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Wife, Mother, Pastor

Pastor Mom Teacher Blessing

Back-to-school time! I’ve enjoyed my summer.  My kids have been home, I took time off from writing and spent time at the beach. However, I’m ready to send my kids back and get into a regular routine again.

This year I’m doing something different. I’m making sure my kids’ teachers feel blessed right off the bat.

Around March last year, I wrote both my school aged kids’ teachers a thank you card. One of which contained a Starbucks card (I still had no clue what my son’s teacher liked). I was blown away by how much this simple act meant to them. A month later, my daughter came down with a cough. Her teacher emailed me and asked if she could give her a cough drop. I said yes not thinking much of it. Later I realized, “She gave my kid one of her own cough drops! With 27 kids in the class, how much more of her own stuff is she giving?”

What does any of this have to do with being in ministry? EVERYTHING.  As Christians, we are called to a higher standard. And as a pastor, you’re held to an even higher standard- whether you like it or not. Though my kids go to a Christian school, and their teachers love Jesus, they as well hold me to a higher standard.  This means they need to know I am on their side.

Being immersed in ministry I cannot be the room mommy, a PTO chairman, or volunteer at every party/function. But I can let my teachers know they’re appreciated.

I chatted with a few teacher friends and here’s what’s going into my teacher bags this year:

Sharpies– all teachers love sharpies.  Who are we kidding? We do too!

Cough Drops– obviously.IMG_0724

Headache Meds– no explanation needed.

Chapstick– for our Arctic Michigan winters.

Chocolate– Duh!

Band-Aids– because if my kids go through a million band-aids, I’m sure what’s given to them in their first-aid kit isn’t enough.

Sea Salted Popcorn– a quick snack to throw in the teacher’s lounge microwave.

Healthy Granola Bars– regular granola bars are filled with sugar; get the good quality healthy stuff (I like KIND bars).

Herbal Tea– not sure if our teachers drink tea, but this will sure be needed after talking all day during the cold winter months.

A Gift Card– maybe to a lunch place by the school?

Tag– I found this cute & free printable at thecraftingchicks.com.

Remember- you’re showing the love of Christ here, don’t go cheap. It’s fine to be skimpy on yourself, but never on those you’re trying to bless. This may seem like a simple act, but look at this as an open door.  “People don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care.” (Theodore Roosevelt) Don’t forget a card letting them know you’re on their team and are praying for them- and do it.

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS

“Lord, with everything going on in my crazy life, please don’t let me forget to pray and bless my kids’ educators. Help me to be a blessing to them all year long. To be an ear to listen to, a light and witness.  If my child’s teacher isn’t a Christian I pray that this year would be the year of salvation for that teacher.  Help them to see Christ through me and my child.  Please open doors of opportunity with them.  In Jesus Name, Amen.”

 

What do you think should go in a teacher blessing bag?

To The Mother Of My Future Son-In-Law

To the mother of my future son-in-law,

Hello!  My name is Rachael and one day you and I will be ‘related’.  No, we might not share Thanksgiving dinners or Christmas mornings together, but we will share other events.  A wedding, grandchildren, birthdays, graduations, etc.  We will be forever linked.

Let’s get to the point-I love my daughter.  Being female myself, having been married 10 years, and consistently studying the state of our culture, I have some concerns.   Concerns for my fellow man and his male offspring.  At this point, I’m all for arranged marriages.

As a parent I ask myself, “What kind of adults do I want my children to become?  What skills/abilities/characteristics do I want them leaving my house with?”

But since I can’t arrange my children’s marriages (or can I?), I ask of you- the mother of my future son-in-law:

