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Showing posts from September, 2016

What Am I Working For Today?

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Years ago, when I was studying for the bar exam, I felt unfulfilled and incomplete.  I knew that passing the bar was necessary for me to progress in my career as a lawyer, and I knew that as a lawyer I would be able to help people.  However, each day felt lonely, tiring, and tedious.  For an entire summer, I did nothing but study.  

Even though I had a long term goal, I still wanted to find a purpose in my individual days.  

One of my friends introduced me to The Practice of the Presence of God, which includes the teachings of Brother Lawrence.  Brother Lawrence was a monk, and he sought purpose in the mundane, everyday life.  The book is titled the practice of the presence of God because Brother Lawrence spent his days cultivating ways to experience the presence of God in everyday tasks.  

I remember reading in awe how Brother Lawrence concentrated on finding the presence of God in a task as simple as washing dishes.  Brother Lawrence recognized that God could be in every task, no matte…

Top Ten Ways To Support Your Pastor and Their Family

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Being in ministry is tough.  I think many people know that it is hard, but few know how hard it can be.  Fortunately, my husband and I are currently at an amazing church.  We are loved and supported and we are incredibly blessed.  

Even though we have an amazing church family now, there have been many experiences that have not been as positive over our 20 years in ministry together.  Because of the incredible stress on pastors and their families, more and more ministers are leaving the ministry.  There are a number of reasons that ministry is so stressful.  Below I've listed some of the stressors and how you can help support your pastor and their family.  

1.  Pastor's have strengths and weaknesses just like every other human on the planet. Churches often expect their pastors to be gifted speakers, counselors, grief experts, spiritual leaders, administrative managers, finance experts, intellectual Bible scholars, and great with people.  As long as churches expect the pastor to b…

My Future Belongs To Me

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Do you really think what you are doing matters? 
This is a well-meaning question that I often get from friends when I tell them that I am going on another short-term mission trip. 
I am not angry when I am asked this question because I get it.  When you look at Mexico City, Uganda, or El Salvador, it is easy to get overwhelmed by the need. For example, according to UNICEF, more than half of Uganda's children live in poverty.  This doesn't just mean that they live in a household with low income but it includes being deprived of basic necessities such as food, shelter, clean water and education. 
When I recently took a trip to Uganda with Fields of Dreams Uganda, I was overwhelmed by the need that I observed.  For every child that we assisted by paying school fees, many others still could not afford an education.  Even if we could help the children stay in school, many of the children are starving and go the entire day without food.  If the children are in school and have some fo…

All Work And No Play

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I recently read an article entitled, "Stop touting the crazy hours you work. It helps no one."  I reposted the article on facebook and received a number of comments - obviously, the article hit a nerve.  

When I was in my first year of law school, a career panel spoke to us about life in the real world.  I remember sitting in shock as the attorneys discussed who had worked the most years without a vacation.  Did you get that?  Years without a vacation!  This sacrifice was worn like a badge of honor.  Instead of being impressed, I was calculating the amount I had already spent on law school to determine if it was too late to change careers.

For some crazy reason, in America, we tout our long hours of work as if we have earned an Olympic gold medal.  We brag about pulling an all-nighter at the office, never taking a vacation, and working all weekend, despite the toll that it takes on our physical and mental health.  However, studies have shown that taking time off would actually…

Boys and Bugs - Meeting Your Kids Where They Are

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It would have been so much easier to force him to be more like me, but I chose to meet him where he is.
Growing up, I was terrified of bugs.  I had an irrational fear of insects.  I had nightmares about spiders and if I saw a bug, I would beg someone else to kill it.

My youngest son often remarks, "I am obsessed with bugs." This is an understatement.  He adores bugs - he looks for them constantly, catches them, observes them, and reads about them.  He loves bugs to the point that he prioritizes bugs over all other activities.   

When it comes to bugs, we could not be more different.  

Because my son loves bugs so much, I had to make a decision.  I could try to change my son - I could beg him, or even force him, to do activities I love.  I could try to convince him to ride his bike with me.  I could insist that he read children's books about any topic other than bugs with me.  I could try to control what he loves and the person he becomes.

