mega church chronicles, post 2

It’s been awhile since my first mega church chronicles post, where I focused on a woman’s teaching boundaries in the church.

That first post was written almost seven months ago.

My opinions have remained the same but it has taken me awhile to continue the “mega church" posts because I’ve had to “check” myself regarding church, the way things happen in the church, and what my role should be. I don’t know if you read or listen to discernment bloggers or podcasts that solely focus on discerning the truth in public sermons and writings for men (and unfortunately women) who say they have been called by God, but I have. I’ve learned that filling myself with others’ opinions and observations over the last few months have taught me quite a bit.

1. When you read the opinions and observations of others, sometimes they really don’t have much more to qualify them in discerning than you do. While you assume that someone who has attended a theology program to be more knowledge, or blindly assert authority to someone just because they have a public platform of any kind, it is unwise to follow along blindly. Read for yourself. God’s word is available to each of us, and you are better off applying discernment tactics only after you know what His word says.

2. Just like there is “extreme” Christianity, there is also an extreme opposite. When you find yourself falling down the rabbit hole called the internet, it is wise to look at who’s doing the writing. Is this person giving discerning from a place of truly loving and wanting to uphold God’s word? Or is this person (even if what he or she points out is correct to draw attention to) looking to draw attention to themselves for other purposes? One of my biggest lessons regarding discernment over the last few months is this: do it from a place of complete humbleness. Put all pride and self-righteousness aside. **This was probably my biggest take away. It’s easy to sound like a self-righteous know-it-all, especially when you are knowledgeable of God’s word, have seen Him guide your life, and know that if that friend, or stranger you see heading the opposite way just LISTENS to YOU, they can have the same. It’s easy to judge when you say you are discerning so there needs to be a pure heart behind it all.

3. Everyone who attends a mega church is not vain or shallow. In every congregation, there are those who attend church for what us Christians may call the wrong reasons. However, just like this group is attending, there are also those who attend that are believers who have been saved by the blood of Jesus, who are living to Glorify God in all they do. The vain and shallow dynamic goes for those in a smaller church setting, but the dymanic is oftentimes easier to see in larger congregations.

** There is a second part to this, however, because after awhile, I do believe that those who are attending a megachurch and are true children of God will eventually mature and realize that the seeker-driven format is not one for their long-term spiritual growth. *We will post later about this!

4. Being discerning is good. It’s actually very awesome, wise and all of the other good things. As you look into your pastors, their books, their relationships and their congregations, rid yourself of the self-righteousness that may arise if and when you realize that the very things you were worried about come to light. You asserting what is right and wrong in the church needs to be addressed in a manner that keeps you aligned with God.

I feel more mature already.

My third mega church post is going to focus on the church being seeker-driven, which heavily relates to my number three in the list above. I’ve discovered that there are two major groups in a mega church, and a third, smaller minority we will discuss later. The first group tends to be the newcomers among the the thousands attending church every week. The second is the group that has attained membership and are continuing to come each week as they are content with the services and state of their spiritual growth. Since I attend mega church services, I have seen things that have caused me to call this complacency the result of sheep mentality. If you know anything about sheep, you know that they are followers with an instinct to stick together for survival.

I think of John 21, verses 15-17. In these verses, Jesus is asking if Peter loves Him, and at the same time giving him direction to “Feed My lambs,” Tend My sheep,” and “Feed my Sheep.” The key here is that Jesus was making a direct correlation of Peter’s love with how He wants one in ministry to care for His people. These verses will be paramount in the next post as we discuss the groups of people I am seeing in the mega church.

Do you attend a megachurch, or a seeker-driven church? Are you seeing the same trend?

I’d love to hear from you, and we will dig into this more next week!

xoxo

Marlena

good change

I texted with a sweet friend earlier and I’ll tell all of you who keep up with my shenanigans the same thing: I had a break this week and it’s like all of the prayers and long days in front of my computer are paying off! For those of you who are reading this blog for the first time, I’ve recently began to work for myself and I think I’m officially exiting the struggle bus!!!

