Friday, December 30, 2011

GIVING in to Addiction

According to an article in Psychology Today by Stephen Mason, Ph.D., only 10 – 15% of the population have an “addictive personality” disorder resulting in out-of-control habits without the simple judgment of knowing when to stop. For the other 85% - 90% of the population who do not have addictive personality disorder, they can have one drink without having 10. They can play one or two hands of black jack at a casino and (weather they are up or down) walk away. They can come home from the hospital and take the two Vicodin per day as prescribed and not get addicted to prescription pain killers.

I’ve never thought of myself as having an addictive personality. I have a fair amount of self-discipline so it’s not that hard for me to break a habit (or just not start one) if I put my mind to it. But sometimes there are compulsions you aren’t terribly motivated to “put your mind to” to stop because it makes you feel good to do it. If you could stop and you choose not to, is that addiction?

An example might be people who are addicted to exercise (I wish this were my problem). Often a companion symptom of Anorexia, people can get addicted to working out because of the endorphin rush they get and with addictive personality, they just want more and more of that endorphin infusion, so they exercise to excess (and even good things, in excess, can be harmful).

There is one area in my life where I can relate to the addictive personality experience, getting excessive pleasure out of that endorphin rush of doing something over and over again that makes you feel good  and 85% of the population just doesn’t get it and may never experience the pleasure the way you do…

According to an article in the NY Sun, universities and independent research groups have studied the psychology of GIVING and concluded that people who give (time, money, items, blood) are 3 times more likely to consider their lives “very happy” as compared to those who do not give as a part of their lifestyle.

“A number of studies have researched exactly why charity leads to happiness. The surprising conclusion is that giving affects our brain chemistry. For example, people who give often report feelings of euphoria, which psychologists have referred to as the "Helper's High." They believe that charitable activity induces endorphins that produce a very mild version of the sensations people get from drugs like morphine and heroin.”

I have to admit, by those descriptions, I qualify. I get an endorphin high from giving (volunteering) my time to others and adrenaline rush from seeing that bi-weekly contribution come out of my bank account to Fair Oaks Church which supports the cause of Christ and the work of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps it’s the natural competitive nature if the “NT” temperament, but I really do get a jolt out of getting my year-end contribution statements and seeing that I gave more this year than last year. It’s a goal – a competition with myself – to find new efficiencies (budget and schedule) that enable me to give more.

In that context, you’ll have to mark me in the 10-15% group – addicted to giving.

There’s another percentage you often hear related to charitable giving – it’s the 80/20 rule… that 20% of the people are doing 80% of the total giving. I don’t know that to be specifically true at Fair Oaks Church, but I’d be willing to bet it’s close… and it’s heartbreaking.

There so much more we could be doing for the Kingdom of God, if more people were giving. How many more of the lost could we reach for the cause of Christ? Howabout Biblical obedience? How about God’s promise and the blessing that comes from putting Him first in your finances? And I’m not just talking about the endorphin blessing of feeling good about what you’re doing, but a real, tangible, measurable blessing from trusting God with your money.

Every so often Pastor Stokes will put out his Malachi 3:10-12 challenge - that if you commit to faithfully tithe 10% of your gross income to Fair Oaks Church for one year and you do not see God’s tangible blessing in your life, Fair Oaks Church will write you a check back to refund that tithe. As someone who has been faithful tithing for years, I can honestly say that there is not one time where I felt that 10% would have been better in my hands than in God’s. My faithfulnessreturned to me 10 fold and I give God all the glory. God can do more with 10% than you can do with the remaining 90% - guaranteed.

Not ready for that big of a leap of faith? How about something more relevant to the calendar… many people will celebrate the New Year with a bottle of Champagne. Why not take that same amount of money that you might have spent on that bubbly and consider making a one-time gift to Fair Oaks Church for the same amount? If research proves to be true, you could get that same warm endorphin rush from GIVING that you might get from the glass of champagne. I can’t offer you a refund policy, but I can offer you a nice convenient way to give online by CLICKING HERE and, of course, if you do it before midnight on New Year’s Eve, you could claim it as a deduction on your 2011 taxes.

Just as you excel in everything-- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-- see that you also excel in this grace of giving. - 2 Cor 8:7

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Faster than the Speed of Growing Up

Nothing will point out how fast time is flying than the annual influx of photo Christmas cards from family and friends. I confess that I do love photo Christmas cards and tend to keep them up on the fridge year round. This makes it even more obvious how quickly everyone’s kids are growing up when I take down last year’s cards to put up this year’s cards.

