Blog, On Mission

A Mom (and daughter) on Mission: Shae & Savanna

Thankful for this dear friend who loves Jesus, loves others, and shares the gospel in their home in Florida and on Mission with their children!!

My name is Shae and I have been married to my wonderful husband, Danny, for 18 years. We have been in ministry together for all of those 18 years! He is currently an Executive and Worship Pastor and I work part-time for Florida Center for Reading Research. I do interventions with preschoolers and kindergarteners. We have three beautiful girls: Madison 14, Savanna 11, and Brooklyn 8! (You can say our life is pretty busy!!)

Missions has always been a part of our married life. We know God commands us in Matthew 28:19 to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” We wanted to be an example to our girls by participating in local missions and mission trips (mostly Danny because I stayed home with the girls while they were young.) However in 2017, our first opportunity came for Madison (our oldest) to be involved in an international mission trip to Nicaragua with her NextGen Pastor and some youth to minister to girls who have been rescued from sex trafficking. This is a scary thought, sending our girl to a different country, but we knew God’s command to go is for our girls as well and not just for us. Madison’s interest in the trip sparked a desire in Savanna (our middle) to go on a mission trip as well. Her interest was a service mission trip to Alaska that our church participates in each year. They go to Wasilla, Alaska and help the LaVerne Griffin Youth Recreation Camp clean the facilities and prepare the grounds for the kids that will come during the summer. However, this mission trip was during the month of May and she would be missing a whole week of school and maybe even some state testing. Unfortunately, Savanna was not able to go in 2017, but Danny was able go on the trip to see if this would be a good mission trip for her to start with.

Fast forward to 2018. Savanna’s desire to go on the Alaskan mission trip had not faded so Danny and I were able to talk with her principal and she agreed to excuse the 7 days of school she would miss. (Thankfully state testing finished the week before the trip.) We also thought it would be best if I went with her on the mission trip! So last month Savanna and I, along with the rest of our team, flew to Alaska and spent 10 days at the camp. Our team was able to clean cabins, rake leaves, fix screens, replace locks and get the camp ready for the kids! Savanna spent most of the week in the kitchen with the staff preparing meals for the team! (The kitchen is her happy place. She loves to cook!)

It was such an amazing experience to have with my daughter, showing her what it means to go and share God’s love with others! Each morning we were able to do a Bible study together at the lake and that’s something I will always cherish! I highly recommend going on a mission trip with your children! It is such a neat bonding experiencing between you and them and you and God!

“Go and make disciples” is a command of God and it’s a command for all of God’s children! We cannot get around it. Whether it’s local missions or international, God will show you what He desires for you to do! You just have to listen! I have never been on an international mission trip but He has already sent my oldest, Madison, on two of them and she’s only 14. As I write this Madison is on her second international mission trip! She is in Greece ministering to refugees! Also don’t let finances be a hindrance. Over the last two months, three of us have gone on mission trips and God has provided all of the finances needed! If He is calling you to go, He will provide!

My prayer for you, as a mom, is to be open to God’s leading for you and for your children to go and make disciples!

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Blog, On Mission

Praying through Ramadan

You may or may not know that Ramadan, the Muslim holy month of fasting is beginning tomorrow this year. Living among Muslims in Northern Africa, I had a “love hate” relationship with this month. It was a time of yummy food, visiting with friends and their families, and great opportunity to share about why I follow Jesus; however, it was also a hard 30 days in many ways. Many of my friends were just plain grumpy and hungry during the day! I like to call that “hangry”. During their 30 days of fasting, they are not allowed to let anything pass their lips from sunrise (the first morning prayer) until sunset. At sunset, a call to prayer would be extended and then families could break their fast together and eat. And eat they would!! Such delightful yummy food!!

Many of my friends didn’t necessarily know exactly why they were fasting and that it had anything to do with their God, Allah. It was just something they had to do. So this was always a great time for me to be intentional with them and share truth with them about a loving Father who longs for a relationship with them.

There are not many devout Muslims near where I live now, so Ramadan doesn’t come up in my day to day conversations; however, I still desire for my girls to know who they are as people, what they believe, and how to best pray for them during this month especially. We must not be scared or shy away from teaching them about other faiths and what they believe. If we don’t, someone else will – and that’s a whole other discussion.

