I Feel Judged – Lessons I learned.

I feel judged….

I feel judged for the pants I wear.

I feel judged for the v-neck shirts I wear or the fact I dress each day and don’t go out shopping in my sweats.

I feel judged that I put make-up on even when I’m at work or simply at home.

I feel judged for the way I raised my kids.

I actually feel judged by people because they ‘think’ we don’t have kids!  (Trust me… last week at church someone is passing me and I say hello asking them how an event went and we had a very nice conversation… But then the question comes… “How come you never had kids?”  ‘Seriously??’   I didn’t say that.  I am so used to the question, and not wanting to make them feel bad I laughed and said… ‘Oh, I have 3 beautiful brilliant adult girls!’

There was shock on her face…. As there usually is.

I feel judged for the way I follow Christ… How Sundays are not always my Sabbath day, and the fact I have tattoos and so does my man… or that I don’t attend bible studies that focus on our sins…  I feel judged that I don’t advertise our home address out in the world.. that I am cautious with who knows where we live and we ask that people don’t just pop over… Text first please!!!!

I feel judged!

And part of me knows that this judgement is the enemy.  That satan would love nothing more then to make me feel judged and less than in this world that is not my home.  That he would love nothing more then to make me feel so small that I can’t or don’t speak up and love on people.  That I hide into my own small circle of friends, not inviting anyone new into my circle…. Not reaching out to someone that God leads me to… For fear that they too will judge me….. or my current friends will judge me for inviting someone they don’t approve of. Or simply someone they don’t know.

I could live my entire world under the feeling of judgement, so much so, it could immobilize me.

But that isn’t what God wants!  It isn’t what Jesus died on the cross for!!!!

The other part is the knowledge that people ARE judging me.

I am sure that if my neighbors could see in my living room just now… they would have been looking with an odd look… as I danced around my small living room…. To a song that God and I were enjoying.  I dance.  I am not a professional dancer… I twirl, like I am not a professional… And I do not care one bit who see’s… Because those moments with God…. Are better then any moment I could possibly have here on earth.

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Then there are those neighbors that would be smiling.. because they just plain get me…. Just like I am.. No judgement… That’s just Tabitha.  As they snicker their snicker and continue to their place.  How I love friends that just roll with me.

I know people judge me because they have told me.  In honest moments they have come to me asking for clarity and told me how they perceived me.  Till they sought to know… The reason…  And it’s ok.

I also know because I catch the hints and the slight micro expressions…

I’ve sat across the table when someone starts talking about how person A is doing such a horrible job.. and I can’t help but to speak up…. “Have you asked them why they do that?”  The conversation is always eye opening… for both of us.

We as humans have a tendency to judge people.  It’s just what we do.

We judge someone’s economic status without learning about more about them.. what makes them tick… We judge their social status….. without stopping to ask them exactly why they do what they do and for what reason?

We judge and call a woman that has had an abortion a murderer… and condemn her in our social circles.. because ‘we could never’ do that…

Then there are those slight judgements where you talk about how sad it is for all the aborted babies.. and then follow it up with… I never had an abortion… I ‘feel’ for those that have.  I call those backhanded judgements… You say you feel for the woman for the choice she made.. but you preface or follow it with the fact YOU NEVER had one.. Just so the room knows you shouldn’t be judged like the ones that have.

We sit and look at how someone dresses and judge their clothing choices… because modesty for a Christian….. without asking them why they dress the way they do.

I could go on….

But I won’t…

Because you get the point…

When our eldest was about 8 she became very concerned about the sabbath and more specifically the fact her grandfather whom was a fireman was working on Sundays.  One Sunday while sitting in the service she listened to the pastor talking about how important the sabbath was.  She leaned over and whispered to me… ‘Mom, what about grandpa?  Is he sinning because he doesn’t have Sunday off?’

She was visibly distraught and as the people were leaving I walked her right back into the office… We were met face to face with the pastor.. A large man with a deep voice that never scared anyone or any kid…. He listened to her sweet soul asking her question and without missing a beat he replied, “That’s why God gave us 6 other days in the week.  Do you think he rests on one of those 6 days?”

She replied with a yes… and he left her with an assignment.  “Next time you see him.. ask him.  The only way to truly understand someone is to ask them.”

I miss this pastor.  The pastor that would throw the doors wide open exposing the darkness within.  He understood people.

But that’s a lesson to us all… The lesson taught in a short moment to an 8 year old…. “The only way to truly understand someone is to ask them”

Ask me why I wear v-necks and I will tell you… I was strangled when I was 19 and to this day a simple tshirt against my neck brings on unpleasant feelings… God created people that make different clothing for reasons like me.

Ask me why my pants are tight… and I will tell you they actually aren’t.  They are a lycra that hugs comfortably close to my legs so when I am pulling fencing the fencing doesn’t get caught on a pocket and pull me down the cliff…. Trust me.. I learned the hard way.  Pulling fencing on a steep hill and sliding down the hill with no way to stop but into the large evergreen brings a lot of bruises with it.  Pants that hug me slightly have less area’s for the fencing to get stuck on.

Ask me why I love on everyone and I will explain simply because Jesus told us to Love everyone and Christ loved…. everyone!

Ask me why I hold where we live somewhat secret and don’t post our physical address in directories and I will tell you… We have had people come to the house unannounced to ‘school’ me on how my husband should do his job.

Ask me why we travel to the next city to go to the Dr’s or Dentist office and I will simply tell you that it is most unsettling when the tech says Hello “Mrs. Bettencourt” as she comes to your chair and on the other side of the wall you hear a man chirp up…. “Are you related to Officer Bettencourt?”   You would have seen my eyes close as I honestly whisper… “Yes” and I hear the other techs in the room comment on how I am his wife… and then he hollers out… “He gave me a ticket!”   And your body grows cold… because you have no clue what the ticket was for… why he still remembers it.. and why he feels entitled to comment to the officers wife for doing his job?  So you just sit there remaining still and pray… please don’t let him take it out on me Lord!!!!!

