Thursday, October 31, 2013

What Your Spouse Can Teach You About Ministry

There are many different ways that we youth workers can grow. We can pursue higher education, read the newest youth ministry books, mentor under a more seasoned youth worker, or attend training events and conferences, like the awesome one Simply has coming up in March. But as many of us seek to grow, we often forget a key person who can aid our maturity and development: our spouse.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Your Family vs. Your Boss

So there you are: You’re trying to balance youth ministry with marriage and family life. You’re striving toward healthy goals and implementing new changes so that both your job and family will benefit. It’s hard work, but you know it’s worth it.

And then in walks the senior pastor. He asks to have a little chat and your stomach drops. He’s concerned that you aren’t putting in enough hours at the office, he’s not happy that your family didn’t show up at the church spaghetti supper last weekend, and he thinks your youth group numbers might be lacking.

What do you do? You’re trying to maintain a healthy, balanced life, but your boss doesn’t see balance in the same way.

There isn’t a simple answer to this dilemma, and frankly, most youth pastors will encounter this problem at some point during their ministry. Church life is demanding, healthy boundaries can be sketchy and hard to define, and ministry to teens and their families can be never-ending. So here are some thoughts on navigating balance while striving to respect authority:

Keep reading at http://www.morethandodgeball.com/simply-insider/authority-your-family-vs-your-boss/#sthash.LxGihG9E.dpuf

Monday, October 14, 2013

It's Honesty Time...Again

There is this tea called "Honest-Tea" and it's whole ploy/marketing genius is that the ingredients in the tea are simple and spelled right out for you. You look on the label and you understand what you're drinking.

That idea of being refreshingly honest is why Jake and I started this blog. We'd been through some tough stuff and we wanted to connect and share with others. And that went great. It started touching people, we got some articles published, started writing for magazines, and even a book deal. But then a funny thing happened - more tough stuff happened. Life got harder than I think both of us ever expected.

We've been through hell the past six years and we're on the other side. Here's the rub though, even as we've seen God's redemptive power in our lives in truly miraculous ways, six years of hell leave a mark. And it's been very difficult to talk about those marks that have been left. We don't have answers as to how to deal with them yet. We're still wrestling with them and so I, at least, have been taking breaks from blogging because I don't know what to share. "Hey, this week should have been great, we have two awesome kids, and love our work, and have a great house - but I'm really struggling with God and our marriage kinda sucks right now."

It's not easy to figure out.

This is the best way I can say it: It's a time of joy right now, but it's also a time of healing. And healing hurts. It's messy.

And this is where we are in our marriage. The past six years of infertility, miscarriage, foster care, a difficult pregnancy, birth and recovery, and now life with two kids under two - all of that has shaped our relationship, for good and for ill. We know how to be good friends. We know now how to support one another through tough stuff, and how to ask for help.

But we're also struggling with communication. Our sex life sucks - as you can imagine after infertility, doctors, fertility drugs, procedures, a hard pregnancy and birth. We sincerely have to go back to the basics when it comes to sex and try to know and connect on that level again, now that there's no baby pressure involved. We're both struggling with anxiety and letting go of that anxiety. We're trying to figure out life and our marriage when it's not a crazy "just get through each moment" season.

So now is wonderful, but it's also very hard. And I really felt like I wanted to be honest about that here, where we started. I never realized that a time of blessing can also be a time of experiencing pain - but it is. And while there are many things in our relationship that I can't figure out right now, I do know that we'll get through them. We have a God that is a great Healer and He's always been there for us. I re-listened to this song recently and it touched my heart. It is exactly us right now. "May our weary hearts be filled with hope."

- Melissa

"Church Bells" - Gungor

Let church bells ring
Let children sing
Even if they don’t know why let them sing
Why drown their joy
Stifle their voice
Just because you’ve lost yours

May our jaded hearts be healed
Amen

Let old men dance
Lift up their hands
Even if they are naïve, let them dance
You’ve seen it all
You watch them fall
Wash off your face and dance

May our weary hearts be filled with hope
Amen

Friday, October 4, 2013

4 Tips to Win Every Fight

All couples fight.

They might do so in different ways and at different levels of intensity, but no matter what, fighting can bring out the worst in two people. Many couples, including us, get stuck having the same ones over and over, which is exhausting and discouraging. Fighting is a way for spouses to resolve conflict and attempt to connect.

In many ways, fighting is vital to the health of a marriage.
But when a fight becomes nasty, hurtful, degrading, and a desperate attempt to manipulate or “win,” it sinks into unhealthy territory and breaks down a marriage instead of building it up.

But it’s really hard to have a “good” fight! It feels so wonderful in the moment to give into hurt or anger, hit below the belt, and win the augment. Fights like this happen to even the best marriages. Yes, even for pastors and their spouses.

Though many ministry couples feel the need to present themselves as perfectly in accord, a sign of a healthy relationship is not the absence of conflict, but how a couple handles the conflicts that will inevitably arise.

Here are a handful of things that we know it takes to have a good fight (but honestly continue to struggle with ourselves):

- See more at: http://www.morethandodgeball.com/simply-insider/fighting-above-the-belt/#sthash.CsLLnlt2.dpuf
Our goal of this blog is to share stories (both good and bad), thoughts and insights about our marriage and we would love for you to jump into the conversation.

The goal is to provide three things:
1) HOPE for struggling couples that they are not alone.
2) GROWTH in our marriages and our understanding of marriage.
3) ENCOURAGEMENT to keep loving your spouse unconditionally.