Recovering from a life-altering illness is no easy task. Imagine doing so while managing a farm and raising six children. Today’s guest, holistic health and wellness coach, Denise Sultenfuss, shares about her battle with Lyme Disease. We talk about her illness and recovery journey in this week’s podcast episode.
After navigating her own healing and recovery journey, Denise became passionate about helping others on the path toward wellness. In this conversation, we chat about Denise’s farm, how how faith and tenacity served to help her hold on during her decade-long fight against Lyme Disease, and she shares some helpful thoughts about soulful self-care.
If you’re interested in learning more about Denise and want to read her writing, please visit her website. You can also find her on Facebook or Instagram.
If something from today’s podcast episode resonated with you, I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment under today’s show notes, or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.
In today’s podcast episode, my husband Derek and I continue our conversation about technology and parenting. In the last episode, we talked about what we learned after reading The Tech-Wise Family, and in this episode we discuss the reality of managing technology in our home. Raising children is not for the weak of heart, and it’s especially challenging in the era of the Internet!
I hope this conversation is helpful. If nothing else, I hope you come away from it knowing that you’re not alone in your struggle to parent well or in managing your own use of technology!
Parenting has come with unique challenges for which I often feel unprepared. I don’t know what I expected raising children would be like, but I certainly did not anticipate many of the scenarios I’ve found myself in over the years. I grew up with one sister. One very compliant, easy to get along with sister. Then, the Lord saw fit to give me a house full of boys, all with strong personalities. Our house is anything but quiet, calm, and compliant!
With that as a backdrop, I’d love to share something the Lord taught me a few years ago. It was an encouraging and perspective-shifting message that I have needed to refer back to many times over the years. I’ve found myself reflecting back on it again after some recent parenting challenges.
On a drive home from work one day years ago, I was spending time in prayer. I find that talking with Jesus and driving go hand in hand! On this particular day I had the van to myself, and I spoke out loud, listing specific requests about my oldest child. I remember asking God to use my son’s strong will and turn him into a fine leader one day. I was on a roll, when right in the middle of my talking the Lord gently and firmly interrupted me.
Does that ever happen to you? Just like the verbal processor that I am, sometimes the Lord has to interrupt me to get a word in edgewise. This is one of the ways I know He’s speaking to me. I wouldn’t be able to interrupt myself!
In a way that only He can, the Lord gave me a picture in my mind of a plant growing in the soil. All in a flash, I knew deep in my spirit what He was telling me. He impressed on my heart that I was the soil that my children were growing in. That was my job, to be the soil. To be safe, fertile ground where they could begin to be rooted and grow into who He created them to be. I also felt His kind reprimand that it was not up to me to decide who they would grow to be. He would be the sun and the rain for them, causing them to grow in His timing and to His purposes. My job was just to be the soil.
Believe me, I did not come up with that on my own. Experiences like this with the Lord just floor me sometimes. As if to confirm it, a few months later the staff at the counseling center where I work read the book The Anatomy of the Soul by Curt Thompson. We each took a chapter to lead a discussion about in staff meeting. I was assigned the chapter on attachment, and don’t you know, the exact analogy Curt Thompson used to talk about attachment was becoming safe soil in which our children can grow.
Being the soil is not an action. Rather, it’s a posture of letting go of control. It’s creating a safe place in which my children can grow. It’s providing for their needs, and then watching the Lord do His good work in their lives.
It sounds so freeing and easy. However, over the years as parenting has put me in hard positions when I wished for an instruction manual, I have cried out to God, “What does being the soil really mean? Like, right here and now?” I wish in those moments that He would swoop in and do the disciplining for me!
Still, I am finding that just like He is forming my children, He is forming me through the process of parenting. Becoming good soil is a process too. We are always in process this side of heaven. Parents and children alike need grace.
This week, I found myself sharing this story with a couple of my friends as we met together for Bible study. I confessed a parenting dilemma I found myself in, and as a friend prayed over me, she said, “Lord, till the soil of Ginny’s heart.”
Oh, as she spoke the words, I felt my chest open up inside. I could picture Jesus turning over the compact soil of anger and shame, giving my heart room to breathe, and preparing it to be better growing space.
So, friends, if you too find yourself in a difficult season of parenting, take heart. There is enough grace to cover you and your children. Through Jesus, growth always yields a beautiful harvest.
