Check That Verse Off

 

So I failed my husband. NO, not in the way you might think. Let me start with a verse that I thought I had down. A verse that I thought I could check off the list of what a “good” Christian looks like.

Read with me –

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Don’t conform? Check (I don’t live a life like culture dictates)

Be transformed? Check (I have had a complete transformation)

Renew my mind? Check (I am much nicer and read the Bible)

Test and approve what God’s will is? Check (He IS in control after all)

THEN, life happens and this verse took on a whole new meaning.

Back in December of 2015, my husband’s company decided to move his division to the East Coast. We had the opportunity to go, but after prayer, we stayed. Since that point, I have been a “model” loving and supportive wife. Rather than jump in and constantly question him about his job search, I have stood back and been quietly supportive.

That is NOT in my natural character… It has been tough…and then…

I started letting little things that bother me pile up. I started feeling fear creep in…and I BLEW UP. Not in a nice way, but in a way where I was bringing up anything and everything that I had stuffed inside. I brought up that it had been eight months and if it were ME I would have had a job in 2 weeks. AND that I would have this or that and how he wasn’t doing any of it.

I blew up.

I then left for some school shopping and started praying for God to help HIM because boy did HE need it. I prayed for God to help me – the saint – to endure this difficult time. I prayed for God to teach HIM whatever he needed to learn so we would be over this challenge.

And then, God hit me…with Romans 12:2

Read it with me, again…

Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will.”

Do not conform to the pattern of this world. – Do what it takes to get what you want?

Be transformed. – Had I really been transformed that much, to react in such a horrible way?

The renewing of your mind. – Was I constantly renewing my mind? Or did I think it was a one and done?

Able to test and approve what GOD’S Will is. – So I put a time limit on what I thought should happen. I was counting the days and at eight months it still hadn’t gone the way I though it should. Was I doubting God’s will being good, pleasing and perfect?

As I walked through all of this in my mind, I realized I had to apologize to my husband.

When I walked in the door, he braced himself for what could only be another beat down by his wife as it had only been a couple of hours. I proceeded to apologize. I told him how very sorry I was for putting a time limit on him. I apologized for playing a good wife for eight months, rather than just becoming one. I apologized for thinking that I HAD been renewed and transformed, rather than realizing it’ll be a lifetime of continual renewal and transformation.

I let him know how much I love him and how I will try and be a better wife.

What I learned…I need to embrace the whole journey. There will never be a point where I “arrive” this side of heaven. I need to keep score less and love much, much more.

In what ways can you stop keeping score with people in your life?

In what ways can you love others better?

 

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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.

 

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

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.

Not the Lord’s Prayer!

I grew up hating the Lord’s prayer. Why? Because whenever something bad would happen, I would be told, “God says to forgive” “You HAVE to forgive, we say it in our prayers”. Regardless of how I felt about being hurt or taken advantage of, I was constantly reminded of the Lord’s Prayer “Forgive others” Matthew 6:12.

When I heard our Pastor was going to teach on the Lord’s prayer, years ago, I didn’t want to go to service. Though I had told God I would go to every weekend service, I didn’t want to go, just to be made to feel bad that I didn’t forgive people that had been hurting me as a child.

Of course, I went. And God did what God does…He showed me something new in the Lord’s prayer. Well, I learned a lot that is new, but what changed my trajectory, was hearing someone say the verses out loud to me. Read Matthew 6:12 now…

“and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us.”

What does it say BEFORE it talks about forgiving others?

Forgive US OUR sins. CRAP! All the years I spent not loving this prayer, pointing fingers at others, holding on to resentment, anger and hate. All the years spent VERY angry that God wanted me to forgive, when I didn’t want to…

Jesus, in this prayer, taught us to ask for forgiveness first. Man, He has always worked overtime forgiving me for all I have done. I had not been a great person. I was the prodigal daughter out to please myself in the world for a long period of time. Here God was, speaking to me through this prayer. Telling me to remember that I have a lot of baggage on my shoulders that I should be working on, not worrying about pointing fingers at people who have wronged me.

Think of the verse Matthew 7:5 “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

I started praying….God, I am so very sorry for all I have done. I know I have made HUGE sins against you. I know in my heart you can forgive me right away, but please help heal my mind. Help me grasp on to the truth that you already knew what I’d do and have already forgiven me because you love me so much. Thank you for sending your Son to pay for all of my sins. God, help me work on myself more. Help me learn to be as forgiving as you. I love you and trust you.

I now absolutely love the Lord’s prayer. I encourage you to read Matthew 6 and see what God has to say about someone you haven’t forgiven. And start praying.

Matthew 6

What I learned today…To remember to recite the Lord’s Prayer and be thankful Jesus came to be and example and teach us how to live.

Don’t Argue With Me

I love to argue.

I mean, I LOVE to argue.

PTC (Prior To Christ changing my life) I took sadistic pleasure in “teaching” people lessons. I had a way of turning the tides to make someone who had disagreed with me, feel bad about disagreeing with me. I looked for battles to win. I looked for ways I could come out on top.

Why? Because I battled with feelings of inadequacy. They small glimpses of pride I’d feel when I would win an argument, was an addiction. Each feeling of success after a win wouldn’t last long, so I’d crave more.

Now when you get married…you have someone to argue with ALL THE TIME! Generally, you marry your opposite, which makes it SO EASY TO DO, too.

I was a pro, for YEARS at arguing about everything with my husband. Creating wedge after wedge in our marriage, doing my best to make him feel unworthy of me. Yes, that sounds harsh, but I had to protect myself. I had such a low self-esteem, I felt I had to make others feel horrible, so I looked better.

I know, sick. (Not in the cool new way “sick” is said, but in the “That is HORRIBLE” way).

Since coming to Jesus (meaning, starting and growing a relationship with Him through the Bible), I have learned to have more confidence in myself. Not only that, but I also have learned to NOT argue. For example, in the car the other day, I was almost egged in to an argument. I knew I was right, my husband knew HE was right…and we could have circled the topic forever. Instead of getting drawn in to it, I just said, “Okay”.

To take time to argue over something that will have no effect on absolutely anything, is a waste of time. Now don’t get me wrong, there are PLENTY  of things to stand up for…but that is different than arguing. I can stand up for what I believe it, but I will not waste time arguing about it. I can inform people concerning what I believe in, but I won’t defend it.

I do raise a stink every now and then…who am I kidding, quite often, when I feel someone is being unjustly treated. I have said before, and I’ll say it again, I believe we are all brothers and sisters regardless of you believing it or not. That being said, it is my job to do what Jesus asked of me and that is to LOVE God and LOVE you. All of you.

To some, that is a cop-out. To me, it’s a marriage saver. To me, it’s healthy way to live.

What I learned today…Choosing NOT to argue over everything, can save marriages and friendships. It can save time and keep me healthy. I can physically, mentally and emotionally stop myself from being drawn into arguments and I should.

See if you can “turn the other cheek” when someone baits you in to an argument.

I promise, it feels good to not grab the bait.