There are several things that you could do to better help your little ones learn about Islam and to have compassion for our Muslim neighbor.

1. Take time to chat with your little ones about Muslims, the Islamic faith, and what they believe. Tell them about Ramadan.

If you are unsure of what exactly Muslims believe, check out this great article or this one.

And better yet, meet a new Muslim friend and get to know them! Ask them questions! Listen and pray.

2. Pray specifically during Ramadan for your Muslim neighbor, friend, co-worker. This can often times be a month of “openness” to spiritual things as they are seeking Allah and his favor. Be bold in your prayers! Maybe even pray and fast for a day or two along with them, praying to our God on their behalf!

Click here, for a great Ramadan Prayer Guide and more info about Ramadan!

3. Prepare a Meal and invite your friends to come and break their fast with you and your family. This could be lots of fun as you prepare and host! Ask them how they typically break their fast and strive to honor their traditions and culture. Be intentional during your time together to share about the bread of life, Jesus. If you don’t have a friend that is Muslim, prepare a Ramadan meal for your family and take that time to pray specifically for Muslims breaking their fast all around the world and in your community.

For some great international recipes, check out our On Mission Moms Pinterest page!

4. Be respectful of their fast. If your coworker is fasting, don’t invite them to come eat a donut on your break, but maybe do ask them to join you for a walk on your break and enjoy chatting together. Just Be mindful! It goes a long way in sharing Jesus! And teach your little ones to be mindful as well.

5. Expose them to books and movies that teach them about Islam and that are appropriate for their stage in life and faith. Books are a great way to help little ones see and learn more about life around them. Use those resources as a catalyst for conversations about why we believe what we believe and why we worship Jesus, the one true God.

Blog, Mission Ideas, On Mission, Uncategorized

Service Opportunity: Family Prayer Room

On the third floor of the Bridge, a community ministry center located in the Northside, there is a Prayer Center. A place where you can go and pray, get quiet before the Lord, and hear from Him. It’s a quiet, sweet place set aside for individual and group prayer times.

Steve Wise, Minister of Missions at First Baptist Spartanburg, has quite the plan for that place and would love to see a family prayer room become a part of the Prayer Center. That’s where we, as On Mission Moms, come in!

We’ve been asked to help plan and prepare that room for families to use as a place to come, with their little ones in tow, and pray together. What would you like to see in a family prayer room? Maybe a chalkboard wall for the little ones to draw their prayers on while Mom prays, maybe some rocking chairs to rock in as the family prays and the baby snoozes, It’s a blank page and we get to design it!

So, let’s get together and pray, plan, and prepare to get to work! We will be meeting, Wednesday, May 23rd at 6:30 in the Bridge Prayer Center. Come ready to pray and dream together and then let’s get ready to serve and build a Family Prayer Room, where we can bring our little ones to be a part of praying for God to do big things in our home, in our city, and around the world!

Blog, Mission Ideas, On Mission

Prayer Walking Fun

I love our city and our downtown area especially is really growing and becoming a fun place to be for all. The Chapman Cultural Center, our community arts center, has added great lightbulb sculptures throughout the downtown area (and beyond) and we LOVE discovering them and seeing what all each artist has created. I have taken it one step further though and used it as a fun way to introduce prayer and the importance of prayer walking to the girls.

Prayer Walking is just an intentional time of focus and prayer and simply “praying as you go.” I’ll be honest though, with a four year old and a 20 month old, there wasn’t much focus and the prayers were definitely simple and all over the place. But that is one thing I love about leading our little ones to pray and have a heart for Jesus and others – it doesn’t have to be real complicated. In fact, I think Jesus said faith was pretty simple, like a child. We have to start somewhere so even leading my sweet 20 month old to pray is so very important!

Prayer Walking, now that the weather is warming up and the sun is shining is a simple and fun adventure for all of us – kids and mommies!

1. It helps our little ones and us see and realize that the world is bigger than we are. As we walked from lightbulb to lightbulb, I was able to have great conversations about our town, the people we passed, what the lightbulb reminded us of or brought to mind and our hearts were not thinking about ourselves quite as much for just that little bit.

