I'm married to a guy I'm in love with and we have two amazing fraternal twin toddlers. I am, raising two little people who are my greatest joy, my greatest accomplishment, and the best treasure of my life. The way I see it, when you walk with Jesus you always win. This is my journey to motherhood, through motherhood, and through life.
So for Spring Break, I thought it would be fun to write a light-hearted post! I was going to write about my top favorite pranks to play on my husband, but I’ll have to save that for another day! If you know me personally, then you very likely know my husband Jose as well and today’s post goes out to him and the 10 things I love about him.
We were married in 2009 and will be celebrating 9 years this summer and the big 1-0 next year. Time flies when you’re having fun, literally. My husband isn’t perfect, but there are so many things I love about him and I wanted to write about that today!
10 things I love about my husband:
1. He’s hysterical.
I’m super biased, but my husband is one of the funniest people I know. A huge part of it is because he’s so blunt and honest (which is my next point) but he also doesn’t mind making a fool of himself to make me laugh which I always appreciate! This may include turning a simple thing such as cleaning into a Broadway show or just acting like a fool, but he always makes me laugh. One time, he was dancing and trying to make me laugh so hard that when he dropped to the floor to show off a dance move his pants split down the middle. We both couldn’t stop crying laughing.
2. he’s extremely blunt.
This is one of his best and worst features, but something that I actually truly appreciate! What he feels is usually what he will say. I love this feature (even though sometimes it drives me insane) because I know that he will call me out if I need to be called out and he will always be truthful with me. If he doesn’t like something, I’m not going to have to guess it. I also know that if I need to tap out and tap him in on something, he will have my back.
3. he can sing. and play piano. and play guitar. and do all the things.
Before I had a boyfriend, I made a huge long list that I actually wrote down about everything I wanted in a guy. I think it came down to 96 things, not kidding! One of the top things I really wanted was to date someone who could sing or was musical because I come from a musical family. All of my extended family and my immediate family play instruments or can sing. That being said, when I first heard Jose sing when we were teens I CRIED like a complete dork! Gosh, teenage Natalie was such a nerd and had it bad! He’s a natural singer but he’s not a natural musician. Everything that he’s learned he has taught himself or has learned from YouTube which I find all the more impressive. My favorite instrument that he plays is the piano, even though he gets annoyed when I say that.
4. he’s a leader.
Typical firstborn son, he’s a natural born leader. It’s just who he is and who he’s always been. Teenage Natalie found it very attractive and 31-year-old Natalie still loves this about him. Peer pressure won’t work on him and he doesn’t care what’s cool or not cool…he’s going to march to the beat of his own drum (or more like, march to the beat of his Jesus drums) because he is firm in his convictions and beliefs, no matter what the cost.
5. he’s a hard worker.
When I met Jose and started dating him, he got his first job at Walgreens. He worked his way up as a cashier to eventually an assistant manager for the course of 10 years. During that time, he paid for our wedding, our first year of marriage, and basically funded my life while I was out there trying to get a teaching job.
He’s always done an amazing job of taking care of me and our family even if it meant doing a job he didn’t like. He’s never above doing whatever he needs to do to provide for our family and to take care of us and I appreciate that so much for so many reasons! On top of that, he helps pastor our church and always prioritizes our family. Sometimes I get tired looking at his schedule, but I admire how hard he works and his passion in EVERY AREA (home, church, work!)
6. he’s resilient.
There’s so much that my husband has endured or has gone through that most of the world will never know about. Recently he was talking to a police offer from his hometown when he was getting a haircut.
They were talking about an area of Millville that he grew up in that was horrendous and is still bad up to this day. When the officer asked him what he’s doing with his life and Jose shared with him, he said “You see? People with that life and upbringing can either go one way or another.” I’m so glad that he refused to let his circumstances dictate what the rest of his life would look like. My husband bought me my first home, takes care of me financially, emotionally, and in every way, and recently bought me a new car. I say this not to boast just in him but to boast in a God who can take a past and turn it around to an awesome future.
7. he can cook and clean better than i can.
I DO NOT ENJOY COOKING, CLEANING, OR ORGANIZING. I DESPISE IT. This doesn’t mean that when I do it, I do it with misery but it’s not my natural forte! Meanwhile, my husband lives for every Gordon Ramsay show there is! He studies it and then tries to copy it. For me this means I get to try a lot of amazing meals! He’s also so much better and faster at cleaning than I am! I’m not complaining! He’s never above cooking or helping me out and for that, I just have to do a happy dance.
8. he’s loyal.
Probably his best feature of all! When my husband is in something, he’s in it. If he’s with you, he’s with you. And if he’s on your side, he’s on your side. If he said he was going to do something, he’s going to do that something. He’s a ride or die type of guy who will stick with you through the good, the bad, and the ugly. The wrong people have exploited this feature, the right people have caused this character trait to flourish in all of the best ways. I love his intense loyalty to those he loves.
9. he’s a dreamer.
My husband has big God dreams and big God goals. Sometimes they are so big that they are super scary to me! He always comes with different ideas. My immediate reaction is to think of all the ways it’s not possible, but being married to him for almost 9 years has taught ME to dream. It’s brought out the dreamer in me, the yes in me, and the why not? And its stretched my faith in some of the best ways possible. Its pushed our church, our family, and ourselves! My prayer is that He will see EVERY SINGLE God-dream come to pass. He’s been so faithful.
10. he loves jesus and it’s real.
I love that my husband’s faith is real. He’s not a stuffy religious type of Christian…he’s the real deal, imperfections and all. It’s the kind of faith that withstands when LIFE GETS REAL and trust me, it’s gotten all too real so many times. I love that when the going gets tough, he can be honest about what he feels but he always points our family in the right way.
