Monday, August 26, 2013

I spy God at school...I really do!

Last week I began to journal my prayers for my kids' schools.  I firmly believe that this is one of my primary responsibilities this year!  I am determined to obey God and do this consistently.  With the privilege of being connected to three schools, I need to write down some things or my 40 something year old brain will self destruct.  Plus, when I write things down, I can go back and see how God has answered and is answering.  I spy Him at work!  It's been amazing to see Him working this week as I've prayed some very specific things for my kids' schools and teachers.

Last week I spent much time asking God to make the believing teachers at Justin's high school bold in their visible spiritual walk.  I asked God to help these Christians even use the name of Jesus Christ.  I even asked that the kids would notice the difference in these teachers. I've been asking for 2 years now that God would bring a few more kids to our church from Justin's school.  For those of you unfamiliar with our little part of the world, we have three high schools in Lee's Summit.  Justin attends Lee's Summit West.  Though we have an amazing group of students at First Baptist, we only have a few kids from LSW.

I undoubtedly saw God at work in teacher interactions and emails and hearing Justin talk.  I also almost scared a couple of kids to death at church yesterday when I was able to welcome 2 new LSW kids who were visiting!  God is working!

I also asked God to show me some teachers at the middle school who were passionate followers of Christ, and He used my good friend, Suzanne, to give me some names of believers there.  Thank You, Lord, for them!  Now I can pray for them by name!

Sarah joyously came home two days last week talking about Noah's ark after I know God used a sweet teacher to connect a biblical reminder of God's faithfulness to her class.  I'm so thankful God is pulling back the curtain just a little for me and showing me that He reigns...even in school!  I'm convinced that He's always working, but I see it more clearly when I'm engaged through prayer!

I just read the best quote by Priscilla Shirer in her Bible study on Gideon that is shaping my prayers this week.  Get this:

"...You and I, as a part of His church, have been commissioned to rise up in our own way to serve His purposes in our generation...God has deliberately positioned each of us to be His representative, beckoning our ailing culture to Him - one person at a time...No matter what God's plan looks like in our lives, His hand is on us to wage war against the enemy within our spheres of influence."

So I'm praying for every Christian teacher at LSW, SLMS, and LFE to specifically see their "job" as their CALLING!  I'm praying they absolutely cannot get out from under the weight of it!  May they teach, care, nurture, discipline, organize, lecture, conduct, and encourage with the understanding that God empowers them to point students and families toward THE ONE who holds it all together so mercifully.  I'm also asking that those teachers will encourage my own kids to live out their faith boldly in their school.  I need some teachers that Justin really respects to show Him bold faith, and hold him to it!

I'm also asking for some miracles in teachers's families this week, this year!  Heal children, heal marriages, Lord!  Orchestrate circumstances so that nonbelieving students and coworkers ask questions that lead to testimonies of Your faithfulness!

I spy God at work in my schools!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Unbalanced and not afraid to admit it!

I have a love/hate relationship with Fridays. Fridays are great because Blake takes the day off.  For the first time in 5 years, we have some time with just the two of us.  We both manage the morning craziness so that we can get a little extra sleep, so what's not to love?  Fridays are also great because I typically get to spend a little time with my teenage girls from church, Hannah and Lilly.  We try to meet around 3pm to talk about God and have a little ice cream or Sonic drinks.  Friday nights are always fun as we can have a family dinner, sometimes even at a restaurant!  I can hardly wait for high school football season so that we can head out to LSW and cheer on those mighty Titans! (By the way, I know what the rest of my LS friends say, but the Titans are THE BEST team in LS!)

But here's the deal: all the fun of Friday means that Saturday will be a day full of catching up!

I have a confession, one that's not at all a surprise for those who really know me.  I am a person of zero balance!  I'm either one way, or I'm the complete OTHER way...all the time!  Seriously!  I'm either on a completely OCD kick about something, or I couldn't care less.  For example, when I'm trying really hard to be healthy and drop a few pounds, I write down every single calorie I take in on my phone app.  But give me about 2 weeks of that and I'm tossing it all to the wind and eating twinkies and Dr. Pepper for lunch.  I'm either engrossed in Bible study, and I mean something like Daniel or Revelation, or I'm barely even reading Blake's daily devotions that are emailed to me.  I'm either freaking out over the tiniest bit of dust, or you can't even see the floor next to my bed because I've accumulated stacks of books and papers and clothes I decided didn't look right at the last minute.

So Fridays are very tempting to me.

Fridays I usually revert to the "do nothing" side of my personality.  This make Saturday no fun for anyone!

