Is it me against the world?

Anybody ever feel like you are the only person on the planet trying to do the right thing? Even though you know that’s not true you still wonder why you work so hard, so sacrificially even, while others continue to crap on you? Why even bother working that hard at doing the right thing…? A while ago I did a post on choices over at 47 Grove. When I was younger I had no problem with the concept of “thankless” good deeds. As an adult I’ve had more time and experience to see real messed up stuff happen. Maybe that’s why it is now sometimes harder to understand why you can do everything right and still get crapped on. Perseverance used to come a lot easier. I went so far as to look up the definition of the word “persevere”…. continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success. One synonym given was literarily to “struggle on”. I guess “the struggle is real” is an actual thing.¬†Even if you have been around long enough to know doing the right thing means you’ll likely still get crapped on… it’s not until you’re actually IN the crap that things really get tough. You know it’s coming, and yet still when it hits you wonder why life is spinning.

I could be a beach bum. For the rest of my life! I love the sound of that career. I could sell art on the boardwalk. I could wear a bathing suit every day. I could even do a little ministry and pray for people along the beach, right? Doesn’t that sound a whole lot better right now? Costa Rica has nice beaches I’ve heard. Beach missions.

Hmmm… God doesn’t seem to have called me to a life of beach missions. Bummah. Instead I’m in the trenches of what many have called the “thankless ministry”. They call it youth ministry. In all actuality it’s more like babysitting, mentoring, coaching, life guarding, cleaning, driving, car pooling, feeding, reading, pick ups, nursing, juggling, praying, praying, and really praying that everyone turns out alright. Myself included. The beach sounds a lot easier though! Maybe someday. Possibly around retirement age. That’s okay.

I’m not the only one to have experienced an unwanted or seemingly undeserved ending to a really good / moral / or even evangelistic deed. I think of the many times in the Bible people who were in the middle of doing the right thing got crapped on. Paul and Silas were thrown in prison. Jesus’ disciples were arrested, tortured, murdered. Mary saw her miracle baby brutally killed in front of her own eyes. Let’s not even go Old Testament here. Daniel was thrown in a pit with vicious lions. Noah was mocked by his entire society. Let’s not even go there with Job or Jeremiah.

I guess I feel pretty stupid now. Many have experienced far harsher trials than my own. One thing I’m always telling my kids is that God always keeps His promises, and to remember that He promises this life will be hard and… the struggle is real. Dang, I knew saying that all the time would come back to bite me someday. Taking my¬†own advice.

We aren’t supposed to feel good after every right decision. We are supposed to feel right about every good decision. Sometimes you’ll be thrown for a loop. The ending won’t be what you wanted, could have guessed or even deserved. So let’s examine again why we do the right thing. First reason, because I’m called by the God who I love. After sacrificing for me I know that I can sacrifice for Him. I can do what He’s asked because I love Him and He is God. Second reason, because others will benefit from my right decision even if I don’t. Third reason, because someday I will be rewarded. Oh, and it will be a great great reward in heaven. God will bless me on earth as well according to how He sees fit. Fourth and final reason, because I trust Him. God knows what He’s doing. and I don’t need to question why. I just need to serve. I just need to make right choices. I just need to be faithful. I trust God for the rest. He knows what I need better than I do.

Guess what… it still sucks to get crapped on. Ha! Yeah, I know. So there are things you can do during those times. As you can see, I tend to blog a bit! It releases tension for me and provides a safe place to get all my thoughts out in the open. I often figure out a lesson God’s been trying to teach me after I read my own thoughts that I’ve poured out while writing. I also make sure I am resting, taking a sabbath each week, and caring for my health properly. I escape to the beach when I need to. I get some fresh air and clear my head. I do something I really enjoy for an afternoon if it’s well deserved. I call someone who I know understands or cares and just have a conversation with them. Even if it’s not extraordinarily deep it means something to have someone you care about talk to you on the phone for a bit. I take a deep breathe. I take a sip of my coffee. Eventually I find my way back to my prayer closet. I read my Bible. I ask God for wisdom. I try and move forward. It’s not easy, but it’s necessary. There’s isn’t a better way. There isn’t a short cut. Believe me, I’ve learned the hard way.

