Monday, December 18, 2017

Ministry Update - Fall 2017

Nothing better than an update about a month late, right?  That should show just how busy our fall/winter has been here in eastern KY.  Here's a quick recap of September - November.

September marks a new Sunday School year for Baptist churches.  We started one new Sunday School class, specifically for high schoolers.  In addition, we were able to plug in 3 church members, previously not serving, in various positions of leadership.  The nominating committee has now identified, I believe, only 7 faithful attenders who are not actively serving in a weekly capacity.  Worshiping and serving together - it's important to church health!

In September, we were able to reestablish a church emergency food pantry.  The church had one years ago, but it stopped and no one really could explain why.  It's purpose is for emergency food - one or two meals at a time.  We consistently have people contact us (James and I personally) because they don't have food for dinner or need a hygiene product. We're praying this pantry becomes a blessing to our community and a source of outreach with the gospel.

The first Sunday in October, we had a church dinner after church.  These are always fun - sampling the tasty dishes everyone brings.  Also, our church participated in the Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes program.  We were able to collect and send 40 boxes.  Praying these boxes are blessings to the children who receive them. 143 children came through our annual Halloween Trunk or Treat. We were able to register those families and gave away two gift cards and a food basket.  It was so COLD that night, but we had a good time together as a church family being kind to the families who braved the cold for candy.  Ending the month, we were able to take our children/youth to the Crab Orchard Pumpkin Patch in Tazewell, VA.  It was such a fun day of hayriding, pumpkin chunkin', playground playing, etc... 

November began with Homecoming.  It is the 124th anniversary of MBC.  NAMB Missionary/ARM Director Bro. Bill Barker was our guest speaker.  James and I have known Bro. Bill for about 10 years and are always blessed and encouraged when we spend time with him.  His message encouraged our church to not only celebrate our church's past history but to look toward the future and continue to persevere in ministering in our community.  Also in November, we took some of our teen girls to the WMU Acteen winter weekend in Ashland, KY.  We stayed at Southland Bible Institute, which coincidentally used to be in Pikeville and their president is from Grapevine, only about 15 minutes from Mouthcard.  It was a mini-Pike Co reunion up there.  We enjoy Bible studies, hearing from missionaries, serving at a local community service center (The Neighborhood), playing games, and spending time with one another.

I'm sure I'm missing things we did.  It's been a wild quarter with tons of busyness and ministry.  December, so far, is proving to be just as busy.  Looking forward to that Sabbath rest in heaven!

- Two baptisms: Adult B and tween C both professed faith in Jesus and were baptized this fall. C's family was the winner of one of our trunk or treat gift cards.  So excited to see immediate fruit from that ministry.
- New baby!  Married couple, C and L, gave birth to their second son, A this fall.  So precious! Pray for this little one to come to know Jesus at an early age.
- Hudson has been asking a lot of salvation questions about following Jesus.  I know he loves Jesus and believes in him.  Knowing he's a sinner? Maybe? LOL  It's exciting (and slightly frightening) to be having these type of serious conversations with a 5.5 year old.  Prayers for wisdom and understanding appreciated.

Prayer Requests:
- New widows.  We had three sweet ladies become widows this fall.  All three having been married 40 years and more.  Please be in prayer for these ladies as they face their first holidays without their sweet husbands.  Pray for our church to be sensitive and intentional in ministering to them.
- New Sunday School Class. Be in prayer for the leaders: B and S as they teach well and reach out to prospective students.
- Discouragement.  It's a nasty, persistent thorn in the flesh of those in ministry.  Nasty stuff, it is.  Please be in prayer for positive attitudes, refocusing on the calling of Jesus, and renewed love for our church and community.
- Health. James and I are both having some health issues.  His is gastric in nature and mine is pain in my back.  Neither are super serious, that we know of, but definitely annoying and inconvenient. 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What seminary did/did not teach me - Part 2

A few days ago, I blogged about the things that seminary did not teach me - things I wasn't prepared for in ministry. Now, I will elaborate on the things seminary did teach me and it's a lot.

