A Full Length Mirror

I recently stayed in a hotel room (to ride out an April Blizzard, if you can believe that!) and within the room was not only a full length mirror right where you’d normally get dressed, but also a very BRIGHT mirror. There’s nothing worse than being confronted with a very bright full length mirror…. while getting dressed. Talk about emphasizing every small (and not so small) part of your body! Putting makeup on was puzzling. Do I need more, or is this lighting deceiving and I’ll really leave the room with so much makeup caked on that I’ll look like a clown? Did I really think I looked good in this outfit? OY VEY!

I know my body isn’t perfect, I’m actually quite sure it’s far from it. I know that my face has some flaws and could benefit from some light makeup… but nothing prepares me for that up-close spotlight on all my flaws. I found myself dressing in the far corner of the room, and standing several feet away as I applied my makeup for the day. And I wouldn’t say I have a crippling self-esteem… it’s just a bit too much reflection for my taste!

Have you ever said those things while reading the Word? Have you ever felt a tad too revealed after listening to a convicting sermon? Have you ever felt completely exposed when confronted with your sin? If so, GOOD!!! That’s GREAT! It’s exactly what’s needed! If not, it’s time!

You see, I know I have some a lot of weight to lose. But if I don’t look, I can just put on my big clothes, sit around and not really have to face the fact that I’m overweight and need to change. But, MAN ALIVE when confronted with that full length mirror, I’m back on the healthier lifestyle bandwagon! If we don’t look at our spiritual life, we can just keep on going to church, reading our Bible reading plans and checking off the boxes, and yet we never truly grow much closer to Jesus in the process.

It’s important for our physical walk through losing weight if we weigh ourselves, look at our transformations, and SEE the change. The first few pounds are the hardest. But when we start to see our jeans a tad more loose, and our faces thin out, we’re more motivated. But how do we measure spiritual maturity? We look into that full length mirror that’s lit up on all sides! We pay attention to where God is shining the light and start to fine tune them.

Nancy Demoss Walgemuth says God creates circumstances in order to show us our great need for Him, and His work in us. She preached at a conference in 2016, and gave the example of a mother who never knew she was an angry person until her 2-year-old painted the living room furniture with butter. At that moment God gave that mother a circumstance to show her what was truly inside her… A full length mirror!

My kids can walk around all afternoon with jelly from their PB&J at lunch all over their face. They don’t care because they don’t know. I mean, they know they didn’t wipe their face with each bite, and that at some point they did feel the wet goop touch their face. But their focus was on other things and so they got used to it. It isn’t until I tell them to go look in the mirror do they fully grasp how crazy they look with a Joker-like grin of Jelly plastered across their face.
Unfortunately sin isn’t as cute. We know the issues has crept in, but we get side tracked and we don’t confront it any longer. It finds its way into our lives and makes itself comfortable. And before long we’re not just angry at our kids, we’re snapping at our spouse, our neighbor, our co-worker… our God. And we know it’s there, but as long as we stay in the dark corner, we won’t have to face the full length mirror, and we can skip having the light shone on what we’ve worked so hard to hide in the dark.

Maybe its not anger. Maybe it’s pride, or a critical spirit. Maybe it’s complacency, or a life of a busybody. It doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s not pleasing to God, it needs to go. And God wants it gone. But we have to be willing to let Him shine the light on us to expose those deep places. We can not hold back.

I’m not an expert in the field by any means, but I’m walking through it. I’m daily asking God to create in me a clean heart and to make my spirit right with Him. And in order to do that, I have to be willing to give up any and all things that hinder that clean heart and right spirit. I have to pray these scriptures…

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. ” Psalm 139:23,24

“Put me on trial, LORD, and cross-examine me. Test my motives and my heart.” Psalm 26:2 (NLT)

But, beware… When you pray them, if you’re honest and truly are inviting God to turn on the bright lights, you need to be prepared to deal with what He shows you. Pushing it away will not get rid of it. Working through it will.

  1. Listen to sermons that won’t just tickle your ear. Find ones that will point-blank heap on conviction. I’m not talking about preacher who preach fire and brimstone… I’m talking about sermons that cut straight to the point and confront the tough issues. Ones that you hear and audibly say, “OUCH!”. Then begin praying through what hit the nerve.
  2. Tell a close friend so they can hold you accountable. Don’t pick your critical friend. You don’t need criticism. You need accountability. Tell your friend, “Please stop me if I begin to gossip to you.” or “I’m dealing with some pride in my life, if I start putting others down so I can puff myself up, will you please remind me of my goal to stay humble.” **If you’re the friend who has been asked, be loving, pray for the proper time to speak up, and don’t hesitate to call them out, they need it.
  3. Search God’s Word. Look for scriptures that speak to the sin you’re trying to conquer. Put those scriptures on notecards and put the notecards around your house. Put them inside cabinets you open frequently. Put them in your purse. Make a screen saver that will pop up every time you open your phone. Here’s mine…30874629_10156426241409430_1675829259_n
  4. PRAY! Nothing will get you through this gut wrenching fully lit, full length mirror like prayer will. Pray daily that God will point out every bit of what He wants removed. Pray that your eyes will be open to seeing it in yourself. Pray that you’ll be swift in dealing with it. Pray that sermons will penetrate your heart, that your heart will be open to a friend holding you accountable, and that scriptures would be so real to you that you begin to actually live them.

Please do not hear me saying that you should be down on yourself, that you should heap condemnation on yourself, or that you should feel you are anything less than the amazing person Christ died for. No, instead I’m telling you that there’s amazing freedom in knowing that God is fine tuning you, shining a light on all the parts that do not come into obedience to Him. When God does this it is so that He can USE you. He wants you to be a vessel He can work through. And what an honor and a blessing to draw close to Him and experience the power He has as he speaks to others through you, helps others through you, and changes lives through you. The greatest thing is that he doesn’t NEED us. But he uses us anyway. So, it must be for OUR benefit. And as I stand daily in front of that mirror, I’m noticing more and more the joy I have. I know I haven’t conquered it all, I probably never will. I’m flawed, and beautifully imperfect… but I strive not to stay there.

So, take a deep breath, and step in front of this full length mirror with me! It may not be beautiful at first glance… but believe me God sees something amazing…

Let’s turn the lights up!

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Psalm 51: 10-12

 

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Crossroads Church in St. James, Minnesota has the desire to make it easy for every person to Discover God, Grow in Him, and Reach out to Others. If you’d like to visit a service, please join us each Sunday at 10am at 721 Weston Ave in St. James. Our services start at 10am and there is something for the entire family. Like us on Facebook.

You can contact the Pastor’s Wife via email at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com

 

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Why Church this Easter?

There used to be a tradition that people attended Church on Easter and Christmas. Even if they never attended any other time of the year. It used to be that weeks before Easter mothers everywhere searched for the perfect color coordinating outfits in the perfect pastels for their family so that Easter was the perfect photo opportunity. Pink plaids, eyelet lace, Easter bonnets, and collared shirts… AND CHURCH, that was the tradition. Then our society started to buck the traditional ways and people who attended church only on Christmas and Easter were given names like “Chreaster”, so even those 2 days got missed.

More and more churches are reaching out and people are politely declining the invitation to attend church. The tradition of going no longer holds any appeal, and the commitment of going is no longer a priority. As a regular church attendee, I haven’t missed an Easter Sunday service in 25 years. So if anyone has some experience in this, I’d be one of them… So would you take a moment and examine my answer to Why Church this Easter?

For a Christian, Easter is the foundation of our faith. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, our faith would not exist. We believe that Jesus is the Messiah. He conquered death by defying its parameters. It’s what gives Christians life! So it seems fitting that anyone who calls themselves a Christian should set aside an hour each year to celebrate that. For me, I can hardly contain my delight. I’ve lived a blessed life following Jesus and trying my best to live close to His teachings. So when given the opportunity to gather with like-minded believers and specifically celebrate all that Jesus did, I’m ecstatic. Easter is my favorite time! But for those who are trying to live this life without a weekly boost of church, I can see how much harder the journey can become. So it’s all the more important to join a church Easter Sunday to reconnect, celebrate, and refuel.

