Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Safer Than a Known Way

"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year,
'Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown.'
And he replied;
'Go out into the darkness and 
put your hand into the hand of God,
that shall be to you better than light, 
and safer than a known way.' "
~M.L. Haskins~

Sunday, December 27, 2009

2010 - Hope, Joy, Peace

"I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit."  
Romans 15:13

This is our prayer for 2010!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Earnestly Desire the Greater Gifts

We all made Christmas lists this year.  It was a family tradition when we were growing up... we had to have our "list" ready on Thanksgiving (or we didn't get Thanksgiving dinner).  O.K. maybe that's a little weird, but that's the way my grandparents did it.  So, we made our lists.  My kids circled the things they want MOST.  I made my list reluctantly.  Yes, there are things I would like, but mostly I just want my family together (and getting along!). But then in tearing off the next page in my Bible verse-a-day calendar (that I actually gave to my Dad last Christmas but then kept it after he passed away) and it said "earnestly desire the greater gifts".  For my kids, that would be expensive electronic "toys".  As I thought about it, yeah, this is what I want... LOVE.  I noticed a lot in the past year how often the phrase "Give thanks to the Lord for He is GOOD, His FAITHFUL LOVE endures forever" occurs in the Old Testament.  I/we have experienced His faithful love to us and His goodness, in spite of the very difficult, confusing and painful experiences of this past year.  I am asking God to help me love in the way He loves.  I earnestly desire this greatest gift.

The Way of Love
 1 If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don't love, I'm nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. 2If I speak God's Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, "Jump," and it jumps, but I don't love, I'm nothing. 3-7If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don't love, I've gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I'm bankrupt without love.

   Love never gives up.
   Love cares more for others than for self.
   Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
   Love doesn't strut,
   Doesn't have a swelled head,
   Doesn't force itself on others,
   Isn't always "me first,"
   Doesn't fly off the handle,
   Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
   Doesn't revel when others grovel,
   Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
   Puts up with anything,
   Trusts God always,
   Always looks for the best,
   Never looks back,
   But keeps going to the end.
 8-10Love never dies. Inspired speech will be over some day; praying in tongues will end; understanding will reach its limit. We know only a portion of the truth, and what we say about God is always incomplete. But when the Complete arrives, our incompletes will be canceled.
 11When I was an infant at my mother's breast, I gurgled and cooed like any infant. When I grew up, I left those infant ways for good.
 12We don't yet see things clearly. We're squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won't be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We'll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
 13But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: Trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Politically Correct Greetings

(Borrowed from a friend)

To all my Democrat friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2010, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wish.

To all my Republican friends:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It's Christmas-Eve-Eve!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas gift suggestions

Borrowed from my friend, Alida:

Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.”

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas Music

In my line of work I am around music ALL the time.  It's been a joy this season to be hearing the words to wonderful Christmas music (over and over and over... grin).  I've mentioned other times how much the words to hymns and songs touch my heart.  I'm so thankful for these deep rich words put to music. 
I know I don't have many readers, but those one or two  of you who do... take some time to really look at the words to the Christmas hymns (I'm not talkin' "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer") this week.  Let the words wash over you as you consider all that God has done for us.

"Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn King!" 
Peace on earth and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!
Joyful all ye nations, rise!  Join the triumph of the skies!
With th'angelic hosts proclaim, 'Christ is born in Bethlehem!'
Hark the herald angels sing, glory to the newborn King!"

"Gloria in excelsis Deo!"

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

My Own Shoes

I’ve been thinking about shoes lately.   My predecessor apparently had awesome shoes.  When I asked one of my students about the former accompanist, one of the first things she mentioned about her was her shoes. Apparently she had quite a collection of them, one that was noticed and admired by the students.  I was suddenly embarrassed about my own shoes… black clogs…. very well worn and faded. I felt a little sheepish with such un-awesome shoes. But, they are comfortable. They fit me well. I have to walk around in them all day long and my feet don’t hurt me at the end of the day. In another way, my predecessor left very large shoes for me to fill. I’m realizing as the time passes at my new job just all that she did.

It reminds me of a story I heard a few months ago. A very large church in Northern California had a very well known pastor. The pastor died leaving quite a legacy. A new pastor was eventually selected and was being shown around the grounds. He heard the many stories of his predecessor, all the wonderful things he did and the many people he touched. As he ended the tour of the grounds, the elder showing him around turned and said; “You’ve got some mighty big shoes to fill!”  The wise pastor responded; “I’ve got my own shoes”.

Jesus came with his own “shoes”, too. When He came, others expected Him to wear the shoes they had for Him… the shoes of an emperor, a king, a liberator, a politician, a priest… But Jesus came with His own shoes, His own way of doing things, led by His Father. He did not fill the shoes others had for Him, yet He did exactly what He was called to do. He did not fit their image of what He should be yet He was exactly who they (and we) needed! Thank God He did not change His shoes and wear the ones others had for Him.

Sometimes churches have different “shoes” that they want their pastor to fill.  The shoes might be flip-flops (a more casual personality and approach to doing things), they could be sneakers, penny loafers, or hob-nail boots, whatever the shoes, and they are not “right” unless they are the pastor’s own shoes. Trying to wear someone else’s shoes can cause painful blisters, sore feet, and even difficulty standing and walking. It could throw the whole body out of alignment by wearing the wrong shoes. Trying to wear someone else’s shoes feels un-natural and uncomfortable. It’s best to let people “wear their own shoes”. Let them be who they are. This goes for pastors, accompanists, teachers, husbands and wives. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that we don’t have standards. I’m just saying; let people wear their own shoes. Trust the ones who are wearing them to conduct their lives according to God’s plan and purpose for them.