    • Please teach good finances– how to be a provider and a giver. One of the number one reasons for divorce is money.   No matter your view, men want to provide and women want to feel secure. Tithing and giving is the best way to learn selflessness. Budgeting teaches responsibility. Get him a checking account at 16 and budget it. Get him a credit card with a $100 limit and show him the importance of making sure this gets paid off. Allow him to fail in this area under your protection instead of the hard way after he has left. Check out Dave Ramsey on money and kids. This $100 allowance is also my favorite.
    • Teach him how to cook- I’m shocked at the number of young people I meet that leave their homes and not know how to cook (or do laundry, dishes, etc.). Eating is a pretty important skill to have. I wish I could just hand this over to my husband some days. He says, “If you’ll teach me I’ll do it.” A sweet gesture babe, but honestly, I’m your wife, not your mom. I don’t want to teach you how to cook. I’m trying to teach all of our children so they won’t live on Ramen Noodles forever. Your future daughter-in-law will thank you, whether she is my daughter or not.
    • Cut the cord and let him take risks-  seriously. Do we really need to be cutting our 5 year old son’s grapes? Cut. The. Cord. Allow him some freedom-with responsibility.  Let him try to figure things out. Budgeting, cooking and laundry are a start, but let’s take it further. I’m not super mom, don’t mistake me for her. However, all my children make their beds and clean their rooms in the morning before school. And it’s the alarm clock that wakes them up, not me. I just remind myself what I want my boys to be like as adults and I start now. This little thing at a young age will help them become individuals, build self-esteem, and know that I am their mother, not their maid- and their wives will be their wives, not their maids. This leads to-
    • A producer, not a consumer- “I love that my husband plays video games,” said no wife EVER.  I’m not against technology, but we need to help our children navigate it, not allow it to take over. What ever happened to making our children go outside and play with sticks? Oh yea, we’re too afraid of them getting poked in the eye or getting kidnapped that we isolate them inside and take away freedom.  I like my TV as much as the next person, but being in front of the screen allows more time for consumption, and no time to create. If we instill fear in our sons and put them in front of a screen to consume, how do we expect them to ever take any risks for Jesus as an adult?
    • Manners and social etiquette- Manners bring favor and gratitude. Manners like “Please” and “Thank you” and “May I have a snack please? Can you pass the ranch please?” Learning to shake hands with proper greetings. When you as the mom ask a question that they not answer you with “What?” but “Yes, mom?”   It takes time but start early. This is up to you. Yes, dad can help in this, but it’s up to you to respect your son as well as expect respect and manners from him so he knows how to treat the women (and future wife) in his life. Get this book for more help.
    • Prayer and devotions- We all want our children to have an amazing relationship with God, but it starts with an example. I struggle to pray and getting time to pray; but my children see me. They see me praying for the car accident we passed by on the road, they see me kneeling at my bed when I’m lost and don’t know what to do. They hear me fighting the enemy for their souls. I pray with each of them every night. They hear me. I’m still learning myself, but just as I tell the students in kid’s ministry, it’s nothing fancy-it’s just talking to God.
    • Give him something to fight for- We like our causes. We like to protest all sorts of things. GMOs, grain-fed anything. But like my boss/lead pastor says, “GMOs didn’t destroy the city of Detroit.” What did? Drugs and alcohol. I don’t see many protesting alcohol, yet it’s one of the leading killers and destroyer of families in America. What about sex trafficking? Abortion? There are causes out there destroying families and cities. My son is only six, but every night he chooses an unreached people group (a group that has yet to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ) and he prays. Even at six my son can fight a battle. As he gets older the battles will get bigger and harder. They will cost him more.
    • Teach him purity- not just abstaining from sex. You can be a virgin and not be pure. Pornography destroys marriages and intimacy. Oral sex is still sex (did a kid’s pastor just say oral sex?). He may ask, “How far is too far?” But that’s the wrong question. The question is not how far is too far, but, “How far can I stay away as to stay pure?” Part of respecting women is to respect boundaries. We are nowhere near perfect, but my husband didn’t even say I love you until there was a ring on my finger, and we didn’t even kiss until, “You may now kiss the bride.” Does that mean that’s what our kids have to do? No, but I guarantee there will be no regrets. This is part of him learning how to be a protector of a family.

There is so much more, but I hope this helps. Please know that I am working tirelessly with my daughter to be a mature, loving, amazing godly woman for your son. I am praying for you as well as your son!

Sincerely,

Your future daughter-in-law’s mother

HOW MANY SATURDAYS DO YOU HAVE LEFT?

IMG_7548Last week at a conference I got to hear one of America’s great heroes, Jeanie Mayo. As she spoke she shared the story of the old man and the 1,000 marbles.  I heard her share this before 13 years early, but this time it hit me differently.
To read the full story click here.

To paraphrase, the story goes like this: a man in his late 70s tells a young workaholic, missing out on his children’s

J's jar.

