Living Life in a Fish Bowl!

Gloria’s take on life.

Possibilities

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched,
Nor will the flame burn you.
“For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior;…
Isaiah 43:2-3 (NASB)

Stop a moment and think about that. Our God Is with us every step of the way, in good times and in trials, He is our Saviour!

Where I am the sun shining and a new day is beginning. The possibilities are endless. One thing that I know is whatever comes my way must pass through the hands of my God, for you see He is in control.

Nothing sneaks past Him. When I remember that then I also remember that He will make a way through the difficulties and He holds me in the palm of His mighty hand. (Job 12:10) To God be the glory!

In anticipation I begin to unwrap this day because I know there will be beauty if I but look for it. Our God is an amazing God, who alone does wonders. (Psalm 77:14)

The question is will we have eyes to see the goodness of our God in the land the living? (Psalm 27:13)

God of wonders beyond our galaxy, You are Holy!!

In awe!!

Till next time,

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June 25, 2016 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, ministry, pastor, Pastor's wife, spiritual reflections, Woman Pastor | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

motorcyclist, drummer, marine, preacher ??

Ever notice that, depending on who you are talking to, you introduce people differently?  Maybe it is because  first impressions do seem to make a difference to a lot of people.

During our motorcycle trip yesterday I gave some thought to first impressions and stereotypes.  In a perfect world, neither would matter.  Have you ever given a bad first impression?  It’s those times that a do over would be nice.  It’s even better when the person doesn’t write you off but realizes that some days are just like that.

I remember back (25 years ago now) when I was going to introduce my boyfriend to my mother and step-dad that there  were lots of ways I could introduce him.

“Mom, Dad, I’d like you to meet my boyfriend – he just got out of the Marines.  He was a platoon sergeant for a tank unit.”

(I happen to use this line on a couple of my friends and it didn’t go over well.  Hmmm, what’s that say about the stereotype connected with the Marines?).

So I wasn’t going to use that on mom and dad.  Maybe this one?

“Mom, Dad, this is my motorcycle riding boyfriend BUT, he does wear a helmet. :)”

nope

“Mom, Dad, I am dating a drummer, whose favorite music is rock and he dislikes country.”

nope

Now all of those things are true, but telling my mom any of that before she got to know him would cause her to waste time wondering about us eloping and him re-enlisting , needlessly worrying about the motorcycle and/or fretting over the music choices.  None of that was necessary.

So instead I introduced him like this………..

“Mom, dad, I’d like you to meet my boyfriend who has one year left at college and he’s majoring  in pastoral ministries.  Yes, he is going to be a pastor.”

I left out the part about him working at a church in North Minneapolis and that this was the direction he saw his life going in the near future.  (North Minneapolis is not the suburbs.)

In time, they realized that he was all those other things.   There was even a time when re-enlisting was tossed around.  (Thank God that was not part of the plan.)

What was the plan though, was that I would marry this  motorcyclist – drum playing – Marine – preacher and move to North Minneapolis.  In time we would leave MN and find ourselves in the beautiful state of Iowa.

He would add husband, father, black belt and professor to the ‘hats’ that he wears.

It is an adventure!

An adventure that started out with my commenting to my friends that I just couldn’t figure out what I had done to make this guy so angry with me.   He would come into the deli every day and no matter how nice I was, he still appeared angry with me.  Turns out that impression was way wrong.

Imagine my surprise and my friends concern when he asked me out.

I soon learned that the expression wasn’t anger but, since he had just gotten out of the marines,  it was his sergeant face.

Preconceived ideas, stereotyping, first impressions, whatever you call it — can get in the way of seeing who the person really is.   I am not a  fan of labels.  I rarely tell people what I do.  I want them to see who I am by how I act.

