Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A little dose of Encouragement goes a long way

It's time we get real, it's time we get honest - with ourselves and with others. Face it - no matter what sparkly, fun, cute things we post on social media, no matter how much we smile and say it's all going great, no matter how much we hold our head up....we all deal with discouragement at some point or another. It's there - whether in work, at home, as a parent, in our marriage, in our friendships, in our schooling, in our faith.

Let me be real, honest, and transparent with you - I have/am dealing with discouragement in many areas. I am not going to elaborate on them all but I am going to list them - not for sympathy or attention but to share with you that you aren't alone in this struggle of discouragement...

I have been discouraged in my parenting skills - or lack thereof.
I have been discouraged in our church and in the work we do.
I have been discouraged in my marriage/family life.
I have been discouraged in my home based business.
I have been discouraged in some of my friendships.
I have been discouraged in work.

You get the idea...discouragement can creep into any area of our life and if we aren't careful - it will creep into EVERY area! This is where I found myself recently - discouraged about just about everything! It seemed no matter where I looked - I was discouraged, even when in reality there wasn't anything to be discouraged about!!!

This fall, I have been blessed to be leading a small group of women in a Bible Study on Encouragement! Here's the deal folks - by nature, I LOVE to be an encourager, it is something that I am passionate about and that resonates in me. Yet, when you are walking around in discouragement - it is REALLY hard to be an encouragement to others! Trust me it's true!
Anyway - so this Bible Study is all about encouragement - I was really excited about it! Finally, something to get my head up, get out of the rut of discouragement and smile. It has done that BUT not in the way I anticipated...you see, my toes were stomped on right off the bat! I realized that I was looking for encouragement in all the wrong places, in too many faces (ok, sing the song you know you want to!)

I was looking for it from other people - friends, husband, parents, co-workers, ANYONE! However - the first chapter nailed it - GOD IS TO BE MY BIGGEST ENCOURAGER!!! Yep...He is the One who created me, formed me, gave me purpose and meaning, He is the author and creator of encouragement! And get this...He has been there the whole time waiting for me to look at Him, to see Him cheering me on and lifting my head up! Psalm 69:32 says "Be encouraged, you who worship God." He so longs to encourage and uplift us - we just need to look to Him!

Week two - nailed it AGAIN! The WORD OF GOD is a source of encouragement. YES!!! If I will run to His Word He has encouragement waiting there for me....I Timothy 4:13. However, I will never find this encouragement if I am not faithfully opening up the word and looking for it....

This is week 3 and yep...Hit the nail on the head AGAIN! We need to be encouraged and encouraging others in our faith. Romans 1:12 says " I'm eager to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours. In this way, each of us will be a blessing to the other."
Here's the deal - as women especially, we tend to talk about EVERYTHING under the sun; marriage, kids, work, fashion, vacation, kids' activities, school, etc EXCEPT - our faith. It was summed up best in this quote "how can you encourage the faith of your sister in Christ if you never talk about the faith you share?"

That's it - how can we possibly encourage one another in our faith if we aren't TALKING about our faith? We can't!!! This was my challenge this morning as I read through my Bible Study - to talk about my faith, to encourage others in their faith, to be drawn out of my world or as Nicole Johnson says
"I need to be drawn out of my own little world, and so do you. I see women all the time who seem joyless and lonely - I can see it in their expressionless eyes."

So, here's my encouragement to YOU:
Hold your head up high sweet mom, raise your eyes up wonderful wife, wipe the dust of discouragement off and look UP - to the author and creator of YOU! He wrote your story from beginning to the end before your first breath was taken. He loves you, He is cheering for you , He is there - raise your head up and be encouraged today.

Has it been awhile since you opened His word? That's okay - today is the day it is there, rise up go to His word and be encouraged.

Are you lonely and wondering if anyone notices you? That's okay - today is the day that someone notices YOU - I notice YOU because I see myself in your lonely and lost eyes. You aren't walking alone - you have others to encourage and love you!