While I felt fairly unprepared for a lot of practical areas of ministry, seminary definitely prepared me theologically.

1. Seminary taught me to know my doctrine and know it well.  When I started seminary in the fall of 2004, I loved Jesus and that was about it.  I came from a small, country, and somewhat dysfunctional church just outside of Nashville, TN.  I learned to love Jesus and love his church there.  However, I did not learn much else.  I was fairly theologically illiterate when I started school.  Ecclesiology, eschatology, soteriology, hermeneutics, all the fancy words were Greek to me, including Greek and Hebrew.  Not so today - I not only learned doctrine and theology but learned to love it, know it, be able to teach it, and defend it.

2. Seminary taught me to depend on the Holy Spirit.  This is MUCH easier said than done.  This will sound arrogant (and I don't mean it that way), but I am good at stuff. I am a good teacher - it's what I studied in college and what I did for 7 years of my life and many more years in the church. I am also good at organizing and planning stuff.  However, I am 10,000,000 times better at those things when I depend on the Holy Spirit for strength, guidance, and wisdom.  Dr. Lawless, in particular, was the professor who really stressed this to me.  I may be able to do a good job at teaching and administrative type activities at church on my own and fool most people, but I can't fool Jesus.  Depending on the Holy Spirit is key to taking being "good" at something to being able to glorify Jesus through it.

3. Seminary taught me to be intentional in sharing Jesus.  Dr. Beougher's Personal Evangelism class not only taught this, but forced me to be it into practice.  The best evangelistic advice I ever received was from this class when Dr. B said to "speak to all people as you do to fellow believers."  Oftentimes when asked how we are, we would tell a fellow believer "Wow, God has really blessed me today" but to non-believers we respond with a "fine" or whatever.  He emphasized that by speaking the same way to all people, you open the door for explaining what you said.  I have seen this happen so often in my life - both the door opening to share some truth of Jesus and meeting people you didn't know were believers and being incredibly encouraged.  When I was pregnant with Hudson and uninsured (thank you pre-existing condition) I remember being asked at my OB-GYN's office for my insurance card.  Sighing, I answered that I was self-pay but added "we're trusting the Lord to provide."  The sweet receptionist looked at me for a minute then began reciting the 6th chapter of Matthew where Jesus reminds us not to worry because he provides for the birds and flowers and will provide for us.  It was super encouraging and just one example of how being intentional about Jesus not only blesses others, but blesses us as well.

4. Seminary taught me to look for the question behind the question.  When people find out your a believer, especially one involved in vocational ministry, the questions begin.  Sometimes people are straight-forward with their questions.  However, oftentimes their question is disguised by another question.    Questions about the problem of evil are often asked as complaints of suffering, accusations of God being evil to allow such suffering, and sweet people who are simply desperate for relief.  Questions about salvation are often guised with questions about being good enough, comparisons between one and someone who is considered worst-behaved, etc...  You get the picture.  It's easy to get distracted by questions and sometimes people do that on purpose as a way to not hear about Jesus.  Knowing the question behind the question, comment, or complaint keeps me focused.

5. Seminary taught me that we're all on the same team.  I am not athletic.  However, that doesn't mean I'm not competitive.  Like I said in #2, I'm good at stuff.  I am especially good at school. I was able to graduate from SBTS with all As and 2 Bs - that's pretty stinkin' good y'all.  However, there were SO many people smarter and wiser than me.  I remember distinctly in Greek 2 there being a young man in my class who scored higher than me on every.single.test.  Gosh it was frustrating.  I was annoyed that he was smarter than me. The Lord is always kind to discipline us. He spoke to me one day in class when I was frustrated (yet again) that he had scored a few points higher than me that "I ought to be thankful there are people smarter than me because I'm not all that smart."  Jesus speaks rather directly to me sometimes - haha!  Believers, we're on the same team.  I can now rejoice when I see someone's ministry is fruitful, when someone knows more than me, or someone succeeds more than I do.  We're on the same team - to bring people to know and love Jesus.  I'm not the end all be all in that goal so praise the Lord that there are people better at it than I am. I can learn from them, be challenged by them, and be encouraged by their faithfulness.