I, in turn, try not to get caught up in first impressions.  I make a point of looking past the first impression and see all the potential that is there.

til next time

July 16, 2011 Posted by | just thinking about stuff | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

made it 1 entire day :)

grumble……..murmur………complain………….whine

How much of my day includes one of those things?  Well if you would have asked me two days ago I would have said “I don’t have a big problem with it.”  –click here to read earlier blog —

In fact, I decided two days ago to be mindful of what and how I am saying things for the next 30 days.  No problem??   or so I thought.

I like to talk a lot.  Did I mention that? 

Yesterday went by pretty smoothly.  To the best of my knowledge no complaining, murmuring, whining or grumbling came forth from my mouth. 

Ah, but this morning I had to be to work early and the first thing out of my mouth was “it is way too early to be up.”  I barely got it out of my mouth when I remembered.  UGH!  I told Curt that it really didn’t count because I wasn’t fully awake.  (heavy sigh)  Ok that is reaching just a bit. 

It just showed me how easy it is to grumble and not even realize you are grumbling. 

I much prefer mornings when I wake up and before getting out of bed, I say “Good morning Lord, it’s gonna be a great day.”   Hmmm I am sure God prefers that too,  along with my family and friends.

Then off to work.  I need to go back to the doctor for a follow-up visit.  I mentioned to Susan, “I hate spending money on doctor bills.”  

Oops, there it is again.  Yes, that is a true statement but murmuring none the less.  Instead I am grateful that I can make payments to such noted doctors.

So I have had two strikes today and it is only lunch time.  However, this is not baseball and I am not limited to three strikes. 

Yes, being mindful of my words and purposing in my heart to stop any and all griping is a good thing.   After all, I am confident that God is at work.  God will take care of those things that come my way.  With my mouth I will be grateful and thankful.

Oh, I forgot to mention, when I got home at lunch there was yet one more explanation of benefits from our insurance.  It was a shocker.  Let’s just say that Curt has met his $4,200 deductible for the year. 

Strangely though, I am not freaked out about it nor do I even want to grumble.  It just isn’t worth it.  I am determined to live in peace. 

What about you?  How often do you complain, grumble, murmur, gripe?

I challenge you to replace it with gratitude.  Let your hope in God rise above the fear.

What we say does impact our lives and those around us.

til next time

July 14, 2011 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, ministry, relationships, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

to complain or not to complain?

“God is not motivated or moved by our complaining.”  Joyce Meyers

Did you know that Joyce and I do dishes together?  She is a great help to me.

In all began a few years back.  See  I was in this funk.   I didn’t want to cook.  I certainly didn’t want to do dishes.   I was beginning to dread any time that I had to spend in the kitchen.  As a wife and mother that meant a big chunk of my day was filled with dissatisfaction.

That’s when Joyce came to my rescue.

I had been receiving her ‘teaching of the month’ cassette.   I was building up quite a pile of them.   When the thought hit me (thanks God) that I could put one in while I was working in the kitchen.

What a difference!    We’ve been doing dishes together ever since.  To say that I love my kitchen would be an understatement now!!

So, currently I am listening to “Contentment and Satisfaction — finding Joy in every situation”.    Every situation — yes I have room for growth.

It was during the 4th cd that Joyce made the above quote.  (“God is not motivated or moved by our complaining.” )

Complaining……..murmuring……..whining………muttering…………grumbling

About a month ago I mentioned to my husband that the next time I told him that I did not want to go to work – I had to pay him $1.00.  No big deal, you might think.  However, my husband is a financial guru and we budget everything.  Yes, even down to each getting  an allowance.   (This is money that I do not have to account for. )

How much you ask?  You might be surprised to hear that it is $10 a week.  Yes that is correct $10 a week.  Hey that is $40 a month I do not have to account for.

Why do I tell you this?  Because it is so easy to spend money and not even be aware of how much.   At the end of the month do you know where your money went?   If I did not have a set amount it would be so easy for me to spend three to four times as much during the week just on whatever I felt like at the time.

So when I said I would give him $1 that was huge.  Even greater is the fact that I have not had to pay him, not even once.

