A Typical or Atypical Pastor's Wife-whichever one you come to believe

Welcome to the barnyard. Watch your step! The things written here are raw and unedited. Just my thoughts thrown on a page as they flow from my heart.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Now That's The Life!

... for now we really live, if you stand firm in the Lord.

What is living to you? Is it driving a new car, living in a big house, vacationing when you want to, accomplishing all the things on your bucket list? Perhaps it's an accomplish that will outlive you-your name or an invention? How would you define "really living?" Some use this cliche rather flippantly. Really living might be as simple as sitting on the back porch with a good book and some cold tea or as complex as being self employed in some lucrative business where you have no one telling you what to do. How many times have we said "Ahhhh, this is the life?" or said of someone else "boy, don't they have the life?"

Seriously what is a proper definition of living? According to the Apostle Paul, it is none of the above. In 1 Thessalonians 3:8 Paul defined what true living is. According to Paul, it's what you have received and what you have passed on.

We are conduits of God's message.  It didn't originate with us. We will not be credited or get the glory from it. People will not look back on us and say Wow, they really lived! In fact, if we do it right, they will say "Wow, they really gave and sacrificed."

Paul's life success was based on the reception and retention of his message. We are successful if we do what God instructs, but we are really living if the message is received and lived out in the next generation. It was life to Paul to know that all his trials and tribulations were not in vein and that he had made an eternal difference.

When eternal differences are made, that is living because eternal differences produce eternal life! It thrills the Lord. Paul knew that something he did was going to last for eternity. This was his legacy. Lives brought from darkness into an eternity with God. Nothing else will really matter in the end. We work so hard to build our lives but we should really stop and examine what we are doing. Is there any eternal value in it? Is it going to produce fruit that remains through all eternity?

Are we really living?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

A Prisoner of Self

I vividly remember the day I got saved. Unlike many, I got saved in church. I’m not talking about walking to the front and mindlessly repeating a prayer although I did those things. I’m talking about being changed and leaving that place knowing that I was very different than I had been when I entered.

I remember the drawing of the Holy Spirit as He reasoned with me about the state of my heart. I’ve had people tell me that because I didn’t weep and wail over all of my sin, I wasn’t truly saved. But Andrew Murray explained  in his book Abide in Christ, the many ways people come to God. I had always been a good girl. I was obedient to my parents and a good student. I had a “bent” towards God and always was curious and desirous of the Christian life so I lived as well as I knew to live and hoped that it would please Him. For most people their idea of who God is and how He operates comes from the relationship they had with their own Fathers and I was not different.

My father is a good man. He worked hard. He provided for us well. He sacrificed to provide all that he did and we always felt cared for and loved. When he would have rather sat and enjoyed the porch swing, he walked around the neighborhood with me as I chatted and eventually grew tired and ended up on his shoulders for the trip home. When he would have rather watched football, instead he played football with us in the yard. He planned vacations for us every summer and spared no expense to insure that we had a good time, often working long hours of overtime to pay for them. He was always willing to play a game or help with a school project. If we showed an interest or ability in something, he gladly paid for lessons…..music lessons, art lessons, and classes. He and my mother picked me up after school everyday so that I could be on the track and basketball team. They were present at every meet and game as well. Even when I went to college, they never missed a home game.

My father, as most Dads,  also had a temper. What seemed to me, as a young girl, a rather explosive one. I feared my father. He wasn’t abusive, he just got really angry and it was frightening to me. I treaded lightly around him and when I forgot to, I usually experienced some harsh words or punishment. I hated to disappoint him because I loved him and respected his authority.  Because of this, I was probably spared many a hardship because I feared what the consequences might be if I did something wrong but I always was a little reserved in my emotions around him. I still am even though he has mellowed a whole bunch as he has aged. My Dad is also smart and has learned a lot of things through trial and error and self teaching. So naturally when it came to helping us kids learn something, he always felt that he knew best and that his way was best. I understand now that he was just trying to help us not have to reinvent the wheel, but at the time I just never felt as if I measured up. It seemed that no matter what I did, it just wasn’t quite as good as it could have been. I knew he was proud of my accomplishments but always felt that he would have been more pleased if I had gone a little further or deeper.

So when I came to God, I had that perception of Him as well. As I sat in that church that Sunday morning, I just felt like I couldn’t measure up. My marriage was nearly over and I had failed in my career. I didn’t feel as if I was deserving or even worthy of being loved. But as I sat there in the hushed silence of the morning prayer I heard God’s voice say to me “I love you and want to have a love relationship with you.” You can imagine what good news this was to me as I didn’t feel that anyone at that point of my life really loved me for me. I responded even before there was an altar call.  I don’t know that one was planned.  It may be that the minister saw me coming and thought the Spirit must be moving and gave one. It really doesn’t matter. What matters is that when I prayed I felt a heavy weight literally lift off my shoulders. In fact, it didn’t even feel like my feet were touching the floor when I walked out of that church that morning. Such a transformation had occurred that all I could do on the drive home was laugh! I knew that I had fully surrendered my life to the God and I knew he was pleased! I felt so alive, so fresh, so new!

I’d never heard this described by anyone else the same way until I read an article in Guidepost magazine written by Dean Jones, the actor who passed away recently.  He described that heavy burden that lifted off his shoulders as the weight of self. As I read it, I thought yes, that is exactly what happened to me! All the sudden I went from unworthy of love to being loved by the highest, greatest being that lives-God Himself. Oh what a thought! Where I felt I had failed people all my life, God was saying, I have not failed you. There is hope in me! And there was! While Dean Jones had lived much of his life searching for the one thing that would make him happy, I had spent all of my life trying to find my worth in the approval of others. We had both failed until we let go of self and grabbed hold of the love of God.

The first thing God did was save my husband. Together, we picked up the shattered pieces of our love and allowed the Holy Spirit to glue it all back together. I found that the Holy Spirit uses superglue.  In fact, He totally restored our marriage and relationship. Today, I adore my husband!  I long to spend as much time with him as humanly possible. We laugh together every day. I always tell him “you’re my world.” I delight in making him happy because He is who God has given me to care for. I’m truly happy in knowing that if I never accomplish anything worthy of worldly attention, I can know that have succeeded in that I have loved God and loved my husband well.

The second thing God did was free me from caring too much about what other people think about me. I do care about what others think, but I may not care about what they think about me. When customers cuss at me on the phone, it doesn’t bother me because I know that God loves me. When people mis-interpret what I do or say, I don’t lose any sleep over it. I do what I can to clear it up and then leave them to deal with their own selves concerning it. Even when I displease my husband, I realize that I’m human and people are not always going to be happy with me. I’m not always even happy with myself. I know now that none of these things change my worth to God one iota! His love is steadfast, unchanging and perfect. And nothing can separate me from His love. He loves me in spite of me.  That takes all the pressure off and just lets me be who He made me to be. That is true freedom!

No matter how much of an outcast you may think you are, I’m here to tell you that you do fit! You fit in the Kingdom of God. No matter how unloved or unlovely you may feel, you are loved with a perfect love and that perfect love casts out ALL fear! Life in God is peace and joy and contentment. Truly!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Sometimes You Have To Stop And Think

I am a very social person. My personality lends itself to interactions with other people.  Without them, I grow dull and lifeless. It's just the way I'm made.