Let’s give each other room to be ourselves! I’m glad I don’t have to wear the shoes left for me by my predecessor; they wouldn't fit me anyway. I have my own shoes.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Happy anniversary to us!  19 years ago today I married the greatest, most wonderful, gentle, kind, loving, godly man ever!  We are hoping and praying for many, many more years together! 

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Past, Present, Yet To Come

 "The Collector", "Jacob Marley", and "Martha Crachit".

Three of my kids are in the local High School production of "A Christmas Carol".  Last night was the first performance, tonight is the second.
Ever the pensive one, I begin to think of Christmases past, of Christmas present and Christmases yet to come.
Past: I have a few regrets, but none related to family except that I wish we hadn't let other things  distract us from family and focusing on Christ at Christmas. We needed to say "no" more often.  We also needed to say "it doesn't matter what people think" more often!
Present: It's good, but just sad because of being "orphans" as it were.  We have no more parents.  We're "it".  Thankfully we have siblings! I'm so thankful to have my little brother and his family nearby!  We enjoy our family traditions during the Advent season.  One of the things we do is to light our Advent candle and read a small section of a story each evening.  It helps us re-focus and bind us together more as a family.  I'm hoping my children will one day carry on this tradition with their families!

Christmases Yet to Come:  Like most people, we hope for good... (who would hope for bad?!) I look forward to happy Christmases with family and friends.  I long to have my children and (someday) grandchildren around us celebrating together.  I long for Christian friends who will simply reflect and celebrate with us "the reason for the season" (boy is that quote over-used!  But it says it well).
As Tiny Tim says, "God bless us, everyone!".  

Friday, December 4, 2009

Christ[mas] Presence

Last night we spent part of the evening at Exeter's downtown "Open House".  This is an annual event on the three Thursday nights before Christmas.  It's a very festive time... the stores are open late and most of them have food out for the patrons.  Our Madrigal choir did some "Caroling" downtown.   The local fire department was giving rides on old fire trucks for the kids, and "Santa" was there for photos with children.  All in all it's a great "home town" Christmas time.   But something was missing this year, the presence of a church at the downtown event.  For the past several years our church had a table downtown and gave away free cocoa and Christian literature as well as little "goodies" for the kids.  I wish we could have done that this year!  It makes me sad.    No Bibles, no books, no tracts were given out... no visible presence in the community of a church that gives freely at Christmas (because we have been given so much!)  We may not have done everything right, but we did care and we did reach out.  Now we care and reach out in smaller more quiet and individual ways.  Maybe that's the way it's supposed to be after all?  That will be our Christmas "presence" this year. 

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Writer's Block

I installed a counter to see how many people visit my blog.  Since I deleted what were perhaps the most "offensive" posts hardly anyone has gone on here!  I guess if I don't write something controversial or offensive no body even looks at my blog.  Hmmm... what to do?  Don't worry I won't go the "offensive" route.  I never mean to offend anyone anyway! Did you know that I once wore blue socks with black pants and brown shoes?  (Gasp!! In public!)
So... controversial topics:
How 'bout the Raiders this year?  (OK, I'm not into sports so I won't go there)
Obama's health care plan?  (where is that smiley face that looks like it's gagging?)
Global warming?  NOT!
Whether or not to say  "Merry Christmas!"  (I have "Merry Christmas" scrolling across my computer as a screen saver!)
I just can't think of what to write.  Sorry.  Maybe I'll be inspired tomorrow.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Joyeux Noel

This is what I watched while folding 4 loads of laundry today.

"Synopsis: Set in 1914 amid the muddy trenches and flying shrapnel of World War I, JOYEUX NOEL is a touching tale of an unlikely, if fleeting, reconciliation amid battle. French director Christian Carion begins his movie--which is based on a true event--by highlighting how startlingly close the warring factions are located to one another. Trenches occupied by French and Scottish troops lay a mere hairbreadth away from their German counterparts, to the point where an alarm clock in the French trench can be heard in all three dugouts. Carion adds a generous helping of gallows humor to this and similar scenes, although he makes sure to carefully rein in the comical elements of the movie to portray the fear that grips the men as they face their enemies. Suddenly, and entirely accidentally, Christmas Day brings a magical event that would forever sear the history books with a moment of humanity in the midst of bloody battle. The Germans place Christmas trees above their trench simply to get them out of the way, while Scottish bagpipers play along to the operatic voices they hear wafting over from the German camp. Then, as if by magic, all the men are united in No Man's Land for a festive celebration. The men tentatively make friends, show each other pictures of faraway lovers, and play soccer across the snowy landscape, all the while knowing that the coming days may find them killing one another. Carion crafts an emotional picture in JOYEUX NOEL, but never shirks from highlighting the horrific fates that possibly await his collection of characters. Although the occasion around which the film revolves is celebratory, JOYEUX NOEL is full of suitably melancholy antiwar sentiments, making for utterly compelling viewing."
-from "Rotten Tomatoes" movie review. 

