Sunday, June 7, 2015

When Decisions Are Hard

My kids hate making decisions. Hate it like Kanye West hates to smile.

Sometimes my 8-year-old will walk away with nothing, rather than having to decide between two options.
This was how it went down at Starbucks recently....
Me: Would you rather have a fancy drink, or a snack and water?
Her: Both.
Me: Nope, you know the rule. One or the other.
Her: I want a snack AND a lemonade.
Me: Ok, by not making a choice you choose neither.
Her: I can't decide!
Me: Ok, then neither.

And that's how we leave it. There's tears and pointing, especially when I still place an order and she actually doesn't get anything. This has happened on more than one occasion in many different settings. My son will eventually decide but with a sense of defeat, like he might be making the wrong decision and will forever regret it.
I know, I know. #firstworldproblems
The thing is, their decisions aren't even hard! They're choosing between 2 really great things, or at the very least things that don't have any eternal value or life-changing ramifications. A decision between whether to spend your money on a Lego set or a video game will most likely not keep anyone up at night with buyers remorse or have them wishing for a do-over.

But we're adults.
And adults have to make some pretty tough decisions.

Do you:
Take the job?
Buy the house?
End the relationship?
Accept the offer?
Confront them?
Move away?
Hold your tongue?
Take the risk?
Step out in faith?

How do you make big decisions? Do you go to the Word? Do you have a trusted person or group of people who help you process? List the pros and cons? Cross your fingers and hope for the best?
Where does faith come in? Does it?

Sometimes there isn't a wrong decision. You have two or maybe even three really good options you're deciding between. Two great job offers. Three beautiful homes. How do you know which one to commit to?
Or it could be the difference between a right decision and a wrong decision, but you're torn. Your head says one things but your heart says another. Which do you listen to?

I was recently reading out of Matthew 7 and verse 13 says "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it."
Granted this verse is speaking of salvation and entering God's Kingdom, but God uses scripture to speak to our hearts in different ways. For me, when I read this last week I was at a point of needing to make a decision. I wanted to make the decision that suited me and my wishes/desires/ideals. The easy decision. This verse reminded me that God doesn't always allow us to make the easy decisions. Sometimes the right option is the toughest one, the one that doesn't feel good, the one that makes us ask, "Really, God?"
In faith I chose the 'less attractive' option so to speak. And now I wait and trust God to do the rest.

I don't know who this is for. Maybe it's just for the sake of me getting my thoughts down in writing.
I do know though, that I'm not the only one with decisions to make, and I pray that whatever your decision is, you'll be able to make it with confidence and peace, knowing that God is faithful and good.

Thanks for stopping by the fishbowl.
Have a great week!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Overcoming Fear

Sooooo.......yeah, it's been awhile. I have no excuse, but I do have an apology. I'm sorry it's been almost 2 months since I've written anything.
And in reality, I still haven't. Today, I have for you a guest post from my dear friend Caitlyn.
She is, in my opinion, still officially a newlywed (married for approximately 18 months), and just really one of my favorite people. She and her husband lead worship at a church in Austin and her blog Art & Soul is a great mash up of God-things, hospitality, and delicious food. Check her out.

Helloooo there! It’s so good to be in the Fishbowl! My name is Caitlyn, I’m a friend of Amy’s, a fellow blogger, and a worship pastor’s wife. I am an expert on very few things, but fear is probably one of them. I have some experience being afraid, so you can trust my advice on overcoming it. *please ignore the flawed logic* Case in point…
                *Caitlyn texts her Mom*
Caitlyn: “Mom! There’s a red bump on my leg. Here’s a picture of it. Does that look like a flesh eating bacteria to you? I’m just curious because I was at the creek and I heard this girl got a flesh eating bacteria from a river once and they had to amputate her leg.”
Mom: “That looks like an ant bite, baby.”
While this is a funny, kind of nonsensical fear (or is it?), some fears are harder to overcome- fear concerning change, debt, the unknown, etc. For those things, I usually use this process. Because when I am afraid I need processes. My logical brain has usually shut down by the point that I remember to do this, so it’s helpful to have this established, where all I have to do is fill in the blanks, pray, and breathe.
Tips for Overcoming your Fear (and Keeping your Eye Makeup Intact)
1.       Identify the Lie behind your Fear.
One of my favorite bands, All Sons and Daughters, has a lyric in their song, “Let it Shine” that says, “There are a million truths for every lie/so speak it out loud and let it lift high.” When we submit to fear we are buying into a lie. For me, it’s often believing the lie that God is not good and that He doesn’t want to be nice to me; and also the lie that if I prepare for the worst it somehow won’t happen. In the words of Tina Fey, “I’ll be ready for it to happen and that way it won’t happen. It’s a burden, being able to control situations with my hypervigilance, but it’s my lot in life.” So when I catch myself submitting to fear I take a few minutes to sit and identify, What am I believing right now? What is this saying about my view of God?

