Who you are…{video}

This video came across my Facebook feed today. I don’t believe I’ve ever shared a YouTube video here before, but it struck me to the core. I figured if I had such a visceral reaction to this, it would be good to share with you. Blessings my lovely women in ministry with world-changing capability!

Who you are…

Link to a Post: On Faith & Being a Mom

So I read this excellent post by a fellow blogger, woman in ministry, and friend (who also happens to be a former student of mine). Kristen has hit the proverbial nail on the head and I HAVE to share it with you. I don’t need to add anything, other than…click through and read the entire article. It’s wonderful. And true. And honest. And what many of you need to hear.

You. Are. Normal.

More than that…You. Are. Not. Alone.

Even more than that…God. Is. Pleased.

Tonight I found some old pictures in a box at my parents house from my first year of Bible School. I started thinking about those days and how awesomely phenomenal they were. Before Bible School, I wanted to travel the world and write books and discover ancient artifacts and basically live my life as Lara Croft. Kids were so NOT on my list of things to do before I turned 30. In fact, I couldn’t imagine myself getting married or having kids until I was at least 25. And then I met Zach and we fell in love and God started doing some serious work in my life and all of a sudden everything changed. I was 19 and thinking about settling down with this brace faced skateboarder who’d crushed on just about every girl in our class. And then we talked about missions and reaching teenagers for Christ and saving the world one pubescent at a time. And then we got married and became youth pastors and everything in my life centered around church, prayer, worship, teenagers, Bible study, brainstorming ways to further the Kingdom of God.

And then I became a mom and everything changed again.

Ministry Together: Raising PKs

Well last week it finally happened. Something I committed to God when I began having kids. A dream my husband and I have discussed repeatedly. A determination we made on how we’d raise our kids. Our PKs.

I recently read an article by Southern Baptist Minister Thom Ranier about things Pastors wish they’d known before entering the ministry. Because I was raised in the ministry, before becoming a minister myself, this list really resonated with me. Particularly #7.

7. Show me how to help my kids grow up like normal kids.  ”I really worry about the glass house syndrome with my wife and kids.  I’m particularly worried that my children will see so much of the negative that they will grow up hating the church.  I’ve seen it happen too many times.”

I want my kids – my PKs – to grow up like normal kids. I don’t want them to experience the so-called “glass house.” I don’t want my kids to see and experience so much of the negative that they will grow up hating ministry. Or worse, hating the church. Because the truth of the matter is:

  • Most kids don’t go to work with their parents and watch them do their jobs in a variety of settings including a pulpit.
  • Most kids do not get exposed to meetings where a gathering of people discuss and vote on whether their parent is a worthy candidate, how much money their parents will make, how much vacation they will get, or whether or not they deserve a sabbatical.
  • Most kids are not as exposed to birth and death nor to the physical and mental health issues of those who are not members of their families on such a regular basis.
  • Most kids don’t witness the office politics of adults who work with their parents so up close and personal. (uh..yeah – that exists in church settings too.)

More than anything, I want my kids to love the ministry!

So from the beginning we made some decisions about how we were going to raise our kids. Although the PK cannot be shielded from all the pressures and negative experiences inherent in pastoring, these can be minimized and the positives accentuated. One of our biggest priorities was that we would include our children in ministry with us. We tell our kids all of the time that God called our family to ministry. Not just Daddy. Not just Mommy. When he asked us to do this, he was including the kids; even thinking specifically about them – giving them unique gifts to accomplish their role in this calling.

So this week, we got to see this come full circle. My oldest daughter and I went on a missions trip together.

Missions Extreme

We spent a week in ministry together. Along with about 60 other young kids and…ahem…not so young workers.  And it was ridiculously fun. We spent the first half of the week in intensive learning and Bible study.

    Time in the Word

My heart was full of joy seeing my girl digging into God’s word and learning for herself why the God of the universe loves each and every one of us. And what are we to do about that?

Then we spent time learning various ministry skills. Anna was part of the ballooning team.

Annas balloon team

Fun, right?!?

Once we were spiritually and physically prepared, we went out in ministry in the community. We had the privilege of painting several community member’s houses, we remodeled a little girl’s bedroom, we did landscaping projects all over the city, and our biggest project was painting the entire outside of the local bowling alley.

bowling alley

All of these projects gave us the opportunity to invite the community to a large outreach at the end of the week. We planned to provide inflatables, carnival games, popcorn, cotton candy, face painting, plus free clothing and shoes. And we planned to minister to the guests through individual interactions and prayer and through drama and balloon ministry.

No one could have prepared us for the response.

Saturday outreach

Our best guess is that 600 +/- came through the park that day. And we believe every one of them heard the Gospel message.

