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Whatever you want…

It doesn’t take much research to find that the Bible encourages us that whatever we ask in Jesus’ name we will receive.

Matthew 18:19- Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven.

Matthew 21:22-And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

Mark 11:24-Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

John 14:13- Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

John 15:17- If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

John 15:16- You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

John 16:23-24-In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you,whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.

1 John 3:22- and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.

1 John 5:14-15- And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have

And that’s just a quick google search of the words “Ask anything you want in my name”. I’m sure there is a longer list and deeper research that can be done. But as easy as it is to search for it, it’s just as hard to have the faith it takes to do the asking. As you can see in these verses there is nothing that suggests you can ask God for unlimited monetary wealth and he will just “poof” place it in your hands. There is a limit to what we ask. As we see in 1 John 5:14-15, He shows us that we ask according to His will. And so, our faith comes in when we aren’t sure what that will is. 1john-5_15-15

We are all human, and we’ll have human “wants” that aren’t always part of God’s will. That doesn’t mean we don’t ask, it means we start out trying to discern what that will is. And although we still may not always get that part right, as we do the searching, we draw close enough to God to be content with the answers (even when it’s “no” or “wait”) God gives.

I’m slipping from my intended purpose here… but consider that an “intro” to what I’m about to say… PRAYER CHANGES THINGS! As we draw close to God, as we seek to do His will and not just our own, our prayers begin to take on a shape that changes the way we live, the way we see life, and the way we handle the life we’re given.

It’s so fitting that I’m writing this and that it will fall on my blog history right after “Mothering, the struggle is real”. The struggle is always there, but in the last 6 or so weeks since writing that (man, I need to write more!), God has done some really great things in my life.

You see, I have 4 children. As wonderful as they all are, 2 of them are pretty strong-willed. My first strong-willed child has grown out of most of the issues we had when he was younger, and is proving to be a quite the young man. But it seemed the same things I used on him are not working on the other strong  Iron-willed child. And I’m struggling, 6 weeks ago, struggling wasn’t a strong enough word… I was drowning.

Then a friend asked some advice on Facebook about how to parent a child whose heart is not changing. And I immediately remembered what worked on my 1st child that I had neglected in my current parenting struggle. And here is where I’d like to really start this blog post…

When my first-born, who was such an obedient wild child, would show these massive fits of rage when we simply asked him to pick up his books nothing we did taught him to control his outbursts. We tried giving him ways to express his frustrations… but nothing seemed to work. At my wit’s end (and at this point I had only 2 children, and was not nearly as stressed out), I began sneaking into his room at night while he slept and laying hands on him and praying. I would spend 30 minutes or more some nights, 10 min other nights. But I begged God to change his heart. To speak to the heart of my little boy when I could not reach it. Within days, his behavior changed.

The problem is, as he got better, I got worse at spending that time in his bedroom at night. Don’t get me wrong, I always pray for my children,  WITH them and in my own personal time… but I wasn’t spending that concentrated time in prayer on a consistent basis.

So fast forward to what brought me to write that last post. My poor little girl is struggling hard with BIG emotions, and small coping mechanisms. And her drained momma is running out of ideas. Until I was reminded by a friend’s search for answers, that I had the answer. Well, GOD has the answer… PRAYER! This Iron-willed child of mine can be relentless at times. And now, with 4 children, all doing school, and having activities, and needing different things at different stages… I’m tired! And I need answers. And God reminds me… “In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you,whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.” Oh how I need that joy… that FULL JOY! So I began that journey. I sneak into her room at night, and I cuddle up next to her. I rub her back, I kiss her face, I stroke her hair, and I pray over her heart.

“God, I’m failing! But you love her even more than I can ever love. Change her heart. Take away her rage and replace it with peace. Take away her triggers and replace it with happiness. Take away her frustrations and replace them with dependence on YOU!” I go on to pray for me as a mother. “Lord, I’ll mess up! Help my patience. Expand my heart to see where she’s struggling, and give me compassion for her during the process.” I continue to pray many things over this child.

And here’s the thing… Let’s be real. Sometimes when our children are consistently a struggle, although obviously our love for them never ceases, our “like” level starts to drop. Cuddling your sweet blessing from God when they are calm and peaceful increases your compassion and the child’s likability. And in that moment, when that peaceful little angel is sweetly sleeping, you can fight the biggest battles for her that you’ve never be able to fight in the midst of the chaos of the day.

Although it took some time of suffering before I remembered this gem of information,  I eventually began the process of praying over my sweet baby girl. And now… today… I feel I have my real child back! We’ve had our bad moments, but there is such a tangible change.

You see, I’ve tried it all. I’ve tried more sleep (her and me). I’ve tried being strict. I’ve tried letting up. I’ve tried letting her choose, complimenting more, hugging more, begging, pleading, and crying. But I had asked not, so I received not. It sounds superstitious to say, but superstition has nothing on prayer! Not only has her behavior changed, but so has mine. I’m calmer, I’m more likely to see the issues, more in tuned to how God wants me to handle said issues, and I completely see her in a new light.

God is in the business of changing hearts. And only HE can do it. We can teach our children, we can lead our children, but we can not change their hearts. And once we begin to pray for our children’s hearts to follow after God, God listens and answers.

In the midst of busy days, I’d crawl into bed finally get cozy and then realize that I had not gone up and laid hands on my child like I had in the days before. “But I’m already tucked in. God doesn’t care if I lay hands on her as long as I just pray.” I thought. So I’d pray in my warm cozy bed. Then the next night I’d do the same… slowly getting out of the habit. And just as before, her behavior began to slip. We were going right back into the Iron-will. What was happening? I mean, is it mandatory for us to have a specific formula to how we pray over our kids? A certain posture? A specific time of the night? Are our prayers dependent upon our rituals? NO! They are not. But, God was teaching ME something through this exercise and I was not in direct obedience to that. I do not understand it all. I don’t claim any top secrets when it comes to prayer. But what I do know is that God asked me to have this particular discipline and when I do, I see results, when I don’t… I see those results, too.

I asked Pastor if he thought it was possible God was using this exercise to show me something specific to the method, or was there something Biblical behind this kind of prayer and the changes we are seeing because of it. The Bible does talk about laying hands on the sick. It talks about how when the apostles laid their hands on people the Holy Spirit would come upon them. The Word of God mentions Moses laying his hands on Joshua to commission him into service to the people of Israel. There is something wonderful about laying on of hands. But also, there is something about your child waking from a deep sleep and seeing their mama praying over them. She smiles at me, cuddles up tight, and plays with my hair. She is no longer lost in the shuffle of her siblings. She no longer is a middle child who struggles to find her place in the family. She is no longer a rambunctious character who can’t  won’t sit still long enough to read a simple book. She’s the apple of my eye. Just me and her… and God!

Whatever the reason behind doing it, God is doing it. Now, multiple weeks later just as she begins having her big emotions, (and although she even lets them out for a split second) she is showing that she DOES actually have self-control. Imagine that! A fruit of the Spirit. Not only have I increased my prayer time with her, but she’s following suit and has been praying on her own. She is SIX! And she’s extraordinary!

Each child is going to teach their parents something. I could go on and on explaining all the unique things the other three have taught me. But right now, I’m learning to pray. And I’m gleaning all the benefits of God’s mighty answers to my prayers.

