>> January 30, 2016

I thought I would post a short story I wrote about 7 years ago.I re-worked it a little bit. A few special true life memories of my grandfather are mixed in with this piece of fiction. I hope you enjoy it. 

I spun and watched myself in the mirror. I like my new dress. Mom let me choose what I wanted. It’s yellow with a border of pink flowers and tiny green leaves along the hem-line. I especially like the shiny satin sash Mom ties into a perfect bow in the back. It makes my tan look dark and the gold flecks in my hazel eyes sparkle when I wear it. I think Grandpa will like it.

I stick out among my family in the front row of the church. Everyone else is dressed in dull dark colors. My feet don’t quite touch the ground, so I swing my legs back and forth, admiring my new sandals on the upswing.

People are sad and I hear a lot of nose blowing goin’ on. We sang hymns. I don’t know why, it’s not Sunday. Some old people stand and take turns saying nice things about my grandpa. They tell funny stories and remind us what a hard worker he was.

Grandpa lived in a muckledunberry world ‘cuz he was colorblind. Mostly all he saw were different shades of yellowy-browns. That’s why he called it muckledunberry.

Sometimes I’d sit on his lap while he watched baseball. I’d ask him, “Grandpa, what color are my eyes?”

He’d say, “Muckledunberry.”  Then he’d steal my nose. I’d just giggle even though I was getting too old for that joke.

On the way to town, he always stopped at the single blinking yellow light at the bottom of the hill. I’d say, “You can keep going, Grandpa, its yellow. Blinking yellow means go very carefully."

“All lights look the same to me, Sweetie. I have to stop at all of them just to be sure.”

I gave up. I couldn’t convince him to roll on through the intersection.

Last year Grandpa got sick. Mom said he got cancer in his pancreas. I don't know what a pancreas is but I know cancer is bad. She said I can’t climb around on his lap anymore, ‘cuz it probably hurts him, but Grandpa would never tell me that. I’d sit at his feet and lean my back against his chair. He’d pat my head and run his fingers through my summer blonde hair. Sometimes, he’d scoot over and let me sit in the chair with him and we’d cuddle. I’d always be real careful. He sure got quiet after he caught cancer.

After a few months, I noticed his skin started looking sort of yellowy. Not too long after that his eyeballs weren’t white anymore. They were sad and matched the color of his skin. He tried to smile, but I knew he didn’t feel like smilin’ too much.

When I realized how sick Grandpa was I asked Mom, “Does grandpa know his eyes are yellow now, bein’ he’s color blind and all?” Mom said she didn’t know but told me not to ask him.

Pastor asked if anyone else wanted to say something. I raised my hand and waited to be called on like in school. He told me I could stand up by him so everybody could see me. 

“My grandpa was color blind. He couldn’t tell what color tomatoes or watermelons were. He didn’t know when his grass needed watered or that I have gold flecks in my eyes. He said most colors blended together into one brownish-yellow mess. Muckledunberry is what he called it. That’s not a real color. Not even in the biggest box of crayons, you won’t find a muckledunberry.” Everyone laughed when I said that.

“I picked this dress at the store to wear special for today. It’s bright yellow, not muckledunberry like he’s use to.” I pulled the hem of my dress up a little bit and pointed at the flowers. “It has pink and green in it and Mom said it makes the gold flecks in my eyes sparkle.”

 “I learned in Sunday School that when we go to heaven we aren’t sick no more. That means Grandpa’s cancer is all gone now. So, I think his colorblindness is gone, too. Today Grandpa is walking on the streets of gold. I think that’s pretty cool.”

Mom sniffed and blew her nose and then she winked at me.

 “I chose this dress so Grandpa can look down from heaven and see me in full color.” I spun around to show off my dress and people giggled. “And now,” I looked up at Pastor and smiled big, “he knows what color my eyes really are.”


Stay Just As You Are?

>> January 21, 2016

Years ago, I used to drive by a church sign that always had the same phrase on it: COME AS YOU ARE. I suppose it may have been taken from the mid 90’s praise chorus Come Just As You Are, but today I pondered the phrase. I even wondered if they still had the same phrase on their reader board since the mid 90’s.

