4 things to the Woman still waiting to be a Mom:

To the desiring woman still waiting to be Mom,

It’s hard, isn’t it? Still waiting. Hoping that this would be the Mother’s Day you celebrate as a Mother with a child in her arms. While you’re still hanging on to hope and know God has a plan there’s still a deep ache inside your heart. And you wonder if you can make it to Sunday morning service where all the Mother’s are recognized. The oldest, the youngest – if it’s like our church there will even be some sassy and fun categories that you can’t help but laugh at. The prizes of course are fun to win and you’re happy for your friends. But you still wish it could be you this year.

I have some words for you based on real life personal experience.

God has not forgotten you. He is working out a plan for you that is far better than you can possibly know. It doesn’t feel like it but it’s true. One day you’ll be encouraging others with the same words as you look back and see all that God was doing while you were waiting.

A few things to consider during your wait:

It’s okay if you cry. I didn’t do this well. I hid my tears many times and felt like if I cried that I was in essence saying God wasn’t enough for me. And that is so far from the truth. One year on Mother’s Day – soon after a failed IVF cycle –  we celebrated Mother’s Day at my Mom and Dad’s house with all our family. As soon as we got to their subdivision the tears starting welling up. I held them in all morning at church. But as soon as we pulled in they gushed. I asked Randy to back out of the driveway and do circles until I could pull myself together. And of course the guys don’t know what to do with us when we cry and it’s just all around awkward. But looking back I wish I had been more willing to cry openly.

 Don’t beat yourself up if you simply can’t make it to church on Mother’s Day. I know this goes against the grain of so many in my former circles of friends. You just don’t miss church – like ever. I never missed a Mother’s Day due to these reasons (probably more out of pride than anything) but going back I’d give myself more grace. One young woman struggling with infertility called me up one year and explained her struggle and how she didn’t think she could sit through a service that coming Mother’s Day Sunday but she was feeling very guilty about it. I told her to stay home and don’t feel bad. You’re not a wimp if you need to sit Mother’s Day Sunday out because the pain is so great. Not everyone needs to do this but if you do – don’t feel bad!

 Keep a journal. If you’re waiting on a baby through pregnancy or adoption start your journal right now. Include specific prayers and ask God to show you Bible verses for your child. Record these things because when you look back a few years down the road you will be amazed at all the things God was doing behind the scenes – on the Mother’s Day when you sat holding back the tears; on the days you looked at yet another negative pregnancy test. God was working through all of that to accomplish something greater. You may not see all of it but you I promise that you will clearly see traces of it if you start recording and then look back.

Don’t totally roll your eyes when someone says, “But you can still be a Spiritual Mother.” (Spiritual Mothering could be defined as bringing one under your arm through discipleship.) A little eye roll, yes. Because I get it – and you get it – Spiritual Mothering is great and all that but you still really want to be a physical Mother with baby hanging on hipster hip. But don’t let this baby wait distract you from why you’re here on this earth. It’s to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ. So keep praying and asking for God to work his way in what Motherhood looks like for you but don’t dismiss Spiritual Mothering – bringing others under your arm of discipleship – it’s not second class Mothering.

Lord, for my friends still waiting – let them know you aren’t waiting. You are actually working a plan you have for them. Help them to trust you in this process. To cry when they need to cry. To cling to scripture and record their heart’s cry so they can one day look back. In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

When the healing doesn’t come

I’m in a small group Bible Study and we’re working through Jennifer Rothschild’s study called “Missing Pieces” and it’s so very good.

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Jennifer is blind and she shares openly of her years of praying for God to heal her. I love the ladies in my study and last night after hearing Jennifer’s session on being thankful FOR and not just IN her blindness we were all in awe. And we had some really good discussion. Like is it pie in the sky thinking to be able to be thankful for the very things we ask God to remove or change?