For Christians who used to go to church, and have walked away from it for a time, this is a great time to try again. I’m all for coming to church every Sunday. I belong to a church that is just as excited to see someone walk in in October as they are to see someone come on Easter. However, sometimes it’s hard to make that decision to come back to church on a random October day (or any day)… but not on Easter. It’s almost expected. So it takes a pressure off.

For someone who is seeking, who is unsure where they fit in, Easter is a great time to visit and get a feel of the church. The attendance may be up for church that day, so it’s less intimidating for you to walk in as a new-comer. You’ll learn a lot about the Christian faith by coming on a day where the foundation of that faith is going to be celebrated. This is a great day to venture out and attend the church you’ve been thinking about attending for while.

For the regular attendee who has never missed a Sunday, don’t let this be the Sunday you miss! Of all the services I’ve ever attended at the various churches I’ve been to over the last couple of decades, Easter service is so heartwarming. The energy is high, the joy is evident, and the celebration is heavenly!

Now, here’s the thing. You may be thinking I’m giving a free pass to ONLY coming to church on Easter. You may be wondering why a church lover is promoting this “Chreaster” mentality.  And here is why… TODAY is the day of salvation. Today is the day of God’s favor. God set in motion thousands of years ago this EASTER celebration by giving us His son as a way for us. Jesus was the sacrifice that we could not give. He died in our place so we could have a relationship with God for all of eternity. The world thought they could kill Him. But, He could not be contained by their ideals and ways. He conquered death and rose from the dead. Christ raised Himself to show Himself powerful over death and sin. So, if Easter is the only time you plan on going to church this year… THEN GO! Go and see for yourself all that Christ as done. Go and fellowship with other believers and see how much that can benefit your life.

Sin and darkness creep at every corner. A day can’t go by that we aren’t affected by evil everywhere. We see it on the news, in the schools, at our jobs, and it’s increasing. The world won’t be won by marches, facebook rants, and divisions among political lines. But for that one special Easter Sunday you’ll get a glimpse of the Man who can change this world. With Christ in our hearts, and the encouragement we get from attending a church that helps us grow WE will be the change. And we’ll eventually overflow onto our neighbors so they THEY can be the change… and why wait any other Sunday but THIS EASTER!

Of course it’s the goal of every church that you’d return week after week… but you’ll have to make the decision to come the first time. So, Why Church this Easter? Why not? This just may be the day that changes your life!

Quick disclosure…

  • Please don’t let the pressure of color coordinated, perfect Easter outfits hinder you. Come!
  • Please don’t let your hate for tradition keep you from joining in the tradition of Church on Easter. Come!
  • Please don’t worry about the many years you haven’t made it to church, this is a new day, a new choice, and a new adventure. COME!
  • Please don’t be intimidated. We’ve been praying for you, we’re expecting you, and we are SO excited about you! YOU are welcome! COME!

If you are in the St. James, MN area, Crossroads Church will be meeting Easter Sunday at 9am for breakfast and our service will follow at 10:15am. YOU ARE INVITED!Copy of Church FlyersInvitation

Crossroads Church 721 Weston Ave in St. James, MN 507-375-5920 Follow us on Facebook

If you are too far for our services, and need a church recommendation, feel free to email the pastor’s wife at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com. I can find you a GREAT church in your area!

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Camp Crossroads VBS (FREE DOWNLOAD)

Churches are as unique as people. I’d bet it safe to say that no two churches are alike. And because of that, what works for one church (or even MOST churches) may not work for YOUR Church. I’m talking to pastors and pastors’ wives here.

We pastor (He has the degree and title, I’m just along for the fun!) a small rural church. The type of church that often goes unnoticed. However, if we were to overlook this small rural church, and so did everyone else… our small rural town would go unreached. So we count ourselves blessed and privileged to be called here for this time.

That said, it’s HARD! There are very few resources for the small rural church. (or the small church in any setting). Our funds are not large, our volunteers are not as abundant, our towns are not that easy to reach, either. And to top it off, our time is often spent between two jobs. Many small church pastors are bi vocational, leaving limited time to be accessible.  

I am blessed that I get to stay home with the kids and try to carry some of the weight for the church. I am also blessed that between the two of us, we found a part-time job, so neither one of us is away for many hours a day or week. (He works 8-11 hrs a week, I work 8 hours a week). This makes it easier for us to do some of these bigger projects.

So this past summer I was tired of spending money on a VBS (Vacation Bible School) curriculum, or even borrowing from a bigger church only to find it was written for a church with much bigger resources than we had (mainly volunteers!). So early in the spring I set out to just write my own. We had done many VBSes in the past and knew the basic skeleton of how to run one smoothly, so all we had to do was fill in the time slots. I’m very fluent in pintrest, google, and youtube… so I figured if I just took the time, I could come up with something that would entertain the kids for a couple of hours each night. Plus, I have 4 children, one in just about every age category, so I used their insights as well. And when all was said and done my kids, and the community kids exclaimed that this was the best year yet! I don’t take the credit, half of the things were written out of desperation and a prayer, “Oh, Jesus, PLEASE help me! I’ve scoured the internet for a VBS that will work for us… and have come up dry! When I place this pencil to this paper, will you please write for me?” And what came out was exactly what we went with, no 2nd draft… now THAT is God!

So, I fine tuned it over the next 6 months and came up with a 65 page VBS guide for the small church leader. I had no clue if there was a need for it until I posted it in a few small church forums. The response was eye-opening! There is a great need for good small church VBS curriculum! Some wanted to see it in a more visual sense, So, below you can download our VBS FOR FREE and tweak it to fit your needs. I also will post some pictures to give a clearer view of how much fun we had with this.
If you have any questions at all, please email me, I’ve never written anything like this before, so I may have left out some really important information without realizing it. thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com

Camp VBS is a 4 night VBS focusing on being brave. Each night is 2 hours. There is an opening rally with songs, a game, and a skit. Then 3- 20minute classes (Story time, snack, and games) and then a closing rally where we did 1 song and a “Game show” called BRAVE FACTOR. Brave Factor had 4 parts to it. An Educational Fact that dispels myths about scary things (bats, spiders, snakes… and Back to School). Egg Breaker, where kids compete against the game host (Billy Bob) in a game with 12 eggs. 11 hard-boiled, 1 raw. They take turns randomly selecting eggs until the raw egg is picked. Whats in the Box is a game where kids feel something (usually slimy and gross) and try to guess what they are feeling. And lastly they did Gummy Vs. Real. One volunteer vs Billy Bob. One gets a gummy and the other gets the real version. In the middle of it all, when the buzzer buzzed, 2 volunteers would engage in a beanboozle challenge. Jelly Belly makes these. One gets something tasty, one gets something gross… but the jelly beans look the same.
For more details, see the pictures below, otherwise, download the guide, and enjoy!

(Click the link below the image to download)

Copy of Summer Camp
Camp-Crossroads

Our sport was done around the newly added Gaga Ball pit that we added to our property. You can google “How to build a Gaga Ball Pit” and find all kinds of ways. This cost us less than $200. And we put it together just the two of us and a friend who could cut the board… and really he did a LOT more, but less than 4 eager workers!)18402725_10155399312564430_6250545921076087951_n

Here was our stage. We did our story time in this room for 2 reasons. 1, we gathered around the campfire for the Bible stories. It was already decorated, and kept kids out of the way of other activities. And 2. We did not have an extra helper for Story time, so we wanted the leader and kids to be in a wide open area. A full sanctuary where some adults sat and watched, or if they weren’t there, anyone could walk in at anytime. It is not wise for one adult to be alone with children, always have 2 adults when you can. But if you can’t, be sure your adult is out in the open.
The sky and clouds are $1 table cloths from Walmart or Dollar Tree. Buy some spray adhesive to attach your clouds, super easy!
Borrow trees from people at church, and if you have a piano, hide it behind a “waterfall” haha.
We gave the tent away, the orange chair, fishing poles, and a walkie-talkie. We got the logs from a church attendee who then donated them to anyone who would come pick them up (THAT was a huge hit in the community!)

The banner was purchased with Hobby Lobby’s 40% off coupon… be sure to take a friend so each of you can buy separately and get them cheaper (this is two tied together!)

