I must admit I’m not good at sending cards anymore. However, I am reminded of the importance of cards during my recent birthday. I got several cards for the first time in years and it really blessed me.
A card says:
I’m thinking about you
I care about you
I wish you well
I love you
It’s a simple card and I think many people quit buying them because they have become expensive over the years. But you can buy them for $.50 at the Dollar Store. They don’t have to be high quality cards and honestly who cares if they are or not. This is the one thing that truly has meaning left in this world that cannot be misunderstood.
Think about the last time you received a card and how it made you feel.
I started thinking about all the cards I’ve received over the years and a few came to mind. My dad got me a huge Valentine card one year when I was a little girl. I kept it and I’ve kept several over the years. I have cards my parents gave or sent me that are precious to me now since they are both deceased. Since letters are no longer a thing, a card is a simple way of sending love.
Did you know that sending love is like being generous?
And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Your love has given me much joy and comfort for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people. Philemon 1:6-7
Putting into action the generosity that spurs love prepares our hearts to receive all God’s goodness. And refreshing the hearts of people by letting them know they are important is God’s simple work of love.
My sister-in-law is the absolute best at sending cards. Tonya has not missed one of my birthdays since I’ve been a part of the family. One year, her card was the only card I received in the mail. That may sound sad, but honestly it was so uplifting that she thought of me and went to the trouble of buying and mailing me a card. You never know how sending a card will bless someone and it will actually cost you more in love and time than it will in money.
So after reflecting on the importance of cards, I am going to try and send more cards this year.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place is an early 20th century saying described as faced with two equally dangerous or difficult choices or circumstances. It also means:
between a rock and a hard place
Do you ever find yourself in a situation like one of those above?
Sometimes it seems there is no good choice, and we feel stuck. Maybe it’s a situation, maybe it’s a season in life, maybe it’s a health decision. Whatever it is, you feel stuck and don’t know which way to turn.
May I suggest, turn to God.
He knows the way forward in your predicament, situation, season of life, or no-win situation.
He knows best path forward when it’s dark and you can’t see which way to go.
Consider the role of Pilate in Jesus’ crucifixion. Pilate knew Jesus was innocent and that religious leaders were falsely accusing him. The crowd wanted to kill Jesus. Pilates wife had a terrible nightmare and sent word to her husband to leave this innocent man alone. The pressure was building from the crowd and Pilate decided to hand Jesus over to be crucified. Pilate washed his hands as a symbol of his innocence. But you and I both know God held him accountable. So next time you feel stuck, your inaction speaks of your intention as well as any action you would take on the matter.
What about Peter and Judas?
Was Peter stuck when we he found himself in a life-threatening situation? Yes, he sure was and he found himself denying that he knew Jesus three times. He was scared that they would take him too and do harm to him like they were intending to do to Jesus. Peter found himself in a predicament, quandary, or tight situation. He didn’t know what to do to protect himself other than deny Christ (which is something he swore he would never do). Peter realized his sin immediately and felt sorrow that led to repentance. God forgave Peter and used him for His Kingdom.
Was Judas in a predicament? He never gave his heart to Jesus. He followed him for three years and watched him perform miracle after miracle yet did not fully believe. Judas gave up Jesus with a kiss and watched the soldiers take him away. Maybe he thought Jesus would defend himself and rise to power since he was a King or maybe he thought Jesus wouldn’t go willingly and save himself. I don’t know, but I do know that Judas felt remorse and tried to confess his sin to priests who didn’t care about him and found himself in a quandary of feeling hopeless to the point of taking his own life. Sadly, Judas did not feel sorrow that led to repentance.
If you are feeling stuck with a major decision or situation, let me encourage you to take that first step toward God. God will meet you there…He’s there waiting for you.
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
On my walk this morning sunflowers caught my eye. I noticed that some of them were facing the sun and others were not.
Before noticing the sunflowers, I had been talking to God and praying for people I know and love and others I don’t know who do not have a relationship with Jesus. I was feeling so sad thinking about it that I literally started crying.
I must be honest, it’s been a while since I felt so tender and heartbroken over lost souls. I found myself crying out to God and at that moment, a trash truck passed by. As it passed, the smell was awful and made me cringe and turn away. I felt God speak as if to say, “This is what sin smells like to me and I have to turn my head away because it sickens me to see what sin does to people and how it separates me from the ones I love.”
Sin separates and if you think you are without sin, you are wrong. Every single one of us has sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23). The difference is having repented of your sins. God wants to forgive us, but first we must see the need to be forgiven and ask. We are all slaves to that which we obey. You may choose sin which leads to death or obedience which leads to righteousness (Romans 6:16).
The Bible also tells us the following in Romans 10:9-10, 13 If we confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in our heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
You may ask where does God say confessing of sin is a requirement for salvation? It is all throughout the Bible from the very beginning starting in Genesis with Adam and Eve. People have always had a sin problem and it is the very reason Jesus came to earth and suffered death for us. Luke 5 tells us the Pharisees and their scribes were upset that Jesus was eating with sinners and complained to the disciples. Jesus said to them, “The healthy don’t need a doctor, but the sick do. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners into repentance.” He came to call sinners into repentance.
I did a little search on why some sunflowers face the sun and others do not. It turns out that mature sunflowers do not move with the sun throughout the day, they react more strongly to the morning sunlight and then throughout the day they face east. I believe mature Christians are much like sunflowers as we seek God in the morning and then wait expectantly for Jesus. And if you know anything about Christianity, you know our Lord Jesus will return from the east and so believers and sunflowers alike will wait.
While waiting, let us pray and not forget what it’s like to be a seeker sunflower and pray for all to come into a relationship with God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
There is great joy in the presence of God’s angels over one sinner who repents. Luke 15:10
I am excited to announce my first book Spiritual Makeup Bag is now available!
I wrote this book for busy women who struggle to find time with God each day before engaging with the world.
Spiritual Makeup Bag will give you tools to help you connect with God while getting ready and putting on your makeup. You will reflect on why you wear makeup and learn about two Old Testament women who wore makeup. These two women used this ordinary task for two vastly different purposes. One was motivated to honor God and the other was motivated to promote herself.
I can tell you from experience that my day goes much better when I first spend time with God. So how about some spiritual tools to help you get started? Guess what? They are right in your makeup bag.
Don’t try to make yourselves beautiful on the outside, with stylish hair or by wearing gold jewelry or fine clothes. Instead, make yourselves beautiful on the inside, in your hearts, with the enduring quality of a gentle, peaceful spirit. This type of beauty is very precious in God’s eyes. 1 Peter 3:3-4 CEB
Steadfast can be defined as firmly fixed in place, immovable, not subject to change, unwavering, firm in purpose and faith.
The Bible says, You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you. Isaiah 26:3, NIV
Isaiah 26:3, is my very favorite scripture of all time. It was the scripture I held onto when my mom was dying, when my son was struggling in school, and many other seasons of grief and uncertainty.
And this season is no different.
I have a feeling you can relate. Let me ask you something that I ask myself.
Do you trust God enough?
Do you trust Him enough for today?
Do you trust Him enough for tomorrow?
During this season of social distancing, are we trusting God?
Like many of you, I’m missing my family and friends. I am an Ambivert and because of that, I enjoy time alone and time with people. However, whether you are an Introvert, Extrovert or Ambivert, we are all created for relationships. So I’m guessing everyone is yearning to see their people right now.
I want to encourage you to remain steadfast in trusting the Lord during this season of uncertainty. He has gone before us in this matter and knows what is on the other side. He is trustworthy and we can trust Him.
I also want to remind you that God yearns to be with us. Like I mentioned, He created us for relationship and not just for each other, but also with Him. It’s a beautiful thing to think that God wants to be with us and it’s absolutely true!
Keep your mind steadfast by reading your Bible, praying, reading your devotional, watching church online and singing songs of praise to God. Spend time with your Creator daily. I’ve found when I do these things, my heart is full and I’m able to trust God for the very day He’s given me. He doesn’t want us to worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34.
Trust Him and trust in Him today and I promise you will be blessed with a peace that only comes from God.
Let us pray…God, create a clean heart for me and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Psalm 51:10
Have you ever considered the power of influence or ever thought about how much influence you have over people?
While researching a few women in the Bible, I noticed the amount of influence they had on the people around them, particularly their husband and community. Here’s one example I found in 1 Kings regarding Jezebel.
No one else so completely sold himself to what was evil in the Lord’s sight as Ahab did under the influence of his wife Jezebel. His worst outrage was worshipping idols just as the Amorites had done-the people whom the Lord had driven out from the land ahead of the Israelites. 1 Kings 21:25-26 NLT
Other translations read; urged on by his wife (NIV), pushed by his wife (The Message), his wife incited him (ESV/NASB/HCSB).
Jezebel influenced her husband into idol worship. I think Ahab knew better but allowed his wife to influence him. He should have seen it coming since Jezebel was all about Baal worship, the false god that her father worshipped. However, King Ahab allowed the influence of his wife and devoted himself to do what was evil in the Lord’s sight. Later in 1 Kings 21:29, we see Ahab humble himself before God in true repentance.
Have you ever noticed that influencing begins in small forms and increases? You are either heading toward God with a godly influence or heading away from God with a worldly influence. Because the direction of the influence is a gradual process, you could be in way over your head before you realize it and heading in the wrong direction. Attitudes and addictions don’t happen overnight, it’s a process.
I recall a time in my life when I did not follow God. I followed the ways of this world and suffered the consequences of my bad decisions. Amazingly, God provided more grace than I deserved during that time since I made all my decisions based on worldly influences around me. I had accepted Christ as a teenager, but had gone my own way in my 20’s. Looking back, I can see where I suppressed the Holy Spirit and chose not to follow God.
This broke my mother’s heart. I found out after her death that she and my sister prayed for me during those years and I had no idea. Prayer is such a powerful tool so be encouraged to continue praying for those who need God in their lives.
I came back to God after 25 years and now my decisions are based on God’s leading and his Word. If you are a Christ follower, then you understand that we are here to further God’s kingdom and to be influencers for Christ.
Consider these three things with me regarding influence:
1. We have a great amount of influence. Influence over our households, children, work, church, and community. We need to be careful how we use our influence.
2. We are always influencing someone. Jezebel not only influenced her husband into idol worship she also raised a daughter, Athaliah, to be just like her.
3. Becoming a godly person is a process of allowing God to influence us. That’s why it’s so important to read your Bible and spend time with God daily so He can influence you and in turn you can influence others for God.
Spending time with God in the morning to start your day will have great influence on you for the rest of your day…and life.
In the morning Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I please my case to you and watch expectantly. Psalm 5:3
I am so excited!! We made a commitment to join as members of Blue Mound United Methodist Church on Sunday, November 19, 2017.
We’ve been seeking a new church to call home and we finally found it. Funny thing is, we actually found it a year ago and didn’t know it. A year ago, I was still employed at another Methodist church where we were active members. However, we attended a wedding at this quaint little church last October and fell in love with it then. When my employment ended earlier this year, we started seeking and visiting churches. There are many good churches out there, but it’s sort of like looking for a home and you know it when you find it. Our new church reminds us of a small church we once attended.
Now keep in mind I’m not one of those who loves only small churches. There are many benefits to small churches. However, I love all that comes with a growing church. It’s very exciting to see a church congregation grow and to see people use their spiritual gifts and talents to further God’s work and kingdom.
In today’s reading of God’s Word, I came across 1 Corinthians 9:1-27. There were a few verses that really jumped off the page to me such as verse 14, In the same way, the Lord ordered that those who preach the Good News should be supported by those who benefit from it. Let me ask you something. Are you supporting your Pastor? I know for a fact that the congregation I just joined is doing so. They completely love him and will make sure that he and his family are taken care of. How do I know this? I can tell by the way he preaches. In verses 16-19, Paul explains that preaching is not something he can boast about, he is compelled to do it, and says how terrible of him if he doesn’t. Paul goes on to say that even though he is a free man, he has become a slave to all people to bring many to Christ.
My new pastor has the heart of a preacher like Paul. I barely know him. But what I do know after having a meal with him, having coffee with him, hearing him preach a dozen or so times, is that he is called to share and preach Jesus Christ and does so beautifully. I am praying for his zeal to continue to share the gospel each week and for many to come into a relationship with Jesus Christ.
I’m super excited to see what God does in this little congregation as I’m expecting an abundance of unprecedented growth. I believe it to be true that wherever Jesus is preached, people will come, and the church will receive more.
This message is not new.
People are drawn to the gospel.
They come to church seeking.
There’s nothing more powerful and life-changing than the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
All are welcome to join us Sunday mornings at 10:45am.
I do everything I can to spread the Good News and share in it’s blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:23
My husband’s grandpa served as pastor for approximately 45 years. Grandpa Thomas knew adversity and had overcome several obstacles during his life. He was a strong yet tender man and he had a saying that I remember him saying several times; “church work is the hardest work”.
I didn’t understand what he meant at that time, but I certainly do now. You see I worked on church staff for six years as the Director of Congregational Care and Adult Discipleship in the Methodist Church. I came on staff after being a member of my church for five years. I don’t have a seminary degree, I just have a heart to serve Jesus. I’ve led Bible studies for many years and do my best to be a faithful and obedient servant and apply the Word of God. I have a wonderful husband and family and they support me in whatever I want to do and wherever God is calling me.
I have contemplated and prayed carefully over this post. I have sought God to be sure this honors Him. The purpose of this writing is to help others who either work in the church or care about the behind-the-scenes activities in the church.
I want to express love and respect for those I served and those I served with on staff. I believe there are many who are serving on church staff who feel isolated and alone on their journey. My hope is this will help those who are currently working in the church to feel understood. I also hope that this will help those who love the church and want to support their church staff.
From my experience on staff, I found that not many are willing to publicly share their journey of working on staff in the church. It seems taboo to speak of the happenings inside the church and quite frankly, I’ve heard church members express that they don’t want to know what is going on behind the Sunday morning experience. They don’t want to know the politics of running a church or the business aspect of making it happen from week to week. Some don’t want it to interrupt their spiritual experience. If that’s the case, don’t read this post and I completely love you anyway.
This is primarily written for the men and women who show up and do the work of a church staff person. They are not ordained or appointed ministers. They are quiet servants who may or may not have their pictures published in the church bulletin, newsletter, or website. However, they are the ones who make the work of the church happen. They care, they pray, they tithe to their workplace, they live ministry every day and often feel no one cares, no one sees, and no one notices. They know that ultimately, they do the work for God. This gives them fuel for a while.
One day they start to realize they are tired and their energy is depleted and they start to wonder if it’s all worth it.
They want to continue but they are tired.
This is where I found myself.
And there’s a name for it…ministry burnout.
My journal entry dated February 1, 2017 ~
I am thinking about leaving the church. No, not the church in general, but the church staff position in which I serve.
I have had it.
I am burned out.
I am done.
I have given nearly six years of my life and it feels like 60.
So, what happened to the excitement and passion I felt at the beginning of this journey? Let’s go back and see how it began.
~ The Beginning ~
I started working in the United Methodist Church as Congregational Care Coordinator. I remember so vividly the excitement of my first Sunday on staff and thinking how cool it was to get paid to love on these people. I even told those closest to me, “I get to talk to people for four to five hours on Sunday morning and someone pays me to do this.” I thought, what gives? This is awesome! I love listening to people, caring for them, and hearing about what is going on in their lives. This is the greatest job ever!!
~ One month later ~
I was asked to take on the role of Adult Discipleship. You know how it goes when a church staff person leaves and someone must fill the job because there isn’t enough money to hire someone specifically for that role. I said “yes” with one condition, that I would not allow myself to become so overworked that I would neglect myself spiritually or physically. I saw what happened to other staff persons. I recall very specifically persons who did not take care of themselves as they worked themselves to death caring for others. I did not want that to happen to me so I expressed that I would not neglect these areas of my life. I did not feel God was calling me to be a martyr in this way.
Now as I look back, I see such wisdom in those words.
If only I would have applied them.
~ Over the years ~
I don’t know many times I sat with loved ones who were grieving.
I don’t know how many funerals I organized/attended.
I don’t know how many people I helped in the way of benevolence.
I don’t know how many Bible studies/classes I led.
I don’t know how many people were affected by the ministries entrusted to me.
What I do know is that I found myself right here in this place of being completely done.
Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
~ 2017 ~
I want to share my journal with you to show you some of the crazy roller coaster of emotions I was dealing with in trying to make it work. One minute I was thinking I can do this and felt inspired and the next minute, I felt defeated and done. During this time, I was praying, spending time with God, reading my Bible, and meeting with a prayer partner.
My journal entry dated January 1, 2017
I reposted something from Facebook today that resonated with how I am feeling. Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Isaiah 43:19
My journal entry dated February 6, 2017
Today, I feel like…I can persevere through this tough season. I am just so overwhelmed with leading three classes and having trust issues with certain people. I find myself thinking that change is coming.
My journal entry dated February 12, 2017
This Sunday morning before going to work, I had a conversation with my father-in-law and told him that I may be experiencing ministry burnout. He is a very wise man who loves God and the church. He told me that if my joy is gone, then it’s time to leave. He is right and so I’m praying and asking God if my joy is gone to the point of being time for me to leave. This is where I will spend time seeking God and see where it leads.
~ The Rest of the Story ~
I’ve been praying and seeking God about what to do. After a time, away with some of the staff at a conference, it is becoming clearer to me. I feel a pull toward leaving. One staff person gave me permission to do what is best for me. In some ways, this is liberating.
A few weeks later as a new organizational chart is being put in place. I want to say “yes” and I try to say “yes” but as soon as I do, I feel sick to my stomach.
The Holy Spirit is telling me “no”.
I don’t want it to be no, so I thought I’ll just “fake it till I make it”.
It didn’t happen.
My yes on Friday turned into a no on Monday. A few things that spoke to me during that time; God’s Word in Matthew 5:37, But let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’, a daily inspirational message, my devotional, and wonderful Christian friends.
A friend reminded me that my calling is bigger than any workplace. My calling comes from God and He will use me no matter where I go. This was a good reminder and one that I knew, but it takes good friends to remind us during these times. The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9
I gave my notice and it was not really received that day, but I had settled the matter with God and in my heart. After a few more days, it became official and my last day was March 31, 2017.
Some of the things I learned along the way was just how much God was moving and acting on my behalf. A series of events took place in order for me to leave and there is not one person to blame for my leaving. Honestly, I was just stubborn and didn’t want to leave. I loved the congregation and I loved my job, but I was tired and it was time. I recall thinking about those stubborn Israelites who didn’t want to move when God said move and I was no different. The staff and congregation were wonderful to me and gave me a very nice good-bye.
In looking back, I have often thought about what I could have done to prevent burnout. Here’s my list of recommendations:
Take a sabbatical.
I believe taking a sabbatical would have made a huge difference for me. If you are in a position of caring for people, it doesn’t matter if you are ordained in ministry or not, you must take time to be away and rest. Even Jesus did this and we read about it in Mark 6. Jesus had to get away in the boat to a remote place and rest.
Don’t say “yes” to everything.
I could have said no and kept better boundaries. Responsibilities in the church can multiply especially when members/volunteers come and go. The ministries continue and often staff is expected to continue what a member/volunteer started.
Take your days off.
Don’t work on your days off unless it’s an emergency. Put an on-call schedule in place and really take your day(s) off. Unplug and don’t check your email on your phone on your days off. This is hard because our smartphones are killing us by the way we can never unplug. We are meant to unplug.
God, Family, Work.
This was meant to be the priority for all and even for those who work in the church. We preach it to people and church staff are the first ones to break the rule. If you see your family life start to suffer, take steps to change it right away. For me working too many evenings and weekends took too much time away from my family. They never complained, but I can see where they made sacrifices over the years. Keep the priority of God, Family, Work. I know God didn’t call me to sacrifice my family, if anything, it’s my first ministry above any other ministry entrusted to me.
Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3
Some of you my fear losing your job if you put some of the above recommendations in place. Let me remind you what Proverbs 29:25 says, Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting in the LORD means safety.
Looking back I can see the hand of God moving me to a place of rest and I’m grateful that I am able to rest. I miss the people I served but I love how God is moving and stirring. In some ways, God has brought me full circle and if I had not had this experience on staff, I would have missed it.
My calling has not changed, just the vehicle in which it happens. I am called to help people move from a place of religion and tradition to a relationship with Jesus Christ. I have a special place in my heart to help women in their relationship with Jesus so I am going back to work on the book I started, Spiritual Makeup Bag, Beauty from the Inside Out. Who knows where it will go or if it will go anywhere. The only thing I do know is that I feel God calling me back to this book project of helping women find time each day with Him and learn how to care for their soul while caring for their skin and applying makeup.
Jesus said in John 10:10b, I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance. Jesus came to give us life and not just life eternal, but abundant life here on earth. We are meant to thrive! Thrive is the word God has given me for this time in my life and it is exactly what I plan to do in this next season.
I’m praying you will thrive too!
This post is being released on August 9, 2017 in honor of Reverend Doyle “Bob” R. Thomas who gave his life to church work. Bob was born on August 9, 1923 and entered into rest on October 1, 2000. His last sermon was based on Isaiah 41:10, Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.
He came that beautiful night in the form of a babe;
He lives today in the hearts that obey.
He knows your name and every little thought;
He loves you in a way that cannot be bought.
This gift of grace and love that lingers
Came wrapped in cloth with tiny fingers.
His presence that night brought far away men—
What a story it is and a way to begin!
It doesn’t stop there; it goes on, you see,
For Christ came and died just for you and me.
May your eyes be open to see the wondrous love
Of the Savior who was sent from heaven above.
May your ears be in tune to the beautiful sound
Of the voice of the Savior whose love abounds.
May your hearts receive hope that your Healer is here;
He has never left you and His presence is near.
May you know you are loved beyond any measure,
For Christ came that night because you are His treasure.
Good news and great joy, as the angels proclaimed,
The birth of the Christ child, in a manger he laid.
My hope and my prayer for you on this day—
May you see God’s love in a whole new way.
For the angel said to them, “Don’t’ be afraid, for look I proclaim to you the good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today a Savior, who is Messiah the Lord, was born for you in the city of David”. Luke 2:10-11