I began writing about this topic last year. More than ever before we need conversations. One on one with love on.
I love to write. Several years ago I began writing my prayers down. I found that when I sat with pen and paper that I lingered in prayer. I discovered that I only need a quiet moment and it would turn into an hour. I began to then praise him in words not as in writing a song or rhyming words but just praise from my heart. Often we think of praise as the singing part of a church service but praise is merely the expression of our life with Jesus. It’s a letter of love. It’s life itself and the recognition of what that life means and how it is expressed.
I encourage you to buy a notebook and begin to put your words of praise down for the One who is your sustaining love. Here is my entry for November 5, 2018. May it be a example to you that you don’t need to be a wordsmith. You only need to be real and honest.
As I grab my cup of warm delicious coffee and sit in my family room I thank you. Though it may seem frivolous to thank you for basics of American life it doesn’t fall short to me. I have my old dog lying at my feet. Lulu the Wonder Dog has been so faithful and came into my life in a time of desperation. She is the tangible expression of your love for me in that season. As Baron bounds into the room through the doggie door, I am reminded that new life and love come into our hearts and homes. His beauty is something to behold and makes me smile. A beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky and just enough mosquitoes to keep me humble and praying.
My sleeping husband is a gift that I can’t fathom deserving and yet you made it so. Through a past of broken ruin you thought to bring me true love and care. You thought to show me marriage and what it should look like and you showed me an example of how you designed it to be. Thank you for Doug Young.
Today Cameron turns 18 months. What fun he is! How you blessed my life. He truly shows us to look at life through the wonder of seeing it as if for the first time. He is truly a joy. His little self has only been on the planet for a year and a half and yet, he has turned our world upside down.
I praise you for wisdom today. I praise you for the opportunity to love you with my actions and my eyes to to see what you would have me see.
I praise you for the work of my hands, that it accomplish your will. You will guide me through today of this I am certain. As I make decisions that may have eternal consequences as I do my best to guide my team in the service of your church. Help me to lead them well.
I praise you for a home that needs cleaning. Dusty floors that need to be swept and mopped means that there is life here and movement and I am not alone neither physically or spiritually.
I praise you for a godly husband who leads our home. I ask that you bless him abundantly with wisdom and guide him with clear direction. Help me to be the help meet he truly needs me to be.
I praise you for YOU! As I look out of my window this morning I see the trees swaying in the light breeze of an early morning. Oranges maturing on the trees, so plentiful that you almost don’t see the leaves, as the sun shines brightly and the birds chirp. You created this wonderful setting long before I moved here and even long before I was on the scene of planet earth. All of this scene had to be put in place for THIS moment when I would not only recognize the work of your hand but also the blessing of your Holiness. You alone know that I can’t pretend to you that I often take a deep breath and notice my surroundings, yet nevertheless you knew today that I would and you organized every detail.
Even the sudden disruption of a puppy!
All of this to say I love you! I put my hand in yours today. I set my feet on the solid rock of my salvation. I turn my eyes toward your goals and listen for the call that draws me close and gives me the confidence and courage to have this day’s blessings. Let heaven reign. Let freedom reign and above all be the anchor that keeps me close to you.
I praise your voice for it speaks truth.
I praise your heart for it flows mercy.
I praise your love because it is all in all.
I praise your care over each of my children.
I praise your song for it develops my very soul.
My mom called to say you fell twice and that you were getting confused. I knew she was worried so I took my next day off to drive to see you. I walked into your familiar home. You have always been one of my steady people. You have always been one I can count on.
I sat by your bed while you slept. You didn’t even hear me come in. That should have been my clue that things were changing but all I’d ever seen was a woman in control. I had been there just two weeks before and we had eaten together while I showed you pictures of my grandson. You smiled and said, “He’s so cute Mija (my daughter), it’s so nice to have them little. Enjoy him. Pretty soon they get busy.” I pushed off the warning because well, it’s hard to face. The pages of my life are filled with all of the advice you have given me over the years.
