Our daily lives are made up of conversations. Some take place within the context of work. Some happen between friends. Others take place around politics and current events. Still others happen within the family.
In his letter to the Colossians, Paul admonishes the Church to “let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.” (Colossians 4:6, ESV) Oftentimes, part of being gracious is knowing good questions to ask in order to move conversations forward or effective transitions to use in order to steer them in a different, perhaps more positive, direction.
For the married minister or minister’s wife, one of our most intimate relationships, where valuable conversations are critical, is that between us and our husbands. On her website gracecoversme.com, Christine Hoover expresses, "My husband is my primary partner in life and our communication draws the lines that keep us healthy and humming in marriage, family, and ministry.” I tend to agree. In her blog post on this very topic, Christine goes on to address four key conversations we can consider to support and encourage our husbands. They cover practical issues like schedules, expressing personal needs, our role as helpmate, and reframing situations to focus on God’s faithfulness in life and ministry.
Friends, be strengthened this week in mind and spirit as you invest time in some great conversations with your beloved. Are there some other themes you feel are worth talking about? Feel free to add your own ideas for heart-to-heart dialogues in the comments section below.
Within the greater community of the Assemblies of God, there exist fellow female ministers who desire to encourage other women like themselves. This month we'd like to share a video series entitled "Off Script with Debbie", produced by the Northwest Ministry Network. Episode 4, for example, is about communication in marriage, delivered in a fun format that resembles a talk show. Feel free to explore the entire series here. Also, be on the lookout for a recently completed season two which will be released in the fall of 2018!
Alignment. It’s a word that has stuck in my head this year. I even found a way to create a text widget and put that word in bubble letters on the home page of my phone. What kind of images come to mind when you hear it? Cars? Margins on a page? For me, it brings to mind things matching up, namely priorities and actions.
I recently read an article by Christine Hoover that touched on this very idea. In it, she writes about juggling family, work, and ministry, and expresses how it’s "so helpful to know our God-given priorities, because our priorities help us sift and sort fairly quickly.”
That seems to be the starting point. What are my priorities? Do I know them? Have I written them down? Sometimes, that's the hardest part - slowing down long enough and quieting our spirit to get out a pen and paper and simply make a list, writing down our thoughts about what is most important to us.
For some of us, the list-making task is easy enough, but it can tend toward having the “to-dos” or the schedule lined out before evaluating what drives that list. This is where alignment comes into play. If I prioritize an ordered home, for example, I should probably include a task that involves decluttering or a daily routine that reduces the intake of excess stuff. How good would that feel to have our daily tasks, even mundane ones, supporting our priorities? On the flip side, maybe it's a matter of looking at that to-do list and determining what tasks we could consider eliminating. Dare I suggest cutting out some items? If I take a hard look at my own life, I see some things that don't even make it to a list but that I kind of end up doing by default. Ouch. Lord, please fix my default mode. When I'm not working on a task, I want my default mode to line up with my priorities, too.
Let's align our lives with our priorities as we, together, 'consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.' (Hebrews 10:24 ESV)
Would you consider sharing how you align your priorities with your tasks in the comments below? Each one of us will view this topic from our own unique perspective. We'd love to hear your thoughts! If you're in need of some practical tips to get you jumpstarted, feel free to check out Christine's article.
Read full referenced article written by Christine Hoover at her website gracecoversme.com. This article was written by Kelly Godzwa for Refresh Ministry Women.
Discipline...sometimes I cringe when I hear that word. In some ways it comes across negative to me: hard work, restriction, sacrifice, failure. But deep down I know discipline is good for me, especially if I'm the one imposing it upon myself. I'm just not good at it.
This is one definition of discipline from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
1a : control gained by enforcing obedience or order
b : orderly or prescribed conduct or pattern of behavior
c : self-control
Basically, we're talking about creating habits in our life. It seems that it's easy to create bad habits. Ever try to stop yourself from eating ice cream when you're sad? But good habits can be hard to create; it takes time, self-control, and determination. Remember hearing it takes 21-days to create a habit? Well, now they say that's a myth. Science now says it takes anywhere between 18 days and 8.5 months. Can it get any harder!
In her Propelwomen.org article, Building a Better Life Through the Power of Discipline, Hannah Brencher says,
It’s said that discipline leads to freedom, and I fully believe that now. When you learn to take care of yourself and order your tasks, your mind gets freed up. You're able to love people better and experience more peace.
Is it true that taking control of yourself, disciplining yourself in things you know are good for you, in things that you want for yourself, can make you happier? God's Word says yes!
