Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lord of the Broken Fellowship

Twice.  Twice in 2012 two of my friends in ministry have been dismissed.  An then looking back in 2011, it happened to a family in ministry who I dearly loved.  Going back thirty years, year by year,  I can remember breaks of fellowship.  I cannot figure out what it is about vocational ministry, but it seems to break hearts.

I know, I know.  Satan attacks those in ministry.  I know, I know.  There are always two sides to every story.  But here's the thing as believers we elevate those who are in vocational ministry.  We long to be serving right next to them.  We "heroize" the broken people who fill these positions in churches, para-church ministries, and any type of artistic ministry.  (I made up the word "heroize" by the way.)

How do I know this?  Well, many years ago I longed to be on staff at a very cool  and trendy church.  So I made it happen.  I applied for the job as the Kiddie Kingdom Director.  I was in charge of about 500 little rug rats and their programs.  I'm not much of kid person, except for my own children and now grandchildren.  Anyway, I applied.  I met with the pastor and we both said we'd "pray about it."  Of course, I was hired immediately.  I became a hero by my own manipulation.

The next Tuesday, I got to go as a cool staff person to the very cool and elite staff meeting.  What a joke!  I lasted on the job about 3 weeks.  It was not what I imagined. My heart was embarrassed and broken.

Since then, I have been in vocational ministry for about 15 years in positions that fit my gifts and callings better.  Women's Ministry Director, Christian author and speaker, etc.  Here's what I have learned--all ministry is harder than anyone ever imagines.  There is brokenness of relationships in every church, just as much, if not more so than in the secular world.  We expect so much more out of Christians, but we continue to fail one another.  We break the hearts and fellowship of the very people who were our heroes.

The Apostle Paul wrote,

It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God's people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Ephesians 4:11-13 (NIV) (Emphasis mine.)

 "Until we all reach unity." Complete unity will not happen this side of heaven.  So, we will continue to break each other's hearts as we minister.    Thankfully, we serve a God who is the Lord of broken fellowships.  He knows because  he was betrayed by a friend serving in ministry too.  He understands even if we do not. 

Seek the Mystery in 2013, not the ministry.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Embraced by the Father

This book trailer was made by two of my dear friends, Nate Johnson and Dawn Bruner.  It's so beautiful that I just had to share it on  The Mystery and Minstrel.

If you are interested in purchasing Embraced by the Father you can find it on Amazon: Embraced by the Father. (It also available now in e-book form).   It is also available at CBD or  most Christian bookstores.

Seek the Mystery,

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I Quit!

“I quit! Parenting stinks!” I received this text from a mom of three teenagers.

I believe most moms have experienced moments of exasperation. Raising children brings joys and heartaches. These seasons fluctuate as children develop into adults and choose their own paths.  

Perhaps today you are in place of despair over your child’s decisions. Is anxiety overwhelming? Is emotional pain searing your heart as you watch your child wander away from the values you have tried to instill?   

If yes, please know that God is near to the broken-hearted. When the darkness of the unknown threatens to engulf us, we need to pray. He hears our prayers.

One of my favorite examples of God’s faithfulness is a dear friend and her substance -addicted son. She despaired that he would never turn back to the faith. One night she woke with a frenetic anxiety. She tossed and turned as she prayed. Then she noticed a thin stream of light slide through the blinds onto the nightstand. Her Bible lay open and the light fell narrowly on to one section. She got up and read,

This is what the LORD says: "Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded," declares the LORD. "They will return from the land of the enemy.
 So there is hope for your future," declares the LORD. "Your children will return to their own land.
(Jeremiah (31:16-17, NIV)

Immediately, she felt peace. She fell asleep.

Although, it was several years before she saw her child return to God, she never felt the deep angst again. She chose to believe that God is faithful and loved her son more than she ever could. She placed him in the hands of Everlasting Father.

Do you feel like texting, “I quit! Parenting stinks.”?  If yes, you’re not alone. Nevertheless, remember, God’s hands hold your child.  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Peace, Jerusalem, Peace


Oh Jerusalem,   


Oh, Jerusalem!

The bleached bones of your stones stand steadfast as the world attempts to dislodge you.

Your people look up, alert for falling debris, and then scurry for cover under man-made trenches.

But you, Oh Jerusalem, are built on the foundations of God’s will--stand upright.

Even if your people fall into the shadow of treachery and war, you will gleam in the Light.

If humanity turns against you as in the days of Rome, you will not be abandoned.

Oh, Jerusalem, twist your staggering glory toward the eastern sky. Watch for your King is near. 

You are His holy city. He comes to bring you Peace.

  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: "May those who love you be secure. 

 May there be peace within your walls and security within your citadels." 

 For the sake of my brothers and friends, I will say, "Peace be within you."  (Psalm 122:6-8 NIV)

Please pray for the peace of Israel and it's holy city Jerusalem.

