SWI Review–Running the Race with Patient Endurance

Running the Race with Patient Endurance–not Perpetual Busyness taught by Mary Mohler was not something I took because I am necessarily always busy, but I find my life going from different extremes during different weeks. One week there is something every night on the calendar and I don’t talk to my husband much until the weekend. One week there is much more room to breathe, but I feel guilty that maybe I am lazy. Mrs. Mohler helped give me more insight on how to patiently endure and think about what I should be doing and what I should not be doing.

Two things especially stood out to me from the class. The first was, “If you don’t have time to pray and read Scriptures, then you are busier than the Lord ever intended you to be.” I do have time to pray and read the Scriptures, but I thought that to be a helpful and true gauge for now and the future in thinking about my time and priorities. She gave us a quote from Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung, “The answer (to having consistent devotions) is not simple willpower of I must spend more time with Jesus. That won’t last. We have to believe that hearing from God is our good portion. We have to believe that the most significant opportunity before us each day is to sit at the feet of Jesus. We won’t have to rearrange our priorities unless we really believe this is the best one.” That is what really hit me. I love to read books and I can usually find at least an hour to read each day, but I often do not see drawing near to God as my “good portion.” Do more, read more, pray more…those do not last. But a change of theology, of belief, of priority, that can last.

Something Mrs. Mohler made me realize I want to start doing with my husband (to help our marriage, ministry, and just life!) is talking regularly about our goals and have a running to do list. Mrs. Mohler said a good way to discern how you should be busy is to “say no to optional demands that don’t move you toward your goals.” I plan to start sitting down with my husband and monthly talking about weekly, monthly, and yearly goals we have to be better know how to use our time. In the same vein, another thing I want to regularly think about when making the best of my time is the question, what is it that people need from me? Do they need my “heart, love, attention? Or clean dishes and food?” Of course things need cleaned and people must eat, but I do not want to neglect the soul and heart for the sake of a perfect meal and running to do list.

Another helpful thing I learned in thinking about time and busyness is contentment and thankfulness for what the Lord has given me. I often do not seize opportunities because I assume they will be there tomorrow or the next week. I want to make wise decisions in what I do and be thankful for the time, energy, and physical ability I have today.

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SWI Review-Raising Healthy Children

Raising Healthy Children by Mrs. Wellum is something I wanted to listen to to be prepared to care for other children I watch over and for possibly my own someday. I thought the class was mostly going to be about caring for your children when they are sick or hurt (because I have poor knowledge in this area) instead of eating (because we all have our own opinions on what our children should be eating) but what she did say was helpful.

On the more nutrition side, what I was able to take away and what challenged me, is to first, don’t let it consume you. Second, what are your goals? Are you going to eat with your children? Will they be seeing you eat salads and fruit? Are you going to convince them from the very beginning that water is the best thing in the world? Another thing I definitely want to remember is to not reward only with food, but with other things as well like going to the park or reading a book.

Something I learned that I think will be helpful for my ministry and my marriage if we have children is to tire boys out. :) She encouraged us that little boys need to play and run around often.

For more nurse type questions that I was seeking, she talked about concussions, losing teeth, ear infections, going to the urgent care, items stuck in the nose, and stomach aches (I particularly liked that she encouraged us to let their stomachs rest when they have stomach aches.) I am definitely not a nurse but I hope the Lord gives me grace for those situations I might have someday.

 

SWI Review-Mourning with Those Who Mourn

Mourning with those who mourn taught by Heath Lambert encouraged and ministered to my heart. Right away he opened my mind by saying that we need mourners. We need people mourning in our life to obey the command, “Rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn.” I often think they need me to comfort them or listen to them. But it was such a wonderful truth hearing we need each other in grief. Something that I think will greatly benefit me in future ministry, when I will probably go through mourning with a lot of people, is “people who are going through grief are not interruptions. This is a kindness of the Lord to help you be obedient.”

Something else that was a strange comfort to my heart, was Dr. Lambert telling a story of being at a funeral where a husband had lost his wife. The husband was wailing and screaming over the casket out of grief at the funeral and a man came up and rebuked the husband. Dr. Lambert said he was shocked that the man was rebuking the husband for mourning. Dr. Lambert said he personally he thought the husband had it together pretty well considering what happened but also that mourning is good and that is what he (Dr. Lambert) would be doing or worse if he lost his wife. I often have fears of something happening to my husband and to hear a seminary professor say he couldn’t imagine the grief or how he would ever be able to handle losing his wife, helped me as I often wonder the same thing.

