Living Life in a Fish Bowl!

Gloria’s take on life.

25 years – really?

This month we will finish our 25th year at our current church.

Lifeway Research suggests the average pastor’s tenure in a local church is 3.6 years – not even 4 years – other research suggests between 5 and 7 years. Wow!IMG_20160201_095513_479In the beginning it looked kind of like this picture.  We knew we were on the road God led us to.  We were moving forward, but we couldn’t really see very far down the road.

Staying 25 years means we know what it is like to go through the fire and not leave.  We have witnessed the worst in people and we have seen the best in people.  We see babies grow up and become solid Christians.  Lives are being changed and God is at work.

Personally, I believe there are way too many pastors that leave too early.  Just like there are parishioners that get hurt and church hop, pastors can do the same thing.  The other side is true too.  Sometimes pastors stay too long.  Listening to God’s direction is vital.

I remember a time of great personal hurt that I begged God to move us on.  I wasn’t surprised that people could be so mean, but I had never had it so blatantly directed at me.  I know what the enemy was trying to do and later looking back I saw how God used it.  (Years later, I just happened to stop at a garage sale that this individual also stopped at – still being here allowed her to make amends and move forward.  I assured her I had long ago forgiven her, now she needed to forgive herself and accept God’s forgiveness.  I wonder how many ministers, leaving too soon, never get to experience this?)

For much of our time here either both of us or at least one of us has had employment outside of the church.  This is a challenge that is hard to explain.  It is doable but not easy.

Over the years, I have worked at seven different jobs outside of the church.  This was always out of necessity.   The church was doing what it could, but if we were to stay then additional money needed to come from somewhere.  God said stay and He blessed me with some great temporary jobs.

Yet, there would be times when I would find myself struggling with the demands of my current employment, the responsibilities at the church and raising our boys.   During one such time I was asked how long I had stayed at any one job, but I could not count the ministry.   What kind of a question is that?  My primary job is ministry.    I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for ministry.

Ministry is so much more than a job.   It is a calling.  It is my heart’s cry.  I believe that where ever you are, as a Christian you should be letting your light shine.  I just happen to be called to shepherd.

Col 3:23 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” 

Ministry is so much more than a job but it is still a job.  What is the longest I have stayed at any one job?  As of this month – 25 years.  That is a real testimony to the power, love, and grace of God!

The danger of staying an extended period of time is to lose the freshness of what God wants to do.  How to avoid that is to guard your quiet time with God, make the most of opportunities that come your way, (most people know that if they come to me about a prayer need – I pray right then and there with them) be teachable,  and be transparent. Be real and people will want what you have — a relationship with the living God.

Whether it is your 1st year or your 25th year – take that step of faith.  It may look different each time but step out of the boat.

live out loud

What did we do on the 25th year of pastoring at our rural Iowa church?  In December we had our first service in a neighboring town.   We were either going to sink or walk on water.   We believed that God was opening the door and we were stepping through.

There is a reason why younger people do most of the church planting.   Adding a third service to our weekend, especially one that includes set up and tear down is a bit hard on this body.  My husband keeps telling me that God’s grace is enough and it is.  With God’s help we are walking on water.

25 years and I can say without a doubt that boredom has never been an issue.  I am pretty sure that word isn’t even in our vocabulary.  I have the opposite issue – sometimes I just want a time out.  The battle gets pretty intense.   It is then that I am reminded –   “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.  No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier.” 2 Tim 2:3-4

25 years ago, God called us to rural Iowa.  How long will we stay?  Until God says “It’s time to go.”  In the meantime we will embrace the journey, following God’s lead, and look for opportunities to let His light shine.  Keeping it fresh and vibrant!!

P1080733

til next time

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February 2, 2016 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, ministry, pastor, Pastor's wife, relationships, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

what goes around – comes around -really?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  Luke 6:31

As a child, I thought the Golden Rule meant that people would treat me how I treated them. It didn’t take long for me to figure out that just didn’t work like I thought.

I remember talking with my dad and trying to explain to him how this just didn’t work.  I was friendly and kind – in return the other person was snobbish and cruel.    Evidently that is how she wanted to be treated so that should be how I treat her, right?

Then I would get the ‘you only have to answer for your own actions‘ speech.   (Romans 14:12)  He sure said that a lot.

Somewhere along the way it stuck.  I am responsible for my behavior – my actions.  No matter what someone else does or doesn’t do, I will answer for my choices.  How I treat someone will be a reflection of who I am not of who they are.

What about  ‘you reap what you sow?

Yet we know that the Bible tells us

For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’  John 4:37 (NJKV)

Now the Bible does talk about reaping what you sow.  Check this out.

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”  Galatians 6:7-8

What choices are you making about how you live your life?  Which one are you feeding?  the flesh? or the Spirit?

You’ve heard it said that ‘what goes around comes around.’  Yet, there have been things that happened to me that I have not done nor would even dream of doing to someone else.  I think we all have experienced that to some degree.

I offer grace and mercy to others because that is what I want others to give to me.   It is the Golden Rule in action.