It’s troubling sometimes the amount of hardship we can expect to come. Even still I reminded that God has given me all the¬†means to make it through. If I’m filled with the Holy Spirit and my God is for me… who can be against me?

A Day to be Grateful For

A few Saturday’s ago I had work piling up on my desk (if you’ve seen my desk you know this is an expression, because there is always a crap load of crap on my desk at all times) and I had about a million things on my to do list. I have a huge, giant, enormously important event coming up in a few weeks that I should be better prepared for. It could go on…

Regardless, I decided to do the right thing – the healthy thing!- and spend the day with my soul friends (friends that are also your soul mates). If you ARE one of my few true friends you understand what it’s like to be me, or at least have an understanding. You know that I don’t just have a “job” but a life consumed with a higher calling, therefore we won’t necessarily see each other that often. Most friends hang out all the time. This is not the case with me and my friends because I don’t always have control over my time. It’s hard to live like that sometimes, but to do anything of great important or impact will almost always require a personal sacrifice. A comfortable life never makes much of a difference. However, there are times where I have to decide to be a real person and acknowledge that I have needs – I’m not superhuman. So, I dropped everything else and went apple picking with some of the most important people in my life. IT FELT SO GOOD!!!!! Even though none of my work got done that Saturday, I was fulfilled and fueled in a whole different way. My soul needed that. We need each other! God didn’t build us for relationships by accident.

Here we all are on the tractor ride headed towards those apple trees waiting to be picked!

These are my friends! Here we all are on the tractor ride headed towards those apple trees waiting to be picked!

My life long friend Nubbin (aka – Ryan, his “real” name) and his wonderful wife Ashlynn invited me on this outing to Nubbin’s favorite childhood apple picking spot up in New Hampshire. That’s one thing that New England can boast – all of our states are close together and each state can be easily traveled to for whatever seasonal adventure awaits! I could not believe I’d never heard of or been to Applecrest Farm & Orchards in Hampton Falls, NH. It was beautiful all the way up to New Hampshire, I felt like the old people who go on fall foliage tours. Once we got there and all my friends piled out of our cars in the grass parking lot and I was remind of all the other times I’d traveled with these friends. The last grassy parking lot we’d been in together was at Creation Festival for our annual trip that we all used to take. Good memories. Applecrest was like a mini-festival itself! There was so much to see, lots of farm stands, and food stands, and even a “make your own scarecrow” booth. Scarecrows…. scare the crap out of me. I guess that’s their purpose, but like, it’s not cool. You know the food is my favorite… my friends ordered delicious homemade apple pie and ice cream! I had the best cinnamon sugar cider donut EVER. It was still warm too, yummmmm!

Applecrest also had tons of fruits, veggies, and fall time food to purchase in their outdoor market. There was even different flavored honey sticks!! If you know me well you know that I LOVE HONEY STICKS! I had them growing up as a treat my mom would buy us at Topsfield Fair (see previous post) or during our own family time apple picking. Honey sticks make me feel young again. Applecrest had strawberry sticks, grape, cinnamon, apple…. MIND BLOWN!!!!! I was so pumped I had to buy nine new flavors! I also purchased their own coffee milk which was sold in a glass bottle I had to pay for as well. Of course I had to buy fresh nectarines for Clark, they are his OBSESSION. I got little pumpkins for myself as well, tis the season!

The delicious loot I left Applecrest with... all for just $20! Now you can see displayed in my kitchen at home.

The delicious loot I left Applecrest with… all for just $20! Now you can see displayed in my kitchen at home.

Applecrest was so quaint, so New England, so Fall time! Oh, and I didn’t even talk about the actual apple picking yet! It was so cool to get on the “hayride” as I called it (really just a tractor pulling us on a flatbed) and travel across the farm passing all the different crops they were growing on the way to the apple trees. Then they had what seemed like a zillion different types of apple trees to pick from. We also saw another one of our friends and their family while there, it was just a great experience all around.

apple picking collage

We had decided to bring our lunch and eat it together picnic style out in the field we parked our two cars in. I loved eating and talking together! I love picnics and we ended up actually having two this day! Ashlynn brought this Whole Foods curry chicken salad stuff… WOW! So good! There’s something about eating together that brings you closer. I felt like I was at the best family dinner table conversation ever.

