Archive for October, 2015

Rest? I Don’t Have Time to Rest!

4 comments Written on October 27th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Cathy Kaminski is lead pastor at Trinity Community Church in Cincinnati, OH. Cathy is a coffee lover, young adult fiction reader, stubborn disciple of Christ and redeemed child of God.


mission meadows 1This past week I had the opportunity to spend a few days in one of the most beautiful places on earth, Camp Mission Meadows in Jamestown, NY. Amidst the turning foliage and cool waters of Chautauqua Lake, I would like to say my heart was filled with gratitude while surrounded with such beauty. Unfortunately, my countenance was a bit closer to stubborn than grateful.

“I’m too busy to rest!” I head pounded. I had this amazing opportunity to attend the Fall Pastors’ retreat for the Great Lakes Conference, but instead of engage in the practice of rest I fought it. My mind raced, my heart turned hard and I was enraged at God that my productive week was interrupted. I am a planner. I strategically order my life, my work, and my day to day schedule to maximize impact. And while I am often ahead work wise, this week I was nothing but. The idea of sitting with God instead of doing God’s work was stressing my already anxious heart.

mission meadows 2But there is tremendous irony in that last statement. The idea of spending time with God instead of doing church work was stressing me out? How foolish can I be? Do I actually think I can live a life of faith, of praise, of worship without Him? Do I actually think I can lead others to do the same without intimacy with my Creator, Redeemer & Sustainer? My blatant flaw was made visible to me when this thought came to mind: “I’m too busy to worship You right now!”

That’s when it hit me. I can’t pour from an empty glass. Busyness is not a reality, but a state of mind. A lack of priorities. There would always be things to do, sermons to prepare, people to visit, but how productive can I truly be if my heart is not tuned to sing His praise?

mission meadows 3I would like to say I jumped head first into prayer, contemplation & rest for the remainder of my time at Mission Meadows. But that would be a lie. My stubborn heart continued to fight me. However, the quiet practice of daily submitting and laying down my burdens, worries & fears won out. After all, rest is disciple. It is a choice we must make. A priority in the midst of a busy & chaotic existence. The King of kings bids us come. To lie down in green pastures. Rest beside quiet water. So that He may restore our souls.

I hope I always make that choice. And even with a stubborn heart, God gently directs me to put Him first and trust. So I choose trust, and anxiety…and trust again!

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3 Reasons Being A Mom Makes Me A Better Pastor – Part 3

2 comments Written on October 21st, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

imageAbby Jones is the pastor of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Stromsburg, NE. She earned an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary in 2012. Abby is mom to Stella, Lucy, Mabel and Harper. Read more of Abby’s writing at

This is part 3 of a series about why moms make great pastors. Check out the previous posts here

3. Being a mom has made me a hospitable pastor

The first Sunday at our new church I walked into the nursery to leave my toddler, and she ran to a pile of raggedy stuffed animals. She grabbed and kissed and wiped her nose all over them. There was a dusty collection of toys, puzzles with missing pieces, and little lambs peeling off the border on the wall. It didn’t take long before I realized no one was coming to staff the room.

First impressions are hard to shake, and most people list “children’s area” as one of the top reasons they’ll return to a church next week. As a mom, I have a special radar for all of the ways we might be attracting or scaring away young families. As our church works to be a welcoming community, focused on growing our own disciples, I am able to advocate for nursery care and intergenerational worship. I have been able to offer hospitality to a young nursing mom at a funeral service, and visit a new mom in the hospital where I knew just the right questions to ask.

I have been able to see holes in the system that would most likely go unnoticed if I were not a mom. I am bringing attention to the need for child safety policies and a thoughtful scope and sequence for children’s Sunday School. Being in the thick of motherhood, I am aware of just how foundational children’s ministry is to the future of the Church. Not only does this attract young families and impact the lives of children today, but it is also an investment in future disciples and leaders of the Church.

BONUS: When we have new families over to our house for dinner, our girls eagerly await the arrival of new friends! They pull out tricycles and bicycles, doll houses and trains. All the while, I am able to visit with their parent(s).

A lot of times, in working to expand God’s kingdom, my girls do a better job. They aren’t influenced by the boundary markers we have put up. They aren’t inhibited by what other’s think. The kingdom belongs to them, and every day they teach me how to be a better member of it, making me a better pastor!