For anyone who has found herself in a position of leaving a full time, salaried position with benefits on hopes, dreams and the desire to work from her back patio on the hotter days, one thing I’ve learned is that in the process, you have to work as hard as you did in your secure, salaried role to get your new venture up and running. Meaning, you can’t be afraid to work, organization is key, and your newfound “freedom” may be freeing, but not necessarily in all of the ways you initially imagined.

Have you ever thought about jumping into something new on your own and found yourself surrounded by those who are scared to do the same, who feel the need to voice all of your worst fears aloud? Or maybe, you are your own worst enemy, telling yourself over and over again that security is better. Maybe your goals are not truly meant for you?

Well, they’re lies. Every word.

In the past, when I thought of the word success, my mind would wander first toward the monetary benefits. If I had this much money in the bank, or made that much money each month, things would be good. But I’ve learned that what is good is peace of mind, joy, purity and honesty in relationships and truly having lots of time with my family is what is good.

After watching a really great sermon online from John MacArthur a few months back, a verse continues to come to mind that he referenced in his message.

In Psalm 143.:10, David says, Teach me to do your will, for you are my God.

I think about this verse often since hearing this message. I’ve wanted 2019 to be my year of not only learning to know God’s word, but a year of actually incorporating it and living to do His will. I think in doing so, and not trying to “discover” what I’m purposed for, I am learning to fulfill His purpose for me as a wife, mother and woman in general. I’m starting to see change in my life from living in His will and it feels good. Is it easy? Nope. Do I do things I’d rather not do? Yes. Do I feel confident in knowing that I’m living the way I should? Yes.

That’s all that matters :)

still changing...

Okay.

I am absolutely still learning how to take things slower, plan and goal set. As I’m writing this, I can hear the YouTube video my Little is watching just a few feet away and I’m cringing on the inside. Why is it so hard to get rid of electronic devices???? For the husband and the child? I’m still working on this. Stay tuned…

In my last post, I was updating all of you on my career changes. As of January 7th, I am an independent in the workplace! I am in the process of getting together a business license, figuring out the degree of the services I will be providing, and, honestly, working freelance services to make money to continue to fund it all in the process. Has working for myself been gratifying? Yes. Has it been as easy as I thought? Nope. Not at all. It’s actually been quite terrifying.

You see, I’m used to frenzy. Craziness. Constantly running and flying by the seat of my pants. All. Of. The. Time. I am being completely honest when I say this, but I don’t know how to calm down and chill out anymore. Sure, I can relax and watch Netflix with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, but the new entrepreneur in me can easily combat that and say, girl, stop, you really can’t be spending $5 on a tiny pint of ice-cream these days. Go generic! I mean relaxing and working simultaneously. Now that I have what seems like all the time in the world without nearly as many duties, and not nearly as many people demanding something of me, I am learning that over time I may have conditioned myself to excel in the drama, be great when I’m crunched for time, and secretly enjoy complaining about work, but at the same time thriving amidst it all. Now, there are some days I find myself sitting at the desk setup that my husband created for me looking at my hands, writing lists of things that are imperative to get done, and what do I do??? Look at them. I plan and write them in millions of different places (in color of course) and think about how to get them done, without actually doing them. At three o’ clock, when I’ve finally gotten my mind “right,” I know my Little will be home from school and I immediately shift to mommy mode, work forgotten.

Who would have thought this would be a problem?

Two projects that I am working on are my more dominant sources of income and they’ve battled one another constantly from day one. How many hours per day should I dedicate to each? What happens when I find myself working significantly more that I was before I ventured out on my own? That wasn’t supposed to happen! What happens if I fail?

Questions that need answers people. Questions that need answers.

