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


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…


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

Public Service Announcement to those Offended

Apparently “Open Letters” are very popular today. I’m very specific about what bandwagon to jump on,  I understood “Open Letter” to mean something along the “The More You Know” meaning. However it is really supposed to be something more critical than I ever want to be. So this is NOT an open letter, but a “The more you know” type “letter” if you will. My sister would want me to include the logo, so here ya go…

nbc_the_more_you_knowThe more you know is actually more fitting anyway, because, you see, the more you know a person, the less offended you are at the things they say. Did that offend you? Then this is for you.

Being offended is a common emotion. It’s when it’s not reigned in that it becomes destructive. It’s a force that not only hurts the person being offended, but the person your offended by. Let me be sure you understand the type of “Offended” I mean. I’m speaking about when a person feels resentful or annoyed, typically as a result of a perceived insult. I am NOT speaking of when someone deliberately sins against you.  I can’t really find the word in the Bible, however I do see that God desires for us to be “Slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to become angry.” (James 1:9) Yet so many of us hear something (or most often READ something) and become instantly offended. We attach emotions to words that were never intended. We listen to the words and not the heart. We read words and attach a tone that was never intended to come across instead of stopping and thinking, “How would this person speak to me?” This is the main reason I do not deal with conflict via email, Facebook messenger, or worst of all, a status update or Facebook comment. I need a person to HEAR my heart. I need them to see my face and to feel my touch on their shoulder.I need them to feel my hug, or to see the ache in my soul if I have to confront an issue. If I get into a discussion where it is not possible to see face to face, I say in my comment “I know you can’t hear my tone, so please believe me when I say my tone is________. ” This way it has been expressed and how that person reads it is on them since I have stated my intended purpose.
When you find yourself offended on a regular basis, something needs to change. And, my friend, it most likely isn’t the person (or persons) who offended you.
Here are a few things you can ask yourself.
 “Do I know this person?”
 If not, don’t walk around with the destructive emotion of offense. You have no relationship with that person. Therefore why allow them to hurt your feelings. Just take a cue from Elsa (Let it go!). It may be possible that you are misunderstanding or you are perceiving  something that was never there. You don’t know their heart, you don’t know what their intentions were. If you need clarification, before becoming offended, ask. “What did you mean by_______.” (quick to listen… listen to where they are coming from. This will also aid in how to pray for them).
Do I have a relationship with this person? If you do, what do you know about them? Are they hateful and do they regularly make it a point to be mean, rude, and crass?
 If so, you are in an unhealthy relationship and may need to remove yourself from their company. Sometimes this is as simple as clicking the “Unfriend” button on Facebook. Sometimes it is more difficult. Sometimes you just have to love them anyway. But you DON’T have to walk around offended all the time.  YOU HAVE A CHOICE. You can actually CHOOSE not to be offended… even if the person INTENDED to offend. HA! Did you know that!!!?? You can let their negative words/actions roll off your back.You can take the opportunity to pray for them.  You can decide they need your love more than your hurt feelings. (Please know that if this person is attending your church, and is claiming to be a Christian and is purposefully setting out to hurt you, actions do need to be taken to confront their SIN. See Matthew 18)
If you know the person and they aren’t a mean-spirited human being set out to destroy you, then why be so offended? When I say that being offended is destructive, I mean it on both ends. When you find yourself offended regularly, you begin to change your perception of the person who you feel is offending you. You are sensitive to whatever they say. And they begin to pull away in fear of  offending you. In my own experiences a majority of the times I’m offended it was because of a misunderstanding. If I would have simply asked, “What did you mean when you said______?” I could have cleared up a huge gauge in my heart. The relationship can become tarnished when we fail to be quick to listen. When we read into something that wasn’t there. Again, I’m not talking about when people back bite, gossip about us, spew hatred in our faces, those are sins that need to be addressed, I’m speaking of  the resentment and annoying feelings one gets over what another has said. I’m speaking of the perceived insult that the offended person took away from a conversation that may not have been an insult at all. When I fail to see the person as they are and add in emotions to words that were never intended to be added, I create an image of that person that is a false image. It’s destructive. It alters the relationship in a negative way. It hinders true love, and leaves heart ache in its path. When we know someone we should know their heart. So when a word doesn’t seem to line up with the heart you know, the most positive thing you can do is ask, “What did you mean by that?” Our first response should never be offense. If it is, you have two different images of that person. The one you KNOW, and the one you PERCEIVE. I often think, “Is this person a mean hearted person? Do they set out to hurt people? No? Then they probably didn’t mean it the way I took it.” If the feeling persists, I ask, “Did you mean_______?” I give my emotions to God and I ask him to help me decipher them. What I DON’T do is get mad at the person. I don’t walk around recreating this mean person from a remark a NICE person made. It takes effort. It means taking the thought captive, lining it up with what I KNOW and asking God to deal with the emotions behind it. I’m responsible for my own emotions. I’m responsible for my own responses to my emotions. It’s human to feel hurt, but that’s an indicator, not a dictator. What I do with that hurt (or offense) is between me and God. Walking around with it only leads to destruction. On the side of the offended it destroys our day, it destroys our relationship with that person, it destroys our witness, and it destroys our future encounters with that person. On the side of the one who “offended” it destroys their intended meaning, it destroys their trust and security of the relationship they have with the one offended. There is NO good that comes from it.