I have told my husband that sometimes I feel like there is this bulls eye on my back or a sign that says open season on Gloria, take your best shot.  Yet, I absolutely believe that nothing, NOTHING happens to me that doesn’t first go through God.  He is in charge of my life.  He is in charge of the calling He has placed on my life.  He will bring beauty out of ashes. (Isaiah 61:3) He will turn this around for good because I love and trust Him! (Romans 8:28)

Joyce Meyer Ministries puts it this way:

“You know what tenderizes you? Your own personal pain. You go through something that is so gut-wrenchingly hard that you think you can’t stand it. But when you come out of that, you’re gonna be more tender-hearted. You’re gonna cry easier. You’re gonna care about the hurting more quickly. You’re gonna be more careful what you say to people.”

Pain can make you bitter or better.   I will take better every time.

So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”  Romans 14:12 (NKJV)

So I will continue to treat people the way I would want them to treat me. Even if, or maybe especially when, they are mistreating me.  I will not repay evil with evil, but remember that good overcomes evil. (Romans 12:17 & Isaiah 1:16-17)  With God’s help, I choose good.   I will be intentional about letting God’s love shine through me.

How about you?

til next time

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May 22, 2015 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, ministry, Pastor's wife, relationships, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

when I sit in darkness

I was sitting in the church office last Saturday night after everyone had left the Bike Show when I sent out an SOS to God.  I was to preach in the morning and I had nothing.  I had all sorts of topics floating around in my head earlier, but now I had nothing.

It has been a rough couple of weeks.  My mother-in-law went to be with Jesus.   The Bike show had to be rescheduled due to rain. I was drowning in paper work.   I am still dealing with tennis elbow.  I was physically and emotionally exhausted.

That is when I felt the nudge to pick a card out of my bread basket.

bread basket

(I bought this box when I worked at the eye clinic. After a phone call with an insurance company, I would reach for a scripture to redirect my thoughts.  It worked beautifully.)

just so happenedMicah 7:8b “When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.”

The room wasn’t dark, but my soul (will, mind, and emotions) felt surrounded by darkness.

Darkness can come in many forms.  Here are just a few forms.

pain
heart-break
pressure of deadlines
health issues
situation that looks bleak
loneliness/sadness
betrayal
tough situations with no good options
finances
seeing your child hurting and knowing you can’t fix it
loss

God uses circumstances in our life to open our eyes to a deeper awareness of His presence.  It seems in my life, the larger the trial – the greater God’s grace, goodness, and strength is being poured into my life.

Sunday morning before church I received a text from a dear friend.  All it said was Rom 15:13.  It was a big warm hug from God and a reminder that I am loved.    See that is my go-to scripture.  I was about to preach on hope and hadn’t included it.  God doesn’t leave us hanging.

“Now, may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”  Romans 15:13

I shared Psalm 130.  I encourage you to read the whole thing as it is powerful.  For this blog I am centering on the key verses I addressed.

“1Out of the depths I have cried to You, O Lord.
….

I wait for the Lord, my soul does wait,
And in His word do I hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
More than the watchmen for the morning;
Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord;
For with the Lord there is lovingkindness,
And with Him is abundant redemption.”  Psalm 130 NASB)

On Spring break I took the opportunity to see the sky before the dawn.  Sometimes there was the light reflecting off the moon. The gulf was stunning.   Sometimes it was pitch black.   I could hear the waves but I could not see them.  Other times there was such a thick fog that the buildings security light could not even be seen.

When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light to me!

Sometimes it can seem like morning is never coming.  Keep holding on to God.  He is an ever-present help in trouble.  (Psalm 46:1)

“I waited patiently for God to help me; then he listened and heard my cry.  He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path, and steadied me as i walked along.”  Psalm 40:1-2 (Living Bible)

Sometimes it seems like we are crossing a mud pit.  Keep holding on to God.  He will steady you.

“Our soul waits for the Lord; He is our help and our shield.”  Psalm 33:20 (NASB)

Wait  –  I love Webster’s first definition.  “remain in readiness or expectation”

How do we wait patiently?  We do it with God’s help.  We are given plenty of opportunities to practice the discipline of waiting patiently.

Our God is not hindered or limited by the things that we see that make us feel helpless.  Let that sink in.  Then pray.  Maybe there is nothing we can do physically but we know the One who is able to do more than we can ask or think. (Eph 3:20)  Our God is greater than whatever it is we are facing, our children are facing and/or our nation is facing.  Prayer is powerful!

“When I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me.”

God uses circumstances in our life to open our eyes to a deeper awareness of His presence.

til next time

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May 9, 2015 Posted by | ministry, sermon notes, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

impact

My husband and I pastor a small town church in rural Iowa.  There have been many changes in the 20+ years we have been here, both in the church and the community.

When we first came here the church was on the edge of town with a house on one side and fields on the other three sides.  In the fall we would be surrounded by corn.  It truly was rural Iowa.

Now one field has been turned into a car dealership and houses have lined the back of the property.  We still have a field on one side that has had hay planted for the last couple of years.  The owner is holding out – for what exactly – I am not sure, but it is prime property.

Recently I started a new Sunday School class.  Since we are short on teachers I have combined classes.   While I do think that there is a lot to be said for having classes that are specific for a particular age.  I also think that sometimes we separate too much.  There is a lot to be gleamed from having people of varying ages in a group.

As I thought about what it was that I wanted to focus on I came up with four things.

1.   First God loves me — what does that mean?

2.   Loving Jesus  — how do I do that?

3.   Loving me  — why is this important?

4.   Loving others  — why and how?

It is my desire that as a group we will grow in our understanding of God’s love, fall in love even more with Jesus, learn to truly love ourselves and then take all of that and Rock our World with love.

I just couldn’t come up with a group name.    I think  Facebook is a wonderful tool.  I put it out there that I was looking for a name.  I got a lot of really good ideas.  Our new name — Impact!! It is exactly what the group is about – making an impact on our little corner of the world.

impactThat is really what it is all about.  Having a deeper understanding of just how much God loves us and then letting His love flow through us.

We have seen many changes in the past 20 years.  The best changes have been those involving people who are letting God work in them and through them.  Truth is we impact people everyday.  Hopefully that impact is for good.

til next time

February 22, 2013 Posted by | ministry, spiritual reflections | , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

getting out of Dodge

Sometimes you just have to get out of Dodge.   This is true for many people.  It is especially true for ministers. It seems there is always something that needs attention or one more thing that needs to be done.

On Friday, I talked Curt into getting out of Dodge.  It didn’t take much convincing.  We had recently been discussing the lack of spontaneity in our life.  When you both work two jobs, there isn’t room for much spontaneity.

Here is the plan.  Yes, with my husband you still need to have some sort of a plan.

It was a beautiful day for a bike ride.

I would pick where we eat lunch and our first stopping place.  He would pick the next stopping place.  Then it would be my turn and so forth.

My pick for lunch was Taco Bell.   I love Taco Bell!!

Then it was off to the local zoo.

Last time we were there I couldn’t decide if I wanted to start a new collection.

I have fallen in love with the giraffes.

See my baby giraffe?

A new collection has been started.

Our living room now has a wild animal theme.  It works!!

Curt’s turn to pick.

His pick was this little ice cream parlor.   It is family owned and has been open everyday for the past 100 years.

The owner was a hoot!  His wife came in before we left and whispered to me that he was 90 years old and not ready to quit.

He makes the ice cream and candy.  It was wonderful.

I love fountain pop and this was the real deal.

From there I chose the Amana’s.

It was a bit of a drive but it was such a beautiful day for a bike ride.

As we were going down the highway at 70 mph,  the semi we were following blew a tire.  Scary!! This was a first for us.  It was loud!

Thankfully, Curt doesn’t follow real close and he was able to swerve around the tread.

Peace Park!

Just what I was looking for when I felt the need to get out of Dodge.

Walking around the Amana’s was a big help too.

The weather man was wrong again.  It wasn’t to rain until midnight.  The sky was changing.  Do we head for home or continue?

We decided to go ahead and eat supper with the hope that the storm would blow over.

Curt’s pick for supper was one of the local restaurants.  German food at its finest.

However, the rain didn’t blow over.

In fact it was a cold rain.  We were quite a ways from home.  It was a long drive.  Yet I wouldn’t trade the day for anything.  What’s a little rain?

til next time

September 15, 2010 Posted by | just thinking about stuff, motorcycle | , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 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

pk’s – preacher’s kids

As a pastor/pastor’s wife I invest much of my life in people. Investing in my children is a top priority.

When our boys were just babies, Curt and I decided that we would make it a priority that our boys not get mommy and daddy leftovers. One way that we did this was to intentionally plan family time. Friday nights for a very long time were family night. Very rairly did we do anything church related on Fridays.

If you have to put your family on your calendar in order to have family time then do it. For most of us it won’t just happen. We are surrounded by more to do than we have time for.

Business trips became family trips. I had no problem taking the boys out of school to go to conventions with us. When they were little, I skipped the day time meetings and we hung out at the hotel. We also would miss one of the evening service at those meetings, to do something geared just for them.

Kids taking second place to ministry is very common. Yes, there have been times when we have had to postpone our family plans for something church related. One does not plan ahead for funerals or hospital trips. However, kids pick up real quick on whether or not church (ministry) is more important than they are.

Priorities for me are in this order 1st – God, 2nd – Curtis, 3rd – my boys, 4th – ministry. It’s when I get those four things turned around that I see my stress level go up. After all if God is not first then I am not operating in His strength.

If I put the boys before my husband then not only would I be setting a bad example, but it would not be healthy for my marriage. If ministry comes before Curt and the boys then others will think that it is ok to not make their families a priority.

Also it is important to remember that preacher’s kids did not pick this life. They were born into it. It is so important that pk’s do not get mommy and daddy leftovers.

til next time

 

March 18, 2009 Posted by | living in a fish bowl, Pastor's wife | , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments