{Ministry Mom} Worth More Than Diamonds

MandyWritten by: Mandy Lawrence-Hill

….worth far more than diamonds. (Proverbs 31:10 MSG)

The definition of worth is: “the level at which someone or something deserves to be valued or rated.

Our culture is insistent that we find our ‘worth’ in various ways. Where do you find your worth?

Do you find worth in your education? Perhaps you have a degree or two from a prominent university, framed and boldly centered on your office wall. Do you find your worth in your job? Maybe you’ve climbed the ladder and have worked REALLY hard to earn the position you possess today. Do you find your worth in a growing platform? Maybe you have double the number of fans on Facebook or Twitter as your competitors. Do you find your worth in your family? I’ll bet you are pretty proud of the hard-working husband and beautiful children you call your own. What about a car? A boat? Your hair? Your home? Your passion? Your talent? Your ministry? (Ouch)

Now, what if the very thing in which you found your worth was stripped away. Would you still be worthy?

What if you have none of these things? Does that make you worthless?

1 Peter 1: 3-7 says this: God has something stored up for you in heaven, where it will never decay or be ruined or disappear. You have faith in God, whose power will protect you until the last day. Then he will save you, just as he has always planned to do. On that day you will be glad, even if you have to go through many hard trials for a while. Your faith will be like gold that has been tested in a fire. And these trials will prove that your faith is worth much more than gold that can be destroyed. They will show that you will be given praise and honor and glory when Jesus Christ returns. (CEV)

Worth has nothing to do with anything you can possess or obtain in the physical sense. Nothing you can buy, earn or create on this earth will increase or decrease your worth. The value you feel in any of the things I mentioned above, or anything else other than God Himself will soon fade away.

It is only when you put your hope and faith in God, without reservation, without holding back, that your worth is far greater than diamonds, my friend.

Don’t settle for anything less.

{Marriage} A Wise Alternative.

Written By: Mandy Hill

“Pray continually.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

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More often than I wish to admit, I choose words of my flesh over words spoken in prayer. This is especially true in my marriage.

When my hubby and I disagree on something, my first instinct is to defend; using words. However, the bible says to …..”watch your words and hold your tongue; you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.” (Proverbs 21:23)

So, why not offer up a prayer instead?!…..whether it’s as simple as “Please help me, Jesus! I need Your wisdom in this situation,” or, something more lengthy; prayer in those moments is a much wiser alternative to speaking the words of our own flesh.

The bible also says this: “Watch the way you talk. Let nothing unwholesome come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift.” (Ephesians 4:29)

Our natural instincts are to talk….I’m certain you’ve heard these sayings before: “Talk your way out of it”, “talk your way to the top!” etc. However, the bible has a lot to say about very carefully examining what we speak before any words leave our lips.

I was really thinking about this the other day and asked The Lord for a wise way to say less. Was it to listen more? Use less words? I felt him nudge my heart with our verse for today: “Pray continually.

As I pondered this verse, I was overwhelmed by what a different world we would live in if we all choose to “pray continually” instead of using so many of our own words. If every time a disagreement arose in my marriage and I prayed through it rather than taking on defence and seeking my own victorious ending; I believe the outcomes of those disagreements would be so much more peaceable.

Father God, thank You so much for blessing me with such a gracious husband! Thank You for loving me, even when I talk too much. I pray, Jesus, that these words will penetrate into my heart and become my new way of living; to pray continually. I pray also for my sisters, please guide their words and nudge their hearts to continually seek You rather than pull from the depths of their own flesh. We praise You and we desire so much more of You. Please fill us to overflowing. In Jesus name, amen.

{Marriage} Want a great marriage??

By: Mandy Hill

Do you know a married couple that seems more in love than other couples you know? More affectionate, more connected, more together? What sets this couple apart from the others you know?! What about their marriage relationship has allowed you to place them in a ‘cut above the rest?’

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Marriage undoubtedly takes intentional effort and work. God spoke to my heart this morning as I was thinking ahead to a date night with my husband, that will take place next week. I was thinking of ways I may best spend my energy with the sole intention of blessing him….no personal gratification or pleasure; simply blessing him.

