Adoption, family, God, Kingdom, My Story

Life Update July 2021…What’s been going on?

Wow, well… it’s been a while. A LOT  has happened since my last post. So much so, that I just had to put writing on hold for a while. Even now, I can’t guarantee that I’ll be able to get back to the consistent schedule I had before, but I do value having this space to write and share my life and thoughts. So, here’s the update!

After my February post about our adoption needs, we were so blessed to receive a large financial donation to help us get much closer to being fully funded for the adoption! Praise the Lord and thank you to the donor! We have heard very little about any matches since that time and I’m not sure how I feel about that. Of course, I DO WANT to move forward with this adoption journey, but as I look back over the past months, I can see how having a baby in the mix would have made something complicated even more complex! But, my dream of another baby or sibling set is still alive and well. Now that things are in the next stage (which I’ll write more about below), I find my thoughts drifting more towards adoption again. I find my readiness being reawakened. Maybe this is a good time, maybe it’s not, and maybe it doesn’t really matter whether or not it’s a ‘good-time’ as long as it’s a ‘God-time.’ So, we keep waiting. That’s the adoption update.

Well, let’s talk about the rest of what’s been going on. In short, we’ve moved to a new city. Yup… you read that right! About seven months ago, I shared how God was telling us that a job change was coming. We started to separate our focus from our previous employment to what God had already birthed and grew in Putty’s area of influence. But we didn’t know that another big shift was coming our way. As we worked through the process of where to place our focus and how all the complex details of that would work out, something just wasn’t right within us. It became clear that God was asking us to move out of the hometown we’d known since we graduated with our undergraduate degrees and look towards a new future. 

The trouble was that we still didn’t know WHAT exactly that future would be! We knew we had to keep taking the next step though. So, we notified the people who needed to know about this change in course and we started looking for the next landing place. Since we weren’t feeling called to any particular location, we decided to choose based on a few criteria, with two big ones standing out: 1) A good HUB airport for Putty to use for easier travel and 2) an area where we have a lot of ministry connections already. One place stood out above the rest and was still relatively close to our family… Chicago! So, we began making plans to move there. But we had no idea where to go in the sprawling metropolis. We weren’t sure what kind of housing we could afford, nor did we know where we’d eventually end up attending church. All we knew was that we were heading out to follow the Lord and this was the next step.

As we connected with a realtor who could help us find some rental housing, the reality of what we were about to do set in. She sent us many MLS pages of homes that were available for rent, but all of them made my heart hurt to even consider living in them. It was so rough. I didn’t like getting these emails and I just wasn’t connecting with any of the homes presented to us. I was keeping up a good front though. It’s easiest to do that when you just don’t acknowledge it. And that’s essentially what I did. I ignored the ‘finding future housing’ task and instead threw myself into preparing our home for sale and moving. However, I did have this fleeting thought at one point and I vocalized it to Putty. I said, “You know, I don’t care what house we live in next. I’d really like it if we could just be offered a place to live or at least take one for very cheap. I mean, maybe someone we know has a vacant house or even missionary housing! I just don’t want to go through the process of choosing a place when we probably won’t even be there long.’ 

Little did I know that this statement was actually a hearts-desire because the act of choosing was very hard for me. I chose the home we were living in at that time and we worked hard to make it a wonderful place for us to live and host people. We LOVED it. So, nothing could compare to what we were leaving. What criteria could I use to choose the next house except for letting it be God’s choice for us. With that said, I returned to my packing, donating, and cleaning up our current place. Whatever was next, we were going to leave this house in nice shape for the next owners and we weren’t going to bring along a lot of unnecessary stuff to our next resting spot. 

The time was drawing closer to when we’d be putting our house on the market. With one week to go, we still didn’t know exactly what next home we were heading towards. But, God was about to surprise us once again with his goodness, providence, and confirmation. It was the day our congregation was being notified of this new change to the status quo. With little more information to give them other than that we were following God to Chicago with no idea of what was coming next, we left a lot of questions unanswered (perhaps more of our own than anyone else’s). That was the day though, when God was giving us the next piece to our puzzle! 

