Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Experiment

I read 1 John 4:12 ("No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us." NLT) a couple of weeks ago and the thought of being an expression of God's love jumped out at me. What would that look like? How am I doing at being an expression of God's love?

So I decided to try an experiment. For the time remaining till Christmas, I would consciously try to be God's expression of love to the people around me (including family).

It's been a couple of weeks and I have to tell you that it's changed my attitude about Christmas and shopping and the rest. I look forward to each outing and am on the lookout to see what will happen. Instead of dreading shopping, I anticipate opportunities to show God's love to people.

For example, I ran into CVS to pick up a couple of things before heading home. I briefly asked the new clerk something about Christmas and she launched into a lengthy story of how she had just moved to Nashville from Illinois, but left all her family behind. I felt God nudging me to slow down and listen and genuinely hear her story. She told me about the gifts she had made for her grandchildren (afghans with each of their names on them) and how much she loved them, etc. Instead of feeling irritation at this interruption of my scheduled stops, I tried to show love and kindness that Jesus would have given her if He were here on earth.

I know this is a really simple thought (and something I should be doing every day of my life) but it has given me a new perspective and more opportunities to show God's love to people. And isn't that what Christmas is really about....God loving and giving His best to people.

Merry Christmas...may we all be an expression of God's great love to those who need it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Spending Wisely

“I will very gladly spend and be spent for you.”
2 Corinthians 12:15

Paul was writing this and he was willing to spend his life for others. Someone has said that life is like a coin – (no, Forrest it is not like a box of chocolates!) you have one chance to spend it and then it’s gone. There are no re-do’s. Each day must be used wisely in service to God and others.

As we approach the holiday season, I can honestly say that I usually feel "spent" at the end of each day. BUT I don't exactly think that's what Paul had in mind.

How am I investing my life for God and others this holiday season?

As I pondered this question, I realized how easy it is for all the shopping, wrapping, cooking, and celebrating to eclipse the true meaning. And I'm not exactly sure what to do. I have good intentions at the beginning of December, but by Christmas Eve, I'm one crazy woman shopping for that last gift!

How do you slow down enough to focus on the true meaning of Christmas?

A couple of things I want to do...

Share Christ with someone this year. This could mean giving a tract (I saw the parking attendant reading a tract someone had given her as I pulled out of a parking garage, so you never know what could happen) or meeting with my hairdresser for coffee and specifically sharing the gospel message (I've sowed a lot of seeds so far.) or who knows...maybe if I just listen closely to God, He will guide me.

Spend some time thinking about God's great gift to me every day. What a great sacrifice Jesus made coming to the earth as a baby to grow up and give up His life for me!

I would share more ideas, but I don't want to be so ambitious that I get overwhelmed and give up before I even get started. Please share any ideas of how you focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Spend your coin wisely.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

It's almost Thanksgiving week, so I decided to make my Thanksgiving list. Of course, this is something I should do every day because I have so much to be thankful for. Focusing on what I have creates a contentment that creates a peaceful me - not so much yearning and wishing for more.

I'm thankful for:

At the top would have to be forgiveness of sin and a real relationship with God - I honestly can't even believe that He (the GOD of the universe) wants to have a relationship and continues to love me, in spite of myself.

Purpose in life - I usually wake up with several things on my list to do each day - and that's a good thing - I enjoy what I do - I love working from home in my pj's. I love traveling with Richard to visit the church planters.

I would have to put Richard (husband) at top of list, too. Now that all the kiddies are gone and it's just us, I am re-discovering how much I enjoy being with him.

I love my family - and love spending time with them.

My sister - we talk every day and can finish each other's sentences. Once a week, we pray together via cell phone.

A washing machine - it's scrubbing my clothes as I write this. (AAAAHHHHH)

These are just a few of the things I wrote down...there's so much more - friends, plenty of food, warm house, health, hot showers, books, good car that runs, the list is pretty long.

Of course, I'm thankful for ministry wives who are serving alongside their husbands loving people and giving so much to build God's kingdom. Thank you for all your hard work!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What's Really Important

I was just in South Carolina visiting our daughter and I was reminded of how God is always shaping us. Rachel (who I hadn't seen since August when she moved there to work on the campus of USC Spartanburg with Campus Crusade) and I had a delightful time together - eating, laughing, shopping (at the Goodwill, of course) and just being together.