I actually watched a Netflix movie a few weeks back about a young basketball player who had a true gift for the game. His parents were extremely poor, and to make a long story short, after his father took money from his coach for recruitment purposes, he found himself ineligible to play. What did he do? He got creative and went pro overseas at age 14. Imagine the look on his parents faces. Here is their child essentially cleaning up their mess and creating a lucrative job for himself in the process. After watching. I spoke with my younger sister and we came to the conclusion that maybe if we had a harder life growing up maybe it would be easier for us to get motivated and take risks! When you’ve always had a cushion to fall back on, whether it be parents, a nice savings account or a husband with a good job, it can make you lazy. I can admit this about myself, and in this new role I’ve created for myself, I’ve actively had to work around the dreaming and actually put action toward every list, idea and goal I’ve created over the last few weeks. It’s exhausting, and my mind is constantly going a mile a minute, but I’ve noticed some true life change as well.

I’ve felt a change in myself! I take the time to do simple things, like clean my home better. This sounds trivial, but at the end of my weekdays I’m no longer so emotionally and mentally drained that the things that truly matter get pushed off to the side and become forgotten about. Yes, there are plenty of boxes in my day planner that have gone unchecked (mostly writing sessions and workouts I pre-planned), but I have worked out and worked on my book more these last few weeks than I have in months, so I am learning that the perfectionist in me that likes to overexert myself and check off boxes can go hide in a corner somewhere. She just needs to disappear and stay gone! Thank goodness :) And, I’m sure there are some friends of mine who are thinking that I’ve completely “ghosted” them because the cell phone number I had four and a half years was turned in and replaced on my last day at work, and the contacts I saved on a yellow legal pad are floating around somewhere on my desk. That transfer is coming. I promise. Soon!

Most importantly, since I’m being completely honest, leaving my job literally saved my marriage. The hassle of the world that over the last few years has affected us in so many ways has subsided and we are goofy together again. We talk to one another more. And quite honestly, I feel closer to the hubs and am happier to be married to him than I’ve ever been. Why did it take me quitting my job to to reach this point? I guess the easy answer is that it shouldn’t have. If this experience teaches me anything, it has taught me that relationships should come first. Work and livelihood is important, but relationships and the souls that make up those we love are forever. Nourish them. Take care of them. Depend on them for your well-being because it truly is okay.

In the meantime, pray for me and my sanity. Pray for my jumping out on my own. Please. I’m looking to find myself and am almost there.

Stay tuned!

And did I mention, pray please? :)

xoxo

marlena

Changes

So. It has been so long since I’ve posted, I’m almost ashamed!

Not really, but you know what I mean :)

Before starting this post I read my last one, Executive Classroom Mom, and boy, have I got news for you all! But, before I begin, let me just say this: having a child makes Christmas MAGICAL. For every gift he opened today, my Little’s face was absolutely indescribable. My heart melted about fifty times today! And tonight, when he said today was the best Christmas ever, every moment that I beat myself up these last few days was worth it. One of the coolest things about this Christmas though was the fact that my Little told me himself what the holiday is about: Jesus. That’s one of the sweetest things I’ve heard my son say because I feel in my heart that he believes it, and as a Christian woman who knows the reality of Jesus and his salvation, I’m proud of these words coming out of his little, gap filled mouth. I’ve taken the rest of the week off of work and have already noticed a sense of relief and feelings of excitement the longer I’ve been home because……

Once I return, I have four days left and will begin a new journey working for myself!!!!

It’s scary, but super exciting, and I can already feel a new motivation in me that I haven’t felt in such a long time. I am more purposeful at home already, and have been looking forward to taking on some projects I have put off, and look forward to the following things the most:

1) Being able to continue to be fully involved in my Little’s school and activities with no work interruption;

2) Working from home;

3) Working more directly for my family and self, as opposed to working for another business and fulfilling someone else’s dream instead of my own dreams;

4) Becoming more purposeful and intentional in ALL things as I am able to slow down my life and live it in the way I’ve wanted for the last six years;

5) Becoming closer to God;

6) Growing my family closer to God while learning how to be a better wife;

7) Learning to plan and take better care of my family’s home;

8) Working toward creating and growing generational wealth for my family and my Little and his own family when he’s all grown up; and,

9) Finally publish my book.

