Tag Archives: mission

Intentional June – Connecting Gardening to God’s Glory, Week 4

Connecting Gardening to Gods glory

In June, I am picking a relevant scripture each week to focus on. My conversations with my kids will be about the verses, and bonus! – I’ve picked a craft to help us (and you!) talk through spiritual things.

Don’t forget – you’re the primary influencer in your kids’ lives, so be intentional about sharing God’s truths with them! I’d love to hear if you have success with these. Share in the comments!

Week 4 – Our Summer Experiment

We started an experiment at the beginning of this month. I asked the kiddos where they thought a baby seedling would grow the best – in a pot or in the garden bed?

summer experiment

We talked about the scientific method and hypotheses. What we didn’t talk about was gardening – we do that quite a lot around here (I post some pics on my Instagram), so they’re pretty familiar with the life cycle of a plant.

But how can I connect this to the Bible? There are plenty of ways to talk about plants and Scripture: new life, God’s providence, creation, His order.

But I wanted to talk about growing in godliness. That though Jesus has completed the work of salvation on the cross, God has still given us a life to live for his glory and to produce fruit (i.e., make disciples) – hallelujah for our mission!

Scripture focus:

 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love. For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately. (1 Peter 5:5-8, NET)

I love the connection here – we’re growing in godliness, “increasing in measure” just like a plant. When we put on godly qualities, we will be more productive in our relationship with Christ! We will actually be more intimate with him! Amazing!

I really want to emphasize with my kids that our salvation is sure, and we still have a mission on this earth – to give God glory in every way!

Sowing in Tears – A Pastor’s Wife on Sunday Morning

I’m thrilled to have my friend Colette Loudin sharing a post with us today – this post is so personally challenging to me, and I know it will be to you, too. Please give her some share love on Facebook, Pinterest, etc., and check out her blog Lessons from the Sparrow.

I hugged him close as he clawed and scraped and tried to kick his sister over and over again. He was so frustrated, and I was too. He grunted and groaned quietly as he thrashed about, giving no ear to the message his dad was preaching right in front of him. I tried to calmly restrain him as tears streamed down my face.
Sowing in Tears - Sunday morning

“Sundays are just so hard, Mom.” I know, sweetheart. I know they are. But they’re worth it, too.

This precious son of six years is life and energy and cuddles and punches. He’s the one that hears the gospel over and over and over again as I hold him close and talk through what went wrong. He brings tears and fears and joy and laughter. Sometimes I don’t know how to love him well. Sometimes I wonder if I’m getting in the way of his seeing Christ. Sometimes I absolutely lose it on him. Because I can’t understand how in the world he could do the very thing we just talked about not doing. And then I see me. And my sin. Over and over and over again. The Israelites followed that path. And so often I have, too. And God disciplined them. He showed grace. He broke, and He mended. He fought for His people. And God disciplines me. He shows grace. He breaks, and He mends. He fights for me.

My eyes closed and opened to look at my husband standing behind the pulpit. And this vision came into my mind—my tough child, grown. A man, tall in stature and wise in heart. Standing at that same podium in that same church. The sunlight beaming through the stained glass behind him. And as he speaks to the people whom he now joins in faith, he looks at that front row where he spent his youth. I’m there—the whispers of years and time have painted my hair and kissed my face. And as he looks at me on that front pew, our eyes meet. A flood of memories washes over him. Our battles against sin…together. His face softens as he remembers the hard Sundays. And he understands in that moment the beauty of those struggles. The reward of it all.

My heart quieted. There was hope in that vision for me. Hope that, maybe one day, I will see the fruit of this labor.

