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Make a Memory

DSC_7167By Kim Chaffin, The Midlife Domestic Goddess.

Originally written for the Whatever Girls Ministry.

“A mother holds her children’s hands for a while, but their hearts forever.”

–Author unknown

My children are adults and one thing I have learned over the years is that making memories doesn’t need to cost a lot of money. Some of my best memories didn’t cost anything at all. They are moments in time, locked in my heart to hold on to forever.

This summer has been a very special time for my daughter and me. She is home from college and God has blessed me with the opportunity to live at the lake with her and work on my book while she works her summer job.

On one of her days off we had the most amazing day. It could not have been any more perfect. Other than the little bit of gas we used in the car, some money for a coffee and Gatorade, no elaborate expense was needed.

There were forest fires in the area and the firemen had cookies on their wish list. In the kitchen cupboards we found what we needed to make oatmeal cookies and even a package of muffin mix. The two of us baking together is quite funny. I am not exactly the best cook and my daughter somehow ended up dumping brown sugar into one of the kitchen drawers. We laughed while we baked. With our goodies in hand, we set out on a nice drive around the lake.

We grabbed some bottles of Gatorade for the firefighters and dropped all our stuff at a place called Autumn’s Loft. Autumn’s Loft was full of treasures and we wandered around the store sipping our yummy coffee drinks.

As we drove home my daughter yelled, “Pull Over!” and we waded into the river. When we got to the cabin I got the crazy idea to jump into the lake in my clothes. I ran down the dock fully dressed and when my daughter saw me, she yelled, “You won’t beat me!” Off the dock we went in our clothes. The people in kayaks must have thought we had lost it as we went down the slide in our clothes rather than our swimsuits. Oh how we laughed as we swam around!

Side by side we sat on the porch that afternoon. She painted while I finished writing my book. To hit ‘save’ on Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 8.59.47 PMmy finished manuscript, with my daughter by my side was priceless. The day seemed to move slowly and we had time for some lawn golf, corn hole, and a walk with the dogs. Through out the day she would hug me and in those moments she was my little girl, not a 20-year-old woman, working a full-time job and leaving at the end of summer to continue her education.

Life moves so fast and we need to remember to slow down and make memories with our children. The bond of a mother and daughter is so important. She is no longer my little girl but she will always be my daughter. Looking back over these 20 years the memories that really stand out to me were the simple things, the ones that don’t cost much if anything at all.

What special memories are you making with your children? Take time to stop and play with your daughter (do this with your sons also). Be silly. Run off the dock in your clothes or have a picnic in your living room. Stop at a fruit stand along the road, grab a treat and sit in the shade while you enjoy it together. Let her choose the music in the car. Take turns reading out loud to one another, play a game or color together.

When I visited my daughter at college we spent a night coloring princess pictures. Hearing her tell me how pretty mine was made me smile. But most importantly talk to your daughter. If you don’t build a strong relationship with her when she is young, it will be harder to get her to talk with you when she is a teenager.

Make memories with her that will last a lifetime.

Thank you Lord for the moms who are reading this. Some of them may be struggling in their relationships with their daughters right now. Lord I pray that you will give every mom who reads this one special moment with her daughter(s) and with any sons she may have. Even in the middle of the struggles that they may be having, bless them. Father our children are the greatest gifts we could ask for and parenting them is one of the hardest responsibilities there is. Lord we look to you for wisdom and strength. Help us Lord to make special memories with our children. Help those who are struggling in their relationships with their children right now. Give them a sweet and special memory to hold onto and in those memories may healing be done.   Amen.

For more stories like posts like this check out the Whatever Girls 

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Clean your own closet

By Cassie of Cassie’s Corner

CassiesCornerButtonSo often we find ourselves as parents scolding our children for behavior that we see as wrong, unruly, or down right disobedient. Sadly, we discipline our children for simply being a child. I recently had a conversation with my daughter regarding her behavior and lack of respect. When I asked her why she kept acting out and would not listen to my directions to clean her room she answered soundly, “Daddy doesn’t put his laundry downstairs. Daddy doesn’t put his shoes away.” And on she went with a ‘laundry’ list of behaviors my husband and I do that we should not do, things we say that we should not say, it was a brutal list of our behaviors as parents that were rubbing off on our children. I listened to her speak and I silently wept as I realized that I had become a ‘Do as I say, not as I do” type of parent.

