Saturday, September 24, 2016

My "Tribe"

I have seen them and I am sure you have too - the posts or blogs about a woman having her "tribe" - the group of friends that she shares life with and who are there in a pinch if needed, go out for a regular girls night, etc. 

Being honest here, I have always been a tad jealous of these posts because honestly I didn't feel like I had a tribe around me. For the better part of our 21 years of marriage, we have moved and transitioned. This makes in depth meaningful relationships H.A.R.D. Yes - I have had women that I have done a ladies night out with - usually as part of women's ministry- and I have had some that are my choir parent buddies, or my Bible Study buddies, or sports parent buddies, etc. Sprinkled in through the years there have been one or two friends that really are meaningful and in depth but never a group...

Recently, as I was struggling through a friendship that has shifted and changed for numerous reasons, I found myself literally crying out to the Lord asking why I didn't have a "tribe" of my own. Where were these friends that were supposed to be there through the good, the bad, and the ugly of life? What was wrong with me that I didn't have this? I know - a tad on the overreacting side but bare with me because I want you understand where I was with this. 

So, in my prayer/crying fest to the Lord mourning the loss of this particular friendship - He clearly reminded me of something that I was not seeing. I DO have a tribe! Many years ago, before Joel and I were married and when I was still in college - God blessed me with four friends with whom I have a close and tight relationship with. You see these gals - we TRULY have walked life together...let me share with you a few of the things that we have walked through together - 

*Dating and Marriage
*Pregnancy Struggles and births of children
*Depression for either ourselves or those close to us
*Loss of a parent, loss of a sibling, and loss of a spouse
*A parent with Alzheimers
*Bankruptcy and recovery from it
*Pain and success in ministry situations
*Broken friendships (other than this group)
*Struggles with our kids
*Second marriage and all that brings

You see, these four - they make up my "tribe"! When I have something exciting to share - they are my go to group, when sorrow or devastation hit they are my go to group, when I am hurting or lost they are my go to group - they are my TRIBE! While I was looking for something different - they have been there all along - we live in four different states, have kids in varying stages of life, but yet we are still as close as though we were all still sitting in one of our dorm rooms or apartments and talking in person. 

I share this with you because maybe you are looking for a tribe. Maybe, like me you think that surely this tribe needs to look like the posts or blogs you read. However, MAYBE like me you have a tribe - it just looks a little different than someone else's. 

It is my firm belief, that we were created for relationships and in person relationships that are deep and meaningful. It is still a prayer of mine that God will open up the door for a local group of friends with whom I can do life with, have fun with, be couple friends with, and be real with - yet, I know with all my being that God blessed me with the best tribe of friends who are so willing to walk through the good the bad and the ugly! 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

A Christian Parents Guide to IEP or Special Education Meetings...

If you have been around my blog long or know us at all, you know that I have a heart for kids with Special Needs and their parents. Having both a son and niece with special needs these kiddos and their families are close to my heart and I LOVE being able to encourage them, support them and help them in any way I can.

Any parent of a special needs child who is of school age and in the public school system will tell you that one of the hardest times is that of the school IEP or Individual Education Plan meeting. The basis of these meetings is for your child's educators, therapists, service providers, and you as parent to come together and discuss the needs of your child, where they are at in their academic and social progress, where they are lacking and what supports and helps can be put in place to help them.

For a parent, these meetings can bring feelings of sadness, being overwhelmed, intimidated, frustration, anger and even defensiveness. At times, you feel as though it is you vs a room full of professionals who "think" they know your child better than you but yet you know your child the best. All you have to do is google IEP meetings and images to come up with a WHOLE HOST of memes about angry parents headed to IEP meetings, derogatory remarks about teachers etc, and more. While in some ways, these can be true...I want to propose that they don't have to be true, there can be a different approach and especially as a Christian have an excellent opportunity to yes be a strong advocate for your child BUT to also be salt and light to their educational team!

In the past 11 years of working with various schools and attending countless IEP meetings, Here are some guidelines that we have discovered for Christian parents in their approach of these meetings....

