God is faithful….. End of year thoughts.

There is a flurry of activity in the holiday season. I so appreciated the moment to stop and consider how God has been faithful this year. It has been a tough economic year but I loved receiving my giving statement and a personal letter from pastor and the stewardship team at Concordia! It gave me an opportunity to see God’s provision!

I loved the end of year encouragement to reflect and give thanks … AND create a plan!

Thought this was great:

1. Do NOT go into debt for Christmas. Make a year end plan today that will save you from spending yourself into debt.

2. Pay something off today. Make a payment on a credit card or bill that will pay it off or put a dent into the lump sum.

3. Spend a few minutes after you’ve read this letter to ask God to give you direction on who needs a blessing in their life and how you can bless them.

4. Automate some savings. Go into your online banking and set-up an automatic withdrawl of a percentage of your income to your savings account.

5. Stop right now and name 5 things that you are thankful that God has provided for you and your family.

6. Re-quote your insurance. The average person who re-quotes their insurance receives a $500-700 savings per year. Look at netquote.com as a great website to use.

7. Ask God how He wants you to be obedient in your generosity through the end of the year.

Later in the letter it lists the things that God has done at Concordia over the last year and half through and with us!

  • 25 people have been baptized!
  • 294 people attended worship services on Easter weekend 2011
  • We have first guests EVERY Sunday except one!
  • 750 people attended the Living Nativity last year
  • Over 2,000 people attended the Easter Eggstravaganza.
  • Over 100 car packages were packed for the military.

Yes, its good to stop and reflect….stop and give thanks….stop and plan….stop and SEE WHAT GOD HAS DONE! This made my day.

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2012 planning

Have you done some planning for 2012?  That’s what I’ve been doing over the last few days.  It’s an opportunity to look at a clean slate of possibilities for the new year…..it is pretty exciting to envision where we can connect with our community, bless others, help people connect with God and each other, help people connect with their giftedness and where they can use their gifts to …. change the world!

Love the clean slate. Love considering what God wants to do with and through us.  How could we think small?  That is incongruent with a big amazing God who does things greater than we could possible ask or imagine! (Ephesians 3:20)

No other way than to be BOLD!

What is in store for you in 2012?

Planning Retreat

We are beginning a new ministry in Tijuana and decided we needed time to do some heavy planning.  That was my idea….massive and foundational planning!  As I began to think and pray about it, I began to think about what we had looked at over the last couple of months as we went through the “Speeding up by Slowing Down” series and how we need to create margin and space in our lives to really live on mission. When we crowd our lives, the first thing that tends to get pushed out is our time with God.

Wow…that really hit me between the eyes!

I decided (….more like listened to the whisperings of God to my spirit) that we needed to first create some significant space to stop and reflect on what God had taught us over the last 10 months of great things, not so great things and everything in between.  I am absolutely convinced that God teaches us through the good, the bad and the ugly!  (sometimes more through the bad and ugly then the good!)

We spent the first three hours doing this … reflecting on what God taught us, who He is and then communicating directly with Him in supplication and prayer.  We only got in another three hours of planning before we had to stop because we were all four battling various stages of a bad cold!  We spend a couple of hours in fun….playing dominoes and watching a chick flick!

This morning I was delighted to hear that despite our colds we all had a good night’s sleep and spent another 2 hours in reflection and prayer.  In total we spent 5 hours in prayer and 8 hours total in planning.  You might suspect…..yes, we got more planning done than if we had spent the entire 13 hours in strategy and planning!  Not only that, but we were able to talk deeply and openly in a way that I had not recognized before.  Our team is maturing in our understanding of our unique calling and work, I am convinced.

It was good to seek  margin for these two days.  What has God shown you over the last 10 months?  Carve out the time to reflect on this in your life.  You might discover some interesting lessons and truths that are meant just for you!

Thanks to Messiah L.C. who helped us with the $150 to make this retreat possible!  You continue to challenge us to ask the big questions and we are grateful!

Here is our Tijuana ministry team (from left to right:  Tere M., Legna L. and Jhoselyn P.)  I am privileged to serve alongside of them!

Margin with legs on!

I have been MIA on my blog.  Yes, we have been talking about creating margin in life to live on mission, to spent time with God and others, to respond well.  Just from talking with people and from my own experience, the message series about “Speeding Up by Slowing Down” has had impact. If you didn’t catch all of it, I recommend you spend the 20 minutes for each podcast in the series. Each one is important…..don’t miss any.  Go here and find the podcasts and take a few minutes …. THAT’s THE POINT!  Go here

I have really taken these teachings to heart.  This is a hard one for people who are on the go and doing something BIG…..like launching a church!  Pastor has been on his own journey. It has been interesting to follow his blog.  That one is found here.

Actually, it is hard for all of us…..and we are all doing something BIG whether it is launching a church or raising a child. And our modern culture lobs us onto a treadmill and there we go…… we just run!  We are so busy running, we don’t do what we were created for and we don’t even do that thing we are racing for very well….whether it is launching a church or raising a child.  If you are being real you know that is true.  I know it’s true for me.

Lot’s of things that I thought critical and even critical that I DO THEM, really have done nicely without my hovering over them I have found. Imagine that! Yes, it’s good to be reminded, in a healthy way, that I am not THAT important. 🙂

I have incorporated some things that I feel really good about…..and I still have the temptation to cancel them if there is something important at the church that needs my attention…..but I am going to try to resist that temptation.

I am taking more time for walks and exercise classes…….thanks to my friend Maria I even have gotten into ZUMBA. Well, I can’t say that I have gotten into it yet….I can’t really follow the crazy moves quite yet.  But the community center over in Chula Vista at Loma Verde I think it is called, has a $5 class.  You will see me there on Wednesdays.  I also carved out some time to prepare for meals (trying not to fly out of the house in the morning!)….and paying more attention to healthy eating (oh…and doing Weight watchers…that also required me to carve out time for the meeting and weigh in).

I am taking more time to think (yes……thinking requires some space and time in which to do this!) and pray.  This is a very good thing.  It is giving me better perspective.

I am taking more time to read things outside of the area I normally do….thanks to the Kindle that my kids and mom gave me for my birthday in September that I hadn’t even touched until now. I remember the days pre-children that I read great literature.

Yes, there has been lots of chaos — er, I mean transition — in my house.  One kid moved out to live near college for his last semester (waaaaaa!), two kids moved in (my two chinese exchange students), one kid is going between college and home, one neice moved in with my mom whom I help take care of  and we are launching a new ministry in Tijuana …. etc

But I realized that life is always in transition…..and in my case, often in chaos!  That can’t be a reason (excuse?) to not work at creating margin in my life.  Now, will I get this right all the time?  No.  But it is worth being vigilant over because I want to live on mission and smell the proverbial flowers along the way.  I want the people in my life to know they are important to me by spending time with them.  It’s a good struggle, this time of margin.  I am confident I will find the right rhythm….but it will take work I know.

How are you doing in creating margin in your life?