Monday, December 24, 2012

2012: Not The End, Only the Beginning



They said 2012 would be the end... Instead it's only been the beginning...

2012 has been a year that God has called me out to do quite a few new things. One of those exciting things was to begin a new blog for pastor's wives. I didn't know what to expect when I ventured out, but God has blessed me with a wonderful group of writer-sisters who all happen to be ministry wives too AND who happen to be very good writers.

Ladies -- Monique, Christy, Shannon, Cynthia, Dorena, LisaAbbySonia and Levitica -- I couldn't have done this without you!

This has been a fun and exciting year. We've discussed our PK's, the holidays, marriage in ministry, faith and shhhhh... SEX! (Thanks for that Miss Christy!!)

It's been fun, and I've enjoyed every single month.

However, I'm feeling led to take a rest from A Pastor's Wife Garden for now to hear God's voice a little clearer. We'll continue our Facebook connection, but we'll take a break from the blog while we wait for His direction.

In the meantime, enjoy some oldies, but goodies in our archives that you may have missed.

And pray for and with us as we seek God for His direction for this blog. We want to follow His leading for this ministry.

We are grateful for the season of this blog. We are grateful for our Facebook group. We are grateful for a safe place where beautiful women of God have met together, shared their hearts and loved our Father together.

And we are grateful for YOU!

May God bless you amazingly during this Christmas season. I can't wait to see what God has in store for us in the New Year.

Enjoy many new beginnings in 2013. And remember, in Christ there are no endings -- only beginnings.

Love and Blessings,

Carla




Carla Adair Hendricks is a pastor's wife (since 2001), a Mama to four beautiful, rambunctious children, an adoption/foster care advocate, a writer, a lover of current events and public policy and a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. (Definitely not in that order!) She currently resides in Conway, Arkansas, but also calls Baltimore, Maryland and Franklin, Tennessee home. She founded "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" to encourage and uplift ministry wives around the globe, but has been pleasantly surprised over the blessing this blog has been to women from all walks of life. Visit her personal blog, "Deep Waters" here, follow her on Twitter @carlaahendricks and join Carla and other ministry wives every Monday right here at "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" for weekly encouragement. 


Monday, December 17, 2012

In the Midst of Tragedy: What Can the Church Do?

By Carla Adair Hendricks



Last week in my personal blog "Deep Waters", I blogged about the Connecticut school shooting and what we as average citizens can do.

Today, I feel led to discuss what the Church can do in the midst of this national tragedy and those in the future that are sure to come.

Pray

It's been said many times before, but prayer should be our first, second and third response to tragedy. Whether we're watching the news about Superstorm Sandy or about twenty young lives being gunned down in their elementary school, WE MUST PRAY.

Yet we should also have the proper perspective on prayer. Prayer is not a passive response to difficulties. Prayer is active, offensive and powerful. James 5:16 says "The effective prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective." 

Yesterday in my church, Mosaic Conway, my pastor-husband closed service with a prayer for the community of Newtown, Connecticut. We prayed for the families of the victims (including the shooter's family), we prayed for the hearts of the children who witness such heinous actions, and we prayed for the rebuilding of this hurting community.

Seek God

When I've suffered my own personal tragedies, like suffering two miscarriages in one year, I have asked God why. "Why me, Lord?"

A decade later God still hasn't answered that question.

But He did show me more of Himself -- when I opened my heart to see. He did show me that He is still good, still loving, still gracious and merciful. He showed me that even though He had allowed some pretty horrible things in my life, He was still God.

As horrible as the senseless crime in Newtown might be, God is still loving and He is still good. As much as my heart breaks for the Mamas of Newtown, I must cling to Him today and every day.

Remember the Brevity of Life

James 4:14 reminds us how brief our lives really are. "What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."

Our lives are short, and as church leaders we must encourage ourselves and our fellow church members to not forget this. We should live each day recognizing the possibility that it could be our last.

Some questions to ask ourselves and others:

If this were your last day on earth, what would you do differently? Who would you spend time with or reach out to? What would you take a risk on? To whom would you say "I love you"? Who would you need to forgive?

Let's encourage others around us to pray, seek God and remember that tomorrow is not promised. Just think: how would our world change if we all did those three things today and every day?







Carla Adair Hendricks is a pastor's wife (since 2001), a Mama to four beautiful, rambunctious children, an adoption/foster care advocate, a writer, a lover of current events and public policy and a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. (Definitely not in that order!) She currently resides in Conway, Arkansas, but also calls Baltimore, Maryland and Franklin, Tennessee home. She founded "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" to encourage and uplift ministry wives around the globe, but has been pleasantly surprised over the blessing this blog has been to women from all walks of life. Visit her personal blog, "Deep Waters" here, follow her on Twitter @carlaahendricks and join Carla and other ministry wives every Monday right here at "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" for weekly encouragement. 



