Gal. 6:6 says, “One who is taught the word must share all good things with the one who teaches.” Bill and I have spent our entire married life in some form of ministry.

couples journey and bible

Around the world are selfless clergy couples who run to the side of others in need to give God’s love, so here are three things you can do to LUV your pastor or the clergy couples of your church (or parachurch) staff:

Listen—then take action: Tune in and get your eyes off yourself and ask honest questions to see if you really know what your pastor and his wife are dealing with personally. Some common struggles of clergy couples are economic distress or pressure; creating uninterrupted time together ; keeping a positive attitude in the middle of handling negative situations, or same stressors as anyone else: a strong willed or special needs child, a prodigal teen, health issues, or life stage drama like mid-life crisis. Be one of the people that surround the shepherd of your flock and offer a listening ear and tangible help. Your empathy and words of kindness and affirmation will also go a long way in helping easy this burden.

Underwrite: Be generous. Give funding to the pastor(s) to for the kind of things that keep a marriage healthy. Send gift cards for dates, pay for a weekend away in a nice hotel or loan out your cabin.   Oftenmoney gift Christian conference centers offer free housing to clergy couples, so even a small church can raise money for the gas and a couple meals and partner with the local Christian Camp to give your clergy couple some time alone together. In the church budget should also be funds for an annual marriage conference for the clergy couples to attend. Also, if there are clergy denominational meetings or conferences, add in a little extra to sponsor the spouse to attend too. Ministry minded marriages that have peers and mentors who they can be authentic with will have people to turn to in times of stress or crisis and this will strengthen the ministry marriage.

Volunteer: If you have a strong marriage, offer to help head up the marriage ministry at yourLifewayLeaderSet church, or at least part of it: offer to run a small group for married couples; chair a marriage retreat committee, be the point person for a couples, date night, or write a blog on marriage for the church website or weekly bulletin. If you want to help, but are short on time, use a DVD driven curriculum like our Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti.  If your marriage has survived and overcome a particular challenge, offer to the pastor to meet with other couples who might come to him for the same issue. If your pastor has young children, volunteer to babysit (or arrange the childcare) so they can have a weekly date night. Also offer to be part of a prayer team for the clergy couple or offer to pay for counseling, or the cost of getting them to a ministry minded intensive. (At Love-Wise we have a “Marriage On the Rocks?” resource list of multiple options to rescue and rebuild a relationship).

With a little bit of LUV we can show care for those who care so much for others.

pam bill closePam and Bill Farrel are international speakers, relationship specialists, and authors of 40 books, including The Secret Language of Successful Couples, 10 Best Decisions a Leader Can Make and 10 Best Decisions a Couple Can Make. The Farrels are focused on helping individuals and couples become Love-Wise. (www.love-wise.com)

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Maureen Pratt Author PicHello! Maureen Pratt here with my monthly CAN blog. This time, some thoughts on writing the devotional.

The devotional is intensely personal, but can also provide tremendous support for many. I've experienced this first-hand. When I was first diagnosed with lupus, I suffered from a number of life-threatening symptoms. None, however, was as confounding as the non-life-threatening phenomenon of lupus brain fog, which is much like looking at the world through a pea-soup fog on a chilly day. It isn't permanent, much like those clouds of fog, and it doesn't cause changes in the brain, per se. But it does make memories slippery at times, and frustration quick to rise.

Faced with a horrible diagnosis, I turned to prayer, Scripture, and reflective meditation on what I had read and prayed about. Only, I would forget what I had read and prayed about. Frequently. I finally bought a spiral-bound notebook and started writing down what I read and prayed about. A year later, I looked back at the now-full notebook and wondered, "Could someone else benefit from what's in here?" Then, I prayed. And then, I called my agent. A few years later, my book "Peace in the Storm: Meditations on Chronic Pain & Illness" was published and has been reaching readers like myself, patients of chronic pain & illness, ever since. Such a blessing!

