Tuesday, March 31, 2009

One In Christ

I want to share an article with you that perfectly describes our relationships as a christian family, sisters in Christ.

One of the largest organisms in the world is the Aspen tree in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah. It is a unique tree because it has a single interconnected rootstock that supports 41,000 trees above the ground ("Yes, there are many parts, but only one body. If one part suffers, all the parts suffer with it, and if one part is honored, all the parts are glad." II Cor. 12:20,26).

After a fire sweeps through the forest Aspens are the first to recover and regrow. Although fire burns the leaves and branches, the interconnected network of roots remain alive beneath ground ("In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor , and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls. " I Peter 1:6-9).

During Spring and Summer the leaves of the Aspen tree wave in the wind proclaiming the works of their Creator as they simultaneously provide shade for the understory plants below ("Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith." Galatians 6:2,10).

Each fall the Aspen leaves drop from their branches and blanket the forest floor increasing the richness of the soil. Valuable nutrients and minerals from decomposing leaves provide for and allow new plants to germinate and grow (We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose, Romans 8:28).

Sisters, we are in this journey together! We are partners (rootstock).

"I urge you, brothers by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me." Romans 15:30

Monday, March 30, 2009

New Life

Did you love seeing the picture of Tara's new baby? Beautiful, sweet, innocent, a brand new life with a brand new beginning!

Do you ever wish you could start over? If only we could have 'do overs' when we mess up and make mistakes.

As you already know, in Christ, we can! I am so glad that He promises, "His mercies are new every morning." "Each and everyday we get a brand new start. As you begin to wake each day start with a clean slate. Go before our God and confess, repent and follow with thanksgiving.

As we serve in the churches God has given us, we will make mistakes. Relationships will be broken, feelings get hurt, people are disappointed or we are disappointed. There is no perfect except for our Lord.

Satan is our accuser and if we listen, he can stop us in our tracks. He tells us it is ok to hold a grudge because we are right. He tells us we cannot love the people who hurt us, they don't deserve it. He tell us we can never measure up to the expectations they put on us, so don't even try.

Today, listen to God's voice. Hear what He says about His plans for you.

II Corinthians 5:17 "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

Rev. 21:5 Then He who sat on the throne said, "Behold, I make all things new."

Isaiah 43:9 "Behold, the former things have come to pass, And new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them."

Isaiah 43:18-19 "Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old, Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth..."

When Christ saved us, we were made new. I am so glad that His work did not stop there. Each and everyday He makes us new. We have the opportunity to serve Him fresh, start over and let Him live through us.

Let's give Him today and listen to His Words. Let's choose to believe Him, not the accuser. Confess, Repent and Thank! He will do a "new thing" in you today if you will let Him.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Being a Naomi

As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, I have raised three boys (my husband and two sons). Our household has always been testosterone filled and sports minded. We do not go for fluff and foofoo. We tried to stick with the manly motif in the home. However, this past weekend I got to experience what my family will be like with another female added in the mix.

You see, I went to a wedding shower for my future daughter-in-law, Robyn. The experience was just so much fun-wall to wall girls, great food, and lots of gifts. As I watched Robyn during this special event for her, I am just so blessed that she accepted my son’s marriage proposal. She a godly young lady loves to laugh, loves chocolate plus cheesecake, and loves my son. (She even tolerates and loves my husband even though he constantly asks her if she is sure she wants to marry our son. She never backs down but just replies laughingly “Yes, yes, and always yes!”)

It is my hope that Robyn will consider me as another mother because she will not be just a daughter-in-law. She will be our daughter. She won our hearts over and we love her that much.

Personally, the mother-in-law/daughter-in-law issue has received a bad rap over the years. I do not think all mother-in-laws are bad. In fact, I have a great mother-in-law who at times is just a crazy as I am. I certainly try to be a loving daughter-in-law as well. I even know what my mother-in-law likes for gifts-perfume and candles. (She raised three boys as well-her husband and two sons).

With my son’s approaching marriage, this weekend reminded me of the Bible story of Ruth and Naomi. What a precious story of a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law. Their love for one another carried them through the grief of losing their spouses. Instead of running back to her family, Ruth left her home country in order to stay with and care for Naomi. What a perfect example of selfless love. In turn, Naomi loved Ruth and helped her in seeking another husband, Boaz. Instead of being overbearing and bossy, Naomi offered careful advice and encouragement to this young woman.