It probably seems a little curious that such normal activities make me so incredibly happy. I describe almost a euphoric experience as if everything was perfect including my friends. I know this is not really the case… although it was a pretty amazing day! Lately my life has been so hectic and stressful, my soul friends were just what the doctor ordered. My only regret was that my husband was away on a business trip and didn’t get to come with us. He did fly back into Boston just in time to see out friends towards the end of the day though, so I was at least glad for that. Again, I know this type of Saturday may seem pretty regular to most, but to me it’s special. It was a day that I can look back on and be truly grateful. Thank you Lord for giving me this life, these friends, and a great support system in the midst of what has been a confusing and chaotic chapter in my life.

Sometimes you just need to let everything go and give yourself a bit of soul therapy. You have to take care of yourself. I’ve found that when I don’t do that… it’s like I’m a shell on the shore of the ocean that has been beaten down by the waves so much that it’s broken and withering away. It then becomes hard for me to be the best wife or the best mentor. Each person has different needs, this we know, but you cannot deny we all need to take care of ourselves. Self preservation is not a bad thing! For Kim… taking care of myself means being in God’s presence often, relaxing and being creative, and not overworking. It means taking time for myself and doing things that make me happy. It means being with people that make me happy. It’s the best feeling in the world to say “I can’t remember the last time I laughed this much!”.

It’s easy to become suffocated in my line of work because it’s so all consuming, it’s your whole life. You don’t even realize you’ve burnt out until you burn out. In my “field” we’ll call it… it’s even ”frowned upon” to take care of yourself. We are supposed to be taking care of others! The harder you work and the busier you are then the more effective or successful you’re being. False – and I learned the hard way. I have to be a bit of pioneer in my field and take that sabbath (funny how we easily overlook that commandment), take care of myself, and love Jesus more each day.¬†Because I have such a small amount of free time, or even unscheduled time, the “me time” gets thrown out the window. This is why it’s SO important for me to spend that precious little time with the people that are right for me. This is exactly what I talked about in my last entry. I just thank God for these friends! I’m so glad Ashlynn thought to invite me, because in the past I haven’t always been able to say “yes” as much as I’d like. I only hope the people I love keep on inviting me, despite their frustration that Clark and I can’t say yes most of the time. I’m glad I have friends that love me and love Clark. A day and a life to be grateful for. That is all.

 

Friends :)

Friends ūüôā

A few rambling thoughts and one meaningful one…

It’s unbelievable how long it’s been since my last post! Can you believe how irresponsible I’m being as a blogger? Let me tell you, friends… it’s been a really crazy 2013. Clark and I have been kept irregularly busy at work and life is speeding by a little too quickly. Our students are keeping us more occupied than they ever have before… mostly in a good way.

To quickly sum up… Since January during the winter months we’ve had SEVERAL huge snow storms and for some reason the crazy weather¬†effects¬†life here in New England. Shouldn’t we ¬†really be used to it by now?! My parents took a trip to India.¬†Can you believe they didn’t bring me with them to India? How. Rude. We did house-sit for them though, which proved a little more involved than we thought. Being home owners is time consuming!¬†My family has also been preparing for my little sister’s wedding. My family as in – me and my mom mostly. In March Clark and I are spent his birthday in NYC for a couple days then I jetted off to California for 9 days to attend a great Missions Conference at Biola University, see my sister, see my baby on American Idol, and have a good ‘ol time.

Since then I’ve been spending all of my time trying to learn from the Biola Missions experience and turn our own church’s missions experience into something really great! We are going to the next level! Then I have the youth department… we are going on five straight weeks of trips this summer…. five SEPARATE trips! I am¬†exhausted¬†just preparing for them. Two weeks of camps. Then a missions trip to Oakland, California. Then we are going to Orlando, Florida for National Fine Arts competition with our wicked talented teenagers. Then there’s days of outreaches to get prepared for on top of normal youth group duties, Crews, Sunday Schools, Drama and Worship Team. Did I mention my intern just got a job and had to turn in her two weeks notice? Wow… all of a sudden I’m feeling overwhelmed. Can’t imagine why!¬†If this seems like a lot – it’s the tip of the ice burg! Tonight, I’ll just blog a quick thought.