J’s jar.

lives, how he learned to cherish his Saturdays. At age 55 he figured he only had 20 years left since the average man lives to 75.  He went to the toy store in town and bought 1,000 marbles, took them home and placed them in a jar. Every Saturday he took out a marble from the jar, carried it in his pocket for the day, then threw it away. Twenty years came and he got down to his last marble, praising God for the extras given to him. He lived his life much differently those 20 years then the 55 before.

This gave me an idea. Instead of figuring out the Saturdays I had left in my life, I figured out how many Saturdays I had left with each of my three children.  I calculated that from now to graduation I had 536 left with P, 640 with C, and 848 with my little man J.

C's jar

C’s jar.

I quickly went to eBay and ordered 2,000 marbles for $30. I counted them all out and placed them in jars I bought from Michael’s. About a $45 investment.  They now sit on my kitchen counter as a visual reminder of the time I have left with each child. I’m literally watching my time with them decrease.

You have about 936 Saturdays with each child (52 Saturdays x 18 years). I figured mine for each child up to the day they graduate.  Depending on their birthday, you may have more Saturdays then others. And if you’re one of those moms who has a bunch of babies and toddlers, ignore this post.  Seriously. Just sleep until they’re all five, then think about their Saturdays.  Don’t put that pressure on yourself.

P's jar.

P’s jar

It’s easy for us women to put ministry first.  We put family activities aside because someone has a crisis.  The phone rings we answer it, we give to those who suck the life out of us.  Instead of leaving the leftovers for our husbands and children, remember how many Saturdays we have left.  Do we fill them with sleeping in, TV, and more church activities?  Or hot chocolate dates, picnics, Ann of Green Gables, and family dinners?

I only have so many Saturdays left.  I’m planning on doing a better job with those then the past 428, 310, and 84.

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS
“Lord I thank you for the short time you have given me on this planet.  I thank you for my family.  Please help me to focus on what matters most.  Help me to make sure I take more advantage of the time I have with my kids and focus on making eternal memories with them.  Give me ideas, provisions and the creativity to do so.  Amen.”

Share with me some ways you, as a minister, make your time with your kids special.

Dear Christians, STOP THE VACCINE WAR.

I interrupt your Facebook reading to bring you an important message- stop. Whether you are for or against vaccinations – STOP.
I will not tell you what I do or don’t do- that is neither here or there. Quite frankly, I don’t want to know your choice nor am I up for a debate- because it’s just that: your choice. My kids are not going to hell either way; but sometimes that’s where we seem to put vaccines- on the hell or heaven pedestal.

In the book of Acts chapter one, Jesus is excitingly (well, in my mind) telling His disciples about the gift He is about to bless them with that will help them share the gospel: the Holy Spirit. In the process of sharing, the disciples almost ignore the fact they are getting a gift and ask,

“Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight.

I can almost see Jesus’ agitation as He is trying to give them their new marching orders hypodermic-syringe-and-needle_2818406[1]and their minds are somewhere else.  He quickly answers them, and moves back to His topic- the Mission.  They were so focused on their oppression from the Romans that they had forgotten about the oppression of sin others were living under.

Is that what we’ve done?  Focused so much on our ‘oppression’ (whether we should or shouldn’t vaccinate) that we have forgotten the oppression of others? I know I have.

Why do I highly dislike this subject? Because I see it dividing the Body of Christ. The bible says that unbelievers will know us by the love we show for one another (John 13:35), but it seems instead we are tearing each other down. We are supposed to be an army. An army of love, yet we are dividing ourselves in the name of shots. Shots are not a war I want to die fighting for. I want to die fighting for the orphans, the widows and the poor. I want to die for the mission.

Let’s focus on our mission. What’s our mission? THE GREAT COMMISSION. Instead of us advocating for or against vaccines lets advocate for souls. Three billion people have yet to hear about Jesus. There are women and children who are being sold into sexual slavery every day, religions that abuse themselves so their ‘god’ can forgive them having no idea someone was already abused so they could be forgiven. There are men strapping bombs to themselves to ‘earn’ Allah’s love- and here we sit, in our comfy homes, good food and advocate for or against shots.
I’ve prayed about my decision – a lot. With so many facts and figures coming from both angles, do what’s best- pray. If you don’t agree with my decision then pray for me, one of us will change. As for now- let’s lay our differences aside, unify together and save religious-statuary-1_2109181[1]souls. The Great Commission is this:

“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” Mark 16:15

So I leave you with this- STOP. Get focused on our mission. Advocate for what will really matter once we enter eternity. If I showed love to the least of these and if I won souls in the name of Jesus.

