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I was helping my daughter, Cree, set up her 1st grade class yesterday when she pulled up the above poster to hang up for her kids. When I read it, it struck me that the majority of us, as adults, need to know how to fight fair. There is so much violence and hate in this world and it starts with us as adults. We refuse to listen to anyone who has a different opinion than ours. We refuse to listen to anyone who looks different, dresses differently, lives in a “less than” neighborhood, or works in a lower income job. We have become a society where CLASS places us above or below others and those above refuse to acknowledge those living in a “lower class”. We refuse to admit that we aren’t always right and that compromise does not mean we lose. We, as adults, need to step up and set a better example for our kids. We need to go back to elementary school and learn the rules for fighting fair:

  1. Identify the problem – What is the problem that needs to be solved? Is there an actual problem that needs to be solved? I have found that many of our problems start because of our own attitudes and behaviors. If there is a problem between two people or a group of people, it usually stems from heart issues that at least one person is dealing with. Simple problems such as scheduling conflicts get blown out of proportion when one or both people involved only want things their way and aren’t willing to see the other person’s side of the conflict. Our larger problems in society involve our heart issues (our feelings of entitlement, our biases, our perceptions, our belief that we are right and everyone else is wrong, and our judgmental attitudes towards others). So, what is the problem? Is it something surface level that can be solved with a simple conversation or does it go deeper? Does the problem involve a heart issue in one or all of the people involved? Is there a legitimate problem or is the problem our own attitude?
  2. Focus on the problem – When we have a problem with another person or people, we need to be careful to focus on the problem and not our own anger or our feelings about the other people involved. Each person is approaching a problem from different perspectives and view points, so we need to focus only on the problem at hand.
  3. Attack the problem, not the person – When we approach another person about a problem, we need to remember that we are confronting the problem and not the person. We need to approach the person that we have an issue with from a place of peace. Our focus needs to be on creating peace and not escalating the problem.
  4. Listen with an open mind – When we approach another person with a problem, we are coming with our own opinions, and agenda. We also, have to realize that the other person is approaching the problem with their own opinions, and agenda. We all approach problems focusing on what we want. We all approach problems with a game plan focused on how we can get what we want. We need to approach a problem focused on the best outcome for all involved. We need to listen to what other participants are saying and be open to the underlying emotions. When we approach a problem with a closed mind and a closed heart nothing is accomplished. When we approach a problem with an open mind and an open heart, it allows for compromise and the finding of solutions to all of our problems.
  5. Treat a person’s feelings with respect – We don’t know the underlying emotions or burdens that someone is carrying when we approach them about a problem. We all approach problems from our own perspectives based on our experiences, backgrounds, traditions, and cultures. We need to respect the feelings of the other people involved in the problem. We need to show respect for their perspectives, even if we don’t agree with them. We need to be kind and gentle in our approaching others about a problem. If we approach others from a defensive, aggressive, or disrespectful attitude we will never resolve the problem in a way that benefits all parties involved. If we want peace, we need to come from a place of peace.
  6. Take responsibility for your actions – No one is perfect. We all make mistakes. There are times when a problem arises because of a mistake that we have made or because of something we have done to hurt someone or cause a problem. When that happens we need to come from a place of humility and be willing to take responsibility for our actions and we need to be willing to make amends and work towards a solution to the problems that arise because of our actions. We can’t just bury our heads in the sand when we mess up. We need to be accountable and work for solutions.

 

There are fouls when approaching another person to discuss a problem. These are things that we should NEVER do:

  • Pushing
  • Hitting
  • Threats
  • Sneering
  • Getting Even
  • Blaming
  • Name Calling
  • Not Listening
  • Not Taking Responsibility
  • Making Excuses
  • Bossing
  • Bringing Up The Past
  • Put-Downs

There is so much negativity and anger in society today. There are so many people that feel that their opinion is the only opinion and that their way is the only way. There is always room for compromise. We have a choice. Will we approach the other participants of a problem with a selfish “my way or the high-way” attitude or will we come with a sense of peace and humility? It’s up to us. Do we want peace or do we want a constant state of fear and war? We, as adults need to remember that the examples we set for our kids today, will influence who they become tomorrow. Our kids will determine how our society evolves tomorrow. Will we have kids that live for peace or will we have kids that live for anger and violence? It is up to us, the adults of today.

