{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.

{Ministry Mom} When the Journey is Long and Wearisome.

Written by: Mandy Hill

My husband and I have been chatting often about our summer vacation. There are six of us now and while we do own a larger vehicle, our minds become unsettled and anxious about the long and wearisome journey of travel that lies before us.

We have travelled the roads to our hometown many times before. Parts of this twenty-four hour road trip are absolutely beautiful, some parts are even really exciting as we are able to show certain landmarks to our kids for the first time, while others parts just feel long and mundane.

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A few years ago we decided that rather than travel to our hometowns in two days, we would stretch it out over three days instead. At the time we only had three children, ages three, two and three months. Our three year old was motion sick multiple times along the way, our two year old never ever stopped talking and it wasn’t long before the two of us adults were whining and griping about our travel misfortunes. Our three month old was the best behaved of us all! The journey felt like it took an eternity and we have been nervous to embark on such a torturous trek ever since.

As I was thinking about these things recently The Lord spoke to my heart. There are oftentimes that God sets us on a journey in life. There may be parts of the journey that are incredibly captivating and beautiful. Other parts of the journey may stick out because of an exciting first or while experiencing something fresh and new. Still other times we may feel weary and worn down because the journey has felt like it’s lasted too long, you feel far from where you were in the beginning, and further yet from your destination.

God spoke to my spirit and gently reminded me of the importance of ‘the journey’. No matter how long, we must travel the entire journey to reach the other side. If we stall the journey or stop in the middle we are only delaying our reaching our destination. I also felt God show me the importance in embracing each moment of the journey; to take each new step with eyes-wide-open in order to see everything He would have me to see. There may be parts of the journey that become wearisome and mundane; however, my experiences have taught me that God has never stopped working. He is always faithful, always growing and shaping me even when it doesn’t feel like it. (Sometimes even in ways I’m not a fan of.)

Is there a journey that you are on, friend, or one that lies ahead of you that causes you to feel anxious and weary? Rather than worry about the unknowns can I encourage you to instead embrace every moment with eyes-wide-open. In every thing, with every step; strive to see God. Find the joy in every twist and see His faithfulness in every turn. I can’t promise your journey will be easy, I can’t even promise your journey will end the way you hope; but I do promise you WILL reach the other side because God will be with you.

Father God, thank You for always being with us wherever we are. No matter what roads or journeys we face, we can rest in the assurance that You will most certainly be present for every moment. Please open our eyes to see what You would have us see along the way. In Your name, Jesus, Amen.

{Faith} …..just slightly more aware.

By: Mandy Hill

I recently heard the Francesca Battesteli song called “Heaven Everywhere” and fell in love with the lyrics. The song begins like this:

I hear the bells, they’re ringing loud and clear
You can’t help but love this time of year
It’s Christmastime, there’s something in the air
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere
Somehow there’s a little more of love
And maybe there’s a little less of us
Or maybe we’re just slightly more aware
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere

I love love love the line: “Somehow there’s a little more of love, and maybe there’s a little less of us….or maybe were just slightly more aware.

It’s true, isn’t it friends? The Lord requires us to love every day of the year…but the season of Christmas makes us just slightly more aware that there needs to be a little less of us.

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A sweet friend of mine recently asked me how I was doing. It wasn’t a prying question…her genuineness shone through her eyes and immediately proved her ears were a safe place to share exactly how I was feeling. I shared how things were SO busy lately (which isn’t a complaint, I love the busyness of the season), but I was just feeling overwhelmingly behind in some of the everyday tasks. I joked about my Mount Everest laundry piles and explained that it would take a billion years to chip away at them because our dryer was slowly dying on us. A small load is taking up to 110 minutes to dry. Yikes! ‘Let me help you!’ She said. ‘No, seriously, let me help you.’

The evening went along and after I returned home and was getting ready for bed, my sweet friend sent me a text. She wrote ‘I was serious about helping you with your laundry. Could I do your kids’ clothes? Gather them together and I will pick them up on Thursday and drop them off to you on Friday!’ I felt The Lord nudge me; ‘Let her help you.’

After trying to ration out a reason to say no, I decided to accept her generous offer to do my five heaping baskets of my kids clothes. (Four kids make SO much laundry!!!) The story doesn’t stop there.

