Stop and Refocus

When I sat down to have my quiet time this morning, I looked at my Bible study book and just couldn’t pick it up.  So after a little prayer, I began getting the kiddos working on their lessons for the day.  I really felt God wanting me to stop and refocus.  Not exactly what I wanted to do this morning.

Here’s a little insight…

Ok, so we’re working to get settled in.  Unpacking is just as much fun as the packing was. Moving-Homes-The-Unpacking-Nightmare-700x466I’m honestly, OVER seeing boxes everywhere.  But, unpacking and living in a place at the same time makes it slow-going.  That’s ok.  It really is.  But, here’s what happened over the past few days.  The hubby has started officially at the church.  He’s keeping regular office hours (and not just across the parking lot), so he’s not around during schooling hours if I need a little assistance.  (That’s really ok, too.)  I, however, during this transition have not been as diligent in keeping the Enemy out of my thought life.  That’s a very dangerous thing!  Little unpacking has been accomplished this week.  All of my time has been spent schooling & cleaning.  (I mean, you have to clean if you are going to live in a place…even if it isn’t unpacked.)  Insert LOTS of frustration over not being able to find items needed for cleaning.  More frustration over being interrupted by children needing assistance while I was looking for missing items needed for the cleaning task I was involved in.  Dishes. Laundry. Creating a home atmosphere. Sweeping. Vacuuming. Dishes. Laundry. Trip over a box. (Did I break my toe?) Try to develop a cleaning/shopping routine.  Realize it doesn’t work.  Try again.  Redirect kiddos back to school.  Etc. Etc. & repeat.

During all of this, the Enemy is whispering: “You are going to have to do this all by yourself.”  “Look at them all, playing around & not helping at all.”  “You’re never going to get anything accomplished.”   See where he was taking me?  UGH!!

Insert God saying “STOP!” “My daughter, I need you to refocus!”

Strength and honor are her clothing, and she can laugh at the time to come. She opens her mouth with wisdom and loving instruction is on her tongue. She watches over the activities of her household and is never idle. Her sons rise up and call her blessed. Her husband also praises her: “Many women are capable but you surpass them all!” Proverbs 31:25-29 (HCSB)

He directed me to read and meditate on Proverbs 31, again.  I love my Abba for times like this!  Sure, I may get overwhelmed at times, but I don’t have to listen to the Enemy’s lies.  As long as I recognize them, I can rebuke them.  God created me for the purpose of “watching over” my household.  That doesn’t mean I have to do it all myself, but I do have to delegate responsibilities & ask for assistance when needed.

Why do we, as women, make things SO much more difficult than they need to be?  😉

May I encourage you, sister, if you are feeling overwhelmed or discouraged with simply everyday life, take some time to stop and refocus.  Pray.  Listen to God.  Obey Him.  Maybe read through Proverbs 31. (And please don’t feel that you EVER have to live up to her example.) Be inspired by her!  Be encouraged by her!  God created you for a beautiful purpose!

Be blessed!

-De

Pastor Appreciation from Your Spouse and Children

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As October draws to a close & with it the end of Pastor Appreciation Month, I felt led to compile a little thank you to pastors from their families.

As spouses and children of pastors, we see a completely different side to your ministry.  (Thanks to all the ministry wives & children who helped me compose this.)

To our pastor,

Thank you for being not only our pastor but the foundation builder of our home.  To some of us, you are our very best friend & spouse.  To others, our father & friend.

Thank you for modeling servanthood to us.  Although we may sometimes become frustrated when you work long hours, we appreciate you showing us a model of sacrifice to minister to the body of Christ.

Thank you for allowing us to see your discerning heart as you choose to speak or remain silent as you interact with the church.

Thank you for coming home to us with a smile and grace after seemingly endless hours of meetings.

Thank you for being a constant for us through the transitions and relocations that ministry can bring, even though you may be struggling silently while comforting and reassuring us without fail.

Thank you for modeling fasting and prayer for us as we see you diligently seek after God’s will in His church and the messages He has given you to deliver.

Thank you for the deep compassion and care you model for us on those many sleepless nights that the church will never see.

We know you endure so many things.  We know you are easily the target for so many who are hurting.  We see your pain.

We see so many things that no one else ever will.

And we love you so much more than you will ever know.

Thank you!

**Father in heaven, we truly do thank You for our pastors.  We pray that You will continue to lead and guide them in Your perfect way.  We pray that You will give them Your vision for the church.  We ask that You will strengthen us to give them the encouragement, support, and unconditional love they so need.  Send them mentors, encouragers, and most of all friendships that will help them grow in You.  Amen. **

Be blessed!

