Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Did My Best

Today was a significant day, not just for me, but in the life of our church.  If you go to church with me, or read my ministry blog, you may know that I have served for the last two years on a Constitution and Bylaws Team at my church.  If you did not know that, well, the long and short of it is that I was elected in August of 2008 to serve on this team with three godly men of the church.  We were to review our existing governing documents--our Constitution and Bylaws--and suggest changes that needed to be made.  Churches have governing documents, just like corporations and other non-profit organizations.  The Constitution is a basic document that tells what the organization is called, what its purpose is, who its officers are, and how often it will meet.  The Bylaws tells how that organization will accomplish its purpose.  It's really very simple.  For our team, we determined that we would have a set of documents that were based on God's Word, the Bible.  Sounds easy enough, right?

Not really.  Churches, just like any other organization, are prone to conflict.  People are people, no matter what they believe in.  Christians should not have self-interests, but the sad fact of the matter is that we too often do.  I should not be materialistic, but I am sometimes.  I should not say curse words, but sometimes I do.  I take responsibility for my bad behavior, turn from it, and try to do better.  My dad has always told my brother and I to do our best.  You can never be ashamed if you do your very best.

So, I did my best during my tenure on the Bylaws Team.  We determined to have Bible study together.  We met weekly for two years.  Sometimes we met more often than that.  We always prayed.  We kept going.  It was not always easy.  For about six months, I didn't want to go.  Think about that:  For six months, I really didn't want to be there. But, I went anyway. I had been elected by my church, and I had committed to serve my church.  So, I went.  And I did my best. 

Forty days ago, the church was asked to review the documents we had drafted:  A new Constitution and Bylaws.  These documents proposed a new style of church governance; an elder led model.  We based our recommendation on Bible study.  Today, the church was asked to make a decision on our proposed documents.  We did not want a divided church, so we asked that it be a super-majority decision:  2/3 of the members would need to affirm the new documents. The church had been asked to fast and pray for the forty days leading up to the vote.

The closer it got to the vote, the more anxious that I became.  I know, I know.  We are not given a spirit of fear, you say.  But guess what?  I have feet of clay.  (Hmm.  I kind of have a little rap going there.)  I may seem audacious, but I do not like to see my brothers and sisters in the church behave badly.  It makes me ill.  Really ill.  So, this morning before church, I was ill.  And I was ill during the meeting.  My stomach didn't really settle until after the vote.  In all seriousness, I packed two plastic grocery bags in my purse because I did not want to soil the church carpet with my nervous stomach contents.  (I hope that's not too graphic for you.)

I'm ashamed of my frail self.  I don't like that I was so torqued up today.  And for those of you who go to church with me:  I'm so sorry that I worried you.  I had so many people hugging me, comforting me, rubbing my back.  Again, I'm sorry I worried you.  I'm writing tonight to reassure you.  I'm ok.

If you've hung in this long, I'll go ahead and finish my story.  We had the vote, and the new Constitution and Bylaws we proposed did not pass.  A lot of folks were stunned.  A small group whooped and hollered.  There were quite a few people who sought to comfort me.  I received calls, texts, and emails today from you.  Thank you to all of you who wanted to console me and to love on me.  I want you all to know that I am fine.  I love my church.  I did my best for you.  Mostly, I did my best for God.  Our church still belongs to Jesus.  That hasn't changed.  God did not abdicate His Throne today.  He wasn't surprised.  I was a little--ok, a lot.  But, God is good.  Are we?  No.  But that's ok.  God still loves us. 

Keep praying.  Keep studying God's Word.  No matter what our Constitution and Bylaws say, our church belongs to Jesus.  We are His Bride.  Love one another.  Forgive one another.  And when you do these things, do them to the best of your ability.  Don't make a half-hearted effort. 

I did my best.  The results were not my responsibility.  That was up to God.  Again, I thank you for your support and encouragement--you know who you are.

