Thursday, December 29, 2011

Equip, Encourage, Exhort

For the last few weeks, I have been struggling with a growing exhaustion and dissatisfaction in my role in our apartment ministry.  We have been doing this for 7 years, and this last year we placed 10 new community teams, 7 at brand new partner properties, and 6 of those teams were placed just between October and December.

Some teams I have really enjoyed training, some I feel like I either have to call all the time because they won't check in and tell me how they are doing (and usually have the most challenging managers/clients) and others are constantly calling me.  I have other teams who still haven't gotten to a point of success in their ministry, and I am continually trying to coach them to success.  I can't say that it has been the most enjoyable season.

I have been faced with soul searching as to why I am feeling exhausted and dissatisfied.  Much time has been spent in prayer, asking God to show me if it is my own heart issue, or something that requires a change of some sort, such as stepping away from the ministry.

I know part of it is that I am gifted as a "starter", and in my current role, much of what I do is not starting, but is maintaining the ministry.  When working against your gifting, it can be really exhausting and discouraging.  I do enjoy teaching, but I need to be more of a coach.  This requires patience and lots of question asking.  Not necessarily my strong suit.  It is important that the new teams aren't made to feel that they are bothering me.  That's part of my job.  They need a coach.

Part of it is that we rarely have time off where we are completely free, this vacation included.  I've had to check email every day, which has been lame.  We are still looking for a new team for a current client, and I have had phone calls from new teams needing wisdom.  Our entire leadership team is out of state, including us, and someone needs to be available.

On top of this, I long to spend much more time in our community, investing and spending time with the lost or new believers.  I long to be "on the front lines" of ministry.  I always encourage teams and others to involve non-believers in what they are doing. But for me to do that would be mostly inviting them to come watch me type emails, make phone calls or drive to meetings.  Not so fun nor effective discipling.  However, in writing that last sentence, I feel challenged that there must be something I can involve others in. (Note that we eat out 4 or more nights a week due to meetings with teams and/or accountability partners.)

Oh yes, one more do I raise a little boy, be an amazing wife, eat healthy, get exercise, and maintain all of the things for my own home?

Tonight, Eric and I talked about these things, which in itself allowed some release.  However, he said something that made me think.  He reminded me that we are called to equip, encourage, and exhort the team members, which allows them to be reaching out to thousands of people.  If we don't do this well, we will have 19 failing teams, meaning we are fully on the "front lines" of ministry.  This was encouraging to me in many ways, and I feel like God is calling me to embrace those three words as a theme for this year.  I also feel that God is exhorting me to not dwell on all of the downsides of leadership and to just focus on obedience to Him.  Basically, just do it and quit complaining.  If He desires for me to give up this role, he will make it clear.


The next step is to pray over, study the scriptures, and explore these three words this year.  Would love your input on all of that.  Will you join me?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Cleaning with love...

Do you have the same struggle as Eric and I do?  Keeping our house clean for our own sanity seems almost impossible, and then the thought of a friend or neighbor dropping by without notice, just down right scary.  Okay, maybe not scary, but on those days/weeks when you have been crazy busy, it can be embarrassing.  Even putting in a work order can feel overwhelming.  I don't want anyone to see my mess.  But yet, when we do have people over, those are often the sweetest and most spiritually deep interactions.  So my struggle is finding that balance.

Another confession: Eric really struggles with feeling at peace when our home is messy.  I dislike dirt, but can handle piles to some extent because I almost always know where it needs to go, but just haven't gotten around to putting it there.  In our marriage, this has been the number one fight for us.  I have come to realize just how much it means to my husband to come home and feel peace.  It is now a much higher priority for me, although I still struggle with it on a daily basis.  I understand his need much more now, and can clean even with love for him.

