Thursday, June 26, 2008

I Need Your Advice . . .

In the last six or so weeks, we have:
  • moved houses
  • celebrated my daughter's 5th birthday
  • finished pre-school
  • celebrated my husband's seminary graduation
  • had VBS
  • visited family in Ohio twice
  • visited my mother-in-law in the hospital
  • had three dance recital performances
  • vacationed in Florida
To say the least, things have been insanely crazy. We Vinsons like to do (or try to do) everything at the same time. So now, I am looking at July's calendar and I am awe struck and asking God just what is He doing . . . .

There is hardly anything on it . . .  I can handle being busy. I am used to it. It forces me to be organized and on top of things. But, a blank calendar is a little scary and intimidating to me. It is when I have too much time on my hands that little things fall through the cracks and sin is even more tempting to me than before. 

Yes, there are still things to be done. Don't get me wrong. Having just moved in, there are boxes to unpack, a hallway to paint, pictures to be hung and weeds to be pulled. But none of these things have a real deadline, and my motivation for their completion is slim to none. On top of that, I need to have a yard sale and I can assure you that there is no motivation at all for that undertaking right now. 

In addition, this is my last summer before my daughter starts kindergarten. There are so many things that I want to do with her. But I know myself. Without structure or routine or a plan, none of those things will take place.

So here is where I need your input and sage advice . . .  Where do I begin? What do I do first? I don't want to waste the month ahead, if God so ordains to give it me. What are your summer plans? 

I realize that if your husband is a student minister or in charge of children's ministry events, your summer is not your own. Ladies, how can we encourage these ministers' wives to make summer special for their families while working around the church's calendar?

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Happiest Place on Earth

Recently, we were blessed with our first vacation in years. Neither my husband nor myself knew how much we needed the break until we were there. Our five year old daughter was delighted to have both us to herself for a whole week. It was wonderful to be away from the phone, the long-to-do list, and our normal, crazy routine. 

It was just us and the other thousands visiting Walt Disney World. 

We had a fantastic time, exploring this wonderland through the eyes of our daughter, Riley. It truly was a magical place where her (and my) dreams came true. I loved watching her imagination work. She loved every minute and I realized how blessed we were when she went days without complaining about walking everywhere, standing in line or the stifling heat. 

We didn't have to look far to appreciate that she is the exception, rather than the rule of typical Disney World behavior. Actually, my husband and I had a running joke. Every few minutes it would seem that we would pass an upset child or a stressed out parent totally losing it here in the middle of "The Happiest Place on Earth." We honestly couldn't understand why parents would bring some children that were really just too young to enjoy the park. It seemed to be more torture to these little ones, and too much hard work for the parents for it to be any real fun at all. 

The irony of the child's frustration mixed with the mother's anger against the setting of fairy tales, adventures and all things fun was funny to us . . .  probably because Riley wasn't the frustrated child and I wasn't the angry mom. We avoided those problems with a positive mindset and the presence of the Holy Spirit. Having His help and His perspective, Disney could be the fun place that Walt imagined.

All of this really got me to thinking . . . At Disney everyone is supposed to be happy and having fun, but by watching many of those there you would never guess it.  There was crying and yelling and, yes, even some gnashing of teeth. I really couldn't understand why certain people bought tickets and had chosen to spend their vacation there. 

But aren't our churches like this? .  . . We are supposed to have joy and be welcoming. There is supposed to be unity and healing, yet, we often feel attacked rather than attached. No wonder the world outside our stained-glass windows is uninterested in the gospel. Why would they want to choose to spend time within our doors? It doesn't matter that it is free . . . 

I totally understand why they wouldn't want to subject themselves to all our drama. If God hadn't given me a love for the church, I know I wouldn't want to have any part of it either. The irony at our churches is far from funny. No inside jokes here. My question/challenge to us, as minister's wives, is how can we actively pursue what the church is supposed to be? How can we seek to change the image of our churches in our communities for the glory of God?

I believe in prayer. I believe in the Holy Spirit's work. I believe God is readying is Bride for His return . . . . and that's no fairy tale . . . 

