Friday, November 27, 2009

Shop Online and Support Word of Hope Ministries!

Word of Hope Ministries is getting off the ground this month, and we covet your prayers and support as we provide Biblical Counseling and other services to women and their families.

One of the ways you can support the ministry is by accessing both Christian Book Distributors or Amazon online, via the Word of Hope Ministries website, and then making your purchases as usual. A small percentage will go to this ministry, as long as you have accessed it through our website without clicking out of the bookstore before purchasing.

Maybe you are planning to do some Christmas shopping online – if CBD or Amazon have what you are looking for, it would be much appreciated if you would go ahead and click on our website first,, then click the “resources” category, and follow instructions. In fact, please consider doing this year round, any time you shop CBD or Amazon online!!

Thank you in advance for your support as you shop online this holiday season!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

A book I'm enjoying right now.....check it out!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Announcing: Word of Hope Ministries!!!

Biblical Counseling for women and their families
Ellen Castillo, Certified Biblical Counselor

Beginning November 1, I am opening a new counseling ministry, Word of Hope Ministries. Word of Hope Ministries will provide Biblical Counseling to The Harbor (my home church) and to the community. For those of you who are local, please know that the ministry is here to serve you. For those of you who are not local, I am sharing this with you to enlist your prayer support.

Word of Hope Ministries will continue to operate out of my current office at the Harbor, and I will be available as I always have been to my church family as well as those who come from the community seeking Biblical Counseling. The most noticeable difference is that the Harbor will no longer oversee the ministry as it becomes its own separate entity, owned and operated by myself and my husband.

I am very thankful to my church leadership for supporting this move and encouraging me as I move forward with a calling to vocational ministry. I have so appreciated the guidance and accountability I have with my pastor, and he has graciously agreed to continue to provide that guidance and accountability for me even as I operate the ministry aside from The Harbor. This is invaluable to me – I firmly believe in the spiritual oversight of my local church. I am very grateful to begin this new venture with his blessing.

For more details about the ministry, please visit the website (it is a work in progress still, but some of the basics are in place!).

Please feel free to refer people to the ministry or website. The site will be useful to people who don’t live in Santa Maria, too. You are welcome to pass along my contact information to anyone who would benefit from it.

Please check out the website at:
Items will be added continually, so please bookmark it!

Mark 12:30 "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Monday, September 14, 2009

the cost of ministry....

***The mission of the Harbor Women’s Ministry is to provide varying opportunities for women to grow in love, knowledge, and application of God’s Word so that they reflect Christ as they serve Him in their families, church, workplace, and community.
Colossians 1:9-10 “…we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…”***

In the world of Women’s Ministry, Fall is a time of new beginnings. The ministry I oversee functions from Fall to Fall. So we are about to embark on some new things and I think it’s an exciting time!

We’re doing Beth Moore’s “Jesus the One and Only” study this Fall. Can’t wait! For Winter, I’m thinking we may do the revamped “Breaking Free”, a favorite of mine!

We’re having a Fall Kick-off event, with worship, teaching on Titus 2 by me, and fellowship while baking applie pies together. I am so blessed to have a great team that work so hard to make these events fun and meaningful! Can’t wait!

We’re heading towards a different type of Retreat for Spring. We are going to a professionally done one at a huge Christian camp in the mountains. We usually do ‘home grown’ retreats, so this will be a big treat and a chance for the usual ‘worker bees’ to rest and just participate like everyone else. Can’t wait!

And the other ministries are in full swing – our prayer ministries, meals ministry, and lots of other events to be announced. A great year ahead!

I am blessed to have such great ladies to partner with – we’re a team and I am so thankful for each of them.

If you are in Women’s Ministry, how about you?? What are you up to this year??

