Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fruits of My Labor for the Kingdom

I've been working like a card making elf! In the last week I've finished seven boxes of cards that I'm going to sell for my Kingdom Assignment. I invested the original 100.00 in supplies. My goal is to sell 8 boxes of cards and 10 journals. I sell my boxed cards for 25.00, the box has 6 to 8 cards, depending on the design of the cards. Journals that I make are 30.00 and usually include a matching gift bag. If I can sell everything that I make, I will have multiplied my Kingdom Assignment money by five! I'm going to have my goodies at the tea party on May 8th for sale. But, I thought that I'd also offer my things to anyone out there who is interested! I know that May 8th when people see my cards and journals in real life, they will go quickly. So, now is your chance. And, since I haven't finished all the journals yet, you could maybe even talk me into making something sort of custom for you. Let me know what you'd like and I'll see what I can do!

I went to Carla's today to pray some more and to finalize our plans for the tea party. Again we were reminded that this is really God's tea party. How much fun it is to trust Him everyday with even this! I know the tea party is going to be fun. As Carla and I talked about the details we felt ourselves slipping in to worry. What if we don't have enough people come, what if it rains, what if we don't end up multiplying our Kingdom Assignment money very much?????? But, that is just fear talking; and us forgetting who is really in charge. God is really the party planner and grand invitation extender. Carla and I are simply the hostesses of the day.

Here are some words from Scripture that helped me remember our purpose today:
"All this {new life, new hope, no fear} is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God." 2Corinthians 5:17-21

That is what our tea party is all about, extending the reconciliation of Christ to any who might need it. We have been given a beautiful party because of His death for us. What a joy it is to extend that party invitation! Who will you invite to go with you to the party?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Kingdom Assignment and how I got to the Tea Party

In Kansas City I had volunteered at Ronald McDonald House in their craft room. I helped to keep it as organized as possible, helped stock it with donated supplies; and to come to the house once or twice a month and do craft projects with who ever would be there and interested. The idea was to help with an activity that would take moms' and dads' minds off doctor appointments, therapies, and generally stressful stuff. It was one of the best experiences of my life! I have truly missed that since moving here.

So, I began to wonder if I could do something similar here. Nothing panned out...and then the Kingdom Assignments happened. I tried to make this same idea fit for the academy. At this point with the academy, it will not work.

When we first moved here I attended a class for newcomers, hosted by CPC and Carla at her home, called Moving on After Moving In. It was a Bible study developed by Susan Miller. I can't tell you how important this was to me. During a move, any move--across town, or across the world--emotions are raw and hearts are more inclined to the Lord than ever as folks seek direction in their new place. How wonderful it was to be reminded that God is in the move, that He is with me and never forsakes me. This is something that as a Christian I knew...but so much had happened in our lives before getting here, and on the way here, that I really needed to be reminded. The mission of Just Moved is:

Just Moved! strives to equip and encourage women who move through personal contact, Moving On After Moving In classes, newsletters, books, videos, seminars, conferences and prayer support. We are a non-denominational, outreach ministry that is committed to the spiritual growth and emotional well-being of women going through the transition and adjustment to a move.

No, it is not anywhere near the needs faced in the inner city. No, it is not a stretch, nor is it difficult for me to help to host a tea party. But, here is what I experienced in the class: Women who are hurting and need Christ are more open to seek Him during difficult periods of life. In the class I was a part of, one woman was grappling with her need for a savior, while another woman was experiencing for the first time love and care through the prayers of others. 25% of the population moves every year. That is a potential 25% people group that could be reached for Christ!

My gift mix includes teaching; and I love God's word. I am passionate about ways to help the Bible and a relationship with Jesus make sense in the lives of people. I believe through Just Moved, that's what I'm helping to do.

Our tea party is coming at a time when the ministry has been offered a matching gift opportunity. Carla is a good personal friend of Susan Miller. When Carla told her about our idea for a fund-raiser tea party, Susan was excited and found that her calendar would allow her to come! Susan speaks all over the world, teaches classes to military families, and to corporations: yesterday she was in Utah at In and Out Burger teaching to some corporate types who had just moved. Susan has written two books about moving and has spoken on the radio at Focus on the Family and Family Life Today many times.

What we are hoping to do at the tea party is reconnect some of the women who have been through the class, as well as connect Just Moved Ministries to a couple other churches in the area. Personally, I'm hoping that we can crank up the classes at CPC again this summer or fall. We are asking for donations of any amount that will go to Just Moved. I'm going to make boxes of cards and journals to be sold with all proceeds going to Just Moved. I'm pretty sure that after our tea party, I'll be more involved with Just Moved in some way. I have a heart for families who have been pulled up by their roots and are seeking, perhaps without knowing it, for the love of Christ.