Monday, June 23, 2008

Protection from Myself

"To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kind-hearted and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing."
1 Peter 3:8-9 NASB

Recently, I was challenged in how I would respond to a situation that I am sure you all would be able to relate to: Dear people I love seemed to have put me in yet another challenging situation. I know how I wanted to respond, how I felt justified to respond. But I knew that wasn't how I should respond.I mean for once, I wanted to respond the way I wanted to respond . . .

BUT,  God graciously wouldn't let me. He used verses like the two above to speak to me in my quiet times. On a recent road trip, He used the fact my radio wouldn't work to force me to listen to old CDs full of lyrics that spoke to my heart. He gently reminded me that I have asked Him to change me. He is my "audience of One." The situations and the people that He "endured" were so much more "challenging" then what I was facing. And without love anything we might do is worthless. I am called to a higher purpose.

I didn't realize that I was struggling with these things. My sin was my own self-righteousness, that I was denying that I even had . . That was what everyone else was dealing with right? No, God seemed to gently say. This isn't about them,it is all about you.

I have heard Beth Moore say more than once something about how she wished God could just teach her in the classroom and didn't have to take her on so many field trips. I totally agree . . .

I think my posts this week will be kinda scattered in theme. I feel like I've been kinda scattered in all my busy-ness. But I am sure thankful that God, in all of it, has once again protected me from myself . . . 

Can you relate?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Frazzled Female

Have you ever felt like there should be more than just one of yourself? Have you ever wished for a duplicate of yourself in order to get everything on the list done? Well, I sure have. The past couple of weeks have been packed with so many errands, events, and travel that my head is swimming. As a bible study calls it, I am a frazzled female.

Personally, I could use a second me today. Before I left for our mission trip I mailed some insurance information and a cute and silly note to my youngest son. He was to mail the form back to our agent. As of last night he had not received the information so I stopped into my local agent for another copy.

Well dear sisters, apparently my life was pretty overwhelmed and I was in need of a second me when I mailed the form. My sweet agent laughed and told me that I had mailed the form to her with that cute and silly note. Imagine my shock and embarrassment. Thankfully, my agent is a wonderful Christian lady who fully understands. We both had a great laugh at my cost.

Of course, then I had to call my son and explain the situation. Now my family knows that I am half crazy anyway but Bryan quickly confirmed that I had reached a point of no return. He was rolling with laughter. Bad thing was that he was driving and almost had a wreck. (Ironic that the form I sent him was for a safe driving record.) I had to defend my honor by saying that I was doing way too much and that he, his dad, and brother had driven me over the edge.

Unfortunately, there is no other me. I can only do so much in a day. I lack in the organizational and administrative talents so I tend to put more on myself than I should. However, God has given me the ability to laugh at myself and make others laugh as well (sometimes at my expense). Sure, I would love to have a second me to help with my responsibilities. Problem is both of us would probably run into each other in all the confusion.

I think I will just stick to the one me. I know her weaknesses and strengths pretty well. I know that God will guide me through the tasks before me. I also know that when I am overloaded and I do a dumb stunt like mailing something to the wrong person God will provide an escape of laughter and of course chocolate.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Sisterhood Support

While checking my week worth of emails yesterday, I read one from a former teenager I taught in Bible study. This precious young lady is now married to a awesome young man (another one of my teenagers) who feels God's call to ministry. They are both still in college but have been serving in a small church in the youth position.

When they first married, I briefly shared with this young lady that sometimes ministry is hard. Sometimes the support is not there and sometimes people can just be mean. The main thing was when those times come that both she and her husband keep their focus on God's call.

Well dear sisters this young couple has hit a brick wall. In short they are experiencing a lack of help from parents and the pastor. They love their youth group and apparently have seen growth. What they need is a few parents willing to step in and help on events. However, because of a rather large children's program, no one is coming forward. As a result and after much prayer on this young couples part, they feel that God is leading them away from this church. They are seeking what God would have them do next.

