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Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Beautifully Broken

I was abused.

I have been hurt.

I was wounded.

I am damaged goods.

But God…

Have you ever felt like your entire world has just crumbled around you? Where no matter where you turn, another event happens that was even more devastating than the last? I have been there. I have been in that place where the emotional pain is so bad you can hardly breathe. I have faced those times when it feels like there is no point in even continuing to live because the pain is just too great. I have been there.

But God…

I was wounded when I was removed from my birth family.

I was traumatized when my little sister’s dad decided he wanted to try for custody. No, he did not win custody, but I was damaged by that.

I was devastated when my brother dove into a river and broke his neck.

I was psychologically abused.

I had people I was close to die far too young.

I have experienced the pain of miscarrying.

I have had my relationships torn apart by grief, anger, bitterness, and selfishness. And it all left me bruised and beaten. I was shattered. Broken. Useless. I was trash.

But God…

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28, NIV)

Mosaics are one of my favorite forms of art. When the artist does them right, the beauty is breath-taking. And once you understand how they are made, they become that much more beautiful. Broken pottery, glass, and stones come together to make a beautiful image or design. Once beautiful, these objects were broken. It does not matter if these objects were broken by a child throwing a ball in the house or by a spouse in a drunken rage, the artist takes these shattered pieces and makes something beautiful.

Much the same way God takes our brokenness.

You know that a mosaic artist has no use for perfectly good pottery? At least not when it comes to forming his artwork. And no self-respecting artist would ever intentionally damage another person’s hard work. But the materials a mosaic artist uses to make his masterpiece must be broken.
Too often, I see people whose lives are damaged pretending everything is okay. They hide their brokenness from those around them because being broken is not a good thing. They take emotional duct tape and claim they’re fine when they could fall apart at any second.

They would rather remain a useless damaged vase than to be made whole in a beautiful mosaic.

When tragedy strikes, there’s no full recovery from that. You never fully get over the pain and trauma from whatever it was that hurt you – But God can use that.

God is the master artist. He can take the brokenness of our useless lives and make something so beautiful the rest of the world cannot help but take notice. But we must let him use our brokenness.

We need to stop pretending we have our lives together. 
Instead, we need to give God the shattered remains of who we are and allow him to turn our lives into a masterpiece which makes the world stop and stare.

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Devil Made Me Do It

*Reposted from 11/11/2017*

Referring to the Temptation of Jesus "But of key importance was the fact that Jesus made an immediate refusal. He did not toy with the temptation. Those who do soon find ways to rationalize and excuse their surrender. The best time to kill snakes is when they are small. Desire entertained and fondled in imagination, can become almost irresistible." (W. T. Purkiser)

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common for mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can beat. But when you are tempted, he will also provide you a way out so that you can endure it."
-1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV)

No one is ever forced to sin! To sin is to choose to go our own selfish way in the face of when we know to be right and wrong. People have literally stared death in the face when given the option to reject what was right and have chosen not to--- Yes, the way out God provided may have been death, but they stood by their faith and trust in God to the end and received the reward of going to him as a result--- but here in our Land of the Free, we are so self-absorbed, the mere fact that someone may make fun of us if we do the right thing is enough of a motivation to do wrong. We sin, not because our lives or the safety of someone else may be on the line, but because something as petty as our social status may get tarnished. What a selfish generation society is now. We are afraid to honor God and do what's right because someone might get offended and then they'll decide they don't like us anymore. What is more important here? Our social status in this glimpse of a vapor that is our lives, or our relationship with God that lasts eternity? Stop being so focused on you--- your social status, your feelings, what makes you feel good--- and start focusing instead on how to live your life in a way that honors the God who loves you!





Works Cited


Purkiser, W. T. Hebrews, James, Peter. Vol. 11, Beacon Hill Press, 1974. 

The Holy Bible: New International Version. Zondervan, 2011.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Wedding Clothes

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying. “The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
Then he sent some more servants and said, ‘Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.’
But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murders and burned their city.
Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So, go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So, the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests.
But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless.
Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and food, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’
For many are invited, but few are chosen.” – Matthew 22:1-14

*~*

The king who prepared the wedding banquet had designated a specific group to receive the initial invitation to the wedding feast. These were his chosen people. These were the best of the best. But they were too busy. They were so absorbed in their own lives they felt it appalling that this king would dare send his servants to interrupt their lives for a silly wedding feast. So, what did they do? They killed his servants.