 

My 2020 Word: Explore

 

According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of explore is: 1. A. to investigate, study, or analyze: look into. B. to become familiar with by testing or experimenting. 2. to travel over (new territory) for adventure or discovery. 3. to examine especially for diagnostic purposes. 4. to make or conduct a systematic search.

The word EXPLORE is a verb (an action word). I have decided that this is my word for 2020. My youngest, Ty, just turned 18. I have been living with Kiowa in Georgia since May (2019), but God has stripped me of some things and maybe that is because He is preparing me for more, now that my kids are grown. Moving to Georgia was definitely God’s will, but I believe that living with Kiowa was a temporary launching pad for something great. This is the year that I step out on my own and start to explore some important concepts, perceptions, traditions, and systems within myself and society as a whole. Some of the ways I will EXPLORE this year are:

  1. Community – I will be doing an internship with Koinonia Farm located in Americus, Georgia. Koinonia Farm was created in 1942 to be a demonstration plot for the Kingdom of God. It was based on the early church of Acts where everyone shared their resources and lived, worked, and worshiped as a community. Acts 2:42-47 42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. The internship starts February 15th and ends May 9th. My goal is to explore what life is like in Christian community. I want to push myself out of my comfort zone and build relationships that are built on the unconditional love of Christ. It’s been easy to build those relationships with my kids, but what does that look like with strangers? What does grace, mercy and love look like with people of different backgrounds, opinions, traditions, and experiences? Am I able to not just accept others for who they are, but to really love others for who they are? Am I able to love others, imperfections and all, the way that Jesus loves me? Am I willing to give up material possessions, some privacy, conveniences, and other ways of life that I am used to? Am I willing to sacrifice for the good of the community? Am I willing to put the well being of the community first? These are all questions I want to explore. I want to push myself to deepen my faith and my relationship with God through community. 
  2. Myself – I am taking time this year to find out who I am. As I peel back the layers of myself, I want to explore who I am underneath the roles I play, I have been a single mom for 19 years. I have been a friend, a family member, an employee, a woman with an anxiety disorder, diabetes and high blood pressure. Who am I underneath all these labels? Do I live my life as a result of these labels? Am I missing out on living an authentic life because I don’t know who I really am? Why do I think the way I do? Have I taken on opinions simply because I grew up that way and nothing has ever challenged my perceptions? Am I willing to open my heart and mind to different ways of thinking? Am I willing to stand up for those things that I really believe in no matter who challenges me? Am I able to define a core set of values and live by those values even in the face of opposition? Will I face challenges with courage or will I run in fear? These questions will be answered this year. I have lived in reaction to life circumstances for 49 years and it is time for me to find out who the real Patti is and start living according to my God-given identity.
  3. God – I have a good relationship with God, but the Christian life is a journey of sanctification. We strive to be like Jesus, not that we will ever arrive at perfection. I will explore God as I explore community and myself. I am looking forward to chapel services at 7:45 Monday – Friday, devotions at noon meals Monday – Friday and evening meals Tuesday – Thursdays, Sunday services mornings and evenings, and the prayer bells ringing at 10:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. daily to remind us all to pause and worship our Savior. I am looking forward to getting away from Netflix and Hulu and focusing on seeing God in the world around me. I look forward to focusing on people and how God wants me to serve others. I am looking forward to digging into the Bible as I live out God’s will in the community around me.

For the first time in my life I will be able to explore who I am and who I am in Christ. I am nervous about this next phase of my life. I am letting go of my kids, who have been my security blankets for 26 years. I am finding the faith to depend only on a God who will never leave me nor forsake me. This year will be an adventure and I am ready. I will keep you updated as the year and internship progresses. I visit Koinonia farm February 1st – 8th and then start the internship on the 15th. It isn’t always easy when God strips you of everything. It forces you to depend solely on Him. It can leave you feeling helpless, overwhelmed and desperate. Ultimately, it brings you to this place of complete trust and peace, knowing that there are times when there is nothing you can do but trust God. If you give in and walk in His will you will begin to see that everything you thought was impossible begins to fall into place effortlessly. Being stripped of everything isn’t always a bad thing. Sometimes, it is God’s way of emptying us to fill us with so much more of His blessing and love. Don’t be afraid of the emptying. Be ready for the re-filling.