Prayer changes things. Ask anything in Jesus’ name, according to His will, and He WILL do it! I challenge you to try it! And please let me know the results.

pastorswifeslife@gmail.com

 

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Mothering… The Struggle is Real

I’m not in a good place today. It hasn’t been a positive mothering day, and I’m currently locked in my bedroom with the left over ice cream (I didn’t even put it in a bowl!) bawling my eyes out. Why? Oh for many reasons. One, however, is that I feel alone. Even though I have a very supportive husband. He isn’t here when the kids are at their worst. And so although I may send frantic text messages to him during the day threatening to run away, he doesn’t see what happens on these bad days. So I sit… all alone… unable to reach out.

Why is it so hard for mothers to reach out? Why is it so hard to admit that we are struggling? Why can’t we call up our friends, or maybe even our family members and vent about our disobedient child and our mothering struggles? Maybe you have your own reasons, but I don’t because I feel judged. I’m aware that this feeling could totally be me, that my friends and family are not judging me at all. But I don’t see enough support for mothers to have that hope that I can venture out and describe how completely lonely I am, or how I feel like I’m a complete failure as a mother. I don’t always see enough love for mothers who struggle, so when I do, I fear the same judgment they receive.

Something about how fast our fingers can type on an anonymous internet and how slow our minds are to censor creates  a very threatening atmosphere. If you’ve ever read an article about a parent being raw with their struggles, you’ve probably read the comments that follow. Sure there are many that are encouraging and loving, but there are just as many who bash and beat down. They judge a person based on 5 paragraphs of her life. They say wicked things going as far as to say they don’t deserve to be parents. As if the parent themselves haven’t already beat themselves up over and over again because of the struggle. These people are ruthless. ***I have my comments on moderation only. No bashing allowed here.

What would happen if mothers felt comfortable and felt they could go to their online life and seek support for the struggles they are having? What if a mother did lose it and hit their child, then come looking for help immediately after**… and what if we actually helped? What if she found the courage to seek forgiveness, to get professional help, and became the mother she always wanted to be by receiving love from fellow struggling parents? Unfortunately many are met with criticisms, generalizations, hate, and judgment. They are told that they aren’t good mothers because they aren’t perfect.

Sadly it doesn’t always have to be from strangers on social media. Sometimes the reason we sit alone in our struggle is because we’ve heard our friends, and probably even joined in the bashing of another mom. We’ve heard our friends talk about the boy with the bad behavior and how the mom should have done this or that. We’ve heard the judgment in their voices as they give the reasons why the child is so ill-behaved. We may have even been the instigator of the conversation… until we realize we have a kid just like that. But then who can you go to? The friends who saw fault in the other boy’s mom? Nope, we sit in silence… all alone… and continue to struggle.

We hear a friend rant about the behaviors of all those imperfect children and we think in our minds, “What if they knew about MY child!?” And we instantly close ourselves off even further.

Whether it be online or face to face, it’s hard to find rest within a mom’s struggle. It’s sad that our ice cream is a more warming environment and brings more comfort than a friend’s shoulder to cry on.

But can I offer some repose? You are NOT alone. Moms struggle on every block. Kids misbehave. Kids can be rotten for entire days at a time. And God loves your child more than you can even comprehend. I know it’s hard to believe. In the midst of the biggest fit you’ve ever seen, God still loves. (and I’m talking about Mom’s fit, too).

I found myself sitting with the ice cream carton in one hand, a spoon in another, and tears pouring down my face as I cried out to God asking, “Why isn’t my love for her enough!?” Feeling lost and alone, God was right there. As I prayed, He comforted. Don’t you know God says the same to us? We all mess up, we all throw fits, we all go in a direction God never intended for us to go. If only we understood His love for us. So, since God won’t give up on me, I won’t ever give up on my child. And I’m not giving up on trusting there’s support out there.

If you’re struggling, and “Strong willed” doesn’t even come close to describing your lovely child… come sit by me! If your non-judgmental friends suggest the “glitter calm down jar” and you immediately envision your child throwing said jar… come sit by me! If you are getting ready to down your 3rd pint of ice cream this week all alone in the corner of your bedroom… hiding from your children… come sit by me. You’ll find no judgment here!

Just remember, just as not every child is the same, no mother is either. Some children don’t sit still, or calm down with a mother’s hug. Some children don’t feel love as easily as their sibling, throwing mama for a massive loop… and some moms can’t handle as much as others. Some moms are laid back and able to handle their iron-willed child (seriously, what is stronger than strong willed??), and some moms crumble in stressful situations. We don’t need your condescension. We need someone to hold us up; to push us along when we grow weary; to carry our burdens when things have gotten too heavy. So, come sit by me. I promise to be careful when talking to my friends. I promise to add one more comment in the encouraging column. And I promise to keep praying!

If you need someone in your corner, email me. I’d rather you have some support than reach for the ice cream! (Save the ice cream for making it another day!) I’m saving you a seat by me! Email me @ thePastorswifeslife@gmail.com 

**Before comments come pouring in, please know that I personally do not hit my children. However, if you have, or you’ve come close… I’d rather you reach out than do something that would harm your children, or add to your struggle. Take a deep breath, and contact someone for help.

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Do you Enjoy your Children?

Of course we love our children. It’d be hard to find a parent who will come out and say they don’t love their children. Even those who lack in basic parenting skills, still love their children, even if deep down under the piles of turmoil that has been heaped on them. So I’m not asking “Do you LOVE your children?” I’m asking, “Do you ENJOY them?” I find that during the challenging parts of parenthood, there are moments I wouldn’t want to share my answer to that question. However, if I’m honest with myself, I’d have to sometimes answer no. I do not enjoy them. It is in this moment that I realize it isn’t THEIR fault, it is mine. The issue may appear to be a behavior issue. It may manifest itself in a period of time when the terrible twos are roaring their VERY loud head. It could be a feeling you have when the toddler and the baby (or the multiples) decided to stay up all night AND cry all day. And outside of those situations where your teenage or grown kids are choosing to be the troublemakers and not the peacemakers (despite what you’ve taught them), the root of the issue isn’t them, it’s us. It’s me. It’s you. So what can we do? How can we enjoy our kids when the bad behavior seems to outweigh the good? How can we truly enjoy our kids when they choose turmoil over peace? Is it even possible to enjoy your kids while you discipline and slowly count to ten… a million times… just to maintain the skimpiest glimpse of sanity. I believe it’s possible. I believe it takes discipline on a parents part, but is very doable.