-De

(Special thanks to Bro. Joe McKeever for allowing use of his awesome artwork.  Thank for your wonder pastor heart & for being such a wonderful encourager of our pastors.)

A Much Needed Getaway

When you are a family in ministry, family time is a VERY important thing! We were very blessed to take a family vacation this month, and not just any little vacation, a magical vacation for this family of Disney addicts. 😉  A wonderful week of disconnecting ourselves from the world (aka cell phones were only for trying to reach each other in the park, the “do not disturb” function is a beautiful thing), and enjoying our family.

Here are a few of my favorite memories:

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We opted for the Memory Maker package on this trip, and I really loved it. That allowed my hubby to concentrate on videos (notice his camcorder in almost every pic) for our video scrapbook. 🙂 It’s such a cool way to document our family time. He even let the kids take his old camera & capture videos from their point of view, aka “Kid Cam”.  I’ll share a few segments of it when he’s done editing it.

Be blessed & enjoy your family!

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To the Young Pastor’s Wife

I guess I still somewhat fall into this category, but although the “pastor’s wife” title is a new-ish one for me, being a woman in ministry is not.

Ladies, my heart simply wants to encourage you.  The struggles you feel are very real, and you are not alone in any of them.

Are you feeling any of these:

  • Lonely.  Seemingly every friend you had before ministry now looks at you differently.  They aren’t as open with you.  You aren’t as open with them.  The fear of judgmental thoughts is very real.
  • Like you must walk on eggshells.  Every decision you make is watched.  Your clothes aren’t nice enough…or maybe too nice.  Every word you say must be more than carefully thought out, because everyone, but you it seems, is allowed to wear their feelings on their sleeves.
  • Like you must be the “perfect” housewife.  Your children must fit a certain mold.  Your home must look a certain way.  The budget must always work out perfectly.
  • Like your husband is on loan to you…definitely doesn’t belong to you but to the congregation.
  • Like you have forgotten who you really are deep inside.

I will honestly say, at some point over the last 15 years in and out of ministry, I’ve felt these & many more.  Living the ministry life is not for everyone.  It’s lonely.  It’s very public.  And if you are in it, it’s part of God’s plan for you.

When I find my mind wandering into one of these negative places, it’s easy to dwell there.  Honestly, it’s easy to set up camp and stay a while, and that’s just what the Enemy wants us to do.  If he can bring us down, he can get to our family, our husbands, and destroy the work God is doing.

First and foremost let me encourage you (and remind myself) to suit up each day.  Put on your armor ladies!  Keep the Enemy out of your minds.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. – Philippians 4:8

Second, let’s defeat these lies.  Yes, lies.

  • Lonely.  You will feel lonely, but you are most definitely NOT alone.  Your friends are still there.  True, you may have to be more guarded around some people, but I promise you, there are friends out there for you.  (And you are always free to message me.) 🙂  Confide in your husband how you are feeling.  Let him pray for you.  Don’t worry about burdening him…because you aren’t!  You are in this ministry TOGETHER!
  • Those eggshells.  I know from experience that sometimes you just want to let your feelings fly…ugly and out in the open.  Over the years, I’ve excused myself from many meetings to “refill my cup of water” or “visit the restroom” in order to allow myself time to pray and regroup.  There will always be those who passive-aggressively (or maybe downright aggressively) put down on your husband, your children, and you.  But know that the worth of your family & yourself is NOT directly related to what they perceive.  Only in God can we truly find our worth!

No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. – 1 Cor 10:13

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. – Psalm 139:13-15

  • Perfect Housewife.  I laugh at this one often.  I am FAR from the perfect housewife.  I am FAR from the perfect mom.  Still, I find myself feeling expected to be these things.  It never fails,frazzledmom-3 there is always that one church member who will show up on the day you have a double sink full of dirty dishes.  A mountain of unfolded laundry on the sofa.  Kids who look as if they haven’t bathed in 2 weeks. And, you still in your pjs at 3 in the afternoon.  Oh well, right! 🙂  Don’t hold yourself or your family to the expectations of others.  My children are introverted, like both of their parents.  If they aren’t comfortable enough to speak to someone, I know not to force them to.  I can pray with them about being brave, but others will not see this, and that is okay.  I stress lots over budgeting…I’m a numbers person.  If this falls into one of your household responsibilities, know that in most ministry cases…it’s going to be tight.  It may not always be in the black.  But as long as you are following God’s leading & being a good steward of His blessings, relax.  He’s got you!

