Always Growing Up- by Angel

When I was younger I remember thinking “When I grow up I want to…” The end of that thought changed often as I grew and my interests evolved and my knowledge of things broadened. I also remember that I thought adults in their thirties had ‘peaked,’ that they knew all they would know and they were exactly where they would be in their lives forever (careers, money, cars, etc.)

Fast forward to me today, well into my thirties (we will leave out the part about me about to exit that decade.) I most certainly do not have it all figured out and the only thing I know for sure is that I still do not know what I want to be when I grow up.

Please do not mistake that statement as me being immature (although sometimes I am that too) or that I am unhappy with were I have landed so far. I am happy to say I am still growing up. For me, this simply means that I do not believe God is done with me yet. I am always learning from those around me. I am always striving to do better in whatever I do while expanding my knowledge in all areas of life.

Lately, I have had the chance to have several self reflection moments. I would encourage each of you to take a moment to look back on your recent actions, words, and thoughts. I do not always enjoy what I discover about myself but I do thank God that he has the grace for my mistakes, my flaws, and gives me the chance to grow and try again.

Today, I just wanted to remind each of you that it is ok to not be perfect. Take each stumble as a chance to learn and continuing growing. Growing up is a journey, not a destination. Besides, what fun would it be if we had it all figured out by 30…or 40.

P.S.- Any guesses on the ages of the pictures above? I thank God for puberty and better fashion trends. What were we thinking with all that hair?! HA!

Angel

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Real Talk -by Angel

040416_ls_lipreading_freeHave you ever said something to someone in passing and then find out later you offended that person? Have you had someone say something to you, that was not intended to be hurtful, however you walk away with your feelings hurt? How many times have you had a conversation with someone and when they bring it up later, you do not even remember the words you spoke?

I have spent some time reflecting on these points. I have taken the critique of those I trust on my communication skills to heart. I have looked up verses on what God commands of my speaking; there are tons of bible verses on how we should speak.

Speaking comes in many forms: verbal, email, text, and social media.  Many of us have heard how texting is great way to misinterpret what the other person is trying to say. Another great quote I have read is ‘We listen to reply, not to understand.’

What does all this have to do with anything? Simply that I want to encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your speech (in all forms). Are you representing God in your daily speech? Are you being kind with your words?  I promise you that words hurt and last longer than any bruise that can be seen.

Today, as I continue to reflect on how I speak to and with others I am reminded of what I strive for: I want my speech to always be gracious and seasoned with salt, so that I know how to answer each person the way that best reflects how God would answer. I only want to speak positively and honestly with a gentleness that lets others know my heart.

I hope your day is amazing and your words are kind, helpful and true!

Angel

Friend Angel on Facebook or follow her on twitter @AngelLayher
Follow Journey Church on Twitter @Journey_MO

A Step Forward — by Angel

StepForward_Layher“He is not going to make it.”

Those were the words the doctor spoke; those were the words we heard as the room fell completely silent followed by a chaos of tears, shock and utter disbelief.

So fast forward a week … the hardest and longest days we were to experience. The week that seemed to creep by and each day presented itself with harder decisions and more and more silence. The funeral, a very beautiful celebration of life is over, the cards and texts and phone calls have stopped. Now what? What happens next?

Now is the time to take a step forward. For each person in our family, this means something different. Personally, for me, I had to take a step back, reflect on what just happened, take a long and slow breath, take a moment to pray (even when I felt like I had no words to say) and then I was ready.

The first step was just that, taking the step. I have to determine what our new normal will be. I just lost my Dad. Yes, he was technically my father-in-law, but in all ways, he was my Dad, too. My husband just lost his Dad, my girls lost their grandpa, and my mom (mother-in-law) lost her mate in life. How do I keep moving forward and help my family to do the same?

This was the lead of our family. He was our guide when we did not know what to do next; he was Mr. Fix It when our stuff broke; he was our laugh when we just needed to laugh, he was a huge part of our hearts and now he is gone.

