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Martha, Martha, 0hhhh….Martha!

I wrote this for the Whatever Girls page originally and wanted to share it here also.

I tend to be an over-planner. That over-planning side of me has worked to my advantage when it has come to organizing a party. However, our greatest gift can be our biggest downfall.  I can get so wrapped up in every detail, that I miss enjoying the event, and I actually take offense if someone is not putting in as much effort as I am.  That is something I really need to work on.

This last June my daughter graduated and I could put my party planning skills to work.  We planned a joint party with some of our best friends at their house. My sweet friend knew I loved this kind of thing, and so let me run with it.

My husband is wise, and he said to me as the party drew near, “You have yourself so wrapped up in this, that you are not giving anyone else anything to do, and I don’t want you getting so caught up in this that you miss enjoying the party, or get mad that we are not helping.” What he said made sense.

The night of the party we were way ahead of the game. Everything had fallen into place: the weather was perfect and the yard was spectacular.  Krista and I had a plan in place as to who was going to do what during the party.  That night we were given an unexpected gift.  Krista’s sister and a friend of ours wanted to see Krista and I enjoy the party, so they planned on taking care of everything that night.  Okay, I have to admit I almost hyperventilated as I let go of the control.

Recently, I was reading the story of Mary and Martha and I saw I was a Martha. I can be so worried about all the details, that I miss the amazing party or fellowship that is going on right in front of me.  The name Martha means Lady of the house, and I have that down to a fault.

Luke 10:38-42 (NIV) As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha wasMartha-branded distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Krista is a Mary, and Mary means wise woman or lady.  Krista knows there is work to be done to prepare for the guests, but she has always had a good balance of knowing that to be face to face with her guests, enjoying their presence, is more important.

As moms, it is so easy to get caught up in the Martha role that we miss out on the most important things.  Don’t forget to take time with your kids, doing nothing but spending time with them.  Don’t be worried about the fingerprints on the windows, someday they will be gone. Better yet, make fingerprints on the windows with them as you watch the snow with your kids.

As moms, we have the greatest ministry, our children.  When we show our children we have a healthy balance in our time, they will learn from that.  If they see the dishes sitting in the sink while we sit with our bible open because we are drawing into Jesus, we are showing them the importance of fellowship with the Christ.  Something Mary understood.   Yes we do need to get the jobs around the house done but we can’t forget to have a healthy balance.  Our children watch and learn from us in all we do.  When they see us just sit at the foot of Jesus in prayer and study, we are making a lasting impression on them.

I have to say I had the most amazing time at the party when I stepped away from the control and just relaxed.  Dancing with my mom and my daughter was so much fun; I had a great time in fellowship with our guests.  It was a perfect night and I could have missed out.  I am learning to find a healthy balance of being both a Mary and a Martha.  What about you?  Are you a Mary or a Martha?

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That one there is mine

I was lucky enough to get to know my grandparents. I had three of the most wonderful grandfathers ever. My great-grandfather was with us until I was 19 and I cherish the time I had with him. As kids we would sit in his little cabin at night and laugh until our stomachs hurt. We would mess up his hair and he would poke us with his Lignavita brush that he used to scrub his back with while taking a bath. I remember the name of the brush because grandpa Travis explained that Lignavita is a kind of wood that wouldn’t get water-logged and sink. His cabin at Priest Lake had the most wonderful smell to it and there was a little stool with a bell on it that we would pretend was a horse. When we were with him he made each of us feel special. Those were some of my favorite memories as a child.

Grandpa Travis’s son in law was my Dad’s dad. We called him Granddad and he had the biggest hands ever. He would hook his fingers together so his hands made a seat and he would bend over and hang his long arms down so you could sit on his hands and hold on to his arms like they were the  chains of the swing. Because he was so tall and so strong he would give us kids the best ride as he swung us back and forth. He also had his special chair and there was always room on his lap for a kid or two. When you were in his lap you would wait for him to give you “Whiskers.”  Whiskers is what we we called it when he would rub his 5 o’clock shadow on the side of our check and neck. We would laugh so hard because it would tickle. I remember wanting him to stop because if felt so funny but yet loving every second up it as I laughed because it was such a special time with him. I can still hear the sound of his voice as he would say, “Let me get in there, you need some whiskers.”  In a group of grandkids he made each of us feel like we were the only one there.

