To The Moms Who Have Heard Those Three Words

We love those winning moments. Those ones that make you smile wide and jump high. Those moments that seem to say, “You did it.” and, “You got it right.” But then there are those moments that make you frown deep and lay low. Those ones that seem to say, “You can’t do it.” and, “Wrong again.”

Today I had a kid tell me he hated me. That was a first and I walked into my office feeling rather depleted. Were those words really meant or were they just a knee jerk reaction from an angry little being because I had dared to say, “No.”

“I hate you.” I’ve never heard a child say that in real life before. Television and movies? Yes. Storybooks and songs? Yes. Real life? No. But I know parents all around the world struggle with little beings who sometimes say those three words.

And as I’ve read through your mother’s day posts, I’ve thought a lot about all of you moms. You who have heard those three words and those of you who someday may hear them. I’ve thought about you moms who have kids who dump glue on rugs, throw chairs and break crayons (all of which happened today in kids church). I’ve thought about you moms with high anxiety children and you moms who are at a loss at what to do with your little beings who carry bursts of energy and bursts of anger. I’ve thought about those of you who now have kids in college and those of you who have kids that are now moms. I’ve thought about you moms who have lost a child and you moms who feel like you’re losing yours. I’ve thought and prayed for all of you and all I can say is, thank you. Thank you for daring to take care of those little beings of all ages and in all stages. Thank you for loving them even in the hardest of moments, because I’ve gotten to meet several of your ‘little beings’; some younger than me and some older and I have to tell you, even though words are said and things are broken, your kids adore you and I adore that.

I asked several Radiant Kids today what their favorite thing about their mom is. And they had ALL kinds of things to say:

“She feeds me.”
“She is stylish.”
“She does my laundry.”
“I don’t have a favorite thing because I love everything about her.”

So to the moms who have heard those three words, here are three more:

You. Are. Amazing.

Press on, and happy mother’s day!

coffee2

 

 

 

 

 

Dear friends entering their first year in full-time ministry,

As the university year comes to an end, many of you are preparing to walk across the stage you’ve stared at for four years. Some of you have already walked that stage and are now getting ready to jump in. If that is you, if you are walking or have already walked, hi. I couldn’t be more thrilled for you to begin your first year in full-time ministry. It is a job like none other. It is unpredictable and wild and terrifying and wonderful.

By the end of this month, I will have officially finished my first year in full-time ministry (which is an unbelievable concept to me). And as April quickly comes to a close, I’ve spent the last few weeks reminiscing over my first year and am so thankful I’ll never have a first year in ministry again. Because although it is both transforming and powerful, ministry can also be incredibly hard.

Here are seven things I’ve learned this year and by no means have I mastered. I pray in some ways this helps you as you begin the adventure of a lifetime.

Take it slow. New can be exciting both for you and for the ministry team you join, but don’t rush into change. Be okay with steady. Be okay with taking your time to understand your area of ministry and those you will be working with. I didn’t take it slow enough. From the minute internship ended I ran full force and most days feel as if I’ve never stopped running. Don’t run. Walk or at least jog.

The tasks will still be there a year from now. Believe me.

Be patient with yourself. Some of you may be headed to a familiar place or landing in a town with familiar faces, but to those of you who are headed to unfamiliar territory with unfamiliar faces, be patient with yourself. It may take you a year (or longer) to learn street names and find your way to Home Depot and back without a GPS. You will not know everyones names nor their family tree within your first year. You will frustrate people because you won’t know that so and so shouldn’t have been put in a group together because they have ‘history.’ And you will get frustrated with yourself because you wish you did. Michigan is becoming more like home to me but some days I still feel so far behind with much to learn. But rather than be frustrated with my lack of knowledge I am learning to be patient as I learn. Be patient with yourself too.

You don’t know everything. I often joke with my team that I have no idea what I’m doing. Yes, I have a degree in ministry but by no means do I consider myself an expert in it. The job is still very new to me and it will be for you too. Sure, you may have gone on mission and ministry trips or traveled with the school band, worked at camps and completed your internship, but full-time ministry is a different kind of animal. Not knowing everything wasn’t and isn’t a hard concept for me to grasp, the hard part about the not knowing is not letting it defeat me. I’ve made mistakes, failed in areas, and could give you a list of things I wish I’d done differently (and that’s only year one!), but I’m continuing to learn and read and ask questions. You should too. ESPECIALLY ask questions. Oh, and fight the need to defend yourself. Work for the Lord, not for people. NEVER lose sight of HIS vision and HIS mission. 