Children are a gift from the Lordthey are a reward from him. Psalm 127:3
Children are a gift from God so why wouldn’t we enjoy them? And maybe this is the point where I should clarify that I am not suggesting we grin and smile and ENJOY the fits of the toddler, the misbehavior of the tween, the rudeness of a teenager, or the reckless behavior of the grown child. I’m suggesting that over all, we need to seek to enjoy the gifts God has given us. This also may be the point that I should admit that I struggle with this at times. I mean, let’s be completely honest here, kids can be annoying. Their incessant questions, their absent-mindedness (or is that selective hearing?), their bad habits, their WHINING…. I better not go on! But every 2-year-old will ask you why, then why again, then again, and again… it’s part of their development. Every 6-year-old will venture out to see if they’re old enough to get away with a little more. It’s part of the independence they’ve acquired through school. Every teenager will push and argue, they’re forming their own opinions as they learn to live apart from their parents. And every child will whine… I have NO CLUE what the developmental reason for this is… but EVERY.CHILD.DOES.IT!!! (perhaps it’s to build up a parents tolerance!).  If we allow these natural occurrences to keep us from enjoying our children, we have a bigger issue than the annoyances themselves. And I find myself asking God to help me enjoy my kids. I know they are a gift from Him, they are a reward from Him. It reminds me of when I’ve given gifts to my children only to see them toss the gift to the side never to be played with. It hurts. And it hurts God’s heart as well. So, now that I’ve made you feel bad… not really my intention, but if you’ve ever found yourself saying (even if just to yourself) “I don’t even enjoy them!” you’ve immediately felt guilt for even having the thought. I do. It’s a cycle I’m quick to try to remedy. I’m frustrated over their behavior, so I feel I dislike being around them (I’m not sure I like the opposite of the word, enjoy… so semantic people, bear with me!) then I feel guilty for having the thought, knowing that I need to enjoy them… It is a real indication that a change needs to happen. How can I honor God, and the gift/reward He has given me. May I share some of my ideas with you? Not because I think I’ve mastered this, yet. But because I feel it works for me as I battle these challenging parts of motherhood.

  • First, I immediately ask for forgiveness. I pray that God will help me work through these emotions, and forgive me for looking at His gift in this manner. For me, it is a sin. I am not exhibiting godliness, but selfishness. So I ask him to forgive me. Then I ask Him how to get out of this funk I’m in. Most of the time, I’m not able to do anything until I do this number one step. My heart will not change without God’s help.

 

  • I begin to search the scripture for words of encouragement. I remind myself to take captive every thought and bring them into submission to God. So I search for scripture that will remind me of God’s will in my parenting. Scriptures like…

Psalms 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them. (read it and remember that God created your children in this same way!)

Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (If He gave YOU the gift of children, he prepared you beforehand to be able to raise them! I promise!)

(there are many more… but for space sake… I’ll move on)

  • I begin to search for podcasts that will speak to the challenges (and solutions) to parenthood. I get my Bible out, and study alongside the speaker. Hearing that I’m not alone, is a comfort. But learning how to deal with it, is empowering. I use Oneplace.com (it’s an app for Android, too) And there are many preachers that post their past broadcasts. Focus on the Family, or Jim Daily’s “Focusing on Parenting” are very good, but sometimes I just put “Parenting” in the search and find something. You don’t have to agree on everything in order to gain a small nugget of encouragement to fuel your parenting journey. And if I can’t find what I am looking for, I will google things and try to find Christian blogs I can read. *****I am not looking for something that will validate my feelings! I am looking for something that will reprimand me, and encourage me to get back to where God wants me! I suggest you do the same, flattery won’t solve the issue.

 

  • I begin to godly discipline. If it’s bad behavior that is causing my kids to be unenjoyable (I may have made that word up… but I really don’t like the true opposite of enjoy… so…), then I need to teach them the right behavior. It is our job as parents to raise obedient children.

Proverbs 29:15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Proverbs 19:18 Discipline your son, for there is hope;

Proverbs 1:8-9 Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland for your head and pendants for your neck.

And my point…. Proverbs 29:17 Discipline your son, and he will give you rest; he will give delight to your heart.
When we discipline properly, we are teaching our children to be delightful. Not just to us, but to those around them. I warn my children. I start off my telling them that I’m sorry that I did not discipline enough (to which they quickly forgive me, don’tcha know!) And I explain that I’ll be cracking down on behaviors to which they know they should be having and are not. I remind them of my expectations for them, and outline where we’re falling short (not getting the morning routine down, making us late… or putting shoes away so we can find them when we leave, or how to be kind to a sibling… whatever the issue may be). Then I follow through. The first week is hard. They are in more time-outs, I am taking WAY more deep breaths. They are losing out on privileges, I am chanting “Yell less, love more” to myself while rocking back and forth in my closet… but it needs to be done, and it’s beneficial to us all.

  • I let them be annoying once in a while. Like I said, kids can be annoying. As children learn the social norms to behavior, they will often do annoying things. It’s part of their learning process. They repeat themselves, they chew with their mouths open, they get overly excited about things that seem unimportant to us. But, I refrain from being annoyed. I may correct them (“Please eat with your lips closed.” “Please stop repeating that phrase.” “Let’s not stand so close to my ears while chewing gum.”) But I do it in love, not in irritation. I don’t allow myself to reprimand them, belittle them, or show them my annoyance. I correct; I teach them the right behavior… and leave the room if I’m struggling more than I want. (I’m human! I DO get annoyed… but in order to choose to enjoy them, I take my thoughts captive, and I allow them to be children.)

 

  • I go to bed earlier. Let’s face it, we’re a better version of ourselves when we have our beauty sleep. It is much harder to have patience when we’re sleep deprived. I can do this now that I have children who sleep through the night. It’s much harder when you are up all night with babies, and up all day with kids who don’t nap! Grab rest when you can. Ask your spouse for help. You’ll be a better parent for it.

 

  • And Lastly… for now… is CHOOSE to enjoy! Look at your gorgeous, smart, energetic, and amazing child and see him/her as the gift she/he is! Watch them when they play, laugh at their silliness. Join them as they jump in rain puddles, and laugh when they giggle at their own made up joke. Watch them as they interact with their siblings and realize this child of yours is AWESOME! If you have to, go back to sweet baby pictures or remind yourself of funny things they’ve done in the past week, month, year. Hug them tight, tell them how wonderful you think they are, and remind yourself that this reward from God is one of the biggest blessings you’ve ever been given. Pray over them, praise them, marvel in them, and be awestruck! Be intentional about finding things to enjoy. Whether it be the moment they are quiet listening to a book, or coloring nicely at the table, or studying for a test at school, make it intentional. Then remind them how much you love them. Tell your child that they are the best gift you’ve ever been given. Then when you collapse in bed at night from the exhausted day that comes along with being a parent, do not allow yourself to dwell on the rules they broke, or the attitudes they had. Instead count your blessings. Just as you began your day in prayer, end it just the same. Praise God for the thoughtfulness of His gift. Thank Him for the blessing.

I write just as I come out of this. Like I said, I have not mastered this. And I don’t always enjoy every moment. But I love my children, and want to honor God with the gift He has given me. I believe I am not where I need to be when I choose not to enjoy them. So, today, I’m choosing to enjoy them! I’ll gaze at them and thank God for my quadruple blessing. And I’ll start the day tomorrow doing the same. Feel free to add some of the ways you choose to be intentional when it comes to enjoying your children, I’m open to more suggestions!

Until then… Enjoy those kiddos of yours!

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Have I Told You About My Table?

If you are friends with me on facebook, you probably wanted to hide me after my gazillion posts about my dining room table. I’m pretty proud of the beautiful piece so I thought I’d share with… well, whoever may read this (Thanks for all those who recently started following). And, if you’ve read any of my other blog writing, you’ll know I’m not a DIY blogger, But God showed me a few things as I worked on this table… so I’ll mix the two together… now, let’s get to this beautiful piece of furniture!

