Thanksgiving Before Christmas

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Jeremiah 8:7 Even the stork in the heavens knows her times, and the turtledove, swallow, and crane keep the time of their coming, but my people know not the rules of the LORD.

This time of year gets so busy that sometimes I forget that Jesus came to set us free from frantic endeavors. I  get caught up in the rush of this season. This year, I don’t want to scramble through this time feeling pressured.  I don’t want to be so busy that I  can’t  or don’t take time to bless people with the love that Jesus came to leave with us.

I found myself making a Christmas list and it was October. This season does go by fast but so does every season. I put the list away and determined to wait until after Thanksgiving to continue this list.

You see, I love Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is special. Thanksgiving is special food, special preparation, special tradition, it’s looking back on the year and being grateful for everything, the good, the bad, and the indifferent.

Christmas is a different kind of special. I love shopping for special gifts, wrapping them up and then giving them. I like to pick thoughtful gifts and I am made in the image of my Father in heaven so I know this isn’t a fluke thing, I was made to be a gift giver and so are you.

That’s what Jesus is to me. He’s the special gift that God sent especially for me and for you. He wrapped Himself plainly so we would have to look for the value of Him and the heart of the One who gave the gift. God had to wait for the perfect time to give it. Not too early and not too late but just in time. I wonder as I write this if God felt the anticipation of waiting for the season to arrive as we do? Timing is everything.

I’m not going to rush this season. I am going to take my time. I am going to bless like Jesus and not get so busy that I forget we have a Thanksgiving before we have a Christmas.  I am going to enjoy the special services. I am going to meditate on the gift. The truth is that I have trouble with receiving gifts.  I don’t want people to make a fuss about me but you know what? That’s often pride. So I’m going to learn to receive and I’m going to wait to give in the proper season. I am going to appreciate our life and take one season at a time.

So do you find yourself so busy with the hectic Christmas season that it becomes a to-do list and not a get-to celebrate season? Does it get stressful as you budget to give? Can you take time to stop this year and enjoy the moments and bless as Jesus blesses by being present as a present?

 

Published in: on November 13, 2017 at 3:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

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)  

Divorce Is Not a Simple Never

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I hear Malachi 2:16 quoted often. It’s the verse generally quoted out of context that says God hates divorce. God also doesn’t like, manipulation, lying, violence, gossip, and a whole host of other things but when we’re counseling couples this is the go-to scripture. Except when it’s not. I’ve been in ministry for over 15 years and just when I think I’ve heard it all, something new pops up. The question then becomes do I counsel and meet the status quo of the church or do I counsel in love?

In the case of the minor infidelity, I recognize it sounds like sarcasm but it isn’t because honestly infidelity is minor compared to what I hear, you can put Humpty Dumpty back together again when he has a crack.

In the case of the porn addiction you can transfer the fear of intimacy and get a marriage back on track but these are minor compared to the shattering realities of some marriages.

What do I tell the mother who has just found out her husband is molesting his child? Do I tell her God hates divorce?

What do I tell the wife who comes in and shows me her burn marks and bruises of abuse? “Go back home Daughter of the Most High King, for you see, your Father hates divorce.”

What do I tell the woman who has been told that her husband is going to be staying at their house sometimes, and his girlfriends house sometimes?

What do I tell the woman whose husband was having sex with her daughter and selling the video tapes to his friends for extra money?

What about the woman who has lost her home because her of her husband’s _____________ problem? Fill in the blank, I’ve heard them all, drug, gambling, spending, loaning.

Why am I only speaking about women and not men? Trust me, I know men have been wronged often more deeply than these examples if you can believe it. I get it but you see, I minister to women. I am surrounded by women. So I hear stories from women.

So instead of telling them that God hates divorce, instead sometimes I say, “Get to a safe place where you can think about what your next move is.” No where, not one place, in the bible does it say we must stay in an abusive situation, nor does it say God tolerates abuse. In fact, it talks of love, of bearing one another up. We must be wise, but we aren’t to be heartless and we certainly should never line up with sin.

The dogmatic response of never can’t stand in the face of truth. Life is complicated and sometimes nightmares and horror stories become real life. When I hear Never Divorce I wonder what you would tell your daughter? Well she’s God’s child and she wasn’t created for some of the things she has gone through.

 

 

 

Published in: on September 14, 2017 at 5:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

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.

Packing For The Journey Ahead

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This is a picture of bags packed for a recent trip we took. Notice we humans packed quite a bit into these two bags but Lulu the Wonder Dog demonstrated a valuable lesson.  She only packed what was necessary for the journey ahead. She packed her favorite chew toy. That toy goes everywhere with her. She lays it down next to her food bowl while she eats, she takes it outside with her, she takes it to bed with her. That one thing was all that she needed.

Think about this for a minute. ONE THING! 

Matthew 6: 25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?g 28And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?31Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’32For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

Such is life. We carry around all these bags stuffed with memories, life patterns, and thought processes. Some are to be stored away for safe keeping. Things like lessons learned, rich fulfilling friendships, family adventures. Yet, other memories, life patterns, and thought processes are used to torment our lives and cause anxiety, worry, and fear but we’re afraid to leave them behind because we might need them on the journey.

