Wow. It’s been five years.
May 2012- I sat at a church plant conference thinking, “this is such great advice, but I highly doubt we will ever plant a church.” Then I wrote a blog post to help me remember what I learned…just in case.
Turns out we needed the advice more than we could predict. Little did we know that five years later, our hair would be on fire too, as we are about celebrate our first year together as a church.
We had just a blink to plant SOMOS CHURCH LAKELAND (about 3 weeks) and we’ve got another blink to prepare for the grand opening of the renovated building we will be moving into (hello July 29, 2017) but there’s something beautiful that happens when we have less time than we think we need. We get creative, we get resourceful, we trust more than we ever thought we could. All of this is good. And we’re stoked.
At the same time, we get tired and our kids watch us get loaned out to other kids and families for a year. We love it. I think God wired us to be pretty good at it. However, ALL of it needs to PAUSE for our kids, for our hearts, for each other.
Taking my girls on adventures is one of my favorite things in life. I’ve been traveling a bit more over the last three years with the beautiful and diverse Church of the Nazarene. Lately, I’ve been able to take the kids with me on a few work trips (Kirra to Brazil, Mya to Canada) Sometimes I still can’t believe that we have this privilege or that it feels normal to fly 15+ hours, come home, sleep 3 hours, and then do it all over again. I love the way God has shaped this life of ours and helped me make decisions that keep us in ministry. This post about how we can be healthier in ministry.
Because there were days when I missed home and felt like the Delta seat had literally molded to my body. There were days I was in physical pain. There were days if I wondered if anyone understood what if felt like to walk around in an airport by yourself thousands of miles away from home. Those moments didn’t come often, but when they did, I would think–I’m going to get a junk ton of miles out of this journey–both in my faith and in my delta account and when I do, we’re going to get away–TOGETHER.
Well, Delta’s flyer program gave us this gift much sooner than we expected, so this weekend, our family will travel to Eastern Europe–on miles! THANK YOU DELTA!!!
We we get to go on a caper like no other.
I’m not ashamed or going to hide the fact that our family needs a break. I am proud of us as a family for making breaks like this a priority. I don’t think we would have done as well over the last 16 years in full time ministry if we wouldn’t have purposefully got the heck out every year. Even if it was a simple trip to the beach or a walk away from our phones, withdrawing together for an hour, or for a day, and every now and withdrawing for many days at time. Rest and recovery has been a game changer for us.
I have been around Christian leaders who are timid to share the fact that they are leaving for a Sunday or taking a nice vacation. Humility is a good thing. We need more of it. What we don’t need are pastors pretending that they don’t need a break, pretending that they don’t have priorities for their families, or pretending that the blessings don’t exist. Help me Jesus if I ever pretend that we don’t have needs, that we aren’t tired, that we aren’t ready for a rest. I don’t want to be a pastor that hides this priority of Sabbath and of loving our family first. We need to be together–alone–sometimes.
We want to be a generous, sacrificial, dreaming, visionary, magnetic missionary family.
Why else would we plant a church?
But we also want to be a family who sees, hears, listens, laughs, rests, explores, and is present with each other first.
So, Thank you Delta –for the reward flights. We’ll be visiting Denmark, Finland, Estonia, Russia, and Sweden. We’ll stay in AirBnB’s and get on a boat, and walk through some castles. We won’t be working, it’s the sweet revenge our souls need.
We love you SOMOS Church–we love you so much that we aren’t willing to let each other go in the process.
Thank you for celebrating this about us, for encouraging us to do it, for taking care of the things that we usually take care of, and for rallying around this idea that our story is important too.
And for those of you still wondering what sweet revenge is, take a look at the post I wrote five years ago about how to raise your kids in the church, revenge is sweet–when you value the church who loves you and knows that you have needs too.
Original Post: May 12, 2012
Last week I spent an hour with Bill Hybels and his daughter Shauna Niequist. She shared some things her parents did to help her have faith as an adult. She didn’t always want to live the way her parents had modeled or asked (does anyone ever do this?) and their journey was revealing and helpful to see how a child can boomerang back with a zeal for the things she once tried to walk away from. Her insights were pure and spot on. Bill’s responses to her insights were wildly transparent, honest, and honoring to his daughter, son, and wife.
I’ve been thinking about it for over a week now after their time with us. It’s hit me at a time in my life when I’m weighing the importance of certain things over others. Because of some of the stories they shared, my view of parenting as a leader in the church needs to be adjusted. I’m grateful for the way they shared. So grateful for the body of Christ.
Some things I’m going to adjust and some things I want to start doing:
1) Put the fire out.
Seriously, my hair is on fire most of the time. It’s time to take a calmer approach to parenting and realize that it’s ok to not be perfect. It’s ok to not get some things right sometimes. And it’s better to realize and accept these things in conversations with our families in stead of trying to cover them up, band-aid, or fan the flames.
2) Make it clear that my children are not employees of the church.
They are members of our family. They are members of the community of faith. I would love for them to feel that way more than they feel like they have to be involved because we are involved.
3) Make our house a shelter
It’s important to me to let there be more private moments that are cherished between us–making our house a sanctuary and a safe place to live and grow. There might be a day when we ask people to please call before they “drop by”. There might be a day when we don’t send Christmas cards to everyone in the church. There might be a day when our kids don’t sit on the front row with us.
4) Give my kids some space to walk their own spiritual paths
I feel like I do this when I don’t make Kirra pray at night. Often times she doesn’t want to, so I don’t make her. I want to give her and Mya space to learn and grow at their own pace. She’ll learn to pray as she watches us, and she’ll figure it out in her own way.
5) Don’t ask “what will the church think”?
I hope that my children know that I’m willing to do life with them on their terms. I don’t want to ever break relationship with my children when they struggle. What Bible tells us to yell, throw tantrums, slam doors, refuse to talk to each other, avoid hard conversations, ignore one another? I really don’t want any of this to happen in our house. And I need community to help me stay away from the default mode of isolation in this. Ah, how I ruin progress so often with self-inflicted murmuring. I want to be a part of a community that will help me push through on this, not give up, and have conversations with us.
6) Talk about the joys and privileges of being a part of the church
I want the positives they hear to outweigh the garbage. I want that “extra vacation” week the day after Christmas (thank you church!) to be what Bill and his family liked to call “sweet revenge”. When we’re right there in the middle of intense ministry times, when every weekend before Christmas is spent, and when my kids are lending me out to other church kids. I hope we can say, as we float away on rafts in the gulf of Mexico, that yes, revenge is sweet!
7) Make traditions
I’ve always been a big fan of celebrating BIG on birthdays. I guess because there were a few birthdays when I felt invisible. I want to celebrate with my children. Pray with them. Laugh so hard that we pee a little. New Year’s Eve will be a time when we rally together and share the blessings of our year. I love the thought of sitting down together when they are older and rallying around all that God has done in our lives each year. Thanksgiving will be better for it. Vacation will be better for it. We’ll all be healthier, happier, holier for it.
Thank you Bill and Shauna. Thank you for giving me a glimpse into the future to see what we could have. Thank you for setting an example for us, sharing your experiences so we wouldn’t be at the end of our ropes. I want to tell a story like yours. When I’m decades into ministry and both of our daughters are joyfully serving Christ. I’ll say, thank you Lord for people who were willing to be vulnerable, transparent, and honest about what it’s like and how we might be able to learn from it. Thank you from my heart for this special gift.