I’ve had a lot of discussions with people and read a lot about the topic of healing and honestly I think Jennifer’s teaching segment in session 3 of this study is the very best teaching on healing. I love her position and her spirit while talking about these things. She’s Biblically grounded and open to the fact that God can and does heal today. But we aren’t “entitled” to his healing. We don’t “deserve” God’s healing. Sometimes he heals and other times he gives grace in the situation instead of healing.

The Apostle Paul being a perfect example of this with his “thorn in the flesh” whatever it was. I think he was bald and wanted more hair. Just Kidding. I don’t think that was his thorn but whatever it was God didn’t remove it. You guys! What if he really had like a REAL THORN in his flesh?! Ha! I’ve never thought about that before until this very second. Like people forever have been offering attempts to guess what the “thorn” was: blindness, stomach problems, etc. what if that time he got shipwrecked and he had to live off the bush country and thorns and thistles – what if he really got a thorn stuck in his side? And we’ve just been overthinking it all these years. Okay, that’s just insane. Sorry about that. But God never healed Paul. He gave him grace instead and God’s power was resting on him because of his weakness. (II Cor. 12:6-10)

Jennifer helps us see that God can do what he wants when he wants to. Sometimes he heals and sometimes he doesn’t. He has a right to not heal. What we actually deserve is hell (because everyone is born in sin and that penalty is eternity in hell) but the good news is that we don’t have to get what we deserve because Jesus died to take our place. We didn’t deserve that. Jennifer calls it the divine unfairness of God. It wasn’t fair that he died for us and became poor and cursed so we could be rich and not have to be cursed if we choose to accept Jesus through a relationship with him. It’s not what we deserve but it’s what we can have.

Jennifer makes this statement that I’m still processing: “My friend, if what we really deserve is hell, then anything else God gives us or spares us from on this side of eternity is a privilege – even suffering.”

This is where she talks about not just being thankful IN all things but being thankful FOR all things. I’m still chewing on this honestly. I understand this in light of her blindness. My infertility. Things we can’t change. And even then it’s hard. She talks about that as well. She doesn’t claim it’s easy to be thankful for suffering. And she still prays for healing but she’s thankful for her blindness in the meantime. How incredible. But where I’m struggling with this is when it applies to abuse, rape, murder, etc –  things where someone has been willfully wronged through sheer wickedness. I’m just struggling with how you can be thankful for any of that. To me recognizing that God is always in control and he is still good even when horrible things happen is different than being thankful for them.?

So yeah – I’m still praying for God to teach me what He wants me to see. I want to have the kind of heart that is so tender towards God that I can be thankful for all things. I really do want that kind of trust and faith. In the meantime I’m continuing to be in awe of the divine unfairness of God in his taking my place on the cross. That is simply amazing.

When our kids grapple with faith

I’m not ashamed to say that I see my son grappling with his faith right now. Asking a lot of questions. Wondering why God did things a certain way when He had all the power and control to do things differently – things that make more sense to him. Like – not putting the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in the garden to begin with. Not letting satan tempt Adam and Eve. Not allowing sin to enter the world. These things.

A Bible paper that is due next week on the life of Noah has also spurred on some deep questions. It’s been a long time since I’ve gone back and looked at the life of Noah. As Mitchell and I looked into scripture together about Noah we read these hard but true words,

” The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. 6 The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. 7 So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them.”

God regretted the very creation he made. That’s tough stuff. I found myself wanting to defend God as Mitchell asked questions like, “So did God make a mistake when he made that generation of people?” “Why is he so angry with us?” “If he knew that was going to happen why create in the first place?”

I felt myself getting all tight inside my heart. I didn’t want to mess up by attempting to explain. I didn’t want my son to see God as an angry God who wiped out people because he didn’t care. I wanted him to know the deepest foundational point of God wanting to be in relationship with these people – with us – and that his love and mercy allowed a new start. That our sin separates us from God because He’s holy and we are not. Sovereignty and free will and all that. Still. It’s a hard truth. An entire generation wiped out.

