Grow Where Your Planted: Lesson 1 of 5

It was a Wednesday. We packed our moving van. Thursday we said goodbye to friends and family, cried for the first 50 miles… then again 100 miles into the trip, again 200 miles in, and probably again at the 400 mile mark as we pulled within a town over from our new home. It was a thrill, but stressful. It was what we felt God calling us to, but it was so full of anxiety as we moved our family of 6 to our new church.

That was 5 years ago. I’ve been in church ministry with my husband for 16 years (20 years total), but this past 5 years has been the first 5 years of being in the Lead pastor position, and boy oh boy is it different. 5 years go be VERY fast and we can either look back with regret of wasted time, or marvel in the lessons God has taught us. I’m a “glass half full” kinda gal… so you’re going to get the lessons I’ve learned. Plus, I can not look back with an ounce of regret… This has been such an amazing 5 years! It’s only been 5 years… but already we’ve learned so much (and I pray we just keep on learning and growing).

I can’t possibly put this vast amount of new-found knowledge into one post… no one would want to read that many words. So come back each day as we lead up to our 5th anniversary…

Let’s start here…

Starting over in a new town where no one knows you can set you on a path to a new you.

We were given 4 weeks to inform our employment, pack our home, and move to our new town and church. In that month I began to pray, “What kind of pastor’s wife do you want me to be?” I began to evaluate who I was, what I had to offer, and who I WANTED to be. I’m not saying we should be fake. I’m saying that sometimes we get stuck in our ways and changing isn’t easy. But when you move, and you are completely unknown, it’s easier to change. I may have started out struggling to be loving, to be patient, to be compassionate,  to be bold, but the more I prayed about the traits I wanted to have, the easier they became, and the more they became a part of me. I am not the same person I was 5 years ago. And I like the new me.

Myth: You have to move in order to become the person God’s calling you to be. 

Nothing could be more WRONG! I allowed my concern of what people thought of me hold me back from being who I wanted to be… and more importantly, who GOD wanted me to be. I fell into bad habits, found friends who didn’t mind those bad habits, and never sought ways to change those habits. I underestimated my friends and family and figured they’d see me as fake if I made big changes in my personality.

Can I encourage you to begin seeking where you are, and begin making the changes necessary to be who God is calling you to be. Do you want to be nicer?… start acting that out until it’s really WHO you are. Do you want to be more compassionate? Look for ways to show compassion to people with whom you come in contact. Do you want to be more evangelistic? Start stepping out. Don’t delay, and don’t wait for God to call you to another town… that may not work. You may never move from where you are (whether that be physically or spiritually) if you’re unwilling to make those changes.

For me, I wanted to step out of my shell and be bolder, nicer, friendlier, more purposeful. I look back now, and wish I would have done all those things where God had me. I let idea rejections keep me from coming up with new ideas. I let myself get lost in “bigger cities” where my niceness and friendliness wouldn’t go as noticed (although it may have made a bigger personal impact one on one). I missed opportunities because I was too set in my ways.

Moving certainly allowed me to step out and be bold, more enthusiastic, more evangelistic. What could I lose? I’ve learned my lesson though… living this way is powerful, it’s life changing. I will not hold back again. If God wants me to change, nothing will hold me back from making that change for Him. I praise God for giving me this opportunity to be who He’s called me to be. I thank God for this new adventure, and for still working in me through it. I pray I’ll keep making changes as He calls me drawing me closer to Him.

Please don’t hesitate. Don’t wait for any reason, jump right in, start your new adventure, and draw close to God. He will guide you, change you, and create a more perfect you!

Check back tomorrow for lesson #2

If attending church is one of the changes you’d like to make, please find a church in your area. If you need help with finding one, please email me at thepastorswifeslife@gmail.com and I will get to work on finding one in your area!

If you live in my area, Crossroads Church is right for you! Please join us this Sunday at 10am for amazing teaching straight from the Bible… I’ll save you a seat!

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Slave to Busyness

In the first year of marriage, I ran circles around my husband. If he took the last drink out of his glass, I hopped up and put it away (whether he was hoping for more to drink or not). I mopped our hardwood floor EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. It was just the two of us. No shoes were worn in the house… but those floors NEEDED to be mopped. There were nights my husband would sit on the couch and say, “Honey! STOP! Come sit with me.” I had to stay busy all the time. Funny thing though, I got off work at 2p (went in at 6a) and cleaned the apartment and took a short nap because, well, I wanted to be completely available to my new husband once he got home from work. Yet, I spent most of the night running around doing… busy work.

We live in a society that glorifies being busy. We value one another based on our schedules and how much space we can fill in on that little hourly grid. We come home and sit just long enough to brag about our busy days on social media… or we do it from our phones on the go.

We see statuses like
– It may be 3am, but I’ve crossed off the 40th thing on my to-do list! #whoneedssleep
-Yep, that’s an empty 12-cup coffee carafe… and it’s only 7am #busyday
-Not sure how I’ll get this paper done, dinner made, house cleaned, dog walked, work completed! #notime
-Up at 6a, and still going strong at 1am #insertyourenergyboostingproducthere

It’s absurd! It isn’t how we were designed. The Bible says, “It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” -Psalms 127:2

All this running here, there, and everywhere (even if you stay in your own house) is useless. Sure, we have to prepare meals, we have to work (whether it be outside the home, or in the home caring for children), we have to maintain our living spaces. There’s nothing wrong with signing up for a sport or book club, or church choir. It’s not useless to volunteer, pursue further education, or train for a better job. Of course if we try to do them all at once, we have to eventually give up rest. And rest is a gift from God.