Let me give some examples.
If I talk to my sister (and because I KNOW my sister, I know this won’t offend her) and she says in a laughing manner, “What ragamuffins your kids are! It is 4 in the afternoon and they are still in their pjs! Step it up, Mama!” and If I am already being insecure about my parenting that day, I may hear it as “You are an inferior mom, and you aren’t taking proper care of your kids!” None of the words she actually said.  I have a choice RIGHT NOW! I can 1. take offense, get off the phone or walk away and mull over these hateful words my sister said to me. I can place extra meanings to it. I can begin to change the way I see my sister. “She is so judgmental! She has no clue what I deal with in my life, she is so insensitive!” I can do this to the point that I create a NEW person in my mind. So now who used to be a loving awesome sister is now  mean-spirited sister who thinks I’m a horrible mother. (I progressed quite quickly, I see that… but you get the point) Now, I’ve destroyed the relationship we once had. I’m destructive to myself by being hurt by something never intended to hurt, and I’m destructive to her by tainting her personality in my mind. The result? I stop talking to her, I stop listening to her, I’m easily offended by future things she says. I read in those emotions to all things she says. So when she later says, “Wow! Look at that hair! It’s amazing!” I hear it in a sarcastic insensitive tone. I’ve destroyed us! She begins to hold back. She stops talking to me about my kids because she senses my resistance. She begins to question what she CAN say, and little by little our friendship diminishes.  I’ve destroyed us because I chose to be offended. (My sisters and I are GOOD! I use this example, that has NEVER happened between us,  because I know them and I know they love me and know my heart and won’t be offended). When you cause your loved ones to walk on egg shells in fear of offending you, you have destroyed a beautiful relationship that could flourish if only there was freedom to do so.
I DO have another choice here… If I talk to my sister and she says, “What ragamuffins your kids are! It’s 4 in the afternoon and they are still in their pjs! Step it up, Mama!” and if I’m already insecure about my parenting that day, I could laugh it off KNOWING that my sister, who isn’t judgemental, hateful, and insensitive, didn’t mean it the way I took it. OR, I could say, “Oh my goodness, I’m having a bad day and that really rubbed me wrong! You don’t mean that the way the words came out do you?” To which my sister (either one) would reply, “NO WAY!!! Let me pray for you!” Maybe that would resonate in your heart as well and she’d be sure to phrase her comment differently next time. (**If she is offended by my attempt to better understand her words, that is between her and God, and she should read this blog post! haha)
I could also choose to let it pass and pray about it. (Slow to speak). I could ask God to help my own insecurities since I know my sister’s heart and I know that her personality would not criticize my parenting. I would need to let it go, give it to God and walk away from it.
When we allow unintended emotions to be attached to words, we change their meaning. We also attribute negative attributes to a person when that is not who the person is at all. When we allow an offense to change what was said, we also allow that offense to change the person who said the words. The person doesn’t actually change, but the way you look at them does. You in essence create a fictitious character, one that is critical, judgmental, insensitive. Then the most damaging part of this is when you begin treating the REAL person the same as you would treat the fictitious one you’ve created. You’ve believed a lie. Not one the person has said, but one that you’ve created in your own head. It’s damaging not only to your relationship, but to that person. The person who said something completely innocent is now made out to be this evil person set out to do you harm. If my sister (or any loved one) saw me as an evil person set out to do them harm it would break my heart. It would show me that they do not know me. Nor do they want to get to know me. They have chosen to be quick to speak, slow to listen, and quick to become angry (and /or offended).
When you are unsure, ask. When you feel someone you know has criticized you, ask them for clarification.
Be quick to listen. then do just that… Listen to their words. Trust them at their words. Don’t allow yourself to read into what they are saying, instead fall back on the REAL them that you know. (Are they mean? Are their goals in life to do you harm? Are they mostly loving? do they make mistakes on occasion and perhaps this time the words didn’t come across as they intended? ASK).
Be slow to anger. Allow your loved one to explain BEFORE getting mad, upset, or offended. Decide now to nurture that relationship and stop adding to the damage.
Be slow to speak. When we allow our emotions to dictate our responses, we are more than likely going to hurt the relationship and the person’s heart. When our first reaction is to gasp with offense, and begin spewing accusations their way, we remove a huge chance to mend that moment, to reign things in without more hurt feelings.
When a direct insult has been made. When words can not be taken any other way but to be an insult hurled your way, or when you KNOW the person to be a rude, inconsiderate person, you would deal with those things by confronting the sin. You would privately SPEAK (not via written word) address something that was truthfully said. But when you imply meaning behind words not said, you are not only hurting yourself, but the other person as well. To be offended means to perceive an insult. So what will you do with that perception? Let is spin out of control? Let it dictate the way you treat a person? Let your mind build a fictitious person? Or will you choose to be slow to speak (pray instead, or let it go completely), quick to listen (ask the right questions to get clarification), and slow to become angry (reign in your offense)? Being offended is your choice. What do you choose?
Let’s choose life! Build relationships, don’t tear them down. Let your emotions be an indicator to ask questions, to learn more, instead of letting them dictate how you respond.
Choose to not be offended. You can do it! We can do it! Let’s start now! (even if that means starting over.)

