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Thursday, December 30, 2010


43 years in and I am heading toward a new year. Each year seems sweeter than the next. Well, at least it can when you aren't in the middle of a crisis. I am in a bit of a crisis. Actually, I haven't decided if it is a crisis or a "mesis". A "mesis" is different. A crisis is a predicament you feel trapped in by circumstances that are beyond your control. A" mesis" is when you trap yourself in a circumstance and don't allow yourself to get beyond the situation. With 2011 fast approaching I am struggling to make goals that I may or may not succeed in but always have fun reaching for and it is all because of this cri/ me-sis I am in.

Don't get me wrong I want 2011 to be all that God will allow for my life and those I love. In fact, I pray that my main goal is to let God reign in all that He has for my life in 2011 and beyond. But you see, I have been struggling this week. Something I had hoped would happen didn't and it has raised doubts that effect who I am. More importantly it effected where I thought God was leading.Of course you know there is only one thing I can say in such a predicament... thank God for Okies. I'll explain.

It is true that I have lived in Texas for over half of my life, but make no mistake, I am a displaced Okie. I hail from the great state of Oklahoma. My husband and children (aka The Texans) put up with me. My extended family still live in Oklahoma and many great leaders,writers, actors, athletes and let us not forget singers come from (sing it with me) O-K-L-A-H-O-M-A! It was by chance (hmmm) that I felt led to walk into a store I had never visited. Obviously, still in a funk over my whatever-sis I went and  was touched by what I found. It was an embroidery shop filled with every cute whatnot a woman could want. On the walls were little plaques with sayings. One of the sayings was from an Okie named Will Rogers. On the plaque were nine little words. It said, "Don't let yesterday use up too much of today." I needed that quote to remind me of something I already knew.

It reminded me of Paul. He had a lifetime of achievements that may have been squashed if he had lived in his yesterdays. When we read Philippians 3 we see Paul is not looking back. His eyes are focused with ONLY what is ahead. Why? I think God shared something with me a few years ago in my quiet time. When I read those verses in my quiet time that day, I was reminded that people feared him when he was first saved. Now walking with fellow Christians, it is totally plausible that Paul ran into people he hurt or folks who had been effected by what he had done before receiving Christ. On the day I read this I felt the Holy Spirit say, "What would have happened if Paul would have looked back and not ran ahead with me ?" I wonder if Paul would have focused on his past how very different his future would have been? Living in regrets there might not have been a missionary journey ... ever. He might not have spoken with such authority in his letters or stood before the various courts to share Christ.

When I read Philippians 3:13-14 I see those verses differently now. I see that we have to be "all in" with Christ. We don't make life happen, we just run in abandon with the Savior who does. The prize hasn't happened yet. THE PRIZE lies ahead. Mess up or not Christ still chooses you and me. He isn't finished till we see him coming on that cloud. Till then, we run!

Guest what? My whatever-sis still hurts. Guess what else? I have to lay it down. I have have run. 2011 won't wait and I don't want to waste this year because I am only promised one day at a time as it is. I have decided... it is 100% a "mesis".  Because while it is a crisis, I am holding it and not giving it to God.

What do you need to lay down in order to run with God?

Philippians 3:13-14 "Brothers, I do not consider I have made it on my own. But one thing I do; forgetting what lies behind and straining to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal to win the  prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from our family to yours! We are watching our four year old play with his favorite "present." It is a giant box that held his true gift. May you eat many cookies, laugh way too much, and celebrate God's love that came to mankind in the gift of His son.
God Bless,
Randy, Debbie, and children

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Who Has Time for Christmas?

I was a 12 year old waiting for Christmas Eve dinner at my grandparents. My favorite uncle had flown in from California. He'd flown into Oklahoma City that morning and my mom and I took him immediately to the mall for some last minute present buying. Uncle Joel was the quintessential "fun uncle." He always had a present, a smile, and would play games with you when no other grown up would. I didn't think he was ever upset until I watched the evening news that fateful Christmas Eve.

The kids and a few others were in the den watching the 6 o'clock evening news. Just as they were about to sign off they said, "some folks are a bit bah humbug this year." They then flashed to a segment in the mall. There they had earlier recorded my uncle who said something along the lines of he couldn't wait for all this to be over. He was tired and he just wanted to rest! He had said it so cross. There was silence in the room and then we all burst with  laughter! We knew his heart. He loved Christmas it was just that getting there that year was a little harder than usual. We all went to dinner where he was lovingly teased the rest of the evening.

I must confess that I am glad no one is interviewing me this year.  I don't know what I would say. This has been a rough December. There is a rumor going around that December started 19 days ago, but where it has gone, I have no idea! This weeks forecast isn't much better. It promises to be partly cloudy in my brain with a 100% chance of extra services. I think if I were interviewed I might say something like, "Who has time for Christmas? I'm busy!" Parties, life events, shopping has kept Christmas at bay!

To all you who may agree with me, I have a warning. Beware of a very real Grinch, who is always trying to steal Christmas. In fact, he is always trying to steal, kill and destroy anything that has to do with Christ. This year is busy. We went from zero to sixty as we as a body of Christ kept the church going. There have been school parties and youth parties at my home. We just decorated our tree Friday and we always have it done the first week of December. Financial choices have come into play this Christmas and we feel grateful for what God has enabled us to do this year.

Who has time for Christmas? You do, and if you are like me you might need to be intentional about making time this year.Spend sometime in your prayers today pondering the mighty act of God coming in the flesh. He was born in a stinky stable, wrapped in strips of cloth, and placed in a food trough for animals. Think about how God told Isaiah 500 years before Christ would come, where and who and how it would all happen. Imagine being on a hill on a dark peaceful night (just like you had 1000s of times before) when all of the sudden BAM! Angels appear and tell you a lowly shepherd  that a baby has been born and he is Christ the King! That story only reinforces my belief that God not only has a divine plan, but a sense of humor as well.

One of my favorite songs is "Who Am I" by Casting Crowns. Who am I that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, and to come to save me? Merry Christmas to The King of Kings who gives the greatest gifts of all. First he came to earth, second he died for our sins and conquered death. I can't wait for his third surprise. I know his  return will be amazing and I look forward to celebrating the true meaning of Christmas for eternity.

Isaiah 9:6b "... and his name shall be called, Wonderful, Counselor, the mighty God, the ever lasting Father the Prince of Peace."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Pumkin Cheesecake, Weight Watcher's Style

A new friend of mine, Sharon Baijense, sent this recipe to me. It was amazing! I met her at the writer's conference. She had lost a lot of weight and has kept it off for quite a while. I wish her all the best as she shares her story with others.

Pumpkin Cheesecake
1 ½ cups low-fat honey graham cracker crumbs (12 whole cookies)
2 Tbs granulated sugar
2 Tbs light stick butter, melted
1 Tbs water
2 (8-ounce) package fat-free cream cheese, softened
1 (8-ounce) package light cream cheese (Neufchatel), softened
1 cup vanilla fat-free yogurt
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree/fresh pumpkin
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 large eggs
2 egg whites
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

1.       To make the crust, preheat the oven to 350*F. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Combine the cracker crumbs, granulated sugar, melted butter, and water in a small bowl, stirring until the crumbs are evenly moistened. Firmly press the crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan and 2 inches up the sides. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes. Cool on rack.

2.       Reduce the oven temperature to 325*F. Put the fat-free cream cheese, light cream cheese, and yogurt in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process until just blended. Pour the filling onto the crust. Bake until the center of the cake is lightly set, 60-90 minutes. Turn the oven off and leave the cake in the oven 1 hour. (Do not open the oven door.) Cool completely in the pan on a rack, about 30 minutes; refrigerate at least 3 hours before unmolding and slicing.

3.       Great Idea:  For a crunchy cheesecake topping, when preparing the crust in step 1, make an extra ¼ cup graham cracker crumbs. Spray a small nonstick skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium heat. Add the crumbs and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool then sprinkle on top of the cheesecake just before serving.
 Per Serving (1/16th of cake):  211 Calories, 6g Fat, 3g saturated Fat, 0g Trans Fat, 42mg Cholesterol, 319mg Sodium,32g Carbohydrates, 2g Fiber, 9g Protein, 112mg Calcium. Points value: 4.
I found this recipe in WW Magazine Nov/Dec 2006 issue on page 141

Monday, November 29, 2010

Miracle on CM Allen St

Yes Virginia, there really is a Holy Spirit. This past Sunday was to be our last Sunday as a church body. We are a satellite of a larger church. Yet in true God fashion He came not too early, not too late, but right on time.

Christmas was taking a down turn due to the news of closing our doors. A meeting about our closing the church took place last Tuesday and a letter was sent out Friday for all those who could not attend. It was very sad. The people were in disbelief. I too struggled with what was happening. Although I understood because, like it or not, it takes money to do what we do. It made me think of a story.

Christ was walking in a crowd. He felt power go out from Him and He asked, "Who touched me?" The disciples laughed and basically said, "Jesus, you are in a crowd! Who isn't touching you?" A woman stepped up and explained that she had been bleeding for years. She had spent all her money on doctors and was still sick. She felt if she could just touch the hem of his garment she would be healed, and she was!

One small act created a mighty change in that woman's life. God is the master of doing mighty works through simple acts of obedience. So having a hem mentality is a must have, but as believers in Christ it can't be where we live all the time. We GET TO embrace more! At my church we also have a kingdom building mindset. That just means that we never forget that someone told us about God, and because He has changed our lives we tell others. We are that somebody. When my husband told the folks on Tuesday night that we were closing they asked him to please see if we could have one more opportunity to continue because they see that God is moving. Honestly, to me, it was like throwing a pebble in the water and expecting a tsunami to form... NO WAY! I had neither a hem mentality or a walk on water mentality. I had an Eor mentality.