I work in a secular business. Not one person in my office is a born again Christian. In fact, "fundies" are made fun of by some. I don't care because I wouldn't trade Christ for their roller coaster lives, their fancy cars or their feeling of superiority in this world because He's so much bigger than all of that!

Everyone in my office is very "nice." They do and say "nice" things to each other. They treat others "nicely." It's enjoyable to come to work with a minimum of drama amongst my co-workers. There's no awkward situation or silences. We all get along and work as a team. I can chit chat with anyone in my office and we both enjoy it. I am well liked by all my co-workers.

Some of the people in my office are very good friends. They do things together after work and on weekends. They visit at each other's desks during down times. Some days I feel a little left out and find myself wishing I had a close friend here. Then I stop myself and think about it.

I was more accepted before people found out that my husband is a minister. There was a marked difference in how I was treated before and after that little fact came to the light. Then people found out that I was a fundamental believer of the Bible and that alienated even more people. Since most idle conversation in my office is about drinking or tv shows that I don't watch, that kind of leaves me at a loss to chat a lot. When people forget that I'm here and start talking about immoral topics, they eventually come to their senses and look to see if I'm paying attention. Once a group of them went off on Pastor's kids and all of the sudden realized that I had Pastor's kids and they felt bad. There were a few observations I wanted to interject into that whole conversation but I pretended not to notice.

Some people might think that I am not melting into their world enough. I, on the other hand, know that they have a certain amount of respect for me because of my beliefs-most of them anyway. My job is not to assimilate myself into their world. That's what I left when I accepted Christ! Why would I want to go back there? My job is to yank them out of their world and into mine!

The Bible says that "bad company corrupts good manners." Jesus ministered to the masses, but He spent most of His time with the 12. Sometimes I just have to stop, think and remember that I am not of this world. I'm not going to fit in. I DON'T WANT TO FIT IN! I know that their rejection of me is not because of me. It's because of Christ and His teachings. On those days when I'm not included in gossip, immoral speech, and pettiness I need to remember to rejoice! God is pleased with me! When the "nice" people are collaborating, I need to remember that although they may be "nice", they are still lost! My friendships are within His body and what a great group of friends God has given me! I am blessed.

Just every now and then I have to stop and think!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Walking Intentionally

Last year I had to have some physical therapy for a problem with my feet, legs and hips.  The first thing the therapist noticed when I took off my shoes was the long hard callous on the outside edge of my foot.  She told me “You’re not using your whole foot when you walk so the muscles in your feet are compensating for the muscles you aren’t using.  That is what is causing your problems.  Basically your feet are running at half strength and doing the work of your knees and hips too.”  This all started with trauma to my hip due to a car accident clear back in 1999.  Over the years, it just grew worse until I could hardly walk at all.

So the first thing she made me do was to start walking intentionally, that is concentrating with every step how my foot was striking the ground, making sure that I was using my whole foot when I walked. In essence I had to learn how to walk again.   I felt like a toddler as each tentative step was done with great deliberation.  I often caught myself staring at my feet while I walked.  I must have been quite a sight!  But as I worked at it, the callous began to disappear, my feet started to hurt less and my knees and hips began to feel stronger. Between the exercises and the intentional walking, my need for therapy rapidly disappeared.  

There is a spiritual lesson here to be learned.  Not only must I walk intentionally in the natural, I must also walk intentionally in my spiritual life.  And in order to avoid problems, I must use all the gospel to live my life.  

15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, 16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil. 17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; 21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.

It is an easy thing to walk half-footed.   I know!  Certain doctrines of the Bible become our “pet” doctrines by which we live our lives, while other doctrines remain uninvestigated or applied.   For instance, if all we focus on is the doctrine of the cross, we live weak, pathetic, defeated lives because we have not embraced the doctrine of the resurrection power that is now ours through the indwelling Christ.  We simply stand before the cross in a sin-confess cycle and never receive the power of the new nature and the new life in Christ to live above sin so that it is no longer our master. The verse “…behold all things become new” is filed along with all those verse we say but don’t live. 

If we ignore the doctrine of healing that is so clearly stated in scripture, we end up accepting sickness, weakness and disease as “God’s will” or “a lesson God is teaching me.”  If our sickness is God’s will, why do we fight it with medicine and treatment?  We would rather walk half footed than to admit that maybe our revelation and faith levels could use a boost.

And the most neglected doctrine of the Bible is the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Because many depend on what they’ve been taught and have not sought the Lord with an open heart concerning this wonderful gift He will give to ALL believers, they limp through life attempting to build the Kingdom without the most important tool in their toolbox.  

6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. 7 Therefore do not be partakers with them; 8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light 9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), 10trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; 12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret. 13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light…

The solution to this problem is that we must be people of the Word.  We must believe that the power, presence and will of God has not diminished through the years, if anything, with the indwelling Holy Spirit, it has to have increased on the earth.  If we could truly realize what it is that lives in and through us, our walk would be so much different.  We would not limp through life and our feet would be firmly planted with each step. 

Each day we must be in the Word, soaking in it, asking questions concerning it, praying and confessing it into our own life and experience.  When we walk intentionally, we use all that God has given us to have victory and success in the Christian life.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

My Weight Watchers Experiment-The Results Are In

One of my goals this year is to lose some weight.  Slowly through the years, I have put on some pounds. A pound here, a pound there and BOOM!, it’s too many pounds.  I’m not getting any younger and things tend to wear out with age and I’m noticing a few aches and pains that weren’t there before.  My first inclination is that if I lose weight, maybe some of them will go away leaving only legitimate concerns. ( I would rather have my eye plucked  out with a stick than go to the doctor.  Can you tell?)  While researching weight loss, I soon discovered that what one “expert” advocates, another one opposes and I ended up frustrated and confused. So I did what any normal Christian would do…I prayed. Well maybe a normal Christian would have prayed first, but I tend to think that God gave me a brain and I was just trying to put it to good use.  Shortly after I prayed, my company which has a bang up wellness program made us an offer.  If we wanted to join weight watchers for 17 weeks, they would pay for all but $36.00 of it if we met our weight loss goal.  Since I like a challenge, I jumped right away!

I soon came to realize that my problem was portion size and making wise choices. Weight Watchers is a proven lifestyle change diet program, so I thought that I would learn a lot. The first meeting was highly attended.  When the instructor asked how many people had done weight watchers before ¾ of the room raised their hand.  That sent up a red flag for me because I was wondering why, if they had done it before that they had to return, obviously needing to lose more weight. I was further disappointed when I saw what they wanted you to eat. I cook for a family and they either can’t or won’t eat what Weight Watchers was advocating.

First, I am not going to eat ANYTHING no fat for two reasons. I would rather die a slow death than eat that awful tasting, textured stuff and it is well known that what they put in non-fat foods is worse for you than the fat is. So that was immediately out.

Secondly, as if I don’t already have enough to do, they want me to track every single thing I eat all day.  While I understand the concept, I am not going to spend the rest of my life counting points. If this is about lifestyle change, I should be able to get to the point where I don’t need to be so anal about food, yet a lot of people who have been using this program for a long time still faithfully track their points everyday. I was starting to have second thoughts and almost walked out, but decided to stay and give it a try. I’m so glad that I did. 