Many blessings,


Friday, October 29, 2010


Man, am I tired!  It's been a whirlwind of a week.  The last two days I've substitute taught in a local elementary school.  Yesterday, I was a Kindergarten teacher, and today I was a first grade teacher.  I admit it was a secret thrill to be standing before eager learners and teaching them how to write letters and to do addition using a ten frame.  I enjoyed reading stories to the kids in silly voices, and I liked hearing them giggle when I did.  It was fun, but it was a lot of work!

I admire the folks who are educators.  I especially appreciate the educators who work with children who need a little extra help--whether that means in reading, or with sitting still, with paying attention, or with everything.  Thank God for teachers.  Thank God for the teachers who were patient with me as I attempted to make my way in the hallways of a school I had never entered before yesterday, and with children I did not know.  Thank God for little children who like to help, and told me where things were and which direction to go.

And you know what else?  Thank God.

Many blessings,


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

In Memoriam...

Today we celebrated the life of Pam Leyerle.  Pam was the wife of Wally Leyerle, our Associate Pastor of Education.  Pam was a sweet friend, and a lovely women whose gentle spirit was a model of the Proverbs 31 woman.  I was blessed to know Pam, and deeply saddened by the news of her sudden death on the evening of Sunday, October 24.

There is an expression that says that when we meet someone, we take a part of that person with us.  It is unfortunate that in Pam's death, I fully realized her effect on my life.  I believe the greatest lesson she taught me, I did not comprehend until after she was gone:  Encourage those who encourage you.  Pam was a gentle soul who delighted in encouraging others.  She was not at all insincere; she genuinely wanted to know how you were doing.  Occasionally, she would send me an email with some advice or wisdom and would say, "The Lord laid you on my heart today.  I thought you might like to have this."  I'm thankful that I've saved many of them.  I always thanked her, but I wish I had done the same for her.  I can't help but wonder, if the situation were reversed, if she would have said of me, "Jennifer encouraged me." 

I will miss Pam.  Because she was always steadfast in her support of so many of us at church, it does not seem real to me that she is gone.  The ladies at church all seemed to feel the same way that I do.  I hope that her legacy of encouragement and sweetness of spirit will live on in me.  I want to be a woman that others call kind when I am at the end of my days. 

Well, at the very least, I hope that I encourage others.  Maybe it would be a stretch to call me sweet....

Many blessings, and may God bless the Leyerle family,


P.S.  I have my first substitute teaching job tomorrow.  I teach a Kindergarten class. I'm very excited!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Busy day...

Lily had a tough day today.  She had two crowns placed this morning.  We have a wonderful dentist, Dr. Kevin Seidler, who takes great care of her.  Her love of sweets led to a couple of bad cavities.  Poor baby, she has horrible anxiety about going to the doctor and dentist.  She was born with a type of urinary reflux that required lots of invasive and unpleasant tests and medicines, so she is no fan of the medical profession in general. Nevertheless, we have great doctors who are very patient and understanding.  We also have a great, big God who gives her strength.  It also helped that Dr. Seidler prescribed little medication to help with her anxiety. : )

Jesse and I stayed home while Lily and Brian went to the dentist.  He woke up at 6:30 this morning and vomited.  I took him to the doctor, where we discovered that he has strep throat.  He's faring pretty well, though.  I made him chocolate pudding earlier, and he's enjoying an orange popsicle while I write.  Amoxicillin works wonders.

Dad had a tough day, too.  He had been worried about Lily's appointment all week.  He told me that he watched her carefully the entire visit.  I know he was emotionally spent when he got back from the appointment.  He was very proud of her.  I think he deserves a nap, don't you?

And what have I been doing while Brian and Lily sleep, and Jesse convalesces on the couch?  I'll show you:

I've been addressing invitations for Emily's milk-and-cookies-pajama-party-baby shower!  I also watched a wonderful period drama on Netflix called The Young Victoria.  I love British period films.  Later, I'm going to cook a big pot of beef stew to take up to the church for Third Thursday.  And tomorrow, I go to substitute teacher orientation!  After that, hopefully, I'll begin substitute teaching!

