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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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.

 

Day 1: Palm Sunday’s Triumphal Entry of Jesus in to the City

On the Sunday before his death, Jesus began his trip to Jerusalem, knowing that soon he would lay down his life for the sins of the world.

He sat on the young donkey and slowly, humbly, made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, fulfilling the ancient prophecy in Zechariah 9:9. The crowds welcomed him by waving palm branches in the air and shouting “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Matthew 21:1-11

Jesus Comes to Jerusalem as King

21 As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, say that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away.”

This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:

“Say to Daughter Zion,
    ‘See, your king comes to you,
gentle and riding on a donkey,
    and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.’”[a]

The disciples went and did as Jesus had instructed them. They brought the donkey and the colt and placed their cloaks on them for Jesus to sit on. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, while others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road.The crowds that went ahead of him and those that followed shouted,

“Hosanna[b] to the Son of David!”

“Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”[c]

“Hosanna[d] in the highest heaven!”

10 When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred and asked, “Who is this?”

11 The crowds answered, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.”

 

Read more here –  Mark 11:1-11, Luke 19:28-44, and John 12:12-19.

What I learned today…I can’t possible begin to imagine what Jesus went through riding in to the town, hearing the love…knowing what was about to happen.

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!!

Stuck on David: Numero Uno

I am completely stuck in 1 Samuel 17. The whole thing!!

For example, in the first 2 verses –

“Now the Philistines gathered their forces for war and assembled at Sokoh in Judah. They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah. Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines.” (vs 1-2)

Okay, something hit me. Notice the Philistines gathered their forces for war, while Saul and the Israelites assembled.

If I was a betting person, based on these two sentences, I would’ve bet on the Philistines. However, in life I don’t. When something needs to be done, I generally look for the fastest and the strongest. The ones who can get-it-done.

What these 2 verses remind me of, is that I might be trained to jump on the train of the fastest moving, shiniest, strongest looking, etc.. thing available, and I should be praying for who GOD wants me to lean on or fight for. Not necessarily who I think should be backing. God knows the story of everyone all around us. Those teams, groups, people who might not arrive to a task theand ready. They might be the ones who show up and need time to process the situation. It might even look like there is no way they could ever succeed at the deed…but if God wants them to, they will.

Who is around you that you may be overlooking? Do you consistently go to your “go-to” people rather than giving others a chance?

I am a firm believer in try. Try and succeed, woooo whoooo! Or Try and fail…and learn.

Both are okay.

What I learned today…I need to pray for God to open my eyes more to those around me that I might be overlooking.

Don’t “Pray” for Me

Have you ever come across people that say, “I’ll pray for you”, and as soon as they walk away, you have the feeling like that was just a parting Christian term that they say all the time? Me, too.

Are you someone who has said, “I’ll pray for you”, and then TOTALLY forgotten to actually do it? Me, too.

I have found the very best thing to do is –

  1. STOP and pray for them, with them right then and their.
  2. As you walk away, take a moment to pray for them, while you are walking away and it’s fresh in your mind.

With the first suggestion I have found that their is generally enough time to pray for someone. Why? Because that is what God would want us to do, so He extends the time for us! Tell you what, grab a watch with a second hand or a timer and watch 30 seconds go by. It’s actually quite a long period of time! If you wait for each second to pass, you see how a little can go a long way. Pray, even if it’s for 30 seconds, pray.

With the second option, make sure you take a moment and pray for them as you walk away. If people you are walking with start a conversation right up, say, “Hold on for just a second.”. You don’t have to say you are going to pray, or maybe you do.

God still listens to “microwave” prayers. You know, the quick ones that are “Please, God”. The goal is to talk to Him more!

What I learned today…To NOT be someone who just talks about praying for someone, but to consistently PRAY FOR THEM.

Helpful Hint – Wherever you seem to stop and pray for the longest time, or whatever area you look at the most, put up post-its of who you need to pray for. My list around my computer has names I change frequently, as I hear of prayers being answered, and others stay consistent as they are always in my prayers.

