Yes, Please, and Thank You

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Yes, Please, and Thank You

by Ashley Randleman
 

Earlier this year, my 3-year old daughter attempted to dress herself. Her growing independence had just informed me she could do it all by herself. I sat and watched as she shoved her legs through the wrong openings of her underwear, struggled to get her legs into her pants, and repeatedly missed the opening of her shirt for her head. Frustrated, she finally found the opening and yanked her shirt down over her head. She punched her fists through the sleeves of her now backwards shirt. She broke down in tears and still attempted to pull her socks up over her heels — to no avail.

“I didn’t want your help!” she cried in angry tears as I came to the rescue. I graciously explained that even though she didn’t want my help, she needed it. I expertly pulled her socks up over her heels, switched around her backwards shirt, took off her pants to fix the placement of her legs in her underwear, and pulled her pants back on correctly.

Although most of us have grown past the difficulties of getting dressed in the morning, our hearts aren’t too far off from this picture.

In life’s difficulties and struggles we often find ourselves frustrated when we feel in over our heads. The very help we need, we either do not ask for or reject when it presents itself.

I have this default setting of, “If you say I can’t, I’ll prove to you I can.” It can be attractive when I’m attempting something noble or inspiring, but is not so attractive when it leaves me in frustrated tears because I’m overwhelmed and wondering where all of the help has gone.

Before we even had our first service, the Lord brought Miss Judy (who must have seen this trait in me) into my life. Having served in full-time ministry for 45 years, she cautioned, “You need to not only train your people how to become a part of the church as workers, but also train them how to take care of you, personally.” She went on to say that if I continually denied the help that the people in our church would offer me, they would eventually stop offering.

I grabbed ahold of that piece of wisdom that day and have since learned the power of: “Yes, Please, and Thank You!” I pray that you will grab ahold of it as well. The next time someone offers to help, I challenge you to:

Say, “Yes!” — eagerly, enthusiastically, and confidently. Resist the urge to refuse. I’ve noticed that as I continue to say, “Yes,” I continue to be offered help.

Say, “Please!” — politely, humbly, and boldly. James 4:2 says, “...You do not have because you do not ask God.” Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a sign of strength. Put your pride aside, and carve out opportunities for your church family to assist, support, and help you! If your hands are full and no one is jumping up to offer assistance, chances are you haven’t asked. Instead of being frustrated, upset, or angry...start asking!

Say, “Thank you!” — always and at all times. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Always say thank you! It puts your heart in a posture of gratitude and paves the way for future opportunities to be offered help.

Since that particular meltdown moment with my daughter, I’ve instituted the saying of, “Yes, Please, and Thank You!” when it comes to this matter. When we are offered help, we accept. When we need help, we ask. When we have help, we thank.

Add “Yes, Please and Thank You” to your vocabulary and watch the Lord bring you the help you want and need.


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Ashley Randleman is a pastor’s wife of ten years and a mother of four (Nathan, Josiah, Lydia, and Titus). She and her husband, Jeremiah, planted River Church in February 2014. Ashley has a heart for the mothers and women in her life and church. She pours into them on a weekly basis from the comfort of her living room carpet over strong coffee and meaningful conversation.

Into the Wilderness

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Into The Wilderness

By Rachel Bowman
 

I am not an outside girl. Air conditioning and cleanliness are my jam. Dirt, terrain, and sweat – not so much. So when God called me into the wilderness my gut sank.

I looked around, hoping He was looking at someone else. I prayed, “Surely I am not your girl for this God – surely.” Nope. His eyes locked with mine and He called me over to Him and whispered, "I made you for this."

My whole body filled up with joy, hope, and downright fear. This is not what I had planned.

The wilderness is isolated, expansive, and you never know what will pop out from behind a tree. It seems dark and dangerous because it is unknown territory. Each step could lead to something glorious or your greatest fear.

Wilderness also makes room for maturity, trust, and faith God is guiding you. My verse of the year reads:

"For I am about to do something new.
   See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?
I will make a pathway through the wilderness.
   I will create rivers in the dry wasteland."

