For The Future

So last night we had V.I.P.’s, our youth group, service at the new building. It was significant in that our vision is reach the next generation for Christ. That building is not the church until the people unite there. It was built so that generations from now, followers of Christ will still have the opportunity to unite in the name of Jesus.

I don’t know if the youth understood the significance of the moment until I pointed it out. Then I saw the lightbulb go off and the smiles come onto their faces and I saw a different posture. A posture of ownership and meaning. We had communion there last night, before the grand opening and the first sermon, a gathering the willing leaders of the future.  The youth looked as solemn as youth can look when in the presence of other youth.

You’ll never know how that touched my heart. I am part of something so much bigger than myself and it makes everything else in my life so insignificant. To work to bring Jesus to the hearts of youth blesses me. To work daily in the service of our Lord is a privilege. Sometimes, I must admit, that I am like the youth were yesterday in that I fail to recognize the honor in what I get to do, and then it hits me, and humbles me, like it did last night.

We sang this song last night, acoustically, a guitar and youth voices. It doesn’t get better than that!


bruce on games

I like to entertain in our home. I used to have a whole lot more dinner parties than I do now, and I still have several events at our home each year. When I have guests, I set a nice table, plan a nice meal and make a good dessert. I always try to plan for plenty of food, I have a big island in the kitchen so often times, if there are lots of us there, I put several options out and we’ll have a buffet style party. If it’s a dinner, we serve at the table. Then there are times when we have potlucks as well. Those are much more casual events.

So, the part that bugs me is the “to-go” plates. I’ve had several people to my home who will pile up the food that is leftover to take home. I once had a family take a whole tray of brownies, a bag of unopened chips and two cans of coke each. Sometimes people actually asked me for a grocery bag to load up. They did not however ask me if they could take food home, they just did. Or they ask as they are serving the plate with a casual, “You don’t mind if I take this home, my husband would kill me if he found out we had brisket and I didn’t bring him any.” At this point, I can either be polite and smile at you or I can say, “Yes, I mind.” Only, what would you do with your plate full of food?  Then there are some who say, “I know you hate this but….”

Here is the deal. I want to feed you. I want you to eat to your heart’s content while you are at my home, but I don’t want to feel like my kitchen is your free for all, or that by inviting you I’m offering to feed your household. Most of the time, I make plenty of food and there are leftovers. I may have plans for them.

I also am very sorry your spouse was too busy, too tired, too involved in the World Cup to attend our party but that also means he/she figures out their food on their own. I don’t get it! Am I alone in this? Where has etiquette gone?

This all came to a head at my godfather’s reception. The family had planned to feed 100 or so people. We were a few plates short because some came through the reception line and took two plates. Why? Because their spouse couldn’t attend. HELLO? Manners dictate that only the people attending eat the food served and all leftovers go to the family of the deceased so that they don’t have to cook.

Then on to the church picnic where people were taking trays of meat home, trays, not plates and others making to go plates for people who didn’t want to attend because it was too hot BEFORE everyone had arrived and was served and AFTER. I think we’ve lost the art of etiquette. I’m going to teach on it some on the blog. We need to come to a place where we have manners again.

So here is rule #1 of being a good dinner guest in any situation.

If you are invited to take a plate home, you take one, if you aren’t invited to take a plate home, it is impolite to ask.

I Am Absolutely Convinced

Romans 8:38 I’m absolutely convinced that nothing – nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, 39 high or low, thinkable or unthinkable – absolutely nothing can get between us and God’s love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us.

What’s The World Coming To?

Yesterday at the funeral, we were gathered at the cemetery. Each of us grieving in our own way. We watched the color guard present the American flag to the wife of a man I love deeply. While the bugle played Taps, and his priest called him a true disciple of Christ, we were engrossed in the solemnness of the moment. We lined up to put petals on the casket and the pall bearers put their boutonnieres on the casket, we paid our last respects to a kind and honest man and gave our condolences to his widow.

While we were giving honor, someone or some people were breaking windows of cars and stealing purses. Seriously? Have we gotten that low as a human species that we take this opportunity to steal? People are grieving and now they are having to call police and credit card companies?

What’s worse is that we seem think we need God less and less in our society. What the reality is though, if we ever needed God in our country, we need him more now! Unbelievable!

Abandoned Puppies

This is a blog from 2 1/2 years ago. It tells Lulu’s story of how she came to be our puppy. Lulu is such a love and even though she is going through her terrible two’s these days, I love her more today than I did when she first came home!

January 7, 2008 -About 3 p.m. today (yesterday for you reading this) animal control called me. Some idiot left a litter of five puppies abandoned at the shelter. These little guys are about 1 maybe 1.5 weeks old, not old enough to be without their mom. The shelter couldn’t keep them as they needed to be kept warm and bottle-fed, and they aren’t set up for that, so they called me to see if I would be their foster mom. I asked PD because he’s not really cool on these ideas of mine. He said ask the kids and I knew then it was on!

