Saturday, December 31, 2011

Yes! Highland, again!

Way back in 1999, God lead me to a church named Highland United Methodist Church and as the people and the ministry grew on Frank and I, I remember praying, "God never ask me to leave Highland".  Frankly, I kinda banked on it as a done deal and was quite shocked when He DID ask me to leave after eight wonderful years of ministry there.

Highland UMC had become our spiritual home and family.  I was determined to obey, but it wasn't easy.  During the months after leaving, to chase away the pain I'd admonish myself how arrogant I was to make such a prayer request!

Highland or not, I'm in ministry... one goes where God sends.

Not long after that, I accepted a position at Highland Baptist Church and realized my prayer WAS being honored.  I loved to tell people, I guess I had neglected to make my prayer specific.  Of course, I grew to love the people of Highland Baptist as much as those at Highland UMC.  In time, I knew I was exactly where I was supposed to be.

So when God asked me to leave Highland Baptist this past October, I was not as shocked. I figured I'd ridden the "Highland" theme long enough. The life span of my "Highland" days WERE finite and ministry life must go on.

Highland or not, I'm in ministry... one goes where God sends.


Cape Hope, South Africa
For Christmas my husband Frank gave me a couple of travel guides so I could learn a little bit about South Africa before I leave the US.  It's more my style to learn about a place while I'm there, but that's not always helpful when traveling abroad, so those books are coming in quite handy in that respect. 

But I had no idea those books would be yet another key to God's assurance that in going half way around the world, I'm going to be exactly where I know in my heart I'm supposed to be. I discovered the town of Stellenbosch is not only the second oldest city in South Africa, but it is located in the Boland... ....translation...  "Highland" area.  

Now my heart is singing praises to God, "YES! Highland, again!" 

I KNOW!  Don't you just love how God has a sense of humor, irony and symmetry? 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

God's gonna have His way!

Today is Christmas Eve, so if you are reading this today you are either procrastinating or you are done with your holiday preparations early.  If the first, log out - time is of the essence & you've got stuff to Do, friend.  If the second, log-out and enjoy some face time with someone you love. As for me, this will be a quick post, so I can finish my preparations for a house full tomorrow afternoon.


So tomorrow is officially Christmas, but it's been Christmas every day this week as I opened the mail box or email inbox.  I just HAD to stop and say..... 

I realize now that no matter WHAT, God's gonna have His way. At least that's the case when you hand yourself over to Him and let go.  That's what I've been attempting to do for quite a while and I must say, He's getting His way with my life.  The support from friends and family has been pouring in.  The promise of prayers and financial support are precious to me and evidence this South Africa thing is gonna happen... just as He planned.

I think I'm beginning to have a glimpse of what Mary might have felt on this very night long, long ago.

 "This is gonna happen!" she must have thought as she labored. "God's gonna have His way in my life through this child and I will be blessed. "

But months before that night Mary responded to God's plan for her life and her own words echo in my heart.

"My soul magnifies the Lord."

Merry Christmas! Go and be blessed.



Friday, December 16, 2011

One Step at a Time....


From my recent letter to friends and family announcing my trip to South Africa...  

A little more than a month ago, I stepped DOWN from my position in the local church as an act of obedience to God’s call in my life. God made it clear to me. I was to step down and wait for his direction in my life.  

It wasn’t easy for me to leave a congregation I was privileged to serve for almost five years, but I knew in my heart God had other plans for me. “But why so abruptly?”, I asked God and he was swift to answer.
 
He wanted me to step DOWN so I could step OUT.  He had tasks and projects for me I couldn’t possibly work on while serving in a local church.  So I stepped aside and started the waiting part.
 
God knows us inside and out and he knew waiting is HARD for me… real hard, so it’s no surprise my marching orders for my first step would come so quickly.  The big surprise is that my first step would be to travel to South Africa to write and edit materials for Ubabalo and OneHope to transform the lives of MILLIONS of children with the Gospel 
message.

In 2009 the church I was serving and thousands of churches across the US and Canada, partnered with the International Bible Society through Group Publishing and Operation Kid to Kid to purchase, pray over, sign and ship out Gospel Outreach soccer balls along with Ubabalo Scripture Booklets to South Africa.
 
Later in 2009, my dear friend and fellow Ambassador for Group Publishing from Los Angeles, Gloria Lee, traveled 10,000 miles to South Africa with a team to distribute those soccer balls. While there, Gloria met John and WanYi Yip and witnessed first hand what Ubabalo ministry (that means “God’s Grace” in Xhosa language) was doing to spread the Gospel message through global sports ministry.  Gloria was so blown away by the impact Ubabalo was making in the lives of the children of South Africa; so much so she returned to the states sharing what she’d experienced and praying about how she could possibly become even MORE involved with Ubabalo’s growing world wide sports outreach ministry.

That’s where I come into the picture.  I was one of the people Gloria shared her amazing experience with while together at a national conference in early October. Admittedly, I didn’t totally understand exactly HOW Ubabalo and OneHope could impact so many lives with an all volunteer leadership team, but I DID know first hand how effective the Gospel Outreach balls and Ubabalo Scripture Booklets were because I used them to teach the Gospel on mission trips in the US as well as given the soccer balls to others on mission trips to Turkey and India.
 
I recall Gloria and I laughing and dreaming about how amazing it would be to serve in the international mission field again, part time or full-time. I shared with her the memories of my two international mission trips in 2004 and 2005 to Guyana, South America and how I still felt a strong call to train others outside the US how to reach children for Christ. 


Four weeks ago, Gloria Lee contacted me and invited me to do just that!  John Yip of Ubabalo needed two writers to join with OneHope on a writing team for two weeks in Stellenbosch, South Africa… and then Gloria said pray fast because we’d need to fly out January 20th!

Next post - details on the Ubabalo- OneHope writing project.....  

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Preparing - Everything is possible with God!

For weeks, I've been preparing for the upcoming trip to South Africa to write  with Ubabalo and OneHope Partnership Team.  Part of the process was to wrap my head around the project.  I think I'm going to be working on that one through out the entire process, but I've got a much better grasp of what God's asking me to accomplish in South Africa.

Another part is to prepare my heart.  Again, that will be an ongoing process where I will need MAJOR prayer support to keep me strong.