It’s so important to be firmly planted in Jesus. How does this happen? Read on.
Rooted in Him. It’s a term we’ve heard before but what does it actually mean?
I love this verse in Psalms that says:
‘Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord , meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.’ Psalms 1:1-3
This verse is such a beautiful verse.
Oh, how HAPPY people are who don’t follow terrible people or join in with people who are always talking about others and making fun of other people. Instead, they take joy in God’s word and think about it daily, day in and day out. As a result of this…
They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.’ Psalms 1:1-3
What does it mean to be rooted in him?WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE COMMIT TO A LIFE OF BEING ROOTED IN WHERE GOD HAS ME AND WHAT HE HAS CALLED ME TO DO?
1. YOU BEAR FRUIT EACH SEASON.
What does it mean to bear fruit each season? The bible says that we will know someone according to the fruit they bear in their lives.
‘A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit. ‘ Matthew 7:17
If you are reading God’s word, thinking about it day in and day out, and choosing to spend time investing in the right things you are are going to bear the fruit of that. Why? Because a person who does this is like a tree planted near a riverbank. What does water do for a tree? It gives life to that tree. What does God’s word do for our lives? It gives us LIFE! These people produce good fruit in their lives. What kind of fruit do we want to bear as people who love Jesus?
‘But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!’ Galatians 5:22-23
In other words, when we do these things [and note: WE DO THESE THINGS BECAUSE WE LOVE JESUS. WE READ HIS WORD BECAUSE WE LOVE HIM!] the Holy Spirit produces some amazing fruit in our lives. It’s so important to note that it’s The Holy Spirit that can do this and only His spirit. It’s not something we can manufacture on our own, but through reading His word and through His spirit, we begin to see that we are filled with joy! We have love and can face every day with peace. Also, we start to see we have patience with people and are kind to the people around us. We see goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and even self-control! All because we are rooted in Christ.
2. Your leaves never wither.
Because you are planted in Jesus, your leaves never wither. Why? Because you’re planted along that riverbank. You’re thriving because you are consistently thinking about His word, reading His word, and bearing fruit in your life. This means when the storms of life come and hit you hard, you are not moving. Your leaves are not withering. You may not feel prepared for the storm, but you know that if you cling to Jesus and His word you will make it to the other side.
3. YOU PROSPER IN ALL YOU DO.
I just love this promise! What does prosper mean in Hebrew context? It means: to be complete or sound, successful in all you do, to be quiet, at ease, HAPPY.
In the modern day context, we automatically associate the word prosperity with finances, but I love how in the biblical context it meant so much more than that! A person who delights in His promises finds success, a sound mind, peace, and happiness. This verse is talking about more than temporal joy or happiness, it’s that eternal happiness that you simply cannot be robbed from even when life is hard.
‘“I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. ‘ John 14:27
4. IN OTHER WORDS, YOU FLOURISH.
You can read self-help books. You can speak to pastors, leaders, doctors, friends, parents, colleagues, you name it, but the clearest read on success is found in this Psalm. This is the kind of success that goes beyond the surface and the kind of success you can be armed with for a lifetime. ROOTED IN HIM. Allow yourself to be rooted in Christ and you will find a firm foundation to hold on to when the storms of life come your way. When you are hit with a debilitating illness. When you lose a job, a home, a spouse.
I leave you with this:
“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. ‘ Matthew 7:24-25
Listening to His teaching means reading His word and applying it to our lives. Making it the guide through which our lives are led by. YOUR LIFE WON’T COLLAPSE WHEN THE TRIALS COME BECAUSE IT’S BUILT ON THE FOUNDATION OF JESUS! I write that in caps because it’s the most powerful truth and it’s saved my life SOOOO many times.
I write this to encourage you but when I write, it ministers to me too because God brings new things to light that I didn’t think about or even see before. Challenge yourself to: think about God’s word, read it, and allow yourself to be firmly rooted in Him. #immovable
You know. This is that magical unicorn of a person who will make all of your wildest dreams come true and fulfill every single thing about love you’ve ever heard. That term can feel like a lot to live up to! Also, it doesn’t happen like that even if you do find “the one.” But really though, how do you know if the person you are dating is “the one” or “just someone.”
I think there are some very real/practical things you can use to help guide you through the process.
6 Practical Questions to ask yourself regarding “The one”:
These are some questions you can ask yourself to help you determine if “the one” is “just someone” in this season of your life and not for you. Save yourself from heartache and ask yourself the hard questions, you will be thankful in the end.
Have I prayed about this? What has God spoken to my heart about this?
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it? Jeremiah 17:9 NIV
The heart is deceitful. You’ve heard the saying, “Follow your heart” but the better saying is, “Follow the Holy Spirit.” PRAY! This is step number one and the most important one! Prayer should be the absolute foundation of ANY decision you make regarding what I consider to be the most important choice of your life: who you will marry. If you aren’t praying about this decision, please do. Choosing who you will spend the rest of your life with is one of the most essential decisions of your life that can set you on the course for great things or can completely deter you from that. WHO YOU MARRY MATTERS.
Don’t be convinced otherwise.
What does your family/someone you love or respect have to say about it?
What do other people say about this person’s character? Do they have a good reputation? I’m reminded of Proverbs 31 and want to point out two times it mentions the reputation of the virtuous woman’s husband and the woman herself.
‘Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.’ – Proverbs 31: 23
This woman’s husband was respected by others and sat among the seat of the elders of the land, which was considered a place of honor and his name was associated with having good character (partly because he had a wife who had amazing character too).
Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘ Proverbs 31:28
Yes, this is referencing a couple who are married but this makes the point that much more clear: you WANT to marry a person of good character and reputation because it will impact your children and future generations. This woman’s children called her blessed, her husband had nothing but good things to say about her. Reputation is vital!
Does he/she challenge you to be better?
The person you marry should be someone who challenges you and calls out the best in you. You may feel challenged to be a better person without so much as a verbalization, but you are inspired to be better because of who they are. For example, if you are dating someone who has integrity and knows how to carry themselves you may feel inspired to live a life of integrity as well without so much as a word being said. You feel challenged around them in the best way possible and want to be the best version of yourself that you can be. That is a really good sign.
Does he/she encourage you to draw closer to God?
At the end of the day, your walk with the Lord is your responsibility and hopefully your priority. This is not something you can pin on someone else. However, it is important that you are with someone who encourages you by the way that they live and as a result, makes you want to draw closer to God.
Jose will typically ask me what I’m reading or will share something he is reading or something he finds inspiring. It may be a verse, a sermon, a worship song, or something from his heart. His heart for me is that I know God and walk with Him in every area of my life. As a result, he helps me in practical ways. In a day that’s busy, he will allow me to have that time that is set apart. He’ll say, “hey do you want to sing some worship songs with me tonight?” and it’s the little things. He’ll call me out if he has to and I do the same thing to him but it makes my heart at peace to know that I’m married to someone who will push me in the right direction and encourage me.
Does he/she establish and respect boundaries?
As a couple, it’s important to establish boundaries that will protect yourselves and honor God. This means having a conversation about what is okay and what is not okay in your relationship and sticking to it. Does he honor those boundaries and help you both to stick to them? Or is he constantly pushing the envelope or justifying reasons why it’s okay to break those boundaries? If someone really loves you, they will respect you and honor your heart. They will protect your relationship and put aside selfish interests. If they don’t, you need to analyze whether or not his actions truly match up with how much “he loves you.”
Is this person trustworthy?
If you do not trust the person you are with, you will have a hard time building a solid relationship. To build a relationship without trust is like building a house on sand. When the winds and the storms of life come or when “crap gets real” the whole thing will fall over. You HAVE to be able to trust your future spouse. You do not want to be in a marriage where you are lurking over his/her shoulder and always wondering about them. That’s not fun for anyone! If there are issues of concern, address them immediately and with complete and total honesty. If this is a consistent and continuous issue, then you need to pray and consider pulling the plug. A lifetime is too long to be with someone you don’t trust and vice versa.
What other things should you ask yourself? These six things are things that I considered really important. I put a lot of value on each one for me personally. I hope this helps someone, particularly a person who wants to have a godly relationship that flourishes.
I haven’t posted a thrifty post for awhile and I figured now is the time! I thought I would share some of the ways we cut our spending time when we are trying to save. As a teacher who doesn’t work in the summer typically, it’s important for us to save for the summer! There are usually a few points during the year where I try to slash on major spending in order to expedite the savings process for the summer. What do you do when you’re trying to cut your spending in half? These are things I’m either currently doing or have done in the past, particularly if I’m saving or trying to reach a goal. They’ve worked for me in the past. Let me know what you do and what works for you in the comment section!
1. Go on a spending freeze.
This is the number one most obvious way to save money. Simply stop spending it. You can go on a freeze for a month or a week. I have never done one for an entire month but I have done it for a week or so and you can save a LOT of money this way. You literally stop spending any more for a designated period of time. You can even do a “No Spend” weekend. There are really cool ways to do it and I recommend you check out funcheaporfree.com or livingwellspendingless.com. These sites will give you practical ways to implement this! I’ve also written before about a spending freeze.
2. stop eating out.
This is a really easy way to spend money too. Stop eating out. I get it, you don’t feel like cooking. That’s me probably 99% of the time but going out to eat often will add up. A dinner for four can cost at least fifty dollars. Eating out at places like Chick-Fil-A can run upwards of thirty dollars. If you are going out to eat at least once or twice a week you are spending close to $400 on eating out. This is money that can go to savings or to paying down debt. If you feel bad about turning an invitation down, tell your friends/family in advance. Let them know you are on a journey to save money and if they love you, they will respect that.
3. cook what’s in your pantry/fridge/freezer.
This lends itself to my next point. Cook what’s in your pantry, fridge, or freezer. I don’t know about you, but I know I have a lot of different ingredients in my pantry, fridge, and freezer. Half of which I never get to before I buy more things. Get creative and start making some unique meals! Use Pinterest, look up some recipes, or just come up with something on your own. Start cooking what you have and you’ll see that you likely have some meals you can get out of it! Make it a mission or a competition between you and your spouse, who can come up with the best meal with the following ingredients?
4. wear what you own and get creative.
I am super guilty of spending on clothes. I won’t necessarily spend a lot at once but a little bit here and there and it adds up!
If you’re bored with your outfits, try to accessorize and change things up. I like to look online for different ways to wear the same piece (8 ways to wear a button up, etc) and try to get inspiration. If it’s hard for you to not spend money on clothes, do what I do when I’m trying not to spend: avoid those stores! If you, like me, know you can’t go into Target without browsing the women’s clearance section and picking up an item or two, then don’t go. You can even do a clothing swap with friends or a jewelry swap. I love taking second-hand clothing from my girlfriends because even though it’s old for them, it’s new for me and most importantly FREE.
5. shop at discount groceries stores and/or shop around.
I have been tapping into this lately. My grocery bill is always so much money! Every two weeks I must spend close to $200 or more on grocery shopping. This may not seem like a lot for a family of four but I hate spending that much. I always think to myself there has to be a better way! Here’s what I’ve found:
Shop the grocery stores when they have sales. Stock up on sale items. If the item is not on sale, don’t buy it or try to get it somewhere cheaper.