Putty received a phone call from a friend in the Chicago area with a job proposition! It seems he needed to hire a new pastor, but wasn’t ready or able to make a permanent decision yet. He asked Putty if he’d be willing to take on an interim pastor position while we were in transition. We couldn’t believe it, but God was allowing us to live off of a salary during this transitional period, instead of the proceeds from the sale of our house! Not only that, but this church has a parsonage and we could live there as part of our compensation. And to ice the cake, it’s in a beautiful area and we already had a childhood friend who attended there too! We were blown away at this offer and although right away we were pretty sure that we’d accept the job, we did take some time to pray and discuss it before giving our final answer.

I admit it, I broke down in tears. I was so overwhelmed with how God was caring for our needs. Not only by helping us to stay afloat financially, but He heard my desire to have a house that I didn’t have to choose! He provided housing for me and my family. He provided a church for us to connect with while up here in Chicago. And, he provided existing friendships so we didn’t have to start from scratch. God is so good. He is so kind. He is thoughtful. He is steady and true. (You can read Putty’s perspective on our life update on his most recent blog post)

I’m so thankful we followed Him on this journey. Since my last blog, He has provided us with adoption money, gifts towards our next ministry, housing, a new job/salary, rekindled friendships, and stability. It’s these times that I will look at again and again and remember that God is good. If I doubt that we’re on the right trajectory as we transition, I look to His obvious provision and I see that He is leading us and making a way. We still are searching out the next things. We are following rabbit trails and seeking the LORD. Even though I don’t have an answer for my next stage in life… even though I can’t make a plan (which I LOVE to do!)… I know that my steps are directed by the Lord.

Thank You Note: Thank you to all of you who have generously given towards our adoption, our ministry, and our family. Thank you for believing in God’s calling on our lives and this next journey he has us on. We truly are so grateful for your support and enthusiasm as we step into our next season in ministry together!

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(If you know someone who would find this story helpful or encouraging, please feel free to share it! Thanks for reading my post!)

family, God, Kingdom, My Story

Partnering with God

Remember Last Fall When…

Last Fall I shared a reminiscent story of how God cares about little children’s desires. The blog post was about the time our neighbor found a lost Siamese kitten and they said we could have it. I was so excited because I had wanted one really badly and my mom had even prayed that we’d somehow get one and then we did! Well, a few weeks after publishing that blog post, two Siamese kittens came up as available for adoption at our local humane society. I wouldn’t usually know about new kitten arrivals, but because my mom was volunteering at the time, and just happened to be doing a different volunteer task that day, she noticed them. She let me know about these kitties immediately and many things came into alignment which allowed my family to adopt them! I felt like God was confirming again that He loves me just as much as an adult as He did when I was a child. It was so uplifting to my heart.

Well, it’s happened again! I wanted to take the time to share about it with you and I think the larger lesson that comes from this is…When we’re obedient to do the things God asks us to do, His subsequent gifts bring us more joy and gratitude because of our partnership and obedience.

And Now This Spring…

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post on the Spiritual Discipline of Simplicity. Through my research on this topic, I discovered more about my family’s history and heritage of simplicity and how it also has been working out in my own adult life. Then I got to share some of my thoughts on this subject during a Facebook Q&A through our church. It was a lot of fun and I was reminded yet again about how much I love to share the things that God is teaching me with other people!

Two Extra Large Totes Full of Clothes!

This all came back to mind recently when my neighbors dropped off two HUGE bins of girls’ clothing for my daughters and some of my nieces in our neighborhood. You see, re-using material goods is one of the outward actions of living simply. To me, I can be a wise steward of my money when I buy clothing second-hand. So many clothes can be worn over and over again and still have plenty of life in them. So, I love to find great deals on used clothes for my kids and the kids don’t really know the difference between brand-new, thrift-store-bought, or hand-me down clothes. They’re excited about them no matter what – because it’s still new to them!

This came about because, while working in my front yard a few weeks ago, these neighbors walked by and I stopped them to ask them if they’d be willing to allow me to buy their daughter’s clothes since there wouldn’t be garage sales this year due to the stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidelines. I knew from past years that they have great clothes and they’re just the right size for my daughter! So, I suggested that either I could pay a lump sum for the clothes, or I could go through the items and choose what I’d like to buy and pay them separately for each one. I also mentioned that I’m not the only who has benefited from their garage sales in the past, but that my sister and two of her girls have as well! 