"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:11
I also know from personal experience that when I succeed in creating a good habit in my life or breaking a bad habit, it brings an overall good feeling of well-being, accomplishment, and happiness. For example, several years ago I took on the Whole 30 challenge. It was hard, but in the end I found out what was causing me to feel unwell...dairy...and I kicked a years-long habit of using Sweet 'n Low. Just that one thing alone, taking artificial sweetener out of my life, has made me feel like I accomplished a good thing and I am living a healthier life.
So, if disciplining myself is such a good thing, why is it so hard? I think it's hard for me because I'm weak and selfish - most of the time. I'm busy, distracted, and tired. When do I have time to add 'habit-making' to my agenda, let alone finding the energy to implement it? I don't think it's as hard as I make it out to be. Those excuses just might be my mechanism to justify not putting forth the effort.
But there are ways to make this habit-making or goal-making easier. Hannah Brencher suggests steps to start adding good and better habits to our lives:
I was recently having coffee with a girl about setting monthly goals. We were talking about how we love setting goals for the month and she told me that, for some unknown reason, she wasn’t nailing any of her goals. When she elaborated, I pointed out that her goals were really extreme. These goals were asking her to completely stop living one way and make a hard left turn in in the opposite direction.
So, what's keeping you from creating some good habits in your life? You know you've thought about it. Whether it's drinking more water, quitting artificial sweetener, reading the Bible in a year, or you name it, adding a good habit or deleting a bad habit in your life is good for you. And God's Word tells us we all have the power.
"For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline." 2 Timothy 1:7
Read full article written by Hannah Brencher for Propelwomen.org here. This article written by Lisa Harris for Refresh Ministry Women.
Adoption is a very exciting thing! On June 15, 2018 our lives will forever be changed. We will become an official on- paper family. The course of a 9-year-old boy’s life will forever be changed. That is something to celebrate!
But a couple years ago, a mother made a decision that forever altered her life. She signed away the rights to her son, her flesh and blood, in the hopes that he could have a better life. She knew that someone else could provide the things that she could not. In those moments, a piece of her died. And that is something that I mourn over. I sure did not plan on feeling this way.
Throughout this adoption experience, God has been teaching me what His command to love really looks like. It is really easy to love the people who are kind to you. It’s not hard to show you care when someone is treating people that you care about correctly. Having compassion on the woman who gave away her child, my child, is not something I thought I could do. But I am doing it.
Jesus said in John 15:12, “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” He didn’t say “this is my suggestion.” He commands us to love. And he doesn’t just stop at love. He says to love them as He loves us. Jesus laid down his life for me.
"As I continue to walk out compassionate love, it gets easier with each step."
Would I lay down my life for my son’s birth mom? As time goes on, I find myself thinking about her, praying for her, and wondering how she is doing. Does she know that God loves her? As I continue to walk out compassionate love, it gets easier with each step. Jesus saved me just like He one day will hopefully save her. His love is the same for her as it is for me. Humble our hearts Jesus, if we ever think of ourselves as better than others.
Yes, on June 15, you better believe we will be celebrating! We will have some kind of party and enjoy the day that God has divinely brought together. Every year we will celebrate the day we became a family. But on that day, I will also be remembering and praying for someone who is hurting, because in my situation, that’s what loving like Jesus looks like. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you plan. I did not plan to have such a love for this woman, but with God in control, things always turn out better.
Matthew 22:37-38 “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Who is Jesus calling you to compassionately love?
(All scriptures were taken from the New Living Translation.)
The Southern Missouri District recognizes and supports churches in the crucial and viable ministry to foster and adoptive parents. The following organizations may be of help in the development of this type of ministry:
Things certainly don't turn out the way you plan.
God knew what he was doing when he brought Kris into our lives. He planned everything out right down to the very last detail. He laughed as we bought cribs and strollers. He waited patiently as we begged him for a baby. And I know that He must have smiled the day that we moved all of our son's stuff into our house for good.
Our licensing worker actually laughed at us the other day when we came to a foster care training and dropped him off in the babysitting room. She asked how things were going, and when we said they were going great, she said "Age range zero to one? Hah!"
Jeremiah 29:11 says, "I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for." (The Message)
Yes, things certainly don't turn out the way you plan...they turn out better!
The Southern Missouri District recognizes and supports churches in the crucial and viable ministry to foster and adoptive parents. The following organizations may be of help in the development of this type of ministry:
Easter is a very special, very busy time for a family in ministry. It is one of two primary event seasons for the church. Do you find yourself overwhelmed in preparation? Are you wondering where the meaning of Jesus' death and the joy of His resurrection have gone as you struggle to just get through the coming Easter weekend? Take a breath, sit down, quiet your mind, and give yourself 10 minutes to read how Jesus instructs us to get ready for Easter. You'll be glad you did!