I attend the MN Ministers’ Wives Retreat every year. And just about every year they have a dining room table as a giveaway. I’ve always loved the table we bought when we were expecting our 3rd child. The table was displayed in the clearance section with a sign that said 6 piece. I counted gleefully 1 table, 4 chairs and one coveted bench. I HAD TO HAVE that bench! The clerk said the sign was a mistake. I didn’t let that slide. So… 7 years later, I still have the table, 4 chairs, and an awesome bench! And just as much as LOVE the bench, the small table has been a thorn in my side. We love to have people over for dinner. We have to feed the kids before they come, or have the kids eat in the kitchen. There just isn’t enough room for more than our 6 at that table. When we have our beloved deacon dinner each Christmas time, I hated that we had to bring in another table and piece them together just so we could all eat in one room. So, every year, I entered to win the dining set… even if I didn’t love it. Each year I take the seats out of the van “in faith” that I’d win the dining set, only to come home empty-handed. I’d pray as I entered that God would give the table to the person who needed it most. And it was obvious I was not that person.

A few weeks ago a great friend (who attended the wives retreat and even added her name in to win the table for me! HOW sweet is she!?) called and asked if I’d like a table that was big enough, sturdy enough, and made very well (it’s from Gabberts… or something like that, good company!). When I saw it, I was pretty unsure. I figured I could spruce it up, but thought my husband would say no. He didn’t! So I began pintresting (that’s a verb, now!!!). Let me just say it now… I have very little talent, but one is following directions. If I can find a good set of instructions, I can follow pretty well! Here are the blogs I used…
Shades of Blue Interiors  for the chairs and My Third True LOVE for the table.

Are you ready for some pictures???

This was the table and chairs before. Nothing bad, but not really our style. Not to mention the chairs had some broken backs and ripped upholstery. Also, if we add one more different colored wood into our dining room, I may die. I knew I wanted to do a cream color, and I knew I wanted to use an old shower curtain for the cushions. No, seriously, the curtain was THAT cool!

I did the chairs first. I really actually love the painted caning, but one chair was busted. So I could only keep the captains uncovered, but had to cover the 4 others.

Do you see that awesome  shower curtain pattern? For the top I used a canvas drop cloth. CHEAP and sturdy!! I painted the chairs and the table legs and apron a “Country white” that turned out to be WAY too white, so I went back and got something more cream. I can’t remember the name, though. I also had gone with flat paint before and hated the feel of it. So this time I went with eggshell and it was the perfect texture I was going for. I love how they turned out! (again, for the tutorial on the chair backings, see the links I posted above.)
As for the table. I had to ask my manly man for help. Originally I sternly told him that I would be doing this project all by myself. It’s not that I want the credit (although, it is nice to know I did this ALL.BY.MYSELF!!!) But I didn’t want to have to worry about anyone but me ruining it. But when I started to sand this table, I quickly realized I could not do it in a timely manner. Good thing I asked for help since I was sanding a table top using 220 grit paper… yeah, I obviously had NO clue what I was doing. Pastor went and bought some 40grit and went to town… he had it completely done in about 45 min!

To be honest, I LOVED the natural look. If I didn’t already have dark woods (and multiple shades of it) in my dining room, I would have polyurethaned as is, look how pretty he made it! But we did have to stain it. I bought espresso wood stain from Minwax, but really didn’t think it’d be as dark as I wanted it. So I bought EBONY stain and mixed the two!!! Daring, I know. But it turned out perfect! I started with 1 part ebony, 3 part espresso, but after 2 coats, I decided to just throw in a tad more ebony for the 3rd coat. It was the EXACT color I wanted. And, if you plan to do it… know that it will get darker as it sits. But that was to our benefit!

This table has squares where the grain goes different directions in each square. I really didn’t like it until we stained it. I love it now. And you can pick a square and match it to the many different colors of wood that already exist within the room. It is absolutely gorgeous. I applied 3 coats of quick drying polyurethane. (that was the entire can) and decided to stop for now. I’m not wanting a super shiny finish, but can’t promise I won’t add another coat later.

So, that’s the main details on the gorgeous table. I spent about $77. We gave our old table to a college student who is friends with the lady that gave us this table, minus the bench. I’m keeping that! (future painting project there). And we are left with a beautiful addition. When the 2 leaves are in, we can easily fit 10 adults. I’m so happy with the finished product!!!

Now… like I said, I’m not a DIY blogger. So, let me shift this focus for a few seconds. I’m incredibly blessed by a God who speaks to me during the day-to-day life I live. Before starting this project I prayed (and during the project many times). I have a tendency to start projects and then ruin them. This project was too big to ruin. I’m not great at meticulous detailed work, and I knew attention to detail would be important here. So I prayed. I still got frustrated, I still messed things up, and I still felt like I’d ruined our table. But the more I asked God for it, the more I gave my little table grace. Sure its not perfect. Paint dripped, paint chipped, fabric frayed, hot glue strung all over. But when all is said and done, it has character. It was created in love for my family, and guests. Sure if you look at things up close, you will see it’s flaws and imperfections. But with God’s grace, it stands beautiful. That’s what God can do. Not just for a table, but in us. We aren’t perfect, we all have flaws, but when covered in God’s grace, we stand beautiful. I can’t wait to have friends and family surround my table. I know water will be spilled, scotch guard will be needed, but the conversations, the laughs, the tears, and plans made around this imperfect table will be something I’ll cherish forever!

So… who’s coming over for dinner!!!???

 

father's day

Father’s Day for the Fatherless

There I was, in the aisle surrounded by all the Father’s Day cards. I go in thinking I’ll find a few funny cards for my dad. To tell the truth I don’t even buy my husband cards anymore. Part of his gift is the money saved by NOT buying the card. But, I’m not sure how my dad would feel getting a construction paper stick drawing card from me. So I venture into one of the worst aisles I can… the Father’s Day Card Aisle!

It goes something like this… Read card # 1. It’s half funny/half sentimental. I give a short “ha” but the lump in my throat starts to form. Read card #2. There is no humor to this one, it’s pretty tame, but my bottom lip starts to quiver. Read card #3. It speaks of the support of a father. It mentions a daddy’s love for his children. It covers all the strengths a good dad has, and the power he has in his child’s life. This is the point where I lose it. Tears do not simply fill my eyes, they shoot out. I do not get teary-eyed, I melt into a blubbering mess.

*Ask my husband who left me for a few seconds only to come back and find me this way and had to escort me out of the aisle.*

Why does this happen to me?

There are many reasons.
1. I read the cards while thinking of my dad. My dad met me when he was 24 years old. I was 5, and I wasn’t the only child. He jumped right in and was instant daddy. He worked multiple jobs to provide for us. He grew up with us. He prayed for us, taught us, laughed with us, put up with us. He raised us. He filled a void, and did it well. I think about the sacrifice he made by choosing to be Daddy to me and my heart is full of pride. I’m confident in his love for me, and tears begin to fall down my face.