One week ago these neighbors came to my door with two large totes FULL of girls’ clothes, shoes, and accessories. In addition to the excitement of having so many new items to look through, I was doubly excited when they told me that we could ‘just have’ all the clothes at no cost!!! I was floored. I mean, it’s not like we have a close relationship with these people outside of the usual pleasant conversations and friendly waving that happens from time to time. But, they chose to gift us with enough clothes to last for years! This gift basically clothed three girls for this summer and into the winter. The clothes will be passed down to girl after girl until either they’re not wearable any longer or we run out of girls! I am overwhelmed with joy by this gift and so thankful.

The Lesson I’ve Learned and Keep Learning…

God’s faithfulness is nothing to dismiss. He is faithful every time. He loves to give gifts to His children – of all ages. He will give to us regardless of our actions, but there is something so precious when we cooperate with Him and see a reward too! In this case, it was writing and talking on my experience of Simplicity. Then God brought a gift from others to us in the realm of this topic and we are blessed to continue to live out this spiritual discipline.

Over this past year, God has asked me to share my experiences, to be open with my ideas, and to transparently be available to those around me. It’s not always easy to ‘go out on a limb’ in the social media space and so when He confirms our partnership in ways I’m not expecting (Siamese kittens and donated kids’ clothes) I’m filled with the warmth of His love and overflowing with gratitude to My Father who never leaves me and always provides for me.

Writing this post leads me to wonder, “How can this story help others?” I enjoy sharing the story, but what is the bigger value for those reading/hearing it? Well, I want others to be filled with hope that God is a faithful Father. I want people (my blog friends for instance) to think about times that God has asked us to partner with Him and what was the outcome? Was it encouraging? Was there fruit from your actions, or in some cases, inaction? Do you feel more inspired to jump into the partnership that God is asking you to join?

Oh, I hope you do! It’s so totally worth it, always. It might not always be easy or pretty. You might not even see the ‘happy results’ immediately or even soon after, but I know that God is always working good from our obedience and He will reveal all that in the perfect time. So, I say… Go in peace and confidence that the God who calls us also takes care of us.

family, God, Kingdom, My Story

Isolation and Over Self-Focus

I was washing dishes the other day, reflecting on conversations I had had that day, assessing what I was feeling and thinking, and thinking ahead about supper. Then a thought came into my mind that made me stop, consider, and immediately write it down.

It’s hard to NOT focus just on myself and my needs when the only person I’m interacting with daily is myself.

Whoa, this thought felt like it had something more to it if I’d take the time to really think more deeply on it. I had to put it aside for the most part then because I needed to make supper, but I’d like to take that journey now.

When it all Started…

It all started with Coronavirus. We heard about other countries being quarantined, and new countries being infected daily. Then we got the first stay-at-home order. I think it was for something like 2 weeks. Okay, well anyone can do two weeks, right? Then it got extended for another month. Now, from my own experience I was all right with that because we hadn’t lost our jobs and I very happy for a break from the go-go-go that comes in Spring! My husband and I even said to each other, “We could do this another month!” It’s been such a good chance to recover, stop and slow down. And of course, we say this fully knowing that there are many reasons this wouldn’t be good, but I’m just going to stick with speaking from our experience (otherwise this post would be VERY long). 

Well, it happened. We got the news at the end of April that our state would be implementing another month of stay-at-home orders AND we’d need to begin wearing face masks whenever we went out in public.

By this point I felt a little less excited by this process, but let’s look at the good things! I don’t have to do the morning rush of getting the kids out to school and all the emotional stress that sometimes brings. I don’t have to parent alone as frequently and we eat almost all meals together! These are great things for our family! But, the ache of missing my loved ones was creeping in more and more. I missed hugging my Mom. I missed having my kids being able to freely visit their grandparents and friends. I missed going to the store without an underlying feeling of anxiousness. And then there were the things I didn’t even know I was missing.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I can see now, some of the loneliness and dissatisfaction that was creeping in. Even though I didn’t miss getting my youngest out the door to be babysat, I missed the interaction I regularly had with those babysitters during drop off and pick up. Even though I didn’t miss the fast and sometimes hectic Sunday mornings of getting ready for church, I missed the easy ‘Hi there, Hello’ and quick hand wave that came with seeing so many people each week who I knew, not to mention the hugs of some of my favorite people! As we creeped into Spring and this extended time of isolation, I missed the freedom to plan my day – going to the library to get new books, planning BBQs with friends and family, and choosing ANY restaurant to eat at without needing to think too much about it.

Isolation Continues….

