Woman Reading Bible

God Will Make You Relax

As I get older I witness more and more the power God has in people’s lives. The most recent amazement I have is the power He has to make people stop. There is no doubt that people today are busy and we go go go. We tell everyone how busy we are, we don’t have time to rest, we don’t have time for church, we don’t have time to read our Bible because we are so busy. Well, guess what? There have been a handful of times I was burning the match at both ends and God put the brakes on my entire life.

As busy as we think we are God is busier. He is the CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE. We are not. By thinking we have any sense of control over our life is ridiculous. Believe me, this is coming from a recovering control freak.

Back in the day when I worked for hospitals I had a pretty stressful job. But I didn’t realize how stressful it was until I wasn’t doing it. The first time I noticed this was when we moved to Fort Worth, TX. Chris had been living there a couple of months while I finished a project at a hospital I was working for. My last week at that hospital was possibly the worst week during my almost 10 years of working there. I was sent on a trip to meet with the people that were taking over our office. A work friend went with me so I didn’t have to travel alone, there was a snow storm, and it was Valentine’s week. Needless to say, we survived the trip by the skin of our teeth and made it home and I think I only cried twice that week. I turned in my badge and moved to Fort Worth. I was unemployed for about a week when God gave me a job at the seminary my husband attended. Compared to the environment I was in two weeks prior this new job was a cake walk! Thank you Jesus!

God slowed me down again when He put me on bed rest during my first pregnancy. Same situation. I was burning the match at both ends until one day my doctor said, “Your blood pressure is really high. You need to be on strict bedrest until the baby is born.” Do you know what strict bed rest is? It is torture. I was allowed to get up to shower and use the bathroom–that’s it. That lasted for 21 days! Message received God, thanks.

Circumstances have happened since then where God did the same thing. I see people going and blowing all the time and they look miserable. They tell me they don’t have time to rest, they don’t have time to relax. Trust me friend…you better find a way to relax and be still or God will make you be still.

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10

Notice the “!” What does that mean? That’s right, you might as well assume there is yelling involved. So read it again like this, “Be still and know that I am God. I WILL BE EXALTED AMONG THE NATIONS, I WILL BE EXALTED IN THE EARTH!” Does that make it better?

Moral of the story…take some time for yourself. Have a friend or family member watch the kids for a day. If you can spare, do it over night. Be still and let God be God.

May I Never Lose Your Wonder

One of my favorite songs these days is, “Mercy,” by Matt Redman.  I first heard it on the latest Passion album and have it on repeat every time I’m in the car.  AND I am probably singing it very loud while I’m driving…alone.  My favorite line is, “May I never lose the wonder…”  That should be a prayer for us all!  If you need exposure to this song here’s the link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUQv1mHxc_0

Enjoy…

The Best Advice My Dad Ever Gave Me

In honor of Father’s Day I would like to share with you the best advice my dad ever gave me.  Here it is.  Are you ready?  It’s going to knock your socks off.

“Be nice, have fun, don’t hurt anyone.”

That’s it.  Simple.  Life altering.  The first time I remember it being said over and over was when he coached my softball team.  The last year I played softball was the summer before ninth grade and we had moved to a more competitive league in another city.  As far as I remember, we did okay.  What do I remember most about that summer?  Mean softball girls, mean softball moms, obnoxious behavior from adults, thinking it wasn’t fun any more, injuring my knee when sliding into second and getting up by myself.  I know!  No one came to help me get up even though I was screaming bloody murder because something bad had obviously happened with my knee.  Rude.  Needless to say, my dad would say before every game, “Be nice, have fun, and don’t hurt anyone.”  Thanks Dad.  We needed that reminder because those girls were just plain mean.

The advice still rings in my head when my controlling personality wants to take over and be mean, not have fun, and hurt someone.  I’m really not competitive and did play softball because it was fun and I was an average player.  I knew I wasn’t going to play professional softball but these girls really thought they were.  For all I know some of them might be, but still…so rude.  I played in the out field most of the time and remember moms from other teams that had these empty milk cartons with rocks in them and they would yell at the out field players.  Rude.  If you are one of those moms just stop.  Stop now.  I give my dad props for coaching a bunch of girls for several years especially through “those years.”  You know the years when girls get “visitors” every month and might be a little over-dramatic about it.  I remember one night on our way home from practice I was gross and sweaty and my dad asked me what I thought about practice and I told him I wasn’t really having fun any more.  Before the knee injury I was pretty sure I didn’t want to play any more after that summer.  It never occurred to me that my dad might have actually enjoyed coaching.  I was such a people pleaser [in those days] that if my dad would have told me he wanted me to play again I would have just because I wanted to make my dad happy.  But he didn’t say that.  I don’t actually remember what he said.  I remember taking a shower at home probably after 10:00 and wishing the season was over.  Well, God took care of that.

