Home/Family Life, Ministry

Intentional But Generous

IMG_9894_2My family moved to Wales two weeks ago. That is a reality I am still having a hard time grasping. This thing we have been working toward for 4 years is actually happening now. God has worked in some amazing ways and our last 2 months have been crazy good saying good-bye to our life in the US and hello to our new life in the UK.

In the past two weeks we have had an ever-opening door on our apartment as we have invited people over and welcomed in teens that need a place to talk and a willing heart to listen. To add to all that crazy goodness, our baby girl started school for the first time this week! A new routine is starting in our home and a new phase of family life.

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This past week has been amazing, but very full. I decided I needed to go out and decompress and just spend some time alone. Brian graciously said, “GO!” (I might be a tad bit hard to live with when I get to this overloaded state)

When I need to get my priorities back in line and organize my life, it usually goes like this:

  • Go get coffee
  • Start with a small project that will give me a sense of accomplishment

So that’s what I did. I took a bus ride to Starbucks and started deleting old photos off my phone – tell me I’m not the only one that waits until I my storage is full to finally delete those photos that have already been on my computer for months. Anyway, as I did this I found a screenshot of a quote that spoke to my heart right where it was at this exact moment.

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“Guard your time fiercely. Be generous with it. But be intentional about it.”

Generous but intentional. This is my heart right now. I have made “Simplify” my word of 2015. With this I have wanted to be intentional with what I have, spend, eat, and probably most importantly- invest my time in. But I also want to be GENEROUS. Oh, how I want to be generous with my time. It is one of my greatest fears to take this amazing opportunity to live and minister in Wales and live for myself instead of God.

I love my iphone, my laptop, and I love talking- but I think with a pen a paper. So I got out a notebook and got intentional. 6 full pages and a major cramp in my hand later, I had an idea of what guarding my time and being generous would look like.

This was my process:

I wrote “What is Important?” across the top of the first page. I started with God and then moved on to people. Under people I wrote out every name that was important to me. People I wanted to invest time in, people I wanted to impact, people I wanted to get to know better, people I love and people I want God to make me love. Under people came my health, my home, and my personal interests.

IMG_0020 After I wrote out everything that I have a desire to spend real time on, I moved on to the next page – “What Do These Priorities Look Like?” The names and things written on the first list were goals, but they weren’t a plan. So on this page I started really dreaming. What would it look like to really put time into these areas? Discipleship, dates, budgeting, letter writing, and many more real tangible ideas.

IMG_0018 Then comes the putting it all together step. If I had been at home I probably would have gotten out a wipe off board or some cute post- it notes. But I worked with what I had: paper and pen. So I ripped up little slips of paper and wrote an activity or event on each slip. Then I made a week-long schedule and placed the slips of paper where they fit in the week. I intentionally placed the most important items first and worked through my slips.

IMG_0017 Will my week really go as perfectly as I have it laid out right now? Goodness no! But I am taking a step in being intentional but generous with my time.More important than following my schedule, it is my prayer that I let God guide my time this week and make it count. May you have a meaningful week too!

-Rebekah

Home/Family Life, Lessons Learned, Ministry

Getting Away

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There is a difference between getting away and running away.

I love to “get away” for a little while. My love language is an afternoon at a coffee shop with praise music and my laptop.   Most of the time after 3 hours reading, praying, and writing I feel refreshed and ready to face another week of real life.   But there are times when that refreshment I feel only lasts the 20 minutes it takes me to get back home. As soon as I walk in the door I am mom and wife and everything else again. Lately I have just wanted more time, just more time away, more time to refresh, more time to refill my soul. I have struggled with guilt that I should cherish time with my family. I should be thankful for the ministry opportunities God has given me. I should be able to manage my time better to fit refreshment into my day without having to go away to get it. I do cherish my family, I am thankful for opportunities, I do “fit some God time” into my everyday life. But what about when that ache in my soul still says “I’m tired”. What about when at the end of my 3 hours away I’m not ready to go back home yet.

If I am going to get so honest about how I feel lately, I need to get honest with what God is speaking to me about lately as well.

In my quest for more time away, more time to refresh, I have become extremely self-focused. Ouch. I recently heard, “Where you stare you will steer”.  I have been staring at myself lately. I have been staring at my lack of free time, my desires, my problems. Because my focus has been on my lack, my soul has ached for what I don’t have.

I’m not saying a time of refreshment is bad or that taking time out is selfish. This is what I am saying – If I focus on myself during that time of refreshment, I will walk out feeling exactly as I felt when I entered it. When I get away simply to forget my problems for a little while- I am running away.

If I focus on God and His Strength, His agenda, His plan – I will walk out refreshed and ready to face the world. I am no longer running away from the situation, I am getting away to get better perspective and a renewed energy to face what is ahead.

This weekend I heard someone speak on “What do you do when you don’t know what to do?” The basic answer she gave- Love God. Love People. Well, 2014, you have clearly spoken again. My goal I made to love people more this year just keeps coming back to me. It seems each time it comes up there is a different area that I am challenged in. This time I realize, I don’t have the time or energy to love people like I want to. There I said it, loving people is something I just can’t do in my own strength.

If I want to really love people as 1 Peter 4:8 says, [Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.] I have to first focus on God. It’s not about loving myself before I can love others, it’s about loving God and the things He loves.

Today I am at the end of 4 days away from my husband and beautiful children. I finally got my time away to refresh and rest my weary soul.   It was needed time and I highly recommend everyone take some regular time away. But don’t just take the time to run away from “real life”. Take the time to refocus your life on the One who life is really all about. In a few hours when Brian picks me up, I’m sure it won’t take long for my focus to quickly shift back to myself. This battle to focus on Christ is a daily one. Thankfully, it is also one that is wrapped in His grace.

Thank you God for not demanding perfection out of me. Help me to daily remember to love You and love others.

Rebekah

Ministry

Youth Ministry & Ice Cream

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In two days, I leave for the greatest place on earth – Church Camp. Five glorious days of not being “mommy”, no cooking, no housework, no wi-fi, no social media distractions, and most importantly 5 days of watching God work in young people’s lives. I’ve been to Disney World, and trust me camp is better!

Not only am I going to church camp, I am going to church camp in Wales. I am going to church camp in Wales with an amazing group of teenagers. These kids really are special. They love God and they want to see Him work in their lives and their friends’ lives. Do they do dumb things sometimes? Of course, they are teenagers. Do they do things that disappoint me? Of course, they are human. Regardless of any of that, I love their hearts and I love their passion.

Passion is something you cannot fake. I love seeing a person’s eyes come alive when they start talking about something they love. Brian and I have a name for this, we call it the person’s “Youth ministry and Ice Cream”. When we were first married and starting our very first job in ministry we loved to brainstorm and talk about ideas to do with our group. One day as we were talking, we happened to walk into a little ice cream shop with homemade ice cream AND fresh homemade waffle cones. My husband loves teenagers, but my husband LOVES good ice cream. The speed at which he was talking and the lights in his eyes were remarkable. He was in his “happy place” as some would call it. Since that day when we see someone get really excited about a topic we call it their “youth ministry and ice cream” reaction.

Why are we passionate about youth ministry? The teenage years are such a pivotal time in life. For any of us past those years, we can probably look back and see at least one decision we made during that time that has had a lasting impact on our entire life.   Teenage years are hard. There are so many questions about the future, friends, relationships, self worth, and just life in general. Problems and real life don’t wait until you are all grown-up to start.

Another thing that doesn’t wait until you are grown-up to start: God’s Love. I love teenagers because God loves teenagers.   I love telling young people that God loves them, because it is the only answer that will make a real difference in their life.

When I see a young person who truly grasps this — that understands that God loves them and that is the most important relationship in their life — I get excited. This group of teenagers at Libanus excites me. And I get to spend a whole week with them!

Of course there will be other teenagers there that don’t “get this” yet, and I pray I get to be a witness as they begin to hear about and understand God’s love for the first time. I love being a mom and I will miss my babies like CRAZY, but the only thing that would make me leave them for an entire week is the anticipation of seeing God work in and through lives in a mighty way.

 

Just in case you think I abandoned my “Top 5” series, I didn’t. There is no way to do the Top 5 Things I Love about Ministry in one post. So consider this a start —

Top 5 Reasons I Love This Ministry:

 

1. THE YOUTH

Their passion.

Their talent! (This is a crazy talented group of kids we are working with in so many different areas)

Their ability to have fun anytime, anywhere.

Their desire to see others come to know, love, and follow God.

Their own love for God.

 

The group of kids we have right now are not perfect, they really are not even close to perfect. But God loves them, (He loved them so much He sent His Son to die for them!) So I love them. I love them when they disappoint me. I love them when they do stupid things. I love them when they say stupid things. I love them when they are mean. I also love them when they just “get it”. I love them when they reach out to others. I love them when they display humility. I love them when they make me proud.

 

God, Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to spend an entire week investing in some ordinary kids made extraordinary by Your Love.

 

-Rebekah