Ladies, I can tell you that this email is filled with frustration and disappointment. It just breaks my heart to see them facing this difficulty so early in ministry. We all have been in their shoes. I cannot tell you the number of times in our ministry that we have faced the wall. Honestly, sometimes it makes me want to throw up my hands and quit. However, that is what Satan wants. My husband reminds we that we are called to ministry to bring glory to God.

I shared with my dear young sister that she and her husband need to truly seek God and look for opportunities to serve. They need to view this time in ministry as a learning curve. God does not just call us to ministry to throw us to the lions. He promises to walk with us and support even when we do not see Him at the time.

I would like to ask each of you who reads this post to pray for this young couple and their ministry. If you have any words of advice or encouragement for them, feel free to post. In our unique sisterhood we must stand together and support another in the good times and in the difficult times.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

On A Mission From God

The mind fog and weariness of our Iowa mission trip is very slowing leaving my body. Trust me, I had to drink a couple of diet sodas and eat Peanut M & Ms in order to keep going yesterday. This morning, as I forced my body to take my walk, I began to ponder what God might want to say through me today. It was then that Randy's face came to mind.

Randy is one of the members at Crossroads Community Church in Grimes, Iowa. He along with all the other members work hard for the Lord. They know their community is lost in sin. This group of Christians willingly become all things to Grimes in order to reach some for Christ.

As our mission team was working the Fantastic Day booths on Saturday, Randy was behind the scene making sure things were running smoothly. After a couple of hours he approached a small group of us and told us that he was going to take his children on some of the rides. He felt assured that we could handle the booths and behind the scenes management. We told him to go and spend time with his children and not to worry about things at the booths.

The next day at their worship service in the high school lobby, Randy stood before the group gathered. With tears in his eyes Randy shared with us what our mission team meant to him. He had worked the Fantastic Day booths for several years all day long and never got to spend any time with his family at the festival. He told us that when he walked away on Saturday from his assigned job at the festival God gave him a peace. He knew our team cared and loved Crossroads Community Church and the people of Grimes. He finally had to hand the microphone to someone else as he literally broke down crying.

I can honestly say I was crying too. I have been on many mission trips and only planted seeds. I have never seen the work touch someone's life. However, Randy's testimony allowed our mission team to see God at work. None of us could ever imagine that simply relieving Randy from his responsiblities at the festival to spend time with his children would allow this godly man to see Christ revealed more fully.

Yes, the days were filled with hard work and sweat but it was all worth it. We were on a mission from God. It was to share Christ love with Randy. What is your mission?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

A New Vision

I am a road weary warrior today. I have bloodshot eyes and sore muscles. I know that just trying to focus on today's task will be a struggle. However, all of it is worth it.

After attending the SBC in Indianpolis last week, my husband and I met a group from our church in Iowa for a family mission trip. We were working with Crossroads Community Church in Grimes.

We all hit the ground running on Thursday morning. Some of the men tackled remodeling a home of a church member. The rest of the crew began setting up for the community Funtastic Days. We also did some painting at a community center and handed out fliers for this weeks FCA sports camp that the church is hosting.

Saturday we spend all day at the festival. We walked the parade route and told people about the sports camp. After lunch we worked the church booth at the festival. To draw kids in we played a question and answer game show. From there many kids came to the face painting booth. I believe this is where the real ministry began.

Our adults and kids sat for a few minutes talking with the kids and parents. While they painted the faces of the children, our team was sharing the simple gospel represented by the colors of black, red, white, yellow, and green. Many of the children and parents did not attend church but they willingly listened. Several families wanted to meet Bro. Jason and hear more about the church and their ministry.

Crossroads is a small church that meets in a high school lobby. They do not have pews, hymnals or other items that many of our churches have. However, this group of about 70 people have a wonderful fellowship and are open to the outside world. They are so involved in the small community of Grimes that when you mention Crossroads Church everyone always said, "Oh, I know that church. They do alot for our community."

Our group came back with a new vision for ministry. We are a larger church and we are often set in our ways. We want to step up our ministry and be more open to the community around us.
I think it would be great if our church work in our community was so significant that the response from the people would be "Oh, I know that church. They do alot for our community."

So girls, what is your church doing to reach out to your community?

Thursday, June 12, 2008

I'm Listening God

I was taught as a young child to read through the Bible. My dad would check and make sure I read everyday. We would start in January and be expected to be finishing Revelation by December. We did not have One Year Bibles, or other plans, we just read through each year.

As I read through year after year, God began to show me this is how He speaks to me. Everyday He has a plan and as I pick up His Word, He lays it out. 'The Living Word', there is nothing else like it.

Now when I pick up my Bible and open where I last left off, I look to God and ask "what"? What is it you want to tell me? I know there is never a time that I go to His Word that He does not have something to tell me. He has a plan to be changed, a path to walk, a sin to be confessed or correction to be made in my life.

I keep a Bible with me all the time. I keep one in my car for those times I have to wait. I look at the times stuck in traffic, sitting in a doctor's office, waiting for my children or husband as God's way of saying, "I need to tell you something".

Now when God stops me, I pick up my Bible and ask, "what do you want to show me, change about me, teach me?"

Are you listening? He is Speaking!

Psalm 46:10 "Be still, and know that I am God."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

God's Word

As a minister's wife, you have more opportunities to hear God's Word than most women.

We attend church services regularly. Many of us hear sermons on Sunday morning, Sunday night and Wednesday nights. Some of you may even listen to your husband as he prepares to teach or preach. Beside these times of Bible teaching, there is Sunday school, women's Bible studies, special events, weekend retreats, revivals and more.

Considering this fact, as a minister's wife, how much time do you need in God's Word?

Jeremiah said, "Your words were found and I did eat them and they became the joy and rejoicing of my soul".

Eat them - not snack occasionally, not scan, browse or even just listen. Eating requires an action by me. It requires me to pick up the food, put in my mouth, chew, swallow and digest. This action allows the food to incorporate into every part of my body.

As minister's wives, we must take time to 'eat' God's Word. Take time to read, study, memorize, meditate, obey and share. These activities allow God's Word to incorporate into every part of our lives.

Don't let satan lull you into laziness, by allowing someone else to chew for you.

Dig in! Fill Up! God wants to talk to you personally today and become the 'joy and rejoicing of your soul'.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Psalm 116:5 "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His Saints."

I drove to North Carolina this past week to speak at Ridgecrest. As I was driving I called to check on my sweet friend, Katrina. Katrina has been fighting ovarian cancer.

Her husband answered the phone and told me she had not been awake for several days and her son was sitting beside her. As we talked and prayed, she opened her eyes. Steve quickly hung up and a few short minutes later called me back. He said, "Katrina is with Jesus." She opened her eyes and looked at Steve and her son, Isaac and mouthed the words, "I love you". Then she was with Jesus.

Katrina has been one of my best friends for the past 20 years. She walked with me through the death of my sweet, pastor husband. She prayed me through my son's cancer and then my own cancer. I so love Katrina.

As I drove to Ridgecrest I cried out to my Father! "I am going to miss her, Lord. Her husband and son are going to miss her. I hurt for them and me. Please, Lord, help me turn this grief into rejoicing. I know where she is, but I hurt."

As I cried and drove, my wonderful Father in heaven reminded me of one of my last conversations with my earthly father.

My dad was dying of cancer and as I sat with him, he asked me to find the verse that said the death of God's children was precious to Him. I found Psalm 116:5 and read it out loud to my dad. "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."

I told my dad, I did not understand. At that point, my dad shared with me what he felt God was saying. I will never forget and will forever be comforted. He said, "Karen, I love when you call me on the phone and I hear your voice. I love when you send me cards and write me letters or notes. I love to receive pictures from you, but what I really desire more than these is to see you with my own eyes! I want to hug you, hold you, laugh with you and see the expression in your eyes and on your face. I want 'face to face' fellowship with you!"

My God loved Katrina so much, that He could no longer wait for 'face to face' fellowship with her. She is now in His arms, being hugged and loved by the "God who made the heavens and the earth"! What a wonderful truth.

I pray this will help you as you walk with your friends, family and church members. We will all someday get to see our Father's face. Feel His arms around us and hear Him call us "precious".

