March 5, 2012

Some Monday Reflections...

There is nothing like a long drive all alone to give you time to reflect. Yesterday I was driving home from a fabulous, absolutely fantastic Girls Weekend away in Minneapolis. Minneapolis in general brings about a world of emotion for me. It was a place God brought us to and that I followed & went hesitantly. Leaving all I knew and a place where everything was seemingly perfect. It was one of those God kept leading, pulling, and tugging situations until we would obediently follow. It was a place where a picture was painted one way, and then upon arrival we saw what we signed up for. Most of all it was a place where God wanted us temporarily.

We left an amazing youth ministry that we had been apart of for 8 years & an awesome church that we loved and where we were so loved. To begin the journey I was pregnant with baby #3. Jeremy had to go ahead and make the move without us, while I stayed back to sell the house. 4 months of living a part, which in the grand scheme of life is nothing, but when you are hormonal as ALL get out, it can feel like an eternity.

When we finally moved I had 10 weeks left of my pregnancy. Moving day comes and I begin to have some minor complications...Resembling something I went through during my first pregnancy which put me on bed rest. Oh for the love Jesus, why now? Moving day... That put a stress on me like no other. I had a miscarriage before baby #2, so any issue that somewhat resembles any kind of pregnancy danger can do a number on your heart and mind. Top that off with leaving our family and friends and already being hormonal...this is how I personally entered in to our MN journey.

My first Sunday at our new church it took everything within me not to break down and cry. I walked around just fighting tears & holding back my every emotion. I didn't want to be there. No matter how hard I tried and how much I persevered, I was absolutely heartbroken. Leaving our kids back at our old church. Leaving my little brother who was in 8th/9th grade & still in our youth ministry. Where will he end up without us? Leaving family & friends and people who still needed us was just sad. Knowing how much it crushed others that we were leaving was harder than anything. I don't say that to pat myself on the back or elude to the fact that we are exceptionally special. Though God does find us all, exceptionally special. Its just that we left A LOT and it was really, really hard!

Obedience to God's plan isn't always easy, but it is necessary. Jesus didn't exactly run to the cross saying "Okay, kill me, kill me! Beat me, beat me!" He even prayed that God would take this cup from Him, "Not my will, but yours be done". Jesus is the prime example of obedience to God's will & in facing the ultimate cross. We all have crosses to bear. We all have mountains to climb with weight on our shoulders, We all have times of feeling persecuted, beaten down, & having our spirit's crushed. Jesus is our example of obedience no matter what.

It's taken me a while to truly allow the Lord to bring all of my thoughts together and to write about this and allow Him to use this portion of my life. Because I experienced some big time hurts when we first got there.

Sometimes our time there felt like a corny Lifetime movie where all of the movie watchers & the main character know of the culprits true colors, but everyone else is blind to it. Causing the main character to resemble the psychotic one. And you are just waiting and waiting for the end of the movie where the truth comes out & you are no longer looking like the guilty, bad guy.

As I had time to reflect over this part of my life, I can say that I first went to MN dragging my feet. Then Ironically, moved back to where the Lord moved us from in the first place dragging my feet. So MN was a great time. Its a place I love. Filled with people I adore. I would move back in a heartbeat, but again, God's plan prevails. Any place we have left, we have gone not necessarily wanting to or embracing what was next off the top of the bat. But going because God lead us. It's important to leave a place well.

So, back to my first Sunday at our new church in MN, I will never forget 2 women that immediately reached out to me by validating all that I was feeling. They didn't even know how sad my heart was. One just knew they had once left their home to move far away and enter the unknown, and the other knew what ministry life can be like and how people can expect you to just embrace them off the bat and be there for them like you are Mother Teresa. Pastors wife or not, I'm a human being with real feelings. I knew that "this too shall pass" but at the moment I was in the thick of it. And the thick of it felt like the world running around me expecting me to hop on and do everything their way or how they felt I should live my life, be a mom & a wife. And most of the "opinions" came from unmarried people, newlyweds, or those without kids. It was so hard.

Its easy to have an opinion about something we know nothing about.