Monday, December 10, 2012

Creating Home on a PW Budget


Hi Ladies!

I’m taking a fun spin on today's post in light of the season. As PW’s we do a lot of hosting and entertaining during the Holidays… church staff Christmas parties, women’s ministry gatherings, family sleepovers and more. I’m sure we all love to make our house feel warm and welcoming. The only obstacle is that decorating is expensive! Many of us are on very conservative budgets, so in order to warm up a home for the holidays creativity is key [which is wonderful in my book!]. I’ve been getting crafty on pennies around here, so I thought I’d share six fun ways to decorate your home FOR $5 OR LESS.

ENJOY!


1. Make it a white Christmas! ($5)
I grew up in California, and it never snowed on Christmas. But I’ll never forget being amazed at trees that had faux snow. I thought they were so beautiful! It was always my childhood dream to have a snowy tree. And guess what! This is the first year that I got a snowy tree!! I know many tree lots provide flocking, but a few years back someone gifted us with a fake Christmas tree and it’s been a faithful money saver every year since. This year, I decided to add my own snow for a whimsical feel. Turns out, faux snow is fairly cheap.


How To: Buy a $5 bag of faux snow at your local craft store (I got mine at Michaels). I used the kind that looks like pillow stuffing. Spread the "snow" along the tops of your tree branches. It goes a LONG way, so you could make your whole house a white Christmas if you please!

2. Hang a plain wreath for a simple, modern touch ($5).
Sometimes less is more. The hubby and I like to keep things pretty simple around here with our d├ęcor, so this idea was perfect for our pallet. I found these $2 wreaths in a bin at my local craft store (Michaels again) and grabbed a roll of ribbon (in blue since that’s our regular home decor color).


How to: String the ribbon in front of a window, on your existing curtain rod. Then loop it through the wreath and tie a double knot, leaving a little extra ribbon to hang for the look of “tails”. You can't tell in this picture, but my ribbon tails are hanging in the center of the wreaths. Simple and cheap!

3. Print a FREE banner with whatever saying you'd like ($1).
Banner ideas are all over the Internet now a days. I’ve wanted to make one for over a year. I finally found this great website with free printable banner letters. Perfect for adding a little something festive. Did I mention they’re FREE! (If you don’t already have supplies on hand, the entire project could cost just a few bucks at the dollar store. I bought a pack of 38 clothespins for $1, which was my total cost of this project!)



How to: Pick a saying such as “Joy to the World” or “Peace on Earth” or “Merry Christmas”. Go to this website and print your free letters from home on regular printer paper. Cut them out. Then grab cardstock or scrapbook paper (from the dollar store if you don’t have any on hand) in the color of your choice. This will be a nice backing for your white paper triangles (I chose ivory). Then clip on some clothespins and string twine through the little metal coils on the pins. Hang wherever you’d like!

4. Make your own ornaments for less than $3
I found a whole bag of these glitter pinecones at my local craft store for $2.49. And they're cinnamon scent! I thought that was a steal so I grabbed them to decorate my tree. I cut small pieces of twine I already had (you could use any ribbon or string) and hot glued loops on top to hang them from our tree branches. Simple, pretty, and cheap!


5. Assemble a quick, FREE centerpiece.
Here’s an easy one that doesn’t take much time! Grab a glass vase from somewhere in the house. Then steal a few bulbs from your tree. Fill the vase for a quick and easy centerpiece!
Source
6. Keep Jesus at the center with a free nativity!
Google search ”Nativity Silhouette”. Choose one you like. Print it from home. Cut it out and tape it above a mantle, or on a window sill. Tip: string garland just below it on the sill or mantel for a more complete look. Bonus Tip: if you don't have the budget for fresh garland, stop by your local tree lot. They often cut branches from trees and have a big pile of beautiful tree limbs. The owners may be happy to have you help them "clean up" by taking a few off their hands. Pick a few full limbs and make your own fresh garland for FREE! 

And there you have it… six ways to warm up your home for Christmas on a Pastor’s Wife’s budget. And bonus, you can get the kiddos to help on some of the projects too!

