Move over adults… Youth are taking over the church.

We are in awe of ALL God did at our Fruit of the Roots youth event last weekend!! Youth from Vineyard churches all over Oregon and Vancouver, gathered at our church to worship and seek God together. They connected with one another, old friends and new, deepening community. They had loads of fun, ran around like loons, drank liters of gatorade and ate tons of food… And they worshipped. They prayed. And they served.

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Together the youth made care packages for the Police officers in our community, they gave Hope packs out to people at the hospital and prayed in the emergency room, they made shoes for children in Africa suffering from jiggers thru the ministry Sole Hope, they made meals and gave them to our homeless community, and they prayed for and gave money to various people God led them to.

Personally for our family, God met us with His kindness and faithfulness. Here are a few stories… Selah (6yo) prayed after hearing testimony of eyes being healed on Saturday… “God You are the only God, the One True God. You are the Healer, not the sicker, You are the Healer.” I loved how she prayed “not the sicker”  🙂 The Truth of who God is has been sealed upon her heart. Salem (10 yo) was battling some discouragement when we came to the church. I asked him to come and listen to the service Saturday night, as testimonies were being shared from outreaches the youth participated in on Saturday afternoon. As he listened to the testimonies, he was reminded of the Truth of Who GOD IS. Immediately, the discouragement lifted and he returned to his joyful silly self! This year was Soleil’s (12yo) first time to participate in Fruit of the Roots as part of the youth group. She has been sharing stories of her outreach group going out into the community and serving people God led them to with us all week. She is growing with a burning passion for Jesus that is evident in her joy and Worship!!

Sunday morning, we had an overflow of joy in worship as our church community gathered for our service. There was freedom to dance and shout as we all proclaimed “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a Child of God!” Across all of the generations represented in our church, from babies to 80 years young, we proclaimed and sang out “We are the Children of God! We know Whose we are, we are the Children of God!” After the worship time, Adam called for prayer over those in need of healing, addiction and for an increase of Joy. He asked the youth to pray and God moved powerfully over those who responded. We sang again “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God”. This time, I asked one of our 8th graders to lead out on the song … hesitantly she started singing (since I put her on the spot!) but WOW, God gave her courage and she sang boldly and beautifully as He used her to lead us!

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Sunday evening, we had our Harvest Party. Families from the church and community gathered and our little building was filled with everyone enjoying LOTS of candy, chili, games and FUN!!!

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Adults, be aware – THIS is what happens when young people are in the church. And it is GOOD!  Thanks for reading… our story continues… In Him, LRB

Redeeming Death and Darkness

In our stores this month, death has been for sale. Have you seen it? People actually pay their hard earned cash, people actually spend REAL money… on death. I don’t get it. Here’s what I know about death – it stinks, it rots, it decomposes and it’s ugly. So why do we pay to display and dress up in it? At Goodwill recently, I ran across a statue of a vampire holding a head. The lovely piece of “Art” was on sale for $79. Yes, you read this correctly. It was once sold somewhere else, then donated, then re-sold at Goodwill, where everything is supposed to be ‘cheaper’ for $79.

We buy death. We decorate with death. We display death around our homes and neighborhoods. Halloween has become an opportunity for companies to make money off of selling items, which if portrayed in real life, people would be arrested for. One would be incarcerated if found dressed up and holding someones cut-off head. It is disgusting.

The United States of America is a very interesting place. In many other countries Halloween is not celebrated. We have friends who live in Austria where Halloween has only gained popularity in recent years. We are confusing our neighbors across the pond with our obsession with darkness, death, fear, scary costumes, gore, horror, and the list could go on and on. We spread it around our lawns and like this house I often go running by, we hang it from our treeeeeeeeeesssssssss.

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Yes, visiting our neighbors houses is fun. Collecting candy is fun. Decorating is fun. Costumes are fun. Games are fun. But glorifying darkness, death and fear? Not fun. And this goes beyond Halloween… What are we portraying day to day with our time, energy, actions and money? Life or death?