Remember that second base I slid into?  Well, I was wearing a knee brace because I had some knee issues earlier in the season.  When I slid into second base my knee dislocated and got stuck in the knee brace.  I know.  I still get grossed out thinking about it.  Needless to say, it went back into place when I stood up and hurt BAD.  When I took my brace off that night you couldn’t even see my knee because it was so swollen already.  After a trip to a specialist and an MRI it was confirmed I needed surgery because I pretty much tore or pulled a bunch of necessary parts of your knee.  I had knee surgery, the softball team went to the state tournament, I stayed at my grandmother’s house and read Sweet Valley High books and the book of Ruth over and over.  My dad never pushed me beyond what I was comfortable with.

My softball days were over but the days of my dad giving good advice never did.  He still gives good advice…even if you don’t ask for it.  He loves my mom, me, my brother, and our families with unconditional love.

Happy Father’s Day Tony Scantling!

My dad's 50th Birthday party
My dad’s 50th Birthday party

How I Read

Yes, you read the title correctly.  Back in the day I used to read A LOT.  People think I still read a lot but I happen to enjoy reading so I probably do read more than the average person.  Because I used to review a lot of different books people would ask all the time how I read so many books.  It was easy then…my son took two naps a day equaling about 4 hours a day so that was 4 hours of uninterrupted reading time for me.  That is not really the case any longer.  Before I tell you how I read I’m going to tell you what I read.

Typically, on my nightstand I will have one health related book, one marriage or parenting book, one leadership book, and my Bible.  When I

Actual books on my nightstand.
Actual books on my nightstand.

wake up in the mornings I will always read my Bible.  Right now, I’m reading through the New Testament so I typically read 1-4 chapters in the morning before my kids wake up.  Now, I have this one child that thinks when the sun comes up it is time to get up.  That is an incorrect thought for a 3 year old so that child will usually go back to their room to rest some more.  I usually don’t read again until after the kids are in bed.  Rarely, do I read on my lunch break or any other time during the day.  The kids are supposed to be in their beds no later than 7:30.  I usually crack open a book around 8:00 after a load of laundry is started or the kitchen is picked up.  I try to read for the next two hours.  Unless I am really into a book I usually read one chapter of each type of book I’m reading until 10:00 PM.  If I’m doing laundry I will take breaks between each book to put clothes in the dryer or fold clothes or just put clothes on the couch to fold at another time (most often the last).  This is the ideal schedule for me.  Occasionally, my husband is mentally exhausted from his day so we will watch Frasier on Netflix to wind down.  We also have several nights of the week that people are at our house or we are busy doing other things.  On those nights I typically don’t read at all.

Now, moving on to how I read.  No, I can’t speed read.  I would love to learn how but those classes are typically the same price as two nights in a hotel so I have never committed to a speed reading class.  So here’s the Cary Plunkett method for reading:  I always read with a pen in my hand (gel pen preferably).  When I come across a sentence I like I will put a check mark at the beginning of the sentence.  When I read an entire paragraph I like I will put an asterisk at the beginning of the paragraph.  Whenever there is a scripture reference I will underline the reference.  Underlining the reference helps me to quickly flip through a book to see how often they refer to the Bible.  Lastly, I will put exclamation points next to sections or sentences that really speak to me.  Rarely, do I right words in a book unless I’m planning to lead or teach through it later than I might make notes in the margin.

This is what I have going on right now:

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Books next to my nightstand that I want to either read or re-read.

 

Women & Theology

women and bibleLately the Lord has awakened a new spark in me.  It’s a spark that has been there for quite some time but it’s been a small spark and as of late that spark is turning into a flame.  Now, this spark has been a flame before but it got hovered and shoved down and covered so it went down to a spark again.  Now it’s back and I can feel it growing.  It’s the topic of women and theology.  I know, blah, blah, and blah.  A couple of reactions happen when women hear those two words.  One reaction is eye roll…why do I need to know about theology, isn’t that my preacher’s job or my husband’s job or someone else’s “job?”  The other reaction is excitement…let’s argue about theology, why are women not ministers, why is my preacher not a woman, why do women make less money?  Hold.  The.  Phone.  Can we just agree that there is a line in between those two sides that I fear most women don’t even consider?

