Guard your Heart

Life continues to be a mystery as we look ahead. Aren’t you glad we serve a God who has the whole world in his hands? He knows what the future holds, and we know He holds the future!

This morning I was sitting with friends doing a devotional, and we read Proverbs 4:23. After our time of reflection and prayer, I read it again and let it soak in. These are such great words to refocus our minds today.

Guard your heart. “Above all else, guard your heart…” What a great reminder during these days of trouble. We are challenged every day with the ongoing negativity in the news, and the uncertainty and fear of COVID-19. Unsettledness can overwhelm and surround us. These things constantly battle for our attention. We can easily fixate on the cares and concerns of this world and end up paralyzed or bogged down with these burdens.

This passage says to guard your heart. This is not merely a suggestion it is a command. God is saying protect the very core of your being. It is where all your dreams, your desires, and your passions live. It is that deep part of you that connects with God and other people.

This encouragement from Proverbs 4 is just what we need to hear today. We make the choice to watch what we are dwelling on. When I think of guardrails or guarding our hearts, I realize we have to be proactive. We have to put guardrails in place. Philippians 4:8 reminds us how to guard our heart. Instead think about, and even more, dwell on the things that are excellent and praiseworthy. The things that are true and honorable. Things that are both right and lovely.

Ladies, our hearts guide and direct all that we do. Every word that comes out of our mouth starts in the heart. All of our actions and choices are driven by the desires of the heart. Above all else, guard your heart.

During these days when there’s so many voices, make sure you are listening to the right voice – Jesus – and you are reading the right book – the Word of God.

Remember, your heart overflows into thoughts, words, and actions. Let them flow from a heart that is trusting the Lord. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.

As a reminder, we have a Women in Ministry project this year to help support the Eurasia Ladies Conference. Please let me know by August 15th if you can help with this project.

Grief is a Process

This has been quite a journey for each of us. 2020 will be a milestone year. We have never encountered all the different events happening at one time in our lifetime. Every day I am thankful that we serve a God who gives us strength for each day.

Recently, in conversations I have had with some WIM friends, they asked me about handling grief and if I would share on how to handle grief. I am not an expert, but I will share some things I have learned through my experiences.

Grief is a process. It is taking the time to put the broken pieces of your heart back together. We grieve through many different losses: jobs, relocation, divorce, death of a loved one, empty nest, separation, loss of friendship, an unfulfilled expectation, people leaving your church, and so many other things we could list. The bottom line is these things hurt and they affect us emotionally.

Grief affects our emotions. When I attended a grief class after the death of my father, I realized everyone grieves differently, but we all deal with similar emotions. You must give yourself permission to grieve. It takes time. You don’t get over loss in a day. Don’t be afraid to seek out a good counselor, or grief class to help you.

The book that helped me was written by the lady whose grief class I attended: How to say Goodbye, working through personal grief, by Joanne Petrie and Dr. Ronald G Petrie. As leaders sometimes we think we need to have it all together and admitting we are hurting or struggling is weakness. This is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome, but in order to heal, we must be true to ourselves.

Grief is a circle of emotions: Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Not necessarily in that order but usually starts and ends the same. There are many books out on these subjects. Contact our Pastoral Care leader, Pastor Larry Steller, for help in these areas.

Here are some helpful actions:

  • Emotions.
    Crying is a very real thing. You experience a wave of grief and it seems overwhelming. This often happens when you are thinking of the situation, or something comes up about the person or situation and you cannot contain the wave of grief. That is normal. Find a place to cry. If you are at work, find a place to be alone for a few minutes, if you are with people, excuse yourself and take a few minutes to work through your emotions. It is real and it is okay. Allow these times to remind you of Psalm 23, remember as you walk through the darkest valley, He is with you. He gives you hope. Choose to read scriptures that give you hope and healing. He is the comforter. He will see you through, that is His promise.
  • Journal your feelings daily.
    Journaling helps you process your feelings and understand what is causing your actions or reactions; what is happening and why you feel this way. It helps you to be aware and puts things in perspective.
  • Seek out a counselor.
    If you have been hurt by someone, remember, oftentimes hurt people, hurt people. Go to a trusted friend, counselor, leader, and walk through your hurt. Expressing your feelings helps you look at the situation and help you decide or discover plans or actions that are needed or are helpful. Stuffing down your feelings often result in outbursts of anger or depression. Talk and get your emotions out rather than hold them in. Get help by going to someone who can walk you through with biblical principles. God’s Word has many scriptures to give you hope, peace, comfort, and strength to read and apply to your life.
  • Memorial Stones.
    This was a helpful exercise. We all have incredible memories of happy times and when they cannot be celebrated the way it has always been, do something to replace it with a goodbye to what has been and a hello to something new.