1.) Prayer. Perhaps this should be the assumed approach but it took me several years before I would regularly bathe my child's IEP meetings in prayer before the throne and even longer before I would regularly reach out to my close team of prayer warriors and ask them to join me in praying over the upcoming meetings. Yet, when this became my habit - I noticed BIG changes in the overall atmosphere of our meetings and most of all in MY attitude approaching them. I pray over my child of course but also for the teachers and service providers and that I would represent Christ well in these meetings! It is also a great reminder to me that the ONE who created my child loves him so much more than me and will go before us!

2.) Open-Mindedness. I had to learn to have an open mind going into the meetings and to not automatically assume that the school is against me or my child.  It is important to not go into these meetings automatically on the defensive but to go in with the idea that you CAN work together WITH the school for your child.

3.) Gentleness. To piggy back on the previous guideline - go into each meeting with a gentle and calm spirit. Approach the team with an attitude that assumes the best not the worst of those working with your child.

4.) Firm Advocate rather than a Defensive Advocate. It has taken time but I have learned that I CAN be a firm and strong advocate for my child without being defensive, abrasive, rude or out of control. I can advocate for my child and his needs with an attitude that brings glory and honor to Christ and is a witness to those around me. Go into your child's IEP with the idea that God has placed you in THIS meeting to be His ambassador and witness. With this in mind, speak truth YES but in love. State what your child needs but in love!

5.) Should you have to change direction - do so with grace. We have found ourselves in a position where we realized that the school simply wasn't going to work with us or our son to meet his needs and for the sake of what was best for our child we had to withdraw him from that educational setting. I wish that I could say that we handled this with 100% grace and love but that wasn't the case. We withdrew him and chose to homeschool him for a time but I was angry and put out to say the least. at a follow-up meeting I did approach it with grace though and it was so much better. Again, I had to remind myself to represent Christ hard as that may be.

6.) Relationship is key. Regardless the situation, as believers we need to remember that the relationship is the key. We need to maintain the relationship even in the midst of advocating for our child. Remember that there really are times that teachers and administrators hands are tied due to resources, laws, etc. This is where we found ourselves when we withdrew our son but to maintain the relationship, we thanked the staff for their efforts and time while still taking the actions that were best for our child.

7.) Even if the previous meeting went south...follow these guidelines every time. In our humanness, sometimes we just mess up or the meeting just takes a bad turn. DO NOT take the baggage from one meeting into the next one - start again with prayer, a fresh mindset, a good attitude. You will get no where if you are carrying a grudge and in most cases, it just gets worse!

8.) If needed - take a friend or another advocate. Many times we really are too emotionally involved to approach an IEP with an open mind or calmness. We need to recognize this and if our spouse is able take them, if not find a friend or advocate that will be the voice of reason, help keep you calm and collected, and still advocate for your child!

To summarize,  as a Christian parent yes you have a responsibility to advocate for your child but you also have a responsibility to represent Christ well in these meetings and to be the hands and feet of Him! You CAN do both. Above all PRAY over your child, their teachers, the meetings, the services, service providers, etc!

Footnote: You may notice that throughout this post I don't use the term "fight for my child" or "do battle on his behalf" but rather advocate. The reason for this is simple - fight or battle automatically put me in a defensive mindset and make me go into the meeting with an us vs them mentality and that is just not correct. I honestly believe that the majority of teachers and administrators DO want to see students excel and succeed, they just have much more to consider than just my child and like I mentioned earlier they are restricted at times.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

We say "We will never forget" and yet....15 years later, WE FORGOT

This morning as I woke up, I heard my son say from the other room to his Dad:

"I think today is the day Dad."
Dad: "What day is that?"
Son: "I think today is 9/11"

As I finished preparing for church, thoughts of 9/11 came to my mind...I DO remember that day, I remember where I was, I remember watching my 4 innocent children play and laugh and wondering what their lives would hold in this now changed America....

