The Unsung Heroes

What does a worship team do in the hours before church starts.

Carlos arrives first. He unlocks a door for the others to slip through and starts turning on the lights. He goes to the back and turns on the audio equipment and works on getting the numerous dials to the perfect spot.

Patrick walks in at a fast clip with his guitar case and  pedal board filled with his guitar effects. It always takes him the longest to set up with his electric guitar and pedals. The speaker isn’t working right this morning, so he plays with his guitar and volume until he finds the exact spot where the speakers will work for him, not against him.

In walks a new guy with his battered acoustic guitar case. Justin exhibits a laid back demeanor as he introduces himself to the others and begins asking the multitudinous questions that it will take to get him set up and ready to play.

Meanwhile KJ enters the back of the sanctuary with his bass slung over his shoulder. He talks with people and laughs as he wakes up and gets ready to play.

Carlos starts calling for mic checks as Richard enters. He walks to the front and sets down his breakfast, coffee , power bar and drum sticks. He yawns as he walks out the door to hang up his coat.

Cassie and Emily walk in laughing as they walk to the front pew. Emily pulls out her violin as Cassie prepares the keyboard. They continue to laugh together as they prepare their instruments and wake up more.

As the mic checks continue, the chatter slowly starts a crescendo. The air begins to fill in with instruments warming up, a cacophony that will soon give way to order.

Carlos steps up to the main mic, his own acoustic guitar slung from his shoulder. The instruments noises quiet down with short burst of the final warm-ups. Caleb goes through the order of the songs and last minute chord changes. He bows his head, along with everyone else as he prays to God that He would get all the glory; that their worship would bring a smile to the Almighty’s face.

As they play the first song, the yawns lessen and the eyes open a little wider. The protein bar has been consumed and the coffees are empty. The recently showered heads of hair have now dried. The team is looking sharper and chords are called out and debated as the practice continues.

The sun still isn’t up as the singers quietly enter. They are still in yawning mode. Kim quietly distributes the coffee that she has brought in to share. Sarah comes in looking awake and ready to go.  They quietly pick up the mics and voices are added to the music. There is still 90 minutes until the service begins. When the congregation yawns in, the wide awake worship team has been soaking in praise for a couple of hours already.

Carlos finally declares them ready and everyone takes a break. They make last minute bathroom breaks and grab some water. When it is a little before nine, they are all on stage, ready to go.

Carlos begins with prayer and takes directs the focus of the congregation and puts it on God. The people join in with the worship team and the hours of prep brings the people into God’s presence quickly. Hands wave in the air and eyes fill with tears. A few people bow at the altar and some dance in the back.

The Holy Spirit seemingly flows out of the instruments and voices. There is no way to explain how this works. The glory and magesty of God become overwhelming to the hearts that are fixed on their Abba Father.

When the pastor takes the mic, he is ready to preach. This rides on the presence of God coming in like a flood during worship. He is strengthened and encouraged from the worship, and his message today will be strong and Biblically sound.

People will get saved today. Some will be healed or encouraged. All will receive Gods love. God isn’t just working through the worship team, but they certainly set the stage to get it all rolling.

These unsung worship heroes will be at church for a total of 7 hours. They will not have time to eat during until after the last service. They sit through two entire services. Some will fall asleep during the message from exhaustion and it will bring knowing smiles from the others on the team.

After the service, they quickly pack up their instruments and join in with the multitude of conversations taking place throughout the church. Ministry is still taking place as people discuss what God spoke to them during the service and others ask for prayer for difficulties they are going through. Even this is riding on the songs of the worship team.

They do not get paid for what they do. For many this is their day off. Some will leave and  go straight to work, some will go play with their kids and the rest will hit the couch for a well deserved nap. They have pleased God greatly and have impacted lives not only in the congregation where they ministered, but in the lives that the congregation goes out and touches as well. Who knows, as they minister to people who in turn minister to others who in turn minister to others, they will be reaching around the world. But this isn’t what they are thinking about as they quietly and humbly go on with their day.

