Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Prayer for Healing


Almighty God,
We pray that we our brothers and sisters may be comforted in their suffering and made whole.
When they are afraid, give them courage;
when they feel weak, grant them your strength;
when they are afflicted, afford them patience;
when they are lost, offer them hope;
when they are alone, move us to their side;
In the name of Jesus Christ we pray.
Amen

from the UMC Book of Worship Service of Healing

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Prayer for Discernment

Prayer

Listening through Prayer:


I heard the testimony of someone who felt the Holy Spirit telling her to continually pray for wisdom and discernment. At the time she didn't even know what discernment was.

Basically it means distinguishing between two options or understanding what the next best move is. I've had a few requests from a few people this week for discernment. They feel like they are walking in the wilderness and desperately want to get out. This prayer is for them:

Prayer for Discernment:

Almighty God, in a world of change you placed eternity in our hearts and gave us power to discern good from evil.

Grant us sincerity, that we may persistently seek the things that endure, refusing those which perish, and that, amid things vanishing and deceptive, we may see the truth steadily, follow the light faithfully, and grow ever richer in that love which is the life of all people;
through Jesus Christ our Savor.

Amen.

by Hugh Cameron

Until Everyone Hears,

Monday, August 29, 2011

Prayer for Those Who are Unemployed


I currently know a lot of people looking for a job. I hope that this blessing will help you as you search for what you need.

O God of the vineyard,
you call us all to productive labor,
to employ our gifts and talents for you.
We pray for those who are unemployed.
Strengthen them in this difficult hour,
uplift their spirits,
and grant them a place among your laborers
until all be employed for the common good,
and we share fully in our work
of praising you with heart and mind and soul forever. Amen.

by David Schnasa Jacobsen

Until Everyone Hears,

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Prayer Requests


This weekend I had a lot of people sending me requests for prayer. Prayer for safety during the hurricane. Prayer to find a new job. Prayer for discernment. Prayer for healing. Prayer for thanksgiving.

As I prayed I felt that my words were inadequate. My "God please bless all these people" prayer just didn't cut it. So I searched for prayers written by others that already dealt with each of these requests.

This week I'll share those with you.

Tonight I pray for all my friends and family who were/are in the path of Irene. This prayer is for you:

O God, you divided the waters of chaos at creation.
In Christ you stilled storms, raised the dead,
and vanquished demonic powers.
Tame the earthquake, wind, and fire,
and all the forces that defy control or shock us by their fury.
Keep us from calling disaster your justice.
Help us, in good times and in distress,
to trust your mercy and yield to your power, this day and for ever.
Amen.

by Andy Langford

Until Everyone Hears,

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Where Socks Go




Most families always wonder where socks go when they get "eaten" by the dryer. In case you are wondering, they end up at my house - on the floor. Everyday is a never ending task of collecting socks off the floor.

In spite of all this, I really am blessed. My kids manage to put EVERY OTHER item of clothing into the laundry hamper but for some reason socks just can't quite make it there.

So I've devised a plan. I still pick up the socks. I just can't stand to have them on the floor until I can nag the owners of the socks to pick them up. So I've been picking them up and putting them in a drawer. Eventually someone will run out of socks and they will have to buy them back from me.

Feel free to borrow this idea if you wish. From what I've seen at my home, it should only be a month or so before I'm a millionaire.

Heck, I'll even clean them before selling them. After all, I have Biblical motives for doing this.


"Any fabric, woven or knitted material, or any leather article that has been washed and is rid of the mold, must be washed again. Then it will be clean." Leviticus 13:58

Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I can't believe I haven't blogged about this before


Yesterday started off great. It was beautiful outside. I had the windows open. I got to sleep late. I had nothing pressing on the schedule. I praised God for my many blessings.

Then I remembered that God has a sense of humor.

Dori woke up and I went into her room to start the morning routine. She was feeling the easiness of the morning too and took her time getting dressed. While we were dancing around and enjoying the moment we heard a noise.

"Slurp. Slurp. Slurp."

I knew immediately that the dog was drinking from the forbidden porcelain water bowl but as I was enjoying the morning so much, I didn't rush to stop her.

Dori and I continued dancing and finally got dressed. "Slurp. Slurp. Slurp."

"Mommy, what is that?" Dori asked.

