Monthly Archives: March 2012

Easter Activities for Kids

I’m really excited about this Easter! On Monday, I’m planning to be brutally honest about struggles I’ve had in the past about making Easter – and other holidays – intentionally special in my own heart. Thankfully, I serve a God who cares enough about me to convict me of my sin.

One of the ways that I want to be more intentional this Easter is to spend some time during the upcoming Passion Week to teach my 2.5 year old about the events and meaning of Easter. Once again I find myself thankful for God giving each of us different talents so we can help each other out in areas of our lives that might be lacking or struggling.

If you, like me, are looking for some simple yet meaningful Easter activity ideas for the children in your life, whether they be your offspring or a group of kids in a Sunday school class, let me point you to a couple of resources that have helped this girl who was clueless about what to do 2 days ago have a plan of action.

First off, Desiré and Jen from When You Rise have shared a couple of posts on their blog that lay out a great plan and also have tons of links to other bloggers’ brilliant yet totally do-able ideas.

Meaningful & Easy Easter Ideas for the Procrastinator

A Collection of Great Easter Ideas

Another list of super-powerful ideas that involve not only the stories surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection, but also the five senses comes from Amanda at Impress Your Kids. I definitely plan on doing some of these activities as well.

A Sense of the Resurrection

Happy Easter and enjoy making it special with your kids!

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Doing Ministry Outside the Home When You’ve Got Little Munchkins {Guest Post}

Today I welcome back Desiré to share some ministry opportunities God has given her as she raises her two small children. I pray you are inspired, as I am, to put yourself out there for the cause of Christ. What better way to teach our kids the importance of ministering to others than to let them see us do it first hand?

Eat.  Change baby’s diaper.  Make a potty stop for the other.  Change clothes.  Eat some more.  And, oh wow, another diaper.  Play.  Discipline.  Read.  Eat again.  Sleep (optional).
Repeat.

This about sums up my life for the last few years.

Wednesday I shared how the Lord showed me the ministry within my own home.  Often that’s more than enough to keep me busy.

But is it okay to stop there?

Well, I think that depends.  There may be seasons when it is wise to back off on commitments and learn the wisdom of saying “no” (something I have always struggled with) for the sake of your family.  I have, unfortunately, learned from experience what it means to put my family on the back burner so I can fulfill a commitment I probably never should have made.

BUT, sometimes I’ve used the stresses of caring for little ones as a convenient excuse to not put any extra effort anywhere else.  Period.

My husband and I have led the older kids in a Wednesday night program at our church for the last 5 years or so.  Since we began serving, we’ve had both of our children.  I’ve used those time-consuming little blessings as an excuse more than once for being ill-prepared to teach when I show up on Wednesdays.  Sometimes it’s been legit.  Other times it’s more a reflection of poor time management, too much Facebook, and a complete lack of motivation.

Then there’s ministry outside the church.  Most options are out of the question:  organizing food pantries with toddlers is like trying to brush your teeth with an oreo, street evangelism downtown seems less than responsible, and last time I checked, most organizations look for volunteers who can take care of their potty needs themselves.  One of the few options left is ministering to the neighbors on my street.

Um.  But that’s kind of awkward.  I see them all the time.  I don’t want to be the weird girl.

I’ve used the fact that I have a 3 year old and an almost 2 year old as an excuse to stay inside out of sheer terror of what it might mean to try to do ministry with them in tow.  Terror that their behavior might be less than desirable, yes.  But mostly terror that people will think I’m nuts.

So, I try to embrace the “it’s just the season of my life” mentality and tell myself that it’s okay that I don’t engage with my neighbors or any unbelievers in a meaningful way.  I really want that to be okay.  But I have this gnawing, unsettled feeling.  Mostly because, even though I know it’s perfectly valid for some, I’m using it as an excuse.  I know my own heart and it’s not pretty.

But the Lord fans the small flame that’s left.  Ministry is not just for the professionals.  Ministry is not just for those who have tons of spare time on their hands.  Ministry is a lifestyle.  And I began to realize my “lifestyle” ended when I left my house.

I began falling asleep at night with prayers and ideas of how I could reach those the Lord has placed in my life.

Suddenly Wednesday nights weren’t something I dreaded as a burdensome obligation anymore.

What can I teach these kids at church that will matter for a lifetime?  What do I wish I’d known at their age?  And as thoughts flood my mind, the passion to help them understand Scripture and the beauty of the gospel transforms my heart and my teaching.  I feel passion once again as I prepare and lead.  My heart overflows as I see them “getting it.”