My ultimate goal is that I want my house to be a place where people feel safe and comfortable; that it is a place of refuge.  I also want my house to be a place of comfort, purpose and joy for my own family. Since I don't have any great answers besides Nike's famous slogan, "Just Do It", I am opening it up for you to share.  Are there things that you are finding work well for you or for your family.  

My one tip to share with you this week:  I find when people are coming over on a regular basis, it is easier to keep up with the household tasks.  Why?  I think it's because knowing that someone will be here in a day means it is on my to do list as a priority.  It's no longer something I can do tomorrow.  In fact, we are thinking about reimplementing a set night for inviting friends over for dinner.  Have you found this to be true for you?

I'm looking forward to the dialog that comes from my vulnerability.  So when you drop by, and it looks good, know that it was cleaned with love.  If it doesn't, pray for me. :-)

Monday, November 8, 2010

A New Home

Since my last post, I started searching online for new apartments.  Our landlord still hadn't given us permission to stay with Bailey, and as I wrote, I was feeling restless.  I didn't want to move to the same kind of "flat" apartment, so I started looking for town homes.  I found a condo not too far away that had a great playground outside within our price range.  Eric, in wanting me to be happy, gave in to my insane need to move on.  So we moved...all within 5 days.

There is still so much work to do at the old place, but I am also doing my best to make this place feel like home.  My need for change created an upheaval in Eric's realm that will be in turmoil until everything has a place here.  He keeps stressing about where we will put everything, but I know we can make it work.  It just looks different.  I think that's fun.  He was content, and I have created a hurricane.  Now I am working hard every day to tackle more and more of each room so that it feels homey and settled.  This feels to me like a way to show my love and gratitude to Eric.

If you didn't know it, Eric and I were born literally 17 days apart, but the kicker is that we had the same due date.  I came 4 days early, and he refused to leave the womb. Okay, so it was only 13 days late. :-)  God has put us together for a reason, and while sometimes I push us further than we need to go right then, sometimes it is my need to go that keeps us moving.

One really cool thing to realize since we moved is that God is truly at work at our old community.  We have seen a couple of our friends turn back to the Lord, and other believers move in as well.  An idea that God brought to mind was to gather all of these believers together next Monday and give them the vision for how to live at Edmonds Ridge.  Please pray for us that it will be possible to gather them.

Also at the same time, my feeling that our home fellowship was just stagnant beyond repair until others feel ready to give God their lives, pushed Eric to have that conversation with them asking, "what do we want?".  We all still want to gather, but now the two of us feel free to find/form another group with the purpose of truly worshiping as the Body of Christ.  When we will find time to do both groups, I truly don't know.  But I'm ok with dreaming and praying for the possibilities.

Lord, may I rest in you!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I Don't Go Backwards Very Well

In all our years of marriage, I haven't really longed for a house. It seemed like it might be a good idea for when we retired. But in the here and now, we had planned to go overseas for missions. Our plans changed when God brought Apartment Life into our universe, and then even more when He gave Eric the vision for starting Community Northwest. We didn't know for how long God would have us doing this, so we just served with a "God will show us when we are done" attitude.

As we served in Community Northwest, I felt the strong calling to be right in the trenches of living and serving in an apartment community. I would even say I prided myself on that fact. That is until about a year ago. Eric's parents started talking to us about the possibility of buying the house next door. At first I was completely opposed, but I came around fairly quickly as I saw Eric's excitement and the potential to fix up a house.

It's a long story, but the quick version is that their neighbor passed away from cancer and had no living relatives. We kept waiting for months to see what would happen with the situation, whether the bank would be open to a short sale since we didn't want to pay as much as what he owed. Or if they would foreclose, and we could try to get it then. Nothing happened, and the bank wasn't even talking to the executor. So frustrating. So we decided to just wait and build up some nest egg savings.

Then Bailey, our adopted dog popped into our lives. We aren't supposed to have pets here, so we knew we were/are putting the owner in a tough place. It's not like you can hide a dog. In looking for new apartments, I found the prices for houses in the area pretty reasonable. So that jump started an actual house search. We found two we loved with great potential, both foreclosed and both needing work.