The three short days flew by and it was the last morning I was there. I made her a chocolate and toast breakfast (a sweet - literally- family tradition) and we went back to her room. I was intent on finishing up the curtains. We had bought ribbon for tiebacks, but had to screw in the cup hooks and cut the ribbon to size. I had just started when Rachel said from the bed, "Just lay back down here beside me, Mom." I reminded her that we needed to finish the curtains and she reminded me that she cared more about the spending the last few minutes we had together talking and cuddling (yes, even at 22 years old they still like to cuddle).

I constantly need that reminder! You see, I'm a Martha - always doing. My love language is acts of service and that's the way I tend to show my love. (Rachel's is quality time, if you haven't guessed.) It's a family joke that I can't sit down to enjoy a movie- I have to be folding laundry, etc- always doing two things at once.

On my way home, I heard a Focus on the Family interview with Dr. Dan Allender who wrote the book, How Children Raise Parents. He mentioned that God uses our kids to shape us and knock off those rough edges. Sometimes our kids speak to us in such prophetic ways that help us to see things to which we are blind - in my case, being fully present and doing what is really important. There will be always be MORE to do - more dishes to wash, more rooms to clean, more socks to pick up, more projects to complete, more, more, more! But I need to slow down and not do just the urgent that screams to me from the laundry basket, but to do the things that really matter - listening, sharing, cuddling, laughing, reading, making memories.

How about you? Are you fully present with your husband, your kids? Do you take time to enjoy each other? Hopefully, some day my kids will finally get me raised and I will be more of what God has in mind for me.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Keep At It!

Have you prayed for something for a long time and it still hasn't happened?

It's easy to lose heart and give up. You may even question if God is listening... if He is able to do what you've asked. I want to encourage you today to keep doing what you are doing. God is listening. God has all-power. God cares.

I came across this quote from Richard Foster recently and liked it.

We may not see the end from the beginning, but we keep on doing what we know to do. We pray, we listen, we worship, we carry out the duty of the present moment. What we learned to do in the light of God's love, we also do in the dark of God's absence.
We ask and continue to ask, even though there is no answer.
We seek and continue to seek, even though we do not find.
We knock and continue to knock, even though the door remains shut.

This constant, longing love produces a firmness of life orientation in us. We love God more than the gifts God brings. Like Job, we serve God even if He slays us. Like Mary, we say freely, "I am the Lord's servant. May it be to me as You have said." (Luke 1:38)

May God give you the added faith and strength to keep at it!

Monday, September 13, 2010


Last week I wrote about insecurity and it started me thinking...

God often uses our weaknesses (the things we are insecure about) more than He uses our strengths. We all like to stay in our strengths and not highlight our weaknesses, but God seems to delight in showcasing them.

Think about Bible examples. Peter. What would you say his biggest weakness was? His mouth, right? Peter, who was always saying things and probably regretting it later (I can so relate). God used Peter to be a spokesman for the early church. God took Peter's weakness and used it.

Paul. He had been trusted with some important information (taken up into the third heaven?), so God gave him a thorn - something to keep him humble. We don't know what the thorn was, but it was a constant reminder for Paul to operate in God's strength. He even said that he delighted in his weakness, because God's power was perfected in weakness. (2 Corinthians 10:12)

There are lots more examples.

Gideon was so fearful that when the angel appeared to tell him of God's plan, he was hiding in his family's wine press. God used fearful Gideon to be the leader of an army.

Moses, complained to God that he couldn't speak (maybe he had a speech impediment?), but God used him to speak to the most powerful man on earth (Pharaoh) and demand release for God's people.

Thinking about these examples encourages me. God wants to use me - even my weaknesses. I want to forget them. But He wants to work through them to showcase His greatness - to myself and to others. He doesn't always take away my weaknesses. I guess that keeps me dependent on Him...a good place for me to be.

What are your weaknesses? How can God work through your weakness to bring glory to Himself?