“Oh death, where is your sting? Oh death, where is your victory?” Jesus conquered death. We have no reason to fear. If we are Christ followers, we no longer live in darkness, we live as Children of the Light. We are called to walk as sons and daughters of God, as children of the Light. The same power that raised CHRIST from the dead LIVES within US!

Friends, this is our time to shine. Shine with the light of Christ. In a season where death is glorified and darkness overtakes our neighborhoods, we have an opportunity to shine as fierce as the sun! In the past our family has hibernated and hidden away from Halloween, and we’ve missed opportunities to talk with our neighbors. I’m not proud of this. A few years ago, we spent Halloween being a “fun house” on the block, and hosted a carnival style party where games, candy and fun spilled out of our house and driveway and onto our neighbors. At our house tonight, we are planning to shower our neighbors with friendship thru games, candy and fun as we shine the light of Christ thru our actions.

Perhaps nothing will change from this simple blog and these humble ideas. But perhaps… perhaps some of you will decide to do something different next year. My one suggestion would be – trash it. Don’t pack it up and donate it to Goodwill to be re-sold. Perhaps there will be a new generation of Halloween participants who will share light instead of darkness, fun instead of fear, and shower this world with the Light of Christ proclaiming LIFE over DEATH!

Thank you for reading and sharing in our journey! In Him, LRB

Halloween

Boo. 

It’s that time of year for costumes, candy corn and creepers to come out of the closet.  

Orange lights are blazing and fake spiders are spinning webs all over my neighborhood while kids everywhere are gearing up for the night of their lives, dressing up and skipping from door to door asking their stranger neighbors for candy which will eventually lead to the demise of their teeth.
aaaand…It’s that time of year for some of us to debate about whether or not we will allow our kids to trick-or-treat gather and hoard loads of candy they receive from the stranger neighbors.

In years past our family has celebrated 10-31 as just another day where we hibernate making our home into a cave from the hours of 6-8pm. We close all the doors, turn off all our lights, lay on the floor and tell our kids not to make a peep. So no one will know we are home.

Low and behold, we would still get knocks on our front door. Our neighbors weren’t fooled. The darkness and silence didn’t stop them from knocking on the door. Still, we ignored them.

We have also avoided the neighborhood trick-or-treat dilemma by truly leaving the house and attending a harvest party or trunk-or-treat at our church.

This year our family is doing something different. We are hosting a party in our garage and decorating with a carnival atmosphere. We are dressing up, passing out candy and popcorn. We hope to engage with our neighbors beyond the ring of the doorbell, opening the creaky door, hearing trick-or-treat and flashing them a smile while throwing candy in their bag. We hope to see our neighbors hidden under costumes, masks and makeup. We hope to invite our neighbors into our lives and begin to know them beyond the facade of fun.

Hmmm… but our family doesn’t even like Halloween. Our kids don’t even care about costumes (well, sometimes they dress up), or candy (well, sometimes they eat it), or creepers (well, never). We don’t even consider 10-31 a holiday. It’ll be just another manic Thursday… oooh wee oh.  (You’ll get that reference later)

So. You might love Halloween, you might hate Halloween, or you might fall somewhere in between. I don’t care. 
What I do care about is considering the craze of Halloween. 
This year, consider…

Consider the candy. 
Can we pass out healthy candy? Well, no. It doesn’t exist. But don’t freak out about what your passing out. And consider what your kids are receiving. Our kids know their candy limits. We usually throw most of it away by Thanksgiving. What a waste. Consider the waste and limit the intake.

Consider the costumes.
Seriously, consider the costumes. Their cost. Their effort. Their energy. Most people have already planned or purchased their costumes by now… but if not, consider recycling something you already have. Consider a costume swap. Consider what you allow your kids to dress up as. Are they appropriate costumes? Okay, I’d better stop there or I’ll be labeled as (gasp) judgmental (if I haven’t already).