Another particularly helpful thing in going through grief with someone is to know mourning requires commitment. Something I want to become better at is committing to a long term process of mourning with those who mourn. To remind myself to visit them, call them, send them a note.

Lastly and most importantly, Dr. Lambert shared that mourning requires Jesus. The main comfort we have in grief is that one day all mourning will end. We were promised sufferings in this life and when we go through mourning with others we must experience it as our own loss, to be a comfort and to prepare for our own suffering someday. We also must repent when we are tempted to not care, when it is easier to feel distant. Jesus is our comfort and he will give us the grace to mourn.

 

Crazy Busy Book Review {SWI}

I chose to review the book Crazy Busy (by Kevin DeYoung) because I’m an introvert that will go to great lengths to not be busy. I was hoping to find something helpful in determining if I am too busy or not busy enough and this book was a great start. I read about half the book during an hour lunch break so if the book intrigues you, I encourage you to read it (I also underlined most of the book!).

The main thing I want to apply to my life from this book is that I want to be busy for what matters. In this generation we seem unfocused with something constantly calling for our attention, especially things that make us feel important or busy: facebook, emails, texts, kids that have to be in sports or every extra activity, awareness about the needs of others constantly in front of us, a new to do list every morning. As DeYoung says, “we are so busy with a million pursuits that we don’t even notice the most important things slipping away.” This is what I fear I lean toward when I am busy: losing sight and care of what I treasure most for lesser, often even worthless, pursuits. Often we are busy simply because in this age there is more opportunities. We know almost no limits with transportation, information, and even light bulbs that give us light whenever we wish.

What is wrong with this? If we can do something, why don’t we do it? DeYoung lays out three dangers to look out for: 1. Busyness can ruin our joy. The most serious threat is your soul. A helpful way to fight for joy is to plan for margin. Margin means we plan for the unplannable, it means we “understand what’s possible for us as finite creatures and then we schedule for less than that.” This took a weight of guilt off my shoulders. I know my limits and what I do on a weekly basis. For myself I often feel overwhelmed if I have somewhere to be every night of the week. That would cause me to stress and not be fun to be around. I’m trying to no longer feel guilty for leaving room for the unexpected to happen or more often, my sanity.

 

2. Busyness can rob our hearts. The cares of the world and the upkeep of stuff is what is “choking our spiritual life” for most of us. What DeYoung said next really pricked my heart and revealed where my heart is, so please forgive the long quote, but it’s something I have a feeling I will need to read for the rest of my life:

Jesus says the work of the Word is swallowed up by the desire for other things. It’s not that possessions themselves are to blame. The problem is with everything we do to take care of them and everything we do to get more of them. Is it any wonder that the most stressed-out people on the planet live in the most affluent countries? Cottages, boats, campers, time-shares, investments, real estate, snowmobiles, new cars, new houses, new computers, new iStuff, new video games, new makeup, new DVDs, new downloads, new . . . –they all take time. We’ve heard countless sermons warning us about the dangers of money. But the real danger comes after you spend the money. Once you own it you need to keep it clean, keep it working, and keep up with the latest improvements. If the worries of life don’t swamp us, the upkeep will.

Jesus knows what he’s talking about. As much as we must pray against the Devil and pray for the persecuted church, in Jesus’s thinking the greatest threat to the gospel is sheer exhaustion. Busyness kills more Christians than bullets. How many sermons are stripped of their power by lavish dinner preparations and professional football? How many moments of pain are wasted because we never sat still enough to learn from them? How many times of private and family worship have been crowded out by soccer and school projects? We need to guard our hearts. The seed of God’s Word won’t grow to fruitfulness without pruning for rest, quiet, and calm.

3. Busyness can cover up the rot in our souls. Busyness can cover up dangers inside of us that we don’t have time to sit down and consider. Why are we overscheduled? Are we trying to leave no room to think or please others or feel important?

After these dangers comes what I struggle with most: a constant sense of guilt because there is so much to do and I do not do it all. I have people ask me to pray for them or their great aunt or brother George all the time. I basically live at a seminary where I hear about all the things that need to be done in the city every week. For myself, I think I can sometimes do more, but that doesn’t mean I can volunteer at every shelter or stop sex-trafficking in one fell swoop. You might identify with this too, “I think most Christians hear these urgent calls to do more and learn to live with a low-level guilt that comes from not doing enough. We know we can always pray more and give more and evangelize more, so we get used to living in a state of mild disappointment with ourselves. That’s not how the apostle Paul lived (1 Cor. 4:4), and it’s not how God wants us to live, either (Rom. 12:1-2). Either we are guilty of sin–like greed, selfishness, idolatry–and we need to repent, be forgiven, and change. Or something else is going on. … when it comes to good causes and good deeds, “do more or disobey” is not the best thing we can say.” Here are some thoughts to help us get away from the constant pressure to do more: We are not Christ. We can’t help with every cause, but we can cultivate our hearts to care and not grow cold toward suffering. And lastly, “we all have a cross to carry. But it’s a cross that kills our sins, smashes our idols, and teaches us the folly of self-reliance. It’s a cross that says I’ll do anything to follow Jesus, not a cross that says I have to do everything for Jesus.