“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him.” Psalm 126:5-6

I have no guarantee that my son will grow into a wise man who follows the Lord. There’s no protocol I could follow to produce a man of faith. That is entirely in the Lord’s hands. And there’s a freedom in that, too. It doesn’t depend on me. However, I do have the holy and heavy responsibility to diligently display God’s patience and goodness and grace to my children. To fight alongside them toward victory. Bearing the daily weight of that in the living out brings weeping and sorrow in response to my son’s sin. It is no easy thing to mother.
This Sunday, we will sit together and pray. He will pray, as he often does, that God will help him to listen and to obey. That God will calm his body and mind and help him do what he knows he should do in the church service. And he might find victory this Sunday. And he might not. But when he messes up, I will hug him close, love him gently, and speak the same truth into his little big heart. And I’ll hold that sweet vision ever before me. That one day, just maybe, I shall come home with shouts of joy because of the beautiful work God has done within him through these years of sowing. And I will look my precious, grown boy in the face, and our hearts will join with the Israelites in proclaiming, “ The Lord has done great things for us; we are filled with joy.”

 

Colette LoudinColette is a lead pastor’s wife and mother of four whose passion is to awaken women to the great need of rightly studying the word and being an active part of the local church, no matter what season of life they are in. She loves all things birth and newborns, conversations about food allergies and gut health, and reaching out to the overlooked. You can follow her blog at lessonsfromthesparrow.wordpress.com.

A Picture of Unity in Marriage

In the past week, God has given Brad and I two really cool pictures of the unity in our marriage.

A Common Mission

The first thing God showed us is that we are united by a common mission. Brad and I are convinced that a big part of glorifying God is by submitting to His mission to GO and make disciples. We are burdened every day by the lost around us.

One way we try to be a part of that mission is by loving our neighbors. It’s not always straight-forward how you can love someone on your street. But in this case, we have been building a relationship with a couple down the road who just had a baby (yahoo!).

I kept driving by their house last week and noticing the leaves in their front yard. They were just there, beckoning to be raked – in contrast to the houses on either side of them. I thought to myself, I bet that’s the last thing on their minds. It wouldn’t take very long to rake them up; I wonder if Brad would be on board with that.

I decided to bring it up with him that evening. Well, when Brad came home, we were chatting about the day, and he said (without any prompting from me), “I noticed that their leaves need raked.”

Wow.

I guess the Spirit really wanted us to rake those up! And I’m glad. When we did it, it blessed ME so much. The kids were awesome, too. Emma hung out in the stroller for about an hour (this is not usual). Samuel had a snack, played in the leaves, and blew bubbles. He was unusually low maintenance. God was really present in our work.

A Common Conviction

Also last week, Brad kept coming home talking about how God was moving him to look at our giving. Are we giving enough? How can we give more? What can we do without? How can we sacrifice? All great questions to ask yourself.

I hadn’t been asking myself the same questions, but God was also making me check my thoughts about “things.”

You see, I had a few “purge” piles of stuff I’ve been clearing out, getting ready for our neighborhood garage sale. We had planned last January to get a new stove this January when the sales hit, so we also had our old stove, the purge piles, a bookshelf, a trunk, baby stuff, etc. We talked about it and decided to give the lady who cleans our house once a month the stove; she had told us her mom can use anything for a home.

I decided, you know, out of the goodness of my heart, to also let her check out the purge piles, bookshelf, et al and see if she needed anything there. I expected her to find a few things they could use and leave the rest.

Well, she took every last scrap.

Let me clarify: she is not a greedy lady. She gives us a very good rate on cleaning our home, let’s us call the day before, plays with our kids. She’s a believer and sweet as can be.

I wasn’t upset at all  that she took everything, but it caught me off guard. I found myself thinking to myself that night, what was in those piles? Like I was worried or something. Hello! It was in the pile to be gone!! But once it was gone, I was all anxoius. Every time that question came up, I had to quiet it with the truth that God has provided for all of our needs and then some. I was thrilled that she could find a use and a home for every single thing – even if she is going to sell it herself or something – what a blessing!

It was a great reminder to truly hold what God has given me with an open hand and to always be looking for ways to give it away for the kingdom.

