Don’t be afraid to be basic! Life lesson from Dr. Seuss’ book ​HOP ON POP! We

Don’t be afraid to be basic! Life lesson from Dr. Seuss’ book ​HOP ON POP!

“Sometimes the questions are difficult but the answers are simple.” Dr. Seuss

HOP ON POP is a book that encourages early readers to read alone. It’s a simple book that includes rhyming in a fun and colorful easy to read way. So, why would I ask you to read a book that was written for early readers? Good question. Thanks for asking! Don’t be fooled. HOP ON POP is not so easy that it fails to teach us a powerful lesson about the importance of the basics in life.

There are times in all of our lives when we want to throw in the towel. We want to give up when we hit a plateau in our weightloss, our mental health begins to spiral down, the career we have given everything to has taken a turn for the worse, our family is facing challenging times and most importantly our relationship with God is drifting. What do we do when we feel moving forward is not possible but we don’t want to make giving up an option? We press on by going back to the basics. We go back to what helped us get started in the first place.

In Junior High I was taking a math class. I was really struggling with the concept of Integers. A concept that now is no problem at all. However, during this class I hit a point where I could not go forward until I grasp the concept of integers. I remembered in Elementary school that my math teacher in 1st grade would teach us songs that helped us understand basic math concepts. I decided to go on youtube and research songs about integers. I found one. It worked! I was suddenly able to make this math concept make sense in my head. Had I not went back to a basic idea learned in the 1st grade I might have never been able to move forward in the class. Some of my Junior High classmates laughed at the idea when I sang one of the songs in class. However, during a test later that week I watched as one sang the song under their breath and another seemed to be moving to the sound in his head during the test.

For those dying to know, here is the link to the integer song! I did not write this song! https://youtu.be/hz_ndxvJzws

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

Keep this verse in mind when you struggle. No matter how difficult your struggle know that with His strength you can accomplish so much. What area of your life do you feel you are struggling to move forward in? In what way can you go back to the basics? Don’t give up but instead make a list of what helped you get started in the first place and go back to that. I struggle with anxiety. I noticed that I have times that are really good for me and times when I struggle a little more. I’ve learned that when I am in a season of anxiousness I have to go back to when it all begin. I go back to the small steps I first took. Those basics for me are slowing down in life, trusting God more, looking at my diet and how what I’m eating is affecting my anxiety, making a list of all the good in my life and there have been times when calling my doctor was needed. What are the basics for you? Maybe you have found yourself at a stopping point and you can’t move forward. When life becomes overwhelming simply break it down into small basic steps. Don’t be afraid to be basic!

Trusting God in the waiting place! Life lesson from Dr. Seuss’ book, Oh The Places You’ll Go!

Trusting God in the waiting place! Life lesson from Dr. Seuss’ book, Oh The Places You’ll Go!

“Everyone is just waiting.” -Dr. Seuss

In the book, Oh The Places You’ll Go, we are taken on the colorful up and down adventures of life. We read about good days and bad days. Good friends and bad friends. Ups and downs. Fun times and times of hard work. It’s the perfect book for really any reader of any age. I was challenged by the section of the book that referred to a waiting place.

THE WAITING PLACE

by Dr. Seuss

“Waiting for a train to go or a bus to come, or a plane to go or the mail to come, or the rain to go or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow or waiting around for a Yes or No or waiting for their hair to grow. Everyone is just waiting. Waiting for the fish to bite or waiting for wind to fly a kite or waiting around for Friday night or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake or a pot to boil, or a Better Break or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants or a wig with curls, or Another Chance. Everyone is just waiting.”

This one excerpt challenged me to trust God in the waiting place.

Can we agree that Some days it is so challenging to trust God in the waiting place. When life is at a stand still. When you know there is more but you don’t have the opportunity to move. When your waiting on Him for direction. When life is overwhelming and you want answers. When God is telling you to stop and wait on Him but you just want to make a choice because any choice feels better then the waiting place feels. I challenge you to be patient in the waiting. Wait on God and His direction.

There are many seasons in life that have us in the waiting place. Do any of these sound familiar?

  1. Waiting for marriage.
  2. Waiting for a career to start.
  3. Waiting for that Job promotion.
  4. Waiting for the difficult season to end.
  5. Waiting to grow your family.

In the waiting place God is preparing us for the next chapter. He is preparing you to be the best wife/husband. He is preparing you to make a difference in your career. He is preparing you to take on the challenges that come with that job promotion. He is preparing you as a testimony when that friend comes along facing the same storm you are headed out of. He is preparing you to be a loving mom/dad. He is preparing you for the next chapter while you wait. The problem is we get so antsy in the waiting that we find it difficult to step back, breathe and allow God to do all this amazing preparation in us. My question for you is will you allow God to prepare you for all the places he wants to take you?