2. I read the cards while thinking of the man whose name is written on my birth certificate. I think of all he’s missed out on. I think of how quickly he left my life, and the hurt that came with being rejected by him. I think about all the things he chose as he sacrificed a relationship with me. I think about the love I still have for him, and how I think of him often. I think about the what ifs, and I’m sad for the life we lost out on with him. No matter how many years have passed, no matter how great our lives were with my “real” dad that I met at age 5, there is still heartache associated with the thought of him. I give it to God, I have forgiven him. I have prayed for him. I have even friended him on my terms. I genuinely desire great things for him. But the hurt comes out this time every year in that dreaded father’s day card aisle, and my emotions begin to weep.

3. I read the cards and think of my husband, the father to my children (insert the tears pouring down even as I type!). He is everything I ever wanted in a daddy. He is present, he is their support, he is their playmate, their advice giver, their stability. He will never leave them. He will never choose anything above them. And as I read every card, I swell with love for this man who loves my (and his) children with every fiber of his being. I think of the life my kids have because of their daddy. I think of the confidence they have, and will grow up to have all because of their daddy’s love. I’m so proud of the man Pastor has become, a man to father, with total awesomeness, four awesome kiddos. How could I not cry with tears of pure joy!?

4. I read the cards and think of myHe has made my life what it is today. I’m not scarred by the actions of my birth-father, I’m blessed by a young man who did the best he could with what he had, and I live daily with one of the best daddy’s out there. Because of my heavenly Father, I can forgive, look past my past and feel His deep love for me.

I may cry, but I don’t blame. I’m not angry, and I don’t feel abandoned. I’m fulfilled, lacking nothing. I am not sure I could say those things had it not been for my Heavenly Father. My dad may have struggled even worse taking on the role of daddy to two small girls had God’s hand not been on our lives. He accepted Christ as the leader of his life, and was able to raise us as he followed Him. Without that, I don’t know where we’d be today. Because of God and His grace and mercy on my life, I can talk to my biological dad without hard feelings. I can love him with a real love because of my relationship with God. And my kids are reaping the benefits of a godly father because my husband fathers based on his own relationship with God. The blessings never end.

I titled this “Father’s Day to the Fatherless” not because I feel I am fatherless. My daddy-needs were met, and I am forever thankful for that. But that is not the case for many of you reading this today. You walk around daily feeling the effects of rejection in your lives. You feel you don’t measure up, that you’re unworthy of love. You may feel you’ve been searching for love ever since your father left you… which has left you drained and hurt time and time again. Can I tell you there is hope. You can feel love, support, stability, and worth. You can accept a new Father into your life. God is a Father to the fatherless. His love for you is unwavering. He has always been there for you. And you get to be called His child. “… to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God — “ (John 1:12). You can be a child of the greatest Father ever known. You have a Father in heaven asking you to accept Him.
The hurts from you past may not disappear right away, it may take a while to fall away… and it may not ever go away. You may still find yourself in a blubbering mess of tears in the father’s day card aisle. But, you can dry your tears, walk out of the store with a confidence that you are NOT abandoned. You can take a deep breath, dry your tears and rightfully feel loved and wanted. God wants YOU.

If you’re ready to accept this Father into your life, please begin by saying this prayer.

“Lord, I’m hurting. I’m heartbroken by the actions of my father on earth. I feel hopeless, abandoned, and alone. But I know that You are my Heavenly Father. I know that you’ve sacrificed, when earthly men could not. I know I’ve made mistakes. I’ve broken your laws and sin has separated me from you. I’m sorry, and I want to turn away from the past, and look forward to a life with you. I know that your son, Jesus, died for my sins, was resurrected from the dead, is alive, and is hearing my prayers. I want Him in my life. I want a new Father to lead me, and to live with me every day. I’m ready for a fresh start. I invite Jesus to become the leader of my life, to rule and dwell in my heart from this day forward. Please send me your Holy Spirit to help me obey you, to help me feel your deep love for me. I want to feel your presence instead of rejection. I want to feel your love in my life instead of heartache. Help me to do your will in my life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.   

If you have already accepted the Father into your life, but are still struggling with the idea of Him being a good and gentle Father, begin to pray that God will mend your broken heart. Pray that God will show you the times that He is present and working in your life. I’ve already started praying for you! You don’t have to live in the past hurts, there IS freedom!

Please contact me either through here, or by emailing pastorswifeslife@gmail.com if you need more information about this Heavenly Father I speak about. I’d love to tell you more!

 

clouds

When the Sun Shines

cloudsFour years ago we packed up our home of 5.5 years and moved 7 hours west. We moved away from friends we loved and family we had drawn so close to. We weren’t running from anything, but it was time to go. Our situation wasn’t dire, but our hearts were ready for a change. We weren’t leaving a place we hated, but it wasn’t what we felt called to, so our hearts ached. The 5.5 years drew us closer to family, helped Pastor get his degree, allowed me to stay in one place as I added 3 children to our family, and taught a series of great lessons. But, in 2010, we knew God had another plan for our ministry. And if you have ever had to wait upon God’s timing for His plan to fold out, you understand this ache I speak of.

 

truckMarch 24th, 2012 (after 2 years of waiting) we pulled our large truck away from the only town our kids had ever known. I didn’t make it a block from my in-laws before I was bawling my eyes out. I knew we were doing the right thing, but it was very hard to take that leap of faith when things had been so easy for 5+ years.

As we drove along, I sang, I prayed, I laughed, I cried, I worried, I encouraged myself… but I never doubted. I knew this journey was one God wanted us on. About 3 hours into our should- have-been-7-but-was-really-10ish hour drive it began to rain. The budget truck could only go 45-50mph, I had a nursing baby in my van along with 3 other excited kiddos (one being an active 2 year old), and I began to grow tired. The rain was NOT my friend that day. My hands were cramping from gripping the steering wheel with the death grip of all death grips, my body sore from packing up the truck, and my mind going through all the plans and dreams I had for our future. By the time we were “almost” there, I was ready to pull over and have a melt down.

When it wasn’t storming, the drive just got boring! Pastor drove the moving truck and I drove our van with the kids. They watched movies, and I tried to occupy my time with music and my own thoughts. It reminded me of the boredom that can come in ministry when you’re in that waiting period. We knew we were actively seeking a new position, but it never kept us from serving with all our hearts at the ministry before us. However, when there is a longing in your heart for something just over the horizon, life can become boring in the wait. This isn’t always a good thing!  This boredom is something to take captive. God does not ask us to stop living as we wait. It’s a HARD thing to do, but needs to be done. Ministry DID continue on as we waited, but it was a constant battle to command our hearts to “do all things as unto the Lord” even in the waiting times.

The storms, as they got worse overhead had reminded me of where we had been. Ministry hadn’t always been nice to us. We’ve gone through betrayal from people we trusted to have our backs. We’d been treated poorly, been overlooked, undervalued, and been let down more times than we thought we could handle. The storms of ministry over the previous 12 years were bleak at times, but we never wanted to give up. We knew that God had called us, and we knew that the sun would someday shine (and really, it was sunny MOST of the time!). And just as the storm had gotten so bad that we contemplated pulling off the road and sitting for a bit, my spirit dropped. The fear of what could happen as we took on this new church in a town we do not know was getting the better of me. I was crying, frustrated at the weather, and at my own fears and I wanted to stop. But I wanted to  hurry up and get there. My excitement and fears were overtaking my thoughts. What if we failed the people of St. James? What if we really did not have what it takes to be leaders? What if they hated us? What if the church never grew and our kids were miserable? My questions were flooding in drowning out the voice of God I had been hearing for the past 9 hours! I felt completely overwhelmed, and then I looked up and the sky opened up. The clouds were dark all around, but the SON broke through. It wasn’t directly over the moving truck. It wasn’t just above the van. Instead it was a few miles up, at our exit into St. James.