Ladies, I desire for Robyn and I to have the same special relationship as Ruth and Naomi. I want Robyn to be able to come to me for advice and encouragement. I want to help her reach her full potential in Christ. However, I believe as godly ladies we should also be Christian examples to younger women in our churches. I have plenty of older women I look to for advice and encouragement. In turn I try to live my life in a way that encourages younger ladies. Let’s take the time to be a Naomi to other ladies including our daughter-in-law.

Do you have a special relationship with your mother-in-law or daughter-in-law? I’m looking for advice so please share.

Thanks for the Prayers!

Ladies  . . . I can't thank you enough for all your prayers as we "waited" for Piper's arrival. Labor and delivery could not have gone ANY better. I know that was  the result of God's mercy as He answered our prayers. 

Here is a picture, like I promised. Please join me in praising the Lord Most High, whom we serve  . . . 

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Tara has her baby!

Congratulations to one of our blog writers, Tara, on the birth of her second daughter.

Piper Gail Vinson was born Tuesday, March 24, at 3:30 p.m., weighing 8 ¼ lbs. and 21 ¼ inches long.

Congratulations Tara and Wally!!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is God Trying to Teach You?

I recently had the opportunity to attend the Beth Moore Living Proof Conference for Ministers Wives in Nashville, TN. I really did not have a clue of what to expect but I knew that anything when Beth and God show up. I was certainly overwhelmed by God’s Spirit and by the time the conference was over, I just wanted to gather around some girlfriends and gobble some chocolate.

Seriously, my heart was blessed. I went as a weary and worn minister’s wife and left refreshed and encouraged. From my advantage point in the upper level, I could look across the room and see hundreds of fellow sisters who needed a fresh touch from the Heavenly Father.

However, it was not until Saturday morning during a break time that I fully understood that I am not in this job alone. During the break, the team opened the altar to anyone who just needed to confess a sin, pray with an encourager, or just pour their hearts out to God. My heart broke as I saw so many from our sisterhood come forward. At one point I saw a woman literally fall in to an encouragers arms and bury her head on her shoulder and cry. I think the thing I remember the most is the loud weeping almost wailing of a sister whose heart was broke or hurt. Girlfriends, God was using these encouragers and the ministry team as His arms on earth.

It is only those of us in this sisterhood that truly understands the overwhelming responsibility, need, and deep hurt that exist in God’s service. It is no wonder that so many ministers leave their ministry or why so many ministers wives are bitter, isolated, or even worse, leave their husbands. It is no wonder that many minister’s children want no part of church when they see the ugliness inside the church. If only the congregations of our churches could understand that we too hurt, have needs, and need encouragement just they do. Sometimes all it takes to lift us up is a simple kind word or a hug from the flock.

If I may I would like to borrow something from the conference. In preparing for what she should discuss at the conference, Beth Moore’s Living Proof Ministry asked only ministers wives to comment on their blog about what they would like Beth to know about the ministry. Believe me, there were some great answers-sad and very funny. A couple of comments rang true for me: “Sometimes sheep bite” and “What is God trying to teach us?”

So sisters, hear is what I want you to do. Post a comment on what you wish church members knew about the ministry or perhaps you might like to share what God has taught you during your ministry.

You are loved dear sisters!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Chipmunk Watching

While walking in the park one day, I was voicing simple sentence prayers to God. It was a cold day and the wind was cutting, however, I just needed to be outdoors. I also just needed to see or hear God.

One of the simple prayers I prayed was for the economic future. In these unstable times, no one knows what the day holds. Many people are facing joblessness, foreclosure, or the loss of their retirement nest egg. Since I am a penny pincher and also have a college senior son seeking a job, I often find myself “concerned” over the financial crisis at hand. On this particular day, I need a sense that God was in control of my family’s well-being.

No sooner had I placed this prayer before the throne than a small chipmunk jumped in my path. Once I got control over my shepherd breed dog and stopped my heart from racing, my thoughts were drawn to this small creature. Watching the chipmunk, I saw him busy finding food for his meal. A light bulb went on for me. God was providing for one of His creatures and He will also provide for His children.

As I continued on the walk, the path took a sharp left curve. Now I have walked this path many times and I know that it continues up a steep incline. However, I remember the first time I walked this path. I did not know that lay beyond what I could see. Would it come to a dead end? Would there be a fork in the road and I would have to choose a route? Would there be something in the path that would harm me?

Realization hit me again. None of us knows what our futures hold. God allows us to see just so far and as much as He wants us to see. It is there that we must trust in the One who holds our futures in His hands. If God revealed all of our future, we, or at least I, certainly would not learn the lesson of trust.

So girlfriends, things may be a little discouraging in these times. However, remember our Heavenly Fathers knows the future and He cares for all his creatures-even chipmunks and His children.