A year after my stepdad passed away I found myself still grieving. Jessie and I had been dating for a while. I could sense that he was fixing to ask me to marry him but I wasn’t ready. I began to push him away. I was hurting. I loved him but I couldn’t handle the anxiety of losing him too. I needed time to heal. I prayed one night. It’s better if I say, I begged God “please don’t let him ask.” A few years after that prayer when my heart was finally open he did ask. We were talking after his proposal and he shared with me the time he was going to ask a few years earlier. He was going to ask a year after my stepdad passed away. The same time I was begging God not to let him ask. Jessie told me that he had the money for the ring and the proposal planned. Then he felt God say “wait on me.” While he didn’t know why, Jessie still trusted God and waited. When he did finally get to ask my heart was more than ready. God spent those few years healing my heart and preparing it to be able to love without the fear of losing someone I cared so much about. It took Jessie trusting God even when he didn’t understand why God was saying to wait. He trusted God in the waiting and our story is so beautiful because of that trust.

God has so much planned for you. He has so many wonderful places to take you. Trust him. Trust that while your dreams, purpose, that healing your praying for seem so far away God is working to prepare you for the next chapter. Oh the places you will go if you just trust Him in the waiting place.

“But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

The fish and the Cat! Which voice will you listen too? Life lesson from Dr. Seuss’ book ​The Cat In The Hat!

The fish and the Cat!

Which voice will you listen too?

Life lesson from Dr. Seuss’ book ​The Cat In The Hat!

“He should not be here, ” said the fish in the pot. ” he should not be here when your mother is not.” ― D​r. Seuss

In the bookThe Cat In The Hat. ​It’s a rainy day and Sally and Conrad are bored. A cat who just so happens to be wearing a Hat walks into their home making a mess of everything. As soon as the cat walks in the kids are forced with a difficult decision. Should we let him stay or make him leave? Meanwhile their pet fish is trying to convince them that the cat should not be there. The fish is encouraging the kids to make the right decision by making the cat leave. Which voice will Sally and Conrad listen to? I like to picture Sally and Conrad as you and me. I picture the cat in the hat as the bad influence on one shoulder and the fish as the voice of God on the other shoulder. The fish is Jesus encouraging the kids to make the right decision while the cat in the hat is OK with pushing Sally and Conrad down the wrong path. At the end of the story The cat in the hat cleans up his mess and disappears before Mother gets back. The mess is covered up and mother will never know unless Sally and Conrad tell her. After reading this story to Ellie I am left with a powerful question; what voice will I respond to when faced with difficult decisions in life?

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them. And they follow me.” John 10:27 NLT

This is such a silly example. However, when I was in 5th grade we had this group of girls who bullied one specific girl in our class. One day, I saw them take her purse from her desk when she was out of the room and stick it in the trash. They tore paper out of their spirals and covered the purse in the trash so that the girl would not see it. I remember sitting on the edge of my seat, faced with the choice to do the right thing or ignore the situation altogether. I knew what the right thing to do was but I had another voice saying…

“It’s not your problem!”

“You didn’t do it.”

“It’s not your fault they don’t like her!”

“If you help her they might bully you!”

This voice was the voice I wanted to listen to. It seemed like the easy way out. However, I knew the other voice. The familiar voice. It was the voice of God and it was the voice I knew to be right. His voice made my stomach turn because I knew listening to it would be difficult but worth it. His voice was difficult to respond to but I knew it was right. This voice, God’s voice told me to go grab the purse and put it back in her desk. So I did! I rushed to the trash can. I pulled out the purse. I put it back in the desk. It was the hardest decision I had to make in the 5th grade. However, I knew it was the right choice. The girls gave me the death glare. Back then that glare terrified me to walk home. I knew my life was over. However, that decision I’ll never regret.

I’m sure you are facing much more challenging decisions in your life then my 5th grade problems with girl bullies. I sure have!!! There have been moments when I have chosen to listen to the wrong voice. I’ve made some huge mistakes in my life because I didn’t listen to what I was hearing from God. I am so thankful for a God who can see past my failures and still put me where He wants me in life. Listening to God’s voice is not always easy. His voice is right though! I Honestly believe we know the difference. In some way, we know when we are listening to the voice of God or following the voice we so desperately want to be right. I want to leave you with this…

Three ways we can hear His voice!

