Church Chat

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If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know we are all about encouraging pastors.  But you may be thinking, “Sure, but that’s just you.  That’s just your job.”  So today we want to share ACTUAL words from REAL people about their pastors, and you.  Without further ado, here are your people, speaking to you:

Pastor, remember that time the matriarch of our family died and everyone flipped out & turned on each other? We had a family meeting with wailing & gnashing of teeth…sackcloth, ashes & a pretty sweet rendition of Stairway to Heaven in the background. Well, because of the beautiful things said about her and the godly wisdom you gave us, we were all able to get through what was undoubtedly one of the hardest times in our lives. Your presence & words would not have been as effective if you didn’t know us all on a personal level. And that didn’t happen because we went to your church. You knew us because you’re an amazing shepherd.

The most amazing pastor I ever had was ___________. Joy, gentleness, loving are just a few of the words I would use to describe him. And such a wonderful gift for teaching with incredible clarity. I miss him greatly.

I can say without pause that my pastors operate in unconditional love and humility before our Lord and Savior. They are men and so therefore like all human kind miss it now and then …. But oh they are true shepherds and they love and protect their sheep, Love, acceptance and forgiveness is what our church was founded on…..I think they both have strived to do it well!

And a special shot out to Pastor… We have walked life out together… He has genuinely been there for me at every twist and turn in my life since my twenties! He prayed me through, loved me through some hard places, some grievous times! God bless the man who stands in the gap and loves Gods people!

Ron Dunn said ” Don’t just stand there- Pray something”

Your calling is so important. Please protect that by making time to renew yourself. The adage “you cannot give what you do not have…” is very true. You must take care of yourself as fill your vessel to give to each in the measure they need or require. Also, do things outside of church that energize you. That energy will be needed.

I am blessed to call him my pastor and my friend. He is an incredible man of God and it’s a pleasure to do life with him.

Self-care isn’t selfish

Spend time with your family! If you’re not caring for them, you can’t care for anyone else. (From a PK)

Vacations are a good thing. Schedule time away or you’ll burn out. Maybe not today, and maybe not tomorrow, but inevitably it will come.

What you do matters…eternally!

Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take. (Proverbs 3:5, 6 NLT)

Thank you. Thank you for your service and for the gift of yourself. Please take time to care for yourself and your family. Please take time to nurture your marriage. Please do not feel compelled to say YES to every demand and request. I appreciate you and don’t want to lose you.

For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Hebrews 6:10-12

What would you like to say to your pastor or to pastors in general?  Share it with us!

100 Tips for Leaders in the Church (pt 3)

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This week’s Tuesday Tips is part three of the four part series. 100 Tips for Leaders in the Church (continued)

51. Do not criticize other preachers from the pulpit. Satan loves it when we do this, but I suspect Christ is dishonored by it.

52. Never preach someone else’s sermon. Plagiarism is plagiarism, no matter where it’s found or who does it. (And yes, you may borrow a point here and there or a story or a great insight from the text. Should you give credit to the source of the story or point? No. But be prepared in case someone asks where you got it. I once heard Adrian Rogers say, “I got this from someone who got it from someone who got it from the Lord.”)

53. If someone else’s sermon so impresses you that you just “have” to preach it (or large portions of it), do not do so until, through prayer and study and waiting on Him, the Lord makes it your own.

54. Leave politics out of the pulpit. You have bigger fish to fry.

55. If an election is coming up and you wish to invite the candidates to church, make sure your lay leadership agrees. Invite all those running for office, no matter their stance, and recognize them individually in the service, but without giving them an opportunity to speak. Have a fellowship time afterward where each one is allowed to put materials on a table and greet your people. (In the invitation, specify that this will be the procedure. Otherwise, some will arrive expecting to be allowed to address the congregation.) Sunday nights are best for this. If you preach a sermon, Jeremiah 29:7 is a great text to use.

56. Before you recommend a movie to your people, be sure you have seen it and be confident there is no objectionable content. Otherwise, don’t.