–Isaiah 43:19

So, as I step into the wilderness, I must remember God cares more about my character than my comfort. He is delivering us from the lonely expansiveness of it all, step-by-step. It's during the sweat, the terrain, the branches to the face, the allergies, the dirt, the hot sun, thirst, and the wanting desperately to give up that God whispers, "I made you for this," again and again.

He is doing a new thing, making new ways, new roads, and new pathways for me and the people behind me. He is asking me to trust Him and allow Him to provide and protect in a place I did not think was my home – a place I feel out of sorts in, but a place I know is shedding me of myself.

The wilderness is a place with glorious sunlight beating down through the trees to guide me, comfort me, and lead me to who He created me to be: an outside girl, a warrior. He is teaching me to be a girl who treads on mountains and over rivers and keeps going to claim new territory and new deserts because of who God is in me.

Today, I lace up my hiking boots and walk on.

If you are in what seems like the wilderness today – the wild forest of anxiety, the desert of depression, the rough waters of loneliness, the rocky road of a new job or relationship or forgiveness – will you lace up your boots with me?

Will you trust the God alongside me to do something new in you? Something big? Something that will lead to breakthrough? Pray a big, bold prayer today, sister. Let's walk into the wilderness together today and see what kind of glory He has in store around the next bend.


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Rachel Bowman is a mom to four in four years, pastor's wife, church planter, and writer of words. She enjoys a good cup of coffee, a Lego free floor, and encouraging women where they are.  Her and her husband, Paul, are launching Anchor Church in April 2017. 

She graduated from Eastern University and is working on becoming a credentialed minister.  Come for a visit at waitingforbedtime.com after you have survived your kids’ bedtime routine. Honesty and sweatpants required.

Family as a Verb

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Family as a Verb

by Ashley Randleman
 

“I think we should buy a camper,” my husband Jeremiah told me after we spent a weekend with my parents. We were in the second week of a 5-week family series at River Church and creating intentional family time was very much on our radar.

Church planters know that God has ultimate control, but they also know God has given them the task of stewarding a congregation. The survival of the church community they have begun weighs heavily on them. This pressure often makes time management a struggle. In this mix, the family can quickly feel the strain.

I am so grateful for the words my husband spoke. “I think we should buy a camper,” was a statement that became an act of prioritizing the family.

This summer, Jeremiah rearranged his office hours so he was essentially working Saturday through Wednesday — having Thursday and Friday off. He worked hard to have his sermon ready to preach and his notes handed in by 11:35am on Wednesday morning — allowing us to “check out” as a family on Wednesday afternoon for a couple of days.

I worked hard to have the camper stocked, packed, and ready to go by the time he returned home from the office. It was no small task, but as the summer wore on, we settled into a nice rhythm of putting our house in order and locking it up tight so we could all squeeze in tight and do this thing I’d like to call “familying”.

I believe that the word family should be revised in the dictionary to be a verb. When done well, it becomes so much more than “a group consisting of parents and children living together in a household.”

When done right, Jesus is at the center and His love never fails. Familying is taking ownership of the family that the Lord entrusted you with and stewarding it well for His Kingdom and Glory. It’s being a family — on purpose, and for a purpose.

This past June thru October has been the most adventurous, intentional, and relaxing summers of my life in my marriage and mothering. We skipped naps so we could skip rocks. We climbed trees and then jumped out of them. We ate one too many s’mores and still had some more. Our children giggled around the fire as we told them our own childhood stories. We got sand in all of the wrong places and got dirt under our fingernails. My husband took up fishing. I began running again.

My oldest caught the biggest bullfrog we had ever seen. Our second caught his first fish. My daughter earned her nickname of “Barefoot Wonder” as I decided to raise the white flag in any attempt of keeping her feet sandaled. The baby became a toddler and I smiled when he signed and said, “Outside,” for the first time. The summer of 2017 will be one for the books as my children grew wings and flew.

