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!