Hopefully, this is helpful – for no matter what you are experiencing or walking through, He is with you.

Remarkable Results

Ministry Coaching

We are constantly amazed at the outcomes of our ministry leaders being coached. We have seen remarkable results from those who are new to our Network and request to be coached by one of our coaches. These coaches come alongside to assist them in integrating into the Network family and adopt the compelling DNA of the Oregon Ministry Network. 

Each new pastor and or newly credentialed minister has the opportunity to receive six months of free coaching. Every year we have between 8-10 women in ministry being coached by our Network Lead Coach Joy Wilson.

Coaching provides an opportunity for an outside voice to ask questions that help a person to look ahead to future possibilities and opportunities.   

  • What is one God-given idea or goal you have that is important for you to achieve in the next six months?
  • Have you shared this dream or target with anyone?
  • What are the steps you want to take in order to accomplish this?
  • In the coming week are there three smart, measurable, attainable, actions to help move your ideas closer to your dream?

Contact Joy Wilson if you would like to discuss being coached this year.   

Women in Ministry

The OMN is concentrating on meeting the needs of women in ministry through one-on-one coaching, monthly e-newsletters, the Women In Ministry Facebook page, Oregon Garden Getaway, Summit and Intermission breakfast events, ministry to widows and coffee times. We take every opportunity to connect with the women throughout the state. Our executive wives all work alongside each other to minister to women of all ages in the Network and focus on encouraging and enriching women in their personal and leadership roles. 

There were three extraordinary women’s events in 2019. The first was our Oregon Garden Getaway. We were blessed by the moving testimonies of several speakers from our own Network and the powerful worship times led by Lead Pastor Taunja Hoole. During the 2019 Summit, we were blessed by a passionate message from Pat Beiler, who serves with her husband as AGWM Regional Directors to Eurasia. It also gave us the opportunity to celebrate all our itinerating missionaries. Finally, during the 2019 Intermission Women’s Breakfast, we heard a moving message by Bo Stern-Brady. Bo continues to be one of our favorite speakers. Always timely and anointed.     

Thank you for your love and support.  I count it a great honor to serve the Oregon Ministry Network.

Faith over Fear

This is an incredible time to be living. Who would have dreamed we would be facing these tumultuous days. I’m thankful for the words of these two worship songs that I’ve been singing and proclaiming.

When we don’t understand all that’s going on, we...

Raise a Hallelujah
I’m gonna sing,
in the middle of the storm
louder and louder,
you’re gonna hear my praises
roar up from the ashes,
hope will arise
death is defeated,
the King is alive
Faith over fear.
Worship over worry.

And another. I’m proclaiming He is a…

Waymaker
Miracle Worker
Promise Keeper
Light in the darkness
My God That is who you are

He knows exactly who we need Him to be to us.

It’s been good to take my eyes off myself and have the awesome opportunity to connect with pastors and pastor’s wives by phone. It’s been a privilege to call out the names of our AG missions’ family and claim miracles over this Covid-19 that has attacked them. It refreshes my spirit.

I heard Pastor Robert Morris remind us that we need to be speaking in tongues daily to build ourselves up, personally, as the scripture admonishes us to do.

As we go into another week let’s look for the positive in each other. Let’s speak life to our children, have patience when they get frustrated that you don’t teach like their teachers. It’s a new experience for them too.

Everyday journal one thing you’re thankful for, one act of kindness you did, one scripture that spoke to you. I’m always available if you need me.

