What Did You Do?

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Steve Harvey tells a story where he goes with a friend to visit his friend’s dying grandmother. He says the grandmother tells her grandson that she isn’t going to make it through this illness and is passing away but that she called him there to ask him a question.  The question she asks him is does he know the name of his great-grandfather? The friend answers his grandmother, “No, Madea I don’t know his name.” His grandmother answers, “That’s because he didn’t leave you anything.”

My husband says he prefers to officiate good funerals. Let me explain. The good funerals are the ones where people line up to testify to the mark someone made in their life. In other words, we could stay all day hearing story after story of what an impact someone made in their life and we all leave deeply saddened to have lost a loved one but deeply satisfied that they lived a good life that touched many people for good. Then there are those funerals where the family would like their family member to buried decently. The pastor reads the basic funeral service. End of story.

The question today is what do you want people to thank you for at your funeral? Is this a morbid thought? Well maybe, however if our mark is to be left for good we have to begin with the end in mind. So at the end of your days on earth, what do you want to be thanked for and how is that playing out today?

Published in: on October 13, 2017 at 4:15 pm  Comments (3)  

The Greatest Blessing

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I was interviewed recently and the question that gave me the most pause was the question:

“What is the greatest blessing of being a Pastor’s Wife?”

I received the questions in advance but I didn’t go over them too carefully since I wanted to be in the moment and not rehearsed. So when it was asked the first thing that popped into my head was, “Being married to Doug Young.”

It sounded silly even to my own ears but in retrospect over the last few weeks it was honest. I didn’t have my eye on a pastor. It wasn’t as if I was searching to marry a profession. I fell head over heels in love with this guy who was a pastor in real life. For me, the inside view of ministry is often brutally difficult but it comes with the territory of being Doug’s wife.

When I say the greatest blessing of a Pastor’s Wife is the Pastor I mean it. He is humble and kind. He’s not fake. There is a assuredness about him that I envy with my whole being. He can walk into a room and he never, ever, has measured himself up against who is in the room. He is who he is. I walk in to a room, determining whether I am the shortest, oldest, dressed correctly, dumbest, and well, you get the picture. When I say this out loud Doug says to me, “Really? Why does that matter and why do you even think like this?” He doesn’t come in and announce himself. He doesn’t come in and make a show of what he knows or what he’s learning, or what he’s preached on recently. His social media isn’t how great his kids are or his latest sermon. His self promotion went before him a long time ago or you missed it but he’s not going to point it out. It’s not his thing. You see, he understood essentialism before it was the title of book that I got my hands on. He understood the elements of attachment when I don’t even think I can honestly score myself a one on any of the scales. He understood all of this because he sees himself in light of Jesus. He’s studied and versed but that isn’t what makes him secure. He gets the thing I have been trying to attain my whole life. He is a man under authority and it shines through.

Yes, I see him pray with the sick. I see him lead people to Christ. I see him come into a stressed out place and settle it down in his role as Jesus Representative, but you know, if we’re honest, and I know we are, this is every Christian. This is ordinary. These are the things we should all be doing.

I think I’ll stand by my answer that the greatest blessing  of being a Pastor’s Wife is being Doug Young’s wife.

Tell me, what is the greatest blessing in your life?

Published in: on September 29, 2017 at 10:37 pm  Comments (1)  

But She’s The Bride

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I just read another social media rant about what is wrong with the church. As a follower of Christ it makes me sad. Is she perfect this church of ours? No, she is far from perfect. However she is my neighbor, she is my sister, my brother, she is ME. So when you talk about her, when you disparage her, you are talking about me, you are talking about my family, and maybe you are talking about yourself.

Here is what I know for sure. She is the vehicle in which Christ chose to move his message forward. He could have picked any number of things, he is God and God doesn’t lack resources. So for better or worse, in her glorious imperfection she is here to stay. She is the only thing that will last when all is said and done. She is the one that the Lord said the gates of hell shall not prevail against, and most importantly she is the one for whom he returns to take home with him.

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You see, finding fault with her is a cheap shot. It’s too easy. She’s human and therefore fallible but finding the solution and putting your hand to the plow is the work. The harvest of beauty is there and plentiful. Are you willing to get messy? Are you willing to be a laborer or will you continue to be a critic? A critic is someone who determines the value of something and usually decides it is not good. Only that doesn’t work for the church. Because if we are saying she isn’t good then what we are saying is God chose the wrong way in which to express himself.  He made a mistake and I don’t think he did. It’s especially harmful coming from ministry leaders. They are in the wrong profession and confession when they are critical of the very thing they profess to give their life for. Let’s love her through the process of becoming. Let’s come up with solutions to the problems we see. Let’s love her to wholeness.