Now and then, someone will ask me what the biggest struggle is in Women’s Ministry. Honestly, it’s mostly blessings, but there are challenges in working with women. I can’t pick one, so I’ll pick two. ;)
1. Critical Spirits. Women are prone to complaining, and so often it is aimed at leadership. It sounds cliché, but it is so true, that “I can’t please everyone”. My own personal struggle is to guard against taking these darts aimed at me personally. God alone is the One Whose approval I seek, and I want to go where He leads me. And yet, I also want to remain teachable, always. There’s a fine line sometimes between helpful ‘feedback’ that comes from a proper motive, and criticism that comes from improper motives.
2. To keep my own walk with The Lord the main thing. If I ever catch myself out of balance, I need to refocus and refuel. Actually, I need to STAY fueled so that I don’t get to that point, but it can creep up on you before you notice sometimes. I don’t want to be so busy serving Jesus to women that I neglect Him in my own life.
What about you in your ministry, whatever your calling is? What is your biggest struggle (or two)??

Whatever the struggles, know this: You have to continually count the cost, and to be willing to sacrifice. Even if it means experiencing some lonliness, being misunderstood or judged harshly, losing some sleep and your free time, and sometimes even having to stand alone. When the cost feels like too much, remember this:

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death works in us, but life in you.” (2 Cor. 4:7-12)


May you be blessed in your ministry this coming year!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Why do people feel invisible?????

I posted a video on this blog a long time ago from Nicole Johnson entitled “Feeling Invisible” (check the archives back near the start of this blog). Since that time, I have left the post there so that people will land on it when they come here, or when they do a google search with the words ‘feeling invisible’.
I have been watching my feedjit (bottom of blog) quite often to see what brings people here and where they come from (your names don’t show – just your location). If someone came from google, I click on ‘google search’ in their feedjit, and it will take me to the google search page that shows me the words they actually googled that brought up my blog.
BY FAR, the most common google search that brings people to this blog are the exact words “FEELING INVISIBLE”. I find that so interesting. Why do so many people ‘feel invisible’?? Are these men, women, or both? What are they looking for…..maybe HOPE?? What is happening in their lives to make them feel so invisible that they are looking for answers on the internet?? I am intrigued by this.
I do hope that once they come to the blog, that they are watching Nicole’s video. It is profound. I hope that if they are believers, they realize that the unseen things they do in life do matter to God. If they are not believers, I hope they see that there is hope and that God created them for a purpose. I hope they snoop around elsewhere on the blog and find other things to encourage them, too. (makes me realize it is time to start updating this thing more often, with content that will help people!!!! I’ll work on that!).

If you are one of those who came here because you are feeling invisible, I would love for you to email me (go to my profile to do so) or leave a comment here. Tell me about it. What do you mean by ‘feeling invisible’? What makes you feel invisible, and what were you hoping to find by doing a google search about that topic?? And most importantly, have you found the answers you were looking for either here or elsewhere?? I am just curious to know. And also, every time I see that in feedjit, I lift a prayer for that person. If you are one of them, I have been praying for you. I don’t know your name, but God does. Know this: He loves you and to Him you are NOT invisible.

John 3:16 says it all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Praising God for Who He is, not what He does

This is an important message, especically if you are wondering where God is in regards to answering your prayers....

It Happened to Me-6 from Harvest Bible Chapel on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Future Women's Ministry Leader.....

Women's Ministry Leaders, move over....I think this young girl is after our jobs!! And rightfully so - she is clearly gifted and called at a very early age. This blessed my heart, and I pray it will bless yours as well. Take a look:

Monday, June 29, 2009

Living Proof Live, Stockton

I had the amazing privilege of sitting under Beth Moore's teaching on Revelation 19, and being led in worship by Travis Cottrell this past weekend. Here's the official re-cap video (and yes, my friend and I are in it, much to our surprise!!). Enjoy:

Living Proof Live - Stockton from Rich Kalonick on Vimeo.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Psalm 68:6a "God sets the lonely in families"

If Father's Day brings sadness or pain for you, remember that God delivers and comforts the fatherless....

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Post Weary post.....