There are reasons why people do the things they do.

We all have past experiences and past hurts that shape the way we live in this world.

Wouldn’t the world be amazing if instead of being quiet and secretly judging the person for why they do what we feel they shouldn’t do…. We simply strike up a conversation as to why they do what they do?

These conversations don’t come without pain.  Some questions have met me with tears… One because I care enough to ask why… Two because I saw them.. and Three because I want to understand them rather then judge them and move on to someone ‘more my caliber of friend.’   But 4… because it’s painful for them…

20+ years ago I heard a pastor counsel with an 8 year old….  I tucked this brief conversation in my heart and live by it…. “The only way to truly understand someone is to ask them.”

This reminds me of John 8:1-30… Jesus… face to face with a woman that was caught in adultery… Men all around her waiting for Jesus to condemn her to be stoned to death…. And He says this….

“The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her.”

If we truly believed that Christ died for our sins…. And that he desired for us to truly know Him and follow Him… Wouldn’t we be spending more time loving people… showing compassion for them.. offering guidance…. praying for them… and getting to know them.. then passing judgement on them?

Just in case you want to know how the story unfolds:

Then He stooped down again and continued writing on the ground.  When they heard this, they left one by one, starting with the older men. Only He was left, with the woman in the center.  When Jesus stood up, He said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

 “No one, Lord,” she answered.

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go, and from now on do not sin anymore.”

I just want to cry…. at the beauty of this moment.

“The only way to truly understand someone is to ask them.” – Bufe Karraker 

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The Christmas Card Contest

Every year my husband and I wait with anticipation to receive the first Christmas card.  This year it came the day after Thanksgiving.  Delivered in person by my father-in-law himself.  Full of smiles that he was the first one to get a card to us.

Full of smiles because he knows, that we LOVE to receive Christmas cards.  We wait for this time of the year to get cards with hello’s and handwritten notes to us, about how our family and friends are doing.

You could say we are old fashioned in this way, a social media post of Merry Christmas to everyone… are nice. But they aren’t like the real Christmas cards back in the days prior to the internet, where cards were the form of communication and usually it was during the month of December when people would send a letter updating the recipients on their entire family’s successes and going on’s.

I was listening to a radio show this last month and they were talking about the lack of Christmas cards that are being sent.  It hurt my heart.  We send boxes of cards out each year.  Every single one of them hand addressed, hand written with a greeting to the recipient, personalized for the family, and we write a personal note inside…. Along with this year, for the first time, a Christmas letter!  My husband loved receiving those Christmas letters so much that he had to start that tradition for our family.

You should have seen the look on his face as he was writing it…. He then left to go do evening chores… and asked me to print it out… I will confess here, that I leaned over and deleted several complete sentences that he wrote about me.  Hehehe.. Let’s just say, I tell you all everything!  So we didn’t need to go on and on about me… Right?

I loved when our kids called, after they got the letter and read about what their dad said about them… and they all said they loved the letter!  Awwweee!!!!

We love this time of year.

We send cards, we take the time, because we know what it feels like to get a card… we savor the moment when we get one of those sweet Christmas cards.

We go to the post office box more often than usual and open the box with anticipation…. A gleeful look passes our face as we quickly pull out the envelopes and see who it was sent from.  We don’t open them in the post office… No…. we carefully bring them home and place them on the dinning table… Placing them in the middle of the table.. and we wait….

We wait till Morning or the evening.. when we are both done with our chores… we pour a cup of coffee and even if there is one card.. we sit down…. Sometimes saying a thank you prayer for the card… and slowly open it… Taking turns to open them… and reading them to the other.

The total over the moon excitement comes when we see the coveted Christmas letter…. If you open an envelope and you happen to get a Christmas letter in yours… You just won the undivided attention of the other one at that table.

Everything stops….

While we listen to the other read the letter out loud.

And then we comment…. How awesome… or pray for the person and try and see how we can help or love on the sender, or reply with a letter of encouragement for what they are going through.

We are active participants in the lives of our friends and families….

Several years ago, as we sat and opened the few 6 cards, we had gotten we were left with a sense of sadness through the season.  Going to the mailbox isn’t quite as fun in the bitter wet cold when you know nothing will be there.

Our friends were all taking to social media and leaving the old-fashioned snail mail behind.  Our father in law walked in the door one year and commented on how he barely got anything…. And the sad look on his face… showed of loneliness.   I still to this day put a stamp on his card and hand it to the mail lady to stick in his box.  I imagine the smile on his face when he opens his box and sees a card for him…. Waiting… then the snicker he usually gets when he realizes it was from us.. and we wasted the money on a stamp… just for him!!!

Worth every penny.

My heart was breaking however.  We equally were missing the annual catch up with friends… and wondered if the days of getting and sending Christmas cards were over?

That was the moment we devised a plan…. A plan to celebrate our family and friends, that take a moment out of their life to think of us, enough to send us a card.  It was the moment the Christmas Card Contest was born.

From Thanksgiving to the day of Christmas we have an open contest for whoever would like to enter.  Entry is simply a card addressed to us.  All season long we hang them in the house and pray for the families as we pass by the cards.   We are excited and delighted to receive the cards and we get to see the growth of all the kids on the photo cards… Reading the letters that come with them is the biggest treats.  When they come.

Sometimes we get just a card with a signature of the sender in them… nothing else… No morsels or nuggets but the knowledge that they were thinking of us.  Sometimes we get full blown messages that take every millimeter of card space… there have been times we are asked to pray for them.. and that we do at that moment… and sometimes we get a letter in the mail that you know… You smile… ‘they are trying to game the system’.

