Wedding Prep: A Little Slice of Mercy Ministry

photoAs we sat at the table gluing toothpicks on to folded crepe paper, I looked at the people around me and realized they weren’t too happy about helping me.  Well, maybe just a little bit. This task, this repeated, seemingly unending task was not bringing them joy. They couldn’t see the end or the glory it would become…the light at the end of the tunnel.photo (2)

     The colorful mountains of crepe paper strips filled the living room and dining room. Lavender, violet, gray, and yellow. I was quite pleased with the extra hands and the heaps of strips waiting for attention. Gluing the toothpicks to the strips was the third step in the process and there were two more steps needed in order to finish it. As weddings go, it was one of many projects. Many, many projects. I stopped counting the number of times someone said, or signed, “We will never finish this.”

     Weddings require a lot of little projects to make the day special. One of something for every guest: Chocolate and vanilla cupcakes topped with purple frosting nestled away in white boxes, little bags to hold the little sprinkles for throwing at the bride and groom, colorful bags with stickers to hold buttery popcorn, fluffy white tulle to line the aisle, pretty gray ribbons to tie around the numerous mason jars that go on all the tables covered in white tablecloths, matching napkins, little bits of punched paper scattered over the tables, and on and on.

photo (1)     Despite the plethora of lists and seemingly unending tasks, I love preparing for weddings. I know that every time I cut a piece of crepe paper, fold it, glue a toothpick to it, and twist it in to a delightful rose, I’m one step closer to finishing the project. That mountain of lavender colored crepe paper is a challenge I gladly accept because I know the result is a beautiful ball of roses that will look amazing nestled amongst the tulle lining the aisle.photo (3)

     This is how I approach the ministry God has called me to. Each woman who comes in to my home – each little child – is a beautiful project, a heap of giant potential, a life worthy of my time and sacrifice, one day added to many more days until she’s ready to shake off the past and take on a new life with Christ.

     Don’t get me wrong, it’s difficult work, even tedious at times and often thankless. There seems to be an unending list of things that need attention – all important and necessary, all soul-related issues that are revealed over time, over dinner, over birthing classes, over laundry, over doctor visits, over tears, over laughter.

     Eventually, you get to the bottom of the pile and you look back and marvel at God’s amazing grace, at how perfectly things fit together, and that He knew your love was just what she needed at this time in her life.  Mostly, how His promises are real and if we do what Christ asked us to do, we will have the good fortune to walk along side some pretty amazing women and watch as the Holy Spirit molds and shapes them into something more beautiful than they ever thought possible.

photo (4)     It’s a blessing too few people will ever receive. Not because God’s promises aren’t true, but because you first have to see her value, recognize the image of God in her, and know – deep down inside where faith and hope take root – that showing kindness and mercy and giving everything to God: your heart, soul, strength, love, obedience, and service, is one of the most difficult and rewarding challenges you’ll ever face. Giving everything to God may mean letting go of dreams, walking away from relationships, closing the door on goals, and living in a way that sets you apart from the crowd.

     This I know for sure…God is faithful. If you don’t have a willing heart, ask and He’ll give you one. The mountain won’t appear as big, the burden will be lighter, the calling will be a perfect fit. And, you will finish.

 

Giving To The Poor

But the truth is, the most forcible objections against the due exercise of charity, and abounding in the fruits of it, are those which arise from that influence which unbelief and corrupt affections have upon the minds of men. And amongst those the chiefest, and that which men judge to have the evidence of demonstration in it, is this: that which they part with for the relief of others, doth in proportion decrease their own enjoyments.

– John Owen

What She Said…

Today I found my way through the clutter of the interwebs and found a happy place:
Sarah Bessey…the intersection of a spirit filled life

She said this:  In which the doorbell is ringing

It feels sometimes like it would be simpler to live in a Christian ghetto, to shut the door, build a fence, keep the big, bad, scary world at bay, especially when it comes to my tinies. And sometimes we can buy into the idea that ministry is for the professionals, for somewhere other than here, right where we are in our walking-around life, like the Gospel doesn’t have hands and feet and voices, right here, right now, in our own neighbourhoods, in big ways and small ways.

Then she said this:  In which you are loved and you are free

Stand up, shake the dust from your feet if you need to, and look outside, it’s beautiful, isn’t it? There are a lot of us here, waiting for you, in the open air. We’ve been here all along, don’t you know? We’ve been ministering, preaching, praying, teaching, loving, mothering, caring, singing, walking each other home. It’s glorious and messy, far away from the rules and the limitations, the barriers and restrictive religion. But look, here, we, the people of God, we are here with you, we are a family, we’re your family, we’ve been waiting for you. We have a big, gorgeous tent and every one is welcome.

And lastly, my favorite thing she said:  In which I am done fighting for a seat at the table

I’m done fighting for a seat at that table.

The one filled with white men, all reading the same books, spouting the same talking points, quoting each other back and forth. It’s the table where the men – a small, select, vocal group in no way representative of men in the Church overall – sit around and discuss who is in and who is out, who is right (usually them) and who is wrong (every one else) and, a favourite topic, whether women should be allowed to write or teach or preach or even read Scripture aloud, what women should be saying and doing, how marriages should look, how children should be raised, how everyone else should live their lives in holiness.

Me? I am simply getting on with the business of the Kingdom.

Enjoy your table, gentlemen.

 

 

 

Those Who Carry the Keys

“We cannot suffer with the poor when we are unwilling to confront those persons and systems that cause poverty. We cannot set the captives free when we do not want to confront those who carry the keys. We cannot profess our solidarity with those who are oppressed when we are unwilling to confront the oppressor. Compassion without confrontation fades quickly to fruitless sentimental commiseration.”

—Henri J. M. Nouwen

 

Voldemort Beware!

“Voldemort himself created his worst enemy, just as tyrants everywhere do! Have you any idea how much tyrants fear the people they oppress? All of them realize that, one day, amongst their many victims, there is sure to be one who rises against them and strikes back!”
— J.K. RowlingHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

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