“We Are a Family”

Ohana means family.  Family means no one is left behind or forgotten.”  “This is my family.  I found it all by myself.  It is small and broken, but good.  Yes, definitely good!”  Imagine these two quotes being said by Stitch from the Lilo and Stitch movie.  These quotes are special to Adam and I, and we often quote them to one another.

ohana

Recently, especially since I have finished graduate school, the questions have started about when we will start our family.  Are we not already a family as a married couple?  I think we are indeed a family!  Perhaps questions of a sensitive nature are appropriate in some cultures, but questions about when we’ll have kids make me feel uncomfortable.  Mostly these questions come from complete strangers or acquaintances who are trying to get to know me better.  Nonetheless, I feel like we should all stop asking these types of questions.

I “mother” children all day as I teach them, pray with them, wipe their noses, dry their tears, and listen to their laughter.  I am not their mom, and yet I treat children how I want my future children to be treated.  At the end of the day, these children all go back home to their families and I go back home to mine.

My family is good, even if people think that we should already be having children.  I look forward to the day that children are brought into our family, whether biologically or by adoption.  Until that happens, I will enjoy being part of my family of two + Ryder and treasure all the little ones (many who are now taller than me) that God has brought into our lives.

family kiss

A beautiful beginning to our family!

I would love to hear your thoughts.  Do you think individuals should ask others when they want to start having children or if they plan to have more children?  How close should you be to someone to ask this question, or is it ever appropriate?  I welcome opinions, presented respectfully, that differ from my opinion.  Please write your thoughts in the comment section!

 

 

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Keeping the Dream Alive

After divinity school, I dreamed I would be working full time in a church and only be a few years away from serving God overseas.  However, instead of one full time ministry position, I spread my time between three part time jobs, my husband, my dog, my friends, my blog, and keeping my dreams alive.

When God brought Adam and I together, our passions matched, and my timeline changed.  While he earns his Master of Public Health degree, I will continue to serve where God places me “for such a time as this.”  Eventually, we’ll follow God to the land that God will show us.  We are still seeking God’s guidance as to where we ultimately serve on mission.

Prior to going to overseas, I have a dream of serving once again in a Baptist congregation.  For now and for while Adam is in school, I have the honor of serving in the midst of a mission minded, hospitable Methodist congregation.  I’ve learned to love a new set of hymns, internalized creeds, navigated my way through a different church polity and hierarchy, learned more about John Wesley, and come to appreciate a new tradition.  Still at the end of the day, I now know, more than ever, why I still hold true to many Baptist traditions: believer’s baptism by immersion, separation of church and state, and the ability for each church to govern itself.

My gender continues to be a major barrier to being hired by a Baptist church.  Unfortunately, many Baptist congregations are not open to hiring a female minister.  Thankfully, I was ordained by a Baptist church, graduated from a Baptist divinity school, and have served in two Baptist churches.  My dream is one day that all congregations will acknowledge that God calls individuals, both male and female.  I am thankful for organizations like Baptist Women in Ministry (BWIM) who help me and other women keep our dreams of being a pastor, within Baptist congregations, alive!

bwim

I’m wearing the new BWIM “The World is Waiting for YOU” t-shirt on the roof during a recent Appalachia Service Project mission trip.

What dreams are you trying to keep alive?  How are you overcoming the barriers to seeing your dreams become a reality?  I would love to read your responses in the comments or have a conversation with you about this topic!

God Used My Past….Hallelujah!

During Vacation Bible School, God allowed me to reflect back upon my past experiences with anxiety so I could help calm down children.  Many were anxious about parents leaving for the night or were unsure how to handle the thunderstorm.  I led the children to take deep breaths and think about the things that they would enjoy at VBS.  I am not proud that I have dealt with anxiety, and I am actually embarrassed that my life, especially during college, was plagued with panic attacks.  However, when I have a small part in helping a child go from anxious to calm, I know that God is bringing all things together for His good.

I could not see, even just a few years a go, how God could bring anything good from my anxiety.  It was so severe in college that I struggled to function normally, and I was frequently sick to my stomach.  I never thought that I could overcome these issues to be a minister to children and families.  I was convinced that I was could not break free from the cycle of anxiety and depression.  I allowed my struggles to define who I thought I was supposed to become.

Yet, God had a different plan for my life.  I am thankful that God brought healing to my life via counseling, medication, a supportive family, accepting friends, and ministers, professors, & laity who have mentored me.  Some days are still more difficult than others, and yet I know that God is still at work, even when I feel anxious and discouraged.

As I write this blog, I am reminded that God has not brought me to the other side of certain circumstances to be silent.  God, please grant me the courage to share with others about my valleys in a way that empowers others to seek You and glorifies You.  God, give me the voice and the platform to share Your love with others, especially those who feel lonely, anxious, and depressed.

“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.”  Psalm 126:5-6

This Season

Sometimes on this side of the ocean, I am impatient.  We know that we’re called to go serve God overseas, and my newsfeed is full of my friends who are in the midst of the joys and struggles of life outside of their passport country.  All the while, we’re still stateside finishing up our education, paying down debt, and serving God in the midst of our everyday routines.

I know God is using this season to prepare me for the next few chapters in my life.  I am surrounded my an affirming faith community so I can further develop my gifts and calling.  I have a great group of Bible study sisters so that I can be lifted up in prayer and know the joy of praying intensely for others.  I have a dog to help me learn more about Adam (and others) who care so much for animals.  I am surrounded by wonderful families who bless me with the joy of loving their children.

If I am right where God wants me to be, why am I chomping at the bit to be in the next season?  Being still is a struggle for me, and God desires for me to be still.  He lovingly guides me to be beside the still waters so He alone can restore my soul.  As God pieces my heart back together, I gain wisdom and compassion that I can share with others who are struggling.  Believing in Jesus is not without struggles or for the faint at heart.

In this season, I know I need to share my story, and yet I resist being that vulnerable.  Please pray that I will continue to seek God’s guidance as to know what to write about and when.  Pray that I will journal consistently and effectively to process things for myself and to make sense of things that I want to blog about soon.  My hope and prayer is that my blog will be a ministry and a hope to others!