Monday, June 22, 2009

1st Day of Camp

First day of camp under our belt.

I love summer and camp, but the first day is always a little hard as we try to get everything settled. We have a great teaching team this year and have added some really fun components so I hope that the kids are really blessed by it.

I can see that the things I've been learning about myself and ministry in the past months are going to make this year even better! I'll be sure to post some pics!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Ministry and me...

For a class I was recently a part of...I had to explain what I've learned about ministry and myself. This is an exerpt of what I came up with...

In trying to define ministry I figured I would at least first look up the literal definition of ministry. The word ministy is derived from the Greek word diakoneo—meaning to serve, or douleuo—meaning to serve as a slave. Serving God and His people, His world. Nothing about place of employment. Nothing about job title. Nothing about status. Ministry is daily dying to self, seeking God’s will, allowing the power of the Holy Spirit to use me to serve others, feeling the love of God fill me and then loving the world as an outpouring of that love. I realized that I am ministry. Ministry is me.

I try not to get really caught up in labels. It’s probably partly why I am not intimidated by someone’s “title” or “position”. I don’t think we are supposed to label ministry. I understand why in the church…in the world we do. Our human need is to give structure and define roles. We like to have a full picture and understanding of who everyone is and what everyone does and why they behave the way they do. He is the Senior Pastor, she is the Pastor, they are the assistants, they are the volunteers. I understand that for the structure of a place of employment you need to assign job duties and give job titles. But in ministry, in serving….serving as a slave…what if we have it wrong? What if we aren’t supposed to label and pigeon-hole each other? What if there aren’t supposed to be silo ministries? I “specialize” in this or this; he is an “expert” in this and this…what if we are all supposed to be working together intermingled for the kingdom? My title right now is Ministry Assistant for Children’s Ministry, but quite honestly…that’s not my ministry. That is just my job title. It might define what I get paid to do for my vocation. But it is not a full picture of who I am. I don’t think that I want it to be.

I want it all. It has always been my problem and has gotten me into more trouble than I can say, but it is the truth. I want to see people’s lives transformed. I want to walk through life with a young person who is struggling. I want to instill the value of true worship in children. I want to bring broader perspective to those around me about differences, diversity of culture, ethnicity. I want to encourage others to realize the amazing value that they have and the powerful way that God can use them if they just let Him. I want to challenge individuals who have become lazy or self-righteous in their faith. I want to use the gifts that God has given me to impact the world around me. Yet, I am just one person. I think it’s too easy in ministry….the vocation of ministry….to feel overwhelmed and to commit yourself to too many things. Too many tasks and too many programs. The program is not the ministry. The program is just a ministry tool. I am the ministry. Because I am the servant. I am the slave, dying to self and reaching out to a broken world in the love of God, with the power of the Holy Spirit. He will use me as He sees fit. I need to stop looking for ways to fill the “wants” that I have in ministry and just look to Him to guide my steps and take me where He wants. Whenever I try to have it all, be involved in all…I get in the way and He can’t do what He wants to through me. I have learned that simply because I can do something well, does not mean that I should. It’s a lesson God has been teaching me for a few years and I do believe that this year I was finally able to put that into practice and adhere to it.

Although I have always felt that I might be a leader, I must admit that since becoming a Christian I have balked at that label. Throughout my life others have told me that I was a strong leader. Teachers in school would say, “Mindy is a leader, many of the children look to her and take their cues from her.” Yuck. What 6th grader wants THAT responsibility? In friendships I often became the leader and didn’t like feeling as if the other person wasn’t capable of their own opinions, thoughts or ideas separate from me. I would find us dialoguing, discussing something as simple as what to do for the weekend and suddenly whatever I said became where we were going. Looking back, I don’t know if there was something in me that tried to influence others? I know that in my wild 20s I sometimes did purposely influence, manipulate and sway people (not something I am proud of)...however, I have found that I don’t want to be and definitely didn’t like being that kind of leader.

Here are some things that I do want to continue to develop and allow to grow in myself as a ministry leader:

~Accountability to God. I desire to live for an audience of one. If I really want to serve Him well then I need to be in constant communication with my Lord. Each day I will seek Him and rest in His word, His truth, His love. What I say, think and do reflects Him and I want to do that well.

~Wisdom. As I have more opportunity to minister in conflict, wait on the Lord’s leading, develop patience, and identify the weaknesses in myself…I am thankful for the wisdom that is coming along with it. I don’t want to be the same 5 years from now, even 5 months from now as I am today.

~Total reliance on God. I deeply fear ministry as a vocation will become rote for me. I never want to lead out of my own earthly desires, my own earthly focus or my own agenda. I pray that I never get ahead of God and that I never rest on my laurels. In humble devotion to Him, I want to remember and instill in others that apart from Him we are nothing. Apart from Him there is no point in leading because only He is worthy.