With a little rest, focus, better stewardship of the body, and a huge dose of prayer and The Word, weariness is passing, Praise The Lord!!
There is a built-in danger in serving others in ministry. That danger is that you can find yourself drained empty before you even realize it. Sometimes it can’t be helped – it creeps up on you as you go about doing what God has called you to during a very busy season, because there is no way not to. Other times, we take on too much, by choice. Either way, the tank has to get re-filled!
I plan to get refueled next week at a Lifeway Women’s Ministry Training event prior to a Living Proof Live event!!! I dislike it when people say ‘don’t get your hopes up’, because I TOTALLY have my hopes up for these events!! I can’t help but notice that the timing cannot be ‘coincidence’…that this would fall just as I am coming out of a busy season and am left ‘running on empty’. And I know from experience you can’t go wrong when Travis Cottrell is leading worship (at BOTH events!!), Lifeway provides excellent top notch speakers and workshop leaders, and then of course Beth Moore to top it off. I ALWAYS ‘get a Word’ when I hear her teach, so I go with huge expectations that God is going to refresh my soul personally, and refresh my vision for ministry.
Enough about ME – what about YOU??? Are you operating on an empty tank, too?? What are you doing about it? If you don’t address it, discouragement and defeat will set in because the enemy has direct access to you.

Here’s a prescription from this weary (but healing!) counselor for overcoming weariness:

*Remember that Jesus Himself rested when He got weary. He understands how it feels:
Hebrews 4:15 – “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are.”

*God extends His grace towards you. His power is perfected in our lives when we recognize our weaknesses and rely upon his grace. Acknowledge it.
2 Corinthians 12:9 – “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

*God understands that we need help and He uses other believers to assist us. Seek help if you need it.
Galatians 6:1-2 – “Brethren, even if a man is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness. . . Bear one another’s burdens, and thus fulfill the law of Christ.”

*God is going to use us for good works in spite of our weaknesses. Continue to serve Him in spite of your circumstances.
Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.”

*Remember that God’s Word works! Read it, meditate on it, memorize it, BELIEVE IT!
2 Timothy 3:16 – “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness”.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Weary??? Me, too.

Time to get back to blogging! The Retreat is done, the wedding is over, Women’s Ministry slows down during summer months, and now I will focus on counseling and (hopefully) receiving some fresh vision for the upcoming year of ministry, and also catch up on some other projects (like the blog, which I really long to use more intentionally for ministry!).
I have learned something very valuable through this insanely busy season I am just now coming out of. If you are in ministry (and even if not, you might glean), take note from some of the pitfalls of busyness I have encountered!.....
….stay balanced. In the aftermath of all the major events I have had recently, I felt really sick, tired, beyond fatigued really. Sore throat, coughing, but not necessarily actually ‘sick’, I think. I believe I did not take my own counsel regarding drinking plenty of water, eating well, and walking. Instead, I let being busy get in the way of good common sense. Lesson learned. I neglected some areas that cannot be neglected and still expect to feel well emotionally/mentally/spiritually/physically.
….being unbalanced is sin. Read James MacDonald’s post on ‘Weariness’ to see what I mean – here I have repented. I am grateful for God’s grace! I will purpose to guard against being unbalanced and using busyness as an excuse. Sometimes life gets busy – I have to deal with it and not allow it to burn me out, so to speak.
….The enemy is never more fierce in his attacks than right after a speaking engagement. He started in during that weekend, and has not let up yet. I won’t go in to details, but he has messed with me in many ways. Have I kept my armor on through all this busyness? Not always. I know, no wonder he has kept at me. Be assured that my armor is back on now, in full force.
….it is hard to give your daughter away in marriage. It is not bad, it is not wrong….it is just HARD. I had no idea until we got there. There is a grieving to go through, and a mixed bag of emotions that I did not expect. I am so happy for her, I love her new husband and think he is definitely the man for her….and yet, I miss being responsible for her and I miss her needing me so much. Selfish, I know.
….having my husband gone all through each week during all of this has been difficult. But I purpose not to complain about God’s provision, when so many are struggling much more than we are. It has given me empathy for women whose husband always travel, or are deployed, or for those who have no husband at all. Gaining empathy is always a good thing for a counselor (and anyone!), so I take the lessons from this time. But, I will be glad when the travelling ends and he is working near home again. It is good to miss your husband after nearly 31 years of marriage, though, because it means the marriage is still very much alive!
….taking a break after the busy events ended was a good thing. I sat, reflected, prayed, read, listened, and sat some more. I can now hear that still, small voice again! And, I am no longer as weary (still a ways to go, admittedly!).
….Scripture memory has declined. I have missed it. When I am busy and allow it to distract me, I can’t even recall the verses I have committed to memory, and that scares me sometimes! So, I purpose to get back at it asap. You, too??
Here’s a good one to start with:
Matthew 11:28:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

That's the kind of provision I am needing today, and my Jehovah Jireh is able!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

leadership philosophy

I have thought about, over the past few years, what my preferred 'philosophy' of leadership is. It's been hard to put a finger on it and I've never heard it put as well as this video by James MacDonald puts it. THIS is the leadership philosophy that defines it for me so well:
It's called "High Deposit, High Withdrawal". Leaders, take a look:

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sunday, May 3, 2009

He Calls Me Friend Retreat

Below (scroll down) you will notice an audio player that you can use to listen to the audio from a Retreat I spoke at recently. There are four sessions, so scroll until you find the first one and listen in order......
1.Biblical Friendship
3.He Calls Me Friend
4.Forgiveness and Communion

These are 'raw' and unedited (until I learn how to edit them!!), but just fast forward through the parts that are dead spaces or just chit chat!

I was privileged to speak as a team with my very good friend, Nancy. We SO enjoyed ministering to the women together along with our fun and amazing worship team, Carolyn and Debbie. We wanted to make the audio available for anyone interested to listen to - so please feel free to listen and let God speak to YOU about FRIENDSHIP!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Jehovah Jireh scripture memory time

For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
2 Timothy 1:7 NIV

How's that for God's provision???!!!

why do we memorize scripture???

The following is a quote off of Beth Moore's blog.....she is talking about memorizing scripture and why it is SO important.
I often teach women about controlling our thought life, and give them tools to deal with that. Beth has worded this 'tool' so well, that I wanted to post it here so that you might be convicted about the importance of focusing our minds on God's Word!
She says:

"Somebody may be thinking, “Good grief! I didn’t want to have to think about it that much!” But, you see, that’s the BEAUTY of it! We could be thinking how ticked we are at somebody. We could be thinking how tempted we are toward somebody. We could be thinking how dissatisfied we are with something. We could be thinking AGAIN about what so-and-so had the gall to say to us. I am never more prone to mental defeat than when I just allow my mind to wander anywhere and to anything. I’m by no means suggesting that we never allow our minds to rest. Of course we do. I’m saying that when, in that state of rest and idleness, our thoughts begin to go left toward something destructive, we need a pretty fail-safe way to switch gears. I know no better way than to immediately start letting some verses scroll through my head. That’s what it means to take thoughts captive to the knowledge of Christ and that’s how we tear down everything that exalts itself against Him.

I’m also prone to mental defeat when the enemy has pitched me a great opportunity to obsess about something or to give way to fear and stress. Each of these represents perfect moments to turn to my Scripture memory. There are tons of things we COULD think about today but we have the power in Jesus’ Name to choose the things that edify our spirits and renew our minds. Remember, every defeat and every victory takes place on the battlefield of the mind before it erupts in the exterior life. Listen, Darling Things, we don’t have to let every mental struggle turn into a stronghold. We can successfully cut things off at the pass. And this is one huge way we do it."

So, let's memorize some Scripture!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, March 30, 2009

attitude adjustment thanks to THE King

I had a very bad attitude all day today. Got overwhelmed, wanted to quit, got selfish, forgetting all about my KING Who deserves continual praise. Then I saw this:

Attitude: adjusted!!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Women's Conference via internet!

This is a very unique way of doing a Christian Women's Conference. There are several speakers and topics that interest me....and although I won't have the time to sit and listen online in realtime, I plan on downloading the mp3's and listening when I am ready (after this busy season!).

Here's a link to the website for you (copy/paste it):

Saturday, March 28, 2009



Isaiah 40:29 "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."

For that, I'm SO grateful.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Jehovah Jireh continues...

Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love,
that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days
Psalm 90:14 NIV

This is the kind of provision I need today - unfailing love. It definitely does bring me joy and gladness!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Jehovah Jireh ongoing

I have to confess I haven't fully memorized last week's yet....but just reading it over and over and over is a good start and a great way to replace LIES with TRUTH, by 'wallpapering our minds' with Scripture. I continue on the theme of 'provision', with this verse......