Merry CHRISTmas and happy creativity,

Monique Zackery


_____________________________
Monique is a Northern California Pastor's wife. When she isn't glueing her fingers together in a D.I.Y. project, you can find her worshiping God through music and everyday life.  Above all, she desires to be an arrow, pointing others to Jesus. To learn more about Monique, you can visit her family ministry blog at www.TheZackerys.blogspot.com

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Preacher's Wife: A New Perspective

By Carla Adair Hendricks


I have to admit that in 1996, I wasn't a huge fan of The Preacher's Wife. Loved the cast, loved the music, but somehow the plot just seemed a bit -- well, cheesy.

This holiday season I've stumbled upon The Preacher's Wife again, and somehow it resonated with me this time. Perhaps it's because of Whitney Houston's death, which has made me extremely nostalgic over anything Whitney. After all, every time I watch Whitney sing a gospel song, I'm a weepy mess all over again. Needless to say, watching her sing "I Love the Lord" ruined me.

Yet, I realized something else touched my heart about the story this time. In 1996, I was the wife of a corporate businessman. Today, in 2012, I am "The Preacher's Wife".

And suddenly I'm relating to the "First Lady" like never before. Here's how:

"I didn't sign up for this"

I've found myself pondering these six words more during the eleven years of full-time ministry than ever before. And a whole lot in the last three. 


Now mind you, I was totally on board when my husband Anthony entered pastoral ministry. As a matter of fact, he and I both felt called at the same time.

What I didn't sign up for were the uncertainties, the challenges, and the warfare I experience. Of course I'm sure if God had given me a glimpse of it all, I would have run the other way -- faster than Road Runner escaping the salivating jaws of Wile E. Coyote.

I never expected ministry to be so draining

 It's not unusual for a woman to feel like she shares her husband with his job. Most corporations today demand too much from their employees, expecting them to stay "plugged in" twenty-four hours a day. 


But it's hard when your husband works for the church. It's hard when his boss is -- well, God. Who do you get angry with? There's no boss whose picture you can throw darts at.

Whitney's character, Julia, could relate. With her husband consumed with the problems and responsibilities of the church, she was lonely and discouraged. Not a good way to begin the Christmas season.

A few weeks ago, I found myself the belle of a major pity party. I was tired, overwhelmed with a huge list of "to do's" and discouraged about the holidays. As I surveyed our Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday calendar, all I saw was ministry, ministry and more ministry. I saw no family outings, no birthday celebrations (Anthony, the kids and I all have birthdays around the holidays) and no R & R. I saw only ministry -- with more to come in the New Year.

I completely melted down.

However, after some time with God and after saying "no" to a couple of things, God gently reminded me of a hard truth: "Carla, I love you, and you are vitally important to me. But.. it's not all about you. Not even during the holidays. Not even on your birthday."

Ouch.

It's an ongoing adventure

I don't expect any good-looking angels like Denzel to come knocking on my door any time soon. However, this ministry life continues to be an adventure like none other. My goodness, I'm even leading our children's Christmas program -- like Julia! Next they'll have me belting out solos. Then again, maybe not...

The bottom line is, God has signed me up for an adventure that I don't even feel worthy of. I'm totally grateful for His calling, His entrusting me with loving and serving His people.

This Christmas, I choose to be grateful for this gift of ministry.






Carla Adair Hendricks is a pastor's wife (since 2001), a Mama to four beautiful, rambunctious children, an adoption/foster care advocate, a writer, a lover of current events and public policy and a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. (Definitely not in that order!) She currently resides in Conway, Arkansas, but also calls Baltimore, Maryland and Franklin, Tennessee home. She founded "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" to encourage and uplift ministry wives around the globe, but has been pleasantly surprised over the blessing this blog has been to women from all walks of life. Visit her personal blog, "Deep Waters" here, follow her on Twitter @carlaahendricks and join Carla and other ministry wives every Monday right here at "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" for weekly encouragement.







Monday, November 26, 2012

Use Your Faith to Give Someone a Pump!

By Christy Fitzwater

Growing up in church, I took several spiritual gift inventories over the years, and I always scored high on the gift of faith. 

So I always thought, “Okay. I have a lot of faith.” That was as far as my thinking went. 

But a few years ago I read 1 Corinthians 12:7, “Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” For the first time it occurred to me that I had been given a lot of faith for the benefit of other people, to offer as a service to them. 


I chewed on that idea for a long time. How do I use my faith to serve someone else?



I decided it's like the pumping motion required to pedal two people on a single bike. I can propel someone forward in her experience with God, by applying the power of my own faith. 

Soon I realized God was always bringing people across my path who were in a crisis of faith. I had always found this annoying and thought, What’s you’re problem? Why can’t you just believe God and take Him at His word? When the idea of serving with faith entered my thinking, I began to understand God didn’t want me to be annoyed with people –He wanted me to use my faith to help them get through the challenge they were facing. 