Be blessed and be a blessing.

Family

As we finished out November, many families like ours took time to remember the many things we are grateful for. “Family” was the word used more than anything. People are important in our lives. We all need encouragers, intercessors, confidantes, and those who keep us accountable.

It was Thanksgiving Day when I received a call from my daughter, Christy, saying my mom was not doing well. She had spent the night over at her house with my sister. She had taken a fall earlier in the week but didn’t want us to take her to the hospital. We honored her request but now we needed to make a decision, which in our hearts knew would change the dynamics of our family. She ended up in the trauma unit of OHSU. Mom is a fighter, she had cracked 6 ribs, had 2 broken ribs and a collapsed lung. We know we are in the final days with our precious Mom. Life will be different without the matriarch of our family. She’s been the prayer warrior, confidante, encourager for our family and so many of our friends.

We are now taking it a day at a time. Forever grateful for a godly mother who has been an inspiration in ministry to me. She is a couple months short of being 101 years old. Keep us in prayer as we navigate this new journey.

December is a month where many people get caught up in many celebrations, concerts, and Christmas parties. Let me encourage you to step back from your busyness and remember the reason for the season. Take time to worship the King of Kings, our precious Savior. Don’t get stressed over “things” - children will remember your love and presence more than your gifts. Give them experiences of being together as a family.

Remember, as you start a new year the two greatest gifts you can give are: teaching your children how to pray and helping them know the Word of God. These both take time, but you’ll have no regrets. Teach them the principles to live by according to the Bible. I look back at my heritage and I’m thankful that prayer and the Word were the two pillars we were taught.

My prayer as we end this year is:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peaceWhere there is hatred, let me sow loveWhere there is injury, pardonWhere there is doubt, faithWhere there is despair, hopeWhere there is darkness, lightAnd where there is sadness, joyO Divine Master, grant that I mayNot so much seek to be consoled as to consoleTo be understood, as to understandTo be loved, as to loveFor it is in giving that we receiveAnd it's in pardoning that we are pardonedAnd it's in dying that we are born to Eternal LifeAmen

Have a blessed December. Thank you for the honor to lead and serve you.

What are you thankful for?

November, the month where we celebrate Thanksgiving.
When you look back on 2019, can you list 10 things that you are thankful for?
I am thankful for so many things this year. Its been a full year of ministry, travel, making new friends, speaking, spending time with family, and dreaming big. Wow, the list could go on and on.
I’m so thankful for our women in the Oregon Ministry Network. As we met together this past week, there was community, excitement, prayer, relationship building, new friendships formed and lives encouraged and enriched. God is so good to us! Thankful for all God is doing.
During this month take time every day to write down one thing you are thankful for. Take time to maybe pick up some Thanksgiving cards and send them to some of our senior ministers’ wives that are unable to come to the events and let them know how thankful you are for their influence and impact on your life. Send a card to one of our younger women in ministry and encourage them on their journey. Be thankful for those who are serving every week in your church.
There is no shortage of things to be thankful for. I’m thankful that God continues to give us new dreams. One of the dreams that is being birthed presently is the One Day Conference for 40 and under women in ministry (ministry leaders, pastors’ wives, etc.). Two years ago, my accountability partner, for almost 30 years, called and said she had a dream that I was pregnant. She obviously knew it wasn’t a baby but called to let me know that I was going to birth something new. At the time I wasn’t quite sure what that meant.
Bill and I had talked many times of wanting to have a greater impact on our younger leaders. We have always had a heart to encourage those who are in their formative years of ministry. As pastors we often had couples into our home. We loved hearing their heart for what God was calling them to do. We wanted to do all we could to help them navigate their journey.
Now the Lord has planted a new dream, a One Day Conference. Debbie Lamm Bray and I are joining together to make this a great day. We have put together a great team and will be meeting soon to assist us in making this an amazing day.

SAVE THE DATE! One Day Conference for 40 and under Women in Ministry September 12, 2020 Northwest University Oregon Campus

Don’t forget we need your response of assistance in helping us meet our goals for the INSPIRE Conference and Missions Trip to Ecuador. This is a great time to pour out lots of love on these women in ministry in Ecuador that were affected by the uprising in their areas of ministry.