Today, because I slept late and then had several ministry appointments, I didn't make the bed.  I didn't unload the dishwasher while Sarah was eating breakfast like I would normally.  That means I still have breakfast dishes in the sink.  I didn't stay on top of the kids to tidy their rooms this morning.  I didn't dust or clean windows, I didn't lay out anything for dinner, and I didn't even sweep the kitchen.  I talked on the phone to a dear friend, played with a sweet little boy at our church's teen mom's daycare, and I had lunch with my husband.  It was great, but tomorrow will kick my tail.

When the kids get home in a minute I will still be doing nothing, and I'll probably give them the afternoon and evening off as well. We won't do homework. We will likely watch DVR episodes of Duck Dynasty. Sarah and I will eventually do our nails whil finishing up the night with a few episodes of Say Yes to the Dress. It's an exciting life we lead!

Tomorrow I will wake up totally freaked out about how messy the house is and the axis will again tilt.

My poor family.

I'm not saying that my way of life is healthy.

However, I am grateful for days like today.  We all need days like today.  Fridays are my Sabbath days...which for some might be Sundays but we are a pastor's family.  Sundays are NOT Sabbath days for us.  I love Sundays, but we can't relax on Sundays.  Fridays were made for relaxing at the McKinney house.  Fridays are also great days to realize that if I let down my guard, God will still handle the world.  I'm not necessary.  Only He is necessary.

So here's to Friday Sabbaths!  I'll deal with the mess tomorrow and be thankful that I have a house to have to clean.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens...

I love love love that movie!  Sound of Music is just classic!  And I love the idea Maria has when the children are frightened.  You remember when they all end up in her room because they were afraid, right?  What did she tell them?

"I simply remember my favorite things, and then I don't feel so bad."  You know you want to sing it with me!  I hope it's rolling around in your head for days...

I'm not currently frightened or terribly stressed, but I was thinking, this morning, about how my life is small in terms of things I read and watch and listen to.  I thought maybe I'd share a few of my current favorites and hoped that many of you would share some of yours with me.

My current favorite book is my bible study book, Gideon, by Priscilla Shirer. I've just started this study even though it came out last spring.  It just about killed me to wait, especially since I had the opportunity to hear Priscilla talk about it right before it came out.  Finally, everyone is in school and I'm preparing to lead the study at my church soon so I've jumped in to prepare.  It's already the best bible study I've ever done!!  Seriously, I mean that!  I know I say that about every bible study, but this time I really mean it!  So far, I've learned so much about Israel's tendency to half hardheartedly obey God, or totally disobey Him, only to find themselves in dire straits yet again.  I've realized my own tendencies to obey just part of what He's called me to, but expect Him to provide and protect me as if I was being completely obedient.  Of course, as he did with Gideon, He always is faithful to draw me back to Himself, but I must suffer consequences.  Oh how I want to be completely obedient, because He knows what's best for me!  If you are looking for a bible study you can end your search right here!  Get it.

My current favorite music is Matt Redman's album, 10,000 Reasons.  Honestly, I can't even pick a favorite song on the album because it's all just so great! I'm swept into worship, even here at home, when I listen to it.  I cleaned two bathrooms this morning while listening to it and was actually a little sad when I was done. (OK, maybe not sad, but looking for another reason to keep listening rather than work on the computer.  I can't write and listen to music with words at the same time...crazy I guess.  I was never the kid who could study with music going on...I digress!)  Last week, while in Nashville, I was introduced to the video for Never Once and can't stop singing it.  You'll be blessed by this:

My favorite food right now is this:
Yep, I'm THAT mom!  We don't eat clean or paleo or even homemade.  I throw these babies in the lunch boxes in the morning, and they love them!  I even took one to work myself last night.  Oh sure, we'll all be tired of them in two weeks, but for now I love them.  Please don't judge.

My favorite tool at home these days is my crockpot!  I'm making everything from spaghetti to tacos to alfredo in it!  And I have three crockpots so sometimes I'm making side dishes and desserts or even breakfasts in them.  I haven't turned on an oven in a week.  Again, please don't judge!

My favorite television show is Duck Dynasty.  Who am I kidding?  That's all I've been watching.  I'm not judging anyone else, but I simply cannot find much on TV these days that isn't bad for me.  I do occasionally watch the Food Network but then I'm tempted to eat so I try to stay away from that too.  Duck Dynasty does hit a little close to home for me since I'm basically from south Arkansas (which is minutes from North Louisiana) but I'm learning to embrace it!  I'm convinced I'm related to the Robertson clan.  Si is my Uncle Edmond!  If you knew him, you see it too, don't you??