My husband asked the lead preacher from our main campus for that opportunity. Bil prayed and prayed and (guess what) prayed some more. At 12:59 am Sunday morning my husband got a call, and was told to tell the church we could continue for a while to see how it goes.

My husband Randy stood up Sunday and preached one of the best sermons of his life. He just laid it out there and told our people that we have been given that second chance. We gave out commitment cards. He said today you get a say with your words on that card if you want to continue. But from here on out you will pledge with your heart, and your hands, and your tithe. He didn't say we can't live in a hem mentality. Randy said if the church succeeds it will be because we are obedient to God with everything.

I don't know if the church will make it. But it is great to be a part of these amazing folks lives. It is great to get a second chance. Simply put, the church always rose or fell on what the people did, but now they know it.

Last week I asked you the reader to pray. So thank you. We were given a miracle. This week I ask you to pray again. Pray that God leads this church and we do more than anyone could imagine. If we rise or if we fall God's lesson in all of this will not go unnoticed.

So raise your glass of lemonade and say a toast with me. "Here is to serving God. It is never dull. We learn so much and are blessed in ALL THINGS when we allow Him to be in control. It is often messy, many times joyful, and He always comes right on time."

Can you say you are content in all things?

Philippians 4:12-13 "I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


God is so amazing. This week He used a child's moment in time to sum up my feelings over the heartache of closing our church doors.

I was about to change into my morning clothes Monday. I was in my bathroom and my four year old was with me just talking away. When it came time to change my clothes, I hugged Jeremy and placed him in my bedroom. Now, keep in mind that I am the one locked in the bathroom and Jeremy is in my bedroom with full reign of the home. I stepped back into my bathroom and locked the door. My four year old ran up to the door and started banging on it yelling."Mommy help me! I'm trapped!" I'm in our tiny bathroom, but he was the one trapped in our 2000 square foot home! He went on to protest, "It's scary out here! There are monsters!" Of course being the super hero I am, like Clark Kent I emerged seconds later dressed and I swooped him up in my arms and told Jeremy it would be okay. I said, "Sweetheart, there are no monsters out here. Mommy would never leave you in a place that wasn't safe."

Nine years ago my little family of five came to this town and started a church. The church grew. Randy and I had our son Jeremy in this town. We have seen our four children flourish, and we have been so blessed by the many who have found Christ, and have grown in their faith. We have seen lives changed in our town and even across continents. We have done life with these folks. There have been weddings and funerals, babies, visits in jail, prayer with families on the edge, laughs at each others' homes, and tears in harder moments. Who were we that God blessed us in such a mighty way?

About a year and a half ago God blessed our church. We were asked to become a satellite of a larger church. That was a true blessing because our church grew in more ways than one. There was new a component to our family. It was amazing and like some uncle with exotic tales of Africa, the excitement and the love for reaching more for Christ was only strengthened. I hope you get to have the joy we have felt in this ministry. In just this year and a half of being a satellite we have seen 100's of salvations. We have broken an attendance ceiling, and have seen over 30 baptisms. More folks have come and we have loved being a part of such a great ministry. Becoming a satellite was not a mistake, because of who has come and lives changed.

I have said it before. But welcome to this ain't heaven. And even in the the most heavenly of circumstances, while on earth hard times can happen. The only reason we are having to close is due to our lack of zeros. In short, our tithe did not match our growth. Are you sad? You should be.

The main campus would love to help but they too are suffering from the recession. By the way, since this is my blog please let me lovingly remind you that there is no out clause for not tithing due to the recession. Randy and I have tithed in good times and bad and God has made all those times good. You can never out give God. I was reminded of that when we met with our church last night to tell them we were closing due to lack of funds. A beautiful young college girl shared that she knows about tithing first hand. She doesn't have a job but was given scholarship money. She tithed ten percent of that scholarship knowing she needed every dime. Guess what? God replaced it. In fact He exceeded it. Others shared similar stories.

I don't think it is God's will for this church to close. I don't think it is anymore His will than when the Lord led the Israelite people to the Promised Land and they chose not to go in. Their choices caused a wandering for forty years. It is a hard thing to know you have been blessed to love such wonderful people but that some struggled with their tithes and now the church will close.

Jeremy, my four year old summed up my feelings on this matter at the bathroom door. Like him, I want back inside my church door. I know it there, I love it there, and I do life (good, bad, goofy, amazing) with those people... my church family. I am banging like crazy for God to let us back in. It is scary out here! And where do we go from here? That is what we will seek to answer this Sunday.

There are a few pearls of wisdom in this. You can do everything wrong and you can still see 1000's saved over the course of nine years. God can take a wretch like me and connect me with other wretches that God now calls His princes and princesses and make a family that loves Him. You can make great choices and at the end of the day it turns out that though money wasn't all the preacher talked about; your tithe really did matter. Please pray for my church. I love them and wouldn't trade one moment with those who have passed by and those that have stayed. Pray for them. They are wonderful and they need a place to worship our mighty God.

Malachi 3:10 "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,that there may be food in my house. "Test me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it..."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Drive Thru Jesus

Oh, if only God were like a Spiritual Mc Donalds. I would order the Happy Life Meal. The kind that comes with a prize, and I would make that prize peace. I would super size my faith, and get a combo add on for anything I felt was needed or lacking. Then I could say "I'm lovin' it" and would mean every word. Thank you Mc Donalds for making that trip through the drive thru enough of a religious experience to warrant such grand dreams on my part. But life isn't always boxed up with the thought of happy being its full time description.

It does make me think that somewhere between prayers, God got my request wrong. He heard me clearly on writing, having four great kids, a loving husband, and wonderful friends. However, in the midst of all that marvelous, God has given me too many lemons in my lemon aid. I will tell you another time what IT is, but IT is somewhere between IT stinks and IT hurts.

Now that I think about it, I am sure He got my order all wrong. I wanted the Praise Jesus with the "no worries" on the side. Perhaps God misunderstood when I told Him to choose the secret sauce that only He knows would spice my life to its full flavor. When He asked if I would be paying or if I would allow His son to pay for my life, I didn't realize that I would sometimes struggle with allowing God to fulfill the order His way.

Frankly, I am too old and too tired to worry. God says it doesn't add a day to your life to worry. It does add wrinkles to your dermotologist wish list. Strip everything off of your life plate, and I hope you find God was carrying that meal all along. The Bible is for us to partake. Instead of it going to our thighs, it goes into our hearts. Life has both great moments and tough times. Do you want to know what gets me through the harder times? First, it is that God has never left me in a tough time. He breeds victory through adversity. The second is that He loves me. Love is the greatest thing we could ever want, and God is 1 Corinthians "Thirteening" my life all over the place. One last reason is that, like God's Word, He too is living and active in my life. Left to my own devices I would have never left my home town as a young person. I would never have had all that God has given me. Not these children, not this husband, and not these friends. Knowing all he has given me just makes me want to pass the drive thru and sit at His table and trust that He has the order of my life just right.

Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own insight."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Prayer Request

Hey everyone, I am taking a few weeks off (this being the second one). Please pray for me. I am knee deep in getting ready to leave for a writer's conference. I need more time and your prayers. Please pray God uses this experience for His glory. Also, please give a prayer for my husband and family too for safety and opportunities.

Much love and see you on the other side of the conference,

Monday, October 11, 2010

Do You Know How to EDITH?

PLEASE DO THIS...Recently I was watching the Today Show. October is fire prevention month. They had the most compelling story about how to escape a fire in your home. It was so moving that I had my family sit down after dinner and watch it on hulu. The video created some great discussions and a needed plan of escape. I was so moved that we are going to practice getting out of the house sometime this week. I hope we never have to use our new skills, but I am grateful we are now a bit more prepared. I hope you take time to watch this, and perhaps you and your family can create a fire plan.


Type in the following address to see:

Monday, October 4, 2010


Do you like to go to movies or plays? I do. I love to watch as performers unfold into a character or a performance of dance or song. I get swept up in the moment and I am taken away and inspired. I would say that the only thing that beats watching true talent that has been rehearsed over and over, is watching life unfold into God moments that go beyond what you knew to expect. That happened this weekend.

No great evangelist came to town, or 1000's saved... yet. It all happened over a little Homecoming Weekend in San Marcos, Texas. For all you non- U.S. readers, Homecoming is THE weekend of all weekends for High School Football and the town. Once a year, during the Fall, our football team hosts another team to play during Homecoming week. There are pep rallies, cheerleaders, music from the band, a bonfire, the dance team dances, coaches give big speeches, everyone wears their team's colors, and the list goes on and on. It is a busy week all leading up to the football game on Friday night!

Sometimes being the pastor's wife is super fun. Especially when you get to see other ministries that you are not involved in "do their thing." That is what I got to do this weekend with the youth group. Sure, I add my two teens and any friends they bring to the mix, but this weekend seemed different. Maybe it was all that school spirit. However, I saw another spirit moving ... and it was of the Holy kind.:)

Football games have 4 quarters, so our youth ministry hosted a 5th quarter. They had about 75 kids attend! That was great for our church. That alone was encouraging, but what happened next was also wonderful.

We have our youth group on Sunday Nights. We usually have a really nice attendance. This past Sunday we had 43 folks at youth group! It was really encouraging. There seems to be a spiritual movement afoot within the young people of our community. Teens are facebooking that Christ is changing their lives, they are inviting their friends to church, and teens are stepping out into leadership rolls. One parent told me that the coach on her son's football team asked him why he was different this year. The kid replied, "I've changed coach. Christ is in charge of my life." Wow!

One last thought about this past week. It did not happen in a weekend. Our youth minister and his wife could have been very tempted to quit 6 months into their ministry. Take the worst kids you know, triple their attitude and then make 2 more of them. Those were the ring leaders of the group at the time. It was a hard road that first year... that was about 5 years ago. This weekend was built out of time and relationships. When I saw this weekend and reflected on their ministry it reminded me of a verse.