1. Through His word!

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” 2 Tim 3:16 NLT

2. Through Prayer!

“And we are confident that he hears us whenever we ask for anything that pleases him. ​ A​ nd since we know he hears us when we make our requests, we also know that he will give us what we ask for.” 1 John 5:14-15 NLT

3. Through conversation with other believers!

“When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” Romans 1:12 NLT

Taking Back our Thoughts: Life lesson from Dr. Seuss’ book The Thinks You Can Think.

Taking Back our Thoughts: Life lesson from Dr. Seuss’ book The Thinks You Can Think.

“Think left and think right Think low and think high Oh the thinks you can think if only you try.” Dr. Seuss

In the story, The Thinks You Can Think Dr. Seuss celebrates a child’s creativity. The story encourages a child to be creative with their imagination. However, if I could take it a step further I believe this book could also challenge all of us on a deeper level. This book challenges me to be watchful of my thoughts. Are my thoughts helping me or hurting me? Are my thoughts pleasing to Jesus?

The above quote reminded me of a similar scripture…

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” Philippians 4:8 NLT

Lesson:​ We have the power to choose what we think about. The way we think about ourselves, others and the world around us is up to us. We have the power to think positive. We have the power to hope for the best. We have the power to believe the best in others. We have the power to think about things that are good. We have the power to think thoughts that are good of ourselves. Honestly, most of our negative thinking is about ourselves. I know for me I need to change how I think about myself on a daily basis. I need to change what I think about! I often ask myself, If all my thoughts were listened to by others would I be proud of what is heard?

*If you have thoughts of wanting to harm yourself or others I encourages you to reach out to a doctor, a pastor, a friend, a teacher or a boss. REACH OUT TO SOMEONE! You do not have to face this alone. There is help for you and there is no shame seeking out that help.*

National Suicide Hotline Call 1-800-273-8255

One thing I am working on is story sharing. Sounds silly? Well… I recently noticed that when I read or hear a devastating or tragic story I tend to share it with others as a way to cope with the tragedy. Even though the story has no direct connection to me I still find myself dwelling on it and sharing it with others. I realized that this is of no help to anyone. It does not help me to consume my thoughts with whichever story it might be and it does no one else any good to be told the story so that I can process it. Here is what I have began doing.

1. If I hear or read a sad story I immediately STOP and PRAY for all who are involved in the story.

2. If I can help those involved I will.

3. Next I disconnect. I do not share it with anyone else and I do not continue to dwell on it.

4. Finally, If the story appears in my thoughts later in the day, I will again stop and pray for the individuals involved and I move on.

This is something I have to do in order to protect my thoughts. Others can hear and read sad stories and be just fine. I on the other hand struggle with letting the stories go and not trying to dissect every detail.

Challenge: ​It’s time we take back our thoughts. I want to encourage you to write down each negative thought that you have. After, find a positive thought, quote or scripture to replace the negative thought.

I put together a list of 5 common negative thoughts that we might face and a scripture to combat each one. I encourage you to create your own list as well. Enjoy!

Thoughts of Fear:

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Tim 1:7 NLT

Thoughts of feeling worthless:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Thoughts that say “I can’t do it”:

“Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26 NLT

Thoughts that say “I am alone”:

“So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. ​He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” ​Deuteronomy 31:6 NLT

Thoughts that say “I messed up too bad”:

“But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness.” 1 John 1:9 NLT

Smile! It happened… but there is more!

Smile! It happened… but there is more!

“Don’t cry because it’s over. Smile because it happened.” -Dr. Seuss

This quote from Dr. Seuss seemed so fitting. You know, Illinois is feeling a little more like home everyday. While I still find myself missing Texas and all the people and places I grew to love I’m just so thankful and happy that Texas happened. Texas was the beginning of Gods plan for our family’s future. It was a wonderful season. Texas is where God called our family to Illinois. That wonderful Texas part of our life is over but we smile. We smile because it happened and because it happened this new beautiful Illinois story can be written.

“For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest. A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance. A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace. What do people really get for all their hard work? I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-11

This season we are in is beautiful and I’m so thankful that God has had His hand in it. What season has come to an end in your life? Smile! That season ending is an open door to your next adventure! Just wait! You’ll see!

Why did I start with a Dr. Seuss quote? Read Across America starts this week. I have compiled five of Dr. Seuss’ books that teach us valuable life lessons. I will post a short and simple blog highlighting a different book by Dr. Seuss and it’s lesson each morning. Hope you will click the link and check it out. Below are a few pictures of Ellie and I enjoying Read Across America over the past two years! We get into it. To us it’s a pretty big deal. 😂

Candy Confident!

Candy Confident!