Seek the Mystery,

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Sweet Potato Times

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (Ecclesiates 3:1)

Another Thanksgiving spent with my husband’s family. I did not want to go, again. I begrudged the yearly expectation to show up with a smile and a hot dish. My list of complaints grew each year as to why we shouldn’t go. For example:
  • The turkey stuffing included raisins.
  • The rolls were store bought.
  • The glazed ham with pineapple slices was not to my taste.
  • All we did was watch football, not play games. The women mingled in the kitchen; the men hung out in the den.
  • Plus, they always served sweet potatoes and I do not like them.
I griped incessantly each year pressuring my husband to stay home. My husband must have felt the truth of Proverbs 21:19, “Better to live in a tent in the wild than with a cross and petulant spouse.” (The Message)

Now the funny thing about it, I love his family. However, my independent spirit yearned for my own holiday traditions. Any small displeasure validated my excuse not to spend Thanksgiving with them.

Finally one year on the way to his parents' home, I snapped. The recipe I was assigned to bring was sweet potatoes. I’m sure you know the recipe that includes lots of brown sugar, marshmallows and butter spread across the top of the orange squashy vegetable. (Remember, I do not like sweet potatoes of any kind.) I wrapped the steamy dish in towels to transport it to Thanksgiving dinner. We piled the kids into the back seat. I plopped down in the front seat and my husband placed the hot pan of syrupy bubbling goo on my lap. As we rounded the first corner from our house, the pan slid, tipped and spilled all across my beige pants. My legs burned and my eyes filled with tears. I let all my pent-up frustration break upon my husband as my children sat silently with their eyes looking down. I ruined Thanksgiving for everyone.

As I look back, I realize how selfish I acted each year. My heart did not display thankfulness for my husband, my kids, the extended family or the abundance of delectable provision God provided each year. All I thought about was me. Even worse, I illustrated a poor example of Christian behavior to primarily unbelieving relatives.

Times change.

Two of my three grown children now live out-of-state. My dear mother-in-law passed away almost five years ago. Funny how time alters our feelings. At this moment, I would jump at the chance to return to a past Thanksgiving. I would watch my children play with their cousins. I would hug my mother-in-law. I would bring that silly marshmallow orange glob and I would eat it with relish. I miss those sweet potato times.

This Thanksgiving, remember to be grateful for the small things in life. And if you are married, give your husband the opportunity to say, “House and land are handed down from parents, but a congenial spouse comes straight from God.” (Proverbs 19:14 The Message.) Joyfully give thanks to the Father God not only for the food, but for the family, friends and circumstances that you find yourself involved with this Thanksgiving. Because times change and there is a season for everything.

My Prayer for Today:

Father, remind me that time changes circumstances. Let me display grace and thanksgiving throughout these holidays, regardless of what I want. Help me to exhibit kindness, patience and joy to my family and friends. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Seek the Mystery, 


Friday, October 26, 2012

Steep Grades, Sharp Curves

Life offered the warning, but they chose to ignore it. They believed they were owed the right to happiness, not just the pursuit of it. 

The layoff notice arrived.

The stock market crashed.

The lover betrayed.

The doctor called.

The surprise shocked their sensibilities. “How could this happen?” they asked.  They blamed God with shaking fists and cried, “Unfair!”

Yet, God gazed at them and opened wide His arms. He waited for their broken hearts to turn toward the heavens.  Peace is what He offered them.

 "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
John 16:33 (NIV)

Seeking the Mystery,

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dreams--- A Mustard Seed Muse

I reach for my dreams, but my arms are too short.

Others abandon me. Yet, I stand tall in the lush land of daydreams. 

I surround myself in nature to provide inspiration. Fragrant flowers taunt me with their artisan beauty. The abstract grass points toward the heavens as if to say, “Look up.”  The morning sun glints a vision of promise.

I accept  my limitations, yet acknowledge God’s infusion of dreams in my heart.   My arms might be short, but I stand tall in expectation.

In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. (Psalm 5:3, NIV)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Long-Haul Friendship

Long-haul friendship. Fabulous friends. Friends make my life lavish—with laughter, tears and caffeine. I recently received a card from a friend it read, “Having coffee with a friend is just another term for ‘THERAPY.”  
I cherish friends that are there over the long haul. They care about what is going on in the mundane minutes of the day. Most of the close friends I have in my life are friends that have been hanging around with me for many years. I could give you a list of names, but that wouldn’t mean much to you, although I would sure like to honor them.

My girlfriends have travelled through a lot of stuff with me. Living life, even through the joys, can be stressful. Here are a few of life events that my girlfriends and cup of coffee (or a glass of wine) have helped me conquer and even enjoy.

Kid’s weddings.  (I was blessed to be the mother of the groom. Couldn’t have dealt with being mother of the bride.)

Vocational ministry.  (Who would have known?)

Surgery.  (Foot surgery recovery about 18 months. Won’t do that again!)

Book Publication. (Love writing, hate the publication process)

Financial Fiascos. (Can we say 2006?)

I’m sure you get the picture. Where would we be without our girlfriends who lend a listening ear and offer some advice? Many times the advice is just,  “have another glass of wine” or  “let’s go to Starbucks” and that is usually sufficient to coax me off the ledge of despair.

What about your friends?   Why don’t you call one of them today and say, “Hey, long-haul friend, do you want to meet for coffee?”

Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of one's friend springs from his earnest counsel. Proverbs 27:9 (NIV)
 Seeking the Mystery,