The Story of Seminary

I am stubborn. I am so stubborn that when I hear from God that I am supposed to be doing something, I’ll dig my heels in and say “Maybe tomorrow”.

There was a Pastor I had been working that was AWESOME. My heart is completely consumed for Jesus and His people, and I could tell this guy’s heart is as well. So, when I would get frustrated about injustice or passionate about a team not loving people well, he would calmly listen and direct me wisely.

After a couple of months working for him, he asked if I had ever considered seminary. I laughed as I had never considered working for a CHURCH, much less going to seminary! He told me I should pray about it and talk to HR regarding steps. I smiled and nodded and left.

A couple months later he stopped me in the parking lot and, fairly firmly, asked why he hadn’t gotten a call from HR stating I had started seminary. I shuffled my feet, made excuses and nodded and smiled, again. He made me promise to at least get information about it.

YEAH! My way out!!! I could get INFORMATION about it and tap out.

I could tell God was shoving me to get this done, but feelings of inadequacy and my stage of life told me it would be a reallllly stupid decision. Soooo, I stalled. Then because I had made a promise, I talked to HR and let them know my Pastor wanted me to get some “information” on seminary. I was promptly sent an invite to HR for a 15 minute meeting. AWESOME, I had kept my promise and I’d scoot out of there ASAP.

When I arrived, I saw the smile on the HR ladies face, and got a tad bit nervous. As another woman arrived, her eyes landed on me and she excitedly said, “You are going to seminary, too!”. I of course said, oh NO, I was only there for information. Looking back at the HR woman, I now distinctly remember seeing a twinkle in her eye that filled me with dread.

We prayed to start the meeting and then HR slid over a folder to each of us. As I opened it, there was a letter saying “Congratulations, we acknowledge you as a Minister…”etc… I was in shock. I said, “WAIT. I am only here to get some information on seminary!” HR looked at me and said my pastor, and the church, wanted to give me a temporary license while I finished seminary. Not to worry, I only had to take 5 courses to make it official.

WHAT?!?!?! I remember pushing the folder right back at her and said NO THANK YOU. I am in NO way a minister. I don’t need a title…I could NEVER imagine being Pastor Julie or Minister Julie or ANYTHING like that. I would like to stay in my little world downstairs encouraging, equipping and empowering God’s people to do what God built them to do. Thanks, any way!

I will never forget…she looked me straight in my eyes and said,”Everything this paper says, you are already doing. You are already a minister of God. This is just us, saying we acknowledge that.” I replied that I thought that was really nice, but lets keep it at that, and not worry about anything else.

She then rocked my world by saying, “I hear you. Again, you are already doing what God put you here to do and I hear that you don’t ‘NEED’ it. I want you to pause and think of the women who come after you. The ones that will grow up in this church and need strong women to look up to. This will help THEM.”

At that point, I acted in a very mature and professional way and started crying.  Me?!? A minister?!?!?! Me crazy, wild, prodigal, partying, loose, Julie….a Minister?! But if it’s to help others….

I could never imagine those words together. Minister Julie Sathoff. Nah-uh.

I told her I would pray about it, talk to my people then get back to her.

Sooooo, I called my husband. I said, “You will NEVER believe what happened!!”
As I explained the meeting to him, he was silent. Finalllllly, he said, “Well OF COURSE this happened. Can’t you see the path God has you on? This is You.”

That was a dumb answer, so I ignored it and planned to talk to my small group that night. THEY would agree there had to be some sort of joke! When I went over it with them, they were exchanging “looks”. When I asked their thoughts, they echoed my husband. “Julie, we are surprised it took this long. You are so good at helping other people on their paths, why can’t you see God has a path even BIGGER than this for YOU.”

That was REALLY stupid.

So I called an old long time friend. She responded by first laughing hysterically, then agreeing it sounded about right…then threatened to post old “Prior to Christ” pictures on social media. (I love her).

My last phone call was to my Mom. She was the one who cried and was upset. Born and raised in the Catholic faith, for me to officially be turning from it would break her heart. She wanted me to REALLY think about it and pray about it as her opinion was NO.

Sadly, this was the push I needed to say, “Yes”. Weird, I know, but we are all broken and my brokenness showed me – sometimes it takes opposition to strengthen my resolve. I am working on it.

Seminary hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would. I am learning by leaps and bounds. I was done with the 5 courses needed to be “official” months ago, but I am continuing as I know that is what God wants for me.