I watched you, the strong figure that you have always been in my life, sleeping peacefully as I sat and prayed for you. When did you get so small? Sure, I had noticed the last few years but you were always alert. You were always in command. Your voice was strong and authoritative as it had always been. You thought you would pass at the age of 91 as your mom had passed at 91. You turned 91 in June. The mind is powerful.
You woke up and asked me if I heard children laughing as you tried to focus. I let you know that your caretaker, Maria, has her daughters home from school. They had been in the kitchen getting snacks so I thought it was what you’d heard. You told me they were off this week from school.
We talked about your confusion, we talked about your health and your weariness, about being in a body that would not obey a mind. You’d nod off during our conversation. You’d wake up and apologize for falling asleep. I asked you how many times I’d fallen asleep on you? After all, you have been with me my whole life. You laughed and said, “A lot.” I’m sure it’s true. I have pictures of us since I was a newborn. 53 years of memories.
When it was time for your lunch you demanded ice cream. I figured hey you’re 91 and honestly has anyone ever told you no? The negotiating started and you had ice cream and Ensure. We then had some private conversation because well, the two of us talked about a lot of things over the years.
After I told you how much I loved you and how much you meant to me, I hugged you gently and kissed your cheek and told you I would pray. You thanked me and told me you loved me. I didn’t want to think it was the last time I would see you but my heart felt the nudge. In fact, for a brief moment I thought you’d pass while I was flying out to Illinois. I quickly cast that thought out. Only you did pass hours after I landed.
Nina. It’s the Spanish title of your Godmother. You and Nino truly were Godparents to me. Lots of people are flattered to baptize a child but don’t understand the responsibility of the vow. You two certainly did. You took me to church, you made sure I had my catechism book and clothes for church. You bought me my first fake fur coat and pantyhose. You loved me deeply. When I got In trouble with you I knew it because you never hesitated to let me know, plainly and simply you weren’t above yelling and letting me have it. That is what love does. Love keeps you straight when you’re running crooked. When I needed a secret keeper there you were. I trusted you, I believed in you, and you showed me loyalty, love, and perseverance. How many quiet conversations did we have at your kitchen table over the years?
You taught me about Nana Camp as you took your five grandchildren for the entire summer and had fun. Sure, I’d stop by and you looked exhausted but you were happy and they were happy and I learned.
I awoke Thursday morning in a hotel room at 2 am from a nightmare. I tossed and turned for over two hours unable to fall back to sleep. I received a call at 8 am telling me you had passed. They checked in on you at 1 am and you were sleeping, again at 4 am and you had passed. To say that souls are not knit together is a fallacy.
Tomorrow I will attend your services. I have cried my private tears and while I am still quietly processing the loss, I am at peace that you are no longer left with any questions or doubts. Everything has been answered by Jesus himself. My sarcastic sense of humor can’t help think that Jesus chuckled upon seeing you remembering that you were the lady that on Palm Sunday took one palm leaf off the altar for each of us. Yes, I don’t know what that was about, but I remember you calling me to say you’d picked up a palm leaf for me at church. Then asked if I went to church.
You are now surrounded by loved ones and you can be proud that you left a legacy of love and strength here on earth. I will miss you greatly but your love will live on through those of us who were blessed to be loved by you. Thank you Nina for showing me Jesus and for the honor of letting me be a part of your life. I will see you later!
There was a very specific reason I asked this question on my social media page today:
Catching up on Dr. Laura Podcast and a call came through that made me wonder what your thoughts were?
The caller said she had met the perfect man for her. They talked for hours about everything. Enjoyed each other’s company and had so many things in common. There was only one problem, he was married.
Dr. Laura asked her why a decent woman of character and integrity would want to blow up another woman’s marriage and destroy the woman’s children’s lives?
The woman went on to say this was why she was calling. Should she care? The man of her dreams was unhappily married and had been for a long time.
Dr. Laura responded again with the same question.
So here are four questions:
What would have been your response?
When is adultery ok?
Does the answer change if you’re a follower of Christ?
Don’t people have the right to be happy?
