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Who am I?

I know I wear a variety of hats in my life.  Most of them give me hat head so that I don’t want to take them off.  Nevertheless, I need to be ready to switch roles and I have put some hats on a shelf (pastor) or thrown them out (wife).

Often at work I am told that I am the mother hen in the student ministries office.  While I am older than those I work with, I really don’t feel like I “mother” them.  Well, maybe a little. But I am not sure if that is a bad thing or not!  I guess it feels like a derogatory term.  For one thing we all have a mother and don’t necessarily need another! Especially since I picture a mother hen as a person who cares for the needs of others in an overprotecting or interfering way.

Also, I want to partner with those I work with as a a fellow teammate/friend or as a coach and not as their mother.


 

 

 

 

 

 

I kind of think I am more like the little janitor guy at the end of the fractured fairy tales cartoons or the Carol Burnett as the cleaning woman graphic. This is also rather demeaning; not because I go around cleaning up someone else’s messes but because we live in a culture that does not value or treat this hardworking portion of the working class with respect.  The term janitor seems like a person to be pitied or who is ignorant, has failed or highly expendable. It is that embarrassing way that I feel when I tell someone I am an administrative assistant.  I guess, though, that it feels more authentic than being called a Smother Hen!

I wish things were different for me sometimes.  Don’t get me wrong – I am grateful for this job but sometimes the ways that I am treated seems very much like the caste system and I am at the bottom wrung. I really would rather have a better title, maybe even a different job so I could wear a different hat and throw out those with negative labels. But how?  How can I come across as someone not so pushy, less of a know-it-all, unintrusive and more caring, genuinely interested, dedicated to bringing out the best in others? Looking for a new hat!

Barnacles on the Ship of Life

So I know that I am getting older. No matter how I try to disguise it or ignore it, it is a real thing. There are things about getting older that are good, but this one thing is not. I went to my doctor this week to have her check some spots on my skin, only to be told that I have barnacles! Yes, she actually said that word! I told her it wasn’t very nice since this was my last visit with her/Kaiser (since my health insurance changes this week). Then I went home and looked it up and it is a real thing. What the heck?! I remember when I got my first opportunity to “join” AARP. I was only 26 and deeply offended. That feeling was nothing compared to being called an “old ship” with barnacles.

Seborrheic keratosis is the dermatological term that is synonymous with age spot or barnacle. They are benign and don’t evolve into cancer, yet they can make cancer detection more difficult. I know that a person does not have to be ancient to have them but their prevalence increases with age. The problem is that unlike other things that I had control over such as sun exposure and weather or diet growing up, these annoying and semi-parasitic creatures are not a result of anything I could have controlled. Rather, they are genetic! I was literally programmed to get them and there is nothing I can do to prevent or eradicate these growths. Thanks to my gene pool!

Most people would like to grow old; unfortunately, I was not expecting to get barnacles to show for it. If a person walks along the beach, barnacles can be found on almost every solid surface that gets covered by water: the hulls of ships, whales, the pylons of a pier. They are not dangerous but they do create a “drag” that slows down a boat. Isn’t that funny?

Well, I could move to fresh water since barnacles only like the ocean.  The trouble is that I do think I need the preserving qualities of salt! What to do!? Hahaha.  I will just grow old and ignore the barnacles on my hull!

I am reminded of the parody sung to the tune of My Favorite Things:

Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Cadillacs and cataracts and hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favourite things.

When the pipes leak, When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favourite things,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Hot tea and crumpets, and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heat pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favourite things.

Back pains, confused brains, and no fear of sinnin’,
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin’,
And we won’t mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.

When the joints ache, when the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I’ve had,
And then I don’t feel so bad.

Thanksgiving at my Brother’s house:

On the day of Thanksgiving my family was blessed:

with a 25 pound turkey

2 many cooks

3 kinds of pie

4 blended households

5 bearded men

6 grandkids present

7 coffee drinkers

8 sparkling ciders

9 side dishes

10 college graduates

11 thousand blessings

12 music lovers

I love my wacky family and being with them fills me up (whether or not we eat turkey!)

 

Mohler Thanksgiving 2017

This is instead of a Christmas Card!

mohler letter 17

The End of an Era

16 years and countless hours on a soccer field, dozens of pairs of cleats, shinguards and uniforms; lots of laundry, sunscreen and gas, and now it is all in the rearview mirror.  Clayton has played his last soccer game.  Oh, I am quite sure that there will be more games and soccer play in his future, but the “official” club, high school and NCAA College teams are finished. And it is time to hang up my “soccer mom” hat!

I remember the first season that he played and was one of the only blonde kids on the team.  The other parents called him Dash, after the kid on the Incredibles movie. He has had many wins and losses. He has had lousy coaches as well as kind and competent ones.  He has had yellow cards and a few reds, some deserved and some not, from referees who were both fair and idiotic.

He has made friends, learned how to be a team player and learned about countries around the world. He learned a good work ethic and responsibility.  I think that all the endorphins produced during Jim’s illness and death, helped Clayton through the very dark valley of grief.