57. Before you condemn a movie or a book publicly, see it (read it) beforehand and know what you are talking about. If that’s not possible, spell out in your presentation where you came by your information. Do not put yourself in a position where someone asks, “So, pastor, have you actually read this book you are denouncing?” and you have to admit you have not.

58. Attire. Pay attention to your clothing. I suggest that the pastor dress one step better than the men in your congregation. That is, if the men are all wearing t-shirts and jeans, my suggestion is to wear a nice shirt fresh from the cleaners with dress slacks or pressed chinos. I’m not sure why, but our attire speaks of the value we place on what we are doing in God’s house. (Do I preach this to my congregation? Probably not. This is not worth the grief you will get from the unknowingly self-righteous who are certain God cares not at all about our clothing and who condemn those who say otherwise.)

59. Invite outstanding preachers and authors to your church. Expose your people to the best. After he or she speaks, have books for sale in the foyer and the author there to sign them.

60. Public prayers should almost always be brief, and therefore well thought out in advance.

61. Resiliency. There is no shame in being fired by a church or run off by a group within the church. The shame comes when you let that discourage you from future ministry. Read Second Corinthians 4:8-10 again and again until you “own” it. Then get up and get back in the game. Your team needs you.

62. If you are terminated—or “encouraged to leave” a church in a way that leaves you angry and bitter—read Luke 6:27-35 repeatedly until you make it your own. Then, to rid yourself of the anger and bear a faithful witness to your detractors, do the actions the Lord commands here: do good, bless, pray and give to them.

63. Encourage pastors who have been terminated. (A pastor recently ousted from his church asked me, “Why don’t other pastors want to help me?” I said, “Tom, when you were pastoring, how many unemployed preachers did you help?” He said, “I didn’t know it was the problem it is.” I said, “They don’t either.”)

64. Problems. Teach your lay leadership (preferably in small group settings) how to deal with problems that arise in church, how to confront a troublemaking member and what to do about a pastor who has gone rogue. (When nothing of that sort is happening in your church is the perfect time to teach this.)

65. Make yours an encouraging church. Train your people to write notes of congratulations and appreciation to people in the news who do good things.

66. Give away Bibles. Put a large box in the foyer and ask your people to bring unused Bibles from home which you can give to those who do not own one. Then, with the aid of some select volunteers, go through and inspect each Bible. Cull those with no backs and fronts, those that have been mutilated and those published by cults. Insert material on the Christian life and your church in the pages, then announce to the community: “This Saturday, free Bibles in front of our church from 2 to 4 p.m.” See what happens.

67. Publicity. In anticipation of a musical program, send some of your singers to a public forum where shoppers congregate to do a short impromptu concert. You’ve seen the “mobs” on Youtube. Do this spontaneously in a store, a mall or on a sidewalk. If the song is not long, too loud or too disruptive, you do not need to ask for permission. Afterward, have the singers fan out and talk to people. See what the Lord does.

68. Vision. Remember that church members who have a burden for a particular segment of society (those in jail, the old folks, the needy, unwed mothers, etc.) must not give you their burden and ask you to act on it. The Holy Spirit grants burdens as a gift to the faithful. When we make ourselves available to Him and take that burden seriously, in His own time, He leads us into a ministry to meet that need. The order looks something like this: A burden comes, followed by a vision, followed by a call, which is followed by a ministry (if you accept the call), which is followed by a several things including fruit, imitation, opposition and duplication.

69. Constantly remind the staff and a few key leaders to be on the alert for disruptions to the Sunday services. Whether an intruder with a gun or an ill person off his medication, leadership should receive periodic training in how to deal with such. (If you train them once and never mention it again, they will forget it. Keep it before them.)

70. Money. Never sign checks for the church. Never. And for that matter, do not handle money at all. When someone approaches you following a service to say, “Here’s my offering. I missed the plate,” ask them to hold on a second, then you call some leader to take charge of their offering.

