Putting Together Puzzles

 

Ever do puzzles? 

For a very short period in my life, I liked puzzles. My grandmother would tell me, “Start in the corners.” I believe she also said to do the sides first so you can figure out which blue piece is the sky. Without the corners and sides, it was nearly impossible to finish a puzzle. I talk about putting together a puzzle because it is like creating a social media ministry.

Social Media employs my creativity, my love of story telling, reading, art, and it gives me boundless freedom to find new ways to frame the Gospel and help others follow Him and help Christians serve Him. Mike Duran, an author, often talks about the church’s uneasy relationship with art. Yet, it is the visual story that is gaining ground versus the literal story. Our world is becoming more secondary oral than literal and writers and Christian artists must find new vehicles in which to share the Gospel. To see all the pieces of how I serve, you must attend a presentation, even if you never intend to support me financially. How can you pray if you don’t understand what I do? 

Everything I do online is a different frame in which a Christian can use their abilities and time to serve and share the Gospel in more strategic and authentically engaging ways. Our pastor at Grace Baptist Church said on Sunday that our society is feeling more hopeless, more anxious. We can blame that on technology, North Korea, or (fill in the blank); or we can get involved and share hope with them through our every day activity online.

I ran across this quote from someone I don’t know anything about, but he makes a point:

“Social media websites are no longer performing an envisaged function of creating a positive communication link among friends, family and professionals. It is a veritable battleground, where insults fly from the human quiver, damaging lives, destroying self-esteem and a person’s sense of self-worth.” (Anthony Carmona)

In my newsletter, you see one or two pieces of what I do. You may have come to some correct or incorrect conclusions about what you think I do online.

Would you like to meet for coffee sometime to see the whole picture?

Just let me know. 

Drinking Deeply in The Fire

They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”    Jeremiah 17:8 NIV

A Netflix documentary described my week: Watching fire roar through the forest. How do you show God’s love when circumstances make you the bad guy? As I ended the day sipping a cup of peppermint tea, Jeremiah 17:8 ran through my mind. Only I couldn’t recall the exact Scripture: “…leaves always green…roots go out to the river,” like a compact disc stuck on one chorus kept repeating itself as I lived through the “fire.”

This gave me much comfort, especially on Monday when I started visiting churches and dropping off DVD’s and prayer cards. My stomach felt like a tight rope being twisted. Starting my life as a writer before becoming a worker with WorldVenture has prepared me for rejection and doubt. I’ve developed a thick skin, learned how to smile through disappointment, and still, after each packet was dropped off, Jeremiah 17:8 kept running unceasingly through my mind.

I rely on God’s divine protection and His guidance through all circumstances.

The stress of the week and the question of showing God’s love when circumstances make you the bad guy did not erase the joy in my heart or take the smile from my face. I fear people look at God in our culture’s sense–someone like our best friend who accepts our sins rather than hates our sins. God knows our sins tear apart our lives and relationships. It causes generations of damage. This is why God hates sin. He hated it so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross; the lamb sacrifice to end all sacrifice–To give humanity a chance.

So, while my leaves were always green because my roots were drinking from living water, I am learning different perspectives. I am learning how to distance myself so people don’t connect the circumstances with God’s character, to let others do the work God has them doing and not interfere, and I am also learning how to continue working towards 100% support, face prejudices, doubt, and conquer my own self-sufficiency. While on the way to 100% support, I am in training. I am learning how to make and face hard decisions, confronting my fear of confrontation, and learning how to walk through the “fire” unscathed.

Fearlessly Looking Forward #bgbg2

 

It feels like God is nudging me to a cliff. I am standing with my toes over the edge and fearlessly looking out into a grand view. When I look back, I discover I am wearing wings and God has given me the wind in which to fly. 2016 will soon become 2017, and my prayer verse in the CEB of Matthew 4:19 still hasn’t changed. I am still praying for “how.”

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

With our support down to 14% after exceeding my expectations and appearing to be at 16%, I know I have a lot of work to do, but what I have to fear?

God has opened doors from the time I made a decision to go with WorldVenture to now, and if He has opened doors why should He close them without reaching my goals of 100% support?

I will step through doors that He opens. I will fly on the wind that He provides. 2017 is going to be as busy as 2016 has been with church visits, conferences, possibly school, and individual ministry opportunities.

Will you pray for me?

 

 

FAQS: My Husband’s Role

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WorldVenture appointed me, not my husband, Tony, as a missionary. Yet, he plays a role in what I do every day.

  • I introduced him to Facebook. He now posts #LunchroomViews when he hikes, influencing both secular and believer in his online life.
  • Helped him merge to Twitter. He’s learning the ins and outs of that, too.
  • He’s political, but through WorldVenture’s missional influence, his belief in God is lived out in redeeming ways online politically and personally. It’s more about the relationship with others now.

He has become an avid prayer warrior and helps me manage ministry, job, and appointments with prospective financial partners by picking up most of the house work on his days off. This weighs on me. I love him for his generosity.

Before I hit the button that rocketed me into this new world, we talked alot about what this will mean for our marriage and for each other. What if I have to travel without him to a different country? What if it’s a dangerous country? What if I was jailed for my efforts online or persecuted legally and we lost everything? Would he still love me even if the world was against me? Inevitably, what I do will impact him, too.

We share an open marriage where we talk about things before they become an issue. Our relationship is honest; it’s been honest from the beginning. He tells me things I don’t want to hear, and I hold up my end of the bargain by listening. His role as friend, partner in my online ministries, and husband is important to me as a person and missionary.

