Do they deserve less?

Over the years we have encountered more and more missionary families. We have also run into more and more families wanting to be plant churches. Of course all of these families need to raise support in order to do missions, plant a church, etc. You get the idea. Well, it wasn’t until we were doing our own mission trip and raising support that my own attitude was revealed.

We all like to have what we want. Maybe some people like nice houses, others like nice cars and yet some value vacations. We all have an area in life that we spend more money in or make a priority. Some are called to plant a church or go into the mission field and many times that involves relocating. Do these people deserve to live a life any less comfortable than the ones we live? I find myself thinking that a pastor should live in a small house and drive a used car and not have any luxury items. I mean after all they are a pastor!

Why is it that we feel certain positions in society should get more status? I found myself looking at families in mission field or pastor’s families and wondering why they drove such a nice car or wore such nice clothes. Should they really be allowed to take their family on a decent vacation? It was like I expected them to live in poverty in order to have the correct spiritual life. It comes down to they are just people like you and I. Sure the bible holds them to a higher standard because the pastor will have to answer to God in a different way then I will since he responsible for teaching in the church, but does that mean he shouldn’t have nice things? It comes down to the heart. Sure if he was spending all of this money on luxuries instead of tithing then we have a problem. But if they are spending responsibly is it an issue? Maybe they even got some of the things we see as a gift.

We had missionaries at our church in Michigan that basically spent their entire lives in Africa. They would pack their belongings among toilet paper as to not waste any space in the box and to have it when they arrived. They really had to think ahead and lived very simply. Absolutely nothing wrong with this at all. Even as I went to their house once they retired in the United States they lived very simply. I guess they just realized what they needed and what they didn’t.

So a few thoughts to challenge ourselves:

  1. Do you look at people in spiritual positions and think they should have less than us? Where do we draw the line? What is too much and what is too little or too luxurious?
  2. What do we have in our homes currently that we don’t really need? Where are we spending money in excess? What could we get by without and give that money to someone else or to a need or cause?

Maybe you don’t agree with me and that’s ok. Share your thoughts anyway.

Jessica

It’s not OK!

My daughter, Kayla, soon to be 5, was at swim lesson and had wandered away from her classmates and over to say hi to me and her sister. I prompted her to go back to her class and her teacher was looking for her! After class I pulled Kayla aside and told her she needed to go apologize to her teacher for not following the directions and for wandering off. Kayla did and her teacher responded telling her it was ok and that she was just concerned about her safety. Now I have responded in a similar way several hundreds of times over saying, “It’s OK.” It wasn’t until recently and with my husbands help that I changed my response.

It’s not OK! She certainly should not have walked off no matter what the reason was but see we don’t know what to say when someone says I’m sorry. My husband, who always has the brilliant ideas in the family, has taught our girls to say “I forgive you.” Even when I start to come up with a difference response he will prompt me to say “I forgive you.” Really no explanation or anything more is needed. Forgiveness does not equal forgetting but it does mean that there is reconciliation. Just like we go to Jesus with our sins and ask for forgiveness. God doesn’t tell us that our behavior was OK. The bible doesn’t say “Oh, don’t worry about it.” It was wrong. It was sinful and we deserve punishment but we are forgiven.

How do you respond when someone is asking for forgiveness?

Forgiven

I’m the one who held the nail
It was cold between my fingertips
I’ve hidden in the garden
I’ve denied You with my very lips

God, I fall down to my knees
With a hammer in my hand
You look at me, arms open

Forgiven, Forgiven
Child there is freedom from all of it
Say goodbye to every sin
You are forgiven

I’ve done things I wish I hadn’t done
I’ve seen things I wish I hadn’t seen
Just the thought of Your amazing grace
And I cry ”Jesus, forgive me!”