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For Team points, the kids could dress in their team colors. Each teammate who sported their color got 10 points for their team… POINTS are the key to engaging kids! They’ll do ANYTHING for points.
The girls are wearing their worship team shirts. I printed the word Brave, cut it, laid it on the shirt then sprayed it with fabric spray paint and then picked up the word and got these SUPER CUTE shirts for our worship team!
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Our Worship team was just 3 girls. 2 belong to me, and one is a family friend. I had them watch you tube videos (the links are in the pdf download) and put together moves for the songs. Then they practiced, practiced, practiced. They started about 3 weeks before VBS started. This leaves more adults to crowd control.

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Now for our Characters… This is Daisy Diva… she loves pink, and anything that sparkles.. she hates dirt, and anything outdoors.20904420_10155736114839430_2145245714_o

But she did get “Most Improved Camper”. This can be printed off of any website or publisher. It’s silly, but a good prop.

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This is Billy Bob! Our Character of Billy Bob has made an appearance every year. Pastor, is also a main character of the skits, so all the kids know him. He changes his shirt, takes off his glasses, and adds a big yellow clown wig. He speaks with a hillbilly accent and acts super silly. When asked if Pastor is Billy Bob, Pastor always replies, “Well, we’re never in the same room at the same time… so…” The kids KNOW it’s Pastor, but play along and even shout “Billy Bob” to him when they see him around town. This is a GREAT way to connect with kids in your community.  This year, since he was the host of BRAVE FACTOR, he wore a suit coat and tie with his tee shirt! (I sure do love this man!)

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Our “What’s in the box” box. Just cut some arches half way up on the side of a box, be sure they are flexible, and their hands can fit inside and reach the item that is hiding inside.

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The game Egg Breaker. To save on cleaning up egg off the carpet, play this game (take turns picking an egg to break on your head… there are 11 hard boiled eggs to 1 raw egg, the one who gets the raw egg loses). We placed a big black trashbag with a head hole cut in it over the student volunteer to protect their clothing.

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At random times, we had a sound buzz, it was “BEAN BOOZLE” time. And Billy Bob called one volunteer up. The volunteer chose a friend and each kid got a jelly belly. One got a favorable flavor, the other got a nasty flavor… but they look identical. So did they get chocolate pudding… or dog food!!! *Have a trashcan handy!*

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This is the game “Gummy versus Real”. We used regular church platters, and big mixing bowls on top. One of them got a gummy, and the other got real. To keep kids from eating nasty things (and to prevent puking), the kids ALWAYS got the gummy version. We’d ask them “A or B” without telling them which was A and which was B… it just “so happened” they always picked the gummy version.

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Our Gummy vs Real items were: Sardines vs swedish fish; Gummy squid vs Calamari; A long gummy snake vs dried snake… and once they knew the routine, and figured how the kid always got the gummy the last night we did small gummy bears vs LARGE Gummy Bear. The kids opened theirs first every time but this time Billy Bob opened his, and when they saw that he had the gummy bears, they panicked a bit… but then they got the large Gummy bear, it was great!

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The winning team for the week got to put pies in Pastor’s face. We normally do this outside, but it was pouring rain this particular night… so he was sitting in the baby pool, with sheets all around for flying whip cream. But remember, stains on the carpet just prove that your church is doing WORK!

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Snacks… Like I said before, Pintrest is your friend. And gave me all my ideas for snacks! Here are a few!

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I made these the last day… they are “flames”. I laugh because I can so much better than this, and was super disappointed in myself. BUT… the kids LOVED them. Just reminds me that kids are great! Kids will love it so don’t hold back!

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For our BRAVE FACTOR Educational facts, we googled some images… These look pretty scary!

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So although it looks overwhelming, it’s not! Be BRAVE and VBS on! If you end up using this guide for your church, I’d be ever so blessed to know! Please either leave me a comment, or email me thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com 

God bless, you and remember it’s not about numbers, it’s about passion and doing God’s will!

 

Marriage Success

This January marks 17 years of marriage for The Pastor and me. We started dating a year before that, so 18 years together. We are just years away from spending more years together than years apart. On our anniversary I looked across the table, past the 4 very boisterous children, at my man and thought, “THIS is success.” Life has its ups and downs. But when I look across the table, holding our family, I am so blessed by knowing that life can go any way it wants and I will still have this man of mine and our marriage.

So I thought I’d ask this man of mine, “Hey, what are we doing right?” That’s not always a question people ask, but in reality, marriage is hard. Marriage takes a lot of work. Not every marriage survives. And yet, here we were. And without sounding braggadocious, it has been pretty easy for us. Don’t stop reading!!! I’m fully aware that those who are entirely committed and completely love their spouses sometimes have to work hard at keeping a good marriage. And I’m so happy that people are willing to do the work to keep it good.

So, I want to share the things we are doing right in hopes to inspire those just starting out… or those who are trying to keep on going. And please… 17 years is just a drop in the bucket, so if you have your own “right”, please share in the comments section. I’d love to hear what you and your spouse are doing right!

Our wedding vows are taken from Romans 12:9-18. When we decided to write our own vows we wanted something Biblical. We figured the best way to truly keep a vow that important was to take it straight from the eternal Word of God. The caption to that passage says, “Love in Action” and that was our intention. To keep love an action.

Love must be sincere: When praying for my spouse, I pray that God will show me how to love him. I ask God to keep passion in my marriage. Without a sincere love, marriages won’t work. So pray for a genuine sincere love for your spouse, it’s never too late for this step!

Hate what is evil; cling to what is good: There are many things that are a huge threat to your marriage, stay away from those things. HATE THEM! If it threatens your closeness, your communication, your sincere love, stay away and cling to what is good. Leave no room for those threats to creep in. Keep your relationship pure. Keep your eyes on your spouse, your heart on your spouse, and your passion for your spouse. Hate all evil that tries to creep in. (With technology in our pockets, the temptation can be there at any moment. Take the steps required to keep your marriage good).

Be devoted to one another in love: This goes along with the previous one. Devotion is loyalty. So staying true to your spouse in all aspects (emotionally and physically) is very VERY important. It seems obvious, but loyalty isn’t just staying affair-free. It also involves not speaking bad about the other. It’s very common for friends to get together and bash their spouses. “He never_______!” “She always _______!” It breeds quickly and goes south just as quick. Be devoted in love! Don’t put your spouse down EVER… not even to your mother!

Honor one another above yourself: My husband rubs my back almost every night. I can almost guarantee he doesn’t really WANT to rub my back every night, but he knows I have a hard time falling asleep and so he does this for me. I could keep listing examples of how this man of mine honors me above himself… and to be honest, I’m having a hard time coming up with ways I demonstrate this for him (let me take a moment to let that conviction set into my heart…) but, when we honor the other above ourselves, we learn to hold our tongue, give things up, add things that aren’t our first choice, and strive to please the one we love. When BOTH spouses do this, no one feels belittled, overworked, or stretched beyond what is God-glorifying.

Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord: This is the most important thing to a successful marriage. I cannot emphasize enough how important your relationship with God is to your relationship with your spouse. As each spouse draws close to Christ, seeking His will above all else, they will draw closer to each other. Think of it as a triangle…                   Screenshot 2018-01-21 at 4.50.53 AM
So keeping your spiritual zeal and fervor is of utmost importance.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer: When our hope in placed in Jesus then being joyful is easy. Nothing makes a better marriage more than a happy spouse. When we can be joyful, it can spread through the household. That doesn’t mean trials won’t arise, but that’s where the 2nd part comes in. We need to be patient in affliction. Of course this verse is speaking about trials in our personal walk, but when trials come into our marriage, we need to be patient with our spouses. Because we love them sincerely, and because we are devoted them, and because  we honor our spouse above ourselves we can be patient when trials come up. This is why we must do the 3rd part… we MUST be faithful in our prayer time. Continually pray for your spouse, and your marriage. Nothing aids in the love towards a person like praying for them does.