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My doorbell rang on Thursday afternoon and when I opened the door my friend cheerfully greeted me by saying “Merry Christmas” and handed over two Starbucks drinks that she picked up for my hubby and I on her way home from work! If that wasn’t enough to bless our socks off, when she returned our laundry washed, dried and folded….tucked inside one of the baskets was a container with some of her homemade Christmas treats!

Those people in whom we do life with need more grace, more selflessness, and more love. The second chorus of this beautiful song goes like this:

It’s the grace that we show to a world that needs hope
It’s giving our lives knowing they’re not our own
It’s the joy that we feel and the love that we share
There’s a little bit of heaven everywhere

So, friend, let’s really focus on bringing hope, joy, and love to those around us this Christmas time; while we are just slightly more aware. Then, even after the season ends, continue to show extra grace, selflessness and love to everyone. Jesus was the ultimate example of this character!

Is there someone you know that could use some blessing? Do they have a specific need that you could meet? I encourage you, friends! Reach out, give generously, love unconditionally and extend extra grace; while we are all just slightly more aware.

Father God, You are SO good. Thank You for our many, many blessings. Thank You for friends that care genuinely and deeply. I pray Jesus, that You will help us to be ever aware of the ways in which we can help others- not just at Christmastime- but the whole year through. In Jesus name, Amen.

{Ministry Mom} Living with Purpose.

By: Mandy Hill

Don’t you see that children are God ‘s best gift? the fruit of the womb his generous legacy? Like a warrior’s fistful of arrows are the children of a vigorous youth. Oh, how blessed are you parents, with your quivers full of children! (Psalm 127:3-4)

Family requires intentional effort.

Work schedules, school schedules, marriage, ministry, and just life in general can sometimes cloud our eyes from seeing the need to pour into these little lives we have been so beautifully blessed with.

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A few years ago now, husband and I sat down one cold day in January and really examined our priorities?! There were four things that needed special attention and we put our best efforts into prioritizing them well….our marriage, our family, our ministry and our finances were the things at the very top and we decided we needed to be more intentional about giving attention to them consistently. From these discussions birthed our “Family Fridays!”

Family Fridays started out at a local McDonalds play place. Every Friday night after my husband got off work we would head into the city and the kids would get a happy meal, play time on the jungle gym and the beloved McDonalds toy! More than that, they got their Mommy and Daddy’s undivided attention. This time was THEIR time. We have since, broadened our activities but the point is this time was devoted to THEM. I believe that it has been one of our best decisions as their parents.

I believe that our children are beautiful treasures from God himself. My husband and I want our children to know that they are worth so much more than co-existing in life with the same last name and blood type as us! They are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Almighty God and we are so excited for them to learn this. {For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:13-14)} We want them to know this not just because we have told them so; but because we have shown them so. Worth our time. Worth our efforts. Created BY God, for a great purpose.

How better to show them this than to give them our undivided attention and time on a consistent basis?

Father God, thank You so much for blessing us with our four beautiful treasures. I pray that You will help us to show them how much You love and value them by exemplifying a love like Yours. Please help us as we endeavour to raise our children in the way they should go; Your way. I pray for my sisters and their families….I know that life is crazy busy and that scheduling a whole day or evening where everyone’s schedules match can be difficult, but I also know it’s so important and worth it!! Help us to truly treasure our families in ways that honour You and bring You glory! I pray this in Your name, Amen.

{Marriage} Complaining about my ….blessings?!

By: Mandy Hill

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

It’s 6:42 am. Our oldest bursts from his room, finding his way to ours. He quickly finds his way to my husbands side of the bed and just as quickly blurts out that he accidentally peed the bed. Scratch that; he soaked the bed.

It’s 7:04 am. My husband crawls back into bed after assisting our boy in finding dry clothes, changing his wet sheets, and settling him back into bed. We no sooner close our eyes when we hear the familiar squeak of our daughters doorknob opening, followed by the soft pitter-patter of her girly toes finding her way to Mommy’s side of the bed. Whispering loudly she leans in close to my ear; “Mommy, is it time to wake up yet?!”

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All hope of sleeping in is lost as our oldest bursts back into our room upon hearing his sisters tender voice. In the background we hear our little man stir and joyfully call out “Mommy, Daddy, BEEEEENNNNNN!!”