 

Coffee Break

I love coffee breaks! The process of the warm cup in my hand, the steamy smell wafting to my nose, and the calming of all the muscles in my body as my mind stills happens every time. It’s like an old friend coming over for a chat, but it is only me and my cup. Today I am looking over my life, my blog on how God is Good and how it all works together in my tangled life.

I know that in the blogging world, people like blogs with one theme. I love that too, and when I am in the mood for homeschooling, or current events or someone sharing their life it is easy to go there. But then you hit my blog, and it’s everything I do, think, and understand that will greet you. You never know what you will get, but you will always know where I am in life and what is going on at the time.

I realize that blogging is putting my life on display and that anyone can access it. It is quite terrifying in many ways. But I always come back to my love for God and the need to share how wonderful he is for whomever will grace me with a glance at my blog.

I know that there are many topics on my blog that make many people uncomfortable. There are those who do not want to hear about God, homeschooling, my life,parenting, teaching, my poems, or sra and sexual abuse. But I do hope that the brave that soldier through my posts are seeing that I am just a woman who lives my life knowing that whatever I am going through, God is with me.

I continue to love homeschooling. My 9th grader and I are having an enjoyable study in the executive cabinet appointees and Trump’s innauguration. My teaching English to Chinese students over the internet for VIPkids is a joy and is going well. Parenting is challenging as always. Health-wise I have been fighting cold/bronchitis/pneumonia for the past several weeks and it is really annoying. SRA healing has been quite difficult lately, unfortunately, and I struggle with how long the healing process is.

In the midst of all of these areas of my life swimming around in my head, I come back to the rock of my life: God. He calms my storm of thoughts and I remember how much He loves me and that even if I feel as though I am going through the valley of the shadow of death in different areas of my life, He is with me. With Him, I will make it out and do well.

My cup is about empty and it is time to get back to work. Thank you for being supportive of my blog and of me. I greatly enjoy my WordPress time and I hope that God blesses you in what you are dealing with today.

It’s About The Journey

The jourey may be exhuasting, but eventually you will arrive.

She shifted around over and over and over trying to find the spot of the least pain. You would think with modern technology they would have invented a more comfortable donkey. She shouldn’t complain, at least for the 68.9 miles she was riding, but she was pregnant, and very pregnant at that. Seriously, out of all the times there could have been a census it had to be now? And what was wrong with Joseph, the audacity to be born so far away? She shifted again and the baby gave a strong kick into her bladder. And now another of the already hundreds of restroom breaks! She knew that this baby was divine and all, but the pregnancy was anything but! When she got to heaven she was going to have a little chat with the Almighty about this…

We always assume that Mary was perfect: quiet in her sufferings, sitting poised even though a little hunched over on her donkey, having sweet conversations with her husband…. But we really know nothing of her jouney to Bethlehem other than she went, went into labor, and found no vacancies at any hotel… Why Was there No Room in the Inn?

What we can focus on in the birth of Jesus, is that it was  journey for Mary and Joseph. They had a road to follow, a destination to get to. God had a plan, but it was not easy. In fact,  I can guarantee you it took every ounce of emotional and physical energy that they could muster. God never gives more than you can bear, but Mary and Joseph were pushed way beyond what they thought they could bear.

Last night was Christmas Eve, and Patrick and I made it to bed by midnight. We reminisced over the years of trying to get toys together and eveything wrapped, food prepared, and everything ready for whenever our four excited kids decided to wake up. It was exhausting. We rejoiced in not having to go to bed at two or three or four in the morning. Then I said, “Phew, we survived another one!” Then I started thinking about the journey.

Christmas is not just a labor of love for a week, but for many weeks. There is money to be saved or credit cards to be charged, there are lists of gifts for loved ones, planning meals, throwing Christmas parties, attending parties, participating in the church outreaches, practicing and performing in the Christmas contada, and on and on and on. Our donkeys are uncomfortable, we get stressed and short with the loved ones we are trying to bless. The 68.9 miles seems longer and longer every year.

Such is the season, and we walk it over and over and over because we have an expected outcome. Mary’s journey led her to Jesus, cradled in her arms with the soft glow of the star resting on his little perfect face. Our journey also leads us to Jesus. Mary was crazy tired and sore from her journey, as are we. The parallels go on and on, and are a fun rabbit trail to discover.

