myMISSION

“And” Discipleship

“Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ‘Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me’” (Mark 8:34 NIV).

For the last two years, WMU has focused on Mark 8:34 and the theme All For You: Surrender, Sacrifice, Service. This theme has been a call to all believers to obey Jesus’ radical call to obedience and discipleship.

In Mark 8:34, there are three distinct actions which are reflected in the WMU emphasis. This theme has challenged me to learn that it is not enough to take only one or two of these actions.

In this stage of life, it’s easy to want to do more in the community. Too often I say “yes” to a service opportunity before I truly surrender my will to the Lord.

Sometimes I deny myself halfway, but refuse to take up my cross.

Other times I am tempted to go to the other extreme, surrendering my will, sacrificing my plans, but failing to offer my hands in service.

Love, Laughter, and Lemonade

Invite your friends and their friends to join you for an evening full of laughter and fun. Summer is a perfect time to enjoy our friendships with other women and to build new relationships.

Who? This event is for all women! Focus on inviting nonbelievers and/or unchurched to this casual, nonthreatening get-together.

What? An evening brimming with humorous skits, stand-up comedy, riotous punch lines, and smiles all around.

When? Promote the event through social media as well as other means.

Why? Laughter is beneficial to our health. It can improve our attitudes and relieve stress. Summer offers opportunities for casual interaction and an event filled with humor may attract your unchurched friends.

Refocus Every Day

Has God ever had to refocus your life?

When I first got married I went through a period of massive insecurity. I was more concerned about my appearance than when we were dating. The more gentle and loving my husband was, the more terrible I felt. Every mistake I made bothered me twice as much, and every good thing I did only counted half as much. I had big dreams of being an “excellent wife.” I tried, but I couldn’t seem to get it right. I berated and belittled myself for not being good enough. I pleaded for God to show me what to do.

God didn’t turn me into the excellent wife I wanted to be.

Instead, He reminded me that my identity had not changed. I am still His daughter first of all. My situation had changed, but I hadn’t changed in the most fundamental way. I was so concerned with being a good wife that I took my eyes off my real goal. With the wrong goal in sight, nothing goes right.

Prone To Wander

I like to take pictures of my children. Since I have a smartphone, this task has become easier than ever before. Whenever my children are doing something funny or cute, I quickly whip out my phone, open the camera app and snap. In fact, at the time of this writing, I have 2,622 pictures on my camera roll in my phone. Clearly, I like pictures of my children. And since I like to capture these moments, nothing is more frustrating than when I aim my camera, ready to snap, only for the image to soften and lose focus. Suddenly, I’m tapping the screen, trying to refocus the image. Inevitably, by the time I get the camera refocused, the moment is gone. I’ve missed an opportunity.

Sometimes, this happens in our spiritual lives as well. We can lose focus on God’s purpose for our lives through distraction or waywardness, and we can miss out on divine opportunities if we don’t refocus. Let me give an example from my life to demonstrate.

In the Stillness

“Be still and know that I am God,” seems to be a common verse from Psalms that Christians say or hang on their walls within their homes.

We try to remind our hearts to be still and know He is God.

But do we do it?

I don’t know about you, but this does not come natural to my Type-A, constantly creating to-do lists personality. Now maybe you are a natural at it and easily find time of aloneness (and if so, please tell me your ways).

I imagine for the majority of us, stillness is not something we try to attain often in our lives. It seems like days, weeks, and months can go by within the routine and demands and then one day we wake up and realize we haven’t been still before God in quite some time. In fact, when was the last time we stopped to hear His voice?

In different seasons, I have had the privilege to have a slower schedule and bask in stillness before God. So my heart has tasted and knows the sweetness of listening to His still, small voice.

If the Shoe Fits

Have you ever considered using shoes to help your friends discover their niche in missions by finding “what fits” their interests, lifestyles, and abilities?

God intends for each of us to find a place of service. Plan a gathering that focuses on learning about local missions opportunities as well as overseas missions efforts.

Step-by-Step To-Do List for an “If the Shoe Fits” Affair

• Publicize your event; ask women to wear a pair of shoes that best match their personality.

• Decide on a take-home gift or door prize that’s shoe related.

• Set up displays featuring local ministries or outreach events and create a display of shoes to match each. (Example: Display white tennis shoes for a healthcare ministry, children’s shoes for ministry to schools, or boots for a disaster relief ministry.)

• If your church has a missions trip planned, create a display with a map and a list of items the team will need.

• Preselect three women to briefly share about their involvement in various local ministries or missions efforts.

 

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The Least Likely Listener

In high school, I was part of the Vacation Bible School team during my church’s missions trip to Latvia. In America, I could do VBS backward, forward, and practically in my sleep. However, I didn’t know how VBS would work in another country since the children spoke a different language and we had to use a translator.

I could tell so many stories from that trip, but I’ll tell you about Olaf. Olaf was the cutest kid there ever was. He was three years old—really too young for our VBS camp—and he was a mess. He could ransack an entire classroom in less than a minute, and he loved to wrestle with anyone and everyone.

We quickly realized that we needed someone on “Olaf duty” almost all the time. We kept Olaf with the other children as long as possible, but if he became too distracting, we had to take him to a separate room.

Although we loved this adorable child, he did present a barrier to the effectiveness of our VBS “system.” Was he even old enough to understand what was going on?

So Far, So Good?

How’s your summer so far?

So far, I’ve had a picnic, seen a movie, slept in at least once, and hung out with friends. Thankfully, I love my job so I actually enjoy going to work, but I love getting off work as well to step into nature for at least a bit before dinner.

And then there’s the trip planning. Guess where I went? I was able to share about myMISSION at the WMU Annual Meeting and Missions Celebration in St. Louis, Missouri. What an amazing opportunity! So many things were going on—evangelism and service opportunities in the city, reports from all the missions agencies, connections with friends both new and old, fun food to try, and different sessions to hear more about missions. We prayed and worshipped together, attended breakout sessions for different age groups, and found out about opportunities to jump into all year long. I loved getting to talk with people about where God is leading them and what missions opportunities they are seeking. We are celebrating all that God is doing in our world.

No Sweeter Name

Jesus.

A name with a variety of thoughts, connotations, and feelings attached to it. In our culture, we hear the name used in slang or as a swear word. The name evokes opinions and thoughts as to who He was in history and, for Christians, what He means to them presently.

Many of us have grown up our whole lives hearing this name, whether it was in a church setting or in passing conversations.

We pulled into the village, unloaded our belongings at our hut compound and began to walk around meeting our new neighbors.

The desert sand was soft underneath my worn out sandals as they pressed down with each step sinking. Step after step we approached a smaller cluster of huts to introduce ourselves.

“Hi, my name is Abigail. I am from America and we are going to live in your village this summer to tell you about Jesus.” I spouted off in her language joyfully as I met the apprehensive villager staring back at me.

“Who?”

Missions Focus

A few years ago I went to Sochi, Russia, with a diverse team of women to help a local church with a special celebration of International Women’s Day. Nearly 100 women gathered at the church for music, crafts, games, and food. We encouraged the women of the church with our testimonies of God’s goodness and shared God’s love with women who would not normally be in a church.

In some ways the experience reminded me of my days as an Acteen®. One summer we traveled to New Orleans for an Activators trip. One of our assignments at the Baptist Friendship House was helping with an event for women in need. The small number of women who attended participated in cake decorating classes and Bible study while we took care of their children.

Another Activators trip involved leading Vacation Bible School in Chicago. I remember Backyard Bible Clubs in college and other trips, experiences, and projects throughout my life.

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