Some would say that as a child, my “sweet-face” should not be allowed to tell us Mt St Helens(her parents) how to act or what we are doing wrong. They are welcome to their opinion as we are welcome to parent our children as we see fit. In our home our children are free to communicate whatever they are feeling as long as they do so with respect and at the appropriate time. Our daughter was holding up a mirror and revealing to us how her and her younger brother view my husband and I as parents, as examples.

Proverbs 22:6(NIV), “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

All I could think about as I listened was the above verse. I kept asking myself what kind of legacy am I teaching my children. I wondered, how do my children view their father? I wondered how our son and daughter viewed God, if we were a reflection of His love for them while on earth. My heart broke. An innocent conversation about being good stewards of what God has blessed us with (clothes, toys, beds, a home), turned into a self-reflection that was seriously ugly.

Thankfully, our children forgave us for being poor examples in some areas and thanked us for being great parents in others. We asked them for forgiveness and they asked us to forgive them. We prayed as a family and asked God to look at our hearts, to search us and to know us and to reveal himself to us. The night ended with us listening to worship music and being grateful for open communication.

Once the children were asleep my husband, Geoff, and I processed the conversation and how it made each of us feel. I reminded him that the whole thing started over a mandated instruction for our 8-year-old to clean up her closet and put her clothing where it belonged. Then, I said, “As parents, we need to clean out our own closets before we reprimand our children. I was referring to examining our own behavior before we react to our children living as we have shown them. As parents, self-reflection is always a good thing. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s down right nasty. We were both very sad and pondering how we had allowed ourselves to be so consumed with life that we had forgotten our most precious positions; living as children of God and being parents to our most priceless gifts from our father above.

I laid in bed that night asking God to make me the kind of mother that my children could be proud of. The kind of mother that they would want to have at school and around their friends. I asked him to open my eyes to areas in my life that need Him the most and to start a work in me that would filter into my children and their children after them. He is so very faithful to answer our prayers.

Exodus 20:6(NIV), “but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”

Gram H Legacy 2My hope is that every person that reads this article will stop and think about the example they are to the next generation(s). Parents or not, we are all examples to someone. What type of LEGACY do you want to leave?

 

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“Women In Worship” part 2 (Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom)

Welcome back to “Women In Worship”

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.33.35 AMToday I want to share with you another amazing woman of God. This post is going to be different from my others and soon you will see what I mean. Meet Kari who along with Whitney from yesterday’s post is on worship team at my church. She got her bachelor’s degree from Chapman University in Orange, CA, majoring in Music Therapy, with a minor in psychology and she has been married to her husband for 7 years. She says that her husband is, and I quote, “One of God’s very obvious demonstrations of extravagant love for me in this life”

Since returning to her walk with Christ 7 years ago, Kari has had the chance to serve in the worship ministry at Living Faith in La Mirada, CA. and she found time to serve at an outreach ministry to battered, abused, and homeless women and children at the Women’s Transitional Living Center in Orange County.  Now Kari serves on the worship team at City Life Church in Spokane, WA along with her husband Mark.

For now, her most important ministry is her children and you can really tell that her heart for worship is pouring into the lives of her kids. Just recently when Kari was leading worship my mom got my attention to look across the church. There in his aunt’s arms was Kari’s oldest who is almost going to turn 3 singing all the words to “Forever Reign” and he was not just singing the words you could tell he understood what he was singing. Kari by putting her family first she is serving God in the most powerful way and I think there may be a future ministry leader in her little boy. Kari shared with me that some day when her children are older and in God’s perfect timing she hopes to start an outreach for abused/homeless/mentally ill women and children, much like the one she served in during her time in CA.

This past Christmas our church had its first children’s program thanks to Kari. It is just one more way God has her serving his kingdom.Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 12.03.29 PM

As I wrote at the beginning of this, I am writing about Kari differently than normal. That is because Kari gave me such powerful words about the importance of worship that I don’t want to change a thing. She has a wonderful teaching that everyone can learn from so without further ado I am turning this over to Kari, my first guest writer within in a post I am writing. May her words write a new song upon your heart and give you a new perspective on the importance of worship.

Why is worship important to me by Kari Villarreal.

“We all know there are many ways to worship God. We worship Him with our lives, our work, our finances, our devotion, our time, our relationships…we can commit anything we do unto Him as worship! The value and importance of worship through music has several facets. My pastor in California always reminded us as we would begin corporate worship that God inhabits the praise of His people (Psalm 22:3, KJV). What an amazing thing!