My mom’s dad was whom I got my sense of humor from.  I was blessed to have him with me into myphoto[1] forties and he was a character. He would introduce himself as “Bob…. Bob with one ‘o’.”  He had a line for everything and I use them still. My favorite because it seems to apply to me on a regular basis is: “You can’t be smart and beautiful on the same day”. Let’s just say I find myself having a lot of beautiful days because I can do or say some of the dumbest things ever. I was close to all my grandfathers but my grandpa Bob and I had something very special. At the hospital one night when he was sick I will never forget what he said to the nurse. He said, “you see that girl right there” as he pointed at me. “She is my girl, my special one.” I was overwhelmed with love by him at that moment. I was “HIS GIRL.”  That night was when things began to come to an end for my grandfather here on earth and it would be the beginning of his eternal life with God. He would in the months to follow go to meet his maker.

I spent a lot of time with my Grandfather but, that night we really began to talk about life, about morals, and about God. My grandfather let me know he believed in God and he was ready to see him. He never missed a chance to tell me how much he loved me and he told me he trusted me to take care of Grandma. To have someone you love so much trust you and love you with so much love right back is the greatest gift ever. My grandfather was a strong man and he would do anything to protect me. I remember standing behind him in college as he put a landlord in his place that was not doing his job or obeying the law. He stood there and said, “No one messes with my granddaughter like this. From now on you will deal with me.” My grandfather was my hero. He told me that he felt children were a blessing and that they should be loved and cared for. I have the scripture that says children are a gift from God (Psalms 127:3) hanging on my wall because of him.

God is like that. He wants to stand in front of us like my grandfather did for me. He wants to protect us and he wants to be able to look at us and say, that one there is mine! He wants to hold us in his arms and share those special moments like I had with my grandfathers.

If you will let him, God will make you feel so special that it will be like you are the only one there is. He wants you to feel like the Apple of his eye.  Psalms 17:8 Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings

To feel loved like that gives a person the strength to hang on in the hardest times. Knowing we can run to our father in heaven and knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that He is there waiting to scoop us up into His loving arms is such an amazing feeling. When we are hurting we can hold tight knowing He will step in front of us and say, “ No one treats my child like that, and you will have to go through me.” When we fall down, it is He who will pick us up without judgment, dust us off and put His healing love over our pain.

I miss my grandfathers. Each made me feel special, in a different way. I look forward to seeing them again when it is God’s time for me. Until than I cherish the memories of those three special men and I give thanks that my God, my father in heaven, is there for me always to make me feel so special, so loved, so protected. As life gets hard at times I know that God is saying that one there is mine, she is my special girl. He has got my back always. How he longs to be there for each of us like that.  He longs to be there for you if you are willing to let him

Dedicated to LeRoy Arthur “Roy” GRAYHEK (10/20/1922 – 02/11/2014), The loving grandfather of my sister in Christ, Erin Bishop.

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The Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom, episode 4

Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends John 15:13.  To lay down your life for another is the most selfless act there is.  Our next women in our Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom served her our country in the military.  Those who serve in the military are willing to give up their lives for the country they serve.  They miss their children growing up at times, they give up the comfort of their homes and the brave men and women of our military face things that most of us will never really understand.

Our next Real Housewife of God’s Kingdom is Toni. This amazing women served in the Air Force for 24 years.  During her time of service she served mainly in Europe (Italy and England) but she also spent some short periods of time in the middle east (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Oman).  Not only did she serve in the Air Force, Toni was asked to be 1 of 10 people chosen from the Air Force to be a trainer in Navel Intelligence and she worked for the NSA (the national security agency that works hand in had with the FBI and the CIA) Toni has a list of other jobs she did during her time in the service.Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 5.07.47 PM

“My first job was enciphered communications analyst. Basically I was an Russian Analyst and when the cold war ended and was retrained as Operations Resource Manager. I was in charge of pilot training flying and flight pay. I deployed under this job for Desert Storm, Desert Shield, Operation enduring Freedom”.

Toni told me that she did not choose to go in the military.  She had a full ride scholarship to USC to major in journalism but when her mother got sick the money that was put away for her college was used for the care of her mother. Having to give up her college money made Toni angry so she joined the military. I appreciate her honesty.  She told me her love for the military did not happen until 8 years after joining.