May we allow ourselves to be freshly tilled soil.
Pause, Renew, Next: Take a deep belly breath, and allow yourself to relax. How is it freeing to think about God being the one who causes your children to thrive, rather than feeling that the full responsibility rests on your shoulders? This week, I encourage you to pray, reflect, and journal about how to be good soil for the children the Lord has placed in your home, offering gratitude for the way the Lord cares for both you and your children.
Today’s podcast is a listener request episode. After my husband, Derek, and I recorded a podcast episode last fall about technology and soul-care, it was requested that we do another episode on the same topic, but specifically related to technology use for kids and teens. So, we decided to base this conversation around a book on the topic by Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in its Proper Place.
After reading the book together, we pulled out the themes that seemed most important and relevant to us and discussed them on today’s podcast episode. If you like this conversation, make sure to check back in two weeks as we talk about the reality of our family’s use of technology.
If something from this podcast episode resonated with you, please comment below today’s show notes or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook community.
My oldest son and I sit in the van, biding time and creeping forward. It’s 3:14, and the school bell will soon ring, releasing my three youngest boys from their school day. Here we sit, just like we do every Monday, waiting in the school pick-up line. I glance at my dash board and see that I have made an error in judgment. I should have stopped for gas on my way here. The van is not yet on empty, but it will be by tomorrow morning, when I am rushing to get everyone back to school.
I inwardly sigh, preparing myself for the collective groan I will hear from the backseat when I announce we have to stop for gas. The whole carload of kids who are so ready to go home will not be happy about this little detour.
I take a deep breath and say out loud to my oldest son, “Well, it looks like we’re going to need to run by the gas station on the way home. I’m almost out of gas.”
Just as I had predicted, my son was visibly disappointed. “I just want to go home,” he said. “I’ve been gone all day, and I’m tired of being in the car.”
Yes, believe me, I get it, I thought. Going to get gas is not at the top of my joy list either. I agreed aloud with him, and then, somehow in the middle of my complaint of agreement, my narrative shifted.
I just love it when that happens.
“You know,” I said to my son, “having a car is a privilege, but cars can’t run without gas.” As a fourteen-year-old, preparing to get his drivers permit next year, this seemed an apt lesson. Fully in Mom mode now, I continued my mini lecture. “With all privilege comes responsibility. It’s part of the way it works.”
Wow. Maybe I needed to preach to myself. Sometimes I surprise myself with words of wisdom that flow in my counseling office or when I’m parenting. Often I find when that happens, I needed to hear the lesson more than the person I was speaking to. This particular afternoon, I have no idea how much of an impact the lesson made on my son, but it certainly helped to shift my thinking.
Just earlier that morning the Lord had reminded me how truly blessed I am. Sure, I complain a lot about my kids: the hard work they require, the little gratitude they show, the many messes they make, the referee they require me to be to break up fights all the time. Still, they are my blessings: full of joy and life. Yes, I long for peace and quiet, but I would never trade the life they’ve given me for one of silence. The noise and work of motherhood is just the gas pump price.
My attitude about my job is similar. I love my job. Well, most of the time. A year of counseling virtually has had me question my calling a time or two, but at the end of the day, sitting with people and hearing their stories is a tremendous privilege. Whether I see a client for one visit or for years, I had the honor of being a part of their life, of their journey, and of their healing. Paperwork, videoconferencing, and phone calls are not the joy of my job. Sometimes, these tasks make me tired, yet I would never trade the privilege of counseling for the gas pump price of the paperwork that comes with it.
I think you get the idea. The minutia of complaints we can find to focus on are the gas station stops that come with the gift of being able to drive. Driving gives us freedom. It gives us independence, and it helps us get where we want to go. However, this responsibility also comes with tune ups, frequent refuelings, insurance prices, and the occasional flat tire. Personally, I spend a lot of life trying to avoid the hard things. Sometimes even dreading the hard things. This outlook can keep me from enjoying life on the road.
Driving the road of life comes with a lot of potholes and gas station stops, but let’s not forget to enjoy the wind in our hair and the reason we’re driving in the first place. What an absolute privilege it is to be alive and placed in the roles God has given us: our jobs, our families, our ministries, and our friendships. Like me, I hope you take the time to preach to yourself and refocus on the gifts you’ve been given, rather than the hardships that accompany it.
Now, remind me of that lesson next week when I need to fill up again.
Pause, Renew, Next: Be still and take a deep, cleansing breath. Take time to meditate, pray, or journal as you reflect. What have you recently found yourself complaining about in life? How are those responsibilities part of the privilege of the gifts you’ve been given in life? How can you shift your thinking and find gratitude this week? As you think about it, offer these findings as prayers of thanks.
May we have eyes to see the gifts we’ve been given rather than just the work that accompanies the gifts.
Today’s podcast episode is double the fun, because I got to interview not one friend, but two: Nate and Joni Horne. Joni and Nate are full of energy, joy, and life. They are pranksters and a load of fun, but they are also deeply in love with Jesus. They are the parents of two boys and are camp directors at Valley Haven Camp and Retreat Center. It was a joy to interview them about their heart for Valley Haven, a camp in rural North Carolina serving underprivileged youth and children.
In this episode, Nate and Joni tell their story, explaining how they met and how the Lord moved them to become directors of Valley Haven. They share some of the challenges of camp leadership, what the Lord is teaching them, and the rewards of camp ministry as well. Oh, and definitely stick around to hear their fun facts! You will certainly come away from this episode encouraged and inspired.
If you’d like to know more about Valley Haven, or reach out to volunteer or donate, please check out their website: valleyhavencamp.com. You can also follow Valley Haven on Facebook or Instagram. I am excited about what the Lord is doing at Valley Haven, and I know Nate and Joni would love your support.
If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe and share! If something from this podcast episode resonated with you, comment below, or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.
After two years of podcasting, I thought it’d be fun to do an episode all about the inner workings of the Pause Renew Next Podcast. So, I asked my community, “What do you want to know about podcasting and the behind the scenes stuff of PRN?” I then compiled many of these questions and answered them honestly. Maybe a little too honestly…
Podcasting is so fun, and I love being able to let my listening community in on some of the little known facts of the podcast. I answer questions about compiling episodes, starting a podcast, technology stressors, embarrassing moments, my spiritual takeaways, and more!
During today’s podcast, I reference a few previous episodes. I’ve linked to them here, if you’d like to go back and give them a listen.
Practicing yoga brings a host of physical and mental benefits, including slowing down, breathing deeply, becoming more grounded, increasing flexibility, and developing muscle tone, to name a few. It can also be helpful for stress management. So, in this episode, it was a pleasure to sit down with yoga instructor and author Miranda Jo Davis to talk about her journey into the yoga world.
Miranda Jo has practiced yoga for over twenty years and has traveled around the world in her training and education. In our conversation, we talk about some of the spiritual pitfalls that can be found in yoga and how she has learned to navigate the yoga world from a Christian perspective. Miranda Jo now incorporates Scripture and Biblical meditation into her practice and instruction. She also shares about some of the ways that practicing yoga has benefited her and why she loves to teach and instruct others.
Dr. Sullivan was my honors English teacher during my freshman year of high school. She was a unique individual to say the least. She dressed like a left-over hippie, was quick to laugh, and didn’t take life too seriously. She could have been a college professor, but for some reason, unknown to me, had made herself at home among high school students instead. She dove into great literature with her students, and her classroom was an open forum for discussions. However, when a student would stray too far off topic, or try to change the subject, she would laugh a little and announce their answer was, “Irrelevant!” With that quick and succinct nudge, she would direct the student back on topic.
Relevant: closely connected or appropriate to what is being done or considered; appropriate to the current time, period, or circumstances
Being relevant feels especially important in today’s fast-paced, social media-fueled world. It’s easy to catch the FOMO (fear of missing out) bug, when we see others doing, saying, or posting all the right things.
Because of Pause, Renew, Next, I have accounts on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Each of these mediums is curated differently, but being relevant is oh so important on each of these platforms. On Twitter, one must have something witty or poignant to say, especially if it’s relevant to the latest news. On Instagram, you must curate the most beautiful photos with the most meaningful taglines and captions, or you must have the most authentic, natural-looking selfies which are never truly authentic, because they are, after-all, selfies. On Facebook, you must make the correct pronouncement, tag the right people, or post the perfect meme to receive likes, comments, and shares. These likes, retweets, shares, and comments affirm that you are, indeed, relevant. That your voice, your pictures, and your opinions have a place at the table.