So Lauren and I went to go and pick them up. PD should never send the two of us to the pound. We want to adopt all of them. We almost got one but she was a female and we knew that was a bad mix with Greta in the house, we were already pushing it with the puppies.

Sometimes I am ashamed of my species. I mean honestly, we are in the middle of a storm here in California, and some jerk abandons helpless animals. They were shaking and extremely dehydrated when I got them. We quickly got formula, warm blankets and a heating disc and we fed them, burped them, stimulated them and put them down for a nap. We’ll have to feed them this way every couple of hours. Yes, it’s going to be a pain but the alternative is not giving a living thing a chance at a life. I am just praying they make it.

Why don’t people spay and neuter their animals? They do it for free for God’s sake! Why would you choose today of all days to dump them? Why not just cowboy up and take them when the shelter is open? It really makes me mad. I mean be honest the reason why your dog got pregnant is because you are irresponsible.

On the other hand, the kids and I were sitting there with baby bottles feeding hungry little puppies, kissing them, and smiling at new life. Right now the kids are fighting to be the “one” who gets to feed them but we’ll see if in a few days the newness of it all doesn’t get really old.

For now, I am going to take a nap and get ready for my turn at feeding. Now we all have to pray then get adopted into good homes and live long happy healthy lives. Oh, by the way, Greta is NOT happy. She is the MAIN dog around here and she wants them gone!

Here is a couple of pictures to melt your heart. They aren’t great quality, as they were taken with my cell phone.

Get your pets spayed or neutered. img00097.jpgimg00098.jpg

Where There Is A Spark photos/najy/ 3713597345/

This blog was written three years ago in honor of my godparents. Sadly, my godfather passed away last Monday, on their 63rd wedding anniversary, and we will bury him in the morning. I have deep sense of sadness but also amazing gratitude at having known them and at having the privilege to be their goddaughter.

Last week I got a chance to visit with my godparents. I love them so much. They are both incredible role models to me and have treated me well all of my life. They took their roles in my life seriously and they accepted their responsibility for my spiritual upbringing to the fullest. To this day they send me prayers by mail and I get solid hugs, love and words, both correcting and edifying.

In a few weeks they are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary! Yes that’s 60 like 6-0, like 56,57,58, 59, 60! They were married on June 14, 1947. She was 19 and he was 21 or 22 and just back from World War II. I am so very proud of them.

I remember for their 50th I asked what the secret was. My Nina Lola, as I call her (Delores as the world calls her), said, “We stuck it out. You don’t always feel the ‘in love’ feeling, there are ups and downs but the ups always come back and the downs are there too, but you begin to understand that it’s life. That’s the problem with you kids, you give up too easy and you miss out. The first down and you are out.”

This year, we asked her again what the secret was. She said, “Love, communication, you have to be able to have things to talk about, respect is very important and morals.” She still calls, my Nino George, “Hun”. My Nina Lola will be 80 next month and Nino George will be 82 I think or 83 in July. He listened to what she had to say about how they sustained 60 years and he chuckled and said with a sparkle in his eye, “Who’s been married 60 years? Not me!” He’s always had a great sense of humor and can keep you laughing with these kinds of typical retorts. She said, “Not 60 years, 50 years. Oh yeah, it is 60 years isn’t it?” Then we all laughed. How cool it was that to them it didn’t seem as though it was a life sentence!

I don’t know if when they first met and felt that first spark of love touch them both that they ever imagined 60 years but I’d like to think so. They are parents, grandparents and great-grandparents and they live in the very first house they bought. That spark has created security for all of us and for that I am so grateful. I can’t express the love that I feel for them. They are funny and rich in character and I am so much better for having them in my life. They have taught me that the things that are important in life are simple. Love your family, work at something you are good at and don’t expect perfection, set down roots and go to church. Monetarily they could have moved to a bigger house at any point, taken lavish vacations or done whatever they wanted. Instead they taught us to save our money and be content.

60 years. What a blessing. I can’t even imagine them apart. 60 years. What a legacy. When you realize that some people don’t live that long so to be married that long is a blessing. To find a couple who are at peace with each other and who have learned to get along is a gift. That is truly a gift worth thanking God for!