Wow. What a week. I’m still processing it. Personally, I was impacted. Pastorally, I was challenged. Parentally, I was exhilarated.

I want my daughter to continue to have experiences like this one. Where she experiences first-hand the joys, victory, and heartbeat of ministry. I want her to understand the uniqueness of every opportunity to be salt and light. I want her to personalize the experiences she had. To develop the passion for the work of the ministry as a direct result of this week. I want her to see the good, triage the bad, and come up with a sense of the calling of God.

Last week it finally happened. Something I committed to God when I began having kids. A dream my husband and I have discussed repeatedly. A determination we made on how we’d raise our kids. Our PKs.

We ministered to others. Side by side.

Colossians 4:5- Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone.

Moving from being a “Woman in Ministry” to a “Woman who Ministers”

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it means to be a woman in ministry. This comes, of course, with the presupposition that women are called by God into every facet of ministry – something I firmly believe in. So let’s not get into that theological debate, m’kay?

I’ve been thinking about what this…thing…is. I grew up always wanting to be in the ministry. But in my formative years I never saw a woman in a full-time ministry position. Plenty of pastor’s wives. Lots of Sunday School teachers who were ladies. But not a single woman in vocational ministry. In fact, I don’t believe I met one before I was in my 30′s. I did have a couple of female college professors in Bible college, but I never saw them in a church setting. It would seem I didn’t have a lot of women to use as an example of what a woman in ministry should be doing. What it looks like.

Have you always wanted to be a woman in ministry? Or are you one of the many who never, ever, ever wanted to be in ministry?

As I pondered this, I realized this simple truth: the women who ministered to my own wanting soul, who taught me about spiritual disciplines, about loving the unlovable, weren’t “women in ministry” at all. They were faithful “lay people,” good neighbors, and generous friends. Women who took care of me while my parents worked. Who brought our family food in times of need. Who took me out for coffee and allowed me to vent in frustration. Those gentle spirits who whispered God’s affirming words to me. Who understood that, through friendship, Grace abounds. These women didn’t work in churches. They worked as doctors, and business owners. They were homemakers, and accountants; personal trainers and paralegals. One was an army wife-probably the closest to understanding the often-lonely life of a woman in ministry. These women taught me that Pastor/Preacher…or not, I am a woman who is called to minister.

Pastor’s wife or woman in ministry…or not – you are a woman called to minister. Sunday school teacher or not, dear wife/daughter/sister/friend – you are called to minister.

Our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends are counting on us to use our God-given gifts to bring His hope to them. Our families and friends are depending on us to use our uniquely feminine voices to speak words of life into them. Words of wisdom that comes from above to their brokenness. The God who created us, in all our girly glory, has released us to feed the hungry, care for the sick, love the unlovely, and guide the lost.

He has invited each and every one of us into ministry. Even you…the gal who never, ever, ever, in a million years, wanted to be a “woman in ministry.” :)

Chew on that and let me know what you think…

Be Blessed,

JulieAnn

Do You Have a History of Failure…Like Me?

I remember my first speaking engagement. I was asked to speak for a women’s tea for a sweet little church in the mountains. My primary contact didn’t give me a lot of instruction as to what she was hoping for. I didn’t ask very many clarifying questions – just planned a bible study that I thought was really good and would work well.

When I arrived, I found out not only was I woefully overdressed (I wore heels. WHY would ANYONE wear heels to a cabin in the mountains??), but I realized I also did not come prepared for the kind of event this was intended to be. I panicked.

I changed my content on the fly. It was awful. I will never forget the glazed over eyes trying desperately to keep up with me. And the polite “Amen” after my closing prayer. It.Was.Awful. And then they generously took an offering. A very good offering. Which I didn’t deserve. It was just plain awful.

Speaking

You’d have thought I had learned. But it happened again last week. I was asked to come speak to an all-boys lock-in for my church. It just needed to be a simple devotion. For boys. Ages 5-17. (Yeesh!) I prepared. Spent time working on it. And…it was awful. Just plain awful. {sigh}

I’ve been in ministry for nearly 20 years. I work really hard for any opportunity I have to teach about the love of God. I don’t take it lightly. But sometimes I don’t get it right. Like last week. And plenty of other times before that. I feel very disappointed in myself when this happens. I mutter to myself. Dwell on it. And don’t let it go very well. It becomes personal. But last night as I was laying in bed replaying the night and teaching the lesson the *right* way to my invisible audience, God was faithful to remind me of this:

There are plenty of individuals in the Bible who didn’t always get it right. Who struggled to complete the mission God wanted them to accomplish. Who doubted God’s calling. Who found it hard to see themselves through God’s eyes. Can you name a few? How about…

Abraham & Sarah in Genesis 18

10 Then the Lord said, “You can be sure that I will return to you about this time next year. Your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the entrance to the tent behind him. 11 Abraham and Sarah were already very old. Sarah was too old to have a baby. 12 So she laughed to herself. She thought, “I’m worn out, and my husband is old. Can I really know the joy of having a baby?” 13 Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Will I really have a baby, now that I am old?’ 14 Is anything too hard for me?