Practice hospitality: I’ve often wondered why it’s so easy to hold our tongue and our temper with our college roommate (who can be a tad unruly at times) but when we meet the love of our lives, get married, and move into a house together (as it should be done in that order), we seem to throw consideration out the window. We stop holding our tongues and reigning in our temper. When my college roommate let the trash pile up in our apartment (it was her job to take it out), I didn’t nag her and scream about all of her inadequacies as a person simply because the trash was overflowing. And so I should not do that to the love of my life! Consideration goes a long way. Practice hospitality even with your spouse. They may not be a guest in your home, but you can definitely greet your spouse with a daily dose of warmness and courtesy.

Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse: Let me be honest, there are times when a tiny little frustration can blow up to a full-out catastrophe in my mind. In my mind I can say, “These dishes can pile up all week long! Maybe when he has to eat off dirty dishes I’ll get some help around here!” (this is usually on a bad day, and then I remember how often he does the dishes and I snap out of it!). I never follow through with my antics in my head (mainly because they are totally irrational!), but I’ve talked to women who have shut their husband’s out by refusing to make him dinner. She’ll cook just enough for her and the kids and leave him plateless at the table. I’m not saying he didn’t do something to hurt her, he probably did, but we should set out to bless and not curse. Do what is right even when the other person does not. And continue to be faithful in prayer, praying for a change in your spouse. Maybe even go above and beyond when you feel hurt. You can always discuss the hurt, but always always always bless and do not curse.

Rejoice with those who rejoice, mourn with those who mourn: Empathy in a marriage goes a long way. When one spouse is dealing with frustration in the workplace, be that listening ear. How many times have wives said, “I’m not looking for a solution, I just want him to listen!” We, wives, want our husbands to be happy when we’re happy and sad when we are sad… well, at least, understand our feelings. I’m assuming it goes the same way from husbands to wives. Be a good listener, empathize with your spouse.

Do not be proud… Do not be conceited: Most arguments between spouses are simply a matter of who is right and who is wrong. And too often who ever is right wants to be sure the other one knows just how right they are. But this goes along with honoring your spouse above yourself. You can be right and still honor your spouse. You can empathize and still be right. You can agree to disagree and maintain your friendship with your spouse. Is being right more important than valuing your spouse? Is being right more important than validating your spouses feelings? Is being right worth the divide it can cause? Do not be conceited or too proud to bow out of a discussion that is heading towards argument. A silent night is better than an explosive one. (That is of course assuming you’re communicating in a loving way in other aspects.)

Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone: When Paul wrote this passage, this segment, this command he understood that it was impossible to always be right in everyone’s eyes. And although this particular wording can seem weird. What Paul was trying to convey was that we need to be upright Christians in our everyday walk. Let people see the good marriage you have. There are friends of mine (I use the term loosely) that are offended by my happiness over my good marriage. I’d bet it’s safe to say some have even stopped reading, not because this blog is SO LONG, but because they don’t want to hear about my successful marriage. They scoff and get upset, but in reality God set marriage up to show us a type of Christ and His Church. Christians are the bride of Christ. He loves us unconditionally and cares for us and He set up marriage to give us a tangible view of that relationship. Our sinful nature and actions have messed that up. But look at a good marriage, and you’ll see that loving relationship Christ wants to have with us. Of course, even the best marriage is an imperfect reflection of a very perfect Christ, but it’s a glimpse. The fact that my husband knows me better than my own mother, and loves me anyway… by CHOICE reminds me of just how much more Jesus does. So let your marriage be a testimony to those around you. Let it be a  witness of Christ’s love for His church. I mean, for real, if my husband can endure my many imperfections and still love and adore me, how much more can Jesus?

And lastly As far as it depends on you, live at peace with your spouse (scripture says everyone). Choose to live at peace. Learn to overlook. And decide on a respectful conversation over a hateful nagging.  If you know your husband likes the seat moved back in the vehicle so he doesn’t hit his knees on the steering wheel, take the extra effort to push the seat back when you drive his car. If your wife drags you to one more antique store when your feet have been aching for 4 stores already, take one for the team (she’s only looking for the best price anyway, and that’s a good thing for you!… insert winky face here). As far as it depends on you… if it’s in your power to do so… live at peace with your spouse.

There are TONS more scripture that would go great for guidance on a great marriage, and there are TONS more tips we could share. But I believe most fall within these 12 guidelines. I’m not stating that my husband and I never fight, or that I’m this perfect wife, or that he’s a perfect husband. But we have a fantastic marriage because we try to do all 12 of these things. Just like any human being, I get annoyed with him, and him with me from time to time, but that seems to be less and less the more and more we put these 12 things into practice.

How is your Love in Action? I’d love to hear and share, leave me a comment!

How to Celebrate Without the Chaos

Yesterday I shared my heart about cherishing the moment within the Christmas season and why we need to stop and ponder the reason we celebrate. You can read that here.

If you read that post you may be wondering (or even pondering. HA!) HOW you can take a moment to celebrate in the midst of the chaos. Let me share a bit of what we’ve chosen to do over the past few years in order to bring more celebration and less chaos to our Christmas season.

For us the chaos begins with my daughter’s birthday around Thanksgiving. We try to cram it in before Thanksgiving, and if you know us you know we don’t cut corners on birthday parties, I’m pretty sure they are my 4 of my favorite things to do! My other daughter has a birthday within a week of the New Year, so our chaos goes from November 20th to January 4th… and I feel I need to have that January birthday party completely planned before the November one just so we don’t forget through the month of December.
For us the chaos comes in the form of a personal christmas party, a deacon christmas dinner, a women’s ministry christmas meal/gift exchange, a church kids program, the big church christmas lunch and party. We do an advent calendar with our kids to make each day special throughout the month. My birthday is smack dab in the middle, and our anniversary is January 1st! Sounds CRAZY CHAOTIC doesn’t it? But it’s not! I promise you, it’s not. Here’s my secret in a nutshell. We got rid of everything that caused more stress than fun. If we were stressed a little but didn’t neglect the bigger picture, that was okay. But the things we dreaded and caused stress without any reason other than obligation, we cut.

First we scheduled out our Christmas weeks at the beginning of November. If things weren’t able to be spaced in a way that kept the chaos at bay, we moved things around, or cut them out completely. We chose what was important, what their purpose was (ultimately to celebrate the birth of Christ by gathering with people we loved and wanted to share God’s love with) and eliminated things that weren’t top priority. Although our part-time jobs may put on a fabulous Christmas party, getting a sitter, buying the extra gift for the gift exchange, and moving other meaningful engagement around seemed to heap more stress than meaning into the season, so we let those go. We respectfully decided not to attend. It was nothing against the party themselves, or the people who were going to attend, it just simply didn’t fit into our priorities for the season.  (and perhaps that will change year to year). So

#1. Ask yourself what your priorities are. What should get more time and attention, and what can be skipped. Then actually decline things that don’t fit in. Remember saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. So if you are saying yes to a meaningful, non-stressed Christmas, you’ll need to say no to things that don’t fit.

We do a daily advent calendar with our kids. Starting on December 1st there are 25 Christmas activities we do to purposefully bring meaning to the season. In years past I was trying to go big and make everyday huge. I guess I thought that big and extravagant meant meaningful and impactful. However, all it did was create stress, work, and failed advent days. Although it’s purpose was good, to focus on the real reason we celebrate, it’s execution was an epic fail! So we simplified. It’s important to focus on Christ and the outreach that this season can bring, so we stuck with those basics. We only do one Random Act of Kindness each week. We read the Christmas story throughout, we make time for family movie nights where we can cuddle together and have family closeness. We discuss the elements of Christmas. We purposefully set aside moments to reflect on the awe-inspiring focal point of the season… Jesus.