My mind wandered to other couples whose love is tangibly rich and evident by unwavering happiness and joy. What makes these couples stand out amongst others….

Thinking of three couples specifically, I began to notice that they were each very different. The commonality between them all however, was the fact that they made three things their top priority:

1) Nurturing and growing their faith through daily spiritual discipleship.
2) Prioritizing time intentionally spent with one another on a regular basis.
3) Mutual respect.

These couples do not look to other couples for how to be married well….they look first to God and rely on His word for direction and wisdom.

Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

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So, back to my question… How can I truly bless my husband during our date?! The answer is in the word! The more I know God through His word, the more I will learn in how to live a holy and righteous life. His word will bring light to areas I can change in order to enrich my marriage, convicting me of my weaknesses and the characteristics I have that do my marriage harm rather than good.

Who or what are you looking to as an example for a successful marriage?

Thank you God for Your incredible truth! I love to read Your word, and I pray that the time I spend in Your word will be time in training; Training to love like You love. Teach me Your ways. I pray that You will help me to make choices that please You, and honor You. Help me be a good wife to Nathan, the wife You intended me to be when You joined us together. Please continue to bless our marriage. In Your name I pray, amen.

{Marriage} Pillow talk.

Written by: Mandy Hill

Oh, how I wish you would kiss me passionately! For your lovemaking is more delightful than wine. (‭Song of Solomon‬ ‭1‬:‭2‬)

Imagine an exquisite flower that flourishes and grows only if kept safety of it’s appropriate environment; like a greenhouse. Within the borders of it’s greenhouse, this beautiful flower sparkles and thrives. If however, the flower is taken away from it’s greenhouse it begins to wither up and the beauty it once had is much less recognizable.

Sex is like that exquisite flower; it’s greenhouse, a marriage. If kept within the borders of marriage sex is unimaginably beautiful. If however, sex is taken to a place outside of marriage, the beauty that God intended for sex begins to wither and fade.

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God wants for us to enjoy our husbands caresses, to desire for his arms around us and to take comfort, joy and strength from our sexual relationship. So what happens when sex, within a marriage is unenjoyable?

If you have been enduring sex rather than enjoying it, you need to talk with your husband about it. (Not anyone else, him) Is there an underlying problem in your marriage that needs to be addressed? Is there unresolved issues or guilt from your past that is choking out your pleasure? Perhaps one or both of you have anxiety about possibly conceiving before planned? Are there things you could do differently, or unmet expectations? When you talk openly about your sex life (with the one that God intended for you to share it with); intimacy will most definitely flourish.

Sexual intimacy is something that God created for us to enjoy- so enjoy it, sister! If something is standing in the way of you enjoying this area of your marriage- pull up a pillow and talk!

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Heavenly Father, thank You for the blessing of enjoying a sexual relationship with our husband. I pray that You will shine light on anything that could be choking out the pleasures that You intended for this type of relationship and instead show us the ways in which we can protect and flourish our intimacy together. In Jesus name, Amen.

{Marriage} Two is better than one.

Written by: Mandy Hill

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God said, “It’s not good for the Man to be alone; I’ll make him a helper, a companion.” (Genesis 2:18)

My husband knows ‘the real me’ better than anyone else I know. He knows my good, he knows my great, he knows my ugly. And …..he loves me still.

He knows that when situations get tough or overwhelming – I withdraw. This has been especially true over the last several months.. My pregnancy with Grayson, premature delivery, NICU stay, post-partum blues, and the months that have followed with middle-of-the-night feeds and many foggy days. It’s been a lot.

The ‘downs’ have truly been plentiful lately. I have come to realize tonight how trying to deal with my feelings internally is severing the very opportunity for my husband to hold me up; be the companion that my gracious God designed him to be to me.

Of course he wants to be the one who provides companionship, it’s not good for us to be alone. The bible says so!!

My husband was and is dealing with the very similar things (minus the labor & delivery, of course)…..and we are blessed to not have to ‘go it alone’ because we have each other to lean on through it all. “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

I believe The Lord has reminded me tonight just how much strength is found in being unified with each other; most importantly with him. Certainly something I know to be true but easily forget when the storm around me rages and I revert to those tendencies to withdraw.