What part of the Armor of God keeps bugs out of my face?

As I posted recently, I’ve taken a challenge to bike my town. You can see that post here.

As I bike I run into more and more ways God is speaking to me about my ministry. I am not a pastor. But I definitely feel I am in ministry. So for further reference, let me explain what “ministry” is. It can be a full-time, educated, paid position. But it doesn’t HAVE to be. To do ministry is a day-to-day act of pointing towards Jesus. To make a conscious effort to tell others about Jesus, through your speech, demeanor, love, and wisdom.
I am a pastor’s wife, and I see the full-time, educated, paid ministry on a day-to-day basis. So although I feel God is speaking to me about the ministry my husband and I do, I also feel it can be used in any ministry.

I’m biking in July now. And awesome enough it’s been fairly cool out, so I figured I could get out without being eaten alive by bugs… and as I’m riding through SWARMS of various bugs, I’m reminded of the many “bugs” I’ve encountered in this ministry journey. I am very thankful that I face far more warm-hearted, encouraging, loving people… but unfortunately the bugs seem to stand out.

The weather was great out. There was a cool breeze, not too hot, not too cold. I knew I could get a good ride in before dark so I set out. Without realizing what I was doing I headed for the lake. I paused thinking, Won’t the mosquitos be heavy by the lake? But the wind was pretty steady, so I went for it anyway. As soon as I made it far enough for it to make no sense to turn back I hit the SWARMS of bugs. I think we learned in science last year that they are called “noseeums”. No-SEE- ums. The pastor takes a church based on where they feel called, where the doors open, and how the spirit moves as they “interview” at the church. Of course the bugs don’t come out, they lay low, they are the no see ums. When you move into your new home, and dream of showing Christ to your neighbor you don’t realize just who your neighbors might be. They are the no see ums. The gnatty side doesn’t come out until after the honeymoon phase.

These bugs (people) could care less that you’re soaring along, wind in your hair, feeling ministry is just so easy. They fly right into your eyes. They cloud your vision. Telling you you’re not making changes fast enough, or WAY too fast (for pastors), or they start complaining that your kid left their bike out in the yard. They cause you to squint, glare, and close your eyes. They could care less that you can no longer see where your going. Will you let your vision be clouded?

Just as you pick up speed, a huge moth flies right into your face. You’d think you’d be able to dodge it, but moths look so gentle… until they smack you upside your head! Nothing hurts worse in ministry than those you love, the ones you feel God put in your path to minister to (whether it’s your congregation, the youth, your sunday school class, or your coworkers) would rather smack you around instead of following you. Here you thought white angelic, soft little moth was “cute”. They wreak havoc on your life, and your ministry.

So as you’re pedaling along on the path of this ministry, you hit some hills (be sure to see what I think about these angry hills, by reading my previous post mentioned above), and if you’re like me, you crank up the music and sing along. My feet pedal faster as my spirit lifts higher… so I do the obvious, I open my mouth and sing. I’d bet you can tell where this is going.  If you open your mouth, the bugs fly in! You hack, you cough, you spit… but the taste is still there. The bugs in your life, and ultimately in your ministry leave a bad taste in your mouth. 50% of the ministers starting out will not last 5 years. 1 out of every 10 ministers will actually retire as a minister in some form. And 4,000 new churches begin each year while 7,000 churches close. Bugs can leave such a nasty taste in your mouth, that some stop ministering completely.

And right when you learn your lesson, and decide to breath through your nose, you begin to inhale the pesky bugs. Without some type of protection, bugs will take your breath away. I’m not sure that these swarms of bugs set out to make my ride miserable. I’m not sure they had me in mind when they got all buggy, but their actions still affected me. And I realized I needed protection. I need a nice bike helmet with a shield. Like I was a motorcyclist. But what if you’re not on a bike, but just trying to follow what you feel God has called you to do?

Wear protection… maybe I should reword that. Protect yourself and keep ministering.

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world (maybe they are called “noseeums”), against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.

 Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.  Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness.  For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared.  In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

 Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. (Ephesians 6:11-18) **italicized words were added by me**

The ministry will always have them. But with our full armor, I think we can save our vision, our faces, our breath, and save us from eating bugs!

Oh, and let’s not forget the beginning verse of this passage. Verse 10 says

A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.

Keep biking/ministering… it will make you stronger! Be STRONG in the Lord! His mighty power is worth it!



**Disclosure… We are so very blessed in our current ministry, and I am in no way, shape or form implying that our church is full of bugs. But I also know that as we grow, and continue to teach, our church, as with most churches are not immune from such bugs. I do not have specific names for my bugs, but over the past 15 years, I’ve seen enough to understand the analogy God showed me as I was fighting off the swarms on a July evening bike ride.


THIS is my town!


This is my town, the town I feel God called us to be in. These are the streets to my town, the streets we’ve been called to minister to.

We can preach, teach, and entertain. We can speak, shake hands, and advertise. We can connect, wave to  passersby, smile big. But without prayer, these things are useless. Prayer changes things.

About 6 weeks ago I attended a retreat for ministers’ wives. The speaker spoke of her passion for her town, and her passion for fitness. She combined the two by running the streets of her town and praying over every house. This struck a chord with me. Although I don’t believe every idea works for every person, I felt this one was being spoken directly to me. I can’t run. But I have a bike! My town may not be a metropolis, but for an overweight lady with a standard bike (no gears for those uphill battles) my small town was a challenge just for me.

I set out to bike every street in my town, to pray over every house within the city limits of my town. I set my Pandora station to a collection of worship stations, and went to town on prayer for my city. The time and distance were VERY enlightening.Image

3 weeks, 75.2 Miles, 15:59 hours, and 10,736 calories later I learned so much about how God wants to use Crossroads Church in this community. Although some of those things are still in the works and I’ll update the successes as they come, let me share with you some general insights I gained.

I was so gung-ho about tackling my challenge, but finding the time to fit into my current life was a struggle. I had to make sacrifices. I had to ask my husband to understand my desires and ask him for help. He would often (ok, almost always) clean up after dinner so I could go out and bike. Or he’d put the kids to bed for me. And often times I missed my favorite tv show to be out praying over my town. Ministry takes sacrifices at times. We may miss things from time to time. I’m not saying we should neglect the important things in our lives (family), but to make sacrifices to our comfort, our routine… to prioritize. And I had to ask for help in order to do it. I had to realize I couldn’t do it all. I couldn’t take my kids along, I couldn’t leave them home alone. I couldn’t neglect my responsibilities, but I could ask for help.

I set a goal to complete this challenge. But it rained… a lot! I learned to leave God in charge and to do what I could do, and let Him take care of the rest. The purpose for ministry isn’t to get OUR results, but to get HIS. To wait out the storms, and keep praying.