In that moment, the fear slipped away. My heart calmed down and I reminded myself of who had called us. I remembered how God had worked out all the details for this position. I remembered all the lessons we’ve learned along the way. I remembered what we had already overcome with God’s leading, and I suddenly could see that the son would keep shining!

We pulled into our new home at about 7pm that night. We were met with the beautiful faces of our new church members. Life was good. Scary, but good! Unknown, but good!

Now, as we celebrate our 4 year anniversary at the church this weekend, we are living this ministry dream. Everything hasn’t been easy, but with God, it’s completely doable. Pastor is leading well. His preaching is top-notch week after week (sorry, I am supposed to be bias, but this is just a fact! haha) and our little church is growing!

I share for two reasons. 1. because I am overjoyed at how amazing God has been to us! I’m so happy that we applied to a small church in St.James, MN (I must confess… I did NOT want to move to Minnesota, but was committed to praying for the will of God. So I asked Pastor if he would not tell me where he was sending applications so that I could pray unhindered by my human biases. So I did not know what state St. James was in until we had decided to travel here for the interview.) I am forever thankful for the board and church members that took a chance on a young pastor who had no lead church experience. The faith it took for this church to take on a large family financially has proven to strengthen the church as a whole. We are so very blessed by the community and this church! 2. I share this for those friends who are still waiting for their sun to shine. Ministry isn’t the only place storms can brew. You may be living in yours right now. Keep your eyes open. God has a plan for your life. Don’t stop living in victory today because your tomorrow hasn’t come yet. God loves you TODAY. Don’t get bored and give up, don’t get discouraged and walk away. Let the clouds part and the SON shine. You, with God’s help, can do this!

 

If you are in the St. James, MN area and have not stopped by Crossroads Church in the past 4 years, give us a try! Our services are at 10a every Sunday Morning! Come celebrate with us this Sunday!
Follow us on Crossroads Church’s Facebook pagecrossroads 

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Know your Pastor’s Wife

Can I just say I love being a Pastor’s Wife. When I was very young my dad would drop us off at a local church when he had us on his weekend (probably to get a tad more sleep). And although I loved to learn about Jesus, I always watched the pastor’s wife. I remember saying I wanted to be one when I grew up. And I remember the odd looks I got. Once I became one, I thought “WHAT WAS I THINKING!?” After being in the ministry with my husband a couple of years a friend of mine got married to a pastor as well. About a year into their marriage she said to me, “Why didn’t you tell me how hard this was!? I’m kind of mad that nobody warned me!”

16 years into this gig and I’m still loving it. However, that statement doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean that it’s glamorous, and it doesn’t mean that I love every aspect. It simply means I am where God wants me, and THAT makes me happy. Being a wife of anyone isn’t always easy, but when your husband’s job puts expectations on you, no matter how absurd those expectations are, and no matter how much we KNOW they are absurd, it adds a level of stress to an otherwise pretty calm wife.

I recently read this article on the 9 Secrets Your Pastor’s Wife Won’t Say Outloud (read it if you have time). And I posted it on a community page that I’m a part of that consists of other WONDERFUL Pastor’s Wives (hey, us gals gotta stick together!). I asked them “What would you add”. Listed below are some of their statements. (some paraphrased)

  • I am the loneliest I’ve ever been in my entire life. When church members need someone to talk to they come to the pastors or the pastor’s wife. They can also go to a friend and pour out their souls. The Pastor’s wife can’t always go to her pastor, (sometimes he’s the reason she needs someone to talk to! lol). And most of the time she doesn’t have a good friend she can be completely open with. (see the next point)
  • We want friends, too. Many people don’t want to be friends with pastor’s wife. So we watch you and your other church friends go to coffee, go out shopping, or have a playdate it only reminds us of how hard it is to make friends… see the first point
  • .We shop second-hand stores, and rummage sales praying for great deals on nice looking clothing because we’re expected to look nice, but  have the lowest income of anyone in the church.
  • When people leave the church without a “reason”, we take it personally. It hurts our feelings (although we’ll graciously wish you well). We pour our heart and soul into helping our husband grow the church, and although deep down we understand everyone has the right to pick what church is right for them, and we DO get that we can’t be “right” for everyone… but when people just up and leave, it hurts… deep down we’re hurting.
  • Sometimes the expectations are over the top, and although we know that, we deep down feel the need to meet those unrealistic expectations. When we can’t, we feel guilty. (Many times because others have talked down to us when we can’t meet their impossible expectations)
  • Our children are just that, children. When church members expect them to live up to unbelievable expectations, they can easily crumble under that pressure. This can cause them to hate church, and eventually leave the church altogether because of their negative experiences.
  • Our children put in MANY hours per year helping at the church. Many times they help set up, help tear down, sleep in pews, come to church when they are under the weather, and work events rather than participate. So when they get extra treats, leftover snacks, or “inside privileges” trust me, THEY DESERVE IT!
  • Our children are church attenders just like yours are, so they should get to enter drawings, compete to win, and win prizes just like all other kids.
  • Associate pastors are pastors, too. Many times they get treated as second class… and their wives are treated even worse. Please be kind, Associate (including children’s and youth pastors) Pastors work VERY hard!)

Maybe these things shock you. Maybe it’s because you didn’t know that some people actually treat people poorly. And sometimes it’s not a deliberate thing, it’s just something that gets overlooked. And possibly you are one of the precious gems in your church who befriend the pastor’s wife and provide a good solid support for her. If that’s you… PRAISE GOD for YOU! Keep it up, and encourage others to do the same.

I have been in a handful of churches in my 16 years as Pastor’s wife (7 of those months I was just the pastor’s fiance) and I’ve experienced both sides. I’ve been hurt, I’ve been overlooked, I’ve been the topic of gossip, and the object of slander… but I’ve been loved, been valued, been supported, validated, and uplifted. Many Pastor’s Wives can’t say that last part of the sentence above. They live life under pressure, condemnation, and eventual depression. If you love Jesus, will you decide today to pray for your Pastor’s wife? Then do something for her. Take her to lunch, coffee, or shopping. See if she’d like to take a walk. Ask her how you can help her. And give her a little grace. Afterall, she’s just human, just like you.

I want to dedicate this post to a lovely lady that passed away WAY before her time. I wish she could see this and know that her encouragement to pastors and pastor’s wives has NEVER gone unnoticed! Wilma Beppler from Trinity Tabernacle in Bridgeton, MO was one of the most talented “Encouragers” I have ever met. I used to pray that God would duplicate the woman and place one of her in every pastor’s life. She was one of a kind. May her legacy live on in every church, and in every pastor’s life (and his wife!). Love you, Wilma, and miss you!

bedside

Why Do We Need Church

Just being a pastor’s wife makes people think they need to give me a list of excuses reasons as to why they can’t come to my church. Most of the times the reasons precede the invitation. It is true that I value Church. It is true that probably before the end of our conversation, or sometime during our friendship, I WILL ask you to come to church with me (or ask you what church you attend), but that’s just because I love it so much! **Please, friends, know that your answer to that question does not make or break our friendship!** So… WHY do I ask? Why is it that so many Christians fill church pews each week. What is the big deal? I mean, you CAN be a Christian even if you don’t attend church, right? Well…

To be saved, the Bible does not say one must attend a church. To receive the gift God gave us all on that cross (the gift of eternal salvation), church attendance was not a stipulation… but don’t let out your sigh of relief just yet… (be sure to keep reading!!!)

