I Don’t Do THAT!

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I don’t cuss.
I don’t watch television.
I don’t drink alcohol.
I don’t wear tank tops.
I don’t eat pork.
I don’t listen to rock music.
I don’t have tattoos.
I don’t miss church.

I don’t, I don’t, I don’t. The religious have filled themselves with their rules that they want to impose on others. God cares just as much about we do.

I do have a deep relationship with God.
I do have love for others.
I do extend a helping hand.
I do fail from time to time, but I try again.
I do cut people a break.
I do talk to people about God and my faith.
I do try to be patient.

Saying “I do” doesn’t mean that I am in agreement with what is going on your life. “I do” merely means that I am committed to helping you through it. “I do” resolve to not judge your motives but only your actions because I find that my own “don’ts” have me just as bound in my judgment as you are in your sin. If I take a step back they are equally disdainful in the eyes of the Lord we profess to serve. What makes the “I don’t” crowd better than the Pharisees in the days of Jesus if they use that as a measuring stick to righteousness, rather than the love we show one towards another?

Be careful that your measuring stick of holiness is not solely in your “I Don’t” or “I Do” confessions but rather that it’s measured by what the word has to say.

Carrying Out Our Servant Assignment

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1 Corinthians 3:1. But for right now, friends, I’m completely frustrated by your unspiritual dealings with each other and with God. You’re acting like infants in relation to Christ, 2. capable of nothing much more than nursing at the breast. Well, then, I’ll nurse you since you don’t seem capable of anything more. 3. As long as you grab for what makes you feel good or makes you look important, are you really much different than a babe at the breast, content only when everything’s going your way? 4. When one of you says, “I’m on Paul’s side,” and another says, “I’m for Apollos,” aren’t you being totally infantile? 5. Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter? Servants, both of us – servants who waited on you as you gradually learned to entrust your lives to our mutual Master. We each carried out our servant assignment. 6. I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plants, but God made you grow. 7. It’s not the one who plants or the one who waters who is at the center of this process but God, who makes things grow. 8. Planting and watering are menial servant jobs at minimum wages. 9. What makes them worth doing is the God we are serving. You happen to be God’s field in which we are working. 10. Using the gift God gave me as a good architect, I designed blueprints; Apollos is putting up the walls. Let each carpenter who comes on the job take care to build on the foundation! 11. Remember, there is only one foundation, the one already laid: Jesus Christ. 12. Take particular care in picking out your building materials. 13. Eventually there is going to be an inspection. If you use cheap or inferior materials, you’ll be found out. The inspection will be thorough and rigorous. You won’t get by with a thing. 14. If your work passes inspection, fine; 15. if it doesn’t, your part of the building will be torn out and started over. But you won’t be torn out; you’ll survive – but just barely. 16. You realize, don’t you, that you are the temple of God, and God himself is present in you? 17. No one will get by with vandalizing God’s temple, you can be sure of that. God’s temple is sacred – and you, remember, are the temple. 18. Don’t fool yourself. Don’t think that you can be wise merely by being up-to-date with the times. 19. Be God’s fool – that’s the path to true wisdom. What the world calls smart, God calls stupid. It’s written in Scripture, He exposes the chicanery of the chic. 20. The Master sees through the smoke screens of the know-it-alls. 21. I don’t want to hear any of you bragging about yourself or anyone else. Everything is already yours as a gift – 22. Paul, Apollos, Peter, the world, life, death, the present, the future – all of it is yours, 23. and you are privileged to be in union with Christ, who is in union with God. -“The Message”

Quotes From Jenesis

I hadn’t seen my little monkey, except for briefly on Sundays. Every time I saw her she’d say, “Pastor Susan, I miss you, and we need to talk. Can we go to Jamba or Starbucks this week?” So Wednesday, we spent the afternoon together.

I had to go to Costco and the office supply store, so we took a drive. The drive up she napped so there wasn’t much talking but when she woke up she was starving and full of things to talk about. We went to eat and her biggest delight was this milk shake with the cherry on top. “I like this place because the milk shakes come in this glass with a cherry on top. They don’t come in those little cups. This is a fun place. I’ve never been here before but I know I’m going to like it, because of the glass and the milk shake.” Six is still a funny age, and the things she had to say made me smile and laugh out loud.

“We need to bring Pastor Doug here. He would love this.” When I asked her if we should bring the kids with us she said, “No way, just the three of us!”

