Six Days

colors-2203720_960_720

We are just 6 days from uncharted territory. We surrendered our lives to Jesus as teenagers, and have lived in surrender ever since.

Scott and I have been serving in full-time ministry since he graduated from college 8 years ago. Every day of the last 8 years I have been “youth pastor’s wife” or “ministry wife”. (Yes, I know ministry is wherever you are and whatever you are doing.)

Sunday is our last day on staff at CCC. Any time God has called us away from a church, He has always opened a door just in time for us to go from one to the next. That has not been the case this round.

This is completely new. I feel like a huge chunk of my identity is being stripped away from me. It’s painful and feels a little scary. It could be months or years before God decides to open another door.

This whole ministry journey has been a roller coaster. It is painful. People say hurtful things. People gossip. You live your life in a fishbowl and any tiny slip up in your life can be blown out of proportion. You can be betrayed by someone that you thought loved you.

On the flip side, people also love on you and pray for you when you are hurting. When your entire family is sick and you feel like you can’t do it anymore, people bring food to your home. You get to see people come to know Christ. You see people declare that they are going to give up their drug addiction. We have seen teenagers go from Jr. High personalities to mature young adults sold out for Jesus. You see lives completely changed and transformed- and THAT is why we continue doing ministry! It is an honor to be used by God in this way.

We are in a painful season of this journey. We are being put through the fire for refinement. How I react is an example to my children as to how you go through trials in your life. I have to show them that God will carry us through. I also can show them that emotions are ok. It is okay to cry when you are hurting. What we do with our emotions is what matters.

I listened to this song yesterday and sobbed.

“As I walk this great unknown
questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that you are near
Trust your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy”

Scott has started applying for local jobs outside of ministry and my heart hurts for him.

We are trying to figure out the logistics of being able to find jobs to pay bills while also still being able to candidate at churches whenever opportunities arise; all with one car. We are doing exactly what God wants us doing at this time; even if it is not at all what we want.

We trust God through everything, but that does not mean that it won’t be painful or hard. God never promised us an easy life, He only said that we would never be forsaken.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5

 

 

 

Advertisements

One Year Later

I find Facebook memories to be enjoyable. It is amazing to see what God has done over the past year (or 10) in my life. Monday marked one year since we found out that Scott was losing his job. (Today also marks 5 years since a day full of testing newborn Addison for Cystic Fibrosis. Thank God for negative results!) He came home on his lunch break and told me that the church could no longer afford to keep him on staff. We had until the end of February with him receiving a paycheck, and then it was just darkness. At least, that is how it felt. A week later, we found out that he only had until the end of January.

move

Our hearts were shattered. We had spent the last 4 1/2 years growing to love our church family. We had ministered to these teens for years. We saw them through their awkward and obnoxious Jr. High years. There were times I wanted to strangle them, and they know this. haha! They also know how deeply I loved and cared about them, even in their obnoxiousness. Now, these once awkward Jr. High boys and girls had become incredible young men and women. They still are.

We went through the next couple of weeks unable to tell our church family. We didn’t want their Christmas to be ruined by this news. Not that we are that special, but it is hard when your youth pastor and family are leaving. I know from experience. Somehow, rumor got out and hearts were broken right before the holidays.

One year ago, we were making plans to move in with family  if God didn’t open a door in time. It seemed impossible that a door could open in time. I knew God could, but honestly, I didn’t believe He would. I was hurt and confused. Why do things like that happen? We had surrendered our whole lives to serve God in full-time ministry. It is a sacrifice. It is painful and hard. It is also incredibly rewarding and such an honor.

move2

One year ago, I had NO idea what today would hold. Where would we be in a year? Would we have a home? Would we still be serving in ministry? Goodness, it was such a dark time. It sent me into a bit of a tailspin questioning WHY.

If you had told me what our future was going to hold, I never would have believed you.

Here I sit in our beautiful home that God just plopped into our laps, not in my old teen years bedroom.

We serve in an INCREDIBLE church with some INCREDIBLE teenagers who fiercely love Jesus and want to reach the world. Seriously, THEY inspire ME. Plus, I get to serve in the children’s department and love it.

We have made some great friends that I know will be around for a lifetime.

We are living in a beautiful state in an amazing family-oriented town; able to walk out the door and feel safe.

move1

God has completely blown my mind with all that He has done in the last year in our lives. I am not the same, and I would never want to be. Sure, we miss many people from Michigan terribly. They became family to us. Distance doesn’t cause a family to fall apart though. I am grateful for social media that allows us to keep in contact; and snail mail for those sweet ladies who don’t even e-mail.  I am thankful that there are roads that connect us when the chance arises. I am thankful for our new family. They are so amazing and such a blessing to us.