The big part, and for me, the scariest part, is raising the funds needed provide for the journey. I've been on International Mission Teams but was always blessed to pay for my expenses.  This time I needed to involve others by asking them to become a financial partner in my journey.  Prayer, Bible study and the counsel of Gloria, my partner in this project and journey, helped me admit my pride and selfishness and get past that emotional hurdle.

This past week, I got down to business and finally prepared my prayer and financial partners request letter.  It took me an entire day to create, write and edit it, but by day's end, it was exactly what I wanted and need to say, so I am thankful. I'm almost ready to print, prep and mail.

Thanks to John Yip in South Africa, Gloria and  I are working through the last hurdle...helping financial partners be able to make their financial partnership donations tax deductible. As soon as I get those final directions and details, I can send out those letters. God willing, they should be in email and mailboxes by late next week.  I've dedicated Monday to the finalization of that project.

Early in the coming week, I anticipate I will be purchasing airfare for the trip. Please pray that the prices will stay in the range of reasonable.  Also, pray specifically my partner Gloria and I can arrange our itinerary so our first leg puts us in the same city and together on the flights to Cape Town. Right now, we're hoping to meet in Chicago, NY or DC without a long layover. It looks like for the rest of the journey, we will touch us down in Paris and Amsterdam, then on to Cape Town.

Whew! I'm still finding it difficult, some days impossible, to imagine all of this is going to come together. I continue to prepare my heart, giving this all to God.

I understand I can only prepare so much on my own for much of this is impossible for me.  I am continually reminded... "Everything is possible with God! Mark 10:27" Partly, because that's this summer's Big Sky VBS's theme & key verse. Partly because it's the ONLY verse that happens to be in my refrigerator staring at me every day. Or maybe it's ALL because of this trip, God's placing these specific powerful words in my face, my head and my heart! I don't know, but those words are propelling me forward!

Jesus assured us of God's promise when he proclaimed.  "Everything is possible with God!" Mark 10:27.  I don't know what impossible things YOU are going through today or in the weeks and months to come, but I invite YOU to share those with me, so I in turn can pray for you!

Email me lsburney@mac.com or post your prayer request as a comment below.  I'm going to be on my knees a lot in the coming days, so I'd be MORE than honored to pray for you!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

And what will I sacrifice?

Sunday afternoon, while driving back from leading a training workshop in Eastern, NC, I had some quality time to think and pray about funding the trip to South Africa.  Honestly, I was kinda squirming in my seat. Again, I was feeling very uncomfortable asking friends and family to invest in my journey, so I began praying to Jesus asking him, "What do you want me to do?"

Jesus began NOT with "write the letter".  He clearly asked me to look deeper.

"Lisa, don't DARE ask others for help unless you are willing to sacrifice yourself."

So for the rest of the journey home,  I tried to answer the question... "What will I sacrifice?"  I thought He was talking about sacrificing material possessions... raising a little dough by selling things of value... of value to me or actual monetary value.  I have a lot of stuff, but most of my "stuff" is just that - "stuff" and it wouldn't generate much cold hard cash.  But I was beginning to realize Jesus was asking me to sacrifice some of the "stuff" for a much bigger reason than cash.

God gave me this very challenge many years ago when my son Ian and his youth group were raising funds for a mission trip to Ireland.  God asked me to donate my beloved sailboat to a silent auction.  What? Are you kidding me? I loved my sailboat because it represented something I loved to do - sail! When I finally realized I was selfishly hanging onto it when selling it would help our Youth Group get to Ireland to support reconciliation camps for Protestant and Catholic teenagers, it was easy. I let it go!  I can surely do that again.

So yesterday, I looked around my house, thinking what else can I let go?

  •  I considered my baby grand piano, my violin, my banjo and my guitar.  I love to play them all, but I don't - at least, not very often.  I found out it might take too long to sell the piano, but I'm totally looking into it! (Anyone out there in the Raleigh area looking for a beautiful elegant baby grand for your living room? Call me.)
  • Gold -  I hear the price of gold is at its highest ever.  After watching Rock Center Monday night and seeing what poor people in Africa have to do to mine gold, I'm thinking it's something I shouldn't want anymore. I'm looking into selling a few pieces or more, if needed. 
  • Yard Sale -  I know it's Christmas and winter is coming and it might not be a good time for a yard sale, but I have lots of stuff that would raise some cash.  
BUT as I was writing this post, these word of Jesus rushed into my thoughts and immediately made me hang my head in shame.

 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:19-21

"WHAT will I sacrifice?"  Really Lisa? How arrogant? How petty?  Clearly, Jesus  clearly doesn't care about, nor want, my "stuff". He wants my heart, my will and my devotion.

He just wants to be sure my stuff is not in the way.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Three little letters changed my life....


I wrote this in 2004 and the words inspire me today. 

 Hearing three little letters was all it took to convince me that God was calling me to join the 2004 Highland Guyana Mission Work Team.

Many years before, my husband was the pharmacist on a medical mission team to Mexico. His eyes would sparkle as he told me about the bright faces and joyful laughter of children that accompanied their mothers to the clinic each day.  He said he wished I had been there to see them.  I just laughed and told him that I didn't have any special skills.  I was just a Children's Minister with no medical training and I couldn't speak Spanish.  "What good would I be on a international mission team?"  He would just smile and say, "You needed to be there to play with the children. Let them see Christ in you!  Isn't that enough?"

Eight years later, I found myself sitting beside my husband in a meeting to find out more about Highland's first mission trip to Guyana, South America.  As our pastor and veteran UMVIM team leader, Jim Lee, shared his stories of past teams' building projects, I figured that I could hammer, paint and haul sand with the best of them. When he spoke of the poverty and lack of resources, I realized I had plenty and ought to share. 

Then he mentioned those three little letters, V - B - S.  My husband turned to me with a knowing smile and I knew God was calling me to serve the children of Guyana.
Interactive Bible stories - a new concept for these kids

From that moment on, there was no looking back.  In a few short weeks, our team planned and packed three days of Vacation Bible School and 200 school kits along with our work gloves and construction tools and headed to Guyana.




Serving with the ladies of Guyana



Along side my husband, my team members and our Guyana friends,  I hauled, spread and tamped sand to build a concrete floor for Ebenezer Methodist Church in Sister's Village outside of Georgetown, Guyana. We worked from early morning until mid-afternoon, then changed t-shirts and lead Vacation Bible School for the rest of the afternoon - got up the next day and did it again.  With simple tools, a lot of elbow grease and a simple Gospel message, I watched lives transform.  

