Thursday, February 26, 2015

With All Your Heart

Let's face it. We all do what we do for a bunch of different reasons.

From outside appearances, we are fearing the Lord and serving Him faithfully, as we should. Yet if we are honest with ourselves before our God, Who knows our hearts, our motivations can be far from pure.

My first two posts this week have come straight from a single verse, 1 Samuel 12:24. This post looks at the next phrase, "...with all your heart."

I am not sure we can faithfully serve Him UNLESS we are doing it with our whole heart. We know why we do what we do matters.

I know that I could literally live at the church and take on more responsibilities in more areas of ministry, but unless my motivation is spot on, I would do it all in vain.

Yes, I may be faithfully doing everything I am "supposed" to be doing, but my motivation is far from what it should be. I am doing it, but definitely not with my "whole" heart. Maybe half my heart or maybe the percentage is even less.

Too often I literally look around to see who will notice what I am doing. I confess that I want the recognition, the pat-on-the-back, the acknowledgment that what I am doing is important and that I am doing what I am doing well.

My heart is centered on me, not the Lord I say I am serving.

God might bless my efforts and use them despite my impure motives, yet I am missing out in my relationship with Him.

Can anyone relate?

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Serve Him Faithfully

Dear Minister's Wife,

I KNOW you can relate to me. I KNOW you've been there.

Each day of every week has at least one church related obligation or responsibility for you and/or your husband. As you faithfully serve beside him, it is easy to become weary. It is understandable to grow tired. No one could fault you for getting to the point of merely going through the motions.

You feel under appreciated and maybe even taken advantage of. Sometimes, too many times, church members just aren't very Christ-like and you know you must be the one to turn the other cheek.

The next phrase of 1 Samuel 12:24, that I am focusing on this week, is this: "...and serve him faithfully..."

Ouch.

This definitely stepped on my toes.

It's in these seasons, the Holy Spirit gently reminds me WHO I am faithfully serving.

Ladies, we aren't to serve the choir, the Sunday School Class or the WMU. We aren't to serve the church as a whole or even our families. Our husbands are not even mentioned here.

When the recipient of my service is my Savior, I am able to do so much more than go through the motions. If I am going to yet another committee meeting or throwing another load in the washer I can do it with the right motivation and it is no longer such a chore.

Lord, PLEASE help us serve YOU faithfully. Keep our focus on YOU and YOU alone.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Only Fear the Lord

I don't consider myself a "Worry Wort." Actually, I think I am a pretty laid back, go-with-the-flow kind of gal. I am definitely NOT obsessive or compulsive about cleaning or germs. (I've taught my girls the 5 Second Rule as a way to teach them to count to 5!)

So, this morning as I was contemplating my memory verse for the week, I found myself convicted and surprised.

My verse, 1 Samuel 1:24, begins with this phrase: "Only fear the Lord..."

At first thought, I considered this exhortation extremely easy. I don't really have any phobias. I don't LIKE spiders, but I am no longer really scared of them.

Then the Holy Spirit prompted my heart.

In my prayer journal I began to list the things that I am afraid of. I am embarrassed to admit that my list was a lot longer than I had imagined. Nothing on my list was unreasonable and would resemble most mothers of my age. Yet, still there they were in my own handwriting, showing me my own lack of faith.

Honestly, it was a really sobering and humbling experience. The only fear I should have is a feeling of reverence and awe of the One who takes away all those others I listed.

This afternoon I found myself in the dentist's chair undergoing an unexpected root canal. (Believe it or not, I had inadvertently left off my fear of dental work this morning!) As the sound of the drill filled my ears and as I stared at the dead fly in the florescent light above my head, I found myself repeating, "Only fear the Lord. Only fear the Lord. Only fear the Lord."

Not what might or might not happen - Only fear the Lord.
Not what someone else might think of me - Only fear the Lord.
Not what God may ask me to do or give up or lay down - Only fear the Lord.

So this is where I am today . . . praying and confessing and learning how to ONLY fear the Lord.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

I've Got This!

My mother passed away in 2006 and my father died about eight months ago...neither wanted a funeral or a memorial service…nothing celebrating their life.  As far as we know neither confessed Christ as Savior.  Their wishes were to be cremated and then have their ashes scattered somewhere in the desert mountainous region near Palm Springs California.