For me, I found taking a step forward was little easier because I knew God was right beside me. He was ready to listen when I wanted to cry. He was able to take it when I was mad, ready to remind me that my Dad was now with Him and He knew if I was willing, I could find comfort in His words.

I am by no way suggesting this is an easy time. It is actually quite difficult. Everyone around me is continuing with life as normal while I have an empty feeling that only time and trusting in God can heal. I do, however, know that my Dad is now resting in the amazing arms of Jesus and I will see him again one day. Until then, I will find comfort and strength in God’s words and through the amazing memories we made together. I thank God that he blessed me with 22 unforgettable years with such an amazing man.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Matthew 5:4

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
John 16:33

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:7

Empty Eggs — by Angel

EggHunt_LayherEaster Egg Hunts are everywhere. Where to take your little guys and girls to find the candy and hopefully win some prizes is what on the mind of many parents. At Journey, our egg hunt is Saturday, March 26, at 4pm (shameless plug inserted nicelyJ) Our egg hunt is a different than most by one small thing, our eggs are … empty! GASP! What … empty eggs? But we want what is inside, not the hard boring outer egg.

Now rest assured, we are not so cruel that we let your kiddos walk away empty-handed. Each child will actually leave with a fairly big bag of candy (sorry parents J) and some will find the egg with prize tickets and win a prize as well. But, this simple concept of empty eggs has me thinking about us as people.

In general, we want to know people. What are they like on the inside, what do they hide with their “shells” that by just looking we do not see? How do we find the treasure hidden on the inside of our “eggs”? Once time has been invested we, as humans, let down our shells and allow others to see the inside. This is not always an easy task for everyone.

Have you ever met that person who just seems to be so guarded and the walls are just too thick to crack. Take a moment and think about the struggles they must have faced and the hurt they have experienced to get them to that point. Maybe you are that person.

Today, I just want to encourage two things:

  • One, bring your little guys to our egg hunt on Saturday, March 26, at 4pm in the backyard at Journey Church.
  • Two, take a moment to look inside your shell. Are you letting your treasure show and then remember to look past the outside of others. I assure you no one is really completely empty; their inside rewards just may be shared in a different way.

“Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us.”

2 Timothy 1:14 (NIV)

Happy Easter.

Angel

Unaided — by Angel

Unaided_LayherHow have you gone this long in your life unaided? That was the question from my ENT (Ear, Nose & Throat doctor) when he told me I needed to get a hearing aid. It really stopped me in my tracks and made me think. I was born completely deaf in my right ear and partially in my left. My left ear has about 12 percent hearing in a specific range, but that hearing has nerve damage so I hear incorrectly, (i.e. you say plain, I hear rain.)

Now, if you know me at all and have had conversations with me, you are most likely saying “I had no idea you could not hear.” You may stop and recall times that I smiled like an idiot for a moment and looked lost but for the most part answered your questions or kept the conversation going fairly well. This is because even though I am not able to hear, I could speech read very well.

I know the tricks to “keep up” and appear I know what is being said at all times. I know how to listen for key words; I know to stand on a certain side when you are speaking; and if all else fails I know how to say the words my family dread most … “what?” Either way, I could live life and most people not even know I am deaf.

My unaided deafness compared to my aided deafness is like night and day. After getting my aid, I realized just how much I was missing. I did not know when you shift gears in your car it makes a click, that lights in an office hum and I did not know the ice maker in the freezer makes noise. While these are simple unimportant noises that most normal hearing people simply block out, it was mind boggling to me how many noises I just did not know about. My brain was truly overwhelmed by noise for the first few weeks.

So the point in all this (yes, I actually have one): My unaided deafness could go unnoticed by most because I could “pretend” to have hearing. However, my aided deafness opened a new world for me. I can have a conversation and not feel clueless as to what was really going on. I still struggle, but much less and feel more equipped and confident to have a conversation.