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EPIC Fail At Work

Okay, so yesterday was going great…until I failed in an EPIC way. Now, you might complete disagree with me, but just wait until after you hear it all… I even talked with a couple people about it, as they could tell I was “off” at an evening event…and they didn’t think it was epic…so you might not. BUT, it is to me.

At around noon I was invited to a meeting that started at 2:30pm concerning a project I am help with. I hit “attend” and didn’t think twice. When I arrived, there weren’t many people, and we weren’t waiting for many more per the leaders of the meeting. I thought it strange the leader of the project hadn’t shown up, yet, as he is fairly prompt.

I felt the nudge to call and see where he was.

I ignored it.

The meeting was about to start and I felt the nudge again.

I ignored it.

As they said, okay let’s get started, everyone is here – I felt the nudge…

Guess what?

I ignored it and thought he was probably called in to a meeting with people more important. (That can happen).

So, the meeting got started.

At the end of the meeting I went down to find the project leader and tease him for not being there.

He had not been invited.

UGH. Immediately I felt horrible. No, I wasn’t the one in charge of calling the meeting. No, typically I wouldn’t have looked at the invite list as I assume everyone is on the same page, BUT, it was very difficult to see the upset on his face and in his posture. Righteous frustration. I could understand that and I hurt for him.

Now, people have said, I had no epic failure here. A) I didn’t set it up. B) I wasn’t intentionally doing something wrong. The “miss” wasn’t mine to own.

I disagree.

The Holy Spirit was nudging me, and I ignored Him. I was being given clear instructions, and I wasn’t listening. I kept feeling that nudge and KNOW that 100% of the time, I am better off following through with whatever I’m getting nudged about it. I didn’t so missed an opportunity that hurt someone else.

Yes, my heart hurt for the frustration of the situation for my co-worker. But I felt even worse that I ignored GOD, who was trying to get my co-worker in to that meeting.

I failed.

What I learned today…Follow what the Holy Spirit is nudging me to do regardless of what I think. I am obviously not in the “know” like He is.

Article On Me Being Mean

I wanted to share an article that was written by one of the amazing women on my team, who I was VERY strong with.

Check out what she wrote…

Iron sharpens iron – http://wp.me/p75LYu-2F

What I learned from it…Trust God even when it is uncomfortable.

Armor on Or Off?

I learned a great lesson today.

Fairly consistently, I am telling people to Armor Up. There are a couple references to why I say that, but the one I am thinking of when I say it 99% of the time is from…

Ephesians 6:13-17 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

When it feels like you are being “hit from all sides” remember this verse. When you feel a bad day starting, remember this verse. Imagine putting each of these items of armor on. Visualize it!

Back to what I learned today. Though I am always saying armor up, I never thought about having to take the armor OFF. Sometimes we can use armor as a shield or wall. We can hide in it.

If you have a Bible, grab it and turn to 2 Kings 5. It’s in the Old Testament, which is the first book in the Bible. Don’t worry if you have to look in the Table of Contents, we all have to start somewhere!

Now there is a LOT of juicy stuff to talk about in this chapter but we are concentrating on Naaman. He was a super star as a commander of an army. Everyone thought he was amazing. What they didn’t know, was that he hid having leprosy. Back then leprosy was a sign of being unclean or sinful. He had to hide it under his armor. When it came to the point of starting to be able to show, A servant girl told him she knew of someone that could help him.  She sent him to Elisha a profit (this is the abbreviated version). Elisha didn’t even come to the door, he sent another servant to tell Naaman to go wash himself seven times in the Jordan.

This enraged Naaman. How dare a servant be sent to talk to him. Like he’d ever do something like go exposed himself, and the leprosy he carried, in front of all at the river! IF the request was to do something great and noble, that would be easy, but to bare himself and show his “sin”?! That was a LOT.

He ended up trusting the advice, and being completely healed. How? It took him having to do something uncomfortable and scary in order to be cured. The prophets, who were directed by God told him he would have to do something difficult to reap a great reward, he did it. As a commander, he went down to the water….TOOK OFF HIS ARMOR for all to see, and continued to follow the direction of washing away the disease.