As a young parent, I remember it feeling like my baby went from nursing to rice cereal and from crawling to cruising at the speed of light. But nothing made my baby grow up faster in the shortest period of time than bringing home my second baby. When I left for the hospital to deliver his brother, he was my baby. When I came home after spending 3 days away with my new 5 ½ pounder, my 21-month-old was a GIANT and he just kept getting bigger and bigger, faster and faster each year after that.

A decade and a half has passed since my baby started “growing up” at an exponentially rapid pace and I’ll tell you (parents of young ones) you think time’s flying now? Just wait until they’re teenagers! From middle school to driving was a blink of an eye and it really gives you perspective on the insignificance of this life against the magnitude of eternity.

A few months ago, Pastor Christian Gaffney reflected on this very phenomenon of my oldest son’s growing up in a three-part series of blog posts called “Tears of Maturity.” You see, Pastor Christian has seen quite a bit of Derek’s “growing up” too as he’s been with him in youth group for the past four and a half years. But Pastor Christian is more than just Derek’s youth group preacher, he’s been a mentor (formally and informally) and brother in Christ, a trusted adviser, a fierce debate opponent and most of all, a model of what Derek would like to be someday: a youth Pastor.

In Pastor Christian’s blog series, he talks about three of the times that he witnessed Derek cry. As Derek matured, those tears were shed for very different reasons that revealed his personal and spiritual growth. The series was funny, disturbing (for mom) and moving – if you haven’t read them, I encourage you to check them out.

One of the things that revealed Derek’s greatest maturity to me was when Pastor Christian announced he would be leaving Virginia to launch a church-plant in Florida called Exponential Church. For many years (perhaps before Christian realized it himself) I knew that God had something bigger planned for Christian than leading our youth group. When the Dowdy family left Virginia to plant a church in Canada, I began planting seeds with Derek about Christian not always being his youth pastor at Fair Oaks Church. This conversation was always met with great resistance if not obstinance. No one could be our youth pastor but Christian, he’d never leave. When Derek first felt the call to be a youth pastor himself, it almost depressed him because he could imagine being a youth pastor anywhere but Fair Oaks Church and Fair Oaks already had a youth pastor who would never leave.      

Always planting seeds, I would make suggestions like… what if Pastor Christian were to be called to lead a church of his own, that could enable someone like Derek (if he were old enough at the time) to apply for that job OR if Pastor Christian were a Senior Pastor of his own church, perhaps Christian would have a job for him as his youth pastor. All of these notions were firmly rejected because Derek just could not bear the idea Christian would not always be the youth pastor at Fair Oaks Church.

Then, this Spring, when the church plant in Florida was announced, I was very concerned about how Derek would react. Much to my utter shock, he responded with maturity, support and enthusiasm for God’s new calling for Christian. I must say I was floored and I saw my boy through new eyes that day - saw him for the man of God with spiritual maturity that he was becoming right before my eyes.

I’ll blink again and he’ll be in college, getting married, being ordained, having children, serving the Lord through ministry, celebrating his 25th year as a pastor and wondering how time could have flown by so fast and still marveling at how this little boy of mine could have become this wise gray-haired grown-up in what seemed like the speed of light – the speed of growing up.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Mentoring and Modeling a Money Mentality

We’ve always talked openly with our kids about money – specifically about how to be Biblically responsible with money. From earning it and spending it to tithing it and saving it, we have not just told our kids what they need to do but we have made sure we have modeled that behavior in everything we do.

Earning it – our kids witnessed their dad walk away from a job (with nothing else in the pipeline) because the employer’s practices violated the law and he refused to smile and go along with it. A paycheck is never more important that your integrity. That decision was followed by a 2 ½ year stint of unemployment where several opportunities were passed on because the companies had questionable histories or practices and the message was reinforced with the kids that money doesn’t trump your morals. We prayed as a family for God’s wisdom, direction and protection and he had out back on all accounts. The kids saw this.

Spending it – Much like the stock market fluctuations, our “disposal” income has had its ups and downs over the years. Especially down when we were down to one income, but fortunately, we had already established responsible spending habits that helped the kids adjust quickly when we didn’t have ability to buy like we used to. Just because you can spend it, doesn’t mean you should spend it. This is a mantra the kids heard in good times and in bad from us. Especially when the 7-year-old neighbor kid (whose parents’ income was a fraction of ours) got the newest $700 gaming system for Christmas and our kids are opening clothes we bought at the thrift store or consignment shop and $20 toys from Wal-Mart. Our kids saw their parents do without things we really wanted, and could afford, but knew that indulging our worldly desires would not be honoring God with our money so they learned this lesson by example, not just enforcement.