#2. Plan ahead for quiet, meaningful moments to give yourself time to reflect on the WHYs of the season. **To do this, you have to do #1

Many years ago we had to make the decision not to participate in extended family gift exchange. We had already decided that with our kids we were going to downplay the gift aspect of Christmas anyway. But the extended family (Our siblings, and all of their kids) was growing way bigger than we could ever keep up with financially. So we asked that we choose other ways to celebrate instead of buying gifts. Gift giving is fun. It’s one of the biggest highlights of Christmas Day. Jesus was our ultimate gift, and giving gifts has always been a reflection of that and extending the “giving” spirit Jesus had. But the financial burden those gifts heap on the gift giver can suck the joy right out of the season. For our 4 children, they receive 3 gifts on Christmas. We model these gifts after the gifts the wise men gave to Jesus. Gold, Frankincense, and Myrrh. Our kids do not make a wish list. They can add anything they want to a birthday list, but for Christmas we focus on giving, not receiving. The gold gift is something fun that they’ll enjoy; A toy usually. The frankincense gift is something that will aid in their spiritual walk; Bible, devotional, Christian movie, Christian artwork. The myrrh gift is a gift for their bodies; usually clothing. They spend their own money and draw a sibling to buy for… again, to teach them about giving. We can not afford to give gifts to all our friends. With being the pastor of the church, we would just have too many friends to buy for. Instead we opt out of that type of gift giving and we host an informal christmas party where we cook goodies for our friends and make time to sit and BE PRESENT with them.

My sister hosts a really nice dinner for her friends as a gift. It may cost her and her husband some time, and a tad bit more to their grocery budget, but the gift is a fabulous meal and some good quality time. Gifts do not have to be material in order to be meaningful. Keep in mind that although giving is better than receiving you will soon receive the bills for all of those gifts!

#3 Give within your means. Be creative, but don’t stress. Plan ahead for your kids so you can catch an item they may love while it’s on sale. You can give and still teach your kids that it’s not the primary part of Christmas.

We typically host or prepare 4 Christmas parties. We have a personal one where we have a Christmas open house that is “come and go” in style. We invite people in all of our different areas of life. From our neighborhood, our church, our workplaces. We have a small intimate dinner as a gift to our deacons. I host the Women’s Ministry gathering and gift exchange. These three are in our home. The last one is the annual Christmas dinner at church following our kids church program. I love every single gathering. I love that we can have a large amount of people pass through our home. They don’t come at the same time, they don’t all leave at the same time, so I get the chance to talk to most without feeling like I left anyone out (Pastor’s wife’s problems!). I love our deacon dinner where we can express our thanks to an amazing leadership team! I love love love our women’s gathering. The giggles and fellowship is unmatched anywhere else! And I ADORE seeing our entire church family sharing a meal, and some fun games together. But hosting all these things can zap a person’s energy! To combat the stress that comes along with that, I do #1 (plan out all the events that are meaningful). Then I make my “needs” list. I make the shopping lists, the ingredients list, the gifts list all before Thanksgiving. By December 1st I have every meal we will eat for the rest of the year planned and the various grocery lists made. I can look at my calendar and know that if our Advent calendar is going to have us making christmas cookies, that I will have the christmas cookie ingredients. If the calendar says we have our church dinner the next day, then I know I already have dessert and side dish ingredients in the cupboard ready for the event. Gifts for various gift exchanges have already been planned out. When each gift can be bought within the budget is all planned… before Thanksgiving. This frees up the days for the fun of the season without the stress of not being prepared.

#4 Be prepared. Line up your events with the items you’ll need in advance so you’re prepared to enjoy and not stress. 

When we host a party, or attend a party, we want to fellowship. We want to socialize. We do not want to be standing over the stove while our guests are laughing and making memories. Nor do we want to attend a party where we never get to see the host. So if our party starts at 3, we have everything done and ready by 2:30/2:45 so we can greet our guests at the door, and socialize with them for the duration of the party. We also accept help, or ask for help so that we can all enjoy the party together. For our women’s gathering I will have ladies come and help me set up. I will also allow them help me clean up afterwards. If they are offering, they want to help. (if you don’t want to help, don’t offer! haha). We do not prepare the church food ourselves, we ask that everyone bring something to share. It’s more important to be together at christmas than to run around frazzled entertaining!

#5 Use time management so you can be present at your own parties. And accept and ask for help! Value relationship over perfection. Dismiss etiquette for friendships.

And lastly, take a deep breath, look around at every chance and praise God for the blessing. Again, if you can’t do that you need to revisit #1. If you hate Christmas caroling in the frozen tundra where your hands never get warm the rest of the season… and you can’t stop mid carol and capture a joyous moment… choose to skip the Christmas Caroling next year (can you tell this is not my favorite thing to do?!) Just as Mary sat and watched the festivities that first Christmas day, just as she decided to sit and ponder all these things, we, too should take the time amidst the chaos to marvel in all Christ has done for us. He came from heaven to earth to be our Way, our Life, our Savior. And for THAT, we celebrate!

#6- CELEBRATE… Celebrate by keeping Jesus the focal point. Bring Him glory this Christmas season.

The list can go on and on. But ultimately we mustn’t forget that the season should be a season of celebration of Jesus’s becoming Emmanuel, God with us. When we gather with friends and family it should be as a light shining for Jesus. When we offer gifts it should be to represent the gift of Jesus’ presence. When we partake of the Christmas festivities we should take the time to ponder just how blessed we are to be able to celebrate the gift of all gifts– Jesus

What are some ways you keep increase the celebration and decrease the chaos, I’d love to hear from you in the comments area.

 

Ponder this Season

Welcome to the Christmas Season! If you haven’t already attended a Christmas gathering, I’m sure within the next couple of days, you’ll have your ugly sweaters on, toting gifts for friends, co-workers, or even your mailman (don’t forget the mailman!). The wrapping paper will be strewn across every flat surface, the tape will be out (or missing!), and your nerves will be frazzled! If you’re like me, you’ve already hosted a christmas gathering (or two) and still have more in the weeks to come. So, now may be just the right moment to ask you… Are you enjoying the Christmas season? Do you dread it’s coming, praise it’s passing, or do you look forward to it only to see it whiz by in a busied blur of tinsel and tizzy? Do you ever stop and ponder the blessings of this season?

Let me remind of you of one of the most important Christmas story. Luke 2 says that once Jesus was born the shepherds were told of His miraculous birth and they came at once. After they saw the savior they just couldn’t keep their mouths shut about their amazement. They told everyone. It it seems that many came to see what the shepherds were so excited about. So, imagine introducing a new baby to the world and within such a short amount of time there’s a crowd there admiring your child.

I don’t know about other moms, but I wanted some alone time to bond with my baby before I opened the door to everyone and anyone to come and “oooohhh and awe” over them. But I wonder if Mary knew Jesus was to be shared. And so she entertained. She invited all those worshippers into her “Stall” with her brand new messiah child. And in the hustle and bustle of all that was happening Mary “kept all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19)

I’m sure Mary could have been overwhelmed. She could have tried to straighten the barn stall and manger to perfection level cleanliness. For that matter she could have turned everyone away since she only had a humble manger to entertain in. She could have stressed over whether or not the family had matching outfits fit for a worship session. She could have been frantic trying to prepare meals and presents and crafts to celebrate this most amazing event, the birth of her savior, her son… but she isn’t recorded as doing so. Instead she rested with Jesus in her arms and she stored the joy away in her heart.

I can picture her now. She, having just given birth, still recovering, but in that early stages of pure euphoria sits back and takes it all in. Her Son. They are worshiping her Son, the king of all kings, and Lord of all lords, the savior of the world, HER savior. And she took that moment and instead of letting the stress of it all overwhelm her, she pondered instead. Perhaps she pondered the angels promise to her and then to Joseph. Perhaps she pondered the announcement she made to Elizabeth when Jesus’ cousin lept while still growing in the womb. Perhaps she recalled all the prophesies about the Messiah that she’d grown up learning about.

And this my friend, is the one thing many of us are lacking each and every holiday season. As a pastor’s wife we entertain a lot. We are either having a party in our home, or hosting an event at church every single week. Don’t get me wrong, we LOVE the holiday season, but there are always more items to check off the list of “to-dos”. This can be draining, daunting, and mundane if not done correctly. If not done purposefully, we can get all caught up in the lights, the decorations, the programs, the parties, the gifts, the finances, the stress, the heartache… and we fail to sit back and ponder.

I have a list of ways to do this. Over the years I’ve prayed for a way to enjoy the holiday season without heaping the stress on to the breaking point, and I’m confident I’m headed in the right direction (can’t honestly say I’ve mastered it). So if you’d like to see the “How tos” check back in tomorrow. But for now, let the idea of taking time to ponder the Christmas season sink in.

