A funny thing…

This cat looks just like the cat we had for years.

Life Journal: Release


John the Baptist had a few buddies complain that Jesus was baptizing people on the other side of the Jordan River.  I can only imagine the commiserating going on between John’s followers.  Jesus was honing in on their territory.  He was taking the attention away from his cousin John.  Maybe they weren’t invited to as many dinners, or maybe they had lost their favorite spot along the river.  Perhaps it was that they weren’t the first ones being asked the difficult questions anymore.  Whatever it was I think that it comes down to one basic thing; they were no long everyone’s first choice.

John’s response is what we would hope every great leader’s response to be.  He expresses great joy in the fact that he worked himself out of a job.He tried to explain it to his followers.  There are some jobs that requires one person to set the other person up for success.  God called him to prepare the way for the Messiah.  John did that, and now it was time to step down.  It was time for John to release.

Within the church we don’t always do a good job in the hand off.  We aren’t always told why positions change.  It may cause us to doubt our calling in the first place.  We question our relevancy.  We doubt our worth.  It sets us up for a poor transition where we may not rejoice when we hear our replacement coming.

At times over the last 20 years of ministry I have allowed my value get wrapped up in my work.  There was one particular section of time in my life where I was put in a position of authority that I had longed for.  I loved it everything about that season.  After about two years, things started to shift.  I had less authority as the leadership above me changed.  I didn’t understand why, and no one was giving me any input when I asked for it.  I found that I didn’t sleep well at night because I kept rehashing conversation after conversation and asking God what I had done wrong.  I assumed things.  I stopped living out Philippians 4:8-9, 8 “…whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”  I finally pulled it together after I just let everything go.  Every dream, every hope, every desire I had I just put on an “altar” before the LORD.  I stopped asking why I wasn’t allowed to serve as before.  I started asking God how He wanted me to serve.

From time to time I still deal with the pain in the loss of that ministry.  I miss the people who I worked.  I long for another season to serve in that way.  I believe that God will have another opportunity for me.  It’s all in His time.  I believe that my work now is all about the word “know.”  I must dig deeper into God’s word and allow for times of quiet so that I will hear God.  I must come to know God in away that I never have before.  In that process I allow Christ to become greater by understanding my position as a child of God.


Journal In A Jar

Last August a friend of mine gave me a going away gift.  After almost a year on the island, I feel like I’ve finally settled down enough to enjoy it.  Today I opened the jar and drew out my first writing prompt.   The purple slip says, “Describe one time when you were brave.”

It was during the Summer of ’89 that I met my best friend.  We actually met a month earlier in the lunch line of our college cafeteria, but I didn’t really get to know him until a few weeks later.  The camp director hired us to be a part of the program staff, and we ended up spending mornings together down at the campfire acting out the bible stories our buddy Garfield told the campers.  We made a good team.  He and I played off each other well, and our improv theater skills worked to our advantage.  He seemed to always want the best for me.  He was always willing to give me the laugh.  He is a true theater guy.  He wants the scene, no matter how small, to be the best it can be even if the focus is not always on him.  The desire to get to know him grew even more.

Several weeks into the summer camping season we hit high school camp.  It was a great week.  I ended up counseling a group of girls that I had counseled 4 years earlier for a junior camp.  Instead of the girls heading off on their own way during free time we ended up choosing activities together.  One afternoon we had the opportunity to repel a set of columns.

Quite frankly, to me, the idea of repelling down a sheer rock wall was terrifying.  I thought back over times in my life where heights were a challenge for me.  As a four-year old we hiked up to Rooster Rock.  I made it up only to realize that I had to go back down.  The trail towards the top seemed particularly gnarly to me.   I locked my knees, which is the worst thing to do, and hugged the rock on the inside of the trail as we descended.  It was probably my first panic attack.  A year later there was a slatted bridge to cross in the Jefferson Wilderness that, to a five-year old, had huge spaces between the boards.  I was convinced that I would fall through.  Somehow my family got me to cross.  I don’t remember if they threatened me or just picked me up and carried me.  During my senior year my parents brought me along on a trip to Guatemala to see my bro and sis-n-law during their tenure with the Peace Corps.  We made our way to a set of Mayan ruins.  I was standing before amazing stone architecture begging to be explored.  I climbed right up the first one.  I was above the canopy of these expansive old trees when I realized that I was looking over the tops of the expansive old trees.  I stood for a moment paralyzed by the knowledge of how easy it would be to stumble and fall down the hundreds of steps I had climbed up moments earlier.  My brother pretended that he was going to push me down the stairs.  I almost punched him, but was afraid that in swinging my arm I would throw my balance off thereby plunging to my death.  My sweet mother gave me advice on how best to go down. It was one of the few times, if any, that I ever told her to “shut-up!”  I’m afraid of heights, but my sense of adventure is too strong.  I had to go repelling.  I had to show the girls that I could face my fears.