So, when the next month of the stay-at-home order started I began to get irritated. I was short tempered with my family, I felt empty and therefore unmotivated to do anything, and I couldn’t put my finger on how to make it better. That’s when my husband said to me, “Sweetie, I can’t help but notice, but I think you’re feeling a bit restless. Why don’t you go out and get a coffee and call up your sister and see if she’ll go with you. You can go for a walk together.” 

Missing our Church Family

I texted my sister and she was able to join me too! It was GREAT! We got our coffee and I talked, and cried about life, about how I was feeling and all that. Then we drove to one place that we both missed so much – the church parking lot! We are both keenly missing our church family. We sat and talked and talked and TALKED for so long. I shared my problems, she shared her problems and we were able to encourage each other just by listening to one another – in person. 

(Now, before I go any further I want to make a disclaimer and request. Please do not send me comments shaming me for breaking social distancing rules this one time. I have not made a habit of doing this and we are being thoughtful in following social distancing and hand washing directives as a family. Thank you.)

When I came home that afternoon, I was smiling, my mind felt more focused, and I wasn’t restless anymore. I had the energy and motivation to get moving with the tasks in my life and interact more kindly with my family. (Again, I am not publicly suggesting that we all go and break social distancing. This is not a political post, a shaming post, or a taking-a-stance post. I’m just sharing about one point in my life during all this craziness.)

The Realization…

That’s the night when I had the thought mentioned earlier, “It’s hard to NOT focus just on myself and my needs when the only person I’m interacting with daily is myself.” You see, I didn’t realize that I started to over self-focus until I had spent time with my sister and listened to her struggles. When I was stuck at home, not interacting face-to-face with people, my thoughts focused on myself and my family. What do I/we need? What are our problems? What can I do to make these needs and bad feelings go aways? Am I the only one feeling this way? And of course, if I’m feeling this way, then everyone else must be too. 

It was good to get some confirmation that I wasn’t the only one feeling some of the ways I was feeling, but even better than that was hearing about the struggles and needs of another person and family. It helped to broaden my current perspective because not only was I hearing about her needs and problems, but I was also SEEING her face and HEARING her emotion close-up. This totally helped me get outside of myself. In getting outside of myself and my problems, my heart opened to the needs of others in a new and different way and my ever-so-important self-needs started to seem not so intense. Others’ needs weren’t ‘out there’ anymore, but were right in front of me!

I feel like this idea applies to all of life, not just this COVID-time. There are plenty of times when I find myself getting down and in those times, I might even choose isolation instead of reaching out to people. Yes, sometimes I need time alone to refocus and recharge, but a lot of times I need time with people, with the human race. Sometimes I need time alone first, but I have to remember the second part which is to reengage. It’s so important to be reminded that my needs aren’t the only reality in the world today. When it’s my personal reality it can be hard to imagine a different reality. But when I take the time to listen to other people and their personal realities, my own heart can be changed. It is shifted from a place of self-focus to a place of others-focus. That shift gives me the balance I need to live out JOY (Jesus, Others, Myself).

God, Kingdom, My Story, Voice

Helping Others Achieve Freedom

Historical Persons…

Lately, my third-grader has been learning about all sorts of great historical figures through her class projects at school. I’ve been answering questions for her and helping her understand some of the harder, more grown-up concepts that make these people great and remembered. 

When it was time to learn about Harriet Tubman, my heart swelled. I remembered how I felt as a child while learning about her story. I thought she was so brave and courageous! She was a hero to so many, and to me. My heart burst with joy that through her acts, so many people were led to freedom. Truly she was a marvelous woman. 

Harriet Tubman Museum and Educational Center in Cambridge, Md. mural by Michael Rosato

I hadn’t thought about my feelings towards Harriet Tubman for 25 years! But, relearning her story anew with my daughter, brought it all back. I was surprised that the depth of emotion over her legacy still rang out in my heart as an adult. It made me wonder why it was such a big deal to me. So, I asked God. “God, why does my heart feel so connected to Harriet’s story? What is it that connects so deeply in me?”

Freedom…

“FREEDOM,” He said. God showed me that my connection to Harriet Tubman’s story when I was a child was a foreshadowing of what He tucked away in my heart for my future. The thread of wanting to see people set free has run through my life since I was a child. It’s one of the purposes God’s made me for. He made me to partner with people (and Him) to see them set free from the chains and weights that hold them back. 