Are you struggling in a weight loss goal? Think that there is just no way you can do it? That's okay - God says you CAN do all things THROUGH HIM! He's there cheering you on, encouraging you to get up and try again, He makes it possible. Phil 4:13

Are you struggling in a job, career or even a home based business wondering if you will ever get ahead financially? That's okay - God knows your every need and He is there. He's going to provide a way in the wilderness and do things that you can't even imagine. Isaiah 43:19

Oh sweet friend - let's not wallow or walk or remain in discouragement! Let's commit today that we are going to rise up, look to God, His Word and be encouraged. Let's resolve to be the source of ENCOURAGEMENT that is speaking louder than the voice of discouragement.

Be honest, be real, be transparent - how can I pray for you, encourage you and cheer you on?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Summer Time = Flexibility, Change, and Trust

It's been awhile...Okay, so like a few months since I have sat down to blog and well, that's just the way it goes in life at times. We are caught up in living life instead of documenting it! Ha ha! 

I have to admit, I have a love/dislike relationship with Summer! I really do! 

I LOVE that we have a break from the crazy school schedule, I LOVE that most days we are able to get off to a slower start and be laid back. I LOVE that there are different opportunities to serve and grow in Christ. I LOVE that many of our regular church activities are on "break" and we get to catch our breath. 

At the same time, I DISLIKE that we don't have routine. I DISLIKE that it seems like every summer we are faced with some sort of challenge financially. I DISLIKE that often times I find myself waving in passing between trips to my various family members. I DISLIKE that I can't predict when we are going to be thrown a curve ball. I DISLIKE not seeing my amazing PDO kids and co-workers regularly.

This summer has been no different but then again I guess it has! God is teaching me that I have to remain in Him, trust Him, and be okay when plans change. Let me tell you...at 40 years old and having been in full-time ministry for the past 20 years you would THINK that I would have these things down and be able to roll with the punches...NOPE! 

Here is how things have played out so far...Next week the hubby and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage!!! BIG DEAL people!! We had first planned on going on a getaway trip in June while our two middle kids were at camp, we would send the youngest to hang with grandparents in Aubree Tx and of course oldest is fine by herself. NOPE! Finances and unexpected health issue with my mom changed that plan BUT I was okay with it - we had a PLAN B! We rescheduled for August...more on that in a bit.

Next up in the change and trust department. Joel's parents were coming down for the funeral of his Aunt. On their way down they stopped in Santa Rosa for lunch. While there, his Dad suffered a TIA stroke - it only lasted about 10 min but by the time they made it to our house, he wasn't doing well at all. To make a long story short - it ended up that he had 98% blockage in his carotid artery and had to have surgery down here...what was supposed to be a 4 day trip turned into a hospital stay and a 12 day trip. We are praising the Lord that he is doing well and they have made it back home where he is recovering. However - in the midst of this Joel, the oldest, and youngest all had to prepare and go to camp. Made for a little bit of craziness...

Flexibility - well, we have been planning for months for our niece to come stay with us while her parents were on a cruise. Our whole family was excited about it and looking forward to it - however, due to the unexpected surgery with my father-in-law we decided to change those plans and so that was a bit of a disappointment - but the right thing to do for sure! 

Change of plans Part B...Remember earlier I mentioned the anniversary trip? We had rescheduled it for August. Well, again not anything that can be helped but my mom will be having surgery during that time and I definitely want to be able to help her and be there for her...so yep, flexibility. 

As you can see, this summer has not turned out to be at all what I had planned. I envisioned many memories made with  our oldest before she leaves for college, a great time celebrating 20 years with my hubby, fun times with parents and cousins....but IT IS OKAY because NOTHING took God by surprise! Not one part of it has taken Him off guard.

My mom's situation could have been so much worse than it was, my father-in-law had his stroke while in this area where we could easily be available and help and Joel's sister could come be there as well, my niece is able to spend time with her other grandmother, and well as for our trip...that too will happen when God opens the door and things are a little more settled. Finances are beginning to stabilize a bit but we do still have some struggles there but God has that too! 

You see, God has reminded me of a few verses in the midst of all this craziness. 

"No, in all these things we are more than victorious through Him who loved us." Romans 8:37

"Now to Him who is able to do above and beyond all that we ask or think according to the power that works in us--" Ephesians 3:20

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28

This summer I have a choice. I can choose to be angry, upset, disappointed, bitter, etc OR I can choose to be thankful, trusting, flexible and joyful. The first will lead to a miserable summer of just making myself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually sick. The second leads me to the cross where Jesus can bring me joy and courage and strength. I choose the second. 

