Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Change is good. Obedience is best!

It's been an interesting week!  First of all, I decided to go back to being a brunette. 

Let's just be honest, I'm married to a pastor so I don't really go very crazy with fashion or accesories. Changing my hair is about as crazy as I get! I love watching people's first reactions when they figure out who I am! Crazy Gayla...I usually like a little change every season and I'm praying it is actually cool enough very soon to call it a new season. 

Speaking of changes, we are making some at the McKinney house.  I assure you that God is always at work, but I've seen it more in my own life this week than I've noticed in awhile. As I've said before, you really should be careful how you pray! 

I've been praying for some specific things for my kids and their schools. I've also been praying some huge things for the women in my church as well as 118 different churches in the Midwest with whom I work on behalf of LifeWay Women. I've been asking God to move in those people, but He's moved in ME!

That's just like Him, isn't it!

As I've asked God to give my children at least one believing teacher who will hold them accountable for living out their faith at school, God has undeniably spoken to me that I'm missing the privilege of being more present with my children. I hold them accountable for being Christlike, but they need me actually with them more. (I'm sure my teenage sons would not agree with this need for Mom, but what do teenage boys know anyway!)  I've been so busy with work that I've missed gym practices, concerts, curriculum nights, and homework duties. God has spoken to my heart, "You be more involved in those schools and your children. Put feet to your prayers!"

As I've prayed for women all across the Midwest, He's tugged gently at me to say, "You minister to the women in your own community!" I've become quite adept at encouraging and teaching women how to do women's ministry and forgotten my own true calling. I am not called to teach ministry, I am called to minister. 

So, to make room for obedience, we are making some changes around our house. Today I gave two week's notice at my part time sales job. That job was a gift from The Lord to enable Justin to travel last spring to NYC with his school orchestra. I've enjoyed the opportunity it provided but I hear The Lord saying, "be available for more time with your kids." 

That job has also kept me from ministry opportunities. I know that women's ministry is my calling, so I'm recommitting to being available to the women and girls in my own sphere of influence. At this point I don't really know what this will involve, but I'm excited about whatever He works out. 

I've taught my children from the day they could understand it that disobedience brings consequences, but obedience brings blessing. These changes are more than just a new season, although I believe that is part of what He's up to in my life and ministry. My job change is an act of obedience. 

Father, this is a little scary but a lot exciting! I want to be completely obedient! Thanks for speaking to ME even though I was asking You to speak to everyone else!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Be careful what you pray for...

Happy Tuesday!  We enjoyed a wonderful holiday weekend and were blessed to spend lots of family time together.  As the kids headed back to school today, I headed downtown for jury duty.  I cannot tell you how much I've been dreading this.  I know it's my civic duty, and I've heard all the videos by now about how it's a privilege.  I know those things with my head, but my heart wants to be a million miles from here.

Get a grip, Gayla!  You have nothing to complain about!!

I do find it very interesting that this experience is so different from other times when I've been waiting to hear my name.  Don't judge, but in my old days I did a few beauty pageants.  Yes, I know, I hear you gasping!  I know what you're saying...well actually I know that many of you are saying different things. Some of you are saying, "I'm not surprised at all.  I saw Toddlers and Tiaras, and she's got that same accent.  I've seen those bows in Sarah's hair.  I knew it all along.  Well, bless her heart."  (It is a well known, but little verbalized fact that this phrase is the classic judgemental phrase in the south.  "Well, bless your heart" actually means "You're an idiot!")

Some of you might be saying, "I'm completely shocked.  She seemed so above all that."  I am shallower than I'd like to admit.  Besides, I only did pageants that would provide scholarships and required talent.  And I've made very very sure that no photos exist of my former beauty queen life.  NONE!

Anyway, when you are in a pageant, you long to hear your name called.  Jury duty...not so much.  So far, so good.  Of course, I don't doubt that I will, at some point (assuming I don't get picked), wonder why I wasn't good enough.  I mean, honestly, wouldn't everyone want me on their panel?  I'm a likable person!!  Again, I'm complex.  As we say in the south, well bless my heart!

The actual reason for my post is to remind myself that I'm called to pray for my kids' schools.  Perhaps jury duty will remind me to pray harder.  God forbid my children or their friends end up here.  God forbid I ever see one of their teachers in a court.  And God forbid my children ever go to law school...insert lawyer joke here.

I've learned a lesson this past week:  Be careful what you pray for!  I stand by my theory that praying helps me see God at work. I've been praying for some very specific things at my children's schools.  While I have definitely seen God at work, I have also become keenly aware that the enemy is constantly on the prowl. We have specifically chosen to put our children in the public school system, and we are very aware that they are exposed to things that Christian schools and home schools don't offer.  We also must completely remember that our children are in process...they are not perfect!  We have normal children, and they make mistakes.  This past week was a rough one because one of the boys made a mistake.  I was so tempted to give up on this prayer experiment.  I was tempted to lash out at God and say, "How dare You let my own child mess up when I've been so verbal about praying for my kids and their schools?"  Over the week I've been reminded that my children are no different than others, that the enemy will attack them, and that they must learn to make decisions for themselves. God wants to redeem their own mistakes and give them their own stories. My job is to continue to provide discipline and boundaries, teach them about Jesus, include them in our family's ministry, and pray for them.  I so wish parenting were easier, that living for Christ was easier.  It's just not.  Tough times, especially tough parenting times, make me long for heaven.

So this week, I'm praying for protection from the enemy for all three schools.  Most importantly, I'm asking God to give me a renewed understanding of my role as prayer warrior.

Please, Lord, don't let the enemy fool me into thinking that my kids, my family can't make a difference.  Use us to encourage believing teachers and be the hands and feet of Jesus to those who don't know You.  I'd ask You to protect my kids from the enemy, but also give them such a sense of Your presence that they have extreme courage to live for You in a very difficult environment.  Raise up at least one Christian teacher this week to be a role model for Justin, Caleb, and Sarah.  And don't let them or me get away with anything less than what You've called us to be.  Thank You for Your constant presence!  Without it, honestly I'd give up.  Because of it, we can be real and vulnerable and honest witnesses even when we are so imperfect!