The Friends and Family Plan

Our friends and families know us best. They can be brutally honest. They know the real us–strengths and weaknesses. This was even true for Jesus. Just take a look at the first miracle he ever performed:

Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus’ mother told him, “They’re just about out of wine.”

Jesus said, “Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.

She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”

Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants, “Fill the pots with water.” And they filled them to the brim.

“Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host,” Jesus said, and they did.

When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn’t know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!”

This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him. John 2:1-11 (The Message)

Sometimes our biggest leaps in growth as we endeavor to become more outward focus will occur when we stop, look and listen to how those closest to us perceive us. Recently my father was in town and he took my brother and I out for a steak dinner at an expensive restaurant. Over an after-dinner drink and cigar, my father and brother, agnostic on their best days and pagans on their worst, expressed something that broke my heart:

“You know, I thought this church thing would be just a fad with you. I am glad you stuck with it, it has made you a better person in the long run. What I still don’t get about you and all this God stuff, is why you seem to love strangers more than your own flesh and blood.”

Wow. I was dumbfounded. How do you respond to such a brutal observation? They were right and I knew it as both of them proceeded to tell me how it made them and the rest of the family feel when I seemed more concerned with serving and loving others rather than my own family. It was a type of intervention that could only be done by men smoking cigars. It was heart-wrenching, but quite true. I had slipped out into the dangerous rapids of the OUTFLOW lifestyle and did not realize it. I was grasping onto flotsam and jetsam of this world, any that passed by, rather than taking hold of things of value.

It has long been a secret torment to me that I have had smashing success at evangelism with people I don’t know, meanwhile just about my entire family resist all forms of God and despise anything religious. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. I would never lay a guilt trip on anyone about their ownership over their family’s salvation. In fact, I guess I am just thinking aloud here as I write this. I mean, if you are a regular reader of Serve! magazine, chances are you are an expert at servant evangelism. That raises a question though. How good are you at serving those closest to you? This month we are going to pause and consider this. There will not be any articles from me in this issue. Instead I am calling on wiser voices to address a serious need. How do you serve your friends and family–the people that know you best?

Here is what I do know. The bible passage above can be very helpful in this. Look at the interaction between Jesus and his mom. Maybe I am reading more into than is actually there, but I see two things in the subtext of the passage:

  • 1) Jesus seemed a bit perturbed at his mother being pushy and telling how and when do ministry.
  • 2) His mom did indeed know best. It was a very powerful miracle and seemed to solidify his disciples from a ragtag band of loose cannons into a cohesive team

So what can we learn from our families and the experience of serving them? Read the rest of this issue to learn from some of the best voices on the topic!

Home For Christmas By Camey Gravley

Parker

Back in the summer, our youngest son, Parker was going on a mission trip to Idaho. Our 11-year-old son couldn’t wait to go share about Jesus. I knew without a doubt, I was to go with him. Not to be the “expert” on the field so to speak, but to serve along side of him. Shortly after I decided to go, my husband, and two other sons jumped on board. It was our first time away together as a family in several years. I also knew my husband was going to hear clearly from God while in the mountains. And sure enough… his cell phone rang while on a mountain in Utah. While floating in the Payette River in Idaho during what seemed like some free time, God told me to get out of the boat. While in the water, I heard clearly that we moving. Today I write this from a much different place than in my previous articles for SERVE e’zine.

For many years our family had been praying for the next place and individuals we would serve. My husband and I already had planted deep within us a love for this place and these people long before we knew the details. In 2005, when we gave away or sold almost everything we were blessed to call ours, we weren’t sure how long that part of the journey was going to last. While we wouldn’t trade a moment of taking care of my parents and serving that town and community – not even the ones that hurt like heck, we knew we wouldn’t be walking in the outflow in staying. God saw to it that every detail was taken care -that included my mom marrying again and no longer needing us to live with her. So, back during Labor Day weekend, we filled up a moving truck and with tears and yet much excitement, made our way here. In the truck were many gifts that God saw to it were ours to take freely.

We are now in a tiny town in the panhandle area of Texas. My husband is the pastor of a church here. And I am no longer a paid staff member of a church but am able to stay at home without also being a caregiver for my parent(s) while inside her walls. This is a house that happens to be located directly across the street from our physical church building. And while this house is not necessarily ours in a sense that it belongs to the church -it is very much our home. And for the first time in many years, this mom can welcome her sons to invite friends over any time. It is not uncommon to find a teenage boy whose last name is not ours – opening our frig to get some sweet tea or checking out our dining room table to see what goodies I’ve baked up in the kitchen we’re having a blast in or sitting down to eat with us.

With my husband being the new pastor here, we received several invites for Thanksgiving. Invites from where we moved from came in as well even if it meant a quick trip. But my husband and I knew we were to stay at home. And for the first time in the 20 years we’ve been married, we celebrate Thanksgiving Day together in our home with our sons. We laughed. We played games. We ate pie for breakfast instead of waiting for whatever other guests to arrive and lunch had been devoured. I even wore my sweats and didn’t have on a stitch of makeup. We were simply chilled to the max and napped for hours. It was a very different Thanksgiving Day indeed for the 5 of us.

We are blessed in the fact that all three of our sons are not only Christ-followers but get what living in the outflow really is. But there are times when it is okay to say no. Yes, even for a new pastor and his family. And at 6:00 p.m. the doorbell rang. It was a teenage boy who has been spending much time at our home. Our sons could have said, “Send him away.” Instead, he was welcomed in like every other day. He sat on the couch with my husband and I while we were watching the movie CARS with Parker. And in a moment of sheer comfort he said, “Your house is the safest place for me to be.” This Wednesday night, he said he would be across the street with us too. Remember? Across the street from our home is where the physical church building is. Showing us yet again, one can serve their family in the outflow and catch others up in the wave of God’s love and kindness.

Now that the Christmas season is upon us, may we be reminded that in training up a child – sometimes the parents can learn a lesson or two along the way. Our family looks forward to the “Parsonage Open House” we’re having on December 20th. We’re baking up goodies not only for our own church peeps but will also be taking some along with baskets of food and everyday items to neighbors here in our new community. No doubt our favorite Christmas already! And December hasn’t even officially started yet!

We are praying for you daily as you seek His Kingdom first! Remember – those closest to you are paying attention even when you’ve taken your makeup off. And may you be home for Christmas!

Camey Gravely
Camey

Camey Gravley is an Unashamed Christ-follower and Lifestyle missionary.  Her passion is to help others notice God in the moments of every day life and living. Prayer of dangerous prayers too! It is her pleasure to serve others out of the outflow of God’s love!