Private worship is good. A person can be engaged at home with no distractions of kids, of candy wrappers, or someone clapping off beat. There are no hands to shake at home, and well, no hypocrites to have to rub elbows with. So why not just stay home? You can find lots of sermons online or on tv… and you even get to attend Bedside Assembly in your favorite pair of pjs. But this assumes that going to church is solely supposed to be personal. This excuse reason only addressed the individualized portions of church. Private worship can be inspiring, spiritual, and even give you the goose bumps… but to me it’s like saying, “I must have a heart beat, I must breath, but to be alive I don’t need to EAT!”

Yep, no doubt we need blood in our veins. And we have to have oxygen to breath, but we won’t survive if we stop there… In our lives, salvation is #1. But if we just stop there… We need church! Here’s why…

 

  1. It is part of our training!  Without hearing another view outside of our own, we can easily lead ourselves down the wrong path with the very best intentions. Listening to a tv preacher (or via radio) leaves you without opportunity to ask questions and lessens your training experience.
  2. Worship is an invitation given by God. We should never look at it as an obligation, so we should never feel that rebellious feelings of being FORCED to go. When my kids don’t want to come for whatever reason (usually they are tired, or playing and don’t want to be interrupted…) I do not say to them, “WE HAVE TO! IT’S WHAT A GOOD PERSON DOES!” I instead tell them that once we’re there, we’ll remember how much we love it. I tell them that it’s something God wants for us, and a great way we can give back to Him. I remind them of what Psalms 84:10 says, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere; I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.” Worshiping as a community is a gift. A blessing and something we will love once we have truly experienced it. WHEN we remain true to God’s plan for Church, we’ll find we long for it! **If your church isn’t Biblical, find another. But if it’s just a preference thing, give it a chance!
  3. CHURCH IS WORTH IT!!!!
    The relationship with prayer partners, with those who help us carry the burden, and with those whose burden we are able to lift… IS WORTH IT!
    The accountability… even when we blow it… IS WORTH IT!
    The corporate prayer, the laying on of hands… IS WORTH IT!
    The praise reports that build our faith… IS WORTH IT!
    The corporate singing… IS SO WORTH IT!!! I love to sing in my pjs- coffee in one hand, the other raised in adoration for all He’s done. I love to shout His praise songs while filling my dishwasher in my kitchen. I love spending quiet time in worship with God (when I can find any quiet in this house!) But every major moment I’ve ever recalled in worship has occured in the midst of corporate worship. Nothing takes it place. NOTHING! IT IS WORTH IT!

And if that isn’t enough (it really is for me… but just in case)…

4. The Bible says so. “Let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deed, not giving up on meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another- and all the more as you see the Day approaching” Hebrews 10:25 (emphasis mine). Church isn’t a new thing. Believers have been attending since THE church began. We read in Acts that the first christians met- “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42)

And honestly, if your a Christian, it’s an act of obedience. John 14:23 shows us where Jesus is speaking to his followers saying, “If you love me you will obey my teaching.” And when we obey in this area, we will see our walk grow closer to Him.

Finish reading Acts 2. You will find that church attendance for a Christian is so much deeper! It’s not all about you. (I didn’t bold it to yell… so tell that offended spirit to simmer down!) You are missing out on all you can offer others in the name of God when you miss out on worshiping corporately. At the risk of sounding overly cliche, might we say, “Ask not what your church can do for you, but what you can do for your church.” You have the perfect opportunity to be used by God in a mighty way when you submit yourself to a local church!

 

So, now what? Just GO! There are so many you can choose from based on preference. (and some you shouldn’t go to… just pick one that teaches the Word… read your word so you know the difference). So, pick one and GO!

You’re always invited to sit by me!

 

 

 

The Pastor’s Wife attends Crossroads Church in St. James, MN. Services are… Sundays: 9a Sunday School 10a Worship.  Tuesdays 6p Youth@Crossroads.  Wednesdays 6:30p Adult Bible Study and King’s Kids. We are located at 721 Weston Ave. Contact Pastor Dave at 507-375-5920 for any questions.

You Kiss Your Mother with that Mouth

I want to introduce you to my MAN! He’s writes a column in the paper on a rotation with some of the other daveypastors in town. I love when he does because I see people throughout town and I stand a tad bit taller when people approach me and tell me, “I sure did like your husband’s article in the paper!” So I asked him to send me a copy so I could publish it, too. I sure hope that’s legal… So, if you didn’t read it in the paper, you have another chance…
The original can be found in St. James Plaindealer… pick up your own copy before the new one comes out!

You Kiss your Mother with that Mouth?
                                                                            By Pastor Dave Ciske of Crossroads Church

When my family and I first moved to St. James, I knew very little, if anything about farming.  I think I’ve learned at least a little more in my 3+ years here.  I was “amazed” when talking to a farmer a short time ago at his description of how they figure out the correct time to harvest soybeans.  The farmer goes out to the field, picks a pod, checks if it pops open indicating the correct dryness, and then he pops a bean in his mouth to check the moisture level of that.  There is a small contraption he uses to test the overall moisture of the beans so the farmer can get the most “bang for his buck”, but I was a tad surprised, with technological advancements, that this is still the way the farmer works.  Before that conversation I thought they had robots going out there doing it…I kid.

One thing I didn’t need a farmer to tell me, though, was that when the farmer sows soybeans, and the conditions are correct for growth, that farmer is going to reap soybeans.  The farmer that plants a soybean, isn’t going to grow an avocado tree.  Agriculture in general is a prominent theme and metaphor used in the Bible.   Specifically, Galatians 6:7 states, “Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.” (ESV)  Earlier in Galatians 5:22-23 we’re given the fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, etc.).  To put it simply, if you’re interested in these fruits growing in you, you’re going to need to plant seeds of love, joy, peace, etc., and not seeds of hate, anger and malice.

I don’t know if you’ve heard or not (again, I kid), but there’s a school referendum we’re voting on in November.  The referendum itself has not done this, but the two sides of it have sown some seeds of discouragement in me, personally.  I have heard some pretty hate-filled, malicious talk from both sides of this and it’s appalling.  What’s even more concerning, is when you hear the words of Christ in Luke 6:45, “For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” (NKJV)  In some of the hateful things I’ve heard or seen on social media, I can’t help but think, “There’s no way they feel this way because of a referendum…there are deeper issues there”, but I digress.  This isn’t a counseling session.

Don’t get me wrong…I have no problems with the passion from either side.  There should be passion.  We’re talking about two important subjects, our children and our money.  But we have to learn that we can disagree with someone and not hate them and speak maliciously against them.