But there was a wedding awaiting a celebration, and by golly, there were going to be guests!

*~*

How many times over social media do we come across comparable stories? A child has a birthday party and their mom invites all their classmates to celebrate with them. She plans all sorts of games, buys all sorts of snacks, hires the entertainer that absolutely must be at all the “good birthday parties” – and no one shows up. She then goes on a rant on Facebook and occasionally one of these moms will invite her Facebook friends and their kids to attend or send a card… something to participate in celebrating her baby, because she loves her child and cannot bear to see her baby hurting.

*~*

This is what happened with the king. His son was celebrating a huge milestone, his marriage, and the people he considered his friends refused to come. They stood him up. They rejected him, not caring who they hurt in the process. So, in comes dad! Like a hero, he tells his servants to fill those seats. His son is not going to be celebrating alone. And his servants do just that. There is not an empty seat in the place.

But it is a wedding. This is not just a casual Sunday afternoon picnic. You must dress properly for a wedding. There are dress codes to abide by. Do not wear white to a wedding! Do not try to out dress the bridal party! Do not dress like trash. Now depending on the wedding, the dress codes are flexible. But this was not a cute little country wedding with holey jeans and cowboy boots. This was a formal affair. This was a black bow tie-tuxedo wedding! And some guy showed up in their everyday attire.

The king was upset, and rightly so! Who was this man who thought that he was better than someone else - that he did not need to dress properly for a wedding? The gall! When the king confronted the man, there was no apology. There was no “I did not have the proper clothes”. There was silence. The man was actually stunned that the king had said anything to him about how he was dressed. But this was the king’s son’s wedding, and there was a dress code, and this man (just like everyone else) was required to dress properly for the wedding. 

Much like the wedding feast, the kingdom of God has a dress code. No, you don’t need to wear ankle length skirts or sleeves down to your finger-tips. No, there is no anti-makeup policy and you will not get banned if you have tattoos. BUT the kingdom of God DOES have a dress code.

“How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God.” – Hebrews 9:14

When Jesus died for us, his blood was shed for our sins. For every area that we fall short. That is the dress code! We need to be washed in the blood of Jesus.

Many are invited, but few are chosen.

Jesus died once for all, but that does not mean that all are going to be able to attend the wedding feast with him. To be a part of the kingdom of God, you must accept the cleansing of Jesus’s blood. He did not die so you can reject him, he died so you can accept him and spend eternity with him. Accepting Jesus does not mean praying a simple prayer and you’re good to go. It means turning away from the gunk of your life before Jesus. It means turning away – making an about-face – from everything that goes against what Jesus says. Think of it like this. If you were living under a bridge and someone came up to you with a million dollars, you would not continue to live under a bridge. You would leave the homeless life behind. When you accept Jesus, you are asking for his blood to cleanse you. To wash away your sins.  

Many are invited, but few are chosen.


Jesus answered, "I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6


The truth is that it does not matter how “good” you think you are. It does not matter how sincere your beliefs in your other religion (or lack of belief). It does not matter! You’ve been invited to the wedding feast, but are you willing to dress the part? Are you willing to be washed in the blood?


Good and bad religion

*Reposted From 09/20/2017*

Sometimes when you're constantly around someone who studies the bible like it's oxygen (I say that because it's an amazing thing), the desire to study rubs off on you. I began reading bible expositions as part of my daily devotions and then decided to start writing lessons for Christian Education on the book of James.
Well, one section in Chapter 1 jumped out at me and I thought I would share it on my blog.

"Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows' in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world." - James 1:26-27

I have heard church people regularly say "I don't have a religion, I have a relationship." or that "spiritual" shirt that says "It's against my relationship to have a religion"--- for some reason, the church is quick to assume ALL religion is bad. But the book of James makes it perfectly clear that there is such thing as pure religion... but what is the difference between good religion and bad religion?
Saying that Christian's have a relationship with God is accurate, but often times I feel that saying this creates a problem. I have heard church people say that "God loves me and will forgive me" and thus excusing the behaviors and actions they have that are outside the will of God. They ask for forgiveness when they gossip about someone, or when they turn their backs on someone in need. Sometimes, they even make the excuse that a person in need must have done something wrong so they must deserve what they are getting and are learning a lesson--- and then they don't feel guilty when they stand by and watch someone hurting.
But James says to help those in distress and to not be polluted by the world.
"But God loves me and will forgive me!"
But do you truly love God? God has already made it perfectly clear that he loves you by the fact that while we were still sinners he chose to die for us (Romans 5:8). The question has never been if God will still love you or if God forgives you. The question is: DO YOU TRULY LOVE GOD?
I can say I am a Christian all I want. I can pray, I can read my bible, I can go to church--- I can claim to have a relationship with God, but do my actions, does my religion mirror my beliefs? Do I live the life that God calls me to? Do I ignore or help those in need? Do I talk badly about others or do I speak encouragement? Do I act live like people who don't know God or do I live like I am set apart? Do I act arrogant or humble? "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
The fact is that Religion isn't bad--- I want to be able to say that my Religion backs up and proves my Relationship with my savior. What about you?

Birth Pains

*Reposted From 11/10/2017*

I have been thinking today about how long the "beginning stages of labor" actually can take. I remember with Jaedyn, I was in the first stages of labor for two weeks and with Ben, it was three weeks. Technically I wasn't in full on labor but I was still experiencing contractions and other uncomfortable symptoms associated with giving birth... or birth pains. This time around, I am not sure how much longer I am going to go. I was sure I wasn't going to make it to this morning and yet here I am sitting here after dinner and still waiting for true labor to kick in.

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places." 
Matthew 24:4-8

All these are the beginning of birth pains.

I am sure most of us saw people posting on their social media accounts about how Jesus MUST be coming back soon with all the signs-- the hurricanes, the issues with North Korea, all the recent shootings, etc.... I'm not saying he's not, but considering how long it takes to physically go into hard labor, don't be surprised if he doesn't come back tomorrow, next week, next year or even in this decade. "These are the beginning of birth pains". These are the equivalent of Braxton Hicks contractions (prodromal labor or practice contractions, or false labor, are sporadic uterine contractions that sometimes start around six weeks into a pregnancy. However, they are not usually felt until the second trimester or third trimester of pregnancy). Braxton Hicks contractions go through pretty much the WHOLE PREGNANCY. 


Jesus wasn't saying "These are the signs for WHEN I am coming back" he was saying "These are the signs that I AM coming back--- but even the son of man knows neither the day nor the hour... just be ready."



Folks, it's time to start nesting! For those who don't know what nesting is, it's when a woman who is pregnant begins to feel the urge to clean, organize, and prepare for the baby's arrival. We don't know when Jesus is going to make his appearance. We don't know what part of real labor is going to even occur first... we just know eventually labor is going to kick in and we need to be ready for the arrival of the Messiah! 

So expectant Christians let's get ready!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Yoga Pants

A while back I came across a post on Facebook. A man (who is a member of a nearby church) posted that a woman who wears yoga pants is just asking to get raped. A while later, a woman pastor posted frustration that a Christian radio station in her area was wasting airtime on the debate “should a woman wear yoga pants?” and sparked a debate on her personal Facebook page. The debate was unintentional on her part, she was simply stating that there are more important things to talk about than whether a woman should wear yoga pants.

I wear yoga pants. I love yoga pants. They are beyond comfortable! I love the fact that they are not constricting and the allow for movement while not adding a lot of extra fabric weight. I adore wearing yoga pants. And *gasp* I am a pastor’s wife working towards becoming a pastor herself.

Now, I do know that as a Christian, I need to not become a stumbling block for my brothers—so I don’t wear yoga pants at church. At the time of these debates, I was working at a daycare center and yoga pants were the recommended attire, so I did wear them to work and I wore them a lot at home and even out shopping. BUT-- A woman should not have to feel concerned if she shows up to church wearing yoga pants. A woman should not have to feel like a Christian man is staring at her butt and all the while making the excuse in his own mind that “she’s asking for it”. The church needs to be a safe place for a woman. The men in the church need to remember that she is a sister (or potential sister) in Christ and not some piece of meat to drool over.

