Gratitude Giveaway

The challenge from my devotion today was this:

“Even in the midst of whatever you’re longing for today, take a moment and acknowledge what you’re grateful for. “

There are couple of things I am really thankful for today:

  1. My migraine is GONE! I hate those things.
  2. My kid’s migraine is gone. He hates those things.
  3. I am going to be 38 this weekend!!!
  4. My husband orders take out when I feel bad!
  5. The devotional book I am doing is my favorite.
  6. The people who read my blog.

There are a few people who have let me know the past few weeks how much they enjoy reading my blog, they were challenged by my blog or they love trying the “On The Menu” recipes. That just means the world to me. I love getting to connect with readers. So, I thought I would combine a few of the things I am thankful for today with a gratitude giveaway. The devotion I am doing is by one of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist. It is a simple and short daily devotional. She also includes some yummy recipes. Now, that is my kind of devotional!

So, here is the deal: I want to give one of you a copy of my favorite devotional, “Savor”.

To be entered to win you have to do these two things…

  1. Comment below ( or above if you are on a mobile device) one thing you are grateful for today.
  2. Be sure you have liked my Facebook page. Toni Camp

Comments and likes have to be done by noon tomorrow, October 27th.

xoxo

 

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On The Menu

I have been a little behind about keeping my “On The Menu” pages updated. So, below are a few of my favorite dishes that I have done lately. I am not a recipe writer, but I do take recipes from all over the place and adapt them to my preferences. I am doing “On the Menu” because truthfully, most of the times in my life that I feel God’s presence the greatest is gathering around the table.  For me, it is a sacred time where we actually look other people in the face, not FaceTime, but actual their actual face and listen to each other. There is something that God stirs in my heart when I take time to nourish those I love. I hope we can all slow down a little more in life so that we can gather around the table more. I hope my “On the Menu” page helps you do that!!

So here’s what has been on my table recently! Click on the highlighted areas to see the recipe.

 

If you have any great recipes you think I would love, email them to me at tonicampart@gmail.com

Sweet Spots or Sour Patches

We are in the middle of the “Fresh Air” series at church right now. This week’s message was about slowing down. I have been trying to do this all summer. If you read my blog posts much, you will know that adjusting my priorities is a continuous struggle in my life.

Most of the time I sit at the table with my Day Designer and start removing things from my schedule. I track my week and see what all I am spending my time doing so I can make changes that are needed. I am pretty good at this, I can get it under control. Somehow, I always seem to find my mind start filling with crazy thoughts and ideas.

My life is full. I am married to a pastor, which is a full time gig all on its own. I work one day a week in our church office. I lead Sisterhood, our version of Women’s Ministry. I sing sometimes, I speak sometimes. I write and paint. I have a 13 year old athlete. Plus, I love the traditional role of keeping our home running smoothly and creating warm, loving and yummy nights around the dinner table. I LOVE my life. It is not always easy, but I truly love it.

However, my soul sometimes gets restless and I find myself looking for more. Most of the time, I don’t know what “more” even looks like, I am just aimlessly searching for it. I let the whispers of the enemy that say, “You are not making a difference, you are not doing enough, you should be doing something else, why don’t you try this, why don’t you try that, get another job, go back to school, volunteer for this,” get to me. I will begin trying to get more involved with certain things as I am convinced that what I am doing is not as important as what others do. I know in my heart this isn’t true, I can feel the gentle pull of the Holy Spirit warning me to slow down. I even feel guilty about being blessed enough to live this awesome life and I start trying to work for it even harder. Then, I end up with an overwhelmed schedule and a soul that is less fulfilled, not more. I jump out of my sweet spot and life gets sour.

Why has this been a continual struggle for me? It is because most of the time I sit down to adjust my schedule, but that is not what really needs adjusting. Slowing down has to start with my heart and not my schedule. God doesn’t want me to just work on my time slots, He wants to transform my heart. My full schedule is just a symptom of an issue in my heart. Just like taking a cough medicine when you have a cold will stop the cough, but not heal the cold; adjusting my schedule will fix the symptom for a while but will not heal my struggle.