Overall, I am super thankful for seminary - the professors, Dr. Mohler and other admin, and the super sweet friends I made while there.  Louisville will forever be my home away from home.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

What seminary did and didn't teach me - part 1

This weekend marks 10 years since I graduated from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a M.Div in Great Commission Studies.  It's went by like a flash.  James and I are entering our 5th year in vocational ministry.  Looking back over the past 10 years, there are several things seminary did and didn't prepare me for in this crazy world of ministry.  For part 1, we'll look at what seminary didn't teach me:

Top 5 things Seminary did not teach me:

1. How much church work has little to do with Jesus.  At larger churches, there are secretaries and other administrative personnel to take care of the paperwork, curriculum ordering, All Church Profiles, website maintenance, scheduling events as to not overwhelm members, coordinating phone calls, etc...  James has felt called thus far to smaller, rural churches which means in many cases a lot of that work falls to me. I am good at administrative things, but I wasn't prepared for how much paperwork there would be to church.

2. How much ministry wouldn't be expressly Christ-centered.  Seminary prepared me to intentionally point people to Jesus.  However, I was quite taken aback when I realized that some of our much ministry would literally be teaching people how to live, not just live for Jesus.  James and I have had so many conversations with adults (some even older than us) about practical life skills we take for granted as common sense: budgeting your money, not procrastinating if you need a ride to court, speaking respectfully to a judge, bathing your child on a regular basis, the importance of cleaning your home, buying groceries before cigarettes, etc...  I remember distinctly a community member being at our home distraught that he was being arraigned for stealing copper from an abandoned home.  His excuse: "I didn't know the house belonged to anyone."  I couldn't hold back anymore; in my best teacher voice I explained that it doesn't matter if you know the owner or not, you knew you didn't own it.  Who knew we'd be explaining these things to adults? 

3. What to do when people's sin literally lands at your doorstep.  One morning, we were awakened at 6am.  Standing there crying was a sweet young mama and her two small children.  She and her husband were traveling to family when they began arguing.  Angered, her husband dropped her off at our house.  We let her stay until he returned and encouraged reconciliation.  Another young mama called me months later after he had hit her.  We had her pack a bag and drove her to an out of town family member's home.  James was talking with a man once when he literally passed out from whatever he had taken in our driveway.  James picked him up and drove him to his mama's house.  When a mama was fighting with her ex-husband and called to ask that we take the kids so they wouldn't witness the fight.  We took them.  Should we have insisted that they stay, hoping that would restrain the parents? I don't know? Were those the right things to do?  I hope so.  Much in life is black and white - do this, not that - but there are gray areas where you must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide you to know what is best.

4. I wasn't ready to be a pastor's wife.  Granted, seminary has the Seminary Wives Institute, but I graduated before James graduated, so I missed attending those classes.  My role as a pastor's wife has been on the job training.  There have been blessings, victories, encouragements, tears, failures, disappointments, and intentional hurts.  At times I have seriously questioned my ability to do this role.  That's how hard it can me at times, folks.  I'm thankful for other pastor's wives who have given wisdom and advice to me.  They are invaluable to me.