Check out stores like LIDL or Aldi’s. My town just got the store LIDL’s and it’s literally amazing and SO CHEAP. Better yet, the food doesn’t taste cheap. My fave things to get here: Juices, Spices, Frozen Fruit, Strawberries, and a whole other load of things. They also have a fresh bakery that’s yummy.
Walmart/Target/Amazon Pantry/BJ’s/Jet [online wholesale]. Shop around and use coupons but I will shop at either of these, with Wal-Mart as a last resort, but yes, it’s pretty cheap.
6. switch your phone plan.
We were part of AT&T and loved their service. Even now I can’t say anything bad except for the fact that our phone bill fluctuated all of the time. It was crazy high many times! We switched over to T-Mobile and now our phone bill is the same each month and we have good service. Shop around for what works for you, but if you don’t like your phone bill, change it and shop around for different services.
7. cut out the extras.
Go through and see how many monthly subscriptions you have and how many you actually use. Ask yourself if it’s a need or a want and if it’s a want, how bad do you want it?When we are trying to save or do an extreme cutdown in spending I will cut our subscriptions. Adobe Lightroom? Bye. Amazon Prime? Bye. Kindle Unlimited? See ya! Gym subscriptions? You would be surprised at how much comes out of your account from monthly subscriptions, some of which you do not use. When we have reached our savings goal, I decide what I want to subscribe to again. We’ve even cut cable before because the TV bill can be an expensive one. If you choose that, find a deal where you pay for internet only and subscribe to one streaming group.
8. analyze your bank account.
Look at your bank account and analyze it. If you do online banking, it will actually chart your spending. At least my bank does it. If your bank doesn’t use it, use a money tracking app like mint.com to see where you are spending. Find out where most of your money goes. Maybe it’s not to food but it’s to books. Maybe it’s not shopping but it’s the coffee you pick up every morning. Look for patterns of spending and see what you can eliminate or cut down on. There is also a new app called Albert that will analyze your accounts and help you save each week a set amount. I’m new to it so I can write a future post about it once I’ve had more experience using.
9. have fun but do it for free.
FREE. What a fabulous word! You can still have fun for free! I promise you that you can! There are SO MANY THINGS you can do that will cost you absolutely nada. Suggestions: check out your community calendar of free events, do something outdoorsy with your family (biking, picnic, playing games), go to a local park or explore parks in surrounding towns, invite friends over for a game night and ask everyone to bring a dish and a game, movie night with friends or as a family, read a book together, work on art together (music, actual art), cook a new meal with your spouse or on your own, the list goes on.The point is society has sold us on the idea that money=happiness and fun. You can still have both without breaking the bank and you can do it for free.
10. If you have to buy, only buy at the maximum sale price and then stock up and buy using ebates when possible.
If you’ve researched how to save money on groceries, you’ve heard of the term “stockpile.” While I do not go crazy stockpiling (meaning I do not have a separate room/garage dedicated to a stockpile) I will utilize the simple trick of stocking up on something when it’s on sale. For example, my family eats cereal every single day. Particularly, Cheerios. When Cheerios go on sale for 1.77 as opposed to almost $4 a box, I make sure I stock up on those items. The sales rotate every few weeks and if you stockpile appropriately, it will last you until the next sale and you can avoid ever paying full-price for the item. You will save in the long-run. This goes the same for clothes or any other items I might need. If I have to buy clothes for the family, you better believe I will only buy on a sale where the store is 50% off or more or the clearance is an additional 50% off. In addition to that, I will only shop using Ebates. I’ve earned $156 so far and counting! If I have to purchase, I may as well get money back! This is the same for the Ibotta app as well.
What do you like to do to cut your spending in half? Have you ever gone on a “No Spend” weekend or have you ever done a freeze before?
This Wednesday we have our night of worship coming up at our church. I’m really excited. First off, I love nights of worship. I don’t think there’s anything better or comparable to lifting up the name of Jesus and joining with other people in setting our eyes on someone who is so much bigger. With the Eagles winning the Superbowl [YAY EAGLES!] and the exuberance from its fans: fans literally stayed in the streets all night with excitement, joy, and straight up exhilaration at this amazing team finally taking the win. It was historic. You couldn’t stop them even if you tried!
Yet how many times do we allow hard times and difficult circumstances to silence our gratitude? I have been there! It’s so easy to express praise and thanks to God when everything is going well. We feel like our needs are being met, we feel like we are getting everything off our checklist. We look around and see blessing upon blessing.
But what happens when everything is ripped out from under you? What happens when you lose someone that you love? When you or someone you know is suddenly diagnosed with cancer? When you lose your job? When life just doesn’t seem fair? What’s your response?
For a long time, I would allow circumstances to dictate my response to God. If things were going my way, I could get my praise on at the drop of a hat. It was sooo easy to express gratitude. My life plan was going exactly how I wanted it to go. Graduated from college, married to my high school sweetheart, first home purchase, new job: life is perfect. But then came the next phase in my life plan: babies. Then came something unexpected we had to deal with: infertility. IVF. Shots. Appointments. Pregnant. Not pregnant. Preemie babies. Sick babies. Job loss. To curse God or to praise Him?
Every day we are faced with an opportunity to choose praise. I’ve made it a life commitment to choose praise even when it hurts or when it’s hard and I hope you’ll do the same. It will change your life.
Why My Praise Can’t Be Silenced
1. I know what God has done for me.
Jesus laid His entire life down for me. That alone is enough for me to have a praise break! When you think about who He is: that’s enough to have a dance party! Now add to it and start thinking about all of the ways He’s shown His faithfulness in your life. I’ve written about the power of REMEMBERING WHAT GOD HAS DONE FOR YOU! REMEMBER.