“This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!” 1 corinthians 5:17 (NLT)

Ellie loves to take the items out of the basket and put them on the conveyor belt. As we walk through the store she also enjoys taking things from the shelf and throwing them into the basket. Each shopping trip includes a lot of us saying. “No put that back. We are not paying for that”. She even helps us swipe the card at check out. She has quickly learned that you have to pay for what you take from the store and this means it has to go on the conveyor belt.

One day as we are checking out I notice the grocery clerk ring up two suckers and toss them in the bag. Jessie and I looked at each other confused then at Ellie who smiled her biggest smile. At some point she worked her magic and snuck the candy up on the conveyor belt. We never noticed her throw it in the basket much less put it on the conveyor belt. However, Ellie was confident that if she put the candy on the conveyor belt it would be paid for. This moment reminds of of a confidence we can have in Jesus. Let me go back a little further first.

One summer at kids camp I remember asking Jesus into my heart every night of that week. I was so scared that if I messed up, made a mistake, sinned and didn’t ask Jesus back into my heart that I would not get to go to heaven. I had this belief that you had to get saved every time you made a mistake. I wanted to go to heaven so badly. Truthfully I just wanted to stay out of hell. So, I knew my best bet was to run to the altar every night at Kids camp and invite or should I say beg Jesus into my heart. Of Course I now know that getting saved is not about a get out of hell free card it’s about a relationship with Jesus. However, as a child I had so much guilt of all the mistakes I made that I was terrified I was not good enough to know Jesus or be forgiven. I’m so thankful I now know that Jesus wants to know me. He wants to know you too. There are some things in our past that if we allow it to these things can really hinder us from truly know the love and forgiveness of Jesus. There are mistakes in your past that you are so ashamed of. You’ve made mistakes you regret and you haven’t completely forgiven yourself for. Many of us are not completely confident that Jesus has completely forgiven us of our sins. Stop living as if the sacrifice of Jesus was not good enough. Stop living with the guilt of every past mistake. I have good news! Jesus died to pay the price of our sins. It’s not complicated. When Jesus died on the cross He took our sins with Him. When you make Jesus the center of your life you no longer have to carry the weight of your sin. Your sin is covered. It is paid for in full.

“I—yes, I alone—will blot out your sins for my own sake and will never think of them again.” Isaiah 43:25 (NLT)

Why should you continue to feel guilt over a past that Jesus chooses to forget?

Just as Ellie put her candy on the conveyor belt confident that it would be paid for, we can be confident that the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross is enough to cover our sin.

The price of love!

The Price of Love ❤️

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19

It’s Valentine’s Day! The day we celebrate love. However, I don’t want to talk about the stereotypical love this day is made out to be. I want to talk about a love that changed my life forever. Let me go back to where it all began for me. It started with the Price family. They have loved me so much and have taught me so much more. As I go down memory lane I can’t help but share.  I know you will take away a lot of love lessons the Price family taught me throughout the years.

Dorothy

Dorothy and I were at yoga one evening when she noticed a tattoo on my foot. She screeched “what is that devils tail on your foot?” Her dramatic response reminds me of her dramatic love for me over the years. Her ability to love a child who is not her own the way she has loved me gives me hope and encourages me. I pray my love for others can be as dramatic as Dorothy’s love has been for me. After every ministry trip in Masters Commission there would be a welcome home note on my bed with a scripture. Often times there would be an encouraging note hidden in my bag to share with the whole team. I have kept every letter, every scripture and every ounce of wisdom she has poured into me. Dorothy was one of the first people I called after having Ellie. She marched up to the hospital at 11 at night with Taco Bell, cupcakes and so much love for Ellie. She was so excited. Watching her be Emmie to Ellie has been wonderful. She once told me the story of how she decided to talk to Wade about their family being my home opener. I’m sure I was the last character they expected to have knock on their door. She said she really felt God wanted her family to open their home to a student so they took a leap of faith and now I’m a half way normal person because of their obedience to Jesus. 😂 In the Bible Mary represents bravery and a servants heart. I think it is safe to say that Dorothy reminds me of Mary. Dorothy was brave to say the least by taking me in. To this day she continues to serve and love me as well as so many others. (Luke 1:26-56)
Take away: When Jesus calls you to do something even if it’s crazy – Do It! You never know the life you are changing because of your obedience. Never stop serving others. Dorothy’s obedience to God and service to me changed my life forever.

