Confessions of a Girls Minister

IMG_5338.PNGIt isn’t an official title for me. Our church doesn’t have a “Girls Minister” position on staff. I’m not hired or paid or otherwise recognized as the girls minister by any church member, but if the shoe fits…..I’ll wear it. In fact I have been wearing it since I said yes to this call on my life for this particular season of my life about 1 year ago. It isn’t always an easy shoe to wear, though, and I don’t always wear it gracefully. But the shoe does fit. And I do wear it. And I’m sure that any other woman who finds herself walking this road like me and (wearing these shoes too!) will tell you that to do this thing will prove over and over how truly incapable we are to do it alone. We need Jesus daily. And we don’t always wear the shoes well. We fail. We mess it up. We sometimes want to quit it.

But you. I think about you. And I think about what God is doing for you even as you read this.

You see, I didn’t always want to do this. In the early days, girls seemed, to me, like too much work- too much drama to keep up with for this non-drama queen. And to be honest, girls, you are a lot to keep up with. (I mean, let’s just be honest.) Your friendships that bloom for a season and then unexpectedly wilt away break my heart too. Your relationships (you know, those boyfriends) that take you away from our tribe and then seem to somehow deliver you back to us when it just didn’t work out isn’t always easy for me to understand. (And I’ll tell you that he wasn’t God’s best for you at the time whether you believe me or not.) Because when your heart breaks, mine does too. Your homework and all the teacher drama….I know it. High school is hard! Your indecisiveness about life and boys and plans makes me a little crazy sometimes. But I stick it out. And because of it I’m growing too. Your complaints about all there is to do and then the look in your eyes when I ask if you’re waking up an hour early to be at Sunday school on Sunday morning makes me want to just quit asking sometimes because I know the answer your heart wants to give isn’t the answer that comes out of your mouth….usually. But if I mention it, you might go.You’ll think about it at least.

And come to think of it- you never did ask me to take this journey with you, but here we are.

I love what I do. And I do it because that’s my assignment from God and because you matter. To love you. To look after you. To feed you. To help you. To guide you. To pray for you. To go on occasional adventures with you.To celebrate with you. But most importantly, to point you to Jesus. I didn’t birth you, but you are as much a part of my life and I feel like a mom sometimes. In fact, I can’t imagine what my life would look like without you in it. I can’t imagine a night without a text conversation about life and dreams and Jesus- or nothing in particular. I love that you do that. I can’t think about what I might do if I didn’t have you to celebrate life’s big moments with- even if those big moments are nothing more than a passing grade on the exam you’ve stressed all week about. It’s a big deal, girls. And I want to celebrate it. And sometimes just surviving the stress together is enough to celebrate! I can’t imagine not constantly thinking about how to serve you better or how to make more time to do this thing that you’ve talked about doing (going places, making recipes, Pinterest projects- you name it)….just because it looks or sounds like fun. I don’t know what life would look like without Bible study and dinner and the ridiculous amount of laughter you bring to my days. And the truth is, I don’t want to imagine it.

But more than all that, I want you to know this one thing. I care a whole lot about you. And it isn’t just because you’re funny and we have fun together or you’re a part of the youth group. In fact, it isn’t that at all. I care because I can see that thing God has put inside of you that will equip you to be a world changer some day. You probably don’t see it. In fact, you’re probably reading this and thinking about how crazy it sounds. But I see it. I see how you care about your friends. And how you work so hard to do everything you have to do and still somehow manage to earn passing grades…most of the time. I commend your efforts to balance life, love, learning, and the to-do lists from mom. You work so hard at keeping it all together. I see how God is working in your life on the outside, although I trust that he’s working on the inside- in your heart- too. I see your eyes light up on Monday nights when you’re talking with the girls or when the discussion around the circle tugs at a heart string. I see how gifted and talented you are in so many areas and how beautiful you are from the inside out. I pray often that you see it too. I pray that you’ll grow up to find the man that sees just how beautiful you are from the inside out- and when you find him, you’ll know. I see the struggle to be all you can be and fit in pulling at you. And I lose sleep at night thinking about how to help you really see that putting Jesus first in ALL things is the answer every time. Every single time. And those tears? Yeah. I cry for you too. I think about all the ways the world will try to change you and how much this time matters. It matters so much, girls. Yet, we have so little time.