Take time to rest. Out of all the spiritual disciplines learned at university, this was the one I heard the most on. Friends, those professors were and are not kidding. If you do not take the time to be still and know that God is God, you will burn and it will show. Ministry is not a nine to five job so you have to be strategic and set aside time to rest. Your soul will thank you and your team will too. The moments I am the least like Jesus are always traced back to a lack of rest in Him.

Know when to say, “Not now.” We hear all the time that we have to learn when to say, “No.” True, but in ministry there are certain things you can’t say no to because they simply must get done. So instead, I am learning how to say, “Not now.” Knowing your limitations isn’t laziness, it’s wisdom. Sort through the need to get done list and decipher what needs to get done now or later. You might be surprised how much falls into the later category. Everything you hope to accomplish in your area of ministry will not get done over night and that’s okay!

If you are single, love yourself and do not fall into the guilt trap. We are a people created to do life together and when you find yourself doing parts of life alone, well, that can be lonely. Know this, there will be people who point out your singleness and see it as something to fix. Being single is not bad or wrong, it’s a season to walk through with grace and adventure and a season to embrace yourself. But know this, there will be people who are married with children who will look at you with envy because you are single and can essentially ‘do what you want.’ Do not feel the need to prove them wrong and do not feel guilty because you haven’t started a family of your own. Love yourself. Embrace yourself. Honestly, this was an unexpected thing to process through and probably has been (and rather surprisingly) one of the toughest for me. But we are loved by a God who is rooted deep in love. Grow in that.

And lastly, catch those moments. Ministry is a job like none other. There are days I walk out the doors and think, “Wow. God, You are good.” And there are days I walk out the doors and think, “God, I can’t do this.” Because although ministry is wild and wonderful, it is unpredictable and terrifying and comes with an unbelievable amount of pressure. It can be painful and lonely. It can make you angry and deeply sad. You can be both loved and disliked by the people you lead and you can wrestle with loving and disliking yourself. But if you catch those moments, those incredibly powerful moments when Jesus meets you in the, “God, You are good.” and in the, “God, I can’t do this.”, you’ll find full-time ministry to be one of the most rewarding boats you have ever jumped in. You’ll find that ministry is so much more than yourself and what you know and don’t know or what you do and don’t do. If you rest in those moments, you’ll find lives will be transformed and yours will be too.

Let me share a ‘catching moment‘: the last few weeks I’ve spent my nights simply wrestling with the Lord and some realities in my life and then on Sunday, a moment happened. There on a stage in front of hundreds of watching people, Jesus showed up and said, “I’ve overcome it. I’m alive and I’ve overcome it.” Catch moments like that. Moments when Jesus shows up in the midst of your chaos and leaves you weeping in His presence because He IS alive. That’s what ministry is all about. Don’t lose sight of that. It’s not about you, it’s about Christ in you. Live that. Share that. Teach that.

13767383_645110382318047_1668309213111249091_o

Oh, and don’t forget to have fun. Find friends and go to the movies and eat dinner at nine o’ clock at night. I haven’t done fun too well this year, so here’s to the next! May we learn and grow and live full and full of joy in Him as we do!

 

 

Your still learning ministry friend,

Patricia

Kid, It’s Going To Be Okay

So often we are uncomfortable with slow. Slow somehow seems wrong. Wasteful. Pointless. Because who wants slow when you can have fast? The instants and quick fixes. The next day shipping and restaurants you can drive thru.

My soul wishes for slow but my flesh aches for fast. It wants the answers now and not later. It wants the broken pieces to be remolded in this moment not in a month. I want the next thing because the now thing seems too unknown and messy.

______________________________________________________________

We’ve been in a teaching series at Radiant Life titled Awaken 21. A series focused on three prayers: search me, break me, awaken me. Truthfully, I’ve wrested with them all, but break me? That one shakes me. I think more-so than the others because I taught the week we explored it. I slept with that message. I went on walks with it. I drove down back roads and found old picnic tables and ate with it. I prayed over it. I cared for it. I loved it, and it wrecked me.

It wrecked me because I don’t want to go there. I don’t want to talk about the things I hold higher than Jesus. I don’t want to share the deeper and hidden pieces in my heart. I know some of them too well and to share them, is to lay them down. And I don’t want to explore those places and those things I refuse to lay before Him.

