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Heart Pruning

24 Jan

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” ~ John 15:1-2

My devotional this morning reflected on the above passage of scripture.  My thoughts during my prayer time began to run over my own gardening skills, of both flowers and the heart.

I am not a very accomplished gardener.  Oh, how I wish I was.

I keep thinking one day I will wake up and realize that my Mima’s green-thumb genes have finally made their way down to me.  I am still waiting.  For now I accept the fact that my skills are limited and I rejoice in the knowledge that my succulents survived all summer and will hopefully make it back after a long winter’s nap.

Pruning the Vine

As I thought about my garden, or lack there-of, I was drawn to the image I snapped of the “dead” hydrangea bush in the backyard awhile back.  I remember thinking when I took the picture, “This is how I feel.”

Dried up. Forgotten. Something once beautiful dying inside.

I snapped the picture thinking that I could look back at it one day and hopefully be in a better place spiritually, emotionally, and physically.

Thankfully I am able to look back today and realize that I am better.

I’m not where I want to be, and I have a long road ahead of me, but today, for now, I am able to say, “It is well with my soul.”

But it took hard work.

It took a lot of pruning.

And there is work yet to do.

Just like the hydrangea bushes in my yard need to be pruned, the dead flowers and branches cut off so new beautiful ones can bloom in Spring, I too need my life pruned of the dead things that weigh me down and keep me from blooming.

In the midst of preparing for Spring cleaning I need to take an inventory of my life and figure out what heart pruning needs to happen.

What is preventing me from becoming the person God has created me to be?  What is holding me back?  What is making me heart-sick?

Maybe it is too much of something, like too much tv, or even social media.  Maybe it is not enough of something, like time with God or time with the Hubs.

Whatever is causing me to wither needs to be cut away, and whatever needs to take root needs to be watered and nourished so that I can bear the fruit that God intends for my life.

It will take more hard work.

It will take an honest and deep look into the dark, dusty corners of my heart.

It will take time and attention to what is really important.

But I know that I am not alone as I prune my heart, and neither are you.

If you continue to read the passage of scripture in John 15, Jesus reminds us to remain in Him and He will help us to bear much fruit.  He also points out that He doesn’t talk about the hard work of pruning to be cruel, but does so out of love and for our good, so that we can be complete.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” ~John 15:11

Heart pruning isn’t easy or quick work, just like gardening.

Your hands will get dirty.

You will get tired.

Your knees might ache, because the best place to begin pruning is in prayer.

What heart pruning does your life need?

What is keeping you from picking up those “pruners?”  Fear? Doubt? Pride? Pain?

I have let all of those things and more keep me from the business of pruning sometimes.  Sometimes it is hard to know what to do.

Let the Master Gardener help!  God is more than willing and able to give you gardening tips!

So, let’s create some splendid heart gardens that bloom with love, hope, and grace, making the world a much more beautiful place to live.

Gracefully~~Heather

(P.S. For those readers that have stuck around, thank you!  I have been on hiatus in the midst of some major heart pruning, which has included this blog.  I have been allowing God to guide me as I figure out where my desires and His meet for my life.  I know writing is a major part of that but it is going to take a little different path.  I will be starting a new blog soon called Soul Beautiful.  SO stay tuned!  I hope you follow me over there and continue to let God bless you as He speaks through my words. Thanks!)

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 30} The Greatest Gift of All

1 Dec The Reason For the Season

I was reading to Micah last night prior to our bedtime routine, in an attempt to settle his wild soul down.  So, of course we were reading, “Where the Wild Things Are.”  It was adorable to hear him repeat Max’s phrases, “Be Still!” and “Let the wild rumpus start.”

And as I sat tonight trying to settle my soul into this special season that is upon us, it instead felt like the world declaring, “Let the wild rumpus start!”