I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17:20-21, NIV)

What picture of unity have you seen lately?

Does Being a Pastor’s Wife Ever Get Easier?

It’s been a while since I’ve talked about being a pastor’s wife. But I don’t want to disregard those pastor’s wives who read this blog and are looking for help and hope!

Do you ever wonder if being a pastor’s wife gets easier? You hope it does, right? But is that hope a desperation, like If it never gets better I want out. Or is that hope a confident expectation, like God chose my husband to be a pastor, and He will provide for our situation.

I truly pray that it’s the latter for you when you’re struggling. Thankfully, as much as I’ve struggled with being a pastor’s wife at times, God always made it clear to me that my husband is called to ministry, and I feel a strong conviction to be 100% his encourager in that. Yup, even when my heart is at its worst, God blesses me with His will.

I have only been a pastor’s wife for close to 4 years now – unless you count 4 years of full time seminary (which perhaps you should because that was the most difficult time in our marriage!) – and I’m not the wife of a senior pastor. I’m know beyond a shadow of a doubt there are things a senior pastor’s wife deals with that I know nothing about.

But if I had to answer this question, I would shout YES! It does get easier!

And sometimes it’s still harder, but in the big fat general sense – easier! I don’t have time in this post to address those temporary hard times; I will save that for another time.

If I had to boil it down, I think being a pastor’s wife gets easier most often due to these reasons:

Time

Time gives me the opportunity to look at the big picture. Instead of focusing on nitty gritty grievances, I can see how the entire role (and journey) of being a pastor’s wife is a blessing, a learning experience, and a unique way God chose to train me up.

Relationships

When you’re a pastor’s wife, unless you are at the beginning of a church, you usually walk into a fully formed church, complete with fully formed relationships and fully formed ideas of what pastor’s wives are like. One might say it takes a lot of confidence to walk into a place like that and be able to integrate easily. It does take confidence – confidence in the Lord’s power to build you up with His people. Confidence in the unity He desires you to have with others. Confidence in who He made you to be and acceptance of the fact that you will not be everyone’s best friend.

As a pastor’s wife, I don’t have the luxury of building deep relationships capriciously. I actually have to be mindful of the accountability partners I choose. But once the Lord has provided believers who know you well and help build you up in Him, being a pastor’s wife becomes much easier. You have someone else you can rely on for prayer and strength! It’s a burdern lifter.

Building relationships with the lost is also crucial. Keeping God’s mission at the forefront of your life takes the focus off of yourself and puts it back on Jesus. You don’t have to “be the pastor’s wife” with the lost. You are you. Seeing the fruit of these relationships makes you want to keep going!

Spiritual Maturity

As a believer, it’s essential that you remain connected to God. As a pastor’s wife, I’m not sure how I could make it without His strength. As He matures me through His word and other believers, living out his calling in my life is just plain easier.

So, pastor’s wife, what else has encouraged you in God’s calling?

Ways to Change Your Heart from the Served to the Servant

Being Jesus to the poor and lost

Two Christmases ago, my friend Renee invited me to join her to serve with Brown Santa for a Saturday. Brown Santa is an organization that helps provide a special Christmas for struggling families who live in the Austin suburbs.

I’m now ashamed to admit that I didn’t take her up on the offer.

I do think that we had some conflicts – the holiday season definitely provides plenty of those, doesn’t it!? However, in my heart, I didn’t want to serve.

I made very pathetic excuses that were cloaked in spirituality:

  • We’re already helping another family provide Christmas for their children.
  • We give money to our church and other organizations that help serve the poor and the lost.
  • We’re busy trying to reach our friends and family for Jesus.

Now that I read that last point, it kind of makes me sick. Here’s why:

I was at a community group leader meeting where we were talking about ways our groups could live “on mission” together. One of the group leaders said, “Our group has decided we are not satisfied doing nothing, so we’re going to do something.” They decided that “something” was choosing a people group to serve.