Wade

It was Mother’s Day. My first Mother’s Day. I of course choke on a hot dog. Wade comes to the rescue and saves my life. My ribs hurt for a week and I’m so thankful to him for that. Truth: I haven’t eaten a hotdog sense.  However, this moment reminds me of his deep love for his family. I truly believe the man would jump in front of a car for anyone. He loves Gods people. He loves relating to them and his home is always open to them. He even required that Jessie ask his permission before he asked me to marry him. He was there the day he proposed and he was willing to walk me down the aisle if I needed him. A year before jessie and I got married I asked Wade and Dorothy if I could move back in. Wade responded
“You can always come home.” (Wade, you will never fully understand the impact those words had on my life.) I think this is when I realized how much he loves me and that he counts me as family. I believe his family is strong in their faith and love for others because of him. He leads his family well. Wade reminds me of Moses, one of the greatest leaders in the Bible. Moses led the Egyptians out of Israel.  Wade leads his family toward God everyday and you can see the love of Jesus shine through him daily.
Take away: Be a leader. Lead others toward Jesus by the way you love.

Samuel

One day Sam was home sick from school. He was in the 5th grade. Dorothy had me go get him lunch. On the way back his chocolate shake spilt all over the car. I was already having a bad day and it was one of those moments that make everything worse. I walk into the kitchen and through my tears I explain what happened to the shake. He immediately said “it’s ok! I don’t need it. I’m not mad. You don’t have to cry.” He was so young but so understanding.
He saw that I was having an ugly cry moment and he chose to love me by showing compassion. David was a man after God’s own heart. I believe Sam is too. Sam truly wants to live the kind of life that shows the love of Jesus. (Acts 13:22)
Take away: Develop compassion for others. Understand that someone might be having a bad day and understanding this can change everything for them.

Anna

While getting ready to head out to Illinois I put on my warm and fuzzy banana socks (pictured above.) Pulling them over my pants Anna ask, “Are those bananas on your socks and are you wearing them pulled over your pants?”
To which I respond , “Yes! I decided since I walked into this house looking odd I thought I’d leave looking odd.” We both laughed. You’re probably confused. The truth is I had no sense of style when moving in. We still joke today about the outfit I showed up to their house in! I won’t go there. My style was so bad that Anna offered to let me borrow her clothes. A few days after the offer Dorothy told me that Anna never lets anyone borrow her clothes. I love that even in all my weirdness Anna accepted me just as Jesus welcomes all of us. I’m so thankful she didn’t judge me at first glance but she chose to see what could be. She chose to see my potential. In the Bible Ruth represents loyalty. Anna reminds me of Ruth. When I moved in I became family and Anna was loyal to treat me as family regardless of all my many many flaws.  (Ruth 1-4)
Take away: Don’t judge a book by its cover. Choose to see everyone’s true God given potential.

This is not the love that changed my life forever though. Jesus paid the ultimate price when He died on the cross for each of us. His love completely wrecked my world.

“For God so loved the world that He gave up His only son that whoever believes in Him will have eternal life.” John 3:16

However, I believe He chose to show His love for me through the Price family because He knew they would be Obedient to His call. He paid a huge price for His love for us. His love changed my life forever and the Price family, they demonstrate His love everyday. The Price family made His deep love for me make so much sense.

When we decided to rip the bandaid off and leave for Illinois it hurt. Tears flood my eyes as I remember hugging Dorothy and Wade. It hurt to leave two people who have poured so much love into my heart. God knew what He was doing when He made the Price family my home during my internship. He knew every single detail of all that I would need. Here is the thing. The Price family didn’t sit me down in front of a white board and give me 5 ways to Love well. They taught me what Jesus’ love looks like by showing it to me. I need you to know that Jesus loves you today and everyday. He loves you on your good days and your bad days. His love for you never changes. I’m forever grateful to the family who helped me discover this for myself. They are every bit of the family I pray we are to everyone who walks into our lives. If I could demonstrate just an ounce of the love they have shown me It would change the world. I will forever be thankful for God loving me so much that He has gifted me the opportunity to be loved by the Price family. All of this because He paid the price for love.

Five characteristics of a Kid approved children’s volunteer!

Five characteristics of a Kid approved children’s volunteer!

“ But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”Matthew 19:14 nlt

Before coming to Illinois I had a few people ask me what my part was going to be at New Life. Honestly my only plan was to show up, see where I could be used and wait on God to move. He moved at a quicker speed than I had expected.  I have recently been given the opportunity to oversee the children’s department at our New Life Washington campus. I am in my element to say the least. This is a dream I honestly never allowed myself to dream. It’s crazy how when you choose to follow God He makes the desires of your heart, the desires you never allowed yourself to have come alive. It’s crazy how when God calls your husband He is calling you too.  When presented with the opportunity I was excited. I never gave something like this more than one thought. I never imagined being enough for a position like this. I don’t have what it takes was my very first thought. I played around with the idea but honestly it took me a while to admit that this is something I am passionate about. At dinner with a friend, I couldn’t stop talking about ideas I have, things the kids deserve and ways we can encourage the volunteers. My friend said “You got to do this!!!”  I realized that night  that children are my heart. It’s funny because I called her to meet for dinner to discuss something coming up in the far off future but at some point during dinner God took over. He loves to be in charge! He changed our conversation. That was that! Here we are!  The truth is I’m not enough. No one in children’s ministry is ever enough but God is. I’m honored with this opportunity and I don’t take it lightly. I’m scared. I think I have that God fear thing people say you should have. I have so many fears running through my head. This position I have accepted is far bigger than me. I need Jesus!  Here is one thing I do know. After working with kids at church and school for the past 12 years I know a thing or two about what they approve of in a volunteer. They really aren’t too picky. I’ll start there. Here are 5 characteristics of a kid approved children’s volunteer.