While teaching singing, I see many students hindered by timidity, uncertainty, and hiding. But through voice lessons, students gain confidence, joy, and inner-comfort at sharing their God-given voices. Still other students have come to my studio exhibiting a need to control their voices, their emotions, and even their appearance in a way that ends up inhibiting the natural voice inside them. As we move through lessons, these things begin to melt away and they experience freedom in their voice and freedom to trust themselves and others; to truly BE the fullness of who they are without worrying how they’ll be perceived. In all these ways, my students move from some type of bondage, whether inner or outer, to a freedom that propels them forward as vocalists and people! FREEDOM!

My heart is burdened when I see people going through relational difficulty. Now, I don’t have it all together in this area, but God’s taught me so many things and brought me through so much that I can perceive more relational un-health than I once had. So, when I notice people in tough relational situations, I want to run to them and share my story of how God showed me a better way to relate. I want to see life growing between people and not dying off. My heart is so uplifted when I can engage with other people to help them regain, maintain, or start fresh in relationships with a new perspective on how to relate to others. Hearing their stories of how they were immovable in relationships and partnering with them to now be more fluid and free brings me great joy. FREEDOM!

The Past. Need I say more? Perhaps one area that I see more bondage, oppression, and being ‘under the thumb of’ is The Past. Why, oh why does the past have such an effect on our present? I’m still in process, but I have learned that my past reframed so many situations as I went through life, making it so I couldn’t see the truth. There was a jadedness that kept me from truly trusting, rejoicing, thinking the best, and hoping again and again. It was so closely related to many areas of my past. Through much prayer, conversation, and good community, God has brought healing. He freed me from many parts of my past! Now, I want to see EVERYONE ELSE set free from the past that has them in chains. Chains of unforgiveness, control, fear, doubt, worry, self-image, trauma, pain, punishment, bitterness, defeat, and so much more. It’s so encouraging to pray people through the pain and see the smiles light up their faces on the other side! What joy there is in being set free! FREEDOM!

What About You?…

So, what about you? Can you think of a historical figure that you really took interest in as a child? What is it about that person that you see showing up in your present life? I’d LOVE to hear about it. 

God, Kingdom, Leadership, My Story

Get Used to It

Waiting…

View from the back of the auditorium

I waited and waited. After doing everything I could to fill the time, I entered the auditorium and hung out on the back wall. And then I waited some more. Would my husband, Putty, come in soon? Would he ever be done with his conversation? I wanted to find a seat together before announcements ended! I waited a little longer and decided to go out into the lobby to see what was taking him so long.

Looking for Sympathy…

As I exited the auditorium I saw Di, our then co-senior pastor, now founding pastor. She was a sight for my ‘sore eyes’. Surely, she would understand the annoyance I was going through. After all, she had been a pastor’s wife for decades at this point, and I was just starting out on this path. She finished a conversation and we made eye contact. I shared my pastor’s wife woe with her and her response caught me off guard. Did she really just say what I think she just said?

Get Used to It…

I went looking for sympathy and understanding, but all I got was, ‘Get used to it’. She said it with such authority and so matter-of-factly that I didn’t know how to respond! I quickly said some parting words and headed for my husband. Finally he finished up and we went into the church service together. But, Di’s words were still ringing in my ear. They kept coming back to me. What more did they mean?

The Right Word at the Right Time…

It became obvious that her words weren’t unkind or without compassion. No, they were the opposite. These were wise words from a woman who’s had her share of ‘waiting’ and having others ‘wait’ for her. In her nutshell of a phrase was a truth that has carried me all these years. I had a choice to make. I could choose to feel pity for myself and like I was bound to Putty’s schedule and choices, or I could come to terms with his work rhythms and make my own independent choices during these times. 

The right word at the right time is like a custom-made piece of jewelry.

Proverbs 25:11 (MSG)

Like a Custom-made Piece of Jewelry…

As the proverb above says, I needed to hear this custom-made response at that time in my life. Through Di’s off-hand comment, God was using it to strengthen me for my journey ahead. That word was so powerful in empowering me to be ‘my own person’ that I frequently think of it again and again. I don’t think Di thought much about whether or not God was speaking through her at that moment, but I know she regularly lives  a lifestyle that’s open to Holy Spirit using her in any circumstances. And He did.

Lori (left) and Di (right) praying for me in 2011. What a sweet time!

