Over the Line

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Have you ever felt so passionate about something that you found yourself crossing the line? Possibly even to the point of being pushy?

Last year I became a Skincare Consultant. I was super excited to get started because I loved the products! Sure, there were other opportunities with direct sales companies, but this one…well it was the best and I wanted everyone to know it.

I had this thing in my head that working for the number one skincare company in N. America with the best products on the market, are pretty much going to sell themselves.

Right?

Have you ever joined something like this where you believed so much in the products that you won’t have to do a thing? Just put it out there and cha-ching the products will sell themselves.

Hindsight is always 20/20 and now I see how naïve I was to think such thoughts. And honestly, I had never been in sales before in my life.

Shortly after joining the company, I had an event at my house and invited a few friends. I wanted them to hear and see the products and fall in love with them like I did. The party went well although nobody bought a thing.

I was disappointed and tried not to show it.

I gave them samples as they left my home that night and followed up the next week.

One friend stopped responding to my texts, but that didn’t stop me from texting. I just kept right on letting her know how great the products were and the special offers we had going on at that time. I wanted her to purchase the products and find the same results I was finding in them. But she didn’t seem to be interested and when I realized I was the only one texting about these amazing products, I felt pushy and over the line.

I stopped texting and prayed about my crazy excitement of oversharing. I realized that my excitement and passion over these products was too much and I was being overly pushy.

I sent an apology text.

She didn’t reply.

I thought to myself, I have ruined this friendship and I was sad.

I prayed for my friend and for our relationship.

I realized that the only passion I should share so crazily is the love of my Savior. I found myself praying over my friends and relatives much I like did before I found my skincare business.

Do you know what happened?

My business started to grow.

Fast forward several months after my extreme pushiness, I had dinner with my friend. At dinner, she asked me about one of the products and decided to purchase. It was so pleasant to share the love of these products with someone who was ready and willing.

It was easy and much more fun!

Lesson learned…

I had put the Lord first as I believe he gave me this business opportunity and if that’s the case, He will bless it.

So the next time you find something you love and feel passionate about, take my advice and make sure you aren’t more excited about it than that of our Lord Jesus Christ.

He’s worth all the passion in the world, yet he doesn’t push his love on us.

He gently extends his arms to welcome us in the good times and in the bad.

He graciously offers his love in a way that always invites and never pushes over the line.

Jesus replied, “This is the work of God — that you believe in the one he has sent. John 6:29

 

 

 

 

Church Work is the Hardest Work

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My husband’s grandpa served as pastor for approximately 45 years. Grandpa Thomas knew adversity and had overcome several obstacles during his life. He was a strong yet tender man and he had a saying that I remember him saying several times; “church work is the hardest work”.

I didn’t understand what he meant at that time, but I certainly do now. You see I worked on church staff for six years as the Director of Congregational Care and Adult Discipleship in the Methodist Church. I came on staff after being a member of my church for five years. I don’t have a seminary degree, I just have a heart to serve Jesus. I’ve led Bible studies for many years and do my best to be a faithful and obedient servant and apply the Word of God. I have a wonderful husband and family and they support me in whatever I want to do and wherever God is calling me.

I have contemplated and prayed carefully over this post. I have sought God to be sure this honors Him. The purpose of this writing is to help others who either work in the church or care about the behind-the-scenes activities in the church.

I want to express love and respect for those I served and those I served with on staff. I believe there are many who are serving on church staff who feel isolated and alone on their journey. My hope is this will help those who are currently working in the church to feel understood. I also hope that this will help those who love the church and want to support their church staff.

From my experience on staff, I found that not many are willing to publicly share their journey of working on staff in the church. It seems taboo to speak of the happenings inside the church and quite frankly, I’ve heard church members express that they don’t want to know what is going on behind the Sunday morning experience. They don’t want to know the politics of running a church or the business aspect of making it happen from week to week. Some don’t want it to interrupt their spiritual experience. If that’s the case, don’t read this post and I completely love you anyway.

This is primarily written for the men and women who show up and do the work of a church staff person. They are not ordained or appointed ministers. They are quiet servants who may or may not have their pictures published in the church bulletin, newsletter, or website. However, they are the ones who make the work of the church happen. They care, they pray, they tithe to their workplace, they live ministry every day and often feel no one cares, no one sees, and no one notices. They know that ultimately, they do the work for God. This gives them fuel for a while.

Until…

One day they start to realize they are tired and their energy is depleted and they start to wonder if it’s all worth it.

They want to continue but they are tired.

This is where I found myself.