~Rest. I know myself and I know that I need to build a rhythm of rest into my ministry. I am of no use to Him or others if I wear myself down. I need to continue to be obedient to that and allow myself time for respite within the frenzy. This means even if others don’t understand it. This means even if others don’t need to take that break. This means even if I don’t feel like it at the time. It is my hope that as I grow in the other areas, I will become even more self aware of when and how I need this rest.

I am feeling stirring in my spirit. I have found for myself this usually occurs when God is up to something really big. I trust that as I continue to turn to Him for guidance (by praying daily, listening to His response, delving into His word) He will open and close doors as necessary. I pray that I am obedient to where He leads...even when it's difficult, even when I don't want to, even when I'm not sure why. It is a privilege and honor to be His servant and I am grateful that He would even care to use someone like me to bring others closer to Him.

To God be the Glory.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

When did I get old...

Lookin at ol FB pics
Rememberin 'bout those college cliques
Wonderin who dressed that chick
When did I get old?

Orchesis memories...choregraphin Rhythm Nation
Rememberin Q oil with pure elation
Laughin that we taped the radio station...
When did I get old?

Messin with w/the boys like they were my toy
Singin top of my lungs w/Anita, 'you bring me joy'
Denyin wrong doin'....'that wasn't me boy!!'
When did I get old?

Writin checks at Hardee' debt deep
Checkin down the hall so nobody'd see me creep
Prayin he'd be quiet so Kasie'd stay sleep :D
When did I get old?

Perculatin at the club....doin it up right
Didn't ya'll kno it was Ho Phi Ho nite?
Knowin we looked good...daisy dukes were a sight ;)
When did I get old?

Goin to get a burrito at 11 o'clock
Doin it up right til I put 'em in shock
Ready to fight if his roommate didn't learn how to knock
When did I get old?

Swallowin that minnow for a t-shirt & tha props
Runnin from that party...dang, who called the cops?
Chargin up that credit girl, cuz we just had to shop...
When did I get old?


Now lookin at my babies asleep in the bed
Blessed by a husband that doesn't mess with my head
Knowin more than once I should've easily been dead
I thank God that I got old!

Realizin my worth ain't dependent on the outside
Knowin there is nuthin that i need to hide
Humbling myself....lettin go of all pride
I thank God that I got old!

Taking moments in prayer to thank Him for blessing
Realizin intimacy ain't got nuthin to do w/undressin
In His grace...toward the light...I'm always pressin...
I thank God that I got old!

Regrets I have none...each day is a new
A chance to make right and know I can do
All things with Him cause He renews's true
I thank God that I got old!

To God be the Glory!

Monday, May 11, 2009

My girl Alisa....a call for prayer....

I'm gonna be real and raw in tellin' this please don't be offended cause there isn't any other way to tell the truth.

In early 1992 I met a girl named Alisa. Missy and I were at Fudd's shakin our thangs and causin' ruckus I'm sure...when we ran into these 2 girls. Alisa and Taraina. It was apparent that they weren't from 'round the way. There were not a lot of young, single black females in Waukesha back in 1992. We hung out all night....makin' small talk, they had just moved to the area, blase' blah...and at the end of the night Alisa asked for my number.

It went exactly like this.

'Um, so don't think I'm gay or nuthin'...not that u aren't fine girl...but we have not met a lot of cool girls out here and you are cool so let's hang out or something.'
I laughed so hard and knew we were gonna be fast friends.
' cool with that.'

And so we did. All the time. Alisa's friend Taraina had moved out here for her job and Alisa had just left a nanny job out east and so when Taraina invited her to move with her, she agreed. What's funny is a few years later Taraina got married and moved to IL and Alisa felt stuck here.

For the next 7 years...Alisa was my road dog. My ace boon coon. My sister from another mister. We were together all the time. Most of my rough partying days were done with her at my side. The first time I did a lot of things....both good and bad...were with her at my side. We got into major trouble together, but always had each other's back. Every moment that Jordyn was with her dad...I was out with Alisa causing trouble. Many of my wildest moments occurred with this girl. Most club bouncers knew us by name. We often got into places free if we promised to keep the dancin going (why I never care about being the only one on the dance floor) and very rarely did we pay for a drink. Many a night I couldn't remember the next day.

Our friendship was much more than wild days though.

She was there when I moved out for the first time and was a little afraid to be on my own. She was there for me when I went through an abusive relationship. I was there for her when she got pregnant and gave birth. God mother to her daughter Ayesha. When I had to leave my apartment she opened up her apartment to me and we lived together for 8 months. When I got pregnant with Isaiah, she is the one who comforted me when it felt like others had abandoned me for making another mistake. When I met Marlon she pushed me to follow my heart. When I started going to church and accepted Christ...even though it wasn't her thing, she was happy for me.