Even with my reservations, I figured that I had 17 weeks to “experiment” with my eating/exercise program and could probably figure out in that amount of time how to eat and lose weight. I have to admit that I have learned a lot about food, when I have the tendency to overindulge and on what and quite honestly just checking to see how many points that brownie has is enough to make me lose my appetite before I eat it.  The best thing has been that I’ve learned about making healthy choices and I find that the more healthy food I eat, the more awful processed or junk food tastes! Except for ice cream, of course! I added some distilled water to my diet as well to clean out any leftover metals that might be hanging around in my body and I can notice distinct improvement in how sensitive my taste buds are. When you really think about it, God probably never designed our bodies to digest a lot of the stuff we eat on a daily basis, which may be why cancers and certain diseases are on the rise. Furthermore, we really don’t know what’s in a lot of food we eat.  We learned this the hard way.

As some of you might know, our family experienced severe food poisoning in February of 2014. As a result, my poor husband got sick after almost every meal. After months of weeding out foods that we thought might be causing it, we finally realized that he had a yeast intolerance. Now the doctor tells us that there is a lot of literature on this phenomena but no science, so doctors kind of poo-poo the idea of its existence. Well, let me tell you something Dr. Skeptical, when you are hanging over a toilet day after day, when your wife is one second away from driving you to the emergency room because, in 36 years, she has never seen you in such bad shape, that is all the science that I need to determine that this yeast intolerance is real. Because he is so sensitive to it, we have discovered that there is yeast, MSG, and yeast extracts in things that you would never dream! For instance, I fixed a meal for my husband.  It was all whole food, or so I thought.  He got sick.  I cried. I couldn’t imagine what in the world could have made him sick. All that was in the meal was fresh vegtables, butter, and chicken. I slowly went through all the ingredients and ruled everything out. Then it occurred to me to check the chicken packaging. Sure enough, they inject their chicken with chicken broth.  Chicken broth contains yeast extracts! For fear that we would have to become vegetarians, I called a local grocery store that is known for having good quality food and said, “I am looking for chicken breast that has been sliced off the chicken and slapped right on that white styrofoam plate without having anything done to it in the process. Do you have something like that?” Fortunately, they do so they now have a new customer and I don’t have to cry after every meal. And oh yea….my husband doesn’t have to be sick every night. :-)  

I don’t know why I waited so long to think about all this and make these changes sooner, but guess better late than never applies here. So I’ve lost 20 lbs.  I have hit a plateau though, a whole new experience for me. But I just keep plugging away, exercising at least 4 times a week and trying to watch what I eat, but allowing myself some simple pleasures-like ice cream- along the way. I don’t want to become a food nut. Those people have just switched the object of their obsession.  I’m not interested in that.  I’m interested in real change and developing habits that will last a lifetime but not have to be tended after all the time. 

This idea applies to us spiritually as well. As you allow the Holy Ghost to change you, spiritual, Godly habits will be formed in you and they will become 2nd nature and not something that you have to police or patrol. That doesn’t mean it won’t require effort at first. They will! But as you pray and ask the Holy Spirit to change you and rely on His power in those times of temptation that will come along the way, it will happen. “Old things will pass away and behold, all things will become new!” It’s His promise. He wishes us to have joy and freedom in life, not to do whatever we want, but to enjoy living within His guidelines.  As He changes our hearts, our hearts delight to do His will and we truly find the Bible kind of freedom working in our lives.  That provides a level of joy the world can only begin to understand. That is what I love about serving God. Living in a realm outside of the natural world is truly an adventure and always a pleasure!

Friday, August 7, 2015

It Really Pays To Live For Christ

You're probably thinking well duh......Cyndi. Of course it does.  The benefits of knowing the Lord and knowing that He knows you are endless, boundless and eternal! Everyone knows this! But some days His working in the relatively small but seemingly BIG things just reminds you once again of the meticulous care He gives to His children.

We use an accounting software to keep our business files. For some reason that is technically above my minute understanding of technology, I have to have the jump drive that has the records stored installed in order to use the program. I have never understood this so if anyone would like to enlighten me, I would appreciate it. Anyway, I've just been lazy about figuring things out.

Two evenings ago I did some accounting work for my husband. Instead of taking the drive out and storing it away where I usually keep it, I left it in my computer. This morning, as I looked at my email, I realized that my jump drive was missing. I looked everywhere. I crawled under the sofa, moved all the chairs, sorted through the grandchildren's toys, looked behind and under and in every conceivable place that it could possibly be.  It was no where. As I drove to work this morning, I prayed silently "Lord, please help me find that drive.  It has all our records on it." When I got home, I started all over again looking....looking....looking.  Finally I noticed a hairy gold creature watching me intently and it hit me...the dog!! She eats everything that's not nailed down and some things that are! Here is a photo of her. I think she is too ashamed to look at the camera. Or maybe she's just too busy watching for watermelon that's not nailed down.

I went into the backyard and in a few minutes I found this. 

My heart almost stopped beating right there. Then it started beating so fast, I was sure that I was going to have a heart attack.

I picked it and blew it off realizing that it had laid in the dirt fully exposed for at least one day and possibly two. The end was bent from what was obviously where a dog tooth had chomped down on it and I carefully pulled on it to get it open enough to insert in my laptop. As I gingerly pushed it into my computer being careful to keep my fingers on the sides to guard the delicate stick, the light lit up and began flashing!A sign of life! Soon the program popped on and voila, my data was there! I almost couldn't believe my eyes, except I had prayed and believed that God was perfectly able and willing to protect that jump drive. 

Guarding it with my life, I drove the drive over to the office store and bought two...not one....two new drives and had them transfer the files from the ABCD (Already been chewed drive) to the new drives. On the way home, all I could do was just keep thanking God.....thank God...thank God...thank God...thank God! 

Now I don't for one minute think that He protected that jump drive based on my own merits. Yet I do know that obedient living does open the door for God's blessings to flow more freely into our lives. In this case, He saved me tons of time and frustration. 

This may seem small, and in the light of things going on in the world, this was nothing but for me it was just another living example of how God meticulously cares for us and takes care of the things that concern us. He's not some far off entity.  He is near to those who fear Him. And because He is near, supernatural things happen. To me, it was a miracle that I found it at all, much less that I found it in working order. 

I see this as just one of the many benefits of living for Christ. The Bible in Psalm 103 instructs us to "forget not His benefits."

A Psalm of David. Psalm 103:1-18

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
The Lord performs righteous deeds
And judgments for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses,
His acts to the sons of Israel.
The Lord is compassionate and gracious,
Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.
He will not always strive with us,
Nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins,
Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
As far as the east is from the west,
So far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Just as a father has compassion on his children,
So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.
For He Himself knows our frame;
He is mindful that we are but dust.
As for man, his days are like grass;
As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,
And its place acknowledges it no longer.
But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
And His righteousness to children’s children,
To those who keep His covenant
And remember His precepts to do them.
The Lord has established His throne in the heavens,
And His sovereignty rules over all.
Bless the Lord, you His angels,
Mighty in strength, who perform His word,
Obeying the voice of His word!
Bless the Lord, all you His hosts,
You who serve Him, doing His will.
Bless the Lord, all you works of His,
In all places of His dominion;
Bless the Lord, O my soul!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

No Great Victory Was Ever Won Without A Great Battle

Even though I had time this morning to read, the Lord stopped me just one verse away from where he stopped me yesterday. I just love the way He can take one verse and fill my whole day with insights into His heart through His Word. The Word is an endless book. There is always more to glean by reading it.  It is living and active, not in that it changes but in that it is so deep, the treasures of it could never be gleaned even in a million lifetimes. It gently builds faith and revelation in a man, line upon line and precept upon precept but it is endless in its supply.