And the neighbors that I’m terrified will think I’m nuts?  Suddenly I have a longing for them to know the Jesus I know.

So the boys and I bake cookies for a new neighbor and share some with old ones too.  Cookies aren’t so crazy, right?  It might seem small to most, but it was monumental for me.  I’ve made stuff for them before and never delivered it because for some reason, I’m gripped by fear.  But I do it.  The boys come with me.  They’re cranky and I have a meeting I have to leave for in half an hour.  But I do it.

The result?

I’m now going on regular walks with the covered Muslim woman that I’ve lived next to for over 5 years and rarely spoken to. She has had trouble finding someone home during the day who likes to exercise.  I pack up a bag with lots of snacks and she and I take turns pushing the stroller for 4 miles.

While my boys are climbing all over her deck, my other neighbor asks if I’d want to plan a block party with her so we could get to know more of our neighbors better so we can feel more like a community.

And it’s ridiculous, but I’m stunned.  Five years I’ve missed out on getting to know these incredible ladies who need a Savior.  I wonder what the future holds…

I don’t say all of this to guilt you into doing more.  We are all too easily guilted into adding things to that “to do” list that hangs ominously over our heads.  I say this because God showed me that there was ministry right. in. front. of. me. and out of laziness and fear, I was missing out on INCREDIBLE opportunities.  Maybe part of that rings true for you?

Oddly enough, I’ve found it to be so refreshing to be a part of things outside of my home too.  Though it takes more effort, I’m actually finding it to be energizing!  If you’re feeling overwhelmed with life, consider asking God to show you someone you can minister to either within your church or community.  Your ministry doesn’t have to just consist of what happens within your four walls.  Consider taking your “lifestyle” outside your home and see what God does!

Desiré went from working full-time in Children’s Ministry in the church setting to full-time Children’s Ministry at home.  While her two boys keep her busy, she still loves being an active part of the Children’s Ministry at her church and currently helps lead the 3rd-6th grade AWANA group there.  She also blogs with her dear friend, Jen, at When You Rise, a site dedicated to providing fun and meaningful ways to teach kids the Bible and encouraging others on this journey of parenting.  When she’s not doing something kid-related, she loves reading, running, eating chocolate and hanging out with her family.

Missed the Other Posts in the Series on Overcoming Mediocrity in Ministry? Check them out!

Rising from the Pit of Mediocrity
What is my Ministry?
What If I Minister?
Hi. I’m  Mom and I Work in Full-Time Ministry

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Hi. I’m a Mom and I Work in Full-Time Ministry {Guest Post}

I know you’ll be encouraged by reading the first of two posts from my friend Desiré. Today she tells her story about how God changed her view of ministry in a personal and powerful way. Be sure to check out When You Rise, a blog where she and my other friend Jen share fantastic ideas for teaching God’s Word to our children in exciting and lasting ways. Thanks, Desiré, for sharing your heart with us today!   ~Kelly

Full time ministry used to be my “thing.”  I’d dreamed of doing it since I was a young girl.  I grew up and followed that dream and pursued a degree in Bible Theology with an emphasis in Biblical Greek at the wonderful Moody Bible Institute.  The dream morphed from roughing it in a hut in the grasslands of Africa to working with kids.  I worked in one of the poorest areas in the States tutoring kids and sharing the love of Jesus with them.  I eventually entered into church work and worked in various ministries ranging from preschool teacher to after-school Bible club leader to director of a summer long church camp.  I got to work with the saved and unsaved.  The churched and unchurched.  I got to disciple and lead to Christ.  I was living my dream.

Then I did something I never thought I’d do.

I got pregnant and decided to stay home with my son when he was born.

I’ll be honest.  This was not part of the dream I had once held.  I never dreamed of growing up to be a stay at home mom.  Ever.  But here I was.

As those first few weeks/months of adjusting turned into my new “normal,” I found myself feeling void of purpose.  It wasn’t that I didn’t love my son with all my heart.  But at 3 months he didn’t engage in much of a conversation when I told him about God creating the world or Jesus healing a man born blind.  I was now pouring myself into feeding schedules, poopy diapers and trying to muster up the energy to change out of my pjs.

So I settled into a ministry-less funk and found my new world less than fulfilling.  And then, little by little, God opened my eyes to what was right before me.  I’ve always been a firm believer that it’s the parents’ responsibility, not the church’s, to teach children about Jesus.  My husband and I are our children’s spiritual leaders, but I found myself doing little to make that happen.  What?!?!  How does that happen?  I used to spend HOURS preparing engaging and meaningful lessons to teach OTHER PEOPLE’S  kids about Christ and God’s Word and I was doing little more than half-heartedly reading occasional Bible stories with MINE.

But the Lord was gracious and I began to see that every corner I turned WITHIN MY OWN HOUSE was an opportunity for ministry.  Stinky diaper needs changed?  Rather than an weary sigh, the diaper change can be met with funny faces, silly singing and lots of tickles.  Nails on the chalkboard whining?  Time for loving discipline so I can train them up!  And what about those Bible stories?  I don’t want learning about the Bible to be fun and memorable at church and boring at home.  I began making a conscious effort to teach the Bible in meaningful, hands-on ways to my oldest when my youngest was about 6 weeks old.  Obviously, nothing elaborate was taking place, but since I now genuinely saw my mommy role as ministry, this sleep-deprived woman made it one of the few priorities I had at the time.  I didn’t have energy or clarity of thought for much, but these 3 things became my daily goals:

1) Feed my children.
2) Make sure my 18 month old doesn’t physically harm my newborn.
3) Show them Jesus.

Ministry is much simpler than we sometimes make it out to be.  It doesn’t take a degree in Greek.  It doesn’t take an official title and a paycheck from a church.  Ministry is not something best left to the professionals.  Ministry is a mindset that sees others need for Jesus and, with Jesus’ help, points them to him.  It’s your job and mine, no matter what title we hold.  And we’re in this thing full time.

Desiré went from working full-time in Children’s Ministry in the church setting to full-time Children’s Ministry at home.  While her two boys keep her busy, she still loves being an active part of the Children’s Ministry at her church and currently helps lead the 3rd-6th grade AWANA group there.  She also blogs with her dear friend, Jen, at When You Rise, a site dedicated to providing fun and meaningful ways to teach kids the Bible and encouraging others on this journey of parenting.  When she’s not doing something kid-related, she loves reading, running, eating chocolate and hanging out with her family.  

Missed the Other Posts in the Series on Overcoming Mediocrity in Ministry? Check them out!

Rising from the Pit of Mediocrity
What is my Ministry?
What If I Minister?

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

What if I Minister?

Whose job is ministry?

Contrary to the world’s definition, ministry is meant to be accomplished by all believers. It’s not something that should be left to those on staff at churches or to foreign missionaries; as disciples of Jesus, it’s something each of us is called to do.

It’s often easy for us to get into a rut of believing that God has not called us to full-time ministry because He has not called all of us to earn Bible degrees. We can feel intimidated by those who have received an education such as this and begin to think that we just don’t know how.

God’s Word doesn’t agree with this thought process, however. In Romans 12, He clearly lays out His expectation for the church, which was started by a group of uneducated disciples, by the way.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith;or ministry, let us use it in our ministering; he who teaches, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.      ~Romans 12:3-8

Never forget that if you have a relationship with Jesus Christ, He has given you a gift to use for His glory in ministering to others. So what is your gift? It may seem insignificant in your eyes, but let’s play the what-if game for a minute.

  • What if your gift of giving provided the financial needs of someone struggling to come up with enough to pay for this week’s groceries?
  • What if your gift of working with children helps a mom in need of sitting through a church service where she can receive the encouragement she needs to get through the next week?
  • What if your gift of being frugal encourages a friend in debt to take the necessary steps to get out?
  • What if your gift of music inspires someone else to pursue a dream?
  • What if your gift of writing moves someone to take action in an area they’ve been too afraid to act upon?
  • What if your gift of encouragement helps someone who is depressed get a glimpse of life outside the fog, thus causing them to persevere?
  • What if your gift of teaching enlightens someone who would otherwise have no chance of moving forward in life without the proper education?

What if we all began looking at our gifts as ministry opportunities? How much more vigilant would we become in improving them so that we could in turn reach more people with the message of God’s love and salvation?

Far too often, we get stuck in the pit of mediocrity. There are so many areas that seem to fall prey to the clutches of mediocre, and it’s my prayer that others will join me in sharing how they work to show the exceptional power of Jesus instead of succumbing to a life that is just okay. (This is your cue! Share your story!) Stay tuned this week as we continue to look at mediocre ministry. Here’s a spoiler: guest posts start this week!

Posts on Overcoming Mediocre:

Rising from the Pit of Mediocrity
What is my Ministry?

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

Grab a FREE copy of Warrior Prayers! (Offer expired)

Source

This offer is no longer valid. I still highly recommend you purchase your own copy of Warrior Prayers! (I am not affiliated in any way; I just think it’s a great book.) I will also be giving away a copy of it in the coming weeks, so stay tuned!

There are certain times in the day when I just get overwhelmed with the number of things I need to pray for my son. As I sit in the quiet of my living room before he is up, when I watch him wrestle his daddy, and as I cuddle him in my arms in the rocking chair before bed each night, I catch glimpses of a bigger boy, and sometimes even a young man. Then I have to turn off my imagination before I start bawling and just savor that precious moment while thanking God I was allowed to have it.

As a mother, I feel like I just can’t pray enough for this boy. His health, his future, his current choices, his education, his soul – the list is unending, and yet far too often I evaluate how much I’m actually praying for all of these things and I could weep at how much I’ve failed to bring them before the Father.

All of these reasons and so many more are why I am thrilled to participate in the 21 Days of Prayer for Sons Challenge hosted by The MOB Society this coming May 1-21.

The challenge is based on the book Warrior Prayers:Praying the Word for Boys in the Areas They Need it Most by Brooke McGlothlin. If you are interested in joining in on the challenge and would like to receive your own copy of Warrior Prayers for free, act fast! Today only, they are giving away free copies to anyone who spreads the word about the challenge on some form of social media.

If you want in, go here to find out the details. It’s super easy!

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

5 Steps Toward Getting Your House in Order

If you missed the first post in the series, you can read it here.

Before we can get into any of the overwhelming number of ideas that are out there to make our homes better places, we have to set some personal ground rules for ourselves. If you’re anything like me, new ideas only work when I have made peace in my heart about what I’m doing and have firmly established a pure and positive motive to get it done.

Here are five tips that I continually go through in what I believe is a constant effort to maintain a happy heart. I’m convinced that a happy heart equals a happy home.

1. Stop comparing and be content. I can feel okay about how my house is looking and then I’ll come across a distraction. To name a few: a conversation with someone else about how she has to have things in order all of the time; a blog filled with pictures of neatly organized rooms, drawers, and closets; or a picture of the perfect craft room. I never even realized how much I wanted a craft room until I started seeing so many pictures of them.

If I’m motivated to change my home solely on the fact that I have to somehow measure up to other people’s standards thanks to my choice to dwell on the comparison, I’m not going to live in a joyful haven. You see, a haven is a refuge from the outside world. My attempts to have a house that is as good as others’ taint the atmosphere of my home. I’m not putting my family first: I’m putting my selfishness and insecurities at the forefront.

In the list of things that God commanded us to abstain from coveting in the ten commandments, I find it intriguing that the very first thing He mentions is this, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house.” (Exodus 20:17a)

If that’s not a clear enough command, check out Hebrews 13:5, “Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have.”

Once I’ve worked through the sin of coveting in my life, it’s time to take action. I have this ugly tendency to spiral once I realize how messed up I am. Instead of spiraling and allowing myself, and subsequently my home, to sit dormant in a sad state, I have to move on to the next thing on my list.

2. Come up with a plan of action. Once I’ve put aside my coveting, I am now willing to admit that I need both help and inspiration. This is when I start observing what other women do to combat a problem area that I have in my home. I evaluate how that would work in my home with my personality and the personalities of my family and determine if I can adopt a modified version of the solution.

The Internet also  offers thousands of resources within seconds. I love being able to look at other people’s ideas with a heart that is focused on bettering my family rather than condemning myself for not having it all together. When I have my heart tuned into this perspective, I can be inspired rather than defeated.

3. Set realistic goals. Once I’ve found a couple of ideas that I think might work, I write them out and establish a game plan of how to make it happen.

Don’t set yourself or the rest of your family up for failure. You’re getting ready to change habits, and it’s going to require concentration. Since you are involving other people in this change, perhaps it would be wise to implement small portions of the plan at a time. Expecting a complete overhaul of your cleaning routine while completely reorganizing and remodeling three rooms in your house will probably cause more chaos than anyone in your family can handle.

4. Apply and accept grace when mess-ups happen. Having said all of that, you are only human, and so is the rest of your family. No matter how hard you work, something will always come up that will mess with your newly-found groove. In our house, a normal weekend’s activities seem to bring about a huge mess of things.