2. I know it’s a weapon.
Praise makes the devil mad. Darkness trembles at the name of Jesus. When we choose worship in the face of horrible circumstances, we are saying we know that God is in control! That He is unchanging! Here’s what the bible has to say about it:
‘We are human, but we don’t wage war as humans do. We use God’s mighty weapons, not worldly weapons, to knock down the strongholds of human reasoning and to destroy false arguments. We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ. ‘ 2 Corinthians 10:3-5
3. praise takes the focus off of me and onto god.
The world does NOT revolve around us. Contrary to what culture dictates to us. There’s something about worship. When you worship and truly engage, you are taking the focus off of yourself and onto someone who is bigger, greater, higher. Jesus. The Bible tells us that we can lay down our burdens and all of the things that make us feel so heavy. It can be challenges of work, sickness, pain, sadness. Jesus calls us to Him and tells us:
‘“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 28:30
I just want to encourage someone today. Maybe you feel like your fighting a battle, you’re tired, worn out, weary. This is NOT the time to shrink back. This is the time to stand strong in who God is and in His mighty power. This is an opportunity to choose praise and to press on. To keep fighting. To keep declaring who God is in the midst of the impossible.
I love you all so much, faithful readers. My heart is for you and for you to experience the working power of God in every aspect of Your life. If you are a local, I would love for you to join me for our night of worship tomorrow at 7 pm! You can check out all the details here.
I’m a Pastor’s kid. Being involved in ministry from a young age through teen years and into my adult years, I feel like I’ve seen so much, both good and bad. I’m not a seasoned veteran, yet, I still feel like I can offer some words on this subject. My goal here is to encourage anyone who feels like they are burned out and want to quit. Why? Because I’ve been there myself! There are times I’ve wanted to run to the other end of the earth and just live under a rock for awhile avoiding people, ministry, and the responsibilities that come with leading.
I have watched families in ministry bloom and blossom. I have watched and experienced the toll that ministry can also take on a family if there are no boundaries in place. If you don’t stay close to God’s heart and cling to HIM, it can chew you up and spit you out. It can leave you broken and your family broken. I believe that there are practical things that you can do to protect yourself from ministry burnout and I’m going to share a few things I think work. These are things I’ve learned and have also OBSERVED from people I truly respect and admire!
how to avoid ministry burnout:
Remember the why.
Remember why you are in ministry in the first place. I hope that if you’re in ministry it’s because you feel like God has called you to do it. Whether that’s lead worship, lead children in children’s ministry, work on the logistical aspects of the church- go back to your why. WHY are you here? How did you end up here?
‘But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.’ 1 Peter 2:9
For me, I know that God has called me to lead. Whether that’s through worship or leading people, I know in the bottom of my soul, that I’ve been called to do that and it’s what God wants me to do. How do I know that? It’s what I’m passionate about. When I feel like running away, I remember the why. God’s called me to do it.
Remember the who.
This is the most important! Ministry for the sake of ministry is utterly POINTLESS! I am involved in ministry because I love Jesus. Because I love Jesus, I love people. Because I love people, I want to see people thrive in their relationships with Him. As a result, I can always go back to the fact that everything and anything I do is for the glory of God. Not man and not for myself. I’m not interested in building the name of Natalie.
‘So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. ‘ 1 Corinthians 10:31
And another favorite:’
But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.’ Acts of the Apostles 20:24
Ministry is about Jesus. If ever you get to a point where it’s not about Jesus, I daresay run.
Create healthy boundaries.
This actually ties into a topic of rest. What I mean by this is create a perimeter around yourself. Don’t allow people access to you at every moment of the day. I don’t mean ignore an emergency, a death in the family, a serious issue: what I do mean is if it can wait then let it wait. An article I read here explains it even better than I can.
Prioritize your family.
This is where so many people and families get it so horribly wrong. They prioritize ministry FIRST over their family and over everything. If you can’t do ministry with your family, don’t sacrifice your family trying to minister to the world while they’re dying. My greatest regret would be that I poured my entire life out for others but neglected those closest to me (Jose, Micah, Josiah) and I’m determined not to live like that. I’ve experienced the effects of this and it’s not worth the amount of devastation that it leaves behind. Trust me!
But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers. – 1 Timothy 5:8
Prioritizing your family means that you show your family that they are important and valued. Time with them is important. Set aside a specific day of the week that’s considered “sacred” family time. This means that nothing and no one interrupts it.
Prioritize times of rest.
This one is essential. Yet this is one of the top things that are neglected. Without rest, you will burn out quickly. The Bible often talks about the Sabbath, a day where people would take out time for rest and reverence to the Lord. I think it’s important that as people involved in ministry, you prioritize periods of rest so that you DO have something to offer the world. It’s important to know that people will take all that you are willing to give them until you are dry. It’s not their intention but it’s part of human nature. Unless you make rest a time of importance and schedule it into your busy schedule, you will feel dry, empty, and flat out TIRED.
Mark 6:31 Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
I am a big fan of getaways, small or big. If I have a break as a teacher and finances allow it, I always try to plan a 2-3 getaway where we can actually remove ourselves from our surroundings and take time together as a family. Times of rest don’t have to be dramatic and should be regular. Carve it into your day, week, or month. Find a way to include it in there.
Surround yourself with the right people.
YOU ARE WHO YOU SURROUND YOURSELF WITH. Show me a man’s friend’s and I’ll show you who he is. These are sayings and cliches that you’ve heard before. The Bible puts it this way:
‘Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” ‘ 1 Corinthians 15:33
When you are involved in ministry, people are watching you. There are many who are watching to see if or when you will mess up. Not everyone is cheering you on. It’s so important to make sure that you spend time with the right people. People who are toxic or are not a good friend will drain more life away from you. They will leave you burned out with nothing left to give. Protect yourself from that. Find people who will speak life when you feel like death. People who will bring out the gold you have within you.
