Sunday, April 19, 2015

Sometimes It Feels Wonderful to Be a Writer

How can we understand the un-understandable?

Oh my gosh, I am writing one last blog post for the lovely website 5 MINUTES FOR FAITH and I love what I wrote! This is funny because the other day my good writerly friend Dawn just wrote her last submission for the same place and she talked about how much she loved it. Maybe every once in a while when we know it's an important piece, the best stuff rises to the top. 

For this final message I literally asked God what my last words to these readers ought to be.  It came loud and clear and I am proud of what ended up on 5 MINUTES FOR FAITH tonight. Please go on over and check it out. Thanks you guys. 

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Places to Go and Rattles to Grab

Photo by Melissa Roden Klein - Baby Photography

Our world is full of amazing sights. Wonders that make you catch your breath with awe. I remember seeing Yosemite Falls for the first time from the backseat of my parents car. Looking through those windows and knowing that my eyes were on something wonderful and magical. 

Last Sunday afternoon my heart was captured and my eyes were transfixed on a new wonder. I held my breath while watching my 6 month old grandson work out the mechanics of crawling. Seriously you guys, this is a crazy-ridiculous accomplishment. 

After only a few short months on the planet, this little guy is working hard on getting his four limbs to cooperate with one another. His eyes see the rattle, but it is out of reach. If only he can get his arms and legs to lift his heavy body up and take it from here to there. 

His arms straighten out and up goes the chest. But the chunky legs are still sprawled out behind him. He is tired of his earlier system of inch-worming his body forward. He knows there has to be a better, faster way to do this. With little grunts of effort the legs move into place underneath his body and he is in position for forward motion! 

For some unknown reason one legs darts out to the side as if trying to outrun the rest of his limbs. Pulling that leg back into line with the other leg, he rocks back and forth. I can see his eyes concentrating on the goal. The rattle is right there, we can do this! 

The four grown-ups are laughing and cheering him on. He breaks focus for a second and grins back at them. OK, back to work. One arm off the floor and placed a few inches forward, then the other. His legs are finally cooperating with the team effort and he reaches out for the rattle. Oops! Must have misjudged how close he was, need a few more synchronized moves to reach his goal. At last, all four limbs have worked together and one hand lands on the rattle!

YAY! His crowd of fans are cheering and he laughs with triumph! 

Forgive this grandma moment, but really folks, this sweet and intense work has impacted me to the core these last few days. I cannot stop thinking about it. There are so many layers of thought in this simple and quite ordinary baby-accomplishment. We have all passed this lesson. We have all somehow figured out how to get our limbs to cooperate in order to move our bodies from one place to another. 

But I am thinking about the crowd of four grown-ups who witnessed this daunting task last Sunday afternoon. His mommy and daddy and grandpa and grandma were all perched near by, watching the spectacle. We all wanted to reach out and help him. I wanted to move the rattle closer. Mommy wanted to put her hands in front of him so we would not have to see a face-plant. Daddy was on the floor next to his baby son ready to help. Grandpa was on a couch cracking up and grinning from ear to ear. 

We did help him. Our voices and presence helped him know that he was not alone and that he could do this thing. And honestly, we would have cheered no matter how the task ended. Baby Max was surrounded by people who loved him no matter what. If he had given up and decided to inch-worm his way to the rattle we would not have turned our backs away in shame. We would not have been disappointed in him one tiny little bit. 

You may know where I am going with this, but I can't help it. I am wondering why we think that God, our Father turns away from us when we fail to reach a goal or we make a bad choice? The Bible says that God loves us better than an earthly father. His love is not based on unfulfilled expectations or His reputation. His love is deeper and truer than even a great parent can give. 

God is actively cheering us on, as we figure out this life on earth. He is watching on the edge of His seat wanting to assist but knowing that we learn best by just doing it. His arms are ready to catch us and maybe prevent a face-plant or two. But sometimes they just have to happen so we know what not to do next time. 

