Showing posts with label Ministry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ministry. Show all posts

Friday, September 25, 2015

Decade

The beginning of this month marked T E N years of ministry for us here in Tiny Town.  

A decade.

So much life has happened in ten years.  I can hardly wrap my head and heart around it.  


I've tried over and over to at least compose a post in my head about the past decade.  But I seem to get so far, and then decide that's not something I want to share.  And then I start from a new angle, and end up at the same point.  A bullet-point list of all I've learned seemed totally do-able.  But nothing.  And so I wait for the words to come.  And wait and wait and wait.  

This morning an Internet friend (Tracy) posted a link to a Beth Moore article and as I read it, I suddenly knew what the writers block was.  Me.


"The most basic one-word synonym for “disciple” is “learner.” Maybe you need to know today what I’ve needed to know so many days: learning, for a follower of Christ, is still a mark of discipleship even if you learned some lessons the hard way.
Or the excruciating way.
Or the embarrassing way.
Or the exasperating way.
Or the explosive, expensive or excessively long way.
If it attached you to the Teacher, if it marked you with Him and caused you at all to imitate Him, that’s the beating heart of discipleship."

I am overwhelmed with what God has done in me, this past decade.  Not through me, or because of me, but in me.  

And here's what God made me realize this morning:  "Learning, for a follower of Christ, is still a mark of discipleship even if you learned some lessons the hard way."

Early on in ministry, I would have defined "success" for myself as not failing.  I mean, I wouldn't have said that out-loud, but in my head, that would have at least been part of the definition.  In order to succeed, I needed to get most things right in most situations.  I'm the pastor's wife after all.   It only makes logical sense.  And I am, after all, l o g i c a l.  And I operated under this unspoken expectation of mine for many years.  

But God is different.  He works inside and outside of the logical.  

He took my "most things right in most situations" mentality and flipped it on me.   And I wondered why God would go and make a mess of things that I had WORKED SO HARD AT NOT MAKING A MESS OF?!?  And then the mess settled, and it became clear.  Sometimes a mess is required to make room for better.

And I learned something that I should have known logically, but didn't know practically.  God is glorified in the mess.  And He changes me in the mess.  In my mess.  I don't have to get it right all the time.  And it's in my failures that I grow in Him.  And that's all He really desires from me.  To grow closer to Him.  Everything else is an overflow from that.  I knew this to be true of other people, but my expectation for myself in my position had been different.  *God is not limited by me not getting it right all the time.*

Can I tell you something?  If you have a pastors wife in you life...let her mess up.  Allow her to disappoint you.   It's for your good, and your church's good.  When she doesn't say the thing you need to hear.  When she's not the friend you want or need...love her for that.  Because she's as messed up as you are.  And when you can see her that way, you give her freedom to grow into who God wants her to be.  And it's likely not what you want her to be...or what she wants to be (ha!) but it is most definitely what God wants.  I am thankful for people that have loved me in my messy.  

Here's what I've learned.  Successful ministry is not about the church always getting it right.  Or the pastor and his wife being the right people.  It's about disappointing each other and living and loving through it!  When a church can do that, God is glorified...and the impossible becomes possible through the unleashing of His power.  

I am so thankful for the people in our tiny church that have loved us through our learning/failing/loving process and who continue to walk this journey of faith with us.  I'm sure there are times when they've wondered if better options were out there.  I've wondered that for them.  But that's the beauty in it.  The coming and working together that would otherwise be impossible if not for God. 

It is a blessing to have been loved well these past ten years.  My prayer is that He continues to help me to love Him, and love others.  It's that simple.  All the good....that's Him.

John 13:35English Standard Version (ESV)

35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”



Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Whiny McWhinerson



I'm in the process of making a list for blog ideas for the next 31 days.  I have four things on it, soooo I'll keep working on that.

If you have any bright ideas, I'd be happy to consider them.  

I've spent a good portion of the day in the book of Jonah.  We are teaching our Bible Clubber's on Jonah for the month of October.  This year we are skipping curriculum in favor of teaching whatever we feel God's leading in regarding the kids we have.  It's cool to see God working.  

I was perusing Pinterest to come up with some extra word search pages and activities.  What I found was just a bunch of crafts about a whale.  And several lessons titled "Jonah Obeyed God."  So I went back and read the story for the 50th time.

I have to say, the point of Jonah is certainly not the whale.  Not by a long shot.  And you have to use a pretty loose term of "obeyed" to describe dear Jonah.  What I DO see, is God's grace on magnificent display in that little book of Jonah.  His grace chased after Jonah.  His grace saved the sailors, physically and spiritually.  His grace in the big fish.  His grace to the Ninevites.  And even his grace to pouty Jonah at the end of the story.  

I'm always annoyed by whiny Jonah.  Probably because I am Jonah.  God gives me *pretty clear* instructions and first chance I get, I dart the opposite direction.  And when He comes after me (which He always does, because: Grace) I like to play the martyr like dear Jonah.  Yet He still saves me.  And yes, there's people I don't want to share the gospel with because I know God is merciful, and yes it's because there are people I don't want Him to be merciful with.  I want justice for them.  And again...He redirects my heart.  Back to the gospel.  Back to mercy and grace and forgiveness that I did not deserve, and certainly didn't earn.  But receive over and over and over again.