Not too long after I got married in 1998...Alisa and her man and Ayesha moved to Pennsylvania. For many years...we kept in close touch by letters and pictures and phone calls. Every few months at least we'd talk...catch up...comfort each other. I had some marriage problems. She felt stuck. I went through severe depression. She had another daughter. I could tell she was using more than recreationally. After a few years...we started talking less often. She moved from Pennsylvania out to Washington by her mom. She didn't have a computer so email wasn't a way for us to communicate...and her phone was often getting shut off so I'd try to call and her number was disconnected. Soon it was once a year or so that I'd hear from her. She'd always ask a lot of questions about my life...but be very vague about hers. I knew something was up. I could feel it in my heart. I even asked her to move back a few times. She would laugh it off saying there was nothing for her here. The last time I heard from her was probably in like 2005 or 2006. Numbers that I had for her where long since not in service. My last letter was returned.

Since joining MySpace and Facebook...I looked for her on here endlessly. Hoping by some chance she now had a computer. No luck. Last fall I finally thought....duh, Ayesha would be old enough to have her own account and started searching for her. I'll never forget the day that I found her on MySpace. I was so excited. She knew who I was right away. Said how could she forget her Godmother. Asked how her Goddaddy and cousins were. Asked how life in WI was. Small talk. No pictures of her mom. I asked her to have her mom call me. Never happened. I asked her about her mom...very little info.

Today I found out the truth.She doesn't know where her mom is. She has been living on the streets and escaped from jail a few months ago. She has a myriad of problems. There is nothing they can do. The girls are living with their grandma.I can't explain the heartache I felt when I read that. I can't explain how my heart sank or why I started to cry so hard. While I think about Alisa's been years since I've had contact with her. But the love of a sister...which we are...doesn't fade with time I guess. The longing to see her, know she is okay, reach out to her.... I asked Ayesha how I can help...she said there's nothing they can do so she guesses there's nothing I can do either.

But I can pray. And I can ask you to pray on their behalf.

Some of you know Alisa...some of you don't. Some of you might think, wow...that's deep, well--you make your bed, now you lie in it.

But I can't do that.

She's my girl. And my heart is breaking. In all of you...I trust you to pray.

So please pray with me....

Pray that Alisa is safe.
Pray that she returns to her family.
Pray that she would desire to get clean and sober and be there for her kids.
Pray that Ayesha and Tatiana are able to have influence of God's love in their life.
Pray that Alisa knows that people love her and that God loves her.

There is power in prayer.

To God be the glory.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Simple Livin...

Emotional turmoil
Disguising and masking
To fit in

Truth hidden
God given
Evil ridden
Life fulfillin
Simple livin

Mental anguish
Pushing and pulling
To make right

Truth hidden
God given
Evil ridden
Life fulfillin
Simple livin

Misguided intention
Moving forth but not knowing
At what cost

Truth hidden
God given
Evil ridden
Life fulfillin
Simple livin

God protects me
Jesus sustains me
Holy Spirit power compels me
To move and breathe and live
To run and dance and sing
To question and ask and see

To be...Me.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Comfort Zone

The other day a friend mentioned something to me that I had not thought of before.

I am in my mission field.

Let me explain.

I get that we are all missionaries and that we each daily have a sphere of influence around us who we can proclaim Christ to. That we all interact with dozens of people who we can reach for God and that we don't have to go overseas to be a missionary. I mean, I get that. Marlon is a local missionary. His mission field is male youth between the ages of 13-20. This is done through mentoring, bible studies, being a chaplain at Norris Adolescent center, and a new ministry venture The Malango Project that God helped him create that will start this fall. His passion for racial reconciliation has even led him to put together an AAU basketball team that is just about a 50/50 split of urban and suburban kids. It's exciting to watch. So I get that you don't have to be in a 3rd world country to have impact.

I am out of my comfort zone.

Many times I feel like a fish out of water because there are few who see what I see or at least from my point of view. Yet other times I feel strong confirmation from God that I am right where He wants me. It's like, sista quit ur cryin and get to work!! I've even prayed if it's time for me to move back to the city...back to a place where I'd be more comfortable. Someone even told me recently that I probably don't belong at Elmbrook because of the way I think and if that's how I feel.That statement has really had me thinking.

This is how I've been feeling...and what I've been marinating on....

I love teaching. I love speaking out God's truth and how He has influenced my life. I'm blessed with opportunities to do that.

I love pushing the envelope. This is not to be confused with pushing buttons. That is not Godly AT ALL to me. But questioning the status quo..well, even Jesus himself did that. I'm blessed (ok, sometimes stressed) but still blessed nonetheless with opportunities to do that.