But these questions are good. And I’m so glad he’s talking them out loud and not afraid to ask. They are excellent questions. And yes, truthfully I have to say, it is a little scary to see your child chewing through and asking such tough questions and not being sure where they’ll land. But I am trusting God and praying that the Holy Spirit will keep opening Mitchell’s eyes to the Truth of his word and the essence of who God is. Nobody can force an authentic believing faith on anyone. That is between the Holy Spirit and an individual.  So I don’t have to get uptight in pleading and defending “my faith case” to him. I can as gracefully as possible tell him I’ve had some of those same questions. We can look at different parts of scripture (because interpreting scripture in light of scripture is crucial in understanding God and his ways) to identify who God is. Not that we can ever figure him out or understand him fully. And that’s what faith is – trusting and believing when we don’t have all the answers or understand or like what we see.

Questions are good. Grappling with faith is good. God can handle our questions. He’s big enough for that. When our kids do it we need to be okay with it and never rebuke them for asking such questions.   But with a tender praying heart ask God to guide us in coming alongside our kids as they journey through their own faith walk. Some kids just need to wrestle it out more and ask lots of questions. Others don’t necessarily do that. And that’s okay too. I kind of think wrestling for something helps us remember it better. We may come out limping a bit but we’ll never forget what we learned.

So Lord, today we pray for our kids who are trying to understand you. For the ones who might be mad at you. For the ones who aren’t even thinking about you. We ask in your name, Jesus, that you would reveal yourself to them in such a personal way that they know you love them and want to be in relationship with them. Draw us and our kids closer to you. Let our walks be individual walks of faith – never attempting to hang onto the coattails of parents or religious activities. Increase our faith Lord. We need you to do that in us. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

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Speaking the Gospel to each other

I love the reminder our High School classes gave to us a few weeks ago – that the Gospel is for everyone all the time.

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Sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ coming to this earth to die for us and to save us from our sin is the greatest news ever. And we must not get tired of sharing it with others. Even to those who already know.

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The Gospel is for everyone. Everyday. May we be in awe of the Good News even after we’ve been living in light of the Good News for years.

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May we be willing to sit down next to someone on a playground or at the break table and share with them the Good News. The life changing truth of God’s love.

So proud of our students for sharing the Gospel with the younger students at our Christian school. Have they heard the Gospel before? Indeed they have. But they heard it again this day from older students who are training to be disciple makers. And just because you attend a Christian school doesn’t mean you’ve engaged in a relationship with Jesus. And so hearing it in different ways, from different people is a good thing.

When’s the last time you shared the Gospel with someone?

I’m asking myself that exact same question today.

May we go and tell.

When children pray

This week our church had Missions Conference and as a part of it our missionaries went into the classes at the Christian School associated with our church talking about their ministries. My in-laws are pastors to missionaries and they travel the world encouraging missionaries. But this week as they went to classes they wanted to send the message to kids that they could be missionaries right where they are. They asked Sophie and Jace (two 3rd students at our Christian school) to come with them and share with each class about a new friend named Emma who has Cystic Fibrosis. Sophie and Jace haven’t met her but have seen pictures and have enlisted a lot of people to pray for her.

So Jace and Sophie went to about 8 classes asking students to pray for Emma. And the timing couldn’t be better as she was having surgery that day.

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It thrilled my soul to see these young kids praying for someone they didn’t know but knew God would hear them.

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And boy did He hear them!

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Tuesday and Wednesday these kids prayed for Emma and then Wednesday night Emma’s Mom gave this update below which sent us all into a major praise induced coma!

**Update on Emma: Please read!!**

“For this Child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made him.” 1 Samuel 1:27

So many of you have committed to pray for my sweet Emma and her battle with Cystic Fibrosis… You have called upon the Lord on her behalf… You have pounded on the doors of Heaven for her healing!!

