Growing and Giving

I try to live my life like my father lives his. He always takes care of everyone else first. He won’t even start eating until he’s sure everyone else in the family has started eating. Another thing: My dad never judges me by whether I win or lose. ~Ben Roethlisberger

If you give a mouse a cookie, you better have crayons and cleaning supplies handy, as well as a glass of milk.

It’s funny how one thing leads to another.

An old friend was bemoaning the state of her church and that “young people just don’t seem to care” about being involved in church life.

Many times what seems important to one person is brushed aside by others.

A Christmas pageant is planned and only half the children are involved. A community yard sale for charity is scheduled and not enough people participate to make it a success. An elderly couple’s home needs to be weatherized before winter and only the two oldest men in the congregation show up to help.

Our lives are so busy that it’s easy to pass by these opportunities. We have our own schedules, priorities, and problems.

What can be done?

The early church seemed to have an answer: eating and praising.

Sounds too simple, doesn’t it?

Yet, when we take time to eat with people, we also take time to talk. Talking leads to concern and compassion. That leads to reworking our schedules and serving others.

And THAT leads to encountering Christ.

So grab a plate of cookies and a glass of milk. It’s time to share Jesus with the world.

How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” Romans 10:14-15 ESV

What You See Isn’t What You See (Or The Truth is Ugly)

April. Today is the last day of my least favorite month. Tomorrow brings the promise of flowers, spring’s new growth, and rest. Five years ago, on April 11, my older son fell from his bike and went into a grand mal seizure. He was unconscious for eternity, or ten minutes, depending whom you ask. April 11 has scarred me forever. I drive behind ambulances and remember the ride to the hospital. I watch kids riding bikes without helmets and cringe. I see the date on the calendar, and I relive the whole thing.

But April 2015 brought its own special miseries. April 10 I sat at my desk working on my newest book when the phone rang. “Mom, I think we need to call the police.”

It was my younger son telling me he had been mugged, beaten and robbed, in a local park while skateboarding. He was walking along with the three young men when they turned and attacked him. Two days later I left him at home while I went out of state to speak at a conference. My nerves were shot.

One week later that same son bought a car. I helped him navigate the process by checking the car out with a different mechanic, negotiating prices, and then filling out and signing all of the paperwork.

One week later, again the younger son, showed up on the porch holding his arm, unable to move it. He had wrecked while skateboarding and then driven his injured self home. We went straight to Urgent Care.

The month was filled with tragedies, court paperwork, legal documents, a house refinance, a Christian conference and a church retreat. Three rooms went through repairs and painting. Papers had to be graded, new business contacts made and information digested, not to mention the ordinary day-to-day laundry, meals, and cleaning. And of course, an ambulance to follow.

So at the end of April I look like this:  rough month

And that is why I go to church.

Yes, I go to church because there I can be real. My church knows that even if I look like this on the outside:  TraciStead4


The inside is weary, hurting, and confused.

At church I am met by brothers and sisters who have also struggled this month with children breaking feet, having shoulder surgery, getting braces, breaking laws, breaking relationships and marriages, losing their grandchildren, losing a home. Together we remind ourselves that April’s showers bring May’s flowers and even if our April lasts the rest of our lives, May is just around the corner.

Do you have a church family to help you through the Aprils of life?

“Therefore, we do not lose heart, though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18