Maybe you don’t have the spiritual gift of faith, but as a pastor’s wife you can serve your church family with the amount of faith you do have, even if it’s only the size of a mustard seed. So I’d like to offer some suggestions about how to use your faith to build up your sisters in Christ.   

FIVE STEPS TO GIVING SOMEONE A PUMP:

1.    When God brings someone across your path who is in a crisis of faith, consider it an opportunity to serve her with your own faith.

2.    Find a principal in Scripture that absolutely would be true in the person’s circumstances. 

3.    Take that Scripture and add some imagination!  Speak to the person how you can imagine that Scripture coming true in her life. Approach the crisis as an adventurous story that is going to have a God-ordained conclusion.

4.    Make a commitment to pray the person through the adventure of relying on God, and remind the person often that you’re praying.

5.    Celebrate with the person when she gets to the other side. Acknowledge God’s work in her life and speak faith at the end of the matter. This declaration of faith will lay a foundation for the next time she struggles with trusting God.

If you follow these five steps all the way through, you’ll find that not only have you encouraged someone else to believe God, but your own faith will be bolstered by the experience.






-Christy Fitzwater is a pastor’s wife in Kalispell, Montana.  To get to know her visit http://www.christyfitzwater.com/.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Faith vs. Feelings


Feelings.

We all have them. And as ladies, we experience a lot of them. Often. [Can I get a witness?] There’s that oh-so-sweet commercial that brings a tear to your eye, or that terrible thing so-and-so said that made you angry. We have the ability to experience a whole array of emotions in a day. We can be happy and content just seconds before receiving unexpected news and now we’re devastated and overwhelmed. Given the right scenario, the switch can be flipped on our feelings at any given time.

Experiencing emotions is a good, and normal thing. I believe they are even a gift from God. Feelings are like a signal that tell us what's happening in the heart, and it’s healthy to acknowledge them. But what about when our emotions begin to affect [or trump] our faith? 

What if 2 Corinthians 5:7 read, “For we live by [feelings & sight] not by [faith]”?

Boy, would we be in trouble! Yet, if I’m honest, the question below can be deeply convicting, depending on the season I’m in.

Which one describes you today?

MY FAITH > MY FEELINGS
or
MY FEELINGS > MY FAITH

If you're like me, walking by faith isn't always easy. So, here are three hints for keeping your feelings from trumping your faith: 

1. Use the Psalms as a helpful guide.
I love the example we see from David in the Psalms about how he handles his emotions. He brings them before the Throne of Grace in total honesty. In some Psalms he confesses frustration over his enemies, in others he confesses feelings that God has forgotten him or abandoned him—essentially laying his questions at God’s feet—and in others he tells the Lord of his physical pains, and his exhaustion. Yet in all, he comes back to the truth. He tells the Lord of His faithfulness, thus reminding himself of God’s character. He prevails through faith, not on what is felt or seen, but on what is true.

2. Renew your mind with God's Word. 
Negative emotions will arise. It's natural and, at times, legitimate! But God's plan is not for his children to be defeated by their feelings. Take for example the Pastor's wife who is feeling too fearful to step into her calling, or the one who is beginning to feel hopelessness based on circumstances, or the one who is anxious about her family's provisions. In his book Discipleship Counseling, Dr. Neil T. Anderson explains that our emotions are essentially a product of our thoughts. If we choose to renew our mind with God’s unfailing truth, our emotions will eventually follow [see Philippians 4:8-9]. Let's take our thoughts captive and make them obedient to Christ. “If what a person believes or thinks does not conform to the truth then what the person feels will not conform to reality” (p 88). (Emphasis added).  

3. Examine the object of your faith. 
Faith is the key to victory. Truly, everyone lives by faith. The difference between believers and non believers is the object of faith. Ours is Jesus. But we can still sometimes get off track. For instance when feelings of worry or anxiety come, we must ask ourselves…

“What or who is the object of my faith right now?”

If that answer is not the One, True God [see His attributes here, and His names here] then we will need to realign our faith. I’d like to leave you with this diagram I recreated from Beth Moore’s Believing God study. It’s based on the Israelites journey to the promise land. From this visual aid, we see that prevailing faith in God and His promises will break the spiritual cycle of defeat and lead us into victory!