Lulu showed us this day that you can’t leave everything behind, but taking everything with you becomes too heavy. She could only take what she could reasonably carry to keep up on the journey.

You see, she was going on a journey with her humans. She didn’t have to worry about food because that was their job. She didn’t have to worry about where she would lay her head to sleep because that was their job. She didn’t even have to worry about where she was going, it was an adventure! She was happy to be led. All she needed was her chew toy. Everything else would take care of itself. She had confidence in that. She was living by what she understood. Not everything could go with her and not everything was necessary. She opted to trust her guides.

So where are you going and what are you taking with you? Burdens? Obstacles? Fear? Anxiety? A map? Vision? A Word? A prayer? Anticipation? Are you stuffing bags just in case life fails you? Are you packing just in case God doesn’t come through? Are you packing because you have become a hoarder of insignificant things but maybe lack has made you afraid to get rid of anything? Are you stuffing things in your bags that were necessary a long time ago but that won’t serve you today?

Remember what Lulu is teaching us today:

You can’t leave everything  behind and taking everything with you is too heavy for your journey. Pack well my friends! 

 

Published in: on August 21, 2017 at 7:28 am  Leave a Comment  

Stability

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A grandfather is someone with silver in his hair and gold in his heart. ~Author Unknown

My first grandson arrived on the scene a week early to expectant arms and smiling faces. We eagerly drove up to wait for his birth and then stayed a few days to make sure mom and dad got some sleep and a routine going while we cooked, took shifts, and loved us some Cameron baby. Cameron is definitely a game changer for us.

Perfect love sometimes does not come until the first grandchild. —Welsh Proverb

As I looked at him and declared blessing over him and watched my husband begin to prophesy over him I asked the Lord, “What is the answer for the question I am searching for?” The word stability came immediately to mind.

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One of the most powerful handclasps is that of a new grandbaby around the finger of a grandfather. —Joy Hargrove

For us, we need to be the steady hand for both he and his parents. The rock on which the three of them can land when needed. If there are any unresolved parenting issues or stability issues within us they need to be resolved now before we hit the road on this new adventure. We aren’t learning as we go, we better have some meat in our storehouse if you will, on which to draw from when needed. We can’t be still trying to figure it out anymore. This family needs an established home as they establish their new normal even if they have been married for five years now, it’s all new now.

Grandma always made you feel she had been waiting to see just you all day and now the day was complete. —Marcy DeMaree

There needs to be vision. What does stability look like for a grandparent? It means I better know my role isn’t as a parent to him. He has two very capable and loving parents and to take that away from them in any form would be to leave them feeling less than adequate something we don’t want to do. No, a grandparent’s arms need to be Switzerland. Neutral, loving, and protective of its boundaries. It’s not an us vs parents relationship instead it’s a us and parent relationship.

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It’s amazing how grandparents seem so young once you become one. —Author Unknown

My husband bought him his first fishing pole. Even though it will be years before we use it, it spoke to lessons that will be taught, conversations that will be had, examples that will be set, and patience that will have to be learned at the hands of a sage no longer in a hurry. Yes, Cameron will find that he has allies and strong support here in the kingdom of Nana and Papa but his kingdom will be established in the home of his parents.

To a small child, the perfect granddad is unafraid of big dogs and fierce storms but absolutely terrified of the word “boo.” ~Robert Brault

Everyone tells you that the love you feel for a grandchild supersedes all other love. You don’t know it until you know it. I thought when I looked at my newborns and held them in my arms that love was revealed and understood fully. The world came into focus and life had profound meaning.  Holding Cameron took love to another level. There wasn’t that nervousness that surrounds a mother with him. I didn’t question whether I could be a good mother, I already am. I didn’t question whether I could be a good grandmother, I already am. Simply put there was stability that comes with wisdom and knowledge.

What children need most are the essentials that grandparents provide in abundance. They give unconditional love, kindness, patience, humor, comfort, lessons in life. And, most importantly, cookies. ~Rudy Giuliani

B.A.T.H

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In our house we don’t say the word bath, we spell it out until we’re ready to do the deed. You see, the word bath invokes a rebellion in Lulu the Wonder Dog. Immediately upon hearing the word she goes and lies in her bed, curls up and closes her eyes. When I go to get her to take her dreaded bath she won’t open her eyes. When I grab her by the collar she becomes deadweight. When we are finally in the tub and giving her a bath her ears are down and she moans loudly refusing to move and making me maneuver to get her all cleaned up. Once out of tub and all scrubbed down and toweled down she runs throughout the house jumping on furniture that she isn’t allowed on and refusing to come near me. I offer her a treat for her misery and she takes it, but isn’t quickly forgiving.

As I bathed her this past week I wondered what God has to spell out in my presence? What am I refusing to do that ultimately is good for me? For Lulu the Wonder Dog bathing means we get all of dirt off, we hopefully avoid things like fleas, and it gives me a chance to check for ticks or anything unusual on her skin, not to mention she smells good again. Yet, the mere mention of the word brings on such a refusal of action. Honestly, this is the only thing she fights me on. It makes me wonder and stop to take inventory of what I have an absolute refusal of?

