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Wife, Mother, Pastor

I’m HearingVoices

Voices. Everywhere.

I know you hear them too.

Turn on the TV to another talking head telling you their opinion about something or someone.  Login to Facebook to another blog about the dangers of donuts, why this politician is the Antichrist, why we’re good moms (even though they don’t know us), or why the Titanic is a conspiracy.

Voices saying why we need a pet (a rescue pet of course) because it lowers blood pressure. You also have that book idea you have been sitting on for years and all you need to do is sacrifice some more sleep so you can write just a page a night.  You also need to budget, create more wealth, run 5 miles a day, take time for your hobbies, take care of yourself- but not too much or you’ll become vain.  There’s another romance movie telling you your husband isn’t good enough, another magazine article reminding you of your son’s inabilities, and another co-worker traipsing through Europe.  More voices telling me what I don’t have and how my life doesn’t measure up.  And don’t forget to pray that hour a day along with bible reading, scripture memorization, and worship.  Oh, and are you resting?

Don’t get me wrong, most of these things are not bad. However, what I have discovered over the years is that I have allowed way too many voices into my head and in turn have put too much pressure upon myself.  All this pressure has made me self-conscious and too busy.

In January, our church did a 40 day corporate fast.  My fast?  You guessed it, VOICES.  After 8 am I shut off the car radio with no music or talk radio.  I cut back on my social media supply because all I heard all day long were the voices, and it was pushing out the main voice I needed to hear: God’s.

That forty days was one of the best prayer times I have ever had.  I drew closer to God and I felt I was hearing His voice more than anyone else’s.  However, I have gotten back into the rat race of busyness and listening to everyone else.   Here are some steps I am taking to de-clutter my brain so I may hear what God wants me to do and not what everyone else thinks I should be doing.

  • SOCIAL MEDIA. Not having Facebook in this day in age is like being a missionary to another country without knowing the language- it’s just how our culture communicates. However, you might need to cut back.  I went through my ‘likes’ and ‘unliked’ a bunch of pages that were just not necessary in my life. I also removed the app from my phone.  Having an app is way too easy to get into other people’s drama.  This way if I really need to get on, I’ll do it the long way.  Also, turn off all app notifications.  Is it necessary to know every time Kohl’s is having a sale?
  • RADIO AND TV: Just turn it off.  If you want to make sure you are up and up on the news, watch it in the morning and then turn it off. If you are like me I blast AM radio every time I’m in the car, and really, it’s just more voices.
  • SUBSCRIPTIONS: Clean out your subscriptions whether it is your e-mail list or your magazine list. Do you need one more magazine reminding you of the nice house you do not have? Do you really have time to read that blog that comes into your email every week or day?
  • KEEP YOUR FOCUS: I have not only cleaned out my email list of articles to now just areas I’m focusing on, but my books as well. Sure, that Andy Stanley book looks really awesome, but does it pertain to my life right now? I really could learn something from him, he’s awesome.  However, right now I’m not a senior pastor trying to rear my congregation.  My focus is children and families, so are my book choices reflecting this?
  • A SELECT FEW: Everyone has an opinion, and we need to hear those opinions in our line of work. Praise is awesome, but you can only grow to the amount of criticism you can handle. However, this does not mean that all criticism is from the Lord. If you don’t agree with the constructive criticism then take it to prayer and your select few that you trust to speak into your life.  You may be able to understand a situation better with your ‘wise counsel’.

PRAY WITH ME, SISTERS

“Dear Lord, forgive me where I have placed other voices above yours.  I ask God that you would show me areas in my life I need to de-clutter in order to make more room for you and to actually live my life. Show me the areas of busyness I need to move away from to not be so consumed by ‘stuff’ but so I can be more consumed by you.  In Jesus Name, AMEN.”

What are you doing right now to clear out some of the voices cluttering your brain?  I’d love to hear them!

Why am I Credentialed?

“What am I credentialed for?”

Have you ever asked yourself this question in the midst of motherhood?

I had the privilege to preach the Mother’s Day service this month.  It was called Feminine Empowerment-the difference between feminine and feminism. I had been so nervous for this weekend. After the three services were done, I knew God had shown up. Though I felt like it was completely unorganized and jumbled, I still felt God’s anointing.  I had many ladies afterwards share that it was one of the best Mother’s Day services they’d ever been to.

I had to ask myself, what does this all mean?  I know that I’m in this place today for a purpose.  Yes, I get to have a career and that’s awesome.  I get to preach now and then, I get to lead, I get to earn money for our family.  However, it is still hard at times because I want to move forward, I want to do bigger things.  I must remind myself that the mommying I am doing is also very big.  It doesn’t feel like it today as I see my house a mess after just cleaning it yesterday.  It doesn’t feel like it since my almost four-year-old son is still not potty trained.  And as I write this my boys are fighting in the background over Legos.