So at this point, I started getting pretty happy. The introvert that loves to stay home started feeling pretty good that being busy was bad. But then DeYoung had to go open up my world and hit me on the head with something I will probably be learning for years and years to come: “[Jesus] was busy, but never in a way that made him frantic, anxious, irritable, proud, envious, or distracted by lesser things. When all Capernaum waited for his healing touch, he left for a desolate place to pray. And when the disciples told him to get back to work, he left for another town to preach. Jesus knew the difference between urgent and important. He understood that all the good things he could do were not necessarily the things he ought to do.” Wow, Jesus was busy! He was busy with things that mattered. And he had to say no and sleep and pray and eat because he chose to live on the earth with human limitations. He understands. Some helpful things I learned to better be busy with important things: write down your priorities (ex. from DeYoung of his: “1.To faithfully preach the Word of God. 2. To love and lead my family. 3. To be happy and holy in Jesus.”). Make a not-to-do list, “things we decide not to do for the sake of doing the things we ought to do.” Let people know your priorities up front and allow them to set their own priorities when you ask someone to do something.

Yes, I learned I am supposed to be busy. I learned I am often busy with ultimately meaningless things or that I am tired because I stayed up too late trying to put more information from the internet in my brain. But there is a good busy. DeYoung says, “If you have creativity, ambition, and love, you will be busy. We are supposed to disciple the nations. We are supposed to work with our hands. We are supposed to love God with our minds…It’s not a sin to be busy. It’s not wrong to be active.” And when life is crazy busy the cure is “rest, rhythm, death to pride, acceptance of our own finitude, and trust in the providence of God.” It is good to remember though, that being a mother will be busy and not easy, being a friend will take time, and caring for our souls and others might mean “burden-bearing, gloriously busy, and wildly inefficient work.” If we love others life will be messy, busy, and even burdensome.

To end, DeYoung (and I) will leave you with Mary and Martha, a story I’ve never quite “gotten.” Martha was worried and upset about something that didn’t truly matter. We can be the same. A lot of us “go day after day, crazy month after crazy month: worried, upset, anxious, troubled, fussing, worked up. Every stain, every school project, every dirty sink, every surprise guest, every surge of responsibility becomes a cause for great panic.” So, what is it we need to do? DeYoung’s advice: “devote yourself to the Word of God and prayer. This means public worship and private worship. I’m not telling you how much time to spend. You may start with five minutes a day or fifteen or fifty. A few unhurried minutes are better than a distracted hour, and a consistent habit is better than a sporadic burst of fits and starts.” And what really hit my heart and broke it: “We have to believe that hearing from God is our good portion. We have to believe that the most significant opportunity before us every day is the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus. We won’t rearrange our priorities unless we really believe this is the best one.” To wrap it all up, “I believe God wants us to see that if we heal the sick and cast out demons and preach the gospel and show mercy and do justice and don’t sit at the feet of Jesus, we’ve missed the one thing we truly need.” Friend, I pray you and I have what we truly need. Let’s feast on our good portion as we go through this busy life.

SWI Review-Supporting Your Husband During the Rollercoaster of Ministry

For the next few posts I’m going to post SWI homework I’ve done this past month. This could be totally boring. BUT I’m really excited about what I learned (and want to remember), and I enjoyed getting to write. I l o v e when I send Andy a draft to make sure it’s okay and he sends back “Looks great, I loved reading that.” This homework is so easy, but I always stress about it because it’s just another thing to do. But I love it because it gives me something to write (even if it’s just a review). I love feeling the click under my fingers so during times when I’m dry and there’s nothing to write, to have an assignment just to get something out of me, it’s good.