5. How to prepare my son for ministry hardships.  When we left Missouri, Hudson cried.  A lot.  It was the only home he knew.  I know that we follow God and where he leads us. I know that the eternal reward outweighs today's sadness.  Hudson doesn't yet understand that.  What do you do when a church member places unfair expectations on your child? Do you correct them? Or do you explain to your child the pressure the whole family faces? Would that alleviate or add to the problem?  This has probably been one of the hardest parts of ministry. For Hudson, church is fun. He LOVES it!  But it is also sacrificial in nature.  Just 6 months ago, James missed part of Hudson's 5th birthday because a community member had an emergency and needed someone to counsel her.  Hudson sometimes overhears the not-so-pretty parts of church life that other children are spared.  We emphasize that while the church isn't perfect that Jesus loves her and died for her and so we love her as well.  It is my prayer that these experiences, both positive and not so much, will only deepen his young faith.

Part 2  will be the top 5 things I learned from Seminary. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

My Daddy

Today marks one year since my Daddy passed away.  Grief is weird.  Some memories (good and bad) are magnified by grief, some are diminished.  Maybe it was because my Daddy worked so much, but he didn't talk much. I only remember a handful of stories he'd tell of his childhood or early work experiences. So even though I had my Daddy for 37 years, he remains a bit mysterious.

Not long after my Daddy's funeral, my Aunt Cookie (his second sister) wrote me this letter describing some of the way he impacted her life.  It has become one of my most prized possessions. Here is an expert from that letter.

     I was shocked and saddened when your dad, my brother, died. It was sudden - but perhaps
     that was best.

     I have thought of our time together as a family and he holds a special place in my heart.
     First, when I was born I could not have milk in any form and Buddy milked a goat for
     me for several years.  He helped save my life. I vaguely remember the goat tied in the
     back yard so I know it was for quite a few years.  Second, I had a dog named Junior.
     I loved him so much. He would always run to meet me at the school bus. One day, he did
     not make it and so I reached under the bus to grab him. I felt a very strong hand grab me
     at the neck and pull me back. It was Buddy; he saved me again.  Because I left home at
     such an early age, I missed growing up with my brothers and sisters. But Buddy would
     always stop to see me when I came home to see Mama and Daddy. Not everyone did;
     I always appreciated that and though he didn't talk a lot - he always came and so I
     hope my few memories are just that.  I wanted to share them with you - he was a good
     brother and I love him.

This letter meant/means so much to me.  Not everyone liked my dad, even among his own family.  He had a temper as a young man and didn't always make good choices.  He rarely apologized for those choices.  He had a very black-white moral ethic about him; things were either wrong or right, no gray area and so there was little compassion for those not in the right.  But he was also an incredibly hard worker, kind to people (particularly those of other races which was unusual for a man of his generation), and always willing to help someone in need. 

Miss you, Daddy! Hope to see you again.

One of my favorite pics.  Daddy trying to read the paper (as he did everyday) and baby Hudson trying to tear up the paper.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Ministry Update - Summer 2017

I do believe summer is my love/hate season at church. LOVE because there's time to do stuff; the kids are out of school, the weather is gorgeous, people are out and about. HATE because so many people are absent from church due to vacations.  It's a busy, fruitful, and odd season.  Here's what we've been up to this summer in Pike County.


June began with Vacation Bible School.  We had a wonderful week.  In total, we had 53 children/teens registered with 28 workers.  I was the lead 1-3rd grade teacher and James was the assistant Youth teacher.  Together, we ran the second church van which picked up kids in the Feds Creek area.  Our van was always over-filled and so much fun. We had 15 children express interest in learning more about following Jesus. In following up on that interest, about 6 of them were unchurched kids so we're slowly discipling and encouraging the kids in their burgeoning faith.  One teen boy has already been baptized and joined our church, which we are super excited about.

In May we started MOVE: Monthly Outreach, Visitation, and Evangelism.  The third Saturday of each month, we go out intentionally to share the gospel with our community.  For June, we followed up with unchurched VBS kids.  We had 4 adults and 4 children present to serve. 

In March, the Moms in Prayer group started at our local elementary school.  Not to lose momentum, we met at the park in June for a time of prayer, fellowship, and play for the kids.  We had 3 moms and 4 children.

