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  

Don’t Grow Weary

29262-Anonymous-Quote-When-you-feel-like-quitting-think-about-why-youGalatians 6:And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

I was feeling very discouraged and weary over the past few weeks. In ministry there are lots of critics and you have to keep a good handle on your heart but sometimes your hand slips and your heart gets a little tainted with the mess of another. The best thing to do is to take a step back, cleanse, pray, and get back in the game but sometimes when it happens over and over, the shock of seeing mud again from the same source on your heart makes you sigh deeply and think about the ease of quitting and not moving towards cleansing.

I was met with a naysayer to ministry. “You’re not doing it right. If you were doing it right, you’d do it like I do.” On the left hand, “We love you and we love what you are doing.” On the right hand, “You’re wrong and it’s incredible that you have been able to get this far.” I knew intellectually this was a manifestation of a heart awry BUT, AND THIS IS A BIG LESSON, sometimes, you override what you know to be true for a false thing if you aren’t careful.

I remember in one of my psychology classes Dr. Johns said, “If I tell you every single day that the sky is green and that you have believed a lie and that you are naive in ever believing it was blue, you’ll eventually question yourself.”

And I did.

I did you guys! I questioned the color of the sky. Never mind that my ministry spoke for itself and had its own measure of success.

I questioned the color of the sky in a question, “What am I not giving the naysayer? Why do they have the need to issue a beat down? Is our ministry clueless and heading down the wrong direction?” The Holy Spirit swept in and let me see that the complaining had absolutely nothing to do with me but by then I had allowed myself to get weary. It had been months of public criticism. The problem with thinking of quitting ministry is that ministry isn’t a career, it’s a calling and if you begin to think it’s a career you’ll shop it around and miss the calling of where God called you to be.

We’ve heard it said that the average pastor who leaves the ministry leaves due to the words and actions of eight people. Eight. People in ministry, like us, choose every day to get in the truck and leave their calling behind because they let an average of eight people steal their joy and steal their calling. ~ Leading and Loving It

Folks sadly, I was below average in letting one person’s rant get the best of me. That’s what weariness does.

We must show mercy and yet stand firm and the only way to do that is knowing who you are. Good thing I had done the work for that long before this moment.

Anne Lamott says mercy is tough. In her book Hallelujah Anyhow she writes:

Mother Theresa cradling strangers at dawn is very romantic, but in life, there is also your thirsty bigoted father, your lying sister, the whole human race, living and dying and rising with Christ.  

Don’t quit. There is a harvest at the end of it all if you don’t quit.

Have you ever felt like quitting? Sometimes it is warranted but most times it delays the prize. Don’t let your feelings get in the way of what God has called you to do. Seek God. He will lead you through.

 

Published in: on November 9, 2017 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

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)  

Even in Rural Areas

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I had a meeting with Lara Olson, an advocate for youth in crisis,  about how we as the church can help impact our at-risk youth in our county. She said that one of the things we must do is get STD awareness out to the public because what we don’t know is harming us. That caused me to begin reading and learning.

Here are some facts:
Chlamydia is on the rise in Merced County and shows very few symptoms, pain in the eye, abdomen, or pelvis. If left untreated it can cause infertility.

Syphilis is also on the rise. Symptoms include, sores or legions, skin rash, headaches, fatigue, patchy hair loss (alopecia). If left untreated it can affect the organs.

These are two serious diseases that are plaguing our county. If you think you may have one or more of these symptoms please do not hesitate and go and seek medical attention.

Do I think the church should be involved in these conversations? Yes. We, the leaders in the church, teach about the sin of premarital sex but we often fail to teach on the why. God isn’t a fun spoiler. He is merely trying to save us a lot of heartache over decisions that have consequences that we can’t take back. He is protecting our hearts, our minds, our physical beings from the things that could pollute us and change forever the course of our lives. That word forever is no exaggeration. So while these are delicate and difficult discussions, let’s be honest, who really wants to talk about this, they are necessary conversations. We can’t pretend that it isn’t happening or that it doesn’t affect us all in some way. We must be wise and we must be informed if we are going to help others navigate what can sometimes be difficult heart-wrenching decisions. We can’t be afraid to speak up and we certainly can’t be afraid to tackle the tough stuff.

I choose to lead with eyes wide open and ears listening to the pulse of humanity and to what God is saying and sometimes that means I have to get uncomfortable as we bring to light what is trying to destroy us in the dark.

What is happening in your community that is needing your attention? Are you ready to get uncomfortable in order that it could help someone?

Published in: on September 18, 2017 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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  

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)  

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  

My Weapon of Choice

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You crush the enemy
Underneath my feet
You are my sword and shield
Though troubles linger still
Whom shall I fear
I know who goes before me
I know who stands behind
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side
The one who reigns forever
He is a friend of mine
The God of angel armies
Is always by my side ~ Chris Tomlin

Sitting in church this morning as we sang this song in semi-unison, I need to remember that the bible says make a joyful noise and even though we clap and sing to different beats and tones we are here for one purpose.  I felt such total peace. To stand under the wing of the One who formed me before the foundation of the earth knowing I am secure because the weapons of my warfare are not designed in the earthly realm, and since I don’t war people, there is no need.  I war thought processes and mindsets that crept into my soul making me feel that I wasn’t enough on my own and that there were things I needed that I didn’t have. I war perceived inadequacies in relationships that make me feel unloved, and until I gain clarity on the situation at hand, I stand feeling unworthy and helpless.  Yet when I read the bible it says I am more than enough in fact, I was created with everything I would ever need downloaded.

Isaiah 54:15 If anyone does attack you, it will not be my doing; whoever attacks you will surrender to you. 16 “See, it is I who created the blacksmith who fans the coals into flame and forges a weapon fit for its work. And it is I who have created the destroyer to wreak havoc; 17 no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me,” declares the LORD.

When I read that no weapon formed against me will prevail it tells me that weapons will be formed to take me out but they can’t. It takes me back to when I was a kid and I wanted to be Wonder Woman only now I really am. I can stand as the arrows fly, and people say and do whatever they say and do and as long as I don’t respond with the same arrows, they fly by. Sure, the threat hurts my feelings, but feelings are up and down and I don’t live my life by them.

Know who you are and especially whose you are and then whatever arrows try to come to distract you from your God-given path know that they can’t harm you. You’re not out until God says you’re out.

 

Published in: on March 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm  Comments (1)