Who would have thought that weakness could be a good thing?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Every time I visit my daughter-in-law's blog, I LOVE reading about their adventures, home improvement projects and even what they're having for dinner; BUT I also see my blog listed as one of her favorites and beside it, how long it's been since I've written one. As of today, it's been two months since I last wrote a blog. Do I feel guilty? You bet! Do I wish I could be as diligent about blogging as she is? I certainly do!

Do you ever compare yourself to others and feel like you come up short? Why do we as women lack confidence in ourselves and are so insecure? (We must be insecure as Beth Moore has recently written a whole book about it!)

I don't know for sure, but I think it starts early. I remember comparing myself with my little sister at an early age - she was so petite and cute; I was so tall and gangly (that is actually working in my favor now as I'm finding more places to hide fat HA). I remember comparing myself to other girls, teens, women, for as long as I can remember. And don't forget the last pastor's wife - what big shoes she wore!

Comparing ourselves is never a good idea, so I don't know why I do it?! Paul says those that compare themselves with others are not wise. (2 Corinthians 10:12) It can lead us to pride (Thank goodness, I'm not as __________ as she is!) or to self-defeat (I wish I could be more _______________!) Usually, I prefer the first one to the second one. (Can anyone say INSECURITY?!)

There is certainly too much to say about this for one blog (I know..when I finally do write, I have a tendency to go on and on...MORE INSECURITY!) But I do want to encourage you to focus on what God thinks about you:

He knows you inside and out and still loves you!
He is at work in you to grow and change you.
He will complete the work He has started in you!
(Philippians 1:6 - my life verse)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saying thanks

What two words have the power to keep you going? That’s right, you guessed it…thank you! (“You won a vacation” is actually four words!)

You know how well those two little words can encourage you to keep at it. When someone notices and says “thank you for all your hard work” it gives you that little extra ooommpphh to keep at it. Maybe it shouldn’t be that way – we should do what we do with a pure heart not expecting any thing in return, but who are we kidding??? Heartfelt appreciation gives me the desire and strength to keep going.

Another question… what do you have little of in a new church (besides just about everything)? Money, probably! I don’t know many church planters who have an abundance of money laying around. So I thought I’d write about a few ways to say thank you to the people in your church who work so hard week after week – most cost less than $5.

1. Our funds were tight for our MOPS babysitters this year, so I made up some cards using candy bars. I wrote a short note on a half sheet of poster board and taped candy bars in the place of some words. (You’re worth more than a 100 Grand. You are the best babysitter in the Milky Way. We know our kids sometimes act like Airheads, but you make them Smarties. We love you to (Reese’s) Pieces. Hugs and Kisses.)

2. Buy a small can of Play-doh and attach a simple note that says, “Thanks for shaping our kids’ lives.”

3. Buy a $5 gift card from Starbucks (or fast-food restaurant). Attach a note that says, “Thanks for all your hard work; enjoy a little treat from us.”

4. Buy a pack of note cards or a magnetic shopping list – Add a post-it note that says, “Thanks for your “noteworthy” contributions to our church.”

5. Give a flashlight (with batteries) and a note that says, “Thanks for letting your light shine.”

These are just a few ideas (thanks to Children's Ministry magazine for some of them) if you think about it, I’m sure you could think of lots more. Slip one in a teacher’s class before she arrives on Sunday morning or put one in a gift bag with tissue paper. It’s not really the gift that counts; it’s the thought and appreciation behind it!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Caring for your Team

We recently discussed with a small group of church planters how to keep workers on your “team.” Maybe you're wondering how to keep the few workers you have in the new church (or at any church) from getting burned out. I don’t have tons of ideas, but I wanted to share a few thoughts.

When we were first planting a church in Delaware, I would regularly receive a call from one of the new women in the church. At first, I really wanted to help her and listened to her for what seemed like hours on end (believe me, we really did have some LONG conversations). Finally, when this dragged on too long, my husband “encouraged” me to limit my time with her on the phone. Looking back, I thought I was helping her but I realized that she didn’t really want to grow or change; she just wanted my attention and a sounding board.