How do you deal with life’s storms? Do you withdraw, like myself? Do you reach out to your spouse? Let’s truly seek comfort in each other and embrace the peace that God wants to bring to calm your storm. Let’s endeavour to journey through life as a triple-braided cord, not a single thread; for we know a triple braided cord is not easily broken.

Jesus, thank You for my husband and his desire to reach out during life’s storms. Continue to show me, Lord, just how valuable it is to have his hand to hold me up. How blessed I am to be a member of a triple-braided cord. I pray for my sisters who are trying to wage their storms alone- remind them that they can find strength and power in being unified, and that it does not make them weak to face life’s troubles together. I pray for a constant reminder of this, for my sisters and for myself. I know that when life gets overwhelming the enemy tries really hard to make us forget this truth. Bless our marriages this very moment. In your precious name, Amen.

{Marriage} Words Matter.

By: Mandy Hill

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. Ephesians 4:29

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The more comfortable you become with someone, the easier it is to hurt them with your words. Weighing your words before you speak them is more important than we often realize.

Marriage is one of the most intimate relationships that you can have. As such, in our comfort perhaps we speak without thought, insensitively, more obtuse. Weighing our words before we speak them to our spouse doesn’t mean we need to be artificial or dishonest. Instead, by weighing our words, we are simply guarding the heart of the one that God has chosen for us to love more intimately than anyone else in our lives here on earth.

How do you weigh words?!

Here are a few questions to ask yourself that will help you weigh your words before you speak them:

1) Are you angry?
Oftentimes with closeness, we can very quickly play on each other’s nerves. Has something your spouse said or done made you angry? Don’t speak while you’re angry. Don’t let any corrupt talk leave your lips. Do what you need to do to calm down, then wisely choose the words you will speak; and speak them in love.

2) Are your words going to build your spouse up or encourage them?
There are far too many outside sources that will tear your spouse down and/or discourage them. Show your spouse you value your relational position and choose to speak life over them whenever you have an opportunity.

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3) Are you listening?
Sometimes we just need to be a safe place. Sometimes the wisest words we can speak are the words we don’t speak at all. Sometimes, what we simply need to do is nod our head and offer grace. For some, this is easy. For others this takes intentional effort. Either way, listening is just as important as speaking.

Life is too short to dwell on words spoken harshly or without thought. Learn the art of speaking (and listening) in love, so that you don’t find yourself in a place of regret.

Jesus, thank You so much for the wisdom found in Your word. I pray that we can learn the art of speaking and listening in love, encouraging, and building up our spouse. Please help us to learn to speak wisely, always remembering just how much words truly matter. In Your name, amen.

{Marriage} No more tit-for-tat stuff.

By: Mandy Hill

To you who are ready for the truth, I say this: Love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer for that person. If someone slaps you in the face, stand there and take it. If someone grabs your shirt, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. If someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously.” (Luke 6:27-30)

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I was dreaming this morning of snow….I love snow at Christmastime and I am kinda sad that it’s still so green out there. Dreaming of snow reminded me of a surprise snowstorm we had last year! It started Saturday night, and the snow fell all through the night! When I woke up on Sunday morning to have my time with Jesus…..I noticed the plow was just coming around our cul-de-sac!

It was early….but it was also Sunday. Sunday mornings are already a very busy time at our house, but add shovelling the driveway in on top of that….and you’ve got yourself an extra full morning.

I woke my hubby and asked him to come and shovel the driveway with me! I figured we could shovel it together in no time at all! His response was quick and seemingly without thought or care: “No!, I have to go to church early because I am speaking this morning. I will just plow the car through the snow.”

I could see from the window that the snow was over a foot deep in the shallowest parts…I knew that it needed to be shovelled before anyone went anywhere. After trying to explain this to my husband and getting nowhere, I decided that if he wasn’t going to help me, I’d just have to do it myself.

I went downstairs and pulled on my coat of pity, threw my scarf of bitterness around my neck, and pulled on a hat of anger and resentment. As I walked outside, I realized the job was even bigger than I had perceived from the window. As I began to shovel and lift the snow, my mind taunted me with a million reasons reasons as to why I should be angry with my husband.

