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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Old Friends, Rock’n Roll & My Big Butt

Saturday night we were invited to a party and a friend’s house and another friend’s band was playing their yearly St. Patty’s Day gig.

I would love to say I was having a hard time deciding which one to go to, but I wasn’t. My heart wanted to attend both and have fun like the “good ‘ole days”, but my mind was saying…NOOOOOOOOO! Have you seen your butt?!?!?

I have already written about my insecurity about my size. I have started the road to becoming healthier. I have NOT gotten my self-esteem on track with the issue. Did I REALLY want to go to two different parties and have a BLAST with old friends, catching up with them and their lives, hearing about their families? Of course I did. Was I going to allow myself to be stopped by my own insecurities? Of course.

That played in to the tantrum I wrote about yesterday as well.

We went to our church service, and as I walked in, I realize how much of our lives have changed. Do I miss going crazy and partying each weekend? To be honest, yes, sometimes. Do I miss hanging out watch friends get crazy and dance around? Yes, sometimes. But I realized, we were sitting in service with our best friends. They have been a constant for the last 3 years. They know the new redeemed and transformed Julie and Chad.

I sat there asking God if I would ever feel comfortable with my size. He reminded me I am working on it and with His help all things are possible. I told Him I was sad I wasn’t able to go see old friends perform…and then an old friend walked on to the stage. At church. To sing. I almost giggled out loud as my eyes welled with tears. emily b She sang a beautiful song that went straight to my heart. Even these lyrics that were on the screen as I took the picture… It reminded me, If God is with me, who can be against me?

I don’t have to worry about my big butt. Jesus loves me right where I am. He wants me to be healthy, but I shouldn’t stop going places and doing things because of how I look. I have nothing to prove. I can enjoy life knowing that I have no one to prove myself too.

What I learned today…My God loves me, unconditionally and will be with me wherever I go. I need to kick my insecurities to the curb and keep THAT fresh in my mind. No more excuses or big “buts”.

 

 

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.

How Informal Are You

We had a staff meeting about Informality. It is one of the Values we have here at my church that we hold dear.

At one point the moderator asked everyone who is naturally informal to raise their hand and around 80% of the staff did. Then he asked for those who struggle to make sure they are informal to raise their hands. I raise my hand for the later. When I did that, I saw multiple faces show shock.

In my current work place I am very informal 80% of the time. It is a struggle, which does surprise most people. By nature, I am fairly uptight about the workplace. My mom taught me an extremely strong work ethic, so time spent chit-chatting has been something I have had to learn over the last 4 years. It hasn’t been easy.

As I have learned a fruitful life is less about production and protocol and more about people and relationships. Again, I have LEARNED and continue learning as when I have a lot going on and a ton to do, it is still difficult for me to stop for conversation. However, Jesus modeled that some of the best Ministry comes out of interruptions.

What I learned today…

I will continue to work on being present and informal so as to set people at ease, help the feel comfortable and truly be engaged in relationships.

I will continue to spend time intentionally being loud and goofy, when I can, remembering it is more relatable.

I will also fight the urge not to be “all business” as I don’t work in a setting where it is all business.

I will work through the pull of my head to be stern in circumstances, and be more understanding.

I will pray for God to give me the wisdom to know the right and wrong times for informality and that I don’t come off too strong, but as a very loving, hard working, leader.

Worldly vs Eternal Families

If you gave a party for ALL of your aunts, uncles, cousins, and grandparents, what would it be like and what would you do?

(Mine would look like a hot mess, and I would TRY my best to love everyone regardless of the arguments breaking out.)

What does the word family mean to you?

What are some of the benefits of being in a family?

What are some of the responsibilities?

How are the people in your family the same?

How are they different?

God’s family is like yours in some ways. If you gave a party and invited your church family, it would probably look a lot like the family that God gave you. Why? Because we are all broken. We are all someone’s daughter or son, mom or dad, brother or sister. Someone in your church family could act exactly like the ones do at your home party, but you know them in a different context.

If someone was looking at your life as a Christian, would they want to be a part of God’s family? That is a HUGE question for all of us. I remember hearing an old song growing up with a verse in it that said, “They will know we are Christians by our love”. Does someone know you are a Christian just by the way that you act? They should!

Do your best to watch your actions and words this weekend. INSIDE your house with your family, at church AND out in the world.

Be a great influence with your behavior.

“You are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.” Ephesians 2:19

What I learned today…Everyone I look at, every day, is a brother or sister. They were made on purpose, for a purpose by God. I need to start loving and respecting EVERYONE more.

 

Hypocrites

They are everywhere. You can’t get away from them anywhere, Right?!? Even in my mirror I see one! It could be that I am telling people around me to do something I am not willing to do. It could be I tell my kids not to lie or steal…and then sneak candy in to the theater.

We are ALL hypocrites. Some are just louder than others depending on how we look at the situation. For example…if I am a theater goer with limited income, I find it absolutely fine to go to the theater with food in my bag as I can’t afford the ridiculous prices for snacks there. If I am the theater owner, wondering how I am going to pay for the HD screens I just had to buy and the skyrocketing price of purchasing the films for my theater, I am going to be upset when people come in with their own snacks, as now how do I pay for employees and a great experience for my guests?