Thursday, June 5, 2008


Well, it has just been one of those months!!!! You know what I am talking about...the kind where there is not enough time to possibly get done all that you need to accomplish. You beg God to send a legion of angels to help you because you know that is the only way to check off everything on your list. That is the kind of month I have had....

To begin with, our nephew graduated Mother's Day weekend in Arkansas, which is a 12 hour drive. After the commencement (another hour away) we were driving back to my sister's home when got into some terrible weather. There were tornadoes all around and one of them touched down five miles from us. That made for some very interesting driving in the mountains. Then later that night we got a phone call that a precious lady in our church had died of cancer. She had fought this battle with all her might, but God had other plans. So we started home with heavy hearts.

When we arrived back we not only had the funeral that week, but a young lady closely related to this family, was also getting married on Saturday. So we were dealing with a wide scope of emotions. I ended up helping a lot with the decorating for the wedding because the aunt that was suppose to do it was the sweet lady that passed away. I spent the majority of the week at church (doesn't that sound familiar????) between the two events and didn't get anything done at home. Normally that would not be a problem except that the following Saturday we were having 25 guests for our granddaughter's first birthday party, and 8 of them were out of town family that were spending the weekend.

Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I was out of town and Thursday I had meetings all day (literally from 9:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.) That left only Friday morning and Friday afternoon to get everything done for the party since the family was arriving in time for supper. Well between me and the legion of angels that God DID send, we got it done. I was in high gear to say the least. After supper we all went to work and we got the decorations done and the house set up. My daughter had chosen a ladybug theme and there were ladybugs EVERYWHERE. It turned out darling. There was as much fanfare for this party as the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles!!! And our little Madelyn Elizabeth seemed to have a great time (and really - that was all that mattered!!) The party lasted well after the 4:00 deadline with the majority of them staying for supper as well. We had a blast.

Sunday was filled with the regular high pace activities...Sunday School, Church, meetings, luncheons......Memorial Day was fun spent with family and friends....and then everyone began leaving with the last one departing on Wednesday. To say I was tired is putting it mildly. Of course by then it was time to start all over. I had 12 loads of laundry and all of the beds to change and bathrooms to clean....

But then I began to think of our friend who had died and all of a sudden I realized how blessed I was to be healthy and have a body that could do all these things. I thanked God for giving us our precious granddaughter and the opportunity to celebrate with her; I thanked Him for giving us two wonderful daughters who thrill our souls by just walking into the room and I thanked Him that they are married to two great men who love Him and love our girls; and I thanked God for the gift of my sweet husband who loves me despite all the commotion I seem to cause.

I know being married to a minister is sometimes very difficult. We are called to do things that are not in our "job description". We go at life 90 to nothing and sometimes barely get a chance to catch our breath...but in reality I wouldn't want it any other way. I count it a blessing to be able to work until I am so tired my body aches, because then I know I am alive!!!!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Sweet Moment in Ministry

Last night I had one of the sweetest moments in ministry. One of our staff wives came up to me after church and, with tears in her eyes, she hugged me and told me that she loved me. What made this so sweet is the fact that even though Randy has pastored other churches, I have not always had the opportunity to be close to the other staff wives. One reason is because we did not have other staff members or because of circumstances we did not develop close friendships. But with this ministry it has been different. The wives have shared some difficult times together, whether it was death of our parents, sickness with our children, problems in ministry. We have also shared some wonderful times as well, like graduations of our children, weddings, showers, grandchildren. How refreshing it has been to share these experiences with other ladies who understand where you are. I am thankful that they don't judge or critique, but just listen and understand.

I have had the enormous blessing of being a part of a several of ministers and wives conferences for the state. I have met dozens of ladies, just like you, who are in the same boat that I am in. Even though we live in different parts of the state, with different churches and members, we all share basically the same things. As we have visited between sessions we have laughed hysterically and sometimes cried our eyes out. It has always felt "safe" discussing whatever was going on in our lives because we knew the unique circumstances in ministry.

I encourage you to find someone you can share your heart with, either on your own staff, or perhaps another staff wife in the state. Use this blog to find someone you can talk to and get to know. It really does help when you have someone that "sticks closer than a brother."