And there’s a name for it…ministry burnout.

My journal entry dated February 1, 2017 ~

I am thinking about leaving the church. No, not the church in general, but the church staff position in which I serve.

I have had it.

I am burned out.

I am done.

I have given nearly six years of my life and it feels like 60.

So, what happened to the excitement and passion I felt at the beginning of this journey? Let’s go back and see how it began.

~ The Beginning ~

I started working in the United Methodist Church as Congregational Care Coordinator. I remember so vividly the excitement of my first Sunday on staff and thinking how cool it was to get paid to love on these people. I even told those closest to me, “I get to talk to people for four to five hours on Sunday morning and someone pays me to do this.” I thought, what gives? This is awesome! I love listening to people, caring for them, and hearing about what is going on in their lives. This is the greatest job ever!!

~ One month later ~

I was asked to take on the role of Adult Discipleship. You know how it goes when a church staff person leaves and someone must fill the job because there isn’t enough money to hire someone specifically for that role. I said “yes” with one condition, that I would not allow myself to become so overworked that I would neglect myself spiritually or physically. I saw what happened to other staff persons. I recall very specifically persons who did not take care of themselves as they worked themselves to death caring for others. I did not want that to happen to me so I expressed that I would not neglect these areas of my life. I did not feel God was calling me to be a martyr in this way.

Now as I look back, I see such wisdom in those words.

If only I would have applied them.

~ Over the years ~

I don’t know many times I sat with loved ones who were grieving.

I don’t know how many funerals I organized/attended.

I don’t know how many people I helped in the way of benevolence.

I don’t know how many Bible studies/classes I led.

I don’t know how many people were affected by the ministries entrusted to me.

What I do know is that I found myself right here in this place of being completely done.

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

~ 2017 ~

I want to share my journal with you to show you some of the crazy roller coaster of emotions I was dealing with in trying to make it work. One minute I was thinking I can do this and felt inspired and the next minute, I felt defeated and done. During this time, I was praying, spending time with God, reading my Bible, and meeting with a prayer partner.

My journal entry dated January 1, 2017

I reposted something from Facebook today that resonated with how I am feeling.
Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Isaiah 43:19

My journal entry dated February 6, 2017

Today, I feel like…I can persevere through this tough season. I am just so overwhelmed with leading three classes and having trust issues with certain people. I find myself thinking that change is coming.

My journal entry dated February 12, 2017

This Sunday morning before going to work, I had a conversation with my father-in-law and told him that I may be experiencing ministry burnout. He is a very wise man who loves God and the church. He told me that if my joy is gone, then it’s time to leave. He is right and so I’m praying and asking God if my joy is gone to the point of being time for me to leave. This is where I will spend time seeking God and see where it leads.

~ The Rest of the Story ~

I’ve been praying and seeking God about what to do. After a time, away with some of the staff at a conference, it is becoming clearer to me. I feel a pull toward leaving. One staff person gave me permission to do what is best for me. In some ways, this is liberating.

A few weeks later as a new organizational chart is being put in place. I want to say “yes” and I try to say “yes” but as soon as I do, I feel sick to my stomach.

The Holy Spirit is telling me “no”.

I don’t want it to be no, so I thought I’ll just “fake it till I make it”.

It didn’t happen.

My yes on Friday turned into a no on Monday. A few things that spoke to me during that time; God’s Word in Matthew 5:37, But let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes,’ and your ‘no’ be ‘no’, a daily inspirational message, my devotional, and wonderful Christian friends.

 

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Sometimes it just comes down to that deeper whisper within that says, “Uh-huh yes.” Or a simple, “No, not that.” God has woven into us the ability to discern what is best.

A friend reminded me that my calling is bigger than any workplace. My calling comes from God and He will use me no matter where I go. This was a good reminder and one that I knew, but it takes good friends to remind us during these times. The heartfelt counsel of a friend is as sweet as perfume and incense. Proverbs 27:9

 

I gave my notice and it was not really received that day, but I had settled the matter with God and in my heart. After a few more days, it became official and my last day was March 31, 2017.

Some of the things I learned along the way was just how much God was moving and acting on my behalf. A series of events took place in order for me to leave and there is not one person to blame for my leaving. Honestly, I was just stubborn and didn’t want to leave. I loved the congregation and I loved my job, but I was tired and it was time. I recall thinking about those stubborn Israelites who didn’t want to move when God said move and I was no different. The staff and congregation were wonderful to me and gave me a very nice good-bye.