They personally know people who are not believers in Jesus who are on board with serving others. What do you think one of the biggest witnesses for those people will be? It might be their believing friends’ stories. It might be a tidy Biblical presentation of the gospel. But I’d be willing to bet that if the Holy Spirit leads them to Himself, they would claim that they were influenced to Jesus because they saw their friends being Jesus to others.

I had a prime opportunity to help Renee be Jesus. To help others who would have been with us see Jesus.

And I blew it.

Now I’m not going to beat myself up about it. Because if it took me a year to realize this, then God obviously had to do a number on my heart. Which takes time. You know… if you’re stubborn… like me. 🙂

But I’m not going to let an opportunity like that slip by again.

I’m reconsidering service! Here’s how:

  • I’m keeping my eyes and heart open for ways I can serve. Preferably, I would love an opportunity that involves my family and community group.
  • I’m rejecting the notion that I can just give money to organizations that do the work.
  • I’m listening for the needs of people around me: in my neighborhood, at my church, where we play, etc.
  • I’m praying God will show me clearly what I should do, and what I need to give up in order to do His will.
  • I’m not going to forget Jesus’s word on this:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’  “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:35-40, NIV)

You, the Discipler

I knew this would happen – I just knew it! This warrior prayers thing is changing me more than it’s changing my son.

Oh wait, that’s a good thing, right!?

Since the 21 Days of Prayers for Sons began, we have prayed over 10 verses each weekday on these topics: Obedience, Submission to Authority, Integrity, Avoiding Foolishness, and Pride. Are those not things you would love to be strong (or weak for Pride)  in your sons!? What about yourselves?

I have certainly been convicted by many of these scriptures in my own life. And I’m sure that’s by design. If the word is not working itself out in my life, how can I expect my son to respect it? Only by God’s grace – which does happen mommas, so don’t beat yourself up if your sons are older and you just started following God closely – He alone is powerful enough to capture his heart. But we do have the opportunity and responsibility to be our sons’ greatest discipler.

As I pray each passage of scripture for Samuel, I think each time, “Oh yes, God! Please let this be true in his life!” Of course, I would love for my son to have perfect behavior, perfect attendance, a perfect wife, and a perfect life plan, but that’s not what this is all about! This is about his heart! This is about him thinking that Jesus is better than everything – better than disobedience, better than rebelling, better than momentary pleasures, better than foolish choices and even better than humility.

That’s what I want for him. For him to know that God is worthy of glory, and that he can best give glory to God by being a small picture of His grace and His love to the world. That the words he shares with friends about Christ will have more impact the more Christ-like he is.

Praying through these scriptures is making me more passionate about what God wants for Samuel – yippee! I want His will for Sam’s life; not mine. My heart is being oriented around the words God has given us through the Bible. The prayers for things I haven’t experienced yet in Samuel (overt disobedience, foolish mistakes, etc.) are giving me a taste of what is to come – and what better way to teach him than by using God’s own words? What better way to pray for him than through the scriptures? What better way to keep my parenting in check?

A lovely side effect I’m experiencing of the warrior prayers is a tangible example of praying without ceasing.

As I chop veggies in the kitchen, with Sam running around as well, my prayer sheet is on the island – the words on my lips. As I pass by the dining room table (where the “paper monster” lives in my house currently), I see the prayers on paper, so I pause on the couch for a few minutes and take time to pray. When I wake up in the morning, I’m excited to grab the new page of prayers picked just for Samuel. Just for me. Just for today.

Bold Vision

What do you think it’s like in Libya right now? The rebels are buzzing with the electricity of progress, but they also must fear the recent comments of their leaders – that they will “never ever surrender” to the rebel forces.

Doesn’t that make you thankful? Grateful that we don’t have to live in a state of alarm?

I wonder if the same kind of *zing* was in the Jerusalem air 2000ish years ago. This man Jesus – a prophet? a possessed freak? the christ? – is performing miracles left and right and claiming to be the Son of God – the Messiah that was promised to the Jews, God’s chosen people.

This month on Friday’s, I’m reading through the book of John and posting at Some Girl’s Website. Join us here!

No Insecurity Gospel

This month, I will be posting on Fridays instead of Saturdays. My friend Michelle at Some Girl’s Website asked if I would join her in reading through the book of John (leading up to Easter), and post about it on Fridays. Since John is my favorite gospel, I thought it would be fun! And a great opportunity to start preparing my heart for Easter.

…Except that really, Easter is today. Just like Advent. Christ came to the world and died to pay the penalty of my sins. He rose from the grave three days later in triumph over death, and he is now at the right hand of the Father until his next advent.

Do you believe He’s coming again?

Read more here!

Sunday Morning Single Parent

While Brad and I were dating, the pastors of our college ministry were faithful to teach us about God’s mission – His desire for His children to submit their lives to His leading and accept salvation and sanctification by the Spirit (my nutshell paraphrase, sorry for the mumbo jumbo). They were further faithful to teach us that God desires for us to be part of that mission for the world.

Our college ministry had a great “seeker-friendly” Sunday night service. So when Brad and I would go to church, we would separate, sitting in different places, hoping to connect with students who might need someone to reach out to them. It sounds kind of lame, but rest assured, we made other lame attempts to reach out to students during the week, too.

People who knew us often thought it was strange that we didn’t sit together. They would ask, “Are you and Brad OK? Are you fighting?” Embarrassed, we would try to explain what we were doing.

I guess I got spoiled once we were married. We knew that our ministry to others would begin extending to other marrieds, so we would sit together at church!

I took it for granted that we could drive the same car to and from church, that we could hear each other sing as we worshiped the Lord within touching distance, that we could walk up to unfamiliar faces as a couple.

Because now? Now I am a Sunday morning single parent.

Sidenote: I hope those of you who are full-time single parents (or even single parents in practice) don’t mind if I borrow that phrase for half of the day on Sunday. I absolutely have no idea how you manage what you do. And I pray for you when I think of it. I pray that God would provide people in your life to help and that your children would be “easy” on you. I don’t desire to compare myself to how difficult your role is.

When I arrive at church on Sunday mornings, I am harried. I am probably late because I have no idea how to attend church when I can’t force Samuel’s morning nap to not cut into service. And if you think he cries now while I’m in service, just imagine what it would be like if he had not slept.

I have tried everything in regards to getting to church for the whole service. I have woken myself and Samuel up early, hoping his morning nap would be over by the time church or at least the sermon starts. I have taken him to church an hour early to ward off the sleepies. I have tried letting him sleep as long as he needs to, and I have tried waking him up early from said nap. I have gone to church for as short a time as 20 minutes. I have nursed him at home and nursed him there. Either way, I.am.late.

Being late in and of itself stresses me out, but then there is the actual child handling. I have long since quit bringing my brick of a Bible to church, relying instead on the verses projected on the screen. Sometimes I wheel in a stroller thinking that will help. But at the end of the service, I’m usually carrying Samuel so he can visit with everyone (did I mention my non-crawling 9 month old is 21 pounds?), and then I’m dragging a stroller behind me with the diaper bag slung on my back. Can you imagine what I will be like with two little ones?

Every few Sundays, I teach children’s ministry to the PreK class. I have to be there early and stay late. These days are especially difficult to manage, especially when Samuel is wailing in the nursery, and I am teaching the hilarious PreK kids just praying that God will give Sam peace and bless Jenn and Karyn as they try to calm him down.

I look back on the pastor’s wives I have known who had children and wonder how they did it with such grace. Did they struggle with this like I do? Did they miss worshipping as a unit? Or did they let all bitterness go and find joy?

One morning, I was talking to my friend Jenn. Her husband Steve plays the drums most mornings at church, and their son Hudson is a year older than Samuel. Did you catch that? Steve plays most mornings, so who has Hudson? Jenn. She is not a pastor’s wife.