You may return to your regular Facebook viewing.

HOW DO YOU DO IT ALL?- Part 1: FOOD

httpwww.someecards.com“How do you do it all?”

I laugh when people ask me this question. I smile and give them all the same answer- I don’t. My house is trashed and the crockpot is my best friend.

My boss (our lead pastor) gave the rest of us pastors the day off today. I was super excited to pray, read a book and work on my upcoming sermon. But what did I do? Grocery shopped and cooked until it was time to pick up the kids from school. Now of course this isn’t bad, it was actually therapeutic to be able to play catch-up; but I still find it a struggle balancing everything. When I asked some of my lady friend pastors what their biggest struggles are as a female pastor, the biggest answer was- balancing ministry and family.

Can I be honest with you? I can’t stand the Titus 2 woman. It says to me, “Cooking and cleaning.” My two least favorite words. So whether I like it or not, part of being a wife and mother is helping take care of my home- and that includes feeding those in my house that call me ‘mom’. Food is a big part of our lives and seems to often fall on our shoulders as the wife so that is where we will begin our series.

Just like you, I’m still learning. I’m no expert, but my desire is for us to come along side each other to help and encourage. As one who may look like she does it all (but really doesn’t) here are a few things that have helped me.


* Shop once a month for all the big items and prepare freezer meals. This has saved my children from starving. It also saves on time, mess and money. I pull something out of the freezer in the morning, and pop it in the oven when we get home.

* Put a bowl of fruit out on the table. Whenever my growing, always ‘starving’ son says he’s hungry I point him to the table. It’s quick, accessible and healthy (and no work for me).

* This bowl is also the ‘before bedtime snack.’ If they say they’re hungry before bed, it’s the fruit bowl or nothing.

* Do crockpot meals on nights when you will be at the church like Wednesday Family Nights or night services.

* Budget in pizza. Once a week or once a month, whatever you do it will bring sanity.

* Make Sunday night soup night. Make a double batch and snack on it all week, especially those nights you forget to pull something out of the freezer.

* Make the same thing throughout the month. Do we really need to have something different every night of the month? Asians eat rice and fish everyday, it won’t kill our families to eat pot roast twice a month.

*On that note, make the same thing every month. This makes shopping a synch. Sure we switch things up depending on the season, but don’t stress out over making something different all the time.

* Keep healthy canned soup on hand. Is is fantastic for nights where I’ve had a long day and don’t want to cook. Keep all natural bread rolls in the freezer and serve with the hot soup.

* Keep canned soup at the church too. Who hasn’t had an unplanned stay with the kids at the office?

* Keep a box of cake or brownie mix in the pantry for those times you end up getting volunteered to make something for your second grader’s class. (I actually don’t do this because I will find any excuse to eat brownies)

* Delegate to your hubby and kids (if they’re only enough). I’ve told my husband, thou he can’t cook, his night is Saturday. It gives me a break and shares the responsibility with him.

* ALWAYS eat dinner together. Lots of things fall through the cracks in our busy lives, don’t let this be one of them. Try your hardest to have dinner together as much as possible. We’ve had many a meal around a pre-school table in the church nursery, even if it was just pizza.

These are just a few things that make my life as a wife, mother and pastor a little more balanced. I’ll post at a later date tips that have helped in my marriage, kids and house. Please comment below what you do. I love learning from others!

TEN MINUTE COMMANDMENTS- Struggling to Pray for Your Kids?

stressed-out-mom7[1]A revelation hit me the other day.  As a new again mother, I have forgotten how hard it is to get anything done.  Caleb and Jayce are four years apart.  It only took four years to forget what it’s like to have a baby around.  It actually took me about 20 minutes just to type these first two sentences, between trying to get Jayce back to sleep and getting myself a cup of tea (totally over the whole ‘no caffeine’ thing, just dilute the milk with some formula and we’re good).  Anyway, a revelation hit me.  So many moms are struggling with just getting some time to pray, worship and have quite time with the Lord.  It’s hard, and I’m a pastor!  But alas, I’m struggling just like every other mother out there.

Not only do I struggle because I’m a mom, but I struggle because I’m in ministry.  Sounds odd considering I’m paid to pray, but with so much work involved with ministry I end up putting my tasks before my prayer time.  And when I do pray, I find myself praying more for the congregation I serve than my own family- not cool. My family comes first and I struggle at times to make sure they take priority.  Also, I’m not a natural intercessor.  I find it a struggle to pray basic prayers, so I often turn to the scriptures for ideas- not a bad problem.  