Ephesians 3:20 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is in at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."

Don't give up. Run the race and you will see God moving in ways that are immeasurable. Immeasurable can be in an instant, but more than not it is for those who hunger to succeed over the long haul.

I want to say thanks to our youth leaders. I also want to give the glory to God for this weekend and thank God for all He did and is doing in the lives of our youth in San Marcos. Please say a quick prayer for our youth. Revival has been a long time coming and would change this town in a mighty way... no surprise that God would use the youngest of the town to do something this mighty.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


How to be the cool mom:
Let them stay up late, eat whatever they want, don't ask questions, allow them to talk back, give them whatever they want, hold beer parties for all their friends, make excuses for their behavior (i.e. it is just a phase), and let church be optional.

How to be a mean mom:
Give them boundaries, teach good meal planning, have conversations that ask questions, allow them to have input but never be disrespectful, teach them the value of money, take a stand against underage drinking and love on their friends, be consistent,hold them accountable, and model that worshiping God is a priority.

How to be the Meanest Mom FOREVER:
Let them stay up late, eat whatever they want, don't ask questions, allow them to talk back, give them whatever they want, hold beer parties for all their friends, make excuses for their behavior (i.e. he is tired), and let church be optional.

How to be the Coolest Mom FOREVER:
Give them boundaries, teach good meal planning, have conversations that ask questions, allow them to have input but never be disrespectful, teach them the value of money, take a stand against underage drinking and love on their friends, be consistent, hold them accountable, and model that worshiping God is a priority.

Motherhood is like being the president of the United States; it ages you! But along the way you get a lot of hugs with those eye rolls. I get so tired at times. However, I am in it for the long haul. I want to be the best mom FOREVER so that means that sometimes I have to be the "mean mom" now.

What's your mom advice?

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

Monday, September 20, 2010

Which Way to the Exit?

Pardon me. Do you know the way to the exit? I would like to exit out of this crazy life for a day or two. I have four kids, one husband, two cats, and a labrador retriever. Clearly I am out numbered. I sent up a white flag a few days ago, but it got dirty and it was up to me to wash it. I love my family, but I really do need a break. I think if a grown woman can lose her car keys (both sets) within a two week period, and still not find either pair after hours of searching today, it is past time to cry uncle.

I have had this one fantasy for a while. Yes, yes it is a deep ... dark... yearning. Some say it is impossible because I am married. Some say it can't be done... because I should think of the children! Even others say that I should not neglect the poor animals. But I say, "BRING - IT - ON!"

You want to know my secret desires don't you? If I tell you, you too may want to escape and go crazy in this radical move I am determined to fulfill. Nevertheless, it must be said! Hold on to your hats for the crazy/ wild fantasy that lurks within me! My secret desire is to, BE STILL! Doesn't it just seem like the most insane party time around? All the moms just went, "Oh ya baby!"

Oh I've tried this at home, but it didn't work. You see I want to get away! A few weeks ago my husband was out of town on a trip. I decided that if I couldn't get away I would just be still in my bed. I would have no agenda. I would just be still and let God speak, or not speak. I would just be still and see what there was to this time of not doing anything. So, I spread out face down, praised the Lord and set out to just being still. My goal was to have no agenda just to listen. It was really going well for the 10 minutes of non-interruption in my life. All of the sudden there was a wiggle and I knew my four year old had climbed aboard my bed. I thought, "That's okay... I can still do this... wiggle-wiggle... ignore the wiggles even though you have A.D.D. ... be still... be quiet... hey, is that a foot in my side?! Oh forget it." And that my dear readers has been the extent of my stillness low these many weeks.

I can't escape the need. It is like nothingness is calling to me and I have to get over hurdles to get there. I know Jesus said we would always have the poor with us, but I think he should, or at least could have said we would also have the laundry, the dishes, the sports games, the meet the teacher night and the list goes on ... ALWAYS! Don't tell me it is a season! This season has lasted 15 years and while my high school student is 3 and a half years from graduation, my preschooler has one and a half years before he even goes to kindergarten! Don't get me wrong I love this season. Let's just say that I have no plans to rival the family that has 19 kids and counting. I don't watch the Dugger family, but that Bobby Joe Billy Bob is one great dad and I am pretty sure he would watch all 21 kids (including his daughter-in law and granddaughter) so his wife could go be still!

Still... I'm sorry, I know I have said it way too much, but I am obsessed with the notion. So, before you call my husband to either offer a free nights stay somewhere or a call to a psychiatrist; lets explore why it is so amazing.

Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God : I will be exalted among the nations, exalted among the earth." This verse reminds us that while there are times we need to taken action, there are also times we need to sit back and reflect on God's goodness. And what about Jesus?! He was always making the time to be still and pray. He had this still thing down! Even when the disciples feared for their lives during a storm, Jesus was asleep chillaxin in the back of the boat just as clam as can be. He just stood up and told the waters to be as still as he was!

Yes, I am on a mission to BE STILL! Won't you join me? If I could I would start a movement! We would all go to the Embassy "Sweets" Hotel in my home town because it is the largest one that could hold us all. We would all go promptly to our individual rooms and be still. We would emerge two days later with what only comes from such stillness!

Look, truth is Christ didn't go to the Embassy Suites (although I am not going to tell my husband that when I pitch this idea to him) :). He just made the point to get still in front of His Father God. It is clear that I just have to make the time. Sometimes you need more than an anemic quiet time. Sometimes you need full on 24 hours or whatever it takes. You will know what you need, and even if you don't just get still. It was that stillness that led me to this need. You might just need a verse, or a whisper (done that/ been there/ hope to have that today). I'm just glad to be in God's hands. I'm thankful to have my husband just walk in and hand me my car keys that he found on top of my car! Being still comes in many forms. Even in the form of others meeting your needs. I WILL HAVE THAT STILLNESS, but for tonight I'm going to go kiss that key finder of mine. And I am going to thank God that, for at least in one tiny corner of my world, I can exhale and have the peace of GOING in my car, and GOING back home to be still when all are in school sometime this week. I'll let you know how it goes.

What about you? What has God taught you in the Stillness?

Psalm 46:10 "Be still and know that I am God."

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beauty is in the "I" of the beholder

What would we do without John Tesh? His 30 seconds of wisdom in between Michael Buble and Stephen Curtis Chapman must simply be heard! Take last night for example. He said, "Did you know that the average woman takes 73 minutes to get ready on Monday, but by Friday she takes only 19 minutes to get ready." I would like to call that "average woman" up and ask her how she finds an hour and thirteen minutes for herself on the craziest day of the week?!! Honestly, I think John might be onto something. By the end of the week I am "thanking God it's Friday" and I am ready to be done with the weekly grind.

The Dove company has actually launched a campaign on how we see beauty. I got an email about it just last week. Their target audience are young girls from all over the world. The Dove campaign says "Imagine a world where every girl grows up with the self-esteem she needs to reach her full potential." They are basically spreading the news that your outer beauty doesn't define you, it is what is inside that makes you truly beautiful. While I agree with the idea of what they are saying, and I love the marketing behind the campaign, I think as Christians we are given the gift of taking that idea to a deeper level. A level that is more than skin deep, or personality deep. We can take that message straight to our spiritual heart.

Let me start by asking the question, "How do you feel about your beauty?" Now that my friend is a loaded question! If you are more mature like me (doesn't that sound so much better than wrinkly) you may be feeling that your get up and go has got up and went on certain days. You might be thinking of that question in more of an overall sense of beauty; the sense of spiritual and emotional. Honestly, I think they all apply. Take your outer beauty for example. One of the neatest and hardest things about being in a town for years is seeing everyone age. It is great because you have a reference of what makes them who they are now. The heart ache is when you see what folks have become and it is not for the better.

We have lived and have done ministry in the same town for 10 years! No, I will not say we have seen it all because every now and then something happens, good or bad, and I find myself picking my jaw off the ground. A great example of that would be Erica (I bet by now you have figured out that is not her real name). I have known Erica for years. Her son and one of my sons are in school together. When we came to this town Erica was a real knock out! To say every head turned when she used to walk into a room would have been an understatement. She could have literally been on the cover of any magazine. She was in a word... sexy. Every step, every smile announced her beauty on the outside. I have had the great gift of knowing her, and having some great conversations with her. The sad thing is that she had all of that beauty and she didn't know how to guard it and use it for God's glory (yes I do think you can use your image for God's glory... we are his temple). Fast forward to 2010. Years of different men, drinking, drugs and struggles and this once incredibly beautiful woman is a mere shell of what she once was. She smiles and I see that sweet girl who still desperately needs the Lord and all He can give her. A few heads still turn but it is to use up what she has left. I wish I would have never seen that or several "Ericas" throughout my life time. I pray they find the love of God so the beauty of God's love in their life will shine through.

The love of God is the most powerful thing in your beauty arsenal. We have spanx to hold in what we don't want out, we have lotions to penetrate and lessen the signs of aging, and we have pills to give us more energy on the inside. None of that will ever make us as beautiful as the knowledge and daily presence of God in our life.

My grandmother was a beautiful woman. Though she was quite old when she died, folks of every age came to her funeral. Years of service and caring and living a life for Christ made folks come from miles around. The pastor had known my grandma for years and I will never forget what he said. He said that in all the years of knowing my grandma, she was, to him, the ultimate example of a Proverbs 31 woman. You know, he was right. To me she was very beautiful, but her beauty was stronger than head turning. It was heart turning. Every heart turned when she walked in the room because they knew who had just walked in... a woman of God. I would do well to be one eighth the woman she was when I get to be that age.

