Musings From A Musical Mind

Posts tagged ‘Pastor’

5 Things That Shape You

English: Rick Warren speaks at the 2006 TED co...

English: Rick Warren speaks at the 2006 TED conference. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Purpose Driven Life book cover

The Purpose Driven Life book cover (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Greg and I started watching a new series last night on the OWN station. It is hosted by Oprah and entitled “Oprah’s LifeClass”. Last night Rick Warren, pastor, teaching and author of “The Purpose Driven Life” was on sharing his heart and principles from his many books.  He was right on.  I took away many things from watching the segment.  And no matter what you may have heard or think of Oprah in a negative fashion – I will have to disagree.  I have been so impressed with her.  Yes she is successful and influential – but I don’t believe she abuses her power.  She has given her life to help others, is a true blessing and giver and willingly shares her spot light with so many others.  We have watched many of her episodes and interviews – she gives good solid advice to others and knows first hand what it is like to make something of herself in spite of an abusive past.  It is a great compliment to her when those like Pastor Rick Warren will go on her new series and speak truth.  I believe many were encouraged and helped by the things that both he and Oprah said during the hour.  Below is a snippet from the show.  Be encouraged as you learn the “5 Things that shape you”.

God Bless

Guest Post From Ray Carroll

I’m excited to feature a very special article today from my friend, Ray Carroll.  You can find his blog here at: Fallen Pastor. Ray knows first hand what it feels like to fail, be forgiven and restored again to health.  He is passionate about helping others.  His articles and story are compelling and encouraging.  Failure has made him a different man.  He has written a book about his experiences, available at Amazon.com entitled: Fallen Pastor.  If you know of anyone that needs a little help or someone to talk to – Ray is an excellent person.

Below is his response to the recent news events that touch the Christian community.  You will find his statements powerful and provocative, but right on.  I hope you will read it and enjoy it as much as I have.

Enjoy and God Bless!

Gay Marriage, the Church, and the Jesus Response

I was so thankful yesterday to get a Facebook inbox message from a friend who was concerned about the current argument in America over gay marriage. Like many Christians, she was concerned about the moral failure of the country. She had been watching Facebook and so have I. I too, have seen many comments like, “Why don’t people see what Scripture says?”

I’ll be honest. I don’t watch television news. For a good reason. It’s only purpose seems to be to rile people up over things that are insignificant. You get stressed out. I mentioned in an online magazine recently how watching TV news in a constant flow caused my mother anxiety.

She said she read my blog occasionally and never saw me write anything about the issue. I don’t. My blog is about fallen

Pic courtesy of PBS

Pic courtesy of PBS

pastors, mostly. Then, I write about issues secondary to that. Then, after that, I write about what tickles my fancy. I don’t avoid the big issues. I’ve written about big issues before, but they’re just not on the radar of what I do.

My response to her was probably not what she expected, but I hope it was biblical. (She did thank me for the sermon :) ) I want to post it here then add some comments after. Here it is, verbatim:

Here is what I would say. And I pray it’s the biblical thing, because any response of my own would be wrong.

I’d take it back to the apostle Paul who wrote to a church that was probably going through more moral decay than we are, if you can imagine. In his time, it wasn’t just the culture, it was members of the church who were declining in morality. Members of the church were going up to the pagan temple and sleeping with temple prostitutes.

Paul was surrounded by a pagan Roman culture that was filled with violence, sex, child molestation, and hedonism – and all of it was legal. But Paul didn’t write against the evil around him in the world. He wrote about the sin within the church. He says something interesting in 1 Corinthians 5:

Please take time to read more important stuff after the jump:

For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? God judges those outside.

seekPaul tells the church that the church should be watching out for immorality within it, not outside of it. There’s plenty of immorality within to watch out for. He was right. Today, there is sexual immorality, pornography, adultery, gluttony, and all kinds of sin within our own four walls – I should know. We have our own problems to attend to. God will take care of the problems outside.

And on that issue – does that mean we aren’t to care about the world we live in? Of course not. In John 16:33, Jesus said:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

If the world will change, it will be because of Christ and the Gospel. It won’t be because Christians get on Facebook and complain. It will be because we care about people in this world, show the love and compassion of Christ to those in this world who are not like us, those who are outright sinners, rejected and thrown away by 99% of most churches.