Between Us Ministers' Wives

The event in Nashville for ministers wives is finished. It was an amazing few days. I do not know if any of you were able to attend, but I know that God spoke to the ladies that were there.

The topics included, Balancing Act, Developing Healthy Friendships, Dealing with Difficult People, Putting Out the Welcome Mat, Marriage in Ministry, Raising Children, Called to be a Minister's Wife, Forgiveness in Ministry and Making Sundays the Best Day and even more.

You can imagine with all those topics that the time was very busy and full. I do not know the final count of women that attended, but they came as far away as Japan! I met women from California to New Hampshire.

All these women had one thing in common. They were wives of men in ministry! It was a great time of sharing and caring for one another. I heard laughter and saw tears. It was an honor to be in the middle of all you very special women.

What I was reminded of as I taught and listened was that only God can equip us for such a responsibility. Only God can give us what we need to meet the demands and responsibilities. The best part is, God will give us everything we need.

I want to share with you this week some of the theme. Called, Equipped and Encouraged.

We will start the next post with "Called." Join me!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Waiting Lesson

God is enough . . .  If I had to boil down all the lessons that God has taught me through various seasons of waiting in my life, if would be this: 

He Is Sufficient. 

Yes, God has shown me that He will provide. He has showered me with peace. He has proven that He is sovereign. But this all boils down to the fact that He is. That He is more than enough. Whether I have been waiting for God to provide physical resources or physical strength, mental clarity or assurance, spiritual stamina or direction. He has always been there. He has always come through. He has. 

So I will wait. I will wait patiently. Because I know He is there. He has heard my prayers. He has written all my days in His book before even one of them came to be.  I can claim His promises and know with certainty all is good . . . especially in the waiting.

While only God knows the date and time of my baby's birth, I will be sure to post specifics as soon as I can. . .. In the meantime, both Wally, my husband, and I would treasure your prayers! Thanks in advance for lifting our little family before the Throne . . . 

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Still Waiting . . .

There have been various seasons of my life that I have spent waiting. As a teen, I learned to wait on the Lord to seek His direction for my life. As a college student, I learned to wait on the Lord to introduce me to my future spouse. As a young wife, I learned to wait on the Lord as He patiently began to mold myself and my husband into the couple that He would have us to be. As a minister's wife, I learned to wait on the Lord to __________________.

How would you fill in the blank? Have there been specific things you feel like God has taught you that are unique to your role as a minister's wife? 

In each season of my life, God has taught me very specific unique things during each period of "waiting." Often, I ask myself "Hasn't God already taught me this? Why am I going through this waiting thing again?" 

Now, I as I am waiting to go into labor, God is showing me promise after promise in the Psalms about waiting. No, I am not looking forward to labor (Thanks Eve!), but I am ready to have my body back- at least a little . . .  God is encouraging me that He is going to be with me as He is showing me that He is with me even in the waiting. . . .

So, how would you feel in the blank?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Waiting on the Lord

Well, Ladies . . .  as of yesterday I am officially 39 weeks into my pregnancy and my expected due date is exactly one week from today. The nursery is ready. The diapers are bought. The crib sheets are washed. My five year-old daughter, Riley, has been expecting the arrival of her little sister since the day after her daddy's birthday. (We told her it would be after then to help her process the passing of time.) I will find my husband just sitting in the rocker in the baby's room. All we seem to to need is the baby herself!

So much of this pregnancy has seemed surreal, like it wasn't really happening. Time seemed to go by so slow at first. Then it seemed to speed up. Now, it seems to be taking a turtle's pace once again. Believe me, I knew what was happening, but the arrival and addition into our little family of three didn't really seem possible. 

Then last week, a really good friend of mine had her second born here at our local hospital. I went to see her and her new little son as soon as I could. As I held little Hudson, a lot became really real to me really quickly. We were going to have one of these new little bundles of joy. I needed to be ready . . . .

The next day I packed my hospital bag and anxiously awaited the contractions to start. I am NOT superstitious,  but I think there is something to the whole full moon thing and also thought that a Friday the 13th birthday could be cool too . . .. But nothing happened. 

So here I am, waiting on the Lord . . . I would ask you to post your theories on inducing labor. I have heard a bunch . . . eating Italian food, walking a lot, something about Castor oil . . . but, I have prayed for God's timing for this baby for a long time now . . . even before I was blessed to become pregnant . . . So, why should I try to take this out of His hands now? 

