Weakness is a Good Thing

23622376_10213016744707575_4939270649050233599_nAnnie Sotski: This is one spunky little momma!  She almost always has a smile on her face and sweet words to say.  I say “almost” because she also is not afraid to tell you when she is hurting.   She is willing to be vulnerable within her deepest pains and and widest valleys, sharing how God has rescued her through it all.  She does “momma” well.  Loving her husband and kiddos with all her soul.  She also loves others with all her soul.  Able to show love to them and walk with them with a steady arm to hold and gentle voice, reminding them WHO they can depend on.  She’s an oily woman too!  Loves those oils and natural remedies for everything.  I am blessed to call her friend and fellow servant.

Weakness is a good thing. John 3:30 says “He must increase but I must decrease.”

My name is Annie.  I had a plaque on my wall growing up that said it means “gracious one” but I had no clue what that really meant until recently.  I’m not sure we can give grace until we receive it.

Life as a child was sweet and protected. I always knew Jesus and even had many chapters of the Bible memorized at a young age. My parents raised me in the Word and I was baptized at five. I remember being filled with the Holy Spirit as a teenager. I spent time on mission trips and church camps and Bible study…all the things a Christian is supposed to do. BUT, I had to learn in many hard ways that I was just a jar of clay that holds the treasure and not the treasure myself. My pride had to die. All my righteous deeds were like filthy rags.

My testimony is a story of the Father’s grace and His patience as He has and continues to mold me into a woman after His heart. Like I said, God had a hold on me from a very young age. I never really knew what it was like to not believe in Him. I also learned early on to be independent and strong. Being the oldest of seven children with parents who raised us against the grain, gave me firm foundations and high expectations. I had dreams of saving the world. Combine the pride and confidence and knowledge of what was right and true and I was destined to fall. Hard. Even my spiritual gifts are knowledge and discernment. Not using them the right way makes me a judgemental know-it-all. Thankfully, Jesus started working gradually and he sent people and circumstances to chisel and mold.  My mouth got me in trouble many times. At one point, mom had me write down and memorize James chapter 3. Oh the deadly poison of the tongue! My youth pastor sat me down and taught me that words hurt and relationships are far more important than being right. It has taken years to fully understand and apply that.29511477_10213980157632296_7086713042562182451_n

Even when I started to control my tongue and outward pride, I had a habit of trying to fix people. Friends, college roommates, boyfriends… all became my projects to save. Two big relationships happened within a couple of years apart in my early 20’s. My college roommate/friend decided she was in love with me. She saw me as her rescuer because of how much I had done for her. I was engaged at the time to my first husband and thankfully he was my way out of that relationship. My marriage then ended in divorce several years later because my ex-husband became mentally ill and left because he couldn’t handle the responsibility of marriage and fatherhood. I had tried to fix him, too, and the guilt was overwhelming. By 27 I was a single mom without friends. I had to move back in with my parents and start over. Even though I was angry at God for a time, He never gave up on me and has used the brokenness in my life. He didn’t let the bitterness, anger and calluses stay, but I had to see that He was the saviour, not me.

Fast -forward to now. I have come to the realization that I have a long list of broken relationships. Not just the two I mentioned. Some from trying to save people in my own strength and not being able to. Some from conflict and differences of opinion that I was too inept at working through. Some just from God’s grace in protecting me. It is a hard realization. I have spent many hours on my knees in repentance and prayer. I have prayed Psalm 51 with intention, even using hyssop like king David did. I want to move forward in the call on my life to love people in whatever way that looks like. When Isaiah saw the Lord in his holy temple and cried out because he was a man of unclean lips, the angel touched his lips with coal and said “your sin is atoned for.” (Isaiah 6) My sin is atoned for. I have to put the past behind me, but that means working through many painful memories. Your sin can be atoned for, but the damage can still be there, even hidden in your physical body. Thankfully, God is the gracious one, not me. He is faithfully patient and consistently kind. Release and surrender to Him are my choices. I am willing to go and sin no more.15844228_10210353186120275_7538725651364315894_o

Recently, a friend prayed that those old injuries and memories causing damage would come out. God has brought me through a cleansing process that has included my spirit, my emotions and my body. I had real breakthroughs with some physical pain and emotional blocks because I worked on them together as He brought to mind the past. I could deal with old hurts that had been buried in a gradual and complete way. Part of the process is what lead me to see the string of broken relationships. What has been amazing is that God has now given me opportunity to heal and restore some of those relationships. He is creating a new pattern. It isn’t even as hard as I imagined it would be. When the joy of the Lord is your strength, you can easily part waters and move mountains.

