We Leave Things Out

Posted by on Tuesday, Apr 18, 2017 in Blog | 1 comment

When my kids were toddlers, Steve and I presented each of them in a what our faith tradition called a baby dedication. Many bible churches enact baby dedication instead of baby baptism. Baptism is saved for when the child is of age to declare Jesus as their Savior. Baby dedications are rooted in Deuteronomy 6:4-7 and in the fact that Mary and Joseph dedicated Jesus at the Temple. On a Baby Dedication Sunday we would take our child on stage alongside other parents and their children. The pastor would lead the parents and congregation through a ceremony of commitment to raise our children in God’s Word and in his ways. The pastor might say something like; “In 1 Samuel 1 Hannah presented her son to the Lord. In Luke 2:22 we read Mary and Joseph brought Jesus to the temple to present him before the Lord. In the same way, Jackie and Steve bring Hunter to be presented before the Lord our God and commit to raising Hunter in God’s Word and ways.” It was a lovely time, a moment when as a parent you felt full of hope and anticipation for your child’s future. Then I read Luke 2:22-35, once again surprised that Scripture isn’t as sanitized as we’ve made it. Then it was time for their purification offering, as required by the law of Moses after the birth of a child; so his parents took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord… At that time there was a man in Jerusalem named Simeon. He was righteous and devout and was eagerly waiting for the Messiah to come and rescue Israel. The Holy Spirit was upon him and had revealed to him that he would not die until he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. That day the Spirit led him to the Temple. So when Mary and Joseph came to present the baby Jesus to the Lord as the law required, Simeon was there. He took the child in his arms and praised God, saying,  “Sovereign Lord, now let your servant die in peace,     as you have promised. I have seen your salvation,     which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations,     and he is the glory of your people Israel!” Jesus’ parents were amazed at what was being said about him. Simeon then blessed them, and he said to Mary, the baby’s mother, “This child is destined to cause many in Israel to fall, and many others to rise. He has been sent as a sign from God, but many will oppose him. As a result, the deepest thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your very...

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Living the Blessed Life

Posted by on Monday, Apr 10, 2017 in Blog | 0 comments

I never heard it growing up. It just wasn’t a saying. I heard it when I moved to Dallas. You’ve heard it, too – Blessed. We Christians use it often. “They have a blessed life.” “I’ve lived a blessed life.” I googled images of “blessed life.” Here’s a sample of what pops up. I’ve been noodling on the birth of Jesus in Luke. There I tripped over Mary’s words in the Magnificat, specifically the ones where she proclaims that she’s blessed and that God has done great things for her. And I’m wondering, as I noodle over the meaning of her life if I’ve minimized the meaning of blessed. What exactly are we referring to when we say “our life is blessed?” That we are financially ok…that our relationships are in a good place…that our health is holding up? The more and more I read Scripture the more I realize how unsanitized it is, how what we say or think isn’t what’s being said through the lives of those of whom the Scriptures speak. Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. (Luke 1:46-49) I’ve spent the week noodling on Mary’s life. The events that Scripture reveals about her. As I’ve pondered I’ve increasingly wondered how she could say, “God did great things for her?” Mary got pregnant by the Holy Spirit. (That’s freaky!) She could have faced death by stoning for the pregnancy. (That’s scary!) There was a time of tension over it with Joseph. (How awkward was that conversation?) She lived in a shame/honor culture. Where her parents ashamed? What about the community? Did they mock her? Leave her out? Say mean things to her? Her reputation, the most valuable possession a woman had, was on the line. While very pregnant she traveled on a donkey. (Ouch.) She gave birth in a cave with animals. (Smells. Need I say more?) She had no other woman present for the delivery. No mother, sister, or aunt to look her in the eye and help her navigate this painful experience. Herod’s threat forced her to go on the run. She left her home and friends. Some of those friends she left behind lost their sons on account of hers. Don’t blow past that. When I had my 2-year-old son Hunter, we had playdates with other 2-year-olds. And us moms would make them PB&Js and chat while the kids played. What was it like to leave...

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I Didn’t Want To Be A Mother

Posted by on Wednesday, Jul 6, 2016 in Blog | 2 comments

I never wanted to be a mother. I wasn’t one of those girls who fantasized about the man I would marry or the house I would live in. I never really gave much thought to having kids. To be really honest, I am not a very nurturing person (you can ask my oldest son for confirmation!), and yet at age 22 I found myself married and two years later gave birth to my first-­born. I showed up at the hospital with minor cramps and some bleeding. The nurse was concerned. It turned out I was 9 centimeters dilated. Hunter was born an hour after my arrival. It was fast. I was in shock. I’ll never forget when they put him on my belly. I was told I’d have instantaneous love ­- I didn’t! What did that say about me? Hunter came home from the hospital colicky, crying all the time and never sleeping. I felt guilty because I didn’t love this, and everyone said I would. What was wrong with me? I came from a big family so the idea of having an only child was not an option. Even though I didn’t want children, the ball was rolling so I might as well keep going. I nursed Hunter for 10 months (Did I mention I didn’t enjoy nursing?) then I stopped nursing. The 11th month I found myself pregnant with my second child. That became the rhythm -­ nurse, stop nursing, and get pregnant. By the time I was 28, I had three kids 3 1⁄2 and under. I’m not going to lie. It was harder than hell. When Hunter turned one, we had moved from NY (where our extended families lived) to Dallas (where we knew no one). Being locked up in a small apartment with three little ones, no friends, no financial cushion, no car, no idea how to mother or to be a Christian woman ­- it was not my idea of ‘the good life!” I hated it. I didn’t hate my kids; I just hated the whole concept of what it meant to mother. It would take a while to put aside my understanding of “the ideal mother” and embrace God’s design for my mothering. See, I had a fabulous mother; she was my example of what it meant to be a good mother. Mom mothered us 4 kids and another boy who lived with us. She cooked three meals a day from scratch. We grew all our food, we raised cattle and pigs, and we canned for the winter. My mom sewed our clothes and knitted us slippers and mittens. She was known to secretly sneak stuff to people who were in need....