But my heart doesn't always automatically go there, to grace.  It very often is automatically a Jonah.  God's grace amazes me.  I can't comprehend it, because it's the exact opposite of my own heart and nature.  

So, long story short:  There will be no whale crafts tonight at our Bible Club ;)


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Let's Catch Up...

Let's just sorta ignore the fact that I took a 3 1/2 month break from blogging, sound good?  I thought so.

Lot's has happened, and much has stayed the same.  Life is tricky like that. (but my love of run-on sentences is still strong. Sorry not sorry.)

Let's bullet for old times sake:


  • Lucy turned 4 in April.  Noah turned 13 in May. Jake turned 9 last week. Eli is still 11, but now has glasses.  
     
  • School is out and we are in full swing of Summer.  Which is actually as busy as the school year, but a different kind of busy so we are sucking-out every ounce of fun and warmth that it has to offer.  I did stay in bed til 8 this morning...so it's not that busy.
  • I am in week 1 of a 12 week training plan for my second half-marathon.  Last year I did a 20 week training plan.  Pffff.  Apparently I think 12 weeks is going to cut it this time.  We shall see.  I've likely deceived myself.  
  • I got my hair cut super short.  Pixie time.  So in the hair department, much has changed since last June.  It's super easy and super fun to have something different. And super easy.  (Super is such a great word, I love to over-use it.)  I am amazed at how many ladies tell me they would "love to do it, but just couldn't."  Umm:  Yes you can.  It's simple really.  1. Scroll through Pinterest for hours 2. Show your stylist the pic 3. Done.  Be brave people, you can do it.  (But don't tell your husband I said so...)
  •  I have leaned so much in the past 6 months about ministry and living life as a follower of Jesus.  So much.  And in the midst of it, it didn't seem appropriate to share...but now, I think it is.  It has required some bravery that I wasn't quite sure I was capable of.  And I'm not.  But Christ in me, is completely capable.  Different songs have become anthems for me.  Here's a link to one of them. 
  • Julie graduated college in May.  And part of her family came from Norway to visit and stay with us and they were so very lovely. And then she flew back to Norway.  *sob* And I miss her.  But she will be back.  (this is not necessarily confirmed, but nothing is impossible soooo it' s how I cope.  It's working.) 
  • Ok, so that's that.  

    I sat down at the computer yesterday and opened up a Word doc to write down some specific thoughts on something.  And the writing...it felt gooood.  Writing and running = good cheap therapy.  

    I haven't met anyone yet who couldn't use some of that. ;)

    So, my internet friends, what have you been up to?  *tapping the mic*  Beuller?  Beuller?  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Courage

I turned 36 on Monday.  I'm only a few days in to the thirty-six gig, but I gotta say: Lovin' it.

Thirty five was a good year.  It was a time of resetting-back-into-position. And although that's ultimately a good thing, the process of it is sometimes painful...and messy.  

Life has a way of getting out of order.  Suddenly non-important issues work their way up the priority scale.  And people and relationships of value slide down...because there's only room for so many at the top.  

It's amusing for me to look back.  I knew God was leading in the shake-up, but I obeyed so very timidly.  

People pleasing tendencies became exposed.  Unhealthy relationships became exposed.  I learned that dealing with both of  those, once you've allowed them to take root for awhile is...ugly.  I really don't have any other word for it.  Whenever we make changes in our lives, there is fall-out.  And usually it involves a mix of good and bad.  I wasn't quite prepared for the bad to be so bad.   

There were countless times I wanted to flee back into the false-comfort of my familiar old-way of operating.  So very many times.  And in that, God exposed my pride.  Again.  And even as I write this, part of me wants to flee back to the familiar.  To appease. To appease others to make them happier.  To shut them up.  Because it seems like a quick and easy fix.

And God is not into quick and easy.  Because quick and easy is dumb and useless.

So much of my year 35....my timid obedience of 35, was to prepare me for what He's calling me to in my 36th year of life.  And that is courage.

I  managed the obedience to the shake-up that was required, not without many mis-steps on my part, but now....this year, is about the courage to own them.

Courage to live loudly the gospel of Christ that brings hope, rather  than timidly hiding behind meaningless small-talk (which I abhor, by the way)

Courage to speak truth in love in the right moments, rather than nodding my head and smiling.  

Courage to have peace with the fact that in ministry and in life, people will be critical.  And harsh.  I need courage to love them rather than appease them.

Courage to write again.  To write hard instead of over-censoring so that no one reads into something wrongly.  If they do...they do.  Courage.

Courage to obey boldly, rather than timidly or begrudgingly. 

Courage to be me.  The me who God has created, who He wants me to be and not who anyone else thinks I am.  

There's so many other areas I need courage.  I can't begin to know what year 36 will hold...I know that God shows me just a tiny glimpse because it's all my feeble heart and mind can handle.  But I feel that courage He's planted, like a small spark growing.  I'm gonna screw it up sometimes. Without a doubt.  But courage to fail is another area that needs some growth...

Life really is a beautiful mess.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

I Pick Theme Songs...

Rend Collective had been one of my new favorites this summer.  It's on about every play list I have.  It's helped me kick it in on the last mile of every.single.run since June.  (I'm on week 12 of half-marathon training, so it's a lot of running. More on that laterish)

And now I've adopted it as my official theme song for the year.  For me, my family, our church...you name it.