One of those lives was mine. I can't wait to return in 2005 to continue the transformations."

The 2005 Guyana Team
I did return in 2005, but my international mission work has been on hold for the past five years  - even though my new church gave me a week of extra vacation so I could serve on an international mission team.  Ironically, God had different plans and limited my  work to the US.  



Now God is calling me to venture out again, both geographically and spiritually, using skills I thought would only be needed here in the states.  I'm going to South Africa to prepare and write materials others can use in the mission field. 


This reminds me God will take care of my needs for support.
And this time, it wasn't three letters that made the difference. It was three words from a dear friend -"Go with me."  Wow! 

Friday, December 2, 2011

I'm asking for your support!

Had a wonderful long conversation with my friend Gloria Lee about an upcoming volunteer ministry opportunity. After Gloria filled me in on the mission details, I knew in my heart God is telling me to shed my pride and ask others to help me with financial support to be a part of this world changing project and I need to stop agonizing and simply ASK!  God willing, I fly out January 20, 2012.  Whew!  

I'm still trying to wrap my head around the idea of traveling halfway across the world to Stellenbosch, South Africa to write and edit sports and life coaching curriculum to win the world for Christ. The project is a partnership between Ubalalo and OneHope.

Here's the project-


Gloria and I will participate in a writing workshop January 25-27 in Stellenbosch, South Africa to write 4 Ubalalo Scripture Engagement products (in English), and help lay out a 5 year partnering plan between Ubalalo and OneHope. The products we will write are: 
  • A 32-page full colour Ubabalo handbook for Trainers 
  • A 32-page full colour handbook for Coaches
  • A 32-page full colour handbook for Young Players 
  • An Interactive DVD that will contain all other Ubabalo content useful for the Trainer & Coach.

Due to Ubalalo's global expansion over the past few years, the content is already written, so the writing workshop will shape and condense the content into the 32-page format making sure each product presents the Gospel message.  


I now know God's been preparing me to do this all along.  With masters in Curriculum Instruction and 15 years writing, editing and training others to teach the Gospel to children, I'm specifically equipped and ready for the task.  Matter of fact, a few years ago, our Vacation Bible School participated in the initial project by sending special color coded soccer balls with the original Gospel based coaching lessons. I've actually utilized the soccer balls and teaching materials on a mission trip to Tennessee. 

Gloria Lee, my dear friend in ministry on the West Coast, was on the mission team to distribute the soccer balls gathered by VBS's across the US and met with the leaders of Ubalalo and OneHope while in South Africa. She was taken by the global impact of this all volunteer ministry and offered to volunteer as a writer. When Gloria received a call asking her to invite a co-writer she immediately thought of me.  After much prayer, I see this is exactly what God had planned for me all along. 


Follow this link to Learn more about OneHope


 Follow this link to  Learn more about Ubalalo

I'm asking for your support!  Pray for me as I begin the process of asking for financial support and prayer support.  Time is of the essence, so I must work quickly.  I know I need God's guidance but most of all I need to place this all in His hands.  Pray for wisdom, courage and a humble spirit as I proceed.


And if you feel called to support me, financially, spiritually or with words of advise and encouragement, please email me...  lsburney@mac.com 







Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Asking for help...


I'm pretty good at asking for help, but I'm just not good at asking people to help ME.  

There I said it!  

It’s hard to admit, because I’m pretty good at getting people to volunteer to help in all the ministries I’ve lead.  It’s when I personally need, support or assistance for my ministry work that I flounder.  It feels a lot like trying to write with my left hand.  I feel awkward and unsure because it simply doesn’t feel normal.
I’m so used to being the one helping, supporting and assisting others. Letting others help, support or assist me? Well, I don’t hardly know how to start, but I think that’s exactly what God’s asking me to do.  He’s telling me to do something I cannot do without the financial support of others.  The only way I will be able to do what God’s asking is for me to ask people to help me.
I’m wondering if I’m without skills, without will or without worth?
If I can rally the troops to run a large Sunday school ministry, then it stands to reason that I DO possess the skills necessary to rally support for something God wants accomplished.
Gets me thinking I may have an underlying issue with humbling myself or with my own worthiness. 
I know we all struggle with pride, me probably more than others, so being humble is definitely in the running.  No surprises there.
But last night it dawned on me - deep down I don’t believe I am worth the investment.  Matter of fact, evidence to the contrary surprises me. Nope… I think it shocks me!
Let me explain. 
Last night, I briefly mentioned to a friend what I thought God was calling me to do and in the next breath explaining why I couldn’t because of the financial support required.  Without batting an eye, and having heard only a vague description of the call, my friend immediately said, “Oh, I’ll help you!” 
Surprising? Shocking?  Oh yeah!  Thank heavens, I had the good manners to say thank you, but in my head I was thinking, “Why in the world would she want to do this? She’d willingly help ME? Really?”  I simply didn’t consider myself worthy of her generosity.
I’m still grappling with my reaction and I’m seeking counsel on this.  I’m definitely turning to God’s Word for answers…
I realize that the Great Commission IS about going, but it’s also about sending.  Just as I used to remind myself “Don’t rob others of the opportunity to serve.” when recruiting others to take on tasks I could do myself, but really needed to let others do, I realize by NOT asking for help so I can do what I’m specifically trained and called to do, I could be robbing others of the opportunity to serve by sending me.  So, sorry for the run on sentence… as you can tell I’m struggling…
Pray I’ll see God’s directions clearly… 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Recipe # 6 Eggplant & Rice Caryn's way

This was a recipe shared with me long years ago by my older sister, Caryn.  I don't think I'd ever had eggplant until she served me this comforting stovetop casserole and I loved it so much I asked for her recipe. I call Recipe # 6 - Eggplant & Rice Caryn's Way....
http://lisasburney.blogspot.com/p/burney-family-recipes.html


Monday, November 28, 2011

Grilled asparagus and other veggies to rock your world!

Asparagus is one of those vegetables canning ruined.  Personally, I enjoy canned asparagus straight out of the can, but I'll eat anything green, so don't go by me.  Most people turn up their noses at asparagus and other veggies because they've only been exposed to poorly prepared canned or frozen ones.

Get out your grill baskets, cuz I'm going to ROCK your world making you a veggie lover, maybe even make your CRAVE veggies on a daily basis!  I present to you Grilled Asparagus and other grilled veggies like yellow squash zucchini, sweet peppers and onions, oh my! ....