Congratulations! You made it to Christmas 2016! Now we look at the birth of Jesus and ponder the gift that he was to the world. We may have family to spend our time with, or solitarily feel alone and abandoned with the “familiness” that everyone else seems to have. But regardless, we have all made this journey. And we will do it again next year, God willing.

The important thing to know about a journey is that there is always an end. Be it Christmas or some other journey God has you on, remember that you will get there eventually. So shift around on your donkey, try not to bite off the head of the people around you, and revel at the expected end that God has given you.

Merry Christmas! Thank you all for joining me in my blogging journey this year!

Why Was there No Room in the Inn?

It now makes perfect sense why there was no room in the inn.

Patrick and I had traveled all day with a baby in the back seat and it was midnight. We were exhausted and in Ann Arbor, Michigan driving around looking for anywhere we could get a room. (Okay, not exactly true, we did find a “Pay by the Hour” place which we turned down.) Jessica was crying, so I decided to join in.

We ended up driving over to Detroit until finally there was a hotel with mercy and a room. We fell exhausted and grateful to find a bed to lie down in. It was the softest bed we had ever been in. It was a little taste of Heaven.

It’s Christmas, so I know the similarities don’t escape you. They didn’t to me, either, as I had complete empathy for the young woman riding a donkey while in labor. (Hard to beat that labor story!)

God always tells us what He is going to do before He does it, and many times the physical realm is very symbolic to a bigger message. Mary and Joseph were giving birth to the Messiah, and this was no exception.

So why wasn’t there one tiny room in the whole town of Bethlehem for the exhausted Joseph and his stoic wife? There was not room for them because the world would not have room for Him either. Jesus will one day make a grand entrance with great pomp, but this time was quiet and peaceful. God made a place for Jesus’ birth.

We are like that, too. The world does not have room for Jesus, and it certainly doesn’t have room for Christians. Jesus told the disciples that if the world rejects them, the world is really rejecting the Jesus shining inside of them.

So where is your heart this Christmas? Don’t be like the Inns. Make room for Jesus and I guarantee you that it will change your life. God will make a spot for you. He will give you a calling. He will make your paths straight.

If you have been putting off a relationship with the Creator and the Savior Jesus, now is the time. It will be the greatest of Christmas presents. Your Inn will have room.imgres.jpg

Coffee Break; Cream, no Sugar

It has come to my attention that I have not been blogging very much as of late, so I thought I would catch you up on the Life and Times of Lisa Meister. So grab your favorite mug and let me pour you a fresh and hot cup of coffee. I will take mine with cream, no sugar.

Well, technically I have cream and sugar because I have the French vanilla kind that is crazy good with a crazy amount of sugar. But I feel better just saying no sugar. I figure that I am a hypocoffeedriac, meaning that if I believe that there isn’t sugar in the cream, there won’t be.

I have already blogged about my wonderful new job in
A Fun New Job and This Time I Get Paid. What is amazing is that I live in Indiana, USA but teach in China. I am teaching Chinese children, ages 4 – 12 English. There are so many wonderful children out there that are a lot of fun to work with. I really thought that China was mostly a third world country, but these children look to be from homes very much like ours.

But I digress. That rabbit trail started with my job, so I will get back to it. I am slowly building my student base and am starting to figure out what I am doing. My kids are very smart and by the end of a 25 minute lesson, I can already notice a jump in what they can understand. I work from 5 – 9 am each morning, with prep the night before. I have puppets, cheerleading pom-poms, birthday hats and blow toys, crazy hats, and a tamborine. Aargh, I digress again.

Okay, on to a new area. I am still homeschooling my youngest. It works great because we don’t start homeschooling until 10am. She does almost everything on her own now (a trait the homeschooling community highly prizes), with me there to discuss ideas, help with math, or to try to help with science.

I am also a blogger, a great love in my life. But as you can see, I don’t have a lot of time for it right now. As teaching gets easier I will have more time again.

My oldest daughter is graduating from College next week! That’s a “Yeah!” and a “Yikes!”. My 5 pound bundle of joy is now 23. Yes, the years vanished in a smoky “poof”, but I know I gleaned all the time with her I could because I educated her at home.