“3 We ought always to give thanks to God for you, brethren, as is only fitting, because your faith is greatly enlarged, and the love of each one of you toward one another grows ever greater; 4 therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God 
for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure. 5 This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6 For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7 and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8 dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.9 These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, 10 when He comes to be glorified in His saints on that day, and to be marveled at among all who have believed—for our testimony to you was believed. 11 To this end also we pray for you always, that our God will count you worthy of your calling, and fulfill every desire for goodness and the work of faith with power, 12 so that the name of our Lord Jesus will be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” 2 Thess 3-12

Paul commends them because their faith and love has greatly increased and was growing even greater. It seems he is indicating that the strengthening of love was related to the increase of faith. I believe that love is a natural fruit of faith since our faith comes from God and God is love.  It would just make sense that love would increase as faith grows stronger. When we do not love one another as we should, it is a sign that our faith is weak because faith works by love. Our understanding of the love that God has for us is directly proportional to the amount of faith we can have in Him, thus affecting the amount of love we can have for others. Not loving others correctly hinders the work of God. If we cannot forgive, we cannot be forgiven. It can also hinder our prayer lives as well so that we cannot receive from God all that He has to give us.

But what really piqued my interest was that their faith and love were growing in the midst of persecutions and afflictions. IN THE MIDST of them. They weren’t as a result of having gone through them. The growth didn’t happen in a time of peace as preparation for affliction. No, they were currently experiencing them. 

I’ve experienced this in my own life.  My greatest battles have proven to be my greatest growth times. Our Pastor said on Sunday, “To acquire a great victory, you must walk through a great battle.” That just made sense to me. So many times we want to have great victories without having to go through the battle that it takes to acquire them. How can a victory be great if it was not hard fought? Even in sports, our greatest victories are the ones that we had to fight hard for. I rarely remember the games where we ran all over our opponent. It didn’t cost me anything to win. I didn’t have to stretch my mental or physical abilities to gain it. It was more like a light practice than a competition. Spiritual battles cause us to stretch, to push, to press through things. This causes growth. If we look at them as opportunities to grow and to see God work in our lives, it immediately takes some of the sting away and turns our minds heavenward from whence comes our help.

The best thing about spiritual battles is that we know who wins before we even enter the fray. So we can view them much differently than one with no hope and no help.  We are guaranteed victory through Christ “who always causes us to triumph.” We needn’t lose any battle that comes our way. Our adversary has already been overcome through Christ.  So the matter is not IF we will emerge victorious, but how we are to wage battle through to victory.

So why do we sometimes lose? 

We were blindsided
Sometimes we just don’t see things coming. Sometimes that is just the way it is. Often it is because we have not been walking entirely in the Spirit or our prayer times have been more talking than listening. When we had a devastating car accident, God did warn me something was coming, but I was so busy getting ready for the trip, I didn’t take the time I should have to pray and seek the Lord. But, on the other hand, I was praying and walking closely with God at the time so when it did happen, I recovered quickly because I realized that God had been preparing me through the months beforehand to handle it. In May my retina detached. In the months before that, I felt God preparing me for some kind of change.  I didn’t know what but I knew that challenges were ahead so when it happened, instead of panic, there was peace. Yes, it was emergency. Yes, we had to scramble to get surgery scheduled and it felt as if the situation was controlling us instead of us controlling the situation, but in the midst of all of it there was incredible peace. 

Lack of Knowledge
Did not God Himself say, “my people perish due to lack of knowledge?” Sometimes our troubles are self inflicted.  If we do not know what God says about the things that come to buffet us, then we cannot know what we can expect Him to do and be in the midst of them. God is merciful. He will even comfort sinners in the midst of adversity but for the Christian there is so much more available. Lack of knowledge concerning the Lord’s body and blood caused weakness (sickness) and even death among believers in 1 Corinthians. How do I know they were Christians? They wouldn’t have been taking communion if they weren’t. If we receive things from God through faith, then we must have knowledge of what we can expect from God if we are to receive by faith.  Without the knowledge of His will in every situation we face, we cannot have faith that He is able to accomplish His will in that situation. Jesus only did what He “saw His Father doing.” He always knew the will of God, even when he prayed “if it be they will.” Because of this He knew He could pray and see the will of God accomplished on the earth.

Christians bear a lot of things because they aren’t that bad or doctors can help with the symptoms. Instead of fighting the fight, by the power and grace of Christ and allowing God to be glorified, they just accept things and live with them. Where physical healing could be there is sickness. Where restored relationships could exist, there are fractured ones. Where emotions could be stable and joy could be the ruling emotion of each day, there is depression or drug-induced happiness because the person is just too lazy to seek God for a victory plan and would find it too tedious to carry it out. This is also most likely coupled with the previous reason-lack of knowledge of the Word of God. Where things are bearable or tolerable, people just tend to put up them and miss out on what God has for them. Maybe these would seem like small victories, but without overcoming the small battles, the large ones are lost before we get started.

One of my favorite stories in scripture is the story of Paul and Silas in prison. They chose worship over worry. They chose witnessing over whining. They chose victory over quitting. How could they do this? How did they have the spiritual fortitude to do this in the midst of their persecutions and afflictions? Because the same grace and peace they brought to believers from God, they had already received themselves. They knew the will of God and rejoiced that they were right smack in the middle of it. Knowing that you are walking in the will of God is the greatest joy that a human can know. His will is perfect and worth every battle that we must face to see it accomplished in our lives. 

No matter what you are facing today, there is victory ahead and an opportunity for God to show Himself strong. Seek Him. Find His will. Follow His plan. Shine in the midst of hardship and let the world see that there is a God who is greater. 

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Grace and Peace

I slept longer this morning than I normally do. By the time I had showered, grabbed my lunch from the refrigerator and made my morning smoothie, I didn’t have a lot of time to read my Bible before leaving for work. So as I sat down to read, I prayed and asked the Lord to give me a word in the time I did have. 

It just so happened that I was starting the book of 1 Thessalonians this morning. The first thing I read was the greeting of Paul to the Thessalonian church that says “Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:Grace to you and peace.” This greeting is used 17 times in scripture by Paul, Peter and the Apostle John.

I knew immediately that this was my word for the day. “Grace and peace.” Peace in grace. Peace because of grace. Grace for peace. Peace from grace. 

As a messenger of God, Paul brought them the message of God through the Holy Spirit to His church in Thessalonica-Grace and Peace. He could have started with commands or ordinances. He could have pointed out faults or shortcomings but He didn’t. Of all the messages He could have given, He gave first and foremost grace and peace. 

To those in God and the Lord Jesus Christ, grace and peace. An effect and fruit of being “in” Christ is supposed to be grace and peace. How often I fall short. How often I expect a more harsh greeting from the Lord because of my failures or weaknesses or shortcomings. While I expect a furrowed brow on the Lord’s forehead, He instead offers grace and peace. While I struggle to make it on my own I ignore what He has already given-grace and peace. As thoughts of circumstances assail me, it is there for me-grace and peace. 

It is because of God’s grace that we can live in peace. He has provided by His grace, forgiveness of sins, reconciliation and justification. We are right before God, in good standing, with our sin-slate wiped clean by the blood of His Son. That, in itself, is peace.