Being a Resilient Leader

What a winter we have had. This week it was so pleasant to see the sun shining and the temperatures a little like normal. I love the snow – I’m just not a fan of driving in it – especially over all the mountain passes.
In March we had our Oregon Garden Getaway in Silverton. It was such an amazing time together. Worship and the Word was anointed under the leadership of Taunja Hoole and our outstanding speakers: Ashley Silverii, Rhonda Reich, Kaci Kintz, along with an incredible panel. These ladies hit it out of the ball park. Such an anointing on everyone who participated.
Next year we are going to do an event for all women leaders. We are inviting the pastor’s wife to bring women who are active in leadership in the church. The dates are March 6-7, 2020. We have an excellent speaker confirmed to come.
Please put this date on your calendar and start putting a little money away each week. Cost will be announced shortly. Prices have gone up but when we have dates this early, we know we can be ready. I really believe this can be a time of enrichment and inspiration for you as well as your ladies. I just thought that maybe bringing someone with you would be nice for everyone. This is a stand-alone event as we will begin to go every other year with the Smaller Church Conference.
This month our topic is Being a Resilient Leader. Rhonda Reich did an outstanding session Pursuing Resilience in Ministry. I have asked her permission to share her notes. These are incredible thoughts that will make such a difference if we apply them. Download Rhonda's Notes.
I want to encourage all of you to sign up for the Summit Breakfast. Our speaker will be Pat Beiler. She is an amazing leader and exudes the love of Jesus. She and her husband are AGWM Regional Directors for Eurasia.
This event has become a wonderful time for reconnecting with friends and making new ones. We have several new pastors’ wives this year so we will be introducing them and welcoming them to the OMN family. Please, as you begin to make lunch and after church plans, think about asking one of these couples to join you. Let’s continue to ben an inclusive Network, welcoming those who are not to the Network.
We are excited to announce the Women’s Ministry Missions Trip to Ecuador.
Dates: February 3-11, 2020
Host: Joy Wilson & Laurel Ellis
Cost: $1850
Non- refundable deposit of $500 due by August 1, 2019
Flight cost of $1200 due by November 1, 2019
Balance of $150 due by January 25, 2020.
To confirm your attendance, click here to email Diane Roberts or call 503-393-4411.

Understanding

As we explore the word Pursue through an acrostic these first few months, I trust that each of us will be challenged to pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus. In February, we shared on being a "Purposeful Leader." This month we will discuss being an “Understanding Leader.”
Here are some thoughts to consider in being an understanding leader.

What are some of the needs people have?
Why should we as leaders try to understand the needs of others?
How can I as a leader best understand the needs of others?

When thinking about this topic I wanted to think through some of the needs that I have heard people express to me recently.

A need to have someone who will listen to them and not be thinking of how to fix them as they are talking.
A need to know how to balance friendships in ministry.
A need to know how to use money wisely; they are always struggling with finances.
A need to know how to reach their friend who is struggling with self-image.
A need to know what to say when they are feeling criticized.
A need to know how to minister to someone who is sick.
A need to know how to run their first women’s event.

There are a variety of needs that we hear often, but how do we respond? One thing we need to do is listen and understand what the person we are interacting with wants from us as a leader or as a friend. Are they needing appreciation, understanding, or personal care? These are three things that people are often looking for when they share with us.
Understanding: Being sympathetically aware of other’s feelings, tolerant and forgiving. When someone comes to share something with us, they are looking for someone they can trust, someone they know will be kind, that won’t over-react. They are looking for someone with some insight or good judgment.
When someone comes to you make sure you keep their confidence. Do not share their conversation with you without their permission. As a pastor’s wife I realized how people would take information and turn it into a prayer request. This is not okay, if you have not been given permission to share it.
Be available but be wise with your time. Setting times when you are going to meet with people is important. Give a start time and an ending time. Look at your schedule and decide whether you need to do a phone call or a coffee time. Either way, time parameters are essential. If needed, set up another time to meet as a follow up.
A great way to interact with someone is not give them your “fix it” answer but ask questions so they can resolve situations themselves. If you give advice and it doesn’t work, you get the blame. When you help them come to the conclusion, they are responsible for the decision. Be wise with your words. They need you to understand and hear them. Always end in prayer. Ask “May I pray with you about this situation?’ Very seldom does someone say no.
I pray that these thoughts will be of encouragement to you.
Have a blessed March.
Please consider having your church groups assist with raising funds for these outreaches to women. If every church helps, we can accomplish so much more. Together we are better. 2019 Inspire Conference