Less than two months ago, our world was turned upside down when we were told Emma had an extremely difficult to treat bacteria in her lungs. This bacteria is known to cause lung decline, long term IV drug therapy, and could potential remove her chance for a lung transplant in the future.

We began treatment on March 17 (St. Patrick’s Day). Three weeks to the day we had to stop treatment due to a horrible reaction to one of the drugs. Things were feeling pretty dim as her team attempted to find a new drug treatment plan.

Yesterday, Emma had her lungs scoped and had samples taken to see if we have made any positive steps forward in treating her Mycobacterium Abscessus before we restart IV meds.

Today, one of her doctors came to talk to me and started with “I don’t know how to tell you this…” My heart sank…she continued to say “her smear came back and it is NEGATIVE for Mycobacterium Abscessus. I can’t explain it, especially since she only had 3 weeks of treatment. Her numbers were very high, now there’s nothing!!”

After overcoming my lack of ability to speak, we discussed the future treatment plan that is now less than half as long as we expect just this morning!!

God is in control of all situations, He is still in the miracle business and today he reminded of that!!!! God is beyond faithful…He has heard our prayers and answered!!! Emma is free from this horrible bacteria for the moment. It can still return, but we will just take it one day at a time, and trust the Lord no matter what comes our way!!!

Our God is amazing! So incredibly amazing. I know he heard the voices and hearts of these students praying on behalf of a fellow friend. And this is a part of missions – praying and sharing the love of Jesus.

Love Is: Part 1

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Today begins a series called “Love is.” What does love look like when its fleshed out? Maybe you’ve been on the giving end of extending love and maybe you’ve been on the receiving end. I hope yes to both.  Either way – would you be willing to share it with us? I’d love it. A picture to accompany would be awesome but not necessary. When have you experienced the love of Jesus through someone else?  Email me or share in the comments.

Today I’ll start by telling you a story and preface it by saying that some times Love looks flat out weird.

I can’t really explain it. I just know that after hearing Lisa and Emma’s story back in January I felt compelled to pray for them. Their family moved from CA to NC five months ago for 9 year old Emma to receive treatment at UNC Children’s Hospital for Cystic Fibrosis. All their family and everything they know is back in CA. I know what this is like. We did it 6 years ago. It’s not easy to move to a new place with two perfectly well children. I can’t wrap my mind around doing it with a very sick child.

Emma is my daughter’s age and so I told Sophie about Emma. Showed her pictures of her in the hospital and we started praying at night for Emma. Then I asked others to pray with us for them. Lisa and I exchanged one or two quick Facebook messages – I asked her permission to share some of her Bible journaling pictures with the workshop we did and told her we were praying for them. But that was it. We don’t know each other at all.

Fast forward to two days ago. All week long I knew Emma was back in the hospital for a nasal surgery. Lisa and her husband and their girls live about 3 hours from the hospital so when Emma is admitted Lisa’s husband drops her and Emma off and he takes the kids back to their home.

All week I’d just been heavy hearted for this family. So far from their extended family and friends. Walking an incredibly tough road with this illness. And I just felt like the Holy Spirit was impressing on me to make a trip to the hospital to visit Lisa and Emma. But I also knew how strange this would be. I fought it a few days because I didn’t want to be weird. But the Holy Spirit has put other things on my heart that I perceived as weird – yet I knew they were from him.

I ran it by Randy and told him my whacked thought and said, “I know it’s really strange but…..” He gave the thumbs up but also agreed with me it was kinda cray cray.  I love this about my man. But he’s also wise enough to tell me no to the really really crazy things I consider doing. Like getting a tattoo. No, wait, he let me do that one. More like far fetched ideas of wanting to throw a city wide Thanksgiving Day dinner in the park. And other impossible things like that.

So I owned the weirdness and pulled Sophie out of school and we took a little road trip to the Children’s Hospital to see our friends – that didn’t know we were friends yet – Lisa and Emma.

