Category Archives: Uncategorized

Why Ministry is the Best Gig in the World . . . Summer!

Summer is, by far, my favorite time of the whole year for several reasons.  My birthday is in summer, I get to spend more time with my kids during the summer, it stays lighter longer, we go on family vacation, and Vacation Bible School is in the summer – I always call that week “the best week of the summer!”.  This year for VBS, I got to hang out with 11 kids and experience VBS as a group leader, which was so much fun (especially as someone who has directed VBS for years).  I thoroughly enjoyed building relationships and investing in the lives of those 4th graders.

VBS 2016

Also this summer, at our church, we also put on our first youth camp.  We had 38 campers, middle school and high school.

C-AMP

My own kids were there and my husband and I got to go and be a support in a variety of ways – he set up and ran the sound for the services, and pulled kids on tubes for hours.

Mark and boat

I got to encourage the lady cabin leaders and be available for any issues they needed help with.  We also got to love on kids.

Me & Jo

In fact, I made it my goal to have a personal conversation with each and every camper, and I did it!  I learned all kinds of things about these kids.  For example, one girl had a little kitty that was very sick, another girl’s favorite candy bar was cow tales – but they’re hard to find, another guy’s family was in the process of moving, and yet another young man’s favorite music was either Celtic or Traditional hymns.  Probably my favorite conversation was with a 6th grade girl who had just started attending youth group.  She was telling me that the past year in 5th grade she was beginning to doubt if God was real or not.  Then during the singing part of one of our services, she heard someone call her name and when she looked behind her to see who it was, she heard the voice say “I love you” and she recognized it as God speaking to her.  Needless to say, she doesn’t doubt Him any longer.

It was a great week corporately; however, there were also some great things that happened for me personally.  On the first night, as we were listening to the speaker, I had a strong remembrance of being a high schooler at camp.  It was almost as if I was transported back 25 years in time.  I remembered the youth camps I attended with my sisters and friends.  I remembered the summer I felt God’s Spirit tug on my heart, calling me to serve Him in ministry and noticing that at that very moment, God was placing that same call on my friend Mark as well.  Fast forward 25 years, I am now married to Mark and God has indeed called us to serve Him as pastors of a little flock called Cheney Faith Center.

M & K C-AMP

As I sat in that service reminiscing about His goodness and faithfulness, I couldn’t help but wonder about the future of the young people in front of me.  Would any of them grow up and get married to each other?  Who would God call into the ministry?  What types of exploits, whether big or small, would these kids do for Jesus?

Josh

Another great thing that happened for me at camp was God gave me a deep personal assurance about my own kids and their relationship with Jesus.  As a parent, I often don’t see how God is working in my children’s lives and can be tempted to panic and try to grasp for control.  Yet, God again reminded me that just like Mark and I had our personal faith journey, my children do as well.  Their faith journey will look different than mine.  God, in His goodness, assured me that He is working in my children’s lives and that He can be trusted.

AJ and baby

TJ guitar

The final thing that was a real blessing to me was a brief interaction I had with a young woman who was a middle school cabin leader.  It was the last day of camp and we were packing up and cleaning up in the rain.  It had also rained most of the night before and everything was muddy.  One of the things that I don’t like is being dirty.  Yet, as I was wrapping up the power cord that gave electricity to our tent trailer, my hands got covered in wet dirt.  I was dirty and I didn’t like it.  After I was done, I walked by this cabin leader and I showed her my hands and I said, “I got dirty”.  I’m sure I had a pitiful look on my face too.  Without even hesitating, she took my dirty hands in her clean hands and began wiping the dirt away.  She said some soothing words and let go of my hands and we both went about our business.

Querida

Even now as I write this, I am moved to tears by her act of kindness and love.  She was willing to get her hands dirty to remove the dirt from mine.

Isn’t that just like what Jesus did?  He, who knew no sin, took my sin, and yours, upon Himself.

And now He calls us to take others “dirty hands” and be Jesus with skin on by loving, forgiving and accepting those He places in our path.  Just like I came across this cabin leaders’ path, Jesus puts others in our path who need us.  When they do, what choice will you make – ignore them, change the course of your path so you can avoid them, briefly interact with them or fully engage them right where they’re at.  This proved to be a profound illustration in such a small interaction.

