The most spiritual thing I've ever done was to quit my job. Yes, that is right, I left my job as a pastor. In 2014 my life changed dramatically.
Leaving my job in full time occupational ministry was the most supernatural and spiritual act I could do.
It was one of the toughest and most important decisions I've ever made.
In 2013 my teenage daughter announced to my husband and I that she was pregnant and that the father would be absent. We had already been praying about and considering that our role in the ministry we had been leading was changing and possibly coming to an end.
I wrote a short story about my daughter's announcement in a book that came out in 2014 called When Life Happens: How We Survived the Unexpected.
During the course of my interaction with God regarding my daughter's impending announcement, He asked me a life-changing question. Here is an excerpt from that story:
"She’s pregnant isn't she?" I asked out loud. "Yes, she is pregnant. You are going to be a grandmother. What I need you to do today is extend grace and release peace. You can do it."
It was a familiar voice I had heard many times before. It was the sound of His voice coming from deep inside me, sounding like multiple voices in harmony. The sound so deeply connected with my spirit. I’ve encountered these Voices in the past, in many ways. It is the voice of Jesus, an understanding friend, Holy Spirit, a nurturing presence and the Father, a stabilizing force in this instance. Their voices seemed quiet and loud all at the same time. Echoes of closeness all rolled up into one loving burst of intimate energy. What I heard stunned me, but the Voices settled me.
My husband and I were senior pastors. We had an event at our church that evening. It ended late, so we went out for a quick bite to eat at a local restaurant with two of our teenage children. After dinner, as we went out to our separate cars, my daughter asked me, “What are we doing tomorrow? Can I spend some time with you and Dad? I’d like to talk about a few things.” I could feel a slight butterfly in my stomach. “Can we just talk when we get home? I am curious now about what you want to talk about, and I don’t think I can sleep wondering about it all night.” I answered. She said “okay.” as we stepped into our separate cars.
I was alone for the ride home. It was a long 17 minutes between the restaurant and our home. I had so many thoughts and things flashing through my mind thinking about what the Voices had spoken on that stretch of freeway. Suddenly, I began having memories of my own pre-marriage pregnancy. I remembered the reactions of others, kind and not so kind. I began remembering what life had been like as a young mother, the joys and the difficulties. I thought of what it was like to be a young woman just learning to know myself. I had glimpses of what life had been like as a young wife with so many responsibilities and feeling so inadequate in inexperienced. Then there were visions of a beautiful, small and innocent baby. What he or she looked like, what their personality would be like, who would they become. It’s unbelievable how many thoughts and feelings can overwhelm you in just a few minutes. I had a million questions begin to flood my mind.
I thought about my daughter, what must she be going through? The baby’s father, what is this story about to unfold? My other children, how will they feel? My husband, how is he going to handle this? God, are you here? Are you in this somewhere? Our extended family, what will they say? Our friends, will they understand? The church, how will our congregation and extended network deal with this? The details wanted to torment me for a minute.
Then I heard Him ask me a question that put a stop to the frenzy of shock and awe and desperation of that moment. “What if your life had been celebrated every single day of your existence?” There were those Voices again. I was moved from shaking, to the beginnings of awakening.
I was undone and unraveling a bit on the inside, falling apart, but somehow in a good way. My heart was wrecked, yet full of wonder. Wondering what was about to fall upon me. What kind of revelation was coming my way other than the unveiling of a pregnancy?
The question, "what if your life was celebrated every single day of your existence?" changed my perspective of what was really important. It started me on a journey of realizing what it really meant to be pro-life and to celebrate life. The phrase 'cultivating creativity and celebration' began to infiltrate my being. The next season would bring joy and difficulty, but I knew it was God moving. I knew it was an opportunity to see Him in action, know His redemptive power and experience His love in my life and in my family's life for generations.
During the course of her pregnancy I began to realize how much my lifestyle in full time occupational ministry (I call it occupational ministry because I believe every believer in Christ is a full time ministry, just not everyone has an occupation of it) was not compatible with helping my daughter to raise her child.
Two weeks before the baby was born, my husband and I resigned our positions as senior leaders of that ministry. We were at a point where all our obligations to the ministry were being completed and it was the perfect time to equip other leaders to take over the responsibilities to continue the work in the region. They have continued on and are doing well.
My husband and I had also had a construction company that was growing rapidly, it was also requiring more of our attention. So there it was. I was back at home serving my daughter part time and running the construction company part time.