I naively thought that I had to give equal attention to every needy person that needed it. (And believe me, it seems that new churches attract some needy people- at least ours did!) I now see that I should have used my time more wisely. After all, we only have a limited amount of time. I think as church planter wives, we need to invest in that group of people who are involved, teachable, and growing. (I’m not saying to ignore people who need help, but they can easily suck up all your time and energy.)

How to do that, you ask?

We got together with our leadership team once a month. There was no big agenda – we ate dinner together (we took turns meeting at each others’ homes) and then talked and prayed together. It gave us a chance to share our hearts with them and see how they were doing. Playing games and eating pizza can join your team together.

Text or call the women of your leadership team regularly. Get together for coffee. Go shopping together. Get to know them and build a good relationship with them. If there is no relationship, it is hard to help or even confront them when it is needed.

Be vulnerable with them. Share your struggles with them and they will be more open to you. Don’t worry about being a “spiritual giant” --- people relate to us more in our weaknesses than in our strengths (Thank goodness, I usually have plenty weaknesses to share! HA)

Find small ways to show appreciation – a blog on that will be coming soon. It doesn’t have to be something expensive or big; just a note sharing a specific thanks or praise for what they are doing will mean tons!

How do you care for the leadership team in your new church? Post a comment – don’t worry that it’s a simple idea –those are usually the best.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Free Tutoring for Military Families

I saw this deal on today (May 19th, 2010) and thought I'd pass it on... so you can pass it on to people you know.

If you are a military family and could benefit from a tutoring service, then you’ll be excited to learn about is an online tutoring service for many subjects from basic math to essay writing and calculus. The best part is that it is FREE for military families! Military service members and their dependents around the world can work with a certified, professional tutor online 24/7 to get help with homework, studying, test prep, resume writing, and more!

Here’s what you need to do take advantage of this free offer…
*Head on over to
*Click on the purple button that says “ for the military”
*Click on which branch of the military you are in and then follow the directions

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Good enough!

Recently I was asked if I would sing at a church and I said, “No, I’m not really that good.” (And that’s the truth, I’m not – I can carry a tune, but that’s about it.) Later, I felt guilty (I do guilt well!) It was a small church and I could have sung and praised God with my singing. It wasn’t like I was performing in Madison Square Gardens or something…

Looking back on that, I thought of the statement that the greatest ability is availability. (not sure who said that, but have heard it lots of times).

God wants to use each of us, but sometimes we hold back because we’re afraid that we won’t do it good enough. You know the excuses – I’m not gifted in that area. I can’t do it as well as she can. On and on…

I’ve learned that if I do what I can, it may not be the best in the world, but God can use it. And I can learn to do it better. Almost every new thing I do is done poorly when I first start doing it, but that’s how I learn – the more I do it, the better I get. It takes time and practice.

Does that mean we shouldn’t do our best? Of course, we should, but sometimes good enough works, too.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Encouraging your husband in ministry

The church planter/pastor is the one who is supposed to encourage others, but what do you do when your pastor is discouraged and you just happen to be married to him?

I wanted to share a few thoughts on encouraging our pastor/husbands.

1. Pray for him. I start with this because I think it is most important. I wanted to pray for my pastor/husband, Richard, but didn't know exactly what to pray. I read Stormie Omartian's book, The Power of a Praying Wife, and found all kinds of things to pray about - many things I would have not thought about (prayers for him to be kept from temptation, prayers for his friendship, his finances, his health, and on and on). I pray the Bible prayer at the end of the chapter, put a bookmark there and move to the next prayer the following morning. What a powerful force we can unleash in our lives when we pray!

Once when we were going through a rough situation at our church, I prayed that morning for God to encourage and help Richard that day. That evening he told me that he opened a magazine that morning and the first article talked about discouragement. Then a friend came by and prayed with him. I was amazed at how God had encouraged him.

2. Listen to him. We all need someone to listen -without judging us. It took me awhile to learn this, but my hubby usually didn't need my advice - he just needed me to sit and listen and sympathize. I like to call what he does venting. Have you ever noticed that men need to vent? In the beginning, I told him how he should feel (Honey, you shouldn't feel that way; she was only trying to be helpful...), but I learned that he opened up a lot more if I kept MY mouth shut and just listened. Enough said...