It is by grace that we know that all of His promises are yes and amen, His blessings are lavished upon us, we have favor in His sight, protection by His mighty right arm, the care of a perfect father, an abundance of wisdom and knowledge, a lamp to our feet and a light for our path. Our yesterday, today and tomorrow are all taken care of.

In Christ..In Christ... there is grace and peace. He is our shelter, our fortress, our sure foundation. I picture myself in the palm of His hand, under the shadow of His might right arm and the natural result is ...peace.  My God is able and willing and powerful to perform all that His Word has promised.

Of course, we receive nothing from God except through faith, but even faith has come through grace. He has given to every man a measure of faith. It is enough. 

I guess He answered my prayer.  I’ve been thinking on this all day. “Man does not live by bread alone but by every WORD….or two words that proceed from the mouth of God and today God has spoken, in fact in His Word He has spoken again and again….Grace and Peace! Thank you Lord! I receive it in Jesus’ name!

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

My Husband's First Wife

Every now and then, my husband does something just to make me laugh. I came home from work the other day to find the house empty and this laying in my bed. 

I know the photo is not the best. That is a cantalope with a face drawn on it. The hair is a rag dog toy. 

I have to admit, it did make me laugh after I got over the shock of finding another person in my bed. At least she loves the Word!

The comments on facebook were very funny concerning her skin, her shape and her obvious study of the Word.  Then someone made a comment about this being my husband's first wife. The cantalope head kind of could remind you of those shrunken heads you see come out of remote places. 

Then I thought to myself.  My husband's first wife really is dead.  I wasn't a believer when I married my husband. When I think back over my life, it doesn't even seem to me that it began until I met Christ on a personal level. That person I was before Christ seems like a stranger to me. And if I remember correctly, she was just as lifeless, fake, and flat as this lady that I found in my bed.  She was selfish, childish, and irrational. (I had better hair though!) I'm not perfect by any means but I have to say.....

What a difference Christ makes in a life. For that I am so thankful.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Someone, Somewhere Has To Take A Stand

I started this blog months ago and never finished it. But it especially holds true now that summer is upon us. There seems to be a lot of churchitis in the summer months so this will be a good reminder to those who forget that vacations from work do not include vacations from church.

We've will have been in ministry 31 years next spring. Through the years, it seemed that we were blessed to be effective in what we preached, taught and lived. We always shrived to live what we preached because we believed it to be the truth and the correct way to obey and grow in God. That's not to say that we haven't ever changed things. Learning of Christ is an ongoing process and there have been things that we realized that maybe we were a little over-exuberant about but for the most part, the basic and foundational beliefs and practices have remained the same.

One thing that we have never budged on is our observance of the Lord's Day. Many will label this "religious" and they're right. Jesus never banged on religion.  He condemned false religion. There is a difference. There are some things that we should do religiously like brushing our teeth, bathing, eating breakfast, telling our kids that we love them AND "not forsaking the gathering together of ourselves."

We religiously attended our home church every Sunday in that we left no stone unturned to make sure that we could be there every week. The only thing that kept us from it was the occasional illness or catastrophe in the barn-you'll have this when dealing with cows.  They will occasionally get turned sideways while lying in a stanchion stall and break their spine trying to stand up at which point your only course of action is to call the rendering plant and have them come and get her.  Or you will have a moose of a diary cow plug up the door leading outside and the rest of the cows will try to squeeze through and end up breaking a water pipe, thus flooding the barn. But these kinds of things are the exception.

Over the years, we have always taught the importance of being part of a local body and being faithful to church attendance. It has been one of our biggest struggles. On this issue, no one can accuse us of not practicing what we preach.  It has nothing to do with the fact that we are in ministry. When we came to know the Lord, our favorite place to be was in God's house with God's people. There was no thought or desire to be in ministry then.  We drove to church no matter the weather even though we lived almost an hour away in the middle of nowhere where even snow plows sometimes feared to tread. If we went to visit family and wanted to spend the night, we took a day off work and went on Friday so that we could be home and in our home church on Sunday. We let our kids sleep in their car seats and drove through the night to be HOME for church. God always blessed and gave grace, even to our kids for that. It taught our children to have the right view of the family of God, the Body of Christ, and the priority of God's meetings. We never missed-not for family reunions, not for moral/social events that were scheduled for Sunday, not for work-we never took a job if it required us to work on Sunday and usually not even for vacation if we could plan around it.  I did lose a job once because they needed me on Sunday and I refused. God has blessed us for this decision.

Summer is coming and people just tend to go AWOL for no particular reason. I understand that people take vacations and I would begrudge no one that opportunity. Most people that I know do attend church somewhere when they are on vacation and for that I commend them. Still, others seem to have the view that as long as they go to church SOMEWHERE on any given Sunday that it is okay. Or they think that watching a live stream service of some pet preacher is the same as church attendance.

I'm not advocating the "I'm of Paul, and I'm of Apollos" mentality either. However, there are reasons that God has directed you to a certain church.  If He hasn't, for heaven's sake find out where you're supposed to be and get plugged in there. You are needed somewhere and you need to be in a church where God can give words to you through his messenger, your Pastor. Yes folks, your Pastor has a higher purpose than comforting you when you're sick, marrying you, burying you, and giving you little pats on the back to assure you of your spirituality. He won't be held accountable with any of that, but he will be held accountable for what he preached and delivered. If he's accountable for presenting it, then you are accountable for hearing and heeding what he says.

Last year my husband contemplated putting a sign on the door one Sunday morning that read "Cancelled Due To Lack Of Interest". Of course, that would have only punished the faithful but it was very discouraging. So before you go running off to Anywhereland this summer consider a few things:

-God has given gifts to the church.
-He has placed those gifts in people.
-When he places a gift in a church, it is inside of a person.
-If the person is missing from the place where the gift was needed, thus being why God placed it there, then the gift is missing from the church.
-When gifts are missing, the Body suffers.

-Your Pastor seeks God for a message every week. It takes time, prayer and study. He delivers what God says the Body needs.
-If you aren't there, you won't get what God has for you that week. The potential for catasrophe exists when you are missing things God wants you to hear. If I had a nickel for every time I've heard someone say "I wish I had been there when that was preached" or my husband says "I really felt that the sermon was for so and so, but they weren't there", I'd be driving a new truck.

-It's just not about making sure you are in church somewhere. That is just religious activity and at its very heart, selfish. Well, I went to church, I heard a sermon, I worshipped a little, I paid my tithe so I'm in good standing with God. I'm still under God's blessing spout. It's all about me, me, me.
-Perhaps you could change your plans, cut your trip short one day, or some other type of sacrifice to actually be where God placed you to hear what He wants you to hear and minister to others in the way He has graced you to minister. Your gifts are important!
-Your home church won't be home long if you are constantly missing.

There will be times when it is impossible to be in your home church. That's understandable but it is important for you and those you call "family" to make HOME church attendance a priority. Some people will poo-poo this idea but it was preached of old and has proven in our lives to be a true source of blessing.

It's a matter of faithfulness.  If you want to serve in a church, you have to prove yourself faithful. Maybe the reason you aren't asked to serve is because you haven't proven faithfulness to the body of Christ where God has placed you. Church attendance is a good place to start. Being there helps you connect and take ownership of a body of believers. It's important, even when it's summer.