So what is important? Outer beauty or inner beauty? Honestly, the answer is YES! Both are important, but for different reasons. We need to love who God has made us outwardly and do our best to care for it. Outward beauty says 'HELLO' to all who come by. My friend Pam (okay that is her real name) and I have a joke. We laugh because when we were young and in school we would say, "Ugh! Let's never be those moms who wear ugly clothes, no make-up, and put their hair in a ponytail at the supermarket!" We laugh because we have eaten those words sooooooo many times! But really, on the whole... BRUSH YOUR TEETH... COMB YOUR HAIR! :) Do your best. Your best may not be super model best, it isn't even that way for most super models. Try your best for you! Your husband will appreciate it, your friends and family will appreciate it, but most importantly you will! You are a child of the King. So, why are you acting like Cinderella pre-Godmother? I'm too____________ and I don't have enough ___________, my _________ are __________. Listen, when we get our new body in heaven, I am getting second helpings on ______________. Till then, I am using what God gave me for His glory... even the stuff I have messed up and am working on.

Inward beauty is even more tricky. Because we can not go to the laser center and zap away the imperfections. Truly the Lord is the only one who can do that. If you are dealing with a lot of anger, let me suggest a book called "Good and Angry" written by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller. It is a great read that helps you deal with the anger in your life. If you struggle with self-esteem perhaps you can ask an older lady to mentor you. You could also visit sites like Andra Stephens Ministries to find inspiration. Mainly, spend time with the Lord. When you open God's word it is a love letter just for you! You are loved and that is the best esteem builder I know.

Mainly we need to realize that beauty is in the "I" of the beholder. How we see ourselves effects how others see who we are. Sometimes I am at the top of my game outwardly and inwardly in the area of beauty. Recently it has been more like Beauty and the Beast from both perspectives of beauty.:) However, I don't want to stay there and I won't stay there. I'll press on. I'll find what works both for my outer and inner beauty and use it glorify my Father in heaven. Today is a new day, and I can only change what I do for this moment in time, and when I do I want every eye that should turn (my husbands) and every heart to turn and say there goes a woman of God.

What do you think about beauty?

Proverbs 31:30 "Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised."

Thursday, August 26, 2010

L is NOT for loser

Have you ever had one of those days where life is good! You are in go mode and the check off list is past done. Why is it then that even on my best days, one little set back can seem almost catastrophic and send me into a dark place where a list of past failures pop up on the memory screen in my brain? All of the sudden this confident woman of God is a puddle of goo asking, "Why do you even bother with me Lord?" That almost happened for a few minutes last week.

Did you know that when children start school parents have to sign 9,642 pieces of paper? There are medical forms and media forms. There are pledges to do well in school that we all must sign. You have to fill out current living information, and sign papers that you have read and understand each class requirements. Now, just times that by four and you can see why I might have a hand cramp.

I thought our first week was going swimmingly until my oldest got in the car and told me he needed a form signed that hadn't made it to his teacher yet and it was due! You know it is crazy, but for a moment I didn't focus on the 9,641 papers I had signed. For a brief moment it was all about that one paper. That one paper sent me to a dark place that said lies to me. Lies like, "You have just failed as a mom" or "Remember, it is just like that time you...." Do you ever feel that way? Like you are not good enough? Like your house really is made of cards and it feels like it is crumbling around you? Hey dear one,don't believe that.It is a lie from the author of lies. I reminded myself of that on the car ride home.

Someone very wise once said that Satan doesn't know your future, he only knows your past and he tries to use your past to effect and infect your future. That is so true. Let's stand boldly on the fact that if we take our sin to God, He throws it as far as the East is from the West. And if we cast our cares on Him, He will carry those burdens. I don't know why we hold onto past failures (even when we think they have been put away). I know this, we don't have to hold on. In fact, God in no way wants us to hold on. He has arms open wide just waiting for you to cast every care His way and be done with them. You see with God, L is NOT for loser, L is for Loved One.

In Luke 18 Christ told the story of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector to remind us that no one should consider that they have arrived spiritually.That is a great reminder that will only make us better to serve Him. Sometimes we have the opposite problem of not feeling worthy enough. We wear a scarlet letter, whatever letter that may be.That letter may be from our past or a struggle in our present. Perhaps the letter is F for that fat girl, or it is C for that cussing guy. Whatever it is that has you feeling less than, God wants it, and He wants to rid us from the things that holds us back.

Many years and tears ago I had coffee with a very young girl. She was extremely beautiful. She was crying because she had just broken up with her fiance. He was a pastor and she said she didn't feel worthy enough to be a pastors wife (why are you laughing?). It was very serious. We talked about why she felt that way and it really came down to her past. I told her something that day that I not only believe but still helps me in my walk with Christ. I told her, in a loving way, about forgiveness. I told her that NONE of us will ever arrive spiritually. That is why we need Christ in our lives. I told her the day she could walk out her front door and boldly yell, "I am a big screw-up. But that's okay because GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY!" ... that would be the day she was free because she no longer had to carry what she was never meant to carry (her past and present pain).

Some folks don't even know they think they have arrived spiritually. They just know that they have "their group of friends" and would never miss the latest Beth Moore series. Both of these are not bad. In fact they're great unless an elitist attitude begins to emerge. You are growing in Christ... THAT IS AWESOME!!!!!! So what are you going to do about it? Who are you going to share Christ with today outside the context of your church friends?

Some folks never get out of the blocks of serving Christ with all their hearts. They know their life has sin in it so why share, or be more than they are now? Why? Because God saved a wretch like you and me! I certainly don't suffer from an attitude of arriving. I do sometimes suffer from an attitude of not feeling worthy. When I do, I remember that God is my heavenly Father. That is a very personal relatioship. Consider that just for a moment the fact that you are totally in God's loving care because He is your Dad. More Than "having your back", He has your life and wants us to run in full abandon to Him.

There are a couple of great books that might help you live a life that is growing in the Lord. If you are a woman, Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote an amazing book called "The Lies Women Believe." For men and women, Bil Cornelius' book called "I Dare You to Change" is coming out this week! It will be a great read that will be an encouraging challenge to be more for and through Christ in all areas of our lives. Being more isn't arriving. It is being able to go beyond our hurts and hang ups in order to follow Christ with full abandon. That is not feeling super righteous. It is about living righteously, and that is just where God wants us to be. Fully devoted to Him.

I usually ask a question here, but today I'm going to encourage you to spend some extra time praying and giving to the Lord what is holding you back. Give it to God and move forward BOLDLY through Christ! Stop believing the lies. Live righteously. Live in the knowledge of Christ. Seek His peace and the rest will come.

James 3:18 "Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness."

Sunday, August 22, 2010

New Beginnings

Some consider January 1st as the beginning of the new year. Frankly speaking, what are they thinking?!! Sure our calender points us in that direction, but I would have to give a motherly disagreement as to when the real year begins. Because, every circular filled with school supplies and last minute vacation get away packages would let anyone in on the real truth. In fact, I live in a college town, and just this week at least 30,000 returning and new students (and their families) have flooded our fair city just screaming that the real new year is about to begin. It is of course the start of school. Don't you just love the smell of new markers and erasers in August? Ah yes, the start of school is the mark of the new year around the Bryan home.

Just like any mother, I want my children to do well in school. That means we have to ready our home so their at home learning environment is at top notch capacity to supplement their education. So, in a calm and cool manner (much like at the airport) I pronounce three weeks before school starts that we have upgraded from a code orange to a code red. I repeat... CODE RED PEOPLE! We have strange new experiences headed our way, and forget about leaving your backpack unattended, just try to find it from three months ago and see if you left anything in it that makes it smell funny. Getting four children ready for their schools has been hard enough in the past, but this year has its own special challenge. This year all four children go to different schools. I have a High School student, a Jr. High student, an Elementary kiddo, and a Preschooler (hooray M.D.O.). Four kids at four different schools. What is past a code red?!! Yes! We must get organized. Where did I put my list of what to do?!!

Now, Professor Livingston had his jungle, and Amelia Earhart had her southern pacific ocean, but I have the largest challenge of all... my home! I am a saver. All the non-savers just moaned. They know. What do they know? They know that you might have spent 3.00 on that yarn, but if you haven't used it in three months it now sits by the extra box of paper clips you also haven't used that sits next to the coat that you are just sure will fit your third child this winter (that you held onto two winters ago). Please don't think my home is messy. It is usually clean (disclaimer: closets and half of the garage does not apply... saving may cause irritable belly aching from other family members). However, even the best clean savers must purge at some point. You simple run out of room to save the new stuff that you are just sure you will need. So, the real start of the new year, the beginning of school, always seems like the best time to me to purge and begin fresh.

Of course the sun shown through the windows and my teenagers hugged me and said, "Mother, we are ever so excited about helping you clean our rooms this year." Oh yes, then I woke up from my dream and into the nightmare that cleaning brings. How is it that teenagers can move three things around and look at you with a straight face and say they are finished cleaning? Finished? What about the stuff under the bed, the clothes that don't fit, and the stuff you don't use? Oh no! We aren't even close! Many time parents like to use the phrase, "it was like pulling teeth" to describe getting their children focused. This experience was more like pulling all the teeth while being tag teamed in a verbal wrestling match from the amazing Bryan Teenolas! On day three we finished both rooms just in time for school to begin. They will no doubt make straight A's... that is if they can find their stuff under the new piles they started today.

It was important for me to get their rooms ready. Maybe (when a mom says maybe that is code for IT IS the reason) it's because I just know in my heart that if they start strong they can end strong. I feel like if the outside is looking good it will give them an inner drive to be better inside.

You know that doesn't always work. There was a show a few years ago called The Swan. In this show they took mainly women who were not physically attractive by the world's standards, and did everything from weight loss to plastic surgery to teeth implants and turned them from "an ugly duckling" to "a swan." While most everyone loved their results, many of them still struggled with what they perceived themselves to be. Years of teasing and self loathing had made it hard to appreciate that God loved them as -is . I'm not here to really debate whether it was a good show or not. I do think it is interesting to note that without loving themselves, they still thought people saw "that ugly girl." More importantly, they still struggled with being "the ugly girl."