As New Testament believers, our Promise Land is the inheritance of all the Spiritual Blessings God promises to His children, according to His Word. This includes peace that passes understanding [see Philippians 4:6-7]. So, sisters, as life brings the testing of ups and downs, may we step out on faith with prevailing belief in our Awesome God, aligning our thoughts with His Word, and allowing our feelings to conform to His truth all along the way.

Will you choose to believe God with me today?

Lovingly,

Monique Zackery

_____________________________
Monique is a Northern California Pastor's wife. When she isn't glueing her fingers together in a D.I.Y. project, you can find her worshiping God through music and everyday life.  Above all, she desires to be an arrow, pointing others to Jesus. To learn more about Monique, you can visit her family ministry blog at www.TheZackerys.blogspot.com


Monday, November 12, 2012

Putting Feet to Your Faith

By faith...Abel offered, Noah built and Abraham went.
Hebrews 11:1-8

As Fall's last word fluttered down, Scott's phone rang. The call came as no surprise. My life and those I most loved flanked left in a 30 second call.

That moment was birthed about six months prior as my husband lay in a hospital bed recovering from cancer. What raged within was so much more than a physical battle. It was from that very bed he first uttered his heart's dream - to use all his gifts of management and leadership for God's church instead of financial gain. 

Every day of those six months was lined with prayer. Only God knew of Scott's dream but talking to Him about it was more than enough. One ordinary night, Scott stumbled across an internet posting for the position of COO at Hope Church in Cordova, Tennessee. A quick Google search confirmed this as one of 50 largest churches in America.

It wasn't humanly possible that they would hire Scott, but God makes the impossible possible.

Three weeks later we were seated on a plane - me, Scott and Senior Pastor Craig Strickland - who just "so happened" to be returning from Dallas to Memphis and just "so happened" to be next to us on our flight. God spoke so loudly, Craig's phone call offering Scott the position was more like God's whisper.

Still it was relatively easy to take that call. It was incredibly difficult to act on it.

Answering meant moving my oldest daughters...again. Sadness lined my heart.

Answering meant leaving my parents and sister behind. Regret squeezed my heart.

Answering meant surrendering my own dreams to chase Gods. Faith met my feet.

The point where our faith meets our feet is the point at which it's actually made real. It is one thing to believe; it's another to act on our belief.

Faith is loving my spouse when he doesn't deserve it.

Faith is disciplining my kids when it doesn't seem worth it.

Faith is moving from where I am to where God wants me to be.

How has your faith moved you? Where does it still need to take you?
_________________________


Shannon is a morning runner, an afternoon carpooler and all-day lover of Jesus.

She is the voice of Jesus & My Orange Juice, a fresh-squeezed oasis for ordinary living. Shannon finds joy among piles of laundry and miles of carpools and delights in leading others to this place of contentment in life, through the written and spoken word.

Connect with her online at ShannonMilholland.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Faith For Your Calling

by Levitica "Lee" Watts

Do you remember the day you heard God's calling for your life? That whisper or nudge that confirmed what you were placed here on earth to do? Or perhaps it was a loud and sure voice becknoing you to your purpose, capturing your soul. Realizing and accepting our calling is often magnetic. It is a moment when the pieces of the puzzle all come together and our pain and our path merge together and we know we are where we are supposed to be. His Word and His whisper pierces our soul and we are excited to be alive, to be a part of His plan.

Then..."life" happens. Maybe something big happens in our lives that knocks us to our knees -- a death, a debt, a disappointment. Or perhaps it's those little things that distract us: the busy work schedules, children's activities, church programs, disorganized homes. It seems we no longer have the time, energy, resources or opportunity to do the very thing that we were certain He called us to do. Depression and discouragement sets in. We walk on an inner treadmill and we suddenly, yet slowly become doubtful of the future and God's call on our life. 

Although we talk a lot about faith, we seem to forget about faith when it comes to our own personal internal struggles. Sometimes we have more faith for others, than we have for ourselves - our spouses, our family, church members, friends. We use the faith talk and infamous faith verses for other people or those big problems that we like to bring before the church. Yet those internal questions that we struggle with at night, those... We forget to apply the faith verses to those things. 

When we come to that point of doubt and discouragement in our lives, when we have been brought to our knees, crying out to God and unsure of where we are, why we are here and where we are going, we must believe God's voice, and not our own. We must have faith and remember His character, who He is and not who we are. 

We must believe "... that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears." (Philippians 1:6 MSG)  We also must silence the voices - our own opinions and thoughts - and think of the goodness and love of God. Would He call us to something and not equip us to do it? Would our loving God dangle the proverbial carrot before our eyes? 

Yes, we in and of ourselves are unable to do it. The dream, the calling is too big to live out in our own might. That is when our faith kicks in and we believe that greater is He that is within us, than He that is the world. (1 John 4:4) Somehow the dream, the calling will be lived out. In His time, His way, His plan. 

When we are at a point of questioning our calling and not understanding how we will get from point A to point B, we must lean into God's promises and believe it, although we can't see it. It takes faith to shut-up (mentally and physically) and believe our Father. If we don't stop and reflect, the danger is to keep moving and believe the lies and ignorance we feed ourselves. And we've all seen it - those people that have accepted the lies, the belief that "this" is all there is and they can no longer do what God has set out for them to do. Beloved sisters, that is not who we are. We are more than conquerers. We are faith-walkers. We must press on...in faith.


Levitica “Lee” Watts lives in Atlanta, GA with her husband Terence and two young boys, Terence Jr. and Trenton. Along with serving beside her husband, she is also the editor of an online magazine breathof God magazine and president of Atlanta Chapter of Ministers’ Wives. She is employed as Business Development/Marketing Manager and enrolled as an MBA student at Georgia State. She is a writer, sunshine-lover, hope-chaser, forever-friend of God, who enjoys working out and laughing with friends.


She can be found on Twitter: @lywatts, and on Facebook: Levitica “Lee” Ashby Watts.




Monday, October 29, 2012

Holding on to the God of the Storm


By Carla Adair Hendricks

As I type these words, much of the East Coast is bracing itself for the worst of Hurricane Sandy's fury. With most of my family in Maryland and Washington D.C. I'm bracing myself as well.

As I watch the Weather Channel and other news outlets, several emotions flood my spirit -- fear, anxiety, worry.

Have the storms of life acquainted you with any of these feelings?

This morning, I studied one of the most quoted scriptures, found in Mark Chapter 5. The words "Peace! Be still!" have inhabited many a sermon, bible study and gospel song.

Those words were spoken during a terrible storm. Jesus and His disciples were enjoying a ride across the waters in a boat, when...
"Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, 'Lord, save us! We're going to drown!' He replied, 'You of little faith, why are you so afraid?' Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm." Matt 8:24-26
I saw a few things when I read through this familiar story. I'd love to share them here...

Jesus rides with us through the storm

He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us. No matter what. He is always there. We can always call out to Him. Even when we feel like He's left us or not listening anymore -- and believe me, I've been there -- we can have faith that He is ever present with us. Even in the storm.

Our storms don't rock Him

I've been rocked by a few storms in my life. Every relocation has rocked me. Sickness and death of loved ones has rocked me. And back in 2001 when I miscarried twice in one year, I was rocked to the core. But not my Lord. He knew the storms I would endure. He knows the storms that still loom ahead of me. And yet, even when I fall apart, He stands strong, faithful and true through every last one of them.

 In love, He allows our storms

Why does God allow bad things to happen to good people? It's an age-old question. One that I won't take the hours it would take to answer. One that I couldn't completely answer with my limited human understanding anyway. But this one thing I know: God has the power to prevent storms in our lives, but for some reason He doesn't.

I think God allows storms to build us up. To make us stronger. To make us more like Him.

As we endure the fierce winds, rocky boats and rising waves that threaten to destroy us, He's teaching us faith. Faith that we will survive the storm. Faith that we're stronger than we feel. Faith that He's right there with us -- guiding us, navigating us. Faith that He's building the strength in us to wait for those powerful words that He'll eventually speak to our storms...

"Peace! Be still!"




Carla Adair Hendricks is a pastor's wife (since 2001), a Mama to four beautiful, rambunctious children, an adoption/foster care advocate, a writer, a lover of current events and public policy and a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. (Definitely not in that order!) She currently resides in Conway, Arkansas, but also calls Baltimore, Maryland and Franklin, Tennessee home. She founded "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" to encourage and uplift ministry wives around the globe, but has been pleasantly surprised over the blessing this blog has been to women from all walks of life. Visit her personal blog, "Deep Waters" here, follow her on Twitter @carlaahendricks and join Carla and other ministry wives every Monday right here at "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" for weekly encouragement.


Monday, October 22, 2012

Moving from Satis-fiction to Joy

by Shannon Milholland

Also, their neighbors from as far away as Issachar, Zebulun and Naphtali 
came bringing food on donkeys, camels, mules and oxen. 
There were plentiful supplies of flour, fig cakes, raisin cakes, 
wine, oil, cattle and sheep, for there was joy in Israel.
1 Chronicles 12:40

Banished. 

