myMISSION Blog

The Failed Lemonade Stand

I was the kind of kid who would do anything to make money. Whether it was washing the car or watching my little brother, I jumped at the chance to make an extra dollar.

In the summer after fifth grade, I decided that I wanted to set up a lemonade stand at our neighborhood pool. My parents said that was fine, but I would have to pay for the supplies.

After recruiting my brother as a co-investor, Mom took me to the grocery store where I learned that investing in a lemonade stand wasn’t cheap. After getting cups, lemonade mix, ice, and a cooler, I realized that I needed to sell a lot of lemonade to make a profit.

As the day went on, I grew more and more disappointed with my results. Even though I sold a few cups of lemonade, I was still in the hole. Worse yet, my business partner/brother had abandoned me to play in the pool. “Does he have to cover more of our debt if I ended up doing all the work?” I asked my mom.

Looking back, I can see that working that lemonade stand taught me a lot about earning money. While I felt like a failure in the moment, I now realize that the situation was a great lesson.

The Cross of Crossing Town

It’s amazing how quickly we can become “comfortable.” I vowed after my years in the Middle East I wouldn’t give in to the American lifestyle, feeling entitled to a certain standard of living and implementing levels of fear and distrust into my life about the world around me.

Over the past year and a half, my small home I rent has started to feel really cozy. After my husband and I got married, we decorated and began to shape it more into ours. In this past year we had no idea the changes God was about to place in our lives. We discovered God was blessing us with a child and instantly we have started to take the steps to shift and adjust to the new addition coming to our family this summer.

One of the areas of our life we have been praying about from the beginning of our relationship is how to serve the community around us. We have been asking God for His vision for us and who He wants us to be as a couple in service to Him.

God has answered that prayer recently in big ways. He has opened up a part of the city for us to move to, with an opportunity to serve the community and show His love to people who inhabit the homes around us.

Different Is Good!

What does it mean to be a leader? I think it can mean many different things. I’ve had the privilege of starting 2 different myMISSION groups and have loved every minute of it! I lived in Seattle, Washington for a few years—that was where I started my first group. I now live in Birmingham, Alabama, and I just helped to start another group. They are very different from each other but I’m loving it . . . I said that already, right?

Different is good. I’m learning that God is doing something different in each of our lives and that our groups can reflect that amazing collage. So many different colors and shapes, different callings and places in life, different opportunities, different ways of growing—different is good!

Missional Motherhood

Apartment living when you’re a family of four can be a challenge, especially when you live on the second floor and you have two toddlers. Every day is a regular chorus of “Shhh! People are sleeping!” and “Don’t put that in your mouth!” as we walk to and from the car. Apartment living also means you regularly encounter people whose lives and families are different from your own. We share a building with three other tenants, and we regularly run into them in the stairwell or parking lot. It gives us a unique opportunity to be salt and light in a world in desperate need for the light of Christ, and when we moved into the building, we prayed that God would use us to minister to our neighbors.

The woman who lives below us is a single mother of two, and her youngest is an infant. As you can imagine, her hands are literally full. Every time I see her, she’s juggling the car seat while carrying in groceries and keeping an eye on her little boy. God has placed this woman on my heart since we moved in, and I’ve prayed that He would provide opportunities for me to build a relationship with her so I could share Christ’s love with her.

Intentionally Following Christ

I’m a list-er. I have at least one list for every area of my life: work, home, personal development, and so on. These lists are constantly growing and changing as things are added and (hopefully) crossed off. If I don’t write something down, it may not get done.

Now as for my spiritual life: to list or not to list?

On one hand, reading my Bible, praying, and writing in my journal are a part of my (un-listed) nightly routine along with brushing my teeth.

On the other hand, it is challenging to fit times of silence, solitude, prayer, reflection, or other spiritual disciplines into my busy life, especially at work.

A busy workplace can also challenge the traits that are supposed to mark us as Christ followers, even when you love your job. Have you ever lost your patience in the office? Is it easy to be kind and gracious when a customer is being anything but?

Jesus said His followers would have to take up their crosses daily. Whether your spiritual life is part of your routine, an item on your list, or something in between: taking up your cross daily requires action. You can’t accidentally pick up a cross. You can’t accidentally follow Christ.