I have also started writing a new book, and am trying to find big chunks of time (well, not really, more like small chunks of time) to write. I have my topic, my research, my voice and am well on my way into chapter one.

Christmas is upon us, so I am taking time to think through all that Jesus has done for me and marvel at his loving decision to come to earth as a man. This year I have been thinking through all the prophecies in the Old Testament about his coming. I’ll have to blog some about that at a later date.

There is always church, God time, teen drama, husband, and health issues that I deal with on a daily basis; heavy on the teen drama. I think that is about it.

So that about catches you up on me. I would love it if you would leave a quick reply as to how you are doing. I have missed all of my blogging friends.

My Last Straw Was Many Bales Ago

I woke up one morning with a situation I knew was too rough for me. I had been going through it for a while, and the last straw happened many hay bales ago.I was panicked and nothing was changing. It was time for a little chat with God.

It went something like this,”God, the Bible says you will not give me more than I can bear… well, this is it, so it’s time to blast out the enemy and get me out of this.” I slowly opened my eyes to peek, and I was in the same place as I was before.

There is, apparently, a divide between my definitions and God’s. I realized that with all my hay management. I wish He had written the Bible in my vernacular; it would have cut down on the confusion and made my blog more successful. I will continue the dialogue with God on all this, but it all comes down to this:

  • Ultimately, God is the one on the throne
  • He believes in my way more than I do
  • Just because He listens to me does not mean we are in agreement
  • I had betters study the Greek/Hebrew definitions
  • Get a bigger barn

There is not much I can do to help my circumstances, but there is a lot I can do to help others. When they are beyond their breaking point, I need to be their prayer warrior. I can encourage them, help them with their needs during their process, and be the light to a world stuck in the “more than I can handle” arena.

If you are in a situation where you are panicking and beyond your point of bearing, remember this: “our light and momentary struggles are nothing to be compared to the glory of God”. Now that is a bunch of words God and I can agree on.

A Tactical Homeschooling Error

Now that I have time to look back and evaluate my homeschooling strategy a little, I see a big mistake in my strategy: my kids are using what they learned against me!

My very godly goal was to equip them in all areas (academics, running a house and a budget, clearance shopping, etc.) so that when they graduate from my homeschool, they will be ready to walk into anything God has for them. I went into this whole-heatedly.

Most of my strategies were good ideas, some not so good, and some were downright failures. Here are some of my good ideas :

  • academic strength
  • learning proper socialization
  • creative classes to reflect each child’s interests
  • problem solving skills
  • hard work ethic
  • strong civics understanding
  • strong self identity
  • a heart after God

Okay, I feel a bit better after coming up with that list. Now my “not so good” list:

  • breeding animals in the home (pomeranians started sex-ed at a way to young age for my comfort), (butterflies, tiny silks with worms hanging off of them in the hair of my children at the dinner table)
  • homeschooling in the summer (good idea, bad implementation)
  • teaching the kids to drive by myself (okay, with a little soul searching on this one, I am moving it to the “stupidity” column)

Enough with that, I am getting a little depressed. Let’s go to the “failure” list:

  • using Abeka math for three classes in highschool even when I knew it wasn’t working for us (oh the hours I wasted trying to figure out their way of doing things when I could have just taught my kids the way I knew how to do them)
  • logic fallacies course

Those are just enough to give you the idea of where I am on this. So now onto my greatest strategy error:

Teaching my children how to back up an argument and pointing out the logical fallacies in another person’s argument.

And this is why: My kids can argue me in circles until I don’t know what hit me. Seriously. I also prepared my kids to be independent after graduating from school, and they are way too independent. Plus they are now smarter than me and have a higher vocabulary than I have.

It is just embarrassing when I have to  look up the definitions of words my daughter uses in her writing assignments. It’s humbling when the kids can run the house smoothly when you are out of town for an extended time.