I tried to be neutral in my question not because I had any doubts to my own answer but because I work with women and I know if the question is being asked by one woman it is in the hearts of many. I am asked on fairly regular basis if we have a right to be happy? My answer always depends on the cost to the well being of others. My rights do not supersede the breaking of another person. For example, changing careers when doing so would put a financial hit on the family bears consideration. Moving away from a support system bears consideration when the outcome is uncertain and others are involved.
Lisa Bevere in her book Adamant says God is love but love is not God. In other words we miss the point when we idolize love. To idolize love over people is to trample over the lives of others thereby missing God completely.
At what point do we stop and listen and ask and respond? When someone takes the time to call a radio program, go through a screener, and then ask a question where people will recognize their voice and their question, it means the question is important enough to them to risk. If it important enough to ask and risk being found out, then we need to think through the question because a bigger question is being asked.
When the question was, should I care, it brought to mind two things. One being that in that caller somewhere was an ability to discern right from wrong. The caller was looking for validation to not care. People who don’t care and don’t count the cost of who it hurts wouldn’t have the discernment to look for counsel. Second, it brought on an even more serious question and that is, when did we decide that what was important to us superseded the reality of the pain caused to others?
In this reformation back to holiness lots of seemingly foolish questions are going to be asked. Will we respond with non-response? Will we be intolerant and say we don’t have time for nonsense? Will we beat them with scripture as a Pharisee would? Or will we roll up our sleeves in love and answer from experience of what we have seen, know, or maybe experienced for ourselves regardless of outcome?
How many of us know women who have cheated on their husbands and blown families apart? How many of us have known the “other” woman who is justifying their behavior and covering their selfishness with cries of rights to be happy?
You see, this question was not born out of a, I should know better therefore you should know better, place. It was born out of an attempt to understand how we find ourselves in situations where we are seared to truth? Because as I see it, talking to married person is wrong whether you follow Jesus or not. Caring about others is not a Christian vs non-Christian question it’s a humanity issue. These are character and integrity questions. Only when we see that ideals have been skewed for a prevailing thought of what is right for me, then love calls us to answer the question, first to ourselves, and then to others.
We cannot control outcomes but we do have a voice to speak up and tell the truth. Which approach will you take? Will you take these questions to heart or will you walk away thinking it will never happen to you or your loved ones?
I admit it. I was a little crispy fried a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t had a full day off in a few weeks. A few hours here and there but there were a couple of short term projects that needed to be completed and this wasn’t the normal schedule.
Finally, Wednesday came, our day off and and I took full advantage of it. I woke up early, and stretched out and decided I had nowhere to go, so I read, watched some TV and stayed in my pajamas. Until about 10:30 then Doug and I got ready to go out to eat.
He surprised me by heading out of town to go have some fun. Both of our phones kept ringing. Work, counseling, work, advice, work. At one frustrated point, I said,
“Wait! Everyone knows it’s our day off. Why do they call us anyway with non-emergencies?”
The answer was simple, we didn’t have boundaries.
The calls weren’t emergencies. They were simple things. I wasn’t mad at the people, I was annoyed with myself knowing that I hadn’t set boundaries to protect time off.
Sometimes, things are your own fault. So when you are feeling frustrated, ask yourself, “What am I doing to cause this?”
No, you didn’t set up the phone calls but you did respond even if it was just to open and read the text message or the email or listen to the voicemail.
What boundaries do you have to put into place so that you can get quiet and have some down time?
Remember, Sabbath is not a suggestion. It’s a commandment.
I took a month off of social media. At first, I must confess I missed it terribly. I had not realized how much I cared about what you had for dinner, how brilliant you think your kids are, how much you hate or love President Trump, guns, friends, and people who park in the handicap parking, but I plowed forward. I so wanted to show you pictures of our grandson Cameron, and our new puppy Baron, and share the funny stuff my husband says. Alas, it was only 30 days.
I was able to think more clearly without distractions and I was able to hear more clearly without the other voices. Here is what I learned about myself:
1. I joined the masses of people who are reading about the Enneagram. I read The Road Back To You and completed the study guide and discovered that I am an 8 who wings 7.