Purposeful

Bill and I took a trip to Kalispell to be with our Montana family. Christmas-time is so full of activities for them that going either early in December or January works best. We love our times with Phil, Jenelle and our three amazing grandchildren. One thing we know about being in ministry is you have to be flexible.
This month I am going to take the letter P in PURSUE and use it for the word
PURPOSEFUL
How to be a Purposeful or Intentional Leader
Whether you’re leading your family, working outside the home, or working in ministry we are all leading. Doing life on purpose, gives us a pathway for what we want to see happen.
Recently I was with someone who was asking me about raising my kids and working. She had questions of how I did my schedule. I’m going to share a few ideas on how I had to be purposeful.
During our early years of ministry, I wore several hats, so I knew I had to be purposeful with my time. My children and Bill were my first priority, but I was also working fulltime teaching school when we came to Portland.
Some practical ideas:
Saturday I took an hour and planned meals: breakfast, lunch and dinner, I then wrote my grocery list from the menu. This helped me stay on track when I went to the store. It was the days of using coupons and I used them to make sure I stayed in budget.
Sundays I made all the lunches in paper bags and lined them up with the kids’ names on them, the only thing I made in the morning was their sandwiches. That was one way I had to be purposeful to help myself stay organized. Of course, as the kids got older responsibilities changed and they helped.
I also found that going over our weekly and monthly schedule with Bill was very helpful. We always had a Friday date time where we would regularly discuss calendars. It was so essential having three children in three different schools, all in school sports. Bill and I both tried to always be at their games. Sometimes we would each go to one half and switch so we could see each of them playing.
One area that was so important to be intentional was in my devotional life. Because of our schedule I wasn’t always able to have a set time. What I learned to do is look at my schedule, make a time and write it in as a meeting; that way if someone called or wanted to schedule an appointment I could say I had an appointment at that time.
It is so important to have that time each day. Don’t let the busyness of life rob you from spiritually replenishing yourself daily. It’s during these times that Jesus can speak to you. Pray in your car. When I am driving even now, I often take that time to pray.
So much could be written on this subject. Hopefully, these ideas are helpful to some of you reading this today.
My question to you is: Where do you need to be more purposeful? Make a plan and work the plan.

Looking Forward

What are you looking forward to in 2019? I have really been giving a lot of thought to this upcoming year. What do I need to be intentional about to fulfill all that God has for me?
The theme for 2019: Pursue
The scripture, Proverbs 21:21, has been resonating with me for this year:

He who pursues (earnestly seeks) righteousness (right standing with God) and love, finds life, prosperity and honor.

One thing I know is that I want to be passionate and totally committed to Proverbs 21:21. I want to continue to grow in my personal intimate relationship with the Lord. There are so many things that always need my attention or that I could pursue, but let me encourage all of us to pursue a more personal and intimate relationship with the Lord in 2019.
What to look forward to?
February: Connection Tour. Always a great time to see you at these events.
March 1-2: Oregon Garden Getaway. Make sure you have secured your spot. Oregon Garden Getaway is for women in all walks of ministry life. It’s an opportunity to hit “pause” on all that life demands for two days of refreshing, relaxing and relating to other women who walk similar paths to you. It’s inspiring to sit and hear new perspectives on ministry and to be encouraged by others. Take time today to register.
April 30: Summit Breakfast with Missionary Pat Beiler.
Plan now to attend these great events that are planned with you in mind.
Projects
Inspire Conference: Raise $5,000 to enable Vienna Christian Center to do this outreach to Europe. November 2019. Money needs to be raised by August.
Ecuador Trip: Raise $7,500 for a weekend retreat for pastors wives in the Cuenca area, a Tim Tebow event that our own missionary Laurel Ellis is asking us to help raise funds to enable them to help children with disabilities.
These are two areas I’m asking you to ask your Women’s Ministries to help us. Please let them know these needs. I believe the women in the Oregon Ministry Network can help this become a reality. Please let me know how you are willing to help. Maybe set a couple Sundays where you take a dollar offering.
2019 is going to be a great year as we pursue all God is challenging us to do and be a part of.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” It’s the time when we remember the birth of our Savior. It’s the time when we celebrate by singing carols that are reminiscent of His birth. That’s why it’s called Christmas.