As I watched my grandson learn how to crawl and even start working on pulling himself up to standing already, my heart was so full. I was enthralled with this little person who has so much hard work ahead of him, but so much joy and adventure too. I was reminded of that first glimpse of Yosemite Falls through a car window, and how it took my breath away. How it convinced me once again that God is near, and that I could hear His voice cheering us on. 

"That you may have the power and be strong to apprehend and grasp with all the saints [God's devoted people, the experience of that love] what is the breadth and length and height and depth [of it]; (His love)

19 [That you may really come] to know [practically, through experience for yourselves] the love of Christ, which far surpasses mere knowledge [without experience]; that you may be filled [through all your being] unto all the fullness of God [may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself]!" 
Ephesians 3:18,19 Amplified 

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Missing Mom

Tomato & Basil Chicken I made last week! So so good! 

I want to tell my mom how Baby Max tried to use my long necklaces as a rope to climb up to a standing position on my lap last Sunday afternoon. 

I want Mom to know that right now it is a sunny and warm April day and I am listening to a waterfall in my own backyard!! My very own waterfall. 

I want to show Mom my writing desk in our study. She would totally love it.

I want my mom to see what an amazing daddy her grandson is. 

I want some of Mom's cinnamon rolls this morning.

I'd love to see Mom's surprise at how much I am cooking these days and that I am beginning to like it...a little bit.

I wish my mom could walk through my new house. I know she would point out the bad bits, but she would like it I think.  

I want to go back in time and call Mom more often. I probably wouldn't roll my eyes so much now.

I have questions that she probably could not answer. But it would be nice to ask them anyway. 

I want to tell her that I get it now. I understand some of her crazy-grandma antics. I would be a little less grumbly about them now. 

Even a grandma needs her mom sometimes. 

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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Easter In A Small Church | Random JournaL Day

No, it wasn't super pretty, but we loved it completely. 

My RANDOM JOURNAL DAY offering for this Easter weekend is a look back to a normal Easter while the Hubs and I were pastors of a small church for 10 years. My journal captured the happy and busy season of our lives….

I love Easter and all that it stands for. As the leaders of a small town church, Hubs and I decided that Easter should be as wonderful and full of life as Christmas, so we planned many special things for that one day each year. Our town, offered an Easter Sunrise Service where all the churches in town that could agree on at least one thing, got together to greet the rising sun with songs, scriptures and freezing people in the local park. So our church happily took part in the planning and organizing of this once-a-year gathering.

That meant I was dragging my two boys out of their cozy beds at crazy-dark-o'clock and bundling them up to go stand in wet, soggy grass for an hour. When I use the word “dragging”, it is quite literal. Imagine two little boys who woke up to find big baskets full of candy at the foot of their beds…lots of crying and dragging took place!

After the sunrise service I got my kiddos back home and packed up to return to the church for the annual Pancake Breakfast before the actual Easter Service began. In between each of these jaunts my boys are running back to their sweet-filled Easter baskets. The sugar rush is beginning to catch up with them, it will manifest itself later on when the real service is about to begin and the whole church is very quiet.

So, there I am, all dressed up and working in a tiny old-fashioned kitchen with an ugly apron over my pretty new spring dress as we pile pancakes on plates. Some of the men in the church were pretty talented in “pancake ministry”. The boys are now sliding out of my sight whenever possible to do who knows what on the blackboards of the Sunday School classrooms.

The fellowship hall of our little church was packed to over-flowing (literally) with happy, dressed-up families and many families who only came to church on this one Sunday each year. Our little church was excited to hit the 100 mark one day each year. It was loud, fun and full of life, I loved it!

Towards the end of the breakfast time I would sneak into the crowd and quietly gather the teen-agers to put them to work hiding plastic-candy-filled Easter eggs all over the church lawns. A few of the ladies in the church and I had spent several hours earlier in the week stuffing these eggs with non-melting, paper wrapped candies. While the grown-ups were eating the breakfast, we also somehow managed to get the little ones to decorate pastel colored paper lunch sacks for collecting their Easter eggs.

Rocker Son is showing signs of a sugar-high...

