Every Day Joy

Isabelle Joy 

Rob started off the Glee series at GCC this weekend.  He spoke about finding joy.  He challenged everyone to look for joy throughout their day, and consider these sightings as signposts from God.  How often do we let these moments slip by without acknowledging them.  What if God is trying to speak joy into our days, and we are so overwhelmed with other stuff that we miss it?

I took this picture of our Isabelle Joy a few years ago in the retention ditch next to our house.  I had not planned on it.  She just happened to want to wear her pretty dress that day, and she just happened to want to go see the pretty flowers.  I ran in the house to grab my camera, and was lucky enough to get this shot of her. 

Every day joy.  Grab your camera, and wait for it.  Live with a spirit of expectation, because joy is coming your way.

Loving Leading

My friend Lori Wilhite runs a pretty awesome site with a few other women in  ministry called “Leading and Loving It”.  She interviewed me on her site a week ago, and I thought I’d share the interview here in case you missed it:

Leading and Loving

1. What is your role in ministry/leadership?

My role has changed quite a bit over the years.  We have been at Granger Community Church in Northern Indiana for 18 years.  In the beginning, my role was clear-cut and easy to define.  Over the years, my responsibilities have changed, and now my role has evolved into sort of a harder to define one.  When Rob and I signed on in 1992, we were both full-time youth workers here.  When our babies came along, I stepped back and my role changed from taking care of other people’s babies to taking care of my own.  I always continued doing ministry, just took on what I could in addition to my ever increasing role as a Mommy.

No matter how my role has evolved, my biggest heart and passion has always been for the 3rd world.  We are currently working in Southern India, rising up men and women church planters, teaching them to bring the Gospel to the furthest unreached corners of Southern India. I don’t get to go on every trip with Rob, but the last trip we took to India with our entire family this summer put me in the middle of my “sweet spot”.  I had the opportunity to gather the stories of Church Planters for a book we will have out later this fall. Traveling to India, writing opportunities like this, writing and editing for Rob, and keeping up my blog weekly are my main ministry roles right now.

2. What is your favorite thing about your role?

Keeping a position of Writer/Editor is something I can do at home, which has definitely paid off in some very positive ways.  With Rob’s schedule being unpredictable and usually crazy, I am happy to offer some stability to my kid’s schedule at home.  We have gotten to take trips to India as a family a few times.  Those trips are hard work, but incredibly rewarding.  I am so grateful when our church provides these opportunities for us to serve in a third world country together.

3. What is the most challenging thing?

The invisibility factor-I really (and I mean really) miss being in the middle of things around the church.  Being here for my kids is a huge priority, and it helps Rob have peace of mind too…but…I feel left out a lot.  Our church is pretty big, so not many people outside of our  circle of staff and friends even know who I am, so that’s a blessing and a curse all at once.  Blessing because I can fly under the radar at events and see how things work without people polishing up for the pastor…a curse because I feel so connected to this place and its people, it’s hard not to feel like I can just jump into the middle of things and feel included.

4. What do you wish someone had told you before you started in our area of ministry?

I wish someone could have let me know how much my role would change, then change, then change again.  Most importantly, I wish someone would have told me to never get my identity wrapped up in what I do instead of who I am. I wish I could have known early on that the way God has gifted me, and the places He would take me with that gift were very unique, and I should never compare my gifts to someone else’s gifts or abilities.  I would have been saved a lot of frustration if I had known that and believed it to my core 18 years ago.

5. What do you wish others knew about your area?

I think it must look to others like I am not really doing much to serve at GCC.  All of the other pastor’s wives have a much more visible role, like singing on stage or teaching kids on the weekends.  People don’t see me in action too much.  Just because I am not up  front, or at every meeting whenever the church doors are open doesn’t mean I’m not 100% committed to the mission and vision of GCC.  I’ve never felt judged by anyone about this.  Mark Beeson and his wife Sheila have said to me from day 1 years ago to just be who God made me to be, and serve out of whatever capacity He has gifted me for.  I am so very thankful for this. (Kids ministry would send me to an early grave).

6. How has God used your leadership to grow and change you?

Outside of being a wife and Mommy to 3 girls, I would say that this role has shaped and changed me more than anything.  When we came to GCC, I was only 19.  Our whole lives were ministry.  It’s everything we’ve ever known.  To me, there is nothing I’d rather be doing than laying down my life for Jesus, and men and women of our community.  I think more than anything, leadership and ministry has taught me that life is not about me, but about bringing God’s Kingdom to Earth as it is in Heaven.  I’d give up my life for that all over again for His cause.

7. If you could pass one little piece of wisdom to someone else in the same leadership role, what would it be?

Well if there is another Pastor’s Wife/ Writer/ Editor/ Traveler to India / Mom / lover of chocolate covered peanuts somewhere in the world, I would say to her, that she is awesome and special, and uniquely and creatively gifted by God on purpose and for a purpose.  I would also tell her to eat lots of chocolate and drink as much coffee as possible, mixed with an occasional energy drink. :)

Ministry is not for the faint of heart, no matter what your role is!  When you are married to a talented husband who is driven to accomplish all Rob has, it usually means he is driven in lots of ways on the home front as well.  Rob has more energy than I did as a teenager.  It’s hard keeping up with him, but always fun and rewarding.