Not Just Another School Subject

One of my favorite classes in college was about different cultures and religions. We studied many ancient texts from authors like Aristotle, Buddha, St. Augustine, and Job.           

During this class, I befriended a student named Julie*. I could tell that Julie struggled with the material, and I offered to help her study. I didn’t know if Julie was a Christian, and I prayed that one of these study sessions would provide an opportunity to share the gospel.           

One day we were studying in the food court and discussing Christianity. This is the perfect time, I thought, and I felt the Holy Spirit telling me to speak up.           

“You know, sometimes we talk about Jesus and Christianity like it’s just another school subject,” I said to Julie. My heart was pounding, and I tried to have a strong voice. “Actually, I believe that the Bible is true, and I believe in Jesus.”           

Julie looked at me, clearly intrigued. “Jesus isn’t just a character,” I continued, “He is real. I believe He died on the cross for my sins, and that is what gives me joy in life.”           

Taking Up Your Cross

If you are involved in a missions group, you’ve probably heard of Jesus’ command in Matthew 16:24, where he said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me” (NIV). The cross was an instrument of execution that gave criminals a long and excruciating death. When Jesus spoke these words, He was asking His disciples to give their lives for the gospel.

Thankfully we live in a country where we are free to proclaim God’s truth. However, the fact that we don’t face physical persecution does not excuse us from actively obeying Christ’s command.

In fact, Christians in America definitely relate to one element of Jesus’ experience in taking up His cross—ridicule. Matthew 27:27–30 describes when an entire company of Roman soldiers relentlessly mocked Jesus. They dressed Him up as a king, gave Him a twisted crown of thorns, spat on Him, and repeatedly beat Him on the head.

Learning to Cook

Cooking was something I grew into, if that’s how we should term it.

I thought I really liked to cook when was growing up, but when I ventured out into the world and met women who could take a pinch of flour and turn it into a masterpiece, I realized maybe I wasn’t that gifted. Ask me to cook a savory dish, I am there. But, oh you have a local bake sale coming up? And I am struggling to figure out what would be appropriate.

In my cold, yet cozy home in the Middle East, my favorite holiday was on the horizon: Christmas. I had moved into this apartment and I knew I had neighbors but honestly I never saw them. My local transportation was taxi cabs, so I was constantly walking the floors to exit the front door, while my neighbors used the elevator to go to the garage and leave in their vehicles. Oh the elevator, a way to never see people.

Working on Vacation

Last year I spent my spring break on the beaches of Naples, Florida, enjoying the sunny, 75 degree weather with my friends. While this vacation gave me a break from college, God showed me that I am never “on break” from the work of His Kingdom.

One morning I was jogging down the beach by myself, listening to my favorite music playlist. The beach was mostly empty, but I noticed two young women who were doing yoga. I had never taken a yoga class, and I had heard mixed opinions about whether or not it had a religious aspect.

As I jogged past the women, I felt the Holy Spirit tugging at my heart. Yoga could be a great conversation started to bring up Jesus, I suddenly thought. But why would I talk to random people on the beach? What if they think I’m stuck-up? What if we never even get to the subject of Christianity?

I asked God to shut down these excuses as I turned around and walked back towards the women. They were rolling up their yoga mats when I approached them.

“Hi,” I said, “Are you doing yoga?”

How dumb! I immediately thought to myself. Of course they’re doing yoga. They’ll think I’m crazy!

Obedience and Mistakes

During our apprentice term with our missions organization, one of the things required was to share a Creation to Christ story in the heart language of our people . . . from memory. Sigh. I was seven months pregnant with our second child when this requirement needed to be fulfilled and while pregnancy brain may have been my excuse, I'm not sure how much easier it would have been otherwise.

To say that I struggled with this assignment would be putting it mildly. I had spent two years studying the language and still had difficulties with it daily. I knew who the Lord wanted me to share this set of stories with, but I was anxious. Roxanne was a friend who was a nonbeliever and I was convinced that if I messed this up, she was never going to want to accept Christ. Selfish? Prideful? Yes, to say the least but it was (however sadly) my mindset.

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