But the one thing remains…. Perfectly clear to us….

They were thinking of us.

And we have some hilarious friends!!!!

As we collect the cards at the end of the season, we pile them up and sit down for one last go through.  This is when we go through and find a way to pick one card, that stands out from the rest…. It could be one that is totally handmade or one that touched our hearts in a way that left an impression on us… each card is picked up and we share and reread the notes… we talk about the people… and how much they mean to us… we fondly remember times with them… and each one of us goes through the stack.

We can’t share any more details then that. but in the end a winner is chosen… And each year the winner is a total shock to each of us… Even the first year.  Family, friends, all the way to co-workers have won the contest.  It truly isn’t a deep secret to us.  It’s all about the person that spent their precious time sending us a card.

After the winner is chosen it is then our job to find a way that we can shower that friend/family member with a gift.  Usually one that we made, just for them.  Prior winners won handmade aprons from my husband’s uniforms.  Or handsewn bears for their grand-kids, or a basket of canned items for their family to enjoy.  We even made homemade lip balm from our bee’s wax!  Whatever it is that we send, it is all geared to the person that wins the Christmas card contest and what we think they would love and cherish.

Did I mention we love showering our friends with love?

Last night we sat down and a winner was chosen.  Which happened to be a dear longtime friend of mine.  And now, I am sitting here tasked with coming up with a gift that is perfect for her.  Perfect for the creative beautiful person that this friend has always been…. Truly, what a blessing this contest has become.

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Did I mention we love our friends?

This is the 4th year of the contest.  I don’t see us stopping it anytime soon.  We love finding one person each year to love on….

I leave you with this…. Find a way to love on your friends.  This world is lonely and cold when we stay behind the computer screen and don’t look for the chances that God gives us to love on each other.  Life truly is precious!

2018 – Looking Back

I sit here… Looking out at this beautiful view that God created just for me… And I am overwhelmed at His love for us.  2018 was a year we declared as Growth and Healing.  A year we were spending to recover from the hell of 2016 and 2017.

We needed the entire year to recover.

It was just a year ago this month that we sat at the table and listed out the things we wanted to accomplish and the path we felt God was wanting us to be on.   God showed us through the prior years that things were never a given.  That while we fully trusted in Christ, we learned that back up plans, to everyday life, were needed, because Satan existed.

Evil is real…. That is what 2016 and 2017 showed us clearly!

We truly needed ALL of 2018 to recover.

Recover we did!

We took classes and built our knowledge on where we felt God was leading us in the future.  We stayed close to home and grew even stronger in our love… and we learned to laugh again.  That belly roll laughter that only comes when you truly feel joy in your soul.

We laughed….

We loved…

We cherished the year….

We cherished each other….

But 2018 is done…

The chapter is closed and 2019 is sitting at the doorstep asking to come in… and I am sitting inside… looking out this window… at the beautiful scenery and tears running down my face… I am in awe…. Whispering… I am ready God…. I am ready!!!!

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Ready for whatever He sends to me… Ready for life again.. I am built up.. I can do this life again!  I know who I am again… And I love!!!!

What a difference a year can bring.  When you sit back and allow God to bring you the healing you need… when you lean upon Him, the one who heals… and protects and you cast your cares on Him and allow Him to be the healer and fighter for your issues… When you pick up that shovel and dig out the decay in the areas that he leads you to… You don’t hurry the process… You grow weary… you remind yourself… the entire year is yours… you don’t beat yourself up because you just took 2 steps backwards.. you retreat back into the safety of your Father’s arms and rest assured that He will pick you up again.. that He delights in the fact you even put your shoes on this morning… He will hold your hand and kiss your forehead till you are ready to lace up those sneakers once again and head out to try…. Try again… and again.. and again… till you come home and fall on your knees… thanking Him for not giving up on you…. Till you come home with the smile on your face that you did it… again… you made it.. only this time was better than the first.. and better then the last….  And you fall in love with Yahweh even more.. because He believed in you… He knew you could.. if only you just leaned on Him…

Life isn’t about the damage… it’s about the healing… It’s about allowing Christ to come into the crevices of your life and transform ever scratch, every crack, every rip into a beautiful masterpiece!

2018 was the year we walked around chanting “It didn’t have to be this way” and it slowly turned into…  “We wouldn’t change what happened for anything in the world.”

2019 is the year we take the knowledge we gained and use it for Good!!!  For God!!!

UNSTOPPABLE

To The Tired Mommy On Christmas Eve

By now, if you have the time to read this, you are exhausted.

Most likely you are sitting in front of the last present to wrap.. with an empty container of tape, one bow left and not enough wrapping paper to save your life.

You contemplate a brown paper bag, and how low that will send your Pinterest ratings… Or maybe you could start a trend and your approval rating will soar!!!!

You could just hide it in a closet and right out a puzzle for them to search and solve… Calling it a scavenger hunt?

I totally understand.

I get you!

Years of wrapping presents and taking the kids to recitals and choir practices and performances and that final Christmas Eve church service….  Where I literally sat… the entire time… trying to devise an excuse as to why you needed to get to sleep quickly.. so Santa Would come visit us… And how long this year would I need to finish assembling the toy we bought you so we could get it under the tree in hopes of at least an hour of sleep???

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I dreamt of just an hour of sleep!

Trust me…. You are tired… But enjoy this moment.

You will miss it when it’s gone!

Last night as we had our family dinner with our parents I stood in the kitchen looking into the living room… The tree plugged in and smelling nice.  The presents underneath… Not a lot, just a few… And the sadness fell over me.  I won’t get that rush of feet pitter pattering and the sound of glee in the early morning.

Our children, and our grandchild are 800 miles away.  Starting there own lives and their own traditions.  We celebrated Christmas with them earlier in the month and while it is loving and rewarding… There is nothing that can replace the Christmas morning adrenaline of excitement and magic.