Since there was no ‘service’ for my dad when he died in June and since my three brothers and I are living in several different states, we have not been all together since he died.  For months we had planned to all meet in California the week of February 8…the four siblings and their spouses/significant others.
For weeks I had been looking forward to going and getting to laugh, reminisce, and simply to be together…that is...until right before it was time to go.  I began to be sad.  It made it all seem so final and it brought to the surface of my mind and heart the pain of eternity without Jesus. 

Last week it was time for us to make the trip to California.  (And I might add...a perfect time for us to go since it is really, really cold in Indiana in February and really, really warm in California!!)  My older brother was not able to make the trip--sadly, his father-in-law was very ill and they just could not leave him...but the rest of us made precious memories as we spent time together.
Then the day arrived.  We drove several hours to what appeared to be the perfect site.  It was in the desert.  It was mountainous.  It was beautiful.  We walked in silence…hand-in-hand with our loved ones…along a trail.  Then there it was!!  Standing right before us….staked in to the ground….the name of the trail we were on.
The HENDERSON trail!!  The significance??  My parent’s last name….HENDERSON!!!
Was it planned by us???  No!  Did we know?  NO!!  Did God know?  YES!!  It was as if He was saying to me, “Dana….I’ve got this!  I am aware of everything….and I love you!!”  A beautiful gift.  An assurance that He is on His throne!

I am in awe of Him….of His Power and of His omniscience.  Of His personal care for one of His daughters who needed to be reminded that He is Present.  Look for Him.  Look for the stake in the ground along the trail you are on and see Him loving you.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

When God Doesn't Do it My Way

I am about to leave for Tennessee to speak to a group of women at the Pickwick Inn.  I am in Indianapolis covered in snow.  Kentucky and Tennessee have gotten a lot of snow and ice.  How in the world am I going to get to the Pickwick Inn?  Will they decide to cancel/reschedule because the ladies won’t be able to get there?  Decisions, decisions….this has been planned for a very long time and it is a tenth anniversary event for them.  A big deal.  A celebration of the King!!

For over a year, when the planning for this retreat first began, much prayer has been lifted up to the Lord concerning the weather.  "Please, Lord, don’t let it snow!!"  And, yet….here we are....and there is not only a lot of snow…but lots of ice. 

This is one simple example….there are millions of them.  You know, the thing you have asked God for to happen—or not to happen…and it happens—or doesn’t happen.  Bottom line….God didn’t do it our way.  On our time-table.

This is the place where we are tempted to question God’s faithfulness.  We are tempted to think God doesn’t care or He is mad at me or I am in trouble or prayer really doesn’t work, or any other such sinful thought.

OR….when things don’t go our way…

We can claim statements of faith like Paul did in Acts 27

"I serve God
I belong to God!
He stands before me!
Do not be afraid!
Take courage!
I believe God!"

I am memorizing these statements of faith….I repeat them over and over each time something happens that I don’t like or that I fear or that is hard.  This has been a particularly difficult, sad, hard week where I have cried them out to the Lord again and again.

Be encouraged my friend!!  State these over and over again and remember that circumstances are not the place we look to see who God is or how faithful He is.  Circumstances lie and get our minds and eyes off of Him and distort the Truth.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Being Practical


While some people get the opportunity to travel to exotic destinations, purchase expensive jewelry, vehicles, and homes, most ministers and their families must make ends meet and live in a more practical way.  Is it because we are more spiritual?  No, I believe it comes from juggling finances and deciding between an expensive vacation and a new roof.

My husband and I have always been frugal.  For instance, very early in our marriage, we learned to stretch our shoestring budget. All our pocket change goes into a container.  A couple times a year I will take it to the bank to see how much we have collected.  That amount is then saved toward something we need or sometime put toward a mission trip or a simple vacation. 

However, I do have to tell you this little story.  After my husband’s college graduation, my in-laws took us to Hawaii for a week.  It was fabulous.  This little beach bum was in heaven.  Being the naive minister’s wife that I was and still am, I told my husband that on our twenty-fifth wedding anniversary I wanted to go back to Hawaii and to have an emerald-cut emerald ring. (Gee, even I am rolling my eyes recalling that statement).