I wouldn’t be a missionary today if God hadn’t brought him into my life. I would still be wandering.

Want to hear more? Let’s talk. 

A Project Done

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The process of taking on designing an online ministry for a church or nonprofit is this:

  1. Vision: Vision cast with the church. What is it they wish to accomplish? Write it down. Talk about it. Finalize it as this is the basis for training.
  2. Assess their technology know-how and set up a training schedule and time of release. 
  3. Implement training schedule and time. 
  4. Release. 

I am never the front wheel of the ministry, but always the back wheel. Ideally, the ministry should be taking initiative to take on more and more responsibility, always communicating with me if their ministry changes direction or vision. The training schedule is always based upon the initial vision. If that changes, so does the training.

Number four might be confusing. What does it mean to release a project?

It means, I am never part of the ministry. I am a third party coming in from the outside to help the church succeed in their vision. When training is done, I release the training wheels and close the project from any further involvement from me as a missionary. This is what I did recently.

A project has been released.

Won’t you pray for it today? 

Committing to One Thing

If you are having trouble connecting with your church family, are you trying to connect with them?

What I am finding is how often people say they can’t seem to connect with others, but are uncommitted to opportunities that come up.

Maybe is easier than yes or no.

Risk is better avoided. Uncertainty can be dealt with, but knowing someone doesn’t want to hang out with you is hurtful.

Or we’re just over-committed. 

A friend was relieved when I stopped creating more websites. He doesn’t understand how I work, but the websites each have their own brand and purpose which satisfies my creative nature. I can work contentedly within these sites. That’s the key. Knowing when to stop and be able to work within the dimensions you have created to make meaningful connections and serve your community.

Being slightly under over-committed might make room for those connections that you desire. Do you know what you could do with that free time? 

  • Risk saying yes or no, and be known as someone people can depend on to show up for things.
  • Build a thick skin for rejections that will come.
  • Don’t take a no personally.
  • Be available.

That last is one of my rules.

Be available means being slightly under over-committed so I can serve others through listening and loving by spending time with others either online or in person. My to-do list is not more important than the people I come to know in person or online. And that means, I show up to serve every day, and I encourage you to do the same. More than this, I encourage you to risk that emotional connection with others.

 

Volunteers Needed #Missions #Mentors #Writers

TRC Magazine:

You told her many times that you aren’t a writer. She heard your testimony many times and so have others. You can’t put two sentences together. TRC Magazine is looking for writers who will give a voice to the people God is working through that can’t write. We are looking for writers to show us all aspects of the Christian life. We are a very diverse crowd. Provided the story follows the usual statement of faith and won’t lead anyone astray, you are welcome to apply here.

Cataclysm Missions Intl LLC:

Many volunteer positions exist here. Can you mentor someone online? Can you help a church or ministry do online work better? Can you write once per month on the blog and help others evangelize online and face-to-face? Check out this ministry here.

Lifting the Heavy Weights

Some Days Look Like This...

I am happy to report that I have finally passed the 50% mark in my Kindle of the required reading from WorldVenture called, Intercultural Communication For Christian Ministry.

Between working a full-time job and working full-time ministry, reading is challenging. Added to this, it’s not your Hallmark easy reading book, but heavy, like lifting weights at the gym; only it’s working the muscles in the brain.

Something that I would like to share with you is this quote:

“Since people of any one cultural group do not think in one style alone, but rather in a variety of styles, it can be useful to construct a profile of styles for a people and use this as a guide for communicating with them.”  (51%, Kindle version).

Communication styles are necessary if you want your message understood. As a blogger and a writer, I get it. I find this book completely fascinating. Still, I cannot wait til I am done with it and I can check one more thing off my task list as an appointee.

Many thanks though to Pastor Dave Droste for helping me get through Wayne A. Grudem’s book, Twenty Basics Every Christian Should Know: Christian Beliefs. Only a few chapters left to run through of this task! I am learning a lot, but not just from the book, but from him.

Running and Ministry

Not every run will turn out okay. Running is a metaphor, an adjective, and a goal and discipline-maker. As a high school student, I wasn’t athletic. I hated running. All I wanted to do was sit on the bleachers under the warm California sun and read. Running happened almost three years ago when I so desperately wanted to do something different with my life; break the mundane. Do something crazy.

Running happened because someone believed I could do it (you know who you are!). It became part of my spiritual life, a creative expression, a longing to embrace the outdoors. On Saturday, I ran my peak run a few weeks from the Whiskey Row Marathon (20 miles) and it was the worst run ever.

If a friend had driven by and offered me a ride, I would have taken it that day, and called YMCA to downgrade my run from a full to a half marathon. When the emotions and pain subsided, I realized that I did finish 20 miles. The very act of just finishing a difficult task is worship. Following the Lord in what He has called you to do is like running that 20 miles. It is obedience.

Training requires consistency. You can’t train sometimes and only when you feel like it. For a marathon, you have a regiment of regular running, specified miles, so you are prepared for the real thing. When I think of bad runs, I think how ministry requires consistency and planning.

Many times a ministry will fail, not because the idea was bad or it was against God’s will, but because of lack of preparation, discipline, or consistency. A ministry cannot run on a few volunteers. Volunteers must embrace the vision and mission of the ministry and be “sold” on its message. Like running, ministry requires patience as you train to get there.

I’m praying that my run on May 14 will be good in spite of the struggle to train just like I pray your ministry will succeed with unlimited energy to produce great results, but not be results-driven.

Have a great day, friends!