We all have flaws stitched together with good intentions. I didn't mean to come across as hating a place. But I have to say, people weren't making it easy to love at this point. Never in my adult life had I endured more tearful nights at the expense of another's actions or words. Being gossiped about, stinks. Trying to be the best wife & mother you can be while being ridiculed for doing so is not an easy task at all.

But I stuck to my guns through the tough times and NEVER did my priorities waver. Not once. God first, Husband & kids next...then comes ministry. And my kids though young, have yet to resent ministry, because for us it has always been a family thing. Our kids are apart of it. And if they can't be, I sometimes stay back to be with them, or we get a sitter depending on the situation and what I feel is best for our family. But we will never sacrifice our family on the altar of ministry. And you shouldn't either. Whether it be a job, ministry, whatever. Don't ever sacrifice your family. God spoke to me over & over "You have the rest of your life for ministry outside of your home, right now your kids are your ministry and they will only be in your house for so long". After all, I am their only mother and the only woman who will answer for how she raised her girls.

Our family became SO strong during our time in Minnesota. And in the meantime, God brought amazing friends into our lives. We have made lifelong friends. Met families that have impacted us greatly. Worked with amazing students and leaders! Grew in amazing ways. Learned so many life lessons in such a short time.

When I was still really new, before my baby3 was born, a fellow pastor's wife, brought me aside and said "I couldn't do it"..."I don't know how you did it"..."I couldn't have done it"...That was it. VALIDATION! She has no idea the impact of her validation in that season of my life.

Oh how we need to validate one another more often! How we must be tender and compassionate towards eachother. Less judging, and more love, grace & understanding!

**A little side note...there's an awesome miracle in all of this too...Pregnant and living alone. Taking care of 2 little ones by myself...In the winter, requiring a lot of shoveling and house selling stress. Some red flags & scariness on moving day...Makenna comes 3 weeks early and totally healthy...BUT the way the cord was attached to the "I hate this word" placenta...Basically it could have ripped at any point. During pregnancy, labor, etc. And resulted in immediate death. It's called Vasa Previa. When vasa previa is not detected there is a 95% chance of stillbirth. They didn't detect it in any ultrasound. This vasa previa was because of a valamentous cord insertion, wheras, again is miraculous. Because usually when that is detected they need you to have a c-section at 35 weeks as labor can cause death. Makenna was born at 37 weeks. I'm sorry, but if you don't believe in miracles...**

So a new move, a new baby, a non-resilient, at the time 5 year old who cries nightly because of the move, as if by obeying God, we are torturing her in the process. It was an emotional move for all of us.

But God brought about women, who without even knowing what I was feeling, validated me in ways I cannot be grateful enough for! 

And friends...Ohhh, dear, dear friends I will be blessed for a lifetime with. God is so good.

The Lord taught me forgiveness. He taught me grace. He taught me how to do the right thing, even when I felt like punching someone in the face. He taught me how to rise above & be confident in who I am and in the wife & mother He has called me to be no matter what any outside, naive source thinks. God is so good. I had a neighborhood and home I loved. I was so blessed during our time in MN. God blesses us so much when we obey. He blesses us when we do the right thing in tough situations. God blesses us for being gracious. And in being gracious there are no regrets. Gossip gets to anyone. Gossip hurts. Rumors stink. But pressing on and doing what's right brings such peace in the midst of hard times.

Had we not persevered and pressed on through tough times, we would have so many regrets. Instead, we have a place we love :) People I have forgiven...Because in Jesus example on the cross when He says "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" He gives us the power to choose to see people through God's eyes. And when we battle with another, it's not really them, but the enemy through them, using his manipulative & weaseling ways to get under our skin. As God can use us, so can the enemy.

We hold so much power in our choices.
Choose to love.
Choose to validate someone daily.
Choose to refrain from being sucked in to gossip & rumors.
Choose not to spread your speculations or personal opinions as facts.
Choose to speak kindly.
Choose to understand another. 
Choose to forgive.
Choose to kill people with kindness.
Choose to do what's right even when you don't feel like it.
Choose to obey God's leading wherever you are.

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