Monday, June 22, 2015


To be honest, I really wanted to blog about something else today. I read a really stupid blog this morning-not the way I wanted to start my week. It was a Christian banging on their church. This has happened several times before on this blog and it disturbs me. The first time it happened I just decided to extend some grace. The second time it happened, I prayed for the person because obviously they had some issues that required the Lord's grace. Today it just made me mad. (I do have Irish roots and we are known to be a bit hot blooded you know. That's not an excuse for anger manifesting itself though. With the Lord's help I have learned to control my temper, in fact, I have learned to just let things roll off like water off a freshly waxed car. I've decided that the misplaced anger of others is not worth my attention and certainly not worth my time. That doesn't mean that things don't upset me. They do. I just think them through carefully before voicing any opinions either to the Lord or to others. Usually after being mad, I grow sad. And I'm sure in this case, it made Jesus sad too which makes me even sadder.)

Eph 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.

So I am going to explain why this kind of behaviour is damaging and suggest some ways in which blogs can be used for edification. We are not to be devouring each other in a public forum.  In fact, we shouldn't be devouring each other at all. I shouldn't have to be writing this, but it seems that according to the need of the moment, it would be beneficial. I don't even know if that person reads my blog.  I kind of doubt it, but for all of you who do, please consider what I am going to say.

Based on this verse, I will say that it is very poor character when someone feels the need to criticize the church or it's members publically on a blog or on FaceBook when they have not spoken with said members or leadership about what is obviously a burr in their saddle. If someone has something to say to or about a body, it should be said in church at the appropriate time and in the appropriate way. Afterall, we are supposed to be family. In our house, and probably in most homes, if someone is upset about something, they just say it. If someone hung the dirty laundry of blood relations out to dry on a public forum, anyone would naturally be furious so I don't understand why some folks have no problem hanging the church's out there for all to see. Does not scripture say that we are more family than even our blood relations? If we are to forsake natural family for the sake of the Kingdom, that includes the people in the Kingdom who have become, by God's great power and design, our family.

Venting on a public blog or facebook just serves to upset church members and cause division. More importantly, it makes church bodies look bad to any sinners that may be reading the blog and brings reproach on the name of Christ. As Christians, we should not be providing opportunities for offense. More importantly, we shouldn't be voicing our own problems with offense on line. If we need to cry in our beer, do it before the Lord but be ready for what He may have to say. If your aim is transparency, be transparent about your own shortcomings, not everyone elses.

I have noticed through the years with blogs such as these that most of the time there is no valid point being made. More often than not, it is because the person has perceived the situation through their own tinted glasses instead of seeing that their world is much too small and that their nose is stuck in their naval. So they vent on a public forum thinking they are being spiritual by using ambiguities and generalizations when what they are really doing is just getting their digs in to satisfy their flesh which hurts the Body of Christ and the cause of Christ. What we ought to do is consider others more important than ourselves and let love cover a multitude of sins. If it is a legitimate hurt, the Bible is very clear on how to handle them and if I recall correctly, it never mentions telling the world and anyone else who will listen.

Surely there is enough crap on line without Christians adding to it. Seriously, why not talk about the greatness of God, the plight of sinners, the healing power of the Holy Spirit, the love of Jesus Christ for the world, the goodness of God in your own life or in the lives of others instead of being a knit picky exposer of perceived faults of those the Lord has placed in your life to be family. And if you don't think they are being family, perhaps examine your own self and see how much "family" you are being to them! Be what you are in word AND deed and if you aren't, stop complaining because they aren't that to you!

The church body is not perfect. The Pastor and his wife are not perfect! We live in an imperfect world and imperfected flesh. Learn to deal with it and go with the flow. At least, learn to rise above what you see as faults in others and pray genuine prayers for God's blessing and santification in their lives. Take the negatives and turn them to positives. Take the spirituality that you have received and be spiritual! Project some grace into the situation by using edifying words that give grace to those who hear it...or read it.

Too many people see themselves as the victim in every situation. I can't tell you how many times I read or hear of people thinking that they are somehow victimized by the church. If your church truly does that, go somewhere else but before doing that sit down with your Pastor and discuss your feelings.  More often than not you will find that you are not really seeing things completely clearly because of your own weaknesses. Honestly, with all the people in this world that are going to hell, Christian bloggers have plenty to write about that could make a difference in the life of a lost person, a downtrodden person, or a person who is hurting and needs healing or encouragement. At the very least, we could project a little goodness into the world and brighten someone's day or give hope to someone who has lost faith. 

We have no time to wallow in immaturity! Let's put our big person pants on and be a positive influence in the world and the church!

Monday, June 15, 2015

God's Timely Promises

On May 14th, the retina in my left eye decided to say "tallyho" to my eyeball.  I was sitting at work and noticed that everything looked "wavey" and not the kind of wavey you see at the beach. I called the eye doctor and went in for an exam and within 2 hours was sitting in a surgeon's office and scheduled for emergency surgery early the next morning. All went well and I am already back at work, although I am temporarily blind in that eye. (I will write more on all of this later.)

Through this whole ordeal, I have been amazed at the peace of God that has pervaded my life. Once jumping on this wave, everything went really quickly-the opthamologist, the surgeon, traveling to the hospital, the operation and home, the return visit to the hospital the day after surgery and home again. It was one of those buckle your seatbelts and hold on experiences. Outside of asking my husband to pray with me before entering the operating room, there was really little else except this deep, abiding peace. In the midst of not knowing if the detachment had progressed to the point of no return, there was just peace. In thinking about missing work and my ability to return to my present job, there was just peace.

On my desk at work, I have a scripture calendar that my sister gave to me.  Each day I tear off the previous day to see the beautiful photo and verse for the day. I'm not a believer in using these like some use their horoscopes, but I find it uncanny at how much a verse will bless me on a certain day because it deals with exactly what kind of day I'm having. On the day of my surgery, had I been at work I would have seen "Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee: the glory of the Lord shall be thy rear guard."

What a perfect verse for that day. I don't think God designed that calendar just for me, but it is amazing to think that in His infinite knowledge of time and people that His hand was on the person designing and arranging the days on that calendar. I'd like to think that He had me in mind along with the myriad of other people who now own this calendar.

Impossible?  Not for my God! And it is just something that He would do!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I May Not Be A Shadow, But I'm Not A Mirror Either!

Many of you know that I have never felt like I fit in the Pastor's wife mold and I have had open rebellion when someone has tried to force me into it. And although I don't see this role that I play as a "position" in the church, I do assume a certain position in the hierarchy of my family and since my husband happens to be a Pastor, I am called the Pastor's wife. 

Most of what I do in the church revolves around one of two things, my spiritual gifts or my God given call of helpmate to my husband. My desire has always been to serve the Lord, my husband, my family, and my church family.  It has nothing to do with my "position". I rather choose to serve in quiet service and quite frankly I don't give a rip if everyone in the church is happy with me or not. It's not that I don't care, it's just that I have learned that if I tried to fulfill everyone's expectations of what a Pastor's wife should be, I'd be like a dog at the circus jumping through fiery hoops. I don't like fire or hoops and a little bit of circus goes a long, long way!

When we left our denomination, or rather, when they left us, we became affiliated with a Pentecostal group that was similar to what had left us. In order to be ordained, we had to fly to sunny southern California to attend the ordination service. When the minister who was praying for people came to us, he stopped and prophesied over my husband first, and then me. As he spoke, he said some things that really resonated with me and some things that I didn't, at that time understand. After the service, we were given a copy of the prophesies to take home with us.  I tucked mine in my Bible for further consideration and prayer. 