I could go on and on.  It is bittersweet to be at the end and I wish I could do it all over again. Soccer certainly has shaped my son and me too.  I am blessed.

Jim is 62 in earth years

62 years old in earth time! I miss you every day! 7 years since he went to heaven. 2555 days. 61320 hours.3,679,200 minutes. Nothing in our lives is the same since he left except our love for him as a husband and father. I am not sure how time or events or anything else is measured in heaven; But here we now call your birthday Corny Joke Day!
1. How many tickles does it take to make an octopus laugh?
(tentickles)
2. Why don’t they play games in the jungle? (too many cheetahs)
3. why didn’t the toilet paper cross the road? (It got stuck in a crack)

4. How do you find Will Smith in the snow? (You follow the fresh prints!)

Anyone else?!

 

 

Freedom through obedience


I had the privilege of sharing at the HS Girls Fall retreat last weekent.  The theme was Captive, based on 2 Cor. 10:

 For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight withare not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

I closed out the time with the last part of the passage.

Here is a very brief summary of what I shared.

The greatest invasion in modern history was D-Day, 6/6/44 when General Eisenhower said, “Let’s go.” 10, 000 men sacrificed their lives for freedom. And yet, there was a greater invasion when God invaded earth in the person of Jesus. Nothing compares to that sacrifice made for our freedom.

Focus on the truth

We are already free, but we do not always think like we are. The truth is that we fight from freedom and not for it.  Thoughts are powerful and Satan would like us to keep listening to his lies, instead of replacing them with the truth.  Satan would like us to think that he has a grip on us, but it is gone.  He hangs on to territory he knows is no longer his. Just as Hitler battled for 2 more years after the invasion and did not give up what the Allied forces did not take, we have to take ground.  the armor of God is only for the front – we are to be on the offense!!! Thoughts are powerful whether they are true or not.  Prov. 23:7 says that a person is as she thinks she is. Sometimes we listen to lies enough that we cannot discern them from reality.  To tear down strongholds and experience freedom we have to listen (actively) and obey. To obey is better than sacrifice (1 Sam 15:22). By example, we believe all kinds of things that are not true – God is not committed to our happiness; that is our country.  God is committed to our holiness.  Holiness is what makes us happy!

Rule your Mind or it will rule you.

The cross means that the only foothold/stronghold Satan has left for humanity is getting people to give in to sin.  He has lost the war and he knows it!  If you are a christ follower then he placed the flag for His country on your heart; the only battle Satan can still win is the battle for your mind. Obedience is the best way to change your thinking. If you are struggling with your faith and your joy, it is because you are building your life on man’s empty philosophies rather than on what Christ taught (Col. 2:8) Paul encouraged the Philippians in 4:8 to think about things that are pure, excellent, right, true, praiseworthy, lovely, admirable, noble (Pert Plan – shampoo for the mind). A little league coach asked his team what their most important piece of equipment was and after hearing the players answers he said, “It is your mind.”  Similarly the Dodgers lost game 7 to the Astros in the second inning, but they had to keep playing to the end.  Hitler knew that all was lost when the Allied troops won the stronghold at the beaches of Normandy, but he kept fighting.  The greatest weapon you have is your mind and letting it be conformed through obedience.

Elevate, Exclaim and Eat. (Worship, shout Praise and Study the Word) Joel.3:9,10

For every New Testament principle there is an Old testament story.  Deut. 10 is the story about Jericho.  The Israelites walked around the walls of the city once a day silently for 6 days and on the 7th day they walked around 7 times and turned and shouted and the stronghold fell.  The walls were demolished through worship of obedience and the Word. Speak the truths about who you are out loud.  Rather than talk about your weaknesses, discouragements and sicknesses, we are told to claim the promises of scripture to be free (Deut. 30:11,14). Declare the truth. Reaffirm your love for God.  Lean in to Hope. Pray. Surrender to the Spirit.

Endure to the End – Every thought everyday!

The story of Gideon in Judges 6 tells of how Gideon, who was not a strong warrior at the start, became obedient to God and tore down the Baal idol with 10 servants (that means it had to be big!).  Yes he did it in the night because he was afraid of the people, but the point is that he was diligent to obey God. We are told to keep going.  Never give up.  Everyday God will give us what we need just as he provided manna in the wilderness.  Paul tells us to press on.  Don’t let anyone rob you of your joy, your power, your influence. Keep the loins of your minds girded. Every time we give in to sin or give way to a defeated attitude a brick is added to the stronghold, the high tower of the enemy.

 

Seven

After Us

I heard a statistic when I was first widowed that every cell in my body would be replaced in a seven year span, so that none of my cells now would ever have “known” Jim.  I googled that and it is not true!

Seven is just a number and on the other side of the grave no one probably even counts! Yet, it feels like more than just a number. 7 years full of birthdays, soccer games, cups of tea, travels and more have passed since Jim went home to heaven. 7 years feels like such a long time and yet it is such a small amount of time too.