Albert Barns says that “pondered”  means weighed. This is the original meaning of the word “weighed.” She kept them; she revolved them; she “weighed” them in her mind, giving to each circumstance it’s just importance, and anxiously seeking what it might indicate respecting her child.

So, if we were to “ponder” this season, and the importance of this season, and the REASON for this season (it’s such a great cliché!), we’re going to make the season revolve around its purpose. JESUS. We’re going to give each activity that we do an importance. We should be celebrating the birth of our Savior, so if our activities don’t do that, we can give ourselves permission to let them go.

Christmas parties aren’t wrong… but if they are causing strife in our household, stress in our hearts, and debt in our wallet, it is no longer about Jesus and should be omitted.

Christmas cookies aren’t wrong (PRAISE GOD!) but if we’re screaming at our kids for making too many messes, ignoring our family to get just one more batch done, it is no longer about Jesus and should be omitted from our holiday traditions.

Presents for loved ones of course are not wrong, but when we lose sleep over finding (and affording) the latest gadget, toy, or luxury, and we’re lashing out at the crowds at the malls in order to add to our plethora of “THINGS” all to please someone else and not our Savior that we’re celebrating… well, something has to change.

This season brings with it fun and warmth and togetherness, but it is also one of the leading causes for depression, anxiety, and despair. Most of that comes from our lack of ponder. We fail to sit back, and really weigh the importance of the season. We fail to sip our cocoa slower, we fail to cherish our kids’ excitement, we fail to gather just a tad bit closer, and we fail to glorify the one with whom our celebration is due.

Have your Christmas party, but don’t fail to breath in all the love that comes with having friends and family close. Ponder the blessing of friendship as you gather.

Bake your Christmas cookies, let the kids make messes, add in another batch for a neighbor, but don’t fail to ponder the reason we work these traditions into the season. To give out of sacrifice is an honor.

Shop for the perfect Christmas gift, but don’t fail to remember the greatest gift to mankind, the savior.

There is so much of the Christmas season to take in. And as Mary so graciously did on that first Christmas day, I pray you, too will find time to do as well. Take a moment to look around at the friends surrounding you during this season and praise God for each one of them. Take a moment to watch your child’s excitement over a gift under the tree, or lights as they look out their car window. Just take a moment to ponder what all of this means. What is it that you’re celebrating, and then take a sacred moment to ponder His goodness… that began that first Christmas day.

 

Check back in tomorrow for some ways to de-stress your holiday season. It seems as I started this topic God decided to lead me a different direction. However, I’d love to share how we’ve managed to host a party each week (between ministries at church and our own personal one), and bring some cherished moments in each day through the season. Maybe you could use some ideas for balancing the long list of to-dos with capturing the moments that need to be cherished. Until then… God bless.

What Life do you Choose?

It’s been an interesting couple of weeks. The weather has gone from bright and sunny and warm to snow flurries, cold, and gray. And it seems as if that has affected the beings living in my home. Including me! The grumbling has gotten to me. The unreasonable expectations have weighed me down. The constant reminder that I can not make everyone happy has brought days of tears to my eyes. And I’ve piled weight upon weight upon weight until I’m riddled with headaches, sleeplessness, and crabbiness.

 

The seasons of frustration, anger, moodiness, or just plain crabbiness might stem from the fact that I homeschool, so these beings (along with their frustrations, anger, moodiness, and crabbiness) are with me all.the.time. It might stem from my role as pastor wife, or the upcoming holiday schedule staring me in the face. It could stem from any number of outside influences demanding more and more when I feel I can offer less and less.

But here’s the thing. He who is in me (JESUS) is greater than he who is in the world (SATAN). Do I blame Satan for all bad things in my life? Is he the root of all my frustrations? All my anger? Moodiness and crabbiness? No, not completely. I blame myself. I blame myself for forgetting that I have Jesus within me to conquer all those emotions that sweep across me through the day. 1 John 4:4 is an encouragement to the early Christians who have overcome the lies false preachers were preaching in their day.  God says to them, “You are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” We overcome BECAUSE of the Jesus in us. So when we feel defeated, deflated, down, and full of despair we know we have a Jesus in us who is WAY more powerful than the forces bringing us down.

No doubt many things that lure us to our crabby side come from the enemy. No doubt. He does not want us to live the life God intended. He does not want us to overcome and praise God for giving us victory. So he’ll whisper to you that you have a right to be offended. He’ll prompt you to lash out at a disobedient child, I mean, you ARE the authority! Satan will let you be comfortable thinking that “everyone yells, I’m fine”. But when it comes down to it, and when you are truly held accountable for your actions (emotions are one of those actions), it will all be on YOU.

So I’ll ask you what I’ve asked my 7-year-old many times this week. “What life do you want to live?”

We quote James 1:19 and 20 every day in my home. We need to! “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry. For human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” We go even a step further and we discuss why it’s important to produce the righteousness God desires. God desires to give you life, And not a frustrated, anger-filled, moody, crabby one! He wants you to have an abundant life.

You see, Satan wants to steal, kill, and destroy. He wants to steal your joy by being frustrated with everything. He wants to kill your relationships by being angry all the time, and he wants to destroy your day with a bad, crabby mood! But JESUS!!! Jesus wants to give life, and an ABUNDANT life! (John 10:10)

So what does that life look like? Is it free of all frustrating little tasks? Free from ever getting angry or offended? Does it mean that you’ll never have a moody day or fall into the pit of crabbiness? Oh I wish!

For me, one who faces frustrations everyday, who has to battle anger on a regular basis, who has the crazy life of homeschooling 4, babysitting full-time, and working a few hours outside the home where the temptation of being moody and crabby is right there… This abundant life looks like this:

I am making a lot of choices. I’m praying for perspective. I ask myself, reevaluate myself, and try again… and again… and again. I look at the child throwing a fit and say, “I could yell, or I could scoop her up and ask her to pray with me.” One will kill our relationship, one will bring a more abundant life.  A child has a meltdown over having to do a spelling test. I can let that frustration settle in, roll my eyes and spout out each word expressing just how frustrated I am. Or I could ask God for perspective, realize a tad more study time may solve the issue and encourage said child along the way. One can steal my (and their) joy, the other will bring confidence and thus a more abundant life. Someone is upset at me. I was unable to meet their expectation (I can hear the pastors’ wives out there nodding their heads!) I can fight attitude with attitude. Or I can re-evaluate, pray for a peaceful way to handle that situation, and leave the rest with God. One will destroy a friendship, and most likely a peaceful mood while the other gives abundant life.

It all boils down to what life you want to live. If you choose to dwell in the circumstances that surround you, to wallow in the despair that stress can bring you, you will choose a life of offense, unsettlement, and constant frustration. If you choose to live a life allowing the One who lives in you to conquer the one who lives in the world, you will choose a life of peace, joy, and power.

Verse 21 following the verse I quoted earlier urging us to be slow to anger because it doesn’t produce the righteousness God desires says, “So get rid of all filth and evil in your lives, and humbly accept the word God has planted in your hearts, for it has the POWER to save your souls.” (Emphasis mine). God desires not just to give abundant life on earth, but an eternal life in heaven. So rid yourself of the life sucking anger, and frustration. Get rid of the moodiness and crabby that settles in your brows. The evil one does not have your best interest in mind! He does not care about your peaceful life! And submit to the One who died in order to give you this life! Accept His word, and live in joy knowing that He has the power to save your soul! (And your attitude!)

And to end let me quote the “speech” I gave my 7-year-old today with tears streaming down my face.

“You have a battle going on for your soul, sweetie. The Devil wants to steal your joy, kill your relationships, and destroy your happy heart. But Jesus says, “SHE’S MINE!!! I died for her, I bought her with my blood, she accepted me, and she’s MINE!” And they fight and they fight because you’re worth fighting for. Jesus sees your potential. He sees how valuable you are when you have your joy, your strong relationships, and your happy heart. He knows you are an amazing girl. But Satan is fighting against you becoming that amazing person. So he fights to keep you angry, frustrated, and unsettled. He fights so he can own you, so he can get you to hurt those around you with your words, and disrespect authority. He wants you to have a life that hates all the time. And Jesus will not relinquish. He knows that He’s already died on that cross FOR YOU! He knows that you’ve chosen Him. And so now he fights for you to choose HIM in the midst of those frustrating times. He fights for you to choose HIM when math is hard, or when your brother doesn’t choose your game. He is pleading with you to choose HIS path, for it leads to a life that is full of blessings. His path leads to a prosperous life, plans that He himself has set up for you! But, honey… YOU have to choose. Who will win? What life will you choose? Mommy can’t choose for you. I sure wish I could, it would definitely NOT be this anger filled life. So all I can do is show you what’s going on and then ask… What life do you want?”

