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Toward Bethlehem

Last night I had the incredible privilege to watch teenagers and kids lead a night of worship on our farm…

At first glance—you might assume these are just kids layered in robes and wings acting out a scene…Christmas hymns being sung and hot chocolate warming the crowd. At first glance—it is all of these things.

But as the one who knows these little friends and their families personally—I can barely make it through the evening without a lump in my throat knowing all He has done…believing in hope all He will do through the layers of those walking to Bethlehem.

I think about those coming—in this day and age our culture tells us to hustle and life fills our calendars often with watching others perform rather than stepping into deep worship with our community and simple saying we need each other. Truly community is a gift from the Lord He has given us for our walk to Bethlehem.

Because you see—really that’s where each of us…deep in our hearts knows is the direction we want to walk in…toward Jesus…where He ALREADY is and to simply join Him in all of His glory.

 

We live in a culture full of pictures posted…some times telling us what our deal should look like, but when we ask the question: “What direction does that path take me?”—maybe the answer isn’t always to Bethlehem.

Sweet friends—THAT is direction we are asked to walk in. Those also going in toward Jesus… “in the Bethlehem direction” are the people you need to look for AND follow AND encourage to trail blaze behind you when they are tired or forget the way. Some of us might have to pitch tents in different places in different seasons, but the direction should all really point the same.

At first glance our nativity might have looked like children without a care with visions of sugar plums—but each of us carries much on our way there. When we live deeply with community we start to not only know one another’s stories but to show up and caravan together reminding one another to keep going no matter what. There will be times you literally have to pick each other up—maybe even times you let things go from your loss so you can even carry another. This is what going to Bethlehem looks like. And it is such a sweet reminder this Christmas to just keep going.

Last night’s nativity was full of stories that ask us to keep walking toward Bethlehem together too. Our nativity isn’t normal if there ever was such a thing. Mary isn’t holding baby Jesus in our nativity because the angel has cared for him since his birth. Foster care will soon send this brave one home trusting Jesus and His angels to keep caring for him. So I had to smile as I watched the angel carry him in instead of Mary and care for him throughout the night. Angels will guard him.

One of our precious singer’s lost her grandfather hours before she sang last night. I asked her precious mom if she was sure her dear one wanted to lead worship. Her response was that she had been disappointed her grandfather was too sick to come to hear her lead—and now he would watch from heaven with real angels joining in! She wouldn’t miss it for the world! Wow. Amazing to think he is celebrating Jesus face to face!

Our precious brave wisemen led the donkeys—because well let me first blow your mind for a moment and tell you historically wisemen most likely were not on camels anyway nor was Jesus a baby when they finally arrived. Things aren’t always what they seem are they? And these sweet boys leading the donkeys in have each seen a parent bravely into the arms of Jesus—now are walking together arm and arm as friends toward Jesus too. I have had the privilege watching their hearts bravely lead with compassion for the world around them. No one else could pull the strength of the donkeys who sense their confidence, and those boys nurtured crowd fearing equine because they are strong. I see them rising and continuing to point friends and all those who know them toward Bethlehem. I was so proud.

The other girls leading have also known family loss in the recent year—and they keep walking and even finding deep JOY as they look up. I could recognize each of their giggles with my eyes closed.

More than half the shepherds were born in different countries—and they bravely learned a new language and family in recent years. As I listening to each grab the mic and recite their appointed verses in scripture of Luke 2–I couldn’t help but remember also how FAR each of them have already come. Each of them now in families also walking in the direction of Bethlehem.

Their stories remind me full redemption doesn’t happen until we see Jesus face to face BUT there are miracles, hope and healing every day along our way. We can’t forget on this journey how far we have already come with His hand guiding us—and to keep walking trusting Him to carry us.

Mans community. We need each other. It some times takes a bit to find the community of believers we will caravan to Bethlehem with. Some times the community changes a bit as different friends stake their tents in places needing to grow, rest or stay longer. Others we will travel the long haul beside.

