Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Note to Churches

Dear church,
I am attempting to write this letter as a neutral party. I am not writing as a Pastor's wife or as a church member. I am writing as an observer. Let me start by saying this letter is not directed at one church in particular but the American church collectively. So please,  do not assume I am talking about you and become offended. But, if it applies feel free to be convicted unto repentance. I know I already have been just organizing my thoughts for this letter.

We are a church in crisis. Our families are hurting, our churches are hurting, and our Pastors are hurting. We have allowed our desire for things other than The Lord to creep in and steal our focus. We have chased the American Dream more than we follow our Savior. As a result, parents are busy working instead of investing in their children. Families are stealing Sundays from The Lord in an attempt to make up for lost time that went to employers. The church has become an optional social club for many believers. It is there to fit their needs and their schedule. This is not biblical.

The church is a God ordained institution designed for the edification of believers, sharing of the gospel, and caring for the needy and broken. It is not optional. But, we have made it such.

Many Pastors feel they have to beg their members to attend on a regular basis. They have to offer special activities and events to entice believers into worshipping and serving the God they declare to follow. They work tirelessly to pour into people and help them grow. Often, the response they receive is criticism.

Pastors do not need your criticism. They need your encouragement. They know they are not perfect. They are reminded of this daily by others, themselves, and Satan. Doubt, Depression, Bitterness, and Discouragement whisper in their ears taunting them and beckoning  them to give up and give in. Ministry is a daily battle. We as believers should not become another combatant for our Pastors to face.

We need to lift them up in prayer, encourage them with our words and actions. We need to let them know we love them and support them. If we do have a grievance with a Pastor we should go to them! Talk to them... Not about them. It is biblical to go to the person who has offended you and talk it out. Work it out with them. The majority of Pastors care more about you and your spiritual growth than they do about being right or in control.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. I believe most Pastors would agree that the best way to honor them this month is by committing to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. ( that's not an excuse to be cheap! You still need to love on him and his family with words, kindness, and gifts) They pray that you not simply attend church and hear the Word of God, but they long for you to apply it to your life.

They have been called to a hard, demanding, often discouraging job. Encourage these men... For the harvest is plentiful, but the true laborers are few.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

A New Window: weight loss

My window is closing. The precious days of blaming my weight on a new baby are almost over. In previous weeks I received comments like, " wow, you look great for just having had a baby!" I reveled in these comments. They made that brownie, can of coke, or order of cheese fries possible. But those comments have faded. Now I get, " oh look, a baby!" I know what this means. It means it is time to care again. It means I can no longer hold up a newborn as an excuse for my weight. It means I have to try. My window is closing.

I must open a new window, so I began exercising yesterday. It was excruciatingly painful and slightly embarrassing. Jumping jacks were no longer a simple warmup. They were evil and hard. Push ups were near impossible! With Titus I had reached a whole new level of out of shape. I must now claw my way back. Delicious desserts and cheese laden calories must be set aside. Cardio must be reintroduced. Accountability is essential.

So dear friends, if you see this girl walking around with milkshake in hand, snatch it away. If a bag of fast food is being held tightly, pry it loose. If I'm guzzling a can of coke, cut me some slack. I was probably up all night with a teething baby. 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Big Kid

Today, my oldest child turns four. All traces of baby are gone. He looks, sounds, and smells like a boy. I am excited about this new phase of development, but I am also nostalgic and weepy. I'm sure this is normal mommy emotion, but that doesn't make the lump in my throat any smaller. 

Isaac was awful at being a baby. He hated sleep and fought it furiously. He was forever hungry and never satisfied. He was mysteriously angry...all the time. Praise to God, he finally settled into his skin, and around 6 months of age we reached an understanding of one another. By 12 months of age he was flat out fun! He was still stubborn, but also extremely loving. He laughed about everything, slept like a champ, and completely owned my heart. 

Toddler and preschool years have been tough at times. My awesome napper became an occassional napper. His strong will molded into full on attitude. This is when parenting officially became hard work. Consistency, discipline, prayer, and a punching pillow ( for me) were vital. My fluffy fiction reads were replaced with " Raising Strong Willed Boys" and other parenting staples. My husband was amazing! He willingly took on the role of leader, and is helping our boy navigate these tough years. 