How I Met Your Mother... one of my top 10 shows of all time!

How I Met Your Mother… one of my top 10 shows of all time!

“Kids, sometimes you think you think you’re living out one story, ut the truth turns out to be something else entirely.” – Ted Mosby, How I Met Your Mother

Lately, I’ve become extremely aware of the differences between myself and the upcoming generation. It’s like all of a sudden everything is different and my eyes have been opened. I’m as old as I’ve ever been right now!!!! Don’t get me wrong… in no way do I ever want to return to my teenage years! My life has never been better than it is right now, I feel very blessed. However, I never thought I’d be considered an “adult” by teenagers. They don’t consider me apart of their generation, which… is true I’m not. Weird. I’m considered “old” or at least “older” than them and not in a good way like “oh em gee, you can drive us around past midnight”… I mean old as in “well, you’re older so that doesn’t count”. As if I’m allowed be cool anymore?? As if I can’t even understand what they’re going through?!?! These kids¬†literarily¬†see me as an old married woman. Disclaimer: I really do understand that I’m NOT an old woman, but in this context I totally am. Some of my students go to concerts of bands that I cannot imagine a sane person ever listening to on purpose. I am not even kidding, their band names sound a string of words pushed together from the middle of a¬†schizophrenic¬†uncle’s holiday outburst.¬†There are bands – a seemingly endless amonts of bands – whom I have never heard of and have no intention of learning about. Why don’t teenagers ever want to go to sleep… they have to get up SO early for school?!?! How did I ever do school???

If I had to turn 25... I felt awfully lucky to have this handsome man start the party of right at midnight with this delicious display!

If I had to turn 25… I felt awfully lucky to have this handsome man start the party off right! He showed up on my side of the bed at midnight with this delicious display!

Welp, here I am at the quarter century mark and I’m feeling verrrrrry different than I even did three years ago. I can’t imagine how different I’ll feel in another three years. Right now one of my “life problems” is figuring out when I’m going to have a baby. No, seriously. People won’t leave me alone about it. Remember when you’re life problem was figuring out how to purposefully “accidentally” run into your crush in the hallway? Or what a so called friend said about you in third period? I even remember in college thinking how life was hard at times… THAT WAS NOTHING!!! Being an adult is such a strange new chapter. But I wouldn’t trade it in a million years.

Recently the husb and I came to the realization that I need to get a part time job on the side. It’s a struggle and challenge to think I could do this. In the¬†beginning¬†of this blog post I just went over how insanely busy my life is. I can’t make time for another minute of work. Somehow I have to sacrifice SOMETHING – I guess even if it’s things at church or with youth – to get a another job so we can stay afloat. Getting another job is also scary because of my health. Right now my schedule is flexible and I am in charge of my own hours and projects. If I’m not feeling 100% I can work from home or¬†maneuver¬†things to work out the way I need them to. Most of the time I can get rest when I need it. Getting another job does not give me this benefit.

All this to say… I must trust in the Lord. I wish I knew what exactly He was doing. It’s strange because I feel a little conflicted… I feel like my life is so put together for the first time in history yet at the same time I don’t what the crap is going on! God has always provided and showed up just when I needed Him too. I am under the impression I’m¬†operating¬†under His will for my life. I am just following His instruction! So… why doesn’t everything work out? Why do I have to get another job? What do I give up in order to attain said job? I’m confused but I just have to trust that He has everything under control.

I guess what I’m trying to say out of all of this is… “problems” aren’t exclusive with a certain age group or life chapter. There isn’t a place you reach in life where you can sit back and say “no worries now!”. It is interesting how problems manifest during each chapter though… issues look different now and come in different packages as an adult. However, as an adult I’m able to¬†maneuver¬†problems at least slightly better. This is¬†because¬†my foundation in Christ is set… I’ve been working on our relationship for twenty years! My foundation in my marriage is also set… I can rely on my husband. I have God to lean on and because I’m older I’ve already been through many situations where God has proven Himself. So, I’ve “lived and learned” as they say and I’m a little wiser (supposedly) when it comes to handling new problems. Maybe what I should say instead is that… I can trust God a little easier. I know He will take care of me. I know He will meet all my needs.