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. – Matthew 6:31-34

  • Husband.  Remember that your husband’s calling is a very important one.  If you feel like he is “on loan” to you, please talk to him about it.  If he’s a new pastor, he honestly may not see what you are seeing.  He may simply be trying so hard to “do a good job” that he doesn’t realize this.  Schedule…purposely schedule…off days with him.  Make him put them on the calendar. 🙂  When we were first called to pastoral ministry, one of the best pieces of advice my husband was given was to make family time sacred.  It is scheduled & uninterruptible. His deacons know this.  Our church knows this, and they respect this.
  • Who You Are.  This can be a tough one.  We all have dreams of what we want life to be.  It’s difficult sometimes to realize God may have other plans.  But we also need to remember that verse in Psalms I posted earlier.  God knows us better than we know ourselves.  He gives us desires in our hearts.  We may not know why or how they fit into His plan, but I assure you He has a plan.  Continue to find yourself in Him.  I’m still not 100% sure of His plan for me.  I just follow.  When we started seminary 5 years ago, I knew God was calling me to get a degree in Worship Leadership.  Music is my passion!  He speaks loudly to me through music.  It fit!  He called me to serve as a worship leader for a while, but never opened up worship classes for me to take.  He did however open up women’s ministry training.  Not having a clue as to how He would use me in this, I followed.  I’m still following.  Over the past 5 years, He has taught me so much about myself.  Grown in me a HUGE love for women in ministry.  And, I know He isn’t finished yet.  But for now, I will love on and pray for each one of you ladies!  Remember, you are a unique creation…perfect daughter… of the King.  Put on your crown princesses and hold your heads high!princess

For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. – Ephesians 2:10

*Father, I pray for each special lady You have called to be the wife of one of Your leaders.  It’s not an easy calling.  I pray that You will help them learn to guard their minds from the attacks of the enemy.  I pray You will send them friendships.  I pray that You will protect their homes and marriages.  And I sincerely pray that You will show each one how precious they are to You.*

Be blessed!

-De

Why I’m Not a Reader

It’s mommy confession time my friends.  I’m married to an author, yet I’m not an avid reader.  People don’t get this about me.

Well let me tell you why I don’t read very often…

I LOVE READING!!!

There.  Is that a good enough reason for you?  Are you laughing at my insanity?  (It’s okay.  I’m laughing a bit myself.)

Let me ‘splain. No there is too much, let me sum up.

When I read, as I’m sure many of you do, I enter into a little bubble world where I am engulfed in the setting of the book.  The characters are real people. Friends. Enemies. I am an onlooker, with a personal window into these beautiful worlds.  I get lost there.  I allow the windows of my imagination to open and distant worlds flood my brain.

And then…just as soon as all is well and established in this world…and usually in a moment of intensity…

“Mommy!” interrupted

*World dissolves.  Friends disappear.*

It never fails.

According to my hubby, this moment is almost as bad as waking me from a deep sleep.  You never know what may happen.  You never know what may be said. 🙂

talktomeSo, this is why.  As much as I love reading, I just can’t escape into that world very often…at this point in life.  I want to appreciate all of the beautiful artwork (also known as scribbles on used paper) that my children are proud of and I must see at any particular moment.  I want them to tell me all the brilliant ideas they’ve come up with.  Without accidentally snapping at them for interrupting my world.  Most of all, I want them to read…and I feel that me getting grumpy while reading will hinder that.

I’m working on it.  I recently started re-reading my hubby’s book in the evenings, rather than watching meaningless tv to fill the time between dinner and bedtime.  Modelling reading as important & not being snippy when disturbed.  (It helps that I’ve read the book before.)

Be blessed!

-De

Ponderings from a Wife

Several months back I started an experiment in “The Art of Dating In” in which my hubby and I attempted to plan evenings (dates) at home after the kiddos were in bed.

In my opinion, epic fail.

And here are my reasons why.

One thing my husband and I try to do is plan out time together each day to just “be” together.  That is already usually after the kids are tucked in bed.  We snuggle up in our room and watch some of our favorite tv shows & even a movie now and then.  It’s great down time.  Just hanging out with my best friend in a very similar fashion to  when we were dating.  But this, my friends, is not a date.