Nothing.

Santa Magic is REAL!!!!

And while I know you are tired….. You will miss this moment.  So stop. Enjoy it.  Don’t worry about being exhausted…. You will always be exhausted.  All Mom’s are exhausted.  It’s part of being a mom!

This moment… these next 24 hours that are ahead of you are the most priceless moments of the entire year.

Last night I flashed back at my grandfather’s… each year the look on their face, the way they sat and starred at us kids, as we frantically unwrapped all the gifts put in front of us.  And then at my kids as they opened their presents….  They got it!!!!  They were savoring it!  The moment!!!  They knew the secret!

It doesn’t last!

The magic moves on!!!

Enjoy every single minute of the madness and exhaustion and chaos!  Because when they grow up there will be no little one’s to tuck into bed… to stand on the outside of their door and listen for the sound of their sleep breathing….   Before you dare eat Santa’s Cookies…. and drink the eggnog!  Leaving the empty plate and cup for them to find in the morning….  There will be no fighting over who is going to lick the beater blades of all the frosting… Or who will get to eat the first cookie out of the oven…. And you will soon not make the cookies anymore..

Sure, the kids will come home.   They will bring their children if they are lucky to get the time off… but trust me… It just isn’t the same as this moment you have right now!

And while I know you look at me with a deep tired sigh and exclaim how you envy me…. The quietness of my house, the peace that is inside my walls…. But what I am not telling you.. is that I miss the moments you are living through right now!  I miss them dearly, and I just wish I could explain the feeling in my heart… so you could truly enjoy them… even through the utter exhaustion you are feeling right now!  All of us mom’s with adult kids MISS these moments!

There is magic in the air… and you are all miracle workers!  So dust off your magic wand… grab your large thermos of coffee.. and sing that warrior song of ours…. You got this!!!!  The home stretch is in sight!!!!

Trust me… toothpicks don’t work well at holding up those eye lids…. Coffee does wonders… and when you finally get to go to sleep…. A swig of Captain Morgans Dark Rum will put you out in under 15 minutes.  (wink)

Live the life we all miss so much!!!!!  And post your photo’s on Facebook so we can all live it through you!!!!

Merry Christmas to all the Mommies out there wrapping presents and making cocoa right now!!

Old Fashioned Is Just Who I Am.

Let’s set the scene….

The music is playing… Easy on the ears with a nice melody to welcome someone in the door after a long day of working.

The home is warm.. with the wafting scent of freshly baked cornbread in the air.

The sausage and bean soup my man loves is on the stove-top staying warm.

The house is picked up.  The Christmas lights are on and smell of pine is lingering in the air….

Lights… are turned down to a medium level….

I am dressed…. casually… with my hair up and the stained shirt changed.

I’m not wearing pearls…. But….

I am what some would call ‘old fashioned’ and while I used to think of that as offensive, I don’t anymore.  20181211_1731171

I was raised with old fashioned values.  I was also raised in the 70’s in California!  Which meant life was a dream!  Literally!

I remember Mrs. Turner up the road would spend the day with her girlfriends… which included my mother.. and at precisely 3:30 pm she would kick us all out of her house and as we were leaving we could see her do a mad dash of picking up and starting dinner.  Her ability to multi-task was amazing.

My mother would go home.. after a morning of cleaning she would calmly start dinner and as my father came home we would sit as a family and eat dinner.

Dinner was the time when we ALL talked and shared our days.  Lessons were learned on what not to do and how to do things properly and we caught up on the going on’s of the block or relatives.  The phone hung on the wall behind us and if it rang an adult would pick it up, sweetly ask, who it was and then promptly take a message after explaining it was dinner time.

It was a time when the phrase ‘It’s dinner time’ meant… we can’t talk right now.   And as a child it was my most favorite time of the day… and my most hated and terrorizing!

Favorite because we were family at this table.  We were all together and watching us exchange our daily comings and goings filled my little soul with happiness.

Hated because I was pulled in by the sound of my mothers voice from the streets where we were in the middle of a game with the whole Ohlone Gang.

Terrorizing because there would be quite possibly a stalk of broccoli or cauliflower on my plate!  Oh how I hated those few veggies that I used to have to eat.  Ironic now, if you think of it, that I actually grow them and willingly eat them every chance I get.

Brussels Sprouts are actually still waiting for harvest… after the first freeze they will be perfect with their sugars all heightened and ready for cooking!  I can not wait….

Back in those days I could make one lone little stalk of broccoli last me till the 11 o’clock news chimed on the TV… When my mother would release me from the table and have me brush my teeth and go straight to bed.  Tears in my eyes as I knew I missed evening play time.

I knew it was all my fault… My fault I missed the fun.. and I just prayed that stalk of broccoli didn’t mysteriously resurrect on my plate in the morning for breakfast….

It could happen….

I didn’t realize it then… the lessons I was learning.  The lesson of family time being so important.  How important a good balanced meal was and vegetables had to be part of that meal.  A lesson I am glad I learned before I became familiar with who/what McDonald’s was.

But the lesson the mother’s on that block taught me without saying a word.. but solely by example shine louder then anything in my life today.

Your husband is important.  Family time is everything.  A clean house is important… and community with friends is something to be valued!  Cherish your life in the process and enjoy it with all your heart.

I hear my husband driving up as I finish this… He will come in, change, do the last evening chore and while he is out in the storm closing up our chickens.. I will get our dinner on the table….

I have made his favorite soup… and his favorite corn bread.. I can hear him now walking down the stairs.. and into the house… He will take a deep breath in and exclaim… “Oh man corn bread!!!!!”  as he peers to the counter and see’s it waiting…. for him!