We are not to spurn personal prophecies or immediately accept them as gospel truth either.  Let's face it, there are a lot of false prophesy nuts out there and we must be careful. I've been too often on the end of a wrong prophecy, and thanks be to God, He has always helped me to discern. We are warned in scripture in 1 Thes 5  "Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances.  But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good;  abstain from every form of evil" and in 1 Jn 4:1 "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world."

This particular organization was very pro-woman. They believed that women had total equality with men, both in position and function within the Body of Christ. I agree that we are equal in position, in Christ, but it should be obvious to anyone with two eyes that we are created a little bit different then men, so we are different in function. I have no desire to be a man.  I want to embrace the grand, beautiful design of womanhood. And if that womanhood means that I am third on the total pole of functionality in the church, Praise God! I would never want to serve outside of God's design for me as a woman because let me tell you ladies, we do not want to try to do spiritual work without the right equipment! It's always a disaster!

Because of this, they also believed that when a man was called to ministry, his wife was called as well. You see this idea still in many churches. The wife preaches and teaches as much as her husband. I'm not against this IF the wife is actually called to these things, but to assume that the wife automatically inherits her husbands gifts and callings doesn't make sense, in fact, I think it is demeaning to women. 

The thing that he said to me in the prophecy was "you are not just a shadow of your husband." This was to encourage me to be a minister as well. Funny, I thought I was already doing that. I had at that point in my life, discipled many young women who were all over the world in missions and ministry or being a helpmate to their minister husbands. I was teaching Sunday school and leading the worship team. I was never one to like standing up in front of a group and doing anything, but I thrived in leading in a small group setting. I was raising 3 children in the fear and admonition of the Lord and was about to add one more to that mix. I was taking good care of my husband and "filling in the cracks" at church to make sure that everything was running smoothly. I wondered, was this just to "tide me over" until I married the man who would dictate my giftings? Certainly not!

Through the years I'd had the "one flesh" verse thrown in my face as they tried to ordain me every year as a minister of their organization. I told them over and over again they could ordain me all they wanted but I was not paying the fee nor would I ever use my ID card to assert myself as in some "position".  (Actually I did use it one time when the hospital didn't believe I was a Pastor's wife when trying to get into the emergency room to see an injured church member, but that was merely an act of desperation!) The organization couldn't argue with me using scripture, so they used book excerpts to try to convince me that essentially my gifts before ordination were now expired and now I should operate in the same gifts as my husband. I insisted on scripture but they could provide nothing but the one flesh verse, which essentially, in the context that they used it in would make the sinner spouse of an ordained minister with their organization gifted to preach and teach as well.  I could shoot that one down pretty quickly and they could never provide me any other scriptures to support their pleas. I'm stubborn like that. Eventually they quit calling. 

I always thought that whole train of thought actually defeated their attempts to validate and elevate women.  Essentially it said that women were not complete in their gifts until married to a minister or ordained themselves.  I don't believe that the gifts that God had given me as young woman were just "temporary-get-by gifts" until I could step into whatever calling my husband had! I am complete, married or not! I am gifted by God, married or not! I have a place and a purpose and worth in the Kingdom with or without a spouse. 

And even though I agree it wouldn't have been good for me to be a shadow, it would have been equally bad for me to be a mirror, which is what this organization seemed to be advocating. I am called to mirror Christ in whatever gifts and callings HE has given me. Those operated in me before my husband even thought about the ministry, while he prepared for ministry and after he entered the ministry. How they manifested in my life might have been different depending on the situation and need, but they remained unchanged and without repentance, as scripture says. I've never bent to the pressure that is put on Pastor's wives to be anything but Godly, as God has called us all to be. 

I encourage you today to find the gifts that God has given you and run with them! You are not the second part of a two for one deal. If you are called to preach, preach.  If you are called to teach, teach.  If you one of the "unseemly gifts", do that with all your might. Don't allow the perceptions of what others think a Pastor's wife to be squeeze you into a mold that was never meant to be yours! I will tell you that it won't feel comfortable and eventually parts of you will pop out due to the shear pressure of the molded life. God created you the way He did with the full knowledge of why He needed you to be that way. It's how He will use you! Let God mold you around that gifts He has given you and you will be able to minister in power, authority and with great success. Don't worry. People will eventually get over the fact that you are not anything like what they expect you to be and will grow to accept and be thankful that you are who you are. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Baseballs, Pirate Patches and Mr. Bubble

To say that the last couple of weeks were not an adventure would be a lie. One Thursday I went to work, just like I normally do.  I had noticed some wonky things with my eyesight and decided to call the eye doctor, just for a quick check. By 10am I was out of his office and into an eye surgeons office and by 11am, I was scheduled for surgery bright and early the next morning. 

Surgery was pretty much a non event. I enjoyed watching the surgeon use a straw-like vacuum to suck out all those floaties that had veiled my vision for months causing me to need excessive amounts of light. See ya later alligators, as my grandson would say! The nausea afterwards was no fun, probably caused by the 2 hour car ride with my head leaning forward staring at my toes.  I am a little prone to car sickness and believe me, no food for 24 hours mingled with some happy juice and a long car ride was working it's magic. Even the stop halfway home for some ginger ale and something to put in my stomach didn't help. 

Once arriving at home, two boxes bigger than I am, and that's sayin' something there, were unpacked of all kinds of weird equipment to keep me face down for the next 5 days. 

This little number became my best friend. Mine came complete with a tray which held snacks, my journal and some good reading material.  It also had a mirror system that enabled me to see someone's face if they were standing in front of the chair. That really helped in making me feel part of the world while I was locked in this half-blind face down cocoon. I'm not a big tv watcher, but the Waltons were never so appealing to me as they were those 5 days.  Of course, my husband preferred to bend over upside down and stick his face under the headrest where mine was peeking out. His antics and funny faces did help lighten the mood at just the right and needed times. Since the pad and head rest they gave me to ensure comfort while sleeping face down was more like a medieval torture machine, I endured the nights with the help of youtube and the scripture downloads I have on my phone and then during the day I cat napped in this chair. Fortunately my fears of needing a plastic table cloth under the chair to catch all the drool did not materialize. Save the carpet!

There was also an assortment of pillows for my face, a large square form block with an apparatus for a face pillow to use while riding in the car.  It really helped on those long trips back to the hospital for post surgical checkups. My favorite thing though was my husbands strong arm that I clung to when he took me on walks outside. Having to bend over and put your chin to your chest does leave you vulnerable to storm drains and parked cars.  He gently guided me around them several times a day because quite honestly, being confined in that head cushion for 50 minutes out of every hour for 5 whole days tends to make one a little stir crazy!

Okay, now you're probably wondering why I titled this baseballs, pirate patches and Mr. Bubble. Well, eventually I didn't have to be face down all the time.  Now I am allowed to sleep on my side or on my stomach, but this time I can turn my head to the side. I cannot, however sleep on my back, lean back in a recliner, fly in an airplane or go anywhere with a significant increase in altitude.  This is due to Mr. Bubble who now resides in the back of my eye for the next couple of months. The doctor put him there so that when I laid on my stomach he would rise to the top and put pressure on my newly glued on retina. Over time he will dissipate but for now he is a constant irritation.  Every time I blink, he jiggles. When I walk, he jiggles. As I turn my head he floats from top to bottom and side to side in my eye as gravity dictates. Unlike the Mr. Bubble I knew as a child, who gave me many hours of bubbly fun in the bathtub, this Mr. Bubble is a bit unnerving because it's the only thing I can see out of my eye at present. He also gives me occasional moments of terror when I wake at night forgetting that I'm temporarily blind in one eye. It's a good thing I don't have heart trouble! He gives new meaning to night terrors!