71. Before you arrive at a new church is a good time to ask the leadership to bring in an auditing firm to review the church’s financial practices and make recommendations. By doing this before you arrive, people who have held key positions for decades (treasurer, bookkeeper, finance chair) will be less likely to take it as a personal insult and become defensive. (If the church has an annual audit, a review is unnecessary. If the church has never had an audit, the initial cost would probably be prohibitive. A review is cheaper, and may accomplish your purposes.)

72. Staff. Try to find the balance between being the boss of the staff and each one’s friend.

73. Never fire someone abruptly. If their work is unsatisfactory, make sure they know in what ways it’s not acceptable, and how they can improve. If they simply cannot do the job you are asking of them, you are doing them a favor by releasing them, painful though it may be.

74. Before doing something abrupt like firing a staff member or church employee, make sure you get sufficient counsel from your mentors and that church leaders are on board with this.

75. Do not reject raises in your salary. While doing so may feel noble to you, it tends to keep the rest of your staff at lower wages, since the church is not going to pay a staffer more than the pastor. Accept the raise, then, if you choose, you can become more generous in your contributions.

100 Tips for Leaders in the Church (pt 2)

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This week’s Tuesday Tips is part two of the four part series. 100 Tips for Leaders in the Church (continued)

26. Attitude. Stay young. Just because you grow older—as you will, if God blesses you with longevity—you don’t have to become rigid and “set” in your ways. Psalm 92 promises that godly people “will still bear fruit in old age; they will be full of sap and very green.”

27. Laugh a lot. Spend time around children and teens. Don’t act like a dignified preacher around them; get down on the floor and play with the little ones. Change into your jeans and sneakers and play volleyball with the teens.

28. On the other hand, do not try to fit in as a teenager (a common mistake of youth ministers). Even if it appears they accept you as one of them, they don’t. You are a pastor and thus an authority figure to them, and that’s how it should be. But you can still love them and have them adore you.

29. Prayer. Work on your prayer life, both private and public. Just as Paul said, “We see through a glass darkly,” he also said, “We do not know how to pray as we should” (Romans 8:26). If he didn’t, it’s a safe bet you and I are poor pray-ers, too. Give attention to your praying.

30. Take care of your health. Exercise—walking is a better form of exercise than jogging because it frees your mind to think over issues, go over sermons, talk to God—several times a week and eat right. Watch your weight.

31. Porn. Guard against pornography. It comes in all varieties and can pop up anywhere, so stay on the alert. Just because one does not go to the illicit websites does not mean we are safeguarding our minds.

32. Be humble. You may need to work at this. Do not call yourself “Doctor,” even if you have an earned doctorate. And, do not call yourself “senior pastor” or “lead pastor,” regardless of the size of your church. These titles smack of pride. Pastor is an honorable designation. (If others choose to call you by these or other names, that’s fine. Letting people discover by accident that you have an advanced degree is a compliment to you; wearing it on your sleeve isn’t.)

33. Remembering that “character is what you are in the dark,” we would add that who you are when no one knows you are a preacher is the real you. Who you are in the motel room in a distant city is the real you. How you treat the waitress in Denny’s or how you leave a public restroom, these say worlds about who you are.

34. Preparation. If you are too busy to study for your sermons, you are too busy.

35. From time to time, tell your people: “Pastors are not sent to make the people happy, but to make them holy and healthy and to make the Lord happy.” Ask the secretary to print this in the bulletin at least annually as a reminder.

36. Conflict resolution. When conflicts arise in the church, do not automatically assume you are the one to deal with it. When someone attacks you, your church needs a few mature, godly and sweet members who can visit that person to, a) ask, “What’s going on?” (that is, “Why are you doing this?”), and b) to listen to them. If the complainer has a legitimate gripe, they come back and tell you, and together you all deal with it. If they are out of line, the visiting team asks the murmurer to stop this right now. Leaders of the church must possess both wisdom (knowing what to do) and courage (having the will to do it).

37. It’s no compliment to you when all your “calls” to churches have been unanimous and no slam against you that all the votes have been divided.