Women: Ladies, we do need to be careful what we wear. That what we are wearing is not meant to catch the eye of a man. We do not need to be wearing short skirts or skimpy tops. We do not need to be flaunting our cleavage saying “if you have, it flaunt it”. As you dress in the morning, ask yourself if what you are choosing to wear is to cause a man to “lust after you”. You, as a Christian, are called to live a holy life! LIVE ONE!

Men: These women you’re drooling after do not think with a man’s brain. Sometimes, yes, there are women who dress to be ogled… but do not assume that is the case… and as a Christian, you need to check your thoughts. Stop living under the delusion that you cannot control your thoughts. You are freed from sin, stop letting physical lust control you—and stop blaming women because you are too lazy to try and control your thoughts. Regardless of the motive a woman has with how she dresses, you are called to live a holy life! LIVE ONE!

Stop passing the blame off to the other gender. We are responsible for our own thoughts and actions. Women, as you dress be mindful of how the way you dress affects others. Men, you control your thoughts... no one else! Take responsibility for the direction your thoughts go and stop blaming the women because you feel guilty.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The Anti-Social Society

Thirty years ago, there was no social media. No Instagram. No Twitter. No Snapchat. There were no selfies. No Status updates. No ability to hide behind a screen and say unpopular things. There was no texting. No “liking”. And no retweeting. There was letter writing, phone calls, and face-to-face interaction. There was not social media, there was just “being social”.
Thirty years ago, there were tragedies. An example? Oakland Elementary School. September 26, 1988. A 19-year-old entered the cafeteria and killed two children and injured eight others.
This past week, there was a tragedy. February 14, 2018 - 19-year-old in Parkland Florida entered his former high school and killed 17 people and injuring many more.
But what is the difference here? Besides the obvious number of fatalities. Do you really want to know the difference? In the Oakland Elementary School shooting the young man essentially had no friends. He was a societal outcast. He was made fun of. He was reclusive. Because he was reclusive the signs were only able to be seen by a few people. However, the shooting in Florida was much different. For two years prior to the shooting, the young man was posting on social media photos of him with guns. He was posting his desire to kill people. He actually made a comment on YouTube that he was going to become a “professional school shooter”. His signs were very clear. Anyone could have seen them. So why did we miss it?
We live in a society of anti-social, social media addicts. We scroll through our newsfeeds not really seeing what we are looking at. We, instead, are too absorbed with how many people liked our status update or the selfie we posted from two months ago (you know, when we didn’t have that acne outbreak that we are dealing with now). We do not care that our “friend” has posted that the world hates them and wants them to die. Instead we like their status and say “hang in there” then quickly forget them. Someone posted on our profile picture that we are beautiful. We feel like we have a purpose now. We do not seem to mind that our “friend” shared that his teacher failed him for “no reason” and deserves to drop dead. Instead we scroll past because we want to see how many people liked that video we shared. We do not care about others. We only care about our own gratification. We see the signs of depression. We see the signs before the action. But we don’t really SEE the signs. We completely miss them because we are too self-focused.
Thirty years ago, society was wondering what they could have done to prevent such a horrible tragedy where two children lost their lives. “Two lives were cut short! We could not see the signs because he closed himself off from society. If we had only known! If he had only told someone!”
Now, we have killers sharing that they are going to commit these tragedies but instead of acknowledging that we were too selfish to notice, we blame the guns. We blame the laws. We blame someone else. We don’t blame the shooter and we definitely do not blame ourselves for missing it. I’m just throwing things out there, but maybe – JUST MAYBE – if we got ourselves out of the way, we may be able to see the signs and get those people help before the crimes are committed.
We need to stop focusing so much on our own selfish desires, and go back to being others-focused. We need to start paying attention to what others are sharing. No, we will not see every sign. There are plenty of people who are not going to share these things. But when we see things like this, we MUST report it. We cannot assume they are joking. We cannot assume they are just trying to get attention. We cannot assume they are just drama kings/queens. Sometimes things said “in jest” are true thoughts. Sometimes those people who are just looking for attention will act on those things in order to get the attention. Sometimes those “drama queens” snap… We cannot assume that they are not going to act. We MUST error on the side of caution and try to get them the help they need.
BE AWARE!
BE KIND!
BE SMART!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Good Fight

My husband was recently contacted by a fellow pastor on a popular networking site. This pastor told my husband that he believed that the KJV Bible was the only Bible that was able to be used by God and that if my husband did not agree, he was wrong, and was a heretic.

