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Wife, Mother, Pastor

To All My Christmas Haters

Do you want to know a secret? I hate Christmas baking with my kids.  Well, hate is a strong word.  Maybe strongly dislike would be better.  So you know what?

We don’t bake.

For real.

I don’t make cookies, bread, candy or anything with my kids. Am I depriving them of this wonderful childhood memory every year? Maybe. But they have a sane mom. To tell you the truth, last year after the kids went to bed I made, cut out, decorated, and ate sugar cookies all by myself. It was awesome! Therapeutic actually. BUT, I packaged up half the batch, some frosting and sent them off to Grandma’s so the kids got a ‘cookie experience.’

My point? We stress out over little things at Christmas and it needs to stop.  We’re so busy doing ‘Christmasie things’ that we don’t even enjoy the season. Not only that, but Christmas is just a plain busy time for pastors/ministry workers. We’re putting together kids programs, Christmas Eve services, benevolence activities, and feeding programs. There is a lot going on, and our family suffers.

The goal is to enjoy yourself and your family this season in the midst of all that has to get done. Here are a few things you, my Christmas Hater, can do now, during and after Christmas that will help with stress.

RIGHT NOW
Sit and write down all your Christmas stressors. Ask yourself what can you do without this year to lighten your load.
Draw names. Why buy something for all your co-workers or all your siblings? Draw names to buy one gift verses five.
Get shopping done before December. I know, that sounds stressful itself, but trust me: not having to go through the chaos of the mall in December is priceless.

DURING
Shop online. Another time and money saving way to go (though not as fun as actually shopping).
Simple gift wrapping.  This maybe fun, but only do the fancy wrapping job if it’s fun for you. Don’t stress yourself out over Pinterest paper and homemade tags.
Elf on the Shelf. Seriously? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Have lots of sex with your husband. Sex is clinically proven to relieve stress.  Plus, Paul told us that we should be doing it often anyway.  So when in doubt, pull the Bible card (“But Paul said!”).
Make Christmas Day about your immediate family.  If you’re worried about grandmas and grandpas then have them come to YOUR house.  Make this the one day you stay home.

FOR NEXT YEAR
Shop the sales the day after Christmas. Don’t ever pay full price for paper and tags. Get it now for next year.
Every month pick up a gift card. Target, Panera Bread, Starbucks. Any place that’s popular. At Christmas time there is always someone we forget to buy for. A teacher, coach, new co-worker, etc. Having those extra gift cards on hand will save time and stress.
Plan a vacation. Depending on you schedule, Christmas vacation might be the perfect time to get away.  We have made many a vacation the Christmas present under the tree, and has been wonderful for our family.

Remember. Jesus didn’t come down for fancy wrapping paper or frosted cookies. Those things are fun, but as we reflect on His birth let’s put into perspective why we are doing what we’re doing.

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS
“Thank you Lord for the birth of your son.  Thank you for this time of year to be able to reflect on the gift you gave us.  Help us and our families to treasure this time.  That we would slow down and make wonderful memories.  Show me the best way to do this, Lord. 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!

MOMMY WARS- My Theory

As I saw all the nasty comments and opinions on a child in a gorilla pen, all I could think was, “That would’ve been my son.”

As I watched all the news postings of a child eaten by an alligator, all I could think was, “That could’ve been mine son.”

Every time I see parents get mad at another mom who accidently locked their child in a car, I think, “Yep.  Been there.”

Mommy Wars.  A term not new to our ears.  But why?  As Christians we know the root of it has to do with women’s identity in Christ. Nonbelievers have no clue what this even means.  We, as ministers understand that moms (and women in general) compare themselves with other women constantly. But insecurities have been around since Eve, so why now? If a child in the 50s or 60s went missing, our first thought was never, “Where were you, parent?”  Our thought was to help.  We were on their team.  Now, moms are rivals.

My ‘mommy war’ theory.  One:

We don’t have that many kids anymore.  Back when it wasn’t unusual for a parent to have 6-14 kids, you weren’t concerned about how everyone else was raising their kids because you were too busy trying to keep your army in line.  With families having only one or two kids (not judging, I only have three) we have more time (though it doesn’t feel like it) to have our thoughts wander upon other moms who look like they have it all together. I like a meme I saw on Facebook.  It went something like this, “Mother Theresa didn’t worry about the size of her thighs.  She had stuff to do.”  Maybe we should make one that says, “My great-grandmother didn’t worry about the As her children didn’t get.  She had stuff to do.”

Someecards.comWhen we have fewer children, we don’t realize how many differences there are in each child.  After having three, I realized how little I don’t know.  I also know my first two are complete opposites, but how is it with a third child you can have three opposites?  I wouldn’t know that unless I hadn’t had the third baby. On that note, I have no desire for another.  I don’t think I could handle a fourth personality.