Friday, November 27, 2009

When the Lights Come On

Today we decorated for Christmas.  It's bittersweet this year and I'm very pensive.  We have all of Dad's Christmas stuff, but not Dad.  We used his tree this year.  It's bigger than ours and nicer, too!  I got out the whole Christmas village (with one addition from Dad's place, a church).  We've been collecting pieces to this over the years.  A lot of it is from "It's a Wonderful Life" (the Bijoux Theater, Gowlers's Drug Store, Bailey's Building and Loan, Martini's Bar).  I plugged everything in but the only ones to come on were the Drug Store, Potter's Bank and Martini's Bar.  The churches (we have two in our set), and the houses remained dark.  Hmmmm, what does this say?  I see symbolism in most everything.  Anymore, the churches do seem to be dark.  Fewer and fewer are there.  The drug store, banks and bars are full.  Maybe we should spend more time out where the people are while bringing light back into the churches.  "Shine your light and let the whole world see.  We're singing for the glory of the risen King!" 

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day Psalm

"I will exalt you, Lord, for you rescued me.
      You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.

  O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
      and you restored my health.
  You brought me up from the grave, O Lord.
      You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

  Sing to the Lord, all you godly ones!
      Praise his holy name.
  For his anger lasts only a moment,
      but his favor lasts a lifetime!
   Weeping may last through the night,
      but joy comes with the morning.

 When I was prosperous, I said,
      “Nothing can stop me now!”
 Your favor, O Lord, made me as secure as a mountain.
      Then you turned away from me, and I was shattered.

 I cried out to you, O Lord.
      I begged the Lord for mercy, saying,
 “What will you gain if I die,
      if I sink into the grave?
   Can my dust praise you?
      Can it tell of your faithfulness?
 Hear me, Lord, and have mercy on me.
      Help me, O Lord.”

 You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
      You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
 that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
      O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!"

-Psalm 30

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

I'm Thankful for... (part deux)

Thanksgiving Holiday
Fall weather
a fire in the fireplace
beautiful flowers from my neighbor
God's acceptance of me
my very caring husband
God's faithfulness!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I'm Thankful for....

each new day that I wake up
hot showers
orange juice
hot tea and cozy blanket while reading my Bible in the morning
my new job
the new "kids" I'm getting to know at my new job
how well my kids are doing at school
my husband's work and new ministry
food to eat
clothes to wear
Rachel's impish grin
Debra's cute giggle
Michael's wonderful sense of humor
Joseph's pretty blue eyes
Jim... and all He is!!
my brothers and sister and our friendship that has grown into "adulthood"
long time friends who love me as I am
Judy A.
God's grace
God's forgiveness
God's mercy
God's love
God's faithfulness

to be continued....

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"As we come to Christ and learn to rest in the good news of the gospel, we learn to be real with ourselves and other people.  We no longer need to live for the approval of other people because we now we have the favor of God upon us. Because we are becoming more honest with our own sins and weaknesses we become less judgmental of other people.  We learn to demonstrate grace as we have been shown grace."
-Brennan Manning

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Words of Wisdom from Elisabeth Elliott

I get a daily devotional from Elisabeth Elliott.  This was today's.  

"Nothing is Lost
A pastor's wife asked, "When one witnesses a work he has poured his life into 'go up in flames' (especially if he is not culpable), is it the work of Satan or the hand of God?"
Often it is the former, always it is under the control of the latter. In the biographies of the Bible we find men whose work for God seemed to be a flop at the time--Moses' repeated efforts to persuade Pharaoh, Jeremiah's pleas for repentance, the good king Josiah's reforms, rewarded in the end by his being slain by a pagan king. Sin had plenty to do with the seeming failures, but God was then, as He is now, the "blessed controller of all things" (1 Timothy 6:15, PHILLIPS). He has granted to us human beings responsibility to make choices and to live with the consequences. This means that everybody suffers--sometimes for his or her own sins, sometimes for those of others.
There are paradoxes here which we cannot plumb. But we can always look at the experiences of our own lives in the light of the life of our Lord Jesus. How shall we learn to "abide" (stay put) in Christ, enter into the fellowship of His sufferings, let Him transform our own? There is only one way. It is by living each event, including having things "go up in flames," as Christ lived: in the peace of the Father's will. Did His earthly work appear to be a thundering success? He met with argument, unbelief, scorn in Pharisees and others. Crowds followed Him--not because they wanted His Truth, but because they liked handouts such as bread and fish and physical healing. His own disciples were "fools and slow of heart to believe." (Why didn't Jesus make them believe? For the reason given above.) These men who had lived intimately with Him, heard His teaching for three years, watched His life and miracles, still had little idea what He was talking about on the evening before His death. Judas betrayed Him, Peter denied Him. The rest of them went to sleep when He asked them to stay awake. In the end they all forsook Him and fled. Peter repented with tears and later saw clearly what had taken place. In his sermon to the Jews of Jerusalem (Acts 2:23, PHILLIPS) he said, "This man, who was put into your power by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed up and murdered.... But God would not allow the bitter pains of death to touch him. He raised him to life again--and there was nothing by which death could hold such a man."
There is nothing by which death can hold any of His faithful servants, either. Settle it, once and for all--YOU CAN NEVER LOSE WHAT YOU HAVE OFFERED TO CHRIST. It's the man who tries to save himself (or his reputation or his work or his dreams of success or fulfillment) who loses. Jesus gave us His word that if we'd lose our lives for His sake, we'd find them"

With God, nothing is ever lost.  From a human perspective it may look like failure and loss but God's ways are higher, wiser, greater, better than ours.   