Keep in mind that during all this activity, Hubs and I are also being the gracious and inviting hosts to new people who were being brought up to us for introductions all morning. Because we were a small church, I had my hands in on every single activity. The beginning moments of the actual Easter Service were my first chance to sit down all morning and even though it was not easy to keep a couple of sugar-wired boys in control, it was beautiful to sit down for a bit. For some reason we had decided that it was important for the kids to be in the service instead of going out to the kids service on that day. Of course it was probably ME that made that decision because I was the Kids Church Director too! As I write this I have absolutely no idea how I did so much!

We had wonderful Easter afternoons with my parents and siblings who lived an hour away. After church we changed into more comfy clothes and packed ourselves into the mini-van.... hmm, I need to interrupt myself there and correct that statement. I changed into comfy clothes, but KEPT the boys in their nice outfits (such as they were by that point) so that Grandma could see how cute they looked. I let them change after Grandma got her pictures taken.

We got to watch the boys and their cousins do another egg hunt in Grandmas' yard and sit down to an amazing meal with tons of laughter and teasing. The drive home late that night would be a very quiet one as the boys snoozed with candy wrappers and plastic green grass in their hands.

As I read this bit of our history, it is hard to see where the beauty and contemplative aspect of Easter could fit. But it did. I remember catching moments of wonder and thankfulness in the middle of the chaos. We can sense the presence of God anywhere if we are looking for Him. He is there. He is here. He is with you this Easter. Stop and breathe. Whisper a “thank you” and remember why we get to eat a big meal and gather together.

...Click here to read other Random Journal blog posts.

Post Script Update: I hit "Publish" on this an hour ago and something has been nagging at me ever since. This post does not include the many wonderful people we had around us who were ALSO working hard to create a great day for our community. We had very involved people in our church and we had a small staff that was AMAZING! 

BUT, I had a bit of a control-freak issue and I was not good at trusting others enough to delegate as any good leader must do. If I could send back some advice to my former self, it would be to relax more and allow others to step up. They want to and need to. It creates a happier and more fulfilled community! 
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Church Quest Resolved

Halfway home from the church service, tears began to flow. I was not even sure why. At home in my kitchen, stirring the soup for our lunch, the tears brimmed again and I had to slip away to my bedroom for a bit. Can your heart hurt before your mind understands why?

As I have been on a quest for “my church” in this new city, I thought that I was open to differing doctrines. Willing to try denominations I never would have considered in my former “church lady” days. I said that my only motive for finding a church in my new town was for friendship. Period. I was just hungry for community.

Nothing terrible happened. No huge doctrinal heresy was proclaimed. The people were happy, warm and enthusiastic. I met a fun lady that I hoped to get to know better. The leaders were delightful and sincere. And they gave me a cool coffee cup! This gathering of believers will be doing great things for God in this community. I KNOW this. But some ideas were spoken that hurt my heart. I did not gasp out loud. But my spirit flinched. My internal radar beeped. And I knew that I could not go back. Back to my former self. Pre-recovery. My freedom has been hard fought and it is a continual battle.

For freedom did Christ set us free; stand fast therefore, and be not entangled
again in a yoke of bondage. Galatians 5:1

The tears that appeared on my way home were evidence of my grief. I was back to square one and would have to figure out how to be a churchless believer. This went against everything I grew up believing. I asked Hubs if the beautiful freedom that we have tasted in God, had actually ruined us for church. His answer as always, “There must be another way.”

In the meantime, while waiting for that “other way”, we have found another group of believers in a church 25 minutes away that we will attend whenever we are able. But probably not every Sunday. We are going to be that couple that I would have worried about when I was a strict church lady. The couple that couldn’t be counted on to work in the church nursery when I was a stress-filled pastor’s wife. The people that will not attend committee meetings or volunteer to lead Bible studies. Those ones with “sporadic attendance.”

I will be one of “those” believers. And that’s okay.

