Category Archives: making an impact

Who Is Your Neighbor?

Posted in The Grip – August 2, 2012

I have tried my best to stay out of the Chick-fil-A debates over Mr. Cathy’s position on gay marriage via Facebook and other social networks.  So far, I have been successful.  Many have asked my opinion.  Quite honestly, my opinion doesn’t matter.  When people ask, “What do you think about that?”  I simply respond, “I don’t.”  But for what it’s worth, I will continue to eat at Chick-fil-A, because I like their food.  I will also continue to buy Apple products (a company that supports gay marriage,) because I think the iPhone is the greatest phone ever.  This is all irrelevant to me.

What is relevant to me is this scripture Mark 12:30-31:  “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

That is it.  It’s important that we don’t forget the second part of this scripture.  If it is equally important to the first, then that is a pretty big deal.  We need to love people.  Period.  I recently read an excerpt from a church bulletin that pretty much sums up who our neighbor is.  Kudos to “Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Community” for embracing this scripture in such a bold way:

We extend a special welcome to those who are single, married, divorced, gay, filthy rich, dirt poor, yo no habla Ingles. We extend a special welcome to those who are crying new-borns, skinny as a rail or could afford to lose a few pounds.

 We welcome you if you can sing like Andrea Bocelli or like our pastor who can’t carry a note in a bucket. You’re welcome here if you’re “just browsing,” just woke up or just got out of jail. We don’t care if you’re more Catholic than the Pope, or haven’t been in church since little Joey’s Baptism.

 We extend a special welcome to those who are over 60 but not grown up yet, and to teenagers who are growing up too fast. We welcome soccer moms, NASCAR dads, starving artists, tree-huggers, latte-sippers, vegetarians, junk-food eaters. We welcome those who are in recovery or still addicted. We welcome you if you’re having problems or you’re down in the dumps or if you don’t like “organized religion,” we’ve been there too.

 If you blew all your offering money at the dog track, you’re welcome here. We offer a special welcome to those who think the earth is flat, work too hard, don’t work, can’t spell, or because grandma is in town and wanted to go to church.

 We welcome those who are inked, pierced or both. We offer a special welcome to those who could use a prayer right now, had religion shoved down your throat as a kid or got lost in traffic and wound up here by mistake. We welcome tourists, seekers and doubters, bleeding hearts … and you!

There are times I am lovable.  There are times I’m not.  Don’t believe me?  Ask those closest to me.  But, I am thankful they still love me and accept me in both conditions.  May we discover who our neighbor really is.  And, may we all love them as much as we love ourselves.

No other commandment is greater than these.

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Filed under God Stuff, Love, making an impact, Relationships

Jehovah Elohim (Part One)

“If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein

I wish this quote meant as much to me when my older two were smaller as it does now. I was a bit of a realist. I didn’t want to “do” Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny, because I didn’t want to feel I was lying to my children. I didn’t want to make them believe in something that couldn’t possibly happen. Kris disagreed with me. Even my father, a pastor, disagreed with me. So, every year, Santa comes down a chimney here. And, this year, an Easter Bunny will leave little gifts.

I didn’t tell them an Easter Bunny gave them anything last year. I told them it was from us. John Henry came home from church in tears. “Why didn’t the Easter Bunny come see us? He came to see all of the other kids.”

The realist in me just wanted to tell the truth. And, I certainly didn’t want to take away from the true meaning of Easter.

But, this idea of “realism” can do just that. It can take away the meaning of Who God really is.

Jehovah Elohim.

Creator.

Jehova Elohim formed the world with His words. Since we are created in His image, we are also creators. Likewise, we form our world with our words. We create the chaos. We create the blessings.

With. Our. Words.

So, if God, by nature, is a creator, that means He is creative. Yes?

Creativity is inspired. It’s inspired that believing that ANYTHING is possible. And, when we believe that anything is possible, we aren’t afraid to create. To do. To be.

As a mother, I am making some changes in how I inspire my children. We will read fairy tales. We will read stories in the Bible that, well, seem impossible. We will get excited in a few days when a little bunny delivers surprises.

We are creators. Inspired by believing in the impossible. Inspired by believing we can make a difference in the world. Inspired by the One who thought of us long before He created this incredible world.

“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.” – G.K. Chesterton

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Filed under Chasing Dreams, Kid Stuff, making an impact, Motherhood

One Shot.

Sometimes in the middle of raising three children, I stop and think how easy my parents had it bringing up just one.  I’m mean, it was always two adults to one child.  How hard could it have been taking me to my weekly gymnastics that I quit as soon as I started?  Just one kid.  And, a sweet, compliant one at that.  It’s my blog, I can lie if I want to.