As I sit here writing this, there are three and a half weeks left before school starts and the summer season comes to an end.  Since summer is my favorite season, it’s hard to let it go.  Yet, just like in life, there is good in each and every season.

Thank you, Jesus, for the fruit of this summer season, may it be lasting and good.

Your Friend in Ministry,

Name3

About Community

Let me introduce you to my mom friends.  This is a group of women who have been praying most Wednesday mornings for the past 12 years; the subject of our prayers . . . our children, which now range in age from 5-22 years old.  Our fearless leader started this “Moms in Prayer” group, with two other ladies, when her son was in kindergarten and he is now finishing up his junior year of high school.  In the past couple of years we have had six graduates (two graduating tonight!).

IMG_2500

I personally have been a part of the group for the past eight years, as have most of the others.  Yet, an amazing thing happened to this group this past December.  It was the Wednesday before Christmas vacation, and each year we have a party where we eat goodies, exchange gifts and pray for each other, not our kids, but each other.  A few of our friends had to head off to other responsibilities, but as we were wrapping up our time together, something extraordinary happened.  We experienced a holy moment that is hard to articulate, yet all could sense it.  I think it dawned on us that after lo these many years of praying for our children, God had done a miracle in each of our hearts.  Over the years, prayer by prayer, week after week, stitch by stitch, He had knit us together so tightly that we realized we had grown to deeply, deeply love each other.  I think the reason why the moment was so holy is because we realized that this was something none of us had anticipated or set out to do.  We didn’t join the group looking for friendship, support and community.  We joined the group to cover our children and their schools in prayer.  Yet, God saw fit to orchestrate it that although we joined “Moms in Prayer” for our kids, what we found was true community; a sisterhood that meant more to us than we could have ever imagined.

The picture above was at our last gathering for the school year where we specifically prayed over the two 2016 graduates and their sweet Mamas.  The next day I posted the picture on Instagram and God gave me the idea for this blog post.  You see, I know that community is something we all crave as women.  We see posts on social media about friendship and community and our souls long for it.  If we don’t have the type of community we desire, there is a deep yearning and even emptiness inside of us.

Can I share with you a few things being a part of this group has taught me about community?

  • Community doesn’t happen overnight. Like I mentioned, it was eight to twelve years before this particular group of women became a community.  Often times we look at those who seem so well connected and fail to realize it took a long time for them to get there.    
  • Priorities require faithfulness. Community happens as you faithfully show up week after week, year after year. Community requires an investment and to truly invest in something means you make it a priority.  For me personally, there are only a couple of things that would take precedence over Wednesday mornings from 8:30-10:00am.    
  • Community isn’t built in isolation. As obvious as it may seem, it is important to note that community requires vulnerability.  The more vulnerable you are willing to become the greater degree of closeness you will experience.  There have been times, this past year, where I am dying inside and the last thing I want to do is go pray and let others see my struggles and heartbreaks.  I much rather isolate, but I have to fight against that if I want community.
  • You can’t force community. Because community is God-ordained, God’s Spirit is the Holy Orchestrator of knitting hearts and lives together.  Often the places where you think you could, or even should, find connection; it eludes you, which can lead to disappointment and the frustration of unmet expectations.  But the simple fact of the matter is  . . . you just can’t force it.

I am grateful for this group that God has given me.  I see it as a gift straight from His hand . . . for this season.  Yet, there have been many times in life where I have not had a sense of belonging and I bet there will be similar seasons in the future as well.  But for this season, I will thank Him for my mom friends and thoroughly enjoy the journey.

What about you, dear reader?  What have you learned about building community for yourself?  Do you have a sense of community in your life?  Or, does this blog post bring up feelings of sadness, emptiness, or longing?  If so, let me encourage you to pray and ask God to send you like-minded people who will do life with you.  Until He does, remember that although you may not have the type of community you would desire, you always have Jesus.  He truly is the nearest and dearest friend you could ever have (and that’s not just a platitude, but the honest truth!).  He often uses these seasons to draw you closer to Him.