Which may explain my thoughts on:
2. I have spent the better part of a year with a man who feels he must mansplain me in public. I have stood down, somewhat astounded and trying to just figure it out. Although his attacks aren’t personal as they weren’t exclusive to me, lest I think too highly of myself. Time and experience has taught me to observe before I move forward. I used to be impulsive and that got me in trouble so I have learned to proceed thoughtfully. I am still scratching my head as to why I allowed his complaining and obstinate behavior for so long but I think, if I’m honest, I was fascinated by the psychology of it his and mine.
I read the about the #metoo campaign. What keeps us from using our voice? I heard Jane Fonda, whom I consider a feminist, meaning I think she thinks she stands for the cause of women’s issues, say she was ashamed for not speaking up about what she knew about Harvey Weinstein. I blame it on conditioning. Men, in general, have acted superior in the workplace for decades and women for decades have acquiesced because we were just glad we got a seat at the table. Phooey on that. While I don’t condone the accusations that are stretches, and I do believe there are political agendas, I’m seasoned enough to know they happen. It was just odd to have it happen in the church which is supposed to be free of gender inequality.
3. I really love my life. Through a series of errors that God has fixed for me through his grace, mercy, and probably because I think I make him laugh and shake his head, I find myself here in this time and space. Is everything perfect? No, there are things in my life that I wish with all of my heart could be right. While I work on that, I must say it’s good to be alive, to be loved, to be known, to be well, to be happy, to be me.
That’s what 30 days can do. What do you know for sure about you?
Matthew 6:1-4 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.
2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
The Senior Pastor, who happens to be my husband, and I have a weekly breakfast meeting. This morning we were at our usual place, Eddie’s Famous Cafe. We were just finishing our breakfast when a man in a shirt and tie walked in with a homeless man. Nothing to see normally but he came in videotaping with his phone. The homeless man kicked the bathroom door startling all of the patrons and it was relatively packed. When he couldn’t open the men’s room, perhaps occupied, he went to the ladies room. My husband quickly gave me his hand and walked me to the cash register so that we could pay and leave.
The premise? Apparently the guy videos picking up homeless people and taking them to restaurants and asking the owners to feed homeless on video to post on YouTube. Let me be clear. I don’t have an issue with that per se. What I have an issue with is that it’s all on public video.
The homeless man comes out of the bathroom, orders his food, mind you no one has volunteered to pay, and yes, I’m watching as my husband pays, the homeless man proceeds to pick up the silverware set on the table and begins dropping it on the table, causing it to make loud clanking noises. Other patrons are now looking uncomfortable. The man in the shirt and tie, comes to us and loudly proclaims, “Did you hear about what I am doing? I am bringing attention to the homeless and I bring them to restaurants and ask the owners to buy them a meal. Will you buy him a meal?” My husband answers, “Yes, I will buy him a meal.” The man in the shirt and tie says, “Great and I need to film this for my YouTube channel. My husband says, “No, thank you.” The man proceeds to attempt to pressure my husband saying this is about posting it on YouTube. My husband declines once more. The man turns to me and proceeds to give me the speech. I decline. He asks if we understand what he is doing. Not being one to wonder I say, “But what exactly are you doing? You go and get homeless people and bring them to restaurants but what exactly are YOU doing for the owners and for the homeless?” He goes on about how many viewers he has. Then he says if we won’t be videoed then can we take a picture with our fist up in the air and declare our help for the homeless. We decline again. My husband thanks him and we went on our way.
At what point does this cross the line? At what point does the whole of the group, the patrons out to eat a meal, the owners deciding when and whom they will help, and this gentleman’s right to video for YouTube, stay within the boundaries of acceptable community? My heart went out to the homeless man. To me, the better approach would be asking politely without a scene. It would seem more sensible.
And yes! I totally get that this post does the exact thing I am complaining about. So what is social etiquette in today’s world? What is our responsibility, I’m not talking about to the homeless man, obviously you feed someone who is hungry, I mean our responsibility to the community?
Just something to think about.
My husband’s middle name is I-Just-Want-To-Stay-Home. I am married to Paul Douglas I-Just-Want-To-Stay-Home Young. Try saying that three times fast. I am the complete opposite. If I have a day off I want to do something with it that isn’t domestic. However we have a pretty cool house and lately we’ve been staying home and swimming and reading. On the eve of my day off I went to bed with laundry on my mind and boredom in my heart.