The Praise Life

Psalm 22:22 Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship, and punctuate it with Hallelujahs: 23 Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers; give glory, you sons of Jacob; adore him, you daughters of Israel. 24 He has never let you down, never looked the other way when you were being kicked around. He has never wandered off to do his own thing; he has been right there, listening. 25 Here in this great gathering for worship I have discovered this praise-life. And I’ll do what I promised right here in front of the God-worshipers. 26 Down-and-outers sit at God’s table and eat their fill. Everyone on the hunt for God is here, praising him. “Live it up, from head to toe. Don’t ever quit!” 27 From the four corners of the earth people are coming to their senses, are running back to God. Long-lost families are falling on their faces before him. 28 God has taken charge; from now on he has the last word. 29 All the power-mongers are before him – worshiping! All the poor and powerless, too – worshiping! Along with those who never got it together – worshiping! 30 Our children and their children will get in on this As the word is passed along from parent to child. 31 Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news – that God does what he says. “The Message”

Play Now-Pay Later vs. Pay Now-Play Later

Today we have a guest writer! TQO one of our TLC friends wrote this as a help to everyone who reads this blog. Enjoy!

Play Now-Pay Later vs. Pay Now-Play Later. One way financially binds you vs. the other way financially Frees you. It’s your choice. Because Money does matter… to God, to you, and to me. You want to be in control of your finances, not your finances in control of you. Don’t get buried in “interest”, “contracts”, “termination fees”. Every decision matters, even the cell phone and cable. It is easier said than done. It takes hard work, commitment, planning. I call it “Diligence”.

Lenders & credit card companies will qualify you for more than you can afford, appealing to your “I want it now” need. They are setting you up to fail, in order to make their sale. In the long haul, it may have been better for you to have waited until you could have saved more. It is up to YOU to create your own limits.

My husband and I agree on our monthly budget log. It begins with

I Cor. 4:2 “Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful”.

We then list the 1st paycheck date of the month and the bills to be paid from that, and then the 2nd paycheck date of the month and the bills to be paid from that. We then include any special extras and any big expenses for that month from our “goals for the year” log. We plan the best we can, and leave room for unexpected emergencies.

We’ve tried teaching this to our teen class, but their mind set is on Play Now, Pay Later. The advertising companies are smart to capture this age bracket. Our teens seem to understand they could be paying up to 3times as much for the same item, but for now they just shrug their shoulders as if to say, I’d rather have it now anyway.

Back when I was young and naive, I found myself responsible for over $16,000.00 in credit card debt. It was not my fault, but I had to take action to protect my credit. Praise to the Lord, that debt was paid in full in 9 years, and not one cent to interest! I received 0% interest applications with zero balance transfer fees as needed until it was done! I am now free and loving the financial freedom!

And enjoying our purchasing power!

You can do the same!

Don’t Get Too Comfortable

I have spent some precious time in serious meditation and prayer these days. Yes, there’s a difference between the two. Prayer is my dialogue with the Lord. It’s me, coming before the Lord and pouring my heart out, letting him know what is going on in my life and the direction I’d like it to go. Meditation is where I am still. It’s where I allow his pursuit of me to show me things altogether different from the perspective I have.

With the church just weeks away from completion my prayers have been about smooth transition, wisdom in not getting so caught up in the newness that we forget it’s a building but that the people are what’s important. It’s about the logistics of how it’s all going to happen and who we will call on to help. It’s about lists for the dedication service and not leaving anyone out.

My meditations, however, have been about comfort. The Lord showed me that in every stage of my life, I’ve gotten comfortable and that I mourn transition. When I was a stay-at-home mom and my youngest reached kindergarten, I took a part-time job. Yet, I struggled with the decision. When I took a full-time job and transitioned into a corporate lifestyle I mourned once again, and again when I went into ministry. Each new level, left me looking back at what I was missing. Yet, I can’t deny the fact that each new level had its own exciting possibilities that the others didn’t and it also had its challenges. So for me, it’s about a thought process and on one hand, a trepidation of walking a new path, on the other hand, an excitement of possibilities and challenges.

Yet life changes from thing to thing does it not? I mean my titles have changed throughout my adult life but I am still a mom, I am still an administrator, I am still in ministry, I am still Susan. My perspectives have changes and my skills and abilities have changed and I am more comfortable in my skin. My husband took this picture of me recently and I noticed new wrinkles over the last few years. Yes, the smile is still the same but my eyes show a contentment that I feel in my soul and an anticipation for what the future holds.

Our titles change, our goals change, our lives are shaped differently than we ever could have imagined, but God is at work in our lives. He is molding a life that has adventure and risk. He is calling us all to not get too comfortable in any aspect of our life because one thing is for sure, things will change and more will be required of us. Are you ready for the challenge God has for you? Are you ready to do a new thing? Mourning the old is healthy and natural, but don’t get stuck in the process to where it takes too long and you miss your next step. We must move forward into the things of God for that is where our real future lies!

When Satan Shows Up

Did you know that Satan scuba dives? I had the best time watching this scene. Even the greatest warriors take pause when they see Satan come down the sand and head for the water. Instantly, they all got out of the water, every kid on the beach, parents looked up, he brought pause. This was too big of a fight to deal with! They waited patiently until Satan swam off. Then it was business as usual! 🙂