If I had to do it all over again, I have to question what I would do differently. So with great reflection, here they are:

  • waited to buy the first butterfly caccoon until later in the summer when it would be warm enough to let them free
  • not buy the tadpole as it turned into a frog that we couldn’t let loose in a pond and had to buy a friend for
  • not give scissors to a toddler to practice cutting paper while I was homeschooling the other kids, resulting in a beautiful new groove on the edge of the table (who knew safety scissors could actually do that!)
  • taught each subject to suit all levels of kids instead of each child having their own and unique curriculum
  • not study logic fallacies and debate (talk about a student soaking in a subject, biiig mistake

 

I have one child left to homeschool, and she is so smart and independent that she really doesn’t need me much. Mostly she needs me to read to her and discuss ideas. So I am basically out of a job. My older kids have a good head on their shoulders and work hard, and have better ideas about life advice than I normally have. Now they are giving me advice! Argh! But it’s too late. I guess I will have to wait and give fair warning to my kids when they start homeschooling. Of course, they probably will already know that…

 

 

 

 

 

Okay, God, Your Point?

Why does the Bible spend so much time on what is to come?

I love the prophetic which means I read the prophetic books in the Bible over and over again. So today I finished Daniel and went into Joel. Daniel was talking end times and Joel was talking about things to come. Then it hit me: a big part of the Bible is God telling us what is going to happen before it happens. God is smarter than I am, so nothing is by happenstance, which means that everything has a reason. So I started thinking through where God was going with all this prophetic stuff.

So my mind started whirring and then the really super-duper deep reason hit me: a big part of a Bible is an arrow shooting across the time/space continuum towards our ultimate life end and eternity beginning. The human race has been told over and over and over again that the end is coming and that we need to make sure we are on the right side of the line that has been drawn.

I think God’s point is to be in a constant state of readiness for the end of the world, but even more personal is the end of our own life. Are we right where we need to be with God? Are we waiting until we know our life is almost over to accomplish certain things? Are we putting off truly following God for some crazy reason?

Every time you see an arrow, think about where your life is going. Following God will help you hit the mark every time. I think that is the point.

He Does More Than Finish My Sentences

Getting closer to God, one conversation at a time.

Men may scratch ther heads, but women love having friends that know them well enough to finish their sentences. I made that kind of friend in college. Anne and I met my freshman year and spent hours upon hours talking about anything and everything. In just a few weeks we started finishing each other’s sentences. When we started dating, it drove our future husbands nuts. (And it still does when we get together no matter how much time has gone by since we have seen each other).

But God can do one better.

Psalm 139: 1-4

You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Before a word is on my tonge you, Lord, know it completely.

I can feel all the eyes rolling from the men, but this is so cool. Think about how fun a conversation it would be. It would be loving and tender. God “gets” me in ways that I don’t even understand about myself.

Today when you have your conversations with God, you can be positive that He “gets” you. He understands where you are and what you are thinking. So have fun with your Best Friend and feel loved and appreciated.

Take a Walk

God walked with me today. The day was not special and we chatted about nothing deep, but just spent the time enjoying each other’s company. I love spending time with Him. I love learning about Him and drawing closer to Him. Each day I want to find ways that I can get ever closer to Him.

I am never satisfied with how close I am to Him. My heart is on a race toward the throne room. I want to bow down right in front of Him and be able to see His toes on the floor. Today I did get closer to Him, just by spending time.

I love to tell Him how beautiful the trees and mountains and birds are. I tell Him how amazed I always am His creativity. Seriously, how long did it take to figure out gravity just right so all the planets and suns didn’t collide together? With all the solar systems and galaxies, it surprises me that the spheres up there aren’t colliding like billiard balls.

I thought through all the miracles, grace and mercy God has extended to me over the years. I thanked God for our new paid for and installed water softener. I thanked Him for my family and friends. I thanked Him for our wonderful church and amazing pastor and his lovely wife. They have such a passion to love on people and point them more and more toward God.

I also enjoy talking to Him about things I disagree with. mosquitos, dirty dishes and time continuums. Or ask about what was up with the platypus. Or why don’t I have a panda bear and slide when I want one so badly. I’m sure He laughs at me a lot, but I really do talk to Him about these things.

Everyone can walk with God. Everyone can talk to Him. Take Him along with you tomorrow, and just chill. You will get closer to Him than ever and have a lot of fun. I’m sure you will make Him laugh.