What I learned today…I thought there was no possible way I could be in school and work and have 3 boys in sports and activities and small groups and be in a small group and be a present mom and present wife, all while in school…but hanging on to Phil 4:13 I am seeing GOD is the one making it all happen. I love Him.

 

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Work in Progress

As I am reading through the Bible, trying to learn how to be the best leader I can, I am stuck on 1 Timothy. In Chapter 3 Paul talks about how an overseer must be temperate and self-controlled among other things.

Those two ways of being are both VERY hard for a passionate, impulsive person like me!

Now I can use the cop-out of, that is how God made me…OR I can understand that I want to obtain maturity be being able to be temperate and self-controlled.

Don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean subdue and a passive doormat. It just means there is a time and a place.

What I learned today…To remember that the Fruits of the Spirit show Maturity in Christ. I can say I am following the Bible…but in less I am growing in each of these areas, I’m not growing in my maturity as a believer.

Fruits of the Spirit

Pride vs Humility

Prior to giving my life over to Christ I did not battle with pride. I WAS prideful. I thought, though I am not better than the next person, NO ONE was better than me. I could stand on a stage and talk in front of 1000s and be fine as I couldn’t care less what they thought of me and/or what I was saying.

When I became a Christian and had the opportunity to teach, I FREAKED OUT. Why? Well, in reading the Bible I learned that teachers are held accountable, by GOD! (Check out Paul’s letters to Timothy).

As I learned more about abilities give at birth or learned vs spiritual gifts, given at baptism, I learned that I do have a gift of teaching. I can let the enemy use it and do it to get all the glory for myself, or I can let God use it and point all the glory up to Him.

What I still battle with, which you can read in 1/2 my earlier posts, is pride. God gave us abilities and we should not be prideful in them, yet we should be confident in them, right? How do you be confident in them, while not being prideful, while expressing humility?

I know that was written in a circle, as that is what my brain has been stuck on…until last night. We went to church and it was a terrific service. Check out “God Can Use Anybody” from April 3rd.

Pastor Rick talked about my favorite subject, how everyone is necessary in the Kingdom of God. We are all built to serve, using our God given abilities, to help others grow.

In the sermon, he said something that was a BIG AH-HA for me…

“Humility is not denying your strengths, it’s admitting your weaknesses.”

What I learned today…I can be CONFIDENT, not prideful, in how God made me. I can be humble in the fact I have a LOT of weaknesses. A LOT.

 

Why Wait?!?!?!

Just Say Yes

Some people wait until the last second. They wait until they land in the hospital. Until they find out they have a life-threatening disease. They wait until they have more time. They wait until their death bed…to say, Yes, to Jesus.

Why? A lot of the time it is because they don’t want to follow all the “rules”. They don’t want to be held accountable, or KNOW that they will be held accountable. They don’t want to take the time to be “good” and follow what the Bible says…all of it.

They are also missing out on all of God’s promises.

They are missing out on years of being blessed in extraordinary ways.

They are missing out on hope.

They are missing out on an eternal family, that starts NOW.

What I learned today…I am so thankful I didn’t wait until the last minute. I had NO idea how amazing it feels to be in my forever family. Even the lows aren’t so low. I have HOPE.

Praying we are overwhelmed with people prepared to take a leap of faith and say YES, JESUS, now. At Easter. All over the world.

Who? Me?

Have you ever had one of those moments where you have walked in to a situation and thought, “What in the world am I doing here?”.

I do that at work, a LOT. I look at God incredulously a LOT and ask Him, “Do you REALLY think I belong here?”. You know, those days were you feel SO different.

Not smart enough. Not young enough. Not old enough. Not thin enough. Not “Holy” enough. Not male enough. Not female enough. Not “hip” enough. Not quiet enough. Not “soft” enough.

I do alllll the time. Now, I know you can say, we need to remember God created us all beautifully for a specific purpose! And I hear what you are saying because I get it. I just feel completely under-qualified 85% of the time. The other 15% of the time, I think I’ve got it.

Last night Chad and I were invited to a function. It felt like a hush-hush deal so I didn’t bring it up much at work. I felt privilege to have been afforded an invite. I was excited to see who would be there.

When we arrived, it was a small, narrow building and I saw some familiar faces right away. (Now remember, I am VERY socially awkward with small talk, even with people I love.)  I saw wonderful people from the worship and production teams and only a few others. People that I REALLY like and admire…but rarely have words to use around them in my awkwardness, so Chad and I were thankful to have a couple faces that we could connect with.