The Dixie Chicks song, Cowboy Take Me Away keeps playing in my head.  I just want to be swept away on an adventure. But what the Dixie Chicks song doesn’t tell you is that when you get swept away by your cowboy, life still happens. Dishes need to be done, laundry piles up, kids crawl all over you and it seems there isn’t any quiet.

So again, as I look back on the weekend, and in the midst of all the ladies’ responses, I have to ask myself, “What does this all mean?”  I’m where I am supposed be now, but with the responses, with the anointing, I just wonder what the future holds.

Lately I feel as if God is telling me He wants me to dream.  I’m scared to dream.  He has reminded me over and over the vision he gave me when I was 20 in a little church service in Palenbang, Indonesia.  In the vision, I was on a big black stage, microphone in hand, preaching.  This excites me, but I hold back just in case it’s not what I think it is.

“Do you put a Christmas wreath on your door in July?” 

This was a questioned posed to a Facebook friend of mine, Ruthie when she was like you and me.  A young mom, raising her babies, knowing she had a call to ministry on her life, credentialed, filling the pulpit once in awhile, yet watching others around her live out the dream she had.

“No, that would look really stupid,”  she said.

“It’s so important to recognize what is best for each season in our lives. Christmas wreaths in July just don’t work because they’re out of their season. They make everything just a little bit uncomfortable.  When they’re in season, they’re beautiful, but when they’re out of season it just feels a little bit off  . . . Christmas wreaths have to wait their turn.  And when it is their turn they are going to make everything beautiful. But there are certain times in the life of a Christmas wreath where it gets put away into a box in a dark closet when it is not doing and shining for what it was meant for.”

Ruthie, now with grown babies, gets to live her ministry dreams. All while enjoying grandbabies- you know, the reward God gives you for not killing your own kids (so I’ve heard).

Mother’s Day makes me think that I was created for more than just preaching once or twice a year.  But for now, I’m where I’m supposed to be.  Cuddling my kids, sweeping up Legos and trying not to swear- because they’ll all be gone one day. I’m where I’m supposed to be doing ministry “part-time”, watching and encouraging others to live out their dreams, filling a pulpit a couple times a year- because one day the house will be quiet, and I will have time to make those dreams into reality.

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS

“Lord, I understand there are seasons and it won’t always be this way.  There won’t always be diapers and hormonal teenagers.  I know that one day the Christmas wreath will be taken out of the closet and placed on the door in its due season. Open those doors of opportunity for me now to grow in you and in my gifting.  Help me where I feel discouraged in my season, and help fill those gaps. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

Love you, ladies!

The Anti-Feminist Loving the Feminist

Before you stone me for saying I’m not a feminist . . .

Unless you’ve been living in a hole, there have been a lot of protests in the news lately.  Mainly focused on the Million Women’s March (I think . . .).  I roll my eyes because we as American women have so many rights it’s crazy.  I listen to women yelling cuss words and think, “Is this how we get what we want anymore?  Temper tantrums?”  I listened to Madonna share that these protests were about love, then a few minutes later tell those that don’t agree, “F*** you!”

At first I was angry.  How hypocritical . . .

But then I was saddened as I remembered Jesus’ words: They are blind.  They have no idea how deceived they are. I can’t expect them to understand they’re stepping on our feet when they can’t see. These women are screaming for love but are so blinded by Satan’s deception and bitterness that they don’t know what love really is or what it looks like.

We as Christians know Jesus is the one who gives us our rights and validation, not the government, not man.  He approached the woman at the well that no one else would talk to, saved a woman from stoning, and healed women that no one would touch.  Women were the ones who discovered His empty grave and were the first to spread the Gospel.

In God’s image He made us male and female.  When Adam and Eve were created, He said it was VERY good because we’re better together.

As I prayed about my small voice in this huge world, I wondered if I should voice anything.  My opinions, facts, etc. This is between you and the Lord, but for me at this moment, Silence is Golden.  I feel that if this generation of protesters want love, that is what they should get. Could you imagine a surge of evangelicals loving on those that are lost? Oh the confusion that would happen!  It would be amazing to see their faces when confronted with those bestowing kindness and listening ears.

I am still praying as to how to accomplish this, but one thing is for certain- my opinion is white noise.  My memes will only cause anger and harden hearts towards the Gospel.  My facts will not change anyone’s mind, just make them more bitter.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud  or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.  It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.  Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” 

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Love is what will enhance the Kingdom.  Love is what will change the hearts of men (and women).

