Monday, October 8, 2012

Part 2 - The Dream grows....

It's been twelve years and God hasn't written me again. He spoke to me once, but I'll save that story"You want ME to do WHAT?"  for another day. Instead, He's spoken through others continually, and through His Word whenever I open the Bible.

  • The situations and opportunities along the way have been varied and at times unpredictable, but the message hasn't changed. 
  • I haven't moved away from Raleigh, but I am "a visitor in many different places." 
  • I've learned to be a messenger of encouragement equipping others for ministry wherever I go and even in places I'll never go.
  • I continue to be a recipient of many blessings every step along the way. 
  • The territory keeps expanding and at each expansion, I'd think this was what God was talking about - "This is it!", but I'm wrong every time.  
The dream God gave me, the one He wrote with my own hand, keeps growing and evolving. 

1999-2003 - God lead me out of North Raleigh into a new church in an older established church in another area of Raleigh. There I began serving as their first full time Children's Ministry Director.  For a time, I did feel like a visitor, but in time, it became my church home. 

2004 - As a consultant with Group Publishing,  I began sharing God's message of hope all over North Carolina and Virginia.  I visited, trained and encouraged others in the local church to share the gospel with children using effective ministry resources. It still amazes me how God gave me the energy to consult while continuing to serve in a full time church position. Matter of fact, I am convinced consulting re-energized, encouraged and feed me enhancing my local church work.

2005 & 2006 - The territory as I understood it, went way past my original dream. It expanded to Guyana, South America. (Shoot,  until that time I didn't even know the country existed!)  I thought I was only going there to lead VBS and serve on a construction team, but God used me as a messenger to a woman with a passion to minister to children in her church. And soon, I began looking for those potential ministry leaders and praying with them that God would equip them to minister to children in their own communities.

June 2006 - On the move again, I stepped down from my local church position. For a year, I wrestled with God about this move. I begged and pleaded with Him struggling to understand why I had to leave a place, and a congregation, that had become my faith family.  When it got right down to it, it took some mighty difficult circumstances to pry me out, but I learned once again, obedience is not always easy or personally rewarding.... at least not right away.

July 2006 to February 2007 - God pruned me. It hurt, but in cutting away activities and responsibilities gave me the strength to grow stronger and more resilient.  I also enjoyed spending time with friends I realized I'd neglected over the past decade. For some it was not as much my realization as a few very close friends outright telling me I'd been distant and too often absent. Thankfully, they gave me the opportunity to make amends and rekindle friendships God knew were essential to His plan for my life.  Basically, I learned future travel and ministry work would require a better balance of time away and time "at home".  My life depends on it.  I could write several cautionary tale posts about how churches promote unhealthy dysfunctional living, but I'm not ready to address it with diplomacy and tact. 

February 2007 -  My travel became a fact of daily life. I was called by a rural church 32 miles away from my home.  I thought I needed another full time position, but God provided exactly what I needed at the time -  a thirty  hour per week position.  It gave me more time to consult and be present at home.  I adjusted quickly to the commute and the new work week. My church responsibilities and consulting assignments were in balance.  At least until the children's ministry and my responsibilities there grew beyond part time.

2007 - 2011 -  Air travel became a fact of life. I grew into a new presenter role and began traveling further than I could drive.  For someone who usually flew every year or so, I found myself flying so often I kept a bag packed.  I didn't quite live out of a suitcase, but I could have.  I've yet to quantify how many times I've been "a visitor in many places", but whenever I thought the territory has reached its max, it expanded even further.  It's been equally amazing to see how God worked through me in so many different churches and how often he used other people to inspire, encourage and speak God's truth into my life.

Simultaneously in 2007 - 2011 -  My responsibilities in the local church grew beyond my grasp.   I realized I couldn't do it alone and began purposefully working myself out of ministry roles. One on one, I trained others to do what I could never do alone.  I delighted in watching God work through others, developing them, molding them to be children's ministers in leadership roles I used to fill.  While on church mission trips, the youth I was privileged to train stepped up and were actually leading me.  I giggle thinking of one in particular telling another it was OK to tell "Ms. Lisa" they didn't need my daily input... or was it interference? Whichever, it was a highlight of my journey. 

October 2011 - God put me on the move once again.  It became crystal clear my work at the current church was done.  I left without regret, remorse or fear. The team of ministers I left behind were quite capable of maintaining the ministry without me. Funny thing, I knew I would miss the people I'd grown to love, but I was 100% certain and secure in the decision to step down.   I didn't have a clue how all this fit into my dream, but I was confident God would guide and direct me in His time.

November 2011 - It didn't take God long.  He tells me through a friend, He's going to send me further than I'd ever imagined - South Africa.  I spend the next few months planning, seeking out prayer support and financial support.  I was not sure why I was going.  I only knew God wanted me to visit another place and He'd explain once I got there. To learn more about the South Africa journey, you can start with this post..

Asking for Help

February 2012 - The Dream evolved beyond ME.   I returned from South Africa to complete a writing project. The curriculum I co-wrote would be translated into several languages and used all over the world to reach children with the gospel through sports and whole life coaching.  It wasn't just ME traveling and equipping others.  The lessons I helped write would go instead.  Yeah, about the time I thought I had the dream figured out, God found a way to make it totally different.

May 2012 -  With the writing project going into Field Test and me still consulting up a storm,  I carved out time to simply BE.  I traveled with my family and friends celebrating the blessing of actually HAVING friends and family.  I highly recommend this to balance ministry life.

Recently - I hate to admit it but at times I didn't think much about my ministry dream.  Frank and I spent most weekends away from Raleigh, so we didn't visit churches or even attempt to look for a new church home.  Occasionally, we worshipped in some amazing places, but never while in Raleigh.  I don't know WHY. It simply felt right to take a break.

Yesterday -  After an invitation from an old friend in ministry, we finally worshipped in a local church.  I know my experience at Kidmin 2012 was the catalyst to finally get us there.  It's a good restart and I KNOW God's hand was in it. OK, His hand was ALL over that worship experience!  Communion AND an infant baptism?  Oh my, Lord! You had me at communion.  Witnessing the baptism of another precious child helped me remember the day God originally called me into full time service.

I have no idea what tomorrow will bring. I only know God will get me through today.  I'm happy to wait on Him for the next step, the next visit.

One thing I DO know, God's moving in me.  To be sure I move in the right direction, I must revisit the day he called me into ministry.   If you will indulge me, I will retell that story in the next post.   I think I'll call it....

You want ME to do WHAT? 

Go Ahead - Google it!