1. A children’s ministry volunteer brings peace!

The church should be  a peaceful place a kid gets to go each week.

You get to be part of keeping it peaceful.

I was young in elementary school. We were handed a coloring sheet. I chose one color and scribbled all over the paper. Maybe I was being a little turd! Maybe I was hard to deal with. I definitely had my share and your share of energy. Whatever the reason my  sunday school teacher took the paper from me, ripped it in two and threw it in the trash. I was handed another coloring sheet and told to not scribble this time. I don’t think that was the correct response to the phrase what would Jesus do?  I didn’t dare cry though! I was too scared. I definitely did not want to go back. Maybe he was having a bad day? Its possible, but your bad day is never a child’s fault.

Make church for kids peaceful by…

1 Being positive

2 Avoiding conflict between children

3 Demonstrate Love love love

AND NEVER THROW THEIR ART AWAY!

2. A children’s ministry Volunteer is excited to show up!

We don’t always feel it but we have to show it! The kids will remember how you make them feel. By showing up excited you are shaping a long term attitude toward church for them.

When I was in the 5th grade I had two fantastic Sunday school teachers. Karen and Judy. They came prepared with the most engaging and funny stories, fun activities, words of wisdom and most importantly hearts of love. Looking back on my children’s church experience I remember these two ladies most and I strive to be the volunteer they were during my time as their student.

How to be excited:

1 Laugh with the kids!

2 Have fun with the kids!

3 Just act like a kid and you are good to go!

3.  A children’s ministry volunteer is faithful.

A children’s volunteer shows up even when they are not feeling it. In children’s ministry it is important that the kids know they can count on you being there. You might be the only stable relationship in their week.  How many individuals in their life did not show up this week? Don’t be one of the count!

My wonderful 5th grade Sunday school teacher told us a story one time that really stuck with me. She said how there have been times in her life that she wanted to stay home from church so that she could get the laundry done, clean the house and relax. Have you been there? I have! Judy went on to say that anytime she fell victim to this mindset that she regretted it. She told us that every Sunday she skipped church she never got the laundry done, house clean and she didn’t feel more relaxed. However, when she decided to show up to church even when she wasn’t feeling it she left with more energy and the ability to get more done.

Every time I want to stay in bed and not show up. I CAN’T! Her voice pops up in my head reminding me that I will regret it! Every time I want to text and say I can’t serve today I think of Judy and her story. I pull myself out of bed, I show up and this is something I will never regret.

IF YOU ARE SICK I AM NOT TALKING TO YOU! DON’T BRING YOUR FLU TO CHURCH!

The enemy always wants to make us tired on our week to serve. Fight the tiredness and remember you have kids waiting to be loved by you.

4. A children’s ministry volunteer is interested in their life.

These kids want to know you care. They love it when you talk to them. They love hearing your stories but they also want to tell you their stories. They want you to ask them questions. They will tell you a lot of things. Things that are funny, parts of their life that will make you proud and parts that will break your heart. Be prepared to have your heartbroken in children’s ministry.  Not only do they want you to be interested in their life but they want you to pray for them. Don’t be afraid to stop and pray for each of them by name!

Make each child feel like they are a 10 and like they are the most important person in the room.

5. A children’s ministry volunteer is part of the children’s salvation story!

It’s easy to think that if we don’t pray the salvation prayer with the child then we had nothing to do with their salvation. However this is furthest from the true. Everything you do that points the children to Jesus is part of them coming to know Jesus and asking Him to live into their hearts.

My Aunt Sandy is a big part of my salvation story. She was also one of the volunteers in children’s church the year we lived in Springfield. She taught me many scriptures The first scripture she helped me memorize was

“I will keep my angels in charge over you.” Psalms 91:11

The scriptures that she challenged me to learn pointed me to Jesus and helped me understand His love. No! She didn’t lead me in the salvation prayer, but she definitely had her part in it me coming to know Him. As  a parent, teacher, a children’s ministry volunteer, in any involvement you have with kids  you are part of their salvation story.