We attended the “25 minutes away” church for the first time last Sunday. I had written it off my list because of the driving distance. (I still hate and fear the TX freeway system.) But we will go when Hubs is not working. Last Sunday I stood and sang my heart out as my eyes kept happily glancing at Hubs holding our grandson, with our son and daughter-in-law on either side of us. Attending church with my family….what more could I want?

My heart is happy. Since the church is nearer the kid’s home, we went out to lunch with them following the service and had a great time together. Maybe a new family tradition is being born!! Happy Grandma!!

Remember when I said that my main motive for the church quest was friendship in the first place? God has started to answer that prayer of my heart. I messaged D, the fun lady from the other church, and asked if we could still be friends even if I decided not to attend her church and she said, “Absolutely! How soon can we go out for coffee?”  We met in a near by restaurant and drank coffee for hours while laughing and comparing the crazy ups and downs of our walks with God. (Oops D, I forgot to warn you that friendship with a blogger could mean you’ll find yourself on the Internets. Hope that’s not a deal-breaker.)

God lives in the heart of the believer. I know He is in me. I also know the lessons He has taught me about Himself, and those truths have shaped who I am and who I hope to be. He has set me free from self-condemnation and man-made judgments about sin and righteousness. My freedom is an ongoing battle. I will probably always be a little bit over sensitive to reminders of the religious, overly strict ways of my church lady days. That’s why this blog is called “Recovering Church Lady”. I am still in the “ing” part of recovery.

I am so thankful to have found our community. Maybe I have been in too much of a hurry. It takes time to build relationship. But it is happening and I may not have to stand on the corner with a sandwich board asking for friends.

John 8:36
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

2 Corinthians 3:17
Now the Lord is Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Like A Dog With a Bone

This dog. Just look at her life. She literally has it made. What more could any sensible canine wish for? 

 In spite of the occasional removal from the prime yard chair by her human, Miss Layla could not be happier and more content...

 ..Or could she? How about adding a super gross and delicious bone to the picture? Now THAT has got to be the most satisfied and happy dog.

After several sunny days by the pool, today we had rain and sudden claps of thunder and very CLOSE cracks of lightening. Here she is begging to bring that awful thing into the house. I made her drop it and leave it on the porch, then she came in and looked at it through the glass door and begged to go out.

Life is just so hard for a dog. 
P.S. Enjoy these pics while they last because I am not too happy with this critter today. Tempted to simply leave the front door open one of these days.
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bringing Our Past Into Our Present

I have been learning a lot about new beginnings and starting over in recent months. Letting go of old ideas, thoughts and beliefs. And figuring out which new ideas, thoughts and beliefs are worth embracing.

Sometimes pulling some beauty from our past into our present can create a wonderful future. Please join me in a little example of this today as I write over at 5 MINUTES FOR FAITH today. READ MORE HERE. 

Listen to another song by my friend Bob Book whose music I was listening to while writing this post.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

RJD | I Almost Chickened Out of This One

This recovering church lady did a really dumb thing today. I randomly opened a journal for Random Journal Day and found myself reading these words...

"You are MY woman of God." I thanked Him for saying that to me tonight and I mulled it over. 

It was a beautiful thing to hear from Him, humbling and encouraging.
But not enough, (arrogant much?) so I asked, "If that is true, why don't I FEEL  strong and full of authority? Please will you anoint me and imbue (church lady language, Haha!) me with power to minister to others?" 

God answered , "It is not you or your authority that ministers to people, it is Me and My authority. You must only trust that you are My woman of God." 

This conversation was overwhelming and humbling. I cried and cried and tried to hear anything more He would say to me." 

Opening my journal was not the dumb thing that I did. That came next. I googled this question..."Does God speak to people today?"

Why did I do that? Because I am afraid of making waves, causing controversy or inviting ridicule...mostly that last one I think. I already know the answer from my own experience. I recognize that quiet voice in my head and my heart. I know when the words I am "hearing" are not my own. It is a humbling and delightful thing. 

The google list was scary, depressing and kind of awful. A summarization would be: After all, if we accept that anyone can hear from God in this day and age, it will lead to leaders of mass suicides, terrorists and murderers who all say that "God told them" to do it. 