The definition of ‘inhabit’ is, “to occupy as a place of settled residence or habitat; to be present in or occupy in any manner or form”. So when we praise Him, His very Presence actually takes up residence in those praises! Worship through music is one way we welcome His Presence into our places of worship…and there is nothing greater in this life than being in the very Presence of Almighty God! I love to imagine, as I look out over a body of believers united in praising God as they sing worship unto Him, seeing His Presence dwelling there in the room as the words and music are lifted up to Him. Jesus actually “hangin’ out” in the words that leave His people’s mouths and float just above them…maybe it sounds kind of strange to some, but that’s just a way that I visualize this very cool truth.

The other important aspect of worship through music that I want to address here is related to the first. So, God inhabits the praises of His people…and where His light is, darkness is driven out. I was in a season for several years of battling depression and anxiety. Part of this is biological/hormonal, but it is certainly spiritual as well; ‘darkness’ is how I have described it (and I’m sure anyone else who has walked through it could say something similar). During this season, God has shown me in many times and in many ways how worship to Him is a weapon against the darkness that fights to consume me. Most days, in order to keep my heart focused on Him as I go about taking care of my husband, my 3 ½ year old, my 1-year-old, and my home, I keep worship music playing and am singing along with it. I have found it keeps my mouth and mind busy at the same time I offer praise and indeed, my God inhabits that praise, driving away the darkness that pales in comparison to His glorious light.

Screen Shot 2014-05-28 at 11.51.40 AM

Photo credit to Tricia Marker, City Life women’s retreat

It is difficult to give any kind of abbreviated writing about worship for me. Worship through music (one of the many ways, of course, to worship God) has been such a hugely important element in my walk with Christ and is so multi-faceted. In my short life I feel like I could already write a book on worship—not of all that I know, but of all that He has done through it and in me. One of my pastors used to say, “Worship is a response.” A response to Jesus who He is, what He has done, His love for us…(the list goes on and on). When our lives are personally touched by the Creator and Savior of mankind, there is a response that comes genuinely; that response, in whatever form it takes, is worship. The challenge for some Christians (myself absolutely included) is to always be in that state of awe over who Christ is, so that our lives become a response—worship. He has done for us, we respond in worship. We love because He first loved us!

The bible talks so much about praising the Lord with song and instruments, singing and shouting, crying and bowing, dancing and kneeling. I think this ties right in to worship being a response. As God has created us each so uniquely, He has opened the door for our worshipful responses to be unique, genuine, and true to how He has created us to worship Him.

There’s a trap we as believers can fall into, that says worship should look a certain way. That certain way varies from church to church and denomination to denomination. We’ve all been in different types of worship services. Maybe it was a little too conservative for your taste. Maybe to the contrary, you thought people were too “free” in their expressions. Maybe it was a simple acoustic service with only a guitar, a singer, and a djembe. Maybe it was a full on 15-piece rock band. I’ve been there too. You’re out of your comfort zone or preference for worship music. The amazing thing is that when His people are gathered in spirit and truth to lift up and exalt the same God that dwells in each of them, His very Presence is there! When He is present, not much else matters. Not that when we worship Him, it is at all about us, but in His fullness, as we pour out and offer sacrifices of praise and adoration, we can fully expect to receive because that is the heart of God. Our hearts have to remain humble, open, and in awe of our God in order to genuinely worship and to receive.

This is a lesson that I am continually learning—letting go of my comfortable worship and seeking to exalt Him above ALL, regardless of the song, the surroundings, the volume, or the instrumentation. From the little progress I have made, I encourage you to step out on a limb and offer your life as a response—the response that He is desiring from you!

I came across a quote the other day that said, “When we worship the Lord, we release the emotional or mental burden that weighs us down. It is swallowed up in the awesomeness of God.” Yes! I thought. This is exactly one of the many reasons that worship is important. When I go before the Lord God Almighty to exalt Him to His rightful place, my burdens become so small in the view of His glory and majesty! –Kari.

I hope you take these powerful words of Kari’s to heart and worship God without holding back. “Step out on a limb” as Kari said.

Until next time on “The Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom”, may you be blessed by the Love of Christ.

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Act 2 “Preachin’it and Teachin’ it”, Episode 6

59020_4508193394536_906363613_nToday we finish episode 6 with Act 2 of Teachin’ and Preachin’.  If you did not get yesterdays post you can use this link to Act 1.