Saving it – I have always been a saver, but it was important for my kids to not just practice it but see the importance as well. In first grade the kids started earning an allowance they were taught to put aside 10% for Tithing, 10% for Savings and 10% for taxes. Proverbs 21:20 says “The wise man saves for the future but the foolish man spends whatever he gets” so I wanted the kids to have a concept of what “saving for the future” meant. We would set savings goals that had purpose. For the kids, saving might be for a new video game or toy that they wanted; for mom and dad, saving might be for retirement, a down payment on a house… or a 2 ½ year gap in employment during the country’s biggest recession since the 1930’s. But saving money doesn’t just protect you on rainy days, but also teaches something most of our current generation has never been required to learn – delayed gratification.

Tithing it – If you’ve read much of my blog, you know that tithing is a passionate topic for me and it’s a passion that we’ve passed on to the kids. Whether it’s allowance, found money on the street or their first real jobs this summer, the first thing my kids do is calculate the 10% that goes to the church. But true giving is more than just giving 10% - Deuteronomy 16:17 says “Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you.” So if God has blessed you with more, you should be giving more.  It does not equally mean, however, if you have less, you should be giving less. Even when my family was facing financialhardship, we continued to faithfully tithe on what we did have and God provided for us in ways we could not imagine possible. This example taught our kids more than we could have ever imagined without having to preach a word about it.

This brings me to my youngest son. This summer, he had his first real job and, although it was just minimum wage, it was a lot more than his allowance. Taxes took care of themselves, but with each paycheck, he would calculate his tithe (and always generously round up) and then put the majority of his check (like 80% of the net) in his saving account. He didn’t need it for anything specific, so he was going to save it. (Good boy!) It feels great, as a parent, to know that the lessons you preach and the life you model is being absorbed, better yet, reflected in your child’s choices, but that’s not even the best part…

It wasn’t long before my son decided he wanted to use this savings to support Exponential Church, the church plant in Port St. Lucy led by Pastor Christian Gaffney (I know how he felt, I wanted to give to Expo Church as soon as I heard about it too) but, to paraphrase Pastor Christian, since Fair Oaks Church is not going to have a “special fund” for Expo Church, the best way to support the church plant, it to support Fair Oaks Church.

In these last few weeks of the year Fair Oaks Church has been making a plea to members for a year-end gift as the church is more than $100k short in their annual budget. This shortfall is a real burden on church staff and it has placed a special burden on my son’s heart so he reminded me of his savings. He asked to keep just a minimum amount in there to keep the account open and to give the rest to Fair Oaks Church to help them meet budget. Wow! I can’t even put into words how it makes me feel that this kid (who only opened two boxes from his parents on Christmas Day) wants to give his life saving to the church.

So, if my son were writing here, I think he’d want to ask, has his burden has become your burden? No matter what you history with earning or spending or saving or tithing, there’s nothing stopping you from taking this moment, right now, to make a decision for a year-end gift.  Maybe for you, it’s a small amount. Maybe you’re capable of giving a large amount. Either way, by supporting this church, you are supporting the cause of Christ and the work of the Kingdom of God.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

PTSD the INTJ way

I became familiar with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder when I was a teenager. After my parents divorced, my mother fell in love with a man who would fill the role of step-dad in my life and it was through his experiences in Vietnam that I saw firsthand the long term effects of traumatic events on the human psyche.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines it like this: 

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a type of anxiety disorder. It can occur after you've seen or experienced a traumatic event that involved the threat of injury or death.

Causes, incidence, and risk factors PTSD can occur at any age. It can follow a natural disaster such as a flood or fire, or events such as assault, domestic abuse, a prison stay, rape, terrorism and war.... Veterans returning home from a war often have PTSD.

There are more unknowns about PTSD than there are knowns: why two people could experience the same traumatic event and only one develops the PTSD symptoms; whether genetics, psychology or social conditions play a role - there are no "medical" tests for PTSD. It's entirely behavioral - having an abnormal response to a seemingly normal environment or event. 