If you can connect with someone who has done ministry well, connect with them and learn from them. What did they do right? What did they do wrong? Listen to their stories and examples of success, failure, and how to do better. I personally love to talk to people who I admire who have a family they love, have a great marriage, and have a ministry that’s thriving and have LONGEVITY. Time is a great teacher. Learn from the mistakes of others and the victories and use it to help veer you on the right path.
Most importantly, Prioritize your time with God. doing ministry does not equal spending time with God.
I think sometimes we equate being busy for God as an equivalent to actually spending time with God. THIS DOESN’T SUBSTITUTE YOUR ACTUAL TIME WITH THE LORD. You will quickly burn out if you are not connected to The Father.
‘But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. And they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion.’ Isaiah 40:28-31
Those that trust in God find NEW STRENGTH. They run and don’t get tired! If you get anything from this post, this is the most important thing. Trust in the Lord, rest in Him, and He will strengthen you so that you can keep running the race with joy.
Thanks for reading along! Do you feel like you’re burned out and ready to throw in the towel? Find rest, take time to seek and pray, and continue to fight the good fight of faith.
‘But then I recall all you have done, O Lord ; I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago. They are constantly in my thoughts. I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.’ Psalms 77:11-12
Tonight as I was listening to worship music and praying over people and situations, this verse popped up in my heart.
This Psalm is a really interesting one to read. The Psalmist is questioning everything:
‘Has the Lord rejected me forever? Will he never again be kind to me? Is his unfailing love gone forever? Have his promises permanently failed? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he slammed the door on his compassion? Interlude’ Psalms 77:7-9
How many times have we asked these very same questions? I know I have!
Does God not even care about me?
Does He love me?
Are His promises true for my life?
Has God forgotten about me? Where is my compassionate God?
WHERE ARE YOU GOD?
I think this verse is so awesome because was see the humanity of the Psalmist. We have all been there at one point or another, regardless of how spiritual or Christian you are, at one point or another you’ve had a question for God. Perhaps you were diagnosed with an illness and don’t understand the why. Maybe you’re experiencing relationship problems and facing divorce. Maybe you have a terrible relationship with your parents or have never felt the love of a mother or father and want to know WHY. I appreciate how real this Psalm is but I love what comes next:
Whenever you see the word “But” in literature, it signifies a change, a turnaround, a change of thought. The Psalmist asks all of these questions but comes to a:
Notice he doesn’t stay in a place of questioning God. He pours out his heart to God and continues on:
But then…I remembered. I remembered everything you have done.
But then…I remembered the great things you did a long time ago and I can’t stop thinking about all of the awesome things You’ve done.
Some of us find ourselves in the questioning part of the Psalm and the scary part is that we stay there and never quite get to the “But then…” I so firmly believe that’s such a strategic ploy of the enemy. If he can get us to stay in a place of questioning God and never coming back to the conclusion that God is awesome and Has done amazing things, he will have succeeded.
So tonight my encouragement to you is this:
Remember all of the things God has done. Recount them all. Write them down. Share them with someone. Praise Him for it. Don’t find yourself in stuck in the doubt and the questioning to the point where you are blinded to all that God HAS done in your life.
Behold (Then Sings My Soul) - Hillsong Worship - YouTube
I blinked, two months flew by, and suddenly we were in the month of December. Um, how did that happen?!
So much has transpired in the past few months. When I reflect on this year actually, I am pretty astonished at all that’s unfolded. Through the good, the bad, the ugly, the sad, the amazing: I can say I’ve seen God’s hand and His mercy at EVERY turn.
I’ll be honest and say that this year I haven’t been in a particularly Christmas-y mood. With the hustle and bustle of life, I’ve really been looking forward to the AFTER Christmas. The time where things get to slow down a bit and life takes its deep breath. So here I am, left to reflect on this year and what better way than to write about what I feel this year has taught me so far?
What 2017 taught me:
1. God is faithful.
When I can’t see what’s in front of me, I can trust that He has my back. When I don’t know what the next day will bring, I can trust that the author of my days has my life in the palm of His hand.
‘The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.’ Lamentations 3:22-23
2. My joy doesn’t depend on my circumstances.
There were parts of this year that flat out stunk! I’ll be honest. I found myself putting my joy in people, material possessions, wealth, career, etc. If any of those things faltered or failed, there went my joy right out of the window. God taught me that my joy isn’t dependent on whether or not I’m crushing every aspect of life or whether I can’t see the next step in front of me. This is my prayer for myself and for you!
‘I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.’ Romans 15:13
3. I can be happy with little. I can be happy with a lot. I’m not defined by what I have or don’t have.
I really struggled with this! When finances were tight I felt like my joy was threatened. My husband is in a profession that can fluctuate at times. When business was great I felt like I was slaying life, but I found it hard to be happy when things were slow or I had to stick to a tight budget. God REALLY challenged me this year on that and I felt like He was asking me to put my hope and trust in Him and not material possessions. For the better part of the year, I fought Him on this kicking and screaming. “It’s not fair…” I would think or “Okay God, I get that you’re trying to teach me something…can I have an A on this and move on?” I would think. The answer to that was a resounding NO. The secret was found in this verse:
‘Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. ‘ Philippians 4:11-13
4. good friendship should be cherished.