Here we are, 15 years removed from that monumental day. A day that is to my generation that Pearl Harbor was to my Grandparents generation. A day in which the war on terrorism was no longer in a far away land but right here on our own soil. Each year I see signs and images that say "Never Forget" or "We will never forget" and yet...I am convinced that we FORGOT.

No, we didn't forget what happened - we forgot how our Nation reacted. On 9/11/2001 there wasn't a single person in America that was disrespecting or criticizing our law enforcement, we weren't a nation with political parties divided and agendas more important than people, we weren't tossing God to the wind and saying everyone believe what you want....

On 9/11/2001 and in the subsequent weeks and months - our nation was UNITED, we respected and loved on one another, we thanked those in any uniform, every kid I knew wanted to grow up and be a policeman or firefighter - bonus if it was NYPD or NYFD. More noticeable than this was the way in which the body of Christ reacted...we were extending love to those in need, being bold in the sharing of the Gospel, knowing that truly the ONLY hope for America was God! Our churches were full and people were seeking...and we as Christians were there with open arms and the Gospel message.

What do I see on 9/11/2016:

* A nation more divided than ever.
* Americans criticizing and bashing one another rather than uniting.
*Our law enforcement is under fire and scrutiny
* Our churches are actually DECLINING and closing doors rather than growing and reaching out
* Political agendas are now the news of the day - no talk of people as the priority
* Christians are more out spoken about politics and patriotism than they are about the Gospel message being shared and lives being changed for eternity.
*Believers walk around in discouragement and hopelessness forgetting that our ONLY hope is in Christ - not a politician, not government, not laws.

So....if you want to say "Never Forget" than I want to boldly challenge you to truly stand behind those words and don't just remember the event - remember the way in which we reacted! We were determined to stand united as a Nation. Christian - we were BOLD with the message of Christ and not a political agenda - we worshiped the Lord over patriotism. We reached out in love and care to one another. We thanked and honored our law enforcement. There was not one race against another - we were ALL Americans reeling with the reality that war was on our soil.

Non-believers saw the hope that we as believers had in the wake of tragedy and we were ready with an answer for the hope that is within us...what do they see in us today when we are faced with a broken nation, a nation divided, uncertain times. Are we living as those with eternal hope that others want?

Christian - this is to you....Pray, Seek His face, Repent and THEN He will forgive and heal.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

When life just doesn't go as planned....

Have you ever looked at your life and thought "Well, this wasn't the way I thought it would go?"

Maybe not even in a negative sense or maybe with some disappointment...regardless, it wasn't the way you envisioned it all playing out.

This is where I have found myself over and over during the past 7 months. Looking at some things in our life and just crying out to God "This wasn't the way I intended this to go, this isn't what I planned." As I have thought about it, prayed about it, complained some about it, and most of all just worked on embracing it - God has revealed Himself in so many ways and I am learning that isn't what I had planned BUT it IS all a part of HIS PLAN!

Let me explain...

January of this year was turmoil for our family. We suffered a GREAT loss in my mom's death. I am not going to lie or mince words - it shook both our immediate family and extended family to the so many ways, we are still regrouping from this. Yes, we know where she is, yes we can rejoice in that and yes there is still a sadness and void in our family. This was NOT part of the plan. My plan was that she would recover, that she would be here when we moved to Delta, that she would see all of her grandchildren graduate and be a part of that...It didn't go as I planned.

In conjunction with the loss of mom, our oldest struggled emotionally in coping with this loss and the pressures of college and just in general. So much so that by Spring Break she made the decision to withdraw from college and come home to heal and regroup emotionally. This was NOT part of the plan or the way I envisioned it. My plan was that she would blossom and thrive at college and it would be an amazing experience. In MY plan I would be taking her back for a glorious second year....It didn't go as I planned. She is living with us and working at McDonald's.