I know, I am old fashioned.  The art of pleasing my man is something I LOVE to do.  It fills my heart to see him happy and well cared for.  It brings me joy to make sure the house is clean and the mood is set for him to come home and enjoy his time off.  Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with being old fashion.

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It fills MY heart to love on my man!

May you have a wonderful evening on this stormy night tonight!

Book Review: The Simple Church

A few months ago I went down to visit my first church.  I had heard it wasn’t the same and after several people advised me not to expect the same church… I knew I needed to stop in.

You see, the reason I chose to attend the church in the first place, so many decades ago, was for the amazing way they pulled people together.  It was a built in community.  You showed up, you showed up some more, they put you to work.  You didn’t even need to ask.  If they even remotely thought you were a somewhat regular attender they gave you a job.  It taught me something without even knowing it.  It taught me that community among believers was important!

It also pulled me in to a deeper relationship with Christ.  By showing up on a Sunday for the service and listening to the announcements of bible studies and need for volunteers in the various ministries I was being pulled into the desire to help a group of people I was falling in love with.

God was building a family around me and it was apparent this family WANTED me there!  It didn’t matter if I was a believer of Christ’s yet or not.  They needed help and this broken young girl was answering the call to simply ‘help’ in whatever way they needed it.  It led to me accepting Christ and falling in love with Him and His church and all the people in it!

It started out simple.  They needed help decorating the church for Christmas.  I did that each year for over 20 years. 

They needed help in the child care rooms. … and for 7+ years I answered that call. 

They needed someone to perform little skits and 1 person acts during children’s church or awana’s… I was there. 

They needed a puppeteer… I was there…

They needed someone to lead the Timothy program… I was there

They needed a volunteer for 5days of fun.. I was there..

They needed a writer. a facilitator, someone to set up chairs… or serve food… or clean up… I was there. 

I went to a church in most peoples eyes that would be considered a big church… To me it was perfect.  and Home.  And they always needed me.  They needed everyone!  We were a body of believers with Christ in common and saving the lost. 

The Pastor’s goal was simple…. If someone walks in the door.. give them something to do.. so they have a purpose and feel wanted and needed… and put them to work for God.  If there wasn’t anything for them to do.. then a new ministry was created!  

It really was that simple. 

I saw ministries start up and take off for a few years and change and close and reformat as people came and went.  But one thing was for certain…. If you attended that church… you were going to be serving the Kingdom of God. 

I loved that church.  The feeling of home and love and purpose. A God given purpose.

As happens, God called the pastor home and a few other pastor’s took over.  Our new pastor, who is a firehouse for the Lord saw me on this trip and came up to check in on me.  We talked a bit, between services, on church life and differences in the churches and something he said caught my attention: 

“That’s the Simple Church.  It’s a whole concept of no programs in a church.  It was written about 10-15 years ago and we are just now seeing the devastation, among the churches here,  that the book has caused. “

The fact this pastor would take the time to talk to me was heart warming.  But the fact he was still acting as my pastor and helping me understand something I was seeing in this world… was classic ‘him’.  Always helping a believer understand no matter how deep the question.

I explained the conversation to my husband and we set out on finding the book when I came back.    Find it we did.  Co-written by an author we respected Thom S. Rainer and an unknown to us author Eric Geiger.  I set off to read the book. 

Mind you this book is not written for me.  It’s written for other clergy to read.  But I had questions and in this world we do life in… this book was set to answer my questions.  And answering them… it did do!  Sadly.

The book shows through examples of other churches how to create a church without programs .. It recommends a church focus on what their ministry is.. and eliminate everything that doesn’t fit into that category…  meaning, everyone else’s ministries that don’t focus on the main churches.

It’s a few chapters into the book I realized that the reason my friends were warning me that our church was not the same… was that they appeared to have been following this concept. 

Take away all the programs… which just before we moved away the church was doing just that.  Any group that met at the church was being asked to take their meetings to their homes.  They wanted  all bible studies to be home bible studies. 

And while there is nothing wrong with home bible studies… The churches are missing a huge opportunity when they do this.  People are more apt to walk into a study at a church.. then a study at a private home!  In all the studies I have attended, in and out of homes, never once did I have a walk in just happen to knock on a private home’s front door.  But I can not count how many times I had someone just fling open the door and walk into the church meeting room asking if they could sit in… or asking for prayer… or stumble in, in tears… 

The book appears to be more concerned with money being used to fund programs… and not enhance the ‘process’..(pg208) And while they are right.. that most people don’t see the hidden costs… isn’t that what the volunteers are for?  And donations to the church for said projects?  If we put people to work and they feel an ownership in the church.. aren’t they apt to give more because this is now ‘their’ church?  

What is the process they keep talking about?  Is it really moving people around into transformation?  For the churches purpose?  And who is keeping track of each persons progress in this process?  Is the goal of the church to grow… and not deepen the lives of the members? 

I jest a little here.  Read the book.  As I did and you will see just how many of our churches are following this concept.  And why our churches are half empty!  The chapter on saying NO to most everything struck me as utterly sad.  All the ministry opportunities lost.. and the lives unreached.

People NEED community!  They need to feel a sense of ownership in their church.  They need to feel needed and wanted and valuable to the body of believers.  They need to SERVE.  We are servants!!! And when a group of servants are not allowed to serve.. and told to sit on the side lines and just bring new people to church… they tend to just sit… and wait… and well… those that are true servants tend to self feed and find other ways to full-fill their God given talents.  In essence, they leave the church behind, or risk getting left behind themselves!

My problem with the whole concept is it appears to leave out God in the whole mix.  Stick with me here… People need to feel that they are needed.  When someone walks in the door and is asked to do a job.. no matter if they are members or not.. they are more apt to stick around and see if they are needed more.  The more the person is at church.. the more Jesus might rub off on them!!!!!

I once asked a pastor if there was a place where I could serve.  I was told ‘No.  We are really blessed at this church.  Everything is covered.’  I was lost.  Literally and utterly lost.  This place I wanted to call home, didn’t want me to even sweep the church!

Jesus needs us all.  Every one of us.  He needs our hands chopping salad, setting up chairs, flipping burgers, handing out song sheets, running the sound board, playing with the kids, parking cars, working security, finding ways to reach the lost, raising money for the ministry trips….. As my old pastor used to say… If we don’t have a place to put someone to work… we need to start a new ministry.  That was a smart Pastor. 

I’ve heard and read that pastors and elders are tired.  I’ve even had elders tell me personally that they are tired, or they couldn’t possibly put more on their plate.  They are missing the point… Church isn’t all about what they are doing for the people.  We are all the church!!!  All I see are people sitting and waiting to do something and not being given the chance to just run with it.  Or if they are…. they aren’t given enough freedom to do it to completion and it sits and falls flat.  Waiting for the next person in line to make a move… Only to be left waiting.  If the elders are tired they need to pull someone in and delegate to them!   In case you miss my point… I’m talking about a volunteer in the church! 

I have visited way to many churches that I now wonder, are they following this concept?  I had the privilege of talking to some long time friends while visiting our prior church.  They were so ecstatic that programs were coming back.  They needed places to go and community around them.  Places to invite their neighbors and friends too.   They desire to feel a part of something bigger then them and watching God work through them to reach the lost around them.  I stood at the bulletin board in the pass-way and saw it full of fliers of events going on… fundraisers in action… and one person stopped me.. hugged me and whispered… isn’t it great, we have things to do here again!   It’s been 9 years since I was gone.  9 years since I volunteered at this church.  I wondered if she knew I was no longer in the area… we both attended different service times..

The programs are back!  The outreach to the community has started again… Yes that is wonderful!  At least for this community it is a blessing once again.

Now we need to pray for the other churches to catch on. 

The words this pastor left me with as he ran off to do the 930 service was this…  “Pray, pray, pray and pray even more.”  In those few short moments he heard my heart, gave me homework and advised me to take it to the Top of The Chain. 

Pray for our churches!

BTW the service was amazing!!!!!  😉

I feel the need to post this disclaimer… I am not a pastor.. I am church goer.  I am not educated in the seminary field… I am a long time Church goer… I have studied community and friendships and what makes people work and not…. These are just my observations in our crazy world…. And as I always say.. my opinion only really matter to me… and my dog!  Who currently is begging to be fed. 

 

Finding the solution to escape the Chaos.

There is one thing I learned from my years of being a dispatcher:

The little stuff isn’t worth fighting over! 

And…

it’s all little stuff!

Seriously, 98% of life…. is all little stuff!

Ok.. I just made up that percentage.  But I am going out on a limb to say it’s correct.

Think about it…. Someone ate the last scoop of ice cream from the container?  It’s not going to matter next year!

You got in a fender bender?  It can be fixed!  In 5 years you will most likely have a new car anyways…. Except me… I tend to keep them till they develop a waterfall inside of them.

Your kids are fighting about something… chances are it’s little stuff.

Our job is to find the solutions to these little things so we can make room for the big things in life.  And chances are there is a solution to most everything.

I giggle inside when people walk into my bathroom and come out holding my tube of toothpaste.  It sports an office medium clasp clip on its end.  There is usually a look of questioning on their face as they hold it up…. And I explain…

Oh… we don’t fight about how to squeeze the toothpaste.  Everyone in our house is a winner in that department.  Once a week I roll up the tube and reclasp it in place…. And there is never an argument about someone not squeezing it correctly. 

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They usually end up with this light-bulb moment in their eyes as they head back to the bathroom to return the toothpaste to it’s rightful place.

If you look close enough in my house  you will see a lot of things… that may not make sense.. till you ask.  There is a reason for why I do everything.  Ask my husband and he will tell you.

Usually the reason is to save me Time… and Money…

You see, my husband knew when he asked me to marry him that I was a CDO Triple Type ‘A’ kind of gal.  And he is often reminded of how beneficial it is for him when he comes home and sees an entire dressing storage area for him set up to help make his mornings and evenings more efficient.

But more importantly, we are saving time in our mornings and evenings.  And with all the little tricks we have set up, we have eliminated things that don’t work or bring chaos into our world.  Yes, even when we had kids!

Someone doesn’t turn the lights off when they leave a room?  In our house, they turned the lights off.  Because if the bill was under 100.00 that month??? It meant we all went out to ice cream as a family.  And we didn’t have ice cream in the house that much… so it was a treat!  Not only that, but we went out to Cold Stone.. where they got to choose and build their own creation.  And it was considered DINNER!!!!

You can call me a bad parent.  Go ahead.. But my bill was routinely between 60-80.00 most months while my neighbors were in the 200.00!  And I feel the need to tell ya all we ate really good all the other days of the month!

I will also admit to spending 16.00 at Lowe’s for a thermostat key lock cover.  When your teenager learns how to reprogram the thermostat trust me…. on a 50′ day and you walk in with it being 85′ in your 60 year old home… you make up your money on that cover in the first month!  Girl… Put on a sweater!!!

Solutions save money… and time… and effort… and nerves… and hurt feelings.

Imagine a bedtime with no one screaming about how they squeezed the toothpaste the wrong way?   And just then you realize that simple little trick that takes you less then 20 seconds a week to do…  is totally worth all the peace in your house!

So next time you discover a problem in your midst…. start looking for the solution.  Pretty soon  you will discover little tips and tricks that transform your world into a calm oasis.  (Ok… that might be in Hawaii…. )

Or you can be like some other homes… have you all heard all the fighting that goes on with kids and toothpaste tubes???  It’s brutal!

 

 

You Dream of Having A Homestead Someday? – Do this 1 thing!