Originally I thought that this assignment needed to be difficult, needed to be to start up some new ministry that had not existed before. However, through reading the parable of the talents again and through prayer, I have begun to see that the task put out with the Kingdom Assignment was to simply trust God with His finances, trusting that He'd lead the way to multiply the original 100.00 for the good of His Kingdom.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Kingdom Assignment Celebration Time

Two sure signs of Spring: rainbows and blooming pretty things! I always try to share some recent pictures when I blog, so I picked spring shots for today. The rainbow was viewed from our back yard about two weeks ago. I have no idea what the flowers are, but they bloom on a bush in my yard.

So much to update you on regarding my Kingdom Assignment! I'm giddy with excitement! I'm not sure where to begin.

This Saturday I'll be helping my friend Mary with her Kingdom Assignment. She is having a friend, who just happens to be a chef, teach a class on how to make marmalade. Mary is inviting friends to come and participate in the class, and then go home with a jar of marmalade. She'll ask for a donation for the class "fee" which will then go toward purchasing foreign language materials and curriculum for the San Francisco City Academy.

Then, next month; I'll team up with my friend Carla and do a joint project for our assignment. We are both passionate about a ministry called Just Moved Ministries. It is headed up by Susan Miller. Susan has a heart for those folks who have moved, uprooted from life they knew before coming to a new community. Susan has written two books about moving and developed a wonderful class called "Moving On After Moving In". I took that class, facilitated by my friend Carla, when we moved here. I can't tell you all the ways this blessed me as well as my family. Check out the website and too. I could go on and on about this class, but I'll save that for another day.

Right now I want to let you know how my Kingdom Assignment is going to work. Carla and I will be hosting a Girlfriends' Tea Party Fundraiser for Just Moved Ministries. We are inviting anyone in our area who has attended the MOAMI class; as well as all the girlfriends we can dig up to come and have a tea party with us the day before Mother's Day. We'll ask for support for Just Moved at the tea party. I'm going to have boxes of hand-made by me cards and journals for sale, all proceeds from those will go to Just Moved.

Carla is a good friend of Susan's. When we had all the details nailed down for our little tea party, Carla sent an email to Susan to let her know what we were doing and how excited we were about the whole thing. And, then God just surprised the socks right off Carla! Susan is going to come to our tea party! How cool is that!!?? You probably can't tell by this...but I'm really, really excited! Carla and I acted like we had won a new car or something equally cool when we found out that Susan is coming!!!

So, now I've really got to get busy and get cards and journals made.

It has been so much fun to trust God and see what would happen. Still more to come, I'm sure!

Monday, April 5, 2010

Happy Tomb Sweeping Day

Have you ever heard of this traditional Chinese Holiday? It was new to me. David told me that a counterpart of his from work in China had sent him an email that she was out of the office for tomb sweeping day.

How ironic is it? Yesterday, as Christians, we celebrated the empty tomb left behind Jesus as He was resurrected to new life. In fact our faith relies on the fact that Jesus has risen from the dead and is Lord over all!

Do you know the story of Aslan from CS Lewis' Narnia series? When he is about to turn himself over to the White Witch to be killed by her as a brutal sacrifice in return for the life of Edmund, he refers to the "deep magic" with which the White Witch was not familiar. That deep magic said that a perfect, willing sacrifice would suffice to pay the debt that Edmund, a son of man, owed to the White Witch. The deep magic meant that the witch's brutal murder of Aslan would not hold him to death. In the story, after he is killed and the Witch has celebrated her victory over Aslan, she and her ensemble of hoodlums leave Aslan's body on the stone table. Alone on the table, the deep magic begins to take hold; the earth rumbles, the ancient stone table cracks in half, and Aslan roars to life!

Perhaps this Chinese tradition of sweeping the tombs of long dead ancestors is rooted more deeply in the "deep magic" than anyone can truly know!

Jesus, the son of God, willingly gave His life as a perfect, sinless sacrifice; once for all, to pay all sin debts. The fact that he did not stay dead proves that God accepted this sacrifice as payment. No longer do sacrifices need to be made! No longer do we need fear the power of sin and death. For as long as we belong to Jesus; there is no condemnation! Aslan was CS Lewis' allegory of the life of Christ.

Hallelujah! Christ is risen indeed!

Here is some more information on tomb sweeping day. I found this in a quick internet search. Any spelling mistakes, are not mine!

Celebrated two weeks after the vernal equinox, Tomb Sweeping Day is one of the few traditional Chinese holidays that follows the solar calendar-- typically falling on April 4, 5, or 6. Its Chinese name "Qing Ming" literally means "Clear Brightness," hinting at its importance as a celebration of Spring. Similar to the spring festivals of other cultures, Tomb Sweeping Day celebrates the rebirth of nature, while marking the beginning of the planting season and other outdoor activities.