When I dawdled, I’d leave my house late. Even though I had a clear path set out for me, when I hesitated (tried to get more done before leaving), I’d be biking in the dark. Small town or not, cars speeding by a slow biker in the dark is scary. STAY IN THE LIGHT! don’t wander from His light. Ministry is safer in the light. *by this I mean, following His will for your ministry. When we veer, we lose His light, and that is a scary place to be!

There are HILLS! For every down hill, wind blowing in my hair, experience, there is a hill to climb. Sometimes I thought I’d have to get off my bike and walk it up a hill. I am so thankful I didn’t have to do that (*tip: count. I’d count my pedaling to get myself up those steep hills… with no gears on my bike!). Ministry has some STEEP hills. and although the fast pace, joyful wind in my face downhill ride was more relaxing, fun, and easier… the hills were going to come. It’s not always easy. Ministry can be hard! Pedal fast (pray hard) during the downhill times, and you’ll find yourself half way up the hill before the pain sets in… and do it often enough and those hills won’t seem so big anymore.

Speaking of hills. There were times when I could have grumbled that I didn’t have a bike with the neat-o gears that would help me up those hills. But I was reminded that God doesn’t call us based on the equipment we have. He equips us where we are. Our church is small, our resources are limited. But we won’t let that hold us back! Ministry can be just as effective regardless of the equipment you have. God is all you NEED. So thankful for the bike (given to me), I’ll use what I have and keep trekking forward.

In order to reach EVERY house within the city, I found myself doing a complete 5 mile ride for ONE house. Image

Ministry is worth it even if we only reach ONE! I prayed I’d go the distance for ONE family… For ONE mother… for ONE child… for ONE lost soul. This particular route led me to switch directions and I found 5 more homes to pray over. They may not have met the “inside the city limits” , but they were houses that I just couldn’t pass up. ONE may eventually lead to many… go the distance!


I completed this task about 10 days ago. And my first couple of bike rides following felt meaningless. I didn’t know which way to turn, what path to take, or if I was motivated enough to finish out a worthy workout. I pray that is the case with our ministry. That without a purpose, I feel lost. That that will motivate me to stay focused on what God’s purpose is for the ministry. Doing church for the sake of doing church is meaningless.  We can preach, teach, and entertain. We can speak, shake hands, and advertise. We can connect, wave to a passerby, smile big. But without purpose, these things are useless. Prayer changes things, it gives us purpose. What is God’s purpose for your ministry. You don’t have to be a pastor (or pastor’s wife) to have a ministry. What is God calling you to do?

I pray we see something big come from saturating this town in prayer. We plan on hitting the streets soon, and I pray I can share some wonderful praise reports soon. Until then… pedal on, ministers!


My evolution of Worship

When I made the decision to follow God, to live for Him, to allow Him to guide me, I learned right away that worship was a powerful thing. At the age of 13, I could feel that wonderful, yet very powerful, Holy Spirit at work during the worship aspect of Church. Sometimes it was warm and comforting, other times it was a heavy weight on my shoulders. I learned very quickly to enter in, or get out!

At age 13, worship was a learning process for me. I was learning how to listen to God. I was learning to follow His prompting. I was learning what to do with all the emotions that ran through me during that time. (When we youth pastored, we often saw teens that suddenly had to use the restroom in the heaviest part of worship. This was their physical bodies being uncomfortable with what their spiritual bodies were encountering. They were learning.) I either worshipped, or I would walk out.

At age 16, I became a worshipper. I no longer counted down the minutes until the song service was over, instead I was free to raise my hands, or lower my head, or fall on my knees, however the spirit led. I loved every note, I loved singing and truly worshiping. I would grow with each church service as I really listened to God speak to me. I felt called into ministry not during a sermon, but during the worship time.

At age 20, I attended a Christian College. I loved chapel services. I set my work schedule around the chapel services each day. The service was 40 minutes long. That left about 15 minutes designated to worship. I learned at this time to enter in quickly. I learned that if I wanted to gain the benefits of true worship, I could not wait for the perfect song sung by my favorite worship leader. I had to walk in, begin to sing to God and enter in. I never felt like it was enough, but I learned quickly to get as much as I could out of worship in the little time I had. It was at this time in my life that in the midst of worship God spoke to me and shone a supernatural light on a gorgeous man pacing at the altar in prayer. The lifeline that God had established between me and Him during worship was used to show me the man I would marry. (unbelievable, yet SO amazing!)

By age 24, I had allowed myself to get too dependent on songs, great singers,  and “the right atmosphere” in order to enter into worship. I got bogged down with ministry, busy with work, weighted down with the things that come with life. I still worshipped, but it wasn’t the same. I walked through the motions, had few breakthroughs, and didn’t anticipate it as much as the 10 years prior.  I would have never known this was where I had allowed myself to fall had it not been for a church that loved worship. Pastor and I had taken a new youth pastorate and the church was a church of worship. I felt myself starting all over. I had to relearn to worship. I had to learn how to let go and surrender and allow God to take over. I had to learn that worship wasn’t just about me. It was about us! About God and me! I had to relearn the convicting power the Holy Spirit holds. I had to relearn how to deal with that conviction. I had to learn again how to enter in no matter what the circumstances. Oh, how I praise God for teaching a forgetful student. I believe that church, and their obedience to God, and their openness to worship SAVED MY LIFE!

At age 26 I found myself and my worship loving church under attack. Our worship was being threatened. It was a time in my life where I fought for my worship time. I moved my physical body away from those who would not allow my spiritual bodies to be moved. I pressed forward even when the circumstances were purposefully attempting to hold me back. Worship became a lifeline, a sacred time, something I NEEDED to fight for.