Friday, November 13, 2009

8 Years Later

Eight years ago on this date we arrived in California to begin the task God called us to... planting a church here in Exeter. We never once doubted God's call. What we also know is that God's call to serve does not come with a pain free guarantee or problem free existence.
A few days before we arrived here my mother went to the hospital for emergency surgery. She passed away exactly 4 weeks after we arrived. We were able to see her and spend some time with her before she passed. One of the reasons God had us here was to be here for my Dad who was left alone after 55 years of marriage to my mom. We had 8 good years with my Dad. We often talked about how much we were there for each other. I'm so grateful to God for allowing us those years together.
The church plant was a growing experience yet was not without problems, pain, and difficulties.  In spite of those difficulties - God was, and is, faithful.  We never doubted His call on our lives and stayed "at our post" to serve faithfully where we were called.  There were highs.... times of growth and wonderful worship and learning. There were lows... the loss of families and, ultimately, the death of the church (which coincided with the death of my father). 

 Where are we now - after 8 years?
We've all grown - older and wiser.  Our sons are seniors in high school, one of our daughters is a sophomore and the other in 5th grade.
We have entered a new phase of life and ministry.   Both Jim and I are working full time outside of the home and outside of the church and we are both working part time in a new ministry.  Our experiences over the past 8 years have prepared us for this point.  We are finding more and more opportunities to serve where God has placed us and we are excited about what He has planned for us and our family.  As always, we continue to trust in His grace, mercy, compassion and faithfulness!
"His grace has brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home". 

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

In Honor of My Dad

My Dad, Robert Mixter, was proud to be an American, proud to serve in his community and church, proud of his family and proud to have served his country in the U.S. Army.   He's been gone 3 months now.  I miss him greatly.  Here is the Obituary that was published in our local paper.  Happy Veteran's Day, Dad!

"The end of an era was marked this last Tuesday with the passing of one of Exeter's great citizens.
Robert 'Bob' Mixter passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on Aug. 4 after a very brief illness and hospital stay. He was 87 years old. The name Mixter will be familiar to most long-time Exeter residents; it is the name that marked the family pharmacy that stood on the corner of Pine and E streets for most of the 20th Century.
Bob was the last member of the Mixter druggists that owned and operated the landmark business. The family drugstore was established by Bob's grandfather Frank W. Mixter in 1905, originally occupying a building a half block to the west of the better known site.
Frank Mixter had the two-story brick Mixter building built in 1909 and in the 1930s passed the family business on to two of his eldest sons, Norbert and Earl. Earl set up shop in Visalia, and Norbert continued the business in Exeter. In 1946, Bob joined the business with his father, later becoming a partner, and upon Norbert's retirement in 1973, Bob became owner of the store with his wife and fellow pharmacist Eleanor Mixter.
Bob was born on Feb. 25, 1922, the only child of Norbert and Mabelle Mixter. He attended Exeter Schools, graduating in 1940. He attended Visalia Junior College, Cal Berkeley and the UCSF School of Pharmacy. Upon graduation, Bob enlisted in the Army and attained the rank of Staff Sergeant; he was stationed briefly in Germany as part of the 970th Counter Intelligence Corps Detachment, and was part of the post- war reconstruction.
At the end of his tour of duty, Bob returned to his hometown of Exeter to marry his college sweetheart and classmate Eleanor Oltmans. They were married on Oct. 20, 1946. While Bob began work at the family drugstore, Eleanor worked as a pharmacist when needed at the family business and for other pharmacies, including Porterville State Hospital. In 1952, Bob and Eleanor started a family with the birth of daughter Grace. Bruce followed in 1954, Jean in 1957 and Neal in 1959.
While active in the family business, Bob also found time to serve on the Exeter Union Elementary District school board, was a member of the local Masonic Lodge, and served as Lions Club treasurer for 25 years.
He was a life member of the Exeter Alumni Association and still met with his Class of ë40 friends.
In later years, he served in the First Presbyterian Church as a Deacon and Trustee. Even into his last week he faithfully attended to his duties at the church serving as an usher, proofreading bulletins and coordinating communion servers.
Bob loved the mountains. He grew up hiking and fly-fishing at the family cabin in Mineral King. Bob and Eleanor introduced their children to the mountains at an early age.
Some of the best childhood memories of Grace, Bruce, Jean and Neal involve summer trips up the long windy road in the back of dad's 1952 Ford pick-up.
In later years Bob and Eleanor enjoyed visiting the family cabin (from Mabelle's side of the family) in Wilsonia.
Bob was planning a trip up to the cabin with sons Bruce and Neal on the day he took ill.
Bob and Eleanor closed the family business in 1985, when Bob retired and Eleanor continued working as a relief pharmacist for other pharmacies in Tulare and Farmersville.
In 1991, while it was undergoing remodeling, the Mixter building was destroyed by fire.
Some of the highlights of Bob and Eleanor's later years together were a trip to the Holy Land, trips to Europe to visit Bruce and Jean, an Alaskan Cruise, and spending time with their children and grandchildren.
For their 50th wedding anniversary, they treated the entire family to a trip to Disneyland.
In 1998, Bob had the pleasure of helping to dedicate Mixter Park, honoring his grandfather and former State Senator F.W. Mixter, at the site of the family business and landmark building.
Bob was preceded in death by his mother and father, and in 2001 by his beloved wife and best friend Eleanor.
He is survived by his four children, Grace Ogas-Todd of Cleveland, Tennessee; Drs. Bruce and Julie Mixter of Austin, Colorado; Pastor Jim and Jean Newman of Exeter, California; and Neal and Bunny Mixter of Reedley, California.
He has eleven grandchildren, and was awaiting the arrival of his first great-grandson due the end of this month."  (baby Jonah was born a week or so after Dad's death)

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Finally, Training for Pastor's Wives!