What’s the 1 thing you should do till you get your dream!???

I run a homestead.  There are 50+ chickens running around downstairs in area 1 right now.  They are happy and well fed with little numbered tags around their right leg.

There are apple and plum trees currently all loosing their leaves as winter is coming closer.  A fresh layer of bark around their roots to protect the ground from fully freezing.. but not close enough that a Vole can scurry up and eat the bark off the trees without one of our fur cats finding and destroying them.

Running a homestead has been my life for almost 9 years now.  We started with a dirt plot of land and after much research we carefully placed every building and drilled wells and planned where the septic tank was best to be placed.

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I often hear people dreamy eyed tell me that they someday want to live on a homestead just like we do.  They work full time jobs and this is all they dream about to get them through the week.

It’s usually followed up with me asking them what they do on the weekend?

To which they respond:

Oh we are busy heading to the beach or going up in the mountains or hanging out with friends.  Living the dream! 

They seem dumbfounded when I reply asking them how much research they have actually done on it?

Their comments are usually on how they will do the research on raising chickens when they move to the country. Or how hard can it be?  For the moment, all they can dream about it moving to the country and getting their as fast as they can…

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If this is you…. I want to help you move their as soon as you can.  Because it is a dream.  And I want you to have your dream!  In reality, It is a lifestyle and it is HARD!!!!

The number one thing you can do before you reach that dream….. is research!  Talk to people and check out blogs and posts and Facebook groups and watch them.  Study up on the type of gardening you want to do and how to successfully do it in your area.

Take classes!

Watch video’s of people living that dream… The real ones that have problems and not just selling you the dream!

Trust me.  Rome wasn’t built in a day… and the more studying you do on the area you are moving to and weather and conditions the better prepared you will be.

It’s really not EASY.

I know people make it look really easy.  But there will be problems.. I was laughed at in the community because I overbuilt my chicken coop.  Trust me… I have only lost 1 chicken in the near 7 years we have had them.. and that was our error.  (We stayed late at a dinner party… don’t think I don’t feel guilty about Mr. Gray Man loosing the battle to the racoon while protecting his girls!).

But it was the studying before hand…. The research before we even moved to our land.. that has saved us time and time again.  Some of the research was hands down WRONG!!!!  But much of it was timely and perfect knowledge for us to have.

That time when I had to perform emergency surgery on several chickens during a rain storm to save their lives!  My only saving grace was I had taught myself before-hand on how to perform surgery on said chickens…. before it was needed.  And I had taken notes before we even had the chickens on the land on what I would need to have on hand for emergencies like this.

If this is truly your dream…. get a notebook and start taking notes… because you won’t have the time to do the leisure research once you are on the land.  And it could mean the difference between a dream…. and a nightmare!

 

Book Review: The Life Ready Woman… Thriving in a Do-it-all World

Let’s do a book review that I have been wanting to review since the moment I finished reading it…. The Life Ready Woman Thriving in a Do-it-all World by Shaunti Feldhahn and Robert Lewis

It seriously is an awesome book!  So let’s dig in.

First…

I have had a few questions in my heart that I keep pondering over wondering when and if and how I will find the answers.  I don’t fret over it, because God seems to bring the answers to me in just the right time.  But one of the questions I have is about women working out of the home.  Or working working… period.  The other question is what the world focuses on… on how girls can do anything… But the bible specifically gives us roles… And our world and culture has changed drastically… I often wonder how and if the roles are getting blurred and changed on us without us really looking deeper into it.

Recently I have been feeling the desire to actually go out into the work force.  But after reading “The Most Excellent Wife” where it specifically states wives are not to work outside of the home I sat back and felt a little deflated.  I don’t want to go against what God’s view of a wife is… But I also wondered why God would place a burden or love on my heart and tell me because I am married, that burden will just remain that… a burden.

It doesn’t fit in my world of what God tells me He is.

And then there is Proverbs 31.  Verse 16 to be exact where it reads… ‘She evaluates a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard with her earnings.’ and drop down to verse 18 where the first part reads ‘She sees that her profits are good…’.  My friends I am reading this and the whole chapter sounds like she is literally running and working a business here.  With employee’s that she is personally taking care of!   And my question that ponders in the back of my mind is why are we telling women today that they should be happy in the home and not working?  When it appears to me that women worked and God provided examples for us in the bible!

So I use my breath prayers through these several years to ponder these questions and raise them up to God for Him to help me find the answers.  Because in my heart, I know the answer.  I just can’t form it into concrete evidence.

So go back 2 weeks and I am walking down the isle of the Lifeway Christian Store in Beaverton, Oregon.  And right there on the end shelf is this book…. A book that says woman can do it all and thrive!!!!

Sounds to good to be true.

And all these voices start screaming in my head…. that woman should stay at home and be happy.

So I pick up the book.  And as I hear the cashier is ringing up our order I walk up to the front and ask her to add it to the order.

This book answers my questions…. In a way that I can tell you my feelings of knowing I am supposed to do something else then just be a housewife are not only correct feelings… but they are God given!

I stand firm in that knowledge.

I will admit, the first chapter and some of the second were starting to sound like the world to me.  Bashing with a hint of feminism and I almost put it down.  But I kept reading because I truly felt like the answers might be here…

They were.  And the first part ended up being totally needed in the book.  It painted the picture to answer all the questions going forward.

And while I didn’t get 100% of my questions answered… I got enough to move full on with where I believe I am being led.  And that my friends is a freeing feeling!

I love how they talk about the shifts in rolls.. and the cultures… and where the women stay in the home role actually came from…

I then love how they unpacked Adam and Jesus… and tied them together…

Then they unpacked Eve and Mary… And what God called them each to do…

Then they hit on the 3 major callings that God gives each person on this earth…

And it’s as she is unpacking the 3rd one that it hits me full on….. My gifting!  We are to use our gifting and passions for God in our homes and on the earth…

And flooding in my brain are the friends I have… The amazing female NICU nurses I know that save babies lives and hold up their mommies teaching them to care for their preemie babies.  They have a gift.