I also now feel the need to take up the tambourine.  And I have some boys that would be happy to play the thing that guy is pounding on the ground. I'm not quite sure our church is ready for that.  We'll just practice in secret for now.

 And Ben is most definitely getting a bow tie this fall.  


Packed full of so much truth.  It really is my heart wrapped up in a song written by people much cooler than I.  

That is why music is so darn cool.





Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Where I'm At

I don't plan out blog posts.  Mostly because I want to be me...and I'm a procrastinator.  So whatever I'm writing about, is just me, where I'm at.  

This fall I have been teaching/leading three different areas of ministry within our little church.  We're little, which means most of the core group is serving in more than one area.  I often think maybe that's the reason some people avoid little churches...you're needed.  And life is busy, and the more I talk to people, the more I realize that each of us acknowledges each others busyness, but secretly, we think we're the busiest.  

And maybe we are.  And if that's true, then that's sad.  But busy is not the point of this post.  Digression.

Ministry is where I'm currently at.  

God has been messing with me in lots of different areas.  Which I'm planning to share with you over the next few days.  Frustrations, anger, complaining, people pleasing, fear of man...it's ugly.

Teaching spiritual stuff is so very good.  And so very hard.  And has been absolutely essential in my spiritual growth.  

It requires time.  And preparation.  And God wants me to get what I am teaching (that's where the hard part comes in.)  It requires commitment.  And prayer.  I can't decide I don't feel like going.  It requires putting other people above myself.  It requires inconvenience...which may be the very definition of servant hood.  It requires obedience.  It requires being held to a higher standard.  And for me, it's what God uses to change me, mold me.  

These three areas of ministry have not caused the "busy-ness" and hassle that you would think they should.  They're producing growth...and growth, in regard to myself, is almost always painful.  But in the end, it produces something so beautiful, not just for myself, but for those around me.  It boils down to this:  Jesus makes a difference in my life.  I want other people to know He can make a difference in theirs too.  And that makes all the requirements minuscule in comparison.

If you have never taught, or led in an area of ministry in your church:  You should.  Period.  And I don't mean greeting at the door, or working in the nursery once a month (those are great things, and still do those :) but I mean going beyond the ministry that just requires you to show up.  In fact, do it regularly.  Not constantly, but regularly.  Because in the end, what do our beliefs mean if we aren't willing to give of ourselves for His glory?

You will not learn enough, or grow enough by just showing up on Sunday or Wednesday or whatever day.  That's what your pastor wants to tell you, but can't because you're too busy telling him how busy you are.  Just kidding!...that's what his wife wants to tell you. ;)

Till tomorrow...or ten days from now.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

To My Ministry Friends...

To all the pastors wives and women in ministry:


(Sounds so formal...)


Here's a link to a online conference that I signed up for called JustONE.  It looks like I'm going to LOVE it.  And I think you might to.


If you sign up, and did I mention it's free, then let me know so I can "chat" with you about what you think of it.


Go check it out HERE for more information.


I'm all about learning from other ladies in the trenches.  Well sometimes ministry feels like the trenches.  And other times...an older gentleman in your church gives you a hard time about how dirty the inside of your crock pot is (because you brought it to mid-week church to make hot cocoa in for the Bible Club Kids and he cleaned up afterwards) but he's only teasing and you don't care because really someone SHOULD clean the thing.  But he ends up feeling guilty about it so at 8:15 PM the next evening he drops by a ginormous ham for your family...as a peace offering.  And I like ham.  Ministry is GOOD!


*please note, you should read that entire last paragraph in one breath, because that's how I would say it if we were chatting in person.*


Long live the run-on sentences!


Now go register...I hate going to things by myself.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hemorrhaging


Day 27, 28, 29, 30 & 31 of 31 Days of Happy


It's hard to believe that October is almost done, along with 31 Days of Happy.  Maybe I'll spend the month of November posting on all the things that do not make me happy.  HA.  Kidding, only kidding.  


It's a little tempting though.  


Back to happy...


One of the major things that has been on my happy list this month is the Bible study that our ladies are doing.


This one:




This is our third Beth Moore study.  They're all amazingly good...but this one...extra extra good.  

I keep going back through it to re-read what I've underlined, to rehearse what I've learned again and again.  (we're only on week 4 of 10) 


There's something Beth Moore says, in particular, that I just can't get out of my head.  


"Without God's intervention, we can offer only a small bandage to someone hemorrhaging from uncontrolled emotions.  We may bring calm for a moment, but our efforts will have little lasting effect."


It's a word picture that I can't get out of my head.  It's so very, very true.


Maybe it's because I'm in ministry...or maybe it's just because I'm an average person like everyone else, but so many around me are very literally hemorrhaging with problems.  With issues.  With emotions.  With life.  


Can you picture someone hemorrhaging?  I've heard stories.  It's not pretty. It's not a slow bleed.  It's fast, and furious, and messy.  If not stopped quickly, it means death.  The doctor doesn't have a patient hemorrhage, and decide the best course of action is a band-aid.


My words may be able to calm...for a moment.  Which is good.  But they do not fix the problem.  They are not meant to fix the problem.  


Only God's intervention brings healing.  He's the only thing strong enough to stop a hemorrhage.  So many times we want someone to give us the answer. Give us the 5 step plan, or better yet 3 steps...shorter is always better, right?  And when the person we go to, lets us down or doesn't have an answer, or can't even help, we lose hope or worse yet...give up.  We continue to hemorrhage.


