January 29, 2012

A Different Kind of Normal

I have had this post title on my mind for a good month by now. I have so much I feel like I want to share. But I find myself at a road block as to how to share it. Where to start. What to say or what not to say. Will I be misunderstood? Will people know my heart? Will people judge? Will they speculate more?

I know people mean well. In general, I think people are good. After all my family has only known ministry-life together. So when people see our new normal I imagine it sparks curiosity. Can I really blame you for being curious? Not really...

So, where to begin.

For the first time in my and Jeremy's existence as "Laura & Jeremy" we are not in full time ministry. We have taken a little 'hiatus' one could say. It's weird. It's awesome. It's scary. It's sad. It's exciting. It feels a little naked. It's freeing. It's awkward. It's a blessing. And for some reason causes great emotion to rise as I type this. Sometimes I want to cry at the drop of a hat. Sometimes I want to shout "FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST, THANK GOD ALMIGHTY I AM FREE AT LAST"! One thing that's not changed is we have never doubted our Jesus. We have not feared what we lack. God is good, all of the stinking time. We trust Him wholeheartedly. Only He knows the story He is writing for our lives and I am happy for the role we get to play and the ways He has used us, continues to use us, and will use us in new ways.

Life is interesting to say the least. I mean, it can definitely throw you some unexpected curve balls. I, personally want answers to life's mysteries. But I've learned through this, that sometimes you just aren't going to get all of the how's or why's; the reasons, or the missing pieces. And we really just need to be okay with that. If I can learn to be okay with it in my own life, surely you who wonder or speculate can be okay not knowing and just love us for us.

I'd be lying if I didn't often allow my mind to wander off to far away places of what -ifs and maybe we should have. But the would've, should've, could'ves are in the past. Why dwell on what was, what isn't, what could have been, what should have been, etc. when it just flat out ISN'T. But it's easy to think staying in "this place"....doing "this thing or that" would make all of the difference. Really, this is apart of the story God is writing. So while it's a heck of a lot different than we planned or thought, it's all apart of God's big picture. And He is in control.

In the process of embracing this new normal, I find both positives and negatives, as we can about any situation. I shouldn't really say negatives, because honestly, our life is great. Our family is thriving. We have time on our hands. We get to be normal people. Like, a normal, real family.

No magnifying glass. No scrutiny over our every whim. I get to be 100% totally & truly me, without inhibition. No one to put me in a box. NO MORE BOX! I love living outside of the box. And this has shown me that there is soooo much more we can do! There are so many opportunities that await us! Ministry 100% totally GOD's way! And no one to tell us when to sit, how to sit, what to sit on, etc. NO. MORE. BOX. :) :) :)

Don't get me wrong though, I miss pastoring too. I miss it a lot. It's all I have known as an adult. As a wife. And as a mother. How do I do life as a non-active pastors wife? Do I still fit in the little pastoral circle? Am I a part of the club? Or do I not fit in? Because I kinda feel like I'm not fitting in. I'm a little on the outside. But where do I fit in?

And there is something I have noticed that makes me sad. Quite sad, is the way christians treat normal people vs pastors wives/families. I feel a little like a heathen when I meet a new christian now. Where when someone knew I was a pastor's wife an instant "respect" was often bestowed upon me. An instant kindness offered. Sad, but true. I don't mean it pridefully, it's just something I have noticed lately. It makes a person's self esteem waver. It causes insecurities to rise. Because now, people need to get to know me for me. Not Pastor Jeremy's wife. Me. Just, plain old Laura. And I tell you, I am a confident person in general. But a drastic, somewhat traumatic change can cause a lot of 'feel sorry for yourself' feelings to rise. Right or wrong, they happen.

This new normal allows a new insight into BOTH sides. Where before when I was on one side, I was young, single, etc. Now I have been on the "IN"side for so long...being back over here on the 'out'side causes a whole new perspective.  I know my Jesus is going to use this perspective and new insight. Even though it stinks sometimes, I am excited!

New insight = New opportunity

I have had to remind myself that those who truly know us know our character and what is in it and what is out of it. So true friends can just know there's more to things sometimes. But it's not worth knowing it all. If I'm content with not having all of the answers, so can anyone be.