In looking back, I have often thought about what I could have done to prevent burnout. Here’s my list of recommendations:

  • Take a sabbatical.
    • I believe taking a sabbatical would have made a huge difference for me. If you are in a position of caring for people, it doesn’t matter if you are ordained in ministry or not, you must take time to be away and rest. Even Jesus did this and we read about it in Mark 6. Jesus had to get away in the boat to a remote place and rest.
  • Don’t say “yes” to everything.
    • I could have said no and kept better boundaries. Responsibilities in the church can multiply especially when members/volunteers come and go. The ministries continue and often staff is expected to continue what a member/volunteer started.
  • Take your days off.
    • Don’t work on your days off unless it’s an emergency. Put an on-call schedule in place and really take your day(s) off. Unplug and don’t check your email on your phone on your days off. This is hard because our smartphones are killing us by the way we can never unplug. We are meant to unplug.
  • God, Family, Work.
    • This was meant to be the priority for all and even for those who work in the church. We preach it to people and church staff are the first ones to break the rule. If you see your family life start to suffer, take steps to change it right away. For me working too many evenings and weekends took too much time away from my family. They never complained, but I can see where they made sacrifices over the years. Keep the priority of God, Family, Work. I know God didn’t call me to sacrifice my family, if anything, it’s my first ministry above any other ministry entrusted to me.

Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed. Proverbs 16:3

Some of you my fear losing your job if you put some of the above recommendations in place. Let me remind you what Proverbs 29:25 says, Fearing people is a dangerous trap, but trusting in the LORD means safety.

Looking back I can see the hand of God moving me to a place of rest and I’m grateful that I am able to rest. I miss the people I served but I love how God is moving and stirring. In some ways, God has brought me full circle and if I had not had this experience on staff, I would have missed it.

My calling has not changed, just the vehicle in which it happens. I am called to help people move from a place of religion and tradition to a relationship with Jesus Christ. I have a special place in my heart to help women in their relationship with Jesus so I am going back to work on the book I started, Spiritual Makeup Bag, Beauty from the Inside Out. Who knows where it will go or if it will go anywhere. The only thing I do know is that I feel God calling me back to this book project of helping women find time each day with Him and learn how to care for their soul while caring for their skin and applying makeup.

Jesus said in John 10:10b, I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance. Jesus came to give us life and not just life eternal, but abundant life here on earth. We are meant to thrive! Thrive is the word God has given me for this time in my life and it is exactly what I plan to do in this next season.

I’m praying you will thrive too!

This post is being released on August 9, 2017 in honor of Reverend Doyle “Bob” R. Thomas who gave his life to church work. Bob was born on August 9, 1923 and entered into rest on October 1, 2000. His last sermon was based on Isaiah 41:10, Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Darkness to Light

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My grandparents bibles.

To open their eyes so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that by faith in Me (Jesus) they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified. Acts 26:18

Félix changed…I don’t know the exact date he changed, but I know he changed in 1956.

Félix was born 100 years ago today on August 13, 1915 and he was the oldest of ten children. He married Vivian Burns in 1940 and they had one son named Terry.

Félix liked to have a good time and he could party. He went out drinking…a lot! He liked to drink, gamble, and fist fight.

This is a story about how Félix changed sort of like Paul did on the road to Damascus.

But first, I want to tell you about his wild days before he changed. Félix lived in the small town of Sapulpa, Oklahoma. He was a hard worker by day and wild man at night. Most nights he would go and listen to Western Swing bands such as Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, Johnnie Lee Wills, and Leon McAuliffe. Leon McAuliffe was an American Western swing musician who was famous for his steel guitar solos with Bob Wills and The Texas Playboys.

Félix’s wife, Vivian, dealt with her husband’s way of partying for the first 16 years of their marriage. I remember her telling me how hard these times were for her and their family. It really was the worst of times.

Then one day….. Felix changed.

In August 1956, Felix’s son, got really sick and had to be hospitalized. His appendix had ruptured and surgery was necessary to save his life. Felix realized he had spent his time and effort in all the wrong places. He begged God for a second chance with his son and told God if He would save his son, he would turn to him and change his ways.

Terry made it through the surgery and fully recovered.  If he had not, I would not be writing this post today since he is my dad. My grandpa kept his end of the deal and went to church and at 41 years old, he gave his life to Jesus. He changed and I mean really changed!

Félix changed

As far as the family knew, he never took another sip of alcohol after he came into a relationship with Jesus and many would say he was an alcoholic.

Felix changed.