Pastor Karli’s story about listening to God is a beautiful testimony but, before we get to that let me first set the stage and get you acquainted with our next Real Housewife of God’s Kingdom. She is a mother of 3. She has 2 boys; one who is graduating from College and another who is a junior in College. The youngest is her daughter, a senior in High School. This June she will celebrate 25 years of marriage to her wonderful husband.

Karli spends many hours each week as the Kitchen Coordinator at her daughter’s high school and after that job is done, she puts her dual degree from Eastern Washington University in Microbiology and Medical Technology to use as biology and chemistry tutor

Both Karli and Dawn (see Act 1) have very powerful testimonies and I wish I had more time to tell them. Sadly, you get the summarized version of both these incredible ladies.

Karli was involved with a local deaf church where she taught, and preached to the deaf. She has participated in a mission trip to Dominican Republic to assist in the establishing of a deaf school and a new deaf church there. At her present church she was a Missionette leader, worship team member, and currently an adult Sunday school teacher.

I asked her when she knew that she was to become a pastor and Karli shared with me that is has been a journey to this place…

“A journey of many ups and downs, many experiences. Questioning and lots of time before God in prayer brought me to the place to answer this call. A pastor, whom I respect as a friend, mentor, as well as a spiritual father, saw something and encouraged me to continue throughout the years.  While my children were in high school, a stirring began in my heart that told me that it was time to pursue the answering of the call. I attended our church bible institute and completed it in 2 1/2 years. Recently, I have completed the credentialing process and am now a licensed minister through the Assemblies of God.”

Karli is not the head pastor at her church but she is in a supportive role to her pastor. She told me that she would step in and assist him in whatever needed to be done as The Lord leads and she currently teaching the adults Sunday class and occasionally Wednesday Night as needed. On Monday nights this real housewife of God’s Kingdom blesses our bible study with her love for the Lord.

Besides being a Pastor, Mom, Wife, Tutor, and running the kitchen at the school, Karli finds time to read, decorate cakes, do some one on one mentoring and she loves sports. Sounds like a lot of moms’ right? Things are not always what they appear to be however, Karli also has a 75% hearing loss in left ear and 80% loss in right ear. It was caused by rubella in her mother’s first trimester of her pregnancy. This was discovered after her family moved back to the states from Chile. Karli would then attended an oral deaf school where she received daily intense speech therapy. “Lip reading came naturally to me during this time” she said.  In 1973, Karli was mainstreamed into the public school system where her speech improved so much that people couldn’t tell that she is hearing impaired.  I can attest to that. I was blown away when I realized this. I still have to remember to look at Karli when we talk because she can so easily appear to have no hearing issues and I am gently reminded when she give me the signal to look at her.

Today I am going to wrap this up differently than I have done my other episodes. Today I want Karli’s powerful words to be the last thing you read. I hope to see you back next month on the Real housewives of God’s Kingdom and I leave you with this…..

I asked Karli to give me her favorite verse and she could not nail it down to just one. She says, “There are many favorite verses that I have and each one applied to each season or time in my life”.  For this however she choose Isaiah 30:21 “Whether you turn, to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it.”

“You see, I have been deaf since birth.  God has blessed me with residual hearing that with hearing aids, I 4561_1068094313910_7828890_nam able to hear most of everything.  My eyes do most of the listening for me through lip-reading”.

A young man once asked me, “If you’re deaf, how can you hear God’s voice?”

“I told him that there are no barriers when it comes to hearing His voice.  God speaks to us through the ears of our heart.  His voice is gentle, compassionate, loving.  He speaks to us through the Holy Spirit.  He will speak to us when we come to Him anytime, anywhere. Just come as a child.  He will not force His way to get you to hear Him. He patiently and eagerly waits for us to come to Him.  It is when we listen closely to His voice and obey Him; we grow in our relationship with Him.  I may have a physical hearing loss; I can hear Him by His Spirit within me.  As we listen more and more, his voice becomes unmistakably clear and able to resist the enemy. Let nothing stop you from spending time in His presence and listening to Him.  He wants this so desperately. He is waiting.  Won’t you go and ask Him to speak to you and help you to hear for Him at all times. A treasure is waiting to be opened.”  Pursue Him! Hear Him! He loves you!

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Episode 6, Act 1 “Preachin’ it and Teachin’ it”

Welcome back to the Real Housewives of God’s Kingdom.  In our last episode we met two women who literally gave of themselves for the goodness of another.  They both gave a kidney to a total stranger and gave them the gift of life.