But the biggest thing of all—last night reminded me that we don’t have to ever travel this beautiful journey alone. He just calls us to come, to be faithful followers and to keep walking toward Him…to Bethlehem.

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Merry Christmas from our family to yours…

Its been a sweet season on the farm. Just a little update…

We have thoroughly enjoyed this year with the new barn. Richard hosts small group on Monday mornings, my group meets on Tuesdays and I have 16 sweet middle school girls every Wednesday there. We had a half court poured and started a high school age basketball team (Go Pacers!) who practice on the court 2x a week. The weekend are always filled with football watching or a gathering of some sort for our kids.

Last year the barn was just being built so it’s been fun having it for the holiday season! We will host along with the Barn Gathering girls on Sunday, December 15th worship night on the farm. All are welcome!

Im hoping 2020 brings more pauses for writing again, but I’m so thankful for this busy, sweet season where our YES’s to the Lord bring fullness and so much joy. May your lives be overflowing as you seek and follow Him this Christmas and always.

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A Word on Encouragement

Sometimes the sermon notes at church are so strong and good you post them to keep and find easily later. Be ENCOURAGED with these words on Encouragement!

From Crawford Loritt’s sermon at Fellowship Bible in Roswell today…

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

What is encouragement?

Discouraged = wind knocked out of sails

Depression = loss of hope

People need encouragement like a plant needs water. “If you are breathing you need encouragement.”—Truett Cathy

Encouragement- means to inspire with courage – to stimulate and spur on.

Anyone who tries to just sit with you in your discouragement and explain it—without lifting you up is feeding it. We are to inspire others and point them to God’s Words and champion them to RISE.

Why we need encouragement…

1. Life is unpredictable.

2. We lose perspective. (When you stop responding and start REACTING—perspective has been lost.)

3. We were made for relationship, and we are out of relationship with others. COMMUNITY. We were born for community. When you are hurting you do NOT need to be by yourself. Community helps you with perspective. The WORST thing you can ever do when you are hurting is pull back from community.

4. There are seasons in your life when things are difficult, and it must be weathered. If you are following Jesus you will be in the midst of spiritual warfare. Out of your struggle will come your strength.

5. The environment in which we live is polarized filled with reaction, criticism and negativity. (Devices and social media has made everyone’s negativity available around the clock. Do not post criticism and negativity if you were called to be a blessing. If you want to be a prophet you better be 💯 right before you attach Jesus to your public opinions.)

Ann Murray “A Little Good News Today” lyrics https://www.songfacts.com/lyrics/anne-murray/a-little-good-news We need a good word.

The reason so many of us struggle with depression is we have been bombarded with the darkness.

There are 4 great Biblical reasons why we need encouragement…

1.Because we need endurance and hope (Romans 15:4) WHERE does our Hope really come from? Our rock solid confidence is from endurance and confidence in the scriptures.

Hebrews 12:1-4 run with ENDURANCE / Endurance is a source not just a process. Remember what He has taken you through already and get up and rise again. 🙌🏾 The source of your courage is not more ideas. It’s not EMPTY words from some friend who has similar experiences. It is from THE BOOK THE PROMISES OF GOD WASHING YOUR SOUL. Amen.🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

2.Because we need to be strengthened in our faith. God isn’t going to shield us from pain bc He wants to strengthen our faith. Encourage. Build. Encourage. Build.

We need ongoing encouragement to be built up in our faith. Stay away from Christians who denounce pain. God never will tell us to deny the reality of a situation. Faith doesn’t deny the opposition but defies the opposition. Faith sees God as greater than and greater still. 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

You will never have a strong faith until you have been extremely and devastatingly disappointed. Faith affirms God’s ability and power to stand on the promises of His Word. God is more concerned about our character than our comfort. He wants our faith to be real. It doesn’t end well when you take your eye off the ball.

Talk to Elijah in King’s about that. In ch19 Elijah is worn out. He is discouraged—and he refuses to let God encourage him. You can get so used to self pity that it becomes normal.