2.       Speak the Truth over that Lie.
I like to use an authoritative lawyer sort of inner voice when I do this. That’s optional for you but I think it helps. So after you’ve identified this lie, you go back to the Scriptures and you ask What is God’s truth about this?  If you look at Psalm 35:3, you’ll see that the psalmist himself had to ask God to remind him of the truth:  “Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation!’” If you can’t think of anything else, just pray over that phrase, asking that God will speak to you in your spirit, and that you will trust Him not just as your eternal salvation, but as the One who saves you from whatever has risen against you today.

3.        Meditate on the Truth and Breathe, Child!
In her book, Every Bitter Thing is Sweet (READ IT), Sara Hagerty uses adoring God as her response to financial troubles, a struggle with infertility, the loss of loved ones, and as the basis for her conversation with God in mundane, daily life. The best antidote to fear is adoration. So hold onto those truths you discovered and just say them back to God. Thank you God that you are my salvation, thank you that nothing is outside of your control, thank you that you redeem my soul from the pit. Let those fuel your conversation with him, rather than engaging in that frantic, fear-based monologue of “Help-help-help, where are you, do you hear me -HELP!” And breathe. You may now transition from lawyer voice to yoga instructor voice. Deeeeep breaths.
When I use this process, I usually overcome whatever fear I’m facing without having a crying breakdown - hence ‘eye makeup intact’- but if you need to cry some happy tears at the end, just fold a Kleenex where it has a point at one end and dab dab dab at the corners of your eyes like they do in black and white movies. If you’re in the car you can just crank the AC and blow the vents straight into your eyeballs.
Links to stuff I’ve referenced:
Psalm 35:3, Hebrews 2:8, Job 33:28 (link up to Biblegateway)
Thanks for reading!

Friday, March 6, 2015

Not So Deep Thoughts

I used to keep a family blog back when my kids were funny and I had things I wanted to document and remember (now they're boring less funny and they smell weird, especially the boy), and every once in awhile I'd do a post of just bulleted things, an emptying of my head if you will.
Since the first weekend of February I've participated in DNOW at my church, the IF:gathering, the JustOne online conference (from Leading & Loving It), and the Radiant Conference at Celebration Church (thanks Evelyn!!). If you're keeping track, that's 4 big deal spiritual events in 5 weekends. My brain is SO. FULL.
So much that I'm in, like, a Jesus fog or something. Not a bad place to be, true, but there needs to be an emptying. Reader be warned, randomness awaits; an odd mix of deep thoughts and useless information, or maybe not so useless (I'm talking to you, dry shampoo users). I need to get some of the dumb stuff out to more effectively ruminate on the relevant.
Grab on. This is happening.

  • If God ever calls us north (and this could mean Oklahoma or higher) I'm convinced the only way I'll survive is to become a hermit. I will wear only warm cozy sweats and have my groceries delivered. I will probably develop an online shopping addiction. That's real. It got down to 27 degrees a couple nights ago. I was asleep when that happened, but the next day it was, like, 34 degrees and I thought Jesus was about to come back. This is central Texas, y'all. We don't do cold. Unless it means eating ice cream.

  • Roasted broccoli is delicious. Salt and olive oil, 375 degrees for an hour. You're welcome.

  • Christine Caine is officially one of my favorite people, third only to my family (they count as one) and Jen Hatmaker. If I'm being honest, Jen is probably more favorite because I know her, so that helps. If I didn't, she and Christine would definitely have to have a street fight to determine their ranking. That's really the only logical way to settle it. For the record, I asked Jen and she said Chris wins hands down. I'm not convinced.