As the evening began, I was YET AGAIN in awe of the leader of our worship team. He truly has a heart for God. I am not close enough with his wife, but I can safely assume she does as well. As he started the evening, he took time to thank each and every person that had helped with the release of their first EP (“First” ironically is the name and you can click here to purchase it on Itunes now). As he walked through each name, you saw each person feel honored and hold their head a little higher because they were SEEN and Valued.

As I was looking around thinking, what am I doing here, I was praising God for such amazing people. We were in a room full of people that use their time, energy and gifts pouring their talents back out to the Lord who provided them all of those things.

And then, the leader said MY name. What?!?!? He said he was thankful for my support. Through the thick and thin they new I was always cheering for them and praying for them. Soooo, I teared up, because I couldn’t believe he’d point that out!!! Isn’t that what we are suppose to do? Love and support each other? Pray for each other? I felt like it was a privilege and honor to have a position where I can support and pray for them. Shouldn’t we all be doing that for each other?

So as I stood there praying my heart out, asking for God to show people His love and His mercy. I felt God strongly say there is someone here that NEEDS to know THEY ARE SEEN. I looked behind me and thought WOW, God must love her a LOT to be having me awkwardly step over and give her a big hug in the midst of it all. He wanted HER to know that she is KNOWN. Did I have a chance to truly explain that? Nope. But I am hoping she felt it through my look and hug. Sadly, she left before I could get to her again. I prayed God would stay with her.

Who in your life are you not SEEing? Who did He put in your life that you can support and pray for. Not in a big way, but in a way that says YOU MATTER.

What I learned today…Be thankful for those in your life. Acknowledge and honor the gifts God gave them. I need to always thank God for the opportunity to work for Him. And to constantly ask Him to show me who He needs me to tap on the shoulder, hug and let them know they are SEEN.

 

Pouting and Praise

Yesterday I threw a GINORMOUS tantrum. Yelling, guilt-throwing, crazy-lady tantrum. I was in an extreme pout mode. All I could think about was “What about me?”. I hadn’t been feeling good all week, but that is no excuse. I was tired, but that is no excuse. Felt behind on housework, school work and work work, but that is no excuse.

My frustration, when I boiled it down, came from my shame over the feeling I am a horrible mom. With one struggling in school, not enough time to really have  quality time with my boys, a house that is in constant disarray, meals that are generally take out, etc…etc… I, personally, was feeling down. What is the easiest thing to do? Lash out at those around me and point the fingers at everyone but myself.

Thankfully, after my husband reacted poorly to me reacting poorly, we were able to connect. It started with more finger pointing and tears, and all that goes along with these types of conversations. Thankfully, we have learned, over many successes and even more failures in communication, to KEEP talking.

After we started feeling that we were getting back on track to understanding each other, we were off to church. (Have you ever found that your craziest times are right before church?!?!)

When we arrived, I went in the row, with our friends following me, and then my husband capped the row off at the end. It was a strange feeling as usually we are always sitting together, but I blew it off.  I looked up to see an elderly couple walk it. I always love watching them come in as she is generally dressed beautifully and he is known to come in wearing sweats and flip-flops using his cane to help him keep up with her quick pace.

Last night, he had a bit of a hop in his step. He was wearing a black golfers hat and had dressed up a bit. As he walked, he was almost passing his cane in his hurry to sit down! At one point I though we’d have to pick him up if he fell!

The worship team started singing. Now worship is a bit different for me, as I am not very eloquent with my prayers, so I listen to the songs and sing them up to God. I happened to glance over to my favorite couple, and the man was doing every thing he could to praise God. He was immersed in the song, singing at the top of his lungs. That is when I noticed his hands. His right hand was holding his left hand as high as he could. It looked like his left hand won’t work on it’s own, so in order to praise God, he had to physically assist one side of his body. I know I am not describing the beauty of it in the right words. All I know is that I was bawling like a baby. I sang to Jesus at the top of my lungs captivated by this man. Thanking God for the opportunity to watch someone in a much worse physical predicament then me,praising God with all his heart!

It reminded me of where God has me now. Through the craziness of life, I need to continue to praise him in all circumstances. I need to be thankful for the intentional time I do get with my family, for the ability to work and go to school. For a house that is messy with items we have been allowed to buy to provide.

