Stop And Smell The Roses – Taking Time For A Year End Review Of Your Life

  But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord. Joshua 24:15b ESV All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is coming to a close: the house is a mess, the decorations might still be up, and yet now is the perfect time to stop and smell the roses and make time for a year end review of your life.  As a matter of fact, apart from the major holidays this specific week (between Christmas and the New Year) is my favorite time of the year. Do you want to know why?  Every year I take this week to sit and review what worked, what didn’t work, what needs to be improved and what I hope to do in the next year. It’s not a complicated process, but it is a strategic process that my husband and I do every year. We started doing this about ten years ago and it’s turned into the most thought provoking and productive week for both of us. Chances are you do something like this either mentally or on paper, so why not make a plan and see what you learn in the process. I’m going to share with you what I do, you take it, then tweak it to fit you and your family. Here’s what you need to get ready; paper/giant sticky notes/notepad colored markers/pens/highlighters calendar (last year and the coming year) music (this is very important for me) – I love to listen to “Epic Soundtracks” on Pandora so that I don’t get distracted by the words in the songs. I put those giant sticky notes...

Behind The Makeup

Over the years I’ve been blessed to serve in ministry at the local church. Most of the time you hope and pray that what you are doing is making an impact, but truth be told you never fully know just what that impact is. A good friend of mine, Michelle Garrison, shared this with me a few weeks ago and I immediately knew that this was something that needed to be talked about with you as well. This is something that many of us wrestle with, as a matter of fact, it’s one of the things that I talk/write about more than anything else: Girlfriends, vulnerability and being real with each other. It’s not easy to do, that’s for sure, but something incredible happens when we start to get behind the makeup. I pray you are as encouraged by her words as I have been…she is not an author, speaker, or even someone that likes to be in the spotlight, she’s a real woman, doing real life and trying really hard to live out her faith and I just love that about Michelle. Her words are from the heart and I know that it will challenge you as much as it did me. As I assessed my face in the makeup mirror this morning, I was so thankful that I was able to hide my imperfections under the mask of makeup. The day before, I hung around the house and wore no makeup. It is amazing how good you feel when you look all put together. On that no makeup day, I wasn’t feeling at my best. Then, my thoughts...

Turning What We Think About Submission Right Side Up, Part 4

I have told you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may believe. John 14:29 Jesus repeatedly declares “so that you may believe.” He continually reminds us to submit. We choose to follow over and over again. We choose to believe Him over and over. We choose to trust Him over and over. Faith isn’t a one-time commitment. We don’t get to check the box and move on. Knowing the pure meaning of submission is important to our lives. It reflects the truth. It makes a way in and for life. It’s persistent, just like God Himself. On a regular basis, do you fully take advantage of Jesus’ reminders to believe? How well do you listen to what He has told you? What then? Are we any better? Not at all! For we have previously charged that both Jews and Gentiles are all under sin. Romans 3:9 Submission positions us to see the truth alongside hope. We don’t arrogantly claim we’ve received, accepted, or achieved something others haven’t. Humility prompts us to want what we have for others. If we ever point out a lacking, it is only because we see our own and can encourage someone. We can help them see the possible hope. But the moment we let pride taint our attitudes or efforts, we weaken. Submission strengthens us. When have you thought yourself better than someone else, particularly in faith? How did you move on, or how can you now? Now we have this treasure in clay jars, so that this extraordinary power may be from God and not from us. We...

Cling Tight Dear One

When life seems to keep knocking you down and you start to wonder when will you see the sun again just remember to cling tight, dear one. This has been the four words that God keeps pressing on my heart these last few months. Oh how I wish that I could tell you that the Christian life was all sunshine and roses, but truth is that it’s not always easy. Yes, there are times when It’s full of sadness, disappointment, and hurt, but there are also times full of happiness, joy and love. Thank goodness for that, because can you image how hard it would be to even get out of bed each day if it was only the hard stuff? Here’s what I will tell you — I’ve grown more as a believer in the hard times than in the easy times. Sit there for a minute. It’s a hard truth, for sure, but it’s true. It’s when things are tough than we run (not even walk) to God. It’s not when things are going smoothly. So, what’s one supposed to do when you are buried deep in the middle of the hard times? Well, that’s where these four words come in handy…cling tight, dear one. These four words have been on my mind for months now. Every single time I cry out to God for help, relief or comfort I feel Him say to me, “cling tight, dear one”. Why those four words and why every single time I pray these days? I think I’m beginning to understand and it’s my hope that these four words will...

The Joy in Contentment

All of our belongings were either in storage or crammed in the back of our van. And when I say crammed, I mean jam-packed, from floor to ceiling and end to end. Our home, a newly built ranch we’d fallen in love with the moment we toured it, sat on the market, listed for twenty grand below what we’d paid less than a year previously. And then came the move. I should’ve been happy; thrilled, really. It’d been a rough year: a period of unemployment that drained our savings, followed by a couple months of contract work where the three of us lived in a 500-square foot rent by the month apartment. Had you asked me at any point between our first day of unemployment until my husband got hired back on at Union Pacific, I would’ve told you I’d be happy anywhere, so long as my husband had stable work and we were together. But then came the move. The move when the crisis had resolved and suddenly, I began to grow discontent. Instead of being grateful as I had been when I first learned of my husband’s job offer, I began to grumble inwardly. To think of all we’d lost. The result–my growing discontentment stole my joy. But one day, while out running, I took a wrong turn, then another wrong turn, and meandered further and further into a poor area of Texas. A neighborhood with sagging chain link fences, overgrown lawns with patches of brown, broken down cars clogging the streets. Children playing barefoot, some sitting on porch steps, watching. It was crazy hot and so humid,...

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,...

Thank you God, for everything

My daughter prayed a simple prayer as we gathered together with our family, “Thank you God for everything. Amen.” Her uncle quickly questioned, “Everything?” Her response was immediate, “God knows what I mean, He knows what is in my heart.” With that, we began our meal. Yet I wonder, what if we thanked God for everything? Yes,  for the moments of heartache, confusion, and hurt. For the moments causing our world to turn upside down, and for the moments turning us inside out, what if we thanked Him? Through the tears, through the anger, through the fears, what if we thanked Him? Thank you God, for everything. When grief threatens to consume me, thank you for being near. When confusion causes me to stumble, thank you for pointing the way. Thank you for knowing me fully, completely. Thank you for drawing near to me, for being faithful, and for being trustworthy. Thank you for speaking truth to the lies spoken to me. Thank you for loving me with an infinite, unconditional love, though others may reject me. Thank you for catching all the tears, for knowing the depths of my pain, for never leaving me alone. Thank you God, for everything. Thank you for the moments slamming me to my knees, leaving me humbled before you. Thank you for the beauty you have built from the ashes, for breathing life into the dying places. Thank you for allowing me to fail on my own in order to see my great, desperate need for you. Thank you for never failing, never quitting, though I run from you. Thank you for...