Perspective.

One thing I want to concentrate on, that I do fairly frequently, is the verse from 2 Corinthians 5:20 “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ“.

Ambassador    (per Dictionary.com)

1. a diplomatic official of the highest rank, sent by one sovereign or state to another as its resident representative (ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary)

2. a diplomatic official of the highest rank sent by a government to represent it on a temporary mission, as for negotiating a treaty.

3. a diplomatic official serving as permanent head of a country’s mission to the United Nations or some other international organization.
4. an authorized messenger or representative.
I am a Christ Follower! That means I am a representative of His!
So if I truly understand what the word ambassador means, I am His representative here on earth.
When I am in a long line and irritated.
When I yell at my kids, spouse, friends.
When I gossip about someone.
When I don’t treat my neighbors well.
When I ignore people.
When I post negative and hurtful things on Social Media.
This makes being a Christ follower HARD for me! I have to be good, and my nature is to do the opposite of whatever I am supposed to be doing.
As I grow and learn how to behave as someone who isn’t just a Fan of Jesus, but has made the choice to Follow His teaching, I am reminded that I am accountable for my actions.
Just like if an ambassador from another country was doing something they shouldn’t, it would be all over the news and we’d all have a snarky comment regarding it. I should be a stellar example of what a Christian looks like.
I am a broken, flawed, difficult to handle human being. So I am not going to get it right all of the time. My goal is to do the best I can. Praying that it’s a little better each day.
What I learned today…I need to “Represent” (to be read with an accent) Jesus well. I need to do my best to be kind in all situations, even if it’s HARD, and I need to keep reading the Bible to find more directions on how to behave.

EXCITED!

I had the BEST meeting yesterday.

Phase 1 –

Our pastor lit a fire under our staff, reminding everyone that we NEED to be connected with God. Nothing is more important than our relationship with Jesus. (Can I get an AMEN?!)

If ministry is keeping you too busy…so busy you don’t have time with God, STOP YOUR MINISTRY.

Personally, I am a completely ordinary and broken woman. I am selfish and prideful. I am whiney and weak. If I am not talking to AND listening to God daily (usually LOTS-O-TIMES during the day), I – Julie – will be coming out in my ministry, not Jesus. That is NO BUENO.

Now I know it might be different for others, who work outside of the church. And you can excuse it with how you can’t talk about God at work, you talk to Him before work or after work, knowing the Bible won’t logically help you at YOUR job.

That is WRONG.

God actually wrote – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Colossians 3:23-24

That was written for people working EVERYWHERE! It was even written for those working IN the home. No excuses!

Think of what it would be like, if more of us – wherever we are, are reading the Bible to learn more about how God wants us to live…and then being a LIVING testimony to those around us. At all times! Before, during and after anything we are doing!

Having people watch how YOU are behaving in good and bad situations – You being that example someone needs to influence them to start their own relationship with Jesus. That is powerful. That can forward the kingdom. Just by your actions!

Go to church! You will not only learn what the Bible says, but you will learn to get along with others. How? When you really belong to a church, you realize it is truly a family. The good that bad and the crazy. AND you can grow in learning how to deal with it all more than you could ever imagine.

And it’s worth it.

Phase 2 –

Walking out of the meeting I saw a co-worker I hadn’t seen in a while.

Now let me first say, I LOVE that God has given me a gift of seeing how beautifully people were built. But with that comes the burden of seeing when people are doing something they are NOT built for as well. That part is no fun.

When I saw this guy, I immediately remembered the last time I had seen him as he was getting comfortable in a new position. At that time, I had seen clearly that it was a temporary position for him. Something he COULD do, but not necessarily what he SHOULD be doing.

I asked how his new position was treating him, (a NewER position than the last time) and his response was AWESOME. His eyes automatically lit up and he said he loves it. When I probed a bit, he said he knew the position would be opening and he might be asked about it. It wasn’t anything he had ever thought of, but went to God with it and asked if that was the direction he should step in. God said YES.

As he was talking, he became more and more animated and excited, then proceeded to bring out his phone and started excitedly showing pictures of all they are doing.

It was AWESOME! By being obedient to God by going in to a position that he wasn’t built for, and stewarding it well, God was then able to open a position that was a perfect match.

Are you in a position you are not built for? Do the BEST YOU CAN as if working for the Lord, not man…as HE does have better for you.

And my prayer for you is for you to find that job that makes you excited to wake up and go to work. That is the perfect fit for you. I pray that you don’t waste time where you are at now. That you use this time to learn as much as you can to prepare you for the next step.

If you never get to that next step, I pray that when you appear before God, He has the biggest smile on his face and says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” and you get the HUGE reward that is promised for your hard work.

What I learned today…Stay connected to God through the Bible, Church services, small group and prayer. That way HE comes out in my work and life. AND keep in mind who I really work for. That He has my best interest at heart and I just need to be the best ME I can be in any situation He puts me in.