We met under the cover of night. We slipped into our cars and cautiously veered around the road blocks – careful not to draw attention to ourselves. We communicated quietly or with our eyes so as not to make much noise. We handled the goods with care as we swiped the merchandise from it’s location and transported it to the designated area. By the time we had finished, we had relocated all the goods without any issues. Everyone had done their job flawlessly. The cops didn’t suspect anything. The items were delivered and we were safe in our homes celebrating a successful mission.
I love my Community Group! We successfully completed the mission described above last night. We delivered Christmas gifts to a needy family. For now, they live in a duplex that will be torn down in the next couple of months and so their streets are blocked off. We were able to bring a little joy to this family and even share the Gospel with them.
Thanks Jennifer! God needs more people scheming on His behalf! I’m happy to be a criminal for God’s glory! Thanks for the opportunity.
McKinney Falls State Park – Thanksgiving 2013
My family seems to be making it a tradition to go camping for Thanksgiving. We’ve done it the past few years and always have a great time. This year we went to McKinney Falls State Park and met my brother’s family, my sister’s family, my mom, and my aunt there for the week. We also broke in our new camper for this trip. It was a little cold and rainy the first few days but then ended up being really nice. We did a little geocaching with the kids, rode bikes, hiked to the waterfalls, and even took a little road trip to Lockhart for some great BBQ. (Black’s and Kreuz’s) It was a great way to celebrate Thanksgiving.
I’m grateful for Jesus, family, friends, camping and our new camper, football games, and time to get away from normal life and remember the things that are truly important.
In spite of her gifts as a communicator and writer, Heather Zempel is truly humble. She admits her mistakes and paints a picture of stumbling through the maze of small group ministry and leadership, but her passion and heart are also very clear. She loves people and isn’t afraid of a little mess – and in some cases a lot of mess. She doesn’t try to prescribe any particular model for building community but rather draws on her experiences (sometimes very funny) to give the reader some helpful tools for gaining a better perspective on your particular situation.
Here are some of my favorite quotes:
“I decided a couple years ago to stop trying to strike a balance [in my life] and to pursue life in rhythm instead.”
“People can find legitimate community and be discipled outside our structures.”
“Most people come into groups looking for social space; we encourage leaders to aim for taking their groups [beyond that] to personal space; and we hope individuals will look for intimate space opportunities with a select few inside the group.”
“We need to ensure that our routines don’t become routine.”
This is the best book I’ve ever read on small group ministry! If you’re a part of a small group or want to be, you should read this book!
Heather is actually a family friend, (As a child, Miranda played football with her every Thanksgiving. Mike was the all-time quarterback.) but. . . . well, nevermind – I can’t deny that I’m biased to this book, but it’s still the best I’ve ever read on community groups.
I leisurely walked out of the biggest Bucees in Texas with my road snacks in hand and noticed the wheel on the camper . . . it looks . . . what in the world? . . . huh? How could it be crooked?
Well. . . It wasn’t just a flat. A few hours later a Mobile RV repairman arrived and when he jacked up the camper the wheel just fell off. I knew something was wrong when I left Lake Jackson. Imhad no idea how bad it was. We had been on the road for at least 4 hrs and travelled about 60mph the whole time. The repairman explained that “someone must have been looking out for you” ’cause if the wheel had come off while we were on the road. . . well, we probably would have lost a lot more than a wheel and axle. My children were in the truck. My bride was in the truck. I can’t imagine and don’t want to think about what could have happened.
In the end we had to spend a lot of $$ that we hadn’t planned on spending. We had to drive another 10hrs to pick up the camper. However, I have been blessed. The LORD protected us that day. He had His hand on us.
I wonder how many other times He has protected me without my knowledge? How many “Thank Yous” do I owe God? More than I’ll ever know. I’m sure. I’m just grateful.
LORD, for all of the the missed thank yous, please accept this one, “Thank You.”