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” Romans ¬†8:28

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” Romans 5:3-5¬†

Clervois Christmas & New Years Greetings!

Hello friends and family! You’re likely reading this because you got a¬†holiday¬†card in the mail from Clark & I! We loved putting it together and sending it to as many loved ones as we wanted we could afford! So, here’s a digital copy for those who haven’t yet seen it – this goes out to all of you LTB readers and friends!

Screen Shot 2012-12-21 at 1.26.05 AM

It reads “Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year! From Clark & Kimberly Clervois, Our Greetings at Learning to Breathe!”

These six photos we chose because each represents something that we either care about or want to share with you here. We will work from the first photo on the upper left hand corner (working counter-clockwise) to the last photo where I’m wearing the red plaid shirt!

Photo 1 Happy New Years 2012! This photo was taken on the very first day of the year! We began 2012 with Clark’s immediate family at his parent’s house located in the gorgeous Port Saint Lucie, Florida! Not a bad start to the year, right? Clark’s wonderful sister Jovi took this photo of us. I love how every year at midnight she makes a big deal when the ball drops – we have a lot of fun! We always take pictures and light sparklers in the back yard. Clark and I only get to see his parents (Bob & Carole) once a year for about a week at New Years so you can imagine how precious those days are for Clark especially. It’s good to have a relaxing “chill” time down in Florida to rest up before the next year hits. We sure are ready for our upcoming annual trip to Florida leaving next week! This will be the fifth year I’ve joined the Clervois family New Years holiday =)

Photo 2 Happy Easter! This photo was taken on (Greek) Easter Sunday at my Aunt Nancy’s house. My immediate family are all pastor’s (as you know if you are a regular LTB reader)¬†so we are working on the real Easter! A week later when things have died down, we love to celebrate with my mom’s best friend and her daughter – my cousin – Deanna and her husband Matt. I’m very grateful for my Aunt Nancy and Deanna in our lives… they are family to us even if it’s not through bloog! I especially love my Aunt Nancy because she is by far one of the wisest women I’ve ever been in contact with and I’m glad she is my mom‘s best friend. My cousin Deanna also became a Youth Worker in our The Counter Influence youth group Clark and I lead. I was so happy when DD joined our team because she can bring a lot to the table and I know she will make a difference in the lives of our young people. You can also maybe tell by the photo it’s the last time you will see our “former selves” before diet season came and weight loss happened!

Photo 3Summer is coming! This photo was taken in our hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. Clark and I moved here when we got married and have absolutely loved being apart of the Salem community. The lighthouse in the background you see is the historic Fort Pickering Lighthouse on Winter Island. This “hidden treasure” quickly became¬†one of our favorites places to be in this city. Winter Island has a fascinating history that you can read about it online if you are History nerds like me and Clark! This location of Fort Pickering was the ONLY New England port NOT to be captured during the Revolutionary War! So cool. It’s a beautiful place to tour, walk, and take pictures now! We love adventuring to different historical landmarks on our day off every week. Another reason we love Salem – so much history!¬†Salem has also become near and dear to our hearts because this past September Calvary launched our third daughter church called Remix Church where my sister and soon to be brother-in-law are both pastoring in the great city of Salem! Clark and I are so proud of Kendra and Sterling! Plus it’s nice to live only a mile from Sterling… which is also where he and Kendra will continue to live when they get married in June! Us sisters are happy about that =)

Photo 4, 5, 6 Fall has arrived and Happy Thanksgiving!¬†The summer flew by. Being full time Youth Pastors keeps us extraordinarily busy during the summer months with camps, outreaches, missions trip, and more. I’ll mention more on that in a minute! These last three pictures were taken in Bridgton, Maine (right near Naples). If you are a regular on my blog you’ve seen the posts from our family’s Thanksgiving get-away to Maine! Being there was a huge blessing. A church family member loaned us the use of their condo on the lake knowing how much we all needed rest and relaxation! Clark and I first visited this lovely place for our TWO YEAR Anniversary in September… Can you believe we’ve been married two years?! It has really flown by and we’ve loved being married more each day. We really are enjoying each other’s company and hilarity. We again visited the lakeside condo with our family for Thanksgiving and had a wonderful time, especially enjoying my sister Kendra being home from Biola University for a week. Thank God for his provision and putting wonderful friends and church family members in our lives. God always meets our needs and takes care of us. Can you also tell in this last three pictures Clark is down 50lbs and I’m down 15lbs?! We worked hard to get there. Marriage makes you eat a lot of cookies… we finally picked up on that and are trying to eat and live¬†healthier¬† We are getting there!