When shoe shopping: “Flats are baby shoes, I don’t wear flats. I wear heels, I’m six years old, you know.”
When seeing Jessica Simpson platforms, “Oh! Pastor Susan, do these come in size 12? These are beautiful!”

She wanted to tell me about a crush she had on a boy, “My rule is NO SCHOOL BOYS, ONLY CHURCH BOYS. You know that lady that is married to the drummer? They are like Angie’s cousins, or something like that?”
“NO! Not Iris, she’s not even in the band, silly, the woman that’s married to the drummer that’s not David the drummer, the other drummer!”
“Yes! Coco, his wife.”
“Yeah, yeah, Vikki, she told David about my crush on him, she said, ‘You have an admirer!’ How embarrassing she is! You know who Carmen likes? Well, she used to like Robert, but now they are cousins, or something like that, so she likes David too. Plus she likes the son of the lady with the three sons who have their hair kinda spiky, what’s their names?”
“Christopher, yeah him, I think. Angie pretends she doesn’t like anybody but she is just too shy to say who she likes, I know who she likes.”

“Did you know that when I’m 16, my dad is going to make me a car? A hot rod, with flames.”

“Turn the station to 1-1-5, that’s Disney, I’ll tell you if that’s right. Yes, Yes, that’s right, that’s the Jonas Brothers.”


“Can you believe the dogs had puppies AGAIN? AGAIN, Pastor Susan, I couldn’t believe it, but they did.”

“Kids in my class kiss at recess. Can you believe it? Kindergarten, Pastor Susan, and they-are-kissing. I was going to tell the teacher that I saw them but…I forgot.”

“Remember when I used to like Corbin Bleu? I was little back then, now I like Justin Bieber. He’s 16. He drives you know, I saw him in a car.” “No! Not in our town! On TV of course!”

I love spending time with this girl. Her conversations surprise me. Sometimes, she is so deep and other times so funny. She was a typical girl though, she had a million things to say and she was never quiet. I don’t remember being this savvy at her age and I don’t think my daughter Casey was either, but it goes to show how kids are growing up these days. I’m over the top with this child and I can’t believe how fast it all goes. I remember holding her as a baby and playing ring-around-the rosies with her when she was two and now she’s six. Time flies. Jenesis is my practice for grandkids. If I love them 1/2 as much as I love her they will be blessed!

Lulu Lives A Pretty Good Life!

This picture was taken a year and a half ago but it still looks the same today. Lu believes this king sized bed is hers and she graciously allows us to share it with her. She prefers to sleep on the pillow but my husband insists that she sleep on the other end of the bed. So after he falls asleep, she makes her way back up again. Who says dogs are dumb?

I was listening to Cesar Milan and he was talking about American dogs vs. Mexican dogs. He said that America is the only place where dogs have psychological issues and where we throw them birthday parties, and Mexican dogs, although they may be a little skinny, are well-adjusted.

I had to laugh. It’s really true. Statistically in America almost half of all dog owners allow their dogs to sleep in their bed. We are big on groomers, trainers, anti-depressants, organic food and clothes. I really love Lu. She doesn’t go to the groomer, but I do bathe her and comb her out once a month. She doesn’t have a trainer, although she is with me most days all day at work and so therefore being trained every day. She isn’t on anti-depressants but I credit Starbucks for that. She goes to Starbucks once or twice a week and they give her a free cup of whipped cream. I believe this act of kindness keeps her happy and well-adjusted, believing that the world is a beautiful place to live. She has regular kibble dog food, a good brand, but nothing earth shaking, mostly she turns her nose up at it. She prefers to eat what I eat. She hates popcorn, but if it’s a choice between popcorn or kibble, she chooses popcorn. She loves Kashi bars and she eats a salad with gusto, although she does play with her olives like a ball but eventually she eats them. She’s too big for clothes or she would have some but she does have a DIVA collar.

So what makes American dogs so maladjusted? I think it’s because we apply anthropomorphism to our pets. I know I do. I think I know what Lu is thinking at any given moment. My husband is generally rolling his eyes at me as I talk to her. And what makes us do this with our dogs? What about them makes us so obsessed with their happiness? Could it maybe be that as technology becomes a substitute for going out and making real friendships that dogs become our best friends? Could it be that for many of us, we don’t live near our family and so we create a family with our pets? I can’t really profess to have the answer to this but I know our dogs are spoiled as they never have been before. I mean, my grandparents would have never thought about a dog sleeping on a bed or taking the dog to a trainer or a groomer.