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Sophie read Dork Diaries to me out loud on the way there – not the most genius set of literature but HILARIOUS nonetheless.

We got to the check in desk and found out they don’t let kids under 12 on the patient floors. Talk about disappointment! We were both so bummed. Sophie reluctantly agreed to wait for me in the lobby while I went up to find Emma’s room. I told her I wouldn’t be long because you know…..I am a total stranger walking in a room and I might even get kicked out because of the weirdness. Ha but not Ha.

I timidly knocked on Emma’s door and poked my head in. I quickly said who I was and that we had talked briefly on Facebook. She said, “Oh yes!! I recognize you! Come on in.” And she gave me a bear hug and introduced me to Emma who was not feeling well at all. She’s such a beautiful little girl.

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Then Lisa took me to the little corner of her room and showed me her Bible journaling station. She had a perfect little set up. Then she opened her Bible and showed me what she learned that morning in Esther. And we talked. And it wasn’t weird. I think it was because one woman of faith understood another woman of faith and how when Christ is fueling a love-filled action it shrinks the awkwardness.

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Amazing faith this woman has. Lisa shared with me some specific requests for their family and I’d love for you to pray for them as well.

  • For the 6 week antibiotic round to do it’s thing and kill the bacterial infection Emma has in her lungs.
  • That Emma will communicate clearly her pain level instead of toughing it out all the time.
  • Friends – since they just moved.

In looking back at this day I realize that sometimes the Holy Spirit puts stuff on our hearts and it’s so heavy you can’t get away from it. We can ignore it, think it’s a weird idea and run the other way or we can act on it as awkward as it may feel. It won’t feel right until you just do it and even then it could still feel weird. Weirdly right. That’s okay. Responding to Jesus through obedience is the key. I will be the first to say that many times I don’t get this right because of not wanting to press through the uncomfortable.

I’m also reminded that sometimes our ministry is in the waiting and behind the scenes. Sophie went fully expecting to see Emma. But she waited in the waiting room instead. And we were both bummed about this. I reminded her that part of her ministry that day was waiting. And that’s not always fun. Her 3rd grade class was also back in class praying for Emma and her Mom so they also were a part of this ministry as well. We all play different parts and they’re all equally important.

Love is – weird sometimes. Love is – waiting. Love is meeting new people that you feel like you’ve known forever because well that’s what the Holy Spirit does.

Press on friends!

 

 

 

Just go – even when you don’t feel like it.

It was an emotionally grueling day Friday. I was walking through a dark time with a friend. A lack of sleep, hurting for my friends and feeling the weight of everything made me want to back out of the IF Gathering conference I committed to that night. I was already running 30 minutes late.

But I went.

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And I knew God wanted me there.

The live worship was powerful and lifted my spirit. It ministered to me and reminded me of things I knew in my head but needed to feel again in my heart.

Our small group table of 9 women were so sweet. I only knew one of them. But we shared stories together. How we met Jesus. How he was growing us. I went feeling so depleted emotionally but I soaked up their stories and could see Jesus using our table to minister to my own heart. And one story in particular grabbed my heart in the most unusual way. I can’t explain it really. But it grabbled my heart possibly even more than all of the amazingly powerful speakers at the IF Gathering. And we’re talking amazing messages from people like: Angie Smith, Lauren Chandler, Jen Hatmaker, David Platt and so so many more. I’m still reading all my notes and marinating in the Truths that were delivered. Such good stuff there.

But this story that I can’t keep thinking about is how one of the young women at my table encountered Jesus. Her story is this:

She grew up in an abusive home with parents addicted to drugs. She and her sister were scared a lot and they hid in the closet when things got really bad. The girl told how one good memory she has of her Mom is going yard sale shopping on Saturday mornings. One day she found a bundle of books she wanted and her Mom let her buy them. She took them home but didn’t read them immediately. But one night when she and her sister were hiding in their closet while all hell broke loose around them she found one of the books from the yard sale. It was a Precious Moments Bible. And she read for the first time about how Jesus loved her. She went on to explain that she felt a peace come over her and she knew she was loved.