I would also say to buckle your seatbelt, because the adventures God will take you on will exceed your wildest expectations.

8. How do you make sure that integrity is being maintained in your leadership?

Rob and I have a great relationship.  He can tell when I am getting off balance, and helps me re-focus from time to time.  I also have a great friend and mentor who has been a pastor’s wife for over 40 years.  Her husband is a well known author and preacher.  They’ve been down every road imaginable in ministry.  I love her, and cherish our friendship, as I can confide in her with a lot of issues I am dealing with when it comes to my personal leadership and integrity issues.  On a daily basis, I pray, read the Bible, and try to keep a sense of humor. I also have a great group of friends who I can talk to and laugh with.

9. How do you develop other leaders? How do you grow and develop in your leadership?

My leadership multiplication strategy is pretty simple.  I believe that one of the ways people learn to lead best is from following other people’s stories.  The tag line on my personal blog is “Living on Purpose, Writing on Purpose.”  I live my life in a way that others can see patterns and an example of what it means to be a Godly woman.  My Twitter and Facebook strategies are the same.  Live my life wide open for others to see and hopefully they will find Jesus there, chiseling away at my core, making himself more and more known to others through me every day.  This includes my online presence, and of course the friendships I maintain in my neighborhood, the kids’ schools, and in our community.

The small groups that I lead from time to time are lead in the same way.  I lead them life on life.  I learn from my friends as they learn from me.  Jesus is at work in all of us.  I feel like my job in developing leaders around me is to help others see where he is at work in their lives if they don’t see it already.

11. How do you meet the needs specific to the people in your town, city, circle of influence?

I’m a friend to anyone who needs one.  Rob thinks I am crazy, but really, there is no one I can’t call a friend, (except if they start trash-talking my husband).

Practically speaking, one of the many ways I live this out is being the Kool-Aid Mom. Almost all of the Mom’s in our area work full or part time, so I show them friendship by welcoming their kids into our home when they don’t have babysitters, or if they just need a break.  Even when our kids are teenagers, I hope their friends will always feel welcome at our house.

Life In Defiance

Life In Defiance

I read Mary DeMuth’s final book, Life in Defiance, in the Defiance Texas Trilogy in under 24 hours.  It is a murder mystery, and about 10 times throughout the series, I was sure of “who done it”.  The story line was very compelling, causing me to really immerse myself into the environment of Defiance.

Set against the backdrop of Defiance, Texas, book three reflects a choice we all face: reveal our secrets or bury them forever … and live with the consequences.  . 

What I really liked about this final book was that the struggles Ouisie Pepper dealt with are ones we all face.  I identified with this Pastor’s wife on many levels.  I am also a Pastor’s wife.  My husband doesn’t beat me up, (he beats me at Rock Band, but that’s about it) but thinking I need to  “maintain an image for the good of all” is something I deal with all the time.  I am constantly reminding myself to be myself and not worry about what people think about my words and choices.

I love that Mary knows how to piece a story together, weaving mystery and intrigue with deep life lessons that challenge my soul.  It’s a great read, and I highly recommend the series to anyone who loves a great story and has the courage to face the secrets buried in their own life.

From the cover:

In a town she personifies, Ouisie Pepper wrestles with her own defiance. Desperate to become the wife and mother her husband Hap demands, Ouisie pours over a simple book about womanhood, constantly falling short, but determined to improve. Through all that self-improvement, Ouisie carries a terrible secret: she knows who killed Daisy Chance. As her children inch closer to uncovering the killer’s identity and Hap’s rages roar louder and become increasingly violent, Ouisie has to make a decision. Will she protect her children by telling her secret? Or will Hap’s violence silence them all?

What If?

What if women had a more prominent role in the Church?

Not that women would need to dominate, take over, and turn every woman into a feminist.  Not necessary. 

What if women still respected men as the Leaders, lived Biblically sound lives, but had a chance to speak their minds in a humble and unique way? It doesn’t happen at most churches I have attended.  Most women aren’t jerky and demanding about it.  They’re just quiet.  And passive.  And really quiet.  They talk to each other when they have a chance, but with getting kids from the parking lot to their classes, and then to their seats, then back to their classes, then back to the parking lot and their car, there isn’t much time even for speaking to one another in church.  Their voices simply aren’t heard.

I am amazed that as soon as the topic of women talking in church comes up, many automatically lump the person talking about it as “feminist, domineering, rebellious, etc.”

I love men. My dad is a man.  My brothers are men.  I was raised in a world of men (me and my Mom had to hold our own, and we did just fine).  I married a man.  I love him deeply.  He’s the head of our household just like God told him to be in the Bible.  I completely respect him.  I respect my pastors.