"Oh that's just Roxy." I said as I rounded the corner to the bathroom and suddenly froze.

You know those moments in movies where the character on screen suddenly remembers some key information. In a very quick and panicked moment I remembered the following:

1) The awful smell after one of the boys spent extended time in the bathroom the night before.
2) The brother of said boy making fun of the smell again that morning.
3) The fact that this particular porcelain water bowl was having some trouble flushing.
4) "Slurp. Slurp. Slurp."

So I sprang into a quick plan of action. Isolate dog and Dori. Get plunger asap. Get Lysol and bleach asap. Try not to throw up. Try not to kill anyone.

I'm not certain but I think I heard God laughing. I felt like he was actually asking me if I was still having a blessed morning. And I have to say once everything was cleaned up and I started to laugh at the situation, I was able to say, "Yes God. I love you and I'm still blessed."

Which is what I planned to say to the above mentioned brothers as soon as they were home from school and I reinforced the importance of letting the maintenance Mama know of any problems with the porcelain water bowl.

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Party On!


We had a jubilee of sorts today. August 15 is the-middle-child's birthday and this year was a big one! We began the fun by decorating the house and the golf cart, inviting over 10 pre-teen boys, getting them crunked up on sugar, and then eventually sending them home with very little sleep. We had more family fun over the weekend and ended the day today with dinner out (a rarity lately) with grandparents, siblings, parents, and extended family.

For this particular child, anyone he meets becomes family and he will celebrate any occasion with you that calls for a party!

I really like that the Bible mandates celebrations. And mandates that celebrations be with family. For many of you, family is like fudge - really sweet with a few nuts. But for others, you are allergic to the nuts and stay as far away as possible. For those with allergies, most of you have discovered that you have been blessed with non-related family for such celebrations.

Regardless of how you celebrate with your family, it is in those moments of celebration that we make memories that last a lifetime. Be intent on making them happy and your family with savor the sweetness for years to come.

Leviticus 25:10
Consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you; each of you is to return to your family property and to your own clan.

Until Everyone Hears,

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Family: You're Stuck


Without airing too much of the Karafanda dirty laundry, we had an "episode" over the weekend resulting in one of the children wanting "a new family." He was insistent that if he were adopted out to another family, all of his problems would be solved and he could be happy.

So it only added to the trauma when I told him that, "God gave you this family and you're stuck with us." He argued that he could run away to which I replied, "I'll love you no matter where you live because you'll always be mine."

For better or worse, we are stuck with our families. They drive us crazy but mostly because they understand how crazy we really are. They know what buttons to push and they push them OFTEN!

But they also love us despite our craziness. They'll stick with us through the bad times and celebrate with us at the good ones.

God gave us our family for a reason:

"He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him, and he must do so in a manner worthy of full respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) -1 Timothy 3:4-5

Our families give us what we need, to do what we are called to do in the family of God.

I'm not sure what that means for you but for me it means I'm in for a wild ride.

Until Everyone Hears,

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Voluntold



Yesterday I attended the Kedron Elementary School PTO kick-off meeting. This was a chance for people to get to know new parents and for committee chair-people to recruit workers for their committees.

My responsibility is the sign in front of the school. Its a pretty easy job if the lock to the sign is not broken - which it currently is. So now the reminder about meet the teacher will stay up until someone can fix it.

I'm not good at recruiting people for school events. Equipping people to do ministry often uses the same sort of skills as recruiting so I'm really not enthusiastic about doing it. That is something that I typically do at work. Sure I could use the help but I hate voluntolding people for jobs. I'd rather they just be passionate about it. I can share my passion for God and help people share their gifts with the church and world but anywhere else just seems like work.

Not that I'm passionate about the sign out front, but I am passionate about my kids. I feel that I should do something to help out the school that is going to have such an impact on my kids' lives and in the community.

So I've found my niche. The sign does not require the "crafty" gene. Nor does it require a lot of strategic planning. The only tricky part is that the sign is not electronic and therefore does not have spell check.

If you have kids, take some time to volunteer for something at their school and/or church. You don't need to go overboard and it definitely won't last forever. When your kids graduate, your job graduates too. They are with us for such a little amount of time and who knows - maybe your skill is just what the community needs to make a huge impact on some exceptional future leaders.


Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.
1 Peter 4:9-11

Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Syllabus


For those of us with the "J" personality trait from the Myers-Briggs Indicator Test, the syllabus is essential. It is needed for calculating grades, seeing what comes next, and seeing how far behind we've gotten in the class. It contains the benchmarks needed for success in a given class and must be respected at all costs.

Yesterday and today, on the first and seconds day of school, I had to sign 12 syllabi. As my children approached me to sign said syllabi I started to get a bit anxious. What is it exactly that my kids will be doing that require my signature? Is this like an unbreakable vow, where I have to finish their work if for some reason they are unable to do so?

Then I took a deep breath and thought back. WAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYYYY back to 5th and 6th grades. What was it that I didn't do that I needed to impart as wisdom to my sons? Well, somewhere on the long list of things was "respect thy syllabus." Your teacher has just given you cliff notes of what is coming up in your class. Things may stray a bit from the path but for the most part - this is what you can expect. Do this and you will succeed.

I'm not sure if they got it. Time will tell. But for now I've done my duty and can feel confident that my signature was not given in vain.

As I think about it, God has given us a syllabus as well:

1) Love God
2) Love others as yourself

Discipline issues: Grace and forgiveness will be given
#1 and 2 above comprise 100% percent of grade. There is no curve.

Seems simple enough right? At times it is but at times there's also a gray area that confuses those of us who are mere mortals. It involves trust and belief in things that we can't always see or explain. It involves faith.

I have faith that my kids will do well this year if they follow the syllabus. Other things may pop up for them that are unclear but in the long run it will better prepare them for the future.

I know that God isn't finished with me yet. He's still preparing me for the future. At times I'd like a more detailed syllabus but for now I'll rejoice that I'm not alone. I have a purpose and I am called to equip others to transform the world.

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Influences




When I tell people that my passion is for family ministries they usually look at me funny. They think that I'm either a children's minister or a youth minister and want to know why I'm giving myself a strange title.

I'll have to admit that sometimes its just easier to say "youth minister" and be done with it. The same way I used to say "computer programmer" instead of consultant when I worked at PWC.

But to be honest, there is a reason for the difference. As much as we hate to admit, our children do not live in a bubble. We may try to helicopter around them to shield them from the dangers of the real world but they are still being influenced by many sources.

Sometimes as a parent we hear this and panic and close the bubble in tighter, but no worries... despite all the attempts that mainstream media tries to brain wash your child, the #1 influence in their lives is...

YOU!

Surprised? Don't be. When teenagers were asked who were the key formative faith influence-rs in their lives the results were huge:

 Mother 74% female 81% male
 Father 50% female 61% male
 Grandparent 29% female 30% male
 Youth group 30% female 30% male
 Friends 29% female 22% male
 Camp 28% female 20% male

You have the greatest influence over what your kids believe, how they act, and where they'll go with their lives!

So for me to minister just to your children is silly. I must minister to the whole family in order to have a greater impact.

I've never had a job description that said my #1 priority was to make sure the kids have fun on "messy night" each summer. First of all its hard not to have fun on messy night and secondly OF COURSE its important for the kids (and adults) to have fun! "The JOY of the Lord is my strength" and that's what keeps us coming back.

I have had the #1 item on my job description be: to make disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This is a harder task. One that cannot easily be done without the support of a family and faith community.

So the next time you wonder about your child's faith - look in the mirror. If yours is strong and growing, then chances are your child's is too.

Proverbs 22:6
The Message (MSG)


6 Point your kids in the right direction—
when they're old they won't be lost.

Until Everyone Hears,

Monday, August 8, 2011

Family Faith - Back to School Rituals


Every year it gets more exciting. Whether you're the parent or the student, starting back to school is a big deal. It shows that laziness is not a way of life. Summer is great but it too must come to an end and we must fill our brains with knowledge if we are to ever to escape the routine of school.

Today was the first day of school for my boys. First day of middle school for the oldest and last first day of elementary for the middle (5th grade). One is going to be swamped with new responsibilities and the other will finally be the big dog on campus that he's always wanted to be.




The baby also starts her first day of dance class this afternoon. So not to be forgotten, she wore her dance outfit on Saturday and told everyone she was starting dance.