My newly four year old boy is wild, tender hearted, sarcastic ( that one is my fault-- working on it), and still strong willed. He is an awesome big brother, has the BEST laugh, and still has my heart. 

Happy Birthday Isaac! I'm so thankful you're mine and I'm yours. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Pastor Appreciation Part I

Since October is Pastor Appreciation Month, I thought it would be fitting to give a public thank you to the men and women who have impacted me through their ministry. The profession they were called into is extremely difficult, draining, and often discouraging. It is important that we as members of their ministry remember to thank them and encourage them. So, this is my thank you.

Pastor and Mrs.Milton, through your ministry I discovered my passion for missions. Growing up I watched as you tirelessly planned and pursued ways for our small church to have a large impact on our world. I learned the importance of praying for our missionaries and building relationships with them. I learned the importance of going to work side by side with these men and women. I learned I am called to share my faith and make disciples whereever I am. It planted in my heart the desire to serve in whatever way God had for me. 

Pastor and Mrs. Herman, through your ministry I was shown patience and kindness. As students I know we were not always so kind to you or Mrs. Herman. Now, that my husband is a youth pastor I realize how often you probably wanted to give us a swift kick, but you never let that show. You faithfully preached to us and lovingly put up with us, all while working another full time job. Thank you for investing all the time you really didn't have into us. We may not have shown it, but we loved you and your wife.

Mr. Rudman, it makes me smile to think that as I sit and type of your faithfulness you have already heard the words, " Well done my good and faithful servant". You are already enjoying your heavenly home with our Savior. My words of praise and recognition no longer matter to you. You have experienced the glory of our Lord. You have bowed before Him, and have lovingly offered Him all of your praise. Your crowns have been cast at His feet. I still would like to say thank you.  You cared for each student in your ministry, and even though we knew when you were annoyed with us we also knew that you were praying for us. You showed us courage and how to truly depend upon the Lord. Thank you.

Ron and Celia Jones, thank you for serving the students of the triad through campus crusade. Your ministry helped me to grow spiritually in a time of life when most students are walking away from the Lord. You and Celia encouraged me to hold fast to my faith and share it with the lost students on my campus. You gave me the opportunty to not only learn what I believe but to put it into practice. Thank you for your hard work. I know our campus wasn't easy and didn't always show results, but you continued to pour into the students that did come. Thank you.

These are the men and women who helped prepare me for a life in ministry. Tomorrow, I will say thank you to those who my husband and I have been blessed to serve with in ministry.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Public Service Saturday: Facebook Etiquette

Dear people of the world,
Just because you think it doesn't mean you should type it. Unfortunately, this has become increasingly popular. I call it oversharing. Believe it or not, I don't want to know how far you are dialated. No, I do not need to know what part of your child's anatomy they recently discovered. No, I don't need to know your boyfriend is a string of cuss words, and that you now hate him. And no, I don't want to read about how many times you vomited with the latest stomach bug. 

Today, I will offer a helpful tip to avoid oversharing. If you are about to post an update and you aren't quite sure if it's appropriate I want you to follow these easy steps...

1. Go to your friends list and find the most random aquaintance you have. It could be your fourth grade teacher, that guy you met at that thing three years ago and never saw again, or the old lady that sits in front of your grandma at church.

2. Now picture yourself standing face to face with that person. Imagine looking that person in the eye and telling them exactly what you are about to type. Is it awkward? Uncomfortable? Do you imagine them looking at you in total fear and disgust? Then don't type it! Because that is exactly what dozens of your unfortunate " friends" will be doing as they scroll through on their laptops and smart phones. They will be so horrified that they will then verbally share your status with anyone standing nearby. So now total strangers will be aware of your trip to the lady doctor! 

3. Delete whatever it was you were going to share, and post something else. Good safe choices include: a comment on the weather, an inspirational quote, a witty comment that you could share at a work party with out fear of alienating yourself from the entire office.

As the problem of oversharing grows I may find it necessary to unfriend certain people. So if you find yourself unfriended please do take it personal. Because you made it personal.....waaaay tooooo personal.