A friend of mine who is a co-pastor with her husband, was approached by a woman on Facebook who told her that it is against the word of God for a woman to be a pastor to anyone other than women or children (never mind the various women that God used to minister to men throughout the Bible). This woman cited two verses which she felt made her point but ignored the cultural context of those verses and said that any woman who preaches goes against God.

Another situation occurred when a pastor’s wife with whom I am acquainted reached out because she is dealing with Postpartum Depression. Rather than sharing love, another pastor’s wife told her that depression is “all in your head”. That it’s not real and a "good Christian" will just let the bad feelings go.

--

“Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach and not resentful.” 
2 Timothy 2:23-24 (NIV)

The Church is divided!

It is no wonder that the world looks at the church with distaste when we’re over here arguing about what translation of the Bible is best.

It is no wonder that the world avoids the church when the church preaches unity but can’t even love other members of the church.

It is no wonder that the world despises the church when the church brushes off depression as something that just needs to be “let go” and does not see it for the real problem it is.

It is no wonder that the world hates the church when the church decides to fight over stupid things but when it comes to major problems, the church buries it’s face in the sand.

“But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” 
1 Timothy 6:11-12

Instead of fighting over petty things -- like what translation to use, if women should be in ministry, or living with our heads in the sand when it comes to the real issue of depression -- we need to be fighting the “good fight of faith”. What is the “good fight of faith”?
Ephesians 6:12 says “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Our fight is not against people! Later in the passage, it says, “And pray in the spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for the Lord’s people.” (v.18) How do we fight? We are to be alert and always praying! Instead of shoving our heads in the sand when there is an issue going on in the world, we need to be aware of it and praying against the devil’s ability to use it! Instead of telling people in the church that they’re reading the wrong Bible, or they should not be ministering, or they need to let the bad feelings go—We need to be praying for them! Instead of fighting amongst ourselves, we need to be gathered together in prayer – praying for each other and praying for our world!


The church is so busy fighting the WRONG fight, we have forgotten to fight the GOOD fight! Let’s get our focus back on what it should be!

Friday, February 9, 2018

The One You'll Read

Lately, I have come across a lot of nit-picking of what translation of the Bible is the best one. Some churches insist that the only one to read is the KJV while other’s claim that the ESV is a better translation, still others profess that the NLT is the greatest translation around. I, myself, had read the KJV, NKJV, NIV, NLT, and ESV and I am actually hoping to get the Amplified Bible next (Whenever I finish reading through one translation, I reward myself with a new one)--- but you know what I discovered while reading all of these translations? Every single one of them is flawed in its own way!

The KJV- The King James Version was not translated directly from the original Greek and Hebrew, instead, it is a translation of a translation! The KJV was translated into English from the Latin Vulgate. Due to it being a translation of a translation, there are many flaws in the word choices they used. The term: lost in translation applies very strongly to the KJV. I am not saying that if you read the KJV you are wrong, but I assure you, with 1000+ mistranslations, the KJV is definitely not without error!

The NKJV- This one poses the same issue as the KJV except as some of the errors were presented, they were corrected and updated. However, there is still quite a bit lost due to the fact that it’s still originally translated from the Latin as opposed to the original scriptures.

The NIV- The New International Version was translated from the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic but it too has its flaws. The original version was published in 1978 but was updated in 1984 after discovering some translation errors. The 1984 version was also riddled with error and was updated again in 2011. The main issue with the NIV though is the fact that it was written to be easily read. During the translation process, the scriptures were simplified and dumbed down, therefore a lot was lost in this translation as well.

The NLT- The New Living Translation is a translation based on a paraphrase. Due to this fact, the translation is inherently flawed. According to Craig Bloomberg (one of the NLT reviewers), the Bible was separated into six parts and translated by individuals, then submitted to the editor. The issue with that is there was little to no accountability to the accuracy of the translations.