Only God brings the healing.  And before the healing can start, He has to stop the hemorrhage.  The way He chooses to stop it, well...that's up to Him.   What's up to us, is whether we will let Him or not.


In my experience, there's a vast number of people that would rather die hemorrhaging than surrender and let Him intervene.  


And I don't get it.  I just don't.


But that little quote of hers...it's gotten to me.  And God's using it to remind me of who I am...which is just someone He uses to send encouragement and truth.  And who He is...which is the Healer.  He is a great-big God.    

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Lately...

A few weeks ago I complained about a nasty canker sore I had on the inside of my cheek.  It's long gone now, but I still can't help but think about it.


It hurt that bad.


In comparison to my body, it was minuscule in size.  The rest of my body felt just fine, in fact. Healthy as a horse.  Yet...it made my days miserable.  Especially one of the things I enjoy most...eating.


It's like that in life though, isn't it?  So many things to be thankful for.  So many good things happening, and all it takes is that one little thing to distract us from the rest.  To somehow make all the other great things suddenly seem less enjoyable.


It's like that in churches too.  Ask anyone who goes to a church and they can likely think of a situation they've experienced.  Maybe they enjoy so much about their church...but there's that one little thing they can't quite get over. Ask those in ministry and you'll likely receive a faint smile and shrug of the shoulders.  Either because they're doing all they can to hand over everyone's one little thing to their Savior who promises He has the shoulders to bear it...because they do not, or because although so many people in their church are faithful and encouraging and growing in their faith and are joyful...there's that one...


It was tough to ignore the canker sore.  Sometimes, I just decided I would not be able to enjoy food until it was gone.  Totally and completely gone.  


And other times, I resolved to eat things that didn't bother it so much...because really, one little canker sore surely cannot ruin everything...that would be ridiculous.


God's teaching me to {isolate} things.  To take captive the things that seek to destroy joy.  The things that distract me from Him.  And it's hard.  And it's constant.  Because isn't it true, there's always something.


Am I saying that people are sometimes like canker sores?  Yes.  Yes I am.  


Praying today that God helps me not to be that canker in someone else's life...and that I learn to not let the canker in my own life steal the joy from all He's doing...because He's doing some really amazing stuff.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

We Over-complicate Things...

Recently Ben and I have had the opportunity to do some pre-marital counseling with a couple.  It's our first time doing the entire counseling together.  After the first time we met with them, Ben and I looked at each other almost giddy with excitement.


Pre-marital counseling is fun.  Really fun.  Generally, we do more marriage counseling than pre-marriage...just because most of the people around us are already married.  Marriage counseling and fun rarely go together.  Most of the time is spent with two people not-feeling very loving and trying to convince the couple that they can, in fact, repair the damage that's been done...pre-marital counseling involves trying to equip two people head over heals in love,  to avoid the damage in the first place.  One couple is in the valley, and the other, at the top of the world.


In pre-marital you've got two people who are desperately in love, and blissfully hopeful about their future.  They're open to ideas, cautions, and plans.  They want to do whatever it's going to take to keep the loving feeling they have.  They're listening.


I like when people listen.  I especially like giving counsel to people who are actually listening.  As I look at ministry...from my perspective as the pastors wife, my hardest part in it is trying to minister to people who want answers, who want direction, who want to change...but most of the time they are not genuinely listening.  


It didn't take me long in ministry to realize that I was only going to offer advice or counsel when asked...and even then I'm not sure they're always hearing what I'm saying. ;)  


And through all the counseling...there's one lesson that God keeps pounding into my heart:  It is so, so much easier to avoid the pitfalls of life, than it is to get out of them.


It's true in marriage, and it's true in life.  


I think we make life more difficult than it needs to be sometimes.  Is life full of hard stuff?  Yep, for sure.  But do we add selfish over-dramatics to it as well?  Often.


I came across this verse this morning:  Micah 6:8  "The Lord has told you what is good.  He has told you what He wants from you:  Do what is right to other people.  Love being kind to others.  And live humbly, trusting your God."


Sounds like a pretty good verse to build a healthy, godly marriage and life on. Nothing fancy, nothing complicated...just a matter of doing.  That verse is going on my fridge.  Today.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Telling Myself No...

I've been thinking lately.

Deep thinking.  The kind of thinking that requires just too much effort to put into words.

The Bible has me thinking.

Books I'm reading have me thinking.

People around me have me thinking.

Ministry has me thinking.

See, lots of thinking going on.  Lot's of reflecting.  Evaluating.  Observing.  Analyzing.  Changing.

I just finished the book Made to Crave.  It deals with the food issue, yes, but it deals with other stuff on a different level as well.  I may or may not have copied down half the book in quotes because it just spoke to me.

A couple things in particular just won't let go.

She says, "It's not the "how to" I'm missing.  It's the "want to"...really wanting to make changes and deciding that the results of those changes are worth the sacrifice."

I'm not sure I've heard a more truer statement uttered.  It used to be that admitting you had a problem was the first step to overcoming.  From my experience in my own life and in ministry, admitting there's a problem is not difficult at all!  We're fully aware we've got issues, it's the willingness to do whatever it takes, for however long it takes, in whatever way God says that we find the issue with.

And...

1 Corinthians 10:23  Everything is permissible - but not everything is beneficial.

Seriously, read that again.

