The Busy

The Busy

It never fails… once I begin to feel like I’m getting a handle on this church planting thing, our lives get even busier.  There are rarely nights home as a family… our laptops come out to finish work as soon as the kiddos are in bed… and my hubby and I forget to connect.  It isn’t until we are laying in bed, ready to say prayers, that I realize… “I have so much I want to say to him… but he’s almost snoring already!  I should have put my laptop down and just forced him to talk to me earlier.”  Ha!

The thing is, within our marriage, I’m not the only one who notices when we barely have time for each other.  Just the other day, Michael spoke to me, with a slight whine to his voice.  “Hun, are you going to be busy every night this week with meetings?”  He gets it.  I get it.

So… when we realized we had to get a handle on our time together, we sat down and made some specific choices that are helping our marriage.

Put Down Technology

For us, after a certain time (decided by both of us), we put down our laptops, phones and turn from the TV to actually engage in each other. We need to talk about anything BUT work.  (And it’s usually church work that we want to discuss…)

Family Dinner

This is something that begins to lack noticeably when we began to become more and more busy.  As of now, we’ve stopped grabbing a bite to eat even when we’re running late from soccer.  We go home, make sandwiches (or I prepare something in the crockpot beforehand) and we sit down as a family and talk.  I’ve seen a huge difference in our boys’ lives.  They are more self-controlled, less whiny and are more content than when we’re forgoing our dinners around our table.  Plus, we take this time to discuss serious and silly matters that we don’t normally talk about (and they LOVE this.)

Regular Date Nights

Many of you may think… “Yeah, yeah, yeah… we’ve all heard that before.”  But seriously people… are you taking dates with your spouse regularly (at least twice a month)?  This is so important!  And they don’t need to be extravagent!  We have had a date as simple as putting the kids to bed, grabbing a “redbox” DVD and snuggling on the couch.

Weekend Retreats

No kids allowed.  Seriously.  We have, since we were newlyweds, made sure that we have an escape away from our home in order to reconnect with each other.  Every other year, at least, we schedule a weekend away (using calling our parents to come and stay with the kids) and GO.  We usually take this time to focus on us as a couple… and not on anything else that’s going on around our lives.  (Check out a Weekend to Remember… they have great marriage retreats and hotels lined up fairly often.)

Family Vacations

This is extremely important.  My husband and I have decided that we will try to take a minimum of 2 vacations as a family.  Find someone reliable to fill in your shoes at the church while you’re gone and go visit family that lives in another state… travel more to stay at a resort hotel with water slides for the kids… or plan a quiet camping trip.  We all need time where our kids will see us “stress-less” or more in tune to them.  Sometimes getting away from your church can be useful.  It will give you a time of rejuvenation, stillness and extra bonding time for your family.  When you return to your church plant, you will be ready to jump back in, fully recharged.

It’s Worth It

True rejuvenation will occur when you see the fruit that God has planted within your church.  You will watch as it grows and matures into something beyond understanding.  I love this passage in 1 Thessalonians where Paul is speaking so sweetly to the church there.

1 Thessalonians 2:9-13 (The Message)

9-12 You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn’t have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God’s Message to you. You saw with your own eyes how discreet and courteous we were among you, with keen sensitivity to you as fellow believers. And God knows we weren’t freeloaders! You experienced it all firsthand. With each of you we were like a father with his child, holding your hand, whispering encouragement, showing you step-by-step how to live well before God, who called us into his own kingdom, into this delightful life.

13 And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks! When you got the Message of God we preached, you didn’t pass it off as just one more human opinion, but you took it to heart as God’s true word to you, which it is, God himself at work in you believers!

Keep pressing on, friends.  Remember that God is with you and wants the best for you… no matter how busy you become!

Joys in Planting

Joys in Planting

Although planting is difficult, and sometimes crazy, there are joys that come from growing a new church.

1)People Take Ownership

Something amazing happens when people in your new church see gaps.  And by gaps, I mean areas that need help.  Soon, they’re asking you, “Where can I help?” or they just roll their sleeves up and jump in.

2) It Morphs Into a Family

When you see the beginning stages of a family form, in the name of Christ, you will witness something amazing.  You will almost be able to sit back and watch as people begin to connect and form relationships.  They will soon begin to own the relationships, taking time to check in with each other, providing for each other’s needs, reaching out and asking questions in order to help… basically acting the way a true family should.

3) New Believers

This is the most exciting part of church planting: bringing new believers to Christ who beforehand would never have stepped inside a church.  Church plants are able to reach more people for Christ than stagnant, established churches.  Why is this?  Maybe it’s because most church plants don’t have established cliques or rules that have been in place for hundreds of years (Why can’t kids run through the sanctuary??).  When you share the Gospel with a new believer, something amazing happens and an instant family bond is formed.  It is worthy of a celebration!

What other joys do you find in church planting?  Comment below.

A Fourth Hook

My husband and I have known in our hearts for 9 years that God is leading us to adopt.  We knew even though God had and would bless us with biological children, that He was telling us to leave a spot in our lives for another child.  A child not born into our family… but one that would complete our family.

The years have passed, and God has blessed us with 3 wonderful boys.  And yet, there is still that ache in my heart that knows our family is not complete.  At times, I begin to panic, thinking that we aren’t moving fast enough… but it is during those times, God whispers to me, “Not yet… just wait…”  I have to suck in my breath, close my eyes, and just be still.  It is hard… but I know that one day He will begin to speak… or shout… that it is TIME!

Michael and I will then frantically begin clearing out that spare bedroom and pulling down the spare bed out of the attic.  We will be ready when our adopted child walks (or is carried) through the door.  Our boys will be ready too.  We have raised them knowing that one day we would add to our family.  They look forward to it!  Our oldest still asks for a sister.  We do not know what child God will send to us… but we know that we already love them.

How can that be?  We do not know who they are, what personality they will have, whether or not they will like soccer… but we have a God who has adopted us… and loved us so much that He sent His only Son to die in our place!  And with a God like that, love should never be a problem.  Sure, it will be hard… but when we follow God into something, He is already there waiting for us.

We have several panels of hooks in our home; hooks that hold backpacks, hooks that hold coats and hooks that hold towels.  For some reason, when you buy a panel of hooks, they come in four hooks to a panel.  The other day, my OCD self was walking past the hooks, irritated that my husband had designated 3 out of the 4 hooks to our boys.  One was left over.

“Who’s supposed to take the last hook, Michael?  You?  Or me?”  I harrumphed.

He smiled, his sweet, endearing crooked smile and said, “Our next child, Meg.”

(He’s such a planner… LOVE HIM.)