You asked… bible reading (with a giveaway!)

My question is around reading the Bible – during the quiet times you
spend in the Scriptures, can you share what your process is in choosing what to
read for the day?…Do you just open your Bible randomly and start reading? Are
you led by the Holy Spirit as to what to read? Do you follow a reading schedule
(i.e. read the Bible in a year)? Do you use study guides?
by: Tammy 

I am no superhero in this department.  Probably just like many of you I go through seasons in my life where I am more structured in this department than others.  I prefer to use Bible study guides although I do not always have one that I am working on.

I am currently in a Bible study group with a few other women.  We try to do one study in the Spring and one in the Fall.  This past Spring we completed Beth Moore's study on Esther.  Being in a group study provides so much accountability for me to actually complete my work in a specific time frame.

Hey Holly I was wondering what are you reading during your quite
Posted by: Kalie

Currently as a church staff we are doing B90X, an extreme read through the Bible in 90 days.  It is serious.  I am really enjoying it.  Although I have read through the Bible before, I have never done it in such a short amount of time.  Reading through such large portions at a time has given me a fresh perspective on the Word as a whole.

I am taking it as serious as the Daniel Fast that we did last fall.  It takes at least 30 minutes a day (usually more, especially when reading about seemingly endless verses about blood and skin diseases:))  I personally am reading on my iPhone (using You Version) in the New Living Translation (I will probably switch to NIV when the content is not as narrative).  I believe God is going to do great things through our staff as we do this together.

Do you have any online or written daily devotional recommendations.
I'm trying to find one that focuses on family/children/marriage. I get
overwhelmed searching for them, so wanted to see if
you had any suggestions to
try. I've been active in church my whole life but really want to dive deeper
and get into the scriptures on my own. Any suggestions would be great. Thanks
so much!
Posted by: Miranda

Here are some great studies/resources that I reccomend…
-Growing Kids God's Way (raising kids)
-5 Love Languages (marraige/family)
-Love and Respect (marraige)
-The Amazing Collection (walk through the Bible)
-Lord I want to know you (great individual study, anything by Kay Arthur is)
-Believing God (my all time favorite Beth Moore study and you can do the study online)

And now for the giveaway part… I will be giving away one copy of each of the following books.  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post.  You cacn share a resource that you love or just leave you name.  Just be sure to include you email address so that we can contact you!  I will randomly announce the winners next Wednesday so the deadline is Tuesday, Aug 18 at noon.

Experienceing God Day by Day, online or the book.  Its a great study to get you started.

For a supplemental resource to your regular study, I love Beth Moore's book, Praying God's Word

Anne Graham Lotz devotional called Daily Light.  Its a short daily devotional that is 100% scripture written in a unique topical format (here is a sample).

I can't wait to hear from you!

You asked… a few random questions

 Are you close to your sisters? What are some of the things you like to do together/talk about?
Posted by:

Daytona trip and Elijah 4th bday 580Funny that you should ask…  I am sitting in my house with my sister Joy (younger by 3 years) nearby on her computer.  She has come to stay with us for a few days before she starts her job as a teacher's assistant.  My boys always love it when Auntie Joy comes to visit. 

My sister Emily (older by 18 months) and I have a great relationship too.  We talk on the phone several times a week.   Mostly about our children.  Our kids absolutely love each other.  They love it when we get together and wish we would see each other more.  Let me just say with 6 children under 6 there is never a dull moment.

Pictured from left to right is Emily, me, my mom (Deborah) and Joy.  I also have a very close relationship with my mom.  My parents as well as both of my sisters live 2 hours away in South Carolina.

You never fail to look so cute and stylish on Sunday mornings, so my question is….where do you find all your cute clothes!?  Posted by: Holly

(Not posted me, silly:))  Thank you.  I am bargain hunter.  I have a few boutiques in town that I stalk their sale racks for unique items.  I also love Marshalls, Express, and Saks Off 5th at Concord Mills (recently they had an extra 60% off their clearance, it was great). 

Are you done having babies, or will there be more adorable Furticks in our future?  Posted by:

I guess because Graham is about to turn 2, people think its about time.  This seems to be the question of the hour.  I can say that there is nothing set in stone.  I feel blessed to have two healthy boys and they keep me quite busy.

You Asked… the early years

1147438_question_mark_iconHolly, being a start up PW also, I
am wondering what you did during the "lean times" of the first year. We
moved without a team (not for lack of trying and prayer) moved 2,500
miles away from family and friends, and have started this church with
just our family. How did you encourage yourself, spouse and team that
God would bring about what He promised for Elevation church? Did you see
growth through relationships, events, or both?  How do you keep your marriage safe guarded?
  Posted by:

Warning: This post got kind of long…

I think I have mentally blocked out the "lean times."  It was a very stressful time.  For those readers who do not know the history of our church, I will give you the short version… We moved to Charlotte along with 8 other families.  Besides the folks who moved here with us, we knew no one in Charlotte.  Oh and, Elijah was about 10 weeks old and I believe he holds the Guinness World Record for most tears shed in your first year of life.