The female kick-rear attorney’s I know that win cases and change history in this world we live in for the better.

The bakery owner’s I know that make me cupcakes and spread a smile and happiness my way on a sad dark dreary day.

The shop owner that sets aside a special treat for me as I walk in and see her every month checking on her… as she fills me up with God-friend love.

The Female Police Officer that comes to the scene of a rape victim to hold a victims hand as she undergoes her examination.

A female dispatcher answering the call of a women that has just been beaten and stabbed by her husband… and how her sweet calming voice on the phone brings comfort.

The sweet friend that just started a gym that has a God given gift of encouraging and loving on people… she believes in people that can’t even believe in themselves!  That is a gift!!!!

My friends… all of these women are married with families and love God to their fullest!  But some in society, (and that book I read prior) makes them out to be selfish people after their own careers and not a good wife.

Whirling around in my mind was if all women didn’t work who would care for the women needing help?  Or the babies?  Women are gifted with talents and comforting ways that don’t come naturally to many men.  (read the book before commenting)

But this book…. ties in Scripture and examples after examples of why we are supposed to do just that…. Go out into the world with what God has given us… and use the talents we have…. For HIM!

So what about our families?

I love how she ties that all together.  Honestly, this is a book that each young Christian daughter should be given while she is in her senior year of high school.  She can have it all.. but she can have it all without guilt or regret with the right planning and foresight!

Our goals will change.  What we ‘think’ we want before we meet the man of our dreams.. and what we really want after we get married… down to when we have kids… to when the kids grow up to when disaster strikes… They lay it out clearly… They even talk about the husband and the kinds of men and what they think… and I can tell you from the people I have met… that I found the information to be spot on with the women and men that I have had the privilege of getting to know.  God made us equal to Man.. but with a different role.  They explains it better then I ever will be able to.  I will say this… My concept of man as the head… and me as the helper… is so clearly defined now that my household has changed for the better.

If that was even possible.  😉

I know that question you have right now… I don’t even know my passion?  They help you figure out how to find that…. I know!!!!!  Mind boggling in one small book right???

And you’re a stay at home mom with lots of kids.. and no time… But you’re miserable because you have a talent and the world says you should be satisfied??  They unpack that also.

You’re depressed… and don’t see a purpose… they unpack that also.

My friends…. Literally a life changing book.  A book that gives you the tools and information to help you understand that the way God made you was NOT to be miserable.. It was to love on others.. and share God with the world.. and exactly how to do that in your busy world…

I’m going to stop here and say… I know beautiful women that already have this figured out.  And this would still be a great book to read.  Especially if you have daughters.

This book took my focus off of not working and just being a housewife… to sharing my God given passions in this world.   I knew something was missing since I retired from 911… and I figured it out with the help of this book (and a few others).

Now here’s there I tell you the bad….

My only 2 complaints with the book is it is  1. written by 2 people in first person.  And the way they wrote it.. buy always saying I (shaunti)… or I (Robert) was getting a little tedious and taking away from the moments I was having with the book.  And 2.  There is a video series that they keep mentioning in the book.  Which, honestly, I wish they mentioned it once and then stopped bringing up the fact I was missing out on other content.  It was making me sad.

I did find an email contact for the book and emailed with the question of where to find the videos.  Ms. Duncan Replied with the following:

Yes there is a study that goes with it. If you have a right now media subscription you can watch them on there. If not the study guide and leaders kit is being rebranded as Find Balance and released by iDisciple soon.

I sadly don’t have a right now media account.  😦

I am just going to sit here right now and pray that this new rebranding takes off and women from all over find their passion and love and go off and spread God’s love while raising amazing kids and loving on their sweet husbands.

As my mom used to always tell me…. Where there is a way… there is a will!

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There are a few affiliate links in this blog.  They are here for your convenience to find the book.. and won’t cost you a penny but will help pay for this website. 

Why I Write Book Reviews Like I do…

I love reading…. And I love listening to books on audio form while I am doing mundane tasks around the house.  But I write book reviews a certain way and they are actually slightly different then most reviews you see.

I must say I am not silly enough to think you really want to read what I thought of a book.. which is why I clearly label them a book review in the title.  You can simply pass them by.  No worries at all.

You see, when I read a book I am underlining and highlighting and making notes in the margins.. Which is why I don’t (very rarely) lend out books to someone else to read.  Because they have challenge notes or personal things for me to look into.

Which is why, if  you are one of my daughters, you will not want to throw away books when I pass.  Lets just say you will learn a lot about me, and how much I love you, in the pages of the books I read.

Anyone can come on and write about a book and what they thought of it.  But when I write a book I am writing about how I internalized it.  How it worked, and churned around, inside of me changing me or my thoughts and how I internalized the book.

I want to share how the book brought up my past and had me reshape the way I thought of it.  How I was able to tie the strings of pain together with strings of healing and what the path looked like for me.  Or simply how it made me want to be a better person.  Or look at the world differently.

To me, reading a book that someone liked…. and reading a book that changed someone, or healed someone, or led someone along the path of forgiveness are very different.

So reading a book review from me, is like going on a little history tour and you get the parts of what I felt about the book… but you also get the path that the book personally took me on through my own life.  And how it brought me to the end either a better person or not.

One thing is for sure… I am honest about liking or not liking a book.  Some books are just… well… not helpful.  And then there are those books that literally open you wide up…. and show you exactly where you went wrong… and lead you directly to the solution and healing begins.  Or finding a book that has, during a course of reading it, secretly answered long time questions that  you have never dared to speak out loud!!!!

Those are the books I love!