Thursday, October 13, 2016

A Shout Out for Positivity...

In the sea of negativity and outright cyberbullying that has been flooding social media as of late, I thought I would share this thought.

A few days ago, one of my friends shared their thoughts on the person they were going to vote for this year. He did not bash the other candidate. He did not use any accusations of any kind. He simply listed the positive points about the candidate he was choosing. And I read his post. I will not say whether or not I agreed with his choice. But, his was one of the few where I sat back and thought, "Wow! This person has done some real research and had done a masterful job of showing the good points of their candidate." And the fact that he was able to do it without saying one divisive word about the other candidate made his post hold more weight than any other I have seen.

A well thought out positive post...that will always get my attention. And I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who feels this way.  

So, I'm issuing a challenge to everyone!  There are 26 more days until the election.  Do you have the strength to quit bashing the "other candidate" and for the next 26 days and post only positive things about the candidate you prefer.  Or if you prefer not to disclose who you are voting for, post only positive things about voting in general.  There used to be a song called "Accentuate the Positive" and it pops into my head from time to time.  You can click the link to hear the song, but basically it says, "Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on the affirmative and don't mess with Mr. Inbetween."  Sure it probably seems like a silly song, but if we lived by those rules, what a difference there would be in our world...and in our elections.

Are you up for the challenge?  Positivity speaks far louder than negativity, so if you really want to support your candidate, #accentuatethepositive.   Use the hastag.  Let's see if we can get it to trend.  Maybe we can end this election season on a positive note...regardless who wins.  

Who's with me?  #accentuatethepositive

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Saying Goodbye...

Grandma and her faithful companion, Bear.
In December of 2013, I moved in with my Grandma James.  I had taken a position at Anderson Parkview and because it was part-time, would not be able to afford my own place.  On the other hand, Grandma had reached the stage in life where she really needed someone around to help her.  So it was a perfect match.  And, though no one said so, I knew when I agreed to move in that I would be with her until she passed away.  And sadly, that time is drawing very near.

Family Vacation 1998
On Sunday, July 3rd, she went into the hospital and on Tuesday, July 5th, it was found that she was having a massive heart attack.  Because she was also dealing with a bleeding issue, there was nothing they could do for the heart attack and because of the heart attack there was nothing they could do to find the bleed.  So, the family was called in and everyone arrived hoping that they wouldn't be too late to say goodbye.  But we were given an unexpected blessing.  For the last few days, though her body is continually failing, her mind has been sharp and we have been able to have some wonderful times together.  Reminiscing, singing, praying, laughing, and even taking Communion together.  Our time with her is now quite short, but the past few days has reminded us of a few things that she had taught us over the years.  Important lessons that we will never forget.

Kindness Counts
Family Game Night
If you ever met my Grandma Claudia, you know the kind of person she is.  Her sweetness just pours out of her.  In fact, every nurse who took care of her in the hospital commented on how sweet she is. She treats every person she meets like a friend and friends are treated like family.  Every nurse that has cared for her has commented on her sweetness.  Last night, when one of them realized that she would be passing away soon, she cried...and these folks only met her a few days ago.  She literally leaves an impact on every person she matter the length of time she is with them.  And her impact is made through her kind, gentle spirit, and her compassion for all those around her.

We love when Grandma gets tickled.
Family is her life
There is never any doubt how Grandma feels about her family.  We all know that her dog, Bear, is her favorite in the family, however her love for the rest of us just pours out of every part of her.  Her words tell us she loves us, her actions show that she loves us, and her prayers surround us.  She brightens our good times and brings comfort and support during our trials.  When she is gone, there will be a hole bigger than Texas in all of our lives.  

Circumstances do NOT define who we are.
Though, there was a lot of joy in Grandma's life, there was a lot of pain as well.  But no matter how bad the situations in her life would get, her circumstances did not define her.  Her love for God showed through every situation that came her way.  Through the good, through the bad, in every day life, The love of Jesus shines through Grandma.

Life is Funny
Grandma and Laura
There will be funny things that happen in our lives.  And those funny circumstances should be shared and laughed over.  Our family has spent many many hours around the kitchen table playing games, talking about our lives, and laughing.  Lots of laughing.  We have many stories on Grandma and ourselves revolving around every day things that went off kilter.  Laughter keeps us going and memories of those times make tough times easier.  