But..what if?

I think women would raise issues that aren’t being raised.  I think the orphan problem might be solved.  I think more broken people might be healed.    I think women have an ability to both think and feel that is helpful for those who just think a lot. (not saying all men are this way, but some are).

I see a trend in the young men I know.  I see them seeking after middle class college professors, authors, and musicians as their only source for Biblical inspiration and interpretation. This isn’t bad, just inbalanced. 

I think women would feel better about themselves knowing God can use women in powerful ways. I know scores of highly educated, intelligent followers of Jesus who feel worthless because there is not a place for them in the Church.

Its funny how when you throw a subject out there, like I did with this one the other day, how others can sometimes state the way you feel better than you can.  I’ll leave you with Cindy’s thoughts, then I’d love to hear yours:

Maybe there was a time when women weren’t the best choice as leaders and teachers. But we have women senators, congressional representatives, judges, college professors and university presidents, CEOs and hopefully someday a woman president. There have been many queens who ruled their countries, even centuries ago, and many presidents and prime ministers in other countries. There are many women heads of household. Women are scientists, doctors, astronauts, engineers, and inventors. Women hold high ranks in the armed forces and die defending our country. And women (mothers and wives) have long been understood to be primary influences in prominent men’s lives. There are many women who will be lost to the Christian message if they believe it can only come from a man’s tongue.  It’s just time for everyone to get over it.

Women Should Be Quiet in Church (?)

 j0442246 Between Attending Q conference last week and an interesting email I got today, I’ve been deeply pondering the role of women in the Church.  I guess it actually started a few weeks ago while I was listening to a local Christian radio broadcast by a woman about women in the church.  Her view is that women should not teach men the Bible for any reason, ever.  If they do, they are disobeying God, and outside of His will.  Women like this should be asked to be quiet and not teach men.  I know that is  extreme view that many men and women do not hold, especially men and women who read my blog. But it got me to thinking…

The Q conference was heavily male dominated both on the presenter side and the participant side.  I’m not knocking the Q guys at all.  They brought an amazing array of presenters, some women that I never knew about, and so glad I was introduced to.

During one of the presentations, Phyllis Tickle, an older woman talking about the Spiritual Disciplines, said,

If you are a white, middle-class woman and are fasting from chocolate, don’t even tell me.  White middle-class women annoy me.  I look in the mirror every day, and that’s who I see, so what does that tell you? 

The rest of the room went on with listening and learning, but I was stuck there.  I am a middle class woman.  My friends are middle class women.  I annoy myself sometimes, and my friends annoy me, but I was angry that Phyllis would say that in front of a room full of mostly white, highly educated, middle class men who I want to be respected by.

I decided to go to her Q&A session later that day and ask her about it.   She was very kind, sensitive, and said she did not want to demean the sacrifices people make to draw near to Jesus.  What annoys her is the attitude of self righteousness and pride that seems to be more prevalent than fasting itself.

I completely agreed with her, and got real sad about it.  I wondered why more women weren’t in attendance at the conference, and why more weren’t presenting.  I wonder all the time why women hardly ever teach from the platform at our church.  I wondered why more women I know aren’t leading their friends to Jesus through Bible study, or praying for one another.

I was left wondering if we women just aren’t doing our jobs as followers of Jesus.  Wondering if that is why there aren’t more leaders in my own church who are women.  Wondered about the Church in the United States in general.

I left the conference ready to brush up on my own walk with God.  I’ve started praying the hours, a practice what Phyllis talked about (there’s even an iPhone app for it.  It’s called explorefaith).  I decided to pray more and try harder at growing my own girls up to be smart, educated, and articulate about their faith.  They need to know  what they believe and why.   They need to be able to be feminine and honoring to God in their speech, but be able to hold their own in conversations with their peers now and when they grow older.  They need to be able to lead women when no one else is leading them.

This is what my good friend Gene Ort had to say about the subject (and he’s a guy I really respect)

Without women in the church, only half of the story gets heard. Without women leading.. women and children often get leftovers and token ministry. To much testosterone leads to imbalance. I believe Christ taught equality of sexes. Not too say men and women are the same, but the differences in ministry create wholeness. All strengths in ministry and leadership should be promoted and celebrated, male and female. Gender prejudice is just dumb and biblically ignorant. Just sayin’

If you’re a woman,  do you have something to say that will help, encourage, or inspire others?  Is your life worth multiplying?

I’m not saying whether my thoughts are right or wrong or absolute. I’m just wondering.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.


Rob and I are going to the Q conference in Chicago this week.  I am not really sure what the Q stands for, but what I do know is this: 

  Q is aFile:Q portrait.jpg fictional character who appears in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager, as well as in related products.

Q has nearly omnipotent powers, and is continually evasive regarding his motivations. His home, the Q Continuum, is accessible only on the rare occasions permitted, and the true nature of it is said to be beyond the comprehension of "lesser beings" such as humans.

Knowing this, I have really, really high expectations for this conference.  🙂