By some people's standards we aren't a strong family. We don't have a large mass of wealth built up. We excel at what we do but we aren't the "golden children" of our professions or classmates. We are just ordinary.

The one thing that makes us extraordinary is our faith. It is woven into all that we do. We are closer to each other because of our beliefs and we know that when things go wrong we have something divine to lean on.

Gideon and his family weren't much different: (Judges 6)

14 Then the Lord turned to him and said, “Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!”

15 “But Lord,” Gideon replied, “how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!”

16 The Lord said to him, “I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.”

And then Gideon makes a ritual sacrifice to show God that he knows God is the one making all the difference in their lives.

We have a few back to school rituals. We have a bigger breakfast than normal. We take pictures of ordinary things like riding the bus or the golf cart to school. We have a special treat for a snack when school is over and we talk about the excitement and newness of the first day during dinner. And finally at the end of the day we pray and thank God for all the possibilities that are before us.

It is these rituals that remind us that today is special not just because school is starting but because God is still with us on our journey.

I hope everyone has an amazing school year. May your blessings and rituals help you grow strong and closer to God and each other.

Until Everyone Hears,

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Wait a minute...


Doubting Thomas gets a bad rap. At times I honestly think that he was the only smart one of the disciples. Basically 10 other people heard that Jesus came back from the dead and said "Cool..." and Thomas was the only one to say, "Wait a minute..."

Thomas was lucky though. He did get to see Jesus' hole-y (pun intended) self. I have not been so lucky. Of course when I was young it was easier to believe (thus the saying about having the faith of a child). Everyone around me said the Bible was real. Since they were the ones that fed me, I went along. It seemed okay. I mean if Santa can come down the chimney and travel the world in one night, why can't the son of God be raised from the dead?

Then my mom tells me that Santa is the spirit of love and happiness at Christmas time and I started to say, "Wait a minute..."

And so began round two of constant questioning in my life. (The first being when I was two) Why are we here? How do we know Jesus is God? How can Jesus be God AND God's son? Why do I have to go to church? Why aren't all my prayers answered? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why do good things happen to bad people? Am I good enough? etc etc etc

Each time I said "Wait a minute..." I did get an answer. Maybe not a complete answer but moving onto a full answer none-the-less. And even though my faith at the beginning of this question and answer time period had hit a bump in the road, each time I asked a new question, I was just a bit closer to a stronger faith.

And now we have Rev. Shannon Karafanda. I still don't know all the answers and I still ask the hard questions but my faith is stronger than ever and I'm still learning new things about God. I know that for every question I get an answer for, I'll have five new questions. That's the beauty of an infinite God, there is no end to the things you can discover.

So next time you say "Wait a minute...", enjoy taking your time out. Listen to what God is teaching you. You might just be surprised that God shows you something exciting and new.

Until Everyone Hears,

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Summer of "The Lazy Song"


I find it interesting that it took four people (Bruno Mars, Philip Lawrence, Ari Levine, K'naan) to write The Lazy Song. Not only that but these people really aren't that lazy and are profiting from this single that hit #2 on the US Top 40.

But despite the irony, the song has become a personal theme song for this summer. If you are under 12, summer is all about doing nothing. And since I am in charge of 3 personages in my house in this age range, it is my duty to make sure that they achieve this goal with great success.

So what have we done to make our summer successful? Here's just a sample:

1) The TV is on WAAAAAYY too much. For those of you that know me, this is a stretch but I think that we've now seen every Phineas and Ferb episode at least three times and I can sing all of The Fresh Beat Band's songs with choreography.

2) The pool has been well loved this summer. Nothing says lazy like floating on a raft in your own backyard!

3) Junk food has been allowed. Before you go all Dr. Oz on me and tell me this is child abuse, I did have plenty of healthy stuff too but the convenience of chips and coke won out a bit more than usual. I just keep telling them they are giving their dad job security (he works for Coke).

4) Bedtimes have been fairly non existent.

5) Friends coming over was the norm not a special treat.

6) Reading was encouraged so that we could finally all see the last Harry Potter movie in the theater.

So that's been my summer. Its going to be a shock to our systems to get back in the routine of school but in the long run it will be good for us, just as the lazy summer was a great way to decompress.

