To the struggling parent, God is with you.

We have three daughters. And if there is something I have found to be harder than pregnancy and labor combined, it is raising them.

They are different from each other, and different from me altogether. They are also growing up at a different time, surrounded by different messages from the world, and in a different environment. I struggled often using methods of “how” I was taught when I really should have been focusing on “what” I was taught. The message delivered is the same, love God, love others, be kind etc. But HOW it is taught has to be different. I can’t expect to raise my daughters using methods that were used with me when I didn’t have to deal with half the things they are facing.

I grew up going to church, but we were not a ministry family. We were like any other family going to church, school, work etc. But my daughters are growing up under the umbrella of our calling. When my husband and I said yes to ministry, we did so as a family. Our kids travel with us to meetings, events, services, practices, you name it. Sometimes I can keep them on schedule and sometimes they are playing hide and seek on the church chairs past their bedtime.

A a parent I have questioned and wondered how this will affect them in the future. But then I remember that God was the one who gave them for me to raise. He knew the lifestyle they were going to be in therefore I believe their personalities and temperament were designed to fit the calling we have as a family. One day they will discover their own calling and continue to do God’s work long after we are gone.

Don’t get me wrong, they are kids and do things kids do. They run, play, cry, whine, pout, get into things, giggle at the wrong times….but one thing is certain, they will never see ministry as something “mom and dad” did but something “WE” did as a family. My job right now is to teach them why we do what we do. Why we pray for the sick, take a meal to someone in need, or pray for the random stranger we met at the store. You don’t have to be a ministry family to do those things. Serving is something all families can and should implement in their lifestyle. That way we create a generation that can be God’s hands and feet in this world.

We don’t have to stress over how what we’re doing is going to affect them. If we put God first in our lives, we can set the example and God will be faithful to guide them in their path and lead them to personally encounter him at the right time.

If there’s any advice I can give parents is this; the only thing you should worry about is whether your kids see Jesus in you. Do they see love and compassion? Do they see a helping hand or someone who lifts others up? Do they see someone who loves God and lives by His word? These memories will stay with them forever and the impact can bear amazing fruit.

Let them see you make and admit mistakes. If you lost your temper or raised your voice, turn it into a teaching moment where you can share with them that you were wrong but God is helping you to be better.

Long before I had children I saw raising a daughter as a scary thing, yet the Lord gave me three. (talk about facing your fears!) But I believe God will not give you something if he wasn’t going to equip you and be there every step of the way.

Mom and dad, breathe! It’s going to be ok! The Lord is always faithful and you’ve got on your side a God who NEVER fails.

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Keys to a marriage that thrives

Today marks eight years we have been married. And our marriage has been a book of good and rough moments, sometimes scary or funny. Other times heartbreaking and hopeful. But through it all we have found one thing to be consistently true; that when you have God as number one in your life as an individual, your life together becomes an adventure.

We realize having a thriving marriage seems something foreign or far off for many couples. But it doesn’t have to be. God wants everyone to live a fulfilling and thriving marriage. Not one that gets by just “making it”.

We’ve taken time to discuss and share as a couple some key points that have proven to be crucial in the strengthening of our marriage. These are meant for reflection, and it doesn’t mean our marriage is perfect. But we can honestly say that we walk each day feeling blessed. So here goes:

• Your individual relationship with God must be a priority in your life. He is the solid foundation your marriage will grow on.

• Turn to God about your frustrations. Not friends and family who can be biased and “feed” your negative feelings.

• Learn to love unconditionally. We are far from worthy of God’s love, yet he gives it to us. Don’t live with the mentality that your spouse needs to be “deserving” of your love.

• Seek to live out 1 Corinthians 13 in your life. Make a conscious decision to do so. The flesh wants what is easy, but a strong and thriving marriage is a result of intentional effort.

• Plan life together. You are no longer two but one. Meaning your goals and aspirations should always keep the well being of your spouse and marriage in mind.

• There’s no happily ever after without commitment.

• Never compare your marriage to another. Focus on reaching the best that you and your spouse can be, not who you can “be like”.

•You contribute to the state of your marriage. Meaning what you get out of it is determined by what you pour into it and your mentality about it.

We encourage you to take time in prayer and seek God in the areas your marriage needs improvement. Don’t hesitate to seek help from qualified individuals such as your pastors or counselors. They are in your life as a valuable resource from God to help guide, counsel, and teach. When your relationship with God is strengthened, so is your marriage, and as result so is your family.

A prayer for my children

Our oldest is starting kindergarten this year, and as we run around trying to get everything she needs to prepare for this new stage in her life I couldn't help but take a moment to sit back and reflect on what is the most important "preparing" we can do for her. That spiritual "prep". How can she be prepared to deal with what's ahead? Not just this year, but the rest of her life? I've come to realize there is no greater weapon against the currents of this world than prayer. The prayer of mother or father can move and shake mountains. Which is why I wanted to share this very personal prayer I wrote for all my children, and hopefully inspire you to pray daily for yours. Whether they are in diapers or graduating college, they will always need your covering in prayer.

