Living Life in a Fish Bowl!

Gloria’s take on life.

life is precious

I woke up this morning to the horrendous news from Orlando.

Why do things like this happen?

Short answer – evil is in the world. There are people who are deceived.

Ephesians 6:12 “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.”

In the same way that God uses people to accomplish His plan, the enemy (devil) uses people to carry out his plan. A couple of things that they both have in common are people and willingness. We choose whom we will follow.

Where they differ is that God loves people so much that He gave His son – the ultimate price. God operates out of love, mercy and grace. God offers life both here on earth and for all eternity.  God is for us and for our good.

The devil (thief) seeks to destroy, to wreak havoc, weaken and discourage.  He is all about our destruction.   ( John 10:10 “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”)

Joshua 24:15 tells us to choose who we will serve. Deut 30:15 tells us to choose life. Life and prosperity or death and adversity – it is our choice. Sadly some choose to follow the thief and human life means nothing to them.

We choose how we are going to live, the choices we will make and the path we will follow. Sadly, there are those who get in agreement with the thief and choose evil and death and their choices affect others.

We have much to pray for –the family and friends of those killed, the responders that are on the scene, those who are even now fighting for their lives and let us not forget to pray for our nation.

And let us do our part in choosing to let God shine through us, choosing life, and choosing those things that are good.  We overcome evil with good.  (Romans 12:21)

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til next time

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June 12, 2016 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, ministry, pastor, Pastor's wife, spiritual reflections, Woman Pastor | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

a letter to his son

We have never met, but I feel like I know you.  Your dad spoke of you often.  His love for you was evident.  You filled his heart with such pride.

Each week he would be sitting there waiting for my visit.  I would sit down beside him and touch his hand.  His eyes would light up and a huge smile would form.

“It is Wednesday, I knew you would be coming,”  he would say.

I would hold his hand and we would talk.

Some days it was hard for him to accept that his life had reached this point.  His independence was gone and he didn’t want to be a burden to you.  Other days he would talk about days gone by.   Each day you were part of the conversation.   Finally,  we would pray.  His love for Jesus was also evident.

“You be sure to stop and see me next week,”  he would say as I got up to leave.   I would assure him that I would do just that.

I went to work yesterday and found out that he has passed from this life to the next.

I miss him.  I miss his smile.  I miss the way his eyes would sparkle when he was excited about something.   Yet, the realization that he is no longer using a walker, nor is his eye sight failing, his fight with sleep is no longer an issue but most importantly  he is with his Lord – this brings comfort to me.  I hope that this brings you comfort also.

Losing a father leaves a hole.  May God fill that hole with His peace.  Time does not heal all things.  It is God that brings healing.  God will use time to help you learn how to go on.   May you sense God’s comfort  today and in the days to come.

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.”  Psalm 23:4

    “Precious in the sight of the Lord
Is the death of His saints.”   Psalm 116:15

still waters

Being his chaplain was a blessing to me.

Sincerely,

Your father’s chaplain – your father’s friend

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January 29, 2016 Posted by | ministry, pastor, Pastor's wife, relationships, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

talking — texting —- just a whole lot of words!

Words  – I use a lot of them.

Sometimes my mind can act like a rewind button.  I go over and over and over an issue until it has mostly consumed me.  I believe that is why what I think about is so very important.  (“For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45 NKJV)

What we think about matters.  How we think about something will affect how we choose to respond.  Check out blame game or ownership? you decide

   “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    Be acceptable in Your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer.”  Psalm 19:14 (NASB)

What do you find that consumes your thoughts?    (Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.  Phil 4:8 MSG)

It is out of our thoughts that the words flow.

One of the hats I wear at our church is what is now referred to as a worship pastor.  (I have to chuckle at the various names it has been called over the years.)  I find words are a very necessary part of heading up the worship department.

Preaching or teaching a class also lends itself to many words.

I love people and therefore find myself talking with people from all walks of life.   As a chaplain, I am even paid to visit with people.

Words………………..words…………………..and more words……….

    “Watch the way you talk.
     Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth.
     Say only what helps, each word is a gift.”  Eph 4:29 (MSG)

Watch the way you talk.” 

Talking is more than just a bunch of words strung together.  Tone, body language, and facial expressions all enter in to the way we talk.  What does your tone/ body language/ facial expressions say about the words that come from your mouth?  Are you irritated?  at peace? excited? bored? looking for an escape?  compassionate?  understanding?