At age 29, I had a 2-year-old and an infant and worship was not an undivided event any longer. Our church at the time kept the kids in the worship service. So Pastor would be on the stage leading worship, and I’d be cuddling a baby while chasing a 2-year-old. Life wasn’t easy, church wasn’t easy, and worship wasn’t easy. I had to worship differently. I had to find time at home, in my car, late at night, or in the few minutes where my son was building with bibles beside me and my daughter was fast asleep in her carseat. It wasn’t ideal, but I craved worship.

Now, at a (VERY) young age of 35, I find myself at our very own church, where my FOUR children are now sitting beside me as we worship. I’m a seasoned worshipper. I’m an educated worshipper. I am a lover of worship… yet, I am a distracted worshipper. To put into perspective of what I mean, this is how my worship experience went today… First song, I was snapping fingers on one hand with another hand raised in worship. I was shushing in between my words of affirmation to God. The 2nd song, I had my 2-year-old entertained, my (soon to be) 4-year-old looking for ‘Rs’ in the Old testament, my 7-year-old sitting at the end of the pew, and my 8-year-old beside me and I got one whole song to myself. I cried for it had been so long. I closed my eyes (with an occasional one eye opened ), asked God to speak, and reminded Him how much I love and adore Him, His presence, and the life He’s blessed me with. I was able to raise both hands, let loose and sing my heart out (oh, I’ve learned by now that if I want to sing loud, I should! God loves it, and worship is for Him, not the people in the pew in front of me!). It was heavenly. By the 3rd song I was giddy (it’s amazing what a 3 minute uninterrupted corporate worship time can do to a person). I was on such a “super”natural high that I continued worshipping as my 4-year-old applied fake fingernail polish on each of my fingers, blew them dry, then proceeded to put on tons of pretend makeup all over my face (which she also blew dry with her mouth). But oh, how heavenly it was to close my eyes, give God my attention in church. I loved it. My fake makeover and my spiritual one! By song 4, my 2-year-old was screaming because the 4-year-old walked in his row and touched a car. The 4-year-old was upset that she couldn’t play with his cars and my worship experience was over.

Worship evolves. It won’t always be the perfect scene, the number one song, sung in the perfect pitch. But it’s always available. I worship while loading the dishwasher. I worship in my shower, where kids can not come in. I worship in my bed that last 5 minutes before I drag my tired body out of bed. I let the vacuum stand alone for a bit while I step back, raise my hands, and pour out my worship on an almighty God. I worship in my living room with my 4 tiny worshippers. We dance, hold hands and shout the lyrics. We worship.

Don’t let life get in the way. Don’t let circumstances keep you away. Even if you have to worship with one eye open… just worship.
We love that our kids get to be a part of worship. I’m watching my 8-year-old enter in in his own special way. I get to see my daughter when she feels that spirit lead her. They are beginning their worshipping journey. And I pray they will write their own worship story, for worship is a lifeline. So, find some time, a quiet corner, or just set out to worship even through your distractions. Just Worship!


For the purposes of this post, I am using “Worship” with the meaning of the song related part of a church service. Yes, I believe that worship comes in many forms. When we read our Bible, when we pray, when we tithe, when we listen to a sermon we are worshipping, but I am specifically speaking about the song portion of a service.

Believe in the Magic

This is the most wonderful time of the year. I love the decorations, the parties, the full shopping malls (yes, I love a crowd). I love the family time, the excitement that comes with the anticipation and ultimately I love the meaning for this holiday, Christmas. We see in the Bible that Jesus has always been. He wasn’t merely born into existence. He has always been. And the idea that he left his eternal home, heaven, to dwell among us here on earth is such a sign of love to me.

I am so saddened when this sacred holiday is treated with such idolatry. Get ready to be offended… then take a deep breath and hear me out as I promise I speak in love (or type…), But the hype with Santa is, indeed, idolatry. Many people replace the true meaning of Christmas with the idol worship of Santa.


  1. idol worship: the worship of idols or false gods
  2. extreme admiration: excessive admiration or love shown for somebody or something

(according to the Bing Dictionary)

Many people think idolatry is when you bow down to a statue, or rub a fat man’s belly before eating chinese food… but God defines it throughout the Bible.

I liked what this website said about idolatry (

 In the King James Version of the Bible, there are three different words translated as “idolatry.” Each one ( teraphiym ,  kateidolos  and  eidololatria ) has at its core the concept of serving or worshipping something other than the one true God. 

So idolatry is not just venerating a statue, carving or painting. Idolatry occurs when we begin to value anything more than we value God. If we spend more time thinking about our hero than God, that’s idolatry. If our every thought is about the latest gadget or our personal appearance, that’s idolatry. If the first priority in our lives is our family, even that’s idolatry.

When God said, “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3),  He wasn’t just talking about the imaginary deities that seem so ridiculous to us today. He was talking about  anything  that usurps His place as number one in our hearts”

I couldn’t have said it better. I’m not saying that these behaviors aren’t prevalent all year round. But it really roars it’s ugly head around this most wonderful, godly, and pure season.

Jesus came to earth to bring light. To be truth in physical form. He came representing truth, promoting truth, and proclaiming truth.(John 14:6). To celebrate His birth, parents lie to their children and promote Santa. Santa becomes the reason for the season. And without trying to sound like the cliché… this is a lie… Jesus is the reason for the season.

Our emphasis on Santa goes against so many concepts Jesus’ life represented.