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3 Reasons Being A Mom Makes Me A Better Pastor – Part 2

1 Comment » Written on October 20th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

imageAbby Jones is the pastor of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Stromsburg, NE. She earned an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary in 2012. Abby is mom to Stella, Lucy, Mabel and Harper. Read more of Abby’s writing at

This is part 3 of a series about why moms make great pastors. Check out the introduction to the series here

Reason 2: Being a mom has made me a focused leader

Imagine a fleet of 20 boats out at sea, with a limited supply of fuel and resources. We could send all 20 boats on their way with the hope of getting to shore, each with their own idea of how to get there. In the end, the 20 boats might fan out in different directions, eventually run out of fuel and float aimlessly in the water. The other option is sending out just 3 boats with all of the fuel and supplies needed to get to shore, handing each with a map of exactly how to get there.

One of the best things about a collection of people working together is that there are a lot of good ideas. One of the worst things about a collection of people working together is that there are a lot of good ideas. Ideas are great, but people are busy, over-committed and burnt out. Have you noticed?

Being a mom of little ones has helped me to see the value of focus.

The last thing church should be is another box to check on the “to-do” list, or another stressor on the calendar. Church shouldn’t be something people are trying to squeeze in between soccer practice and committee meetings. It’s time to simplify. It’s time to quit trying to do it all, and figure out how to do excel at a few things.

This means getting good at saying “no”, and you probably know that saying “no” can make you more enemies than friends. As a mom, I’ve learned to be good at saying “no”. My girls have great ideas for building forts, designing craft projects and imagining up scenarios to act out. In the evening, we usually have an hour after dinner time before we have to get ready for bed. That isn’t enough time to make a fort, sock puppets and dress up in character. We could begin each, and quit halfway, or we can choose one activity to really invest in for the evening. Inevitably, I have to say “no” to some really fun and creative ideas.

As a leader, I’ve learned that saying “no” actually means we are able to do more. Being able to focus on a vision means we are able to do less with more impact, attract more people and have more energy for the things that matter.

BONUS: My girls have given me a compelling reason to stop. While our culture is frantically operating a 24/7 routine, being a mom has taught me to have good boundaries and find balance in my life. I value the time I have with my girls, and I am able to resist the temptation to fill every minute noise. I have learned a healthy rhythm, which gives me more clarity to lead.

Check back tomorrow for reason 3!



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3 Reasons Being A Mom Makes Me A Better Pastor – Part 1

Post a Comment » Written on October 20th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

imageAbby Jones is the pastor of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Stromsburg, NE. She earned an MDiv from North Park Theological Seminary in 2012. Abby is mom to Stella, Lucy, Mabel and Harper. Read more of Abby’s writing at

It was the end of August 2012, and I was seven months pregnant. My husband, two daughters and I loaded up a U-haul truck and watched Chicago disappear in the rearview mirror. We drove west 700 miles until we hit Nebraska. We were on a grand adventure to serve my first call, a solo pastor position of a rural congregation.

I still remember the Skype interview with five members of the Executive Board. The whole day leading up to the interview I was filled with anxiety about knowing the appropriate time in the interview to let the cat out of the bag. They would have to know I was pregnant, and I was convinced it would be a deal breaker.

Fast-forward to a little over a year into the call, when I discovered God was surprising us with a fourth baby. In my shock and awe of God’s timing, I was once again filled with anxiety about how to let the congregation know I would need a second maternity leave. My second maternity leave in under two years. In my first two years as their pastor, nonetheless.

For the longest time I had guilt about scheduling meetings around tucking little ones into bed. It felt inconvenient that dinner as a family trumped non-emergent evening care. I was putting in well over 40 hours a week, and yet there was still so much that I wasn’t able to do. Admittedly, most of which were things I had dreamed up. I had to learn to let good ideas die, and visions of programs and projects not see the light of day. There were meetings and appearances that I just had to say no to, because there were not enough hours in the day/week/month/year.

I began to worry that my family was a burden. I saw my family and congregation competing for my time, and I just didn’t have enough to go around. I felt guilty about the time I didn’t have to give to my congregation, but over time I have come to realize that being a mom makes me a better pastor. In fact, my girls have taught me that being a mom isn’t a burden; it’s a bonus! I’ve learned to see my family and congregation not at odds with one another, but working together to expand the Kingdom of God. While there are a lot of reasons moms make great pastors, here are the top three.

Reason 1: Being a mom has made me a compassionate disciple

In Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, the Grinch’s heart grew three sizes when he realized the true meaning of Christmas. When I became a mom, my heart grew at least three sizes. The sharp, rigged angles softened in all the right ways. Love, mercy and grace became real, as I learned to embrace and embody the image of God that I bear.