The past few years and as I entered my 30s I think I recognize more and more what a gift true friendship is. I have had the blessing of experiencing this through a few people and a few solid woman who are like sisters to me. I have had people I thought were friends pass through or walk alongside me for a season and then be gone for the next. This has taught me that good friendship is worth holding on to and that if it’s a meaningful friendship, BOTH sides will hold on to it for dear life. If not, thank God for the season that He allowed them to be in your life and move on.
5. Hard circumstances will bring you and your spouse closer if you let it.
The harder things got, I think the closer Jose and I clung to each other. When you’re walking through things that are challenging, it can be super easy to turn on each other. My advice is this: don’t. Turn TO each other. Share. Vent. Encourage. Strengthen. Be real, honest, and open. Holding things in will do good for no one in the relationship. Whenever I felt like I just wanted to cry or scream, I would sit with Jose and tell him.
Sometimes I felt really bad because I didn’t want to make him feel bad (especially if it related to a financial stress or something like that) but at the same time, I didn’t want to carry my burdens alone. I found that we’ve endured a lot together that could have destroyed us. We’ve endured things that some couples divorce over (infertility, family issues, sick children, job loss, etc.) but I think the only difference has been the fact that Jesus matters so much to us and we want to live a life that pleases Him and we have true love for each other. I know that I can be honest with him and he’ll hear me and vice versa.
6. being busy for god doesn’t substitute an actual relationship with god.
People love to talk about how busy they are. I do it sometimes! I’ve even whipped out the good ol’ Google Calendar for people who think I’m being flaky or trying to avoid hanging with them. I’ve also found that being involved in ministry, it’s ridiculously easy to get so involved in the ministry that you actually neglect your relationship with God. Busyness is not a substitute for authentic communion. Also, I have nothing to offer if I’m empty and haven’t spent time with the Lord or in the word. Relationship is everything.
7. be present.
In the age of cell phone technology, it’s super easy to replace actual conversation and true blue communication with it…IT’S NOT THE SAME. If you’re hanging out with friends, actually hang out with friends! This is a work in process but I do try to make sure that when I’m talking with someone, my phone is away or on the side and that I can learn to actually be present and in the moment and enjoy that person and that moment for what it is. Be present in the moment.
8. godly counsel will save you from a lot of headaches.
I learned that if I’m going to make any major life decisions my process should look like this: pray about it, speak and pray with my spouse about it, talk to Godly leaders and pray about it. I’ve written about it before. Talking to people we trust about some of our big decisions has saved us some serious heartache! For example, this year Jose got a job opportunity we weren’t sure about. On the surface, it looked like a great opportunity and a great fit but we lacked a complete peace about it. We spoke to our Pastor and he confirmed how we felt about it by just pointing out some valid practical points about this whole thing. We passed it over and God ended up bringing some awesome things our way that were a billion times better than the opportunity was.
9. parenting gets better and better.
They say it doesn’t get easier. To that I say, yes it does in a lot of ways. I enjoy each year more than the last and each age has something special but I really love the older the boys are getting and how our family dynamic is changing! IT’S SO FUN!!!
10. the best is ahead of me.
‘That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.”’ 1 Corinthians 2:9
More than anything, I know the best is ahead of me. I don’t say that as a cheesy quote and I’m not saying that I expect life to go perfectly and for everything to go in my way. As a Christian, I feel like we always come out with hope and victory because our life is rooted in JESUS. Nothing can take this away from me and for that, I know my best days are ahead.
These are just some of the few things that 2017 taught me! I wish you an incredibly joyful Christmas! BE IN THE MOMENT! Enjoy time with your family!
I thought it would be fun to do some Marriage Monday’s flashbacks. That is, little snippets of the past!
Today I’m going to write about how I met Jose.
I met Jose through one of my best friend’s: Gabby. The first time I saw him was on a Third Friday event in Millville. To be honest, I didn’t think anything about him at all when I first met him.
I just thought, “Oh another new friend Gab made at her new school.” Then, we went to a football game and he was there. I remember thinking he was cute but that’s it. Jose back in his teen years was a hot mess. Always trying to fight people and a lot of drama! I thought of him as, “The friend of Gabby’s that I really need to pray for.” Gabby would always update me on his latest drama/saga.
Jose finally caught my eye at Gabby’s Sweet 16. He looked FINE!
It was the first time I ever saw him dressed up and he was handsome. He had a vest with a piano on it. Terrible fashion choice now, but I thought he had it going on. Still, he seemed like he had a lot of things going on so I made a mental note of his cuteness and didn’t think a lot about it.
Gabby started inviting him to church. He would come in with his baggy pants and baggy shirts. The more he came to church, the more I started noticing him, but I didn’t think we had much in common. It wasn’t the way he dressed, it just seemed like we both were completely different people. That all changed when one day, Jose went up for prayer, and asked God to change His life. That’s when I started to pay a little more attention!
After that, we all went over to Gabby’s house. We started talking about our lives, interests, and hobbies. Jose and I seemed to have some things in common. My heart was skipping a beat. Fast forward a few days later and I hear my brother talking to him on the phone: my brother’s room was downstairs in the basement and I was above his room, which meant that if I listened through the vent I could hear everything he was saying.
You can bet I eavesdropped! I wanted to know what they were talking about. Soon, I realized I wanted to be the one talking to Jose on the phone so I called him to “check up on his salvation.” Jose gets a kick out of retelling this part of the story. I didn’t really know what good reason I had to call him so I told him I wanted to follow up to see how he was doing after Sunday and after his prayer! From there, I started asking him silly questions. If you know me, you know I get a thrill out of asking silly questions and listening to what people say. The more I talked to him, the more I liked him.
From that point on, I was SMITTEN. The funny thing is, I wasn’t the type to pursue someone or to pick up the phone and just call a guy. I was more old-fashioned and introverted. Nonetheless, I had to talk to this boy! So we started to talk on the phone regularly and through AIM. Guys, this was during the day of no cell phones. We had to talk to each other the “old fashioned way.”
Give it a few weeks later and we were on our first “date.” Valentine’s dinner at Adelphia’s. His gift to me was a stuffed animal and an origami rose. What can I say? We were broke! Not even sure how we paid for Adelphia’s. He wore this HIDEOUSLY UGLY shiny shirt that had Coqui Frogs and Puerto Rican flags. I remember thinking it was the ugliest shirt I ever saw, but it was too soon to tell him. It was a wrap. I was in L-O-V-E.
It’s the night before church. As I’m sitting here thinking about how exciting it is to attend church and be encouraged with people who love Jesus, I am reminded of how many times I’ve heard the phrase: “I don’t need to go to church. I can have church on my own in my living room.” Yes, we are the church and the body of Christ. You can connect with the Lord anywhere, but biblically speaking it’s so essential to gather with other people who love Jesus and connect. I thought it would be great to write a post that focuses on the WHY when it comes to church and in general, the power in community.
No man is an island. At least, no man should be an island. As humans, we are wired to be people of connection and intimacy. Yet, do you know how many times in my life I’ve heard people say they don’t need anyone or don’t like to be close to anyone? Heck, when I am down in the dumps and going through something, my first fleshly tendency is to isolate myself from others. In the instances I’ve done that, I’ve NEVER thrived or done well. Do you wonder why that is? Read on.
Right from the opening scene in the Bible, the Lord recognizes that it’s not good for man to be alone and on His own. He sees this and decides to make a companion for Adam. Hi there Eve!
Then the Lord God said, “I see that it is not good for the man to be alone. I will make the companion he needs, one just right for him.” Genesis 2:18
In the New Testament, we see multiple examples of community and how much power there was when people got together. It’s ALL OVER ACTS!
“And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity —” Acts 2:44-46
There are so many examples of how important it was to be with other people, to encourage, to uplift, to share with one another.
Reasons why Community is so important:
1. it’s good for you.
The two verse above tell you how important God thought it was and still is: connecting with others is good for us! So good that God gave Adam someone because He knew it wasn’t good for him to be a lone ranger. So good for us that in Acts, it’s all we see. People together, spurring each other on. They didn’t just throw around the phrase, “let’s do life together.” They actually did life together! What does that look like today? It means connecting with someone outside of Sunday services and it may feel awkward or strange, uncomfortable. It might mean putting yourself out there, not sure what you will get in return. If you are a person who is used to flying solo, I encourage you to step out of the comfort zone and try to connect with someone who will inspire you to be better.
2. it helps you avoid doing stupid things because it gives you accountability.
Accountability. What does that mean? It means someone can call you out on the carpet for how much of a mess you’re being and vice versa. I think this is good to have even outside of your spouse. Yes, I call my husband out all the time and he does the same for me when I need it! Outside of each other, we have pastors and Godly leadership who will let us know about ourselves. This makes us better people and helps us avoid stupid mistakes!
Proverbs 18:1 One who has isolated himself seeks his own desires; he rejects all sound judgment.
People who cut themselves off from others are looking after what they want and don’t want to listen to other people. In easy terms, it means you’re being selfish. I have found myself in this trap at times! It’s that phrase “I’m gonna do me! I’m pursuing what I want and forget about everyone else…pursuing my dreams…” you’ll basically hear a lot of me me me and my my my with something missing. That something missing is: What does God actually want from you? When you are tempted to say, “FORGET YOU WORLD!” be reminded of Proverbs. It’ll reel you back in.
3. it helps you slay life.
The verse that Jose and I used at our wedding was this one:
“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:9,12
Having people behind you will strengthen you and help you succeed! If you’re trying to do everything on you’re own, you become really vulnerable to attacks: spiritually, emotionally, and in so many ways.
4. it’s encouraging.
Having a solid group of awesome people is encouraging because you are constantly inspiring one another to do better and be better. Look at what it says in Hebrews: DON’T STOP MEETING TOGETHER AND ENCOURAGING EACH OTHER! Keep at it! Atta girl! Or boy! In fact, let’s think about how we can motivate one another to love each other and to do great things. I can dig it!
“Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” Hebrews 10:24-25
5. you have someone else to carry your burdens.
This is probably my absolute favorite part when it comes to community: people who will not only walk alongside you when stuff hits the fan but will actually help you carry that heavy load. In times of my life when I felt like I was riding full force on the struggle bus and things in my life were hard, messy, and flat-out awful, I knew I could carry some of my burdens to dear friends who would not just say, “It’s going to be okay” but would actually bear that burden with me. They would cry with me. Sit with me in silence. Laugh with me. I could share it with them knowing that they would pray for me and help me. This has made all the difference in so many of my life circumstances.
“Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.” Galatians 6:2-3
Can you see the power in COMMUNITY?! Can you see why it’s important to get together with others and actually do life with them? Yes, the phrase can be cheesy but I think it’s important.
When people see me at this stage in my life, I hope they see someone who not only loves community but enjoys bringing others together. For me, this is so important, because I know what it was like to isolate myself when things weren’t going great in my life. It was easy to want to be around people when things were amazing! Who doesn’t want to share when life is fabulous? But when I was going through, my first instinct was to isolate myself and to revert to my introvert ways. I am actually a natural introvert. Ask my parents, look through my childhood pictures. Now though, I like talking and getting to know people. I will ask you questions others are probably afraid to ask.
There is so much amazingness in community and people and if you aren’t experiencing that in full force, pray about it and ask God to help you. Reach out to others. Give people lots of grace. Find a church. Plug in. Find your people. And connect.