The line is the line of reality.  I know a lot of women that are curious about theology, they don’t want to argue about it, they want to learn about it, but they have a house full of kids, art projects, chore charts, and meal plans.  Do they really have time or the energy to learn about God’s grace, redemption, sanctification, etc?  Ladies, hear me say this in love…you need to know what these things are because there will come a day or days when you question your very existence, you better know about what God has to say because you are going to doubt the very day you were born.

This day could come when you have a miscarriage and you question God’s plan in your life.  This day could come when you find out you can’t have kids.  This day could come when your home study didn’t go through and yet again adoption is delayed.  This day could come when the job you knew you were going to get didn’t happen.  This day could be the day your husband confesses to having an affair.  This day could come when you get a call from the police that your child is with them.  This day could be the day your doctor informs you that chemo starts tomorrow.  This day could be the day a newly wed couple has their first real fight and yell things they immediately regret.  This day could be when the kids move out and you realize it’s just you and your husband, now what?  This day could be the day that mental illness over takes you and you are tempted to make permanent solutions to temporary problems.  This day will come.  And as Paul Tripp says, “You’re always preaching some kind of gospel.”  When these days come and they will come, what gospel are you going to be preaching to yourself?  What theology are you leaning on?

I’m working on a project right now that I’m very excited about.  Only three people know about this project because the seed was planted years ago but only recently has God allowed the watering and sprouting to occur.  I see the full-grown tree of this project and I hope women get excited about what God wants to teach them through theology.  It’s not just for seminary graduates or preachers or missionaries.  It’s for everyone.  Everyone needs to know what their theology is.  This world is sinful and we are sinful humans that turn to ourselves more than God, shouldn’t we learn what God says about His theology before we try to tackle one more day in this world alone?

Names

Names are funny things. Your parents pick them for you. Sometimes people modify them without your consent. For instance, my name is Cary, one time someone called me Cory, then Gary, both were incorrect and he ended up calling me Terry. I’ve had enough people get my name totally wrong I don’t even care now. Whatever works and gets the job done.

Now, on the other hand, my husband sometimes calls me, “Girl.” I remind him I am not cattle that needs to be wrangled. My name is only four letters , there’s really not a need to shorten it or deviate from it.

Another thing that’s funny about names is when everyone on the planet calls someone a shortened version of their name but their spouse calls them the long version. I love it. I have a friend whose husband is Sam but she calls him Samuel. I love it. I think I might actually smile when she tells me a story about Samuel.

Final thought on names: God knows them all. No matter what others call you God knows your name. He’s there to say, “Cary, it will be okay.” He’s there to say, “Cary, relax. I got this.” He’s there to say, “Cary, I’m not leaving you. I’m here to stay.” He’s there to say, “Cary, I’m proud of you.” He’s there to say, “Cary, you make me so happy.”

My April Baby: Harper Lee

1888487_799920713357873_1316355669_nHappy 3rd Birthday Harper Lee Plunkett.  No, Harper is not named after the author.  We found the name Harper at the bottom of list of boy names, actually.  I texted the name to Chris and he said he liked it so it was good!  Her middle name is after my Grandmother, Sanka Lee Hood.  She passed away before Harper was born.  But I know they would have been the best of friends.  They both had attitude and sass.

I knew Harper was a girl from the moment of conception.  I was cleaning the living room one night and felt light-headed like I was going to pass out.  I sat down on the couch so the room would stop spinning.  Chris came to check on me and asked if I could be pregnant.  I thought perhaps, I could be.  He went down to Walgreens to get a pregnancy test.  Now, I know those tests say for the best results take them in the morning but I couldn’t wait.  Yep…promptly showed 2 pink lines.  Done.  I told Chris.  The rest is a blur, I remember telling our parents, telling people and then it happened.  Sickness.  Sickness like I have never experienced, followed by a severe sinus infection.  I lost about 20 lbs my first trimester.  That’s when I knew it was a girl…no boy would cause this much drama.

Sure enough, December 2010 rolled around and our doctor confirmed it was a girl.  Harper Lee Plunkett.  Once the sickness wore off I was okay.  Then we moved to Arkansas around week 34 or 35.  I saw my new doctor twice before she offered bed rest or induction two weeks before Harper’s due date.  Induction here we come.  I did 21 days of bed rest with our first.  It’s highly overrated–no need to repeat it.  Harper was born fine, no complications.  Ironically, we came home and there was a tornado warning…boy oh boy was that a fact…

Days into Harper’s arrival I’m a weepy mess, she’s spitting up everything I put in her mouth, she’s not sleeping, I’m not sleeping, throw in some postpartum and you’ve got yourself a crazy cocktail.  Oh ya, and our 18 month old son had a double ear infection just to keep things interesting.  Oh and we just moved here.  Like I said, it was nuts.  I didn’t realize what a control freak I was until Harper arrived in our family.  She has pushed me to the brink of insanity so that all I could do was grab my Bible and read until something felt better.