Towards the end of June, we took the kids to see Cars 3 at the movie theatre.  We had 14 go, which was super fun!  Plus it ignited a LOVE for all things Cars in Hudson.  We saw the movie 4 times this summer and have started slowly acquiring all the Cars cars - like he doesn't have any toys already.

Our local association participates in LoveLoud each summer.  This is basically a local mission trip.  For a week, church members in SBC churches in our county get together to do construction projects, car washes, and other forms of outreach and service in our area.  James served as a gopher, basically delivering supplies to different construction groups.  I served in the kids club, providing childcare for the children of the LoveLoud servants.  Through the week, we had 5 come to faith in Jesus.

July was almost as busy as June.

And just like that, it was July!

It began with VBX at Grace Baptist, a sister church in our association.  It was a special VBS just for teens.  James and I took 4-5 teens from our church each day.  They had a great time being with other teens and growing in their faith.

For the July MOVE, we handed out Bibles and prayer driving.  There were 4 adults and one child present.  We've been praying that more of our church members would participate in this ministry.

The third week of July, we had our family vacation.  We stayed in-state, simply going about 5 hours west.  It was very relaxing, even if it was 100+ degrees outside!  We enjoyed plenty of pool time, afternoon naps, and family fun at various touristy things.

The week after vacation, 5 adults and 1 teen from our church went on a mini-mission trip to Love Packages in Decatur, Alabama.  It was a whirlwind trip, driving 14 hours round trip in basically 48 hours.  Love Packages is a ministry that recycles out of date Bible study curriculum, Bibles, and other faith-based literature by sending it to churches overseas that can use it.

I don't have many original ideas, but I do know good ideas when I see them!  We not-so-subtly stole Parkland Baptist's idea way back in '08 for Silly Sundays in July!  Each Sunday night, we had a Bible Study, songs of praise, and prayer plus crazy fun days!  We had game night, movie night, karaoke night, art night, park night, and water-play night.

And that brings us to August.

The Mini-Mission Trip Team reported on their trip the first Wednesday night at church.  We shared a video of pictures, gave an overview of the ministry, and shared testimony of what we learned.

The first weekend in August, we took several children/teens from church to the Breaks Interstate Park for a water park trip.  To go, the children had to earn it by either memorizing a passage of scripture or retelling a Bible story (for those that struggle with straight memorization). Hudson recited Psalm 23 which was such a blessing to me. Jesus has gifted him with an amazing memory that I am praying he will use for his glory.

For several years, the church has taken the regularly attending kids on a school supply shopping trip.  Each child got a big bag of general supplies, then we went to Wal-Mart where each child received $20 to buy special things they'd like. We then returned to church and had a pizza dinner.  The church's generosity towards the children is a huge blessing.

We've been very intentional about building a relationship with our local public elementary school this past year.  It's slowly (maybe not-so-slowly) paying off.  James was asked to bring a short devotion and time of pray for the faculty their last day of inservice before school began.  Then later that day, my Mom's in Prayer group hosted a prayer walk. We had a great turn out for the prayer walk - 11 adults and 5 kids!  Our first Moms in Prayer meeting was the last Wednesday in August and we had 6.  It's slowly growing and proving to be an encouragement to the moms who attend. We're very thankful for this open door for ministry in our community.

Our August MOVE focused on the families that have received moved into homes in our neighborhood.  We identified 4 new families and went to each one with a smile, offer of prayer, and a small Welcome to the Neighborhood gift.

In February, my friend Eva and I began a Girls' Day Out ministry. We've done an event each quarter and it's slowly grown from 3 girls in February to 8 girls in May.  For August, we hosted Girls Night In - a slumber party at church!  We had a spa theme with painting nails, DIY lip balm and bath salts.  Then we learned how to use the SOAP (Scripture-Observation-Application-Prayer) model of a quiet time.  We all spent the night at church and got up to make a muffin breakfast for the congregation on Sunday morning. We had 4 girls come. At first, I was a bit discouraged - I always hope for *this* many. Sometimes the Lord allows them to show up, sometimes he doesn't. The 4 turned out to be perfect! They were able to pair off with no one a third wheel.  So much giggling!

