Leading and Loving Community

I’m so blessed to have community both locally with friends and the people I ministry with in Springfield AS WELL AS finding community with some awesome new friends.

Friends from all across America. (and 2 that split their time in Kenya)

Friends that are all single (and 1 newlywed).

Friends that are all involved in ministry. Some with students. Some with women. Some with college. Some volunteer staff. Some full-time staff.

It’s a beautiful friendship that we have developed. We are able to have honest conversation. Share laughter that almost makes you pee your pants. Share hurts that cut to the core. Share wisdom that someone wiser than us has passed along at some point. Share prayers that continue past our scheduled meeting times. Share passions, dreams and situations that can’t be shared locally.

I love my virtual community group. And here is my shameless plug 🙂

For all my ladies in ministry 0r those married to men in ministry…get plugged in over at Leading and Loving It. New groups start at the beginning of the year. Consider which group you could join – or if there isn’t one that fits what you need, start one.

It’s the easiest group I have ever led/been a part of and it’s fabulous! I look forward to my hour. The girls in our virtual community group have truly become tight-knit and true friends…..girls meeting up for coffee when they are within hours of each other, people taking vacation to go meet VCG members, the dream to go on a VCG mission trip together to love on babies. Cool things are happening in our online community.

Thankful!

Leading and Loving Community

Shameless Plug…Wreck Your Life

I think we all desire to do “good”

We all want to “make a difference”

We want to “do what we know we need to do”

Then every once in awhile we actually do something about it.

….And it wrecks our lives.

Taking a summer to serve with Center for Student Missions was the best 3 months of my life. It was also one of the hardest, most challenging experiences ever! But I would not trade it for anything. Those 3 months shaped me.

csm staff trampoline

It introduced me to these incredible people. They challenged me in big ways. They showed me what a life sold out looks like. We learned how to work as a team, in all our weaknesses and strengths. We learned what it meant to become a family. We learned how to impact lives together. We learned how to find truth. We learned how to hold each other accountable. We learned. And we were never alone.

staff spaghetti factory

We got to go on a journey together as a community. It was an incredible experience to see the church as it should be. We explored Scripture. We had fun together. We supported each other.

It was a hard road. There were groups that came in and had their perspective changed. There were people that we met that became names, faces, stories and impacts on our lives.

staff pottery

At the end of the summer we all went our separate ways with the attempt to continue on the track we had this summer. It’s a ride. The kind of ride that catches you off guard at the craziest times.

It is the kind of ride that makes you cry during class months later. It’s the kind of ride that makes you notice people that you looked past before. It’s the kind of ride that makes you fall more in love with Jesus. It’s the kind of ride you never want to get off of.

And it’s the kind of ride you should go on.

Consider serving with CSM this year. Apply now to be a summer host or sign up to take a group! www.csm.org

Shameless Plug…Wreck Your Life

Picture Post

Just a little review of the summer…part one

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All six of us at the beginning of the summer

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Us girls (well minus heather and plus bree) getting our line dance face on

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on our way to staff retreat = loveless cafe and canoeing

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Prepping the hair for 80’s night Kristin’s b-day bash

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real life.

And just a few randoms I have forgotten to share…..

*Homeless people compliment you and increase the ole self esteem

*Kids at the boys and girls club tear that right down

*We got in a hit and run the other day (everyone was fine and so was Kristin’s car but still a first for me)

*I really like food that is unhealthy like fried chicken fingers and fat moe burgers and spicy fries

*I have officially worn out a pair of tennis shoes

*With fully scheduled days for 3 months straight I feel a little lost now with nothing to do

*I’m terrible with goodbyes

*I had dreds for a few days. They may come back some day for real.

Picture Post

Sometimes

Sometimes I find myself sitting among 30 six and seven year olds at a movie wondering how their teachers do it day in and day out.

Sometimes I find myself sitting in the shade with a homeless couple wondering how they continue to walk their 30 miles a day.

Sometimes I find myself listening to the same stories I heard the week before and wondering  if their minds ever clear.

Sometimes I am stopped by someone waiting in line to eat and silenced by their gratitude for our group being there.

Sometimes I get to watch as young adults and their leaders are stretched and molded.

Sometimes I get to see God light a fire within a generation that will have the opportunity and power to love and create change.

Sometimes I get to see love transform situations.

Sometimes I get to see love fall on deaf ears and hardened hearts.

Sometimes I find myself in continual praise for what God is doing.

Sometimes I find myself asking is He really big enough to love on all the brokens and heal the hurting and save the lost and feed the hungry and remember the silent.

And then I remember that He is good. That He is sovereign (a word that is taking on a whole new meaning to me this summer). I am reminded that He is creator and omniscient and in control.

Sometimes I just need to remember to rest in His glory and look for ways to glorify Him.