This morning I woke up and was reading quietly when he woke up. He stretched out and smiled, yes believe it or not, there are people who smile in the morning, I know! Shocking to me too! I never knew that people like this existed.
He said, “is there anything at the movies? NOT HERE.”
Me: Where? Monterey?
He: What the high there today?
He: Too Cool. Fresno or Turlock.
Me: (reads movies)
He: So do they even make movies for people like us who don’t have kids? I have no interest in any of those. I don’t want to stay home today. Let’s go!
I was getting dressed ASAP. I don’t care where we go. We just get to go somewhere. I know, I know, I sound the way I hear Lulu The Wonder Dog’s voice in my head.
Paul Douglas I-Just-Want-To-Stay-Home Young knows how to hold my heart with care and he knows how to make me smile! It’s not always his favorite thing to do but he cherishes me and he spent the entire day making me happy. He took me on an adventure to see beautiful things and reminded me why I still say yes to us.
When you’re team focused and not self-focused you do things you wouldn’t necessarily do for yourself. What have you done for someone else lately?
Now to tackle the laundry tomorrow and iron his shirts. Yes, doing things for one another isn’t always glamorous but it keeps us grounded and together.
We’ve heard the term, we point fingers at those who live this lifestyle but are we checking ourselves to see if this is where we are failing as well? I recently found myself with too many projects once again and realized I had stepped out of a winner focused mentality back to a loser spray mindset. So I stopped booking myself so far in advance.
With six weeks left to go before my first grandchild is born, I have to clear my plate of a few things. I need to focus on getting things together so that I can make the time I will need in this coming season. It’s the usual places where failure finds me. The same things I put off again and again, they are patterns that manifest out of undisciplined pursuits.
So what happens to get me off track? Well, I have a goal and a purpose and then someone asks me to help with their goal and purpose and if it’s worthwhile I help and pretty soon I am so busy that I have lost sight of the path I was heading on.
Even though I know better, I still fall into traps that if I had just lifted my eyes for a minute I would have seen. It’s my fault, for forgetting who I am. Again. It happens. It happened to Paul, it happened Moses, it happened to Elijah. I am no better or worse. I just AM.
So what is it that you are in pursuit of and why do you sometimes find yourself off track? Or rather why do I? There are so many things that pull at my time. Staying focused on the things we are in pursuit of is essential. In the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown, he asks the question:
“What do I want to go big on?”
That is the question that keeps us focused on the right thing. Often we have a few things we want to go big on. We want to go big on another home, we want to go big on a Walmart shopping spree, we want to go big on another project, and we want to to go big on that promotion, we want our kids to go big, we want our spouses to go big. Well truth is we can’t focus on all of that and stay true to ourselves so what is the ONE THING that we want to go big on? I get stuck there sometimes. Multitasking is often a waste of my time. There I said it.
This week, focus on determining what that ONE THING is. Then write down how to make it happen. Let me help you. It isn’t always QUITTING your job. It isn’t always RUNNING to the next distraction. The job may be the source to allow the pursuit. The place may be the open door to the pursuit once distractions leave. Even in opposition there are lessons to be learned. Ask yourself why you walked away or why you want to? Generally, there are selfish reasons that have nothing that can be gained, although this sometimes is hard to swallow once you’ve convinced yourself. The problem may be the distractions themselves that have you in and out of pursuit. It’s easier to blame the distraction rather than ourselves.
My husband and I have a weekly ministry meetings. We either order food in or go out for lunch and we sit and strategize together about our ministry ONE THING. We are intentional about it. If we don’t meet for a week or two our focus becomes one-sided and we have to come back to focus.
It leaves that quickly.
What have you let go of that has caused you to doubt where you are? For you, it might be a weekly focus calendar, or your team meeting, or your family meeting. Here is what IT IS NOT because in these places the ONE THING becomes the OUR THING and these aren’t places to hash out differences, although I fail here too if I’m honest :
- It’s not your date night.
- It’s not your family time.
- It’s not your sabbath rest.