This made me think of life in general, people can go through life “unaided’ or without God and others may not even know it and more importantly the person does not even realize what they are missing. I could appear to be a good person, I could even say things like “I will pray for you,” I could even come to church every week. But, am I praying, am I chasing God, am I living by his commandment or just pretending so others assume I am? If we are fully chasing God and pursing a real relationship with Him, then of course he will give us the tools to aid us in this life.

The Bible tells us to be ready but if we continue without allowing God to aid us in the fight, we are missing out and we will not succeed. We must put on our armor and we must help others to do the same.

Praying you are aided with all God has to offer as you walk through your day!

Ephesians 6:11-18 (NIV)

11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people

1 John 4:20 (NIV)

20 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

Angel

Happy Thanksgiving, Family

Thanksgiving_LayherThis is the time of year that we all look for the many reasons we are thankful. We find ourselves reflecting on the year that is rapidly coming to end. So, in keeping with that tradition, the Journey Church Staff would like to say ‘Thank You’ to each of you for another wonderful year.

We are so thankful to call you each ‘family.’

Thank you to those who attend every week. Thank you to those who park our cars and open the doors. Thank you to the greeters who welcome us with a smile and those at the Info Center for always having the answers.

Thank you for the warm coffee and yummy donuts at the Cafe. Thank you for ushering us to our seats and assisting us with our needs. Thank you for turning on the lights, monitoring the sound and putting the words on the screen for us to sing to. Thank you for the music, thank you for the message, thank you for loving our kiddos. Thank you for cleaning the bathrooms and vacuuming the floors. And for everything else in between that we have forgotten or didn’t think of. It ALL matters!

THANK YOU to each and every one of you who call Journey Church home. We are Thankful for YOU!

Angel (and the entire Journey Staff)

Take a look at this video (one of my personal favorites on Thankfulness) …

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TSfmzAsiPc4

Take The Time — by Angel

TakeTheTime_LayherIt’s 7:20 a.m., and I have been awake since 5:50 a.m. I have checked TimeHop, Instagram and Facebook; taken a shower, got my kiddos up, dressed, fed and dropped off at school; decided what will be for dinner tonight and set the meat out to defrost (spaghetti, yum J). I ran an errand, played a game of Pet Rescue Sage, checked the schedule for the week and communicated to the kiddos who is going where, when and how, and am ready to settle in at work for the day.

Sounds like a productive morning so far. I have got everything organized and ready. I have taken care of everyone’s need for a successful start to their day. I can now fully concentrate on the task of my ‘job.’

When I reflect on what I have done so far today, I ask myself this very important question: “What have you done today?” Seems silly since I read the above list as I have done quite a bit and it’s still early. However, what have I REALLY done? Hang on, this is the uncomfortable part …

I turned off the phone notification that said ‘read my bible app for 5 minutes,’ I hit snooze on my alarm for an extra 10 minutes instead of praying and talking to God, I rushed through the task of the morning instead of praying with my kiddos, I thought about how tired I was in the shower and what was on the schedule for the week instead of listening for what God may want to say. Let’s be real … I was too busy with “being productive” and I did not leave room for Him.

So, this is not a ‘beat-yourself-up-for-trying-to-have-a-productive-day’ or get all the things we are responsible for done kind of thing, but rather an encouragement.

  • I encourage you to start your day with a prayer; it can be quick “thanks God for waking me up and giving me responsibilities to take care of.”
  • I encourage you to pray with and for your kids (the school hallways can be a scary and overwhelming place).
  • Take time for yourself to just listen (the shower is a great place to just listen, no words needed).
  • I encourage you to look on the bible app before you look at the overwhelming amount of social media at your fingertips; Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will wait.
  • Mostly, I want to encourage you to keep God in the center of it all.

I can assure you the ‘task’ of the day will get done, so do the MOST important thing and spend some time with your God, every day!

Angel

Friend Angel on Facebook or follow Journey Church on Twitter @Journey_MO