Now, I am working with a young lady that isn’t a Christian and mentoring her through some very difficult times. I have good boundaries in place and know I can’t save her or be her Holy Spirit. I’m just here to be Jesus’ hands and feet and intercede in prayer for her. That’s quite a change from 20 years ago when I walked out my door to save the world. The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has sent me to bring good news, bind up the broken and proclaim liberty to the captives. (Isaiah 61) The Truth is what sets people free. All I have to do is abide in the Word and know the truth. (John 8) Now I am a sower of the Word and people can call me Annie, “gracious one”. I bring grace because it was given. I’m just a transparent jar of clay that holds a treasure beyond compare. May I overflow to all around me.

Lord, I am grateful! I am grateful to not only provide for my physical needs but you provide for my emotional needs through other women like Annie.  Help me be that for others.  Amen!

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Different

I love my flowers!  Doesn’t matter what shape, what color or what size, the more different they are, the more I love them.  So when, in my full bed of only Zinnias, this lovely Sunflower popped up from who knows where, I was thrilled.  I could not hardly wait for it to open it’s beautiful face.  Isn’t that a lovely sight of 1 tall, large, solid yellow pedaled face in my sea of varied colors?  That reminded me of how it feels to be totally different.

I remember as a child, an even into adulthood, I wanted to be like the other. Smart, petite, cheer leader, drum major, basketball player, track runner, who ever and whatever it was that drew in all the attention.  Or at least all the attention that I wasn’t getting.  The one that everyone thought was “lovely”.

Romans 12:2

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

And then………… I found Jesus.  I would love to say that the second I popped out of that water I was healed of those desires,  but it took me a minute or two or 26,280,000 Minutes (50 years).  I’d love to say that I’m healed of that desire today but not totally.  I’m better today than I was yesterday.  I’m learning and grasping that He made me perfect, just being me.  And this “me” can be different than every other and still be lovely.  Please understand that I’m now not talking about surfacy lovely either.  I’m talking about rather what’s deep within.  I have attained the knowledge that His love for me is greater than any love that is of this world.  I am lovely in my “different” to Him.  And in that different that He created me, I find value in the my “different” in a sea of others.

Romans 12:6

Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith;

It took me a while to figure out what my gifts are and I’m still learning.  It has also taken me a while to figure out how HE wants me to use them and He’s still showing me.   The thing is my gifts aren’t like every one-else’s and I love that.  I truly enjoy being with others that are different than me.  It challenges for to look beyond my box.  It challenges for to dream beyond my dreams.  My box and my dreams are special to me but those whose are different than mine are too! Different is good!

Mr. Holland Opus – click to watch

1 Corinthians 12:20

As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.

It took me longer than it should have to realize that my husbands different in our home workings was valuable.  I wanted my home to work as I thought it should.  But our thinking isn’t the same and I’ve learned that that can be very beneficial.  Also in the working world different is good.  We each have tasks that we can accomplish when other may struggle with them.  Any business needs organizational people, techie people, analytical people and so on to get the job done. To run a business you have to have different.  Some goes for the church, it’s almost impossible to meet every need there is anyway but if we all thought the same, worked the same, had the same passion then there would be a gap in the serving of the church and the community that it belongs to.  We all are different for a reason.

Romans 3:23

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

Ultimately we are all different but we all have one thing that is the same, we all sin and fall short of the Glory of God.  Thank you to Jesus who covers that same!

Lord, Thank you for loving me as I am and loving my neighbor as they are. Amen!

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DONE

#fmf

When we are using the word done, it denotes finality.

In Genesis when God created the heavens and the earth, the light and the dark, the water and the land, and all living creatures then Adam and Eve, then on the 6th day he said, “It is Good”.  He was done and he rested on the 7th.

There has been many times that I have used the word “done” to denote finality with something I was doing.  Way too many to count, some of them had happy endings and some were a sorrowful new start but regardless, I was “done”.

I’m grateful that God is never done with me.  And I have given Him plenty of reason why He should be.