“When you deploy and see the devastation of other countries no matter what the American consensus is you realize you are doing the right thing. For others to have freedom”.

All of Toni’s children were born while she was serving.  She had a child born in Naples, one in Washington DC while working for the NSA, another in England and her last was born in Washington state. Moving was hard  for her kids but they were fortunate to see other countries and experience things that other children only got to dream of. Toni says that now two of her children are home bodies and refuse to move. Her third child who is a daughter joined the military because she missed the traveling, stability and sense of duty the army provides.

1058693_10153766929890296_1360305468_nOne of my favorite things about this series is seeing what the favorite scripture or passage is for each of the different women. Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the lord always. I will say it again REJOICE is the favorite scripture of this Real housewife of God’s Kingdom. Toni shared with me that this scripture says it all and she feels that God has taken her, a broken-down woman who felt like her life was completely over and turned her into someone who rejoices in His love daily. She says, “He doesn’t care where or what I have done in the past he still loves me and I am beautiful”.

Toni prays daily for all Christian men and woman to feel the redemption that she rejoices in everyday and her love for others can be seen in the different ministries she is involved in.  She is a active part of Women Strengthening Women which is a bi fold ministry based out of CA serving woman in a outreach program/prison ministries for the families left behind during incarceration. Toni is also working on her own ministry, A Woman’s Heart, which will be registered as a full ministry in late 2014 or early 2015.  This ministry is based redemption and focus on woman’s restoration to God’s intended purpose.

I am thankful for women like Toni who sacrifice so much for the safety of the rest of us.  Please do not forget to be giving thanks for those who serve in our military.  Because of the brave men and women like Toni, we can sleep soundly at night.

Please don’t forget to give thanks for all the brave men and WOMEN who have served our country.  To those who gave there lives so we could be safe, Thank you is not enough.  To see a little history on women in our military watch this video.

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Confessions of a Pastor’s wife

Guest post by Lori Bradeen of City Life Church

When I was young, I remember how odd it felt to run into a teacher away from the school environment.  Somehow I thought they only belonged at school.  The image of them having a normal life like the rest of the world never occurred to me.  They were teachers, and that was the only way my brain wanted to see them.  A teacher friend of mine recently told me that she caught some of her kindergartener students giggling over the fact that they saw her, their teacher, eating lunch.  They thought it was funny that teachers actually eat.  So, I see the phenomenon is still alive and well today.DSC_0144 - Version 2

I experience this same phenomenon when while in a casual conversation, people find out I am a pastor’s wife. There is an invisible shift in the atmosphere of any given conversation once people learn I am “in ministry.”  A work acquaintance of mine used to send me funny emails, until that is, the day he discovered I was a pastor’s wife. Perhaps he is worried that I will take offense at something he sends.  I miss the unhindered candor that once existed when he still thought I was normal, like him.

Some of the myths people believe about me as a pastor’s wife include: my house is always clean, my attitude is always divine, my kids are perfect, and my marriage is always bliss.

So, in keeping with Kim’s current series, The Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom, I thought I would spend this guest blog post sharing with you, my reality.

I will admit that as a Christian I have always wanted to live my life in a way that would honor Jesus.  But, that conviction happened the day I made him Lord of my life, not the day I became a pastor’s wife. I think most Christians feel the same conviction whether or not they are in full time ministry.

Let’s start with my house.  I have invisible Zones.  Zone 1 is what you see when you walk though the front door (like if you happen to stop by unannounced).  Zone 2 is the rest of the house.  Zone 3 is garage.  Zone 4 is yard and garden.  There was a time, 5+ years ago, when I was a stay at home mom that all 4 zones could be found show ready much of the time. Actually, that’s not quite true, maybe 50% of the time.  However, now, working full time, that just isn’t my reality.  A clean house for me today means Zone 1 is clean.  The rest of it ebbs somewhere between decent and disastrous.  Myth one, busted.