I’ll confess that I worry about you when you don’t show up for Bible study or church or special events. I notice when you haven’t texted, called, or stopped by for a visit in a while. I try to give you your space, but I always hold a spot for you in my heart and mind, or on the couch in case you just need to talk it out. I may not have all the answers, but I do listen. And I pray. And I pour over ways that I could do this better because I want you to know that more than anything you’re cared about and you’re loved. And it thrills my heart to see you love Jesus so much.

I get excited when you talk about how good your Bible study is. (And I thank God that you’re actually doing it!) I love hearing about ways you see the Lord working in your life or prayers that you know he’s answered. I hold on to hope that you’ll be different than the world and that you’ll grow deep roots in Jesus now that will sustain you in the future. I want you to grow up to be a woman of character and integrity and I want you to know that you don’t have to have a boyfriend, have sex, use ugly language, or copy the world’s ways in order to live your life to the fullest. You don’t have to be anything other than you….and in fact, I really just like the original you anyway. Your innocence is something to hold on to and not be ashamed of. Your purity is a precious gift. Your purpose is divine and God has an amazing journey ahead for you if you’ll keep your eyes focused, your hands free, and your book open. Just let God write your story.

Every piece of my story thus far has brought me to this place. I’ve lived a beautiful life, but living life with you is my favorite (and so fun in all the ways). You inspire me. You challenge me. At times, you break me. You show me how much I need to give and receive grace. You make me proud. You keep me humble and you always, always, help me walk in these shoes like I was meant to walk in them. One foot in front of the other. Holding hands with Jesus the whole way….and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I love you.

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Let’s Pause.

It was Wednesday. There was a season in my life that I loved Wednesdays. I loved the day so much because it was a “pause day” for me. And by that I mean that it was really the only day of my 5-day work week that allowed me to breathe a little bit. I’d go really hard Monday and Tuesday, pause Wednesday, and finish the week strong on Thursday and Friday. Something about the middle of the week, a few hours of scheduled white space on the calendar, and being able to rest made me fall in love with the day week after week. You see, every other day, I’d get up in the morning before the sun, make it to work, come home mid-afternoon and begin teaching piano lessons until dark. Monday. Tuesday. Thursday. I did this. At first it was fun and there were lots of great benefits. I taught kids I love and it gave me a great opportunity to see their parents (whom I still love and consider my friends….). But Wednesday. Something about having the freedom to come home from work and rest or just sit quietly was so good for my soul. I remember sitting on the couch in silence for the hour or so I had before I could recognize the semi-gentle roar of the weed eater or the hum of the lawn mower and my neighbor cutting the grass just outside the window. I knew that it had to be about 4:30 in the afternoon and it was time to get moving. I remember waking up on Monday and Tuesday mornings with this thought in mind, “I just have to make it to Wednesday.” I’d replay it over and over while I’d get ready for the day in those pre-dawn morning hours…it was like my fight song, my “get through the day” phrase. In addition to the moments of stillness and quiet Wednesday delivered, it also meant that our youth group was meeting for mid-week services. Now, if that isn’t good for your soul, then I don’t know what is! A little afternoon quiet, an open schedule, and Jesus. Beautiful things. And I loved everything about Wednesdays.

When my piano lesson season came to an end, the other days of my week started looking and feeling a lot like Wednesdays. I found time to cook dinner, have friends over, and overall my life seemed to take some deeper, more meaningful breaths. I didn’t realize how much I needed that. And then before I knew it the weeks started to fill up again….with good, fun things that I loved. However, I noticed the slow drift toward crazy happening again. When my schedule gets a little (or a lot) over-booked, my soul begins to get overwhelmed and I can’t really find the words to describe what happens to me other than crazy. I can feel the heaviness of it. I know when this happens I need to slow down and find a more comfortable pace.