For many, the rumpus of the Christmas season began the very night we give thanks for all we have.  What better way to reflect on our abundance of blessings than to rush out and get more, right?  I don’t have a problem with those wanting to get a jump on giving and save while doing it, but the retailers pushing it earlier and earlier is just ridiculous.  I just avoid it all together!  Was the Dollar Tree even running a Black Friday special?  That’s where my DIY gifts will hail from!

We are in a consumer society that teaches us to want more, need more, and be satisfied with none.  Trying to teach little ones what Christmas really means is tough.

I am all for passing on Christmas traditions from childhood, Santa, gift giving, and The Grinch.

But I am all about the greatest and first Christmas gift, Christ.

To be cliche, He is the reason for the season, in this heart and hearth, and I hope in yours.  There is nothing better to give or to get than the FREE gift of God’s grace, wrapped beautifully in swaddling clothes, and delivered in the humble form of His son, Jesus Christ.

But I’ve been struggling on how best to deliver this message to my children’s hearts (and ours) without robbing them of simple, fun Christmas magic and joy that comes in many commercial forms ….

Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 25 & 26} Gratitude and Grace

27 Nov

Yesterday was a beautiful, holy day.  Despite waking up from too little sleep with a throat that was on fire and a head that felt like an elephant was sitting on it, the day was wonderful.

We celebrated this little guy’s baptism at our church.  Yes, I cried.

My littlest tiger after his baptism

Papa Tiger performing the baptism

Yes, yesterday was awesome, despite feeling physically lousy.  We celebrated with family and rejoice that our son, Kasen, is baptized and covered by God’s grace.  We would need that grace. Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 24} Boomer, Baptisms, and Blessings

25 Nov keep-calm-and-boomer-sooner-13

The past few days have been a fantastic blur of family, friends, and some awesome bedlam football.  I am so incredibly grateful to be able to be close to family.

Our sweet baby boy, Kasen, has also been sick the past couple days and that has made for a very tired mommy and daddy.

I think we kinda look like the walking dead a bit, but The Hubs looks wayyy better on less sleep than me.  Life is so unfair sometimes.  Eh, whatcha gonna do?

I guess I am going to attempt to get some beauty rest before the wee one wakes, which should be in less than 3 hrs if sick patterns hold.

So, in order to get my tired behind to bed and keep up with the thankful posts, here is a quick list of what I am grateful for today. Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 18} Answered Prayers

19 Nov Community Worship

It’s Sunday.  In this house that means we spent most of the day at the church.

That happens when you are the pastor’s family.

It was a long day, as most Sundays are, and I didn’t even have time for my Sunday afternoon nap.

After a great sermon by The Hubs this morning, focused on John 3:16-21 and The Gift of Grace, our Abundant Life Small Group provided a spaghetti and lasagna lunch for the congregation, taking up donations to help fund various mission work in the conference.  It was delicious and I am incredibly thankful to share life with this amazing group of individuals.

We were able to have a brief respite at home after lunch, even though I had to run back up to the church to decorate and tidy up for the Community-wide Thanksgiving Service our church was hosting that evening.  I think The Hubs and the boys got a little bit of an afternoon nap, and I did manage 30 minutes to relax on the couch!

We headed back up to the church a bit before 5 and I corralled the kids while The Hubs prepared to welcome a few hundred people into our church. Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 4} And He Rested

4 Nov rest_here

The Bible tells the story of creation.  It was a process that took seven days to complete.  Each day God created, working hard to make something beautiful, functional, and wonderful from nothing.  Each day God admired His work and said, “It is good.”

The seventh day God took in all He had created and said, “It is very good,” and then He rested.

I can imagine that after all that creating something from nothing, God had to be a bit worn out.  Ya know, if God got tired.  However, God is known as being all-powerful and I am pretty sure that comes with a big helping of not needing things like sleep.

What I think is that God rested and took time to reflect on all He had done.  He took time to look back over His week and reflect on what took place; what worked and what didn’t. He took time to enjoy and appreciate the time He had already spent before He moved on to the next task, like directing Noah to build an ark. Continue reading

30 Days of a Thankful Heart {Day 2} Good Grace

2 Nov When all else is gone, your grace remains.
Photo courtesy of Kaci Sappington

My Facebook newsfeed is full of my friends and family updating statuses with what they are thankful for.  I noticed that many people were catching up on Day 2 and listing the two things they are grateful for. Most listed God, faith, or the like as the first thing they are thankful for.