This too, is how our dating in experiment became.  Basically the same routine, only snuggled on the sofa with fresh baked cookies.  And this is why I feel it failed.  You see, the kids were still there.  If they decided to “need” something, they were completely able to get up, interrupt our date, and then whine for a while about not having a cookie too.  We were not removed from the distractions of home.  When I would return our empty saucer to the kitchen, I found myself reminded of the undone dishes.  No matter how hard I would try, that took away all relaxation and lessened enjoyment of the evening.  It just was not a “date.”

Don’t get me wrong…I understand (believe me, I really understand) that funds don’t always allow for a dinner & a movie, plus the cost of a sitter, etc.  We’ve lived that for a LONG time, and being in ministry, we continue to live it every day.  Our actual “away from home” dates are fairly spread out, compared to the recommended at least bi-monthly marriage advice you might get.  We just can’t afford it.  What we can do is seek out friends who are in the same place.  LONGING for a night out, but honestly can’t afford a sitter.  Date swap my friends.  And still on a small budget…it’s doable.  Sometimes we have an inexpensive meal…sometimes we share a meal depending on the restaurant.  We walk & window shop.  We TALK!  We DREAM!  We enjoy each others company.  That’s the point.  Enjoying each other.

But I find, my sanity is better kept when we can be away from the normal surroundings.  Even if only for 30 minutes.

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I also have this same mindset with vacationing.  Lately the popularity of a “stay-cation” has been growing.  I can’t wrap my mind around how anyone can find this relaxing?  We don’t vacation yearly (although I wish we could).  We simply can’t afford it…yet. (Getting back to our Dave Ramsey training & getting started building our savings…woohoo!)  Anyway, I would go insane with the idea of stay-cationing as my “refresh our family time”.  Especially, again, in a ministry role.  My husband definitely wouldn’t be “away” from work.  The everyday parts of being at home would still be part of that daily routine.  Sorry, but no “vacation” in that. There is something to be said about not having to clean the bathrooms or put away laundry or wash those dishes when on vacation.  Yes, I know it all has to be done when you get home…but if you are at home the temptation is staring you in the face everyday.  And you know as well as I do that you WILL do it.  (And please don’t think I mean we’re slobs on vacation…I do have to keep an amount of tidiness to keep sanity.) I also find it a LOT easier to “not answer the phone” and “unplug” when I’m away on a vacation that has been paid for and will NOT be cancelled mid trip.  We’ve promised each other that vacations (which don’t happen often) are for family bonding time & work WILL wait.  That’s hard to do when you’re home and work can knock on the door…seriously, would you pretend they aren’t there…no.

Anyway, those are my ponderings for today.

If you have mastered either of these two methods of dating/vacationing, PLEASE share.  🙂

Be blessed!

-De

Family Dates

Over the past few years, I have become increasingly aware of the true importance of my little family.  They are the most precious gifts God has given to me on this earth.  As a wife and mom, I will play many roles in this family.  And I’m truly learning to love each and every role.

But that’s not the focus of this blog post.  Today, I feel compelled to talk about family dates.  Have you ever considered the concept?  Do you already practice this?  What in the world am I talking about?

I’m talking about complete, uninterrupted time with your spouse and children.  Unplugged from the world.  Just you and them doing something together.  Laughing.  Playing.  Bonding.

I cherish my family SO very much, but I never considered how important this was until we were hit with the tragic passing of my baby sister almost 2 years ago.  It was then that I truly realized and understood how short our time here really is.

Since then I’ve purposed Family Dates.  No, they don’t happen every week, or sometimes “officially” even every month.  But they happen.  My children LOVE it.  Sometimes we’ll take them to their favorite place to eat (even if that means we may cringe with every bite of horrible fast food).  Sometimes it means popping popcorn and squishing all 4 of us on our tiny little sofa and watching a potty-humor filled kid movie. (Their belly laughs make it worth every minute.)  But we purpose to LOVE on them & each other.  We purpose to NOT be sucked into Facebook, twitter, emails, pinterest, and anything else.  We purpose to not answer the phone or text messages. (Yes, we know that being a ministry family sometimes emergencies arise, that’s different & our children are learning to understand that.  I believe they are also growing hearts of prayer warriors with these lessons.)

Sometimes, we have extended Family Dates…some may call them Family Vacations. 😉  What a wonderful blessing it is to get away with my family!!  Seeing their faces filled with childhood joy and wonder!  OH!  How I will miss these days!!

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I challenge you, if you don’t already, learn to date your family!

-De