For many it’s the most stressful time of the year. There are gifts to be bought, with money we don’t have. There are parties to attend, when we feel so alone.

What can make this season different? What is important to you? Consider how you want to spend this Christmas season.

Is this the year to change focus? What would it mean to focus on the spiritual aspects of Christmas instead of the materialistic demands. What can you do to keep focused on the true meaning of Christmas? Here’s a few ideas:

Every day do something to share God’s love.
Bake some cookies and take them to a family in need.
Simplify your expectations of what you need to do. Be reasonable with your schedule. Pick one or two activities to attend rather than doing everything.
Relax and enjoy your family. Prioritize this time.
Thank the people who serve you in restaurants, supermarkets, stores, gas stations etc. (A kind word is a gift during this season.)
Send a personal note to someone who needs some encouragement during this season.
Plan one thing that will make you happy. Stress free! Be kind to yourself.
Have coffee with a friend, sometimes that’s more meaningful than a gift. The gift of your time.
Read a Christmas storybook. I still like reading through some of my grandchildren’s.
Read Luke chapter 2. What stood out to you the most? Be thankful.

I would encourage you to do a few of these things. I think you’ll likely find yourself enjoying the holidays more this year. Christmas time is meant to be filled with family, friends and fun.

As a life coach let me encourage each of you to take some time this month to plan for 2019
What are three things you believe God is speaking to you about? Write them down; what actions do you need to put in place; when do you want to accomplish this; and who will you be accountable to?

My prayer for each of you as we close out 2018 is Ephesians 3:14-19.

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

The Next Generation

Happy Fall! What incredible weather we are having for the fall season. I love all the colors of the leaves. What an incredible Creator we have! This week I saw the beautiful scenery of the Flathead Valley of Montana. It’s stunning.

I’m writing this as I leave my three oldest grandchildren in Montana. (Dad and Mom were in Togo, Africa). Being with them was a great reminder of the need to pray for the younger generations. I sat and listened to them share about friends who come from broken families, about the use of language they are around every day, the disappointments of losing games and not getting enough playing time.

They also shared some positive highlights as well. My oldest grandson is excited about a small group that is starting for athletes; my oldest granddaughter is excited to go to Youth Convention this weekend; the younger granddaughter shared how much she loves helping in the kids’ department at church and how much she loves her children’s church.

I’m thankful, that in the midst of the daily battles for influence in their lives, they have parents daily sharing the need for a strong faith and healthy, godly values. So many of the children in our churches don’t have the privilege of parents who do this.

How can you encourage leaders to disciple those they are overseeing to know the truth of the Word? Teach them to know how to open the Bible and where to find answers to questions they are asking. This is so important to know truth – God’s Word.

Some of you may not have kids at home, but look around your church and neighborhood for who you can be praying for. Who can you encourage with a smile or "nice to see you" today?

Our words are so powerful, when we don’t even know it. Do you remember people who spoke into your life? Some of you may have had people who said hurtful things to you. Let’s be leaders who make a difference and help this generation. They hear enough negative talk, let’s be affirmers, and encouragers. Let’s help them.

My questions today are: Whose life are you speaking into? Who do you see that needs someone to be a positive influence in their life?

Let’s help this generation be world changers by knowing God is who He says He is and will do what He says He will do.