1 Tim. 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Hoping to blog more regularly soon!!! (waiting for God to provide me with about 10 more hours in a day to get to Ok, maybe my next theme after His provision should be 'self-discipline' and time management!!)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Will Not Be Shaken

I Will Not Be Shaken

A few weeks ago, during my routine female-exam, some abnormalities were detected that could indicate uterine cancer, or at the very least that I might need surgery. I had tests done, and have had to wait the last two weeks for results. Those results came in just Friday, and I learned that I do not have cancer (but do have a situation that is pre-cancerous that will potentially require intervention at some time in the future) and that I do not need surgery right now. During the wait, God showed me several things about myself, and about Him. Not the least of which is that I needed to continually say “I will NOT be shaken” out loud, so that I would not give in to fear and worry.

I am in the newest Beth Moore Bible study about Esther. The subtitle is ‘It’s Tough Being a Woman”. Interesting that she shares that many women, when asked what is toughest about being a woman mentioned HORMONES. That very next week, I faced a test that clearly proved that hormones were making my life tough at that very time!

When you are facing a potential ‘crisis’, it brings you to your knees. At least it did that for me. It’s not that I am not on my knees otherwise, but when you feel desperate and scared, it is the best posture to assume and you tend to go there quickly!

I questioned God at first. What in the world is up with the timing of this? Who will drive my girls to school and other activities? Who will take care of my household responsibilities? I have a wedding to plan! I am speaking this Spring at Retreat! I have a very full load of counseling each week – I can’t just tell ladies to put their depression or marriage problems on hold while I go through cancer! And the regular, normal tasks involved in my ministry that have to be tended to – how do those kinds of things get delegated?! This timing is all wrong!

Then last week, our lesson focused on timing, and how Esther was put in the position she was in ‘for such a time as this’. I started to realize that I need not question the timing – that if God saw fit to allow this right now, then it IS the right timing and He will tend to all the details. I just needed to be willing to accept it, regardless of what seemed to me like bad timing! More than that, it could be the very thing that He would use in my family life and ministry in ways that I cannot even see. I needed to just trust Him with the timing. By the time I got the test results, I had resolved to bless God no matter what. I was ready to delegate what I could, and let things go if I needed to.

Beth taught us that Esther was a woman who could have easily had some major issues that she might feel would disqualify her to be of service to God. She was an orphan, chosen for her outward beauty, and did not get called by the king for 30 days, not to mention all the other challenges in her lifestyle. And yet, God chose HER to save her people. She was not rendered useless because of her past or her circumstances. He has shown me that through two weeks of waiting to hear if I had cancer, even though I was feeling very useless to others because I was just trying to keep a grip, and process my circumstances, that He would work through me anyway – reminding me that I am only the vessel. There have been some awesome moments in my family and ministry in the past couple of weeks that can only be attributed to God and His grace! He has taught me many times how to minister while wounded.

Something about looking your mortality in the face causes you to weigh your priorities.
Somehow, I have a renewed passion for my family and my ministry. Maybe it was the thought of having to give them up, in a sense, that made me appreciate them all the more. I started to wonder if God was just done using me here – but apparently not, at least not right now. I needed to be able to praise Him either way! And when I go back for another biopsy in June to see if the cells become cancerous, I need to be able to praise Him then, too.

The Esther study is teaching us that we have a ‘destiny’….I came to terms last week with the idea that my destiny could be cancer, or it might be in the future. Instead of ‘why me’….I had to say ‘why not me’. I was and am willing, because it is NOT about ME alone – God will use it as He sees fit. I surrender to His will! Otherwise, I could miss my destiny.

I am always aware that things that I have gone through and will go through are not just for me, ever. Mine is a ministry born out of adversity, and if God allowed or allows cancer, surgery, or whatever in my life, then to Him be the glory! Beth has taught us that we are not called to an easy life, we are called to a purposeful life. A diagnosis is part of a greater plan.

God has revealed Himself in some fresh ways to me through this. I am so grateful for that. I’ve adopted a new ‘life passage’ for such a time as this:

Romans 11:33-36, NIV:
33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
35"Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
36For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Hiding God's Word because of Jehovah Jireh

Romans 11:33-36, NIV:
33Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable his judgments,
and his paths beyond tracing out!
34"Who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has been his counselor?"
35"Who has ever given to God,
that God should repay him?"
36For from him and through him and to him are all things.
To him be the glory forever! Amen.