With every reason I could come up with, the Lord convicted me to respond with the energies of prayer for my husband and to turn this hard work into a gift; rather than think of it as a chore.

Oh sisters, it wasn’t easy for me! My flesh so badly wanted to make that list of reasons to be angry. My flesh grasped for any excuse to make being angry an appropriate response. But, the Lord was speaking into my heart, pointing me to the path of righteousness.

I had a choice to make. Certainly it would be easier to fall in line with my flesh and choose anger and resentment. But, the Lord uses these very moments to grow us; to make us more like Him. It may be more difficult and unnatural to do the right thing….but it’s what we are being asked to do.

Have you ever found yourself in a situation like mine? How did you react?

Lord Jesus, thank You for the blessed gift of marriage. Thank You for the gentle way in which You convict our spirits; for Your gentle guidance in how to be more like You. Thank You for not giving up on me no matter how many times I make the wrong choice, for forgiving me when I do, and for giving me lots of opportunities to make the right ones. Thank You for the promise that You will never stop investing Your love in me. Please to make the path of righteousness a clear one. I pray that You’ll do the same for my sisters. In Jesus name, amen.

{Marriage} Move over, Mrs Jones.

By: Mandy Hill

For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; (1 Timothy 4:4)

When my husband Nathan and I got married I truly believed that if I kept our home clean, cooked him delicious home-cooked meals every night and kept his dress shirts pressed, that those tasks would make me a good wife. While cleaning was never an issue, I truly struggled with the cooking. I burned e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g; even water. Haha. My good intentions often ended with a blackened pot and a billow of smoke. Failure to be good at these expectations of myself, really did a work on my self-confidence.

You see, this failure to meet my own expectations had me doubting I was a good enough wife for Nathan. I grew up with a mom that made cooking delicious meals look SO easy, she served my father very well; and here I was completely insufficient to serve my husband in the same way. There was a period of time in our marriage that was pretty rough because I doubted my ability to be good enough for Nathan and feared he would leave as a result of my insufficiencies.

Over the years I have learned two very powerful truths:
1) Comparing my abilities and/or inabilities to others is not healthy. The only thing I gain from doing this is more insecurities.
2) My worth is not measured by my husband, it is measured by my Heavenly Father. I could do all the dishes on the planet, iron every fibre of linen that was ever spun into existence and cook the most beautifully extravagant meals….but if I do not live a life devoted to loving like Christ first loved me, I have nothing.

So….it is no longer what tasks I can master that makes me good enough for my husband; it’s my willingness to love him like Jesus. And, because of Jesus and His love for me, I am good enough.

Sister, YOU are good enough. Don’t waste hours of precious time to pour out love on your spouse by trying to keep up with “Mrs. Jones!” Just love like Jesus loves. Sacrificially, genuinely, passionately, wholeheartedly, and unconditionally.

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Jesus, thank You. Thank You for loving us first with the most incredibly radical love that has ever been shown. Thank You that we don’t have to be awesome at cleaning, cooking and ironing in order to be a ‘good’ wife. Thank You that Your word reminds us that it was You who created us, and everything You have created is good. Jesus, I pray for my sisters who are struggling in their marriages right now, not because of a marriage gone bad; but because they do not feel they measure up to other wives. Please flood their hearts with the truth that You have made them fearfully and wonderfully. YOU have created them; and that alone makes them good enough. Please bring peace to their minds and calmness to their spirits this very moment, in Jesus name. Amen.

{Marriage} Balance.

By: Mandy Hill

“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Earlier today my husband asked if I would give him a hand cleaning our garage. After a weekend of birthday party celebrations, silly string wars, a grocery shopping trip, and of course the Christmas decorating……it is needing some real attention.

We made a plan that after dinner, baths, and a game with the kids, we would head out and get the job done. However, the sum total of the work I put into my day, and all those things I mentioned above left me feeling too weary to complete the task.

“I’m sorry, I just can’t do it tonight” I said, pleading with my husband to understand.

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As I rattled off exactly what I did today in an attempt to justify my weariness, I actually surprised myself. While I accomplished many things, my list of accomplishments did not include: a shower, a change of clothes, or even brushed teeth (ick)……and here it was already 7:45pm.