I am not sharing this so you will feel sorry or to make others feel bad for me. Rather, I am sharing it because you see, in life we will ALL face times of change, times where we have to be flexible and times where we have to trust God's timing and purpose. We will all be faced with a choice of how to respond and we need to be ready to respond in joy, trust and confidence in our Savior! If you find yourself like me - in a place that is far from what you imagined - remember this:

Not ONE thing has taken God off guard, not ONE thing can steal our joy unless we allow it to, and not ONE thing or circumstance is out of the realm of our Father's loving hands! 

With that...I am off to face the rest of my summer in JOY because of Him!!! I don't have the answers, I don't know what else will come my way, I still have burdens and challenges to face but I know who holds my today, tomorrow and all the days before me! 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Of minister's kids and the like

Kids...they are the biggest blessings we have and yet they are often time the biggest challenge we face. We are given these precious little gifts, wrapped in cute little blankets, and sent on our way from the hospital with the ginormous task of raising them to be Godly Christian adults...YIKES!

I have debated many times through the years about this post, do I type it? Do I keep it to myself? Am I just looking for an excuse? However, recently I was reminded in a couple of different ways that people need to hear this - they need to see us as transparent and real so here it is.

Preacher's Kids, Minister's Kids, PKs, etc - Call em what you want but they exist! They are in the church, in the schools, in the community. Yes - they have a different life in some ways than the average kid. They are often the first to the church on Sunday and the last to leave, they are at almost every church event, they are often made to go to every youth event whether they want to or not. Many times, they have had to adjust to new schools, new towns, new churches so often they have lost count...And - they live in a fish bowl with anywhere from 100 to 500 or more people watching, observing, seeing if they will behave "appropriately".

Here's the deal - THEY ARE STILL KIDS! There, I said it - they aren't fully grown, they aren't adults, they are still learning and growing and making mistakes just like any other kid. Recently, in talking with a woman about an incident that occurred involving some youth in her community, one of which happened to be a pastor's son she made the statement "I was like come on Preacher boy - tell me the truth." So, what's the problem? Should he tell the truth - Yes, absolutely! Should he tell the truth simply because he is a pastor's son? Um....no. Telling the truth is an attribute we want in all kids - especially Christian young people but don't call him out simply because of his father's profession!

Another example, in ministry we often get "anonymous letters" from people that feel it is there job to not only tell us how to improve in ministry, but also how we should discipline, raise our kids, etc. Disclaimer - most of the time we do not read these said letters, they go directly to the trash - why? Because if you can't come to me in love and express your concerns in person then they have no validity - the Bible is clear about how to go to others. Anyway - back to the letters. This particular time, I opened it completely by accident. In it my children were accused of the standard things - you know, sitting in the balcony off to themselves, talking, running in the church, etc. Again - should my kids run in the church - um no, but should yours? Should my kids talk in church - of course not, but have yours ever done that? Do you see what I am getting at? Of course they make mistakes, of course I need to correct, guide and discipline them - but so should every other Christian parent and we need to do it with grace, love and compassion.

Let me tell you something you may or may not realize about minister's kids - they didn't choose their life. God didn't call them into ministry - although He may one day. The Bible does have clear standards for overseers and leaders in the church. I Timothy 3 outlines the requirements for minister's, servants, and leaders of the church. It does say that they are to be "attentive to their children" YES - we need to discipline, guide, direct, nurture our kids and yes as leaders we are to lead by example in this area but it doesn't say that our kids won't mess up. It isn't what our kids do but rather how WE as parents handle it that is the issue here.

So, why write this? Is for my own kids sake? No, although that would be an awesome side effect - my kids have been there, done that, got the t-shirt. They have taken the hits, worked through them and moved on. I am writing this so that others might be encouraged to look at the minister's kids in their churches through a different lens - one that sees them as kids that are learning. I am writing it so that minister's families can be encouraged to take a breath and not feel the pressure of having to have perfect kids. I am writing for those who are just beginning the life of ministry to know that it is really ok if your kids mess up...