Who will win in the battle for your life? As for me? I’ll choose Jesus every time. It takes effort, self-discipline and a lot of  “taking thoughts captive”. But I’m living the fruits of choosing this life, and I see the fruits of choosing the other option.

If you do not have Jesus in you it’s hard to fight a battle with the one in the world. But, just like Jesus died for my little girl, He died for you, too. And he desires to give you a life… an abundant life. If you’d like to accept Jesus, and to choose to follow Him, please click on the link below for more clarification. 

http://followchrist.ag.org/

And Please, if you just made the choice today to follow Jesus, or if you’re struggling to choose the abundant life, please contact me. thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com 

If you live in the St. James area, please let the church surround you. Church friends can make such a difference in the life of a Christian. We meet at Crossroads Church 10am every Sunday. 721 Weston Ave. In St. James, MN. ALL are welcome! Visit our facebook page here.

Tenacious Tuesday: We Have ALL the Answers

I once spoke to a woman in her late 30s about her wavering faith in God. She was raised in a Christian home, and even though things were rough in her life, when it came right down to it what she had learned was carved on her heart. With every statement she said against the faith she grew up with, she was very quick to remember how real what she had learned was.

Was she brainwashed by her parents? Was the Word of God ingrained in her brain?
Brainwashed? No, but she was taught! And she was taught with such consistency that should could no longer deny the truth behind what she was taught. (per definition, you could say she was “ingrained”).

We teach our kids the Word of God on a daily basis. We read it, we point out how it applies to our lives, and we use it as a guide to parent.

But, to be honest there are times when these tenacious kiddos push every button and make us doubt everything we’re doing. To be completely and totally honest, even as a pastor’s wife… There are moments I tell God, “I’m not seeing this scriptures come to life!” However, without doubt, it’s because I’m not looking or because I’m not actually being consistent in living that scripture out.

The truth of the matter is that when you train up a child in the way they should go, when they are old they will not depart from it. The reality is that we’re supposed to teach the Word of God to our kids. Jesus specifically tells us to let the children come to Him. And as these kids’ parents, it’s our responsibility to introduce our kids to Him.

First, let me tell you how NOT to do this. DO NOT look at your tenacious child moments after the peak of their fit and say yell, “The BIBLE SAYS…” and then fill the blank with some mortal sin your kid has committed. The Bible is not a weapon. The Bible isn’t a tool for shaming your child. When the Holy Spirit convicts us with the Word of God, He does it gently, loving us into correction. And He never forces it upon us. We can not beat our kids up, using guilt, shame, and condemnation and think we’re teaching the Bible. Remember parents can guide, but they can not convict!

So HOW do you use the Bible for teaching the correct behavior?

1. Deuteronomy 4:9-10 tells us to pass what we know down to our children. Share testimony of what God is doing in your life, and what He’s done throughout your life. Share how you got saved, and what an impact the Bible has been on your kids.

It may look like this: “When I’ve been very angry before, I’ve noticed that if I sit quietly and pray that God helps me calm down. Once I asked Jesus to be the leader of my life, I started turning to Him to calm me. I may be calm now, but I wasn’t always.” Share stories of when God helped you through times of stress and anxiety. Focus on what God has done in YOU… not what you are currently seeing in your child.

2. 1 Timothy 4:10-11 Reminds us that we labor and strive because we’ve put our hope in THE Living God, who is the Savior of all people. And that we are to teach this. Be disciplined to read your Bible with your child every day. There are children’s Bibles, and children’s devotionals, and there is nothing wrong with those, but might I suggest reading strictly from the Bible. The NLT is very easy to understand, and you can pause and explain as you go along.

3. Deuteronomy 6:5-9 and 11:19 tells us to Teach the Word to your children. Talk about it wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about it from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Basically look for teachable moments where you can apply the Bible to life. You can use your own experiences or even things you see on TV, the news, or things you see in the lives of friends. Talk about it as often as you can. Remember what I said NOT to do. We aren’t using the Bible to condemn. We aren’t pointing out sins in their friends and shaming their friends. But we can show what the Bible says about certain topics that come up.

Although I do not own these products, I’ve heard amazing things about them. These products help find scripture that would line up with topics of everyday life. Check out Parenting with Scripture  by Kara Durbin or head over to www.virtuetrainingbible.com and build your own topical Bible. And of course you can always Google “What does the Bible say about ________”. (or ask Siri, or Alexa, or whatever electronic that answers your random questions). I teach this tool to my kids and now they can find scripture for whatever they are looking for.

4. Lastly, Scriptural instruction isn’t enough. Galatians 5:1 tells us to be imitators of God. Role modeling the Christian life, and your willingness to read and DO what the Bible says will go a long way! We all make mistakes, and we all know that God forgives, redirects, and guides us time and time again. Be real with that Tenacious Child of yours, be patient as God is patient (and even remind them of that). You can model this with simple scripts “I’m trying really hard to glorify God today, so I’m going to leave you to your fit while I go cool down.” or When things are stressful for you and good for them, you can say, “Will you please pray for Mama? I’m really struggling using my fruit of the Spirit. Will you pray that I can be strong in Jesus and use self-control during this stressful moment I’m having?”

If you do not already have a personal Bible Reading practice, now is the time to start. It’s powerful. I’m not a morning person, but I’ve been getting up early and getting into the Word more and more lately and it’s doing wonders in my life. Waiting until things are in full swing then reaching for my Bible hasn’t been working! But getting up just 30 minutes early was a great thing in my life. Search for plans on the app Youversion… or on Bible.com (they are the same!). But ultimately, just READ the Word. For more in-depth study, I HIGHLY suggest David Guzik’s commentary on Enduringword.com.   The Word of God is a living breathing lifeline! I challenge you to start reading today. Please email if you need help getting started! And let someone know you’re starting! Accountability is an amazing thing!

thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com

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Read more about the Tenacious Child here.

Are Christians Obligated to Address Every Controversy?

With every controversy that pops up in our country (and even abroad) many look to The Church for their reaction. They either are looking for which way to lean, or looking for another reason to discredit, either way, there is an expectation that The Church (Christians) should somehow take a stand one way or another on various controversies that come up… and there’s a new one every week!

So, are Christians obligated to address every controversy?

Controversy isn’t new. It’s always been there rearing its ugly head. Whether it be if the Earth is flat or round, or if Luther or the Pope is right… the controversies swirl around among every circle of people groups. Christians are not immune to this, and I’m sure every Christian deep down “takes a side”. But I’d like to answer this question with a simple NO. No, Christians are NOT obligated to address every controversy.

Christians should take strong stands against things that go against the Love of God, and the sin that threatens the people God so loves, there is no doubt this is important. So, when it comes to sin issues, ie, murder, infidelity, theft, HATE… absolutely, we need to speak up, speak loud, and take our stand. We need to defend the Word of God and as it lays out the sins God hates, we, too can take that stand, and should!

But, there is a new hot topic each week, and a majority of them are not sin issues. Sure, our world is full of sin, evil, and hate. But not every single surface issue is lined out in scripture as a sin. And the underlying issues are the battles we need to fight… but not on social media, on the streets, or with our own hateful attitudes.

What is important is faith expressing itself in love. When I take a stand on something that isn’t a sin issue I’m bound to upset one side or another, all for what? What good do I do for the Kingdom of God speaking loud about a topic that isn’t even an issue in God’s eyes.  The important issue isn’t a sin issue. For example pride in our Country isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not a biblical thing either. The important issue is our faith, and expressing that faith in Love.