2 John 1:2

because of the truth, which lives in us and will be with us forever

I’m grateful that I can wake up, mess up and start again everyday and He will never be done with me as long as I continue to seek Him.  Walking each day striving to be all that He made me to be.  So I can look forward to one day saying “it is Done” and joining Him at His right hand in Heaven.

Thank You Lord for never being done with me.  Amen!

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Willingness to Listen

Proverbs 2:1-5

My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding—
indeed, if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.

 

I have had a long period of being still and waiting.  I did it as self preservation to some point but I also did it because I came to a place of understanding that “I didn’t have all the answers and I knew someone that did”.  That someone was God.   To be still and wait was very difficult for a codependent/controller.  But life had become out of control and I needed some help.  In that process of stepping away from me and leaning more on God, I allow Him to work.  It allowed the Holy Spirit to take hold of me and enabled me to hear Him clearer.

Since that one long experience I have had many shorter runs in different situations and I can tell you from experience, it’s always worth the stillness and waiting.  God always comes through but only because I’m willing to step away from me and listen to Him intently.

I encourage you today to be Still, Wait and Listen.  Take away all your preconceived notions and allow Him to change your heart, mind and soul forever.

Thank You Lord for working in me.  It has changed my world for the better.  And for always.  Amen!

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Vacation

#fmf

When we scroll through social media these days or listen to people in our surrounding social groups, we realize that most perfect ideal vacations are extravagance.  It’s, let’s go big or go home!  But not me! A trip to a nice quiet lake is my ideal vacation.  With serenity all around you.   The house may be full of laughter and children screaming.  There may be people moving all around me but something about looking over that rippling water with the sun either coming up or going down just calms me.   And I’m grateful!  I’m grateful because He created all this for me.  So I could find peace and stillness in Him.

Genesis 1 [Full Chapter]

The Beginning ] In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. …
He says, “Bestill, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”
I can find that calmness in many places without even going anywhere.  Can that be called mini-vacations?  Simply sitting on my porch and watching the butterflies flutter calms me.    A nice serene ride down a mountain path, following a gently flowing stream also takes me there.  And I think, “God is so Good”.
We live in such a busy, hustle and bustle world that we need time to just be still but do most take that time?  We don’t need to go big or go home, in fact we need to go simple.  Take the time to be still and just draw Him in.
Take a vacation that is focused on being still and seeking Him.  You might just choose to let that be  your perfect ideal vacation.
Lord, I’m grateful!  For me I see you most in the ripples.  In the ripples of the water and in the ripples of my life.  You provide and you make beautiful.  Amen!
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Wandering

My life has been a long walk down a path, wandering, seeking, searching, striving for something. That wandering has found happiness and sadness. That wandering has placed me in situations that have proven to be God sent and some to be driven by Satan. That wandering has left me fulfilled and empty. And I wonder where this wandering is going to land me now.

wan·der·ing : traveling aimlessly from place to place
won·der : desire or be curious to know something
Do I have any control of my wandering? Can I master the art of wandering to land me in a place of calling?
Seems lately that everything I pick up to read/study is leading me to these questions. Steering me in a direction of the unknown. Making me wonder if there could possibly be more. More to me! More that I have to offer! More He desires for my life! More He is asking me to do!

Ephesians 4:1-3

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Am I wandering in a manner worthy of the calling to which I have been called?

Now I know that in whatever situation/vocation/place that I’m in, I can use the gifts for which I’m given. I can love those around me and I can show HIS love to them but is that solely my calling. To love where I am! Yes, I believe it’s my calling to love where I am but is that solely my calling.

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Romans 11:29 For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

The fine line between being content and wandering is narrow. Am I walking on that fine line and afraid to jump either way. Obviously I want contentment in my life and I have it in a lot of ways but there is still that nudge, that small voice that won’t leave my mind that says, “Is it enough?” “Do you hear ME calling you for more?” “Are you willing to jump?” And I want to answer NO! Yes! Maybe!

I’m finding that moving from wandering to wonder and back again is exhausting. But when you know, you just know, that what you’re doing each day is not the irrevocable calling that God has for you, you just can’t stop wandering. Eventually I’m going to have to jump in with both feet.

