Saturday, January 30, 2010

Marketplace Ministry

So, do you work outside the home?

If yes, what is your attitude? Do you resent working because you "have" to work? Do you wake up every work day wishing you did not "have" to go? Are you burdened with the pressure of working and being a mom and a wife and a minister's wife? Do you feel trapped and exhausted and under appreciated?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above....let me assure are not alone. There are multitudes of women just like you. Frustrated. Overwhelmed. Exhausted. The question is, what do we do about it?

Perhaps the first and place to begin is on our knees before the Father confessing our inadequacies and our sin. Sin? Yes, my dear friend. Sin. Colossians 3:23 tells us "Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men;"

When we wake up not wanting to go to work....remember this verse. I am NOT doing this for man....I am doing this for the Lord. My attitude for work and at work must be to bring Him glory. To recognize that He has me there for a purpose that is greater than my thoughts can even imagine.

Our work can be and ought to be our ministry just as much as any Sunday School class we may teach or Bible study we may lead. Just like our family is our our job is too.

Hopefully, this will be an encouragement for some of you who need a new perspective on what you do. Perhaps you have found yourself drifting along like a raft on rapids in a river....just taking the next curve and turn and bump with no control....just letting the water take you over the next water fall.

Grab hold of some oars....take control of your emotions and attitudes. Be thankful that you are able to work. Be thankful you are able to give. Be thankful period! Think of the multitudes who would give anything to do what you do.

One final note: If you are working only because you want more "stuff" and not because God has led you to that. Confess, repent and ask what He would have you to do.

Keep your eyes, heart and mind focused on Jesus....

Friday, January 29, 2010

There has been a controversial, often fiery debate for decades about women working outside the home. To work or not to work? What’s a woman to do? There is pressure to work (financial, social, cultural) and there is pressure not to work.

Many women work because they have to and wish they did not. Others work because they want to. This all can get even more complicated if the “woman” is a minister’s wife. There are those within the church who think you should not work. There are those who are jealous that you don’t have to work. Opinions galore. Always opinions about how we should/ought to live our lives!

For me, I have done it all. Before we had children, I worked. When our first child was born, it was such a blessing to me to be able to stay home and not have to go to work. Was it hard financially? Yes, absolutely! Did we do without? Yes, absolutely! Did I want to be able to buy new clothes or go out to eat? Yes! But God blessed and provided for our every need. Someone even gave us an old car so I could get around!

Even during those early years while the kids were babies and toddlers, God would provide me with opportunities for income. We served a large church that needed a wedding coordinator and how fun it was for me to help and serve brides on their special day….and get paid for it! It was not much....but it was enough.

After the kids started school an opportunity came up for me to teach at a local college part-time. It was perfect and I LOVED it!! That grew into a full time position teaching and it worked into our family routine. I was blessed to be able to pick up the kids from school every day!!

When we moved from Texas to Tennessee, the kids were in 7th grade and 9th grade. Critical years in the best of circumstances…add to that a huge move to a totally new environment, I knew I needed to be focused and available to them and not work. A couple of years later, God again provided the opportunity to work with a college and teach part time….and by the time the kids graduated from high school, it led into a full time position.

Fast forward to now. The kids are married and we have moved to Indiana. I did not work the first six months I was here and then began to work part-time for a man in our church. Just a few months ago I was offered the opportunity to help out a company I had done some training for in Memphis. They needed me for about six months to work on several projects. Much of the work would be done from home…but some would require me to travel to Memphis. What to do? What would people at church think? Could I even do the work? It was something that was challenging yet fearful. After much prayer and brainstorming with my husband, I told them I would do it.

Why do I bring all of this up? Because I don’t know what your situation is, but I do know that you are you. Your family is your family. You and your husband prayerfully decide what God wants you to do and don’t worry with what everyone else thinks.

More on this later....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Bondye pa Renmen Ayiti"

Tuesday afternoon, January 12, 2010 our son and daughter-in-law arrived in the Dominion Republic ready and excited to begin a new ministry there. As they were sitting in their unfamiliar housing, letting it all sink in that they have just left everything and moved to the DR, they were aware that something unusual, yet somewhat familiar was happening. The entire house was moving. At first Brandon thought he was going crazy and getting dizzy (he thought to himself, "I haven’t even drunk the water yet!"). They both have been in California when small earthquakes "hit" and immediately knew this was no small earthquake.

Like you, I have been in tears more times than I can count over the plight of the people in Haiti. Pictures of distraught children, stories of physical and emotional pain and survival have torn my heart apart.