Life On Mission: Update

 

Life has been at a slower pace since my car broke down in October. I have had time to reflect on what I want to do and more importantly, what God wants me to do. There are times in our lives when we are so sure that God is leading us one way, only to find out we have misread the directions. We have good intentions to obey, but we simply get our wires crossed and head in the wrong direction. We are human. We make well-intentioned mistakes and the Holy Spirit has to re-direct us.

I felt a call to full-time ministry when I was 20. I wanted to be a nun. I was not Catholic. I never became Catholic. I moved to Indiana when I was 22 and I met my now ex-husband a few days after I arrived. I took a path and it led me to divorce and to becoming a single mom of 5 awesome kids. Do I regret that path? Not at all. I have struggled, but the Holy Spirit has discipled me in that time. I have grown closer to my Lord and Savior in that time. It was during that time that God pulled me back to my original calling.

I was divorced in 2000. It was in 2006 when God started to pull me back to Him. The Holy Spirit really transformed my heart in that time. In 2010 I read an article in a Christian magazine about Shane Claiborne and New Monasticism. I was so excited! I read and re-read the article. I started to look up intentional communities. I felt a flicker of that call that had been dormant for almost 20 years. I found so many Christian communities that were based on the church of Acts. I researched in those first couple of years and found Koinonia Farm. I reviewed their website over and over and sent my first email to them in September of 2014. Nothing happened, but I continued to feel called to living in Christian community as the first Christians did and I emailed the executive director of Koinonia Farm in September of 2016. We exchanged a handful of emails at that time and started the conversation about my joining the community. There were logistics that were challenging and things I may not have been ready to let go at that time. Fast forward to The Spring of 2018. Kiowa was supposed to get stationed in Northern California in April of 2018, but was stationed instead in Southern Georgia (1 hour and 45 minutes from Koinonia Farm!) She invited me to move from Indiana to live with her and so I moved in this past May. In the back of my mind I think I was aware that Koinonia was within driving distance now, but I wasn’t fully conscience of it. Maybe I wasn’t ready yet. When my car broke down and I felt completely helpless, I started praying for God to tell me what to do. I started seeing posts from Koinonia Farm on my Facebook feed. I started getting emails from their online store. Not unusual since they were going into their busiest time of the year, the Holiday season. But, I really became aware of how close they were now and I was strangely aware that there was no reason why I couldn’t make this happen now. I own very little. My personal expenses are few. My kids are grown and have lives of their own. I nervously emailed the executive director, who remembered me and was willing to continue our conversation. I am now registered to do an internship at Koinonia Farm from February to May as the next step in our conversation to joining the community. I have been called to community for 29 years. I took a detour, but God is fulfilling that call as I approach 50 years old. I may not have been ready before to give up everything and put Jesus first, but I am ready now. I have written that I can’t do any more secular jobs. My heart is in community, serving God and serving others. I am a modern day Anna;

Luke 2:36-38

36 There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, 37 and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. 38 Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.

I am amazed at how God strings events and circumstances together so bring about His will and our purpose. It may take years for that purpose to be realized, but God is working behind the scenes to accomplish what He set out to do. Never give up hope! Keep growing in God and keep preparing yourself for the fulfillment of that God-given purpose. It will happen. It may take 29 years, but it will happen in just the right time.

 

 

 

As the time to make my annual Associate commitment rolled around I was debating on whether I wanted to continue as an Associate with the Sisters of Providence. This hesitation had only to do with the fact that I now live so far away from “the woods” and I wasn’t sure how I could contribute from this distance.

But isn’t this what I had been praying for? To break away, to leave the nest where I had worked and served the Sisters for 8 years. God answered my prayer. How can I contribute from this far away? The same way other Associates do.

As Providence Associates, we further the mission of the Sisters of Providence by:

  • co-creating a hope-filled world,
  • building relationships,
  • cultivating community,
  • and living lives that challenge them to embody the face of Providence as they seek to be love, mercy, and justice in the world.

