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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Don’t Forget

My girls wake up with songs on their hearts. The sing them as they get ready in the morning, they sing them as they eat their breakfast, and they sing them as they begin their school work. This particular morning they had been singing King of the World by Natalie Grant (see the video below). Now, these girls do not merely hum the song, or pick lines from here or there… they sing the entire thing. And right in the middle my 10-year-old looks up and says, “Mom, how is it even possible to forget that God has always been the king of the world? I mean, do you really think there are people who have forgotten?” I wish I could tell her that no one has forgotten. But we all know that’d be a lie. Now you have to understand, my daughter isn’t making fun. She isn’t judging. She is still learning the world around her. Although she does know that not everyone believes in Jesus, the King of Kings and Lord of Lord, she at least thought everyone was aware of Him each day. You see, this 10 year old hasn’t been in the world yet. She hasn’t seen how stress pulls you away. She hasn’t experienced politics (although she got a good taste through out the last 12 or so months), and how quickly our world is turning away from God. But to be completely open with her, I would have to tell her that even church-going-self-professed-Christians have too easily forgotten that God has always been the King of the world… and always will.

How does this happen? How do we walk through this world and forget about God? How do we face the issues this world brings and try every other “remedy” and forget about the King of the world?

I think it happens to many of us, and it isn’t until we’ve hit an all time low that we finally reach out to this long-lost God that we use to serve. We’ve grown so distant that we forget about the one who can pull us up, get us through, and help us triumph. We turn to friends, social media, drugs, sex, addictions, ourselves… and we only find ourselves further in the pit way worse than we were when we started. How did we forget? How COULD we forget?

1. We stop talking to God.

We allow our schedules to fill every minute of our day leaving no room for a prayer time. Imagine if you stopped talking to a friend. Eventually, we stop making time to get together with that friend. We grow apart. We eventually stop talking about them, and eventually they are no longer in our short-term memory… and barely in the long-term. On occasion when their name is brought up you may find yourself with a smile remembering the good times you’ve had, but you quickly move on to the next thing, and that friend has been forgotten again. It’s sad, but it happens with God, too. We look at our busy schedules and try to squeeze God in, and when we’ve made no room, we toss Him to the side. Instead, shouldn’t we work our other activities around our time with God? Without talking to Him, we will soon lose our closeness with him, and eventually, we’ll forget altogether.

2. We stop studying Him.

I took a Literature class in college. I attended the class (that I can’t even remember the real name… it wasn’t “Literature” but some specific kind of Lit). I may have even gotten a good grade. But sitting here right now, I can not for the life of me tell you what I learned in the class. I don’t even know one book I had to read for the class. So I have to tell you, I do not feel I’m some literature scholar. Once I stopped studying, I stopped learning, and I stopped caring. Sure I love to read, but I don’t study literature anymore. I’m FAR from a literature know-it-all. I’m not even a know-it-little! The same goes for us when we stop studying the word of God. It’s possible something triggers a faint memory of something that you’ve learned, but is that really enough to live on? And more times than not, when we go on distant memory, we get a LOT of things wrong. The Bible is our guidebook for Christian living. It is how we learn about the workings of this King of the World. Without reading it, trying to learn from it, and making that consistent in our lives, we’ll forget about the support He gives. We’ll forget about His love for us. We’ll forget about the sacrifice He made in order to make a way for us to live eternity with Him.  We’ll forget altogether and begin to live as if we don’t even know him.

3. We stop living in His world.

We have set up a routine in our home where God is as close to center as we can get. Please don’t see this as a brag, it’s not. I mess up in my attitudes, and I’m a sinner each and every day. But we’ve created a routine where we start our day off with the Word of God. We read it as a family. We then pray, committing our day to God. Our school curriculum is Christian, and it sparks a lot of talk about God through out our day. I do my Bible study at the table while they are working on their school work. We talk about the things we see on tv that may not line up with our walks with God. And we try to teach during those moments about the world around us. We attend Church. We value the lessons we learn there and try to get our kids to worship, and desire more of Him. So for my 10-year-old, it doesn’t seem possible that anyone could FORGET about God. I mean, we see His creation every day. We live in His will (at least we try) each day. We speak to Him, learn about Him, hear from Him on a regular basis.

I’m fully aware that we live life on this earth, and not in heaven. I’m fully aware that life happens and that we aren’t all sheltered in a “Christian” bubble. However, I haven’t suggested anything that God hasn’t asked of us.

Psalm 145:18- The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.

Colossians 4:2- Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Joshua 1:8- Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

2 Timothy 3:16-17– All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. 17 God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.

Psalm 16:11- You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Acts 17:28-  For in him we live and move and exist.

**There are SO many more… you should explore this on your own!**

And done for the sake of doing isn’t what I’m saying either. These aren’t things to check off a check list. Check. Check. Check… and poof! It doesn’t work this way. But to build a relationship you focus on that person. And we do the same with God.

I’m aware that in this world there is chaos. But it’s important that we not forget that He’s always been the King of the World… and even further that He CURRENTLY IS! We must take the time to make this King of the World a part of our lives. If we can live day in and day out remembering who we serve, why we serve Him, and what He has done for us, the chaos may still be there, but the way we manage it will change in drastic ways.

This theme has been in my adult Bible study at church, in my daily personal Bible study, and even at a convention my kids attended this past weekend. So I’m taking notice. What are ways I can REMEMBER!? For me, I’ll be living with the knowledge that God is big enough, loves me, died for me, and continues to bless His children. I’ll be actively pursing Him so I won’t forget. How about you?

I tried to fit you in the walls inside my mind
I try to keep you safely in between the lines
I try to put you in the box that I’ve designed
I try to pull you down so we are eye to eye

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world

Just a whisper of your voice can tame the seas
So who am I to try to take the lead
Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough
When you’re the one who made me from the dust

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world

Oh, you set it all in motion
Every single moment
You brought it all to me
And you’re holding on to me

When did I forget that you’ve always been the king of the world?
I try to take life back right out of the hands of the king of the world
How could I make you so small
When you’re the one who holds it all
When did I forget you’ve always been the king of the world
You will always be the king of the world

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.

Have I Told You About My Table?

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

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

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

Are you ready for some pictures???

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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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Know your Pastor’s Wife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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