Side Note: Not too long ago I connected via Facebook with a Coach's wife. As we began comparing life and stories we realized that coach's kids, teacher's kids, and minister's kids live similar lives - all eyes are on them. So extend a little grace to these kiddos too!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Don't let the BIG D win the battle

THE BIG D...No, I am not talking about divorce, or Dallas - I am referring to DISCOURAGEMENT. You see, discouragement tends to rear its ugly head at the most inopportune times, at least for me it does. Times when I think things are going smoothly, we are sailing along, there is joy, there is satisfaction...and then WHAM!!! There it is - DISCOURAGEMENT!

Recently, I have been reading a lot about JOY and what it means to have joy in our life! To truly embrace wherever we are at in life, whatever we are facing - to face it with joy and how refreshing this has been! I have loved walking this journey of joy...and then, somewhere along the way that sneaky little guy discouragement began peering his ugly head. At first it was subtle - just a small twinge here and there...like in the finances of having a senior and all the expenses that come with that...then the joy came back in realizing the fun and excitement. Then there was the small criticism of ministry...and then the joy came back in a parent expressing what a difference we are making.

However, last night...well last night that mean ole' guy discouragement reared up in FULL FORCE! Attacking one of the most delicate and sensitive areas of my life...that of my sweet special needs son. At the time, all the progress we have made this year homeschooling didn't matter, the fact that he is now reading random signs around town and stores vanished, or the fact that his self-confidence has improved tremendously..yep - out the window by one simple occurrence! He was playing with some other kiddos on the track during the baseball game - we still aren't sure exactly what happened but when it came time to leave he was down and upset. From what we gather - he was trying to be friends with some other Jr. High kids and they wanted nothing to do with him...

You do need to understand that he is developmentally delayed to some degree - so although 13 yrs old, he acts and socializes on a level of about an 8 to 10 yr old. So, he interacts like an 8 to 10 yr old...which doesn't always work with other teens.

So, back to that discouragement...we have seen SO much good come this past year of having him at home for school. He has really thrived - yet this one incident - one small period of time was a slap back to the reality of the situation: he doesn't fit in and now he is beginning to see that. Oh this mom (and Dad I might add) were faced with discouragement. Once again...

WE HAVE A CHOICE...wallow in that discouragement or stand firm and determine that JOY will win out! Philippians 4:4 says "Rejoice in the Lord ALWAYS, and AGAIN I say Rejoice!" Rejoice when you realize that the finances are short, rejoice when you are criticized for your ministry, and REJOICE over your special needs son and the life God has for him! This is my decision - to pick myself up off the floor, to hold my head high, to grab hold of my son's hand, and walk this life in JOY!

I loved how my amazing husband handled this moment with our son - he sat him down and didn't try to deny that he was different, didn't hide the fact that he wasn't like other teenagers but instead stated that GOD had made him just the way he is, that GOD had a plan for his life and that following GOD was more important than having lots of friends and "fitting in". He shared with him how much he enjoys that our son gets to hang in children's church and help with the kids. He was showing him how to REJOICE in who he is and to have JOY in the life that God has planned for him...

So...we can't let this D become BIG - instead we need to squash it with JOY!!! With that - I am going to hang out with my AMAZING SON!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Hey Mom! Yes YOU...What YOU do REALLY does matter!!!

Good COLD March morning! As I sit here all bundled up in my hoodie and working to stay warm on a day when the high is 36 degrees - my heart is full for all my Mom friends.

I spend about 75% of my time with preschoolers and their moms. The remainder of my time I am with my own 4 teenagers, their friends, their friend's parents, etc. As I have watched moms of children of all ages from birth to teen, as I have listened to the things they aren't really saying, as I have read the posts they are sharing, the ideas they are pinning to Pintrest - I am hit with the truth - so many times us Moms feel as though we aren't making a difference, we are just spinning our wheels trying to keep up, we are going through the motions and often have little to show for it...To some it up - we are wondering "Do I matter? Is what I am doing really important?"