Busyness can soon become a disease in your life. It can destroy your happiness, your health, and your walk with God. Busyness may get you through life, but it will not BRING you life. John Ortberg says in his book The Life You’ve Always Wanted ,”For many of us the great danger is not that we will renounce our faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it. We will just skim our lives instead of actually living them.”

I often wonder if the reason we fill every minute of our day with activity after activity, and the reason we boast about all we can fill in to our 24 hours is because society has filled us with this idea that the more we do, the more value we have. And yet, the more we do, the more pressures and temptations we put in our life. We may think that the packed full schedule means success and security and comfort and happiness. But it only attempts to fill a void that only God can fill. Our success isn’t measured in how well we can function on a tiny amount of sleep. Our security isn’t secured in a life with little down time. Our comfort doesn’t seem very comforting when we fill our lives with activities over people, and our happiness will be shallow when we fail to step back, slow down, and find solitude in God.

Hey, I’m not saying I don’t fall into this trap. I do, too often and I’m sure that’s why this is laid on my heart so heavy lately (well, for the past few years really). I see it, I recognize it, and I want out of it. We live in a society where pulling out of the busyness of life isn’t encouraged. We live where fast-food isn’t fast enough, we have to go through the drive-thru and eat in the car. And if that isn’t bad enough, we have replaced our meals with pills and patches, and tiny little power bars. We’ve gotten too busy for simple MEALS… we are in trouble. We put our kids in so many activities that we not only cut into their healthy sleep time, but we have completely done away with family time. Our kids are in school 7 hours a day, given 3 hours of homework, and still encouraged to try for varsity in every season of sports (sometimes those sports even overlap). And this has become so important that church hasn’t found itself on our schedules in months.
We must do something! But what? It’s the world we live in, right?

Author Dallas Willard speaks of a study done where mice were given amphetamines. Some mice were in solitude, some were in a group. It took very high dosages to kill the mice in solitude. However, the mice in the group started hopping around and hyping each other so much that a dosage twenty times smaller was lethal to those mice. They even introduced mice that had not been given ANY drugs to the group and within 10 minutes, the crowd had gotten them so hopped up and hyper that the drug-free mice died. This is the great effect of this “World” that has been created around us. We look at all of our friends get all hyped up on busyness that we feel we need to as well. We begin to put a value on ourselves based on how much we can cram into one day. But, let’s just STOP.

Let’s stop over scheduling our kids. Let’s stop boasting about everything we’ve done that day. Let’s stop letting our to-do list define how great we are. Let’s stop neglecting the rest God has given us.

And let’s start…
1. Planning ahead. When we procrastinate, we find that we cram way too much into a 24 hour period, and we miss out on the abundant life God wants for us. So plan ahead, and be sure to plan some down time into your life.

2. Praying and seeking God first. Give time to solitude with God. If that means getting up before kids do, then go to bed earlier so you can get up after a healthy night’s rest. This also may mean you have to cut something out. *You can also choose to go have time late at night… but only on nights where you can still get healthy amounts of sleep to prepare for your next day.

3. Cutting things out. Yes, getting a degree would help you get a better job. Getting a better job would help your finances. Better finances will…. Well… can I stop here and say, “Not always”. I don’t make 6 figures. And I’m doing great. Money isn’t everything. Simpler living just may be happier living. If you are pushing to get a degree just to get a better job to make more money… stop and ask yourself if that also means more hours away from family and church. I’ve seen this way too many times. Dad goes back to school while working full-time. He tells his family it’s just 2 years, then I’ll have so much more time. But then the new job requires more time away… and the cycle never stops. Maybe this isn’t the time for the new degree. Maybe wait until kids are grown and there is more time to pursue it. (Moms, this goes for you, too). Sports are fun. But don’t allow your kids to fill their time so full that they aren’t learning about quiet times. Stop the cycle now.

4. Take time to do nothing. Don’t plan something in every single slot on your calendar. Leave room to life. Do not be afraid of boredom. Let the day get away from you. You will start to feel free. Probably not right away, since busyness has such a great hold on us. You will have to make this a discipline, or a training in your life. But I guarantee it will bring freedom soon.

5. Change the stigma. Let’s start changing the scene. Stop glorifying busyness. Encourage others to come and enjoy life.

It’s time to change things, to choose another way of living, and to eliminate busyness from our lives.

One last thing… God wants more of you. He values you. He longs to be with you, to be in your thoughts, to be king over all your activities. If rest was good enough for Him… it’s good enough for us.

Ok…so one more thing…
Please watch this funny clip…
And remember, not everything that “saves time” makes life better. 😀

Whatever you want…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

pastorswifeslife@gmail.com

 

Mothering… The Struggle is Real

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do you Enjoy your Children?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

Until then… Enjoy those kiddos of yours!

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Father’s Day for the Fatherless

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

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

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

Why does this happen to me?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

When the Sun Shines

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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