Two:

We are the most affluent, thus, materialistic generation- EVER.   I’m not against money.  Money is what funds the Kingdom.  It’s what puts a roof over our heads and food in our stomach.  But we are not to serve two masters.

We say our culture is full of poor, but poverty is relative. Never in history have the poor in the U.S. had cable TV, multiple cars, free education, and morbid obesity.  When I walk into a single parent home (some not all, no stone throwing here) I see several gaming systems as well as a wall of games.  How can the poor afford all of these luxuries?  Because for most, poverty is a mindset.  More stuff I have, the better I feel compared to everyone else.

With our drive for more and bigger- more cars, bigger houses, bigger vacations, more stuff- we’ve lost our focus. When we use our money for Kingdom purposes, we become outward focused. When our focus is to get more and bigger, we become inward focused.  Inward focus causes more comparison, thus-more mommy wars.

Since we are not struggling to get by like our Great Depression relatives, our focus and energy goes towards things that have nothing to do with our salvation- like comparing children.  Back then they were worried if they were even going to eat, now we worry if something has GMOs.

The less kids a society has the more we compare, the more money our society has, the more we compare.  Again, I’m not against less kids and more money- as long as our focus is in the right place.

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS

“God, I thank you for how you have blessed me and my family.  I thank you for giving me insight into the lives of women and parents in our culture.  Please help me to keep my focus as I help others keep their focus.  Help me to  seek first the Kingdom, always.  In Jesus Name, AMEN.”

A Pastor in Her Thirties

When I embarked on the big 3-0 I thought I’d feel like a grown up. Forget the fact that I’d traveled the world,  was married, owned my home, had kids, and was on a pastoral career path. Still, at 29 I felt I wasn’t yet a ‘woman’.

“Once I hit thirty, I thought, “I will finally feel like a grown-up.”

But what did I find the years after 30? I felt there was more confusion than before. For crying out loud, my face breaks out like I’m fifteen and my hair is turning white like I’m fifty-five. What’s up with that? I’m in the inbetween stage. Instead of feeling like an adult and that I can relate more to those that are older and younger, it’s as if all those in their forties and fifties are saying, “Oh, you’re so cute. You know nothing of life (or ministry).” And those in their teens and twenties are saying, “What do you know? You’re not relevant. You’re OLD!”FullSizeRender

I feel as if I’m too old to minister to the young, but not old enough to minister to the ‘middle aged.’

I felt the Holy Spirit remind me of the verse, 1 Timothy 4:12
“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.”

It’s weird, because I always think of that verse for children and teens, not a pastor in her thirties. Then it dawned on me, Paul was writing to a pastor. How old was Timothy? When Timothy joined Paul in the book of Acts, some theologians believe he was somewhere between 16-20, 20 being the more believable age- their age of adulthood.  Paul wrote the first pastoral letter to Timothy 14 years later while in prision.  This would make him possibly 30-34 . . . (yep, I can do math!).

Timothy in his thirties?  That didn’t happen often as it was more accustomed to appoint those quite older into church leadership.  That is why Paul is addressing this issue with Timothy.  Though there are those that are older than him with more wisdom and experience, he is still called as a pastor to be an example of speech, purity, faith and love to not just to the younger, but to the older as well.  And then it dawned on me.  Jesus started his ministry in his . . . wait for it . . . THIRTIES.  He impacted those that were younger, and called out those that were older.  So maybe this pastoral thing in my 30s is legit after all . . .

What does it mean to not have anyone look down on you?  That seems impossible because you can’t control people’s thoughts.  It means to live a life worthy of wanting to follow.  Walking in love, having good speech (not tell anyone off like you’d rather do).  With this it will not matter how old or young you are, because by your example you will stand out.

I received a call today from a dear woman in our church. A woman in her late forties seeking advice . . . from ME. This is a woman who’s probably been saved way longer than I have. How is it that someone that is much younger than her is giving her Godly advice?  For whatever reason God has shown me bits and pieces of her family through discernment in which I can bring pastoral wisdom to.  Though Timothy was young, God called him in later verses to devote himself to preaching and teaching.  Not to neglect the gifts given to him by God.  And He has called us to do the same. In that, our giftings will be used to help lead people to Jesus and draw them closer to Him.

God he used Timothy in his thirties, and you uses YOU.

Let’s be real.  No matter how old or young you are, someone will look down on you for it. Always think of yourself as one who is learning from both ends- the older and the younger, and can help bring them both together.  Think of yourself more like glue!

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS:

“Lord, I ask that you would help me where I lack wisdom with the older and the younger generations.  That I would continue to humble myself and learn from those in the race that are in front of me, beside me and behind me.  Thank you for the calling that you have placed upon me, and that I would remember that I was created for such a time as this.  And that in this time of the ‘in-between’ stage, I will learn, grow and become more like you. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

 

 

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.”

