Sunday, July 31, 2011


I have the privilege of serving on a team that writes the Weekend Reflections for our church's website. It is a privilege that I don't take lightly because I know how important it is to process, and those reflections not only allow me to process what was shared in the message, but hopefully, God uses me to help others process as well.

Although I am not on the schedule for this weekend, I feel like God is asking me to process on a different level. I have been overwhelmed with the thoughts of the events that have impacted my life making me who I am today. As I have done so, I have come to realize that many of those events are not ones that I would have chosen. They were things that God has led me into in order to teach me, or strengthen me, or use me.
  • My dad and my parent's divorce - My dad chose to disconnect from our family through alcohol and other women. He chose life on the road to life with his family. His choices cut deeper than he could possibly know - deeper than even I realized for a long time. I still struggle with fear of abandonment and self-esteem. (He is a father to the fatherless.)
  • Making my faith real - I think from the time I accepted Christ, I have had a very real sense that it is not about religion. It is about outreach. It is about being Christ to who you are with, where you are, and sometimes going to places others would not go. I had to make some touch choices, choices that stood against the tide and weren't always popular even with my Christian friends. Some decisions led to hurt, but I know that in most I was obedient.(I can stand firm in the trails.)
  • Troy - A hard lesson in finding my self-esteem in someone other than God. A lesson that in all honesty, I am still learning. The pain of a broken relationship that haunts me to this day. A near fatal blow to an already injured self. And yet, God was with me through it all. (He never leaves me or forsakes me.)
  • Jonathan - I have always loved music and loved to sing, but I will be the first to admit that a music career has never been part of my future. But Jonathan allowed me an opportunity to participate in the worship choir at our former church. He taught me what it means to worship and to serve, and ultimately what it means to remain true to your character even when adversity can cost you everything. (I was watching.)
  • Children - I could never have imagined how they would change me. They have taught me about self-sacrifice and unconditional love. They have shown me how to give of myself in ways I never thought possible and what it feels like to hurt for another as if the pain were my own. (I have seen the faith of a child.)
  • Serbia - Where I finally came to the end of myself. The place where I realized that I had build up so many walls that I didn't even know who I was anymore. The place where God began to peel away my dragon scales and turn me back into the child that He created me to be. The place where I began to be vulnerable again. (He has a plan for me.)
Even on days when I feel like I haven't moved an inch from that scared little girl, I know that isn't true. Maybe I haven't gotten as far along the path as I would like, and maybe I still struggle with some of the same issues, but I know that I am not who I was. God has changed me and is continuing to change me from the inside out.

As I look at some potential changes in my life, I realize that I have some choices to make. I can choose to bury my feelings and hide who I truly am, or I can be honest and allow God to continue the growth he has begun in me. I can hide the pain and hurt, or I can be transparent. I can be a frightened child or a woman of God. I want to be the latter. I want to process all that God has for me and to grow. I want to be able to reflect on today and know that regardless of my circumstances God has a plan, and I am right in the center of His will.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

In a Moment

…a life changes. A young friend is diagnosed with cancer. A friend is moving out of state. A family dynamic changes. A job changes. I forget to breathe.

I am beyond blessed. Spoiled actually – though it is painful to admit. I live in middle class America. I am still married to the only man to whom I said, “I do.” I have three happy, healthy sons who drive me crazy as sons should do. We have a house with a two-car garage and two cars to go in it. My children are able to attend school, and two of them are in the Christian school that we chose for them. We are able to take vacations, and I have been blessed to able to travel to Serbia on a mission trip. I have amazing friends. My job allows me to still be there for my kids while serving in a church that I love. I have the “best boss in the world.” ☺

But it is so easy to lose sight of that - to lose the joy…in an instant. It has been one of those weeks for me. I realized that as far as I have come in learning to be me, I have only scratched the surface. As soon as my world is rocked, those walls shoot up and I disconnect and pull away. As much as I hate it, that is just who I am. If there is a phobia of admitting to one’s feelings, I think I have it. And, unfortunately, it overflows into my quiet times and my relationship with God.