The effects of PTSD are nonetheless very real - it changes the body's response to stress. It physically alters the stress hormones and chemicals that carry information between the nerves.

The symptoms of PTSD tend to fall into three main categories (USNLM):

1. "Reliving" the event, which disturbs day-to-day activity (flashbacks, nightmares, strong uncomfortable reactions to situations that remind you of the event)

2. Avoidance (emotional "numbing", feeling detached, memory loss about the trauma, lack of interest in normal activities, moodlessness, avoiding things that remind you of the event, feeling like you have no future)

3. Arousal (difficulty concentrating, startling easily, having an exaggerated response to things that startle you, hypervigilance, irritability, outbursts of anger or emotion, trouble falling or staying asleep)

For my step-dad, his PTSD experience would have been of the "Reliving" variety. He had flashbacks and nightmares... I distinctly remember one night that he must have been sleep walking and talking but I didn't realize that right away. It was the middle of the night and I'd gone into the kitchen for something to drink. When I opened the refrigerator door, the light revealed that he was standing there. I was startled, but he shushed me and motioned for me to get down. I remember he said a handful of things that didn't make sense (and not all of them were in English) and then I caught on that he was sleep walking and reliving something from one of his 7 tours in Vietnam (Air Force, EOD). I called his name and, although I don't think it woke him up, he turned, looked me dead in the eye and said, "and you are not going to see that new Jane Fonda movie!" and went back to bed. 

Flash-forward 11 years and I had a new context for PTSD when I became the victim of a violent crime. As an INTJ, my reaction to the event could have been described with the PTSD symptoms listed under the "Avoidance" variety… or was that just an INTJ being and INTJ? To this day, I don't talk about it (and no, I won't be writing about it here) I have so effectively disconnected from it that when I stumbled upon some old court documents and news articles a few months ago, it was like I was reading about a stranger - it was completely foreign to me. I had no emotional reaction to it (then or now). No anger, no sadness, no breakdown, no resentment, no vengeance - a sense of protectiveness, yes, but not vengeance. I would definitely use the word hypervigilance (from "Arousal" PTSD symptoms) to describe how protective I became of my boys to ensure no further harm would come to our family. I definitely looked over my shoulder a lot in the beginning, even post-conviction, sure I'd see that face in the crowd, but even that gave way to either logic (that I can't be harmed by someone behind bars) or INTJ-disconnectedness and I just didn't think about it anymore. 

Two years ago this month, I was diagnosed with cervical cancer (that could qualify as something traumatic, right?) and in classic INTJ style, I went with disconnectedness (and humor, of course). So was that "Avoidance" PTSD or is that just my standard coping mechanism as an INTJ? Did God wire me as an INTJ knowing that my life would have traumatic experiences and that my gift/flaw of INTJ disconnectedness would enable me to cope most effectively? I was cancer-free within 40 days so I hardly had time to process it... or did I just process it in an INTJ way?

So here's the more interesting, and perhaps more revealing, puzzle piece of Avoidance PTSD or INTJ disconnectedness... 

Last week, I went for my annual checkup and cancer screenings and my doctor thought she felt a lump. "I doubt it's anything, but if it is, your mammogram will catch it. I wouldn't worry." Okay, I'll roll with that - don't worry. Well, within 24 hours of my mammogram, I'm getting the urgent call from radiology that I need to make an appointment right away with this specialist to have a more intensive mammogram and ultrasound where the doctor will interpret it while I wait so we can immediately address next steps. Yeah, I'd gotten that kind of call before and I definitely had a flashback. 

What happened next (and for the next 24 hours) would definitely fit the description of "Arousal" PTSD which would not be characteristic of an INTJ. Although in typical INTJ fashion, I'm sure no one around me knew it, but there were at least 10 to 15 occasions where I nearly burst into tears in the middle of any of the six business meetings I had that day. It was everything I could do to keep my emotions in check and I absolutely felt like I was reliving the emotions (not actually experienced) of two years ago. Then, I disconnected from an actual diagnosis, whereas here, we're just talking about more tests - yet I was losing it (by INTJ standards). By the end of that 24 hours, my INTJ kicked in to get me through the next three days before the specialist could see me and as it turned out, my regular doctor was right. It was nothing. PRAISE GOD! 

I read an article this week (the catalyst for me writing about this) that was talking about how multiple traumatic events increase the likelihood that someone will develop PTSD symptoms. So maybe that's explains my previous reactions and most recent reaction. INTJ coping mechanism, INTJ coping mechanism, Arousal PTSD.... maybe. Technically, with PTSD the symptoms are present for at least 30 days. When similar symptoms are experienced for a shorter period, it's characterized as ASD or Acute Stress Disorder. My "INTJ-ness" is a life-long condition so definitely more than 30 days, but 24-hour-freak-out over my additional tests, more like ASD.

One other related article caught my attention this week that really got my blood boiling about the US Preventative Services Taskforce issuing new guidelines that women should begin annual mammogram screenings at the age of 50, rather than the previous recommendations of beginning at age 40, to reduce the number of false positives that are reported. WHAT?!??!?! After we get past the mathematical "Duh" factor, how about this... instead of having kids going to the dentist at 3 years old, we'll push that recommendation 10 years and have them start seeing the dentist at 13 years old to reduce the number of cavities on baby teeth reported each year. Heck, I think we could cure diabetes all together if we just stopped testing for it. Seems logical right? 

Now the argument for needing to reduce the number of false positives is the emotional trauma that women experience as a result of the false positive, balanced against the statistical probability of a woman under 40 having an accurate positive. Seriously? We are still talking about hundreds of thousands of women under the age of 50 whose breast cancer was caught by a mammogram and live today because it was. As freaked out as I was, I don't think it's worth those women's lives just so I don't have to have a little anxiety attack over a false positive. Wow. How incredibly selfish would you have to be to think that's the right course. “Hey, You few hundred thousand women there, you can die from undiagnosed cancer so I don't have to feel anxious for a few days.” That seems fair.

Perhaps I'm devaluing and minimizing the true level of emotional damage that most women would experience with a false positive - that would be very INTJ of me - but seriously, I just can't wrap my head around that one. Despite the recommendations, ladies over 40, get your mammogram!

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Over the past 3 weeks, my “passion” has been a topic of discussion by unrelated people or groups in my life. It’s like a Twitter #trendingtopic or something. Under normal circumstances people calling you passionate would be a good thing, right? I would have loved to take it all as a compliment but because the first remark had an undertone of negativity, it made me hypercritical of the ones that followed even though they were likely meant as a compliment.

How could being passionate be a bad thing? Well, okay, if it’s misguided or misdirected that would be bad (I’m sure Hitler was considered passionate), but that’s not what we were talking about. I was planning to roll out an upgraded benefit for staff that would be better than what they have and it would be cheaper because the employer is kicking in a significant amount of money over the other benefits. A no-brainer, right? The kicker was that the employees have to elect it. They can stick with what they have if they’d like – most people don’t like change and it was a bit more complex - but I wanted to show them the real value so they could make an informed decision and save themselves some money if it was the right plan for them.

As I prepared to hold three meetings with groups of staff to explain this new and improved benefit, I walked through it with our CEO and some colleagues. When all was said and done, everyone agreed it was a great value, but the comment was made that I may want to have one of my staff give the presentations because I’m too passionate about it. I must have had a confused look on my face because the clarifying comment came next “Lauren, you could sell ice cubes to Eskimos.”

Okay, I get that you want people to choose it because they were well informed rather than persuaded, but I know the difference. I really believed that I was being thoroughly informative … passionately committed to providing them cost effective options that have advantages over the existing alternatives… not persuading or “selling.”

A couple of days later I was at church talking with someone about the Life Coaching ministry and they said, “it so clear how passionate you are about helping people.” Now that’s a good thing, right? I know it was meant as a compliment yet on the inside I cringed a bit, still stinging from the dig at work. There were three or four other instances that week where I was talking about something – work, church, life coaching, MBTI, making peanut butter fudge, something – and a comment was made about my passion.

Yes, I’m passionate about the things I do. I’m just not one of those people who could plod along doing something day in and day out that I didn’t care about. I’m just not wired that way. If you aren’t passionate about it, why are you doing it? Maybe it’s my INTJ personality, but for me, if I can’t do something with excellence, give it my all, I really see no point in doing it. So if that makes me seem oddly passionate about all the diverse things I do, so be it. Sure there are all things we have to do that not too many are going to get passionate about – laundry, getting an oil change – but for the things in life that are important, don’t be lukewarm about them (Revelation 3:15-17). Be hot, be cold, be invested, be passionate.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gardening for God

My mother has this amazing in-door/out-door garden that’s almost tour-worthy. It looks like one big seamless botanical design that’s just slightly interrupted by the mesh that separates the screened-in porch and the backyard. She puts a lot of work into nurturing and refreshing that garden and it gives her great pleasure and a sense of accomplishment to do it – it’s a passion.

