The Truth About Joy

Recently, someone commented to me her admiration for my joyful spirit and positive attitude. In that moment, there was no sense of flattery in my heart. I was thankful that she saw this in me, but deep in my heart, all I really wanted to do was to confess to her that my flesh was NOT joyful most of the time.

This is a reality of ministry life. We are expected to be joy-filled workers for Christ. We have nearly mastered the art of the “china doll” smile. You know what I’m talking about, right? That beautiful smile we wear, but that smile that is oh so fragile on the inside.

As a ministry wife, this smile, this type of “joy” is so difficult to wear. Our human nature so often wants to take over, and truly rips away at the back of the china mask. We are called to be the hands and feet of Christ. His leadership. His model of love and forgiveness. With Him, and only Him, we CAN BE all these things; however, that doesn’t keep us totally free from our sin nature. Honestly, how do you feel when you must show love to that person who recently ripped your husband to shreds? How do you want to respond when you’re tired from constant spiritual and physical battles that go along with church leadership? Joy is not a response I would choose for either of those or a thousand other situations in ministry.

So, how do we get past this “china doll” joy? I mean, at this point we should know the answer right? We should have it mastered, should we not? Come on ladies, don’t let the Enemy tear you down. We are not perfect! Just as Paul talks about in Romans 7, we will struggle, even when we know what is right. Our freedom comes in knowing that, and most of all in knowing the Father of freedom! Give it to God ladies. There will only be false joy in our lives until we do.

Unfortunately, ministry life thrusts us into glass houses, not of our choosing, but of our calling. We are expected by many to live unrealistically perfect Christian lives. We aren’t allowed, by many, to fail, or be angry, or be hurt, etc. We must carefully chose who we trust, who sees our tears and hurts, and who knows our frustrations. But we can live in JOY!

Joy is found in the freedom of the gospel! Joy is found by giving our hurts and fears to God! Don’t carry the weight of the world, His yoke is easy and His burden is light! He is our JOY!

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I’ve found when my true joy starts waning, that reading Paul’s writings help tremendously. (Philippians & 1-2 Timothy are my favorites from a ministry perspective.) He endured it…joyfully! He knew the source of his strength!

Oh, my sweet sisters, I pray JOY for you! I pray for freedom from unrealistic expectations that steal your joy. I pray for comfort in the arms of your Abba Father!

Be joy-filled!

-De

Some days we just need a little extra encouragement, don’t we?

The past few weeks, for me, have been tough ones for many reasons. But in the midst of it all, my Abba Father has been so faithful to speak comfort into my heart.

We are His children! He loves us more deeply than we could ever fathom!

Today, as I was praying over my quiet time, the Spirit drew me to James. I sometimes forget how much I love this book. Yes, there is encouragement here, but James also gives us many reminders to check-up on our heart attitudes.

When we feel wronged, it’s human nature to lash out. That’s not our Father’s nature, and we are to reflect Him.

I encourage you today, pray & read through this short book. Take a look at your reflection in God’s mirror. Are you reflecting Him or the world in word and deed?
I definitely need to do some polishing on my reflection today!

**Father, thank You for Your mercy! Thank you for love us and allowing us to be imperfect children, but also for reminding us to strive to perfectly reflect You! Help us to daily check our heart attitudes for anything that is not of You. Heal our brokenness and help us to live in the fullness of Your joy everyday! Amen!**

Be blessed!

-De

Reinforcing His Armor

This little blog of prayer is for all my ministry wife friends out there.

As I lay in my bed last night, jolted awake by some random noise outside, my mind focused in on all of you. You beautiful, often battle-worn ladies, my sisters in the fight, as we aide our men in their leading of God’s churches. So I began to pray, to seek God for what He was trying to tell me. Here is what He whispered to my heart.

13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18 With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints

Ephesians 6:13-18 (NASB)

We all know to put on our armor everyday, and I know our husbands do too. But God was impressing upon me, that as my husband’s helper, I held the responsibility of helping to repair and reinforce his armor. After days on the front lines of a spiritual battle, he will need help. How do we help? Prayer. That may be quite obvious, I know. We all pray for our husbands daily, or at least I hope you do. But do we honestly consider the spiritual battles that rage around him. We are deceiving ourselves if we don’t think they are real. We’re their back-up ladies!

Father, as my husband has armed himself for battle today, I pray that you will strengthen his armor as he heads to the front lines. Strengthen his stance in You, Father. Fasten tightly Your belt of Truth around him as he studies Your word. Guard his heart with Your breastplate of righteousness as he strives to live for You. As my husband laces up shoes of peace, give him Your stability, Your peace amidst the enemy’s fire. Strengthen his traction as he moves forward to spread Your Gospel message. As he takes up his shield of faith, place him in line with Your other leaders on the front lines. Encourage them to link their shields together creating a stronger guard against the flaming arrows of the enemy, thus becoming an immovable force for You. Pushing through the front lines of the enemy together in full faith in You. Tighten upon him, the helmet of Salvation, Father. Do not allow the enemy to invade his mind. Protect him from the discouragement and negativity that abounds in the church and the world. Renew his mind daily to reflect Your own. Father, sharpen his Sword as he lives in Your Word daily. Bestow upon him Your wisdom through the Word, so that he may courageously and confidently combat the workers of the enemy. Finally, grow in him a deeper desire to be a man on his knees. Make his prayer life a most precious time with You! In this, he will be more alert to the schemes of the enemy and more focused and aligned with Your perfect will.