We stood next to the church van.  All sorts of thoughts went through my mind of what could go wrong.  My chest tightened.  I saw my best friend walk up.  He saw the look in my eyes, a look that 20 years later he has come to know so well, and said, “I have your back.  I won’t let anything happen to you.”  A strange peace came over me as the girls and I climbed into the church van.  However, as we turned up the narrow road to the columns again I felt my chest tighten.  I started searching for my means of escape, and then I looked at my campers.  I couldn’t stop now.  I was the only counselor in our cabin that stepped up to go with them.  I had to follow through.  A hand rested on my shoulder.  “I got your back,” he reminded me.

We ascended the trail to the top.  It was covered with loose gravel and made for slippery footing as I turned to look down.  There isn’t much room to maneuver above the columns, or anything to really grab onto to steady your balance.  I felt my foot slip and heart thrust into my throat.  It was the same paralyzing feeling that I had on the ruins in Guatemala.  I searched for his eyes.  He had his faded purple bandana on his head and a big smile on his face.  He had my back.  I let out a long sigh.  I don’t remember if I went first, last, or somewhere in between.  I do remember feeling complete peace as I took my first step out over the cliff.  By the time I hit the ground I realized that I really enjoyed myself, and had created a great memory with my girls.  I also knew that this new friend of mine was someone who I could trust with my whole heart.

The ascent is never that scary.  It’s when you turn around for the descent and you see where you came from that your circumstances appear overwhelming.  I was reminded that sometimes life isn’t about looking back at where you come from, but it’s about taking the next step into the future.  Repelling down the side of that hill wasn’t so that I could commiserate over the fear in the climb.  It was all about my expression of joy in overcoming the fear.

I have to admit that my idea for this entry came from my husband.  I read the purple slip to him, and he mentioned that day at The Columns.  It wasn’t the easiest thing for him either.  He didn’t normally belay from the top.  I didn’t know about that until today.  Personally I think that The LORD knew it was going to be a significant moment in building trust between us, so he gave my hubby the extra ounce of courage needed to help me be brave. 

Two Worlds Diverge

We’ve spent the last week or so hanging out in our old stomping grounds.  It’s an old feeling to have been gone for a year.  Some of the landscape has changed, but the familiar is still here.  A fave coffee shop, a fave grocery store, dear friends with wonderful smiles all make it easy to pick up where we left off before we packed up our life and flew across the ocean.

On one of the first days back we had the team from Hawaii over to our in-laws house for a BBQ.  It was odd to see these peeps sitting in my MIL’s back yard, but that was only for a moment.  My family joined in with our Hawaii family (ohana) and it seemed pretty natural.  We served them that family’s staple of the summer: sucking chicken, flook potato salad, tuna mac salad, and fresh fruit.  After dinner they loaded up the brownies and ice cream with gummy bears and devoured it on the back patio.  It was a such a blessing to have these two worlds diverge for a few hours.  Our Hawaii ohana saw where we came from, and our Oregon family saw why we left.

It will be bittersweet in a week when I wake up in my new home of the last year.  I have to put that aside so that I can savor every moment left here.  I have a grand-nephew to hold, family-n-friends to hug and laugh with, and long-n-lazy Pac NW summer days to enjoy as they melt into the light of the moon and stars.  I live between two pieces of paradise.  How did that happen?

One Year

It has been one year…

I had stayed up all night before my early morning flight. I still had so much to do. The youngest fell asleep watching “Enchanted” on the bed next to me as I wrote notes, as I packed and repacked, and as I asked God one last time if this is really what He wanted us to do.

We had spent the days leading up to my flight packing up the house, thanks to the help of family and friends. I don’t know what we would have done without the generosity of those people who gave us boxes and packing paper, and helped us pack and clean. It was all so overwhelming to move out of our home of 16 years, but the comfort and care given by those precious ones was like salve poured over an open wound.