God, I fall down to my knees
With a hammer in my hand
You look at me, arms open

Forgiven, Forgiven
Child there is freedom from all of it
Say goodbye to every sin
You are forgiven

I could’ve been six feet under
I could’ve been lost forever
Yeah I should be in that fire
But now there’s fire inside of me
Here I am a dead man walking
No grave gonna hold God’s people
All the weight of all our evil
Lifted away forever free
Who could believe, who could believe?

Forgiven, Forgiven
You love me even when I don’t deserve it
Forgiven, I’m Forgiven
Jesus Your blood makes me innocent
So I will say goodbye to every sin
I am forgiven

I am forgiven

 

A Year Of NO!

I recently, well about a year ago now, was invited to attend a book club. I have to say I have read only 1-2 of the books! I’m not a stellar member. I tend to read self help books or fluffy books. I was hoping that the book club would help get me out of my comfort zone. I tired but I ended up not finishing several of the books! Anyway, someone had told me about a blogger that posts what books to read that year and so I took a peak. Her first suggestion was Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes. I got it from the library and I eagerly dove in. It’s been a great book. All about a women who wrote TV shows and was always saying no to everything and even the most amazing opportunities and so she decided for a year she would say yes to everything.

As I was reading the book I thought, “I say yes to everything already.” I have the opposite problem. I say, “yes” so often that I neglect my family and myself because I put others before me. As noble as that sounds there is a point where it is not helpful. Seriously, what if I said, “no” for a year. If each time someone asked to watch their baby, or take their kid somewhere or go out. What would happen? The thought frightens me. I hate telling people no. I feel like I let them down or I’m not helpful or they will think I am not caring. But each time I say “yes” to another thing I’m really saying “no” to something else. As she rightly points out in her book no one is doing it all. If we are saying yes to homeschooling, I’m saying no to re-entering the workforce. If I say yes to helping out a friend by watching her kids, I’m saying no to getting much done around my house. Not even the most put together women does it all. No one can. We are only human.

Where do you need to say “no” or “yes” in your life? Sometimes are friends encourage us to do one or the other but no one really knows are individual situation so be sure to do whats best for you and know when its a needed push and when you need to stand your ground.

Share with us how you protect your time while still loving others!

Jessica

How do you love your enemy?

Matthew 5:43-48 English Standard Version (ESV)

Love Your Enemies

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers,[a] what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

If you have hung around in Christian circles for any length of time you know the above verse or have at least heard it. You also know that this is a difficult task. If you were to ask me who my enemy was I could not come up with a single face in my mind or someone that just irritates me to the core. (That was written 7 months ago and since then I can say I have acquired a few “enemies”) But as a teacher there was always a kid or two that really just rubbed me the wrong way and so I got to thinking about how can I love those kids in my classroom that drive me crazy. Well, let me tell you in all those years of teaching I just stuck it out and didn’t worry about “loving” them. I simply dealt with them. I realize now that we need to pray and that is important but I think there is another step we can take and this is where it may be hard.

Get to know them. And I don’t mean just say hi and smile at them. Although that would be a nice start. I mean actually engage them in conversation. Invite them over for dinner or go out and try to have a conversation with them. Don’t focus on what makes you angry with them. Try to truly learn about them and their personality. What it is that makes them your enemy? Easier said then done right?

The reason I write this is because I have found that sometimes when I first meet someone I don’t really care for them or maybe we don’t click. Then before I know it they actually start to annoy me and upset me by things that they say or do. Then as time goes on and I begin to understand the person and where they are coming from something starts to happen. I start to like them and make connections with them and understand them better. I understand this is very difficult. Even has a write this I think, I don’t even want to see these people that are my “enemies” but I also need to see them as God sees them, as sinner just like me. I am not “better” than they are and they are not better than me. I believe people are the way they are because of life experiences. That doesn’t mean we should allow these people to walk all over us or take advantage of us. Sometimes the only thing we can do for them is pray. But knowing their past can help us to sympathize and possibly even help them and point them toward Christ.