Sometimes we work hard at an outward appearance. We are productive on the outside so many perceive us to be together on the inside. At least we think that is what everyone else is thinking. Perhaps that is what the town thought of the Pharisees. All but Christ. Christ called them white washed tombs. They looked good on the outside but their inside was dead. Christ also told them that you must first wash the inside of the cup and not just the outside in order for it to be clean. Have you ever been there spiritually? You are on fumes still ministering, or should I say MINI- steering. The outside must go on, but you are in a low place just praying your long lost cousin has made a fortune and will share it with you... can I get an A-Men? You might be super busy for God. Others would say look how spiritual he/she is, but the truth is you are asking God if he would just stand over there. You are busy "serving" Him and simply don't have time for a quiet time with your Father.

While we, the teens and I, were cleaning their rooms, it became glaringly clear that the person who wanted their rooms clean did not even live in those rooms. Was I right to have them clean? Yes, because sometimes persevering makes way for easier cooperation next time as well as a hope and a sense of accomplishment. It's just that I can not fool myself into thinking that - that one act alone will bring straight A's and a new desire to be organized. That comes from the heart. I can pour into their hearts, but ultimately it is they, through Christ, that must make the heart choices. Which leads me to ask a question to you. What heart changes do you need to make to have a great life inside and outside?

We simply... I simply... you simply can't have a new beginning at anytime of the year if we are cluttered by our past. What does that look like for you? Do you have an old friend that did you wrong? Did you do them wrong? Did something happen to you? Did something not happen to you? You see, whatever it is or was, it is ourselves at this point holding up the new beginning. Until you let go of what is in your past it will forever shape your future. We, you and I have to clean out the inside of our hearts to make room for what God really wants us to hold dear. We can no longer save old habits and heartaches that bind us. New beginnings are not the end result. They are a cleansing of sort. A cleansing that starts by working through the filth in order to find the jewel that lies inside through Christ Jesus. I would like to urge you to take sometime today and do a little cleaning. Frankly, what have you been waiting for? Do you think it will get easier? Most likely it won't. Those three days with my teens were tough. Neither of them called their friends and said, "Oh goody! My mommy is helping me make my room super shiny!" But was it worth it? Well, what would happen if we did not? Stuff from my son's 6th grade would still be in his room as a freshman in high school.It would be an atmosphere of bondage of sort; bound by past clothes and clutter. You deserve so much more than past hurts and excuses. Start your new beginning today.

What is God showing you?

1 Corinthians 11:28 "A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup."

Friday, August 13, 2010

How's it goin'?

I am sitting in Parker Colorado. I'm here leading a parenting seminar. I love what I do! It is great material written by great people. Here, I have exhaled and I am resting for tomorrow. However, in all truth this has been one of the worst weeks in a long time. I think it really hit as I boarded the plane today. The flight attendant took my pass, smiled and said, "How's it goin'?" I thought, How's it goin'? Then, in the sum of 3 seconds my mind flashed on the past 72 hours.

I was thinking, How's it goin'? Well, our one and only family vacation went from three measly days to one day as an entire family. We stayed at a State Park on the hottest week of the summer in a shelter (no really that's what they call it) with no air conditioning in what could only be described equivalent to Dante's 7th level of hell. That put us all in a "charming" mood especially the three year old who finally got to sleep at 1:30 am only to wake at 4:30 due to the heat.I cooled him off and Then I couldn't go back to sleep.(At least the next day the half that stayed moved to a cooler cabin.) I spent a long three hour drive back home with my oldest on a winding road only to clean the house for a weekend guest that was coming, packed for my flight and made sure my church ministries were covered. My husband called and we had a fight. My watch, which is never slow, was 30 minutes off! I then realized it was not an hour and ten minutes till my flight, but 40 minutes and I was not at the airport yet! I parked in long term parking and missed the shuttle. Afraid I would miss my flight, I chose to run, in heals, in the heat of the summer. I ran the equivalent of two and a half football fields to get to the airport. I then went upstairs to discover I was on the opposite side of where I needed to check-in. I ran some more. I got my ticket and went through boarding. Of course I ran to the terminal, which of course was the last one at the end, and had minutes to spare before they started boarding. How's it goin'?!!!

Then I thought again. It was really hot on our family trip and I am sure it will go down in the Bryan family history books as "that hot vacation." I'm sure we will laugh about it when it is not so fresh. I thought even though Jeremy (the three year old) was hot he loved it and I am sure he is going to be an outdoors man when he grows up (with plenty of liquids). We had so much fun swimming together in the river and having a picnic on the banks. I thought that I was glad we went to the dance that Garner State Park holds every night under the stars. It made us smile watching our nine year old dance with at least 9 girls; all who were a foot and a half taller than he was. We saw our daughter dance and I liked watching my husband as he stared down every young man that asked her to dance. I thought that while I didn't like the winding drive, I loved the small towns and found one for our next anniversary. I also loved the time with just my oldest son who is growing up way to fast.I thought, oh how I love cleaning the house... okay I didn't think that, but I do love our house guest. I am sad Randy and I had a fight, but I thank God we have God. We will work it out because I love him and he loves me, and we love God who loves us. I thank God because I got a call in the car on the way to the airport from a lady whom I haven't heard from in a long time. She called to thank me for the time I mentored her family. She thanked me for the parenting help, and said their marriage is better because of the time I spent mentoring them. I thanked God that I looked at my car clock and realized I had just enough time to book it to my plane. And I thank God for the blessing of doing this parenting seminar.

I then snapped back to reality to find the man smiling at me and waiting for my answer. I smiled and said, "Fine thank you." I said fine, but which one was it? Was it fine, or was it really cruddy? The truth? It was both.

Welcome to "This Ain't Heaven." Population you , me, and everybody else. Sometimes it is just tough and that goes for church families too! Say, do have directions to that place where there is no more gnashing of teeth, and no one cries, and all bills are paid? You do?!! Me too, we are just on a waiting list that will come both too soon and not soon enough. So what great wisdom can you gain today from a lady who is still obviously in a funk? Should we learn about what it says in Romans that all things work to the glory of God for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose? No, you know that. I bet you also know to consider this hard time joy because BOY HOWDY I am going to be one persevering woman when this is all not so fresh! Should we learn that all pastor families should take their vacation immediately after school lets out? Yep, that's a good one. We need time together. We need just us time and I am already starting to get really stingy about Spring Break!

Perhaps the best thought I can share as I sit huddled in my little corner of the hotel is this. Where does my help come from? Where do I go when I am running in the heat thinking why did I wear heals for strangers I will never see again in an airport? Where does my strength come from when my family has zero joy in the 100 degree plus shelter and togetherness is only making it hotter? Where is that joy when my husband and I are both angry and I have no answer that satisfies him, and he has no hope as I have no answer that will satisfy his question? Where?

My hope comes from the LORD. Because my daddy is bigger than you, you rotten week! I want God to hold me and make it better, and I know He will because He always does. God loves us. Pealing back the layers of the worst of this week, and the best of this week I find God with me in everything. Thank you God. Not because it is always perfect, but because you are always there. You are enough and I am climbing slowly out of the pit with your help. Thank you for giving me strength... I frankly don't have any today but yours.

How has God showed His strength to you this week?

Psalm 121:1-2 "I lift my eyes to the hills - where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth."

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Loving the pastor ... and I'm not talking about the sermon

Warning! This post is rated X. As in X-tra fun, X-tra exciting, and is considered a little X-tra grown up and an X-tra must do for all you who are married to a minister! This past Saturday I had some errands to run, and to my great joy, no children came and I went ALONE!Yes, it was then that I turned my radio up, put my air on full (which isn't hard to do being in south Texas), and drove with a fierce attitude that made me feel like I was in a sports car! I said 'like' a sports car.  I have a mini van. Yes, I work that mini van and I look good in it! (P.S. Soccer moms rule! :)) I was having a great time singing along with the radio. I started singing a love song, and it made me think of my husband.

Do you know this past June marked our 18th wedding anniversary? Marriage to any person can have its own set of challenges. Tommy Nelson in his book Song of Solomon talks about marriage and the joys and pit falls couples have. It is a great read. You can also check it out on the web. Pastor families are not immune to pitfalls. When we aren't busy being holy 24 -7 we may fight um-er discuss our finances, children, want for children, and a myriad of other regular folk issues that come knocking on our home life. However, I've heard it said that some pastor families even fight about church! But since that isn't you, thanks for reading the blog and I will see you later!

... Oh, are you still here? Well, since I am one of those families and you must be too, let's keep going.:) Hey, do you know that it is pretty normal to have church as a major part of your lives and conversations? You are the pastor family cheer squad yelling out to the community, "GIVE ME A C(c), GIVE ME AN H(h), GIVE ME A U(u), GIVE ME AN R(r), GIVE ME ANOTHER C (c), AND GIVE ME AN H(h)... WHAT'S THAT SPELL?" And the community yells back, "Something we like go to if we aren't at the lake this Sunday!" :) Just Kidding! Hey we all have amazing folks who serve. I am truly blessed in that area. We are still relating to people. People who just like us have real hurts and needs. We all have folks who come to church and are just hard to work with. If you have ever felt like you have wanted to hand your husband a hard hat to get through the post service hand shake or special meeting, then you know what I am talking about. At this point I think, "Why do I give him any trouble at all?" He is busy doing God's work and I need to support him anyway I can." Then I remember... "Mr. Holy" hasn't mowed the lawn in two weeks and the toilet still doesn't flush well! I tell him how important these things are and he has the nerve to reply that he has been really busy at the church! I then remind him of that great scripture found in 1st Debbie-Hesitations that states... "Our family needs you more! So what-cha gonna do for us Mr.? Huh?" Okay, that isn't a real scripture. I made it up, but when I quote it - it sounds very official. Actually, Randy and I don't really fight that much about church. He has a pretty healthy balance between family and work. There have been times, especially early in our marriage, where we had to work through some rough moments, but I think we have learned some valuable lessons. So, LET THE FUN BEGIN!!!