  1.  Naughty or Nice… If your nice, you get a nice and wonderful gift from Santa… if you’re naughty, you get coal. Jesus says salvation is a gift and can not be earned. We were all sinners, we all fell short, and yet, we gave the biggest gift of all. His life. (Rom6:23) Santa promotes that we can someway earn gifts… and really, how many parents really withhold gifts when their kids are naughty? That’s just not following through on your threats, and basically that’s poor parenting. :(

**And with this goes the faulty idea that good kids get gifts, bad ones don’t… but what if a family can’t afford gifts, but their kids are very well behaved? How does that play in? Are they being punished for the salary of their parents? Are wealthier families who are able to buy their kids bigger and more gifts families who have “better” kids than the family who can only afford a small toy car?

2.  Being “Nice”… Many have a little elf that reports back to Santa the behavior of the household (lies always breed more lies). We teach our kids to think about everything they do and be sure their actions, thoughts, and emotions are pleasing to God. We emphasize that we do all things for His glory, not to please men… yet Santa promotes (only at THIS time of year) to be good so you can make it to his Nice list. During the celebration of Jesus, and His life, children are asked to behave in a manner to please some lie.

3. anti santa

If this isn’t idolatry, I must know nothing. It seems at this time of year (again, I remind you is supposed to be a time to celebrate Jesus’ birth, His life. ) so many people want to give credit to Santa. Sorry, Charlie Brown, but Santa had nothing to do with your blessings. He did not come to die for your sins, to give you the gift of salvation, and make a way for you to have a home in heaven. Santa broke into your home, ate your cookies, and left material gifts…  James 1:17 reminds us that “Every good and perfect gift is from above”  No one NEEDS Santa. But everyone needs JESUS!
Credit is given where credit is not due. My husband works hard all year round. Mommy cuts coupons, buys second hand, and does without so we can bless our kids at Christmas time with a gift. Santa had nothing to do with it. Jesus blessed us financially to be able to afford to buy a gift for all 4 of our children (and each other most years), and we give HIM glory for that provision. Santa had nothing to do with it. We worship idols when we give Santa credit for what God clearly provides.

4. Lists a mile long. Children are encouraged to make lists of what they want. Commercials are increases so we can add to our never ending lists of what we want. me me me, more more more. Colossians 3:5 lists covetousness and greed as idolatry. I’m not saying it’s wrong to say you want this or that on occasion. What I’m focusing on the emphasis we put on this covetousness this time of year. Christmas has become so much about the gifts, and less and less about WHO THE GIFT IS.

Idolatry is when we put anything above God. When something has taken the place of God, it crosses over into idolatry. When we change the meaning of Christmas to mean something outside of the celebration of Jesus’ birth, we’ve made an idol. I’m aware not everyone is a Jesus lover, and for you, you have a different meaning for “Christmas Magic”. And to you, this entire message was not written. But for those of us who strive to live for Jesus. Let’s be very cautious of not making Santa above Jesus.

I am totally against lying to my children. I remember when I learned the truth about Santa. I sat and brought up all the different lies I was told about him, and I was devastated that so many adults lied to me, and some told some mighty elaborate lies.  Then I questioned what else they had lied about. If I had never seen Santa, but those I trusted told me he was real… how do I know they are telling the truth when they tell me that I need to just “believe” that Jesus is real?

My husband began to ponder the “lies” as acceptable. If adults were allowed to lie, surely he was allowed. If it was okay as long as no one got hurt, then he could begin to tell others lies… as long as no one got hurt. And basically neither of these scenarios  are what we’d choose to teach our children.  But even beyond the lie… Santa has become an idol. Many say it’s a fun game… I say it’s inconsistent to what we choose to teach our kids all year round.

We teach our kids about the Christmas magic.

Magic: the power of apparently influencing the course of events by using mysterious or supernatural forces.

The birth of our Savior;  the one who came to save a flawed people was a supernatural experience. His power changed the course of events. When Mary brought forth life, that life extended into our lives today .He came to proclaim good news to the poor. He was sent to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness  the prisoners. THAT IS MAGIC!

The world’s Christmas slogan is to “Believe”. When we believe in the falsities of Santa, we are worshipping idols. Use this season to teach your kids to believe in the true Magic. The birth and life of a sinless savior who gives what we do not deserve, who is the giver of all good and perfect things, and who gives us all we need, and many things we even want.  Don’t let the season get wrapped up in make believe, but instead be sure the light shines brighter on the Light. (the Way, and the Truth).

And Merry Christmas to you, I pray it’s the most joyous time of year for you all. I pray you all feel His Magic during this sacred season.jesus-the-true-light-of-christmas

 Feel free to leave me a comment, just know I speak in love, and would appreciate you do the same. :)

Just Do IT!

My girls recently asked for “Little House on the Prairie” dresses. We searched and searched for dresses, knowing that I was not a good seamstress. After realizing I could not make the “Laura Ingalls” collars, or the perfect Pinafore (which I looked up the technical term for those, so I wouldn’t call it an apron), I started looking for something simpler. I googled “easy to make girls dresses” and I read read and read some more. I spent a full week in research. I read every blog, pattern, and comments section. Finally, I took the girls to pick out their fabric. I found a pattern in one of the books, however, it was $14!!! So we passed on that and decided to research more.

The fabric was bought, it sat in the Hobby Lobby bag. And it sat. And it sat some more. I stared at it as I read more and more blogs on how to sew. It sat while I watched youtube videos learning how to do a basting stitch. It sat while I googled what pinking sheers were. It sat while I compared what was best, pinking shears, serger, or a zigzag stitch. (I don’t have ANY clue about serging!!!) The bag of beautiful prints and colors just sat while I stared at my sewing machine and contemplated my plan of action. FOR DAYS!

There comes a point in life when we can’t just research, plan, and ponder without DOING IT! We do Bible studies on how to find God’s will for our lives. We ask other’s opinions, we weigh our hopes, dreams, and gifts all while they sit in a bag unused. We have a huge desire. Our heart aches, but yet we hold back because we don’t think we know what we are doing. We don’t feel we have the resources, the history, the know-how to carry out this calling God’s given.