"What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God." - Eccl 3:9-13

Until Everyone Hears,

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Bumper Sticker Etiquette



Here at the K's house, we have a few random decals and magnets on our cars. I'm pretty sure we have a GT alumni window decal that cannot be seen because of the tinting (why did the engineering school make these so that they only go on from the inside of the car?). We have a Kedron Elementary school magnet and depending on the season we usually have a basketball, baseball or football magnets as well.

The only car flair that has been an issue at our home has been the recent addition of a Mary Kay decal. I recently signed up to join the pink bubble of legal pyramiding. I really needed the discount and the extra cash from these products that "really do sell themselves."

My husband took issue not with the pink bubble but with the car decal. He didn't want to be seen driving a car with that sticker. He thought it would be a mark against his man card.

I tried to explain to him that just by driving the crossover-minivan/suv he already had a mark on his man card but he wouldn't listen.

Then a few weeks later I met someone who asked if I sold Mary Kay. She had seen my sticker and needed to place an order.

He-who-shall-not-be-named-in-sermons has been quiet since them. I guess that the $6 I made off that transaction was the cost of him being okay with the window decal.

It is fun to make fun of other people's bumpers. I'm really not one to talk but I feel that there are a few bottom lines that one should follow when advertising on your car:

1) Make sure that your car flair agrees with each other. The COEXIST bumper sticker is great but not when teamed up with "Jesus died for you. Allah wants you to die for him." sticker.

2) If you want to brag about your child on the car, make sure you remove the stickers before they get their learners. By this time most of their brain cells are being used up on dating and school anxiety and they don't exactly seem like an "Honor Student" when they are out driving.

3) Political bumper stickers do have an expiration date. If you have a Vote Dukakis, sticker still on your car, please update it ASAP.

Just as God doesn't care as much about what you look like on the outside as he does what's going on inside of you, most motorists don't care what the outside of the car is displaying as much as if the driver is safe and will get out of his or her way.

If you have a snarky story about bumper stickers, I'd love to hear it.

Until Everyone Hears,

Monday, August 1, 2011

Snarky Comments Wanted!



School is starting! School is starting! That means I'm gearing up to start back at blogging. One of the things I learned this summer is that a lot of people read my blog but don't want to post comments because they think that "good" people read my blog and they don't want to offend anyone.

So I'll let you know right now... NO "GOOD" PEOPLE READ MY BLOG. I don't write for "good" people. If you want a blog for "good" people try Beth Moore or Joyce Meyer. If you want a blog with an author that tries to expound upon reality from her own warped perspective, then please continue reading.

Don't get me wrong. I believe that we are created in God's image which is "very good" (actual Bible quote). But when I use the word "good" in quotation marks, I'm referring to the perfect Christian people that have everything all figured out and the answers are God, Jesus and church.

I understand the dilemma. There have been many times that I have an amazing tweet or fb status and end up hitting the backspace key because it was a bit too snarky or pushed the limit a bit too far. I fear the Christian Coalition might have Rupert Murdoch wire tap me if I go too far with my words. But should that stop me? No!

So for all of my fellow snarky readers out there, this week of blogs is for you. Please comment as much as you want. You can post anonymously. But be warned: there is a difference between snarky and mean. I will use the power of delete if necessary.

What subjects should we use to get the comments rolling? How about the top ten things I've learned this summer. Comment as you see fit.

1) There really is such a things as middle child syndrome.
2) When you post updates about your health, suddenly everyone becomes a doctor.
3) Hard work, education, and experience do pay off but aren't always appreciated by everyone.
4) To a conservative, I'm a flaming liberal. To a liberal, I'm an immovable conservative.
5) Jorts are out of style for men. (I also learned what jorts are)
6) You can read a lot about a person's personality by their smile or lack of it.
7) Several people thought I was insane to take my kids on vacation by myself this summer. I wonder how those same people treat single moms?
8) Most of the time if I have geographical questions, I needn't google an answer. I just ask my 11 year old.
9) Either the family of God got much bigger this summer or my eyes were opened to more things that unite us.
10) I guess that anything that one is passionate about will get snarky comments no matter what as I proved this summer with Harry Potter and chocolate.

So I'm waiting...

Until Everyone Hears,

How to tell your story

Once upon a time... Everyone has a story. Some people know how to tell it. Others don’t. Sometimes the story gets spun in a new direction an...