I’ve never been a runner. But, I do know that I wasn’t built to sprint- physically speaking. My legs burn, my chest burns, my feet can’t keep up, and I lose steam too quickly. If anything, a slow jog is about the extent of my running capability. Even that [at times] is a sight to behold. When I’m sprinting, I miss everything around me. Not necessarily by choice but by default. I’m focused on getting ‘there’ (wherever that is). I usually pick a road sign or a mailbox to run to and do everything in my power to make it to that self-created finish line. Even if it means having to stop when I get there. I can’t really enjoy the journey because I need to reach the end so that I can breathe! No kidding! Breathing and letting my legs and my lungs rest becomes the goal….not so much the finish line itself. My recovery time is longer and honestly, I realize in these moments exactly why it is that I hate running. But when I jog at a more manageable pace, a smarter pace, I take in the sights and sounds around me. I pay attention to the path a little more. I don’t burn out so quickly. And the time it takes to rest and recover is much less. The same is so true about my life. I desperately want to do all the things. I want to be a part of everything I can because it looks like living and in the moment it might even feel a little like living. But overwhelming my schedule inevitably overwhelms my soul and I will, I WILL lose steam. That’s why I’m learning that living life is much fuller and more enjoyable at a bit of a slower pace. Just like jogging, I can take in the sights and sounds of the journey and pay attention to my path.

On Monday night I discovered the beauty of a pause. It did not happen on a planned day set aside for the moment. It was unexpected, yet much needed. I’ve been very busy teaching school, and doing ministry, and living life with my people that my time with the Lord was slipping further and further behind. I talk to him throughout the day everyday, but I’m always in route to the next activity. Our talks are short and sweet and have mostly been one-sided…Kindall has done much of the talking lately. Very rarely have I paused to be still and quiet and catch up with my creator. I felt bad that I hadn’t devoted the time I knew I should have to Him- especially considering that I was leading our girls’ bible study talk about relationships and I had neglected the most important one for much of the week. I knew that once 6:00pm arrived, there would be no time left to prepare and all quiet would be gone for the next three hours. As that time drew nearer and nearer, I could feel my nervousness grow inside of me- and I knew why. So, I whispered a silent prayer to the Lord and simply said this, “I’m so sorry. I need you again. Give me the right words to say to these girls. It’s all you tonight, God.” And then the doorbell rang.

I don’t often share too many details about our girl time on Monday nights. I protect it because it’s sacred and special to me. It is truly an answered prayer. However, you should know this: Bible study begins at 7pm. Girls begin arriving at 6pm or so to mingle and sip sweet tea and catch up on the week. By 7:20pm, my living room and kitchen is usually overflowing with girls. And it is loud. Very loud. Monday night, the fun spilled out onto the front yard and into the backyard as small pods of girls laughed and shared stories and ate dinner together. I soaked in those moments as I do every single Monday night. By 9:20pm everyone had gone home and I sat on the couch in awe of what had just taken place. I’m not sure why the whole night impacted me so much…I am a crier (I do know this!), but I don’t usually cry over bible study (usually). It was as if God pulled me in close and whispered, “See, I held you!” He carried me through bible study Monday night. He allowed me to be a character in his story and I suddenly felt overcome with a sense of gratitude and humbleness that he would use me. He would use the one who tends to over-do it on every occasion and forgets to pause when it’s time. Pause ImageAnd when I realized how God had come through for me in so many ways Monday night, I couldn’t help but pause. For a few moments in the silence of the house where just an hour ago 32 young women sat listening and taking in those truths, I now sat alone with God and was completely blown away by his goodness. He breathed more life into my weary, worn-out soul than I could have ever found on my own. And I knew then why physically, mentally, and emotionally pausing to spend these moments with God needed to be a part of my life daily.

I’m not sure about you. Maybe you’re like me in the fact that life doesn’t always lend itself nicely to pausing. Or, maybe finding time to pause comes easily for you. Wherever you find yourself, try taking a few moments at some point in your day to slow down and get eye to eye with the Lord. I think you’ll find that there’s life and peace and rest in our pause.