Supporting Your Husband During the Roller Coasters of Ministry taught by Joie Rose was filled with wisdom helpful for any wife, not only a “ministry wife.” As she moved on to each point, though, I was filled with anticipation and excitement to one day be a “ministry wife.” Usually, I am filled with fear when I think of helping my husband in ministry. I do not feel like a pastor’s wife and the challenges that can come in ministry seem overwhelming. But as Mrs. Rose spoke, I felt peace and excitement. What she caused me to realize, from the very beginning of the class, is we must ask, “What is biblical and what is traditional?” God does not care if I am a “traditional pastor’s wife,” he cares if I’m a “biblical pastor’s wife.” She then took us to scripture, Ephesians 6:12. My battle being a pastor’s wife is not against people or my congregation, it is with the spiritual forces of evil. That does not seem like it could be encouraging, but it became a precious truth to me realizing that people are not my enemy, Satan and is. I am called to love people and stand for the Lord.

The most encouraging thing I took away from the class was learning what a pastor’s wife is. A pastor’s wife is a “wife to her husband who is also the pastor.” It is not a vocation. It simply means I am a wife and that is my vocation, my priority. My most important job is to help my husband (and vice versa). Similarly, she said our children will grow up in a fishbowl from our church’s perspective, but as their parents we should teach them they “live in the ocean.” This is something I hope I can always keep in my mind. Life does not revolve around the church. Our life is Christ.

What I took away from Mrs. Rose is that I am first a wife to my husband and a ministry wife only by the grace of God. He is the one that saves us and sustains. It is his church, not mine.

Posted in SWI

Emotional Needs {Marriage and Family, SWI}

This was part of my homework for this week and I found it so helpful I wanted to share (definitions and instructions follow). Andy and I ranked our top five needs and then for fun we ranked what we thought was the other’s top five needs. I would say I know my husband extremely well and I was way off what I thought his top five were so the exercise was very helpful for me to know what he really cares about and for him to know what I really care about (although he pretty much had me pegged). This brought on good, sweet conversation and a focus to work on what we are both really wanting in our relationship. I liked this much better than “the 5 love languages” because it is more broad. I encourage you to take 30 minutes to get away with your spouse and really be honest and transparent with each other.

Emotional Needs:

Sexual Fulfillment a sexual relationship that brings out an enjoyable sexual response in both of you, and that is frequent enough for both of you.

Conversation talking about the events of the day, feelings, and plans, showing interest in your favorite topics of conversation, using conversation to inform, really know and understand you, avoiding angry or judgmental statements or dwelling on past mistakes and giving you undivided attention.

Recreational Companionship developing interest in your favorite recreational activities, learning to be capable in them and joining you in those activities. If any prove to be unpleasant to your spouse after an effort has been made, negotiating new recreational activities that are mutually enjoyable.

Honesty and Openness giving accurate information, positive and negative feelings, events of the past, daily events and schedule, plans for the future, not leaving you with a false impression: answering questions truthfully.

Attractiveness of Spouse keeping physically fit with diet and exercise: wearing hair, clothing, and if female, make-up in a way that you find attractive and tasteful.

Financial Support provision of the financial resources to house, feed, and clothe your family at a standard of living acceptable to you, but avoiding travel and working hours that are unacceptable to you.

Domestic Support creation of a home environment for you that offers a refuge from the stresses of life; managing the home and care of the children, if any are at home, including but not limited to cooking meals, washing dishes, washing and ironing clothes, house cleaning and child care.

Family Commitment scheduling sufficient time and energy for the moral, spiritual and educational development of your children; reading to them, taking them on frequent outings, training and disciplining them on a regular basis.

Affection expressing love in words, cards, gifts, hugs, kisses and courtesies, creating an environment that clearly and repeatedly expresses love.

Admiration respecting, valuing and appreciating you; rarely critical and expressing admiration to you clearly and often.

Spiritual Leader taking the initiative in cultivating a spiritual environment for the family, a student of the Word living out a life founded on the Word of God, leading your wife to become a radiant Christian, and leading your children in the things of the Lord.

To help you rank your needs, imagine that you will only have one need met in your marriage. Which would make you the happiest, knowing that all the others would go unmet? That need should be #1. If only two needs would be met, what would your second selection be? Which five needs when met would make you the happiest?

Resist the temptation to identify as most important only those needs that your spouse is not presently meeting.

One More Step:

All spouses have expectations in their marriage. Many expectations the spouse is not aware of or they have a false sense of what those expectations really are. Write down your expectations–being as specific as possible–then share them with each other. This will give the spouse the opportunity to say, “This seems reasonable; I think that can work” or “I’m not sure I can live up to this expectation because…” Being honest with your expectations can prevent a lot of pain later on. This exercise can actually be done every few years. As you grow, and your household situations change so will your values, attitudes, and needs.