We have freedoms, and we not only thank our servicemen for those freedoms, but as Christians, we thank God for them. We’ve been called to live in freedom, but we have to remember not to use our freedom to satisfy our sinful nature. We have to be careful our freedom in this country doesn’t become an idol, that we place it above the freedom we have in God. That’s what the sinful nature does, it reverts back to idolatry. The acts of the flesh are obvious, especially when we choose to fight a fight Christ would not fight.

**I feel I need keep giving this disclosure, but I am NOT talking about sin issues. Be sure you understand that, and be sure you truly know what is considered sin. 

Instead, we are to use our freedoms to serve one another in LOVE. It can be summed up asking yourself, “Do I love them like I love myself?” Are you finding out what both sides are feeling, or are you so stuck on your side that you refuse to show love? Because if we are always biting and devouring one another, we need to watch out and reevaluate! Our biggest concern should not be what “side” we’re on. Instead it should be that we not destroy one another.  So no, Christians are not obligated to take a side, you’re bound to destroy someone in the process.

So, Let the Holy Spirit be your guide. You’re allowed to have an opinion, but share it as the Holy Spirit leads, and be sure it lines up with scripture and that it’s full of love. Share it one on one as to understand where the person your sharing it with is. Be sure that the important part is your faith, and expressing it in Love.

When we follow the desires of our sinful nature, that desire to be heard, to be right, to “take a stand” the results are obvious, they cause hostility, quarreling, outbursts of anger, dissension, division. There is no doubt that if you stand against murder, those outside the church could possibly still have hostility, quarreling, anger, and division… but that is because they are separating themselves from the standards God has set before us. But when it is not a sin issue, you are working more towards division than drawing them in. Your voice is heard more as quarrelling than it is bridging the gap. So we need to be mindful of weighing in on every controversy so as not to provoke more division, more dissension, and more anger.

**Again, if another believer is overcome by some sin, the godly should GENTLY and HUMBLY help that person back to the faith. Of COURSE! But, again… this isn’t what I’m talking about here.

Ask ourselves WHY we feel we need to address each controversy. I know that deep down no one thinks it’s to stir the pot. Perhaps we think we are so important, and therefore our opinions should be, too? Well, we’re fooling ourselves. We are not that important.

Here’s the thing, those who live only to satisfy their own desires will end up with decay and the death of relationships. So when our motive is not to build relationships (with all of those God has put in our path… so, Facebook world, twitter world, or even blog world). We will only reap a harvest of hurt and decay. It does not help. But those who live with the purpose of pleasing the Spirit (living that spirit led life even when controversy arises) will see such an amazing harvest of love.

So, No, Christians are not obligated to address every controversy, I even think they shouldn’t. It doesn’t matter whether we stand on this side, or that side what counts is whether we have been transformed into a new creation. And causing more division to the latest controversy will not be a flattering view on your faith and the fact that you are indeed a transformed being!

Causing division IS a sin issue. 

If you’re looking for scripture to aid in this, please read Galatians 5 and 6. The people of the time may not have been discussing who to vote for, what organization to give to, or how to honor our vets… but they had controversy and God gives us a great guideline as to how to deal with the conflicts that arise in our own culture.

These battles are better fought in prayer.
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” -2 Chronicles 7:14.

Tenacious Tuesday: All over the Place

I have a lot on my plate today (and yesterday). I’ll be the first to admit, I need my man! When he is out-of-town, I notice, and lament! He left yesterday and we have covered 310 miles in two days dealing with all things unplanned. From broken bones to broken vehicle to surprise Tuesday Night plans, the past 48 hours have been a blur. And most of that time was spent in a car with bored children as I toted them to 5 different towns.

Life doesn’t always go as planned. Sometimes things are all in place and you can sit back and breathe deeply and feel just so content with the ways things are going. And other times life throws us so many curve balls we don’t even know where to aim to hit them!

So I sit here, in the quietness of my house munching on candy corn and sipping some McDonald’s coffee… 22050824_10155853326664430_1950326624_oat 9pm reflecting  on this day  these days.

Despite waking early, doing some school work with my older two, jetting off to finish school in a Tires Plus store, getting home just in time to get some much needed chores done, then running off to another activity where I got extremely lost (which just heaps mounds of anxiety on me) and getting home just in time for kids’ bedtime… I think I can say we had a good day. So I shocked myself and I sit here and wonder what did I do? My kids were cooped up the car almost all day… and most of yesterday, too as we tracked down an arm brace for a broken arm… and yet… we did pretty good!

Please don’t think I’m bragging. Well, I am… but not about myself and how great I did (I really felt the day was out of control!), but I’m bragging on my God, and the power of His Word.

I titled today’s Tenacious Tuesday “All over the place” because I feel that’s been my week, and my mind lately. As I was trying to come up with a theme for posting this week I just couldn’t decide between posting about the power of prayer or the power of the Word. And although I’d like to dive deeper into each one of those, today my mind just can’t narrow it down… and I don’t have to. They go hand in hand.

My weekly verse is Philippians 4:8. I can’t believe how often this verse has come up this week and it’s only Tuesday!

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.

The previous verses talk about prayer… another main theme in my life right now… but I read this verse and think, “How can I do this? How can I think of these things when so much takes up my thoughts.”
How can we fix our thoughts on things that are true and noble and right and pure when the world is so opposite? How can we think of things that are lovely and admirable when we are lost in a town we don’t know and kids are screaming and giggling shrill giggles in the back of the van? What if our plans are changed into things that aren’t excellent or praiseworthy? HOW are to we think about such things?

Well, we worry about nothing but pray about everything. We look for the peace that comes only from Him, and we dwell in it. We turn our negatives into positives just by going to the Lord in prayer. We stop dwelling on how our day didn’t go as planned… and we start dwelling in the one who has our steps ordered!

We pray… and we read His Word. The next verse says,

 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Whatever you have learned… So you go back to the Word, and you go over what you’ve learned… and you put it into practice.

I homeschool and multiple times a day I hear, “But that’s hard!” as if that should be a valid excuse for not doing long division, or spelling the challenge words, or perfecting cursive writing (yes, we still teach it!). Well, since when does something being difficult mean we stop trying? Sometimes we just DO IT!

It’s hard to put the things we’ve learned into practice. Perhaps you haven’t actually learned it, perhaps you haven’t “by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, presented your requests to God”. And because you haven’t, you feel all over the place.

This morning I had a 10a appointment to get my tire fixed… we had 45 min to get there, but when I got to the van, the tire was flat. I drove slow to the gas station and spent 15 minutes airing up that tire. I wanted to cry. I needed my man, he wasn’t there! I whined, I got frustrated, and by the time I was done, I was in pain from gripping that stupid air hose! But I got in the van, 15 min later than we needed to leave for the appointment and said, “Dear Jesus, thank you for this van! Thank you that airing up this tire will get us to our appointment. Now, Jesus, please take this worry from me, get us there safely, prompt me if I’m being unsafe, and guide the rest of our day.”

I made a choice. I stopped whining. I let go of the frustration. I gave my anxiety of being late over to God and when we got there, my van went straight in to be worked on! *It was even done in 30 min!

When I drove aimlessly around an unfamiliar town searching for the place I was supposed to be I was FULL of anxiety. I yelled “WHERE AM I!” one too many times. I felt frustrated at the lack of direction I was given, and I felt overwhelmed by the possibility of missing an event. And I pulled over, bowed my head and asked God, “Will you give me peace?” It was a simple prayer, but my aim was to think of something praiseworthy. And I looked up and could see my destination in the distance. It took me 2 tries to get to it… but I made it (and the event was wonderful!).

I may feel all over the place, but I know God is still on the throne, there to give me peace that surpasses all understanding.

So, what does this have to do with our tenacious kids? Well, I guess I just started writing, and I left it to God to take this blog post where it needed to go… and I suppose I never mentioned these tenacious ones… but, I can see where it still applies. We can set the example. We can calm their storm by showing them to fix their thoughts on things that won’t bring stress and anxiety.

And parents of tenacious children feel “all over the place” often. So, what will you choose? May I suggest something true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy?

If you’d like to join us on our journey with The Tenacious Child… find out what it’s all about here or send me a request to join our Facebook group here. We don’t have to do this life alone. A New Design (2)