Click on the Burney Family Recipe Page or this link Grilled Asparagus and other veggies to rock your world!



Sunday, November 27, 2011

"Scwutternut Bosh" or Roasted Butternut squash

I'm encouraged by all the people who've Facebook messaged or emailed to say they tried Recipe #1 Crock Pot Mac 'N Cheese and loved it. Who WOULDN'T love a cheesy, fat laiden savory custard?  I've been feeling a tad guilty I'm leading readers down the path to weight gain, so today I present a low fat, nutrient rich vegetable dish we call "Scwutternut Bosh" .

Brandi Ledesma-Burney came up with the funky name for our version of roasted butternut squash. We first enjoyed it at Lupa, a Mario Batali restaurant, in New York we go to every time we visit Brandi and Chris. It was soooo good I came home and researched and tested until I came up with a reasonable copy. Brandi requests "Scwutternut Bosh" every time she comes home. I've served it to friends who swear they detest winter squash and end up requesting the recipe.  Click on the Burney Family Recipe Page for Recipe #4.....

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Beans 'N Greens

Recipe #3 is a hold over from my vegetarians years.  This versatile protein rich bean salad/salsa/dip/main dish has become a summertime staple and a winter treat.  I've tutored the kids via mobile phone, given hands on lessons to others and actually presented this to another as his birthday gift.   Click on the Burney Family Recipe Page above for Beans 'N Greens and be sure to share your variations and tweaks with me...

Friday, November 25, 2011

Granny's Tea cakes - it wouldn't be Christmas without them.

I discovered yesterday while visiting with my family at my mom's house that my sons are not the only ones interested in the Burney Family Recipes page.  My brother and his wife were already planning to try Recipe # 1 - Crock Pot Mac 'N Cheese and are eager to know what recipes I would be posting in the future.  While Mom was putting the final touches on our Thanksgiving meal, their recipes requests helped me create a mental list of future additions to The Burney Family Recipe Page, so stayed tuned for more special request Recipes.

But first things first.... in honor of the first day of our Christmas season and Black Friday, I present to you a recipe handed down from Granny (my Dad's mom) shared with close family friends and actually served at my niece Lauren's wedding.

It wouldn't be Christmas without them! 

Recipe #2 - Granny's Tea Cakes  - click on the Burney Family Recipe Page tab above.


Thursday, November 24, 2011

Introducing the Burney Family Recipes page...

Christmas Crack
This morning, Chris called from New York asking for our crock pot Mac 'n Cheese recipe, so I pulled out the  Burney Family Recipe Cookbook I've been writing for the past...um... six, maybe even eight years.  As I was reading the recipe to him, I began to feel pretty guilty that I hadn't given the book to him yet. It's probably because I realize now that this notebook is the only place I have some of the recipes written down & I haven't had the time to duplicate the book.  

Yea, this is becoming a list of selfish rationalization, so I'm going to get to the point here. I've been inspired to add this cookbook to my blog and hope you approve.  

Welcome to the Burney Family Recipes page.... click on the tab above for our Crock Pot Mac'n Cheese 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving thanks for my struggles....

Well, it is almost Thanksgiving, so I'm stopping to count my blessings.  But this year, I'm going to switch it up.  I'm not going to go all gushy over the finer gifts and goodies I've received.  I'm going to share my struggles.

Don't worry, I'm not going all depressing or bitter with this.  Thanks to Paul and James, I'm learning to find great joy and thanksgiving in the ups and downs of life.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus." 1 Thessalonians 5:18 

" when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing." James 1: 2b-4 

What I'm thankful for.....
Sunset after Irene
  • Sore muscles - Each time my abs ache or my thighs groan, I thank God I am getting stronger and I've got time and resources to go to the gym and workout. 
  • The April tornadoes that hit Raleigh- I know this sounds rather strange, but I heard so many stories of how God used relief workers to bless those devastated by destruction of property. I only served one day and I was thankful I was strong enough to help.  (see also Sore Muscles) 
  • Hurricane Irene - This past September, I was blessed to gather with friends and family at Kure Beach and ride out the storm together. The memories of good times during the storm and the beautiful sunsets the night after will stay with me for a lifetime. 
  • The Death of our dog, Sweetie - As much as she annoyed me on a daily basis, Sweetie brought excitement to our lives. She guarded the house and announced the arrival of family and guests with her incessant barking. Her poor buddy Reagan, our labrador retriever, is lost without her to tell her what to do. Sweetie lived a good life and loved us in her own controlling and hyperactive way.  It was sad to let her go, but thanks to Dr. Janine Sagris, Sweetie died with peace and dignity while in the arms of those who loved her.  
  • Ministry struggles -  I had so much fun working in Children's ministry at Highland Baptist Church, but the struggles of meeting the needs of a growing number of children and their families was more than my team could handle. Somehow, God saw us through and gave us what we needed each Sunday and Wednesday. It taught us to rely on God, not ourselves and that's the hardest lesson of all. 
  • A Cancelled Consulting Job -  I usually get bummed when a church has to cancel a scheduled training event. It means less money in my pocket and the loss of hours of preparation.  A September cancellation suddenly opened up my schedule and gave me time to prepare some special touches for my parents 60th wedding anniversary.  I'm sure the party would have been just as fun without CD's and custom made placemats, but seeing my parent's reactions of delight was priceless to me... and it was a treat to have time to be crafty and creative.  
  • Deciding to leave my job -  Boy, that was a tough one for me.  I struggled with God, begged, pleaded and even tried to bargain with Him to let me stay... just a while longer.  I am thankful for those who struggled with me on the decision and apologize to those left with so many questions unanswered.  I know it was just as hard on them as it was for Frank and I.  But I know out of this good things will come for me and for the church I left behind. 
  • Waiting on God -  For the past month and probably for several months to come, I'm waiting on God to direct me to the ministry opportunity he has planned for me. I don't like to wait for stop lights, so waiting for God and being patient with His timing is a real challenge for me.  However, I'm using the time to take care of my sweet husband, Frank, and reconnect with dear friends who've taken a back seat to my ministry on more occasions that I care to admit.  
So there you have it, my Thanksgiving list of struggles.  In the end, each one brought me great joy.  As I used to tell the children every Sunday morning...

"Let's Thank God for That!" 

Thank you God for the many struggles of life. You've used each one to teach me to look for and celebrate the blessings within and through all circumstances.  For that I am truly grateful." Amen and amen. 