Yet, I found myself going there. There on the stage waiting for all other noise to stop, and then it does. That’s the scariest part of it all. The silence before you begin. The moment you look out into the crowd and wonder if anything you say is going to make any sense at all. Wondering if Jesus will meet with them and if He will meet with you, because Lord knows you need Him too.

And somehow He does as you stumble through your words.

One service down. One to go. 

In between services, after fixing microphone and kid ministry dilemmas, I headed for the copy room, both as slowly and as quickly as I could. I held onto the edge of the counter and cried, “God, don’t make me go there again. Don’t make me get up on that stage and say all of that again.”

Yet, I found myself there again. Two services down. None to go. And I’ve never wanted to leave a building so fast in my life. “God, why did you make me do that?”

________________________________________________________________

I’ve continued to wrestle with my need to run. My desperation to get away and not talk about it. I’ve prayed and sought God on that and it’s come down to this: my soul wishes for slow but it aches for fast. This broken stuff, can’t it just be fixed and made new now? I know the answer is no, because all healing takes time. But as much as I didn’t want to go there, I certainly don’t want to go there slowly. I’d rather go there and be done with it. But God says, “Go there and stay there until I’m done with it.”

cropped-12768391_575580892604330_631067968804145124_o1.jpgI spoke about this journey of breaking the things we hold higher than Jesus. I asked the question, “Do you trust God enough to pray, break me?” Break me of those things I hold higher than You. I begged the question more for me than them because at the time, I wasn’t sure I did.

But when you’re in His presence, you learn truth and are lead to see the bigger picture, and the biggest thing I need to be broken of, is my brokenness. The stuff I can’t change and couldn’t control. The stuff of my life that dictates my identity. My relationships. My job. My heart. The stuff that I pile in rags, hoping no one will see. I need to take those piles and lay them at His feet rather than hide them in my closet as if they were tattered tokens claiming my right to stay broken.

Friends, we have no right to hold brokenness as a trophy when Jesus died to make us whole. That truth makes me trust Him enough to pray, break me.

_________________________________________________________

I’m still processing through this series and the process is going slowly. But slow isn’t wrong. It isn’t wasteful. It isn’t pointless. And I’m okay that. I hope you are too. I hope you take the time to talk with Jesus and wrestle through the tough stuff even if the wrestling is slow and uncomfortable. Often, it is in the slow God is able to meet us.

I spent Monday morning in the copy room working and reflecting on my child-like ‘but I don’t wanna’ tantrum from the day before. I wanted to hide then too but Jesus walked in and said, “Kid, it’s going to be okay. Break. We’ll remake. But it’s going to take time. Just trust. Break. Pour. If the now thing is remade and resting in Me, the next thing is going to be so much richer because it isn’t going to be resting in You.”

So here’s to breaking. May we wrestle and may He win.

 

 

 

 

 

When all you want to do is go home, eat a pizza and watch Netflix

Let’s be real. We usually do not want to go there. There to those incredibly vulnerable places that expose our hearts and how insane we really are. Okay, maybe insane is a strong word, but you know those places in you that make you cringe.

I woke up cringing. Cringing because the enemy is real and he plays tricks and lies and convinces us that we are no better than those places.

And too often we have believed him.

Too often we sit in corners and say, “I’m done.”

Too often we look at our jobs and say, “I’m not the one for this.”

Too often we look at relationships and say, “What’s the point?”

Too often we give in or up and we quit.

So I’m going to go there. There to that incredibly vulnerable place that exposes my heart and how insane I really am (perhaps insane really isn’t that strong of a word after all).

I work at a church. My job title includes the word pastor. I am seen as a spiritual leader and mentor and am expected to live out my faith in Jesus because we are to lead by example. But let’s be real. Sometimes, I’m not a great leader. Some days, I’m the last person who should mentor. And some weeks, I have crazy talks with Jesus because my faith has its shaky moments.

walking3

Confession. There have been times I’ve been at the church, but I wasn’t actually there. I wasn’t there because my mind had drifted to, “I really just want to be at home in my pajamas, eating a pizza and watching Netflix, because that would be easier.” There have been times I’ve walked into a meeting confident and self-assured but only an hour prior I had been weeping on the floor because I didn’t want to lead or know how too. There have been times I’ve walked on stage reciting or teaching when I really just wanted to be hiding under a pew sleeping. There have been times I’ve taught kids at our church about perseverance and love when I was in a giving up place and hating everything.

These are the moments that make me cringe because these are not moments I am proud of. And these are the moments the enemy uses to convince my heart and my soul and my mind, that I should just go home and eat a pizza because what difference am I really making for the kingdom?

But Jesus is greater and His grace is abundant. And at the end of the day, THAT truth wins over any insane thing the enemy uses to keep us up at night.

Ephesians 6:10-13 says, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

The enemy is real. And it doesn’t matter your role or your age, he will scheme and he will play games with you. With that truth, we’ve got to stand firm in the Lord’s strength and not our own because that’s when we curl in corners and hide. And with that truth, we’ve got to pray. We’ve got to pray for our friends and our families and we’ve got to pray for our bosses and our leaders.

The church I work at has had incredible growth and Jesus is so evident. But along with that, comes great responsibility. The enemy isn’t fond of that and is attacking and this is why I woke up cringing and this why we must pray. Pray for our pastors: Ryan, Josh, JB, and myself. Pray for our secretary (Sally) and all of Radiant Life’s leaders and volunteers and its people and their families. We pray to lead my example, but we have our moments of, “Can we really do this?” In Jesus name, we can. And in Jesus name, you can.

And hey, in Jesus name, eat pizza and watch Netflix, but may those moments be enjoyed knowing that by the Spirit we do not have to run and by wearing the right armor, we are an unstoppable force.16804645_765697993592618_817478650_o

To those of who don’t treat followers of Jesus as if they have the plague

How can I, on behalf of fellow believers (and pastors), thank you? How can I thank you for not pretending to be who you are around us? How can I thank you for not being afraid to share those moments with us. You know, those moments you call un-christian, but I call, still learning and living and figuring things out.

I’m not sure how to thank you, but I do.

I thank you for not whispering when I walk by because you partied a little too hard last night and don’t think I would approve. I don’t believe in Jesus to condemn or judge you. I believe in Jesus so I can walk beside you and love you.

Thank you for not changing your language when I walk in the room because, although I appreciate the thought, I’ve heard plenty of cuss words before. I don’t choose to speak like that, but I won’t unfriend you because you do.

Thank you for sharing your disbelief and doubt without degrading my belief and faith. Thank you for sharing that moment you smoked weed or that moment you were arrested. Thank you for sharing those imperfect pieces of you without saying I wouldn’t understand. And thank you for letting me pray over you without thinking I’ve completely lost my mind.

Thank you for not leaving when I sit down because you know faith is going to end up in the conversation. Thank you for not rolling your eyes when my advice is rooted in scripture. Thank you for respecting my faith and my job and the mission I have been called to. Thank you for treating me as a person and not some whack job who needs pshycological help (although, I wouldn’t argue, I have my moments).

Yes, followers of Jesus want to live like him. Jesus who was all about edifying and speaking life into people. Jesus lived kind and chose his words carefully. But Jesus was real about it. He didn’t separate himself from those around him because his lifestyle was different. Although he was the Savior, he didn’t wave that title in the air to make those around him feel like terrible people. No, from tax collectors to prostitutes, Jesus walked with them. Teaching and loving and leading. And lives were transformed and relationships were grounded in something deeper than mistakes or differences.

So thank you for walking with us.

As a follower of Jesus, my heart is not to wave a christian flag to make you feel like any lesser of a person. I want to learn and teach and love and lead. And above all, I want to share this Jesus I have come to know and love, but I want to be real with you about it. And I want you, believer or not, to be real with me too. So you had a margarita the other night and you gamble the heck out of those scratch tickets. I drink waaaaay too much coffee and I cross my fingers when my favorite team is playing.

Yes, I realize it’s not the same. But that’s the point.

None of us are the same. Believer or not. We all have our quirks and failings and we all have our addictions and moments we regret.

Now, there are some who will read this and think I condone what you call un-christian, I’m not saying that nor is that even the point of this piece. What I’m saying is, we live in a world where we allow differences to separate too much. Jesus said, “Be in the world, not of it.” And that is why I thank you. I thank you for allowing me (us) into your world. I thank you for not separating me (us) from you, leaving you to feel as though you have to be perfect and pretend.

Real talk, the word perfect should never be in the same sentence as me. My title at the church even ends in Pastor and I am still learning and living and figuring things out. I mess up. And honestly, there are moments when you are probably more a follower of Jesus than I am! img_20170205_215028_163Even Jesus followers get hurt. We get angry. We have our un-christian moments (trust me). But I believe Jesus walks alongside even when 0ur lifestyles don’t line up with his. And he is always teaching and loving and leading, believer or not.

So to those of who don’t treat followers of Jesus as if they have the plague, thank you. Thank you for not running away when we walk in. Thank you for being real and honest. Those are two qualities you share with Jesus. And in my book, that’s pretty rich.

 

 

 

That Thing Called Grace

It doesn’t make sense. I mean, it’s not how we imagined it. We thought it would different. In fact, we didn’t even think we could receive it, let alone live it out or believe in it.

It. That thing called grace.

And yet here we are dwelling in the presence of Him. Him who knows, I mean, really knows, where we’ve been. And He loves us still.

refreshThat should still us.

That should still us in light and that should still us in dark because, Yahweh. The Great I Am meets us in those places. Those places we desperately need refreshed. Healed. Loved. Forgiven. The Great I Am meets us in those places because He is above the vastness of them all. And even with knowing all, He says, “I will never leave or forsake. So be still for I am still with you.”

Yahweh. The Lord God is above it all. He is the voice above the waters so when their waves begin to crash, He speaks, “Peace.” And when the wilderness shakes our very foundations He pours water again and again so we are made new and stand strong.

For He is peace to our fear and strength to our weakness. He is Hope to our holes and He is Healer so we can be made whole.

Yahweh. Holy. Holy is the Lord. Worthy to be praised. Yahweh.

It doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense that He who is holy would draw us in and would dwell within us.

Yahweh? Calling us closer? That’s grace.

 

16298780_1932099760346034_3171383134779168600_n

Photo Cred: Steve Klinger

 

Jesus, You fill us with light and Father, You fill us with wonder. Wonder at the sound of rocks pouring out Your praise and wonder at the mountains bowing down before You. So we pour out praise and we bow down before You, alive in Your name and held in Your grace

Yahweh. Holy. Holy is the Lord. Worthy to be praised. Yahweh.

Finding Rest In The Midst Of Crazy

Sometimes, life can feel as though you live in an extremely loud vortex. A realm blended with countless unknowns and a whole lot of crazy. Between your work, your family and all the in-betweens, that thing can be hard to find.

And I’m not good at that thing called rest.

And you’re probably right there with me.

In University, us students were taught to rest. I often sat with professors wanting to learn how to do that. How does one rest when the to-do list just keeps getting longer or when expectations never seem to be met. And as you might ask, how does one do that when the laundry is piled sky-high or when the kids you just bathed got into the flour and now look like frosty?

Easy answer? Just say ‘no.’ I know, what kind of answer is that?

Particularly in the field of ministry, this rest thing is complicated. As Pastors, we fight with that more than most things because nothing ever seems to be done. And to be honest, since being hired as a Pastor I’ve had more conversations with God about finding rest than I think I’ve talked to Him about anything else.

My problem isn’t that I have a family to keep me busy when I’m not working at the church, my problem is that when I go home, I don’t have anyone telling me to stop and so I don’t. Because if I stop, I’m afraid I won’t meet the deadlines. Or if I do, I’m worried that what I bring to the table will fall flat. Now I don’t write that for people to feel sorry for me or as a subtle way to ask for help. I write that because truthfully, I’m a terrible rester (which, I’m not sure is even a word).

And that’s no one else’s fault but my own.

However, we are commanded and taught to rest.

“The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves.” [Mark 6:30-32]

Jesus. Now there is a guy who understood the importance of stewarding your time and making room for rest.

Yesterday I blew the whole rest thing. So today, my goal was to blow off the whole work thing. And for the most part, I did, but sometimes things are inevitable. Sometimes you cropped-12768391_575580892604330_631067968804145124_o1.jpghave tasks to do on Fridays at six and on Saturdays at two. Important, rest isn’t about being neglectful, it’s about being wise and making space to refuel. 

So when given the opportunity, I jumped in the jeep. Bought a coffee. Plugged in my favorite music. Opened my rooftop window. And just drove. I didn’t have a destination. I didn’t need one. But eventually, I sat on a park bench in the quiet, hearing nothing but rushing water, chirping birds, blowing winds and then Jesus. And when you say no to everything else and say yes to Jesus, you find the greatest of resting places, because His presence IS rest. And when you rest, you refuel.

Relax. Refresh. Recover. Reconvene. Repeat.

So to those of you who too often find yourself afraid to rest, just say no. Every once in a while say no to the laundry and to the kid who rolled in the flour. And say yes to the one who tells you to rest.

I’m slowly learning rest is a choice and that it’s okay to say, “No, I just can’t do that right now. But after I get a bit of rest, I can rock that out in no time.” And nine times out of ten, what I produce after rest is a thousand times better than anything I’ve produced without rest.