It’s not the easiest making sure we invest into each of our children in a way we feel is “enough.”  As a matter of fact, we rarely think it’s enough.  We just trust that God has given us everything we need to accomplish everything we need to as parents.  And, we trust His grace to take care of the rest.  ‘Cause you know….I have one shot at this parenting thing.

One shot at making sure this tender heart stays tender, so he can be the face of Christ to those who need Him.

One shot at showing this smart girl how there are no limits to what her determined, fun spirit can do when it is submitted to His Spirit.

One shot at teaching this fearless, wild at heart, (sometimes spoiled) kid three that God wants to use His adventurous heart for His Kingdom. 

One shot.  That’s it. 

I don’t remember all of the extra-curricular stuff my parents made time for.  But, I do remember the life experiences they turned into discipleship opportunities.  I do remember God always being the center of every single decision.  And, I remember looking at my parents so many times and seeing what the love of Christ looks like. 

I hope that’s what my three remember.  I hope they remember Jesus in our house. 

And, maybe when they are thirty-six years old sitting around a lunch table with Kris and I, they will still be amazed at the amount of Jesus pouring from our lives. 

Just like my parents continue to amaze me.  Even if they did only have one kid.

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Filed under God Stuff, making an impact, Motherhood, parenting

Remember the Why.

Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you.  Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God.  1 Peter 5:2

From the time I was a young girl, I knew God had called me to be a pastor.  Even then, I didn’t find it unconventional for a girl to assume a role usually appointed to men.  It just felt natural.  I would carefully place all of my stuffed animals in rows, lead praise and worship, and then preach to them.  Then, when I was in the third grade, my class was instructed to come dressed as what we wanted to be when we grew up for Career Day.  Me?  I wore a pinstriped dress and carried my Bible.  Because, I was going to be a pastor. 

I have since learned that there is a lot more to ministry than standing in front of people and unpacking a message that God has worked inside of me.  Which, ain’t no walk in the park, I gotta tell ya.  Mucho respect for my dad who does it every week with a delivery, anointing, and passion that I long for.  ‘Cause, dang that’s hard. 

Back to the point.

Ministry is taking care of the people that God puts into your life.  It’s stepping outside of your own need, your own want, and investing yourself in others.  It means that some nights, you go to bed, and you are mentally, emotionally, and physically spent.  It means you don’t let that exhaustion or sacrifice of personal time make you bitter.  “Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly.” 

And, the best way to keep your heart and mind in check is to remember why you are doing it.  It’s not just for them.  It’s not just for you.   But, it’s because, you are eager to serve God. 

Sometimes, I need to be reminded of the why.  Sometimes, we all need to be reminded of the why…whether we are pastors or not. 

You might be a teacher in a classroom dreading the return of August.  Dear Teacher, you are going to change some student’s life and tell her she has a gift to write.  Thank you, Mrs. Simonton. 

You might be a public service man or woman putting in a lot of hours for little pay.  Dear Public Servants, thank you for helping our tornado victims recover from terrible devastation and restoring hope to them.

You might be a nurse working crappy hours on a night shift.  Dear Wendi, thank you for taking such good care of me, and setting my mind (and pain) at ease.  You make every single one of your patients feel loved. 

You might be a mother staying home with your children every single day.  Thank you, mothers.  You are raising world changers. 

Whatever you do, it’s so important to always remember the why

I remembered my why last night.  To serve Him.  Not because I love Him.  But because, He lavishes His love on me.

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Filed under giving, God Stuff, life, making an impact, Writing

Right This Minute.

Right this minute.

I know a woman bed-ridden with a cancer that is trying to consume her body.  And, it wrecks me.

Right this minute.

I know a woman who is putting every single ounce of trust into her Savior as she comforts her two daughters who probably don’t understand why their father has walked out.  And, it wrecks me.

Right this minute.

I know a man who is caring for a wife who has been diagnosed with a rare form of dementia while struggling to keep his business afloat.  And, it wrecks me.

Right this minute.

I know a woman who doesn’t comprehend her value and is selling out to lies that she will never be good enough.  And, it wrecks me.

I know every single one of these people.

And, these things are happening.  Right this minute.

And, it wrecks me.

It wrecks me until I remember…..

The Roman Centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant, and Jesus just spoke the words, and He was healed.

And, I remember that God will be a father to the fatherless, and He will redeem everything that is lost.

I remember that all things are possible with the One who provides for us and never leaves us and goes with us all the way to the end.  And, the end is always glorious.