How often do we do that? We pray for God's control, His intervention and His timing. Then when things all seem like they are coming together, we try to take the situation back and put our fairy tale ending on it . . . We rob God of the credit and praise that He deserves . . . 

So, here I am trusting that my strength will rise as I wait upon the Lord. . . . If you would like to help, post some scriptures and/or stories about times you waited on the Lord and He lifted you up  . . . 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Going Back

I had the opportunity to go back to the Gulf Coast last weekend to speak at a Ladies Retreat. This particular conference was with one of our former churches. I had looked forward to being back with those ladies since the first day they asked me to speak.

There is something special about going back to a previous church. There are always so many memories and experiences that you share. (Some good and some bad!) This church was where we served for 13 years. Our children were born there and we were able to form some deep, lifelong friendships. These friendships have some common denominators...

-You can be yourself. These kind of friends know all about you and still love you...
-These kinds of friends can go a long time without seeing them, and when you do see them, it's as if you never left....
-These friends show up when you have a great need in your life without having to be asked to come...
-These friends also are there when you celebrate the important things in your life...

All this has reminded me about how important friends are in making life enjoyable and endurable. Why don't you call up an old friend today and tell them how much you appreciate them?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I am sure by now you have read about the pastor that was shot and killed in Maryville, Illinois this past weekend. His name was Fred Winters and he had been the pastor for more than 20 years. The congregation had grown from just over 100 to over 1200 during the time that he was the pastor. From everything I have read he was a wonderful people person and was loved by everyone.

The reports are not sure whether Pastor Fred knew the killer or if this man just walked in and started shooting. The congregation never dreamed that this could occur in their church and they sat stunned as the whole thing played out in front of them.

I have to say, I have thought about this before. And not just on one occasion. Everytime I hear of anything like this, I wonder what would I do. What would our church do? Would there be anyone picking up on the fact that this was not normal? To be honest, it is a little frightening to think that our husbands are up front with no protection and often, no plans in place.

Have you ever felt uneasy about something like this happening to your husband? Please comment and let me know. Also, let me know if your church has a plan, and if so, what is it? You may be able to help the rest of us.

I know that God has a perfect plan for us and our families. I know that we have His protection. But I also know that satan is alive and well and we should be ready for anything.

My thoughts and prayers have been with Pastor Fred's family and church. I can't even begin to understand how they feel. Of course, I have thought a lot about his wife. I went to the church's website and read what they had posted. In the post they asked for prayers for the families, not just of Pastor Fred but of the assailant's as well. What a remarkable lady and congregation to remember at such a tragic time that the one that caused the pain was the very one who needed their prayers. I am praying that God works tremendously through all of this and when we get to Heaven there will be people there because God used this to bring salvation to many.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

How Full is Your Plate?

Surely you have done it. Gone through the line at a pot luck supper (or pitch in as they call it here) and by the time you get to the end of the line, you are amazed at how full your plate is!! Then it is time to hit the dessert table, and if you are like me, you cannot get just one piece of cake or pie….but a sliver of many!!

I was having lunch with a precious new friend this week and I was amazed at all of the things she did well. She is married to a pastor, has four children, leads worship, teaches middle school girls on Wednesday nights, leads a children’s choir, and works. Her plate is definitely full….and not a salad plate at that!!

Currently my “plate”, on the other hand, is relatively empty. I have to say that is one advantage of moving…it makes it a lot easier to ‘clean your plate’ off!! Just a few short months ago my plate was so full that the only way a green pea would fit was to mush it into the mashed potatoes!!

How does it happen? How do our plates get so full? After all, we start off with an empty plate. We don’t get huge portions of anything. Just a spoonful of this and a taste of that. That, my dear friend, is exactly how it happens. We keep adding and adding and don’t realize how full our plate has become until we sit down at the table and see it for what it really is. And....it definitely is a lot easier to add items to our plates than to take things off once they are there!

As strange as it seems to say it, this 'empty plate' season is somewhat difficult for me. I don't want to have an 'empty plate' BUT I want to be so wise about determining what goes on to my plate!! I want to say be able to say what Jesus said at the end of His life “I brought glory to you here on earth by doing everything you told me to do.” (John 17:4 NLT)

I do not want to add commitments out of guilt or boredom or desperation but out of God’s leadership and His gifting and passion! I desperately want to make sure I make the right decisions about what is going to go on my plate!! Not put something on there that just looks good but something that is good. Not something that others say is wonderful but what God says is wonderful.

Father, I ask that you would show each of us when our plate is too full. Show us how to remove those commitments and responsibilities that are on our plates because someone other than You wanted it on there. Give us the courage to put on our plates only the ministries and responsibilities that You want Us to do. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Pure or Impure Motives?