 Warning:  Before reading this, please note that it is another "Lark News" article.  It's sarcastic, it's funny, it's meant to be laughed at.  For those of my readers who are pastor's wives... enjoy!!  For the rest of you, you can enjoy it too... and then pray for the rest of us! :)

"LAFAYETTE — This Fall, King of King's College welcomed its first candidates for a groundbreaking minor in pastor's wiving, the first such degree offered in the country.
    "After years of grasping in the dark, pastors' wives can now get all the knowledge they need in one place," says professor Helen DuLac, the minor's director.
    The college created the degree in response to complaints from female Christian college students that they receive an overabundance of "book learning," but comparatively little practical help for their eventual careers as pastor's wives.
    "With a normal degree, I may learn a few facts about the first-century church," says Debbie Kraus, 19. "But what good is that when my women's ministry group wants me to lead them in making a cute and clever seasonal craft?"
    The minor doesn't require any academic courses.
    "To be a pastor's wife you don't have to speak Greek and Hebrew, just be able to listen to it with an expression of sincere interest," says DuLac.
    In the chapel on the King of King's campus, twelve well-dressed female students sit on the front pew, their hair perfectly groomed, their nails painted a modest pink. Bibles are open on each lap. Though nobody is preaching and the room is all but empty, they nod and smile in silence, occasionally throwing in a demure "That's right" or "Amen." Finally, an instructor with a stopwatch yells, "Time's up!"
    The students collapse in their seats, rubbing their necks and cheek muscles.
    "We have to do that every Sunday?" one asks.
    "And Wednesdays, and special events," groans another.
    These aspiring ministerial mates are learning how to smile pleasantly in the face of devastating criticism, how to lead women's ministry groups rife with in-fighting and how to worship in demonstrative yet non-offensive ways, appropriate to their church setting.
    The professors take pride in "getting real" about pastor's wiving.
    "They'll have to deal with whiny women seeking marriage advice they won't ever use. Children who go through extreme rebellion; board members who accuse them of secretly controlling the pastor, and being called the 'b word' on occasion," says DuLac. "Our saying is, 'Slay 'em and smile.' This is more than a career. It's all-out war with your congregation."
    Students must keep tight emotional control in the midst of intense scrutiny. In the classroom they must be instantly ready to sing a solo or give a "good word" of support for their husband. Bonus credit is given to those who, while testifying, can oscillate quickly from tender tears to godly resolve — all while displaying utmost femininity.
    "I never thought it would be this tough," says one student after a grueling craft-making mid-term. "Maybe I should be a schoolteacher." •

All content © 2003 All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

A Taste of Heaven

Last night we attended a dinner honoring local Pastors and their wives.  This is the 4th year in a row to have this in our small town.  Mary S. organizes, plans and prepares all the food (with help) and has a special program each year. 
The tables were set beautifully with fancy dishes, beautiful flowers, candles and home made gifts for each couple.  The food was fabulous (as usual) and the companionship - heavenly!
Last night, instead of having one person pray for the meal each table spontaneously held hands and prayed, thanking God for the meal and the time to be together.  As we sat and ate and talked I was thinking that this really is a small taste of heaven.  Each table was full of faithful pastors and wives talking about their experiences, lives, ministries, missions, etc.  and even mundane (but wonderful) things, like houses, yards, kids, etc.  It was such a joy to fellowship with fellow workers.  What was even more wonderful is that we were from all different denominations, but did not have even one "argument" about theology, doctrine, etc.  We just shared our lives together for a few hours.  What was clear is that we all believe the basics about Jesus, salvation, and the need for those who do not yet know Christ to come to know Him.  We are all burdened for our small town. 
At the close of the meal we went into the sanctuary where we were treated to a program put on by two girls, ages 7 and 11.  They were amazing!  The 7 year old spoke, encouraged us with Scripture and sang beautifully!   The 11 year old is a harpist (who takes lessons from the Harpist for the Fresno Philharmonic) and played 3 beautiful pieces. 
The whole evening for me was a small taste of what heaven will be like someday.... people from every tongues and tribe and people and nation (and denomination!) together worshiping God and sharing stories of their lives on earth. 
"O taste and see that the Lord is good!"

Friday, November 6, 2009

Last night the EUHS Madrigal choir sang for the Citrus Mutual annual dinner (meeting?).  We sang in the convention center in a large ball room.  The singing went well, but what impressed me was, after we sang the National Anthem we said the Pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag, which always moves me.  After that there was an invocation.  I didn't know what to expect but was presently surprised.  The woman who prayed asked God's blessing on the coming year's crops and protection for them as "we" provide food for the world.  I was really touched and grateful that we live in a country where a large group like this has the freedom to acknowledge God and ask for His blessing and protection.  I was impressed by their humility in acknowledging God.  I'm thankful for the freedoms we still enjoy!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pet Diaries - part II

From a cat's diary:
Day  983 of my captivity...

My captors  continue to taunt me with bizarre little  dangling objects.
They dine lavishly on  fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are  fed
hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the  rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat  something in order to keep up my  strength.  The only thing that keeps me  going is my dream of escape.  In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the  carpet. 
Today I decapitated a mouse and  dropped its headless body at their feet.  I had hoped this would strike fear into  their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what  I am capable of.  However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little  hunter' I am.  Bastards.
There was  some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight.  I was placed in solitary  confinement for the duration of the event   However, I could hear the noises and smell  the food.  I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.'  I  must learn what this means and how to use it to  my advantage.
Today I was almost  successful in an attempt to assassinate one of  my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he  was walking.  I must try this again  tomorrow -- but at the top of the  stairs.
I am convinced that the other  prisoners here are flunkies and snitches.  The dog receives special privileges He is  regularly released - and seems to be more than  willing to return.  He is obviously  retarded.
The bird has got to be an  informant.  I observe him communicating  with the guards regularly.  I am certain  that he reports my every move.  My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an  elevated cell, so he is safe.  For  now................