A couple of months ago, I started reading Do You Think I’m Beautiful? by Angela Thomas. I just finished chapter 2. When I read it, it touches a place that I hid away a long time ago. Yesterday it made me cry. I want so desperately for her words to be true, but if they are it opens up a very scary world for me – a place of freedom. And for me, freedom brings vulnerability – and vulnerability hurt.

My safe little world was shaken in numerous ways this week, and on more than one occasion, I truly forgot to breathe. I am still struggling to breathe. I know that nothing happens that has not passed through God’s hands, and that there is a big picture somewhere where all this makes sense, but I am struggling to walk through it with joy. In a moment, or a series of them, everything changed, and I am not sure I am strong enough to handle it all with the grace and confidence that everyone expects. But, I am afraid of the consequences if I don’t.

I feel trapped. Trapped by circumstances and by the walls that have been built up over time. I want to run, but I can’t. And, I am a little afraid of what the next moment will bring.

Friday, July 22, 2011


It has been a couple of weeks since I have been able to participate in 5 Minute Friday but it seems like a great way to start today. :) Here goes...


My head is full of all kinds of thoughts today. It's not uncommon. With two teenagers and a child with a visual processing disorder there are always a lot of things going on. Things I need to remember, things I need to do, things I want to do...

I wish I had one of those things Dumbledore had in the Harry Potter movies where he could remove his thoughts and store them to make room to think. Sometimes full means not having room to move.

But I am also full of good memories this week. Our trip to Cedar Point, a good week at work, thoughts of good friends, excitement for a day off.

Full is good. Satisfied. Complete. As long as it is with good things. Refreshing things. Rejuvenating things.


Hmmm. I am not sure where that was headed. I have a feeling I will be processing that on and off all day. I think that is one of my favorite things about writing. Processing. Taking a thought and exploring it. Thanks to Gypsy Mama for making me think outside the box. :)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Not Okay

Today has been a terribly emotional day for me. I am sure part of it has to do with the physical issues I have struggled with this week, but I think most of it has to do with the fact that slowing down brought me to a place of honesty that I had not been to in a long time. A place of honesty with myself.

I realized that I am alone. I know that I have family and friends, but sometimes even in their midst, I have come to depend on the walls that I have created to protect myself. And, while those walls do their thing to protect me, they keep me from making connections - life giving connections - with others. Pretty humorous considering my position at PCC.

I thought I was past this. I really did. Post Serbia I have tried really hard to open up and to allow myself to be who I am with others. And then, it happened. I was made aware of some hurtful things and the walls began to rebuild - brick by brick - until I feel like an outsider even with my friends. It's lonely.

I see my friends hanging out together, laughing and sharing, and I long to be a part of it. But I am afraid. I have a few friends, close friends, lifetime friends, who know me and love me anyway, but I have pulled away from them as well. Much of that has to do with time and distance, but I miss them. I really miss them.

I believe it comes down to choices. All of it. I have the choice to feel lonely or to reach out. I have the choice to join in the fun or to wait for an invitation that may or may not come. I have a choice to let the hurt bury me or to stand with what I know to be true and let the rest go. God has given me that choice. Just as he has given me the choice to live with Him or without Him. He has given me the choice to find my security in Him or in others. But I will be honest, sometimes having my security in Christ is still lonely when I feel separated from those around me.

Sometimes knowing the truth has its downfalls. I wish there was some truth, some bit of wisdom, that would be new to me and would make everything better. But, I have walked with Christ long enough to know that He is my strength. He is my shepherd. He is my security. He is my Father. He loves me no matter what. He will always be there for me. He feels my hurt and my pain. He knows me better than my self, and He loves me anyway. He has a plan for me that includes hope. I want to walk in those truths. I know them to be true. I just wish they were as much a part of my heart as they are a part of my head.

I am tired of struggling. It's not okay. There are days when I want to give in and retreat, but I realize that as lonely as I feel today, I am no where near where I was a year ago. And I never want to go back to that place. I was okay then - or so I thought. I had learned to manage my walls in such a way that I never had to face the difficult or the hurtful. I never had to face anything.

We sang a song in Serbia by The Afters, Never Going Back to OK. One of the verses states:

...I'm stepping out
and I feel so afraid
but as long as I am moving it's all right...

I am trying to hold on to that. One step at a time. And hopefully it is a step in the right direction because I never want to go back to ok. At least not the ok of a year ago. For now, I am not okay - and while that is NOT ok, I guess it is better than that alternative because I know that God isn't finished with me yet. Still growing. Still learning. Learning to feel again. Learning to trust again. Is that ok?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


As I sat in a waiting room today, I was listening to a story about how important it is, especially for women, to be able to separate their work life from their home life. The journalist was discussing the underlying feelings of guilt that woman has when she is trying to balance her roles as a wife, mother and employee. She ended her story with the following suggestions:

1. Learn to use the word "no" and realize that it can be a sentence - no explanation necessary.
2. Choose a set time when you turn off your cellphone and laptop and stop doing any other work related things and walk away.

There may have been a third. I don't remember, because I was sidetracked by the humor in a female journalist that actually seemed to think those suggestions would go a long way toward solving the problem.

Don't get me wrong. I understand the necessity of turning off work mode. I just think that is a bit over-simplistic. I can turn off my work laptop, not check my phone, and pretend that no one in my office exists, and I will still be thinking about what I did or didn't get accomplished, whether what I have accomplished in a day is "enough," and working through the details of something that I am "oh, so close" to getting finished.

Of course, it works both ways. I can leave my house, get in my car, and get ready to face my work day and I will still be thinking about what I did or didn't get accomplished at home, whether what I accomplished before I left is "enough," and working through the details of something that I would really, really like to getting finished at home.

I will admit that I am much better at drawing the line than I used to be. I would like to say it is because I made a conscious decision to "make 'no' a sentence," but that would be a lie. It is because my boss saw that I was dangerously close to burn-out and made me promise to adhere to a few boundaries even when I didn't want to.

I am thankful for his leadership in that. I don't think I realized when I started as a ministry assistant how engrained in the ministry of the church I would become. I have been employed in both secular and religious fields throughout my career. I have worked as a legal secretary, a human resources assistant, an administrative assistant to the General Superior of a convent (and no, I am not, nor have I ever been, Catholic), assistant to the director of engineering at a computer-aided design firm, and now as a ministry assistant to many of the adult ministries of our church. Never have I been able to fully shut out my professional life from my home life, but it has never been more difficult than when I am in ministry.

Today, I have been somewhat sidelined by some unexpected physical limitations, but as I have been forced to rest this afternoon, I have come face to face with the fact that I have once again been getting a little too close to the edge of blurring the lines. It is kind of like the old saying of "being so heavenly minded that you are no earthly good" - only with a twist.

I have been so busy trying to minister here on earth that I have been neglecting the "heavenly minded" part. You see, God knows that my brain is spaghetti. He created me that way. He knows that I can't do ministry 8:45-2:45 and then shut off that part of my brain and do family from 2:46-8:44. Not happening. But He provides still waters that He wants me to lie down beside. He provides strength when I am weary. He provides rest for my soul. But in order for me to take advantage of these things, I need to spend time with Him. Certainly, I need to pray, but I also need to read the Bible and other stories of people who have struggled in some of the same areas I struggle yet have come out on the other side stronger.

It amazes me how God continues to place the right people in our path in unexpected ways to provide just what we need. This past weekend, my husband and I were invited last minute to attend a marriage retreat. The first session speaker talked about the importance of self-care and finding rest and refreshment in God. He reminded us that even though Jesus was fully God, He wasn't called to heal the entire world while He was here on earth. There were times when even He went to a quiet place to rest and be refreshed. When I heard the message, I didn't realize how applicable it would be for me this week. But God knew. How amazing is that?

I know this is a bit long, but I have to add a funny story that happened while I was writing this post. My husband came into the room where I was writing. He had been playing video games with my sons for an hour or two. He was reading a text on his phone and the first words out of his mouth were, "Oh, I forgot about work." How does he do that????!!!!! :)

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Perils of Being on Church Staff

I missed 5-Minute Friday this week, and while I am a little sad, my reason for missing was a really good one. I was at a marriage retreat - a marriage mentor retreat to be exact. The care ministries department at PCC sponsored the retreat as a training session for current marriage mentors as well as an introduction for those who might be interested in becoming part of the team. They also invited a few couples to come and just evaluate the format of the retreat for a potential church-wide marriage retreat next year. We were one of those couples.

As we discussed whether or not to accept the invitation, Jay told me that he had been wondering why we were not already marriage mentors. I can't say that his question came completely out of the blue, but I was a little surprised. He had never mentioned it before. I also was wondering if we should we consider getting involved, especially since we were going to be taking advantage of the retreat.

As I thought about the commitment though, I realized that I was in danger of falling into what I think is one of the biggest perils of being part of a church staff. You see, as a member of the staff, you get to hear about all the really cool things that are going on in every ministry of the church. You get to hear the stories of people who are touched by what is offered, and you get to hear the passion and heart of those who are leading those ministries. I think it is sometimes easy to get swept into adding "just one more thing" to an already full plate. Maybe that is a generalization. Maybe it is just me, but I don't think so.

I sat and watched today as couples came alive as they shared about mentoring. There was a spark. A definite calling. It was an excitement about ministry that is fueled by a love for what they do and those whom they serve. And while I hate to say it, I think it is something that sometimes gets lost among those of us whose are lucky enough to get paid to serve in the church. It's not that we aren't passionate, or that we do not love our church or our God, but I think we sometimes get so caught up in "git 'er done" mode that we lose some of the joy of working from a place of passion. We fall into the mentality that we don't do it, it won't happen - which in all honesty sells God a little short. It's like we don't believe that God can provide someone who IS passionate about it, so we have to do it ourselves.

Would Jay and I make good mentors? I don't know. Possibly. But, are we called to it? I don't think so. At least not right now. And that is okay. It's not that we are uninvolved or not committed, actually it is just the opposite. I am very passionate about my job as a ministry assistant, and supporting the ministries that I serve. Jay and I are both involved in small groups and other ministries of the church, and I think for right now, that is enough.

I am so blessed to have been part of this weekend. We had a ton of laughs, made some new friends, reconnected with some old friends and learned a little bit about ourselves and God. So, although I missed 5-Minute Friday, I can tell you that I am grateful that I was able to spend the weekend with such a amazing group of people whose hearts beat to strengthen marriages at PCC. And, I am grateful for the courage to say "no" to something good so that I will have something better - passion and energy for those ministries that I currently serve. I love what I do, and I am grateful to be part of such a wonderful church staff - perils and all.

Friday, July 1, 2011

5 Minute Friday - Welcome

Woo hoo! It's Five Minute Friday again. :) This is only my second, but they are fun for me because even I don't know what I am going to say! Today's topic - welcome.


Welcome to my world. It is a bit crazy right now, but then again it is always a bit crazy. With 3 boys there is never a dull moment. My oldest is going to be 18 - which is also crazy by the way. My middle is in the midst of the hormone bursts that make him really sweet one minute and on the demon list the next. My youngest is just now growing into his personality. He always makes us laugh.

I would like to welcome you to my home, but it is a little messy. We have a rule that the house services us, we do not service the house, but sometimes the boys take that rule to the extreme. I am sure one day I will be able to get it "realtor clean" again, but it won't be any time soon.

I also welcome this holiday weekend. For me it will be 4 days, and I am so glad. I worked a few extra hours this week, and I am really looking forward to taking time to just be quiet for a little while. Those are the welcome moments that don't come along too often.


P.S. If you are new to "A Penny for My Thoughts" I want to welcome you as well. Feel free to stay awhile. :)