Monday, October 31, 2011

Shining Light on Darkness

"Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil."  Ephesians 5:15-16
This morning my dear friend Tanya shared with me a link to a blog (you can read it here) after a recent conversation we shared on the topic of Halloween. As mentioned in the blog, this is often such a touchy topic for Christians. I think this blog author hit the nail on the head when she shared that "We respect however the Lord leads each family individually." I grew up where as a family we never celebrated Halloween. It was considered an evil holiday so we shut our lights off and either went out for the night or stayed inside hoping to not have to deal with eggs in the morning. When Caleb was born, I felt led to not dress up, but to hand out candy, usually with a tract. However, once I moved down South and discovered that many Christians celebrated this holiday, I was surprised. I felt led to "try" it out. This was during the time where I was "removing the spiritual pole I had up my bottom" as I so often say, and I thought this may be a part of that process. For this season, God was truly working on my heart and making His Word alive to me. His law was becoming something I wanted because of my love for Him instead of a list of rules I was taught to follow. However, as Halloween approached this year, I examined the few years previous. After this day for the past 2-3 years, I always felt kind of "sick" - no peace... left wondering if what I did was right. So this year I decided to go back to my old way... no costumes, but handing out candy to be a light to those around me. I don't want to just do what I was brought up to do or to do what all my friends are doing. I want to bring glory to God! I wasn't sure how to accomplish this and that is where this blog was so great! It gave some practical ideas.

The blog also shared an article that John MacArthur taught on 10-31-09 (click here). In the part of MacArthur's sermon titled "The Christian Response to Halloween", he says this:  "Ultimately, Christian participation in Halloween is a matter of conscience before God. Whatever level of Halloween participation you choose, you must honor God by keeping yourself separate from the world and by showing mercy to those who are perishing. Halloween provides the Christian with the opportunity to accomplish both of those things in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It's a message that is holy, set apart from the world; it's a message that is the very mercy of a forgiving God. What better time of the year is there to share such a message than Halloween?"

So this is how we are doing Halloween this year...

The first thing I am doing is praying. I want to ask the Lord how I can be the best light to those around me for that exact day in history. It may mean staying home; it may mean going to a party dressed up. The key is, just as any other day, asking Him for His will for me and my family for that day.

Second, we are not celebrating... we are shining. I understand that most holidays are in place to celebrate something. The holidays I celebrate revolve around my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - His birthday (Christmas), His resurrection (Easter), His provision (Thanksgiving), etc. Halloween represents evil, so the Rainwaters will not celebrate. We will, however, shine! I have turned on all lights in our house as a symbol. We are shining our light before men so that they may praise God too!
"The light of the righteous shines brightly, but the lamp of the wicked is snuffed out."  Proverbs 13:9
"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." Matthew 5:16

Third, we are playing a worship music from a CD player next to our front door.
 "All the nations you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; they will bring glory to your name."  Psalm 86:9 

Fourth, we have great candy. I had originally bought these little boxes of Nerds. But after reading the other blog, we quickly ran to  Costco and got full size bars of the best... Snickers, Milk Way, Twix, Skittles, etc. We want to be generous
"One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.  A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed." Prov 11:24-25

Fifth, the gospel part. I am a bit disappointed I got this blog on Halloween because I would have loved to add this, but I am planning ahead for next year. I am praying the Lord shows me how best we can share His story of redemption with our community... a tract, a sticker, a Bible, a printout. Whatever it may be, I would love to plant the seed.
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." John 3:16

Tonight at dinner, as Mark blessed the food, he added on to his prayer that as people approached our house they would feel peace and see the Light. We are doing what we feel God is calling our family to do and trusting Him for the rest.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not a Blur

Over the past few months several friends and family members have made such encouraging comments like "seems like you have it all together with 3." First, thank you! It makes me smile to think I don't always look like the mess I feel I am. But secondly, here's the real scoop.