What I learned today…I shouldn’t concentrate on the past or the future. I should remember to constantly praise God through all circumstances and do the best I possibly can in each moment.

You Need a Plan for Your Life

I just finished a weekend with my first Life Planner. You might wonder why I decided to take the time and money to spend on getting a Life Planner as it’s a lot of what I do in my job. My goal in doing it was to affirm and confirm my current trajectory.

As I battle with consistently feeling inadequate in life, it was just amazing to me to see the way God made me laid out on 19 separate HUGE pages, lined across the walls.

My facilitator was wonderful. She shared my joys and pains as we walked through my life realizing that the first part of my life was used to build my strengths, the second part of my life (so far) was in me using and really owning my strengths, and this latest part of my life is in relying on God’s strengths.

There were a couple of difficult parts for me. They weren’t difficult because they were a surprise, but difficult actually speaking them out loud. I am GREAT at pointing out the amazing ways others are created, but it’s difficult for me to “promote” myself and it was a weekend of doing just that.

If you have the chance, I would HIGHLY suggest either heading to your closest Purpose Driven Church and taking CLASS 301 then meeting with a SHAPE Guide or contacting a Life Planner (I used a facilitator from The Paterson Center) to help you realize who YOU are built to be.

What I learned today… God has me on an intentional path and is giving me the skills to continue to be able to help more and more people realize their value and motivate them to be mobilized in to action!!

When You Are Down

So, we know I battle with feelings of inadequacy and go through waves of depression. One of the things I have found that helps me is to save the positive and affirming things that can lift me up. It could be a verse, a picture, a note, any number of things.

As I found a LOT of people battle with insecurity, our team decided to do something about it. First we became the team that encourages. We found that 8 out of 10 people enjoy being encourage and it’s lightens their day. When we have seen their responses, it then cause us to feel joyful.

Next, we all have “Happy Boxes” that we keep near our desks. Whenever someone leaves a quick note, sends a letter, emails a thank you, we put it in our Happy Box. When we are feeling a bit blue or feel like we aren’t making a difference, or not being used, or not effective…I could go on and on…we open our “Happy Box” and remember that God has us right where we are for a reason. We might not see it at the moment, but we have been loved, effective, used, etc…20160224_101933

If you don’t have one, start today. If you don’t feel like you are encouraged much, look harder. Save birthday and holiday cards. Even if the relationship has gone sour, you can remember better times. Save encouraging posts, verses, pictures. If someone says something positive about you on Social Media, copy and paste then print it and add it to your collection.

Most importantly, remember that you are never alone. That you are loved by the Most High. You are His son/daughter who He cherishes.

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.  ~ Augustine

God is love. He didn’t need us. But he wanted us. And that is the most amazing thing.  ~ Rick Warren

God’s unfailing love for us is an objective fact affirmed over and over in the Scriptures. It is true whether we believe it or not. Our doubts do not destroy God’s love, nor does our faith create it. It originates in the very nature of God, who is love, and it flows to us through our union with His beloved Son.  ~ Jerry Bridges

One of the greatest evidences of God’s love to those that love him is, to send them afflictions, with grace to bear them.  ~ John Wesley

 

Ephesians 3:14-21

A Prayer for the Ephesians

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family[a]in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 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, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

What I learned today…We all need a little pick me up every now and then. I am so thankful for all the notes left on my desk and encouraging emails. They bring me more joy than the writers will ever know.

Social Media and Jesus

I’ll never forget my first time…the first time I started to act like a Jesus follower on social media. Before that point, my posts generally contained a cuss word or what bordered on being a cuss word. Most pointed to crude humor, alcohol, sex or all three.

It’s who I was. I wanted everyone to see I was fun, edgy, had money, had friends, still looked good, etc…

Then something changed. Me. I started to learn more about the Bible and the way God wants me to behave and slowly but surely, I started to change my behavior.

As I grew in my relationship with God, I started to drink less, party less and read more. I was filling more of my time with people who were on the same spiritual journey with me. During this period, I remember going down to the beach for an all day party/bbq/bonfire.

When it started to get a bit later, and the alcohol started REALLY flowing, I said it was time to leave. We wanted to get to church in time. You would have thought I had said I was going to board a spaceship with my family. The incredulous looks we received were priceless. As we said our goodbyes, it was a bit awkward. Not on our part, but our friends could NOT believe that we were leaving a fun party with THEM to go to CHURCH!!!

