EVERYONE Needed to Be in Bed

Image from memegenerator.net

Let’s have some honest talk about home life. As much as we would love to think our family time at home is a beautiful scene from “The Waltons” or a black and white program, it is farrrrrr from the truth! Some nights are great, but tonight was not one of them. At one point, our 1-year-old was acting the best (parents included). I was looking at the clock around 8:45 pm and exclaimed, “It’s bedtime for everyone!” Did we get there quickly after my shout? No! I’m awake enjoying a quiet house at 11:50 pm and writing.

How many of us get moody? All of us! When we should be understanding and compassionate, our flesh quickly takes control. We have a fight on our hands. That fight is with ourselves.

I have been a parent for almost 16 years and have far from mastered this thing of being a husband and father. I must admit that I was a grouch like the rest. So what do we do when we have days like this?

Pull away if possible! If you can remove yourself from a situation so you can calm down, do it.

Apologize when appropriate! I discovered many years ago that my children respected me for apologizing when I reacted inappropriately.

Forgive yourself and learn from the mistakes! Easier said than done. Nonetheless, we are going to really bomb some days. Learn the lessons and move forward.

Speaking of bed time, I’m headed that way.

Blessed

I must be honest with you. I was dreading today, and it was for totally selfish reasons. It’s not because my Dad is out of the picture. There are so many that have major reasons to dread Father’s Day. I have none of those reasons. For me, this was my first year without my oldest children present. Since their mother and I separated and divorced, they have always been here with me. They did, however, have a good reason for being away. Yesterday, their stepdad had the funeral for his father. My kids loved him dearly, and they needed to be there.

I got up and did my current Sunday morning routine. I woke up, got ready, and left for sound check at 8:00 at church. Both campuses gather for prayer at 9:00, and the start of the service at 9:30 quickly approaches. The lead worship pastor from the main campus joined me today. The people sang out, the message was great, and we went out to eat afterward. My oldest son called, and I engaged in my typical Sunday afternoon ritual – nap time.

The hollering of my little girl woke me up, and I discovered that my wife and the other kids were gone. They came back with my meal preference for the evening, a card from each of them, and a gift from everyone. All I could think was, “I did not have everyone here today, but I’m still blessed with a wonderful family.” The older I get, the more absentee children will become the norm. It’s not that they don’t love me, but they will grow older and more than likely have obligations that keep them away.

Circumstances do not dictate your blessing!

We are so quick to allow circumstances to be the thermostat of our level of blessing. This is a lie from the enemy. The Apostle Paul wrote the book of Philippians from a jail cell and spoke about joy and contentment. If he can do that, I have no excuse. He reminded the Philippian believers that Christ is our Source of joy. Even when all hell is coming against us, we are blessed when we know Christ as our Lord and Savior.

I don’t know where you are in life. You may be in a bad circumstance. Don’t let your circumstance tell you how to feel! Tell your circumstance that you are a blessed child of God. Perspective can make you or break you. Choose to think like the victorious believer you are!

In Awe

Not everyone is an emotional worshiper, but I am. It must be rooted in truth, but that truth will set me on fire. Charity Gayle sang “Amen” with the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, and all I could do was lift a hand and lay here in awe. Chills came over me as I imagined these words in the eternal worship scene of Heaven. Let this song minister to you, and don’t forget to worship along.

Theme Song

I don’t you if you do this, but I have a theme song for different stages in my life. During high school, it was “You Learn” by Alanis Morrisette (an artist you won’t find on any worship team, so this is not an endorsement). When I stepped out of music ministry into the pastorate, it was “My Life Is In Your Hands” by Kathy Troccoli. In this season, I have two – “My Life Is In Your Hands” by Kirk Franklin (recorded by the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir) and “Won’t Stop Now” by Elevation Worship.

I am going to share these songs with you because I believe at least one of my readers needs the message of one, if not both, of these songs. Listen carefully and let the Holy Spirit minister to you.

Latest and Greatest?

Some of you may be wondering if I’m still alive. I used to write frequently, but life happens. Between work and family, I find my mind divided in many ways. Because of my absence, I want to update you on what is happening.

I have sensed that 2019 would be a year of huge transition. Six months in, I am seeing that come to fruition. First, our workplace is facing a HUGE change. This may be one that will change my future with the company. So much is yet to be seen, but I am always one who wants to think ahead.