This is my new Scripture Memory verse for the memory challenge I am participating in (Living Proof's blog, if you want to join us!). This one fits the theme of "Jehovah Jireh" for me, especially vs. 36! I am facing some uncertainties right now, and I need to KNOW that He is on the throne. I need to know that He gives, and He takes away, as He sees fit. Blessed be His name!

I need this Word. How about you??

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Jehovah Jireh

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a scripture that I committed to memorizing (or at least meditating on often). It was:
Genesis 22:14 NIV: So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide (Jehovahjireh). And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

My 'theme' this year is God's Provision, and I am wanting to hide several scriptures in my heart that fit this theme. The one I picked next is Isaiah 33:6, because of its emphasis on God's provision as our SOURCE of peace and security. That fits for any kind of need - physical, financial, spiritual, emotional, everything.

Isaiah 33:6, NIV: He will be the sure foundation for your times,a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure.

Here's a little commentary on this verse from The Bible Knowledge Commentary:
33:5-6. Speaking now to the remnant, Isaiah said that the exalted Lord (cf. 6:1) will eventually fill Zion with justice and righteousness (cf. 9:7; 11:4; 16:5; 32:16) when the kingdom is established. But in order to have these things, including salvation . . . wisdom, and knowledge they must fear . . . the Lord (cf. Prov. 1:7; 15:33). Fearing God does not mean being terrified of Him (except for those who are being or will be judged). It means to recognize and respect Him and His authority and righteous demands, which in turn results in godly living, worshiping, trusting, serving, and obeying Him. Those who fear Him find Him to be their sure Foundation, their Source of inner security and peace (cf. ”Rock, “ Isa. 26:4).

Lord, help us to be women who fear you and praise you for being our SOURCE!! Amen.

Monday, January 12, 2009

waking up

Today brought a little wake up call for me. Well, not so little, really. I want to use it to remind any woman who reads this blog to go get regular checkups. If you are past due for your regular female-checkup, or if it has been awhile since you have had any thorough checkup, DO IT.
One of the pitfalls of my personality is that I far prefer to talk about YOUR problems than to deal with my own! I will answer your call for help at any time without giving it a second thought, and I will be there for you in a heartbeat, sincerely desiring to serve you. My ministry calls for that, and I am wired for it. I can't NOT do it.
However, it is evident to me today that I sometimes neglect ME. That sounds self-centered, but it isn't, so hear me out.
I have had weight issues my entire adult life. It is a stronghold, and I have worked on this issue for years. I have periods of victory, and periods of defeat. Lately, I have just ignored it and I know better. I knew some things with my health would definitely be impacted over time, and the time has come. I decided it was time to come out of denial (!) and take my own advice and get a checkup. I am in the midst of lots of tests and dr. visits right now. Today brought some mixed news, and it has served as a wake up call. I will spare the details on a public blog, but suffice it to say that I know the Lord will use whatever it takes to get our attention at times. He's got mine (some scary words said by the dr. today!), and He will get yours, too, if you don't take care of yourself.
It is a stronghold, an issue of stewardship of the body (God's temple!!), and turning to food for comfort instead of to God, the Source of ALL comfort. I know this, and yet I struggle. I counsel other women on this issue, and yet I struggle.
God has spoken clearly today (not literally, you know what I mean) through some bad test results that say that I cannot deny or ignore this any longer, unless I want to die young.
I remember Beth Moore saying once at a conference that God ordains all of our days....that He can't add another day, but that WE can shorten those days. Ouch. How ridiculous to think that I would knowingly shorten my days.
So the journey towards true FREEDOM in this area of my life has to kick in to high gear. I know that it is for freedom that Christ died. I say I believe it, but I have not lived as if I believe it. Forgive me, Lord for my unbelief. Help me, Lord with my unbelief!
Go get your checkup. And if there is a wakeup call there for you, pay attention and we will walk the path of freedom together!
Galatians 5:1!!!!!!!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Day in the Life....