What are some ways or suggestions you have to love your enemy?

Jessica

The importance of photos

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Growing up my dad was always the one taking the photos. We ALWAYS moaned and groaned because we had to take another picture! Most of us take a TON of pictures of our kids but are we ever in any of the pictures? A couple of years ago we went to Disney and I forked over the dough for the PhotoPass. That way we could have our family pictures taken as much as we wanted and then download them at the end of our trip. This way I could be in the photos without having to always hand our phone over to a stranger. Why don’t I take more photos of myself? I don’t care about the way I look or I’m not the one doing something cute and funny! BUT after talking with another mom months ago who hated being in photos more then I, I had a realization.

See my dad died when I was pregnant with my first child. My mom died just about 1.5 years ago. When those things happen you tend to look through old photos to put on display and I realized there were photos of my parents but not a ton of them. There were more of my dad then my mom. Now these were the only link between me and them. My kids aren’t going to remember a lot of what we did growing up but they will be able to look at pictures. Although I was present at EVERY event, preparing, cheering, etc. will they remember? Probably not, so I feel it’s important to have pictures. Also they like to see us change and progress just as much as we want to see them change and progress throughout life. What better memories can we pass down to our kids?

So the next time you pull out your phone have someone else take the picture. Or do a crazy family selfie. Pass the camera around and even let the kids take pictures. Get everyone involved and take lots of pictures. You just never know when they will be all you have left of someone.

Jessica

My attitude SUCKS!

Warning: Raw feelings and thoughts ahead.

There I said it! Although I am realizing that I’m not the only one that struggles. I want, I want, I want. I want some peace and quiet. I want to go on vacation. I want to get some projects done. You get the idea. It struck me while I was in church last week that my attitude really sucks on many things but in particular on money. Adam and I honestly have never struggled with money but both of my parents filed for bankruptcy and it never seemed like we had enough money growing up. When I got my first “real” job in teaching I banked a ton of money and lived off a little. My parents and I each paid a third for college and I went to a state school. Adam had his college paid for and so we graduated with no debt and always contributed to 401Ks, 403Bs, Roth IRAs, etc. So why is money such an issue for me? Well it all boils down to FEAR! Fear of failure. Fear I won’t have enough. Fear I will make a mistake.

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This should come as no surprise because I suffer from anxiety. I learned something new about the word fear though. It stands for False Evidence Appearing Real. I have a tendency to over think EVERY thing. Really does worrying help anything? I either need to let it go or act because the way I manage my money is something I DO have control over to some degree. Its all about perspective. How do I view my own financial situation among other things?

I wrote this post about 6 month ago and never finished this and have more thoughts about my attitude and perspective. In regards to finances, I am a firm believer that we have money for what is important to us. We all want to have more then we have no matter the amount we make. We all make choices on what we can and cannot buy. It’s interesting when I say “I can’t afford X” but then I purchase Y. What I really mean is that wasn’t a priority and that is ok! I also personally need to come from a position of trust. We lay out a budget and need to stick with it. Of course things come up and we can deal with them. When we were first married it was a lot simpler but now there are so many moving parts it can be hard to keep track of. We really have no issues here it all just comes from my anxiety and background. I’m trying to learn to let loose and have fun sometimes and not obsess about how much everything costs! It sucks the fun right out of it!

As far as attitude in other parts of my life…. I’ve been squeezed a lot lately and I haven’t liked what has come out. We were at Target the other day and Adam and two of the girls were ahead of us and I was with Kayla. Kayla needed to stop because her foot hurt so I responded to a text. It became clear that her shoes were hurting her and she needed carried. She is heavy and Adam was ahead so I carried her as far as I could and then put her down. When we got to the car I opened the door and got in and closed mine and a few second later Kayla began screaming. She has put in hand on the door jam and I had closed my door on her fingers! I felt awful but was instantly angry and mostly at myself but when Maya tried to help I snapped at her and then left to get some ice. I mad that Adam didn’t stay back so he could cary Kayla and then mad at myself for not noticing her hand and then for snapping at Maya! I could go into more detail about events before this as well but don’t want to bore you but they all are very self centered and have to do with me and my worry and anxiety… BOTTOM LINE!