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Pets Diaries - part I

Excerpts from a Dog's  Diary......
8:00 am - Dog food! My  favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My  favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park!  My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and  petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch!  My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in  the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm -  Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00  pm - Milk Bones! My favorite  thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My  favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched  TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00  pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite  thing!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I'm Sorry

It has been brought to my attention that some of the things I've written on here have caused offense.  My desire is to honor God while at the same time being honest and saying what's on my mind and heart.  I guess I have not honored God in some of my blog posts.  For that I am truly sorry and I will try to be more careful in the future.
For those of you who have been offended, I am also sorry.  I wish that you had told me personally rather than my having to find out in a rather round about way.
Please - if you have a problem with me or my blog posts -I'd appreciate you contacting me in person.
Thank you!

P.S. Meanwhile I have deleted some of my posts.  Hope this helps.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I took these last week at "my" office.  This is my new "home away from home".  My desk is the one further back in the photo.  My boss' desk is nearest the camera.   The flowers are from some of my students for my birthday last week. 
I'm really enjoying my new job.  It's challenging but also a lot of fun getting to know new people and new students!  I'm very thankful for the work , the experiences and the steady income.
Jim, too, is working steadily and learning a lot at the same time.  As I mentioned in my last post, we're having more opportunities for "ministry" now that we're out in the "real world".  We're happier, too!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Random Saturday Musings

You know your children are getting older when the pizza order for Friday night changes from "just cheese" pizza to "Sausage and Pepperoni" or "Canadian Bacon and Pineapple".  It's a weird thing but it made me a little sad last night on one hand, and really content on the other.  My kids are growing up!  

Exeter's Fall Festival Parade.  It's a tradition for us.  As long as I can remember (and have been in town) we've gone to "the parade".  When I was in school I marched in the parade for 10 years and my parents and grandparents (and Drug store employees) would watch from inside the drug store on the corner of Pine and E streets.  Now we grab a spot along Pine street and watch.  I still love it.  There's something about a small town tradition... the bands, the big trucks, the baton twirling groups and the street sweeper at the end (for whom we stand and cheer each time!).  They didn't have the grown men in their funny little cars this year.... how sad.
This is the first parade without Dad.  It hits me at different times.  I miss him.

Today I read Psalm 133: 
"How good and pleasant it is
       when brothers live together in unity!

  It is like precious oil poured on the head,
       running down on the beard,
       running down on Aaron's beard,
       down upon the collar of his robes.

 It is as if the dew of Hermon
       were falling on Mount Zion.
       For there the LORD bestows his blessing,
       even life forevermore."

I started thinking about the antithesis of this:

"How evil and unpleasant it is 
when brothers live together in disunity.
It is like rancid oil poured on the head, 
running down on the beard....
It is as if there is no dew on Hermon
as if there has been a drought on Mount Hermon.
For there the Lord does not bestow his blessing,
and there will not be life forevermore."

Oh that we could be people of God who live together in unity, for there the Lord blesses!!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Love Attracts!

I recently got an email from a good friend of ours, who happens to be a missionary in France.  She talked about some of the difficulties facing their church.  Churches have difficulties in all parts of the world.  But, then she talked about some of the good things happening.   This is what she said:

"... one of the neighbor ladies came and spoke to a church member who came to set up chairs on Saturday. She said, “During the summer, when the windows are open, I hear you singing such joyous songs. Every Sunday morning I walk to the bakery to get bread and I see all of you talking together outside. You seem so happy and content to be with each other. I was wondering if I could come. 
She did come to the service the next day, introduced herself publically saying she was looking for “a place to pray”, and at the end of the service had tears in her eyes. She told me that the sermon was so interesting that she had taken notes and wanted to reread them during the week.  I asked if she had a Bible, and she said “No, could I borrow one? I’ll give it back!”  So I gave her a Bible and marked the page from where the sermon text was taken.  She obviously knew very little about the Bible and had no concept that it was divided into the Old and New Testaments.  She came back last week. I was the one giving the message and she asked if I could give her a copy.
            In these days when over-involvement is causing many believers to pull back from church life, it was clearly our life as a community that attracted this woman. Pray that she would come to be a disciple of Jesus and that we would know how to best walk with her in this journey. 

What struck me was what I've been talking about in other posts.  The best witness to those around us is our love for each other!  An atmosphere of love, acceptance, grace and kindness is a HUGE attraction to those around us.  On the other hand... when there are arguments and fights... when people clearly do NOT get along it is a HUGE turnoff!  Yeah, I know, I just said this same thing in a post a week or two ago.  I just thought it was interesting and timely that my friend in France would say the same thing.  

