He looked up at me with his big brown eyes, “Mom, will you color with me?” Who can say no to a sick kid with brown eyes? Not this mom. So we spread out the crayons and self-containing paint brushes and smelly makers. (Score! Remember when smelly markers were the coolest thing ever? And only the coolest teachers had them? Well, now WE have them, so if that makes me cool, then so be it.)
After drawing a few hearts and flowers I started this project. Dots. Small dots. Lots of dots. Dots that take forever.
By the 11th red dot, I was over it. As I was entering into my time machine, transporting myself back to the days of rainbow bright and unicorns, these dots reminded me of how much I HATE hate hate process. Before I even started this little piece of art, I envisioned the finished project. But actually doing the work is a whole other cup of tea.
I hate process. There. I confess. But I made myself finish. And the whole time, I felt the pain of Jesus trying to turn that switch on my heart. And it’s not a flip switch. It’s a turn-one (and yes, that’s the official and proper name for it). By the time I picked up the yellow (lemon) marker I was pushing myself to the finish line. Trying to enjoy every dot, every size, every moment of creativity. In order for me to learn to love the journey, I have to take myself on the journey, over and over, I have to walk that road.
So today I forced myself down another road, to teach me to enjoy the process. And I hated almost every minute of it.
I loved the finish product but by the time I sanded the first plank, I had to remind myself of the beauty of the journey. That there are moments of frustration, and moments you have to force yourself through. Even when you don’t feel like it, you have to take one more step. And each “one more step” brings you closer to the end.
I’ve decided that I will regularly push myself to learn how to enjoy the journey. Even if it’s forcing myself to make colored dots on a piece of paper, I will force myself out of my comfortable, and sometimes unproductive bubble. If I want God to teach me something new, I have to do things differently than I’ve done before. Are you willing to do the same ?
You Are Loved,
In case you haven't noticed, it's Monday. With Monday's comes whining by 7 am, and this morning a sick child before 9. Let us not forget the empty fridge because I was too busy to go to the Walmart this weekend. My whiny complaints are actually pretty menial. I really enjoy my life, but what I always tend to do is build everything up, in this tall well-stacked tower, and just hold my breath as I wait for it to topple over.
I do this with my work, too. When I'm ready to start actually “working” (writing, ministry stuff, Biblical Study, Market Research, Blah Blah) I tower that up too, a tall pile of papers waiting to proof read, books to read, newspapers, books, peridocials, blah blah. Sometimes I just sit and stare at the pile, trying to climb the tower to the right floor, or maybe even just hang out at the top waiting for my knight to rescue me.
But in my long life of painstaking experience, I know that I can't sit and wait for anyone in shiny armor to ride up on a horse, because the back of a horse isn't exactly condusive to typing and reading, not for me anyway.
Growing up I had horrible experiences (plural) on horse. The summer after third grade, I was riding a horse at summer camp. The horse was tall, the horse was old. There were three of us riding it. The Texas summer heat was beating down, the trails seemed long. I was bored. The tree limbs were low, the girl in front of me was suppose to duck. But she didn't. All three of us BAM! fell right off. Mortified, but not hurt, I swore myself away from thousand pound animals from that day forward.
Fear. The F Word that motivates me to ditch horses, and over analyze the piles of work. I just fear not finishing, or not doing it well or right. My check lists are long, and none of my “To Do's” seem to get checks next to them. Then at the end of the day, I just hate myself for not getting anything done. It's an ugly vicious cycle. And torments me from Monday to Monday. I'm trying to break out of the cycle, but it's not as easy as riding a horse, that's for sure.
What is your “F” Word?
I remember when I first started in ministry. I had lots of naysayers, including people in my family. I was not the one expected to commit to full time ministry. That job was reserved for my much more “religious” brother who didn't commit as many sins as I did. Working in children's ministry was one of the only places in my life that made any sense at the time. Besides being a mom, it was the only thing that came natural and that I was good at.
Regardless of the comments from the doubters, I knew it was where I needed to be. But it didn't come without consequence or mistakes. I was so overwhelmed at that time in my life, trying to balance it all and be it all for Jesus that I lost a really great friend, and unfortunately hurt her in the process. I gave up opportunities to work elsewhere making more money, which as a single mom I needed.
No longer was I, or am I, able to make “gut” or logical decisions about my future. Every move I make or don't make involves prayer and more prayer and wise counsel, and often times tears. Me being in ministry has put my entire family in frustrating positions and financial difficulties.
Ha! I'm obviously not the salesman of the year when it comes to convincing you that ministry is awesome! Oh but it is! All of those sacrifices and struggles are worth it when you hear a teenager pray for the first time, or a kid run up to you and hug your leg on Sunday morning. When the kids in the neighborhood want to know when you will start a Bible study for them, and when teenagers don't want to move because youth group is so important to them. Then there are the proclaimed atheists who now know this Jesus that adores them. And the addicts who know that Jesus is the only answer.
It is just that in times like these, when me and my husband must make a hard decision where we don't seem to win either way, it is so hard not to feel guilty. Ministry is not just a sacrifice for me, but for my husband, for my children. I am so incredibly grateful that the sacrifice Jesus made was enough for my family to be 'all in.' But it is hard to swallow that in order for me to pursue what Jesus has for me, my husband must take a second job to support our family or work countless hours of overtime.
Ministry has these moments when you and your family must come together, completely unified, with faith in God that He will make all things right. It is ugly and beautiful all at once.
Don't give up.
What are some sacrifices you've made for ministry? Comment and let me know.
Lots of you are wondering, okay some of you, okay two of you are wondering, what is going on in my life. A few post ago, I mentioned that God was doing something to rock my world and no doubt He has.
Last Sunday was my last week serving on a church plant. The 3 1/2 year journey has never ceased to surprise me and even shock me. God has humbled me by using me, and taught me about building His church. After all this time, I've grown but not sure I know much more.
But I'm stepping out trying to use my slightly increased knowledge and a tremendous amount of faith growing a ministry out of my house. A year ago I began ministering to the misfit teenagers in my neighborhood and community. And now, well, they just keep coming. I just keep feeding them (both spaghetti and spiritual). For some reason God wants me to keep doing it, and on top of that, all these other things.
So now, I'm without a paying job, without a church, and without a clue as what to do next. But I'm certain, pretty certain, that I'm exactly where I need to be. I just have to figure out exactly how to do it.
I have to find some rhythm in my days, and accomplish something, anything, before the sun goes down bringing in the night, which brings another day. My greatest fear in all of this is wasting time accomplishing nothing. I'm pretty good at nothing. I can do days and days of nothing. I'm hoping that this will make the somethings, the anythings, mean so much more.
So for the two of you that asked, thank you. Pray for me. And since I have so much time on my hands, how can I pray for you? Comment and let me know.
“For three sins…even four, I will not turn back my wrath.”
My husband can be quite the funny guy. Sometimes, when the kids come home from school he will tell one of them that he got a call from the teacher and wants to know what happened. Whichever child he chooses to pick on gets a deer-in-the-headlight- look, obviously combing every memory of the day gone by to see if there is anything they possibly could have done to warrant a phone call. After a few moments the poor victim of the practical joke finally realize they’ve done nothing and everyone starts laughing. Except this one time, when my middle child was in second grade, he confessed to pushing a girl at recess. Even now, six years later, we all laugh about how what was intended for a joke turned out to be a time of confession.
We always have those moments with our kids when we really have to call them out on their behavior. To me, it’s the most dreaded time of parenting. In the first chapters of Amos we see God calling out the Nations of Israel sin by sin. Their sins boiled down to absence of worship of God and absence of justice. But the sins were many: violence, sending friends into exile, broken promises, lack of mercy, extensive anger, greed, disrespect, disobedience, stealing, mistreatment of the poor and sexual immorality. My guess if you really looked at this list, your family struggles with much of the same. Siblings hitting each other, friends being mistreated, anger issues among the youngest, disrespect toward parents and flat out disobedience of what you’ve asked to be done.
Most parents make excuses for their kids: they’re tired, they’ve had a rough day, they didn’t really mean it. We don’t want to see our kids suffer and most of the time it takes a commitment from us to follow through with discipline. Anyone who has ever grounded a child knows that it’s more punishment for ourselves than it is for the child. Who wants to deal with that?
But God dealt very seriously with his people when it came to their behavior. Time and again we see God deliver his message through Amos:
“I will not turn away its punishment”
God called them out on their sin, and explained specifically how he was going to handle it: I will send fire, I will cut off, I shall devour palaces, the strong shall not strengthen his power. God says, “I will punish you for all your iniquities.”
The word punishment has become taboo in the last decade. We should never punish a child, only discipline. Punishment has become a dirty word meaning violence and harshness. Discipline or punishment, whatever you want to call it, God was making himself very clear. He would not tolerate the Israelites behavior any longer. And it would require drastic actions to put his children back in their place.
Same is true for us. There are times we must be drastic in the way we discipline our children so that they really get the message and understand who is the authority. So many families, maybe even yours, are living out of balance because your children have too much power. What they want, what they say is what goes. This is what the Israelites thought, too.
God is clear with us, his children, that He is the authority and that he sets that standard. There is no grey area. And although God deals with us gently, he also deals with us with tremendous justice. We should desire to parent our children by His example to us.
Share with me:
Is God your authority and standard?
Where did you learn your parenting skills from?
Do your kids have too much say-so in your home?
What does the word discipline or punishment mean to you?