We had no building, no offices, and no clue how we were going to get people to come, but we had a lot of faith and a big vision.  We began having pre-launch meetings in a community center.  We met there for several months before we launched in February 2006.

During that first year there were no days off and no Sundays off.  My husband was supporting our family through itinerant ministry.  There were many weekends where he would leave on a Friday and come home late on Saturday night.  Sunday morning he would turn around and get up at 5, help set up, lead the music, do the announcements, preach and take up the offering.  Oh yeah, and then every Monday he drove 2 hours to Greenville to take seminary classes from 9am to 9pm.

Looking back, I know that it was God's grace that sustained us through that time.  We were a source of encouragement for each other.  I remember constantly telling him that we had done the right thing, made the right decisions by moving to Charlotte, and that God was going to reach people through our church.  Our marriage was safeguarded because we were a team.  It was our family and our church, and our vision that God had called us to.

A wise person once told me that raising children doesn't really get easier as they get older, it just gets different.  You may trade physical exhaustion for emotional exhaustion.  You still always wonder if you are doing a good job.  You never stop worrying about them.

I think the same is true for ministry work (and really life in general).  It doesn't get easier, it just gets different.  To all of you church planters out there who are thinking, everything will be better once we reach X amount of people, you are deceived. 

The good news is, God's grace is sufficient no matter what stage of ministry (or life you) are in.  And you still need to be your husband's main source of encouragement no matter how long you have been married or what his profession is.

The specific answers that you are looking for are difficult to give.  I can tell you that it was like a chain.  I encouraged him, he encouraged our team and we all saw God work.  Gradually people began to come and lives began to be changed.  As we saw our relationships grow, we saw our events grow.  As more people's lives were changed, they began to invite their friends and so on.

If you are in a situation today where it seems so difficult you can barely breathe, just remember, life does not get easier, it just gets different.  When you accept your situation and ask the Lord to show you specifically what you need to do, He will answer you.  The key is to focus on the now and forget about the one day when.  God's grace will be sufficient at every stage.

You Asked… Staying connected

1147438_question_mark_icon Thanks so much for this opportunity. How do you and your husband connect (maybe re-connect is the better word)
after his full week outside the home and your full week at home with
the boys? Do yall ever have a chance to worship together? Do you set
aside time each week that is just yall's? If so, how do you spend it?
As a church plant pastor's wife and mother of two under 4, I am
searching for some help here!
Looking forward to your responses.
  Posted by: Mandy Perry

Funny that you should ask this question Mandy.  My husband and I just got back from a 7-day Caribbean with another couple on our staff and NO KIDS (pictures to come)!  We had the best time although we missed our kids terribly.  (In fact, when we got home last night, my husband ended up sleeping in the bed with Elijah.)

We also go out on a date every week with out fail.  We usually get a sitter and just go to dinner.  Sometimes we walk around a mall or a bookstore after dinner.  Every now and then, we will drive around the city.  We love to talk and have time together.  It is so important for the health of our marriage that we take this time every week.

As for the worship together part, I am going to answer that in another You Asked post.

I strongly recommend this for every couple, no matter your profession.  It doesn't have to cost a lot of money.  We don't go to Ruth's Chris every week.  I know of couples who swap child care with another couple.  You could take ChickfilA to a local park.  And as for the week long get-away… We haven't always had the money to take week long cruises without our children.  There were times when we planned our entire "vacation" around a speaking trip with some paid expenses and asked our family to watch our kids.

Successful marriages take time to invest in each other.  To get to know each other.  To continue to know each other.

If you do not have a regular date night with your husband, start small.  Try once a month for a few months, then gradually increase to twice a month.  And try to plan a weekend getaway sometime this year.  It will be well worth the investment.

You asked… judgemental people

You asked How do you deal with judgmental people in your life? Like ones who try to condemn you for the how you spend your time or money. You don't have to justify your life to anyone but since you are in front of so many people do you ever get frustrated at what people say? Posted by: Christina (and several others)

So many minister's wives deal with judgement.  Actually, we all do.  Especially as women, we struggle with wanting to please everybody around us.

There is a fine line between wanting to please others, and living our lives trapped by the fear of what others think about us.

Whether you feel like you live in the fish bowl of ministry where everyone watches you, or you feel pressured by what family members and friends feel you should or should not be doing, as difficult as this may sound, my answer for you may seem overly simplistic.