 

There are more than 200 Providence Associates all over the United States. We stay connected by praying the Prayer of Reunion, by praying the Litany of Non-Violence, by staying in touch with each other and the Sisters, and by bringing love, mercy and justice into our sphere of influence.

How am I going to do that in 2020? Things have changed for me over night and I am completely blown away by God’s AWESOMENESS! I had been serving the community of Valdosta, Georgia for several weeks through Living Bridges Ministries. I loved it! I was in the beginning stages of becoming a liaison between the ministry and a single mom’s ministry in Valdosta. I have had a passion for single moms for 13 years and I was finally realizing the dream of serving single moms. I have written a Bible study for single moms and am now a certified Biblical lay counselor. AND THEN my car broke down. I can’t get to Living Bridges now, BUT GOD opened a window for me to serve single moms from home! I will still go to the local single mom ministry and serve the single moms there. I also was invited to be a featured expert on the expert panel with The Life of a Single Mom Ministries!!! It will be a huge blessing in my effort to reach single moms and be able to counsel single moms worldwide. I have dreamed about being on that panel, but never thought that I was good enough. They loved my simple Bible study and invited me. I am still blown away by God’s goodness. Anyway, this is how I can bring love, mercy and justice into the world as a Providence Associate. I have been blessed by the Sisters of Providence and in this small way I give back.

 

Luke 8:43-48

43 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years, but no one could heal her. 44 She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. 45 “Who touched me?” Jesus asked. When they all denied it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing against you.” 46 But Jesus said, “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.” 47 Then the woman, seeing that she could not go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet. In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and how she had been instantly healed. 48 Then he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace.”

These two weeks are all about faith for me. I am back to square one and completely confused. My car is no longer functional. It developed electrical issues and can not be driven and I don’t have the money to fix it. It never had issues before. And comparatively, the value of the car isn’t going to be worth the money put into it to fix it, so I am without a vehicle. I can no longer go to Living Bridges Ministry because I don’t have a way to get 1 mile down the road much less 40. It is disappointing, frustrating and sooooo confusing. I had prayed about this for months before I got involved. I felt God leading me that way. Some might say that this is an attack of the enemy keeping me from my purpose. I don’t feel that way. I usually have a pretty good sense of what is an attack and what is God. Not that I am always right.

I will be housebound for who knows how long. My only way of getting a car is prayer. God has a way of stripping us of everything in order to bring us closer to Him. It is sometimes needed to bring us to a place that we are fully dependent on Him. Just touching the garment of Jesus can bring a miracle, if only we have faith.

Luke 22:42

42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”

I still struggle with trying to control things. Maybe, keeping me housebound is a way for God to make me focus on HIS will for once. I can’t go anywhere. He has a captive audience and I am willing to say, “I am completely confused and I have no idea what you are doing, but THY WILL BE DONE.”

I have 2 heart tests next week, so prayers for a positive outcome are appreciated!

Regardless of all the challenges in my life, I am abundantly blessed!

 

Ezekiel 33:10-11

10 “Son of man, say to the Israelites, ‘This is what you are saying: “Our offenses and sins weigh us down, and we are wasting away because of them. How then can we live?” 11 Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’

The Israelites were crying out from the weight of their offenses and sins. They cried out that they were wasting away because of them. Carrying the weight of our sin can be a heavy burden. I have had to repent recently of my own wrong attitudes of anger and resentment. I know first hand how sin can weigh us down and separate us from God and God’s best for us. I was wallowing in my anger and pride. I didn’t want to give an inch and was NOT setting the Christlike example that I knew I should be setting. I knew that my attitude was wrong and yet I refused to give in. What’s even worse is that I was hanging on to an anger and resentment that wasn’t rightfully mine to hold on to. It has been weighing me down. I hate knowing that I am choosing to let sin keep me from God’s presence.

So what do we do when sin is weighing us down? In verse 11, God tells us to Turn! Turn from our wicked ways! I read this verse yesterday and God used it to bring me to a place of repentance and restoration. I had to swallow my pride and make amends. I now feel reconnected to God and a relationship is in a place where Jesus can transform both of our hearts.

No one on this earth is exempt from sin. At one point or another, we will ALL sin and become weighed down by our sin and wicked ways. But God tells us that He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked. He would much rather that we turn from our sin and transform our hearts. He would much rather give us life than sentence us to death.