From the moment I found out I was unexpectedly expecting my third munchkin, I knew for certain God had a sense of humor. I, Christie R. Rainwater, am organized. I know it, most around me know it, God knows it... in fact, He made me that way. However, God also knows that I do much better depending on Him than when I just do things my way. So, I am confident that despite the fact that my precious baby girl was not planned, God knew she was best for me at this specific time... and knew He would get a good laugh due to me along the way. Throughout the entire pregnancy I knew it would have to be all God because I, Christie R. Rainwater, could not handle three children... specifically when two of the three were only 17 months apart.

So on August 1, 2011 my beautiful, sweet Lil Miss Haley joined our family. Within days... make that hours... of coming home from the hospital, I was a mess. Mrs. Organized was suddenly in chaos. I had only two hands and three kids, and it was just not working. As time started to pass...

(Side note: I love the scriptures in the Bible that start, "And it came to pass..." It's an awesome verse to hold onto when you're in a tough spot. It will pass. It will be okay. God's Word says it. Trust it)

...things got better and better, easier and easier. I went from have a few good hours a day to actually one good day out the week. Suddenly, the good days were outnumbering the bad days. I was so thankful. However, during that time, I talked to lots of Mom's that had children close in age. While they and their children obviously survived, they all shared a common word for the memories of the younger years: "Blur." After hearing it time and time again I became a bit discouraged. I didn't want anything good in my life to be a blur... and my kids were not just good, they were awesome! So I started to pray. On September 28, 2011 God used Caleb to remind me of His Word -
"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Phil 4:13
(If you want to read the whole story, click here.) Since then I have thought this verse, said this verse, held this verse, and prayed this verse. I can honestly say that the Lord has made it so true in my life. I am not living a blur. Over the past month I have truly enjoyed almost every minute with my children. It has been amazing! It is a work of my wonderful Heavenly Father and an answer to prayer.

Tonight I got another one of those comments that it seems like I have it all together from my sweet cousin-in-law Amanda (love her!). I went to respond with something like, "Seems' is the key word," but I stopped and knew in my heart I should probably share more than that. Mrs Organized Christie really doesn't have it together, but Christ who is working in and through her sure does. There are still moments of frazzle, frustration, doubt, and even tears, but I can honestly say that when you live your life depending on God's strength, He can be perfect in those weak moments.

I give credit to those Moms who are doing it without God... I cannot imagine all the effort that must be put forth and all the knowledge they must try to attain to know what is best for each of their children. God's Word says His burden is light, and I can see that in my parenting when I choose to depend... make that surrender fully to Him. He gives me strength; He gives me wisdom; He guides me. He's got it together!

PS A funny extra:
Recently I was in the church's nursery picking up Haley and someone commented what a good baby she is. Out of my three, she has always been my "high maintenance" baby... but what else should I expect from a girl, right? I think a lot of that has to do with her acid reflux. After this comment, another person said, "That's cause Christie prays for her all the time." I responded, "That and Prilosec! ...a little bit of Prilosec and a lot of Jesus."  ;-)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Brown Bananas

2 Timothy 2:22(ESV)

"So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart."

This morning I was up before my sweet babes and jumped into my SEED Pack 2 of our Thursday Morning group. I tore apart my verse using my 5 P's of Bible Study.- 2 Timothy 2:22-26. My paraphrase was ridiculously long; I pulled out more spiritual principles than ever before, and I just didn't know where to go with all this new light and application. My prayer and moment to listen for the Lord's whisper was cut short by a call for Momma coming over the baby monitor.

Throughout the day these verses kept coming to mind... I would meditate on specific parts which all come together so nicely in the verses yet have so many different challenges. The very first verse is the one I thought of mostly though. "Flee youthful passions..." What were those child and teenage desires I had? Was I now pursuing "righteousness, faith, love and peace" instead? One part I was confident of was that I wasn't doing this alone. I am so thankful I am surrounded by my Seacoast Sisters who are also calling on the Lord. Oh, and God - heart check... is it a "pure heart" in there? So much in such a short verse (never mind the other verses).

Late afternoon I noticed 3 extremely brown bananas on my speckled counter top. I love finding those because it gives me great reason to return to my first love in the kitchen - baking. I learned this art form as a preteen from my sweet Aunt Milissa. Trying to keep a healthy household doesn't allow me to do this as often as I would like to, but I sure do love it when the flour comes out. And so I began making some Banana Nut Muffins (recipe). You see, it's the super brown bananas that make the sweetest and best baked banana goods. However, these are the same banana's we avoid to snack on at first glance. That exterior seems so important, when in fact it is what is tossed away.