Unlike the glittering surroundings of Christmas leading up to the celebration of Jesus’ birth, Easter brings a more solemn time of remembering His death and resurrection. So if you’re looking for ways to genuinely prepare your heart for this coming holiday, why not look back at how Jesus readied Himself for the Cross?
Because no one accomplished it better than He did, as you look more closely at how He prepared Himself for Easter, may your heart be enriched, strengthened, and ready to rejoice in His victory.
Below are 10 ways to prepare your heart for Easter like Jesus did.
1. Know What Scripture Says
Jesus’ knowledge of Scripture readied Him for the upcoming events in His life. Luke 18:31 states how, “Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, ‘We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled.’”
Even if you’ve read of Jesus crucifixion and resurrection numerous times, commit to re-reading the passages in Scripture, asking God to make it anew in your heart.
2. Follow God’s Leading
Mark 10:32 describes the processional to Jerusalem as Jesus leading the way, accompanied by astonished disciples and a crowd of followers afraid of what was going to take place there.
In following Jesus’ journey to the cross, it’s clear He was set on following God’s leading. Romans 8:14 states that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God.” Ask God to lead you during this time, too, believing, “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in Him” (Psalm 37:23).
3. Clean House
When Jesus reached Jerusalem, He did some Spring Cleaning. Scripture states, “Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there” (Matthew 21:12). Jesus took time to clean out His temple by taking the opportunity to rid it of all that was not honoring to God.
Because now your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19), you, too, can take an opportunity to clean your house of things that are not pleasing to God. You can ask Him to direct you in discarding stuff and behaviors that distract you away from serving Him.
4. Be Approachable
After Jesus cleaned-up the temple, instead of withdrawing, Matthew 21:14 describes how “the blind and lame came to Him at the temple, and He healed them.”
It’s easy in today’s culture with cell phones, sunglasses, garage door openers, and tinted windows to not be accessible to those around you. In all the busyness of life, it can feel like no time is convenient for others to approach you.
Still is there a neighbor or someone at church who has been trying to connect with you, but you’re not ever available?...Look for ways to be approachable and meet real needs in the lives of those around you, whether it’s through conversation, prayer, or meeting a practical need.
5. Encourage Spiritual Growth In Others
As Jesus did in the days leading up to His crucifixion and resurrection, He made the most of teachable moments, like encouraging His disciples’ faith through practical demonstrations...In the midst of Easter activities, be willing to encourage individuals to grow in their relationship with God.
6. Be Open to Conversation
In the days leading up to His death, Jesus spent time teaching. Matthew 21:23 states He “entered the temple courts, and, while He was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him.” Of course they came to question His authority but still Jesus did not let it hinder Him from interacting with them.
Like Jesus encountered, it can be uncomfortable to enter into dialogue and discuss your faith, especially nowadays with all the differences in personal beliefs and biblical interpretations.
As the authority of Jesus was challenged, so today is the authority of God’s Word questioned as the basis of truth. Even so you can trust God to work through your words to draw individuals closer to Him.
7. Make Time for Fellowship
The evening before being arrested, Jesus shared a Passover meal with those closest to Him. During this last supper with His disciples, He taught them how to remember Him through drinking of the cup and breaking of the bread (Luke 22:7-22)...Whether in your home, at church, or through a community event, be open to sharing a meal, taking communion, and singing with those around you.
8. Devote Yourself to Prayer
After dinner and hymn singing, Jesus headed out to pray. Spending time in prayer was a priority for Jesus. Luke 22:39 states “Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives.” Despite all that was conspiring and happening around Him, Jesus did not let the surrounding activities keep Him from spending time in prayer.
If life’s busyness and distractions have been keeping you from spending time in prayer, look to Christ’s example of making it a priority, especially during this season and in times of your greatest needs.
9. Submit to God’s Will
Scripture reveals how during His time of prayer, Jesus agonized with what God was asking Him to do. Luke 22:44 states “And being in anguish, He prayed more earnestly, and His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground."
Is there something God has been asking you to do but you’ve been hoping He’ll change His mind or give you another option? Follow Jesus’ example to trust God’s will for your life more than your own feelings.
10. Choose Obedience
For many individuals, the days leading up to Easter is a time of giving up things. Yet when looking at Scripture, there is something even more pleasing to God than sacrifice as stated in 1 Samuel 15:22, “To obey is better than sacrifice.”