Those last moments spent locking up the house were bittersweet. I took a picture of the barren front room, that a few years earlier I had painted a deep red found on the reject paint shelf at a local hardware store. I walked past the case once filled with treasured books and knick-knacks, like the Korean wedding ducks given to us on a Holt trip and the small wooden bowl that is the first present given to me from my mother in-law. The kiddos sat on the counter in the blue room, that was actually taupe color, for one last time. I snapped a picture. I hid that moment in my heart as it spilled over with gratitude for the gracious gift God gave us in being able to buy this house. I paused one last moment by the front door, my hand resting against the door frame, thinking this would soon be a home filled with another family’s memories. “Bless them Lord,” I whispered, “May this be holy ground.” I wiped the tears from my eyes as I pulled the door to and turned the lock.

In a few hours we would start over. Where would we rest our heads? Where would we put our Christmas tree? What about my piano? Would my children feel at home? I had I stop thinking. I had so much left to do. I would save the inner dialogue for the flight.

It’s been one year since I stepped off of that plane to make this island my home.

Yesterday, as I drove home from registering our car for the year, I started mentally composing this post.  I was reminiscing about my first trip to register the car at that satellite city hall.  I left with plates from a new state, and proceeded to wander around the parking garage looking for the car I had just registered.  45 minutes later I was calling the hubby thinking that the car had been stolen.  This was only a few days after we had to pay a nice impound fee because I had parked in a spot that obviously was not legal.  This was only a few days after I had tried to start the car in a grocery store lot, and ended up paying a nice fee to have a new key made to replace the stripped one.  I really didn’t want to have to tell my hubby that now the car was gone.  Don’t worry, it wasn’t stolen.  I had walked back to the wrong level of the parking garage.  Hey, it looked just like the level below where my car was actually parked.  Those that know me, feel free to laugh.

I felt pretty good about myself after this last trip to take care of the car.  I had successfully parked in a spot the led me directly to where I needed to go.  I then went inside, having not remembered that I needed cash or check to pay the registration (I quickly solved that), and only had to stand in line for 30 minutes.  I took care of business, and was able to walk directly back to the car.  This is a huge win.

My original car that made the boat trip over was totaled back in January.  I loved that car.  It was a huge answer to prayer.  The kiddos had spent a few summer weeks previous to that driving side by side in a little red truck without AC.  Now, I know that AC is a huge luxury, but when the kiddos  have to sit one sweaty body next to another they get a little cranky pants.  This new to us car had separate seats, AC and  CD player.  I had enough room to drive a pack of kiddos to the pool, to the park, or to wherever.  The kiddos rejoiced, and often thanked God for that car even after having it for years.  I was devastated not only that I was involved with an accident, but that I had totaled the car in the process.

A month later we ended up with another new to us car.  Again, there are separate seats, AC, and CD player.  I have enjoyed cranking tunes while trucking kids to and from rehearsals for the musical, so I was a little bummed that the radio stopped working as I drove out of the parking lot.  I started mentally adjusting my blog post.

I thought, “Ok God, what do you want to tell me?  You have my full attention.”

The next thing I noticed was that the speedometer needle was moving erratically, and then it was the RPM needle, and then the odometer numbers disappeared.

“Hmm,” I stated, “At least I still have the AC.”  There wasn’t a whole lotta get up and go after I stopped at the red light.  “God, you’ll have to get me home,” I prayed.  I made it up and over the hill, or mountain, just as the AC decided to quit.  I kept on praying.  Five minutes later I pulled into our driveway and our car shut down.

Right now I’m just being thankful that I made it home, that in the back of the car I had groceries to unload, that I had children around to help unload them, and that tomorrow a friend on the church staff is coming by to replace the part that went kaputski.  Yep, another set of first world problems.

Thank you, Lord.  You are the same God as before things started shutting down on the car.  Why should I think that You are  different because the car broke down?  There is no reason to.  I believe that with my whole heart.

Character Auditions

Tonight our Frontlines Team, those that serve in sound, stage, video, lighting, vocals, drama, halau, and as musicians, came together for some family time.  The video team had a fun game to play, the Halau (or dance team) had a great drama about the internal monologue that happens sometimes contrary to our outward appearance, and our team leaders shared from their hearts words of admonishment and encouragement.  There was a strong theme to the evening; we need to let go of offenses and do a better job of loving people.  We watched Pastor Wayne’s teaching on Character Auditions and what it means to serve on the Frontlines.  We ended the evening in prayer and with the anointing of oil.  As team members left they each, including pastors and leaders, signed character contracts renewing their hearts to follow the code of conduct required by active members of the Frontlines.