  • Speaking of Chris Caine, I heard her speak twice last weekend and realized that twice in one day is more than enough. I thought my head would explode. I definitely only heard half of what she said because I must write it ALL down, and I can't listen and write at the same time.  Here's some of what I got though:
    • You can hear 48,000 sermons about how loved you are, but until you fall passionately in love with Him and serve out of that passion, it's just obligation.
    • We've made Christianity a behavior modification program. We need a generation of Christians who will stop acting like Christians and BE ONE.
    • We are not called to live life and "do witnessing"; we are called to live lives that bear witness.
    • We are not here on this earth for self actualization. We are indentured servants to Christ.

  • My hair is growing and with that comes a weird texture that requires me to actually spend some time on it. With a lot of sweet talk and empty promises to protect it with that thermal spray stuff I can sometimes get some waviness. After an unholy amount of time on pinterest, I was convinced that sea salt spray would be a wise purchase. On clean hair, I am a fan. However, please hear me for the love of all that is soft and silky; on day two, following a healthy dose of dry shampoo, it is a tool of the devil. Dry shampoo and sea salt spray are not friends. Please don't test me on this. Just trust.

  • Starbucks now has coconut milk. I'm dairy-free so I'm always grateful when alternatives are offered in the mainstream market. I've been happily drinking soy lattes for years, but was intrigued at the prospect of a coconut milk latte. Never again.  

  • Last week I started Donald Miller's new book Scary Close. It's a good read. On page 54 he mentions Ben Rector, a singer/songwriter. Please go right now and listen to some of his music. You won't be sorry. A voice like buttah.

  • I've said it before and I'll say it again, IF:equip (and all other things IF:) has been such a blessing in my life over the past 5 or so months. I love getting up in the morning and having a daily reading with a community of believers who process through the scripture and share what the Lord is teaching them. I always come away with a new perspective on something.

I feel sufficiently emptied. Those are all my thoughts. Thank you for reading.
You are now free to roast some broccoli, perhaps while listening to Ben Rector's 'Making Money.'

Friday, February 20, 2015

Rest in the Storm

My parents have had dogs since forever. I don't remember a time growing up when animals weren't a part of the family. When I was a teenager my dad gave my mom a miniature pinscher and they've been loyalists to that breed ever since. They currently have a little chocolate brown minpin named Nellie. She was a rescue dog, and is therefore skittish and wary of pretty much everything, and she hates storms. My memaw, who lives with my parents, wraps Nellie up in a towel and holds her whenever a big one rolls thru their area. This gives Nellie a sense of comfort and safety while the storm rages outside.
As much as I'd love memaw to wrap me up in a blanket and hold me during the storms of this life, she's got 47 years and minus 30 pounds on me. It's just not practical. And it would probably be awkward.

So, how do we find rest in life's storms?
When we've lost a loved one.
When our marriage is struggling.
When our children are rebelling.
When we don't know how the bills are going to get paid.
How do we rest??

I was up at my parents church several weeks ago and their pastor was wrapping up a series on rest. The morning I was there he was talking about how we rest in the storms.
In Mark 4:35 Jesus gets into a boat with his disciples and as a (literal) storm comes up on the water, Jesus is asleep in the back of the boat. How is it that Jesus was able to sleep during a "fierce storm"? He knew he was in his Father's hands.
We can rest in the storm because we know who's in control. Is it scary sometimes? You bet. But God is bigger than my fear. We tend to get a bit irrational in times of trouble. We think in extremes, make decisions based on emotion, play out worst-case-scenarios.
The disciples did this too.
The last part of verse 38 says, "The disciples woke him up shouting, 'Teacher, don't you care that we're going to drown?'"
Duh, guys. Of course he cares. He's Jesus.
But they were irrational.
"When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, 'Silence! Be still!' Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. Then he asked them, 'Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?'"
You see, at this point the disciples had been traveling with Jesus long enough to know who He was. They'd heard him preach. They'd seen him perform miracles; casting out demons, healing the paralyzed and the leprous.
But in this their storm, they're afraid.
"This is different, Jesus, because it's happening to us."
If we know who Jesus is, if we believe he is who he says he is, then we can rest in the storms. There will be storms. "In this world you will have trouble." But Jesus is bigger than any storm we will face. So, will I be like the disciples who over-reacted and became irrational?
Or will I follow my Father's example and rest?

