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Returning Home 2014

We just finished a month long trip back to the hometown.  It was delightful.  We had a lot of family time, took in a few plays at the Shakespeare Festival which is like Disneyland for theater nerds, and enjoyed the sites and smells of a very familiar setting.  In some ways it was difficult to come back to our new home.

People think that it’s crazy to think that we wouldn’t want to rush back to our island paradise.  The setting is gorgeous, we have a wonderful safe place to live, and we have some very special friends that have become our island ohana.  I think that it comes down to the fact that our hometown family is not here.  That support system that we’ve have come to rely on for decades is not easily accessible.  As our family grows older so does our realization that time is fleeting and is something that we cannot get back.  Modern technology makes it a little easier, but real Facetime is the best.

So how is our reentry going?  Pretty good. The first morning back started off with a long walk on the beach and ended with a great shrimp stirfry.  Both are great advantages of living in the middle of the ocean.  We are taking it one day at a time, and thanking God for every blessing of being here.

We are heading into the warmest time of the year.  Last year the youngest said, “The heat.  I can’t get away from the heat!”  The Mr. has put a lovely plan in place to help keep us cooler.  That is definitely making our reentry much easier.

Time to drop the youngest off with friends, and for another trip to the library to prep for my drama classes that start next week.

It’s Friday.  Ah, we made it.

I look out my window and there is a line of intermixed palm trees and monkey tail trees.  Beyond that line is a large cemetery.  It’s constantly busy.  If people aren’t having a service to bury a loved one, then they are sitting around a grave stone enjoying a picnic.  A few of the headstones are surrounded with solar lights, so at night it is very easy to see them from the road.

A few mornings a week my youngest and her pappy take a walk around the cemetery.  They go in search of life; ferrel cats and jungle fowl.  They have named certain ones, and are delighted when they see them.  They always come back with a great story, or a song that they made up as they were walking/running along.

We are still amazed at how the cats and chickens hang out together in the cemetery.  We almost didn’t believe the hubby the first time he came back from a walk across the street, but he has pictures!  Thank you smart phone.  There were clearly roosters strutting along side the cats, and momma hens leading lines of chicks right next to sleepy cats.  One day there was a bunny hopping along the path.  Wow, isn’t this what heaven is supposed to be like?  The lion sitting peacefully next to the lamb?

Two verses come to mind as I think on the seeming peace and tranquility of the cat and chicken hangout.

Romans 12:18 “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”  Hebrews 12:14 “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

At time these verses are challenging.  “Really?  Be at peace with EVERYONE?  ALL THE TIME?” or “Oy, Holy? That just takes too much effort,  I give up” may be the response that we want to give.  Ok, maybe it’s just me.  Look again at the first part of that verse.  “Make every effort” is what is says.  “Do your best” is how I read that.  Phew…I know that I’m not perfect, but so does God.  He wants me to try and do my best, knowing that I’m not going to be perfect until I see Him face to face.  Seriously, I feel like a weight it lifted off of my shoulders.

I will try my best to be at peace with everyone, and to strive to be holy.  I’m so thankful for the grace that God shows me when I fail and choose to pick up an offense that isn’t mine or just plain don’t want to forgive.  Thank you God for some silly cats and chickens that give us a fun reminder to live in peace.  Time for a walk across the street.

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The Go-To

Knowing what to share here on the blog is tricky. (I just took down a rather personal post.)  Some times I feel like it would be a really great place to pour my heart out; to see if anyone else feels the same way about things.  Being in ministry with a rather high-profile church makes that tricky.  I don’t want to put anyone’s reputation in jeopardy, and I certainly don’t want people to have any more fuel to add to the fire of the current climate if they take something that I say out of context.

Sometimes though, the burden that comes from being a pastor’s wife and worship leader (less of a worship leader these days) is heavy.  Recently I heard someone say, “Leadership is lonely.”  That is so true.  At times it’s difficult to not be offended by things people say about your husband or your ministry.  I hold on to offenses way longer than my husband.  That leads to isolation and discouragement.  It’s in those times that I know that I must spend time a deeper time with God.  For me that means extra time reading the bible, more time on my knees, and taking every thought captive.  I can easily follow a dark road if I don’t stay keep my thoughts account current.  It’s the only way to allow my Savior to carry the burden of ministry.

Today I grab a go-to verse to carry with me.  I know you’ve read it on my blog before.  It’s Philippians 4:4-9.  It’s in the NIV.  I appreciate how in verse 8 it addresses “brothers AND sisters.”

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

I recently stepped down from a position at our church.  I found that in moving here, and then moving again, and then homeschooling 5 days a week, and then working at the church on Saturday and Sunday along with all of the things associated with it during the week, pause for a breath, that I was not very healthy.  Physical issues that I’ve dealt with off and on for the past 20 years had reared their ugly head.  In the past I’d been able to push through them because I was also feeding my creative side.  Feeding the creative side tends to heal many ailments.

My hubby calls it “living in the sweet spot.”  We know that we can’t be there 100% of the time.  I used to live there a lot more than I have over the past couple of years.  The have-tos have far outweighed the want-tos, and that made things a little out of balance.  As I read that I have a picture in my head of a slightly bent bicycle tire that has a wobble as it turns but it doesn’t keep the bike from moving.  It’s just a slightly bumpier ride that tires out your arms from having to work harder to keep up right on the bike.  I’m exhausted from maneuvering an unbalanced life.

A couple of days ago I finished a book.  Freefall to Fly by Rebeka Lyons.  It was delightful.  It was written by a woman who picked up everything and moved her family to New York City.  They left everything that had known to step out on a great adventure.  Sound familiar?  She went through struggles that seem so instep with my own.  The one thing, besides the panic attacks to be saved for another post, that stands out the most is her search to discover her meaning in life.  She was starting over in every way.  That’s where I am.