Here is the link to watch the Character Auditions teaching by Pastor Wayne:

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/34998530″>Character Audition – Pastor Wayne Cordeiro</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/newhope”>New Hope Oahu</a> on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Today’s reading in Joel really has me thinking, especially with his use of the word REND.


Rend Your Heart

12 “Even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

13 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.
14 Who knows? He may turn and relent
    and leave behind a blessing—
grain offerings and drink offerings
    for the Lord your God.

Further down in the passage there is a call to the priests “who minister before the LORD” to gather EVERYONE, and it didn’t matter what the age or status, for a solemn assembly and to fast.   These leaders were to “weep between the temple porch and the altar.”  Through the mouth of Joel God is calling His people out; first and foremost His leaders.  What does this mean for me?

Rending my heart is not a passive act.  It is purposeful.  When I agree to rend myself before God I have to sacrifice.  I have to die to my own will and submit to change.  I am allowing my heart to be torn to shreds and be built back up again by God.

I will have to love  people who I don’t want to love.  I will have to forgive people who I see impossible to forgive.  I will have to say “no” to things that I want to engage in.  I must draw nearer to God’s word and His voice.

How does this rendering affect my relationships?  Will I seem different to people?  Will my family and friends respond differently to me?  What about those who don’t understand my faith?  Will my decision to go deeper with God alienate even more those whom I love?  What about those relationships that have fallen by the wayside due to life’s circumstances?

As I think on this, for me it comes down to two things: I am called to love people, (1 John 3:10) and to pray (1 Thessalonians 5:17).  If these things are not woven into the fabric of me then I need to render my heart.  By rending my heart I will grow to care deeply for those people I am called to love, and I will see prayer as I do breathing.  I cannot live without it.

Looks like I need to spend some serious time between the porch and the altar.


In reading various commentaries on Joel 2, I came across a really good writing about prayer by evangelist Leonard Ravenhill.  He heart was all about prayer, especially in calling God’s people to pray.  He said,”…when the church of Jesus Christ is prosperous, she never has revival. It’s when she’s poor. Prayer is the language of the poor. “Bow down Thine ear and hear me, for I am poor and needy.”
The self-satisfied don’t need to pray.
The self-sufficient don’t want to pray.
The self-righteous cannot pray.

But the man who realizes,
“I need something outside of anything that’s human at all,”
he wants to bathe his soul in prayer.”He goes on to say, “Read the Acts of the Apostles and all you read about is prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer, prayer. When they had prayed the place was shaken.”  What does this mean for our current circumstances?  As a church we must be all about prayer.

To read the entire writing by Leonard Ravenhill check out this link.  I found it quite challenging.  http://www.ravenhill.org/weeping2.htm

Becoming Known

I’m still searching for the familiar, those places where I know that I’ll find what I’m looking for.  I just wanted cummin.  I use it a lot in my cooking, and had finished off the last of what came over on the boat.  I had checked five different stores.

I gave up looking for it until one day, when I happened upon a Whole Foods.  I’d never been inside one before.  Wow.  Nice store.  I decided to check the spice aisle.  Yes!  I found cummin, and it was on sale.  I let out a huge sigh of relief.  Finally, something familiar.

I’ve taken for granted the value of the familiar.  Finding a spot for the silverware is pretty simple.  Discovering the best place to buy milk is cake.  Uncovering the mystery of how I fit into the fabric of this island is a little more difficult.

A year ago I thought I knew who I was: a homeschooling mom and pastor’s wife heading across the ocean on a great adventure.  I thought that the worship leader, dreamer, artist parts of me were on the verge of finally being set free.  All those palm trees drawn in the margins of my college class notes were finally becoming a reality.  I was going to live on the set of the TV show Lost.

Then you move 2,532.64 miles away from your previous life, and you start to question everything.  Even though there is a Starbucks on almost every corner, this is definitely not the Pac-NW.  Things that you come to count on being there are no longer at your finger tips.  People you used to call in a pinch to help with kiddos or go for a walk with are across the ocean.  Places to release your creatively energy are few and far between.

I need to trust when I hear the LORD quiet my spirit by saying , “Hush my child, you need to become known.”  It is all about becoming known.  I need to get to know my island, and my island needs to get to know me.  Building relationships take time, effort, and patience.

This past weekend Pastor Wayne spoke of caring deeply for people.  He shared a story similar to this one.

An African boy listened carefully as his teacher explained why Christians
were such giving people. The teacher said, “Jesus taught us that giving gifts is an expression
of our love and friendship for Him and each other. Jesus said, ‘It is more
blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

A couple of days later the boy brought the teacher a
seashell of lustrous beauty. “Where did you ever find such a
beautiful shell?” the teacher asked. The youth told her that
there was only one spot where such extraordinary shells could
be found.