I am so thankful to be where I am doing what we are doing. I feel an incredible sense of gratitude. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that we would ever be here, but I am so, so thankful.

Comparison

1efd417acbaf9e8a35013ff5f04489f3

Image via Pinterest

You have heard the saying that Comparison is the thief of all joy, right? Oh, how true that is.

I find myself getting caught up in the comparison game a lot. I mean, A LOT. We haven’t taken a real vacation since April 2011. A vacation alone just as us? A random two night trip to Kansas City when we were newlyweds. I see these families going on vacations and having a blast, and I start feeling really down. Will we ever be able to do that? Will we ever get to show our children all of the beauty in this country? I have to stop myself though.

We may not get to go on “real” vacations, but at least once a year we get to travel back to Illinois and spend time with our families. Scott’s parents just moved to Arizona over the summer, so that is making things a little more tricky. But, how blessed are we that we get to take our kids to see all FOUR of their grandparents?! They get to see their aunts, uncles, and cousins also.

I see people who own their home. They get to plant gardens and do whatever they want to their house without asking permission. I have to be honest, this is my biggest joy stealer. I have ALWAYS loved homes and home design. I watched HGTV with my mom ALL THE TIME. I took interior design courses at Missouri State University. I LOVE cozy spaces and pinning my heart out. In Michigan, we lived in a tiny little house that was basically a glorified apartment. Now, we live in a literal apartment, and it really put me in a funk. Again, I have to really stop and count my blessings.

In January, we were facing homelessness. The church we were at had to cut Scott in order to afford survival. We were heartbroken and honestly afraid. We would be moving in with one of our sets of parents. When we were able to move all of our stuff into our “own” space, it felt so good. I was so incredibly grateful to be able to set furniture up however I wanted, and have space to somewhat spread out. I cried tears of joy. Now that the newness and excitement has worn off, I have allowed myself to feel ungrateful for what I have.

Isn’t this all so silly? We live in a world of social media where we can see everyone’s perfect outfits, homes, and projects… and post-baby bodies. It’s nearly impossible to be bombarded with the temptation to compare.. to be perfect.

May we never forget…

tumblr_nwkbs8kvxp1rpwhvdo1_500Image via Pinterest

Stop comparing yourself to someone else. God created us all with different talents and abilities. As long as you use those talents and abilities to glorify Him, that is all that matters!!!

I can make my tiny apartment a welcoming space to love on others. It doesn’t have to be huge and immaculate to be hospitable. It is still a daily battle; but one that I am willing to continue to fight.

 

Do you struggle with perfection and comparison? What have you done to overcome that battle?

 

Quiet Time

It is so hard to take time alone as a mom. I am terrible at it. I go to the grocery store alone. That’s really about it. I don’t even do that as often as I used to. *I want to add that this is in no way Scott’s fault. He is ALWAYS encouraging me to go out alone when he is home. I just don’t do it.*

I was talking with him about how I really wanted to get my hair done. He told me to go for it. So, I actually listened. ha! I called and set up an appointment. I had my pictures all ready. One was a balayage that was light blonde at the roots working its way into REALLY light blonde at the tips. The other was just a warmer color with some highlights. Now, I never do anything crazy with my hair. I decided that I wanted to do something fun.

This is my hair.. The first picture looks like a wig because I NEVER have that much volume.

I have SILVER hair! I wasn’t really going for silver hair, but it is the hip thing to do right now. I guess? I don’t know what is hip anymore. In my bathroom lighting, it looks like I have strawberry blonde roots with light blue hair. I seriously panicked and thought about selling an organ to pay to have it re-done. Thankfully, I went to church and everyone was raving about how much they loved it. I also got to see it in a normal light (I don’t know whats up with the bathroom lights..) and realized that it was pretty. It is SO different. But, really pretty. Plus, it is just hair.

It took 4 1/2 hours for this to be done. I had 4 1/2 hours TO. MYSELF. I love having my hair played with, so it was basically heaven. While I had a toner on my head, Denise sat me down in a huge massage chair for twenty minutes. You know what I love the most about Denise. She didn’t chatter away the whole time. Am I the only one who hates when a hairdresser talks the entire time. I just want to fall asleep in your chair and wake up looking fabulous. She was so kind and kept offering me drinks and snacks.