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Learning from the ups and downs

This morning's workout was fraught with many ups and downs.  Usually I go through my workout, pacing myself but working hard making it through a full hour without incident.  Periodically, I spend the second half of the hour, alternately feeling strong, then faint, so I have to take little breaks in between sets to allow my body to recover.

Before you think I'm an out of shape wimp or a heart attack waiting to happen, I need to tell you these episodes are a result of low blood pressure. The condition runs in my family and I've learned to live with the ups and downs it causes. I am careful and safe, but I keep going knowing no matter what I WILL rebound to normal... or my version of normal.

Today was another one of those ups and down workouts, but with a twist.  While doing simple side shuffles up and down the gym floor, I didn't faint, I tripped on my own feet.  I fell, but being an experienced klutz, I actually rolled down, then bounced back up like a shot to finish the set.  I recovered, or should I say covered, so quickly Joani, who'd had her head turned for a second, almost missed it.

I laughed it off and was really kinda proud I'd simply fallen, not fainted. Joani didn't think it was funny at all. After reprimanding me for going too fast, she gave me a review of proper form before moving on to the next exercise.

So why am I sharing the example of klutz and embarrassment?   Because I do this all the time in other areas of my life.  Instead of learning from my falls, I'd rather quickly rebound and laugh it off than stop and learn from my ups and down.

Today, my aerobic incident got me thinking about how much more evolved and effective I would be if, like Joani did in the gym, I'd take my falls seriously, use them as chance to learn by correcting my "form" before moving on to the next thing.

Oh yeah, I will still laugh, because I don't think I should take myself too seriously, but I won't stop there...

Instead of flippantly laughing things off, I will take more time to evaluate WHY I fell, HOW I successfully rebounded, then brainstorm WHAT I could do in the future to prevent the fall in the first place.   I know I'll always have ups and downs, but if I discipline myself to learn from them, maybe I could stop repeating the same ones over and over again.


By the way, if you are in the North Raleigh area and need a good trainer, I highly recommend Joani Porter at O2 Fitness - Falls of Neuse location. 

O2 Fitness, Raleigh, NC

Monday, November 21, 2011

Deception - the acceptable sin?

While riding the shuttle bus to the basketball game, I was becoming rather annoyed because the driver had taken the longest route imaginable. A usual 10 minute ride became a 25 minute ride, so I logged into Facebook to pass the time.  Little did I know, God intended to use that time to His advantage.  I came across a friend's blog post and ended up being challenged and convicted by the words of a Children's Ministry colleague and Bible scholar, Andy Johnson.   It was all about deception.  I couldn't add another word to his lesson, so please read it for yourself.


I said I wasn't going to add another word, but you knew I would comment, so...  

As I read, I saw my own recent sin of deception illuminated.  Basically, God threw it up in my face and I don't know what to do about it!  I'm in collusion in a planned, deliberate deception I helped create.  Despite my own conscience, I allowed myself to rationalize the agreed upon deception for "the greater good" crafting an acceptable sin to avoid the fallout truth would bring. Worst of all.... I gave my word.  

I can't go back on my word by speaking the truth, but I CAN keep my mouth shut. I can refuse to say anything.  The truth really is a private matter. That's been working so far, but If I'm honest with myself I'd realize saying nothing is also deception.  

So folks, what can I do?  If you are in ministry and read between the lines, you probably figured out exactly what I've done.  

As Andy described it, I'm pretty saturated... soaking in the deception...praying God will show me a way to pull myself out.  What do I do about my "acceptable sin"? 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The last place you should catch.....

This sign was in a Chapel Hill, NC shuttle bus.   I do believe its post worthy.  It's ironic there is more truth to it than we'd like to admit.

One place we shouldn't catch hell is church and church is certainly not a place to give it either.  At least, that's the way I see it.  But the truth is we do both.

Sadly, I've ministered to those scorched and burned by the brethren.

  • parents burned by unsolicited advice on how to "fix " their unruly children. 
  • people in a happy and healthy second marriage passed over for church leadership positions because they survived divorce. 
  • families struggling with teenage alcoholism or drug addiction shunned by others.
  • hard working church volunteers unjustly criticized and overburdened. 
Need I go on? 

I'm sure each of us has created as much heat as we've experienced. I'm as guilty as  anyone else.  I know I spewed words of judgment when I should have been  listening and understanding.  I'm sure at least a few people felt slighted or unjustly treated by me.  I try to be cool, but I fail too.

But I'm tired of seeing innocent, honest, kind and gentle folk leave the church never to return because church was more like Satan's home than God's sanctuary.

So what can we do to turn it all around?

I don't have all the answers, but I think I know where I can start. Jesus said, "Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!"  In other words, stop trying to be the mouth of Christ and instead be the hands and feet of Christ.

Makes it hard to throw rocks or put my foot in my mouth.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

What people will say and do is beyond me.


Nothing gets away with me MORE than hearing true tales of Christian adults acting badly towards others. What people will say and do is beyond me!

I am NOT exempting myself from bouts of bad behavior, but at least I KNOW when I’m out of line!  Or, lucky for me, someone usually tells me.

It’s when Christians indulge in frequent bad behavior towards others without a single bit of remorse that baffle me.  On the surface, they pretend to be gracious, guileless. helpful and industrious, but on the inside they are selfish minded, ambitious, opportunistic and cruel. 
It’s idle gossip fueled by jealousy and self-loathing.  It’s angry words and blatant disrespect of arguments instead of honest dialogue. It’s rumor mills disguised as prayer requests, prejudging other’s motives and actions and failing to give others the benefit of doubt.

Like I said, we’ve all been victims and perpetrators of all or at least some of the above, but I’m not talking about those that slip occasionally.  I’m talking about those whom  would have us believe what they are doing is right, or worse, righteous, that scare me.  It’s bad behavior with a smile and an air of innocence.

It’s uncanny how they do it, but more incredulous is how they get away with it! These people wield their venom void of grace, humility or compassion - unrepentant they pull others along with them into their web of lies and hate.  Unfortunately, they are so skilled at deception gracious and humble people end up on the defensive...when it should be the other way around!

It’s something Paul warned the early church to guard against and here we are today STILL getting caught with our guard down, leaving the church a virtual playground for the emotionally and socially deficient.  Loyal, God fearing staff persons’ careers left in ruins, Once dedicated and fulfilled lay leaders leaving leadership positions in defeat or worse- leaving the church in disgust.  It happens over and over and over.