Qing Ming Jie in Ancient Times
In ancient times, people celebrated Qing Ming Jie with dancing, singing, picnics, and kite flying. Colored boiled eggs would be broken to symbolize the opening of life. In the capital, the Emperor would plant trees on the palace grounds to celebrate the renewing nature of spring. In the villages, young men and women would court each other.

The Tomb Sweeping Day as Celebrated Today
With the passing of time, this celebration of life became a day to the honor past ancestors. Following folk religion, the Chinese believed that the spirits of deceased ancestors looked after the family. Sacrifices of food and spirit money could keep them happy, and the family would prosper through good harvests and more children.

Today, Chinese visit their family graves to tend to any underbrush that has grown. Weeds are pulled, and dirt swept away, and the family will set out offerings of food and spirit money. Unlike the sacrifices at a family's home altar, the offerings at the tomb usually consist of dry, bland food. One theory is that since any number of ghosts roam around a grave area, the less appealing food will be consumed by the ancestors, and not be plundered by strangers.

Honoring Ancestors
Honoring ancestors begins with proper positioning of a grave site and coffin. Experts in feng shui, or geomancy, determine the quality of land by the surrounding aspects of streams, rivers, trees, hills, and so forth. An area that faces south, with groves of pine trees creates the best flow of cosmic energy required to keep ancestors happy. Unfortunately, nowadays, with China's burgeoning population, public cemeteries have quickly supplanted private grave sites. Family elders will visit the grave site at least once a year to tend to the tombs.

While bland food is placed by the tombs on Qing Ming Jie, the Chinese regularly provide scrumptious offerings to their ancestors at altar tables in their homes. The food usually consists of chicken, eggs, or other dishes a deceased ancestor was fond of. Accompanied by rice, the dishes and eating utensils are carefully arranged so as to bring good luck. Sometimes, a family will put burning incense with the offering so as to expedite the transfer of nutritious elements to the ancestors. In some parts of China, the food is then eaten by the entire family.

Besides the traditions of honoring the dead, people also often fly kits on Tomb Sweeping Day. Kites can come in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and colors. Designs could include frogs, dragonflies, butterflies, crabs, bats, and storks.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Kingdom Assignment day 45 Half Way Point!

Wow! At times it has seemed that time on my Kingdom Assignment project has really been dragging, but at times it has seemed to whiz by too. A lot has happened since my last posting though.

First a shout-out to my eldest who is going to Mexico for spring break to build houses with the youth group through Amor ministries. He's on his very own Kingdom Assignment. I'm so proud of him!

We packed his suitcase this morning before beginning school because we were all so preoccupied with thoughts of the trip! I thought it best to get things sorted out and packed up so that we could continue on with our day. He'll be gone for a full week. I know he is going to have wonderful stories to tell when he returns. Secretly, I'm wondering if the Latin he's been studying will come in handy with figuring out Spanish! I did send along an English/Spanish dictionary! Via con Dios my son!

Now for a little update on my Kingdom Assignment. Since last I posted I've been down to the school to volunteer for a morning and had at least two meetings with my other friends who are also doing Kingdom Assignments. Just being able to meet with these gals and pray together has been so helpful! We have been able to share concerns and doubts and take them to the Lord together.

From the beginning of this challenge I've felt that I needed to do something close to my heart; something that I can be passionate about. Having seen the examples of other assignments, I wanted to do something big! Pairing a desire to choose something I feel to be in my gift mix with an opportunity to volunteer at the city academy, I felt I was on the right track.

When I went into the city I was filled with anticipation and a little bit of dread. Would this turn out the way I was hoping it would? Would I be able to see how my idea could come to fruition in the way I wanted it to? Little did I know what I was in for.

It was a morning of joy in serving the children at the academy. But, it was obvious that my project was just that, my idea which did not fit the needs of the academy. I enjoyed the day very much and can see the good that comes to the kids at the academy as the volunteers spend time with them.

Remember though, that I had thought that I could gather art supplies for a school which had none, that I might go and volunteer my time to help the kids with art. One of the things I needed to do was come up with a list of supplies that would be needed. I was told to go to the basement store room and see what I could find there. I knew this was just what I was looking for! Imagine my feelings when I saw the shelves filled to overflowing with watercolors, watercolor paper, construction paper, glue, paintbrushes, colored pencils, crayons, scissors, and most everything needed for a basic elementary age art program. I was told, "we get so much stuff donated to us that I almost don't know where to put it all!"

How wonderful!! Really! But, now you see, my idea is one that really doesn't fit the situation. Oh, I can see how I can further volunteer my time at the academy. What I had in mind though, is not what the school needs right now.

So, I've resolved that I will volunteer at the academy again; and I will most likely do so in some kind of art vein. I know that once their new building is built I will go and help move them in and hopefully organize supplies along the way to the shelves!

For now, it seems that I'm back to square one! I'll post more later....stay tuned!