Tag Archive: Love

  1. Love In Less Than 4 Days

    Leave a Comment

    “We love each other because he loved us first.” ~1 John 4:19 NLT.

    For a few months, I have been gearing up for a trip to Brea, California.  Brea is near Anaheim and is extremely pretty.  I rented a car, reserved my flights, and even ordered an Airbnb.

    Why? Because, a few months back, I applied to join Propel Ecclesia.  It is a group of about 120 women in ministry leadership; most are pastors.  After being accepted, they began posting information about this in-person summit that was 3 days and 2 nights long.

    I had a conversation with my cohort leader, who asked what I would like to get out of the group.  My answer was community.  There aren’t many female pastors that I know and some of the ones I do know are more “pastor’s wives” and less “pastors”.  Where I am, I don’t always feel comfortable around them because they are head pastors at a local church and I am not, so they do not speak the same language to me.  There really isn’t any support or encouragement for becoming a female head pastor: it is still a foreign concept that is stifling an entire gender.

    In other positions, as a pastor, there still is not much education or guidance by others in ministry because it is more like a glorified title for “organizer”.  There is nothing wrong with being an organizer (one of my giftings is administration), but, unfortunately, it feels as though you are less than or not educated enough…and that is how people talk to you.

    Titles don’t always matter to people.

    When a person has worked hard to get where they are at, they don’t want to be treated differently than God called.  There are titles for a reason–God is a god of order and authority.  We follow after Him and should not treat another differently, so I was leery about going to a conference of all women in ministry leadership.

    My flights were fast getting there.  I was able to sit on the aisle for each plane.  Upon my arrival, I was blessed with a Mustang Convertible as a free upgrade.  After getting the car, I picked up three other attendees who needed rides from the airport.  Only one of those where in my cohort, but I couldn’t imagine not picking the others up.  I felt privileged to get to know them.

    The lady who was in my cohort was one of three women who decided to share a beautiful Airbnb with me.  That afternoon was our first session, led by Christine Caine and Tara Beth Leach.  They had two MCs, Bethany Allen and Jenni Wong Clayville, who were hysterical together.  There was a photo booth, cohort tables for dinner which was Taco Tuesday, and it was amazing.

    Day one was outstanding. 

    For day two, they provided breakfast, went into worship, and then a panel of female pastors spoke about ministry challenges.  Their whole talk gave acknowledgement and validation that I was not alone in how ministry was working.

    We had a cohort talk about what we need to leave behind to step into what we are claiming.  This was followed by lunch, group picture, and breakout sessions.  Both breakout sessions were wonderful, and there were a couple I wanted to attend but could only go to one at a time.  There is a possibility that some of the teachers recorded their sessions.  Maybe I will get to hear them later.

    Free time came next.  Several women from my cohort and me drove down to Newport breach to put our feet in the water.  It was beautiful and we had so much fun just hanging out.  We drove with the top down, talked ministry and Enneagrams.  It felt like I belonged.  I felt loved and seen for who God called me to be.

    The evening session was predominantly prophesying and praying over each other.  Christine brought an excellent word.  As that night ended, I drove a cohort member to her Airbnb that happened to be a treehouse with a slide…so of course I slid down the slide.

    Day two was outstanding. 

    In the morning, several people had to pack to get ready to head home right after the conference was over.  They had breakfast burritos for us.  More worship, panel session about spiritual disciplines, cohort session on who we are, and communion session.  Everyone began to part their ways, but our cohort got in one last group picture and group hug.

    These ladies just poured out love and genuine support for me and each other.  There was no competition but instead exhortation.  No one behaved as though their title was anymore important than another’s and instead offered up suggestions for furthering each other’s calling.  It was just beautifully done in love.  I have never seen anything like it before and cannot wait to connect even deeper with the nine in my cohort over the next four and a half months.

    Each of us come from different states in the United States.  There are some with similarities in family, calling, and passions but they all felt like true sisters.  These are women who I would consider to be trustworthy for my inner circle and, as they are not in my circle of influence, they are able to speak truth without bias towards history, personality, choices, or jealousy.

    Day three was outstanding. 

    From start to finish, love was present and unwavering.

    This is Ecclesia.

    This is church.

    My heart is saddened to have had to leave them.  We are connected and it feels like connection for life.  Thank you Christine Caine and Tara Beth Leach for the organization and delivery of this program.  Thank you Kat Armstrong and Tara Beth Leach for being our cohort’s facilitators, never failing to show us love.

  2. Challenges bring VICTORIES!

    Leave a Comment

    ***There are Amazon affiliate links included in this post.

    So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. ~Galatians 6:9.