Does that mean we accept all types of sin? Nope. But we love them and let God work on them.

Does it hurt to call a Congressman or Senator when a bill comes up that we don’t like or want to support? No, we should. We should be good citizens. But we should be even better citizens of heaven. Loving the rejected.

Remember that Christ didn’t minister to those who were religious. He went first to the outcast, the ill, the worst sinners in the bunch. Who would religious people see those people as today? I think it’s something to think about.

One more thing that I think is important. I think it’s easy to get worked up on one issue today. I don’t think gay marriage or any one other issue is going to ruin our country. Sin has been around since the fall of man. There is good news – that’s what Resurrection Sunday is about. We aren’t fighting a losing battle, we are in a winning one. Because of Christ, all is won for those who believe. There is always victory and he has given it to us.

Be confident in the future of the world that God has created. Be joyous in this life and know that Christ was victorious at the cross and continues to be victorious today.

That’s it. But I want to add a couple of things.

outcastsIt’s been a while since I pastored. If I was still the same man I was before I committed adultery, I think I’d probably be in the pulpit speaking a different message. And I think I would have been wrong. Have I gone into a grey area? No, I don’t think so.

Here is what has changed. I’ve seen what Christ did when he came to us. He didn’t waste his time with the religious people of the day. He went straight for the outcasts. Those who knew they needed something to happen in their lives. And he made it happen. They were broken people and they were ready to listen. Go check it out. Any story where Christ saved someone. Any story in Acts where people were saved after Christ ascended. Those people were broken. Their sins weren’t called out one by one, they just wanted to know God and they were called upon to repent.

What I see today is a church that is the religious right of Jesus’ day. Christ corrected those people. He interacted with the religious people, but he mostly told them that their hearts weren’t right. He told them that they needed internal cleansing. Then, he spent no more time with them and turned his attention to the people the religious crowd wanted nothing to do with.

Ask yourself – who are the people most mainline denominations want nothing to do with? That’s an easy answer. Who isn’t visiting your church? Bikers, ex-cons, homosexuals, thieves, adulterers, drug addicts, single parents with bratty children, fallen pastors, people with tattoos all over their bodies, alcoholics, people who have been married three or more times, suicidal people, those who have severe depression, those with severe financial difficulty, and if you’re in a white church – African-Americans, Latinos, or any other ethnic group.

I am afraid that our churches have become safe-havens for the self-righteous.

Our immediate response is, “Well, those people need to repent before they come to Christ.” Friends, our job isn’t the same job as God. God’s job is the work of salvation. Ours is to love and speak truth and show compassion. Salvation is entirely the work of God.

If we really, really believe that God can change a person who is not like us, then we will welcome them into our community of faith and treat them like Christ treated them. With love and compassion. When we rail against any people group with hatred, we’ve lost them. I’m not saying there isn’t sin in this world. There is. But God is judge of what is right. And He is the one who changes hearts.

Our job? Love. Embrace those in this world. Give them space, shelter, love, empathy and maybe for the first time a friendsteps who knows Jesus Christ.

Listen. Go ahead and do your Good Friday reconstruction of Jesus on the cross. Have some forty year old guy stand on some wooden platform for six hours this week. People will drive by on their way home from work, after 40 hours of torture, look up and say, “What in the heck are those people doing?” There’s no message for them there. They are looking for authenticity. They want people who just love them for who they are.

That’s what Christ did. He loved people for who they were. That’s what we are supposed to do. Let God sort it out after that. Our job isn’t to say, “Well, I don’t think that person will fit in here. They don’t dress well, they have personal issues, they sure are strange.” Nope.

You know what happened when Christ loved people? They responded with repentance. He didn’t excuse sin. But he showed them love beyond borders. He showed them something the religious establishment of the day wasn’t giving them. I say that’s what’s going on in the majority of churches today. I pray it isn’t so. But I believe it is.

We are to love. Plain and simple. Get over ourselves. Start loving like Christ did and then turn anyone who comes over to Him and see the miracle He can do.