I don’t know what your struggle is.
Maybe you are:
Living life to be loved instead of loving, comparing yourself to others, living in pride and always thinking you should have and be more, letting arrogance lead you instead of conviction, looking for ways to fill your insecurities or just trying to prove something.

Whatever it is, you will not be able to truly slow down until you deal with your heart. I encourage you to hush the rush that is trying to push you today. Slow down long enough to hear the voice of God in your life.

We all go through sour patches in life, but God has a sweet spot for you. Let’s work on our heart so we can live the life He as for us and quit aimlessly searching for “more”. The most important thing you can do today is pay attention to God.

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The Green-Eyed Monster

I have never really loved the phrase “green eyed monster” when referring to jealousy; simply because my eyes are green. Did that mean I was predisposed to being a jealous person? I have certainly had my battles with it.

We actually have Shakespeare to thank for that. Years ago the color green referred to many things that were sickly because when someone was seriously sick, their skin would turn a clammy green color.

The first time I can find that “green eyed jealousy” was mentioned was by Shakespeare in the Merchant of Venice written in 1596. Portia said;

“How all the other passions fleet to air,
As doubtful though and rash embraced despair,
And shuddering fear, and green -eyed jealousy! O love,
Be moderate; allay thy ecstasy,
In measure rein thy joy; scant this excess.
I feel to much thy blessing: make it less,
For fear I surfeit.”

Ever found yourself being jealous? Most of us think of extreme jealousy over our spouse when we talk about jealousy. But what about simple thoughts like:

“ I wish my husband treated me like hers treats her. “

“ I can’t believe she has that amazing job and I go to one I hate everyday!”

“Why do things always seem to work out for them?”

Jealousy slips into our lives in a lot simpler ways than we think. It doesn’t always come at us looking like a green-eyed monster. I know I have struggled with these very thoughts about others. However, I was only looking at the thing I wanted, not the things I didn’t even know about. We don’t see everything that goes on in someone else’s marriage. We don’t know how hard someone worked to get their job. We just compare our blooper reel to their highlight footage.

It causes jealousy. To get past jealousy we have to realize that we weren’t equipped to handle someone else’s life. I know that can be a hard pill to swallow, but it is the truth. We were given our life, and it does no good to be jealous of a life we weren’t made to handle. In wanting what someone else has, we don’t realize the bad comes with the good.

Why is it so important to overcome jealousy?

James 3:16 says “ For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and evil of every kind.”

There have been several times in my life, as in yours I am sure, where people were trying to make me look bad. Rumors were started, gossip was made, they were straight up trying to hurt me. It worked. Some of the things really hurt and, at first, I wanted to retaliate. I thought I had some serious enemies, why else would they be so bent on trying to destroy me? I realized, through the help of the Holy Spirit, that they were not enemies at all, just jealous.

It had not as much to do with me as the blessings that were in my life. They wished they were the pastor’s wife. They wish they were a leader in the church, they wished they…
They have no idea what they are wishing for!

Where there was jealousy, disorder and evil was found. These are good people, they were just jealous people. Realizing this made me go from wanting to protect myself to feeling sorry for them.

They are missing the goodness God has blessed them with by focusing on my life.

As I looked back on my life, I realized that same green-eyed monster had taken a huge hunk out of me more than once. I remembered times that it caused me to talk about someone when I shouldn’t, to try and figure out why God had blessed them and it had allowed my perspective of them to be changed – all because of jealousy.

We overcome evil by doing good. It really is that simple.

Overcome jealous thoughts by realizing you don’t have someone else’s life for a reason. Just as you are not equipped to handle someone else’s life, no one else is equipped to handle yours. Instead of being jealous, learn to appreciate what God is doing in others and what He is doing in yours.

I believe Shakespeare used the term “green” to describe jealousy because he understood that it is a sickness. One that alters our thoughts and changes our behavior.

 

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Hustle Less, Love More

I just came out of one of the most enjoyable weeks I have had in a long time! I know you are thinking, “Good for you!”. But wait, let me tell you why it was the best I have had in a LONG time!

A few months ago, I was trying to find a very large cave, hang a hammock in it and hide out for a while. In fact, I was kind of doing that. I have this great tree in my back yard and I love to sit under it and read. I felt that as I sat under this tree in the shade with the limbs and leaves hanging down all around me, I was hidden from the world. The sun would shine through and warm my face as I read. One day while enjoying my personal paradise, my aunt called. She asked what I was doing and I told her that I was sitting under my tree. She said, without knowing exactly the gravity of what she was saying to me, “God sees you under that tree.”

It occurred to me for the first time that I was also trying to hide from God. I knew He would be displeased with the level of rush I was living and for some crazy reason I thought I could get it under control before He found out. Maybe I am the only one who has these absolutely crazy bad lapses in judgement. I mean, like I of all people should know that you can’t hide from God!

For quite some time my level of hustle had been cranked all of the way up. Living with a stacked schedule, a steady stream of emails, text messages, responsibilities, a kid to take care of, meals to plan, a home to care for, an office to run, and don’t even get me started on social media. All of this will leave you with an anxious heart.

I find that the more I hustle the less I love. All of a sudden people are in the way of my hustle instead of being the focus of my life. I talked with my husband about it and we made some MAJOR life changes. I first resigned my position as Executive Pastor of Oasis Church. We realized we were both way too entrenched and I felt I was not being effective as his wife, confidant, prayer warrior and a sounding board.

What a difference!!! I have much more peace and I am much more effective in the things I am still doing at Oasis. Our home is safe, peaceful and welcoming. We had a guest stay with us a few days this week and I was able to prepare a Father’s Day meal Sunday and invite people into our home. None of this stressed me out at all; I loved every minute of it. That would not have been the case a few months ago.

As I was putting a pan of lasagna in the oven Sunday, it brought me to tears. What an honor to have all of these people in my home and serve them. Had I been living the hustle life, I would not have been able to do that! I felt in that moment the presence of God in my kitchen more than I had ever doing the millions of others things I had been doing.

Sometimes we have to let go of trying too hard, being too involved, trying to be important, conforming to the world’s way of measuring success and just love more.
Some hustle is good! But, when it gets in the way of our love, we have a problem! The world will tell you the busier you are, the better you are. God never called us to live an overwhelmed life. That is what the world beckons you to do so that you have no time to love and serve others.

(Romans 12:2) “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”

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This Could Be Your Moment

(Esther 4:14) “If you keep quiet at a time like this, deliverance and relief for the Jews will arise from some other place, but you and your relatives will die. Who knows if perhaps you were made queen for just such a time as this?”

I love the story of Esther. It seems like a biblical fairytale, at least the way it is told around American Sunday school rooms.  All little girls love the idea of a regular person becoming Queen. We love to think about the beautiful castle that Esther got to live in, the way she could stand on a balcony and watch the sun begin to kiss the gardens below as it set.  We can imagine the sound of her footprints along the stone walkways and feel the beautiful material her dresses were made of. Let’s not forget the man, the King , falling in love with her.

We often forget of the harem of women down the hallway that didn’t quite make the cut. We forget Esther was hiding who she really was. We somehow leave out the part that she was in great danger most of the time. She was probably constantly concerned that she would be discovered, looking over her shoulder every few minutes wondering if someone knew about her.

Then the time came that she was made for. We like to think that the time that we are made for as our “big moment”. The minutes in life that we actually “made it”. In Esther’s story we would like to think of her crowning moment as the time she was made for. I can imagine the day of her wedding. People were bathing her, fixing her hair, putting her makeup on, dressing her and meeting her every need. I can imagine that the palace had a buzz of excitement and celebration as a royal wedding was about to be underway. I think the minute Esther walked in to the wedding ceremony and saw the King it took her breath away. I believe for a moment, she may have thought, “This is what I was made for.”

However, this was not the moment. This was the moment that would put her in the position she needed to be in save her people. These were the moments that King was falling in love with his queen. All of this was a set up.

Her real moment was scary. She had to speak up and reveal who she really was. She had to risk everything! To stand up and tell the truth would mean possible losing her marriage, her family and her very own life. Her “such a time as this” was not full of magical fairy dust and roses. It was a heart pounding, life threatening moment.

