Monday, July 25, 2011

M is for: Monday, Ministry and Marriage

It is 10PM. Joel is watching some YouTube videos on CS Lewis. Jeremiah is asleep. M is for Monday and Monday has become our day of rest. Rest, ah, rest is satisfying when you are really working!

M is also for ministry. Ministry has consumed our summer and we have at least 5 more heavy weeks of events ahead of us. Last week I was extremely tired and did very little so Jeremiah could regain some normalcy after the mission trip to Pagosa Springs.

It has been almost a year since Joel left his job and began pursuing full time ministry. We are hardly the same two people now. God has taught us the beginnings of what it means to count the cost (Luke 14). The cost of serving God is great. We know the deeper He draws us into His service the more costly it will get. It has and will continue to cost us time. It has and will continue to cost us financially. It has and will continue to cost us relationally. It has and will continue to cost us physically. And, at least in this moment, I can honestly say it is satisfying.

Finally, M is for marriage. Marriage to a pastor is going to be hard. It is not the same as it was before- we do not ride to church together (I cried when we made that decision), we do not have two days off in a row (we follow the pastor's schedule since Joel is the newest pastor), most nights are full (at least in the summer), when we are at church Joel is pastor (he is busy and we wait), he gets calls for ministry when he is at home (Honestly, I find this annoying- especially since it is rarely an emergency), everyone knows who I am (an introvert loves that!), everyone knows Jeremiah (and wants to get in his face, poor guy), we stay at church late if someone needs counseling (I need to take 3 snacks instead of 2!), more people want to talk to me (again, an introvert loves that!), etc., etc. It is exhausting.

It is also satisfying to serve with him. It is encouraging to watch him grow in his pastoral role. I love watching him teach (he is teaching through Genesis and Acts right now). He comes home with amazing stories of how God lead him in counseling sessions. It is exciting to lead events with him. I am being stretched as a wife and a mother more than ever before.

I am learning what is truly valuable in a marriage and it is not date nights away from the kids (do NOT get me started on that!). The times of ministry with him is apart of the core design of marriage. I am watching God use MY husband to minister to people! I am watching God use MY marriage to minister to people! I am watching God use MY child to minister to people! I have said it before-a Christian marriage is not so we can have Godly romance, cute Christian kids and live the American dream. What a waste that would be (and is)!

Marriage is a picture of the Gospel. It is the husband like Christ and the wife like the Church together witnessing to the lost world and ministering to believers. It is bearing children and raising them to do the same. It is growing old together (not retiring to some place of comfort) and serving God until our days are done.

Please pray for us. God has definitely called us to this, but it is challenging. We are growing and with that comes its various types of pains. Pray that we would not grow weary and use our own strength, but that we would rely on God's incomparable power (Ephesians 1).

Coming soon: Luke 14 and Me.

Monday, July 11, 2011

True Independence

Jeremiah on the parade route- July 4, 2011

"For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself."
Philippians 3:20-21

"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ
who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory."
Colossians 3:1-4

I am realizing more and more that I am not a very patriotic person. It is not that I do not love my country because I do; it is my earthly home. It is where most of my memories are, it is where I live, it is where my friends and family are and it is full of those who need Christ. It is where God has put me to serve Him.

This Independence Day was one of my favorite because we were wholeheartedly serving Christ in a little mountain town. It was not about the food; we ate sandwiches. It was not about red, white and blue clothes; we wore lime green. It was not about family since most on our team were away from theirs.

The lyrics to "Proud to be an American" really bothered me for the first time this year. There are so many things wrong with the lyrics from a Christian perspective. Should I be proud to be an American? The men who died did not give me my freedom. Who and what defines freedom anyway? I do not thank "lucky stars" for anything. As a child of God what should my attitude be toward my country?

I am an alien here. I should not think like the rest of the people. I should not talk like the rest of the people. I should not live like the rest of the people.

It is not my home. If you are a follower of Christ it is not your home either!

The problem is this: too many Christians sink their roots down deep in American soil. They are consumed with jobs, children, houses, land and the pride of life. They have a relationship with God, but it is void of sacrificial service to the Bride of Christ and lost souls. They proudly sing "God Bless America" as if it is a worship song and yet "I Surrender All" fades after Sunday service.

Independence Day took on a whole new meaning for me this year. Christ gave me true freedom. It is a freedom, that unlike political "freedom," can never be taken away. My allegiance is His alone and I would defy my country if it came to it. I never want to love things of this country (or any country) more than Christ.

Nothing here is real except for Him.

Nothing here lasts except for His Word and the souls of man.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

Raising Jeremiah: Mission-minded

We just got home from our mission trip to Pagosa Springs, Colorado! It was an exciting week and God answered every prayer above and beyond what we had prayed. We were able to see the fruit of our labor right away which was so encouraging!

There were many firsts for me on this mission trip. First mission trip with Joel. First mission trip married. First mission trip leading Junior High students. First mission trip over a holiday. First mission trip as a mother with my child along.

I knew Jeremiah would survive, but he did wonderfully. He is such an amazing little boy. He is so flexible, patient and stays cheerful even when we push him to the limits. He was up early, missed naps, up late, being cared for by many people, without normal comforts, slept in a bunk in a room with 15 girls, out all day in the heat, entertained by few toys, in the car hours a day and in so many new places.

It was hard. It was exhausting. It was so worth it.

Joel and I desire to raise children that are able to handle a variety of tough situations. We want to raise them to be selfless. We also want them to know that we will do everything we can to take care of them in all circumstances. I pray, in Jeremiah's little mind, he learned some of those things this week.

We also want our children to be mission-minded. We want them to grow up realizing that this life is not about them and that it is all about Jesus. They exist to have a relationship with Jesus and then, in turn, live their lives serving Him. There should be nothing that holds them back from serving the Lord if they are obedient to Him and make wise choices. They must also be taught how to have a servant's heart. AND, to top it all off- serving the Lord with fellow believers as a FAMILY is a blessing.

I know I may be crazy, but I would do the last week all over again with a 9 month old. I would do it with a 2 year old and a newborn, 5 kids or 10 kids if God were to ask me to do it. There is nothing more satisfying than serving the Lord and giving yourself for him.