I’m afraid her green thumb skipped a generation with me. I never found any enjoyment in planting trees and flowers – even my bridal bouquet was silk and linen – but planting churches… that’s something I could get passionate about.

I’ve been crossing paths with church planting since I was a kid. My parents were instrumental in a church plant that met in a school gym for a while and then eventually bought land and build a church building that my father actually designed and drafted the blueprints for. Later, just after my husband and I got married we had the opportunity to be a part of another church plant in the CMA church.

My husband had grown up in (and introduced me to) the Christian Missionary Alliance (CMA) church when we were dating. The CMA has been focused on fulfilling the Great Commission through church planting since the 1880s and it was a core value that immediately resonated with me.

Flash-forward to January 10, 2009 and our church (Fair Oaks Church) held a mini-conference called “PIVOT” where the LOUD ON PURPOSE vision was launched and it was announced that Fair Oaks Church would be planting a church in Toronto, Canada with plans to plant 9 more as a part of a “decavision.”

Church-planting! How exciting! Since church-planting was already something in our spiritual DNA, when my husband and I heard Fair Oaks Church was going to be planting a churches we totally “got it” and knew that at some point over the course of the 10 churches to be planted we would be called to be a part of it in one way or another.

Yes, church planting can be bitter-sweet when families who are an integral part of church’s ministries leave the home church, but God’s call to be the seeds of a church-planting is awesome – awesome for the families God has called, awesome for Fair Oaks Church, awesome for the Great Commission and awesome for the kingdom of God!

If people within a church have never been exposed to the church-planting model, there’s an unfortunate opportunity for misunderstandings or misinterpreting the church’s expansion of its reach as people “leaving” their home church. I’m sure there was a small element of that when it was announced, it would be natural. But this is a God-led Fair Oaks Church initiative that everyone should be supporting – spiritually, logistically, financially and relationally. These special families with this important call are not really leaving – not spiritually, just physically. It’s an opportunity to pull together, not pull away.

The CMA website has a great article identifying the biblical perspective of church planting. In a look at the Acts of the Apostles from the perspective of the multiplying church, here are the Ten Behaviors of Church-Multipliers:

1.   Wait for the Holy Spirit’s Power - Acts 1:4, 1:14, 15, 16-26 & 2:1, 19:13-16 - Don’t miss the activity surrounding the word WAIT. WAIT did not, and does not mean be idle!
2.   T rust God to Provide - Acts 1:8-8:1, 16:6, 19:10, 5:1-11 - Today more than ever we need to hear from God and receive His direction.
3.   Anticipate Victories Emerging from God’s Control - Acts 8:1-8, 12:1-19 - Multiplication attracts opposition and God leverages all of this for His purposes.
4.   Expect and Discern Divine Appointments - Acts 5:16-39, 8:26-40 - The church multiplier properly aligned with God is now confident to observe and go with what God is doing.
5.   Observe and Join what God is Doing - Acts 9:1-31, 17:16-17 - The best multipliers don’t get so lost in activity that they miss the circumstance. They have good timing. They are moving.
6.   Stand Strong Even in the Face of Opposition - Acts 5:40-6:1, 7:59-60 - Church multipliers are more influenced by the eternal than preoccupied by the temporal.
7.   Praise First - In and Out of Adversity - Acts 3:6-10, 16:22-30 - Church multipliers recognize that praise is potent. God receives it and deserves it. He lives in this praise! He multiplies in the environment of praise.
8.   Build Bridges to the People - Acts 10:1-29, 11:18 - Being immovably certain of how we should minister will blind us to incredible opportunities.
9.   Empower and Release Your Best People - Acts 6:5-7:60, Acts 13:1-3, Acts 13:5 - Multiplying churches are the residual of multiplying leaders.
10. Relentlessly Focus on Bringing People to Christ and His Kingdom - Acts 20:24 - This is why we multiply leaders. This is why we multiply churches. And you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. – Jesus

Although my family has not felt God’s call to be a part of these first two church plants by moving with the teams, we have absolutely been called to support those church plants in different ways and stand ready to answer God’s call whenever it comes and for whatever He wants us to do. I may not have my mother’s green thumb with trees and flowers, but if I were Gardening for God by helping to plant a church, I’m certain each seed would sprout and flourish for His glory.