We recently winterized the camper and towed it away to store in preparations for Iowa’s soon-approaching winter months. It was bittersweet as we closed the door (literally) on something that has brought our family together in ways I didn’t anticipate or expect. Although the camper will be unoccupied for the next six months, spring will be arriving soon. Until then, we will be busy familying.

Family on, my friends.


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Ashley Randleman is a pastor’s wife of ten years and a mother of four (Nathan, Josiah, Lydia, and Titus). She and her husband, Jeremiah, planted River Church in February 2014. Ashley has a heart for the mothers and women in her life and church. She pours into them on a weekly basis from the comfort of her living room carpet over strong coffee and meaningful conversation.

A Weak Sermon

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A Weak Sermon

by Rebecca Burtram
 

I wanted to write an awesome sermon. It was Mother's Day, and it was the final message in a series on a book that I wrote.

Instead, I struggled all the way through it. I was so disappointed because it felt as though all the time, energy, and emotion I had invested in writing the book had culminated in a last-minute sermon presented by an overworked, exhausted, worst version of me.

I could feel myself bombing. I transitioned awkwardly. I cried and told stories I didn't plan to tell. I was a mess. It was not at all the presentation of the message that I would have done if I'd had the time and energy needed to prepare. I have done so much better. I wanted to do so much better.

Then I realized, it couldn't have gone any other way. 

Church planting ladies might understand multitasking better than anyone else. I didn't just have to write a sermon. I had to run a household, run a church, and keep up with my full-time job teaching. On top of all that, I spent the week leading up to the sermon as a single mom since Jon had to go on a last-minute trip to New York to repair some recent storm damage to our rental property.

Here is how my week of sermon prep went:

Monday- I arrived home around 8:30 PM from the Potomac Ministry Network Council (at which point had already missed Kaleb's soccer practice). I promptly realized Annalyn had a field trip we needed to pack extra supplies for, and Ella needed me to arrange rides for her to honor choir because Jon wouldn't be around to take her in the mornings. I packed supplies, arranged rides, and got the kids in bed. Then, I read the chapter I was preaching from in Our Broken Hallelujahs.

Tuesday- I taught all day, took Ella to ballet and Annalyn to tap, fed everyone dinner at 7:30, helped with homework, cleaned the house, edited a video for life group, ran a background check, sent follow-up emails to guests, and went to bed.

Wednesday- I taught all day, led a church staff meeting, took Annalyn to soccer, led our life group, and went to bed.

Thursday- I taught all day, went to Ella's honor choir concert, fed everyone dinner, helped with homework, worked on editing a video for the sermon and next week's life group, praised God because Jon returned, and went to bed.

Friday- I taught all day, attempted to get some hubby time by going on a dinner date, and fell asleep as soon as we got home.

Saturday- I woke up early to work on the sermon, thanked God for the soccer games being rained out, helped the kids clean the house, worked on my sermon, went to the movies with my family, worked on the sermon, made sweet tea for Mother's Day tea, worked on the sermon, and stayed up late... 

Sunday- I woke up early to work on the sermon...

I walked into our school to set up for service on Sunday morning feeling completely drained and unprepared. I knew that if God was going to use that message, it would be a true example of God using my weakness for His strength to be made known.

I was broken, weak, and tired. My sermon was about God's ability to use our broken hallelujahs. I hadn't planned to be the living example of the point that day. Yet, there I was living it in front of everyone. I was the proof that our broken pieces are beautiful when offered to God for his use.

My main text was 2 Corinthians 12:6-10 (NIV):

Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

I didn't feel strong. I felt empty, spent, and ineffective.

Then, a first-time guest came up and said, "That was the message I needed today. That is exactly what I needed to hear for where I am in life at this moment."

I may have felt that I bombed on that Sunday, but I know God didn't.