So what is it? Does the Lord have to spell E-A-T  H-E-A-L-T-H-Y? Does he have to spell E-X-E-R-C-I-S-E? Is it more like, F-O-R-G-I-V-E? C-L-E-A-N-S-E? Or is it deeper still? S-A-B-B-A-T-H? Is it a sentence like, What does the W-O-R-D say about that? What consequence does our refusal hold for us? If Lulu the Wonder Dog understood that her bath does nothing for me and everything for her would she still see it as the worst thing she has to do in life?

Do you want to know the most interesting thing about Lulu The Wonder Dog’s bath? Once she settles her issue, she gets on her dog bed and sleeps in such sound peace, snoring she doesn’t even wake up to shift positions. I don’t know if she’ll ever go willingly or understand that there is a benefit to it, all I can do is continue to do my part and that’s all our Heavenly Father does. He speaks and hopes we’ll understand the benefit.

Think about it. There is a benefit to what the Lord is asking of us. Will we be deadweight or will we rise up and follow?

 

Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 2:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

To Be

IMG_7689I was talking to a mom of two and she said before she had children she had all kinds of opinions and thoughts on raising children. She  said she discovered that you don’t know a thing about raising children until you have your own and you are actually in the trenches.

That. Is. So. True.

These two beautiful people showed me the greatest, deepest, part of myself. We made a life together and we made precious memories that taught me sustaining lessons. We gathered for the baby shower this past weekend. Our next generation is about to enter the world in the next four weeks. Anthony will be a father for the first time and Casey will be an aunt.

Perhaps it is that fact that has me emotional these days. We are entering a new season. I can’t help but think that time flies by in a minute. That these two beautiful beings are truly good people. They live by a code of ethics embedded in love. They each were raised to be their own person, to go out and make a life for themselves, and they did. They were taught to be observers, leaders, people of character, hard-working, fun loving, independent, wise, and giving. They are going to do their own thing, no one will sway them into decisions. Not even me. I am blessed to still run into my children’s friends and be called, “Casey’s Mom” or “Anthony’s Mom”. I never felt I was just a mom and that my identity needed to be elsewhere. It’s a badge I proudly wear. That I could be entwined in their lives is a honor and it always will be.

I watched them this weekend with awe. They gathered together to celebrate upcoming new life.  I played Disney music in the background and just as my daughter-in-love, Frances began to open her gifts, the song Casey sang as a three-year-old came on, we locked eyes, and she smiled at me and said, “I know”.  Ugh, I wanted to cry right there. It was as if The Lord himself was connecting us to a time to show us both a sweet memory together. Then my mom gave the baby a gift, wrapped in a keepsake box that said, “You are my Sunshine”, the first song Anthony learned to sing. Memories, so many memories came flooding in that day. My heart is full. My babies aren’t babies anymore, and this thought brings a sense of well-being to my soul, a bittersweet feeling to my heart, and an anticipation of the future. Life is Grand.

Published in: on April 13, 2017 at 2:48 pm  Leave a Comment  

What I Wouldn’t Do

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With just a few weeks to go before we become grandparents for the first time I have been quietly reflecting on what I know for sure. This picture is of my grandparents. My Nana Mickey and my Tata Francisco.

What I wouldn’t do to sit with my Nana today and just say, “It’s my turn! You always told me being a Nana was the best thing ever. How do I walk in your shoes? How do I love deeply like you did? How do I hold a child with hugs that covered them with such utter love that it invokes giggles and security? How do I sit bedside beside a child and rub their head and answer 10 million questions without losing patience? How do I be the Nana you were to me and how come you aren’t here for me to share this with you? You’d be thrilled to know it’s my turn. I want to scoop my grandchildren up in my arms and dance in the living room with them the way you did with us. I want to teach them to play cards, and hold secrets, and bake, and make tortillas, and love but mostly I want to tell you that in just a few weeks I get to feel what you feel and instead of putting on your perfume and ‘lipppy-stick’ and your heels and walking around with your purse, I get to actually be like you.”

I want to tell my grandpa that I learned his work ethic. That I learned English and went to school and made something of myself so that all the work and sacrifice he made for us paid off. I want to chuckle the way you did when we were crazy little kids. I want to buy cinnamon sticks and put more milk than coffee in a cup and say, “Don’t tell your mom”, as we secretly drink coffee and eat Mexican bread and spell words in Spanish or play double solitaire. I want to tell you that I learned to save money, and serve my husband, and be the lady you knew one day I would be.

What I wouldn’t do to tell them that my greatest adventure awaits and that they deposited heart-felt notes in my spirit. Their legacy is lasting and their love will live in abundance through what I was taught.

What I wouldn’t do to tell you this great news and what an impact you have made in my life. Somehow I think you knew the impact. Somehow I think you knew you were charging me with a responsibility, I was just too young to realize what you both were doing. I know now.

Published in: on March 23, 2017 at 1:19 pm  Leave a Comment