The ESV- The English Standard Version is a word for word translation from the original Greek and Hebrew texts, and the translations were checked through various sources. However, just because it is a word for word translation does not make it without error. The meanings of words are lost due to the literal translating of the passages. Just as someone saying, “You’re so cool!” in the United States may be misunderstood as “You’re Cold.” by someone who is unfamiliar with American slang, so is the ESV. Some meanings are lost due to the translator’s assumption that every word should be taken as the dictionary definition.
***
Keep in mind, these are only the versions I have read. Of them, I do have my personal favorites. I love the NKJV and the NIV. I understand their inaccuracies and I do not live with my head in the sand about them. I know that the only copy of the Bible that is without error is the original. Someday, I would love to learn Greek and Hebrew so that I can better understand what the scriptures say.
The issue I am having, however, is the fact that one section of the church is screaming that the translation that they use is perfect while all others are flawed, and the rest of the church is screaming back that theirs is the one flawed and the translation they use is the perfect one. For one thing, people, the Bible was written by people. It is God’s inspired word, but it was written by people… and translated from the original text by people. To me, it is a beautiful example how even in our imperfections, God’s perfection shines through.

Think of it this way, you’re playing in your room as a child and your older sibling comes in and says, “Mom said to clean your room.” If you’re not wanting to get into trouble, you’re going to clean your room and not say that just because your mom did not audibly tell you, it does not matter. You’re also not going to scream that it is the wrong sibling who is telling you that your mom said to clean your room. Likewise. The Bible was written by people who were inspired by God and we should not be freaking out that King James is not the one telling everyone what God said. 

You want to know what translation of the Bible is best? It's the one you'll read!

What the days look like.

Research for one of Jason's lessons
7:30am—We are awake. The plan was to have Jaedyn go to preschool today but when she started complaining of a sore throat, we decided to keep her home another day. We will need to have her doctor write her a note excusing her absence. Had it been a normal day, It would be wake up between 7:00-7:30, have a bath and be downstairs by 8am (my part of her morning routine), Jason than will get her breakfast at 8am and they will be out the door for preschool by 8:40am
7:35am—Jason checks his email. He wants to make sure he is not missing anything important from students or leaders. There’s an email about a class he needs for ordination, an email from the other district NYI (Nazarene Youth International) leaders, and an email about the winter retreat coming up next week which he is speaking at.
8:00am—I finally decide to get out of bed. Jason has a headache, so he stayed in bed a bit longer.
8:45am—Jason gets up, gets Ben and Jaedyn breakfast, and begins his morning devotions… I am busy feeding Emrys (who tends to be attached to me most of the day) and doing my own devos.
9:00am—I begin the necessary reading for class.
9:55am—Jason finishes his devos (an hour earlier than normal due to Jaedyn being home today) and begins working on church-related work (Sermon/Lesson Research, Updating social media and the church website, writing Sermons, messaging students, leaders, parents, etc…)
10:00am—I tend to focus on making sure the kids do not kill themselves or each other as I am trying to work on school work.
11:00am—almost daily I realize I haven’t had breakfast and I eat something light to hold me over until lunch.
11:30am—Back to working on school work.
11:46am—Jaedyn comes to me with a big bump on her head saying she hit her head on her bed last night, but that the bump hurts. I grab her an Ice pack, kiss her booboo and tell her to rest her head on the ice pack as she watches her cartoons. Suddenly, her bump doesn’t hurt anymore. Apparently, this mama’s kisses are magical.
11:48am—Back to working on school work.
12:00pm—Break for lunch. Jason and I both press pause on what we are working on to have lunch as a family.
1:00-1:30pm—Its back to work for both of us. I have a quiz due tomorrow, so I am making sure I study for that.
3:00pm—I pause school work because whether Jaedyn goes to school or not, she has “homework”… usually just practice writing her name or a practice letter sheet.
4:30pm—Jason presses pause on his work and begins making dinner (he loves cooking so that’s how it works in our house).
5:30-6:00pm—We eat dinner as a family.
7:00pm—Family time.
8:00pm—it’s Ben and Jaedyn’s Bed-time. So it’s PJs, teeth brushing, lullaby, prayer, kisses, and goodnight (usually followed by the next couple of hours going up and down the stairs because Ben and Jaedyn are keeping each other awake… haha)
8:30- Bed—Jason and I both tie up any loose ends with our school/work day and spend time together. We multi-task tying up loose ends with catching up on the shows we watch to help us unwind. Depending on the amount of work we have left to do, we tend to go to bed anywhere between 11pm and 1am.