David was anointed God's servant but that anointing didn't come without cost. He was banished from the presence of the king. Sometimes in ministry what we long for most is elusive.

Intimate friendships.
Financial freedom.
Opportunities for our children.

The call is certain. The anointing is definite. But sometimes walking it out feels more banishment than banquet.

In 1 Chronicles 12, David is hiding from Saul. He is waiting for outward evidence of an inward call. Over the course of this chapter resources trickle in. What starts with seven men (verse 20) ends with a vast army of loyal followers of over 340,000 (verses 24-37), abundant food and resources.

But what we can't miss is the basis for abundance - joy in Israel. No person in scripture was more transparent and honest with God than David. Yet no matter how overwhelming his circumstances or insurmountable his emotions, he sought God's presence. In God's presence there is joy. God's presence brings abundance.

Do you long for intimate friendships? Do you dream of financial freedom? Do you envision better opportunities for your children? First find joy and satisfaction in God. Everything else we chase is nothing but satis-fiction. 
_____________________________________



Shannon is a morning runner, an afternoon carpooler and all-day lover of Jesus.

She is the voice of Jesus & My Orange Juice, a fresh-squeezed oasis for ordinary living. Shannon finds joy among piles of laundry and miles of carpools and delights in leading others to this place of contentment in life, through the written and spoken word.

When she’s not speaking and writing, she enjoys her favorite job of wife to Scott, COO of their church and mom to four daughters from kindergarten to high school.

Connect with her online at ShannonMilholland.com or on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Monday, October 15, 2012

One Joy Fits All

I was sweating by the time I sat down from singing at church last night, because I was so filled with joy that I could hardly keep from moving this body in praise –arms lifted high.  Good things happened in my life this week, and I couldn’t quite figure out how to get enough energy into my singing to match how I was feeling inside.

   

But as I was singing I realized I had felt this joy before.   

Felt it when my husband was sick after his trip to Africa –when God showed Himself present in my deepest pain.  Felt it when I got laid off from my job a few weeks ago –because I knew, I just knew God was going to take care of me.  Felt it when my sweet grandmas passed away –because I had hope they were with Jesus. 

One joy for all situations. 

Somehow I feel my joy in this good week is intensified because it isn’t just a shallow reaction to pleasant events.  It’s a long-term, disciplined obedience that sweetens my relationship with God. 

I know this coming week will have trials.  Nothing stays hunky dory forever on this earth.  And I’m planning on rejoicing in the Lord.
 
Christy Fitzwater is a pastor’s wife in Kalispell, Montana.  To get to know her more visit christyfitzwater.com.
 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Joy in His Presence


“Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his dwelling place.”
1 Chronicles 16:27
 I was so excited to hear that joy is the topic of conversation this month. This seems like a perfect transition in light of what I shared last month. After a season of limping to seek God in my brokenness, I finally had a joyous breakthrough (even though my circumstances haven’t changed), and I’m ready to share the praise report because I whole-heartedly believe that God desires joyous breakthroughs for all of us!

The other day I was spending some worship time alone, which is kind of the norm for me. I’m a sing in the shower type of gal, and a belt-it-out-when-stopped-at-a-red-light sort of driver. But I’ll tell you what was different about this particular time of worship; I consciously, whole-heartedly submitted myself to the Spirit, in a dying to the flesh and relinquishing control kind of way. […Not easy to do, especially when you’re still recovering from an offended heart.]

All of a sudden I felt the Spirit surround me like a thick blanket. Peace that passes understanding filled my heart and mind. Then, joy overwhelmed my heart in the sweetest way.  All of my brokenness—all of my wanderings—felt so dim in light of His presence.  I don’t know how else to describe it. The ache of my earthly afflictions literally felt far away in the distance. It reminded me of the Lyrics to “How He Loves” by David Crowder Band:

Then all of a sudden
I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by gloryAnd I realize just how beautiful you are and how great your affections are for me. 
Y’all, I have never, in all of life’s most precious moments, felt the kind of joy I have felt in God's presence [I pray you can truly relate]. It's a joy filled with hope that surpasses any earthly trouble weighing heavy on my heart.  It's a joy that spills over into the next day and the next and makes me we want to go back to His presence for more! This particular time, the Spirit reminded me of a verse:

“In your presence, there is complete joy” – (Acts 2:28; Psalm 16:11)

Wow. That God even makes His presence available to us is pretty incredible. Some might say this type of experience is few and far between, or one that is not meant for everyone to experience. But here’s where I get excited about God’s joy for you too!