3. Don't criticize him. Some may disagree with me, but I decided early in our ministry that I was going to be his cheerleader. I didn't want him to dread getting in the car every Sunday only to hear a litany of his mistakes. I figured there would be enough people who would correct him if he did it wrong. Again, I didn't realize how much self-doubt men have. Am I a good pastor? Am I a good husband? Am I a good father? Am I.... Hearing those magic words "I believe in you" can give men the confidence to keep going even when they fail.

Having said that, I do occasionally slip into my "Holy Spirit Junior" mode and feel like I need to correct him. There are times to honestly talk about things, but it should never be done in haste and without clear leading from God. I've found praying does a lot more good than I could ever do with my nagging/whining/complaining.

And did I mention, never speaking against him or correcting him in front of others? I heard a pastor telling a story and his wife kept interrupting him to make sure he was telling it just right (No, honey, it was Tuesday night instead of Thursday night! No, remember we were driving the Buick, not the Mustang). Ephesians 4:29 says that our words should build up (edify). It's refreshing to hear one spouse compliment and not tear down the other!

4. Meet his physical needs. When hubby/pastor comes home from a stressful board meeting, what could help "de-stress" him better than a good meal, a massage and sex? God gave us the gift of physical intimacy which can make our marriages stronger, happier, and more fun!

I realize this blog is getting too long... must close before you start drifting off.

Peter Drucker said that being a pastor and a church planter are the two hardest jobs in America. So I'm guessing that being married to someone in those jobs is not going to be easy. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves and our pastor husbands to do what we can, but this is God's work - the battle is the Lord's!

Share with us ways that you think ministry wives can encourage their husbands.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I love spring!

For the past week, I can't stay indoors. It looks like someone woke up the earth as the trees and flowers are blooming. This is my azalea bush in the front yard. It all looks beautiful! (Someone with allergies might disagree with this picture being beautiful HA)

It is easy to take these things for granted – but have you ever thought about how great God is to think all this up and then keep it going on and on? The leaves fall off in the autumn and fertilize the ground while the trees remain dormant. They rest during the winter (doing something important, I’m sure). Then in the spring, the trees come to life again. They bloom and then make leaves and provide shade for the hot summer months. Then as it cools off, the leaves fall off again and the cycle continues. Who tells them to do this? WOW! I can see God’s hand in this – (especially after learning more about what is really happening inside a leaf).

All of this beauty shouts- GOD IS AMAZING! GOD IS CREATIVE! GOD IS POWERFUL! Look up and praise Him for the works of His hands!

God, You are amazing, powerful, and creative. I stand in awe of all that You have created in this world. I stand in awe because Someone so great still knows me and loves me. Thank you.

The heavens declare the glory of God and the earth shows His handiwork. Psalm 19:1

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Living Life on Purpose

First I want to say thank you to the many calls and cards and expressions of sympathy we received after the death of Richard's youngest brother, Brian. We were totally shocked to get the phone call that he had died of a massive heart attack. We left Nashville immediately to be with the family in Huntsville - about two hours away. It's unbelievable how quickly life can change!

I had just finished reading the book, One Month to Live by Kerry and Chris Shook, just the week before we heard about Brian. It was a challenge to live your life - doing the things that you would do if you knew that you only had one month to live. Things like genuinely loving others and building into their lives, forgiving others and not holding on to petty disagreements, saying things that you would want those closest to you to know, and basically loving God with all your heart.

Of course, the truth is that none of us know how long we have to live, so I vowed to do some things.

Keep my house cleaner. I know this seems trivial (and it is) but we left immediately and later I thought, "I'd hate someone to have to come in and clean it." Maybe I got this from my mom who would never leave on a vacation without the house being spotless, but sometimes I leave stuff laying around when it would only take a minute or two more to put it away.

Tell people you love them every time you talk to or see them. Mostly, I do this, but it's important to say the words that build others up rather than thinking that they know how you feel already. You never know when it might be the last time.