I said to her, “I forget that you are also a Sunday morning single parent,” and she admitted that it’s a point of contention in their home sometimes.

I started thinking about all of the other amazing people in our body who are Sunday morning single parents. At some time or another, most of us at Crossroads are. You see, in a church plant, everyone has to serve on Sunday mornings, either in set-up, children’s ministry, worship, greeting, etc.

To think I had been whining in my mind every Sunday for months about how hard it is to get to church, be at church, serve at church, and come home without my husband, and so many of our members are doing it alongside me. Wow. It must be worth it.

And it is. The vision of our church is to see every man, woman, and child in our area repeatedly hear the good news of salvation offered through Jesus Christ. Sunday morning service is a time when people are checking out God in a different way – maybe for the first time, maybe in a different setting than they’re used to, or maybe after a very long hiatus. It’s worth it to be there to connect and worship with these visitors…and my fellow Sunday morning single parents.

Oh Father, again you have humbled me. You have shown me how proud and arrogant I am to think that I am alone in my inconveniences. When I am throwing myself a pity party, help me to see the REAL truth. Open my eyes to the lies I believe that are hardening my heart against You and others. Bless my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to have stamina in the race set before us.

Stop Trying and Start Trusting

I am a doer. By nature, my first instinct – for almost anything – is just to jump in and do. Even in college, as a mathematics major, I would just plunge into the problem head-first, using brute force first. This is the worst idea ever – you should always think through how you’re going to tackle a problem before jumping in! I used quite a few erasers up, let me just say.

As a follower of Jesus, I believe I am saved (from my sinful nature that separates me from God) by faith, not by anything that I do.

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them. (NETBible, Ephesians 2:8-9)

But my doer-ness attempts to usurp this free gift all the time. I try to do for God’s favor rather than realizing that he sees me through the lens of Jesus’s work on the cross.

I started this blog because God was teaching me things that I couldn’t keep to myself. I share some of these things with some of you occasionally IRL (in real life), but I felt like writing was a good venue to share these teachings with people I will never get to meet IRL.

Little did I know how much God was going to use this blog to change me. Instead of doing, I get to listen to Him, contemplate His word, put those thoughts down.

Once I started, though, I found this wonderful blogging community online! Amazing people sharing amazing things through blogs. And I wanted to be a part of the club. Right now. Yesterday would be better.

I first heard about The Relevant Conference on Blogging With Amy. When I read their mission statement, I was floored and thought – I MUST go! But that was only a month ago, and the conference is this week. So I researched other blog conferences and started making plans in my mind and – well – started doing.

Some of this doing was beneficial, but some of it started getting in the way of my listening.

And then last week, I was studying the feeding of the five-thousand (Mark 6). The apostles asked Jesus if they could send the crowd away for supper or, on prompting from Jesus, if they should go to the grocery to buy food for everyone. They felt the need to do. It was all they thought of – like me – they went head first into brute force. And Jesus proceeded to blow them thoroughly away by miraculously spreading around five loaves and two fish to everyone (not to mention the doggy bags).

I felt like God was saying Stop trying and start trusting.

Please do not hear that I am saying we are not supposed to take action; we are. But at this time, I needed to stop the action and just let God lead me back to the floor by his feet.

Imagine my utter shock, then, when a very innocent little Twitter party contest for a Relevant Conference ticket (hosted by Amy Bayliss and Jolanthe) led to MY WINNING! YES! Thursday, I will be traveling to Pennsylvania for the conference!! I can’t believe how he worked out so many little details to get me there. And he is still working out little details, like free business cards by Kaira!

Did God need to do this to be glorified? No! Not at all. But He did it anyway, and I know that I did not.

My Father, as Laura reminded me today – You love me! And you wanted to show me in this way! Thank you most of all for the reminder that you call me to YOU, not to blogging. I love you and trust you.