One of my youthful passions was my appearance. I consistently kept a compact at hand. I dressed in hopes someone would notice. Someone did and soon we were married. However, I soon discovered that someone had an addiction to porn. I'm not talking an occasional peek... I'm talking addiction. Appearance became an even bigger passion for me... I tried to keep up and he pressured me to as well. But I eventually realized that no matter how small my waist was or how big my chest was I could not compete with airbrushed models. Porn led to cheating and devoured my marriage, but God is good, all the time. My pursuit changed. I sought hard after God. That changed me! In fact, the day I met my sweet husband Mark I didn't have a drop of makeup on. After what I faced the first time around I knew this time I wanted someone who wanted me... all of me... outside and INSIDE!

Our First Official Date
So here I am, 30 something, 3 kids later, and I find myself suddenly heading back to that youthful passion. This weekend someone at church complimented me by saying that I looked great and lost my "baby weight." Instead of saying "thank you" I went off on how I may have lost Haley's weight, but I am still carrying around Daniel's baby weight. Heavens! Can I have a do over? Our body's are a temple and we must respect that; however, today the Lord reminded ME of where my pursuit needs to be - righteousness, faith, love, and peace. That's inside! When I abide in Him and ripen, my inside will be so sweet... much like that banana. That peel will one day be thrown away and what is inside is what will count.

Holiday Shopping Open House

Click the flyer to enlarge it. :-) 

Come and join the fun!!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Why Missional Moms ROCK!

This year Seacoast Women's Ministry revamped a few things including a new ministry called "Missional Moms." I love this ministry! It's so simple... Moms, doing life, but with purpose. As a Mom of three I can easily watch the days fly by, but I don't want them to be a blur. I want to enjoy every moment and be purposeful in my living.

Fridays is food shopping day for the Rainwaters. Sometime in the late morning you can find me pushing a gray shopping cart around the commissary with a red headed toddler in the front of it (that would be Daniel) and a sweet baby girl in a Bjorn pouch (that would be Haley). We're usually in and out in less than an hour, surfing mostly the perimeter of the store where the healthy food is and occasionally popping down an aisle for some essentials. Another stop we make is the deli counter, usually to grab some turkey or chicken and cheese. I start there with an order and end there to pick it up.

This past Friday, my Mom wanted some baby time so she was actually watching my kiddos while I accomplished this weekly task. As I went to pick up my deli meats at the end of my trip, I noticed that only 2 of the 3 things I ordered were at the pick up counter. I should know by now that when there's a hold up, it's probably a God appointment. I asked the kind worker about it and she went off to grab what I needed. As she did, I noticed a young Momma standing just feet from me. She had two babies in her cart. One was about late twos or early threes and the other, an adorable boy about a year and a half who happened to be sitting on her loaf of bread. Despite the fact that it was squished like a pancake I politely said, "Ma'am, just want to tell you that your son is sitting on your bread." She gasped and the frazzled look that I personally know oh so well appeared on her face. She responded that it was "just one of those days." I felt the Lord prompting me to take the conversation further. In the past I probably would have given her the salvation message and pushed a prayer, but over the past year the Lord has revealed to me that it's not all about "that prayer" as I have always thought it was. The prayer is just a beginning. The Lord wants disciples and has commissioned me to make them. That is not something that happens in a deli line. Thankful for this new ministry of Missional Moms, I saw it as a tool to possibly begin that relationship, and so I invited her to our next playdate.

So often I have heard people pray the prayer of salvation, but that was actually the end of their relationship with Christ. It needs to be the beginning. Going to church does not make one a heaven-bound Christian, but meeting with others that have the same goal of becoming truly devoted Christ followers and asking them to hold you accountable to what God is speaking to you sure does help! So thankful for all the Missional Moms God has put in my life.

P.S. Her name is Lauren... She is a military wife with two little ones and not much help. Say a prayer for her. :-)