Thursday, March 04, 2021

Come on Down

Often I send all-staff emails to the folks at work about ways they can get involved personally in helping children and families in our community.

When I hit send I imagine eye rolls.   “Why is Claudia always inviting us to do something?  Why does it always have to be so far outside my comfort zone?”

People find it hard to believe when I suggest that is truly to share joy with them— to share an opportunity for you to see God do cool stuff.   I have had this motto for years personally (obviously we see how that is turning out :-)  :

"If you want to see God do cool things, do things you can’t possibly do alone. Because if you only take on what you can handle, you don’t need God to show up.”

Because of the choices my husband and I have made, we have had the privilege of seeing God show up in amazing ways over the years.  Sometimes we have been stretched to the point we felt we were going torn apart, but we are still standing and God is still in control.

Jesus’ words were even more challenging than my emails:  In fact, they were super “out there” when it comes to rational thought.  Check out these verses from Matthew 16:

 “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross, and follow me.   If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 

So when I suggest that heading to  “the hood”  and clean up someones yard of course you’re going to delete that email — because that is way more than you can imagine doing.  I get that.  But believe me when I say  that if you say yes “not only will lives be changed, but you will never be the same”’

The very heart of the gospel is this:  That if we hang on to — protect — guard — over-value — cling to this earthly life, we’re going lose it.  Giving up our lives for His sake is the only way to find them.

Check out this great song. 

Does it remind you of this:

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Brand New

You'd think at this point in time and at my age there wouldn't be things that occurred to me in a different way any more.  But they do, every day.

You know this verse from 2 Corinthians 5:17 :  "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!"

I always thought it was a one and done deal.   We come to Christ, he makes us new.  Once.

But really ... it's a daily thing.  Every day he keeps making me new.  Every day he helps me walk away from the old and look forward to the new.  This song really makes that clear, so enjoy it today!

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

Still my definition of a good morning....

If you've ever heard me do stand up you know that the Y story always begins with "I'm happy until someone pisses me off.... but I shouldn't say pissed because I'm a pastor's wife.... oops."  

And then I go on to say that when I had a houseful of teenagers the only way for me to stay happy is to wake up a long time before they did and get out of the house.   That is why I went to the Y at 5 a.m.

Here we are, 13 years later, and it's still the way I can guarantee to have a good morning.  This morning has been perfect so far.  

I was up at 5.  I am now working on 11new habits this year.   I started the year saying I was going to do two new ones each month, but then I started with 8.  So this month I am adding a step goal to the exercise goal and adding one more.  I have a 60 day streak going on 8 of them, a 30 day streak going on another, and I had a planned cheat day yesterday.... so that's the only one that I only did for a month and that was zero cheats.   I am also doing the 40 days of water... so I'm on day 14 of that.  :-)

So this morning I did an exercise video, went for a walk, listened to a podcast, listened to my daily bathroom reading, did a cleaning task at home, ate a healthy keto breakfast, and was out of the house by 6:15.  I have talked to my husband only this morning.  Traffic was perfect.  I am all alone listening to classical piano music (my new thing to have on in the background since I got my Amazon Echo.  I really like it.

The only person besides my husband I talked to this morning was Alexa, and I love her because she was playing music for me and I said, "Alexa, Stop."  And suddenly she was dead quiet.  That never happens at my house with anyone else I live with.

So it's a good day.  I am going to dive into my work day feeling really good.

So there you have it.  Still my definition of a good morning!

And here's a free tip for you.  I read it on social media this morning and it is so true.

"What gets recorded gets done.'  My Done App which tracks my streaks has kept me going!

Monday, March 01, 2021

Anybody met someone that can absolutely not stop arguing?

 One of the things that I have said repeatedly over the years is that it makes no sense to argue with someone who isn't capable of rational thought.   But I have a couple of kids who just can't stop  And apparently I can't either.

I can't stand it when something irrational just gets thrown out there -- something that make absolutely no sense.  I have an inner compulsion to correct that thought ... still ... at 57 years old ... when the person arguing is 30.    