Moses in Exodus 4

10 Moses spoke to the Lord. He said, “Lord, I’ve never been a good speaker. And I haven’t gotten any better since you spoke to me. I don’t speak very well at all.” 11 The Lord said to him, “Who makes a man able to talk? Who makes him unable to hear or speak? Who makes him able to see? Who makes him blind? It is I, the Lord. 12 Now go. I will help you speak. I will teach you what to say.”

Peter in Matthew 14

29 “Come,” Jesus said. So Peter got out of the boat. He walked on the water toward Jesus. 30 But when Peter saw the wind, he was afraid. He began to sink. He cried out, “Lord! Save me!” 31 Right away Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “Your faith is so small!” he said. “Why did you doubt me?”

Thomas in John 20

27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here. See my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.”

Does your fear of failure keep you from stepping into the unknown for God? Or believing His ability? Or does your history of failure make you want to quit trying? Yeah…me too. But I want to challenge you to push those doubts aside! Pull yourself up by your bootstraps, my dear sisters in ministry! This is not what God has called us to. He does not want us to listen to the enemy of our souls. We are reminded over and over in His word: God has confidence in you! He’s taking you and molding you through each experience, positive and negative, into the woman He envisions you to be!

“Then you will know that I am the LORD. Those who hope in me will not be disappointed.” Isaiah 49:23

“See, I am doing a new thing!” “I am working all things together for good, because you love me and are called according to my purpose.” “All things are possible to [she] who believes.” Isa. 43:19; Rom. 8:28; Mark 9:23
Have a great weekend of ministry my friends!
Be Blessed,
JulieAnn

Have You Written Your Plans In Ink or In Pencil?

As I lay in bed wide awake last night, energized from the night’s activities, I began to contemplate my 2012 and what 2013 might look like.

I’ve enjoyed reading my friends’ facebook statuses, as well as several blog posts about the last year. I spoke to so many last night as we contemplated what the new year might hold for us.

As I began to pray again about my hopes and dreams and ask that God would direct my paths, He dropped in my heart quite a large question: Have you written your plans in ink or in pencil?

Some of us are born list-makers. We make lists for all kinds of great reasons: the steps we want to take to become healthier; the steps we want to take to improve our relationship with our spouse; the steps we want to take to achieve our dreams; or just simply, the steps we need to take to get through our day intact!

For others, they fight lists. Hate ‘em to the core of their being. Roll their eyes at us “planners.” But even these free-spirits makes plans.

Have you written your plans in ink or in pencil?

When a plan’s been made, how open are you to those plans being changed?  If we as believers are asked whether we’re open to God changing our plans, our answer is almost always “Yes!”. But do our actions show this to be true? If I look at my life since becoming a believer I can see times when I have clung to a plan or challenge once it was made.

Afterall, there were good reasons I made that plan, right?

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States, former five-star general in the US Army and the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces during D-Day once said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

Uh… this man led armies through highly complicated and pivotal historic events – and he thinks “plans are useless?”

I’ve learned repeatedly that when God interrupts my plans, He has something in mind that I don’t. And let’s be honest, His plans are always better than mine. It’s often difficult to see where the next step will take us, but our faith is, indeed, like a muscle. As we exercise it, it grows.

At these times, it’s critical to trust God and obey. Frankly, it is easier when He allows us to continue on our path. But when He asks us to change our direction, to go a new way, to shift our focus, it gets difficult.

Well, 2012 has been a year of changing direction. God has been asking me to go a new way – to shift my focus. Specifically regarding the Ministry Momma community. In September, God dropped a ministry opportunity in my lap. In case you have not heard, I’ve become the Family Life Pastor of a great congregation in Dublin, Ohio. On a weekly basis I get the opportunity to minister to over 150 kids and their parents. I love this new challenge in my life! It is incredibly fun, awe-inspiring, and…time-consuming.

My desire is to give my best energy to this new ministry. It is also my desire that I remain keenly focused on my own family, constantly striving to maintain our own family dynamic and balance. Thus my specific focus on Ministry Momma will have to be paused.

Women in ministry and pastor’s wives will continue to be my heartbeat. I very much desire continued involvement in the lives of women in ministry – encouraging, loving, supporting, and being a sounding board. I will still be available for mentoring women. I will still post from time to time. The blog isn’t going away. But God has asked that I be willing to erase the next line in my plan and pencil in a new item according to His plan.

And I believe His plans are big and beyond my imagination! His word tells me so in Jeremiah 29:

11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

So until next post – whenever that may be – my prayer for each of you wonderful women in ministry is that the “Plan B’s” in your life would be the blessing they’re intended to be. That as you are making plans, God would direct your steps. That you would keep your eyes and hearts focused on the One who called you – knowing He is faithful. That you would be open to the paths that God puts before you and that He would light your path each step of the way.

With love and prayers for your journey!

JulieAnn

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Christmas

I haven’t posted in awhile. I’ve been busy.

sunset 1

SERIOUSLY busy.

resort lawn

It was rough. Spending a week in a tropical location. No kids. No agenda. My hubs all to myself.

watching sunset 1

So wonderful. And refreshing.

And then we came home to…Christmas. Specifically, Christmas celebrations (of course that’s plural!) at church. Parties. 8 straight days in a row.

christmas party

Christmas program. 3 nights a week, 2 weekends in a row, plus the kid’s program (WITH dress rehearsal!).

Christmas program

Christmas.

It’s quite possibly the most dreaded, insanely busy period of a ministry family’s year. May I say, with a triumphant fist pump, that I have (nearly) survived it!

How are you holding up?

jpratt:

A couple days ago I tweeted: “Gandhi was one person. Martin Luther King was one person. Mother Theresa was one person. Why can’t you be one person?”

 

Today I read a post by Steven Furtick about how “Obedience Creates Opportunity.

 

This made me think of this post I wrote a few years ago: “Will You Make an Impact?”

 

Where are you today? Are you making an impact where you are planted or are you seeking greener pastures? Read this. Mull this. Apply this, my friends.

Blessings!

Originally posted on Ministry Momma:

Think about this:

  • Martin Luther was born into a family of trading class (middle class) background.  On October 31, 1546, Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral sparking the beginning of the Reformation – the beginning of Christianity becoming the people’s religion.
  • John Wycliff is known to be the major translator of the Bible from its once elite translation of Latin, usable only by the most educated priests of the church, to the language of the common people, making it readable by all who could read, giving us the priviledge to read God’s word for ourselves.
  • Rosa Parks is called the “Mother of the Modern-Day Civil Rights Movement.” At the height of segregation, Parks refused to give her seat on a bus up for a white man to sit. This simple act became a major motivator in the fight against racism in the South.
  • A 19 year old girl heard…

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jpratt:

I’m reposting this blog I wrote in 2008 because it’s so appropriate to my life right now. Like so many people these days, the economy has caught up with our family and I’ve had to return to work to help our family. Let’s be clear – I LOVE my new position. But still…I find myself spinning plates more than ever. Just as I am working to regularly find that place of rest, to stop spinning the plates (every once and a while, at least), and allow my Heavenly Father to speak peace to my life, I pray the same for you! Peace to you, my dear ministry mommas! Have an excellent weekend of ministry! –JulieAnn

Originally posted on Ministry Momma:

 

Ever been to one of those stage shows where there is someone trying to get as many plates spinning at one time as possible? Usually those plates are on top of gravity-defying poles, or stacked taller than a human. Watching those shows leaves you breathless and wondering how they do it? How do they keep up? How do they get them all balanced correctly? How often do they drop a plate?

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The Immature Marriage {Marriage Monday}

You’re only a kid once, but you can be immature for a lifetime. The same is true for our marriages. They can be mature, or immature, based more on our choices than on time.

Two characteristics of maturity in your marriage are generosity and forgiveness. In the mature marriage, the wife says, “I’m going to overlook my husband’s top 10 problems. Whenever he offends me I’ll say, ‘Good thing that’s in the top ten!’” The husband sacrifices a golfing excursion to give his wife time to relax and regroup without children around.

Generally, we start dating in a giving mode: ignoring faults, excusing irritations, and affording grace to our loved one. After the vows are spoken, however, it’s not at all uncommon to move into receiving mode, adopting an unhealthy “What have you done for me lately?” immature attitude.

The Apostle Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 14:11 to “put away childish things,”

So how do children act?

  1. Undependable, unsteady.
  2. Talk too much about nothing. It takes us three years to learn to talk and decades to learn how to be quiet.
  3. Curious. Children always have to be involved in everybody else’s business.
  4. Using words carelessly … i.e hurtful joking, provoking, contentiousness, grumbling and complaining.
  5. Mine, mine, mine and me, me, me … totally self-absorbed, not considering anyone else’s feelings or circumstances.
  6. Petty.  How many of our complaints in our marriage (and those of our church members) are petty, minor gripes that could be overlooked?

If you recognize areas of immaturity in your marriage, determine to “grow up.” As someone has said, the greatest gift we can give our children is to demonstrate a loving relationship between husband and wife. How much more true is that of our congregations and those to whom we are called to minister?

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