We live in a culture that doesn't like to tell ourselves "no."  And, from my own observations of myself, and those around me, it is no different in the Christian culture than it is in the world's.  Oh, we like to deceive ourselves into thinking it is.  We've made lists of all the really bad things one can do, and we try our best to stay away from them.  We give ourselves an invisible pat on the back for being such self-sacrificing people...but are we?

Who do we live for?  Who do we live to please?  Do we live as though we understand the truth of God's word when it says, Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial?  Do we seek out His wisdom on this?   Do we tell ourselves no?  Or do we justify?  Do we tell ourselves we deserve to indulge in whatever it is we choose?

I'm good at justification.  Really good.  Unfortunately, justification is really just a nice word for lying-to-myself.

I'm pretty good with excuses too.  And very good with lacking the "want to" in some areas, which I cleverly turn into "I just can't"  but really, "I'm just lazy."

And the past few weeks, I've become disgusted.  I'm not even sure disgusted is a strong enough word for it.  It's as if, through God's Word, the Holy Spirit has shown me the ways in which I've been deceiving myself...living as a slave to the whims of my flesh.

And I've had enough.  Enough justifying.  Enough laziness.  Enough excuses.  Enough of telling myself yes, when I should be telling myself no.  I'm tired  of it in myself, and honestly...I'm tired of it in people around me too.  Because it's enslaves each of us.  I can't make people "want to."  I can't.

But I can live as an example of one who surrenders my own will, and puts it in submission to my Heavenly Father's will for me.   I can tell you, that there is such joy and FREEDOM in saying no to myself.

Your issues are likely going to look different than mine.  Or maybe you have no issues at all *this is where I cough out the word denial under my breath*  But, because I haven't already disclosed enough to you...I'll give you the truth I'm now speaking to myself.  The little bit I like to call..

No Sarah...

You do not need so much sugar.
You are not  too tired to get your butt up and run.
You do not need a snack...or ten snacks.
You are not too busy to spend time with God.

You get the idea.

And if you have issues with food, or issues with telling yourself "no" when you need to, I whole heartedly recommend Made to Crave...and this is most definitely not a paid for recommendation ;)

Anyone else out there in desperate need of telling themselves NO?

Monday, May 3, 2010

Tangents

My real life is a lot like my blog. It goes in tangents. If you've read for very long, you've probably thought to yourself, "Dude, she beats a topic to death and then moves on to a new one...which she then proceeds to beat to death...and so on and so on..."

That old saying, Variety is the spice of life...may be true. I wouldn't know, I'm not good with variety. Or balance. I tend to focus on one thing at a time. Which is good for the one thing and not so good for everything else.

Lately, it's been pregnancy, baby Lucy, her three big brothers and the newness of being a family with four kiddos (which happens to feel pretty great:)

Ministry has taken a back burner for me. Which is ok and not ok at the same time. The ok part is the brief break I'm taking from my "official" ministry roles at church...other gifted individuals have stepped in and done wonderfully. But during Ben's sermon last night, he talked about our personal witness and ministry to those around us...the "unofficial" stuff...and I knew God was trying to get my attention.

The stuff like spending time in God's word and prayer...enough time to actually hear Him...not just opening it up and reading quickly here and there in order to make myself feel better that I actually opened it up *cough*

Being conscious again that my life, all of it, all the time is a witness to those around me. God has placed me right here. For a purpose. A purpose bigger than what I've boxed it into lately.

Of all the things in my life, the one that always always always needs to be my "tangent" is my relationship with Christ. Yet, sadly, it's often the first thing I push down the list. Every. Single. Time.

But amazingly, every single time...He quietly and gently calls me back. His love and patience with me astounds me. It really does. He doesn't need me. He is God, after all. But...He loves me enough to never let go. I don't know if I'll ever be able to wrap my head around that.

But I'm so thankful for it. And someday, I'd like to be that woman...that pastor's wife, the one who always keeps Christ first where He belongs...but until then, it's just me. Good thing He's not finished with me yet.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Going Dark

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My love for Jack Bauer and 24 runs deep...and wide. He has two key phrases that he says all the time.
  1. You have my word
  2. I'm going dark
Now, before I lose all of you who have no idea what I'm blabbing about, let me explain. When Jack says he's going dark, he means he's shutting his cell phone off, taking out the ear piece and getting the job done, without the input/help of his co-workers.

This week, I've had my own version of "going dark."

I mentioned a new book I received. I sat down this weekend and started it, and it didn't take long for me to realize that there was much that I know about being a pastors wife, mom, and friend that was not actually being played out in my life like I desire it to be. Not way off course, but just enough askew that I couldn't shake that feeling of being drained by people, no matter how much I tried to fill myself up in prayer and God's Word, at the end of the day I just felt sort of used-up.

I had to take a good hard look at my days, my relationships and focus to figure out where I was off course. In her book, Lisa quotes a motivational speaker, Jim Rohn who says, "You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with." And I thought to myself, how stinkin' true.

Ministry is tricky. Part of ministry is bearing one anothers burdens, listening, lending support. And when it rains, it pours. I'm not sure why it is, but it is. It seems like those around me are being hit hard right now. I'm thankful to be able to listen, yet when it's coming from all different directions...it's hard to shut it off.

I'm in no way saying I don't want people to come to me...it's not about them, it's about me being able to establish boundaries with the information. Sometimes it's nice to be the one people come to...yet sometimes, they're not meant to come to me.