Rated X Couple Advice for Pastor Families:

1- Pray X-tra hard. Do you know what the number one best thing my husband has ever done hands down about his ministry? Not he, but WE PRAY for each calling God has led either of us to do. That is the singularly most powerful weapon in our ministry. When we have felt led to go, we pray. Do you know why that is so awesome? Because when I am overwhelmed, or hurt and I call it "his ministry", he reminds me that WE PRAYED and were in agreement to come. Do you know what that does for me? It makes me feel like he is right! His ministry wasn't forced on me. There was no announcement and like a dutiful wife I followed. WE PRAYED. WE felt God's call. WE came. So take that Satan! We a band of 3 (God and us) are in agreement. Prayer is powerful. Don't stop praying together. Maybe you're mad at your husband or you just don't pray together much. Pray anyway. Pray alone... together... just pray. Times may get hard. God is NOT saying, "Sorry bud you are on your own." Instead, God tells us to ask. And how does He give? He gives ABUNDANTLY. Start with prayer.

2- Take X-tra time just for you two. Set time for just you two. Now if you are going to complain about how you can not do that because you have preschoolers. Let me just say... you will get no sympathy here. I have had at least one preschooler in my home for the past 14 almost 15 years of my marriage. True, the clouds have parted and my teenagers help watch #4 so dad I can go out. Still, teens are busy and catching them to help can be tricky at times. So, put them all to bed early and go on a date in your room, or outside, or watch a movie! Some churches have what they call connection cards. The cards are meant to connect people to ministry. You signed a verbal connection card when you married. You promised to love, honor, and cherish each other. Let me just tell you, you will feel a lot less angry about him serving if you are cherishing each other. So make your time together a priority. Go to lunch, or wake up early on Mondays. Make the time.

3- Be X-tra brave, counseling isn't for sissies! Once, I was at a pastors forum led by Rick Warren. I could not tell you the 10 plans for starting strong, or what every church needs on Sunday morning. What I do remember is what he said about his relationship with his wife. He told those pastors to work hard on their marriage. He said that when they were first starting out, his wife and he were in a rough place relationship wise. He said that they maxed out their card getting counseling (or something to that effect). His point was do whatever it takes to be strong at home so you can be strong in your ministry. Go to a marriage retreat, talk to an older pastor couple, or get counseling! Getting healthy is brave and scriptural.
1 Timothy 3 talks about what a leader looks like.

4. Both should be X-tra supportive: I was at a church planter's wives retreat one time, and this wife was complaining about how much time the church plant took. All the young wives were thinking, "Preach it sister!" All, but the older wife who was years down the road. She said, don't hate this sowing time in your ministry. Support him. If you were starting a business, or doing anything from scratch or for the first time, you would need to invest to see a harvest later. She knew what she was talking about because she and her husband are really blessed by their early years of ministry. When I went to a conference last February, Ed Young Jr. held up a bottle of Gatorade. On it he replaced the label and it said "Hatorade". It was funny. He went on to talk about not listening to the three folks who are complaining when you have a congregation full of folks who are not drinking the Hatorade. :) Look, it can be hard, but don't drink the Hatorade to your husband about the church. If you have concerns remember that a gentle answer turns away wrath. Find a way to support each other. Speak your needs, meet each others needs, but respect what you have both been called to do. We no more want our spouse to criticize us for what we do or don't do than they do us.

You are NOT X-Tra. When the church hired your spouse you wore your nicest outfit and smiled for the cameras. I like to say that pastor spouses have a calling, but no job description. That may or may not be true, but one thing I do know is that being the pastor's spouse is most definitely not your only ministry. Guess who also is a child of God and has a ministry? It is you! You are important! Your ministry is not confined to jobs no one else wants to do. You have a calling, a ministry all your own!!!!!! Isn't that great? We have a place! Maybe we serve a lot or a little but we have a place. If you serve a little don't do that out of anger. Maybe you have a special need that keeps you from serving, and that really is understandable. My friend who is a pastor's wife has three children. One of them has an ongoing life challenge. She is busier than I am at times. That is saying a lot! And don't serve so much that you become an angry - servant. Truth is there is never a balance, but remember who you serve. Here is a hint it isn't your husband or the church. If you have no clue what to do than make horrible, sloppy, messy trials and mistakes till you do know where your fit is in church. We are meant to worship the Lord and one of those very important ways is to tell others. How do I know it is? It was the last thing Christ said as he went to heaven. Serving is both our worship and our declaration to others of our loving God.

Give that X-tra that only you can: Guess what? Black lace, candles, and alone time never make anyone want to talk about the church. :) Time together brings needed intimacy and makes your marriage strong. My web site is pretty G rated, but please let me say this to you. Sex is the one thing that only you two can share. No deacon or elder meeting can vote against it. No one, including you, should shy away from the power of being together. There are moments when we all do this poorly. "I have been working all day, and I had kids, and blah - blah -blah." You need to be sensitive to each others timing and needs. With that said, I discovered something powerful. Love making isn't a duty, it is something for both of us to enjoy. It is like staring at the same glass filled halfway and instead of seeing the problem with the half you can't drink you see glory of the half you can. That is what I was doing when I was listening to the song on the radio the other day. It was a love song, and I was thinking about my husband whom I love very much and the gift we have in our marriage. Husbands need sex. In fact, it is one of their top needs. Women need emotional love to show love. Why did God design us like this? Hey, it is on the top of my list to ask when I get in heaven. I would say this, I think that sex is the most emotional way a man can show himself. I think when a man makes love to his wife he is putting himself out there and asking you his wife to accept him at his most emotional and vulnerable level. And here is the kicker. When love is a part of love making, it is at its finest and the two of you are unstoppable in many ways.

I bet you have found great ways to celebrate your marriage. What do you do to keep your marriage strong? Maybe you are hurting right now. E-mail me. It is on my contact information. What have you done or are doing to make being married to your pastor husband the best it can be? What is he doing? Work at loving each other and you'll love the pastor you married.

"How beautiful you are and how pleasing, O love with your delights!"
Song of Solomon 7:6

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Live Long and Prosper in Your Ministry!

All right! It is time to get your Sci-fi on! Pull up your polyester pants, and adjust your horned rimed glasses as I take you on a trip through time and space back to 1975! I was eight, and there were exactly four channels on our TV. Most had boring stuff on in the afternoon, but not NBC and ABC. That wonderful time between 3 pm and 5 pm held the jewels of reruns! There was Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch, and of course the "piece de resistance", STAR TREK!!! If you were to check my profile perhaps you would note that I am a closet sci-fi nerd, and I credit Star Trek with the green lady, and the phasers set on stun for making me that way. Now don't get worried. I don't go to conventions, or have a poster of William Shatner. I just appreciate their creativity.

Like many of you, I have my favorite Star Trek characters. However, my most favorite of all was Scottie! I thought he was so cool with his accent and red shirt! He was always saving the ship from emanate peril! The Klingons might be attacking and he had to keep the shields going. The best was when they were trying to outrun another ship, and Kirk would say, "Scottie, I need more power!" Then Scottie would say those famous words... "I'm giving her all she's got Captain!" WOW! Weren't you just on the edge of your seat?!!! (You were if you were eight.) I mean, if Scottie blows it they are going to die!!!!! Somehow - someway it would all work out and then Scottie would give that dramatic look and big sigh that seemed to let us all know that he knew how close they had really come to destruction! Hey... are you allowing your "inner Treky" to feel the moment? :) An interesting note is that the TV series ended in 1969 before going into syndication. One year later when the real space mission, the Apollo 13, went into outer space they could barely get anyone to watch it, until something horrible happened.

Truth is, the most amazing space story is not science fiction, but it is the Apollo 13 Mission. A movie was made about these brave men, and their dutiful team on the ground. Apollo 13 was the fifth mission to the moon, and frankly most people weren't tuning into watch. That was until word came that there had been an explosion and their oxygen was now compromised! That is when Astronaut Jim Lovel said those famous words, "Houston, we have a problem." Suddenly, NASA and the men in space now had the attention of the entire world. The story is harrowing, and there were many moments filled with tension and concern if they would make it back home to earth at all.

Back on earth there was a man at the controls. His name wasn't Scottie; it was Jerry Woodfill. He wasn't a Christian at the time, but 18 months later he found himself asking Christ to be the Lord of his life. He accredits all he saw during those three scary days to turning his heart toward God. He said that he had data he shouldn't have had that helped the men stay safe. When the air quality was dire, they fixed the astronauts ability to breath by coming up with an ingenious creation made of suit hoses, cardboard, plastic stowaway bags and CSM canisters that were all held together by duct tape (duct tape that had been left on the ship by "mistake"). Jerry watched people pray, and was amazed how the the astronauts and the ground team seemed to make the right calls even when they were just guessing. The astronauts didn't know how to chart a coarse back to earth because the main navigation system was down, but hidden in the controls was an old program they had forgotten about until just when they needed it. Even the decision to use a smaller engine proved to be the right choice. If they would have used the large one, the men would have died on entry.

I was thinking about these two things the other day, and they inspired me with the thought that average isn't average. In ministry it can sometimes seem like we are on a treadmill. We are going and going and yet we are never quite getting there. That is why when we finally do reach a point where things are going well, we try to keep it just the way it is. The problem with that is that things never stay the same. So, someone moves away and you think, "Well, that was just one person helping." You might have to change worship times and you think what I did worked before so I'll just keep doing that, and yet you see a different set of results. Hopefully before, but defiantly when you reach the point where you can worry or pray you say, not Houston, but "God, we have a problem."