Friday, September 25, 2009

Why I Love The Psalms

I love the Psalms.  The psalmists were honest with their feelings.  They didn't pretend everything was wonderful but still expressed trust in God.   It gives me great comfort to know that others before me (thousands of years before me) experienced grief, pain, disappointment and loss.   This is today's psalm:

Psalm 118

 1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
      His faithful love endures forever.
 2 Let all Israel repeat:
      “His faithful love endures forever.”
 3 Let Aaron’s descendants, the priests, repeat:
      “His faithful love endures forever.”
 4 Let all who fear the Lord repeat:
      “His faithful love endures forever.”
 5 In my distress I prayed to the Lord,
      and the Lord answered me and set me free.
 6 The Lord is for me, so I will have no fear.
      What can mere people do to me?
 7 Yes, the Lord is for me; he will help me.
      I will look in triumph at those who hate me.
 8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
      than to trust in people.
 9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
      than to trust in princes.
 10 Though hostile nations surrounded me,
      I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord.
 11 Yes, they surrounded and attacked me,
      but I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord.
 12 They swarmed around me like bees;
      they blazed against me like a crackling fire.
      But I destroyed them all with the authority of the Lord.
 13 My enemies did their best to kill me,
      but the Lord rescued me.
 14 The Lord is my strength and my song;
      he has given me victory.
 15 Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly.
      The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!
 16 The strong right arm of the Lord is raised in triumph.
      The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!
 17 I will not die; instead, I will live
      to tell what the Lord has done.
 18 The Lord has punished me severely,
      but he did not let me die.
 19 Open for me the gates where the righteous enter,
      and I will go in and thank the Lord.
 20 These gates lead to the presence of the Lord,
      and the godly enter there.
 21 I thank you for answering my prayer
      and giving me victory!
 22 The stone that the builders rejected
      has now become the cornerstone.
 23 This is the Lord’s doing,
      and it is wonderful to see.
 24 This is the day the Lord has made.
      We will rejoice and be glad in it.
 25 Please, Lord, please save us.
      Please, Lord, please give us success.
 26 Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
      We bless you from the house of the Lord.
 27 The Lord is God, shining upon us.
      Take the sacrifice and bind it with cords on the altar.
 28 You are my God, and I will praise you!
      You are my God, and I will exalt you!
 29 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
      His faithful love endures forever.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Tale of Two....

We had an interesting thing happen yesterday.  We had a yard sale (for the second week in a row) to get rid of "stuff".  At one point we were in the midst of a family argument about what we were going to sell and what we were NOT going to sell.  (It's hard to see family things sell that we always had but recently never used.  Anyway...)  As we were arguing amongst ourselves two different people came up and quickly left.  There was no way they were going to stay with an argument going on! 
Later on, however, when emotions had calmed and everyone was getting along, another few people came up.  They didn't really buy much.  In fact, we gave them a few things.  They thanked us and left but a few minutes later came back.  Their reason for coming back?  They noticed by some things written on shirts and other places, as well as the kindness they saw and experienced, that our family was different.  They asked if we were Christians to which my husband responded.  Turns out they are too.  They had been looking for a church home and not found one yet.  Jim sadly told them our story and what happened to our church.  They were really saddened and wanted to stay in touch so we exchanged phone numbers.  Hopefully we will get together again with them.
So, the lesson I learned from this....
Churches are like families.  When people visit a church and see people NOT getting along, when they see arguments and fighting and sense tension they will turn and go.  The opposite is also true.  When visitors come to a church and find that the people are kind to each other, that they love each other and those who visit,  when they see that the things written on walls are matched by how the people act towards each other and them, they will come back and ask what's different about them. 
We have a friend who spends a fair amount of time at our house.  The reason?  He feels loved and welcomed and accepted here (and the feeling is mutual) rather than being at his own home where there is tension and "too much drama".  How we treat each other says a lot to those around us. 
It breaks my heart that there are people who have walked away from the church because of what they see in the people.  At this point, I'm almost one of those.  Thankfully there are still some Christians who show grace and kindness and love and understanding.  It's thanks to those people that I will "go back" to church. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Newsweek Article

We read this in Newsweek yesterday and thought it was very apropos.

"Anne Graham Lotz, the second of Billy and Ruth Graham's five children, says it's all right: as long as you have a personal relationship with Jesus, church doesn't really matter. Neither does denomination. "Religion is an impediment to knowing God," says Lotz, who is promoting a new book, The Magnificent Obsession. "Procedures, rituals, creeds: how in the world can they help you connect with God? … If you're sprinkled when you're baptized or dunked when you're baptized, it doesn't matter as far as your salvation goes."

Given her maiden name, you would think that Lotz, an evangelist who travels around the world urging people to come to Jesus, would embody old-fashioned, conservative evangelism. Her father has always strongly advised Christians to attend church; the Billy Graham Evangelistic Asso-ciation Web site tells new Christians to make church a regular part of their lives: "Whatever it meant to you in the past, going to church can now become a rich and rewarding experience."

But like so many other Christians, Lotz, 61, had too many bad experiences in church to believe that God dwells there—and only there. She was kicked out of one church, she says, for insisting on the inerrancy of Scripture. She left another more recently in a fight concerning a new pastor. She soon came to realize that she was a "believer in exile," she says, and for more than a year she wandered from church to church looking for a home. "I've had Christians treat me in a way that is so wrong and so vicious, I realized there's a difference between God's people and God."

Still, conservative Christians have always distanced themselves from progressives by insisting that church—and the adherence to a strict set of doctrines—is a way to derive meaning. And, ultimately, Lotz found her way back there with help from her husband, a strict Southern Baptist. Church may not be necessary to knowing God, she says, but it keeps the relationship going: "You can really love the Lord, but after a while, if you're all by yourself, the fire goes cold."

© 2009

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Maybe this would have helped.... (or not)

Another Lark News classic:


MENLO PARK, Calif. — When Brent Libby started attending Green Valley Baptist church, he was surprised at the icy reception he received.
The reason: the pastor knew all about Libby. He'd read about him on, a website which chronicles bad behavior by local church-goers. Libby's file included a photograph and comments written by his former pastor that said, "Argues with me over minor doctrinal points after every service. Thinks he knows Greek. Not interested in maturing, just debate. Wolf rating: 3."
"This site is our advance warning system," says pastor Jeff Wheeler of Green Valley Baptist. "It's long overdue."
WolfWarning was started in 2006 by a pastor in Corvallis, Ore., who was tired of seeing troublesome Christians bounce from one church to another, causing the same types of problems. The website now has local chapters in 112 cities.