In keeping with the idea of giving oneself to another I want to introduce you to Pastor Dawn  and Pastor Karli. Dawn is not a stranger to my Heartfelt Ramblings page.  She was my first guest writer when I kicked my page off in the fall of 2013.

Now let me start by saying I know these women personally and God has used them in very big ways in my life. So may I have your undivided attention, insert drum roll… Welcome to Episode 6 “Preachin’ it and Teachin’ it”

Did you catch what I said at the beginning?  They are PASTORS. These two women have been called to give of themselves to serve others. Now we are all called to give of ourselves yes however, some people are called to be pastors. There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. 1 Cor 12:4-6

579189_438861032830506_512536406_nDim the lights and ready on set….Enter Pastor Dawn.

Those of you that know Dawn, will agree with me, dynamite comes in small packages.  I have been blessed to listen to Dawn speak and she may not be much taller than the pulpit but when she speaks you know that God is using her in a mighty way.

Dawn told me that she knew she wanted to be a pastor from the age of 8 but that in His timing He would grow her with marriage and motherhood first.  Along the way God would also walk with Dawn as she faced some tragedies.  It was not until she was in her mid-30’s that she would get to start her studies.  I met Dawn, as she was finishing up her schooling in 2002.  Dawn was one of the women that God used over weekend retreat where I would give my life to Him.

As I type this I can’t help but smile when I read Dawn’s favorite verse. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”  I am smiling because thankfully God had some big plans for me the weekend I meet Dawn.  His plans for me have truly given me hope for my future and Dawn says that the verse 
reminds her, “He is always with me and it is my go to verse”.

Dawn is a commissioned pastor and she did her studying through the Christian Church/DOC through their Licensing/Commissioning Committee in the Northwest Region. That process took her 3 years before she was granted a license. On top of that there were readings and reports to do. Dawn currently lives in the Midwest and in the Midwest Area/Mid America Region she has monthly mentor meetings. Currently Dawn is enrolled in classes through Grand Canyon University and through Mid America School of Religion.

If I were to pick a song to describe Dawn it would be

“Hands and Feet” by Audio Adrenaline

I want to be your hands

I want to be your feet

I’ll go where you send me

After being commissioned she was an Associate Pastor at Kennewick First Christian for 2 years, then moved to Ephrata, Washington to Memorial Christian Church for 7 years as solo pastor/youth pastor/secretary and then moved to Missouri to pastor 2 yoked congregations. Dawn is now the solo pastor with a staff of a secretary and janitors

I asked her what she has learned as a pastor and challenged her to sum it up in 1 paragraph and we can all learn from what she said.

“He never gives up on us no matter where we are in our lives. Don’t fear to share your story and be transparent. Through tragedy, death, fear and triumph, joy and hope, He is my all in all, my Abba.”

Dawn’s sence of humor can been seen when she talks about her family. She calls them the “mix n match crew” She has a 
38-year-old stepdaughter in Nampa, ID
 and 27-year-old son who is a Staff Sgt in the Army National Guard and has seen 3 tours. He just recently transferred as a guard to the Airway Heights Prison in Spokane. 
Next in line from oldest to youngest is her 26-year-old son who works in Calgary as a project manner for an oil company
 and her 23-year-old foster daughter who lives in Everett, Washington. 
We are only getting started here folks.  Her mix and match crew also consists of a 22-year-old foster son in MO (He is not living in their home now) a 12-year-old adopted son and a 
9-year-old, soon to be adopted girl.  Dawn’s heart for children is over flowing with love and because of that her and her husband have also opened there home to a 13-year-old foster daughter and a 
4-year-old foster son.  In the last 4 years they have had 15 kids come and go through their home.

At the young age of 48 Dawn is also a grandma of seven foster, step and biological grandchildren ages: 19, 17, 16, 13, 11, 4 and 2. This midlife domestic goddess is exhausted just typing that.  Now just imagine if you had to balance your job, and a huge family like the mix and match crew but you had to do it with a body that had it’s own challenges.  This amazing housewife of God’s Kingdom is faced daily with that issue. Dawn wakes up each day with a body that has lots of healing to do after experiencing two strokes to the brain stem.

She says she feels blessed to have survived and to be whom and what she is today. The strokes have made her a different person. Just getting dressed can be a challenge and there are struggles to walk and use her left side and arm. “God does have a sense of humor as he has left me with the gift of speech. I think my husband might have enjoyed a few more months of quiet” says Dawn.