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS:

“Lord, thank you for making me a woman.  You are the one who opens doors for me. It is because of YOU I have freedom and validation.  I pray that through all the noise of the media, politics, fake news, and social media that you will show me how to truly love people.  Help me to stand up for truth, but show kindness to my fellow men and women, because it’s your kindness that leads us to repentance. Use me in a mighty way this season in our country’s history.  And help me to keep praying for those that are serving the White House, whether I agree with them or not. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

I’d love your opinion and ideas.  How do you think we should show love to these women?

Recommended Reading for 2017

As we say goodbye to 2016 (and George Michael, Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds . . .) it is at this time we start to ponder the following year.  Have you thought about how you will grow in 2017?  One of my biggest growth spurts comes from books. Books help us become more well rounded, give us understanding and expand our knowledge in different areas of ministry. Here are some that I highly recommend for your 2017 reading list:

 

EPIDEMIC- How Teen Sex is Killing Our Kids: An older book that is relevant in our day.  Dr. Meg Meeker lays out the dangers of teen sex and how to appropriately help our kids navigate through our sex driven culture.

GOOD PICTURE BAD PICTURES- Every parent, pastor, and child need to read this.  A book made for children as young as 7 to help them understand what pornography is and why it is dangerous.

THE FLIPSIDE OF FEMINISM- What Conservative Women Know and Men Can’t Say: One of the best books I’ve ever read.  I knew I wasn’t a feminist, but I couldn’t articulate why.  These ladies give you the scoop on feminist history and how it has damaged our society today.

HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE-  Because who doesn’t want to be better with people while working in ministry?  Enough said.

WHAT HE MUST BE IF HE WANTS TO MARRY MY DAUGHTER- A great book that helps parents on the importance of marriage in our society as well has the importance of a parent’s role.

HOW TO BEAT THE COLLEGE DEBT TRAP- Getting a Degree without Going Broke:  This book by Alex Chediak, is written for teens about ready to embark on the road to college.  However, this is a must read for every pastor and parent.  It is loaded with information high schools, colleges, and banks are not telling you.

ITS YOUR KID NOT A GERBIL- Creating a Happier and Less-Stressed Home:  Our lives are way too busy.  God did not design our lives to be this crazy.  We have no time for Him, and we certainly have no time with our family. Psychologist Dr. Kevin Leman does it again with his last born of the family humor, helping us learn to slow our kids down.

THE PRICE OF PRIVILEGE-  This is a great book explaining the damage affluence has done to our children and culture.  Affluence is not bad, it only becomes bad when do not glorify our God with our abundance.

WITHOUT RIVAL- Lisa Bevere knows women well.  Here she digs right into the roots of our insecurities and how we can see ourselves as God sees us.

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS:

“Lord, I thank you for growth.  I thank you ahead of time for the growth that will happen in me in 2017.  Show me areas of my life that I can best help my spouse, my children, and my ministry.  In Jesus Name, AMEN.”

URGENT! Don’t Stop Praying!

The energy I saw the days coming up to the election was unbelievable. I watched as Governor Mike Pence, evangelist Franklin Graham and others were sending urgency to the Christians around the world to pray. Everywhere I turned it seemed more people were fasting and getting down on their knees before God, crying out for mercy.

I was one of them.

All throughout the election coverage I found myself speaking in the spirit because I didn’t have the mental energy to spout anymore of my own words.

What was happening?

We were worried.  We were worried about the sanctity of life. We worried about us as parents having our rights taken away on how we raise our children, about our public schools, the list goes on. However, no matter your opinion on our new president elect, you should still be worried. Why? I’m reminded of when Abraham Lincoln quoted Jesus during the time of the Civil War:

“”A house divided against itself cannot stand.” I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing, or all the other.”

Lincoln was right. Our country was completely divided between the north and south and he knew it could not stay that way and did everything he could to bring unity.

As I watched the news Tuesday night and into the morning, it brought to light more than ever how divided we are. We are incredibly similar in division with our 1860s ancestors.  What pains me even more than our country being divided, is our Christians divided. More than I’ve ever seen.  We as Christians are lashing out at each other when the real enemy is Satan. We do not fight against flesh and blood but against the evil forces of this dark world.  Don’t lose focus on who our true enemy is.  And furthermore, to quote my good friend Denise Glowicki, “The church has an opportunity to shine in this dark world, but I’m seeing many trading their witness for damaging opinions. Please pray before you post.”

I had two predictions going in and out of this election. One, candidate X we didn’t want would win. We would all be discouraged and depressed, and would stop praying.  Second, candidate X that we wanted would win. We would then wipe the sweat from our brow and say, “Few! We did it.” And would stop praying.

This is what I have to say:  DON’T. STOP. PRAYING.

You know what’s going to make America great again? Christians who pray.  You know what’s going to make America great again? The church being sanctified, turning away from our own corruption and obeying God.  You know what’s going to make America great again? Christians unifying and standing up for truth.

