Monday, December 19, 2016

Ripple Effects

Oh, the life lessons the Lord teaches me through our Hooties is never fun...but definitely needed.  My most recent lesson is how sin doesn't just effect the person doing it.

Almost two weeks ago, two of our Hooties decided not to be very kind to another Hootie.  One of them was the mastermind behind the action while the other did the action.  Then they sat there watching their sibling be in fear and did NOTHING about it.  I heard the one crying from inside and go flying out the back door to see one being mean to their sibling while the other just sat on a swing doing nothing...the reasoning...they thought the one crying was just whining.  I was FURIOUS to see two of our kids treating their sibling this way.

I sent them both to their room with the understanding that they lost TV for two weeks...at a minimum...and when their dad got home there may be other punishments.  Chris was in Richmond when I called to tell him what had happened, so he had two hours to think about their punishment.  They stayed in their bedroom for two hours...only able to read books.  When Chris got home, he talked to each one to find out all the details of what happened. The added punishments would be no TV, Wii or iPad time.  He explained how he would put 14 lines on a piece of paper (they each had their own) and each morning he would either erase a line or add a line depending on how they treated those in our family.  Once all the lines were gone, they could have TV, Wii and iPad privileges back. 

Let me tell you...the last  couple of weeks have been HARD!!!  I didn't realize how much I depended on the TV, Wii and iPad in the afternoons while I cooked dinner or did some chores.  Within the first couple of days, the Lord revealed to me that sin doesn't just effect the person who is doing it.  There is definitely a ripple effect that happens when those closest to you sin.   I must admit it was a tad easier at the beginning of the punishment to not have screen time, but by the end of last week I was begging Chris to let us "show some grace" to our kids and let them have their electronics back.  I have to selfishly admit it wasn't because I wanted to teach them a lesson on grace, it was because I wanted to have some check-out time.  I wanted them to be entertained while I got to do things I wanted to do.  I am thankful that Chris saw my heart and encouraged me not to give in to my own selfishness. 

This morning we got up and got ready for the day to have the power go out randomly.  The neighbors across the street from us and the neighbors two doors down all had power, but not us.  When the power went out, I began to dread our morning.  I had planned to do some Christmas baking, but that obviously wasn't going to happen.  I had a little bit of Christmas shopping left to do and bring back a couple of items, so I decided we would have a change in plans and run errands this morning. 

After getting everyone bundled up in their winter jackets, we headed to Walmart to return my items and pick up a few things.  While we were waiting in the return line, I noticed that there was a hot pink duct tape line to show where people needed to stand while waiting for their turn.  A couple of the Hootie Hoos kept crossing over the line and disturbing the people who were being waited on.  In that moment, the Lord began to speak to me. 

I called the Hooties over to where the line was.  I pointed out the line on the floor.  I asked them if we were to think about God in relation to the line what might the line represent.  One of the older ones shouted out "sin!"  I told them that were absolutely correct.  I asked that if the line represented sin does God want  us to get as close to the line as possible without touching it or does He want us to stay a safe distance back.  One of them said He would want us to stay back.  I then asked if God wants us to stay away from sin because He is mean and controlling and wants us to have be miserable all of our life.  Before I could give another option one of the Hooties shouted out that He wants us to stay away from sin because He loves us and wants to keep us safe.  And from behind the counter one of the cashiers shouts, "Amen!  Preach on!"   Then on perfect cue one of the little ones jumps over the line and one of the older ones pulls them back behind the line.  I kept the conversation going.  I told them that what just happened was a perfect illustration.  When we see someone we love commit a sin, we should be there to pull them back.  I asked them what they could do to "pull" someone back away from sin.  Some of their responses were "share the gospel"..."pray for them"..."read the Bible''..."love them like Jesus."  My heart was FULL as I listened to their answers...as I listened to their hearts.  In that moment, I thanked God for random power outage and change of plans.  Part of me feels like we needed that illustration today as the Lord continues to fine tune me and reminds me that sin doesn't just effect the person doing it, but there is a ripple effect...it can very easily effect those closest to you.  And just like sin doesn't just effect the person committing the sin, the person committing the sin shouldn't have to handle their sin problem on their own. We as disciples of Jesus should be ready to walk with them in love and truth. 

As CHRISTmas approaches, I can't help but to be thankful that Jesus came to defeat our sins. He was willing to come as a baby so we don't have to handle sin on our own.  My prayer is that as I continue to walk this journey that more and more each day I will live and love like Jesus does.   



"I write this, dear children, to guide you out of sin.  But if anyone does sin, we have a Priest-Friend in the presence of the Father: Jesus Christ, righteous Jesus.  When He served as a sacrifice for our sins, he solved the sin problem for good--not only yours, but the whole world's"
(1 John 1:1-2, the Message)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

This One Guy



17 years?!?!  Yes, it has been 17 years since we started our journey.