I was about to grumble, ‘I’m so sleepy….why do they always do this on a Saturday?!’, but before I could, my hubby gently folds his arm around my head and says “Good morning!” We chuckle, and I am reminded of the many times I longed to be woken up by the sounds of my family; rather than the sounds of hospital machinery. Many mornings I have woken up next to a crib or a bed in a hospital wishing for the comfort and safety of my own home. Yet, here I was, moments away from complaining about my …..my blessings.

My husbands words were simple and yet they spoke volumes to my heart. His tone was supportive and sounded that of an ally. His ability to lighten the mood by causing us to chuckle turned my grumbling attitude into a moment of praise and thankfulness. Not only was I thankful for our health and ability to be home, together; but I was also thankful for being blessed with such a great guy!

I am guilty of complaining about my blessings more often than I’d like to admit. Do you do this, sister? Let’s pray for each other and try to be more thankful, giving praise, in times when we are more apt to complain. Its impossible to complain and give praise out of your mouth at the same time; let’s make a habit of being quick to praise.

Heavenly Father, thank You so much for my husband! He is truly a gift and I am so thankful You brought him into my life! Thank You for the blessings I have in my family, as well as in the simple, every day blessings that sometimes we take for granted. I pray that You will remind my sisters and I often, to be quick to praise. In Your name I pray, amen.

{Ministry Mom} Wait Hate.

By: Mandy Hill

“Wait for The Lord; be strong and take heart and WAIT for The Lord!” Psalm 27:14

I start getting jittery when my kids dilly dally at the door when it’s time to leave for school in the morning, or when I’m doing research online and the Internet is slow, or when I ask my hubby to take out the garbage and its not done an hour later, or when I know a box from home has been sent in the mail and I know I have to wait a week to peek inside, or even when I have prayed for something and don’t hear an instant answer. I struggle with having patience….they don’t come easy for me!

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In our hurry-up, need it, gotta-have-it-now culture, it’s so easy to think we should not have to wait. That way of thinking comes naturally as we are bombarded with short-cuts in all aspects of our every day life. Just take a moment and ponder our reality: in just a few moments I will click “publish” and thousands of you out there will instantly be free to read this post, in seconds we can know the weather anywhere around the globe because of Internet technology, by the click of a button we can pre-warm our vehicles while we scurry around the house getting ready for work, we can move dinner from the freezer to the table in 5 minutes thanks to microwaves, we can even eliminate a trip to the mall and shop from almost anywhere online! No wonder waiting is hard!!!

If we allow it, our waiting will bring us to an intimate knowledge of God, one that we would not have if ‘the wait’ was eliminated. Have you ever heard yourself asking “Why did God allow this to happen to me?!”

God does not ignore the cries of his children. King David cried out, begged and pleaded with God for help, intervention and defence throughout the psalms. God never let him down.

Our waiting has purpose.

What a great example King David’s life is for ‘waiting.’ Waiting is more comforting and less difficult when we allow God in to do his work during the waiting season. When we are more open to see how faithful He is to bring His plans for our lives into fullness, our children will too see this and treasure God’s faithfulness.

I love the saying “If he will bring you to it, he will bring you through it.” I’ve seen very real examples of that in my ministry as well as many times throughout my own life. How faithful and true our God is!!!

God, Please help me with ‘the wait.’ Please remind me that there is divine purpose for this period of time that my flesh so wants to resist. I want to wait well. I want to be patient as You bring Your plans for my life into fullness. I can’t do this life without You. In Your name, Amen.

{Parenting} Fruits of the Spirit.

By: Sarah Oates-Walker

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

My husband is a pastor and I have heard him say several times,“You can always tell how much time someone is spending with Jesus, you just have to look at the fruit in their life!” Are they increasingly loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and showing self-control? Are these qualities present in their lives, not just on their good days, but are they existent during hard times or conflict?

Some days I take a step back and think, “I am doing pretty good with my “fruit” these days!” But the real test is when I am at home with my children. Having kids helps you take a second look at your fruits of the Spirit! They can help you by being a daily reminder in what areas you are lacking. When there is constant fighting, never-ending whining, sleepless nights and a variety of endless demands, it can be so easy to become irritated and quickly lose some of those much-needed fruits.

I had felt like God was placing this topic on my heart this week. As I sat down to write, my two little ones climbed into my chair and began with a never-ending series of requests:

“Mommy, play with me!

Mommy, I’m cold!

Mommy, I dropped my toy!

Mommy, I’m hungry again!

Mommy, I more to drink!

Mommy, Mommy, MOMMY………….!!!!!”

Sadly, it did not take long for me to use my stern “mom voice” and say, “Knock it off! I have told you several times already, and I WILL NOT TELL YOU AGAIN! I will help you and play with you in just a few minutes!” This caused my three-year-old to burst into tears. How convenient that, just as I began to write on this topic, I was instantly reminded this morning that I am sometimes lacking in patience, kindness and gentleness! Yikes!

We are not always at our best, especially with those we are most comfortable with – the people we love the most. They see us at our worst and at our best. It is in those moments that I realize how much I need Jesus in my life and that I cannot make it without him!

My children are watching me every day and taking note of my behaviour. They often imitate me perfectly, through their actions, words and tone of voice! Sometimes, it is cute to watch – other times, it is shockingly revealing.

It is my prayer and my hope that more and more they will see me at my best, shining with God’s love and grace. Overflowing with the fruits of the Spirit. Inspiring them to live their own Jesus-centered life.

{BACK TO SCHOOL SERIES} Starting a new…again.

Written by: Emma Skeete

If anyone ever wanted to find out how to start a music studio, I can tell them! I started in my parent’s living room, building my student base from connections in my mom’s piano studio. Then I got married, moved across the bridge to a different town, and started a studio and received a number of student’s referred to me by an area teacher who had too many students to cover the requests. Then I moved again and had to establish a new studio in a new neighborhood. I carried over some of my students, but in the process of moving I have lost some students who couldn’t make the drive etc…This time I actually took more than a year off having had a mat leave, where 2 other teachers filled in for me.

So when I was asked “How do you prepare for a new year?” oddly enough, I was really quite stumped as to how to answer.

I am busier than I have ever been, coming back to 8 classes this coming week, and I’m a stay-at-home-mom with 2 children between the ages of 1 & 3. However, I realize I am not alone. There are many moms & dads out there facing very similar situations as me, and I dare say all our parents felt the same way when they had little ones.

How do I prepare for a new year? Well, I assisted with and participated in a conference last weekend. Over the summer I undertook changing my entire studio which is still not complete. This past week, I somehow managed to loose my iPhone, the busiest week teaching-wise without actually teaching because I’m organizing the students who have already registered along with registering new ones.

I have had dreams of meal plans, participating in mom-tot groups, library programs this fall and so on it goes…Thoughts swirling in all directions….

How have I prepared for a new year? This week, I reached out to my Heavenly Father and asked Him for peace. I have been reading Ephesians this week and the following phrases stood out to me in Ephesians 3: “12 Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.”

16 I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.

So I am depending on the Holy Spirit to give me all the strength I need and the peace I need to be rested enough to face the week ahead. This my first week teaching a full load in well over a year.

What else have I done to prepare? Yesterday was one of the most beautiful days we had this summer. Rather than try to placate my children and keep them busy so I could “get everything done” we hopped on the ferry and went across the harbor to enjoy the playground. In the process of yesterday unfolding and running an errand – my car broke. So I called my husband and his friend to rescue me, while I took the kids walked down the street and took my 3 year old potty. All the while choosing to enjoy the day. I know these days of my boys being young will flash before my face and despite the insanity I feel I am facing right now (by the way I had a demo even with a friend today doing a sound play for kids, so I could promote my classes) I WILL enjoy my children. Yes its been busy, but God is still good, He is sovereign and I’m going to not only get through this coming week, but by His grace I am going to do it victoriously!

This morning my mom called and I admitted to her how defeated I already felt. She told me I could do it. Thereby getting just the encouragement I needed to keep going.

I almost did not write this blog, however, I didn’t want to leave a friend stuck. So, I’m trying to honor my commitments, and allow God to be my ‘more than enough’.

I have a worship time to lead tomorrow, so now I will go prepare for that. Yes its busy, but I do not mind that as long as the busyness only comes in seasons.

So, my encouragement to you? Come boldly and confidently into God’s presence, and I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit.

Eternal Blessings,
Emma

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Emma Skeete is married to the love of her life Isaac. They have received two heavenly blessings – Malachi 3 and Nehemiah 1. The Skeete’s live in Dartmouth NS where they host a house church called B.A.S.I.C. Their daily prayer is that as they walk this temporal life they will have an eternal impact on everyone they meet and glorify God in ALL they say and do.