"When pastors hear about this, they latch on real quick," says the founder.
WolfWarning is restricted to members and is full of dossier-like "files" on people who've been identified by a pastor as a wolf. The pastor gives that person a "wolf rating" to indicate how troublesome he or she was. A rating of 1 or 2 means a minor annoyance; 9 and 10 mean a bona fide church-splitter.
Premium members get an alert each time a new wolf is posted.
"It can be addictive," says one pastor who slips out during Sunday morning worship if he sees someone in the audience he suspects of being on WolfWarning.
A perusal of WolfWarning files finds comments that range from "Distracting, flamboyant worship style," to "Always complains, never volunteers," to the more serious "Tries to seduce lonely single mothers." A typical post from January reads, "She prophesies in a harrowing wail, usually at end of worship time. Accuses pastor of quenching spirit if stopped. Wolf rating: 5."

A pastor in Austin recently changed his sermon because he recognized someone from WolfWarning in the pew on Sunday morning. The "wolf" reportedly would join a small group and take over discussions to preach his own version of the prosperity message. The pastor remarked during his sermon that anyone who spoke more than 3 minutes total in their small group meeting was "probably full of pride." He encouraged people to set an egg timer to keep people from going over time.
"That guy never came back to our church," he says. "WolfWarning helped me protect my flock."
Pastors who belong to the growing WolfWarning community adhere to a code of ethics that includes "no ax-grinding," and "no posting until you have honestly tried to shepherd this person for 6 months, or until they leave."

But some don't like the idea of casting aspersions. A pastor in South Lake Tahoe, Calif., refused to join WolfWarning because he thought "it was no way to treat sheep." But within 8 months all the troublemakers in town ended up at his church. He joined WolfWarning and was "golblasted" at how many wolves he recognized.
"I thought we were struggling because I was unspiritual or lazy," he says. "Now I realize I'd created a wolf magnet."
He quickly became the most active member of his local WolfWarning chapter.
"It gave me a new confidence in ministry," he says.

When "wolf" Brent Libby visited Jeff Wheeler of Green Valley Baptist to niggle over a theological point, Wheeler cut to the chase and told Libby he'd been warned about his argumentative spirit. Libby was stunned and angry, but has since reformed. He now debates his ideas in national online chat rooms so not to poison local relationships. He also lobbied to have his file removed from WolfWarning.
"I'm practicing positive behavior," he says. "They've already lowered my wolf rating to 1."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Up From the Ashes - part 2

"The Phoenix is a mythical sacred firebird. Said to live for 500 or 1461 years, the Phoenix is a bird with beautiful gold and red fiery plumage. At the end of its life-cycle the Phoenix builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young Phoenix arises. The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe (hence the expression rising Phoenix-like from ash or ruin), thus being almost immortal and invincible — a symbol of fire and divinity. Although it was also thought that it had tears that produced a healing power (as said in the Harry Potter books)."

There are so many instances of life from death and beauty from ashes. The Phoenix is one example. Another example near and dear to my heart is from my own hometown. I was raised in Exeter, CA where my great grand father, grandparents and later, my parents owned and operated a local Drug Store. It served for decades not only as a Drug Store but local gathering center with its Soda Fountain and hot lunches daily. After my parents retired they sold the building which remained a landmark in the center of town. However, in 1991 a fire destroyed the once beautiful brick building and left a horrendous scar in the middle of town. Shortly after this the town decided to build a park and paint a mural on the remaining brick wall. This was the beginning of what is now one of the most beautiful "painted cities" boasting several murals. Once again, beauty comes from ashes!

In my family's life right now we are experiencing death on several fronts. I fully expect there to be beauty from these ashes because God has promised to work all things together for the good of those who have been called by His name. He turns mourning into dancing. He gives strength for tears. He works everything together for His glory and our ultimate good.
Meanwhile we mourn and we wait, but we wait expectantly for beauty and strength and dancing.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Up From the Ashes

"Every bursted bubble has a glory!
Each abysmal failure makes a point!
Every glowing path that goes astray,
Shows you how to find a better way.
So every time you stumble never grumble.
Next time you'll bumble even less!
For up from the ashes, up from the ashes, grow the roses of success!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses of success!
Oh yes!
Grow the roses!
Those rosy roses!
From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success!
(spoken)Yes I know but he wants it to float. It will!
For every big mistake you make be grateful!
Here, here!
That mistake you'll never make again!
No sir!
Every shiny dream that fades and dies,
Generates the steam for two more tries!
(Oh) There's magic in the wake of a fiasco!
It gives you that chance to second guess!
Oh yes!
Then up from the ashes, up from the ashes grow the roses of success!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses!
Grow the roses of success!
Grow the roses!
Those rosy roses!
From the ashes of disaster grow the roses of success!
Disaster didn't stymie Louis Pasteur!
No sir!
Edison took years to see the light!
Alexander Graham knew failure well; he took a lot of knocks to ring that
So when it gets distressing it's a blessing!
Onward and upward you must press!
Yes, Yes!
Till up from the ashes, up from the ashes grow the roses of success.

From the ashes of disaster, grow the roses of success!"

Who says you can't learn something from "Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang"?