I live for those happy moments. The walks down to our pond, seeing my family all snuggled on the couch together, sunsets on our patio, days at the beach staring at the ocean, family dinners, sitting under my favorite tree and of course Disneyworld. But, these are not the moments that I was made for. They just prepare me for the moments I was  made for.

The moments I was made for are the hard ones. The ones I have to speak up when I don’t want to, I have to forgive even when I am still broken, I have to keep going, I have to risk it all, I have to speak the truth, I have to let go or I have to step up.

I want to encourage you today if you are in a place that seems hard or maybe even scary. Perhaps, this one of the times you were made for. You are much stronger than you know and God has been preparing you so you could handle this with His help. You are not alone. Reach out to Him. Pour your heart out to Him. Rely on His strength to get you through what He is asking you to do. Our crowning moments are just to put us in the position to do the right thing when the time comes. So, straighten your crown and do the right thing even if it is terrifying. This is your moment.

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Not So Great Expectations

Ever find yourself in the the frustration gap of someone else’s expectations? The frustration gap is the gap between expectations and reality.

As a pastor’s wife, I end up there quite often. Recently, I found myself right in the middle of one of those gaps. I realized the decisions I make in those gaps can lead me down a very dangerous path.

I try so hard to close the gap that every now and then,  I wake up not knowing exactly who I am.

It is an exhausting circle and it never works. While trying to meet the expectations of one person, it goes exactly against the expectations of another. I know it will not work, and then I am the one left the most frustrated and questioning everything in life. Why do I do it? I know the answer to that question! I am a recovering people pleaser. I think I am a pretty good person. I mean sure, I have a lot of issues but who doesn’t?  I try as hard as I can to please God, I love my family, I don’t commit crimes and  I help people. I could be worse! I think if people really knew me they would like who I was and wouldn’t put all of their expectations on me. It doesn’t work. I just end up doing things I wouldn’t normally do.

The first thing you have to come to terms with is the cold hard fact that you are not perfect! I think most of us know that about ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we have come to terms with it. Hence, we have people pleasing issues.   I have found myself not saying anything for fear of someone thinking I was saying the wrong thing. I have also found myself not doing something for fear of someone thinking I shouldn’t be doing it. Guess what?  We are going to mess up. None of us are perfect. Coming to terms with it yourself will free you from trying to make everyone think you do everything right. (Not that I have mastered this.)

Next, we have to know who we are. It is much easier to fall into the trap of doing what everyone else expects of you when you don’t even know who you are. It can be hard to swallow, but we all have limitations. There are some things I can’t do at all and some things that I am not very good at.  Those things exhaust me. For years I have tried to fake my way through those things and I always end up frustrated and exhausted. Why did I do those things? Others expected them of me. Now that I have a better understanding of my own limitations, it is easier for me to not fall into those traps. But, it takes being very honest with yourself and with others.

That leads me to honesty. We need to be honest about the things we know we can’t do, shouldn’t do or any other unrealistic expectations. Learning sooner than later that you won’t bend to the expectations of overbearing people will make them back off sooner. There are certain things as a pastor’s wife that I have been doing that have not been going too well lately. I have been doing them simply because of expectations. Some expectations from others and some even from myself. I had to get honest with myself and my husband.There were a lot of things that I was pretending to love but didn’t. This was doing some major damage.  Admitting your limitations is humbling. Breaking down that pride actually makes it easier to shake off unwanted expectations.

You can not control the expectations that others put on you, but you can control what you do with them. The best people to surround yourself with are the ones that enjoy you for who you are and not who they think you should be.

I know a lot of you are like me and struggle with this. I pray that you search the heart of God and become assured of your identity. You are His and He is yours. I am learning that bending towards the expectations of others is usually not in the same direction as having a heart bent towards God. The more my heart is bent towards Him, the less I feel the need to meet the expectations of others.

It will be hard at first, even harder if you have been living your life this way for a long time. Spend time with the Lord, seek after Him. His burden is light and the load of others’ expectations are far too heavy. Go ahead and put it down so you can search after the heart of God for your life.

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