Consider your convictions.
10-31 is just another day for some. They give it no more thought past buying the costumes and the candy. For others, it is greatly debated whether or not they will be involved a little, a lot, or at all. At what level are you celebrating Halloween? Consider what it means to celebrate this day. You can google the meaning behind the roots of this particular day and the celebrations of its origins. Consider your convictions. Don’t do something or buy candy and dress your kids up, just because everyone else is doing it. Maybe you need a night to shut off the lights, and lay silent on your living room floor.  Maybe you love spending your money on costumes and candy.  Maybe your family is being called to take a greater part in your community beggars night.

Consider the craze.
There is a craze in anticipation of 10-31, with sales close to the shopping craze of Christmas. Nothing is worth stressing over. Especially this day of the week we call Thursday. So Consider… 
“Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Colosisans 3:17 

In Him, Leslie

What are your plans on 10-31?

 

simplicity.

today is day #4 of wearing the exact same outfit.
i didn’t begin the week intending to wear the same outfit four days in a row…
but as it happened, there was a surprising freedom found.
Monday I put on the jeans i wore on Sunday {so technically it’s been 5 days of wearing the same jeans} and the tank tops, sweater, boots and scarf to make the outfit. then on Tuesday, i had a bunch of ladies and their kids coming over for a Bible study in the morning, so it was just easier to throw on the same outfit than to waste any extra brain power on thinking of something different to wear. then on Wednesday, my mind was on what i was going to wear later for halloween.  
not really.
just kidding.
{as a side note} our halloween clothing was a pretty simple decision:
i dressed as *myself* ~ a super cool mom with a coffee addiction.
the wee babs dressed up in sweet hand-me-down costumes we already had.
score.

Photo: Me & Les!! :-) http://instagr.am/p/Rdw2KtzQl4/
me with my friend Kristen ~ another super cool coffee addicted mom 🙂
Photo: My ballerinas and Iron Man :) #Halloween http://instagr.am/p/Rdy5-opGTu/
the wee babs ~ two ballerinas and an iron man

i think we all looked pretty cute 🙂 

so even though i was not thinking about halloween outfits on Wednesday morning, my mind was distracted *as usual*… hence, i took a whiff of the jeans and sweater and thought they smelled fine…ish. {and believe me, i know a thing or two about wearing stinky pants} i threw on the clothes, sprayed on some perfume and went out the door. then on Thursday, i was running late getting myself ready and forcing the kids to get ready for school… and you guessed it: the same outfit went on again…for the fourth day in a row.
now let’s be sensible. yes, i took a shower. yes, i changed my underwear.
but i have worn the same tank tops, sweater, boots and scarf for the past 4 days…and the same jeans for 5 days.

when i was in college, there was a fellow student in my biology class who wore the same outfit every single day.  he wore a denim button down shirt and jeans.  i always wondered if it was just on the days we had biology… but the other days i would see him around campus, he always had on the same outfit. i wondered why he wore the same outfit everyday, but i never asked him…

maybe it was just easier.
maybe he hated shopping for clothes.
maybe he didn’t have money for more than one outfit.

maybe it was just for the sake of simplicity.

i like clothes. and shoes. and bargains.
i’m not a big spender or a name brand snob, but i do like new clothes. and shoes. especially boots.
there are times in my life when i shop more, and other times when i give things away and forsake all further shopping.
when i do go shopping, i can easily get caught up in a buy/regret/return cycle.
and with 3 wee babs to buy clothes for, this cycle can triple itself.
this can be exhausting.

so for me, it really is better to keep it simple.
and wear the same outfit.
i mostly wear the same things anyway.

so this week i didn’t intend to wear the same outfit four days in a row…
but i am thankful i did…
it reminded me of how much i have… and how little i truly need.
it reminded me of how little the majority of our world lives with…
compared to the excess we live with.
it reminded me of the Pioneer times when American people owned very little clothing… an outfit or two for the work week and another dress for their ‘Sunday best’.
it reminded me how we are blessed with more than enough… and how quickly we can be burdened by living with too much.

i’m thankful for the surprising freedom found in wearing the 
same outfit this week.
simplicity.


what have you simplified in your life?