Writing the devotional is a highly personal pursuit, fueled by insight and inspiration born from experience. Not all experience needs to be that of the writer, but ideally each devotion should be linked to a "ripped from real life" instance in someone's life. I liken writing a devotional to being a "spiritual reporter," combining life's events with the place God takes within it all.

As they are extensions of our faith, devotionals spring from Scriptural reflections. Reading Scripture regularly and listening to the passages resonate gives the right context for the meditations you craft for each topic. I also spent much time in an empty church, sitting quietly, reading passages, then sitting quietly again. The waters of the Word can refresh us whenever we partake of them, but they truly nourish us when we let them soak into us completely.

Devotional structure will be unique to each project, but ideally each project does have a structure, an arc, a way in which it builds and carries the reader through to greater insight, comfort, or encouragement. At the same time, devotionals are often read in pieces, and not linearly, so the author needs to keep this in mind (avoid referring to a previous devotion, for example).

Writing "Peace in the Storm…" was exhausting for me, but what motivated me to keep going was the thought of my audience. Each day, I prayed for and thought of someone who would read what I was writing, someone who was suffering with or from the particular problem, or asking the particular question, that I addressed in the devotion I wrote that day. Keeping the reader close to mind and heart enables the words to flow as from a friend to a friend, a very effective and empathetic voice.

Blessings to you!

Maureen

www.maureenpratt.com

http://blog.beliefnet.com/gooddaysbaddays/

 

 

 

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Author, Janet Perez Eckles

Author, Janet Perez Eckles

Hey you sophisticated speakers out there. Have you ever found a surprise during a speaking engagement?

I did. And I thought I’d share it with you.

“Wow…that was a long day,” hubby said when I told him how my Saturday was.

“No, it wasn’t long,” I said. “It was lovely.”

 

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Author, Janet Perez Eckles

Author, Janet Perez Eckles

A knock at my hotel room startled me.

“Room service,” a voice said. I hurried to let her in. “Only need fresh towels,” I said. “I’ll be fine.”

She brought them in and I smiled at her. “Thank you. What’s your name?”

“Rachel.”

We chatted about mundane stuff. But when I told her why I had visited her city, she was open to hear about my ministry.

I reached for my suitcase. “Got something for you,” I said. I put a CD in her hands.

“This is for me?” she asked, her voice gasping a bit.

“Sure it is,” I said. “Hope you like it and it inspires you.”

Two days passed, and I delivered a message to 500 women on three different occasions during the weekend. On the last day, as I entered my room, a voice got closer. “This is Rachel. I want to tell you that I heard your CD. It was so wonderful. And I gave it to my friend who really needed to be encouraged. She loved it too. Thank you.”

Her words filled with emotion made my heart leap with gratitude. I had traveled to address an audience, but the Lord had me minister to her. What a sweet thing. Every opportunity, every moment, every person we meet on the way is planted by the Lord.

I had developed a sort of crazy habit. Before I leave hotel rooms, I take the already used soap, place it in a plastic bag and bring it home. I place it on my soap dish in my bathroom. Each time I use it, I say a prayer for the person I met who touched my heart.

This time it’s Rachel, the housekeeping lady who changed my view of why the Lord sends us speakers to faraway places. It’s not always for the crowd, but for the person who knocks at our heart unexpectedly, deliberately and at the perfect time.

Heavenly Father, keep me humble, keep me open to the people You put before me. Keep me mindful of Your lead and Your prompting to reach those who brush our lives even for a moment.

Janet

Simply Salsa by JAnet Eckles

 

Cheering you on to experience life, harvest its lessons and share their outcome.

www.janetperezeckles.com

Author #1 bestselling book, Simply Salsa: Dancing Without Fear at God’s Fiesta

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DonnBusPhotos-007a2x3Hello. I'm Donn Taylor, here again with comments on writing poetry. But this month, in honor of Christmas, I'm taking a break from describing the elements that make good poetry. Instead, I'm inviting you to join in celebrating the birth of our Lord with two of my poems (one negative, one positive) that are quite different from the usual Christmas poems. See what you think and leave a comment if you choose.

 

 

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