Vending Machine God…and our twenty five cent prayers

We drop our quarters in and wait for our selection. How many times have we done the same thing to God? Drop in a few quarter prayers and wait for God to give us the answer that we’re looking for. Here’s my twenty five cent prayer, do something incredible with it. Clink. Clink. We press in our request, we’ll take E3 please, …and then we wait. ”I’ll take a handful of blessings and a bag of M&M’s please God. I’d love for my marriage to be better, my kids to be more considerate, and my job to be easier please.” Sounds incredible, doesn’t it? Only that’s just not the way it works in real life. We don’t serve a Vending Machine God, do we? We do, however, serve a mighty, awesome, loving God who knows what we need even before we do. How do I know this? It says so right in His Word, “Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:8 ESV This whole idea of the vending machine came to me one night while at community group with my friends. We had an incredible time digging into the sermon that week and sharing our prayer requests at the end of the night. It was your typical list of needs, concerns, desires. Nothing was wrong or out of line, in all honesty, it was actually quite beautiful to hear our friends come together and share so honestly and transparently with each other. But somewhere in the middle of it the thought hit me, that I’ve turned prayer time...

It’s Almost A New Year! Is It Time For A Fresh Start?

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord. Psalm 40:3 ESV A brand new year — filled with excitement and anticipation. There is this sense of awe, wonder and expectancy.  This is the chance we have been waiting for to start new, to make a fresh start!  I think this is the reason why New Year’s resolutions get started, because the New Year feels like it holds lots of endless possibilities for each of us. The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a great planning week.  Every year during this week, my husband & I get away to rest, recover and relax. We find a sweet little get away spot, bring some of our favorite Christmas gifts and take some time to unplug for a bit. We also use this time to prepare our hearts, minds and family for the next year in our lives and ministry.  It is good to stop and celebrate all that we were a part of the year before, talk about our highs and lows as a family, as well as taking some time to map out what we hope to do in the next year.  It also helps us to reconnect after a busy Christmas season. In taking the time to reflect on our year, it helps us to better prepare for the next year.  It also helps to provide incredible insight as to what worked, what can be improved, what we would drop, add, or change all together. God made my life...

How To Get Your Heart Right This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just a few days away and yet if I’m being honest there are days in this season of life when it is just plain hard to be thankful. Shocking, I know. I shouldn’t be saying that to you, I should put on my Patty perfect pastor’s wife hat and pretend to have it all together…but, I just can’t do that anymore. You and I both know that being real with each other is so much healthier than some pretend story of how someone else’s life is more put together than yours. Plus, it is a reality that many can relate to right now. I can count my blessings, I can try to be positive, but let’s face it–life is hard sometimes and it’s not enough to know that fact in your head, you’ve got to give it time to get your heart. So, what are you supposed to do when you should have a heart of thanksgiving but your heart and your head aren’t talking to each other? That’s a great question and I’ve found some incredible wisdom for us right here in this verse; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God,which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7 ESV Let’s dig right in because this is just too good to wait on…if we are anxious then chances are we aren’t going to have a heart of thanksgiving, will we? We’ll be, well…anxious. Worried, frazzled, distracted and trying...

Ask The Hard Questions

In an effort to get to know each other better we need to be ready to ask the hard questions. Especially when it comes to our marriages, but truth be told, these questions can also be tweaked and applied to your family or your ministry as well. It all started a few weeks ago when my husband and I had the opportunity to sit down with two youth pastors and their wives. Being in ministry for over fifteen years we have a heart for young families in ministry. Both of these couples that came over are newlyweds and both are serving their local church. To be honest, I couldn’t wait to spend some time with them. They are so passionate about serving Christ and their love for their spouses and the ministry is a beautiful thing to see. It was our hope to be able to encourage them as they walk the road of marriage and ministry but before the end of the night we quickly realized that we were the ones being encouraged. Listen, I’m a firm believer that we are never too old to learn and never too young to teach so this was a perfect example of God preparing all our hearts for an honest, real and transparent look at life in the ministry. It was also a sweet picture of Titus 2 in action. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good,...

You Don’t Know Jack!

“Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; Luke 6:37 ESV Chances are you see just a peek into the window of the world that others live in and with such limited information it’s time for us to stop and admit that we really don’t know jack! Oh, I know I am going to be stepping on some toes today, my own included. It’s so easy to make a remark and a snap judgement about how someone handles the pieces and parts of their world that others see. You know, how they act with their spouse, kids, job, any or all of these (and many more) are out front for others to “see” and watch. What we don’t know is what’s really going on in that person’s world and why they might have acted or responded the way they did. Listen sweet friend, this is something that I’ve wrestled with for some time now. Here’s the deal, God will not let me let it go. But before I go much further I want to stop and make sure that you hear my heart, please oh please, hear my heart, because my words don’t always say the right thing. You and I have got to stop judging people and start giving out great big whopping dose of grace to those around us. Now, I’m not talking about any situation in which you are physically in danger. If that is happening then seek immediate help. I’m talking directly about the part of us that looks at another...