So I hesitated and considered choosing a different journal page to write about. BUT, I have not changed my mind about the subject at all. I have dropped a lot of my old stuff from my church lady days. These would include being judgmental of others and a goofy fear of sinning accidentally. 

Still, one of the beliefs that I have NOT dropped is that God is still talking to people today. He has spoken to me more than once...The first BIG ONE was while I was reading an abusive letter from a boyfriend. I "heard" God say, "You do not deserve this treatment." I KNEW immediately that this thought was not my own because I did not believe that about myself at all.  I broke off my engagement to that boyfriend that night. Only the voice of God could have opened my eyes to that negative relationship. 

It had to be God. 

We cannot allow the majority to decide our beliefs. Going to google helped me know what is being said by others, but the majority can be wrong. We must walk our own truth. While I am open to new thoughts, opinions and views, I also must be strong enough to stand by what I have figured out for myself. 

I have to trust  that I know what I know. That I heard what I heard and felt what I felt. 

So... I have not even touched on the awesome message that He gave me that day. That I do not have to FEEL strong to BE strong. That we can carry His power and authority by simply trusting that we are His. That YOU are His. How cool is that? 

Enjoyed my first time living in snow! Kinda magical!

This was Layla's preferred view of the white stuff. 


Sadly, I don't think Irving is going to make it after all. :( 
Random Journal Day Link-Up!
Now hop on over to the Random Journal Day Link Up to read other journal-keepers secret thoughts. So fun!
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Monday, March 2, 2015

Odd Texas Winter for this California Transplant

Layla trying to figure out this white stuff all over the place.

The snow we are surrounded with these last several days is a total surprise to me.
I knew there may be dustings that melted before the day was over, but piles of snow
and dangerous streets are all new to this California Girl!

The ICE DAYS were new to both of us! The solid plate of ice POPPED loudly
 as Layla walked across it...totally freaked her out! We could see the melted water
underneath the ice layer. So weird!

How does it taste Layla?

Poor little yellow truck! 

The Hubs was transferred to a closer job the week before this craziness happened.
So thankful that he no longer has to be part of the freeway madness. 

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Church Search | What Did I Get Us Into?

"Well, this is awkward." I whispered to Hubs. 

It was my second visit and his first, to one of the local churches I discovered while searching for... something. Community, people, friends, a social life beyond my dog. ( Read about my church search here and here.)

I had visited this church the Sunday before, during their "Grand Opening" as they celebrated moving into a new (to them), beautiful building after many years of borrowing space to gather together. It was packed and pulsating with high energy and enthusiasm. The mayor was there, several local pastors were there to encourage and support the new adventure. I'd had a hard time finding a seat.

But this Sunday we were in a nearly empty sanctuary with rows and rows of empty chairs between us and the vigorous band on the platform. What had I gotten us into?

This was the second service of the day. Had the first been as empty as this? Poor pastors, I felt bad for them. I also wondered how we could leave without being too obvious. (Told you I was a hypocrite.) 

I followed the unfamiliar song lyrics on the hanging monitors and found myself clapping along with the worship leader in order to encourage them that we could get through this. By the time the second song was over, the place was nearly full and we were surrounded by smiling people! Yay!

If you've been reading RCL for a while, you already know that I have been on a church search in recent weeks. We moved here 6 months ago but I was in no hurry to connect with a church...for several reasons. I am not part of the current trend of anti-churchers...but I totally understand and agree with a great deal of what I have been reading about the social shift away from organized church. 

This is where I feel a bit like a hypocrite. Saying one thing and doing the opposite is hypocritical, right? 

When Hubs and I finished Bible school and dreamed about a life of full-time ministry, we had a vague picture of doing "something other than TRADITIONAL CHURCH." We did not want to become part of the institutional church machine. We wanted a church "outside the four walls." I imagined a gathering of people who loved God and helped one another live out that love in creative ways that never became boring or predictable. 