What would happen if all Christians obeyed God? MIRACLES.

Please keep praying and fasting with the same amount of urgency we did the days up to the election.  Pray:

  • Revival
  • Unity
  • Sanctification in the church
  • The mind and wisdom of Christ for our new leaders
  • The next cabinet and Supreme Court justice to be full gospel believers
  • The eyes of unbelievers to be open
  • That we would raise up a generation of future adults not children
  • That we we continue to care about the Great Commission

PRAY WITH ME:
“Lord, I thank you for a president elect that wants to protect life and put a pro-life judge on the Supreme Court. Thank you for a Vice President elect that is not afraid to announce that he is a Christian. However, we are a nation divided. A house divided against itself cannot stand.  Please have mercy on our country.  I repent on behalf of our nation for turning away from you.  I repent and ask that our churches be sanctified.  I pray that the hearts of the fathers would turn back to their children and the children back to their fathers.  Show us how to continue to pray from this point on.  In Jesus Name, AMEN.”

 

I normally don’t ask for you to share my posts.  Most bloggers do, and that’s not wrong, I’m just weird like that.  But I’m asking you to share to help others realize the urgency of continued prayer.  Thank you!

HOW TO KEEP YOUR PASTOR BOSS

Yes, I said keep your boss. Lately I’ve noticed quite a few articles tilted, “How to keep your employees.” Or “How to Keep Your Volunteers.” These are good articles and are important qualities for those of us in leadership. However, in our entitled society we are awful supporters. A society that treats our bosses with disrespect, gossip behind their backs and when asked why we quit the answer is, “My boss was mean.”

In 1 Samuel 14, we see Jonathan’s armor-bearer right by his side giving him support in attacking the Philistines. The Israelites were discouraged, outnumbered and not properly armed (except Jonathan and Saul). Jonathan went to the Philistine outpost and told his armor-bearer, “Come, let’s go over to the outpost . . . Perhaps the Lord will work on our behalf …”

His armor-bearer could have turned back.  He could have told Jonathan he was crazy.  But he didn’t. To this request his armor-bearer said he would do what Jonathan had in mind and declared, “I will be with you heart and soul.”
Jonathan and his armor-bearer alone killed twenty Philistines in that attack.  He served along side Jonathan and helped him in victory.

If you’re a staff pastor then your lead pastor is obviously your boss. Lead pastors do need to know how to lead and train you, but we are responsible for ourselves and should be striving to be good armor-bearers. Our job as armor-bearers is to make our boss’s job easier, not harder.

I probably have the best pastor boss in the world. Though we’ve had conflict, God has used him to help mold and shape me.  They are not called to battle alone, and we were not called to be on the sidelines. We are called to help our leaders to victory.

Here’s how we can honor and bless our boss today:

BE THANKFUL- The bible says we are to not complain so we can shine like stars (Phil 2:14-15). When we are thankful and grateful our hearts begin to soften and we begin to change. This in turn not only helps our boss, but helps us be a witness to unbelievers.

LISTEN- People come to your boss all the time wanting advice or looking to get their problems solved. As we are all called to share ‘one another’s burdens’ I have to wonder who is sharing his/hers. If they begin to share with you, just listen. I learned a long time ago in ministry that not everyone wants advice. They just need to clear their heads by talking. Be that good listener, not that good talker.  When was the last time you sincerely asked how they were doing?

CUT OFF GOSSIP- Depending on what church you attend and the demographic, your pastor boss may get gossiped about. A LOT. The last thing he/she needs is their staff condoning it. One, gossip is a sin and two, it brings him/her dishonor. If you catch wind of it, or if someone wants to come to you with a problem about them, cut off the gossip and direct them right back the boss him/herself. That’s who they need to be having the conversation with, not you.

SHOW APPRECIATION- This is a rule I use with those who work underneath of me as well. We as humans need encouragement and affirmation, and we as humans should be showing it. Is their birthday coming up? Anyone can write a last minute FB post, send them an actual card. You know their favorite candy or fancy coffee? Buy it for them. Or send them a plain thank you note for how they are teaching and growing you.

PRAY FOR THEM- How often are you praying for your pastor boss and their family? We know there is power in prayer. Not only do they need it, but if we have issues with them it will soften our hearts and get us to where we need to be too.

We are not called to sit on the sidelines, but to help our boss fight the good fight that leads to victory.  Remember- you maybe that boss someday.

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS
“Lord, I thank you for my boss. I thank you that I get to be their armor-bearer. Show me how I can best listen, show appreciation and pray for my authority. Help me to bring respect and honor to them and to make their job easier. Lead them into victory. In Jesus name, Amen.”

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