This is what makes me want to start a church in my own county where anyone who walks through the door is accepted, loved and will be treated kindly. Anyone can come in, know they don’t have to give money, know they will hear the good news, and know that there is hope. May the compassionate Christ resonate during this Resurrection week.

Partings and Meetings

Life is full of “meetings and partings” but rarely do we get to have it the other way around. Two years ago I wrote an article: Memories And Lost Boys. If you missed it – check it out.  It is because of that article going viral that one of my “lost boys” was able to do a “google search” for his own name – and stumble upon the article I had written several months before.  This has taken all of us on a strange and wonderful adventure and ended yesterday in a “meeting” after a “parting” some 26 years before.  When you read the article you will see that the brother, William (or Bill as we knew him back when he was just 18 years old) wrote me a comment saying, “two lost boys found” and ended up in many email and Facebook communications since then.

But I must back up.  In the article it explains that Greg and I were youth pastors in Jeannette PA in 1984 and 1985.  This is where our story began with these “boys” – four of them in fact listed in the above article.  We had a special connection with them – all four boys dedicated their lives to Jesus Christ while we were there and Greg ‘baptized’ all of them as well.  Then our world was turned upside down as the church board asked our senior pastor (a man we loved and looked up to) to resign after 10 years ministry.  We had only been there a year, but it was not an option for us to remain without the pastor who had brought us to this church from where we were living in Fairbanks, Alaska.  We soon found another position in New Castle, about 2 hours drive from Jeannette.  The brothers, John and Bill came to see us while I was pregnant with Ashlee in early 1986.  After that – the boys moved to New York with their mother and the others dispersed and went on with their lives.  We lost touch.  This was in a day before internet, email and cell phones.  When you said goodbye – it was forever – there was no way to stay in touch.  Here is what everyone looked like 27 years ago.

John is on the bike – Bill in the blue shirt.

Greg and Bill above.

John, Bill and Greg above.

Some of the girls we’ve never found – John, Bill and me above.

We lived in New Castle 3 1/2 years – and when our time was up in that church we looked to the West Coast where we both were from.  Soon we settled in a little church in California where Greg was the lead and only pastor for 3 years.  From there we ended up in Fort Worth, Texas, Vero Beach Florida and then back in Seattle where we have lived since 1995.

Not a year went by that I didn’t think of those kids in the youth group and especially the boys we had been close to.  It’s funny to think of it – Greg and I were not much older than any of them – at the time it seemed HUGE!   BUT the age gap closed in as I began to think of them and wonder where they were – knowing full well that these were not “boys” anymore but grown men – probably with families of their own – like us!

Fast forward to the age of email and internet.  Opening doors for those of us who had literally lived all over the United States!!  I was able to find some people through email – if they had been good about staying in touch – with others in was near impossible – like searching for a needle in a haystack.  When internet searching became available right around the time of our first computer, back in the late 90’s – I looked every 6 months or so for those boys.  When MySpace was all the rage – I looked for them then – when Facebook was more popular I looked again – every few months.

Fast forward to 2 years ago – the time when I wrote the article above about “lost boys”. I took a chance and listed their names – just on the perchance that someone would come across it – I didn’t know how – I just did it because you never know, right?

I forgot about it – and a few months later I found the two other boys on Facebook.  We were so excited to find Randy and Todd were both on facebook by then – and had emails and Facebook conversations with them both.  We even Skyped with Randy a couple of times and it was really wonderful to catch up on all the lost years.  But still no Bill or John.  We searched, Randy even helped me – and we looked for some of the other people from the youth group – but hit a couple of dead ends.

Then OUT OF THE BLUE I got the comment left to me on the above article by Bill – telling me I had found them and explaining a little bit about he and his brother – what they were doing now etc.  That was followed up by other emails and Facebook greetings and conversations.  It seemed like a miracle to me especially because all of us lived much of life before internet.