That all sounds like the trending anti-church people of today... but this was our desire over 25 years ago! It is not a new idea. We knew then, and still feel, that there must be another way to serve God and love people. Something that did not slowly turn into fund raisers to pay for the electric bill for the church sanctuary. 

In all of my years of ministry within "the machine", the closest we came to seeing a reality of our dream was in two situations. While we were pastoring a small church, God began to do some incredible and exciting things among several of the people in our church and the neighboring congregation. A few began to come to our home every Tuesday night just to talk about and celebrate all the great things that were happening. Those nights were full of laughter, tears, prayer and deep friendship. There was no agenda other than "look what God did this week!"  

Our other experience with something that felt like "true church" was the 10 years we were overseers of a ministry school we had founded. Spending several hours a day with people who just wanted to know God better, whatever it took...was a completely fulfilling and worthy way to spend our life. 

Here's the thing...both of those scenarios were birthed within the walls of a church. They did not stay there, but they did begin there. 

Because the people that I am called to help, the people that I believe I am equipped to help are church people. You may be meant for something completely different. The message that I am pretty sure I am supposed to carry is about how much God loves all of us just as we are. Church people have a tendency to forget that simple truth as they fall into a habit of striving to earn the love that has already been given freely to all of us. (I do know that this is a message meant for those inside AND outside the church. This blog has been my doorway outside and I cherish that thought.) 

The truth is that a church is basically just a collection of people. And that means that no church will be perfect or equipped to fulfill all of our spiritual and social needs. It is NOT supposed to. One of my favorite bloggers said this simple but powerful statement in the middle of her post the other day.... "I no longer expect the church to do for me what only God can. That took a lot of pressure off." (Jen Hatmaker)

I touched on this subject way back here in a blog post titled, Praising God and Threatening My Kids... "Church is not meant for God encounters. At least not your MAIN God encounter of the week or your only source of communicating with Him. No one should see their hours in a sanctuary as the most impacting and life changing exchanges with their Creator....If we find ourselves depending on the Sunday service for our strength to get through another week, something is wrong."

I am ultimately responsible for my own relationship with God. A church of any flavor can help or hurt that...but the church is not responsible for it. That is why I have not been in a hurry or felt stress about joining a local church since our move to this state. God and I are good. We are close and I depend on Him even while grumbling to Him on a daily basis. He did not leave me when I stopped going to church every Sunday...much to my quiet surprise actually. 

This new church that I have stumbled on, thanks to a flyer they sent to my mailbox, may be my new church home. It feels like home to me, in a good way. My expectations are to get to know a few people and share life together. Find some new friends, simple as that. It all comes back to people and love and figuring out how to do that together. 

I volunteered to work at the near by library in order to get to know some people, but they did not need my help. I have chatted with a lady at the grocery store about how hard the avocados were...but a friendship did not blossom. I hope that God does not mind that I am going to a church simply because I want some relationships beyond my dog. I think He is okay with that. 

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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Month of LOVE Is Here!

February is here! Yay for February, the month of love and Valentines and listening to people rant about how Valentines Day is a market machine blah blah blah... I still love the month of love. That could be because it also includes my birthday and our wedding anniversary.

So for this month's contribution to " 5 Minutes for Faith "  , a wonderful place for reading uplifting and encouraging articles, I wrote about marrying an argumentative Jesus Freak 37 years ago. Picture a skinny little girl with long dark hair and bangs dealing with a long-haired know-it-all new believer who drives her nuts.

Read it here...
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Saturday, February 7, 2015

Little Did I Know | Random Journal Day Feb 2015

It's Random Journal Day again! I am part of a blog-link-up where several journal keepers "randomly" open up an old journal and use the page as inspiration for a new blog post. You do not have to quote what is found on your private journal page, just use it as a writing-prompt for a blog post. Get it? Super easy and I love reading what others have in their journals. Snoopy me...join us? Go HERE for more info and to add your link.