So, let's go back to the question I asked yesterday. If your church has more than one worship service on Sunday morning, do you attend all of the services?

This has been somewhat of a struggle for me over the years. Sometimes I have gone to all of our morning services, sometimes I have only gone to one. (And when satan really has me in a stronghold of sin and self, I have even stayed home!!)

When our children were small our church had several morning services and I would only go to one. Sundays can be quite difficult for babies and young children and I did not want to push them over the edge! They needed routine and rest. For the most part, this practice of attending just one of the morning services continued throughout the years our children were at home.

Several years ago I began attending both of our morning worship services and I want to share with you some of the reasons why:
  • I love worshipping my huge, powerful God.
  • Hearing the Word once is not enough for me....I needed/wanted to hear it again and again!
  • I thought I was 'suppose' to.
  • Fearful I would 'get in trouble' with people if I did not.
  • Felt I needed to be seen so people knew I was going to church.
  • Wanted to be where my husband was.
  • Wanted to see people who were in other services.

Sadly, you can see that many of my motives were not pure!!! People and my selfish motives were the reason and not God! How often do we make decisions as minister's wives based on what we think we are suppose to do rather than because we love the Lord with all of our heart and soul and strength and might?

The Lord convicted me several years ago about my impure motives in this area and it was so freeing!! I now can attend both services or just one service without guilt or fear or selfishness.

You are free, sister!!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Back to Where Do You Sit?

Karen posed a great question last week, "Where do you sit on Sunday mornings?", and I was very interested in hearing your responses.

When Ashleigh and Brandon were little we would sit a few rows back and my husband sat on the front pew. This allowed them to learn how to conduct themselves during "big church" without disturbing him AND the entire congregation! Sometimes they would want to sit up by Ernie and after exhibiting great "big church" behavior, we would allow them to and what a special time it was for all of them!!

It was important to me that they sit with me and not with their friends or their friend's families, however, their friends were welcome to sit with us. When they became teenagers, they sometimes would sit with the rest of the students close to the front . We were so blessed that they were a part of a youth group who sat 'front and center' instead of in the back!! Interestingly, most of the time they would continue to sit with me and I treasure those moments worshipping with them.

For many years the offering portion of our worship service took place before my husband spoke and every week after the offering plate passed by us, I would lean over to my children and pray for God to speak and move as he preached. Prayer was also an important part of our driving to church as I prayed out loud with them for us to be teachable, for their dad to speak Truth and for the Body of Christ to hear and obey.

Now that we are 'empty nesters' I still sit a few pews back....and, as a creature of habit, it usually is the same place every week. I love Karen's strategy of changing seats.....it sure would keep some people on their toes!! AND because I know I miss meeting people who sit in other places. Another down side of sitting in the same place all of the time is it leaves an empty place when not there; many from the church we just left have commented to me about the void in the place I usually sat.

I have visited churches where the pastor's wife sat next to him on the front row and I wondered if I was 'suppose' to do that too. I often feel guilty because I prefer not being 'front and center' or the focus of anyone....honestly, I'd rather be invisible!! Incognito!!

So, I have another question for you. If your church has more than one service on Sunday morning, do you attend all of the services or just one? More on this later!

Blessings to you sister!

Monday, March 2, 2009

What Ministers To You?


In a few weeks I will be leading a conference for ministry assistants (church secretaries) on how they can to minister to the ministers they work with and their families. I would LOVE to hear your stories!!

How have the women your husband's have worked with in the church office...

  1. Ministered to you and your family?
  2. Encouraged you and your family?
  3. Discouraged you?
  4. Etc.

What a perfect opportunity to let these precious women know what they are doing, or NOT doing, and can do to to encourage/discourage/minister to our families.

Our family has been very blessed over the years to have many Godly, incredible women working in our church offices. Women who love the Lord and consider thier 'job' not 'work' but their ministry. They have loved us unconditionally, put out fires and fought battles behind the scenes for us, spoke words of truth to us, and worked hand-in-hand to further the Kingdom of God. Sadly, there are others who have done quite the opposite...undermined, discouraged, and started fires.

Oh, how I want God to use me at the conference to encourage these ministry assistants to further the work of the Church through their 'jobs'. AND....a very difficult job they have!! I would also LOVE to encourage THEM during our session together. It would be so fun to share your stories of encouragement with them! Won't you please take a minute to think about those co-laborers and post a comment? If you are uncomfortable posting it on the blog, feel free to email me at jgang@aeneas.net.

Blessings to you sister!