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

But I wonder, “what is my calling, my purpose?”. Am I doing it? Do I have what it takes? Well 1st off, God has given me what it takes! I have to seek out the guidance of the Holy Spirit to guide me to my calling, my purpose. Be open to hear His words and see the doors being opened. Then It’s up to me to do it!

1 Corinthians 12:7-10 To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

What has he gifted me with? I was lead to an exercise from listening to a book by Dan Miller called “Doing what you love in 48 Days”. It suggested having those that know you best tell you what they see as your gifts and then find the common denominator. If you’re in tune enough with yourself then that common denominator will reinforce what you’ve been hearing the Holy Spirit tell you.

Now what do I do with that information?

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Do I simply continue wandering? Or do I take that 1st step and trust?

2 Peter 1:10 Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.I say to myself, “Just take that 1st step Rhonda.” I hear Him say “Trust me!” So I’m getting off that wandering path. I will continue to be content in my current purpose while seeking out in WONDERMENT where it will lead me.

I don’t think God really cares about what path I take. But He does care that I’m doing everything I can, with the gifts that He has given me and with the purpose that He has instilled in my soul to love others, bring them to Him and give Him the glory for it all!’

 

I say to myself, “Just take that 1st step Rhonda.” I hear Him say “Trust me!” So I’m getting off that wandering path. I will continue to be content in my current purpose while seeking out in WONDERMENT where it will lead me.

I don’t think God really cares about what path I take. But He does care that I’m doing everything I can, with the gifts that He has given me and with the purpose that He has instilled in my soul to love others, bring them to Him and give Him the glory for it all!’

Pray with me please as I seek and wonder where I will be lead.

Lord, I know you have a plan. I know that your plan will happen in your time. I also know that I have to do my part. Please Lord give me the courage to Jump! Help me to trust You! Help me to be still so that I can hear You! Help me to move when You say move! I’m seeking Lord and I will find You! Amen!

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Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.I say to myself, “Just take that 1st step Rhonda.” I hear Him say “Trust me!” So I’m getting off that wandering path. I will continue to be content in my current purpose while seeking out in WONDERMENT where it will lead me.

I don’t think God really cares about what path I take. But He does care that I’m doing everything I can, with the gifts that He has given me and with the purpose that He has instilled in my soul to love others, bring them to Him and give Him the glory for it all!’

Pray with me please as I seek and wonder where I will be lead.

Lord, I know you have a plan. I know that your plan will happen in your time. I also know that I have to do my part. Please Lord give me the courage to Jump! Help me to trust You! Help me to be still so that I can hear You! Help me to move when You say move! I’m seeking Lord and I will find You! Amen!

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I say to myself, “Just take that 1st step Rhonda.” I hear Him say “Trust me!” So I’m getting off that wandering path. I will continue to be content in my current purpose while seeking out in WONDERMENT where it will lead me.

I don’t think God really cares about what path I take. But He does care that I’m doing everything I can, with the gifts that He has given me and with the purpose that He has instilled in my soul to love others, bring them to Him and give Him the glory for it all!’

Pray with me please as I seek and wonder where I will be lead.

Lord, I know you have a plan. I know that your plan will happen in your time. I also know that I have to do my part. Please Lord give me the courage to Jump! Help me to trust You! Help me to be still so that I can hear You! Help me to move when You say move! I’m seeking Lord and I will find You! Amen!

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If

#fmf

The word “IF” has all sorts of possibilities. I know in my life I have used it to finagle my words so that my mind or the person I was talking to would understand which direction I wanted to go.  What the end result would be!

“IF” it wasn’t for the the use of the word “IF” would a man be standing on the moon.  “I know it hasn’t ever been done but if………………………..”. What would the tomorrows be without “IF”

 

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Then there’s the “IF only”s .  Thinking back!  “IF only” I’d made a different choice.  “IF only” he’d been more committed. We use it to question our past or reminisce about the possibilities or out comes.

But “IF” I use the word “IF” today.

If I believed I was truly a child of God…….

John 1:12

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,

If I understood the love HE has for me…………

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!

If I grasped HIS unconditional love………….

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Romans 5:8

But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

If I trusted HIM……………..

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

Psalm 28:7

The Lord is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him.

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.

Matthew 6:25

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?

 

If I walked my day knowing that the ONE who got me through yesterday is the same ONE that will get me through tomorrow and will also help me through today.