Because Mr. Bubble is not allowed certain places in my eye, thus the warning not to lay on my back or look heavenward, I have taken to sleeping with baseballs in the back of my pajamas. Believe me, when you roll on one of those babies in the middle of the night, it wakes you up! So far, this seems to be the only thing that successfully keeps me off my back and reminds me to turn over in a stomach-ward direction. I did receive Kudos from the Dr.'s office for my ingenuity. 

After a week, I was released to resume all regular activity, which includes work. Staring at a computer screen and various types of purchase orders when all you can see is light and dark out of one eye sure strains my good eye, so I have to wear an eye patch. The only color I could find was black. After bemoaning the fact that I already look like I'm turning into a zombie with one regular eye and one hyper dilated, blood shot eye, now I had to add a black pirate patch to the mix. Fortunately for me, I have very creative friends who decided that black was just not my color. So they covered it with a pretty blue/purple paisley print. It makes me feel much better about wearing it now!

So there it is folks. My life over the last two weeks.  And my life over the next 4-6 weeks as well. But when it's all said and done, I'd rather be able to see with both eyes than to sleep on my back. I'm funny that way! 

Monday, May 18, 2015

For Better or Worse...This Year Was Worse

Hubby and I just celebrated  had our 33rd wedding anniversary. On Thursday, the day before our anniversary, my retina decided to say "tallyho" to my eyeball. My vision became
wavy and full of weird shadows.  So on Friday, he drove me 1 1/2 hours to Holy Spirit hospital-hows that for a comforting name?-for emergency surgery on my eye. What a way to spend an anniversary.  I could just picture him sitting in the waiting room thinking about how far behind he was getting with his lawn business and being "so thankful" that he had married me.

Actually, he was sitting in the waiting room thinking but more about how I was doing than anything else. Life has been challenging lately.  He has had some very scary symptoms but after extensive blood tests appears to be okay. There are a few issues that we will be dealing with in the coming months with him and we are facing another surgery on my right eye and cataract removal on both eyes.

Things come in life that we neither expect or welcome. When you are our age, it is just common sense to know that issues are going to pop up from time to time, but that doesn't make them any easier to process or go through.  Frankly, with my husband's symptoms the way they were and the doctor's puzzlement at them, I had an almost daily fight with fear. My hubby is just about my whole world. He is the one person that knows me best and loves me in spite of it. I guess he would say the same about me.

Even with all the craziness that day, we managed to laugh, to enjoy each other, and to pray together even though I had some crazy yellow surgical socks and a puffy blue hat on that didn't at all match the grey checked hospital gown that I was sporting. Seriously, it's a good thing that married love is blind and I'm not talking about the kind of blind that I currently am! LOL! Don't worry, It's temporary.

Even now, when he's tired in the evenings, he takes me for walks.  I can't go by myself because of how I have to hold my head and the fact that I am totally, temporarily blind in my left eye.  He steers me around storm grates and parked cars so I don't end up looking like my son's French Bulldog "Jacks". He doesn't like to walk, but he gladly dons his shoes and a smile and off we go. In order to see my face, he has to turn upside down and look in the mirror system on the front of my special chair that has been my abode for the last 4 day. And of course, when his face pops in there, it has some silly expression on it to make me laugh. It's about my only contact with the world right now. He's the best nurse ever.

Anniversaries come and go. Some are better than others. We will celebrate our anniversary when things calm down around here. But we can celebrate our marriage everyday by loving, honoring and cherishing each other for better...or for worse.

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Things You Heard At First

1 Jn 2:24

 24 As for you, let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father.

John is talking about the doctrine that they heard in the beginning.

-That doctrine that first brought the revelation of the Messiah to their hearts.
-That doctrine that, once received, changed them from the inside out.
-That name that has power to work miracles in mind, soul and body.
-That message, that brought hope, comfort and an eternal future with God.
-That Spirit that was now abiding in them.

John was speaking about those who had heard but had discarded the message that they had heard. He was reminding them that what they heard at first was the truth and that if they remained in the truth, the truth would keep them abiding in Christ. 

The phrase "what you heard from the beginning" caught my attention. As all Christians do, I battle thoughts from time to time. The devil tries very hard to get my mind off Christ's sufficiency and on to my insufficiency. Every now and then when the he thinks that I may have let my guard down, he tries to sneak in and pollute my mind with old thought patterns, old fears, and old failures and try to convince me that I really haven't changed at all or that I'm not measuring up in this Kingdom walk of mine. He tries to tell me that I've just been "playing" with God and that in the end I will discover that he had deceived me all along. It's a cruel ploy, but hey, he's not known for his manners.

When that happens, I find it helpful to go back to the very beginning, to that day when I first really "heard" the message of the gospel and received it as my own.  

I'd heard the gospel all my life. I grew up hearing it, reciting verses about it and singing about it in a church choir. I knew the drill that in some churches you were going to hear it from 1000 different viewpoints and then be begged and pleaded with to come to an altar and accept it. I had attended a Baptist Vacation Bible School where I heard about hell in graphic detail. I went to the altar then out of fear.  I guess you could say that I got scared into the Kingdom. After a month or so, my decision faded away. All of that had little noticeable effect on me.

Twenty-two years later I sat at the local Assembly of God on a Sunday morning, one lowly figure in a sea of 500 people. I was there alone, or so I thought, my backslidden husband was still running from God. As I sat in the pew during the prayer, a wretched sinner mind you, I heard the Lord's voice say to me "I love you and I want to have a loving relationship with you." It caught me by surprise. There was no altar call that morning, but I made one.  I figured that if God had gone so far to speak to me, then I could go the rest of the way. The call was so strong that I stood up and walked to the front of the sanctuary unaware of the 500 people who were staring at me.  The Pastor saved me from looking like a total idiot by actually giving an altar call. A lovely, red haired lady came and prayed with me and as we prayed it felt as if a 5,000 lb weight lifted off my shoulders. I literally floated out of church that day. My life was forever changed from then on and oh how far along it has all come.

So when the devil tries to discourage me, I think back to the very first thing I heard when I knew that God was speaking to me. I was a sinner. My marriage was failing. I was unhappy in my career. I was a negative, totally defeated, unlovely person. I had already once started to end my life but thoughts of God and "that hell to shun" stopped me. Thank God for Baptists! I remember back to the things I heard at first and I'm reminded that if God loved me when I was unlovely, He still loves me yet today with that same love. I certainly wasn't perfect then and I'm certainly not perfect now but I'm just as loved by God either way.  So no matter what is happening to me, no matter how bad my day is going, and even if I'm allowing the devil to plant bad thought seeds in my head, God's love for me remains the same that it was the very first day when He wooed me to an altar with whispers of His love for me. 

I can return to that sacred place in my mind and I remember that "the things I heard at first" are still true today!
-That doctrine that first brought the revelation of the Messiah to my heart.
-That doctrine that, once received, changed me from the inside out.
-That name that has power to work miracles in mind, soul and body.
-That message, that brought hope, comfort and an eternal future with God.
-That Spirit that is now abiding in me.
-God desires to love me and to be loved by me. What a thought!