“let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth”

I don’t think I need to elaborate on this one, except to ask – where do you think sarcasm fits?

“say only what helps, each word is a gift”

I would love to tell you that I have this mastered.  That would be a lie and since I am a huge fan of truth, let me just say that sadly, not all my words are helpful gifts.  I do think it is a goal to reach for and improve in. Please do not fall into the trap of making excuses.   If you have to make an excuse for what or how you say something — stop and change it!

I also believe that the helpful gift of words starts in the home.  How do your words reflect what you feel about your family?  Are you bringing life into your home by the words you speak or are you tearing apart the family structure?

     “Words kill, words give life;
    they’re either poison or fruit—you choose.”  Proverbs 18:21 (MSG)

You choose.  Choose wisely.  And remember that it isn’t only the words you speak.  The words you text, instant message, or post on facebook all are a reflection of you.

Give the gift of helpful words that brings life and causes others to flourish.  You will not have to be sorry for what you say if you are giving life with your words.

patsy

til next time

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June 14, 2015 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, ministry, pastor, Pastor's wife, relationships, spiritual reflections, Woman Pastor | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

learning is a life long process

“Come to me and rest.  I am all around you, to bless and restore.  Breathe Me in with each breath.  The way just ahead of you is very steep.  Slow down and cling tightly to My hand.  I am teaching you a difficult lesson, learned only by hardship.”              Jesus Calling  by Sarah Young

Not exactly what I wanted to read this morning.

She goes on to say:

“Lift up empty hands of faith to receive My precious Presence.  Light, Life, Joy, and Peace flow freely through this gift.  When your focus turns away from Me, you grasp for other things.  You drop the glowing gift of My presence as you reach for lifeless ashes.  Return to Me; regain My Presence.”

On January 24th I was at my mother’s bedside holding her hand as she took her last breath.  It is a precious story that I will share at a later time.   I am glad that  I was there, but nothing in life has been harder.  Twice she stopped breathing and I squeezed her hand and yelled for her.  After the second time, I told her, “Oh momma, I am so sorry.  You can go.  You don’t have to stay.   It is okay.”  Maybe she took 4 or 5 more breaths after that.

A couple of days ago a friend wrote this on a facebook status that I shared. 

“I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t a whole host of other things connected to the grief you might have to face down, acknowledge and deal with in whatever manner God may lead you toward.”

God can and does speak through people.  He was certainly speaking through my friend to me.  It was time to face down, acknowledge and deal with some things that I had been avoiding in hopes that I had somehow assessed the situation inaccurately.

It has been a roller coaster of events since my mother’s fall in August.

Some where along the way I forgot to guard my heart.  (Proverbs 4:23)  How was that possible when I talk with people all the time about guarding your heart?  How could I forget to practice it myself?  As a Pastor/Pastor’s wife I know how the enemy uses whatever he can to bring discouragement and sadness.

What does it mean to guard your heart?  Among other things, it means to hold loosely the things (friendships – possessions) you have in this life.  Any time that you hold on too tightly you open a door that the enemy will gladly attempt to enter.

Guarding my heart also means to keep my focus on Jesus.  When dealing with car trouble  or something breaks,  when someone ‘drops the ball’,  when sickness comes,  when loneliness seems to take my breath away,  when facing my mother’s death, when finances aren’t what I expected, no matter what happens – keep my focus on Jesus.

Where is your focus?

Keep your focus on Jesus.  (Hebrews 12:1-2)

After all, whatever happens, He is right there.  He is an ever-present help in trouble. (Proverbs 46:1)  He will make a way where there seems to be no way. (Proverbs 3:6, Isaiah 43:19)   He will never leave you.  (Hebrews 13:5)

“Face down, acknowledge and deal with.”  Instead of running from the pain — embrace it,  learn from it and move forward.   “In acceptance lieth peace.”  Hannah Whitall Smith

Yes, God had my attention.

My friend went on to say:

“Don’t let the devil convince you that the world was just put on your shoulders. You’ve got this and God will help you with it.”

Sometimes we aren’t even aware of the weight that is pressing down on us.  God sees and He is faithful to use people to speak into our lives the truth that will keep us from bondage.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23

 

til next time

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February 6, 2014 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, relationships, Woman Pastor | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

it is not good bye – you are just getting there before me

a friend, mentor, gem, grandparent to my kids, and a lover of Jesus

a friend, mentor, gem, grandparent to my kids, and a lover of Jesus

I never knew my grandparents on my dad’s side.  I barely remember my mother’s dad.  When I was 17 my only remaining grandparent died.

Fast forward 11 years.

My husband, boys and I had just moved, 6 hours away from all family and friends, to Iowa, to pastor a small town church.  It was here that I met Opal.   She was old enough to be my great grandma but she was truly more than that to me.  She was a great friend.  Age was just a number to Opal.  I know more 20 somethings that did not have the energy she had.

Opal

When my boys were old enough to shovel snow, they would shovel at Opal’s.  In the beginning they did this for pay and were quite happy to have some pocket-money.  However, when they turned 16 and had actual jobs they no longer took Opal’s money.  Opal wanted to pay them but they refused and just wanted to do it because she was Opal.  The thought of not shoveling or taking her money just wasn’t an option.  They were quick to help her.

Always willing to help Opal

Andrew making sure Opal gets what she wants

I always knew that Opal had my back and that my family was kept in her prayers.  If I needed to talk or run something  past her, she was more than willing to be my sounding board.   She spent years studying God’s Word and she loved to talk about it.  Yes, she was my mentor.

This morning Opal went home.  She was 101 years and 9 months old.

Opal and Bobby shared a deep love for each other

Opal and Bobby shared a deep love for each other

This is one of my favorite pictures.  The bond between Opal and Bobby  was evident to anyone who saw them together.

overnight 3Opal was clearly the church grandma.  Everyone thought of her as grandma.   From the very youngest in our church family to the oldest (oh wait, Opal was the oldest) she was dearly thought of and loved deeply.

she was loved by people of all ages

she was loved by people of all ages

when the chairs were too uncomfortable - a chair was brought in just for Opal

when the chairs became too uncomfortable – a chair was brought in just for Opal- she is the one on the right hand corner — this was our girls night in (my chair was the empty spot next to her) now her chair is empty 😦

opal 100 When Opal turned 100, my husband and I were honored to be able to have her in our house for her birthday meal.

It was a church night so after supper we headed to church.  Opal made that a priority.   Her walk with God was very real and transparent.

After church a bunch of us went to Happy Joes and Opal got her birthday sundae.  It was a full day and she was tired but who wouldn’t be tired at 100?

celebrating at Happy Joes after service.  Not every day they sing to someone turning 100!!

not every day they sing to someone turning 100!!

She has some mighty big shoes for someone to fill.   She is greatly missed by everyone who loved her and that list goes on and on.  What a legacy.

There are books that deal with how to cross the generations, how to be relevant to the generations and so forth — I didn’t need to read a book about it.  I had a living example of how to effectively reach all generations.

There is a hole in my heart.   Opal, I count it a privilege to have called you my friend.    Thank you for showing me so many things about life, love, Jesus, people, work, being real, being humble……………and the list goes on.  You are missed!

Psalm 116:15 (KJV)

15 Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.

til next time

August 4, 2013 Posted by | relationships | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

life and death

Lately, I’ve been thinking about life and death.  Living is something that we do everyday.  You don’t even have to give it a thought.  Days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months.  Before you know it another year is gone.

On the other hand, death can take you completely by surprise.   One minute you are making plans and the next you get a phone call that changes your world.

A little over a year ago my most favorite aunt passed away.  It came as a surprise but yet not really.   I was unable to attend her funeral but I was  ok with that.  My aunt knew I loved her and that she had played a huge role in my early years.  She knew this because I told her many times.   I also wrote her a letter expressing my love and appreciation.   She was finally Home.   (home being heaven)

This Sunday I got word that my last living Aunt had passed away.

Sunday was a very full day for us.  We had 2 worship services, then grabbed a quick-lunch and headed to the town park.   The  local church bands  were coming together to have praise in the park.  In memory of 9 -11  the mayor also was going to address the crowd.

As we were pulling into the park,  I got the message that Aunt Doris had died.      This death hit me hard.  I didn’t have time to think about why this was.  People were everywhere.   We were to take the stage at 4:00.  People were counting on me.

Seriously, I didn’t know how that was going to happen.  It is just one more example, in my life, of how God comes through in amazing ways.  While we were sitting there listening to the other bands, God was ministering to my heart.

Then it was our turn.  This was our second year participating and it was absolutely the most fun I have had.    I made more mistakes than I care to admit.  That alone could have caused a melt down right there on the spot.  After all I was processing life and death.   My heart was overwhelmed.  This did not make a good combination for keeping it all together.

Yet again God came through.  In His infinite wisdom He gave me such joy and gladness.    Now He could have caused my fingers to do what they have done a thousand times but then would I have known He was right there helping me?  Probably not.   The realization that He was right there pouring peace and joy into my heart was beyond words.

Why was her death harder than the death of my most favorite aunt?  I have come to the conclusion that death can bring up a sense of loss of what could have been – what should have been — but what wasn’t.   I had long ago dealt with the issues concerning my aunt.   Yet her death brought sadness and loss to the forefront of my heart.

It has also made me more mindful of my life and my impact on those around me.    During practice on Saturday I told our band to be sure to smile because we do love to praise God  and we should be sure to show that.  I reminded them and myself of that before we went on.

Live life to the fullest!  Laugh as often as you can!  Love all those around you!  Choose joy!  Live out loud!

What are you showing people?

til next time

September 13, 2011 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, ministry, Pastor's wife, relationships, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , | 6 Comments

saying good bye

Psalm 116:15 “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints”

Sometimes there just are no words that express what we feel inside.  Death has a way of bringing important things to the top of the list and the realization of how unimportant so many other things really are.

I lost a good friend yesterday.  It is true that some people walk into your life and you are forever changed.  Their  footprints are visible.  

My husband and I have been in ministry for a lot of years.  We have seen the really fantastic side of ministry and we have experienced the not so pleasant side of ministry.   There are those who are with you and those who pretend to be. 

When I first actually met Larry all I knew was that he was going to marry my dear friend.   I was a little skeptical but really it was probably more protective.  I wanted to make sure that he was going to treat her well.  I wanted the ‘moon’ for her.  I earnestly prayed that God’s will would be done.

It didn’t take me long to realize that he was a great guy, that he loved her and would do anything for her.  

There were many times that Larry would come to church and Joann would be in too much pain to come.  He always asked for prayer for her.  I could see his love for her in the way he talked about her, in the concern that was in his voice, and in his desire for her to be pain free. 

Another thing that made Larry stand out was that he would make it a point to share with me something that ministered to him in the worship time.  (I usually led worship for the service he attended).   It didn’t matter if it was a song he knew or one he had never heard before.  God was touching him through the music.  

This was huge to me because so many men (sorry that it seems that I am stereotyping here but this is my take on it) think that worship is too long.  Here was a man that got what worship was all about.  I have song lists circled because it wasn’t just one song but the whole list that he loved.  

He also had a favorite hymn.  It just happened to me by mom’s favorite also.  He Set Me Free — now he is truly free from all pain.  

As he was leaving church he would most often thank Curt for being his pastor.   That is a footprint that forever stays on your heart. 

I had so hoped that God would heal him and let us have him longer.  Yet God’s ways are not our ways.  I don’t understand the reasons why but I am not God.   I know that God is in control. 

My heart goes out to my dear friend.   I know that God has her in the palm of His hand. 

Death is not the end.  We shall one day be reunited with all those who have gone before us.  The Bible tells us that to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.  Jesus is THE way, THE truth, and THE life.  Larry knew this. 

til next time

December 29, 2009 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, Pastor's wife, relationships | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

mink coat

God has an interesting way of doing things.  Many times I will just step back for a moment and stand in awe of what has just happened.  It has been my prayer lately to be more aware of God’s finger prints in my life.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  I do believe that God is in control and things happen for a bunch of reasons.  God is not some far off Deity that isn’t concerned about His creation.  He blesses in amazing ways.  Sometimes I am aware of His blessings right away.  It is my desire to be more and more aware of the wonders of God.

So here’s the story of the mink coat.

Before my father-in-law passed away there had been numerous challenges and situations that we were dealing with.  Life in the parsonage is not ever boring here.  In fact I was pretty much at my breaking point.  Yet God promises to not give me more than I can handle with His help.  It’s just that I really have no idea just how much I can handle.  Therefore there are  times I  think I  just can’t take one more thing.  Well, that is pretty much where I was at.  I was holding on to God tightly (Deut. 30:20 “…by holding fast to Him…)  and looking for that rainbow.

Then we get the news that Curt’s dad is at death’s door.  We begin preparations to head up north.  With four jobs that is not a simple task.  Before we leave we receive the news of his death.  We then make additional preparations as we know now that we will be gone for x amount of days.

I am more than a bit concerned about how I will cope.   It has been a most difficult couple of months.  Add to that all that a funeral entails and the fact that there would be no ‘wiggle room’.  Since we were staying with family, there wouldn’t be any alone time either.  I am most definitely a person who needs down time.  This had the makings for a disaster. 

My prayer becameLord please help me to not do anything that I will need to apologize for later.”   I prayed that a lot.  

(Due to a prior committment we took a trip to Des Moines in the middle of all the funeral preparations.  That turned out to be a huge blessing from God.  I was able to have lunch with a very special friend.  Only God could know just how important that would be.  He does make a way for us.)

cousins1After the funeral everyone but Diane stopped by the cabin.  Grandma was in her glory, going through and giving away some of grandpa’s things.  The grand kids drug out the sled and did some sledding.  It was a highlight of the week.  Curt’s brother and family are from Georgia, so it’s not like they are going to be getting back to the cabin anytime soon.  If ever again.  😦

As we were getting ready to leave, Grandma asked me if I was interested in her mother-in-laws mink coat?  I was sure it wouldn’t fit but I tried it on and wa la.  It fit!!   Her daughters are quite slender and Jan (daughter-in-law) is much taller with longer arms, so in this case I was Goldilocks and it was just right. 

It was later that it dawned on me that God had answered my prayer.  He had helped me to successfully not do or say anything that I would need to apologize for.  The mink coat is a warm (very warm) hug from God.  Now each time I wear it I am reminded that even in extremely stressful situations God is a present help and with Him I can handle way more than I thought possible.  It is just like God to go above and beyond the helping point right into the blessing point!!!

til next time

March 6, 2009 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, Pastor's wife, relationships, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

family

What a week.    It is one of those bitter sweet weeks.  It has been a long time since Curt’s siblings have been all together.  It was wonderful to reconnect and to take a walk down memory lane.   Yet, the reason we all gathered was because Curt’s dad went to his eternal home with Jesus on Tuesday morning.   Yes, it was a week filled with emotion.  (for more click here to read Curt’s post)  <– I am pressed for time and haven’t really sorted out my thoughts enough to write about them.

Curt gave a wonderful tribute to his father during the funeral.  He shared many of the dearest memories that each one had.  It made the people laugh and it made the people cry.  It was very well done and I was ever so very proud of him.  I know that his dad would have been too.

We put on a total of 1,747 miles.  That is a really long time to be in a car.  Yet Curt’s brother and family put on 1,000 miles more.  Oy!

I do think that I need a week to recoup from this past week.  The truth is though that time marches on.  It waits for no man. 

til next time

February 10, 2009 Posted by | relationships | , , , | 2 Comments

while I was busy

Life and death happen while I am running around making other plans.  I have been guilty of rushing around doing this, that, and 12 other things while not enjoying any of them.  Life is happening all around me and for all it’s worth, I sometimes miss out.

I have also been guilty of trying to do more things than I have time for and not doing what’s most important.  Then death happens and I am hit with the reality that there are no more phone calls, no more conversations, no more time for me to be a friend.   There isn’t another chance to say “I love you, you matter to me, I will cherish the memories of us.”

I got home from church today to get the news that my dearest childhood friend, who so bravely fought the fight against cancer, died this morning.  I won’t get that chance to return her last phone call.  It’s over.  It doesn’t matter if I have time now or not.

I can’t live in that place called regret.   It is so very unhealthy.  The family is in my prayers.  I will be forever grateful for the conversation we had, the memories that I keep in my heart.    However, it is a huge lesson for me.  One I would have thought I already knew from being in ministry.  One I guess I have forgotten along the way.

Keep the important things at the top of the list.  Do I send flowers now??  Why didn’t I send flowers or something crazy before??   Now I think of all the things I could have done that would have been cause for laughter.   Ah, the painful lessons we learn.

What’s important??  People are more important than things period.   Now I think of all those things that just had to get done.  Yet returning her last phone call trumps most of them.  

The older I get the more I will experience death of people I care for.  It is a part of  life, of growing older.  A dear friend of mine who is pushing 100 says that is one of the most difficult things about growing old (burying people you love).  Yet she is a grand example of how God comforts us in our time of grief. 

til next time

December 14, 2008 Posted by | life lessons, Pastor's wife, relationships | , , , , , | 2 Comments