We were on the playground at school. An ambulance comes speeding by, lights on and engine blaring.  24 kids run to the gate to watch. They were excited. However, I watch and listen as one little boy raises his hands to the sky and prays “Jesus thank you that you are helping them.”  I thought to myself. Wow! This little boy.  “This 4 year old must go to a fantastic church with a fantastic children’s ministry. They are really teaching him how to pray for others and trust in Jesus.” You get to be part of that story. You get to teach kids to pray. You get to teach Kids that they can trust in Jesus. You get to instill compassion in young hearts. And you don’t have to be part of a huge church to do this either. Just show up where you are at. You are more than a babysitter. You are a difference maker. You are never wasting your time or missing out when you serve. You are part of changing the future for many kids. Ellie gets so excited each Sunday to go to church. She knows she gets a donut, gets to play with friends (AKA: her teachers) and most importantly in her words “I get to talk about Jesus.” It does not take much to get a child’s approval. All it takes is love

I’m a mean girl!

“God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day.”  Psalms 46:5 (NIV)

I was at a conference once. We broke off into smaller groups. The speaker suddenly put me on the spot. “What do you like about yourself?” I wasn’t exactly my biggest fan. I didn’t even know what to say! I never gave that question much thought. Was this a trick question? I did that awkward thing where you point to yourself while looking around hoping it isn’t really you being called on. Unsure,  I said the first thing that popped into my head,  “My toes?”  Looking down at my unpolished toes that honestly are not cute AT ALL I quickly hid them under my seat wondering why I chose to wear flip flops that day. I immediately felt my face turn a shade of hot Cheeto. Why hot cheeto?   My face was on fire. Everyone stared at me. Some smiled awkwardly. Others looked confused. The speaker excitedly declared “that’s a start.”  She went on to say, “you gotta start somewhere. Raise your hand if you too like your toes?”  She chuckled. Maybe one person raised their hand. I wanted to run to Australia. As embarrassed as I was I went home with one question on my mind. A question that changed my life forever. What do I like about myself? That question was daunting and difficult  to answer. I didn’t even know until that moment that it was even ok to like yourself.

Recently while Looking back on this moment in life I realized I had become the person who I dreaded seeing each day. I was the person I wanted to run the opposite way from when spotting in the hallway.  I had become the individual who pointed out every negative flaw. I was the person who had nothing good to say. I was this person not to others but to myself. I realized I was so mean to me.  I wasn’t my biggest cheerleader. I had become my biggest bully. I realized “Im a mean girl.”

There are many mean girls reading this post right now. No! You would never even think about being mean to others. You would never call someone else ugly. You would never tell another person that they have no purpose. You would never stop someone on the street and say “no one will ever love you.” You wouldn’t sit your best friend down explaining that it’s too late for them to accomplish that dream. Would you? Yet! You look in the mirror each day and you say these things to yourself. You call yourself ugly. You say your body is not what it should be. You tell yourself you’re behind in life. You think to yourself “I have no purpose.” You let yourself believe that you are a failure as a mother. That you don’t measure up at work. That you have reached the end. That no one could ever love you. That you’ve made too many mistakes. Should I go on?

My point? We all have a inner mean girl. Years ago, at the conference If the speaker  would have asked me to tell her  something I dislike about myself I could have written her a book. To be honest I feel like it’s almost like we wear a badge of honor if we can top everyone else on why we suck at life. I had to work hard and I still have to work hard to view myself in a healthy way. Some days are more of a struggle then others. I hope to one day have the courage to share the entire story of God’s healing on my journey of choosing to love myself.

That mean girl voice will not  just silence itself. We have to work to keep it silent.

It’s time we silence our inner mean girl!

3 ways to SILENCE our inner mean girl::

1 Kill her with kindness!

I decided this year I’m going to write down 365 things I love about me. Why not? Right? I want to challenge you to do the same. No wrong answers. Go for it! Tell me a few in the comments. Brag on yourself. Go all out.

2 Pray for her!

I spend a lot of time praying for others. I dont always pray for myself. One way to show that inner mean girl your worth is to spend time praying for you. Pray for your dreams, your fears your disappointments. Pray for you. When you feel that inner mean girl creeping up in your thoughts pray her away.

3 Locate scripture that proves her wrong!

I could give you the scriptures but where is the fun in that? Loving yourself, silencing your inner mean girl, discovering your worth takes work. So, get to work. Find scriptures that remind you who He created you to be and how much HE LOVES YOU! Make a list of ten scriptures that help you when you feel your inner mean girl is coming out to fight you. Put your list of scriptures somewhere you will see often.   One of my favorite scriptures that encourages me to shut my inner mean girl up is Romans 5:8.

“But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Romans 5:8 (NLT)

I love this scripture because it reminds me that when I was at my darkest (before I knew Him) he still loved me. I know that no matter what I go through He is there ready to take my hand and walk me through it.  He loves me so much that He will never give up on me.

Maybe there is something you need to change in your life. There might be something you don’t like and you know it can be better.  Your inner mean girl is feeding you lies about your lack of ability to change and so on but God has other words for you. Words of Hope.  “Jesus looked at them intently and said, “Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But withGod everything is possible.”  Matthew 19:26 (NLT) Be willing to ask God to help you change what can be changed. However, be willing to change, walk away and not continue letting your inner mean girl beat you up over it. There is a difference between your inner mean girl beating up on you and the voice of God prompting you to choose a different route in life.  One is mean and one is love. Choose love.

Well… what is it? What do you like about yourself! My prayer is that this month you will be able to answer that question confidently. Its ok to lIke yourself.

Joyce Myers puts it best,  “Liking yourself doesn’t mean you’re full of pride; it  simply means you accept yourself as the person God created you to be.”  No longer be the person you run away from in the hall. Don’t continue disliking the person staring back at you in the mirror. Choose love for yourself. Choose to silence your inner mean girl. You are worth breaking free from her.

When Markers Run Dry!

When Markers Run Dry!

“O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you;
my whole body longs for you in this dry and weary land where there is no water.” Psalms 63:1 (NLT)

“Oh Great!” I hear from across the school age room. “The markers are all dried out.” A little girl headed to the trash to toss the dried out markers, but I jumped in and stopped her pulling some markers that had already made it into the trash can out. I explained to her that if we are patient we can put markers in water overnight and all the ink left throughout the marker will come down into the water turning it into water colors. “We can paint with it” she asked excited? As we filled cups with water and placed the dry markers in each more kids came over to watch as each cup began to turn a different color of blue, red, yellow, green and brown. The kids were amazed. They continued to watch the experiment growing more and more thrilled as the colors of the water grew more strong.

My family is on this amazing journey as Campus Pastors at Washington New Life. Even writing the words “Campus Pastors” feels surreal. Some days we feel on cloud nine that God has called us and other days we feel way over our head. However, we know that regardless of what each day brings we are right in the center of God’s purpose for our family. I came in excited but empty. I felt frustrated. Where is my place here? After having Ellie I struggled to find a balance between motherhood and servanthood. Something in my heart was changing. My desires were shifting and I had no idea how to respond to it. So I continued to serve in many different areas at Grace. (A great church family! If you live in the Dallas area check it out) I never felt like I was doing what God has called me to do. I struggled finding my place after becoming a mother and I was scared that struggle would follow me to Washington Illinois. “Something must be wrong with me” was a common thought. I showed up to Grace each week and I poured my heart into many areas but felt so dry doing so. There were so many times when I wanted to throw in the towel, sit on the couch and wait for God to tell me which card to play next but that didn’t feel right either. Honestly, that is the season at times. Dry! It doesn’t mean you give up it means you press on. You stay faithful and you never allow that inner voice to tell you that you have nothing left to give. You don’t allow yourself to believe that sitting on the sidelines is better than feeling dry serving.
If for a moment you believe that you have no value know that you are so valuable to Christ. Continue to show up! There is only one person who doesn’t want you to show up and he is not worth your time.
However, I do believe there are times when you should step back from serving and focus on God but only you and God can determine if that is the step you need to take. Our family is walking into a new season in life. We are dealing with things as a family and individually. I’m slowly finding my place at New Life. This season is pushing me toward God. The things He is asking of me are bigger than me. I often feel like I can’t do the things God has called me to do. Who am I kidding? I can’t. Not without Him but I have Jesus  “And I am certain that God, who began the good work within me, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” Philippians 1:6 (NLT) I wasted so many years believing these three lies…
I do not have what it takes.
I have no purpose.
I’m not worthy.
(Sound familiar?)
I’m done wasting time believing a lie that is not true. I hope you are done too! I’m excited for this new season in our life and I am scared out of my mind. I guess you can say my dry season is beginning to see some rain. The kind of rain that causes growth.

Maybe you are going through a similar season. Maybe you feel like the season you are in is dry. You might feel like what you have left is not enough. If you are patient God will pull the little you have left, the little you feel is not enough and turn it into something beautiful that will be used for Him.
“Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! for the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart” John 7:38 (NLT)


Just as a marker that is assumed dry can turn water to color God can take what you feel is dry and pour His water on it and suddenly you’re dry land will be a blessing for all to see.