A prayer for my children:

"God I pray that ALL my children will know you. That they not only encounter you but that their lives may be devoted to you. That your love may shine through them and minister to whoever comes their way. That they may spread your love and joy wherever they go.

That they dare to love deeply and unconditionally, just as you do. That when they speak they lift others and exalt your name. That their lives may reach the potential of what you have created them to be. That they may look to YOU to find themselves, their Creator.

That they not be deceived by the "glamour" in this world or what it claims to offer. But that they walk in wisdom guided by your hand. That they may never change or alter who they are in you because of a lie. But that they stand strong in the face of opposition and be victorious.

God I pray you make me the mother they need to care for them and send them the right direction. Let my guidance always be love filled with a word of life inspired by you. That my words build them up, not tear them down.

That my daughters may be God filled powerful women, devoted to you, their husbands, and their families. That my sons will be courageous men filled with your power and anointing, fighting for souls and for their families. That they care for their wives and children as you care for us.

Teach us how to be the parents they need. Inspiring and comforting, not judgmental or harsh, leading them to you in all we say and do.

Teach us Lord, we are imperfect but willing. We look to you for guidance and strength against all troubles we may face. We trust in you, you are our rock. Our solid foundation, never changing. God almighty forever and ever Amen."

Beauty in the worst times

In those moments we feel stretched to the limit, where we think we're about to snap or even break….that moment contains the most amazing opportunity to encounter God in way we could never imagine.

We are pastors, and contrary to what some believe our life is not perfect. We go through trials. Heavy ones. We cry, we hurt, we bleed. We cry out to God for things others could not imagine, or even understand. Yet I have found in my worst moments, God has never failed to show up. He has shown me he's there. His presence alone is enough to lift all troubles away, even when the solution has not yet come.

In a recent situation I felt my heart growing heavy, and I let impatience get a hold of me. I asked God questions I honestly don't ask him often…..Why are we going through this? What did we do? Where did we go wrong? After a few minutes of genuinely pouring out my anger and speaking to God with transparency I walked out of the room feeling vulnerable, hurt, and waiting for a response.

A little while later as I rocked my youngest I heard the words to a song my husband was playing in the other room. "All I need is you…..all I need is you, Lord." At that moment I felt the Holy Spirit come to comfort me. My heart began to sing and in an instant the heaviness was lifted. God reminded me at that moment that my security lies in Him, not what my eyes see.

I don't need to have it all resolved to have peace. He IS the peace I need. He is faithful to take care of my situation, but in the meantime he wanted me to know HE was enough for me.

Beloved, HE is enough for you. You don't have to have it all figured out, but talk to the one who knows and is constant. Faithful, loving and perfect in all He does. Even in the worst times, there is beauty.

But I don’t have time

If asked what are some things you wish you had time for, what would you say? It’s ironic how living in a time where everything is manufactured to be quicker, more time efficient, we’re still plagued with this all too known phrase “but I don’t have time…”.  I wish I could…but I don’t have time. Countless things could fill in that blank. I wish I could work out, I wish I could spend more time with my kids, I wish I could read my bible more, I wish I could pray more….but I don’t have time. I can’t even count the times I’ve heard this come out of  people’s mouths, even my own.

It wasn’t until I left my job and became a full time mom that I realized if I didn’t have time for something, it was my fault. For a long time I blamed having a job, responsibilities of ministry, and even having kids as an excuse for things I knew were important but I couldn’t get done. I’d constantly think “If only things were this way or that way, then  I’d have time…”. Then I found myself saying those exact same words even when I did have the time. I simply wasn’t making the time.

More than once I’ve heard my husband quote, “Excuses only satisfy the person that makes them…”. And he’s right. Excuses are just that, excuses. And unfortunately the thing people make most excuses for is their spiritual growth. We think God will understand that our lives are “just too busy” to pray, to fast, to serve in ministry…  We tell God “fix this in my life then I’ll have time to serve” or “then I’ll have more time to go to church”. Sound familiar? I hope not, but if you do find yourself saying this, think about Daniel. Daniel was a man of prayer, he had a deep connection with God because he knew the place God deserved in his life. When you intentionally give God the time he deserves, things will change. Everything will begin to align itself in your life, because you have given Him priority.

What a struggle we have sometimes, giving God his rightful place. Daniel 6:10 says that even while knowing the decree that had been placed Daniel prayed,  “just as he had done before.” Even in the face of death Daniel did not waver in his devotional time with God. But how many times do we give up just 5 minutes of morning time with God for 5 more minutes of the snooze button! It’s not that we don’t have time, we simply don’t make the time! When something is a priority in your life you make time for it. Even simple things like brushing your teeth, taking a bath, and eating a meal. You make time for it because you understand its importance. God forbid you go day after day without brushing your teeth because you “don’t have time.” Or go for weeks without showering because you “keep forgetting” or “things keep coming up”.  Excuses.