When our twenty-fifth anniversary rolled around, we were neck deep in a mortgage, had a son heading off to college, and had a high school sophomore needing a vehicle.  There was no romantic trip to Hawaii or a beautiful emerald cut emerald ring.  We chose to be practical and give each other a new set of mattresses.  Yes, sisters, a new set of mattresses is a great gift especially when your old, hand-me-down mattress set is lumpy, saggy, and killing your back. The day the mattress set arrived my husband and I said “happy anniversary” to one another and kept dreaming of that Hawaiian vacation.

Sometimes ministry just calls us to be practical in our decisions.  Have we been back to Hawaii? No!  Can we dream?  Yes! That is what God wants us to do.  However, we should never want something that is not in line with God’s plan for us.  The Lord is always going to give His best whether it is an exotic vacation or a new set of mattresses.

Practical Note:  One minister’s wife shares that her husband’s practical idea for Valentine’s Day was to have her order 12 rose bushes then he built a rose bed to plant them in.  He told her that he would never have to buy her roses again. (What a great idea!  A gift that keeps on giving year after year!)

Do you have a practical way of saving?  What is your most “practical” gift you have received?

Please share your ideas!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Stressed!


I am writing this blog a few days early but I just need to share and I also need your prayers.

I do not know why I cannot listen to my own advice and relax.  Maybe it is because God made me one of those people who desire to take care of everyone else.  It is even to the point that I do not even realize when I am stressed.  Also, I can tell you that even my favorite nerve pills, Peanut M & M’s, did not help me last weekend when I had to spend several hours in ER due to extremely high blood pressure.

After the last two and half years of dealing with my terminal ill parents, I have developed an aversion to hospitals period.  Just the thought of having to go to one can make my heart race.  However, last Saturday night I needed help.  My usually normal, healthy blood pressure suddenly decided to skyrocket.  I became light-headed, and it felt like a butterfly had been set loose in my chest. After being hooked up to a heart monitor, having an EKG and CAT scan, and blood work, everything looked good.  However, my pressure was elevated.  My greatest fear was that the doctor was going to tell me “no more chocolate.”  Instead, I was sent home with instructions to see my general practitioner doctor which I did.  Thankfully the blood pressure is in a normal range most of the time. However, because my dad had heart disease, I will need to wear a Halter Monitor for twenty-four hours.

Saying all of this, do you know what both the ER doctor and my family doctor believe my problem to be?  STRESS! I cannot believe that I have any stress in my life.  Well, I do try to keep up with the household chores, serve on our state ministers’ wives team, lead our association ministers’ wives fellowship, worry over my grown children, and babysit my two-year grandson.  Of course, I have responsibilities at church from choir to women’s ministry.  In addition, I do live with the pastor of the church.  Okay, so maybe I do have some stress.

God has a way to getting us to listen and He clearly says to “Be Still” in His word.  On Sunday morning after my night in the ER, I went to Sunday School and our lesson was on caregivers.  As many of you know I helped care for my ill parents for two years before they both passed away.  That morning a woman shared her experience of caring for her totally paralyzed sister for five years.  It has now been about three years since her loved one died, but stress finally hit her.  As she shared her story, it was like God was speaking directly to me saying, “See, you haven’t slowed down. You simply buried both your parents and then kept going on.  It is okay to cry, scream, laugh, feel relief, and take care of yourself.” 

As ministers’ wives we are often too busy to truly feel the stress of our role.  If you are a caregiver as I was, life passes you by.  I feel like I have missed so much of my own personal life that I am trying to make up for lost time.  When the ER doctor said the word “stress,” I started crying.  Even now as I write this blog, tears are forming in my eyes.  Stress is very real and very harmful to our health.  It will catch up with us.


As I monitor my blood pressure this week and receive the results from the heart monitor, I covet your prayers.  Heart disease and high blood pressure runs in my family so I want to be sure everything checks out fine.  If it is stress as the doctors believe, I ask that you pray for me to learn to relax daily. Personally, I would really love for the word “stressed” to be read backwards as “desserts” so I can just have a party.