My attitude.  Some people think if you are a pastor’s wife you ought to always have a positive faith filled attitude.  I admit, I do feel a sense of responsibility to speak faith, courage and hope in people’s lives.  I do want to see them have faith to believe God is bigger than their circumstances. But sometimes, I find myself in the middle of my own pity party or even just a stinky attitude.  Today while in the checkout line, the checker called for a second checker.  I was relieved because I was in a hurry.  The second checker came up, ignored me and took someone who wasn’t even in line yet. The nerve.  I was irritated.  Myth 2, busted.  (I could render many more bad attitude examples but this guest post has a word limit). When I start fretting over my first world problems, which I do, I have a remedy that works every time.  It’s cheaper than a therapy-shopping trip, and healthier than over indulging in chocolate.  I will share this secret with you:  My remedy has been to keep the “Book of Martyrs” next to my bathtub, (my favorite place.)  I just read a few accounts of how real people have been persecuted and even executed for their Christian faith over the years and miraculously my perspective and attitude are humbly adjusted.  I will admit, sometimes I keep chocolate there too.

My kids.  I will never forget the time when we were on a leadership retreat with our pastor friends and our young boys (all pastor’s kids) were playing together.  Four little rough playing boys under 10, quickly turned competitive and became full on fighting complete with “I’ll kick your ass!” coming from one of our little angels.  I remember the college age babysitter saying to us with disgust, “I thought your kids were supposed to be Christians!”  Myth 3, definitely busted.  Our kids are all young adults today and, it’s fun to remind them of that story because now they are all close friends who follow Jesus.  Perfection has never been the goal.  I don’t expect my kids to make it through life without recognizing their own need for the grace of God.  In fact, that is why I feel so blessed, because the fruit of their lives demonstrate to me that they too have been touched by the amazing grace of God.  But it is a journey and every child of a Christian parent must meet Jesus for him/herself, otherwise all they have is empty religion.

My marriage.  I suppose that it is fair to expect a pastor and his wife to have a solid marriage.  Of all the above assumptions, this, I suppose is the most reasonable.  And yet, I am not sure even Christians agree on what a good marriage actually looks like.  Over the years I have had women share their disappointment as they compared their marriage to what they imagined mine to be like.  While exposing my marriages faults has never felt wise, in such moments, neither does allowing people to believe that real Christian marriage is somehow a life long scene from a chick flick romance.

Solid does not mean absence of conflict. Solid does not mean we enjoy the same movies or that we gush over each other on Facebook.  Solid means we base our marriage on something that is SOLID.

And so the Solid in our marriage comes from our commitment to walking out our faith in Christ together. That is a good thing because in my marriage, conflict is pretty normal. We are two very different people, passionate about what we believe God has called us to build.  The meshing of ideas and wisdom is work and sometime the sparks fly.  The good thing about conflict is that it demonstrates that we are both engaged.  I worry when couples check out, and stop communicating, not when they have conflict in communication.  I admit there is an art to conflict that leads to greater unity rather than dissention.  After 25 years, we’ve learned a few things along the way.   So I guess I’ll throw in one of my tips on marital conflict: Own your ugly.  You read it right. We are learning to “own our ugly.” It’s another way of saying,  “stop pretending to be more righteous than you really are. “  It’s actually very freeing to just be yourself, ugly and all, own it and deal with it honestly in the midst of conflict.  Sometimes what would normally turn into a fight can become a source of humor if we are willing to own our ugly, laugh at it and let our spouse laugh along too.

Learning to capitalize on the beauty of little opportunities can be the difference between a solid marriage and one where the grass looks greener elsewhere.   For instance, my husband and I rarely enjoy the same kind of movie so when I sit though his war movie or he sits though my educational documentary, it is an intentional act of love.  Such things ought not to be overlooked.  It is these intentional moments of kindness that keep our marriage mojo alive.

I share these snippets of my life with you not because I think my life is overly interesting, quite the contrary.  I want you to know that YOUR LIFE is noteworthy.  Your relationships, your struggles, your victories and even your failures all have redeeming value that can bring hope to someone.  Lessons of love, forgiveness, courage, strength, and compassion are only as far away as your willingness to look from another perspective.  Look at your life through the lens of God’s amazing grace. I promise, the view is beautiful.

If you’d care to hear more about our journey, my husband recently shared his own testimony and you can watch it at this link under “Van’s Testimony”  It is a great story of a normal man with normal struggles who gets ahold of an extraordinary God that changes him and calls him to a life of ministry.

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