Other events this summer, that I didn't capture on my phone include two Church dinners which are always tasty and a good time for fellowship.  We continued in our monthly ministry to the nursing home.  Frequent hospital visits, including a drive to the hospital in Bristol.  One funeral for a sweet church member's husband.  Various conversations about Jesus, intentional counseling, building of friendships, and living life in community.

Other news:

Way back in April, we took photos at church for a new church directory.  We used it as an outreach event, opening it up for families not necessarily connected to our church to get a portrait made.  The Church Directories arrived mid-August.  I'm happy with how they turned out, though it has been a very long process to get them. 

After several people mentioning it, we decided to get church t-shirts.  The purpose is double-fold.  First, it helps identify us: whether at a youth event or a church event, wearing the shirt helps us (and others) know who we are.  Secondly, it's free publicity - wearing the shirt out and about in your normal day can serve as a silent reminder that our church is there, open, and active.  I designed it with the help of Suzanne at Bob's Sports Shop in Elkhorn, City.  I am super excited about how the design turned out and we're looking forward to getting them mid-September.


In our personal lives: Hudson started K at the end of August. So bittersweet. It's a blessing to see him healthy and growing, but sad that it is happening so darn quickly!  Slow down time, please.  James has been struggling with some health issues. Particularly he is having some vitamin and mineral deficiencies which are affecting his energy level. The doctors are still tweaking medicines and trying to get him regulated.  He is also meeting with a knee surgeon for a possible patella realignment.  Exciting and somewhat scary.  My health has been fairly good overall.  The one year anniversary of my dad's passing is coming up and I can already feel the lump in my throat just thinking about it.  We've been here a year, which is unbelievable.  It's been a very easy transition.  My second year in MO was one of a struggle with depression due to feeling very lonely.  I don't expect that here as I'm not home alone with a baby and have been so blessed to make good friends here.  Friends are such a blessing from the Lord!  We're looking forward to another year of ministry in Pike Co - praying for more to be reached for Jesus, continued and improved ministries at the church, and falling in love with Jesus more and more everyday.

- One year in KY!
- 8 Baptism this year
- 3 Transfers of letter this year

- James' health
- Hudson in Kindergarten (he gets a little teary when I drop him off)
- Church ministries to be strengthened
- More participation in our MOVE outreach ministry
- Wisdom for James and other church leaders

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Discipleship via an Alarm Clock


It's tough.  It requires time, commitment, and lots of patience - on the part of the discipler and the disciplee. (Pretty sure I just made up those words)

Recently, James baptized a teen boy at church.  This boy had faithfully attended MBC's VBSs in the past year but never got plugged into "normal" church.  This year he professed faith at VBS and asked to be baptized.  His parents are unchurched so James has been very intentional about trying to reach out to them.  They say they are supportive of his faith, but aren't interested in Jesus or the church for themselves.  The truth is, they are not supportive.  Support involves doing what it takes for a person to be successful in whatever it is you are supporting.  They refuse to wake him up on Sunday morning, feed him breakfast before church so he isn't hungry, or even attend his recent baptism.  It breaks my mama heart.

So yesterday, while at Wal-Mart buying some of H's remaining school supplies, we purchased this young man an alarm clock.  All in all, he's done a good job of being up and ready for church on Sunday mornings to catch the church van.  One Sunday, he even left his sleeping BFF in his bed and came to church without him which showed real maturity.  But he does miss some worship services because he's asleep and with no phone or clock in his possession, it's hard to just get up in time. He is a teenage boy, afterall, and it is summer read: no schedule.