In the process, our nest egg savings kept getting used for car repairs, to the tune of $4000 in 3 months. :( So as we were trying to negotiate with the banks, we were asking them to cover any and everything that would require cash on hand. They weren't so interested in that.

This last house that I had really come to love, was just priced a bit too high for us. We qualified, but were still bare bones in our savings and the monthly mortgage and other bills would be higher than we really wanted.

To top it off, we restarted Financial Peace University last Sunday, and Dave Ramsey's first lesson is the need to have a 3 to 6 months emergency fund. Eric took that to heart. He really felt that to enter into something so big, we have got to build that emergency fund up.

Hours and hours of researching, months of dreaming, a fun afternoon of looking at paint samples, watching HGTV for fun decorating ideas, and now we have to put that dream on hold. I feel devastated. I know he is right, but like I titled my post, I don't go backwards very well. I feel like I only know how to go forward...running. I push and push until I get my way. Pretty hard for Eric to feel at times as if he is truly the leader of our home. I know I need to follow him 100% in this, but I must confess, I've been throwing a bit of an inner tantrum/pity party inside my head all day

The funny thing is that I never really had this dream of feeling settled before. In fact, even now I feel restless here at this apartment. I'm ready to move on. But to what? I thought it was a house. Now I don't know.

Please pray that I will find my rest and peace in God wherever we live. The chorus of this new song by Audrey Assad has been running through my head for a couple of days now, and really resonates with my heart.

And I'm restless, I'm restless
'Til I rest in You, 'til I rest in You
I'm restless, I'm restless
'Til I rest in You, 'til I rest in You
Oh God, I wanna rest in You

My I truly seek out His peace, and not dwell on feeling restless!

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Sun is Out--Hallelujah!

One of the few things I hate about winter is the dark gray "bleh" clouds that can stay for days. These are the kinds of clouds that are so dark, you wonder if it's still night when you wake up, and never brighten. After two days of that, I start to feel in a funk, and like I could just stay in bed all day.

Today is the first day we actually have some sun, and I'm LOVING it! I need to see that sun shining through.

That reminds me that in life, there are days when I can strongly feel God's presence, and others where it feels like He is hiding behind the "clouds" of life. I need to be reminded that He is still there in all His power, and I can still praise Him even though I don't see Him. God, may I never forget.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Making Your Husband Laugh

This is one of my favorite things in the world! Making Eric laugh when I make a comment makes my heart sing. It brings great joy to my heart and just yet again says "Yes, I have found the one!" I have found the one who "gets me." He is the one who makes me laugh, and maybe the only one who laughs at my jokes. He is the one who is thrilled when I walk in the door, and the one who thrills my heart when he walks in the door. It's like the other part of me has come home.

Thank you, God, for giving me Eric!

Keeping Up With Other Peoples Blogs

I have a decent list of blogs that I subscribe to because I value them for some reason. Some blogs I read are just for fun or for hearing about my friends thoughts on life. I have linked to all the blogs that talk about Steven Curtis Chapman since his daughter's death. Others are for learning from stronger believers who are using their blogs to educate.

If you were to give a guess, which ones do you think I am good at reading right away? If you guessed my friends', you would be correct. About equal to that are the SCC family blogs. I am discovering that they are a very cool family as a whole.

Lastly, of course, are the ones written by those from whom I want to learn. I can't peruse those quickly. Some of them I want to take time to really read. But here's the problem. Their list keeps getting longer and longer, and begs the question, "How long will the list be before I sit down to read?". And will I ever take time to get caught up, or will I just eventually scan them quickly and jump to the next until I have "read" them all, and thus feel better about it.

Pretty sure that writing on my own blog takes away from some of this time, but hey, I think after reading a few hundred other blogs, I deserve a break today. Don't you think so too? :-)