On Loyalty

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As the world awaits here are my thoughts.

Loyalty CAN NOT be demanded.

Tyrants demand it.

Insecure managers demand it.

Let me type that again.

Tyrants and Insecure managers demand it.

What demanding an oath of loyalty does is expose the hand of a manager, notice I was careful not to say leader, who has to avoid negative feedback at all costs to soothe their EGO (Edging God Out).

There is no need to pledge allegiance as if you were pledging to a god. A manager who is demanding loyalty does so because they can’t listen to negative feedback or can’t lead without unwavering loyalty because of insecurity. They make a terrible boss and that person is not a leader at all.

You will be loyal out of a heart that believes in the mission. A covenant of mission never demands an oath to a person. An oath to a person is always bondage. Christians have dominion over the earth not over people.

Walk away from anyone who demands an oath of  loyalty to them or one who would disguise the verbiage in the word covenant. Demanding loyalty to a person is a dangerous precedent of the abuse of power to come.

I am not loyal to Doug Young because he demands it. I am loyal to Doug Young because I love him and I believe in our marriage. My loyalty can’t be made by force and doesn’t negate his leadership when I disagree. My covenant of marriage was to the mission of our marriage under God.

In the military leaders are taught not to demand personal loyalty and they teach subordinates to avoid personal loyalty at all costs. The reasoning is that eventually the tyrant will rise up and cause you to do things you never thought you’d do out of loyalty or be cast out of the ranks. It’s too high a price.

God never demands loyalty and these oaths and covenants that are demanded by men are not of God in any way shape or form. God is looking for a people with love and a heart for Him and service in the freedom of Free Will. This is not blind ambition or loyalty. This is eyes wide open, mission-focused, unity because we want to not because we must. We give our loyalty out of love not fear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those Accountable Friends

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Proverbs 27:5 An open rebuke is better than hidden love!

Wounds from a sincere friend are better than many kisses from an enemy.

 

A friend of mine asked if I had anyone who holds me accountable. I answered that in fact I do. She said that she did as well and that the response of those who kept her accountable helped keep her in check when she got out of line in her own life.

It’s that way with me. When  I get out of line or am thinking about issues with the wrong frame of mind I have people in my life who hold me accountable. It happened recently when someone who I have given permission to speak into my life called me out on an issue in front of a group of friends. If I am honest, it stung but here’s the thing, if I am open to growth I am open to receive correction, so I prayed about it and examined myself. I then examined why I do it and I needed to take a step back and assess my intention. When we came back together I apologized to the group and thanked my friend for telling me.

Galatians 2:14 When I saw that they were not walking in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? 

I hate generalities and as I type I can feel you asking me, WHAT WAS IT THAT YOU WERE DOING?, so here was the gist:

My friend asked if I had heard the story of the many starfish who were stranded on the shore. A man was seen throwing the starfish back into the water. The man who witnessed asked if this endeavor was going to make a difference given the number of starfish left to go and the man who was throwing starfish into the water said, “It makes a difference to that one.” My friend proceeded to tell me that she thinks of me when she hears that story because I am a rescuer. I get starfish back into the water and it’s admirable but once back in the water, I go put my attention on another stranded starfish. The starfish who is now settled, gets little  attention from me and that I needed to decide if I was strictly a counselor or a friend, both very different. In the moment it felt as if she were saying I ditch my friends for the next rescue but what she was asking was, did I notice I did this and was it intentional? I hadn’t noticed I did this and it was in no way intentional but I can see how it can hurt someone and it wasn’t my heart.

Dave Ramsey in his Financial Peace University said if the person you choose to hold you accountable can’t hurt your feelings sometimes, then you have the wrong person. We protest this thought process because we live in a generation where feelings matter more than fact but what if you are hurting someone unintentionally and because you won’t receive it you continue to live an area of your life in error?

Proverbs 28:33 He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favor Than he who flatters with the tongue.

So who holds you accountable? Are they allowed to hurt your feelings? If not, get someone who can. Whatever you do, don’t correct someone’s bad behavior if they haven’t given you permission to do so because you will not be received and will create an offense.

Published in: on May 19, 2017 at 2:52 pm  Comments (1)  

All Over Again

 

 

 

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My son Anthony and my daughter-in-love Frances arrived on Saturday night for a visit. They are expecting their first child in May. Frances tells my husband that she bought him a book And hands him this one called How To Babysit A Grandpa. He laughed and said thank you then went to sit in his recliner and joyfully opened his book. You see, we’re about to be grandparents to our very first grandchild.