I love worshipping through music. It's how I best connect with God and I love helping people experience God in a different way. I'm blessed with opportunities to do that.

I love building relationships with young people. From children to 20 somethings. Seeing the shiny face of a 5 year old delighted in learning about God to comforting a hurting young woman who is trying to figure out how to get her life on track. I'm blessed with opportunities to do that.

Africa...comfort zone. Philippines...comfort zone. Mexico....comfort zone. James Place...comfort zone. Inner city...comfort zone. Suburbia...not comfort zone.


Would I have learned to rely so fully on Him if I was submerged in a culture where I was totally comfortable? Would I have discovered that the only way I can be a Godly leader is by dying to Him daily in order to lead? Would I fully believe that I can do nothing in my own strength and that no idea is a good idea until His blessing is upon it, like I do now? Would I have learned that part of what makes a great team is people who are like-minded in their devotion to Christ and respect for one another...not necessarily always thinking alike?

I am out of my comfort zone.

And in that...I am fully relying on God in a way I never have before. I see His goodness and grace and feel the Holy Spirit in me in a way I never have before. Abundant blessing. He continues to amaze and humble me by the way that He loves me.

To God be the Glory!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Thoughts on marriage....

This Friday Marlon and I will be married for 11 years. 11 YEARS! For those of you who have been around since the days when nobody knew if we'd make it.....11 years!! Can I get a what what? So with that huge milestone coming up...and my marriage on my mind...I thought I'd share some thoughts about it.

1. Marriage is much, much harder than anyone ever told me. Spending everyday with someone, allowing them to see you at your worst, letting them into the most intimate parts of your heart. Not easy.

2. If you don't trust the person you are married to, then you'd better do something about that because you will never have peace if you don't.

3. If the person you are married to doesn't trust you, then you'd better do something about that because they will never have peace if you don't.

4. There is nothing better than waking up in his arms.

5. Your spouse will always fail you. They are human. You can't look to them to be your everything because you will be disappointed. Only God can fill that void, heal that hurt and comfort you in that way.

6. There is absolutely no point in arguing about things like clothes that don't make it to the hamper, a toilet seat left up or whose turn it is to let the dog out.

7. Your spouse is always more important than your kids. Period.

8. There may be times that you want to suffocate him with the pillow. You just don't.

9. Your spouse is not a mind reader. If you don't clearly explain what you need, how you are feeling, what your expectations are....don't expect them to know.

10. Your marriage can do a full 180 if you both would just focus on what the other person needs rather than what you aren't getting.

11. Love is not an emotion. There will be days that you don't feel like you are in love. That doesn't mean anything. Don't worry about whether or not you "feel" like you are in love. Do you love him? Does he love you? Then focus on that. Rest in that. Feelings are fleeting anyway.

12. The grass is never greener on the other side. If it's cause it's full of manure.

13. Satan would love to see your marriage fail. Don't let him trick you. Be very aware of spiritual warfare. Temptation. Pride. Anger. Judgement. Jealousy. Don't get tripped up on that stuff. When you feel it start to rise...look to Jesus.

14. Proverbs 31:10-12 "A wife of noble character who can find? She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life.".... I want to be that wife. I want him to know, trust and believe that I am dedicated to our marriage, I am determined to stay in the will of God and I am devoted to him.

15. The more that I respect him as the leader of this home...the more I find him loving me just as I need to be loved. Nothing new. It's God's design. Read Ephesians 5:22-33.

16. Make sure that you pray for your spouse. In the same accord...make sure you have people praying for you as a couple.

Our marriage has been rocky. We are passionate people who do not always see eye to eye. We were so selfish and immature when we met. We didn't realize we we were. When I see how we've we've learned about and from each other...when I see what God has done...

I am married to an amazing man. He is not perfect. But he loves God. He follows fast after Jesus. And he loves me. What more could a girl ask for?

To God be the Glory!

Saturday, December 13, 2008


Papa and Jordyn

The girls. Caitlyn, Amelia, McKenzie and Keyonna. They were born within 3 months of each other. I can't believe they are 4 now!

Izzy and Marcelio.

Elijah and me.

I am the family masher. It takes great arm strength to mash 20lbs of potatoes :D

The Christmas Parade

Sassy Jack and I

The die hard parade fans. Izzy, Nia and Alicia are out every year. :)

Jordyn and Hannah. She loves this kid!

Miss Jordyn waiting for the parade.

Jordyn and Nia. Such cuties!

Just some pics

My handsome Isaiah (#10) running for a play

Elijah is soooo tough on the football field

I love chaperoning field trips. It's so much fun and I'm blessed to have a job that allows me this freedom!

My sister, mom and I at Elmbrook's Women's Christmas event. There's nothing like worship with Stephanie Seefeldt and listening to Jill Briscoe.

My friend April and I