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Hi! My name is "Just A Woman"

Today I had enough.

When I was a little girl, God called me into ministry, but as a little girl, I was also told women should not minister except in certain settings (in the children's or women's departments). I grew up living this lie that God was limited by gender and that the call that was pressing on my heart was a lie. I settled for just marrying a pastor. Don't get me wrong, I have always known that God was wanting me to marry a pastor, but I had done my best to convince myself that "pastor's wife" was the ministry God was calling me to. I served along-side my husband in whatever capacity the church he was serving at needed me, but there was always something pulling me to move further. I kept repeating the excuse to my husband that women were not called into ministry and he kept pursing his lips trying not to tell me I was wrong but at the same time refusing to say I was right. He did not believe God was limited by gender but he would not tell me I was wrong just yet. He wanted God to work on me and he let me struggle with God's call until God wore me down.

It was November of 2016. Our church district has this thing called Assessment Weekend. Candidates for District Minister's Licenses have to undergo a detailed evaluation of your marriage, personal life, finances, spiritual walk, scriptural understanding, etc... If the candidate is married, their spouse needs to be a part of it as well. The weekend was mentally draining but it was one of the most amazing weekends ever. Why? Because I finally accepted my call. I was talking to my husband the first night we were there. I told him that I felt like God was calling me to be a pastor. His response? "About time you acknowledge it!" The next day, after several exercises of mock church situations, I was approached by the pastor who was overseeing the assessment. She (yes, it's a woman) asked me if I felt called into ministry. I laughed and told her that I, in fact, did feel called but that I was trying to figure out what that meant because I was still fighting the mental battle of "women are not called". She paused and just waited for me to realize that I was talking to a woman. I laughed and told her that I had never denied her call, but in my mind, God could not be calling me... but obviously I was wrong. Later that day, and male pastor also asked me if I felt called, and I confirmed it but that I was going to need to pray about what that meant. They told me to go to my senior pastor and tell him I felt called and to ask about getting my local license.

Several months later, and more thinking about where God was calling me, Jason went before the district board for his district license. The fact was, they had pretty much already made their decision about Jason's licensing and spent a majority of the interview talking to me. They asked if I had talked to my senior pastor, and I told them I had but that I was waiting to get my local license until the fall so I could get started on schooling. They encouraged me to go ahead and get the license before the fall in hopes that I could get the necessary time in before next year's district licensing meetings.

I received my local license in May after going before our church board and expressing my call. Through prayer, I had realized that my call is to help kindle a desire for God's word. Throughout my experiences serving in the church, one thing that always bothered me was when someone who grew up in the church had no concept of what the Bible actually said. Pastor's kids did not know the basic Bible stories. Adults who taught Sunday School did not even understand basic biblical principles... I decided to pursue a degree majoring in Christian Education with a minor in Pastoral Ministry.

Now, since accepting my call, I know there have been people who have viewed my pursuing a ministry degree as unbiblical due to their interpretations of the Bible, but today was the first time anyone had the nerve to actually voice it since I accepted my call. But they didn't say it to me, no instead they said it to another female pastor. Telling her that women only become pastors because they do not like to be told they can't. I'm sorry, there are easier ways to prove that a man can't tell me what to do than to become a pastor. A pastor's job is no easy task.

But the fact is, I am not called by man. I am called by God. If you have a problem with me being a pastor, take it up with the one who called me. Otherwise, shhh!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Intro