So today I opened an old journal to an entry from MARCH 13, 2006. This was before I started blogging in 2008. I had just read a book by Barbara Demarco-Barrett called "Pen On Fire" about writing. In her book, she challenged us to write an objective letter to ourselves about our desires to write. Here are a few excerpts from my letter to myself:

"Dear Susie,

I have heard that you are thinking about pursuing your old desire and hobby of writing, but you are feeling kind of silly and embarrassed about it. 
I am writing to encourage you, my friend, to go ahead and follow your heart's desire as far as it takes you. Don't worry about what others may think or say. .....

...What is it you, Susie truly want to do? What would make you a writer? You love newspapers and newspaper column writers. You like the idea of doing short, meaningful articles that readers look forward to each week, more than the idea of writing a book that may gather dust on someones shelf.  The idea that what you write is fresh and alive and thrown away the next day is great and exciting to you. ....Maybe it is time to send some query letters to the local papers....

...What if you were actually paid to write your thoughts? Could that really happen for you? 
Do you have anything to say? I think so.

Your intimate relationship with God can encourage and inspire others. Your words have the power to lift heavy burdens off of other Christians who do not believe that God loves them AS THEY ARE. So many out there are WORKING to earn God's love and you, Susie know that it is simply NOT necessary to work for the Father's smile. ...

Let's see, what else do you know? You know that God is fun and usually looking at us with a smile. Amazingly, many people do not know that at all. You also know how to recognize the enemy's voice and his lies and how to defeat him through worship. You love to worship and express your love for God and dispel  the strongholds of the enemy through worship....

Anyway Susie, I was only supposed to write to you for 15 minutes and I guess I got a bit carried away. My main point is that you should go for it. Go after the newspaper column jobs, all they can say is "No thanks." There are other ways to write all over the place. Do what sounds like fun, don't put heavy expectations on yourself, just play!" 

That letter to myself went on and on with the pros and cons of stepping out with my writing. My life was full of people all day long and I did not think that I would ever have time alone to write. I left the house by 7am every morning and my days were full of ministry, friends and family. I keep checking the date because it is hard to believe how very different my day-to-day life is now...only 9 years later.

I am smiling at the bits about writing short, meaningful articles.....My only picture of that was a newspaper column. I knew nothing about blogs or blogging at that time. I think I created my very first blog in 2008.  So here I am writing short articles/blog posts that are sometimes full of meaning and sometimes not so much. But that is fine...I am having fun!

It is encouraging to see that my main goal and vision for writing has remained the same; To send out the message That you, Dear Reader are LOVED BY GOD JUST AS YOU ARE. That He is smiling at you. At the you of today...not the future you or the potential you...God is loving the TODAY YOU. ...So you might as well finish reading this blog post and then take a deep breath and look up with a smile in return.
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Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Tarnished Beauty - Destined to be Together | Sounds Like a Romance Novel


I have been married A LOT of years. And all through those years I wandered through more garage sales, flea markets and antique stores than I can count. In fact, Hubs learned early on, that a slow walk through an antique store was the WAY to my heart, big time. 

Some time last night while I was doing my usual not-sleeping routine, I suddenly remembered the silver tea service that was in the back of one of our guest room closets. I KNEW it belonged on our recent craig's list table. 

We donated box after box of household items and a life-long collection of blue and white decorations before the big move. It seemed like the closer we got to the moving van showing up in the driveway, the more BRUTAL we were about getting rid of stuff. 

Just did not want to pack it all, you know?

I had pulled the silver tea set out of the thrift store donation box at the last minute. It was dusty and had been hidden away on a closet shelf for over 15 years I think. I cannot even remember where we bought it in the first place. It must have grabbed my fancy at a garage sale or church rummage sale along the way. I do recall spending $8 for it though. 

Last night I randomly pictured it sitting on our table in the dining room. So weird. 

But those CURVES are just totally PERFECT together. Are they from the same era? No idea. Don't care.

I am sitting here just being thankful that some dusty, tarnished (I LIKE it that way.) bits of metal seem to have been destined for this table and this house and this state. This time in my life. 