A few ministry (“Professional” if you will) highlights from 2012…

Our “kids” at the Ci Youth: Our students were once again named the top giving youth group to Speed the Light! We started a new small group system called “Crews” that has revolutionized our ministry and fostered much discipleship and growth. We saw many students come to know Jesus for the first time, get water baptized, join a ministry like worship or drama team, and¬†receive¬†a calling into ministry themselves. We feel incredibly blessed to Pastor the¬†amazing, hilarious, and talented students of The Counter¬†Influence. We also are extraordinarily grateful to work with an amazing volunteer youth staff who back us up in every way! We are proud to say 80% of our¬†student body¬†are in Sunday School on Sunday¬†mornings! Our kids rocked out summer camp, a missions trip to Nicaragua, outreaches to places like Revere Beach, and our latest “Next Level” Fall Retreat. Our students continue to blow us away every chance they get… and they keep us VERY busy!

For Kim:¬†In March I was able to fly to L.A. and attend Biola University’s “Missions Conference” week and was truly inspired by all they are doing for the Kingdom (you’ll see some of that come to fruition at Calvary for the Missions Convention in October 2013).¬†I was able to

Clark and I this past July on Lake Nicaragua in front of a live volcano while on our SNEMN AIM Missions trip!

Clark and I this past July on Lake Nicaragua in front of a live volcano while on our SNEMN AIM Missions trip!

really settle into my role as¬†AIM Coordinator in our Student Ministry department of Southern New England (Assemblies of God) Ministry Network – otherwise known as SNEMN. The end of last year into the¬†beginning¬†of this year I traveled to many different youth groups all over our district (MA, CT, RI) taking to students about missions and promoting our 2012 AIM Trip. In July, I lead a week long missions trip to Managua, Nicaragua (with Missionaries Ken and Kendra Doutt) with 27 SNEMN AIMer’s who were the light of the world! It was honestly one of the best missions trip of my life – God moved in INCREDIBLE ways! This year I got the opportunity to teach a Youth Ministry class at Zion Bible College and was a great first try! I would love to do more of that. I attended a Youth Ministry Symposium at Gordon College in the fall with three of our Crew Pastor’s – loved it. I got the opportunity to be a guest contributor on Question Your Doubts a blog by Dr. & Rev. Christina Powell (check out my post). Coming up for me in February 2013 I’ll be speaking a bit about our Crews and my¬†experience¬†with Youth¬†Ministry¬†in New England at the OPEN BOSTON Youth Ministry conference. Looking forward to the next year in ministry!

For Clark: Every week Pastor Clark continues to blow me away with his preaching and communciating God’s Word to our students. He is literally one of the best preachers in the world – not biased or anything ;-). Biola University seemed to agree and flew him out to speak in a chapel service this past November! He delivered the¬†message¬†God had put on his heart with passion challenging these college students to dig deeper in their faith and love for the Lord! This year Clark took an important role in the planning of our district summer camps this year as well, and he continues to serve as the Northeast Mass REP for our SNEMN Student Ministries department! He also continues to lead our youth group with¬†wisdom¬†and grace while leaning on the Lord and following His direction! Our Youth Ministry at Calvary Christian Church continues to grow and develop under Clark’s keen leadership. He’s now leading worship and training up a new generation of lead worshippers with our CI Youth Band! Clark is not only a gifted preacher, but a extremely talented¬†musician¬† Our students love and respect him so much and I know they appreciate our leadership and role in¬†their¬†lives. Check out some of Pastor Clark’s video blogs to our students here¬†or o straight to his first, second, third most recent video.

Hope you enjoyed learning about our year! The End =)

Check out my Guest Post on “Question Your Doubts”!

Hello friends! Hope you’re doing well this Christmas season – it’s really here! I have a few posts in the works for Learning to Breathe… but in the mean time please check out my guest blog post on www.questionyourdoubts.com! I was so honored that Dr. Christina Powell of QYD asked me to be a guest contributor.