That miracle has been such a blessing – as we met William (Bill) with his new wife, Donna in Seattle and had a wonderful dinner together and a time rejoicing over how good God is in bringing us all together again after so many years.  Bill shared with us that those lost years had been tough ones as his mother died shortly after we lost touch with them – his father had left them many years before that.  The brothers were truly on their own after that and had some rough years.  Bill said that he spent many years running from God and searching for things in all the wrong places – had a few failed relationship and was “lost” – until a man approached him in the lobby of somewhere he was passing through and told Bill, “you look lost”.  This man prayed for Bill right there – and though it took another year for Bill to really turn his life around – he finally did begin by saying to himself, “I need to find a church”.  Soon after he rededicated his life to Christ and became very involved in his local church.  He told us last night that he never forgot being baptized by Greg and the impact that had made on his life – it was his turning point for sure.  He described it “like a marriage” for him.  It was a beautiful moment in the restaurant and Donna and I were very teary.  The picture of that lost boy – (now man) coming full circle and coming back to something he had once believe so strongly in – was a miracle.

He met Donna at that church after recommitting his life back to Christ and they were married a year ago last February.  She is a wonderful lady – so perfect for Bill and we are so happy for them both.

Here are some pictures of our very joyful reunion last night with Bill who is not 18 anymore – but 46!!!  How can this be???


Greg, me and Bill


Bill and Donna


Greg and Bill


Bill and Donna

I am hoping you will be encouraged by what has happened to Greg and me the last couple of years – and that you will know for sure that God orders our steps and allows us to make the impact on lives for His purpose and in His great timing.  Never be weary in well doing – for in time you will reap a great harvest if you don’t give up.  Those you touch and influence for His glory – will never be in vain.

God Bless

Things That Don’t Bring Shame

Running after our own desires only brings shame

When was the last time this statement had you nodding your head in agreement?

Heard an excellent message yesterday morning at a church we were visiting.  The pastor had many great points about Ephesians 1 – and in particular what God desires for us.

Are our own desires always bad?  When they don’t line up with the word of God and God’s ultimate plan for our lives – our desires can bring us only temporary happiness – but not lasting joy.

Heard another excellent video message this morning from Joyce Meyer.  She was speaking on the subject of “Fear”.  One of the best I’ve ever heard on this subject.  In the middle of the message – she almost echoed the words above that the pastor had spoken yesterday – “when we follow after something from the flesh – it only satisfies for a little while – but then we end up feeling REALLY STUPID and having tons of regret”

The question should be:  “What does God want for my life?”  Period.  He has so much more planned for me than I can ever imagine – and the things He does not give me is only to protect me or give me something better instead.

That simple trust is very hard.  We want what we want.  I want what I want.  I sometimes try to “help” God, trying to manipulate circumstances to get it – instead of just giving it up and asking what He wants for me.

Are you asking for something today and God is saying, “No”?  Is it a desire of the flesh?  Is it something He does not want for you?  Is it withheld because of the great lesson you are going to learn from it?

God will never give you something that causes shame.

You can take that to the bank, my friend.

Romans 9:33 – As it is written: “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble and a rock that makes them fall, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.”

I am praying for you

God Bless

Authentic Me!

I am authentic

I am real

I am down to earth

 

These are all “catch phrases” that we toss around today.  And it’s especially popular to hear this among Christian pastors and leaders.  But how many really are?

Our pastor led the way last Sunday morning, for it to be okay to be “real” and share with us an area that he has been struggling with.  It was honest and had no pretense. He was just a human being with needs and struggles like the rest of us – he experiences good times and bad, highs and lows.  It was the first really honest moment I’ve witnessed from the pulpit in a long time – if ever.

Now that being said, there are some that would disagree with this approach.  In fact my husband and I were both raised in an era where the pastor (or leader) had to be above reproach and almost ghost-like in perfection.  That was of course, because he (or she) would never allow anyone into their world and all that was personal was highly protected.  It seemed that the worst thing they could do was to let people really know who they were.  The thought being, “They cannot lead others if they admit they don’t have it all together”.

Those of us from my generation and older – bought into this.  We believed you couldn’t have close friends in ministry – believed that others did not want a flawed leader – believed that showing anything less than the perfect role model – would hinder the testimony of Christ.  This caused a false sense of security for others trying to live up to that standard.  And much guilt on the part of the minister and his family.