38. Family. Beware of putting high expectations and demands on your family just because you are the pastor. Children quickly grow to resent this.

39. Toward the conclusion of your negotiations with a search committee, consider asking: “And how much will my wife’s salary be?” When they answer that “We’re not hiring her,” smile broadly and say, “Right. I just wanted to make sure you knew that!”

40. You will never exhaust the riches of God’s word. When you have read a passage 100 times over 40 years, you will still be making discoveries in it. There is nothing else like this Book. Stay in it.

41. Preparation. Remember that preaching is not a written art, but an oral thing. So, once you have finished your plan for the message, go for a walk and preach it aloud. This will alert you to detours to avoid, rabbit trails to shun, potholes to steer around, and will make you aware of areas where you need to do more work.

42. Never deliver a sermon you have not preached to yourself at least three times. Likewise, when you plan to read a Scripture in the worship service, prepare by reading it aloud numerous times to prepare your tongue for forming these particular sounds, to find phrases you need to emphasize, and so you can do the reading justice.

43. When you are invited to guest preach in other churches, do not reinvent the wheel. This is no time to hammer out a new sermon, but an opportunity to use something you have previously preached. This allows you to improve on it. In time, this may become a favorite sermon you preach in many places.

44. While your sermon-machine is always on (and you will always have a notepad nearby when reading anything), make it a point to read Scripture devotionally—asking the Father to feed your soul—every day. Read for no other purpose than to listen to God.

45. Stewardship. Tithe your income and more through your church.

46. If you are not a faithful tither, you will have a hard time teaching your people about stewardship and taking a stand against materialism and greed. Eventually, if someone finds out you are not tithing—as they will—they will use this against you. Be blameless in all things.

47. Keep in mind that no one ever started tithing when they could afford to do so. Everyone needs just a little more money. As with everything else in the Christian life, you will do this by faith or not at all. But, no matter how painful it is, get started. The first year is the hardest; thereafter, it gets easier. Some day, you will look back with pleasure that in this one area at least, you got it right.

48. Benevolence. Don’t be so hard-nosed toward people who come to your church asking for financial help. Be wise, yes, and be on the alert for con men and scam artists. But never forget that our Lord said, “Give to everyone who asks of you” (Luke 6:30). He did not say we have to give them what they ask for or as much as they want. Try to give them something.

49. If you stop to help a vagrant, it’s perfectly fine to be generous without making the supplicant earn the money by listening to your lecture.

50. Witnessing. Become a personal soul-winner. Learn how to initiate a conversation with a stranger and how to explain briefly the plan of salvation and lead them in the sinner’s prayer. Then, watch for opportunities. (The Holy Spirit will send plenty of occasions to those who are prepared and watching.)

Ten Ways to Bless and Encourage Your Pastor’s Wife

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In honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, we want to spread the love to our pastors’ wives as well.  This post was written by Rachel over at www.holyhenhouse.com.  Drop by a see what other wonderful things she has to say.

 

It’s been three years since my husband began his full time ministry.

From the moment Josh stood in the pulpit on that first hot July Sunday, I’ve been know as “the pastor’s wife” in our little town. In these three short years, I have been learning and growing so much as I serve alongside and support my husband! There have been struggles and hurdles, of course, but joy and blessings overflow.

Our wonderful church family has made my role an easy one by caring for, respecting, and loving me (and my family) so well. I am so thankful for that! I am truly in awe of their kindness and generosity. The heart of Jesus shines so brightly through them. After being inspired by that love, I created a list of ways I have been blessed and encouraged by the people of our church and I wanted to share it with you. Please know that these suggestions are not meant to be self serving. Perhaps they will help you to understand your own pastor’s wife a bit better? And maybe even give you ideas for ways to bless her!

1. Give her grace. Here’s a little secret – she’s not perfect! : ) She is no different than you or anyone else sitting in the pew. She can’t do it all, serve in every way, be at everything, and remember every single thing. She has struggles and hurts and insecurities. And if she’s anything like me, she messes up sometimes and needs forgiveness.