So what's up in Women's Ministry and Counseling Ministry you may ask??? Well, maybe you aren't asking, but I am feeling the need to kick up my blogging a notch or two, and post more often from my own heart and not just other people's stuff. I've said that before, I know. ;) But I do want to blog more, so here goes!

I have been asked to describe what I do on a typical day, so here goes.....

A Day in the Life of Ministry to Women and Family:

6:00 a.m....down the stairs to have a quiet time and dedicate my day to The Lord. If I fail to do that, I am destined for a selfish day!
then it's the whirlwind of getting my girls up and ready for school. Off we go at 8:20. my office at the church. Most days the first task is to turn on the heater!! Brr, it is a cold building! Then I settle in to my desk for the tasks ahead of me. First task: go through my list of women at my church and Bible study, and pray for them as God leads. If I fail to do that, I am again destined to a selfish day!
Second task: complete my own Bible Study homework!

The rest of my office time consists of: counseling or mentoring sessions (anywhere from 2-4 daily); study time to prepare for upcoming counseling sessions; computer time to write notes from counseling sessions; various Women's Ministry tasks that need to be done - depending what is on the calendar currently (ie, retreat, fellowship events, showers, etc); fielding many emails and phone calls daily from women with various needs, questions, asking for help, wanting input, etc! And then there are meetings to go to; resources to research and preview; visits with women who stop by the office; plans to work on for upcoming events and studies; Bible study sessions to prepare for; coffee and lunch dates with women I try to squeeze in frequently; oversight of the various women's ministries to stay on top of things we are currently doing; meetings with the team leaders; speaking and writing to study and prepare for; visits to those in need - ill, housebound, etc; networking with local counselors or women's leaders; research current counseling and ministry trends; raise up other leaders for various ministries by assessing women's gifts; follow-up with prior counselees; and MORE that I can't think of at the moment. OH, and office tasks like ordering resources, computer maintenance, making copies, and basically being my own secretary!! Tired just from reading all that?? Me, too. But it is in my weakness that He is strong, thankfully! To say that I keep busy is an understatement, and perhaps you can see why I say that I am in FULL TIME ministry. I never have enough hours in a day to get it all done, but my priority is ALWAYS people, so those needs come first. The rest gets done as I am able, and the Lord always plans my schedule in such a way that I honestly do not feel overwhelmed. Busy, but not overwhelmed. His burden is light, and I am so thankful for that.

at 2:30, off I go to pick up my girls and spend the rest of my day as wife and mom and all that entails. Some evenings, if we have 'down' time, out comes some ministry work - I just can't help it!! - usually on my computer or some reading or studying....typically after the girls are in bed or while they are doing homework. The rest of the time I purpose to give the family undivided attention! They are, after all, my first and priority ministry!

I have also been asked what are the positives, and negatives of being in this ministry. Here goes:
**some lonliness at times. I am often now seen as a 'position', not just a woman in a church family. I have been left out of invitations, some friendships have changed, and sometimes I am criticized and complained about. Not often, but when it happens - ouch.
**time is sacrificed. There is no doing this thing part-time. I've tried, but you can't dictate when a crisis comes, or when a woman can meet due to work schedules, or when the phone rings! I may be at the office regular hours, but ministry is a full-time lifestyle, 24/7.
**insecurities. I struggle with this from time to time, and it is where the enemy shoots his darts whenever I am fully engaged in fruitful ministry. It comes in many forms, never pretty.
**ENDLESS positives! I can't even put them all here! They FAR outweigh the negatives, so much so that I rarely dwell on those negatives, praise God.
**to be a witness to the working of the Holy Spirit in the life of one of my sisters in Christ is hard to describe. To be in a counseling session and KNOW it is the Holy Spirit truly being the counselor, and to feel that I am just sitting back as a witness to it - WOW! I have been privileged to see many transformed lives, and it doesn't get any better than that.
**to have a venue for reaching women who also don't need counseling, but need ministering to through Women's Ministries activities is also a huge privilege to be a part of.
** to KNOW that I am called to this is a comfort. I could not do it otherwise - it's too hard! To know that I am not on my own, WHEW!! It is Christ IN me, not me. It is a fearsome thing to have this responsibility with the wellbeing of women, and if it weren't for the Lord, I'd never do it because I'd botch it up badly! Thank you, Lord, for making me your vessel and nothing more.