That was only the beginning.

My next challenge.

Complaining……..murmuring……..whining………muttering…………grumbling

STOP……CEASE…..ENOUGH……INSTEAD…..BE THANKFUL……BE POSITIVE

Now I am not one of those people who go around complaining and murmuring every chance I get.  I do try to see the good in each situation.  Yet I do find myself griping about the heat, or little things,  or situations out of my control, or the work load — that is a big one, or our crazy schedule …………… words that just don’t need to be spoken.  Period!

Now I’ve managed to sugar coat it so that I can kind of – sort of – justify it but, when Joyce made that statement my heart went ouch.

She also went on to say that we open a door for the enemy, in our lives, we invite destruction through grumbling, fault-finding and complaining.

When I am murmuring the devil is doing a happy dance and just loving it.  Why do you think it is so easy to complain?   Grumbling is contagious but so is thankfulness.  From now on I am going to be mindful to spread thankfulness!

For the next 30 days I am going to attempt to not complain about anything.  Now I know that some of it is habit (i.e.  Oh it is so stinkin’ hot.  or Is it 5:00 yet? whine – whine – whine )  and I will slip up.  But those of you that know me personally — feel free to remind me that I was giving up whining and maybe, just maybe,  you will get a quarter.  (Hey that’s 1/40th of my allowance for the week.)

What is God speaking to you about?

til next time

July 12, 2011 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, living in a fish bowl, ministry, Pastor's wife, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

frustrated or grateful — pick one

I’ve been thinking about blessings today.  Blessings come in all different sizes.   I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to be blessed.

It is a great feeling to experience an unexpected blessing.

As I look around me today, I am reminded of all sorts of blessings that have come my way – both big and small.  I often tell people that  my house is decorated with the love of others.

I have very few things that I have personally bought.  Instead, most things have a story behind them.   I like it that way.  I don’t have to look far to be reminded that I am blessed by wonderful family and friends.

I know people who are ungrateful.  They come in all ages.  This is not a “for women only” disease — men catch it too.   No one is immune to falling victim to this group.    The problem, as I see it, is that when you are a victim of this group you have no idea that you have joined their ranks.    Oh, others can tell, your talk changes.  Your outlook changes.  Ungrateful people are not happy people.  Also, it seems once someone has joined this group, they become intent on recruiting  others.

So where am I going with this blog?

Just as, sometimes, the littlest thing can be the last straw — let your gratitude for little things help you deal with situations that are out of your control.

I really hate to be in an angry stupor.  It is so time-consuming and emotionally draining.  It really has no  lasting value.  It’s not like the last time I got really frustrated is going to be the last time I get really frustrated.

Oooo that was really good.  I better repeat that.

It’s not like the last time I got really frustrated is going to be the last time I get really frustrated.

Life happens.  Pain is inevitable.  What I do with pain is up to me.

That said – then – I needed to  come up with a plan.

Usually when I am struggling with my flesh (you know those times when I have been wronged and my flesh cries out to be vindicated)  you may find me commenting on how grateful I am to have running water.  That’s right, running water.

What does that have to do with the situation?

Absolutely nothing.

However, it is part of my game plan.  What I have learned is that by refocusing my attention onto something else, something I am truly grateful for, it defused my frustration.

Running water leads me to all sorts of things that are generally taken for granted.   i.e.  –functional automobiles, electricity, a/c, stove (talked with a friend today that has recently had her stove taken out by lightning — Thanks  God for my stove), a closet full of clothes (even though I’ve been known to say “I have nothing to wear”),  a fridge full of food,  the list goes on — but I start out with running water because it makes me smile.

I have found that I cannot stay angry (frustrated) and be grateful at the same time.

I’d rather be grateful.

til next time

July 10, 2011 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, living in a fish bowl, ministry, relationships | , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

christian?

A few months back we celebrated 20 years of ministry in a small town church.  20 years!  I’ve lived here longer than anywhere else in my life.