Sunday, during the preservice prayer time, the Lord gave me a word to share prior to leading worship. I quickly jotted it down and read it to our congregation in obedience. Today, I used what the Lord whispered to me and expanded on it to write a short poem. 

(Disclaimer: I do not consider myself to be a "poet".)

Come just as you are
Accepted with all your scars
Come hungry and hurting
Leave satisfied and whole
Come lost and longing
Leave with peace in your soul

Come angry and confused
Leave with all tensions diffused
Come weak and weary
Leave bolstered and cheery
Come as a seeker of things above
Leave with a heart filled with hope and love

Come; bring your lifestyle of despair
Spend time on your knees in warfare
Come and meet with Jesus
For He is the One who can free us
Come just as you are, indeed
 But leave as a new creation, set free

You see, Jesus loves you just as you are. This is true. But we need to understand that we can’t truly live for Jesus and stay in that “just as you are” condition. He loves us enough to help us grow beyond our “just as you are” mindset. 

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation: Old things have passed away; behold, all things are become new.” 2 Corinthians 5:17

Almost three decades have passed since I first saw this phrase on that church reader board and it is still there today. I hope and pray that over the years as people enter through their church doors just as they are that they have left  a little bit different every week. 

And I pray that for our church as well.



>> January 14, 2016

I'm not a New Year's resolution maker. At least not publicly. I think it is the fear of failure that stops me from blurting out any resolutions. Besides, I take more of a hopes and goals angle at the beginning of the year than the popular resolution route.

I mean seriously...everyone wants to lose the terrible ten that tends to stick to our hips and thighs when the happy holidays are said and done. We want to read the Bible more, cut our caffeine intake (well not me..just sayin'), eliminate sugar, exercise more, devote more and digress less.

We want the new year to mean something. To matter more. To hold hope that somehow it will be better than the year we just said good-bye to.

My son, Jacob (now 28 yrs old)
sporting a Seahawks shirt in the 80's.
Yup..I'm a REAL fan.
Anybody that knows me even a little bit, knows that I'm a big Seahawks fan. I have been for years. If you watch ANY football at all, Russell Wilson is no stranger to you. One of the things about the man behind the #3 jersey is his positive attitude. He always focuses on a perky catch phrase to motivate himself. Last year his mantra was No Time to Sleep and this year's has been What's Next? He drills these into his head and heart and all across social media the hashtag phenomenon picks them up.

There's power in drilling a simple positive thought into our heart and mind. Because of Russell Wilson's catchy sayings, for my diet/fitness goal I've begun to tell myself: Work harder. Eat smarter.

As a pastor's wife, women in our church look to me for leadership. If I am floundering along in life without goals or purpose, it will have a ripple affect on the people I minister to. That's a lot of pressure! So to sum up my 2016 goals and thoughts, I've decided to go with a hugs and kisses method.

To start, I need to HUG by remaining Humble Unto God. (See what I did there? Yeah...I'm awesome like that. :P) Basically, if I can keep from being stuck on trying to do things in my own strength, and humbly let God direct me, that's a great way to operate in 2016.

Second, is the familiar KISS acronym: Keep It Simple Sister. I'm a woman. (duh) And women have a tendency to make things complicated. So my take on this KISS, is to follow my gut instinct and not overthink everything.

My next HUG is to live each and every day with Heartfelt Uber Gratitude. It can be too easy to put on that fake smile, phony concern or give the expected reaction while someone is talking to me. But if I intentionally live my life with Heartfelt Uber Gratitude, genuine care and concern will bubble out of me like a wellspring of pure joy.

My final KISS comes directly from watching the movie War Room: Kneeling Intentionally Saves Souls. We live in a tiny rental home and our closet space is less than desirable...way less. There is no way I can clean out a closet to make a War Room, but I can still post sticky notes on a wall-space and kneel intentionally to do some battle for the souls God places on my uberly grateful heart.

Recently I told someone that I only had one goal for be more structured. Being more structured will fix all my other issues (at least I hope so). I truly am ADD so being organized is rough stuff for me. Anyone else feel my pain? So how can I be more structured? Well... Ima gonna give it a humongous hugs and kisses effort.

