Sunday, June 17, 2012

Ode to Dad


I actually wrote this a few years ago, but somehow it seems appropriate to re-post it for Father's Day. I miss my Dad so much!

When I feel like complaining, I think of my dad. Not because he was a complainer – quite the opposite! My dad suffered physically for most of his adult life and yet I can’t recall a single time when I heard him complain. As I think about the way my dad lived, I am reminded to take my focus off myself and my own personal pain and put it back where it belongs – on Jesus. Dad lived every day as an example of Christ’s love. As we saw his funeral flooded with more flowers than the front of the church could hold and the floral arrangements spilling over into the aisles along each side of the church auditorium, it became clear that our dad’s life had touched nearly everyone in the little town where he lived his life. Dad had been the hands and feet of Jesus to the people God put in his path every day. He gave what he didn’t have and trusted God to make it up.

I have a vivid memory of the bum who spent his days sitting in front of my dad’s store. Many were the times when Dad filled up a bag of groceries from his shelves and sent it home with a man most people ignored. Everyone who came into Dad’s store needing food left with that need met, whether they could pay or not. Each person was greeted with a smile and a handshake. Dad's Bible often lay open on his desk in the customer service center where he held watch over his business. Dad was a true Christ-follower in both word and deed.

As a child, I watched my father model self-sacrifice as he willingly gave of himself when he saw a need. He followed the example of Jesus as he showed a genuine love for people, even those others might not consider worthy. The cut of a man’s clothing or the size of his bank account meant nothing to my dad. He taught me by his actions that I must learn to see each person through God’s eyes. My dad lived the truth of Proverbs 22:1, “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”

Dad continually trusted God to provide for both the physical needs as well as the emotional needs of our family. He worked hard even on days when he was in pain and knew that God would honor his commitment to provide for his family. By his example, he taught us to work hard and play hard and trust God to be faithful to His promises. Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” I learned from my dad that I never need to worry about my future. I grew up seeing God’s provision in my dad’s trust and have continued to see that provision to this very day.

Of course, as a typical human, I am often tempted to think I deserve more than I have or that my life is too hard. Sometimes I fall into self-pity and wonder why God does not intervene on my behalf. Sometimes I get frustrated with life and people and wonder why God doesn’t give me something better. It’s in those times of human failure that My Father reminds me of my father, and once again I understand that the life I live is not about me. Its about Him. Thanks, Dad, for teaching me that, and by the way, Happy Father’s Day! Can’t wait to see you when God calls me home.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Musing 30 Years


People often ask me if it’s hard being a pastor’s wife of a large church, and usually they are surprised if I don’t answer with a resounding, “yes!” After being asked this question a number of times, I sometimes am tempted to begin thinking that perhaps it IS hard. I start to focus on the many bumps in the road and the difficult circumstances that have come my way in a lifetime of serving God.  Then somehow, God finds a way to get me to take a look at the people around me. He gets me to thinking about where they were and where they are now. He reminds me of His life-changing power. I am humbled when I recognize that He took me serious when I offered to serve Him with my life. I am amazed to see the many ways he has worked in me and through me to make a difference for His Kingdom.

For instance, consider Terry and Cindy. When we first met them, they had been divorced, but were now remarried – to each other. They were in a neighborhood Bible study that we attended. As time passed their faith grew. He became part of the worship team at church. Some years later he joined the leadership of the church as an elder. Recently he gave up his secular job to join the church staff full-time as a neighborhood pastor.

As I look down the list of people who have given their lives to the ministry of CCV – I’m just talking about the ones who get paid, there’s a whole lot more who serve as lay leaders – I am so inspired and so convinced that just having the privilege of watching God change lives, and then watching those lives change other lives, makes any possible hardship of ministry so worth it.

Dustin was just a kid when we first met him. He came to the youth group and gave his life to Christ. He went to a Christian college and met Megan, who became his life partner in his call to ministry. He came back to CCV as a pastor, and together he and his wife mentor our youth to be all-in for Jesus.

We got to know Bill and Annette when they hosted our neighborhood Bible study. They were seeking to provide a strong foundation of faith for their family. They didn’t know the books of the Bible, but they knew that the Bible held the answers to the questions they had about God and about strengthening their marriage. Bill is now serving on our church staff after leaving a successful career in the marketplace. He brings his unique skills to the feet of Jesus and uses them to serve the church.

Sonny and Denise made their way from frills to faith, and have an exciting story of how God met them right where they were and taught them that making money cannot compare to making a difference. Sonny has also become a neighborhood pastor for our church and finds the fulfillment that can only come through following the call of God, no matter what the cost.

Larry and Sheila and Richard and Leslie are two couples who were founding members with us from the inception of CCV. Their faithful service to the church and to God has touched thousands of lives, not just in our valley, but around the world. Larrie left his secular career to serve full time at CCV and is now the leader of our missions outreach. He travels around the world, often with Sheila by his side, to encourage and assist missionaries who are changing lives in the places where God has placed them.  Richard and Leslie have ministered in nearly every conceivable way at CCV, all the way from administrative duties to teaching kids. It’s impossible to count the thousands of lives these two couples have touched with the message of God’s love.

I could keep going right down the roster of people who are now paid staff at CCV. They each have a unique story of how God took them from where they were to where He wanted them to be and taught them that there is no joy like the joy of seeing lives changed by a God who loves to work through and in people. Person to person – that’s how the love of God spreads. When I think of all the lives that have touched mine because of Jesus, I am overwhelmed, but of all the lives that have been touched by the love of Christ, those that move me most are the ones in my own family.