Life is great. We've learned so much wherever God has taken us. We are grateful for every church we have been a part of and the relationships made and lifelong friendships we get to carry wherever we go. Since being married we have been true to ourselves, our principles, kept our priorities straight and for that I am proud of my sweet little family.

I consider this hiatus a time of refreshing, healing, strengthening and rest.

We are blessed.
We like where God has us.
We are embracing our new normal.
We know we are where God wants us right now.

Ministry just looks different than it ever has before for us.

January 25, 2012

Calling all Moms of Daughters (Worship Wednesday)

This is my girls' favorite song right now. I have to say, it has not gotten old hearing them sing these lyrics over & over! Especially as they sing it with such joy!

January 18, 2012

Worship Wednesday (Forever Reign)

AMEN! This song captures my heart & pulls out praise for my Savior from the first word!

You are good, You are good, when there’s nothing good in me. You are love, You are love, on display for all to see. You are light, You are light, when the darkness closes in. You are hope, You are hope, You have covered all my sin. You are peace, You are peace, when my fear is crippling. You are true, You are true, even in my wandering. You are joy, You are joy, You’re the reason that i sing. You are life, You are life, in You death has lost its sting. oh, i’m running to Your arms, i’m running to Your arms, the riches of Your love will always be enough, nothing compares to Your embrace, Light of the world forever reign. You are more, You are more than my words will ever say. You are Lord, You are Lord, all creation will proclaim. You are here, You are here, in Your presence i’m made whole. You are God, You are God, of all else i’m letting go.  my heart will sing, no other name, Jesus, Jesus. my heart will sing no other name, Jesus, Jesus. 

Worship Wednesday (Steady My Heart)

Wish it could be easy
Why is life so messy
Why is pain a part of us
There are days I feel like
Nothing ever goes right
Sometimes it just hurts so much

But You're here
You're real
I know I can trust You

Even when it hurts
Even when it's hard
Even when it all just falls apart
I will run to You
Cause I know that You are
Lover of my soul
Healer of my scars
You steady my heart (x2)

I'm not gonna worry
I know that You got me
Right inside the palm of your hand
Each and every moment
What's good and what gets broken
Happens just the way that You plan

And I will run to You
You're my refuge in Your arms
And I will sing to You
Cause of everything You are

You steady my heart (x2)

January 16, 2012

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.
Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.
But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.
In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check -- a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.
But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.
As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

January 13, 2012

Well Women

Thank you Jesus for loving me and knowing the REAL me.

I hear the Savior say,
“Thy strength indeed is small;
Child of weakness, watch and pray,
Find in Me thine all in all.”

Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.

For nothing good have I
Whereby Thy grace to claim;
I’ll wash my garments white
In the blood of Calv’ry’s Lamb. 

And now complete in Him,
My robe, His righteousness,
Close sheltered ’neath His side,
I am divinely blest. 

Lord, now indeed I find
Thy pow’r, and Thine alone,
Can change the leper’s spots
And melt the heart of stone.

When from my dying bed
My ransomed soul shall rise,
“Jesus died my soul to save,”
Shall rend the vaulted skies.

And when before the throne
I stand in Him complete,
I’ll lay my trophies down,
All down at Jesus’ feet.

Jesus, NOT religion

Grace all the way!

If you hear anything from this, hear grace! I don't think he is saying "keep sinning, God loves you anyway". He is talking to a group of christian kids. If you hear his heart at all, take the fact that just because we sin and we fall sometimes doesn't mean God doesn't love us anymore. We will fail, and when we do, God is right there. God loves us beyond all comprehension. There is nothing we can do or not do to negate that love or to earn that love, its already there. When we sin, if we confess our sin and ask for forgiveness God is faithful to forgive because Jesus paid the price and God is a man of His word. He is faithful & just. He is full of grace & mercy. Condemnation and guilt is not from God. Jesus brings LIFE. There is no expiration date on God's forgiveness or love for us. God's mercies are new EVERY day. And every day we can strive & strive to be more like him, but we will fall short. So when we do fall short God is there to pick us back up again & help us. Then we get back up and strive again! God sees our hearts & the whole picture. He knows our deepest intention & desire. It's important to keep a pure heart & strive to be more like Jesus. But to remember God's merciful and full of amazing grace when we do mess up. 