If God asked you to bare your sins for all, so you could be healed, could you? Would you do something hard, if it meant growing with Him?

What if that means daring to be a little more authentic with the people around you? What if it means forgiving someone who has hurt you? What if it means seeking help for alcohol? Drugs? Co-dependence? What if it means you let someone know you battle depression? Porn? What if it means letting someone know you need financial direction? When If it means asking for help with your marriage?

Can you trust God to help you, when you take off your armor?

What I learned today…God wants the absolute best for us. Sometimes that means taking us through challenging times…to get us to the place He wants us to be. We need to trust Him and pray for discernment (fancy word for insight or understanding), strength and direction.

 

 

Women? YUCK. Part 1

When I first started going to our church, I avoided Women’s Ministry like the plague. I know I’m not alone, and I know some of you men avoid Men’s Ministry as well!

After a couple of years, I heard God firmly saying, “GO”. At the time, I had felt as though the ministry was for “pretty” OC Housewives. Coming from running my own company, I couldn’t relate. Didn’t God understand that?

I’ll never forget, when I heard the “Go” from Him, it was January. Each small group was asked to start the latest campaign that our church was doing. I had decided to join a Monday night study, hoping there would be both working women who I could relate to and young moms with kids, who I could also relate to now that I was choosing to be a stay at home mom. That wasn’t a lot to ask, right? I mean, with Him telling me to go, He could at least make it comfortable for me.

I decided to park far from where it was being held, so I could still try and talk God out of me going. That is how strongly I felt. Needless to say, I kept walking. When I arrived, there were some great smiles that greeted me. I also started listening in to conversations that were going on near the entrance with some of the, what looked to be leaders. They were all discussing how angry they were as they were being forced to stop their current study to start this new campaign. I went straight to God and said, “SEE! They don’t even want me here! You wanted me to come and to do this study and they don’t want us here!”

I continued in and was pointed to a table…not with the young women I had asked for…or working women…but with a group of retirees. What?!? What was He thinking???

The women were welcoming and wonderful. When I mentioned how great it would be to learn from their wisdom, they laughed and said, “I don’t know about wisdom, but we can share in all the ways we are doing things wrong. Hopefully that can help you!”

Through the study, I was able to get a peek in to their lives and them in to mine. As the weeks went on, they introduced me to the Women’s Ministry Leader. I LOVED her! After a short talk, she invited me to a Women’s Leadership Meeting. Now, hold on. I didn’t even want to be in a study, much less be a part of the leadership team! I prayed about it and realized that God had been steering me in the right direction, regardless of my thoughts and suggestions to Him.

I accepted the invitation and walked into the leadership meeting with my jaw all but dropping to the floor when I walked in and looked around. The long rectangle tables were set in a rectangle so everyone could face each other. Each either end, there was a leader of the studies being doted on by other ladies. It looked like a crazy sorority competition! Women adoring the individual leaders, petting their hair, etc… It FREAKED me out. As the meeting went on, I was called on a couple of times and mentioned how the room felt very segregated. The women’s ministry leader was trying her hardest to command attention, but you could tell there was a lack of respect. It was frustrating.

In a way, this was a new beginning for me on my journey. Though I wanted with all my heart to jump in with “leadership” lessons, and reorganize the way it was it done, I knew with all my heart, God was asking me to be still and only speak up when asked a direct question. That was a LOT to ask of a prideful leader. It was HARD, but I listened and I learned, a LOT.

The WM Leader became my mentor. She went through heartbreaking ups and downs for the next couple of years fighting indescribable hardships within the ministry. Through it all I was in awe of her relationship with Christ growing stronger and stronger.

Tomorrow I’ll share about one of the horribly prideful moments I had as I grew in that ministry, and how some of my mentor’s words stirred my soul and changed my way of thinking.

What I learned today…Not to forget the lessons of yesterday, and who taught them. And God’s direction is the BEST for us, regardless of how we feel in the moment.