After His time of prayer and submission to God’s will, Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8)...Jesus’ life wasn’t taken from Him, He gave it up as stated, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down His life for us” (1 John 3:16).
Make a commitment to choose obedience. By doing so, along with knowing Scripture, following God’s leading, cleaning house, being approachable, encouraging spiritual growth, open to conversation, making time for fellowship, devoting yourself to prayer, and submitting to God’s will, you are preparing your heart for Easter.
Just one question this week:
How are you preparing for Easter personally, not for the church, not for your family, but for you personally?
This post was written by Lynette Kittle for iBelieve.com. Lynette is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.
“Patience can persuade a prince and soft speech can break bones.” (Proverbs 25:15).
“Lord, give me patience, and give it to me right now!” Patience is a virtue that does not come naturally to most of us. We hesitate to pray for it, since we know it comes out of trials and suffering. Cultivating patience is not easy, but it is a mark of spiritual maturity. Bearing with others’ weaknesses (Romans 15:1) is a characteristic of biblical leadership and good shepherding.
Patience is defined as "the capacity to endure without complaint something difficult or disagreeable." It is steadfastness despite adversity. Patience is not resignation or apathy but firmly believing God is sovereignly at work despite no visible evidence.
According to this proverb, patience can win over a “prince." This implies that one who holds the greater power in a relationship can be won over by a tiny thing called patience. Persuading a peer is one thing, but a prince? That's another.
Every church goes through certain levels of crisis. When unity is undermined, conflicts surface. There will always be those who push back on every decision or question motives.
Cultivating patience with others during these seasons requires gentleness, humility and faith. I’ve seen this modeled throughout our ministry life by wise leaders. I have benefited from it. Patience and kind words can minimize negative dynamics whether in personal relationships or a congregation. Even if disagreements exist, relationships can be maintained in the bond of peace.
Here are three things I have learned about patience:
1. Give the Holy Spirit time to work in people’s hearts.
We once experienced what I thought was the end of a close friendship over a church matter. The couple was angry and left the church, abruptly ending our relationship. A year or so later, we bumped into them at an event. To our surprise, they approached us and struck up a conversation. As we talked, it was clear that their anger had somehow been resolved. I was relieved and was reminded that we are not called to fix people. We must do everything we can to make things right, but sometimes only prayerful waiting can bring healing. Rather than assume a relationship is dead, wait patiently and prayerfully for the Spirit to work. Our job is to examine our own hearts and wait patiently for God to work in theirs.
2. Give your people time to process actions or policies that they may not immediately support.
Usually the staff, elders and committees have planned and worked on a project for months. They have had time to ask all the hard questions, look at both sides of the issue, examine alternatives, etc. Give your people the same space. Give them time to question, time to pray, time to understand what this means for the future. How do you persuade a prince? You do so with patience and wait upon God to do His work in the hearts of your people.
3. Give grace when you speak. Always.
Soft words can break hard hearts. This is the power of “soft speech." It is disarming, sometimes unexpected but always timely. “A soft answer turns away wrath" …(Proverbs 15:1). The story of Abigail and David (1 Samuel 25) is a classic example of this point. Abigail’s humble response to David’s anger won his heart and prevented him from making a terrible mistake.
There are times when confrontations are necessary and hard truths must be communicated. However, patience and soft speech can make restoration, forgiveness and acceptance easier to find in the aftermath. Patience waits on God to work, claiming the promise of Isaiah 64:4, “God works on behalf of those who wait for Him … ”
Susie Hawkins lives in Dallas, Texas with her husband, OS Hawkins. She is the author of From One Ministry Wife to Another: Honest Conversations on Connections in Ministry. She has 2 daughters and 6 grandchildren, keeping her life full of craziness and joy. This article was posted in Flourish on November 6, 2017.
Every day, I get to do what I love. Create, teach, equip, resource, and encourage.
I could live by the motto: Eat, breath, sleep, repeat, when it comes to my vocation. Events, training, collaborative meetings, serving, new ideas, emails and social media messages seem to come as if I am playing a rapid fire game of Minute-to-Win-It.
It has never been my desire to create an on-demand life, but some days, I find myself fighting an uphill battle of firefighting instead of purpose making.
Looking back, an on-purpose fixed schedule is the only way I have ever accomplished big dreams, like graduating from college, writing books or running a marathon. When I finished my masters program a few years ago and had more space in my schedule I decided I would try an on-demand schedule (say yes to every invitation). I do not regret that choice. Saying yes to every opportunity or need is how I discovered what was next. It has led me here.