Hebrews 13:8

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

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Lord, I’m going to use the word “if” to draw me closer to you.  And I pray Lord that “if” I write these words someone else would also draw closer.   Help me believe, understand, grasp, trust and walk in You. Amen!

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Beauty

There is beauty even when some would say the beauty has faded!

As I spend more time in my gardens, I see more and more beauty.  The varied shades of color.  The varied shapes.  The varied sizes.  The varied ways they sway in the breeze.  The varied way they speak to the bees & butterflies.  The varied smells that penetrate the air. The varied ways they penetrate my soul.  I find peace the the varied ways different makes me feel.  But one other thing that I’m starting to see, the more I pay attention, is that “there is beauty even when some would say the beauty has faded”.

The picture is of my Allium after they have finished showing themselves this spring.  In the prime of their season they were a beauty purple ball on a long slender green stem.  They are very interesting and very beautiful.   As their color started fading and I left them standing in my garden I found them still very interesting but it wasn’t until I started to pull them up and toss them in the compost pile that I found another form of beauty.   That is when my mind went to myself and if everyone were honest, we would all say that we have felt that time when our beauty seemed to be fading.  Probably the 1st time I felt that was in 1991 when I was forced to file for divorce.   Who I was and who I represented felt as if it had been stripped away and my beauty had faded over night. But what I’ve learned through many other situations, that brought the same feeling,  is that my beauty is not of man but of God.

1 Peter 3:3-4 

Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.

In all of my varied seasons of life, my beauty is that of my inner self.  The inner self that I have allowed God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit to indwell.   I have not always lived with a vibrant color, glowing with His Spirit and gentle nature but He still formed me and was patient with me.    This has taught me much.  This has given me comfort in the ugly times. Knowing that I again would emerge with much beauty.   This has also shown me the beauty in others.  Not to discount them and not to simply toss them in the compost pile because I believed they had out lived their beauty.

So I encourage you to look for that varied beauty in others.  Cherish it because He is the One who dwells within.

Lord, You are everlasting, ever patient, ever forming, and ever loving.  Amen!

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Restore

Oh how He will Restore!

#fmf

When I thought of restore, my mind immediately went to my flower garden behind my house and next to my porch.  It has always been full of beautiful things and I was looking forward to the spring when green would start popping up from the earth.  But then………… we were doing some work around the house and had to run a water line from the house to the back of the property.  The plumbers were specifically told NOT to go through the flower bed but when I came home there was a 2ft wide, 2ft deep trench dug all the way through my bed and my fountain was just thrown over on it’s side.  I had to stop and take a deep breath before I reacted.  I knew this was work that had to be done and if anyway possible for it to be done without this painful process and the up rooting of things, I knew it would happen.  But there wasn’t anyway to accomplish what was needed without working through the ugly first.  So I breathed deep and I did the work necessary to restore my flower beds.  Thankfully it wasn’t really that much because most everything in there were perennials and the digging wasn’t as painful for them as it was for me.

Then the thought jumped to myself.  The restoration process of myself hasn’t been that easy.  I had to dig through some pretty tough roots and clean away some pretty thick weeds to find restoration.

Acts 3:19-21

Repent therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.

He did that for me. He gave me the strength to keep digging. Raking away the old and filling in with the new.

Psalm 51:12

Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.

Believing in His restoring power, I trusted, I waited and I believed it would come.

Matthew 6:33

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Hosea 6:1

“Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.

When we set out to restore something, it’s not always to make it like it was before.  I find that comforting.  I’m able to take old, unusable things and make them useful and beautiful again.

Jesus did the same with me.  He restored me to a new me.  A better me.  A happier me.  A more grateful me.  A more confident me.  A more willing me.  He restored me into a me who was more like Him.  I’m not perfect and will not be until the day I sit by His side but until that day He will continue the restoration process in me.

Lord without You my life would not be as beautiful. I am so thankful that You never gave up on me.  I know that you had to take some very deep breaths at times but You waited until that perfect moment, You allowed me to drudge through hard stuff and heal.  You are my strength and my shield forever.  Amen!