The pressure to produce results can seem overwhelming. You hear the church or your captain the pastor saying, "Scottie, I need more power!" And you desperately say back to the person or situation, "I'm giving her all she's got captain!" Perhaps it is best to to think about what Jim Woodfill discovered.

Average isn't average

Expect Change, and then change: Philippians 3:12 says, "Not that I have already obtained this, or been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." (Paul speaking about not any of us thinking we have arrived spiritually.) The astronauts had a mission to land on the moon. When their panel blew, their new mission was to make it back alive. In our ministry we can never assume we have arrived or that it is just perfect the way it is. Satan is prowling around looking for that one little chink in the armor. When I was a teenager, I went on a mission trip. We were helping at a Christian community center in another town. The center was an old church that had been donated to the Christian organization. The minister took us on a tour of the three story church building. When we got to the third floor, he showed us the bathroom and said that at one time there were so many people that attended,that the church members had to take out the toilets and turn it into a Sunday School room. He said when they finally gave the church to the ministry, they had seven members left! "What happened?", I asked. He said that slowly over time the dynamics of the community changed and the folks who went there did not embrace the people who moved into the neighborhood. Many moved away, and after time the congregation dwindled away. We have to change because people and circumstances are changing all the time. We should always be asking, "God, where are you leading?" You might be struggling right now, then change it. Not by what you have been doing. Set a new course.

If I Only doesn't get you far: Do you ever find yourself thinking, if I only had more workers, or a bigger budget, or ____________? If you have ever thought that, then move over... I am right there with you.:) We have real needs, and can't figure out how to make it work. Sometimes it can seem that everyone is on the wide road and you are over there all alone on the narrow road yelling, "Come over here!" But what if I told you, you have everything you need to make it work? The astronauts could not call the fix it shop. I'm sure they were thinking, "If we only had a new CO2 regulator, a new panel, and a myriad of other items" They did not and no one could bring it to them. What did they have? Just what was on the ship. More importantly they had the Lord, and a desire to succeed. Having a desire to reach people and make your ministry the best it can be is so important. Excitement is contagious, and it drives you to be the best you can. Your best may be a budget of thousands, or (more likely) you may be like the astronauts and have enough for duct tape and hoses. None of this has caught God by surprise. What does God own? Everything. What can He do? Anything! Maybe you need to work with what you have to get where you need to go. God has called you. He loves you and knows you are up to the task. Better yet, maybe you need to stop staring at what you do not have and ask God to allow you to see what you do have through 'new eyes'. Job 42: 1-2 says, "Then Job replied to the Lord, I know that you can do all things; no plan of yours can be thwarted." Philippians 4:13 says,"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." God is I AM.

God is enough: When I was a church planter's wife I saw churches start and grow to thousands. I also saw many church plants fold after a certain amount of time. What made the difference? Would it surprise you if I said that it could be based on choices and leadership, but maybe the difference was nothing at all. God has called us to do His work. He does not send an e-mail outlining a thirty year plan. We should ALWAYS give our best and work as if what God has called us to will always be. That said, when times are tough or not at all. God is there. No soul saved, or person mentored, or life touched is a waste. What we need to hold to in ministry is the knowledge that because of our faith in Christ because of what he did for us, our lives and our eternity is changed forever. For that, I have to give you a look just like Scottie would. A look that says we can now stand before the thrown of Grace. We have dodged an eternal bullet. That makes me want to "Give it all I'VE Got through Christ!"

What ways has God showed you that He is enough?

Philippians 4:19 " And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus."

Thursday, July 29, 2010

God's Child: AKA "The Crazy Donut Lady"

Every pastor's wife has one. If they do not have one, they soon will. What is it? I will give you some hints. It is something that, at first, every pastor’s wife wishes she did not have, and ends up actually glad she does have. It is the equivalent of a fisherman’s tale with one great exception. The pastor’s wife does not have to exaggerate. Everyone is different and yet we all feel like we can relate. Have you guessed what it is yet? It is a story from their ministry. Oh, but it isn’t just any story. This is a special type of story. It is a story so zany, so bizarre that, if you were not in the ministry, you would almost find it too hard to believe. Yes, it is the type of story that when you tell it, you can hardly wait to get to the end because there lies the “Zinger”! You my friend are about to hear such a tale. Be prepared to laugh your guts out!

A few years ago my husband and I were on vacation. My brilliant husband keeps his phone turned off when we are on a trip. Perhaps that day I too should have had my phone in the “Off Mode”, but I did not. The phone rang. It was Sunday and church had just ended. My friend was on the other end. She said, “Debbie, I’m sorry I called you on your vacation, but something crazy just happened and I had to tell you!”
Quick side note: call + Sunday + had to tell you + crazy = something not good. Anyhoo, :) she went on to tell me about this one lady. When she mentioned her name I took a big breath because this lady and the phrase “anything could happen” were synonymous.

My friend said that she was checking children into our kid’s ministry. The donut table was in plain sight. She said church had started, and it was about 15 minutes into the service. All of the sudden, this lady comes out of the service and my friend observes the following. She sees the lady put a donut on each finger (BOTH HANDS), grab a full box of donuts, and walk toward the exit! My friend says, “What are you doing?” The lady says,” Well, the pastor is gone this weekend and there aren’t many people here today, and so I am leaving.” My friend says, “You need to put the box of donuts back because people might want them after the service.” The lady responds and my friend spends the next few minutes trying to get the lady to put the full box of donuts down. Finally, the lady gives a big sigh and says, “Okay, if you want to know the truth I have been visiting ANOTHER CHURCH, and it is MY WEEK TO BRING THE DONUTS!”

Yes Folks! You cannot make this stuff up! An even funnier side note is that my husband called her (Because oh yes she walked out with the donuts that day… I guess they were waiting for her). He told her that was really stealing and she needed to bring 7 dollars back the next time she came to church. He hoped to help her hold herself accountable, but she never came back.

Crazy stories can make you cringe while at the same time make you smile from ear to ear! I heard another funny story .This one pastor’s wife once told me that she and her husband moved into a parsonage. They had barely moved into the home. On their first Sunday there, they were getting dressed, when all of the sudden several church members walked in their back kitchen door! It seems that the last pastor had a pot of coffee ready every Sunday for folks to stop by in the morning before church! She said they quickly learned to dress early and lock the doors till everyone knew the coffee pot was now in the fellowship hall!

I’m sure you have some funny stories you could tell! Funny thing is, they aren’t so funny in the moment. I remember hearing my story and cringing at the thought of my friend having to deal with that, and wondering what effect this woman would have upon the fellowship of the church. I wonder how the pastor’s wife felt as people walked into her messy kitchen unannounced while they were still dressing?!!! Uncomfortable situations can be like a curve ball you weren't expecting. Those "gotcha moments" used to really throw me for a loop. Now days, I really try to season life stuff with a lot more grace.

Grace is so powerful. It allows us to look beyond the moment and see into the heart of the situation. Sometimes I do this brilliantly! I can step back from what I see and reflect on the heart of the person I am talking with to really discover what is going on with them. Sometimes I am as graceful with my grace as a chicken on roller skates in an ice storm! Grace is still waiting for me. After I fumble through my hurts, or mistakes God’s sweet grace is there for the asking! Finally, sometimes God’s grace is waiting after an experience that is so out of the ordinary, that you just come to the conclusion that “you can’t explain crazy.” In fact, don’t even try. Just embrace it and offer grace.

When you are a pastor’s wife you can count on two things. The first is that God is ALWAYS on His thrown. The second is that “stuff” will happen to and in your ministry. Learn to laugh. It makes the grace come faster, and it takes the worry out of the equation. Persevere by embracing the sweet grace God offers to any who seek it.

What crazy story do you have to tell? What part did grace play in helping you see the humor in that situation?

Hebrews 4:16 "Let us therefore come boldly unto the thrown of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

Monday, July 19, 2010

Relaxing, on my knees

Today this mother of four sent her two oldest youth children off to church camp.
Boo- hoo- hoo-hee-hoo-ha-ha-hee-yea-oh yah- alright man -wooooooo-hoooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh, are you still here? I was too busy dancing around my living room to notice! I'm not saying I was excited to see them go, but... let's just say there has been a big circle on my calender with the word CAMP posted for quite some time.

Please, mothers of preschoolers don't think ill of me. One day your precious babies will grow into similar versions of you. Your teens will want you to treat them like they are 23 and you will try hard to keep the same rules you did when they were 11. It will all end up in this dance that somehow never leaves them or you 100% at peace. They will always want more and you will always wish your kid was a nerd with a zero social life. :)

To me, being a parent means that my prayer life is open 24-7. There is a special prayer that I find many parents use when it comes to their children. Sometimes people call them heart cries. They are those moments when our hearts are so overwhelmed that we either spiritually, physically, or both cry out to the Lord! Our heart cries out at those times of greatest need. I think many of my most passionate heart cries have been for my children. It started the moment I held those little miracles in my arms and I cried out with thanksgiving, praises, and petitions all at once. There have been try outs, and tests they were dreading and I cried out, "Lord! Help them do their best!" I find those heart cries are my greatest joy and my greatest brokeness all rolled into one. My joy is acknowledging the mighty power of God that I am beckoning over my children. My brokeness is acknowledging that God has given me those children that come not with batteries included, but with free will. I quickly realized other people's free will is getting all up in my kids business (i.e. coaches, friends, media)!

So my camp celebration dance was a heart cry that could not be contained. I am deeply, humbly, and earnestly asking the Lord to move and to do His mighty and good will over the lives of my children this week at camp. I am also at the same time praying protection for them. Protection for their safety, and for those who God brings to speak into their lives. In my brokeness I acknowledge that we are sinners. My kids are AMAZING! But just like others, we have sin that, if allowed, holds them back. We have broken imperfect children raised by (all be a pastor's family), broken imperfect parents. We are sinners saved by grace and no one walks on water at my house but Jesus.