Thirty years is the difference between childhood and adulthood. Thirty years ago, when we started CCV, we had children. Today our children have children. In another thirty years, their children will have children. I have no doubt that many of our descendants will feel the call of God to minister full-time. I am convinced they will come to know that getting paid to watch the Savior change lives and know that in some small way, He used you to help make it happen, could never be a burden. No matter how hard the road is along the way, there is no greater joy than that of seeing someone find his or her true purpose in life – the purpose of knowing, loving and serving the one who created them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Why My Office is Messy


I decide to clean up my office. I begin by carrying a stack of books to my bedroom. When I get there, I realize I need to rearrange the bedroom table where I keep the books, so I do that before I return to my office.

Next I sort through some magazines and catalogs that I have been saving "just in case," throw a few of them away and carry the rest to the living room to add to the already huge pile that is stored there before I once again return to my office.

I consider a stack of antique textiles that belonged to my grandmother, and try to decide what to do with them. One piece in particular has some spots on it, so I decide I will try to clean the spots that have probably been there for 100 years. I leave the other things in a pile and take the spotted piece out to the laundry room and attempt to spot clean, then leave it to dry. I return to my office.

I find some tablecloths that I brought home from my mother's house and carry them to the kitchen, but can't put them away without cleaning and rearranging the cabinet where I keep the tablecloths, so I get that all done before I return to my office.

I see a broken necklace that I left there, thinking I could repair it someday, so I decide this is as good a day as any. Finally, I give up and take it to the kitchen, put it in a baggie and drop into my purse, so that someday if I remember, I can stop at a jewelers and have it repaired. I return to my office.

I find a stack of coupons that I've been collecting and decide to go online to see if there are any which have not expired. I throw away the expired ones and take the rest to the kitchen to drop them into my purse, just in case I happen to stop at any of the stores represented. I return to my office.

I find an empty cardboard box, which I had been saving, "just in case," and take it to the garage to save it there until my husband insists on throwing it away. I return to my office.

I find another necklace that I placed there because I found it in the guest room and don't know who it belongs to, so I decide to take it to my bedroom. Then I return to my office to send an email to some people to see if the necklace belongs to any of them, and decide I may as well check my email while I'm on the computer. Suddenly I remember that I haven't taken my medicine, so I go to the kitchen to do that, and decide to have a snack while I'm at it. I return to my office.

I try to read a letter from the Homeowner's Association and decide to just file it since I don't know what else to do with it. I see the piles of photographs that I have been sorting and decide to go to my bedroom and get some plastic bins to put them in. I return to my office and sort the photos into the bins.

I notice some cosmetics that I had ordered (hence the empty cardboard box) but never put them away so I go to put them in my bathroom. I return to my office.

I find some instruction books for the television, which I had in my office so I could look up something online that had to do with using the remote control, but had never returned them to the living room, so I go to put them away with all the other confusing instruction books for my audio visual equipment. I return to my office.

I find a tape measure that belongs in the kitchen so I take it there. I notice a pile of papers in the kitchen that belong in the office, so I pick them up to take back with me.

I decide to quit cleaning my office and play computer games.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Blink

Wow! Just looked at my blog site. I haven't written anything in a year! How can that be? Sometimes I think I will get neck strain watching my life speed by. My granddaughter turned 16 this year -- some part of me thinks I'm still sixteen, so that really blows my mind. What I thought I knew at sixteen, and what I know she doesn't know leaves a gap big enough for an elephant brigade to walk through. Sometimes life just puzzles me. When our bodies have the energy and the flexibility to accomplish great things, our fledgling wisdom often falls short of getting us there. And yet, by the time we have accumulated the wisdom for our great task, our body seems to call us to "rest awhile." In days gone by I tackled the challenge of each day with confidence that nothing would stand in my way of adding of a checkmark next to each item on my "To Do" list. Lately I find that one checkmark per day suffices to be a productive day! I find myself thinking more and more like the heroine of the epic movie, Gone With the Wind: "After all, tomorrow's another day..."

Since I'm on this subject, umm, let's see, that was the subject of...... oh, yes! The runaway train of my life, that's it! I have to say that when I look at myself in the mirror, yes, I see a person of some age -- grayer hair (okay, it's white), pudgy midsection (okay, beyond pudgy), snores sometimes (okay, most of the time), etc, etc, etc. You get the picture. (If you don't, you will. Just wait.) However, I wonder if my view of myself is somewhat skewed? Maybe I'm in denial, but I'll deny that if you say I am. Anyway, here's the thing that initiated this line of thinking. My great-uncle, who was a bachelor most of his life, became smitten in his old age with a beautifully saucy little woman, and nothing would do but that she would become his wife. It just so happens that little woman was my grandmother (on the other side of the family -- really! What were you thinking?). To put it more plainly, my mother's uncle decided to marry my father's mother at a time of life that most people would have thought romance was dead. At least, anyone under the age of 30 probably would. In my mind, I always pictured this couple's wedded bliss to have taken place in their late 70's or even perhaps early 80's. I never really thought much about it as a child because it happened before I was born. But lately I've been thinking about it, probably because I have embarked on the overwhelming task of documenting my family's history through photographs and stories that have been passed down through the years. One said photograph is a wedding photo of my great-uncle and his bride, my grandmother. They made a lovely couple, even in their elderly-ness. But alas! What's this! The date does not lie! They were married at the tender age of 63! Oh my! Why, "oh my", you ask? Well, because! Sixty-three is my age, and I am far from elderly, am I not? (Don't answer that!) Sigh.

And so you see, not much has changed since I was sixteen after all. I thought I was  grown-up then. I
think I'm young now. It seems that self-deception does not go down easily.