At the end of this book the author asks some simple but specific questions.  The first one is, “What were my earliest dreams?”  It was a fun question to answer.  These are dreams I had between 2nd and 12th grade.  I came up with four.

  1. I wanted to be the next Gilda Radner or Carol Burnett.  I wanted to be on SNL.  (This was a dream of mine since I was in 2nd grade and I would sneak down to watch SNL.  A seat half way down the stair case gave me a great view of the TV.  I also watched Nightline with Ted Koppel this way too.)
  2. I wanted to own a shoe company.  I spent most of my 6th grade year designing shoes.  A few years later I saw people wearing the shoes I designed.  If only I had found some investors.
  3. I wanted to be the first female President of the United States or doing something is government.  Why not start with the big goal, right?
  4. I wanted to be a photographer and travel around the world telling stories through my pictures.

It was interesting to hear the hubby’s feedback as I read these to him.  I would say that three of the four still resonate with me.  I don’t feel the need to own a shoe company, but when the need arises I do enjoy designing and making a costume.  I’ll ponder the other three over the next couple of days.  There are a couple more questions that I need to anwer.  The idea is that you take these answers and mesh them together to figure out your meaning in life.  We’ll see what happens.

I moved across the ocean, and I forgot who I am.  I do know that I am a wife and mother.  That is a clear calling, and one that I am so honored to hold.  There is something outside of that.  There are deep passions and huge dreams that are lying just under the surface.  I’m the same adventurer that I was when I was 17.  I’ve been an artist since I could hold a pencil at two years old.  I have vivid dreams and visions; some of which I still remember from 4th grade.  All of these things are part of my DNA and I refuse to let them die even though I live in a culture that honors youth and building up the next generation.  I’m just becoming comfortable in my skin, and all the feedback is that I am too old to be cool.

It took a trip back to the hometown to remember who I am.  It took a book to dig a little deeper into who I dreamed I would be.  It’s gonna take a few more hours of prayer to see how those two things fit together.

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(S) John 10:40-42  40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.

(O) Jesus was teaching in Jerusalem when again He was asked to substantiate His claims the He was The Son Of God.  He explained that His miracles where from the hand of God.  He used scripture to back up His actions.  The leaders were not pleased and intended to kill Him.  Jesus slipped away and headed back to where it all started.  He headed back to the Jordan.  Jesus stayed there a while.  Even after his death,  John The Baptist’s words rang true to the people who followed him.  He set the stage for Jesus’ coming and, because he was such a trusted man, his follower’s believed these words in John 1, 29 “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 30 This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me.’ 31 I myself did not know Him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that He might be revealed to Israel.”  Thought Jesus never performed a miracle there, the people believed.  It had come full circle.

(A) John the Baptist answered the call that God placed on his life.  He could have taken advantage of the ears that heard and claimed to be the Messiah.  He could have amassed so many more followers.  He could have said what pleased the leaders and probably would have become a very rich man.  Instead he spoke truth.  He never claimed any thing more than this.  “23 John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’  24 Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”  26 ‘I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. 27 He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'”  John’s testimony did not change during his entire ministry.  His words rang true and his credibility stood firm.  He lost his life because of it.  He died having completed his call.

Am I doing what God has called me to, or am I spending my time doing everything else?  Do I speak words of truth that draw people to the person of Christ?

(P) Dear Lord,  Thank you for sending Your Son to die for us.  Thank you that we can come before You humbly and ask forgiveness because of the sacrifice of Jesus.  Please help me to see exactly what You want me to complete here on earth.  May my words and actions be ones of truth drawing people to the Grace of Your Son, Jesus.  Amen.

 

Journal In A Jar

Today’s paper strip question:  “What about your family makes you happy?  Share a moment where they made you happy.”

I struggle with the word “happy” because it is such a fleeting emotion.  I much prefer the word “joy” because it is something that grows deep roots, and is felt even in the most dire of circumstances.  Here is the new question.  I ask those of you reading to ponder it.

“What about your family brings you joy?  Share an example.”

I know without a doubt that I have an unusual family situation.  I have been married to the same man for 20 years.  We homeschool our kiddos.  We enjoy spending time together.  Our parents get along, and have never had a difficult time accepting each other as family.  We’ve enjoyed many holidays together.  I know that if I never have more than this that I will die completely satisfied.

One of the biggest sources of joy for me lies in the Yayas kitchens; both my momma and mom-in-law’s.  It’s truly is the hub of the house.  During those first years of homeschooling, the cousins and sis-in-laws gathered once a week around Yaya’s kitchen island.  We would cook or do a project.  The kiddos would end up in the playroom for down time and watch a video while the “grown-ups” ate lunch or sipped on tea.  Those were precious times.  When my brother moved to town to pastor a church he and my sis-in-law joined us in Yaya’s kitchen for Thanksgivings or Easter or for an evening together.  My nieces grew to know my sis-in-law and know that she cares for them.  My mom and Dad are called Aunty and Uncle by them.  These moments fill me with joy to overflowing, and I will cherish them forever.

 

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Today our pastor asked for our church to commit to 40 days of prayer. We are seeking wisdom about whether or not we should pursue “Plan A”, a permanent location with ample parking for our church.  We signed a commitment card agreeing to pray for this at least 5 minutes each day.  We are hanging the commitment cards up around the ministry center.  I’ve adapted my prayer this way, “Dear Lord, I pray for YOUR will to seen clearly by our leadership.  I pray for our hearts to lay humble before YOU, for revival, for YOUR people to genuinely seek YOUR face.”  These next 40 days are vital.  LORD, may YOUR Spirit move in ways that we never imagined.