This reminds me of a recording my friends asked me to hear. It was about a man who took his beautiful wife into a highly populated Muslim community in Africa. They were missionaries. The area they went to had missionaries, for almost 80 years, ministering in that area. In all that time few people had asked Christ to be their Savior. This man's story was unforgettable! It had everything from a dare he accepted of jumping off a high bridge into water so people would listen about Christ, to a confrontation with men on a boat who eventually asked Christ in their lives and became his body guards. He even had an Imam ask Christ to be his Lord and Savior. The Imam would not read the Bible, but wanted to know more about the teacher Jesus. So the pastor took the Bible outside, ripped off the cover and wrote "The teachings of Christ". The Imam smiled and took it. Later he told the pastor he asked Christ into his life. He said God has told me to go back to the middle east to share the gospel. He did not know how he would get there, but he was memorizing the Bible for his journey. A few days later the pastor went to visit the man. His family was angry at the pastor and said, "We have put him somewhere you will never touch him! We have sent him back to the middle east!"

The pastor's journey was not without its heartbreak. He and his wife were fired upon while driving and she died. He was heart broken and I am sure you can imagine that he needed time to heal emotionally, physically, and spiritually. I almost hesitate writing how he praises God for their time there and for the gift of marriage his missionary wife was to him. I pause because those words are heavy. Those are heart cry words. Any journey God calls us to do, or gift He gives (such as children) is filled with God's blessings and the world's humanity.

Perhaps you should know how that man's story started? He said he was given the assignment to go. When he got there he gathered the few Christians that were there, and they prayed for God to do great things (which He did). The pastor said that after God had really started impacting the community, he had to ashamedly admit to the local believers that he had asked God if that rag tag group (that consisted of a beggar, a cripple, an old man, and few others) was all God had to work with? The people told him that they said, "God, is this skinny white man the best you could bring?" :)It shows you the power of two or more gathered in HIS NAME despite what is seen, but is seeking what is yet to be seen. :)

So, is this the best God could give my children? Two parents who get it right most days when they are not having a string of bad days? My heart cries out, Lord let my children be all they can be, and let me be a light to them! Sometimes I feel like the villagers about myself, "God is this the best you could bring my kids?" But the truth is that God makes no mistakes. All things (situations, family, heart breaks and heart cries) work to the glory of God for those that love Him and are called according to His purpose. Today I felt I should share not just about the power and ability God has to effect our lives. Rather, I wanted to point out how graciously He does it through us and for us; the imperfect humans.

When I dropped my children off I gained two great pieces if wisdom. First, a mom was there saying good-bye to her son who is a senior. She said she used to celebrate his going off to camp, but this year it serves as a reminder that he will soon be going off to the biggest camp of all; college and life. It made me pause and give a quiet heart cry for having just a little more time with my wonderful children. The second was from my friend who is going to be a counselor at camp this year. We were talking about our prayers and hopes for our children at camp. She reminded me that we heard a sermon in which the pastor talked about praying the A B C's as he goes. After I said good-bye, I got in my car and prayed a prayer that simply has you use the alphabet. You just pick a word that starts with the next letter and pray it over what you are talking to God about. The first was easy because my son's name is Austin. So I prayed A- Austin would have a great time at camp, and that he would be B- blessed by his time there... and so it goes. R was also easy because my daughter is Rebekah. It is just a unique way to take time to really petition the Lord.

I have no great words of wisdom. I will leave that up to the professionals. I do know that prayer is the single greatest gift you can bestow upon your child. Cover them in prayer. Being a pastor's kid, they might just need it more than most. Never forget the bonus of praying! Prayer not only effects what you are praying about, but it also effects the one who prays.

What are your prayers about this week? What does praying do for you? What is your favorite way to go to the Lord in prayer?

"... The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." James 5:16 (NIV)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

No Excuses

The story you are about to hear is REAL! No names were changed to protect the innocent (Cause I am totally guilty!). Prepare yourself folks for a story of intrigue and duh- duh- duh... DRAMA!

It all happened last night at approximately 6-ish pm. I was having a pretty light day. I had finished organizing my two youngest boy's bedroom, and was thinking about gathering my kids for ice cream and sock sorting later, because that is the sexy high roller that I am. When all of the sudden, the phone rang. It was my handsome husband on the other line. He was on his way to a long meeting (lucky). He told me he had just gotten off the phone with the appraiser and that the guy would be coming at 8:00 in the morning to appraise our home! We are refinancing for a cheaper interest rate and I wanted the house to be at its best for the appraisal.

As I quickly looked down at my watch, I realized it had been TWO and a HALF YEARS since I had pealed 98% of the ugliest wall paper you have ever seen off my master bathroom walls. For years I have had big plans and zero budget, so it has sat in all its sheet rock / mostly (badly) pealed wall paper state for a loooooong time. However, the appraiser was coming and I have logged enough HGTV hours to know that bathrooms are a big resale point.

So, mustering all my ADHD (no really) enthusiasm I vowed today... I mean... in the next 14 hours-ish I would get the house clean and redo the bathroom! Now, you might not know me, but oh yes girlfriend it was on! Two trips to Lowes later, I had the cutest rug for my boy's bedroom (because everyone knows that helps you paint faster), and all the supplies I needed to redo the bathroom! I had bought some paint on sale a few months ago for my garage (beige), and I decided to use it in the bathroom because I would save money.

I bought four big bottles of this spray on texture and covered the walls. SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Friends don't let friends drive after spraying on that stuff... WOW...
use a fan! The bottle said I could paint after 30 minutes, so I used my wait time to wipe off the excess texture that covered hmm let me think.... EVERYTHING! I was then ready to paint.

Do you remember that I was using paint I had bought for my garage walls? Well, let me just say it does look better than sheet rock, but if I were to name this color I would call it bunny poo number 7. It isn't bad or good. It is just brown... in a milkshake kind of way. All in all, the painting, cleaning, and accessorizing only took about four and a half hours! The house was mainly clean. So, cleaning was minimal and I was happily in my bed around midnight.I felt very vindicated the next day when the appraiser said he needed to take pictures of our living areas, a bedroom, the kitchen, and BOTH BATHROOMS! It was like clouds parted and the Hallelujah Chorus played as he took that bathroom picture and my work had not been in vain!

Now, the funniest thing is I don't know if it was the texture fumes or just the thought of rushing; but I had to laugh out loud while I was painting because I started thinking about the story of the ten virgins. It is an amazing parable found in Matthew 25.

When Christ told the story He said, "At that day the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps out to meet the bridegroom." (vs 1) Christ then goes onto tell this amazing tale of how five virgins were ready and five were foolish. The groom had taken longer than they had expected, and the five that didn't have enough oil for their lamps, tried to bum some off the other girls. The girls with oil said,"NU UH... get your own oil." So, while they were off getting the oil the groom arrived and the five who were prepared went into the wedding banquet (and partied) and the doors were shut! When the girls came back they asked to be let in , but they weren't allowed to enter (the groom said, "I don't know you). Jesus ends the parable by saying, "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." (vs 13... speaking about Christ's return)

I was laughing because, in the middle of the bathroom redo, I wasn't sure that if Christ were to tell my painting story (as a parable); if I would be considered one who was prepared for the next day, or the one locked out. All in all I was pleased and I think I was ready.

Do you ever do life or church like that? As some turbo last minute project? It could be teaching a lesson, or planning an event, or buying goldfish crackers (don't forget the goldfish... it can get ugly). You rush through, or you grab yarn at your house because you don't have time to get the fishing line that the project calls for. Sometimes we are just busy and brown poo number 7 is the best we can do. Sometimes we just put things off and brown poo number 7 is what ends up on our bathroom walls, and we now see it daily! Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes can start to add up. It is important to remember that awesome parable. That parable is about being ready for Christ's return.

How do we stay or even get ready for Christ's return? Well, I think one way is to make sure we don't compromise. Compromising is when there are one too many "sometimes" or "just this last time" in our vocabulary. Honestly, I am glad Paul called himself "The Chief of all Sinners." It gives me a happy sigh inside to know God is working on us all (even the guy He used to write most of the New Testament). So know I am not talking about perfection. Rather I am talking about not compromising. It is simply this. How much of us does God want? He wants all. When we compromise, even in just one little area, it can spread like an infection across our lives. Compromise makes us grumpy or resentful about fulfilling what God has called us to do. It might not even be the area we are compromising in, because sin is never satisfied with just that one area. It is looking for a foothold to bring you down. As a leader you need to know that because you are the messenger of Matthew 25. You need to be sending the message out,"Be ready for Christ's return!" Compromise makes you compromise that message.

Are you compromising in an area of your life? Chances are you might just be, because you my friend are a sinner saved by grace. What to do then? It is soooo easy. Ask God to show you, and then repent. Seek God's Word and know that getting rid of poor habits and thoughts is usually a process. I think God likes it that way, because when we really seek him and have to work at it, we find so much peace when we finally turn that area over to God.

Ask someone you know and trust (preferably someone you have known a very long time) to be your accountability partner. Let iron sharpen iron. Finally, make no excuses. Just be honest. You might find yourself saying to God, "I didn't make time, or I don't like that part of my life or ministry so I avoid it." Being honest takes you on a great journey of seeking God. Being honest begins to say "I will" instead of "I would, but".

What do you do to guard against compromise? What do you have to say about this subject?

1 Peter 1: 14-15 "So you must live as God's obedient children. Don't slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires. You didn't know any better then. But now you must be Holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy." (Side note: 1 Peter 1: 13-25 is a call to Holy Living... great read!)