On one occasion, he was leaving the movie theater and he saw two guys from his past.  One of the guys asked, “Félix, we heard you were a Christian now, what are you doing at the movies?” After that he never went back to the movies again. Honestly, in this day and time, it’s not a bad idea. What’s up with shooters in movie theaters these days? The enemy will try anything to make us live in fear and I refuse to be bullied by him! Oh sorry, I got distracted. So Félix quit going to the movies and the reason had to do with his witness for Christ. If someone saw him leave the movies and that caused them to stumble, then he shouldn’t do it. Romans 14:13b, Instead, decide never to put a stumbling block or pitfall in your brother’s way. Now he didn’t put this on anyone else. He did not care if his wife and son went to the movies. He looked after his own witness and listened to the Holy Spirit. I love how personal God is with each one of us regarding how we live out our life and walk with Him.

Félix changed.

He attended church regularly and taught a youth Sunday School class. He would sit at the kitchen table and go over his lesson with his wife. His son would lay in bed in the next room and listen to his dad go over his lessons before class. As a result, he would know all the answers in Sunday School. He also learned a lot about the bible which has stayed with him to this day.

Félix changed.

He was a deacon at the First Baptist Church for many years and he prayed powerful prayers. He had a deep voice that carried and his prayers were heartfelt and emotional. He would come off gruff but had the demeanor of a big olé teddy bear. You could sense the presence of God when he prayed.

Félix changed.

He visited the sick in the hospital and made home visits to those who were ill and aging. He didn’t stay long but long enough to check on the person and pray for them before heading out to the next stop. Again, this was something he did on his own as the power of God moved in him to serve. He did not expect anyone else to do what he was doing, but did this service because he wanted to serve God in this way. It’s interesting to me that in my position on staff at the church that I care for the sick and aging.

Félix changed.

As a result, others changed too. He became a well-respected man at work, in the community, and at home. The power of Christ in him spread like a sweet fragrance. By the time I came along, he was a fantastic grandpa! When I was a little girl, every time I went to his house for a visit, he would take me to get an icee. This became a tradition for us and one I will always cherish as a special memory. He loved me like crazy and not just me, he loved our whole family.

Félix changed.

At Christmas when our family would be opening gifts, he would record our voices on his cassette player (cassettes were used after 8-tracks but before CD’s) so he could play it later to remember our special time together. He would get emotional at the goodness of God for his family. He was truly thankful for us and all his blessings and would tell us often, especially at Christmas each year.

Félix changed.

I’m so thankful for his transformation. As I think about his life, I don’t know if he ever went on a mission trip but I know he did mission in his community. He was generous to others and willing to help those in need. He was a kind and transformed man who loved well.

Félix changed.

God brought this to mind today as I remember the fact that my grandpa would have been 100 years old this year if he were still alive. He died in 1997 just before his 82 birthday. I cherish his life and I cherish my Lord Jesus. You see I was staying with my grandparents one summer in Oklahoma when I knew I needed Jesus and guess what?

I changed!

If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9

How do you want to be remembered when others reflect on your 100th birthday?

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Grandpa Barnhart, me, and Grandpa Rivers on my wedding day.

Love Made Known

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John 17:20-26 Jesus Prays for All Believers
20 “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— 23 I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

24 “Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.

25 “Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. 26 I have made you[e] known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.”

Jesus was betrayed and led to his death on the cross, but right before that happened he prayed for all believers. He prayed for unity among believers and complete unity with himself and God. He said if we have this unity, then the world will know that God sent Jesus and the world would understand God’s love.

I wonder if we have missed the mark and this saddens me. I don’t know if we are united as a group of believers. I don’t necessarily see us all working together for the kingdom as much as working to make our own churches or ministries successful. We get so hung up on our doctrine that we forget lives are on the line.

Last weekend, I attended a memorial service for my uncle who was a Jehovah Witness. It’s my understanding that he believed Jesus existed but didn’t believe he needed him as a Savior. He didn’t believe in hell and didn’t believe he needed “saving” from his sin. He “worked” hard to achieve in that faith and believed his “good works” would allow him to be resurrected when Jesus comes to establish his kingdom on earth. Until then, he will be asleep like being under anesthesia is how it was explained at his memorial service.

I loved my uncle, he was my mother’s brother. There were approximately 20 Christ believing followers at his service among approximately 100 Jehovah Witnesses. We were definitely outnumbered but all of us were praying for them while they were trying to convince us of their belief system. You see the power of God and God’s love can and will transform hearts under any circumstances. Unfortunately, it’s too late for my uncle but it’s never too late for those who are still drawing breath.