There IS a heaven & a hell, so just being a "good person" isn't enough. It's all about a relationship with Jesus Christ. Its walking through life with God. Love is what Jesus is all about, but don't let God's grace give you an excuse to live your way instead of His.

We need to measure our lives according to God's standards and see that we all fall short, we cannot compare or measure ourselves to or against other humans.

Religion? -NO
Works? - NO
Relationship with Jesus? -YES

When you have a relationship with someone and truly love that person you want to be the best you can be and you want to strive to please them. It's all about a relationship with Jesus. Then let Him take it from there as you seek Him. :)  

January 12, 2012


Proverbs 20:3 -"Avoiding a fight is a mark of honor; only fools insist on quarreling" 

This morning my husband shared this verse on his facebook from Proverbs that caused others to pose good questions...

Some had asked "what about equality or the fight to free slaves & such"? Good questions for sure. I had to share my husband's take:   

My take on this would be, that it's about knowing what "fights" are worth engaging in. What fights has Jesus himself already shown worth fighting? Stuff like freedom, equality, forgiveness and ultimately salvation. I think it boils down to the ability to discern what and when (and in that order) issues are worth fighting for. I try to ask myself when faced with confrontation, "Is this a hill worth dying on?" and realize most quarrels simply aren't worth it and are possibly even a distraction from the issues worth fighting for. Jesus stood his ground on number of occasions by not necessarily fighting but by asking the right questions to help others come to better understanding or at least self evaluate whether the issue at hand was a hill worth dying on for them. Even causing accusers to reflect on if they even had a leg to stand on in making whatever accusation they were making. One of my most favorite Jesus statements is "Who ever is blameless among you throw the first stone." Jesus thought the only hill worth dying on was a hill called Golgotha and with it he purchased my salvation, my healing, my forgiveness, my everything...He choose to fight the "good" fights and avoid the meaningless ones...which, in my mind, is a rather admirable characteristic and something I'd like to improve on myself. And I'm willing to bet, God, if you ask Him, will speak to you about what "fights" you should be personally engaging in. That's my take on what the scripture/God is communicating here...and that's all the time and energy I'm going to give to this "fight." Make it a great day and fight the "good" fight of faith (I Timothy 6:12)!

January 11, 2012

Worship Wednesday (Something Beautiful)

In your ocean, I'm ankle deep
I feel the waves crashin' on my feet
It's like I know where I need to be
But I can't figure out, yeah I can't figure out

Just how much air I will need to breathe
When your tide rushes over me
There's only one way to figure out
Will you let me drown, will you let me drown?

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees.
I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh, something beautiful

And the water is rising quick
And for years I was scared of it
We can't be sure when it will subside
So I won't leave your side, no I can't leave your side.

Hey now, this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
'Cause I am down on my knees.
I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh, something beautiful

In a daydream, I couldn't live like this.
I wouldn't stop until I found something beautiful.
When I wake up, I know I will have
No, I still won't have what I need.
Something Beautiful

Hey now this is my desire
Consume me like a fire, 'cause I just want something beautiful
To touch me, I know that I'm in reach
Cause I am down on my knees
I'm waiting for something beautiful
Oh, something beautiful

January 4, 2012

Worship Wednesday (Say Goodbye)

Just in time for the NEW YEAR! New You! New Choices! New Opportunity! New Mercies! New Chances!

To the voice
To the liar in the mirror
Saying you can't ever change
To the guilt that's sittin on your shoulder
Always keepin you wrapped in chains
To the past that you can't undo
To the pain that you're walkin through
To the small and the big mistakes
This is what love wants to say

Say goodbye, say goodbye
To the one that I used to be
Say goodbye, say goodbye
Every day is a brand new mercy
Hello, Hello
This is where it starts now
Hello, hello
Everything can turn around
In a moment, here's your moment
You can say goodbye

There is grace that you can't imagine
There is love that you can't outrun
There is peace you can't hold onto
When your world is coming undone
You don't have to give in to the fear
Don't have to let your story stop here
And when the hand tries to pull you back
You don't have to go back, you don't have to go back

To everything that breaks you down
It doesn't have to define you now
Jesus came to take it all away

January 3, 2012

Perseverance & Integrity

In my last post which hinged from my 2011 year in review, I combined Staying true to God, family, & yourself with priorities...because I think the main way we can stay true to those important beings is by having our priorities straight.

In this post I am combining 'perseverance is painfully necessary' with 'doing what is right even when you don't feel like it'. The two are highly relatable!

I like to think of persevering as patience in practice or persisting with patience. Persevering is persisting in anything undertaken. Maintaining a purpose in spite of difficulty, obstacles, or discouragement; continuing steadfastly, having a good & positive attitude while waiting; Enduring when the going gets tough; Continuing on, lasting, keeping on, carrying on through the hard times; Bearing difficulties bravely; Trying again and again.; Perseverance is a day by day decision not to give up.

"Victory belongs to the most persevering". -Napoleon Bonaparte

"To persevere, trusting in what hopes he has, is courage to a man". -Euripides                                       

"You may be disappointed if you fail, but you are doomed if you don't try". -Beverly Sills              

Proverbs 24:16 For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again.

Ecclesiastes 9:11 ". . . The race is not [always] to the swift, nor the battle to the strong"

"Having chosen our course, without guile and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear and with manly hearts." -Abraham Lincoln 

"Defeat is simply a signal to press onward." -Helen Keller 

Isaiah 41:10 "So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand".

We have no reason NOT to endure! God goes with us! Perseverance begins or ends in the mind of the one who struggles. You hold the power and will to keep going! When you can try no more...try again! 

Matthew 10:22 and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

Romans 5:3-4 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope

Galatians 6:9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Philippians 1:6 And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

1 Timothy 4:16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.

Hebrews 10:36 For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised.

Hebrews 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us

James 5:11 Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.

2 Peter 1:5-7 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Revelation 2:2 I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.

Battles are fought in our minds every day. When we begin to feel the battle is just too difficult and want to give up, we must choose to resist negative thoughts and be determined to rise above our problems. We must decide that we’re not going to quit. When we’re bombarded with doubts and fears, we must take a stand and say: “I’ll never give up! God’s on my side. He loves me, and He’s helping me! I’m going to make it! - Joyce Meyer

God knows our situation; He will not judge us as if we had no difficulties to overcome. What matters is the sincerity and perseverance of our will to overcome them. -C.S. Lewis

We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive. -C.S. Lewis

What saves a man is to take a step. Then another step. -C.S. Lewis

Be DETERMINED to practice patience and endure the painful waiting process. Be determined to carry on in times of trouble.

Put a smile on your face and keep on keeping on.

"When you reach the end of your rope, tie a not in it and hang on" -Thomas Jefferson
That old law about ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves everybody blind. The time is always right to do the right thing. -Martin Luther King, Jr

Doing what's right is to act honestly and with integrity. If you are a man or woman of integrity you adhere to moral principles and your actions are wholesome. 

In times of trouble and frustration, seek to do what's right. In every given situation, wherever you are, whatever you are facing, ask yourself what the right thing to do is. Then do it. Choose what's right even if you don't feel like it. Eventually your inner attitude will match the outer one.

Don't act out of anger or pride. Don't act out of insecurity or jealousy. If we have integrity we're not corrupt and strive to not be hypocritical. 

A person of integrity is not impulsive, nor do they justify their behavior.

The integrity of the honest keeps them on track; the deviousness of crooks brings them to ruin -Proverbs 11:3

A person of integrity is a person of their word and is trustworthy.

A gadabout gossip can't be trusted with a secret, but someone of integrity won't violate a confidence - Proverbs 11:13

The reason integrity/doing what's right & perseverance go hand in hand so well is that many times our efforts are in vain, or seem in vain. But we must keep going. Persevere in what's right! Be persistent in doing the things that are good and noble! Even when you feel like it doesn't matter, continue on the straight & narrow path...

January 1, 2012

Stay true to God, Your Family & Yourself

Something that God has echoed over & over again in my own life and tested me on is: Priorities. Making sure I prioritize in a way that is pleasing to Him. God has allowed me insight and wisdom as to what best works for our little family. After all, He gave me these kids and gave them Jeremy & I as their parents for a reason. He has created us. He placed us with one another. So we must work with what we have and be true to who we are and what kind of parents we feel our children need. Because after our salvation, our children are the greatest tangible gift in this world.