We all have many identities we go by. Many titles we answer too. The titles I carry are wife, mother, 972755_10151769818418992_2021631322_ndaughter, sister, pastor, child of God and the latest title stroke survivor. Some I enjoy, some I am called to be, and others carry a weight. Taken from Dawn’s Guest post, “My Identity, His Glory”

As I said earlier, Dynamite comes in small packages and Dawn if one powerful explosion of God’s strength within someone. As we bring Act 1, “Pastor Dawn” to an end I want to leave you with this quote from her.

“I am just me. I was chosen by God to speak His word. It is scary and terrifying at times. I am disliked by some, judged, ridiculed to be a woman in ministry. I have received hate mail. I don’t argue with those who disagree with that viewpoint, as they don’t want their viewpoint changed. I just love God, love people and try to show the Christ in me.”

Dawn is just one more amazing “Real housewife of God’s Kingdom” to learn more about her and her inspiring story as a two-time stroke survivor, check out her guest post “My identity, His glory”

I hope to see you back tomorrow for Act 2 with Pastor Karli 🙂

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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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My identity, His Glory

I am so excited to have Dawn as our first guest writer.  This midlife domestic goddess is so excited for you to her amazing words.

I guess introductions are in order; I am Dawn Marie Turner and I have been a pastor of 13 years. For the last four years I have been at two churches in Missouri. Before that I worked with youth and had been employed at the family’s funeral home. Eastern Washington is where I have called home for 44 of my 48 years. We have a total of seven children that we have raised; ages are 39, 28, 26, 22, 20, 12 and 8 that have blessed our lives. It is a “his, mine, foster and adopted-kind of family”. We now only have two living in our home. I am married to a great man of God who has stood with by my side in so many ways and this December we will celebrate our 20th Wedding Anniversary.

We all have many identities we go by. Many titles we answer too. The titles I carry are wife, mother, daughter, sister, pastor, child of God and the latest title stroke survivor. Some I enjoy, some I am called to be, and others carry a weight.

My latest title has been stroke survivor. I had two strokes to my brain stem. One on June 28 and the other July 5. I am blessed to have survived and to be whom and what I am. The strokes have made me a different person than I was in June. There are struggles to walk and use my left side and arm. God does have a sense of humor as he has left me with the gift of speech. I think my husband might have enjoyed a few more months of quiet.972755_10151769818418992_2021631322_n

It has been a struggle, as I have had to learn how to redress myself. I have a new sport I play called bra aerobics. I don’t often win at it and get stuck in some precarious positions. Recently I had to pack away 3 bins of gorgeous high heels. Anyone who knows me knows how painful that was, for a while part of my identity was wrapped in being the pastor who wore the great shoes and boots. I now am the Converse queen.

I have had to learn different ways to parent. Sometimes letting the small stuff go and picking my battles. I have had to learn different ways to work and make sure that my 60 hour work weeks became 20 to 25 hour work weeks plus Sunday. I have had to look at which nonprofits I feel called to serve with and cut back on some. There has been a learning process to not be ashamed to ask for prayers for myself. And there is power in prayer. Let that be repeated.  There is power in prayer!!

One of the things I have had to learn is that my identity as a wife was not wrapped around cooking, cleaning and laundry. Also, I had to learn I don’t have to be the strong one and it is okay to ask for help. My husband can make a meal, sweep the floor and put the laundry in the washing machine and the dryer. Those are a few other things learned. Not one of us have died of food poisoning or had our clothes turn pink.

I have learned to laugh; when finding myself on the floor or finding the invible cracks that make me stumble, when my body tightens up on one side, when there is involuntary spasms and twitches at Walmart in the frozen food aisle, when stuck in the bathtub and hollering for help, or when trying to cut that apple and it goes all over the place.  I have learned to laugh at the situations instead of crying. Don’t get me wrong there are times when it is necessary to have good, cleansing, cry fest. The times of laughter are greater however.

I am learning a lot. Learning or re-learning to rest in God’s grace and to use all I am and all I have become to His glory.  Learning that I am a new creation and as I heal more and more that I am being reformed into His creation. I have learned all things and I do mean ALL things can be used for His glory.  I will hold onto that truth and onto his word always.

But God shows undeserved kindness to everyone. That’s why he appointed Christ Jesus to choose you to share in his eternal glory. You will suffer for a while, but God will make you complete, steady, strong, and firm. 1 Peter 5:10

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