As I shared with you a few months ago, I had a potential ministry opportunity that did not materialize. It did rekindle my desire to serve vocationally in the local church which led to some inquiries into some ministry possibilities. I met with one committee and knew that was not where God wanted me, but a pastor friend found out about this meeting and called me about helping with their worship ministry. So, I am there at least for the month of June. This church has been through so much. I preached there one Sunday before the merge. It is now the traditional venue for a thriving ministry in our community. I don’t know what the future looks like there, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity.

On the home front, life is good. We’re all getting older. Seriously, I’m thoroughly enjoying watch all these kids grow up. The babies are growing and learning. The older kids are getting busy. One is away at camp for a few days. One is busy with basketball and soon to add volleyball to the list. Another will be busy with football this Summer, while another will most likely be interning at his church at the age of 15 (the age I was when I took my first paid ministry position). Only one of the kids is taking it easy this Summer so she can spend a lot of time with me since she lives with her mother. It can be easy to get lost in all the hectic moments of raising kids, but the joys are sweet.

Stay tuned to see what is next in the book of my life. God is a great story writer. Honestly, I would not have chosen parts of my story. God knows best, and He can use the worst of things to help others. The latest in my life may not always feel like the greatest, but it is when Jesus is at the center.

Death Brings Perspective

About a week and a half ago, I received word that my cousin had a stroke. They removed a blood clot from her brain and were attempting to clear up an infection in order to perform some much-needed heart surgery. Things were very risky. Almost a week later, I received some messages from family saying they were removing the life support and transporting her to a hospice facility. Around 1:00 am this morning, her suffering ended.

I have thought a million things since I received the initial news. The first was that this was my “little cousin”. She was 36 years old. We were almost 2 years apart. I was an only child, she was an only child until she was 8, and our “littler” cousin was an only child who came along when we were 5 and 3. We played together at grandma’s house. Despite the fact that they were both girls, they were always kind (for the most part). We played well together (for the most part). In those early years of life, we were raised more like siblings than cousins. The only benefit was that we got to go home to our parents.

This “little cousin” was now a mother of 3 children. I moved away, and we went different directions in life. Unfortunately, I have not seen her since our grandma’s passing in 2004. Today, she leaves those 3 children, her parents, a brother, sister, and other family and friends behind. If we had our way, we would have kept her here but not in the condition she was in for her last days.

Through this tragedy, I have had the opportunity to be in contact with relatives I have not communicated with in quite some time. Sickness and death have a way of bringing people together like nothing else. The death of someone so young has quite an impact on people. I pray that, through Tabby’s death, people will unite, healing will take place, and people will wake up to the fact that life is short so we better not take one thing for granted.

To close out, I’m going to share some pictures of her and some that include others in the family. This is my tribute to her.

Tabby is on the far right along with me and Suzanna in the middle.
This was before the girls had siblings.
Tabby is in the back with her parents and her little brother,
Jaren, who came along 8 years later.
Tabby is on the far right, now with 2 siblings. My Aunt Christina (second from left) had each child 8 years apart. Ellyza (far left) came along when Tabby was 16.
This picture was taken a while back because Ellyza is now 20.

Highly Sensitive Person Issues: Detaching from Narcissistic People.

Many of us who love to help others are often drawn to the wrong people. If that is you, please read this post by Dalton.

Dalton Theo Smith

Are you tired of being hurt by selfish people who misuse and abuse your good-hearted nature? Are you the one always giving, but never receiving anything but hurtful behaviour in return? You might have been wounded by a narcissist and need to learn to protect yourself from their emotional games.

A narcissist is a self-absorbed individual who believes they are superior to other people. In their world, they are always right and they’re only concerned about meeting their own needs.

Narcissists are attracted to my INFJ personality, the spiritual gift of mercy and highly sensitive nature.

I have noticed a trend in my life. The narcissistic people would be attracted to me because they see me as someone they can control. They knew I will never challenge them because I am mister nice guy. I was their punching bag and they spoke to me as if I was garbage. I…

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Refueling

For the last several months, I have posted a lot less than normal. Honestly, I’m in a season where I don’t feel like I have much to give in the area of writing. I could flood this blog with worthless posts, but I don’t see any use in wasting my time or yours. I sit down with the intent of writing, only to find myself reading the writings of others. To put it simply, it is time I refuel my tank.