Will you unite with me and join me in praying for those who need to know God’s love and saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ? Because when Christ does return, my hope is that we can say we did all we could.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. 2 Corinthians 13:13

Cloudy Times

Today the clouds are gray and there is a breath of coolness in this summer morn. It is summer, yet the day doesn’t reveal the strong nature of a summer day in Texas. The day seems questionable as to whether it will produce rain or sun and if it will be warm or cool.

I find myself wondering what the day will bring much like the circumstances that surround me. After all, this is the last day my husband will perform his job. He was hired nearly 14 years ago by his company and was recently told his job was being eliminated. Now he waits to hear if he has a job as this is the last day he will work in his current role. This leaves uncertainty and with uncertainty comes insecurity.

When I give this much thought, I feel silly. Silly because who knows what tomorrow brings? None of us really know but we plan according to today and last week and last month and last year. We like certainty and a plan yet this is not reality. The only thing I am certain of is the God I know and serve yet have never seen with my eyes. Isn’t it funny the things that seem certain with our eyes is not and what we cannot see is certain. This is the whole premise of faith mentioned in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen”.

Dave Ramsey says that women have a gland that spasms when we worry about the uncertainty of security and provision (ie: money). He is right, we do! Did God make us this way? It’s funny to me that as a woman I have this “gland” yet I also have the ability to trust God completely and know he always provides. I will let the gland rest as I trust God with this matter. You see God knew this was coming all along and I’ll just bet on God to have a better plan when this is all said and done.

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Love of Money and Wealth = Futile

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The one who loves money is never satisfied with money, and whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with income. This too is futile. Ecclesiastes 5:10

 Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 gives us seven reasons not to devote ourselves to getting rich.  

  1.  Seeking wealth is an endless quest and those seeking are never satisfied.
  2. The more you have, the more consumers around you who care only about your money.
  3. Once you have an abundance, all you can do is look at it.  
  4. Worry and anxiety keep you awake at night, your thoughts are consumed with your money and investments.
  5. The more you have, the more you risk. In one deal you could leave your children with nothing.
  6. You can’t take it with you!
  7. The love of money will leave you in darkness with much sorrow, sickness, and anger.

The bible goes on to tell us that you are better off not to have been born than to love money and wealth. Why? Because when you love money and wealth, there is no happiness. It is a life without joy and a life that is wasted. How sad and how true for many people even believers. 

These verses speak to me and I wonder how much is enough? Am I content with what I have or better yet, what I don’t have? I truly want God to be my focus and if money comes with that, praise The Lord. This is the attitude that I desire for my mind and heart. 

Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 Here is what I have seen to be good: it is appropriate to eat, drink, and experience good in all the labor one does under the sun during the few days of his life God has given him, because that is his reward. God has given riches and wealth to every man, and He has allowed him to enjoy them, take his reward, and rejoice in his labor. This is a gift of God, for he does not consider the days of his life because God keeps him occupied with the joy of his heart.

What’s more important, the love of money or wealth or joy in your heart? You cannot serve two masters.  Choose the better one today.

Self Evaluation

The slacker craves, yet has nothing, but the diligent is fully satisfied. Proverbs 13:4

Pride comes before destruction, and an arrogant spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

Does anyone despise workplace self evaluations like I do? I really do not enjoy completing a form listing all my accomplishments over the past year. I understand the necessity, especially when the people you report to are new to the workplace. However, it just feels bad! And I am taught by God word’s to carefully watch my pride. Pride can swell up as I start thinking about all that has been accomplished through my work and it just seems like dangerous territory.

I was recently sharing with a friend that a few years ago I was cleaning houses. This was a good way for me to work part time making some money while my son was in school. I love to work and have always worked over the years even while I was a “stay at home mom”. I believe God had me cleaning toilets for six years to teach me a few things, one of which was to be humble and serve others. To appreciate all the jobs I held in the past from an Assistant Vice President of a bank to a Employee Benefit Coordinator of an insurance company as well as becoming a licensed insurance agent. I have always sought the highest position available to me in the companies I have worked for in the past. What position could I possibly accomplish in cleaning toilets? I found myself praying over the families I worked for and prayed for the children while cleaning in their rooms. As my heart was positioned in a place of humility, ministry birthed out of housecleaning. I had no idea this would be such a sweet time in my life and my walk with God.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically as something done for The Lord and not for men knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from The Lord.

What a good reminder to work hard for The Lord and not for men. God has the very reward needed to do the work before us so let’s go do the work with enthusiasm. And now that I have positioned my heart toward God and all He has accomplished through me, I am ready to complete that employee self evaluation.

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