One night while walking back and forth with my bundle of joy (oh let’s be real, he’s my bundle of fuss), I looked up at the Ten Commandments I had plastered on my wall a few months prior to him being born (Exodus 20). I thought, “Hello?!”  I looked at each Commandment and prayed over Jayce as I held him. As I walked around my living room, I prayed that he would love God more than anyone and anything else.  I prayed all the way to number ten; that he would not be jealous of anyone, that he would be content with what he has in life and desire to live a simple life as to give more of his time and provisions to the Kingdom.

Praying the Top Ten covered all the basics and more; from respecting God and other authorities, to his purity, to his integrity.  Sometimes as moms we are expecting our devotions to be the same as they were BC (before children).  During our BC years we could spend time in worship without someone pulling on our shirt, without being interrupted, or having a child play the question game as you try to write your blog!  The bible says to pray without ceasing- pray all the time. It doesn’t say, “You must spend 3 hours in complete silence with no interruptions to talk to me.”  Why?  Because God knew that would be impossible for parents.  God is so GOOD!

TODAY’S CHALLENGE

Don’t get me wrong, we need those times to escape and lock ourselves in the bathroom in order to have peace (I do this with a fist full of brownies).  We need those times to just break away and go for a prayer walk, to have an extended period of time alone with God.  However, that will not happen every day.  Pray while you are cooking.  Pray in the spirit while in the shower.  Turn on your Bible App in the car and just listen to God’s Word as you drive.  Believe me; God isn’t mad at you because you haven’t “done your devotions”.  He longs to spend time with you; you just do it in a different way now.

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS

“Lord, I pray you would help us make you a priority in our daily lives.  Help us also to put our families above our congregations.  With so many hurts, problems, board decisions, budget issues (or lack of), it is so easy to place them above the ones in our own homes.  I ask that you would give us wisdom on how to better prioritize our time.  Prompt our minds when we could be praying during our simplest takes.  Help us, and open doors for us, to have extended alone time with you. Thank you for your grace and goodness in this area. In Jesus name, AMEN.”

 

For my non-intercessor easy friends- here is a basic outline that I hope helps.

  • Not having any Gods before the Lord and not having any idols:
    • I prayed that God would be #1 in my babies’ lives.  No boy/girlfriend, spouse, children, no amount of money, false religions-ANYTHING, would take first place.
    • Their lives would be ones that live to Glorify God above anything.

 

  • Respecting God’s name:
    • Not using His name as a swearword, but also having a healthy fear of the Lord.
    • They would respect His name and reputation.

 

  • Remembering the Sabbath:
    • Prov. 10:4- I pray against the spirit of laziness and they would be extremely hard workers.
    • Though I want them to be hard workers, they would not be workaholics (like myself) and spoke refreshing and rest- no burnout.

 

  • Honoring parents:
    • Pray they would not only honor us as parents, but ALL authority.  Teachers, pastors, bosses, etc.
    • Eph. 6:4-I pray we would not exasperate our children, praying that God would help us as parents not to hinder our child’s salvation.

 

  • A loving, compassionate heart:
    • Seeing God’s creations through His eyes and not their own.
    • They would be slow to anger and offense which leads to bitterness and then hate.

 

  • Giving hands instead of taking hands:
    • For honest children full of integrity and character.
    • I also like praying Eph. 4:28- that they wouldn’t steal but would use their hands for work and would be generous givers.  Especially givers to the Great Commission.

 

  • Living a pure life- before and after marriage:
    • Protection over their body, eyes, mind and heart- for them and their future spouse.
    • Would flee temptations such as pornography, romance novels, etc.
    • Them, and their spouse would only have eyes for each other.
    • Would be thankful in their marriage no matter what, it can always be worse!

 

  • A honest mouth:
    • Having mouths that speak truth no matter what the cost.
    • The inability to speak lies, and if so will be caught every time.
    • Eph. 4:29- Mouths that do not speak anything unwholesome, but only what builds others up.

 

  • A thankful, grateful heart:
    • What a struggle in our culture!  Praying against materialism.
    • To live a simple, minimal life in order to give more to the Kingdom.
    • To be humble, thankful, grateful for anything and everything they have.
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