Your Friend in Ministry,

Name3

Trusting God to Fulfill Your Desires

Hello friends!  It has been quite a while since I’ve posted on my blog, due to tech issues.  I finally asked my husband for help and he was able to get me up and running again in no time flat.  This was a good reminder to humble myself and ask for help sooner rather than later when I get into situations that are bigger than me.

I hope to get back into a somewhat regular routine of blogging again.  However, I have been surprised by this season of life, raising teenagers.  They require a lot of my time and attention, which makes time for other endeavors more challenging.  But because I know this season will be over in no time, I am making the most of it by giving it (and them) my full attention, which is the joy of my life.

Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to share the message for Mother’s Day at our church.  It was based on Hannah from the Old Testament, entitled “Trusting God to Fulfill Your Desires.”  I thought I would share the basics of the message with you.  If you’d like to hear the whole message, click on this link and it will take you to the video on our website from May 8, 2016.

You can find Hannah’s story in the first couple chapters of 1 Samuel.  If you are unfamiliar with her story, why not take a few minutes to read it now?

Hannah’s story teaches us that we can trust God to fulfill the desires that He’s placed within our hearts.

What did Hannah do with her desire?

  • She gave it to God. 1 Samuel 1:10
  • She made a vow. 1 Samuel 1:11
  • She fulfilled her vow. 1 Samuel 1:28

What did God do with Hannah’s desire?

  • He remembered Hannah. 1 Samuel 1:19
  • He gave Hannah what she wanted because he knew he could trust her to offer what she wanted back to God. 1 Samuel 1:20
  • Did something bigger than Hannah could have ever imagined.  1 Samuel 2:26

So, what can you do if a desire is consuming you?

  1. Determine if it is Godly or not.  If it is an ungodly desire, do whatever you can to remove it from your life.  Don’t rest until it is.
  2. Surrender it to Him daily.  Give it back to Him as often as you need to – even if it’s several times a day.
  3. Discipline your heart and mind to focus on God.  This is where it gets really challenging.  But a desire can be dangerous because it competes with God for first place in your heart and mind.  You could have the Godliest desire, that’s put in your heart by Him, yet it could become an idol in your life, if that’s all you think about.
  4. Believe that God remembers you and is working on your behalf.  The word remember means so much more than simply to recall – it means to express concern for someone, to act with loving care on their behalf.  God expresses concern for His people and acts with loving care on their behalf.  He did that for Hannah and He does that for you too.  When you submit a desire to God, you can trust that He is working on it.*The Lord will work out His plans for my life – for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.  Don’t abandon me, for you made me.  Psalm 138:8, NLT*For since the world began, no ear has heard and no eye has seen a God like you, who works for those who wait for Him!  Isaiah 64:4, NLT
  5. Have faith that God will fulfill your desire in one way or another.  Use the verses below to      bolster your faith in God while you’re waiting.

    *I remain confident of this:  I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.  Psalm 27:13-14

      *The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made.  Psalm 145:13, NIV

      *Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.  Psalm 37:4, NIV

      *He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; He hears their cry and saves them.  Psalm 145:19

*Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.   What a person        desires is unfailing love; . . . Proverbs 19:21-22a, NIV

How many know, that when you do these things I’ve shared with your desires, an amazing transformation takes place.  Crying out to God, especially when it’s done for many years, becomes less about our specific request and more about getting to know, trust and rely upon our God.  He becomes our heart’s desire.  I love the verse in Proverbs 19 because it perfectly concludes what God wants to speak to us today, through His Holy Spirit . . . Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.   What a person desires is unfailing love; . . . Proverbs 19:21-22a, NIV  I believe if you get to the root of every desire, it can be linked to the truth of this verse – what a person desires is unfailing love.  Hannah’s desire was to have a baby so that she could prove that God loved her and hadn’t forgotten about her.  If you examine your desire, deep down, you can most likely link it to the desire of unfailing love.  Aren’t you grateful that unfailing love is exactly what you are promised?  Through God sending Jesus to walk among us and give His life for us, He fulfilled each of ours greatest desire.  Unfailing love.  I want each of you to hear me right now.  You are loved.  You are not forgotten.  God right this very moment, is working on your behalf.  He can be trusted.  He is faithful to all His promises and loving towards all He has made.  You can be confident of this – you will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.

Your Friend in Ministry,

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