I took some time to evaluate who my five are. Who are the people that I spend the most time with? Am I allowing it to drain me? Is it balanced the way God desires it to be?

The book also reminded me of my priorities, of my real ministry. I'd lost sight of that, without even realizing it. I'd made my ministry into listening and being there for people. It's not wrong, it's just gotten out of whack, thanks to me.

My first priority needs to be my time with Jesus. I need to be selfish about it. If I answer that phone before my time with Him, then I've just moved Him to less important than ministry.

My husband is next. As his wife, I get to be his biggest support. I help him far more in ministry by being a support to him and our kids, than I do by bearing other's burdens that were not mine to mess with in the first place.

My boys. Man I love them. And if I've spent every last bit of energy on others, they suffer the most...because my patience is just gone. They are the ministry God has given me. The disciplining, the encouraging, the homework, the meals...all of it. It sometimes feels like busywork...but it is God-ordained busywork for me. They are lives and souls that God has entrusted to me. Soon, there will be a baby here, and that is going to require me to dial it in even more. I need to guard my family.

And Julie...a teenager. Uffda. Julie just has 4 months left here with us. There's no doubt God ordained for her to be with our family while in America. Those late night talks, the tears over teenage stuff...she needs me. I need to have enough left to give her.

Extended family, friends and ministry are next. What I need to learn is that all of them are not meant for me to minister to. Discernment is key. Big time.

I guess all the babbling boils down to this: Sometimes, it's necessary to go dark. It's the only time I can hear my Savior softly speak. Otherwise, everyone else's voices tend to drown him out. Going dark is going to be something I implement on a regular basis from now on.

Monday, I will be doing a give-away for Lisa's book, You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes and sharing with you some more stuff that I just love, love, love about this book. And now that I've read it, I think it's a must read for everyone. If you are a pastors wife, it's fantastic, no matter how long you've been in ministry. If you go to church, you need to read it because I think it will help you see your pastors wife in a new way...human. ;) Heck, even if you know a pastors wife you need to read it. Everyone wins. :)

Come back Monday.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Upcoming Giveaway...

Can I just say that the de-lurking post blew. me. away!

83 comments and I didn't even give anything away. You made my day(s) and I'm going to start making the rounds to visit you. Yay for lurkers!

I do have a little preview of an upcoming give-away. Now, listen...I'm not giving it away yet...but it will be coming soon!

Lisa at The Preacher's Wife is going to be sending me her new book, You Can Still Wear Cute Shoes, that will be available February 1st!

Lisa's blog was one of the first I stumbled across when I began blogging. She runs the Married to the Ministry blogroll (which is a great way to find blogs written by wives of guys serving in all sorts of different ministry capacities.) As she was in the process of writing the book, she would occasionally put questions out there for ministry wives to share their opinions or experiences on. My opinions tend to outweigh my experience. But...

I'm even quoted in the book, during the round table discussions. I think that makes me a little bit famous. At least according to my low standards it does. Oooh...I could even give a copy to the tiny town library! Oh wait...I'm the only pastor's wife in tiny town. Three churches in town, one has a woman pastor, one has this pastor's wife, and the other doesn't even want to be called a church but rather an "assembly"...they don't like the term pastor either...I digress.

I had a point. The book, I'm quite sure, is going to be fantastic. And when it's available (February 1st) Lisa is gonna send me one to read, and one to give away.

YAY!

And I'm going to give it away to you. And if you're not a pastor's wife, you can give it to your pastor's wife and then you will be her favorite parishoner (I never use that term, by the way. In real life I would say "lady in her church.")

There is something you can do in the meantime. LifeWay has an excellent description of Lisa's book and a super fun giveaway for you to enter your pastor's wife into. I checked it out (no, I did not nominate myself...I promise) but it is SUPER easy to enter her into, and trust me people...your pastor's wife deserves it. For real.

Did I mention I'm quoted in the book?

Excuse me while I go let God deal with my pride issues...

Happy Monday!!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Just Between Us...

Just between you and me, I have get something off my chest....

The other day I heard some one say (about someone else's character) What's in the past, is in the past. It's a familiar saying, one which most of us like to believe is true...but the more life experience I gain, the more I realize that most of the time, what's in the past is most definitely not actually in the past, but very much in the present.

I've often heard Dr. Phil say something to the effect that the best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. I think he's right. Time alone does not fix our personality/character flaws. Time alone does not change us. Without genuine repentance and effort to be different, we are exactly who we were in the past. I don't think we do ourselves or anyone else any favors by leading them to believe otherwise.

I've often felt that changing myself was impossible. I've even more often thought that other people changing is impossible. And in ministry, you soon realize that many who say they've changed, have in fact not. And those who say they want to change are often telling the truth...however the hidden truth is that they don't want to do the work needed to change. Sounds depressing, no? Sometimes...it is. But there are those, those people who you see the change. They don't have to convince me, or anyone else because it radiates from them. It's visible. It's undeniable. They can say, I once was this and now I'm this. And no one disputes it.

That's when the past is truly in the past.



Friday, October 16, 2009

This Present Darkness...

On my way to take the boys to school today I was listening to our local Christian radio station. They were having people call in and share things they appreciated about their pastor because October is Pastor Appreciation Month. The other question they asked the callers had to do with any preconceived ideas they'd had about pastors or ministry before getting to know their pastor.

I laughed to myself. I'm the chief sinner when it comes to preconceived ideas about Pastors. It's likely why I was pretty sure I'd never EVER be a pastor's wife.

Ideas like:
  • All Pastor's ever think about is spiritual stuff.
  • They know the correct answer or action for every situation.
  • They don't understand what it's like to be a normal, average person.
Obviously I was quite the idiot.

But the whole thought process led me to think about my preconceived ideas about ministry, or in the very least the things I didn't fully understand back then.

The biggest eye-opener for me the past few months has been the aspect of spiritual warfare that goes on within church...not just the 4 walls, but within the people that make up that church. I expect a spiritual battle when dealing with those who do not worship the same God I do, what I did not expect was the battle that plays out among those professing a personal faith in Christ.

I picked up one of my favorite books of all times called This Present Darkness. Because I need a reminder of the battle that's raging. That what I see with my eyes is not all that is going on. And that the power of prayer is crucial in protecting my husband, my family, and others around me from some that seek to destroy them.

Have you read the book?
Any preconceived ideas about Pastors and ministry?
Any one else in a battle?

I'd love to hear your answers!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Little Bit of This, Little Bit of That...

Let me just say that I am a little jealous annoyed that it seems like everyone around me has turned into a fantastic photographer. Some of your blogs I visit and each and every time there is a perfect picture to match your post.

Barf. :)

For awhile I liked to just blame it on my camera...it's not fancy enough. But reality has settled in, and it is in fact not my camera but a certain someone named Sarah that operates the camera. It's not my gift. Reality hurts sometimes. As my friend Shanon would say...Buck-Up Barbie.

Plus, pathetically poor pictures are still entertaining, right?!? Good.


Here's a list of some of my favorite things lately:



1) God. Period. And this song in particular just keeps summing it up perfectly. "Even when I'm caught in the middle, of the storms of this life I won't turn back I know you are near. I will fear no evil, for my God is with me. And if my God is with me, whom then shall I fear?" So thankful He never lets go of me...


2) My husband. Watching him love the flock God has entrusted to him is something I can't quite explain. Thankful for the new understanding I have of Pastor's and their calling. Praying each church goer everywhere understands the love and burden their pastor feels for them...he's fighting for you, and he's on your side. Love him, and lift him up in prayer.


3) Believers that I can go to who encourage and offer support and prayer. Over the big stuff and the trivial.


4)




I got his little doohickey at a Scentsy party. It plugs into the wall and you put these little scented wax squares in the top of it and it makes the whole house smell yummy! Genius.


5)

I can't get blogger to flip this picture...imagine that. Our Ladies Bible Study is in week three of this study. Words cannot express how much I love it. Love it, love it, love it.


6)




I bought these magnets in the dollar bin at Target. Makes me smile every time I go to the fridge...so quite often.




7)




Fake pumpkins and gourds that I cannot kill.


There are also a few things I am not loving...



1) The house goes from picked up to disaster in about 3.2 seconds. If I could just learn how to function well in mess then I would be set. Instead, I start to feel claustrophobic and get crabby.




Exhibit A:




Exhibit B: Their version of picking it up.





About three articles of clothing in that pile are actually dirty.


2)



The stuff that used to be piled in baskets on the desk, until I walked past it this morning and my hips knocked it all on the floor.


I guess I've avoided the mess for long enough...better get at it. You can bet I'm gonna be listening to this song while


getting the job done. If I only had a tambourine... *wink*



Happy Thursday!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Emptying My Head...

It's been one of those weeks where there is something going on every day/night.  That pretty much sums up the month of May around here.

I have learned a thing or two this week though:

Monday:  Noah and Eli had a Spring Music Concert for school.  Jake was still not feeling great, but this could not be missed...so like any good mother I hauled him along and spread the germs around some more *sorry to the peeps of tiny town*  Anyways, I had an idea that turned out to be GENIUS.  Can I say that without sounding arrogant?  ;)    I downloaded an episode of Spongebob and Fragel Rock on my ipod and brought along the the headphones...it completely entertained him!  

Do you think it would be inappropriate to take it to church on Sundays in order to keep him quiet?  I'm kidding...KIDDING...sort of ;)

Last night was our final night of Kids Bible Club for the school year.  It was really a fantastic year...and it will be a fantastic break this summer too :)  It was supposed to start at 7 Pm.  I had about 10 kids here by 6:15 PM...they were a little bit excited.  We cooked up 100 hot dogs for the occasion...they ate them ALL.  Yeah.  There were somewhere between 40-50 kiddos...no one could get a good head count because they were constantly moving.  It was overwhelming (in a good way) to listen to them sing in worship to God.  This is our third year of Bible Club, never did I imagine it would become what it is, and I look forward to what God has planned for it in the future.  He reveals the details to me  on a need to know basis :)

Friday night is a mother/daughter thing at a cute little tea room.  It involves dessert...and coffee.   Need I say more.

Saturday is a 4 mile race...remember this?  It's a fun one.  Never mind that I haven't run yet this week because of sickness...oh well.  Gonna try to get a run in tonight after a community meeting where they value my opinion.  Ha.  

Did I mention I ran SIX miles last Saturday WITHOUT WALKING.  I know.  I KNOW!  That's the longest I've ever run at one time...and it felt good...and bad...like that song Hurts So Good :)
Billie and I were beyond excited with ourselves.  The idea of running 7 more miles on top of that for a 1/2 mary sounds nearly impossible, but we've got all summer yet to train...we'll get there...or die trying.  

And that there is enough blabbing for one post...until tomorrow my friends...

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Got Me Thinking...

I've been thinking a little lately about Pastor's wives.  As you already know, I sometimes find things funny that normal people would not think are funny.

Here's what I think is funny (and I will proceed to explain it to you in a way that butchers it and makes it un-funny...what can I say, it's a gift I have)...

So, in every church I've been a part of, the Pastor's wife is usually called upon to give devotionals at the "ladies get-togethers"  Oh you know what I'm talking about, bridal showers, baby showers, mother/daughter teas,  camp retreats etc.   Sometimes it's the pastor's wife of the actual church represented, or other times it's one from a neighboring church (of the same denomination of course *cough*)

I have a theory:  I think there are two lists that are out there regarding speaking engagements.  Because, somehow, becoming a pastors wife automatically qualifies you to give devotionals.  And when you do become a pastor's wife they put your name on one of the two lists.  They are as follows:

  1. The Pastor's wife who is wise, soft spoken, experienced, well spoken, all around not going to say something crazy, well known by other churches because she faithfully attends all local, regional and state meetings. Her resume is good. 
  2. The Pastor's wife who, although very sweet, is a tad unpredictable.   She hides out from many of the "meetings" hoping to  forever remain the "new girl" that no one in the association knows by name.   Her resume is a little "iffy" ...and she sometimes finds things funny that are not meant to be funny ;)
Guess which list I'm on?  *smile*  The truth is, no one put me on a list, I choose which list.

Neither list is right or wrong, they're both good...just different.  Different according to what God has called us to.  I like list 2.  For me, it's freedom...freedom to be who I am in Christ.  For those on list 1, it's freedom too, because it's what they're called to. Different but the same.  Make sense?

As women, we're called to different things in different seasons of our lives.  Let's be comfortable in what He's called us to, and let's encourage those who are called to something different than us.

I received an email recently that challenged me to really dig into what it means, as a woman, to intimately know Christ.  I came across this passage by T.D. Jakes in the book The Lady, Her Lover, and Her Lord...He says, 

 "Once a woman understands that Christ is her goal, she seems able to focus on Him, allure Him, and entertain Him with a level of praise that is so engrossing that she is healed by His touch and fulfilled by His Word.  I have seen women who were so impacted by His invisible presence that they were able to walk away from the presence of others who were far more tangible, but far less effective."

That's what I want.  That's the place I'm called to be.  Good stuff.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Oh How I Like Them...

Let's talk about ministry today.

One of my most favorite things about blogging never even makes it to the blog...it's the emails.  I love them.  I think, in part, it's because it means that something I've written actually made sense to someone.  It connected.    

They all usually start out the same.  Dear Sarah, my name is so and so, and I know you don't know who I am...or I hope I'm not bothering you....I know you're busy but...

I chuckle every time.  If they only knew how much I love getting their email...and how un-busy I can make myself ;)  

They almost always involve women who've been reading my blog but not commenting.  Generally, they're either in ministry or heading there, sometimes to a tiny town and they've found relief that there's someone else out there living it too...and actually enjoying it.   I think the fact that I'm a little quirky makes them feel  better too...if God can use me, then He can certainly use them!  

There's some things that I've shared with them, that I'd like to share with you. It's of course, a random list...and my "wisdom" is completely and utterly limited beyond measure.  Am I clear?  I still consider myself a "newbie"...I've only officially been a pastor's wife for 3 years and 7 months, it hardly qualifies me for anything, except to encourage.  It's also stuff I'm reminding myself of...constantly.

  • Be who God wants you to be.  This is generally a better version of who we know we are and completely different than what people think we should be.  Don't fight Him on this one...He knows what He's doing.
  • Love them.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  Believe people like you and are happy with you unless and until they tell you differently.  It's easier to love on people you think like you.  If you're constantly paranoid of what they think, you'll resent them and make yourself miserable.
  • Priorities.  God first, family, then ministry.  If things stay in that order our life works.  Whenever it gets mixed up, and it does, I end up resenting one...or more.  
  • Find some good friends, and your closest confidants should be outside your church...for everyone's well being.
  • Try not to be annoyed when people act as though you're waiting for a bigger church to come along.  As if you're biding your time, gaining experience so that when the time comes you can move "up."  As though a tiny church would surely not be your first choice.  Resist the urge to lecture them...and refrain from using the phrase let them wallow in their own stupidity, when referring to said people.  (Ok, so maybe this one's just for me ;)
  • Smile and laugh.  A lot.  I like people who smile a lot.  Who doesn't?!?  Be friendly.
  • Be comfortable knowing you are not all things to all people.  You are not supposed to be.
  • Be in His Word.  Be filled with it.  Or you will run dry.  And when you have nothing left to give...resentment once again rears its ugly head, and you'll want to quit.  Because aside from Him, we have nothing to give in the first place.
  • Remember it's not supposed to be easy.  
  • Remember who you  serve.  Remember who called you to it.  
  • Enjoy it.  It's what God has designed and planned for you to do.

Some other emails have been about running...more on that tomorrow :)


Did I mention I like emails?  Thought so.