Slow down and enjoy each day. Sometimes I feel as if I rush through life to the next "have to" event. My schedule is not always determined by what I would like to be doing but by what's on the schedule. I know that is how life is, but I want to live more intentionally and in the present.

Write down your wishes. I have planned my own funeral. (I told Richard and the kids to buy the cheapest casket in the place as know they will hate to do that. A cheap pine box would be good for me as I'm not really there and don't want to waste good money! But I digress!) I want to write a letter to each person in my family so they will know my thoughts and last words to them.

We had just been at Brian's church the weekend before and he preached with such passion. He was a generous, caring person who loved God. I hope I leave a similar legacy. Please pray for his wife, Debbi and their three adult children - Brooke, Brandon, and Bethany.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


I recently attended a seminar for church planter’s wives by Tricia Lovejoy and she talked about her personal struggle with devoting the energy needed to start a church and guarding their marriage. If we’re not careful we can just become “partners in ministry” instead of lovers. This is definitely easier said than done…but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

How do we go about it? (Here are some ideas she shared.)

Set limits on work time. Are you still on the Blackberry while you’re eating dinner – if you’re eating dinner together? There is ALWAYS one more thing we could do – we have to set limits.

Create outside interests to do together
. I know you’re thinking, “we don’t have time to add one more thing to our busy schedules.” Sometimes wearing a different “hat” can add fun and a much-needed break. Things as simple as taking a walk, playing a game, or fishing can build more closeness in a relationship.

Establish a family night and guard it with your life.
You mean Sister Mabel’s hangnail is not a true emergency?!!! Put the family night on the calendar and both commit to keeping it. Having it the same night each week establishes its importance and it becomes something to anticipate.

Limit the number of nights away from home.
If we’re not careful, we can become like ships passing in the night. There is NO way to build a good marriage if you don’t even see each other. It may mean getting creative with meetings and appointments, but it’s worth it.

Make time with friends.
Women need girl friends – to laugh, shop, and eat. (three of my favorite things!) Take time also to do fun things as a couple with other couples.

Tricia said, “The healthiest thing you can give your church is a healthy marriage.” A marriage is never an island to itself; many people are affected by the failure or success of a marriage. We must protect our marriages from the things that could tear it apart.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Critical people

I could see it in her face and in the way she walked as she approached me - I was about to get it! Dear Ms. So and So had a complaint - she didn't like the way the kids got out of Sunday school early or she thought the music was too loud last week or she was surprised to find no bulletin this week. It was always something...

Maybe she's joined your church now... how do you handle criticism from people?

First, I would consider the source. It's important to understand who is doing the criticizing. Is this a person who is always criticizing or someone who rarely does?
I would treat what is said differently. If a chronic criticizer (CC for short) approaches me, I brace myself and take what she says with a grain of salt and try to let it roll off my back. Most CC's have their own problems and won't be happy anywhere. I listen and go on my way. I try not to take it personally. Saying a prayer for her couldn't hurt either.

Is this a person who is involved or someone who is an armchair quarterback? If this is someone who sits on the sidelines and criticizes the rest of us trying to do our best, I gently (and with one of my fake smiles) suggest that she get involved in being part of the solution. If she's complaining about the children running around the church, I suggest she think of a solution - maybe she could gather them together for a small snack between services, etc.

I've also used a similar tactic when people come to me complaining/feigning concern about other people. I immediately ask them, "I'm sure they need your prayers. Are you willing to commit to praying for them every day for the next month?" That usually shuts them up and I suggest that we pray together right then for that person.

CC's can wear you down if you let them (and believe me, it's hard not to). Limiting our time with them (besides not going to church) is wise.

CC's create a weariness that can make serving the Lord a chore. (If you can never do it right, why bother to try?!)

Oswald Chambers said,
"Our Lord's first obedience was to the will of His Father, not to the needs of men: His obedience brought the outcome of the saving of men. If I am devoted to the cause of humanity only, I will soon be exhausted and will soon come to the place where my love will falter; but if I love Jesus personally and passionately, I can serve humanity though men treat me as a doormat."