3.We need to have pure, hopeful and responsive ❤️ hearts.

Life is not about you. Pray for your children to have responsive hearts—not to be cold and callous. No one ever sins privately. Our private sin has public repercussions. You can’t live in sin and not respond to God and ask Him to bless you. God is gonna let things take place until you cry uncle🙌🏾👊🏾

Repentance removes the darkness and it’s why Paul says we need to have pure ❤️ hearts.

3.We are called to reflect the honor and glory of God. The reason we are here is not for God to come alongside us and do what we want Him to do but bc every moment and circumstance in our life is to bring glory to God. Our plans need to be written in pencil. The END GAME is the glory of God 🙌🏾👊🏾

Ask yourself this—in the midst of this difficult and dark time—WHO and WHAT are you focusing on?

Find people who lift you up and who rise up–as run together🙌🏾

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

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Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday.

Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Today you will most likely hear teachers of the Word talk about Jesus coming into Holy Week on a donkey. In all my years of farm living I’ve YET to hear a pastor explain to the people WHY this is so mind boggling. It usually goes something like this based on pretty words from research books about the significance of a donkey being poor and humble and meek…then they move on.

And every time I want to hit my head on a wall. Preach a sermon on the poor? Go spend years living with poor and your perspective on the scripture on the poor changes. The significance of a donkey? All the donkey owners are blown away with this verse…And Jesus spoke (Mk.11)

“saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.”

My friends. Have you ever spent some time with an untrained donkey colt? Have you ever untied an untrained donkey colt that someone has tied to a tree (I promise you this—an untrained colt colt tied to a tree is what we call a ticked off donkey tied to a tree!)—and tried to take him just 2 feet after untying him? You KNOW what happens after you untie a colt from a tree don’t you? You donkey owners are DYING HERE. After he gets done bucking—you know what is forelegs are doing already right? Locked. Loaded. And ain’t going NO WHERE.

Up the game folks. Have you ever tried to get him to walk toward another person let alone a crowd? Ain’t happening. What about a crowd of cheering people? This is like insane friends. Let’s up the game a little more here—do you know what would happen if you took an untrained colt and just put a blanket on his back? DYING y’all.

Jesus said get a colt which has never been ridden and bring him to me.

Symbolism of poor? Humble? Meek? Missing it?

Y’all. If your pastor misses this part of the miracle—you have got to extend the invitation to come out to the Young Family Farm ASAP and let me give him a VERY simple instruction to go get that untrained colt in my back pasture and JUST bring him to me. I won’t ask him to bring him through a crowd. I won’t ask him to keep him calm through aisles of people waving palm branches or screaming. I certainly won’t risk your pastor’s life so I wouldn’t dare ask him to attempt riding on his back. Gracious no!

I’m 99% sure this has far less with being symbolic of poverty and I’m 💯certain the people here were amazed and as mind-blown as I am because during this time everyone knew this…riding an untrained, unridden colt in a loud space with branches coming toward him was IMPOSSIBLE. If Jesus was trying to show them just poor and humble he would have simply walked himself through the crowd. But He wanted to show them IMPOSSIBLE. Have you ever waved a plastic bag around a donkey colt because that’s pretty close to the sound palm branches make? Try doing that at the next donkey farm you visit and the owner might pop you over the head for trying to spook his colts.

Oh but gracious. The King of Kings was a miracle maker.

“Go to the village ahead of you, and just as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here.”

YEAH RIGHT😂😂😂

And just like that the colt came.

“When they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, he sat on it. Many people spread their cloaks on the road, while others spread branches they had cut in the fields. Those who went ahead and those who followed shouted,

“Hosanna!”
“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”
“Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!”
“Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

He got on him and rode him. Miraculous. Calmly. A donkey—especially a colt—is anything but MEEK. Gracious no. But to the King. The donkey was meek. An UNBROKEN donkey is never in a million years meek. But something about meeting the Savior instantly broke him—in a way those of us who know Him can’t explain it either. And that colt took him closer to the cross.

