Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Waiting in the wings

My friends who love the stage will know the phrase, waiting in the wings. To them these words hold a negative meaning. If you are waiting in the wings you sit and watch as others shine and succeed. You long to be out there on that stage. You fear your time may never come. If you're not careful you can grow sad, sorrowful, and maybe even a little bitter in the wings.

The Cambridge Dictionary defines waiting in the wings as "Someone who is not yet active or important, but are ready or likely to be so soon."

The Collins Dictionary says: "Someone who is waiting in the wings is ready to enter a situation, be brought to public attention, or undertake a role, position etc."

My dear pastor's wives are you waiting for something? Are you waiting for the next ministry position? Are you waiting for resolution to some difficulty, Are you waiting for God to move on your behalf? Does it seem as though the wait is to long, to difficult, to exhausting? 

I get it
Waiting is hard 
I'm waiting right now
I admit it's not been easy
But our Lord as always, teaches me as I wait ...
... in His wings.

Do you see it? Let's just change one little word and suddenly the phrase means something completely different. It's just like God to show me this. Me with my little temper tantrums. How often have I begged Him to answer, only to hear Him say, "Wait." 

In the words of Inigo Montoya from Princess Bride, "I hate wait-ing" 

I've been thinking however about the difference between waiting in THE wings vs waiting in HIS wings. 

Waiting in The wings can trap us into thinking we have a right to be out there on that stage. 

Waiting in His wings frees us to let Him be center stage

Waiting in The wings can lull us into a slumber that renders us useless when the call actually comes

Waiting in His wings empowers us to be ready at any time for any call no matter how small

Waiting in The wings enchants our hearts into dreaming about our own possible greatness

Waiting in His wings breaks the bonds of pride and seeks only to make His name great

Waiting in The wings can render us ineffective for what's right in front of us

Waiting in His wings fuels our hearts to serve Him now.

So dear one you may not be waiting in the wings at all.  If you look closely you'll find that you are waiting in HIS wings. Rest there and let him show you what to do with your time.  His mission is not reliant on your title, position or importance. All He requires is your obedience. Submit to this time of waiting and see what He will do. 

So what do you think? Shall we wait in His wings together? I'd love to hear from you. How do you think waiting in HIS wings can impact your attitudes, heart and actions? 

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings

How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

What if I don't want to make lemonade?

"When life gives you lemons make lemonade!" Such a cheery idea.

Sometimes, I just don't want to make lemonade!

Instead, I cry out like the psalmist:

Save me, O God, 
For the waters have threatened my life.
I have sunk in deep mire, and there is no foothold;
I have come into deep waters, and a flood overflows me.
From Psalm 69

Can you relate? 
Have you felt like you're sinking in a deep mire with no foothold? 
A dear friend of mine and I were talking about this. What she said is so good, I asked her if I could quote her. Here's what she said, 

"I really feel like God not only knocks me to my knees in dependence, but takes me to the mat like a wrestler. Giving up control to let God lead is not easy. I often struggle tooth and nail, but he meets me where I am. Sometimes I waller in my misery. It is at those times I can't sleep and I am not much good for anybody. I think we often enjoy our times of self-pity. But God has made us for so much more than just sitting in the mud. We need to love and encourage each other through these times. It's the greatest commandment." 

When the sourness of life hits us hard, we can't just throw sugar at it.

My heart breaks for my friends who have known true suffering. Trying to make sense of their loss with sweet quotes is just silly. Here's a few ways well meaning friends try to help us make lemonade: 

"Good things come to those who wait."
"God is trying to teach you something."
"There's a reason for everything."

I love these dear friends, but I don't agree with them.

There may be a reason for everything, but that doesn't help me when I'm hurting. 
Jesus is the only one who can rescue me from the mire of self-pity. Jesus is the only one who can save me from drowning in my own tears. 
Jesus says, "Come to me my weary child and let me hold you. I will give you rest." (paraphrase mine)

It is Jesus who keeps me from turning sour. So, if you are sucking on lemons, don't try to make lemonade. Call on Jesus like the Psalmist. 

"You who seek God, let your heart revive.
For the Lord hears the needy."
From Psalm 69

Here's another:

"Let all those who seek you, rejoice and be glad in you.
And let those who love your salvation say continually,
"Let God be magnified."
Yet I am needy and afflicted; 
Hasten to me Oh God!
You are my helper and my deliverer;
Oh Lord, do not delay."
From Psalm 70

Oh, my dear friends, I am sorry for the sour things you are facing. I hope you will rest in the Lord and find that Jesus is all the sweetness you need. 