I watched him read the book and chuckle as he turned the pages. His smile filled his eyes, “Listen to this”, he exclaimed, “Snacks for a grandpa, ice cream topped with cookies, olives served on fingertips, anything dipped in ketchup, cookies topped with ice cream.”

When I posted on Facebook the cover of the new book my husband had been given, he wrote, “I can’t wait to meet my babysitter.”

I fell in love with him all over again. 

Here’s to our new adventures in this next season.

I wonder if Lulu the Wonder Dog will love the baby as much as we do? I am sure she’ll appreciate the clean up when he begins eating solids.

Cathy

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I met her when I was 14. She was my boyfriend’s little sister but she was nice and friendly and she became my friend. We became family when I married her brother and when it was time for her to get married I was her matron of honor. She walked happily down the aisle with Eric to You Are The Sunshine of My Life by Stevie Wonder. I will never forget it because it was so like her doing life her way. Years later I found a designer who made a necklace out of the song and sent it her. She sent back a note that she couldn’t believe I had remembered. She would invite me to absolutely every family event they had. I remember one conversation:

“Umm, thanks but I think it would be awkward to go consider I’m no longer married to your brother.”

“Did you divorce me?”

“No”

“I didn’t divorce you either. You’re my sister-in-law and the mother of my nephew and my niece and you are invited to all family functions.”

Then we’d laugh and tell secrets that only friends that know each other well can tell about things that are really none of our business.

After a three year battle with cancer I got the call from my son that Cathy was being sent home to hospice. I contacted my mother-in-law and asked if I could go and see Cathy, understanding that they have a big family and I didn’t want to intrude. She said of course I could come. I walked into a room filled with people and went to hold Cathy’s hand. She said quietly, “Susie, I have missed you.” I said, “I’ve missed you too and I came to tell you I love you.” She answered that she loved me too and that she was tired and she was sorry but she didn’t want to fight cancer anymore. I told her I understood and that I didn’t want her to feel as if she had to host me as a guest, instead I was there for her. We talked about God and heaven and she said she had seen glimpses as God was leading her spirit little by little. We told a couple of secrets that made us both smile and then her brothers came into the room and it was the four of us like it was when we were teenagers. We talked about where life had taken us and old stories about the past. We brought up phone bills, and FaceTime, and how much trouble we’d be in if were teens today and we laughed like we used to over stupid stuff. Cathy took a sip of ice water and through half-closed eyes she said to me, “See what I have to do to get us all together like old times?” I replied, “Who knew all those fights with your brothers would make you give cancer a run for its money?”

My sister and my friend is passing from this life to her next one and as I write this my heart breaks. It breaks because we distance ourselves from painful events and while we do, there is the unintended casualties of souls that are wounded. It seems necessary to separate out, to stop the pain in the moment, and are in the end are such pitifully poor decisions. To turn away love from one heart because another has been careless with your heart can never be right. I’m thanking God for second chances and a deep friendship with a wonderful woman who loved me deeply and who is forever embedded in my heart.

 

Published in: on February 9, 2017 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

I’m Sorry

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I found a message in my voicemail box the other night from a woman who is a new friend.  She was apologizing for her attitude at a meeting we’d had earlier in the day.  I wasn’t even offended and the events weren’t even on my radar. To be perfectly honest, I did notice she was testy but I chalked it up to frustration. I feel both she and her apology are impressive. She is someone I want to get to know better because she is real and owns her stuff.

Nothing is worse than being unable to see when we’ve hurt someone’s feelings. We justify, we deny, we blame, we point fingers, we cry, we yell, then we do it all over again and like the spin cycle in a washer it wrings us out. A lack of discernment to the feelings of others over time leaves us alone because people get tired of it.

We humans are opinionated and we will eventually step on someone’s toes. It’s inevitable that we’ll eventually say something to hurt another person. The key to our success in life will be whether we have the ability to decide that to apologize is the best course of action. Swallowing our pride and realizing that whether we want to admit it or not, we hurt someone. Saying I’m sorry shows a genuine concern for others and the relationship we have with them. It also shows others who are watching, because there is always someone watching, that we are someone who can be counted on to do the right thing.

In my life there have been plenty of times that I have had to turn around and go to someone and say I’m sorry. I’ve been short, I’ve been snarky, I’ve been testy, I’ve been wrong. It’s never fun and often embarrassing but to pretend like we aren’t wrong doesn’t make it so, except in our mind. We will lose much more than we gain and we will always take more away from our reputation that we are willing to give. Whatever you do, don’t do the fake apology that people with any brain at all can spot from a mile away. “I’m sorry if you feel I’ve offended you in any way.” Ambiguity isn’t classy it’s pathetic and it shows not repentance, being truly sorry, but remorse, being sorry we got caught. Let’s own our stuff and watch things get better in our life. We will sleep soundly knowing we did all we could to keep our relationships on the right track and I guarantee you there will be no sleepless nights. Yes, if I’m honest I’ve had a few sleepless nights in the past as I licked my perceived wounds but once I owned my part and did the right thing it brought so much peace. I dare you to try it.

 

Published in: on February 6, 2017 at 2:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Couple’s Gift

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I’m in ministry to women. In that role I hear about some hard things women go through but the ones that gets me the most are cheating and hatefulness, and yes cheating is hateful so let me explain what I mean. When a wife cheats or her husband cheats the results are the same. There is unbearable pain caused to the other because it was never an accident or a mistake. It was a series of many choices. The choice to call, the choice to meet up, the choice to speak about things a married person has no business talking about to another person, a choice to spend money on drinks, dinners, or gifts that took time and money away from a family. It was a choice to pretend not to be married. A CHOICE. Often the payback is that the wronged spouse now believes all bets are off and cheats themselves creating a cycle of wrong behavior. I don’t believe in sexual addiction and it isn’t recognized by the American Psychiatric Association so when that becomes an excuse I don’t buy it.

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Then there are those couples who don’t value each other. They speak to each other with such disdain. It’s when a person who doesn’t care what the other person wants and only wants their way, neither do they accept any blame for their part of the craziness, that you can see there is no love. It’s an insistence on your own way. It’s pure selfishness and often stems from those who think it’s the responsibility of one to make the other happy by making sure it’s their way or the highway.

The covenant or vow of love has been made and broken and while sin may be personal it is never private it affects many. Over and over again I see that although some choose to stay together it is never the same. The marriage becomes a fragmented piece of what could have been whole. It opens doors that can’t be closed again.

To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. 

Why is this post coming at Christmas? At the first of the year, when the bills come in from overspending and the gifts that were expected weren’t received, and extended family acted up, and the stress of the holidays are over, people end up in my office with offenses going back to 2008. These offenses normally fall into two main categories, adultery and hatefulness.

Give yourself a gift this Christmas. Choose love. Love wouldn’t ever hurt another in fact lover prefers one another. Yes there are options and divorce is more acceptable to me than killing each other slowly, however the bible is clear on covenant and no one walks away unscathed.

 

Published in: on December 20, 2016 at 9:46 am  Leave a Comment  

Courageous Friendship

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2 Samuel 12:1 And the LORD sent Nathan to David. He came to him and said to him, “There were two men in a certain city, the one rich and the other poor. 2 The rich man had very many flocks and herds, 3 but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. And he brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children. It used to eat of his morsel and drink from his cup and lie in his arms, and it was like a daughter to him. 4 Now there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was unwilling to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the guest who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.” 5 Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man, and he said to Nathan, “As the LORD lives, the man who has done this deserves to die, 6 and he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.” 7 Nathan said to David, “You are the man! Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you out of the hand of Saul. 8 And I gave you your master’s house and your master’s wives into your arms and gave you the house of Israel and of Judah. And if this were too little, I would add to you as much more.

Yesterday standing in front of Costco we ran into some friends. They told us a story about an incident in their church and how it had been handled. Instantly the idea of courageous friendship came to mind because that is what they had been. They had spoken truth in love and it’s painful to do sometimes.

You see, courageous friendship speaks the truth. Maybe you don’t agree when being corrected by a someone who is supposed to be your friend but a friend loves you anyway. In the case of Nathan and David in the bible passage above, verse 15 tells a powerful tale. It says,

15 Then Nathan went to his house.

Nathan went home. He went home to his own food, his own issues, his own bills, his own life, his own wife. He didn’t have to go to David to confront his sin, but love and a word from the Lord can send you places that are awkward and uncomfortable. Sometimes there is nothing in it for you but heartache for a friend.

Courageous friendships are not ones who post on Social Media trying to gather a following. They are not found whispering in dark places. Courageous friendships are knocking on your door and resolving issues. You and them. Them and you.

Nathan and David had shared a rich friendship. Do you have any rich friendships? Ones in which courage is acknowledged and expected? Or do you move on to the next best thing each time the word comes and it doesn’t agree with your agenda?

Published in: on October 22, 2016 at 1:31 am  Leave a Comment