It's a real challenge for me... I have to work hard not to say anything back.  Like really hard.   The more I try not to say something the more agitated I get.

So I guess maybe I am one of those people who absolutely cannot stop arguing. :-)

Sunday, February 28, 2021

On Being a Pastor's Wife....

Growing up in pastor's home, you'd think the last thing I'd want to do is marry a pastor, but I can't tell you how grateful I am to have made that choice.

I'm going to take a little trip down memory lane ...

When we were engaged I 1995 I drove out to the little town of Belgrade to spend the weekend there.  Bart had two churches, and they were both pretty small.  I stayed overnight with a couple of the dearest people ever -- Rodney and Adele Peterson.  They were in their 80s.   I would drive up and hang out with Bart at the parsonage where he lived (I was still working and living two hours away).  I would then, around 9:30, head over to Rodney and Adele's and we would watch reruns of Cheers. Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.   I stayed until Monday morning really early and then would leave and drive back to my office to start another work week.   While the congregations were small, there were many amazing people there who we loved very much.  We were married in 96 and started foster care.  By 1999 we had seven children (all of them adopted or heading there) and we moved to Luverne.

We have loved every place we lived, but Luverne was the best time in our families life.  We moved there when our youngest was 3 and our oldest was 13.   Our kids grew up there.  We stayed until our oldest was 29 and in college and our youngest was 10.   We had so many great friends there.  After church on Sundays we would gather up whoever wanted to come and head across the street for lunch at Pizza Ranch, sometimes having as many as 30 people in the back room.  We had Sunday night picnics in the park as a church almost every weekend of the summer.  We led the beginning of a second worship service.  We watched so many soccer and little league baseball games, developed relationships with a great school system and its teachers (it was literally a block away).   There were several families with kids the same age and we parented together.  Many of kids still think of Luverne as "home" even though we haven't lived there for 15 years.   

We then moved to Mankato.  What a great church and what great people!  Our season of life?  Not so great.  This was our time of raising a LOT of teenagers who made a LOT of bad choices.  This was also when I started blogging.  Our years in Mankato were all reported daily on the blog.   What a ride that was. But the whole way through there were these amazing people at our church who supported us no matter what.  Some of them are now in heaven... like my friend Sue who I miss every day.  This was also the time when we lived a couple miles from Mike and Kari who were and are some of the best friends we've ever had.   We hung out together almost every weekend for years.  

Then came Robbinsdale.   We moved to a smaller house intentionally, taking only 3 kids with us and telling them (jokingly of course) not to tell their siblings our address.  But by the time we left there we were living with 8 children and 2 grandchildren in a 2400 sq. ft. house with only 2 bathrooms.   But in the back drop of all the young adult drama was our church.  I was able to play in the band "Testify" -- one of the highlights of my life.   We had a women's group that met every Saturday morning and those women walked through so much crap with me.   The call from a guy in Virginia (accompanied with a call from God) took me away from all that support.

And then we came to Danville to a church full of really good people.   The most devastating event of our lives happened there, and yet so many of those folks jumped in to support us during really hard times.   We met, loved, and buried our dear dear friends, Tom and Betty, people Bart never wanted to bury.   While we knew it was time to move on, those who loved and supported us there became a part of who we are.

Now we are in a church similar in size to the first one Bart pastored.  And there you will find amazingly kind and loving people who are loyal to each other and to their church and appreciative and not critical of their pastor.  What a huge blessing.

Each Sunday of the last 25 years (with very few exceptions) I have helped Bart prepare for worship in one way or another and have gotten kids ready to head to church.   While there we have been loved, supported, and treated well by hundreds of people who have become part of who we are.   We have walked with them during the highest points of their lives and they have done the same with us.   

I've always seen my life as a tapestry -- one woven by the people and experiences I have had.  And the members of our churches have been a constant source of love, joy and support in this tapestry -- strong, vivid colors representing meaningful relationships.

While many assume that this role is a difficult one, I've never seen it as such.  It's an honor -- a privilege -- a blessing to be allowed to be so interwoven with such a diverse group of God's people that I wouldn't trade it for anything.