2 Peter 3:9

 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

1 John 2:1

My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

We WILL sin! But because God does not want any of us to perish, He has provided an advocate to intercede on our behalf. His name is Jesus. If we accept Jesus into our hearts and lives, we can repent from our sin and we will be forgiven. BUT we also must TURN from our wicked ways! Accept Jesus. Repent of our sin. And turn from our wicked ways.

There is life in Jesus! Allow Him to transform your heart and live for Him.

 

I am covering two weeks on this post. Fall has finally arrived and some cooler temps. We have changed out the Summer clothes for the Fall/Winter clothes in the clothes closets and we have seen an increase in clients coming in for clothes and housewares. On Wednesday we served 13 clients (some with family sizes of 5 or 6) and gave away 164 items of clothing. It’s a blessing to be able to serve these families and to make sure that the little ones will have warm clothes for the colder months.

I was excited to have Kiowa come volunteer Last Monday. She had been gone for two weeks on training in Europe and had a day off before going back to work, so she came and volunteered with me. She also volunteered at the Fall Festival on the 26th. Unfortunately, we were soaked an hour in by a torrential downpour and had to pack up. You never know in Georgia when it might rain! It was still a success and over 150 people were able to get information on community resources and the kids had fun on bounce houses, getting their hair painted, making slime, making sand art and doing other fun activities. We were able to give out toothbrushes and tubes of toothpaste to families and we were blessed with the appearance of a full rainbow.

I had to stay home Monday-Wednesday of this week due to my car being worked on, but I used the time to create a Faith based Facebook group for single moms in Lowndes County and the surrounding area. I will also be involved with In His Grace Ministries (a support group for single parents that meets once a month at a local church) and am stepping out to be a liaison between the two ministries and single moms in the community. If you know me or have read my blog at all, then you know that serving single moms has been a passion of mine for many years. I am excited to help single moms build community with each other, as well as providing online Bible studies, resources, information to help in the struggle, and a safe place to share our hopes, dreams and hardships. Being a single mom can be isolating. This is my way to bring single moms together in support of each other. If we can build that village of mutual support and encouragement, helping each other along the way, our kids will benefit.

I was also able to use the extra time to finish my program to become a certified Biblical lay counselor. I have always wanted to counsel/coach/mentor single moms. This does not make me a “licensed professional” but it does allow me to counsel from a lay position. Everything I have longed for and have waited 15 to 20 years for is being realized in this moment. God’s timing is perfect. When I try to control things, I make a mess of things but when I wait on God’s timing and will things fall into place. I am imperfect, but I continue to learn!

The garden is growing! Our cabbage, collards, broccoli, kale and basil are doing great! This week we planted carrots and lettuce. We have had some intruders on some of our crops and have had to take action early on to prevent further infestations. We want our crops to grow and produce healthy, strong fruits and vegetables and that won’t happen if we let garden pests take over. The same goes with our Christian walk. we need to guard our hearts and our lives or sin will creep in and take over, crowding out anything good that we might plant in our lives. We have to repent and dig sin out by the root in order to make sure that we keep growing and produce good fruit. Who knew that we could learn life lessons from gardening?

On a personal note: 

My savings is dwindling. I live a frugal life and have stretched it as far as I possibly could, but circumstances crop up that need money. I mentioned my 13 year old car needing fixed. I was blessed to have the husband of an intern at Living Bridges fix my car. He is a mechanic and charged me nothing in labor, however I have had to pay about $650.00 in parts since Saturday. If you have been moved in any way by my life on mission here in South Georgia, I am asking if you will partner with me to see how God works in not just my life but the community as well. God is working in Living Bridges Ministry. Classes are being added and we are reaching the community to make sure that those who are in need are being reached. Through Living Bridges God is at work in Valdosta and the surrounding community and I am blessed to be a small part of it. I also ask that you continue praying about my heart issues. I wore a holter monitor last Thursday to Friday. I have an ultrasound on next Thursday and a stress test on November 19th. Other than an occasional heart flutter, I feel fine.

Click on the link to check out the LIVING BRIDGES Facebook page!

Please visit my support page if you feel led to give as I live my life on mission in South Georgia.