Monthly Archives: April 2016

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The Shape of Sunday

by Rachel Scott

When I was a child, Sunday meant going to church and singing my heart out. After church, my family and I would head to my great grandparent’s farm in Carol County, Virginia to enjoy a meal around the table and an afternoon of play.  I remember riding the tire swing, running through the apple orchard, playing in the creek and picking grapes from the vine by the barn. We would ride horses, fetch water from the fresh spring, help my Granny Winesett in the kitchen, sit with her on the front porch swing and listen to her stories.

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Time seemed to stop on Sundays at Granny’s.  It was an afternoon when everyone came together. My great grandparents, Ed and Bernie Winesett, had seven children: Gerald, Eldon, Neil, Jane, Marcia, Boyd and Elizabeth (my grandmother).  My grandmother (the oldest child) and my father Jim (the oldest grandchild) both gave me the gift of knowing my great grandmother well into my thirties.  I had the privilege of talking with her, taking walks with her and learning how to kill, prepare and cook a chicken for dinner.  I had the privilege of loving her and knowing how deeply she loved me.  When I was a little girl, I sang “Just a swingin” at the top of my lungs, perched on top of her picnic table on Sunday afternoons. Later, I sang all of her favorite hymns over her and my family as we said goodbye to her in this life.

Sundays meant time with this incredible woman and time with my family. (My great grandfather Ed died in ‘84.)  My cousins, aunts and uncles gathered around the table to pray and to enjoy a good southern meal—the kind with biscuits, something that Granny had been cooking on her wood fire stove the night before, vegetables from the garden and my Aunt Linda’s famous éclairs for dessert.  I learned to love a good meal that always started with prayer and ended with stories from years past.  The stories Granny shared were funny, sad and shaped me into the woman I have become.  These stories and shaping came from this table, the porch swing and that beloved farm.

My parents, Jim and Terri, gave my sister Sarah and I the greatest gift as we spent our Sundays together with extended family.  My great grandmother told stories of her childhood and God’s faithfulness in providing for her family. God provided when she and my great grandfather married as young teenagers and moved to the mountains of West Virginia (where my grandmother was born) where he worked in the coal mines.  She told me stories of how they moved back to Virginia and built a farm and family in Carrol County. They made a place for their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren to return to on Sundays to sing, tell stories, work, play and remember.

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When I look back at those Sundays and the way they shaped me, I am grateful.  I am grateful for the simple rhythm of worshipping with my parents and sister, sharing a meal with my extended family and playing in the creek at the farm.  I can still sing the words to “Just a swingin,” and I can remember standing in the middle of her picnic table, smiling and laughing.  This woman who led her family with a quiet gracefulness from her kitchen, her farm and her heart, shaped me into a woman who remembers. I remember the place that shaped me—the place where I return to when my heart needs rest.  The place I remember when days were simpler and time seemed to stop.  Time with family was more important than anything else.  My parents knew that this place had blessed them, and they knew that if we spent enough time on the farm with this special woman and the rest of our family it would bless me too … They were right.

When you look back on your childhood is there someone who shaped you like my parents and great grandmother shaped me?  Maybe it’s a family friend, a place or memory.  What stories are you telling around your table that are shaping your children?  Your community?  What memories are you intentionally making that will shape your children and their children?  How do you remember those who have shaped you?

Rachel Scott is a singer, song writer, worship leader, lover of flip flops and a nonprofit leader who lives in Richmond, Virginia with her crazy Springer Spaniel, Diego Sanchez.  She leads, inspires and disciples young leaders and artists through the work of Spence Network: www.spencenetwork.org

 


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10 Reasons Why Growing Up in a Big Family is the Best

By Laura Shultz

As the oldest of six kids, I’ve learned a thing or two about the joy (and pain!) of having a big family. Looking back over my childhood, let me share just a couple reasons why growing up with a lot of siblings is basically the greatest thing ever.

1. It’s impossible to be bored or lonely, because with siblings, every day is a playdate!

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 2. Growing up with siblings really toughens you up.

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Ouch.

3. No one ever messes with you, because they know they’ll have to answer to your big brother or sister.

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As a big sibling, I know this well. I get to beat up on my little siblings, but if anyone else tries to, they’re going down!

4. You and your siblings have enough people to field your own kickball team.

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Which may, sometimes, end badly.

5. More kids = more birthdays. More birthdays = more cake. Need I say more?

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6. It’s scientifically proven* that your immune system is stronger, because you’ve already been exposed to so many germs.

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*Maybe not scientifically proven. But I’m convinced.

7. Laughs. SO MANY laughs.

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…usually, it’s because one of the kids farted at the dinner table. Only the finest of humor.

8. 15-passenger vans are the sweetest ride around.

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They see me rollin’, they hatin’…

9. You always have someone to catch you when you fall.

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Literally, and metaphorically!

10. Most importantly….the Bible says that children are a blessing from the Lord. And if, like me, you’ve been blessed to grow up with a whole brood of them, you’ll know that this is SO. TRUE. Sure, we fight and get on each others’ nerves. But we’re each other’s best friends, closest allies, and biggest supporters. And that’s an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

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Let Go and Let God

By Mindy Thomas
Mother of 9(!) in Texas

I love when things are neat and tidy. I enjoy a scrubbed kitchen, a freshly made bed, a pressed shirt, a new car that smells like leather, clean windows and door pulls, sparkling refrigerator shelves and clothes organized by color and style. These sights put a smile on my face and comfort in my heart.

You wouldn’t know this about me, however, if you walked into my house right now.

Nearly every room is filled with toys, clothes, books, papers, and pillows. Some of the beds are made; some are not. The clothes are out of order and piled high on shelves. The windows are full of fingerprints, the doors are covered in smudges and the walls have sticky handprints. The refrigerator has seen better days, and let’s just say I hope no one I know sees the inside of my big blue van right now. You see, the Lord had bigger plans for me than a neat, tidy life that would allow me to be comfortable in my own efforts. He knew I needed to be stretched, molded and shaped by more than a husband and a couple of kids. So He gave us nine of them. I now know that it’s almost impossible to keep life neat and tidy while raising and homeschooling nine children. I know because I’ve tried!

Mindy is a mom of nine kids!

With this many, it’s no wonder the house is a mess!

I’ve learned that God wants me to look to Him for comfort, to rest in Him when I’m weary, and to find peace in His work, promises and faithfulness. When the days end with clutter on the floor, dishes in the sink, and a mess in my heart, I know that it’s only in Him and through Him that I can accomplish His Kingdom purposes. He is faithful to answer my prayers for wisdom and strength when I am sure I have nothing left.

His promises are true. He is there when I have trouble with my teens or tiring toddlers. He is there when I struggle with patience, struggle to let go of the little things and struggle to let go of the mess, because that’s where He wants me… close to Him, loving and abiding in Him.

The mess is fleeting. The dirty refrigerator won’t make it to heaven, the messy walls will crumble and fall. But the time I have to teach my children God’s word and love them like the Lord loves them is far more precious than a neat and tidy life. And I know one day, when the mess is gone because my children are gone, I will actually miss the mess!

Is there something the Lord is asking you to let go and replace with Him?

“Trust in the Lord with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways submit to Him, and He will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33 NIV