6 Ways Female Ministers Can Protect Integrity

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DREAMS-Part Two: Killing your Dream so God’s Dream Can Live

Click here to read DREAMS-Part One

“Whom shall I send?”

With heartfelt emotions and tear filled eyes we said-

“I’ll go. Send me.”

The answer to God’s call of ministry seemed so simple in the moment.  We really did mean it. We did mean that we would go anywhere and do anything that He asked of us. But our flesh gets in the way.

In my few years as a Christian I have learned many things, but one that is still the hardest for me to swallow is there are times my dreams need to die in order for His to live.

When I said, “Yes, I will go for you,” did I really mean it? Was I caught up in emotion? It doesn’t matter. Let my yes be yes and my no be no.

“Lord, I said I would go, but you are sending me to places and people I don’t want to go. You’re having me go into territory that I have ran from for so long. But I have been a Jonah for too long. I surrender.”

“Ah, yes,” says the Lord. “But it was Jonah who witnessed one of the greatest revivals of the Old Testament. When you said that you would go, wasn’t it just for that- to see revival? To know Me and to make Me known? Does it matter how it happens as long as it does? I know you better than anyone. I know the plans I have for you, it is up to you whether you want to live them. I give you the choice. You have dreams, but mine are far greater than you will ever have for yourself. It will be hard, it will be painful. But it will be even more so against my will. You said once that you would go, will you continue to go? Will you let your dreams die so mine can live?

“Again, I ask you: Whom shall I send? Will you, dear daughter, give up your dream so you can live mine?”

My lack of worship has put my thoughts on my dreams instead of His. In my busyness of doing ‘godly things’ I have made myself tired. Being tired has made me self-focused, and in being self-focused I have lost sight of the Lord.  We worship not to get our own way or to manipulate, but we worship so He can have his way.  So the purpose of knowing God and making Him known can be fulfilled whether this time in our lives is for a season, so that dream may possibly be resurrected, or if it’s for life.

“Send me. I shall go for you, Lord. To know You so others may know.”

LETS PRAY:
“Father, please forgive me where my focus has been on myself instead of you.  I know you have placed dreams and desires in my heart.  Please bring those out of me that I may go in the direction you want. Lead me and guide me Holy Spirit. I surrender my dreams to you so yours may live. In Jesus name, Amen.”

DREAMS- Part One: Jealousy of Ministry Women

Jealousy (You just had a 90s flashback didn’t you?).

Have you ever been jealous of other women in ministry? Oh, good.  Just me.

I struggle. Big time. I struggle watching others who have gone before me (or younger than me) doing the things I want and dream of.  What about you? Other women speaking at big conferences, doing ministry around the world, book deals?  The list could go on.  I know I’m not the only one who thinks this way. It’s natural, it happens.  But is it Godly? No.  Do we stay in that place? No.

I hate admitting that my anger burns when I see others fulfilling similar dreams. BUT, I can’t stay in that place. God has not forgotten me and He hasn’t forgotten you. He has a call and purpose for you. I’m still learning, but here’s how I found the best way to handle jealousy:

1.) Pray for the Women You’re Jealous Of. Nothing softens a heart more than this. Sure it’s super irritating at first, but as time goes you begin to take off the clothes of pride and put on the clothes of humility. Remember – God gives law to the proud and grace to the humble.

2.) Bless Them.  Again, this can bring irritation to your flesh, BUT it also softens your heart and clothes you with humility. Do they like coffee? Bring them Starbucks. Are they a writer? Read their writings and give them a sincere compliment.

3.) Be Grateful. When we start thanking God for what we do have instead of focusing on what we don’t have, our perspective starts to change.

4.) Focus on Your Sheep. In 1 Peter 5, Peter reminds us ministers to focus on our sheep. Is it wrong to build a platform? Is it wrong to desire career advancement? Not if done in the right way. But when we focus on shepherding our flock, serving them and being examples to them (vs 2-3) He, as our Chief Shepherd, will honor us in His timing (vs 4).

I hope this helps steer you in the right direction.  Jealously will rear its ugly head no matter how far you advance. Be ready!

PRAY WITH ME SISTERS

“Lord, I ask for your forgiveness where I have been jealous. I pray God that you would bring heaps of blessing on (insert name).  Lead her and guide her. Help her to be an amazing soul winner. Show me how I can be a blessing to her. I also ask you to help me focus on the sheep you have given me.  Help me to not lose sight of my responsibility to the flock you have given me. I know you haven’t forgotten me and you have a purpose for my life. Thank you for where you have me. In Jesus Name, Amen.”

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