Honestly, even if my hair was actually light blue and orange, it would still have been worth it. I came home feeling so refreshed and rejuvenated. I love being a mom. However, you have to be “on” 100% of the time. My kids never give me a moment of peace. Someone is always wanting something and someone is ALWAYS touching me.

It is so important that we, as moms, take some quiet time. We need to do something for ourselves occasionally. We are better moms and better wives. We spend so much of our time pouring into others; especially as a ministry wife and mom. If we don’t take the time to fill ourselves back up, we will dry out. So, go have your hair done. Go get a cup of coffee alone. Take a walk alone or go for a job. Just do something to recharge your batteries. It does not have to be big and extravagant. Just make sure that you take care of YOU, too.

Grief

(dress // sunglasses // shoes // necklace-similar)

If you had asked me four years ago if I thought this would be me four years down the road, I would have said no. Four years ago, I was so overwhelmed with grief and pain.

I felt like I was free-falling into an abyss. I couldn’t figure out which way was up. All I could do was cry. A lot. I prayed and begged God to somehow rewind time. Somehow make it all better.

I still don’t fully understand WHY I had to lose my baby, and never will. That’s just it though. That baby was never MINE. All of my children are God’s. They were never mine to begin with. They aren’t mine now. I don’t have to know why God does things, I just have to remember that HE IS GOOD.

Grief is a funny thing. When you are in the midst of it, it’s heavy. It’s dark and painful. You feel like you will never be able to breathe again, because even breathing hurts.

But, here I am. I still grieve. This week always brings a dark cloud that looms over my head. I don’t have to give in. I need to take time to grieve each year. I need to grieve the kisses that I never got to give. The nights that I never got to rock my baby to sleep. There are so many things that I missed out on, so I grieve. I can’t camp out there. I have three daughters who deserve a present mama. Life is beautiful even in the darkness.

Quinn, I hope you know how loved and missed you are.

If you are going through a miscarriage, please don’t go it alone. Talk to someone. It’s ok to hurt. It doesn’t matter how many healthy children you have; every one is a blessing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If you have no one to talk to, please email me (myfourarrowsblog@gmail.com). I would love to pray for you, cry with you, and be a source of encouragement for you.

Authenticity

I have been thinking about authenticity a lot; being an authentic Christian. When I started this blog, I said that I wanted to be honest and real about being a pastor’s wife and mama. 

There is something that I have been hiding; something that I only recently admitted to myself. I have been struggling. I have been struggling with some form of depression for a couple of years now. 

At first, I thought it was just because I had a seizure and lost a lot of independence. Then, Harper was born and I assumed that it was just baby blues. Here we are two years later, still struggling. I am a ministry wife, and I feel like I am doing something wrong by even admitting this; let alone the struggle itself… I have had this typed and fear hitting “publish” but I need to.

I have made excuses for how I feel. I mean, if you look back on the past couple of years, you will see that they have been pretty rotten. However, my faith didn’t waver. I TRUST GOD. I don’t understand it all, but I trust Him and His great plan.

I spoke with my doctor last week. I was able to pinpoint when it all started. It could be a side effect of the medicine I take for seizures. So, we are scaling back on how much I take (apparently he had never seen anyone on such a high dose before). He is also checking hormone levels, because if they are out of whack it can cause all sorts of issues. I am looking at you, insomnia and exhaustion.

I hate the thought of automatically taking pills. I hate medicine. Now, please do not think that I frown on people who do take medicine for it. I know that it is necessary for some. There is no judgment there. None at all. 

I am very thankful to have found a doctor who is willing to let me try some natural solutions.

Do you know how it feels to tread water? At first it’s easy, and no one can really see how hard you are working. After a while though, it gets harder to stay above the water. Occasionally, the water covers your head and you fight like crazy to get back up. That is how I have been feeling. No one could see that I was hurting. It has been more difficult to put on a brave face lately. In fact, I don’t know that I have really been fooling anyone except for myself. 

Why am I sharing this? I am not looking for sympathy. NO! I don’t want it. I also don’t want advice; no matter how good the intentions are. I want other ministry wives to know that they are not alone. This path is not easy. It’s ok to struggle. It’s ok to hurt. You are not alone. 

April Fourth

April 4th has been a difficult day to get through for the past few years. I was due with a third child on April 4th, 2013. On September 18, 2012, that pregnancy ended in a lot of heartache. Each year, I feel a weight on my shoulders on that day. I am sad for all of the dreams that never came to pass. I will never see that child grow, learn, get married, have children, etc. That brings a certain amount of pain.