Distractions don’t allow time for the stillness that is required for my/your focus. I opted to take back my peace and not allow the boisterous voices to question my identity no matter how loud and negatively persistent they may be. Just because they are loud and persistent doesn’t mean they are true. The enemy roars like a lion but the roar, if heeded, only causes the prey, us, to run in the wrong direction.
Stop running friends! Stop running towards that wrong thing and stand in the place the Lord has put you in, not looking around in criticism but with eyes of an eagle that can make it better than it is. The Lord is ready to help you. Let’s get focused on the ONE THING.
It’s been a hectic six months. Reconciling the death of my father has been tougher than I thought. Things that I thought I had let go years ago came back up to be dealt with.
Merging three churches together was a lot of work with the promise of a lighter load that hasn’t happened yet but instead has increased.
My first grandson arrived on the scene and he is so amazing to me. I want to do better with him than I did with my own children. By that I mean, I want to slow down and not be so busy because I know my role is different than his parents. I realized I was putting undo pressure on myself which is my typical mode of operation. Go back to the first paragraph of reconciling issues.
My stepdad who has always been healthy and invincible wakes up one day with chest pain and ends up having a triple bypass. This brought new challenges as I realized things for my parents are changing and this was quite a bit of stress for my mom. My strong mom who has always been our leader suddenly looked at us with fear in her eyes. Somehow it affected me in way that I am still processing. It was unsettling and I realized I am stepping up in places that I hadn’t considered stepping up in.
As this parental crisis was happening, my Uncle Fred passed away and although he had been ill, I just happen to think our patriarchs are going to pull through. We’re a stubborn breed.
My Godmother turned 90, sharp as a tack mentally, with a body that is failing her and there isn’t much we seem to be able to do to stop this process.
Lulu the Wonder Dog develops a tumor and off to the vet we go on the same day I’m heading out to a conference. This seemed to be the straw that left me feeling, I don’t even know how to describe it other than profoundly tired.
I left the vet’s office and cried. I cried for a whole bunch of reasons but sometimes the strong one, the one everyone expects to be unflappable needs to just be vulnerable for a minute. Life can be tricky sometimes and as weird as this reads, I was catching a glimpse of a whole lot of things I had to deal with personally within myself.
As great as God is, he speaks strength to my soul as I ask him for direction.
He spoke in a podcast: If you’re a leader whose not willing to do the tiring thing what in the world are you doing? Leadership is tiring. Buck up, it’s the nature of the job. It’s leading people. It’s going first, you’re the first one through the door, you’re the one finding the the problems so that your team can help you find the solution and breaking barriers. So yes that is exhausting because the promise isn’t easy and following the crowd is not creating new ways. If it were easy to follow and nothing needed to change we’d still be leeching people to cure disease. Leadership is a multiplying effect and so yes it’s tiring.
He spoke through the word:“We put our hope in the Lord; he is our protector and our help. We are glad because of him; we trust in his holy name. May your constant love be with us, Lord, as we put our hope in you.”
Psalm 33:20-22 GNT
He spoke through friends who called and said that the Lord was asking them to pray for me. That’s always great and always appreciated deeply. Isn’t it wonderful when people look up and see you might need some help? As a pastor most people expect you to have it all together, and when you don’t it’s because you’ve committed some grave sin or you don’t have enough faith, only life happens even to us in ministry as well. I step out from time to time to work on myself and so as not in infect others and in those seasons the criticism comes from those who haven’t bothered to ask what is going on, I’m just supposed to be in my place. No excuses they are partly right.
God spoke through the picture I posted above. I want you to know that he brings hope to the hopeless and I am confident proof of that.
Here is a key to His great love: I first had to admit I didn’t have it all together, I had to ask for help, and then I had to deal with my stuff.
So if you’re feeling desperate or overwhelmed there is a Heavenly Father who wants to help. All you have to do is get humble enough to ask for help and stay still enough to listen. Listen even when you want to run. Listen even if don’t like what you hear. Just listen. Then get up and move toward the healing, comfort, strength, love, encouragement, and peace that is being offered. He’s right there for you. Blessings!