Dr Powell is a brilliant scientist, writer, minister, and well known teacher. If you haven’t checked out her blog before I’m glad you’ll get the opportunity to do so now (you might even see some familiar faces in her site photos). Dr Powell, her husband, and two adorable girls have been a part of our church for many years. Her and her husband were – believe it or not! – my Sunday School teachers when I was probably 10 or 11 years old! I absolutely adored her class as a kid because it was so fun and educational at the same time! Out of all the Sunday School classes I was in through my childhood it was hers that I retained the most knowledge about the Bible to this day!

I honestly felt a little unworthy considering the company I hold with the other contributors to QYD. I am so thankful to Dr Powell for thinking of me and very grateful for this opportunity!

Tell me what you think of my post entitled “Fork in the Road” on Question Your Doubts.

Quite the Scandalous Thought

Here’s a¬†scandalous¬†thought for you… Do something for YOU! Do something for yourself. I will now describe what I do for myself and why. Be prepared!

Lately I’ve become extremely aware of how I have been living my life for the past two or three years. I’ve come into two important realizations. One – as an unpaid “volunteer” status worker [which a lot of people don’t realize] I am spending¬†upwards¬†of 55 hours a week working and over 70 hours a week during the summer. Two – every year around the fall, specifically November, I begin to feel extremely run down, exhausted, and a little burnt out. These are two things that have happened for a couple years – consistently – and I’m just now figuring out this pattern! I’m not quite sure what made me really understand and figure these things out… it’s only my own life! How did I not figure this out sooner?

Well, I see the importance of balance and maintaining a sense of control in your day to activities as to avoid going crazy! I’ve always [at least for the last five years or so] been very faithful to take a Biblically commanded sabbath day. I do not work, talk about work, or discuss ministry/work related topics on my day off. This is something that I must do in oder to keep my sabbath and honor the Lord with that time. I honor the Lord by keeping His command and by taking care of myself, my husband, and my family. This keeps me sane! Especially considering the history I come from with an “overly busy” ministry family [remember my definition of ‘overly busy’?], it’s therefore very important for me to make my day off a day of rest and true separation from work! It’s so funny to think that most non-vocational ministry adults usually get the weekend off – two and half days off! The vast majority of my friends get out of work friday evening and don’t have to go back to work until monday morning. Wow, imagine?! Pastors and ministry workers get one day, and sometimes when emergency happens not even one day a week is sacred. [Disclaimer here: Emergencies are granted, it’s a part of the job. I still love what I do, don’t worry! And don’t judge!]

I realized that even after Clark and I have been faithful in our day off’s for the last two years of marriage and two years of dating life… I still end up feeling burnt out and overwhelmed by the time the fall season hits. September and October are so busy and by November I’m totally pooped. I’m feeling absolutely no¬†motivation¬†to get back into the office. That’s where the “doing something for me” plan comes in.

Ever felt like you’re running late to something but you can’t figure out what? This is how busy I feel sometimes, can you relate?

Next year I¬†definitely¬†plan on taking some serious time off in fall, however, I don’t want to be feeling even more overwhelmed than this¬†year if I can help it. Even if I take the stress down 10% that should be helpful, right?! In the past I had some sort of “head knowledge” of the importance of doing something for yourself, but¬†historically¬†in my line of work anything other than selfless dedication at any cost really doesn’t¬†appear acceptable to anyone. Busyness is seen as accomplishment. Rest is seen as laziness. Many of you may see the¬†correlation¬†to modern society’s thoughts of¬†busyness –¬†Pastor’s have been doing it for years! I guess we’re ahead of the times. Yet sadly, this is why the rate of Pastor’s burning out and leaving the ministry every year is so high. The average youth pastorate is about nine months. I’m committed to not becoming a statistic. So let’s see… statistics [and experience] say that Pastor’s typically are overworked, underpaid, live high stress lives, and still have families and marriages to take care of. Statistics say that five years after Bible College graduation only 20% of those students are still in ministry. Twenty years after Bible College graduation only 5% of those students are still in ministry. Wow!