Aunt Rona, Grandma and Rick
Jesus is her best friend.
I can't tell you how many times, I walked out of my room to find Grandma pouring over her Bible.  Even when it was no longer easy for her to read because her eyesight was getting worse, she would have her Bible out.  Studying the words of Scripture with a passion all her own.  When it was told to her that she would probably not survive this current health crisis, her response was simply, "If Jesus lets me stay, that's fine and if He takes me home, that's fine too."  But it was followed closely by words for all of us, "I want to see you all there too!"  And it wasn't a haphazard was a reminder to us that she wanted us to follow Jesus and live in such a way that we would indeed see her in heaven.

We've learned a lot from Grandma...and even now, we are learning how to leave gracefully.  I can not fathom what life will look like without her, but I am so blessed to have had her in my life for all these years. 

Grandma, Dad, and Aunt Rona

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A Journey I Never Expected...

The summer between my Freshman and Sophmore year of High School, I attended Nazarene Youth Congress.  That event changed the course of my life because during one of those worship services, I felt a call to full time Christian service...but I didn't know in what form as yet.  So, my journey began.

My family had been in Evangelism when I was growing up and I had a decent singing voice so I thought perhaps I was supposed to be a song evangelist.  But, I really had no idea if that was what I was supposed to do.  By the middle of my first semester at Trevecca Nazarene University, I was feeling pulled in a different direction and I changed my major from Vocal Performance to Music Business and I really felt like I was supposed to be used within the music industry...perhaps as a producer of Christian music or something of that nature.  But, I became ill before I finished my Music Business degree (though I had finished all the music classes, I lacked some of the business courses), and it seemed like God had a different plan for me.  My illness would not allow me to return to finish the few credits I lacked so I graduated with an AA in General Studies.  I was determined to follow that plan, but I still didn't know what that was.

While I was praying and trying to find out God's will for me, I took jobs as a church secretary and then later secretarial positions at both Ball State and Anderson University while I tried to discern God's plan for me.  For a time after college, I really thought I was supposed to make Christian films and one day own my own studio. I performed in Community Theater and learned all I could about performing and putting on performances and while I loved it, it still didn't seem like the right fit.

By this time I had moved back to Indiana and had been attending my home church in Middletown where I was a volunteer in both the children and youth departments.  I helped in any way they would let me.  Rev. Jill Waltz gave me added responsibilities and I was even slightly paid for a time as a leader of one of the areas.  I loved working with the children and I enjoyed seeing their eyes light up as they started to understand a Biblical concept or beam with pride when they memorized a scripture. For five years, I worked with Jill and she trained me in many aspects of children's ministry...but the whole time, I was struggling.  I couldn't figure out why the Lord wouldn't show me where He wanted me to work.  What was His plan?

And then one day, it hit a lighting bolt.  "You are to be a Children's Pastor."

And then the questioning began..."You can't mean me?  My Dad's a Pastor.  My brother is a Pastor.  You surely don't need me in the pastorate too?"

But God replied, gently but firmly, "Yes, I do.  I need you to be a Children's Pastor."

So, I went into Children's Ministry.  I received my first Local Minister's License from the Middletown Church of the Nazarene in 2003, took my first full time ministry assignment as the Children and Youth Pastor at the Muncie Southside Church of the Nazarene in 2004, was given my first District License in 2005 and have been working toward becoming and Ordained Elder since that time. 

This is not a journey I ever planned to take.  I knew when I started on it that it would not be easy.  In fact, at first I was terrified at the thought of being a Pastor. I knew that it would include new challenges, moments of joy, heartbreak, new friends, hard work, exhaustion and exhilaration.  But I also knew that the One who called me would walk through all those times with me.  And from the first step of this Journey...I never again felt like I wasn't where I was supposed to be.  I knew I was doing what God wanted.

Twenty five years ago, I told the Lord that I would go anywhere, do anything, and be whatever He wanted me to be.  So far that journey has literally taken me across the country, out of my comfort zone, and into places I never dreamed. On May 4th,  after 10 years and working toward the goal on four Districts in three States, I will be Ordained as an Elder in the Church of the Nazarene.  And I want to say "Thank you" to all of you who have supported me on this journey.  Whether you were there when it started 25 years ago, or have come along side me at some point since then, I want you to know that you are a blessing to my life. 

The Journey is by no means over, but this will be a milestone marker in my life and I just wanted to take a moment and reflect on the road that has brought me to this point.  God has been and continues to be my Guide, my Comfort, my Shelter, my All...and I look forward to continuing to follow His lead.