As you enter into Palm Sunday and the Holy Week ask Him to take you closer to the cross. If He can take a colt—nothing is too much, too hard, too far gone, too impossible for Him. My gracious He loves you. This impossible ride was for YOU. May you know this King who makes the impossible possible. He can walk with you toward ANYTHING and conquer it FOR YOU. Don’t miss the miracle. He wants to do them over and over in your life. Trusting Him with you.

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Cherokee County Building Inspections – Not for the faint of heart.

Y’all. Oh my gracious. The barn build on The Young Family Farm continues…but we live in Cherokee County (not to be confused with North Carolina or Texas’ Cherokee County)…Georgia–y’all where it’s no joke to deal with the county’s building department. I want a place to do all the projects–to store all the things–to have a little get away from the crazy in the crazy. But if you really want crazy–move to Cherokee County Georgia and try to build a shed or barn folks. I’m wondering at this point if I can even build a dog house without getting Congress involved;) So welcome to the fun of a small build in Cherokee County where even a unknowing construction guy with a cigarette on a roof can slow down all the things and the inspectors throw flags faster than refs in the last 5 seconds of SEC championship.

I submitted the basically basic form that was holding up all the things (checked the residential box and not commercial because er’body just wants dibs of the money if you were to be making it…which we just like to pour out instead here;). But just in case they need more, I included this letter of intent for all the details;) After all–a week delay putting hard working guys out of work twiddling their thumbs waiting for approval leaves you with lots of extra words right? I don’t cuss or smoke so writing will have to suffice here folks…getting crazy up in here;)

December 28, 2018

Building permit people and all the flag holders–please and thank you.

Fire Marshall at Cherokee County, Inspectors and the Inspectors of the Inspectors

1130 Bluffs Pkwy, Canton, GA 30144

Dear All the People:

The inspector asked us to write a letter of intent for what our barn will be used for after one of the construction roofer men on roof nailing things guessed what we could use the barn for. The man with a cigarette guessed it would be used for weddings which sent the inspector into a complete lock down waving all the flags. Our garage was turned into a living room by the former owner so we have no where to store my tools or even myself when I need to be stored away. With 6 children and my obsession with HGTV, it gets very dusty in our basement when I do crafts (table saws create a snowstorm of dust mind you). When I want to just sit in quiet with my friends–we are getting very wet in the pasture with no cover. I plan to use our new barn/garage for storing crafts, storing things like weed eater and other landscaping, bikes for our 6 kids, and some times myself and my mom friends.

We will not be having events, running an event facility or starting a business or anything like that. I mean–6 kids people–that’s about all the event I can handle. With 6 kids even breakfast at our house feels like an event. I personally will use the barn to some times hide from my children and to get a breath of fresh air before coming back across the pasture to be a mom to many ranging from 2 to 14–which means once I walk back in our door I do everything from potty training to reminding even 14 year olds to flush the toilet. I think there was some question about why I have a bathroom both inside the barn and outside the barn if this isn’t going to be used for weddings. To be honest some times I wish I had it together enough to host quiet events with Canon in D by Pachelbel magically playing for potty trained and clean people. However, the indoor bathroom…for the love–is MINE. All mine. The outdoor toilet–it’s for the muddy children who don’t know how to wipe and will leave me guessing…is that mud? That outside toilet isn’t for wedding guests–no sir. It will be for the stinky, sweaty boys who need to work it out on their new half basketball court for our boys–because I have 4. Maybe they will let the girls play–but I can assure you the girls won’t be using that outside toilet too.

The main intent of the barn sir–is MY sanity but I do hope to share it at some point with my children. While it won’t be used for weddings–I do hope my children one day to get married and fly the coop—and maybe even right here–who knows but right now I’m just hoping they all can one day do their own laundry and love each other. And should they want to move in our basement or the barn for long term stay I might need to write more than just a letter of intent;). In that case I’ll be selling the farm and moving to Florida-I might even need a drag of that guy’s cigarette on the way. 

Respectfully but very tired,

Andrea Young

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