Tonight as we were going over finances I got upset again. We had fraudulent charges and had to cancel our credit card and get new ones. It was several phone calls and now we won’t have our credit card for our trip in a couple of days! We will also have to change all the places that automatically charge our credit card, which is a big headache. The list of little things goes on and so do my outbursts.

So what is the point of all this? There needs to be some change. I find I get like this when I have too many things happening or going on and the stress comes at me in little bits and pieces until they end up in a large heap. I also need to remove myself from the situation and look at it as if a stranger would and assess is this really that big of a deal? I’m a perfectionist and expect myself to be perfect but I can’t possibly be nor can anyone else. I need to give myself a little grace. Also I need to not assume the worst of people. In the case of Target Adam didn’t know I needed help. Maya was actually going to suggest we had an instant ice pack in the van but I didn’t listen. I admitted I messed up and apologized to everyone before we even left Target but still it could have been avoided.

Where do you see yourself being squeezed and what are your tips for dealing with it?

Thanks for listening to my raw, jumbled thoughts tonight.

Jessica

Today I will choose joy!

So a week or so ago this was the scenario on a Sunday morning:

We got up in time to be on time, but there was a hair snaffoo, a kid that only ate a banana for breakfast, it had snowed, and dress shoes were forgotten. And we were late…. again! Adam dropped us off at the door and we ran into church 10 minutes late for the girls to all sing at service. As I dropped them off at their practice before hand and gathered their coats and boots I walked past a window. It had a sticker that shouted “Today I will choose joy!” It’s amazing how God speaks to us in the most unsuspecting ways with the most interesting situations. That caused me to stop and immediately begin to evaluate my life. Nothing new. I’ve heard it a million times. But today was different.

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The Bible says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds” James 1:2. Joy is a choice and I have to say I don’t always choose joy.  The word contentment also comes to mind frequently. I can’t change the circumstances but I can change how I react and I have been convicted of that lately. I’m also learning if I can’t find joy in a particular activity or commitment that maybe it’s time to give up that activity or commitment. And it’s ok to do that with no hard feelings. I’ve been squeezed a lot lately and don’t like what’s been coming out. Sure we all get mad and upset at times, but it shouldn’t be the norm. How do I take care of myself and set good boundaries or let things go so that I can be joyful? Or maybe it’s more a matter of prayer and conscience effort on a daily basis?

Adam and I have had this conversation a lot lately. Here is another scenario. For some reason, I have never really enjoyed the holidays. They make me crabby and frankly I’d be ok with skipping them. Add to the fact that last year we miscarried our fourth baby and lost my mom right before thanksgiving and it just doesn’t feel like the joyous, wonderful time of the year it should. Both my parents are gone now and we haven’t regularly celebrated with my side of the family. Adams family goes in many directions and we celebrate with them, but not on Christmas Day. So I wondered what we should do. I lamented to Adam that I had a vision of what I wanted Christmas to look like. Adam simply said, “Then make it that way!” He was right. What do I have to lose? Why sit here and complain when I can take action and make things the way I want them to be! I can be grumpy about the holidays each year they come up or I can make a choice and do something about it. So I chose Joy! Its funny how when you change your attitude the whole world changes before your eyes.

So for Thanksgiving we went to Michigan to visit our close friends and enjoyed hanging out there. The week leading up to Christmas we have planned with fun family activities. We have started traditions of game nights on Christmas Eve after church and opening gifts as a family Christmas morning. We also celebrate St. Nicks Day.

When life starts squeezing you, what will you respond with? What do you want your holidays to look like? Envision them. Write them down. Don’t stop there. Execute!

Jessica