I’ll leave you with this, a bible commentary I was reading (because I’m nerdy like that) went like this: ” Daniel prayed openly and avowedly; and though a man of vast business, he did not think that would excuse him from daily exercises of devotion. How inexcusable are those who have but little to do in the world, yet will not do thus much for their souls!” Ouch. Priorities….they are priorities because you make them, not because they have the time to be. I encourage you to analyze your life. I don’t pretend to have it all figured out, or to have the perfect handle on managing my priorities. But God has brought this conviction to my heart, and I have to share it. I pray God may become the center of your life so you can enjoy His abundance of blessings. You will never go back!

Helper

    img_3008You may have heard  a common phrase that says “A woman’s heart should be so into God that a man has to seek Him to find her.” This is a helpful concept especially in the beginning stages of a relationship. However once a woman has opened up and has followed the path that now makes her a wife or “suitable helper” (Gen 2:18) things make a slight shift.

Mankind was created with an instinct to lead. This is reflected in Genesis 1:26 “…let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” This authority was given in a general sense to mankind. However when you continue reading you encounter a reflection of God’s thought process when he created Adam and Eve. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen 2:15) Meaning he was now to govern the earth responsibly under God’s authority. But with every living being God had created “no suitable helper was found” (Gen 2:19). So God created Eve.

Eve was created to unite with Adam and “help” him, not “lead” him. God gave Adam specific instructions and then provided the help he needed through Eve. Husbands have a responsibility to take care of “the land”. What would now be their homes, wife, and children. Wives have a responsibility to “help” their husbands. However nowadays the subject of a woman’s place is a controversial (and touchy) one. Nonetheless God’s original intent still remains. The privileges that a woman carries now in the secular world like that of career, position, leadership are often times confused with her role in her home when she stands alongside her husband. Both positions as husband and wife have a great weight and will both be held accountable before God. They were designed to compliment and balance each other out. That is why when a couple has God as the center and glue of their marriage they will as a result draw closer together. It will unite them in a way nothing else can and become fulfilling not only to both of them, but to the family as a whole.

A “helper” has immense value. They  relieve burden, work together, team up, follow, encourage, lift up….and the list goes on. They have influence as well, are heard and have a voice. A wife is not left behind but rather walks alongside her husband. She supports him and in return receives what she yearns from him and the family; appreciation, value, admiration, and love. That doesn’t mean if she is not currently receiving these things she should diminish her devotion, but continue on because not a detail of her life is overlooked by the Creator. She will be rewarded in due time, as will the husband who takes on with diligence the responsibility that was given to him.

A marriage is a team, and when one role is lacking the marriage as a whole is affected. It trickles down to the children or anything else they lead as a couple. Whether it’s their home, a ministry or a business. Women if you can embrace God’s intent for your role as a wife, you will become a breath of life to your husband and children. Encouraging in everything you speak  and helping your husband in the guidance of your family. Sometimes it’s a difficult task in itself figuring out how to be that, I’m still figuring it out myself. But with God’s help and his Holy Spirit inside of you he will guide you and teach you every day. Embrace your role and its journey, it will not be in vain!

Preserve my life

img_2327Growing up in a Christian home is not easy. What is meant to protect us can be seen as just rules, limitations, being excluded or ridiculed by peers because we can’t or don’t partake in the things they freely do. Without relationship with God, these can easily lead to frustrations, anger, or rebellion. It’s argued that we can’t be ourselves or express who we are because everything is a sin. The current culture mindset never helps, because many don’t realize anything that makes us the “center” of our lives only brings a halt to what can truly fill our lives.

The phrase “Live your own truth” is lived out in many lives. It’s labeled and used erroneously as expressing yourself and celebrating “individuality”. This causes many to view Christianity as just rules that block “being who you want to be”. Many soak up this advice and use it to justify what in reality is just an indulgence in our sinful nature. True expression and individuality can only come forth when you go back to the root of your creation, and your Creator. The one who KNOWS you, better than you know yourself.

What the world sees as being “narrow” or “closed” minded, is meant to preserve my life. What is taught in a Christian lifestyle, when guided by the Word and Holy Spirit is not because it makes us “better” than anyone. Nor does it bind us from being who we are. It PRESERVES who God created me to be and allows me to find myself in Him. Like an artist takes steps to preserve their painting, so our Creator seeks to preserve us.

Being a follower of Christ does not mean my life is limited, full of rules, or expectations of being a “perfect” person. If means true freedom, victory, living a life that is fulfilled, and knowing who I was created to be. It means now my life is preserved, through His Word, teachings and guidance from the Holy Spirit.

If you are searching to find yourself, looking to discover who you are and where you are destined to go,  I encourage you to start by asking the one who created you. His guidance will preserve your life. His Word says in Jeremiah 1: 5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…”. So why start anywhere else.