2. It’s gets them going and outside! And it gets us going too!! So many times it is just easier to sit or stay and while it’s easier, I’m not sure it’s always best. Don’t get me wrong, there are times and days when home is where you just need to be, but being active as children and letting your kids see you be active is huge! And mixing activity and our faith together sends an incredible message that it’s not just a Sunday “thing”.

3. Prayer walking models for them that they can pray anywhere and any which way! A lot of times, I get stuck in the rut of just praying at bedtime or first thing in the morning – prayer walking for us reminds us that we can do that any time, any where and it’s fun!

4. It focuses our hearts and minds. As we are walking and praying, we are usually more intentional and focused and it’s easier to keep our minds settled in to prayer. Often times when I’m having my quiet time at home, I’m distracted by the phone or the book or the dishes or the dirty laundry. When I’m out and about, praying as I go, I tend to stay way more focused!

5. It draws us closer to God’s heart and God’s plan for our city! When we are walking through our downtown area, praying for those that we pass, for businesses and nonprofits who are doing great work, for homeless friends sitting in the park, for growth and construction (cause it’s everywhere downtown) – my heart changes! It gives me more of a desire to be busy about God’s kingdom purposes and not just the mundane household chores or changing diapers and while those things are crucial and highly needed – sometimes we get distracted by the non-eternal things.

Is there a time when you can set aside to get outside in your town and walk and pray? Does your town have any fun art sculptures that you can center your prayers around? What are things you have done to lead your children in their prayers for the world and for their city? Share your experiences and wisdom so that we can all learn from one another!!

If you are a local On Mission Mom, here is a great resource to show you where all the lightbulbs are located, their names and story!

Also there are some fun ideas for prayer walking over on our On Mission Moms Pinterest Prayer Board.

Blog, On Mission

Laying a Foundation

We had a great On Mission Moms event, Helping Hands for the Homeless, this past weekend and we had so much fun getting together with our little ones and leading them to serve others. It was a simple morning but one I pray will impact our kiddos in the years ahead.

I believe firmly that every time I provide an opportunity – big or small – for my girls to learn about serving and loving Jesus, He is honored and well pleased. He will take our moments on Saturday when they were enjoying their yummy snacks and listening to the Good Samaritan story and one day lead our little one to be that one who stops and helps. He will take walking around a table filled with soap and shampoo, socks and wash clothes, and he will give them a heart that is ready to see and give to others in need.

He will take those moments and use them for His glory either today or years down the road. I just want to be faithful in the now, with my four year old and almost two year old, to build a foundation that teaches them to love Jesus and love others – brick by brick, moment by moment…

For more fun pics of our great morning and other resources and connections, join our On Mission Moms Facebook group!

Blog, On Mission

Do No Harm: Be Prepared

We will be sharing over the next several weeks a Series called “Do No Harm” – teachings that I’ve learned and practiced in my time working with the homeless from New Orleans to Spartanburg and a few other places along the way.

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A pretty important lesson that I learned in my early days working with homeless was that I had to be prepared. Prepared in all kinds of ways. Prepared to help them physically, spiritually, emotionally or socially. Prepared to tell them yes or no, depending on what and how I could help them. Prepared with knowledge to share about where they could get help. Prepared in prayer and God’s word and ready to respond as the Holy Spirit led me. 

There are several simple ways that you can be better prepared as you interact with our homeless friends. One way is to know about what services are available to our friends. Do you know which shelters take men and women, or which shelters only take families? Do you know where they are located? Do you know if your town has a place where they can get a hot meal each day and when they serve that meal? Spend some time looking around and learning about what resources and services your community offers.  One word of caution though is to make sure that your info is correct! Imagine you are a single mom on the street and someone told you that the local shelter takes single moms and you walk 20 minutes with your bags and child to find out that they don’t. It can be quite frustrating when the information is wrong. One resource that is often overlooked would be 211. Did you know that anyone can call 211 or go online and find out resources in their community for their specific situation. This is a GREAT resource from the United Way.