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Preacher’s Kid

J28378557_10160318267525495_6813805649657481212_neanye Mercer:

I’ve known Jeanye for almost 40 years.  It’s been quiet some time since we’ve lived close to each other and the last time I physically seen her was in 2003 but she is always on my heart.  Even though our childhood lives were very different, we started out our young adult lives the same, married and trying to figure out exactly what that looked like. We both have learned a lot about life over the last 40 years, we both have grown our personal relationship with God, seen some weaknesses in ourselves, sought healing, love our children and adore our grands.   God has made us more than conquerors.  Romans 8

I’m the preacher’s kid.

I’m 55 years old, and that’s still one of my favorite descriptors. I have the faintest memories of a time before my dad was a preacher, but not many. When I was between 2 and 3 he enrolled in preacher’s school. (That’s the fancy way the church of my upbringing described seminary.) I remember him studying the Old Testament kings and prophets – and all the important begats. And I remember many evenings spent with their new best friends (who eventually became their old best friends) eating goulash and laughing. There was always lots of laughing!

I remember traveling with my family on Sunday mornings so Dad could either preach as a guest – or on the more stressful occasions “try out” for the preaching position. Mom would get Jamye and me up early, tease our hair in French poodle buns complete with clip on barrettes and pack our cinnamon toast and chocolate milk to go. We ate many a roast for lunch on those days at the family’s house whose turn it was to entertain the traveling preacher and his family. Then we would have Sunday night church and drive home late that night. On one of those Sunday nights we stopped at Dairy Queen for burgers, fries and chocolate shakes. Dad managed to back into a pole in the parking lot (he could tell you exactly what car he was driving) and all our shakes spilled into our laps. I’m not sure we were all laughing at that point. However, we’ve laughed many times over the years about that memory.

26993301_10160183671985495_3501762350244674524_nI remember vividly the night my Dad baptized me. I must have been in 3rd or 4th grade because I was wearing the long calico dress Mom had sewn for me to wear when performing with the world famous ukulele ensemble, Pickers and Plunkers. Many years later he would baptize both of my children. He performs all the family weddings and those of friends who are like family. He also blesses those in our circle who have died by speaking the most gracious words of acknowledgment and love to the grieving  friends and family left to honor and celebrate life. Anytime we need important, moving words for an occasion, Dad is our go-to guy.

My favorite memory from my childhood years of Dad’s preaching is such a simple one. Following each service Dad would walk to the back of the auditorium during the closing prayer and greet each member on their way out the door. We called it “shaking them out.” Jamye and I would wait off to the side because we knew our turn was coming. Dad would give us a big grin and a bigger hug and we would lock up and head home until the next time the church doors opened. (Cause you know a preacher’s kid is there every time the doors are open!)

It wasn’t all unicorns and cinnamon toast. Money was often short. Demands on the preacher and his family were often many. Dreams and plans were sometimes destroyed by the relocating that was common among preachers back then. But don’t worry! Every time we were asked to leave, there was a potluck luncheon, a homemade quilt and all 4 verses of Bless Be the Tie that Binds were sung to soften the blow. (Perhaps I have a tiny bit of bitterness hiding out in these memories.)

The gifts of being a preacher’s kid are many. My family and I have friends near and far who love us dearly and hold our memories as treasures. We sing great 4-part harmony – even acapella. We know a bit of Bible trivia – definitely more than the average Jeopardy player. And we are good people to have around during tough times.

There is one gift that easily stands out among the others. It is this: I never doubted my Dad’s love. Ever.  (even when I questioned and eventually left the church of our upbringing). Because of that extraordinary love, and the many years of listening to Dad preach words of grace and mercy to his people, I am able to accept the truth that God the Father loves me unconditionally as well. That’s extraordinary. Life altering. Undeniably central to all that I am or will ever be. And I am grateful. So very grateful.

I’m a preacher’s kid. My Dad’s kid. And I wouldn’t change that for the world.25594411_10160025151805495_7821467540334020693_n

You can find the art that Jeanye has created @ https://www.facebook.com/JeanyesArt/?pnref=lhc.  Art has been one way that she has been able to dig deep and heal.  Look her up on Facebook and encourage her.  If you find something you love, I’m sure she’d love to hear from you.

 

Lord, I thank you for bringing people in my life who are going to challenge me.  I thank you for reminding me that we are all fragile, in need of your love.  I ask  you to continue to be with Jeanye and her family.  Wrap your arms around them.   Amen!

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