2. Respect their family time. With meetings, visits, teaching, studying and sermon writing, Josh is pulled in many directions and can be working anytime from the hours of 6am to 11pm, seven days a week. His days and evenings are very full so when he is home, he is home. Our family time is a priority to him and he is intentional about scheduling in that time together. There are occasional calls that come in during dinner or in the late evening, but for the most part that time is spent without interruption.

3. Accept and celebrate her for who she is. She doesn’t play the organ or piano? No biggie! She doesn’t lead a ladies Bible class the same way as the previous pastor’s wife? Not a problem! She runs into church at the bells with wet hair and a toddler on her hip who’s cramming crackers in his mouth? Hey, she made it!! That last one certainly never happens me me. ; )

4. Spoil her a bit. It certainly doesn’t have to be often and it doesn’t have to be much – a sweet card in her mailbox, little present, tickets to a local event, gift card for a restaurant or grocery store, or bouquet of flowers are all things that let your pastor’s wife know I’m thinking of you and appreciate you. I guarantee she will be oh so thankful and that you will make.her.day.

5. Don’t involve her in church gossip. Not only is it wrong and yucky to spread rumors and such, it’s also extremely uncomfortable and discouraging for the pastor’s wife to be put in a situation when one member is talking badly about another member. I’ve only experienced this a tiny handful of times and I pray I’ve handled it in a God-pleasing way.

6. Invite her along. Whether it’s meeting for a quick coffee, lunch with a group of gals, or a fun day at the lake, don’t be afraid to extend an invitation! Pastor’s wives are in need of and crave fun, friendship, and fellowship, too. Inviting her along opens up a door to get to know her on a deeper level. That being said, if she declines an invitation, don’t get frustrated or take it personally that she has to pass this time!

7. Offer to do something/provide something. Baby-sitting for the evening. Veggies from your garden. Hand-me-down kids clothes. Dry cleaning the pastor’s white church robe. Picking up a kiddo from soccer practice. Chocolate chip cookies. The list could go on and on! It’s likely that your pastor’s family doesn’t live near relatives, so having people offer these simple, but wonderful things can definitely make them feel more at home.

8. Keep it positive. Please don’t speak negatively about the pastor to her or complain about a church issue that is out of her control. Those are things you need to take directly to the pastor himself. I have not had to deal with this myself, but I can see how this would be extremely stressful, discouraging, and disappointing for a pastor’s wife.

9. Praise her husband in front of her. What wife doesn’t want to hear nice things about her wonderful hubby?! Hearing positive feedback about an event my husband planned, a sermon he gave, or an impact he made makes me smile. I am so proud of Josh and it’s a terrific feeling when others acknowledge his hard work and dedication as well.

10. Pray for her. This is the most important thing! Feel free let her know that you are doing so. She loves you dearly and having you pray would mean the world to her!

Is there anything you would add to this list? Or if you are a pastor’s wife, what is a way you have been encouraged and blessed?

12 Words of Encourgement for Pastors (Or Other Leaders)

It’s Friday Forum!

12 Words of Encourgement for Pastors (Or Other Leaders)

I love pastors. Each week, through this blog and my personal ministry, God allows me to partner with dozens of pastors, helping them think through life and ministry issues. I’ve learned that many pastors struggle to find people who will invest in them and help them grow as individuals, leaders and pastors.

Recently I had a pastor ask me for my “best advice” for other pastors. Wow! That’s hard to say. I’ve learned so much through the pastors who have invested in me and by experience. It’s hard to summarize all that I’ve learned. It could probably fill a book or two…but at least more than one blog post!

I put some thought into the question and decided to come up with a list of encouragement, one that I would give to all pastors, to answer his question. I’m sure there’s more (and you can help by adding yours), but this post is at least a start. Of course, wisdom is transferable to other fields, so change a few words around and I’d give this advice to any leader…some of them perhaps to any person.