So. Much. Is. Fitting together right now...kinda weird...and sweet. 
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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Church Quest | Part 2

I bounced along the road in my little yellow truck and asked myself what in the world I was doing. Why am I going to a strange church all alone? Do I really want to go sit and listen to some guy talk at me for an hour? Am I so desperate for community that I will purposely put myself into a situation that requires small talk with strangers?

Umm, yep.

As I was passing the post office I considered using it's parking lot to turn around and go back home to my comfy couch. No one would ever know. No one at the church expected me or needed me to fulfill a job or Sunday morning task. Why was I doing this to myself?

It is scary to go to a new church by yourself. Hey, it is scary to go to a new church even if you are NOT by yourself!

I have no agenda regarding church denomination at this point. I will go to any flavor of church if they love God and love people. I am doing this to myself because I want to live my life along side other people. I am not a loner. I am a grouper.

But this is hard.

There is a big sign at the entrance to the busy church parking lot…


What? You want me to stand out and be noticed before I even park my truck? Umm no thanks…I want to blend…I want to observe unobserved. Thank you very much.

It did take a while to figure out where I was supposed to park. Probably would have been helpful to turn on my lights and be directed to the visitor parking section nearest the front doors after all. Sigh.

The Greeter at the front door was warm and welcoming, handing me the Sunday Bulletin and opening the glass door for me. The entryway is pretty and I wanted to stop and read the huge wall mural that described the history of the church, but I moved on into the sanctuary where I heard music because I knew I was a little late for the service.

It took a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness just inside the double doors. Many churches keep the lights low during the musical worship portion of the service and I understand some of the reasoning, but now I am stuck near the door because I am not familiar enough with the building to find my way any farther in. (I don't like the dark sanctuary thing, but it's not a deal-breaker on this "blind" date....See what I did there? Hehe.) I ended up staying in a seat next to the entrance door because the place was packed, as far as I could tell.

I enjoyed the message and the personable pastor. My eyes were drawn to the clever backdrop behind the pastor. On a black wall they had placed white triangles and rectangles, all fitting together like a beautiful mosaic. In the center
was a space left without the white pieces, and it created the shape of a cross. I love the simplicity of such artwork.

It turns out that the name of their coffee shop is MOSAIC and diversity is one of the churches’ important values. According to the historic mural, this Texas church was one of the first to be integrated and refuse to reject anyone of any race to attend. The candid photos on their website were multi-ethnic and multi-generational, this is what made me want to visit. Many of the churches around me are all one color and that just feels creepy.

At the end of the service I exited the sanctuary and opened the door to a crowd of older ladies staring at me. I obviously must have looked a bit surprised to open the door to such a gang, because a voice from the group said, “We must be a pretty scary sight to face the first time!” I love that someone in the group had the great sense of humor enough to say that. I smiled back at them and got out of the way of others leaving the sanctuary behind me.

This is the second church I have visited so far and I may go back. I could see myself here. The first church I visited a few weeks ago is a pretty place very close to my house and I’d been curious about it ever since we moved in. The pastor is a lively lady who won my heart immediately. But the congregation was …I don’t know…just so quiet and sad and old. Call me a hypocrite and shallow, but I am trolling churches for new friends. I know it is wrong to judge groups of people like this, but what else can I do? Set up interviews? Stand outside the churches with a sandwich board reading, “Please be my friend”?

I have so many thoughts and questions regarding church life... yay or nay. A Looong history of AVID church involvement has brought me to a brand new experience...choosing my new community. And even deciding that I do need one after all, is a crazy development in recent months. 

As I am reading over these first two posts about my church quest, I am a little concerned that you may think I am just clinically looking for a new club to join without regard to the spiritual aspect. I hasten to add that God and I are on this journey together. We talk often and intimately. I get the feeling that He is watching me with a smile and He is not at all worried that I will pick the wrong church. He goes where I go, and I go where He it's all good. 

I am thinking that next Sunday I may go see the storefront church that I talked about in Part 1 of this little adventure. I’ll let you know how that goes. 

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