your life is in danger to themselves or anyone around them, it is not only your place but your obligation to say something and report the situation).  But for situations that are not life threatening, situations that maybe kind of aren’t your business or aren’t your place to speak up, though you are painfully watching them unfold, I think we follow the Father’s model.

Keep your eyes on the road.

Don’t you dare give up hoping that was is lost will be found, broken will be redeemed, empty will be filled, damaged will be restored.

But the Father doesn’t just run to Him, He welcomes him back into His house as a son.

And this is so important.

Often when we are in seasons of wandering, seasons of brokenness, we forget who we are. And the people who make the biggest difference are not the ones who tell us we shouldn’t and are so eager to say “I told you so.”  Instead, the people who make the greatest difference are the ones who look at us in the midst of our broken, lost, and weary souls, and tell us who we are- redeemed, whole, holy, loved, and accepted in Christ.  

“When you see me filled with doubt or self hatred, when you observe me during my worst seasons of discouragement and failure, I want you to both weep with me ad I weep and be filled with hope, not the empty hope that says trite things like “It’ll all work out” [..] but a hope that exists because it sees something in me that is absolutely terrific.  Believe that there is life in me.  I want to catch the gleam in your eye that tells me you know there is more to me than my problems and you are confidently hopeful that good will emerge.  I want you to ache when you see the good buried beneath so much bad, but I want you to be passionately convinced that by the grace of God the good is there, waiting to be revealed.” – CONNECTING, Larry Crabb

So may we keep our eyes fixed on the road, knowing that there is no brokenness, no sin, too far gone that the grace of our Father cannot restore and the creativity of our Author cannot redeem.  And may we remind the broken that in them is wholeness.

 

What do you think?

How have you been affectively loved and cared for in seasons of making poor choices?

 

 

 

 

“Lord, I’m not much but I’m giving You everything.”

I feel like I have been in this super sweet place recently.  This sweet place of giving and loving out of authenticity.  Serving in a place of wanting to serve, rather than feeling I have no other choice but to say yes- I’ll be honest, I find myself there a lot.  And the funny thing is, the common thread of feeling this sweetness has been one thing: beginning with the realization that I have nothing.  Nothing to offer.  Nothing to say.  Nothing to give.  Nothing to teach.  Nothing.

This may sound like I’m selling myself short or pretending to be selfless, but I mean it.  I mean driving to Starbucks on the way to a ski trip with high school students thinking, wow Jesus, I am exhausted. Ordering an extra shot of espresso in my drink, praying for Him to breathe and work through my emptiness.  And driving back from a ski trip astounded at how He walked with me, empowering me to love and serve, blessing me in the process.

ski trip

I will note here that I also prayed for Him to help me ski or at least seem like I had any ability in the world.  Sometimes God says no.

But I found myself in a similar situation one week later.  My small group of college girls had planned a “hometown trip” to go to my parents’ house together.  We planned months ago due to busy schedules, and looked forward to this time with incredible anticipation.  I was so excited to have this time with my girls, but also to be home, to be taken care of, to spend time with my parents, to have someone do my laundry for me, and to stay in a house, rather than a dorm.  But there was snow.  And then there was ice.  And then the anticipated plans we made were cancelled memories.

Nothing.

No plans.  Nowhere to go.  No one stepping in line to do my laundry- I can’t blame them.

I was scrambling to find a home we could go to in town for a “stay-cation” as we had no snow, just really sad hearts.  Thankfully, a gracious family allowed us to use their sweet home.  I texted the girls and began gathering everything I could for the weekend we never planned.  I was filling a reusable Publix bag with what few groceries I had in the container I keep of food beneath my dorm bed.  As I was thinking how pitiful this was and how sad I was we couldn’t be home, I heard a phrase in my head that brought me back to a special moment.

Lord, I’m not much, but I’m giving you everything.

These divine, simple, and beautiful words, came from the mouth of a young girl in the hills of Kentucky who I prayed with to receive Christ.  She was poor and dirty.  Her dad was in jail and she felt completely looked over and worthless.  We talked about how much her Heavenly Father loves her and the incredible ways He wants to lavish His love on her and she told me she wanted that.  Then as we prayed (sitting in the above pictured parking lot), she added in these beautiful, humble, yet ever so raw words.

So I packed my bag of “not much” and gave this weekend everything I had.

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And His love was extravagant.  We had such a sweet weekend together full of delicious meals, where we sat at the table for hours afterward enjoying one another.  We had peaceful mornings of coffee and friends playing acoustic guitar softly in the background.  We laughed.  We joked.  It was such a sweet time together.

And again, I had nothing.

But I think this is the very story of the gospel and I think this is how He works.  It’s not about what we have or what we can bring Him.

 John 15:5 “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.”

It’s about giving Him our emptiness, all of it, and knowing His extravagant love meets us there.  It meets us and lavishes His love upon us.  It looks past our scars and messiness and emptiness and somehow calls us His own. 

So I am learning to embrace having nothing to offer.  Because I think that’s the best place to start.  And it’s there I can truly give Him everything.