Purchasing this alarm clock got me thinking about how we need to support each other in our discipleship walk.  Sometimes that support is great; requiring much from us.  Sometimes, it's a $5 alarm clock.  May we be the church - be people who see a need and fill that need so a fellow follower of Jesus can follow his or her very best.

Image result for walmart mainstays alarm clock
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds,
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing,
but encouraging one another—
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10:24-25

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Ministry Update - Spring 2017

I love spring.  Everything awakens and is beautiful and just plain lovely.  We've had a rainy, but busy spring here in eastern Kentucky.

March 2017

During January and February, our WMU group collected gently-used purses and filled them with hygiene products for a local domestic violence shelter.  The first of March, we delivered those purses.  James, Hudson, and I went with three other church members.  We collected 61 filled-purses which was awesome!  We delivered the purses, toured the facility, talked and prayed with the facility's director, then ate a delicious lunch in Prestonsburg, KY.

The first Sunday in March was Youth Sunday.  I don't know if MBC has ever had a Youth Sunday before, but if so it had been in many years so this was definitely a new thing.  We utilized all the children, preschool and up.  Students taught the preschool and primary Sunday School classes, acted as greeters, took up offering, sang special music, counted people and offering as Sunday School director, and engineered the sound booth.  One of the best ways to learn is to just do it.  Our hope in Youth Sunday is that when these sweet boys and girls become adults and are asked to serve, they will be more than willing as they will feel confident in doing so, having done so as a child.

First meeting of Gathered: Moms in Prayer.  It had been on my mind since Hudson started school that our school needed a prayer emphasis.  I turned to Moms in Touch, which is now Moms in Prayer, that I remembered from when I taught school.  After some research, prayer, talking with a few other moms, and getting permission from the Principal - Gathered: Moms in Prayer began.  I named it Gathered in honor of the scripture M that says "where two or three are gathered, so am I." Our first meeting was on a Wednesday afternoon, about an hour before dismissal.  We had four ladies, including myself.  I'm super excited to see where the Lord takes this ministry. 

Oneida Baptist Institute is a private school in south-eastern Kentucky that is a part of the ministry of Kentucky Baptists.  Their president was the speaker and choir the special music at our homecoming in November.  At that time, their president and James exchanged information and James was asked to speak in their chapel.  James spoke from 2 Kings, the story of Namaan and the little servant girl who led him to Elijah for not only healing of his leprosy, but of his pride as well.  One of our church members, Dwight, joined us on the drive there and back.

It's not often that Christian concerts come to eastern KY.  When we heard that Casting Crowns was coming, we jumped at organizing a group to attend.  Our church had 20 to go!  (Disclaimer, 5 of them actually attend a different church though they live near our community.)  It was a wonderful time of worship.  For three of our group, it was their first concert ever!


James had the blessing of baptizing 4 men during April.  Technically 2 men and 2 boys.  It was the first time James had baptized a male - all of those he baptized while in MO were female.  The 2 men are both new husbands and are starting their marriages out in obedience to Jesus, which is such a blessing.  The two sweet boys both come from a Christian family so it wasn't a surprise that they professed faith at a young age.  It is exciting to think that they have their whole lives to serve Jesus!

April 2017

We had a new ladies' Bible Study begin in April.  A group of 7 ladies signed up to study True Womanhood 101.  We're almost finished, which makes me sad. 

Back when we started at MBC, I was told that our church desperately needed a church directory. 
Fast forward to the beginning of April and LifeTouch came to take photos to create a church directory for us.  Now, I could have easily done a church directory on Microsoft Word or Excel.  But we used the portrait event as a community outreach.  We had 33 families photographed, 1 of whom attend another church, and 12 of whom are unchurched.  Simply getting an unchurched family in the doors of the church where we can be friendly and kind to them was a big win!  The photos were quickly delivered (each family photographed received a complimentary 8x10) and now we wait for the directory proof!