That is such a long list but I absolutely intend to detail my progress in each of these areas over the course of the upcoming months, God willing. I’ll probably post more randomly too because I will have more time to read and write, and my stress level has already come a long ways down so I hopefully will not be trading time for writing blog posts with “quiet time.”

I am so excited for change!

Is there anything you are changing up in your life? I would love to hear about it!

xoxo

marlena

executive classroom mom

Have you ever felt like you’re supposed to be right where you are?

Like with work, or with family, or even in a relationship?

I’ve had this battle as a working mom for approximately five years. Without getting into feelings about not being able to stay home during my son’s early years, I’ll get right into the here and now. I have a list of wants, and I know exactly what it will take to accomplish them, but getting there is proving to be a little harder, and takes a little longer than I thought it would.

WANTS

1) Live in Christ. All of the time.

2) Be a wife that gives her husband continuous love, support and spiritual uplift (and advice when he asks for it).

3) Be a mom that treats her child as her child, and not above her husband or Christ, but instead in a way that teaches him about his Father in Heaven and how important it is to have relationship with Jesus, all while loving him in such a way he will never be able to say he doesn’t know what love is.

4) Live simply and enjoy those moments that I won’t ever get back.

So yesterday I went on a field trip with my son’s school. It was a blast, and just like a recent Jon Gordon book I read (The Seed), I found myself thinking about my work life balance and what I should be pursuing right here and right now as I trekked through the corn maze (just like the book!!!!) with a gaggle of kindergarteners and a few students from the lower school. Unlike the character in The Seed, unfortunately, I cannot afford to take a “few weeks off” to get my thoughts together, all in order to discover what I am here to do. I’m in real life/real mom time. Which means my deepest thoughts and revelations are generally revealed in my bathroom. :)

If I wasn’t a working mom, I would definitely be a classroom mom for my Little’s kindergarten class. Since I do work, however, I’ve made it a priority to be a working classroom mom, if there is such a thing. So I make sure I am able to attend each and every field trip that parents are invited on, and participate fully in each activity/event our school takes part in. You know, a do it all mom. I have my days, but I adore every minute of it. But let’s backtrack here, so I can give you the full scope of this rambling of thoughts.

As of the end of last week, I have had a potential job opportunity come up that would be worth leaving my company of four + years because of a major salary increase, but also because it would allow me to grow a great bit in my field of work. And just so you know the scope of this “grow a great bit,” it would mean executive level at the age of 33.

What’s a mom to do? Friday, Saturday and Sunday I found myself looking at two sides of myself, wondering which side of me is the “real” me, or at least the me I needed to pursue. Classroom mom, who puts her child before everything, including major opportunities like this one that could change the family dynamic long-term? Or, working mom, who wasn’t happy about being a working mom, but since her child is older now, should just go ahead, suck it up and climb the corporate ladder (might as well be the best if you’ve got to do it anyway, right)?

Honeslty, I went into yesterday’s feel trip thinking about these things and my stress level increased. And increased. And increased some more.

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There is this third, and final part of me that just wants SIMPLE. And when I say simple, if I could convince my husband that it could be financially safe to have a single income household, my simple would be all of us thoroughly enjoying a drastically different lifestyle than the one we live right now. I mean, why not cut down to having a single vehicle to cut personal finances? And having another child (preferably two) and truly getting to experience what it is like staying home with my babies during that early time in their lives? Or what about being able to enjoy growing in Christ in a way outside of just having bible study once a week and reading shorter excerpts than I’d like due to time restaints that aren’t anywhere near more important than my spiritual growth? Don’t even get me started on taking care of my family from home (I can easily see me overscheduling myself and having a different bible study group each day, goal-setting to achieve new recipes each week for family meals, and that exhaustive list could go on and on), but I know myself, and I’d love every second of it! But in all honesty, the “simple” that I think God truly intended for families is one I’d like to be able to try for at least one season in my life.