Jesus Has Prayed for Your Joy.
It has always seemed amazing to me that Jesus intercedes for us (Heb. 7:25). There is a beautiful passage of John 17, in which we get a glimpse of how Jesus prays for the children of God. In his prayer he asks God that we might have His full measure of joy within us. (John 17:9-13)  Elsewhere in John 15, Jesus teaches about remaining in Him, The Vine, and remaining in His love, "so that your joy may be complete".

You see it is the Lord’s will that our joy be complete. Therefore, it is His pleasure to grow the fruit of joy in our lives. 

So How Do I get This Joy?
I believe it starts by submitting to God fully, and remaining in Him. Isn't it so easy to slowly drift into relying on our own  strength, even in good things like ministry? Let's reassess our hearts and let His joy be our strength. Operating out of His source of joy as our strength will make the load so much lighter.

Next, pray in agreement with Jesus. In His powerful name, "ask and you will receive and your joy will be complete" (John 16:24). Then practice His presence through regular worship and thanksgiving [not just corporately, individually]. Your joyous breakthrough may not come immediately, but do not give up. He does inhabit [dwell in] the praises of his people and “…strength and joy are in his dwelling place” (1 Chron. 16:27). Joy is available for all of us! 

Dare I ask? What if He’s just been waiting for you to enter in?  :) 

“Holy Spirit, since joy is one of the fruit you grow in the lives of the children of God, please weed, prune, and fertilize my heart for a fresh crop.” – Pastor Scotty Smith**

May His joy abound in you,

Monique Zackery

________________________________


Monique is a Northern California Pastor's wife. When she isn't glueing her fingers together in a D.I.Y. project, you can find her worshiping God through music and everyday life.  Above all, she desires to be an arrow, pointing others to Jesus. To learn more about Monique, you can visit her family ministry blog at www.TheZackerys.blogspot.com


Monday, October 1, 2012

Finding J.O.Y.

By Carla Adair Hendricks



Okay so, no one would want to admit this, but...

I tend to be a glass half-empty kind of girl.

Yes, you read that right.

Most people want to be known as cheerful, fun-loving and optimistic. When life is pretty much status quo I can usually be found in these preferable states. Yet when life falls apart around me, my natural modus operandi is melancholy, withdrawn and pessimistic.

Joy for me is often defined as:

J  - Just
O - Over
Y - Yonder

See oftentimes I think of the reasons joy eludes me, and the list usual consists of statements like this:

"If my life were easier, I could be joyful."

"If we were just a little more financially secure, I could be totally joyful."

"If my life was as easy as hers, I'd be joyful."

Or, check this one out:

"If my husband had a regular job and didn't have the demanding life of a pastor, I'd be joyful."

Depending on the day, I just fill in the blank. "If __________ weren't an issue in my life, I'd be joyful."

The tricky thing about joy, though, is there's always something in my life that I can identify as an obstacle to it. As soon as I overcome one obstacle to joy, something else creeps up out of nowhere to impede my journey to joy.

The end result: Joy is always, always "just over yonder". Always elusive. Never within my grasp.

The Word of God does a lot of talking about joy. Philippians 4:4 is one such verse:

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!"

This verse encourages me to be joyful, even when my life circumstances tempt me with fear and discouragement. Even when I find happiness impossible -- like a week ago when my precious mother's congestive heart failure landed her in the hospital -- I can still experience joy.

This sounds great. But where can we find this joy?

The Message Bible's translation of this same passage gives a great clue:

"Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him!"

This translation reminds me where I can find joy, no matter what joy-obstacles I face in life. I can be joyful about God! I can celebrate God, even when I'm too blind to celebrate anything else. After all, He's a perfect, amazing, all-powerful, loving, gracious, merciful God who never, ever changes.

All day, every day, I can celebrate God. All day, every day, I can be thankful for God. All day, every day I can find joy in God.

Joy doesn't have to be just over yonder. Because God is always here, always desiring relationship with me and you, joy can be always here.

All day, every day.



Carla Adair Hendricks is a pastor's wife (since 2001), a Mama to four beautiful, rambunctious children, an adoption/foster care advocate, a writer, a lover of current events and public policy and a lover and follower of Jesus Christ. (Definitely not in that order!) She currently resides in Conway, Arkansas, but also calls Baltimore, Maryland and Franklin, Tennessee home. She founded "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" to encourage and uplift ministry wives around the globe, but has been pleasantly surprised over the blessing this blog has been to women from all walks of life. Visit her personal blog, "Deep Waters" here, follow her on Twitter (@carlaahendricks) and join Carla and other ministry wives every Monday right here at "A Pastor's Wife's Garden" for weekly encouragement.









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