My favorite time of the day is picking up the kids.  I get an hour or so with just the boys each day, and that hasn't happened since Sarah was born!  We've found another favorite place together after I pick them up...the shaved ice barn!  Then I love sitting in carpool at the elementary school and watching that precious tiny little Sarah bound out of the doors and to the car!  Our conversations on the way home are full of details...things I never got from the boys!  Girls totally rock...but so do teenage boys!

Well, this was the most random post ever, but it was fun for me!  What are some of your favorite things?  I wish we were like Oprah and could just give them to each other!  Look under your chair...oh wait, that's just the dust bunny I should be sweeping!  Sweeping is NOT one of my favorite things!

Monday, August 19, 2013

I spy God at school...

Yes, school has started!!  For the first time in 7 years, all my children went to school this morning and I came home...ALONE!  I have not done that since Caleb was in kindergarten, and honestly it's a bit difficult to get used to.  Don't get me wrong, I'll get used to it, but for today it was weird.

At the very end of last school year God began to prick my heart about my role this year.  As most of you know, I have kids in 3 different schools.  As I contemplated that reality about 4 months ago, I was a bit overwhelmed and scared.  I was a little scared that people would think we were dumb for having our kids so far apart in ages.  (Again, that is a blog for another day...but one day you seriously have to hear WHY we have kids whose ages range almost 11 years.  It's a total God thing!)  I was really nervous that I'd never be able to keep up with all three of their schedules.  (I couldn't do that last year, so I'm not sure why I even thought it could be different this year!) I knew I couldn't be as involved with each of them and their respective schools as I would like to be.  I knew that the expectations of involvement would be different for each school, but I always want to know what's going on and be involved.  (We all know that being involved helps you know their friends, their teachers, and their reputations!)   

Then God spoke to me.

I don't say that out loud often.  I really hate it when people blame God for something that "He spoke" when it's obvious that one of two things is probably the case.  Either, they had what they thought was a great idea and wanted to lend some credibility to it, so they are lying.  Or maybe they misheard God.  I do both of those things far too often so I try really hard not to make it obvious by saying, "God spoke to me..."  I figure if God wants you to know it then He'll speak it to you too.  He can speak for Himself, and you don't need me to tell you what He says to you.  

But this time I'm going to say it because I want to record it for myself to read later.  I know, beyond any shadow of doubt, that God spoke to me that my role this year is to pray for 3 schools.

This is the only year I will have that burden, that responsibility, that privilege.  

I'm in!

I originally wanted to include as many other moms in this as possible.  I talked to Blake about starting a school prayer group at church or in my neighborhood.  I could dream big things for this...and then He spoke again.  

"Just pray for these 3 schools.  Don't try to turn this into a movement.  Just pray and watch Me move."

OK, I heard it and I'm in.  In fact, it's taken me almost 4 months to even write this blog.  I don't mean to do this for anyone but Him.  I don't want to brag or motivate or cajole anyone to join me.  I'm writing this down because I need to have a record of how He moves this year in these schools.  I need to have a record of how He moves in me.

I recently told a bunch of amazingly Godly women that prayer is an invitation to play I spy with God!  You might remember that I wrote, not too long ago, a post about how we do two things in our car with Sarah.  We always pray as we are pulling out of the garage, and we always play "I spy" on car trips to pass the time.  She recently got those two things mixed up and started a prayer with "I spy with my little eye..."  It occurred to me right then and there that, although He is working even if I don't pray, I will see His movement when I am praying.  I even told those amazing women last week to take note of their prayers and then also write down when they see Him move regarding those specific prayers.  So I'm writing this down...and my real friends know I don't use paper to do anything anymore, so I'm blogging it!  Follow me or don't, but this is for me.  Join me or not, but every Monday I will write down what I'm praying for these 3 schools and how I'm seeing Him move.  And make no mistake...He will move! He is moving!

So here goes:
This is Lee's Summit West High School and my oldest son, Justin, is a sophomore here.  I'm praying for the teachers I know who are Christians to be bold enough to live out there faith and use the name of Jesus in their work!  Justin is so blessed to have several teachers who I know are followers of Christ.  I'm praying they will sense God's presence so very near them this week that they are astonished.  And I'm praying that students will notice and ask why they are so patient, loving, kind, truly caring, and have high expectations.