Protect him today, Father. Use him today, Father. In Jesus name, Amen.

This may be nothing new to you, I don’t know. I’m just sharing what God placed on my heart.

This world is a mess, ladies, and our husbands are called to no easy task. The war is raging in churches across our country, and we can no longer sit and observe from the pews. We must stand up. We must pray. We must join them on the front lines of battle and tend their wounds.

Praying for all of you and your men today!

-De

I Will Be Audacious!

I just sat down on my couch after a blessed, blessed day! Our church hosted the Living Proof Live Simulcast today, & what a WORD God gave to Mrs. Beth!

Leading up to the event, I prayed for God to speak to the women who attended. To move in their heart. To prepare a word just for them. Here’s what I didn’t expect…He prepared a word just for ME!

Backstory: My hubby and I, for years, have prayed that no matter what, we would do what God calls us to do. Whether to go or stay and serve, just to follow Him & hear His direction. Now, for sometime now God has been building a ministry calling within me in addition to were He has me now. He has given me a great passion for worship leadership, & I adore preparing His church to approach His throne in worship. But, He has also been speaking a ministry of encouragement to ministry wives (and women in ministry) to my heart. My pastor hubby has been diligent in asking me what my hold-up is. Why haven’t I just stared DOING it? My answer has always been, I don’t feel prepared & most of all I don’t feel confident enough in myself to speak to these women. Fear ladies, it’s all fear. And we know who is the author of that fear!

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When Christ is the Supreme Romance of our lives, we can do ANYTHING!!!  Even face/conquer our fears!!!  Praise Jesus!!

Thank you Mrs. Beth (if by some miracle chance you read this) for calling me out! “Zero confidence in the flesh! 100% confidence in the Holy Spirit!”  Thank you for helping me realize that I can be Audacious! I am a mighty woman of God because Christ lives in me! Because Christ lives in me I can do anything that God has called me to do, or speak, without fear!!

“I’ve got the guts to give Him the glory!”

Be blessed & be AUDACIOUS!

-De

Terrifyingly Exciting

How’s that for a title?  Seriously, though, God has brought us down a path over the past 6 months that is both very exciting and completely terrifying.

Where to start…

How about here:  About a year ago, at a women’s conference, I first heard the song Oceans.  You know the one.  I was so moved by it…literally moved to tears.  I wanted God to do that kind of work in me.  I wanted to not fear His will, whatever that may be.  I wanted to be willing to go wherever He called.  So, I began to make that my prayer.  Every time I would hear the song, I would make it my hearts cry.  God kept it on my mind and in my heart.  I would find myself singing it at random times, my heart’s prayer.

Fast-forward several months, late summer I believe, all I know for sure is that I was in the throws of a “Who Do You Think You Are?” season and totally in my genealogy state of mind.  My sweet hubby comes in one afternoon and asks me, “How close is Kershaw, South Carolina to where your ancestors are from?”  *Insert nerdy squeee*  Um, my great-grandfather was born there!!  Then he tells me that he’s been contacted by a church there.  Excitement ebbs a bit and terror takes over.

*God, that’s SOOO far from our family!*

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown, where feet may fail

Deuteronomy 13.4Well, that’s all it is for several months.  My husband and I purpose to consistently pray for God’s will over our family & His church.  God revealed to my hubby two very specific tasks to complete at our current church.  Not easy tasks mind you, many nights of prayer went into these.  It was very difficult for him at times, but I love my man of God, he faithfully followed.  Here’s the most awesome thing…the morning after he finished the final of the two tasks, the church called him again.  (God doesn’t play games guys.  He is full of awesome!)  It was a serious call, a we’d love to talk more in depth call.  A terrify this little girl to the core call.

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed, and You won’t start now

So, we began the task of SUPER heavy prayer (with the addition of a few faithful prayer warriors) and conversations.  You’d think by this point in my life, and through all the things God has brought us through, I’d have no fears with following Him with blind faith…WRONG.  This little mommy is a worrier!  This southern belle is really a home body!  This planning girl doesn’t like for things to be “up in the air” or unknown.  (You’d also think I’d know by now that God doesn’t work like me.)    Ministry at the intersection of one place and another is HARD, I’m not going to lie.  If you are serious at all about loving and working for Jesus, you can’t just “check-out” from your current ministry home.  Things still need to be done.  Things still need to be planned and organized…even when you know you aren’t going to be the one to see it through.  I can’t even begin to accurately describe how hard that is.  My emotions have been a roller-coaster.  But, I know God’s holding us in His hands.

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours, and You are mine

And now, after many months (and I must confess, a Gideon prayer or two) God has finished the task of preparing us for His work in a new place.  We are going, with full faith in Him, to South Carolina.  We are excited to see the work He has for our family there.  Our hearts continue to pray for His church here, I know He has amazing plans for His precious people here.  Change is always difficult, but it can so often be a wonderful thing, especially when it is ordained by the Creator.  Commit yourselves to Him!  Follow Him without fear and question!  It’s terrifyingly exciting!

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

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.)

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