So... if you are one of those people, thank you for blessing us so much.   Our lives are what they are because of you!

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Saturday ramblings that don't make it to Facebook

So on Monday through Friday I typically post a devotional and link it to my Facebook.  On Saturdays and Sundays I'm trying to still blog but not link it -- and then I feel a little bit more free because my kids provably won't come here on their own.  I don't know, maybe they do.  I try not to name them anymore like I used to when they were little, but I still have my own set of frustrations and struggles as a person because of my situation.   I'm not done being a person full of failures and complaints, that's for sure.

Isn't it funny that no matter how good we have it, we still can find things to be irritated about?  Now that's a devotional I may have to expound on at some point.

I think about it and I get frustrated with myself.  I have a job that I love with coworkers who are dear friends.  I live in a beautiful home that has a master bedroom/bathroom where I can go and pretend I'm in a hotel (in fact, we don't often stay in a hotel as nice as our own home, which has never been true).  For the most part the kids don't track me down to annoy me hourly like they used to.  I have grandchildren who pop up and see me on a regular basis.   

But watching my husband prepare a meal for hours and then having nobody willing to do the dishes (even though we pay to have them done) and see that some can't even take their own dishes to the sink is super annoying.   Or having someone tell us they need a ride to work early in the morning and not let us know until after we are up and ready to take them that they aren't working after all.  Or planning all day to eat leftovers I've saved for myself because I have a restricted diet... and finding someone ate it even though it was in a container clearly marked "MOM."  I could go on.

So I have to tell myself that we are all healthy, that all of the adults in our home are working and paying rent, that some of them are doing the best they can with what they have.  And I remind myself that keeping my mouth shut so we don't have a house full of conflict which my peace-loving husband despises is more important than people not doing the dishes.  He won't let me do them -- he just does them quietly himself.  

Instead of trying to change things, I have now come to a point that I have to figure out how to live with the choices we have made.   It's not always easy.

I haven't kept up with a lot of adoptive parents whose kids are now all adults.  I wonder if they have empty nests.  I wonder if they have moved into a new phase of life or if they are still living with all this junk in their lives.  I wonder if they have been able to overcome the resentment and frustration and are able to focus on the good things.

I sure hope so.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Easy or Hard?

We all have different things that are easy for us and other things that are hard.  #MathIsHard has become a slogan of sorts at my work because of our beloved leader’s propensity for computation errors.    But for some people (thanks be to God!) math is easy… fun even.

In listening to Leviticus this month, I kept concluding that following the law must have been hard.   But this morning I heard this passage from Leviticus 24:19-20  that made me think maybe I had been looking at it the wrong way.

Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury.

Folks, that is easy.  It makes sense.  You punch me, I punch you.   It is very clear and easy to understand.  in fact much of the law makes a lot of logical sense.  It is always consistent, always “fair”, and there is no room for any grey in it.   That’s easy.

Now check out these words from Jesus in Matthew 5:38-39:

You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also."

Now that’s hard.  Harder than obeying a set of rules, is offering grace and mercy, gentleness, patience.   Human nature gravitates toward a law that says “people get what they deserve”.   The law is easy…. it’s grace that’s hard.

On my way to work this morning I heard something interesting on Spirit FM   (yes, I know, it’s WFH Friday and I am at the office but it's because I have to do a training and I have an adult son who is known for suddenly and without provocation screaming curse words and I couldn’t worry about that as I’m making my debut as a Strategic Partner expert in the Lynchburg community, so I’m here).  But I digress :-)

The DJ was talking about Rosa Parks and how easy it would have been to just get up and move to the back of the bus.   But she chose the hard thing because the hard thing was the right thing.

My message to myself and to you is:  Choose the hard thing because it’s the right thing.   Choose grace.  

I just found this song today. It’s not “Christian” but it’s beautiful.  If you haven’t heard it or even if you have, it’s worth listening to in light of today’s Scripture.  And hey…. it even starts with math!