“Bondye pa renmen Ayiti” (God doesn’t like Haiti) is the word on the street there. We know this is not true. In yesterday's USA Today a headline read, "they think God is mad at them". And my heart breaks.

I wonder, do we, like some of the people in Haiti, ever have this same thought? When things go"wrong" in our own lives or are difficult or hard, do we have a tendency to think that God is mad at me? Or, that He does not like me?

And, what do we do with all of the images that we are seeing and stories we are hearing and reading? Do we pray without ceasing for them? Do we give sacrificially to help? Do we go? Do we drop to our knees in repentance and humility over our own ungrateful hearts?

As I write this, I am back in TN doing some work in Memphis. I am in a hotel room propped up in a king size bed with pillows galore around me. I had a delicious meal and drove a car that I had no problem finding gas to fill up with. Bottom line. I have a roof over my head, food in my stomach and medicine for my cold. And today I am truly grateful. Overwhelmingly grateful. Convicted that so often I take for granted these seemingly insignificant luxuries in my life.

Oh, God, forgive me for my ungrateful heart. For not thanking You moment by moment for Your provisions!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Suffering in Silence

Last weekend I assisted with a “Young in the Ministry” Retreat for pastors and their wives who have been in the ministry for three years or less. This is the second retreat of this kind that the Tennessee Baptist Convention has hosted. I cannot tell you how needed these retreats are for these young in the ministry couples.

At the retreat the couples receive beneficial information from retirement to help in managing a church. Our team allows the couples to ask questions which a panel of “seasoned” ministers answers. Our goal is to encourage these couples as they begin the journey in ministry.

However, I notice the wives. I wonder how they are truly managing the new church. Some of the couples are fresh on the field. They left behind the secular jobs to follow God’s calling. Some are fresh out of school and in their first ministry position. Either way, the wives have major adjustments and a range of emotions. I will be the first to say that after 31 years of marriage to a minister I still do not have it all figured out and still have questions.

Girlfriends, we do not have to suffer in silence. We can find people who can answer some of the questions. This website is meant to provide encouragement as well as answer questions. If we do not have the answers, we can certainly share our experience or find someone who can answer them. I love being a minister’s wife because of the great adventures God takes us on, however, I find at times I just want to quit.

The bible tells us to share one another’s burdens and to encourage one another. Girls, grab a piece of dark chocolate and please take a moment to share with our team of blog writers your burdens, joys, frustrations, and celebrations. You do not have to sign your name or church. Your experience may even help or encourage another minister’s wife out there in cyberspace.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

God Hugged Me

Sometimes life presents challenges for all ministers wives. We have to deal with crisis at church, family issues, workplace stress, and criticism of all forms. I do not know about you but sometimes I just want to go away to a safe, quiet place with no people (oh, there will be a good book and some chocolate).

I have had a few weeks of “issues” that kept growing. Stress was piling up. I could not pray because I did not know what to pray. I really did not have anyone I could talk to because I did not want to burden someone else with my problems. Everyone thinks the minister’s wife should always have a smile on her face, however, sometimes it is just plain hard to even fake it.
Well, God must have realized that I had reached a breaking point. Honestly, girlfriends, I was just so weary and battle worn. The truth is the “issues” were just silly, stupid church stuff but as you know things can pile up on us.

Anyway, God hugged me in a big way. What was special about this hug is that it came in an unexpected way. He let me know everything was okay. I was not a failure. He assured me of His presence and brought comfort and peace. Ladies, if you have ever experienced a hug from God then you understand what I am talking about. It was just awesome.

So girlfriends, if life is happening around you and you are reaching a breaking point, ask God to come down and give you a hug.

By the way, if you have been hugged by the Father, let me hear about your experience. These times shared make us grow stronger. Be blessed!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thanking God Before Hand

Well, I learned something new this week. While doing my quiet time, I read, “If you keep stating your concerns to Me, you will live in a state of tension” (Jesus Speaks by Sarah Young). All I could do when I read that statement was say “wow.” Maybe you girls are not as simple minded as I am. Sometimes my blonde roots really hinder my comprehension or maybe it is my chocolate induced state of bliss. However, I can read the same Bible passage a million times. Then suddenly, it finally sinks in.

Here is what I feel this statement is saying to me. I have been praying earnestly for a particular prayer request. I keep bringing that need before God everyday and every night. I am quite sure He is growing very weary of my repetition and pleading. In addition, I keep finding myself wondering when the answer will come.