A lot of people have come and gone.   Babies have grown up and are now having babies.   What a joy that is to see!  There is the joy of  new life  and then there is the sadness as we have bid farewell to those who have gone on before us.  One day we will meet again  on that Golden Shore.  (Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.  Psalm 116:15)

There have been weddings.  I love weddings!  If I could do it over again I would have started a scrap-book with the very first wedding.

There are those who have moved away and those who have moved on.  There are those who have recently joined our family  (quick count and I am up to 23 in the last year and a half  – Thank you God!)

All in all, it has been and is my desire to be real in a world where so many people are trying to be someone who they aren’t.   I have good days and I have bad days.  Life happens.  Yet in and through all of it, God is there.   I am not the perfect Pastor’s wife (not by a long shot)  or the perfect pastor.   However,  I love Jesus and I am learning how to walk in love.  I am finding that to be a life long process.  Some days are easier than others – for sure.

Awhile back I was at a craft store with a dear friend and  saw this fairly large wall hanging.  We talked about what it had to say – about what it means to be a christian.  For our 20th anniversary she gave it to us.  Here is what it said.

When I say “I am a Christian” I’m not shouting “I am saved.”   I’m whispering “I get lost – that is why I chose this way.”

When I say  “I am a Christian”  I don’t speak of this with pride.   I’m confessing that I stumble and need someone to be my guide.

When I say “I am a Christian”   I’m not trying to be strong.   I’m professing that I’m weak and pray for strength to carry on.

When I say “I am a Christian” I’m not bragging of success.  I’m admitting I have failed and cannot ever pay the debt.

When I say “I am a Christian” I’m not claiming to be perfect. My faults are all too visible, but God believes I’m worth it.

When I say “I’m a Christian” I still feel the sting of pain.  I have my share of heartaches – which is why I seek His name.

When I say “I’m a Christian” I do not wish to judge.  I have no authority.  I only know that I am loved.

Christian?

What does it mean to you?

til next time

June 30, 2011 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, ministry | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

what do you see?

Just another Tuesday or is it?

I’ve had one of those ‘time stands still‘ moments.

Let me back up a bit………..

A few years ago I was blessed to be at a conference where Kristi Northup was the worship leader.   You can’t help but feel her love and excitement for God.   She has a heart of  passion.  It is evident in her music.  It is all over her face.

So tonight, I get home from work and jump on facebook.  I think there must be a 12 step program for that.  Ah, but would I go?

It’s Tuesday night and hubby is home.   (During the school year he teaches on Tuesday night.   Have I mentioned that I love summer?  I do!)    As usual, when he is home, the music is on.

He is attempting to play through our cd collection.  This is a good thing because we tend to get in a rut and play the same cd’s over and over again.

So there I was when …  wham.  This song comes on.  I jump up and tell the family that this song is the whole reason I bought 3 of her cd’s.

As I tend to do, I put the player on ‘repeat 1 song’ to the moan of my family.  OK, so this time they moaned silently.  It really is a good song.

I am transported back to that retreat.  I remember like it was yesterday.   God calling me to see past the junk.  God speaking to my heart through this song –  wanting me to be willing to let Him show me what He sees – to love with His love.

What do you see?

How’s that working for you?  Ok,  so I am not Dr Phil, but seriously sometimes we get so caught up in ‘I…, I…, I….,  and how things affect me’.   I’ itus  as my dear Opal calls it.

I encourage you to let God show you what He sees!

Here is the song.  Kristi captures it.

I see desperation.   I see pain.   I see a life in ruins hopeless to ever change.  I see a city broken in two.  Is there anything that You can do?

 I see condemnation and I see shame.  I see the bride of Christ covered in human stain.   I see a finger pointing back at me.  I’m ashamed of my hypocrisy.

 You see beauty where I see dross.  You see value where I see loss. Cuz You are the light and the darkness cannot overcome it.  