By May we were supposed to have locked down a sending church for our church plant here in Delta, we would be moved by early June, Joel and I would both immediately find jobs and things were just going to blow wide open in regards to planting a church...We still are working on the sending church thing, Joel did find a job immediately but that was followed by becoming seriously ill and ending up in the hospital, I just now have a job and we are just now beginning to put the pieces together for the church plant...This was NOT my plan or how I envisioned it. In MY plan we would be already meeting and have a solid base and my husband would be 100% healthy.

Now, before it sounds like I am disappointed and discouraged let me say - God has shown up BIG TIME in every one of these areas! Yes, I have struggled with discouragement, disappointment, and even depression the past several months BUT I serve a REDEEMING God, a God who is MORE THAN able to turn these meeker plans of mine into GRAND plans of HIS!!!

Let me tell you how....

Yes, the loss of my mother hurts and it is a DAILY battle to not give into the sadness of it. However, through her death I have had the opportunity to talk with SO MANY women that she touched and invested in. I have had the opportunity to walk alongside others in the loss of a parent and truly say - I know what you are feeling. My kids weekly mention something Mimi taught them or a fun memory of her or see something that reminds them of her and makes them smile. See, God's plan in this was so much BIGGER than my selfish desire. He wanted to reveal to me the impact of a life well lived for Him!

Yes, Hannah IS living with us and working at McDonald's - by FAR her least favorite restaurant. However, she is healing. She is learning to step out of her comfort zone BIG time for a far greater purpose. She is slowly embracing joy in life and learning to forgive herself and to be okay again. God's plan was BIGGER than mine..He wanted to stretch her in ways I never would have imagined and His plan for her is STILL unfolding!!! Words cannot express how proud I am of her and how she is allowing God to mold her.

We ARE in the final stages of lining out a sending church and it has taken MUCH longer than I planned. Yet, the relationship with us and them will be so much sweeter having gone through this time of processing, sharing, praying.

Joel IS healed and doing great but had he not been in the hospital we would not have had the opportunity to encounter so many people and share with them about our mission here and the church plant. God wanted to expand our territory into a place we never may have gone had he not been sick.

I did just now find a job but had it been earlier I would have missed out on an environment and position that I am EXCITED and PASSIONATE about! God knew my heart and HIS plan was to place me in a position that would bless me!

Here's the deal friends...Reality is that life rarely goes as WE plan it to. The unexpected, the unthinkable, the unforseen happens and when it does we find ourselves at a crossroads. We can choose to be upset, depressed, angry, disappointed or even bitter OR...

We can choose to stop, take a breath, look to Him and ask HIM what HIS plan and purpose for it all is. We can choose to CLAIM Jeremiah 29:11 and truly embrace it over our lives...

This second choice is where I have found myself...claiming and believing that God's BIG plans for me are so much greater than any I can drum up for myself. This is where I would encourage YOU to be as well should you find yourself as I have saying - "This is not at all what I had planned." 

Cause you know what? NONE of this is what I had planned and I am SO THANKFUL that HIS PLANS are much greater and higher...I am choosing to EMBRACE HIS PLANS!!!! 

Monday, July 25, 2016

Let's get real about FEAR...

So, apparently dealing with FEAR is an ongoing theme with me...just realized that my last post had to do with fear and yet here I am again...

First of all let me begin by stating - fear is real, fear can mask itself in many ways, and fear can be well - scary! Over the past month, I have seen and experienced fear in multiple ways and in regards to multiple areas. I am not talking just about the fear of the dark, or fear of strangers, or fear of goblins in the closet - although these can be real fears. No - I am talking about fear of the future, of the unknown, of the what ifs....

Just this morning, as I opened up my Facebook and began reading posts and articles shared by various friends I sensed this overwhelming fear that we as a nation have in regards to the upcoming election, politics, etc. One post even went so far as to state that if Donald Trump isn't elected, America will no longer exist? What?? Now if that isn't designed to scare you I don't know what is!!! Another statement said that really, there isn't hope for America at all regardless who wins - it's all a conspiracy anyway. WOWZA!!!

For me personally...the fear has been a little more personal. If you have talked to me or followed my Facebook posts you know that the past 7 days have been quite the roller coaster for our family! Last Sunday night, Joel came home from work with a mild fever and just feeling blah...long story short by Tuesday morning it had progressed to a 103.8 fever, no energy etc. I took him to urgent care, which then ended up with us in the ER and eventually by Tuesday afternoon he was admitted to the hospital! Result...he had an extremely low white blood cell count (as in 68 when normal is 4000), dehydration, and pneumonia. To sum it up...there was and still is not an explanation as to what happened to his body. As I sat in that hospital room and listened to the Doctor explain the gravity of the situation, FEAR overcame me! Fear of what does this mean? What if he has cancer? What if he is in the hospital for weeks? Fear of what does this mean for our family? What does it mean for our church planting plans? Can he still even work? Yesterday, he was back in the ER due to some pain issues which again caused all this FEAR...(he's better today) You get the idea...I was AFRAID.

If that isn't enough, Satan had to go a step further and remind me of moments in the hospital with my mom throughout her last year of life. Emotionally it was draining....

Take it a step further - we are still waiting on some key beginning pieces of the church planting process to fall into place, pieces that we REALLY thought would be in place back in April or May and here we are almost to August and they are still unknown. Fear of did we miss God? What if this all falls apart? What then?

Combine ALL of this with fears of my earlier post about changing careers, etc and well...I think it is safe to say I was ALLOWING myself to be overcome with fear!

So, back to this morning...after looking at Facebook I KNEW where I needed to go...I needed to go to the one place I KNOW has an answer...The Word of God! God's Word has LOTS to say about fear and being afraid...Here are just a few that I found.

"After these events, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield; your reward will be very great." Genesis 15:1

"Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

"He is to say to them: ‘Listen, Israel: Today you are about to engage in battle with your enemies. Do not be cowardly. Do not be afraid, alarmed, or terrified because of them. 4 For the Lord your God is the One who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.’" Deuteronomy 20:3-4

"Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me." Psalm 23:4

"When I am afraid, I will trust in You." Psalm 56:3

"There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment.So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love." I John 4:18

These are just a few of the verses on being afraid and fear...there are more. However, here is my conclusion... As believers, we CANNOT be overcome by fear, we can't let it dictate our decisions our thoughts or actions. We have to go to the ONE who is so much greater than all our fears. Believe me...I don't have this perfected, in fact I pretty much feel like I am typing this for myself more than anyone else!

I can't tell you what tomorrow will bring or even what the rest of today will bring...I can only say that MY HOPE, MY STRENGTH, MY FUTURE rests in Christ and Christ alone! This morning as I have been working and researching for this post this song has been playing in my mind...

Eye of the Storm by Ryan Stevenson

Yes, God knows that the way to speak to my heart is through music that reminds me where to place my hope..."I find my peace in Jesus Name"

My prayer this morning, is that if YOU find yourself afraid or consumed with fear for whatever reason, you will RUN to HIM!!!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Fear, Change, New Beginnings

As I look at my calendar I can hardly believe that it was just 3 weeks tomorrow since we pulled into Delta Co.! What an adventure it has been for sure!

To start off with, here is a recap of the past three weeks. Joel, Hannah, Tyler and I arrived here on June 25th. We unloaded some basics that evening (beds, clothes, etc) and then finished unloading the remainder on Sunday June 26th. We all LOVE our house, it is by far the biggest home we have ever lived in, is old and fun, and just great!

On July 4th, we met up with my Dad, Malachi and Kestra in Silverton (they had been at youth camp with Levelland church). We had a great time celebrating this amazing nation with my cousins, aunt, uncle, etc and then headed back - our entire family together - to officially begin this church planting journey!

Joel was hired at Wal-Mart and began on July 1st. It has been an adjustment in many ways for our entire family. He is working from 2:00p.m. to approximately midnight stocking shelves and unloading trucks. For him, the change from primarily an office job to manual labor has been rough but he has adjusted really well! For our family, it takes some getting used to having Dad home in the mornings but not home at night...however, we are starting to get the hang of it!

Hannah was just hired at McDonald's yesterday and will officially begin July 24th! I must say I am SUPER proud of her!!! She literally hates McDonald's food but knew she needed a job to earn money for Youth With A Mission - so she took a deep breath and went for it!!! Pray for her to have a great attitude and to shine for Jesus in her workplace.

As for me...well, that is where the title of this blog comes in. Fear. Change. New Beginnings. It pretty much sums up me emotionally the past few weeks. You wouldn't know it on the outside but really moves cause me MUCH fear! Even when I KNOW they are of God and that He has gone before us!

Let me back up a bit to Levelland. There was so much to love about our time at FBC Levelland - great people, great church, a fun and fulfilling ministry but for me PERSONALLY was the finding of my purpose, a passion and an excitement in a career. I LOVED my job at King's Kids Parents Day Out! I loved that I could combine my business degree and human resource passion with my passion for preschoolers and their families! Joel and I have commented many times that this was a defining time for me - a time where I could truly say "this is IT".

Which brings us to Delta and wondering how I would  be able to be that excited about a job again. The childcare laws in Colorado are much stricter and require a lot more to work in the childcare field. In order to do what I was doing in Texas, I need to take 9 college courses and work 12 months in a licensed day care. To just teach in a preschool/daycare I need at least 2 classes. This is one area where fear has crept its ugly head - how can I do THAT and earn money? I already have a college degree, just use it and get a pay check - you can't afford college again! Who changes careers over 40 anyway? You get the idea....
Yet - I know where my heart is, where my passion is, etc...I just tend to go back to the "safe zone" my security - get an office job and be done with it.

Listening to this fear, I sent out several resumes to some office administrative type positions. I even interviewed at one in Montrose (a 30 min commute one way). Joel encouraged me to be patient and wait for the Lord...not something I am good at. The more I began to think about it, pray about it, etc I knew that I really should/needed to wait for something here in Delta to open up. Not only do I need to meet people here (after all, we DID move here to build a church in Delta) but I just didn't have a peace at all about this interview.

Change - I KNEW I needed to overcome my fear, stop playing the "what if" game in my head (which I have banned from our home), and just take a step of faith and trust God. So...that is what I did. I got online, applied to an online community college, Joel helped me apply for Financial Aid, and now I am just waiting to see what God does with it. My Mom once told me that when you are struggling with a decision and you have truly laid it at the feet of God - let it go and let Him work. I have no idea if/when all the pieces to this puzzle will come together but I know they won't if I don't take that step of faith and start the process!

New Beginnings - in the meantime, yes I do need to eventually earn SOME money! So, after talking with a friend, my Dad, and Joel I decided to once again overcome my fear and do it. I have started the process to be a substitute teacher here in Delta County - in Colorado, you not only have to apply through the school district but also get a sub license from the state. Thankfully, I have had one before in Colorado and so other than updating my information the process was fairly easy but now I wait...I had interviewed with the school preschool director over the phone awhile back and that went well and although I didn't get the job she really wanted me to sub and spend time there for future openings - so, that is my plan!

I am choosing to overcome FEAR...embrace CHANGE...and look forward to NEW BEGINNINGS! It may seem crazy and illogical to turn away from job security in a field with my degree (ok, it DEFINITELY does) but for lack of a better way of explaining it, I am just having to trust that God's got this, He called us here, He has a purpose.

One side note: Delta has a HUGE shortage of quality childcare options. Every person we have talked to about needs in Delta County has brought this up. We believe that long term, our church plant will be able to meet this need and thus an additional reason I am pursuing the education and experience to be ready for such a time as that door may open. Pray for that!

Here are some ways you all can be joining us in prayer (be sure and join our church planting prayer team for weekly updates as well):

1.) Joel is already having meaningful spiritual conversations with the men at work. Several have expressed interest in knowing more about the church plant, why we would come here, etc. Pray for those doors to continue to be open, relationships to be built and more.

2.) Pray for the door to open for me to take these classes, financial aid to be available, to not give into the fear of going back to school (it's been 20 years!).