However, I have always held tight to the hope that Christ offers. I will see that child one day in heaven. What a glorious reunion it will be!!

Yesterday, Chloe found a yellow stuffed dog. She asked me whose puppy it was. I told her that she has a brother or sister in heaven, and I had bought that dog for them.

Chloe has been asking a lot of questions about heaven since around October of last year. Last night was no different. She started asking a lot of questions; questions about heaven and Jesus and Him dying on the cross. We had a long conversation about it all. She understands. She knows that she is a sinner (we all are). She knows that Jesus died on the cross so that she could go to Heaven one day (He died for us all and wants to offer that gift to all of us).  She understands it all. She was super distracted by her little sisters and what they were doing. So, I prayed for her.

Scott came home from a staff meeting and I told him what Chloe and I had been talking about. I took Addi and Harper into Harper’s bedroom and read several books to them while Scott and Chloe talked; especially since we were nearing bed time and those two needed to calm down! haha!

After a little while, Chloe came into the room and listened to the story I was reading. When I finished, she climbed into my lap and hugged me. She told me, “I have Jesus in my heart.”

I have prayed that Chloe would accept Christ since I found out that I was pregnant. I pray that for all of my children. My nieces and nephews. My friends’ children. Chloe has had such an understanding mind, and has asked questions that blow me away so often. I have never once wanted to pressure her into praying a prayer. After all, the prayer does not save you. God knows your heart. He knows it all. He knows my baby girl more than I ever could.

While yesterday started off on a rotten foot, and I struggled all throughout that day for many reasons, I could not have asked for a better ending! Take that, Monday!

chloe3

Praise God from whom all blessings flow!!!!!!

Unwind

I am currently lounging on my bed while my husband has our girls helping clean up. It is been a day, to say the least. I obviously am writing ahead.

We took it easy this morning and got a slow start. Chloe and I did school while Harper wandered around the house playing and entertaining herself. Addison did her usual “I want to do school work. Just kidding, I’m done.” over and over again.

Lunch was a flop. Naptime was a train wreck. The girls fought and yelled so much that they woke Harper up. Remember, Harper can barely hear.. Dinner time was another flop. I told Scott “I need some time away from them.”

Sometimes, it is important to recognize that we need a break. There’s nothing wrong with needing a break. I figured that I would take some time for my mind to unwind. What do you do to unwind?

I like reading my Bible; especially when the day has been a huge disaster. I need to re-focus on what I am doing; why I LOVE being a mother. Because, I really do, even on the hard days.

Lately though, I feel like my Bible study time has fallen flat. Almost as though it has become just one more thing to check off my list. That is not good. I started searching for a new Bible study that would help me along. I saw on Mandy’s blog that she was reading Pressing Pause. I went ahead and pre-ordered it.

dc2ee1c6-5fed-4c90-a51f-2dedde478fad

It just arrived, and I always have to laugh at God’s timing. He knows just what we need, and when we are going to need it!

The book is beautiful, and I really cannot wait to dig deeper into it. I love journaling devotionals. If I just read, I don’t have the tendency to just close the book when I am done and move on to the next thought. I love having the space to write my thoughts about what I just read. I try to keep a notebook with my Bible so that I can write down some thoughts about what I have read for the day.

Since moving, I have completely slacked on that. Everything got packed and I just got lazy. More excuses.

I encourage you to join me. Whether you purchase Pressing Pause for yourself, or just start journaling during your regular Bible study time, make sure that you don’t just let your Bible be another thing to check off the list. Read and experience what God has for you! Spending time with Jesus is the best way to unwind.

Whirlwind

Wow. I am back. What a whirlwind!!!

We left on Wednesday morning and traveled all day. Of course, it snowed in Michigan and slowed us down a lot. 9ish hours in the car later and we were eating a late  dinner with my mom and dad. We left the next morning and spent another 9 or so hours in the car, checked into our hotel, and then had dinner with the pastor and his family.

Because we got there on a Thursday, we had a couple of days to get to know the pastor and his family and also look around the city and see what it was all about. For the record, the pastor and his family are awesome. I just wouldn’t want someone writing and critiquing me. haha! Nothing bad to say, lots of good to say. It just would be weird to write all about them.

The city was so beautiful. It is winter (duh) so most plant life is dead, so I cannot even imagine how beautiful it would be to see in the spring/summer/fall. We were able to do one of the many service projects that the church is involved in. We packed boxes with food for the elderly. This facility also will pack up snacks for kids that may not get any food over the weekend. The school will give them a grocery bag to take home with them on a Friday. I could have some of the details wrong as we got a lot of information in a short time. Either way, what they are doing is AWESOME!!

We also got to go visit this awesome teen ministry in the city that the church helps support. They pick kids up from school, do a chapel service, tutoring, and then it’s a whole skate park and arcade. It’s a safe place for them to be after school until their parents pick them up. I was blown away. Everything is free except the snack bar, and even that is something that they can earn money for by participating in tutoring. I believe that I was told that most of the kids were not passing the state requirements for testing, and now all that attend are. It’s just incredible.

Sunday morning we were able to be in services. It truly was just a breath of fresh air. The people were so friendly and kind. The music was done so well. You could tell that people were truly worshiping and not just singing because they had to. The teenagers are so sold out for Jesus. It’s just awesome.. I really don’t even know what to say. Again, I don’t want to write about it too much because it would be weird. The church is awesome. The people are awesome.

We left on Monday morning and got to Scott’s parents’ house late. All adults were ready for bed but the girls were wired. Let’s just say they didn’t even get into bed until midnight. They were so excited. Chloe got to share a bedroom with her mimi and Addi got to share a room with papa and the dog, Sierra. Addi LOVES Sierra and was MORE than happy to snuggle her all night. haha! We got up early and hit the road after some breakfast. We spent the whole day in the car AGAIN. We hit snow (again) in Michigan, and I saw a couple of cars in the ditch. But, we made it safely.

The only incident we had was on our way down. We kept hearing a sound like a helicopter. We pulled off several times and checked the tires, etc. Turns out, it was our bumper. It got messed up right after we bought the van and we couldn’t afford to fix it. It’s slowly been deteriorating, and it was flapping in the wind. It’s tied on now, no worries. ha!!!

Now, we are back and have just 11 days until our last Sunday with our FBT family. I just sat this morning feeling completely overwhelmed and not knowing what to do first. I eventually shook it off and started scrubbing the inside of our fridge and packing some boxes. We have so much to do, and not much time to do it.

Ministry Monday

Happy Monday, friends! I will be away from blogging for the rest of the week.

We have this tremendous opportunity to travel to Oklahoma and candidate for a position at a church in a pretty cool “city”. There is a lot of packing to do as we prepare. This trip is really exciting, but will also take about a week away from our 3 weeks left here. I have to pack for our trip, and pack for the move simultaneously. Whew.

Please be in prayer for us. We want to be the right fit for this church. If we aren’t, then we want God to make it very clear to us and them. A lot of people expect us to just jump on the first position offered just for the sake avoiding being job-less and income-less. That is not at all what we are going to do. We will prayerfully consider it. Anything that God doesn’t want from us, we will not do.

leap of faith

A lot of people wonder how this whole process works for us, so I thought that I would share a little bit about when we first started in ministry 7 years ago in June.

When Scott was preparing for graduation from Bible college in 2009, we were praying about what God wanted us to do. I still had some time left in college, but we were so ready to dive into ministry. We prayed, and felt God saying “GO!” I looked into finishing my school through Liberty University Online and became really excited about that. This gave us the freedom to go WHEREVER we felt God calling us without fear of my degree getting in the way.

Scott put together his resume and started looking at churches that were hiring. We have a really great home pastor who gave an awesome recommendation and started to put Scott’s name out there; letting people know that he was looking to become a youth pastor. We had three churches that invited us to come and candidate for their positions over the course of a month and a half. What that means is we traveled to them, Scott taught Sunday school, and we gave our testimony of coming to know Christ and being called into ministry. We met many members of these churches and ate a lot of good food. haha! Two of the churches had special activities with the teens over the weekend so that we could get to know them on a less formal level. It is a lot of fun. I am an introvert, so some of it is really intimidating, but it is fun getting to meet so many new people.

All three of these churches ended up offering the position to Scott. It just so happened that they all offered at the same time. To be honest, it was incredibly overwhelming. We did not feel like any of those open doors were wrong. So, once again, we prayed a lot. We felt like one church was the best fit for us. It paid the least amount, was in the coldest state, and involved the most insane schedule… just so that no one thinks that we picked what was going to make the most money and be the easiest. Quite frankly, it was the HARDEST.. But, we both learned a LOT in our time there.

The process is basically the same each time. When we start feeling God tugging on our hearts as though it’s time to move on, we pray for opened/closed doors and direction. God opens and closes them in His time. We obey.