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Burnout & My Rhythm

Posted by on Tuesday, Jun 28, 2016 in Blog | 5 comments

I have often been asked how I keep my “work” and “spiritual” lives separate? There are questions behind that question. How do I keep a vital spiritual life when constantly pouring out? How does one step away from the needs and demands in order to restore? How does one keep the Person of Jesus Christ as the center rather than “ministry work”? (Yes, they can be one in the same, and they cannot be, too! 1 Timothy 4:16 warns “watch your life and your doctrine.” A counselor gave that verse to me during a “burnout” period in my ministry. I didn’t know I was burning out; I just knew I was having a harder time coping with the demands of ministry and life. Upon describing what I was experiencing, my counselor informed, “You’re struggling with burnout.” I had no idea what burnout was, so I went home and almost burned out on researching burnout. Type A temperament showing. Turned out the stress from work and life was like carrying around 10 lbs. of sugar in a 5 lb. bag. It was too much. Being a pastor and a pastor’s wife meant my support system was limited. You can carry more stress if you have a strong support system. (That’s why Scripture calls us to “carry one another’s burdens.” Galatians 6:2) Dr. Barnes told me I needed to “get rid of some sugar.” It’s not so easy to do. How do you “get rid” of a difficult child, or strong husband, or a job, or a broken back, or…? There didn’t seem to be much I could remove. He also asked me to consider what my underlining motivators were that caused me to carry around too much sugar. (It’s a great question we should all be asking ourselves.) After much time in prayer and examination, I realized I had three: I can do it. I can do it better than most. If I don’t, she will go undeveloped. By the way, they are true. I can do a lot. I was raised working, my plate is big, and I’m pretty capable. (Don’t worry, I’m not bragging. I’m just taking Paul’s words to heart when he called us to have an accurate assessment of the self. Romans 12:3) I also can do specific things better than most, mostly because of the Spirit’s gifting and because I’ve taken years in becoming skilled in specific areas. So it’s not bragging to say, “I’m pretty damn good at that.” In fact I think it’s time for women in particular to own up to their giftings (and yes, I know God is the one who gives it!) And most women will go untrained. Statistics state...

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This Is Different Than the Others

Posted by on Tuesday, Jun 30, 2015 in Blog | 12 comments

If someone had told my wild child teenage self that on August 16th I would stand in a pulpit and preach at a church in my hometown I would have laughed in her face. Me? The girl with four siblings who grew up in Oneonta, New York, working on a farm without a clue about who God was? Never! And yet, on August 16th I will do just that. It’s not the first time I’ve preached in a church but it is the first time I’ve preached at this particular church – and this particular church is different from any other place I’ve preached. Not because it’s liturgical or because it’s Presbyterian (my theological training is more in the vain of Bible/Baptist church world). It isn’t different because it’s small, (30- 50 attendees on a good day) and I am used to preaching to the mega church world in Dallas. It’s different because it was founded by my great-great grandfather, Rev. James Frazier. Back in 1887 he founded the First United Presbyterian Church. But somewhere between the founding of that church and my upbringing – faith was lost. It seems my great great grandfather’s faith skipped my grandfather and didn’t stick on my father either. (Although my dad has come to know Jesus in his later years, yay!) But growing up I wasn’t exposed to faith, Jesus or Church. In fact I don’t recall even knowing any Christians. God was a non entity. Until I went to college where a friend shared Christ. I ended up going to seminary and somehow, and it’s a long story, ended up being a preacher in the conservative evangelical church. I’ve often wondered why my great great grandfather’s faith didn’t stick. Why was there this darkness for decades? Generations later faith seemed lost in our family tree. In the Book of Judges we read where faith can be extinguished in a short period of time – just a generation or two.  “The people served Yahweh throughout the lifetime of Joshua and throughout the lifetime of those elders who outlived Joshua and had known all the great deeds which Yahweh had done for the sake of Israel. … And when that whole generation had been gathered to its ancestors, another generation followed it which knew neither Yahweh nor the deeds which he had done for the sake of Israel.” (Judges 2:7-10) Somewhere between 1887 and my upbringing faith ceased – or so it seemed. But God. On August 16th I’m going to stand in the very same pulpit as my great great grandfather and preach from the Scripture. It gives me hope. Hope that faith may skip a generation or two but it can’t be...

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