Saturday, May 23, 2009

He was waiting...

Have you ever been in a longterm relationship, whether it's marriage, or a lifelong friendship, where you just seemed to lose each other in the everydayness of living? Then you take the time and effort to go on a date, have lunch and go shopping together, or go on a weekend getaway and all of a sudden, the reason you are friends, or the reason you fell in love comes back into focus.

The summer I turned fifty, I told my husband that what I wanted for my birthday was some time at the beach with no one but me and Jesus. I had been sensing some things clogging up my relationship with Him...some unhealed hurts, some unresolved offenses, and just the general busyness of life. So off I went, on a hot sunny summer, an overnight bag, my Bible and my journal. Even the drive to Lincoln City, with worship music blaring, and me singing at the top of my lungs with no one else in the car to worry about, the clog was already breaking up. (By the way, did you know there is a scripture about how Judah, which means praise, plows up the clods?) After I got to Lincoln City and checked into the hotel, I drove around and found a place to park where there wasn't a crowd of people. The weather was perfect and warm enough for shorts. There on a small bluff, overlooking the beautiful, blue Pacific, I found a little rock to sit on, and met with Jesus. I know He spoke to me, healed me, strengthened me, during our special "date" away and alone.

Everytime I've gone to Lincoln City since then, I've gone back to "our" spot. A week ago Steve and I had an overnight getaway there. We had a great time reconnecting with each other, after what has been an extremely busy season in our lives. The two of us went together to my spot. Steve sat in the car and read His Bible and studied. I went to my little place on the rock...Bible and journal in tow. The minute I sat down, I had a sense that God's Spirit was He had been waiting there for me, knowing that I would come back to that place to meet Him. Had I been with Him regularly, consistently in my daily life since that time almost two years ago? Yes, of course. Had we had good times of real communication together since that time? Again the answer is yes. But something special had gone on between Him and I in that place, and not only did I remember, but He remembered too. He was there waiting, waiting for me at our place...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

My grandson...

My grandson turned five years old this week. He is,to me, one of the most fasinating creatures God ever made. As the mother of three girls, and nana to two granddaughters and only one grandson,(so far at least), males are a rarity. So, to me, a mom who raised only daughters, everything he does is interesting and often hilarious.

He was, technically, our first grandchild...a long story that I won't go in to here. I was in the room when he was born. I remember leaving the hospital and everyone one I met, stranger or not, was greeted by me with the words, "I just became a grandma! I have a grandson!" He stole my heart at first glance and he has been "Nana's boy" ever since. And in a blink of an eye, it's five years later...Happy Birthday Nana's boy...I love you forever.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Looking forward to summer...

I am so ready for the school year to be over. For those who read who may not know, I am an educational assistant working with special education students. This year has been very challenging and stressful for anyone in the public education system...wage cutbacks, colleagues getting laid off, added to the "normal" stress of working with high needs kids. I think I am down to 15 working days left before summer break.

I love, love, love that I get summers off. This is what a perfect summer morning is to me...
I would wake up when my body had enough sleep. It would, of course, be a sunny day. I am not a big sleep late person...but neither am I one who enjoys waking up before the sun does. I guess I am neither a morning or a late person....I am a 7 to 7:30 a.m. person to between 10 and 11 p.m. person. Coffee would be already brewed and brought to me by my loving husband...which, fortunately for me, does happen most days. What a guy! Then he would leave me quietly alone for one to two hours to pray, journal and read the Bible. This is to me what real luxury is...time, time, wonderful time with peace and quiet and Jesus. Now if all of this happened in a house in a warm climate, and a view of, that would be even more perfect! But even here, in not so tropical southeast Portland, with nothing but a view of my neighbor's house, I can still have all the rest of my perfect morning...and I will in only a few more weeks...YIPPEEEE!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A great day!