I felt I was in the right place doing the right thing. Returning back to our home where I previously spent 19 years raising our own children and being the entrepreneur I've always been. Let me put it this way, I had a business plan before I was a teenager and I've always had a thing for homemaking, decorating, cooking and enjoyed being with my children. I was able to do both!
As far as ministry is concerned, I am surprisingly able to do that too. I have had more opportunities to consult with leaders, encourage and cast vision, equip start-up ministries, heal the sick, pray for people, offer prophetic ministry, serve as a guest speaker, and more since resigning from occupational ministry. I accept private appointments with people. The only difference is the framework and format in which I serve God now. I don't have the responsibilities of being tied down to my own ministry, I have opportunity to be a part of multiple ministries behind the scenes and watch them do their thing. I am cultivating creativity in others and celebrating them.
I am teaching and training through writing, as well as telling stories. I am working on my fourth book collaboration this year. Two books, When Life Happens (mentioned above) and Zoe Life Inspired Daily Devotional 2015 were released in December 2014. In those books I have short stories and daily devotionals. Two new books are in editing as I write this blog. The release dates are yet to be determined. I will announce the dates soon. I am working on some of my own books and art pieces. I am renewing making a commitment to post on this site more regularly.
The best part is the return to family. The most important thing to me has always been family. If we haven't got marriage and family life blossoming, nothing else really matters. I am learning anew what it means to celebrate life every day. Being able to be with my own children, even though they are young adults now, is the most wonderful thing a mother could ask for. Being there for my granddaughter, even though there has been a great adjustment period, is the most fascinating and moving thing imaginable. I wouldn't have it any other way.
I can't imagine having not come back home to serve and enjoy my family now. Time goes by all too fast. Building a legacy and creating an inheritance for their future is the greatest pleasure, the most supernatural and spiritual thing I can do with my life.
Copyright © 2017 Toni Imsen
I lay my head on your lap
You set my hair from my face with your fingers
You brush my cheek softly
As you whisper to me, I fall asleep
I still feel your gaze as I drift away
Silence around us makes way for the sound of your heartbeat
A scent of you fills the air as I spend my time in dreamland
The memory of our time together continues to make an impression
Looks that linger
Hopes of reconnection
Mystery that grows deeper
Curiosity makes me long for you
Joy that brings butterflies overwhelms me
Sweet exchanges fill my head with thoughts of you all day long
My heart is captured and stolen away
You are the one I choose in the secret place
Your eyes burn for me there
My eyes see nothing else but you
A sacred dance
Copyright © 2017 Toni Imsen
A Spoken Word Piece
Wheels on the bus go ROUND and ROUND
Don't give a rip about the city or TOWN
Wishin’ a family would be AROUND
JUGGLIN life like a circus CLOWN
STRUGGLIN to survive
To stay above GROUND
Movin’ through life like a freight TRAIN
Strivin’ all to get GAIN
On the wheel to avoid the PAIN
Can only see what oughta BE
Livin’ in regret and can't SEE
Pushing past the pain to just BE
Knowing somethin's MISSING
It's name is POVERTY
not just a financial REALITY
It's all about ME
It's a MENTALITY
The feelin’ is URGENCY
Just for some CLARTY
It ends in FUTILITY
It's name is SLAVERY
It looks like HUMILIATION
It has robbed a NATION
Time to change the STATION
Enough is ENOUGH
Got it real ROUGH
It's made young and old TOUGH
Then there was ONE
He came in HUMILITY
In his SOVEREIGNTY
To fulfill a DESTINY
He was born in a STABLE
He removed your LABEL
He calls you ABLE
To contribute to SOCIETY
Say no to TRAFFICKING
Stop the BULLYING
Rescue the DYING
Removing the OPPRESSION
Pushing off DEPRESSION
Reversing the RECESSION
Use the CREATIVITY to
Meet the NEED to
Plant a SEED
Begin by LIVING
Attain through GIVING
It's not about YOU
Don't be a FOOL
Create new RULES
Change the MIND
It's the TIME
Copyright © 2017 Toni Imsen
Clouds of Silver
Streams of Light
Canvas of God
Cradle of Heaven
Home to Planets and Solar Systems
Galaxies and Comets
Colors Never Named
Creativity and Expression
Unleashed and Unbridled
Freedom and Flight
Dreams and Daydreams
Warm and Cool
Shapes of Imagination
Copyright © 2017 Toni Imsen