I was a young 21 year old college student who had REALLY just started living her life for Jesus.  I was broken...I had just ended a relationship that wasn't at all centered around Jesus.  I had sworn off boys...I was finally getting serious about my relationship with Jesus and realized that He was all I really needed.  I started going to the United Methodist Student Center (UMSC) with an old high school friend.  I was making new friends and growing in my faith.  There was this one guy who had captured my eye...one who led worship each week...one who was the president of the ministry...one who loved Jesus and wasn't afraid to show it.  But I pressed on toward Jesus...vowing not to be distracted by this one guy.

After a few weeks of hanging out with this new group of friends (and this one guy), I got a phone call.  It was him!  He was calling to see if I wanted to go out...just the two of us.  The re was this excitement in me, but at the same time a nervousness...I had NEVER dated a Christian guy.  I agreed to go out with him for dinner.  I told him that I would meet him at his apartment (I lived out in the county, so it was easier for me to head his way then for him to backtrack to my house).  We got off the phone, and I started to get ready.  I was trying to find something to wear...I was nervous...there were butterflies in my stomach.  This was different...I hadn't felt this way before.  I finally pulled myself together and headed to this one guy's apartment to pick him up.  Then we headed to Pizza Hut.

We talked and talked throughout dinner...getting to know each other better...having those conversations that are kind of hard to do in a group setting.  We talked about so many different things, but the one part of our conversation that I remember to this day is when you asked me where I saw myself 5-10 years down the road.  My answer was that I could see myself being married supporting my future husband in whatever ministry the Lord called him to whether it was a doctor, trash collector or a pastor.  And if the Lord happened to bless us with children, I could picture myself being at home with them teaching them about Jesus.  This answer surprised me because prior to getting serious about my faith, I was going to school to be a neonatalogist and had plans to live a single life enjoying the money that I would make.

Sidenote:  And just to be clear, I wasn't saying this to just get the guy...the Lord had been working in me and changed my heart.  Because prior to meeting this one guy for the first time in my life, I decided to ask God what He wanted me to do with my life...what He wanted me to study in school.  I had changed my major from Premed to Early Childhood Education.  I was shocked by what He was calling me to do...but out of obedience I was going to trust Him.

We continued talking and hanging out at Pizza Hut.   I think we may have even gone back to your apartment and watched a movie.  We stayed up way later than we should have, but you were going to be leaving for your grandparents' house in Tennessee for a few days.  I was sad to see the date end, but at the same time it was good that you were leaving for a few days.  It gave us time to pray and see where the Lord was taking this relationship.

As I sit on our couch 17 years later in our home, I never would have imagined my life to be what it is.  In the last 17 years we have gone from a first date to an engagement to graduating college to getting married.  We moved into our first home as newlyweds to our second home where the Lord brought much healing to me and made our marriage stronger.  We moved into a townhouse in NC so I could teach while you went to seminary. You graduated from seminary while we waited the arrival of our first child.  We moved in with family while we waited for your first call at a church and welcomed our first son into the world.  Then we received our first call at a church outside of DC, so  moved into an apartment outside of DC and began this new journey of you having a full-time position at a church while I stayed home with our kiddo.  Then we found out we were expecting our second child and the Lord provided a bigger place to live...a townhouse that was closer to the church.  While in this home, we welcomed our second, third and fourth child. We did life together.  We loved people together.  We were together.  Then our life took a twist.  My faith was tested in a way that it had never been tested.  Once again, I found myself broken...the only difference was that I had you there walking with me...holding me...praying for me...loving me unconditionally. We packed up our things and moved in with family while the Lord brought healing to my life.  He gave us a vision.  He gave us a renewed passion for discipleship. He gave us the faith to step out and do what He was calling us to do.  A ministry was born...a faith was strengthened.  We moved back to Georgia to place we said we would never move back to when we left.  We lived with family again.  We trusted for God to provide for our every need. He provided...He allowed us to have our own home again after 14 months of living with family. He grew the ministry He called us to start.  Then just like God, He put an unbelievable opportunity before us.  He called us to move again...back to Virginia.  He was calling us back to serve in a church while growing His ministry.  He provided a home on our first day of house hunting.  A place to do ministry and to raise the precious gifts we have been given.

So, 17 years later I stand in awe of where we are and who we have become...as individuals and as a couple.  I am thankful that He brought us together and has allowed us to do life together.  I am thankful that God knew I needed this one guy in my life...to show me what it means to live and love like Jesus...to encourage me to be the follower of Jesus that He desires me to be.

ILUVM, Christopher Potter Greenwood, and I look forward to many more years of celebrating the day He started our journey together!