I truly believe for a healthy and thriving family we must ALWAYS place God at the center of everything! Colossians 1:15-20 repeatedly tells us that Jesus is first, before, and over everything; He is the beginning. He is most important. But don't just focus on keeping Him first, because then you might neglect Him, but keep Him IN everything you do! The center of your marriage, your family, your ministry, your job, your friendships, etc.

God is of the utmost importance. And then come our Spouse & Kids... only after that, comes everything else.

It's not about rules. It's just a formula for prioritizing that will reap blessings beyond all you can imagine.

Number one, if we are going to stay true to God, our families, and ourselves we have to get our priorities straight. If our home is out of order or out of whack what good will we be at leading others? What sort of examples will we be?

Something that I feel God has been teaching Jeremy and me is that being an effective christian leader is by leading others on how to do life. Not because our way is perfect. Not because we are flawless, because sometimes I want to wring Jeremy's neck just like any other wife. Sometimes I fly off the handle at my kids too. But Jeremy knows I love him and my kids know their importance and how much we love and adore them. 1 Timothy 4:11-16 in the MSG translation says it like this : Teach believers with your life: by word, by demeanor, by love, by faith, by integrity. Stay at your post reading Scripture, giving counsel, teaching. And that special gift of ministry you were given when the leaders of the church laid hands on you and prayed—keep that dusted off and in use. Cultivate these things. Immerse yourself in them. The people will all see you mature right before their eyes! Keep a firm grasp on both your character and your teaching. Don't be diverted. Just keep at it. Both you and those who hear you will experience salvation.

What I mainly mean is just because we pastor that doesn't mean our family gets pushed off to the side while the flock gets tended to. Or that we don't live or practice what we preach. Actions speak louder than words. People watch better than they listen. This goes for ANY job, any ministry, any situation. Nothing else comes before our precious little family.

No one else is judged for how our children are parented, but we are. So we must stay true to ourselves & our families before any other outside source. We have our children for such a short time before they are adults.

Jeremy & I are not willing to give in to the pressures of the church, the world, fame, money, etc. by sacrificing each other or our children on the altar of ministry or of the world. If God is truly in all we do and at the center, then placing such importance on our families is imperative.

I think Jeremy is much better at everything else & a greater influence when he can be a positive example of a great husband & father. As I am a much better woman in general when I am a positive example of a good wife and mother.

If I can lead myself by seeking God first and above all else and placing Him at the center of all I do, then I can give myself to Jeremy in a way that is God pleasing, and I can be the wife & mother God has called me to be which only THEN allows me to lead others and help others to lead their families... and so on and so forth.

To stay true to God, Family, & Ourselves we have to be willing to block the outside voices and their vain attempts at getting us to compromise our families. Where do you think the devil likes to prowl in a Christian's life? Where does he want to divide? Look at the divorce rate out there. Look at the prodigal children who leave their faith & turn away from God when they are 18.

We MUST place a greater importance on Family! Once a mom, always a mom, but as far as in our homes, day in and day out, needed constantly by our children... It's a very, ridiculously short time. We have the rest of our lives for everything else. We can still even do the other things now. We just have to put God first, then our spouse & kids. We will be able to give ourselves to the world better when we have those priorities straight.

Don't allow the world, money, fame, riches, ministry, feeding the poor to take you away from your children. Humbly serve the poor WITH your kids... Seek & Save the lost WITH your kids... Don't leave your family on the wayside while you run around playing Robin Hood to the rest of the world.

You can better give to others when you prioritize and stay true to God, your family & yourself.

Don't love money so much you sacrifice your dignity & family.

Don't desire a big name for yourself so much you sacrifice what's important to get it.

Life is often lived on an egotistical basis rather than an integrity based priority list.

Things come up. There are busy seasons and different stages & situations. I get that. We all gotta do what we gotta do. Just don't sacrifice your precious family, yet claim you put God first in your life and remember Him in all you do.

What have you allowed to take you from your spouse or your kids?

Is God at the center of all you do?

The things we allow to take us from our families aren't necessarily bad things, they can be extremely noble and much needed things. But in the wrong order, out of context, at the wrong time, something good can become something not so good when it robs us of what's most important.

For more reading on prioritizing here are some additional articles...