Basically, I use “blogging” as my outlet! This is what I do for myself. I enjoy blogging – it’s fun! I even believe I can help other people through the topics I discuss when blogging. Blogging is a great way to keep far away family members updated on your life. Blogging can become a bit time consuming [by some standards], but I don’t feel guilty about that because this is my “thing for myself”. Everyone needs something that they enjoy and do for their own¬†appreciation¬†and sanity! Enjoying this “fun” part of my life enables me to be better in my other areas of life. Blogging also requires me to think and write about my life including the things and people that matter to me… which never denies me a very self-aware¬†existence. Self awareness [if you have nay soul at all] challenges you to become a better person, which for me means a better Christ follower, better wife, better friend, better mentor. So, all in all, doing this “thing for you” can even be seen as a thing you do for your loved ones, your children, your husband, your coworkers, etc. Think of this: wouldn’t they all want you to be the best you can be? The healthiest? The happiest? The bravest? Then, take care of yourself. I promise your life will become at worst slightly more¬†manageable.

So, I blog. I take my day off extremely serious. I put the utmost importance on my weekly Thursday night date with my husband. I recognize family time on Monday night’s. I try to plan times for my friends to be together. I celebrate important life events like birthdays and anniversaries and I try to make holiday’s special [like my grandmother did for my mother]. Shouldn’t these be the basics? I put my trust in the Lord that He will give me rest and take care of the rest of my life. Did you¬†know¬†– it’s the Lord that takes care of your family? Not YOU?

‚ÄúAre you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you‚Äôll recover your life. I‚Äôll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me‚ÄĒwatch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won‚Äôt lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you‚Äôll learn to live freely and lightly.‚ÄĚ Matthew 11:28-30 The Message

Currently listening to:

Listen to this song while reading my blog post:

How incredible meaningful and inspiring is this song? I am loving it. You may already know how I feel about B’s vocal talent… she’s out of this world! Many just see her as a Destiny’s Child or another famous face. Not so. Just listen to her pure¬†unadulterated¬†live¬†performance¬†in Wynn Las Vegas for the 2011 “I Am Yours… An Intimate¬†Performance”¬† and you’ll be done for! Lots of reasons why I love Queen B but one is because she just sings the kind of music she wants too! Her latest album entitled “4” is exactly that and she’s brilliant. It’s not a bunch of amped up radio hits – it’s talent and music! I appreciate the place she’s in right now! And… watch all of her¬†performances¬†while she’s¬†pregnant… like… Go lady B!

A short side note… Any particular reason why you want to write? Are you a writer? Just something I’m wondering… needing writing advice but I really don’t want to talk about it because then I sound like one of the “trying to be creative” types who like go to coffee houses and read my slam poetry with [an actual newfound love for] my woven beanie and do the hipster thing. I have¬†inspiration¬†I’m just lacking direction at this point. That’s why a blog is nice! You can just write whatever you’re thinking or feeling that day.

Has anyone else looked back over their life and really tracked the “most meaningful” moments? Have you had any truly profound moments? I certainly hope so! It’s interesting to go back and see what people, things, or events had certain effects on me that were lasting. Do you remember the first song that gave you goosebumps? Do you remember the first time your heart hurt? Do you remember the first time you felt truly inspired enough to move?

Now… on the flipside. How have your lived your life in terms of “others”. Yes! Someone other than you. What have you done? Have you inspired anyone to do anything positive? Let’s not even talk about God (which we obviously should, I’m just saying…)… what have you been doing lately? Has it been all about you? What YOU want? Where YOU’RE going? What YOU look like? How people¬†perceive¬†YOU? If so, it’s time for an awakening to what truly lasts and matters. You may be overdue for a little reality check, you American. You don’t have to live in such a shallow hole… it’s actually really freeing out here! I promise. How about you spend some quality time with me in the ghetto working with children and teenagers. You may find you’re blessed beyond measure to live where you live. Did you forget that? ¬†Or spend time with me in a third world country [like Nicaragua or Haiti] where they literally live on nothing and the average age of death is in your late 40’s or 50’s. You may find you’re life is really not difficult but you make it hard. How about you talk to someone who is 80 years old and find out that their life wasn’t that different from yours at one time. Every day average people that you ignore may have a crazy story. It’s not all about you! Don’t ignore! Open your eyes to an entire world!

A few scattered and meandering thoughts for you tonight.