Wow. I can’t get that picture out of my head…..two little girls hiding from their parents out of sheer fear and Jesus coming to them.

Emmanuel. God with us. In our closets when we’re huddled in fear. That kind of with us.

I just can’t get it out of my head. And I hope I never do. This is the God that loves us. That is astounding.

I thought this Monday morning post would be about the awesome session from David Platt on discipleship or Angie Smith’s impromptu Holy Spirit led session that rocked the room but really it was Jesus meeting that little girl in her closet that just made me fall in love with him even more.

So I’m reminded when we get that, “uhhhhh I really don’t want to go to Bible study, church, small group, that conference…….” we just gotta go anyways. And He’ll meet us there in ways we couldn’t even imagine.

 

Ministry hurts

I’m heavy hearted with the conversations I’ve had with ministry families whose families are falling apart. Families who on the outside seem like everything is wonderful and fine. But on the inside they are crumbling.

Ministry can suck the life out of an individual and it can wipe out a family all while satan sits back with arms crossed shaking his head in accomplished approval. I know he’s at the root of it. Tearing families apart who are striving to follow Jesus while leading others.

It’s a fierce battle. One that must be intentionally fought daily. With the Word. With prayer. With forgiveness. With grace.

There are many approaches to ministry and we must be careful in casting judgement on others when they do things differently. But this we can know – God never calls a man or woman with a family to put a church or ministry over his family. God designed the family and calls a man to lead his home. Even pastors. Especially pastors. If a ministry leader is gone the majority of the week – missing dinners at home, missing kids games, important events and clueless about his/her children’s lives and clueless to his wife’s needs they are sadly missing the mark. Sometimes we equate God with ministry. “God is first” and so ministry is the same thing as God so I’m justified in putting my family after the ministry because God called me to the ministry. And this is where families start to crumble. Men and women who think the ministry depends on them solely. It’s a scary slippery slope and before they know it they have lost their family to the ministry.

So how can we as ministry families protect against this?

A great book is Choosing to Cheat: Who Wins when Family and Work Collide? by Andy Stanley. Not just for the pastor or ministry leader but anyone struggling with balancing work and family. And don’t we all? My pastor husband read this ten years ago and it had a foundational influence on him. It laid the groundwork for how he approaches ministry and family. Randy fights hard – I think it will always be an intentional struggle – to keep his family a priority. He has no idea how much we, as his family, appreciate it. I try to communicate to him how much but I don’t think he’ll ever truly understand just how much it means to me that he fights for his family time. When I say “fight” I mean he leaves work undone at the office so he can eat dinner with his family. I mean he misses an occasional meeting because he’s on a family trip. He actually takes his day off. And so on. And the fact that we have a very supportive church for these things is huge. Of course he said it up front before we ever came to our church this was his philosophy of ministry and family so they knew what they were getting when they got Randy as a pastor. He was and is a pastor who is a family man. And that’s a gift to his family and his church.

Including kids in ministry but not forcing them. And not holding labels over their head.

Randy includes our kids in ministry activities but doesn’t force them. Hospital visits, praying for people, etc. are optional. Never a “you’re a pastor’s kid so you need to…….” Church people will put that kind of pressure on the kids. Ministry parents don’t need to. And surprisingly they are open and willing to come along and even pray over people at times. And that warms my heart. Of course there are times when these things are not optional and there are times when they’d rather stay home and watch TV. Not saying we’re always primed and ready for ministry. Ha! Nope, not what I’m saying here. But we are careful not to hold “you’re a preacher’s kid so you……” over their heads. They don’t need that.

Letting your kids see how awesome ministry is.