We discussed this dilemma much in our small group last night.  All of us were there last Sunday morning to witness the beautiful worship service – and Stephen’s willingness to “go there” – for the sake of being truly authentic.  And gave permission for everyone to feel the same – reach out and know that there are others that feel the same way.  It was really beautiful.

As we talked about it in our group, I was very aware of the balance between “sharing” and “sharing too much”.  Who can we really be that “real” with?  Is it important to let people know what you’ve come from – how you handled it and how God has worked in your life?  Or is it better to just talk about surface issues and keep it light?

I know it’s a touchy subject and although some, like me – are grateful for this new freedom in sharing – I know that there are some that simply don’t feel comfortable sharing – or having others share with them.  It is a risk, and certainly some will even look differently at you when you open your heart.  But in light of all these things – I still choose to be a more authentic me.

Here’s why.

I am not perfect.

I struggle with thoughts.

I am selfish by nature.

I like to be right.

I like to have the last word.

I don’t have it all together.

Three years ago I went through a traumatic experience of the heart and emotions.  I started writing a blog to express things I was unhappy about and things I hoped to change.  I went on a journey both spiritually and emotionally and my writing was a vehicle of healing for me.  I tried to be authentic about the way I was feeling.  I knew it would be criticized, as a former pastor’s wife – we aren’t allowed to be sad or struggling – but I plodded along anyway.  The benefit was two-fold:

1.  Others read my writings and daily personal thoughts, as I searched for answers and hung on to the fact that in spite of pain – God is still good.  I connected with many people who would either comment – or privately contact me on Facebook or by email – telling me how helpful and encouraging my writings were and are to them.  Being authentic had a purpose after all – to others who are struggling, questioning and hurting.  It provided a vehicle for them to share – and know for sure that they weren’t alone.

2. It helped me personally.  My empathy and sensitivity grew with my writing journey. Things I had no patience with before – I found compassion and understanding.  I found others who struggled and needed a friend to lend a hand.  While helping, coaching and counseling with others – I’ve found a new purpose for things I was allowed to go through.  And the friendships were and are numerous.

But there is a down-side.  There always is.  I have been burned by sharing myself.  It’s made me more cautious – and I question things more.  I wish I did not.  I wish that I still believed that everyone had my best interest in mind – but now I question that too.  It doesn’t entirely stop me – but it has changed me.  Anytime someone doesn’t understand us or does not validate us in some way – it is very hard.

But I still choose to be a more authentic me.  I choose to take the gifts and blessings God has given me – and reach out to those who need that extra help, support and love. I choose to learn from the painful, dry and empty times along my journey – and share with others what I’ve learned – how God has helped me and most of all – how it’s NOT fatal to go through times of failure, uncertainty and darkness.  It’s been in those times that my heart was much more open to hearing what God was telling me.  And the biggest blessings came when God didn’t answer me at all, instead gave me the tools to find joy again – by writing and opening my heart.

I encourage you today – it’s a scary thing to open up and share, but find someone you trust and have a heart-to-heart with them today.  You may find that the person you’re opening up to – will do the same and there will be strength and blessing in your authenticity.  Even if you’ve been hurt before – you need to trust again.

Have you ever had a truly authentic moment?  This last year?  This last week?  How did others around you respond?

God Bless

The Fallen Pastor

Image

Yesterday I received the book, “Fallen Pastor” in the mail.  I got my copy early because I did a pre-order on the book and knew about it from the inception.  The reason?  I’m privileged to know Ray Carroll personally.  We met through the wonderful blogging community about 2 years ago, and have been great friends since then.  He is a former Southern Baptist Pastor who had a fall from grace, and lived to tell about it – but more than that, He lived to write about it, help others, speak, minister and be a living breathing reminder of God’s amazing grace.  His journey has taken him to hell and back again – and he is able to help others with what mistakes he made, and what mistakes others made in dealing with the prevalent problem of moral failure in the church today – especially among pastors.