    At the beginning of my marriage, my husband and I had a difficult time.  We went through a couple of years of infertility and suffered through nine miscarriages.  The disappointment and grief of losing a child was a lot to bear and neither of us had the relationship we do now with God to help ease the ache.

    On top of the emotional distress we were under, my husband traveled a great deal to Alaska for work in those early years.  We are apart more than we were together.  Our marriage was in shambles and unraveling at record breaking speed.

    It didn’t so much feel like a challenge but more like the weight of the world.

    We didn’t know how to be together…to live as husband and wife.  We were apart or grieving so much that when he would come home it was spent in constant argument.  The arguing was hurtful that we both felt the ease when he would go out of town again.

    Our marriage was a struggle from the start.  It grew dangerously close to divorce over the first five years.  At one point, I grew so angry at God that I yell-prayed my annoyance. I was flooded with bewilderment at the kind of husband He had given me.

    I could not believe I was having to deal with this junk and how I was allowing my heart to be broken.  I was angry at myself for letting my guard down to love this man. I felt I had wasted my life, thus far.  I cried so much over it that my heart felt like it would burst.  Nothing made sense in our relationship.  We hit our lowest point, after only five years of marriage.

    And then I really prayed.

    This was right around the time that the movie Fireproof was released on DVD.  We watched it as a couple.  I cried through the entire thing, while (surprisingly) my husband tried to be consoling.  The movie opened my eyes to all of the things that can happen to cause a marriage to crumble and that it isn’t just because of one person.

    Over the next week, I prayed for God’s help…because I really didn’t want a divorce.  I loved my husband and wanted to fight for our marriage.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.  It meant I had to do my own work.

    God pointed out to me, in my prayer and Bible time, that I needed to fix me.  Of course my knee gut reaction was, what about him?  Don’t you think he is the problem?  Shouldn’t he be the one that needs to do the work?

    Not the case, at least not by himself!

    God had me order The Love Dare and The Power of a Praying Wife, as my homework.  Both were difficult books to read because they were pointing out the changes I had to make.  In order for things to get better, I needed to work on myself.  The first step was being as close to God as possible.  Then I needed to love my husband well, no matter how he behaved.  Third I needed to pray for him, in all areas of his life not just for our marriage.

    This was not an easy task.  It meant surrender and allowing God to take over the control of my husband.  I would need to pray through and forgive the behaviors I was seeing from him, despite my best efforts to love him well.  He was not receiving but that was not the point.  The point was my obedience to God.

    God promised me a healthy and good marriage, if I obeyed him.  Prior to just after our five year anniversary, I was not obeying well.  I was selfish, self-centered, and prideful.  A root of bitterness had developed and, until that moment, I was unwilling to pull it.

    But God showed me how.

    For over a year, I worked on myself.  Not “me time” or the all-about-me show.  This was learning who God called me to be, as a woman of God, wife, mother, and friend.  I dedicated time in prayer and the Word, daily.  He would give me challenges to accomplish and remind me of the promised that were available from my obedience.

    My joy returned to me and I actually enjoyed serving my husband, right down to making a plate for him for dinner instead of having him get his own.

    As the first year passed with this new wife in view, my husband began to come around to believing in the change.  It was as if God had spit in mud and wiped it across his eyes to give him new sight.  He began to make efforts to love me well.  Our marriage was restoring slowly but surely.

    Obedience was paying off.

    We have spoken to many couples about what it takes to have a healthy marriage.  One that isn’t just surviving but thriving.  It takes a lot of work but most important it means getting your house in order.

    The Word tells us God’s order for our households.  If that order is out of order, then all that occurs is chaos.  That is what we experienced.  In any successful marriage God must be your number one priority.  Then spouse second.  Children are third.  Extended family would fall fourth.  Work and hobbies are last.  Anything differing from that will cause problems.

    Whenever you feel a little disappointed, discouraged, or hurt in your marriage, look back on the order of your household.  If any part is out of place, know you have work to do.  You cannot change the other person but you can certainly do your part to make sure you are obedient to His way.

    Your spouse is worth the work!

    Never forget that they are a gift from God, the most precious one He bestows, short of your salvation.  Treat the gift well.  Nowhere in the list of priorities are you listed as a priority.  Nowhere in the Bible does it allow you to put yourself above all others.  Love others well because that would be obedience.

    Love God, Love Others.  It is really that simple, even in your marriage.

    If your marriage is struggling, I would encourage you to purchase the two things listed and get to work.  You will not be sorry, if you are faithful in your obedience.  The challenges will come but so will the VICTORIES!

    We just celebrated our 19th year of marriage and it has been excellent.