Guilt creeped in.

What kind of a pastor’s wife am I?  I was grateful for happiness and health before being grateful for God?!

Alert social medias.

I suppose what happened was simply that I was editing the pictures of the boys and that was what struck me as needing to express my gratitude for.  I also suppose that my gratefulness for God in my life is so interwoven into the fabric of all I do and am that it sometimes goes unspoken or unwritten.

So, God, have no worries, You are who I am most grateful for.

I know You were wondering. (Sarcasm people.) Continue reading

AAA of Marriage

30 Oct

I cannot claim credit for the catchy post title today.  I stole it directly from my morning devotion app, GIG, Girlfriends in God.  The very gifted Sharon Jaynes penned the devo, AAA Club of Marriage, and it really spoke to my heart today; my husband heart.

Marriage Survival Tool Kit
Photo courtesy of theweddinggals.net

Jayne states that the AAA of marriage is adoration, admiration, and appreciation.  While she does say that these things need to flow both ways, her focus is on how a wife can build up and love her husband by living those three principles on a daily basis.

Easy right?

Ephesians 5:33 has this to say:

33 However, let each man of you [without exception] love his wife as [being in a sense] his very own self; and let the wife see that she respects and reverences her husband [that she notices him, regards him, honors him, prefers him, venerates, and esteems him; and that she defers to him, praises him, and loves and admires him exceedingly].” -Amplified Version

I’ll be honest, I have always chafed quite a bit under biblical directives to submit to the husband.  I come from a long-line of strong matriarchs and slide into the role of domineering wife easily.  I am letting God work on me in this area; softening the rough edges and sharpness of tongue.  However, this is not what this verse focuses on.  It is lifting up the virtues of adoration, admiration, and appreciation, for both husband and wife.  Continue reading

Straw Survival

4 Oct

Each day is exhausting and I’m drowning.   I feel like I am bailing myself out with a straw.

Okay, so a straw and Diet Cherry Dr.Pepper are helping with survival

I don’t have any money to make an adorable fall wreath or even the energy to arrange my fall décor.  And it makes me feel like a failure.  My house is beginning to feel like it’s aiming for a spot on hoarders (ok not even close), but the bathrooms are dirty, clothes are piled up, and crumbs were being carried off by ants (literally), until the bug guy came out.  If we get the dishes cleaned, and the toys somewhat contained, we consider it a victory.  It all feels like too much and I’m not enough.   My worry over not enough of this and too much of that is consuming my joy day to day.  I am finding it hard to focus on all the good amidst the clutter of my heart.

I’m clinging to a few things right now.  I have started working out with a great group of girls every weekday morning.  We meet from 5:30-6:15 (Yep, A.M!) and are led by a few girls who completed GFit.  We have jokingly nicknamed it Equate GFit since it is sort of a generic form of the popular workout.  We don’t pay in $, but believe me, we pay in sweat.  I’m so grateful that I asked to join the group and convinced my friend to join me.  I am even more grateful that I have gotten up to attend, although I am somewhat less than grateful when every movement causes me to grunt in pain.

My boys are another source of hope, love, and grace for me. Even when Micah has tested every boundary possible and Kasen refuses to stay asleep longer than 30 minutes, I am grateful to have two precious boys to love.  I’m not a perfect mom by any means, and most days feel like the furthest thing from it, but I am trying.  The other boy I couldn’t make it without is my husband.  Aaron loves me enough to stick by me.  He helps out so much with the boys and the day to day operations.  When he sees me at my limit, he is quick to step in and give me a little while to regroup.  He is truly my prince and my other half.