The great thing is… if He calls you, He also equips you! And that is just awesome! If He calls you to be a preacher, he’ll equip you with the sermons to preach. If He calls you to be a teacher, He will give you skills to teach. If He calls you to adopt, He’ll provide the stamina it takes to go through the endeavor. But you have to JUST DO IT! You’re sermons will not come out of your mouth if you do not open it. Your classroom will not appear when you do not do the work to obtain a job with a classroom.  Adoption paper will not be signed if you do not actually sign them! God allows some things to done on our part. He can line things up just right for the path to go smoothly, but if we just sit and stare at the path, we will go no where… We must JUST DO IT! Then watch how God uses us! Watch and see the wonderful benefits from taking that leap of faith. Move as He leads and dwell in the fact that you are taking every step toward a beautiful masterpiece.

James 1:22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. (emphasis mine).

So, I sewed. I followed this bloggers instructions to a tee.  I dove right in. I took my time. I read and reread my instructions, and I trusted even when I didn’t understand what it said.  (read into that… The Bible is our instruction manual. Dive right in. Take your time. Read, reread and trust when you don’t understand.)

I made mistakes. But the fabric (and design) was forgiving. (read as, we all make mistakes, but God is gracious and forgives. His love covers over a magnitude of sin)

And at the end the mistakes were only evident to the creator, the dress blessed my daughter. Her ooohs and ahhhs were beautiful. There are times we make mistakes. God works on us all individually. But when we set out to serve, to do God’s will, we can bless others beautifully. As we learn and grow our mistakes become less and less. But the blessings grow in their beauty.

Just as I should, I needed to learn to do this project. I needed that research. I needed to define terms I didn’t know. I needed to know how to use what I learned… that is a given. But there comes a point where we need to start doing what we’ve learned. Listen carefully for the green light!

So… It’s time to DO. What’s in your heart? What has God been nudging you to try? Is now the time to dive in? JUST DO IT!!

There is a long list of things I did wrong... but I did just enough right to create the awesome dress for my awesome 3 year old!
There is a long list of things I did wrong… but I did just enough right to create the awesome dress for my awesome 3 year old!
  • I didn’t plan for it to be a halter dress. It was supposed to have cute little buttons on the front, but I sewed the straps right in forgetting my original plan. It is super cute without the white shirt under… but well, it’s winter already here! So long sleeves and leggings for now!
  • I also measured for the bodice, not remembering that my cutie patutie has a much curvier bum than I think the original model had. So we had to tear some stitching and redo to get it on her… once over that curvy bum, it was adorable.
  • I also did not buy quite enough fabric, so it’s a tad smaller around than the original plan. However, I am not sure I would really notice a few inches.
  • Once it was on her, we noticed that there were two straight pins in the bodice that were sewn in. I had to cut tiny holes to free them. Silly me.. just proves how much more I need to learn!
  • I already had the thread, and the ribbon. So my total for this dress came to $8.09 (look for Hobby Lobby sales, and use your coupons!)
  • Thank you to Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom for a set of instructions and pictures I felt I could really follow. I learned so much doing this project and I couldn’t be happier! Please visit her awesome blog and try a few crafts of your own.

I have one more to make for Lil. I’m hoping it will be easier and with even fewer mistakes. I can’t wait… neither can she!

new button 150x127

Think about such things

The world tells us to think positive. It tells us to keep our heads held high; to dwell on the good things. And on this, I’d like to agree.

Not always do we wake up with perfect hair, blemish free, and fresh roses to smell. We often times wake before our bodies want, to a mess we didn’t have time to clean up, and sometimes to kids who didn’t want to get up either. Our days don’t go as we planned, and the further we head into the day, the worse it seems to get. But think positive, right? Why is that so hard to do?

I recently listened to a great author speak about comparisons and how as women and as mothers we tend to compare ourselves to others to the point that we feel insecure and down about our actual lives. It’s true. We base our happiness on whether we measure up to others. We stay up late, get up early, set ourselves up for a tired sleepy day because we have to be busy like all the other moms in our circle.

if Sally says she crossed off twelve items on her to-do list when we only crossed off 3, we go to bed thinking of the complete loser we must be.

When we visit Nancy’s for a playdate and notice how clean and orderly her house is, we wake up the next morning thinking about the huge slacker we are for not getting to our messes the night before.

When June serves her kids a perfectly balanced meal, we cringe at the non-organic chicken noodle soup we are slopping up for our brood.

Instead of focusing on the fact that we crossed 3 major tasks off our to-do list while potty training, dealing with night terrors, and a sick husband, we dwell on the effects of the comparison on our lives. Instead of realizing that a clean home ready for company is not the same as a home a family lives in, we park our focus on the pile of laundry we have verses the hidden one they had. Instead of praising our children for behaving at a delicious dinner, we harp on the meal we could have made had we read more recipes.

However, the Bible tells us in Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right,
 whatever is pure, whatever is  lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Think about what is true. Are your circumstances different? Probably!  Think about what is noble. Are you doing righteous things? Being virtuous? Are you a good person? Honorable? Upright? Are you a decent person? Focus on making yourself who God wants you to be. Not who God wants Sally, Nancy, or June to be. Think about what changes you may need to make in order to be the best YOU.

Think about what is right. Are you doing what is right FOR YOUR FAMILY? Then who cares what that family does? Think about what is pure and lovely. Ask God to make your heart pure, to seek Him with the heart He has given you. Make your own home lovely… to you. Are you comfortable? Then you have something to be happy about. If there is anything excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.

You can praise God that Sally was able to accomplish so much, and that Nancy was able to have you to her wonderful home. Praise God that June’s family was blessed with a wonderful meal. But don’t take that to mean that you are unable to praise God for the things you were able to do as well.