Ray is happily married to Allison and provides hope, help, advice and counsel for those who are suffering with secrets, pride, or failure of any kind.  Ray is down to earth, funny, practical and has found a ministry through the written word.  This experience has broken his heart, humbled him and made him a human being again after years of being full of pride and arrogance.  I deeply respect him, his great love for people, his beautiful wife and children.

If you would like to read this great book of hope and inspiration, you can order it from Amazon.com right here: Fallen Pastor

You can also follow him on his blog The Fallen Pastor as he journeys through life on the other side of failure – where grace and forgiveness are waiting.

I’m proud of you, Ray.  You are an inspiration to others who are hurting.  Thank you.

God Bless

Being Authentic

The Sad Clown! She is a teacher at my daughter...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday my husband Greg and I had a most interesting and enlightening conversation in the car – while discussing our pastor’s message that morning at church.

Normally I love our pastor’s messages – he is always prepared and seems to have his pulse on what is going on in the lives of his congregation.  This time I felt he was right on – as usual – but must admit, it made me uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable and a little sad – because I simply was not raised with the idea that it was okay to let people know what you are feeling – especially if it is bad, questionable or sad.

I’m from a generation who believed you did NOT let anyone see you sweat – never voiced a fear or regret – or even dared to be sad or depressed about anything.  This was true in our family – and sadly, in the church.

And to further complicate this – about 3 years ago I found myself in a touchy situation with another person and I was going through a bad time – was in a dark hole of sadness and was criticized for posting a SCRIPTURE verse on facebook about being downcast and sad from the PSALMS!  Good grief.  And because I was in leadership – I was not allowed to mourn over a loss – or even hint that I might be having a problem with it.

So it seems there are two very different schools of thought on being authentic:

1.  We should be honest in expressing who we are – how we’re feeling and doing – and not afraid to be real with people and let them know that we struggle like everyone else.

Or

2. Never let people know that you struggle with temptation or sin.  Always be “fine” when asked and only post positive things when on a social network or in person.   Especially leadership.  Because leadership is perfect and never struggles.  We paste on a smile and never let them see us sweat.  We never have problems with our children – we never have illness or marital trouble.  Never.

Well, yesterday – my dear pastor admitted that he struggles.  He admitted that he’s not perfect – in any way.  That he can be and mostly always IS a disappointment to others in his life.  He admitted that he’s a human being capable of temptation and sin like the rest of us.

I loved what he said about those that attend AA meetings.  They have to say their name and then say, “I’m an alcoholic” or “I’m a recovering alcoholic”  and he believes that when we introduce ourselves to others that we should be quick to say, “I’m a recovering sinner“.  Because it’s true.  We are all at level ground.  Even leadership.

Now I’m also aware that people who are lost need to have a role model – and have someone they can look up to.

Here’s the problem with that.  Most of the time – it’s not reality – and the first time that this “seeker” or really lost person has a problem – they fall, because they don’t have it “all together” like the Christian people they encounter at church on a Sunday morning – and they believe they can’t make it.

Instead – I would submit that you do the following:

1.  Stop trying to elevate ourselves by trying to look better than anyone else

2. Have a humble spirit and listening ear

3. Admit that you have problems and temptations like everyone else

4. Admit that you stumble and sometimes want to go the other way

5. Have a testimony of God’s grace and love ready to share with others when they become discouraged.

6. Be a person that is “instant in season” knowing that God places certain people in our path.

7. Do not let anyone tell you  – you can’t express who you are.  Even if that means you have to admit you’ve failed.

I wish I would’ve done that back then – but I’ve learned some valuable lessons about people and myself since then.  I’ve found out that everyone struggles – we are ALL THE SAME when it comes to this.  How you RESPOND is truly the difference – NOT whether or not you get hit with struggles, temptation and sin.  Because if you live long enough – you will.

Here is what you SHOULD do:

1. Respond in an authentic way

2. Admit that you struggle

3. Ask for forgiveness and for strength from the only one who truly understands and can forgive without strings attached.

4. Tell others that it’s only the grace of God that gives anyone ANY hope in times of struggle – including you.

5. Have a fast recovery time from failure to repentance.

6. Be unafraid to be yourself – including gifts of encouragement and hospitality to bring renewed hope to others who may be hurting and struggling.