The other source of strength right now is the daily devotional I have been reading.  It is much easier to find the time for this when my day begins at 5am!  I have been devouring the words that the ladies over at Girlfriends in God share and it never fails to speak directly to my heart.  I have the GIG app on my phone so I have access to devotions wherever I am.

Today’s scripture particularly spoke light and truth in the darkness of my heart. Continue reading

10 Scriptures to Soothe Mommy’s Soul

24 Sep Harried Heather at the end of my rope

(Fair Warning: This is a lengthy post.  My lack of posts has built up and is now overflowing.  Read it through…it’s worth it.  I’m also biased!)

Yesterday (Sunday) is often considered to be a day of rest.  Sabbath.

Not so in my world.

We are a ministry family.  My husband is the senior pastor of our church and that means Sunday is a work day, and not just for him.  I’m currently the children’s ministry director and even when I am not teaching on a Sunday, I am checking in with leaders, counting little heads, hands, and hearts, and collecting the change in our Children’s Change Jar.  By the time the service is over and we have fellowshipped with as many congregants as possible, chased our almost 3-yr old son  all over the sanctuary (altar rails, chairs, stage…), and consoled our now cranky almost 4-month old, we are wiped out.

But the day isn’t even over!

If it’s a good day, I will have a delicious crockpot meal simmering in the slow-cooker.  The scent will tantalize our tastebuds as we drag in through the front door.  We can sit and eat in relative relaxation for a little bit, but let’s be honest; we haven’t had a relaxing meal on a regular basis in almost 3 years.  Hmmm, why is that?

If it’s a fantastic day we will splurge and endure the craziness of eating out with two children under the age of 3 and indulge in Mexican food.  Pass the salsa and chips please!

Yesterday was a good day.

I had dinner on low and slow in the crockpot so we had gourmet turkey sandwiches for lunch.  Micah (the 3 yr. old) wanted PB crackers and squeeze fruit.  He ate the fruit and pushed the crackers around his plate.  He was hungry later.  Not surprised.  All was normal and even calm in the Tiger house.

Then it was time for naps.

It needs to be said that Sunday afternoon naps are a sacred and time-honored tradition that Aaron and I treasure and have made a priority in our relationship for the past ten years.  Come hell, high water, or a second kid, we will have our Sunday nap.

Unless there is a football game on.  Or a ministry meeting.  Or a family function.  Or a preschooler with a stubborn streak a mile long.

You get the picture though.  We don’t just like our rest.  We NEED our Sunday refueling nap to sustain us through small groups, meetings, and any other church event that might be scheduled.

Aaron took Micah back to his room to settle down for naptime.  I was nursing Kasen, ready to swaddle that little bug and get him drifting off ASAP so Mommy could settle in for a long Sunday snooze.

Both boys had other intentions.

Micah dug in his tenacious little heels and refused to settle, sleep, or even stay still.  I was tagged in to take over for Aaron.  Kasen was handed off smoothly with no fumble.  Micah cared for the change in coaches about as much as the NFL is loving the fill-in refs.  He yelled, he screamed, he kicked, and he flopped.  If the Emmy’s handed out an award for Best Dramatic Tantrum, he would have it in the bag.

We ignored him.  We talked calmly and soothingly to him.  We carried him back to his room and shut the door (that does not have a lock?!) I held him tightly in a loving hold to stop the flailing. We gave him options.  We attempted to reason, reward, cajole, and bribe the child to stop throwing the fit.  We FAILED!!!

I even attempted singing a new temper song we had learned just that morning watching PBS’ Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, even though I knew I was messing the words up.  “I’m so mad I could roar, but instead I’ll count to four.  One. Two. Three. Four.”  Something like that.  It even seemed like that was working.  Until it wasn’t.  The fit resumed in full force after a few calmer, shuddering breaths.  I should have sung the song to myself a few times.  After a slap in the face (my face), elbow to the stomach (yep, mine), and a scream in the ear (mine too), I lost all my patience and my mind for a moment.

Savage Mommy Tiger roared.  Right in the face of her little tiger cub.  Continue reading