The simple answer - YES!!! The more complex answer - YES!!! The little things you do everyday as a mom are really making a difference, they are impacting lives, they are changing the world, and they are making a difference in the Kingdom of God. I know, I know you are thinking "Seriously? Like how is changing the 5th dirty diaper today REALLY changing the world?" Here is how - you are showing an unconditional, sacrificial love for another. You are showing that even in the dirtiest of jobs - you can share love and care. For the mom who is dealing with a pre-teen child who is constantly arguing, complaining, cocking an attitude and you have grounded them for the 5th time THIS WEEK...You are showing that respect is earned, that consideration and kindness are essential in life, that one day a bad attitude could be the loss of a job.

You see - we have been taught a lie for many many years as Moms; actually several lies but one essential one that I was reminded of this week - we have been told we are raising children. NO!!! We aren't raising children - we are raising ADULTS! Yes, you heard me. Our ultimate end goal is not to have a well mannered child; when my daughter moves to college this coming August I am not dropping off a child. I am dropping off an adult. Friends - this is a game changer! All the sudden instead of thinking in terms of a well-rounded child; I need to think in terms of a God fearing, productive, responsible, trustworthy, educated, compassionate, loving, caring adult. Do you see the difference?

If you're like me, that just really overwhelmed you and maybe was even a bit sobering to you. Good! Because I want you to realize that this path of motherhood, this journey of raising adults, this season of life - it's important, it matters and YOU matter! What's really amazing about this journey though and what really is my saving grace - We aren't alone! God didn't leave us to walk this path all on our own. First and foremost - He is there, His Word is our guide. Second - He has given us friends to walk alongside us, to encourage, to be honest with us, to hold us up when we are weak, to join us. I am so very thankful for that aren't you?

Just this morning a friend posted an article to Facebook about being lonely as a mom - and yes, there are times that it just is lonely but it really doesn't have to be. You see, the thing about us women, us moms, is that we tend to believe that we are to have it all together - that we can't admit that our day is rough. We get on social media and we see these cute pictures and posts and we believe that if we are vulnerable and honest then we will be considered a failure or let down. The reality is this - those moms posting those pictures and posts, they have bad days too! Yep - secret is out! You see - Facebook would look A LOT different if we decided to just be honest and real. Yet - we don't and the result is that at the risk of being vulnerable and transparent - we hide, we isolate and we become lonely. Can I just encourage you? Be open, be honest, be transparent - you will be surprised at what a relief it is to you and to other moms around you!

Train up a child in the way he should go, Even when he is old he will not depart from it. - Proverbs 22:6

We are "training" our children - this means there will be successes but their will be setbacks. There will be good days and there will be bad days. It's a process - but the end result? That MATTERS and they need us in their corner from day one and for the remainder of their lives! 

So, here's to you MOM - YOU MATTER! 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

What legacy will I leave

Good morning from Chattanooga TN. Yes, you read that right, Chattanooga. Let me fill you in on why I am here and then I will continue with this post...I will do a 2014 recap later but this is what's going on in my head this morning!

December 29 my family and I were driving to Plano, TX to celebrate the New Year with my sister and parents when I received the call I have known was coming for several months - my 94 yr old Grandmother had passed away - just one week shy of her 95th birthday. This was not unexpected (seriously who's is at 94) but none the less a jolt. We continued to Plano, where we hastily made plans for my parents, my sister and her family and myself to fly out to TN at the end of the week for the service, while my husband and kids went back home to Levelland. Yes, we did still have a great week with family and lots of memories...but alas, here I am now in TN and today is the day we will reflect on the life of this woman - my grandmother.

So, on to the topic of this post. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit with my mom and her two sisters as they met with the ministers who would be officiating the service. They shared memories of growing up and tried to summarize the life of this beautiful lady in an hour to these two men. They talked of her zeal to live on the edge by going to nursing school and joining the Navy in a time when that wasn't all that popular for women, of her adventurous spirit in meeting and marrying my Grandad in 6 weeks time, of her sewing their clothes, and working hard to give them all the things she never had in life, they talked of her tenacious attitude, and how she would reach out to the down trodden.

Towards the end however, my aunt said "You notice that you are not hearing us talk of her faith in the Lord or how she pointed us to God. She was quiet in her faith - a believer but not openly." This is true in so many levels. To be honest, as a grandchild I have often wondered if she was a believer - I now believe that she was, but just didn't know how to live it out loud.