Now, I have never been a popular person: not in elementary school, not in middle school, not in high school, and not in college. Sure, I’m well-liked, but never popular. Actually, I am perfectly okay with that. Popularity can fall quickly. All it takes is one wrong move, and the crowd can turn against you. No thanks, I’d rather stay away from that kind of pressure.
In the same way that popular kids in a high school decide who’s cool and who’s not, cancel culture has recently stepped onto the scene to declare who is relevant, and who is no longer relevant. In today’s world, we can all, in some way, curate our own conversation, picking online and in real life the people we choose to keep at the table, thereby choosing our own discussion and our own participants.
Enter Jesus. You guys, I have never been more in love with Him than I have been lately. There are many people who have much to say about Him. Some of those people have recently been cancelled. Some of them may deserve to be cancelled. Jesus, however, can speak for Himself. He never disappoints. He never fails, and he is certainly never irrelevant. His words ring true, and they are always on point. He brought people to the table that the Pharisees of his day pronounced irrelevant. He chose rag-tag disciples, a crude band of brothers, and discipled them into greatness.
What Jesus is teaching me lately is to walk in step with His Spirit, at His pace. To be relevant, we often feel pressure to respond immediately and correctly to the pressures at hand. Jesus, however, is never hurried. He is measured in His responses. People were full of chaos around him, asking for healings, touching him, following him, and pressuring him. In response, he never worried; he never rushed. He didn’t curate the perfect letter or meme to respond to their accusations. No, he prayed. He followed His Father’s orders. He took time to love on the people in his path… even those who were not popular or relevant. He did not worry about what people thought of him. He listened to His Father’s instructions only. This is what it means to be relevant.
There will always be news cycles, disasters, cultural changes, and important social issues. You may very well be called to respond to them. You may be called to speak up. However, when you follow Jesus, you can know that there is no pressure or worry to do so immediately. The world rushes to reaction, but if you don’t curate the perfect response in a timely fashion, you are not irrelevant.
Mamas, as you care for your children, you are relevant in God’s Kingdom. Teachers, as you faithfully make lesson plans, you are relevant in God’s Kingdom. Counselors, as you sit with the brokenhearted, you are relevant in God’s Kingdom. Pastors, as you teach and shepherd the flock, you are relevant in God’s Kingdom. Retail workers, as you stock shelves, you are relevant in God’s Kingdom.
There is no popularity in God’s kingdom. There is no hurry in God’s kingdom. There is no pressure there. His words are always relevant, and as we learn to walk in step with Him, He will use us in timely ways to minister to the people in our paths. And that, I am learning, is what it means to be relevant.
Pause, Renew, Next: Take a moment to be still and know that He is God. (Psalm 46:10) Breathe deeply and rest. Now, stop and consider in what ways you have felt pressure lately to be relevant. How can you begin to shift your thinking, your worry, and your perspective as you think about the way that Jesus responds to pressure.
May we learn to walk in step with the Spirit and be eternally relevant to a world who is rushing.
It was a joy to have an old friend of mine, Naomi DeBord Bivins, on the podcast! Naomi and I met quite a few years ago, and for a time she led a Mom’s life group that I was a part of. I always enjoy talking with Naomi. She is full of wisdom and insight, and I was excited to hear what the Lord is teaching her lately.
Naomi is a wife, mother of three, and co-founder and pastor of The Foundation Church in Wilkesboro, NC, where she serves with her husband, Andy. Naomi has a passion for studying and teaching the Word of God. She also has a gift for inviting others into community.
During our conversation, we chat about her experience of leading a church through a pandemic and what community in Christ looks like in the midst of social distancing. We also talk about a recent article that Naomi wrote for Christianity Today: When A Christian Admits to Opioid Addiction, and she shares how the Lord has changed her thoughts and heart about addiction and recovery. Currently, her church is studying Revelation, and Naomi discusses what the Lord is teaching her about how to “overcome.”
You will definitely come away from this conversation inspired and encouraged! If you enjoy this episode, please share it with a friend. If something from this podcast resonates with you, I’d love to hear about it. Comment under today’s show notes, or join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.
May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.
Pause, Renew, Next!
*During our conversation, a TedTalk about addiction was mentioned. You can find that TedTalk here.