Many of us spend so much time giving of ourselves that we do not refuel the tank. We do not take the time to feed our minds and souls. It is important that we take that necessary time. So, I find myself more frequently taking the listen to listen (or in this case read) what God gives others. That’s the joy of the blogging experience. Time would not allow me to name the many great bloggers who bless me with their content. I’m so thankful.

Is your tank empty? Do you find yourself with little to give? It might be time to refuel.

The Desires of Your Heart

Many of us have a distorted view in relation to receiving our own desires. While some propose that we deserve everything what we want, the Bible gives a prescribed formula. Psalm 37:4 says that the requirement for receiving the desires of our hearts is for us to delight in the Lord. When we delight in the Lord, our desires align with His perfect will.

I must say that I have received the desires of my heart frequently, but it has often been for the wrong reasons. I can assure you I was not delighting in the Lord. I was delighting in my selfish pleasure and desire for personal gain. God allowed me to have what I wanted, but it came with a lesson and sometimes long-lasting consequences.

I have also discovered that some of my desires were not bad, but they were not God-given. Preaching is something I am passionate about, but that does not mean I am supposed to pastor a church or plant one. I have done all of the above. There are aspects I have enjoyed, but these are not for the faint of heart. I am passionate about music and worship, but many modern churches don’t have a fit for someone like me. That may be changing.

I have been contemplating the desires of my heart for the last several months. In fact, I have been assessing many things over the last several months. I have asked myself if my ability to preach was something that is a God-given gift or something a bunch of grannies lied and told me I’m good at. I have asked myself if I was pastor material since my church planting effort did not end as well as I would have liked. I have also asked myself if my musical ability was in my head. I guess, in these cases, “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure”. I had to interject some humor, while there is some truth to that.

I do know that I began to desire church ministry again early this year. I applied for a church that was way out of my comfort zone. It was very clear that God was not leading in that direction, but I met some really great people. I met with another church, and God clearly revealed that I was not the man for the job. I knew I would go into that and be a horrible fit. A most recent opportunity opened without me looking. The month of June will reveal what God is doing there. More info to come!

A final thing – I have wanted to be a consultant for smaller churches that were looking for some help in various ministry areas. Not the kind of “know it all” consultant who comes from out of town with a briefcase and has no idea of how to connect principles to a particular context, but someone who can take the principles and help churches apply them to their individual context. This is a rare find. It looks as if God is affording me an opportunity tomorrow night to explore a situation that I was contacted about last week. It is a very unique situation, but I should know this week if I can be of help in their context.

At the end of the day, the one thing I know is that you and I should be available to God. A guest speaker at church this morning said something along the line of “Your will, Your way, Your timing”. I honestly struggle with that, but God is reminding me to remain surrendered and available. God has so often taken available people who had some raw talent and multiplied their ability. As the game of my life is coming to the end of the second quarter, this is my prayer – God, take what little bit I have and multiply it for Your glory!

An Unusual Mother’s Day

I must say that Sunday, May 12, 2019, was the most unusual Mother’s Day I have ever experienced. I am accustomed to attending a morning worship service and maintaining the typical Sunday structure. Yesterday defied it completely.

The day began with me going to my Mom’s to pick up my Dad so I could meet up with the person with whom he rode down here. FYI, my parents are still married but live in separate states…it works beautifully that way. And, yes, my Dad stays at my Mom’s when he comes to town. Now I will proceed. I left at 10:00 am to take my Dad to his destination and returned around 1:00 pm. I picked up lunch and took it to my Mom’s so we could spend some time together on Mother’s Day. I could not stand the thought of not attending a worship service, so we attending a church that meets at 4:00 pm. Here is where I saw a church that looks a little more like what Christ intended.

This church started in 2014 with a goal to reach people that other churches would not touch. It has accomplished its goal. When you walk into the room, you will find people who have very little to their name, no church background, and some who are homeless. They sing worship songs to the top of their lungs and cheer on the pastor to where he can’t help but preach. They provide food each week for those who need it and meet various needs. It’s a beautiful thing. A struggling ministry in the area reached out to this church and offered its assets. These are exciting times.

After encountering this taste of Heaven, my wife, mother in law, and the kids went out to eat. The day ended with the normal chaos of trying to get kids in bed.

While we have our ideas of how schedules should go, God has other plans. These plans are far sweeter. Don’t get so busy scheduling and organizing that you fail to leave room for the Holy Spirit to work.