There are really only two people in my life whose opinions matter: My Husabnd and Jesus Christ.  Do I always live by this?  No.  But this is what I must fall back on.

The fact is, the people in your life who seem to be concerned about the way you live your life will never be satisfied with what you do.  Whether their intentions are good or bad, their appetite will be insatiable.  If you change one thing, they will find another thing to criticize you about.

Does this mean that I never listen to the opinions of others?  Of course not.  I consider the opinions of others.  I weigh them against the scripture.  I talk it over with my husband.  I consider our family values and convictions.  And then I must act in confidence.

We have to learn to let small things be small. We have to learn what battles to fight and what discussions to have.  The other day my husband twittered this phrase: He who lives by the approval of others will die by the absence of the same.  Now thats some good preaching.

I hope my answer was not too simplistic.  Sometimes, I think, we need to take a big, complicated issue and break it down to its most simplistic form. 

You Asked… about parenting

You asked

I was wondering about your philosophy of teaching your children about God and faith. Do you have structured times that you teach about God and read the Word, or do you seize opportunities during the day to teach principals, like treating others with kindness because God loves every person He creates? I just wondered what your goals are in this area and how are some practical ways you teach about faith.

Posted by: Annalisa Sawatzky

We are very much a teachable moment family right now mostly because of the ages of our children.  We do have prayer time each night before our kids go to bed.  We are also big on scripture memory with emphasis on three-year-old issues.  Elijah can quote Ephesians 6:1, Psalm 34:13, Luke 6:31 and Psalm 56:3.  We love the cd from Steve Green, Hide 'em In Your Heart.  I have heard great things about Seeds Family Worship.   

I would say our focus right now is on respect, and obedience.  I heard a preacher say that during the formative years of your child's life, my main objective needs to be to teach them to do what I say, when I say it.  He said your children will never be able to obey an unseen authority if they cannot obey one whom they can see.

In the respect department we expect Graham to say please and thank you.  We are also working (although not so successfully) on saying yes instead of no.  In addition, we expect Elijah to say yes ma'am and yes sir and to look adults in the eyes when speaking to them.

Some of our family's other core values are kindness and generosity. 

You Ask

1147438_question_mark_icon Today I am going to take my first stab and answering one of your questions.  Amanda asked…

Since I am fairly new at being a youth pastor's wife, here are my
questions. 1)What do you love the most about being the wife of a
pastor? 2) What is the hardest thing about being the wife of a pastor?
3) What advice would you give other pastors wives that are just
starting out on this journey?

1.  The very best thing about being a pastor's wife is seeing the life change in people.  It never gets old.  I met a lady just last night who goes to our church.  She started crying when she tried to tell me about all the changes God has made in her life since coming to our church. 

From a bit more practical standpoint, I guess the 2nd best thing, I would say is all the people who truly love our family.  The amount of people in our church who pray for us on a regular basis, serve us, bless us and truly care about us blows my mind. 

2.  The hardest part about being a pastors wife is meeting/remembering everybody.  Most people don't know this but I get really nervous when I am around huge groups of people from our church.  Mainly because I don't want to offend anyone or make them think I don't care about them.  Its very difficult to not just talk to the people I know and feel comfortable with.  I have a difficult time introducing myself to people.  I always ask people their name and if we have met before.  I always hope that people are not offended if I don't remember them.

3.  My advice Be YOURSELF.  I think so many pastor's wives feel overwhelmed by the amount of expectation put on them by the members of their church.  Embrace your leadership role and custom fit it to your personality.  Depending on your particular situation, you may have to ease into this a bit but decide who you are and teach your church who you are.  If you don't like kids, do not feel pressured to work in the nursery.  If you don't teach, do not feel pressured to lead a bible study.  There may be people in your church who won't like this, but eventually, they will get over it and accept who you are, especially when they see you doing the things you are great at. 
    Accent your strengths so that you can capitalize on your husband's ministry.  If you have the gift of hospitality but you don't want to teach, host and organize a bible study, but get someone else to lead it.  I realize that each situation is different but the truth remains. 
    God is not asking me to be Victoria Osteen or Lisa Young or your previous pastor's wife, or my mother, although they are all great women of God.  He is asking me to be who He has created me to be in the situation that He has strategically placed me in.
    Obviously this truth applies to all of us, not just those who are pastor's wives.  Embrace who God has created you to be and be yourself!

Back in January I did an interview with the ladies over at Clutch.  To read more about my ministry as a pastor's wife, you can go here.

You Ask

In order to prevent writers block this summer, I thought I might start a new series that lets you determine the subject of of my post.

So ask me anything.  Family, ministry, about me, the floor is yours.  I can't promise to answer every question.  I am excited to hear from you!