I find I can deal with people better when I'm closely walking with God. If I'm trying to do what He thinks is important (and this comes by spending time with Him to hear that), then I can deal with criticism better. (In my mind, I think, "I'm doing what God wants and if you don't like it, you can lump it! - does this show I have a long way to go?)

If we are doing what we are doing for HIM, then what others think will matter less. I've told myself this when I've done something for people and they didn't even say thank you. Ultimately, it is God we are trying to please; He sees and will reward accordingly.

Having said that, what if the criticism comes from someone I consider a godly person? Then I feel grateful - grateful that they felt close enough to confide their true feelings to me (people rarely do- they talk to other people behind your back). There is a kernel of truth in most of what is said. I can grow (and can help my church grow) if I can find that truth and see if there needs to be change.

Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.
(Proverbs 15:4 The Message)

Again, I would love to hear your stories or comments about how you deal with criticism.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Virtual/real relationships

Richard just recently joined Facebook so he and I were talking last night about whether more men or more women were on it and who spent the most time there. Today I got a email from Jennifer Rothschild ( with the following paragraphs by Amy Lively in it.

"The women in your neighborhood are likely to spend five hours and 24 minutes each month following their Facebook friends.

Facebook has replaced face-to-face, heart-to-heart conversations. We tweet instead of talk. Our electronic disconnect means we're "friends" without being friendly. Our status updates are witty and cute, with pictures of our darling children and amazing vacations. It's entirely possible to have an impossibly long list of virtual friends, yet there's no one to look into your eyes and see your pain, your sorrow or your joy. Women are starved for personal attention, meaningful relationships and purposeful lives.

Your neighborhood is a convenient, comfortable and non-threatening place to invite women into relationship with you, take them by the hand, and walk with them to the
throne of grace where they can meet their Savior.

Do you know your neighbors?

* How many of your neighbors could you greet by name?
* When was the last time you shared a meal with a neighbor?
* How do you serve your neighbors?
* If you needed help, could you call a neighbor?
* Do your neighbors call you when they need a stick of butter?
* What is your next door neighbor's most pressing need?

No detailed demographic studies are needed for your own neighborhood: inside every home are women who are hurting and hungering for the Lord. Their common need is to know Christ, and their common denominator is they live near you, a woman with a passion for loving them like Jesus."

Now, I certainly don't think it's wrong to spend time on Facebook, but her challenge stirred my thinking....

How well do I know my neighbors? Am I intentionally building relationships with them? Immediately I thought of some excuses....

First, I tend to think that my neighbors are too busy - too (fill in the blank) to desire a relationship with me. Even though I am busy, I need meaningful relationships with other women - so I guess this is not a good excuse.

Second, the fear of rejection is huge! What if I knock on their door and invite them over and they say, "Not interested!" That would be a big blow to my shaky self-esteem.

Third, how do you go about this? I taught a Bible study in my home many years ago for neighborhood women in another state, but haven't done it here. Now it seems that everyone pulls up to their house, opens their garage door- from the car, and cocoons inside. If you have any ideas on making/building friendships with neighbors, please leave a post with your idea.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Powerful prayers

Do you find it as hard I as do to find the balance between supporting your adult children and letting them make their own choices? (Wouldn't it be great if we could continue making choices for them?)

My youngest son, Justin, gave me the book, The Power of Praying for Your Adult Children, by Stormie Omartian for Christmas. I have used her other books in my personal prayer time and found them to be very helpful. (She combines Bible verses into a prayer.) Stormie says that there is no such thing as perfect parents, but we can be powerful pray-ers when we combine praying and God's Word.

Here are some of the chapter headings---

Pray that your adult children will:
see God pour out His Spirit on them
develop a heart for God, His Word, and His ways
grow in wisdom, discernment, and revelation
understand God's purpose for their lives
have a sound mind and right attitude
maintain strong and fulfilling relationships
be protected and survive tough times

These (and more) are all things I want for my adult children! Knowing that God is far more capable of handling whatever comes their way and inviting Him to work in their lives helps me to stay sane. Praying these prayers gives me confidence and hope that God will do amazing things in my children's lives this year.

Richard and I with our four children- Nathan, Jared, Rachel, Justin

We added a new member to our family this past June, Rachel, Nathan's wife