So back to yesterday. There I was, talking with my Little’s teachers, heart bursting every single time he grabbed my hand and held me close (those days of embarassement and not wanting to show his love for me long gone!) and I had a revelation. I’ve always known how important motherhood is, and anyone who knows me personally knows that I absolutely love being a mother. My revelation was one that really came in a way that it’s come to me in the past. The only difference now is that in the past I ignored it. The excitement from the position that I mentioned earlier started to fade yesterday as I began to think about what changing my schedule could mean for my family. Then I began to think about my plan. Not necessarily God’s plan, but my plan, in pursuit of living my life the way I think God intends for me to live.

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So what am I saying?

Well, what is for you is for you, but what is meant for me right now is keeping things the status quo. Executive level is in the cards for some of us, but I don’t think it is for me. At least right not right now, and in this particular way. Yes, more money is always nice. But losing out on opportunities like yesterday with my son would make me a miserable monster who unleashes crazy on everyone. Ask my husband.

She isn’t nice.

And I’m trying to keep her hidden away :)

Operation classroom mom suits me well. Do you have a hard time making working decisions while working outside of your home?

xoxo

marlena

shame, shame, toenail shame

“I’ll be right back, I’m going to get more acetone.”

 

I smiled and nodded, watching the super cute nail technician step away to refill her bottle with the nail polish remover. I looked down at my toes. The pink nail polish I successfully reapplied (without removing) for a good year’s time remained, staring back at me in defiance, just as shiny as it was on one of the many dozens of times I reapplied it in haste! It was like it was willing itself to embarrass me further. Just wipe away, I murmured to myself, sneaking a peak at the woman soaking her feet next to me, sliding further down into the abyss of the plush, massage chair I was too worked up to take advantage of using…

 

Okay, so I’m being super dramatic, but my neighbor in toe crimes was definitely a regular. I could tell by the way she casually walked in and engrossed herself in chitchat with her regular technician and immediately activated her massage chair. I did gain valuable knowledge as they spoke about how great a new show on Hulu was, as I had been eyeballing it myself. I definitely made a note to self. Furthermore, I knew she was definitely past the point of haphazardly reapplying her toenail polish in maniacal swipes before she headed out the door barefoot, driving in bare feet until her toes dried, or taking a risk and applying before anyone else in her office smelled the scent of nail polish before her morning meeting. Yes, I’ve done both. You’re not living unless you’ve tried to polish your toes and get rid of the scent before your office populates.

                                  

The biggest indicator of her consistency at the salon? Her guy didn’t need MORE.ACETONE. He swiped each of her toes once or twice, and her polish rapidly became nothing more than plum-colored polka dots floating atop the trash bin.

I remember the days when I used to bask in self-care. I would take a bath for unreasonably long amounts of time, lather myself in the best lotion for my skin I could find, style my hair perfectly (ALL THE TIME) and dress as my best self. Even for trips to the store. And, most importantly, even when other people wouldn't see me. My self care was me-focused, and wasn't based on where I would be going, who I would see, and how long it would take for me to do it. I just did it.

Now, as a wife to one and mother to one, I learned a few things about myself during this “event.”

Number 1 – I absolutely enjoy being pampered. Mom life does not allow for this much, outside of Mother’s Day.

 Number 2 – I really need to stop reapplying nail polish without removing the past coat(s). It wreaks havoc with my “put together” persona and causes complete shame. Especially when my technician is super cute and “put together.”

 Number 3 – I need to be able to experience more days doing something strictly for myself. I used to think this was selfish, but everyone needs a little alone time and self-care is always necessary.

 So how can you take care of yourself, Mama?

Choose at least one day every few weeks that is strictly yours. If you like to read and drink coffee, go read and drink coffee. If you like being pampered, schedule yourself a spa day. Keep this date, and if life happens and you have interference, never cancel, just reschedule.

Take care of your toes. When you are in a hurry and see that a few of your toenails need to be redone, take fifteen minutes and do the job right. Unless, however, you need just one swipe on your big toe…

Or the color is a light one and can use a second coat…

Or you’re just in a hurry like mamas are sometimes and cannot find the nail polish remover quick enough…

 

the maniacal wife

Last night I felt like I was crazy. Have you every felt like you're crazy?

Like, you're looking at your husband after he has NOT done something you've asked (A MILLION TIMES) and you just feel the urge to scream at the top of your lungs? Sometimes I think about doing this, but the hubs and I try very hard to keep everything sunshine and rainbows, or at least avoid one another, during times of disagreement, so I refrain from this because I don't wanna scare my kid. *I will just keep screaming for thrills in my Jeep while I'm driving to let go. Or maybe your Little person, who is absolutely adorable with virtually all of his top teeth gone, is slightly taking advantage of watching "just one more" cartoon because he sees you in your go-to Victoria's Secret joggers and white tee that means mama is about to lounge around on every couch, chair and bed to try to alleviate her migraine. He knows we study on school nights and mama strives to fill him up with intellectual things. At least during the weekdays. Game on for some tv and bad food on Friday night and Saturday. Multiple episodes of everything on Nick Jr. later....

ma*ni*a*cal: adjective

1) Exhibiting extremely wild or violent behavior

2) (Informal). Exhibiting or denoting obsessive enthusiam.

3) (Psychiatry). Suffering from mania.

I'm quick to say that number three is likely my jam by default, only because I'm not obsessed with anything to such an exteme (although I've really taken a crazy cool liking to Fighting for the Faith and Pirate Christian Radio), and I'm not violent (yet) :) Or maybe its true what "they" say about being a Gemini. I'm really just two people in the body of one.

I think that is what I'll go with. 

Dear Husband, 

I think you have two wives. Helena enjoys ugly crying, complaining for virtually no reason, and only combing her hair sometimes. Marlena is her shiny, golden opposite. But you already know this :) I made sure to wake up and give you big hugs this morning and love on you because I know last night was like an episode of SNAPPED. Helena went to bed last night, and Marlena woke up this morning, sans migraine. You're welcome, sweetheart!

xoxo

marlena

*This post is not meant to demean or classify anyone with a psychiatric disorder in a negative or less than light.  I take such cases seriously. I'm just a mom and wife who loves my family and requires a good laugh every now and then when I feel overwhelmed. 

the discernment bug...

This post will be quick, but I thought it was so important to share!!!

My husband and I both listen to a local, Christian radio station in the mornings, and while he is taking our Little to school, and I am driving to work, most days we take a few minutes to chat. 

So to give you a little back story, I have been on the discernment trail lately. The more I learn, the more I want to learn...Y'all, it's like it's addictive! But anyway, my husband and I have had some discussions about his concerns with what I am doing. My husband is pretty reserved. Have you heard the discription "he's the strong silent type?" Well, there we go :) His biggest concern is that in actively watching, reading and listening to blogs, sermons, books, etc., and "critiquing" what I hear, see or read, that I am being controversial, and judging when I shouldn't be. I've been telling him that as Christians, God's word tells us to be discerning (1 John 4:1) and that while it may seem like we are judging, as long as we are mature and have grace, getting down to the truth is necessary. We have to know for the sake of our family.

All of that to say, after he heard something something on the radio that seemed a little "off" he called me and said, you know what? I think what that lady was teaching was wrong, and she had no scripture to back it up... And we went on to have a great discussion that felt like the equivalent to him sending me some really, pretty flowers to work (Hun, if you're reading this, you can absolutely still send me flowers one day lol). But the bottom line is this...we were brought together in engaging conversation in defense of the God we are working really hard to make the center of our home. 

Ding, ding, ding, ding!!!! My heart is so full :) He gets it! And while this blog is my attempt to help women to not make the same mistakes I've made in the past, and learn to disconnect from their feelings and connect to Jesus, at the same time, I hope that I am able to pull my husband along for the ride too :)

xoxo

marlena