My job as a Mommy is exactly where I want to be; exactly where I am called. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in being a Mommy that I forget what it means to be a woman, wife and friend.

Can you relate, friend?

I take my role as Ben, Sophia, Spencer & Grayson’s Mommy very seriously. I also take my role as Nathan’s wife seriously, but sadly it oftentimes takes a back burner to my role as Mommy. I believe it’s so important to keep both roles properly balanced.

“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

By allowing ourselves to step out of our Mommy-roles for a few hours a week, we are blessing both ourselves and our children with some breathing space and time to be refreshed. Everyone operates better when they are refreshed. Whether you take a walk after dinner and your hubby can play with the kids, or you have a relative/friend watch the kids for a few hours so you and your hubby can have a little date- allow yourself that important time.

Your role as Mommy will be waiting at the door when you return; I guarantee it.

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Jesus, Thank You for reminding me to keep balance in my roles. I pray for wisdom in making wise choices with my time; always following the pathway of your will. In Jesus name, amen.

{Marriage} The joyful pastor’s wife.

By: Sarah Oates-Walker

When I became engaged to my now-husband, he was serving as the lead pastor of a church. I prayed to God, asking Him, “What am I possibly going to bring into this ministry?” My husband is gifted in so many areas: he is an incredible teacher, he has a talent for leading others into worship, he is excellent at communicating with others, he has a prophetic gifting, he is incredibly wise, and in my opinion, is a truly wonderful pastor!

As a newer Christian at the time, with seemly no gifting, I felt inadequate to step into the “pastor’s wife” role.

In that moment, as I prayed, I felt like God said to me, “If you were to do nothing else for me, give up your husband in pure joy!”

In the beginning, I thought, “That’s pretty easy!” At that time, our church congregation was small, very loving, and wonderfully supportive.

As we continued on in ministry, I had the pleasure of meeting many different pastor’s wives. So many of them were beautiful inside and out, with God’s love and grace shining through their very presence. Everything in me admires them and longs to be like them!

Then, there were a handful that I met who were bitter, angry and resentful – down on ministry, distrustful of church people, and resentful of the Church.

It has become my goal to never be that pastor’s wife!

As the seasons changed, and as we stepped into new ministry positions, I started to understand those bitter and angry pastor’s wives. Sometimes it can be hard to love the Church when you feel like you are continually giving up your husband with little tangible reward or appreciation.

Like many, my husband works all through the week from 9-5, but then also many nights, weekends and holidays. We have set boundaries as to how much he will be out of the house each week, but unexpected crises do arise. When they do, his normal 2-3 nights out a week can easily become 5-6 nights away from our family. He has missed several holidays (even a thanksgiving), our son’s first birthday party, he has even dropped off his super-pregnant wife and infant daughter at our vacation rental to then drive an additional 5 hours in order to deal with a pastoral crisis that could not wait, as they sometimes cannot. Every time, we decide together that these decisions are the right choices to make for the sake of caring for our flock, but it doesn’t always mean that I feel joyful about them.

In one season of ministry, I was challenged to be my husband’s sole encourager, when all was hearing from people was criticism and complaints. On Sunday mornings, I would hear wonderful genuine compliments about the job he was doing. I would encourage them to tell him, to encourage him, but very few ever took the time to let him know. It wasn’t until our last Sunday at this particular church that everyone came forward with something wonderful to say. My husband told me afterwards that he had heard more encouragements on that one Sunday morning than during the entire 5 years we had been there, by far!

There are times it can be very hard to be a joyful pastor’s wife. This is when God’s words became so real to me” “If you were to do nothing else for me, give up your husband in pure joy!” There are times when it is easy to give up my husband in pure joy, and other times that it is not! Sometimes, in the moment, it would be really easy to remain angry, hurt and annoyed.

However, in the hard times, I have to choose joy, and when I choose joy, it becomes easier to love the criticizers and complainers, it is easier to release my husband to take care of others who are going through difficult times, it is easier to take my eyes off myself and onto the congregation God has entrusted to us.

Not only does choosing joy affect me, but it also gives my husband the freedom to love and care for his church – he does not have to feel divided.

Ministry challenges will be different for each of us, but choosing joy is always good for the heart!