7. Do NOT let others rob you of your ability to be yourself.

8. Listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit – not to man alone.

9. Develop a deep joy in your spirit even in times of trouble.

10. Pray for your leaders – they are human beings too.

 

God Bless

Article Sharing (Part 2)

Blogging Heroes

Image via Wikipedia

Last week I featured three of my blogging buddies, Deanna who now has a couple of new websites – this one is “Your Pastor’s Wife” – JoJo at “The Art of Eloquence” and Ray at “Fallen Pastor”.  Today I am pretending that it’s Friday and featuring some more of my wonderful talented blogging buddies.

1. The Reluctant Wham is a blog site by my online buddy, Carla Ives – who is committed to sharing her wealth of information for the “work at home mom”. Her daily inspiration and encouragement is a must for any “reluctant” stay at home mom who has found herself in the position of making money for her family. I love Carla’s information – but mostly her keen sense of humor and love for people who motivate her to give of herself. I love all of her articles – but if I had to choose one to feature it would be this one: My Quilt Be sure and check out her site for many ideas about making money while staying at home.

2. 24/7 Life – A Life Well Lived is a blog site by my real life friend David Miles. David and my husband were on staff together for about 4 years at New Life Church in Renton, Washington about 3 years ago. I have always loved David and his wife, Monika. They have a beautiful baby girl now – and it’s fun to see him playing the “proud papa” and displaying his many pictures of his baby girl 🙂  David is now on staff at Maple Valley Presbyterian and works with people of all ages – and I’m sure they love him!  He is fully engaged when he has a conversation with you – in person or online.  He and I have been square dancing corner partners (don’t ask) and then friends at church and blogging buddies for about 3 years now.  He always encourages me in my writing – and has even been so kind as to feature me as a guest blogger a few months ago.  Probably my favorite article of his was the one he just wrote a few days ago: Facing A Potential “Most Embarrassing Moment” You will love it – and him. Check him out!

3.Pastor Mike Says Is a blog site from my real life friend Mike Sanderson. We met through our blogs and facebook about 3 years ago or so. Then Greg and I planned a trip to Las Vegas where Mike and his wife, Carmen live. Naturally we wanted to meet them to put a face with a name – and what a fun weekend we had! Mike even took us to the Grand Canyon – what a long day in the car that was! I don’t think any of us ever properly recovered from that trip! Mike is a pastor and has a shepherd’s heart for people. His blog site reflects that. I even helped design it for him 🙂 My favorite article of his is: You Are Unique, You Are Amazing I trust that you will be blessed to hear his words of encouragement.

Check them out – you will be blessed today!

God Bless

My Testimony, Audio (via The Fallen Pastor)

I’m posting this audio today from my friend, Ray Carroll. It is his testimony as told last Sunday in a church where he once attended. It is powerful. The story of a fallen man, a former Southern Baptist pastor – and his discovery of God’s grace through that fall and journey back to health and forgiveness. He talks about the work on the cross so beautifully – because of Good Friday – I knew this would be appropriate to share with my readers today. You will be encouraged, challenged and look at the work of Jesus and the wrath of God in a different way after listening to what Ray has to say.

I promised you that I’d share my testimony with you. Last Sunday, I shared it with a local church. I just finished posting it to YouTube – sorry, no video, audio only. So, if you can’t wait for the typed version, or would rather listen, here it is. It’s a little over 30 minutes long in total. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJXaducYk0 … Read More

via The Fallen Pastor

Blast From The Past

Two friends

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday I spent the day with an old friend.  Sue is someone whom I spent an entire year with – when we were 7th graders.  Her family was in Seattle on a year furlough from where they served as missionaries to the Philippines.

7th grade is a very awkward time for most kids – we were no different.  Our junior high school building had burned down while I was at 6th grade camp – we heard the news on the bus ride home.  What would we do?  Since no school could be built that quickly (it took 2 1/2 years) it was decided that we would bus to another district – for our 7th grade year – some 45 minutes away from our town.  This was a brand new school – sitting empty due to a failed levy in their district.  The school was an “open configuration”  freezing cold – this is Washington State where most of the year it is overcast, cold and/or raining in the fall, winter and spring months.  The school had outdoor  breeze-ways  between classes and all the lockers were outside too.  Brrr.  It was at this frozen place that I first met Sue.