Over the last six months as God started putting bigger dreams of what was next on my soul, I knew it was time to put down the fire hose and have a calendar makeover.
That means this leader needs to quit playing whack-a-mole (thank you Carey Nieuhwof for the analogy), responding immediately to every need or dust bunny that appears and go back to an on-purpose fixed schedule like the one that led me to success in school, writing and running. If you are not already doing this and have a dream, I hope you will join the adventure.
Here are five ways to live a life on-purpose:
Living on purpose is how we offer our best selves to the world.
When our focus is intentional and single focused, people will know we care.
Angelia Craig is a wife, a mom, a daughter, a friend, a writer, a minister, a coach, and a social justice and non-profit junkie. Angelia says, "Not necessarily always in that order. In my role as director of the Women’s Department at the Northwest Ministry Network, I get to do what I like to do best: create, teach, write, and learn through others. I am also passionate about helping people discover and live out a passion—and purpose-filled life in my role as a certified Gallup Strength Coach and president of the Give Good Awards Foundation. My favorite quote by author Paulo Coelho: “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation” encapsulates my mission in life." This blog was posted on June 19, 2017 at hergreenroom.com.
Recently, a church planter’s wife asked me for advice on her situation. I didn’t really premeditate my answer; it just came barreling out.
“Be flexible or die … those are your options.”
Her eyes got big, and so did mine. The advice was a strong blow to me, too.
But, if anyone is looking for a more thought-out word from a pastor’s wife today, this might be it.
If we are going to survive the tumultuous waters of ministry, we will have to be flexible.
According to Google, the definition of flexibility is, “the quality of bending easily without breaking.” To be honest, this word hurts my stomach right now. Growing up, I took pride in the range of motion in my joints. I stretched constantly and could bend in any direction. But recently, I tore the cartilage in my hip joint which has robbed me of all flexibility. I’m in pain just watching my daughters during their gymnastics classes.
Each group of joints in our body have different levels of extensibility. We may be flexible in our hamstrings allowing us to touch our toes but not in our quadriceps which affects our posture. See, you might think of yourself as flexible, but this isn’t really an all-or-nothing issue.
Let’s think about the different areas where we, as ministry wives, need to stretch in order to develop flexibility:
1. We must be flexible about scheduling. When something comes up that is unplanned (and it will), are we willing to let our preferences go? Or will we hold on with white knuckles or learn to trust God with every moment?
2. We must be flexible about family time. Yes, we schedule Thursday night as “family night.” But if “X-Y-Z” comes up, couldn’t we as easily protect a Sunday night?
3. We must be flexible in our expectations of others. We have both legitimate and illegitimate expectations of the people around us. While we may argue about which category it falls into, we can all agree that people will sometimes fail us. So, how will we respond? We’ve got to stretch far enough to reach grace.
4. We must be flexible in our expectations of ourselves. Even as I’m typing this, I’m frustrated because I was supposed to finish this blog post before picking up my daughter from class. I guess I need to adjust what I think I can accomplish in an hour. Anyone else with me?
5. We must be flexible in our patience. Not every season is equal. When my husband first started at Pillar church, he needed more space to figure things out. If we want our churches to flourish, we’ve got to stretch ourselves to develop patience ... especially when our husbands are stressed and fatigued under heavy loads.
6. We must be flexible in our ability to take criticism (real or perceived). Maybe criticism is coming from someone in the church or from someone in your home. We’ve got to stretch in our ability to not be so easily offended. After all, “It is to one’s glory to overlook an offense” (Prov. 19:11).
7. We must be flexible in our desires. We want too many things. Some of our desires are good, but some are bad. Many times these desires conflict (I really want to finish writing this blog post, but I also really want to exercise this morning). Everything becomes hard when we don’t bridle our desires, and we allow them to sneak in and compare our lives with those around us. We can’t have it all, so we’ve got to learn to "be content with what is in our hand" (I Tim. 6:6).
8. We must be flexible in our moral commitments. (Just kidding … just checking to see if anyone is still reading this.) We know there are things we can’t be flexible about. Knowing the difference is key!
Our husband’s job (and therefore our lives as pastors' wives) can be so unpredictable. This is not something we can control. The only thing we can control is how we respond to it. There is great freedom in this. But, we have to get our workout clothes on and do the hard work of training in righteousness.
“Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Prov. 19:21).
Let’s trust our God, and put all our confidence in Him instead of our perfectly constructed plans.
This is a safe place for ministry wives and women ministers to be renewed, resourced, and build relationships with others just like you.
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