The Saturday before Easter, we held an event just for the kids at church.  It was aptly named, One Day Youth Event. Haha!  It was basically a crash-course in what it means to be a Christian.  We had worship, three bible studies focusing on bible study, obedience, and the gospel, a prayer walk/scavenger hunt, lunch, and an escape room!  7 children attended.  I had hoped for 12, but was glad with our 7.   The day couldn't have been more perfect - the kids got along, there was a spirit of peace at the event, and everyone said they want to do another one.

Easter came - Jesus is alive!  We had a good-size group of about 80 at church.  We had an egg hunt afterwards which was enjoyable for everyone.

On a whim, we scheduled a Family Movie Night.  4 families, 12 people total came to enjoy the faith-based film, The Lost Medallion, and popcorn.  It's something we plan to do again, especially in the winter.

One of our church members had felt the Lord lead her to organize a Free Yard Sale at church. Church members donated clothing, books, toys, furnishings, etc... to be given away to anyone who wanted/needed them.  We held it on Saturday the 22nd of April which was a good date as the community center across the road was giving food away.  However, it was raining cats and dogs!  So icky outside.  But the Lord blessed and we had 27 people walk through the yard sale, only 4 of whom are currently in church.   Yay for prospets!

That following Sunday, we had a church potluck dinner after morning worship service.  Hotdogs and Hamburgers were grilled outside and church members brought many sides and desserts to share.

After the church potluck, we had a Sunday School Teacher brainstorming session.  Our Sunday School program is not strong.  Less than half who attend on Sunday morning worship attend Sunday School.  This meeting was to brainstorm ideas on how to boost growth - both numerical and spiritual. 

Second meeting of Gathered also occurred in April.  We had four again, but it was a completely different group of ladies (other than myself, of course).  We are now breaking until June where we hope to continue our Gathered prayer meetings at a local park so kids can play while mamas pray.

May 2017

Mothers' Day is always a bittersweet day during May.  So many grieve the loss of their mother or their motherhood.  But our church did a wonderful job at being sensitive to all women, emphasizing the ability of all women to be a spiritual mother to someone.

May marked the end of school for our community. H graduated preschool and is now a kindergartener!  Eek!  Two of our kids graduated 8th grade.  It's always fun to go to these events.

MOVE stands for Monthly Outreach Visitation (and) Evangelism.  James felt that after 8 months here, it was time to intentionally mobilize the church into the community.  Since February, on Wednesdays nights, James has been teaching about preparing and sharing your salvation testimony, how to share a gospel tract, and other outreach practicalities.  Our focus for our first MOVE was to publicize VBS coming up the first week of June.  To be honest, we had a super low turn out.  Only our family and one other person.  That was quite disappointing, but we have no where to go but up from there!  We are praying it was scheduling conflicts and not apathy that kept people home.

Back in February, we had our first Girls' Day Out where we studied the book of Ruth and ate at a local cafĂ©.  This time, we headed to Huntington Mall to do a modesty scavenger hunt and eat at Olive Garden! 

Whew, it's been a busy spring. And the best part of all this busyness is that the community is starting to take notice.  One day at school, while picking up H, a teacher stopped me in the hallway.  I knew her face, but not her name.  She stopped me to say, "you guys are doing a great job!"  I was confused.  She went on to say how she keeps hearing about all the things our church is doing lately.  Then she hugged me and ran off after her little class.  That was super encouraging to know that someone is noticing what we're up to. :)

*New believers from this past quarter
*At our One Day Youth Event, I had 2 girls express that she felt ready to follow Jesus.  We are working slowly with them since they are young, but they are learning and growing.
*A spring full of lots of serving Jesus!

Prayer Requests:
*Summer plans: VBS, LoveLoud, Mini-Mission Trip to Love Packages, Camp, etc...
* So many lost and hurting in our community: TO, R&MC, B&CD, JLL, SN, JF, etc...
* James as he continues to lead and share the gospel in the community
* Next MOVE (June 17th) that more people will participate