I recently heard about this book I will order soon called, One Nation Under Dog, Adventures in the New World of Prozac Popping Puppies, Dog Park Politics and Organic Pet Food by Michael Schaffer, that discusses this topic in depth. It instantly made it to my book list of things to read. As soon as I get to it, I’ll let you know its findings! I’m interested to know if the author has come to the same conclusion that we are humanizing our pets and therefore making it weird for them.

I was out walking Lu the other day and a guy said she was a good looking dog. “She’s not fat”, he observed, “she’s lean and very well behaved, good looking dog.” I stood there smiling and proud as a mom would be when her child is complimented. Yup, Lu has a good life. She doesn’t have all the luxuries of the other dogs but she is pretty lucky! I walked away patting myself on the back for having raised such a fine dog. Lu was strutting as well, she knows she has the “it” factor and she agreed with the guy that she is a good looking dog!


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There is even a word for it. Entrepreneur Magazine in it’s March issue claims that this recession has hit men the hardest and for the first time in history unemployment rates are higher for men 10.2% than for women 8.2%. For the complete story click here.

I’m still processing what this means overall. I’m grateful that people are working and that the article itself was positive, stating women have made big strides in the marketplace, are creating jobs as they begin companies, and are contributing powerfully to the economy and the world. Still, I can’t help but wonder why more women are going to college than men these days, why there are so many absent fathers, and what the men are doing, what are their roles in society these days? What does this say overall about our culture, and where is our country heading over the next several years? As a woman there is so much pressure between her desires for family and her career that I can’t help but wonder if there is a breaking point where the pressure just becomes too much?



Well after 8 years of being a stepparent I think I’ve figured out a thing or two and I also think I should be awarded a GIANT crown for my efforts.

All kidding aside, I have learned some valuable lessons and thought I’d share.

1. It’s not personal. You may have to repeat this to yourself several times a day, but the fact is that nothing that another person does is personal. So in my case, my step kids don’t do things to get back at me, they simply don’t do things for whatever reason they have. Anything from ignoring a chore, to ignoring me. It’s not about me, anyone in my role would be the target.

2. They are a family. I had this idea that I was going to come along and enter in and be loved and love and we would all be one big happy family. When that didn’t happen, I became resentful. Guess what? Just as my kids and I were a family, my husband and his children were a family. They had their own dynamics, in other words, they had a way of doing things that whether or not I agreed with, had already been established. My job wasn’t to change their family, it was to learn to adapt within the system of their family, and come up with a workable solution. That meant that if I didn’t want food in the kids room and dad would allow it, I really had no say. Of course when the smell of rotten eggs that had been hidden and forgotten reached the bottom of the stairs, I had a right to complain and my husband had to go on a scavenger hunt to find them. Well, ’nuff said about that as I’m sure you can imagine. 😀

3. Learn boundaries. Just because it was okay to go through dad’s drawers in his bedroom, doesn’t mean that it’s okay to go through mine. Clear cut boundaries had to be set, no matter how ridiculous the bio-parent may think the boundaries are you have a right to them. We had to learn to respect each other’s bondaries.

4. Take a deep breath! Find some time alone, even bio-kids get on your nerves sometimes. It’s not a crime to decide that you are going to go shopping for the day alone. Learn to have YOU time. It can de-stress a situation and it can give you perspective.

5. It’s not a reflection of you. I think as mothers we see our children as a reflection of us. The problem here is that step kids aren’t always. I see my step kids now after 8 years quoting me or I see mannerisms of myself in them but it wasn’t always the case. If they act up or do things out of the character of your family remember that it’s not on you. You are a mentor. You were called to be a solid godly mentor.

Finally, pray, pray, pray and then pray some more. The fact of the matter is that blending a family is not for wimps. You will have challenges, you all will say things you don’t mean from time to time, and forgiveness will be a daily ordeal, but you can and will get through it.

After 8 years, I love my step kids. They aren’t perfect, neither am I. We have learned to dwell in love and peace. Of course we have our moments, everyone does. When you take the ultimate responsibility off your shoulders, and put them squarely on the shoulders they belong on, the bio parent, you will find you aren’t feeling so trapped and resentful anymore.

Hung Up On The Whys?


Ever talk to a three year old? They will ask a simple question that then leads to about 50 more questions that start and end with one word – WHY? Gideon was a man in the bible who was called a mighty warrior. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a time in his life where he and his people had nothing. They were bullied, stolen from and living an impoverished life. Here is the story.

Judges 6:1 Again the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and for seven years he gave them into the hands of the Midianites. 2 Because the power of Midian was so oppressive, the Israelites prepared shelters for themselves in mountain clefts, caves and strongholds. 3 Whenever the Israelites planted their crops, the Midianites, Amalekites and other eastern peoples invaded the country. 4 They camped on the land and ruined the crops all the way to Gaza and did not spare a living thing for Israel, neither sheep nor cattle nor donkeys. 5 They came up with their livestock and their tents like swarms of locusts. It was impossible to count the men and their camels; they invaded the land to ravage it. 6 Midian so impoverished the Israelites that they cried out to the Lord for help.
7 When the Israelites cried to the Lord because of Midian, 8 he sent them a prophet, who said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I brought you up out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 9 I snatched you from the power of Egypt and from the hand of all your oppressors. I drove them from before you and gave you their land. 10 I said to you, ‘I am the Lord your God; do not worship the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you live.’ But you have not listened to me.”
11 The angel of the Lord came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. 12 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Gideon, he said, “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.” 13 “But sir,” Gideon replied, “if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders that our fathers told us about when they said, ‘Did not the Lord bring us up out of Egypt?’ But now the Lord has abandoned us and put us into the hand of Midian.”

I’m fascinated by this story because here is a man who has nothing. He’s trying to mill in a winepress in secret. He’s just trying to get some flour for a meal to feed his family and angel of the Lord appears to him. I don’t know about you, but I would be freaked out! My heart would be racing and I would be listening to hear what the angel was saying. Gideon however is fed up and he wants to know why these things are happening. Why has God been absent? Why hasn’t he done any miracles? Why has he abandoned us? Why has he put Israel into the hand of the Midians?

All of us can relate to Gideon. We get hung up on the whys of life instead of seeing the miracle that the time has finally come for God to send an answer to get us out of our situation. We want to know why we were there in the first place. Does it matter in the scheme of things? Does it matter why we were suffering or is it simply the fact that we get to get some relief? The fact of the matter is that the answer of why Gideon found himself in a mess can be found in the very first sentence of this story. Go back and read it. The reason our own messes have happened can be found in the very first sentence in the chapter of our very own story. Does it even matter now? The fact is there is a way out of the problem a solution has been sent!

Don’t get hung up on the whys! Instead look for solutions that will get you out of your troubles. Cry out to God for the answer. Many times when we say things like, “Why does this always happen to me?” The answer is simple, “Because I haven’t learned the lesson in life that I need to about this situation.” We are not victims. Sometimes we cause things to happen, sometimes others in our lives cause things to happen but we always have a free will choice on what to do next. We can dig our heels in and get hung up on the whys or we can actually be that mighty warrior and get through this situation in our life!

A Spiritual Mentor


Titus2:3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can train the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

I am blessed to have an amazing mother-in-law, Doris, that has been my spiritual mentor. She loves the Lord and she is a big time intercessor (that means she prays for me)! I love her and what she has to teach me. Do you have a spiritual mentor? If not, pray and ask the Lord to send her.

How will know when she arrives? Is she already in your life? Here are the signs that follow a mentor. She is the one who encourages your spiritual walk. She walks with the authority of a woman who knows her Lord and she teaches you what she knows as you are ready to learn. She is the one who loves you through the rough times in your life and leads you straight to the feet of Jesus. She is the one whom you see really walk out her faith. Is she perfect? No, not at all but she’s working on herself and it shows. She sees your progress and tells you about it. She never loses patience with you (for very long). She has a divine word for your life and she prays for you. She corrects you with love and guides you with wisdom. She rejoices with you in all of your successes and comforts you in your sorrow. She imparts her wisdom into your life. She is one with whom you can share your secrets with and she will hold them, not casting judgment but giving wisdom. She teaches you to walk in the way of a true woman of Christ.

Here is how you know she is not a spiritual mentor. She will not ever give you advice that goes against the word of the Lord. She will never manipulate you into doing what she thinks you ought to do. She will never try to control your actions. She will always have your best interest at heart. She does not counsel with you over her stuff but she is authentic and may share life lessons learned. She does not intimidate you ever. She knows intimidation never works long-term. She understands you will either follow her advice or not but she loves you anyway.

My prayer for you today is that you find her. That if you don’t have her in your life already that God will send her to you. Your life will be better for it and you will have someone with whom you can rely on to be with you!