Many blessings,


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Perspective of Maps and of Lives

After the Rangers' win over the Yankees last night (Way to go, Rangers!!), Brian and I had a discussion of how we'll remember the year 2010.  We talked about the challenges we've faced this year and the milestones that were hit thus far.  It's been a tough year, to be honest.  Though Brian was just laid off on Oct. 8th, we have been living under the threat of lay-off for about 11 months now.  And not a 'maybe the company will close today' once a month, or after a few months of lay-offs.  No, an every-single-day concern for months.  Brian would call on Friday and let me know if payroll had come through.  He'd relax on the weekends and be miserable Sunday nights, knowing he had to endure the stress of the work environment.  We talked about the lay-offs, the migraines, the repossession of company property, all of it; what had made this year an extraordinary one for our family.

However, this morning, I was thinking of perspective.  I was thinking of how I learned at some point in my education that maps were drawn from the perspective of the cartographer and the country in which he was from.  I remember being shocked out of my own limited worldview to learn that other countries' maps are drawn with their country as the central landform on the map.  I don't want to be the center of my own worldview.  I don't want my limited perspective on life and my experience of it to be central to how I view things around me. 

What got me to thinking of all this was the realization that others around us--very near to us, in fact--are experiencing their own extraordinary 2010.  Close friends have experienced birth, graduation, marriage, and death.  We have shared our experiences this year with others, and have been shocked to hear the challenges that our friends are going through.  To be fair, they have been equally shocked to hear that we were having a tough time.  I've learned from others that have experienced the failure of companies how difficult it is.  I've learned that we aren't the only ones who have been in this situation. Brian said yesterday that we haven't lost anything that is really meaningful.  He's right.  We still have each other.  We still have bright, healthy children.  We have a roof over our heads and food on the table.  We have a wonderful group of supportive friends and family.  God is not done with us yet.  I want to have His perspective.  I want to view the events of 2010 from a godly perspective:  How did our challenges move us forward?  How did the events of our lives grow us closer to others?  How did God use 2010 for His glory? And not just in our lives, but in the lives of others.  I get a lot of comfort in hearing the testimonies of others.  I see how God has brought people through things for His purpose.

At the end of my days, if the map of my life were drawn, I would want the Lord drawn at the center of my life.  I would want to see all the events in my life drawn around Him, pointing directly to Him.

Many blessings,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Battling Discouragement

I knew that Brian would be struggling with discouragement during his job search, even before I saw signs of it.  It is common for those who are experiencing some type of challenge to struggle with discouragement, so I determined to stay focused on ways to keep Brian encouraged.  The first inkling of discouragement showed up Monday morning, just as he woke up:  "Well, today is the first day in over 20 years that I have not earned a wage."  Uh-oh.  I knew I'd better start praying, and that I'd better stay focused on God's Word.

Monday and Tuesday were not so bad, and Brian worked diligently on job searching.  He's very organized and thorough, so I knew that he would have a plan for networking and making contacts within the construction industry.  His recruiter already had an interview set up for Wednesday, and we found out today that it went very well.  Somehow, in the midst of all of this activity, though, Tuesday night he was hit with a terrible wave of discouragement. I could tell you why, but I would rather tell you how we dealt with it, because this is more useful

When dealing with discouragement, your most powerful weapon is the Sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), the Word of God.  Our greatest challenge to overcome is our own self-talk.  In order to battle the negative things that we are tempted to tell ourselves, we must stay rooted in what God's Word really says.  For example, when we are tempted to think that the future is hopeless, God's Word says in Jeremiah 29:11 that God's has plans to give you a hope and a future.  If we tell ourselves negative things, we will believe negative things--both about ourselves and about God.  I encouraged Brian to read the Psalms, and to focus on the positive aspects of grace, forgiveness, and victory that are found throughout the New Testament.  Hebrews 11 is about the people of God who, in faith, believed God, and saw amazing things happen in their lifetime. 

Another way to battle discouragement is to have fellowship with other godly people.  Be choosy about who you spend time with and what you participate in. Brian's discouragement stemmed from an experience in a negative setting.  How we spend our time, and who we spend our time with, is crucial.  To that end, Brian is talking with contacts on the phone, but is spending time in fellowship with other godly men in his industry.  He has made it a point to encourage other believers who are out of work, as well.

Spend time in the sunshine!  Go outside and enjoy the beauty around you.  If the weather is not fine, find an activity that uplifts you, like an art museum or a worship service.  For me, sewing is something that I love.  I also like to draw and to garden.  I have places that I go to in my area where I will be inspired by beauty.  My favorite garden store always perks me up, even if I don't buy a thing.

Bless others.  Be a blessing, and be open to receive a blessing.  Don't hold back when it comes to encouraging others. When we feel down, it is tempting to focus on ourselves.  This is dangerous to us, both spiritually and in our fellowship with others.  If we focus on our difficulties, we run the risk of alienating ourselves from others.

Many blessings,


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

From Everlasting to Everlasting

I've been memorizing Psalm 103.  I've gotten up to verse 12, and I am enjoying learning this particular passage of Psalms.  Psalm 103 is a hymn to God's love and compassion.  I have often reminded myself of the first 2 verses of this Psalm, specifically because it says to "forget not all his benefits." When I get discouraged, I try to remember the good things God has done for me. 

Little did I know when Pastor Mark called for the church to fast and pray for 40 days and to memorize scripture, that our family would face so many challenges.  Last Thursday--the day before the women's retreat--Brian received word that he was being laid off.  The company he works for has been struggling for over a year, and Brian had been retained to help finish up work and to close down some of the jobs that they had.  There just wasn't anything left for him to do, and the company was having trouble making payroll.  We knew it was coming, but this kind of thing is never fun.

Today, as I was reading Psalm 103, I was struck by verses 13-18:  "As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.  As for man, his days are like grass, he flourishes like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.  But from everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children--with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts."   If there was ever an incentive to obey God and to honor the covenant that we have with Him, here it is!  My days on this earth are like grass.  I am frail and made of dust, and when I am gone, the ground beneath me and the bed I've slept in will not remember me.  But, God's love for me is forever--from everlasting to everlasting--as long as I revere God.  His faithfulness (which is what God's righteousness refers to in the Psalms) will be with my children, and their children, if I keep his covenant and obey his precepts.  I definitely want my grandchildren to have God's faithfulness.  I definitely want God's love forever.  The temptation to be discouraged, or to worry, is great right now.  Even though God has always been good to us, and has carried us through lots of tough times, it is still tempting to want to control this situation, rather than wait on God.

Brian is making calls, and has two recruiters on the look-out for jobs.  I begin classes this week, and will attend substitute teacher training on the 22nd.  I am grateful that we've got money saved, and that the company gave Brian a severance.  I know that God's timing is perfect, and that he will send new opportunities both of our ways.  I suppose that if I were writing a screenplay or book I would set up just this sort of dilemma for my heroine to have to overcome.  The author and perfector of my faith has certainly given us the setting for what may prove to be an exciting story of faith.

Many blessings,


Sunday, October 10, 2010


When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me a wonderful book called Jennifer's Walk.  It was the story of a little girl named Jennifer who takes a long walk and makes new discoveries and sees interesting things.  Along the way, she shares the things that her mother has packed for her in her backpack with new friends that she makes on her journey.  In the recent weeks, as I have been preparing for a new phase of my life (stepping down from the leadership of a growing women's ministry and the return to professional work), some of the women that have been reading my ministry blog ( have been telling me how much that my words have meant to them.  One of the ladies that I minister to told me, "Keep those stories coming, Girl!"  So, I have decided to keep my followers and friends posted on my journey.  God has opened the doors to new possibilities and adventures, and I am looking forward to sharing those with all of you, in the hopes that my own risk-taking and leap of faith will inspire you to trust God and to get going.

And so it begins....