After reading this simple truth, I decided that I will thank God for the answer He is going to provide. Now, it has been three days since I have started this process and no answer has come. However, I will keep on thanking Him because He does know what is best in this particular situation.

Girlfriends, have you thanked the Father for the answer He will provide for your prayer concern?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Resentment Builders

As I travel and share with many of you, I have found that there is often a common thread among the wives of minsters. At one time or another we enter a time of resentment. It can be a very short time or it can last a lifetime. A minister's wife has plenty to give, but saying one thing and feeling another will get you in emotional trouble.

I am going to share with you a few suggestions that will help you avoid those energy draining resentment builders. I gleaned these from a book called, "The Private Life of the Minister's Wife". My sweet husband gave it to me our first year of marriage.

Resentment Builders to Avoid

1. Being a message deliverer, thinking you are responsible for seeing that your husband does what is asked of him.
2. Always explaining your husband's or your own point of view as if it needed defending.
3. Being apologetic for your use of time or money.
4. Trying to fit into a mold others have made and always seeming not to measure up.
5. Listening to people who do not have or have not had your particular problem.
6. Expecting you to do (perform) before there has been time to find God's place for you.
7. Not making time for yourself.

These ideas are not a cure all, but they will help as you walk through your day. Take time to evaluate where you are. Allow God to teach and guide you. He has the perfect plan for you.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

God's Grace

I am sure that as a minister's wife you know your salvation is a grace gift. You probably have the scripture in Ephesians 2:8 memorized. "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast."

I wonder if you are aware that God's grace is also available for your service to Him? In the middle of every challenge and difficult circumstance God gifts us with what we need to be bold, love and have self discipline.

Jesus continually taught the disciples the importance of loving those He came to save. Each person matters to our God and we have the privilege allowing Him to love them through us. In fact, we fall in love with our God and prove our love to our God as we love those He places in our lives. Not always easy, but always, worth it!

As those difficult people show up in your day, remember they need God's grace. You are the vessel that can show that grace. Are you thinking, it is too hard? Maybe, I haven't met that person that continues to criticize you or trip you up.

Remember what we are taught in II Corinthians 12:9-10 "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in your weakness."
Look for ways to show God's grace to those around you today.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Being Aaron for My Moses

What is it that you want to be different this year? Are you ready to start fresh and new? Are you excited or already defeated?

I thought about the many resolutions I have made through the years. Believe it or not, there were some successes and of course, many do-overs!

As minister wives you have many things to consider as you begin another year of service with your husband. There are things you can do to bring joy and delight into your home and ministry and things that we all do that make it more difficult.

I would like to challenge you this year with a goal of Godly support for your husband. In Exodus 17:12 we see Moses needing the support of Aaron and Hur. In fact, without their support the entire nation would be defeated.

"When Moses' hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up-one on one side, one on the other-so that his hands remained steady till sunset."

I do not have to tell you that along with the rewards of ministry there are also many difficulties. Sometimes these struggles just wear us out! Our husbands are no exceptions and in fact, they often hear many more criticisms than encouraging words.

I want to challenge you to "hold up their arms" this year. Let them know that you are there for them. Let me give you a couple Aaron suggestions.

1. Pray for him. Be his intercessor.
2. Listen to him. Let him express himself without interruption.
3. Compliment him. Tell him what you love about him. Point out strengths.
4. Respect him. This is your husband's #1 need.
5. Meet his physical needs. Good meals, exercise with him and love him up!
6. Give him some alone time. Allow him to relax at home.
7. Again ... PRAY! PRAY! PRAY!

These are just a few. Ask God to show you what your husband needs in order to further God's kingdom's work and then jump in and join him.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Starting Over . . . Again

Okay, it is New Years Day again. It is a brand new year-2010. It is time for brand new resolutions once again. I think it is great that we get to start all over . . . again.

Here are a few of my resolutions:
*Be a better friend, daughter, mother, wife
*Look for the best in people
*Remember God’s promises
*Try to eat healthier . . .again
*Try to cut down on caffeine and chocolate . . .again
*Exercise more

Just think about it a minute. Starting over . . . again. I put emphasis on the word again because I look at it as a promise. Sure we all fail but we have a God who wipes the slate clean when we come before him and confess our sins. He allows us the privilege to start over with a fresh beginning again.

Isn’t that an awesome thought! The Father gives me a channe to start each day with renewed strength. He never fails to love me when I fail Him. He never leaves me alone for He is always with me. He always lifts me up and encourages me. I think the Father lovingly says, “Let’s start over today . . .again.”