Sometimes I need Him to remember to just let Him be my all.

Sometimes I need to “8 Taste and see that the LORD is good;
blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.”

Sometimes

Contrast and Continuity

I love seeing how everything in God’s plan works together and turns out.

Proverbs 27:17 “Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.”

Today Austin and I’s group had a neat opportunity to see contrast and continuity all at the same time.

This morning they started serving at Adult Day Services talking and spending time with senior citizens. They were amazed at the stories and wisdom that these people shared with them and at how fun it was to just be with them.

Then in the afternoon they got to serve at a Boys and Girls Club and hang out with the 6-7 year old class.

It went from quiet and structured to loud and chaotic. There was such a contrast in the age grouping and the volume and the energy that it almost seemed like we were serving in two completely different ways.

But the continuity was there. Both places needed us to just be present and spend time with the people. In both cases we were not there to teach or bestow wisdom or do anything “special.” We were there to be taught. Whether is was the wisdom of the guests at Adult Day or the childlike innocence and abandon that the kids exhibit at Boys and Girls Club.

It’s easy to look at situations we are in as new each time. But today it was a good reminder to see that God gives us the tools to start converstations, connect, and love on people no matter where we are. We have to be willing to adapt and be flexible but He is our constant and doesn’t make us start over everytime. No matter where we are or who we are with, we have so much to learn.

Psalm 71:18 “And even when I am old and gray, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation.”

1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.”

Contrast and Continuity

Rooted

This past week my group had an opportunity to partner with a ministry called the Magdalene project. Magdalene is designed to help women who prostituted get back on their feet and heal. They discovered that due to criminal records many of these women were having trouble finding jobs. So they created Thistle Farms to provide job opportunities for the women who have completed the program.

Thistles have to be harvested to make the paper that their products are packaged in…enter my group from Shreveport Louisiana!

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Yup. They harvested all of those (plus some) in about an hours time. I don’t think I have ever sweated like I did that day. We had fun and laughed as the thistles poked us from all angles, but the sweat was pouring down my face like nothing else! And it’s only JUNE!

The best part about this particular excursion was the reason we were there. Now, all my people from back home know I love metaphors and word pictures. And a thistles creates ample opportunity for that!

The thistle is a weed. It’s not wanted by gardeners and not welcome among the pretty plants. It has pokey leaves and a sharp sting. It’s roots dig deep into the ground and are able to grow through concrete.

These women come from lives of being an outcast of society. They have pasts that are rooted in a number of things: a desire to be loved, a need for quick cash, addictions, abuse, neglect, self-mutilation, a void.

But there is beauty in both! The thistle has a bright purple center that can be pulped down into a new creation of paper with some hard work and dedication.

These women are beautiful! They are created by a loving, forgiving God who can renew them into a new creation with a little work and dedication from the women.

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No matter where we are, God is faithful.

He is ready to pull us up from the roots of sin and make us a new creation in Him.

I love my job because I get to see this and be a part of this everyday! But no matter where we are or what we are doing, God is moving. If we are willing to be uprooted and re potted by the Master Gardener beautiful things can happen!

2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

Get excited about that! Our God LOVES us and FORGIVES us and USES us. We are blessed.

Rooted

3 Minutes

Every day I am faced with opportunities to learn. Nashville is a such a big city yet I see the same people two, three times a week depending on the schedule. This week I was reminded of an important lesson about loving on people…sometimes it only takes 3 minutes to make a difference.

I wish I had a picture of Frank to share with you. I met Frank last week at a ministry site called Isaiah 58. Isaiah 58 is an awesome ministry that loads up a feeding bus and drives to Dickerson Pike (which is infamous for its drugs, prostitution, and violence) and serves a hot meal to the homeless and transient community. It’s one of my favorite spots because our groups really get to focus on serving and building relationships with the guests who come over.

Last week I talked with Frank for about 3 minutes. We had the typically introduction conversation and then I had to go check on someone else. He is a quiet but very kind guy who loves books.

This Thursday I got to take my group to Isaiah 58 and Frank was there again. I went and said Hi to him and he responded “Jody? From Missouri? How are you”

He remembered me. And it made me stop and think of how little it takes to make an impact, positive or negative, in a person’s life.

In three minutes of conversation Frank and I began to build that relationship. He recognized me and I recognized him.

Christ called us to community and that community starts when we are willing to love on people and build relationship with everyone, even the least of these. These are the people who we are to invite to our banquets and dinners and get to know.

I’m thankful that Frank reminded me of that.

I’m thankful that God is moving in this city and opening doors for relationships to be built.

I’m thankful that in those 3 minutes last week Jesus was present.

And I am thankful that even though Frank does not believe in God, that God believes in Frank!

3 Minutes