Another simple way is to have something to give them tangibly when they ask or when you come across someone in need in a parking lot or at a street corner. Often times it’s in these moments, we can be caught off guard and our only option is to give them money or tell them “No”, which isn’t always the best way to love and serve our friends. When I lived in New Orleans, I kept at least three or four bags for the homeless ready in my car so that I was always prepared to love and serve.

A “blessing bag” can also model to your children several important life lessons such as:

  1. You care about and value others, and they should too.
  2. Homeless people matter, as do all people because they are created by God.
  3. We should value helping and serving and loving others because God commands it! 
  4. Helping others can be easy, cheap, and fun! 
  5. You always strive to be prepared and ready to help, and they should too! 

You can let your little’s help you as you put them together and talk about homelessness, and how we are called to love and serve all people. You can pray with your little ones as you work to put the bags together. You can let them color a picture or write a note and add it into the bag. Below are some of the items that I make sure to have in my bags. 

Blessing Bag

  • Travel size toiletries such as soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion
  • Washcloth
  • Socks
  • Chapstick 
  • $5 fast food gift card from places like McDonald’s
  • Bottle water
  • Granola Bar
  • Fresh Fruit (banana or orange) if giving away quickly
  • Pop top canned tuna or chicken
  • Crackers 
  • Info about a local ministry where they can get assistance (for me, it’s Refuge info) 

There are a few more ideas over on our Pinterest Page. 

So are you prepared when you met a friend on the street? How can you better prepare yourself and your family to respond in love and with wisdom?

On Mission

leaving them behind…

I don’t really like the title… but I can’t seem to get that phrase out of my head. Because that is what I did… and I did it on purpose and because God had called my hubby and I to do just that…

Last May, we had an incredible opportunity to head to the Middle East to share and encourage refugees. We obviously couldn’t take our oldest child with us who was just two years old at the time for various reasons. I was twenty weeks pregnant with our youngest, so I like to laugh and say that she’s already been overseas. After weeks of going back and forth, asking God what He wanted us to do, We made the really difficult decision to leave Ivey behind with our family and GO! But yet – it really wasn’t all that difficult of a decision and we really didn’t leave her behind… Ivey went with us as we prepared, as we were gone, and now as we have been back for at least a year.

As we prepared, we shared with Ivey about what we would be doing (in words that she would understand such as telling our friends around the world about Jesus, encouraging people who are really sad, etc.). We didn’t shy away or hide it from her. We also prepared her by preparing fun things for her while we were gone. We made a paper chain for her to take a day off each  night – helping her see when we would be back. We bought little presents like a book about loving her and her favorite Disney princess coloring book and stickers. We asked her grandparents to give her those items on certain days.

As we were gone, we made sure to call back and check in as we were able. Sadly, Ivey got pretty sick with a stomach bug so during one of our facetime chats, she literally vomited right in front of us… It left me with such a feeling of helplessness and distance I will never forget as a mama. But it also taught me more than I could have ever imagined! I was reminded in the distance and helplessness that we gave Ivey back to God a long time ago and HE takes care of her far better than I ever could! I had to be reminded that His promise applies across the miles…

As we have returned, we continue to remember our time in the Middle East – not daily and maybe not even weekly at this point – but she still remembers and talks about how “mommy and daddy went to share with others about Jesus.” We brought her home a few little goodies from our time there and we continue to pray for those that we met while visiting these sweet people.

Was it hard to leave Ivey for two weeks ?  More than these words can express…

Was it worth it?  More than you will ever know…

Our child saw us obeying Christ’ commands to GO. She saw that we had no fear in obedience. We pray that she realizes that although we love her to the moon and back, we love Christ more. We pray that she one day realizes and remembers that Christ’ mission is much bigger than her and us and our family…

You may have the opportunity to go – and while I’m a HUGE fan of just bringing the littles ones along with us, sometimes it’s just not possible and God calls us to obedience anyway.  Will you GO? Will you OBEY? Sometimes God calls us to obedience as a model for our children and when they see us doing what He’s commanded, they will want to obey Him one day too…

Iveywelcomehome
The sweetest moment was seeing this beautiful sweet face when we returned home…