I used to stress myself out trying to spend quality time with my family while maintaining order. Eventually, I came to a place where I realized that none of us were having as good of a time as we could be. The messes will wait to be cleaned up, but the memories we could be making together while I’m scrambling around (either in real life or in my head) will be missed opportunities. I choose family. The dishes and laundry can wait until Monday.

5. Pray for your home to be blessed and be a blessing. Sadly, I don’t always remember to follow through with this crucial step to maintaining a home that honors God. However, my home is a reflection of my heart, and when my heart is not focused on conversing with God, then my house is not going to be the refuge from sin and sorrow that it could be.

My heart finds such joy in receiving a compliment from guests in our home about how at-ease they feel when they’re here. That’s when I know God has truly blessed my prayer that others will find a portion of His peace and love during their time within the walls of our home. I’ve seen God bless the attitudes and events of our days when I prioritize prayer for our little haven. It always works. Perhaps not in the way I pictured, but generally in a richer way than I would have dreamed.

A happy haven can be cultivated when our hearts and perspectives are clean and healthy. No 30 day challenge, book, magazine, or blog post will truly change our lives. They’re meager tools. The real change comes when we let Jesus fill our hearts, and subsequently our homes, with joy.

What did I miss? What internal steps have you discovered important in your quest to being a happy homemaker? Please be sure to share them in the comments! I love learning from others.

 

 

 

 

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.

 

 

Meditation Monday: My Ministry

“Therefore, since we have this ministry, as we have received mercy, we do not lose heart.”    2 Corinthians 4:1

One simple memory verse has really gotten me to thinking so much about how I view ministry versus how God does. I didn’t have a clue how powerful this solitary sentence in scripture would become to me as I began committing it to my memory and meditating on its truth.

As weak human beings, we have this tendency to get stuck picturing one thing in our head when God has something entirely more rich planned for us. Being His disciples, it’s only natural that at some point we begin to dream of the great ways God will use us in His ministry only to feel defeated when it doesn’t turn out how we envisioned it would. I don’t think I’m alone in this tendency.

When I look at my life sometimes, I feel like there is just no way God can use me in big ways during that particular season of my life. What do I have to offer?

Then there have been other seasons where I’m zeroed in on one certain ministry. I determine that I’m just too busy to take on any others because I have this big, flourishing ministry going and I couldn’t possibly sacrifice any of my focus for other opportunities to minister to those who don’t fit in that realm.

Over time and numerous humbling realizations, I’ve come to understand that neither perspective is from God. He is the One who equips and sustains me as I do His work. I have His power to offer, nothing less. When I can take my focus off of myself and place it on Him, then I start to observe opportunities to serve others. Sometimes it involves me volunteering at church, while other times it requires me to get down on the floor and pretend play with my son. I’m called to do these ministries, so God will strengthen me to fulfill His calling on my life.

Then there’s the other perspective. The one that involves me pouring all of my efforts into one thing. As a flawed individual, I can miss out on so many opportunities to reach out to others if I allow myself to become so narrow-minded that I can’t let go of one task. Being a wife and mom is my highest calling, and it should rank at the very top of my list of priorities, but if I’m not careful, I can make it an excuse to stay in my comfortable bubble. On the other hand, if I find myself pouring more energy into a ministry, even a legitimately noble one, than I am affording my family, then I cannot be pleasing God to my fullest potential.

So I’ve been making a list of my current ministry opportunities. It’s overwhelming a bit, but when I look at all of these things people that God has called me to focus on in this time of life, I can feel Him empower me to not lose heart, but to persevere.

(If you’re interested in joining the awesome group of women who have joined me in memorizing one verse per month, leave me a comment or send me an email {kwesterf@gmail.com}, and I’ll add you to our Facebook group. I will say it a million times if I need to: memorizing God’s Word is such an effective way to grow your faith and enrich your life. You will never regret doing it, only never trying.)

***Congrats to the winner of last week’s giveaway, Get Out of That Pit, Erin M! Please reply to the email I sent you in the next 24 hours to claim your prize!***

 
 

 

If you’re new to this site, thanks so much for stopping by! I would love to have you as a part of this humble little community of women who want to find the exceptional power of God in our otherwise average lives. If you would like to receive updates when I add new posts, you can like my Facebook page, subscribe to my RSS feed, or receive new posts by email. You can also find all of these options easily by going to my home page and clicking on the appropriate icon located in the right side bar.