And yet, in my heart I still hold out hope that once, just once, truth could prevail and I get to see just one troublemaker exposed and one victim restored. 

And sometimes (when I am at my most forgiving) I pray in my altruistic fashion that if called out and admonished, those seeking to hurt others might repent of their sin and that I would graciously, not begrudgingly, forgive them.  

That is where I struggle.  How about you?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

ReGroup 2011 - healing hearts with VBS

Last week, I posted about the Heart of a Children's Minister and asked others to share as well.  At the time, I seriously meant sharing their heart by commenting on the blog post and all I heard was crickets chirping.  I wanted to get people sharing, but nothing...zilch, nada...  Felt kinda lonely... all together say, "awahhhhh" But God had a better idea.  (He always DOES doesn't he?) 

This week, he sent me to Group Publishing Company in Loveland, Colorado for the Ambassador VBS ReGroup 2011, our annual gathering of Children's Ministry friends from all over the US and even Canada. We were there to work and prepare for VBS 2012 training events, but we were also there to play, reconnect and encourage each other between sessions.

We're Children's ministry people.... what ELSE would we do?

We shared our hearts for our life's work - Children's Ministry.

In conversation after conversation, I was graced to hear the beat of hearts tender yet resilient, steady and strong... broken, battered or even bleeding hearts that quicken and quake under the strain of heavy workloads, family struggles and the rigors of today's busy world.

As each one shared their hearts through their life stories, I experienced first hand that even under the pressure and strain, Kidmin hearts never skip a beat. They keep going, serving, planning, sharing, training, loving and guiding with a mobile phone in one hand and a box of Goldfish crackers in the other.

I'm not going to blab the details of what was shared during those precious one on one moments, but the commonality was crystal clear, these friends in ministry are NOT in it for the money, the praise, the fame or fortune... quite the opposite. Many of these people don't get a paycheck or if they do, the check barely covers gas to and from their churches.  Whether volunteer or paid staff, each is motivated by one thing - their passion for bringing children closer to Jesus and a hope that springs up from their trust in God. 

And without blabbing specifics, many of my ministry friends shared the pain and devastating effects of being judged, used, abused, attacked or taken advantage of by their church, pastor or both. Hearing all that pain would have been heart breaking and depressing, but it wasn't.

God showed up, like he always does, bringing healing and hope through the VBS curriculum messages. Bruised hearts were healed throughout the work sessions as we shouted, en masse, over and over again,  "Everything is Possible With God!" and "No Matter What- Trust in God!".  

These tag line phrases are the core of 2012 Easy VBS and Holyland Adventure VBS and they healed the broken hearts of my ministry friends gathered there to learn them.  Words can't express the awe I felt as I watched my friends hearts heal as we shouted God's promises aloud.

 I've witnessed what those words did for my friends.  Just imagine what the simple truth of "Everything is Possible with God" and the encouragement of "No Matter What - Trust God!" will do for millions of children and adults this summer.

Check Group's 2012 VBS out for yourself and just see what God will do in the hearts of you and your church family. 


Group Publishing's VBS 2012





Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Children's Minister's hearts...

This post has been percolating in me ever since Group's Kidmin and LifeServe Conferences.  I've hesitated posting because I was afraid of being misunderstood by my own congregation.  A few weeks ago, God called me out of that position, so I'm ready.

Below is what I've gathered by listening to my own heart and the hearts of others blessed to serve in children's ministry.

Kidmin's (Children's Ministers)  hearts...

  • beat for Jesus. Our entire reason for existence is to reach children for Him, however, whenever and whatever.
  • are tender. We are empathetic, sympathetic and unselfish - giving us the capacity to love the "unlovable". 
  • are open. Like children we have an almost limitless capacity for love. There is ALWAYS room for one more; child, family, parent or volunteer. Matter of fact, we think, pray, plan and prepare for more. 
  • are strong. We can handle WHATEVER you throw at us... criticism, complaints, heavy workloads, heavy boxes and furniture, last minute requests. You name it. We can handle it or endure it.
  • quicken and melt easily. Experiencing parent and child dedication, baptisms, Bible presentations and a baby's first visit tug at our hearts, remind us why we serve.  This is especially true for me... these experiences usually bring me to tears. (Kind of awkward when praying aloud, but it's me and I accept that.)
  • desire to know the heart of the Senior Pastor. We share the Senior Pastor's heart for the church and serve out of brotherly love and devotion, not to force our agenda or lead the way ourselves. Communication with the SPastor is critical to effective service.
  • are loyal and true. We sincerely care about integrity, honesty and trustworthy behavior and hold ourselves accountable. We expect others, adults and children, to do the same. If we fall short, we want to be called on it.
  • are devoted to work and family, equally and simultaneously. We artfully balance the needs of both and are good at distinguishing when one or the other needs more attention. We are quick to recognize imbalance in others' lives - encouraging and supporting them to make healthy choices too. 
  • can be broken. Because of the above traits, our hearts CAN be broken.  I guess that's the hardest part of being a Children's minister.  We expect so much of ourselves and others. We hold ourselves, and others, to such high standards BECAUSE we know in our hearts Jesus expects no less.  Unfortunately, betrayal of those high standards by others can surprise us, blindside and disappoint us because it isn't what we expect. I guess if our hearts had a weakness, that would be it. Such high expectations keep us from realizing other people are human, and so are we. We ALL fall short, we fail to live up to what Jesus expects every day. 
  • can be restarted and restored. Our hearts get broken, some more than others, but because of Jesus, our resilient hearts heal quickly... as long as we obediently repent and then forgive ourselves and others as God forgave us through the gift of His son Jesus. 
Psalm 51:17 -  "The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit.
You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God."
Do you see your heart in the traits listed above? What would you add or subtract from my list?  I'm here waiting to listen to your heart. 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Ian!

This Thursday, my baby, Ian, turns 28 years old.  We celebrated with him last night because he's working Thursday night- his actual birth date.

Most would consider working on one's birthday a bummer. Ian is one of the blessed folk who'd differ. He LOVES his work, his employer and his team mates.  You could say the job was tailor-made for Ian or else Ian was tailor-made for the job.

So this Thursday, he will celebrate the day he was born, making a living using his God-given gifts. What could be better?  In this economy, simply having a job is huge. Having a job you love is a huge blessing!

Did I mention my son ALSO has a lovely girlfriend, his own apartment and tons of friends living around him? Some of those friends he's had since the day he was born.

Ironically, the day he was born, I was only 28 years old. (The very same age as Ian.) I look back to the day the doctors handed that squirmy little miracle to me for the very first time. As I spoke his name for the first time, "Ian Daniel Burney," I whispered a prayer that God would guide us to be good parent and bless Ian... just bless him.

I was way too young to know what ELSE to ask or do! Thank heavens, God did. 

So what gift did Frank and I give our child of so many, many blessings?

Why that was easy!

We gave him an eight place setting of flatware, super hero coasters, a sushi dinner and a big hug!

You see our gracious God has given him everything else....


 "Start children off on the way they should go, 
   and even when they are old they will not turn from it." Proverbs 22:6




Our younger son, Ian, builds jet engines for GE Aviation in the Research Triangle. Instead of me trying to explain what he does, I'd rather show you this video...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

The "It's all about me" syndrome

Originally posted on my old blog in March 2010... never gets old cuz I still need reminding!


It has come to my attention that I’ve been a little bit TOO wrapped up in my own little world recently.  My schedule, my time, my house, my plans are way too high up on my list of topics for discussion.  If I don’t snap out of it, I’m afraid I’m going to slip into a big old case of the “It’s all about me” syndrome.  The “It’s all about me” syndrome is one affliction that will have your friends, colleagues and family running for the door faster than the dogs when the UPS man delivers. (I’m talking real fast.) 

Come on! You know what I’m talking about don’t you?  

The majority of conversations are peppered with the “I” word and the “me” word.
No matter how bad someone else’s day is, mine is worse.
No matter how amazing someone else’s day is, mine is better.
People talk, but I’m interrupting because I either -    
        1-don’t have time to waste waiting for them to finish that thought... or 
        2 - I jump in the moment they take a breath to get my own point across.

Good thing is that I’ve alerted myself to the downturn and can try and self-correct.

So, what’s happening in your world?

.... see it’s already getting better...

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Connect Groups improve the Conference Experience

Conferences are great ways to gain skills and acquire new learning resources by attending General Session and carefully chosen workshops and browsing through the trade booths.  With great intentions of experiencing all the planned learning opportunities, I would race from session to session taking copious notes looking for that one thing God wants me to take home and implement.

After my first five or six ministry conference experiences, I'd come home totally exhausted and overwhelmed with the plethora of ideas and initiatives I'd gathered. It would take me weeks to digest it all and usually that idea that sounded so great at the conference simply didn't satisfy my ministry needs or fit my church's situation.  After one such conference experience, I arrived home totally depressed and depleted. (That's quite another story, so I'll save for another post.)  I ended up swearing off conferences for a few years. It was just too expensive and too exhausting... I was DONE!

Instead I'd take my team to local conferences, like Group's Children's Ministry Magazine Live.  The price was right and the material covered was just the right amount to challenge without overwhelming me.  Plus, I enjoyed the interactive activities interweaved throughout the presentations when I got to talk with other attendees and hear what they were thinking.  I even made a few Children's Ministry friends in my area that I kept in touch with for years afterwards.  (Matter of fact, I ended up being a presenter for CMMLive! and Group's HOW2. I was THAT big a fan!)

As a result of my association with Group Publishing, in 2009 I was invited to attend the first ever LifeServe Conference and serve as an "Affinity Group" leader.  All I had to do was gather with others in Children's Ministry several times during the conference and facilitate conversation.

Since talking and listening are two of my favorite activities, I knew I was up to the task.  I like to find out what others are doing that's making a big difference in their communities.  I enjoy meeting others that totally "get" me, and that's usually others in the trenches of Children's Ministry.

My experience as an Affinity Group leader was mind-blowing! I'll admit I missed a few sessions and workshops because I get involved in some deep discussions, but I'd found something to make my conference experiences more valuable than I ever imagined. I was making personal connections! Instead of gaining skills, I was learning from others with similar struggles and situations.  As a bonus, I gained new friends to interact with, pray for and celebrate life with after the conference.

Group Publishing actually calls them "Connect Groups" now and they are a unique benefit at all of their Conferences -  LifeServe, Simply Youth and this year's first ever, Kidmin Conference.  I jumped at the opportunity to serve as the Children's Ministry Connect Group leader at LifeServe 2011 and the Rural Children's Ministry Connect Group leader at Kidmin2011. I hope and pray I'll be asked to lead again, but if not, I promise I'll be a Connect Group member!


Learn more about my experiences Leading "Connect Groups" in Insider magazine... 

http://assets.group.com/email/cvc/assets/20111101_inspired.pdf

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Loose ends

Today was my cleaning day. My goal was to complete all the housework and laundry for the week in one day.  I figure if our housekeeper could do the cleaning in two or three hours, surely I could get both done in a day.

I could easily break the tasks up and get them accomplished over a few days, but honestly, I dislike loose ends. Even more so, I don't like wasting time or procrastination. In my warped little mind, I think if I get it all done TODAY, I can play tomorrow.  And I really do like to play!

My reward to myself would be to get it all done, then make myself a nice cold coffee and read until dinner time. After my little reading retreat, I would walk around the house and admire, and marvel, that my house was...drum roll... still clean!  (I am so easy to entertain. Serious, that's all it takes to make my day!)  And then to really reward myself, I would spent tomorrow sleeping in, going to the gym, shop or whatever else I decide might be fun.

AND to further motivate myself, I decided it wouldn't count if I didn't get it ALL done in a day.  So I got crackin'!

I was successful cleaning all the rooms in the house, but as I worked through room by room, I found things that needed attention.

Ugh! Mold growing around a closed air vent sent me running for the Lysol and Mildew Remover. I surely couldn't ignore that! Mildew is a southern curse and I wanted to be sure I nipped that in the bud, so I check ALL the vents before moving on.

I found a button missing on Frank's pants and sewing on a new one wouldn't take more than a few minutes. It ended up taking ten minutes, but while hunting for the button, I realized there was a lot of change on the dresser. Was going to count it, but I decided it just wasn't enough to worry with, so I kept on cleaning. (See I'm not totally ADHD, 24/7... I CAN focus.)

I'm tickled to say I ironed pillowcases and my hubby's slacks without any medical emergencies. (Sometimes the iron and my arm get all crossed up resulting in second degree burns, but today I sailed through the task without incident.)

Vacuumed, dusted, cleaned the bathroom top to bottom. I was really making headway, but had to stop for lunch.  Those who know me will realize me stopping for lunch is a good thing, because I usually keep working, forgetting hunger.  Yep, when I have a goal to meet, I can be driven.  But I stopped, and fixed a nice salad which gave me plenty of fuel to finish the job.

With the floor sparkling, sheets changed, fresh towels on the rack, I was really making headway!

Before rolling the trash can off the street, I checked the mail.  There was my paycheck, so I dropped everything to drive to the bank and deposit it.  Although tempted, I didn't run any other errands. I returned home and completed "poop patrol" in the side yard. (It's a gross, gross job, but stepping in it is even grosser.)

Then it hit me.  The laundry is not going to be finished today.  You see I'm a tad, well... picky. I insist that my jeans drip dry.  I've got pretty long legs and the dryer will turn my jeans into high waters even on low heat. I suddenly realized the jeans wouldn't be dry until tomorrow morning.  And even if I got everything else in the right drawer or closet today, TECHNICALLY, I couldn't meet my goal until tomorrow. Rats! rats! And I was so close, too!

But then I stopped myself and thought. Why do I DO that to myself?  Why do I push, especially when there's no reason?  I reminded myself, it will only take thirty minutes tops to put alway the drip dry items tomorrow morning. I'll have the REST of the day to play.  What WAS the point, Lisa? Huh?

I know the answer.  I just don't LIKE it.  Here it is.  As a Kidmin (Children's Minister)  everyday is a series of loose ends - a self-regenerating never ending list of goals and tasks. Getting anything done in a day is something we rarely ever experience.

We can NEVER finish recruiting. If we ever up with a full staff, someone's going to get sick or worse, move and we are back recruiting.  And then its time to recruit Vacation Bible School volunteers. Life is just one more volunteer before heaven.  I mean Kidmins will literally be asking St. Peter to wait a sec. so we can make just one more call.

Kidmins canNOT keep a clean office. About the time we clear out the clutter of Fall Sunday School start up and Bible presentations, the Christmas activities arrive. As soon as we get Christmas packed away, Vacation Bible School materials begin arriving. (Matter of fact, I'm not even SURE I could trust a Kidmin whose office is always tidy, It's just not natural!)

Yep, it's all those loose ends in ministry making me mental over housework.  Don't get me wrong.  I really DO accept that ministry life is ongoing and never ending. Matter of fact, that's one of the things that makes Children's Ministry so exciting. It's NEVER boring!

But if even just once in a while, it would feel so GOOD to tie up a loose end or two.

But, I know that's not my reality, nor my what fills my heart with joy.  I know its just fine to let something go another day, or week, if all those loose ends represent children growing ever closer to Jesus, every day, every week and every year. Matter of fact, it kinda makes me happy to think of it that way.

So, I'll let this day's little obsession ride.  I'll enjoy the rest of this day and tomorrow... regardless of the loose ends in my life.

Eccesiastes 3: 12-13 "I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. 13 That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.14 I know that everything God does will endure forever;"

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Flexibility and imbalance



My friend and colleague, Susan Lawrence, is writing a three part series on Disicpline in her column, Encouraging WORD for Leaders Insider magazine.  In the November issues, she discussed the importance of Flexbility. (October was Weight Training and December will be on Endurance, so be sure to subscribe. http://assets.group.com/email/cvc/assets/20111101_inspired.pdf)  
Susan’s articles always get me food for thought and with the way my brain is wired, my thoughts tend to veer off the beaten path and sometimes on little rabbit trails… like today.
I always considered myself very flexible, physically.  I prided myself in my ability to not only touch my toes, but place my palms on the ground. When warmed up, I could put my foot behind my head.  It was as if I were gifted in the flexibility department.
That’s good, right?  At least, that’s what I thought, until an insightful personal trainer set me straight.
All my adult life, I suffered with knee and hip pain.  Running for long distances was murder and simple lunges caused the tendons in my knees to lock up.  Needless to say, I learned to avoid both.  When the pain became acute, I’d end up in physical therapy told I needed to strengthen my quads and take Tylenol or Aleve. The real downer was they’d tell me women with long legs usually have these issues. (And I thought having long legs was a good thing! Boy, was I wrong!)
Back to the personal trainer…  One afternoon during a regular workout of wincing through my leg exercises, my trainer, who was always trying to find an exercise I COULD accomplish without pain, put me on a machine to isolate my hamstrings and totally avoid stressing my knees.  We immediately discovered that I had zero strength in my hamstrings. Seriously, even at the lowest weigh I was struggling to complete even a few repetitions.
While I was feeling pretty defeated, my trainer was having a revelation.  He told me that my hip pain and knee pain was probably because of an imbalance of strength in my leg muscles.  My quads were much stronger than my puny hamstrings and were pulling my legs out of balance resulting in the constant pain.
For the next six months, we concentrated on stretching my quads and strengthening my hamstrings to create muscular balance. As the back of my legs became stronger the pain in my hips and knees virtually disappeared. 
But guess what else changed.  No longer could I place my palms on the floor OR put my leg behind my head. That extraordinary flexibility I thought was my gift was really a result of that painful imbalance which was causing real physical limitations and constant pain.  Yep, I am not super flexible anymore, BUT I CAN do lunges, leg lifts and run (if I even decide I WANT to) with very little pain.  I’m growing stronger every week. I am a changed woman!
In reading Susan’s article, then thinking myself down this rabbit hole, I began to see parallels in my physical story and my ministry story. 
How many times have I been too flexible in ministry creating imbalance, pain and limitations?  I’m thinking of the time I wasted letting one individual hold an entire program back. Where I thought I was being flexible and patient, I was really prolonging the pain and limping through with an outdated ministry plan.    
Do I let my strengths in some areas blind me to weakness in another?  Does my strength as a trainer and encourager actually limit my ability to be discerning enough to see limiting weaknesses in my own leadership styles and the leadership styles of others?  I know that I sometimes accentuate the positive TOO much and thereby allow myself to ignore the problems that truly need addressing.
Hey, this little rabbit trail is actually leading somewhere….
Just think how much stronger I could be for the kingdom, if I address, and correct, the weakness and imbalance in my own ministry life?  I may end up a tad less flexible, but with God’s help and direction, the journey will be much less painful. 

Go Ahead - Google it!