Do The Little Stuff

I’ve learned something along the way — more often than not, it’s more important to do the little stuff as it is to do the big stuff. Yeah, the big stuff gets all the flash and glamour, but the little stuff…ahh, well, my friends that is where life is lived. We grow up with these great big plans to conquer the world, or at least move out of our parents homes, and those are great. I am a huge fan of big dreams and diving head first into the dreams and desires that God lays on our hearts, but something I’m learning along the way is this…the little stuff is pretty important too. It’s so easy to take our family and friends for granted. We’re busy, they’re busy, and we rationalize to ourselves that they “know” how much we love them. I mean, I’m sure we’ve told them at least once today, or maybe once this week. Or have we? Yes, words are a big deal and can make a big impact in encouraging those around us, but what if we took it a step further and started to be more intentional about doing the little things to show those that are important to us how special they are. I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. John 15:11-12 MSG One of my favorite books is the Five Love Languages book by Gary Chapman. It’s not a...

You Are Not Alone

Dear one, I see you there struggling to make ends meet. Trying to make things make sense and just clear your head from all the distractions pulling on you right this very minute. Your mind is racing and you begin to wonder how you even got to this place, but here’s one thing you need to know — you are not alone. I know it might feel like it at times. Believe me I know. That’s just not the truth though. Oh yeah, sure. the enemy is going to do his best to try to get you to give up hope. To feel lost. To isolate yourself. To just plain give up. But don’t because there’s a truth that you need to grab hold of — not just in your head, but also in your heart. Our Heavenly Father is madly, deeply in love with you and He wants to rescue you from the pain that has a grip on your heart. He wants you to know that…You are not alone. Yes, I know that it’s easy to believe the lies that you are alone. I also know that the stress, pressure and stuff weigh heavy on your heart. To the point that some days it is hard to even get out of bed. I get that, because I’ve been there too. I know what it’s like to; – feel like I’m the only one going through this difficult situation. – think that no one would love me or accept me if they knew me, I mean really knew me. – believe that people would abandon me if they...

Wired For Rest: What Does That Mean?

Rest, it’s one of those four letter words that evokes a lot of varying emotions from people. There’s the exasperated sigh, the faraway gaze of someone in need of rest and also the “what are you, a wimp?” remark from someone that thinks you should just suck it up. But what if I told you that we are actually wired for rest. What would you say then? Oh, I know, there are too many things to do, places to go and people to see to find time to rest. I get that. I’ve even heard it said from others that they’ll have time to rest when they die, but sweet friend, that is not how God created us. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.  So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. Genesis 2:1-3 ESV (underline mine) When God created our universe He did so in a way that lays out a rhythm for our life. God is God and He doesn’t need to rest, but He is modeling it to us so that we can learn to build it into our lives. He knows that this is going to be something that we struggle with throughout our lives, so He takes time right in the beginning of the Bible to show us just how important this...

How To Go From STRETCHED TOO THIN To Comfortably Relaxed

 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1 ESV Welcome back sweet friends, I hope your holidays were full of fun, family and laughter, but I also know that for a few of us that wasn’t the case. The stretched too thin season pre-holidays has now carried itself over to a January full of the blues. We all get that at times we are stretched too thin, but what happens when you don’t really know what to do to make things different? That’s what we’re talking about today, it’s not a magic formula to peace, but hopefully it is a way for us to jump off the hamster wheel and look at things a little differently. Three ways to shift from stretched too thin to comfortably relaxed: Realize that you can’t do it all — scratch that, don’t say “can’t” because you can, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you should. Take care of the main things first, do something for you. What does doing something for you look like? Some days it could be something simple like getting a shower (oh I remember those days). Other days it may mean going on a walk by yourself, & for others, it may mean turning off the noise and just being still for a bit. Find a safe place to vent — we all need a few “safe” places where we can just be ourselves. These are the...

Stretched Too Thin!

  For the last 3 months life has been like a rubber band that keeps getting pulled back–tighter and tighter. On the verge of either breaking into, smacking you in the face or flinging across the room, either way, the outcome does not look promising. It has gotten to the point of breaking because for the first time in ten years we moved. The process started back in the middle of August and just this week it all finally wrapped up…for now. For me it has been moving, but for the most part we are busier today than we’ve ever been before and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Does it? I know, I can almost hear your exasperated sighs of defeat. But do we give up? No, we dig our heels in and push forward because that’s what we do, right? Oh my friends, I don’t know about you, but I have to take a moment right now to just get real with you. I. Am. Stretched. Too thin. My poor little rubber band has got frays in it and it is on the verge of snapping. Chances are your rubber band is pulled pretty tight too, it could be anyone of these things that is stretching you thin this season; The holidays, the kids are out of school, you have house guests and you’ve been running on fumes for weeks. Your husband was just notified that at the beginning of the new year he will no longer have a job. Your son/daughter has made some really bad decisions and you’re left wondering how they got so far off...