I remember that I am the arms and feet of Christ, and I can love with His amazing love so that person hurting sees only God lifting her up, holding her in His arms, until she knows how He loves her from the inside out.

You see, nothing….NOTHING is beyond repair.  Nothing is beyond redemption.  Nothing is beyond the MIRACLE.

And, I won’t stop praying.  I won’t stop serving.  I won’t stop fighting for people.

Because, I am a WARRIOR.

And, He is KING.  In whom ALL things are POSSIBLE

Right.  This.  Minute.

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Filed under disappointment, God Stuff, making an impact, prayer

Keep Getting Out of the Boat.

In small group last night, we were talking about getting out of the boat and the risks involved.  I retold that story in Matthew where the disciples were crossing the lake and a bad Mama Jama storm hit.  I’m sure they were shaking in their fishing sandals.  Then, Jesus showed up. 

27 But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!”  28 Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.”  29 “Yes, come,” Jesus said.  So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus.  30 But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted.  31 Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt me?”   Matthew 14:27-31

For Peter to walk on the water, God had to show up.  God will show up in your life and tell you to get out of the boat and trust Him.  But, often times, we don’t get out, because we are afraid.  Afraid we may make a fool of ourselves.  Afraid of what others will think.  Afraid there is too much financial risk.  Afraid we are really not seeing God in it.  Afraid we may fail.  Afraid we may sink. 

But, in order for our lives to affect eternity, we have to be willing to take risks.  When God shows up, we have to get out of the boat no matter how uncomfortable it might be.  There will be times we will take our eyes off of Christ and sink.  There will be times we may become too self-sufficient and no longer dependent on the One who showed up in the first place and sink. 

Even still, we never stop getting out of the boat. 

Sure.  Staying in the boat is comfortable.  It’s safe.  It provides security.  But, it’s really a false sense of security.  The real security comes in knowing that you are doing exactly what God has called you to do.  The real contentment comes in getting out of the boat and keeping your eyes on the One who will make it all possible. 

You might argue, “But, Peter sank!”  But, Peter freaking walked on water!  And, our small group consensus was the dude succeeded! 

Maybe, God is asking you right now to risk something and step out of the boat.  That means He has showed up.  So, trust Him.  Step out.  The conditions may not be ideal.  My good friend, Michael Thurston reminded us last night that it wasn’t calm, still waters Peter stepped out into.  Those were some pretty dang rough waters.  So, don’t wait for perfect conditions.  Instead, wait for God to show up.  For Him to whisper to you.  For Him to keep presenting you with the same opportunities over and over again as if to say, “Hey!  I’m not dropping this!  Get out!  Do it!” 

He loves you.  And, you already have everything you need to do all He has called you to do. 

Get out!  Do it!  And, if you sink, allow God to dry you off and grow you.  Then, get out of the boat again.

And, again. 

“A ship in harbor is safe – but that is not what ships are for.”  – John A. Shedd

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Filed under Chasing Dreams, God Stuff, making an impact, Spiritual Journey

The Pastor.

We picked up our wings.  That’s code for there is some football game thing, and I need food to bear through it.  Sorry, Falcons fans.  No.  Really.  Sorry.  Anyhoo, a very good friend of mine (who is also my hair stylist which is code for VERY good friend) sent me a text to pray for her baby boy.  Poor thing had slipped out of his big sister’s hands, hit his noggin’, and scared his momma to pieces.  ‘Cause we mommas are good at getting scared to pieces.

I called her back immediately and prayed with her over the phone.  Then, I knew I couldn’t just sit and wait on her to call me back from the Emergency Room.  And, after I told Dad what was going on, he got all, “Um, I’m there pastor, I need to be there.”  So, off we went together.

I watched Dad pray for this sweet, baby boy.  Then, as we were leaving, I watched him pray for someone else. 

It was an elderly lady waiting to be checked after a fall.

“Has anyone prayed for you?”  He asked her.

“No, sir,” she told him.

So, he prayed.

As we drove away, Dad said something to me that has stayed with me.

“One of the greatest joys of being a pastor and doing what I do is getting to pray for people.”

I’ve never heard Dad say, one of the greatest joys of being a pastor is growing the largest church.  Although, I know that changed lives matter to him. 

But, I know that people matter to him most. 

I left that hospital with a full heart and a holy perspective on what it means to be a pastor. 

I hope I still say after 35 years in ministry, I GET to pray for people.

As for the sweet, baby boy?  He is just fine.  And, that scared momma?  Well, I don’t even think she noticed the Falcons lost.

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Filed under making an impact, prayer