Fast forward almost a year and Harper was on reflux medicine, Eli’s ear infections had stopped, I was sleeping all night, and then it came.  The humble moment I laid my precious daughter in her bed and apologized for dreading her cry.  I came to a point where I was so tired and dreaded walking to her room, I was annoyed at that little girl crying, and begging her to be quite so her brother would not wake up.  Rocking her while I slept because sometimes that was the only way it happened.

I tell you all that to tell you Harper Lee Plunkett is a force to be reckoned with.  She always will be.  God has put a spirit in that girl that will always make me worry about her, it will always drive me crazy, and one of these days it will make her a wonderful wife and mother.  I can’t wait to see the grown up Harper Lee and what God has in store for her.  Happy Birthday Harper Lee.

Passion Week: Saturday

If you are in a minister’s home this day could be the day you are starting your weekend services OR it’s the day you are relaxing before the marathon of services tomorrow OR just getting ready for one big service.  Today I will be celebrating our daughter’s third birthday.  We are having her party early in the day then attending our first Easter service later tonight.  The thought of moving Harper’s party occurred to us but we decided to make it work.  We agreed that it was still her birthday and the church calendar doesn’t have to mess up her birthday party.  It will be a jam-packed day, but it’s not our first jam-packed day and it won’t be our last.

Be warned, I have changed this post from what I originally planned.  Good Friday I attended the last of the Passion Week lunches our church has hosted all week.  The key verse for Friday was John 19:30 when John says, “When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished,” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”  Our pastor was speaking on the “it is finished,” part but the part that grabbed me most was, “He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.”

So often we go and go and go until we are absolutely depleted of all energy.  We get so wrapped up in the comings and goings we forget to bow our heads and give up our spirit.  Like I said when this series started this is a busy week for ministry homes and ministry wives are sometimes left with the scheduling of childcare, pick up times, coordinating outfits, and don’t forget everyone has to eat too.  Take some time today to have fun with your flock and bow your head and give up your spirit.

…Sunday is coming…

Passion Week: Good Friday

“Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.”  Hebrews 7:25

I love how John Piper says, “Drawing near is not moving from one place to another.  It is a directing of the heart into the presence of God who is as distant as the holy of holies in Heaven, and yet as near as the door of faith.  He is commanding us to come, to approach Him, to draw near to Him.” 

My son is very inquisitive and just the other night he was looking at a picture Bible and asking me about every story on every page (another reason parents need to read their Bibles) and when we got to Jesus on the cross the picture showed blood on His clothes while He was carrying a cross.  Eli asked, “Why is there blood on His shirt?”  I said, “Because the men beat Him up so bad He was bleeding.”  I was watching Eli’s face to see how far I should go with this and he said, “That is not nice.  Why did they do that?”  Not shying away from his question I simply said, “Jesus wants us to be with Him all the time.  In order for that to happen He had to get beat up and die on the cross.”  Then Eli turned the page and moved on to the next story.  My son is four years old and asking these questions.  Clearly there is no stirring in his heart yet.  But kids need to know the truth.

Table Talk

This Table Talk can be easy in that telling this part of Jesus’ story might naturally bring up questions with your kids.  Now, the above situation wasn’t a planned Bible story time.  It was a time when Chris was gone and Eli wanted to stay up late and he knows if he asks for a story to be read I will, more than likely, say yes.  Simply being aware and ready when your child has questions is the best table talk of all.

Good Friday Activities

I love the idea of DIY empty tombs.  I have a couple of versions on my Easter Pinterest board.  This is so inexpensive and easy for kids.  Since this is a Good Friday activity I would suggest closing the tomb on your craft and moving it before the kids wake up on Easter Sunday to bring home the point that the tomb was empty!

I have enjoyed sharing these ideas with you all this week.  Let me know if you have tried any of them and how they went.

Passion Week: Thursday

“I new commandment I give to you, that you love one another:  just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.”  John 13:34

Table Talk

I hope you were able to look up the scriptures in yesterday’s post with your children.  Here is another post with some scripture reference so have your Bible ready to read these verses to your kids.

John 13:34

1 John 3:16

Hebrews 12:2

John 13:1

How can you show love for others?

How can you show love to your brother(s) or sister(s)?  This is always a hot topic at our house!

Possible Activities

This day is your choice.  There are so many service opportunities you can do as a family…yes, even with preschoolers.  Even if your children can’t actually participate in something they can observe their parents joyfully serving another family or person.