Not only involving our kids in ministry but pointing out the beautiful things in ministry is helpful in keeping a ministry family loving and serving God in their context. If they hear us saying, “Did you see how God worked here……and look how God provided here……and how cool that your Youth Pastor took time to take you here……..” It’s not manipulation. It’s helping our kids see the hand of God at work in their church. Our kids need us to do that sometimes for them. And soon enough we can teach them how to look for and observe the hand of God at work in the ministry they’re involved in.

Pray. Pray. And pray some more. 

Ministry family, know this one thing: satan wants your family to fail. He wants any Christian family to fall apart but he really wants the pastor’s family to crumble because of the overall fall out. A ministry family is no more important than a Christian family. I pray I’m not coming across that way in this post. But there’s a target on your family, dear ministry family. Pray every day. Don’t live in fear. But pray every single day for God’s glory to be revealed through your family.

 

 

 

 

 

Bible Journaling – where we are with it.

I shared a few weeks ago that I was just starting to get into Bible Journaling – where you create in the margins of your Bible based on what you have read and the direction the Holy Spirit leads you. Sophie has now caught the vision for it as well and together we have prayed, read and created. How I love this time with her.

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Supplies are simple: A journaling Bible, colored pencils (any kind will do), a good black micron pen, some paints if you dare and maybe some cute washi tape.

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I love this practice of creating in my Bible. I see it as a response to God’s word but sometimes I get caught up in being afraid I will “mess up”. I have to guard myself against getting caught up in comparison or the beauty or lack of beauty in the art. It’s not about me. It’s about God and what He has to say about himself in his word. My response is worship. And worship in the margins is a new practice for me. I am loving it. It’s helping Gods word marinate a bit longer in my soul and mind.

 

Our first pastoral retreat

We’ve never been on a Pastoral retreat weekend before and so I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it was really a neat time of praying, planning, vision casting, laughing and sharing with the church pastoral staff and a couple training in ministry.

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A family in our church opened up their lake home for us to stay for the weekend with our families. The men went up early on Friday and the wives and kids came up Friday night and we stayed through Sunday afternoon.

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The kids had a blast on Saturday afternoon because it warmed up enough for them to play outside. A huge help was having a young married couple in our church watch the kids while we had our sessions on Saturday. There were six kids in all ranging from ages 2 – 14 so it was loud at times but it worked and we wanted the families to be together.

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At meal breaks we all pitched in and grabbed our food. I have to brag on my man because he did the food planning and buying for this retreat. And he did so good. Good with the amount of food, choices, etc.

We are blessed to be among a pastoral staff who genuinely love God with all their hearts. They love their families and they love the work of the church and what God has called them to.

Ministry is a heavy weight. It’s heavy because you are loving and leading people through incredibly joyous times and also through incredibly painful times. It’s heavy because there are huge decisions to be made that can shape and direct the course of the church. Much prayer and seeking God goes into it and honestly that can be quite draining at times. There are unique burdens and responsibilites that come with it but there are amazingly rich joys and rewards. It is an honor and gift to be called into ministry. We don’t take it lightly. This weekend we were able to seek God on matters, talk with each other and pray together about the things we love most.  And we wait in expectation to see what all God has in store for our church community the next 12-18 months. We even planned out 10 years loosely knowing God has the complete right and control to trump every single thing on the “planned agenda”. It is his work not ours.

Friends, please pray for your pastor’s and their families. I can’t tell you how much it thrills my heart when someone comes up to me and tells me, “I am praying for your family. I know marriage is hard and I’m praying for your marriage and your family.” Ladies, don’t ever take it offensively when someone says they’re praying for your marriage or think in your head, “OMGosh why does she think my marriage is in need of prayer?!! I need to give off a better impression of a stronger marriage.”  No, not at all. The truth is we all stand in desperate need of prayer for our marriages, in our parenting, in our family needs. And your pastor’s home is no different. Cover them in prayer as you cover your own family in prayer.