Today was a great day. We had our first combined service with our "old" congregation from Portland that we have been pastoring since 1997, and our "new" congregation from Vancouver/Camas. Since the beginning of the whole "one church/two locations" idea was brought to us I have had an overwhelming peace that this was from God. Then yesterday, I was hit with panic...a "what in the world do we think we are doing?" feeling, combined with a checklist in my head of everything that needed to happen to make today go smoothly. (My feeling was that of an expectant mom wondering if she was up to the task of being a the same time you know it's too late to back out now! And then there's the list of everything you need to get done before the baby comes...)All day long I prayed, talked and prayed with a couple friends and prayed some more with my husband before bed, (the expectant father in this analogy). This morning I woke up, and the peace was back...and the morning had the hand of God all over it. The service, (which is not my favorite thing to call our worship time together, but for lack of a better word, I'll call it that), went well and fairly smoothly...but that wasn't what made it great. God's Spirit was there, joy and expectancy were there, a sense of destiny and promise and purpose were there...and the wonderful family of God was there, both "old" and "new" to us. With God's grace and our cooperation with Him, great things are in store...I just know it!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Adding to the family

This coming Sunday, our church is going to merge with another church. We are becoming one church with two locations. This is a big adjustment for my husband and I as we become pastors to a whole new group of people. It's also an adjustment to our current congregation that we have pastored for twelve years, as they now have to share us with that whole new group of people. Thinking about it today, and praying about it, I thought of something I faced as a young wife and mom, that was similar in some ways.

When I had my firstborn daughter, I was overwhelmed with the powerful love that I felt for this perfect little person that God had entrusted to my husband and me. I was so overwhelmingly in love with her, that I began to wonder if we should have any more children because I wondered how it was possible to love someone as much as I loved her. I seriously thought that maybe it would be a good idea to just stop with one child. And let's face it, how much easier would life be with only one child to raise?

Three years later, however, we had our second little girl. In looks as well as in temperment, she was as opposite as can be from our firstborn. But did I love her as fiercely as my oldest daughter? You bet! Was it more work to have two children. Obviously!

Another three years later, and surprise! Daughter number three arrived on the scene. Again, the love in my heart just grew to include her, of course, and amazingly, three kids didn't seem to be all that much more work than two.

I think back now, and can't imagine my life without any one of my three girls. Each one has blessed my life in a different, immeasureable way. I also can't imagine what I would have robbed from my oldest daughter's life, if she hadn't gotten to grow up with her strong-willed middle sibling, or her shy, more quiet youngest sister.

Also, how would my choice, back then have changed history? For example, who would have parented my two precious grandchildren that my second daughter and her husband have adopted? Who would have reached the people she has ministered to on the continent of Africa, or those she will reach when she returns in the future. How would history have been effected if my youngest daughter didn't exist? Who would have been robbed of her sweet, caring spirit? Who would have ministered in worship or in her prophetic gifts, or to the youth in the church? Some day, God's man for her will come along, and she too, will continue to affect history for generations by raising godly children.

Am I saying all this to promote having more kids? Not at all. I am seeing an analogy between that choice then, and this choice now. God is increasing our family...our church family. Part of me then wondered if I could love another kid like I did my firstborn. Now I know, that your heart and your love can grow to include how ever many God gives you. Back then I wondered if I could handle the job. Now I know, that as long as you lean heavy on God, He enables you, gives you wisdom, and covers you with grace when you make mistakes. Now I also know that somehow, my firstborn would have been robbed of something valuable if she didn't have her sisters, and history would have been robbed of something if they never existed. If I , if we, turn away from the new kids God is adding to our church family, what might we rob our current "kids" from as they learn to know and love these new members of the family, and how might we affect history if we refuse this addition that God wants to give us?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Funny Sunday

Today was a funny, odd day at church. Our church is definitely not one that fits into a mold or box, so unusual days aren't really that unusual for us, but today was more unusual than normal! We ended our service today with a wedding. A few weeks back, the bride to be came back to church after having been away for quite some time, with her boyfriend in tow. He accepted Christ as His Savior and Lord, and she recommitted her life to Him. Very soon, they wanted to make things right between them and before God, by getting married and asked to do so following the Sunday morning service. Today was that day.