We had a great time today at the Beltway 8 BMX track! The people at the track were great hosts and led us through the whole process. Some of the riders were very helpful to Kasen and the other little guys while they were on the track as well.
Kasen loved his first experience as a BMX racer. He even fell down once and got up to race the next time – made daddy very proud. As a dad, I’m learning so much about what it means to love – and how much God must love me. I take so much joy in watching my kids. It doesn’t matter too much what they’re doing – I just love watching them learn, and grow, and experience new things. I love watching them succeed and even watching them overcome obstacles when they fail. It’s so much fun watching who they are becoming.
I’m recognizing how great God’s love must be for me in all of this too. If I can love my kids in this way, I figure God’s love must be even better. Maybe it I shouldn’t stress so much about “what” I’m doing and focus more on “who” I’m becoming? Maybe that’s more what God is interested in too?
Anyway, here’s the video: You can see all of it – the good, the bad, the wipeout. . . everything. Miranda pointed out that I say “buddy” an awful lot too.
Miranda’s words triggered something in me. They cut deeply – a mixture of pain, sadness, thankfulness, and joy…….all evidence of true….LIFE.
She grinned as she spoke, “Oh….we can put something on the back!”
I hadn’t prepared myself for this moment. My mind was flooded with emotion. We had talked a few times about getting ourselves TBall shirts to support Kasen’s team, but this thought was new…unexpected.
In that split second, I remembered being embarrassed by my dad who wore a shirt with what seemed like a neon sign flashing “CORN’S POP” on the back. It was WAY over the top and as a teenager WAY embarrassing…..but then again, his love for me (and my brother and sister) was also WAY over the top.
Anybody wanna guess what I’ll have printed on the back of my TBall shirt?
“It’s the difference between saying ‘I’m doing this because…’ or ‘I’m doing this so…'”
I heard the words coming out of my mouth but hadn’t really even processed them yet. Miranda and I were driving during the Christmas holidays and talking about chores for our kids. Let me explain:
“I’m doing thisbecause I love my family.” Internal Motivation – I want my kids to be motivated to express their love of our family by doing some chores.
“I’m doing thisso I can get paid.” External Reward – The other option is to give an external motivation like paying them.
So where are we? I know what I’d like for my children, but what works? I’m sure that the external reward would work if my only goal was to get the job done. But I want my kids to learn some responsibilities and know what it means to be a part of a family – to learn how to contribute to the family – to learn how to serve others and be motivated by their love rather than just some selfish motivation like a reward.
How do we make that work? I know that my example is the best way to teach a lesson, but where and how do I set expectations for them that will really convey this message and teach them what I really want them to know?
Ideas? Please post ’em in the comments section. I need all the help I can get.
I’m praying for a really long “hangover” this Christmas. Let me explain:
The Collins English Dictionary defines a hangover as “the delayed aftereffects of drinking too much alcohol…” A “Christmas Hangover” is what I’m calling that time after the annual family gathering/gift exchange when you experience the “aftereffects” of Christmas. Some of the typical symptoms of the Christmas Hangover include sleeping children (worn out from playing with new toys), a crash-&-burn-feeling when the post-meal sugar high subsides, and the soothing sound of an empty house after everyone leaves.
All of this got me thinking though. Are these the kinds of “Hangovers” we should experience after Christmas? If our celebration is truly centered on the birth of Jesus, then our “aftereffects” might be a little different. I want to experience a much longer hangover – one which is motivated by the proper response to the incarnation – one that reflects the fact that Emmanuel “God with Us” is here! The incarnation should be incarnated in my life as well. I want to be changed by my Christmas interactions with Jesus. And I want those changes to last throughout the year – forever. I want a long “Christmas Hangover.”
Prayer: Lord, let me be “hungover” with an overflow of the love you gave to us at Christmas. Let me be “intoxicated” by peace and “under the influence” of Your Spirit. May the “aftereffects” of your incarnation be incarnated in my life as well. AMEN.
PS – I don’t drink and never want to experience a “hangover” as it is normally defined.