As we got in the car, I started laughing with my husband. There was a time, not to long before that point, where we would have made fun of someone leaving a party to head to church. How LAME.

We had changed. Our priorities had changed. We still liked to hang out with our friends, but one of the values we have is to make sure we attend services on the weekends. When we don’t, we can feel the loss throughout our week!

That evening’s service included Luke 12:8-9 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.”

After seeing the reactions of my friends at the beach, I realized my social media life wasn’t reflecting the changes going on in my life. They were shocked that I’d stop and go to church, which meant I wasn’t representing the changes going on in my life for all to see.

I wanted to make sure I started publicly acknowledging Jesus. The easiest way for me to do that was on all of my social media channels. It might sound like no big deal to you, but to post something “Christian-y” was BIG for me.

As soon as I did it, I didn’t get disowned by friends. There were a couple of snarky comments (remember, I had changed a LOT by then), but the biggest response was others were excited for me, and thankful to see me standing up for what I believed in.

It has snowballed from there! I have never seen my self as much of an evangelist, but the amount of emails I have gotten since I took that leap of faith and started posting about my walk with Jesus, has been remarkable! Everything from, “I started going to church because of your posts”, to “I never read the Bible before, but the verses you post have made me start” and “I am getting baptized today and I want you to be there because your posts have changed my life”.

WHAT?!?!?!? Me? My posts on Social Media? Have done all that?!?!?! Generally I just post verses that I need to hear in that moment. I post encouragements that I need. I don’t post to impress or sway, I post when I am learning or God speaks to me through something I am reading.

What would it look like for you to post less “crude” and more about your walk with Jesus?

What would it look like to post an encouraging picture instead of one that would make your Grandma blush?

Who do you think you are connected to, that would change knowing you aren’t the perfect picture that you have been sharing on your pages?

Governments change, countries rise and fall…the church remains. Why waste time posting about something that won’t stand the test of time?

Why not spend your time fighting for JESUS? He is ETERNAL!

What would it look like to take over a media outlet with positive, inspiring, Biblical ways to live life?

It. Would. Be. Awesome.

What I learned today…We can all influence others by living our lives authentically. We all have a story, it takes huevos to share them, but if it means helping one more meet Jesus, we need to DO IT!!!!

I Am Fat

I am. I get it. Now, some will say, I’m not fat as they are bigger and others will say, yep, you are because they are much thinner.

In the past, I had gained weight with the kiddos and then lost it right away. It was easy as I was a VERY vain person, plus I saw the benefits of feeling healthy after exercising and eating right.

Now, to my “issues” I am working on. Back when I was thin…was before I started working at a church. I have actually gained over 55 lbs in the last 4 years. Why?

What I have been working on is realizing it’s because of my brokenness. In the world, to get ahead you either had to be a “wench” or “loose” to get anywhere. (I am being creative with my wording). I was an absolute wench, and I’d use my sexuality to get what I wanted.

Starting at a church, I thought I didn’t want to be noticed in any way. I started to observe that bigger people are over-looked and under-estimated. It’s true! Kind of like the different ways people treat you when you are driving a new Mercedes vs a 1994 Taurus. I realized recently, that I have been adding the pounds, to hide any part of the old me that could come through. I am now a MUCH nicer person, so no one could say I was succeeding because of my “wenchi-ness”, and with weight on, not to mention working at a church, no one could say I was using sensuality.

This is not an okay way to live! I realized as I looked in the mirror, enough is enough. I don’t even know what I’ll look like with less weight now. It’s been 4 years! Will I have more wrinkles? Probably. Will I be saggy? Probably. (Sorry, TMI). That doesn’t mean I should continue on this unhealthy path.

I am tired. At this point I can’t keep up with my boys. That SUCKS.

What I learned today…I need to start getting back in to a healthier lifestyle. I need to pray about my insecurities and get help. I need to remember, I have a God who loves me unconditionally. A God who is guarding and guiding me. I have a husband that has loved me through thick and thin (get it? BWHAHAHAHAH) and will be with me regardless.

What I learned today is I need to start to get back on track, today. Not next week. Today.

Will it be easy? No. Somehow I feel like I have aged more in the last 4 years than in the last 10 years! I miss looking in the mirror and liking what I see. I have let myself go in so many ways. I can’t wait to see how God can help me with this! I am putting it in to His hands.