Or, I could meet him where he is.  I …

Solitude - Art and Emotion

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I love to take pictures, but I know that I am not a professional photographer.  I've never taken a photography class.  I take pictures for fun.  In some ways, I feel like a photography class would ruin the fun for me.  I am such a perfectionist that if I learn there is a "right way" to take pictures, I will feel compelled to take perfect pictures. So for now, I just use my camera to capture the moment when I see something beautiful.  I learn by trial and error. 

I recently told a group of kids something about art that I am trying to believe myself.

At my kids' school, I volunteer to teach art (I can barely draw a stick figure - luckily the curriculum we use is so good that my lack of artistic ability is not a problem).  In the first lesson this year, I told the kids that I did not want them to get frustrated if they thought their art was not as good as their classmates.  I told them that art is not good or bad.  Art is about how you feel - how you feel when you create …

Embracing the Chaos - Working and Being Mom

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We find freedom when we let go of control and embrace the chaos. 
I wake up, roll over and grab my phone.   It's 6 AM and this is how I start the morning - I check my email to determine how stressful the day will be.  If I have less than 50 emails, the day may not be so bad.  I have 150 - that is not a good sign.  I check my calendar and see that my first meeting starts at 8:30 AM, and then I have back to back meetings until I leave work at 5 PM.  I must leave at 5 PM because I have to pick up my oldest son from piano lessons.  I've been late every week, and if I don't leave a few minutes before 5, I will be stuck in traffic.  I see that I will have no lunch break, so I need to be sure to grab some fruit to take to work.  I also want to squeeze in a run after piano practice, so I need to take my running shoes and clothes.  

While I run around the house trying to get ready for the day, I am yelling for everyone to get in the car because we are late again.  My daughter walks o…

Joy and Thanksgiving

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Square Breathing

When I am trapped in the grip of anxiety, my thoughts are so rapid that I feel out of control.  As my anxiety grows, I tend to feel it in my chest.  My chest feels tight, and I feel my emotions simmering, ready to boil over.

As I lose control of my thoughts, I also begin to lose control of my emotions.  I often feel a mix of sadness, anger, and overwhelming stress.  I have tried to use techniques that I learned in cognitive behavioral therapy, but if I do not use those techniques early in the process, they are not helpful.
I recently learned a helpful technique for calming a racing mind called square breathing.  The beauty of square breathing is that you can do it anywhere.  It is best to be in a quiet room, but you can use this technique while driving, while in a meeting, or at the dinner table.  
Square Breathing:  
1.  As you breathe in, count to 4 2.  Gently hold your breath as you count to 4 3.  Breathe out as you count to 4 4.  Pause with empty lungs as you count to 4 5.  Repea…

Missions: How To Help, Not Hurt

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If you are considering a short-term mission trip, you may wonder if the trip will make a difference.  You also may encounter people that will question your decision to serve on a short-term trip.  Some of the criticisms of short- term missions are that short-term mission teams often know little to nothing about the countries and people they visit, the teams often spend a lot of money that could be better used for other purposes, and in some instances, short-term mission teams discourage and even hurt the communities they hoped to serve.  Often times, short-term mission teams are accused of visiting a city or country once, and never helping the area again (this may be failing to return to the area to serve again, failure to provide financial support, etc.)  Finally, many short-term mission teams are accused of getting more from the trip themselves than they actually give. 

Short-term mission trips can be life changing for the short-term mission team as well as they people that they serv…

Mission Trip Opportunities!

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Have you often wished you could travel on a short-term mission trip?  Do you want to go with a group of amazing people that share your passion for people, service, and serving the Lord? Are you excited about the idea of a short-term mission trip, but you don't know where to start?  If you answered, "Yes!", then this post is for you!

Project:Re3 has just announced the short term mission trips for 2017.  As you pray about whether one of the trips is the trip for you, consider the following:
• Registration for the trips will occur January 1st-31st. You will need to pay a $100 deposit in January to hold your spot. • We have an early bird discount - If you sign-up AND pay your deposit by January 15th, you will get a $200 discount on the total cost of the trip. If you sign-up AND pay your deposit by January 16th-31st, you will get a $100 discount. If you sign-up after January you will not receive any discounts.
• Half of the balance of your trip is due April 1st. The remaining bal…