My husband has been pursing his call to preach The Word since he was sixteen years old and preached for the first time in a youth lead service. He received his first local license in 2006. Between then and when we met in 2011 is his story to tell, but when we were considering pursuing a relationship, he told me that he was called to be a pastor and that if I had any problem with that, the relationship would not work out.
I had felt called into ministry since I was a little girl and at 8-years-old, I told my mom that I would one day marry a pastor. When I grew up, I decided to do my own thing for a while, but God brought me back to where he wanted me when I met Jason. I already knew I liked him. He was funny and he actually valued what I had to say. But when he told me he felt called to be a pastor, I knew there was more to our future than just a friendly crush.
We began talking in July 2011 but our first face-to-face interaction was in October. He lived in Indiana and I was nannying out in Colorado. He and his buddies decided to take a road-trip to the Grand Canyon and decided to stop for a few days in Colorado Rocky Mountains. After months of talking, and an evening of spending time with him, I knew I was in love. We spent two whole days together (with his friends) as I showed off the scenery of the town I lived in. When he left to continue their trip to Arizona, I cried. I felt as though a part of me was leaving with him.
Jason and my minister's licenses along with photos
of our very first groups we ministered to!
The following month, Jason purchased me a ticket to visit him over Thanksgiving. Really, this was the ultimate test. If I met his family and either they did not like me, or I did not like them, we were going to call it quits. We were not going to pursue a relationship that put a strain on his relationship with his family. We had both been in those situations and we were not about to go through that again. Obviously, I loved his family! His two brothers were hysterical, his younger one even conducting an interview making sure I was good enough for his brother. His youngest sister and I, while he was at work, went shopping at Goodwill looking for ugly sweaters, his other sister, you cannot help loving because she wants to love everyone! His mom and Grandma I immediately fell in love with and they made me feel so welcome there with them.
The following February, I dragged Jason to visit my family in Oregon. He made quite the impression on my family to the point my dad even asked me when we were planning to get married (He had not asked me yet). Even my older sister (who is extremely difficult to impress) gave me her blessing with Jason.
In April, Jason flew out to see me in Colorado again. This time, it was to celebrate his birthday which was the following week and he asked me to marry him. July 1, 2012 we got married and I moved to Indiana to be with him.
Three kids, and four moves later we are now in Pennsylvania. My husband is now the associate pastor at Monongahela Church of the Nazarene. Jason had a lot of red-tape to tear through to get where he is now in Ministry, but together, here we are. Jason was finally able to obtain his first District license this past year, and I received my first Local license shortly after his approval. In December, I began classes through Nazarene Bible College… two weeks after our third child was born. It is crazy looking back on how far God has brought us in the last five (almost six) years but I cannot wait to see what God is going to do next!

Not your "typical" pastor's wife

I am not sure what your idea of a “typical pastor’s wife” is. Is a typical PW a woman who plays the piano? Does she serve in a specific department of the church? Does she homeschool her children? Honestly, I can assure you that there is no one mold for what a pastor’s wife looks like, but whatever your pre-determined expectations are of me, I can assure you I will not fulfill them.
My name is Nicole Barnett. I am a 27-year-old mom of three kids. I serve along-side my husband (who is the associate pastor of our church) in whatever capacity the church or my husband needs, but I am far from what you would call typical. While I have taken lessons as a child, I do not play the piano and it would probably take me several months to refresh myself on how to play.  While I have been in leadership in the Children’s department of the various churches I have attended, there is another lady in our church who is a lot more gifted in that department than I am. I have served on the worship team, but I most certainly do not have an angelic voice.
At home, I am not your typical pastor’s wife either. While my mother made sure I learned to mend and clean and cook, I find I have more important things to worry about than a spotless house. The parsonage walls, which were painted white, are now colorful with the doodles of my toddlers – paint will cover that. The floor is constantly cluttered with dolls, cars, and dinosaurs (not to mention the various baby equipment scatted throughout the house), and there is an Everest sized mountain of clothes down in the laundry room waiting to be washed. There are more important things than a spotless house.
My children will never believe that their childish coloring on the walls will cost them the love of their parents. The teens in our youth group, hopefully, will never feel that housework comes before them. I pray that the church never feels that my fitting a mold has gotten in the way of my husbands or my ability to be available to them. Instead, I hope that my not fitting into some pre-conceived box helps me make more of a difference.
One way I am not fitting the mold is that I too am becoming a pastor. I currently have my local ministers license and have begun schooling towards a degree in Christian Education. I am not content to just sit in the pew quietly and let the congregation tune out what the word of God says. My heart is to help other’s gain this uncontrolled hunger for the word of God. People who have grown up in the church do not even know the basic Bible stories. Adults who are expected to teach the children barely can navigate the Bible. Children, instead of being taught from the Bible, are taught stories with good morals. If we are the Body of Christ, we need to be sharing what God has said and done.

Nearly every Monday, I get on a live-streaming app and talk to people about God, life, ministry, and try to answer general questions. You can join me here as I continue to pursue the call of God on my life. 

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