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Jonathan and Rebecca Burtram planted Redemption Church Charlottesville on Easter of 2016. Rebecca is the author of Our Broken Hallelujahs and blogs about grace and imperfection at rebeccaburtram.com. She is passionate about helping others know that they are not alone in their struggles or their triumphs. If you have a church planting story to share with other CMN women, contact her at rebecca@redemptioncc.com

Set the Traps

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Set the Traps

By Ashley Randleman

My five-year-old named him Garmadon. That was a few days after I discovered his droppings all over my daughter’s bed and noticed nibbled-on snacks throughout the cupboards. There was a mouse in the house- or, in this case, our camper!

Sharing the 21’ space with a rodent wasn't on the list of things I planned for our family vacation.

Before we moved to plant our church, we found ourselves (as many of you have) in a season of transition. We moved in with my father-in-law for five months and put all but our clothes, shoes, and toiletries into storage. And by “storage,” I mean stacking boxes and totes in the garage and shed on his acreage.

When it came time to move to Clinton, much didn’t make the move as mice had found their way into nearly everything. Among some of the damage was our couch and childhood books that were completely destroyed.

Garmadon was bringing back unpleasant memories. I wasn’t going to allow this rodent to destroy our camper and vacation.

I drove to the nearest Walmart, found aisle 23, and grabbed a package of mouse traps. I purchased the kind with the metal bar that you probably grew up with as well. They’re cheap and efficient and come with an unpackaged adrenaline-rush as it’s a gamble if your fingers will remain intact while setting the trap.

“Choosy moms choose JIF.” Garmadon chose it as well and much to my dismay escaped the trap that went off in the night. He made the rounds and licked off all of the peanut butter from the four traps I had set out for him instead.

He was devious and sneaky, and after a couple of days and a few more failed attempts of catching him, I returned to Walmart for reinforcements. I wasn’t playing games anymore. This was war! I was so determined on catching that stupid mouse that I purchased every single type of trap Walmart had to offer.

I diligently set and checked the traps — morning, noon, and night. My husband lovingly teased me and questioned my trap-setting capabilities. I even prayed using the Name of Jesus that I would catch him! I wanted him gone so badly.

Meanwhile, Garmadon was becoming very well fed after indulging in our peanut butter pretzels, bread, bagels, graham crackers, marshmallows, Hershey’s chocolate, and sweet potatoes. He also helped himself to the bait that the traps were set with. He was ruthless.

Eight days and ten traps later, I screamed when I found him inside a drawer, stuck to a sticky trap. The war was finally over, and I had won.

In our roles as wives, mothers, and church leaders, we need to be unrelenting about setting the traps in our hearts to catch the mice nibbling holes in our homes. We need to declare war and be diligent to exterminate “the sin that so easily entangles” using the word of God.

When pride creeps in, keep yourself in check.

Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Romans 12:3 (NLT)

When selfishness budges to the front of the line, escort it to the back.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Philippians 2:3 (NLT)

When tempted to compare, remind yourself that God gave “each according to his ability”. Be found faithful with yours.

To those who use well what they are given, even more will be given, and they will have an abundance. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. Matthew 25:29 (NLT)

When jealousy gets the better of you, train yourself to rejoice with those who rejoice.

Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Romans 12:15 (NLT)

When greed salivates, thank the Lord for what you already have.

Don’t love money; be satisfied with what you have. For God has said,“I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5 (NLT)

David said it best in Psalm 139:23,24:

“Search me, God, and know my heart;

test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,

and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Let’s set the traps in our hearts, check them daily, and capture those Garmadons!


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Ashley Randleman is a pastor’s wife of ten years and a mother of four (Nathan, Josiah, Lydia, and Titus). She and her husband, Jeremiah, planted River Church in February 2014. Ashley has a heart for the mothers and women in her life and church. She pours into them on a weekly basis from the comfort of her living room carpet over strong coffee and meaningful conversation.

Lost Soles

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Lost Soles

by Rebecca Burtram
 

In the past month or so, the church planting life has been exciting and rewarding. I have seen God at work and some of my own sweat paying off. As I was reveling in this, I was thinking through the various seasons in church planting. Some seasons aren't exactly as energizing or fruitful as we would like.

With that in mind, I decided it would be good to share what I wrote on my own blog this past winter in order to encourage others to remain faithful because there will be a season of fruitfulness.


“I once was lost, but now I’m found”-Amazing Grace

Recently, I have been lost.

I have been clinging to my faith and trying to find my sanity. I have been burnt out and weary. Judge if you like, but for every one person looking down on this feeling, there are three to five thinking, “me too,” or, “I’ve been there.”

I am doing things I love, but I am doing too many of them. I have become trapped and lost in the world of obligations, and the joy has become stress. Of course, I have joyful moments, but the default setting lately has been empty, tired, and sad.

Logically, I know why. I am overextended, a female with hormones, and it is winter (give me some vitamin D please). Because I have been able to identify the factors, I have felt it is okay to let it slide for a little longer.

Here is when I realized I let this go too far:

  • At Christmas, my sister-in-law said, “I feel like I always have to fail somewhere,” and I wanted to curl up on the floor and cry because someone else finally said the exact thing that weighs so heavily on me every day.
     
  • Staying in bed with a movie was starting to sound better than being with people…. always…. but I couldn’t because every break means something else falls through the cracks.
     
  • I read my “About the Author” section while checking the interior proof for my upcoming book, Our Broken Hallelujahs, and I realized I wasn’t the same person who wrote that section over six months ago. It says, “Rebecca is a lover of God, a wife, a mother to three, an avid runner, a chai tea drinker, and a recovering perfectionist. She has found great joy in owning her flaws and learning to rely on God and his great grace.”

I know this might not make sense to a lot of people, but the part that really got me was “avid runner.” Something I have identified as a part of who I am since elementary school was no longer true about me.

I know we are more than what we do, but runners reading this will understand that there is something about it that is part of who we are. It is our balancing mechanism. It is our restorer of sanity. It is our daily challenge and victory. It is one foot in front of the other for another day.

Yes, I am a little crazy. I have no problem admitting it. The part about “finding great joy in owning her flaws and learning to rely on God and his great grace” is still true.

You haven’t heard from me here since mid-December. I haven’t run since Thanksgiving. I let my desire to do everything right take over, and I have continually let something I love, something that is important for my emotional and physical health, sit on the back burner in order to get everything done.

A Thursday night conversation with some friends encouraged me to embrace the “Holy C.” They were saying it is okay to give only what you are capable of giving at the moment. If all you have to give is a C, it is Holy.

With that in mind, I did my Friday (and started today) differently. I played basketball with my son as soon as I got out of the car after work. I didn’t even bring my laptop into the house. I let my daughters watch way too much TV while I took a nap next to them. The house was not cleaned or even touched up. My husband got the kiddos hot and ready pizza on his way home, and we went out to dinner on a gift card from friends.

This morning. I woke up and chose to let the tasks of the day wait. I went for a very slow 3-mile run, and I wrote this post. I will do my daily devotions after I hit “publish.” Then I will set aside two hours for cleaning and bills. I will stop when the time runs out whether the laundry is folded or not. I will spend this day with my family, and I will hang out with friends tonight.

I am finding my soles and my soul.

God didn’t call me to minister to others and lose myself in the process. He has called me to find myself in Him. He is the priority, and he has commanded (yes, literally commanded) me to rest and to find my peace in him. I don’t need to do more. I need to follow him and remember that he can do miraculous things. Even if my efforts result in a human C, he can make it holy.

If you need permission to start doing that thing you loved again in order to care for your soul, for what it is worth, you have mine.


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Jonathan and Rebecca Burtram planted Redemption Church Charlottesville on Easter of 2016. Rebecca is the author of Our Broken Hallelujahs and blogs about grace and imperfection at rebeccaburtram.com. She is passionate about helping others know that they are not alone in their struggles or their triumphs. If you have a church planting story to share with other CMN women, contact her at rebecca@redemptioncc.com