As always, I'm so glad we are ... 
... under the same wing.
- Joleen 

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Why you should host a Kids Summer Bible Study

We are two days away from our official launch date of our kids summer Bible study. I'm completely blown away by my eleven year old son's eagerness to participate. He is doing the homework each day and coming up with creative ideas to help his friends remember what they've studied. Here he is showing us how to make a paper balloon.

We are studying the book of Titus.

This week he came to me and told me he'd created the Isle of Crete on Minecraft and could he do a demo video. Um.. YES! (Posting soon). My son also plays the clarinet and has learned the song we wrote together about the Isle of Crete.  I'll post an audio snippet of that soon.

If you are reading this, you should know that choosing to host a kids summer bible study is the best investment of time and money I've ever made.  Not only for my son but for his friends who are joining us on Tuesday.

I had other ideas for the summer, a book club, a music camp, a hiking club, an art class. I'm so glad God reminded me that teaching kids to study the bible is so much more important. Besides, we will have some music, a little hiking and art folded into this class.

So, if you're trying to decide what to do with your kids this summer, you can join us live on FB every Tuesday at 10:15 as we work through Kay Arthur's How to study the bible for Kids (Featuring the book of Titus). Of course you could choose to organize your own study. I know you will be blessed if you do!

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

How to leave well: A pastor's wife story

My husband is a Pastor. 
I am a Pastor's wife. 
My kids are Pastor's kids. 
We are without a church. 

The next words in my story may shock you. 

We are happy
We have peace
We are not bitter
We are not angry
We are waiting on God

What kind of story is that? No drama? No crisis? Boring!

Yes, I suppose our story may seem boring but only to those who don't see the amazing drama unfolding all around us. I'll share about that in another post.

This has not always been our story. We've experienced more painful chapters than this. So when I say you can leave well, I don't just mean when things are easy. I know what it's like to have people reject and malign my husband. I know how the rage and anger can boil beneath the surface of my heart when careless words are spoken. Words like, "Oh, everyone has transition, you'll be okay." Careless people don't see that unlike most people who loose their jobs a pastor's family looses their community, their home, their security and sometimes their faith in the church. 

So even though the leaving we are facing right now is filled with well wishes and gracious goodbye's, I know how to leave well in every situation. I know, because God tells me in his Word. You only have to read Paul's words in Philippians or James words to the twelve tribes. Everywhere you look in the Word there are answers to leaving and living well. But for practical reasons, I'd like to give you five ways to leave well. 

Thank God for your church

I know you may think this is strange, but Paul does. Not only to his dear Philippians but also to his ill-behaved Corinthians. He thanked God for the "grace given them in Christ Jesus." 1 Cor. 1:4  and for their "partnership in the Gospel." Phil 1:5

God loves the people in your church. Yes, even the mean ones. He just loves them and sees through them and knows which ones are not really His and which ones have been deceived. He knows which ones are weak and foolish. He knows. So you don't have to. He loves. So you will learn to love like Him. Will you remember to thank God for your church?

 Pray for your church

Check out every one of Paul's books. He always says he is praying for the church. 

When you pray, really pray for your church you gain God' vision for His people. So as we've left every church we've prayed for it to succeed and to grow. We've prayed for the people to be discipled and the children to be taught the truth. We've asked God to keep their hearts tender toward him and to give the leaders wisdom and discernment and clarity. So, I exhort you, don't give up praying for your church.

If you can't say something nice ... you know

Not saying anything at all is sometimes the wisest thing you can do. I know you want to justify and defend and make sure everyone knows you are in the right. But resist that temptation. God is the judge. He will justify and defend your family.  This is the time to practice all those things you've learned and taught over the years. Gracious speech and kind words are best, but if they fail you silence is truly golden. 

Throw yourself a goodbye party

Yeah, this is crazy weird. If your leaving is painful and relationships are broken you may want to just invite a small group of people that you know love you and will miss you. Just be sure to practice 1-3 before they come.  Our church would have thrown us a party, but we felt the parsonage AKA the "Blue House" needed to be the place for the event. Plus, I honestly couldn't bear the thought of long speeches and painful videos in the church basement. I wanted to focus on the relationships. The people. The dear faces that I would miss every Sunday. So we divided everyone up by alphabet and invited them to our home. The church ladies provided cake and beverages and took shifts serving. Someone made a memories book for everyone to sign. It was a sweet time of sharing, crying, and laughing at old memories together. 

 Keep in touch with those you trust

It's possible there isn't a single person on this list for you. I'm so sorry, I've been there. It hurts. But, If there are some you trust,  do something together as soon as possible. Don't let time sweep away what you've forged as friends. You are going to need them in the next few months. The first few Sundays are the hardest so don't be afraid to text a friend for prayer.  As you launch out as "lay people", God can use these faithful few to sustain you and you can still have a ministry in their lives. 