I want to share with you this devotion from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.

"Give up the illusion that you deserve a problem-free life. Part of you is still hungering for the resolution of all difficulties. This is a false hope! As I told My disciples, in the world you will have trouble. Link your hope not to problem solving in this life but to the promise of an eternity of problem-free life in heaven. Instead of seeking perfection in this fallen world, pour your energy into seeking Me: the Perfect One. It is possible to enjoy Me and glorify Me in the midst of adverse circumstances. In fact, My Light shines most brightly through believers who trust Me in the dark. That kind of trust is supernatural: a production of My indwelling Spirit. When things seem all wrong, trust me anyway. I am much less interested in right circumstances than in right responses to whatever comes your way."  (From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

John 16:33- "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Deuteronomy 31:6- "Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of [your storm], for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you."

Jesus cares. He's with you. And you're not going to drown.

Sunday, February 8, 2015


I spent Friday night and all day Saturday at the IF:gathering in Austin.
There aren't words to adequately capture the experience.
We were blessed.
We were called.
We were challenged.
We were equipped.
We were prayed over.
We were sent out.

A friend of mine told me before I left on Friday that she was praying IF:gathering would be my DNOW. And that's exactly what it was.
Adding to the sweetness of the weekend was the fact that I had led a group of 7th grade girls at our DNOW the weekend before, and the topic was the SAME THING y'all.
God is crazy and awesome and He's hammering me with the challenge to be brave and courageous.
I told my girls this morning in Bible Fellowship that my challenge actually came at IF:, rather than at DNOW, but I have no doubt that leading at DNOW last weekend and hearing the messages from our speaker laid the ground-work and prepared my heart to receive this weekend.

So I'm sharing with all of you my confession and my act of bravery.
Actually 2 acts of bravery.
The first one, and the easiest of the two, is something Ann Voskamp challenged everyone to do.
1 Samuel 7:3 says, "So Samuel said to all the Israelites, 'If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve Him only, and He will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.'"
So every morning, at 7:03, I'll pray. I'll pray for my heart and soul and mind to be pointed to the Lord. I'll pray that I don't allow any foreign gods to take up space in my heart and in my life.
This is brave thing number one. It's brave because I like to sleep. Like, a lot. And mornings are from the devil himself.
But I will be brave. I will set my alarm, and I will actually wake up when it goes off, and I will pray.

My second act of bravery first required a realization and confession. I had to have my eyes opened to what was happening in my heart before I could step out in faith and commit to the brave thing God was telling me to do. As I talked through some of the discussion questions with my friends at the gathering, God showed me that I've been keeping Him at arm's length for several months, because I've been afraid of what He'll want me to do if I draw close to Him and listen.
Have I been spending time with Him?
Have I been praying and learning?
You bet.
Have I been putting my whole heart into it? Have I been all in?

I'm afraid.

Of being uncomfortable.
Of being pushed beyond myself.
Of being told to do something that would require me to put my faith to work.

But, believing in God takes courage. Living in faith, living out our faith, makes us uncomfortable. But faith, real true God-sized faith, overcomes the doubt and the fear and the insecurity.
Jen Hatmaker said this weekend that "We live out God's kingdom to the same level we believe in it." So, what do I believe about God's kingdom?
Do I believe it's worth being uncomfortable for?
Do I believe that what God can do through me if I'm willing, is greater than my fear of being pushed beyond myself?
Do I love God enough to put my faith to work? To take that next step?


So, in following the leading and equipping of all things IF:, I'm going to open my home and invite my neighbors to eat at my table. I'm going to ask questions. I'm going to talk to them about God. It might get uncomfortable, but I want to hear their hearts, and their stories, and I want them to know that this is a safe place.

And the bottom line; it's not my responsibility to get results. I need only to respond to the call, and let God do the rest.

So I'm going to be brave.

"But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world." 1 John 4:4

What's God asking you to do?

***I actually do want to hear from y'all on this. For some reason many people have trouble commenting and I don't know why!! It has come to my attention that you can comment anonymously, but sign your name in the body of the comment. Or not. Either way.***

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Trusting God

I hope everyone had a good break and great time with their families and loved ones over the holidays. I'm slowly but surely getting back into the swing of things after 3 weeks of laying around and sleeping in. I'm at least to the point where I'm setting my alarm, but I'm not yet actually getting up when it goes off. Not that I've ever been one to jump out of bed in the morning. This girl likes her sleep.

As the new year starts, thoughts of resolutions, goals, intentions, plans, etc, are a hot topic. Many people don't make resolutions, but still have some things they would like to change this year. This is still, more or less, a resolution. Just saying.

What I'd like to know, is not what you're resolving to do in 2015, but what you're trusting God with this year. Or what do you need to trust God with, and you're maybe not quite there yet? I've talked to some friends about this over the last week, and our pastor spoke about it on Sunday. In my circle I've heard finances, health, job decisions, issues within the family, and that's just a sampling.
We have a lot going on in our lives, and there are times when it would be great to have an "easy" button. Personally, I'd love to hit auto-pilot and coast to summer break right about now. But when we trust God with the things that are daunting, the 'Goliaths', we see His faithfulness at work.
I'm reading Jesus Calling this year, and this morning I read, "Let your weakness be a door to My Presence. Whenever you feel inadequate, remember that I am your ever-present Help."

I'm trusting God to give me patience as I teach my kids each day, and wisdom to make the best decisions for their education.
I'm also trusting Him to give our church direction as we begin the search for a new worship pastor.

He is faithful.

What are you trusting God with this year?

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  --Romans 15:13

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Thoughts on Holidays

A couple of months ago Allen sent me a link to a blog entry titled 6 Things I Bet You Don't Know About Your Pastor's Wife. I've shared things like that on here before, so I won't beat the proverbial dead horse. However, there was one I would like to spend a few moments on. The number 5 'Thing' was:

5. Holidays are Lonely
In other words Christmas and Easter. They're Super Bowl moments for the church. They're 2 of the most likely times when people will come to church each year. So when everyone else is hanging with family and celebrating holidays together, my husband is at church. We don't get to travel and be with family. We don't get to be together on Christmas Eve.

This is indeed true. At least for us.
This year our church is hosting two Christmas Eve services; 4:00pm and 6:00pm. Allen will leave around 3:00. Maybe 3:15. He will get home around 8:00 right as the kids are going up to their rooms for reading time before the 8:30 lights out.
I remember one year when the kids were about 4 and 6 the church did three services, so Allen wouldn't be home until very late. I hadn't thought through the evening well, and on the way home from the Christmas Eve service the kids and I attended, the only place open was Golden Chick. I drove thru, got chicken strips and fries and a jug of sweet tea, and the kids and I ate on paper plates at the kitchen table and I put them to bed by myself. And then I had a small pity party.
We don't spend Christmas eve with family, because we have to be here, and my dad is also a pastor (in the Dallas area) and has to be at his church. The parents are driving down on Christmas day.

Please hear me: I'm not complaining. I know it sounds like I am. Five or six years ago when my kids where much younger I probably would've....or did. The holidays have been like this for almost as long as I can remember. I grew up in a pastor's home. I married a pastor. This is my life.

My point in all of this is to hear from other pastors' wives.

What do you do to make Christmas Eve (and while we're at it, Easter as it is much the same) special?

Do you save it all for Christmas Day?

Do you have a special Christmas Eve breakfast/brunch/lunch before your husband heads up to spend the last half of his day at church?

Does your family attend all the services (if there are multiples)to be kind of together, or do you pick the one that best fits you and/or your kids?

Some of you have told me that you're not able to comment, or it wants you to set up a google account and you don't want to. I think you can comment anonymously for free, but sign your name in the comment box so I know who you are....unless you want to remain anonymous. Then I will anonymously be annoyed. Kidding.
You can also email me your comment and unless you tell me otherwise, I'll paste it in the comment section myself.
This is just something I'm really curious about. That's why I'm being specific with the comment thing.
Let me hear from you!

Not sure if I will post again before 2015, so in the event I don't get another chance to say it...Merry Christmas!!