** Please Note - this was written in fun. Don't be offended, and if you are I am sorry. But, if you are guilty of oversharing take this opportunity to giggle at yourself and take a little bit of loving advice** and now I add a wink face, because nobody can be mad at a wink face. ;)

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

In my Own Strength

This week has been a big 'ol ball of fail. I have had moments of failure as a mother, wife, youth pastor's wife, and child of God. 

These are all side effects of living life depending on my own abilities. It's amazing how often I attempt to do life on my own, even though I am so ill equipped. I stubbornly push forward attempting to do and be everything. 

My heavenly Father waits patiently as I stumble along. He offers peace and rest, but I must abide in him instead of depending on me. It's an issue of pride and control. My flesh tells me to go go go, reach the American dream, be all things to all people, and do it through your own ability. My Father whispers that He is the vine and I am the branch. I am to abide in Him. He gently reminds me that I can find rest for my soul because His yolk is easy and His burden is light. He lovingly tells me that I am not on my own. A Comforter has been sent to teach me all things and remind me of His Word. 

So tonight, for the billionth time, I seek forgiveness for my arrogant attempts at perfection. I come humbly before my Savior and sing, " My life Lord is Yours to control". I choose to cling to His promises and bask in His loving guidance. 

Tomorrow is a new day. I move past my week of failures, and I simply follow. 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Day Titus Almost Became an Only Child

  That early October Sunday dawned cool and gray. A thick fog  covered the world offering a false sense of hush. The previous week had been unseasonably warm so this morning, as odd as it was, was a welcome respite. I quickly dressed for church as my youngest lay cooing on the bed and my oldest noisely played in the bedroom floor. As I contemplated which necklace best complimented my attire, I heard Isaac sweetly call my name. 
"What is it, bud?" I responded distractedly.
" Are we going to have another baby?" He asked.
I smiled and chuckled softly. " No honey, we are not", I patiently replied. 
He paused pensively then declared, " Yes we are, because your belly is big."
   The outside gray turned a deep black. The misty fog thickened. The young boy smiled wide, unaware of the danger he was facing. My eyes narrowed, nostrils flared, lip curled and my voice reached an alarmingly dangerous low. 
" I'm still in my window", I growled. Blinded with rage I mentally flipped through my options. Kick him square in the butt, pinch the fat on the back of his leg, spit in his eye! As the red began to fade and I returned to my senses, I knew I didn't really want to harm my offspring ( nor could I legally ). 
   I breathed deeply, and chose to forgive the cruel words of my clueless young child. Instead of wallowing, I would use them as inspiration. Plus, I really am still in my window...... or so I continue to tell myself. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

grocery envy

There is a fanatical organization entrenched in the suburbs of America. They are organized, well educated and trained in their area of expertise, and always looking for recruits. They enthusiastically share their ideology, and love to brag about their latest victory. You have probably been tempted to join their ranks, or maybe you all ready have.  I have numerous friends who are successful followers of this "lifestyle".  I myself have flirted with "joining up", wooed by their promises of deals, free groceries, and savings. Yes, they are couponers.

Visit any major grocery store and you will see these women stalking the aisles with large binders splayed out bulging with coupons. They have meticulously organized them by product and cross referenced them by date and store. Narrow eyed, mumbling to themselves, they dominate the store and block the aisle.

I must admit, I have complicated emotions when it comes to these women. Part of me is annoyed by their cockiness, put off by their rude dominance of the grocery store. But, I am mostly jealous. You see, I have tried, really tried, to join this exclusive rank of womanhood. I have clipped coupons from newspapers, printed them from the internet, and attended several classes on how to be a successful couponer. They have not helped. I am still horribly inept at this learned skill. I look on with bitter jealousy at my friends' pictures on facebook, their declarations of amounts saved, the woman smugly pushing her full cart to the register.

Last time I attempted to enter this elite world, I spent time clipping and printing. I slowly moved through the store carefully matching product to paper. I excitedly went to the register and handed over my coupons with a smirk on my face...... I only saved nine dollars. I bitterly lugged my overpriced haul to the car in frustration. I swore off couponing forever.......again.

Maybe one day I will develop the true patience, or whatever it is I lack, to become a real deal couponer. Till then, ignore the dirty look I give when you brag about your savings. It's really just envy in disguise.

**Please note- this is not a cry for couponing help. Please do not offer any. I'm still scarred from my last experience, and like any victim I will speak out and ask for help when I am ready**