I'd like to add to #5 to encourage your friends to stay with your former church. The church needs their influence and strength as much as you do. 

Well, I'm already thinking of five more things to help you leave well. But, I'll save them for another time. For now, dearest PW remember that we are ...

... Under the same wing.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Potted Tree Branch DIY

This post does contain affliate links
I'm in love with these potted trees. They were so much fun to make. I started out with one and ended up making ten. 

Here's how you can make one or ten of your own! 

Gather discarded branches. We happen to have a brush pile on our property, so I just went to the pile and figured out which ones I liked. 

Spray Paint:

I covered a table with a drop cloth and laid all my branches out on it. I then proceeded to spray paint the branches three different colors. I used Krylon sea foam, vanilla and slate blue spray paints. Layering your paints give the branches a beautiful look. 

Spray Foam: 
This stuff is messy so wear gloves and goggles when spraying 

Once your branches are dry choose the ones you want to put together. Place them in plastic flower pot  Fill in around the branches with small pebbles. (warning: don't use soil as the caulk won't stick to it) 
Now spray caulk in and around the branches filling the pot 1/2 -3?4 full. Don't fill it completely or the caulk will expand and overflow. 

Above you can see my pots. The caulk has expanded and is holding all my trees in place. I did go in with a sharp knife and cut the dried caulk so it was level with the pot. You don't have to do this, but I liked the flat look best. 


The one on the left is sphagmum the right is reindeer moss.

So I tried reindeer moss and it was a disaster. I suggest Sphagmum moss or super moss. It's a brighter color and easier to work with. Just spread a generous amount of modge podge onto the caulked surface and press your moss onto it. 

Stick silk flowers into the moss and wrap your pot with burlap for  finished look. Or simply add some stones and leave it simple.

Lights and butterflies: 

I used battery powered mini white lights. I found them in the wedding section at Walmart. 

So I bought a pack of paper from Michaels that had birds, nests and butterflies printed on the cardstock pages. I cut them out and hot glued them into place. I also used some of the sphagmum moss to create little nests and hot glued those onto branches as well. 

The result was magical! 

For a simple look simply spray paint the branches and add the moss. 

Folding Screen DIY

Honestly, these are the cutest things I've ever made! I made two different folding screens for a women's event at church. But they would look adorable in a bedroom or on a porch or anywhere you like! 

Of course the girls that took pictures in front of them were the cutest of all. 

Here's the blue one. You can see it on stage behind the ladies

Because of time restraints, I did enlist the help of my husband. However, I'm confident you can do this on your own. It's so easy!

Here's what you need to make one screen. I made two screens, a blue one and a green one so I doubled everything on the list below.

You need:
A drill
Six - 24" long 1" x 3" pine boards
Six - 60: long 1" x 3" pine boards
Twenty four - 1 1/4" wood screws
Eighteen - 3/4" wood screws
four - 2" long hinges
Thick floral wire. I used 24 guage
Wire cutters
Behr Semi Transparent stain
Paint brush
Artificial flowers - 12-15 large stems for each screen. 

Step one:
Stain all the boards front and back. I used Behr Semi Transparent stain for a barn wood appearance. 
The potted trees in the background turned out super cute as well. Find out how to create them at: potted tree branch DIY. 

I made two screens so I stained one set blue and the other green. 

Step two:
Form a frame using two short boards and two long boards. If you are a perfectionist you can use a "square" to be sure everything is just right. This is one reason, I'm glad I enlisted my hubby. I would have just slapped it all together.

Do this step two more times until you have three frames.

Step three:

Attach your hinges. 

Be sure to think through how you want your screen to open. That will determine what sides you place your hinges. 

Step four:
Place the 3/4 inch screws along the top and bottom of each frame. These screws are for your wire.  If you want to use three screws across you'll have a fuller frame. I only used two as I wanted a light and airy appearance.

Step five:
Attach your wire to the bottom and top screws. Be sure to wind it around each screw securely so it will hold once it has extra weight on it.  here's a picture of how tall the screens will be. he's just under five feet tall.

Step six:
Adhere your branches or flowers to the wire. I used my remaining floral wire to attach the flowers. 

Since making these I've thought of two variations: 

#1. Attach chicken wire to the backs of each screen instead of just using wire. This would give you so many decorating options and create an awesome "fixer upper" style.

#2. Weave lights through the wires and have a lighted screen. I chose not to as the trees we made to put around these will be lighted. 

I hope you'll have a great time creating these. They were a huge hit at our women's event. We used one as a photo op back drop and the other up on the stage with the speaker. 

Here's my table. I'm the second on the right.