 I see Simon, but You see Peter.  I see the adulteress, but You see a leader.   I see a desert.  You see a well.  I see Jacob, but You see Israel.

 I see China.  You see believers.  I see aids in Africa.  You are, You are the healer.

 I see religion.  You see the church.  I see the horizon but You see the whole world.

You see beauty where I see dross.  You see value where I see loss. Cuz You are the light and the darkness cannot overcome it.

Whatever we face, whatever comes our way,  God is still so very faithful.   Sometimes it is hard to understand why some things  happen.  I think too much time can be wasted trying to figure some of that stuff out.    Kristi’s song has reminded me again that I don’t have to figure it out.  I also don’t have to stay in the trap of ‘what I see’.    I see…………. but God sees……….and I choose to go with what God sees.

I trust God.  I believe He is at work.  I know that my life is in His hands.  I long for His will to be done — that is really what it is all about.  It isn’t about me and my will but that His will be done in my life, in my family, in my relationships, and in my church.

til next time

If you want to hear some of Kristi’s music– check out her website.   http://www.kristinorthup.com  go to listeners, music, then play.

June 14, 2011 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, ministry, relationships | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

it ain’t easy

It’s been well over a month since I jumped on the bandwagon of healthy living.   I have lost the proverbial 15 pounds.    You know, that 10 or 15 pounds that you seem to lose and then gain and then lose again only to find it somewhere down the road.  It is most aggravating to me.

I know that it is important that I take care of my body and being overweight is not healthy for a number of reasons.  I know what to do.  It isn’t a matter of not knowing.  I have read more articles and books than even I care to admit to.  UGH!  Reading and doing are NOT the same thing.

Here is what usually happens.  I begin with all sorts of determination.  I decrease my food intake and increase my exercise.  I give myself a pep talk and I blanket it all in prayer.

A couple of weeks go by.

I step on the scale and ……..yup, I have gained weight.  Oh, I know the whole muscle weighs more than fat and it takes awhile.  Blah blah blah.  Yet this can derail me.

If it doesn’t……..

It is a lot of work to eat healthy.  I think more about my food when I am trying to lose weight than any other time.  About this time, things crank up and my schedule gets even wilder.  I don’t have the time to cut up all the veggies and stir fry my meat — this can derail me.

If I am side stepping those bumps in the road, then it is only a matter of time before the pressure kicks in and my body begins to scream for freedom from this healthy scene.   I want a piece of chocolate or that yummy pecan roll that someone brought to work.

Currently I am on the carbohydrate addicts diet.  It really isn’t so much a diet as a new way of eating food.  It works for me.  I feel great BUT it does get old.

Carbs are my comfort food.  No doubt about it.  Upset — bring on the mashed potatoes or pasta.  I love carbs.  My body wants carbs.   Carbs are a great feel good food.

So the next thing that can derail me is pain.  When I am in pain (physical or emotional) my body has a complete hissy fit — demanding that I give it what it needs to feel a release from the hurt.

This time, though, it is different.

I have had all of the above situations happen and I am still pressing on.  This is uncharted territory.  To God be the glory!

I  stuck it out when the scale went up.  I am grateful to God for the encouragement that came my way during that time.

I make time for food preparations.  Yes, I have even scheduled it in a few times.

I have guarded my schedule and made decisions that worked best for sticking with the plan.

I have looked physical and emotional pain in the eye and refused to turn to food.    This  last one was the huge test for me.

So I will continue to blanket this in prayer and take it one day at a time.  Maybe one meal at a time.

One thing is for sure — it ain’t easy!

til next time

June 12, 2011 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, weight loss | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

together we praise

Have you ever wondered – why should I go to church?  Maybe your kids have said “Do I have to go to church?”  or maybe you have even said that.  The enemy of your soul will try anything and everything to keep you away from gathering with others.  Why?  Because coming together, rubbing shoulders with each other, encourages us and brings glory to God.

This weeks sermon was all about  coming together for worship.  To read other ‘sermon notes’ click here.