It's not your average life. I don't earn a paycheck, but instead I am paid in blessings.... and I don't get to share the specifics of the work of God in lives I am a part of (because it is confidential). Much of it is behind-the-scenes, and I wouldn't want it otherwise. All I want is to do the will of the Father, period. And for now, that means I draw strength from Him daily to minsiter to women and family!!!!

The best part of all of it is this: not a day goes by that I don't absolutely NEED to draw on wisdom and strength from God's Word, and to point others to do the same. It has given me a love for His Word that is I will let it speak for itself: "For the word of God is living and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." Hebrews 4:12. Amen.

I am editing this post lest I mislead you in to thinking it is ok to be too busy! God has not called me, or you, to that. I really am not 'too busy', just busy doing His work!, although reading the above could lead you to think I am out of balance! I pace myself, and always put my family first. I ask them to partner with me in ministry by allowing me out for an evening Bible Study or rare evening counseling appointment, and they bless me by supporting that from time to time. Typical days, after school hours, I am a homemaker first and formost and we have many laid-back hours together (I am not a high energy person and am content to snuggle on a couch many hours while we read, talk, watch movies, etc!).
God only gives us what we can carry - if we are overwhelmed, then likely something on our plate is NOT from Him. I have learned to discern what to say 'yes' to, and what to say 'no' to for the most part. I urge you to check your plate and see if it is full of things given to you by Him, or by you. Remind ME of that now and then, too, ok??!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's Theme

This year I am opting for a "New Year's Theme" instead of "New Year's Resolution". God has been speaking to me lately regarding His PROVISION. That is probably partly because of the needs I have in my family for provision - needs that seem impossible due to lack of resources. But I also think it has to do with the fact that I need to learn more about His provision in other parts of life, aside from just finances.
What about God's provision for us emotionally? His provision for us mentally? His provision for us physically? His provision for us spirtually? He provides everything we need, in every part of our lives.
I am participating in a scripture-memorization challenge/accountability this year on another blog. I decided to focus on verses that relate to God's provision. We are to memorize two verses per month. At the end of the year, I will have memorized 24 verses about God's provision! I think that will be life-changing, don't you?? I need to trust Him more and believe Him more - so, here's my first memory verse to kick start this year of focusing on Jehovahjireh (God will provide!).....

Genesis 22:14 NIV: So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide (Jehovahjireh). And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

Not only do I want to memorize these verses, but I want to understand them! This explanation by Warren Wiersbe, in his book "Be Obedient" explains this passage:

God did provide the sacrifice that was needed, and a ram took Isaac’s place on the altar (Gen. 22:13). Abraham discovered a new name for God—“Jehovah-jireh”—which can be translated “The Lord will see to it” or “The Lord will be seen.” The statement “In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen” helps us understand some truths about the provision of the Lord.
Where does the Lord provide our needs? In the place of His assignment. Abraham was at the right place, so God could meet his needs. We have no right to expect the provision of God if we are not in the will of God.
When does God meet our needs? Just when we have the need and not a minute before. When you bring your requests to the throne of grace, God answers with mercy and grace “in time of need” (Heb. 4:16). Sometimes it looks like God waits until the last minute to send help, but that is only from our human point of view. God is never late.
How does God provide for us? In ways that are usually quite natural. God did not send an angel with a sacrifice; He simply allowed a ram to get caught in a bush at a time when Abraham needed it and in a place where Abraham could get his hands on it. All Abraham needed was one animal, so God did not send a whole flock of sheep.
To whom does God give His provision? To those who trust Him and obey His instructions. When we are doing the will of God, we have the right to expect the provision of God. A deacon in the first church I pastored used to remind us, “When God’s work is done in God’s way, it will not lack God’s support.” God is not obligated to bless my ideas or projects, but He is obligated to support His work if it is done in His way.
Why does God provide our every need? For the great glory of His name! “Hallowed be Thy name” is the first petition in the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:9–13), and it governs all the other requests. God was glorified on Mount Moriah because Abraham and Isaac did the will of the Lord and glorified Jesus Christ. We must pause to consider this important truth.


I challenge you to also memorize scripture this year. It is vital to your walk with God!!