The congregation was notified ahead of time that following the service there was going to be a wedding and to please stay for the ceremony. However, what neither the congregation, or the pastors were aware of, was that during the sermon, all of the non church attending wedding guests and family members were going to come marching into the service up to the front seats, pose their kids for pictures, take photos, and in general, act like we weren't in the middle of church! My husband, the pastor, tried to valiantly keep preaching, what up to that point had been an awesome message. But let's face it, neither he, nor the rest of us sitting and trying to listen could focus after that. The majority of our church, troopers that they are, stayed through the whole unusual, messy, happy event. Me, in my desire to appear "together", chaffed a bit at the whole "untogetheredness" of it all. And to top it off, we had visitors in the service today...what were they thinking?

This afternoon, I just had to laugh. I began to think how, for some odd reason, my favorite little boys in the classes I work in are not usually the smartest, best looking, or most "together" ones. I just always seem to have a soft spot in my heart for the uncoordinated freckled faced ones with the pokey out ears, or the chubby ones with the funny sense of humor, or the ornery ones. I imagined God looking at our church today...with its uncoordinated ways, and saying, "That's one of my favorite ones. I have a soft spot in my heart for them."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mourning-part 2

When my dad, and now my oldest sister, passed away, because I had the assurance that they had made things right with God and were ready to meet Him the separation was a "clean" cut. Yes, even that type of a wound takes time to heal, but I have the assurance that there will be a day when we will be together again for eternity.

Unfortunately, in our world of easy divorce and disposable relationships, all wounds of separation aren't so clean cut, or easily healed. For example, the tearing wound of my dad leaving our family when I was ten years old, took heal. Those types of wounds easily get infected and can fester for a long time. So I find, that most people I come in contact with, myself included, are walking around wounded because of these tearing wounds. The Bible is full of the words, "walk through..." as in walking through the valley of the shadow of death, walking through the wilderness. But our world today is one in which we walk away instead of walk through. I believe that any relationship worth anything has had to go through some times of "walking through" when it would have been easier to walk away. A good relationship, whether it's a marriage or a friendship, has been tried and tested through the fires of hurt and offense and misunderstanding and come forth like gold...purer and stronger.

Right now, underneath the clean cut separation wound of my sister's death, I am struggling with some tearing wounds-an altogether different type of mourning. I hurt someone, offended them unintentionally, failed to be to them what they needed me to be. I asked forgiveness repeatedly, and though with their words they have forgiven me, their spirit is closed to me. They have shut me out of their essence, walked away. Then I am also struggling with the tearing wound of watching someone I love and care about, repeatedly making willfully bad choices...choices that are keeping them in a cycle of spiritual defeat and failure. In both cases, I am having to daily give these ones I love over to God. I consciously have to take my hands off and leave them in His keeping. This is extremely hard for me. I keep thinking I can just say something or do something that will make things right again. I force myself to remember that God Himself refuses to, will not and can not, supersede the human will. So who am I to think that I can make someone let me back into their heart and life, or make someone make better spiritual decisions.

I am reminding myself of the words in Isaiah 53, that when Jesus died on the cross, He bore not only my sin and my sickness, but my griefs and my sorrows. I have to let Him, allow Him, ask Him, to do this for me today.

Friday, May 1, 2009


My oldest sister just passed away today at the age of 65 from liver failure. She was 14 years older than me, so I barely remember her living at home. My fondest memories are of her as a young wife and mom. She made me an auntie when I was only 6 years old. I absolutely loved it when she would come over and bring my niece, and then later, a little nephew, and eventually another niece.

Mourning, I am finding out, is a crazy unpredictable process. When my dad died a few summers back I was overwhelmed at how powerful the feeling was that I was a little girl who had, once again, lost her daddy. It took quite some time for me to process that, and whenever I would drive past the nursing home where he was at the end of his life, I would feel the pangs of that all over again for quite some time after his death.

Today what I feel is just a sad weariness...and concern about my almost 84 year old mom, who just lost her firstborn. Underneath all that is the glad realization that my sister, probably for the first time since she was a very little girl, is totally free and whole. She was a very broken person who lived a very broken life, but who came back to Jesus a dozen or so years ago. How awesome for her to not only be free of all disease and physical pain, but from all of the emotional wounds and baggage that tormented her in this life.

I'd really like to have had a glimpse of the reunion her and my dad had today. Both of them, like the woman at the well in Scripture, were ones who had been forgiven much...trophies of the grace of God.