Pick a number, any number and chances are it will be a seven. Perhaps it is because it is biblical (7 days of creation, 7 feasts, 7 branches on the candlestick, 7 days siege of Jericho, 7 years Jacob worked for Rachel, seven seals, 7 bowls, 7 churches, forgive 7 times 70….); it occurs more than 700 times!

It is the “most” prime number my math teacher said; because you cannot divide or multiply it within the first 10 numbers it is unique. The optimum number of hours of sleep is 7 hours each night. There are 7 colors in the rainbow. 7 Harry Potter books are in the series.

The night Jim died we were both transformed. Jim was transformed to the past tense on this earth and yet he is more present than I am; he lives in the presence of God! I too began a transformation too. I would never be the person I had been the day before. I have learned some things since that night(more than the 7 listed here), but what remains steadfast is the reality:

  • that God in control,
  • that He is still good,
  • that He can make something good out of the worst situations,
  • that grief may endure through the night but joy comes in the morning,
  • that He sees me and hears me – God is with me to the end
  • that there is hope and joy available everyday
  • that I will see Jim again.

I remain adamant that cancer will not define me, but the death of my husband does define me, and it continues to refine and change my perspective, my life and my relationship with God. As personal as grief is, I resonate with others who are on the same journey. Grief is weird.  It follows me everywhere and replays like background music in my thoughts. My main goal in life shifted as I learned to carefully unwrap the gift of sorrow and carry my grief. I want the world to see joy, hope and gratitude triumph over despair.  I continue to be transformed as I build a different life after “us”.  I have amazing friends and family, a good job that replaced my career, and Jim’s legacy to keep alive.

 

S since 2010

E eternity is

V visible

E everyday

N now

ABC’s of Gratitude

Every year of our married life Jim and I had the discipline of writing down the things we are thankful for every November.  Since meeting with Colleen for the past few months I decided to commit to memory her Alphabet list of Bible Verses this month.  I did adapt a few of the verses from ones for kids to a few I need to commit to memory (bolded).

Here they are:

A – Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Matt. 7:7

B – Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved – you and your household. Acts 16:31

C – Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matt. 11:28

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

E – Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:17

F – For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

G – Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

H – Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away. Matt. 24:35

I – I can do everything through Him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

J – Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Heb. 13:8

K – Be Kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Eph. 4:32

L – Love the Lord you God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Luke 10:27

M – Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Heb. 12:14

N – Now you are the body of Christ and each one of you is part of it. I Cor. 12:27

O – Do not be Overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Rom. 12:21

P – Praise the Lord. Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in His commands. Ps. 112:1

Q – The Quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools. Eccl. 9:17

R – Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Phil 4:4

S – Shout for joy to the Lord all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. Ps. 100:1,2

T – Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight. Prov. 3:5,6

U – Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
— 1 Peter 4:9

V – Verily, verily, I say to you, He that believes in me has everlasting life. John 6:47

W – What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his own soul?   Mark 8:36

X – Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 3:3

Y – You are my friends if you do what I command. John 15:14

Z – Zealous for Good Works Titus 2:14c

 

Grateful for the power of the Word!

Breathing Room!

I spoke at a parenting seminar on busyness.  Here is the outline I passed out.

Thrive: Busyness and Family

 

B Busyness is Basic

Matt. 6:31-34 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

 

R Ruthlessly Eliminate Hurry

 Ps. 90:10-12 Our days may come to seventy years,or eighty, if our strength endures;yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. If only we knew the power of your anger! Your wrath is as great as the fear that is your due. Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

 

E Example of Jesus

 Luke 5:16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

 

A Arm Yourself

Ps. 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!

 

T Take it Back

 Luke 16:13 No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

 

H Habits that Build Happiness

1 Tim. 6:6,7 But godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

E Enjoy Life/Family

 Eph. 5:15-17 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.

Ecclesiastes 6:9 Enjoy what you have rather than desiring what you don’t have. Just dreaming about nice things is meaningless–like chasing the wind. (NLT)

 

Discussion Questions

 

  1. Talk about one of your favorite memories from 2017.
  2. How much breathing room do you have in your schedule? Your finances? Your relationships?
  3. Talk about the happiest times of your life. What was your schedule like at that time?
  4. Do you prefer a clutter-free life or do you tend to gravitate toward messiness? How does this preference affect your daily life?
  5. Do you currently have a Sabbath day? What are the benefits , if you do?
  6. What is challenging about taking off a day from your responsibilities and obligations?
  7. What makes it hard to unplug?
  8. What is one thing you need to add to your schedule? What is one thing you need to subtract?
  9. Are you a homebody or do you like to get out and do something whenever possible?
  10. How much do you tend to be at ease at work but restless at home because work gives you a sense of progress and accomplishment? How often do you feel devalued because you chose to stay at home instead of work?
  11. Think about the way you balance your work and home life. To what extent do you find yourself “absent” from important family events and promise to do better by pointing to a future that will make up for the past?
  12. Have you ever wished for a 25 hour day? What would you do with that extra time?

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