Just the Other Day…

Just the other day, I exited the auditorium again and caught the tail end of a conversation. There was another wife, waiting for her husband to be finished talking, praying, etc and I caught Di saying it again! ‘Get used to it!’ This time I saw the smile on Di’s face. I heard the encouragement in that phrase, calling us up to make a choice to ‘wait in the wings’ or ‘act while we wait.’ I’m so thankful for this wisdom and the encouragement of these words.

And Act…

I love how one life lesson hits so many other areas of my life. My newborn is crying non-stop, my toddler won’t eat her food, my elementary child is whining all the time… ‘Get used to it – and act.’ My boss isn’t recognizing my full potential, my friend doesn’t call me, my family lives so far apart – ‘Get used to it – and act.’ What areas do you feel God telling you to ‘Get used to it’? Where is he empowering you to make choices that move your life forward today?

God, Kingdom, Leadership, My Story

Doing Church Alone with Kids – Part 2

Together, but not…

In my previous post, I shared how I ‘do church alone with kids’ because my husband works on Sunday mornings. The kicker is that he works at our church! How can he and I be in the same place at the same time, but I am still alone/separate? 

The Assumption and the Reality…

When we decided that my husband would leave his field of physics to become a pastor, I didn’t realize how that would affect my Sunday mornings. I assumed we’d carry on as usual. He and I still sitting together at church, mingling with friends together, and driving to and from church together. But one day, I started complaining to him about his lack of presence with me on Sundays. I tried to demand more of him on that day. He made it clear that he was ‘at work’ and he couldn’t just function as we had in the past.

The Workplace…

This really got me thinking. I had to wrap my head around what he was saying. So, I tried to apply it to when I was working full time. It would be inappropriate for me to have my husband come to my workplace and just sit with me all day. It would be distracting to have him constantly talking to me and trying to get my attention while I was working or meeting with people. It’d be awkward to have him calling the shots with my time and energy while I was ‘on the clock.’ How very ridiculous that would be!

The Understanding…

When I really started to put it into perspective that he was being paid to be at church on Sunday and interface with the church members, to help in his area of ministry, and that his boss could easily see how he was using his time, I began to shift my expectations. I could see that although we can be a family at church, it actually isn’t his main focus. Although he completely loves me and the kids, he also loves the people he serves – both bosses and church attenders. 

Working it Out…

As the years have gone by, I’ve been able to work out how to function as a family with my pastor husband, even while he’s working. We have openly discussed the needs of our family and the needs of his job. We come to solutions together so that we are on the same page. And yeah, sometimes that means I shoulder more of the parental role on a Sunday morning. Sometimes, it can seem like I’m alone on the surface, but in reality we’re in this ministry together. The way in which I choose to support him and honor his role is one area that I serve. I’m thankful to be alongside him in our Kingdom Adventure.

Every job, ministry and volunteer role means sacrifice. It means a sacrifice to our expectations and the way we’ve been used to doing things. It means flexibility. We have to be able to change as the roles change. It means openness. We need to be open with those around us so that we can help each other fulfill our needs. It means growth, strengthening, interdependence, and ultimately, gain! What areas do you feel God is strengthening you? Where do you need to see a new perspective? Where do you need to be flexible and stretch? Can you see how God will ultimately bring about goodness and gain to your life as you sacrifice? He is so good.

God, Kingdom, Leadership, My Story

Doing Church Alone with Kids – Part 1

Sunday Mornings at Home

Every Sunday morning my husband goes to work. So that leaves me to go to church on my own with my kids. My husband gets up and gets ready for work and I get up and get ready for church. Then he leaves and I help my children with breakfast and getting the final touches ready for a long morning at our Sunday morning venue. After much scurrying around and forgetting this and that, we’re finally in the car and ready to drive.

Arriving at Church…

We tumble out of the car with my older kids racing ahead of me while I try to quickly unbuckle my child who’s still in that ‘very secure’ five-point-harness child seat. (But really, I’m thankful for safety!) Finally, we’re all out, I’ve locked the car…I think. Then I relock the car just to be sure and we head to the entrance. We weave through the groups of people to the check-in kiosk. My two oldest BOTH want to do the check-in so we figure out who’ll do first service and who’ll do second service. Then name tags are put on and we’re heading to class.

The Drop-Off…

At this point, I’m really tired, often frazzled, and on a mission. If you try to say, ‘Hello,’ to me, I’ll likely give you a happy and quick, ‘Hi there!’ and keep moving. (You see, if you stop with children in tow, they get distracted and run to said distraction. Then I have to go through the work of getting them back to me and off again to class.) I drop off the older two first because they *usually* go in with the least amount of trouble. Then it’s just me and my pre-schooler. We head to the class with the usual teacher and the usual toys and the usual friends. But, no. Lately, she puts on a big show of tears (I know because my sister’s a volunteer in the class and says she always calms down very quickly after I leave) and I set her down in the room and quickly exit, pulling the door closed behind me. I hear her cries as I walk down the hall. I tell myself, and sometimes the occasional bystander, ‘She’ll be fine.’ And you know what, she’s ALWAYS happy when I pick her up. Mission accomplished!

To the Service…

Finally, I’m free to mingle, but at this point most people have made it into the service and I too am trying to quickly use the bathroom, get my coffee, and bee-line it to the auditorium. Once there I finally sit down and eventually, my husband joins me. But didn’t you say your husband works on Sunday?’ I’m so glad you asked. Yes… He’s a pastor.

Although this narrative is humorous, it can also come across as complaining. It’s so easy to look at what we don’t have, in this case a husband to help with the kids on Sunday mornings, and long for things to be different. I definitely do that, but then I think about why they are the way they are. Together, we chose to be a family in ministry. There are certain things we gave up because of our choice. It wasn’t thrust upon us or the truth hidden from us. We simply made a choice and now each week, each day we see the joys and hardships of that choice. Although, at times, it can be lonely, I wouldn’t make a different choice. I’ve been so thankful for all that we’ve become as a family and I’m excited for what’s to come.

How about you? What things are hard in your life because of a choice you’ve made? Can you also see the positives that have come out of that choice? God is ALWAYS working things to our good. Romans 8:28a says,

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good. (ESV)

It might be hard to see the good that’s being worked out at times, but we can hold fast that there is always good to come for those that love God. Join me in Doing Church Alone with Kids – Part 2 to read more about how I came to the realization of my new Sunday morning routine due to our choice to be a family in ministry.

God, Kingdom, My Story, Praise and Worship

Jamaica Roadshow

All my life I’ve loved singing. From singing on the church stage, to the school stage, to the college stage, to local performing. It’s all been fun and brought much joy to my heart. 

In high school I had the opportunity to go on our church mission trip to Jamaica. My role was as a singer in our praise band. We led worship songs as a group, but I also had the task to learn a solo song and be ready to sing it whenever asked. I chose Jaci Velasquez’s version of ‘I Get on my Knees’. I worked and worked to get that song comfortable in my voice and to have feeling with it too.

Most of the times we sang in churches and schools, but one evening we were scheduled to sing at a road show. Basically, our group was one of many that performed on a big semi-truck bed on a closed off street with many Jamaicans looking up from the road below. What a different experience this was for me! I hadn’t done anything like this before. 

We did some of our praise songs and then it was time to sing my solo. I don’t remember every part of that performance, but I vividly remember looking down at the crowd of people and seeing that they were all singing along with me. They knew the song and they were singing their hearts out with praise to Jesus! It was so uplifting and I felt something I didn’t know how to explain.

Singing Jaci Velasquez’s ‘On My Knees’ at a road show in Jamaica

After I finished, our fellow mission teammate got up and shared his testimony, but even though we had heard him share many times before, this time was different. We were all so excited when it was done and both this young man and I could only explain that we truly felt like God was singing and speaking through us. We didn’t ask for this big change in presentation, only to do well. We didn’t ask for a special experience, we just wanted people to be impacted.

Looking back, I now have words for what happened that evening. Holy Spirit. I knew God used people and could talk through people, but it wasn’t something I regularly expected. Now, I see how much Holy Spirit wants to speak through us. He wants to use us to bring life to those around us! He wants to fill us and empower us to give away more of Him!

How often have we experienced something that we couldn’t explain? What has been our response? Have we brushed it off? Have we assumed it was a one-time thing? Or have we recognized that Holy Spirit was at work in and through us? Have we pushed in for more? Have we stayed open to ‘see what the Father was doing’? Now that I know God wants to use me as a partner in ministry, I can’t help but respond with, ‘YES!’ whether in singing, speaking, writing, or praying.

A recent recording of ‘On My Knees’