{Ministry Mom} What goes in, must come out.

By: Mandy Hill

“It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom.” (James 3:13-14)

Have you ever really listened to your own voice? The way you speak to your spouse, your kids, your family, your friends? Have you ever heard the way you react to the behaviours or actions of your children that you disapprove of?

How does your voice sound? Are you kind, gentle, forgiving? Or are you rude, harsh and mean?

I had a moment recently where I heard myself…clear as day…..my words; straight from my daughters mouth. My heart was convicted as the words she had spoken to her brother caused him pain; evidenced by the tears he had in his eyes. His intentions were pure and to help. Her reaction to his efforts to bring her joy, had brought him pain.

The verse from James 3 that says “it’s the way you live, not the way you talk that counts.” In those moments as I watched the interaction between my two oldest children, it became so very clear to me that it doesn’t matter how many rules or guidelines that my husband and I give our kids….the ones that will truly be heard are the ones that we genuinely model ourselves.

How we react to each other as husband and wife, how we react to their poor behaviours; they see it all and they take it all in. What goes into their souls WILL come out.

Based on what comes out of your mouth and how you act in the presence of your children; how are you raising them?

When your kids are feeling frustrated, have they learned it’s ok to come completely unglued?! Do they lash out under stress? Sulk when they don’t have it all? When they are facing conflict with a friend, do they seek resolution or revenge?

Not easy questions to ask yourself…..but I believe it’s so important to ask them anyway. If we are not careful with what we are putting into our kids souls by ways of which we are acting; we should certainly not be surprised by what comes out.

Father God, I pray with urgency for a heart that is likened to Your. I pray for patience, perseverance, good character and a hope that I may pass onto my children. God stir within my soul a passion to live a life that strives to be more and more like You. I pray for Ben, Sophie and Spencer….please give Nathan and I the wisdom we need daily to raise these amazing little lives to know You and serve You. I pray for my sisters, please guide them and direct them as well as they endeavour to raise their precious, gifts to be followers of You. I pray for a special anointing on each family that will read this post today. In Your name I ask, Amen.

{Ministry Mom} Are they ready??

By: Mandy Hill

Do everything without grumbling or complaining, so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world (Philippians 2:14-15)

Are they ready?! Your children that is….

It’s back to school time and I had SO much fun looking at the many pictures of my friends children who started classes this week. My little first grader started this week and my senior kindergartener will start on Monday, because the K’s are held back one week here.

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The question that I am sure has flitted in and out of many mama’s minds the past couple of days hasn’t been far from mine either: “Are they ready???”

Now, this question when asked by our culture today could translate into the following: Do they have their backpack? Their books? Some new fall clothes? Inside shoes?

I was challenged when I read Philippians 2:14-15 today. Not only challenged personally but as a Mama as well. Sisters, we live in a crooked and perverse society, that is true; nevertheless, we are different. We have the Lord in our hearts, which makes us His lights of the world. It’s our responsibility to let that light shine.

We are His representation.

Do you do everything without arguing and complaining like this verse indicates? I believe that as a parent we have an even more complex job to do. Not only is the WORLD looking to us, expecting us to be different, but we also have these incredible little people watching us as they learn to navigate through this thing called life. These little people whom we adore, and the Lord Himself has entrusted to our care.

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Are we preparing them to shine brightly as they head off to school?! Are they ready to be “a city on a hill” (Matthew 5:14)!? Are we pleasing the Lord with OUR actions and reactions? Are we passionately pursuing a life after Christ that our children can replicate while at school, bringing glory to our great God?

Can I urge you that there is no time better than this very moment to start shining brightly, allowing God to be seen in us as people are looking on. In doing so not only will people see glimpses of God in your life personally, but I believe that in leading-by-example others will begin to see glimpses of God in our children’s lives as well. Let us endeavour to be bright cities on a hill.

Are they ready?! Are YOU ready?!

Heavenly and gracious father, thank You for the incredible blessing our children have brought into our lives. We count it as an honour and a privilege to be Your light; Your city on a hill. I pray Father that as we go about our every day that we will be especially conscious of the little eyes and ears that look to us. I pray that we will represent You well and that we will shine brightly. Amen.