Growing up evangelical, we didn’t talk much about God’s feminine attributes, and when we did they were relegated to the Holy Spirit. We must have skipped over the passages where God is described as a mother, because I certainly don’t remember reading them in church. Even today, I wonder if some would send me packing if I prayed to “Mother God” during the pastoral prayer.

Motherhood has not only made me a more compassionate disciple, but it has helped me reflect more fully the image of God. While I’m certainly not saying only mothers reflect a full image of God, there are unique ways in which we are all designed to reflect our Creator, I am saying that mothers are able to reveal a piece of God’s identity that gets neglected.

While the love that I have for my girls is imperfect, it is all-consuming, breaking my heart and filling it full at the very same time. God is like a mother comforting her children (Is 66:13). Although my capacity for mercy falls short, I have shown it to my children when they have disobeyed, made mistakes and disappointed my expectations. God is like an eagle, hovering over her young, spreading her wings to catch and carry her young (Deut 32:11). Despite my flawed ability to extend grace, I am always loyal, faithful and tethered to my girls. My identity will always be influenced by my role as their mother. God is like a woman who cannot forget the child she nursed (Is 49:15).

Sometimes my girls don’t know what they are asking for, and need someone to help them find what it is they are looking for. I have learned to understand an unspoken language. There are times when I talk with people who don’t know what it is they are seeking, what it is that is hurting them, or what it is that they have found. Being a mom, I am in-tune to these needs, and I’m able to extend compassion for all people, no matter life circumstance. While I am a broken image, I pray that God’s love, mercy and grace are shining through the cracks.

BONUS: I take my girls to the retirement home, and it brightens the resident’s day. They sing songs, dance and bring energy wherever they go. On Sunday mornings, our baby is passed back and forth between adults and youth, men and women. She makes everyone laugh as she chatters and toddles around.

Check back tomorrow for reason 2!



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How I Got To See Pope Francis

3 comments Written on October 13th, 2015     
Filed under: Testimonies and Stories

Evelmyn photoEvelmyn Ivens works at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) in Chicago and graduated from North Park Theological Seminary in 2013 with a MA in Theological Studies. Evelmyn was born in Mexico and moved to the United States during her teenage years; she has lived in Los Angeles, CA, Washington, DC, and Chicago, IL. Enjoys traveling and learning about other cultures. She’s passionate about issues of immigration, hunger, poverty, and human trafficking.

A couple of weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to watch the speech of Pope Francis right outside the U.S. Congress. Myself along with thousands of people waited for hours just to get a glimpse of this fascinating man. It was an experience of a lifetime, not everyday you get to see a Pope! My interest for Pope Francis started since the day he was elected, I remember I was working on my thesis and had to take a break, turned on the TV and there it was, such a historical moment. It gave me the chills to see how this Latin American religious leader had become the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Off course I was watching the news in Spanish and even the reporters were very excited. I eventually, turned off the TV and continue writing, however, I was very excited! I knew that this election would bring change in the religious world.

I had shared in previous posts that I had grown up cultural Catholic in Mexico, and after I had my encounter with Jesus, I resented the Catholic church. Even in some Hispanic evangelical circles people continue to see the Catholic church with resentment and distrust. However, throughout my faith journey I had met and became friends with very devout Catholics, even my grandmother was an extraordinary woman faith and Catholic. My faith journey and my seminary education have really shaped the way I understand my own identity as a Latina evangelical, which has a close connection with Catholicism. When I was in seminary I came to really appreciate my Catholic upbringing, which is something that continues to influence my life.

When I found out that the Pope Francis would visit the U.S. I very much wanted to be there. I wanted to hear first-hand what he would say, especially, when he talks about the poor, redistribution of resources, immigration, refugees, human trafficking, etc. It ended up being such an adventure, but I got a ticket to be on the west lawn of Capitol Hill. I flew to Washington, DC and waited for more than four hours to see him after his speech before Congress. There was such a great energy, everyone seemed to be very excited, young, old, people from very diverse backgrounds, we all wanted to see him! After his speech, which by the way I would encourage you to read it because he said some very interesting things. Pope Francis came out to the balcony, he greeted us in Spanish and the crowd went wild! He prayed for us and asked us to pray for him, he even said that if we didn’t know how to pray, to send him good thoughts.

Wherever your thoughts are about the Catholic church there’s no denying that this man has given a fresh air not only to the Catholic church but to the Church. I’m just very grateful that I got to experience this, I think of it as a reconciliation between both my Catholic roots and my evangelical living.

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