This is Summit Lakes Middle School and my middle child, Caleb, is an eighth grader here.  I don't know any teachers very well here, and I honestly don't know who follows Christ.  I'm praying God will show me which teachers are Jesus followers at SLMS.  I'm praying for Caleb's teachers specifically to experience something this week at school that points them to God and His love for them.

This is our beloved Longview Farm Elementary.  (And yes it is this magical place that is sweet and quaint and neighborly and fairytale- like.)  I know several women and men at this school who follow Christ passionately, and I'm so thankful for them!  This week I'm praying that they catch the attention of their coworkers because they live out their faith unapologetically in a gracious and beautiful way.  I pray they will find boldness and encouragement in each other.  I pray that they will know His very presence so profoundly in their own families and situations.  

These requests will be a constant offering from my lips this week.  I invite you to pray for your kids' schools or even your grandkids' schools if He calls you to it.  I am fully aware that schools can be homes and private schools as well...but they would also love your prayers!  I can't wait to see Him move and work in me and in these precious schools.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A big week for us McKinney's coming up!

The past few weeks have flown by far too quickly. Since returning home from the beach we've had high school band camp, high school chamber choir retreat, about a million sleepovers, and lots of shopping for school. I started working in our preschool worship time on Sundays, and we hosted a ton of youth at our house for a huge party. I should be ready for school to start so that we can slip into a routine, but honestly I could cry just thinking about how crazy next week is going to be! (Those of you who really know me are not surprised at the thought of me crying, are you? One day I will blog about how I once cried while passing out GA badges years ago.)

Monday is Meet Your Teacher Night for Sarah! We are thankful for her new teacher, Amy Mautino, but I'm seriously nauseous about her going to kindergarten! Didn't we just learn about her! Wasn't she just born? I haven't had enough time with her, and I'm not ready for her to go. I cannot lie, I may be praying for Christ's return more than ever, like maybe tomorrow!!

I've been given some really fun and spiritually challenging opportunities next week. On Tuesday I get to appear on LifeWay's hostcast for all the churches who are hosting the Living Proof Live with Beth Moore simulcast. I've been asked to discuss how sites can best prepare to handle the invitation during the event. This means that I get to Skype with my boss and ministry mentor, Mickey McCloud. She will be in the studio in Nashville and I'll be at my desk (aka kitchen table) with my laptop and webcam. It's really no big deal and Mrs. Beth won't be fact she'll never even see it...but it's just my privilege to get to be a part of preparing women to pray with those who respond after God speaks truth to us on September 14 through Mrs. Beth. As privileged as I am, I'll admit I'm fairly nervous. I have no idea what to wear, and yes I'm that shallow. I guess I would be a bit bummed if that didn't happen, well but not if Jesus returned...right?

Then school starts on Wednesday! I literally have kids in three different schools! Justin will be a sophomore at Lee's Summit West. Caleb will be in the 8th grade at Summit Lakes Middle. Sarah will be in kindergarten at Longview Farm Elementary. Blake will drive the boys to school at 7am, and then we will take Sarah at 9am. After dropping her off in her class, we will attend the "Welcome to the Farm" meeting with all the other kindergarten parents. I have dreaded this day since the moment I found out I was pregnant (which is a blog post all by itself!!!). Blake and I can hardly wait to be THE OLDEST people in that room (sarcasm here!). I'm sure someone will ask if I'm her grandmother. I am literally old enough to be their mom, but I'm praying God just reminds me that perhaps wisdom comes with age. Wait, that's not exactly biblical though... 

Come Lord Jesus, come quickly!

After that meeting I will head to the airport and board a plane to Nashville. I'm getting another unbelievable opportunity to teach some women about prayer at LifeWay Women's 2014 City Coordinators Training. At 4pm on Wednesday, I will get to join my buddies at LifeWay and share how prayer is foundational as teams prepare for women's events in their cities. This doesn't really make me nervous because I ADORE my friends at LifeWay and I strongly believe that God is at work in this time, but I will miss the first day of school reports!

I'll get to spend 3 days in Nashville sharing in different ways and eating great food! (My buddies know how to spoil us at these meetings!) Chuy's, here I come! 

So if He tarries, I'll trust His timing.

Poor Blake will be a single dad during the first 3 days of school. I can't tell you how thankful I am to him for making this week even possible. He's learning to do hair and pick out matching clothes. He's learning to pack lunches and make dinners. Maybe Blake's the one praying for Christ's return the most! 

Happy last weekend of summer! Have some ice cream to celebrate! I just had to include this last picture because I want Blake to know that ice cream for dinner is perfectly acceptable in a pinch!