Humble             Keep         Heartfelt          Kneeling
Unto                  It               Uber                  Intentionally
God                   Simple      Gratitude          Saves
                           Sister                                   Souls

Here's to a New Year!


B-man...Superhero Sidekick

>> October 29, 2015

Every superhero needs a sidekick and that's exactly how I see Joseph, the Levite from Cyprus, A.K.A. (every sidekick should have an A.K.A. right?) Barnabas.  I mean seriously... the B-man had some major sidekickish skillz: Compassionate, encourager, mediator, mentor, companion, just to name a few.

I've completed a detailed study from the book of Acts* and  noticed how the main characters shine like a lighthouse on a stormy night in the age of the early church. Peter and Paul may be the famous Superheroes, but my man Barnabas, stands out in so many ways that I can't help but think... when I grow up, I want to be just like him.

Let me explain...

On the infamous day of the mighty wind and tongues of fire experience in the 2nd Chapter of Acts (now referred to as The Day of Pentecost), Superhero Peter led 3,000 people to Christ. Ka-Boom! We have an instant mega church! Now when
there is explosive growth like that it can create its own breed of problems. And just like any ministry in today's day and age, money is always a functioning need. Granted, they didn't have Public Utility bills, publicity or printing expenses. Nor did they have janitors, secretaries, youth pastors and worship leader salaries to pay, but they still needed to feed and shelter themselves.

Acts 2:44-47 tells us that all the believers were together, selling their "stuff" and providing for everyone's needs. They ate meals together, visited from house to house, and praised God for His favor among the people. The church grew and our sidekick B-man, among others, sold his land and brought the money to the disciples and gave it freely for the use of the church.

As with every good Superhero story, there is gonna be a villain or two. In chapter 8 of the book of Acts, in walks the early church's villain, Saul. (boooo!)

Acts 8:3 "As for Saul (booo) he made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men AND women, committing them to prison." 
But God had a plan to turn our villain into a Superhero for Him. You can read that in the 9th chapter where Saul has the famous blinded by the Light experience which sets him on a different path and eventually his name is changed to Paul. The point I want to bring out in chapter 9 is where our sidekick steps up and convinces the other Superheroes that Saul is a legit Christ follower: he was baptized in water, began preaching, teaching and everything!
Acts 9:10 "But Barnabas (Yay!) took him (Saul) and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he (Saul) had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus."
Later in Acts 11 we find the Apostles trust the character of their sidekick enough to send him to investigate some strange thing happening...uncircumcised Gentiles were becoming Christ-followers. *GASP* B-man discovers it was an awesome thing happening in Antioch and he encourages them to continue on with the Lord. He reports back to the Apostles before he goes in search of Saul to co-pastor with him in Antioch for a year.

So, now we have Saul and Barnabas teaming up. Saul, the stronger personality, tends to step up as the superhero and B-man willingly serves as the sidekick. They take a missionary journey and include a relative of Barnabas named John Mark. Somewhere along the way John Mark goes back to Jerusalem. (Acts 13:13) But later, when the duo is sent out on another missionary venture, Barnabas wants to include John Mark again. Saul...(also called Paul for the first time in chapter 13) wants nothing to do with that plan.

This is where we see a great transition for our faithful sidekick. He now becomes a mighty mentor, elevating him, (in my view) to the status of a superhero. He chooses young John Mark as his new sidekick and Paul selects Silas and off they go, each pair their own way.

There may have been conflict between Barnabas and Paul over the worthiness or faithfulness of the younger man due to his previous actions, but the outcome is God ordained. The work of the Lord is multiplied as the two pairs head off in different directions, preaching the same message: The good news of Christ the Messiah.

Every superhero needs a sidekick. Everyone needs a Barnabas in his/her life. Someone who will see the best in us. Encourage us. Be a companion. A mentor. Be a co-laborer for Christ. Do you have a Barnabas that speaks into your life? Or maybe you have the B-man skillz I long so much to exemplify.

Whether you are the superhero or the sidekick, I encourage you to be active in the work of the Lord in your local congregation and community. Perhaps, like Barnabas with John Mark, there is someone you can invest into their lives by encouraging them towards success and help them to grow beyond their past failures.

Be a Superhero for Jesus!

* This was written to fulfill a requirement for a study I am doing on the book of Acts.

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