When he named the place, a certain bay several miles
away, the teacher was speechless. She knew that it would have
taken the young man hours to walk to the bay. Also, he would
have faced many dangers from the jungle and rocky cliffs of the
seacoast along the way. “Why, it’s gorgeous and wonderful,
but you shouldn’t have gone all that way to get the gift for me,”
the teacher joyfully explained.

His eyes brightening, the boy answered, “Long walk part of the gift.”

If we care deeply then the walk is part of the gift.  If I care deeply about my family, my friends, my church, this island, then the time it takes to become known is part of the gift.

Dear Lord, please help me use my time wisely, so that I care for what it most important.  Amen

I used to love Captain and Tennille.  As an elementary aged girl I would play this RECORD over and over.  I think that by this time I was the only kiddo home so my older siblings may have missed that phase of music.  This song touted the power of love to make all things work.  I would hold my air microphone and sing along with hand motions,

“Love, love will keep us together<br />Think of me babe whenever<br />Some sweet talking girl comes along singing her song<br />Don’t mess around,<br />You gotta be strong<br />Just Stop [stop], ’cause I really love You<br />Stop [stop], I’ll be thinking of you<br />Look in my heart and let love keep us together”<br /><br />

I had no clue until much later what she was singing about.  It just fed my childhood ideas that if you just love somebody then everything will be okay.  I still believe there is truth to that statement.  Everybody does want to be loved.  They want to be accepted for who they are.  It’s just that it takes more than us just loving a person to have that person be whole.  The recipient of that love needs to accept it.

I was reading the other day in 1 Corinthians about love, but it wasn’t in chapter 13 like usual.  It is found earlier in chapter 8.  It says this,  “Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.  The man who thinks he knows something does not yet know as he ought to know.  But he who loves God is known by God.”

This is something that stands out to me because of how much the circles I run in value knowledge, and in so many ways education is the key to a better life.  I pray for my children to have wisdom, knowledge, and understanding.  It helps us accept the grace and love that God gave us in Jesus, and it is really important in helping us make good choices.  However, I truly believe that people can educate themselves out of faith.  And in doing so they miss out on a deep and abiding relationship with God.

Pastor Ben brought this up as he was sharing about his message for this coming Sunday.  He is preaching from Paul’s comments to the Romans about <a href=”http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans%206;&version=31;”target=_blank>sin and grace.</a> It will piggy back on his message last week about how some people struggle with the simplicity of the Gospel.  The concept of grace is too easy for people.  People feel like they need to suffer more for their actions instead of just accepting the free grace given to us in Jesus’ death on the cross.

That is difficult for me to do: release the guilt of my actions so that I can experience what God has intended for me to the fullest.  I’ve learned over the past few years that my holding on to feelings of guilt doesn’t make me any more sorry for what I’ve done.  I feel as though by holding on to my mistakes I’m actually allowing the enemy to continue to try and destroy me.  By letting go of my mistakes, by turning my back on my mistakes, by repenting and turning from them I have completely destroyed the enemy’s attempt to derail me.  I have truly accepted the love God has for me.

I am learning through experience and through the wisdom, knowledge and understanding given to me by the Holy Spirit that I am loved by God no matter what.  This enables me to come out from my mistakes without holding on to the guilt.  I’m not perfect.  I still make mistakes, and still need to be reminded that it is through God’s grace that I am saved.  Nothing else will save me.

Knowledge without love is a dangerous thing.   There is no grace in it.  There is no ability to forgive.  There is no ability to build people up.  This is where legalism makes it’s bed.  We as believers must, must, must put aside legalism so that LOVE MAY ABOUND.

My heart hurts for those who cannot come to Jesus because they “know” too much.  My heart hurts for people who cannot come to Jesus in a personal way because they cannot accept the simplicity of God’s grace.  My heart hurts for those who’ve been abused by Christians who adhere to a legalistic form of Christianity.

I am so sorry that Jesus’ message of grace and redemption was tossed aside for the sake of someones need to control how God’s love is shared.  I am sorry that some people feel it is okay to abuse the name of Jesus to mask their fear, their hate, their stupidity.  I am sorry that man gets in the way of people personally knowing God.

I know you’ve read this from me before, and I’ll keep saying it until I’m blue in the face.   I believe that if we truly love people the way God wants us to then our world would be transformed.  But then that sounds too easy, huh?