Reach Out & Touch Someone

“You know what’s different about volleyball from basketball?” our 13-year-old daughter asked after practice the other day. “All the touching!”

Apparently, this team is very intentional about encouraging and supporting one another. After every mistake: every missed serve, wild pass, flubbed set or blocked spike, the entire team surrounds their teammate with a flurry of high-fives, shoulder pats and side hugs. The gym is filled with cheering as the girls encourage their teammate to “shake it off,” “you’ve got this,” & “keep going.”

Lady Rams 7th grade Volleyball

Lady Rams 7th grade Volleyball

Our daughter normally plays basketball, so this volleyball phenomenon is new to her. On the basketball team, when someone makes a mistake, there’s just no time for intentional encouragement. The team might huddle up during a timeout or give a high-five during a free-throw, but for the most part the support comes from the coach while the rest of the team scrambles to make up for the mistake.

As I watched the volleyball team surround my non-touchy daughter with touchy-feely love, I couldn’t help but compare it to ministry. As a pastor’s wife part of my role is to encourage and support people who are trying to live their lives for Christ. But when I see people make a mistake or stumble in their walk I have a tendency to just give a quick shout of encouragement while I scramble to cover for them.

But what if I took a cue from the volleyball team? What if I stopped what I was doing and became more intentional in my encouragement? What if I took time to give a hug, be a listening ear, or offer a word of encouragement along with the gift of my time?

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone drops the ball from time to time. But we’re still all on the same team.

LORD, help me to see the importance of intentional encouragement. Open my eyes to opportunities to build someone up even in the midst of the busyness of life. Help me never be too busy to reach out and touch someone in need. I know our team will be much stronger for it!

The Grass Is Not Greener

Oh to be the pastor’s wife of a big church! I imagine that would be so grand! There would always be plenty of money and resources to do everything we dream of doing. We would always have plenty of volunteers to keep the ministry going. And having staff would certainly make our lives easy and our burdens light!

I shared my imaginings with my friend Tiffany whose husband pastors a church of thousands in Oklahoma, and she had a good laugh.

Others may have looked upon my life with envious thoughts:

Oh to be the pastor’s wife of a small church! I imagine that it’s so much easier living in a small town with a slower pace and fewer people. We would have so much more free time without all those people and projects that big churches have. Oh how nice it would be to just do the ministry yourself without having to go through the red tape of staff and board meetings. Wouldn’t that be the life?

As someone who has served in small churches my whole life, that was quite the comic relief!

That’s how it goes, though. We look at the struggles in our own lives and we long for the life that someone else seems to be living. We imagine how much better our lives would be if things were different. The grass on the other side of the fence looks so much greener than our own. We compare and complain and long for something just out of reach, but even when we figure out how to hop that fence, it’s still not what we were hoping for.

I used to wish that God would call us to serve Him at a large church with modern facilities in a big metropolis. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?! But time after time He has moved us to serve in small churches with more traditional buildings in rural communities. As my discontentment and disappointment grew, God used the Jenny Allen Bible study “Stuck” to finally get my attention. She pointed out that God is the author of my story. He is the one calling the shots and directing my path. And when I complain about my situation or long for something other than the life He has given me, I am actually questioning His wisdom, power & love!

What?! I would never do that! God is God and I am not! Jesus loves me this I know! I am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N! I would never claim to know better than God! Well, except for when He doesn’t lead me in the direction I wish my life would go…and when I don’t like the life He has given me…or when someone else’s life seems so much better than mine. Oh. Sorry, God.

“Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow…” (Mt 6:28)

buttercup

God plants the dainty flowers in the field and the giant oak trees in the forest. He plants the tall grass on the prairie and the palm tree on the beach. And each of those creations blooms and grows and praises Him right where He has planted them. They know that their Father made them for  a specific purpose. He cares for them and knows what is best. He is God, and they trust Him.

That’s how we should live the life God has given us. Rest in the fact that God has made you and given you a specific purpose. He cares for you and has planted you right where you are for a reason. He is God, the Author of your story. So whether you’re a giant oak in a mighty forest with lots of resources and staff…or you’re a tiny daisy standing alone in the middle of a small town… stop looking over the fence at someone else’s grass, and start blooming where you’ve been planted!

 

If you were the author of your own story, how would your life be different than it is now? How can you embrace God’s specific calling on your life and bloom where He has planted you today?

Superman or Wonder Woman?

There’s this awesome little roadside attraction my family and I found on one of our road trips. If you ever get a chance to visit Metropolis, Illinois, you definitely need to stop and take a picture with this guy!

Living dangerously...

Living dangerously…

Boy! If this guy was real it would sure be an intimidating sight! It reminds me of that verse that says “If God is for us, who can be against us?” In my mind I sorta picture God like that big Superman standing behind me. His power and might are mind-blowing! I feel strong and invincible when I know that God is standing right there with me!

Too often, though, I want to be known as the strong one. I want to put on the cape and take on the world in my own strength. I want people to be impressed by my abilities and in awe of my power… but what they eventually see is that I’m just pretending to have it all figured out. I’m like those people the Bible talks about who are “having a form of godliness but denying its power.” The fake becomes obvious and the reality of my weakness is laughable.

Wait...is that... Wonder Woman?

Wait…is that… Wonder Woman?

But God promises that His strength is made perfect in my weakness. When I step out from behind the mask, others are able to see God’s strength at work through me. Instead of people being impressed with my fragile ability, they are in awe of His mighty power! When I am weak, then I am strong. I am no longer trying to fake my way into making people think I’m wonder woman. Instead I’m standing firm in my weakness knowing that the ultimate Super Man is standing with me!

2-2-14

Have you ever tried to be a wonder woman? How can you take off the mask and let His strength take over for your weakness today?

Not What I Expected

We were traveling one day and decided to stop for a sweet treat mid-way through the drive. As we sat in the drive-thru lane on a hot summer day the girls were thrilled to hear me order Frosty’s for everyone! What we got, however, was not what we expected.

These frosty’s were so small that I let the girls go ahead and eat them before they ate their lunch… I figured it wouldn’t likely spoil their appetite… 🙂

 

Trying to have a good attitude about the world's smallest frosty

Trying to have a good attitude about the world’s smallest frosty

It's not working

It’s not working

When I was a senior in high school we had to share our future plans. I boldly told my entire school, family, and basically anyone who would listen, that my plans were to graduate from college in 4 years and return to my alma mater to teach high school math and coach girls basketball. I saw my high school principal a couple of months ago and he asked me when I was coming back to teach & coach in North Carolina… Well… that was 20 years ago. Today I’m a pastor’s wife serving God in my church in western Kentucky…guess things didn’t turn out exactly like I expected, huh?

Sometimes our expectations lead to disappointment. We expect to get married & have kids, we expect that everyone will love and respect us when we step into the role of pastor’s wife, we expect to receive more than a shot glass amount of delicious frosty when ordering the value size… We have our own ideas and plans and assumptions about how things will be, but when things don’t turn out like we expect, we may find ourselves disappointed, frustrated, and even disgusted with the results. Often, however, God has something much better in store than our own plans.

 

I know if I had been one of Jesus’ disciples walking around with him day after day, watching him heal the sick, feed the poor, and raise the dead, I certainly would not have been expecting things to end the way they did. I would have expected someone with such spiritual wisdom to be loved by everyone- especially religious leaders. I would have expected someone who could heal the sick and feed the poor to become king- or at least a powerful leader. I would have expected that the One who raised the dead would refuse to die…

Jesus’ death on the cross was not what was expected- but it was definitely what was needed!

good_friday_wallpaper

Thank You, LORD, for going beyond my expectations and giving me something even better! (But if you could make my Frosty a little bigger next time, that would be great, too!) 🙂