I would love to type a post about all the wonderful fun memories I have of her - but to be honest, I don't have a ton of those. In fact, I have really struggled with this because I don't have very many good memories of her - but that is not for now. I do know that in her own way, she loved all of her family very much!

Yet, listening to this conversation amongst my Aunts and mom made me think...what would my children say about me if they were sitting with someone who didn't know me and trying to sum up my life? What do I want them to say? Would I want them to share how I willingly moved too many times to count for a life in ministry with my husband? Would I want them to remember all the grand trips I took? Or even how I loved children? Sure, those are some ok memories but I would hope that there would be so much more to it than that....

At the end of my life - I want all who know me to be able to say, she lived her faith. There is no doubt in whom she believed and who she served. She openly showed her love for Jesus, in everything she pointed to HIM who saved her. I long for my children to remember times I prayed with and for them and pointed them to Jesus.

Now - let the honesty come right here right now; this is not the case. My children have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. They see me when I come home and close the door where no one else sees...It is in THESE moments that I want my faith to be real and to show these four precious ones my love for Christ! I have been hit hard with this the past 24 hours...My children are all teens and although much time has passed - there is still time to be open with them and let them know that I long to turn this tide so that behind the closed doors of my home, they will see my faith perfected and lived out.

Maybe you too will be challenged in this area. What legacy will you leave for your family? My hope and prayer for my life is to leave a legacy of faith that points to the glory of my King!!! With that - I am off to celebrate the life of this tenacious and spirited woman I got to call Grandma for the past 40 years!!!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Rough "Mom Moments"...

Going to be blunt here and yes transparent...it's been a rough "Mom" week. I hate having those rough weeks at any time but it is especially rough to have one during my most favorite season of all - Christmas!!! Yet, this is the reality of my week. Can you relate? I am sure if all of us were brutally honest - we would say YES!

Let me share with you my rough "mom" week...

As many of you know, we made a big decision this year to homeschool Tyler. It wasn't a quick decision and it wasn't an easy decision but it was one we knew as parents that needed to be made. Tyler struggles. He can only read at about a First Grade level, he has trouble connecting what he sees from one page to another and he just has to work so hard for even the smallest bit of success. This week, we were working on reading the same book over and over for fluency and to learn some more difficult words....and then, well he just hit a wall. He melted down, I melted down, it wasn't fun! Words that he had no issues with, were now some of the most difficult words to deal with. The simplest of words, to him were as tough as a 15 letter word. I began to wonder - are we making ANY progress? Is it even worth it? Why am I even homeschooling him - I am not a professional...
If you have ever watched your child struggle with school - you know how heart wrenching it can be. For me, to watch my 13 yr. old son work so hard at something that a 5 yr. old can do with no issues is tough!

Next up for the rough week - my daughter loves softball!!! We were first introduced to softball when Kestra was about 5 years old and she fell in love with it! As is common in a life of ministry, we have moved frequently and so at times she hasn't been able to play and certainly hasn't had the consistency of playing with the same team for multiple years. However, she loves the sport and we have tried to keep her in it whenever possible. She is a Freshman in High School and of course wanted to play softball! She enrolled in Athletics to play and we were told from multiple people that there wouldn't be cuts because there were never enough girls playing! At the parent meeting we discovered that wasn't the case...52 girls signed up for softball, only about 35 would make a team. UGH! Long story short - we found out yesterday that she didn't make the team. Here I am going to be honest with you - I was so disappointed and bummed - more than SHE was! Her attitude is "I will work hard and try again." My attitude was "Why? Why is it always our kids that get cut from a team?" (yes, we have had it happen before.) Her attitude was a lot better! Ha ha! Anyway, this was just a rough "Mom Moment" for me.

My heart has been heavy. With discouragement, with disappointment, with heartache. Yet, through it all - HE IS THERE! This is what I love about God...in our rough moments, He hears. He is there. He is carrying us. One of my life verses has been Jeremiah 29:11 - what I need to remember and you need to remember in the rough Mom moments is that this verse is not only for us - it is for our kids. God has plans for them. He knows. He has a future and a hope.

So Mom this is for you in your rough moments - no matter how big or how small...God has a plan for you and for your child!!!