3.) Pray for lots of substitute opportunities in the schools that will lead to not only financial benefits but also meaningful relationships!

4.) Our family has begun the process to be a mentoring family to a local child in need. We don't have a lot of details but pray for that child, the process and our family to be ready to show the love of Christ!

5.) Pray for Hannah as she prepares to go with YWAM for 6 months - she still needs about $2500 in financial needs, she needs boldness and confidence.

6.) Pray for our other three to meet friends and have a great school year!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Heart to Heart....

So, I know that I haven't blogged about our move and our first week here in Colorado - I will I promise but for now...I want to just be open and speak from my heart to the heart of the average church member, the one who attends, helps out here and there but mostly is just in the background.

If I could sit with each of you, the average American church member, in your living room or mine - this is what I want to say to you....LOVE ON YOUR CHURCH STAFF, LOVE ON THEIR FAMILY, PRAY FOR THEM, LOVE ON THEM...this, this sums it up!

You see, just like in our American political system, often times it is the LOUD minority that is directing the goings on of the church - not the silent majority. I truly believe that the hearts of the majority of members within our churches are GOOD...they love the Lord, they love people, and they even love their church staff. The problem is that they don't speak up...mostly because honestly I don't think they know they should but also because they get busy, they are tired from just doing life. To go to that church business meeting - well that is just ONE MORE THING on the already booked calendar. Of course I think of my Pastor or his wife and I really MEAN to call them but then we are off to practice or a game or vacation etc. You know what...TAKE THE TIME! Your church staff and their families NEED to know that you are there. They NEED to HEAR you say you love them, to pray for them, to MINISTER to them!

Friends...our church staff and their families are on the front lines day in and day out. They are taking a beating from without and within the church. They are weary. They are worn, They are persecuted from all directions. They are suffering from depression, loneliness, hurt, anger, and more. They need friends. They need to know YOU CARE.

Just is what I have heard from minister's wives and families (and this is ONLY today, not what I hear on a weekly basis) - "Pray for (insert name) and his family. They just got on their feet after being discouraged by goings on in the church and now their family is the target of retaliation, bullying, etc from a family upset with the church."
"Pray for us. My husband was basically fired today - he resigned rather than get voted out. We don't have a plan."
"Pray for (insert name) our Pastor's wife. She hears daily criticism and judgement about her, her husband and kids"

THIS IS THE NORMAL! Do you hear my heart? This is happening EVERY DAY in churches all across America and it is tearing up our ministers and their families. Like I said at the beginning - I HONESTLY believe that this is NOT the majority of church members treating ministers this way - I believe that a VERY LOUD, minority is what is being heard and a VERY SILENT majority needs to speak up, love up, and ACT OUT in love to church staff.

It has been suggested to me through the years that I am bitter towards the church, that I focus on the negative, etc. Please please hear me and listen up to my heart - THIS IS NOT THE CASE! I LOVE the church, I love serving within the church but I also believe that some things (ok, maybe a lot of things) in our churches need to change and it begins with this - LOVE YOUR STAFF. This doesn't mean agree with them all the time, it doesn't mean don't ever question or challenge what they may say or suggest but it DOES MEAN LOVE!!!! Let them know that even when they are wrong - you love them. Show them you care by calling, taking them out to eat, dropping a meal by, babysitting for a date night, send them a card, etc. Joel and I have a heart for the church - if this wasn't the case, we would have walked away years ago...believe me, the money isn't great and the hours are far from convenient! However - that silent majority - THEY ARE WORTH IT!

From my heart to yours....if you have EVER wondered how you can serve within the church or how you can support it - make it your mission in life to reach out and serve, love, minister to those who minister. Be a friend to your pastor's wife. Send them an encouraging note every month to counter act those negative ones they are getting. SHOW UP at the business meetings and smile at them - better yet SIT BY THEM in the business meeting. Pray and ask God to reveal to you how YOU can LOVE your church staff and their families....I bet He will be happy to oblige!