Studies show that the most powerful earthly influence on a child is not the teacher, a peer, a pastor, etc.  It’s the parent(s).  “If (parents) do not invest enough of their time and commitment into pouring emotionally into their child, the child will struggle to learn how to regulate his emotions and interact with others appropriately.” (Bethel Moges & Kristi Weber) How you treat those you disagree with (whether that person is around or not) will have a more profound impact on your child than any referendum that’s ever passed or not passed, now and in the future of this school district.

If you don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, and are tearing people down as they stand on the opposite side of you in this referendum, I encourage you to find Christ by simply saying, “Lord, I need you”, then get in contact with one of the Christian pastors from one of the churches next to this article.  If you have a relationship with Christ, and are speaking maliciously of others, repent!  Turn from your ways and cry to God for forgiveness.  Then I encourage you to go to the person(s) you have come against and ask for forgiveness.  If you really want to make an impact, bring your kid with so they can see what humility and forgiveness is all about.

Thank you, Pastor, for reminding us to play nice! If you’d like to hear more from Pastor Dave, please visit us at Crossroads Church. We meet every Sunday at 9a for Sunday School, and 10a for service. We meet on Wednesdays at 6:30p (adults and children for all of these services) and if you have a teen (or pre-teen) 6th-12th grade Youth@Crossroads meets on Tuesdays at 6:30p.
Questions? Call the office at 507-375-5920

PApp

The Unappreciated Pastor

Last Monday my husband was out-of-town. An amazing lady from my church brought dinner to my house so I didn’t have to cook when my husband was away. While she was visiting with me in my backyard my son came outside and said, “Mom, a lady from church dropped off dinner!” My kids and I had the most fabulous smorgasbord dinner! I teared up. My husband and I had just been talking about how when I am out-of-town everyone flocks to him to make sure he’s taken care of. I laugh and think, “He DID live before he met me!” But no one had ever thought of ME when HE was out-of-town. The gestures dug deep inside my heart!

Today I got a phone call from another lovely lady in our church. “Will you be around this afternoon, I’d like to bring your family dinner!” I paused, pushed my mouth closed and half cried/ half gleefully shouted, “YES!” Did she know that we had unexpectedly lost our water due to a water main break this morning? Did she know I worked that night and was JUST wondering how we’d manage dinner, clean up, and LIFE without water!?

Two Monday’s in a row!? What’s going on!?

Well, it might be that October is Pastor Appreciation Month (and, honestly, I’ve learned with my church, it might also just be that THEY ARE AWESOME!). Feeling blessed in small ways fuels a pastor! But what happens when the church forgets? What happens when you need a meal and no one thinks to bring one? What happens when you,  the pastor,  have dealt with a very unhappy church member most of the week? Or when the church finances are down for the 4th month in a row and you, as the pastor, have gone over the numbers 1800 times? Or when a church member moves away leaving a major gap in ministry roles and you, the pastor, are scrambling to fill the spot… week after week… after week. Or What happens when you’re JUST the associate (youth or children pastor, intern or staff pastor whatever your title may be) and you get overlooked yet again. And the church never sees, and never tangibly blesses, and they pass over the entire month with nothing… not even a small card of appreciation? What then?

We’ve been there. We’ve read about pastors being blessed with Disney trips, or new (to them) cars, with fellowship dinners, and homemade meals brought to their doorsteps all in the same month that we were told, “Since we don’t have a pastor, we’re not going to have to do Pastor Appreciation this year!” (While the youth pastor’s wife sat back exhausted trying to help her husband, who was exhausted, who was filling in between Senior pastors).  We’ve been on staff at churches where the senior pastor was showered with admiration (deservingly) while we sat to the side with no recognition at all. It hurts. It feels like a punch in the gut when that last Sunday of October comes to pass and the truth sets in that the church has overlooked the month altogether. I wish it hadn’t happened… but over the last 15 years of ministry together in 5 churches, it has happened once or twice. **Let me add this disclaimer here… it was in the past, it was what it was. We are FINE now, we are not mad, we are not grudge holders, we are happy, healthy, and the ministry and life went on. Please, know all is well!**

So, how do pastors, and their families, get past the lack of appreciation? It’s not like you pastors entered the ministry for the appreciation dinner one Sunday in October. Getting cards with words of affirmation wasn’t the driving force behind all those late nights cramming during your college years.  Those very appreciative gift cards to your favorite restaurant aren’t the sole reason you pastors sit at the hospital with a sick church member into the wee hours of the morning.  Your goal as a pastor isn’t to get a pat on the back for shepherding those not only in your church, but in your towns. It’s not the incentives that drive your work, so why does it hurt so bad when no one notices?

Can I encourage you that someone DOES notice! Can I encourage you and remind you that GOD notices! He knows all the things you do. He has seen your hard work and your patient endurance. (Rev 2:2). 

Can I encourage you as I refresh your memory that God sees what is done in secret and WILL reward you. (Matthew 6:18) (and dear pastor friend, it WILL be better than ANY restaurant gift card!!!)

Let me show you what appreciation is coming your way… Luke 6:23 says, “your reward is great in heaven”. Luke 14:14 says “For you will be repaid at the resurrection”.

You see, what you pastors (and your families) are doing here on earth has eternal rewards that can not be measured in human terms. The things unseen are your reward, like the numbers added to the book of life because of your obedience to the call. Although it seems that there are more complainers than rejoicers this side of heaven,  it should never negate the awe-inspiring, life- changing, soul-transforming miracles that happen throughout your ministry life.  Because you choose to seek His approval and not man’s, your reward may look different from those climbing a corporate ladder. Our reward is eternal. No fellowship dinner will beat the dinner table in heaven!

For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
( 2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

You did not enter the ministry for the MAN, but for the man’s heart. You did not enter the ministry because of the outward approval of the church, but for the Savior the church is pointed towards. And the recognition isn’t always there while in the midst of the battle here on earth. But when we serve the One True God, he won’t forget. His inheritance has already been set aside as your reward. My fellow pastor’s wife… YOU ARE SERVING THE LORD CHRIST! What an honor!

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” (Colossians 3:23-24)

Please know that your ministry is valued. Please know that your giving… and giving… and giving does serve a purpose. Believe me when I say that just because no one sees the hours spent in the trenches does not mean they’ve gone unrecorded.  Please believe me, young staff pastor, when I quote Luke 6:38  “…Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” I KNOW this, I live this! It WILL be measured back to you. Let God do His thing and sit back and count your blessings. They may not come in the form of dinners, cars, Disney trips… but they can warm the heart in more superior ways.

Pastors don’t be discouraged. Don’t be let down by the actions of mere humans. WE all make mistakes, and miss the mark from time to time. Know that God is watching. God is noticing, God is recognizing all your hard work. Interns, children’s pastors, youth associates, volunteer pastors… please feel the words I write to you. Your ministry was given to you because God felt you were the right one for the job. Keep trekking on! Keep giving; Keep pouring out, pressing down, shaking the lives of those around you! Keep running the race, because we all know  “that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28) (emphasis mine)

Oh, and one last thing…

HAPPY PASTOR  APPRECIATION MONTH!

ATTENTION CHURCH MEMBERS!!! Please don’t let your pastor, or ANY staff pastor (or intern) feel this way… be the one to plan something at your church, for some ideas visit my Pintrest page just for Pastor’s Appreciation…
Pastor Appreciation Ideaspastor