It is said that social media is the  number one problem in this area. But it doesn’t have to be. It is OKAY to find the positives in your day (the true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy things) and to focus on that. You don’t have to snap a picture of your messy living room and post it for all to see… but you can snap a shot of that awesome marked up to do list to remember the day THREE THINGS WERE MARKED OFF! Thinking of the positive things in your life is not “being fake”. I never look at a cute kid in a minion costume and think, “That mom is SO fake! As if her kid is ALWAYS this cute!” No, I smile, maybe I hit “like”, and I move on.

If you’re mantle looks awesome for fall, take a pic… who cares if your floor under the mantle is covered in Legos. Focus on the positives. Look for the good. If you need to write “Wake up, Shower, eat breakfast” on your to do list just to see them crossed off, DO IT! Train your mind to focus on the bests of the day.  (2 Cor 10:5). God gives you joy. Don’t let comparisons take that away. Focus on who you are in Christ… even if that means you aren’t the best housekeeper.

Stay off Facebook if it is tempting you to be downcast because you compare yourself to everyone else. Stop cruising pintrest if you feel “less than” because you don’t feel you measure up to the Pintrest Goddesses. Or choose to find your inner genius in what you ARE good at, and praise God for blessing you with that talent. And if you must… snap away, share, and smile at your accomplishments.
God made you YOU. Not me, or her, or her over there! YOU. And he loves you. That is something that has no comparison!

With that, I share my fall decor. It may not be YOUR style… but it’s mine. And I love looking at it. I love how it makes my home feel, and how it sets a warm tone for my day. And THIS particular time, there is no littlest pet shop animals littering the floor below… THIS time! But even if there were, I’m happy about THIS part of that room! What are you loving about your home? Your life? Your blessings? Think about such things!


A Visitor in the Classroom

I do not come from a homeschooling family. In fact when I decided to do it I got a few “Are you really going to do that?” and “Well, you won’t do it forever will you?” I believe the more family know, the more they see that it is a reasonable decision. (well, at least that’s what I tell myself). So I know that the unknown was uneasy to some. And the idea seemed ludicrous at times. But I stood confident in knowing that these were MY kids and ultimately OUR decision. And each day I see them achieve, learn, and rise above I am confirmed in that decision. As each year passes I learn to dismiss those comments that disagree based on their lack of knowledge, and continue to press on.

However, there are days when my mother comes to visit and she is sitting in my living room the entire time my kids act up, run around crazy, refuse to listen, and I begin pulling my hair out in the middle of a math lesson. I try with all my might to teach simple predicates (on no sleep, mind you) while trying to calm a screaming toddler, while jostling a sleepy baby, all while being very self conscious about my mother watching it all. What is she thinking? Is she questioning my decision? Is she wondering if my kids ever learn anything? Is she concerned for my health? Does she sit wondering if this is how every day goes (which it doesn’t… but so far this year, every Friday is the same scenario). These days are the days where I stress myself out with the worry of what THEY think.

My mother does not judge my parenting. She sees my kids as they are… kids. She knows they are smart. She knows how it is to parent 4 children. My stress and self-conscious behavior is not HER fault. She has never accused me of being a poor parent, A lousy teacher, or a horrible disciplinarian. She may wonder how any work gets done in a home full of such chaos, but she’s not judging my methods. (at least I am almost 100% sure she’s not!) But still I sit there and pray that the kids would be perfect, that they will have all the right answers. That the younger babies will behave so I can show off my master teaching skills. I secretly want my mother to sit back and think, “WOW! She is the BEST mother EVER! She is so patient, and creative, and her kids are the best students I’ve ever seen!” But instead she sees me throw a stuffed dog across the room in frustration. She sees my kids goof off, scream, and misunderstand every word I say. She sees us skip art and social studies because well, I was just too tired to do it. And I finish thinking, “I’m pretty sure if my mother did not approve of homeschooling before now… ”

So, today as I finish up my weekly progress reports, I see that my kids are right on track. They are learning all that we have covered. They play catch up better than anyone I know! I make notes on the previous week, what works and doesn’t work. How we may need to tweak the schedule, and how I feel I did as a teacher. And as I finish up, I pray over my newly set goals and I realize that those goals are not to please my family. They do not need to be set to please my husband, sisters, or mother. My goals are to follow a calling God has called me to.

Just as I sat and stressed over a visitor seeing the realities of homeschooling, I need to sit and focus on the one we invite in each morning. “Jesus, please be present in all we do. Teach us what we need to learn today, guide us to make right choices, lead me as I teach, comfort us when we make mistakes.” 

Seeing my mom in the room helped me to not scream and give up. Fridays are our hardest days. And they have been my worst day as mother and teacher. Yet having someone in my room observing, keeps me on track. But isn’t Jesus present at all times? Shouldn’t my behavior, motives, and mind be set on pleasing HIM. To run my day in such a way that if I saw it through HIS eyes, I’d feel I did well? So easy to forget, but we have a permanent resident in our hearts that guides us. He is watching. Are we who we want HIM to see? And when we don’t know the answer… just as my mom looked up “compound subject” for us when we drew a blank (talk about EMBARRASSING!) We can always stop, drop to our knees, and ask.  Is there really any other way to parent?

Thank you, Mom for not judging us. Thank you for not reprimanding me when I lost my patience. Thank you for being gracious with my unruly children. For loving us no matter how big of a headache we must have given. I appreciate your love despite my downfalls as a parent. And Jesus… DITTO!!! You judge our hearts, but guide us when we make mistakes. Thank you for the little patience I did have, and for your grace when I lacked. Thank you for loving my unruly children, and leading them even when they give ME a headache!

You’re presence is highly desired in all we do! You are ALWAYS invited! (Mom, you, too!)