She was fresh off the mission field and feeling very lost and alone.  Junior high is brutal – EVEN when you’re from here – but if you are not – good grief – it’s humiliating and cruel.  She remembers two HUGE girls on her bus (must have been 9th graders) that wanted to beat her up – and they kept calling her a “Lesbian”.  Something she didn’t understand until much later.  Yes – we were pretty sheltered back then 🙂  Most of that year is a blur to her – it’s probably better that way.  What I can remember of it – it was horrible – from the LONG bus rides to the freezing hallways – to the P.E. classes and school bullies that once put snot and blood all over the front of my locker.  I never used it again after that.  I can remember more things than I want to.

Sue and I did everything together that year – it was back in the day when you could actually let your 12-year-old kid go on a city bus ALONE to the mall or Seattle center – or anywhere else and they weren’t in any danger.  That’s what we used to do.  Sue also remembers choir tour that year when our church youth choir “hit the road”.  We had tons of fun and used to laugh A LOT at everything.  She had a younger sister, Pam (now a missionary herself  in the Philippians ) who at that time was in the 5th grade.  I spent a lot of time at their big rented house not far from our own home.  Her Mom made this incredible “Sticky Rice” and I finally got that recipe about 4 years ago from Pam and made it myself – great stuff!

After that year – Sue’s family went back to the mission field and I saw her only once more – right before I got married – she even gave me an idea for one of the songs that I used in my wedding – some 30 years ago this fall!  But this was the last time I saw her.  Before internet – it was hard to keep in touch.  She got married to a pastor and so did I.  We both moved around so much – and addresses, phone numbers and email addresses changed as frequently as the wind.

Then about 4 years ago – her parents were at the church where my husband was on staff at the time.  They came for a missions conference and as it happened – I was sitting right by them during lunch on a Sunday.  As we started to talk – I looked more closely at their last name and suddenly put it all together and said – “Do you remember me?”  I told them my maiden name and they remembered and we started to talk about their girls – where they were and what they were doing.  Sue was not on any of the social networks yet – but I got an email from her sister Pam – who was living in the Philippians.  It was so great chatting and catching up.  I emailed Sue – working at the time and very busy with 5 children.  It took a while to hear anything from her.  But I finally did and we did a little catching up through email.  About a year ago – she joined facebook and I saw pictures and chatted with her here and there.

Fast forward to about 3 weeks ago.  I received a message in my inbox on facebook from Sue – saying she had MOVED up here to Olympia – just an hour from my home.  Her husband is the new pastor of Evergreen Christian Community Church – a church we are familiar with because the former pastor’s wife from New Life Church had ties there –  her father used to be the lead pastor there for several years.  And her mother and brother still attend there.  What a small world it is!

We made plans to get together and yesterday she appeared at my front door.  I opened the door and all of a sudden I was 12 years old again looking into the face of Sue’s Mom!  WOW – it really surprised me!  She looks so much like her Mom used to look when we were kids 🙂  I can’t tell you how great it was to see my old friend and to see the years completely melt away in a matter of seconds.  I felt at home with her immediately.  Sue has a very warm and gentle heart – the perfect pastor’s wife.  She and I talked and talked and TALKED – all afternoon – remembering funny things about that crazy 7th grade year.  And feeling blessed that we had each other.  It warmed my heart to hear her say that I saved her that year – even though I felt like I was lost too.  We never realize the impact that we make to others when we’re making it, do we?

This was proof positive for me – that we don’t change that much from the time we are children.  We stay pretty much the same people inside – even though we gain perspective and wisdom as we experience life.

I am so glad to have my friend back in the area – and look forward to many more of these special times – shopping, laughing, remembering and being friends – even after all the time and space between us.

What’s your “Blast from the Past” today?  Something or someone you remember?  Someone who made a difference in your life as a child, teenager or adult?  Who are you investing in today?  Remember to make each moment count – you never know who you are impacting.

God Bless

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