Here are 12 words of encouragement for pastors:

Choose your friends wisely…but choose friends. Don’t attempt to lead alone. Too many pastors avoid close friendships because they’ve been hurt. They trusted someone with information who used it against them. Finding friends you can trust and be real with means you’ll sometimes get injured, but the reward is worth it.

The church can never love your family as much as you do. Your family needs you more than the church does. They can get another pastor. Your family doesn’t want another you. You’ll have to learn to say “no”, learn how to balance and prioritize your time, and be willing to delegate to others in the church. (You may want to read THIS POSTfrom my friend Michael Hyatt on saying “no” with grace.”

If you protect your Sabbath day, your Sabbath day can better protect you. You’ll wear out quickly without a day a week to rejuvenate. God designed us this way. Take advantage of His provision. Take time to rest. You may not rest like everyone else…for me rest doesn’t mean doing nothing…but you need time away from the demands of ministry regularly. Lead your church to understand you can’t be everywhere every time. You owe it to yourself, your family, your church and your God.

You have influence…use it well. The pastorate comes with tremendous power and responsibility. It’s easy to abuse or take for granted. Don’t. Humility welcomes the hand of God on your ministry.

No amount of accountability or structure will keep you from temptation if you’re heart is impure. Above all else, guard your heart. (Proverbs 4:23) Avoid any hint of temptation. Look for the warning signs your heart is drifting. Keep your heart saturated with God’s Word and in prayer.

Let God lead. You can do some things well. God can do the impossible. Whom do you think should ultimately be leading the church? You’ll be surprised how much more effective your leadership will be when it’s according to His will and not yours.

If you can dream it, God can dream it bigger. Don’t dismiss the seemingly ridiculous things God calls you to do. They won’t always make sense to others or meet their immediate approval, but God’s ways will prove best every time.

Keep Jesus the center of focus in the church. You’ll never have a money problem, a people problem, or a growth problem if people are one with Jesus.

Your personal health affects the health of the church. Take care of yourself relationally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This, too, requires discipline, balance and prioritizing, but if, to the best of your ability, you strive to be healthy in every area of your life, as a good shepherd, your people will be more likely to follow your example.

The people in your church deserve authenticity. Not only will be honest about who you are help keep you from trying to meet unreal expectations, but it will help the people in your church be transparent with you and others. Don’t be someone you’re not. Be someone worthy to follow, but make sure you’re living it…not just teaching it.

You’ll never make everyone happy. If you try, you’ll be very unhappy…and very unproductive.

Now, make this post better. As you can count, there are only 11 here. I’m counting on you to add your best number 12.

What word of encouragement do you have for pastors (or other leaders)?

 

Ron Edmundson is a follower of Christ, husband, father, church-planter, pastor, writer, idea-man, strategic thinker, dreamer and teacher.  You can read more of his work and follow him at:

email – ron.edmondson@gmail.com

Google+ athttp://www.gplus.to/ronedmondson

Twitter at www.twitter.com/ronedmondson

Facebook atwww.facebook.com/ronaedmondson

My devotional site iswww.mustardseedministry.com

New Beginnings

A fresh page.  A new leaf.  New Year’s resolutions.  It’s that time again.  Is your list longer or shorter this year?  Is this a “clean slate” time or a rehearsal of missed opportunities and disappointments?  If we are to follow God’s example (and I’m pretty sure we are), today is about relief!  His mercies are new every morning – great is His faithfulness!

So, let’s lean into January with joy.  For all you pastors who’ve been driving hard since Christmas choir began in October and didn’t stop until December 31st Watch Night service, REST!  It’s time for Sabbath.

At BHOK, we have a long list of goals for 2013.  Of course, I have a thing for making lists so don’t feel bad if you aren’t there yet.  Encouragement and more of it is our priority this year.  To that end, we are committed to better connections through Twitter, Facebook, newsletters, and blogging.  It’s easy to follow us on any and all of these.  We promise not to bombard you, sell your info, or repeat ourselves.

The plan is to tweet and Facebook about once a day, blog three times a week, and send out our newsletter quarterly.  We’d love to hear what would be most helpful and interesting to you.  Drop us a line and we’ll do our best to accommodate you.  We really are excited about what the new year holds!

Way back in December, I read an article by Jon Acuff http://www.jonacuff.com/blog/what-are-you-going-to-finish-in-2012/ .  I don’t generally make resolutions, but this article grabbed my attention.  I sat down and came up with a list of 10 items for my own Finish Year list.

1. Raise $1,500 & file 501(c)(3) papers

2. write for at least one grant

3. visit PRN Cedarly for research http://pastorsretreatnetwork.org

4. send first pastor couple on getaway

5. send out first marketing project

6. visit Factor eFarm http://opensourceecology.org/wiki/Factor _e_Farm

7. finish MaPT

8. make a new friend

9. become more thankful by writing thank you notes

10. make a promotional video

I didn’t have any real sense that I would be able to complete all of these – particularly #1,3,10.  Up to that point we  had only raised about $50 total, so in all it seemed highly unlikely.  Still, each of them represented a real advance in my life.  I proceded to tackle the more attainable goals – making a friend, writing thank-you notes, working on my classes, etc.  When life intervened in April with the passage of my mom, it seemed a great deal of my list wasn’t going to be completed this year.  I felt like I had been slogging away faithfully, but was just going to have to lower my sights a bit. I continued my classes and we were able to send out our first pastor couple – a real triumph.  We had a solid deadline for the 501(c)(3), so I knew we had to do that.  Giving had increased and it looked like we were actually going to make that one.

And yet, the video project stymied me.  I had approached a friend who agreed, but was unable to come back to Tulsa.  I had called the media department at the university where I worked, but two semesters in a row I received no response.  I resigned myself to the idea that this would just have to be moved to next year’s list.

At about this time a Facebook group of Quitters formed and asked me to join.  The common denominator in this random band was the desire to pursue their dreams even if they had to maintain their day jobs.  What has built up is a community of encouragement.  People sharing their dreams, supporting each other, guest posting on each other’s blogs.  It has been a joy to join.  Somehow through this group I came across http://www.ticoandtina.com – a couple planning to travel around the country  making videos about people pursuing their dreams.  Beyond hope, I asked my dear friend Lynette to nominate us.  Then we just had to wait for a decision.

Last week I heard from them that they were actually coming to Oklahoma!  The only problem with this was the day job.  I frantically composed a shopping list to cover 4 additional adults and 2 young children.  My husband and son joined in with a vigor to get us ready.  There was painting and cabinet work done – because that’s just how we roll.  The team arrived late Wednesday night.  We stayed up even later to try to talk out what we would do the next day.  Thursday I dragged my body out of bed and went back to that day job, leaving my heart behind.  I popped in at lunch and rushed home at 5 to start the shoot.  We all headed out to Woodward Park to shoot the dream for Blank Canvas Tour.  It was a beautiful evening and we joyfully shared the vision God has given us for Barnabas House of Oklahoma.  Dinner wasn’t done until 9 o’clock and we stumbled into bed with hopes for the next day.

Friday came all too early.  The effort to get up for work was even more difficult, but the sooner undertaken the sooner accomplished.  Once again I rushed home at lunch and we  plotted some more.  Friday’s project was a promotional video – just what number 10 said!  At the last minute I rounded up an actor to portray a burned out pastor – Dr. James Barber.  We spent the next two hours shooting, walking, forgetting our lines, and then we headed home.  Dinner was ready by 8:30 this time and we all dropped off by 11.

Saturday morning we got to sleep late (Praise Him!) and then sent our new friends on their way to the next dreamer.  Our lives have been changed by David, Tina, Maeve, Maverick, Krista, and Randall.  We’ve received new names from Maverick – Lela and Bib.  Randall drew a picture of Barnabas House that made me cry.  We shared meals and stupid YouTube videos and side hugs.  Most of all we joined in pursuit of the passion in our hearts.  And we were all a part of and witness to a miracle.

It’s a Christmas Miracle!