Grab your Bible, as I won’t be posting all of the scriptures.  I  feel that it is important to look the scriptures up in your own Bible –  to stay familiar with the love letter that God has given to us.  (If you don’t have a Bible let me know.)

Read Psalm 105:1-5

Why do we come together?

God desires our worship.  We come together to worship Him.  We join together to offer our thanks for all God has and is doing in our lives.  (Can we do that apart from church?  Of course and we should but there is something different about gathering with others for the sole purpose of worshiping God and hearing His word.)

We can tend to focus on the things that are going wrong.  We see the bad – focus on it – and forget all the good.

Illustration:  Did you know that your thumb can blot out the moon?  If you hold your thumb up to the sky,  you can cover up the moon.  Now the moon is huge.  It is way bigger than your thumb.  However, if you are focused on your thumb you will not see the moon.

When we focus on our problem we blot out all the good God has done.  It is still there, but we are not seeing it because our sight is on the problem.

When problems seem real big — look at where your focus is.

V. 2  Sing

What can we do for God?  We can sing!!  We gather together as the people of God to sing praises and to offer up thanks.   Testimony time is a time of proclamation – remembering God’s works.  God is at work in our lives!

God is good!  All the time!

v.3  Glory in His name – stop in the presence of the Lord and simply think about who God is.  How often do we do that?  Probably not often enough.  It is life changing to stand in the presence of an awesome God and glory in His name.

v.5  judgments – history of God interacting with the human race.  God shows great mercy to those who repent and believe.  To those who fail to repent and fail to believe  – there is great judgment.

“The Gospel message is repent and believe, not just proclaim and hope!”

We, as the people of God, are meant to proclaim the message of salvation.  Look for opportunities to proclaim the goodness of the Lord.

v. 4  Seek His face – an audience of One!

We are united in His presence and told to seek His face – to spend time in the presence of Almighty God.

“You’re not gonna get a better offer”

In the presence of the Lord is fullness of joy, peace forevermore.

I (Pastor Curt) will be having a GI scope – in God’s presence is strength, hope, peace, and joy.

“It really doesn’t matter what they find in here (pointing to his stomach) as what God finds in here (pointing to his life).  If I could pound one thing into people –one thing — it would be if you are experiencing problems in life then get before God!

“God will give us the wisdom to know what to do.  The strength to do what we need to do and the peace to get us through the storm.

“Let the wind blow, blow as hard as it can on Christ the solid Rock I stand!!” (Imperials)

till next time

May 18, 2011 Posted by | ministry, sermon notes, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

lookin’ good

Pruning is an unpleasant task; at least that is my opinion.

I don’t like to prune our bushes.  It leaves me exhausted and with a huge mess that someone has to pick up.  It used to be that when the boys were young, one of their chores was to pick up all the branches and weeds that I had piled everywhere.  It sometimes astounded me that there could be so many weeds when I had ‘just’ weeded.  UGH!

However, if I want to get the best out of my bushes then pruning is a must.

A few years back I tackled our lilac bush.  Any branch bigger than my thumb was cut off.   The poor bush looked pathetic when I was done.  I was a tad concerned that I had gone too far, but it wasn’t producing like it should.  Something had to be done.

The next year it produced more blooms than ever before.  This year it truly surprised  me.  The thing  is huge and exploding with blooms.  What a beauty!

Full of blooms !

I got in the picture so you could see just how big it is.   Our 2 1/2 car garage is really behind it somewhere.   Pruning was just what this bush needed.  Hmmm, pruning is what I need at times too.

When God prunes His kids, it isn’t a fun process.  Yet He does it out of love.  God knows that there are things that get in the way.   Sometimes even good things get in the way.   ‘Good enough’ can be a trap to keep you from being the best you that you can be.

God gets out His pruning shears and cuts away.   The process can be painful,  but when all is said and done the end result speaks loudly.    A life in full bloom!

til next time

May 15, 2011 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments